Pushing Forward…

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Hi guys! Apologies for being a bit M.I.A….took some much needed R&R with the hubby! :-)

All has been well! Still living, learning, and loving Paleo! Feeling fantastic, fit, and strong! Hubby has been getting to enjoy all the meals I make now and I don’t think he has ever complimented my food so much! Makes my heart happy! ❤ I just LOVE to cook!!!

My PT gave me the clear to try a bit of impact cardio so I gave it a whirl yesterday. My knee was not happy and I was bummed. 😞 I do not do well with having to take steps back. But I will NOT give up; I will keep pushing and persevering through this! Taking some advice from my PT, I plan to try and stay on-top of the pain with Aleve, which seems to help but I don’t want to be taking it always. My sweet friend, Janelle, shared some of her Deep Blue DoTerra Essential Oil with me and I put it on my knee before bed last night and my knee felt amazing this morning! I am all for natural/holistic medicine so hoping it will continue to help so I don’t have to take Aleve everyday.

What helps you push through tough times? I would love to hear some advice on how you work through struggles and/or feeling defeated.

More updates to come! Exciting things happening…

And remember…

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…and through perseverance and determination, we can do anything we set our minds and our hearts to! ❤️

XO,

Val

A Twist on Stupid Easy Paleo’s Holy Guacamole Salad

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Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! :-) I know we sure did! The weather was beautiful and got to enjoy some much needed time with loved ones! Helped throw my friend a bridal shower and made my first cinnamon roll wedding dress ‘cake’ (normally made with cupcakes but I like to take risks and try new things ;-) ), walked in the Leprechaun race downtown with my mom, received a super kind gift from a sweet friend, and enjoyed some much needed R&R at home.

Here are a few pics from the weekend…

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and no, I did not try one of these beauties…but I was told they were delicious! I do love to bake!

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Isn’t my mother adorable?? ♥

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Such an extremely kind gift to receive…meant the world! :-)

We also had an awesome bon-fire BBQ at my dad’s house Saturday evening…

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(Yea…we don’t mess around! :-D )

…and was asked to make a salad. With the incredible weather we had enjoyed that day it totally made me crave something fresh and delicious, as in something you would enjoy at a summer BBQ! I came across this awesomely scrumptious looking salad from Stupid Easy Paleo and decided to use some of the same veggies she recommends for hers and made up my own dressing.

So here is my twist on Stupid Easy Paleo’s Holy-Guacamole Salad…(and seriously, if a priest did bless an avocado, it would be a holy guacamole! Hehehehehe…I know…horribly cheesy joke…gotta love it! :-D )

Prep time: 10 mins  Makes: 5 cups

Salad:

2-large avocados

3-organic cucumbers, skin and seeds removed

1-pint of red grape or little yellow tomatoes, halved

1-yellow bell pepper (or pepper of choice)

½ red onion

2 jalapeno peppers

1 clove of garlic

1 handful of fresh cilantro

Dressing:

¼ cup of olive oil

1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt (or whichever salt you have)

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp dry mustard

2-crushed cloves of garlic

Dash of cayenne

To make:

Cut/dice/chop all veggies and cilantro to your liking and mix together in a large bowl.

For the dressing; add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl, whisk, pour over salad, and ENJOY! *see tip

Tip: I pre-made this salad so I decided to hold-off on adding the avocados and the dressing until I got to my dad’s house. I would almost always recommend making the dressing ahead of time to let the flavors meld together! Just prep, store in an airtight container in your fridge, and dress when ready! So, so tasty!

Luckily, we had some leftover so I finished up the last of the salad yesterday with half of a cooked turkey breast on top! Oh-my-word delicious! The flavors had even MORE time to marinate together and just made the most delicious tasting lunch ever! I was so sad when I looked down to grab another bite and my bowl was empty. :-( Just means I will need to make another soon!

Hope you all enjoy this salad! Totally perfect for a spring picnic or summer BBQ! So fresh, crisp, and delicious! Yummm!

XO,

Val

We can persevere through anything we put our minds and our hearts to. ♥

A Bit of Inspiration

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As I went to get into the pool yesterday, I noticed that there was a chair and a prosthetic leg lying up against it outside of the lane next to me. When I looked down and saw the gentleman swimming, I got choked up and a smile came across my face. It was an absolute amazing thing to witness and I couldn’t get over how incredible of a swimmer he was when all he was able to use was his arms. Isn’t it just so incredibly inspirational to see someone not making any excuses and just getting after what they want to do, regardless of their limitations?

While I was swimming, my mind and body were just racing with positive thoughts and energy. I literally couldn’t stop smiling while I was swimming (which I guess is why my nose had been running all day from all the water I took in ;-) )! It is truly amazing how one person can give off such a vibe that it just sets your whole day right and reminded me that;

WE must do the things WE think WE cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

No matter what! This guy swimming with one leg was a great example of that! Sometimes we may think we can’t do something, get scared, or are unsure of trying something new but I absolute encourage you to just TRY. Even if you fail, you will never have to look back and question, “what if”.

I was unsure about partaking in the Whole30 thinking there was no way I would be able to stick to such a strict way of eating but I completed it and plan to continue on with paleo living. Deciding to dedicate myself to the program, being able to accomplish and see my results after the 30 days, helped open my eyes to not be so scared to try new things. Even if it fails or doesn’t stick at least I know that I will have put 100% of myself and tried.

With this new journey, I know I will make slips and mistakes along the way but I will never give up and I will keep pushing forward. It will forever be a learning experience and I am so excited to see where it all leads.

I encourage you all to…

do-one-thing-that-scares-youTry something that you have been scared try today. And even if you think it is impossible, remember what The Mad Hatter said to Alice;

Only if you believe it is.

Whatever you decide to try, give it a day, then a week, then 30-days, and maybe even a year! Please share with me what you tried or are going to try! I am here to support you and through perseverance, WE can do anything we set our minds and our hearts to!

XO,

Val

Moving Forward after the Whole30

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Nervous, scared, fantastic, apprehensive, excited…a few things I have been feeling since completing the Whole30. And a big question that keeps popping up in my head, where do I go from here? My answer…to continue to move forward with what I have been doing the past 30 days, with a few things added in here and there. As I have said throughout, I really truly feel too amazing not to. :-)

Now when I say with a few things added in, let me explain…

My husband and I went on a date night Friday night (MUCH needed as we had not gone on one in months :-( ) and I was honestly a bit nervous about going to a place that possibly didn’t offer ‘paleo’ approved meals as I absolutely do not like to be a bother or ask people to change things. When we had decided on a restaurant, I looked them up online and decided to call to ask if their chef would be willing to make my meal paleo compliant. The hostess asked the chef and told me it would be no problem and to just let my server know when we sat down. I did as such and the waitress was nice but didn’t really seem to quite understand and told me she would have to charge me a couple extra bucks for the additional veggies instead of mashed potatoes. Found it a little odd but we had a great meal none-the-less and spent the quality time together that we needed to. I decided that after 30 days without wine (which I thoroughly enjoy every now and again) that I was going to enjoy a glass and I DID! :-D Savored every last drop until the moment we got up to leave. I will continue to enjoy my wine but not as an everyday occurrence, of course.

After dinner, for some out-left-field reason, fro-yo just sounded delicious. Found it odd as I really hadn’t had any cravings in the last few weeks and was a bit nervous about trying this now ‘foreign’ food that I had gone without for 30 days (a.k.a dairy). The hubs and I talked about it for a bit and decided to give it a whirl because how was I ever going to know if my body can digest dairy if I don’t try it again.

When we pulled up to the fro-yo shop, it took me a minute to get out of the car. Seriously, I was SO nervous. Reason being that I kind of already knew in the back of my mind that my body wasn’t going to tolerate it but I decided to try it anyways and I am glad I did. I found that I really don’t enjoy fro-yo like I used to and my body CANNOT digest dairy! Oh my word. What a horrible way to end our date night. :-( I was bummed and felt bad for my hubby that he had to spend the rest of the night with me with an awful stomach ache but he was proud of me. Proud that I actually decided to just experiment with it to find that it does not agree with me.

Now, I know that I will probably not go throughout my life without having dairy again. But, if and when I decide to indulge in food that has dairy in it, I will need to determine if it is worth it due to the repercussions I will experience after. (TMI…I know, I know ;-) ) I actually read a blog post the other day that mentioned doing exactly what I stated above…that we have to decide for ourselves if an indulgence is truly worth it and determine if it is going to wreck our path or not. I absolutely agree with this and do not think it is necessary to indulge on things that just aren’t worth it. I want to truly enjoy the treat I decide to indulge on, not just have something because it is there. And, off the top of my head, the only things I can honestly think of that are worth the indulgence are few of my family and friends homemade goodies for celebrations/holidays. Those have true meaning and significance for me as they put the time and the effort into them and they are deliciously WORTH it. :-D

I was telling my husband the next morning that I feel like I have really found a greater balance with food and treats. I used to crave sweets ALL the time and now I truly don’t. Of course, I know that sugar dragon will rear its ugly head every now and again but I know what to do to tame him. And life is too dang short to not give in from time to time. As I have said numerous times before, it’s not about perfection but balance.

I absolutely adore this quote by Walt Disney;

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

It totally fits with how I have been feeling. I do not want to ever look or go back to having a poor relationship with food. This new lifestyle will forever be a journey and an adventure for me. I plan to continue moving forward and continue learning about the paleo way of living knowing that there will be twists and turns and things thrown my way that my take me off course and may even lead me down a different path. With completing the Whole30, I really feel I have gained the knowledge to listen more to my body about what it truly needs along with gaining the tools and a better understanding about how to get myself back on track if need be. Through perseverance, I CAN do anything I set my mind and my heart to.

XO,

Val

P/S A little video to make your day bright. “Happy” by Pharrell Willams. It made me smile and just couldn’t help but get up and dance (hubby joined me too)!!!!

Whole30 – Results

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17lbs…lost

2.5 inches around my waist…gone

Feeling the best I have ever felt…priceless.

(Yes, I used what all the MasterCard commercials use. Kind of just fit perfect.)

The numbers are how much my body has changed in 30 days. But I am honestly not focused on that. I mean, I am shocked, elated, and jumping for joy over these results but what I am more in ‘awe’ over is how my mind, body, and soul all feel. I literally feel the best I have felt in as long as I can remember and it is such an incredible feeling.

Here are my before and after photos…hard to post to the world but here they are…

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I still have work to do (would like to lose 6 more lbs and continue to gain back my muscle) but I am on the right path to get myself there again and dang does it feel sublime!

Thinking back to Day 1, I remember how I was feeling the morning I took my before photos; I was miserable. Before I had even started the Whole30, I was covering myself in baggy clothes and wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I did not feel good and was disgusted, unhappy, cranky, weak, and tired. I wasn’t me and I did not like who I was turning into which, in my eyes, was a lazy slob. After receiving my medical news in November of 2013 and being put on zombie drugs for my anxiety (revert back to my first blog), I slipped into a bit of a depressive state and I just didn’t care. Didn’t care what I was eating or drinking, if I was working out, and was constantly making excuses. I decided to stop taking the meds for my anxiety and woke up one morning and was done with it all. I was ready to change my life, to get back to feeling like me again, and wanting to be happy in my skin.

After a heart-to-heart with my trainer and wondering how to get myself jump-started, I came across the Whole30 program in an email from PopSugarFitness, “Try the Whole30 For Just One Day“. I had no idea what it was all about but was intrigued just from reading the first paragraph. Went to the Whole30 webpage, read the rules and thought to myself, “this is the exact jumpstart you need”, and I committed to start the program the next week. I bought their book, It Starts With Food, and convinced my mom and best friend to do it all with me.

30…well, now 32…days later and I honestly feel the best I have EVER felt since I started my weight-loss journey in August of 2011. When I weighed in on day 31, I was completely shocked when my trainer told me how much I had lost as I did not know what my starting weight was. And to be 100% honest, I was a bit disappointed with the fact that I had put some weight back on, but still extremely pumped none-the-less as I decided to do something about it rather than sit back and just throw away 2.5 years of hard work.

I am back on track, back to feeling like myself, and starting to be comfortable in my skin again. I have truly missed feeling all these amazing, wonderful, incredible things. I am sad that I lost it all for a while but so over-the-moon that I am gaining it all back. I am gaining VAL back. :-D And I want to do everything in my power to make sure not to lose her again.

My overall goal for this was to not only help myself get back on track but have hoped that sharing these last 30 days have helped inspire someone to want to do something to better themselves, whatever that may be; starting a fitness regimen, eating better, getting a promotion at work, or setting and exceeding a personal goal. Start small, take baby-steps, and know that you may fall down a couple of times but make sure to pick yourself right back up and keeping moving forward! I am here to support you and I thank you for supporting me. As always, through perseverance, we can do anything we set our minds and our hearts to.

XO,

Val

Jennifer Sygo: Eating like a caveman (or woman) makes good sense — why the Paleo diet must be taken seriously, even if more study is needed

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Val MacFarlane:

Excellent article on a recent study done on the Paleo ‘diet’. Thought I would share. :-) Enjoy!

Originally posted on National Post | Life:

Is it time to give the Paleo diet its due? If a new study is to be believed, then it might be about time to stop snickering and start paying closer attention to a nutritional regimen that was once labelled the worst, according to U.S. News and World Report.

[np_storybar title=”Losing weight is not as simple as ‘calories in, calories out’, because we may all have different rates of shedding pounds” link=”http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/12/10/jennifer-sygo-losing-weight-is-not-as-simple-as-calories-in-calories-out-as-we-may-all-have-different-rates-of-shedding-pounds/”]
For those who want to lose weight, the entire process can be broken down to one simple formula: calories-in vs. calories-out. Or, at least, that’s what so many of us have believed — and led others to believe — for as long as nutrition has been a topic of conversation.

In other words, to lose weight, you simply need to eat less and exercise more. This weight gain-weight loss premise is elegant in its simplicity, sure…

View original 878 more words

Whole30 – Day 24-30

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Apologize for being M.I.A this last week…it was a crazy one! Planned my best friends engagement party for this past Saturday and had a little fun with decorations, food, and favors :-) ! We had such a great time and seeing her face when she walked into the party just made my heart so happy as I had kept it all a surprise!!! I stayed the course even through a stressful week and being surrounded by delicious wine and treats this weekend!

But aren’t these cookies cute?!?

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I made them for the party as favors. Didn’t have one taste…scouts honor! I honestly wasn’t even tempted to…which is pretty awesome for me since I used to have an AWFUL sweet-tooth!

TODAY is day 30 of the Whole30! I cannot believe how fast time has flown. I am nervous. Not ready for it all to be over. The timeline totally hits the nail on the head with how I have been feeling the last couple of days…

Days 29-30: HolyOprahIt’sAlmostOverWhatAmIGoingToEatNow?!?!?!

It’s day 29, and you’re still rocking. The thoughts you had yesterday of throwing in the towel are gone. You cruise through the day and as you crawl into bed you have a small thought that then grows into full-blown cold-sweat panic. Holy crap. Tomorrow is day 30. The last day. What the hell are you going to do after that?! You worked so hard, fought through all the anger, the naps, the cravings to get to the awesome you’re feeling now. The rules have been your backbone, your lifeline, your excuse for being “that person” in social situations. Are you just going to give them up on day 31? No. You firmly resolve that there will be no deviation on day 31. If it ain’t broke…

It’s totally normal to feel a twinge of panic as your Whole30 comes to a close. For the past month, you’ve lived, breathed, and literally eaten the rules. You feel incredible in your new high-octane body. It’s natural to hesitate at the thought of making any changes – even if the change is a return to what was “normal” for you before. And, the truth is, you don’t have to go back to the way you used to eat. But keep in mind that the Whole30 was intended to be a reset, an introduction into the world of Good Food. I know it’s scary, but keep an open mind, okay?

I had a long conversation with my mom the other day about how I feel that with the way I have been living my life the past 30 days is how I want live out the rest of my life as well as my families (currently just my husband but someday our kids) lives, too. The way I am feeling; mind, body, and soul; the way my clothes are fitting, my energy levels, my overall attitude…how could I ever want to go back to feeling any less great than I do now? Well, I don’t.

I have continued my research and bought a couple more books to read about living a Paleo lifestyle and I am an absolute believer in it all. I always used to wonder why I was tired all the time after getting a full nights rest, or why my stomach would just feel yucky after eating grains, diary, or beans, or why with eating 5-small meals a day and working out, I still didn’t feel my best. After eliminating all of these things from my diet for a month (including added sugar), sticking to a three-meal a day plan (with good, healthy fats/carbs, proteins, veggies, and occasional fruits), really feeling, noticing, and seeing a tremendous difference in my body; a lightbulb went off…our bodies really cannot digest this stuff (grains, dairy, legumes, etc.). So with feeling this amazing, why would I want to put any of it back in? Again, I don’t.

I plan to live a Paleo lifestyle. My husband is completely on board and wants to do a Whole30 in the coming weeks. I plan to do it again with him for support (and I loved it so why not do it again ;-) )! He was super skeptical at first but after seeing and hearing my results, he is totally ready to change his life, too. And he is excited for all the yummy meals! (He has been pretty jealous of all the things I have been making for us (my mom, best friend, and I)…hehe…sorry babe!)

I have been waking up feeling strong, powerful, alive, and capable! I sincerely hope you all have been, too. And if not, try to find the reasons why; are you not getting enough sleep? Are you stressed? Not eating enough nutritious foods? I encourage you to take some time for you to help yourself feel better, stronger, and more powerful. If you find yourself getting stressed or upset about something, take a walk, grab your iPod or plug-in your favorite CD and dance it out, or call a friend. It is good to find positive ways to deal with stress to help us be the best we can be for ourselves and all who are around us. Through perseverance, we can do anything we set our minds and our hearts to!

XO,

Val

Compliment of the day: I am proud of myself that even through a super stressful week and being at a party with old trigger foods for me, that I did not cave and stayed the course.

P/S I am excited to share more about my new lifestyle! I promise to be better about my updates! I had forgotten how much better I feel after writing a blog! More soon! :-D