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2020 Vision Board and Redefined Goals

It is here: 2020! A new decade lies before us, full of possibility. There is nothing like a year when more than one of the numbers turns on the year dial. Now is the time as well for resolutions and reflections. At at 12:31 am on 1/1/2020, I can honestly say I have not had any sugar or junk food all year!!

Thank you to anyone who has been with me on this journey thus far. I am sad to say the past couple of months were less than stellar. A series of stressful events led to bad eating, which in turned led to a lowered immune system. I ended up getting sick 4 different times! Nothing serious, but this last cold left me useless on the couch for a week. The week of Christmas none the less. I had big plans with the family, but they all had to be pushed aside to make way for my weak and wheezing body.

This year, I made a “vision board” for my goals. The board features a weight loss tracker, an area for notes for each month, my goals, and some motivational quotes. I plan to hang the board somewhere where I can see it daily and be reminded of my goals.

Weight Loss Tracker

One of the features of my board is a weight loss tracker. I took picture of the beach from an old calendar I had. I put tick marks along the bottom in 5 pound increments, all the way to the desired 50 pounds I would like to use. I have a dolphin picture taped to the beach, and I plan on moving it as I lose the pounds. I hope to see the dolphin “swim” across the ocean as I lose more and more weight. 🙂

My weight tracker

Monthly Tracker

I have spots on the board to keep track of my weight and any other vitals I want to record. By having it posted on the wall, I hope to be reminded of my goals daily. One of my goals is to be more mindful of what I am eating, so by seeing something to remind me to be mindful should help.

Thank you for everyone who has joined my blog and journey! You are the best. I hope that 2020 is a good year for you. 🙂

-Aurora Best

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Fitness Wish List 2019

Note: This page contains Affiliate Links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

It is that time of year! The time of year when your loved ones ask you what you would like for Christmas. This year I am going for a fitness and health oriented list. As the new year begins and I start doing even more, there are a couple of items that would help me along the way.

#1 – Digital Scale: Right now I do have a scale. However, it is over 20 years old and starting to rust. I am not sure how accurate it is anymore, plus I would hate to cut myself on a rusty scale! I have seen the new digital scales, and a lot of them look great! I found one on Amazon that not only takes your weight but can also check your body fat.

Product: REDOVER – Bluetooth Body Fat Scale

#2 – Meal Prep Containers: As part of my get-healthy plan, I have been trying to do meal preping. That way when I go to work I have already packed a healthy meal and do not have to eat out. These meal prep containers I found have three different sections, which will allow me more options for packing. Also, it comes in a 20 pack so I could meal prep breakfast as well as my lunch for the whole week.

Product: Meal Prep Containers [20 Pack]

#3 – Acid Reflux Pillow: Yes, apparently there is such a thing as an Acid Reflux Pillow! When you have GERD, sleeping flat can cause real problems. Bile from the stomach can back up into the esophagus. I have been trying to combat this by using extra pillows. However, I recently discovered that someone had come up with a solution to this issue! A special acid reflux pillow: It is pretty much a big, soft wedge you can use to keep your head elevated. According to the reviews, it works well. I have never tried anything similar, but it would be nice to try it and see if it helped!

Product: 7.5″ Wedge Pillow for Acid Reflux

#4 – BP Cuff: Since I want to track my heart health, it would be nice to have a blood pressure cuff I can use at home. Right now I have to use the one at the local grocery store (which according to the sticker on it hasn’t been calibrated since 2014). Plus, if I had my own, I wouldn’t have to worry about the considerable amount of germs that may be in a public BP cuff. 🙂 The one that caught my eye is one that is used on the wrist. I have used one like it before, and it worked pretty well.

Product: Digital Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

#5 – Pregnancy Workout DVD: Here’s hoping there is a baby in the near future! For my first little one, I was unsure what exercises are safe while pregnant. I did a lot of research to find ones that would work well with pregnancy. A DVD of pregnancy-safe exercises would be great to stick in the player first thing in the morning.

Product: 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates and Denise Austin: Firm and Fit Pregnancy

#6 – Jump Rope: I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but back when I was in 1st grade there was a big push to get kids to jump rope. Each kid would get a sparkly new jump rope and encouraged to use it. The exercise was supposed to be good for your heart. Now as an adult, I have read that it is still true! Not only is jumping rope good for the heart, but it is a good way to work out the core muscles as well. It also works for people of all fitness levels, which is perfect for a beginner like me. 🙂

Product: DEGOL Skipping Rope

#7 – Weights: Although getting toned arms is not one of my foremost goals, I would like to develop some upper body strength. Whenever there is something heavy that needs lifted, I usually bow out. I even have a hard time holding my little one for long periods of time. I found a weight set that has 2, 3, and 5 pound weights. They even have a nifty stand that comes with. This is the kind of “weight training” I need to start out with. Something simple so I don’t over-strain those muscles. 🙂

Product: Amazon Basics Neoprene Workout Dumbbell Weights

I hope this list will help you find something for your budding fitness guru on your list!

-Aurora

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20 Blog Followers – Thank You!

I started this blog less than a month ago. I started it so I could have a place to post my progress with my self improvement journey. I figured if I had a place to put down my progress, it would help hold me accountable to my goals. I honestly didn’t think though that anyone would be interested in my goals or my progress. I was so surprised when I saw that people were following my blog! Today I hit 20 followers on WordPress. I am not sure if that is a lot of followers or not for a month old blog, but I know that it makes me feel happy to know there are that many people who chose to follow my progress. It makes me more motivated to make progress and become a better and healthier person. To everyone out there, thank you for joining me on this trip! You are the best. 🙂

Screenshot of my good news. 🙂

-Aurora

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Programming a Honeywell Thermostat

On my quest of self improvement, one of my goals was to be more self sufficient. This includes learning how to work the thermostat in our house. I will admit: The confounded contraption is confusing and not at all user friendly. My husband set the schedule on it, and I have just always left it. If I wanted to turn the heat up, I would just press buttons until I either gave up or something happened.

No more! I not only learned how to set the schedule and adjust the temperature, but I created instructions and added to my home procedure manual for future reference (I don’t trust myself to remember how to do this in the future).


Honeywell Thermostat Programming

  1. System: Used to turn on the thermostat settings.
  2. Fan: “On” means the fan will run all the time. “Auto” means the fan will only run when the heat kicks on.
  3. Set: Used for setting the schedule.
  4. Hold: Used for setting the temperature apart from the schedule.
  5. Run: Used for taking the temperature off of manual mode and back to schedule.
  6. Arrows: Used to set the day, time, and temperature.

How the Schedule works

Before setting the schedule, I had to wrap my brain around how the programming worked. This was the part that was most confusing for me, since the system assumes that nobody is in the house during the week day. Pretty much, you set what time you want the heat to come on in the morning and at what temperature. You then tell the time you leave the house, and at what temperature you want the house to stay at while you are away. Then you tell it what time you will come home, and have a temperature set for the rest of the evening. You then tell it your bedtime, and what temperature you want the house at while you are sleeping. It will stay that temperature until you are “awake” again and they cycle completes. You may want to set all your schedules 30 minutes early, so the house is warm before you are awake/home from work. Knowing that ahead of time might help with setting the schedule.

Setting the Schedule

  1. Press the “Set” button
  2. Set the time that you get up in the morning (or what time you want the want the temperature to come on in the morning): Use the up and down arrows anytime you would like to adjust the time
  3. Press the “Set” button again
  4. Set the temperature you would like it to be for the morning: Use the up and down arrows anytime you would like to adjust the temperature
  5. Press the “Set” button again
  6. Indicate what time you will be leaving the house
  7. Press the “Set” button again
  8. Set the temperature you would like it to be during the day
  9. Press the “Set” button again
  10. Set the time that you will be coming home (or the temperature you would like it to be for the evening)
  11. Press the “Set” button again
  12. Set the temperature you would like it to be for the evening
  13. Press the “Set” button again
  14. Set the time you will go to bed
  15. Press the Set button again
  16. Set the temperature you would like it to be all night while you are in bed.
  17. Press the “Run” button.

Setting the Temperature Manually

  1. Using the arrows, adjust the temperature to where you would like it to be. If you don’t do anything else, it will stay that temperature until the next time the schedule kicks in. For example, if you set it manually to 79 degrees at 4:00 pm, and you have it set on the schedule to go to 71 degrees at 6:00 pm, it will stay at 79 degrees until 6:00. At that point it will adjust down to 71 degrees.
  2. If you do not want it to revert back to the schedule, press the “hold” button after you set the temperature.
  3. If after pressing the “hold” button you want it to revert back to the schedule, press the “run” button.

Hope this is helpful for anyone else struggling with their thermostat!

-Aurora

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When a box meal equates to a GERD blunder

Note: While reading this, please keep in mind cooking is not my friend. I could burn almost anything, and trying to season things does not usually work well for me. This was an attempt to fix that with mixed results. 🙂

The other day, I was in the grocery store and passed a freezer chest with meal kits in it. It was one of those kits that has all the ingredients and instructions on how to make the meal. It had chicken, cheese, seasoning, scallops, and more in it. They were also having a sale on them!

I decided that this would be a fun way to try making something healthy. It might also be a good way to improve my cooking skills (I would put cooking as one of my top 5 weaknesses). 🙂 I took a look at the options. I will be honest: I couldn’t pronounce half of the gourmet cuisines in the freezer case. I am not well versed in fancy food. I ended up with the Chicken Adobo Flautas. The picture on the front looked good. There were tomatoes in the picture, but I figured I could pick them off for my plate. Note: I realize now that I probably should have read the ingredients list a little closer….

My ready made meal kit, ready for cooking!

When I opened the box, I was excited to see how all the ingredients were in perfect proportion. No guessing amounts. However, I was dismayed to see not only tomatoes but a lime and spicy seasoning. However, I decided to still try it. Right away I burned the chicken (not that unusual for me) and set off the fire alarm. I also realized the recipe called for juicing the lime and soaking the tomato in it. Tomatoes are bad for GERD, and so is citrus. So these citrus soaked tomatoes had heartburn written all over it. To top it off, both the chicken and the sour cream had spicy components to them. I debated even trying it, but it smelled so good and I didn’t rally have any other good dinner options.

The finished meal! It looks a little different than the one on the box….

I tried taking a few bites, and it tasted good! So I ate a bit more. It wasn’t long before I was in agony. My stomach felt like it had fire ants in it. I gave the rest of my food to my husband, and went to my trusty Tums. It took awhile before my stomach decided to simmer down. Although I was in pain, I learned a valuable lesson. Before I decide to buy another meal kit I should really check the ingredients list. 🙂

-Aurora

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Coping with a Sugar Addiction

I have always had a sweet tooth. However, it has only been in recent years that the single sweet tooth has developed into a sweet mouth. I believe it came from stress. I started using sugar as a way to deal with the stress of my job. I don’t think I was aware of it at first. About 2 1/2 years ago I got another job, one that was far less stressful. However, by that time I think the damage was done. I was addicted and there was no going back.

First, I looked up to see if sugar addiction was really a thing. Turns out it is. Sugar can feed some of those same addiction genes, and manifest addiction symptoms. It can start running your life, as I fear that it has started to run mine.

Here is an example: Today I ate 3 sweet rolls, gummy worms, 2 cups of Coke, a large piece of chocolate cake, and 1 1/2 scoops of ice cream. That was just in one day. Even as I type this out I can’t believe I actually ate all that and don’t have diabetes. You eat one thing, and you almost forget you had it because you are still craving more. You don’t even want to eat a meal unless there is going to be something sugary and sweet in it.

Not only do I want to break my sugar addiction for my own health, but I want to set a good example for my little one. I don’t want him to think any of this is normal.

I took a sugar addiction quiz to see what would happen. I scored very, very low. There was only one question that didn’t put me squarely in the addicted category (and even that one was on the borderline). Do I hide sweets? Yes. Do I prefer to eat my desserts in private where no one can judge me? Oh yes. Do I make plans around a way to get my hands on some sweet and tasty morsel? Sadly yes.

I have tried to stop before, but always rebounded. This time I hope to curb my addiction for good. Not only do I want to give up my sugar addiction for my own health, but I want to set a good example for my little one. I don’t want him to grow up with the same issues I have. I also don’t want him to think that any of this is normal. Imagine trying to explain why mommy has a secret stash of treats that she doesn’t share with anyone else!

I realize that I may need to give up sugar entirely, which would be hard. Sugar is everywhere, and can be hard to avoid. I also hate the thought of missing out on fun treats. However, if that is what it takes I will try to make it work. To start with though, I plan on just cutting back on sweets instead of eliminating them entirely. I have read that cutting out sugar cold turkey can backfire in the worst kind of way.

As I go down this new journey, I hope I can beat this sugar addiction and start living my best life. Not only for me, but for my family as well.

-Aurora

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Content Coming Soon!

I am working on getting content for this section, so please keep checking back! Thank you to everyone who visits my blog – you are the best. 🙂

Peppers
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My Diet Plan – Part 2

The DASH Diet Breakdown

How much you can eat on the DASH diet depends on how many calories you want to intake. If you would like to read the full scoop of what the DASH diet entails, the Mayo Clinic has a great article on it. You can visit it here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456 .

I really like that the plan is pretty simple to follow. I also like that I don’t have to give up carbs or milk (which would be hard for me to do right now). 🙂

For where I want to be, which is at the 2,000 calorie mark, these are the servings I need to be eating:

  • Grains: 6-8
  • Vegetables: 3-4
  • Fruits: 4-5
  • Milk Products: 2-3
  • Meats: 6 or less
  • Nuts: 4-5 per week
  • Fats and oils: 2-3
  • Sweet and Added Sugars: 5 or less per week

Since I probably don’t need to be at the full 2,000 calories, I am going to eat on the low end of the serving options. I am not going to be measuring out my food for the time being, and just “eyeball” the amounts. If it doesn’t look like I am loosing weight, or if nothing else is improving, I will start measuring out my food instead of guesstimating.

I am excited to start this and see how it progresses! Thank you to anyone who is following along. 🙂

-Aurora

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My Diet Plan – Part 1

Alright, it is time to get serious. I know I need to be eating better, that the person who works at the local Einstein’s Bagels should not know me on a first name basis. It has been a slow road down this hole of fast and convenient foods. I know better: I know a lot about nutrition and how the body works. I used to be much better about my diet. However, commitments and time constraints had me making every excuse why I should just head over to DQ for my lunch.

My goals for this diet have several prongs:

  1. Get my GERD (diagnosed) under control
  2. Have a diet that will help with heart disease (no diagnosis, but a family history).
  3. Try to reverse any damage already done to my heart
  4. Prevent diabetes (a strong fear I will get it)
  5. Beat my sugar addiction (self diagnosed)
  6. Prepare my body for pregnancy (went through it once with issues)

Breaking it Down

With all these goals, it was tough deciding which diet plan I was going to follow. I decided to go with the DASH diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, ” Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan to lower or control high blood pressure” (Mayo Clinic, 2019). I have tried this plan before with good results, and many other members of my family are on it. While I do not have high blood pressure at this time, it runs in the family so I would like to nip HBP in the bud. I have also read that this diet can be good for those with pre-diabetes. Once again, I am not pre-diabetic as far as I know. However, I have a fear that my sugar cravings will one day take it’s toll on my pancreas. To help it out, I want to take the precautionary measures that someone with pre-diabetes may take.

There is mixed research out there on whether or not plaque buildup in the heart can be reversed. However, I found a couple of articles that talked about foods that can help reduce plaque buildup. Because the foods they listed are already considered healthy, I feel there is no harm in incorporating them into my meal plans. No harm in trying!

For GERD, there is no set diet plan. From the research I have done, the best thing to do when you have GERD is to avoid overly acidic food. I will modify the DASH diet to eliminate things like tomatoes, ketchup, citrus items, and such.

With regards to sugar addiction, pretty much the best way to beat that is to cut out sugar. I plan to drastically reduce my sugar intake, which is part of the DASH diet anyways. I hope to curb the sugar cravings naturally with fruit. I feel that this may be one of the toughest parts of this plan. Lets hope it goes well!

Preparing for pregnancy is to take a prenatel vitamin for at least 6 months before getting pregnant. According to the doctor I talked to, it can take that long for the needed vitamins (especially folic acid) to build up in the system. I have been taking a prenatal vitamin, but I have not been very consistent. As part of my plan I want to make sure I am consistently taking the vitamin so I am ready for baby #2.

I will be doing a Part 2 that will have more details of the DASH diet. 🙂 Stay tuned!

-Aurora

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Starting Out: The “Before” Me

This was the post I was not looking forward to. The “before” part where I have to face how far I have let my weight and eating habits slide. I will say – this is the most I have ever weighed in my life – including when I had a 9 pound baby inside me. 188 pounds! For a small person, this is a big number. It is even more confirmation that I need to make this change in my life.

I have never seen the scale go that high before!

Most of what I am trying to conquer is directly affected by weight: Heart disease, pre-diabetes, GERD. The diet I am choosing isn’t specifically designed for weight loss. I assume though that since it will be lower in calories and high fat foods that I will loose weight as a great side effect. If this turns out not to be the case, I may need to look into modifying my diet even more so I can shed some pounds.

At this point I am working on just my diet. I am afraid adding on too many chances will hurt my progress. After a couple of months on this new diet I will assess my progress and see if the time is right to incorporate exercise into my routine.

Stats as of October 19, 2019

  • Weight: 188
  • BMI: 30.3
  • Weight Classification: Obese
  • Waist Circumference: 43 inches (109 cm)
  • Blood Pressure:

I plan to check my stats once a month, around the same time. For the first month though I am going to check every week, since I feel that the first week will yield the most triumph and heartaches. I am excited to see what happens in the next several months (and a little apprehensive). I am going to do updates in the “Fitness Journal” section of my blog if you would like to check them out.

Thank you everyone!

-Aurora