November 22, 2015

Thoughts on Weight Gain, Self Love, and Perseverance

Heyyyyyyy Everybody!

Hope all you readers are doing well and getting excited for the holidays!  I've been away from the blog lately for a few reasons, the main one being that I didn't have much to write about.  Things are beautiful in Michigan.  I'm loving my surroundings, slowly making new friends, and taking daily steps to get out of my comfort zone.  I've really enjoyed exploring my new city and have already made lists of things to do with visitors!

So it came to me today as I was driving to my new church.  The first day I had to wear a winter coat that was much looser last winter.  It had me incredibly frustrated.  Perhaps that's why I've avoided the blog.

I've gained an unknown amount of weight since the summer.  How it started isn't all that important, but a series of life events, changes, and obstacles led me to where I am now.  For a while it had me very upset, self conscious, and even gave me the sense that people would see me as weak or a fraud.

Over time I came to accept that the events of the past six months do not undo what I accomplished last year and earlier this year.  At least not completely.  Sure some of my clothes don't fit and my Insanity workouts are harder after slacking on them for so long.  The truth is though that I'm not starting from square one.  I accomplished a lot this year.  My first half-marathon, meaningful conversations with people, exploration of new areas of fitness and health, to name a few.  All incredibly important.  And now I'm here, in my new home, settled, and back in a fitness routine after a hiatus due to the stress of uprooting and starting over. Working out again five days a week and keeping my home a safe food zone.  I still have my challenges and have come to terms that disordered eating is something I will deal with for a very long time.

So where do you go from here when you find yourself in a place of roadblocks and set backs?  The first step for me was accepting myself as I am.  Accepting my strength, faults, beauty, and missteps along the way because they all make up my story.  From here the plan is simply to persevere.  I take one day at a time.  I remember what I'm capable of.  I continue to pursue new things and new concepts of health and fitness.  I do my best to leave excuses behind me and use all that I know to better my health.

As a side note, I decided this week that coaching through Beachbody just wasn't for me.  I had beeing thinking about it since the move and just decided that the self marketing, social media stuff, and product plugging just doesn't fit my lifestyle and my personality.  I continue to use my Insanity workouts and still recommend some of those other programs. But for me, my fitness and health journey is one I prefer to just do for me.

So anyway, I hope that in the new year and a new decade in my life (30 eeeeeeek!) I will find my healthiest and happiest self.  So many good things lay ahead in this next year.

October 9, 2015

End of Year Goals

Hey friends!
I know it's been a while!

But this whole uprooting thing has kind of taken over my life the past several weeks.  Five days and counting before this whole process is over and I can finally relax and get back into a routine that doesn't involve working ALL the time and having no energy to do much else.  I'll be settling into my new city, in my new state, and meeting so many new people.  So I got to thinking tonight that I should probably start to set some goals for the next couple of months, and since I owe you all a blog post big time, here we go.

1. Keep the apartment a safe zone.  I will be working from home full time at least through Christmas and won't be actively pursuing other things after the new year.  So I will get to be in a food-safe zone where I won't be tempted with food days, vending machines, and easy access to fast food.  I'm excited to stock my fridge and pantry with healthy food and have time to prepare meals.

2. Get back to the gym.  My monthly rent comes with a free gym membership.  I plan on checking out that gym the week I arrive.  If it doesn't have the equipment or classes I'm hoping for, I'll be on a gym hunt.  The goal is to start weight training and get my muscles back!

3. Forget about the numbers.  Towards the middle of this year, I started to really psych myself out with pounds and pant sizes.  I've come to the conclusion that I've entered a new phase of this life transformation.  For me, it has to be about getting to a healthy place with food and exercise, not obsessing, and just plain living my life. 

There's so much ahead and I can't wait to share it here!   The goodbyes have started and I'm wavering back and forth between anxiety and excitement.  Wish me luck homies!

August 19, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I have an apartment.

It's official.  I am moving to Michigan.  The months of planning, saving, and praying are finally coming together.  On October 14th, I will be leaving the town I've called home for 11 years and will be moving into my new place in Comstock Park, MI.

I found a two bedroom apartment just north of the city and I could not be more excited.  This is really happening.  Like really, really.  And of course the second bedroom means plenty of space for ya'll to come visit me and see just how glorious west Michigan really is.  For those of you in the Bloomington-Normal area I'll definitely be throwing some kind of last hurrah like an open house or a bonfire out at Comlara Park. 

But until then I'll continue to save, save, save, enjoy friends, cross things of my So Long Bloomington Bucket List, and pray that this next phase of my life is as great as I anticipate it to be.

August 5, 2015

Updates on the Mitten

Happy Wednesday all!

Thought I'd take some time today to provide some updates for those curious about my impending move. 

This past weekend, I spent three heavenly days in west Michigan looking for apartments, spending time with dear friends before they headed back to Alaska for the school year, and getting doused in colored powder and glitter after and awesome 5K run! 

I've been looking for a place to live for a couple months now.  Narrowing down my search through the use of social media.  I've been all over the internet: Reddit,, and facebook trying to pick out the areas to stay away from and pin point where I would see myself living.

Well after Friday, I was more confused than ever.  Despite driving around most of the day and seeing different areas of town, I had no idea how to figure out where I ACTUALLY wanted to live.

So Saturday I enjoyed my color run, spent a glorious day at the beach, and then watched Ronda Rousey kick ass in the wee hours of the morning.  #worthit 

Sunday my friends took me to their church.  It's located on the north end of East Beltline in Grand Rapids; which is basically a long stretch running down the east side of the city.  They had lived in this area during their first year of marriage.  They pointed out how nice the area was and some of the great stores and assets to the neighborhood like orchards, a fantastic Meijer, and lots of growth in general.  As we drove through, I found that this was definitely sticking out compared to other neighborhoods I'd been in.

The church experience was great.  The style of worship, preaching, and prayer were so close to what I was used to and I had a very strong sense that I am doing the right thing moving away.  I met the pastors afterwards.  They were very kind and one even offered to connect me with people that might be able to find me a job!

So since I've been back, I've found an apartment complex off East Beltline and am now just waiting for my application to come in the mail ( Thanks again Dan for picking it up for me!).  I've also connected with that pastor and as of today he has passed along my resume to people in the church.

I do not have an exact move date yet, obviously since I don't have an apartment nailed down yet.  But October is the magic month.  So the plan is to simply save, save, work, save as much as I can and tie up loose ends.  But it's coming together!  It REALLY is!  As Ineke and I were driving through the city on Friday, all I kept thinking (and sometimes saying out loud) was "I can't believe I'm going to live here."  It's such a fantastically scary and wonderful idea.  A completely fresh start in a beautiful city.  What more could a girl ask for?

July 21, 2015

New Shirts

News flash!!

New Shirts up in the shop!

Head on over and check out designs that will have those grumps at the gym smiling!

This one is my personal favorite.

For all my cat ladies out there!

July 10, 2015

Awkward Awesome Friday

Happy almost weekend y'all! 

*wearing a sweater in July because it's 65 freakin' degrees outside.
*when someone you barely know word-vomits all over you.
*I turn 30 in less than six months. (maybe more terrifying than awkward)
*having a friend's wife joke about worrying whether other women are flirting with her husband... and then mentioning that you're cute.  Uhhhhh, yeah no.  Running away now.
*watching 4th of July fireworks on TV. (though I did enjoy not being eaten alive by mosquitoes)

*this nerdy baker and girl after my own heart
*these hilarious YouTube guys
*My trip to Michigan is in less than three weeks!!  I will be doing a color run with Ineke and Dan and touring lots of apartments.
*the incredible ways Jesus has confirmed that my move to Michigan is meant to be.
*color runs baby!
*Game. Of. Thrones. (I know I'm late to the party... but OH EM GEE)

June 23, 2015

Why Michigan...

As I have been slowly announcing to friends, family, and acquaintances that I am relocating to Grand Rapids, the very common question I get is "Why Michigan?"

Um, why NOT Michigan?

Usually the people who ask me this have either not been there, assume all of Michigan mirrors poor Detroit, or can picture nothing but mountains of snow in the winter time.

Sure, Michigan is not a place many might think of to "start over".  People might think California, the Carolinas, or even Florida.  But Michigan?

So I'm taking this opportunity to explain my decision to relocate to Grand Rapids this fall.

1.  First of all, when people ask me "Why Michigan" with a look on their face like I said I'm relocating to Mars, I just want to ask... "have you ever been there?"  Because honestly, west Michigan is an incredibly beautiful place.  As my friend Dan would say... they have everything.  Beach, forests, city, whatever you might want! 

2.  It's not as cold as people assume.  The climate in Grand Rapids is a humid continental climate... just like Chicago.  Warm summers and cold snowy winters.  However, Michigan from what I hear, experiences more snow and less ice-crap like we get here in central Illinois.  Amen for that.  So instead of "Oh, we can't go outside because my driveway is a sheet of ice" it'll be more like "let's go sledding or skiing or build snow men." Yes to all!  I'm from Chicago, so winter really doesn't scare me and believe it or not, not everyone likes hot weather!  >this girl right here<

3.  It's close enough to Chicago that my family will still be within driving distance.  I'm the kind of grown up that still gets homesick.  So being within a reasonable driving distance from family and close friends is really important to me.

4.  Guys, it's Michigan.  Do any of you have a place that when you think about it, you can't help but smile and/or wish you could teleport there?  That's how I feel about Michigan.  Whenever I see a University of Michigan t-shirt, or watch those enticing Pure Michigan commercials, I smile.  I've loved this beautiful state since I was a teenager.  I visited the upper peninsula when I was in high school and again in college.  Then after becoming friends with my dear Ineke, I fell in love with west Michigan.  If you've never spent time there, do yourself a favor and GO.  Holland, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids.  Yes, yes, yes.  Or you can wait until next summer and come visit me. ;-)

I've been given the go ahead.  For a long time I felt that I was called to be here in Bloomington Normal.  And I was...for the time being.  As I started to play with the idea of relocating I did a lot of soul searching and a lot praying.  I wondered if my time here had been a waste if I was just going to leave all I'd built.  I wondered if I'd make the kinds of friends I've known here the past ten years.  But when I started to feel less and less like I belonged in the church family I'd known for so long and less and less rooted in this town, I knew something had to give.

I've always played it safe and never really cared for change.  But maybe it's something about getting closer and closer to that big 3-0 in six months that spurred me to risk it.  Why not?  The older I get, the less I care about what people think and the less I fear risk.  I find myself wanting to try new things and see places!  And I believe that God's given me the "it's ok, go!".  He's with me.  He's going to be going ahead of me and he's going to be in whatever church I find to call home.

Will I miss my church that I've seen as family for over a decade?  Yes.  Will I miss the friends that have become that family? Absolutely.  Will I miss being around my old college stomping grounds and reliving those memories? Sure.  But there is SO much to get excited about as I make this huge life change.  I heard on the radio yesterday that a person should do things A, B, and C at some point.  One of those things was to make a big move.  Well I'm doing it and it's going to be the start of something great.

June 19, 2015

Quinoa Bowls

I've passed this recipe along to a couple of different people this week and I love it so much, that I thought I'd post it here for all to see!  It's a delicious, healthy, and filling take on a burrito bowl.  I used to not be a huge fan of quinoa (keen-wah) because of it's texture.  But mixed together with veggies, seasonings, and sprinkled with lemon juice.  It's heavenly.

Quinoa Bowls


1 cup quinoa (rinsed)

1 ½ to 1 ¾ cup water

1 can low sodium corn (drained)

1 can low sodium black beans (rinsed)

1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies)

1 Tbsp paprika

½ Tbsp garlic powder

1-2 avocados

Juice of 1 lemon

Chopped green onion

Chopped cilantro

3-4 leaves of lacinato/dinosaur kale, diced



Add quinoa, corn, beans, rotel, water, paprika, and garlic powder to a large pot.  Stir, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Cook for 20-30 minutes or until quinoa is tender.

Dice up your avocado, green onion, kale, and cilantro.

Once your quinoa goodness is done cooking, add your kale and stir.

Serve up your mixture with your green onion, cilantro, and avocado.  Squeeze lemon juice over the top and devour!
Side Note: If you make a large batch to eat throughout the week, best to leave the kale out until you are ready to re-heat it.  Too much heat kills the enzymes and nutrients in your kale, so leaving it out until last minute is best.

June 5, 2015

...Awesome Awkward Friday...

Happy Friday Homies! I for one am stoked that it's finally the weekend.  It kicks off with game night at the McDowell's followed by a little work, a little play, and a whole lot of sleep!

*Being more upset about your work wife leaving for a new job than other things you should be upset about.  (though she's earned it and will ROCK it)
*People not understanding the gloriousness that is green juice. Just sayin'.
*Having a wound that requires gauze packing in a place that you can't reach.  Smack in the middle of your back right where your fingers DON'T touch.  (Thanks Dave, Em, and Katie!!)
*Getting back into the pool after a hiatus due to winter and half marathon training...only to have to be out again due to the wound mentioned above.

*Green juice. 
*Morning runs are BACK!
*Meeting your bestie's baby girl for the first time and the sheer amazement that the girl you've known for 16+ years is now a momma.
*Good conversations with people who love you.
*The way the neighbor's dog Charlie comes over every day to see if Yukon can play.  (and if Katie will give him a snack)
*Friends who are there for you no matter what.
*Family that believes in you and supports you no matter what.

May 27, 2015

Homemade Burrito Bowls

Happy Wednesday Homies!

If any of you know me well, I LOVE Mexican food.  In particular, Chipotle has amazing and healthy options when I'm craving Mexican.  However, at almost $8 a pop after tax, I can't really afford to eat there all the time.  This weekend I had a craving for a burrito bowl and was getting ready to head out for one when I thought... SHOOT!  I have all the makings for one here.  Duh!

So this is a simple recipe I wanted to share with you!


2 C rice (I used jasmine brown rice)
3 3/4 C water
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1 can low sodium black beans
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
1 t chili powder
1 can corn
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies)
1 head of romaine lettuce-chopped
1 avocado
1-2 limes
1 clove of garlic-minced


Add your rice, water, and a little salt to a sauce pan, cover, and bring to a boil.  Then reduce to a simmer and cook for 35-45 minutes.  (The bag usually has a cook time on it)
While your rice is cooking, chop up your lettuce and cilantro.

Rinse your beans and add to a sauce pan with a 2-3 T of water.  Add your cumin, paprika, and chili powder.  Heat the beans on low until they are warm.

Corn Salsa:
Easiest step right here!  Rinse your corn, drain your Rotel and combine in a bowl.  Boom!

Mash up your avocado in a bowl and add the juice of 1/2 to one lime (depending on your preference and the size of your lime).  Mince your garlic and add that to the avocado.  Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

Once your rice is done cooking, fluff with a fork or spoon.  Add the juice of one lime, your cilantro and a salt (if it needs it)

Then you just layer your goodies in a large bowl!  You can also add some shredded cheese or plain greek yogurt if that's your thing.  But the guacamole gives that creaminess I love and I find I don't need it.  Try it out and let me know what you think!