New Year’s Weight Loss Tips

Day 3 of the New Year. Raise your hand if you are tired of food. And sweets.

I’m beyond tired of seeing sugar. I bake what seems like, all month, whipping up various treats  for Christmas so about now I’m ready to walk away from it all.

#officiallysickoffood

I bet you are too.

It’s possible you are thinking of losing some weight as many are at the start of a year. For some reason the start of a new year makes us want to tackle things in our lives that may have been previously untouched or started but not finished.

My social media accounts are flooded with all kinds of hyped up “diets” and weight loss promises, all of which will take some of your money, thank you, but most likely only leave you with lighter pockets and no missing fat.

Coming out of the holiday season can be difficult since we’ve been enjoying more tasty foods than we usually have. You might be wondering where to start.

Don’t start by thinking you have to eat all the “bad” food that might still be around.

Getting started doesn’t have to be hard, painful, or restrictive. In fact, a slow gradual process will help you be more successful than just trying to cut everything out cold turkey ’cause I mean… there’s still gonna be chocolate around.. am I right? And really, if a piece of chocolate here or there helps keep you sane and  moving forward, it’s ok.

I’m eager to get back to my “normal” eating. What always works for me is eating more lean meats, veggies and fruits to get me back on track as well as adequate water.

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My favorite kinda meal
green and red healthy food
Eat these to build a healthy body

 

This works for me, but might not be where you are.

Here’s a few new years tips that might help….

If you don’t trust yourself start by removing all leftover temptations of holiday goodies from your kitchen.

And I don’t mean eat them. Give them to your neighbor Susie Q or toss them in the trash. Really. You can.  If you think you’ll sit down and eat the bag of chocolate, toss it.

Next, make sure you have healthy foods on hand like lean meats ( chicken, turkey, fish, eggs etc) fresh fruits, veggies, and other snacks like cheese, yogurt and raw almonds.

Once you get a plan for food you will eat and won’t eat, set some short term “mini” goals for yourself.  Small changes add up and in time they do add up to bigger changes.  Not only that, accomplishing your mini goals will give you confidence to push on to bigger goals.

For example, week one you might simply try to reduce sugary drinks if that is a problem for you. Maybe you’ll try to drink more water.

Week 2 you might decide you will intentionally park farther from store or take the stairs at work instead of elevator.

Week 3 you might decide to eliminate fried foods from your diet.

Set a date.

Be intentional about what you are doing. Set out specific dates for yourself to achieve goals. ( in 4 weeks you want to be walking 3 miles or committing to 3 days a week in the gym) whatever it is, put it in front of you. To be ambiguous about a goal is the same as saying you’ll start “next week” … it’s easy to ignore and not get done.

Let your mini goals spur you on to bigger things as you accomplish them.

Learn to write down what you eat and how you feel when you do. Make it a goal to understand your personal relationship with food.  This can give you insight into your behaviors with food and eating.

Don’t be afraid to take some before pics of yourself as well as progress ones along the way. A photo journal is the best way to see how you’ve changed on your journey.

Finally, set realistic and manageable goals for yourself. You don’t gain weight in a few weeks, you won’t lose it all in  a few weeks. A steady one pound per week will be sustainable weight loss.  Allowing yourself  after the holidays to settle into a slow, steady routine will be the best way to be successful in your efforts while not feeling deprived or taking things to the extreme.

Do you have any tips for healthy weight loss?

 

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Hello 2018!

Happy New Year boys and girls, and welcome to 2018! As I’m writing this evening on the first day of this new year, with football serving as back round noise, I have many thoughts dancing in my head and a writing partner by my side….

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There is a fire in our fireplace as we are starting the year off with some wicked cold weather. Coffee and soft leggings have been a staple the last few days. In the south, we are not used to low digit weather!

 

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Family has been gathered together. We’ve laughed, eaten food and eaten more food. We’ve played games and just hung out a lot enjoying each other.

Hubby has been on vacation for these two weeks and it’s been a fun, laid back and a bit  of a lazy time hanging out and doing stuff together.

My thoughts are of the year ahead, the freshness of it, the opportunities and all the new adventures. It is natural for me to look at what I’ve accomplished in the previous year and want to do just… a little bit more… in the upcoming year.

I’m always down for new challenges.

Ah well, I guess I could post the obligatory “new year, new you” stuff. Or the “it’s been an awful year and I’m ready for the next one” or any other sappy mushy quote that’s prevalent right now.

I won’t do that to you.

It is a new year. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to be a “new” you, but if you’re like most of us there might be one or two things you wanna shape up more.

And I never complain about the year gone by because well, first, it’s a year you’ve been given to live and second no one has a year free from difficult things and sails through without any trials.  With joy there is sorrow, with triumph there are trials, with pain there is hope, and with difficulties come days of ease.

It all makes up a year in our lives, right?

I’m already brainstorming ideas for this year. I have my new planner set up ( go me) and important info logged in.

Once I get the household returned to normal from Christmas festivities I have plans to work on some more chalk painting projects ( something I got into at the end of this past year) I will also be working on a now (empty) room my newly married son has vacated ( it was named the Batcave but I’m thinking with my new ideas for it, Batcave might not be suitable haha 😛 ) I have all my grandparents bedroom furniture so I’m hoping to do something cute and vintage looking in there.

Then of course there are my athletic goals and shenanigans that I’m thinking about. It is hard to not want to challenge myself more after tackling my first duathlon in November. ( read about it here….. https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/05/duathlon-journey-the-recap/

That being said, it is once again, on my goal list for 2018. I’m eager to cut my teeth on it once more and improve my skills.

I’m also looking at my first ever actual bike race, a cool 60 miler.

And I really want to get back to some distance running so I’m toying with a spring half marathon.

I’m in my element when I’m focused on training for an event, what can I say?

Right now I’m just ready to get back to my athletic activities. With this month and family, schedule, weather etc it’s been minimal maintenance stuff.

I love all the holiday activities but I’m also ready to get back into my “normal” again.

Anyone else? Yeah, raise your little hand.

I used to worry if I missed some days working out that I’d not want to do it again, that I’d be out of the routine and decide it was easier to not do it.

Not true. I’m eager to get back to hard work. My body feels better when I do workout than when I don’t. My mind is clear and focused when my day starts with some hard work.

Exercise has become a wonderful habit and one I’m grateful to have.

In a way, this enforced rest isn’t bad for me. I know rest allows my body to rebuild and replenish after a solid year of hard work. It’s the mental part of me that struggles with it. Yet I know too, my mind needs rest from it as well.

So I’ve rested. I’ve eaten tasty foods and treats and I’m more than ready to get back to my normal eating, another habit I’ve developed and appreciate having.

I just feel better eating healthy foods. I’m more aware of it than ever when my eating habits differ.

Oh. Speaking of habits.

One of the newest posts I’ll be bringing you is my review on the new paperback version of “Lean Habits For Weight Loss”.  I received my copy this week in the mail from Georgie and I’ll be eager to share with you.  I believe this is really the only tool anyone might need for help and encouragement in losing weight. The way to be successful and keep it off is to rebuild  bad habits that sabotage your success. To learn to change your thinking and behaviors with food that will lead to permanent weight loss.

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Did some reading on a recent road trip

 

That’s just one topic I’ll be dealing up here on my blog so I hope you check back.

This year is full of promise and new possibilities. I’ll continue to share sane, practical tips and ideas on nutrition and weight loss, diet and book reviews, personal experiments on products to educate you, exercise hints and tips, as well as my athletic shenanigans and real life stuff too.

Tell me what plans you have for the upcoming year. Anything new or exciting? What are you anticipating most?

Food Tips For A Healthier You

Pass Junk food

 

As we count down the last days of the year and head into 2018 many will be assessing their plans and goals for the new year ahead.

Trips, appointments, school activities, family gatherings, holidays etc will all take space on our planners.

Others will be factoring in goals of weight loss and moves towards eating better. My last post was tips on getting started with an exercise program… you can find it here….https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/19/tips-for-a-fit-2018/

I wanted to include some tips on eating and nutrition but for the sake of not turning it into another War and Peace novel I decided to make it more of a two part item 😛

Food can be such a struggle for so many.

How much to eat, what to eat, when to eat. Eat when you’re hungry, eat when you’re not. Eat for reasons unknown to you.

These behaviors left alone can lead to unwanted pounds and unwanted health problems associated with being over weight. So many people want to change and make improvements but aren’t sure where to start or what to do. They feel like they have to give up everything they love and everything that’s good and be in this restricted zone of deprivation and no fun.

Please. Don’t.

That mentality will certainly not lead to long term success in your weight loss endeavors. If you’ve followed me then you know I’m anti-diet mentality and anti-deprivation believing people will be far more successful knowing they can include foods they enjoy and still lose weight. I believe building new habits and behaviors with food is what leads to life long success and sustainability. Building new habits doesn’t happen over night, but with persistency and keeping at it, those habits will stick and become second nature to you.

In fact, I was delighted to come across a book a few years ago that was pretty much what I had done to lose weight and keep it off. It was all about habits and behaviors and I literally devoured it.

When I talk with people the book Lean Habits For Weight Loss is what I always recommend.  It offers sane, practical and sustainable advice for life long weight loss.  I wrote a review on the book which you can find here…… https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/10/07/lean-habits-for-weight-loss-book-review/

on a side note, the author is releasing a paperback version on the 26th of this month and asked me if I’d write another review for her 🙂 I guess she thought I did a decent job  on the first to ask me to write one for the new book and I’m thrilled.

You can be watching for my review on it later on.

But I digress….

Like exercise, the decision to lose weight has to be yours and yours alone. Once you make the choice to do it then you need to become proactive in doing things to make it happen.

No one will do it for you. No one will control what goes in your mouth or how much you eat but you.

But you’ve got this.. you can do it.

ok, I’m ready to start. Now what?

Don’t start by eating all the junky food in your pantry to “get rid of it”.  Don’t start by cutting out everything you love or that is tasty to you and eating celery. I mean.. you CAN eat celery it’s really good for you and one of those “zero” calorie foods but.. well.. you get what I mean 😉

Don’t start by so severely restricting your calories that you are constantly hungry and thinking of your next meal.

These are frequent “techniques” I see to many people employee in their quest to lose weight, techniques that quickly fail them.

You can do this instead…

Practice listening to your body and learn to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are feeling satisfied. This may take some practice as your eyes and mouth will want more and you’ve most likely trained yourself that way. Eat slowly and learn to savor your food this gives you time to realize that you are satisfied with most likely, less food.

At the start don’t focus so much on what you’re eating as when you eat and how much you eat.

As you move through those first few weeks you can consider your food choices and begin to think of what you might let go of, or opt to make a better healthier exchange on.

The food you eat.

Hey we’re all adults here, right?  That being said we all have that level of responsibility for what we eat and drink. If you toss down a dozen Christmas cookies in a sitting, well, you might reconsider that.  If you’ve learned to have a couple and savor them, you’re on a good track.

The foods we consume come down to what we find tasty and how we’ve trained ourselves to eat.

Yes. I said trained yourself.

We have all trained ourselves in our eating behaviors and food choices. That being said.. you can retrain yourself to eat better or eat less or make better choices.

Will it take time, yes. Will you get it down in a couple weeks? No. Can you be successful doing it? Absolutely.

Remember I told you at the beginning, it all comes down to you and what you want.

If you want to change, you will.

What do I eat?

I’m not going to tell you how to eat or what to eat. I will say making choices that involve healthy and nutritious foods will always be in your best interest. Foods that have minimal ingredients are best, the majority of the time, if you can.

If your daily diet consists of more processed, fast food or sugary/salty foods you might want to reconsider what you are eating.

You should work to building meals rich with veggies and fruits and healthy carbs with a good dose of protein.

Let’s face it… 400 calories of fast food vs. 400 calories of veggies and healthy food equals a lot more food to eat AND its better for your health. The more food choices you make that are nutrient dense means you can eat more and stay full longer.

Be aware.

Even though people largely believe they don’t over estimate food portions, they usually do. Be aware of what true serving sizes are and aim to stay in that perimeter.

Know what you’re eating. Look at labels and the contents of the product if you are unsure.

Make a list of what you eat to keep track of your food, at least for a few weeks. Be honest. No one will see it but you but and it can make you aware of what you eat, when you eat and how much. This could also give you some clues to behaviors with food you might need to deal with

Focus on small changes.

It’s those small daily things we do each day that add up. It’s easy to dismiss choices we make and think it doesn’t matter, but when we are attentive to our movement and what we eat those choices will lead to success.

Also, when you focus on small improvements it really doesn’t seem difficult to work on the goals that have been set. Eating a bit less, swapping a sugary drink for one with less or no sugar, passing by the fast food restaurant, having a small dessert over a full size, roasting instead of frying, learning to eat more fruits and veggies, are all examples of small ways to make changes.

green and red healthy food

One bad day isn’t the end of the world.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all had days where we know we ate more than we needed. Meh. It happens. The key to your success is not throwing in the towel from one bad day and reverting to your old habits and behaviors. Simply hit the reset button and get right back at it.

Stay positive in how you view yourself, and stay focused on what you are wanting to achieve.

Ask yourself the hard questions… is food more important than… ( whatever you are hoping to achieve)

There will be up’s and down’s in this process. The most important part to being successful is an unwillingness to quit or give up.

Stay the course and before you know it, you’ll be looking back at how far you’ve come.

Do you have any tips or tricks for weight loss that have worked for you ?

 

Tips For A Fit 2018

small changes

It’s hard to believe we are now only less than 1 week out from Christmas and  start of a brand new year. As mentioned in my last post, I love Christmas. ( find it here if you missed it) https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/08/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/

I try my best to slow the month down so I can just savor everything.

Of course, preparing for a new year means for me, getting my hands on a new planner to start plugging in appts and key things that are already scheduled.

I’m old school. I love getting a new planner with clean unmarked pages and putting pen to new plans, goals, and ideas.

One of the things that top the list for many people in a new year is to lose weight or start an exercise program.

I like not having to plan in “weight loss” for a new year. I spent enough years planning that and I don’t miss it…at all.

I’d much rather be scheduling new athletic adventures or learning new things for myself that I can share with others.

But what if  you need to drop some weight and you’ve decided that this really is gonna be your year? This year will be the year to achieve those goals you’ve had in your mind for a long time.

Maybe you’re tired of feeling sluggish and run down. Perhaps you don’t like looking in the mirror and wish there was less of you to look at. It could be the doctor has told you for your best health you need to start being proactive with your health.  It could be you just want to enjoy shopping for clothes again… nothing wrong with that either.

At the root of it all, the starting point, you have to want it bad enough to make it happen.  No one can force you and no one can make it happen but you. The desire has to be strong to start making changes that will lead to you being successful in your endeavors.

I am ready.  Where do I start?

It’s no big secret gyms see the biggest increase in attendance the first few weeks of January than any other time of year. People sign up with lofty goals and determination that quickly wanes once the novelty starts to wear off. Or they get there and are intimidated and don’t know what to do and their attempt is short lived.

I’ll let you in on a secret. You don’t have to join a gym to lose weight or to exercise. Now if you want to and think this is where you will excel, then by all means, take advantage of many of the programs available to members. If you choose to do so then be proactive and educate yourself so you know what’s available and how to best use your time when you are there. There are often health coaches that can give you direction in the beginning while you are learning.

However, I’ve found personally that there is a lot you can do at home and I personally think I work harder alone than being distracted if eyes are on me in a public place.

I have gathered up enough equipment  over time to have my own little home gym. It’s nothing fancy and I have to share space with lawn equipment but it’s my space and it works just fine.. other than it has no air conditioning or heat it works out pretty well haha

You too can gather some basic items to use at home. Whether it’s a garage space, an empty room, or in the living room you can carve out your own space to get a workout in.

Of course if you decide to make outdoors your gym ( this is my most preferred workout space)  by walking, running, cycling or any other activity you choose, the beauty of that becomes just getting dressed and walking out your door.

No driving, no waiting in traffic or being distracted at the gym. No extra time away from home if time is tight for you.

Make a plan.

What’s that old saying? Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Your improved body won’t happen in a day so it’s good to settle into a plan that will work for you day after day and be sustainable in the long run.

As mentioned above, you need to determine first, what will work best for you to get you active and moving. Would a gym environment be what you need? this could be perfect for someone who initially lacks a bit of motivation and needs that from others around them. A home environment is great but you really have to be motivated and determined in the beginning to get yourself out there and not opt to lounge around drinking more coffee.

Once you have that down you need to look at your new planner and schedule your workout times. Yes. Put it down right there with dr. appts, dinner dates, and meetings with the teacher at school.

Schedule time for you. After awhile, once you’ve built it as a new habit, you won’t necessarily have to pen it out but for now, do. it.

Take small steps.

Where people get off track and discouraged is trying to do to much, to fast. They think if they’ve made the decision to start it should all just happen and happen quickly.

It won’t. Accept that and know it will take slow, steady and determined steps. Maybe your first week will only involve getting some good shoes or some clothes to use. Maybe it will be gathering some tools if you’ve determined being at home will work best for you or if it’s the gym maybe you’ve spent some time investigating your options before you commit.

These are important steps. Then in the second week you are ready to begin what you’ve decided to do. Not only that, you’ve had the time to mentally prepare and plan for it which I believe is super important in taking on anything.

Starting small also means taking it easy with whatever physical endeavor you choose. Doing to much, to fast, can leave you with injuries or burn out.  Pace yourself slowly and allow your body time to make the adaptations to what you are doing. You might feel great after jogging around the block but if you haven’t done that in 15 years, I’m telling you, you will feel it and you certainly don’t want to feel bad before you get started.

Find ways to track your progress.

It’s helpful to take before you start pics or measurements etc. Noting these things does give you a marker of where you started from, especially when some times goes by. I’m used to myself now, but when I look back at photos from a few years ago I’m always surprised at how I’ve changed.

Leave your weighing in to only once a week. Keep it on an app on your phone or in a health journal, whichever you prefer. Do yourself a favor though and stick to a once a week weigh in and do new measurements once a month.

Maybe you have a pair of jeans or a dress you want to work your way back into. I often used that as a marker of my progress. Imagine my delight when one day the jeans I’d been wanting to get back into, were actually to big 😛

Share your activities.

Seriously. Share what you are doing on social media. I am pretty motivated but when I started sharing what I was doing a few years ago (whether it was running, my daily activities, or a new goal I was training for) it made me more aware of the fact I was doing it and I knew others knew I was doing it. From that came so much encouragement from people who lived vicariously through my craziness or better yet, got motivated to start doing something themselves.

When you have a support system that is all over the place, it’s a pretty cool thing. Not only that, if you miss posting or sharing, it’s always interesting to see who wants to know if you’re still being active.

Get a partner.

I’m used to flying solo in all my training sessions but I know some people do better with a partner. If that’s you, find someone to get on board with. You will both benefit from encouraging and challenging each other.

Set reasonable goals.

Once you’ve determined what you want to do, where you are going to do it, and scheduled the time to do it make sure you set  out some reasonable and doable goals to remind you of what you want to achieve.

Whether it’s getting into smaller jeans or working towards running your first 5k, set goals that will motivate you during your workout times. Goals are so important to have. They don’t have to be huge ( they can be) but really, setting small, reasonable ones will give you success and encouragement to keep on with what you are doing.

Be patient.

Yes. Be patient with yourself. Allow for days that don’t go as planned or a weak moment when you cancel on yourself ( you’ll be annoyed by that later, that you did it) allow for unexpected life things that might throw you off but just get right back at it. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses to not meet for your scheduled time.

Don’t allow negative, self defeating talk that will discourage you. Speak in positive ways to yourself and see yourself accomplishing what you’ve set before yourself.

Give yourself time to adjust and change. Remember your mind is a powerful tool and how you use if for yourself and for self improvement is a huge thing.

With a little practice, patience, and determination you will be moving into 2018 getting stronger and healthier as you turn your activities into your new lifestyle.

Are you wanting to make changes in 2018? Do you have goals or plans for yourself to get there? What motivates you to do it?

 

goals

 

 

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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As the old Christmas song goes… “it’s the most wonderful time of the year….”

This is a disclaimer before you proceed reading anymore :

I’m gonna get all kinds of nostalgic on you so either buckle up and grab a fresh cup of coffee or abandon your computer for higher ground .

You’ve been warned.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I’m pretty sure my mom and grandparents had a lot to do with making that impression on me.

My memories of childhood were of fun, festivities, and family. Of course there were always lots of delicious baked goods and candies, and everything was always beautifully decorated. Christmas music was on and I remember my mom and grandmother singing along with various songs. There were special table linens and candy/cookie trays that were brought out every year to be filled again.

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Speaking of childhood and vintage. How about a couple pics of yours truly age 17 mos. and 6 years. I look thrilled over that baby which I still have…somewhere.

 

Cookies. Can you say… cookies? Of all the ones to be chosen, the cut out cookies still have my heart. All of those fun Christmas shapes in sugar cookie form … is there anything better? That is one thing today my kids all still love doing. Piling in at the kitchen table and decorating trees, Santas, reindeer, angels, sleighs, snowflakes, gingerbread boys and girls. My mom had tons of cool cutters that I enjoy using as well along with the ones I already had.

The season was steeped in many traditions for me.

As a family we always went together and bought a fresh tree. I’m grateful no one had any issues that kept us from having one because to this day it’s one of my favorite things to go do… pick out the biggest tree I can get my paws on… thank goodness I have 12 ft ceilings now! As a child our ceilings were much shorter so we were limited in the height we could drag home.  This years specimen comes in right around 11 ft and it smells soooo amazing. Some years the fragrance isn’t as strong, this year, beautiful AND fragrant.

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The photo really doesn’t do it justice

 

No, I don’t mind a real tree, and no I don’t mind cleaning up at the end of the season. It’s all worth it to me.

My children are adults now ( good heavens… I can’t believe that sometimes) and they too continue to expect a real tree and the married ones plan to carry on the tradition.

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I love looking into the tree when it’s lights are the only thing on. It’s still magical to me.

 

So we had the tree covered in bright lights ( remember those big C7 lights you could line a run way with?? I do have those on my tree but they are the more modern ones that stay cool and wont burn the tree down) and family decorations, amazing homemade treats, beautifully wrapped packages, family, special meals, worship service and of course the celebration of Jesus birth.

I simply grew up immersed in the beauty of Christmas, and not just the beauty, the magic too. The magic of waiting expectantly for Santa on Christmas Eve and the inability to fall asleep from excitement. My family always worked to make sure that the magic was a part of Christmas.

My mom was such a child at heart about Christmas till the day she left this earth. I’m afraid I’m no different.  I still get excited at Christmas and I have a hard time sleeping sometimes.. only now I’m Santa and my kids and grandbabies get to experience it.

It was a sobering moment to me thinking this year that I’m the only one left to carry on all these traditions that have become precious to me. To pass them on to my children and their families.

Let me say I’m fully aware that Christmas isn’t fun for many, especially when they are acutely aware of loved ones that are missing from their lives.

Nothing brings that loss home more than Christmas time and I can fully speak to that.

In the last 5 years I’ve lost my brother, my mother, and this past year, my dad.  At this time of year there are moments that the pain and anguish strike my heart and spirit  so hard it almost takes my breath away.

I deeply miss my people.

I miss the ones who shared those long ago memories with me. I miss taking out certain decorations or ornaments and reminiscing about them. Oh, I still do on many items as I share stories of various treasures with my kids but they don’t have the memories associated with it.

In this last year I’ve also been busy cleaning out my parents entire house and going through years of….life. It has to be done but there have been so many days it’s been an agonizing road to walk.  There were times I went in with the intent to work and only found myself sobbing on the sofa longing for those I loved to be there again.

However, in the cleaning process I’ve found some beautiful treasures that I have brought home to enjoy and to share with my kids. One thing I finally felt emotionally strong to do was go through the various boxes of carefully wrapped ornaments that had been my mothers and my grandmothers. I tried last year but opening the box that she had last carefully packed away was a bit more than I could handle at the time.

This year, I brought everything out. I laid them all on the table smiling, laughing and sometimes crying looking at all of the years of Christmas treasures in front of me. I pulled precious old ones from the mix, ones of my grandmothers that date back to World War 2.  There were treasured delicate glass ornaments that have always gone at the top of tree to protect them, now in my care to treasure. There were silly ones that for some reason I always loved, like these colored glass balls that had big fake eyes and a foam mustache. When my brother and I moved out my mom gave me a blue one and my brother a red one. Two years ago mine fell from the tree and shattered in a million pieces. Yes, I cried.  Going through my brothers ornaments I came across the red one… somehow it was like an old friend was back as I settled it into a position on my tree.

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He’s old and not fancy, but I love him. As a child I named him Oscar.

 

 

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One of several from my grandmother that date back to World War 2.

 

Speaking of trees….

I realized that one poor tree, no matter how big, reaches a point of holding all the memories of Christmas past.  However, I can have several other trees that are fun or have a theme. Of course my kids might secretly be wondering if I’m turning into a crazy old tree lady… 😉

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I love this little pink tree. It’s fun, whimsical and is my gingerbread/candy tree in my kitchen. I add real colored candy canes to it as well.

 

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The tinsel tree is a new acquisition this year. The tree is new but it’s covered in vintage glass ornaments. The little house in front is actually an old light bulb that my great grandmother used on her tree
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I love the rustic look of all of this. The trunk was a great yard sale find years ago for 15.00. It’s an 1800’s steamer trunk.

 

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I won’t lie. I’m seriously in love with this. I picked up the tiny white tree this year and it’s covered in more vintage glass ornaments. The old wooden coke crate contains many more that were on my grandmothers tree.

 

So many treasures are vintage collectibles now. Not just that, it’s the history they hold as well that means so much to me.

AH! I’m vintage.

Ha well in the life of Christmas decorations when they are up and over 50plus years that’s pretty old. I’m fascinated with the Christmases they have seen and sometimes wonder how they’ve survived so long.

My cardboard Christmas houses, so delicate and fragile and originally only pennies in a dime store are now worth hundreds of dollars depending on the era it came from, style etc.

I am completely enthralled with them. However, my love again, was started as a child when my grandmother would place her little village out with the Barclay skater people. It was one of my most favorite parts of Christmas. I was thrilled when my mother let me have the beat up old village when I found it in the back of the loft long forgotten. I took them home and carefully restored them. It was only when I began digging into their history that I found the ones I grew up with were actually the end of an era of these unique houses. The first ones had been produced in the late 1920’s -early 30’s into the 40’s and 50’s and were last made in the mid 60’s a far cry for the original grandeur they had been crafted in.

Today, I have my grandmothers original set I still put out for that is where my childhood memories are.

But I’ve also carefully collected some beautiful, unique houses by shopping carefully and skillfully on Ebay. There are some I have to look wistfully at and let go as they soar in price zones I won’t participate in.

All of the houses in my collection are  70-80 years old. How they have withstood the test of so many Christmases gone by always amazes me. Some I’ve purchased and carefully done some restoration on. Others, I’ve purchased knowing they will stay “as is” in my collection mainly because the coloring or materials would be impossible to find and replicate now.

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Shhh step into my quiet winter wonderland…

 

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Churches are my favorite pieces. The red windowed one is from the early 1930’s.  The one on end hales from the same era. I’ve collected seven unique ones.

 

I wrote a post on them last Christmas, you can learn more reading “Favorite Things Of Christmas”  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/12/22/favorite-things-of-christmas/

I guess I should say for a more modern, trendy girl, I absolutely love and adore vintage Christmas. The new cheap modern day stuff doesn’t have the same appeal to me. I think though, it’s more because my heart is connected to the times gone by with the old items from the past.

But life moves forward, and memories are sweet and dear and keep us connected to those we’ve loved and have been privileged to share the journey of life with. As I’ve decorated this year it has been a sweet treat to incorporate so many things from the past that are old and beautiful with newer things I’ve collected with my family over these past years.

I love being able to create a magical, special season for my family like I knew growing up. It blesses me that they appreciate it so much and enjoy being there. I want them to have memories of special times and special things that they can share with their children.

Traditions. Simple or elaborate I want them to have the history of traditions.

But Christmas is so much more. It’s a time in the year when we should be more mindful than ever of peace, love, and joy. To be mindful of those we hold dear and the treasure that they are to us.  To give those gifts freely and generously back to them.  To embrace some of the simplicity of the season and not be swooped up in the commercial money train it has become.  To enjoy the presence of each other because that isn’t always granted to us.

I hope that you make your own traditions with those you love. I hope you value and embrace the simple things that make Christmas so beautiful and magical. I pray you know the peace and joy that this season is about and that it stays with you all year long.

As I’m concluding this post, and thinking of peace, I can’t help but mention it has been snowing here now for over an hour. I’ve watched big white fluffy flakes tumble from the sky and blow through the air, silently beautiful, peaceful.

It’s kind of a big deal for a girl who lives in south Texas… we rarely ever see snow.

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Do you wanna build a snowman? My adult sons crafted this big guy.

 

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Oh my! Did we get some snow! How beautiful is this?? Our first real snow since 1985. What an exciting day and night it turned into! A bit of a white Christmas for us.

 

 

It’s peaceful and quiet… it’s been reflective for me. I pray you know and experience all of the things that matter most in this Christmas season and that you have eyes of a child to still appreciate the magic and a spirit that receives the peace and hope of the Christ child.

Do you have special traditions or things that make Christmas magical to you? What are your favorite childhood memories?

Duathlon Journey: The Recap

It’s now 2 weeks out since I did my first multi sport race, the duathlon,  that I’ve been blabbing up for months to you.  I finally got my little paws on some of the pics they took while on course so I could use them when I wrote this.

You didn’t expect me to just use random stock photos off Google, did you ? 😛

Where do I start?

As I knew it would be, I felt the let down once it was over. The months of training, the days in front of me with my goal at the end, now finished.

Something to celebrate, right? A new adventure conquered, new challenges overcome, another athletic event that I never dreamed I’d do accomplished.

I guess I should mention I’ve had this race on my list for several years now. Due to an injury I was getting over at one point and other things that came up I had been unable to really pursue it.

All I wanted to do was get to a point where I could at least run the distance for the duathlon even if it meant my distance running might still be on hold for awhile.

As I slowly crept back into running, I was getting stronger and more powerful on the bike. I learned I was fairly good at it and could eat up a lot of miles in a quick time.

I knew this would be the year so when registration opened in June, I paid up and made the commitment.

My first duathlon was etched on my calendar.

As you know from previous posts, I was committed to my training, even training in weather that was less than ideal because on race day you never know what you will get. I gave up being a fair weather athlete a long time ago. I know if I’m going to build not just my body, but mind, I need to know how to handle more adverse conditions.

Of course there was more than just me involved in the event…let’s not forget… the bike.

I can’t neglect saying how grateful I am for a wonderful bike shop and the guys who keep my little Cannondale in top shape. 2 weeks out from race I picked it up looking almost all kinds of new again. Poor thing, I’d put some serious miles on it. Not only did they get new tires on it, and clean the chain ( ohhhh it IS silver haha) they checked my brakes, tweaked and adjusted some other things, and made sure my fit was perfect on it. I love being in a place “talking shop” with others who do what I do, and who challenge me to press on to bigger things.

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My bike rarely gets to ride shotgun 😉

 

With the bike in good working order, it was taper time whether I wanted it or not, a winding down to race day. I kept riding and short runs but the ultimate goal was to arrive at the start line healthy and energetic for the task in front of me.

Race Day

There are two things I think athletes worry about before a big event they’ve been training for.

Getting sick and the weather.

Thankfully, I was strong and healthy and the weather although a brisk low 40’s in the morning, was clear, bright and the sun soon showed up for the festivities.

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Waiting in the crisp, cold, beautiful morning with a ton of hyper energy pre-race

There’s something about being at a race with other athletes and this energy that’s almost palpable that makes my heart beat fast.

Although I’ve done many running races before this was my first multi sport event and my first biking event. I checked into the transition area, got marked ( I was sooo excited to finally do something where I got marked… but unfortunately it was under my shirt ha oh well) I got my gear set up and did some light jogging around parking lot to loosen up and set my mind for what was coming.

This event was the state Championship Duathlon and was hosted by a local college. Many college tri teams from across the state were there to race. I was surrounded by athletes the ages of my kids or younger 😛

This race is also listed as “the toughest in the state”.

They tell no lies about that… tough is an understatement.

I understood what was in front of me having trained on it, but I had a healthy fear and respect for it every time I stepped out there. To under estimate it would certainly sink me.

My plan for the race? Simple and straight forward.

To run and bike just like I’d trained and not get caught up in the hype and energy of the crowd but stay in my head and run my own race. I knew the first half mile- mile out was a brutal start as it’s all up a long and winding hill. I knew how I’d paced myself in practice and my goal was to stay there.

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Heading into the hills for the first run.. it was bit to chilly to toss clothes yet!

 

I settled into my first mile which was a little faster than I had been running it but that was ok. Then my Garmin came up at mile 2 telling me I’d just done it in 9:29 I was pretty happy with that. Overall, when I finished my 5k it was over a minute faster than the week before when I’d practiced and my fastest 5k in a long time.

Amazing what a competitive spirit will do haha

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Wrapping the 5k heading to the transition area.

 

Ok so this was all new to me, the whole multi sport, transitioning thing. It’s one thing to practice transition when you are alone ( I had it down to 30 seconds) it’s a whole new game when you’re surrounded by a zillion other bikes and athletes gear and come running in to change and find nothing is like you left it.

Yikes!

My first transition time was longer than I wanted mainly because I knew I had to lose the jacket and peel down to my cycling shorts. I perform way better a little chilled than warm and knew the bike was gonna demand a lot from me so I took a little extra time to do that.

Once on the bike, I knew I would close a gap because I’m strong on the hills. It should be noted we biked right back out where we had run, running up and down hills, then getting on the bike to ride them, ha hello quads.

One by one I methodically picked off cyclists in front of me, a game almost. I churned along knowing some of the toughest stuff was still coming, but also reminding myself I was more than capable and had done it before.

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AND a smile for the photographer.  Still smiling after cresting the monster hill that’s behind me

I had to really focus on what I was doing approaching the huge hill as I noted a half dozen cyclists pushing bikes up.

This seriously can mess with my head. I narrowed my vision and did what I had practiced when I rode it… I recited a nursery rhyme in my head…

“One, two buckle my shoe, three, four shut the door….”

Don’t ask.

It just popped in one day as I was grinding up and it became a game, how many times till I reached the top?  ( 2 “ish” times if you’re wondering haha)

But powered up it I did.

On the return trip I pushed hard knowing the last run leg was in front of me… so close to finishing.

The last run.

From practice I already knew how that felt. It’s hard. It’s not just the physical, it’s mental too. I have learned so much about dialing into my head and trying not to be distracted at what’s around me. As I made a turn where the aid station was the young people manning it were doing the usual “you’re doing awesome, almost done!” mantra. I quipped I had paid money to do this when I hear behind me… “yeah, but you’ve been kicking my butt the whole time!” I looked over my shoulder at this young college girl behind me, one I had sailed by on my bike, it was the motivation I needed to finish off that last half mile.

The Finish Line

When I saw the finish line I can’t describe the feelings and emotions that came over me. I saw my time and was pretty happy with that too.

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The home stretch, still smiling.. And yeah, I had lost more clothes 😛

 

I heard the announcer call my number and name as I ran across the finish  line and as the guy behind lines guided me where to go I felt it coming on… tears forming in my eyes… I took a deep breath willing myself not to sob out loud.

I did it. My first duathlon. I did it!  I was simply overcome with emotion.

He saw my face and bless his heart was immediately concerned. “are you ok? do you need anything?”

I assured him I was physically fine but just overwhelmed…. my emotions came out after all the months of training to finally be there in that moment… I just couldn’t hold them back.

As I left the finish area I found hubby and again, just sobbed on him. He too was immediately concerned, but he’s more used to my emotions at times like that than poor unsuspecting guy at finish line. And can I just say how much I appreciate all of his awesome support for what I do? An amazing guy he cheers and supports and encourages my madness. I couldn’t do what I do without him or his support.

Of course I went to the tent to use the laptop to pull up my bib number and get my stats. My time was pretty much what I’d seen when I hit the finish line, however it was another number that caught my attention and I choked out to hubby…

“Am I reading this right?? Does it mean what I think it means??”

I hadn’t really breathed out loud to anyone that it would be kinda awesome to place in my age group.. but this number told me I placed first in my age group.

More tears. Sweet heavens. I’m such a baby.

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Does my smile say it all? Nothing felt better that day.

 

Honestly… I can’t describe how it all felt.  To have accomplished something so big, to have challenged myself beyond what I thought I could do, was overwhelming and rewarding all at once.

The aftermath

I know the let down that comes from preparation of big events. It’s weird to not have this specific “thing” I’m training for. I also  get used to my body physically changing as it peaks into top condition ( a place I loath giving up) but I also know I can’t keep myself at this level all the time.  I loved marking off my training calendar each day as I knocked out what needed to be done and seeing those days move me closer to my goal.

It’s hard to come off the physical and mental high that events like this bring.

So the solution is??

Ha… plan my next adventure! 2018 is coming and I’m already planning the duathlon again as my fall event. I want a shot at getting a new PR.

I have a spring half marathon in mind as well as my first long ride, a 60 mile, ’cause why start small?

I haven’t ruled out someday …maybe… a triathlon… it seems HUGE to me right now but I’m also reminded what I just did would’ve seemed huge to me a few years ago but I did it.

If you’ve stayed with me to this point can I remind you that as the saying goes, you’re never to old set new goals or dream new dreams.

Set some new goals for yourself in 2018.

Or have you already? What plans do you have for yourself in the upcoming year? Tell me.

Simple Nutrition

Yeah, hello, I’m still alive out here.  No, the duathlon didn’t leave me laying on the side of the road 😛  I promise, I am doing a recap but…well… they keep teasing us with all our free race photos and course I wanna toss one or two of those in as well… so hopefully sometime this week you can find it here so stay tuned. I had fun and I did ok so check back. 😉

However a busy Thanksgiving week and all my well intended plans to scratch something out for you seemed to sail out the window.

So much tasty food for Thanksgiving. Some new dishes shared as well as the traditional favorites everyone enjoys.

It goes without saying that eating comes pretty naturally for all of us. Where we differ is how we choose to eat and the foods that we put into our bodies.

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Every time we eat, we have the power to make choices.

Obviously, how I feed my body is important to how well I can potentially do my training sessions and also have energy for the rest of my day. I’ve learned that cutting back on food or not eaingt pre work out is the equivalent of taking off on a long trip with your gas tank sitting on or close to the empty mark.

In todays busy world food sometimes seems complicated and it shouldn’t be. I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over food .. unless it’s 4:30 and the dinner hour is breathing down my neck, everything is frozen, and I’m completely clueless what to feed the crew.

THEN I might start obsessing a little.

Having healthy snacks or easy balanced and nutritious meals shouldn’t have to stress you out. I’ve personally found if I have healthy foods in my ‘fridge with easy access to them I’m always more likely to grab them.

No, I don’t meal prep or have 50 containers of the exact food waiting for me day after day. There are foods that I can easily grab or assemble as a snack if I feel like I’m famished ( and some days after long training sessions those moments can come on quickly) Maybe you haven’t done a long training session but maybe you’ve put in a long day at work and dinner is still in the process of coming together.

Taking a little time to prepare some things to keep on hand will help you make healthier snacks choices.

Consider things like:

Hard boiled eggs

Cheese sticks or cheese cubes

A variety of precut, prepared veggies you can grab

Ranch dip, made with non-fat Greek yogurt

Fresh fruit

Peanut butter ( in moderation)

Grilled or baked chicken ( works for so many different things)

Greek yogurt ( toss in some berries or raw almonds)

Raw nuts like almonds or walnuts

Homemade smoothies with your choice of fruit, milk etc. (be really mindful of buying smoothies when you’re on the go as they are often high in sugar and loaded with tons of calories. )

I also like to keep whole grain crackers around. I will put together a small plate with some cheese and fruit to carry me over till I can eat my next meal.

Or try this tasty little healthy snack:

Apple slice cookies:

Red delicious apple ( you need a nice firm apple for slicing) , peanut butter, unsweetened coconut, mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts.

Core apple, slice into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on cookie sheet and press with a paper towel to absorb excess water ( this will help peanut butter stay in place) spread a  thin layer of peanut butter then add coconut, walnuts and mini chocolate chips.

Enjoy 🙂

The more prepared you are the more likely you are to make good choices.

But back to that dinner thing….

I know I’m not the only one who sometimes bangs their head against the wall thinking of something clever for dinner. Personally, I could eat meat and veggies of some sort all the time but the rest of the crew.. well they have different ideas at times 😉

Mind you.. I have like… 5 thousand cook books so it’s not like I lack a place for ideas.  It’s just that they aren’t always with me if I’m out running around an realize I need food ideas.

Enter Pinterest

Who doesn’t always have their phone with them? And if you haven’t checked out Pinterest, will you should. All I have to do is open that app and search up some dinner recipes. Although now I actually have a board started with all kinds of tasty dinner recipes to choose from so I can be in the store, get the ingredients if I don’t have them and still put something new and delicious together.

( Click on my Pinterest link to follow me there and find a lot of my fav dinner ideas.. oh… and do I have some desserts for you too 😉 )

My favorite  new thing is one sheet dinners. I’m telling you… your life will never be the same again…ever.

All of the tasty goodness is cooked on one pan. Easy clean up. Nutritious. And there is a huge variety of ideas.

Simple nutrition my friends, simple.

Some of my favorites:

https://pin.it/4nqwlidnygrmkg  ( Greek Chicken with Green Beans And Feta Cheese)

https://pin.it/o5yrbbd2v3vx2l  ( Sheet Pan BBQ Dinner)

https://pin.it/mwxp5oounhzkdt  ( Roasted Garlic & Herb Sausage and Potatoes)

https://pin.it/2qaxgmnxitv3k6 ( Asparagus Sweet Potato Chicken)

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I’ve made this too. It was a huge hit, and totally delicious

 

 

Not only are these meals easy to prepare with minimal work and clean up they offer a good variety from many food groups. Some are stand alone meals, some I might add a salad or bread depending on what it is.

Eating healthy with a focus on good food doesn’t need to be complicated. It may take a little time for you to get into the routine and find what works for you but once you adapt you will find it easier than ever to make healthy meals and snacks that will keep you on track with your health and fitness goals.