Landscaping {After!}

Holy cow, you guys are in for a treat. If you drove by our house at all in the last year or so and then in July/August 2017, you got to see the transformation of our landscaping first hand. It went from downright dreadful to absolutely amazing so I'll be sharing the before, during and after photos you have GOT to see!

Ok, this is what you have all been waiting for. It's legit. Legitimately amazing. The weather was beautiful in August and September so the grass grew in so quickly. We watered the landscaping every few days if it didn't rain but we certainly got lucky that it did rain a few times throughout the month. I also really really really love the scale of the landscaping. Before it was so big, bushy and overwhelming. This now looks calm and actually makes me feel some peace in my heart. How landscaping does that, I'm not sure. Now if we could only keep the boys from stepping in the mulch!


Landscaping {During!}

Holy cow, you guys are in for a treat. If you drove by our house at all in the last year or so and then in July/August 2017, you got to see the transformation of our landscaping first hand. It went from downright dreadful to absolutely amazing so I'll be sharing the before, during and after photos you have GOT to see!

Now to get down to business! We decided to have Driftless Gardens do our landscaping and hardscape projects and they were great to work with. They are very methodical about their work and managed to get a lot done in a short amount of time. I highly recommend them! They started the job at the end of July, right around the time that RAGBRAI rolled through Decorah and of course when Nordic Fest took place. We lived with a mud pit for a week or two as they worked on another project but then picked back up again and had it completed a day or two later! Crazy to see all of the changes as they started to take shape. You can kind of see from the photos below that they first laid gravel and then a layer a sand before laying the bricks.  I was most excited about losing the handful of trees that had sprouted years ago and were starting to completely take over!


Landscaping {Before!}

Holy cow, you guys are in for a treat. If you drove by our house at all in the last year or so and then in July/August 2017, you got to see the transformation of our landscaping first hand. It went from downright dreadful to absolutely amazing so I'll be sharing the before, during and after photos you have GOT to see!

Today's post is all about the before photos. I'm almost embarrassed to show the world these photos but it's also a little comedic. I'll just leave it at that.


Whole30 {Weeks Three & Four - Recap}

Now that we're nearly a month out already, I'm happy to announce that Gspice and I completed the Whole30!

We officially completed Whole30 on October 31. The month went by pretty fast which is no different than the rest of 2017. Seriously, I.can.not.believe.it's.nearly.the.end.of.November!

I want to start off by saying that I am so ridiculously proud of us. We often commit to things but don't always follow through. However, I feel like we both followed the program fairly well and tested our will power for 30 straight days. If you can believe it, I went without pasta for over 30 days and Gspice gave up pop!

The last two weeks of the Whole30 program were not as great at weeks 1 & 2 but we probably followed the "rules" about about 70-80% of the time. I say that number because I did follow breakfast/lunch fairly well and slacked a little bit on dinner and I also ate some chocolate just about every day that week. That is what being lazy did to me. I also had a couple drinks and a slice of pizza. And a few handfuls of peanut butter M&Ms. You can see where this is going!

With that said, I'm still really happy with the fact that we set our sights on a pretty big goal and I feel that we accomplished what we set out to do. Pasta was the biggest thing for me by far and I stayed away for a whole month. Seriously, that blows my mind.

Looking back on the experience, I can definitely say that Whole30 has taught me a lot about my eating habits. I don't necessarily crave anything but I do tend to emotionally eat which is a hard habit for me to break. Throughout the 30 days, though, I feel that I did a pretty good job of not doing that.  Overall, I felt more energized, slept more soundly at night and had better mental clarity. One takeaway from this is that I do really like to go to bed early and I'm totally better off for it!

What I Missed the Most:

Dairy - though it was relatively easy to cut this out for 30 days, it was surprisingly difficult for us to keep this out of our diet 100%. Gary definitely struggled with this more than I, but to go from eating cheese, milk and other forms of dairy on a daily basis to nothing at all was a stretch. A sprinkle of cheese on my eggs or a taco salad would have been nice but we made do.

What Surprisingly Didn't Phase Me:

Everything! - I expected to go through some sort of detox whether that be from sugar, no pasta or alcohol. However, I felt good from the very beginning. I did have a couple random days with a headache but they were in weeks 2 & 3. I do think Gary went through some detox but I was very surprised and grateful that I did not.

Vices - I am still so very shocked that we lasted the whole program without consuming our vices. Mine is most definitely pasta and Gspice's is pop. I literally had no issue whatsoever giving up pasta which tells me that I don't have an addition problem. Thus, my bad habits should be easy to break, right?

What Helped Me the Most:

Preparation - I would not have been successful doing Whole30 without planning the meals in advance, creating the grocery list, going grocery shopping and meal prepping. I never did these steps all in the same day because that would be impossible for me to keep up with. I typically planned on Thursdays/Fridays, went shopping on Saturdays, and prepped on Sundays. Do what works for you and break it down any which way you like, but DO NOT ATTEMPT to do any sort of elimination diet or even just trying to eat better without preparation. It will do wonders and I promise you that!

Tomatoes & the Co-op - I know this is a little silly, but I feel like I was pretty lucky that there were still some good tomatoes left in October. If I got a little hungry in the afternoons, I went for sliced tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. You aren't supposed to snack but this was smart snacking if you ask me. I also would eat an Applegate pepperoni or two because meat was one of the only things I craved all month and it helped to tide me over until dinner. Thankfully, I was able to purchase some of the specialty items like Applegate products, at Oneota Co-op. It was so nice to know I could get Whole30 approved items there that aren't carried by Fareway or Walmart.

Before & After:

I wish I could tell you how many inches I lost or even took photos of the progress, but I didn't go that far with this program. I did hope to lose some weight but I also wanted to focus on changing habits. Now that I'm almost a month out, I can say that though I still struggle with some of the same habits, I do think I'm doing some things differently than before. I drink more water, I'm doing my best to get to bed earlier, I'm not eating pasta for every meal, etc. I'd call that a success :)

I did track, however, the amount of weight I lost. I believe that most of the weight came off in weeks 1 & 2 but a few more pounds did come off in weeks 3 & 4. I'm not surprised by that at all because of my commitment level during those weeks. With that said, I lost a total of 14 pounds!!!

Wrapping It Up:

I was very encourage by doing the Whole30. I surprised myself with my perseverance and will definitely try this again very soon. I didn't do a lot of exercise during this round besides walking to work so the next time I do Whole30, I will definitely make this a part of my routine.


Whole30 {Week Two - Recap}

I've been a little quiet on the Whole30 front but don't worry, I'm still plugging along. I'm back with my Week Two update!

I've always had an issue with persistence so I was really happy that I got through Week Two with a nearly perfect record in terms of following all of the rules of the program. I did so well up until the last day of week two, Sunday, October 15. The boys were being especially difficult that day and I seemed to have a mental breakdown after a really awful Walmart check-out experience with the boys. I came home and was very upset and anxious and after I had time to calm down and get back to normal, I opted to have two little chocolate chips. Just two :) I had planned to make the boys some cookies so I suppose that is better than eating all of their cookies, right? I just didn't make them because frankly, I wasn't about to reward them for their bad behavior!

This is still a big part of the reason why I was so successful this week. I was able to plan for and prep all of the things I planned to eat this week and didn't stray outside of that too much. There were definitely days I didn't want to eat more broccoli but you know what, I did it anyway or instead ate a tomato.

-Same as Week One: Two scrambled eggs with spicy sausage (SO GOOD!)

-Compliant pesto (no cheese! I used cashews instead) with chicken, green beans and tomatoes. I cooked the tomatoes down a bit more than I have before with this meal and definitely made too much pesto but it sure was delicious!

-I didn't do too well with dinner this week. I opted for burgers again with veggies and then got super lazy and made goulash to have on some of the nights. I definitely need to figure out better dinner options that I like.

*Drink more water
I averaged closer to 60oz of water this week but I think part of that was because I sometimes forget to log the amount of water I drank so that could be a little higher. I didn't quite reach 75/80 most days so I just need to keep reminding myself to drink water! It's definitely not hard!

*Have better sleeping habits
 I definitely improved in this department which is awesome! I love to sleep and never prioritize it. I averaged between 5.5-6.5 most nights before doing the Whole30 but I averaged 7.25 hours this week! It's been amazing to feel a little more rested (though I'm always tired) and have more clarity.

*Work out more regularly
I walked to work everyday, does that count? I didn't do much for workouts but you know what, I got my two 2016 family photo books completed :) I've had the weights I want to buy in my Amazon cart but I just haven't completed the order! That's called lazy.

Weight Loss
Still seem to be losing some weight which is so exciting! I have a long way to go but this is a step in the right direction. I wasn't too kind to my body the last few months so have got some work to do!

I don't recall off of the top of my head if we had any specific temptations this week but I did pretty well with not eating any peanut butter M&Ms that a coworker leaves out. Of course, I should count those two chocolate chips I had. Damn.

OH, I did successfully avoid a Pinter's cupcake on our annual trip! That was a big deal!