Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Simple Storage Solutions

You don't have to spend oodles and boodles of money to organize your home. Don't get me wrong, if money were no option, I'd be at The Container Store just about every other weekend. You can probably find a lot of things you need to organize your home right under your nose (or, in your basement). During last month's Love Your Home Challenge I encouraged readers to scrounge around their homes for anything they could find that could be used for storage: baskets, bins, old bowls from the kitchen, cardboard boxes, cups, mason jars, even unused bags and purses. Here are 5 simple storage solutions to consider. . .

{one} I use small bowls to organize earrings, bracelets, and watches in my closet. I also wrap old shoe boxes in fabric scraps to store accessories like scarves and belts. {two} In the bathroom I use laundry baskets to keep swim gear like life jackets and paddle boards stashed away. These items are too bulky to store in a bin but I don't want them just hanging around either. {three} Mason jars are all over my house and hold things like Q-tips and toothbrushes or double as vases for fresh flowers. {four} I have baskets in the corner of every room for things like throw blankets, toys, and the books we check out from the library each week. {five} In the laundry room and kitchen, tin cans house clothespins, dishwasher pods, and sponges.

Simple Storage Solutions

Click below for sources:
Simple Storage Solutions by keepcalmmommyon 

You don't have to get all "pinteresty" when it comes to organizing your home. Save money and use what you have. If you want to spruce things up a bit, buy some black card stock and a white sharpie and make your own chalkboard labels to tie on to baskets or pick up a few packs of these bookplates (my fave!) to stick onto bins and boxes. 

For other organizing ideas around the home read here, here and here! Happy organizing!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Addicted to Sugar

I eat a lot of sugar. Mostly chocolate, but I don't discriminate against other forms of sweetness. Cookies. Candy. Cupcakes. Cake. Ice cream. I enjoy it all. Lately, I've been enjoying it a little too much. And by lately, I mean the last few years. I used to jokingly say that I am a chocoholic but as I started to do a little research on the effects refined sugar has on our bodies I came to a sudden realization: I really am a sugar addict. My daily "meal closures" had grown into a daily over consumption of sugar that left me groggy, bloated, unfocused, cranky and overweight.

I knew that if I wanted to have more energy to make it through the day, to lose the weight I've gained over the years, and set a better example for my little loves, that I needed to make a big change to my diet and lifestyle. So, I quit sugar. 

I've tried challenge groups, Tone it Up, 21 Day Fix and a gizzilion other programs that exist out there. Each time I started off strong but by week two or three had given up and am right back where I started. (These are all great programs, by the way, but I need to first overcome my own mental and chemical dependence on refined sugars for any them to ever be effective).

So, several weeks ago I made a plan to make a change. A big change. A no more sugar (sweets + treats) change. No more eating junk food to give me "energy" to make it through a long day at work. No more sweets as "meal closure" after lunch and dinner. No more stopping for fast "food" because I was too tired and lazy to cook. I made that change and I am n e v e r  l o o k i n g  b a c k.

I made two small (but very big) changes to my daily routine. First, I cut out all sugar (sweets + treats) cold turkey. Second, I forced myself to get up early and workout. Here's what happened. . .

Week 1: I gave myself a bedtime. If I was going to get up at 4:30am I was going to need my beauty rest. I was tired and exhausted. I hated getting up early and hit snooze a few times, but managed to get my rear end out from under the covers and into my running gear. I ditched my DVD workouts for old school running. The treadmill and I became best buds in the morning. I prepped all of my food for the week on Sunday night. I threw out all junk food and only bought fruits, veggies, meats, dairy and cooking essentials at the grocery store. If it isn't in the house I can't eat it. The hard part was avoiding all of the candy and junk food that sits out at work. Everybody has a bowl of candy or chocolate on their desk. So, I told everyone what I was doing and they made sure to hold me to it! I had a pounding headache every afternoon. I traded in my two or three cups of hot cocoa each day for tea. No sugar added. I was miserable. By Friday my headaches stopped but over the weekend my body shut down. I felt weak and my stomach was a mess. By Sunday evening, one week after I gave up sugar, I was starting to feel energetic and refreshed. I stepped on the scale and saw that I lost 7 pounds! 

Week 2: Hopeful that I would feel better soon, I spent another day grocery shopping and meal prepping for the week. Headaches were gone. Cravings were less (it was getting easier and easier to walk by the secretary's desk without wanting to grab a handful of Cadbury Mini Eggs), and I was running a little faster each day. It was getting easier to get up bright and early in the morning and I was sleeping better at night.

Week 3: Week three was the hardest of all because it ended on my birthday! I resisted temptation throughout the week and allowed myself a small treat for my birthday. This was the real test. Stopping after just one piece of cake. I didn't want another setback. My pants were less snug, my energy levels were up, I was logging more miles on the treadmill, and more weight came off so I resisted the urge and stopped after just a few small bites. Boom. Now, if that's not discipline I don't know what is!

Week 4: I'm a a few days away from making it a whole month (minus one piece of birthday cake) without sugar. My skin feels more clear, I'm not winded chasing my kiddos around the house, I'm sleeping better, eating healthier, and my workouts are getting more intense. I'm more patient, aware, and functional than I have been in years. I'm not as stressed, cranky, or unmotivated as I was a month ago. I can only imagine it gets better from here.

Tips & Tricks: Take before and after pictures to see your progress. Share your goals with your partner in crime and get them on board. Or at the very least, have them hold you accountable. Tell people what you are doing so they can be conscientious (especially if you have a birthday coming up!). If it helps, keep a food journal. Meal prep. Fail to plan, plan to fail. Cut up your veggies, make salads ahead of time, cook a few meals to get you through the week so that you can easily avoid eating junk food.

Sample daily meals*: Water. Drink lots of water. After my workout I drink Shakeology but you can substitute that for your favorite protein drink. I have been drinking Shakeology for a few months now and it is my favorite meal of the day. It helps with energy and provides my body with the nutrition I need. Most importantly, since starting Shakeology, I haven't had a single migraine. Folks, I've been suffering from migraines for almost 15 years! Breakfast consists of instant cream of wheat or oatmeal with a cup of fresh fruit. On weekends I splurge and make homemade pancakes (no sugar) or eggs and bacon, always with some fruit. Lunch might be a sandwich and a side salad or dinner leftovers. For dinner I make sure to have some sort of lean protein (salmon, turkey, chicken) and a fresh veggie (zucchini, spinach, green beans, broccoli, etc.). I need a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to keep me going. My favorites are apples with peanut butter, pepper slices with hummus, or plain yogurt with granola and berries. I'm not a coffee drinker but I love my hot cocoa. I've replaced that with black tea (decaf) with a splash of almond milk in the mornings and pomegranate green tea at night before bed. It's not hot chocolate...but it's growing on me!

The big question I get now is, "How long do you plan on doing this for?" My answer, "I'm not sure." I still have a lot of work to do to get to where I think my healthiest weight and strongest self should be. I for sure don't plan on giving up chocolate forever. Sweet things are meant to be enjoyed and I plan on treating myself every now and then. Once I'm confident that I'm in a healthy routine that consists of eating properly and exercising regularly I'll allow myself a little treat every now and then! But for now, I am really enjoying this healthier and happier version of myself without sugar.

* I am not a health professional in any way, shape or form. This is just a sampling of my weekly menu. The sugar I am giving up is junk food type sugar (sweets and treats), not the sugars you find in fruits and breads, for example. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Bling 2015

It has been one heck of a winter. Brutal, actually. I am so over the snow and the cold and the ice and the grayness. Give me some spring. Give me sunshine and warmth and green grass and flip flops and birds and nights on the front porch.

The snow is finally starting to melt around here. Granted, every time we get a good melt Mother Nature throws a few more inches of snow our way. But it is melting. And that means in a few short weeks (fingers crossed) I'll see grass. It will likely be yellow, brown and muddy grass, but I'll take what I can get! In anticipation of blue skies and sunshine I'm sharing my favorite springtime accessories today.

Spring Bling 2015

Spring Bling 2015 by keepcalmmommyon 
Click above for sources & to buy

1. Kate Spade puts a smile on my face. I love everything about this clutch style wallet, especially the pretty teal color. 

2. Ditch the long sleeves for short sleeves and tank tops. Don't forget to accessorize with some cute watches!

3. Flower crowns aren't just for kids anymore. Addie and I have a few of these in our collection. 

4. Love. These. Shoes. They go with everything. 

5. Wipe off the germs on your screen and old case and give your phone a face lift!

6. My favorite perfume by Marc Jacobs. Try out a fresh new scent this season. 

7. Now that the temps aren't as frigid I'm looking forward to getting off the treadmill and hitting the trails outside. Running indoors just isn't the same!

8. You definitely need a fancy new bracelet this spring. It's the perfect addition for your cousin's wedding, the Kentucky Derby party you're going to, or your spring family photo shoot. 

9. The snow may be behind us now, but April showers are on their way! 

Happy shopping!