July 22, 2014

An Open Apology

Dear Bloggers and Blog Readers,

I am sorry for the way I've blogged over the past year or so.

When I first started writing this blog it was mainly for my wedding party.  I was a newly engaged twenty something and I wanted a place to put all of my wedding ideas.  My goal was to have all of my bridesmaids read the blog and be on the same page when it came to wedding preparations.  I quickly found out that I really enjoyed blogging and other people were actually reading.  It made me excited and made me want to keep going.

As my followers grew so did my head.  I wanted more, more, more.  Let's be honest, reading comments from readers gives you a sort of high.  It lets you know that people support you, people like you and that feels good.  You're lying if you say that's not true.  While I'm not saying that was the sole purpose of my writing it always helped to know that the comments would come flowing in with each new blog post.

I branched out into the sponsorship and advertising world. The first month I accepted sponsors I got 10 paid spots immediately {they like me, they really like me!} and I saw the potential to make some money on this "hobby".  I joined Blogher and started accepting product reviews and got paid to promote products which opened up a whole new world of making money.  Throw in social media touts which were super easy and paid pretty decent.  They were annoying, they clogged up people's feed but they were an easy way to make $50 so I did them.

Did I like writing those posts?  Not really.  I always put them off till the absolute last minute.  Was I good at them?  Not at all.  Some people have a way with words where they can sort of conceal a sponsored post and make it readable. I am not one of them.  Mine always read "sponsored, sponsored, sponsored".  Annoying, annoying, annoying.

I would get comments here and there, "oh, surprise, another sponsored post..." and I would scoff and say something like, "if you don't like it, don't read it" in my head.  I still think that people should just click that little red X in the corner of their screen if they don't like something they are reading BUT I get it.  I got lost in why I started this blog in the first place.

I started seeing it as an opportunity to make money rather than keeping my heart and soul in it.  I liked getting the extra little bit of money each month and at one point I made over $1,000.00 in one month and thought I was the bees knees.  At that point I didn't really care that I was putting unworthy content out there. I didn't care that I was clogging up people's news feed.  I saw that money go up and up each month and it made me feel good.  Call me delusional but to me, at that time, I thought I had "made it" in the blog world.

What can I say, money is the biggest motivator especially when you don't have much of it.

I have the Timehop app on my phone, as many of you do, and one year ago, two years ago I was sponsoring, touting, clogging up feeds left and right.  It's annoying for ME to see in my Timehop app so I can only imagine how annoying it had to be for YOU to see at the time.  Hard to believe that it took seeing my "one year ago..." history to realize how annoying I had become.

I am sorry.

I got caught up in the business part of my blog and started to lose focus of why I really wanted to be a blogger in the first place.  My intentions got lost and I saw green.  I kind of turned into a blog slut.  That's now how I want this blog to be.  I want this to be a place where I share my life, my thoughts, my likes, my dislikes, like it used to be.  Back to basics blogging.  Not to say that there will never be a sponsored post or product review ever again BUT I am going to be MUCH more selective about what I chose to share and get paid for.

For those of you who stuck it out through the horribly written blatantly obvious sponsored posts.  For those of you who didn't "hide" me on your news feed.  For those of you who are still reading after all that garbage.  THANK YOU.  I wasn't a good blogger to you but you stuck it out and are still supporting me.

I know I'm not the only blogger who has gotten off track and let the money making part take priority over the real content.  I know there are other bloggers out there who think that that is the way to "make it" in the blog world too.  That's why I'm OK with sharing my faults and failures.  For some people they can have a healthy balance of both and hats off to those who can. I am not one of them.

So back to basics blogging for this girl.  Back to sharing my life and what I like.  A little bit of recipes, a little momming, a little fashion, a little fitness, maybe some celebrity gossip here and there.  I hope you're OK with that.

Sincerely,

A Formerly Money Hungry Blogger Who Lost Sight Of Her Real Passion But Promises To Get Back There,  Mrs. Dew.





July 21, 2014

Right Now I'm...

Listening to:  Sam Hunt.  I think he's classified as "country" but I don't know.  I mean sure there's that banjo-y part to his music but its kinda like hip-hop-ish too.  I don't know how to describe him but me loves him.  I can only find like 5 songs on Spotify so I play them on repeat.  I need to see if he's on tour because I need to see him live.

Reading:  I just finished My Husbands Secret per everyone in the worlds recommendation.  I have to say, you let me down internets.  Although I'm fairly certain I am the only person who wasn't mesmerized by this book.  I just hated how the chapters skipped around between different character sets, it was like I had to relearn everyone's story with every new chapter.  I also thought there was a lot that was fluff and could have been left out.  And, without ruining anything, I wasn't that surprised by any of it.  Next recommendation?

Watching:  Candidly Nicole.  I love me some Nicole Richie.  Now back in the Simple Life days she was a bit annoying and I kinda cringed through every episode.  But now I think she's just hilarious and I'm happy to have a new guilty pleasure in my life.  I'm not digging the blue/purple hair though.  Thank you Instagram "discover" button for letting me know to check out VH1 because I couldn't tell you the last time I tuned into that channel.  And then I saw the previews for Leann & Eddie...should I be watching that too?

Planning:  Kendall and James's 4th and 1st birthday party.  For those that don't know, their birthdays are only two days apart so combined parties 4-eva.  I admit it was one of the first things I thought about when we found out I was pregnant with James, we tried to avoid another August birthday.  But now that I'm doing it I'm kinda loving that I'll only have to do this once a year.  One and done.  Luckily Kendall picked the theme this year, Paw Patrol, and it is gender neutral so it works.  I'm sure future years will not be so easy.

Shopping for:  Dare I say I'm looking at fall clothes already?  I know, I KNOW.  It's ridiculous, it really is.  Summer is my favorite.  I love all things about it but mostly the clothes.  Summer clothes are cuter and cheaper and well summer rules. But, hear me out, last fall/winter I was fat.  I didn't get to wear the boots tucked into skinny jeans.  I was afraid to try the combat boot trend- something about being 50ish lbs lighter gives me confidence to wear things I wouldn't otherwise.  So this year I'm excited to be in a different place so I'm buying a few new pieces to celebrate.

Realizing:  I am so lucky to have the friends that I do. This weekend we spent a lot of time with our friends and both Friday and Saturday I was reminded how thankful I am to be surrounded by these people.  My "neighbor" has such a good heart, she loves her kids with every fiber of her being, she is a kick ass wife to her husband and always makes me aspire to be a little more giving of myself.  My other friend and I have been friends since we were five-years-old.  We've seen each other at our best times and our worst and no matter what we love each other.  She is the closest thing that I will ever have to a sister and I love her.  How many people can say that they are still BFFs with the same person as when they were five?

Writing:  I'm trying to get back into blogging on the regular.  I miss writing daily but that's not going to happen anytime soon, sadly.  I am trying to make it more of a priority, for me, because it makes me happy and I hope it makes you happy too.  This week I've got a post about how a $5 bouquet of flowers is making me the happiest girl on the block and also a monster cookie recipe.  Yay for blogging!

Wishing that:  The weekends never had to end.  Jimmy has been so busy with work that I have really started to cherish our weekend time together, so much.  Everything is so much easier with another parent to tackle two kids.  Family outings are more fun when he can be a part of it.  And staying up a little later talking about the future is even more sweet on the weekends.  I hate to see them end, every week.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.  Here's to making Monday a little less Monday-ish.


July 11, 2014

My Tools For Weight Loss

I've wanted to write this post for a while but, well, there's that thing called time and I can never get enough of it.  I often get asked a lot of questions regarding my weight loss journey.  What do I eat?  How often do I workout?  How do I find the time?  Do I meal plan?  And much more.  I try to answer everyone but in case I missed anyone I wanted to make a little cheat sheet of my favorite tools I used while losing weight.  This isn't anything that you probably haven't heard before and for some of you I'm sure I'm going to sound like a broken record but I love letting people in on what worked for me in hopes of helping them in their journey.


This is what worked for me. This is what I used to shed my baby weight once I had reached a standstill after about 5-6 months of no weight loss.  I know that everyone will not agree with everything I have to say, and that's OK!  I get a lot of questions about what I do/what I did to lose 70ish pounds and this is what I did/used.

Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor.  For, well, ever I have seen girls using these to track their heart rate/calories burned during their workouts.  I always thought they looked awesome and dreamed about how much that would help my weight loss journey but I never bit the bullet and bought one.  For Valentine's day, this year, Jimmy got me one {per my request, ahem} and I only wish I had had one sooner.  Until I had this I had been logging my exercise into MyFitnessPal and it was just an estimate.  It had obviously worked for me, in the past, and continues to work for a lot of people but I wanted a more accurate reading.  I also think that the Polar forced me to push myself a bit harder during my workouts.  I would see that calories burned screen and I'd think, "Oh come on {self}!!  You can do better than that!!!"  and so I work harder and burn more calories.  I've heard a lot of people say the same thing is true for them.  Now that I'm more into maintaining, toning, firming up, I don't wear it too much because I don't necessarily care about how many calories I burn.

MyFitnessPal.  After I had Kendall I was trying to lose weight and it was right after The New Year.  The Today Show was talking about the best apps of the year and MFP was one of them.  I had never counted calories a day in my life but this made it look simple and painless.  I downloaded it and never looked back!  It's so user friendly.  I rarely found something that was NOT in their database and it was usually something that was from a local restaurant.  Lots of Pinterest recipes are even in there!  MFP gives you back the calories that you burn during exercise as extra to eat so it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. I kept my calorie goal around 1200-1350 when I was in losing mode but it will vary for each individual.

T25.  I cannot and will not say enough good things about this program.  It is the first at-home program that I've ever been able to stick with.  I've tried Jillian's 30 Day Shred, 6 Week 6 Pack, Bethenny's Skinnygirl Yoga, Core Secrets, Biggest Loser Yoga, and the list goes on.  I've never stuck with any of them.  I think the reason I was able to stick with T25 is because it comes with a calendar which shows you what you have to do each day.  So each day I'd see that and think, "Well I have to do Total Body Circuit today" like there was no way around it.  I also think the biggest selling point is that every day you do a different workout.  Your brain never gets bored because you don't do the same workout every day and your body never gets used to doing the same thing every day.  Starting T25 is what jump-started my fitness and really got my body to change.  I will forever stand behind this program.

Shakeology.  I have to admit, when I first started coaching and saw the price tag that came with Shakeology I was completely turned off.  It's true.  But at the end of each workout there is a "commercial" promoting it and every time I was like in a trance, "must try Shakeology" and the same is true of Jimmy. So we tried it and we were in love from day one.  My husband normally eats like he's never going to eat again on a typical work day.  The amount of food I pack for his lunch is out of control.  His first day drinking Shakeology he text me at noon and said he hadn't been hungry at his 9 o'clock break and was just eating for the first time since 6:15 when he had his Shakeolgoy.  That was HUGE for him.  For me I love that it curbed my sweet tooth.  I am the girl who has never uttered the words, "that's too rich" and would take a cupcake over a bag of chips any day.  Shakeolgoy kicks those cravings to the curb.  It also gives you energy, but in a good, non-shaky, no crashing kind of way.  Most people spend $4+ on Starbucks or lunch a day and if you break it down that's how much Shakeology costs per serving.  Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't get my recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies in on a typical day but with Shakeology I do.  It's now clinically proven to help with weight loss so I feel 100% confident recommending it.

There are a few other dining out apps that I like to use but recently all of them have been crashing when I go to use them so I am hesitant to recommend one.  But I found them extremely helpful when we would go out to dinner, especially to a place where a salad seems like a good option but in reality you'd be better off ordering a burger.  Not that that happened to me.

And for my workout gear...I have to share because I get asked about my favorite places to get that stuff too.  I am cheap when it comes to clothes I'm just going to sweat in so I can't fathom paying the prices that I've seen at some stores {I'm looking at you Lululemon}.  I really like Old Navy's workout gear.  I have sports bras, compression capris, yoga pants, tanks, you name it and they are all really comfy and hold up well after washing a billion times.  I also got a few really cute, motivational tanks from Strong, Confident, YOU on Etsy.  I also swear by Brady Bands headbands.  I have one for every day of the year and there's a reason, THEY DON'T MOVE.  Like not even an inch.  I have done handstands, wore them to the beach, slept in them and they have stayed in place.  So go get yourself like 10.

OK, I think that covers all the bases.  What other questions do you have?  I'm here to help and I want to get everyone on track with their health and fitness goals so let me know what you want to know!

GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!

July 10, 2014

Clean & Easy Homemade Granola

I'm always looking for new, easy, quick things to eat for breakfast.  If your house is anything like mine, breakfast=chaos.  Kids wake up, James takes a bottle and usually about halfway through Kendall decides she needs.food.now.  By the time I get her fed it leaves little time for me to get myself something hot so I usually settle on a Luna bar and call it a day.  

Boring.

I came across this meal plan a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for clean eating recipes.  I loved that it was broken down into breakfast, lunch and dinner with the recipes provided.  I saw the granola recipe and I knew it was the answer to my breakfast problems.  I could make a huge batch, keep it in the freezer and add it to yogurt, berries, smoothies, etc as I needed or when I wanted something more exciting than a Luna bar.  




Ingredients
  • 6 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, if you don't like/want it, add another cup of oats
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
Instructions
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a big cookie sheet with parchment and grease lightly.
In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut (if using), flour, salt, and cinnamon. In a small bowl whisk together the water, oil, honey, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Mix everything together making sure there are no dry spots.
Spread granola onto the prepared cookie sheet. The pan will be nice and full. Bake for about an hour and half total, stirring every 20 minutes to make sure everything bakes evenly. When you are stirring, don't get too crazy because you don't want to break up all of the clumps.
Bake until everything is a nice golden color. The granola will still be slightly sticky when you take it out and will crisp up after it cools.
Store in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge if you aren't going through it very quickly.
Note
Honey burns pretty easily. If your granola is looking dark or smelling like it's burning, turn the oven down 25 degrees and take it out the pan while the oven cools.
My favorite way {and Kendall's} is to put it in a bowl with a splash of almond milk, strawberries and blueberries!  It's kind of like cereal but not.  It's also good just by the handful every time I open the fridge.

Enjoy!
GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!

July 9, 2014

SO WHAT! Wednesday

Life After I DewThis week I'm saying SO WHAT if...

I get a little emotional when I see all the SWW posts still popping up in my reader each week.

It's been, what, three months since my last SWW post and, honestly, I'm not sure where SWW is headed.  I think I kind of like the idea of doing it whenever I want, no pressure.  Isn't that what blogging is all about anyway?  So I might pop in here and there and throw a SWW post together but I'm not sure it'll ever be a weekly thing, for me, again.

But yet you girls {and maybe guys?} are still so-whating every week without me. I love it and it makes me smile each time I see my little button pop up when I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed.  You are committed even when I'm not.  You still show the love for this link up and whenever I read a post {yes I still read them}I can't help but feel a little bit of pride.

I feel dorky even admitting this but I always wondered what would happen if I stopped this link up.  Would the world end?  Would someone takeover? Would someone else come up with a So What Tuesday and "steal" my idea and readers?  Well I'm happy to report that none of that has happened and whew, what a relief.

So thank you for carrying on the spirit of So What Wednesday even when I've been a crappy link up host!  That's what this blogging is all about, supporting each other and connecting with others out there in this big world wide web.  You keep this link up alive even when I can't and that means the world to me.  Thank you, again, you're the best!








GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!

July 8, 2014

T25 Gamma Results {and then I'll never talk about T25 again}

I'm sure many of you are sick of hearing about T25.  I get it, it's pretty much all I've blogged about over the past few months.  I'm sorry I'm not sorry because, YOU GUYS!  This program is legit.  This is the first and only program I've seen all the way through, all 18 weeks of it {from alpha to gamma}.  I've actually looked forward to doing it, most days, even.  There was even a period of time where I was doing it seven days a week because I just hated taking that one day off!

Where did we leave off with this program?
Oh yeah, right there.  I was feeling pretty good.  Significant changes had been made during beta and I was actually pretty comfortable in a bathing suit.  Of course I still had work to do {and still do} but overall I was impressed with beta round.

Gamma is another 4-8 weeks.  The first four weeks is pure gamma, meaning you just do the gamma workouts.  One thing I loved about that phase was there were no more two-a-day Fridays!  Woo!  But then you switch over to the gamma hybrid for the second four weeks and not only are two-a-day Fridays back but also you incorporate some of the workouts from alpha, beta, and gamma in that round.  I think that was my favorite phase because it was such a good mix of strength, cardio, core and total body.

And for the grand finale...
Don't ask me about the face...I don't know.  I'm on a self timer and sometimes I take 10 million pictures and they all look awful so I just go with the least awful.  

So, a few noteworthy points.  I am pretty much the same weight in my beta and gamma pics.  Crazy to me because I feel so much leaner {not lean though}.  I feel like I have a lot more muscle too.  I am starting to notice muscles in places I've never felt them before and that is cool!  I don't know if it's just me but I can even see some muscle in the front facing pic, in my upper thighs!  I'm also seeing a lot of changes in my shoulders, which I didn't even realize till I looked at pictures.  My arms have always been a problem area for me and I actually feel my biceps now!  I love it!  My stomach is still my problem area, easily.  I blame two pregnancies and two c-sections.  But it's getting better, slowly but surely.  It's funny how from the front I am totally cool with the way I look but turn me sideways and I get a little self conscious again...

And now, from start to finish...

Crazy to me that this all happened in FOUR months.  FOUR!  I'm proud of myself for sticking with it.  I'm glad that I made it a priority every day.  I never thought I'd be where I am right now but so happy that I am.  I'm glad I started when I did because I feel pretty confident in a bikini, most days.  

I just want to say one thing.  The purpose of me posting these updates every few weeks isn't to toot my own horn.  It's not to sell another T25 program.  It's not to make other people feel badly about themselves.  By posting these pictures I hope to inspire someone to make a change in her life.  To prove that moms can bounce back after a baby.  To give hope to that 9 month pregnant lady out there who thinks she'll never get her pre-baby body back.  I want moms to realize that we can make ourselves a priority for 25 minutes a day and so something FOR ourselves to better ourselves.  It can be done and I hope you realize that too.  I hope you reach your goals you set for yourself.  If you haven't started your journey and keep saying, "tomorrow", I hope this is your sign to start TODAY.  

As always, if you have questions please let me know!

GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!

July 7, 2014

When I Stopped "Keeping Track"

Lately I've been in a place of contentment with life.  I'm happy with my family, my friends, my home, my body, my marriage.  Everything just seems and feels really good and comfortable right now.  Some people might say that that is no way to live and that you should always be looking to better yourself, your life, but I quite like this stage I'm in .

Oh wait...I already wrote a blog post on this.

That's not what this post is about though, I promise.

There was a time where I was obsessed with numbers.  The number on the scale, the number of blog readers I had, the number of calories I ate, the number of hits my blog got a certain day, etc.  It mostly related to this blog and my weight loss journey but I was constantly looking at the numbers.

Every morning I'd hop on the scale.  It didn't mean too much to me, what it said, but I had to see that number every day.  I loved seeing that number go down, obviously, but even if it didn't I still liked to see where I was at.  It almost set the tone for the day.  Weird, I know.

Then there were the calories.  My Fitness Pal has been my best friend for the last 7-10 months.  At first it was an on/off relationship but once I kicked my weight loss into high gear it was my best friend.  I would log every.single.thing. I ate, every workout I burned and I tried to get that number as close to my goal as possible.  Even when I was under, after my workouts, but was over in terms of intake, it drove me nuts.

I know, I sound like a girl with an eating disorder now.  I swear I'm not.  Hear me out.

This blog was once my baby.  There were times I couldn't fathom going as long between blog posts as I do now.  My former blogger self would cringe at the thought of not writing for weeks at a time.  I started out just like any other blogger, with zero followers, so of course when you see 1, 20, 100, 500, 1000, etc it gets you excited.  Any blogger is lying if they tell you that they "don't care about the amount of followers" because at some point we all do.  It's what keeps us going sometimes.

And, like most bloggers these days, I made a little bit of money doing this "job".  From sponsored posts, to ad spots, to FB shout outs, to product reviews, it all generated income in some way or another.  I could see when I was posting more my "income" was up.  I'm not going to lie or say I didn't care because it was awesome.  Each month I hoped to make more than the month before, it was almost like a game.

Those days were exhausting.

I have officially stopped counting my calories and the last time I hopped on the scale I was 3lbs from my goal weight.  I stopped letting those numbers mean something to me and just started being happy with where I am now.  No I am not at the end of my journey, I don't know when I will be, but right now I am making progress every day and that's what it's about.  I have learned enough over the past several months to know what's good and what's bad when it comes to food and weight loss.  There are still areas that need major improvement but also I have come a long way and I'm proud of my body.  That scale cannot take that away from me.

As for this blog...instead of writing because I "have to" I'm writing because I want to.  I'm truly not worried about whether what I write is going to bring in new readers or if it's Pinterest worthy.  I'm not checking my stats to see if my hits have gone up this month or if I'm making more money than I did last month.  I'm really getting back to "old school blogging" as I like to call it.  Back to basics, when it all was just sharing thoughts with the world without the pressure of the numbers.  That's not what it's about for me anymore.  Sure, the extra money that this blog generated was nice while it lasted but it also came with an added pressure that I just can't put on myself anymore.

I know a lot of you are like, "Whew!  Good!  We hate sponsored posts!".  That's not to say that I won't do one ever again or that I'm not interested in partnering with other businesses and companies but I am being more selective because my time is more valuable than a $50 post on lawnmowers {or something}.

When I stopped keeping track and quit worrying about the numbers I felt free.

GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!