Square Foot and Container Gardening

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Hi Folks

So it’s getting close to planting time for me! In fact, I am currently finishing up my garden plans for this year and will be ready to start putting some of the cool weather friendly plants and seed in the ground within the next week.

I’ve been gardening using raised beds for a few years and for a while I was using a blend of regular dirt and some garden soil blends, but nothing really fancy.  I chose raised beds because of their supposed ease of use.  I was promised no major digging, or having to turn the soil like you would if you were planting directly into the ground however this simply was not the case.  With the dirt blend that I had, I had clumps of rock hard soil that I had to break up just like I would if I had an in-ground bed.  My yields weren’t spectacular either so I was ready for a change.

I started to research Square Foot Gardening to see what it was all about based on something that I saw on Pinterest (yup, I’m one of those crazy pinners, lol).  I could find bits and pieces of information online but I didn’t get a lot of definitive information until I found the book “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew.  In his book he discusses everything from how to build the box (which I had), what blend to use, how many plants of any specific type you can out in any Square Foot (i.e. 16 onions or 1 pepper plant), when to plant, etc… This book gave you any little bit of information that you could ask for to start using a Square Foot Garden.

From my experience with this, especially when considering what I was using before, I LOVE IT!!!  SFG has completely revolutionized how I plant my garden.  I get a ton more in my yields, and as soon as I’m done using a Square foot I can immediately allocate that space to plant something else.  It’s so much easier to plant because I don’t have to dig in the ground; with “Mel’s Blend” I can just push it out of the way with my hand and plant.  No more digging, no more turning (I’ll use a hard rake to fluff it back up a little after this winter), I will be completely ready to go with little effort.

I have 6 beds, 5 of which are available to be used for SFG, the other one has strawberries and if you’ve ever planted them you know that they have a mind of their own and refuse to be confined to a mere square foot, J however I am debating on whether or not to take those out his year and use the bed for something else. Each of my beds is 3’x5’ giving me roughly 15 sq. ft. in each bed to play with.  My garden will consist of plants that I’ll purchase as well as items that I’ll start from seed.  The plants are always super easy to just plop down in the blend and let them do their thing.

This year I also plan to add more container planting to my mix. Doing this will allow me the flexibility to move plants around if I feel like they aren’t getting sufficient sunshine. My plan is to get some buckets and bins to plant things in. Will it be the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen in a backyard? Not at all, but my goal is not about having a backyard that is aesthetic beautiful, but instead, have one that serves a purpose. That purpose happens to be providing healthy, fresh, and yummy food for my family to enjoy for the summer, and if I have more than I can handle at any given time, I will share with friends and neighbors and learning to can so that I can enjoy MY food for a longer period of time.

Many people are really nervous about gardening but it’s actually pretty simple. Plants generally only need food, water, and sun. Nothing fancy, just simple things. The other thing is that by using containers, gardening is accessible to people who have very little outside space. In fact, fresh herbs can be grown indoors by a window.

I am, by no means, an expert at gardening, but many members of my family have grown food for many years. I can remember going to my great grandfathers and looking at his neat rows of food planted in the backyard. There was little to no yard (play) space, it was all allocated to the garden. My grandmother has always kept a small garden (which my brother has taken over and is very successful with). My mom has always had one too. The example that has always been set for me is that it’s a good thing to grow your own food and to have that connection with your food and the earth beneath you. My husband and teenage kids love going out to the garden and getting tomatoes or whatever else they want, when they want it. I definitely appreciate the lessons that I’ve learned from my family and the love and respect that I have for my little plot of land. It’s such a blessing.

Happy Planting!

Jess

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What’s Going On!

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Hi Folks:

So let me start out by saying that I completely and totally apologize for being MIA for the last few months. Life has been filled with so many ups and downs that I’m just grateful that I’ve made it this far. Now I won’t say that all of it is over with, but I am starting to gain a better sense of clarity through all of this. This is the deal; I can’t allow all of the stresses from work or any other section of life make me so stressed out that I let it impact how I interact with my loved ones. Life is so precious and the time that I have with my loved ones is precious as well. I cannot and will not allow challenges to impact my family life. Work will be there and if something happens to me, I can and will be replaced. Heck, I could be replaced even if nothing happened to me. My family will always need me and it is vital that I give them the best version of me.

Needless to say, all of this stress has not been good, mentally, physically, and especially from a weight loss and nutrition perspective. Stress eating has been in overload mode and I absolutely have to figure out the best way to reign this in. Cold turkey won’t work because I will lose it in a week and end up in the middle of a pile of junk food somewhere. So where does that leave me? Trying to find a perfect balance between healthy eating and occasional treats. Will it be easy, nope! Will it be worth it, absolutely!

I have to give the very best version of me to my family, the people that I care about and those who care about me. My best version is strong, healthy, with clarity of mind, not stressed out and eating way too much. It’s done, I’m over it, I’m moving on. I have some things inside me that I really want to begin working on and all of the noise, all of the drama, and all of the nonsense that I continue to allow in is not leaving me room to do those things. No more! I am choosing to get my health right and work on my other things.

Prior to my 39th birthday I had a great deal of hope going into this last year of my 30’s, but as my birthday came and went, so did my zeal and my plan on how this year would be epic. I have just over 6 months until I turn 40 and I had a goal to make some things happen before then. I guess there’s no time better than right now to push for the life that I want.

Jess

3 – Day Refresh – Day 3 Recap

Hi Folks,

Today, like yesterday was pretty good. My energy levels were higher and can’t complain at all.
Here’s what I ate:
Breakfast: Greenberry Shakeology with strawberries

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Mid morning: Fiber Sweep
Lunch: Lemon Pepper Cauliflower with 1/2 pear and Vanilla Fresh Shake

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Mid afternoon: no snack,  not hungry
Dinner: Vegetable stir fry with Vanilla Fresh Shake.

How I feel:
I’m feeling pretty good. Not as tired at all.  I’m sleeping well too, which I’m grateful for because that can be a challenge. I’m also happy to report that I’m down another 1.8lbs. Now just waiting to see my final numbers in the morning. 

Jess

Komen Columbus Race for the Cure

Hi Folks:

Today was my very first time participating in this event and I have to say that I can’t wait to do this one again. I guess that I’m getting more and more sentimental about things but looking at 35,000 people who are all taking a stand against breast cancer I can’t help but smile. This morning I woke up with a plan in mind, I was working on decreasing my 5K time. I’ve said it before but I consider myself to be a wogger because what I do is somewhere between a walk and a jog. I’m completely ok with that but I do want to try to start picking up the speed a bit. As of right now my 5k time has been coming in around the 43-45 minute mark. My goal for today was to come in between 35-40 minutes.

Something can be said about having plans and goals and how quickly things can change. There are times that you can plan everything out and have your set goals in your mind or even write them down, but God has other things in mind. This is what happened to me today: at the starting line I met a lady and we exchanged the normal pre-race pleasantries that you do when you’re waiting for the race to start and you happen to be by yourself.   As it turns out, today I was meant to work with her and encourage her so that we both finished. There were plenty of times when she told me that I didn’t need to wait for her and that I could go on but I couldn’t. I was vested in getting her through this race and I felt that I needed to stay with her.

We decided that we were going to walk/run to get through the race. She let me know when she was ready to run again and she set the pace that she was comfortable with. My job today was to keep her encouraged and to keep her pushing forward. Doing this meant more to me than any time goal I had.

I am now encouraged that the current path that I’m on and the things that I have in the works are indeed part of God’s plan for my life. I realized something about myself today; I don’t have to be perfect I don’t need to be fast or skinny or anything else to be the coach that I want to be. I just have to start finding opportunities and start doing. More certifications, etc… won’t get me there because I have everything that I need in me right now. I already hold a Masters degree in Human Services/Health & Wellness and I am an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. I just need to start using my current knowledge and my gifts and talents to do what I need to do. I may have helped her but she helped me just as much.

Jess

Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, 2014. My new friend Angy and I
Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, 2014. My new friend Angy and I

Confessions of a Stress Eater

Hi Folks:

I AM A STRESS EATER!!

Ok now that I have that out of the way, I can move on.

The month of March and now the beginning of April have been extremely stressful at work. The end of 2013 was stressful but in a different manner than this. The end of 2013 was filled with stress surrounding high volume, meaning I had a lot of work to get done in an extremely small amount of time. My recent stress is surrounded by the opportunity for change. I was recently approached by a friend about a position on her team that would potentially mean a higher pay grade and more money.

That all sounded attractive but as I started to delve into the process, from deciding that I would actually apply for it (what could it hurt), talking it over with my boss, updating my resume, applying, etc… I started to think about what I really wanted in my career and if this position would take me where I want to be. Because I actually applied and interviewed for this position I was able to sit down with several people and discuss my career and from those discussions I’ve figured out that there are so many positions in the bank that I don’t have a clue about and I have to start sitting down with people to learn more about what they do and if it is something that I find interesting. One of the results of a discussion with my manager’s manager is a position that I’m interested in exploring. In fact, I’ve had a discussion with that manager and have started listening in on some of their project calls to see if I have an interest in joining that team.

I say all of this to say, all of this “finding” myself, career discussions, and my everyday job have left me a bit overwhelmed at times. Even though I have a group of managers who are more than supportive of me and recognize that I work hard and want to help shape my career, I’ve still been feeling so much stress that I start looking for carbs at every turn. Unfortunately I have not been successful at walking away from them or even stopping myself from going to get cookies, chips, and candy. This is something that I’ve got to work on, got to figure out how to combat. Stress is everywhere and I can’t run around eating junk every time I experience it.

I work out pretty regularly but it’s all for naught if I can’t control my eating. I mean yes, working out has improved my strength, cardio endurance, flexibility, etc… but I haven’t lost any weight and I know the exact reason why. I have to do better. I will do better. I AM BETTER!!

DDP Yoga Week 1

Hi Folks:

Week 1 of DDP Yoga is a wrap!  I’m glad to say that I’m very happy to have gotten through this first week of the program and I’m excited to see what happens next.  My hubby and I spent Sunday prepping our meals for the week.  It’s exciting to see us working together for a common goal.  I must say admit that going through these exercises gave me new found respect for the program.  I actually feel like I got a decent workout in, and the soreness that is in my legs confirms that. 

Our Workouts for the week:

 Monday Diamond Dozen and Energy I know this doesn’t exactly follow program but we had gone through the Diamond Dozen over the weekend and felt that we could proceed with doing both
Wednesday Diamond Dozen and Energy  
Saturday Energy  

 Workouts are going well so far and so is the meal planning.  The only exception is the food combining at dinner where it is a little more difficult to keep from pairing a complex carb with a protein.  Old habits die hard, however this may be one area where I can tweak the plan a bit to suit my needs and the needs of my family while still maintaining the integrity of the overall plan. 

I am happy to say that the Energy workout has challenged me more than I thought a 20 min workout could.  The good thing is that everyday gets a little easier and before I know it we will be moving on to the next workout which will increase intensity.  I’m so ready for it.

Starting Weight: 180.0

Week 1 Weight: 178.0

I lost 2 pounds this week which is great considering the fact that I was already working out some and had started changing my eating a bit. 

As we go through this program I also have to be mindful that I’m starting to prepare myself for racing season.  I took most of last year off so I am nowhere close to being ready for my first 5K in April.  As of today, I’ve started adding the Couch25K program on the days that I do DDP Yoga because I also need to progress through that program 3 days a week.  I feel like after my DDP Yoga sessions I have enough fuel in the tank to get through a 30 minute run/walk session. 

My first race of the year is Color Me Rad in April.  I’ve done 5k’s before but never a race like this one.  At the request of some friends, my youngest daughter and I plan to give it a try.  A couple of other races that I’m planning for are another 5k in May, a possible Sprint Duathlon in June, my first Olympic Distance Duathlon in late June and another in late July, and finally Pelotonia (a bike ride that I do every year to raise funds for Cancer Research). 

Busy schedule ahead, but I’m excited to get back into the thick of it. 

Jess

Transformation

Hi Folks:

Transformation is a hot word these days as it relates to weight loss and healthy living.  People, including myself, are constantly clamoring to transform their lives in some way.  Choosing to try and live a life that is different than the life that we are currently living.  There are experts who spend their lives trying to help others transform themselves. 

What is transformation, what does it mean to be transformed?   According to Merriam-webster.com, transformation is “a complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc…” and being transformed is “to change (something) completely and usually in a good way”.  Looking at these definitions of transformation and being transformed, this concept is a good thing and should be done by most people.  However if this is the case, then why is it so difficult for people to actually do this?  Why is it so difficult to transform our bodies or lives into what we want it to be? 

Romans 12:2 gives us a hint, it says to “…be transformed by the renewing of the mind” (NIV).  If you’re like me you’ve read this verse many times and looked at it only from a spiritual perspective.  However I seem to have just had one of those aha moments where I can now see this verse from all areas of my life.  For me, one of my biggest battles currently lies in my ability to lose weight.  What I am learning is that this is completely a mental battle and has very little to do with my body.  I saw a quote the other day that said something to the effect of it being fruitless to want something but to secretly believe that you will fail.  I can’t help but agree with this because time and again I will set out to try something only to fail because in my mind, I can’t do this.

If God tells us that we can be transformed by renewing our mind, then we know that we are capable of doing this, it’s just a matter of how.  I love watching shows like “Extreme Weight Loss” with Chris Powell and “The Biggest Loser”.  On these shows many of the contestants go through the motions of losing weight, but their true transformation does not occur until their mindset changes.  Sometimes it is learning to forgive things that happened in their past and figure out how to move forward in the new life that they want to lead.  When you see it on the shows, it’s almost like a light switch goes off and the contestants and clients move forward with a renewed intensity. 

I’m in the process of reading Chris Powell’s “Choose More, Lose More for Life” and he says that transformation is “your journey toward loving yourself”.   I really love this definition because it simplifies it and breaks it down into a meaningful way to look at it.  I say meaningful because it is truly what those of us who struggle in the transformation department have to deal with, not loving ourselves enough.  Many of us will say that we love ourselves, but our actions show that this is not necessarily true.  Chris says that transformation begins when we believe in ourselves, keep our promises to ourselves and fall without failing.  I know that in my case, I tend to fail to believe in myself, I’m not great at keeping my promises to myself, and when I fall, I fall all the way.  These are things that I am working on to help me on my journey because I firmly believe that when I change my mindset my whole trajectory will change.

Vision and Purpose

Hi Folks:

My key words for 2014 are VISION and PURPOSE. As I thought about what I wanted to accomplish in the coming year and I felt that I needed both of these to meet my goals.

VISION:

Prov. 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish… (NIV)

Lately, this idea of vision keeps coming up.  I’m a person who strongly believes that if the same thing keeps coming up over and over again, you should probably stop and pay attention.  Having vision for your life includes so many facets, too many to name, but thinking about what you want and how you’re going to get there is a good start.  Actually seeing yourself having accomplished your goal is one of the biggest predictors of your success.  Do you see yourself at your goal weight, owning your own business, working your dream job?

If you really want to accomplish your goals you have to “see” yourself at that goal; see yourself being everything that you want to be.  For instance, I can see myself at my goal weight and doing everything that I plan to do.  For 2014 I want to run a few 5K’s, a half marathon, a couple of sprint duathlons, and the biggie for me: an Olympic distance duathlon.  It’s a bit unnerving but I’m going to du it (haha-pun intended).  I will try to do each one of these with a smile on my face.  I am going to do them at a faster pace than I’ve ever gone before.  I can literally see myself running, biking, and finishing each one of these events.  That’s vision baby!

Purpose:

Eph. 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)… (AMP)

Having purpose or living with purpose is something that many of us struggle with.  Ok, maybe it’s just me.  I know that I’m here on this earth for a reason; maybe I don’t know the exact reasons why but that should not stop me form seeking the purpose that God has for me.  One thing that I do know is that I can no longer afford to just aimlessly meander through life, hoping that good things will happen for me.  I have to set out and ON PURPOSE set goals and work on actually accomplishing them.

I will choose to look at each day as a fresh and new start, a brand new opportunity to live on purpose, to do things on purpose, and to live out my vision.

2013 was a decent year for me, but I’m really excited to see what 2014 holds.

Jess

We All Fall Down

Hi Folks:

Long time, huh? Isn’t it funny how we have a tendency to go quiet when things aren’t necessarily going the way we planned?  Obviously that is what happened to me.  Seems like I have a lot of things going right in my life, Hubby and the kids are doing well.  My job has been busy but manageable. I finished my degree…

It seems like this ONE area of my life is the one area that I am struggling with.  The one thing that seems to be totally out of control.  You can see by my posts that I get started and do really well.  I love the way that I feel when I work out.  I love the way that lifting makes me feel.  I love seeing my shape come back.  I just feel amazing.

So if this is the case, why in the world do I self-sabotage and just start missing workouts and eating poorly.  I really don’t get it but it’s something that I have to get a handle on because THIS has got to stop.  I’ve had enough.

I haven’t quite decided what program, if any, I’m going to do, but I believe that I will need to do something that I can do with a limited schedule and maybe only a month to start. Ninety day programs are great but I need something that I can actually accomplish in the short term so that I can actually see a “small” success and feel like I’ve actually done something.

If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Jessica

Oh, before I forget, I’ve decided that I want to start doing tri’s again in 2014.  I plan to start with a ladies mini (just to get back into it), then a co-ed sprint, and maybe even an olympic distance (scared to death of that one).

Keeping My Head Up

Hi Folks

All is well with me these days. Sorry I’ve neglected to check in recently so let me quickly give you a recap of what’s been going on with me.

Nutrition:
I’m still packing my meals every Sunday and it generally consists of chicken, veggies, brown rice or a sweet potato for lunch, eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, snacks that have a fruit or a veggie with a protein. This can get pretty dull but if I want to see the results that I want I have to keep it up.

Fitness:
As I previously mentioned, I am doing Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jamie-eason-livefit-trainer.html ). I’m in week three and I couldn’t be more thrilled with my results. In three short weeks I have discovered that I am so much stronger than I ever thought. I actually am really starting to see biceps and triceps. I almost died when I looked down and saw the very beginning stages of a quad through the layer of fluff that covers my legs. 🙂

Weight/body:
I’ve lost a few, well four to be exact, pounds in the last 3 weeks and I am thrilled about that. However more than the pounds lost I’m starting to see real changes in my body; so much so that I can’t seem to fit any of my pants. I work in corporate America so you can imagine that my new sloppy look is not a hit around my office.  😦 No one has said anything but it can be a bit awkward going into meetings feeling like you are wearing someone else’s clothes.

Mental:

This has been the tough part, as usual. I’m able to get to the gym and give it everything I have which is great and I have to be happy that I haven’t had any stumbling blocks from that perspective. My problem goes back to the clothes issue. As I’ve lost the weight my husband and some of my close friends have encouraged me to go shopping to grab a few new pair of pants that actually fit so that I can have that “pulled together” look and feel proud of my accomplishments. My problem has been the thought that maybe my current pants are all stretched out and I’m not really able to fit the next size down. What if I go and try on new pants only to discover that I still need the same size. I wasn’t really sure how I would handle that, would I be ok or would I be devastated and sit down in a bowl of ice cream misery.

Today was reckoning day for me. I decided that I needed to go ahead and at least make the attempt and see where I was. I pulled several different styles, cuts, and sizes just to get a feel for what I need. As I tried each pair on I continually confirmed that I was indeed “the same size” but instead of crying and being completely upset over it I just told myself that I “may not be where I want to be, but I’m so much better than I was before” and left it at that. To take care of the “frumpy” look at work, I bought a skirt and some cute dresses to hold me over. 🙂

Jess

P.S. I did have ice cream, it’s my cheat day! 🙂