On Consistency

Do you ever find that your deepest-held values are the ones that often intimidate you the most? Consistency is like that for me. I preach it nearly as often as I preach Jesus. Clearly I should have blogged about it a long time ago. It is a cornerstone component of my life. And yet… talking about it makes me nervous.


Because I’m so often the opposite of consistent, that’s why. As soon as I start talking about consistency in one area, I immediately start thinking of ways I’m horribly inconsistent in other areas. So I’m just gonna say it: I am a work in progress.

In this article, I’m going to talk a little bit about why I believe consistency is so important, give examples of some areas where I do pretty well and some where I could improve, and (I hope) inspire you to pick an area of growth to focus on in your own life. Ready? Here we go.

Why Consistency Matters

There are a lot of philosophies out there on how to implement lifestyle changes. From productivity to weight loss to budgeting, you can do a Google search, read some stuff, and find pretty much any method. Some methods work better for some people. I have heard people make convincing cases for massive, imperfect action to boost yourself into change and progress. I have heard that “fast is easy, slow is never.” And I’ve also heard that the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Depending on your personality, some of these quick efforts to blast through obstacles or bad habits may sound appealing to you. The often sound appealing to me to, and I may jump on a bandwagon for awhile, but I jump off pretty quickly, usually for one reason: Overwhelm.

I take on a lot. I often think I have more time, energy, and ability than what I really do. Not only do I take on a lot, but also I tend to pile it on very suddenly. When reality sets in, I’m buried under a pile of things I said I’d do, trying to juggle too many things at once. I’m a terrible juggler. I get too many balls in the air and I start dropping them, usually with catastrophic results.

Right now, I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it’s really resonating with me. I’m still not very far into the book, but what he says about changing your life slowly, with small, consistent changes implemented over time, is something I can really agree with. It is what has always worked the best for me. Maybe I need to change a lot of things, but the idea of changing a lot all at once is intimidating. Changing one small thing, and sticking with that, well that’s not so bad. Anyone can do that. Do that enough times in the course of a few years and you’ll find yourself looking back and realizing just how much you’ve transformed your life.

What It Looks Like For Me

As I said, some I am more consistent in some areas than others. These are not necessary things I am naturally good at or enjoy. They are things I’ve made a consistent, conscious effort to work at. They include:

  • Drinking water. Although I’m not great at doing this throughout the day, I do make an effort to stay hydrated. For me, that starts in the morning with a glass or two of water, usually with a quarter of a lemon, right after I wake up. I also choose water rather than most other drinks, and I try to keep it with me or at least visible so I remember to drink it.
  • Working out. My goal is to exercise for at least 10 minutes 3-5 times a week, and to average at least 2 hours of exercise per week, which obviously means at least one of my workouts has to be around an hour. I do that consistently. I also do the same workout at Planet Fitness once a week pretty consistently. What I’m not great at is sticking to a particular plan or program. I can do it for a few weeks, maybe up to a month, but then I get bored and have to move on to something else. The important thing to me, though, is that I’m doing something and continuing to see progress.
  • Reading my Bible. I track my daily Bible reading through the Bible app from YouVersion, which says I have opened the app 199 times this year, with 27 perfect weeks. If my math is right, that means I have missed less than seven days this entire year. This is a huge improvement from last year, and I can feel that improvement in my spiritual health and general peace of mind. Participating in reading groups with friends and posting the verse of the day on Instagram most days helps me a lot with this.

There are probably a few other things I consistently do well if I thought about it, but whenever I start thinking about what I do well, I also think about areas where I could really improve. Here are some of those:

  • Meal planning. I do this sometimes, and it really helps, but I’m not consistent. I use emeals, which is great, but often I’ll get home with a week’s worth of dinner food and nothing for breakfast. (Hint: emeals actually offers lunch and breakfast plans too, if you’re interested) But sometimes I don’t want to use emeals. I’d rather cook something fun I found on Pinterest. Or I just want to have tacos every Tuesday. You can only have tacos on Tuesday if you remember to buy the taco shells. I could go on but you get the idea. Meal planning is a frequent source of frustration and I want to do better at it. If you’d like to try emeals our for yourself, I’ve got a referral link for you. If you decide to purchase a meal plan with this link, I’ll save a little money on my plan. Try emeals today.
  • Writing. Yes, that’s right, I’m a writer who struggles to write consistently. And you know what? I wrote a book on this! And I still don’t do it. Sheesh, get it together, Allie.
  • Financial tracking and planning. I almost don’t even want to talk about this one. Let’s just say, poor money practices lead to money poor. You know what I mean? Okay.
  • Time blocking. I just discovered this method a few months ago (thank you, Amy Landino!) and it has changed my life. Or at least, it would if I’d do it more consistently. I actually discovered how effective it is for me by doing it for a few weeks and then getting lazy and not doing it. Yeah. I’m totally getting back into that.

If you have any suggestions regarding any of my issues listed above, I’m open to hearing them. Please contact me or comment on this post.

What Could It Look Like For You?

Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What areas of your life could be improved by a small, consistent change? What action can you take today, and then tomorrow, and then every day for the foreseeable future, in order to make those changes? Talk to me. Post a comment or send me an email, or connect with me on the social networks. And don’t forget to subscribe to my email list if you enjoyed this post and would like to know when I publish new content.

Now . . . go! Transform your life with one small change today.

On Eating Vegetables

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How do you feel about vegetables? I admit, I used to hate them. I still tend to say I don’t like them very much, but I need to stop saying that because it’s really not true. I actually love most vegetables, and I’ll tell you why.

Last year at about this time, I decided to change my diet. At the time I ate a pretty typical American diet. Over the last few years I’ve greatly reduced my consumption of sugar and processed foods, but I don’t do fad diets or pay much attention to food trends like clean eating, paleo, keto, stuff like that. I like Asian, New Mexican, and Mediterranean flavors, and I hated vegetables.

As I became more passionate about health and fitness, I realized that I was not fueling my body with adequate nutrition. I was working out more, and harder, and running out of energy. I did add supplements like protein powder and BCAAs, but I knew that if I really wanted to be healthier, I’d have to change the way I ate. So I purchased the 2B Mindset, a nutrition program from Beachbody. Because it’s a paid program, I won’t let you in on all the secrets, but I will give you a hint: two big parts of it are drinking more water and eating more vegetables.

Vegetables! Ugh!

I figured I wouldn’t like it. I figured my family wouldn’t like it either. But I also figured it was worth trying. I found more ways to prepare the few kinds of vegetables I did like. Thankfully, I’ve always loved zucchini. It’s such a versatile vegetable, and there are so many delicious possibilities. I really should have planted some this year! Maybe next year. I also found ways to add vegetables into foods I prepared regularly. I discovered cauliflower rice and zoodles. I added red peppers to chili and tomato sauce. I tried brussels sprouts. I don’t like typical salads, but I do like chopped salads, especially with kale. I started taking those to work. I found some really delicious recipes. I blended vegetables into smoothies.

After a few months of begrudgingly adding more vegetables to my diet, I discovered some interesting changes. I felt better. I had more energy. And probably the craziest part, I started really liking vegetables! I’ve gone from liking about five (green beans, asparagus, zucchini, potatoes, and broccoli) to liking nearly every vegetable I try, except for iceberg lettuce and beets.

It’s a weird fact that the more you eat a particular kind food, the more you tend to want it. If you eat a lot of sugar, you want a lot of sugar. If you eat a lot of fast food, you want fast food. If you eat a lot of vegetables, you want vegetables. Adding more vegetables didn’t just change my diet, it changed my life. I eat very differently now than I did a year or two ago, and I enjoy food just as much now as I did then. I just enjoy more kinds of food. And… chips. Somehow when I started eating more vegetables, chips and french fries became my favorite guilty foods, even more than sweets.

I hope you don’t think that just because I like vegetables now, I’ve abandoned my love for all the other foods. Believe me, I love all the foods. Pizza and cupcakes are still my favorite. But I learned that making a shift is possible, and that making healthier food choices can be enjoyable. And that roasted broccoli with butter, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon is just one of the best things in life.

This month in my 30 Day Challenge group, we’re eating more vegetables. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes and tips for adding more veggie goodness into your life, whether you like vegetables or not. I hope you’ll join me!

What’s your favorite vegetable? If you have a good recipe, let me know!

On Going Live Every Day

“But… you hate live videos. Remember?”

Yes. I remember. I even made a couple of them a few years ago for the sake of mocking them. True story. Funny thing was, when I did those, a few people told me, “You should do this all the time!” Granted, those people are crazy. But still… It did get me thinking.

Why do I hate live videos? Oh, lots of reasons. I’m a content snob. Live videos are unedited. I say things without thinking. Live videos are unedited. Oh, did I say that already? I think you get the point. Anything can, and sometimes does, happen. Live, for anyone to see. And I’m just not okay with that. I also don’t like wiggling cameras, bad angles, videos filmed in portrait mode, videos without captions, people who prattle on with no plan for what they’re saying, and videos of some narcissist just out there showing off on the internet. I did say there were lots of reasons.

So the first time someone suggested I go live with my Cha Cha Plank Challenge in February, my first reaction was something along the lines of, “Hahahaha… no.” Then I immediately started thinking. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I do. It gets me into all sorts of strange unanticipated situations.

I thought, why not? Other than the obvious reason, which is that I hate live videos. I thought it might get a few more people to join my challenge, and it might get a few more people to stick out my challenge. I thought it might be fun to get together with some of my local friends who were also doing the challenge and go live together. I love bringing people along with me to share my experiences. It occurred to me that going live was one way to do that. So, I did it. I did the Cha Cha Plank Challenge (if you don’t know what that is, Google it. It’s entertaining), starting with 20 seconds and going up to four minutes, live in my Facebook group in the month of February. It was mostly fun. It was sometimes entertaining. I learned a few things about video, about my friends, and about myself. Here are some of them:

  1. I still hate live videos. There were so many times I thought, “Why am I doing this? This is stupid. I hate this.” And I still don’t like watching them.
  2. Going live takes awhile to set up. Especially when you’re using music. Although you do just press record and go, if you want a stable camera shot with a good angle you have to set that up. Find the music. Type the description. Think about what you’re supposed to do. A four minute live video can easily be a 15 minute process, sometimes longer.
  3. People don’t like to watch long videos. One friend told me, “I thought about watching your video and then I saw how long it was, and I knew I didn’t have time for that.” Less than ten minutes is good, and less than five minutes is better.
  4. Embarrassing myself on camera did happen, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and it didn’t kill me. I didn’t say as many stupid things as I thought I would, but I said plenty of them, and regretted some of them.
  5. Wardrobe choices are important and some mistakes will haunt you and disturb your viewers. Let’s just say I’ve learned which of my workout outfits are video appropriate and which ones… aren’t.
  6. Mistakes can be entertaining so just let them happen, and then let them go. Several times I warned people, “You might not want to watch today’s video!” and when they did, they loved it. They laughed. I’m past the point in life where I’m worried about people laughing at my expense, as long as they laugh. Most people need to laugh more. If I can help with that, fine.
  7. I’m not bad on camera. There are moments when I’m actually good on camera, actually. Sometimes I give good advice. Sometimes I’m kind of funny. Sometimes I’m downright hilarious. Most of the time, I actually enjoy it.
  8. Watching myself exercise on video has taught me some very useful lessons about how I exercise. I really worked on my plank form during February. Not an easy task while also doing the cha cha slide! If you don’t have access to a mirror while you exercise, I recommend videoing yourself occasionally. It can be very revealing.
  9. Knowing I had committed to post a live video every day of the challenge kept me more consistent than I had ever been before. I have always finished my monthly challenges, but some days I have skipped days or forgotten to post. Not in February. I was on every day, doing that cha cha, whether I felt like it or not.
  10. Planks are effective, whether you’re holding a stationary plank or adding some silly dance moves. My abs and shoulders looked different at the end of the challenge than they did at the beginning.

I don’t know if going live is really something I want to make a habit of doing, at least publicly. I am doing another month of live videos in March. This time the challenge is squats, pushups, and jumping jacks. See the calendars below if you want to try it. If you’re on Facebook you can join the group, see the videos, and hopefully complete the challenge, here.

On Reflection and Resolution

It’s January 15th. The perfect day for a New Year blog. Right?

I like to start out my year sometime in the first week of January. Why? Because January 1 is a holiday. It’s a day for sleeping in, watching football, eating appetizers all day, and wishing people the best in their hopes and dreams for the new year. I had really good intentions about getting to work on January 2. I got some coffee and did some reflecting, hit the gym, and wrote down some goals. A week went by. I got sick and went back to work. Another week was full of plans and preparations for my son’s 6th birthday. Now it’s the 15th and I still have some work to do in the areas of reflection and goal setting. Part of me feels really bad about that. Maybe I’m too late. Maybe the new year ship has sailed already. Maybe I should just give up on change and resolutions and just settle for a year very similar to last year. But another part of me says no. That’s ridiculous. Am I a little late to the New Year’s game? Yeah. Can I still win it? Yep. Because you don’t have to start perfectly to finish well.

A couple weeks ago, when I first started this post, I was seeing a lot of people post summaries of what 2018 was like for them, and if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be…


It was not an easy year. For most, it seems it was not a good year. For me, it was one of the most difficult years of my life. I made a lot of progress in some areas. I can look back on my health and physical fitness and be really pleased with what I accomplished. I lost 15 pounds. I cut a lot of sugar and carbs out of my diet (not all of them! I’m not that crazy!) and added more water and vegetables, and it made a real difference. I was very intentional about exercise all year, and increased my workouts, especially cardio, when I felt like I needed to. I joined a gym, which was something I said I’d never do. I started running, another thing I said I’d never do, and finished three 5Ks. I hiked the Manitou Incline. I tried snowboarding and did better than I thought I would.

I made some progress in other areas, too. I challenged myself to say yes to things I’ve always said no to in the past. In addition to 5Ks and snowboarding, I tried sushi. It was a spicy salmon roll and I didn’t like it, but I ate it. I started a business. I wrote non-fiction. I even read some non-fiction. I got a job at an elementary school library. I embraced the truth that success lies outside of our comfort zones. I challenged myself and I learned that when you do that, it truly is a challenge. It isn’t necessarily easy, it’s rarely comfortable, sometimes it isn’t fun, and it can be downright painful.

2018 was a learning year. A year of struggle and trial and failure and baby steps in the right direction. I do not want 2019 to be like last year. I want it to be something different.

New Year’s Resolutions have become such a worn out cliché that some people refuse to make them, and those who do often expect to break them. I think that’s a shame, but I understand the reasoning. Most resolutions are unrealistic. Often they’re things we think we should do, but that we really don’t want to do. Many times they are things so far outside our usual habits or lifestyles that we are terrified to even attempt them. So we might try them for a day or two, or say we really need to get to that, or make excuses why we can’t do them after all, and go back to living our lives the same ways, following the same patterns, year after year.

The key is, in order to change something you have to . . . actually CHANGE something. Change a routine. Change a habit. Change a relationship. Change your diet. Whatever. You change the way you do something and you stick to it until things change. And that requires this remarkable force: Resolution.

The problem with most New Year’s Resolutions is that they aren’t resolutions at all. There is nothing resolute about them, or about our attitude toward them. They should really be called New Year’s Aspirations, although for some reason that doesn’t sound very good. If you want to make a goal stick, try making it an actual resolution. Say to yourself “I resolve that I will _______ this year.” Or this week. Or this month. Find something that you want to change and that you CAN change, resolve to do what it takes to make that thing happen, and then DO IT. No excuses. No worries if it’s two weeks into 2019 and you haven’t done it yet. It’s still January. We’ve got nearly 12 months until December. Let’s make 2019 a year of realistic goals with practical action steps that we can take consistently in order to attain those goals. For the sake of accountability, here are some of my goals:

  1. I will start making money from home. I registered a business last year but I haven’t yet been brave enough to get myself out there, market it, and earn some income. I think I can do this. I want to try it and see what happens.
  2. I will complete a novel. Approximately 80,000 words, outlined, written, edited, and ready to submit to potential agents and publishers.
  3. I want to look like Wonder Woman. Only fun size. And kinda pale. And different hair, preferably purple. I say “I want to” on this one because I realize I will never look exactly like Wonder Woman but I’m going to get as close to that as I can. And I’d like a really authentic looking costume to go with it.
  4. I will be more intentional in the way I approach relationships with my family and friends. Sometimes I get too distracted, too driven, and I’m not present enough in the moment, and my relationships suffer. I want to change that.

I do have some action steps to go along with these goals, and I will probably think of some more. I might even think of a few other goals. I’m always thinking. I need to make sure I take action on those thoughts in order to improve other areas of my life as much as I improved my fitness and my mindset last year. Even though it’s already January 15th, I’m still looking forward to making 2019 different, and better, than 2018.

How about you? What are some of your goals for 2019? How is it going at this point, two weeks in?

On Gratitude During the Holidays

I’m going to be honest here:

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest.

There’s tradition and joy and happiness and family and friends and wonderful food and scents and giving … and all the hustle and bustle and scheduling and madness that goes with it.

I usually take one of two approaches to the holidays: I either try to do everything and drive myself crazy, or I try to do as little as possible and feel like I’m missing out. I haven’t found a balance. I’m not sure there is one. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know. This year, I’m going to try something a little different:


I know, Thanksgiving is over. Christmas season is in full swing now. Every November I see a few people on Facebook do a Thanksgiving challenge where they post something they’re thankful for every day. I know it feels like I’m late to the party, like the Thanksgiving ship (or gravy boat?) has sailed, but stick with me here for a second. Why stop being thankful after Thanksgiving?

Christmas is a celebration of giving, and by the very nature of giving, it is also a celebration of receiving. I was taught to be thankful for my gifts. I was even taught to write thank you notes, although I have to admit, I never do. I do enjoy gifts, however, and I am thankful for them. My life is full of gifts, not just the ones that come wrapped with pretty paper and bows. My relationships with the people in my life are great gifts. And of course, there is no greater gift than the one we celebrate every Christmas: God’s gift of eternal life in Christ. I want to celebrate all those gifts by living in a spirit of gratitude this December.

I can already feel the busy spirit of Christmas creeping in on me. There are so many decisions to make. Which gifts to buy? Which events to attend? Which goodies to bake? I fill my life and my schedule full of good things, but when it’s too full, they start to feel like annoying obligations. I stop enjoying them for what they are, and start resenting them for what they represent to me: My failure, once again, to be that perfect Christmas sugar plum fairy, full of sweetness and spices and the spirit of Christmas. I put too much pressure on myself and if I’m not careful I can end up sounding more like Scrooge than Tiny Tim.

I don’t want to go through another holiday season feeling grumpy. Instead, I want to feel grateful. And I invite you to come along. In my 30 Day Challenge Facebook group, we’ll be posting about something we’re thankful for every day.

And God bless us, every one!”

Have you joined my Facebook group yet? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s great! If you’re not on Facebook, please feel free to leave comments here about what you are thankful for.

On Drinking Water

Water is essential to life.

We know this, but how many of us don’t drink enough of this essential substance every day? Do we even know how much we’re supposed to drink, or how often? Someone told me this week that you only have to drink when you’re thirsty. I’ve also heard that by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. I’ve heard eight glasses of water a day, I’ve heard twelve, and I’ve wondered what a glass is. I’ve heard to take your weight, divide it in half, and drink that number of ounces every day. Not too bad if you weigh 130 pounds, but a little more daunting if you weigh 230. I’ve heard the caution about drinking too much water, but I’m not really worried about that. Unless you have a serious health issue or you’re drinking your entire daily intake at once, your chances of “water poisoning” are pretty slim. I’d guess most of us should be much more concerned about not drinking enough water than about drinking too much.

I’m not a doctor or nutritionist or an expert on water intake. I haven’t done much research and I don’t claim to be an expert. I can tell you that I feel better when I’ve had plenty of water during the day and I don’t feel well at all if I don’t. When I don’t have enough water, I’m sluggish, my head hurts, my skin dries out, and my body and brain don’t respond well.

When I do drink enough, I’m more alert, my digestive system works better, I stay awake better during the day, I feel healthy and refreshed and energetic. I drink plenty of coffee too, but I actually find that water in the morning wakes me up even faster than coffee does, and there’s no such thing as a water crash. And as I mentioned in my post on losing weight, increasing my water intake helped me shed several unwanted pounds.

Drinking water has always been a struggle for me. I don’t mind the taste of water. I just forget to drink it. In the past few months, I have gotten better at it, so I have a few tips to share if you’re like me and don’t usually get enough:

  • Drink water when you wake up. I’ve made drinking water part of my morning routine. It’s one of the first things I do after I get out of bed. I pour a glass, usually about 10 ounces, and drink it all. Then I pour another glass and drink it while I make coffee and breakfast. That way, before I eat anything or even drink my coffee, I’ve already had at least 20 ounces of water. That’s a great start for the day.
  • Put fruit or veggies in your water. I drink my morning water with a wedge of lemon. I usually leave that lemon in my glass all day and refill it periodically. If that sounds weird or gross to you, don’t do it. I find that the lemon keeps the water from tasting stale if it sits for a few hours, and the water keeps the lemon from going bad. I’ve also put strawberries in my water, and I’ve seen restaurants that add cucumbers, cranberries, rhubarb, mint, etc. Be inventive. You never know what you might like until you try it. Personally, I think there is minimal nutritional value in infused water, but it tastes pretty cool. I know there are cute little infusers out there, and you can certainly get one of those if you want. Some people put a drop of essential oil in their water, but I’m not convinced of the benefits of ingesting essential oils, so I don’t do it.
  • Drink water before you eat. This is a really useful habit to get into, if you can remember to do it. Try drinking a whole glass of water before you eat even one bite of your meal or take a sip of whatever beverage you’re having with it. I find this helps me feel full faster and not eat as much, in addition to helping me remember to drink more water.
  • Drink only water with meals. I know, right? Boring! This can be hard if you’re like me and feel terrible ordering water at restaurants. I feel so cheap when I do it, but the fact is that soda, sweetened tea, and alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories in addition to costing a lot of money. Maybe skip the soda and order dessert instead. Or a side of fries. Eat your calories, don’t drink them.
  • Monitor your intake. Know how much your favorite glass or water bottle holds, and track what you drink. Write it on a notepad, make a note in your phone, or use an app. Know how much you’re drinking and how that measures up to your goal.
  • Drink with friends. Be accountable. This month in Allie’s 30 Day Challenge on Facebook, we’re drinking water. You don’t have to be in my Facebook group (but you should be!) in order to get a friend or two to join you. We all need water. Let’s drink it together.

What do you think? Let’s talk. Feel free to share any benefits of drinking water that I might have missed, as well as any tips you have for drinking enough of it every day.

On Losing Weight

“Wow, you look great! Are you losing weight? How are you doing it?”

I get this a lot lately. Since June, I’ve lost ten pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life, and obviously it shows enough that people take notice. They want to know my secret. So I thought hey, I have a blog about transformation. I am in the process of transforming my body. It fits. Might as well spill my secret here.

Spoiler alert: There is no secret.

I’m not on a diet, or a magic pill, or an MLM product or service. I am on a journey, which I’ve alluded to in previous posts, but I’ll sum it up for you here.

Four years ago, I was in a funk. I’d had a rough year, gained some weight, dealt with postpartum depression without professional help, and I wasn’t very healthy. I have a chronic disease and an auto-immune disorder, and I just felt bad. I had chronic back pain. Sometimes I would have bouts of digestive problems where it would hurt every time I ate for weeks. I was 34 years old. I didn’t want to keep feeling worse as I got older. I looked at people who were twenty or thirty years older than me who were having trouble with mobility and chronic pain. I didn’t want to be in that position in thirty years. I wanted to be able to move without pain. So I decided to make one change. I decided to exercise.

I had never been into exercise. I’d done a few videos over the years with varying results. I was never disciplined about it and I was pretty outspoken about hating it. I didn’t like being sore. I gave up when it got hard. I was a wimp. But I realized that in order to improve my mobility, I’d have to suck it up and move. I decided to do a one-month daily exercise challenge. It was simple but difficult, and I complained about aching muscles every day. By the end of the month I was starting to see changes in my body, so I decided to stick with it. I got bored and added a few exercises. I found some apps that stretched me further. One of my doctors suggested trying yoga for my back, so I did. At home, with an app. Months passed, and I stuck with it. I gained strength and flexibility. Eventually a friend talked me into taking yoga classes. My back stopped hurting. I had an easier time getting up stairs. I could get through longer and longer workouts, although rarely more than 10-20 minutes. I didn’t lose weight but I looked different. Clothes fit better. I didn’t hate my body. I started being thankful for the way it could support me through my life, and the way I looked in the mirror.

Over the years, I also made small changes in my diet. I saw a round of doctors for the stomach pain, hair loss, and other issues I was experiencing, and they all shrugged and said something was obviously going on, but they couldn’t pinpoint what. Looking back now, I think I just wasn’t healthy. My immune system, which has always been a bit wonky, was trying to respond to fake attacks of stress, sugar, bad diet, bad habits, and who knows what else. One doctor made an offhand suggestion that I try kefir for my stomach pain. I was desperate, and even though I’d tried kefir before and hated it, I tried the brand she suggested in the amount she told me, and a month later, I could eat without pain. A few months more, and my lifelong digestive issues were practically cured. I have never had to deal with that much pain again, and if it starts to pop up, I just drink a shot of kefir every day for a week or so and it goes away again. It’s been amazing.

I like to do research and experiment with different options. Once, just to see how it would go, I went without sugar for a month. I didn’t die, and it really cut my sugar habit by a lot. I added protein supplements and BCAAs to help me power through longer workouts, increase muscle recovery, and reduce soreness. I wanted healthier hair, so I finally agreed to try the Nordic Naturals fish oil my mom kept telling me to take. Small, incremental changes over time led to small, incremental results. I never lost weight, just hovered around the same 150 pounds or so. I’m short, so 150 is technically overweight, but it never bothered me. I just figured that was my adult weight, I’d stay there with my muffin top and my flabby arms forever, and it would be okay.

Then I saw Wonder Woman.

Oh my gosh you guys, that movie is so inspiring. I just love it. It might actually be my favorite movie. She is absolutely my hero. I thought, man, I really want arms like Wonder Woman. I realize I’m about half her height and her arms are probably a foot longer than mine, but I don’t know why, I just thought that level of muscle definition was what I really wanted in my life. I also figured it was impossible. But then a friend of mine, Michelle Mincic, got into a workout routine and started posting pics of her arms and I thought well, if she can do it, maybe I can. So finally, after three years of exercising just because it was a good thing to do and it made me feel good, I had a goal. I wanted those arms. I knew I’d have to work for them, and I decided to do it.

Once I increased my effort, I realized I would have to improve my nutrition. I increased my workout time and started a part time job, and I was struggling with having enough energy to get through the day. At about that time, Robin Coccomo, a Beach Body coach I randomly started following on Facebook, posted about the launch of the 2B Mindset. I decided to check it out. I got my kit and realized, with some embarrassment, that it’s basically a diet. I’ve always refused to go on a diet, except for when I had gestational diabetes and my doctor made me. I don’t believe in fad diets. I do believe in improving my food intake and nutrition, and that does require making changes in my diet, but I still don’t think of myself as being “on a diet.” I didn’t even care if I lost weight. I just wanted to learn how to eat and fuel my body better. I am not the poster child for the 2B Mindset. I read the guide and I follow about half the rules. I don’t track my food. I still haven’t watched all the videos. I still don’t drink enough water or eat enough vegetables. But I drink significantly more water and I eat significantly more vegetables, and I eat less simple carbs and more fiber filled carbs. I eat real food instead of cereal in the morning, to get me through to lunch. I avoid unhealthy snacking. Most of the time, I limit carbs at dinner. The results? Ridiculous. Unexpected. As soon as I changed my diet and started drinking water and weighing myself every day, I started dropping weight. Slowly, but consistently. I also noticed that the more I eat high quality, nutritious food, the more I want to eat it. I’m just as likely to crave vegetables as chips or chocolate.

One more thing: I added cardio. This was painful. I hate cardio so much. I have to get out of the house to do it, and I really don’t like exercising out of my house. I either have to run outside, which I hate, or do cardio machines at the gym, which I also hate. And it hurts. It’s mentally challenging. But I knew I needed to, to increase fat burn and have more visible muscle definition. Because Wonder Woman. So I joined Planet Fitness. When my husband said he was going to start running to train for a 5K, I decided that I would too. That was the final piece. After building a foundation of health for years, changing my diet and adding steady state cardio meant dramatic results. I lost ten pounds in four months. I went from a size 8 at the beginning of the year to a size 4. I had to buy new clothes. And people notice. Frequently. “Dang, girl! You look great!” is something I hear really often now. It’s a little weird, and a little uncomfortable, but I kind of love it. Not because I want to flaunt this fit mama bod I’m rocking these days, but because it proves to me that hard work, commitment, and the ability to make uncomfortable changes really does yield results. In this difficult year of challenges and changes in my life and business goals, it’s good to look in the mirror and see success.

Enough backstory. This is what I’ve been doing to lose weight:

  • I exercise regularly. I try to get in at least 2-3 hours a week. Sometimes I only have time for a 10 minute home workout, sometimes I spend an hour and a half at the gym. I just do whatever works.
  • I drink two glasses of water in the morning when I get up and I try to remember to drink a glass before meals, and sip water throughout the day. My goal is to drink 64-70 ounces a day. I probably hit 40-50 most days. I drink a couple cups of coffee a day and I rarely have soda.
  • I eat some protein and carbs for breakfast; an apple or other high-nutrient snack before lunch; veggies, protein, and carbs at lunch; veggies and protein for dinner. I don’t starve myself or deprive myself of things I like. I eat pizza (sometimes for dinner!), chips, fries, donuts, cookies, candy, and cupcakes. I just eat less of them, less often than I used to. I try to be intentional about loading my diet with fuel food rather than useless calories. I also try to avoid fast food, because I’ve noticed that my body doesn’t seem to recognize it as food for some reason. So unless I really want those empty calories, I just skip them.
  • I supplement with a multivitamin, fish oil, and occasionally protein shakes and BCAAS (I like IdealFit. Here’s a referral link: https://www.idealfit.com/referrals.list?applyCode=ALLISON-RFK)

That’s it. No secret. I just found what works for me, and adjust if it stops working. I really believe that’s the key to weight loss, but more importantly, to good health. Learn your body. Pay attention to what makes it work well and what slows it down. Be willing to make uncomfortable choices and stick with them until you know whether they work or not. I know running works for me, but I don’t like it, so I’m not going to maintain a schedule where I run three times a week. That’s okay. Do what you like, and only do what you don’t if you know there’s a good reason for it. Sometimes that thing you don’t like may become the thing that changes your life, and you might just learn to love it someday.

Transform your mind, transform your body, transform your life.

What about you? What are your fitness favorites? What are your challenges? Let’s have a conversation.

On Butterflies

Follow the butterfly.

This is a life motto of mine. It reminds me to stop, take a breath, enjoy the simple beauty of life, and thank God for his work in nature and the transforming work he’s constantly doing in me. Butterflies, like rainbows, are a sign to me that God hasn’t given up on me yet, so I can take hold of that hope and carry on.

We all know about butterflies, right? The Kindergarten teachers in the school where I work order butterfly kits every spring and the kids get to watch as the ugly little caterpillars go about their business, eat their food, molt a couple times, form a chrysalis, and then, one magical day, spread their wings to fly away. It’s one of the most fascinating processes in nature, perfected in the butterfly. Metamorphosis. Transformation. This land-bound, awkward creature hides itself away in a sort of tomb and becomes something utterly different. Something beautiful. Something that can fly.

The implications are obvious, aren’t they? The same God who invented the idea of metamorphosis can transform our lives, too. We start out simply enough, full of unrealized potential, learning the basic functions of life. We grow, get a little uncomfortable, shed some old habits and form new ones. We get a little better at life but we’re still awkward, land-bound creatures. We start to long for something more, something greater. We want to reach for something that is beyond what we are currently capable of achieving. But something is wrong. No matter how much it struggles, sheds its skin, and grows, a caterpillar will never be able to fly. It has to become something more. And so do we.

The process of transformation is strange, painful, and almost unnatural by outward appearances. In order to transform, a caterpillar has to stop moving, stop eating, stop growing. It retreats into a place of darkness and stillness that lasts for so long, it might as well be a kind of death. I think we miss this important truth sometimes. Growth happens when we move beyond our comfort zones into the unfamiliar. We can learn and grow all our lives, but for true transformation to take place, sometimes we have to stop moving and be still. Something in us might have to die. We might have to give up what we have always been in order to become what we were truly meant to be. How often are we guilty of stopping the process before it is finished? We struggle, we crawl along trying to do life on our own, and all the while God is whispering, “Stop. You can’t do this. I can. Let me.”

Let me be as clear as I can: Humans are powerful creatures. We can accomplish great things. We can transform our minds, our bodies, our lives. We can change the world, in small ways or in great ones. We can help each other. We can be generous and gentle and great. There is one thing we can never do alone. We cannot transform our souls. We are born with small, ugly souls, full of selfish ambition and unhealthy desires. Only the all-powerful God who designed us can transform our souls into something beautiful, something that is free to fly. He gave himself for us so that he could make us new. And it is only through the death of our land-bound souls that we are given the freedom to fly. That is redemption. That is transformation. That is the secret of the butterfly.

Whenever I see a butterfly, I stop for a moment and watch where it goes. When I lose sight of it, I close my eyes to give God thanks for what he has done in me, and renew my commitment to be who he has made me to be. I call it following the butterfly. I challenge you to do it, too.



On October’s Challenge

Can you guess what excites me most about October’s challenge?

If you said, “The fact that September’s challenge is almost over,” you’d be right!

I have HATED running! But I’ve stuck with it, and I think I’m a little better at it than I was a month ago. And I’m a little skinnier, too. My co-workers think I’m on a diet, which is hilarious. So far I’ve managed to run about 2 miles without stopping to walk. We’ll see what happens at the 5K I’m supposed to run next week. I’ll probably send an update about that to my email list, so subscribe if you haven’t yet!

Meanwhile, October starts on Monday, if you can believe that. So, without further ado, here is October’s challenge:

Ok, depending where you are in your fitness journey, you might look at that and think it sounds hard, or you might think “it’s a piece of cake and I’d like an actual piece of cake with it, please.” As usual, I let you pick your level, so if you’re more advanced and want to double or even triple the daily workouts, great. If you’re a total beginner and are capable of doing even one squat or lunge, great! If you need a little help with the “how to” of doing these moves, my new buddy Jared at Tone & Tighten has some great videos and instructions for the challenge here. I emailed him to ask about using this challenge and he has been so nice! He even gave me a free 5K training plan and some running stretches. As a bonus, if you check out the products and resources he has available at toneandtightenstore.com, you can get a 50% discount with the code ALLIE30DAY.

This is definitely my favorite kind of exercise challenge. I love squats. They are absolutely my favorite move. Lunges are one of my least favorite, so I especially love the fact that it breaks the moves up into two days. That way, it’s less monotonous than doing the same thing every day, and we only have to do lunges every other day. Also… THERE ARE REST DAYS! I love rest days. I will post daily assignments in my Facebook group, Allie’s 30 Day Challenge, so be sure and join if you haven’t already!

As I mentioned above, I am NOT on a diet. I HATE diets and I refuse to do them. I have subscribed to an “eating plan” that some people might call a diet, but it really just focuses on drinking more water, eating more vegetables, eating less sugar, and avoiding carbs at dinner. I also take a few supplements, like a multivitamin and fish oil. I would love to fully fuel my body with just my diet, and I believe that is possible without adding pills or powders, but I also don’t think those things are harmful in moderation. A year or so ago, I increased my workout load and found that I needed a little extra power to get through it, so I started using protein powder and BCAAs. That really helped out with my energy level, endurance, and muscle recovery (think harder workouts with less soreness the next day – WIN!). If you’re interested in the products I use, there is more info here: idealfit.com. Although I am not an IdealFit affiliate (yet!), this is a referral link, so if you use it you’ll get a discount and I should get a bonus, too.

If you have any questions or concerns about this challenge, you can leave a comment or contact me directly. Let’s rock October!

This post contains affiliate links. If you follow the links and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.

On Prepping Freezer Meals

This article includes affiliate links. I think. If they work, and you click them and buy something, I might make a little money. I’ve never done this before so I don’t know for sure.

A few weeks ago, Marie McGinnis posted in a FB group I’m in, asking for bloggers to make some meals and review her book, A Busy Mom’s Simple Guide to Freezer Meals: How to Get 20 Healthy Dinners Ready in Just a Few Hours. I love the concept of freezer meals, but I hate the planning part, so I accepted the challenge and called my friend Carrie to prep with me. We got our supplies together and met up on a Sunday evening. While Aaron Rodgers came back from an injured leg to win a ridiculous game (Al Michaels was stunned), Carrie and I laughed and rushed and improvised our way through the instructions and ended the evening with seven freezer meals prepped and ready to go. Here’s how it went…

First, on the book. Marie’s instructions are clear and concise. There are two ten-meal “bundles” that are each intended to be prepped all at once. She includes a shopping list for ingredients, a handy butcher page if you are able to have your meat cut to order, detailed assembly instructions for each meal, plus a recipe page with a picture to keep with the meal. There are additional resources following the recipes, such as side item ideas, suggestions for having meal prep parties, and a chart with cooking times and additional ingredients needed for each meal. I highly recommend reading the entire book (about 60 pages total) before starting. If I had, Carrie and I might have had fewer mishaps during our prep time and ended up with ten meals prepared instead of seven.

So, here’s what we did and what we could have done better. Carrie very kindly offered to buy all the groceries and I paid her for my half. I think that’s a really easy, convenient way to get that done. We also could have split things up and it would have been fine too. We had some issues with the meat. If you can use the butcher page and get everything cut to order, that would really be ideal. Or else buy fresh meat and hope your helper doesn’t put it in the freezer when they put groceries away. Our meat was frozen, and we were worried about letting it thaw enough to work with and then freezing it again, which is why we ended up skipping two of the meals. I looked frozen meat up later and discovered that according to the USDA, it is not harmful to thaw raw meat and then freeze it again. It may lose some quality due to moisture loss, but if you have to do it, it’s okay. You can also thaw meat, cook it, and then freeze it again. Just in case you’re wondering.

Because of some unforeseen scheduling delays, we started prepping at about 7:30 on Sunday evening. I thought it would take maybe two hours at the most. I was wrong. It took about four hours, and we probably could have taken five pretty easily. I’d suggest planning about half an hour per meal. Some won’t take that long, but by the time you get set up, prep all the meals, and clean up, it will probably take about five hours total. Next time, we’ll plan for a whole afternoon.

Even with all the issues and errors we had (Carrie joked later that we could write a whole book on how NOT to make freezer meals), we had a lot of fun, and we’ll probably do it again. Even though it’s a lot of work up front, it’s really nice to know that I have a whole bunch of meals ready to just put in the crock pot and cook all day. I’ll post a full review of the book when I’ve eaten more of the meals, but so far the ones I’ve had are pretty good.

As an extra bonus, I got to meet Marie in person last week and have coffee. She’s a busy mom of two young kids, like I am, and it was nice to enjoy some coffee and adult conversation. We talked food, kids, and the challenges and blessings of making money from home. I was really impressed with her and her book. If you’d like to see if a freezer meal prep day is a good plan for you, I recommend checking it out.