6 Things That Helped Me Survive Keto

You might remember that last June, Daniel and I started something new: a ketogenic diet. We had both been struggling with discipline regarding food, and truthfully? I didn’t even care about how unhealthy I was. I knew my choices weren’t wise; I just didn’t care. But we reached a point where we both knew that something had to change. After seeing the results from a couple of friends who went on Keto, Daniel basically pushed us into it after our Colorado trip – and I am SO GLAD he did!! It was incredibly hard, but also incredibly worth it. I lost 30 pounds in a little over 3 months. Months later, it is still surreal to say that!

I was nervous in the beginning because of how many foods we had to give up. Tortillas, pasta, chips, potatoes, sweets – how would I survive?? My sugar detox was rough, and there were a few days when we didn’t feel great as our bodies adjusted to less calories and basically no carbs. But I can confidently say that if and when I diet at any point in the future, it will always be Keto. True, we had to give up a lot of things we liked to eat, but we were also allowed to eat a lot of things you wouldn’t normally eat on another diet, like butter, fatty meats, and dairy!

Again – I won’t lie and say it was easy. But after the first week or two, we fell into a familiar, comfortable rhythm. I understood what we could eat and what we couldn’t; I learned how to meal plan and prep; I found sugar-free desserts that satisfied my sweet tooth; and I lost almost all of my unhealthy cravings and gained more self control than I thought possible.

One of the best things to come out of the experience, besides the weight loss and healthier perspective on food, was getting to share it with others! I was so thankful for the advice we received from our friends, and I was so excited to jump on that train and be that helpful person for someone else. When you start something new, it always helps to hear tips from people who have already done it, so here are a few things that made the process easier for us!

1. This website.
This was my go-to for almost all of my Keto questions. Using the macros calculator is an absolute must to get you started, and the articles about food do’s and don’ts were super helpful.

2. This macro meal planning template.
Before I found this worksheet, I had to do all the macro math by hand. As long as you know your protein/fat/carb intake, all you have to do is type it in once and the formula calculates your totals for the week, including calories! This was an absolute Godsend.

3. Finding good recipes.
I cannot explain how overwhelming it was to keep track of my macros before I found Keto-specific recipes with the macros already listed. I was putting every single ingredient from a recipe into MyFitnessPal and dividing to find out the serving size. It was EXHAUSTING. When I discovered that I could search for Keto recipes, it changed everything. There are dozens of blogs who specialize in low-carb recipes, and they include the macros and nutrition facts for each recipe!! Some of my favorites were Low Carb Yum, Low Carb Maven, Peace Love and Low Carb, All Day I Dream About Food, Kasey Trenum, Ditch the Carbs, and Ruled.me. We were also really thankful for flavored sparkling water and chocolate chip cookie dough fat bombs!

4. MyFitnessPal.
Even though I used it more in the beginning before finding the excel template and simpler recipes, this was still really helpful throughout our diet. I used it to look up foods we hadn’t already eaten, or whenever we went out to eat. I also used it to find out the macros for recipes that didn’t have the nutrition facts listed.

5. Doing it with someone.
Dieting, reading through a Bible study, exercising, praying, traveling – honestly, this tip works better for just about anything. Daniel hit his weight goal before me, which meant I had about a month of a half of doing Keto by myself. It was much easier when we were both eating the same things, because we didn’t keep stuff we couldn’t have in the house. When he quit, it was so hard to watch him eat food that I couldn’t. Especially if you’re married or have roommates, just know that it is easier to stay disciplined when they are eating what you’re eating. But even if your spouse or roommate isn’t participating, having a Keto friend to hold you accountable definitely helps.

6. Seeing the weight loss in the mirror, not just on the scale.
Seeing numbers go down is one thing. But looking in the mirror and seeing your body transforming is another. I started to see a new person with each week that went by, and that felt absolutely amazing. I had more confidence in myself than I think I’ve ever had in my whole life, and that felt even more amazing!

If you’ve been on Keto before, what is your favorite Keto-friendly recipe? Please share!

“Sprinkled With Love” Baby Shower

This baby shower actually took place last September – MAJOR blogger fail. *facepalm* But I still had to post about it, even if it’s a few months late! This party was just too cute not to share.

You guys, I have to confess something. I am OBSESSED with the donut wall trend! I absolutely love it, and I knew I had to make one for Brianna and Dillon’s baby shower, especially since they were having a girl. The best part of hosting this shower was that I didn’t do it alone – I had SEVEN co-hosts! Community is such a good thing, y’all. ♥ We had the best time *sprinkling* the Perry family and helping them get ready to welcome sweet baby Mallorie into the world!

My inspiration for this party came from two things: sprinkles and a “mom-osa” bar! It was super easy to plan around a donut theme, and nearly everything was DIY, including the donut wall itself. I got a big piece of pegboard at Lowe’s and had it cut to the size I wanted, covered it with a few coats of spray paint (only needed one can!), and stuck some pegboard hooks through the holes to hang the donuts on. So simple!

For the games, we played Baby Names A-Z and had a “create a headband” station. The Baby Names game was a race, and whoever could list off baby girl names for every letter of the alphabet the fastest won. At the headband station, guests could choose from a few pre-made baby headbands and decorate them however they wanted – beads, flowers, lace, etc.

At one point during the party, I looked over and it was all husbands making headbands! :)

Before leaving the party, guests were encouraged to grab a paper cone of donut holes to take with them! I found the cones on Amazon and got the stickers personalized from The Party Penguin shop on Etsy.

Aren’t these two so beautiful?? Congratulations again, Brianna and Dillon! ♥

 If you need help planning a party on a budget, picking a theme, or figuring out a menu or decorating scheme…let me know! I’d love to schedule a consultation (a fancy word for “let’s get ice cream and chat”). Have a lovely week!

2018 Goals + My Word for the Year

One year ago today, I started something new! Instead of creating resolutions that would be too easily forgotten or too quickly broken (like giving up fast food or working out every day – uhhhh yeah right), I made a list of a few specific, measurable, realistic goals for the year. A list that I could come back to now, a year later, to see how I grew in 2017.

I don’t know about you, but 2017 was a roller coaster for us. We experienced some really high highs and some really low lows. But when I took time to reflect on 2017 through my 20 Questions post, I remembered how many good things took place and how faithful God was to us. When the ball dropped and we toasted at midnight on January 1st, I took a deep breath and let it out, feeling both relief and resolve, thankful to leave 2017 in the past and step forward into a new year. I knew I had to continue this tradition from last year, and just like last year, my hope is that at the end of 2018, I will see obvious growth and progress from where I am now.

What I did last year:

  • Almost every night (as often as I could), I wrote down something that made me happy that day. This was surprisingly therapeutic and a great way to remind my heart that at least one good thing happened each day. I’m thankful to be able to go back and read about seemingly-small-but-still-significant things that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down. I don’t remember how I came up with this idea, but I’m so glad I did, and I want to continue it in 2018.

  • I took a week-long vacation with Daniel to celebrate and refresh our marriage. ♥
    We went on a wonderful Alaskan cruise, during which we visited Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria! Yay for good views, good food, and good company.

  • I (semi)permanently integrated healthier eating and exercise into my lifestyle. Doing Keto was honestly life-changing. I had no idea I could exercise that much self control for that long. We are actually doing it again for a month or two, right now!

  • I learned something new on purpose. Although it wasn’t hand lettering or a different language, like I had planned. :) I learned how to have self control with food. I learned how to lead a group of newly-married couples and become a family. I learned how to sing the lyrics to that Shane & Shane song – “Though You slay me, yet I will praise You” – and mean it.

  • We had intentional date nights at least once a month. Lots of yummy food, a murder mystery dinner party, David Copperfield, and binge-watching TV shows. Originally, my goal was date nights that WEREN’T dinner and a movie, but hey – we love dinner, and we love movies! Why mess with what works?? (Here’s the full list of our dates, by month.)

  • I began to view food as a gift to enjoy with wisdom, not as an indulgence I deserve. 
    Again – Keto was life-changing. I’ll be forever thankful that God helped me do it successfully, and that it’s something we can easily revisit and incorporate into our lives when we need a boost.

As far as the other two goals go: I didn’t cut down on screen time quite as much as I should have, but I did nurture new relationships and finished multiple books! And although I didn’t earn $1500+ every month from MONAT, I did earn enough in bonuses in one month to pay for our Alaska anniversary photo shoot, including a plane ticket for our photographer; I more than doubled my number of team members; and I earned a free trip to Vegas with Daniel in October. I still consider that a win. ♥

• 2018 •

Each night (or as often as I can), write down something that made me happy that day.

Read through the whole Bible chronologically.

Send 12 random surprise gifts to family, friends, or coworkers. ✓
1. Took ice cream to Daniel at work.
2. Surprised my coworker Sarah with a birthday cupcake.
3. Left a “welcome home” basket for the Wesberrys when Laeklyn was born.
4. Mailed Robyn a bride-to-be package.
5. Sent Eliya a date night gift card when Corey came home from Afghanistan.
6. Gave Jen & Stacey a date night gift card for their anniversary.
7. Delivered coffee to Sheridan at her office.
8. Made a snack basket and left it on Daniel’s desk to celebrate Friday.
9. Participated in an Instagram gift swap for Christmas.
10. Sent some cute druzy earrings to a secret sister via Facebook.
11. Surprised my boss with a group Christmas gift.
12. Gave my coworkers cute little DIY stovetop potpourri jars.

Create new blog/social media content more consistently. ✓

Go on a group vacation with good friends. ✓
Easily one of my favorite things we’ve done this year. We made such great memories on our Caribbean cruise with Brandon and Ashley and the Rains family!

Have at least one TV-free day per week, and one social media-free day per month.

Become a MONAT Mentor by the end of the year.

Take a trip to visit my brother at his new place in Florida. 
Our 2nd annual Simma family vacay in June was so much fun – we explored St. Augustine, soaked up the sun at the beach, and even visited Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World!

Plan a few out-of-the-ordinary date nights – new things we’ve never done before. ✓
1. For our 6th anniversary, we went to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and ate one of the best meals either of us has ever had.

Walk more: with Daniel, with Fitz, in the park, on a beach… ;) 
We walked allllll over Disney World until our feet about fell off! And we started trying to take Fitz on walks again, even though he is frustratingly strong.

Last year, I also picked a word to be my theme for 2017 – Hope. The anchor of souls, assurance despite repeated disappointment, and the companion of trust. It couldn’t have been a more perfect choice. As the end of December drew near, I started thinking about a word to define 2018. Everything I came up with seemed cheesy or didn’t quite fit, until one particular word starting showing up everywhere.

Courage. AKA, Something I suck at.

When I googled “courage” to find a photo for this post, I came across this quote from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, and my heart swelled with encouragement:

“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, ‘Courage, dear heart,’ and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s.”

I believe with all my heart that God Himself gave me the word “courage” for 2018, just as He gave me “hope” for 2017. I felt Him nudging this word closer to me for about a week, and although I tried to ignore it and pick another word for awhile, I have finally accepted it as a gift from Him. Although hope was my word for last year, I still spent too much time living in a state of fear. I refuse to let my life be dictated by “what if’s” anymore. ♥

What is one of your goals for this year? Tell me in the comments!