Monday, July 16

$47 Amazon lash booster + 15 of my favorite products for Prime Day & beyond

I don't know much about the Nordstrom sale but I do love Amazon Prime and rely on it for SO many of our purchases!  The 2 day shipping and free returns are lifesavers for this mama of 3, and since we've never had cable, Amazon Video is how they watch most of their favorite shows.  We also shop at Whole Foods and getting free money through using the Whole Foods app for in store coupons is my absolute jam!  I love consolidation and efficiency so this post rounds up some of my absolute favorite purchases that I make through Amazon!  Leave me a comment with a purchase from Amazon that you can't live without!

1.  //THIS LASH BOOST// Ok so everyone has been asking me about what I'm using on my lashes.  Thanks to my sweet friend Julie who got me started on this stuff last year (thanks Jules), I have been using it about every other night on my lashes to keep them full and long.  Give it about 6 weeks of nightly use and you will be shocked at the results!

Can't live without my bulk order of Lash Paradise thanks to my amazing sister in love Mindy! The lash boost and mascara are a dynamic duo!!!

3.  //Spin Pins//
We all know how I can't live without these things.  I can do a cute messy top knot every day of the week and my head not hurt!  I carry a couple around every where I go and they always save me from the heat or if I just need to quickly do an updo!  Also, in case you're curious I have a whole blog post dedicated to my love for spin pins with a little tutorial on how I quickly put my hair up, read it here.

Turn heads at the pool with this FABULOUS swim suit!  Put on the suit, get in the pool, and be fabulous! I get 400 compliments every time I wear it, and I always shout out that it was $25 from Amazon because I'm a boujie on a budget hah!

5.  This ChicWish skirt is one of my favorite purchases this summer!  It is so beautiful and breezy and light weight and I can wear it with a million different tops and no one knows when there is sweat running down my legs!

6.  //Waist Trainer//
One of my biggest fitness goals this year is to close my distasis recti.  This works both as a back and core support as recommended by my trainer Devon (, follow her and you will be amazed!).  I have bound my stomach ever since we birthed Ari Love so getting to a waist trainer in this stage of my fitness journey has been amazing!

This is the reason not only did we survive Whole30 with no coffee creamer but the reason we thrived cutting sugar out and I finally acquired the taste for delicious black coffee with velvet almond milk froth on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon! It is so beautiful for having guests over and impressing them with your barista skills by treating them not only to a beautiful drink, but healthy too!  I use it for everything, including my new favorite matcha tea lattes!  Best $32 we ever spent!

8.  Nutpods are the Whole30 approved super duper creamy almond milk sugar free non-processed creamer that I use in my frother to give me the deliciously textured velvet topping for my coffee!  If you've been trying to stop you addiction to coffeemate (ahem I'm talking about me) then these are the perfect substitute!

I have this on recurring order because I can't live without it!  Thanks to my other amazing sister in love who turned me on to it!  I have been using it daily for about 2 years and I immediately feel like the sun is wrinkling my face if I don't have it on.  If you're curious about my skin care routine, I have this whole blog post on it!

10.  //Clarisonic//
I'm coming to terms with my good addictions, and my clarisonic brush is definitely one of them.  It's like, I haven't even really washed my face if I don't use my brush.  I've been using it twice a day, every day since I turned 30!  Thanks again to my LL who turned me onto this too!

I also have this on recurring order and don't feel normal if I don't take my nightly Magnesium y'all.  Who am I?!  It's like the secret sauce for feeling good the next day, helps my sore muscles after a hard work out, keeps you regular (ya, that kind of regular cuz we ain't 21 no more boos hahah) among a variety of other health benefits!

We have tried every single one of the other natural bug repellant products because I am 100% about crunchy mom life and this is the only one that ACTUALLY works for the mutant Arkansas bugs!

13. //More tops (on LEFT) that I'm obsessed with (on RIGHT) perfect for the Fall Transition//

14. //Hydroflask//
Do I need to say more than this is the only way we drink enough water.  

This was on day 8 of no hair washing and only using this dry shampoo.  um ok haha sign me up!!

I can think of a lot more things but I rounded up my absolute favorite things that make our life better!  Happy Prime Day!!


Monday, March 19

I Spend My Husband's Money

No, I don’t ask permission.  No, I’m not stealing.  No, I'm not taking advantage of him.   

Yes, he knows.

I write this from the perspective of a woman who for a while, made more money than my husband, and who supported us as a couple.  I consider myself strong, intelligent, and independent.

I love what God says about humility.  That we either live humbly or we become humbled.
Well boy did the Lord work on my heart.  While I am aware that talking about finances makes people really uncomfortable, lets just go ahead and start the fidgeting, wiggling in our seats, and get out of our comfort zone shall we.  Our story about our finances has been on my heart for a long time.  Really, ever since I became a “stay at home mom." Which I don’t know who even came up with that term considering we do everything but stay home most days 🙈  I personally prefer "professional homemaker" as it says on our tax return.

That’s really the turning point of when a lot of things stopped making sense and started making sense for me all at the same time.  When Ariella Love birthed me as a mother, in many ways I had to get to know myself all over again.  Things that I used to be so confident about became my biggest source of insecurity.  As I reflected and relished in this beautiful tiny little baby whose existence changed my entire being, God started to speak to my heart about my identity and I started to share my journey on my blog.  I wrote this blog post on why my degree was not a waste of time because I slowly but surely started attaining the confidence to rest in the peace of my new calling, my work.

I used to think this about my own mother.  An incredible woman who dedicated her life to taking care of my dad and my brothers and I.  I used to think that she was weak for settling, where somewhere along the way she had lost her ambition, and that surely no one chooses this.  We had delicious home cooked meals every single day and our clothes were always perfectly folded and she made sure that every new Arab person in town felt welcomed and that our home was their home away from home and she clothed the naked and fed the hungry and volunteered at churches and mosques and synagogues and conducted tolerance events and went to the cancer center to rub a dying Irani woman's feet who was in America with no family.  I can't even begin to describe to you what it was like to watch my auntie rub my own dying mother's feet.  For a long time, I didn't know nor did I appreciate what I had in my mother, until I became a mother myself.  I don't have any regrets but so much of my healing right now is to tell you about things that I wish I would have known then, and what she is continuing to teach me now, even though she isn't physically here anymore.  My father has always told me "Ya Madina, if you can, learn from other people's mistakes so that you can save yourself the heartache of making them too."  How right you have been Papa.  I have and am preparing myself for my own children’s perspective of my choices, which is a big reason why I write in this space. For our precious daughters, to know their mothers heart and to be encouraged and perhaps to have insight into why they are my why.

My husband and I have had a joint checking account since about 3 months after we started dating. Now I know that sounds utterly idiotic to some, but as soon as I met him, I knew I wanted him to be my husband and I was determined to not let money become a reason that broke us apart and be yet another statistic.  I’m not saying everyone should do this, in fact, most of you probably shouldn't.  I’m just saying that this was something that was laid on my heart not truly knowing the impact that it would have on our future as a married couple.  He was a poor medical resident and I had been working as a full time clinical pharmacist for a couple of years.  I’ll never forget on our first date, I told him that I had a financial advisor since I was 23 and he told me how sexy that was.  I also let him pay my tab hah!

I had gone on a different date a couple of months prior to meeting the love of my life and obviously it didn’t work out thank goodness. This particular guy told me that independent women such as myself were not attractive and that I should probably pay my own tab since I made more money than he did. Haha, bye bye buddy, your insecurity, not mine.

After quitting my job a week before our wedding in 2012, I’ll also never forget the day that my husband and I decided that I would not go back to pharmacy.  We were at the Starbucks drive-through, I was 4 months pregnant.  It’s one of those moments that is forever ingrained in my mind because of the impact that I now know that conversation has had on me as well. My darling Brent told me that nothing would make him happier than me being the primary person raising our children.  And whether I would consider trusting him to provide enough for us.  I said yes, to him then, and I’m still saying yes to him now.

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here, that you have to make the same choices as we have, please please please. The thing is, I have understood that this is a privilege, to even have the ability to have this choice to make. And I promise I don’t take it lightly or for granted and this is why I'm writing this.  I'm tired of justifying to people that he's not my sugar daddy.

Shortly after, we moved to Hawaii, one of the most expensive places to live on Earth, and I had to trust my husband, to provide enough for us as we embarked on our new life as parents.  We lived in a hotel at first, and then a 1 bedroom apartment.  We didn't have room in our home or in our budget for much more than necessities.  I had to put aside what I realized had become a part of my identity, how much money I made.  I had to humble myself as to what I thought defined a strong, intelligent, and independent woman.  I had to be ok with less, when the world still tries to tell me that we need more. And more.  And more.

The day that I started seeing my work as a wife and mother as a calling, as a ministry, that’s when everything changed.  The way that I had viewed my mother completely changed.  Our daughters see their mama take a few hours to go get her nails done, and hair done, and exercise.  I know that sounds so super boogie (is that what the kids call it these days?) but I’m not apologizing for it.  My husband is the one that encourages me to do so.  Our girls see their mama scrub the toilet, wash endless dishes, wipe poop off the walls, prepare healthy homemade meals for their incredible daddy, for them, put furniture together, use Powertools, they see me sacrifice endless hours of sleep to cuddle them at night to make them feel safe and loved, and surrender my breasts to breastfeeding them day and night, sacrificing time with my love to be there for them when they only want mama.

I read a study once that monetized what “stay at home moms” would get paid, if we got paid for all that we do.  It was something like $120,000 a year.  Yeah, afford that.  We are household managers, spiritual leaders, encourages, nurturers, booboo kissers, financial advisors, detectives, teachers, lovers, friends...

Brent and I have budget meetings and talk about money very openly.  He trusts me to make the best financial decisions for us just like I trust him to do the same, but to be a Godly man first.  Don't listen to the lie that says marriage is 50/50, marriage is 100/100.  Marriage is hard work.  Parenting is hard work.  And on top of that, he works really really hard to provide enough and encourages me to make sure to take some time for myself, so that I can pour out to him and our daughters from a full cup.  The funny thing is that he's the one that asks me before he buys stuff.

My husband believed in me before I ever believed in myself.  I love him so much for that.  I've told him this before but let me tell him again.  My sweet darling, your endless love and support and grace that you have given and continue to give me is what brought me to the Lord.  If you ever start questioning your purpose or feel that you haven't done enough good in this world, just remember what you've done for me, showing me the love of God is the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

I guess all I’m really trying to say is that my marriage and motherhood journey has made me realize that this had so much less to do with finances and more to do with my own self worth.  What we do on a daily basis is priceless.  The mundane, the repetition, the seemingly uninteresting or unimportant tasks of the day are everything but that.  It is enough.  The thing about enough is that what I miss most about my mama aren’t the lavish things that we did or things that she bought for me or the house that we lived in or whatever else.  I miss the mundane.  I miss peeling potatoes with her in the kitchen.  I miss the way she put her perfume on before she went to bed.  I miss her cooking.  The way she folded my clothes and how she refused to use a dishwasher.  I miss the way she scrubbed the floor, the Algerian (read difficult haha) way with a big wash rag on a squeegee thing (you literally have to be Algerian to understand this) because she didn’t believe in mops.  I miss exercising with her around our neighborhood, I miss the way she brushed my hair.  No amount of money or title or whatever can ever replace that.

In her last days, my mama told me that she was so proud of me.  She poured her heart and soul into being my mother, and forever, she will always be enough.

Friday, March 9

Why We Choose The Little Gym of Little Rock

When we moved back to Little Rock almost 2 years ago, I was so anxious to get the girls back into a new routine and involved in fun activities like the ones that we were a part of in Hawaii.  I always hear that word of mouth is more powerful than advertising will ever be and this fact proves itself to me time and time again, especially in the world of motherhood.  Mamas talk, and we let each other know who treats our babies right and who doesn't.  

Wednesday, March 7

12 ways that helped me get in the best shape of my life post 3 babies in 3 years

Sometime between wanting to write this post, being asked to write it by so many sweet people, and actually writing it, my mama passed away.  For a while before she passed and still now, I was stuck in a place of sadness of her illness and joy in the beauty of my life and not really being able to think of much more than taking care of my family and finding a second somewhere in there to take care of myself.  This is kind of how it all started if I'm being really honest with you, and with myself.

I needed an outlet where I could practice some sort of self control because a lot of my world felt like it was falling apart.  Up until now, it seemed silly to talk about anything beside my amazing mother and how her death is a turning point in my life.  I realized though that talking about my health and wellness journey has just as much to do with my mama as it has to do with me.  So here it is.

I took out my frustrations in the gym.  I took my sadness to the stair master and my pain to the weight machines and my lack of control to my nutrition.  I *think* this was/is somewhat of a healthy way to cope.  Coping is something that I am still re-learning how to do daily so I hope you will bear with me.

I feel like some people want to know what my magic secret is.  If you came here to read about a pill that curbed my cravings or a machine that blasted the fat off my love handles or a diet that I followed, I am sorry to tell you that I have none of those things here for you.  It's ok to not be focused on the long-term, I didn't used to be either.  In fact, one of the biggest things that I have learned the past few years is how to truly live in the moment, so I get it.  I'm not here to ever judge you and I hope you can do the same for me.  What really changed me though is thinking about the quality of the hopeful years with my darling and our beautiful babies.  I didn't get more years with my mama but I did get 32 incredible ones, and it was because of the way she took care of herself.  I'm sure some of you are thinking oh but your mom died of cancer so she must have done something wrong.  First of all, $%&* you hahah forgive me Lord for I have sinned.  I know someone out there is thinking that right now and it's one of those things that irks me about the wrong things that people say to a grieving person.  Goodness, I'm glad I can laugh about that!  The way my mama died has nothing to do with how she lived, you better believe it.  Her lively spirit, strength, continuous determination, healthy living, regular exercise, and a heart full of love is why she lived as long as she did.  So yeah, I want to be just like her.  Ok I'm crying now and as soon as I can see again I'll keep going.  Also this will likely be long because I have a lot to say and want to be as transparent and real with you as possible.

5 month progress

So here are 12 non-magic ways that helped me reach my fitness goals:

1.  Figure out your why.
I want to be an example to the little girls that I have been called to lead, that call me mommy.  I will take care of my joints that felt like they belonged in the body of a 90 year old because of 3 years of elastin build up from subsequent pregnancies.  No more feeling like I might fall down the stairs.  No more negative thoughts.  No more being the human trash can of cheddar bunnies and macaroni and cheese because of the fear of throwing food away haha or was that just me?! My husband and our girls became my accountability, and I don't really think they even know it.  My grief became my accountability.

Whole30 2017 and Whole30 2018

2.  Start somewhere.  Anywhere.
 "A year from now, you'll be so glad you started."  When Florence was 6 months old and I felt confident that my body and my mind were ready and more importantly, confident that I could feed my husband meat and vegetables for 30 days haha, we embarked on a Whole30 Program journey together.  (We actually just finished our 2nd Whole30 month a couple of days ago.)  My priority is breastfeeding so I knew that if anything, my milk production would be richer with more wholesome food and I was at a point where my milk supply had stabilized for quite some time.  Lets face it, up until then, I was happily surviving on coffee and cheddar bunnies off the hardwood floor.  I did zero calorie restriction and focused solely on what I was eating and not how much or when.  I will go more into detail on how Whole30 changed our life in a future post but I mainly did it for my husband because he felt like he needed to get a grasp on nutrition since he is over 35 and so sexy and all (mm hmm).  I didn't realize it would also change me as well!  Then on a random day in June of 2017, the girls were playing with their grandmother and I just felt like I had to go outside for a walk or something.  I accidentally started running that day and incorporated exercise into my life again.  It became my therapy.  I'm totally ok about telling you that I was in a place where I knew I needed some serious therapy.  I wanted to go see someone but when you're married to a psychiatrist, walking into his clinic to see a therapist just didn't feel right at the time.  I don't think I was clinically depressed but I had major anxiety and knew I *might* need medications but I wanted to try natural ways first because of breastfeeding.  I support therapy and medications 100% and mental health is something that I am SO passionate about.  Another thing about being married to a psychiatrist is that while I provide a lot of therapy for him, at this point in my life, he was working not only at the clinic, but also at home with me.  I am so thankful for you my darling.  I cried a lot on the StairMaster and while weight training.  I loved the way strength training made me feel and the high that it gave me so I dedicated about twice a week to therapy.  I wrote this post on balancing self-care and motherhood if you're struggling with that like I did.  This self-care slowly changed the way I thought about food and at this point it felt like I had lost about 30lb.  I love how my entire family benefited so much from being more intentional about the food that we ate together, which was mostly paleo.  I could definitely see changes in my body but I never weighed myself.  This process happened from about February to September, so it took 7 or so months.

3.  Focus on the inside.
My mama took such good care of herself and she is an example of strength and health to me.  She was beautiful in her life and just as beautiful, if not even more so, in her death.  It had nothing to do with what she looked like on the outside and everything to do with her amazing spirit.  No one is going to talk about your amazing 6 pack at your funeral ok.  Trust me.  Death is going to happen to all of us, sorry to break that to you haha!  I decided that I want to live my best life every single day that I get to wake up and kiss my husband and our beautiful daughters.  I started with reading about how the Lord thinks about me.  And if I may me bold, if I love God and believe what He says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that I am made in His image, then I will love myself exactly as I am right now.  Right now.  Right this minute.  Fifty pounds overweight and love handles and stretch marks and giggly arms and everything that some people might tell you was undesirable.  Stop using negative words, speak life into yourself!  You are worthy.  If anything at first, I pushed away negative thoughts.  I don't even like to say this but it's true that I faked some of it until I made it.  "You're fat."  "No, you're soft and lovely.""Your arms are big."  "No, they are strong and can hold 3 babies 23 out of 24 hours in a day." "Your hips are too wide."  "Well these hips didn't lie when they birthed 3 babies vaginally with no medication right in our bedroom so get behind me Satan because you're the liar."

  Love yourself unconditionally- The only jeans I wear are @goodamerican

4.  Find a person who inspires you.
For me it's my husband, our children, and a sweet friend who also happens to be a woman of god, a mother, and fitness trainer.  We had a playdate and photoshoot last year and she changed my life in one simple conversation.  She is a friend who believes in God, and believes in me.  She has 3 children as well, scars and pain and triumphs and failures.  She told me that I can make my body look any way that I want, even being post-partum with three beautiful baby girls in three years.  I realized that being post-partum is a power that I have, to be a strong mother.  She told me all I had to do was make the decision.  I could work out all day but was I feeding my body properly?  She asked me to track my food and send her the journal and I was kind of embarrassed to be honest.  Her belief in what I can do and what my body can do was a catalyst in trusting the process and truly believing in a clean/whole/nutritious lifestyle and not some diet that works for a few months or years.  She inspired me to keep going.

5.  Keep a log.
I found the MyFitness Pal app and started logging my intake in October, right as my mom was getting really really sick.  I could barely eat so I started doing this to make sure I could try to eat enough.  My biggest issue was eating meat, I have unintentionally become a vegetarian because starting around July, I had the most severe aversion to meat.  Every time I ate it, I would vomit about 10 minutes later.  I'm sure a lot of people thought that it was just a thing I was doing to lose weight and all but I can assure you that is not the case.  I meditated a lot on what was going on and realized that my aversion was because meat reminded me of dead things and henceforth, my mother dying.  That's almost too much to bear to even talk about here so I'm just going to leave it at that.  I'm not sure when/if I'll be able to eat meat again.  I consulted with my friend Devon and this stemmed from her asking me to send her a journal of about 3 days worth of logs of what I'm eating.  I would say that logging my food was the single most effective way that has revolutionized my physical fitness journey.  I log everything, and I still do.  The cool thing about MyFitness Pal is that it has these very non-individualized general goals that you can try to achieve to start out and that's what I used.  It gave me a general calorie goal which I added like 500 more calories to since I'm nursing and I just liked to see the health info in the foods that I logged.  It's a great and effective tool and you can always get a trainer later that can give you specific goals made just for you.

6.  Learn about your nutrition.
Knowledge is power is the truth.  I went to school for 18 years of my life and have a doctorate and I had to google "what are macronutrients."  It's a bit of a travesty how we aren't taught these things.  I mean they show you a food pyramid once but we all know it's a lie these days.  Macronutrients are your Fat, Carbohydrates, and Protein.  Logging was so neat because I could see exactly what the food that I ate was comprised of and how it helped me reach my goals for the day.  I love this because I didn't deprive myself and still ate dark chocolate cake and could control how much so much better when i knew how it fit into what I ate for the entire day.  Also, this helped me with sort of the instant gratification part of a healthy lifestyle because I could decide how to reward myself every single day, with a sweet Algerian date or some delicious cheese or whatever I was craving that was whole and nutritious, or what Devon calls "clean cheats."  When you eat clean for a while and change the way you think about food, you rarely want the nasty stuff anymore and ultimately, your palate and taste buds change and cheetos start looking like death in a bag and you can't fathom ever eating that again, regardless of what you weigh or where you are in your goals.  I think they call this flexible dieting but I don't diet so...

7.   Strength Training.
I had been running now for a while and one day I forgot my SPF 50 sunscreen (I am obsessed with my skin care, read it here if you want to know what I use) and the whole time I was running I was imagining getting cancer and leaving my family behind and while I know this is truly catastrophizing, that was one of the things that led me to start strength training in the gym.  The other part is that I wanted something that I could do at home with the girls in the days that I couldn't run.  I am 32 years old and bone health for me has started becoming really important.  When I started lifting a bit of weights, I realized that working out my muscles was probably more important for me right now than running a bunch of miles and potentially hurting my knees again.  I googled weight workouts for women and I started with this workout and then moved to this one both from SHAPE magazine.  I took screenshots of those workouts and made an album on my phone and put on my noise canceling headphones and went to work.  It was scary at first, and I was intimidated by the machines and looking silly trying to figure them out, but it became my next challenge to conquer.  Before I knew it, I had the workouts memorized and was confidently working in with the beefy sweaty guys haha.  They are still what I do at the gym now even 8 months later, I just upped the weight as I've gotten stronger.  One concern I had at first was I loved that running high so so much and wondered if I could get it while training, and the answer is absolutely!  Especially when I starting kicking my own booty on the StairMaster, and honestly, any desire to run went away.  I do an intense HIIT (high intensity interval training) StairMaster workout thing that I made up with back leg kicks and side kicks and curls and stair skips as a warm up for the endorphin high, then I keep it up on the weight floor *so many people have come up to me after my StairMaster workout telling me how they have never seen anyone do something like that haha, this is kind of what it looks like if you're curious, SO hard and SO good!)

8.  Abs really are made in the kitchen.
hahah this might be like the only thing "they" were ever right about.  I didn't really trust this concept at first and while I focused a lot on my eating, I still stressed over making sure I made it to the gym as much as possible.  Then when my mama got really sick and we were traveling a lot, the gym or even workouts at home became fewer and far between.  So I focused deeply on proper and balanced nutrition and logged every single day in MyFitness Pal, and then the weirdest thing happened.  I lost more inches and pounds over this 2 month period than I had over the period where I was obsessing over workouts!  It's still kind of crazy to me but I am now a believer!  I still only workout a couple of times a week, not more!  I don't stress over it because I know my biggest power and thing that I can control is eating properly.  I share a lot of quick recipes, meals, and products and ingredients we love on my Instagram @city_of_hearts if you're curious so make sure you follow me.  I also have highlights labeled "Healthy Eating" and "Whole 30" here on my Instagram profile if you want to see past meals and snack that I made.

5 months after I started focusing on nutrition

9.  Focus on consistency 

I read about a man's weight loss story the other day where he loved cookies so he incorporated eating a cookie a day into his macro counting and he lost 100 pounds!  I loved that story because I don't believe in dieting because it never lasts, coming from a chronic yoyo dieter in my youth.  This is basically what "clean cheats" means.  My husband and I love dark chocolate and it's really healthy and so you better believe we eat it frequently.  It's clean and organic and I look forward to indulging to be honest, whether it's cake or bars or whatever.  The fact that I know I can and will eat my favorite things means that I don't have to binge eat an entire cake in one sitting as restrictive dieting so often leads.  I enjoy my slice with some tea and love having conversation with my husband.  It's an experience and we plan on experiencing things for the rest of our lives.

10.  Be prepared. 
I am a busy mother to 3 young baby girls and a wife and so I don't pretend to be one of those people that carries her meals around from ballet to gymnastics to the park.  However, since I am always prepared with snacks for the girls, I also carry around my favorite clean protein bar for me called RXBAR!  We have been eating these since our 1st Whole30 back in 2016 because they make Whole30 approved bars and we LOVE them, my favorite is the dark chocolate sea salt.  It feels like a cheat but it's really not.  They even have a RXBAR Kids now as well and our girls love them!  I save them for when we are out and I need a quick and clean snack.  Have you read the nutritional info on so called protein bars, they have tons of sugar, no thank!  RXBARS are sweetened only with dates and my date loving Arab self is quite happy!  I also love them as dessert in the evening with a cup of tea, oh my so yum! I order them in bulk either from Amazon (here), Target carries them as well (here), and also from the RXBAR website (use this link for 25% off and free shipping!)  I also make a nut mix with walnuts, almonds, cashews, raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, and really just whatever I have lying around like dried fruit as well.  I keep it in a glass jar and my whole family snacks on it. 

11.  Intermittent fasting.
This is not something that you have to do, but I couldn't write this post about sharing a little bit about intermittent fasting.  So most people don't even know that I do this, I don't really talk about it because I don't want anyone getting the wrong picture about what you have to do to live a healthy lifestyle and/or starting something that they are not truly ready for.  I started learning about intermittent fasting when my trainer Devon said that she fasts and I was intrigued.  Now if anyone here knows anything about Ramadan, then you know I know a thing or two about fasting!  But intermittent fasting is a bit different, and about changing not what you eat, but when you eat.  I googled it and read this blog first about what it actually is and then about the long-term benefits and was hooked!  It's also easier for me because I don't have to worry about breakfast for myself since I have 3 little hungry babies to feed first!  I started in October, intermittently fasting every other day and continue to do so now and will probably do it for the rest of my life.  I am very flexible with it like if we go out to brunch with friends and other fun food filled things but generally, I stick to it very consistently.  I love that I get to have so much food in a relatively short period of time so it keeps me really in tune with what how I'm fueling my body.  So the things is I'm not telling you to do this.  I'm just saying that if you start doing this, you will probably never go back to eating the way again haha!
*sidenote* Yes, I'm STILL nursing and have a better and richer supply of milk now than I probably did before I started this!

12.  Trust the process.
"fall in love with the process, and the results will come."
I think this is so true, and also remember that slow progress is better than no progress.  Good and permanent progress takes time, don't buy into the I want it now culture that we all have to so actively go against.  Honestly, I have loved what we have experienced and how we have changed and are changing as a family through this journey.  Spiritually, mentally, physically, we all continue to benefit from trying to be better, even as we fail. The truth is, it's so much more than just about food.  Grace, love, forgiveness, these are all things that God has shown me through my mother's illness, and then her passing and this journey as a whole.  I'm so far from perfect, I'm still grieving and hurting and coping the best way I know how.  I recently realized that self-care is a huge part of the process of grief, and I was kind of amazed at how God opened my eyes, my heart, and my mind to what I needed before I ever knew I needed it.  For this, I will continue to praise Him through my hurts and joys and failures and successes and my triumphs.  

I am strong.  I am feminine.
Please leave me a comment if you have any questions or if there is something that you would like for me to elaborate on, I love to connect with you.  Thank you for being a support system for me and my family during this difficult transitional time. Also, I know some of you might look at my befores and say but you looked better then, I liked your cheeks, and so on.  I just want you to know that this isn't about which I like best as I have loved all of myself, and I am so proud of what my body has done through every single one of my transformations, my favorite will always be the babies that I was privileged to grow and birth.  This is about the change that happens on the inside.  That our mind, body, and spirit are one and I want to live my entire life growing in all of those aspects.  So much love to all you. xox

*my post contains affiliate links to only the products that we use and absolutely love.  I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you because I believe that knowledge should be free and accessible to all <3*

*While I am a (retired) medical professional with a doctorate in pharmacy, I am not YOUR medical professional.  Please consult with your physician before starting a nutrition or weight training program* 

Wednesday, December 6

By the light of the moon

I took these photographs lit by only the moonlight, when Florence Pearl was 9 months old.  I really wanted to push myself creatively and see beyond the perfect photo.  She is 15 months now and I have come to understand how incredibly precious memories are.  That is what is getting me through losing my mom.  When I get sad, I immediately think about all the amazing things that she is and was and continues to be even in her passing, then get an overwhelming sense of peace.

It's ok to look back.  It's ok to see how far you have come.  The important thing is just don't get stuck there.  Come back to knowing how beautiful the present really is.  Remember your why.  I hold true that success is not what I have done compared to what others have done.  Success is what I've done compared to what God has called me to do.  I was called to be Brent's wife and the mother of our 3 beautiful daughters.  I fail at a lot of other things, but I know that as long as I keep doing the best that I can, raising our girls into strong women, who love God and are kind to people, then none of the other stuff matters. 

Mama loves you.