10.19.2017

HOW I LOST 20+ POUNDS AND DROPPED A PANTS SIZE

Growing up, I was always skinny.  I never dieted and pretty much ate whatever I wanted.  I hated the gym and "exercise", but was involved in sports and dance because I enjoyed that I was with my friends outside of school hours.  However, everything changed once I graduated high school.  We moved back to the USA (enjoyed a lot of Little Ceasar's and Krispy Kreme) and I immediately put on about 20 pounds.  I wasn't on any sports teams and wasn't taking dance classes, so my workouts came to a complete stop.  After getting married at 22, I found myself eating more often and bigger portions because I was eating when and what my husband was eating.  On top of that, my 20s were really difficult years for me, full of anxiety and depression and I ended up doing a lot of emotional eating.  Before I knew it, my 20s were gone, I had put on another 30 pounds, I was constantly exhausted and really didn't feel like myself anymore. 

Fall 2016 vs. Fall 2017
Photos by Emily Lynn Christopher at Just Because Blog

It was about a year and a half ago now that I began to work out and eat better and I can't believe how incredibly different I feel.  It wasn't that I just wanted to be skinny...I felt like I lost myself somehow and just wanted to feel like "Emily" again.  I wanted to feel my best and began making changes towards that goal.  It's been a gradual process and I didn't do all this cold turkey.  But, since May 4th, 2016, here are the 10 changes I've slowly adopted:

1.  Stop the caffeine.  Although I may not drink soda but a few times a year, I did tend to have coffee a couple times a week.  Unfortunately, it brings on the jitters and leads to anxiety filled days, so it was good to get the caffeine out of my system.

2.  Kick the sugar.  I LOVE sugar and wish I could live on Cinnamon Sugar Pop-Tarts.  But, the affect is basically the same as caffeine...speeds up my heart and leaves me feeling all flustered.  Since sugar is clearly a problem for me, I've cut way back.

3.  Quit the alcohol.  I like beer, I love wine and I adore all the sugary girly drinks.  But, just like caffeine and sugar, it leaves me not feeling so great.  It's so crazy that all the things that I consider "my treats", leave me feeling the worst!  I thought it would be hard to give up, but I've only had wine once since May this year and I don't miss it.

4.  Exercise daily.  Daily exercise helps me feel better emotionally and sleep better at night...and those are huge.  Plus, it's helped me feel stronger and have more energy.  However, one big thing for me is I've had to learn to work out alone instead of relying on others to be my constant work out buddies.  But the biggest thing is I've had to make the decision that I will work out every single day whether I want to or not.  

5.  Take supplements.  I've been taking Young Living's Ningxia Red and Master Formula daily and can tell a huge difference in my digestion, energy, hair and skin when I take them!  I try to eat well, but it makes me feel better knowing that I'm covering all my necessary antioxidants and vitamins each day.

At 21-years-old, I was around 120-130 pounds and really felt great!

6.  Sleep.  Cutting out caffeine, sugar and alcohol really makes a difference in my sleep.  Going to bed and waking up each day at the same time helps too.  Count in a hard workout that day and my diffuser going with Peace&Calming blend that night and I sleep like a rock.

7.  Cut out toxins.  Did you know how dangerous the toxins in your toiletries, makeup, food, drinks and cleaning supplies can be?  Even candles, air-fresheners and things like that are harmful.  Now that I've detoxed from these types of chemicals, just being around them for a short time will give me headaches and is further proof that they should be avoided at all costs.  Your entire body, inside and outside, can be negatively affected by toxins.  Plus, I've learned that a lot of fat is full of stored toxins.  Sounds dangerous to me.  So, getting rid of anything toxic and replacing it with a healthy alternative has been high on my list.

8.  Eat well.  I hate diets.  I see people deprive themselves, lose weight, go off the diet, gorge on all the food they missed and then gain back all the weight they lost.  Diets are not sustainable.  What I had to learn, though, was how the food I ate really effected how I felt.  There are things I love to eat, but now don't because I realized how bad they made me feel.  I have learned to choose foods that help me feel good, which happen to be whole, plant-based vegan foods.  And I've also learned to eat when I'm hungry and don't eat when I'm not hungry.  It's not a difficult concept...who knew it would take me 32 years to get it?!  Oh yea, and drink more water, right momma?  Haha.

9.  Minimize stress.  Stress really affects me in every way.  I'm easily anxious and depressed, but since I know that about myself, I can try to make good choices.  One thing is not allowing myself to get too busy.  I have to have some space and alone time each day and so I am careful to plan my calendar accordingly and don't schedule things back to back.

10.  Wrap up looming projects.  Talking about stress, one big thing that I want to do is finish our home.  As you know, if you follow this blog, we are living in a fixer upper and have been for the past two and a half years.  Weekly, if not daily, we have sub-contractors over here working on projects.  Along with the workers, comes the dirt and dust and mess.  With all the nails and staples and plaster chips and who knows what else laying around, I know that living in this environment has really added to my stress.  I'm so happy that we are on the home stretch now and hope we don't take on another project this large again (not going to say "never" because then it's bound to happen).

10 years later, 31-years-old and 169 pounds...my heaviest.
I felt constantly exhausted and uncomfortable in my own skin
The past year and a half has been all about getting rid of the things that made me feel worse and adding in the things that help me feel better.  It's not just about diet and exercise, but even my schedule, relationships, work, free time, hobbies and other small things that felt like big things because of how they affected me so heavily.  I've come a long way and feel like a different person...a lot like the old "Emily".  Sure, I miss some foods and would sometimes love to slack off and just wing it, but I don't want to go back to where I was a year and a half ago.  I want to continue moving forward towards better health and feeling my best!


10.16.2017

4 BURN VICTIMS AND THEIR SURVIVAL STORIES

As the holidays approach, I'm reminded once again of my mom's accident, how God saved her and how she has impacted so many lives through her non-profit, Burn Care International.  For over a decade, she has traveled all over the world and worked to improve the lives of burn victims through effective rehabilitation, helping over 10,000 victims!  This time of year marks a season of giving and I hope that you will take a moment to read these stories below and consider giving a tax-deductible donation to Burn Care International before the end of 2017.

A little patient name Emily, with her
pressure garment on.

Harold Torrez Araoz -   "The gas explosion happened when I was at work.  At first, I didn't feel any pain, but I felt so hot.  I pulled off my clothes and noticed that the burned skin had turned white.  My brother ran in to see what happened and ended up not really helping me because he went into shock.  I told him to call our parents and tell them what happened.  The Ambulance came to pick me up and took me to a hospital in Vinto, since I was working 15 kilometers outside of town.  They didn't know what to do with me there, so I was taken to another hospital.  I got there and waited and waited and no one attended me, so I finally went to a 3rd hospital, where I was finally seen.  The accident happened at 2:15 on a Wednesday afternoon and I didn't get taken care of at the hospital until 6pm that night.  (Click the link to read more of Harold's story.)

Maciel Fernandez Peredo - "I was burned three years ago, when I was 15 years old.  I was out of town with my family, celebrating Carnival.  We had a fire going and my mom took a bottle of alcohol and poured it onto the fire.  Instantly, the flames leapt towards me!  My arms were on fire and my mom ran at me to help me.  However, she ended up pouring more alcohol on me by accident and then my chest and face caught fire.  My father grabbed the alcohol bottle and threw it and then he pushed my mother away from me.  (Click the link to read more of Maciel's story.)

Alejandra Cruz Romero - Alejandra's story, told by her mother: "Six years ago, when Alejandra was three years old, she fell backwards into boiling water.  I took her immediately to Univalle Hospital and she stayed there for one week.  They didn't know how to care for her burns properly and she got worse and worse as time went on.  She developed an infection and her body kept swelling more and more.  By the time I took her out of that hospital her 2nd Degree burns had turned into 3rd Degree and her skin was coming off all over her back as if there was nothing holding it there.  (Click the link to read more of Alejandra's story.)

Javier

Javier Abel Espinoza - "Two years ago, when I was 32, I was burned in an electrical explosion.  My wife was 2 months pregnant and I took up a second job to make some extra money for us.  It was only the second night on the new job that I had the accident.  When the accident happened, I was sitting down on the floor, facing the piece of machinery.  The electrical currents were too strong and caused the explosion.  I guess from the surprise, I sucked in a breath, which caused me to also suck in the fire.  I passed out and came in and out of unconsciousness while I waited on the ambulance to take me to the hospital.  (Click the link to read more of Javier's story.)

As you can see, burns aren't just for a certain age, gender, race, etc.  Victims are men and women, young and old and all over the world.  Some are burned much worse than others, but every accident is terrible and traumatic.  Many victims are scarred for life in every way, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too.  It's so important for them to receive good care so that they can properly heal and get back to their life.

   By supporting BCI, you will be providing material, thread, zippers and foam for the Pressure Garments and Suits, silicon for the difficult scars, essential oils and creams for itching skin, salaries for Juana and Maria (the workers) and basic supplies for the Burn Clinic.  

     Please CLICK HERE to visit BCI's website to learn more about our important ministry.

-You can DONATE ONLINE by scrolling to the bottom of the website, click the "DONATE" button.  
-Or you can MAIL A CHECK to:
Burn Care International
419 Woodland Drive
Florence, SC 29501

  All donations are tax-deductible and will change a burn victim's life!


10.11.2017

33 REASONS WHY I LOVE NICK STEWART

Today is Nick's 33rd birthday!  I've already taken him out to breakfast, gonna treat him to lunch at a new place in town and then planning to cook and bake something he'll love for dinner...maybe rent a new movie.  I love him so much and always want to throw him some big party and invite everyone, but he doesn't like attention and wants it to be low-key and just us every year.  So, I'll remain calm and just use my blog to channel the love.  Here are 33 reasons why I adore my 33-year-old Ironman:


1. He always put others first
2. He forgives quickly
3. He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt
4. He's slow to get angry or freak out
5. He's calm and laid back
6. He's tall, blonde and handsome
7. He's got a great smile


8. He's strong and athletic
9. He's talented
10. He doesn't leave a job unfinished
11. He loves the Lord
12. He's kind to everyone
13. He's a great listener
14. He's the most patient person in the world
15. He's honest
16. He's a hard worker
17. He's a good provider for us
18. He doesn't make rash decisions
19. He's a good friend
20. He say's sorry
21. He puts up with me


22. He's disciplined
23. He's loyal
24. He's responsible
25. He's funny and has a good laugh
26. He's a gentleman
27. He's generous
28. He makes the best out of every situation
29. He goes along with my crazy ideas
30. He's compassionate
31. He loves to travel
32. He always does his best
33. He's my hero

Let's just say, he's the best.  Can we agree on that?!  Leave him a "Happy Birthday" below.


10.09.2017

HOW I FAILED MY FIRST TRIATHLON

A couple months back, I competed in my first triathlon.  It was a total flop.  I trained for months and I got up to all the distances I needed to swim, bike and run.  But, when it came down to it, I wasn't prepared and ended up riding back to the finish line in an ambulance!  Here are the areas where I believe I went wrong:

Me, when I still had no idea what I had gotten
myself into...

Bike.  Contrary to all the friendly suggestions I received, I was too cheap to buy the right type bicycle and ended up doing the race with the one I had.  I always thought it was a mountain bike, but apparently it's some type of hybrid.  Whatever it is, though, it's not a road bike and wasn't the right one for this triathlon.  I had nothing to compare it to, but my friend took a ride on it and told me it's too heavy and bulky and it's no wonder I couldn't finish the race.  Add that onto the huge hills that I faced and I was done.

Water.  The night before the race, I was afraid that I would have to get up to use the bathroom all night and not sleep well.  So, I solved that by not drinking any water past 7pm.  Then, when I woke up in the morning, I was afraid to drink too much and have to use the bathroom during the race.  So, I solved that by only drinking about 16 oz.  So yea, I pretty much started out my first triathlon dehydrated.  On top of that, it was a day of record breaking heat and humidity, so I didn't stand a chance.

I was actually as happy as I look at this point!

Food.  Although I ate breakfast before the race, I didn't take any snacks to have during the race.  I didn't know that it was important during such a short race.  However, I was later told that I should have had some type of gummy snacks and water enhancer for the electrolytes and salt.

Training.  Finally, as I was training, I was doing so on flat ground.  I didn't factor in that we would be racing in Greenville, where there are hills everywhere.  The swimming was fine, but biking on hills is much different than biking on flat ground.  I never even got to the running part, so who knows how that would have gone on hills.

Me, on the first hill, and I already was dying.

So, here's how it went down.  I started the race all excited, with the goal of just crossing the finish line.  I wasn't trying to beat anyone or break any records.  Just cross the finish line.  That's it.  The race started and I jumped into the water.  Because so many people were swimming in the pool, I got stuck behind a slow swimmer.  Plus, the water was so choppy, I swallowed tons of salt water.  So, by the time I jumped out, I felt a little nauseated.  I ran over and got on my bike and took off on my already jello legs.  After the first hill, I knew this was going to suck.  My legs were on fire.  I couldn't catch my breath.  I don't know how much time passed when I started to fill sick.  I was super thirsty, but every time I took a sip of water, I would feel like I was going to throw up.  All of a sudden, I started blacking out.  I tried to stop by bike and just stand there, but I was shaking so hard I couldn't hold myself up.  I laid my bike down on the road and sat down in case I fainted.  It wasn't too long before some women caught up with me.  They gave me something salty to drink, some type of gummy snack to eat and called the police.  Within minutes, I felt significantly better.  A police officer showed up and had me sit in his car with the air conditioner blowing on me to see if I improved, but since I still couldn't stand up and get on my bike, he called the ambulance.  The ambulance showed up and checked me out.  They said that I looked like a ghost, my blood pressure was super low and that they didn't want me to continue the race.  I was so disappointed to quit, but at the same time, felt too sick to care.  So, I got my first ambulance ride back to the finish line to find Ironman there waiting on me, worried.  By the time my friend Emily finished the race, I felt mostly back to normal, but the rest of the day was a combination of feeling disappointed and exhausted.

Trying to keep a good attitude after not
finishing the race.

I definitely don't want to end on that note, so I hope to compete in another triathlon in the future.  Next time, though, I want to be prepared.  I want to have the right type gear.  I want to be hydrated and carry some type of drinks and snacks with me.  And I want to pay attention to training for the type of landscape that I'll be competing in.  It was really hard not to cross the finish line, but hopefully it means I'll do better next time!


10.06.2017

8 REASONS YOUNG LIVING IS THE BEST JOB FOR TRAVELERS AND MINIMALISTS

Over the years, I've had many jobs.  I've cleaned offices, babysat, tutored, taught elementary school, washed windows, worked for a catering company on weekends, worked in Magic Kingdom and MGM Studios and shipped books in a warehouse.  I'm sure I'm forgetting a few and feel like I've done it all.  But, I never really enjoyed any of it.  I had those jobs because I needed a job.  Practical, yes.  Fun?  No.  Young Living Essential Oils is the first job that I've ever truly loved and, because of that, I've done better and stuck it out longer than any before.

At the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona, Utah

I know that if you're a traveler or a minimalist like me, you'd love this job too.  Here's why:

1.  I work online.  I don't have an office building, employees, lease, utilities, or overhead.  I just need a wifi connection and can literally work from anywhere in the world.  It's a travelers dream!

2.  I don't have office hours.  No boss is telling me what day or when to come in.  I work when I choose and take time off when I want.  The freedom is amazing and has lead to much more travel than ever before!

3.  I don't keep stock or make deliveries.  Nothing is cluttering up my house and I'm not making local deliveries or shipments from the local USPS.  This means that if I take off for three months to live in South America, I can still run my business from afar.  And yes, I did that in 2015!

Planting at the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona, Utah

4.  My team is made up of friends and family.  Business meetings, classes and events are often fun times catching up and planning with my favorite people.  And for the ones who live far away, it gives me another excuse to travel.  Travel hardly seems like business when it's so much fun!

5.  All the resources I need are already provided.  I don't have to have all the answers, I just have to know how to ask questions and find information.  And since it's all online, it's not cluttering up my home or even keeping me home!

6.  We already have a team brand, the Lemon Droppers.  All the websites, graphics and training is done for me so that I can focus on my business.  This means that I have professional graphics and more, without having to figure out how to create it myself.

We found ourselves on the Leaderboard!

7.  I'm my own boss.  I don't have anyone making decisions for me or telling me what to do.  This means when I want to hit the road for several months next year, I don't have to ask for time off at work (I'll just work as we travel!).

8.  My commission is residual and direct deposited each month.  I can be in another country, sick or on vacation and still know I'm earning commission.  Talk about freedom!

Being recognized on-stage in front of over 20,000 people!

Basically you just need an internet connection to do this job.  That's it!  It seriously can't get more simple than that.  This job is the best I've ever had.  I have so much freedom and truly appreciate it.  I believe that this can be a blessing to anyone, but especially if you love to travel frequently or live a minimalist lifestyle.  This is the job for you.  Believe me.  Since beginning my small business in 2013, I'm healthier because of the products and I'm happier because of the job.  You really can't lose.  I'd love to help you launch your own Young Living Essential Oils business.  Please reach out to me if you'd like to talk!



10.04.2017

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE A WISHLIST

For most of my life I've had a wishlist.  I've pretty much always got something on my mind that I wish I had.  Each Christmas or Birthday that roll around give me renewed hope.  But as they pass and I don't get what I want, I feel disappointed.  What a spoiled child, right?!  It's pretty embarrassing to admit.

24 years old!

A while back I was talking to someone about getting gifts as an adult.  What they said really got my attention.  They said that as a kid, you usually don't have much money, so celebrations are a way to get things you want or need.  However, once you are an adult, if you really want or need something, chances are you can afford to go out and buy it for yourself.

It's like all of a sudden it all made sense.  I don't need to write out a wishlist and put the burden on others to provide for my wants and needs.  Instead, I should act like an adult and take care of myself. Of course, I don't really go out and shop for myself very often.  So, when I do, here are the questions that I ask myself.

32 years old!

DO I TRULY NEED THIS ITEM?  If the answer is yes, then stop wishing.  Change that item to a goal.  Budget and save.  Go get the thing that you need once you can afford it.  For me, this was a pair of jeans!

DO I SIMPLY WANT THIS ITEM?  There is nothing wrong with buying something for myself because I simply want it.  The question is can I afford it?  For me, this is usually a facial!  I guess I could argue that I need it to keep my skin clear, but really it's a want...and a want that I'm willing to pay for.

As adults, we really should throw out the wish lists.  Provide for yourself and when friends and family give you gifts, count it as the icing on top, especially when those gifts happen to be exactly what you need or want anyway!


10.02.2017

4 REASONS WHY I'M QUITTING MY BUCKET LIST

Last fall, I put together a pretty intense Bucket List.  And I was actually stressed about it.  I had to do all the things.  I had to document.  I had to blog.  You know me, I'm the Bucket List Queen.  I love a good Bucket List, but I also feel like there's a right/wrong time and right/wrong reasons to work on it.  Before I add new items to my Bucket List or cross off old items, here are a few questions I want to begin to ask myself:


1.  Is now a good time to work on my Bucket List?  Our Fixer Upper has been pretty stressful for the past two years, so thinking and concentrating on other things has been harder than normal.  Bucket List's are meant to be fun, but last fall I ended up feeling like it was just one more burden.  Maybe right now isn't the right time for us to be working on crossing things off of a Bucket List, but who knows where we will be next fall once our Fixer Upper is done!

2.  Do I really want to cross this item off of my Bucket List?  When I looked back at my fall Bucket List from last year, I noticed that I had put a few things that I really didn't care about.  Like, "jump in a pile of leaves".  Sounds all fun and cute, but in reality, I don't want to rake leaves and I hate spiders, so why?  I think I felt like I was supposed to do because it was fall and that's what all the other bloggers were doing (or saying that they were going to do).  My Bucket List should reflect what I truly want to do and will look forward to, not what I think I should do.  Side note: I just went to my Bucket List and removed stuff that I really don't want to do, but thought I was supposed to want to do.  It felt good.


3.  Am I taking advantage of positive things in my everyday life?  The problem with a Bucket List is that my everyday life can tend to be pretty boring.  I wake up, tidy my home, exercise, do some laundry, run errands, work some, blog, fix dinner, eat with my husband and then watch Netflix together or read books.  Not too exciting right?  I don't want to feel like life is only exciting when I'm crossing off an item on my Bucket List.  I want to enjoy everyday, do things each day that I enjoy and look forward to.

4.  Is my Bucket List making me feel bad about myself?  Sure, I'll never do it all, but it's fun to dream right?  As soon as it stops being fun, it might be time to step away from the Bucket List.  At least for a little while.  If you have a Bucket List make sure you have a plan of how you are going to check those items off.  Save your money.  Plan your trip.  Take time off work.  And go.  If you are always saying "one day", you'll feel worse and worse.  Don't say one day.  Say "when" and make it happen.


Long story short, I won't be working on a fall Bucket List this year, but I'm keeping my regular life-long Bucket List.  Don't worry.  I'm not that crazy.  I still love Bucket Lists, but I want to focus this fall, instead, on things that I know that Ironman and I love to do together.  We love to carve a pumpkin.  We love to go camping.  We love to watch ELF.  We love doing these things each fall.  So, I'm keeping it simple and going to just focus on doing things we love, without checking them off of a list.


9.29.2017

7 THINGS TO DO, SEE AND EAT IN NEW SMYRNA, FLORIDA

Last week, we went down to New Smyrna Florida with Ironman's parents.  For 8 days we enjoyed the ocean-front view, walked on the beach, laid by the pool, took naps, watched movies and ate good food.  It was great to get away from the Fixer Upper for a while and spend some time with family.  Here are the 7 things that were my favorite while we were down there.


1.  BEACH FRONT DOWNTOWN - New Smyrna has a really cute downtown with lots of places to shop and eat.  There are boutiques, ice cream shops, bars, burger joints, juice and smoothie bars, candy shops and pretty much something for everyone.  The best part is you can walk right off the beach to get there!  Several times, we walked the half mile from out hotel, down the beach and right up into the downtown areas to get a fresh juice!

2.  BEACH - I was so amazed that cars could drive on the beach.  Solves the problem of not having enough hands to carry everything you need.  But it also means you have to watch out for cars when you're out.  Funny story, one night when we were there, some people left their car out on the beach too long and it almost washed out to sea!  Luckily they came back right in time.  Tons of men got behind the car and pushed it as the girl drove it out of the water.  The locals standing next to us said that they see cars float out to sea at least once a week!


3.  GO JUICE - This is the cute juice and smoothie bar that we would walk to and I highly recommend you try it out if you're in the area!  It looks like a food truck, but doesn't go anywhere.  The weather has to be good, though, because the only seats are outside on the picnic tables.  Every time we went, the employees were super friendly and seemed happy to be there.

4.  THAI MANGO - This was a great place to eat Thai food and there were several vegan options!  The waiters were welcoming and helpful and the food was delicious.  The wait was a little long, but I'm pretty sure they cooked our meals fresh, so it was worth the wait.  Plus, for such good food, the price was super affordable.  I think our dinner total was $14, if I remember correctly.


5.  CAFE VERDE - This place had some great Mexican food, including fried Yucca!  I haven't been able to eat that root since we lived in Bolivia, so I was super excited to get some.  I got some vegan tacos and Ironman got a vegan rice bowl.  It was the first time I had ever eaten big chunks of tofu so I was a little concerned at first, but was happy to find that I actually liked it!

6.  THE BREAKERS - And if you just want some good old American burgers and fries, The Breakers right on the beach and at the edge of downtown, is the coolest place to go.  I love the atmosphere.  And of course, they had a veggie burger, so we were set.

7.  FARMERS MARKET - On Saturday morning we went down to the farmers market and stocked up on lots of fresh fruits and veggies for the week.  There were lots of artists with booths set up and I bought a turquoise bracelet to add to my collection.  The best tent, though, was the lady with all the pineapples.  I can't remember the name of her business but she had fresh pineapple juice that you could buy and sip on while you shopped!


There's tons more to do, see and eat in New Smyrna.  If you're looking for a place to go vacation, I'd highly suggest this area!




9.27.2017

5 TIPS FOR TRAVELING AS A VEGAN

Ironman and I travel as much as we can and we often get asked how we eat on the road!  It's not hard to be vegan travelers.  It just means we have to be flexible and creative.  Here are the 5 tips that I would give to other travelers who are trying to stick to the vegan lifestyle!

You can watch my YouTube video on the topic, or scroll down to read my blogpost:


1.  HIT THE GROCERY STORE - Stock up on your favorite fruits, veggies, grains and nuts if you are staying somewhere with a kitchen.  Breakfast can be as easy as a smoothie or a big bowl of cut up fruit!  For lunch, whip up a salad with spinach leaves, colorful veggies and top with avocado.  And dinner can be rice, topped with steamed veggies.

2.  FIND A JUICE/SMOOTHIE BAR - Most juice and smoothie bars have plenty of options for vegans!  Just look through their menu and be sure to ask them questions about ingredients.  Plus, they often have smoothie bowl too.  Yum!  I could seriously spend all my money at these places.  It's like heaven.  Not cheap, but heaven all the same.


This smoothie bowl was amazing!

3.  LOOK UP VEGAN RESTAURANTS - They are not always available, or listed online, but if you can find a vegan restaurant, you'll have tons of options!  Chances are it will be a little more expensive than a regular restaurant, so be prepared.  Some restaurants aren't 100% vegan, but will have vegan options.  This is probably your best choice if you can find it.

4.  GO OUT TO A REGULAR RESTAURANT - When all else fails, go eat at a regular place.  You can almost always find something vegan or ask for substitutions.  Usually I just focus on the salads and sides.  We often have to ask the waiter to hold the meat and cheese and add extra veggies, but they always do.  Easy peasy.  Even a baked potato and steamed veggies would work!

We got a veggie pizza, no cheese, extra veggies!

5.  WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS - Don't leave home without snacks.  If you have no idea about the area, go prepared.  You don't want to show up and find out there are no decent grocery stores, juice bars and no restaurants with vegan options.  I love keeping bananas, nuts, protein bars, carrots and dates around for quick and easy for snacks.  These have held me and Ironman over for many trips!

People often think that it's hard for us to go out to eat, but it's really not.  The secret is just being prepared and flexible.  Know the menu ahead of time, if possible.  If not, just look it over and find something that works.  We have yet to go somewhere that we weren't able to find something to eat!


9.25.2017

HOW TO TRULY PROTEST FOR CHANGE

This morning, I was checking my FaceBook and came across my moms post about the football players kneeling in protest during the national anthem.  I saw the news a few days ago, but didn't give it much thought.  However, after reading my mom's post and the comments that she got, I couldn't get it off my mind.  I don't think that this protest is a problem with patriotism, or government, or racism or the flag or the right to protest.  The real problem is the heart.  

My mom with patients in Ethiopia.

Want to talk about protesting for change?  Let’s talk about my mom.  She was burned and almost died.  The hospital in Bolivia didn't give her the care she needed, so she was brought to the USA and survived.  It took her years of wearing compression suits and physical therapy to get to where she is today.  You know what she didn't do?  Go back to that hospital in Bolivia and take a knee in front of it.  You know why?  That would have done absolutely nothing.  But, instead, she survived her own accident, researched and researched, learned everything she could possibly learn about burns, talked to countless doctors and experts, returned to Bolivia, began to visit other patients in the burn clinic, provided for them on her own, eventually opened a non-profit called Burn Care International, raised the money to care for those burn victims and has helped over 10,000 patients with rehabilitation for over a decade.  

THAT is protesting for change.  

So, my question is, are these players willing to do what my mom has done?  Are they willing to truly stand up for change?  Or are they only going to kneel?  

Because we live in a sinful world, there will always be things that we need to improve on.  No country or culture is perfect, but America has so much to be thankful for.  While growing up overseas, I was able to see how the majority of the world lives and I learned how truly privileged we are here.  We have resources that much of the world will never know.  And yet we don't recognize them as blessings because we are so used to them being part of our everyday life.  The fact that you have internet access and are reading this on a computer or cell phone means that you are living better than the majority of the world.  

My mom helps an Ethiopian girl try on her first
compression suit!

I agree with my mom.  What did kneeling actually do to truly change anything?  Sure, we are talking about it.  But, what else?  Has anything actually changed since they kneeled?  However, what if these men had instead began to consistently pray together, as a team, for change?  And what if these men went out into communities and physically worked for change, using their own time, energy and money?  What if they banded together and formed non-profits and raised money to help with changes?  And what if they used their network to find other people who can influence change, begin to meet with them and come up with a plan to move forward?  And what if, they continued to work together passionately for years and years?  Can you imagine the kind of change we would see then?

My mom is in Ethiopia right now, training people how to care for burn victims.  She has gone to China.  Bangladesh.  Bolivia.  She even has helped many people in the USA.  Several times a year, she is overseas, helping people.  She has given her time, energy and money to help people around the world since I was a child.  That is truly standing up for change.  So, instead of these players kneeling down and showing their disapproval, what if they stood up, spoke up and actually lead people somewhere?  My mom is just one person, working for change.  Imagine what these players, together as a team and with their platform, could do for change.  People don't follow someone who isn't going anywhere.  People follow someone who is inspired, has a plan and is moving forward.  Are these players willing to do what my mom has done?  Are they willing to sacrifice years and years of their time, energy and money for something they say they care so much about?  

My mom training her new Ethiopian seamstress how to measure, cut
and sew a compression suit.

However, I keep having to remind myself that no matter what we do, the world is never going to be perfect.  We are sinners and we need God.  We can work together to make positive changes, but there will always be problems with the world.  Who knows…maybe these men kneeling will somehow make some type of change.  But, as for me?  I’m supporting my mom, who goes to the hard places and helps the hurt people, consistently, right now, today.  She is making real changes in real people’s lives.  


This isn’t about politics, government, race or whatever else it may come across as you read this post.  This is about our hearts.  My mom’s heart is in the right place.  What do we know about these players?  I know nothing, except that they kneeled down in protest during a game.  Do they truly want real change?  I hope so!  We could use it.  But what are they willing to do about it?  Are they willing to go to the lengths that my mom has gone to?  Only time will tell.

Visit my moms website: Burn Care International


Tons of people talk about change.  It's actually a pretty popular topic.  But, how many of those people actually do anything about it?  Like, really do something about it.  My mom is changing lives, one person at a time.  She cares about burn victims.  She is passionate to see them live better lives.  She is constantly protesting for change through her actions.  What do you care about?  What are you passionate about?  And are you truly protesting for change there?

Let's hear less talk.

Let's see more action.

The world could use it.


9.20.2017

3 REASONS TO USE ACCESS OVER OWNERSHIP

I was listening to a podcast by The Minimalists the other day and they said something that really made so much sense.  Choose access vs ownership.

Example #1: Barely used item.  I've only used the cake plate a few times in
our marriage.  I haven't gotten rid of it, but if I did, it's something I know I
could borrow from a friend or family member!

What do they mean?  Let me see if I can explain.  Instead of buying home gym equipment, join a gym so you have access to those machines and weights.  Stop buying books and go to the local library instead.  Skip the DVDs and go to the movie theatre.  Ask your friends to borrow an item instead of buying it.  See what I mean?  Basically, instead of owning everything you could possibly need, own less but find a way to have access to what you do need.  Not convinced?  Here are my 3 reasons why I think that they are right:

Example #2: Special occasion item.  We only use this ENO when camping, but
I don't get rid of it because we enjoy it when we do go camping!

1.  MONEY: It costs money to buy things and many times, we don't need something as much as we thought we did.  Stop buying more stuff and save that money.

2.  SPACE: It takes up space to own things and chances are that your space is already filled with things you don't use very often.  Get rid of those items and clear up that space.

3.  TIME: It takes time to take care of the things that we own.  If you don't care for them, they don't last.  If you do take care of them, you have less free time.  Get rid of those items and enjoy more free time.

Example #3: Frequently used item.  I enjoy owning my bike
because I love to go riding often.  This is not something I
would want to have to constantly borrow.

Be ok with not owning some items.  Learn to find access to that item by renting or borrowing.  Another genius idea I heard on The Minimalists podcast is to think of craigslist as your "storage locker".  When you need something, go on craigslist (or FaceBook groups) and find it.  Get it and use it.  Then, put it back on craigslist for the next person who needs it.

If you haven't used an item in 90 days, chances are it would be a good item to find access to instead of owning.  Go through your entire house.  Each room, drawer, closet, shelf, box and storage bin and start to clean out.  Trash or donate the items that you haven't used in 90 days (you can keep Christmas decorations or things that can really only be used once a year).

Don't be fooled.  I believe all this, but can still use some work at my own place!  Although the goal isn't perfection, it is good to be conscious about the things that we own and why we own them.  Living with less usually means that we can truly live more!

What will you choose?  More stuff?  Or more adventures?

You already know what I'll choose.


9.13.2017

3 REAONS WHY DIETS DON'T WORK AND 3 THINGS THAT DO

Diets come up everywhere.  FaceBook.  Instagram.  Conversations.  Commercials.  It's all over the place and it's what a lot of us talk about on a regular basis.  We want to look and feel our best and we have a mental picture of what we think that looks like.  The only problem is that diets don't work!  Why?  Here are the top three things that I see happen when someone I know goes on a diet:


Juices and smoothies are my favorite!

1.  DIETS LEAVE YOU HUNGRY.  Many diets have you eating less food, restricting certain foods and even counting calories (which seems almost impossible).  This means you'll most likely be confused and hungry (and end up making poor choices when in a rush), which means you'll be thinking about food even more than you normally would.  Which brings us to the 2nd reason...

2.  DIETS MAKE YOU MEAN.  When you deprive yourself of all the foods you love and enjoy, you're naturally going to be unhappy for a while.  Plus, if you need to detox from sugar or caffeine, it's going to be even worse.  You might even feel terrible.  And during your diet, you're going to be dreaming of the future days when you can eat all that food your missing.  Which takes us to the 3rd reason...

3.  DIETS ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE.  Once you've reached your goal, you're probably going to go right back to eating how you were before.  So, after time, you're going to backtrack and lose all that progress.  Not only will you be discouraged, but you'll most likely feel even more out of control than when you started.  You'll feel like a failure and might be afraid to try again, leaving you stuck in a rutt.

Dieting doesn't seem to turn out too well for most people.  Experiencing hunger pains makes people anxious and going without certain beloved foods makes people unhappy.  It's just bad all around, especially if you can't keep it up.  Yo-yo dieting is not the way to go for long-term health.

My favorite work out buddy :)

But the real problem is with our attitude about food.  We shouldn't choose short-term dieting to quickly meet goals.  What we should be doing is choosing a lifestyle that promotes long-term health.  so, what does that look like?

1.  EAT WHEN WE ARE HUNGRY.  Instead of focusing on eating 3 meals a day or 6 small meals a day or not eating after 7, etc., what if we just ate when we felt hungry?  And I don't mean a craving that comes and passes after 20 minutes.  I mean truly hungry.  Give yourself time to be hungry for a while, let your stomach be empty and allow yourself to experience some hunger pains!  I promise it won't kill you.

2.  EAT UNTIL WE ARE SATISFIED.  Once you begin eating, only eat until you are satisfied, not full.  It takes about 20 minutes for your body to register what you have eaten, so take your time to eat slow, chew your food and listen to your body's signals.  You'll feel much better after a meal if you didn't over-do it.  No matter how good the food was, no one likes that stuffed feeling when you get up from the table.

3.  EAT FOODS THAT LEAVE US FEELING WELL.  Chances are that huge burger and fries at lunch didn't leave you feeling well.  And I bet that late night bowl of ice cream and bottle of wine didn't help either, right?  Don't just eat to eat.  Think about what you are putting into your body, how you feel as you are eating, how you feel an hour after that meal, how you'll feel tomorrow and how the food will effect your long-term goals of life-long health.

Love when I travel and find healthy options!

Ironman and I eat plant-based because we feel better eating that way.  Sure, I'd love to binge on Krispy Kreme Donuts or a burger and fries or drink red wine every night.  When Ironman met me, I was basically surviving on Cinnamon Sugar Pop-Tars and loving every minute of it.  But, when I eat that way I feel terrible.  My stomach is a mess, I'm uncomfortable in my clothes, I'm sluggish and I gain weight.  It's not "just food", but it truly affects the rest of my day and life.

Don't go on another diet.  Instead, spend time educating yourself on food and exercise and make small changes that you can sustain.  Your body will thank you in the long run!  It doesn't matter if it takes you years.  What matters is that you will be able to look back and see how far you've come over time.

What is one small change that you can make today and keep it up?

Walking is my favorite exercise :)

Need some ideas?  Here are some things that I've changed over the past year and a half and I can definitely tell I'm feeling much better!

-get moving daily: this can be a simple 10 minute walk around the neighborhood, a bike ride with your kids, a class you enjoy at the gym.  It doesn't have to be anything crazy.  The best exercise is the one that you are going to do!

-clean up your diet: cut out packaged and processed foods, sweets, alcohol and anything that doesn't leave you feeling your best after a meal.  It doesn't have to be all at once.  Just chose one small change to implement this week.  Then, next week, add one more thing.

-live a balanced life: get outside for some vitamin D, spend time with friends and family you enjoy, go to bed earlier, stick to a budget, incorporate essential oils into your day, take a vacation.  Create a life that you love and cut out the things that aren't doing you any good.

You don't have to go cold turkey.  One thing at a time works.  Change one thing today.  When you are ready, change one more thing.  Before you know it, a year will pass and you will be a totally different person!  It isn't a diet that makes you healthy.  It's consistently making good choices.  Do that and see how you feel.  It may get worse before it gets better, but I guarantee you it will get better with time!




9.11.2017

4 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU DON'T AGREE

The older I get, the more I encounter strong opinions.  Sometimes, strong to the point of being down-right hurtful.  Maybe when I was a kid I didn't read into things?  Or maybe people just assumed that I'd grow up and make the "right choices".  Well, I've grown up (at least a little) and made the right choices for me, but it sure does rub people wrong some days.


Let's just cover some areas where Ironman and I have gotten pushback over the years.

-We got married while still full-time college students.
-We became missionaries and lived on a ship for 6 months.
-We didn't use our degrees.
-We don't have jobs with "benefits".
-We've been married ten years this December and don't have kids yet.
-We eat plant-based.
-We travel every time we've saved up enough money for a trip.
-We sell essential oils.

There have been other minor things here and there, but over the years, these topics have been the major ones that we heard about pretty often.  Most times, we try to explain our decisions in hopes that someone will understand.  Many times, we just laugh it off when we know the person doesn't really want to understand us, but simply take a swing.  Sometimes, we just roll our eyes and huff.  But, a lot of times, we (especially me) act like everything is fine, but go home a little hurt.  One comment here or there isn't what gets you.  It's the years of comments that finally take their toll.

See?  My daddy is drinking black coffee out of a Toilet Mug
and I don't judge.  Daddy, you just do you!
 
Each person is different.  So, instead of getting offended when someone doesn't think exactly like you, try doing these 4 things:

1.  EVALUATE.  If you're curious about someone, that can be a good thing!  It shows that you are genuinely interested in other people.  However, if you are offended or think that they are making the "wrong decision", ask yourself why?  Could it be that you are just jealous of what they are doing with their life?  Do you wish you could make the same choices, but you are too scared to do it?  Or do you simply wish you had the courage to stand up for your own different choices?  Spend some time thinking about why other people's choices affect you so strongly.

2.  ASK.  Going back to being genuinely interested in other people.  That's great!  If you really don't understand something, but want to because you care about that person, just ask!  Chances are, they would love to share why they make the choices they do.  Just remember, as you are listening, don't judge.  Truly listen, without being ready with your own reply, and hear what they have to say.  And remember, it's their life and in the end they are accountable to God, not to you.  Probably, in the end, it won't even matter anyway!  Haha, that helps a lot with perspective.


3.  APPRECIATE.  No one is ever going to agree on everything.  That's what makes us unique!  How boring would it be if we all were exactly the same?  What in the world would people talk about?  Just give it time.  You never know.  In 10 years, they may come full circle and agree with your stance.  Or, you could be the one that changes!  Time flies, people learn and grow, change their minds, make new decisions...let them be who they want to be at that moment and support them in that right now.  Don't burn your bridges with people you care about over something that really doesn't matter in the big picture.

4.  DISTANCE.  If you can't bring yourself to evaluate your own self, ask sincere questions and appreciate the person for who they are, then maybe you need to distance yourself.  If it's just someone on social media, simply unfriend or unfollow them.  Easy peasy.  If it's a friend or family member that you will run into often, then just don't bring up that topic again.  Simple!

Surround yourself with people who love you and accept you for who you are!

Recently I noticed several people I follow on Instagram and YouTube making comments like "I know you haters are gonna leave something in the comments" (or something along those lines) in many of their posts and videos.  For one, I can't understand why someone who doesn't like and support them follows them and takes the time to leave mean comments.  What a waste of time.  And secondly, how sad that these people feel like they have to continually give their "disclaimer" so that they don't offend anyone.  What in the world is wrong with people?  Thank goodness we are all unique and have something to offer.  That's what makes it fun to meet new people, continue to get to know old friends and learn through others around us.

I don't want to be another hater.  The world already has plenty.  I want to know myself and be confident enough to stand up for what I believe in.  And I want to genuinely love others and be interested in what they care about.  People already have enough difficulties in their lives.  I don't want to be another thing that gets them down.  I want to be a supporter and I want my family and friends to know that I've got their back.

What do you want?