Beautifully, Wonderfully Made

I used to hate so many things about my body. I know hate is a strong word, but that’s really the best word for it. I had a whole list of flaws about myself that played on repeat in my mind, eating away at me, through each and every day. I was obsessed with controlling my weight, controlling every bite that went into my mouth, and trying to change the shape and size of my body.

Looking back now, I realize how self-centered and inwardly-focused anorexia made me. How much time, energy, and effort I wasted on something that didn’t deserve that kind of attention.

god's love is deeperThankfully, God brought people into my life who cared about me and wanted to help me heal. Through a lot of counseling, prayer, and incredible support from my family and friends, God brought me out of this obsession and helped me develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise. When I think about how much has changed in the past 4 years, it truly leaves me in awe of God’s power and grace.

But today I was struck with something I don’t think about often in terms of my recovery. Yes, I have much different habits these days. I have learned balance and moderation in the way I eat; I enjoy dessert and junk food when I want to, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I exercise because I enjoy it, not to punish myself or compensate for something I ate the night before.

These are all huge changes for me and have given me so much more peace and joy in my life. But what struck me today is how I have actually come to LOVE my body and be THANKFUL for the way I was created. The things I used to hate and loathe about myself are things that I can now appreciate. I’m not saying I don’t still struggle with my body image. (And I think any woman who denies ever having a rough day with body image might need to be a little more honest with herself.)

I still have those days when I don’t feel very happy with the way I look. There are times when the constant bombardment from our culture to be skinny and to have a “perfect body” drags me down, and I have moments when I don’t really like my curves or my legs. And there are definitely still days when I get sucked back into the comparison trap and find myself envying another woman’s body.

But, instead of being the norm, those moments are now the exception. I no longer live in that vicious and endless dungeon of self-hatred. It doesn’t consume my thoughts like it once did. I’ve learned so much contentment and gratefulness with the way that I am built, shaped, and formed. And it definitely didn’t happen overnight.

But I remember one of the turning points: an evening in 2011, while I was living in India and thick in the throes of my anorexia. I had shut myself away in my room that night, crying and desperately wanting help but not knowing how to ask for it. I had finally begun to see what a sick disease had taken control of my mind, and I was having a brief moment of clarity as I realized how much I wanted out from these chains of addiction.

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Praying with a woman in a leper colony in India

 

Isolated in a tiny village and away from any sort of support system, I didn’t know how I could possibly begin to break free. But in that moment, God brought a verse to my mind, and I flipped my Bible open to Psalm 139:

“I praise You, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

I realized that night that I couldn’t possibly imagine PRAISING God for the way He had made me. Because, well, I hated the way He had made me. And that was the crux of the problem. That was the real issue behind my horrible body image. I didn’t really believe God had done “wonderfully” when He designed and created my body. In essence, I thought He had messed up. If He had really loved me, He would have given me a different shape, smaller measurements, and more attractive features.

But as I read this verse over and over again, I actually began to DESIRE to feel that same gratitude and appreciation for my body. I knew I had a long way to go, and a huge part of me wondered if it was even possible to get there, but I had a tiny glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, God could heal me, and free me from the self-hate that had riddled my mind for far too long. I didn’t have a lot of faith, but I had a little. And the beauty is that God can use even the littlest seed of faith to bring His grace and power into our lives.

I wrote that verse down that night in India. I wrote it on a blank 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper, with neon markers in all different colors. I took my time writing out each word of that verse, and then I taped the paper to the back of my door. Every morning when I woke up, I would read it out loud in my empty room, and ask God in a simple sentence to help me really believe and feel the words I was sayComparison-thief-of-joy-printableing. I asked Him to heal me, help me, and change me from the inside out.

And it didn’t happen overnight. It took time, just like any lasting, heart-change does. Shortly after that night in India, I moved back home to the States, and began my journey to recovery. That verse became one that I returned to time and again during the years that followed. And slowly, subtly, my heart and mind began to heal. God began to grow in me a heart of praise, and I started to believe the truths of this verse.

And then, a few weeks ago, it popped up in my life again, but for a much different reason. My husband and I were at the 20-week ultrasound for our little girl who is due in June. As the ultrasound tech ran the wand over my belly and the image of our little girl popped up on the screen, this familiar verse came to mind once again.

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Our little girl at 20 weeks!

I felt tears forming in my eyes as we watched our little one kick and squirm on the screen, and the tech pointed out her strong little heart, lungs, and essential organs. We saw her tiny fingers and toes, and my heart ached with love for this precious girl we can’t wait to meet. In that moment, I praised God for how wonderfully and beautifully He has created this little baby. And that verse that has meant so much in my past has come alive again as I anticipate the future with our little girl.

I pray she will always know that she is incredibly beautiful, and that it’s got nothing to do with how she looks or what size she is.  It’s a crazy world for a little girl to grow up in, and I know we can’t protect her from the pressures of the culture, and the focus it places on size and weight. But I hope she will always know that she is tremendously beautiful and beloved in our eyes, and even more importantly, in the eyes of God. Because she has been wonderfully created and designed by Him.

“You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

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Can Pasta be Part of a Healthy Diet?

Pasta is often fiercely frowned upon in the health and fitness world. Thanks to the low-carb diet craze, everyone is all concerned these days about eating enough protein and limiting their carbohydrates. In fact, almost every time one of my new clients admits to eating pasta for dinner, it’s accompanied by an embarrassed attempt to justify or excuse their choice.

pastaThe war against pasta stems primarily from the fact that pasta is a high-carbohydrate food. And carbs have developed a pretty awful reputation in the health industry these days. But, when it comes down to the science, your body actually NEEDS carbohydrates – and a good amount of them, too – in order to function and thrive. Added bonus: pasta is delicious.  🙂

We need to stop feeling like we’ve “messed up our diet” because we ate lasagna or fettuccine or some other delightful form of noodles for dinner last night. And maybe the night before that.

Because, honestly, pasta isn’t the problem. 

Now, before you run out to Pasta House for an all-you-can-eat pasta feast, let me clarify my views on noodles:

There are several components of pasta dishes that often make them not-so-great choices, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.  However, there are also some simple changes you can make to health-ify (for lack of a better word) your pasta and enjoy it without regret.

Here are a few ideas:

1) Try gluten-free noodles.
This one goes without saying. Because of the way our wheat is processed and the horrible digestion issues that many of us have, it’s more than likely that your body has some level of sensitivity to gluten. Even if you don’t have any specific symptoms that you can link to those pasta dinners you enjoy, chances are that gluten could still be undermining your health. It’s worth it to experiment by going off of gluten for 30 days to see if it changes the way you feel. Bonus: you can’t even taste a difference with gluten free noodles! My favorite is either Brown Rice or Brown Rice and Quinoa noodles, available at Trader Joes, Schnucks, Dierbergs, you name it. They’re inexpensive and much easier on your digestion.

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2) Watch the sauce. 
The sauce is what usually sends the calorie count through the roof on pasta dishes. If you’re eating out, try to order pasta dishes with an olive-oil based sauce, rather than a cream sauce. Or if you absolutely must get the Fettuccine Alfredo, try to eat half and take the rest home for another meal. When making pasta at home, use Extra Virgin Olive Oil or full-fat dairy products for your sauces (not low-fat, sugar-laden junk!) and look for recipes that use real-food ingredients and not processed packets and pre-made sauces.

3) Add veggies to your pasta dishes.
Almost every pasta dish I cook has some sort of vegetable in it. Broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes are my favorites. The fiber from the veggies will help fill you up and keep you from going back for endless plates of noodles.

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4) Watch your portions. 
This is my mantra with pretty much any food out there. Everything in moderation. A healthy diet doesn’t mean extremes and restrictions and lists of “bad foods” to avoid. That’s why I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo a few weeks ago at Maggiano’s and enjoyed every bite. Life’s too short to miss out on pasta. Right?!  Just make sure that you’re eating until you’re comfortably satisfied, and don’t stuff yourself to the brim.

Eating more slowly and savoring each bite will often help you eat less as well. Your hunger and fullness signals take 20-30 minutes to kick in as you are eating, so try not to scarf down multiple plates of pasta before your brain has a chance to say “that’s enough!”

Now, go find a delicious pasta recipe you can make this week! Here are a few ideas…

Teriyaki Noodle Bowls

Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

When all else fails, search “healthy pasta recipes” on Pinterest and feast your eyes on all the delicious goodness that appears on your screen.  :-)

How to Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me, that I LOVE goals. And lists. Lists of goals. Goals on lists. Basically, any combination of these two things is enough to get me excited.

love listsI’m the kind of person that adds items to my to do list that I already finished 5 minutes ago, just so I can have the immense enjoyment of crossing something off my list.

The other day, as I searched feverishly for a wedding invitation in the mess of papers on my desk, I ended up sorting through the entire pile and organizing everything, quite accidentally. So, of course, I grabbed my to-do list and wrote down “organize papers on desk” and then drew a very satisfied line through it with my blue pen. I’m not kidding.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.)

Without goals and lists, I’m pretty sure I would go insane. Goals keep me focused and motivated. Goals help me push through distractions (i.e., mindless Facebook surfing) and remind me of better things to do with my time.

My daily goals – some people might call this their “to-do list” – are the things I’m hoping to accomplish that day. I love to write down my daily goals first thing when I wake up in the morning (or sometimes the night before) because it helps me prioritize my time.

work from homeSince I am self-employed and work from home, there’s no boss waiting for me at the office, no outside accountability as to whether I worked all morning or laid in bed watching Netflix in my pajamas. I’m responsible for making sure I actually get things done every day. So, goals are essential in my world.

My daily lists have various types of goals: some are tasks related to developing my business, others are reminders of client emails I need to send or workout plans that need to be designed. Some of the items are simply errands that need to be done or a reminder that it’s probably time to do laundry. (Especially if my husband has been wearing the same holey pair of black socks for several days in a row because every other pair is waiting to be washed…)

These goal lists help me stay motivated on a daily basis (and ensure that laundry does get done at some point…) but I also like to have bigger, over-arching goals to help structure my entire year.

As you can imagine, the end of December is one of my absolutely favorite times, because, well, there’s Christmas, yes, but ALSO…. I have a socially acceptable excuse to make lists, set new goals, and dream about the fresh 365 days ahead of me. My inner nerd really comes out in full force around the new year, as my husband can attest. (When I asked him if he thought my obsession fascination with goals was over-the-top, he declined to comment. Something about it being a trap, he said.)

We actually had a date night at Starbucks early in January, just to talk about our goals for 2015 – both personally, and as a couple. Armed with notepads, ballpoint pens, and a steaming cup of coffee, we sunk into the leather couch at our local Starbucks and hashed out our goals for 2015. We brainstormed ways we wanted to grow, learn new things, change our attitudes and habits, and chase our dreams. It sounds corny, I know. The kind of thing you’d read about in Oprah’s magazine. It reeks of rainbows and unicorns and fields of daises with the headline “follow your dreams” in a scrolly font. But I promise, it’s really quite practical and down-to-earth. FullSizeRender

We wrote down goals on an array of topics: everything from places we want to travel, special date nights we want to go on, specific ways we want to use our money more wisely, friendships we want to invest in more fully, and new skills we’d like to learn in 2015.

If you’re not the kind of person who naturally enjoys goal-setting, you might think this process sounds exhausting, like yet another impossible standard you’re setting for yourself that can never be reached. But it’s not meant to be that way at all.

As I studied to become a Certified Personal Trainer, one of the things I learned about was how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. You’ve probably heard of this concept:

S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  Once you focus on setting SMART goals, you no longer have a list full of vague concepts like “be more financially responsible” or “eat more healthy foods.”   Instead, you write down, “put together a detailed budget plan that I can realistically follow, and put $____  into savings every month.”  Or, “Make home-cooked meals 3 nights a week and pack my lunches for work instead of eating out.” 

smart goal setting conceptThis is key to setting goals that you will actually accomplish. As an example, for most of my life, I’ve always set a goal at the new year to “journal more consistently” and every year, without fail, I do well for a few weeks, maybe a month, before it peters out and my journal goes un-touched for weeks or months on end. I love to journal, but it seemed I could never make it into a consistent habit.

Then, last year, I decided to make it a more specific goal, and I wrote down, “I want to journal every week day about 3 things that I’m thankful for.”  And although it didn’t happen every day, it definitely became a consistent habit that I’ve kept up ever since. Because it became realistic (only doing it on weekdays when I’m actually home and around my journal) and achievable (not pressuring myself to journal pages and pages on end), I was able to reach my goal and grew to love journaling far more than just the “3 things” that were part of my goal.

goal settingBecause I believe goals are a GREAT way to move toward better health, fitness, and overall happiness and quality of life, I’m going to be doing a series of posts on this blog about how to set “S.M.A.R.T. Goals” and actually achieve them. I’ll be sharing a bunch of my own goals for this year, and some of the specific, practical steps I’m taking to achieve them. If you already have the goal thing figured out, then please give me some of your tips. I love learning what works for other people when it comes to setting goals.

On the other hand, if you’ve always been frustrated by unaccomplished goals (i.e. “new year’s resolutions” that are long gone by February) then I hope you’ll follow along with my little blog series and hopefully it’ll encourage you to give goal-setting another chance.  :)

Questions to ponder:

Do you currently set goals each day? What about goals for the year?

Do you have a good or bad taste in your mouth when it comes to goal-setting? Why?

This Article Just Made Me Dislike “The Biggest Loser” Even More

I’ve had a personal dislike for the show “The Biggest Loser” for several years now, (mostly because I have bad memories of watching it during my anorexia and being “inspired” to workout harder and restrict my calories even more), but it’s this kind of inside information that confirms just how awful things are behind the scenes.

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READ THE ARTICLE HERE:

http://nypost.com/2015/01/18/contestant-reveals-the-brutal-secrets-of-the-biggest-loser/

I know a lot of people find it exciting or inspiring to watch the contestants lose weight so quickly, but please read this article and recognize that they are NOT doing it in a healthy way.

Eating less than 1000 calories a day and exercising for 4-5 hours is NOT healthy, period. Forcing yourself to exercise while suffering from a serious muscle tear is horrible for your body. And if your hair is falling out and you’ve lost your menstrual cycle, ladies, that’s your body screaming at you to take better care of yourself.

And what irks me (probably more than anything else) about this show, is all the fat-shaming that takes place by the trainers — both on and off-screen. Fat-shaming is NOT a helpful way to motivate people to lose weight.

As a health coach and personal trainer, I often have to be very upfront with my obese clients about the long-term health dangers they may face because of their extra weight, but there is NEVER a reason to call someone names or shame them because of their size. This has got to stop.

If you need to lose weight, please find a professional who will help you do it in a HEALTHY, long-lasting way that encourages your self esteem and confidence! 

A Letter to Mothers about Body Image

Several weeks ago, I met a girlfriend at Starbucks for some coffee and conversation. (Two of my favorite things.) We were relatively new friends and didn’t yet know a lot about each other, so we began talking about where we grew up, our sports and hobbies during high school, and where our lives had taken us since then. My new friend had read a little bit of my blog and began to ask me about my eating disorder and journey of recovery. After I shared for a little bit, she chimed in and expressed to me that she too had battled an eating disorder throughout her college years. starbucks

There’s often an instant connection, it seems, between two people that have both gone through much the same battles in life. You understand each other in a way that’s only possible because you have similar scars; similar memories, similar struggles and, hopefully, similar triumphs. 

As my friend shared with me her own journey and story, she paused for a sip of coffee, and I took that opportunity to ask, “So, what would you say was your first exposure to a obsessive relationship with food? What were some of the factors that caused you to become worried about your weight and body image?”

She didn’t hesitate, tracing circles on the table with her finger as she replied, “Well, even when I was only 6 or 7 years old, I remember my mom always talking about being on a diet, and she never seemed happy with her body.”

My heart sank as I thought about what that must have been like for my friend to grow up hearing such obsessive messages about weight and size. This mother probably didn’t mean to negatively influence her daughter’s body image, but sadly, she did. And what grieves my heart even more, is that I’d heard this same opening line countless times before.

In my health coaching business, I often meet with young women who are in recovery from an eating disorder. Everyone’s story is unique in various details, but often there are recurring themes that stand out to me from these conversations. And one of those themes that blares repeatedly out at me is how a mother’s relationship with food, body image, and weight makes a enormous impact on her daughter’s values in these areas.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that a client or friend has started off their story with a comment like one of these:

“Well, my mom was always really obsessed with her body when I was growing up…”

“I remember my mom ALWAYS being on a diet…”

“My mom often went on about how much she hated her body and needed to lose weight…”

“My mom never really ate meals with us as a family; she would always just pick at stuff and talk about how she wasn’t hungry or couldn’t eat what we were eating because she was on a diet.”

I haven’t been a mother, so I don’t pretend at all to have this figured out. I don’t know how to raise a daughter with good body image and I wish there was a manual or book that would give us all some step-by-step instructions.

True confession: I’m terrified sometimes to think about raising my own daughter one day in a culture that bombards her constantly with pressure to be a size 2 or have a certain hourglass figure. I want with all my heart to be able to protect her from the obsession, compulsion, and pain that I’ve experienced because of my eating disorder. I wish there was some guaranteed method that would ensure our daughters grew into well-adjusted young women with positive body image and a healthy relationship with food. But there’s not.

nothing wrongIt was drizzling rain on my way home from the coffee shop that day, my heart heavy as I thought about this cycle of mothers and daughters in exhausting battles with body image and weight.

As I sat at a red light with the rain pattering against my windshield, I began to make mental note of some things I would share with mothers if somehow given the opportunity. I didn’t have it in me to cry that day; I just wanted to be able to vocalize the frustration in my heart, and a mental letter seemed to give me that outlet.

One of my former clients was told by her mother when she was 8 years old that she was fat and needed to lose weight. Another young women I corresponded with over email said that her mom put her on a diet at the age of 10 because she thought her daughter was getting “pudgy.”

These are the more atrocious examples of mothers making a horrible impact on their daughters’ body image, and hopefully they are the exception. I’d like to believe that most mothers probably don’t realize the impact they have on their young daughters with the words they use to talk about weight, size, and appearance. I don’t think most mothers purposefully set out to make their daughters feel awful about their bodies. It seems to me, in most cases, mothers just aren’t as aware and careful as they need to be with the seeds they sow in their young daughter’s heart.

My letter to mothers everywhere would be something like this…

“Moms, please, recognize that your daughters are listening to the things you say about your body. They notice when you make comments about needing to lose weight or being unhappy with your thighs or hips or any other part of your body.

Your daughters pick up cues and signals from you about what is attractive and acceptable and this starts at a very young age. When you refer to someone as “fat” or mention that a certain friend needs to lose weight, your daughter remembers that for years to come, even if you think she’s hardly listening to your ‘adult’ conversation.

Your daughters begin to put together their beliefs and values about weight, size, shape, and beauty when they are very young.

If you place value in being thin, attractive, and well-dressed, your daughter will naturally assume those values for herself and model her thinking after your own.

If you are always talking about needing to lose weight, your daughter picks up the message that being thin is the ideal and something that makes her more acceptable to you and to others. not your worth

This is not to say that you shouldn’t care about your health at all. It’s a fine line and a tough balance to strike, for sure. You want to encourage your daughter to be active, to take good care of herself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem becomes when you give her the impression that her worth and value is connected to her weight and size.

Please, be aware of how your words and behaviors are influencing your daughter’s views of beauty and self-worth. Do your best to have a positive and balanced relationship with food, and if you’re battling your own disordered behaviors or body image struggles, consider getting some counseling to help you work through those things, so that you can better encourage your daughter in a positive direction.

My heart aches when I hear story after story of mothers who berate and demean their own bodies throughout their daughter’s childhood. If you’re at war with your own body, how can you expect your impressionable daughter to be at peace with hers? She’s soaking up everything she can from you about what it means to be beautiful. Help her learn that true beauty is in the heart and not the outward appearance. Encourage her to focus more on building character, being adventurous, building friendships, trying new things, and pursuing her passion. Inspire her to focus more on living life than on being the perfect pants size. Show her by your own lifestyle and attitude that weight and size are not what’s truly important. Focus on things that are about who she is, not what she looks like. Compliment her personality and character, and not just her appearance.

Love her for who she is, and communicate that to her daily. And even though you can’t guarantee that you’ll protect her from poor body image or disordered eating behaviors, you will at least set an example through your words and actions every day. In a culture that promotes discontentment and obsession with body weight and size, you have the opportunity to give your daughter an example of a woman who accepts and loves her body the way it was created and designed. Don’t underestimate the power of your example. Your little girl is watching and listening to you every day.

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Fall Favorites, in pictures

Favorite highlights from fall 2014…

Decorating with mini gourds, pumpkins, and pumpkin candles. Love adding simple touches around our place to make it feel festive.

Decorating with gourds, pumpkins, and pumpkin spice candles!

 

Baked some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies at 7am on Halloween. May or may not have eaten cookie batter for breakfast that day.🙂
Baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for our neighbors

Visited the beautiful mountains in Virginia for a friend’s wedding and went on a sunrise run one morning. So peaceful and quiet out there. The cows seemed rather annoyed that I was disturbing their morning solace.

Visiting Virginia for a friend's wedding and soaking up the beautiful country scenery

A sweet client brought me pumpkin spice cupcakes one day!! Rob and I demolished these in no time.

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Loved the pumpkin spice coffee at Nadoz this year. Since I drink my coffee black, it’s fun to try various flavors to mix things up a little bit!

Drinking pumpkin spice coffee at Nadoz... (are you picking up on a pumpkin theme yet?)

 

Took our pup to the pumpkin patch – she wasn’t at all interested in the pumpkins, but loved trying to eat the hay!

Taking our little puppy to the pumpkin patch

 

I love dry erase boards on refrigerators because they give me an excuse to doodle.🙂

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Roasted the seeds from our pumpkins and they turned out really well! I just followed a recipe I found on Pinterest and they were delicious.

Roasting pumpkin seeds from our pumpkins!

We spent lots of the warmer days at the park with Peyton, trying to burn off some of her endless energy!

Playtime at the park with Peyton

Cooked up some homemade butternut squash soup one day when I was nursing a head cold. So soothing and comforting – at least as much as soup can be.😉

Homemade butternut squash soup - delicious!

Ran a chilly 5K race with my hubby in Kirkwood and placed 1st in my age group! The race was even called the HOPE 5K so it felt like destiny for me.  :)

Ran a 5K race and placed 1st in my age group!

 

Lots of warm bowls of oatmeal for breakfast lately, topped with banana and peanut butter.

Lots of hot bowls of oatmeal for breakfast, with banana and peanut butter on top

 

One of my birthday presents from my parents – 3 new kinds of tea to try! My favorite is the Vanilla Caramel.

Birthday present from my parents - 3 new kinds of tea. :)

 

One of my husband’s favorite meals that I’ve been making lately: BBQ Chicken and Gouda Cheese Pizza. YUM.

One of Rob's favorite meals: BBQ Chicken and Gouda Cheese Pizza!

 

Chicken and rice soup with hearty, whole grain bread; from a cafe in Nashville.

Soup with bread...one of the best things about colder weather.

 

Hiking at Castlewood State Park with my hubby and puppy on a beautiful day!

Hiking with my hubby and puppy on a beautiful day!

Fall has been fantastic in so many ways. I’m excited to see what winter holds!🙂

Pumpkins and Puppies… the best of Fall!

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year. I love the changing colors of the leaves, the cooling temperatures after a hot summer (especially a St. Louis summer), and the anticipation of the holidays coming soon. An added bonus is that my birthday happens to be in October, which is perfect timing: I take a short break from arranging gourds and baking pumpkin pies to eat cake and blow out candles. It works perfectly.🙂 Fall holds so many of my favorite things, and every summer I find myself getting a little anxious around the end of August, wondering when the weather will start to cool down and the first signs of the changing seasons will appear.

IMG_0853This Fall has been especially special (that’s a mouthful) because my hubby and I welcomed a new member into our family… a sweet little 12 week old puppy named Peyton. She was abandoned and found on the side of the road with the rest of her litter and subsequently cared for by a foster mom who works with a local shelter.

We took her home with us on September 20th, and instantly fell in love. She is such a sweetheart with an incredibly fun and spunky personality. (Sometimes that “spunky personality” means she destroys our bathroom rug and leaves a nice little “present” behind to sign her masterpiece.)

Everything about fall seems even better with a puppy to share it with. Pumpkin patches, hiking through the woods; snuggling on the couch with warm apple cider. (Might I say again, fall really is the best season??!)

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The first couple weeks with Peyton felt a little like having a baby. We were always coordinating her meal times and potty times and making sure we had toys, bones, blankets, pillows, and every other amenity a puppy might desire. Some might say we spoil her, and I wouldn’t really try to argue with that accusation. From day one, she’s had us wrapped around her little finger paw. She’s definitely got a good thing going on.

IMG_1143We’ve taken her everywhere. One weekend, she went to a Jazz and Blues Festival with us; didn’t seem to be her style of music, per se, but she enjoyed smelling all the BBQ. A few weeks later, I had a mini dance party with her in the living room to PitBull and that was definitely her jam.

Whenever the weather is nice, we try to take her to a small park down the road where she can run off some of her endless energy. She’s getting faster every day and loves bounding across the field to catch one of us.

IMG_1167Raising a puppy seems like a small taste (very small) of what parenthood is like. Rob and I are always checking in with each other about how she’s doing, what she’s discovering (one day, he found her drinking water from the toilet) and I’ve definitely been reading up on dog training techniques in my free time. Of course, dog training is MUCH easier than child training, but I’m already nervous enough, having the fate of a four-legged cutie in my hands. This is good practice for real parenthood, whew.

We’ve had some scary moments, like when the incision from her spaying surgery got red and swollen (she reacted to the glue they used, apparently) and we rushed her in to the vet. Tough day for our little girl. They gave her some antibiotics, and she snuggled in Rob’s arms all the way home.

There have definitely been some frustrating times, too. Like when we went out the second week on a date night (our first time leaving her alone like that) and sat outside at a beautiful restaurant, sipping some red wine and trying not to worry about her. We came home to a house that smelled of…well, you get the gist. She’s had an explosive (sorry, TMI) accident in her crate while we were out, and also managed to walk through the whole thing. Rob and I looked at each other and he said, “You get her a bath, I’ll clean up this mess.”  (I felt like I got the better end of that deal. Hard to be mad at her when she looks so adorable, soaking wet in the tub.)

Peyton at the pumpkin patch. She tried to eat hay the entire time.

At the pumpkin patch – loved trying to eat the hay!

Despite the scary moments and the frustrating potty training experiences, Peyton has been nothing but a bundle of joy (now I really sound like a parent…🙂 ) and we are so thrilled to have her as our little girl. Rob and I both grew up in families with dogs, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to us that we would get a puppy at some point. Peyton is such an amazing little blessing and constantly makes us laugh with her crazy antics. Like the time we were carving pumpkins and she decided to give it a taste…

So, for the near future, I’ve become that annoying person that is constantly posting photos and videos to social media about how my puppy is so adorable. No shame. She IS adorable, right?? How could anyone stare into those puppy eyes and not fall in love?🙂

model

Just a quick picture to say…

From my Instagram this morning:

cards game ice cream

“Being ‘healthy’ for me looks like this. Enjoying ice cream at a Cards game because it sounded good, and not worrying about how many calories or grams of sugar it had. After recovering from #anorexia, I have grown to love a life of BALANCE. Everything in moderation, folks!! There’s nothing fun to me about depriving myself of sweets and treats. Been there, done that, been that person eating carrots while everyone else enjoys cookies. #itsnofun😦  I no longer try to have obsessive control over everything that goes into my mouth.  Life’s too short to miss out on things like ice cream.🙂 I’m so thankful for my journey of #recovery and that I’ve learned to let go of the obsessions!! I feel better now – emotionally AND physically – than I ever have before. #eatingdisorder #everythinginmoderation #balance #lifeistooshort #dontmissout #iloveicecream #edwarrior #edrecovery”