Thoughts on gaining and losing, POST 1.

Hi. My name is Lauren & I am having woman problems. Don’t you love it when you wake up one day & realize that you are not a skinny as you use to be? It starts slow. First you see a couple of extra lbs. on the scale. Not too big of a deal…water weight fluctuation, right? Then it’s five pound (I can lose that easy)…then 10…then, there you are sitting in a meeting, unable to focus because all you want to do it undo the top button of your pant. It’s maddening. It can send the best of us into a deep depression. You want to buy new clothes…but that means you’ve given up. Right? You no longer have the expectation of being in the body that you once had. You feel like a totally different person walking down the street. For me, self-esteem took a blow to the chest.

For me, 15 pounds is too much. I want my life back & I intend to do everything in my power to make that happen. This weight gain happened slowly – about half a pound per week over the last seven months. I am not looking for a quick fix. I plan on making small changes in behavior that will lead to long-term weight loss success via these lifestyle changes – slow on, slow off. I have already started making changes. I am 71 days off caffeine (this was hard, but my body is thanking me now) – which has lead to a dramatic increase in water intake. I have also started closely monitoring my activity level – making an intentional effort to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. And trust me…it is intentional. When you have a desk job, like me, I need an extra 5K a day to get in all of the steps.

The crux of my weight gain has everything to do with food! Bodies are made in the kitchen, right? I have the hardest time monitoring my caloric intake. I have a nasty habit of saying, “Oh, I can eat this. I’ll start watching my calories TOMORROW.” It’s always tomorrow. This will be the biggest habit change of all…self-control.

To kick off this weight loss journey I have done a couple of things.

  1. Enlisted the help of the Lose It app on my iPhone.
    1. To lose half a pound a week, my net caloric intake must not exceed 1,733.
    2. Losing half a pound a week, it will take me 31 weeks to reach my goal.
  2. Fitbit & Fitbit App – this little device is great for tracking your activity throughout the day. I can sync it with my Lose It app for a comprehensive look at my calories in vs. out.
  3. My new secret weapons, Plexus Slim & Accelerator. I found these gems through a friend on Facebook who has had MAJOR success with the products – losing weight & inches & gaining a ton of energy. I was skeptical at first, but after about a month of thinking about it, I decided to take the 7 day challenge & lost 2 pounds! Message me if you want more information on these amazing products!

A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. Today is mine. When will you take yours?

Plexus Slim

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Fruit Tea à la Nashville, Tennessee

Fruit tea is delicious. If you have ever been to Nashville, you know that there are certain places you can get a special kind of fruit tea. It’s like a minty juice-tea hybrid, and it rules. As luck would have it, I ended up with ingredients in my house that I thought, if combined, would make a similarly delicious fruit tea. The results were pretty fab. Here it is:

Makes 2 cups of tea

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tazo® Zen Green Tea with Lemongrass and Spearmint K-Cup or Tea Bag (Having spearmint is an important part of the fruit tea equation)
  • Orange, Pineapple and Banana or Orange Pineapple Juice (I used Dole®)
  • Ice
  • 2 spoonfuls of sugar (Also an important part of the equation, because well, it’s the South)

Instructions:

  1. Brew tea either in your Keurig or 8 oz. of hot water. Brew in a 2-cup measuring cup.
  2.  Add 2 spoonfuls of sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add ice cubes until tea is at 1 ¾ cup line. Stir until ice cubes are mostly melted and tea is relatively cold.
  4. Fill with juice up to the 2 cup mark.
  5. Pour into cup(s) and add more ice then DRINK UP!

Yum!

 

New Skills: Watercolor

Something I have wanted to do for a long time is learn how to paint. At this point in my life, I am particularly drawn to the ethereal aesthetic properties of watercolor. There is something moving about it. Perhaps it’s the way the colors effortlessly flow across the page before stopping to collect themselves towards towards the bottom? The colors have minds and messages of their own – and those messages will be delivered.

I also like the idea of having original works of art…even if I have to paint them myself.

Now, I am certainly not the expert – as you can plainly see from my first attempts below – but I have learned something new with piece.

To begin this endevor, I had to purchase some supplies. I opted to buy a set. The set included ten tubes of watercolor paint, a #6 round brush, and a small mixing tray. In addition to the set, I purchased a #000 brush (for fine lines), a 1/4 inch square tip brush, and 12 sheets of 140 lb. paper.

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Project One: Laurel, Linden, Hyacinth

I have been absolutely obsessed with creating something to represent Jamesdotter. My middle sister, Lindsey, inspired my when she asked me to make a linden tree for her using my super-awesome logo making skills. This got me thinking of ways to create something that would include all of my sisters.

I knew I would use the laurel branch for myself & use the linden tree for Lindsey – but I was completely stumped on what to use to represent my youngest sister, Jacey. As far as I’m concerned, the name Jacey was made up by parents using the first letter of each of their names…J & C – something I realized when I was 20 after I saw a “J & C” with a heart around it in the sand during a family beach vacation.

Everything changed when I casually mentioned this idea to my mom. She told me that the hyacinth was the flower that represented Jacey’s name. I immediately did a web search on the flower & instantly became excited because the flower is so beautiful (side note: I planted some in my front yard after discovering them…due spring 2014). The below image was my first attempt at painting the three icons.

My favorite, by far, is the linden tree.

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Project Two: Bringing Laurel, Linden, Hyacinth together

After my first attempt, I decided to watch a couple of tutorials on YouTube. Some things that I learned include: dry brush technique (using watercolor on a dry canvas), wet brush technique (using watercolor on a wet canvas), and that using pure black paint is frowned upon in watercolor. Instead, if you need to use some type of black in a painting, it’s better to mix equal amounts of colors from opposite sides of the color wheel…red & green, blue & orange, yellow & violet.

I really like the look of a laurel wreath and wanted to incorporate this into the design. Below is the final project…and I am pretty happy with the way it turned out.

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Project Three: Portrait

Project three wasn’t planned. It happened on the back of a piece of practice paper with left over watercolors from project two. The paint is so expensive. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. Needless to say, my portrait work could stand some improvement, but I had a good time taking a stab at it. My sister pointed out that she has a mustache and it evokes memories of “Old Greg” for another one of my friends. I, personally, think there is something mysterious about her. Maybe the next Mona Lisa?

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Project Four: Portrait

After project three, I felt a strong need to learn how to do a more natural flesh tone. I again took to the internet for advice and decided the best way to approach this was using a very diluted mix of two colors: permanent rose & raw sienna. The original inspiration for the piece was a photo of my daughter taken at my sisters wedding over the summer, but my lack of knowledge on how to paint natural looking hair and expressions led to the painting you see below. Still good, – but very novice. That said, there is something very peaceful about her. Maybe it’s the fact that she doesn’t have any fine lines or wrinkles. Only someone completely at peace could achieve that look.

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Daily Steps Challenge: Week One Results

Weekly Steps 9.08 - 9.14

This week my goal was to walk 50,890 steps over a period of 7 day, increasing my steps 10% over my baseline. Well, my friends…this was obviously too easy because I surpassed my goal by 3,888 steps! This is great, but it makes me a little nervous for next week. On another note, I have really enjoyed the using the Fitbit Flex for this challenge. It’s a constant reminder to get up and walk as often as I can.

Here are a few easy changes I made to get in extra steps:

  • Park in the spot furthest away from the door
  • “Accidentally” forget things in the car, thus forcing myself to walk back and get them
  • Short walks whenever I could get them in. The weather in Texas is finally starting to get nice – so hopefully outdoor walks can become more regular.

Goal: To walk 10% more steps that the previous week until I am walking 10,000 steps or more everyday.

Week two, I must walk an average of 8,607 steps a day (60,249 for the whole week). 

 

Daily Steps Challenge – An Overview

Daily Steps Challenge: Goal 10K  Steps A Day

Daily Steps Week One Average: 6,609

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  -Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu

I have a tendency to be a little over-ambitious when it comes to things like working out. For some reason, my mind thinks I can go from the couch to running a half-marathon with very minimal training in between…I’m not sure why. This method has never been very successful for me in the past & to be brutally honest, I don’t think I have EVER been able to one mile without stopping to catch my breath. Training usually stops after the first couple of days.

Back in July, I was on a fitness kick again when I purchased a Fitbit Flex – I flexible wristband that tracks your steps through out the day. I didn’t really have any specific plans on how I was going to use it, but it ended up giving me some good information on how active I am throughout the day – which is not very active. On average, I am only walking about 46,000 steps a week…that’s only 6,500 a day! No wonder I can’t run a mile!! Ha!

I have decided to use this little device to my advantage & set small, achievable fitness goals for myself.

Goal One: To walk 10% more steps that the previous week until I am walking 10,000 steps or more everyday.

Week one, I must walk an average of 7,270 steps a day. 

 

Cafe Americano

Cafe Americano, www.jamesdotter.com

Cafe Americano

 

My name is Lauren, and I am a coffee addict. I am actually okay with this. I love the aroma & flavor of a fresh cup of black coffee. In the early hours of the morning, there is nothing better than getting my hands on a piping hot cup of joe.

Many mornings I am a slave to the Starbuck drive though next to my house, but there is something truly satisfying about making my morning Americano with my own know-how & two hands. The below recipe makes two 16 oz containers – great for Monday mornings – when I need a double dose!

Cafe Americano

  • 3 tablespoons of espresso beans, ground (I use Starbucks Dark Espresso Roast)
  • 1 1/4 cups of cold water (for the coffee maker)
  • 3 3/4 cups of water, boiled on stove
  • 2, 16 oz hot beverage containers (I use Thermos Brand – and I love them! They keep my coffee hot all day!)
  1. In an automatic coffee maker, brew the espresso bean – this yields about a cup of finished espresso.
  2. Pour 1/2 a cup of espresso into each container.
  3. Fill the remaining space in each container with boiling water.
  4. Done! Make sure you let the coffee cool off before drinking, it is very hot!

 

 

Raspberry & Ginger Smoothie

Raspberry & Ginger Smoothie, www.jamesdotter.com

Raspberry & Ginger Smoothie

Earlier this year I did a 30 day smoothie challenge through Young and Raw. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t make it through the whole 30 days, but I did find some awesome recipes that I still continue to enjoy. The Raspberry & Ginger smoothie works for me because I keep most of the ingredients on hand. Also – this recipe is 4 year old & husband approved, which isn’t always the case at my house. 🙂

This smoothie is adapted from Young and Raw’s, Warming Blueberry & Ginger smoothie (also good).

The Raspberry & Ginger Smoothie

  • 1 cup of frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 cup of coconut water (I only use Harmless Harvest 100% raw coconut water)
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

Add all ingredients to a blender & blend*.

*If you have a high-power blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) you should only have to blend for about 45-60 seconds. If you are using a standard blender (total fine), you will need to blend longer & may need to add some water.

Enjoy!