Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Made to Crave Accountability Group Announcement!

I have been avoiding this post for weeks. Actually it's been months. I've avoided it mostly because I was afraid of what everyone would think. I don't like coming across as a sales person yet I have felt the nudge to start a fitness accountability group/book club for so long.

This is something I've needed - the accountability to stay on track with my nutrition, the nudge I need to not skip a workout, and also someone to help make sure I finish a book I have loved and found inspiration from.

As a busy mom, I understand how hard it can be to routinely work out and eat right with a jam-packed schedule. However, if you want to teach your children how to lead healthy lives, taking care of YOURSELF is essential.

So here it goes. I'm fighting my fears and inviting YOU to join me for a 30 day challenge. 



We'll incorporate fitness and nutrition, plus peer support with everyone on the same journey together. The best part is, no one needs to leave their home to complete the program!

Beachbody has an AMAZING OFFER that goes away in a few weeks. Basically an Annual Pass to ALL Beachbody workouts, nutrition guides, and more for what most families pay for 1 month of a gym membership. It's an insane deal. Combine that with Shakeology - duper dense nutrition, and you're set up to succeed. 

If you're a mom wanting to make a lifestyle change, I strongly encourage you to join us! 

We'll begin in a few weeks to give you time to get the supplies you need!

Comment below or message me on Facebook HERE if you're interested. 
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Prepare for Doctor Visits

Before Zachary, doctor appointments for my children consisted of well-check appointments and what seemed like the yearly ear infection visits for antibiotics. I would call and make an appointment, go to the doctor, get the sick child weighed and measured, leave with a prescription order, and that was it. That's all I knew!

Zachary's first appointment with a specialist was at 2 days old. I was a tired, sore, emotional mother who had just gone through the most traumatic delivery I had ever faced. I sat in that doctor's office and the tears flowed. I learned my baby would have 2 upcoming eye surgeries. I was so scared and felt so clueless as to what was ahead.

That 2 day old baby is now 5 1/2 years old and I would have never believed you if you told me the amount of doctors appointments we would have faced so far in his short 5 years. Looking back I had no idea what was involved. It's kind of crazy yet kind of fun to think about how far we've come and how much my husband and I have learned along the way.



For the very first Special Needs Life Hacks topic, we're sharing a little glimpse at what we wish we had known when we first started this journey with literally lists of specialist doctors. My friend Melissa and I will be chatted about this topic and went into how we prepare for doctor visits.

One of my biggest sanity savers is the prep I do the week before an appointment. Right close to that is the sanity saver of learning to leave an extra 30 minutes early to have time to stop for coffee along the way. Coffee in hand when I walk into any hospital or doctor appointment is a must! Ha!

In this webinar you'll hear...

  • What to prep the week before 
  • What to do the night before
  • What to pack for appointment day
  • How to not lose your mind
  • What to expect during and after appointments

Preparing in advance is more of a must than I ever knew. We're share our tips and tricks. 


The webinar is now up on YouTube! Visit the SNLH channel or watch the episode below.





Monday, February 6, 2017

Meal Planning vs. The Grocery Store Scramble

Welcome! We are diving back into another Simply Fit posts topic. We've slowly been diving into small simple steps that can build on each other to make some great healthy progress. I need little attainable goals to build on if I'm going to stay consistent. How about you?



Here's what we've discussed so far...

Step 1: Increasing Water and Decreasing Sugar

Step 2: Increasing Clean Foods and Decreasing Processed Foods


Step 3: Increase Stamina and Decrease Your Expectations


Step 4: Increase Support and Decrease a Negative Attitude



Step 5: Meal Planning vs. the Grocery Store Scramble



This meal planning step is a make it or break it factor for me. It truly is a time saver on so many levels and takes me just a few minutes when I am set up correctly. Meal planning does not need to be overwhelming. 

Why Meal Plan?


Save Money:


Meal planning is something I have started and stopped again and again over the years. Making a plan for what your family will eat over the week allows you to know exactly what to buy from the grocery store. Stick to that list and you'll most likely save money on groceries! 

Eat Healthy:

If I walk into our local Walmart, Safeway, or even Costco without a plan of what we need, the scramble begins. On the spot I try to remember what is empty in our cupboards. I start to panic on what to make for dinner for the next couple of days and before I know it I'm throwing the easy and usually unhealthy options into my cart!

How to Meal Plan?


I have two tried and true methods I have used over the years to meal plan. Honestly I bounce around between the two. Both methods make the time it takes to meal plan super easy and quick!

Plan to Eat:


I can't rave enough about Plan to Eat. If you find most of your recipes are from other blogs and websites, this is totally the way to go. When I see a recipe I like, all it takes is a click of the mouse and that recipe is magically sucked into my Plan to Eat digital "recipe box." 

Since all the recipes I want to make that I've seen online are already in my digital recipe box all it takes is sitting down to the Plan to Eat website to start meal planning. Open up the calendar, drag and drop meals, and THAT'S IT! Click the Shopping List button, print your list, and head to the store. 

With this option I can meal plan in literally less than 5 minutes.

Fill your digital recipe box with those healthy recipes you love or want to try and you're going to plan quickly + stay on track with those health and fitness goals. Simply Fit in action!


SaveSave Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Printed Month of Meals:


This method will take maybe an hour of your time but once it's set up - that's it. Done. 

I sat down with my favorite cookbooks and opened a spreadsheet on my computer. I made a grid with 7 columns and 4 rows. Fill each square with a recipe including the page of the cookbook it can be found on and you suddenly have 4 WEEKS of meals done and planned! 

Sunday afternoons I typically sit down, look at what week I'm on and simply make the grocery list. Again - once that initial step is done, my meals are planned and grocery list is done in 5 minutes or less. 


Try one of these methods - I think you'll be glad you did! I find I'm MUCH more less likely to cheat and eat an unhealthy meal or buy a bunch of junk food when I've planned ahead. Give it a try!

Do you meal plan? What's your favorite method?



Friday, February 3, 2017

Life Lately

January came and went so fast I don't know how 31 days really happened. We were met with a flurry of doctor visits and testing that left us exhausted and ready for a fresh new month! So how about a Life Lately to catch you up.


Call me a hermit but my favorite way to spend a Friday night is at the dining room table with my little family. Coffee, maybe a giant bowl of fresh popped popcorn, and my rowdy crew playing a board game. I call that the perfect evening. I feel like we've finally "arrived" - even Daniel can join in on the big people games now. Catan, Castle Panic, and Forbidden Island have been the favorites this month.


I may or may not have loudly yelled and made Peter go back around the block to the consignment store after I saw this beautifully bright red play kitchen in the window as we drove by. You see, I have been wanting to get Zachary a kitchen for the longest time. His speech therapist uses one at therapy regularly. They open and close the microwave, work on words like hot, stir, bowl, etc. He thinks it's fun, especially throwing the play dishes. I think it's the cutest play kitchen I've ever seen. And the price was extremely affordable.


Of course Zachary is truly a BOY and prefers to knock over the kitchen and crawl on top of it. Sigh...


Some days, most days, it feels like Zachary will never get this walking thing. Then there are days like this when he gets brave and lets go of his therapist and it seems like we're so close. It'll be on his terms and in his timing when those first steps eventually come. But we're doing all we can to get him ready. And we wait. And trust.


While there is a certain 5 year old in our family who seems to take up so much of my time and energy and is ever present on my social media pages, there's this big kid who's growing up faster than I would like to admit. Our favorite first born who is quite tremendous turned 17 in January. SEVENTEEN. I don't quite get it.


Travis is smart, kind, crazy, and somedays too much like his mother. He keeps us awake at night with his guitar and ukulele playing, loud video gaming, and midnight dinner making. But I wouldn't trade that for anything. He's pretty great!


As we checked on Zachary before we headed to bed one evening mid-January, Peter and I witnessed what was most likely Zachary's first seizure. That moment led to many many phone calls, a trip to the hospital for a doctor appointment, and an EEG just 2 weeks later. The EEG process is enough to make any parent want to pull their hair out followed by a week of said parents desperately needing rest and extra sleep. We are so grateful for the top notch medical facilities near us. We feel so blessed. 

And Zachary is doing great, thanks to the prayers of so many loving people and a faithful God.


Sometimes a mama needs to rest. This mama doesn't rest very well at all. I'm pretty good and keeping up with the busyness and stress that comes with the journey and trials we walk. But this month my body decided it was time to catch the cold that was going around and it knocked me down hard. I don't quite ever remember having a cold as bad as I had a week ago. I laid in our big brown recliner for days, slept, and watched lots of When Calls the Heart. Peter is quite the "Fommy" as we all like to call him (father/mommy) and kept our kids fed and the kitchen cleaned for the week. I rested more than I have in years. Definitely not the way I wanted to be forced to rest, but looking back I think it's just what I needed.

So here's to NyQuil, Kleenex, and Airborne - either one of you fabulous companies want me to be your sponsor?!


One last picture. It's fun to watch the Harry Potter stage re-start as our next round of kids get older. Kaylee has had numerous mornings lately where I can barely get her out of bed - thanks to late night Harry Potter reading sessions.

Just a few days ago this almost 9 year old dove into book #1 while Peter and I were nearby doing our workout. I heard a loud snicker and then my silly boy sounding out the word "Dum-ble-dore" as he laughed again. "That's such a funny name" he said. The magic of book reading is just starting for that little guy.

Don't forget you can always keep up with our family on our YouTube channel to follow us throughout the month.

Happy February!

-Jessica



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Special Announcement :: Two Are Better Than One

It's always an exciting time in any pregnancy, that 20 week ultrasound to put a worried mother's mind at ease. Pretty much all parents look forward a chance to visibly see that tiny heart beat, to get the classic profile shot, and find out the gender of your growing little one. 

I remember it like it was yesterday - our doctor saying "I don't know exactly what that is" when the large white spots were noticed on Zachary's eyes on the ultrasound. It was from that day on things felt different. Unclear on what was happening, we kept the news to ourselves, only sharing the concern with a select few. 

That was the beginning of a strange loneliness that can be felt by parents with children who have special needs or medical issues. Even though you can be wrapped in love and concern from friends and family, (whom I'm SO grateful for and desperately need) there's something amazing that helps fill the strange loneliness when you're able to find someone who understands and has been in similar situations before. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)



When you find your "people" who get it and can share their experiences with you, there's an instant bond and a feeling of hope.

I have found my "people" and I'm so grateful. 

After we had a name for Zachary's syndrome I quickly found an amazing group of mothers in a Facebook group who also each had a child with the same rare Lowe Syndrome. Although we haven't met face to face I feel like I have so many friends. Friends and mothers who understand our medical questions that include big hard to understand words, moms who are going to the same piles of doctor appointments we face, and fellow parents who I can ask a question to day or night. 

I believe this is the beautiful side of social media. I'm so grateful to live in the day and age we live in and have the ability to make these connections. 

To my Lowe Syndrome mamas - I couldn't do this without you!

Another connection I have made that has been a massive blessing was a friend I truly say was at a God-ordained appointment about 3 years ago. I had won a ticket to a blogging conference and before I knew it was hopping a plane. I traveled alone to a conference where I knew no one, and was a bit unsure why God wanted me to attend. When my introverted self took a break from all the chatter in a quiet room across the hall, I sat down next to Melissa. We introduced ourselves, chatted, made a connection, but that was it. 

Little did I know three years later I would have turned to Melissa with questions more time than I can count. Melissa is like a walking medical encyclopedia - has walked through many things we have, and has a passion for blogging like I do. We've been a perfect fit even though she lives on the other side of the country.

I'm super excited to share that Melissa and I have a fun announcement! 



Melissa and I are launching a series we are calling Special Needs Life Hacks. Many times I have said "I wish I would've known that earlier." Trust me - I don't have all the answers. And on some topics Melissa and I may have completely different approaches. But we'll be sharing what we've each learned along the way as we have navigated doctor appointments, therapy sessions, feeding tubes, and even caring for the rest of our family amidst the crazy! 

What to expect...

Bi-weekly posts from Melissa and I at each of our websites covering the same topic. The Thursday following our post going out, we will have a webinar with both of us for you to join in on. You will be able to ask questions, hear our stories, experiences, and things we've learned along the way. Don't worry - the webinar will be saved so you can watch it later! 

We pray our posts and webinars/videos become a great resource for those starting their new journey with a special needs or medically fragile child. We may not have all the answers, but we can share what's worked or hasn't worked for us!

Whether it's a text to my dear friend Kim who has a special needs daughter, a quick Facebook post to a fellow Lowe Syndrome mom, or a voxer message to Melissa - I don't feel alone. 

Find your "people" to walk this journey with you!

I hope you'll join us next Tuesday for our very first week Special Needs Life Hack! You can find Melissa blogging at Blessed Simplicity. Go follow her right now!

TO REGISTER for our first webinar February 9 head HERE or click the image below.












Thursday, January 5, 2017

THURSDAY VLOG


Happy Thursday! It's a snowy and extremely COLD morning here. Schools are closed so the Christmas break has been extended!

Our Thursday VLOG is up - watch it on our YouTube channel HERE or click below to watch!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Simply Fit in the New Year

It's that time of year again.


People are setting their New Years resolutions and this year so many are jumping on the  One Word bandwagon. I've had a few different "one words" throughout the years and this year's word is one that I just couldn't get off my heart and mind. Consistency. There's many parts of my life which could use a bit more consistency whether it's in my parenting, homemaking, work, internet aspirations, and fitness.

Later I may expound more on how I'm setting little consistency goals this year. But today lets talk health and fitness.

If you've followed my weight loss journey at all throughout the past year you probably know that I found a way to drop a lot of weight. Hooray!

In the past year, though, I learned how to put a portion of that weight back on. Boo!

Basically I lost momentum and consistency. Busyness and laziness crept in. I'd take a day or two off of exercising, skip a day logging my food, and BAM! It's amazing how quickly old attitudes and habit can creep back in. I'd start and stop "eating right again" all the while being okay with cookies after school with the kids or going back for another scoop of seconds.

If you followed my Simply Fit posts from last year I talked about some of the small simple steps that can build on each other to make some great healthy progress. It's time to start the new year off with those goals again. I need little attainable goals to build on if I'm going to stay consistent. I'm not successful with big new years resolutions that will be easy to quit in a day or two.



Here's what we've discussed so far...

Step 1: Increasing Water and Decreasing Sugar

Step 2: Increasing Clean Foods and Decreasing Processed Foods


Step 3: Increase Stamina and Decrease Your Expectations

Step 4: Increase Support and Decrease a Negative Attitude


DON'T try to do this alone. You will find it so hard to commit and be consistent. We all need the support of others to see these lofty weight loss or healthy eating goals make a difference. I find my negative attitude and wanting to quit rush in just a few days into my "fresh start" if I'm all on my own.

2 Steps to Increase Fitness Support


1. Take someone with you


Starting to walk each evening? Ask a neighbor to join you!

Planning to go to the gym every morning? As a friend to meet you there!

Waking up early and sneaking downstairs before the kids wake up to exercise in the living room? Text a friend when you're done and tell them to check in if they haven't heard from you!

My husband is my "someone" doing this with me. We workout together in our living room most evenings. Knowing one of us will be the motivated one and drag the other in front of that TV is what I need. I also have a friend who texts me every morning to let me know she's finished her workout. Because 2 are better than 1 when it comes to keeping those fit goals.

2. Online support


When I was at my heaviest weight, I found my first glimmer of motivation from an online challenge. It was a simple challenge that just required signing up, printing off the exercise tracker, and using a specific hashtag on twitter. The steps were easy and I found motivation and support from following the hashtag and seeing others pushing to the end as well. I logged 1800 minutes of walking and exercise during those few months - a massive accomplishment for me at the time.

After that first challenge I joined a large Facebook group all about support, education, and accountability. I was always eager to log into the large group and let everyone know I did it - I made it through another day of exercise. In that group I learned how to eat, what to eat, and had coaches teaching me along the way. I'm still in that large group and we cheer each other on every day.

In addition to being a part of the large fitness group on Facebook, I also have gone through seasons of leading small online groups and also have a teeny group of 3 of us who log in each day to say we worked out and what we ate. Again - it's knowing someone else is doing it too and they're keeping you accountable.

We are so blessed to live in 2017 and have so much online education and support at our fingertips. Take advantage of it!




**So that's your challenge for the next week. Find the support you need. You'll lose that negative attitude and hopefully stick with it longer to reach those goals to the better you.

I'll share later this week a couple of online support options you can jump into with me. But if these tips sparked ideas, jump on it! Phone that friend and get your bodies moving today!

I'm here if you need someone. I'm cheering for you!

-Jessica
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