My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 59 Pizza

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 59
229. What do you like on your pizza?

After the events of this week, I am very grateful for this rather “easy” topic for today.

My favorite pizza is thin crusted, light sauce, ground beef, black olive and pineapple.  YES, I am one of those people that likes pineapple on her pizza.
Although this is my favorite pizza, being that we are trying to eat a keto diet, I can no longer have pineapple on my pizza.  Oh, wait a minute… on a keto diet I cannot have pizza at all because of the crust (shhhh… don’t tell, but we’ve had “real” pizza a few times since we started eating keto.  I did order it without pineapple though.. not that this really helps much with the carb count, but it made me feel better about eating it).

20190223_074353.jpgI have actually never been a big pizza person.  When I was younger and through my teenage years, I didn’t even really like pizza.  Crazy huh?  What teenager doesn’t like pizza??  Anyway, over the years, I grew to like it, but it is not something that I crave or desire on a regular basis.  But let me tell you, when you are “not allowed” something in your diet, for some reason all of a sudden you crave it regardless of how much you really like it.  I guess it’s a mental thing… you know, one of those “we always want what we can’t have” type of deals.

So, I had to figure out a way that we could eat pizza while still staying low carb and stay on our keto eating plan.  After doing some investigation and watching MANY keto eating YouTube videos, I found the fathead dough recipe.  BINGO!!  This was going to be great.  Now we could eat pizza and still stay on plan.  So, let me first say that you have to keep in mind when eating this that it is NOT real dough.  If you go into this thinking it is going to taste like actual pizza crust, you will be disappointed.  For us however, having gone months and months without any type of bread or crust, this ended up being AMAZING!

Fathead pizza dough is made of just cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and almond flour.  That’s it.  You melt, mix and combined until it has the texture of dough.  Then you bake it, add your toppings and put it back in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted and the toppings are hot and ta-da!  It’s not pizza night.

I still don’t get my pineapple, but I have made both pepperoni and ground beef and olive “keto” pizza and it was pretty fabulous if I don’t say so myself.  🙂

 

 

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 14

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365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 14
368. What is your worst habit?

So this made me chuckle.  What is your worst habit?  It makes the assumption that I just have one!  I have many “worst” habits that are all equally as bad.  I was able to narrow it down to what I believe are my top 3 worst habits.

Impulse buying
I have a terrible habit of shopping on impulse.  I don’t usually take the time to think through a purchase.  If I want something, I just buy it.  Or should I say charge it.  I’m not a “large ticket” purchaser, but believe me, the little things add up just as quickly.  When I was in my twenties, I honestly think that I spent more time at the mall then I did at home.  I would buy bags and bags of clothes and shoes.  Half of which would hang in my closet and never be worn and eventually would end up in a charity bag with the tags still on them.  I also have a tendency to get interested in some type of hobby and have to buy not just the staple supplies to get started, but end up buying way more then needed.  These items would most often then not, end up in a box because I would either be to busy or would have lost interest in doing the specific hobby.  So just like the cloths, the majority of what I purchased would either be given away or thrown away.
This bad habit has had many adverse consequences.  First, it has kept me in a constant state of debt, which I am working on reducing in 2019.  Second, it has been a huge factor in the overwhelming amount of clutter and items that I am now trying to de-clutter from my home and life.

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Stress eating
Stress eating is a bad habit that I am having a difficult time overcoming.  Work is where I seem to have the hardest time with this.  There are two obvious reasons for this.  One is that work is where I usually encounter my greatest amount of stress.  Between the pressures of work load and the stresses of regular work “drama”, I often find myself having the hardest time keeping away from all the junk food that is always around.  There is an open area table at my work where people are always putting food out.  Snack type food.  Nothing healthy of course.  I have to walk by this table every time I need to go to the printer.  When I’m having an exceptionally stressful day, this is torture!  I just want to grab all the candy or cookies and shove them all in my mouth.

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My inability to say NO!
I have a terrible habit of not being able to say no!  When it comes to social situations or work tasks, I have a really hard time saying no to anything that is asked of me.  I tend to hold an extreme amount of guilt when/if I actually do say no to anything.  Which is why I just find it easier to say yes all of the time.
At work, my workload is already over the top.  I am always behind and yet when someone needs something done, I always agree to do it.  I usually end up cursing myself later, but in the moment, I automatically say “Oh sure.  No problem!”.  WHAT?  Of course it’s a problem.  I could probably work 24 hours a day for 6 months straight and still not get done with all the work that is already backlogged on my desk.  Yet, there I go again… taking on more.
Social situations tend to be tough for me as well.  Sometimes I am just exhausted and really need a break.  Yet, I am always saying yes to going places and doing things.  Even if inside I’m beating myself up because I really just want to stay in my PJs and lay on the couch all day and recompress.

Breaking bad habits can be incredibly challenging.  All three of the habits I mentioned here are ones that I am really trying hard to reduce if not eliminate in 2019.  Being accountable and conscious of our bad habits is the first step in trying to break them.

“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us.  We become what we repeatedly do”.  -Sean Covey

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 12

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 12
59. In the next year I plan to…..

Oh my goodness…. I have some pretty ambitious plans for 2019.  I guess this probably happens to a lot of people.  The desire to make life changes often happen in January.  That fresh start of the New Year can make us want to reevaluate a variety of different aspects of our lives.  I’ve never really been much into New Years Resolutions.  I cannot recall every saying “My New Years Resolution is…..”.  The areas in which I have made my 2019 plans are pretty much just carry over of changes I started in 2018.  I have just got more specific with what I want and how I want to accomplish things.

Plan #1:  Work on Simplifying life (non-extreme minimalism)
This plan is already in full swing.  I have become disillusioned with “things”.  Those feelings of desire to buy more and more things and have drawers full of makeup and closest smashed so full of clothing that you barely can even tell what you have are becoming a thing of the past for me.  I wish I could say I made a magical transformation overnight and that I never want to buy anything ever again, but of course, that would be a lie.  What I am trying to do is be more conscious of the things I have and not impulse buy so much.  At the end of 2019, I don’t want to end up with shelves full of unused hobby supplies or random gadgets that I’ve never touched.  So this sort of accomplishes two of my 2019 plans.  This will help eliminate clutter and help me life a simpler life, but will also keep my wasteful spending under control so that I can focus on paying off debt.
As I mentioned, this plan is already underway.  24 days ago I started a 30 day minimalist challenge.  I started day 1 back in December by de-cluttering 1 item.  Day 2, I de-cluttered 2 items, and so on.  Today is day 24 and I still EASILY found 24 items to discard.  The goal is to go to day 30 and at the end de-clutter 30 items from your surroundings.  This will be a total of over 400 items gone from your space.  The plan is to do this challenge several more times, focusing on specific areas of the home.  This first challenge was focused on our spare (junk) room.  The 2nd challenge will focus on the bedroom, bathroom and hallway closet.  Challenge 3 will be spent de-cluttering the kitchen for 30 days.  Challenge 4 will be our garage (which is just a holding space for anything that does not fit in the house).  By the end of the year, the plan is to have completed this challenge at least 4 times, which will have eliminated about 1800 items.  These items will either be donated, giving to others we know will use them or if they are garbage, thrown away.
I have other blogs that specifically focus on trying to live more minimal and also show photos and progress of the things I am getting rid of.
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Plan #2: Work on getting out of debt
How beautiful would it be to live debt-free?  I cannot really answer that (maybe some of you can let me know in the comments how wonderful it is and give me encouragement).  I’ve never in my adult life or even my teenage life been debt free.  I got my first credit card when I was 15 and have been in debt ever since.  There has not been one time in my life since I was a child that I have not had numerous credit cards and fairly large balances on each.
I have set into motion this year an actual debt payoff budget plan.  I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos on others that have paid off debt and have gotten some pretty great tips and tricks on living a more frugal life so that I have extra money to put on my debt-snowball.  I’ve just started this a few months ago, so I am still trying to figure out all of the specifics.  I’ve never been one to limit myself on buying things I want.  Even if I had no money (which, lets face it, with all my debt, I rarely have any extra money to buy much of anything), so I would just charge it.  I’ve never put myself on a budget.  As simple as it may sound for most, this is actually a little frightening to me.  I don’t want to restric us from living life and having fun.  In contradiction to this debt payoff plan, I am also a firm believer on “tomorrow is never a guarantee”.   So what I need to do is find that fine line where I can be happy and comfortable with both aspects of living.  I need to try and not go extreme in either direction.

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Plan #3: Spend more time on things I enjoy
Which is what brings me here to this blog.  I enjoy writing.  I like to document my story of life.  The problem is life it self tends to get in the way of doing those things we really enjoy.  We focus so much on doing what “needs” to be done that we don’t do a lot of what we “want” to get done.  Which is what brought me to the 365 day blogging challenge.  If I challenge myself to something, I feel more accountable and am more likely to stick to it.  So far so good, as I’m on day 12 and still really enjoying this!

Plan #4: Project Life/Ali Edwards scrapbook
I have always loved to scrapbook.  Part of that stems from my love of taking pictures.  I’m that person that every knows as the “picture taker”.  I take pictures of everything and at all events.  To me, pictures are memories.  One day I want to look back and be able to look through pictures of all of our adventures and remember fondly the joy they brought to our lives.  My plan for this year is to get back into scrapbooking, but with a different approach.  This “project life” scrapbooking idea attracted my attention when it talked about a more simplified scrapbook process.  I’ve purchased all of the supplies, now it’s just seeing if I can stick to my plan of actually creating these albums this year.  I often get overwhelmed with pictures and get to a point where I don’t know were to start, so I simply don’t start at all.  I am hoping that does not happen again this year.

Plan #5: Travel/Adventures
Due to my wanting to focus on paying off debt this year, I don’t imagine we will go on any extravagant trips this year.  I am hoping however to have some fun weekend getaways or even day trips.  We have our week long trip to Vegas later in the year but have nothing else really planned out yet.  We have not been camping in a while, so I would be happy planning a camping trip for this summer.

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So I guess that’s about it for my 2019 plans.  Maybe a little over ambitious to hope that I will have time to complete all of my forecasted plans.  But that’s okay.  I will just have to do my best!

Christmas: Eating, Shopping, Family, Friends and Reflections

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It is amazing to me how quickly time goes by.  I will never forget when I was in my early 20’s, I had a coworker tell me that as you get older, time goes by faster.  I didn’t really understand that they meant at the time, but for some reason it stuck with me.  Well, I COMPLETELY understand now.  I had all good intentions of writing about my holidays while they were actually happening, but look at me… over 2 weeks after Christmas, just now sitting down to reflect.

Like the majority of holidays, being that “infertile” one with no children is always a struggle.  It is sad to say, but it does not get easier as I age.  I’ve just figured out ways over the years to mask or squash the random stabs of pain that it brings.  It is not a constant pain, but there are definitely triggers.  The triggers are usually the same year-to-year, so at least I am fully prepared to anticipate them coming.  What are some of my triggers?  Social media is a tough one for me around the holidays.  Posts suggesting that the greatest joys in life come from celebrating Christmas through the eyes of your child, or suggesting that Christmas is so much better when you have children to celebrate with.  Even all of the family picture posts showing the parents and kids around the tree can trigger emotions of sadness.  Emotions that you never express of course, because that would make people think you are not happy for them or their families.  I was actually accused one time of making others feel they could not share or discuss anything about their children around me, because of my reactions of not having children of my own.  That was devastating and so I no longer tell anyone about any of the feelings I am experiencing, just in fear that I will once again be accused of being the Grinch that hates children.

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This year was a pretty typical holiday season or us.  We spent a good deal of the season in the car driving to one location or another to celebrate with a variety of family.  We joke every year that “next year” we are NOT doing this and we are going to run away and escape to a tropical island and just celebrate the holidays alone.  Of course, we have yet to do that… but I must admit, each year it gets more and more tempting.

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We started off the season with our 2nd annual Gingerbread House and Cookie decorating party.  If nothing else, I do enjoy coordinating parties, so that was fun and exciting for me.  We had a total of 5 little ones (and their parents and grandparents) over to destroy the house with icing and candy sprinkles.  But yes, we loved every minute of it.  We even got a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus!  Not to brag, but I have the honor of being the daughter of this famous couple.

As is a custom in our household, I did all the shopping and Don did all of the wrapping.  Which is totally fine by me, because I not only dislike wrapping, I’m also rather bad at it.  I think I got the easy end of the deal this year, since I did 98% of my shopping on line.  I LOVE AMAZON.  I used to be such a mall rat.  I could spend hours upon hours on a weekend at the mall.  Now I despise it.  I hate dealing with the parking, the crowds and frankly I do not like having to wander around to find what I’m looking for.  It is much easier to just google where I can buy it online and be done with it.  I was so excited this year because we were able to do our FIRST EVER DEBT FREE CHRISTMAS!  Due to a 52 week money savings challenge that I started the first week of January 2018 and some other savings we had, we were able to pay CASH for everything.  Including everything for the Gingerbread House/Cookie decorating party.  Not only was our Christmas debt free, but we also downsized our purchasing a significant amount.  I had a budget and we stuck to it.  We also spoke with my parents and explained how we just don’t need anything, so we all agreed that we would just pick a day and all go someplace together verse buying gifts.  I think we are all starting to realize that time together is way more valuable then monetary gifts.

One of the things that Don and I enjoy doing every Christmas season (I believe this was our 6th year) is going to the Dickens Fair.  I just love walking in every year to the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and yummy food being prepared by all of the vendors.  It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a trip to good ole’ London.  They have people dressed up in period costumes and Scrooge and all of the ghost are randomly strolling around the fair (A Christmas Carol is my all time favorite Christmas movie).  Don says every year that this will probably be our last time going, but we always end up going back.  Besides, this is the only place I ever get my hot buttered rum.  I can’t miss a year of that!  🙂

Our first official Christmas celebration was on Christmas Eve.  We made the 2 hour drive to spend the morning with my beautiful godmother, goddaughter and my two godsons.  This is always one of the highlights of my holiday season.  I love these people so much and it always makes my heart happy to be around them.  The boys are growing so fast and I feel like I’ve missed so much with them already, so I am trying to make every minute with them as special as possible.

Christmas Eve night we drove back home and stopped at my parents for Christmas Eve crab dinner.  AMAZING!  The crab on Christmas Eve is becoming a tradition with us.  Shout out to my parents for eliminating the pasta and bread so that we could stay semi-keto for at least this one meal.  We did get our fill of salad and crab though.  🙂
Although we decided on no gifts, we still got a stocking from my parents with some fun treats inside.  I got my season 11 DVD’s of the Big Bang Theory (my favorite show).  I’ve been getting a season of the Big Bang on DVD every year for the past 11 years.  It is going to be very sad when the show ends and I no longer get that one gift I can always count on.

Christmas day we woke up and drove the hour and a half to spend the morning/afternoon with Don’s daughter and family.  Don’s mom was there as well, so we had most of the family together.  Unfortunately, Don’s son was sick so the whole family was not able to participate in the celebration (we still have their gifts in our living room… cannot wait to pick a time to get together so we can get those delivered and have that section of our living room back).
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The weekend following Christmas we had our annual get together with my cousin, husband and kids.  Theo, my godson is not exactly a “kid” anymore.  I cannot believe these boys are 13 and 16 years old already.  Uggg…  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. TIME GOES WAY TO FAST!!!  We love getting together with these guys.  We always have such a good time.  And BONUS, they drove to us!  We didn’t have to get back in the car for more traveling.

In between all of the get together we both had to continue working.  Neither of us had any vacation time, so except for the actual holidays, we worked.  So that was fun going back to work the day after Christmas.  And even funnier to work New Years Eve, get New Years Day off and then return to work the next day (of course, that was said with sarcasm).

As for our weigh loss journey during the holiday season?  Being fully accountable and transparent…. it was not as great as it could have been.  Prior to the holidays, we were both down almost 20 pounds each.  I gained back 6 of that 20.  Don gained back 11 of that 20.  Getting back on track as of the 1st, I have lost only 2 pounds of the 6 I gained back.  Don has lost 6!  Really???  What is it about men that make them lose weigh faster?  So very frustrating.

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Overall, I would have to say we had a successful holiday season.  Am I glad it is over?  Frankly, yes.  Will I be excited by November to do this all over again?  Yes… of course I will.

 

2019 Challenges

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As the new year approaches, it is time for many to start gathering their New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m not a fan of resolutions.  Mainly because I never seem to be able to keep them going for an entire year.  This year I have decided that instead of generic resolutions like, “I will lose weight” or “I will pay off debt”, I am going to give myself more specific challenges that will keep me more accountable week-by-week.  I tend to do better with things if I see progress being made.  Generic resolutions like “I will lose 20 pounds this year”, don’t and won’t work for me.  Smaller challenges however, where I can see progress throughout the weeks and months, make it more of a game and help keep me on track.

52 Week Money Savings Challenge

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This is one challenge that I started in 2018 and one that I actually completed (well, minus a few missing weeks).  First let me say that I am not at all a good saver.  When I have money, I spend money.  I am trying to change many aspects of that sentence.  I want to save more, and I also want to spend less in 2019, so to start, I am going to challenge myself to another 52 week money challenge.  For those that have never seen this challenge, you basically start the first week of the year by saving $1.00.  Week two, you save $2,00.  Week three, you save $3.00… and so on and so on.  In 2018, I used this as my Christmas savings fund.  Although it did not cover my complete Christmas spending budget, it did cover a huge portion of it, which meant for the first time in my entire adult life (no joke here), I was able to have a DEBT FREE CHRISTMAS!!  As you can see from the photo above, I was able to save $1318.00 in 2018 just by completing this challenge.  Just as a side note, I do find that this challenge is easier if you do not follow it week by week.  There were weeks when I found I had a little more money than other weeks, so on those weeks, I would jump to the $40.00-$50.00 savings.  On the weeks when things were tight, I would just stick with the $10.00-$20.00 savings.  That is why there are red check marks by the different weeks.  Each week as I would transfer money from my checking to my savings, I would just simple check off whatever amount I was transferring that week.

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30 Day Minimalist Challenge

This 30 day Minimalist Challenge is rather simple in concept.  It is rather similar to the savings challenge.  The basics are that on day one of the challenge, you get rid of 1 item.  On day two, you get rid of 2 items.  Day three, 3 items.  This goes on for 30 days until on the last day, you get rid of 30 items.  This will equal 465 items being purged within those 30 days (either donated, recycled or thrown out if it is just clearly junk).  I will be the first to admit this sounds a little overwhelming.  However, I’ve already started the process (detailed blog to follow) and I find that I have SO MUCH STUFF that this is not as difficult a task as I expected.  Keeping in mind that the items that I am letting go of do not have to be large items.  As an example, for the first week of my “purge” challenge, I focused on my makeup area.  I can honestly say that I could probably do a full 30 day minimalist challenge on JUST my makeup and toiletries alone.  Between all of the old makeup that I have held on to (for what reason I do not know) and all the little samples and things we tend to accumulate, I have easily been able to find my daily items the first week of this challenge.

I discussed my need to try and explore the minimalist lifestyle in a previous blog.  My desire to live a more balanced life without so much “stuff” surrounding me has been calling to me for some time now.  As I’ve gotten older, I notice that having “things” is not as important to me anymore.  Honestly, having “to many things” causes me stress and anxiety.  I by no means will ever reach the level of extreme minimalist.  I do still love having my hobbies and purchasing clothing, but I will just be cutting back on both of these purchases in the upcoming year to only what I need- instead of binge buying (this will also help me in my goal of getting out of debt, which is a whole topic in itself).  My main goal now is purging all of the overwhelming amount of unneeded and unnecessary items we have in our home.  With less stuff comes a simpler life.  That’s all I am really looking for.  Just to live a simpler more productive life doing the things I enjoy. I would like for 2019 to give me more experiences, rather than “things”.  I believe this challenge will help get me where I want to be.

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My 365 Day Blog Challenge

Now this challenging is really going to be a challenge.  🙂   One might wonder why would someone challenge themselves to something that is so extreme?  I guess the best explanation is that I simply love to write.  Writing is both calming and therapeutic for me. I feel my brain is a little less cluttered every time I take a minute to put down into words all the things that are floating around inside my head.  Let’s face it, life is just busy.  I truly believe we tend to take ourselves for granted because we are so busy just trying to get through the day, week, month.  Many of the things we really enjoy doing often take a back seat to work, running errands, cleaning the house and the numerous other things that take up the waking hours of our day.  This is my way of trying to make myself take the time each day to sit down and do something I enjoy.  I found this wonderful list of journal prompts one day and the thought kind of sprung into my head that I could use these as prompts to do a daily blog!  So as the idea rolled around in my brain, I decided that I would give it a try by using one of those random number generator websites and each morning, whatever number it provides, that is the corresponding prompt I will use for that day.  I won’t give up my other blog posts about travel, our debt-free journey, weight loss journey and the minimalist lifestyle.  This is just an experiment to myself to see if I will allow myself the time to do something for me.

 

So, those are my 3 main challenges for 2019.
There are of course various other things that I am challenging myself to this year as well, such as:
1.) Working on getting out of debt
2.) Continuing my weight loss journey through Lazy Keto eating
3.) Starting an exercise routine (and sticking to it)
4.) Improving my work environment

I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I am excited to see what direction 2019 leads me in.
And the journey continues…..

 

Weight Loss in Progress

Let’s face it…. for most, losing weight is a challenge.  Myself included.  I guess I can say that I was fortunate in a way, because I did not start experiencing weight issues until I was in my mid-twenties.  It was at that time that I became very sick.  After almost 6 months of doctors not being able to diagnose what was happening, I FINALLY found a specialist that tested me for Ulcerative Colitis.  BINGO!!  That was what it was.   For the 6 months prior to being diagnosed, I was pretty much on a liquid diet. Eating any type of solid food was just painful and not worth it.  So to have a diagnoses and to know that that I was finally going to get some relief from the pain and discomfort was amazing news (even if it meant having a chronic intestinal disease that I would have to deal with the rest of my life).  By this time, the U.C. was so sever that they had to put me on large doses of medication.  I was taking 20 Prednisone (steroids) a day, as well as 15 Sulfasalazine pills.  After just a few days, I was finally feeling like I could tolerate food again.  And boy, did I tolerate it.  After 6 months of broth and Jello, I shoveled food in my mouth as fast as my hand could get it there.   I gained 20 pounds in less then 2 months.  Between the weight gain associated with the medication, and my overeating, I spiraled from 115 to 135 quickly.  For years my weight just continued to climb and at one point in time, I topped out at 180 pounds.

For years, I tried just about every diet and exercise fade I could get my hands on to try and lose the weight.  When my husband and I got together back in 2003 I was down to 150 pounds.  You know how that goes….. happiness overcame desire to watch the weight and for the next 14 years, both my husband and I would gain and lose and gain and lose together.  Together we tried Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and various other “eating” plans with no real results.  A few pound lose here and there, but that was it.  We married last year and prior to that, decided to get a personal trainer to do X-FIT.  We worked hard.  Yet had little movement on the scale.  We definitely were gaining stamina and noticed some small body changes, but frustration really set in when we would be working out 4 or more times a week with the personal trainer (spending a great deal of money, not to mention effort), only to drop just a few pounds.

Which leads us to where we are at today.  In August we decided to start eating Keto (Lazy Keto to be accurate).  Within just a month of eating a Keto diet, we both experienced more weight loss then we had in the months of working out hard and cutting our eating significantly.  Understanding that the first month or so is mostly water loss, we have stuck with it and are so happy with our progress.  We just completed week 12 and I am down 17 pounds and Don is down 15.  Above is a picture that was taken of us back in April.  To the right is a picture of us from this past weekend.  I am finally starting to physically see a difference in the roundness of my face.  I have also dropped a pant size which is very exciting.  It is so motivating when you see results and the Keto way of eating is doing it for us.  Not to mention the fact that you get to eat all sorts of wonderful food.  Keto is a high fat, moderate protein and low carb way of eating, so I get to eat things like butter, meat, cheese, heavy cream and eggs.  We are trying to focus our minds on what we CAN have, verse what we CAN’T have, which has helped.  Changing our way of eating has also allowed me to try new recipes, which I love doing.  We have found so many things that we really enjoy to replace things that we can’t have.  Of course, it’s not all perfect.  I will discuss what we have found to the be the PROs and the CONs of Keto in a future blog.  For now, I am just going to enjoy eating my bacon and eggs with avocado for breakfast!  🙂

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