Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols

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Take Time to Listen

Have you ever felt like you’re being pulled in a million different directions and your body is SCREAMING for you to just stop and be still, but you can’t hear the screaming over all the noise of life? Well, that has been my week. Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be a pitty party. It’s more about the lesson I learned this week.

I enjoy taking care of people. I’m good at it, and it blesses my heart more than it ever could theirs. The sad thing is many times I spend so much time making sure everyone else’s needs are met that I forget and don’t make time to meet my own needs. I spend 9 hours/day taking care of the sweetest 87 (88 on May 2) year old lady with dementia, CHF, and Diabetes. I spend the remainder of my day trying to meet the needs of my husband and children. I don’t want to be a super hero, but I do want them all to look back at life and say, “My wife/mom did everything she could to help us, inspire us, and make life great for us.” Being that wife/mother takes WORK! My job in itself is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Those that know anything about a dementia patient will understand this.

So, take my normal week and add baseball games, school meetings, The Brain Phase, and 18 hr/day intermittent fasting, and you have this week! Don’t misunderstand me, I am a blessed woman with a great job, a magnificent husband, and incredible children, BUT my body was SCREAMING at me this week, but I couldn’t hear over the chaos.

Other than my 30-40 minutes spent with God in the mornings this week, there was no silence. So, this morning when I unrolled my yoga mat and turned on my iPad to do Yoga With Adriene: True 30 Day Journey, I was completely blown away and brought to tears at her word of the day…LISTEN. She had kicked my rear all week with focus on core workouts and upper body. My abs are sore when I giggle and my hair has looked like a rat’s nest all week because it hurts to raise my arms above my head. Not joking! Sorry if you saw me in public this week. I haven’t given up on myself, I’m just sore! 🤣🤣🤣 Today was a gentle yoga session spent in silence listening to my breath, being present in the moment, and I even got to hear some gentle words of encouragement from the Lord during my time on the mat this morning.

Since the weather is warmer, generally people wear less clothes in Spring and Summer. Well, when you’ve lost nearly 80 pounds, you have extra skin to go with it. It ain’t pretty! I want to wear a cute sundress, but I have “bat wings” hanging from my arms, and I’m having to wear granny panties to smooth out the apron of skin hanging from my abdomen. I’ve become especially self-conscious of these aspects now that the weather is warmer. I will be honest, I cried about it a little this week. However, while I was LISTENING this morning, the Lord reminded me through Adriene’s words that, “You’re doing amazing, and this will all be worth it when you are at your healthiest!” Thank you, Lord, for always knowing just what I need! Thank you for forcing me to LISTEN!

Now, the lesson learned from all of this is that I’m going to dedicate at least 15 minutes/day to just sitting in silence, whether it be on the yoga mat or in the bathroom, wherever I can find that peaceful place. While taking care of others is something I love, taking care of myself is important too. Do you know what your body is telling you? I encourage you to take the time to listen. The moments spent in silence help dissipate the cloud of chaos around you.💗


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Spring Break Should Never End

I took last week off to spend some much-needed time with my family. It was wonderful! It did my heart good. We usually go on a big vacation at spring break, but since Adam has only been with his new company for six months and because we purchased Banks a car, that wasn’t an option this year. Thankfully, we live a mere 90 miles from Panama City Beach, and my parents had the entire family at their condo to enjoy some quality time together.

This was the morning and evening view from my bedroom, and it was breathtaking! We had two glorious days on my dad’s boat. He even let Banks drive the boat!

The time spent with my manclan, parents, and siblings was a treasure! My body hated leaving them so badly, it broke out into hives…seriously, I got home and eight hours later I had hives from my neck to my toes. I spent three days taking cold showers, drinking tons of water, and rubbing aloe on my body. It was not something I ever want to experience again, but I learned my lesson…next time I will just stay at the beach!😉🏖

Apparently one day this week was National Sibling Day. So, here are a few more pictures of my siblings and me and my children from our trip. I’m thankful for siblings that are funny, kind, and my oldest and truest friends. Now, it is well-known that no one can aggravate you like your sibling, but there’s also no one else that will have your back like them either. I’m extremely grateful that despite our differences, we love one another, and I’m beyond thankful that my Banks loves sweet Weston like he does and that Weston adores and admires Banks.

Both boys got a very special invitation to be a part of their Uncle Jud’s wedding this fall! It took Weston a little time and watching a YouTube video to figure out just exactly what a ring bearer does to get on board. At first, he thought he was going to be getting married, and he was NOT happy about that! He told his Aunt Hope, “No, I’m not marrying you!!!”😂😂😂😂 Once we got the role of ring-bearer understood, he was very interested in his very important job. Banks was so thrilled to be a groomsman that he told me on the way home from the beach that he was trying to keep his excitement low-key and that he really hoped that when he gets married some day his Uncle Jud will want to be his groomsman too!😭😭😘❤️ We all love Jud and Hope and are so excited to celebrate their wedding later this year.Our trip wouldn’t have been complete without spending a day or two at Balance 30A! My mom and I went to yoga class with my sweet friend Whitney. It was beautiful! It was perfect! My heart was soaring! The love these people have for others has been life-changing for me. I was so proud of myself for being able to complete the class. It wasn’t easy, and every pose may not have been perfect, but I did it, and I enjoyed it! I wish I lived there so I could go everyday! Banks went with me for my checkup with Dr. Bart, and he got to meet the man, the myth, the legend….THE Dr. Bob! Dr. Bob certainly knows an animal lover when he sees one…..he and Banks cuddled on the floor the entire visit.❤️🐶 My appointment went well. I had an InBody Analysis done, and the changes on the inside of my body are extraordinary! Since my first InBody back in November, I’ve lost 30 lbs, 3% body fat, and my BMI has dropped 6 points! Dr. Bart put it best…he said, ” You’re a completely different person than you were when you first walked through that door.” He’s right! I am different, and in every way. I’ve learned so much about my physical, spiritual, and mental health. I just feel great, and when I stop and realize I’m not finished yet, I’m astounded!

As far as my regiment and routine for the next 30 days goes, I will of course continue eating Keto with intermittent fasting. This week and next week I’m fasting 18 hours each day with one feast day, and I will say, there is a big difference between the 16 and 18 hour fasting times! I find myself looking at the clock to be able to eat. It’s hard, BUT on Wednesday nights, I’m so flipping excited for feast day on Thursday, I can already taste those eggs and spinach the next morning! I am also doing The Brain Phase portion of True Cellular Detox again. This is to rid my brain of the remaining toxins that weren’t able to make their way out the first time. This is very common, and I can already tell a difference in my mental clarity and the “Brian fog” has definitely lifted. As far as my exercise goes, I am continuing to do Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube. She has another 30 day program called TRUE. I’m loving it. I can see progress there too. This week, I discovered that I can finally hop from plank and downward dog to forward fold!🎉 It’s certainly more intense, and she gives you a word or thought to meditate on each day. Day 2 was most impactful with the word “Trust”. My family is definitely entering a time where we can’t do anything but trust God, and I’m so thankful for reassurance of with Whom my trust lies. I’m also trusting that I will reach my goals on this health journey. 💕

So, while I cherished my time off and wish it hadn’t ended, I am TRUSTING that just as lovely times await me and the ones I love. Thanks for reading, and I hope your Spring Break was as great as mine!

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Faith and Fitness

As this weekend represents the foundation of the Christian faith, I want to explain how my journey over the last eight months wouldn’t have made it past one day without help from God.

This morning I completed Day 30 of 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene! Whoop whoop🎉🧘‍♀️! I have seen tremendous results this month. This month I lost 10 pounds and dropped 12 5/8 inches. Now, all of that cannot be attributed to just doing yoga. I finally have the understanding of intermittent fasting, and I truly believe not varying from my Ketogenic Diet and powering through intermittent fasting each day (I’m currently at 16 hours of fasting per day) have definitely contributed to a month of fantastic results. I’m going to celebrate my results by spending some time with my family at the beach and attending my friend Whitney’s Vinyasa Yoga class Saturday morning at Balance 30A followed by an appointment with THE Dr. Bart Precourt on Monday morning. I can’t wait! I’m so excited! If you don’t understand the excitement, you clearly haven’t visited Balance before!💕

When I began this journey eight months ago, I knew that the changes didn’t need to be solely physical. I wanted to be healthy, and physical health is non-existent without mental and spiritual health. I will confidently say these changes are far more difficult than choosing to eat clean and exercise daily. Spiritual changes require you to reprogram yourself to do the opposite what actually comes natural to us as humans. Huh🤦🏼‍♀️????

As a Christian, I am set apart. I am held to a different standard through my attitude and actions. In Galatians, we are given a list of “fruits” or characteristics ALL Christians should be known by, meaning when a non-Christian encounters us, they should be able to know we possess something they don’t because of these characteristics. As I was studying these characteristics back in July, I fell to the brutal truth that I didn’t exude very many of these fruits. Eye-opener😳!!!! I began praying for these attributes daily. I wanted to love everyone from every walk of life without passing judgement or trying to understand why they do what they do. I just wanted to share a smile and show love. I wanted to be joyful again. I wanted to be excited for each and every new day and find joy in the small things. Peace and contentment in the place God has me and my family everyday was important for a positive mindset. Patience, boy did I need a big dose of this one! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a definite Type A personality, and I like a plan and I like for it to be followed right then! So, I’ve been praying for patience with others as well as with this health journey, because becoming healthy certainly doesn’t happen overnight! Kindness, goodness, and faithfulness are ones that I didn’t necessarily struggle with all that much, because anyone that knows me knows I will go above and beyond for others. I definitely possess the gift of helping, and I love performing acts of goodness and kindness for others. The only problem was, I was so busy doing for others that I had forgotten to be kind and good to myself, which is how I ended up at nearly 300 lbs and miserable. Because of all I lived through as a single mom, I genuinely remain faithful. Heck, faith is all that got me through my twenties. Hahahahaha! Gentleness and self-control were certainly two fruits that anyone that met me prior to July would never have seen. Because of growing up in a very direct and matter of fact family not to mention living a life of learning from the hard knocks rather than being rescued, I was rough around the edges. I therefore said things matter of factly, disregarding how it came across or made those on the receiving end feel. I possessed no self-control. I said, did, and ate whatever I wanted. I still pray every single day multiple times a day for these two fruits in particular. I constantly ask forgiveness for anyone I may have hurt through the years. You know, it’s like the old saying goes, “Hurt people, hurt people.” I was hurt from years of failures, wrongdoings from others, a hard life, etc… and so, in return, I hurt people. I still feel shame for many of my attitudes and actions. But there’s good news…All of that shame and wrongdoings were taken care of on the cross✝️. This weekend we celebrate a man, my Lord, dying innocently on a cross for me and all my wrongdoings and shame. Man, what a gift! He didn’t just die though, He rose from the grave displaying the fact that as a Christian, I have the promise of life after death in Heaven with Him. I truly can’t wait! My faith is the most important thing in my life. It’s the foundation of my marriage. It’s where I find my instructions for parenting, and it is what I have leaned upon in order to become the best version of myself. I’m thankful for the cross, and I’m thankful for a God that loves me despite my failures. I can’t wait for a weekend of celebrating my Savior with a family that has loved me as He does, and I can’t wait to see how my faith continues to grow through this journey. I can’t wait to be my best version of me!


Befores and Afters

Changes….whether we are talking about our health, career, having children, etc…change is exciting but it also requires work, lots of it, on a daily basis. I’ve worked incredibly hard the past 8 months to make both inward and outward changes. Today, I have some before and after photos depicting the changes I’ve made. The photo on the left was taken last June, 6 weeks before I walked through the doors of Balance 30A. That visit changed my life! Here I am 8 months later, 75 pounds lighter and more importantly, so much more healthy. I no longer snore, no longer have edema in my feet, no more angina, no cold extremities, no irregular monthly cycles, no abdominal pain, no more skin breakouts, and so much more. For those that regularly read my blog, you know that I’ve been doing 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene. The photos on the left were taken on Day 1, and the photos on the right were taken this morning, Day 22. Could those possibly be the semblance of ABS forming???? 😳🧘‍♀️💪🏻🙌🏻. The answer is yes, yes they are!!!! BOOM!!!! Now, I know Sports Illustrated isn’t about to call me about being in next year’s swimsuit catalog (nor would I ever accept), but for someone who 8 months ago couldn’t see her feet over her stomach, abs peeking through is AWESOME!!!!! More than awesome, it is yet another milestone on this journey. It’s fuel to keep going!How was I able to make these changes. Well, the first thing was I had to be vulnerable and ask for help. Once I had my family and the folks at Balance 30A behind me, I felt better, because I felt like, for the first time, someone wanted to help me. Someone was cheering me on! After I asked for help, I made up my mind I HAD TO CHANGE, not only for my physical health but also for my mental health. I was miserable, sad, depressed, emotional, and irate at times. The decision to change wasn’t a one time thing. I have to make that same decision every single day, or I will end up exactly where I started, and I never want to be there again. It’s the choice to exercise everyday, the choice to eat real food from God’s garden that fuel my body, the choice to absolutely not compromise or slack off when the opportunity presents itself. The photo on the top was my go-to favorite ballpark food! I love ballpark nachos with jalapeños!!!! That’s what I ate every night we were at the baseball field the last few years. This year I have chosen to take my supper with me: two boiled eggs and spinach tossed in the juice of a lemon. It’s all about making choices to create the changes.More importantly and more drastically than the physical changes are the spiritual changes. It’s been a time of me having to fully rely on God. I’ve had to face some not so great behaviors and attributes within myself, anger and hurt I was harboring (some of which I’m still combating), loneliness, conceit, and my lifelong habit of finding comfort in food. I’ve prayed 1 Peter 3:3-4 multiple times over the last 8 months. The outward beauty is futile without inward beauty! Instead of coming off as gruff and rough around the edges, I want to encourage and learn to be compassionate. I want to grow from someone treating me poorly rather than retaliate. I want to constantly be reminded that as a Christian, I’m never alone, even on days when I feel like I have one friend in the entire world. I want to be confident yet humble rather than conceited in my knowledge and abilities. Lastly, I want to allow the RIGHT foods to fuel my body and find comfort in the Cross, the Bible, and my family.

So, change…it certainly isn’t easy, but man is it worth it! You just have to make a choice…

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How Do You Know If You Haven’t Tried???

This week has been wonderful! It began with a trip to Balance 30A on Tuesday afternoon with my sweet mom. THE Dr. Bart Precourt shared his knowledge of the KETO diet with a room FULL of people. The wisdom gained from this workshop is invaluable. I’ve been eating KETO for nearly eight months now, but I still learned so much, especially in the area of intermittent fasting.

In a effort to avoid distraction, I didn’t take any pictures while at the workshop. On our way home, my mom and I talked about all the things I should have taken pictures of for my blog🤷🏼‍♀️. At the end of the workshop we tested our blood sugar and ketones, for those that were already on a KETO diet. My blood sugar was 73, and I was super pumped that my ketone reading was 1.6! What does that mean???? It means I was in ketosis and burning fat!!!!!! Whoop whoop!!!!! Burn baby burn!🔥🔥🔥Thank you to everyone for all of the yoga mat recommendations. After much research on every mat mentioned, I decided on the 5mm Lululemon Reversible Mat. What a difference a mat makes! WOW! I love this bad boy, and I’ve already dropped sweat on it. Today I completed Day 15 of 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene. Today was tough! It’s certainly getting more difficult. My abs hurt when I laugh, and my booty hurts when I walk, and even my quads burn a little when I sit down. My form is certainly not perfect, especially in this photo of myself in Warrior 3, but like Adriene reassures me in her videos, I will get there. I know one thing, I was certainly feeling the burn in this photo (Photo creds to my sweet husband). I am so thankful I gave yoga 🧘‍♀️ another try. So many times we give up on something after one bad experience. My mom teaches yoga here in town, and when I’m off of work for my kids’ spring break, I’m going to give her 5:30am class a shot! She’s just as encouraging and kind as Adriene. So, I know I will love her class too.💕I am going to end this post with this beautiful reminder that my loves at Balance 30A had on the chalkboard. It was especially for me. I needed the reminder that The One that created me makes no mistakes, and He has been with me throughout this entire journey. To top it all off, there were stars drawn all around the message, and for those that don’t know, my middle name is Starr (yes, with 2 r’s), therefore stars are very special to me.✨🌟⭐️💫 You are also wonderfully designed! So, I encourage you to not give up, keep going, and give something that may not have been such a great experience the first time another try. After all, “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to TRY.”

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She Is Strong

Last week I needed to mash the reset button on my attitude and my exercise routine. I’m so thankful I did! I have continued with my 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. I love being able to do yoga in my own home, and Adriene is funny and makes learning the proper way to do the different poses very easy and enjoyable. She’s encouraging and gives alternate ways of doing certain poses in case you’re not quite as limber as a seasoned yogi. I’m pretty sure that we would be friends in real life.😉

Here are a couple of pictures that my son, Banks, took while I was practicing. I haven’t purchased a mat yet, but that’s on my “to-do list” this weekend. Any recommendations of your favorite mat would be welcomed in the comments. I love how challenging yoga is, and I live for that moment that we take that downward dog into cobra or especially ending practice with a happy baby pose.🙌🏻 I’m in no way trying to brag on myself here. I’m truly just trying to be transparent, but I must say, I’m stronger than I thought I was. I wasn’t sure I would be able to hold my own body up or be as limber as I actually am. I’m proud of myself! So, after 8 days of incorporating yoga into my daily routine of eating Keto and intermittent fasting, I can certainly see a difference in not only my energy level but also in my mood and sleep. I have literally been asleep before 9pm every night this week and I’ve felt happy and upbeat, despite our insane daily schedules. I’ve also lost 4 pounds this week!🎉

I’m pretty pumped for next week!!! Tuesday afternoon I will be traveling with my mom to Balance 30a to hear THE Dr. Bart Precourt talk about eating Keto. If you’re interested in having a broader knowledge of The Keto Diet, you should come to the workshop as well. I have been eating Keto for nearly 8 months now, and I have officially lost 71 pounds and over 120 inches. I’ve gone from a size 22/24 to a 13/14, and even my feet have shrunk from an 8.5 to a 7.5!🤷🏼‍♀️

While I’m very excited to spend some time with my mom and my friends at Balance, I’m equally as thrilled that today is Friday, and I get to spend the weekend with my manclan at the ballpark. ⚾️ Here’s to the weekend and finally seeing progress again!❤️

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Earlier in the week I honestly expressed where I had become lackadaisical in my exercise due to my obligations as a full-time employee, wife, and mother.

As most of you have probably realized, I’m my own worst critic! I’m a perfectionist, and I despise letting anyone down, myself included. Sooooo, my God being the loving yet convicting God that He is, reminded me He made the day, and He doesn’t make mistakes. Within each created day, He has given us ample time to complete everything we need to accomplish in order to be our best selves.

Once I humbly admitted my fault, I began to think,”What can I do to relax?”. I love running and being outdoors, but because of birthing two children naturally, running ain’t what it once was! 😬 (Moms will understand what I’m referring to here). So, after much thought, I came back to a type of exercise I’ve only done once…yoga. It was challenging yet relaxing, and had I not been fat-shamed by the teacher, I would have kept going. To even anticipate trying this practice again after being humiliated shows me how far I’ve come in strength and courage and bettering my inner self. I knew it would have to be something I could do at home, and it would have to be an idea I could commit to. So, I found 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene on YouTube.

The first day was definitely for beginners. So, I was thankful for that. I felt as if I had truly worked out, yet I was relaxed and proud of myself. My idea is that by the end of the 30 days, I will be at the beach for spring break and heading into my appointment with THE Dr. Bart Precourt at Balance 30a, and I want to be strong enough and confident enough to take a yoga class with my loves at Balance while I’m there. 💗

So, two days down, 28 to go! Here’s to seeing our faults, resetting our minds, setting a goal, and working toward it!