3 Basic Self Care Practices During Stressful Times

This post is sponsored by our wonderful friends at Eye Stunnish. 

Taking care of ourselves is so important. I love that taking care of ourselves is becoming more prevalent. It’s so important to take care of ourselves so we can put our best foot forward. As a mother, wife, student, and friend, I have many roles and responsibilities to fill, and if I don’t take care of myself I can’t do any of things I want and need to do very well.

So what does self care really mean? Self care is about taking care of yourself now, to help yourself in the future. It’s as simple as that. Ask yourself how you can take care of your future self by doing something positive now.  The thing about anything getting popular is that it becomes a joke. The term self-care is now used as an excuse to blame poor behavior on. Sometimes it looks like a bubble bath & chocolate, but most often times self-care is looks like responsibilities and hard work. Self care isn’t just about indulging to feel less stressed, it’s about taking care of yourself now to help yourself in the future. Everything you do now builds a foundation for your future self. If you want your future self to be more responsible, don’t use “self care” as an excuse to get you out of your responsibilities. If you want to build a business, lose weight or any other worthwhile thing, it takes a lot of things you might not actually want to do. I’m prefacing with this because it’s not always “pretty” doing the things that actually take care of you.

Applying self-care during our stressful times is critical, but also the hardest time to make it a priority. Many people asked me how I dealt with the stress of living in the hospital and took care of myself. Self care was incredibly important for me during this time. I wasn’t perfect, but here are the things I learned that were the absolute most important things for me to do so I could function and feel like a normal human. There are many, many ways to practice self care, but I believe these are the basic necessities if you are enduring a stressful time.  

1.   Eat well 

During a stressful time many of us forego our healthy habits and emotionally eat in the name  #selfcare, when in reality that’s when we need to keep it together the most! The better I ate in the hospital the better I felt. That’s still true now! Jeff and I are both in school working super hard and have crazy schedules. There is a huge difference between when I’m stress eating donuts because of a math test and not even thinking about food because I ate healthy and I’m satisfied and I don’t need to worry about food while I’m studying. Eating well to feel and look our best lays a solid foundation for the future. Self is about enjoying donuts AND eating our vegetables, so don’t forget the vegetable part! If you know a stressful event is coming up that will ask a lot you, planning ahead for what you will eat will allow you to worry less about what you will eat and let you focus on what is most important. It will also help you feel your best. What we eat has such a huge affect on how we feel. 

2.   Get ready for the day.

I don’t know about you, but how I feel usually is reflected by what I wear.  When I had Grey I had mild postpartum depression and pretty bad postpartum anxiety. I had so many emotions and I felt overwhelmed as a brand new mother. Grey, as you all know, is a passionate, energetic little girl, and as a baby was the same way. That energy was used for crying most of the time and as a new mom I felt overwhelmed. She needed so much attention I lost myself and I had no concept of self care. I gave up self care because I felt like I couldn’t waste time on myself, but the more I let myself go the worse my depression and anxiety got. The biggest thing that helped me was getting dressed and ready for the day everyday. Sure leggings are amazing and magical, but on the hard days I knew if I got dressed, put on some makeup and a piece jewelry, I felt so much better. I felt human and beautiful! 

In the hospital with Zola, I wore comfortable clothing a lot, but I made myself get dressed in real clothes, not pjs! My clothes didn’t need to be fancy, but I needed to feel normal and that life was actually happening. I focused actually focused a lot on figuring out my personal style. Loving the clothes I wore helped me love my new postpartum body. That’s why I’ve partnered with Eye Stunnish to share their beautiful jewelry. Wearing a special piece of jewelry during a stressful time reminds me that I’m still living life and that I don’t need to wait for “special occasions” to wear cute things! I often wore jewelry only when I thought I was “allowed” to. Holidays, date nights, church, etc. but Monday in the hospital and Tuesday during my math test deserved it too! Get up and get dressed, show up for life! This getting ready tool was so important for me to feel a little peace during what felt like a lot of chaos. During a stressful time, especially during a hospital stay, you will need to feel like there is normalcy to your life and feel confident. 

I want other women to feel beautiful, confident and peaceful during times of stress. I know from personal experience how much something as simple as a piece of jewlry can make such a huge difference. RIght now Eye Stunnish is having their Valentine’s Sale and everything is 20% off and if you use the code GIVEN10 for an addional 10% off! 

3. Knowing your priorities               

It’s very trendy right now to focus on ‘finding balance’ in our lives. Balance is turning into another word for perfection these days where everyone does it all. Look, you can do anything you set your mind to, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything. The pressure to have “balance” in all things is a joke. There is no such thing!  I believe that life is not about balance, but rather about seasons and priorities. There are seasons in life with lots of availability to do many things and seasons where our priories take up lots of time and we don’t have time for other things. During our time in the hospital our priority was 1. Personal mental health/stress relief  2. Marriage 3. Zola  4. Grey. That was it. If other things came up that we could agree to we did, but if it interfered with our priorities it was easy to make our decision.

Do our priorities surprise you? Most people probably think Zola should have been number one, but remember what self care is. It’s laying a foundation for your future self. Zola was a huge priority, but her care and safety was done by professionals, so we all we needed to do was show up for her and love her. Grey was taken care of by our families, which was a huge relief, so we saw her when we could, but it wasn’t that often because it just wasn’t realistic. Personal stress relief and mental health was incredibly important for our sanity. Jeff and I had to prioritize time outside of the hospital everyday. Sometimes together, sometimes separately. Keeping our marriage strong was also important. We didn’t want the stress of the hospital to create a wedge between us. Jeff and I dealt very differently with the stress we endured, so being able to respect each of our personal grieving processes was really important. 

Could you imagine my stress level if I felt the need to find “balance” between my kids during that time? That’s why focusing on priorities is a much easier system. I spend way more time with both of my kids now, but I also have to sacrifice time because I’m in school now. there is never a perfect balance, only priorities and when you ask yourself if something you’re asked to do aligns with your priorities it’s easy to make decisions. 

Those are my tips for self care. What are your favorite tips? Do you practice any of these? I’d love to hear and learn from you and your perspective! Please share with me! I plan on creating an even longer list of self care tips!

Zola at 9 moths Old

 

Our little Zola is 9 months old! I can’t believe how fast she has grown! There were days and weeks in the hospital where I could only hang onto the sliver of hope of the future with Zola that would one day happen. during those days I started to think about the future so differently. I knew that happiness was being with Zola on that day, in that moment. I realized that focusing solely on the future for my happiness was a dangerous way of living. We didn’t know how Zola’s future would turn out, and we still don’t, but I know that by just changing my attitude from future focus to what each day gave me, I was a much happier, more grateful person.

 

 Zola is growing in so many ways! She is getting more mobile, but still struggles with weak chest muscles. So we try to help her with different exercises to build up her strength. She can roll and twist and push her little body around though and can get pretty far! She is still the happiest little babe and smiles and waves everywhere we go. “Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.” Name that movie! 😉

 

Zola is also getting so good at eating food! She started showing interest about 2 months ago. So I’d give her tastes of my food here or there. I had zero expectations and decided I would set small goals for her, but be happy with whatever she did. Due to her g-tube and past eating issues, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of her eating skills. So far she hasn’t shown any signs of being “behind”. She is a good chewer and eats more solid foods than pureed foods. Some of her favorite foods are: scrambled eggs, avocado, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, broccoli, chicken, steak, applesauce, smoothies, bananas, and many more! The other night she had cauliflower rice for the first time and loved it so much she was trying to steal my food 🙂 Also this meal above was one of my favorites! We are 4 days away from ending our second round of Whole30. This was garlic shrimp, cauliflower rice, half an avocado, and asparagus.

 

Grey is obsessed with Zola. Each morning when Grey wakes up the first person she talks to is Zola. “Good morning Zo!!” She loves holding her and gets so excited when Zola laughs. Grey’s love language is physical affection so she tries to give Zola a lot of hugs and kisses and it almost always ends up in someone crying. We are in a phase of learning how to share too. Grey has a hard time sharing with anyone, but it’s a whole new concept of the toys we buy are not just for her, but for Zola too. It’s a work in progress!

This face is a new thing Zola’s been doing the last week or so. I’m obsessed with it!! She also has started saying Mama more consistently and it’s been melting me. She is just such an easy baby. I’m counting my blessings and lucky stars, because she has made the transition to school so easy. We love our SuperZola and we are so grateful for the lessons she teaches us every day. Jeff and I have been talking about our future plans a lot lately. (one of my favorite things to do!) and we realized our biggest goal is to just show our girls the world. We want them to experience as much as possible. We want to take advantage of every day we have in this beautiful life. As you all go into this new week, I hope you try to recognize all the good and beautiful things where ever you are! This week our goals are to keep working hard on school stuff and keep adjusting our time to figure out a good balance for family/school life. Personally, I’m working really hard on time management and maximizing my efficiency.

 

Love,

Cortney

 

Men’s Christmas Shopping Guide – Small Shop Edition

 

Small shops for men are a lot harder to find than for women, who would have thought 😉 But i think i did a good job and chose some amazing companies!

 

Shinesty   

 

Shinesty is a super rad company that has the best suits on the market. We are talking santa beards and your man’s fave NFL team  logo printed suit jackets. They also have boxers and swim suits, all with the best themes!! And if you wanna take it one step further, get yourself a matching dress!

 

Pomelo Travel

If the man in your life loves to travel or wants to travel, Pomelo Travel is the way to go! They are a subscription based travel company that offers all the best flight deals to all over the world. (They have a free option too!) The premium subscription is the best way to go for the most up to date deals. Jeff and I love traveling and Pomelo Travel makes it super easy to do on a budget!

 

21 Rhinos

 

21 Rhinos are the BEST ties! I know it’s a little cliche to add a tie on the list, but these are not just any ties. These are amazing because they are personalized! I bought Jeff one for Father’s day this year and I’ll never go back to regular ties. Not only does he get a super sweet tie, but he gets one with a picture of me printed on the back of it! 😉 Use code cortney15 for 15% off your next order this code is good until Dec 22nd.

 

Kanvas by Katin

When I asked Jeff for input on this guide his first response was Katin! This is a surf shop in Seal Beach, California and one Jeff grew up going to. They have awesome shirts, trunks, and surfboards! Even if the man in your life doesn’t surf, Kanvas by Katin T-shirts are a super “californian” item and good for anyone.

 

Last, but not least

 

Mentionables

This is a bonus gift. One for you and your man! Mentionables is an amazing company. It’s a tasteful, model-free lingerie company. It doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable by shopping and they have the prettiest stuff!

Finally reunited!!

We are finally back in Hawaii as a family of four! The last few days have been a total whirlwind. My last week in California was filled with stress and excitement. Packing is so stressful!! Especially when you have a weight limit and way too much stuff. Like, when did my clothes start weighing so much? I was so frustrated because I felt that I wasn’t going to have the things I needed. Then a friend told me, “everything is gonna workout somehow, that’s been the theme of the last 9 months!” It really hit me that I was stressing about something silly and that it was true, somehow it will workout! So after I thought about it, I decided to focus on solutions. One of them was to just pay the extra fee for extra weight. Lol 😂

My packing buddy
Taking a break to snuggle her to sleep

I stayed up till 4am the night before we had to leave. That wasn’t the best idea. I was so exhausted, but I surprisingly didn’t hit a “wall” that day. I said goodbye to my family, I am so grateful for them and their generosity!  Jeff’s mom picked me up really early and we headed to CHLA for the last time! Zola got a chest X-ray and we met with her cardiologist. He was happy with all of her progress. We talked for a little bit about the third surgery that she’ll have when she’s 3 years old. It felt so relieving, and at the same time strange to talk about a surgery so far away, but it was good to talk about it. We met with Zola’s dietitian and went over our goals for Zola’s growth and feeding schedule. We said goodbye to the  awesome staff and that was it! We were done!!

We got done around noon and headed out to lunch. I got to the airport at 2:45. My mother-in-law helped me figure out all my luggage and off I was! It was so crazy walking through the airport. I was buzzing with adrenaline and I was grateful for the energy because otherwise I probably would have fallen asleep or started crying from lack of sleep. I made it through security, but it took practically an hour. Zola cried most of the time because she was hungry and sleepy. I didn’t feel stressed though, even though I had to wait a long time because my bags kept getting flagged. The Traders Joe’s gluten free brownie mix (the best ever) and my vital proteins bone broth protein powder in my carry on had to be tested and both my carry ons were large so they had to be rescanned and dug through. It wasn’t a big deal but once they were done I had to figure out how to carry it all again. I had it all set up easy to carry before, not anticipating I had to take off my baby carrier, plus the hold ups from TSA, so I was struggling grabbing everything.

This sweet old man and his blind daughter came up to me and offered to carry them to my gate. They were so sweet and I’m so grateful for their help. Once on the plane I sat down and felt so relieved. I didn’t think I was stressed but man it was stressful until we got on the plane. I grabbed my headphones before we got on the plane and I knew Zola was gonna be sleeping soon so my plan was to watch a few shows and sleep too. Then I looked at my phone and it was at 29% battery 😐  I had just started a 6 hour flight! There was no way I could get my charger either. It was up in my carry on in my purse. So this began the most boring flight of my life. I tried to sleep when Zola slept, played with her and I watched the plane tracker on the screen. It was so longgggggg 😣 We finally landed half an hour late and I was so happy!

 

Zola was my only form of entertainment

bored out of my mind

Jeff and Grey met me at the baggage claim and I cried. Grey came up to me and said, “mommy I’m so glad you’re here now! I missed you!”My heart felt so full holding both my babies at the same time. Hugging Jeff for the first time in 4 weeks and seeing his face when he got to hold Zola was the best too! It was such a beautiful moment.

Jeff was so happy and Zola was so exhausted. It was midnight for her!

 

Grey couldn’t stop talking to Zola

When we got back to our apartment I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I didn’t notice it at first, just some vague restlessness. I laid in bed and was so uncomfortable. It made no sense! I was so happy, grateful and exhausted, but so uneasy laying in that bed. It’s super comfortable too, so that’s not even an issue. I’ve been listening to a podcast that has been helping me stay in control during stressful or anxious times, so I was able to just feel the anxiety and let it go for the most part. The next day I felt great and we celebrated Grey’s birthday. I’ll do a dedicated post about it later, but I will say it was so much fun!

That night though, the same thing happened to me again. I laid there so tired, yet so anxious. Whenever I’m feeling vague anxiety I try to tackle it with giving it a specific feeling. Anxiety loves vagueness, but once you label it it’s easier to find solutions. I also asked myself, “what am I thinking?” So often our thoughts get far away from us and we don’t even know what we are thinking. Our thoughts produce our feelings and so I knew if I could figure it out I could help myself, but I couldn’t pinpoint anything other than the fact that I was afraid. I was frustrated. So I focused on breathing. I breathed slow long deep breaths until I fell asleep.

Wednesday night comes and Jeff and I are laying in bed talking and I mention my anxiety. I had told him about it the first night but I mentioned again how uneasy I’d been feeling. As I talked about the feelings I felt, all of a sudden it hit me. I was afraid for Zola. I was so happy to be there with Jeff and Grey, but Zola’s whole life centered around doctors appointments and people much smarter than me to keep her healthy. Leaving the comfort of having CHLA just a car ride away was so reassuring. Moving here and not having the system of support and really truly being on our own was terrifying.

Now that I knew what I was feeling I was able to listen to those feelings with a new perspective. I breathed deeply allowing myself to relax, and then just reminded myself of all the steps I would take to ensure her security. We are in the middle of transferring our insurance and so I know I will feel loads better when we are completely done with that. My anxiety may never go away with Zola, but using these tools to help diffuse it has changed my life! It’s crazy how I feel so much more in control over it.

But other than that, life is good! We are reorganizing the house now that we have to move myself and Zola in. We’ve been trying to slowly decorate for Christmas and just in general because we never did that before. Anyone interested in an apartment tour? Our home is so tiny, but I love it.

Love Cortney ❤️

Holiday Gift Guide for Women! Shop Small Edition

Let’s shop small for the Holidays!

 

There are two types of people in this world. Those that plan and shop for Christmas presents before November and then there are normal people. Justtt kidding, sorta. 😉 I always think I will try to shop for Christmas before November, but that actually never happens and I’m kinda glad it doesn’t because not only are some of the best deals found during the holiday season, but the spirit of it all and the fun of shopping during the next few months has me full of JOY. Do you get excited about Christmas shopping? Gifts are my love language so any excuse to give or receive gifts I’m all for!

Well, I wanted to help out and try to make it a little easier on you this year by sharing some fun holiday shopping guides. The first guide is from small shops! I am really passionate about supporting local businesses and small shops. Knowing who I buy from and that it’s impacting someone right away is pretty awesome. Of course, there is nothing wrong with shopping at big stores, I’m going to do an Amazon gift guide, and I think the Hearth and Hand line at Target from Jojo and Chip take up half my Christmas list, but I still think there is something so special about choosing small companies to support. So I encourage you to check out some of my favorite shops! I chose each shop because I genuinely love each one and some I even know personally! So without further ado, let’s shop!

 

 

Ladies first 😉 I chose to do the first shopping guide for the women in our lives. I’ve chosen items that would help us relax, feel beautiful, and confident. Some of these are on my personal Christmas list!

Let’s start with IVORY TUB

 

Ivory Tub is the cutest bath bomb shop with tons of amazing scent combinations. We deserve to relax and have a little time for ourselves. Pop one of these bad boys into your bath and you’ll feel tons better. I’m a firm believer that when we take care of ourselves we take care of our families even better. I wouldn’t be mad if Santa filled up my entire stocking with these.

 

Wink Naturals Sleep Melts

 

We absolutely love Wink Naturals! Their products work and are completely natural and safe for our kiddos. The sleep melts are technically for kids, but really it’s for mamas who need their kids to go to sleep! Have Santa stick this in your stocking as well so you’ll actually have time to take that bath! 😉 Also, a little birdie told me that on Black Friday they are sharing a 50% off code on their Instagram! Pluss the first 500 orders over 40 bucks get a free kids shirt! Such an amazing deal!

 

Lipsense By Senegence

 

If you don’t know about Lipsense then you are truly missing out!! LipSense is a liquid lip color that bonds to your lips and stays there for up to 18 hours. NO smudging, no smearing, water-proof, Kiss-proof, lipstick! I am an independent distributor for SeneGence ( who makes LipSense) and if youre not into lipstick there is a whole line of smudge-proof makeup! Eye shadow, blush, concealer, etc. Email me at giventoday@gmail.com with the subject LipSense if you’re interested in getting some for this holiday season!

 

Fresh Market Threads

 

 

 

I love me some Fresh Market Threads!! I love the girls behind the shop even more though. They have so many cute, classy pieces and this top is definitely on my Christmas list! Their whole site is full of gems!

 

The Shine Project

The Shine Project is a beautiful company that employs inner city youth to make their beautiful jewelry,  teach valuable business skills, and give college scholarships. If you are going to buy someone special in your life beautiful jewelry then consider getting a piece from The Shine Project and not only get a great gift, but also help someone’s future.

 

Micale Lynn

If you haven’t already heard, I’ll let you in on a little secret, scrunchies are totally back in style! I was a little unsure at first if I could get on board, but after seeing Micale Lynn’s cutest scrunchy designs I hopped right on the scrunchy train! Plus Grey is obsessed with scrunchies. This is such a fun gift idea!

 

The Stock Place

 

The Stock Place is one of the best small clothing shops on Instagram! I love so many of their pieces, but I especially love their shoe collections. Check out the entire shop to see the most up-to-date trends and unique fashion finds.

 

Diff Eyewear

 

Okay so I don’t think Diff really counts as a “small” shop anymore, but they have such an amazing cause behind their company that I couldn’t help myself! You have to check out the cute sunglasses they have and use this link for $10 off your first purchase, with every purchase from Diff they donate a pair of reading glasses to someone in need. How amazing is that?!

 

Brickyard Buffalo

 

Okay if nothing so far has piqued your interest then Brickyard Buffalo has your back! It is your one stop shop for cute gifts that are all on sale! The best combination if you ask me. BB spotlights different small companies with products from clothes, to shoes, to house decor and more. Send your significant other to this site and they can’t go wrong with holiday shopping.

 

Bathpack Brush

 

Last, but certainly not least is the bathpack brush, it’s a better version of the wet brush and cheaper too! It’s only 5 bucks so make sure Santa sticks one in your stocking! Santa is getting me two of them and I can’t wait because I get the worst tangles in my hair and unfortunately I think Grey inherited this trait too… so bathpack brush to the rescue!

 

 

I’ll be back with a men’s guide, a children’s guide, and an Amazon guide. I love the holidays and I love gifts! If you enjoyed this guide share it with your friends and family! Leave a comment sharing with me if you are getting something from one of these shops! I’d love to hear what you get 🙂

Jeff’s Before and After Results of Whole30

For a long time, both Cortney and I have been very passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Let me clarify that, I’ve always been into working out, but I’ve usually eaten terribly, and Cortney has pushed me to eat healthier. Through years of playing college basketball, I’ve learned what I need to do to push my body to be in shape. Similarly, Cortney has spent years researching diet and nutrition and has a strong understanding of what we need to live an optimal, healthy life.

 

A few years ago, Cortney started talking about this thing she called the Whole30 reset. When she first described it to me I had no interest in trying it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Whole30, basically you eat a ton of vegetables, some fruit, moderate protein, and healthy fats, but you take out any inflammatory foods like dairy and grains. I’ll go into more details about the purpose and rules further down.

 

I finally agreed to try out Whole30 with Cortney in January 2015. My main motivation was that a bunch of my coworkers were doing a weight loss challenge. We each put in a few dollars every week and the winner got the pot at the end. It was right after we had our first daughter, Grey, and I had gotten out of shape, so it was a good time for me. I didn’t start Whole30 until there were about two and a half weeks left in the competition. Although I ended up winning the competition, as soon as I won, I suddenly didn’t feel motivated to complete Whole30. I made it 17 days and then gave up.

 

I tried again just a few months ago. Similarly, it was right after we had our second daughter, Zola, and had lived in the hospital with her for two months. (If you aren’t familiar with Zola and her story, check it out here) The day after we got out I decided to start Whole30. I had confidence it would help me shed off the unwanted stress-weight I had gained. 11 days into my second attempt at Whole30, we had an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room with Zola that turned into an overnight stay. Because of all that was going on I had gone most of the day without eating, and when I finally had time, the hospital had no real options. Plus, between not eating for almost 15 hours and all the stress of Zola I ended stopping the program. One of the biggest keys to doing Whole30 is planning, and I hadn’t planned for this day at all.

 

Despite my previous attempts, I’ve always been impressed with the Whole30 program. I’ve seen some crazy before and after pictures, and the two times I tried it I saw results even in those short time frames. The point of whole30 is to give your body a complete reset. You focus on only the healthiest foods and eliminate the rest. So that’s what I did! For 30 days! One thing I love about whole30 is that entire program is free. There is no cost associated to getting all the information you need from their website. They also have amazing books that you can find here, here, here, here and here. To complete a whole30 you eat only the healthiest foods, vegetables, fruits, protein like chicken, eggs, and fish, nuts, seeds, and avocado. For 30 days, you also take out all forms of processed food, dairy, (except ghee) all grains (including corn) all legumes (no beans, peas or peanuts), and all forms of sugar (including stevia, honey, or artificial sugars), Here is a link to the most exhaustive list of additives and ingredients that will help you navigate what is and is not whole30.

 

I finally completed Whole30 in October 2017!  I decided to do it kind of on a whim. I had just realized that I was 30 days away from flying  back to California to be with Cortney and Zola, and that this would be my last “convenient” time to do it (because of holidays and whatnot) My conditions weren’t optimal, but there never really is a perfect time, right?  Things to keep in mind:

 

  • I completed Whole30 all on my own, Cortney was living in California with Zola, waiting for her next surgery, and I was in Hawaii with Grey. I made 100% of the meals I ate. Not bad for a “single dad”.
  • I only lifted weights about twice a week
  • I only did cardio about once a week (Cardi-no)
  • I did it while traveling
  • I did it in Hawaii, where food is more expensive than the rest of the United States

 

*I only bring up these points to show that anyone can do this! Don’t give yourself excuses!!

 

Go To Meals:

 

Breakfast:

Eggs (scrambled)

Bacon

Potatoes (chopped up and cooked in Avocado Oil)

 

Fun Fact: I went through over 150 eggs during Whole30!

 

Lunch:

Garlic Shrimp (about half a pound)

Green Beans

Carrots

 

Dinner:

Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings (Baked)

Broccoli

Asparagus 

**Snacks:

RX Bar

Apple

Almonds

**Snacks are technically allowed on Whole30, but the program really encourages eating whole meals rather than snacking. I used these when my schedule was full or I was out and needed an “emergency food”

 

Garlic Shrimp was a staple of mine!

 

I made my own pot roast!

Was it Worth It?

When I first started whole30 I was only in it for the physical aspect. I wanted to lose the hospital weight I gained. As I went through the program though I realized how much food really affected my energy, moods, and overall wellbeing. I wanted to give up a few times, but I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve grown in a lot different ways. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, I learned a lot more about cooking and making food taste good. I learned to plan ahead, say no to food, stay in control during stressful times and fuel my body with really great food. I lost weight too and I’m amazed at the results, but all the other benefits are just as amazing! Here is my before and after results. I weighed 236lbs before starting and ended at 210lbs, I only worked out 3 days a week for about an hour each time. I would have liked to work out more, but between having a toddler, going to school, studying and making time for beach days, that’s what my schedule allowed. I’m so happy with the results just from that!

So was it worth it? Absolutely! Was it hard? Yes. Would I do it again?  Yep! Cortney and I will be doing it again in January 2018 and you should join us! We will be making a group so we can support each other. Cortney and I are passionate about healthy living and we want to help others live healthier lives and improve their relationship with food. We are going to be releasing an entire whole30 approved meal plan soon and would love for you to be a part of our January whole30.

 

Easy Halloween Costumes and Inspiration

I was recently looking through our old Halloween pictures and got really excited about Halloween this year! I love dressing up and thought I’d share costumes for families! We will be in the hospital this year, but that is not stopping me from having fun or wearing a costume! I love Halloween and I love dressing up. Themed costume parties are my jam! I will take any opportunity to dress up. So here are some Halloween costume inspiration!

 

I dressed up as Bellatrix Lestrange for the Harry Potter 7 part 2 premiere. It was one of my favorite costumes!

 

 

In 2011 I was a peacock. I made my costume and it was so fun! This was right when Jeff and I started dating and would be my last single costume. I will do themed family costumes until my kids revolt and even then Jeff will be stuck dressing up with me forever. haha

In 2012 Jeff and I were Cruella Deville and a Dalmatian.

 

2014 I was pregnant with Grey and felt as big as a wrecking ball 😉 So that’s what I became. I even made a little Miley swinging on my belly. I told Jeff to dress us as a Sledge hammer, but he wouldn’t. So I just told people he was Liam Hemsworth since people think he looks like him anyway.

Our first Halloween as a family in 2015! I was so excited and decided to go all out. My first idea was Rapunzel, Flynn Rider and Pascal. I found my dress at a thrift store and dyed it. It was so fun to see it all come together.

We also were invited to a villains halloween costume party and so we went with villians from Jeff’s favorite movie from Batman!

 

I love you heath ledger!

 

2016 we had just moved to Hawaii and broke as a joke. So as college students on a budget I chose something fun and easy and cheap! I wanted to also incorporate  little Zola growing in my belly!

 

Stay tuned for our Costumes for this year! I’m so excited about it! You may have noticed I didn’t have any costume for 2013. That’s because I have NO IDEA what we did that year. Jeff and I can’t remember at all and it drives me insane. If I figure it out I’ll come back and post what it was! Are you a fan of Halloween? What was your favorite costume you’ve done so far?

 

People Are Good!

 

The news is full of awful things and tragedy feels like the norm these days. One day it’s
floods and fires, the next it’s shootings and riots. The world can often seem unsafe, cruel and
full of hatred. As painful and horrific as these events are, I want to you to know that it is in fact
not the norm!

As Zola’s story has spread, we have built up a large community on Instagram. We love
this community! It’s such an encouraging, loving group of people. Every walk of life, from all
over the world has messaged us, lifted us, prayed for us and loved us. We are so grateful for this
kindness. I’ve always been an optimist. I consider myself a positive, the-glass- is-half- full kinda
person, but it wasn’t until we grew this amazing group of people that I experienced first-hand
how wonderful people truly are. It has not only been a humbling experience, but incredibly inspiring as well!

I’ve tried to roughly calculate the number of prayers we’ve received, it’s somewhere in the hundreds of thousands! It fills my heart to the brim to think about every person who has asked in prayer to keep Zola healthy and strong, for sending positive vibes and love our way, and just simply thinking of our family during this time. It has truly blown me away how many strangers have messaged me telling me they are praying for our family. For how many people take time out of their day to send an encouraging message or comment.

 

Not only that, but so many people have sacrificed on our behalf. Friends, acquaintances, and
strangers alike, have sent us gifts, donated to our GoFundMe, thrown us fundraisers,
participated in our t- shirt fundraiser, donated services, bought us food, sent us food, let us
borrow cars, driven us places, paid for parking, sent a new purse, done my hair, sent snacks,
sent magazines, coloring books, gift cards, hung out with us, prayed with us, hugged us, cleaned
for us, babysat for us, etc.

I have cried over the amount of kindness people have so easily given to us straight from their
hearts. It’s hard to accept such generosity sometimes with nothing to give in return. Saying
thank you over and over feels redundant and futile.This is just the tip of the iceberg
of what has happened, but my point is that people are innately good! People have rushed to
our side without prompt. People are naturally drawn towards doing good things. Small and
simple good deeds have helped our family and I believe that’s what makes the world go round.

With every tragedy there is relief, with every sorrow there is a hug not too far away. People are
kind, generous, loving, encouraging, and good! People are not perfect, but they are good.
Believe there is good in the world, be the good in the world and share the good in the world.

Moving Back To Hawaii (Part 1)

Well, our first couple of weeks in Hawaii didn’t quite go as planned! Coming back here was surprisingly weird, and I certainly didn’t anticipate flying back to California just a few days later! I had been dreaming of coming back to Hawaii since the day we left. I think it is because it seemed like living in Hawaii was taken from us. We sacrificed a lot to move out here and had to go back to California pretty abruptly. We absolutely loved living here. The lifestyle, the culture, and we had made tons of amazing friends in the time we had lived here.

As Grey and I were driving from the airport to our small town on the North Shore of Oahu, everything felt bittersweet. Something just wasn’t right. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I had what I thought was a broken wrist. All I wanted to do was go in the water, and that wasn’t going to be an option in the near future. But I think the bigger problem was that Cortney and Zola weren’t here with us.

With all that being said I still absolutely love living in Hawaii and Grey and I have been having a blast since we’ve been back. During the first couple of days back the weather was PERFECT! We spent most of the day at the beach. Over the summer, Grey was very tentative when it came to getting into the ocean in California. I was hoping that once we got to Hawaii she would find her love for the ocean. She totally has! All she wants to do is swim and play in the water. I mean who doesn’t love that warm, tropical water!?

Some of the highlights since we’ve been here:

  • We’ve been to the beach almost every day!
  • We bought a minivan!
  • I bought Grey a surfboard! She has 100% claimed it as hers. We’re just waiting for the right size waves to take her out!
  • We found a Hawaiian Monk Seal at the beach. We didn’t get too close but Grey loved it!
  • We saw fireworks in Waikiki and then Jeff went night surfing after!

One of the coolest things we participated in was a slip ‘n slide at Waimea Bay. For those that aren’t super familiar with Hawaii, Waimea Bay is one the landmark beaches of the North Shore. In the winter, it can have waves up to 60 feet high! In contrast, during the summer, there are basically no waves, and it is one of the best places to hang out. There is a big rock to jump off of, and usually perfect weather. We heard that there was going to be a slip ‘n slide so we had to check it out. Grey was a little nervous at first, but as soon as we did it she loved it! As soon as we would get to the bottom she would yell “let’s go again!”

While we miss Cortney and Zola a ton, we’re doing everything we can to stay busy out here in Hawaii. Luckily my brother and sister and some really good friends are here, so they are helping out with Grey when I’m in school. It’s been fun spending so much time with her, although the “honeymoon” phase is wearing off. When we first got here, she listened to everything I said, but now she’s back to doing everything her own way!

 

 

Just a couple of more months and we’ll all be back together as a family! Until then, I guess Grey and I will just have to keep working on our tans!