thirty-two

I have been wanting to type up a formal introductory / about me post for quite some time now, as my blog shifts in to that of a lifestyle blog. As my 32nd birthday came to pass last month, it was a great time for reflection on my fitness journey and how it has changed tremendously over the last year.

In March of 2014 (coincidentally, my 31st birthday) I set out to run a 25K race (a 15.5 mile race, partially roads, mostly trail that particular race). It had been a brutal winter, weather wise. Through the course of the late autumn and winter seasons, I woke up a few times per week, layered up, and then layered up again, to put miles on the pavement to train.

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[photo above, obviously, pre-race, ha!]
After having three babies in four years, I desired to feel strong again, and be confident in my body image. Putting those layers on and running in temperatures that many times were darn near 0° F made me feel like I was strong. But truth be told, I was weak. I was eating way too much sugar during each day, probably way too much fried food, and my body did not feel physically strong to me and jiggled in too many places, and created a negative body image. And it just wouldn’t go away. I knew my heart and lungs were becoming stronger because of the training, but my mentality and my body weren’t.

Approximately nine or ten miles into the race, my mental game completely crumbled. I stopped at the top of an intense hill and gave myself about thirty seconds to let out an ugly cry and decide if I would keep going, or not. I decided not. Right in that moment I decided that I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself and I wanted nothing more to do with that particular challenge. I made it to the upcoming aid station, handed a race official my bib, and burst in to tears. I think that they were tears of relief, more than anything. I realized during that race that ultra-running is not “my thing”.

I started lifting that month. On a good week, I was able to find motivation to get to the gym three to four times a week and head outside for the occasional three mile run, or so. There were some not-so-good weeks, too. Weeks with one or two workouts. But, I was seeing progress. My body was feeling and looking stronger little by little. With each lift session, I was becoming stronger physically and mentally.

When I handed my bib in on that sunny, but chilly, March day, I made a commitment to ME, that I would go in to the gym and move heavy things. Heavier than the last time or one more rep than yesterday. My commitment to train three to four times a week turned in to five days per week and then six days per week, with a day to allow my body to rest and recover.

A full year later, I look stronger, and I feel stronger. I don’t care what size my pants are. The “mush” is turning to muscle mass, and I am finally running faster during cardio workouts.

I have become more aware of my food choices. I am making choices that help me recover from today’s workout, and better fuel tomorrow’s, all while allowing myself occasional indulgences and refusing to restrict any certain type of food. I didn’t (don’t) do a fad diet. I didn’t go carb free. I’m not on a juice cleanse, and there’s no such thing as #whole30 in my vocabulary.

What I am doing is getting OUT OF BED EARLY and choosing dumbbells over my pillow. I am lifting all the heavy things (well, heavy-to-me things). I am making sure I make healthy choices to promote health and muscle growth, and I am listening to my body when I have cravings.

I have a long way to go. But I am confident that I will get there and that this is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. And, I don’t get these workouts in because I am a stay-at-home-mom. I get them in because I get up at 4:00 AM. [I wrote more on how I stay motivated to keep up this habit, here.]

I find my motivation in being better than me. Better today than I was yesterday. I find my motivation in three boys. Three boys. I cannot take it lightly that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to give me these three boys to raise in to young men. In to warriors for his army. If I am going to keep up, and ENJOY keeping up, I need to be strong while I am able. This body God has given is a temple, and right now, it is disease and handicap free and I am going to be a steward of that incredible blessing.

side note: while this is not a post about running or trail-racing, I can say that the shoes I used for training were fabulous “door to trail” shoes [by that I mean, you can run on pavement or trail]; Salomon Women’s XR Mission W Trail Running Shoe.

consistent workouts | how I fit them in

With three young children at home, I can confidently attest to the fact that fitting in a workout can be difficult [especially when it is C-O-L-D]. Before I had children, I worked in a career that demanded long hours, there again, I can attest to the fact that fitting in a workout can be difficult. It has taken me a long LONG time to realize -or at least- make a habit of getting out of bed early in order to fit my workout in. Early is my time.

Choose the your time.

I rise at 4 AM Monday – Friday to get my workouts in. For several reasons: I am sure to be done with my workout before The Three Boys are awake, ensuring that my husband can sleep while I am at the gym; I am home in time for my husband to leave for work early if needed; and because our gym is small and I like to avoid having to share the squat rack.

I have not always been consistently waking up that early five days a week. However, I have come to realize this past year that it is the time that works, for me. If you are trying to change/develop consistent habits, find the time of the day that works for you and stick to it. Just stick to it. It is a part of your day, and it is an important part of your day. Maybe workout out at 9 PM would be your thing. Perhaps working out from home while the kiddos nap. Over your lunch hour?

I don’t go to bed super early, either. I shoot for no later than 10 PM and have found that I function just as well on six hours of sleep as I do on eight. In fact, I would say that I have an easier time rolling out from underneath the covers after six hours than eight. Eight hours leaves me pining for just a few more, ha!

Force the habit.

Excuses used to come very easily to me, for reasons not to work out early. I had to cut them out. The Three Boys sleep well at night and my six hours usually go uninterrupted. Occasionally The Littlest will wake up at 3:30 and need comforted, and at that point I will just stay up and go to the gym. After forcing the habit for nearly a year, now, if I wake up and think “I am just going to skip today” I end up feeling guilty and finding all of the reasons I need to lift rather than sleep. That is an accomplished feeling.

With that said, there are certainly nights that I choose sleep versus rising early [middle of the night laying awake for two hours, anyone?] -or- the onset of a head cold, etc. There are HUNDREDS of exercises that you can do from home that don’t require equipment, noise, jumping around, or DVDs [I am planning a post on this topic, specifically]. Speaking of DVDs, though. I am a loyal fan of the Shaun T’s FOCUS T25 series. It is a great high intensity interval training, and is focused for just twenty-five minutes. I tell myself, it is just twenty-five minutes. I waste at least that much time on social media each day, you too? There is just no reason not to get it done.

Find your why.

My why is STRENGTH. I will share more of my story in an upcoming post, but for the purposes of this post I will keep my “why” short. Strong makes me feel good mentally and physically. I find my motivation in being better than me. Better today than I was yesterday. I find my motivation in my three boys. Three boys. I cannot take it lightly that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to give me these three boys to raise in to young men. In to warriors for His army. If I am going to keep up, and ENJOY keeping up, I need to be strong while I am able. This body God has given is a temple, and right now, it is disease and handicap free and I am going to be a steward of that incredible blessing.

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a bit about the fitbit

I have had several inquiries about my Fitbit recently, so I thought I would share a bit about it here << see what I did there? >>

There are several different models of the Fitbit, in a range of prices, and I would suggest that before making a purchase you evaluate your motive/need for a fitbit [more on this below].

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 3.00.11 PM[screen shot via fitbit.com]

“Do you love your fitbit?” / “Is it worth it?”

I do / Yes. It is super lightweight, sleek, and I barely even notice it. I think the data collection is quite accurate and it fills the need that I was seeking.

I have the Fitbit Charge HR that I purchased specifically for the heart rate monitoring function. While a Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor [or similar] might be slightly more accurate, I do not want to wear the strap monitor around my chest. I also want a monitor that I can wear 24-hours, and I am definitely not leaving the strap monitor around my chest for that length of time.

The heart rate monitor function is important to me, because I have been very focused on weight lifting and want to maintain a heart rate in the fat burning zone while I lift [in the cardio zone, your body may burn muscle stores instead of fat]. I also don’t want to fall below the fat burning zone while I lift, which is easy to do if you are resting between sets. The charge HR has allowed me to keep a constant eye on my heart rate and incorporate sprints and other HIIT cardio between sets to keep my heart rate in the sweet spot.

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[screen shot // 6 min peak + 6 min cardio are from my post-lift 1.5 miles // 42 min fat burn is from my lifting session and exactly where I want to be for max muscle gain]

There is a fitbit a step above the Charge HR that has a GPS function [Fitbit Surge]. If you are a runner/walker/hiker I think this would be very helpful and important. Since I have not recently been putting physical investment in to running, I did not deem it a necessary expense.

For many, the purchase of a fitbit is likely related to the need to be motivated to be active and simply move on a regular basis. What I have come to love about the fitbit, in addition to the heart rate monitor, is that it motivates me to do more during the day. One more load of laundry or taking the recycling to the basement equals a few more flights of stairs [which the Fitbit Charge HR also monitors] and a few hundred more steps. Vacuuming >>> more steps. It has also motivated me to add a mile or two on the treadmill to the end of a lift session. Would I buy the fitbit just for the pedometer? Probably not, but it has been a really nice asset. If you are simply looking for the pedometer function, I would look in to a less expensive version of the fitbit.

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[yesterday’s steps are almost all from a day of running errands and an afternoon filled with housework, other than a quick five-minute warm-up on the treadmill plus a lift session]

The sleep log is fascinating to me. I sleep well at night, but it is nice to see at what points of the night the fitbit registers me as awake or restless. For example, mine is currently showing me a pattern of The Littlest waking  up in the wee hours of the morning, crying. Something that clearly needs attention. I would imagine if you have an infant at home it could also help you notice potential sleep/feeding patterns. Would I buy it just for the sleep monitor? No. Not a need of mine.

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One final item worth noting. I LOVE the fitbit app on my phone that uses blue tooth to sync the data where I can see the bigger picture of my daily activity, calorie output vs. calorie input, etc. If I didn’t have a compatible smart phone for the app, I am certain I would not take the time to download the data to my computer.

I am very pleased with the purchase, and feel it was worth the expense [investment in my health]. I am interested to see how well the device holds up over time, but so far so good!

recipe for happy

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Oh, midwest winter. Isn’t it funny that in the heat of the summer we are aching to wear jeans and a cozy top outdoors, comfortably? And the thought of breaking out a favorite pair of boots? ::insert heart-eyes emoji::

And yet, when the daylight hours become short and it is too uncomfortable to go outside, I am just dying a little on the inside for summer to arrive and arrive QUICKLY! [although, I do love a good excuse for my wellies]

But seriously, I know that I am not alone in the icky feeling that sometimes arrives with cold temperatures and gray skies. This year, in particular, I was feeling really irritable [angry?] a LOT and really started to question the potential of PMDD in my life. I decided to chat with my ob-gyn about it and she suggested a few things:

  • “Are you working out regularly?” Yes. Six days a week, at least. My endorphins and I are in a committed relationship.
  • “Are you eating well?” Yes, I eat nutrient dense meals and believe in a balanced intake approach.
  • “Do you need to cut back on caffeine?” We have a winner. YES! I do need to cut back on caffeine, especially in the winter when I am always so tempted to have a warm cup of coffee within arms reach at all times.
  • “Take a Vitamin D supplement, 5000 mg.” I will order some on Amazon right now.*

Don’t hear me denying that PMDD and seasonal depression aren’t legit. I believe they are. I also believe that for me, and for my body, health, and family, I wanted to try the lifestyle changes listed above to see if my mood/irritability would improve.

I ordered a Vitamin D3 supplementright away and purchased three flavors of caffeine free herbal tea [I still allow myself two cups of coffee each day, because let’s be honest]. I have been taking the Vitamin D and cut back on the caffeine for well over one month, now, and have noticed a huge difference. Primarily, the Vitamin D supplement. I can tell when I forget to take it [I do try to take it at night, because I noticed that it would give me nausea when taken in the morning or mid-day] and noticed the improvement in my physical energy and emotional demeanor immediately.

Here’s the thing, and it has taken me until my thirties to get here: if I am not taking proper care of myself [and addressing back-of-the-mind concerns], I cannot fully enjoy God’s blessings in my life.

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*This dosage is safe, and came medically recommended, for me. I am not currently on any type of prescription medication or have any health concerns. Before taking a supplement, check with a physician.

When You’re Not Quite Sure Where You’re Headed : but you know you’re headed somewhere

Sievers Fam15-Web

Oh friends. It has been so quiet here;  my thoughts about where I want this blog to head have been anything but quiet, and I think it’s time to share some of them.

The main thing that I know: I want to glorify God with my time. The secondary thing that I know: I love to write, share my thoughts, talk about things I am passionate about, and have a creative outlet like this, and I know that those are God given desires. With that said, I think you will see a slight shift in the site content. Will my main focus still be the Three Boys? You bet! Because, they are my main focus! What I hope to share, though, is more of our lifestyle. A lifestyle that takes cultivating, tending, and harvesting :: one of wellness and health, and of living life and finding joy.

For whatever reason, in the past, I have been fairly hesitant to openly share about my passion for daily use of essential oils + fueling my body properly + physical fitness + spiritual wellness. As I reflect back on 2014 and looked forward to 2015, one of the changes I hope to incorporate is being unashamedly open about the things that give me a feeling of purpose and satisfaction.

Where exactly I am headed? I’m not quite sure, but I know I’m headed somewhere.

photo credit : Jackie Petersen ©

outfit inspo >> v. 1

outfit inspo 1

These are all fun ensembles, perfect for winter occasions, put together from a combination of The Littlest’s closet + items from a recent instasale. [The Littlest is a brand rep for proudfoot moccs: included in these outfits are bomber jacket moccs 1, 6, & 8; black licorice moccs 3 & 7; peanut butter moccs (similar) 2, 4, & 5.]

OUTFIT DETAILS

one:

puffer vest | Old Navy

plaid button-up (similar) | Old Navy

jeans | Baby Gap

two:

pullover (similar) | Baby Gap

three:

hooded sweater (similar) | Baby Gap

plaid pants (similar) | brand unknown

four:

button-up oxford (similar) | Old Navy

five:

cardigan (similar) + long-sleeve tee | Baby Gap

six:

faux-layer buffalo check (similar) | Carters

seven:

puffer vest | Old Navy [available in instashop]

plaid oxford | Chaps [available in instashop]

trousers | Baby Gap [available in instashop]

eight:

shawl-collar pull-over sweater (similar) | Gymboree

 

Gift Guide | Boys age infant to 2-years

Not to be forgotten, a gift guide inspired by The Littlest, for boys ages infant to 2-years-old:

[gift guide 2 to 5-years | gift guide 5 to 8-years]
PicMonkey Collage

When the babes are brand new at Christmas time, I tend add items that they can “grow in to” over the next year to their wishlist. Because, there is no time of more rapid change in cognitive and physical development than those first two years. I tend to add practical items to that list as well.

Top: kid + kind romper | Gymnic Rody Horse | Summer Infant Bibbity

Middle: Little People Christmas Story Nativity | Jolly Jumper Safety Strap Universal Seat Safety Strap

Bottom: Standard Wood Building Blocks | Proudfoot Moccs

We picked up a Rody at a garage sale, for a quarter. Score! The Littlest LOVES it.

The “Bibbity” is the bestbibever. No really, it rinses right off and catches all the food. And, my favorite? The Littlest can’t get it off.

My favorite thing about the Little People Nativity set is that it encourages sharing the birth of our Savior with The Three Boys, but also plays “Away in a Manger”.

The Jolly Jumper strap was a purchase we made last year, when The Littlest was transitioning to a high chair. We have a vintage high chair, with no strap, and this was the perfect solution. It washes up easily with a wet cloth or the washing machine, and it transportable to restaurants and shopping carts!

We cannot say enough about our love for Proudfoot Moccs. They are very high quality for a reasonable price, hold up well, and are just so cute. I also love knowing that we are spending our money to support a fellow momma.

dreaming of warmer weather [+ subsidy shades]

Winter is just not my thing. Rain in the spring, I’ll happily bring out the rainboots. Heat advisories in the summer, you can find me pool side with a cold drink in hand [or you know, in my air conditioned home washing endless rounds of dishes because, that’s life]. And autumn? Oh all things, autumn. I’m happy as a clam when I can wear t-strap Birkenstocks and a knit scarf on the same day and be comfortable. So, there’s no hiding the fact that winter settled in this week [we’re talking negative windchill] and I was over it in about two hours.

Fortunately, we’re planning a trip to warmer temperatures and I am giddy digging out some of our summer items!

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I was recently introduced to the “Subsidy Shades” brand [find them: online | instagram | facebook | twitter] and they sent me the “Harper” shades to review for the blog. The mission of Subsidy Shades is to assist families with the financial burden that surrounds adoption, by providing an affordable fashion to you. Each pair of Subsidy Shades will raise money to cover adoption expenses. Check out their story, here.

photo 2(10) photo 3(8)

The “Harper” adult shades are pictured. I love to have fun with an on-trend pair of sunglasses, and the affordable cost of these will allow The Littlest to yank these off of my face without me entering panic mode [like that has ever happened before]. I love the way these sunglasses fit and that I can slide them up to the top of my head and they stay put, without having them tangled in my hair [which doesn’t always work for me…]. I’m ready to wear them pool side, instead of to protect my eyes from the sun reflecting off of just enough white snow to remind me that it’s frigid outside.

You know that tune “…the cold never bothered me anyway…”. That does not apply here.

Also pictured: Sunuva Ticking Stripe Beach Bag c/o Sunuva Swimwear via snappy casual* | Merona cloche hat similar.

*At the beginning of October, I won a $150 Sunuva shopping credit! We seem to be inundated with several sizes of swimwear at our house, so needless to say I was very excited to explore the Sunuva site and find that they also have a line of clothing and accessories! I chose the bag above, for myself, because I love that it will go with anything and is a classic print + it is gigantic, which is necessary when toting The Three Boys. We also chose this [which is adorable on The Middlest] and an Indian Headdress tee [not available]. I am so impressed with the quality. If we needed swimwear, I think I’d have purchased this and this.

gift guide | boys age 2-5 years

Last week, I shared some wish list / gift guide inspiration for boys ages 5-8 years-old. This week, I am using The Middlest for some inspiration for boys ages 2-5 years-old. This is kind of a wide range, but I think I have come up with a few ideas that they can enjoy for a number of years!
christmas ages 3 and 4
[The Day the Crayons Quit book | Fisher-Price Grow-with-Me 1,2,3 Roller Skates | Robin Jumpsuit Costume | Toddler Dress-Up Station | Hunter Original Red Kids Wellington Boots]

“The Day the Crayons Quit” is maybe one of the most adorable & funny books I have read to my children lately. They love it. Another favorite is “Press Here“, which they received for Christmas last year, and still love!

The Middlest is the original Batman “Bold and the Brave” for Halloween, and if I had planned ahead, The Littlest definitely would have dressed as Robin. And with that said, we keep our costumes out all the year long, because [and if you’re a boy mom, you already know this] boys love to play dress-up, too. Selfishly, I want to give the boys with that dress-up station!

And of course, what would a post be at Three Boys Closet without a clothing reference. Oh, Hunter Wellington’s, you have stolen my heart. Those red boots up there have yet to make their way in to our home, but what is it about boys in Hunter’s that melts me?

gift guide | boys age 5-8 years

I already have Christmas on the brain, and I know that I am not the only one, because I have recently seen a few blog posts around the idea of gifting your children with experiences, rather than things. I’m totally on board! But, my mind has been spinning a bit with gift ideas for my boys that will be useful and fun. My oldest has a birthday coming up soon, too. I’m hoping to do a series of posts, and started with ideas inspired by The Oldest.

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[pictured land of nod teepee] We purchased a similar teepee at Costco for a fraction of the price. We’ll be gifting this to the Three Boys at Christmas for a reading nook in the playroom. I’m sure the only thing it won’t be used for is reading… In my mind, though, I picture us snuggled up reading The Boxcar Children by flashlight. Let a momma dream, k?
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[pictured: educational insights micropro | branch & twig assorted colored pencils | cedar-wood bug house]

I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s not unique to my kindergarten-aged boy to be completely in to all things science and bugs. Hence the microscope [which was The Oldest’s idea] and the bug house. He’s also really into art and nature and would get a total kick out of finding those colored pencils stuffed deep in to his Christmas stocking.

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[pictured: baby gap pull-on jeans | new balance sneakers]

And, because, birthday’s and holiday’s are a great time to stock up on the upcoming clothing size(s) for the boys, a couple of clothing ideas. The Oldest does not love to wear jeans, but when they have a knit waist-band with that cozy sweat pant feel, it’s a bit easier to convince him. Right now, he is also digging New Balance sneakers, and so am I.

As mentioned above, I am loving the idea of gifting my children with experiences instead of things, so we’ll probably do a very modest combination of both. An experience plus one thing they want, one thing they need, and one thing to read.

What are your favorite birthday/holiday items for children in the 5-year to 8-year age range?