Swimsuit Season Is Upon Us…

If you are one of the few people that looks forward to swimsuit season then hooray! I am happy for you! But if you are like me and aren’t so in love with it then read on, maybe you feel or have felt just like me.

So I was NEVER comfortable in my own skin, honestly NEVER. Okay well maybe when I was a little kid and didn’t know any different but the time of my life that I can remember, well I haven’t been very comfortable with me.

I have always hated swimming suits because they exposed too much of me, I couldn’t cover up or hide my body and I just didn’t like that. I don’t remember wanting to swim much as a teenager unless you count the water aerobics classes early in the morning at the rec center with all the old grandmas. I just stayed away from the pool. Honestly, I was even self conscious at home just getting in and out of our hot tub. Sad I know. But hey, we are all friends here and I am just telling it how it was…is?

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I always had a swimsuit because sometimes you just can’t avoid it completely and have to put one on. I always opted for one that was pretty much a suit covered by a long piece of fabric, they called it a skirt but it was different than the skirts I see today, and it came down mid thigh. I would have been more than happy if it came mid calf! Even though once I was wet it clung to me, I at least felt a little more comfortable when dry and it didn’t show off everything.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I have lost a lot of weight, work out a lot and am in the best shape of my life. Yet I still am not completely comfortable in a suit. Luckily for me board shorts are the thing and they are even making some that are a little longer and I am a little more comfortable. Although I will admit that every time I am at the pool and see girls/women in just their suit, no shorts, I am super jealous. Their bodies aren’t perfect either yet they don’t seem to mind. I am always envious of them and want to know how they are able to do that!

Fast forward even more and I am married to an amazing guy that knows my body issues and is always there to boost me up when I am feeling a little down. We went on a belated honeymoon cruise after being married for a few months. We were going to a couple places in the Caribbean and that meant lots of beach and pool time and I needed to get a couple of swim suits. I ordered so many, SO many. Tried on probably two dozen and wasn’t in love with the way I looked in any of them but found two that were ok. I didn’t want to have to spend the money on a couple pairs of board shorts so that I wouldn’t always have to wear the one pair that was wet. So I told Rob my goal was to go sans shorts. Just my swimming suit and that’s it, no shorts to cover up anything. And you know what? I did it! I only wore shorts or a cover-up getting on or off the boat and when we were just walking around! But if we were in the water I wore just my suit! And you know what, people weren’t staring at me. No one was laughing or pointing. It was really hard the first day or two but gradually got easier. I know to some of you that may seem like a small accomplishment but to me it was HUGE!

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(I can’t believe I am actually putting pictures on here of me in a swimsuit, yikes!!)

Fast forward two years and we were taking Olivia to Seven Peaks for her first time swimming. I know it’s pathetic, our little girl was a year old before we took her swimming! Anyway, I was excited to take her but a little anxious about putting on a swimsuit. I decided I was keeping the shorts on, I just couldn’t go without. Olivia loved it, she is in heaven in water and we had a lot of fun watching her figure out what to do in the water. When we were done I quickly pulled off the wet shorts and pulled on my cover-up so that I was a little less wet. And in those 10 seconds it took to do all of that I felt embarrassed. I wished I could have pulled that cover up down even faster. The whole rest of the day I was in a little bit of a funk because of it.

And when I say a little bit of a funk, I actually mean I was a little bit depressed. It was hard for me to be confident in my body when I was working out a lot and working out hard. Now that I have a baby and my workouts consist of walks and short workouts I can squeeze in before she wakes up. My body may appear the same size was as it was before I was pregnant but it’s a little softer than I would like it to be. Okay, it is a lot softer. I don’t feel as strong as I used to and I miss that. I used to be able to do a Spin class for an hour and it didn’t kill me. Now I do a 15 minute cardio workout at home and feel like I just might die. Change is hard, real hard. It’s hard to adapt and get used to a new normal.

But I don’t want to hate my body and because of that have a daughter that grows up hating hers. So my goal for the summer is to work a little harder and get back to the point of where I can be comfortable in just my swimming suit again. So keep tabs on me, by the end of this summer that is where I want to be. I want to be confident again. I want to be confident in my new body that was able to grow a healthy baby. That is what matters. Not that I used to be able to go out and bike 1o0 miles. I grew a baby and that is amazing and even if it kills me I will figure out how to be confident!

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I hear people complain about people they see at the pool. People they don’t think should be wearing a bikini, people that should cover up more, people that really should put a pair of shorts on. You know what I think though, you go girl! If you love your body and are comfortable without a pair of shorts on with your suit or want to don a bikini then do it! I am envious of you and will cheer you on…but please please please come and tell me your secret! Until then, I am going to keep working on it and maybe one of these days I will get back to that point…

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Cheesy Caprese Bread

This is one of our favorite things to make when we happen to have fresh basil on hand. It’s a super easy side for dinner. We love to eat it along with a salad, pasta or soup!

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Cheesy Caprese Bread

1 loaf bread (you want a more dense bread like French or Sourdough)
Mozzarella cheese
Tomatoes
Basil
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Place on a sprayed cookie sheet and cover both sides of the bread with mozzarella. You can put as little or as much as you like, we like lots! Place in the oven and bake until cheese is melted and bread is toasty, about 15-20 minutes).

While bread is in the oven slice tomatoes and chop basil.

When bread is done, pull from the oven. Place tomatoes on top of cheese and then sprinkle basil. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar or glaze. Balsamic has a strong flavor so start with less and you can add more if you want. Cut into slices and enjoy warm.

It never matters how much we make, it still is never enough. Warm and cheesy yet fresh tasting from the tomatoes and basil. It is the best in the summer when you can use tomatoes straight out of the garden. Yum.

 

 

 

 

If You Knew My Story

I haven’t heard of the Broadway show Bright Star, it’s a new one this year. But I saw a link posted to a song from it and I listened to it thought this song is awesome, I have to find the lyrics. Listen to the whole thing here…

If you knew my story you’d have a hard time
Believing me, you’d think I was lying
Joy and sorrow never last
I’ll die trying not to live in the past
If you knew my story
My heaven and my hell
If you knew my story
You’d have a good story to tell

As I head the first part of the song I thought that is so me. People see me now, see my exterior and immediately make assumptions about who I am and what I have been through. I have had people tell me that I have it “easy”. That I have the “perfect life”. That I am thin and don’t understand what people go through. I can eat whatever I want and not worry about it. That I am so lucky that I don’t have anything hard to deal with. That I just don’t understand.

Sometimes when I hear these things from people I think wow, do you even know me at all?!? Do you know the hard times, the depression, the self loathing and hating. The tears. Do you know how HARD I have worked and how it is still a battle every. single. day. Maybe if you really took a minute to really get to know me you would see that we aren’t that different. Just because I have had some victories in some areas of my life doesn’t mean I am not struggling with things that come easy to you. Every day is still a struggle.

But I really will die trying not to live in the past. The past was the past and I daily am working to move past it. I want to get to the point where I look in the mirror and see me. Not the hair that has all sorts of lengths to it because I lost so much hair after having a baby. I don’t want to see the skin that isn’t perfect and has a few too many wrinkles in it. The huge bags under my eyes. The skin that was stretched out from being over weight and then stretched again from carrying a baby and I will forever have to be trying to suck it in. The fat in some areas that regardless of what I have done will never go away. That I will always jiggle a little more than I would like. That someday I can get rid of my “fat person brain”.

I guess that is why I want you to know my story, all of you. I want to tell it so that I can move past it. I want to tell it so that someone else who may feel all alone in their struggles will realize that they aren’t. I want to learn to love my body and all of it’s imperfections. I have come a long way in that aspect but it is still a work in progress. Probably always will be. But every single day when I watch that perfect baby girl come toddling towards me with the biggest open mouth grin, so excited and proud of herself because she is figuring out how to walk, I want to be grateful for my body and all of it’s imperfections. I carried a baby for 9 months (and 6 days) and was able to do so without a problem. I want to think of my stretch marks and extra skin as my battle wounds. They are proof that my body is tough, a reminder of where I was and of where I am now. I want to feel the excitement for my body that my little girl does as she figures out how to make hers work like she wants it to. It really is impossible to spend even ten minutes with her and not feel great about life.

Me I’m not alone
Tell me I’m not alone
Many backs have broken from lesser weight I know
I was born to carry more than I can hold
Even though I’ll stumble
Even though I’ll fall
You’ll never see me crumble
You’ll never see me crawl

I know that some of you might read this and think I am silly. That I shouldn’t worry about some of the things I do. Maybe you think that your struggles are much worse than mine and I should stop complaining about my lesser struggles. Our struggles are each our own and what is easy for one may be the hardest thing for another. But the important thing is we were made to carry more than we can hold. Don’t forget that. And you definitely will see me stumble and fall as I share more things with you but you will also see me get right back up and be stronger because of it. I may not be as tough as I want to be but I NEVER want to go back to feeling the way that I used to. If I can just be a little stronger today than I was yesterday than today was a success. It may be a minuscule amount but as long as it is there then it was a success.

Cheese-steak Panini Melt

I set a new record! I cooked more nights in one week last week than I have since Olivia was born…almost 13 months ago! I know, it’s sad and pathetic but when you have a hubby that usually isn’t home for dinner and you are starving and you just so happen to love a good peanut butter sandwich, well why would you cook? I don’t know if it was the abundance of good produce in our fridge and the desire to use up stuff in our big chest freezer before it becomes lost in the freezer burned depths thereof but somehow it happened. I had an idea in my head and figured it would be edible but I was SO happy when I took that first bite because it was SO delicious! Rob ate a version of it for dinner the next day and loved it and then we ate it again on Sunday, 3 days in a row, that’s when you know it is good. Because me and leftovers, I don’t usually mind them for a day but they just aren’t my favorite. PB&J is about the only thing I will eat for days on end, everything else, not so much.

Anyway, try this out. Super easy to get on the table in about 30 minutes. I even prepped the meat and veggies while Olivia was taking a nap so I just had to cook it, super fast!

First of all cut up onion, bell peppers (I used orange, red and green) and mushrooms. I did them in bite size chunks. I wanted them small enough that I could get all of them in a bite, I wanted all the flavors at once. Through it in a frying pan and cook to your liking. I like to cook them on medium high heat so they get some nice browning but stay a little tender crisp.

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I don’t have a picture but when you are cutting everything up slice up some steak or chicken in thin strips and then into bite sized pieces. I found two little steaks in the depths of our freezer so that is what I used. Have that cooking in another pan while the veggies are cooking. Once they are both cooked turn off the heat, combine them all in one pan, and mix them all together.

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Take two pieces of bread, put on some cheese (mozzarella was delicious!), a nice layer of the meat and veggies and you now just have to cook it!

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I cooked ours in our panini grill the first night, I love that grill and used it almost every day. You can get them pretty cheap and they are one of my top kitchen gadgets to have!

When Rob took his for dinner I was worried if I made a panini when I cooked mine that the meat and veggies would make it soggy by the next night when he ate it. So I sent him with all the components separate. He toasted the bread, heated up the veggies/meat in the microwave and then put it all together. He said it was a little messy but really tasty.

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The third time we went to have these I plugged in the panini grill while I put them together, opened the lid of the grill and it was COLD! The lights were on but apparently it died on me. I had that thing for 10+ years so I guess i can’t complain but we were hungry so I improvised. I put them in a frying pan on medium low heat so that they wouldn’t brown before the cheese melted and put a lid on it to help out with that. I had microwaved the meat/veggies so it wasn’t an issue of getting those heated through. Once the bottom side was browned I flipped them over and left the lid off. I got out a smaller frying pan and smashed them down a little bit so that the meat would stick to the cheese and not fall out when we tried to eat them. This way worked perfectly!

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Give it a try, it is a relatively healthy meal (depending on how much cheese you put on!). You get some good protein from the meat and lots of yummy veggies in there. Let me know if you try it out, this one will be on our dinner rotation for sure!

 

Then And Now…Part 2

Getting married 5 days before I turned 33 meant we didn’t want to wait a long time to have kids. Olivia joined us after we had been married just over 14 months. My BIGGEST concern and fear about having a baby was that all of my hard work would be undone. I cried to Rob many a times about my paranoia that I would get pregnant and gain tons of weight and not be able to lose it. It was SO hard to lose weight the first time that I was so scared of having to do it again. But having a family was what I wanted more than anything so I was willing to take that risk…

The summer of 2007 when I had moved home after graduating from UVSC was when I got addicted to Spin class. I will talk more another time on why that is such a great workout but it was my drug of choice. I moved to Utah at the end of the summer and joined the Rec Center and was lucky that they had classes there. I would go in the evening after work and enjoyed the classes and was pretty good at going 3-4 times a week. But it was really easy to not go. I would be too tired, I would have stayed longer at work, there would be an activity with the singles ward or my friends would be doing something. Too many reasons to not go. One day a lightning bolt hit me (not sure why I hadn’t thought of this before) and I remembered that the gym had early morning classes for Spin. I have a really hard time sleeping and usually wake up super early in the morning so I figured it was something good to do with my time. I would get up at 4:30 in the morning (yes I know, I am crazy!) three days a week and 5 a.m. two days a week. These classes were much more intense than the evening ones. I had some incredible teachers and loved the workouts I was getting. I felt SO good after working out in the morning. There was another awesome perk from these morning workouts. When I had gone in the evenings the other people there were always changing, there would be a handful that I would see for awhile but then they would stop coming. But it takes a certain level of craziness to get up so early in the morning to come and work out and the majority of the class was regulars. I got to know so many amazing people and have made a lot of great friends from those classes. People that wanted to know how life was and checked up on me when I was sick. It was awesome. These people came to my wedding reception and baby shower, we all kind of became family.

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I had been consistently going to Spin class for 7 years when I got pregnant. I had no idea how sick I would or wouldn’t get. How exhausted I would be. If Spin was something I was allowed to do. I knew that mentally I needed an intense workout. My body just craves that. I don’t need that every day but at least a couple times a week I really need a good hard workout. Luckily when I asked my doctor about sticking with Spin she was very enthusiastic about it! She said to keep working out just as much as I had been but to make sure I listened to my body and as my stomach got bigger to make sure I wasn’t taking it a little easier. But Spin was fine as long as I felt ok doing it. She told me that continuing working out through my pregnancy that my pregnancy would be easier and delivery and recovery would be easier.

The first one is at 5 months and the last the week Olivia was born.

You guys I really am crazy…I still went to Spin. Every. Single. Day. 5 times a week and only didn’t go maybe a couple of times. I even went on the day I went into labor with Olivia. Now I know I don’t have any other pregnancies to compare this one to and know that every pregnancy is different for every woman but for me I KNOW that this made all the difference. I only gained 22 pounds during my pregnancy and lost those quickly afterwards. Although losing that weight quickly may have had a lot to do with me being stressed with a baby in the NICU. I know working out like this isn’t going to happen for everyone but I am a firm believer in the fact that if you stay active while pregnant it will make things easier in the long run.

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While I was pregnant I had every intention of going back to Spin. Like I said, I need a good hard workout and figured if I could at least get that two times a week I would be ok. Mentally and physically. But then Olivia came and no one was sleeping and everyone was in zombie mode. We went on lots of walks. Lots and lots of walks in the sweltering heat because I just needed to be active. When Olivia was 2 months old she randomly slept through the night and I randomly woke up at 5 in the morning and felt rested so I thought why not go to Spin class? Guess how many times I have gone back since then? My baby is going on 13 months and I have not gone back a single time! Not once! It kind of breaks my heart to say that because I loved it so much but for me in my life right now it just isn’t what is right. We even let our gym membership expire because we hadn’t used it in months and months.

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So I used to be a big advocate of the gym. There are so many classes and exercise machines and weights available that it just makes it easy. But guess what, I am now more so than ever a huge advocate of workouts you can do at home. I get that you don’t have the time or the money or don’t live near a gym. I totally understand not wanting to wake up before the sun is up. I SO get that. It used to be easy but now if Olivia is asleep I just want to sleep. It’s been a hard transition for me. I got over the anxiety of gaining back all I had lost while pregnant but now have to deal with the anxiety of gaining it back because I am not active enough. But over the past year I have found ways to deal with that. We go on lots and lots of walks. I have found some awesome DVDs and workouts online that I love. (I will be sharing those in the future.) But I have changed my mentality and made it work right now. It’s hard and I still struggling mentally on days where I haven’t worked out. I worry that everything I am eating is just going to stick to me. But it’s a process and I am working on being ok with all of that.

And yes, I am paranoid about next time I am pregnant because I don’t do Spin anymore and have another child. But I know whatever it is I am able to do will make a big difference and hopefully I can be just as healthy with that pregnancy as I was with my first.

It’s been quite the journey this past year. I went from being really strong and having incredible endurance to now. I may look the same size and can still wear my pre-pregnancy clothes but under there things are a lot more squishy. I never had visible ab muscles but I could feel them under there and now I am not sure where they are hiding. My legs that used to be so strong are still strong but a little less and a little more flabby. My arms are probably the only thing that hasn’t suffered because they have had to lug around a car seat with a baby in and now a 22 pound baby! It’s hard. Life throws things at you and it’s hard to make changes and accommodations even when the thing being thrown at you is a beautiful baby girl. But you can make it work. It takes time and it will happen little by little but keep it up. Heaven knows if I can slowly figure things out and make them work then anyone else can. The journey is all part of it and as we know as soon as you figure it out it changes! Roll with it, you’ve got this!

Summer Is The Best Time

Summer really is the best time to get your healthy eating on track. Don’t get me wrong, I love the winter squash and apples and oranges a lot but there is something about summer and the produce that it brings that makes me so happy.

This is a great time of year to try out new fruits and vegetables. Never been a huge fan of zucchini? I bet I have a recipe for you that would make you enjoy it. I can’t guarantee you will love zucchini but at least tolerate it? Peas, green beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers…oh man I can’t wait for it all to be at it’s peak!

And fruit, don’t get me started on fruit. I struggle getting my servings of veggies in every day but I NEVER struggle getting enough fruit. I usually eat it with my cereal…75% fruit and 25% cereal is what I often end up with. I eat it with every meal, I pretty much eat it all day long. Whenever I am feeling hungry during the day I often turn to fruit. And a big bowl of watermelon is often the end to my day.

There are so many things you can do to make it fun to try new veggies and fruits. Hit up a Farmers Market. Those of you in Utah County, there is a great one in Provo at the park on 500 West and Center Street. It runs every Saturday from now through the summer. So much produce at great prices and the guy that sells tamales, yum! (The tamales, not the old guy!) Take your family, let your kids help pick veggies out. If they are part of the process they are more likely to try them.

There is also a great one in Salt Lake. It is in Pioneer Park and that one is HUGE! You have to park far away unless you are willing to pay a lot for parking but it is so worth the crowd and the heat. Half the park is food and the other half is artsy crafty stuff. There are great restaurants with booths set up where you can eat an awesome lunch. There are bakeries with breads to try and farms with fresh cheese and honey. And so much produce. Pretty much anything you can think of you can find there. We try to go once a summer and love it! Hit up Bruges Waffles and Frites right across the street on the north side from the park. It’s tiny and there is nowhere to sit in side but it has the best authentic Belgian Waffles and Frites w/Aioli that you will ever eat!

We also live in a great area in Utah County for fruit. There are so many local farms where you can go and pick fruit (and produce) for a great price. We love to go pick raspberries and make our own freezer jam, freeze them in baggies for granola or oatmeal in the winter and just be able to eat them by the handful. I can’t wait to take Olivia this year and make that a family tradition. The  best part is you can eat as many as you want while you pick! There are also great places to pick pears, peaches, cherries, pretty much anything you can think of! Yeah it requires a little effort of picking it but it is cheaper than the store, tastes so much better and it is all about the experience! Make it a tradition for your family each summer.

Now don’t think I am telling you to live off of fruits and vegetables because that isn’t what I am saying. Just see how many new things you can try and how often you can incorporate them into a meal. Try to have one at every meal. It can be something as simple as a green salad on the side with lots of veggies. Or fire up the grill and put zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onions along with steak or chicken or shrimp on skewers and have kabobs. My favorite summer meal growing up was tomato sandwiches, corn on the cob and tomato pepper salad. (Tomatoes, peppers, onions all in chunks and add vinegar, oil and salt and pepper, yum!) Our go to dinner on days when we have had a bigger lunch is corn on the cob and watermelon.

Build snacks for you and your kids around fruits and veggies. Try adding a little protein to make them more substantial. Veggies with hummus to dip them in. Grapes and cheese and pretzels. Apple and peanut butter. Celery sticks with peanut butter. Cottage cheese and fruit. Or my latest love with cottage cheese is cucumber sliced in circles. Use the cucumber like a spoon and eat them together!

So take this challenge and set a goal to try new things this summer. If you need suggestions of how to use things or recipes to try let me know! It really is easy to incorporate more healthy things into our diets, so give it a shot. Do it for your kids if that is what it takes! Let me know if you try anything new and amazing or know of any great places to find produce!

Go Shopping!

This one will be pretty short because this momma is EXHAUSTED. Seriously, I am sooooo tired and haven’t slept in just about a week. No joke. 12 month immunizations and teething meant fevers and waking up crying every thirty minutes all. night. long. After a few nights of that poor baby girl got croup but because her cousin had it last weekend we knew what to watch for. We had her in the doctor’s office and a steroid shot within about an hour of symptoms showing up. Wheezing and a barking cough and crying all day long and back in the doctor’s office today for a second steroid shot. He said she should be on the mend from here and we are sure praying she is. It is so sad and so scary to see her struggling to breath and be so completely miserable.

So I am all ready for bed. I would have probably crashed about 8 p.m. but I had 5 loads of laundry that really really needed to be folded and a kitchen that looks like a bomb blew up. And I am a firm believer in putting my house in somewhat of order before bed so I don’t have to wake up to a mess. Hate that. So I wanted to share something with you and then I am hitting the hay!

One of the frustrating/exciting thing as you are getting healthier and are losing weight is that your clothes get baggy. There is nothing more exciting than those jeans that were practically impossible to button up are now fitting just right and you can button them up with ease! And before you know it they start to get baggy. And then you need a belt to keep them from falling off of you. And then your loving sister starts to call you “saggy bum”. For reals, she called me that…and still does sometimes!

I know how that feels, you love that you are seeing a difference and that your clothes are so baggy but it really would be nice to have something that fit. But you don’t want to spend money until you get down to where you want to be. So you just go about your day feeling frumpy in your saggy clothes. Ugly and frumpy, that was how I felt every day.

When I was dealing with this my mom gave me the best advice and said “GO SHOPPING!!!”. Treat yourself. You have worked hard and you have earned this. Why not reward your hard work with clothing rather than with ice cream? (I reward myself with ice cream way too often. What? Is that only me…?) Anyway, she said you want to feel good about yourself so get something that fits. And she was so right. It was fun to go to the store and try on smaller sizes and have them fit. Have something in my closet that I actually looked forward to wearing. You don’t have to go crazy and break the bank or buy an entire new wardrobe but buy a handful of things that fit. It will make you feel good about yourself and it is a good reminder of all your hard work. That right there is great motivation!

So treat yourself to some new clothes. You have earned it.