Archives for January 2012

Going Off the Grid for A Few Days…

Today is moving day… but only for my internet connection. The rest of my things will have to wait until tomorrow before they are moved over to the new house.

Since things are crazy with any move, I’m sure you can understand that I may fly off the radar for a few days. {Moving is hard, but with 6 kids? Ey yi yi.}

I haven’t talked much about our upcoming move on here only because I haven’t really had the time to sit down and type it all out.

Last fall, hubby and I started looking at houses. We’ve been renting, but we really wanted to buy – and we wanted it to be our “forever” home. {With our crew, moving is just going to get harder and harder every year they get bigger and accumulate more stuff.}

We scoured the internet for hours at a time, drove by thousands of houses, and made appointments to go inside a few. The problem was, the only houses in our price range were small fixer-uppers. We don’t mind working on a house that will be ours, but we really didn’t want to have to deal with another small house – and certainly not for the rest of our lives. {Someday in the not-so-distant future, we will have 4 teenage boys. A little house + 4 teenage boys? Yikes!} The house we are currently living in is 2 bedrooms plus a loft. There are about 900 square feet of living space. The kitchen is so small that I have to leave the food on the counters, which then allows me nowhere to actually prepare the food. It’s awful. So, when all we were finding in our search for “our” home were little houses, it was getting frustrating.

I mentioned to hubby one evening that we needed to just stop. Stop looking, stop stressing, just let it go for a little while and just pray about it. I happened to talk to my best friend on the phone that same night, and after I told her about all of our house-hunting stress, she replied, “I may know just the house for you…”

That started it all. After that conversation, God started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together for us. Things miraculously fell right into place. We started talking to the owner of the house before we had ever even seen the inside. We were moving on faith.

When we finally did get inside, all I wanted to do was drop to my knees and thank the Lord for his goodness. The house more than fits our needs – and our family. For the first time in my married life, we have room for all our kids – and our stuff. God is so good.

The house isn’t gigantic. It’s 3 bedrooms, but it has a very large unfinished basement. We will build a room down there for Ashley, our oldest, and will then finish off most of the remainder of the basement as a large play room/family room for the kids. The best part of the entire house, though, is the kitchen. Oh. My. Gosh. Counter tops and cupboards galore… and a great big island in the center of it. I can unpack ALL of my pots and pans and get to use them again. I can’t wait.

I have a few posts set to go live while I’m incognito, and I’ll do my best to respond to emails in a timely manner. It’s probably going to be a week or so before I can actually sit down and blog again, so don’t forget about me! Stop by and keep entering the giveaways!

I’ll leave you with a picture of our new house:

 

home sweet home
God is SO good, and I have truly been Blessed Beyond Words.

End of Week 3 DietBet Weigh In

Can you believe that there is just ONE week left in the DietBet Mom Bloggers Challenge? These 3 weeks have flown by, and I’m finding that it’s getting easier and easier all the time to eat right, exercise, and live without Pepsi.

I went for my weekly weigh in yesterday afternoon at my local Curves facility. The girls there all know me by name there now, and they have been such a support and an encouragement. I was really hesitatant to step on the scale because last week I had only dropped a pound and a half. I was so afraid it would be worse this week and that my confidence would plummet.

bathroom scaleBefore I get to my results for this week, let me recap my numbers for you:

  • Day 1 – Official weigh in revealed I was 213 pounds.
  • End of week 1 – Lost 8 pounds, dropping me to 205 pounds.
  • End of week 2 – Lost 1.5 pounds, bringing me down to 203.5 pounds.

Again, I was expecting to have not lost much this week. I haven’t made any changes at all during the DietBet Challenge, so I never know what to expect when it’s time to step on the scale.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale and saw that I had dropped another 3 and a half pounds!

That’s right! I am down to exactly 200 pounds.

I am so, so happy. My personal goal for this challenge is to bring my weight under 200 pounds. I’ve still got one more week to go, but even if I have another week where I only lose 1.5 pounds, I will meet that goal.

Hard work pays off – and so does sticking with what works. I still eat the things I like, I just do it in moderation. I want chips? Ok. I get 2 – 3 chips. I want a cookie? I take a bite of Parker’s cookie. And I exercise. I burn 300 calories on the treadmill daily, along with the calories I typically burn. {Although, this week, I’m pretty sure I’m burning lots of extra calories with all the packing, moving, and painting going on.}

If you take a look at the DietBet Standings for the Mom Bloggers challenge, 3 of us have met our DietBet goals. The others are right behind us and are doing great! As of today, January 25th, 47 pounds have been lost – and 13 of those pounds are MINE!

Are you trying to lose weight this year? If so, how are things going for you?

Cranberry Naturals from Old Orchard {Ends 2/28}

As you are all quite aware, I am on quite a health kick. I’ve completely cut soda from my diet, and I am very, very careful to watch what I take in. So, when I heard about Cranberry Naturals, I was excited to give it a try.

cranberry naturalsBefore I get to my review, and my kids’ review, I want to share some of the great facts about Cranberry Naturals from Old Orchard:

  • Each service contains just 70 calories.
  • Contains 40% less sugar than other brands.
  • NO artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • Naturally sweetened with just a bit of sugar and Truvia.
  • Contains nearly 2 times the cranberry juice of other “diet” juices.
  • Contains NO High Fructose Corn Syrup.

The best part? It really tastes great. The kids absolutely love it, and I love that they aren’t filling up on empty calories whenever they ask for a glass of juice.

I’m really impressed with everything about Cranberry Naturals Juice. I love that it’s 100% natural, and I don’t have to worry about what it might contain. Cranberry juice contains natural vitamins and minerals that are essential and effective for the treatment of urinary tract, bladder, and kidney infections. My youngest daughter suffers from urinary tract infections frequently, so I try to always keep cranberry juice on hand. As soon as Cranberry Naturals is available in our local grocery stores, you can bet that I will be switching over to them. {I’m working on getting my husband to make it available in the store where he works.}

Would you like to try Cranberry Naturals juice for yourself? I have 5 coupons for FREE bottles of juice, as well as 5 coupons for $.50 off one bottle of juice.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter gadget below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received 2 bottles of Cranberry Naturals juice to facilitate my review. The coupons received were sent to me to be given away on my blog to my readers. The giveaway is sponsored by Old Orchard. I was in no other way compensated for this post.

Diamond Candles – A Surprise Inside Every Candle {Ends 1/26}

I love surprises. Absolutely love them. Nothing makes me smile more than an unexpected surprise.

diamond candlesThat’s why I love Diamond Candles so much. Not only do these fabulous soy candles smell amazing, but each candle also contains a surprise!

Inside every Diamond Candle, there’s a ring! It might be worth $10, but it could be worth $100, $1,000, or even $5,000! Isn’t that awesome?!

I received a Gingerbread scented candle for my review.

I lit the candle, so anxious to find out what kind of ring was inside, and patiently waited.

It burned for a few hours the first day. The next day, I took the candle with me to our new house and lit it while Ashley and I painted. Even over the smell of the paint, there was a fresh gingerbread scent lingering in the air. I swear it smelled like someone was baking gingerbread cookies in the oven. Mmmmm.

ring from diamond candleAfter a few hours that second day, I checked again. Sure enough, there was the coveted little foil pouch. I was so excited! I extinguished the flame, grabbed a key, {the only thing I had on hand}, and pulled out the foil pouch. I quickly opened the package, and inside was a pretty little ring. Ashley immediately fell in love with it and decided it was her’s. I’m pretty sure it’s just a $10 ring, but it sure was fun waiting to see what surprise the candle held.

And I’m not done with the candle yet! There’s still lots more to burn, and I plan to use it until it’s gone. The candle smells so good, and I love how evenly and cleanly it burned.

I highly recommend Diamond Candles to any one who loves candles… or jewelry…. or both!

Want a chance to win a Diamond Candle of your own? Just use the Rafflecopter gadget below. We’re giving away THIRTY candles, so there are lots of chances for you to win!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a Diamond Candle in exchange for my review. I was in no other way compensated for this post. The giveaway is sponsored by Diamond Candles.

Join the Walgreens Prescrition Saving Club and Save

This post brought to you by Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

Having a family of 8, I am always looking for ways to save money for my family. When someone in my family gets sick, odds are good that it will be passed around through everyone else in the family.

That’s why the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club is such a help to my family. Every little bit helps, and by receiving discount prices on medicines for my family, it makes such a difference. And it’s not just generic medicines you can save on. There are many brand-name medicines available at a discounted price. In fact, there are over 8,000 brand-name and all the generic medications on their list.

As a member, you also receive discounts on pet prescriptions, diabetic supplies, nebulizers,  and even flu shots. You also receive bonuses when you purchase photofinishing services and Walgreen brand products.

Right now, Walgreens is offering a special discount on a yearly membership to their Prescription Saving Club. For just $10 a year, you can get a family membership. That covers anyone in your immediate family: spouse, children 22 and younger, and even pets. Don’t have a family? That’s ok. Individuals can join for just $5.

Head to your local Walgreens to day and sign up for the Prescription Savings Club.

Also be sure to follow Walgreens on Twitter and become a fan of Walgreens on Facebook for all the latest news and updates.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Low-Maintenance Children’s Birthday Parties {Guest Post}

If you’re like me and have more than one child, you know that throwing multiple birthday parties every year can get overwhelming and expensive. The key is to set parameters for your child’s requests and listen to their feedback in order to come to an agreement that will work for everyone. Sometimes it is just easiest to streamline the task with a specific theme and buy a package of Super Mario Bros party supplies. You can also give them the latest Super Mario video game for whatever system you guys have and invite a small group over to go to town on it. Order a couple of pizzas and you’re set for the event.

For most children’s parties, practicality is more important than extravagance. I remember many a happy adolescent birthday party with just a pack of water guns and a slip and slide for my friends. However, our youngest daughter is a girly-girl and she wanted to have a princess themed party for her last birthday. We made homemade decorative cookies, which she was happy to help whip up from scratch. Her helpfulness and desire to pull off the kind of party she wanted was too cute.

We have twin boys that share a handful of close-knit friends. If they ask for an over the top birthday, I make the deal that they have to help with the set up and cleaning afterwards. This tends to keep their party requests in perspective and easy to manage, and they usually opt for a low-key slumber party with pizza and movies. This also helps with any jealousy from their sisters. Everyone knows what kind of responsibilities are involved and can choose whether or not they want to go all out, or just be the center of attention with a few friends.

Guest Author’s Bio: Lisa is a guest blogger on the topics of parenting on a budget, early childhood education, and marriage.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post in any way.

I Joined MyFitnessPal

I need help. I’m participating in the DietBet Mom Bloggers Challenge, and while I have met my goal for the contest, I still have a very long way to go to reach my ultimate goal. I plan to keep doing what I’m doing after the challenge, but I need some way to keep myself accountable.

I recently found MyFitnessPal – an online fitness journal and calorie counter. Best news of the day? It’s FREE to sign up.

So far I’m loving it. One thing I’m finding that I don’t like, though, is that I can only enter my current weight on their website. It doesn’t give me the option to put in a starting weight. So, that 9.5 pounds that I already lost goes unnoticed by the MyFitnessPal site – which is kind of a bummer. 9.5 pounds lost is an accomplishment, and its’ a motivator to help me lose even more.

I’m going to try using the site for the next few weeks and see how I like it. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think.

If you’d like to follow along with me and join MyFitnessPal for yourself, I hope you’ll do so. You can find my profile here: Angie’s MyFitnessPal Profile. You have to be a friend to view my profile, so I hope you’ll consider adding me as one.

Do you have any online tools or resources you use for dieting? Share them in the comments below!

WW – Baby’s First Haircut

Gage's first haircut

Yes, I cried to see those curls come off. 🙁 My baby looks like a little man now.

Leave a link to YOUR wordless Wednesday pictures, because I want to see!

DietBet Challenge – End of Week 2 Weigh In

Well, just got home from my local Curves office where I weighed in for the end of week 2 in the DietBet Mom Bloggers Challenge.

bathroom scaleThe results were not near as good as I had hoped they would be, and I am trying not to kick myself for it.

My starting weight in the challenge was 213 pounds. Last week, I weighed in at 205. I was super pumped that I had dropped 8 pounds in just a week.

I guess I expected to stay on that same downhill spiral and see even more weight come off when I stepped on the scale today.

Instead, I weighed in at 203.5. Yes, I went down. But not nearly as much as I wanted to. I wanted to be under 200 by now. I wasn’t asking much – just 5 or 6 more pounds gone. It was so discouraging to see the scale still set on the 200 mark.

I know there will be good weeks and bad, but a pound and a half? I’ve worked my butt off this week, and I lose a pound and a half? And don’t give me the “muscle weighs more than fat” line. I despise that line more than any other phrase out there.

Looks like it’s back to the grindstone for me. I still haven’t had soda in 2 weeks, in fact, I haven’t had anything but water in 2 weeks. I’ve eaten super healthy, reduced portion sizes, and am exercising at least 1 hour a day, 6 days a week.

I’ve met my goal for the DietBet Challenge, and have lost all of the weight required to win the money for St. Jude. {I just can’t gain ANY weight for the next 2 weeks. At All.} But my personal goal? That’s far from being met. I’ve got a very long way to go. And if it continues at just 1.5 pounds gone per week, it’s going to take me eons to get where I want to be.

Sigh. So not what I wanted to see when I weighed in today.

How are YOU doing with your weight loss goals?

Remember, you can follow my progress in the DietBet Challenge here: My Profile Page on DietBet.

Disclaimer: DietBet is giving me the opportunity to participate in a Mom Blogger’s Challenge and compete for $5,000 – which, if won, will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am not a doctor. Any steps I take to lose weight are my own, and individuals should seek their doctor’s opinion before starting a weight loss program of any kind.

NOVICA LIVE – Home Party Division {Ends 2/10/12}

NOVICA Live!

Back in 2010, I had the opportunity to introduce my readers to NOVICA – a leading fair trade artisan website in association with National Geographic.

Now, I get to introduce you to NOVICA Live their new Home Party Division.

novica scarfAs a stay at home mom, I am always looking for ways to supplement income for my family. NOVICA Live! Sounds like a fun way to do just that.

As a consultant, you’ll get to keep on hand some of the most beautiful handcrafted items around. Items include wrap bracelets, wool scarves, embroidered scarves, jewelry, home decor, and so much more. For just $199 for the starter kit, NOVICA Live! Consultants receive over $400 worth of samples and  $150 in business materials to help you make your business super successful.

I have always been impressed by the quality of the NOVICA websites and products, and I am excited about the new potential to earn income by selling their gorgeous products.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a NOVICA Live! Consultant, please visit their website. When you sign up, please mention that you found them through Blessed Beyond Words.

You can also check out the NOVICA Live! website and learn about hosting a party in your home and earning free jewelry and gift certificates as well as the many other benefits received through a home party.

This is such a unique and fun opportunity. By becoming a consultant or hosing a gift and jewelry party in your home, you have the power to make a difference in the world. When a NOVICA Live party is held, the host can designate an artisan to receive a microcredit loan. These loans are paid for by NOVICA Live and the program offers artisans 0% interest on their loans. This helps artisans get the credit they need to grow their business into a sustainable income. Such a worthy cause, and all you have to do is host a party!

To get you as excited as I am about the NOVICA Live! program, NOVICA has graciously offered up 2 $50 Gift Certificates to their website. Now you can get just a taste of the many wonderful items available to you. And they may just help you decide if the NOVICA Live! Program is right for you.

To Enter, please use the Rafflecopter gadget below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was provided 2 $50 gift certificates from NOVICA for this post. Rather than review the products myself, I thought it would be more fitting to allow my readers the chance to receive the gift certificates and decide if the NOVICA Live program is right for them.

 

Diet Bracelet & Kit to Help You Lose Weight

If you swing by MojoFit.com, you will find a rather unique idea: A Diet Bracelet that helps you keep track of your calorie and water intake and helps you lose weight!

diet braceletThe bracelet also comes with a pocket book that will tell you everything you need to know about taking weight off and keeping it off. It also lists over 2,500 foods and how many calories they contain.

If you use the promo code BABY at checkout, you can get the bracelet and kit for NO COST. That’s right! You just pay $4.95 in shipping costs, and that’s it.

The bracelet is available in 6 different colors and 2 sizes, so they’re perfect for everyone.

You can order as many bracelets as you’d like with this promo code, but you’ll need to place each bracelet as a separate order.

I’m not sure how long this will last, so don’t delay! Use the code BABY today and get your free diet bracelet and kit.

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this post in any way.

End of Week One Weigh In #DietBet

I have been working hard all week at eating right, exercising more, giving up soda, and keeping my big butt off the couch. I’ve cut out all soda and junk food, I’ve reduced my portion sizes, and I have started exercising. {Walking on a treadmill at 2.8 MPH for 30 – 45 minutes.}

Since I don’t own a scale at home, I had to go back to my local Curves office to weigh in. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the scale was 8 pounds lighter! That’s right! I went from 213 to 205. Awesome. That means I am just 1 pound away from meeting my DietBet goal, and I am that much closer to my overall goal.

bathroom scaleI have been very, very careful not to overdo anything: For the first time in my life, I am eating 3 meals a day plus healthy snacks. I’m drinking nothing but water. I don’t over exercise, and I’m continuing to take in more than I work off. I want to do this the right way.

I am convinced that giving up soda and sweet tea is what has helped the most. Not drinking 4 – 6 cans of Pepsi every single day has made a world of difference. Already I’ve noticed that my pants are getting looser, my belly doesn’t appear nearly as bloated, and I just feel better.

I’ve still got a very long way to go, but if I stick with the what I’ve been doing for the past week, I’m sure to get a great start on meeting my final goals for this year.

Remember, you can follow my progress in the DietBet Challenge here: My Profile Page on DietBet.

Disclaimer: DietBet is giving me the opportunity to participate in a Mom Blogger’s Challenge and compete for $5,000 – which, if won, will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am not a doctor. Any steps I take to lose weight are my own, and individuals should seek their doctor’s opinion before starting a weight loss program of any kind.

Want a Dyson Vacuum?

win a dyson

My family and I will soon be moving into a new house. I love everything about the house, except that it has carpet in every single room – including the dining room! One thing I don’t have is a vacuum that can handle all that carpet.

So, imagine how thrilled I was to find out that Tanga is giving away a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner! But, they’re not just giving one away, they’re giving TWO away! That’s right! If someone you refer wins, you win too.

Head on over and enter to win today. I’m not exactly sure when the contest ends, so don’t miss your chance to enter!

Click Here to Enter

Progresso® Souper You® Contest

You all know how hard I am working to create a better me… a healthier me. Someone that I can be proud of and that my family can be proud of.

Souper You ContestWouldn’t a fantastic new look be awesome to go with my healthy new attitude? Well, now we can each have a chance to win a new look thanks to Progresso® and their Souper You® Contest.

All you have to do is tell Progresso® why you deserve a makeover and what you love about their soup. Then, 3 lucky winners will receive an ultimate makeover experience in Hollywood this Spring! So exciting! Winners will get a trip for 2 to Los Angeles, California, a head-to-toe makeover that includes hair and makeup, a shopping spree with $1,000 in spending money, and 2 tickets to this season’s live finale of NBC’s The Biggest Loser.

I do have to say that Progresso® soups have been a great way to keep myself on track with eating better. They offer 40 delicious soups with 100 calories or less per serving. They’re a great way to change up your diet, beat the “diet boredom,” satisfy taste cravings, and help you stick to your weight management calorie goals. With ingredients like beans, rice, pasta, meats, and vegetables, they leave you full and ready to face the rest of your day.

To enter the contest for yourself, head to www.SouperYou.com. Submit your photo and brief essay about why you love Progresso® soups a why you deserve a makeover. But you have to hurry! You can only enter until February 22nd.

On March 12th, you can read the announcement of the top ten finalists and vote for your favorite finalist until March 25th.

Watch this video of the 2011 Souper You Contest winner experience:

Amazing.

I’ve sent in my entry, how about you?

PS. If you love Progresso® Soups, click here for a coupon for $1.25 off the purchase of 4 cans of Progresso soup.

PPS. Tune into The Biggest Loser Tuesday nights on NBC at 8/7c.

Disclaimer: This information was provided to me by MyBlogSpark. I have not been compensated for this post in any way. My odds of winning the contest are as good as yours.

No Soda Equals No Motivation #DietBet

Some people need coffee to get through their day. I, however, need Pepsi. To be honest, I’m a bit of an addict. Before starting the DietBet Challenge, it was not uncommon for me to drink 4, 5, or even 6 cans of Pepsi in one day. Seriously. I craved the sugar and the “high” that Pepsi gave me to get through the day. With 6 kids, I am always exhausted. {Sorry kids, I love you all to death, but some days you just wear me out.} Add to that the fact that Parker and Gage do not sleep through the night, and when it forces me to live on 2 – 3 hours of sleep per night {if I’m lucky!}, I need a kick in the pants from my Pepsi.

So, I’m sure you can imagine how I’m feeling right now. I haven’t had any soda – in fact, I haven’t had anything but water and one 8oz. glass of low fat milk – since early Tuesday morning.

I am slowly going out of my mind. Seriously.

At least that’s how it feels.

I knew this would be the most difficult part of the challenge for me, but I also knew that cutting out soda would make a world of difference. I don’t even want to know the amount of sugar I was consuming day after day after day. Shudder. No wonder my weight was so high.

I’ve steadily increased my exercise. Day 1 I walked for 20 minutes on the treadmill. Day 2 was 25 minutes, day 3 was 30 minutes… So, slowly but surely I’m increasing the things I should be increasing, and I’ve completely cut out the things I shouldn’t be eating. No desserts, no junk food, no chips. I don’t put anything into my mouth without checking the calorie and fat content first.

But I have to be careful.

Some of you may already know, but for years I was an anorexic. Actually, I flip-flopped between anorexia and bulimia a lot. It was bad. In fact, when my husband and I met, I was at my lowest weight of my adult life: 90 pounds. At 5 foot 9 inches, I was nothing but skin and bones. The only time I was ever able to “shut off” the disease was when I was pregnant. So, obviously, with 5 pregnancies in the last 9 years, I’ve had to “shut it off” a lot. I guess I’ve gotten used to it, and discovered that I really like eating and not bringing it back up. Ok, so I really like eating.

But, I also know how easy it is to fall back into old habits.  I think that’s why I’m so determined to do this right. I want to eat right, exercise, and just get to a healthier me. If that brings the weight down in a good way, then so be it. I have way too many people counting on me now, and I can’t fall back into the trap of not eating anything.

Ok, so I totally rabbit trailed there. Sorry. Let’s get back to the post…

Anyone got any tips on what I can do to increase my energy since giving up soda?

Come Cheer Me On! #DietBet

I posted yesterday that I’m participating in the DietBet Challenge.

I just found out that you can view my scoreboard, stats, others in the competition, and cheer me on. To do so, just click here: Mom Bloggers DietBet Challenge

I would love it if you would swing by and give me your well wishes. I need all the encouragement I can get.

I’m on Day 2 of no soda and no junk food, and I must.avoid.pinterest. All those sugary recipes are about to do me in. But, I’m doing pretty well. I got up this morning, ate some yogurt and then walked a mile on the treadmill. Slowly but surely, I know I can do this. I just need to lose 9 pounds.

I can do this. I know I can.

Will you come be my cheerleader?

Taking on the DietBet Challenge

If you haven’t heard of DietBet, you soon will. I have been selected as one of the participants in the DietBet Challenge along with 6 other mom bloggers.

dietbetDietBet is a fantastic way to have fun, lose weight, and win money! You just Set up a free four-week game with friends to lose weight. {You decide if you want to lose 8 pounds or 4% of your starting weight.} Then decide how much money everyone “bets” and puts into the pot. At the end of 4 weeks, if you lose the weight, you WIN!

For this challenge, DietBet put $5,000 into the pot and let us pick our charities. They also let us decide how much of our winnings would go to charity. I love the idea of winning for someone else, so I was really excited when they approached me about this.

I selected St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as my charity. And I also selected that they will receive 100% of my winnings. That’s right. I’m not keeping a penny for myself, I’m giving it all to them.

And that’s why I am so motivated to win this challenge. I want to see $5,000 go to St. Jude.

But I’ve got a long way to go, and I’m going to need your encouragement over the next 4 weeks.

Here are the other bloggers I am up against:

I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I know I can do it!

Now, let’s get to the heart and soul of this post. The most difficult part for me: The numbers. The weigh in. The photos.

I had to find somewhere to get my official weigh-in for the challenge. Because I’m so far away from the other DietBet Challenge participants, I couldn’t just meet up with them and have my weigh-in done at the same time. Luckily, my local Blairsville Curves facility allowed me to come in and get weighed by one of their consultants.

Here’s the official weigh-in:

I’m officially cringing.

Did you catch that number? 213 pounds. I am sick to my stomach. When my husband and I were married in 2002, I weighed 100 pounds less than I do right now. 100 pounds in 10 years. Gasp.

Since I’ve already embarrassed myself with the video, I guess I can share the Day 1 photos:

Day1 Day 1

Ugh. Those pictures make me sick to my stomach. When did I allow myself to get like this?

Obviously, I’ve got my work cut out for me. But I can do this, right?

I’m changing everything: eating habits, exercise frequency… you name it, I’m changing it.

Over the next 4 weeks, I will be keeping you updated in my challenge every step of the way. The only thing I won’t be doing is weighing in again. I’m waiting until the 4 weeks are up, and I will head back to my local Curves center for the final official weigh in.

But, you can certainly count on me to post different updates: new recipes I’ve found, exercises I like, and more. In fact, starting today, you will notice a whole new section of the blog entitled “My Weight Loss Journey.”

My goal for the next 4 weeks is 4% of my body weight – that’s 8.52 pounds. I KNOW I can do it. And I’m hoping I can do way more than that. Eventually, I’d like to be down to 150 pounds. Healthier than the 113 I was 10 years ago for my 5’9″ body frame, and just better for my overall health. Where I am now is just too big, and it’s got to change.

I hope you’ll join me over the next 4 weeks and watch my progress. If you have any weight loss tips, recipes you love, exercises I need to try… or just some encouragement, I would love to hear from you.

And if you’d like to start a challenge of your own, I would encourage you to round up some friends, decide how much you’ll throw into the pot, and start losing weight with DietBet!

Disclaimer: This Challenge is being sponsored by DietBet. I have been given the opportunity to win up to $5,000 for myself or my favorite charity.

Do You Keep a Prayer Journal?

Let me start by saying that if you don’t keep a prayer journal, I’d like to encourage you to start.

prayer journalIn 2008, I started keeping a prayer journal. I wrote in my prayer journal faithfully, every day thanking God for his blessings and adding in new requests. At the end of the year, I loved going back and reading through all the answers to prayer God had given us that year. In fact, I loved it so much that it became a daily ritual for me, and it has been since July of 2008.

How does one start a prayer journal?

Well, different people may do different things. I’ll share with you how I keep my prayer journal.

I usually use some sort of spiral bound notebook or hardcover journal. I’ve found that the spiral bound journals/notebooks are easier to use, because the binding of a hardcover journal can be difficult and uncomfortable to write in. But, it’s really up to you and your personal preferences. Then, I keep two pens with my journal: a black pen and a red pen. I use the black pen to write in requests, and I use the red pen to write in answers to prayer and praises.

On the first page of the journal, I start listing requests. I start with my constant prayers: My relationship with Christ, my relationship with my husband, the salvation of my children… instead of writing the date beside these requests, I write the word Constant. I leave one to two blank lines between every request so that I can write in any answers God gives that year.

After I list the constant prayers on my heart, I start with those who are sick as well as other needs of my friends and family. If there are requests from last year that have not been answered yet, I move those over to the new journal as well.

When there is an answer to a request, I will write in the empty space beside the original request in red pen and tell exactly how the Lord answered that prayer. For example, last year we had been praying for a man in our church that was very, very sick. The Lord ended up calling him home this year, so beside his name, I wrote, “Went home to be with Jesus” and then the date.

Every day I will go through and write in new requests. They may be simple requests or large requests – it doesn’t matter. No request is too small to God, and it allows me to put everything in His hands and under His control.

Some people will take a prayer journal day by day and write that day’s requests and then actually write out their prayer. I have done that in the past, but I’ve found that the way I’ve explained above is better for me. It shows me instantly what God has done in my life, and what I need to continue praying for.

If your relationship with Christ is lacking, or if you just don’t feel like He’s working in your life any more, let me encourage you to start a prayer journal. It forces you to take time with your Savior, and it will show you all the ways He is working in your life.

Do you keep a Prayer Journal?

A Little Reminder as We Welcome 2012

don't worry

I am a worrier by nature. When placed in a stressful situation, I worry, fret, and try to fix it myself. This year, I am committing to leaving everything at the feet of my Savior. He has promised to take care of me, to meet my needs, and to never leave me. If I have Him, I have everything.

I pray that 2012 holds nothing but blessings for each one of you, but I know there will be hard times, sadness, and loss. During those times, I hope you will cling to Jesus.

Happy New Year, my friends.