s

Dear Mushka,

FASTer Way to Fat Loss Review

FASTer Way to Fat Loss Review

I just finished my first round (intro week + 6 weeks of the plan) of The FASTer Way to Fat Loss and so benefited from others' reviews, I thought I'd write my own here!

In short: I LOVED it. It's the first eating plan I've ever done that left me feeling completely equipped and motivated to continue far beyond the original 6 weeks. I wasn't looking forward to the end at all. I lost multiple pounds and multiple inches + gained muscle and energy. And mostly, I felt a freedom from food for the first time in long time. 

There are four parts to the FASTer Way method, which was a little overwhelming at first. But don't worry, you catch on quickly!

1. Tracking Macros. All food is made up of macronutrients- protein, fat, and carbohydrates- and our bodies need certain amounts of each to thrive. With a few clicks in the My Fitness Pal app, you're able to see how many of each macro you should eat in a day and record them. Once most of your regular foods are in the system (including common recipes and meals you eat), logging your daily food is quick and easy, truly. 

I thought this part was going to drive me nuts, but scanning foods' barcodes (from string cheese to broccoli) made it very simple and painless. It takes me less than five minutes a day and I usually do it in the morning so I can plan my day before I even begin eating. 

Keeping track of macros was eye opening. I learned that I wasn't eating enough protein in a day and was substituting it with way too much fat. Balancing all this out was a game changer for me! In the future, I probably won't record every day in the app- I know what a typical day looks like now and don't need to- but it was extremely helpful to do so for 6 weeks. 

My favorite part of keeping track of macros was that I began to see all food as just... food. If I wanted a bowl of ice cream I could eat one; it just had to fit into my macros. If I wanted a giant breakfast sandwich one day or pasta on date night that was okay- I just adjusted other foods and made it work. And because this is a lifestyle, not a crash diet, I felt so much grace to get back on the horse if I was off one day. No biggie!

Note: Some people buy a food scale for the highest level of accuracy in counting macros. I couldn't see myself doing that long-term so I didn't do it.

2. Carb Cycling. This is an alteration of carbohydrate intake to prevent fat loss plateaus and keep your metabolism working effectively. Basically, you cycle between low carb days (Monday and Tuesday) and regular carb days (Wednesday-Sunday) to ensure that your body burns fat effectively without causing significant hormonal damage or dips in energy. 

The keto diet is really popular right now (and for good reason- people lose weight quickly!) but it can be dangerous, especially for women, and it's hard to keep up. We all want and need fruit, rice, beans, etc. I loved carb cycling because it was only for two days... and on those days I got to enjoy extra fat like cheese, avocados, nuts, bacon, etc. Yes, please. I looked forward to my low carb days and learned very quickly how to adjust my eating to match them. 

3. Intermittent Fasting. On this plan, you limit your "feeding window" to eight hours a day. For me, I did 10:30-6:30, but you could skip breakfast all together and do something more like 12:00-8:00 with a snack in there.

According to the FASTer website: "Daily periods of fasting change your body at a cellular level. In addition, it helps to regulate hormones like insulin and HGH to make the fat stores in your body more accessible energy sources. The time given to your cells to repair during fasted periods allows cells to remove waste and function optimally. Intermittent fasting allows time for the body to utilize fat as its main source of energy, which means you not only lose weight, but you’ll see an improvement in your overall body composition. Intermittent fasting allows you to maintain muscle mass which speeds up your metabolic rate, while helping you shed fat."

This part was effortless and enjoyable. I had a little trouble getting all my calories in during a shorter eating timeframe (I just wasn't hungry!), but waking up and knowing I was going to fast was good for my mind and soul. It kept me praying, and it cut out my two worst eating habits- sugary coffee in the morning and pointless snacks after the boys' bedtime. 

4. Exercise. The workouts come with the program and you can choose beginner, home, or gym. They are scheduled with your carb cycling days (sprints on low carb days, strength training on normal days) to help achieve the best results. I loved every one of them... and also loved the two rest days (Friday and Sunday). Ha!

I used a few different dumbbell sizes and tennis shoes. That's it! 

I think the biggest question people have is what do you eat? I originally tried to find lots of peoples' meal plans and then realized I was over complicating it. There's no need to find lots of low carb meals. On those days (Monday and Tuesday) I ate my morning smoothie with half a banana instead of a whole one, a big salad for lunch with plenty of protein fat like two hard boiled eggs, bacon, cheese, olives, nuts etc, and a dinner that included meat + veggies. Some veggies are higher in carbs so we avoided those and focused on ones like broccoli. If my family was eating something that called for rice, I'd use riced cauliflower instead. 

While I wouldn't like to eat low carb all the time, it was easy to do just two days out of the week and I felt great! I was also able to enjoy a piece of dark chocolate or a peanut butter cup "fat bomb" after dinner (so good!). 

M/T Sample Day

Breakfast: Protein Smoothie with half a banana

Lunch: Salad with lots of protein and healthy fat or scrambled eggs and chicken sausage

Dinner: Steak, broccoli, and roasted carrots or tacos

Snack: Fat bomb

On all the other days, you eat "normal macro" or "low macro" meaning you follow your My Fitness Pal guidelines or cut them by 25% on the two days you aren't exercising (Friday and Sunday). I ate my morning smoothie with a full banana (to get more carbs in- you really need a lot on normal days!) and enjoyed sandwiches or sweet potato bowls for lunch, big bowls of fruit and yogurt with honey for snack, and basically anything we wanted for dinner-- I just watched how much fat I was eating, which was most often my downfall.

W-S Sample Day

Breakfast: Protein Smoothie with whole banana or english muffin with jelly and/or peanut butter, eggs, and fruit

Lunch: Big bowl of fruit, yogurt, honey, peanut butter, and granola or a sandwich with veggies and ranch/hummus, or a sweet potato, rice, fried egg bowl

Dinner: Basically anything, I just had to watch the fat content (like no baked potato with a ton of butter, cheese, and sour cream. Ha!) See this post for how I meal plan and choose our dinners.

Kelly, my instructor, was also so great at sharing her Pinterest boards with recipes, meal plans for the weak, Costco and Alid shopping trips, etc. I felt more than equipped to find foods/recipes that not only fit the plan for me but that our whole family would eat. 

_____

Overall, I'd 100% recommend this program and am so glad I stumbled across it. 

$199 gets you the 7 week program with coaching from your trainer (mine is Kelly Stewart- she's awesome), accountability and encouragement from a small private FB group of women doing this with you (they even prayed for me when I got sick), and daily workout plans. It was more than worth it for those 7 weeks, but now I also have a huge workout plan I can continue to follow, and tons of favorite recipes. 

 Kelly's next round starts July 15th. If you'd like to feel freedom from food, get control of eating habits, or have accountability as you begin exercising I can't recommend this more. 

Click here to sign up and/or to read more and see lots of FAQs. I'll also talk about it on my Instagram stories and save them to my highlights!

Our Goals for Summer

Our Goals for Summer

Every Summer, I choose a few skill activities for each of my children to work on and a heart "theme" for us to focus on as a family. This helps keeps me intentional as I mother and also gives direction to our days. 

Here's what this Summer looks like: 

Skill Activities for my boys

Do a puzzle alone and with joy 

Be able to "read" quietly for 20 minutes (snacks help this)

Write all letters (for my 4 year old, just something to work towards)

Put shoes on and off by himself (for my 2 year old)

Ride bike without training wheels (for my 4 year old... check!)

Swim without floats (for my 4 year old)

Learn to use words before screaming (for my 2 year old, ha!)

 

Heart Focus for our family: Prayer! 

We're memorizing The Lord's Prayer (to the tune of Barney's "I love you") and spending meal times talking about what the words mean. 

We're also learning to be quick to ask for God's help as we exhibit fruits of the Spirit, trusting in His capabilities instead of our own (failing) strength. 

We reference this art print frequently, which also helps the boys learn their letters. I'll say "which fruit should we pray for in this scenario with your brother" and one of them will say "love!" or whatever and then they'll find it on the print and maybe even write out the word or trace it. 

These are simple goals, but they're effective and so helpful as we long to make Christ's name great in our home and beyond. 

The Inspiration Behind Our Hymn Piece: It Is Well

The Inspiration Behind Our Hymn Piece: It Is Well

In the Spring we decided to start launching a hymn piece a season and this Summer we’re launching the It Is Well Necklace. We loved that it matched so well with this season with the ideas of rivers, seas and being on vacation.

The verse card it comes paired with is some of the lyrics from the hymn by Haratio Stafford. If you don’t know the background of his story it is a hard one yet so beautiful.

He had a traumatic life. He lost his 2 year old son and then lost all of his money in the great Chicago fire, completely wiping him financially. And then, he sent his family to Europe ahead of him and the boat sank. All four of his daughters died!

He received the telegram from his wife while sailing to Europe to meet them and while on the ocean passing where the boat sank, the lyrics to this hymn came to mind.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul

I love the daintiness of a long swooping necklace made in rose gold. My thoughts were that the rose gold chain and the movement of the swooping necklace reminded me of walking at sunset and just paired nicely with the imagery of a peaceful river.

It also had dark bead details to represent the dark clouds just as the hymn states “When sorrows like sea billows roll”. They serve as a reminder that no matter what, we can rest in God’s arms.

Also the way the the beads and necklace rests, I almost picture a hammock or hands holding and carrying us. Let’s trust God enough that we feel completely safe and secure in His arms and care.

The It Is Well Necklace slips easily over your head and looks great when worn with a simple tee or a fancy dress.

My prayer is that as you feel it move you hum the hymn and praise the Lord!

What the Bible Says About Grace

What the Bible Says About Grace

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works | Titus 2:11-14

I wanted to expand and share about this particular verse because I think we think of grace as being the unmerited compassion of God, meaning we get salvation even though we don’t earn it. This is true! But our culture also seems to throw the word around as an excuse for not reading the Bible or praying- grace, grace, grace!

Praying and reading our Bibles is not what saves us nor are they the end goal- The goal is to know and love and serve and glorify God more deeply and fully. The above are just ways we get there.

But what Titus 2:11-14 teaches us is that not only does the Grace of God bring salvation, it also trains us to renounce (formally abandon) ungodliness and worldly passions. In addition, it trains us to live self controlled, upright and Godly lives.

So I think we do ourselves a huge disservice when we just say “grace!” as an excuse for something we’re not doing. Anytime we put something good above The Great it becomes a problem. 

Yes, we are human and we can’t expect perfection from ourselves. But let us start to recognize that God’s grace offers us continued growth to be the people Jesus calls his own!

Let’s be women who remind each other of this kind of grace. Don’t settle for half versions of grace.

I am so honored to live with zeal for Jesus and His goo works with you! Read Titus 2:11-14 on your own today and pray for grace to renounce worldly passions and live a self-controlled life.

How we meal plan (and your ideas, too!)

How we meal plan (and your ideas, too!)

Over the years, I've found that meal planning is easiest for my family when I choose a theme for each night of the week. It limits my choices, preventing me from decision fatigue, and also lets my family know what to expect. 

This Summer, our schedule looks like this: 

M: Grill Night- usually chicken or steak with veggies and brown rice 

T: Mexican Night- tacos, quesadillas, burrito bowls with chips and salsa or guacamole, rice, and/or a corn dish 

W: Pasta Night- spaghetti or some other pasta with added chicken and a salad

Th: Breakfast Night- eggs, bacon, and waffles, biscuits, french toast, etc

F: Leftovers or Pizza

S: Out- either our date night or a family night to chipotle

S: Hotdogs from church. Alternative is sandwiches. 

As the seasons change, we'll adjust this to be more appropriate!

·

I asked you all on Instagram for some other night themes; here's a big list for us to all reference!

  • Grill 
  • Mexican
  • Pasta
  • Italian
  • Breakfast
  • Leftovers
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • One Sheet Pan
  • Crock Pot/ Instant Pot
  • Soup
  • Casserole
  • Asian
  • Bowl Dinner
  • Fish
  • Panini
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Meatless Meal
  • "Hodge Podge" where you throw it all together from what you have
  • Charcuterie Board (meat, cheese, fruit, nuts, veggies) on a warm night! 
  • Different ethnicity every week to teach children about a different culture