Modest Commission Thursday.

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Confession:  I am not the best planner.  I am not a procrastinator, just not a great planner.  I underestimate time and take on far more than I should in the span of time I have allotted.  So I end up with not enough time and believing I have to accomplish it all myself, as if I don’t have a husband and four children who are all fully capable and willing to help.  Yesterday when I started running out of time, I assigned tasks to everyone.  Hubby had previously agreed to make his famous tortillas. The boy made taco meat.  T made salsa.  Garza girls made a chocolate cake and guacamole.  Simple tasks no boss threatened me to accomplish, just tasks I thought I had to do by myself. It all turned out amazing, and for our guests, who could feel more welcomed than by a genuine family-cooked meal made by all our hands?  It was a Modest Commission that released me from all sorts of stress and pressure, and I was so grateful.  The meal and fellowship for all of us was beautiful and a blessing, and as our friends left with a bag of tortillas, our hearts and bellies were full.

Added bonus:  Monsters also started doing their own laundry this week.

Magic Monday.

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Do you ever have dessert after breakfast, just that extra sweet something after your savory?  This morning after all our eggs and sausage we had cheesecake.  Yes, I said it.  Cheesecake.  It was Magic. See, my sweet cravings on this keto regime have not been completely kicked or governed, so I had to take drastic measures and search like a madwoman for a low carb, high fat dessert not involving artificial sweeteners that leave the taste of melted aspirin in my mouth.  I found my baking BFF in Swerve.  Swerve is the pretty name for erythritol, and it is the most perfect sugar substitute I have ever used.  It is completely plant-based and has no aftertaste.  I used it in the cheesecake recipe, and those in my family who call themselves connoisseurs could not tell it had no sugar. We had it at breakfast, some for snack and again after dinner.

Today I discovered the Magic in all these methods of health discovery, and oh, what a blessed discovery it was.  My mouth was smiling, my scale and digestion are not complaining, and my sweet tooth is once again under my reign.

(Recipe to follow tomorrow.)

Foretaste Friday.

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This week my husband asked me, “Do you ever worry?” He explained he never saw me panic much anymore, that I seem to have it together even when things get scary or unsure.  My answer was, of course I worry.  The difference now is my eating, exercise and personal care regimes are more balanced than they have been in all of my adult life. So when we have to catch, bypass or demolish curve-balls, I can take a breath and figure out a plan.  When there just isn’t time for a plan, I can still breathe.  I can help my husband and children breathe, because I have the energy and clear head to do so.

“You can either worry or worship.  You can either pray or panic…….It’s not just what you eat that matters, it’s what eats you.”  – Rick Warren

I would love to tell you my choice is to always worship and pray over worry and panic, but I don’t think I would be human — much less a wife or mom — if I did.  It’s just life.  The point is, we have tools to equip us for a great life, and to pick up the pieces and build again when it’s not that great.  Physical, spiritual and emotional health are three things I can control with every decision I make for my body and mind each day.  I am worth it.  My family is worth it.  My soul is worth it.

I choose to trust God will make beautiful things out of dust, because my entire life He has proven it.  I choose to trust God will provide business to my husband, so our finances will continue to prosper.  I choose to trust our kids will be safe in His hands, because we can only control so much of their world.  I choose to trust the path I am on for my health will provide nothing but good things for myself and my family.  The Foretaste of a future where God holds us beyond what we can hold ourselves is too good to pass up.

Target Tuesday.

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Pictured above:  Creamed Spinach-Stuffed Chicken (breaded with crushed pork rinds).

Sunday my husband and I decided to embark on the Ketogenic plan, which I have researched at length over the past year because of the number of people I know who have done it and because I had a love/hate relationship with the Atkins Diet in my early adult years, to no avail.  He wants a jump-start in his weight loss, and I am interested to see how much more definition I can achieve in pairing it with my strength training.

It has been rough but educational over the past three days, and today the pounds started dropping off like flies.  Ketosis is well under way, and areas I am wanting to Target are looking pretty fabulous.  I preach and practice balance, so the hardest part of this eating regime was wrapping my head around how that sermon fits here.  The consensus: even a seemingly out of balance eating regime can actually be the balance your body needs to achieve your health goals.  We don’t need excessive protein or carbs, but a decent amount of the right fats can improve brain function, digestive and blood health — which is the opposite of what the media has told us for decades.  Better yet, keto-focused meals can be tailored to please the pickiest kids!  Not many monsters will pass up cheese and meat, especially of the bacon variety.

Added bonus:  What has saved my digestion, and something I failed in miserably with Atkins, is the heavy incorporation of green vegetables…..loads of spinach, zucchini, broccoli and asparagus.  I have overcome my sweet tooth with a few berries in the morning, so I don’t ravage the fruit drawer in the middle of the night.  Sweet cravings — solved.  Extra-toned Target areas — solved.  Helping my amazing sweetheart stay on his path by eating all the same stuff — solved.

Don’t be afraid of changing up your workout or eating habits, journaling results and developing a path that may veer in a much different direction than you thought you would go.  Your body will let you know loud and clear what works and what doesn’t.  Always educate yourself.  Never stop learning about your body.  Paint your own target and make your plan to hit that sucker right dead in the center.

Weigh-In Wednesday.

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I would love to tell you I am one of those people who finishes everything I start, that I accomplish every goal I set for myself, that I can do anything to which I set my pretty little mind.  It would all be one big, fat lie.  I am determined.  I am accomplished.  I can do lots of cool stuff, but I have to kick my own butt and fall on my face – a lot – for those things to be true.  I completed 34 out of 60 days of the Jillian Michaels 5K training program.  I stuck with it, but my knees had other ideas.  And because I would like to preserve them as long as I can, I had to change my goals for my workouts.  Today I started another regime that will treat my joints with more respect, and I will physically feel better along with looking better at the end of it.  The trade-off will be worth it, and I will not have to get new knees in a year to prove to myself that I am stubborn.

Be realistic.  Be hard on yourself, but only when it makes you better.  Be good to your body.  It’s the only one you will ever have.

Tyrone Tuesday.

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Tyrone is our new rabbit.  This is what he eats.  It isn’t a pile of lettuce and carrots, a.k.a “rabbit food.”  He needs mostly hay, his main fiber source.  The pellets give him a small amount of protein but still mostly fiber, and everything else is just a treat.  He likes variety, just like we do.  His belly likes balance, just like mine does.  He needs daily exercise and affection, and he also desperately needs alone time.  He likes to know his habitat belongs to him and that he is safe there, but he also likes to explore where we live.  If any of this sounds familiar, that’s kind of the point of my blog.  Balance is your friend — in all aspects of your life.  It is even a biblical principle, if you want to get spiritually technical.  Above all else, it is important, because it is how our bodies, minds and spirits were designed.  Study your body’s reactions to your habits and make changes to be the best you you can be.  You deserve it.

Bonus Blog: Tzatziki.

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Do you ever make something so ridiculously simple and amazing you have to share with everyone?  Tzatziki Sauce was such something for me today.  It took seriously five minutes to make, topped some salmon for lunch, and just YUM.   If you don’t believe how simple it is to make, see here…

1 to 1.5 Cups fresh cucumber, finely chopped, depending on how much you prefer

1 Cup Greek plain Greek yogurt

1 Tsp lemon zest

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp dried dill (or 1 Tbsp fresh)

2 cloves minced garlic

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix and enjoy!!

Family Friday.

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I made some Brownie Bites (using amazing ingredients like coconut sugar, applesauce, maple syrup and oat flour) from one of my favorite cookbooks, The 22-Day Revolution Cookbook.  Tonight all of our kids come home for the weekend, amidst summer vacation time with their other parents.  While I would love to make a fat, cheesy beef lasagna for dinner, sugar-filled goodies and get them donuts Sunday morning when we have to be at church super early I instead decided their health is worth my time and effort in the kitchen.  I am still feeling worn out most days from the Jillian Michaels 5K training program I have been doing for almost a month, and frankly when the kids aren’t here all I want to do is sleep and/or cry.  Dinner tonight will be my famous brown rice stir fry.  Tomorrow we will bring sandwiches and snacks to the water park followed by a clean dinner, and we will make healthy pancakes tomorrow night for Sunday morning.  Getting back into the cooking habit post adults-only vacation time with my husband will be good for my motivation, too.  We managed a fairly good eating regime while driving around Louisiana and Mississippi, and we exercised the whole time, but getting back into our health routines at home has been rough.  Let’s make this Family Friday a good one, because we are all worth it.

Mellow Monday.

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These ornamental peppers from my garden have become my new favorite snack.  The plant is heavy with multi-colored peppers right now, and I love picking the ripest red.  They are super sweet and crunchy, and they just make me smile.  It doesn’t take much these days.

God is working out so many kinks in our lives right now.  Crooked, cluttered paths made straight.  Heavy, dark clouds cleared.  All in the knowledge that His intricate plan involves so many details we don’t have to understand.  We just have to trust.  It seems that just when we cry out, “God, please take this,” He picks it up, cleans it off and makes it into something beautiful and beneficial to our family.

The peppers are green at first, then yellow, then bright orange, then super sweet, red and ready to be enjoyed.  Before they turn red, it is so tempting to pick them just to see what they look like inside, to see what they taste like.  But if you wait just a little while longer for the ripened red, that is when the full, sweet scent fills your nostrils, the flavorful experience bursts in your mouth, and you can feel every blessing of worth in the waiting.

This Mellow Monday is about enjoying the simple details.  God is always good, in chaos and in the calm.  We all are blessed, because we are all loved.  The blessing in the details is simple to enjoy but not always simple to find.  Sometimes you have to sit down, breathe and look around you to find it.  Sometimes you just have to wait for it to ripen.

Straightforward Saturday.

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Gnats and flies are my mortal kitchen enemies.  I found a recipe to combat them this morning — homemade candle using rosemary sprigs from my garden, slices of lemon and lime, 5 drops of peppermint oil, 5 drops of lavender oil, and a tea light with the metal casing removed.

I feel like an old woman the morning after I run.  It won’t stop me, though.  Last night’s run was the most difficult of my Jillian Michael’s 5K Program, but the most exhilarating because I wanted to keep going.  Plus, my firstborn has been running with me the past couple of weeks, and the example I am setting for him has been the most amazing motivation.

I am stressed out, sad and angry that two of our monsters are leaving for a month.  I want to eat everything in sight, drink myself to sleep at night and just forget the world until they get back.  Although self-medicating seems like a quick-fix, it will only cause major setbacks for me that I am not remotely interested in.  I have come too far, worked too hard and seen too much progress to allow my emotions to rule my path.

Stress can be your friend or your enemy.  Friends propel you with motivation to be the best version of you.  Enemies can drag you into a pit of self-pity and make you wallow in it, because, well, that’s easier than change.  Let your life stress motivate you to change.  The only path to a healthier you is straight forward.