Back To School (lunches!)

Well, the time has come. My kids have started preschool and I will be completely honest – I am SOOO excited about that! I just know that it is so good for them to get out of the house twice a week and interact with other children and other loving adults. And it is good for me to have some time for myself for work, errand running, or maybe even… holy moly… some relaxation time!! Ha!

So in the excitement of back to school I’ve been trying to think creatively about packing lunches for the kids! Right now, Neely is the only one who eats lunch at school. James will start in January. So I’m trying to pack her food that can be easily packed, that she can feed mostly herself, and that has a good variety of food groups and is healthy!! So far, here is what I have come up with:

Cheerios, cheese & spinach quesadilla, strawberries & blueberriesFullSizeRender

Toasted whole wheat bagel, cheese, bananas & blueberries (I call this the yellow-themed lunch 😉 )IMG_3129

Veggie muffin (recipe below!), grapes & strawberriesIMG_3448

So, I’m seriously lacking in the protein department. Unfortunately, neither of my kids really love meat, so its hard for me to know what to try. But I need to try something!!

IMG_3395

These muffins were a real winner! I found the recipe on Pinterest a loooong time ago and just finally got around to making them. They aren’t 100% clean and healthy, they do contain sugar, but after a few other failed attempts at super-clean kid snacks, I’m meeting in the middle and am very satisfied with these! They have pumpkin, carrots, bananas, and applesauce, and they really do taste great. They made a TON so next time I will probably half the recipe. Also, I omitted the nutmeg just because I didn’t have it already.

Click here to see the original recipe!

IMG_3371

IMG_3376

IMG_3373

On The Menu – Thanks for the suggestions!

So a week or 2 ago I asked for a little help on my Facebook page for some good recipes to add to our dinner/lunch rotation. I got lots of really yummy suggestions! Between those suggestions and recipes posted in my challenge group, we tried some really great new recipes last week! Here are just a few:

Grilled Zucchini stuffed with Caprese Orzo (find the original recipe here!)
I am a sucker for ANYTHING that combines tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. I mean, is there anything more fresh and delicious?!?! It is one of my favorite flavor combinations. So when I saw this caprese orzo stuffed into one of my favorite veggies, I knew this would be a winner! And it was! We served it alongside some simple baked chicken that I had marinaded in a balsamic dressing. I also used our little indoor grill/panini press for the zucchini which was easy peasy!

IMG_3101

One Pan Mexican Quinoa (find the original recipe here!)
I generally eat salads for lunch which I enjoy and I like to get a good serving of leafy green veggies into my body during the middle of the day! But lately I’ve been bored with my usual chicken on top of the salad so I wanted to spruce things up a bit. Enter this delicious Mexican quinoa! It was SO easy to make (thank you, one-pot recipe!) and it made a TON so I’ve had plenty to eat. This was just so full of flavor and definitely filling with the quinoa – a winner for sure! Will be making this one again.

IMG_2987

FullSizeRender

We’ve also had a few of our old standby’s lately – turkey burgers and oven fajitas. You know those recipes that you love, and you know so well, so when you’re in a bind making the grocery list you just throw them on there as easy options? Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately! But I’m ready to get a little creative again! I’m hoping to try a few more of the suggestions I was given on my page – so stay tuned!

What is a Challenge Group??

I post a lot on social media about challenge groups, inviting friends to join in and experience what could be a life-changing community. But I’m not always able to explain completely what these challenge groups are like! I try to keep my Facebook posts a little shorter because I’m not sure how many people really want to read a novel as they scroll through Facebook 🙂 So I figured the blog would be a better place to explain more thoroughly!

So these challenge groups: they come in various forms and for various lengths of time! We’ve run some 5 day groups and we’ve run 30 day groups. The 5 day groups are usually smaller, obviously shorter, and sometimes are completely free! I love these groups because it really allows for people to get a taste for what the bigger, longer groups are like, without having to make the full 30-day commitment!

30 day groups, though, have truly become a passion of mine. It is where it all began for me and I truly believe that joining that first 30 day challenge was the beginning of a new life for me. A fresh start and an eye-opening experience into what I am capable of! Here are some main points of the 30 day groups:

• Daily exercise
• Focuses nutrition
• Shakeology
• Accountability
• Support
• Tips, ideas, and recipes
• One-on-one coaching

These groups and these programs aren’t designed as a quick-fix diet. They are designed to create healthy habits that you can maintain for the rest of your life! And it is not only designed to impact you physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. That is one part that I was NOT anticipating when I first decided to do a group, but quickly realized that the process would run much deeper than simply losing weight. Here is part of a message that I sent my coach the day before my first challenge started back in January, as I was struggling with whether or not to take my “before” picture:

I’m nervous because I’m afraid that by taking the before picture, I am going to be setting myself up to fail – that I will be anticipating goals that are unreachable, that I will quit as soon as it gets hard; just that in 3 weeks I’ll look back and say, well, that was a nice idea, but I don’t need to take an “after” picture because nothing has changed.

I’ve always struggled with being WAY too hard on myself, with comparing myself to others and feeling like I never measure up. So I think this 3 weeks is going to be so much more to me than just getting in shape and feeling good about my body. I want to prove to myself that I can finish what I start, that I can achieve what I hope for, and that I am not a failure!

Like I said, I never could have imagined the truly life-changing experience this group would be for me! Here is a message I sent my coach on day 2 of my first challenge:

Oh my goodness, this is just so great! I’m telling you, its day TWO and I’m like, this is changing me. It’s totally the nutrition aspect! I’ve always been good at picking up a new workout plan, doing the videos or going to the gym or whatever, and I’ve always felt good about it. But to factor in the food part. Man! My body seriously feels different. It feels good!

These are my actual messages at the time of my first challenge and just reading them gives me chills because I’m seeing how I was feeling while my life was truly being changed! I never would have dreamed that today, over 7 months later, I would not only have kept up with this lifestyle but would be coaching others and helping others to have the same experience I did. I get to pay it forward and watch as other people’s lives are changed! It is incredible!

What makes these groups amazing is the community! When I started my first challenge group, I was coming out of a pretty lonely time in my life. We were moving, we had just had a new baby, there were a lot of “unknowns” happening, and I felt alone. When I joined the challenge group, I suddenly had people who were beside me, rooting for me, cheering me on, supporting me. It made me feel ALIVE!

Does this sound like something you would like to experience for yourself? Do you need the support of a community, or of a personal coach? Do you have weight to lose but aren’t sure how to lose it? Do you need to learn healthy habits that are maintainable in day-to-day life? Do you simply need a confidence boost? I am here for you, and I would love nothing more than for you to join our next 30 day challenge which starts on Monday! Please let me know if you are interested, it could truly change your life!!!!!!! Send me a FB message, comment on this post, or send me an email at elder.meredith@gmail.com!

30 day

My results from my first 30 day challenge – down 12 pounds and up in confidence!

11 Months

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.26.26 PM

Our baby girl just won’t stop growing! I can’t even believe that we are in her last month until her first birthday. Something happened this month and she just got so OLD! Maybe its because she’s taking some steps all by herself. Or maybe because her hair can go into a ponytail. Or maybe because she started wearing big girl pajamas. I don’t know but it is hard to handle!!

IMG_2485

Our biggest highlight of the past month was our beach trip. Neely had such a blast and was so fun! She loved the wide open spaces of the sand and crawled SO fast to explore every inch of the beach. I think she also loved being surrounded by her family and cousins all week. She got plenty of love and attention!

IMG_2141

IMG_2194

IMG_2106

Neely is proving to be brave, busy, and curious! She doesn’t really want to sit still and be held, she would rather be on the move and exploring! We saw it on the beach and we are really seeing it in our day-to-day lives as well. Whether its pulling down every book off the bookshelf or playing at the indoor playground (no fear, all she wanted was to crawl up the slide!), or even just riding in the cart at Target – every moment is a chance for a little adventure and mischief!

IMG_2277

IMG_2355

IMG_2563

IMG_2328

As I mentioned, Neely started wearing big girl pajamas this month and there is nothing much cuter than that! Although the first morning after she wore her pjs, when I went in to get her out of her crib, she had pulled her pants off! Ha!

IMG_2540

IMG_2711

Speaking of her crib, Neely has taken after her brother in developing quite a love for her taggie blanket. She doesn’t take a paci and she doesn’t suck her thumb – she actually sucks on the tags of her blanket! It is a little gross but also pretty cute 🙂

IMG_2322

IMG_2561

Neely’s hair grows longer every day and I’ve been SO excited to start putting it into little ponytails and pig tails. If I can hold her still long enough, she forgets they are there and will keep them for a long time! She has 7 teeth and quite an appetite. We haven’t found many foods that our girl won’t eat which is wonderful! She loves to feed herself. Her favorite foods are probably blueberries and raisins! She officially took her first steps on August 6, but hasn’t taken more than 2 or 3 steps at a time.

IMG_2798

We love our girl!! First birthday is right around the corner!!

IMG_2659

Wednesday Words – Slow Down!

FullSizeRender

Wow, I’ve not been the best blogger lately. It seems like every time I turn around, time has just gotten away from me. BUT, that is why I am extra excited about this Wednesday Words because it has been the theme of my week and it has really helped me out when I feel like I’m falling behind. I put so much pressure on myself to do “it all” and to do it perfectly, when what I need to do is give myself grace and focus on the MOST important things. Ultimately, God doesn’t look at my to-do list and critique how much or how little I accomplished that day. He cares about my heart, and my time spent with HIM, and how I used my time to bring Him glory.

So my hope and prayer throughout this week has been to, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, SLOW DOWN and focus on the Lord. I want to lay down at the end of the day and know that my heart was full, my actions and words reflected Jesus, and I used what I’ve been given for God’s glory. It has really changed my overall spirit and brought me so much peace this week!

This print is sort of my paraphrase of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God!” I hope it will be a good reminder for you, too! Click here: SlowDownAndPray

IMG_2501