Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols


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Love Is What You Do

Well, today is Valentine’s Day, and as many of you know, I had set a goal for myself to be back at my wedding weight by today. Well, sadly, I did not make it. According to the scale, I am a mere two pounds away.😭😭😭 I have been rationalizing it by the fact that I am one week away from starting my monthly cycle, and I generally weigh anywhere from 3-5 pounds heavier the week prior. So, in actuality, I probably really did meet my goal! Hahahaha! Hey, whatever you have to tell yourself to keep one foot in front of the other.

Since I did not meet my goal, I am going to take this opportunity on this very special day to write about LOVE.πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

These three….my manclan….my loves, they are everything to me. They support me, encourage me, drive me nuts, give me purpose, bring me to tears, consume my thoughts and prayers, but mostly they love me well.πŸ˜πŸ˜˜πŸ’— Over the last seven months, they have been my constants. We have been one another’s best friends. A lot of changes at once in a person’s life will truly allow you to see people for whom they truly are. These three, they are the real deal!

Adam loves me everyday, but when he chose me, despite my flaws or my past, that was the greatest act of love he could have ever given. He has supported and encouraged me throughout this weight-loss journey. He loves our children and wants what’s best for them and is willing to do anything he can to help them reach their goals. He’s truly the best, and I’m so very thankful that he’s mine.Last week, Adam and I were able to show Banks love by buying him his first car. 😱 It was so emotional and joyful for all of us. I truly believe that the greatest joy as a parent is being able to do very special things for your children. We had been looking at vehicles for a year or more, and I had been praying that God would provide the perfect vehicle at the perfect price, and He never fails! We sacrifice A LOT for Weston and Banks to attend the school they do, and we honestly did not think that being able to purchase a vehicle for Banks would be a reality, but when you work hard and are faithful in saving and giving, God makes a way. It is truly an Ephesians 3:20 (my favorite verse that I pray over my life and family everyday) scenario. Banks is genuinely a good boy who gives 100% to his church, his family, his school, and his sports. He’s respectful and kind and ALWAYS puts others ahead of himself. He endures a lot on a daily basis, and he deserves this gift! He deserves to be loved and to be shown love at its fullest.

My sweet Weston….he is such a lover!!!! He enjoys telling others how much he loves them, gives the BEST hugs, and I hope he never gets tired of giving me kisses (until he gets to be a little older because then it will just be weird).😘 Weston and I got to go on a date last Wednesday. We enjoyed a trip to the grocery store (Weston’s favorite) and dinner together. We did bath time and story time without any interruptions, and before night night prayers, I explained to him how much I love him and how wonderful spending time alone with him was. He didn’t say anything, he just hugged me, and in that moment, my eyes filled with tears and I was so thankful for him. It was that same joy I experienced when we gave Banks his car.

While some people always ask me, “Don’t you want a little girl?” A little girl would be wonderful, but there’s something about boys and how they love their mother. That bond is special! I wouldn’t take anything for my manclan!

We aren’t celebrating extravagantly today, because we are leaving Friday morning for a fun 4-day weekend. We will be touring THE University of Alabama on Friday (Roll Tide!!!) and Birmingham Southern College on Monday. We plan on enjoying the weekend in Birmingham being present with one another, looking toward Banks’ future, and seeing both friends and family that we love. My plan is to take pictures of what I eat on trips like this, and next week, I will write about it and show you that just because you’re out of your element, you can ALWAYS find right choices on a menu! Thank you all for reading my blog, and I pray that each one of you is loved welltoday.πŸ’•

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Everything Is Too Big…And That’s A Good Thing

Well, a couple of weeks have passed since I finished the cleanse, and I have gone back to eating an organic Keto diet. Dr. Bart has me on a hormonal repair regiment for sixty days. I am taking Symplex F, Chaste Tree, and Wheat Germ Oil. These supplements along with my diet and exercising 6 days/week have me feeling even better than I was, which is quite an accomplishment, because I have been feeling better and better with each passing month. I’ve continued to run everyday. I love it! It’s so freeing. Most weekdays, I’ve been stopping by Westgate Trail before I go pick Weston up, and it’s working out beautifully. I love being outside, and since Banks has had baseball practice until 5:30 or later every night, I can just stop and run for about 15 minutes, pick Weston up from extended day by 4:45, and swing around to the other side of the school and wait on Banks to finish practicing.

All of the continued hard work is paying off. I weighed and measured this morning. I have lost 6 pounds and 4 inches in the last two weeks, which puts me a mere 6 pounds away from what I weighed when I got married nearly 7 years ago. My goal has been to reach that weight by Valentine’s Day. That gives me 11 days to get there. I’m certain I am going to do it! Discipline, discipline, discipline…the key to anything worth while.

While I certainly look better and feel better, there is one problem…everything is too big, including my wedding rings. They just slip and slide all around my finger all day. I suppose I’m going to have to take them off and wear one of those silicone bands until I finish losing weight. My scrub pants look like clown pants on me, and I have to pull them way up high under my bust and cinch the waist in really tight with the drawstring. I have some smaller scrubs in my amazon cart. I’m just waiting until I get paid to order them. One thing I did purchase for myself was a custom shirt from my friend, Chandler Rogers. She’s the creator and designer for Only1 Apparel. She up-cycles old clothing by making it unique and original. She bases her clothing on the fact that each person is “a masterpiece, one of a kind, and unique.” A percentage of her profits are donated to charity, and she’s a genuinely wonderful person. I’m in love with my hand-dyed and distressed shirt, and I’m super excited to dress it up with a cute little skirt or throw it on with some leggings and my sneakers like I did today. I urge you to check out her website and buy yourself a little treasure from Chan!

Well, as I continue to work my booty off (literally) to reach my goals, please pray that I make it to my wedding weight by February 14. I would love to celebrate with my Valentine knowing that I was physically back to the woman he married. We have a very busy next few weeks ahead of us. So, my posts may be short, simple, and to the point in order to accommodate for all the plans we have. Thank you all so much for reading my blog, and I hope you have a great week!


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Onward and Upward

Well, I did it! I finished Dr. Bart’s 21 DayCleanse. Last Saturday, I drove down to Balance 30A with my manclan, and I had my post-cleanse InBody Analysis. This machine is incredible. It measures your height, weight, itra and extra-cellular water weight, skeletal muscle mass, BMI, visceral fat, and much more. According to the InBody machine, I lost just over 7 pounds over the twenty-one days, dropped one percent body fat, and most importantly, cleansed my gut! As a means of celebration, my manclan and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Chiringos on beautiful Grayton Beach. Everything on the menu is organic, grass-fed, and wild caught. I still had two days remaining on the cleanse. So, I opted for the Quinoa And Veggie Bowl with a piece of blackened fish on top, and it was the best meal I had in the entire 21 days! Hahahaha! It was filled with brussel sprouts (one of my new favorite veggies), arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. I literally turned the bowl up and drank whatever juices from the veggies and fish were left. πŸ˜‹

We had the most wonderful day together. Sometimes the quick trips are the best! Yesterday was the final day of the cleanse, and I had a phone consult with Dr. Bart to discuss the plan for my next 60 days. During these two months, we are focusing on regulating hormones. I will be taking three different Standard Process supplements: Wheat Germ Oil, Chaste Tree, and Symplex F. I will also return to eating a Keto diet, focusing particularly on keeping carbs low, good fats high, and getting enough fiber through plenty of veggies. I will also be upping my exercise routine from every other day to six days a week. Now, I’m not talking about spending hours in a gym everyday, because that’s not my cup of tea. I’m merely looking to get my heart rate up for a good 15-20 minutes. The goal is to burn fat and build lean muscle. I will also continue with my intermittent fasting, which I’m going for my first twelve hour fast today. I had a shake with avocado, spinach, and blueberries this morning at 6am and will eat supper tonight around 6pm. Intermittent fasting is excellent for burning fat, and it helps you enter into Ketosis more quickly.

I’m excited for these next 60 days! I’m already seeing huge changes in my appearance and definitely in my clothes, and I can’t wait to see what changes occur over the next two months. I have some personal goals I would like to reach- lose at least 15 more pounds (that would put me under what I weighed when I got married), get into the cute size 12 white jeans my mom gave me, and start running again. The last one is very important to me! I used to love running. It’s so freeing, and I love being outside. I ran for the first time in 4 years today, and it wasn’t pretty, but I did it! I was only able to run for 11 minutes without stopping, but it was a starting point. I really love all the changes this journey has brought. I find myself dreaming about the end result. My amazon cart is full of swimsuit options and clothes and scrubs in smaller sizes. I love that my skin is clear, eyes are bright, and everywhere I go, people can’t believe the changes. God uses those things to encourage me to keep going. When I stop and think about the fact that I’ve completed a 100 Day Cleanse on the cellular level (True Cellular Detox), made it through the holidays while actually LOSING weight, began my year with another cleanse, and now I’m on to the next phase, which is regulating my hormones, it blows my mind! I’m so humbled and grateful! In case you haven’t figured it out, this isn’t about being skinny for me. It’s about being healthy. There’s a difference! My visit to Balance 30A on July 28,2017, changed my life, that’s for sure! Thanks for reading and check back next week to see how everything is going, including the running.❀️


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Failure, Flu, and Finally Some Meat

Friends, I will begin with confession…if you read my last post, you know that throughout this 21 Day Cleanse, I mentioned that I have been hungry. Well, last Wednesday night I was starving, and it was only 7pm. I had eaten supper, but I was so hungry, I had the most horrific headache and the tummy growls were audible. I was so aggravated and flat out HANGRY (so hungry that you’re angry) that I failed! I did. I got a bag of the chips that I put in my kids lunch, and I ate them. Granted there’s only about 12 chips in the bag, and they were gluten free, but I wasn’t supposed to eat them, yet I did. Being the perfectionist that I am, I felt horrible. I cried and was extremely upset with myself. I had let myself down and felt like I had let everyone around me down. I mean you would have thought it was the end of the world. Adam was so sweet. He comforted me and talked firm to me. He basically told me to get a grip and not be so hard on myself. My sister told me the same thing and even told me that being that upset was obsessive and that wasn’t healthy either. They’re right! I do want to be healthy, but I don’t want to be one of these people that are so obsessed with every morsel they put in their mouths that they can’t function. That’s an eating disorder, and I’m not interested. After I gathered myself, I gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself why I was doing this and how far I had come. I asked God to give me strength and perseverance throughout the remainder of this journey, and then I thanked Him that my headache was gone. Hahaha! I finished the week strong, and I only have 8 days remaining on the cleanse. I plan to finish this thing completely come hell or high water.

After my midweek failure, I received a call from Weston’s school saying he didn’t feel well and needed to come home. He was fine Friday morning, but I went to pick him up, and he was pitiful. He had big plans with his brother to play tee ball in the backyard on Saturday, but when Saturday morning arrived, he said, “mommy, I don’t feel good. I think bubba and me are going to have to play tee ball another day.” Bless his heart! After a Saturday morning trip to the pediatrician in 20 degree weather, we receive the news he has the flu. My kids never get sick. So, it was truly a pitiful sight seeing my buddy just lying on the couch and asking to go to bed at 7pm. Well, this afternoon the pediatrician called back and said his strep culture came back positive as well. Of course it did, because this week has already been so dang fabulous (sarcasm)! Soooooo, the Nichols infirmary has done around 12 loads of laundry, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, and wiped down everything can be wiped down. I’m a clean freak anyway, but when sickness invades, I enter into crazy cleaning mode. At this point, we are praying no one else in the house gets sick, and I’m taking every measure to ensure that we remain well.

While this week certainly had its challenges, it hasn’t been without a HUGE positive. On Friday, I was able to add one serving of organic chicken or fish to the cleanse. This particular photo was my take on Chicken Marinara. It is simply spaghetti squash topped with sautΓ©ed chicken, onion, and spinach with homemade tomato sauce. It was delicious! Oh the difference a little meat can make.

While this will definitely not go down in history as my best week of 2018, there certainly were lessons to be learned. I learned that eating that bag of chips was inevitable. It was going to happen at some point, and I know what to do to combat it from happening again, but if it does happen again, I’m not going to beat myself up and freak out over 1 misstep. I also learned to listen to my body. When I feel hungry or don’t feel satisfied, I have to listen but make a wiser choice than a bag of chips. I also learned that a sick 5 year old is an excellent distraction from myself and my thoughts. I’m always happy to learn, however, I just wish life’s lessons wouldn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m also extremely happy to eat meat again. So, adios to this less than stellar week and cheers to a better week ahead!


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2017….A Year of Change

Wow! Is 2017 already over? That was quick! This year, for my man clan and me, can best be described as a year of change. It has certainly had its ups and downs, but overall, I would say it was one of our best years yet.

Adam spent the majority of the year doing the job of the general manager at his hotel, and ultimately he was overlooked and passed over for the job. While this news was crushing, he remained faithful, and God gave him a better job with an incredible company, and he didn’t even apply for it. They sought him out! I’m so proud of him and all that he has accomplished professionally this year. He’s truly an inspiration to me, and his faith, patience, and hard work were rewarded in the end. He also led our family spiritually to a new church. This was not easy for me, and I shed many tears, but seeing the spiritual growth in all of us has been incredible. Adam is extremely easy-going, but when he’s passionate about something, you can hear the authority in his voice. I’m thankful for his guidance and most importantly, his love for each of us.❀️

Banks is a 10th grader (I’m still in shock over this!), and Weston is in 4P. The changes in their life were equally as impactful. Banks experienced his first college visit. He has his drivers permit. 😳 He’s taking his first AP class, and I’m happy to report that whatever happens to children from 7th-10th grade has finally worked its way out of his system, I think…Hahaha! Lately, I find myself impressed with his more mature and well-thought decision-making, and he’s truly the best babysitter in the world! He exhibited tremendous character throughout a very humbling football season, and most importantly, he’s grown in his Christian walk over the past six months. We have three more college tours scheduled for the new year, and although these tours make me cry a little, I am truly thrilled to watch Banks grow. He’s a good boy!

Weston goes to school five days a week this year, knows all of the alphabet and what sound each letter makes, and he can count to 50 without messing up. He played his first season of tee ball, absolutely loves to read, and will push a hot wheels car for miles! He found his independence this year. He wants to do everything by himself! He’s an excellent helper and finds joy in helping others. He wants to be just like his big brother and shows that by copying everything Banks says and does. I’m so proud of and thankful for my sweet Weston, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to change and grow.

As for myself, I went back to work full-time, left my family for a week to go on a mission trip, and began my journey to get healthy. My health is, by far, our biggest change. I say “our” because it hasn’t solely affected me. It has changed my whole family. I went from having chest pain, crying all the time, edema, and wearing a size 2XL/22 to exercising 4 days/week, smiling, laughing, losing weight, and currently wearing a size large/14. As I type this, I find myself crying tears of thankfulness. I was sick, and I mean really sick. I’m extremely grateful for my health today. I never want to be unhealthy again! To date, I’ve lost 54 pounds. I did not have weight-loss surgery, nor did I take some magic pill. It was sheer determination and hard work! It was discipline, and I couldn’t have accomplished any of it without the support of my family and my Balance30a family. Walking into that building on July 28, 2017, will go down simultaneously as the hardest and most rewarding day of 2017. It changed my life…It changed my family’s lives!

I fully intend to continue toward my best version of me in 2018. I can’t wait to start the new year by doing Dr.Bart’s 21 Day Cleanse. Have you signed up? If not, there’s still time! I am not sure what Dr. Bart has planned for me this year, but you can be certain that I will give you all the details in my blog posts.

I received The Magnolia Story for Christmas, and I finished reading it last night. I photographed some of Joanna’s words. The top photo perfectly describes what I learned in 2017. “Letting it all go is freeing. I am learning that getting our intentions right simplifies our decisions in life and changes our perspective. And in the end, what it’s all about is thankfulness and contentment.” I let it all go when I cried like a baby in Balance Health Studio that day in July, and I’ve learned through spending more time with my manclan and getting to know a new church family that my perspective has changed, and I am perfectly content and beyond thankful for all the ups and downs of 2017. The bottom photo is how the book ended, and it was clearly my mantra for 2018! “Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning-and he will be there until ….The End.” I LOVE IT! I know that 2018 will also haves ups and downs, but I have a Savior that loves me, a husband and children that love me and are healthy, an incredible family, and I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years. So, why give up? Why feel defeated? My plan is to be intentional, thankful, content, aware, and healthy in the new year.

Thank you all so much for reading my blog, and I pray that the new year holds peace and blessings for each and every one of you. Check back next week for my first post about Dr. Bart’s 21 Day Cleanse! Happiest of New Years to you all!πŸ₯‚πŸŽ‰


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A Keto Birthday

Following Thanksgiving, I knew the next major hurdle would be my birthday. Well, thanks in part to the freezing temperatures and my great disdain for cold weather, I spent the majority of my birthday weekend at home. Also, the older I get, the less I enjoy always having to go somewhere. I enjoy being at home with my manclan!

I found an incredible Pinterest recipe for Keto Broccoli and Cheese Soup, and it was delicious! When I got off work Friday, I went home and made this soup. I get tired of eating the same things over and over. So, this soup was a nice change of pace.

My manclan let me open my birthday presents early, and it was perfect timing for some comfy slippers, a new lunchbox (Banks told me my old one was ugly! Hahaha), a new journal, and a 2018 planner (I love organization and order). It really was the perfect, low-key weekend.

The best surprise was yesterday morning when I weighed! I have lost 50.1lbs since July 31. I had been praying I would reach 50 lbs by my birthday, and I was pumped to see 50.1 lost! As far as inches go, I’ve lost right at 62 total inches. At this point, I have 100 more pounds to go to reach my first “desired weight”. Maybe by this time next year, I will be there! I wish I would have thought to take a picture yesterday in my church clothes. They were certainly more flattering and accentuated my weight loss better than a pair of scrubs did this morning, but such is the life!

My mom called me first thing this morning to wish me a happy 36th birthday, and she asked me if I felt older. I told her, “No, I actually feel amazing! I haven’t felt this good since before Banks was born.” It’s true! Even better than the great treasures I received for my birthday, the greatest gift this year is my health. It’s a gift that I will NEVER take advantage of again. Today was probably the first and only birthday that I’ve ever spent exercising when I first woke up and not eating a piece of birthday cake. πŸ™„ I wouldn’t have it any other way! I am excited for year 36, and I am beyond ready to tackle a Keto Christmas in a couple of weeks! I probably won’t post again before then, because for the next two weeks, my schedule is INSANELY busy! I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and check back after Christmas to see my favorite Keto Christmas snacks and some adorable pictures of my manclan!


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A Keto Thanksgiving

Make it through Thanksgiving without cheating on my diet…βœ”οΈ

Go out of town for five days and stay on my diet…βœ”οΈ

I hope everyone else had as wonderful of a Thanksgiving as my family did. We went to Chattanooga to spend the holiday with my brother and his fiancΓ© and her family. It was so relaxing, and it is going down in my book as the best Thanksgiving to date!

The general assumption is that it’s impossible to go out of town and stay on a diet, and you can’t go to a true Southern Thanksgiving without blowing your diet out of the water. WRONG! I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I also knew that I could stay on track with hard work and determination. Dr. Bart had forewarned me that these next two months were going to be the hardest yet. So, mentally, I had been preparing myself to resist temptation. I knew everything I ate in those five days wasn’t going to be organic. So, to ensure I had at least one clean meal each day, I prepped breakfast bowls of organic, free-range scrambled eggs, organic sausage, and organic spinach to eat for breakfast each morning in the hotel room. Hydration was key! I drank only water, just as I have for the past 130 days, approximately 200 ounces each day. That kept things filtered and my downstream track clean and clear. I had also mentally prepared myself to do some intermittent fasting throughout the five days to keep my body in Ketosis.

Jud and Hope’s house was beautiful! The company was amazing, and the food was delicious. Our dinner was served around 6pm. So, I fasted from lunch on Thanksgiving, and when I got hungry, I dug through the Homemade Chex Mix and nibbled on the almonds. I forgot to take a picture of my plate once I fixed it, but I ate turkey, ham, Brussel sprouts, shrimp, half of a baked sweet potato with butter, spinach salad, and one piece of Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake. It was not difficult for me to skip over the potatoes, dressing, cakes, etc… Best of all, I didn’t feel miserable the following morning from overindulging. The hotel had a great gym, and I did my Burst Workouts every other day just as I was scheduled to do. This helped keep my energy level up, because we did a lot of walking over the next few days.

Friday night, Jud and Hope invited our kids to spend the night with them, which freed Adam and I up for a much needed date night. My thoughtful husband had pre-arranged a reservation at a completely organic farm to table restaurant for the two of us. Tupelo Honey Cafe was ADORABLE!!!! Great atmosphere, great service, and outstanding food! They bring you a basket of homemade biscuits with Tupelo honey and homemade jam before your meal…just push the basket to the side. That’s what we did. Adam had pork with a muscadine chutney and Brussel sprouts. I had the flank steak and eggs with hominy and mixed greens. When you order steak and you don’t get a steak knife with your food, you know it’s cooked right. It was tender and juicy and the runny eggs sent this dish over the edge! πŸ˜‹ Best of all, it was totally on the Keto diet!

Now that I’ve tackled Thanksgiving, bring on Christmas!!!! I’m looking forward to more laughter, Phase 10 trash talk, food, fellowship, and family time! Keeping the weight off during the holidays isn’t an exact science or impossible. It’s a mind game. Your either committed or your not. I’m committed, and after losing two more pounds over Thanksgiving (grand total of 44 pounds), I have no doubt that I will be at the 50 pound mark by Christmas! I am so incredibly thankful for this journey and for my health this year! I hope that all my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well. ❀️