Muffin Tins – A Busy Mom’s Best Friend

Over the last few months I’ve realized that eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or way more time consuming, it just requires a little bit of planning ahead! One of my FAVORITE ways to plan ahead is by making recipes using a muffin tin. It creates a little batch of goodness that will last all week! I’ve been loving making muffins for me and mini muffins for my kids. The mini muffins are perfect to send to school or to grab as a healthy snack, or to use as breakfast… really any time works for these cute little meals and it feels great to have a healthy option right there in the fridge! I usually just quickly warm them up in the microwave and they’re ready to go. Here are a few of my favorites!! Feel free to print out these little recipe cards, too ūüôā

First are these healthy toddler muffins, you’ve actually seen me post about these here on the blog before. While they aren’t completely “clean” they pack in a lot of goodness for the little ones, and they taste great!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.12.40 AM

IMG_4955

IMG_4969

Next are these yummy, healthy oatmeal cups!!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.12.53 AM

IMG_4925

IMG_4931

And finally, egg cups! I love these because they are SO versatile!!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.13.27 AM

IMG_4917

IMG_4948

What I love about the last 2 is that they can so easily be modified to fit your tastes! You can change up the fruit in the blueberry oat cups that you put on top, or even use raisins or chocolate chips to make them a little sweeter! And the egg cups can be modified SO many ways – just use whatever veggies you like best, or whatever you already have on hand!

These recipes originally came from here, here, and here.

30

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. Not that I expected anything over the top in terms of celebration, but I must say the day was a pretty big let-down. I spent my birthday sick in bed! Boo! Thankfully, my loving husband did give me the gift of rest that I so desperately needed while he took on the task of caring for 2 toddlers who also weren’t feeling well (while Bryan wasn’t even feeling well either!) Basically, it was a sad day all around. But alas, it happened, and I feel the need (now that I’m healthy and thinking clearly again) to think about entering my 30’s and what that means for me, as well as look back a bit and see where I’ve been and what brought me to this place I’m in now.

This picture is from last year, right around my 29th birthday.IMG_0120

This picture is from this year, pretty close to my 30th birthday.
_X3A8508Web

I don’t think I ever could have imagined my life now, as I turn 30. I don’t think I ever could have imagined that I would have 2 beautiful children, pretty close in age, a boy and a girl. I couldn’t have imagined that we would have left Young Life and moved to the suburbs while Bryan works in the city. I would NEVER have dreamed that I would be in the best shape of my life. And who could have foreseen the fact that I am a health and fitness coach?!

But here we are! And I am so incredibly thankful. Even as I type all of those things, I realize it still feels so fresh, so new, so scary and exciting. Being a mom – yikes. How am I qualified to care for these two tiny humans? Living here, near family for the first time since college, finding our place in church and the community – it is exciting and new and uncertain. My health and my job as a coach is an ever-evolving transformation that fascinates me and terrifies me at the same time!

I think, though, when looking at the big picture, and when looking into my heart and soul as I process these changes, I realize that every one of these experiences has been a lesson in faith. A lesson in giving control over to the Lord, and in trusting him to use my life for his glory. My old thoughts believed that I was too selfish to be a wife and mom, too shy to be a part of community, too afraid of failure to take control of my health, and not confident enough to be a coach. But look at the ways the Lord is able to transform! In my weakness, he is strong, and in my unbelief, he creates faith. Even though I placed my faith in Jesus long ago, I feel like in this past year, I have truly become a new creation.

The past year has looked nothing like the rest of my life – I have grown and changed in physical, mental, and spiritual ways that I never could have dreamed of before. Thanks be to God! From the looks of it, my 30s may just end up being the best years of my life so far!!!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the¬†new¬†creation¬†has come: The old has gone, the¬†new¬†is here! ¬†–¬†2 Corinthians 5:17

3 Day Refresh – Results and Thoughts!

This week I did something called the 3 Day Refresh. This is a Beachbody program designed to kick-start healthy habits and/or break bad habits, and get a fresh start without starving yourself or depriving yourself of proper nutrients. For me, it came at a necessary time because I have been “off” for about 2 or 3 weeks and was in desperate need of a kick in the booty to get back on track with the healthy lifestyle I’ve worked so hard to maintain for the past almost 10 months. So I wanted to share my results, my thoughts, and my recommendations for anyone who would like to learn more about the 3 Day Refresh!

First Рthis is not a crash diet. If you are looking to drop a few pounds fast, this is certainly a way to do that, but if you do not plan on continuing with a healthy, clean diet after the refresh, I would assume you will quickly gain your weight back. Overall good nutrition is VITAL to maintaining a healthy weight and body for the long-term, so I would recommend using this program as a kick-start into a healthy lifestyle rather than a quick weight loss tool.

Second – the refresh cuts out meat, dairy, and carbs and focuses on a diet of fruits, veggies, fiber, and protein shakes to ensure proper nourishment to your body during the 3 days. It is also designed so that you will not feel starved. There were times throughout my 3 days that I did feel hungry, but usually it came at a time when I could have a snack or some tea or was in need of more water. Those things typically satisfied the hunger I felt. I did cheat on my last night and have a handful of cashews ūüėČ

So one of the best parts of this program is that it isn’t an all-liquid cleanse. You eat real fruits and veggies throughout the day. I wanted to share some of the food I enjoyed while doing the program:

IMG_4709

Vanilla Fresh Shake with Grapes with lunch

IMG_4679

Afternoon snack of broccoli sautéed in olive oil

IMG_4669

Carrots, hummus, and vanilla fresh shake blended with fruit for lunch

IMG_4667

I enjoyed some decaffeinated green tea sweetened with stevia throughout each day

IMG_4683

Delicious cucumber and tomato salad (recipe included in my 3 Day Refresh guide)

IMG_4713

Steamed green beans with a teeny pinch of salt and avocado

So you can see, I wasn’t totally deprived of food for 3 days. I did get tired of washing my blender multiple times a day, though ūüėČ

On to results! I lost 4.6 pounds during the 3 Day Refresh. My stomach flattened and I lost some bloating overall in my body, specifically in my tummy and face. Let me be clear again – I was NOT doing this as a crash diet to quickly drop weight. I knew that I had lost track of my self-discipline in terms of my personal health and fitness, and I needed a reminder of all that I’d learned over the past several months and a kick-start back into healthy, clean living. I had gained back some weight that I had worked hard to lose, and wanted to get myself back on track!

I was reminded of a few major ways that my self-discipline had been slacking. First, hydration. With this program everything was planned out for me, to a T, and so I was much more aware of the amount of water I was drinking. During these 3 days, I drank a LOT of water – and felt SO much better for it!! It reminded me that I need to be very intentional each day about my water intake and being sure I stay properly hydrated!

The other thing was simply in my overall self-discipline with snacking and eating out. I’ve found myself grabbing foods that are left on my kids’ plates that they didn’t eat, or feeling hungry and instantly going to the fridge or pantry and picking out whatever sounded good. Granted, we don’t keep much “junk food” in the house so I was typically still eating healthy-ish food, but I was getting my portions all out of whack. And then eating out – this has been a bad one lately! I’ve just been tired of cooking and have been very quick to suggest we just go grab some food out, which has had an impact on both our money¬†and our bodies. Eating out typically provides much larger portions, first of all, and also more ingredients than I need/want. And its expensive!!!

So, all in all, the 3 Day Refresh was a good experience! I was a little grumpy during the 3 days and was definitely craving meat, but I am very pleased with the results and happy to feel back on track and in a much better place nutritionally! Here’s to fresh starts and healthy habits to lead into the holiday season!!

IMG_4727

If you’re interested in trying the 3 Day Refresh, leave me a comment or send me an email at elder.meredith@gmail.com and I’d love to talk to you about it!

Reality vs. Internet Reality

piclab-2

I’m struggling a little bit today. And the truth is, I struggle a little bit (or a lot-bit) every day, in some way. And then I am faced with this other struggle – the struggle of what I portray on social media. I’ve worried since day 1 of starting my Facebook page that I wouldn’t portray reality. I wanted to be transparent and real, but I also wanted to put forward ideas¬†and images that would encourage, inspire, and add value to people’s lives. I wanted people to see what I was doing to try to live a healthy life – my workouts, my meals, my sketches, etc. I’ve tried to include posts about failures and struggles as well, but I don’t know if those always come through.

I was at a women’s event at church with some friends and it included dinner and dessert. As I began on my delicious caramel cake, my friend leaned over and said how it was nice to see that I post about workouts and healthy living, but I also indulge every now and then too. I was so grateful she said that because it caused me to think for a second about what I put out there for the world to see, and what I don’t.

The thing is, if I don’t post a picture of my caramel cake or my glass of wine or my cookie, its truly and honestly NOT because I am trying to be sneaky or hide it. It is NOT because I want to portray perfection when in reality I am not perfect. It is more because I honestly don’t think about it. I look at¬†my new healthy recipe I just cooked or the tough workout I just pushed through, and automatically think I should post it because maybe¬†it will encourage someone else. I don’t usually get that thought when I’m eating junk food or not exercising.

So, then, I’m faced with the struggle of how I’m portraying myself. And as I ponder that¬†today I guess I just have to realize that no matter what or how hard I try, I can¬†not post every second of every day on social media. And because of that, anyone who knows me on social media will only get a fraction of my reality. It’s not less real, it’s just not my whole reality.

So I guess I just wanted to put in writing a bit more of my heart and my reality, so that maybe, if someone sees this, they will get a better glimpse into who I really am than just by seeing my posts on Facebook. I am not a nutritionist or an exercise expert. I learned what I know about nutrition and portion control from 21 Day Fix and I have learned how to maintain that healthy mindset into my every day life. I eat mostly clean, and mostly healthy, and I workout most days. Not every day. Not every meal. My heart for my Facebook page is to offer encouragement, ideas, inspiration, and help to anyone who will benefit from it. I hope to come across as my true self Рsomeone who cares deeply for other people and who struggles daily, just like everyone else.

I am learning so much about myself lately and it seems that at the end of every day, I come to the conclusion that I am a deeply flawed person in desperate need of Jesus. I am doing the best I can to take care of myself and my family, while sharing my heart with others, but it is not, and will never be, perfect. So I hope you can understand that and be encouraged by it.

Comfort Zones

You know what? One of the biggest changes I’ve seen over the past few months (I know, there have been a lot of changes… I feel like I’m constantly blogging about this!) has been my willingness to get outside my comfort zone!

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.28.54 AM

To be honest, my comfort zone is rather small, so it doesn’t take too much to force myself out of it. I like my routine, I like my family, I like my house – I’m introverted and a homebody and a teeny bit shy, so yeah, small comfort zone ūüėČ But since becoming a coach and changing my life and health, I have found myself more and more willing to get outside that small comfort zone and get out into the world a bit more!

Why? I think because I’ve developed a passion that I want to share with others! Even though it’s been scary at times to put myself out there, I’ve found that this experience that I’ve had is too great to keep to myself, and if I can change my life through making my health a priority, other people can too!

It started simply with me saying “yes” to becoming a coach. But I really began seeing this newfound bravery blossom when I went to Summit in Nashville, without anyone I knew, by myself, and had the best time! I was there with other like-minded people, passionate about helping others change their lives through health and fitness. I was learning from people who knew a lot more than I did, and I was sitting there thinking, “I can do this!” It felt amazing, and I was so glad that I pushed myself to go even though it was scary.

IMG_1921

I’ve continued to push myself since then and the latest big picture of going outside my comfort zone was this past weekend. I went to a local gym where I was trained by a Beachbody Live Master Trainer to teach CIZE¬†Live! I fell in love with CIZE the second it came out (and when I got to CIZE it up with ShaunT himself at Summit!) Now I am able to share this program with other people.¬†I can teach them how to dance, to move their bodies, to put themselves first for 50 minutes and just let go! I can’t wait to teach this program, but I am also terrified! Because it is scary, I know it will be worth it!

IMG_4250

IMG_4254

Me with master trainer Mama G after a long day of dancing!

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 7.42.41 PM

A Year of Change

I’ve been so enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately! Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year – the cool weather, the colors, the anticipation of the holiday season, the return of routine following summer (yes, I enjoy routine and predictability!) – it really is, in my opinion, the best season ūüėČ The fact that both my anniversary and my daughter’s birthday fall in September make it even better, and have caused me more than ever to pause and reflect on all the changes that have happened in my life since this time last year.

Last September, I was a new mommy of 2 with big transition¬†ahead. We had decided at that point to leave young life staff with no plans for where to go from there. I was tired, lonely, incredibly in love with my family but terrified of the uncertainty of what was ahead for us. I was also angry at the scale because week after week after having Neely, the numbers weren’t dropping as quickly as I would have liked, and I didn’t really know how to change that.

015

22

I was feeling uncertain about myself (and had been for a long time, even without realizing it) and was wondering where I belonged, what was my place, what role did I fit perfectly into? You know, the familiar “What is my purpose? Why am I here?” question that I think we all ask at some time or another. For the first time, the road ahead was unclear, and it was scary. All we knew was where we had been and that it felt right to move forward… wherever that would lead.

IMG_5574

IMG_6789

Fast forward to January and things were starting to fall into place. We had moved into a new house, Bryan had started his new job, and we were getting to know Neely a bit better.¬†One thing that still wasn’t changing was my body, and as much as I had accepted the fact that I was still dealing with a postpartum body, it was frustrating to me to stand at my closet and try on clothes that had fit me at one point in my life, but no longer zipped or buttoned. I think for any woman, to feel like you don’t recognize your own body is a scary place to be in. But to combine that with the new surroundings and new life we were beginning, I didn’t really recognize much of anything anymore! I needed help, and thank goodness, a friend reached out to me about joining her health and fitness challenge group. I had no idea what that even was, but because I loved my friend and I needed something to do, I said yes.

Within days I was changing, both inside and out. As I fueled my body with the proper nutrition, I felt strong and healthy in a way I had never experienced before. I struggled through the workouts every day, but hey, I was working out every day and that felt amazing. I was committed to 30 days, which terrified me, because what if I failed? What if I didn’t see any results? What if I couldn’t finish? But the community that surrounded me in that group helped me see that I would NOT fail. Even if I messed up this day or that day, that wasn’t the end. I could, and would, keep going.

IMG_8193

My mind and heart were being transformed alongside my body. I began to believe in myself. I began to think much more positively. I got more brave – I wasn’t afraid to share a “sweaty selfie” in our group because when I did, people celebrated with me! I was being lifted up, supported, encouraged. I had people who believed in me, so I believed in myself. What a beautiful thing community is for a lonely, insecure, unsure young mom. I will be forever grateful.

As these transformations continued it brings me to today. I have lost over 25 pounds and gone from a size 10 to a size 4. I am more toned and more in shape than I ever have been, even in high school. But the real victories are in the inner transformations. A goal of mine when I started my weight loss was to feel like myself again. Well, I don’t feel like myself “again,” I feel more like me and more alive than I ever have before in my life! I feel like the BEST version of ME that has ever lived and I believe with my whole heart that this is only the beginning.

If you are in need of a community like the one I described above, I would LOVE for you to join me in my next challenge group where we can love and support YOU as you transform your life inside and out!

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 1.59.29 PM

The Secret Behind Before and After Pictures

Have you ever finished a killer workout and, feeling super good about the effort you just put in, run to the mirror and flexed, expecting to see drastic changes suddenly appear? Or am I the only one… ha! I really have honestly done that.

IMG_3108

I think what has happened to me in the past is that I’ve expected instant results. And who can blame me, really? We live in such a world of instant gratification. We come to expect that. We forget that real transformation takes TIME.

So that brings me to the subject of before and after pictures. We see them a good bit, and you’ve seen mine frequently on this blog and my Facebook page. I believe in before and after pictures;¬†I value mine because it is so amazing to see a visual representation of your hard work, sacrifice, and overall transformation. You can usually always see just as much transformation in a person’s face, their eyes, when looking at their before and after pictures. There is transformation happening inside and out.

But here’s the thing!!!!! We see these amazing transformation pictures, and if you’re anything like I used to be, you see these pictures and think, “wow, that’s great for them. Look how much they changed,” and then move on.¬†But what I hadn’t ever thought about (until I had these pictures for myself) was the actual TIME that happened between those two pictures. Not only the time, but the sacrifice, the effort, the drive, the sweat, the tears, the sore muscles, the positive thinking, the negative thinking… an incredible amount¬†of complexity happens between those two pictures and that is really what is worth celebrating. I’ve got some examples here of REAL people who achieved REAL results (and earned some $$$ in the process!) – but it didn’t happen over night!

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.22.25 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.21.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.20.30 PM

It’s all about mindset. It’s about the power of thinking, “I can” instead of “I can’t.” You have to battle those thoughts every single day to experience true transformation. I have found that the only way I’m able to continue on with positive thinking and motivation is by having people alongside me encouraging me every day.

If you want to have your own set of before and after pictures,¬†you CAN! Do you believe me? Do you need that support to get started and to stick with it? I’d love to help you out. ūüôā I’ve got a new 30 day challenge group starting in a few weeks and I would love for you to join me. This could be the beginning of your transformation, all you have to do is believe you can!!!

See more success stories at teambeachbody.com!