Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Away They Go: 10 Tips and Tricks for Trimming off Post-Pregnancy Pounds

I’m tired of wearing maternity clothes: my baby is now 2.5 months old. 

I know I’m not going to drop down to my pre-pregnancy weight in the next two weeks, but I am ready to make a purposeful movement—a two week challenge. My goals are to eat healthier, exercise every day (just for these two weeks as I am not completely crazy), and drink a whole lot more water. (According to PBS.org, to discover how much water you should drink in a day, divide your weight in half. For example, 200 pound person should drink 100 ounces (“America’s Walking: Drinking Water”). So I should be drinking…nevermind. I’m not that brave.)

My life is stressful: I have three children ages four and under. They don’t nap at coinciding intervals yet. I am new to this stay-at-home mom business.  I love food. I have trouble finding time to work out. The next two weeks aren’t going to be easy, but I have to kick-start something.

I have a few tips and tricks I’ve learned and want to implement to make a healthier life in general. I’ll share them with you.

1)   Tell someone.
I kept making little promises with myself to be good, but it’s pretty easy to break secret promises. I purposely didn’t make concrete goals and vocalize them to anyone because I knew that meant becoming serious about the sacrifice healthy living can mean. I texted a friend about my challenge, asked her to join in any way she wished, wrote this blog (terrifying), and started posting pictures to Instagram daily (even more terrifying). Now people know, so I’ve got to keep going.

2)   Set some goals.
As I said, I have made specific goals, and those goals have a time-frame I can live within. I’m not giving up cookies forever. In fact, my two-year-old asked for donuts today, and I told him there would be no donuts in the house for two weeks…but we could have a donut party after that. When the two weeks are up, I can make new goals that are easier to live up to on a longer-term basis, such as working out 3-4 times a week and allowing myself a couple “cheat” foods.

   3)   Find ways to satisfy yourself.
My family believes in ending each meal with something sweet. If I deny myself completely, I often find myself covered in at least a dozen empty candy wrappers in a guilt-and-sugar-ridden haze. I found these granola bars I’m letting myself eat every once in a while: I compared their fat and calorie content to some Swiss Cake Rolls (which are in my house today! Ah!), and I think the substitution is a much wiser way to help my sweet-cravings.

4)   Discover workouts you like.
I prefer weightlifting to cardio, but I know I need the 
latter to burn off what three babies have helped me 
add on. (Actually, I always got nearly right back to pre-pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again, so 
I cannot really blame past babies for current excess pounds.) I’ve found some videos like Shaun T’s T25 
and Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred that combine strength training with bursts of cardio. This busy mama loves the 
20-25 minute lengths and the combo of what I like and 
what I need.

5)   Learn it is okay to get dirty.
I don’t like waiting until later in the day to get cleaned up, but while I am trying to meet some particular targets, it is okay to change up that fresh-in-the-morning routine and shower after I squeeze in a workout before lunch. (It’s really okay; it’s really okay—I keep telling myself this.)

6)   Cut yourself some slack.
In two weeks, I will have to learn how to put regular workouts into my normal routine, but for right now, ignoring the dishes (because household chores are a great excuse for skipping a workout) is okay. I’ve talked to my husband about it, and he knows this is temporary. Give yourself permission to drop a responsibility (besides the children) for a short period of time.

7)   Bribe yourself.
I asked my husband for a specific amount of money as an award for losing ten pounds. These two weeks are to give me a boost towards that goal. And, remember my donut party? With that money and those pastries in mind, I can work out and eat well for fourteen days and make later goals to continue on. I can! I can!

8)   Get support.
I cannot eat well if my family is chowing on pizza and ice cream all week, so—sorry guys—but those things are banned. I’m going to cook meals we can all eat together. I may modify my portions and double up on veggies while I go light on the carbs I offer them, but my family is going to play a part in my success (whether they like it or not…though they probably won’t even notice).

9)   Find some good visuals.
My friend was Mrs. Tennessee USA. When her husband signed her up for the pageant (which she really did find a splendid present, though I would have freaked!), she wasn’t in shape or ready to show her body in front of a crowd. The pageant itself—and that stage—became a reason to be healthier; there was no going back. She later advised me, as I was working off the weight of my second child, to find some visuals to leave out, such as a bathing suit or a dress you want to get back into. Or, better yet, a new dress! Such visuals make your goals more tangible and meaningful.

10)   Remember why you are doing this.
Finally, think carefully on your motivation. I need to lose weight—not because I am ugly. I need to lose weight because I have a closet full of incredible clothes I miss dearly. And, my body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). I will NOT desecrate that temple by speaking poorly of it, especially in front of my children. But I need to take action. The next two weeks will stink (literally, as I will be sweating it up each day), but, after that, 3-4 workouts a week will seem much more practical, and a couple cheat meals will feel incredibly rewarding.

PS—On DAY ONE of the new workout routine, my potty-trainer decided to make two accidents for me to clean up right after I got the baby in her crib. Then he wanted to climb under my planks. Then the baby woke up when the video had eight minutes left. BUT, I had to tell myself that even an unfinished workout is better than a bum on the couch.

PPS—On DAY TWO, I tried to jam three children in a double stroller. The baby told me in no uncertain terms she preferred to be carried. Though I've been advised that a walk isn't the best workout, but there must be some exception when said walk involves toting an extra 11 pounds in a baby sling while pushing an extra 70-80 pounds of little boys and stroller. Plus, as it started to rain on our way back, I sweated much harder than any workout video as I huffed to get the baby to shelter. Exercise = accomplished. Every day is a new lesson; I’m working it out.


“America’s Walking: Drinking Water.” PBS.org. n.d. Web. 10 June 2014.
First Corinthians 6:19. Biblegateway.com. n.d. Web. 9 June 2014.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Mama Style

I always feel honored to guest blog for paNASH Style. Click here to read my article with tips about how a stay-at-home mama can still have style. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

For Mother’s Day, my children gave me a bag of Dove chocolates. If you aren’t familiar with this treat, the foil wrapping for each piece of delight carries an uplifting message. The first one I opened this May 2014 told me, “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” Creepy candy knowing me too well.

I see I haven’t blogged since February of 2013. My life is completely different now than it was then. Though I had an excruciating journey, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

Hymnist William Mackay penned, “Revive us again; fill each heart with thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above: Hallelujah—thine the glory. Hallelujah—Amen!” That fire refers to a blazing desire, an overwhelming thankfulness, an all-encompassing passion for the Savior. But fire burns. And sometimes it is an agonizing flame that brings us to exactly where we are supposed to be.

Healing takes time. Many months passed before I uttered, “While I wish I had gotten here some other way, I’m glad for where I am.” More months passed before I realized: there was no other way. Fire cannot deliver without destroying. Sanctity cannot exist without scabs and scorches.

I don’t believe God burned me into beauty. I do believe He embraced me in the blaze. And I believe He made exquisiteness the outcome of the evil that surrounded me.

Once again I am here, feeling now more than ever the consequence of the name of this blog. And I feel ready to move, knowing these scars aren’t something I have to overcome; they are a reminder of the love that overcame me.


Mackay, William P. “We Praise Thee, O God.” 1863. Praise for the Lord. Ed. John P. Wiegand.  Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997. 732. Print.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent: Day 1

Yesterday was the Fattest of Tuesdays. Today is Lent: Day 1.

To answer your initial questions--

1) No, I am not Catholic.
2) I have observed Lent about five times in my life and will continue from this point on
2b) because I find it good for the soul to take something out of my life that I tend to rely on or become spoiled by.
3) I am giving up dresses (buying, not wearing) and Target.
4) Last year I gave up Target and saved hundreds of dollars.
5) No, I cannot keep that hundreds of dollars and buy 46 Target dresses when Lent is over.
5b) The money saved will go to paying off some debt and saving for the future.

You need know to a couple of things about me. I. Love. Target. I. Love. Dresses. Subsequently, I love buying dresses at Target and on Target.com. I may or may not have talked to complete strangers in the return lane at the store about how they should get a Target debit card so they, too, can get free shipping and returns on all items...including but not limited to dresses. 

In my defense, I wear dresses to work. I work at a design school that has a Fashion Design Department. Also, I love Ross and House of Stella (in the Cool Springs area in Middle Tennessee); I spread around my dress-buying love. But have you ever scrolled through the clearance dresses on Target.com? Have you checked out the latest guest designer, Prabal Gurung?

Okay--I fully admit I have a problem. I also fully admit that
I. am. spoiled.
No, blessed. Let's use "blessed."

And that's part of this challenge because sometimes I forget this truth. And my seemingly-silly self-denial won't be easy. I mean, Prabal Gurung's dress line just came out this week. I won't get to grab one in clearance in the coming weeks (if they even last that long). And I'm going to miss my Target dates with my mom. And the thrill of the big reveal of wearing a new dress for the first time: I'm going to miss that as well. But though these things bring me happiness, they aren't my sole source. Here's to 46 days of Publix, Kroger, and the same (beautiful...and lots of them, really) dresses.

I. am. blessed.

Here's to 46 days of that.

 Prabal Gurung design--so you know what I'm missing out on 

 got this number at Ross last week--just in the nick of time

a design by Kaitlyn Phillips, O'More College of Design graduate,
and my grandmother, who had beautiful dresses

Target clearance

 I even wear dresses with jeans.

another Target clearance dress

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just Try It On

I am always honored to guest blog for the lovely and talented image consultant, media coach, author, and public speaker Lori Bumgarner. Find my post on fashion here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

a pictorial post: 26 ways to find joy in the journey

 1) Count your blessings. 

 2) Dance

 3) Play with someone you love. 

 4) Share a meal.

 5) Go on a walk.

 6) Stare at something beautiful. 

 7) Get into nature.

 8) SMILE!

 9) Go shopping with friends. (Also, laugh at grammer mistakes.)

 10) Put on your most comfortable clothes.

 11) Make funny faces.

 12) LAUGH! (Pandora set to your favorite comedian is a great stress-relief.)

 13) Dress up.

 14) Play with your food. (And hope it doesn't play back. Yuck.)

 15) Get some Vitamin D.

 16) RUN.

17) Hug. Snuggle. Yum.

18) Find a good read.

 19) Vent to someone who will listen and love.

 20) Have a cup of tea.

 21) Put on your boots, and go splosh in some muddy puddles. 

 22) Take a nice bath. 

 23) Get dressed up.

 24) Make a new friend.

 25) Build a fort.

26) Go on an adventure.

Secrets to a Happier Life

Happiness comes easily for some. For others, we struggle to find joy. I don't mean we never smile or laugh--I just mean we usually find it easier to fret, find fault, furrow our brows.

At times in my life, happiness has come only when I made a concerted effort to find it. And I never found it in more; I only found it when I made a simple decision: be happy.

Of course, what starts as a simple decision has to be backed up by action. Changes were made, friends were relied upon, some habits were broken, other habits were taken up: sometimes it takes a lot of work, but the busier I am reaching goals, being with friends, and reconstructing areas of my life toward the positive--the less time I have to think about sadness, or lost opportunities, or failures, or frustrations with others.

Amanda Sekulow, founder of GLAM Ministries, encourages me all the time to tackle the areas of my life I need to and can change, and to accept what I cannot. Whenever I need a dose of inspiration to take on a task, I often text Amanda and ask for a lunch date. Hearing someone else say "you can do it" with the added reality of "though it might be difficult" is the perfect prescription.  

"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold is one of the best poems for me to read when I am feeling particularly morose. My saying that, and you reading it, may bring a surprise:

...the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night. (ll. 30-37)

Jessa, how on earth does something so depressing help you find happiness? Because. I don't want to be like that. 

I don't want to focus my life on thoughts that the world "hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain" (ll. 33-34). My one life here on this planet is my chance to touch others, to be a light. What a horrible way to live, caught up in my own dismay. What a waste of precious time.

Most of the time, the only thing standing in the way of my happiness is my attitude.

I'm not saying we cannot have a bad day or one of those cry-your-eyes-out afternoons, but overall, we would be a lot wiser to focus on our blesses and spend less time on our own personal "darkling plain," struggling and clashing instead of loving others--and loving ourselves. 

For a pictorial list of ideas on how to focus on happiness, go here. 

Arnold, Matthew. "Dover Beach." 100 Best-Loved Poems. Ed. Philip Smith. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1995. Print.

this post is linked up with

miscellany monday at lowercase letters TheBetterMom.com The Alabaster Jar