With Baby Comes…

This is one of those things that I know no one reeeeeally cares about reading, but I neeeeeed to talk about it.

Weight.

So I had a baby, in case anyone reading this doesn’t already know that from my bombardment of photos on the interwebs. And with a baby comes extra weight. It’s a fact of life. When you’re pregnant, however, you can be smart about it, or, like me, be stupid about eating and healthy weight gain.

I had packed on a few pounds before I got pregnant, and was in the process of trying to lose it, and failing miserably. I just love food ok? When I saw the double line on the pee stick, I was all “Great! No more having to worry about losing weight!” And I ate…and ate…and ate…and gained a lot more weight.

Y’all.

*Swallows pride.*

I weighed well over 200 pounds at the end of my pregnancy.

It was hard for me to accept. I wanted to badly to be able to control it, but losing weight has always been difficult for me.

Before I move on, I just want to say that I am not at all trying to be one of those people who isn’t that big, but is going to complain about it anyway. If there’s nothing we women get more annoyed with, its skinny girls talking about how fat they are, meanwhile we are sitting here, obviously heavier than them, eating a burger. No, I am not trying to be that woman. Just talking about my personal story, and although I was and still am overweight, I try not to think of myself as “fat.”

Losing weight has NEVER been easy for me. I can exercise, but I am unwilling to change my diet much if at all, so when exercise doesn’t cut it (10% exercise/90% diet right?), I give up and feel even worse about myself. I like carbs, cheese, and sauces. Those are my vices. Plus I love to cook, it’s a creative outlet for me, and cooking some variation of chicken, again, gets old. When given the choice at a restaurant, I will always choose something I want instead of something healthy. Why pay for a salad when I can make that at home, right? It’s a real problem. I use food for comfort too. I have a hard time sitting and watching a tv show or movie without having something to snack on. I tend to break the golden rule of dieting by drinking my calories as well. Coke is like sweet nectar of the gods on my mouth. I could go on and on.

The point is, it has always been a problem, but a bigger problem is feeling down about myself. This is hard crap you guys. I hardly have time to dress myself and keep laundry washed, let alone to spend 2 hours of my day working out. Because let’s be honest, doing  45-minute work out is only a small part of it. For me, It means pumping, because, you know…jumping around and stuff, squeezing into a sports bra and still-too-small work out clothes, making sure the kid is asleep or otherwise occupied, doing the work-out, showering (maybe), and changing again. THAT’S LIKE HALF THE DAY YOU GUYS.

Ugh.

I do love the #MomBod movement over the past few weeks, and I am all over giving grace to moms to get their bodies back, but that doesn’t mean that I should just do nothing. I want to be able to run and play with my kids and get down on the floor and color without it hurting. I want to be able to…gosh just to wear MY OWN CLOTHES again. We like to paint a pretty picture of how beautiful childbirth is, but rarely do we have honest feelings about how hard and sucky it is to accept that our bodies will never be the same. I don’t want to feel like I am body-shaming or mom-shaming by saying that it is sucks to have stretch marks all over my body and to accept that it’s just how my body looks now. Or can we just talk about boobs? Or extra skin? Or just all of it?

I want to feel healthy and good about myself again. I want the fat in my face to go away so I can stop hating every single photo of me. And sure, there’s a part of me that needs to learn to love myself and my body more, but there’s another part that needs to suck it up, get her act together, and eat better.

All of this to say, I am on a diet. *Shudder.* Even I hate those words. I wish I could be one of those women that’s all “HAHA what’s a diet??” but no, I did not win the “Bounce-back-after-childbirth lottery,” and something’s gotta give. I don’t like diets. They rarely work and I never want to have to buy a bunch of shakes, drops, bands, wraps, and whatever other diet fad is going around now. Just no. I am doing the 17-day diet. I like it because it’s structured, but simple. I can have as much as I want of certain things, so I am never hungry, and it’s easy to wrap my mind around. I am down about 6 pounds since starting, and I am 2/3 of the way through cycle 1 (It consists of four 17-day cycles). That puts me at (crap is there still pride I need to swallow??) 174 currently. My goal is 140.

As far as eating out goes, that’s where Bryan comes in. I asked him to be in charge of my diet for the time being. He was all “Nope nope nope nope this is a trap nope.” But I talked him down and explained that I don’t have enough self-control to eat well, so could he please order for me at restaurants and slap chips out of my hand when necessary. He has been great so far! I think showing him that I wouldn’t fight him on it in the moment (bites tongue) really helped him to not feel like this was a lose-lose for him.

I may post updates as I go, but maybe not. I know this stuff isn’t exactly riveting, but it’s a big part of my life right now. Food is so hard for me that when I limit myself, it occupies roughly 97% of my thoughts. So I’m just trying to hang in there…for now.

Love, Alex

Tips on Getting (And Staying) Debt Free

Some of you may have seen on Facebook yesterday, but Bryan and I are officially Debt Free! Just in time for me to quit my job and us to have a baby!

WEEEEEE’RE DEEEEEEEBT FREEEEEEEE!

Sorry, Just had to get that out of my system.

I feel better now.

This is us mailing in our last payment!

This is us mailing in our last payment!

It’s been a long, bumpy road for us to pay everything off, but it has been so worth it. I want to give a quick snapshot of our journey, and then some tips on how everyone can have a smoother process to experiencing this freedom.

Bryan and I got engaged in 2011. I had a small car payment, but had always been pretty responsible with money. I also had never had much of it to be responsible with. I waited tables through college, so I always had cash on me, and therefore had a cash budgeting system in place. Something I was not great with was saving. I saved for small things in the near future: shoes, trips, etc, but never did any long-term saving.

Bryan, on the other hand, was already very successful and had seemingly plenty of money. He also had a lot of debt. He owned/owed on 2 cars and a motorcycle, and owed for multiple credit cards and store credits.

shortly after getting engaged, we decided to sell my car and one of his and get a ridiculously expensive, albeit used Land Rover and therefore combined our finances before we tied the knot since I would be living at home my senior year and not paying rent and utilities. I don’t recommend this for every couple AT ALL. It is not for everyone and arguably wasn’t for us. Here are the reasons I am glad we did it, though:

1. It forced us to confront our personal money problems and prepare early for being a team when it comes to finances.

2. Since we paid for most of our wedding ourselves, it enabled us to use almost all of my paycheck to 100% cash-flow our wedding and honeymoon. That’s right, we owed exactly nothing when it was all said and done.

3. It forced us to live out the usually bumpy first year of marriage during the year we were engaged, making our first year of marriage pretty enjoyable. Again, This would absolutely not work for everyone, and it took a lot of loyalty, willpower, and seeing the big picture to make it work for us.

4. Finally, If it weren’t for this decision, I don’t know that we would have taken our initial Financial Peace University class at our church. We were at our wits end, and something had to give. Bryan wanted to go, but since I was the more stubborn one about money, he prayed about it and trusted that God would convict me to make the decision to go to the class, which I THANKFULLY did. (My husband is kind of a superhero. There is no way I would have been that patient and trusting.)

Now, because of some bad decisions that had been made on both of our parts, and mostly because of bad decisions made by Bryan before we met, we were in debt about $90,000.00 (My gracious parents made the decision a long time ago that they wanted to pay for their kids to go to college, even it meant paying out loans. If I had this responsibility upon myself, it would have made our debt-toll quite a bit higher. This is something I am thankful for every single day and seriously could not have asked for better parents.)

As of yesterday: August 27th, 2014, we have paid every penny off! I am not going to lay out a plan for paying off debt, but here are some tips and tricks that got us through this mess, and how we intend to never get ourselves back in it again. (Bear with me, this will be a bulleted list. I am OCD and bulleted notetaking is my life. It gives me joy.)

debt free 2

  • Make the decision TOGETHER that you are going to do this 100%, fully, no looking back. Both partners have to have both feet squarely on the train for this to work. If you are single, get an accountability partner who is 100% in this with you and will tell you like it is and not pretty-it-up. Does this mean that one or both of you can’t waver ever? Uh, no. That’s a nonexistent, impossible scenario. It just means that when one partner struggles, the other one is there to encourage you back on the train. Choo choo.

 

  • If you are a part of a couple, learn to live on one income. No, I don’t mean one of you should quit your job. I mean pick the person who makes the most and force yourselves to budget based on that salary only. Pay all of the minimum payments on all of the loans with the main income. I am completely aware that this is not realistic for every couple and every situation, but I highly recommend that it be a goal as you pay off more and more. Here’s why:
    • The obvious reason: if one of you loses your job or wants to change jobs or wants to stay home with your kids, you aren’t screwed. I would never in my right mind want to readjust our budget like that. It was a pain in the butt to get it figured out and streamlined to begin with, and to have to par it down even more would induce suicidal thoughts.
    • It frees up an entire income to put towards paying off debt and saving money.
    • It teaches you to live well within your means like, for real. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. I would much rather have plenty of wiggle room than be maxed out within our budget.
    • It allows you some extra spending money to reward yourself a bit along the way. Since you’re using the main family salary to pay the minimums, you can afford a big date night or weekend getaway to reward yourself after your close out a credit card account or pay off a load.

 

  • SELL EVERYTHING. I mean this. That motorcycle I talked about? Gone. That Land Rover we bought and I loved so much? Gone. We’ve had several cars since then because we have just been trading down and trading down until we had cars that we owed a manageable enough amount on to pay off. Downsize your home if you have way more house than you need. Get creative with your selling. We had a bunch of random kitchen items that we would have never been able to sell on their own, so we took a photo of the whole lot together and put it on Craigslist as a kitchen starter kit. A college student came and got it like the next day. Have a garage sale. Consign your clothes. Be weird and unmaterialistic. Every little bit counts.

 

  • Cut your cable. I’m not even a little bit kidding. You will live. We cut ours and got Netflix, Jetflicks, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. AND WE SURVIVED. And no, we aren’t those weird people who say things like “We just don’t watch very much tv.” (<–What?) I watch practically every show on television and did so using those streaming services. And don’t come at me shouting about sports. That’s why God invented Buffalo Wild Wings and friends’ houses. Offer to bring some food if they can host the watch party. And when you’re out of debt or to a manageable point in your journey, get the cable back. We did. I promise you will survive.

 

  • Get creative with eating out. I am the last person who will tell you to stop eating out, because who does that? I mean you should cut back for sure, and make a monthly budget for when you do. All that jazz. What I’m talking about it how to be able to eat out more within your “eating out/entertainment” budget. Here are some ideas:
    • Get water. This is an easy and obvious one.
    • Don’t get alcoholic beverages. Seriously, you can enjoy the company of friends and each other and buy yourself a six-pack for way cheaper. It’s a win-win.
    • Share. I know this sucks and takes some skill, especially if you have different tastes. Do what you gotta do, get an extra side dish, get separate salads before the entrée, all that good stuff. You can even pre-game at home before you get to the restaurant so you’re not famished and tempted to get separate meals. We definitely did not do this every time, but it practically doubles the number of times you can eat out every month within your budget.
    • Save the big spending for bigger occasions.  We rarely ate out together (Eating out without the other one came out of our “personal spending” budget, not out joint entertainment budget) unless it was for date nights or group activities. Sure, we grabbed food while running errands or similar situations plenty, we just knew where to go that wasn’t going to break the bank. (Holla for Sams Club’s cheap-as-crap pizza combo!)
    • Enjoy the company without the spending from time to time. What I mean is, sometimes it’s possible to sit with your friends and not get coffee or whatever, or eat before you come when it’s a group of other people who you know will be ordering. I have coffee with a group of girls regularly on Tuesday nights and only get a drink some of the time. I can make coffee at home a lot cheaper and sometimes I would really only be buying it because I’m there, which is not a good reason. Bryan has lunch with a group of guys from church every Thursday in a local mall food court. Back when we first started (And even still sometimes!), he would bring his own lunch and eat at the table with them. They used to make fun of him, but now several other guys have taken FPU and started doing the same thing!

 

  • Cut out anything else extra. Monthly subscription boxes? Cut ’em. Regular music buying? Stop it. Gym memberships even? Buy INSANITY and work out from home for a short time while paying stuff off. All of these sacrifices suck, yes, but remember that it’s only for a short time and it is SO WORTH IT in the end. Plus, like I’ve stated above, it is totally possible to find creative measures to make it suck less.

 

  • If you have the time, coupon. Yes, this takes dedication, but it’s kind of like throwing money away if you have time and don’t anyway. I started it and then stopped because of the time factor, but now that I am coming home from my job, I plan on starting back up again. There are lots of websites and free tools to get started. My favorite one is http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com.

 

  • Give each other/yourself loads and loads of grace. This crap is hard, and everyone will tell you that you’re crazy for trying. Don’t let it discourage you. I can’t tell you how many fights, breakdowns, and minor relapses we each have had that set us back, but we always forgave each other, recommitted, and got back on the train. Give each other grace and forgiveness for past/current mistakes as well. It was freaking hard to accept that ALLLLLL of this debt that Bryan had accumulated before I even knew he existed was now on my shoulders as well. It took a while to forgive him for that and get to the point where I was as driven as he was to get rid of it. Thankfully, Bryan was a lot more forgiving and patient for my unwillingness than I was for his debt mistakes.

You will survive, I promise.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too hard or not worth it. I am standing here today with so much freedom telling you that IT TOTALLY IS.

If you’re just starting out in your journey, I want to really encourage you to pick some sort of learning material. Obviously, I am a big supporter of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, but there are others as well. You just want to make sure you pick one that is based on your personal values-system and beliefs, and that ultimately DOES NOT BELIEVE IN BEING IN DEBT.

People have all kinds of opinions about Dave Ramsey as a person, and I’d love to talk to you about it sometime if you want, but regardless of personal beliefs, he is an expert and his methods are TRIED AND TRUE to work, if for no other reason than giving you a head start and getting you and your partner on the same page when it comes to finances. Bryan and I teach FPU at our church now, so if you are in the NWA area and want to take it, please let me know! We’ve had all kinds in our class. Singles, older people, engaged couples, Christians, non-Christians, etc.

 

This was part of our first graduating class of FPU!

This was part of our first graduating class of FPU!

I have lots more tips and tricks to share if you want them. I hope our story encourages you just like others’ stories did us. I would LOVE  to talk more about it with you. Just let me know :).

Love, Alex

Is This Thing On?

I’m still a little raw about the fact that we just lost to Germany, but in honor of the person from Germany who viewed my blog today, I’ll be nice. Plus we advance anyway. I BELIEVE. OOO ESS AH! OOO ESS AH!

While we’re on th subject of people viewing my blog, to the person who found me via the search “Drank before I knew I was pregnant,” you should know that I had two margaritas the night I found out I was. Pre pee-stick of course.

…Anyways. Just wanted to share a new little adventure of mine.

Let me start by saying that public speaking scares me as much as the next person. We can’t all punch fear in the face as well as Jon Acuff. However, I’ve always been pretty good at it. This is not a self-evaluation. I was told all throughout my schooling journey that I sounded like a news-reporter when I spoke and that it was all so clear and eloquent and stuff. Such a sexy compliment amiright? This provided confidence makes me like it zero percent more, but it has steered me to dream of radio or voiceover work someday. And maybe… when I grow up A LOT… I’ll be cool with doing speaking jobs.

I am happy to say that I’m beginning to make one of those dreams come true!

voiceover

Thaaaat’s right. I’m starting to do voiceover work! Like for money and stuff!

After recording the outro for my awesome husband’s podcast: Go Rogue with Bryan and Eric, other people became interested in my voice, which is super cool. Also, if you want to hear my outro, click on that link. Don’t do this, because you should definitely listen to the whole episode. But if you like…Don’t have time or something and just want to hear my part, you can just fast-forward to the end of one of them. Then go back later and listen to every episode ever. Because they’re good, y’all.

You can also soon go to the Sams Club website and hear me on a mattress commercial. I’ll post the link when it’s live. Yay!

I’m pretty excited about this, and if you like what you hear and want to hire me, you totally should. I’m just saying, I’m about to be unemployed. And I do mean unemployed. As in, quitting my job before #LilFitt makes his/her appearance. So I’ll only be “jobless” for a few months and I’m of the stance that once that baby comes, I will no longer be “jobless.” Can I get an AMEN for SAHM/WAHM swag?

Any readers do voiceover work? Tips and Tricks?

…And Then I Came up Short.

So I had my first weigh-in since my little change of heart that led to this post, and I only lost 1.5 pounds this week, and not 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 like I was hoping.

Naturally, I freaked out and wanted to cry, but then Bryan was like “Good job Babe! You didn’t gain any weight and you actually lost some even though we haven’t been to the gym in the past couple of days and we didn’t eat great with my parents last night. You should be proud of yourself!”

I wasn’t proud of myself. I hate that some people can like, sneeze and lose weight. OR DO NOTHING AND LOSE WEIGHT. I hate that I have to try. I hate that I can’t eat and COOK what I want. I hate that I didn’t lose 5 pounds instead of 2. I hate I hate I hate.

I seriously let this ruin my morning.

It’s slowly hitting me, though, that he’s right. I SHOULD be proud of myself. I did eat not-so-great last night. I did succumb to not working out for the past two days because we’ve had stuff going on. And I still lost weight!

I’m slowly becoming as proud of myself as Bryan apparently is.

I am reminded of how I am such a brat to God. I try to be so independent, and worry instead of pray, and I don’t trust Him completely, and I don’t see the world and my life through a lens of Him like I should. And then I act all upset that I can’t do it all on my own. I let it get me down and I kick myself for not getting it right, like ever. Much like that whole weight thingie, it makes me feel like I will never get better or change or grow, and something in me refuses to see any growth that actually is there!

Ugh! This refinement thing is so hard in all areas of life! And yes I know that the definition of refinement implies the difficulty and pain. My blog is called REFINING ALEX, duh. I’m still allowed to forget and be shocked and surprised by it right? AAAGGH.

I AM learning though, I am. I am better with my weight and self-control than I was yesterday, and I’m still going to strive for that to be true tomorrow. In the same way, I can only hope that I grow more in God each day. And God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, in fact, He’s counting on me not to be, and He already has it covered.

I turned down a cookie the other day. A chocolate chip cookie. A FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE. I am so Superwoman right now y’all. I don’t even care that I’m I’m self-complementing. I can do this.

I’m not giving up. I will be there.

I Will Be There.

In light of my last post, I have some thoughts and brags about my fitness/nutrition over the past couple of days. You see, in true Alex form, I typed that post on Friday, and didn’t get around to posting it until yesterday. Ahhh the life of a type-A perfectionist. Forced procrastination, I know you’re all jealous. That being said, I’ve had 3 days to put my awesome plan into effect. GET EXCITED FOR ANOTHER LIST!

Thought 1: I genuinely feel like I am more motivated now than ever before, even more than my wedding, and that’s saying something!

Thought 2: I have learned that I will not die or have a conniption if I skip on the pizza we ordered into work, the leftover mac and cheese that I made from scratch (OMG), and the sweet tea. Who knew?!

Thought 3: You guys, I did it, I caved. I vowed that I was done with MyFitnessPal forever and now I’m not anymore. It’s not that I don’t love the app/program, it’s great! It’s just that I become crazy uptight OCD girl while I’m using it, and then I get soooo disappointed in myself when I go over my calorie limit or something. I’m starting clean and trying to use it as a guideline, not a lifeline. I also started weighing myself again, another thing that I vowed to stop doing. This time around, I am weighing myself on Friday mornings. That’s it. No more obsessive “Oh my gosh I didn’t lose any weight in the last 24 hours!”

There was Dickies BBQ. I limited myself. I am awesome right now.

There was Dickies BBQ. I limited myself. I am awesome right now.

Thought 4: They may be cheesy, fake, ridiculous, what-have-you, but I LOVE those little fitness inspirational meme things! They really do work and get me going. Yesterday during my workout, I pulled up my Pinterest board “Fittin Getting Fit” (Yes I came up with that all on my own and it is in the rankings for most clever thing I’ve thought of, thank you for asking.) and scrolled through the pins to keep me motivated when I wanted to quite literally throw in the towel. They are also great for the times before the gym when you’re reeeeeally thinking that Chinese, the couch, and my shows sound just wonderful.

Thought 5: My ultimate goal is to be a size 6 by the end of June, the time of my brother’s wedding. Apparently I am so ridiculously lazy and inefficient in getting crap done that I need teeny-tiny baby goals as well. The other day, my husband, who is a freaking genius and knows me so well, told me I should estimate the amount of weight I would need to lose by then and divide it up to see how many pounds per week it would be. So I did! And it turns out I only need to lose 2 pounds a week which is TOTALLY doable! Now that my goal seems within reach, I know I can absolutely do this! (And yes I am aware that this seems like a fairly “duh” concept, but as someone who is afraid of the scale, pounds aren’t exactly on the forefront of my mind.)

Last thought: I am learning to use what used to squelch my enthusiasm and make me sad to motivate me even more. I’ll admit it, I am usually THAT girl looking at other women in the gym and comparing myself to them. Now I still do that, but instead of wanting to quit because of it, I say to myself that I will be there. I WILL BE THERE. I WILL BE THERE.

Although this is not a fitness blog, I am committing to be open and honest on there about my progress. I may even post some before photos in the near future! I’ll be working on the courage for that one. 🙂