Monday, April 28, 2014

Motivation Monday - BIKINI SERIES!!!

It's Motivation Monday and it's that time again...It's time for the 2014 BIKINI SERIES!!! Anyone that is familiar with Tone It Up knows that this is the best time of the year. The Bikini Series is 4 weeks full of awesome workouts, yummy recipes, and amazing prizes! If anyone is interested in finally achieving that sexy, summer body of their dreams, now is the time to sign up (click on image to visit their website)! Trust me, you won't want to miss it.

There are many wonderful things that I have achieved from being a member of Tone It Up. I've learned a lot about my body, what good foods really are, and the work it takes to take my body to where it has never been. But aside from my increasing knowledge about my health and fitness, I have gained access to a community that never quits loving!

As most of you know, I hosted our very first Tone It Up Oahu Meet-Up yesterday as a pre-Bikini Series kick-off and although it was rainy, it was a great success! I was so happy to finally meet up with some fine young ladies interested in the same things as me. We had fun getting to know each other and doing the hike up Lanikai. Our plan is to meet up a few more times throughout the series for some food and possibly other workout opportunities. I really can't wait! A special thank you to my AWESOME husband for doing the hike with us for the sole purpose of taking our pictures. :)

I'm looking forward to all that this year's series has to offer. I can't wait to reach my goal weight and finally be able to see some abs this year! The key is persistence. This year is different. I can feel it.

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it. Have a blessed day!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fitness Friday - IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

Image courtesy of artemisphoto /

Happy Fitness Friday, Everyone!

There is a new hashtag floating around the Instagram world these days and it's #IIFYM, short for "If It Fits Your Macros" or Macronutrients. If you've ever clicked on that hashtag before, you must have noticed all the Pop-Tarts, Oreos, donuts, pizza, and every other un-Godly form of artificial-ness on the planet. Then, having grown even more interested in the subject, you may have clicked on a picture, then to the user who posted the picture to see what this chunk-a-lunk of a person must look like eating Cheetos as a part of their "diet," only to be surprised or perhaps even perplexed at the reality. This person is pretty, stinkin' RIPPED!!! How is it that he/she is able to produce that physique while also being able to eat half a chocolate cake with some Skittles on the side?!

The answer, my friend, is IIFYM also known as "flexible dieting." Basically IIFYM is a way to achieve your weight loss/gain/maintenance goals by managing your daily intake of macronutrients, or in other words, the balance of your intake of carbs, protein, and fats. Essentially, IIFYM allows you to eat literally whatever you want as long as you don't go over or under your daily needed macronutrients and calories. Craving Taco Bell? Go for it! Cake? Sure! Chocolate eclairs? Why not? If done properly, you can still lose weight and achieve a great, muscular physique. Now, do I recommend eating junk food all the time? Absolutely not, however many people following IIFYM tend to do just that. All IIFYM does is allows you the freedom to eat these foods without guilt while still being able to achieve your fitness goals.

If you're wondering how to do this successfully and to gage if this type of dieting is right for you, here are my 

5 Steps to following IIFYM:
    Image courtesy of BrianHolm /
  1. Calculate Your Macros: The first step is to calculate your daily needed macronutrients in order to lose, gain, or maintain your weight. Use this IIFYM Calculator to help you figure out the grams of carbs, proteins, and fats you need daily in order to achieve your fitness goals. It will ask you for some basic information, like current weight and height, as well as your level or frequency of activity/exercise. Most people looking to bulk-up or create visible muscle tone will likely increase their protein intake. However, be sure not to ingest too much protein as it is bad for your kidneys!

  2. Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

  3. Incorporate IF (Intermittent Fasting): Not everyone does this and it is not required in order to follow IIFYM, however I have achieved the best fitness results by incorporating IIFYM into my intermittent fasting schedule. IF is basically a 6-8 hour eating window followed by an 18-16 hour fast. You are allowed to eat your macros within your selected eating period; Nothing before your window and nothing after. This allows your body to burn your extra fat stores during your fasted state. Many bodybuilders continue to use this eating schedule for bulking and maintaining weight as well. I have personally shed about 7 pounds of extra weight within 2 weeks and have noticed an increase in energy. For more information about intermittent fasting, as well as my progress pics, please click here.

  4. Image courtesy of foto76 /

  5. Keep a Food Journal: I can't stress to you just how important keeping track of your food intake and progress is when it comes to health and fitness. By keeping track of your macros, you can easily see what areas need improvement. Did you overeat or undereat yesterday? Need to add more protein for muscle growth? What meal pushed you overboard? All your notes are essential to understanding your body and can possibly help you to break bad eating habits.

  6. Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap /

  7. Keep It Clean and Simple: Like I mentioned, many IIFYM users like to eat a lot of junk food. While IIFYM gives you the freedom to do so, I wouldn't recommend it. Eating cleaner, healthier whole foods is just all around better for your body and I don't just mean your outer appearance. Having a healthy inside, to me, is much more important than having a rocking bod. Your future is completely dependant on what you choose to do with it now. To prevent the possibility of developing future health problems, eat healthier proteins, carbs, and fats like chicken breasts, avocados, and brown rice. However, if you have room for a bag of chips, by all means enjoy. Don't make your diet complicated and calculate your macros to death. Keep track and have fun with it. Life's too short to be stringent.

  8. Image courtesy of Naypong /

  9. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!: The most important part of any diet is hydration. I can name quite a few people that don't drink enough water during the day or worse, no water at all! In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, it is an indication that you are already dehydrated! That is just horrible for your body as it is made up of at least 60% water! Your body needs water to flush out toxins, maintain body fluids, and control calories. A lot of times our brains mistake dehydration for hunger, so by restricting the amount of water you drink you can actually gain excess weight. And although adding more protein into your diet is going to increase "gains" or visible muscle, too much can cause kidney damage. Therefore, water is a must in order to ensure that your insides function properly with the newly added macronutrients. 
Follow these simple steps and you'll be on your way to a brand new you! It's just a simpler way to be able to have your cake and get fit too! Be sure to check in every Monday for my progress pics and fitness discoveries! Best wishes on your fitness journey! Aloha!

Anyone try IIFYM or intermittent fasting before? How were your results? Let me know in the comments!

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Motivation Monday - Upping My Game

It has been about 2 weeks since I started my intermittent fasting journey and it has been a great experience. 5 pounds down and only about 7 more to go until I'm at my goal weight! However, I noticed over the past week that I have plateaued and am no longer losing weight at the same rate that I was the week before. That means this week, I have to either add more activity to my day or cut back on my calorie intake again. I'm thinking that I'll be adding a little more activity to each day since 1100 calories is already not that much. I will also be adding more protein into my diet because I am serious about forming some visible muscles or as is said around our house, ALL KINDS OF GAINS (HodgeTwins reference). Here is what my meals looked like today:

In essence, my meals were as follows: 
  1. 8oz. waters (3x)
  2. 1 Perfect Fit protein bar
  3. 1 Cookies 'n' Cream Quest bar
  4. 1 Banana Cream Protein shake made with Perfect Fit protein (recipe can be found here)
  5. 2 pieces of Dave's Killer Bread (organic) with White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter spread from Peanut Butter & Co.

As far as results, I am seeing some definition in my legs as well as in my stomach region, however I am still working on slimming down my thigh area and toning up all other parts of my body. I have started lifting at least twice a week, but I am most likely going to up it to 3 times a week as a part of my added activity. I used to think cardio was all I needed to lose weight, but I'm seeing I don't have to do it as often as I thought. I only do cardio about once or twice a week just to keep my heart pumping, but not as intensely as I used to. This year, I am more focused on eating clean and building muscle tone. I believe this will be the year to do just that! I can't wait! I'll keep you posted for sure.

On another note, this Sunday April 27th is our first ever Tone It Up Oahu Meet-Up! All the TIU Oahu ladies will be meeting up at Kailua beach to do the Lanikai pill box hike at 6am as a Pre-Bikini Series kick-off, beginning the following day April 28th. I am so excited to meet everyone. Rain or shine, it's going down!

If you haven't signed up for the Bikini Series yet or if you're interested in getting in-shape for the summertime, I suggest signing up now! It's an 8-week fitness program designed with fun in mind. It's an awesome time to join the Tone It Up Community, stay in touch with other Tone It Up girls in your area, and get healthy and fit for your summer excursions! Karena and Katrina make everything really fun and easy to follow and you could win all kinds of amazing prizes, one of which includes a Contiki vacation to anywhere in the world! What could be more fun that that

Sign up here to get involved with the 2014 Bikini Series happening April 28th!

And if you're on Oahu, be sure to join us for a hike up Lanikai this Sunday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

HE is Greater

It was Easter day three years ago that I allowed the Holy Spirit to do a number in my life.

I found myself sitting in an Easter church service with my family expecting only to enjoy a nice performance put on by children and teens with some singing and dancing, you know, the usual. I expected to see Jesus' life lived out before us, a few miracles here and there, his life with the disciples, and of course, his death on the cross followed by his miraculous resurrection. Although there was some of that, the church decided to do something totally different.

At the end of the play, along with Jesus' resurrection were modern day people walking out of the smoke and into the lights. One by one, each took place center stage holding a sign with a struggle written on it; Things like alcoholism, homosexuality, worthlessness, abuse, and pornography appeared on signs for all to see. As each person stepped forward with their struggle, a smile emerged as they flipped the sign over to reveal a truth. Most overcame their hardships through Jesus' name and others saw their struggle differently through Jesus' eyes. It was a beautiful experience that moved me to tears.

Acting a fool at a bar in 2010
I couldn't help but think about how far I had traveled from Jesus' side, trying to "find myself" in places I didn't belong. I went from activity to activity, place to place, person to person all in hopes that I could escape the reality that I was just as empty as I was the day before. The people I admired had only let me down and the negativity I picked up along the way was starting to infect the way I saw the world, other people, and especially myself.

I no longer felt like I amounted to much if I wasn't skilled at something; As if I was unlovable because I didn't meet up to the standards of this world. I became bitter about life and started criticizing others because I wasn't happy myself. I was trying to be someone I wasn't, someone that I could be proud of, yet no matter how hard I tried, I still didn't feel good about myself. I just kept drifting further and further down the river until finally I fell off the waterfall one day.

I remember talking with my mom about a topic I can't really recall right now, but what I do remember is the way she looked at me and said, "You don't sound like yourself. You're starting to sound like someone else...critical and negative." It stopped me in my tracks completely.

She couldn't be serious, I thought to myself. Had I really changed that much?

It took me by surprise as I had always looked to God for inspiration. Suddenly, I had none. I had no real dreams, goals, or visions. Nothing about God even came to mind. I realized that I had wandered so far off the path that I couldn't even see where it was I came from.

I was lost.

And it couldn't be more apparent the day I sat in that church pew.

It was on that day that I decided to give up the chase and give in to the Spirit. I no longer wanted to live aimlessly, trying to impress people that couldn't be less supportive of my endeavors of a life worth living. I walked away from those people that day. That's when God took over and showed me that He was greater than my greatest insecurity; Greater than my weakness; Greater than my fear; Greater than my past, my present, and my future. Whatever it was I was searching for throughout life, I didn't have to search anymore. I could finally rest at ease knowing that God was simply greater. Once I gave in to Him, He showed me where I needed to be.

He led me to church where I joined a young adult community and thus began my journey toward an intimate relationship with God and the people whose lives He had touched. It was because of this amazing group of friends that Tim and I are as far along as we are today. They have been a great support for us, encouraging us when we needed it, ultimately bringing us back to the feet of Jesus. No greater friends have we ever encountered that we could not only do life with, but be able to look forward to an eternity with as well.

As Resurrection Day 2014 approaches, I am in awe of just how amazing our God is. He saw a helpless, lonely, suffering people and decided to do what no god in history has ever done. He sent His willing son Jesus to the world to save it from ultimate despair and to serve as an example of selflessness, generosity, forgiveness, peace, and love. Jesus was greater than the grave and rose again, the same way we will when that fine day finally approaches. It is because of this Jesus that Tim, my family, and I have been able to hold onto hope all these years.

Reflecting on my life today, I am able to see how far Jesus has carried me. He saw me as a child and knew the pain I would face growing up. He cared enough for me to show me a way out. He said to me, "Child, I am greater than all this. Follow me and I will lead you to freedom." Instead of leaving me in the darkness and telling me I needed to find my own way out, He picked me up and carried me out. He showed me that my worth is not determined by what I can do, but by what He has already done.

My life could have been so different if I hadn't cried out to Jesus for help. It is because of him that I can face tomorrow. It is because of him that I finally have a dream, a purpose, and a future to look forward to.

Life is so worth living simply because He is greater. 

Happy Easter, everyone! Jesus is RISEN.

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The 4 Rules of Marriage

The wedding season is fast approaching and I couldn't help but think back to the summer of our wedding almost 3 years ago. Sure, we haven't been married for very long, but we have been through quite a bit just within these 3 short years and have learned a LOT.

So, in the spirit of marriage, here are our 4 Rules of Marriage that have helped us along the way:
  1. It's About YOU - We all go into a marriage thinking that the other person is going to make us happy forever. There are two things wrong with this logic. One, happiness is an emotion and we all know emotions can change. Two, no one can make anyone happy forever. It's just not possible. What getting married really does is points out just how selfish you both really are. That is not to be taken negatively, but rather as an opportunity to look yourself in the face and see just how you are contributing to your relationship. Are you a taker or a giver in your marriage? How is your attitude when things don't go your way? How are you helping your spouse become a better person? How are you becoming a better person? Think about these questions. There are always answers.
  2. It's NOT About You - What??? You just said that it was! Well, this time the point I'm trying to make is that getting married was a commitment you made to your spouse. Once you said "I do" you both made a commitment to each other. There are days you'll want to leave; days you'll want to throw in the towel and quit. DON'T. It is in these times that you have the power to make or break your marriage. When you both vowed "for better or for worse" you made a promise to your spouse that you would be there even when things aren't going the way you imagined. This wasn't meant to keep you stuck. It was meant to keep your hope alive. Perseverance is a dying art these days. Don't let it end with you.
  3. NEVER Say the "D" Word - The best piece of advice anyone has ever given us is never to mention the word "divorce." Just saying it should make you shudder. Tossing the "D" word around the house is like playing with fire; one day you just might burn the house down. The "D" word is an excuse to keep you from trying, almost like leaving an exit door partially open, just in case it gets hard. It's like telling yourself "I'm going to go to the gym to lose weight, but if I don't feel good doing it, I'm quitting." Ridiculous, right? Well, plenty of people jump into a marriage implying the same thing. "I'm going to marry you, but if you're not making me happy, then we're getting divorced." Removing the possibility of divorce helps you both to remember that you said "til death do us part."
  4. You're Playing for the SAME TEAM - You're always going to argue and fight over things in life. The point that should always be remembered at the end of the night is that you are both playing for the same team. Once you're married, you share everything. Nothing is "yours." It's now "ours." Once you figure out that you're both on the same side, your differences should seem small in comparison to your love for each other.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as a married couple. It isn't always going to be rainbows and butterflies. Some days it is going to be tough. REALLY tough. But in the end, if you keep pushing, the struggle is worth it. In all things, remember to love. That is the foundation of any successful marriage.

Anyone else have words of wisdom or advice they'd like to share about marriage? Good or bad? Let me know in the comments!

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!
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Monday, April 14, 2014

5 Reasons I LOVE Intermittent Fasting

It's Motivation Monday again! I can't tell you just how motivated I am to share with you this week's results!

Weight: 128

Weight: 123.8

One Week Progress

After changing my intermittent fasting (click to read my previous post on IF) schedule from 4am-12pm to 11am-6pm, my results have changed dramatically! I dropped about 5 pounds in just a week! If I had known how well and how rapidly IF was going to work for me, I would have done this years ago! You don't need any juice cleanses (although I actually recommend a juice cleanse maybe once a year to detox) or crazy, expensive diets! If you are looking to lose extra weight in a fast, yet healthy way, try intermittent fasting! You'll notice a change, I promise you.

There are 5 reasons I just love intermittent fasting and here they are:

  1. NO Meal Planning - I know we've all been programmed to think that we must eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day and that breakfast is the "most important meal of the day," but there actually isn't enough evidence to prove this to be true. I skipped breakfast all week, even after much hesitation to cut it out of my day, and I actually have more energy and more time in the morning to do what I want. I don't have to worry about waking up an hour earlier to fit it into my morning nor do I have to scarf it down on my way to work, which leaves an awful mess on my clothes and in my car later...Win-Win! In fact, it's just all around awesome that I don't have to worry about how many meals I'm eating throughout the day. With IF, all I have to do is make sure I'm not eating over the calories needed to lose weight (to calculate your needed caloric intake, click here). Easy peasy.
  2. FREEDOM to EAT - Although I am somewhat of a health-nut (obsessive, more like), IF allows you to the freedom to eat whatever you want, as long as it fits your macros (the balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats needed to lose/gain weight). Feeling like some mac-n-cheese? GO FOR IT! Balance it all out in the end and you'll still come out a winner!
  3. FAST Weight-loss - Need I say more? When you are in your fasting state, your body has no choice but to pull from your fat stores for energy. With discipline and consistency, you can get through your hunger pangs and eat freely during your eating window.
  4. MORE Energy - I always thought breakfast was what I needed in order to get energy for the day, however, that is not entirely true. In fact, the days I would eat breakfast I actually felt pretty sluggish during my drive to work and between work hours, probably because my body is trying to digest what it just ate. I've skipped breakfast all week and I have never felt more energized in the morning. I'm able to drive to work without blinking an eye once. During work, I'm up and ready to start the day!
  5. FLEXIBILITY - Got a dinner to go to at 7? A date night with the hubby at 8? Breakfast with your mom in the morning? Just move your window around, keep track of your caloric intake, and go! IF is so easy, time and user friendly, you'll wonder why you didn't do this sooner. It's so easy, in fact, you'll have to make sure you really do eat, or you'll develop an eating disorder without even trying. (LOL thanks for that disclaimer, Hodge Twins!). Seriously, for some reason, it feels like you're just never hungry and you could go on forever without eating a single bite of food...but please, PLEASE eat.

I am absolutely thrilled with my results. I noticed I can almost fit into my "skinny" shorts! Just about a week or so more and I'll finally be able to again! Only this time, I'm going to be lifting weights too so I won't look like a twig. I'll keep you all posted on my progress as I continue. Thanks for your support!

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blog Planner

Since I am taking this whole blog thing seriously, I realized it was probably time to keep a planner of some sort to help me stay on track with my blogging and make sure I stay organized in the process. Life can definitely become hectic without some direction, so I need planners and calendars everywhere, just so I'm not wandering aimlessly throughout the day. Anyone else get side-tracked easily?

After surfing through Google and Pinterest for some time, I finally stumbled upon the perfect one by Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

It's colorful, simple, and has everything I need to ensure I am up to par with my blogging throughout the year. Just started using it a couple days ago and it's helping me to stay inspired. I just jot down my ideas for new blog posts, inspiration I found from other blogs, and get on with my day. No more writing my thoughts down on post-its. It's all in my handy-dandy blog planner! To download this and other planners, be sure to check out her blog!

What I love about Erica's blog is that it is Christ-centered and family focused! She has a beautiful family and has all kinds of printables, lessons, and recipes for the stay-at-home mom, the homeschooler, or any parents looking to get involved with their young children educationally.

I am truly happy to have found this planner. It is just so darn cute. I really wouldn't mind trying out some of her recipes too. Apple crumble, anyone? Mmm...

Anyone have a blog planner they recommend? Let me know!

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Sunday Morning Chill

Sunday mornings are reserved for church time. Today after church, my mom, my BIG, little sister (she's taller than me by a couple inches), and I decided to leave the boys at home and hang out for breakfast and some shopping. I'll admit, I went a little overboard on calories today, but the food was SO worth it! 

It was really nice getting to spend some time with the lovely ladies in my life. I don't often shop anymore as it became somewhat of a serious addiction for me (lol what girl hasn't struggled with shopping?) and was breaking the bank a bit, so this was a nice treat. Here are a few of my pickups today:

I tried these pants on and OMG...I don't think I'll be wearing anything else for a while. They are a pair of the most comfortable pants I have. Sunglasses, I just can't get enough. I'm thinking I'll be writing a piece on a few of my clothing obsessions soon. And lastly, this headband just rocked my socks. Exactly what I was looking for. You can guarantee seeing me wearing this around very soon...

All shopping aside though, I always enjoy hanging out with my family. It's nice to see how everyone is doing and how much the younger ones are maturing in life. Our family time usually consists of reminiscing on funny family memories, singing songs that end up getting stuck in our heads (thanks, Hannah), and how amazing God is. It's nice being able to share in these moments with them, especially seeing how God has been at work through every moment.

Next weekend we are all going to be helping out at our church's Easter services. It's been a while since my family and I have really served anywhere, so I'm excited to finally be able to reach out a bit. Pictures will be up for sure next week.

All in all, I'd say today was a good day. What are some things you do with your family on Sunday? Any plans for Easter?

That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Motivation Monday!!!

Today is Motivation Monday and I am so jazzed right now! I just mapped out a new weekly schedule for myself (with the help of my awesome husband, of course) and today was the first day I implemented it. It basically takes the stress out of my day and helps me to focus on one big thing at a time.

As most of you know, I just started intermittent fasting (click link to read more about it) about a week ago and, to be honest, it was really difficult sticking to the window that I originally planned for myself. After a few days of trying different time frames, I finally figured out a window that WORKED! I just had to observe my hunger and activity for a few days to realize it. Now my eating window is from 11am-7pm which is perfect for my work schedule since my mornings are sometimes too hectic to fit any real meals in between patients (I'm a dental assistant/office manager for a small dental practice) plus I get to enjoy a nice, healthy dinner with my husband! I missed that all last week :(.

So, onto bigger and better news...

Today I just joined this amazing group of women called the Motivation Monday Team. It is basically a group of women that are committed to "re-committing" to their health and fitness, like me! What I love is that you can link up with the team and share your goals for the month as well as progress pics, recipes, and etc. Who couldn't use some new, healthy crock pot ideas in the kitchen?

In the spirit of Motivation Monday, here are some "before" pictures of me from last week. Hoping that some clean eating, intermittent fasting, and exercise will help tighten and tone all of my problem areas.

Head on over to Morning Coffee Confessions for more information on the link ups, fitsperation, and clean eating recipes (yum, yum!).

On another note, my Tone It Up friend, Amanda, and I are planning a TIU Meet-Up (Oahu women, only) on April 27th as a pre-Bikini Series celebration! It will either be a hike, a run, or a beach day. More details to come for any of you Oahu TIU Girls and Beach Babes out there looking to join in on the fun!

You can read more about the upcoming Bikini Series starting on April 28th here.

Now I suppose I should post my goals for the month. Here they are:

  1. Lose at 3 pounds by the end of the month.
  2. Stick to my intermittent fasting schedule
  3. Drink WAY more water (so far my max has been 3 bottles a day).
That's it for now. Remember life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

With Ears Wide Open

It is amazing how much listening really helps a relationship. And when I say "listen," I mean really sit down, put all pride, thoughts, and comments aside and listen; no words, no sighs, no eye-rolling. Honestly, it can change literally everything about a relationship.

I first learned this lesson this past Valentine's Day after a heated argument with my husband about finances. Here we were, thinking we were going to have a cozy night in with pizza and a movie, but instead we were fighting over finances...again. I, of course, thought I was right about how I was spending our money and he thought he was right for being so tight with the budget. Things just kept getting worse because neither of us was willing to bend, thus resulting in me leaving the room to pout somewhere alone.

Who does he think he is? I thought to myself. He doesn't understand me at all.

Meanwhile, Tim was in another room upset, regretting we ever shared a bank account.

We couldn't have been further apart that night and I remember feeling so lost, so confused, and so distraught at the way things were going. It just felt like we were always having these arguments and they didn't seem to be getting better.

Sitting alone, reading one of my nightly devotionals in our walk-in closet, I cried. I thought we were supposed to be getting better, God. Why does this keep happening? I turned the page of my devotional and looked down at one entitled A Brand New You with Romans 8:1-2 and 11 listed as the verses of focus for that study.

I laughed to myself. A Brand New ME? I'm never going to change. I'll never truly make my husband happy. As I read, the words "There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus..." and "Spirit has freed you from the power of sin..." jumped out at me.

So what are you saying, God? You really aren't condemning me right now? How can that be when I know I let my husband down?

Then the Spirit spoke to me and said "You are freed from the power of sin that leads to death [destruction]." He went on to say that I need to face my fears, look failure in the face and say, "I'm forgiven and free."

What did that mean to me? That meant I couldn't keep running away from my regrets; that I can't keep hiding from my fears; that my sins and faults have no power over me and that I can't let this night go on without having rectified myself with my husband. Yet everything in me that night kept telling me that I couldn't face him, shouldn't face him, and that I was too much of a failure. Despite it all, I did as the Holy Spirit had instructed.

Walking out into the living room, I spilled out my heart to a husband whose demeanor was anything but comforting at the time. I was so nervous to let him in on my private thoughts, my heartfelt desires, my pain, and my insecurities that I started crying uncontrollably. Although we are married, like I'm sure many experienced married couples know, we aren't always 100% honest with each other in how we feel about different things. Sharing feelings is one of the hardest things to learn as a couple because it makes you so vulnerable.

As I trembled in tears, something amazing happened. My husband, who was unwilling at first to hear me out and even started getting more upset that I was speaking to him in what he assumed was anger, actually paused, took a deep breath, and listened to me- my words, my pain, my vulnerability. Aside from the first few words he spewed out of anger, he said no more and let me talk.

When I was finished, he took a deep breath and sighed. Unsure of where this night would take us, I sat in a corner of the room and sobbed to myself, exhausted. Tim then took my hand and spoke the most comforting words- "I understand."

Now it was my turn to listen. Without saying any words, I sat and listened to my husband's feelings about the the end of it all, we both realized that it wasn't so much the money we were upset about. It was the people we became with the money. When I spent the money, he felt betrayed, left out, and disrespected. When Tim got upset about what I did with the money, I felt he saw me untrustworthy, that I was just a child in this marriage, and that my needs and wants didn't matter to him.

When we both put our pride aside and listened to each other, we were able to see the depth of the problem, not just what it looked like. Then we were able to talk out a resolution.

Listening is a hard thing to do. It requires that we die to ourselves in order to understand another's point of view. Everything within us wants to lash out in hostility and make sure the other knows we're right when in reality, being right doesn't matter much at all. What we all really desire is to be understood. When someone understands you, you feel safe, comfortable, and at ease with yourself and your place in the relationship. When someone doesn't give you the time of day, on the other hand, it creates a wall of frustration and bitterness.

Be sure to listen today.

That's it for now. Remember, life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Quest Bar Donuts!!!

Have you ever craved a donut in the morning, but just know that every evil ingredient is going straight for your thighs afterward? I know I have. Heck, if I just so much as look in the direction of a piece of cake, I gain 5 pounds. At least once a month I crave some kind of sugary, buttery, cheesy, nefarious comfort food (pizza, li-hing gummies, cookies, the list goes on!). It doesn't help when I'm PMSing either (sorry, boys).

If you're anything like me, are craving for a sweet treat, but still trying to eat as clean and health conscious as possible, fret not! There is hope!

Introducing the Quest Bar Donut!!! (Doh! as Homer would put it)

Because no donut is complete without some frosting and sprinkles, I decided to make some Perfect Fit frosting mixed with some PB2 to top it off. 

I tell you, guys, these things are diet friendly, packed with protein and fiber (this means you'll be fuller longer) and they're sooo easy to make! 6 minutes tops or if you have a toaster oven, even quicker! Baking mine only took about 2 minutes. This is just one of the best ways to cheat clean

I ate one before I attended my spinning (cycling) class and one after my light jog around the block. These babies keep you full for quite a while. I loved the texture of it too; baked on the outside, but soft on the inside, sort of like a real donut! You really can't go wrong with them...unless, of course, you burn them like I did the first time I tried baking them. I get distracted pretty easily...anyway...

Wait, what was I going to say??? 

Oh, yeah! (lol)

A few things I love about Quest Bars is that they've incorporated high-quality whey protein-isolates (best food for your muscles), they are all natural, contain healthy fats, and taste AMAZING. These bars are perfect for people looking to get lean and/or build muscle. These are great for people on the go too as they are meal replacement bars as well.

So, the moment you've all been waiting for...the recipe! 

It isn't hard to follow. Just make sure that you pay attention or set a timer on your oven or toaster oven as these bake pretty fast. 

Quest Bar Donuts:

1-2 Quest Bar(s) - Cinnamon Roll flavor (or of choice)
1 T Perfect Fit Protein (or whey protein)
1/2 T stevia
1 T PB2
2 T water

Conventional Oven: Preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 6 minutes or until golden brown.
Microwave Oven: 300 to 350 degrees. Only bake for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.

Slowly knead and mold Quest bar into an O shape (helps to microwave for about 10-15 seconds to soften). Place in oven and bake until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool, about 1 minute.

Frosting: Mix all ingredients until creamy. Add more water if necessary.

Frost the cooled donuts with protein frosting. Top with sprinkles. Enjoy!

Hope you guys enjoy this recipe! Let me know how they turned out for you.

That's it for now! Remember, life is what you make it! Have a blessed day!