A Couple Things I’ve Accomplished, Plus How I Plan To Go Forward

This year has been a pretty awesome year for me. I earned my black belt in March, ran my second half-marathon (which was also part of a three-day series including a 5k on Friday, an 8k on Saturday, and the half on Sunday), and my Damsel in Defense business exploded (I have a team, and my parties and vendor events are consistent, finally!)

I had people in one of my Facebook groups ask me how I did it. Answer, schedules, routines, and priorities.

First, I worked the minimum on my business while I was earning my black belt. Then I slowed down on Tae Kwon Do while training for my races, while building my business by pointing out my credibility as a person who could teach you about self-defense because I earned my black belt (plus I’m former military law enforcement, so I have that going for me as well).

Did I mention that I homeschool my four children as well? This is where the importance of a schedule comes into play.

Everyone has their preference as far as how to schedule, and I’m no different. I based my schedule on the “Managers Of Their Homes” from Titus2.com. Basically, list the things you need to do (meal prep, basic housekeeping, school time with the kids) and how much time it takes, list the things you’d like to get done (hobbies, a set declutter time, working out, quiet reading time) and how much time it takes, then transfer the must-dos to little bits of paper and stick them to your schedule board. Repeat with like-to-dos, then do the same thing for each child (you could try to schedule your husband’s time, but I don’t).

It takes time to set up, but it is so worth it! I may do a more detailed post about Managers Of Their Homes another time.

Now I’m in a new transition. I’d like to start lifting weights again, plus I’m training for a Marathon that’s happening in March 2016. Also, I’d be lying to you and to myself if I didn’t admit I’d like to lose 40 pounds as well, partially for vanity, but mostly so it’s easier to do Tae Kwon Do and run! As a black belt, I have a lot more jump kicks in my forms and fighting combinations, and hauling all that weight into the air is hard! I’d also like to get my run time down, and I know from past experience that its easier to be faster when you’re not dragging an extra 20-30-40 pounds.

Also, my kids are involved with more activities since they’re older, including swim lessons for the younger boys, Scouts for the older boys, and my nine-year-old recently got into rock wall climbing. And of course I still have two in Tae Kwon Do. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not.

It all comes down to scheduling and priorities. I have a set time every afternoon after lunch, after my youngest goes down for a nap, where the big kids read quietly and rest for an hour, and I make all my business phone calls, check in on my business-related Facebook groups, and answer business-related emails and Facebook messages. Some people refer to this as a “power hour,” and yes, intense focus for an hour can do some crazy things for you home business! I’ll write a post on the Power Hour later.

What have you accomplished this year, and how do plan on ending this year with a bang?

31 Days of Spending Zero– Day 2

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Day two of 31 Days Of Living Well And Spending Zero has us cleaning out our pantries and cupboards and inventorying our freezers. Makes sense! This month we’re going to use up what we have, but how can we use up what have if we don’t know what we have?

Since my husband is retiring from the Army next spring, I’ve been using more of our food storage so we have less to take with us when the time comes. This project was actually really easy!

 

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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And here’s my pantry inventory. Please don’t judge harshly!

 

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I put the inventory sheet into a page protector so I can easily wipe off stuff as we use it. Aaaannd, you can see that I did already!

 

 

31 Days Of Spending Zero– Day One

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My husband is retiring from the Army next year. Oh, yes, he’s actively looking for employment for when he gets out, but we have been so spoiled! In addition to his base pay, we also get housing allowance, and health, dental and vision insurance. Short of a job in D. C. (shudder), there is really no job out there that can match what he gets in the Army.

Before everyone starts jumping all over me (why don’t you get a job!), I feel I must point out that I homeschool our four children. I also run a small party-plan business that at this point is not replacing his income. Since home educating our children is a priority for both of us, I will not be able to get a job outside the home (well, I could go back to bartending a few nights a week, if we were that desperate).

As I’m sure those of you who are also stay-at-home-moms know, one of the best ways we can help with the family finances is to be frugal. I’m no spendthrift, we don’t hit the drive-throughs, we try to mainly make food from scratch, we shop the grocery sales and buy generic, we hand down clothes and shoes until they’re falling apart, we shop thrift stores and clearance racks (sometimes I find clothing on a clearance rack that costs less than the same thing used from a thrift store), we outright own our older used vehicles, and we don’t have cable.

BUT, I am guilty of almost daily Starbucks beverages. And not the $2 cup of plain coffee, the $5.83 grande pumpkin spice latte type coffee. That’s *gasp* about $30 a WEEK before tips! That’s $120 a month! And don’t get me started on the ice cream runs, and the couponing (uh, that will be the end of me). “I thought couponing saves you money?” No, not always. Sometimes it tempts you to spend a whole lot, a dollar or two at a time.

So when I saw this “31 Days of living well and spending zero” challenge hosted by Ruth Soukup at Living Well Spending Less, I decided now was as good a time as any to cut out the extra spending. I think it would be a great kickoff to a new habit of overall spending less than I do now.

With pledge signed, I’m ready to embark on this fun challenge!

Blog I’m loving right now

Several years ago, while visiting my in-laws in California, I found a Sunset magazine amongst the stacks of reading material my in-laws displayed on their coffee table.

One particular story really grabbed my attention, and it has been on my mind ever since. It’s about a zero-waste family, yes, family, with kids and a dog. They bring their own jars and bags to the grocery store, only buy clothes from a thrift store, and compost everything. They end up with only about two handfuls of actual trash A YEAR. The clean, minimalist look of their home both took my breath away and made me a little envious.

This morning, as I was thinking about how I’d love to own even less than I do, I thought about that article. After a quick search, I was delighted to discover that yes, the magazine actually posted this story online!

 

Even better, it turns out the female head of the household has a blog!! Check it out for a little zero waste/minimalist inspiration!

5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus

I found this on the Beachbody website today, and thought it was interesting enough to share!

5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus

By Justine Holberg

Originally found here.

 

You’re tracking calories, working out each day, then bam! For a week or two, the scale refuses to budge…and you realize you’ve hit a dreaded weight loss plateau. Now what?

Even though it’s completely normal to hit a snag in your fitness journey, a perceived setback like this can send even the most dedicated dieter off course, away from healthy eating and toward cookies, cake, and pizza. But you can be strong and start getting back on the weight-loss track again. Try at least one of the following techniques, and there’s a good chance you’ll burst through your plateau in no time.

Here are five important things to know about hydration and exercise:
1. Zigzag your daily calorie intake.
In theory, you’ve got to eat less to lose more, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you just have to shake things up. Here’s one way to do it: If your average daily intake is 1,400 calories, try dropping to 1,200 one day, going up to 1,800 the next day, and then dropping back to 1,400. The idea is to keep your metabolism guessing. There’s no magic number that works for everyone, so you’ll have to experiment until you find the right calorie levels for you.

According to Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards, what happens when you zigzag is that you force your body to choose how many calories it needs to recover from the rigors of your exercise program. “Most people who hit a plateau are undereating. If you are indeed undereating, adding calories for a few days, then lowering them again, will help you force your body into a hormonal response that will not only help you break out of a plateau, but—as you learn to recognize the signals—will teach you how much food you should be eating.”

2. Switch up your exercise routine.
If you do the same workout each day, eventually it can start to become less challenging, and (unfortunately) less effective. If you push yourself to new levels of strength or exhaustion, you’ll almost certainly see a shift. Here are some ways you can challenge your body:

  • Swap your jog for a bike ride.
  • Try weights with your cardio routine. (ChaLEAN Extreme® or RevAbs® can help you do this.)
  • Add intervals of high intensity to really make you sweat. (INSANITY® is a great workout for this.)
  • Drop to the floor for 10 push-ups right now!

The idea is to try something different. According to Edwards, “The better you get at something, the easier it becomes. That’s why we’re always telling you to add more weight as you get stronger, and to move faster and jump higher as our programs progress. But it’s also why all of our programs have phases of training. As your body adapts to stimulus, you need to change that stimulus in order to keep results happening.”

3. Eat some almonds.
Almonds are a great snack, plus there’s some research that indicates that they can help you burn fat. That’s because they contain fiber and fatty acids—the good kind of fat that helps you lose weight. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared two groups of people who ate a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet. As part of their daily diet, one group ate 3 ounces of almonds every day. The other group ate a mix of complex carbs. What happened? The group that ate the almonds lost more weight.

So next time you grab a snack, try a small handful of almonds, or as Edwards says, “Any nut, really. While almonds are one of the better nuts, all of them have a similar nutritional profile and make excellent snacks. That research probably would have turned out similarly if they’d used walnuts or filberts or whatever.”

4. Get more sleep.
This may seem like the opposite of number 2, but the truth is is that you could be training too hard, which is about the quickest way to hit a weight loss plateau, because an over-trained body holds on to weight as if it were starving to death. There’s no better way to test this than to try and sleep more. The reason is that your body recovers much more quickly from exercise while it’s asleep, and if you’re burning the midnight oil while trying to do INSANITY, you could easily plateau from lack of recovery time.

In a recent study at the University of Chicago Medical School, researchers found that during a period when study participants were deprived of sleep, they metabolized glucose less effectively. Additionally, they had higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been shown to impair memory, increase insulin resistance, and slow recovery in athletes. “There’s a good reason why five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx said, ‘The Tour is won in bed,'” says Edwards. Your body’s recovery response during deep sleep is only rivaled by performance-enhancing drugs. When you’re on the borderline of overtraining, getting more sleep is the first thing anyone should try.”

5. Relax.
Believe it or not, the one big thing besides diet and exercise that can cause you to plateau is stress. When you’re stressed, your body sends out higher levels of the hormone cortisol that, as stated in number 4, can encourage your body to hang on to fat. “Cortisol is actually a performance-enhancing hormone,” says Edwards. “But it’s gotten a bad rap because we’ve begun living our lives at too high a volume. Cortisol is released at times when the body is in an emergency state. It increases performance, but only over a short period of time. When cortisol is released and forced into action at regular intervals, it causes your body to wear down and switch to more drastic means of survival, like holding on to excess amounts of body fat. Your life shouldn’t feel like one big emergency. As a society, we need to learn to be more tranquilo, as the Spanish say.”

We get stressed for many reasons, almost all of which are influenced by the society around us. One of the best ways to combat stress is to get some alone time to chill. If you’re the type who can’t let go, try some forced relaxation techniques, of which yoga seems to be one of the most effective. There’s something special about the mind/body interaction of yoga that forces a relaxed state even from the most stressed of us.

If you feel you need a lot of help, dig into an intense course, like P90X Yoga X. For others, something lighter, like Yoga Booty Ballet® Pure and Simple Yoga, will do the trick. If you’re not into yoga, then consider at least adding some stretching into your schedule. Most of Beachbody’s programs have at least one stretching session. TurboFire® even has two!

Make Money Using Free Sites

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I’m in the process of becoming debt-free, but as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I don’t exactly have time to get a job outside the home. I am a Damsel in Defense Pro, helping women find the self-defense and security solutions that are right for them, and I am a Beachbody Coach, helping people meet their health and fitness goals, but when you’re working at paying off debt at a gazelle-like speed (Dave Ramsey reference, check out his book!), you have to use every resource at your disposal.

 

So for me, I use a couple different FREE sites! And yes, I personally use them and have used them for a couple years, so I can certify them as 100% NOT A SCAM!

 

The first is Inboxdollars. I have done the surveys and made anywhere from 25 cents to $2 for 10-30 minutes worth of work. You also get two cents per email (on their page) when you click the “confirm this paid email” button. If you actually complete the offers in the emails, you can earn more money, and I will sometimes fill out the email list ones (using an email account I set up just for junk I have no intention of ever reading, like those email lists), but I NEVER complete the offers that require a small purchase to get more money. NOT WORTH IT.

But I mainly use Inboxdollars for the search bar, where I get paid one cent per two searches, with a ten cent bonus every week that I do a search most days. Another money making opportunity I take advantage of on this site are the coupons. Regular manufacturer coupons you can print, and you make ten cents per coupon redeemed. I only recommend this route if you are familiar with couponing and know how to get great deals using coupons.

 

The next I’m featuring today is ebates. Make internet purchases through ebates and get a percentage back. I mainly use it for back-to-school deals, Black Friday purchases (I do NOT like crowds, so if there is a deal I really want, I’m buying it online), and when I’m low on candles from Bath and Body Works (they make cleaning my house easier, and it’s one of my few justifiable splurges). There are also discount codes, and I will only buy when there is an actual need (like recently when my youngest needed new pants), and I buy clearance, use discount codes, and use ebates.

 

Both of those sites are FREE to sign up on, and neither cost money (except when you make a purchase from the external sites on ebates, but ebates itself does not cost a penny, ever). There are a boat load of apps I want to feature in the future, so stay tuned!

 

Oh, and one last note, I am NOT being paid by either site for my review. I’m pretty sure neither site knows my little just-for-fun blog exists!

My Summer-Ready Plan

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Summer is on its way, and while I have no intention of becoming a bikini model ever, I do want to slim down a little bit

First, I very much believe fat loss comes from eating right and exercising moderately, but sometimes we all need a little boost. I know you’ve seen “those crazy wrap things” all over social media, but I’m telling you, I’ve seen a difference in my midsection’s skin tone (skin a little firmer, belly a little flatter, stretchmarks slowly fading) since I started using those wraps almost a month ago. If you’ve been on the fence as to whether to try them or not, just do it! I’ve read, “One wrap is a treat, four wraps is a treatment, and 12 wraps are a procedure.”  Find them through this link!

Second, to go along with the first link is the “exercise and eat right” part of the equation. Starting next week, in addition to my daily yoga and tae kwon do practice, I’m going to be incorporating an eating and exercise plan called 21 Day Fix Extreme. Thirty-minute workouts and little portion control containers? Sounds like a plan I could follow!

How are you prepping for summer?

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The Media Fast

I forgot to mention in my last post the other thing I need to give up for Lent, MEDIA. I admit it, I’m disgustingly addicted to my phone and to social media. I start out telling myself that I am going to do a little networking for my Damsel in Defense business, maybe even snag a few pictures to use on my Facebook page. Next thing I know, it’s hours later and I haven’t even booked a party. All I did was look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers. Even worse, I ignored my kids, sending the horrible and clear message that my phone comes first. Not them, my precious gifts from God, but a piece of plastic and internet strangers. Yuck.

So starting Wednesday, I’m going offline, sort of. I will still blog, I will still do Facebook parties (I have some scheduled, and I can’t not work). I will not hang out in the groups, I will not obsessively check my news feed, I will not go to the various humor sites I enjoy. I will limit the blogging/ Facebook party, work-related stuff to 60 minutes per day. I will have a timer next to my computer.

Going a step further, the TV will stay off. Even though we don’t have cable, the TV seems to stay on all day, every day, and the noise makes it hard for me to focus. So, no PBS Kids, no Netflix, no DVDs, even the educational ones. I will somehow figure out how to keep the younger kids quiet and entertained while I’m working with the older kids, and that will be the biggest hurtle. The exception to the no TV/DVD rule is my yoga workout DVDs. I’ve made a commitment to do yoga every day, and the DVDs are helpful to me.

Saying no to media/electronics will be a real test, but I believe the blessings will be IMMENSE. More time focused on family? More time to read Scriptures? More time to write letters to far off friends and family? All good things to come out of fasting from electronics🙂

For further reading on the subject of giving up TV/Internet, I strongly suggest you read the book “7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker

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The Daily Yoga Challenge

Even though I haven’t written in a while, what few posts I wrote previously should give you a good idea about what I love, tae kwon do (I got my black belt recommend, BTW, and test for my 1st degree at the end of March! Squeee!) and running.

A million years ago, I practiced yoga a few times a week. I used to be flexible, and one could argue I’m still pretty bendy. As I’ve gotten older, had more kids, and started cramming more into each day (in addition to homeschooling my four, I’m also teaching tae kwon do a few nights a week), I’ve put yoga on the back burner. The less yoga I practice, the more aches I notice (this could be because I’m a busy mom over 30, but I’m going to say it’s because I’m not stretching enough and maybe sitting too much).

So starting tomorrow (who says you have to start ANYTHING on a Monday?) and going through my birthday on April 21st (yep, totally arbitrary time frame), my goal is to do at least 30 minutes of yoga a day, every day.

And because I like video workouts, here are the DVDs I have so far (in no particular order):

– Kathy Smith Project You Core/Flex Yoga

– Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga Collection

– Yoga For Stress Relief And Flexibility

– Shiva Rea Core Yoga

– Yoga For Back Care

– Back Care Yoga With Rodney Yee

– Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown

– Ho’Alake Kino “Awaken The Body”

Since some of these DVDs have more than one workout on them (I counted 18 in all), I could in theory go more than two weeks without repeating a workout, which is pretty cool. I like variety. And if I don’t feel like doing a DVD, I have a couple Yoga Journal special issues, including one with a 6-week yoga guide. I think I can do it! And hopefully I’ll have some accountability through this blog.