Friday, September 29, 2017

Measuring Success and Bumpdate 9/29/17

I decided to keep doing my monthly progress update and combine it with baby update, now called bumpdate (I think I'm hilarious, bumpdate)! I don't feel the need to report on pregnancy every month, but I feel like once a month would be fun and not annoying. In addition, it'll be interesting (at least for me) to see what changes as we move further through this process!

How far along: 18 weeks (as of today!)

Size of Baby: Sweet potato

Cravings: I've decided that cravings are "I see it and want it." So, basically anything terrible for me.
And sweets. I want something sweet every day. It doesn't have to be a lot, sometimes just two cookies will do it, but man I want it every. single. day.

Weird stuff: Round ligament pain. I'm over this mess. Thursday was especially fun and it makes spin class interesting. Some days I come out of the saddle just fine, others is a big ol' nope.

Fun stuff: We find out the gender next Friday! I'm pretty excited about it, even though I don't always look excited when people ask me. Lack of energy is a real thing. We'll be doing a gender reveal for our friends next Sunday. Let's be honest, though, I'll already know because I'm a control freak. Own what you are.

Weight gained: Ah, back to the good stuff. I've gained 10 pounds. I'm not weighing myself between appointments and the one before last was after two weeks of travel and refused to look at the scale so I'm not sure if that made the overall gain worse or not. I'm trying to eat healthy and make good choices when I can, but man is it hard!

Exercise: So, I'm in the second trimester. Things are supposed to be grand. They aren't bad, but they aren't grand. Which is pretty much like the first trimester. I'm still averaging four classes/workouts a week.  This week I'll actually have five!

Endurance: It's slowly leaving me. I've had some really good classes where I've felt like my normal self and burned about 400 calories, but that's not really the norm. There are some days where I feel like a bus hit me, cancel class and go walk two miles instead. I listen to my body and take it easy when I need to. Running is pretty much non-existent and hard these days. When I walk, I try to jog a little. I can make it about 1/3 of a mile before I'm completely out of breath. We run in class sometimes and it's pretty hard to accept that I'm the slowest one in class because that's where I was when I first started. I know, I know. Baby, pregnancy, yada, yada. But still. It's hard. Also, stairs are my nemesis.

Classes/Exercises: Weirdly, boot camp has become my class of choice lately, mostly because it's the easiest to modify.  I can do spin, but it's hard to be the only one sitting and that round ligament pain is no joke going from the saddle to standing. I still do spin because I love it and I like to switch things up, but I'll probably do more boot camp as I get further along. I've also started doing some push-ups on my stairs.  I'm in a health/accountability group on Facebook and someone suggested doing push-ups on the stairs instead of on your knees. Those are no joke! But I feel like they're working my upper body really well. It's the equivalent of doing them on your toes, but at an incline to help.  Plus, it gives me more room.

That's about it! Happy Friday folks! How are your journeys going?!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My Favorite Planner by Plum Paper Designs

I've been using the same type of planner for the past three years, just changing out the layout and add-ons as I go.  I've been using the ME Planner by Plum Paper Designs on Etsy.  This isn't a sponsored post and I don't get any compensation from it, I'm just sharing one of my all-time favorite organizing tools!

I'm a paper planner kind of girl. But I'm also the "I need my phone to remind me of appointments" kind of girl.  For the past three years, I've been using a planner by Plum Paper Designs on Etsy.  I started using them because they had a direct sales section (back when I did Jamberry), but now I use them because they have a blog planning and fitness section.  Next year, I'll probably add the baby section!

I'm going to go through the planner, what I like, what's different and the two sections that I added on.  Cause I'm nerdy like that and, if you're reading this, you're probably nerdy like that too!

Each month of the planner opens with this page.  You can set goals for the month, birthdays, events, things to remember, etc.  And then there's a page for notes.

The next page is the monthly calendar, which lays out the entire month.  There is room on the side for more notes and lists.

I changed my overall calendar design for the 2017 planner.  In my last planner, I did a fitness planner (left) and chose to arrange the days by morning, afternoon and night. The fitness planner had a fitness goals and weekly checklist for each week plus space at the end of each day for recording your workout.  You could also record your morning, afternoon and night calories. I found that I didn't really like the morning, afternoon and night because I was still needing to specify times to be most accurate (and on time!) and that I only utilized the workout and goals section each week.  I use an app to track my calories and didn't feel the need to do double the work.

So for 2017 (right), I changed to a basic planner format that breaks down the days by hours.  This works much better for scheduling purposes.  I still have room to write my goals, checklists, etc.  The fitness stuff now gets tracked in its own section, which works better for me.

In addition to the monthly section, there's a place for passwords, birthdays and special dates and notes at the end of the planner.  There's also a half pocket that I use for random paper.

The fitness section is now its own tab.  The first page has a start and end date and start and end weight. You can set your affirmation statement, long-term and short-term goals and major milestones and rewards.  While I'm not using it as much as I would before, it's a good way to set goals that aren't scale related.  We aren't really friends right now.

Each month has a two page spread.  On the first page, you can track your weight weekly, measurements, monthly goals, etc.  On the second page, you can track your exercises and water.  This is honestly the page that I use the most.  I like that it's all in one section because I update it a few times a week versus every day.

The blog planning section is my favorite.  I had it in the last planner and like the improvements made to it in this one.  Before, the stats section was it's own page and you tracked it by week.  Now, it's all on the same page as the goals, post schedule and income and expenses.  The stats are tracked by the month, which I think is a bit cleaner.

There's also a monthly task page.  I don't use it as much but as I start growing the blog, I plan to use it more.

A giveaways and reviews page tracks all of that on one page, where before it was a two page spread.

Finally, there's an annual blog planner.  This is great for planning out specialized and seasonal posts, sponsored posts, etc. For me, the blog planning section has really helped me plan out my posts, keep some consistency and track my stats.

If you're looking for a good paper planner, check these guys out! They are on Etsy and have a bunch of different sections to add on including a baby, teaching, meal planning and family planning sections. Not to mention, the designs are super cute and you can customize them with your name, family name or monogram.  Just a note - give yourself some time to order as they take about three to four weeks to ship.

What's your favorite planner to use?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What I'm Reading: Hunger by Roxane Gay

In the beginning of the year, I made a goal of reading more than just smut romance books. I've been in the smut romance book rut for a while now and wanted to challenge myself to find new genres that I love. You know, being a former English major and all. By doing so, I've learned that I love memoirs. This doesn't surprise me as Jen Lancaster is one of my favorite authors and she writes mostly memoirs. And when I was in college, I mostly wrote memoir style in my creative writing classes. Deep down, I just love learning other people's stories.  Hunger by Roxane Gay was recommended by Jen Lancaster on her Facebook page, so I gave it a shot.

I'm just going to put it out there - this book made me all kinds of uncomfortable. And I think it should. So often we talk about bodies without considering the person that lives inside the body. We are all very specific about what should and should not be DONE to a body, but we don't think about how we talk about the body and that, in actuality, it's a super intimate topic.

The premise of the memoir is the story of Roxane Gay and how she came to be fat. That sounds harsh, but in the book she describes that fat tends to have a harsh connotation instead of just being a description. She's in the 600 pound range. That qualifies as fat. The book details the decisions she made and how she arrived at her life as it is now. 

Instead of doing a book report, I'm going to tell you why this is one of the hardest books I have read and why, if you struggle with weight, skinny or not, you need to read this book.

First off, it makes you think. Think long and hard about what you think about bodies and how you talk about bodies. I have an entire blog that I created because of my body. I wasn't happy with my body, so I started doing something about it. Which is what we expect everyone that's not happy with their body to do. But what if you created your body the way it is? What if that person loathes the body they created, but also finds their security in it? What if what makes you uncomfortable about someone's body is what makes them comfortable? Are you okay with that thought? Because it took me a while to be okay with it. 

Roxane made a statement about how there are overweight people that talk about being fat but they've never been fat fat. Like more than 300 pounds fat. I'm that person. I'm bigger than I should be. I heard the change in someone's voice recently when I told them my weight. But I haven't been 600 pounds fat. I honestly hope to never be even close to 250 pounds fat. I've experienced the change in attitude towards me because of my weight, but yet I can't lie and say that I didn't feel the same reaction towards here, just a little, when she talked about her weight. We all have issues with what we think is fat. Reading a book about someone's feelings about their 600 pound body made me uncomfortable. 

It's causes conflicting thoughts. I went back and forth on how I felt during this book. There was a time when my heart broke for her. There were times I was disgusted by what I read.  There were times that I had no sympathy for the issues she was describing. Not being able to go out to eat because she wasn't sure there were chairs that would hold her. And in the next moment, I was amazed at her. That she would go out to dinner, sit in chairs that would cause bruising and pain for days for some semblance of normalcy. My mind was pretty much at war with itself the majority of this book. As a writer, I would take that as a huge compliment because in a memoir, you want someone to feel something. She felt hate, loathing, self-pity, all of those things and I felt it with her.

The ideal body isn't always ideal. This was one big hard idea for me to grasp. I've spent most of my life, all of my adult life, fighting my weight. Even in high school I wasn't skinny, but more along the lines of average. It wasn't until college that I hit both my highest weight and my lowest weight. And I've had that fight ever since. In this book, Roxane started out average. Not skinny, but not fat. But after a horrible, and I mean horrible, event, she changed her body to protect her. Her ideal body became the one that would hide her, that no one would look at.

How different is that from our usual ideal body?

The ideal body changes as you mature. My ideal body used to be something I could easily put a bikini on and never feel any insecurity.  I never found that ideal, by the way. Just in case you were wondering. Now, my ideal body is strong, healthy and has good numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. My how we change our ideals. But none of those ideal bodies look anything like Roxane's.  I watch shows like "My 600 Pound Life" and always wonder how someone let it get so bad. But I never thought, "Maybe this was by design." She mentions that she's tried to diet, to workout and be healthy, but when she starts losing weight and becoming a "normal body," a part of her freaks out and she goes back to her usual weight. Deep down, that's her ideal body. Whether she likes it or not. And that's hard to think about, to consider. What if what my mind wanted most was not to be healthy, but to be invisible, to be hidden in a body that no one would want to look twice at? That breaks my heart just thinking about.

Family and love is everything. Roxane talks about how no matter how far she pushed her family away, they loved her. Her brother went to a college just to be near her. And at the same time, many of the terrible choices she made as an adult were in search of love. Of comfort and another person. I think back to my childhood and to my parents. My mom never pushed me on my weight, even pushed back on her mom when she talked about my weight as a kid. It's never been a "when are you going to lose weight, Sarah?" but rather a, "That's awesome what you're doing, but you're beautiful no matter what." And I can't tell you how invaluable that is. And I think about Aaron and how we push each other to eat better and work out more with the understanding that it's so we can be better, not that we want a different person. And I think about my friends and my gym tribe that I have been so, so supportive through everything I've done, especially the past year and a half. We were made to love and to be loved and everything that we do, deep down, has to do with love. Loving ourselves, someone else or someone else loving us.

If you've ever been on a health or weightloss journey. If you've ever watched "My 600 Pound Life" and wondered how the hell things got so bad. If you've ever looked at someone and thought, "Ugh, they need to lose weight," then you need to read this book. We talk about bodies as if they are an item on a shelf we are examining to see if they are worth taking home. But a body is attached a person, a real live person with thoughts and feelings. It's not a book asking about sympathy, but rather offering you another view, another idea to consider.   

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Four Years Down and Whole New Adventure to Go

When I sat down to write this post last night, I thought about the photo on my phone.  It's from our redo engagement photo session with Carolina Media Star.  I was 28, he was 31. We'd been married for about two months at that time. We weren't really young, but man has a lot changed since then. I graduated grad school. I've had one job change, he's had two. We built a house and moved to Durham.  Heck, we went to Alaska!

And now we have a baby on the way.

I've heard people say that you love your husband in a whole new way when you see them as a father. And I get that, because I can see it some even now. Don't get me wrong, he's still Aaron. He still tells inappropriate jokes and reminds me all the time why I can never be in politics. But at the same time, he's happy to go look at cribs with me. He's excited and terrified, just like me. And sometimes he looks at me and says really sweet things like, "You're so cute pregnant."  Which is nice, cause I don't always feel cute.

Four years seems like a short amount of time. January will actually be seven years (including dating) and doesn't include the first time we dated and tried to kill each other for four months. Compared to both of our parents, it seems like a drop in the bucket, and yet, I can't imagine life without him. At this point, I'd probably start crying thinking about it because it really doesn't take much these days. But Aaron's the one that can make my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day okay in about five minutes flat with some irreverent joke or stupid video online.

He's also the one that wants to name my child Paul Walker Zinn if we have a boy. For those that aren't obsessed with him, he's an actor that was in Fast and Furious annnnnd in She's All That (the 2000's seriously made the best teen movies!). Needless to say, that won't happen.

Last year, I did a post on my three favorite things about Aaron for our three year anniversary. I'm not going to do four things this year, but I will say that I have these four wishes for year five:

  1. A safe pregnancy and healthy baby, boy or girl
  2.  That we survive the first few months of parenthood
  3. That we continue to grow in our love and our walk with God
  4. That we don't go completely broke
Here's to four awesome years. Here's to the most amazing and crazy adventure in year five and a lifetime to go. Happy anniversary babe. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fun in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg...without Dollywood!

Last month, Aaron and I went to Tennessee with our friends Danny and Sarah.  They have a timeshare/vacation package deal and asked if we wanted to go with them.  Free place to stay? Who says no to that! So we spent a long weekend in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg...without going to Dollywood!

I'd never actually been to Tennessee before this trip. My family is in Virginia and we never went much further west into the mountains than that. Plus, when the Appalachian Mountains are in your home state, you don't really feel the need to go to the Great Smoky Mountains.  But, I have this bucket list item of visiting every state before I die, so I was excited to go!

Our first day there, we went to this attraction in Pigeon Forge called The Island. It was super gimmicky, but also probably where we had the most fun! We did a mirror maze, a laser obstacle course, rode a ferris wheel (without wanting to die! yay!), Aaron and Danny did a ropes course and Sarah and I shopped.

Aaron in the mirror maze

View from the ferris wheel.  The cars were completely enclosed and had air conditioning. 

View from the other side. It was such a beautiful day!

And we finished the day by eating at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen. Guys. That food. It was orgasmic. First off, it's family style and unlike Maggiano's, you don't get to take home the leftovers.  So whatever you get, you have to make worth it! For $22 a person, you get a bread appetizer (think Red Lobster cheddar biscuits on steroids), three meats, four vegetables, and each person gets a dessert. Dear Lord. It was amazing.

Biscuit, pancake AND apple butter!

Our spread! Ribs, chicken pot pie, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, creamed corn and mashed potatoes. 

I got the peach cobbler for dessert. So, so good!
And we rolled out of there. Pretty much literally.

That night, we talked about what we wanted to do. We were pretty set on Dollywood...until we looked at prices. Had we looked at prices before we went to The Island, it probably wouldn't have been as bad, but we dropped some money the day before. So a discount ticket to Dollywood of $55 a person, plus taxes, was more than we could stomach. Especially since I couldn't do most of the rides. We decided to do some other stuff instead.

Our first stop was the Forbidden Caverns.  It's one of the few living limestone caverns left in Tennessee and was originally used by the Native Americans to keep warm in the winter and later by moonshiners! It was the moonshiners that made the caverns known to the family whose land it sits on.  Pretty cool!

The limestone formations were amazing! And wet, you got dripped on - a lot!

I loved all the striations in the rock and how you could see just how old these caverns are!
The natural entrance. Apparently, bootleggers came in this way and brought the stills down with them.  Nuts!

This was actually my favorite part of our trip. The caverns were just so cool, especially to see the spring water that ran through the cavern. I love being able to see some nature still left untouched.

We ended the day in Gatlinburg. Which was insane because it was the weekend before the eclipse and Gatlinburg was in the path of totality (I believe). There were people everywhere. I probably would have enjoyed it more on a different weekend, to be honest. We visited OberGatlinburg, mostly because I wanted to ride the lift up the mountain.

View on the way back down the mountain on the tram. 

When you're okay, but you're friend isn't and you make her take a selfie with you!
You could actually see pretty definitively where the wildfires were and where they weren't from the tram. It was crazy to see just how close it got to Gatlinburg!

On our way back, we stopped at a scenic overlook of the Smoky Mountains to capture some photos.  This is where we took our baby announcement photo.  And, because I love you, here are some of the fail photos!

Our view from the scenic overlook.

The winning photo!

That is quite possibly one of the most unflattering photo of me, but Aaron's brush off game is strong!

We had a great time in Tennessee! I could definitely see us going back there again and, honestly, I really don't feel like I'll miss Dollywood next time either!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Exercising While Pregnant: 1st Trimester

If you've followed this blog for any length of time or know me, you probably know that about a year and a half ago, I turned into a gym rat. It's partly why I started this blog. I got tired of feeling fat and gross and finally did something about it.  I'm not going to lie, when we started talking babies, I got scared. I'd done all this work to get into shape and here I was talking about undoing all of it. But we wanted a family and we weren't getting any younger, so we went for it. And other than a few weeks with crazy travel, I've continued to be a gym rat through my entire first trimester. And I'm pretty sure it's been my saving grace.

So, I'm going to pause for a minute. One - I am not an expert, just a girl that's been working out and following her doctor's and instructor's orders. Two - every person and every pregnancy is different, so what works for me might not work for you.  Your body will very clearly tell you what does and does not work. Three - Listen to the experts. They've got your back.

One of the things that I love about my gym is that we have educated instructors. One is a perinatal certified instructor meaning she's certified for pre- and post-labor exercise. She can tell you what to do based on the trimester you're in and even tailor exercises to help with labor. I can also ask any of the instructors if I need to modify exercises and they usually have really good suggestions for me. That's made it very easy for me to continue to work out.

So, let's talk the first trimester. It sucks. You're super tired, you feel gross and not quite right. I was very lucky to not get very sick and the one time I did, it only lasted two days. But I'm also pretty certain that continuing my exercise routine has really helped. Yes, I was tired, but not exhausted. A 15 minute nap a day got me back to normal. I also had to take the early glucose test because my dad's diabetic and my numbers were smack in the middle of the normal range. Hopefully this means I'll pass it again at 26 weeks. I'm not entirely certain that would have been the case before this journey.

But before I really did any major workouts, I talked to people that knew what they were talking about: my certified instructor and my doctor. And everyone will give you advice. They'll say, "Oh you can do everything you did before!" or "Oh no, you don't need to workout, just take it easy" or something in between. Again, stick to the professionals.

What the doctor told me:
  • No hot yoga. The inversions, heat and your exertion can have you going down and that's not safe. That actually almost happened and was one of the first things that had me suspecting I was pregnant.
  • No box jumps or anything that could cause me to fall. I didn't tell them that included walking for me. 
  • Don't really worry about core work. Your abs are going to separate anyway. That was slightly depressing. 
  • No more than 10-15 pounds in lifting.
  • Listen to my body. This isn't the time to push yourself and build muscle.  It's about maintaining what you have. If you feel weird or really tired, take it back a notch. 
  • Keep it up. Labor is active and focusing on cardio and keeping up my strength will make for an easier labor and recovery
What the instructor told me:
  • No deep twists
  • No heat
So, I've followed all of that advice. What does that look like for me?

One workout a day, about 4-5 days a week
For a while, I was easily doing two classes twice a week. But one class was wiping me out, so I started doing one class a day. Sometimes, I don't do a class, but will go walk two miles in my neighborhood and try to jog for a little while. I'm also very conscious about what the next day looks like. We went to the mountains a few weeks ago and I elected to not do a class the night before we left.  I knew the next day was going to be long and I didn't want to overexert myself and not be able to enjoy my days off afterward. I'm still good for about 4-5 classes a week and that's really because of my schedule.

Different classes: No yoga and more bootcamp
It's not that I can't do yoga, but my studio only offers hot yoga, which I can't do. I even asked if I could do it now that I'm in the second trimester and the doc told me no.  I keep saying I need to do a yoga flow at home, but I'm honestly lazy and haven't done that yet.  I've added more bootcamp classes instead. The workouts are super easy to modify and the classes go by quickly and I still burn a good amount of calories. At this point, I mostly stick to barre, spin and bootcamp. 

Half is good
I can do about half of what I could, even less when we get to running. I had gotten to the point where I was in the middle to front middle of the pack when we ran in class. Now? Dead last. Every time. That's a hard blow, but I had to learn to be okay with half. I do less weights, I do less running and I'm okay with it.  I was doing 15-20 lbs on a kettlebell, 15 was my heavy weights and 10 my medium and 8 my light. Now? 10-15 lb on kettlebell (15 only for swings), 8 is my heavy and 5 is my medium. And let me tell you, I still get a good workout!

Better strategic snacking.
You're probably thinking, "but this is an exercise post?!" Yeah, but when you expend energy, you have to give it back. I buy protein drinks for after class. I need to eat something almost immediately after class and I normally have to cook it first, so I have protein drinks to stave off the hunger. Hanger is real, people, worse when you're pregnant and only leads to nausea and sickness if you don't fix it and fix it correctly.  

So why even do this? Right? I follow Emily Skye on Facebook and Instagram. She's an Australian trainer is about 25 weeks pregnant. And the amount of crap she takes from people about still working out is ridiculous. And I've even heard some of it. This is the only time that calories don't count. Just enjoy being pregnant. It could hurt your baby. You don't need to workout, pregnant women are beautiful. All things that are meant to be well and good. But there are also some very real benefits and reasons to continue exercising, some I'm seeing now at just 15 weeks. 
  • The doctor says its good for you! My doctor clearly said, "well definitely don't stop what you're doing." Yes ma'am!
  • It boots your self-esteem. I'm still in the stage where I mostly just look chunky. Some days I look like I might be pregnant, but I'm not what my mom calls "cutely pregnant."  There isn't really anything cute about it. I'm hoping that's coming.  By working out, I know I'm keeping myself in shape and that helps boost my self-esteem.
  • I honestly think it helps you out with pregnancy symptoms. Like fatigue and shortness of breath.  Don't get me wrong, a set of stairs is currently my mortal enemy, but most everything else I can still do.  I've heard others say that they wish they hadn't stopped working out because now they can't do as much. So I'm sticking with my story that it's helped with my fatigue!
  • Studies (that I'm not going to quote) have shown that working out helps with an easier labor and recovery. I'm really hoping for this one!
And, because apparently I'm a sadist, I thought I'd show you the difference between my last progress post (I want to say back in May?) and about 2-3 weeks ago, the last time I took a photo in my workout clothes. It's not nearly as much fun anymore!

Gone is my almost flat stomach, my boobs are coming out the sides of my sports bras, and I can do about half of what I could. But I still love it, I love my gym, my gym tribe and that there are lots of other preggos in there with me.  I'll follow back up again in a few more months with a second trimester post with answers to questions like how do you do tap backs with a belly? I've seriously wondered about that! All this to say, if you're pregnant, don't stop working out.  Here's to a healthy baby and Sarah and a rockin' post baby body!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Easy High Protein Breakfast Options for Everyone

I've always been a breakfast eater.  My mom always made sure we ate breakfast, even if it was cake or brownies (that wasn't her first choice, obviously).  Healthy options were in the house, but my dad and I were both picky and once in a while she let us eat cake just to make sure we had breakfast. She knew that we needed something to start off the day.  Thankfully, I've grown up a little and make better options now!  I've been trying to find ways to increase my protein and fiber intake, especially since finding out I was pregnant and one of the easiest ways is to knock it out in breakfast!

Not everyone is a big breakfast eater, I get that. Also, who has time for all that work in the morning?! I don't. When I did Whole 30, breakfast was the hardest for me because I couldn't do anything processed or packaged, which meant a lot of planning and prepping.  I learned a lot from that experiment and from others along the way and I wanted to share! This post is organized by the breakfast eater - the I don't want a lot, the I like to eat, but don't have a lot of time, and the I'll plan ahead and make it work eaters.

The I Don't Want a Lot Breakfast Eater
Some people just don't like breakfast. Get it. Totally. But you still need something, so here are a few ideas.  These breakfasts all take less than 3 minutes to make and can beat eaten in the car (some more easily than others) or at the office. Some of these are actually my afternoon snacks at work!

Cottage Cheese and Berries
Funny story - for years, I only like cottage cheese off a salad bar. Weird, I know. I just didn't like what I found in the grocery stores. But then I found Daisy Light Small Curd cottage cheese and it tastes just like the stuff on the salad bar! So good!

Here are my favorites and their numbers:
  • 1/2 cup light cottage cheese, 1/2 cup blueberries - 132 calories, 15 g protein, 2 g fiber
  • 1/2 cup light cottage cheese, 1/2 cup strawberries - 116 calories, 15 g protein, 2 g fiber
Special K Protein Shake and Banana
For my snack, I just do the shake, but for breakfast you might need a little more, so I threw in a banana! These are my favorite shakes that I have found.  They taste really good, not chalky and pack a good amount of protein and fiber.  And best part, because they aren't a mix, you don't have a chance of hitting those nasty powder clumps! I really like the strawberry and the milk chocolate. 

One protein shake and a banana is 295 calories, 16 g of protein and 5 g of fiber. 

The I Don't Have a Ton of Time, but I like to Eat Breakfast Eater
You guys are my people. This is where I live. I don't want to spend a lot of time on my breakfast, but man I like to eat! Especially now, I wake up hungry and need to eat right. then. It gets ugly otherwise.  These breakfasts are either a make ahead or are out of the freezer. Either way should be quick in the morning and filling! 

Jimmy Dean Egg Frittata
These are a packaged product that you can find in your grocer's freezer.  I like them because they give me the same product as the one you make yourself (see below), but without all the prep work.  I also think that they retain their texture a little better than the homemade ones. I prefer to get the bacon and spinach, but there are multiple varieties.  They are a little expensive at $5.99 for a box of 3 packs, but you can get them for $11.99 at BJ's for a box of 7 packs. I also wait until they go on sale and buy 3 or 4 boxes at a time.

Photo courtesy Jimmy Dean
For a pack (2 frittatas), they are 260 calories, 14 g of protein and 2 g of fiber.

Overnight Oats Two Ways
Overnight oats is the thing that I want to love, know that I should love, but I don't. Not really. However, they are the answer to breakfast on mornings that I go to the gym before work. It took me a while, but I finally found a recipe that actually works for me.  

Blueberry Streusel Overnight Oats
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Also, overnight oats don't photograph well. They just look gross.

Put it all in a mason jar (1/2 pint works the best for mixing, use wide mouth for easy eating!) and shake.  I like to shake and then stir to make sure the blueberries are evenly distributed and all the chia seeds aren't stuck together. I loaded this recipe into the My Fitness Pal app and it's 385 calories, 13 g of protein and 28 g of fiber. That takes of your entire fiber intake for the day!

If you don't feel like purchasing chia seeds and protein powder (they're expensive), you can get a premade overnight oats version! Quaker Oats now has overnight oats you can buy and just add milk to.  For comparison, the Blueberry Banana and Vanilla Bliss version prepared is 290 calories, 10 g of protein and 5 g of fiber. 

The I'll Plan Ahead and Make it Work Breakfast Eater
You're my hero. These are some of my favorite breakfasts, but I rarely make them because they take time. The hash is a concoction I came up with during the Whole 30 (I haven't made it in a while, so no photo) and the pancakes I discovered from a friend. Both are awesome breakfasts and, with a little planning, you can make once and eat off for another few days.

Potato and Sausage Breakfast Hash
There is not set recipe for this. I pretty much use it as a "what's in my fridge" clean-out exercise. This also makes enough to feed us for about 2-3 days.  But your basic ingredients are potato, meat, maybe some vegetables and egg. My favorite is below.
  • 3 to 4 potatoes (white or sweet), grated
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (for cooking)
  • 1 lb sausage (chicken apple sausage, kielbasa, or Italian sausage all work great)
  • 2 to 4 eggs (depending on how you cook them)
For the potatoes, I scrub and grate them the night before.  You can also cube them, but I like to grate. It makes cooking in the pan a lot easier. The large side of a cheese grater makes the perfect size. If you cube them, then I would roast them while you cook the meat. If you cube or grate white potatoes the night before, make sure you store them in water so they don't come out black. They oxidize if left in open air. Sweet potatoes are fine just in a bag. In the morning, I heat a skillet to medium high. Add in your meat.  I don't use oil when cooking the meat.  I like to leave the sausage sliced or you can cube it if you want a piece of sausage in every bite.  Once the sausage is cooked, remove to a plate and keep warm.  This is where your judgement comes in.  If there is already some grease in the pan from the meat, use that.  Otherwise, add in 1 tablespoon olive oil and dump the grated potatoes in. These will take a while to cook. You want them to get a good crisp edge on them, so I cover the whole pan in them and leave them there for about 4 to 5 minutes. Then you can turn/stir them.  Once they are mostly cooked, add in whatever vegetables you want to use. I'm not a big veggie in the morning fan, so I don't add them. Once everything is cooked, push is all to the side and created a whole.  This is where you add your eggs. I like over easy eggs. So I add two eggs at a time, let them cook and then flip when the egg white is mostly opaque.  I remove the eggs and then add another two eggs and do the same.  If you scramble, you can add your scrambled eggs all at once in the whole and then scramble from there.  For hash with over easy eggs, divvy out your servings (I normally get four to six out of this recipe), then add the egg over each one. If you do scramble eggs, then mix the eggs in to the hash and then divvy out. I like to package each serving individually so I can grab and go (and have portion control).  

You'll need to load whatever you make into a nutritional calculator for specifics, but I calculated this recipe using sweet potatoes, a 4 link package of chicken apple sausage, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 4 eggs and it came out to 303 calories, 16 g protein and 3 g fiber.

Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes
My friend Jess introduced these to me when I told her I was trying to eat more protein. So far, I've only tried the dark chocolate but man are they good! Also really easy - you just mix one cup of mix and one cup of water and then heat a pan and make pancakes! You can also make muffins with them, which I haven't tried. This past weekend, I made a double batch of pancakes, which made 5 servings of 4 pancakes each. I did 4 because mine came out pretty thin.  Four pancakes is filling for both Aaron and I. These are great with some maple syrup!

Best part, I already have my individual packs ready to go for 2 more days! Woo!

Homemade Egg Frittatas
These were my savior during Whole 30.  Aaron didn't love them because of the texture. To me, they don't heat up as well as the Jimmy Dean ones above, but if you don't want packaged foods or you want to follow a Paleo/Whole 30 diet, these are great.  I would make a dozen on Sunday and could eat off them for the rest of the week. I had to make 2 dozen for Aaron to eat off them too

Basic Recipe
  • 12 eggs (for a dozen muffins)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ingredients
  • Pam or Olive Oil spray
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Coat the cups in the pan evenly.  I like to add the ingredients directly into the cups and then pour the mixture over the ingredients.  This allows you to evenly distribute your filling between the cups.  Cook for 15-18 minutes or until the eggs set.  To freeze, let them cool, put in a freezer safe container (I used plastic bags) and freeze. Pull out and heat up for about a minute when ready to eat.  Here are some of my favorite combos:

Paleo/Whole 30 Friendly
  • Tomatoes, mushrooms and ham
  • Spinach, ham and tomatoes
  • Chicken sausage, mushrooms and spinach
Not Paleo/Whole 30 Friendly
  • Cheese and Ham
  • Spinach, bacon and tomatoes
  • Mozzarella, spinach and sausage
No matter what your breakfast style is, you now have no excuses for not getting some protein in! Another fun way to get protein in for breakfast are smoothie bowls.  I haven't tried them, but they are all over pinterest and Instagram.  What's your favorite high-protein breakfast?!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Blogger Night Out at Kendra Scott

One of my favorite parts of blogging is the group of bloggers that I joined called TriFabb.  At one point, that stood for Triangle Area Fashion and Beauty Bloggers, but there are so many bloggers that do so much more than just those topics that we're now just TriFabb. I truly love this community because it's a chance to meet other bloggers, support each other and get together and do the two things we love: eat and shop!

This past week, we had a meet-up at the new Kendra Scott store in North Hills. I wasn't aware, but it's only been open since February of this year! I've been in the one in Southpoint in Durham, so I don't ever really think about the one in North Hills. Because, let's be honest, it's painful to get there. From my house, you have no good option of getting there. It took me a solid hour in rush hour traffic to get there on Thursday, but it was worth it!

We had complimentary desserts by Seasons 52, free makeovers from Dior and Molly from Still Being Molly, provided head shots.  I've been in desperate need of a new headshot for a while! It was a super fun night and I even talked Aaron into letting my buy some new earrings. Because, you know, I don't have enough.  So here's some photos from our night out!

My beautiful friend Mary Leigh from Live Well Play Together getting her makeup done. Life is funny sometimes. I originally met Mary Leigh in grad school.  We both went to NC State for our Master's of Public Administration and then a few years later, we reconnected through TriFabb! The world is a small, small place sometimes!

We also had our headshots taken by Molly. She is seriously so fun to work with and makes you feel immediately at ease, which I'm not always in front of the camera! This is my favorite of the shots, though they are all beautiful!

And finally, a selfie at home of my new earrings.  I'd never actually spent a lot of time in Kendra Scott before last week. I'd seen the stores, but I'd always assumed that it was more expensive than I would want to spend.  I'm not going to lie, it's not cheap, but it's also not crazy expensive. These earrings from the Color Bar were $55 and considering that they match about 85% of my closet, I know I'll get at least that much wear out of them.  So check out Kendra Scott if you haven't! And Seasons 52, because that Smores dessert was amazing!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Why You Need to Be on Poshmark and Shop My Closet!

A few months ago, I was introduced to Poshmark by my friend Traci over at Choosing Better.  We were at a blogger class and she was showing me her Poshmark page and how she sells her clothes on there and even has a little side gig by shopping thrift stores and reselling on Poshmark.  I tried it out and liked it.  Fast forward three or four months and I'm obsessed! I'm so obsessed that I'm writing this post on it without any compensation or affiliation!

If you're like me, your thoughts are something along the lines of this:
  • Does it really work?
  • Is it convenient? How much do I really have to do to make some money?
  • Why not just go to a consignment store where they do all the work for me?
  • Is there even good stuff on there?
Instead of telling you all the amazing reasons you should do Poshmark (Traci did a fabulous job of that here), I'm going to answer these questions as a real live Posher.

Does it really work?
Yes. So much yes! My first sale was made in June 2017 and since then I have sold a total of 16 items for $172.80. Some weeks are really dull and I have no sales then there are weeks like last week where I sold four items! It comes and goes, but sticking with it and sharing your items is what will make you sales.  I've been using the money I earn to help fund my LulaRoe, Stitch Fix and maternity purchases lately!

Is it convenient? How much work do I really have to do to make some money?
It's super convenient.  You take photos with the app and post your items for sale.  I spend about 3-5 minutes per item making sure that it's ironed, photographed well, possibly pairing with other items in my closet and listing it for sale. From there, I share my items about three times a day, sometimes more if there are parties.  Sharing is what gets your items seen and sold! Once an item sells, Poshmark sends you a shipping label, you pack and ship it and you're done!  I get my boxes from the post office (they also deliver boxes for free!) and I schedule pick ups with the post office so I don't ever have to actually go to the post office. I really don't know how much simpler it can get!

Why not just go to a consignment store?
A consignment store is reliant on the people that come in that store, so you have a limited market. They have a limited amount of space, so they are super picky about the items that they sell (how old it is, trend, any stains, etc) and they keep them for a short amount of time. They also have overhead, so you get a very small percentage back of what the actual item sells for.

Poshmark is on your phone, in the hands of millions of people. You share your items, so you aren't dependent on people coming into a brick and mortar store in a certain area, but have the ability to get your items in front of people all over the US.  There is no need to limit the items for sale because it's all on an app on your phone.  Most of the items that I'm selling were originally turned down from a consignment store! They weren't in bad shape, they just didn't meet that specific store's criteria.  And have you ever made $173 on 16 items from a consignment store? Because I sure haven't!

Is there even good stuff on there?!
Absolutely, but like any good thrift store, you need to know what you're looking for.  You can set your sizes, brands you like, etc and shop that way or you can search for specific items. I've actually been using it to buy some cute maternity clothes for cheap! So far I've gotten a pair of Loft jeans for $18 and a Pea in the Pod sweater for $10 and both were great experiences. The only warning I will give is to my LulaRoe girls - it's usually more expensive. Like a lot more expensive. I don't know if sellers think people don't know the actual prices or if they have unicorns, but I've noticed that a lot of the LulaRoe items I'm looking for (Carly, Lola, etc) are priced much higher than I could get at regular price or are about the same once I add shipping. My main advice is to know your products and pricing.

How to shop my closet!
So now that I've told you why Poshmark is wonderful and why you should go try it out, I'm also going to tell you how to shop my closet! As a blogger, I get comments from readers about what I'm wearing, where I found it, etc.  Now you can shop my previously loved items that might not fit just right or that aren't getting the wear I thought I would out of them right here on my blog! There is a new page called "Shop My Closet" with a live link to my Poshmark page.  You can see all the new items that I add weekly and shop from there.  You can also check out the people I'm following and what they are selling.

If you haven't tried Poshmark and this lovely post has convinced you to give it a go, make sure you use my referral code (URABC) when you sign-up! Have fun poshing!

Friday, September 1, 2017

August 2017 Stitch Fix Review - My First Maternity Fix!

I finally get to post this! I was so, so excited to go into my Stitch Fix account and hit that "maternity" button. It was slightly ridiculous. But I was also really nervous!

Maternity clothes have been hit or miss for me. I have been out of my regular pants since about 8 weeks, but I don't look "pregnant," just pudgy or fat. The full secret belly on pants felt like too much, but look the best on. I'm not a huge fan of the belly bands, though I've made them work a few times. And the elastic waists are too tight for my still fluffy belly. To say it has been frustrating is an understatement.  LulaRoe has been my wardrobe savior lately (hello Carly and Cassie!). I've managed to find some pants and jeans that actually work (after many failed attempts), but I was in need for some good work tops, so that's what I requested in this fix.

In true Sarah fashion, I read all the Stitch Fix maternity reviews I could before mine arrived. I was curious what people were getting as there is less maternity on Pinterest than the regular clothes.  What I noticed was that not everything was maternity, which is good, but that many people got new stylists, which wasn't good. I've had Kelly for about a year and she gets me. I've had two 5/5 boxes with her and she has nailed my style every time! So when you put my maternity clothes fight and possibly losing my favorite stylist into play, I was nervous for this fix.

But it was amazing. Spoiler - I kept all the things!

First off, I got to keep Kelly. I asked for some tops and items to transition to fall.  A lot of my work tops aren't stretchy material, so I'm down to about four that fit. That's not a lot unless you do all your laundry every week (and I don't). When I peeked, because I always peek, I was really excited with what I saw.  So, let's get to it! Also, this box arrived when I was on vacation so I literally had a day to decide before sending it back.  Therefore, mirror selfies it is!

Honey Punch Rivington Textured Open Cardigan - $64

If there is anything I don't need another of, it's cardigans. However, and it's a big however, this thing is amazing. One, I don't have a good neutral color like this that will go with everything. I have a lot of jewel tones, but not a good light neutral. Second, it's super soft and comfy. Kind of like being in a gigantic afghan. It's amazing. Third, it's an open front, so it will work all through this pregnancy and after.

Bay to Baubles Savvy Multi-Layered Chain Necklace - $28
I actually enjoy getting jewelry from Stitch Fix once in a while. The price points are decent and I usually get some really good, basic pieces.  Amazingly, with all the jewelry I do own, I don't have a plain silver necklace. They all have some sort of color or stones in them.  Kelly suggested I pair this with the Madigan top, so I did (see photos above) and you'll see it again with the Daniel Rainn top! I've already worn the necklace twice since I've had it and I was only at work three days last week!

Daniel Rainn Bilson Pleat Detail Blouse - $68

My first thoughts on this top were a) it's not maternity, b) it's really expensive and c) I love all things Daniel Rainn. Super conflicting amount of pros and cons! Kelly mentioned in her note that while it's not maternity, it would work for 1st and 2nd trimesters because it has some extra flow and room.  It definitely does.  I still have plenty of belly room in this beauty.  As for the price, I decided that it was worth it.  It came with a cami and the fact that I'll be able to wear both during and after pregnancy made it worthwhile. Here, I've paired it with the Bay to Baubles necklace that also came in my fix.

Madigan Kwenuke Short Sleeve Maternity Knit Top - $48

This is the only actual maternity top out of the lot.  I would call this more casual than work friendly, but I can totally get away with it on Friday or under a cardigan, so that's a plus.  The front is a super soft cotton and the back is a super soft silky material that breathes (important!).

I love, love, love the back of this top.  The colors are so gorgeous.

Market and Spruce Dido Mixed Print Knit Top - $58

Disclaimer - I kept this top solely for the 25% discount and turned around and sold it on the Facebook boards. It literally sold in an hour. I only sell on the boards when I have 4 items and the 5th isn't going to work for me, otherwise it's not worth the effort to sell the item. But that 25% discount is too sweet to give up when you're already keeping 4 of the 5 items! I sold the item with the 25% discount plus shipping, so it all worked out.

On regular body Sarah, this would have been a total keeper. Front was super soft and it wasn't too clingy. But the back was a stiffer fabric, so the front was already starting to creep a little on the belly. It's not even that big yet! Aaron told me that if it was already creeping, not to keep it. He's been really supportive of me buying clothes that fit and I feel good in (because I mostly just feel fat), but he's also been really good at telling me if something is worth it or not. So, this one we nixed.

I was so excited and happy with this fix! The whole maternity/pregnant clothing thing has not been my favorite so far, so having a few items that I love makes me feel better. I'm looking forward to my next fix! What do you think? Would you have kept (not sold, ha) or sent back things that I didn't?!