Friday, October 29, 2010

Eat Up, Buttercup. 3/5

    When I was chubbier...I ate less than I do now. It went like this:

10 AM- Wake up, have coffee
12PM- Lunch? Bagel. Buttery spread. Maybe some cereal.
2PM- Get ready for work, ....I'll buy dinner.
3 PM- Another bagel might work.
9PM- Take a to Panera, get fat soup and bread.
10 PM- Time for animal crackers. I'll have some cranberry juice.
11 PM- Home. Crash time.

    It's no wonder my scrubs were gettin' a little bit too tight.  I was working as a nursing aide and although it was a pretty physical job, my diet just wasn't doing anything to help me out.

  So here's to food. We could do this the old fashioned way, but what with computers and all, I'm going post a few links and we'll be there in no time.

Figure out your calories.

   If you signed up for sparkpeople, they give you a target calorie range. If you didn't, here's another way to figure your needs out. I said I would never count calories, and some people might not want to- which is why I like so much. You're counting, but if you follow the meal plans set up, you're not doing much more than clicking the foods you've eaten.

  As for the calculator- if you have a dog, and you walk him/her each day, but for the rest of the day you're not so active, then you can get by with Sedentary or Light Activity if you're using the calculator. If you go to the gym and you're doing intervals each day plus weight training two to three days a week, I would use somewhere between Light and Moderate Activity- Closer to moderate if you're doing jog/sprint intervals.

    Once you have a magic number, try your best for one day to right down how you're eating right now. See how many calories you're taking in, and if you enter them into, you can see how much fat/protein/carbs you're getting.

  Now, let's fill those puppies up. Calories can mean nothing if you're eating bagels and ceral and animal crackers. So follow this rule of thumb: 1 protein, 1 complex carbohydrate, 1 healthy fat - at each meal.

CC's= sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, sprouted bread...etc.
P= tofu, beans, lean cuts of this and that, tempeh, etc. (I use greek yogurt as a protein!)
F=olive oil, avocados, nut butters, etc.

   I like spark's setup for meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one to two snacks. Pack your lunch the night's so helpful and such a relief to know that everything is all done and ready!

    Remember to get plenty of leafy greens and around 3 to 4 servings of fruit. Aim to get 4 to 5 servings of veggies a day and you'll be golden. Once you fill your calories up with foods that will work for you and not against you, you'll see a change in your weight, in your energy, in your mood, everything. It's hard to get enough veggies and fruits...I still struggle on some days.

   Take a high quality multi-vitamin, drink at least 64 ounces of water each day (herbal, caffeine free tea counts! For every caffeine drink you take in, add another 6-8 ounces of water to your intake goal).

Uhhhhmmmm....I know I'm missing things. But I think that's a good start!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Choices....part 2/5

     There's this great quote about choices, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it says or who said it. So obviously I'm really helpful. Anyway.

     When I was bigger, I could not see that it was because of my choices. And not only was I bigger, I was unhappier, unhealthier, and angrier. I was my world...I was so worried and focused on what the next day would bring in the way of my job, my successes and failures, that I could hardly see that it was my own chubby-snippy-angry self getting in the way of me truly living. I had chosen to study a field I wasn't passionate about. I had chosen to neglect my nutrition. I had chosen to pay for a gym membership that I hardly ever used. I chose to eat bagels and tater tots galore. I had chosen to focus on a way of life that I thought would help me find that darn American Dream.  (I was set with the white picket fence deal, Brett's family owns a great fence company).

    In making all of those choices, I lost myself. So one day, after seeing a number on the scale that I was unhappy with, I made another choice. I chose to lose some weight. I joined (free website that is incredibly helpful and motivating)  and I began my journey of different choices there. I had no idea that in losing weight, I would gain so much more.

    For me, it started that one little choice. I finally gave up the endless excuses and made  a change. Anyone can do it, and you don't need anything but yourself to do it. So while I'm not a weight loss expert, I want to help anyone (even if only one) that I can start their journey. So while these first two posts have been jibber jabber about excuses and choices, the next three are going to be pretty simple: food and exercise.

     I guess I'm doing this because I've been asked a lot how I did it- from friends to people I've trained to people I've met on SparkPeople. And so many people have done it before me and have lost more than me, and I realize that. So I'm just another person but if I can be of any help, please don't hesitate to reach out. So feel completely free to ask any questions (private or public) from anything as simple as what intervals are to something as complicated as caloric needs per day. If I can't answer it, I have a lot of great resources to offer up.

Join me at:  

     So for today, if you're bored, check out If you're trying to lose weight or trying to get healthier, make the choice to sign up.

Monday, October 25, 2010

forgot my ponytail holder... part 1 of 5

     Nicely done, Tufts.

This is one of my all-time favorite commercials, and it has prompted me to write a five part bit about weight loss, exercise, healthy lifestyles, trainers, the gym, and the whole shebang in general. In fact, I'm going to fill these posts with as much as I can, explain how I lost the weight  myself, and pretty much prove why no one needs a personal trainer for the long haul. (Ok, there are some instances where they really come in handy. Like post physical therapy, if you're ridiculously rich and fantastic, etc. But I'm talking about the average Jane using a ponytail holder as an excuse not to work out, who also happens to be carrying around an extra 20 to 30 el bees) Which some people would say is silly, considering that's what I'm working towards as a job. Anyway. I want to bring up excuses.

I love excuses. A week ago, I made a really great excuse to not work out, and I need to share it.
It was Brett's 23rd birthday, and we were celebrating. And so, I said to myself, ''Today I will not go to the gym, because I will eat cake. That way, tomorrow, without any cake in my system, I will have a better fresh start at the gym.''

Really? Really. I actually said that to myself, it's true. So I'll leave it at that for today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Laura Ingalls Wannabe

     Ever since reading the LHOTP series when I was younger, I've always wanted to have  my own Little House life. I loved the thought of being completely self-reliant (although I couldn't exactly articulate it that way when I was six), and that most everything they needed was right there with them. 

     I wanted it all. I wanted the dresses, the aprons, the petticoats, the molasses cookies, the homemade this and that, the barn, the trips to town, everything. I dressed up with long skirts and layers, and created this little world in our house and in our yard that was almost suitable for Laura herself.  I tried with all the convincing I could to get my best friend to go along and become an Ingalls with me (No luck there). And, to be completely upfront with my small audience, I even wrote in my journal with a voice from the 1870's. (It's hidden in the top drawer of my dresser. And let's just say that it's more than entertaining to read. I don't have the guts to quote myself.) 

     Now, almost sixteen years later, I can safely say that I still have that craving for that Little House life.  However, I've slightly (okay, more than slightly) modernized my dream by sticking with electricity and running water. ( Those are definites. I like that stuff. ) But other than that, I would love to buy a piece of land and have a small community of friends where we build our own homes and grow most of our own food. (Each year I get slightly better at gardening...our raised beds got bigger this year, so we'll take that as a step in the right direction. Next year, I hope to actually keep the weeds down.)

     So at this point, I'm not sure that Laura would entirely approve of my garden keeping and Little House skills in general. She would, however, give me the thumbs up on my homemade laundry detergent. (Ignoring the fact that I rely on a washer and dryer to get my clothes clean. If we lived in our own house, we would have plenty of clothesline to eliminate the need for a dryer).

    Eventually, I hope to be living the modern homestead lifestyle that would make Laura proud. Until that day, I'll catch up on some re-runs of Little House on the Hallmark channel.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roo Prefers Pumps: My Journey to Caring Less About Things

This is Roo. Roo is my rescue mutt from Missouri and I think I am beyond in love with her. In this picture, Roo is sitting on an expensive rug that she likes to chew and bite and rip up. Honestly, I like the rug. I think it's fun. It was a gift from my mother-in-law and I think that may be why I get a slight twinge of ''uh-oh'' rush through me when I see Roo tearing the threads up. I also get slightly worried because it's probably not the best thing to be running through her belly. So I give her something else to focus on. But the truth is, it doesn't bother me at all that there are raised and worn areas of the rug from her incessant gnawing and chewing. I don't care that she chewed up my coffee table....(I only worry because  of the particle board splinters...again, I give her something else to focus on)....or that she chewed up a really cute pair of black pumps of mine. Actually, I think it's pretty adorable when she runs into our bedroom and comes back with a shoe to chew. 

I wasn't always this way. In fact, up until a couple years ago, I used to save things. Ridiculous things.  I would be going through a drawer of ....junk.....and I would find and attach different sentimental reasons as to why this particular marble/rubber band/throw-a-way coaster/pamphlet/colored paper clip needed to stay right where it was. I would hold on to endless amounts of clothing- jeans that no longer fit, sweaters that didn't look good on me, and things that I just simply never wore.

I'm different now. I went through a huge lifestyle change (faith, love, health, food, money) and now I can't clear my space fast enough.   It's so crazy to think that not long ago, I held on to these things  and let them take up actual space in my home and in my thoughts. So, every week on the day that I clean the apartment, I vow to get rid of at least five things to donate or to get rid of. This helps me not to go back to my old ways of saving and also keeps the apartment de-cluttered.  I'm still working on it, and I'm still paring down. Luckily, Roo is a great help.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Live Above Your In-Laws

I live above my in-laws. And the truth is, I never thought that would be the case.

I knew that I would marry and spend my life with Brett within weeks of meeting  him, all at the wise age of 15. And with that, I also somehow conjured up this situation where we owned a house immediately and had money to buy things from the Pottery Barn catalogs that I drooled over.

But here I am, sitting in my upstairs home, right above my mother-in-law's den. I can hear them shuffling chairs about and the dogs walking on the wood floors. At night, we can hear the Law and Order/NCIS/SVU/Solve-this-murder-in-this-city shows that boom from their surround sound system. And honestly, at this point, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Every time our living situation comes up in conversation with a new person, we're always asked if it's separate from their space .YES! We have a separate entrance, we have locking doors, we have our own bathroom, kitchen, washer and dryer, and even our own coffee maker (Brett's boss once asked if his Dad made his morning coffee....tsst).We can even go days without seeing our landlord. On other days, it's nice to be able to just run downstairs and chat. Our apartment is, in my opinion, comfortable, home-y, warm, and just right.

Some people think we're crazy, and I probably would have agreed two years ago. But their generosity and willingness to help us out as we save and pay off debt is pure love, and I am truly grateful. It's definitely more of a community feel, which I know I'll miss when we do move out.  Until then, I find comfort in the nightly murder mystery murmer from below.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I love laundry.


   So anyone who really knows me, knows that I have this not-so-secret adoration for laundry. It started when I was a freshman in high school, when I realized that there was such a thing as fabric softener. After I made the discovery, I made a beeline for our local wal-mart and spent at least thirty minutes in the laundry aisle scouting out my first scent (I went with ALL brand in the fresh rain scent, if you were wondering). I also purchased the matching laundry detergent, a downey ball, some stain remover, and a tote to carry it all down to the basement in.

    But that was then, and this is now. I now have double the clothes to wash, dry, fold, and put away- which I'm not complaining about. In fact, when we got married, I have to admit that I was slightly excited to have more laundry to be in charge of. Only to find out that Brett enjoys a fresh batch from the dryer just as much as I do- so it's actually a chore we kindly bicker about periodically.

  But the truth is that laundry care is expensive, and it's not exactly the most earth-friendly, either. My collection of half empty bottles of softener (I like to try new scents) isn't exactly economical, and it's a lot of money that we really don't need to spend. So I decided to make our own detergent, and I'm sharing the recipe here because it's easy, cheap, and it can be customized with your own favorite essential oil scent.

- 1/3 bar of soap (I use Fels Naptha)
- 1/2 C borax
- 1/2 C washing soda
- plenty of water

*You'll also need a 2 gallon bucket with a lid if you plan on storing your detergent in something other than a detergent jug*
**I use an old detergent container with a dispenser, if you plan on using a container like this, get your hands on a funnel!**

1) Grate soap into a medium sauce pan, and add 6 cups of water and stir until the soap melts.
2) Add borax and washing soda and let mixture thicken while you continue to stir.
3) Pour 4 cups of water into the 2 gallon bucket, and then add the soap mixture.
4) Now add 22 cups of cold water to the soap mixture, and stir.
5) Allow detergent to sit overnight, add essential oil (optional) at this stage.

Note: The detergent does not look like tide. It looks like ...goop. One 1/2 cup per average size load is all you need.

The cost cannot be beat, and it's pretty cool to be able to say that you made your own detergent. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brett the Builder

So Brett does side jobs in addition to his day job, and he's really handy. We're doing our best to get rid of debt as quickly as possible, so that's where my income and his side jobs come in. Here's a few pictures of the custom shed he's doing right now for a local customer.

I'm very helpful at jobs like this.  


I think I could live in something this size. This will be finished to look like the owner's home, complete with a farmers porch and everything.

See you tomorrow!

Hi, I'm Emma.

So after a year or so of wanting to write a blog, here I am! I'm 21, married to my high-school 'sweetheart', and we live in a cozy apartment in the upstairs of my in-law's house with our two cats (Melon and Hank) and mutt pup (Roo).

I currently work part-time watching two young kids for an amazing family and very part-time as a personal trainer in people's homes or in our little studio. Right now, my focus is on earning my second PT certification, so I spend time each day studying and preparing for the big test. I also just completed a program in phlebotomy, just in case I want to throw that into the mix! I love learning, I love dabbling, and I love teaching myself new things. Which is why my day-job(s) are completely untraditional.

I enjoy running, working out, my friends, cooking, reading, being with Brett, walking with Roo, snuggling with Roo, training, coffee, eating, hiking, and trying to be thrifty.

Brett is my amazingly-wonderful-big-guy husband and we met when I was in the eighth grade. We have been together for over six years, and we recently celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. I couldn't ask for a better guy. He works in construction and is, in my opinion, an incredibly talented carpenter, although he'd never admit that about himself. He works with a really great local business doing lots of remodels/additions. I love him. A lot.

So, this is just my introduction, and I have lots and lots of posts I can't wait to share. This blog is about our little life upstairs and all that comes with it. I'm not a marriage counselor, I'm not a life coach,and  I have absolutely no expertise in any area. Our life is small, our life is simple, and I wouldn't have it any other way. So thanks for stopping by, and please come back again!
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