The Love Secret

For years I heard about personality tests and quizzes that would help to “figure out” who you really were.  I mean since I was a teenager I remember begging my Mom to get me the newest magazine near the check out at the grocery store.  I think over the years I pretty much took every quiz/test (and read every one of my horoscopes) trying to “figure out” who I was and how I worked.

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I will be honest and say I have no clue who introduced me to this “secret” love assessment, but I remember immediately thinking WOW!  Like for all these years I was trying to parent a certain way and maintain a marriage based on what I “thought” were the right things to do.  I swear this was like a BIG wake up call and an instant sign of relief!!

The 5 Love Languages are an “assessment” created by Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor and director of marriage seminars, that really dives into what makes others tick, how they think, what they want and how YOU can be aware of that to improve your relationship with that person.  On the flip side it is GREAT because you get to not only figure out “who” these other people really are/want/need, but you also get to do the same for yourself.

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I really loved seeing what I was like and I have to say that it was spot on to how I viewed myself and my relationships.  My mind was blown when I saw how accurate it was not only for me, but especially for my son.  I can truly say that it has improved my marriage, my parenting and also my relationships with others.  I now tell everyone I can about it – including my sons teachers.  What better way to “help” children as best as you can than by knowing how they really are?!  I can only imagine that it would be an asset in the classroom since each child is unique and “needs” different attention, love and has varied interests.

Gary Chapman has a variety of books around this concept – marriage, children (both younger and teenagers), singles, military, a gift edition, one specifically for men and so on.  I highly recommend picking up a copy based on your interest, but until then feel free to check out the 5 Love Languages chart (for couples) that I have included here for an idea of how each is broken down:

love language chart

To go along with this awesome chart there are also specific quizzes that you are able to take to get the basics on “who” you are and “what” the other people in your life are like.  Unlike all those tests in the magazines I feel like these actually helped me understand myself better and how to best create the relationships around me.

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I could go on and on about this LOVE secret, but I think it is great to explore on your own.  I recommend taking the time to check out Gary’s book, but also to explore his site.  It is filled with amazing resources and I truly think that you will be opened to the idea that your relationships CAN improve.  Even if you are blessed with amazing ones already, there is nothing wrong with improving things and always striving to be better.

If you end up taking any quizzes, reading a book or browsing through the resources please let me know.  I would love to chat more with you about your thoughts, reactions and plans to enhance all the relationships you have.

Happy Learning!

Jen :)

 

 

Christmas Ideas For Children

Here is the guideline I am using this year for my sons Christmas gifts and I already feel more at ease and less stressed. Every year he gets more and more “stuff” and most of it just ends up sitting around the house never to be touched again. I am excited for him to open his presents this year and for us as a family to be more involved in what he receives. I think it is going to be great to have some special moments to share with him and less clutter in our home.
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Some ideas that I have planned are as follows: Dave & Buster’s gift card, movie gift card, marbles, year membership to a fossil dig place, books, gift certificate for 2 ninja warrior classes, clay pottery maker, wooden letters of his name to paint, Dino-opoly, other wooden Christmas items from Michaels to decorate and an envelope filled with coupons for things he can pick (stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime, movie/popcorn night, extra 10 minutes on iPad, dinner of choice, outing with Mom/Dad, etc).

I love the idea of filling his stocking full of memories and providing gifts that are meaningful to him because I truly believe that as he gets older that is what he will remember anyway. Anyone else do something similar to this? If so, any ideas you can share?

 

12 Days Of Kindness

Over the years I have become more giving, more open with my heart and have taken a passion to help in any way I can.  I always thought I had to be “rich” or needed all this $$ to really make an impact, but I have found that not to be true.  Honestly the BEST thing you can give is time, love and caring.

I do provide monetarily when I am able to, but I have become really focused on just doing GOOD in all areas of life wherever and whenever I can.  It is also something that I (my husband included) am trying to teach my 8 year old son about.  I believe that my (our) actions make such a big impact on his future.  What he sees Mom (and Dad) do he is more likely to do.  I don’t give or help to brag or boast, but to spread joy and leave a little bit of love everywhere I go.

Once a week I take my son for breakfast before school and we make it a point to pay for the persons order behind us.  Almost every time the store workers says – “The total is $____._, is that okay?”  I answer the same way each time – “Yes, of course!”  It has become so routine that my son usually does not even say anything about it anymore except today when the guy we paid for happen to pull up to a light next to us and raised his hand to thank us.  My son asked why he did that so I explained that I paid for his order.  No words came out of my sons mouth, but I quickly turned around and saw a little smirk.  Again…he is watching.

I see calendars for acts of kindness and others things all over Pinterest (my fav obsession) so I wanted to make a twist on those and bring in some of my own ideas.  With the holiday hustle and bustle it is really easy to forget the true reason of the season and to take care of ourselves and others.  Here is what I came up with for the 12 days BEFORE Christmas that can actually be done at anytime throughout the year that you would like.  You can cross them off in any order and do multiple ones in a day if that works better for you.  The date is NOT important – the ACTION is!

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If you want to join in the kindness movement with me or have a story to share of your own on how you are intentional about blessing the lives around you comment below.  I am all about positivity and spreading the love!!

Tips To Battle The Winter Blues

Tips To Battle The Winter Blues

Who suffers from the winter blues? Do you feel down, have less energy, sad, moody, depressed, just completely out of it and not yourself? I totally GET it. I am impacted by the change in season BIG time. Being stuck in the house with less sunshine, less light and colder weather can really take a toll on your mind, body and soul.

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Here is a little funny for those of you who know all about the snow on your vehicle

It sometimes seems to never end!

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Now that is a bit better! =)

We try our BEST to stay positive through the holidays (the hustle and bustle helps a bit to distract us) and then January hits.  Some make New Years Resolutions to eat better, get more sleep, become more active or start that project you may have been putting off.  Come February maybe time has gotten away from you and all those wants and wishes you made in January have now come and gone, yet you still have many days to fight through until you see some sunshine and warmer temperatures.

If you are like me you experience lots of snow, negative temps and random sunshine which only blinds you as you drive from the reflection off the mass amounts of snow.  Even if you do not live in the frozen tundra, the shorter days, less sunlight, cooler temps and less activity can take a big toll on your mind, body and emotions.

Through personal experience (being a depression survivor), trying so many things (tanning, pills, products) and feeling “stuck” in the never ending gloom that winter brings (never leaving the house) I have found some ways to do my best to battle those winter blues.

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Dreaming of brighter days while dealing with the snow and cold that winter brings

Just a few things I do that help (hey any little thing matters):

  1. Take daily Vitamin D – I questioned this for a long time until I actually added it into my routine.  Just by taking 1 tablet of Vitamin D3 (1000 IU) each morning I have seen a drastic change in my mood, feelings and depressing thoughts.
  2. Be active - no matter what your current routine is right now you can add some activity in.  I follow a set at home workout plan (5-6 days a week) that helps get my blood pumping, endorphins kicked up and is an immediate mood booster (best natural stress reliever). You do not have to do anything intense, but just some stretching, brisk walking (head to the mall/big place indoors) and other activity really can help so much.  Be sure to listen to your body and not push past any restrictions that you might have.  I find it helps even more the earlier I get it done.
  3. Get out of the house – even if you are just going to check the mail, bundle up and take in any sunshine you can find.  The movement and change in environments can help a ton.
  4. Let the light in – when I am unable to leave the house I make sure that I open any drapes, curtains or blinds to let any bit (no matter how small) of sunshine in.  Sure sometimes I do not want to see the snow piles and leafless trees, but looking at a different view really does help.
  5. Fuel your body – ensuring that you are feeding your body with the proper nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants is so vital to your health.  Mental, emotional and physical well being all starts with nutrition.  The better (clean eating – less processed) food you consume, the less your body will feel deprived, depressed and demotivated.  I personally do my best to eat all organic, non-gmo (chemical free) products and ensure I take my daily supplements that compliment my food consumption.  With those items I can make sure that even if I am not doing the other tips listed above I am at least feeding my body the best I can.
  6. Find encouragement – whether you dive into a good book, watch an inspiring movie or connect with a motivating friend, be sure you are adding something of value to your life daily.  I highly recommend reading anything personal development related and always keeping the positive friends and family closest to you as much as you can.
  7. Find warmth – we cannot all take vacations or live in the tropics during these cold winter months, but you can do your best to bring it into your home.  Take lots of hot (I love adding epsom salt) baths, drink hot chocolate/apple cider (be sure to check ingredients), hang bright pictures in your home, post up a calendar filled with beaches (I currently have one hanging right in front of me), check out #4 again.
  8. Put your thoughts down – get a journal where you can write in every morning and throughout the day.  It is very important to get your feelings and thoughts out on paper to visualize what is really going on inside of your mind.
  9. Embrace the season – sure some of us do not want to bundle up (hats, gloves, coat, scarf, boots and so on), but making the most of what you have to “deal” with can help. Take up a winter sport: snowboarding, ice skating, skiing, hockey and sledding.  Get out there and make the most of it.
  10. Treat yourself – get a massage, go for a pedi/mani, head to the mall (set a budget) for a new outfit, something fun!

Everyone has their own routine and the key is to finding what works best for you.  Doing something IS always better than nothing.  Share with us —> what things do YOU do to get out of that FUNK?

Stay warm, be blessed and keep smiling!

Jen :)

Meal Prep and Planning

As each new week starts my mind is always racing on what the upcoming days hold.  What appointments do we have, who is going where and what in the world are we going to eat.  I found out quickly that the more complicated I made things, the more I stressed.  Instead of getting super fancy with my meals in the kitchen I do my best to simplify things, break everything down and work with what I have.

Here is hoping I can do the same thing for YOU!  :)

Some of my tips on meal prep and planning (no matter what nutrition program you are following):

  • Get inspired.  Pinterest is a great resource for recipes and doubles as a place to store your collection.
  • Keep it simple.  Too many fancy recipes can be hard to keep track of and gets costly.  Pick one meal per day to be more elaborate and then keep the rest of it easy-peasy. (I usually save more lavish recipes for dinner).
  • Don’t forget to plan your snacks!  Having snacks already prepared and portioned out will ensure you stay on track, especially when you’re on the go.
  • Make a list.  Look at the recipes you have decided to use and make a shopping list of the ingredients.
  • Create a schedule. Plan your grocery trips our meal prepping time.  Put it on your schedule as if it were any other important appointment.
  • Prep food as soon as you get home from the store.  Wash produce, chop veggies, brown meats, and assemble salads.  You will thank your past-self for this later, trust me.
  • Prep meal components.  Instead of cooking full meals, prep foods that can be used in several different meals.
  • Plan for leftovers. Make a little extra during dinner and take it for lunch the next day.
  • Cook extra.  If prepping all of your food at once doesn’t work for you, than cook extra of the things you will need later in the week.  For example, when cooking your chicken breast for dinner, cook a few extra to eat later in the week.
  • Start freezing.  Make double batches of crock pot meals, sauces, soups, etc. and reward yourself for your preparedness in a month.
  • Keep a list of what’s in your fridge.  A visual reminder will help prevent meals and items from being forgotten and spoiled.
  • Stock up on good storage.  Invest in quality storage containers.  Glass containers are best, especially for reheating.  Save the cheap, disposable plastics for items you don’t need to heat in the microwave.
  • Do whatever works best for you.  Just make sure to have some sort of plan set.  Planning and then implementing that plan (prepping) is NECESSARY.  The people who fall off track with the eating plan are those who try to wing it. STAY PREPARED!

I hope some of the above tips help you out a bit.  Like I said – make it work for you.  If it seems like a chore then you will be less likely to do it.

Happy planning!

Jen :)

 

Reasons Why You May Not Be Seeing Results

Are you putting in the effort each day to reach your health & fitness goals, but are not seeing the changes or results you hoped for?  Do you feel like maybe all the hard work is for nothing and you will never see what you are expecting and looking for?

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Here are some reasons why you may not be achieving those results that you think you should:

1) You are NOT eating enough. Yes I said that.  Your body is just like a car.  It requires an adequate amount of fuel (food) daily to function.  Whether you are counting calories or not, if you are not feeding your body enough daily nutrients, it goes into what some call starvation mode.  When this happens your metabolism slows down because your body and organs do not know when the next time they will get energy (food).  There are many calorie equations out there, but my rule of thumb is to listen to your body, drink enough water (1/2 of your body weight in ounces) and eat 5 to 6 small meals each day.  If you are one who prefers to count calories then be sure that you are never under 1200 for the day.  That is the bare minimum (without working out) that anyone should consume.  Treat your body like a well fueled automobile and feed it enough nutrition.

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2) Your portions are TOO big!  In society today, most of us have this mindset that we have to finish everything on our plate.  We are constantly asked to supersize items and add on extras.  Portion control is easier at home than when you are eating out at a restaurant or at another person house.  My recommendation at a restaurant is that no matter what you order, the second it is brought to the table, ask the waiter/waitress to box half of it up for you.  This way you will only eat 1/2 (which is more accurate for a healthy portion), you will have leftovers and you will be less likely to leave the restaurant feeling bloated and having to unbutton your pants.  If you are visiting someone else’s home, politely request that you are there when the servings are put on the plate and be honest with them.  There is no reason to be scared to tell someone (especially those you are close with) that you are watching how much you eat at one sitting.  This also goes for liquids that you have through out the day (soda, juice, milk, energy drinks, etc)  You can literally drink your calorie intake for the day by having these.  Stick with water, tea, coffee (watch what you put in it) and you can have the occasional juice or milk here or there.  Drinking many of these liquids throughout the day are nothing but empty calories with zero nutrition.

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3)  You are eating TOO many processed foods.  Two of my biggest tips are:

  • If you will be tempted by it, do not buy it and bring it into your house because you WILL eat it.  My motto is out of sight, out of mind.  Even if you tell yourself oh I will not eat these or I am just buying them for when guests are here or for my kids, before you know it you will find yourself munching on them.  Whatever is your downfall: sweets, salty, or a combo of both, just say NO.
  • Shop the perimeters of the grocery store.  Almost everything on the inside aisles (besides some nuts, peanut butter, condiments, oils, etc) are there to pull you in.  Yes every grocery store is pretty much set up the same for marketing reasons.  They put cookies, crackers, other sweets, etc on the end caps so you see them as you walk by.  Once you go down one middle aisle you continue to go in and out each of the others and before you realize it you have grabbed this, that and the other thing.  Stick with fresh, whole foods such as produce (veggies, fruit), lean meats and better sources of carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice).

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4)  Your water intake is not high enough.  Water is crucial for our body.  It helps our organs function properly, keeps our metabolism going and provides hydration, among other things.  Some times we think we are hungry, when we are actually just thirsty (or bored).  The rule of thumb I like to follow is to strive for minimum 64 ounces of water each day.  If you are very active and do strenuous workouts, I would strive for 1/2 your body weight in ounces.  Yes you will pee a lot in the beginning, but once your body regulates you will go less.  The water is helping to flush out the toxins and keep everything that you eat flowing through your body.  I talk to some people who say they hate the taste of water or it is too plain.  Try adding some fresh or frozen fruit to it.  Also lemon, lime or cucumber can fancy it up a bit.

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5) You are concentrating TOO much on that scale.  I highly recommend if you have a bad relationship with the scale where you let it determine your progress or mood, to get rid of it.  Either give it away, throw it away or have someone else hide it.  The scale is nothing but a number, just like your BMI, body fat, age, etc.  It does not determine hard work, does not show the true story and can make your life miserable if you let it.  You are most likely losing inches, turning fat into muscle and transforming your body more than you realize.  Take pictures (before and after), do measurements and go by how you feel.  Are you getting stronger?  Have more energy?  Are your clothes fitting better?  There are SO many others ways besides a dang number to show your progress.

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Life can be SO very complicated, confusing and busy…why add more to your plate or spend each day worrying about a number, a size, food, etc.  Take the time to love yourself, feel confident in your own skin (regardless of what a # or another person says) and just live in the moment.  Life is WAY too short to spend the time making yourself sick over things that do not matter.  Think positive, smile often, treat your one and only body well and trust the process.  Everything will fall into place if you let it.

Jen :)

** If you have any questions on any of the above I mentioned, please reach out to me.  Comment below or email me anytime at balancedforlife11@gmail.com.  I love to inspire, encourage and help in anyway I can. **

Super Bowl Safety

Who doesn’t love a good Super Bowl party with all of that yummy food?  The Super Bowl isn’t about just the game and who wins.  It is also about the people you are with, the delicious food you consume and of course some of the funniest commercials you see each year.

Along with the fun, you can consume thousands of calories in one short football game and not even realize it.  Think Thanksgiving, but without the turkey, gravy and stuffing.  Before you know it, you have drank and ate almost 2 days worth of calories.

So what do you do?  What do you eat or make to eat?  And most importantly what do you avoid while at these Super Bowl parties?

First, I suggest eating your own dinner/food BEFORE you leave the house or your guests arrive. Have something that will fill your stomach and hopefully help you resist those temptations that are right around the corner.

I think if you are hosting the party you actually have more control over what food is put out and what you will consume. Be sure to provide the usual veggie tray, but instead of the dip in the middle being some high fat ranch or veggie flavor try some hummus.  There are so many varieties of hummus and I bet you will be surprised how many of your guests have never tried it, but will end up loving it.  My next go to snack for any party is a BIG fruit bowl.  You can put any combination of fruit in there depending on the season availability.  Do you want to spice it up a little?  Make some chocolate covered strawberry footballs!  Guarantee they will be a huge hit at the party!!

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If you are going to someone else’s house, bring your OWN snacks.  Yes I said it!  Pack a little bag or throw some things in your purse.  You may get some stares and weird looks, but guess what you will not be the one unbuttoning your pants before halftime and feeling horrible when you wake up Monday morning.  So what can you bring?  Apple, banana, protein bar, nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews), carrots, a protein shake, single packets of peanut or almond butter AND your own BIG bottle of water. With your snacks in hand and water by your side you will be less likely to grab those food items that you knew you did not want to eat.

Some other easy tips:  take ONE plate and fill it up right before the game starts.  Craving more at halftime?  Drink your water and grab some fruit/veggies for a second helping.

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Food to avoid:  Any unknown dips…..cheesy, creamy dips.  You know the ones, that usually smell the best and have bread or chips to dip into them.  Ya those!!  Most likely they are filled with butter, a ton of cheese and calories/fat.  Other items to leave behind:  those greasy wings and pizza that almost everyone orders for the Super Bowl, nachos, desserts and the alcoholic beverages.

Speaking of the alcohol….if you insist on having some, have a glass or two of wine, a skinny margarita or a few “lite” beers.  In between each drink be sure to have a glass of water to keep yourself hydrated.  What happens when you are thirsty?  You grab for food, usually the bad choices.

Finally, just relax.  I gave a few tips, but overall I want YOU to have a FUN time and not overwhelm yourself with what you should or shouldn’t eat and drink.  When in doubt, have a small plate and remember to hydrate with water.  After all it is just ONE day.

Jen :)

 

20 small, attainable New Year’s GOALS that you will actually keep

How many times have you declared on January 1st that you will go to the gym every single morning at dawn? Or that you will lose 20 pounds?

If every year you make a big, sweeping resolution, you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment.

Pick smaller, doable steps that you can actually achieve.

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1) Eat breakfast everyday- SO important to get your metabolism going and reduce the urge to binge on bad food later in the day! Even something small (apple, banana, other fruit, protein bar, smoothie)

2) Park your car in the last spot in the lot – you will save time and frustration trying to find that close spot AND you will guarantee yourself 2 short walks a day.

3) Make an appointment with exercise – put your workout on your calendar just like you would a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting. Make time for it just like you do for other things.

4) Commit to one piece of fruit a day – even better replace dessert with fruit every night. You will get all the health benefits of the fruit, while saving calories.

5) Take the stairs instead of the escalator – if you spend just 15 minutes walking up stairs a week, you will ditch close to 150 calories.

6) Pack your lunch at minimum once a week – more often is better, but start slow. You will save money and have control over what you are going to eat.

7) Upgrade your salad greens – trade your iceberg and romaine lettuce for dark, leafy greens. You will add vital nutrients to your plate.

8 ) Keep healthy snacks at the office – Keep your own stash of good snacks close by. Examples: almonds, carrots, apples, PB, celery, hummus, etc

9) Return your shopping cart – After you load your car, walk the cart back to the store for extra exercise.

10) Include a veggie with dinner each night – Vegetables provide a ton of nutrients and are very low in calories.

11) Try 1 new fruit or veggie a month – Explore what is in season and get rid of the “I am picky, I won’t like it” mindset. You never know if you don’t try and you may just find some new food items that you love!

12) Keep hand weights (or cans) on the sofa or near your desk at work – Strength train during commercials or during a break at work. You will be surprised how little things here and there really add up!

13) Stand up every time the phone rings – Get up from your desk when you are on the phone. Even doing this here and there will give you a break from sitting and give your body a stretch and change the pressure on your back and spine.

14) Pick one new activity month – Commit to trying new things until you find something that hits the spot. Hula-hooping, martial arts, yoga, belly dancing, etc

15) Workout for 10 minutes every day – Consistency is the key when it comes to weight loss. Even for just those 10 minutes getting into a ritual is important both mentally and emotionally.

16) Start every meal with water – Before you take that first bite, drink a glass of H²O. This will help you distinguish between actually being hungry or just thirsty.

17) Ditch packaged “diet” foods – Low-fat versions are often worse than the regular version. They can often be high in added sugars and sodium. Plus when you think “low-fat” you may be prone to eat more than you normally would.

18) Trade a dinner date for an exercise date once a month – Instead of meeting for dinner and drinks, go walk the mall or take a yoga class together. Invite your friend to Zumba and then a post workout smoothie.

19) Prepare your meals for the week on Sunday – Whether it is just compiling your daily dinners or actually cooking your lunch and dinners ahead of time….any preparation helps.

20) Lastly and most important – Have NO regrets. It does not matter how many time you fall just as long as you always get back up.

You CAN and WILL achieve these small GOALS! Stick with it, do not give up and keep going!

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