Turning 30… Away from home

So I’m away on vacation – I apologize for the lack of posts but thought I’d share a few photos today since Melissa and I are taking a mid vacation rest this afternoon to cool of burnt skin before visiting two more islands tomorrow and Monday…

We’re currently in Tortola, British Virgin Islands and it’s absolutely amazing… We came to celebrate our 30th birthdays (mine was thursday and Melissa’s will be in a few weeks)… So here are a few photos of the paradise we’re living in!

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30 for 30

About a week ago my good friend Judge texted me – said he had this great idea for me… something I’d love… Judge is turning 40 a week after I turn 30 and we’re having a little mutual get together after I get back from vacation and we’re both honestly kind of embracing these big numbers – excited to see what happens…

Judge tells me – we should do our top songs of our lives… top 40 for me top 30 for you…. My brain about exploded… nope – can’t do it… you could not expect me to rank these songs right… I’m the girl with over 1500 songs on her itunes – not counting the 400 in my cloud because I don’t have room for them – or the CDs in my car or the music sitting on the computer in the spare room upstairs that doesn’t even turn on anymore – and its from back when DC++ and Napster were still a thing… yeah… yeah…. that much music…

But it was a challenge – I needed a distraction… so in about an hour I sat down determined to do this thing…

Let me warn you – this list… eclectic MESS… and the reason behind some of these songs will make you go… uh… Natalie… what….

So me though….

30. Sunset Boulevard – Emblem3…. Don’t judge don’t judge I know not the best way to start my list but when I started running again this was the only song that got me moving when I was stuck… It just pumped me up and reminds me of my trip to LA and I love it… it makes me feel young again…

29. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran… Clearly made a quick impact as a new song and already onto my list… it’s just so beautiful and the lyrics make you just love the idea of love again…

28. Deliverance – Bubba Sparxxx…  The rift of this song reminds me of a time when I didn’t let life get the best of me… that’s really all there is to it…

27. With You – Jessica Simpson… you can call it tuna or chicken or whatever you want but this song makes me happy to be me and appreciate that it’s completely fine and that someone will love me just the way I am… 

26. Stay with Me – Sam Smith… Do I really have to explain… seriously…

25. Not Over You – Gavin DeGraw… When I saw Gavin perform live this song really just took on a new life… and it always was one of my favorites of his but how true it really is

24. Freshman – The Verve Pipe… there is no song that better defines the 90s for me… oh my this was the song on repeat… 

23. Alone with You – Jake Owen… So there are a few songs on this list that represent times in my life that aren’t ones I’m 100% proud of but the songs mean something so powerful to me that I can’t ignore them and drop them off… this one from the moment I heard it… yeah it was one of those… and always will be… thankfully now I can hear it in a different way…

22. Say Something – Great Big World… I bawled like a baby when I heard this song… this is when my connect with my dad starts to come into place… and it will be crazy strong for the rest of the list… one of the ways I stay connected to him is through music… it’ll be obvious…

21. I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice… I was supposed to be left my dad’s old 1970’s Duster that we drove grocery shopping every weekend for years when I was growing up… I never did get it… If I had… I’d be doing just what they talk about in this song…

20. Far from Home – Five Finger Death Punch… One of those songs you hear in a show and go omg find me that song… give it to me I can’t get enough of it!

19. Love the way you lie – Eminem and Rihanna… I mean when there is musical chemistry you can’t deny it – this is an example of it…

18. Otherside – Macklemore… Macklemore get’s ripped on a lot for some of his songs but there are some songs that are so raw and so real and they will find a way to dig at you and things that you identify with… Otherside is one of those… 

17. My Best Friend – Tim McGraw… Another one of the songs that you would love to leave off of the list because of what it means but when the song spans 10 years of your life and you’ll never be able to hear and not think of certain things of people well just admit it… and know that you’ve moved on and grown and learned and that you’re better for it…

16. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls… Tell me a girl that grew up in the 90s and 2000s who’s list this wouldn’t be on…

15. No Sunshine – DMX… I think when I’m really in a craptastic mood this song lets me vent it out and get over it and get on with things… Ain’t no sunshine….

14. You Gotta Be – Des’ree… Talk about a song that sets you back on track… this is it… You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser, You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger…

13. Stay (I Miss You) – Lisa Loeb… I sang karaoke once… I sang this song… the karaoke machine froze halfway through the song… lol… figures right…

12.  Mourning – Tantric… So this song has such a visual with it for me… I remember a time and place that I associate with this… such a down time in my life… when my dad was first diagnosed… this is always the song I remember from that time… and yet I find it therapeutic to listen to… 

11. Waterfalls – TLC… I will get Left Eye’s verse down one day… I will…

10. I Can Love You Like That – John Michael Montgomery… Perhaps ones of the best country love songs ever… don’t bother arguing you won’t win…

9. The Thunder Rolls – Garth Brooks… I loved this song as a kid… my mom used to get so mad saying I didn’t know what it was about… I learned how to play it on the piano and everything… still one of my favorite songs of his… just boom – sing it Garth…

8. It’s Been A While – Staind… This is my alternative rock song… I can’t ever get enough of it or Aaron Lewis’s voice… we all have been there – we all know what it feels like…

7. Kiss the Rain – Billie Meyers… I used to have this song on a tape cassette and I would play it at night as I went to bed… on repeat… something about it just always spoke to me… I don’t know why… 

6. Round Here – Counting Crows… LOVE this song… love love love it… Snap shot of real life if you ask me… the real life we don’t like to admit we all see

5. Don’t Take the Girl – Tim McGraw… The only repeat artist on my list… probably because I thought I was going to marry him when I was 10… this was a song that my dad and I both loved… Song that told a story… one day this man will play this at one of his shows one day…

4. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole… pure as pure gets… he knew how to sing a love song… I wanted this to be my wedding song if I ever got married… I think maybe it’ll just be my song for me though now…

3. Queen of My Double Wide Trailer – Sammy Kershaw… ok so here’s the WTF song on my list… when I was little I was obsessed with this song and my dad thought it was hysterical… The summer it was out he would call me from work if he heard it on the radio and tell me to turn the station on… if we were in the car he’d turn the volume up and we’d sing it at the top of our lungs… strangest song ever for a dad and daughter to love but my god it was our song… I smile every time I hear it… and tell him to turn the radio on in heaven… 

2. MMMBop – Hanson… Song that brought me back to pop music… I lived in oldies and country growing up and then Hanson happened… I still buy all their albums… they don’t sound a think like MMMBop anymore they are indie and soulful and just fantastic song writers but this song… this started it…

1. Follow you down – Matthew Mayfield… see now I reach number one and now I’m about to cry… 6-7 months ago I guess MMMBop would have been number 1 lol quite a switch to then go to Follow You Down… but nothing can touch this song for me… hello I wrote a whole blog post on it… This song is my heart my soul my life my 30 years in one song… if you asked me to sum up 30 years in 3 minutes it would be this song… 

There were a lot of artists that didn’t make this list – artists that I love but they didn’t have that one song that made me go omg that’s the song or they didn’t have a song that made me think of a very specific time or place or evoke a strong emotion out of me… so maybe my list is weird or awkward and random… but it’s mine… and I love it…

I’m so ready for this next chapter… I’m so ready for my next 30 years… I’m ready for the next 30 songs that will represent who I’ve been and where I’ve come from… Thursday I start Part II of my story… and I couldn’t be more excited…

Have salad, will travel

So I’m lazy….

Yep – no doubt about it… the thought of making a salad every single day exhausts me… Maybe I could pull it off the night before but then you risk getting soggy lettuce if the tomatoes get onto the lettuce and you can forget putting dressing anywhere near anything… not to mention plastic containers just don’t keep things very fresh… and morning of? well I’m lucky I get coffee a quick breakfast and matching clothes on before I go out the door…

Then the salad in a jar walked into my life…

Holy cow – how have I not found these before?!

There are tons of pinterest pages on them and over at Organize Yourself Skinny you can find a great tutorial and some fabulous recipes that are easy to get started with.

I promptly ordered myself some 32oz wide mouth mason jars off of amazon – really affordable if you ask me and counted the days until I had time to hit up the grocery store.  Then – Magic…

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Did I mention you can put things like avocado and guacamole into these salads and they keep relatively well? I’m on day 4 of my cajun shrimp salad and just now the guac is turning a bit – not enough to make me say ew though haha… if you pack the jar full of leafy greens at the top and seal it up good there isn’t enough air to do much damage and a little squirt of lemon or lime juice holds off the chemical reactions….

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So here’s the Cajun Shrimp Salad in a jar.

Here are the layers – top down

  • Baby Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cajun Shrimp (sauteed ahead of time and allowed to cool)
  • Homemade Guacamole
  • Sauteed onions and peppers
  • Mexican Salsa (Giant Eagle Brand)
  • 1 tbs (I swear that’s all!) of Nature’s Basket Ranch Dressing

Nothing really wet touches the leafy greens – the onions and peppers almost pickle a bit in the salsa and ranch and ooooooh its like a little fajita in your mouth when you shake it up and eat it.  Next time around I’m going to put in more lettuce and spinach… eek! who I am saying these things!!!

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Still a bit high on the cholesterol and fat but remember there’s avocado in that – good fats if you ask me…

Now – this Chicken Taco Salad

Raw chicken – not the most appealing photo but I was so excited about the flavoring I used….

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I used cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, roasted garlic and onion powder but because the roasted garlic doesn’t mix very well I mixed everything with olive oil and basically coated the chicken in it (a light coating don’t worry) and popped it into a hot pan.  The bf said it was pretty perfect when he sampled a bite…

The I started assembly…

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Chicken Taco Salad in a Jar

From the top down:

  • Baby Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Diced Chicken Breast – cooked
  • Avocado (with a spritz of lime/lemon juice)
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Sauteed Onions and Peppers (one of my jars had raw onion as I ran out of the sauteed ones but I’m guessing this will have that pickling effect in the salsa)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Mexican Salsa – Giant Eagle Brand

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I thought about throwing a couple of tortilla chips on top and might do that next time…

So get creative – there’s a whole world of these out there utilizing quinoa and pastas and really anything you can think of.  But the best part is that I made 8 salads in 45 minutes in one day including cooking the proteins and I’m set for lunch all week and a few dinners too.  Hence now being lazy isn’t too big of an issue.

So tell me – what are some of the things you’d love to see in a grab and go salad like this?  Have you made these before?

Prepping like a boss

Now say that with a little Rick Ross in your voice… 🙂

So as part of this healthy lifestyle change I’m working on embracing some food prep and time saving in the kitchen that I can actually manage… things that don’t involve a lot of leftovers in Tupperware and still give me relatively fresh alternatives.

Breakfast seemed like the easiest thing for me to tackle first… I eat the same thing just about every morning – eggs of some sort, sometimes some sausage some cheese some carb of some sort…

So when I stumbled over these little egg muffins that I could make on Sunday and that would keep for the entire week all I had to do was microwave and go I was PUMPED to try them…

The first time around last week I baked them for too long – but trial and error and this week – home run…

IMG_5005 As you can see I tried to show in stages of building here.  They have a whopping 5 ingredients in them and you can customize these any way that you want…

I chose breakfast sausage (bumped the fat content way up but you can cut this by subbing turkey bacon or a veggie sausage) sauteed onions, roasted red peppers and then just the egg mixture which is just egg and milk with some salt and pepper…  The key is to make sure the muffin tins are greased well otherwise you’ll have a mess when you try to pop these out later…

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don’t those look delish!!! I opt to not put the little topping of cheese on until I’m ready to eat them day off – stale melted cheese is the worst… sometime I’ll toast an english muffin and pop one of these on top for a ready to go sandwhich too…

Here are the nutrition facts below – like I sad fat content high – but easily tweaked and the protein is banging…

recipeTo make these just put you oven at 350 – assemble what you want in your muffin tins putting the egg in last – rule of thumb is 1 egg per every 2 muffin cups so if you only want to make 6 you only need 3 eggs and a 1/4 cup of milk.

Fill the cups 2/3 of the way full and pop into the oven for approx 25 min or until the egg is solid.  Remove, let cool slightly and pull those babies out – store in a ziplock bag and when ready to eat later in the week top with a little sprinkle of cheese and microwave for 45-60 seconds.

Doesn’t get much easier than that!!!!

Get ready – the Salads in a Jar are coming tomorrow – Cajun Shrimp Salad and Chicken Taco Salad….

Step One

Well Step One is just that… Taking the first step… literally…

My post on the 2nd got me so pumped… more so that I think I expected it too… plus the feed back from friends, family and those I network with on sites like Twitter and MyFitnessPal was fantastic…   People admitted that they had noticed a slight weight gain on me and they were glad I too had realized that it was time to change up the tone…

So sorry- I’ve not been snapping many pictures lately because I’ve been so busy finding motivational things to surround myself with – BUT I will have photos next week of some of the food changes I’m making that are helping me out already…

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This has been me after every work out the last few days… tired, sweaty, but summing it up with “Damn right I just pushed myself and I did it”.

I’m out of shape… I’ve lost flexibility, range of motion, strength and endurance over the last 4 months… In one of my circuits I go from modified push ups to a full plank – yep, nope didn’t happen… so I help a modified plank… and said ok next week I’ll get up to the full plank.. not a failure… so I can’t do it today – doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it tomorrow…

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How often this has been the story of my life… Falling and saying it’s fine I’ll catch up… and instead I basically just head back to the couch… I remain where I fell…  Knowing this definition of failure – I’m determined to not let it happen again… even on the days where I hurt, where I’m sore, where I’m tired – I’ll put on my tennis shoes and walk a mile on the treadmill… It’s SOMETHING… I didn’t stay where I fell…

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Think about it… how often do we go “oooooooh I want to look like so and so..” or “just give me this type of stomach” or “if only my leg’s weren’t so flabby”… guess what… it’s not about perfection… even people we think are “perfect” probably don’t see themselves as perfect… I want to be better in 3 weeks than I am today…

and I get to define what that “better” is.  Is better that I can do 10 military push ups instead of 5… is better that my pants are more comfortable… and what will I do if I don’t reach that “better” mark… will I identify what did actually get better? and will I get honest about why things didn’t get better – you bet…

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I’ve had a couple tests right off of the bat…  Last week I had a double ear infection… New Years Day I didn’t get off the couch… by Saturday I felt good enough to do intervals on the treadmill – so I did… for 3 miles… and then I did nothing the rest of the day and that was ok… then Sunday I walked for six miles… yep – just walked… and that was a-ok with me… what’s wrong with walking… Monday was supposed to be a rest day since I was still recovering from the ear infections but I had energy so I decided I’d walk again – 2.5 miles this time while I did laundry…

Then came the next set of tests… Monday night into Tuesday morning Minnie woke me up at 3am with a seizure in the kitchen… my alarm was set for 5am to do my first morning work out… I got up and sat with her until almost 4… I thought ok well I could go back to sleep until 6 and just make sure I hit the gym this evening… Then I realized I had a late conference call and odds of me carrying through with that were low…

So back to bed for an hour – up at 5am and work out in the books… did I start dragging in the afternoon you bet but I pushed through and crawled into bed at 9 that night..

Next test – Minnie – in her usually day after seizure mental fuzz and not used to mom being asleep so early helped herself to a full trashcan… and then to a sink with dishes that hadn’t been done… at 5am I came down to a kitchen that looked like a tornado had hit it… I was livid… 15 minutes to clean up then she got sick so cleaning up dog vomit (sorry for that mental image) and once again, so tempted to just be like well now I’m running late… but no I know if this new routine is going to sink in with her I have to stick with it…

So work out done… last night I prepped breakfast which made sure I still got out of the door on time this morning… I will not be stopped…

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I have some great role models right now that I can look at and say this about… Eventually we’ll talk all about them but I hope to stand by them eventually… that is my goal – that’s how I’m going to define my success…

I want someone to say you inspired me to take that first step…

I want someone to say you inspired to get up from where I fell and start again…

This has never felt so right before

Let’s Talk Motivation

Do you have it?  Do you lack it?  Is it something that comes and goes?

I tend to have a set amount of motivation and it just depends on the given day what I dedicate that to.  At least that’s how I’ve thought about it in the past.  The problem with that is that when I’ve ended up with one of my chronic migraine fits, all of my energy and motivation goes into “getting better” which means sleep and being lazy and taking medicine.  I’m starting to think that’s not really the way to go.

Also – here’s my warning in this post – I’m about to blow you up with motivational posters – you’re going to have to deal with it. 🙂 Love you guys too!

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So as I spent my new years with a migraine, double ear infection and sinusitis I thought to myself – something has GOT to GIVE.

I’ve used every excuse in the book… 4 knee surgeries, and ankle surgery, wrist surgery, chronic and episodic migraines, history of vitamin d deficiency, two bouts with chronic fatigue synonym, back issues, tendinitis throughout my legs, feet and wrists, degenerative arthritis in my knee, the list goes on… and you know what… there are people who have had it way worse than me and yet they still kick ass EVERY DAY…

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It’s time to suck it up… and be honest… I’m never going to be a marathon runner… I’m never going to be a crossfitter… I’m never going to be a swim suit model… but you know what I don’t have to be in this body… half of those “Excuses” I just listed are fixable and managable through WEIGHT LOSS…

Let’s be honest – I’ll never give up the combo of chocolate and peanut butter… I’ll still enjoy my stout beers and when I go on vacation I’m not going to track everything calorie for calorie but there is no reason to be out of control the way I’ve been lately…

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Ain’t that the truth… When I was exercising I was definitely feeling better – my problem was that I was getting completely defeated because when I couldn’t do a move in an exercise video or I couldn’t run the mile in under 10 minutes or run that second mile without stopping for a walk I felt like a complete failure.  Natalie and failure don’t mesh well together… Like. not. at. all.  So I quit…

There I said it… I quit… I gave up and I quit…

I used my back injury as the excuse to throw in the towel and say I was done… and right now I don’t regret that one bit because it was one hell of a wake up a call…

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I didn’t do this… I lost that loving feeling and I locked up that drawer of workout clothes and I said see ya later let me eat some cookies…

So the past two weeks and especially the last few days I’ve had a bit of a come to jesus talk with myself… If I want to see success I’ve got to make sacrifices… When I graduated top of my class in graduate school it was because I put in the extra hours of group work, it was because I did extra networking because I studied because I went above and beyond… why was I so unwilling to do the same when it came to my health?

So the changes…

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I need to embrace the planner in me…  I schedule everything… I live and die by my planner… it’s a running joke with friends… but it is my life line… I need to make this a part of my schedule a part of my job…

I know the food will be tough for me… so instead of tackling WHAT i’m eating right off the bat… i’m going to tackle how MUCH i’m eating… I binge eat like cookie monster… so let’s cut portions then let’s change what’s in those portions…

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I’m going to start getting up at 5am Tues-Friday.  Even if its for a 30 minute work out and a walk with the dog – it’s something… then if I don’t get to the gym in the afternoon after work it’s not the end of the world… But on that same note… If I don’t get up the gym will not be excusable…

Monday will be a rest day… weekends will be for other activities with the bf… get out and do something… go exploring just DO SOMETHING…

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Surround myself with people who are on board… I’ve had this all along… I belong to myfitnesspal.com and I cleaned up my friends list, keeping those that are awesome motivation and then adding some new people who are hitting the ground running… using my fitbit and jumping on some step challenges… and my friends some of who have tackled some AMAZING weight loss journeys – they are my day to day motivation… my cousin who lost over 100 lbs, my good friend who dropped over 200lbs last year, other friends from social media who have had just transformations that make your jaw drop…

I want to be them… I can be them…

So  my motivation – success… To never be that quitter again… to never fall down and stay down again… to be able to say “see, look, i did this… i overcame… i kicked the ass of all of my demons and in a way that everyone can see”… Success and even more so – realistic success…