Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Planting The Sieb

"Ashley, it's fine," Ann said. "I promise. Personally, I think Baby Sieb just wants to have an amazing birth date. So he or she is just going to take his time and show up when he is ready to arrive in this world."

She made me laugh.

Ann always makes me laugh.

I was calling her one of my many emotional breakdowns after a negative pregnancy test.

That was in November.

"You're right," I said and wiped the tears off my cheeks. "Thanks for cheering me up..."

"Just don't try in December," Ann said. "Just stop thinking about it and tell yourself that you will try again in January. Make December...fun!"

So with that, I promised Ann that I'd stop my temperature tracking.

I'd stop reading my baby books.

I did, however, have a doctor's appointment on November 28th. So I told myself this was the last day that I could stress and worry about not getting pregnant.

I told my doctor about my irregular cycles (often 40 days apart), my horrible stomach cramps with each period, and other details about our journey.

"Ashley," Dr. Jim said. "You're doing everything right. You're healthy. And it sounds like you just need help getting on a normal cycle. Right now, you just don't know when or if you ovulate. And that's the easiest thing to fix."

"Really?" I asked. "Because I've been losing hope."

"Never lose hope," Dr. Jim said. "All you have to do is call me when you start your next period. We will start doing lab work and track your hormone levels. We'll also put you on a fertility medicine to help ovulate. And who knows- maybe your next call will be to tell me that you're pregnant. Wouldn't that be great?"

"Yes," I said. "That would be....amazing."

I walked out of the doctor's office with a smile on my face.

And for once- I was hopeful.

I had a plan. And you guys know I LOVE plans.

***

I woke up on Christmas morning and took a pregnancy test. I'd gone most of December without worrying or stressing about Baby Sieb. We just "had fun" as Ann would say.

But the test was negative.

After driving all across the state of Indiana for Christmas, we headed to Florida for our family vacation and Disney World trip.

I took a test the morning of our Disney trip (December 29) and the test, was again, negative.

"It's fine," I told Justin. "At least I can ride the roller coasters and drink beer!"

December  = Fun.

And roller coasters and beer = even more fun!

So, I continued on with my vacation.

And I drank sangria.

Wine = a vacation essential.

Even though the test was negative, Baby Sieb was in there!!

And I drank some.


Mango margaritas make the rain go away.

We shared drinks at Downtown Disney.
Oh, and I drank again on the beach.

Yes, that's Justin the background after he failed to catch the football.

 Anyway, I had a good vacation.

On New Years Eve (our last night in Florida), I started to "feel different."

I was moody. Now, I am normally moody, but I was even MORE moody than usual.

Nothing sounded good to eat (aka I was even more grouchy).

I simply couldn't stay awake for the life of me. I was in bed before 10 pm-- in fact, Justin had to wake me up 10 minutes before the ball dropped. And I didn't drink ALL night (not even champagne at midnight).

When we woke up to leave on New Years Day, my stomach was cramping.

I figured I was getting ready to start my period.

But after driving on the road for hours, I started to feel worse.

And I realized my cramps weren't like period cramps.

"Babe, I"m pregnant," I said. "I just know it! Stop and get a pregnancy test!"

We were on the way to Justin's Aunt and Uncle's house - they had dinner waiting for us, but I demanded we stopped at CVS to get a test.

Once we got to their house, I ran upstairs.

I ripped the test out of the package.

Absolutely certain I was pregnant.

I took the test and waited for a line to show up.

At first, I didn't see the line.

I had only waited about 30 seconds, but I made up my mind.

I was wrong.

It's negative.

I went to throw the test away and I saw a second line appear literally before my eyes.

"SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!" I said to myself. "That's a line. OMG that is a line if I've ever seen one!"

I was alone when I found out because Justin was downstairs.

I paced around the room.

"I am freaking pregnant!" I said. "I'm going to be a mom. Holy cow, I am pregnant. Now what do I do?"

I sat on the edge of the bed.

Deciding if I should laugh or cry.

So I did both.

And then I took this picture...I have no clue why. I was probably only 4 hours pregnant.

Kidding, I was four weeks here!

I'm guessing I'll look back at this picture and think how "skinny" I once looked....

I gathered my composure,  and walked downstairs.

Acting like nothing happened.

And by acting like nothing happened, I mean I ate dinner in complete silence and didn't know what the hell to say to anyone...because secretly, I just wanted to blurt out, "THE SIEB HAS BEEN PLANTED!"

But instead, I said nothing.

And yes, people noticed.

"Are you OK, Ash?" Uncle Don asked me.

"Oh yes," I said. "I'm just so tired from all the traveling.."

(Lie- I'm tired because I'm growing a human life!!!)

After dinner, I walked outside to get my bag from the car.

Justin followed me out.

"Well?" he asked.

I honestly didn't know what to say. I wanted to say something cute. Or have this amazing speech put together about Justin will be an amazing dad.

But instead- I was speechless.

So I just smiled.

And then he smiled.

"SHUT UP!" Justin said. "Do not screw with me, Ashley!"

The only thing I could do was nod my head.

"Speak, Ashley! You aren't mute!" I told myself.

Justin wrapped his arms around me and lifted me in the air.

"I am going to bed a dad!!!" Justin said.

"Yes, you are!" I said. "And I'm going to be a mom!"

I gave him a giant hug.

Just then, we heard the door opened.

We let go of each other and tried to wipe away the happy tears.

It was still too early to tell anyone.

I headed toward the car and Justin headed toward the house. He turned around gave me a giant smile and then winked.

We are going to be parents.

2013 really will be The Year of New. 

I'll be sharing more blog posts over the next few days about our experiences to date, doctor appointments, my symptoms, and even share pictures...I know I started sharing our pregnancy journey on www.plantingthesieb.com, but I've decided it's best to keep all my blog posts in one place.

So, Write Minded is your source for all things Baby Sieb related. 

Thanks for being a part of our journey. We are so blessed and thankful to have such an amazing group of family and friends.

We are officially 8 weeks and 4 days.

And our due date is September 7, 2013. 

And as a little teaser, here are a few pictures:

Our little Nemo!!

Is it just me or is there a little bump forming already!?
8 weeks and 3 days in this picture.

Buckle up, guys.

We've got a long road ahead! 

Much love,
Ashley

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Think We All Need a Pep Talk

This is life people.

You have air coming out of your nose.

You have a heart beat.

That means it's time to do something.

....



"NOT COOL ROBERT FROST!"

I love this kid.

And I think everyone should watch this video.

Daily.

Much love,
Ashley

A Monday

Today is a new day.

A fresh start.

And even though today is a Monday, I'll take it.

I've decided that I'll spend my day counting my blessings- not my problems.

I'll try to focus on everything from my recent blog post about life.

Because certainly - what I'm feeling right now will soon pass.

It's nothing major.

Nothing to worry about.

Just frustrations.

And emotions.

But I'm choosing to have a positive outlook.

And let the little things pass on by.

 With that in mind, I'll leave you with this quote to start your day.

"For many of us, a day is neither bad or good. It is our attitude that seems to make it what it is. We all have days that are challenging from time to time."
 

Much love,
Ashley

Thursday, January 17, 2013

VIDEO BLOG: Modeling Debut (x2)

video

You heard it here first
- I was a model today! Watch my video for a re-cap of my fantastic morning. You can also watch the full segment from Indy Style below.

PS Don't mind the boxes in the background.

We aren't moving.

I promise.

It just adds to my awkwardness.




Much love,
Ashley

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

America's Next Top Model

Okay guys, I'm not planning on becoming America's Next Top Model - BUT I did get invited to be a model for retro 101 pop-up shop on Indy Style!

retro101 is Indy's first boutique on wheels! My friend Heather owns the bus, which she calls, Ellie. You can find fashion trends and handmade items from local artists on the bus.

I've loved (and supported) her idea from Day 1.

And I'm SO proud of her so following her dream.

Anyway, the show is airing this Thursday, January 17th at 9 am EST (tomorrow).

I was super nervous to say "YES."

I mean honestly, Bandit probably has more modeling experience than me.

Such a stud...

Nelly inspired.

Best Christmas gift ever.

Anyway, I could share Bandit pictures for the next hour.

Let's move along....

Justin was obviously excited for me. I was complaining and moaning about being fat on Sunday after I ate that 1,160 calorie black bean burger

And Justin said, "All I know is that my wife is going to be a model next week. Soooo....there is that!"

His effort made me smile.

The next day, when I told my co-worker about the opportunity, he said, "How cool! You'll do great."

"Are you sure?" I asked, still unsure about the opportunity.

I drifted away like  J.D. from Scrubs always did....

What if I trip when walking out?

Do I just stand there and smile?

Will they ask me a question?

What if something embarrassing happens? Like a Special K strawberry is stuck in my front teeth or something? 

"Yes," my co-worker said. "You're very photogenic and great at these types of things!"

And with the support of Justin and my co-worker, I sent her a message back.

"I'm in!!"

I reminded myself that this the Year of New.

And I should do things that put me outside my comfort zone. Because let's be real...I'm not the modeling type and I definitely won't be America's Next Top Model.

But the opportunity is exciting.

We will have a blast.

So last night, I had my wardrobe fitting. I never thought I'd see the day...when someone wanted me...to model something- anything- for them. So it was a little odd to have someone say, "I was thinking this will look great on you...and we can add this necklace...oh and this hat, it will be perfect!"

Then Heather lifted up the mirror so I could see myself, but she was so excited that she kept peaking out from the mirror to see my reaction.

"I think it looks great," Heather said. "I really love this hat too! But is that something you would wear?"

"Oh yeah," I said. "I would definitely wear the hat...and this whole outfit! I love it."

"Wonderful," she said. "Because I want you to feel comfortable. That's most important."

And she was right- when you feel comfortable, you feel AND look better.

We talked about her approach to buying clothes. Obviously she doesn't have a fitting room - space is limited on a bus. So she purchases a lot of clothes that you can throw on to get a good feel for fitting and size.

"I want to make sure I have something for woman of all sizes," she said.

I knew from our previous conversation that the other model ...well she could really be a model! She is a fit mother of 3 who is beautiful both inside and out.

"You know," I told Heather. "I'm a big girl, and I know that. I'm proud of my curves. So please feel free to use me as an example that you purchase clothes for woman of all sizes."

I'm not here to pretend I'm a size zero.

In fact, I don't think I've ever been a size zero.

But that's okay.

I am proud of my curves.

I am proud of my figure.

I am proud of my height.

While it's taken me years and years....and countless tears....I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. 

And honestly, I love that Heather has given me this opportunity to have some fun on a Thursday morning.

Sure, I'll only be on TV for 3 minutes or less. But for the fact that Heather picked me - out of countless other people- made me feel important....especially when she mentioned WHY she would pick me. Spoiler alert: It had nothing to do with my size or beauty.

"I knew you wouldn't be the girl who is complaining that she doesn't feel pretty enough or doesn't want to wear something," Heather told me as I was leaving. "You will make this fun."

I was born this way!

So at the end of the day, I want you to realize something....and Sean the Bachelor even mentioned it the other day....

Your looks will fade one day.

Wrinkles will appear instead.

And your body will become weaker.

You might even gain a few extra lbs.

But guess what you'll have left?

Your heart.

Your attitude.

And the spirit that fills your soul.

So have fun in life! And if you aren't comfortable with who you are, stop trying to be someone you aren't...that's just exhausting. 

See you tomorrow AM!!!!

Much love,
Ashley 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Result of a 1,160 Calorie Black Bean Burger

I kept my word and created a meal plan for the week.

I was even more inspired to create my meal plan after I had a 1,160 calorie BLACK BEAN BURGER! I'm serious, you guys. TGIF's black bean burger (without a side) has 1,160 calories.

I nearly signed up for a full marathon on the SPOT. 

And sodium? Let's not talk about how the burger had 2,350+ milligrams of sodium!

Not to mention, I instantly had buyers regret...I could have ordered a bacon cheeseburger and had less calories.

That's jacked. I felt so betrayed!

So anyway, meal planning (and stalking calories BEFORE I order) will hopefully help me keep my calories, diet, and emotional eating on track!


Monday:
Breakfast- Special K
Lunch- Jimmy Johns #6 veggie sandwich (no mayo!!) and leftover couscous
Dinner- sausage and potatoes
Snacks- fiber bar, fresh fruit, cottage cheese

Tuesday:
Breakfast- Special K
Lunch- sausage and potatoes
Dinner-turkey meatloaf, cauliflower mashed potatoes andgreen beans (I am making this ALL on my own via my Year of New plans! Wish me luck!!)
Snacks- fiber bar, cottage cheese, carrots with hummus

Wednesday:
Breakfast- Special K
Lunch- turkey meatloaf and leftover veggies
Dinner- ranch pork chops and steamed broccoli and salad
Snacks- fiber bar, veggies with hummus  


Thursday:
Breakfast- Special K
Lunch- pork chops and salad
Dinner- shrimp enchiladas
Snacks- fiber bar and veggies with hummus

Friday: 
Breakfast- Special K
Lunch-out
Dinner- whole wheat pasta with olive oil and grilledchicken, asparagus, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese
Snacks- cottage cheese, fruit and fiber bar

I'll let you know how everything goes...

Message me on Facebook, tweet me @AshleySieb, or email me ambedwell@gmail.com if you have any ideas or recipes for next week! A special thank you to those who've already sent me their meal planning ideas and recipes. 

Much love,
Ashley

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Need a Plan

I'm a planner.

It's in my DNA.

I'm notorious for asking, "What's our game plan!?"

I just need to know what to expect at all times (part of my control freak / perfectionism ways).

My "game plan ways" are especially true when it comes to eating.

I will wake up at 8 a.m.and NEED to know what I am eating for lunch and dinner.

"What sounds good for dinner tonight, babe?" I will ask Justin while getting ready for work.

"Ashley- it's 6:45 in the morning!" Justin will say. "Let a man eat breakfast first."

"So, how does Sushi sound?" I ask ignoring his comment. 

With all of these Patty Planner habits of mine, I'm amazed that I don't have a "game plan" for my meals.

I was chatting with my friend Ashley, who hit her lowest weight since freshmen year of high school. Boom. By the way- so proud of you, Ash.

Anyway, I discovered that my biggest problem is that I don't plan out my meals.

I am talking about sitting down on a Sunday morning, writing out my week of meals and snacks, and then going grocery shopping.

Making a plan.

Writing it out.

And most importantly, sticking it out!

So tomorrow, I have a plan to make a plan. 

Let's do this!


Do you plan out your meals?

What does next week look like for you!?

I'd love to hear your recipes or any advice.

Much love,
Ashley

Friday, January 11, 2013

What is Life All About?

Earlier this week, I got an email from a lovely 16-year-old girl that I’ve never met. She sent me the most heart-warming email I’ve ever received. I found myself both smiling and crying at the same time.

Without giving away her name or personal information, this is what she wrote to me:

So, I just stumbled upon your blog from pinterest.  Someone had pinned a link to your post "A Letter To My 17-Year-Old Self: All Caterpillars Turn Into Butterflies," and I felt the need to thank you.

I'm turning 17 in just a couple of weeks, and honestly, life is hard.  Life is so hard that I often feel as if it isn't worth working on anymore.

I just finished reading your article...and I still think life is hard. Haha.  I suppose it always will be.  But you inspired me.

Everyone tells me I have so much ahead of me, but never tells me what, never tells me why.  I guess there's not enough honesty in the world… And I know your post wasn't written for me, but it meant a lot to me.

I don't know what my point was in writing this to you, or if I will even send this, but I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you.  Thank you for the tips, because I need them now and I'm going to need them.


I immediately responded to her email…and since then, we’ve become pen pals of sorts. And I love it. I look forward to hearing about her day, sharing life stories, and even offering advice (without trying to come off as a parent).

How can I show her what’s ahead of her in life? Well, I'm not God and certainly not a fortune teller, so predicting the future isn't my strong area.


Back to the drawing board....


How can I describe really matters in life?

What is life all about?

I decided that I spend the next few days trying to figure out what life is honestly all about.
I told myself I wouldn’t let the little things bother me.

I wouldn’t yell at the idiots on the road. I get that from my husband.

I wouldn’t get upset if someone sent me a snarky email or silly request at work.

I wouldn’t dwell on fading friendships or lost relationships. They are in the past for reason.

I wouldn’t stress about traffic or the weather (i.e. things that are completely out of my control).

I hoped that discovering what life is about would be easy. That everything would just magically pop up, as if it was holding a sign, and say “LOOK AT ME! I AM IMPORTANT TO LIFE!”

But everything I discovered, well- it wasn’t easy. It required some self-reflection to understand and appreciate. Which is why I think it’s so hard for so many people to be thankful and appreciate for life.

Or even understand what life is all about.

Life doesn’t just poke us in the stomach and say, “This is important. You care about this. You should listen closely. Don’t take advantage of this opportunity.”

Although, life can really slap us across the face for a wake-up call with troubling or upsetting news when we least expect it.

Over the past few days, little moments have occurred. Sometimes even so tiny that they almost passed me by. And that’s how I discovered what life is all about. And in wake of those “slap you across the face” life moments, I hope you analyze these areas of your life.

To paint a picture that illustrates a bigger focus and puts a perspective for why you are here.

And trust me, it’s not finishing PowerPoint presentation for work or school or sending that final email before you call it a day.

Self-Reflection: It only makes sense to start the blog with this discovery. In order to live a happy and fulfilled life, you must dig within yourself. You must analyze your own happenings, thoughts, and daily activities. What made today great? What upset you today? How can you keep being great or fix what’s upsetting you?

Without self-reflection, you will merely stay as you are today. 


And we all have room to grow. Every single one of us.

Friendship: I’ve always considered my friends, my family that I’ve picked for myself. Lately, I’ve received the most encouraging, uplifting, and motivating messages and calls from my friends. Each of the messages came when I needed them the most and I realized that friendship- true friendship matters in life. Friends will come and go…and over the last year I’ve seen a few really close relationships slowly fade or disappear into thin air. Instead of trying to figure out why, how, or when it all started…I’ve decided to focus on what I do have in my life…which is beautiful and amazing friends who send cards for no reason and schedule dinner dates just to catch-up on life.

Don’t waste your energy on people who don’t realize the value you bring to a relationship.

You…me…us…we are better than that!

Face-to-Face Conversation: Text messages, blog posts, tweets, Facebook messages, and emails are ruining one of the most important concepts in life: face-to-face communication. I’m so guilty of not making time for more to have conversations in person. Without distraction. Last night, I had dinner with two of my friends and it was lovely. We barely checked our phones. Instead, we spent the evening laughing, sharing memories from the past, and even making plans for more dinner dates.  Last Saturday, I spent the evening with some of my best friends playing Catch Phrase. And tonight, we have dinner plans and games planned with even more friends. So, friendships and face-to-face conversations are taking the lead for what matters in life.

Pick up the phone and make plans.

Let’s catch up.

Paying it Forward: The year was 2009. I logged into my bank account. Total savings = $0.00. Total checking = $0.38. I had just made a payment on my wedding dress, paid rent, bought groceries, and filled up my tank so I could drive to work.

I closed my eyes and prayed, “Lord, I promise if you get me through this…I’ll pay it forward to those in need one day when I have the extra money. I promise that I’ll give any extra amount that I can. But help me get through this tough time…”

I had zero credit card debt (thankfully dad taught me well on avoiding credit card debt) and I managed to pay for my tuition for the semester using a 50% reimbursement I got through my job for getting good grades. I would have loved to use that money to schedule a trip studying abroad or plan a fabulous spring break trip, but money was tight. And I knew what I needed to do.

Flash forward to today; I’ve never broken my promise. I always strive to pay it forward. I’ve been donating monthly to organizations that touch my heart via My Year of Random Acts of Kindness. I stop to give homeless people gift cards for food. I support my friends in their fundraising efforts for organizations that impact their lives. And every single time a cashier asks me if I want to make a donation for ANY cause, I say yes.

A few days ago, my mom posted this status:

My daughter Ashley Marie Sieb has been so amazing & inspiring to this MamaT....that I am proud to say I saw a woman holding a sign today saying "Homeless with Kids...." so i pulled over & gave her all the cash in my pocket. The feeling I felt when she thanked me with tears welling in her eyes was wonderful & made my heart so very happy. Thanks Ashley for teaching your MamaT to be a better person!!!! ;-)

Paying it forward in life matters.

Family Bonds: I’ve always heard that you take everything out on the people you love the most. Not only do I believe that is true, but I also believe that usually means your family suffers from your attitude or mood swings. But family bonds and relationships are so invaluable. They are the people who will stand by your side no matter what. They are the ones that know your secrets or bad habits, and still love you anyway. And whether good or bad, they’ve shaped you into the person you’ve become today.

NO family is normal. EVERY family has problems.

And that’s just part of the package. But don’t understatement the power of family bonds. They get you through the “slap you in the face” moments.

Enduring Love: Just like family bonds and friendship, enduring love is a key ingredient to happiness in life. Justin, while super stubborn and difficult at times, is the love of my life. And he puts up with me when I am also stubborn and difficult and needy and high maintenance at times. Enduring love means you can hate someone and love them at the same time. Enduring love means that no matter what temptations come your way, you will remain faithful.

Enduring love means that you can hold hands and face the same direction as you walk into the ugliest storm.

I’m so blessed and thankful that I have enduring love in my marriage.

Failing: I’ve found that failing is extremely important in life. Without failure, how can you appreciate success? Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like failing and I have a hard time accepting failure (strongly tied to my perfectionist ways). But failing teaches you important life lessons. Failing teaches how you can improve and do better next time.

Failing sets you up for greatness.


And personally, I’ve found that failure can motivate people- as long as you pick yourself back up and keep trying. Failing in life is important.

Health: Lately, I’ve been reminded that good health touches so many aspects of YOUR life and those around you. Do everything in your power to remain healthy. Don’t exercise to lose weight. Exercise to live a longer and healthier life. Don’t just eat healthy food so you can fit into a bridesmaid dress or bikini this summer.

Eat foods packed with powerful nutrients that give you energy to tackle anything that comes your way.

Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands!! Yes, I sound like your mother, but your health is important to living a happy and satisfying life.

And over the past few days, these thoughts popped into my mind….

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Self-pity gets you nowhere.

Having a positive work environment is critical to your happiness. After all, you spend 40 hours a week at work- you shouldn’t be unhappy and resentful all of those hours…


Say thank you any and every chance you get...


If you someone looks nice or if you notice they've lost a few lbs, let me them know! A compliment can go such a long way.

Few projects or emails can't wait until Monday morning.

If you're afraid of something - absolutely anything- try to overcome that fear soon. A life full of fear is not worth living. Who knows? Maybe I'll end up camping in the wilderness for aliens this summer.


Stop over-analyzing every single word someone says to you.


Don't worry about the unknown or things that haven't yet occuured.


Your mind is your biggest enemy. Learn how to defeat yourself when needed. 

Say NO! Seriously. Do it. Saying "No" is perfectly fine and does not make you a bad person.

Yes, you used to be skinner. Stop trying to be your "high school" weight.

Going to bed at 7:45 pm is perfectly normal and acceptable. Rest up, my friend.


So, the biggest lesson I learned while writing this blog post is that I might joke about retail therapy or that my life depends on Starbucks. But when times are tough, really tough- I can’t reach for my pair of boots or run to Starbucks to feel balanced and happy again. I dig deep for some soul searching. I call my friends and family to request some personal time. I lean on Justin. I try to make someone else smile or find happiness. Or I go to the gym to de-stress.

So, I’ll hardly ever say this- but stop reading this blog post and go focus on one of these areas in life that you need to work on.

Go on.

I’ll be waiting for you to come back.

I promise.

Go.

Much love,
Ashley


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Year of Random Acts of Kindness: Weeks 6-7

I know what you are thinking...

Don't you love how I always try to guess what you're thinking?

"Ashley, have you stopped being kind?! You haven't posted in a few weeks!"

Life and vacation kept me busy over the holidays, so it was difficult to find time to blog.

But, I promise you that I was kind.

I opened the doors for strangers.

I picked up an old lady's cookie after she dropped on the ground. She refused to eat it, but I encouraged her to remember the five second rule. And noted that it rained earlier so the ground was probably clean. She still didn't eat the cookie. And yes, I thought about eating the cookie.

I bought healthy snacks for our family on vacation. Don't worry- I also won everyone over by purchasing chocolate covered bacon for us to share.

The verdict?
More bacon. Always.


But my favorite random act of kindness happened on New Year's Eve.

Justin and I were having lunch at The Friendly Fishermen.

The breeze was perfect.

The view was beautiful.

Nothing beats a beer with an ocean view.

The sun was shining.

And ninja birds were stalking us.


Look closely. He is standing like a ninja.

But don't worry, we did not feed the birds.


Angry Birds.

But we probably wouldn't have shared our food anyway. Our spread was de-lic-ious. We had raw oysters, a smoked fish spread, mahi mahi nuggets, and a stuffed carb.

And the cherry on the sundae was our amazing server.

She reminded me of my Grandma Kaye because she made us laugh and smile so much. She kept our beers coming, and checked up on us without stalking us like the ninja birds.

She was simply a rockstar.

And I knew I wanted to surprise her with a generous tip.

"I just love her," I told Justin. "She is great!"

"You want to leave her a large tip, don't you?" Justin asked as if he was reading my mind.

I smiled.

Of course, I did! And I was positive he felt the same way.

So I used some of my Christmas money and left her a $20 dollar tip (about 50% of our bill).

Public Service Announcement: Your server probably only makes $2.13 / hour so tip at LEAST 20%!!

Back to your regularly scheduled blog...

I also wrote her a note to make her smile:

I snapped this picture before the note and cash nearly blew off the pier.
Because I'm full of luck...

Share your heart with everyone you meet.

And tip a few extra dollars when you receive exceptional service.

You'll both be happy you did....

Much love,
Ashley


Friday, January 4, 2013

Ashley's 30 Day Boot Camp

I've gained back all of my weight. Are you sick of me telling you that yet? I know, I'm sick of writing it too. It's complicated. I'm in a horrible relationship. And I'm sure you know about it...maybe you have a similar problem.

The root of my problem is my relationship with food.  I just don't know my limits. I have a hard time with portion control. And I want to eat during every single emotion I ever feel.

You're right, this is not me...mainly because this would be a plate of cheese instead of a plate of donuts.
But the message remains the same: I have a food addiction.

I ask you guys to be there for me.

To support me.

To encourage me to make wise decisions.

To talk me about of the large pizza with extra pepperoni.

To sway me from the bacon cheeseburger.

To convince me that sour cream, ranch dressing, and cheese do not make everything better.

But I have a hard time listening. Or I become a closet eater, which means I shovel food in my face when no one is looking.

And to be honest with you, I'm completely terrified of getting pregnant and reaching 300 lbs.

300 lbs.

That means I'd be beyond qualified for The Biggest Loser.

Today I weighed about 232 lbs.

Not my highest (241).

And far from my lowest (199).

I'm sure it's a combination of bloating + holiday weight gain + vacation snacks and drinks + holiday drinking.  But today, I realized my problem.

I try to give up everything all at once. 

No cheese. No mayo. No bacon. No burgers. No fried food. No ranch dressing.

I completely wipe it out of my diet for a week or so.

Kick major butt.

Drop the lbs quickly.

Then, I fall off the wagon.

I add a strip of bacon on my egg sandwich.

I ask for cheese on my burrito bowl at Qdoba.

And then the wagon runs me over.  Then the wagon backs up and runs over me again. The next thing you know, I'm back where I started writing a blog like this or this.

Promising you that next time will be different.

Explaining that this time I have the answer.

Saying that my attitude is different.

Informing you that I'm inspired for change.

And then you read something like this or the blog post today.

You are quickly reminded that I'm human.  And I make mistakes. But I make the mistakes often and have a hard time learning from them.

So, I've put together a 30 Day challenge...inspired by my friend Ann Semon's blog.

I'm not trying to eliminate every single horrible food from my diet. And I'm not making an outrageous claim to workout every single day twice. Instead, I've developed a plan. For the next 30 days, I'll do the following in my version of a Boot Camp.
  • Avoid alcohol. No exceptions.
  • Do cardio 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.
  • Do strength training twice a week for at least 20 minutes each time.
  • Do 150 abs every single day (sets of 25 each method).
  • Do 15 push-ups each day.
  • No mayo. This sneaky condiment can easily add 100-300 calories to your sandwich depending on how much gets piled on!
  • No fried food. No exceptions.
  • Eat fruit for breakfast 4-5 days a week.
  • I'm allowed 3 cheat meals a week. The cheat meal can include anything except booze, mayo, or fried food.
If I cheat or miss a workout, I have to do 30 burpees. 

Don't know what burpees are? Click here to watch this video. Basically, they suck and make me want to vomit. But breaking rules at Boot Camp has consequences.

So today marks Day 1. I'll document all of my food intake and exercise in MyFitnessPal, which is an app that is available for you to download and use too (free)! My username is ashleysieb.  Sign-up and add me as a friend! 

My 30 Day Boot Camp will end on Sunday, February 3.

By that point, my hope is everything I've done will become a habit. And I can start a new program to inspire new fitness routines. I'm sure there are better exercises or goals I could add. I'm certainly open to your ideas and suggestions for the next 30 days. But for now, this is my plan. And you're welcome to join me. 

I'm not doing this for a resolution (you can read my focus for 2013 here and here). I'm doing this so I can live a long and healthy life with my family. And as one of my best friend's Ashley wrote in her recent blog post, I need to do this for me.

Not a number on the scale.

Or a certain dress size.

Or vacation destintation.

I am doing this for me.

P.S. Bachelor workouts start on Monday. I hope you join me!!  I'll post the workouts on my blog every Monday!

Much love,
Ashley