Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Steadfast through the holidays

As you all know, I have been on a health/fitness kick for half the year now.  I am about to hit the 6 month mark of being healthy and fit as in....I haven't missed a workout for 6 months straight and continue to make smart food choices daily.  Just saying that blows my mind.  This is a first for me.  We are in the middle of holiday madness.  I made it through Thanksgiving with flying colors.  Christmas has been harder.  Lots of gifts came my way from students that involved sweets and lots of sugar.  I simply smile, give a giant hug to the little who gave it to me, and tell them how wonderful it is.  Then I take it home and offer it my husband or save it for a sweet treat for the kiddos on sweet Saturday.

Now, with that said, one can start to feel pretty deprived when those around you are enjoying all the yumminess that goes with the holidays.  It just doesn't feel right to deprive, deprive, deprive.  So what's a girl to do.  Here's how I cope.

1.  Find your HEALTHY pleasures and indulge.  I have looked up a lot of healthy sweet treats I can make that use wholesome, natural ingredients and no artificial ingredients or sugars. Only those that come from nature.  So far I have made a nice pumpkin spiced late, cafe coconut mocha, lots of kefir fruit smoothie concoctions, and a chocolate fruit dip made with garbanzo beans.  All of these are low calorie because of the natural ingredients that they are made of.  To the person who is indulging in all that the holidays has to offer, my sweet treats might taste bland, BUT to me they are wonderful.  I haven't had things laden with cane sugar in so long my taste buds have reset and even fruit can taste like a wonderful sweet treat.  My taste buds are so much more sensitive than they used to be.  I only need a hint of sweetness to make me feel like I am getting all the yumminess the holidays insist I have.

2.  Find healthy alternatives and don't feel badly about premaking them for yourself and eating them in front of others.  Haters can hate.  Your health is more important than their feelings.  For some one day of indulgence won't matter because you can get on track the next day.  They may think you are being ridiculous, but they aren't you.  For me, I 'm afraid one day would lead to another and another.  It's a slippery slope. I choose to to not find out if I will go down it.  On Thanksgiving I premade some baked sweet potatoes.  I actually LOVE them plain with just a little salt and pepper sprinkled on.  While everyone else had the sugar laden traditional sweet potatoes that go with turkey, I pulled out my plain baked one.  I enjoyed it just as much without all the guilt. I didn't feel deprived at all.  Healthy doesn't have to mean tasteless and boring as long as it works for you.

2.  Remain steadfast with your workouts.  I have hit a lull in my workouts.  What I mean is that I have done them so often that there is no longer any thinking involve even though I have a different workout for every day of the week except my one off day.  It's almost robotic.  What this means for me is boredome.  With boredome comes dread of working out.  SO.....I revamped my routine.  I added some new moves, took out a few, and kept a few of my favorites.  I no longer can trudge through a workout without thinking about what I'm doing and focusing on form.  All this thinking makes time go by fast.  I don't focus on how hard it is, I focus on doing it right.  Boredom has gone and I am back on track with motivation to keep going.

3. Schedules can get in the way of regular workouts.  How in the world have I managed to not miss one with staff parties, concerts to attend, friendly get togethers?  It's called staying committed, prioritizing, and preplanning for those interruptions.  Either, I book it out of work as fast as possible and squeeze in a workout before I have to be somewhere, OR I plan to do a double work out the day before my commitment so I can have the day of my commitment off.  There has even been two days where I brought my workout gear to school and worked out after school in my classroom.  It got done!

4.  Use your progress and results to keep you going.  One day I came home after a long drive home where I had been thinking about taking it easy for that day's workout rather than pushing myself to do the normal.  When I was changing into my workout clothes I glanced at my body in the mirror.  I admired what I saw.  This is so unusual for me.  My body isn't perfect, but I have a body that most would envy....a toned body.  I have never had a toned body, slender yes, but not toned....until now.  I don't cares if it this sounds conceited.  The way I figure, I have worked very hard to get to this point.  It hasn't come easily, so I have a right to feel this way.  Just seeing my reflection was the motivation I needed.  I hadn't worked this hard to give up now.  I started seeing my body as my gift to myself this Christmas.  I wasn't going to sabotage all the work I had done by taking it easy that day.  One day might lead to another, and another, and another.  You get my drift?  The only time I have given myself to take it easy in a workout is when I am not feeling quite right physically.  On those days, I still workout but I decrease the intensity of my workout and give my body permission to use the extra energy I reserved to heal.

5.  Keep your mantras close by.  They can be a life line on the hardest days.  You can't argue with them.  If they are good ones they will keep you going and hold you accountable when no one else will.

6.  Remember who've you've inspired and keep going for them.  If watching you keeps them going, who do they have if you quit?  For me, my husband has been on board and working on himself because of me.  My kids go through spurts of motivation to stay healthy and fit, but they are watching I know so I keep going for them.  Others have told me that I inspire them.  That alone inspires me in return.

7.  Remember your nice, cute,  new smaller clothes won't fit if you give into old ways.  Do you want to say goodbye to those?  Do you want to waste all the money you spent to get them by growing out of them?  NOPE!

8.  And one of the all time most important things....remember how good you feel since you'e done what's right for you and your body. Remember how you used to feel. Remember the health problems you had before and and how those felt and ask yourself, "Is it worth it to go back to that?"  For me it's a resounding NO!  I have more energy than I know what to do with.  I don't come home and feel like a truck hit me any more.  I just keep going and going from the moment I get up to the moment I sit down and I get so much done!

I can't wait until the New Year's is done and I can officially say, I made it through the holidays.  If I can remain steadfast with my commitment to health through the holidays, the next 6 months should be a breeze.  I'm actually doing it!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Eerily Similar

One morning on my drive to work I was thinking about my new exercise routine.  I was thinking about the feeling I get when I go downstairs into my workout zone.  I've been at this now for 5 months.  The newness has worn off.  It is now all very familiar.  The best way to describe the feeling, is to compare it to a friendship.  Read the following twice and the second time replace the word friendship with exercise.

1.  Friendships make us better people.
2.  Friendships keep us healthy.
3.  Friendships requires work
4.  Friendships are not always easy.
5.  Friendships sometimes hurt, but the hurt can make your friendship stronger if you stick it out
6.  Friendships will give back when you give to them
7.  Friendships can bring healing
8.  Friendships supports you
9.  Friendships require time and commitment

Wierd huh how similar those two things are?  So, lately when I go downstairs and step on that treadmill or grab that dumbell, I feel like I'm returning to an old friend.  A friend whose given me some good times and hard times, but has made me a better, happier, healthier person.  Just like a friendship it requires time and effort, but it just reaffirms my favorite exercise mantra,

"1 hour of hard work, to look and feel good 24 hours a day!"

It is totally worth it!

God isn't fixing this....pah-lease

I am home on a sick day.  Lost my voice a couple days back and I am pretty much useless at work.  This is my second day off.  I suspect that tomorrow I will be able to be back because my talking voice should be good enough to go.  My singing voice is a different matter, but at least I have CD's with lovely singing voices to help me out.

Anyhoo, having the house to myself without having to care for anyone, but myself is quite a treat.  Sad I have to be sick to get this treat, but none the less.  These last two days have been a restorative in more ways than one.  This morning I was sitting on the couch listening to the Today show.  The talk of the hour is another shooting that took place at a holiday party in CA.  The show hosts were lamenting how Americans are saying that prayers aren't working in regards to terrorism and local shootings.  The title on the screen was, "God isn't fixing this."

I hope I'm not opening a can of worms here.

All I could do is roll my eyes.  It actually irritated me.  Do people really think God doesn't hear them? Do people really think God isn't doing anything?  This angers me and saddens me.  Yes, he hears us. Yes, he's working on our behalf.  Here's the deal, just because we want something, doesn't mean he's going to override free will and take all the sin out of the world.  Just because our desires for a safe and peaceful society are just and right doesn't mean that God will take our rights to choose. Let's face it, the people that walk into public places and open fire have free will.  God can put people in their path to help them make better choices, but ultimately the choice is still their choice and Satan still has the freedom to tempt and entice man into sin.

Does it suck!  Absolutely.  Is it fair to the good people of America who don't deserve acts of violence.  Absolutely not!   BUT...can any good come out of it?  I know God will get the glory.  I believe that God works all things to his glory.  For every horrible and unfathomable act of violence there are probably just as many stories, or acts of kindness, love, and compassion.  In fact, out of some of the most incorrigible sinful acts of man, comes some of the most inspiring and moving evidences of God.  I've heard many stories of people coming to Christ because of the most dire of circumstances.  They actually see and experience God through the storm.  If you don't know any, talk to any pastor, they'll have a bounty to share with you. You see, even in the sadness of death of innocent people God is glorified.  Through the sadness and death, God is glorified.  Because of the sadness and death, God is glorified.

And then there's the notion that God isn't doing anything even though we are praying.  I am certain God is working on our behalf everyday and much of his work goes unnoticed because we haven't opened our eyes to his work in our lives.  Again I think of stories, stories of people who's regular routine was disrupted the day of 911 and for whatever reason they didn't end up in the building that day.  Stories of trials of others that seemed impossible to recover from, yet these people come out of them stronger and better before.  Stories of miraculous healings.  Stories of sinners who, in our human eyes, do not deserve forgiveness for their crimes of hate, but because of the grace and mercy of our God they come to Christ and commit their lives to serving him and making this world a better place.  Ever heard of Paul?

You see, God is working.  Everyday God is working in small ways and big ways.  Every day God is good.  When you stop for a second and take off the negative lens our media casts on our society you might actually see that God is glorified.  God is alive.  God is  But most of all, God is listening to us, loving us, and quite possibly crying with us when the world hurts us so.

Personally, I am so incredibly thankful for free will even though it comes with a big price that affects so many innocent people.  I do not think I would want to live in a world where I didn't have the choice to choose God.  How can being forced to worship and follow God be love at all?  It's not, folks.  The sheer fact that we have free will to choose God is one of his biggest acts of love towards us.  I think he offers us this freedom to choose because when we choose him, we are in fact, choosing real love towards him.  Love that is forced is not real love.  Living a world without free choice and where a God controls every aspect of our lives would mean we are....robots.  You see?

So there's my soap box for the day.  Have I ever been directly affected by acts of terror and violence?  No, and I hope I never do.  There is a possibility that some day it will rock my world.  I really hope if it does happen, that God will help me remember he is there, he loves me, he is working, and he will be glorified.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Nice Change

Almost two months ago we had the blessing of having my in laws move to town.  We never thought we'd see the day....seriously.  We had a little anxiety about it, after all we have basically been going it alone ever since we moved off to college 18 years ago.  How would having family this close change our little world?  Would it be a good change, a stressful change, or very little change at all?  So far so good.

We have started up a new tradition of eating together every Sunday after church and for the time, my in laws are even attending the same church.  Then there's getting to have another set of people to watch our little angels so we can actually have time together.  We now have two options for childcare for date night.  How nice!  And still to come, my littles will have an extended audience to partake in their little musical performances.

Another perk.....we are close for the holidays.  No more traveling for hours on end for a short weekend just so we can spend a holiday together.  And since they are so close and we can see them often, we don't ever have to use any of our break time to go visit them.  We can use our breaks to go vacation in new places.

Oh and then there's having my MIL around when Jeff is out of town so we can really live up girls weekends.  That part is nice too.

One activity that their move has brought us is the opportunity to really enjoy the lake with a boat.  You heard me right.  Grandpa purchased an old boat before their move and we intend on making the most of it.  Currently, we are waiting for it to get fixed up so it is functional.  I can't wait.

All in all this has been such a welcome change in our lives.  We are better for it!  Welcome to Branson Grandma and Grandpa.  We're so happy you decided to share your lives with us on a more permanent basis!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I'm still here

I knew it had been a long time since I posted, so I went back and looked to be sure.  Geesh!  School started, work started, my life has changed, what more can I say.

Let's start with school/work.  Girls are all settled in their new classes and so am I.  I have lots of new ideas to implement this year with my students, as I do every year and I like the feeling of eager anticipation of how it will all go over.  As a teacher, sometimes you just plan a lesson that....flops.  It feels a little bit like someone just knocked you down because when a lesson isn't good, kids aren't engaged, bad behaviors escalate and there goes your day!  Especially when you don't have time to revamp the lesson before the next batch of kids walk through the door ready to learn the same stuff.  Sigh!  Anyways, I'm the queen of wallow for a few minutes in self pity and then get back up, dust myself off, go back to the drawing board, come up with something even better, and go at it again.  So anyways, it'll be an interesting year to see how all my lofty plans turn out.  You can't keep Darci down!  Here's hoping for the best.

A goal of mine for this school year is to stay positive when it comes to all the government BS that goes along with what I do. Last year I let myself get all bent out of shape, stressed out, and deflated over it all.  I can't keep doing that to myself.  I have had to catch myself already a few times as I've sit through hours of lecture on government regulations that are coming down the pike and what that means for how we are to teach.  More assessing, more data recording, more research, more reporting, more, more, more paperwork, and more worry about job security if it doesn't look good enough for the folks above.  Honestly, I feel like I need a week or two off just to get all the friggin paperwork done.  Hi, my name is Darci and I teach kids and fill out paperwork.  Seriously?   But alas, I am doing a lot of positive self talk to keep my chin up during it all.  Things that go around in my head, include:  you've got this Darci, you have nothing to worry about God has you where he wants you, it's still about the kids, you've got the goods to prove yourself a million times over.

As for my personal life....well this might just be the year of Darci.  It didn't set out for it to be that way, it just kind of happened.  I'm sure many of you know I have been trying to be healthier.  It started as eating better, cutting back on sweets, cutting down on portions.  I experienced a 12 pound weight loss after those changes.  Then a couple months later I added exercise into the mix since I thought I might gain weight in the summer months when I wasn't moving around teaching all the time.  I had no intentions of loosing more weight but rather just maintaining by that point.  However, in order to prevent workout boredom I knew I'd have to change things up a bit to so I didn't get mentally bored with my workouts.  Next thing I knew I was challenging myself to go harder on my workouts, faster, longer, heavier weights.  Honestly, I had the time to do it so why not?  What a healthy way to kill time on a hot summer day.  Before I knew it I was down another 10 pounds for total of 22 pound weight loss.  NOTHING fit anymore.  Despite my reluctance to buy new clothing, I really had no choice at that point. I had to completely change out all clothing from the waist down.  Thankfully shirts still fit.  The best part about it was I was seeing my body transform in amazing ways.  It was really inspiring and motivating.  When you have that big of a change and worked that hard, suddenly it becomes easier to say no to bad food.  It becomes easier to not skip a workout.  But then....what would happen when I had to work and didn't have all this time on my hands.

When work started I was NERVOUS.  To work that hard and backslide back to where I was.  I had dropped my size in clothing literally in half.  I hadn't worn that size since highschool.  I knew I could keep up with healthy eating, portion control, and cutting out sugar.  It was the exercise I was so nervous about.  Would I be too tired and stop working out?  Upon returning to school, the comments I started receiving from folks were overwhelming and so encouraging.  Everyone noticed and had such nice things to say.  That was the fuel I needed to keep going.  HOWEVER, I quickly realized that I had to adjust my expectations for workouts a little from what I had been doing.  My job is very active.  It was unreasonable to expect myself to workout 6 days a week for an hour plus like I had been going.  I tried it the first week.  I felt really run down and suddenly I didn't look forward to working out at all.  So, I contended that since my job was so active, I would allow myself to cut back to 4 days on and 1 day off.  Also, I would  make myself do at least 30 minutes of intense physical activity with a 5 minute warm-up, 5 minute cool down, and stretching before and after.  If I had a day where I wasn't as active, I would hit it harder in my home gym and for longer.  That seemed to do the trick.  Suddenly, I didn't dread workouts as much and I felt a little more normal and not as run down.

Now with all that said, I do have to say that not every day is easy.  There are still some days I don't want to do it.  BUT, I have come up with little mantras to help me push through the dread of another workout.  My best and most motivating one is, "What's one hour of a little work to look and feel good for 23 hours?"  I've also done some of the more cliche ones like: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, "  "Today's pain is tomorrrow's gain, "  "Just do it."  "You're stronger than you know."

So anyways, it has been quite the journey and my body is still changing.  It has been a new self-discovery for me of what I am capable of.  I have a whole new appreciation for my body and what it can do and how it responds.  I'm finding muscles I didn't know existed. I  find it all fascinating and motivating.  I never would've thought that in just 2.5 short months I could transform this much.  It intrigues me to think what could happen when I've been at it for an entire year.  I keep telling myself if I can only make it to a year then I will know I have it in me to keep this as a lifetime habit.  I have NEVER been able to keep up with an exercise program in my entire life.  Will this finally be my time?  We shall see.  I really want to be able to feel fit and fabulous on my 40th birthday and I want to be one of those people who get's to say, "I'm in the best shape of my life."  What an accomplishment.

So anyhoo, that's what's up with me.  Another day, another time, I'll share a little more about the family, but it's off to the treadmill right now ;).  We had some exciting things happen at the end of our summer.   More to come.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Colorado 2015

We have finished our trip to CO to see my folks.  Overall, it was a great trip.  It was 3.5 hour trip to KC to stay overnight with my sister and her family for the evening and then we all headed up to CO the next day.  That part of the trip took 14.5 hours.  Between getting that many people in and out of a bathroom and getting orders for that many people, it added considerable time to our drive.  At least I had someone to keep me company for all those hours behind the wheel.

Day one was filled with four wheeling around he house, riding horses in the mountains with the bigs, and a visit from my grandparents.

Day two was filled with another trail ride in the mountains with the littles and more four wheeling.  My sister took the bigs to play marbles with my grandparents.  The dog was also a HUGE hit during the trip.

Day three we headed to Glenwood Adventure park about and hour's drive from my folks' house.  There we got to ride the Alpine slide, a couple roller coasters, a zipline, tour a cave, see a 4D movie, and my favorite, rock climbing.  Brennan was the highlight of our day when she opted to try her hand at rock climbing.  She almost made it to the top and drew quite a crowd doing it. When she could go no longer she bawled her eyes out with disappointment and we had to send someone up after her to get down.  It was a moment I'll never forget.  My little girl who wouldn't ever swing in a baby swing  or ride on her Daddy's shoulders a few years ago because of fear of heights had surprised us all.  She sure is changing.  Kadyn and I both made it to the top, but we have a couple inches on Brennan which makes it a lot easier.  I have a feeling next time she'll be up there before any of us.  She sure is one determined little girl.

We had to ride a gondola to get to the park.

Still unbelieveable looking at the picture.  One brave little 6 year old!

Gracie and Kadyn

On our last day we took it easy and recharged our batteries.  I decided to workout with the bigs and my sister until my sister was stung by a bee.  Later I ventured out for a 4 mile walk with my niece and a little weight training when we returned.  It was nice to have one on one time with her.  I've never had that time with her before.  The girls baked cinnamon rolls from scratch with their grandma and the dog got spoiled the entire day.  He was a BIG hit.

We left 7:10 CO time, 6:10 our time the next morning.  I drove the entire way to KC then dropped off my sister and kids and kept going.  I just couldn't bring myself to unload the van and reload it again.  I was determined to make it home.  The kids slept the rest of the way and I turned up the music full blast, sang at the top of my lungs, froze myself out with the ac, danced in my chair, drank tea, and did leg lifts beside the steering wheel to keep myself awake.  My sister was worried about deer at night.  I did drive by two of them on the shoulder of the road, but God answered my prayers.  They just stood there and stared at me.  Finally, at 1:30 in the morning we made it home safe and sound, just in time to hug Jeff go to bed and say goodbye to him as he left the following morning to KC for work.  The trip back took about 18 hours overall.  I have to say, the kids didn't complain during the drive up or back not even once.  They are wonderful travelers.  Between a DVD player, game system, cousins, they were content.  We are lucky!

Saw 3 hot air ballons on our trip back.  The little dots in the picture.

I am glad to be home and we are now gearing up for a short weekend in St. Louis to Six Flags with our church.  We are officially on the downward spiral towards the start of school.  This summer has been the best one yet!  I can't say I'm ready to go back yet, but I'll get there.  For now, I'm going to relish every last minute of summer!!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

2015 First half of summer

We LOVE the beach!  This year we bought a season pass.  30 bucks baby!  We also have a beach umbrella, picnic blanket and real beach bags.  We are professional beachers.  Our usual routine on a beach day is to eat lunch, sun block up, pack a snack, and head out.  Then I set up camp on the beach and join the girls when I'm finished.  They spend their time diving for shells, making sand castles, or just practicing their swimming.  Brennan is really getting better.  She can pretty much swim under water and is starting to swim above the water fairly well with goggles.  Hoping she can ditch the goggles and do both without them too very soon.  Every time we go she gets better.  I absolutely love floating and people watching.  I am also the official shell jar holder.  We have been working for years to fill that puppy up.  The shells are tiny people.  It takes awhile.  When we are finished, I plan on gluing them all to a frame and putting a beach photo in it.

Other going ons have included a fun visit from my good college friend Kelsey, one of Kadyn's friends sleeping over, fun summer drinks with the hubs under my new twinkle light umbrella, a date night to a dinner movie theater, going out with our pastor and his wife to see Jonah the musical (which unfortuntely we have no pictures of), and lots and lots of workouts (for me).  Let's just say the rain and heat haven't kept this lady down.  

B has been drawing pictures like crazy this summer.I had to buy this one for 5 cents.

Every morning starts out with a movie or two.  We are slow to rise and get around to doing things.  It summer!  

Kadyn's friend came over for a sleep over.  We took her to the beach and they jumped on the trampoline with the sprinkler.

The shell is so tiny, can't see it can you?

My friend Kelsey and two of her four kiddos.  It was a great time reconnecting.

I dread the day I will no longer be able to enjoy summers with these two.  They are the best to pal around with all day.

Riding scooters while the moms walk.

A short dip after a long walk in the woods.  Why not?

A mudslide under my new twinkle light umbrella.  Ah!

The girls did it too, with their non alcoholic drinks of course.  They felt special because they were in wine glasses.

Harry thought the umbrella was a nice touch.

First time they did this.  I was amazed I got a decent shot,  This punk kid kept swinging this bucket of water around and getting dizzy and almost crashing into the girls.

Stopped off at a splash park for fun after a trip to Sprinfield to visit the library.

This summer God decided Branson needed a monsoon.  The dam has been open and the flooding has been crazy.  People are actually having to be rescued to from their vehicles.  The only perk is, I don't have to water my flowers.

Our beach umbrella is just the right size for me and the girls.  It is a perfect place to stay out of the sun and dry off for a snack or reapply sunscreen.  
Still to come this summer:  A trip to CO to see my folks with my sister and the cousins, a weekend get away to St. Louis to six flags with folks from the church, redoing our bedroom, moving Jeff's parents up, and lots of doctor's appointments to get ready for school.  I can't believe summer is half over and we are on the downward spiral of it.  Waa!!! I heart summer.