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my life in my words


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What Do I Know Of Holy | Fit Life Friday

Here’s what I know of Holy . . .

God answers prayer.

And sometimes, it’s in the form of:

God is SO good to me!!

 

Yes, my friends, I’m convinced that on the 3rd day, God created coffee and He said it was MORE than Good! Also, that someone failed to mention that in Genesis.* Ohhhh wellllll. Tonight is a glorious night, and let me tell you why. It’s not just because I found this Godiva Pumpkin Spice Coffee at Safeway. It’s not just because I’m done with all my errands for the day. It’s because I’m enjoying a piping hot delicious cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee right now with NO WORRIES of dealing with an upset stomach tonight!! And yes I realize it IS past 10pm and I’m drinking coffee, and that might make me a nutcase . . . or as I like to call it, a Coffee Fanatic. 😉

 

You see, my biggest fight lately has been whether or not to cave and just buy a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks so I can get my Pumpkin Spice fix. It’s a battle because Starbucks is yet to offer a Sugar-Free option. With my recently developed sugar sensitivity, this is no bueno. I have seriously been at war in my mind as to just HOW BAD I want a PSL. I know that if I get one, even a Tall, my stomach is going to be in pain from the sugar in the syrup and who am I to turn down whip cream as well. However, now that I have this, I can just add it to my Almond Milk in the morning, sweeten it up with my raw Stevia, heat that puppy up and enjoy my 1st Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season with no fear and no regrets!!! HUZZAH!!

Also, here’s a bonus—some info on the Starbucks PSL:

a 16 ounce serving of Pumpkin Spice Latte:

  • 380 calories, as many as seven Chips Ahoy! cookies
  • Eight grams of saturated fat, 40% of your dietary reference intake
  • 49 grams of sugar, nearly double the amount found in 16 ounces of cola
  • 51 grams of carbohydrate, almost as much as four slices of white bread

(via leangreenmp.com)

 

Look, you may think I’m spouting crazy talk, but when it comes to enjoying food experiences, an upset stomach and sugar-high out-of-body-experience is a no-go. Some might think I’m cheating myself or depriving myself of the awesomeness of an authentic PSL and to that I say, “Maybe, but I’ll deal. I’ll DEFINITELY deal. In fact, I may deal up 2 homemade PSLs in the morning!” And it’ll save me some mad cash!!

 

Speaking of, here’s your PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Saturday is NATIONAL COFFEE DAY!!! And guess who’s going to be hittin’ up Krispy Kreme for some FREE COFFEE tomorrow??? This chick, right here!

 

Jump on that, folks! Do it for me. Please. 🙂 And for the beauty of coffee. Please. Let’s do it for our Country.** 😉

I remember a time long, long, long ago maybe not THAT long ago when I used to drink about 3 lattes a day. Nowadays, I stick to black drip coffee. I’ve had some people along the way ask me how I deprive myself of lattes and how I can even stand to drink black coffee, but it’s really no big. My palate has become more sensitive to the actual flavor of the roast and it feels cleaner going down. It’s just one of those things that over the course of this health journey I’ve decided just isn’t necessary. Sure, I’ll have one for a treat from time to time, but it’s not a necessity. It’s a swap I made that I’m actually pleasantly pleased with. And that leads me into today’s FIT LIFE topic . . . HEALTHY SWAPS.

 

Whenever people ask me how to start eating better, one of the first things I’ll say is . . .

Start slow.

Slowly swap out the unhealthy stuff for the wholesome real food stuff. 

 

What does that mean? That means slowly swap out the peach cobbler for just actual peaches. Slowly swap out your potato bread for whole wheat bread. At your own pace, take inventory of the things you’ve been eating and ask yourself, is there a healthier option? If you’re not sure, here’s a little infographic that might help give you a starting point.

 

Here’s another great reference chart.
(Click through for full-size photo + more info)

Other simple, healthy swaps:

1. Quinoa instead of rice or pasta
2. Shaved zucchini or spaghetti squash instead of pasta
3. Kale chips instead of potato chips
4. Coconut water instead of Gatorade 
5. Spinach and tomato sauce instead of spaghetti with sauce
6. Cauliflower instead of potatoes

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering . . .

 

I actually just talked with my mother earlier that my dessert for tonight was going to be an organic pear that I bought at The Peach Pit (local produce market) and she asked, “A pear? For dessert?!?” And I reassured her that for me, an organic pear is a PERFECT dessert! You guys, if you’ve yet to try one, please do so . . . soon! They’re Hallelujah good! So while it wouldn’t be in my best interest to eat a slice of Godiva White Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert with my Turkey & Veggie Skillet dinner, enjoying a piping hot cup of Godiva Pumpkin Spice coffee, and an organic pear for dessert sure is! That’s really what it’s all about—finding the right foods to fuel you that will treat your body and mind well. Simple, healthy swaps are just the beginning. Over time, you’ll begin to feel the difference in your body and your mind, and odds are, you’ll feel healthier, and that is an incredible feeling!

 

Yes, even more incredible than blasting LIFE IS A HIGHWAY with the sunroof wide open! ♡

Happy Fit Life Friday, Y’all!

 

* I’m probably going to hell for joking around like that. Fact: I live in constant fear of lightning bolts.

** 10,000 Awesome Sauce points if you get that reference and don’t think any less of me. 


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Something Like That

Aren’t these just the CUTEST little cupcakes ever?? They were for a 1 year-old’s B-day party! So adorable!

 

Boy howdy has it been a whirlwind weekend!! Wild times, I tell ya! There are so many little stories about all the fun things I did this weekend, but let’s get real—that would take up too much of this blog post and you’d be yawning halfway through as if to say, “Oh, is that all? Psh. Oooohkay!” 😉

 

So instead, here’s a quick week-in-review, photo steeze! 

Let’s work our way back, shall we?

 

Check out these sweet mustache tattoos!

I just got back from a Birthday party for my friends, Anthon & Jeannie’s little boy, Finn, who just turned ONE! The weather wasn’t ideal, but the party was super sweet and it was so nice to spend some time with their rad little fam! There were so many cute little touches to the decor to help this little man celebrate his 1st year of life as a little old man 😉 Jeannie did an A+ job!

 

That is one sassy lady that knows what’s up! Cheers to coffee!

 

So this one is a little bittersweet . . . SWEET because I finally got to try the Starbucks Anniversary Blend in all it’s nummy goodness! But BITTER because of the reason I grabbed it. Here’s a hint . . . I ordered it black with a Shot In The Dark. Yup, sadly enough, I got zero sleep last night and I’ve been running on pure adrenaline since yesterday morning. I just could not sleep after last night’s excitement and with new thoughts/ideas that had been swirling in my head all day. When I say I could not sleep, what I mean is I could not, for the life of me, rest my mind and body. So of course, I did what any normal person in my position would do. I took melatonin and put on classical music. I spent the entire evening watching old movies and making a Pinterest board of movies that I want to buy. 😐

 

That’s a’malotta pins, Batman!

 

Yeahhhh. I know. I’m not proud of it. But for that reason, I’m going to attempt to get caught up by going to bed earlier tonight. And what excitement might I be referring to?? Well, this of course:

 

Aaaay yooooo Sounders Scarf Up!!

 

My best friend, Grace, treated me to a night out at my 2nd ever Sounders game! It was WILD!! We had great seats and got to chat it up a lot while we watched the game. Sadly, the Sounders lost and I am still none-the-wiser on how exactly soccer works, but we had a great time anyway! PLUS we shared some Ivar’s Fish ‘N’ Chips with a garlic blend topping and it was DEEEEEEELISH! From beginning to end, it was a perfect night and I’m so thankful that Grace invited me to tag along!

 

Me and my Gracie Lou Who

 

Saturday I tried REALLY hard to keep my mind focused on non-ministry things, since it was my Sabbath, but it’s SERIOUSLY so difficult for me to stop my mind from thinking up new ideas and systems to use in ministry. With our youth group and children’s ministry being back in full-force, my motivation is even more compelling because I just adore those kiddos and I want them to have all the best things in the universe. I just have to work on remembering that part of that best thing is a Children’s Director/Youth Pastor that maintains a healthy, balanced lifestyle and is able to intentionally “Let go and Let God.” (Which, ironically is one of my most hated phrases because it’s killer tough to do!)

 

Back at it in my “sweet spot” nook, leading our student ministry in our Sunday morning service

 

Oooooh yeahhh . . .  also . . .

 

It’s a hap-hap-happy day at The Roosevelt House! Happy Birthday to my rad housemate + friend, Jessica

 

Despite some SERIOUS outta control drama/issues we’ve been having with one of our housemates lately, we were able to celebrate the Happiest of Birthdays for one of our other housemates! She’s seriously such a near and dear friend and I’m super thankful for all she brings to my life. Jess is actually one of the big contributors to my learning how to make healthier meals at home. Even without that, though, she’s a gem and it was fun to shower her with love and appreciation and enjoy some quality dinner time convos with her!

 

oooooh what could it beeee?

Last but not least, one MAJOR highlight of my past week/end was getting this rad little package from my friend Carrie! I REALLY wanna tell you what’s inside, but it’s gonna have to wait for the next blog post because it’s

1. Pretty awesome

2. Takes a little bit of explanation

3. Could rave about it for hours, which would turn into an EVEN longer post!

4. Is late and I need to get cookin’.

and 5. I love keepin’ ya in suspense 😉

So stay tuned to the next post and I’ll tell you what’s in the goodie bag!

 

Big gulps huh? Alright. Welp, see ya later!

 


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Lemon Squeezer | Fit Life Friday

 

Greetings from the Hungry, Hungry Hippo!

I kid, I kid. Kinda . . . I mean, I know it’s random and funny, but I do kinda feel like all I do nowadays is eat. I get the snack attacks like mad crazy when I stock up on delicious noms. Not necessarily because I’m hungry, but it just looooks and tastes soooo good!! I’m often actually tempted to overeat . . . which is kinda a bad thing because I’m still trying to discipline myself to learn proper portion size. Proper portion control is pretty important to me because now that I’m successfully maintaining my weight, it’s SUPER easy to say, “Oh just indulge in a little more.” and “Psh, you can TOTALLY afford to eat a double serving!” However, knowing myself, excuses & allowances like that that will become the tune I sing all the way back to overeating. I get full a lot more easy now and even in disciplining myself to only eat until I’m full, I still struggle with the “clean plate” habit. Speaking of healthy eating habits I’ve talked to some people recently who have asked about losing weight and getting fit. They have asked on separate occasions if they should cut out meals and just eat less and to that, my answer is consistently—NO! Don’t stop eating, just eat the RIGHT things! Learn to make healthy substitutes for your favorite things and you’ll find yourself feeling better health-wise and challenge-wise. It’s a good thing, trust me!

 

One of the things I’ve tried to challenge myself with lately is not limiting myself to the specifics of a certain recipe. Making the attempt to use up everything I have on hand in my cabinets and fridge are definitely helping with that. For instance, one of my recent attempts (and HUGE SUCCESS, might I add!) was to make this mock Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup—my FAVORITE from the O.G.—and the recipe called for white beans. Well, I didn’t have white beans on hand, but I DID have garbanzo beans! And let me tell you, subbing in the garbanzo for the white beans didn’t change the awesome sauce that has been filling my belly all week long! It’s still delicious as ever!!

 

Another huge experiment with this came in the form of a special early morning delivery from FULL CIRCLE Produce Delivery. It was actually a Groupon deal that I bought awhile back. I had never ordered from a site like it, but decided to give it a whirl. Basically, you pay them to deliver some random local produce to your door. You’re able to set your preferences as to what you don’t/want and then they send you the list of what’s actually going to be in your box.

 

Inside the goodie box was:

2 Gala Apples, 2 Sweet Corn Cobs, 1 Eggplant, 1/2 lb. of Green Beans, 2 Flavor Queen Pluots, and one bunch of Escarole

I snacked away on the green beans that morning and they were so fresh and tasty. They really hit the spot! I wish I could show you a more up-close and personal picture of the pluots, since I’d never had them before and was particularly fascinated by them, but one bite into one of the juicy fruits made me forget what a camera was and then I proceeded to scarf them both down with nary a care in the world! Sorry I’m not sorry. 😉

 

For breakfast the next day, I used one of the apples in my oatmeal. It wasn’t any different than a normal apple from the grocery store, but hey, who am I to diss an apple? I love ’em to no end!

 

I used the rest of the ingredients in the box to make my meals and snacks for the week,
which include the Pasta e Fagiole and Orange Escarole Salad meal up top for lunch,
some absolutely to-die-for delicious Skinny Pumpkin Overnight Oats in a Jar 
for breakfast,

 

and . . .

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili with Brussel Sprouts + Apple slices for dinner
(and coffee, duh) 😉

The Brussel Sprouts were courtesy of my awesome friend Kathy. Normally I roast the sprouts, but I decided to steam them this time and I’m so glad I did. It was a nice fresh switcheroo to steam them in Lemon Pepper & Garlic. And I GOTTA thank my friend Katie for sending me the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili recipe to try! I’m in love with the flavors and it is SUPER filling and meaty, which makes me One Happy Amo!

and for snacks to go with my orange slices and almonds (plus my lunch time salad)

Creole Roasted Eggplant! ♥

Last week I had made some Clean Eating Jambalaya (which I WILL be making again in a couple of weeks because it’s soooooo dang good!) and bought some creole seasoning for it. So I used that same seasoning and some extra cracked pepper to roast these bad boys in. I don’t regret it one bit!  Although I wasn’t hungry, I wanted to do a taste test and I knew that could be potentially dangerous depending on how good the food was. They were so delicious that it was so tough to hold myself back from eating the entire pan in one sitting! I had to hurry and put it away because they were disappearing off the tray faster than I could pull my hand away. Seriously.

 

I still had to pick up a bunch of groceries from the store, since the box wasn’t exactly packed with tons of food. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the delivery service. For the cost of a normal subscription to their services, the quantity and variety just doesn’t fit my budget or needs. I would much rather stop by The Peach Pit or Pike Place Market for fresh local produce. And of course, I’m still a fan of getting stuff from my local grocery stores. That way, I can pick out exactly what I want and get the most out of the week’s recipes instead of trying to fit it into a grab bag of sorts. What can I say, I’m a planner!

Speaking of . . . here’s the plan for this next week!

Breakfast: Pumpkin Oatmeal Casserole
MMS:
Cashew Butter + Carrots
Lunch: 
Luann’s Kale Salad  + Butternut Squash Soup
MAS: 
Cashew Butter + Celery
Dinner: 
Clean Eating Shepherds Pie + Raspberries

Treat: Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge 

Happy Fit Life Friday, Y’all!

 


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In Da Club: Interview with Shannon Harris | Fit Life Friday

Pump, pump, pump it up and back it up like a Tonka Truck!

 

When I was living on campus in the dorms at the school I went to in Texas, we had to be dressed and ready for the day to begin early. And by early, I mean before 9am. Ridiculous! If I had my way, each day would start at 1pm—I am SO not a morning person. However, as much as I despise early mornings and as much as I’m NOT a morning person, it is pretty common for you to find me awake early on a Saturday morning getting a few tasks hammered out before I head to the gym—that’s right, the gym—to attend one of the early morning fitness classes. On Saturdays, I alternate between Turbo Kick or Boot Camp at 10am . . . or if I’m REALLY daring, I’ll hit up Body Pump at 9am. 9 a.m., folks! On a SATURDAY! You KNOW that’s gotta be some kind of crazy torture that qualifies me for martyrdom, right? It feels like it at times, but it matters to me, so I do it. You may be wondering WHY it matters to me.

“Amanda, you’re NOT a body builder. Are you trying to make it onto Women’s Muscle Magazine? You’re not Miss Arnold Schwarzenegger . . . what’s the deal, yo?”

Actually, I guess I kind of AM of a body builder, in that I’m working to build my body into a strong, lean, healthy machine. In order to do that, I have made strength training and quality nutrition a priority. Let’s face it, abs are made in the kitchen, and what good is an hour of exercise if I’m just going to cover up the muscle definition I’m working on with overly processed and fatty foods? So I make my fitness focuses proper nutrition + consistent exercise. The result is a body that I can be proud of—both in how I look and most importantly, how I feel.

 

Kim Nielsen from The Biggest Loser | Source: http://www.diva-dirt.com

I never even considered adopting Body Pump as part of my workout regiment, but then I was impressed by Kim Nielsen’s transformation on this past season of The Biggest Loser. I was rooting for her big time! She had been a pro-wrestler and after an injury, retired and pursued motherhood. During her 3rd pregnancy, she gained 80 lbs. and eventually fought her way to be on The Biggest Loser. Her journey on BL wasn’t just about being skinny—it was about being strong! She did a LOT of strength training and weight lifting, which kept me in awe—she was total Beast Mode and a great example of what it means to fight for your health! For a girl who hasn’t felt strong for the majority of my life, I craved that same strength I saw her display onscreen. I had been to a couple of Body Pump classes at my gym, 24 Hour Fitness in Northgate, and really enjoyed it, but the early time commitment was a big deal and I wasn’t quite ready to commit to that on any level. After realizing just how effective strength training and weight lifting are to producing a healthy, lean, body, I decided to give it another whirl—this time I’d take it more seriously! The bonus is that the instructor is phenomenal and she makes getting up that early to take a fitness class SO WORTHWHILE because I know that not only will my body get pumped up, but my spirit and mind will too!

 

My incredible Body Pump instructor, Shannon!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and squirrels, I’d like you to meet Shannon. She’s not only my Body Pump and Turbo Kick instructor, but she’s one of the most Fit-fluential ladies I know and to be quite honest, she is THE fire-starter for my Fit Life! My first experience in a fitness class had been terrible. It was a Boot Camp-style class and I just felt like such a loser because I couldn’t do half the things everyone else was doing. There was another attendee in the class that also showboated so much that I was turned off to fitness classes afterward. But then I was in the locker room at 24 Hr. and overheard some ladies raving about how awesome Turbo Kick class was and how much fun Shannon made the class. Fitness = Fun?!? Could that be FOR REAL? So I decided to try Turbo Kick and Shannon did not disappoint! For once in my life, fitness had become fun!

She had such a contagious positive attitude during the entire class and kept the energy up even when I was flailing my legs trying to do a roundhouse. During the class, she said things that I had never heard before that encouraged me to keep at it and make my time in class count. Things like:

Don’t take yourself seriously—just have fun!
Whatever you do, just keep moving. 
You don’t have to master the moves, just give me your best shot!

 

She also sings along with the music and encourages us to “shake it” during some of the moves, which makes it so much more easy-going and exciting for me. Another big thing that makes a difference to me is that she shares helpful fitness hints in class. I remember laying on the ground during the cool-down of one class, wiped out after our ab circuit and she shared with us some tips on how to prevent over-snacking at a holiday party. I really feel like I get a “full-meal-deal” in both of her classes. Ever since I’ve known her, she’s always encouraged balance and a body-positive fitness outlook that has gotten me through so many ups and downs of this Fit Life journey. Because of her leadership and positive influence, I have made both Turbo Kick AND Body Pump staples in my fitness regiment and have seen quality results. Coming from a girl who used to come to the gym and walk it out on the treadmill for 20 minutes and call it a day, that’s a pretty big deal!

Having her as a fitness instructor has challenged me in all of the best ways and has helped me reach my own personal fitness goals during this journey. She inspires me to be the best version of myself that I can be. I’m thankful that the management at 24 Hour in Northgate hired her and has kept her on staff. Shannon is a great example of a passionate leader and I love seeing her influence enhancing my life and the lives of others in those fitness classes as we embrace healthy lifestyles with gusto!

 

The aftermath of a quality Body Pump class

Not only does she teach those classes at 24 Hour, but she also makes it a priority to maintain her own fitness by attending classes and getting in workouts when she can. Oh yeah, did I mention that she’s the mother to two babies—one toddler and one infant—AND she works as a hairstylist at THE COLLAGE SALON! Talk about Wonder Woman!! I think Shannon is pretty amazing and I’ve LOVED every interaction I’ve had with her. She’s a Fit-fluential mama with great insight and a heart for helping others reach their goals. So what better way to celebrate a Fit Life Friday than with a fun little interview with Shannon? She so graciously agreed to answer some questions for me about her own fitness journey and things she’s learned along the way. I hope you enjoy it!

Q: What inspires you to teach fitness classes?

What inspires me to teach fitness is the people who take my classes. If I can touch even just one of them and make them feel inspired to work harder to reach their goal, then I feel successful! There is truly nothing like one of my members coming up to me after class and thanking me for what I do with a huge smile on their face!

Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your own Fit Life journey?

I can honestly say that if my only motivation is how I’m going to look after a workout, I would not be committed to my health and exercise journey as I am now! My true motivation has to come from the feeling I know I’m going to get during and after my workout! That is how I measure my success! And then I can truly appreciate the results I see in the mirror from the inside out!

Q: Life must be super busy with you being a wife, mother of two, fitness instructor, AND a hairstylist! How do you manage life and getting in time to stay active in pursuing fitness?

I’m not going to lie—managing my life can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, my foundation comes from a strong faith in God! I believe that the things that have been placed on my heart to do in life are a gift! And there’s a reason I’m a passionate mother, wife, entrepreneur, and fitness instructor. I have it all and I won’t settle for less!!! I am truly blessed!

Q: How do you maintain balance in your nutrition with such a busy life?

Healthy Nutrition takes discipline! I have to plan out my meals the night before and pack my food for the day if I’m going to be successful with healthy eating. If I don’t do this, I really do put myself in danger of choosing the wrong food to fuel my body! I also try to inspire the people around me to eat healthy. If I surround myself with people who want to feel good with healthy choices, I have a way better chance of being successful as well. It’s a win-win!

Q: If you could give someone looking to start or re-start their own fitness journey one big piece of advice, what would it be?

Get up, get dressed, and get out the door! That’s over half the battle! Once you make it to your workout—whether it be going for a run, meeting a trainer or participating in a fitness class—you might as well give it 100%! I mean let’s face it, you’re dressed and ready and you have nothing to lose except unwanted pounds. We only get one body in life, so treat it like it’s the most valuable thing you own, because it is!

Thank you so much for sharing your heart and life with me and those reading this post, Shannon!

 

Happy Fit Friday, y’all!

 


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Closer To Love

Don’t tell anyone I told you, but I think Santa got a little confused and Christmas came early!

 

I really am blessed to have incredible co-workers at both of the jobs that I work at. However, the two jobs are not created equal, especially when it comes to co-worker interpersonal dynamics. On one hand, I have really cool and friendly co-workers at my ‘ol 9-to-5. On the other hand, I have really cool friends who just so happen to be my co-workers at Westside. They know me and my little quirks and personality more than those at my ‘ol 9-to-5. For example, my boss at Westside takes me out for coffee and mentors me in all things ministry, leadership, discipleship, and innovation. He knows when I’m stressed and what to say to motivate me to push past my ruts. My boss at my ‘ol 9-to5 doesn’t drink coffee, much less take me out for it, nor does she know much about my personal life except the things I’ve shared with her in our passing conversations and morning meetings. Still, she is a mega-encourager and great at sharing her wealth of health/nutrition knowledge and insight on writing, editing, and the publications process with me so that my brain stays engaged in my role. As you can see, both jobs benefit me just as much as I benefit them and I’m so pleased with how that all works out!

There is a common thread between both sets of co-workers and it is one that humbles my heart to no end. I am incredibly blessed to get to work with some of the most thoughtful and selfless givers on the planet! Over the course of my time at my ‘ol 9-to-5, I’ve been given so many wonderful treasures: new music, chocolates, jewelry, fresh organic foods to take home, cards, art supplies, and the list goes on. Taking on the second part-time job at Westside, I wasn’t expecting anything from anyone in the way of inter-office gifts. To be quite honest, I just don’t expect them from any place at any time in general. I guess that’s what makes them extra special to me. All that to say . . .this past Sunday was made extra special by a couple of my close friends that I work with at Westside!

————–————–

My incredibly talented co-worker, Glenda, whom I lovingly refer to as “G-Mama,” sewed me up a SUPER rad gym tote! I mean, here’s Glenda, this beautiful administrative assistant who handles all of our behind-the-scenes business work, who basically mothers our staff while maintaining her own family, and still finds time and energy to use her God-given talents to give to others! She makes me feel at ease in the new working environment and helps me think through the details as I try to focus my “big picture” mind. Not only is she a tender-hearted woman of faith, but she’s a HARD WORKER who raises chickens and builds things Bob Villa style! Color me jealous!! I remember in a conversation I had with her that I mentioned how much I LOVE the shade of Tiffany blue. And so last Sunday, after a long and overwhelming morning, she took time out to give me this perfect gym tote!

I adore everything about it. It’s the right color and style for me. And I really like that the outside is classy and the inside is fun polka-dots! I mean, I may not be the classiest dame out there, but I think this bag captures my personality very well! It’s able to hold my gym clothes, snacks, plus odds & ends for full functionality . . . and . . .

It’s even got two separated pockets to hold my shoes!!!!

I LOVE IT!!!

Thank you SO much, Glenda!! My heart thanks you in so many ways!! (As do my muscles) 😉

————–————–

The second blessing I got this past Sunday was from my pastor’s wife, Deb. Deb is one of those extraordinary mothers that you can glean a vast knowledge of creative and effective parenting just from spending 5 minutes around her. Not only is she a creative + practical + wise  and caring mother of 4 (plus an exchange student) + wife, but she’s also our Children’s Pastor, MOPS Director, Women’s Ministry leader, and the gracious host of our Biggest Loser nights! You would think her mind would be so focused on balancing those plates alone while trying to maintain sanity, but no, it’s CONSTANTLY thinking of others. She is big on celebrations and making sure that people know how much they matter. So I’m not sure why I was so surprised that she would share the love with me, but still I was. As I walked into my office on Sunday to sit down to work on service administrative follow-up tasks and make some important phone calls, I was greeted by a bright and beautiful goodie bag!

All of a sudden, my frown turned UPSIDE DOWN! How FUN is that gift presentation?!?

Me gusta!

She wrote me the sweetest note inside this rad card! Does she know me or does she know me?? Pssst…. Don’t tell her, but I like her a latte too 😉

 

And after my heart melted from the sweet words in the card, I dug deeper into the bag to fish out my prize. And what, to my wandering eyes did appear???

 

 

♥ MEGA NERD LOOT!!! ♥

 

I can’t believe I scored this total geek girl awesome sauce!

She said that she remembered seeing me pin something similar, so when she saw this, she knew she had to get it for me. I’m very much looking forward to cooking even more now that I have this rad new apron to wear! I have a feeling my meals are going to be SUPER tasty from here on out.*

 

AND it gives me one more reason to sport my Wonder Woman socks!!! Awww yuh!!

 

Thank you SO much, Deb, for making my life (and meals) full of fun and Wonder! 

 

*Okay, okay, I know that was a bad one.  


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Shaking Paper

I’ll rise, but I ain’t shinin’ . . . errr . . . I mean . . .

 

ah yes, that’s more like it!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . 

Yesterday was our big Back-To-School day at Westside! 

It feels SO great to have my students back!! I’ve missed them so much during our summer hiatus. ♥ Nothing like a fun Back-To-School party to kick off another amazing semester with these awesome sauce teens!

 

That means that every age is officially represented in our Children’s Ministry and we’re headed into a new semester of fun and frenzy! I know that I should probably be fretting it all and hitting panic mode like a boss, but I’m not. Well, not as much as I probably could, anyway. However, knowing that there is a space that I can retreat to and hunker down to focus and get stuff done away from the frenzy is a big comfort to me. I don’t know about you, but my office environment is a huge factor when it comes to my workflow, focus, and overall workplace sanity. The office is my happy place. There, I said it 😉 I actually have always thought it was a bit quirky, but I love offices in general . . . and Office Max/Depot . . . and office supplies . . . and, well you get the point. Anyway . . .

On Friday, I was finally able to get the majority of my new office space & desk at the church in ship-shape, ready for the journey ahead. And now, I can rest a little easier knowing that I’m going into this season with a stronger sense of structure, fun, and community! Since many of you are reading this in different countries, states, and cities, I would like to invite you to kick off your shoes, loosen those suit buttons and ties, and join me in a fun little tour of my new workspace!

 

Well c’mon in!!

 

Okay so there’s not REALLY a baby sleeping in my office. 😉 It’s just a sign I found when I was cleaning it out of old storage items and I decided it would be funny to post it up. Little did I know that people would actually think there was a baby sleeping in there, so I took it down earlier today. Now, what to fill the space with??

 

TA-DA!!! It’s my happy place!!

Now you’ll probably first notice that giant banner in the background there. It says:

“Don’t be fooled by the pounds that I’ve lost, I’m just Amo from the block!”

 

Let me assure you that I don’t have it hanging up to remind me to focus on being skinny or losing weight or even emulating J.Lo though I wouldn’t mind having her tush . . . uh . . . I mean, what???. No, my friends, it is the banner that was being held up by my friends when they all met up at Hogwarts for my Biggest Loser Homecoming Celebration and it serves as a giant reminder to me just how powerful COMMUNITY is. It reminds me that I need to let people into my life. It reminds me that I need to value people more than things. It reminds me that I am not alone on this journey AND that others don’t need to be alone through their journeys either! The posters surrounding it were made by people who came together to make signs JUST for that celebration and helps me to remember not just the fun references on each of them, but how much more vibrant and fun life can be when you spend quality time with people. ♥

 

My desk has a removable plastic cover on it, so I decided to decorate underneath it with postcards from trips, family + friend photos, encouraging cards that people have given me, memorabilia from fun events I’ve been able to participate in, and quotes/references to quirky things I just enjoy. It’s basically my life . . . on display. And it reminds me every time I sit down that in this position, my life is on display, and that those kids and parents are watching, so I need to be sure that I am making my life shine in an honest and transparent way that I hope will encourage them to know that not everyone who does ministry is perfect or fits into a nice neat little box.

(L to R) Curious George, BFF Boyd’s Bear from my bestie, My K.Rowe Build-A-Bear, Fun Notes from my ATX going away party, squwaker, squishy brain toy, Green Lantern mask, Lego ring

My office is located downstairs in a far corner and no one else works down there with me, so I figured I would need some great friends (I guess we can just call them my co-workers) to keep me company for those moments when I start to take myself too seriously. And EVERYONE needs toys at their desk to help them when they get in that creative rut! Don’t believe me? Just ask Josh Baskin! 😉

(L to R) Jolly Mountain Soap Co. Lemon Lotion, Bejeweled/Plants vs Aliens coasters, Sandlewood Candle, Jar of tea bags—this USED to be filled with Reese’s Pieces, but after a binge session on those during a previous emotional season, I opted to replace them with tea bags 😉

I’m the type of person who needs constant stimulation to do work well. For instance, I get TONS of work done at coffee shops because there’s so much ambient movement plus music on the loud speakers and art on the walls. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that my office would need a fair amount of knick-knacks and toys to both stimulate my mind and to serve as a reminder to not lose sight of the kid inside of all of us.

3 coasters on the top deck, and one specially reserved for my MINE mug that the Stubberts gave me, plus one of the knit mug koozie that my BFF made for me, and a sweet traditional Mexican doll I got as a gift at one of my students’ Quinceaneras

Autobots, ROLL OUT! (L to R) Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Toy soldiers that my youth boys gave me after our Gameworks event, Super Mario!!!

So much fun and color makes me One Happy Amo!

I’ve yet to find that missing drawer . . . :-/

 

Another huge relief is that I was able to get my bookshelf organized and ready for MORE BOOOOOOKS!!! ♥

On the shelf: Ministry books, Dancing Chihuahua & Singing Snoopy stuffed animals from my pops, A handmade puppet from my friend Teresa, Scrapbook from my H.S. Church Choir trip to New York City (and up the east coast)!

Like I said, we’re headed into a new semester of fun and frenzy, but knowing that I have things visually plotted means that my brain can focus more on seeing the bigger picture and flowing more creatively as I approach each week + event. And that, my friends, allows me to express a huge sigh of relief!

Welp, thanks for joining me! Don’t worry, I made sure to leave PLENTY of extra room for additions—like this AWESOME SAUCE comic that my wonderful friend Jeana sent me!

Thanks so much for the sweet note and great laugh, Jeana!!

Now, let’s tackle this week and show it Who’s The Boss!!


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Hall of Fame | Fit Life Friday

The adult’s choir at the church I attended in Austin, TX put on a Christmas play once and there was a scene of hurried Christmas shoppers pushing and shoving and screaming and it was pure chaos. At the moment, I thought it was pretty comical and accurate. As I’ve been participating in the No-Shopping Spree Challenge, I have been living it in my own personal little hell. The sad thing though, is that instead of a giant crowd of strangers, it’s just me. Many, many clones of me, and everywhere I go, my attention is divided and my mind is bellowing . . .

 

MUST. BUY. ALL. THE. THINGS!!!!

 

It’s brutal. I guess I never realized how out of control my excess spending was. Having to calm my mind and ask, “Is this a want or a need?? No . . . REALLY . . . ?” every time my shopping impulse hits is equal parts wonderful and agonizing. And I thought the No-Sugar Challenge was brutal! :O

To top it all off, my meal planning failed me this week, in that I ran out of food this morning and had to make an emergency run to the store before heading in to work. Since I knew I was going grocery shopping tonight, I figured I would make today’s lunch a special splurge. I still made sure that the things I bought were on sale, but the soup I bought (Progresso Low Sodium Heart Healthy Chicken Gumbo) was not necessarily a natural/clean meal but dang it was TASTY!! Combined with my fresh peach, it REALLY hit the lunch spot!

Lunch time at my newly organized desk space!

 

So far, the No-Shopping Spree challenge has been the toughest of my monthly goals. To be honest, I thought for sure that with the hectic pace of life lately, the lunges would be the toughest. However, I’m finding that it’s actually pretty easy and convenient to take a couple of minutes out of the day here and there to sneak in 4 sets of 10 lunges on each leg, which gets the goal met! Woot!

Speaking of hectic pace of life, today’s Fit Life post is gonna be short, sweet, and to the point with fun goodies that get me going and keep me going on this journey! It’s what I like to refer to as my current

 

FIT LIFE HALL OF FAME!

 

I picked out 5 Fit Life categories and I’ll let you know what item in that category is my FAVORITE thing! I hope you enjoy learning more about me and what I like when it comes to keeping my Fit Life together. If you have questions about any of this stuff or if you wanna share some of your favorites, please feel free to leave some comment love! And now, on to the goooooods . . .

FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT SONG

 

Hall of Fame by The Script  feat. will.i.am
Talk about a song that really gets your workout mojo going! It’s not uncommon for me to blast this in my headphones as I’m getting ready to head to the gym and more often than not, I’ll be throwing some jabs in the air kickboxing style because it’s just THAT motivating!

FAVORITE HEALTHY SNACK

Watermelon + Cucumbers + Apples w/ Cashew Butter
I mean, seriously, SO much delicious flavor! If you haven’t tried it yet, please give Cashew Butter a whirl! I love the Kettle brand—it’s so fresh and nutty and heavenly. Watermelon is a definitely fruity favorite—so soft and fresh. Cucumber is a major comfort food for me—like fresh and clean crunchy veggie chips! Apples are a no-brainer—packed with nutrients and juicy goodness? Yes please! Perfect snack is perfect!

FAVORITE WORKOUT WEAR

My faves—Wonder Woman knee-high socks with capes on the back!

My black capri sweats paired with some wacky knee socks!!
What can I say, I like to have a little fun when I work out . . . mostly because I’m not to that point in my life yet where working out is ALWAYS fun. So I have to motivate myself with a little bit of fun sock action. I adopted this look because I was inspired by Bob Harper’s shorts with compression socks signature style and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. 🙂 Although that combo might get knocked out once this month is over because I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to invest in one of these shirts

For one thing, the front says BEAST MODE, which is what Heather and I say when we work out extra hard. Secondly, the back reveals the I AM A BEAST phrase as you sweat! Jack Black was right, “You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore.” 😉

FAVORITE EXERCISE

Anything on the TRX Suspension System
When my trainer, Josh, first introduced me to the new TRX set-up at the gym, I was a bit intimidated. As I’ve spent quality time on the TRX, I’ve grown to love it the most! I can do more in-depth resistance training and the intensity can be increased or decreased simply based on which angle I’m standing at. It’s helped me get low on my side lunges and build up my biceps and core on a whole new level. Plus, when Josh nicknamed it the T-REX, it was pretty obvious that me and this equipment were going to be buddy buddy friends! For those without a gym membership, have no fear—you can get one for your home gym!

FAVORITE FIT LIFE READ

 

Women Who Run with the Wolves:
Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D

I’m just gonna go ahead and let you in on a little secret—I am a tough girl that comes with a lot of baggage. I didn’t have an easy childhood and it hadn’t been until I really dug deep into this health revolution in my own life that I was able to come to terms with some of the deeper, heavier hurts. Since this health revolution journey ISN’T just about losing weight, getting biceps on biceps, or eating right, I find it’s only right that I share with you about this book that God has been using to heal my heart and mind.

One of my accountability partners gave me this book at a major milestone along the journey and every time I open it up to read on, it speaks DIRECTLY to the big issue I’m facing at that moment. Not only that, but it brings about the clarity and rational thinking that has set me free from a lot of my own personal toxic mentalities. Remember my recent post about my resolve to not let the mentalities that others have shared with me sink in, grow on me, and define me? I was able to make that resolve thanks to my accountability meetings and the revelation I’ve gleaned from this book in those pinnacle points.

It’s a big book. It’s an in-depth read. It’s creative and full of wisdom and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone to at least read a little bit of it. Maybe the whole book isn’t for you like it is for me, but I guarantee you that you can pick out at least one chapter, read it, and soak in some incredible wisdom and walk away challenged in a practical way. Bottom line—it’s a must-read on my list!

 

That’s my short list for this week’s FLF post and you can definitely expect more! Also, please feel free to let me know if there’s a specific topic or suggestion you want me to share on here. 

 

Happy Fit Life Friday, Y’all!

 

They call me “Jalapeñito!”