I am blessed to call some amazing women my closest friends. Playing off my last post on what and who is my Tribe, I felt it necessary to share this raw and inspiring story from one of my Pink Ladies, Katie, as it provides a beautiful testimony as to the characters of those in my Tribe.
Katie is one of those rare women who can take the worst situation and find the gem in its midst. Life happens to us all, and I know this girl has had a lot of lemons thrown her way lately. Yet having survived what some may say is the hardest battle of all — the battle for your own life — Katie persists with a smile on her face and overwhelming love in her heart. No matter what she is going through in her personal life, she makes time to check in on those she loves and be available for a chat or hug. For someone who could very easily choose to be selfish and focus on her own struggles, Katie will not allow anyone to feel sadness and pain alone. She is the very definition of a servant heart.
As I read through her inspiring testimony for the 65,245,897th time, I marvel at the determined, persistent, and optimistic woman I have in my Tribe. I could not be more humbled to have Katie call me her friend in return.
Please read her inspiring story here. (This story was originally submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Hess.
I love you, Katie, and all that you symbolize — you are more than my friend, you are a role model.
In case you haven’t been online lately, the ketogenic (“keto” for short) diet is trending so hard that the CrossFit Army is at war in terms of devoted followers. It is the diet that screams, “Fat isn’t bad for you!” and allows you to not only cook with butter but also indulge in copious amounts of cheese every day. Closely related to the once-famed Atkins diet, the keto diet revolves around eating lots of fat, limited protein, and very little carbs.
Basically, you aim for macro percentages of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. Exactly how many grams of each depends on your body type and energy needs, but most dieters take in no more than 20 grams of carbs per day, with few leaning upwards to 50 grams if they’re needing the boost for heavy workouts. In a traditional Western diet, 50 to 65 percent of a person’s calories come from carbohydrates so this is a complete shift in how your body runs.
The goal is that your body will enter into ketosis and start to burn fat rather than glucose. Usually, your body gets its fuel from glucose which is found in carbs. When you take out carbs though, your body is like, “What the heck?” It doesn’t know how to run any longer, so it turns to another source of energy: fat. Or, scientifically speaking, ketones.
A diet that allows ungodly amounts of cheese, has tons of delicious-looking recipes, and sports thousands of Facebook groups for community-building? Sign me up! I began on Monday, August 20th and wanted to experience the keto diet for myself. Here is what happened when I committed to the high-fat, low-carb diet for one month.
Continue reading “I Ate Keto For A Month…”
I have been struggling lately. I have been struggling with the question, “Who am I?” There are so many possible labels: a wife, a friend, a Christian, an advocate, a member of my community, a woman, a dreamer, a runner, an organizer, a finance assistant, a blogger. Yet when I consider those labels, I don’t feel I embody any of them completely. I have this unrelenting want to add the word “BETTER” before each title. I want to be a better wife, a better friend, a better Christian, etc. All at once. All together. All to perfection. And as I wonder about who I am, I begin to feel overwhelmed with disappointment at my elusive potential.
That is where my biggest struggle lies: in the want to be “better” than how I perceive myself. Focusing on that want which seems so unfathomable, unapproachable, and unreachable, I recognize I am viewing my life from the base of a gigantic mountain. I can see multiple trails I could claim as my path, each with a directional sign reading who I yearn to be. Yet I feel if I choose one path, then the others will go unaltered. Never being explored, never being grown, never being conquered.
Smarter hikers than I would venture down a path to see where it leads and then retrace their footsteps to explore another trail. Stronger hikers than I would choose one path, complete it, and return to the beginning to begin anew. Not me though. I want to take all the paths at once without giving any specific label up. All or nothing is what I felt was necessary to give my life meaning and purpose. Continue reading “Saying Yes & Following The Path Of Fulfillment”
August is right around the corner and that means my favorite fresh fruit season is about to strike in Michigan: blueberry season! I have grown up eating pounds and pounds of those delectable little berries, and as I’ve gotten older and “more mature” in my palate, I look for various ways to incorporate my favorite fruit into different recipes.
Today’s Savory Sunday is a simple one. But it is also a top contender on my healthy summer meal plan. Dark green spinach, plump blueberries, sharp red onions, crunchy and salty almonds, and rich feta cheese all mixed together for a happy, healthy meal. This salad is packed with lots of nutrients and antioxidants! Plus my homemade dressing adds just enough tang to make you wanting more once your bowl is gone.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Blueberry Almond Salad With Feta”
Anyone remember me mentioning all those supplies I bought for mosquito repellent candles in my Lemon Rosemary Chicken recipe? How about my goal to eat less grains in my post with the Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes? Well, here is a dish that makes the most of both! The left over limes from my would-be candles and low-carb zucchini noodles make this recipe healthy and satisfying. Two things I love to pair together!
G was craving some shrimp this week and scampi sounded good to me. However, I wanted to use up some ingredients I already had in the fridge and pantry. I also didn’t want to go full out Cheat Meal mid-week by throwing the buttery shrimpers on top of some noodles. So I improvised and wooh-la! Another meal to find permanent residence in our cook book.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Cilantro Lime Shrimp Scampi”
I am not eating many grains so I am limiting my consumption of breads, pastas, and rices, as well as staying away from white potatoes. That means I am attempting to be as crafty as possible when it comes to carb-infused and starchy foods. Cue the riced cauliflower, zucchini noodles, and sweet potatoes!
This particular recipe caused some hesitation with me. I love buffalo chicken and I love sweet potatoes, but I am not a fan of mixed foods. (I’m that person who cannot have her food touch. I even have a special separating tray at my aunt’s house to use at holiday gatherings. Ha!) So contemplating eating this slow cooker buffalo chicken inside a sweet potato had me debating my life choices.
Then I tried a bite and my world changed.
This recipe is unbelievably tasty. The spiciness from the hot sauce and the sweetness of the potato make for a dynamite flavor! G and I already looking forward to the next time this little dish is made for dinner.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes”
Today I want to talk about self-care. True self-care. Not the romanticized and trendy version the world is constantly pushing down our throats. Not the bath bombs and face masks and #treatyourself high-dollar purchases and ritual meditations the world seems so eager to focus on for peak lifestyles.
No, I’m talking about real self-care. The self-care that is often a very unbeautiful thing.
Continue reading “The Ugliness of Self-Care”
A friend of mine posted on Twitter and Facebook a few weeks ago inquiring if any of her friends might be interested in a weight loss challenge this summer. She said it has been a goal of hers for months to lose some weight and get back into shape but that she needed some sort of challenge to push herself. She needed the push for positivity, accountability, and fun during her journey to a more healthy lifestyle.
Her post rang a bell inside me. Truth be told, I’ve gained more weight over the past six months than I care to admit. Where most brides attempt to lose weight for their weddings, the stress of planning my Big Day actually caused me to gain enough weight to bring the scale to the heaviest I’ve been in years. Not only is the scale glaring at me, but my own reflection is too. I can see the weight gain. I can feel it in my clothes. And I can feel how my confidence levels have shifted and the changes in the way I carry myself — I’m slowly resorting back to Old Ashley. Someone I do not wish to meet again.
Unlike the old days though, I know what caused my physical change. Even though I was keeping to weekly meal plans, my weekend habits hung me over a cliff and my scarce workout sessions threw me off completely. While some may fast during stress, I tend to overcompensate by snacking. I also allowed myself to have one (or a few) beers each night to “calm myself.” All in all, my healthy habits have been on a standstill for 2018.
Fortunately, choosing one’s health can never come too late. And today begins a six week journey with 26 other people towards the starting steps of losing weight, gaining fitness, and getting back on track. Today begins our own Biggest Loser’s Challenge.
And I aim to win.
Continue reading “Biggest Loser Challenge: Starting Line”