Springtime Salad

Spring means fresh fruits and the beginning whispers of fresh vegetables (asparagus, anyone?).  As the temperatures warm up, we’re outside more which means different dinner menus.  Our fare has gone from hearty and filling to lighter and filling.

Last weekend, our family went to a dinner party at a friend’s house.  Our contribution was a large, fabulous salad that was a huge hit.  It was fancy by our standards, and I guess it was a fantasy salad by everyone else’s standards, too.  Maybe they also grab a bag of greens and toss salad dressing on them?

This salad was so refreshing and delicious that I just knew I had to share it with you.  Best yet, it is super-easy to make.

Spring Salad from Sara Nesbitt on Vimeo.

So, getting to the skinny on how to make this…

5 ounces of spring mix greens (or any green of your choosing)

1/2 cup of cheese (bleu cheese crumbles or shredded cheese)

1/3 cup candied pecans*

1/2 – 3/4 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Salad dressing to taste (I used 2 ounces of Balsamic with Honey Dressing)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

*To make the candied pecans… Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small pan.  Add a tablespoon of light brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  Mix together.  Toss in 1/3 cup chopped pecans and stir to coat.  Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from pan and set on wax paper until cool.

We served this salad as a side, but it is also wonderful with chicken for a main course.

Throw this together for a mid-week dinner and let me know in the comments what you think.

There Is No Shortcut to Success

Want to know the secret to my success as a businesswoman?

I’ve been in business for almost sixteen years.  I’ve read scores of books on business and soapmaking, watched hours of webinars, sat in seminars, and spent time with my mentors, both in soapmaking and business.  Business isn’t a one-and-done proposition; it must be a continuing journey towards growth and improvement.

Being a home educator, I obviously love teaching.  Being a business owner, soapmaker, and cosmetic manufacturer, I love sharing that passion with others, teaching what I’ve learned through the years.  Whenever someone comes to me with a true desire to invest themselves in learning, I’m happy to take time to teach them.  I’ve even thought about offering classes in beginning soapmaking and setting up a small business.

One of the things that I’ve experienced many times is requests from newbies wanting my success.  If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Can I have your best selling soap recipe?  I want to sell them at the flea market this weekend,” I’d have my dream beach house and be comfortable for life.  I thought those days were behind me.  Then Sunday happened.

A local lady I know messaged me on Facebook:  “Can you give me a crash course on making soap?”  I explained to her that there is no “crash course” to soapmaking.  I further shared that I spent six months learning how to make cold processed soap, and that’s the average.  I have books on techniques, formulation, oil analysis, soapmaking chemistry, and labeling.  This isn’t a quick and easy knowledge set; it takes time, dedication, and work.  I quickly got the feeling that the lady wasn’t interested in spending time learning the craft; she wanted my best soap formulation so she could make soaps to sell in our local area.  She wanted my 10+ years of knowledge and experience fast and free!  I gave her what she needed, though not what she wanted.  The lady wasn’t happy with this.  She wanted the shortcut.

The “shortcut” to success

Just as there are no shortcuts in soapmaking, there are no shortcuts in life.  If you want to be successful in any endeavor, you absolutely must invest the time to do it and do it well.

Business:  Those of us with successful businesses are enviable, I’m sure.  We have wholesale accounts, websites, active social media accounts, and a customer following.  We make it look easy, because no one sees the work we put in after hours (like right now it’s after 10:30 p.m. as I type this).  My friend and I put it, “It takes a lot of time and hard work to become an ‘overnight success.'”  Some people seem to have that one magical idea that nets them a small fortune seemingly overnight, but those people are few and far between.  The rest of us put in a lot of work, sweat, and tears into making our dreams profitable.

Fitness:  You’ve probably seen the great, awesome boiled egg diet that kept popping up all over social media a few weeks ago.  Lose 24 pounds in 2 weeks with the boiled egg diet!  This diet has nothing to do with eggs, though they’re great sources of low-fat protein.  The diet is very close to keto and extremely low calorie.  A quick estimate of calories indicates maybe 1000 calories a day and very few carbohydrates with this diet, so losing weight will be quick – and temporary.  Those pounds won’t stay off once the diet is over.  If you want lasting weight loss, deprivation isn’t the way to go.  You’ve got to make lasting life changes, not temporary weight changes, if health is your goal.

Peace of Mind:  Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach or the mountains?  We breathe in the fresh air and the change of scenery helps us unwind.  When we get home, though, it’s like all the stress and pressures quickly envelop us again.  That’s why I developed my beach-inspired soaps, so you can bring the beach home.  If you want to de-stress and stay calm, relaxing needs to be a daily goal.  Yoga, meditation, or just getting off by yourself to chill for a bit will help lower the stress, which will, in turn, improve other areas of your life.

So what’s the secret to my success?  Hard work.  Studying.  Learning from others.  Making material investments in my improvement.  Years of experience.  And years of mistakes.  Part of the joy of rebranding was starting fresh with all my years of experience as well as the lessons learned from my mistakes – lessons I happily pass along to others.  And underscoring it all,  I work with integrity.  A business owner can have vast amounts of knowledge and experience, but if they lack in basic integrity, then their business lacks in other ways, too.

What are some of the secrets of your success?  Please share them below.

Soaps Bear Memories and Share Happiness

It’s spring.  Well, it’s supposed to be spring, anyway.  Everything in me leans towards cleaning – cleaning up and cleaning out.  The soap rack is no exception.  As I’m constantly making new soaps and restocking my supplies, I also spend time getting rid of soaps that aren’t saleable.  Usually these go into donate piles with one or two meandering upstairs to the basket in our bathroom.

One Monday, my younger daughter was waiting for her sis and me to catch up with her at the church where my teen goes for her language arts class.  My daughter had noticed a sign with a bin underneath; one of this church’s ministries was collecting toiletries for migrant workers.  Being especially compassionate towards non-native-born Americans at this particular point in our nation’s history, she said, “Mom, you could donate some soaps.”

Picture of soaps
Soap Donation

My initial reaction was consternation; I don’t have any soaps on hand that I’m discontinuing completely.  As we were sitting at breakfast the next morning, though, I looked up at my soap rack, which was behind her.  And I paused, my mind calculating its unseen contents (the shelves are high from a sitting position).  She said, “What?”  And I smiled.

“I have some soaps we can donate,” I told her.  Her dimple popped out and she got excited.  I didn’t have many; you can see the pile isn’t terribly big.  I had some Burberry soaps that didn’t behave well in the mould and came out all weirdly quadrilateral but not particularly rectangular as they should.  And I had some cucumber soaps that were eventually to have these beautiful dragonflies applied to them before I determined that those soaps are cost-prohibitive to create and discontinued them.  One of those bars made it to the basket; its age will guarantee a mild soap and a wildly fluffy lather.

While I was busy elsewhere, the Hubby and she pulled down and wrapped the soaps.  She was so excited to bag them up and put them in the bin!  That felt good to me, too, and the space on my rack was certainly welcome.

From Small to Colossal to Small

Do you remember KB Toys?  KB Toys was a chain of inline stores found in malls nationwide in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, with a few tenacious remnants making it into the early aughts.  I loved this store!  They had the best selection of Barbie clothes anywhere – of course, with matching shoes.

Then the 80s brought the likes of Toys ‘R Us to markets nationwide.  While KB Toys was a large chain of small stores, TRU was a large chain of huge stores.  Now, TRU is closing its doors, demolished by billions in corporate debt, as well as its big box store competitors.  According to CNN, Amazon and other online retailers did not mark the beginning of the end of TRU as previously suspected.

The vast entities known as the major online retailers – walmart(dot)com and Amazon, to name the two biggest – certainly didn’t help matters any.  In the past ten years or so, while many people dragged themselves out into chilly late November weather to battle the after Thanksgiving toy store mobs, many others stayed home and shopped in their pajamas, enjoying free shipping and avoiding the crowds.  As Cyber Monday became more of a thing, businesses everywhere encouraged customers to buy online instead of from brick and mortar businesses.

Toys ‘R Us’s problems were at the corporate level.  Too much debt, too poorly managed assets.  Sure, I shopped at TRU several times, and I’ll never forget the excitement of completing our baby registry at Babies ‘R Us when Hubby and I were expecting our first child.  However, I never got that feeling shopping at TRU that I remembered from KB Toys.  While the warehouse-feeling space was vast, it felt impersonal, and there was seldom a great selection of what I wanted.  Two aisles of console games?  No, thank you.  An entire creepy doll aisle?  Get me outta here!  And by the time my older daughter was into Barbies…  Where the heck are all the Barbie ensembles???  Plus, I thought the prices were ridiculously high compared to KB Toys (when I was at a toy-buying age during the companies’ overlap).

Small retailers do struggle with this to some degree.  When will a corporate giant sink us?  Yet, a lot of us indie retailers were born, grew, and thrived over against our big box store counterparts.  We can offer what customers want.  Products I make and sell are not available from Bath & Body Works, for example.  Customers get to meet us personally and often get a sneak peek behind the scenes at what’s going on with our brands.  Many times, they also get the opportunity to give us quick feedback on products we carry that impact the business directly.  Small indie business becomes a relationship between seller and guest, and we love nurturing that relationship.

And now, what do I see but that KB Toys is coming back!  A company that revitalizes old brands has bought the KB Toys name and plans to open 1000 stores for Black Friday and the holiday selling season.  I suspect that a lot of GenXers who share my nostalgia around the brand and the experience of shopping there will line up to bring some of that remembered joy to their own children.  I hope the owners will not go big but will instead focus on smaller size with outstanding customer care.

KB Toys logo
KB Toys is coming back! So exciting!

The likes of Amazon and Walmart will be with us for the foreseeable future.  They’re both retail giants who have managed to maximize profits.  Additionally, Amazon treats its employees well and pays them far above the minimum wage favored by some retailers.  I enjoy my Prime membership and the perks it brings me as I happily click my way to new stuff.  Yet, the small indie retailers will also be around for the foreseeable future, because we can offer what no dot com can; a personal and personalized shopping experience.  Amazon is not going to message me to let me know that they have a new assortment of workout tanks or that those shorts I ordered are on sale if I want to get more of them.  However, a small business owner will take the time to contact a customer, making that person feel important.  Plus, we humans are tactile shoppers.  We like to feel, smell, and experience the things we’re thinking about buying.  No online experience can duplicate that.

How do you like to shop?  Will online retailers wipe out your brick & mortar shopping trips?

 

Just Eat the Damn Dessert Already!

It’s been one of those days.  Shoot, it’s been one of those WEEKS!  My daughters are taking turns being the conductor and the engineer of the crazy train, I’m working, school is taking forever to complete because of their misbehavior, and some crazy evil spirit has possessed my usually angelic younger child, a spirit that can’t be exercised exorcised because her soccer practices have been cancelled all week due to rain.

After a particularly trying day today, I was ready for a 2″ tall chocolate cupcake “lightly” frosted with 4″ of buttercream icing.  Upon hearing that, my teen – God bless her! – started tossing dark chocolate Doves at me.  That got us through inverse logarithms.  But dang, I still was having lustful urges towards cupcakes or these new espresso brownies our local coffee shop posted to their Instagram feed yesterday.  You know, when things are going to crap, you just want some comfort food, and my comfort comes in the form of chocolate.

Español: chocolate en piezas
Español: chocolate en piezas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet, comfort food isn’t exactly good for the waist, nor is it good when one is trying to live the healthy coastal lifestyle.  So what’s a person to do?  Easy!  Just eat the damn dessert already!  When the spirit is drained, the head is pounding, and you just want to crawl up and have a good cry, just eat the blasted sweets!  Take comfort where you can.  Tomorrow you can get back to pounding the pavement.

And total psychological recovery requires both.  Don’t deprive yourself of the treat, but also don’t beat yourself up for indulging in it.  When you go to bed, the day is over, and when you awaken the next morning, it’s the perfect opportunity to start all over fresh.  It’s also the perfect time to lace up the sneakers and get outside.  Take a walk or a jog.  The important part here is to get fresh air, clear your mind, and get some exercise.  Follow that with some mindful stretching, yoga, perhaps.  Fuel up for the day, and swing right back into the healthy coastal lifestyle.

How do you recover after a particularly stressful day?  Comment below.

You Can Take It Back Home With You

Do you ever go to the beach and wish you could bring something back home with you?  Other than the tons of sand in towels, beach toys, and shells, that is?

When I was growing up, we had really hard well water.  After a while, of course, the minerals from the water would build up on our hair.  Every time we went to the beach, Mom would luxuriate in how the soft beach water made her hair feel – soft, light, and conditioned.  When my parents built their house some 20ish years ago, one of their top priorities was a water softening system, because Mom wanted her hair always to feel soft and not weighted down.

Also when I was growing up, my grandparents had the best water.  They lived 20 minutes from us (so nowhere near the beach), and that water made the most amazing coffee!  It was so good and turned this one-cup-a-day drinker to a 3-cup drinker while I was at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  When I was in high school, my grandparents got a place at the beach so Grandpa would have someplace to stay when he was fishing.  Welcome beach water!  It had the same sweet flavor of my grandparents’ water, but even better!

Fast forward several years to my meeting Peter and spending time at his parents’ beach house.  I was living in a place with awful municipal water; I had to add lemon juice to make it palatable to me.  But the beach house…  One sniff and I knew the water would be as incredible as at my grandparents’ home.  I tasted it and was sent back to their house while I was growing up.  Cup after cup of the smoothest coffee went down while I sat or stood on the dock, savoring the delicious flavor dancing on my tongue.

Fast forward a few more years, and since we couldn’t bring enough water back to keep me satisfied, we went to where the water is.  We moved to the beach, and the water is almost as smooth and soft as what my Grandparents had.  (And I certainly drink enough of it!)  A little farther east, and we discovered the water at Kure Beach is reminiscent of that which was at the beach house.  I can bring a little of that back with me, and I do every time we’re there.

Moving to the beach isn’t an option for many people.  Some can’t afford it, some prefer living elsewhere, and still others love the idea all the way up to hurricane season, when the idea doesn’t seem quite as winning.  When you can’t turn your vacation into something more permanent, you can bring the beach back home with you (no vacuuming required).

Wherever your vacation takes you along our glorious North Carolina coast, we have a soap for you so you can savor those vacation memories just a little bit longer.  Starting on the northern part of the coast takes you to world-class surfing, wind-swept dunes, and wildly primitive beaches.  Outer Banks Storm captures this area with its rustic cedar-shingled homes and the sharp tang as a storm blows in from the sea.

Outer Banks soap
Outer Banks Storm

 

Go south just a little bit and the southern Outer Banks takes you to Crystal Coast Morning.  You know those mornings at my in-laws’ beach house I mentioned?  I captured them in this scent – sans coffee.  Zippy and fresh, this scent is like waking up on a late autumn morning to an empty beach in the off-season when the air is pure and crisp and all that tickles your ears are the sounds of waves kissing the sand.

CCM soap
Crystal Coast Morning

Keep going a little further south and you arrive at our gorgeous Cape Fear beaches.  The Cape Fear River meanders its way from mid-state to the ocean and lends its name to this region.  Surf City, Topsail, Wrightsville, Carolina, Kure Beaches… Each wonderful in its own right, depending on what you’re looking for.  We generally go to Kure Beach.  It’s a quiet beach with a fishing pier and lifeguards, as well as a public bath house and free parking.  And I mentioned the water, right?  Kure Beach Afternoon is pure ocean with a slight tangy zip underscored by a whisper of sunscreen.  It’s hanging out at the beach with a bunch of other local home educating families on a beautiful late summer day as clouds scuttle overhead.

Kure Beach soap
Kure Beach Afternoon

And finally, we come to Ocean Isle Beach, easily one of the jewels of our Brunswick County Beaches.  This island is paradise just after the season ends when it’s still warm enough to enjoy the beach but the isle isn’t thronged with tourists.  My teen and I enjoy weekends away each year to a resort on the island.  Wide, powdery, sandy beaches; calm waters; and the rustle of palm fronds overhead as we sit on our balcony or float in the pool.  It’s a beach vacation made for chillin’ and sipping something cold and fruity while all the stress melts away.  That moment became Ocean Isle Beach.  A crisp ocean scent mingles with sweet fruits as you remember what it was like to watch your cares blow away on a warm breeze.

Ocean Isle – Weekend in Paradise

Which one of these jewels of the beach would you want to bring back with you?  What memories will you love to capture in your shower?

Walking Around With a Shirt on My Head

Four years ago in 2014, the girls and I began a modified hair care regimen.  In the midst of that process, I learned that the best way to preserve curls and minimize frizz in naturally curly or wavy hair is to use a 100% cotton tee shirt to dry hair.  This is called “plopping,” because you plop your hair into the shirt before wrapping it around your head.  For four years with few exceptions, I have dried my hair with a shirt.  Yes, that’s important to my story.

Woman with shirt on her head
My hair “plopped.” Trust me when I say, I’m making no statements here, fashion or otherwise!

The girls, Mom, and I had a marvelous week away on our cruise.  We relaxed, we ate well, we walked – a LOT!  We saw ancient Mayan ruins, learned how the Mayans made their chocolate, saw an ancient Mayan soccer (type) goal, and swam and snorkeled in crystal clear, sapphire seas.

The second full day of our glorious, week-long cruise, the sun’s beams creeping over the tops of my sunglasses had caused some sore spots on my eyelids.  Yes, I had sunburned eyelids.  Ouch!  My lips were a little chapped, too.  I had some chamomile tea in the stateroom fridge for my eyelids (worked brilliantly, by the way!), and I decided to run up to the beverage station to grab some honey and sugar to whip up a quick lip scrub.

That Tuesday – for me, at least – had begun with an hour or so in the weight room before soaking in a hot tub.  Then I had to zip back to the stateroom to freshen up before a picture thing with Elsa and Anna, and after lunch, I hung at the pool with my younger daughter and a friend of mine.  Now it was time to get ready for dinner.  Formal night, so I was taking a bit of extra care with my preparation.

I’d taken a shower and spent a little extra time exfoliating and moisturizing.  I had gotten out of the shower and wrapped my hair as usual in a chartreuse (we’re talking bright yellowish-green here, folks!) t-shirt.  I threw on some clothes, slipped my feet into sandals, and announced that I was heading up to the ninth deck and would be back shortly.  Going from Deck 2 to Deck 9, I opted for the elevator.

You’d think that any one of four people would have noticed I was getting ready to walk out of the room with a bright chartreuse t-shirt on my head and stopped me.  But no.

I got into the elevator along with a guy from our deck.  He gave me a polite, social smile and a small “hi,” but didn’t say much more than that.  About the time he got off on the fifth deck, I realized I still had a shirt on my head!

At this point, I had two choices.  I could take the shirt off and look like Medusa, or I could keep it on and own the look.  I opted for the second, but not without shooting a text to Peter with an “OMG, you won’t believe what I did!”  When my elevator arrived at the ninth deck, I got off, sauntered through the adults only pool area, by the family/kiddie pools and went to the drink station where I got my honey and sugar.  Then I strutted back to the elevators, owning my unique fashion statement.

When I returned to the stateroom, I said, “You’d think one of you would have let me know I had a shirt on my head” before busting out in laughter that quickly infected our room.  We’re still laughing about that!

Now you hope, when you embarrass yourself in front of complete strangers, that you’ll never have to see them again, and out of a ship of over 2400 people, those odds are pretty decent.  But Elevator Guy?  I saw him at least twice a day.  Of course.

The Healthy Coastal Lifestyle Continues

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how my journey toward the healthy coastal lifestyle began with exercise.  As I began this journey, I determined to keep a food journal in my phone.  This helped me see what I was eating, how much I was eating, and how healthily I was eating.  After sweating through my first months of exercise, I decided to start getting serious about eating healthily.  If I was doing all this work, I definitely wanted to make sure I wasn’t sabotaging my efforts.

Now, for my caveat…  I don’t have any dietary restrictions or health conditions that prevent me from eating whatever I want.  I do have a genetic predisposition towards high cholesterol, which often sucks, given how much I like eggs, shrimp, and liver pudding, so I do limit myself on these foods.  If you have questions or concerns about how to adjust your diet, talk to your doctor first.  These tricks are what have worked for me.

Things to be aware of…  Sugar is the basic source of energy for us people.  Our bodies burn off simple sugars first – sucrose, fructose, glucose.  Then they go to carbohydrates, converting carbs into sugars.  Once our bodies don’t have any carbohydrates to consume as energy, they start attacking fat, converting fat into sugars for its use.  Keep that in mind, as it is very important for how you eat.

The food journal/diary is very important.  It’s an old trick, it’s fairly simple with today’s technology, but it’s still important.  You can go old school and write down what you eat with pen and paper.  There are computer programs and device apps that keep track of your meals, your calorie and nutrient intake, and whatever else you could want.  Mine also keeps up with my nutrient score and rewards me with a badge when I hit 80 or above (the closer to 100, the better).

Focus on carbs earlier in the day.  This gives your body time to burn it off throughout the day.  Shoot for absolutely no carbs after 5 p.m. (way easier said than done!).  Each gram of carbs is worth 4 calories, so remember that when you’re ready to dive into that Cinnabon.  I hit another plateau in my weight loss, so I started cutting back on carbohydrates, forcing my body into fat-burning mode with the twice-weekly aerobics classes and thrice-weekly walk/jogs.

Working, exercising, straining muscles need protein.  Proteins help repair muscles after workouts, though a protein hit an hour before your workout will boost you gloriously through it.  I grab milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a cheese stick.  Proteins will also help you feel fuller for longer, so you won’t be as tempted to snack.

We can’t forget the fats, though.  It’s gratifying seeing that I truly am cutting carbs, but it’s also disheartening to see the fat grams stacking up.  Our bodies need fat, though.  It’s essential to the metabolism of vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Keep it lean as much as humanly possible, though, avoiding saturated fats and embracing unsaturated.

I honestly deny myself nothing.  If I want dessert, I eat dessert – but only if I’ve kept the eating limited throughout the day.  When I know I’m going to be eating heavily, such as at special dinners, I just go with some lean protein for lunch.  I learned several years ago that when I crave something, I should enjoy it in moderation and get rid of the craving.  Otherwise, that craving becomes an obsession.  At the same time, I listen to my body’s cravings, because usually it craves foods with nutrients it needs.

Working out paired with dietary changes has made a huge difference in how I’ve felt and in my healthy lifestyle journey.  I had to make a wardrobe transition, donating too-big clothes and buying new clothes that are already feeling loose.  But it’s all good, because I see the changes in my body, both in the mirror and when I feel the new muscle tone in my back, arms, abs, and thighs.  And just Sunday, a friend/aerobics instructor said she could see in my face that I’ve lost weight.  When I washed my face last night, I could see my cheekbones have reemerged – those lovely cheekbones that bely my Cherokee heritage.  It’s so good seeing them again!

What steps will you make towards embracing the healthy coastal lifestyle?  Here we are, early in the year with New Year’s resolutions and Super Bowl junk foodin’ behind us.  It’s a great time to get serious!  We’ve got this!

 

The Healthy Coastal Lifestyle Begins With Exercise

For me, it began with exercise.

This week has included celebration as a bunch of a friend’s friends and I celebrated her 10-pound weight loss in the last month.  That’s tremendous, because she owns the fact that all she’s done is hit the treadmill.  Yet, she’s not seeing results as she’s expecting.

Thinking about Kim’s success made me think back over my health journey and what I would tell someone who’s just starting out – what’s worked, what hasn’t, what my obstacles and frustrations have been.  For me, it started with a decision.

There’s what I stated publicly – very specific, measurable goals.

Screen shot of Facebook post
My publicly stated goals

But then I also had some powerful internal motivations, as well.  My husband has a seizure disorder, and nothing makes me feel more powerless than seeing him on the floor and not having the upper body strength to even come close to helping him up.  I’m an only child of parents that are getting older.  When they get older and not able to take care of themselves, I’ll need to take care of them.  I also have an aunt who doesn’t have children and therefore, no one but me to take care of her when she reaches her advanced years.  I’ll own that I haven’t always been in good physical shape, so I want to make sure that I’m healthy enough to ease the burden on my own family should I need them to care for me at some point.  Basically, a large part of my motivation is to be in shape to care for others.

Caveat:  What I’m describing is what has worked for me.  Every single body is different with different needs for different daily activities.  I’ll cover my dietary restrictions – or lack thereof – in a future post.

On 1 October 2016, after months of high-level stressors including the loss of a once-cherished friend, I frankly got tired of being fat and feeling unhealthy.  I was tired of not looking good in my clothes, despite the slight strengthening I’d felt in my legs from months of rehab and in my arms from some light weightlifting.  So, I girled up and stepped on the scales.  After all, I had to learn where I was before I could determine where I needed to go.

It had begun with rehab the January before.  Doing one set each of exercises in the beginning was all well and good, but as the number of sets increased, I had to have something to do in those rest periods besides twiddle my thumbs and peruse Facebook.  So, I grabbed a pair of 2-pound weights and started doing arm exercises.  It was good, but not enough.

One of the key factors I had to take into consideration was the strength and durability of my knees, my recovering right one, especially.  I began to walk.  And walk.  And walk.  I found I really loved walking outside and would do so every chance I had.  We live in a safe neighborhood, and our town boasts a lovely, well-maintained pedestrian/bike trail that circles the historic downtown area.  I’d walk throughout the neighborhood 2-3 days a week – it’s 2.6 miles twice around – then I’d walk around downtown while my teen was in her weekly dance class.

And on the other days, I did strength training – squats, lunges, bridge lifts, crunches (soooo many crunches!), bicep curls, lateral lifts, and tricep curls.  I also began to keep a food journal in my phone; the Samsung Health app includes all this.  I was feeling great!  I was disciplined, and nothing was going to keep me from achieving my goals.

I was three months in.  My clothes were getting loose, and unseasonably warm temps meant I was outside a LOT.  Time to step on the scales for the first time after the holidays.  I’d lost… 3 pounds.  THREE.  Not 13.  Not 30.  3.  At that point, I decided to start looking at measurements instead of weight.  That was much more delightful to track, because while I was burning fat, I was also building muscle.  Often, my losses and my gains canceled each other out.  But imagine a pound of feathers.  Pretty bulky and voluptuous, right?  Now imagine a pound of brick.  It still weighs the same as the feathers, but it’s compact.  That’s what was going on in my body.  The fat has more volume than the muscle, so it takes up more space.

I kept at it, adding biking when the weather warmed up and swimming when things got really hot.  I walked still and ran up and down the field with my soccer teams.  The pounds and inches kept disappearing, the clothes got baggier and baggier.  Last fall, I got tired of the plateau I’d hit and kicked things up with low-impact aerobics.  That lasted just a few weeks before winter break, so I found a Dance2Fit class offered for free just a couple of miles from home.  That’s seriously high intensity that leaves me pouring sweat by the time I’m done.  It’s great!

Throughout all these exercises, some things changed on my inside.  First, if I exercise in the second half of the day, I sleep much better at night.  Exercising that strenuously has also been a good way to increase my water intake.  As I resumed walking last month, yet another change became apparent.  The dancing and aerobics have strengthened my heart muscle (yes, the heart is technically a muscle), and what used to feel “strenuous” is now easy to me.  My rate of speed has increased by a half mile per hour in the last year and I’ve even been able to jog some.  Yet, my heartrate stays comfortably on target or even a little below.  It looks like my challenge will be to kick things up a little bit more.

That’s the cardio side of things, but what about the strength training?  I’ve gotten heavier weights that I’ve been using, and the results are becoming more and more apparent.  For the first time since I was six, I’m able to wear an off-the-shoulder blouse, because I have the sexy shoulders to pull it off.

Woohoo! Sexy shoulders!

The gain has been worth the pain, that’s for sure!  My core is stronger, giving me a stronger back and better posture.  My arms and legs have new contours and sleeker appearances, and both are stronger, able to do more, lift more, live more.

When it comes to living the healthy coastal lifestyle, exercise will come easier to some people, while eating right will be easier for others.  I liked starting with exercise, because I was adding something positive to my life.  When that friendship I mentioned above blew up, suddenly I had lots more time in my days to devote to taking care of myself.  Eating the right way inevitably means taking out something we like.  Maybe it’s that bit of sweet after dinner or the cold PopTarts breakfast as we run out the door.  Working out and beginning to feel those results – while also keeping a food journal – served as great motivation to change my eating habits, which I’ll discuss in the next post.

We’re one month into the New Year.  How are those resolutions coming?  Is your gym membership card or that new piece of exercise equipment starting to collect dust?  Time to dust it off.  Don’t let a week or two of slackness derail your goals.  You’ve got this!

The Morning Routine

My days are seeing something new and wonderful – warmer temperatures, longer days, and free time to get outside.  With these delightful improvements over snow, ice, and below-freezing wind chills, I’m taking every advantage of them that I can.  I’ve gotten outside and walked.  Then, the other day, something new and cool happened.

I was walking and feeling a little winded.  That didn’t make sense, since I’d already done cardio two other times earlier in the week.  When my fitness app gave me my 1-mile progress report, I discovered why I’d felt winded – I was averaging 3.8 miles per hour!  Talk about some hustle, and that’s a pretty significant improvement over last year at this time!  Then something totally new happened.  I was into my second lap, and my stride shortened and my steps quickened, and next thing I know, I’m jogging and loving it!  Except for up and down the football pitch with kids, I haven’t jogged since high school.

With all this time outside and the dry winter air, my skin needs a little extra TLC.  After I exercise, I shower with a luscious beer- or milk-based soap.  Currently, I’m

Outer Banks Soap
Outer Banks Beer Soap. Ideal for men, but perfect for both men and women.

using a bar of a vintage beer soap from my old brand, but if I were to use any soap I have on hand, this time of year just screams for Lavender & Goat Milk.

Goat's Milk and Lavender soap
Goat’s Milk & Lavender Lotion – all natural with oodles of skin lovin’ stuff!

Goat’s milk has awesome skin-loving vitamins with antioxidant properties, and the lavender simply soothes the soul.  This soap leaves my skin soft, supple, and moisturized – perfect for everyday skin comfort.

Truth:  Right now, I’m wearing pants all day every day, which means I really don’t care how my legs look.  When I do care, like when someone may actually see them, I follow my shower with a light application of Orange Blossom & Amber Body Creme.  Not only does it smell heavenly, but the blend of coconut cream and avocado oil slays the alligators my legs can become on the driest of days.

body creme picture
Orange Blossom & Amber Coconut & Avocado Body Creme

Body Creme or not, I finish my body care routine with a light application of Tahiti Kiss Face Creme.  This is my most popular product ever, and for good reason.  This whisper-light face creme soaks into skin, bathing it instantly in rich

Tahiti Kiss face creme
Tahiti Kiss, a luxuriously extraordinary face crème, will treat your skin to a taste of the South Pacific

moisture that doesn’t leave skin greasy.  Plus, its light floral scent lingers gently all day without clashing with your favorite body scents.  One customer said that it makes her skin look bronze (there’s no coloring added).  Another commented about how it makes her skin glow.  This creme is fabulous for either day or night!

Once I’ve exercised, washed, and moisturized, I’m ready to tackle anything the day can throw at me!  Taking just that little bit of time to pamper my skin feels luxurious and indulgent, which is a great way to kick off the day!

I hope you’ll join us tomorrow, Tuesday, 23 January, as I go live talking about these awesome products and sharing some new discoveries I’ve made in pursuing the healthy coastal lifestyle.  You can join us at noon eastern in the Coastal Carolina Soap Co. Facebook group.