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By Jessica Collins

Make Your Own Sunshine Poem

Last week, I talked about how healing the sun is and I promised that there would be a poem about how much I am drawn to the sun. Here it is, in pinnable form:

Sun Spots Poem by Jessica Collins Flashfit Trainer

Like I pointed out in my sunshine post, I am just drawn to the sunlight. I long to be outside in it, when it’s warm. In fact, this past Saturday, when the weather was stunning for a Wisconsin winter day in March, I rolled a picnic blanket out on our deck and took a nap in the sun. Rayna was napping and Kayne was gone fishing, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend some alone time in the sun. I gravitate toward sunny windows and run around opening all the blinds that anyone closes in our house. This poem encapsulates that feeling for me. Hope you like it!

Let me know what you think!

Feel free to share on Pinterest or other social media.

Weekly Food and Fitness: What To Do When You Didn’t Meal Prep

**Hey there, I thought I’d bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it’s easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I’ve been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workouts:


Meal Prep:
None!

Oh my goodness, this week was a bit “off” for me with no meal prep, but I’m hanging in there. We had unexpected company over on Sunday and didn’t get the chance to grocery shop or meal prep like we always do. I definitely don’t eat quite as healthy when this happens. But, I have a few tricks to share on what to do when you haven’t meal prepped, so you can still maintain a healthy diet.

1. Always have some backup food in the freezer or cupboard. I always have a supply of Boca Burgers in the freezer and usually a can of Amy’s soup in the cupboard. I also try to keep a few of those new Protein Steamers on hand. These are not entirely the “cleanest” meals ever, but they’re still very nutritious and a much better alternative.

2. Grab just a handful of ready-to-eat things at the grocery store–or even Kwik Trip! We grabbed eggs, cottage cheese and bananas to fill in my snack gaps for the week. There’s no reason to have to whip up something complicated every week.

3. Use dinner leftovers whenever possible. My hungry boys usually eat up everything we make for dinner, so this one can be a little difficult at times. But if I’m able, I will sneak away a few things before we start eating so I have food for the next day. This helps prevent me from having to go out to eat.

What do you normally do when you haven’t meal prepped for the week?

Make Your Own Sunshine

Can we just put that in quotes and attach my name to it please? Haha! Cuz I just made that up, but it’s so true!

I have always has a strong connection to the light. The first time I remember coming to my own realization that sunshine is medicine was in high school. One day, we had a study hall out in the courtyard, and I just soaked up the sun for about 45 minutes. I remember going back into school and feeling…different. I can’t quite explain how it made me feel except to say I felt lighter and refreshed. I made a conscious connection then between the sunshine and the satisfying feelings I was having, long before people started talking about seasonal affective disorder.

To the contrary, when I worked third shift in college, I started to feel the effects of sunlight deficiency. I never got used to third. Our bodies are not naturally in rhythm with that schedule. I had trouble sleeping during the day, I was morose about missing daylight, and I was so unhappy it made my teeth itch! To feel this opposite end of the spectrum was just as enlightening. I knew exactly how much the sun affected me and I knew that I never wanted to return to this darkness.

I’ve noticed too, that all my worst bouts of anxiety have happened in December, February, etc. So, at my last appointment, I asked my doctor what she thought about light boxes. She gave me an enthusiastic, “I love them!” She whipped the one she carried in her purse out to show me, and a few minutes later I had a script for one in my hands and am now the proud owner of a light box to remove the SAD from winter in Wisconsin, where exposure to sunshine is scarce. And my preliminary observations are that it’s working:

There’s a whole lot of science behind this. Here’s an enlightening article about the sun and health.

So, here I am with a therapeutic 10,000 lux sun maker. I really am making my own sunshine!! I love the sunshine and being in the light. I’m drawn to sunny windows like a cat (new poem about that to come). The sun’s energy just penetrates me in places that no other drug or uplifting tool or mood-boosting strategy could touch. And that, my friends, is a great metaphor for anyone who strives to make each day a little better…and brighter. Heh! Make your own sunshine!

Just thinking out loud, but now that I’m starting to make videos, I’m wondering if my new light box will make a good light box for shooting videos too. Haha!

Do you use a light box? If so, how has it affected you?

Personal Thoughts on Weaning

Rayna is my last baby. Everything she learns is the last “first” I’ll get. Her first steps, her first word, her first wave bye-bye are the last firsts our family will get to experience, making them absolutely delightful and incredibly bittersweet at the same time. It’s a weird feeling knowing the next baby we’ll have in our family will be our grandchildren, so many years from now. I try not to think about that.

This month, Rayna completely weaned. We have only been doing nighttime feedings since she turned one because I wasn’t ready to let go completely, but these past few weeks, Rayna was ready to let me go completely. The last few times I nursed her were a little more forced than I would’ve liked, so it was time. She doesn’t reach for a drink or eagerly cuddle up anymore. My good ole pump that saw me through two kids is long gone. I’ve gone through the last of our storage bags. I feel a little like I’m deserted on the side of the road…

At the same time, I am very proud that we made it this long, that we had a relatively successful journey that many women aren’t able to or don’t get to experience. But this letting go is hard…

See, nursing is a war. It takes profound persistence and pain, extensive google searches and middle-of-the night questions in mommy nursing groups. It takes complete unwavering dedication from just one partner. It takes excruciating pain going into it for the first couple weeks. It takes tons of reading and preparation and research. It takes working around pumping schedules at work and disappointment when someone steals your time slot in the pumping room. It takes memorizing dozens of rules about the where’s, when’s and how long’s of milk storage. It takes constant worry about how much baby is getting, if we have enough stored, if she’s drinking enough while I’m gone, if she’ll even take bottles, and on and on. It takes being the only one getting up in the night for feedings. It takes puddled shirts and let-downs in the middle of Walmart. It takes shopping for a new upper body wardrobe to suit the endowment. It takes nights of getting soaked and more pain. It takes not going away from home for more than two hours at a time for awhile. Rayna and I, we fought like bandits with bloody knuckles to get to this point, so it makes my heart bleed again to have to let it go.

Nursing offers the opportunity to stare into that beautiful face every few hours, every single day. It offers healing touch and the beautiful companionship of unconditional love. It offers nurturing and relationship building. It creates indestructible bonds of trust. It fine tunes a mother’s instinct and intuition. If offers wisdom about and complete immersion in the life of another person. It gives you those sweet moments of sleeping babies in your arms. Not to mention reveling in all the wonderful benefits of that milky medicine. (I was even able to contribute 278 ounces to the nourishment of another baby when my freezer got too full!)

If you study the science of breast milk, it truly is one of life’s miracles. The content of milk alone is enough evidence for me of God’s existence. It changes as baby’s needs change. It pumps out antibodies when it senses baby getting sick. It produces more fat when baby needs to grow. It just automatically produces exactly what baby needs with complete and utter perfection. And I won’t get to experience or appreciate this again.

This week, right now even, there have been tears. There have been heavy-laden sighs. There has been one incremental move away from my daughter’s dependency on me. It’s been much harder than it was with my son since I know this time I won’t get to do this again. I wasn’t ready for this…

The phrase “they get big so fast” is so overused and yet no one can stop saying it or ever will because of the heavy truth and continual astonishment behind it. They really do grow so fast…

Weekly Food and Fitness

**Hey there, I thought I’d bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it’s easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I’ve been alternating steady state and interval training.


Workouts

  • Monday: 30 min arms
  • Tuesday: 30 min interval run
  • Wednesday: 30 min legs (workout below)
  • Thursday: 30 min run
  • Friday
    • 30 min Tracy Anderson Precision Toning arms, abs and butt
    • 30 min brisk walk with a friend
  • Saturday: 35 min interval run
  • Sunday: 15 yoga from Slim Calm Sexy Yoga
Wednesday’s leg day looked like this. I broke the workout down into
circuits of three moves each. I did two sets of each move.
Friday’s workouts came from this DVD I just ordered on Amazon. I always like to do something different on Fridays, like barre or Pilates. Whereas, Mondays and Wednesdays are usually traditional strength training. The Tracy Anderson Method is one of those things I like to do on Fridays. Kills my muscles in a whole different way.
Sunday is always rest/active rest day and I did an active rest day this past week with a few stretches from this book. I like how Tara Stiles creates routines for different desired effects, like anxiety relief or muscle toning.


On the menu

  • Breakfast: smoothie, eggs and veggies
  • Snack: grapefruit
  • Lunch: rice salad (see below)
  • Snack: two hardboiled eggs + apple
  • Dinners: Asian drumsticks, broccoli chicken bake, hot dogs, chicken salad, etc.

My breakfasts always kinda look the same not only because I’m hooked but also because it’s such a good way to get lots of protein and extra veggies into my day. Plus, grapefruit are in season and I’m happy to partake. I had to make an extra-large batch of hardboiled eggs because Kayne is a huge fan and wanted his very own carton, haha! I’m happy to oblige. Eggs were on super sale, they’re easy to make, and I’m always happy when he requests a healthy snack.

I found this super simple rice bowl recipe in a recent issue of Shape Magazine I was reading on the treadmill. All it requires is white beans, tomatoes and rice along with a few ingredients for the dressing. The prep was so easy. It’s such a simple, cool, summery salad that goes perfect with the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been having this week in Wisconsin–like 64 degrees today!!
What’s it like where you live? How are you getting healthy this week?

Weekly Food and Fitness

**Hey there, I thought I’d bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it’s easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I’ve been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workout Schedule

  • Monday: 30 min 21 Day Fix Extreme
  • Tuesday: 30 min run
  • Wednesday: Rest, sick
  • Thursday: Rest, sick
  • Friday: 30 min Flashfit (my own workout)
  • Saturday: 35 min interval run
  • Sunday: Rest

This week was a bit of a bummer because I was sick for several days. The first day it hit, I had a wicked sore throat, and Hubster has been complaining about me snoring every day I’ve had the sore throat. Sorry Hubby!

On the menu this week:
  • Breakfast: superfood smoothie, eggs with veggies, grapefruit
  • Lunch: Quinoa Pecan Peach Salad from the Tone it Up Nutrition Plan
  • Snack: A hefty serving of squeaky clean cucumber salad
  • Dinners: we have clean parm chicken, ham and cheese sammies, homemade blueberry pancakes, pizza burgers, etc.

A photo posted by Jessica Collins (@boun_seejess) on
Look at this beast! I get excited every day when snacktime comes around. I made my cucumber salad with 3 cucumbers, 1/2 onion, a carton of cherry tomatoes and 1 can chickpeas. For the sauce, I used about 1.5 cups of plain Greek yogurt, garlic, vinegar and dill. I’m tellin’ ya, you don’t miss the mayo!
This week I also had an appointment with my doctor and asked him about my weight, again. And again, they checked my thyroid!!! That’s been checked so many times, my blood should have its own spot in the lab. I’m getting a bit frustrated. Thinking about doing a video about it, because I have a lot to say, haha! I’m eating pretty clean, working out 6 days a week, and my body is not responding whatsoever. My diet and food plan here would make anyone else lose weight…just not me. Oh well, will keep you posted on what I find out.

Surviving My Long Drive to Work

Our recent move to our country home took us far away from the city, from work, from my mom’s house, from stores, from everything. That’s what we wanted, of course! To be away from the frenzy of the city. But the drive is something that is taking some getting used to. I shouldn’t complain, but when you go from a 1 mile commute–walking distance–to a 25 mile one, you really have some adjusting to do.

While I’m not too keen on driving in general (I LOVE being a passenger) or paying the astounding extra gas costs, I’m trying to find the positive aspects of this long drive. Since I’ll be making this long drive for the foreseeable future, I might as well learn to love it, right?

Now, when I’m driving, I’m trying to really “see” what’s going past the windows. I’m trying to not take the passing scenery for granted and really notice the cool fog effects, the waking animals, the sunshine. Oh, the sunshine! One of the most pleasurable parts of my drive now is lifting my face toward the sun. Now, I am potentially getting 60 minutes of sunlight on my drive versus the quick flash of light when I was only going 2 miles and sitting inside the office all day.

Thinking and decompressing before walking in the door has been another benefit of a long drive. That 1 mile commute sometimes left me feeling bombarded. All the thoughts that I had rolling around in my mind at the end of a day weren’t processed in that short of time, and I had to shift focus within seconds to children and husband and pet, all converging on me. This new drive is a more gentle transition and leaves me time and space to process all the information of the day and leave what I don’t want behind me. I have been coming up with great ideas while driving now, and think I’m going to have to invest in a recorder soon:)

No haters please, but I’ve also been catching up with friends on the phone since I have 35 minutes of uninterrupted air time. I am a much better friend now because I have that time to chat without feeling guilty that I’m neglecting anyone at home. It’s hard to find that uninterrupted time to call long-distance friends, but my new drive has opened up chat time for me.

I have also been catching up on podcasts. At first, I was really excited because we have an old CD player in the car and I thought “great, now I can catch up on myriads of books on CD from the library.” I was so excited to catch up on all the classics and some self-development–it was really one of the only things I was looking forward to. Well, wouldn’t you know, right before we moved, the car CD player seized up and no longer works. Total bummer!!! Well, to make up for it, I found an FM tuner at Best Buy and I have been downloading podcasts with free Wifi at work to listen to with it, and it doesn’t cost me data on my phone either.

And finally, when I’m not listening to podcasts, I’ve been listening to uplifting or informational radio, like KLove and NPR, which satisfies my constant need for information and positivity. I never thought about it before, but there is not one single “downer” song on Christian radio, making it a great way to feed my mind good things.

What do you like to do on long drives alone? What other options might I have?

My Favorite Planner Notebook: Staples Arc System

Oh, the Arc System, how I love thee. I was first introduced to these notebooks when I was searching for a graduation gift for one of my interns. She was an uber-organized, Type-A person who I knew would appreciate what these had to offer. Once I found them and bought one for her, I knew I absolutely had to have one for myself. I used the notebook as a reward for myself for when I passed my NASM exam.
Meet the Arc System. I’m having a love affair with them. Don’t tell Hubster.
Check out this video to peek into my planner on YouTube.
Staples and Office Max both have their own versions of this notebook, as do Levenger, Rollabind and Martha Stewart. In fact, they’re all compatible with each other. What these notebooks consist of are circular disks (which come in various sizes) that the paper attaches to. But each page is entirely removable and then replaceable. What makes that so amazing is that its a perpetual notebook that works forever. You can continue tearing pages out and buying refills as needed. And you can combine all your notebooks for all your different projects in one so you don’t have to carry them all around separately.
You can also purchase all different kinds of fillers from graph paper to calendars to regular lined paper. Believe me, I stood in that aisle for a good half-hour weighing my options. Ok, probably more like an hour. Not only can you buy different fillers, but you can also buy file folders, page dividers, small list pads, sticky notes and other things that work with the disks too.

You can also use any of your own paper to refill the planner. To do that, you just need to pick up a compatible paper punch. The big hole punches cost upwards of $50, but you can get this “portable punch” from Levenger for just $16 like I did.
I only punch a sheet here and there so this works perfect for me. One such sheet is this page of scriptures that speak to my anxiety so I can reference it when I need it.
I like to use cute printables for my calendars instead of the ones that Arc puts out. Just do a quick search on Pinterest for calendar printables and you’ll find something in your style. Right now, I’m liking these.
I also have a small Rollabind version of the notebook that I found at work. I love the portable size! I use this notebook to record the workouts that I’ve been designing.

We had another sale at work where I found a few more Rollabinds and I snatched 3 up right away because I love them so much. They’re stashed away for a day where I decide I need another notebook for something. I’m a writer. It happens.
I encourage anyone that loves notebooks, planners, organizing, printables, etc to pick up one of these systems and choose a few inserts that suit your taste. Then, come back here and tell me how addicted you are. What are your favorite planners/notebooks?

Weekly Food and Fitness

**Hey there, I thought I’d bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it’s easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I’ve been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workout Schedule:

Monday: 30 minutes strength training with weights
Tuesday: 30 min Barefoot Cardio
Wednesday: 20 min TIU Hula Booty from Beach Babe 2
Thursday: 30 min steady state run
Friday: 35 Piyo Sweat
Saturday: 35 min HIIT run, 3 min/1 min intervals
Sunday: active rest, 30 min light yoga with Shiva Rae



On the Menu this week:

Breakfast: Shakeology Berry Smoothie, egg whites + tomatoes and mushrooms, TIU bombshell spell
Snack: grapefruit
Lunch: Romaine Thai Turkey Cups
Snack: Cottage cheese and chickpeas
Dinners: turkey dogs, tuna salad, broccoli ravioli, grilled pork chops


Hubster and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year and we are booking a trip for somewhere like the Bahamas or Cancun. Not sure yet. What I am sure of is that I need to get my butt in shape in the next few months. I have a check-in with my doctor this week again, because things aren’t adding up when I look at calorie intake and workouts. I am not losing like I should be according to the math. Hopefully I can get some insight and tighten up my diet and see the weight budge.

How are you workout out/eating this week?