Monday, September 10, 2012

It's Official!

It took a little bit longer than I intended, but my new blog is officially up and running. I will not be moving my archives from Naturally Chic Mama over to the new space, but I will be leaving this blog as-is, so if you have bookmarked any of my previous posts, you will still find them here, although comments will be closed.

So without further adieu, I invite you to join me over at my new home on the internet...


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Almost Ready...

Hey friends! Thanks for not giving up on me yet. I promise that I am almost finished with the new blog. I have been working hard on learning Wordpress and playing around with the theme design to give the new space the right look and feel. I am a very visual person, so the blog aesthetic is very important to me.

This time away has been good for me in a lot of ways. I have been reading a lot of great books by writers I admire, and I have been writing just for the sake of writing and finding my voice.

It is very freeing to simply just write for the sake of writing and it has helped me process through a lot of things. I had originally envisioned the new blog with one specific purpose and theme. But through writing and deleting and reshaping and deconstructing and starting all over again, the idea and theme of the new space has grown into something more original and true to who I am.

I plan to publish my first post on Monday, September 10, and will also publish a post here at Naturally Chic Mama directing you over to the new site. This will give me another week of planning and preparation, plus I have my annual ladies retreat at my church September 7-9 that I am in charge of, so I am going to be busy, busy, busy this week with all of the last minute details.

I am excited about the week of September 10! After the retreat, I am passing on the torch of our Women's Ministry over to our new pastor's wife. I am turning 32 on the 13th. I might cut my hair off...still thinking about that one. I am entering a new season of my life and I am excited to share my journey with you.

Always,

Amanda


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Time for change...


I have been blogging here at Naturally Chic Mama for over two years now. When I started this blog, I was entirely new to the world of blogging – both in reading blogs and having one of my own. This blog has been a journey of self-discovery in many ways. I’m a born people-pleaser and have always gone with the majority on most matters in life.  I have never been one to speak my mind or offer an opinion, so this blog has been a place where I have felt safe to explore my passions and express my uniqueness. At 31, I have finally started to grow comfortable in my own skin, and feel like I have a good understanding of who I am as a person.

As a blogger, I have struggled to find my niche.  If you look back through my archives, you can see my blog content often changing from Natural Parenting to Green Living to Homeschooling to Decorating to Crafts and DIY’s to Faith and then back again. I have a Type A personality and I love categories and nicely organized compartments, and have tried very hard to figure out into which one I best fit. In doing so, I have learned a lot about my strengths and my weaknesses, my likes and my dislikes.

I have learned that I am not a photographer. I have finally accepted the fact that I will never have a beautiful lifestyle blog on Typepad. Other than taking pictures of the little things in life with my iPhone, photography stresses me out. I do not enjoy posting DIY’s, recipes, etc. because those involve a lot of step-by-step photography and I do not have the patience. Although I am homeschooling, I do not enjoy blogging about the details of homeschooling life because I can barely plan out our own weekly learning experiences much less resource everyone else with great printables.  (I hate printables anyway.) And although I try to live green and natural, I am not original in this and most of the things I do can be found on other natural living blogs, so I do not feel the need to reinvent the wheel.

So that leaves me with words. One thing I have learned through all of this is that I love to write. I have always loved reading and fell in love with writing in college, but other than journaling and a few short stories, I never really considered myself a writer. But as I have been blogging, I have discovered that writing is my favorite part of the blogging experience. I love to process my thoughts and organize my ideas. I love to sit in bed at night with the computer on my lap as I tap away at the keys.

Jeff Goins says that Step 1 of “Mastering the Habits of Great Writers” is to declare yourself a writer. So that is what I am doing here today.

I am a writer.

And I am excited to announce that I am currently in the process of moving this blog over to a self-hosted Wordpress site. My blog will have a new name, because although I love the name Naturally Chic Mama, I sometimes feel trapped by it, as though I only need to blog about Natural Living and Natural Parenting. Those are both very much a part of who I am, but just a part. What is true of the whole of who I am is a passion for intentional living in all areas of life, so that will be the common thread woven throughout my new blog.  I have many ideas for posts and series scratched into my notebook, as well as some other big dreams that I will share with you someday soon.

So this site will be quiet for a week or two while I work on getting the new blog ready for you. In the meantime, I have went ahead and changed my Facebook page from “Naturally Chic Mama” to “Amanda Medlin”, and changed my Twitter name from @NaturallyChic_ to @AmandaMedlin_. (Hopefully someday Twitter will release the unused account @AmandaMedlin, but until then, I will live with the underscore.)
If you are a subscriber to Naturally Chic Mama, your subscription should transfer over. (Fingers crossed!) If you have my site bookmarked, I will give you the new web address soon, so that you can bookmark it. If you keep up with my posts on Facebook or Twitter, you won’t have any problems because you will simply be clicking on the links I provide.

I will let you know when the new site is ready, and invite you over to check it out. I am very excited to embark on the next chapter of this journey and I hope that you will stay along for the ride.

Always, 

Amanda




Friday, August 3, 2012

My Favorite Fitness Apps and DVD's

I have never enjoyed working out in a gym or public fitness facility. I don't even like the workout room at the Holiday Inn. I get overwhelmed by all of the gym equipment and intimidated by the people who seem to know what they are doing. It's just never been my thing.

I have always been more of a "workout at home to a DVD" kind of a girl. (Or VHS in my teens!) It's cheap, convenient, and no one is watching me wimp out on some of the moves. Recently, I have ditched most of the DVD's for some really awesome fitness apps that I have discovered.

So if you are like me, and the gym is not your thing, here are some of my favorite fitness apps and DVD's that I think you should check out.

Fitness Apps (iPhone)


Running: 

Run 5K ($2.99) - I used this app last fall when I was training for my 5K. You train 3 days a week, and it takes you from alternating 45 second jogs/90 second walks to running a full 30 minutes at the end of 8 weeks. You can listen to your own music, and a voice will prompt you when to walk or run.

10K Runner ($3.99) -  I am currently using this app. It is very similar to the app above. You also train 3 days a week, but this one takes you from alternating 60 second jogs/90 second walks to running a full 60 minutes at the end of 14 weeks. You can also listen to your own music, and a voice will prompt you when to walk or run.

Weights/Toning:

Nike Training Club (Free) - I am in love with this app! It is designed especially for women, but be prepared to sweat! It offers over 85 custom workouts for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced for 30 or 45 minute sessions. These workouts were designed by celebrity trainers and professional athletes. You only need a set of free weights and some open floor space. They also use a medicine ball, but I just hold one of my free weights instead. You can listen to your own music, and a voice coaches you through the workout. You can even preview the entire workout beforehand, and watch demo videos of the exercises. I can't say enough good things about this app, and it's FREE!

Yoga:

All-in Yoga ($.99) - This is a great and challenging yoga app. It has dozens of pre-designed yoga routines from 12 minutes to 90 minutes or you can create your own. Much like the Nike app, you can listen to your own music and watch video demos beforehand. There is also a voice that prompts you through all of the exercises. I have found yoga to be a great addition to my regular workout routines, especially now that I am running. I am stronger, more balanced, and much more flexible.

Music:

Pandora (Free) - I love Pandora Radio! They have an excellent yoga station that I use when I do yoga. It is so relaxing and tranquil. For running and cardio, I enjoy indie rock. My favorite stations are Ratatat, Vampire Weekend, The Go! Team, and Gungor.

I also love to listen to Lecrae, who is an awesome Christian rapper with very deep and challenging lyrics. If I am in the mood for something a little calmer and meditative, I really love A New Liturgy by Aaron Niequist. Each session is a 25 minute journey with songs, scriptures, prayers, and readings. My favorite is No.2 "Blessed to be a Blessing". If you see my swiping tears off my face while I am running, you'll know that that's  what I am listening to.

DVD's


Cardio/Toning:

Power 90 - Before I discovered the Nike Training Club app, Power 90 was always my go-to DVD when I was ready to get in shape. It was designed by Tony Horton, the man behind P90X, and it is great for cardio and toning. His exercises are pretty classic with lunges and squats for legs, and using free weights for arms. He even throws in a little bit of yoga. Overall, it is a great and challenging workout.

Slim in 6 - Before I bought Power 90, I always used Slim in 6. It is similar to Power 90, but they use resistance bands. This workout is both a cardio and a toning workout.

Jillian Michaels - I haven't personally used her DVD's, but my sister highly recommends them. Jillian (from Biggest Loser) is tough and she really pushes you. And that's what it takes to reshape your body. You have to push yourself.

Yoga:

Yogalosophy - This workout was designed by Mandy Ingber, trainer to Jennifer Aniston. It is a great mix of yoga and toning exercises. It is really challenging and you will feel it in your muscles the next day. She is a little bit annoying, but there is an option to turn off her talking and just listen to the music. 

Rodney Yee - Once again, I haven't personally used this DVD, but my sister is a big fan. He is very thorough in instructions which is helpful when learning how to hold correct yoga poses. 



So those are my favorite fitness apps and DVD's. I'd love to hear some of your favorites!

Always, 

Amanda


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tips for Starting Your Own Weight Loss Journey

I received a lot of feedback on Facebook about yesterday's post regarding my weight loss journey, and a few people asked me for advice on how to start their own weight loss journey. So many things came to mind, that I felt it would be best shared in a post here on the blog.

So here are my tips...

Stop putting it off. There is never going to be a convenient time to start. There are always going to be vacations, family gatherings, holidays, birthday parties, anniversaries, and date nights. You have to stop seeing all of those things as reasons to postpone the changes you want to make, because they are never going to stop popping up on the calendar. The world is not going to stop so you can go on a diet. You just have to make up your mind and start!




Push through the first two weeks! In those first two weeks, you will still feel "fat" and your body will still be craving junk and caffeine. It's early in the game, so it is easier to talk yourself into quitting, and starting again another day. Don't do it! After about two weeks, your clothes will fit better, your body will feel stronger, and you will look and feel better overall. Push through!





Jump start your weight loss with a juice fast. When I began my weight loss journey, I started with the 10 Day Master Cleanse. It is pretty hard core, but it is great for cleansing your system, jump starting your weight loss, and sealing the deal that this weight loss thing has really begun. I know that once I have put all of the work and sacrifice into a juice fast, I am less likely to do the whole "I'll just splurge today, and start strict again on Monday" thing. If 10 days is a little much for you, try a 3-day juice fast.





Set goals other than weight loss. If your only goal is to see lower numbers on the scale or to fit into your skinny jeans, then as soon as you reach your goal, it is likely you will revert back to your old ways and start putting your weight back on. For example, I really want to run a marathon in 2013. So even though I am only about 15lbs away from my goal weight, I am going to continue running and training. I also want to fuel my body with clean, less toxic foods for health and wellness, so that will be a continuous motivation to me after I reach my weight loss goals.



Change the way you think about food. You have to start seeing food as fuel for your body. If you put junk into your body, you are going to look and feel like junk. You have to put good food into your body to nourish it and make it healthy and strong. Many fad diets are made up of low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, sugar-free processed foods. It's still junk! To truly transform your body, you need to start eating real food. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and if you choose, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Stop worrying about quantity (reducing fat, calories, carbs, and sugars), and start thinking about quality. I am personally eating raw/vegan. If you don't want to give up meat, the Paleo style of eating is another whole foods based approach that is very popular. My friend Faith has a great summary of Paleo over on her blog. Also, Vintage Remedies has a free e-book called 8 Weeks to Real Food. Of course, if you want to see real transformation, I wouldn't recommend stretching your changes out over 8 weeks, but the Vintage Remedies plan is very educational on what it means to eat real food. There are also some educational food documentaries on Netflix: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Engine 2 Diet, Food Inc. are all great to watch.




Get moving! If you really want to change your body, you have to exercise. You need to do both cardio and toning. Toning to firm and shape your muscles, and cardio to burn the layer of fat covering those muscles up. I recommend you do cardio at least 30 minutes a day, 3-6 days a week. Things that  can count as cardio are walking, running, biking, aerobics, Zumba, etc. Something that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. You also need to do toning exercises about 30 minutes a day, 3-6 days a week. You just don't want to exhaust the same muscle groups two days in a row. So if you do pretty intense training, you will want to alternate upper body and lower body workouts. 

As a mom of young kids, it can be really hard to find the time to work out. I find it much easier to workout at home that trying to drive to a gym everyday. I personally get up before my kids and husband are awake to go running around my neighborhood Monday - Friday. Then I do circuit training that works my entire body on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons while the kids are playing or watching a show on Netflix. And I do pretty intense yoga on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday nights after the kids go to bed. Tomorrow I will share my favorite fitness apps and DVD's for working out at home.



Don't be too hard on yourself! If you haven't worked out for a while, you aren't going to be able to run 3 miles, do 50 lunges, and hold crazy yoga poses that first week. I started walking the neighborhood a few times a week, and doing light yoga. I kept adding and increasing to get where I am now, and I will continue to push and challenge myself to get to where I want to be. I still struggle with things like push ups, mountain climbers, burpees, and froggers, but I am doing them a lot better than I was 2 weeks ago. Also, don't get too caught up wanting to weigh what your friend weighs or trying to be the perfect Hollywood size 0/2. We all have different body types and if you have had children, your body is going to be different than it was when you were in high school. Just strive to be a leaner, stronger, and healthier you!

Source: get-thinspiration.tumblr.com via Chrystal on Pinterest


So there you have it. No gimmick's, no fad's. Just simply make up your mind to start, and start living like a healthy, active person and soon your body will catch up. 

Good luck!

Always, 

Amanda


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Progress...

Once upon a time, I was a lean and fit mama. When Jack was about 6 months old, I entered a weight loss competition with some people at church, and I actually won. I lost all of my baby weight and got into really good shape. When he was about 14 months old, I took my fitness to the next level and started running regularly and got into the best shape of my life. Here is a picture of me and little Jack at youth camp in 2009. I was in a size 6/8 at the time.


I found out I was pregnant with Aidan about a week after that picture was taken. And as usual, I gained a ton of weight during my pregnancy. After Aidan was born, I went back to my normal (not working out, not eating right) size 12. When Aidan was 5 months old, my dad passed away. Coping with my dad's death was really difficult for me, especially having a new baby and a two year old. Plus, I took over Women's Ministries and the Church Nursery around the same time. Needless to say, I wasn't focused on eating right and exercising. Instead, the stress and grief were causing me to turn to food, and so I put on more weight. 

I reached my highest non-pregnancy weight last summer. Here is a picture of me visiting the cemetery on the one year anniversary of my dad's death. I was a size 14/16, and absolutely miserable with the way I felt and looked.


Last fall, I started running again and actually ran a 5K on Thanksgiving day. I didn't really change much about the way I ate, so I only lost about 10-15lbs, and then put a few of those back on during the holidays hovering between a size 12 and 14.


About 8 weeks ago, I finally got myself in gear. I started with the the 10-Day Master Cleanse, and have been eating raw/vegan ever since. I began working out gradually and I am now running 5 days a week, doing circuit training 3 days a week, and yoga 3 days a week. I have lost about 25lbs so far, and am currently in a size 10. 


I would still like to lose about 10-15 more pounds to get back into the size 6/8 that I was in 2009. And beyond weight loss goals, I have my sights on some pretty big fitness goals. I really want to run a marathon in 2013, as well as increase my abilities and endurance in both circuit training and yoga. 

I am so grateful to my sister Jenny, who has been such a source of encouragement and inspiration to me throughout this process. I would still be where I was last July, if she hadn't given me the push I needed. And I am so proud of my husband as he has started his own journey and has become an inspiration to me as well.

It's kind of embarrassing to put my "before" pictures up here for everyone to see, and be open about my struggles with weight. But I find a lot more encouragement in seeing real people transform their bodies, than I do from any magazine or celebrity. So I am sharing my journey with you in hopes that I might be a source of inspiration and encouragement to other moms out there who are unhappy with the way they look and feel. I remember being so miserable at my 31st birthday last year, because I was so very unhappy with myself. Now I am looking forward to my upcoming 32nd birthday, because age is just a number. What matters is how young you feel, and these days I feel like I'm in my early 20's!


Always, 

Amanda

Monday, July 30, 2012

Some Raw/Vegan FAQ's

I promise this isn't turning into a food blog, but I have received a lot of questions from people who aren't familiar with this way of eating, so for those of you less interested, bear with me. I have some other fun posts ahead. :)

Is organic meat/dairy safe?

I am no nutritionist or medical expert, so I can only direct you to things I have read that have helped me make decisions for myself and my family.

I personally am choosing not to consume any meat or dairy. My boys do not drink cow's milk, but they do have cheese and yogurt in moderation. I will also allow them to eat meat once or twice a week, but not at every meal, as our American diet is so accustomed.

Here is an informative article on organic milk, and here is one on organic meat. There are so many different articles and opinions out there. I encourage you to do your own research, so that you can make an informed and educated decision for your family.

Is eating raw/vegan expensive?

Yes and no. If you get into pre-packaged raw/vegan snacks, it can be very expensive. But if you stick to the basics in the produce department, it's not that bad. For my family of 4, we average around $125 in groceries per week. That is including things like toilet paper, trash bags, etc. And that is with my husband doing a juice fast, so he goes through A LOT of fresh fruits and veggies in a week!

What exactly do you eat?

Right now, I am trying to eat almost all raw. I hope to continue this until I reach my idea body weight, which should be about 2 more months. Then I will add in more cooked foods such as quinoa and beans. Here is a typical day for me...
Breakfast: Green Smoothie with added Flax Seeds
Lunch: Zuchinni and Carrot Slices with Wholly Guacamole
Snack: Fresh Fruit and Raw Nuts
Dinner: Organic Spring Mix Salad Greens topped with Sprouted Lentils, Red Pepper, Avocado, Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Raw Cashews, and Bragg's Ginger and Sesame Dressing
Dessert: Raw Cacao Bars from the bulk health food section at my Kroger or a few bites of these amazing Raw Turtle Brownies that my sister makes!
I also drink lots of filtered water and take a vegan multi-vitamin each day. I will start sharing some of my favorite raw/vegan recipes with you soon, but in the meantime, you can check out my raw/vegan board on Pinterest for ideas.

Do you need any special appliances/kitchen prep tools?

We use a basic blender for green smoothies, and a food processor for making raw dips, desserts, and soups. A lot of people use dehydrators for making things like Kale Chips, Flax Seed Crackers, Raw Granola, and other great snacks. We hope to get one in the future, but right now we are fine without it. You will also need a good knife and cutting board.

Is it hard to eat raw/vegan when you are away from home? 

So far, I have made it through a 10-hour road trip, a week at a hotel with no kitchenette, a family reunion BBQ, a birthday party cookout, and more. It isn't always easy, but it is possible. Remember, you are in control of everything that goes into your mouth. Most places will at least offer some fresh fruit. You can always make a salad ahead of time and bring it with you. Worst case scenario, just sip water and smile.

I saw this on Pinterest the other day, and it is both funny and true!





Remembering this definitely helps me during those times of temptation!

So I hope that I answered some of your questions. Sara over at Happy Foody has a great video posted where she answers a lot of questions about eating Raw/Vegan. If this topic interests you or if you still have questions, I recommend watching it. 

Always, 

Amanda