summer favorites

Sweet summer time. My favorite season. I’d rather be sweating than freezing, so this is my happy place. Mid-June in the midwest. Warm enough during the day to spend the whole thing in a pool, and cool enough in the evening to sit around the campfire. So far, this summer, these are some of the basic items that I default to, daily.
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basic racerback tanks >> because I can wear them with a sports bra, which is so much more comfortable for summer, but they still look classic + casual // simple necklaces // Ray-Ban RB3136 Caravan Sunglasses 55 mm >> smaller than the traditional aviator and a better fit for my face // denim cutoffs // longchamp le pliage handbag >> it’s a bottomless pit, I’m pretty sure my kitchen sink would in fact fit inside and disappear // Sephora perfecting ultra-smooth primer >> LOVE this lightweight serum underneath foundation, especially in the summer! My pores disappear once this is on // EOS Organic Lip Balm Sphere – Sweet Mint // AEO cross-strap sandals >> equally as comfortable as my Birkenstocks & I love the feminine touch of gold.

And then, because let’s be honest, I spend probably 90% of my time in gym clothes, here are my current favorites for the easy going days and mornings at the gym:
Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 3.15.40 PMPowerbeats 2 wireless headphones // Nike Women’s Nike Pro Tank // Nike running shorts // Nike Women’s Free 5.0 Running Sneaker // BlenderBottle SportMixer

I highly recommend the Powerbeats. They are pricier, but if you check them out on Amazon, there is a link to refurbished Powerbeats, they are sold through Amazon warehouse and just as good as the originals. I bought mine refurbished and saved a pretty penny! The sound quality is amazing. I can drown out whatever music is blaring over the speakers at the gym and lose myself in my workout. My favorite feature, though, is that I don’t have to strap my phone to my arm and have the cord of my headphones conflicting with my lift.

I clearly have a Nike problem. In my defense, I bought this pair on eBay. Because frugality, sticking to a budget, and all.

currently…

Hitting a bit of a writer’s block, lately. I have several ideas for blog posts and when I sit down at the keyboard I feel overwhelmed with what I want to share and how… I thought it would be fun to use a “currently…” list in hopes of a fun and light-hearted post! I am currently…

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  • reading: I just finished “Restless” by Jennie Allen and I cannot say enough about it. I am FIRED UP from this book. There are several journaling prompts that I skipped over in my desire to devour the pages. I am going to be starting the journaling this week. I know, just know, that God’s going to do something unexpected and good through this.
  • listening: my workout Pandora station is set to a Meghan Trainor/Pitch Perfect mix; my “everyday” Pandora station is set to the Hillsong United station. Song obsessions of the moment: “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Batistelli, “Shoulders” by For King & Country, and “Drops in the Ocean” by Hawk Nelson.
  • eating: similar to song obsessions, I also go through food obsessions and put food on repeat. Food obsessions of the moment: stevia sweetened egg whites with 1/2 banana + 1/3 cup blueberries, chicken sausage with apple + gouda, Quaker Popped in the Tangy Ranch flavor[they’re no Dorito, but so much friendlier to the hips and equally as difficult to put down], and chocolate chip cookie dough Quest bars.
  • drinking: a lot of water. I always try to fit in one gallon [128 oz] each day. To keep it interesting, I purchased the SweetLeaf Water Drops [naturally sweetened with stevia] and use that for about 20 oz. of water each day. I also drink one lime LaCroix each day with a drop of Grapefruit essential oil. Ocassionally, I add lemon essential oil to my water.
  • wearing: leggings, basically everyday [current favorite pair are Reebok | similar]. Yes. I am one of those people. Judge me. And I am obsessed with my black Nikes and white Converse. I also found this amazing sweatshirt at TJ Maxx.
  • feeling: a wee bit envious. The Middlest is having the time of his life in Florida, this week. The Oldest is off to “Man-cation” with Dad and they get to canoe, fire build, fish, do archery, and camp out – my jam – but I guess I don’t qualify for “Man-cation” ha!  But, with that said, I’m really looking forward to my quiet house and indulging in a bit of ice cream, tonight.
  • weather: absolutely clear skies and 59 degrees – basically perfection.
  • wanting: a cheeseburger and fries, specifically from Red Robin; a Chick-Fil-A grilled Chicken sandwich, and Cadbury Candy Coated Mini Eggs. Do we sense a theme? I have been very diligent this week in tracking calories/macros and the cravings are fierce. We are also challenging ourselves to a “no spend” month, and not purchasing anything we don’t “need” like restaurant food.
  • needing: to do laundry. Like a boss.
  • thinking: that as much as I am craving that food above, I am feeling really darn GOOD, mentally and physically, with what I have eaten this week.
  • enjoying: any quiet time that I am able to squeeze out of the day.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with sunshine, activity, and some quiet rest! xoxo

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!

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 ©