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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane…

Well not really a jet plane but I am leaving today in a car.
With my sis-in-law.
To Dallas.

After a more than a year now of praying and planning….it's finally here.
I'm waiting for Heather to swing by and pick me up this very moment.

I spent this morning reading over my notes and praying for everyone who will be there…especially the ladies who will end up in my small group. I can't wait to finally see there beautiful faces and hear their stories….whoever they are. 

I aint gonna lie. I've been nervous.
This month has been glorious having so much time with our grandkids with a major wedding that I helped with thrown in there too.  I'm was feeling frazzled. Running on empty.
Thinking….the poor ladies who end up with me are gonna get gipped.  I feel so unprepared.

Then last night my sweet church family gathered around me and prayed over me and for all the ladies who will be there. A sweet peace filled my heart and replaced all the anxiety.
Then later as Nick taught, he shared this verse ….

"If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself"
2 Timothy 2:13

Praise God that it's not about me and my performance.
It's all about Him and His faithfulness. 
I know He will use me this weekend in spite of me…. a wretched, broken sinner.
His grace is amazing. Can't wait to see what He pours into my heart.
Can't wait to meet so many other sisters in Christ.
Can't wait to see some of my dearest friends and just fix my eyes on them.
Can't wait for God to do His thing.

If you think about it at all this weekend, please pray for us.
For transformed lives and that we leave Dallas more like Jesus.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Why I love Stitch Fix.

This month makes my 7th fix.
When I gave it a try the first time, I really thought it was gonna be a one time deal for me.    I mean, I love getting stuff in the mail. And I love surprises even more.  But I'm a serious bargain hunter and am pretty cheap when it comes to what I spend on clothes. So I went into this as a serious skeptic.  And I know some of you are cut from the same cloth as me and prefer clearance racks and thrift stores.  I get that.

So what has made me fall so hard for Stitch Fix? I mean aren't their clothes kinda pricey?
Well kind sorta. But I'll get to that in a minute.

For those of you who don't know about this goodness, let me share in a nutshell what it is.
You sign up, fill out a profile…tell them a little about your style, your body type, and any other tips you want to share.  You can give them links to Pinterest boards and social media accounts so they can check out the stuff you like and see your style. They assign you a personal stylists who then chooses clothes that she thinks you will not only like but will also be flattering to your shape.  I let them know from the beginning that I don't like short hemlines or plunging necklines..that I wasn't crazy about sleeveless stuff but I will wear it occasionally , especially if I can throw on a cardigan with it and that I was in the process of losing weight and my pant size was a little tricky. Plus..I don't have a "set style".  My style is kinda random and eclectic from modern, to classic, to retro, to bohemian and everything else in between. So my poor girl Catherine  had her work cut out for her with me. 

The lowdown is like this. 
You pay $20 for your stylist fee, they send you 5 pieces in a box straight to your door.  You can schedule monthly fixes or whenever you want. Every other month, birthdays…its totally up to you how often you  want them to send you a fix. You get three business days to try them on with stuff in your closet and text pics to your friends  asking their opinion and then you keep what you want or send what you don't like back in a postage paid bag that comes in your fix.  You just have to drop it off in the mail.  If you don't keep anything, they keep the $20 but if you do keep something the $20 goes toward whatever you buy! And if you keep all five pieces you get 25% off the entire fix!

Before I get to cost of the clothes and all that stuff, let me show you what Catherine chose for me this month.  I loved it all. Remember, the longer you stick with it, the more your stylists gets to know you and the more she will get it right. With every fix you get to share what you liked or didn't like about each piece…be very honest and detailed here.  This will help her in choosing clothes for you the next time.  

Piece number one.
 I have been eyeballing all the pretty floral prints that are popping up everywhere and I didn't even ask Catherine to send me that specifically.   I love that.  

 I knew immediately this was a keeper.
 I liked it with my boyfriend jeans and my dark wash dressy jeans.  I wore it with tucked int the other day with a belt and it looked great too.

 Next up was this crocheted tank.  I was super torn about this one.

 I love the details of this…especially the bottom of it!

 It looked great with jeans too and all my Noonday Collection jewelry.
But in the end I decided not to keep it because  it was a little big in the arm holes.  You can't tell from these pics but you could see my bra no matter which kind I tried on with it. This one was a little pricey so for me to justify spending that much money, it had to be perfect. I was kind of bummed because I don't have anything like this in my closet and really liked the bohemian feel of it.  

Next up was this dress.  I like it but honestly was gonna send it back at first glance because she had already sent me a navy striped shirt dress in a previous fix that I had kept.

But then I tried it on.
 I loved it! It had the perfect hemline.  The other dress she had sent fit entirely different and I have to wear tights with it.  This one is long enough to wear alone.  I immediately grabbed my red espadrille wedges that I got for $2 from Dirt Cheap at the end of last summer( Originally from Target). This gave it a nautical feel.  And I'm totally loving anything nautical right now which tells me Catherine must have peeked at my Pinterest board. The fabric is stretchy and comfortable and I can wear flip flops for a really casual look.

So I totally kept this one and anticipate it will be my go-to dress this summer.

Then there was this turquoise cardigan. I loved the color!! But I was thinking I wouldn't keep this one before I even tried it one…just because I have several open faced cardigans that are very similar and I wasn't sure how I felt about the long "points".
But then I styled it with stuff in my closet.
Then I was torn. The points kinda grew on me and already had some really cute stuff to match it. 

 And this was my fifth piece…the dainty little monogram necklace.
They usually send you one accessory in your fix.  It could a necklace, bracelet, earrings, scarf…even  a purse!  Catherine sent me this as a everyday necklace and I loved the length, color and weight of the chain but I wasn't crazy about the "s". (and she picked the s for Stephanie…I know so many of you forget my name is not actually Honey. insert smiley face)  

Oh and back to the turquoise sweater, in the end I decided not to keep it either.  I liked it a lot but didn't love it.   

Now about the prices you are all interested in.  When you fill out your profile, you set the limit on how much you are willing to spend on pieces. I set mine as low as you can go and the average price of stuff in my fixes  is $27- $75.  I have had some pieces that were sent to me that were a little more. Do I spend that much on clothes? Um…No. It killed me to spend $100 on my mother of the bride dress.  Having raised three daughters who all loved fashion as much as I do meant I had to be frugal and resourceful through the years.

I have been shopping for clothes in thrift stores for about 25 years now….long before it was the hip place to shop.  I hit garage sales on a regular basis and only shopped clearance racks.  I didn't even look at anything full price in the stores.  I also learned how to shop my closet and change things up with stuff I already owned and accessorize , accessorize, accessorize!  Throw on an inexpensive scarf and you feel like you have a whole new top!

So what am I doing now buying these high end clothes at full price?
Well Stitch Fix has an amazing thing called referral credits.
Every time someone who uses my referral code orders their first fix, I get $25 dollars in my account!
Shazamm!  That $25 adds up sister and those amazing high quality, high end, boutique style clothes that you thought you could never afford become the best deal you can ever receive!  
How does free sound?  
As much as I love my beloved Dirt Cheap store that y'all hear me talk about where I get new shoes for $2 and dresses for $5…I love free even better.

You can easily enjoy these benefits too.  And you don't have to be a blogger to do it.  My friend, Jessi, shared some great tips in a recent blog post that inspired me to share more of the details of my own stitch fix journey.  Check out her post here to see what she suggests…from pinning pics on pinterest to using social media like Instagram .   I learned a few things myself.  I love that girl…so much that even if you used her for your referral I'd be tickled for her.

I hope this helps in some of the questions you may have had about Stitch Fix.
Of course, if you decide to take the plunge and give it a try, I'd love for you to use my referral code by clicking here.
But I will still love you even if you don't. xoxo

And before I go…I thought I'd share who busted up up on my stitch fix "photo shoot"….
Only the cutest grand kids in the world.  The ones who made me a Honey.
 Paw Paw was keeping them entertained while I snapped a few pics for this post.
Nate was not into looking at the camera.

 But these two were.  Rosalyn had found one of my hats and accessorized her outfit all on her own for her 4-wheeler riding. She even put her own twist on it and decided to wear the fedora backwards.  She's a chip off the old block.

 Then she wanted to take a "real picture"…like  Honey.

Then they wanted to do it again a few days later.

Happy days!  They know how to make this grandma giggle.
And I think they both have a few poses I need to learn for my next stitch fix post!

ps. you can check out my other fixes by clicking the links below.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

41 pounds lighter…how i did it.

I instagrammed this pic last  week and the response was pretty overwhelming.
Thanks for all the encouragement!! Y'all bless me so much much.
The picture on the left was taken after I had already lost 25 pounds so it's not a true before and after pic.  It's more like a "middle and after" pic.  I was basically sharing what a surprise it was to pull that same shirt out of my drawer and have it fit so much bigger.  Had I known what a hit this picture was gonna be I woulda at least fixed my hair a little.  lol.

And you had a ton of questions so I thought I'd write a blog post to answer a few of them.

It seems like everyone wants to know how I did it. I can remember all too well of being in "the hunt"…desperate to lose weight. To find something….some plan or technique that worked for another person and then copy it to the T.  But I think there is danger in doing that.  We set ourselves up for failure when we try to do it exactly the way another person has.  Why?  Because we are all different.  Our bodies are different.  Our  metabolism works differently.  

About 6 years ago I succumbed to turning to a specific program to lose weight.  I remember vividly the night I ordered it after watching an info commercial.  I was the heaviest I had ever been at that point in my life weighing in at 200 lbs and feeling very depressed and discouraged.  I had just finished watching The Biggest Loser for the first time. They had revealed the winner and I was amazed at the transformation.  But sooo depressed and feeling somewhat helpless at that point feeling like I was "too far gone".  But as I was flipping through the channels that night, I came across that infomercial that stopped me dead in my tracks.  The testimonies were amazing.  The transformations were incredible and the plan seemed doable.  It was all based on our metabolism and finding the right food that works for our body types.  I didn't have to order food or anything like that…I prepared and cooked all of my own stuff.  And exercise was part of the plan too. It was basically eating healthy and exercise… good stuff.   

So I ordered the plan.  Nick was behind me 100%.  His support was a huge part of my success on this plan.  You had to eat small meals every 2-3 hrs on this plan so he would grill chicken and pork for me and we would spend hours in the kitchen weighing portions and putting them in ziplocks for me to pull out quickly and conveniently.  You had to eat so many carbs, proteins and vegetables at certain times of the day, etc.   No dairy, no sugar, no salt and a very limited amount of certain types of carbs.  I walked every day plus did some toning exercises three days a week. It was a very healthy plan and I followed it to a T.  I don't know if it was my resolve to lose weight or the fact that I had spent so much money on a diet system so I was determined to make it work.  I did not fudge in one single thing they instructed me to do.

And it worked. The pounds just fell off. I lost 50 lbs in 4 months and I felt and looked better than I had in years.
  The problem was I had set myself up to fail because the reality of living a lifetime preparing and eating food in this manner was unrealistic.  I carried a little insulated lunchbox with my chicken and banana in it everywhere I went. Toting my own salad dressings in my purse got old. And even though the success to following this plan was proven in my own life, I just got bored with the food.   Eventually I began to creep back into my old habits and ways of eating.  And eventually the weight began to creep back too.  I gained it all back plus some.

So what is different this time?  What's gonna stop that from happening again?
Because this time, I didn't follow a plan.  I didn't read a certain diet religiously and follow exactly what someone else did for success.    
I didn't want restrictions from food.  I wanted freedom from food.

I wanted to make changes that were realistic for my lifestyle and my family.  We LOVE food around here.  We love cooking it and we love eating it.  We love serving food to other people. I knew I didn't want to set myself up for failure again by being bound to a plan that I would eventually become bored with. 

So for those of you who have asked what I did to lose the weight and what I am eating now, please read the next few things with caution. I am not an expert.  I don't have all the answers.  I am not following a certain anything.  I don't want anyone trying to follow the "Honey Diet" because there is no such thing.  I eat a wide variety of things and even some things that are considered fattening in the "diet world". But I do it all in moderation.   I will share with you some of the changes we made around here and how they have benefited us but just know your journey may be different.  You have to find what works for you.

For me, there were no shortcuts or jumpstarts.  I wanted to make the kind of changes that would stick for a lifetime.  So it's basically eating healthy and exercise. As friend of mind put it… it's a marathon not a sprint and that is how I approached it all.

**I'm not bashing all diet plans… There are plenty that are helpful and very healthy.  I'm just saying that I personally cannot stay on specific plan for a lifetime.  

The Food
What we DO eat:
  • We basically eat whole foods. 
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables are a staple around here.  Very few things from a can or box.
  • We try to eat stuff that only has one or two ingredients listed on the back. 
  • Lots of protein in the form of chicken and fish.
  • Lots of venison…it's super lean
  • Lots of fresh farm eggs.  And yes….we eat the yolk.  Since discovering Nick's diabetes, he eats a boiled egg every morning.  We were bad about skipping breakfast which is a no no for him now.
  • We still eat fats we just make sure they are good fats. Avocados are a staple now.  I smear them on everything.  I cook with coconut oil and olive oil.
  • We eat brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans and whole oats.
  • Almonds are our favorite snack.
  • Plain greek yogurt.  I eat it with  fruit, in smoothies, and in recipes that call for creamy stuff like sour cream and mayonnaise. I've made salad dressing with it…. Love that stuff.
  • We prefer to cook our own chicken but I do keep a bag of pre-cooked grilled chicken that I buy at Sam's to keep in the freezer.  I use it on days when I'm in a hurry and don't have time to cook.  I toss some chicken in salads, in wraps with peppers, and in stir fry with vegetables.  It is a perfect "fast food" and worth the splurge in the extra money it costs.

What we DON'T eat
  • Sugar. We have limited the sugar pretty much completely. Especially now with Nick's diabetes. We don't keep sweet tea in the fridge anymore. Nor do we keep all the sweet snacks in the house.  Except for my chocolate stash.  I have a piece of that once or twice a week.  Just a square.  The reality of me never eating chocolate again is ludicrous. So I've learned portion control.  I don't have to eat the entire candy bar to be satisfied.  
  • I quit using Splenda  in my coffee. We started using Truvia, which is a natural sweetener made from the stevia plant. We tried several different brands and found this one to taste the best…no aftertaste. We use real half and half instead of the processed powered creamer. 
  • We no longer fry anything…Which is huge for this southern family.  I mean, fried deer steaks and smothered potatoes is one of the first meals every good lil southern wifey learns to cook for their man. And let's not even talk about the fried chicken.  But I've come up with great alternatives to both….I promise recipes soon.
  • We don't keep Cokes in the house. And by Cokes, I  am referring to any carbonated soft-drink not just Coca-cola.  It's pretty much water, water and more water around here. 
  • We don't eat bread.  I used to have to serve a bread with every meal.   Whether it was a roll, biscuit, french bread or corn bread…a meal wasn't complete without a little bread.  Well we have broke free from that mind set and it is amazing!  Freedom for me because I could scarf down 4 brown and serve rolls with my roast and gravy without batting an eye.   We do occasionally eat Ezeikiel Bread which is sprouted bread and Joseph's pita bread which is low in carbs…but that is not everyday.
  • We quit drowning our salads in dressing.  It kills me to think how we would sabotage our nice big delicious salads with all the dressing that covered up all the flavor of the veggies and totally wrecked any health benefits it had.  Now I either use some fresh guacamole or hummus if I'm wanting something a little more than the balsamic vinegar we usually use. (my guac is basically avocados mashed up with a little olive oil, garlic powder and lime)
  •  We stay away from white rice, pasta and white potatoes but have learned of plenty of alternatives to these when needing side dishes for my meals.  Brown rice, zucchini, cauliflower and sweet potatoes can all be used instead and are so good and delicious.
This was my first time to make this.  I died at how good it was.   Recipe to come soon!

 We still eat our favorite dishes, we have just tweaked them and now cook them in a healthier way.  We discovered that cauliflower is  the magic veggie…like the holy grail of whole foods. I've made mock fried rice, cheese sticks and mashed potatoes using it.  I still gotta make that pizza crust I see floating around on Pinterest.   

For us, it hasn't been about depriving ourselves of anything.  It's been about discovering new things that we like just as much and even better.  You can still enjoy eating food while losing weight and being healthy. I  promise to begin posting some of our recipes and share some of my menus and products we've found.

The Exercise

So many have asked what I do to exercise and my schedule and all that.   When I was in intense weight loss mode,  I walked/ran on the treadmill  5 days a week averaging 3-4 miles each time.  I made it non-negotiable.  I did it when I wanted to and did it when I didn't want to.  I used the "Couch to 5k" app on my phone and gradually worked myself up to running the entire 50 minutes I was on it.  

Many have asked what I listen to while I run.  Well I don't have these amazing times of worship like so many of you runners who inspire me so much….y'all who listen to worship music as you run through beautiful areas of God's creation.  But what has worked for me is to find a show on Netflix that I really like and watch it on my iPad while I'm running.  I ONLY allow myself to watch it while I'm on the treadmill.  This is nonnegotiable too…I haven't fudged one time and watched it unless I'm running.  So I will have to attribute some of my success to Joan, Megan, Betty and Peggy.  I love, love, love getting inspired by their fashion while I'm sweating.  Shallow I know, but it worked for me. 

But that's the thing….do what works for YOU.  Heading outside and running wear I live is kinda dangerous for me.  It is very rural and lots of huge log trucks are up and down our road.  We live too far out to drive to a nice area to run every day so for me,  the treadmill was the best solution.  And the thought of running in place staring at a wall listening to music, even thought I LOVE music,  has no appeal to me.  I wouldn't look forward to it and therefore wouldn't stick to it.  Find what works for you and do it!  The key is just doing something!

Now that I'm in maintaining mode and I don't have much more I want to lose, I have shaken things up a bit and experimented with how I get my exercise in.  The treadmill is still my primary source and fave  but now I added a few other things in the mix.   

I have encouraged the ladies at my church to get active and now we do a dvd together on wednesday nights before church starts.  It's fun seeing them get results and the accountability is awesome for all of us.   We have a diverse group and I LOVE that!  None of us do it perfect but we are doing it and that's what counts.  They are such troopers…Ms Pat stops on her way home from work and never even goes home on Wednesdays until after church.  Carolyn has special needs but she gets out there with her weights and gets her work out on.  Mama Rob is almost 80 and can exercise cirlces around us.  The rest of us in our group all have our challenges that could keep us from being there but we are committed and that's what it takes.

I haven't done anything fancy when it comes to my exercise.  It's all basic stuff.  I haven't joined a gym or bought a lot of equipment…just a used treadmill for $75.   
It doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment…just a lot of commitment.

The Results
I know y'all like numbers so I'm gonna get transparent here…

Some have asked how long it has taken me to lose my weight. 
  • I started on April 15th of last year weighing in at 209 pounds and wearing 14's and 16's in my clothes.  That was a record high for me.  
  • I quickly dropped 12 pounds the first month and consistently lost an average of 5-7 lbs each month thereafter until around 3 months ago and then it just kind of hit a plateau with the my weight.   
  • But even though the weight loss began to taper off, my pants size was still shrinking.  I was beginning to see the results of all the running and toning.
  • As of the last time I weighed, I'm down 41 pounds, weighing in at 168 pounds and wearing size 10's. I have even gotten into a few size 8's so I'm pretty tickled about that.  I'm a tall girl (5'9") and have always weighed more than I look so I don't let the number on the scale freak me out. 
  •  I only weighed myself once a week in the beginning and now I only weigh myself every now and then.  The scale can mess with your mind ladies.  Regretfully I didn't measure myself in the beginning to know how many inches I've lost but going from a size 16 to 8 is enough to make me happy. 

Well there you have it…That's it folks in a nutshell.
Eat clean and exercise.  That's my secret.  
No plans.  No diets. 
 I hope this encourages someone today.  Hang in there. Keep on keeping on.  

And before I go here are some before and after pics for you….because who doesn't like a good before and after pic?  I can't believe them myself.  
 January 2013.                                    October 2013.
   April 2013                                       October 2013

Same shirt! 

I hope something I shared encourages you today to make a change so you can begin to enjoy the rewards of a healthy lifestyle too.
 It's the best.
Can't wait to hear your story!


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