ants in my pants & the importance of h20

What do water and ants have to do with each other? Nothing that I can think of off the top of my head, but they’re both going in this blog post!

This morning, I took my 6:15 class outside for a workout since it was daylight and a nice 60 degrees. We walked on this outdoor trail, integrating light dumbbell exercises like bicep curls, triceps extensions, and lateral raises. We did some body weight lunges and had brought mats out to do some core work. Well, little did we know there were tiny ants everywhere! The ants got on me and one of my class participants and we both received one bite each. Thankfully, it wasn’t a painful bite and neither of us are allergic, but those ants were telling us to get out of their territory! The problem is, they had taken over the entire area. The class seemed to enjoy the outdoors and the workout.

After that, I swam 15 laps. It felt so good to swim again this week and I was afraid that if I didn’t get to it today, I’d miss my chance this week. I have a busy couple of days ahead and I’m not sure it’s going to include swimming.

I also wanted to share this article that came through in my ACE personal training newsletter. I’m a big advocate of drinking water, and I firmly believe everything in this write up. I also read last week that the more water you drink, the more trips to the bathroom you’ll make which helps combat sitting too much. Turns out, sitting too much is the new bad habit that smoking used to be…I’m so happy I have great well water and can just refill my bottles. Saves money and trash, too!

Why H2O Is Your Friend

May 5, 2014

Many clients come to us in pursuit of a lean, svelte body. They usually tell us that they have lost weight in the past but one of their biggest complaints is that they were unable to sustain the loss because their hunger got in the way of keeping the pounds off. One of the first questions we ask them: “Do you ever drink a glass of water when you feel hungry?” The brain often confuses thirst for hunger, so it’s common to respond to the brain’s cue by eating and overconsuming calories when you’re actually thirsty. So, the next time you’re hungry, swig some water and those stubborn pounds may be a little easier to shed.

But helping to stave off hunger isn’t the only reason we need to drink more water. Here are some additional compelling reasons to drink up!

1. Flush Toxins and Wastes.

Water helps your kidneys by flushing harmful waste out of the body, including all of the end products of fat metabolism that are the result of body fat loss. How do you know if you’re getting enough to flush out the bad stuff? It’s easy (but not glamorous!) to make sure your properly hydrated: check the color of your urine. You want it to be clear, pale and odor-free; if it can pass for apple juice, that’s your cue to down a few glasses of water! [Mandy’s note: As gross as this sounds, it works! A couple of weeks back, I had a stomach virus and my urine was not looking good at all. I knew I had dehydration issues going on and was so happy to see it back to normal.]

2. Boost Your Energy in the Morning and All Day Long.

Your body is about 60 percent water and every process in the body requires water, including digestion, circulation, nutrient transport and body-temperature maintenance. If you don’t get enough water, the body can’t function at its peak and even little movements like getting out of bed will feel like more of a struggle.

3. Work Out Harder and Longer.

Even when you’re only slightly dehydrated (as most Americans typically are!), performance is impaired. Your training sessions suffer, you tire sooner and can’t work as hard. Water carries oxygen throughout the body and to the working muscles, so without oxygen, you better believe your workout takes a hit. Water also:
-lubricates the joints
-moistens the lungs to facilitate breathing
-helps maintain proper muscle tone

Drink 17 to 20 ounces about two hours before exercise and continue drinking 4 to 8 ounces regularly every 15 minutes during exercise.

4. Get Glowing Skin.

When you’re dehydrated, your skin looks dry and withered. Consume enough water and it helps to fill the spaces between your cells, making your skin look plump, youthful and glowing. Water also helps to keep skin from sagging after weight loss.

5. Prevent Constipation.

Water and fiber are the magical combination to flush out waste and beat the bloat! If you don’t drink enough water, your body pulls water from stools to maintain hydration. The result? Discomfort, bloating, constipation…it may also make you feel less inclined to slip into a swimsuit—or even exercise for that matter!

6. Lose Weight.

For the best success, drink plenty of water and eat an abundance of water-rich foods, which are much more satisfying than a processed-food diet that’s loaded with calories. The real weight-loss kicker is when you replace caloric beverages with water!

7. Be Happier.

Who isn’t happier when they feel satisfied and svelte, super energetic, leaner, lighter and constipation-free, have gorgeous skin and are having fabulous workouts to boot?

One last note…I actually got LOTS done this weekend on my to-do list from last week including:

  • washing newborn clothes
  • hanging up tons of wall decorations in the house
  • make sure breast pump still works
  • spot read Babywise book
  • clean up car seat (still have to assemble it)
  • sort & organize my clothes

pre-labor to do list

First of all, I had to get up at 4:30 this morning to make it to work by 5:15 and I saw something so pretty. I pulled the curtains and looked out into the darkness – behold, the lightning bugs! They were amazingly crisp and bright on the black horizon. I’m not sure if it was the big rainstorm we had yesterday or what, but it was something to see.

According to my due date, we’re T-minus 7 weeks until this second baby arrives. When you look at 7 out of 40 weeks, we are very close! It’s funny, because I’m not that anxious about labor and delivery (not looking forward to it, but not really scared); more so, I’m thinking about all the things I need to get done before kiddo gets here. I’m sure that’s a natural thought for a working mom that already has a two-year-old (right?!).

Either way, I’ve been running my to do list through my head for quite some time now and here are the main things I’ve come up with:

  • husband’s cousin’s graduation & party this weekend
  • teach lifeguard class at work next week
  • hang misc. items on the walls to finish nesting in the new house then blog with some photos
  • baby shower next Saturday
  • animal park with husband, son, & church kids in a couple weeks
  • anniversary celebration at work in a few weeks (plan & work)
  • wedding last weekend of the month (thankfully, I’m just a spectator and it’s local so no travel needed)
  • work 4th of July 5K race (probably sit and take registrations at that point!)
  • paint bookshelf in bedroom (thankfully it’s small)
  • wash newborn clothes & put away
  • make sure breast pump still works
  • pack hospital bag
  • spot read “Becoming Babywise” to familiarize myself with the eat/wake/sleep routine (it worked very well with our first child)
  • clean up & assemble infant car seat
  • sort & organize my own clothes so I will have something to wear after baby gets here (without having to dig through everything)
  • make up some freezer meals for easy dinners post baby (thanks to A Daily Dose of Fit for this great idea!)…I wish my younger sister was here to help me on this one – she’s great in the kitchen!
  • sort through papers and file/trash (stuff that’s accumulated over the past 6 months or so – yikes!)

I think that does it for the most part…Of course, there are the daily things like work and take care of our sweet little boy, but these are the main things I want to do between now and then. Ambitious, huh? Thankfully, I have a 3 day weekend starting tomorrow and my husband is off so he can help me with some of these things!

I’m feeling MUCH better and seem to have kicked this old stomach bug (I think), so maybe I will have my energy back now. I also increased my iron intake like I did during my last pregnancy just to be on the proactive side since I’ve been feeling a little tired.

So, what’s on YOUR to-do list for the next several weeks?

toddler training research

We have a one of the best two-year-old boys any parents could ask for. About 90% of the time, he obeys and follows the rules. Up until the past few months, he had been good as gold and hardly ever got into trouble. Now, we’re a few months into the twos and I’m starting to see obedience issues. I’ve decided to take action!

Last Friday night, I lost my temper when my husband, son and I went out to eat. I guess my pregnancy hormones are in full swing now, too (28 weeks along). We’d had a good day together and decided to spend the evening out and about. My son has started this thing we’re as soon as we leave the house it’s, “Home. Go back home.” We spend a lot of our time at home, so I don’t feel guilty for taking occasional family outings. Anyway, we assured him we’d be back home in a bit, but there were some things we wanted to do.

Our first stop was a rug store since we’re looking to fill in some decorating gaps in our new home. Of course, a toddler could care less about the rugs, he just wants to hide in the rugs and run from mom and dad (“Chase” as he calls it). We were only in the store about 15 minutes when my husband decided to follow him outside; that’s when my son fell down and ended up in tears. We got him all buckled in the car and almost left the one rug we did buy in all the chaos.

Second stop was the Goodwill store, where our son did pretty well. He likes riding in the “buggy” as we call it and he was pretty content for most of the time. When we went to leave, he wanted the car keys, so I gave him all but the one we needed to drive the car. He threw a terrible fit over that one key and cried like a maniac, even though I explained we couldn’t drive the car without it.

At that point, I told my husband that we didn’t need to go to the restaurant at which we’d originally planned to eat. This place was a little more expensive and more suited for adults on date night…not a toddler who wasn’t going to behave. We decided to go to something quicker, less expensive, and more kid friendly.

We ended up at our favorite Mexican restaurant where the son made a meal out of chips and cheese dip. I was happy because he was sitting still and eating. Then, he was full and we hadn’t even gotten our food yet. Of course, he didn’t think he needed to sit still since he was done with his food. So, the game began of going from one side of the table to the other. I finally told him he needed to sit still or he was going to sit in the high chair with the lap belt on. Did that deter him? No. We got the high chair and attempted to put him into it and he stiffened up straight as a board. At that point, I smashed my toe under the high chair (I was wearing flip flops) and that sent me over the edge.

I knew our son needed a diaper, so I grabbed one up and grabbed him, throwing my purse on the table and exclaiming a word I will not repeat and was so disappointed in myself for saying. On the way to the bathroom, my son saw suckers at the checkout counter and asked for one. I told him when we got into the bathroom that he needed to “behave” and he would get a sucker when we left. Then, it dawned on me…did he know what “behave” meant? I asked him and he told me “no”.  I had to explain that it meant to “obey” mom and dad and listen to what they say.

We got back to the table and our food arrived shortly thereafter. I was so ashamed of the way I acted. Thankfully, I think my husband was the only one who witnessed it – him and God. I handed our son over to my husband who had ordered french fries (one of my kiddo’s favorites) and they began eating. All I could do was sit there and hold back tears over my plate of food. I finally pulled it together and started eating, then I apologized to my husband.

In the end, it all worked out and we laughed about it going down the road. Thankfully, my husband was understanding and forgiving. I prayed hard about what I’d done and said and asked my son for forgiveness. It was so cute because he said “no” when I asked him if he forgave me. I think to a toddler, everything is “no” unless it’s “Do you want candy/Popsicles/to go outside…”

I had the privilege of teaching Sunday school this week since the regular teacher was out of town. I found myself expressing my frustration with my parenting skills and the preacher’s wife suggested I read the book “Dare to Discipline” by Dr. James Dobson. She raised 3 kids that turned out really well, now who are all in their 20’s. I remembered hearing Dr. Dobson on the radio years ago and I always respected what he had to say. Also, he’s a Christian and uses Biblical principles, not just his own opinions and ideas.


So, today I went to the library, checked out that book and three others that I found right around it. I’m ready to read and study! I’ve read a little already and have laughed out loud a few times. Here are some of the points that have stuck out to me thus far:

  • “Developing respect for parents is the critical factor in child management.” Dr. Dobson points out that this has to start at a very young age…in infancy, pretty much.
  • There’s a story he tells to help very young children understand the importance of listening to mom and dad. It’s about a mommy bird who tells her baby to stay in the nest while she’s out to get food. The baby doesn’t listen, jumps out of the nest and is gobbled up by a cat. He goes onto to point out that you need to tell your kids that you tell them to do/no do things because you love them and know what’s best for them. And, if they don’t obey, they’ll have consequences (that was one of my mom’s favorite words when we were growing up).
  • Raising your kids in a loving environment goes a long way.

There’s the funniest description of how bad toddlers can be, but our son isn’t nearly what is described in the book. Thankfully, he doesn’t refuse to take naps or go to bed at night. I really learned a lot about getting him in a routine from the book “Becoming Babywise” before he was born. I love that book and have already started referencing it again for baby #2 who is on the way.

I’m going to take notes from my reads and blog about them in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, I’m open to questions/suggestions you have about parenting toddlers!

Sunday school lesson: enjoying work

Just a few days ago, I was telling my husband how I feel like I’m actually helping people in my line of work now. For years at my other job, I felt an emptiness – like I wasn’t helping better mankind in any way. I didn’t dread going to work much, but I just didn’t feel there was much purpose. I think that if I would have been paying more attention, I would have seen that God was opening doors for me earlier than I did.

I’m currently employed as “Executive Assistant” at a local fitness facility. My job is to be the director’s right hand woman and help with whatever she needs. The position has morphed into not only helping do small things like keep our website updated, create signs/flyers about happenings in our facility, etc. into personal training, group exercise instructing, and being a lifeguard. I wear tons of different hats, but I was used to that from my old job and I really like it. I’m one of those A.D.D. type people, so I need variety.

Either way, I’m really excited about the new Sunday school books we got at church this week. The cover has a pretty picture of plants and it’s for SPRING 2014! I started reading the first lesson this morning and it’s really good. I won’t get to attend church this weekend, but I can study the lesson and still get a blessing.


Here are some of the points I picked up from my reading this morning. The scripture comes from Genesis 1:28, 2:8-9,15:

  • Work is a gift from God, not a curse
  • God created work BEFORE sin entered the world
  • He expects us to be faithful in doing our part and to let God be faithful in doing His
  • We’re not to sit around expecting blessings and to be taken care of while we’re lazy – we have a job to do
  • Without work, how would we meet the needs of our families?
  • Genesis 2: 8-9 points out:
    • God placed Adam and Eve in a specific location to do a specific job
    • God caused the land to flourish
    • God blesses you where he places you

STOP right there for a second and re-read that last bullet: GOD BLESSES YOU WHERE HE PLACES YOU. The question posed is “If we’re not being blessed, why not?”

  • In verse 9, the Bible says God caused all the various trees to sprout up but he still told Adam in chapter 1 to work the land. Even though God gave Adam a task, it was still God who gave the blessing of growth.

The key question of this lesson is “Why has God given me this particular work?”

Let me clarify something before I go any further…if you are a stay at home mom/dad, you ARE working. I’m a firm believer in the important work you are doing. I honestly used to look down my nose at you all, but once I had my own child, my outlook changed. I think it’s one of the most important jobs in the world.

Secondly, if you are disabled and truly unable to work, I understand your situation and I don’t have any negative feelings toward you. In the same sense, if you’re not able to stand on your feet for hours at a time, for example, there could still be work for you to do! If you have a stable mind and the ability to sit and listen/talk, you could volunteer or work with elderly. Just keeping them company and helping them feel loved and appreciated is a very honorable job.

I do feel God has a purpose for me in my current job and I feel He had a job for me in my old career. Here are a few things that have already happened in my current career in less than 18 months that I really feel He had in mind for me:

  • Yanked a kid out the swimming pool to keep him from drowning
  • Helped a lady pull out of her depression and intervened when she was talking about suicide/depression
  • Brought a cheerful, positive attitude to my workplace (I’m annoyingly happy)
  • Am currently helping a group of 5 ladies lose weight during our weight loss contest (which helps them feel better and make a bigger difference in the lives of others around them)
  • Talked about my Christian beliefs to members and co-workers

Yesterday was my day off. Granted, I normally have Saturday and Sunday off as well, but Monday is my weekday off. I love only working 4 days a week and I really try to spend as much time with my son on Monday as possible. That was one of my biggest intentions of changing jobs was to spend more time being a mom. Sometimes on Mondays, I feel so guilty that I’m not at “work”; but then I think, “THIS is work, too!” Going back to my comment above about stay at home parents, it’s one of the most important jobs in the world. My goal is to instill in my son (and future son/daughter) my beliefs and values before the world out there starts trying to tear his little world apart.

So, think on it today. Are you happy with your job? If not, you best start talking to God. Maybe you have blinders on and are missing what He’s asking you to do. Maybe He has a different job in mind for you.

my thankfulness

An early morning sunrise I recently caught on film

An early morning sunrise I recently caught on film

I was very tempted to blog about something negative this evening. I even got a few lines typed before I decided to be positive instead. I had been thinking all day about what I am thankful for, seeing it is Thanksgiving week. This morning in my son’s Sunday school class, they made little crafts showing what they were thankful for. It made me think about how we always rattle off things like food, family, friends, yada, yada. That’s all fine and good, but I thought I would be specific with my list this year. Here’s what I’ve come up with after mulling it over most of the day:

  • a loving God who blesses me daily and is building me a home in heaven right now
  • a wonderful, hazel-eyed husband who puts up with my craziness and lets me snuggle up to him each night
  • a beautiful son who makes me laugh and smile every day while showing me how innocent the world can be
  • a loving mom who raised me in a Christian environment and taught me the value of thank you notes
  • a loving dad who has shown me the value of a dollar saved and hard work
  • a sister who turned me on to wheat pasta, reusable shopping bags, and cooking from scratch
  • another sister who surprises me with hand written notes in my mailbox and lives a carefree life I can only dream of
  • in laws that treat me like their very own daughter (and grand daughter)
  • fresh, clean drinking water in abundance
  • the ability and desire to exercise and stay healthy
  • a flexible work schedule that allows me to spend more time with my family
  • enough money to provide all of my needs and most of my wants
  • the freedom to worship and live the life I desire
  • healthy blue eyes to witness the amazing beauty of nature, sunsets, and all the other gorgeous things on the earth
  • a warm bed with clean linens
  • hot showers
  • a car that’s paid for
  • good books and colorful magazines
  • a church family that gets along and supports each other like a family

This list could go on and on forever, but I’m honestly pooped right now. It’s about time for bed, but if I think of anything else I missed, I’ll add as another post. I challenge you to think outside the box and come up with your own thankfulness list.

mandy’s top 10 ways to live on what ya got

I had a young lady tell me today that she wants to make more money. When I say “young lady”, I mean a gal that’s about 10 years younger than me. I’m not old (31), but I’m not a young lady anymore, either.

So, our conversation went back and forth. I guess I’m really a mom now, because I told her that the more you make, the more you spend and so on, and so forth. It got me to thinking (while I was peeling apples for my last round of apple butter) about the lessons I’ve learned in my adult life about managing money. I’m not rich by any means, but I’ve learned to live with what I have.

When I changed jobs about a year ago, I took about an $8,000 pay cut. Ain’t that crazy? I was stressing wondering how I would ever make it on that much money, but I figured less gas (I cut my commute by about 60%) and brown bagging my lunch (I used to spend $10-$12 a day on lunch out!) would make up for most of that. And, I knew the good Lord would provide.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 ways to live on what ya got, to matter how much money you make:

  1. Pay your tithes: If you are a God believing Christian, it’s your duty to pay your tithes (10% of what you make). If it weren’t for God, we wouldn’t have a single thing to our name and he expects us to give back. So, give back 10% of what you make to your Father. You will never have a need. Now, I’m not saying you will get all your WANTS, but your needs will be met. I have seen this happen time and time again. I’m glad my momma taught me this important life lesson.
  2. Create a budget: This one is a no brainer, but it’s dang hard! I really don’t have a full blown budget, but what I do is write down all my pay days and write what bills I have to pay with that check. I got in a bunch of financial stress years ago by NOT doing this, so this actually works. After I pay my bills, then I look at what I have left and know that’s my grocery and gas money, plus anything else I need/want.
  3. Put money in savings AUTOMATICALLY: Earlier this year, I set up an auto transfer from my checking to savings account, which occurs the Monday after each payday Friday. I really try not to touch that money in savings, but if times are tight or I have an unexpected expense, then I dip into that before adding to credit card debt. If you do it automatically, you don’t realize it’s missing.
  4. Save $1000 for a rainy day: I learned that from reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” book. Thankfully, my cousin sent me that years ago and it was a lifesaver. I have managed to keep $1000 in savings for several years now. I may not be much more than that, but it’s there if I need it for some unknown emergency. And, it doesn’t take as long as you would think to save that much if you put your mind to it. AND, once you save it, it’s so darn hard to let it get below $1000…you feel so guilty!
  5. Buy clothes used: Up until this year, I thought I was too good for thrift stores, consignments, or Goodwill. But, when I bought a pair of new Levi jeans at Belk in the spring for $40, it made me sick! Since then, I have found Eddie Bauer and Ann Taylor jeans at second hand stores in wonderful shape for no more than $5 a pair. I feel SO much better about that and no one has to know I didn’t buy them new for 10 times as much.
  6. Make dining out a treat: We normally go out to eat about once a week as a family or couple and I will eat lunch out about once a week. Otherwise, we eat our meals at home and I pack my lunch. A can of soup and a peanut butter sandwich can be a satisfying lunch over a good book or magazine (or talking with a friend). I have grown to love cooking since I started working less hours. It’s actually fun and healthier (see #11) and you can eat well on a budget. One tip: eat less meat. Meat is so expensive and isn’t that fantastic for you. Invest some of your meat money into fruits and vegetables!

    My husband and son at Ruby Tuesday last Christmas after seeing Santa.

    My husband and son at Ruby Tuesday last Christmas after seeing Santa.

  7. Use coupons: I’m not one of those maniacs that have a binder full of 1,000 coupons (not to say I won’t be before my life ends), but I DO cut out coupons for things I buy like toothpaste, diapers, baby food, etc. I don’t cut out coupons for things I don’t need or that are too expensive. Just stick with the basics. And sign up for online coupon for dining out. I get Ruby Tuesday coupons all the time. The other night, my husband, son and I went out to eat there and we got out for like $25! I had a coupon for a free flat bread with any adult entree purchase, so I ate that while the husband had his customary ribs. That saved us probably $10 or more.
  8. Pay off your vehicle loan and keep it…and take care of it: I paid off my car last July after a SIX year auto loan (what the heck was I thinking?!) and I plan to keep it until it’s no longer driveable. Is it new and flashy like the 2014 models? No. Does it have scratches and dents? Yes. Do I care? NO! The seats are stained, but I keep the oil changed and all that jazz and it should last me (Lord willing) many more years. I really hope I can get 10 more years out of the thing if I play my cards right.
  9. Make money doing what you love…or at least LIKE: I loved the job I had for about 9 years, until my son came along. Then, I realized the stress of that job was going to interfere with my family. So, I made a change and I’m so glad I did. I really do enjoy work and helping people live healthy lives. I’ve liked most all the jobs I’ve had in the past. If I didn’t like them, I found something else. I’ve been a waitress, toe seamer at a sock factory, gas station attendant, cashier at a grocery store, website designer, technology sales person, and a Longaberber basket sales person. I really enjoyed selling those baskets and I made good money doing it. Do what you like! AND, if you find yourself in a job that you don’t like, work toward a job that you enjoy.

    From a Longaberger basket party I hosted YEARS ago.

    From a Longaberger basket party I hosted YEARS ago.

  10. Be happy with what you have: Like I mentioned to my friend, I really believe if you make more money, you will spend more money. You think you have to have the nicest things, and you end up working harder and needing more money to pay for it all. We have lived in this single wide, 1987 mobile home for 10 years and we’re finally getting ready to get a house. Am I scared? I not really. We’ve looked at the numbers and can see we can afford it, but we’ve lived mortgage/rent free for 10 years! It won’t be fun to have 360 payments looming over our heads, but it will be nice to have something new (and that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to heat during the winter!). I’m going to miss this little trailer we call home, but I know it won’t hold up forever. Our plan is to pay extra and get it paid off in 20 years.
  11. BONUS! Get/stay healthy: The most valuable thing you have in life is your health. If you’re not healthy, get that way right now. Or make steps to get as healthy as you can. The cost of health insurance isn’t going down and the more healthy you are, the less it costs to live. That gym membership may seem expensive, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to having high insurance rates, lots of prescriptions and doctor bills.
Me running a 5K a few years back.

Me running a 5K a few years back.


book giveaway: “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

I’ve never done a giveaway on my blog before, so this is my maiden voyage. However, I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” a few months ago and it changed the way I look at food. I want to share this with you! It’s the Young Readers Edition, but that’s cooler because it has illustrations.

If you want your very own paperback copy of the book, comment on this post and tell me why. I’ll pick a person and mail you the book (I’ll email you for your mailing address). No strings attached and completely free.

By the way – I now have 100 followers on my blog and I’m tickled to death! Thank you guys for reading, liking, and commenting. 🙂

Win your free copy of this book!

Win your free copy of this book!