Author Archive: Allison

Rockin’ Bod

 

Who doesn’t want a rockin’ bod? We see pictures on a daily basis of the ideal female body.For me, it has always been Oxygen magazine’s muscular fitness models’. To stick to a goal and finish strong. To use my body for what it was meant to do, work! While I don’t plan on gracing the covers of Oxygen anytime soon, I have made a major change to further my health and fitness goals.

As usual with these sorts of endeavors, I jumped in with both feet and became a Beachbody coach. Beachbody is the founder of programs like P90x, T25, and Insanity. It also has an amazing meal replacement shake called Shakeology. Being a coach is scary for someone like me who has a long way to go in her fitness journey, but it’s a great motivator to have a few more pairs of eyes keeping me accountable. That’s why I’m sharing this with you! I want you to follow me on my journey to a healthier me.

Sharing something so personal is scary. I have failed at this before. I have made a 360 degree change just to turn right back around. I have lost weight and found even more. I am at the heaviest weight of my life, and that’s why I knew it was time for a change. Not just a temporary diet, but a new way of thinking. It was time to take small steps toward a goal important to me.

So, I started slowly this time. I am drinking a gallon of water a day and drinking my Shakeology every morning. I will make time to get in an at home workout everyday. I will eat more meals at home. This won’t be perfect. I will make mistakes and miss workouts. The difference this time is that I won’t allow my past to interfere. My past doesn’t control my future, I do.

As terrifying as this is…I wanted to share my “before” picture with you. I want you to see where I’m starting. See that making a change is scary and hard but if I can do it so can you! Here it is:

Please send me a little support and encouragement as I work to make this BIG change! leave a comment and make sure to follow our blog to find out how my journey progresses!

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Budget: Starting the Year Fresh

Budget. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a responsible adult. You are supposed to live within or below your means. You are supposed to have a savings account. You aren’t supposed to have credit card debt. These are the things that your mom tells you. These are the things countless Pinterest articles are written about. These are the things of nightmares.

It seems common sense when you say it out loud, “Don’t spend more than you make.” Obviously. Wait…what about credit cards? Those don’t count. Do they? What about store cards that have 25% interest? Those definitely don’t count. You’ll pay those off every month. You’re just using them for the discounts and coupons anyway!

It’s easy to see how someone, like me, gets into some serious debt without having much to show for it. We convince ourselves we need it or that waiting for it would be silly. We use our cards to get the immediate satisfaction of buying the thing instead of using better judgement.

This is going to be the year of change and major progress. This is the year I stop using credit cards. (Even just typing that I had some major anxiety…) It will be hard. I will get to eat out less and I will have less clothes. I will have to resist the urge to buy something just because I have a coupon…or three. Everything will change. That’s what I’m counting on.

I want to be free of the debt. Free of the worry and stress. Free from the addiction of buying STUFF. I want to look at the things I do have and know that I’m not still paying on it. This will take more than a year, but this is the year I start!

Here’s a link to the binder I’m using to stay organized. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00GDDUXJQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1453307692&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=organizher+expense+tracker&dpPl=1&dpID=51V4eucl9ZL&ref=plSrch 

Do you struggle with any financial goals? Do you have a specific plan to get debt free? I’d love all the advice I can get!

 

 

Bathroom Before and After

Two years. I have lived in my house two years with one fully functional bathroom. Not a big deal, except I have two bathrooms.

I have, during this time, had a roommate and both of my parents as house mates. We shared to the best of our abilities this space, but the urge to complete the renovation to the master bath was always there. Slowly, I began to collect the necessary items for the remodel.

To replace the old corner shower that leaked, I found a full sized shower insert for $200 at the local discount store Cargo Largo.  I had a similar stroke of luck with my floor tile. I found the cutest tile at Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a reasonable price. My Christmas present was a Lowe’s gift card that I bought my accent tile with. The pretty finishing touches were purchased with birthday money. TJ Maxx and Target were where I found the majority of the decorative items…I just love those stores!

The final step was finding a person to do all the hard work. It took a few bids and some patience, but I found a guy I went to high school with who was great! He did everything I wanted and worked with my bargains.

Here is what the bathroom looked like in the process of taking down tile.

  
  
Getting tile installed.

  
The finished product minus the new paint.

   
    
 

Reading Challenge: Book Three

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling

This book took me entirely too long to read. I just couldn’t make myself pick it up. I HAD to finish it though, because it counted for my book written by a celebrity and book written by a comedian! Two categories on my list!

Mindy Kaling is clearly a very funny woman who has a successful career as a comedic writer and actress. She has witty stories staring famous people. She has honest opinions that many would be afraid to share. Unfortunately, her comedic genius didn’t transfer to written word very well. She seems to be  scattered story-teller with little forethought to the overall feeling to her book.

She did successfully make her life relatable and funny. There were times I laughed out loud. I finished the book wanting a more fluid tale. I didn’t hate reading the book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Defining Friendship

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/friendship

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/friend

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acquaintance

I have never had an abundance of friends. I like it that way! I have lots of acquaintances, but less than a handful of friends. Finding people who meet my definition (not Merriam-Webster’s) of friendship has been difficult. Creating a friendship takes effort and time. It takes two people intentionally acting together to learn and grow.

I knew Adriene and I would be friends when I witnessed her keeping her roommate accountable. She took a risk and had an awkward conversation to better her friend. How cool! She came into my life at a time that I had no friends physically to near me. We have grown immensely together and separately in the time that we have been friends and that’s exactly how we planned it. We try to push each other to be better each conversation we have. Our friendship defines friendship for me. Dependability, loyalty, lack of judgment, encouragement, and love. That’s what a true friend is to me!

How do you define friendship?

Reading Challenge: Book One

My first fitted bespoke bookcase

Starting the year with a book in hand is something I rarely do. I usually have lofty goals of reading lots of books during the year, but getting started isn’t an easy thing for me. This year I stepped up my goal setting by accepting a reading challenge. It gives me a more solid path to follow when selecting a book. By giving me a list of types of books, I am able to find a book that fits and just begin. I don’t have to struggle with the question, “what should I read?”, for quite as long.

My first category I selected to read from was: A book that’s becoming a movie this year.

The Revenant. A book about revenge.

This book is a little out of my comfort level. I typically read young adult dystopian novels, but I want to expand the scope of my reading to gain from the variety available. This book has a different feel, a gritty and honest book that speaks of a rougher time in America. Glass my not have the purest of intentions, but his determination to reach his goal is inspiring. Throughout the book you see Glass face many struggles that seem insurmountable, but he lets nothing stop him from reaching the finish line. I think this theme proves that I picked the perfect book to start off my year!

The goal for this year’s list is not to just read, but to grow through reading. I want to challenge my current thoughts and assumptions through choosing new and exciting books I would usually pass by. I started this year with a hefty challenge and I anticipate a wealth of stimulating thought coming from it!

What are some of the books you plan to tackle this year? Will you join me in my reading challenge?

Cooking Challenge

To finish this month out, we thought we would share with you one of our “healthy choices” challenges. We all know that we could use a few extra greens on our plate, and a few less processed cheeses (sorry, velveeta). One of the hardest things about cooking, is decided WHAT to eat. Second to that – is actually cooking whatever you finally choose. If you’re anything like me… by the time I decide what to eat I’m too lazy to cook it so we go for take-out instead. Disaster.

In order to start making better choices, we decided to try and cook one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner using new recipes we had found online. By sharing them on the web, it’s keeping us accountable to try new things and strive for healthy choices.

Here are the recipes and our honest opinions. Enjoy!

Adriene chose: protein pancakes, chipotle corn chowder, creamy spinach and sausage pasta.

Protein Pancakes – I’m always looking for a way to integrate more protein in my diet. I love breakfast, and pancakes are sort of a weakness! I have to be honest, I wasn’t into this recipe much. The taste wasn’t bad, but the I think the protein made the batter a bit too gritty. I also just don’t really like plain greek yogurt so I think next time I would use vanilla. On the plus side, the pancakes were nice and fluffy, and cooked quickly and easily! I put a couple in the freezer, to see how well they would do. I’ll update after I try them!

Chipotle Corn Chowder – This was an excellent recipe! I’m so glad I decided to try it because it was a nice hearty soup that is much different than what I usually eat. It’s a nice alternative to chili on a cold winter day. What is great about this recipe is that it made a LOT of soup, so it could feed a lot of people. I think this could also be frozen and thawed for a later meal. I didn’t get to try that this time because we ate it ALL. A+ in my book! I added it to my Pinterest board of “recipes worth keeping”.

Creamy Spinach and Sausage Pasta – This was also a good choice for me! I love the one-pot deal and although it took a bit longer to cook than I’d like it to, it was delicious. I’m not sure I’d fix this every week (mostly because we don’t eat a lot of sausage), but it would be a great pot-luck or family gathering dish. This also was added to the board!

Allison chose: crockpot chicken tikka masala, turkey lasagna roll ups, and pumpkin Cranberry protein muffins

Let me start by saying that I NEVER cook. This was an intimidating challenge to me for that reason. I wanted to try things that were way out of my comfort zone and, considering my comfort zone consists of frozen pizza and boxed mac and cheese, it didn’t take much. After telling my sister of my night of cooking she exclaimed, “Who ARE you?!” You’ll see that that my challenge was a great success and to say I’m proud of myself is an understatement.

Chicken Tikka Masala– This is my all time favorite food. I drive two hours to Columbia to eat it at India House as often as I can. I can say this dish was a success! It was fairly simple to put together and after you’ve done all the prep work the crockpot does the rest. The drawback to this recipe is the sheer amount of spices necessary to provide the traditional Indian flavors this dish boasts; it makes for an expensive grocery bill if you don’t already have the spices. I consider the investment in spices to be well worth it.

Lasagna Roll Ups– Roll ups were a stretch for my culinary prowess. The ingredients were straight forward, but apparently the process of cooking the noodles was too difficult! By the time I was finished cooking there were broken noodles galore. So, due to my lack of patience, I simply resorted to making a traditional lasagna. It was great! This will be something I try again so I can master the rolling of the noodles for a fancier dish.

Pumpkin Cranberry Protein Muffins– Breakfast is something that has to be quick and easy because I eat it in my car. Making things ahead of time guarantees that I will leave the house with food and avoid the McDonald’s line. I had to substitute the oat flour for whole wheat simply because I refused to make an additional trip to a different store in order to find it. Despite the substitution and a few set backs during cook time, this recipe was a success. They are moist and tasty. The only thing I might change is adding some additional pumpkin pie spice to kick up the batter’s flavor.

2016 Resolutions

The beginning of a new year always brings about thoughts of planning and list making. I’m great at both of these things! Making a list gives me hope of the possibilities in life and shows me a little of what to expect. I can visualize my success by putting a plan together. Here is a list of things I plan to achieve in 2016:

2016 Goals

2016 Reading Challenge (See it here!)

Isn’t that a great list? Just think of how accomplished I would feel at the end of the year having done all these wonderful things!

How do you plan on spending your year?

Single During the Holidays

pink Christmas

Are you dating anyone?  Any guys in your life? How are you still single? When are you going to get a boyfriend?

These are the questions you get when you’re 27 and still attend family events alone.

They ask with good intentions and simple curiosity. No one means to be the reminder that you haven’t found the love of your life. No one means to make you feel like carpooling with your dad and sister to Christmas is lame. But, they do. They reinforce the thought that being alone isn’t all that great.

What your family doesn’t know, is that there are a few things that only come with being single during the holidays.

You get the privilege to decorate your tree, your house, however you want. There is no one to tell you that you’ve gone overboard or that they refuse to have a pink covered tree (just ask my sister).

You can put your dog in ridiculous outfits that would embarrass any sane person. You can play Christmas music in October. You can be as cheer filled as Buddy the Elf!

Scheduling Christmas events is much simpler. There aren’t multiple families (besides your own) to fit in and please. You can spend quality time with your family without rushing in and out to multiple events in a single day. Traditions can stay the same as they have always been.

Shopping is a million times easier! There aren’t multiple families full of people expecting gifts because apparently being single also equates to being too irresponsible to buy for everyone. Fine with me! Personally, I buy gifts for approximately five people.

Try to remember the positive things that you get to enjoy this time of year thanks to your singleness.

Share some of your favorite advantages of being single during the holidays with us!

 

 

Traditions: Year One

Christmas gif

Our journey began with a simple suggestion for change from my mom. We had been going about the holidays since my parent’s divorce without any official plans, which often meant everyone’s expectations weren’t being met. We needed to find a way to combine the old with the new in order to create a new normal.

We had always eaten a late lunch with my Dad’s family on Thanksgiving. This was something we looked forward to each year and will continue to do so. Black Friday shopping with a family friend began a few years ago. It begins Thursday evening and continues well into the afternoon on Friday. This left Saturday open for something for just the three of us, and Mom had plans for us!

She wanted us to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner each at a different house (mine, my sister’s, and my mom’s), and we would decorate trees as we went. To my sister and me, this was an ambitious plan. Unbeknownst to us, our doubt was the first challenge to our new tradition. The second and more obvious challenge to the plan, was that my sister was unable to move into her new home fully due to some circumstances out of our control. Black Friday shopping and family dinners that filled our schedule served as the third challenge. The final challenge was a flooded basement that was discovered when my family was en route to my house.

During the first year of our new traditions compromise and flexibility was required. We decided against cooking a meal at each house we visited this year. Drying out the basement took up time and energy. My sister’s house wasn’t unpacked from her move. Nothing went as planned, but we were able to spend quality time together decorating Christmas trees. I look forward to seeing how Christmas traditions will be improved upon!