Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep a budget? Why?

Do you know how often I hear from people how keeping a budget is just too hard, time consuming, tedious, etc?  I hear it over and over again and trust me, there's many things I'd also rather be doing than sitting here once a week or so, organizing my receipts and inputting them into my spreadsheet to remind me how expensive life is.  But I do it, and I have for as long as I can remember (I think even since I was teenager, at least to some extent).
You see, coming from a poor childhood was difficult (which just wouldn't have been the same without food stamps, broken down cars and thrift store clothes.  After all, it made me who I am today; determined, motivated and successful) and I remember like it was yesterday the day I decided to change things to do things differently from my parents.  I remember hearing my parents fight over money time and time again.  As we all know, half (or more) of marriages end in divorce these days, and one of the biggest causes is money.
Most people probably have that proverbial credit card they use for "emergencies" or they use their credit cards for those big expenses and things that are not regular occurrences like vacations, a better car, etc.  After all, this is America where we want it and we want it now, and if we can't afford it, we borrow.  I know creating a budget is a frustrating task and staying on budget is even harder, but it really is important to stick to it. Certainly careful budgeting will improve your overall financial situation, which we all know reduces stress, but one of the best benefits is how keeping a budget can help your marriage.  Getting rid of money arguments leads to less stress on your marriage and a better life overall.
For myself, I go nuts if I'm behind on our budget by more than a few weeks, which does happen occasionally.  I don't sleep well if I don't know where our money is going.  It's too easy to overspend on a $20 item here and a $10 item there and before you know it, you're living outside your means and it's adding up faster than you can pay it off.
Once you get past the tedious task of creating the budget, force yourself to have a plan and a system in place (as much as possible) that allows you to stick to it.  Set aside a certain time each week to catch up your receipts and inputs.  Do it on paper or online, whatever you are comfortable with... just do it.  Once you get it down, you'll be happy you did. You'll rest better, be more at peace, and have a better relationship with your spouse and family.

Do you know how all of your financial pieces of pie fit together?

For the next financial post I'll give you a few tips for staying on the budget you worked so hard to create **smile**

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I don't eat my salad from a bowl, I eat it from a BOWL!

The other night I made a very tasty salad.  A totally self-explanatory, good ol' fashioned salad.  (At least it might seem self-explanatory, except I've learned that sometimes people need to be reminded of the simple things, especially when it comes to their meal plans).  Sometimes meals are so easy that people forget about them, getting caught up instead in making a time-consuming, gourmet dish, which is why I'm going back to the basics this post and pointing out the obvious:  salads are healthy, light, and oh so versatile.  You can add darn near anything to it to make it tasty, or just keep it simple and low-calorie.
Since I have a salad addiction, I never eat them out of our normal bowls, but instead I eat them out of our large mixing bowls because heck, salads are good for you, so why not eat more of it?!?  After all, salads make the perfect healthy "meal!"
In my salad, I put spinach, tomatoes, radishes, carrots, green onions, creamy avocados, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (this amazing product will be yet another post) and balsamic... but not just any balsamic, FLAVORED balsamic, which really made the salad explode with flavor!  However, you'll have to stay tuned for the next post which will be on the flavored balsamics that I found that really made this plain ol' salad delicious!

Eat your salad from a large bowl for a filling, healthy, lite meal!

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Fav New Protein Find!

I'm in love!  With my new fav protein powder!
Those who know me know I am a protein snob.  I absolutely WILL NOT eat anything with fake sugars in it, so sometimes finding a good protein is tough since so many have junk in them.  This protein is darn near flavorless, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, non soy and sans any junk (no fillers, no isolates, no synthetic nutrients, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives, etc)... what more could you ask for?!?
The best part, it's a COMPLETE protein providing 18 grams of protein and all essential amino acids.  It's made up of living grains and seeds that together make the full amino acid chain so it becomes a complete protein.  I can't say I've ever found a protein like this one before.  I have used it in every shake flavor combination I make and you can add it to just about anything to increase your protein intake and the flavor, or lack thereof I should say, is fantastic.
So, raise your glass (of protein shake) to this healthy, organic, raw, nutritious protein powder!
(I bought it at our local Vitamin Cottage, but I'm sure it's sold in most health food stores).
This is a COMPLETE protein with probiotics and is dairy free and vegan! It s the complete package!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tracking Pennies

As I mentioned, I'm going to give tips on everything from health and nutrition to finances and organization.  I truly believe balancing your whole life makes you joyful, or at least, that's what I've found.  I'm going to pass on everything I've learned that's made my life easier, giving me the balance I needed.
For as long as I can remember, I have always kept a budget.  I write down every penny we spend and track it. I used to always keep a little notepad in my purse so I could track literally every cent, but I found that it was always getting beat up, crumpled, dirty, etc.  About 2 years ago found this great little notebook holder that actually held the notebooks I used.  I carry it in my purse so I can document everything.  The notebooks are sold at Target stores, Office Max, etc in 3 packs.  The notebook I got from the Franklin Covey store at my local mall and they had TONS of colors and styles to choose from.  It comes with handy little pen so it's all right there for you.
Of course I also save my receipts, but there are times when I pay cash or don't get a receipt, but I still want to track it so I'm able to write it in the notebook.  Once a week or so I go through my receipts and transfer everything my husband and I spend into the notebook.  I am then able to plug each expense into my monthly budget spreadsheets and cross it off the list to know it's been accounted for.  Once you're all set up with your budget and system, it doesn't take much time out of your week, and it is SO worth it to see where every cent goes, and more importantly, to know you're living WITHIN your means!

Very small and lightweight!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dessert For Breakfast... Cuz' I'm Cravin' A Sweet!

For some reason today I woke up craving a sweet and feeling that low blood sugar jitter a bit (I'm hypoglycemic).  I'm not sure why as I don't usually crave sweets in the morning, but I was today.  I'm thinking maybe I didn't eat enough carbs yesterday, which isn't normally like me, but I got wicked busy and kind of forgot to eat in the afternoon.

It could also be that I'm stressed and things are pretty chaotic these last few days (especially today), which in the past has caused me to binge eat and turn to food for comfort (see my very first post...).  Since I finally decided to not let food comfort and control me but I still wanted a sweet, I made this instead:
1 medium Gala apple sliced with my apple slicer (super handy)
1 tbsp Chocolate PB2
1 tbsp plain coconut milk
I mixed the milk and PB2 and drizzled it over my apple for a low cal, healthy dessert for breakfast!  And yes, I licked the plate **smile**
apple approx 80 calories
milk/PB2 mix approx 25 calorie

Have an apple with PB2 (or chocolate PB2) for a healthy snack/dessert!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grasshopper Supreme Meal Replacement OR Protein Shake (another one to try for dessert!)

Ok, ok, so I know I’m not any genius for adding peppermint to my chocolate shake.  Sometimes people get into a food rut, doing the same boring thing over and over and forget that little additions like a shot of peppermint change up a drab chocolate shake dramatically.  Hence I thought I’d post this and hopefully renew your shake rut today.  **smile**
Tasty dessert alternative:  You can also use just chocolate protein powder (or plain protein with chocolate extract) and peppermint if looking for a lower calorie protein shake only, especially at night for dessert!
Grasshopper Supreme Meal Replacement Shake
Approx 2 cups ice
Approx 2 cups water (or almond, soy or coconut milk, depending on your personal macros)
2 scoops chocolate Isagenix Shake Mix
Approx 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract or to taste
Handful of spinach (because I put spinach in everything and it’s virtuously tasteless and packed with nutrients)
1/2 scoop Isagenix Fiber Pro
(can add unflavored protein if more protein is desired)
Here's the link for the Isagenix shakes, Fiber Pro and the best, purest protein powder I've ever come across:

Try with chocolate protein for another healthy "dessert" idea!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snickerdoodle Surprise (Yep, a protein shake for dessert!)

You don't need to turn to your typical processed, sugar loaded, fattening dessert at night when you're craving something sweet for dessert!  Try a Snickerdoodle Surprise protein shake instead!  It will not squash your weight loss goals, will not make you feel guilty for having a "treat", and will give your body the nutrients it needs to heal through the night after a workout session or long day.
Approx 2 cups ice
1/2 cup Coconut Milk, Almond Milk or Soy Milk (I prefer coconut) for added creaminess
Approx 1 cup water
1 scoop plain or vanilla protein powder (I use a plain, no junk added protein from New Zealand as I do not like any fake sugars)
1 tbsp imitation butter extract (or to taste)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)
15 drops Vanilla Cream Stevia (or to taste)
Blend and enjoy!
(Adjust water and ice to the consistency you like and that works for your blender)
140 calories
26 g protein
7 carbs 

Next time you re craving a sweet dessert, try this instead!

Chocolate Pumpkin Meal Replacement (NOT just a protein shake!)

My favorite to go meal in the morning, dolled up with a little super food and flavor! (I had to use up the rest of my canned pumpkin) And it's high fiber!
Approx 2 cups ice
Approx 1 3/4 cups water
2 scoops chocolate Isagenix shake (a lot of people are asking me about this shake, so see link below for info and/or to purchase)
1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin (I like mine pumpkin y)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or to taste)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1 scoop Isagenix fiber
handful of spinach (optional because it's healthy and pretty much tasteless!)
Only 300 calories : )
Blend and enjoy!

Get Yourself Together Already!

You're body is a temple for God to move through. He designed you and has given you an amazing purpose for your life.
Are you too busy, stressed, tired etc to hear Him telling you what that purpose is? Do you wish to change that and have a spiritual, healthy, peaceful balance and true joy in your life? Are you willing to put in the effort to make the changes necessary to do it? If so, I promise it will be worth it! So come on and GET YOURSELF TOGETHER ALREADY!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yes, I'm Really All Together, And It's About Time!

Lately I've had a lot of people tell me I seem really put together, which I am... for the most part. What they don't know is that I wasn't always this put together. Those who have known me for years know that I used to be this way, back in the day, but I went through some rough patches (okay, REALLY rough patches) which were primarily caused by several injuries that derailed me from the life of my dreams. I was a Firefighter in great shape, a health nut who helped others get healthy. I made great money for my schedule, and owned a home at a young age which was always meticulous and organized. But my injuries took over my life and I went completely off track and couldn't get back on, until recently.
I'm starting this blog because I want to help people get themselves back on track or just on track for that matter. I want to help people rebalance, restore and renew themselves in every aspect of their lives. I would consider myself an expert in the field of roller coaster living. The ups and downs of life took over and I let it. I wallowed in my injuries and the fact I couldn't do the things I used to, or to the same level I used to. I was forced out of my dream job as a Firefighter which caused me to spiral into depression. I think I cried for a year straight. I let my body go, my health go, my house go, my finances go, I even let some of my relationships go... and once I got behind I couldn't catch up again, so I let it go even more.
I met my husband just as this transition was beginning for me. He fell in love with a person who took care of themselves, their home, finances, etc. He fell in love with me and married me and I let him down as I changed into a person he didn't recognize. This went on for at least 6 years. It didn't help that during that time on my roller coaster we moved at least 13 times. Talk about unorganized. I was never able to get settled to even attempt to get myself back, so I let it go even more.
I saw what was going on with myself. My husband saw it and pointed it out numerous times, which just caused heartaches and fights because I knew I was letting him down but couldn't stop it. I knew he deserved more. My best friend saw it and supported me through it. I KNEW what I needed to do, even how to do it, but I couldn't get there. I was so far gone in so many parts of my life, I couldn't focus and pull out of it. It was just easier to procrastinate and let it all pile up. Literally, pile up. In my house, on my thighs, in my heart and even my soul. I was junked out all the way around. I was ugly from the inside because I felt so heavy and burdened. I lost my confidence, was angry, not a very nice person at times, and generally just unhappy. Sure I went through those ups, but they were temporary. I'd lose 10 lbs for a special occasion which made me feel somewhat better about myself, but I still felt bogged down when I came home and looked around and saw a cluttered mess around me. Messy home, messy me. So I'd get anxious and darn near hyperventilate at the clutter and I'd go eat because that made me feel better. Before I knew it I'd gain those 10 pounds plus some back and would be in my next down cycle.
I ended up destroying my body's balance, throwing it into an unhealthy routine of gains and losses, binges and diets. This caused my body and hormones to be so out of whack that I began having severe cravings for carbs and sugars and an appetite I couldn't control. Something was wrong and I knew it, but I couldn't control it. I was also constantly running behind and felt like I never had enough time. I had too many irons in the fire and all these stresses just exhausted me.
I would then go through spells where I could get slightly organized at home which also made me feel great. But I was still out of shape and the finances were still askew. Feeling crummy about myself for my weight made me want to throw up my arms and give up on everything. (I truly think people underestimate how they feel about themselves translates into everything in their lives). I would go play outside doing things I loved instead of facing reality or doing those chores/tasks that were bogging my down. It was just easier to let it go, or only do something as it was absolutely necessary. I never seemed to be able to put all the pieces together to have the true balance I knew I once had and desired once again.
But I also felt myself getting hungry for that balance again. One day I finally decided I was over it. I made the decision right then and there that it was time to get myself back. No more excuses, no more roller coaster. I had all the tools and knowledge so I just had to do it, but I wasn't sure I could do it alone as that plan hadn't worked for me over the last 6 years of trying.
So I asked God to restore me. And He did.
I went with an angry fury through my house purging, organizing, labeling, cleaning, de-cluttering, etc. I found a way to "re-set" my metabolism which got rid of the cravings and binges. I pulled out our old budget that I used to live faithfully by and updated it. I gave God my worries; all the worries that were stressing me out, causing some of the weight gain due to the cortisol shifts within my body...
and I finally took my life back.
I have learned so much through my journey. I study finances, organization, health, nutrition, working out, etc for hours a day, and I have for years because I was looking for that magic pill to make it easy for me. Of course that pill doesn't exist, but once I was restored, all that knowledge has made it possible for me to put myself back together in every aspect of my life. And now I want to share that knowledge with you. All of the tips that got me where I am. Some where just tiny bits of advice where I made one small change that may have led to other small changes. Some of this knowledge was huge and life changing. Some of it is just products I've discovered along the way that I fell in love with. Regardless, I want to share it all and bring balance, restoration and renewal to anyone who needs it, even if it's just in one area of your life. I really believe I have discovered how to find happiness, no, true joy, and that is by finding balance in your life. Once you are balanced, you are peaceful. Once you are peaceful, you can have true joy. And I am finally truly joyful.