Homemade Granola

I LOVE GRANOLA.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten the excitement out of the way, let’s chat about being functional.
I’m a huge fan of pre-buying healthy items to help save some steps but I’ve bene noticing that when I reach for some store-bought granola the sugars are super high and it may not have all the flavors I want. I decided to buy a few things to start making it myself at home because not only is it healthier and I can make smaller batches to change up flavors, but it’s also way cheaper in the long run and it helps me to be more aware of what I’m eating. Another huge bonus – your house will smell amazing after cooking this!!

How I’ve been using granola lately:
+ Strawberries + Granola + A Little Honey
+ Yogurt + Granola
+ Apple + Peanut/almond butter + Granola
+ Add Granola To Oatmeal


INGREDIENTS

Rolled Oats (I did 2 cups)
Nuts (any kind, I used macadamia nuts & sliced almonds)
Seeds (I used chia & flax – you could also add pumpkin and sunflower!)
Coconut Oil
Cinnamon – lots! (5+ tablespoons)
Salt (literally 1 teaspoon, it’s just to add a little flavor)
Honey*
Coconut Flakes**
*You don’t have to add honey because it is added sugar, but it helps with the flavor to be a smidge sweeter!
**Do NOT add the coconut flakes to the granola until after it’s cooked and cooled off otherwise it will burn (same with chocolate/dried fruit/etc)!

Feel free to add extra things to spice it up: like other nuts, dried fruits, etc

DIRECTIONS

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Mix everything together (*minus coconut flakes / dried fruit)
Spread out on a pan and throw into the oven
Cook for 15 minutes – If everything looks good (aka no burn) cook for another 5 minutes!
Let cool
Add in extras that didn’t go into the oven (coconut flakes, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc)
Store in Air-Tight Container (I often re-use old glass pickle/peanut butter jars before buying new jars)

Let’s Keep It Real

Weight sucks.
Comparison sucks.
Feeling less than sucks.
Clothes not fitting sucks.

That’s a whole lot of suck, so sorry grandma if you’re reading this post.

I have been stepping on the scale recently and have had tears well up in my eyes every single time, and not good tears.

My weight has been a struggle for a long, long time.
If you’ve been around these parts you know all about my weight loss journey. For those of you who are new let me give you a little refresher.
At my heaviest I was about 215. I started slowly changing my lifestyle towards healthy in 2013 and by 2015 I straight crushed it! I got down to my goal weight of 145 and it was so freeing. I had never seen my adult body at that weight, heck I probably hadn’t seen it since my freshman year of high school. After seeing where I was and how I felt I knew I wanted to drop a other 10 lbs. Instead I fell in love and we got married; I got super comfortable because Eddie loves me no matter what, we moved a lot (4 times in one year!), and dealt with a ton of stress and change. All legit excuses but still excuses.
The weight piled back on and today I’m sitting at an uncomfortable 165. Writing that makes me feel shame. I feel sadness and frustration and this ugly sense of self loathing – and thats no longer okay with me.


I can be A LOT Of talk with no action sometimes, can’t we all? So instead of simply just saying I need to make a change I am really trying to step up my routines and make better choices. The truth is – I do not struggle with working out, I struggle with food. I don’t eat poorly all the time, in fact I eat rather healthy, but my portions are way off. I eat too much and too often. That’s my kryptonite – food. Here is what I’m planning to do moving forward.

Food:
Cooking at home
Limit eating out
Eating real food

Physically:
Orange theory
Running
Hiking
Stretching

Emotionally:
Motivation on my mirrors (you’ll see a post on that soon)
Praying
Diving into a bible study


NEW GOALS

+ 30lbs by 30.
I turn 30 in about 6 months (eek!) and I really want to feel my absolute best moving into my 30s. I want to hit this new goal weight and feel stronger than ever.

+ Limit processed everything.

+ Practice and nail down portion control.

+ Have more positive self-talk.


Do you have any fitness / health goals?
What are you doing with working toward accomplishing them?
Or maybe you some tips for my journey, I would love to hear them!

 

How Are You?

“Hey, how are you?”
I sent this text out to a few people this morning and it kind of made me stop and pause for a minute.
Why was I texting this simple, overused and often undervalued question? Did I TRULY want to know how these people were doing? Did I care to hear about the troubles, the joys, the triumphs, the hardships that they are walking through at 8:30 in the morning? Honestly, I did.

One of my monthly goals was to do a check-in post; to pull back the layers and say here I am, this is what’s going on, this is how I’m doing.
So today is that day, aren’t you luck you decided to hop on over here 😉 hah.


How Am I?

Overall decent. I’ve had my share of good days and bad days to kind of balance everything out. Lately I’ve found myself beginning to enter that “separation” mode with the upcoming move(s), adjustments, and overall changes that are coming our way. I’m slowly learning how hard to hit that place of beginning to plant roots and then have to rip the tree up to start over somewhere else; I’ll have done it three times in the last year. Needless to say I’ve had a lot of thoughts/emotions/concerns/joys happening and I guess it’s time to just word vomit all over the place.

Let’s break it down into categories, I think sometimes it’s easier to “check-in” that way.

// SPIRITUALLY //

I’ve been in a really, really numb place. For months, (probably a year or so honestly) I’ve just been kind of going with the flow. If I go to church great, if I don’t, well that’s ok too. I haven’t been reading my Bible, doing a devotional, praying, or even feeling like connecting. I KNOW that it was all me preventing any type of growth or communication between God and I but man, it’s been an incredibly rough couple of months. I will say that the last few days I have been challenging myself to just read Scripture; I don’t have to do a devotional, I don’t have to make it this long drawn out thing – I just need to fill my eyes, mind, and heart with the Word of God. I started and read Ruth one morning (it’s super short) and since then have been reading 3 chapters a day of 1 Samuel. It’s been amazing to me how just reading the Bible has begun to soften my edges. It’s sweeping out the cobwebs and warming the ice that I’ve let build up….I actually find myself looking at the scripture with my old college mind. Wanting to figure out more of the context, the history, the “why” behind it all…it’s been incredibly encouraging.

// MARRIAGE //

It’s been wonderful and also an incredibly interesting learning season.
We haven’t even been married a year yet but things have just kind of come at us full force and we’re learning how to adjust and walk through it. In the first year of Marriage I will have moved 3(ish) times, re-started my photography business multiple times, gone through Eddie’s moms battle with cancer and calling hospice in, Eddies sister being diagnosed with the same lung cancer, multiple weeks spent away from each other with eddie being gone and me in a city I hardly know. High stress from his job, me feeling worthless from my businesses…all while learning how to love/serve/live with/lean on/challenge/encourage/have fun with/relax with another person. I literally cringe at the phrase “marriage is hard” because when I was single all I would hear from my married friends is “you just wait until you’re married, it’s really hard.” Well yes, yes it is hard. However something our premarital counselor said has stuck with me; “It doesn’t have to be what you see”. Meaning, we don’t have to scream at each other, which was HUGE eyeopener for both of us – I grew up where yelling was just normal and Eddie grew up seeing zero communication. So we just assumed all married couples yell at each other here and there; well it doesn’t have to be that way. We can resolve conflict as it arrises, talk respectfully to each other, and never hit that button. I also find it meaning: It doesn’t mean I have to be bitter that he is gone all the time, that he is bitter I’m chasing my dreams, that if our life doesn’t look like XYZ then something is wrong. Our marriage is our marriage and it should only be reflecting one example – the example of how Christ loved the Church. That’s what we are striving for, very very slowly. 😉

// FRIENDSHIPS //

This has been a sore spot for me.
I’ve mentioned a few times just how much my friendships have changed since I got engaged/married/moved away. It’s been a really hard pill for me to swallow and if I’m 100% honest I’ve felt let down, neglected, and just hurt. I still have a handful of friends who have been there through all the crazy, but things just change. People, life circumstances, location…change makes things incredibly hard to stay the same….it makes it impossible. So you either adjust and adapt or you don’t. That’s been a hard pill for me to swallow, the “you don’t” part. I’m a fighter by nature; I don’t let things go easy and I always put forth effort into anything until I realize it’s past the point of working. Ahhh, it’s just hard ya know?

// MOVING //

Ooophf. Y’all this makes me cross my eyes.
As mentioned multiple times I’ll have moved a lot in a year. From South Carolina to Maine, Maine to Connecticut, Connecticut back to Charleston for a bit, then off to California. I think Tobi (my cat) is extremely traumatized haha. In all seriousness I’m actually pretty impressed with myself and how “easy” I’ve embraced the change. Listen I LOATHE change, hate it, and have for years (this all comes from loosing my parents) but I’ve actually enjoyed the newness of everything we’ve experienced. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had my bitter moments (or weeks haha), I’ve been frustrated at having to pack/unpack/get rid of all the things, and my heart yearns to settle in a place longer than a few months. Yet I’m still really excited for all of the adventures that await and all of the new places I get to not only see but live in for a little bit. I never thought I would have this strong of a spirit of adventure with all the anxiety I’ve had, but God has done some big stuff in my life.

// HEALTH //

I’m so frustrated with this area.
I have actually gained like hmm 15lbs in the last 9/10 months. I am sure it’s from all of the stress and change but my gosh it’s sucked. I’ve started working out more and trying to be more mindful of what I eat, but it’s just hard. I’m not comfortable in my own body, I loath the way my clothes fit, and overall I’m just a little angry with myself. Yup, there’s that.

// BUSINESS //

This is another area I’ve seen growth and loss in.
Photography – I feel like I’ve really grown into my own niche in my photography since moving out of Charleston. I’ve been able to explore and capture what I truly enjoy and it’s been great to see the creativity back in my work. That being said it’s been super hard to re-start my business twice and actually make money from it. Marketing yourself to your new area, to new clients, getting your name out there – it’s freaking hard.

Blog – This has also been a whirlwind. I’m trying to figure out my why behind it all and also attempting to make this into something that generates some income has been an interesting transition and learning curve. Seriously, HUGE LEARNING CURVE. I’ve also thought of completely re-branding. Getting rid of “Taking Steps Home” and coming up with a new name; I’m not fully sold on that idea, but it’s definitely a possibility. What do you think?

Etsy – So needless to say I’m shutting this down. Currently EVERYTHING is only $10 (+ shipping an not including stickers because those are less than $10) because I’m trying to get rid of all the stock I have before moving. I just didn’t really invest in this area like I could have and at the time I’m just not passionate about it anymore. So if you’re looking for some stocking stuffers head on over and help me have less stuff to move!!! <3 <3 <3


So there is a real check-in for you.
Which now leads me to ask….HOW ARE YOU?
Really, how are you doing, I truly want to know!

Healthy Food Choices On The Go

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC®, The Coca-Cola Company, and Conagra Brands but all my opinions are my own. #PowerfullySmart #CollectiveBias

This week has already turned out to be super busy.
I was working on a blog assignment yesterday when I got called to some free studio space an hour away for some photography work. I jumped on the chance and organized all the things I needed to take and was spontaneously gone for about 5 hours. When I got back home I was starving, exhausted, and still had so much work to do before falling asleep. Today is about the same (minus spontaneous photoshoots unless they come my way!!) with a to-do list a mile long for house stuff, a TON of blog work to catch up on, photography emails, workout classes, meal prepping…OOPHHF.

Y’all while I love having a crazy busy schedule I don’t love feeling like I’m not putting forth good judgement with those last minute food options (especially when paying for a gym membership). I’m a lover of cooking and most mornings/nights I am able to actually cook a full meal and enjoy it – but then days like yesterday pop up and I’m left too exhausted or too rushed to cook something when I get home OR before I run out the door. For that reason I always keep a few frozen meals on hand that I know will help fuel/re-fuel me. The more I educate myself the more I appreciate when companies actually put forth real effort into making those frozen meal choices healthier and more satisfying! The Healthy Choice® Power Bowls are made with an intentional combination of bold flavors and simple ingredients; they are balanced full of vegetables, proteins, and whole grains so all bases are covered. I also just found out that they now intentionally create their meals with antibiotic free chicken and all natural USDA choice beef – hallelujah hands all around.

Speaking of crazy busy schedules; do you know what I have been intentionally trying to focus on the last few weeks?
HYDRATION. I posted about it a while back with how I’m drinking a big glass of water in the morning – but what about when I’m on the run?! I always have a water bottle with me – but I feel like I plow through those and don’t always focus on how much I’m actually drinking. Enter smartwater; vapor-distilled for purity, inspired by the clouds (hello beautiful clouds!) and my favorite part, full of electrolytes for a uniquely clean taste. No only will the water help hydrate but with those electrolytes it helps me to keep wanting to drink the water because they can make you a little more thirsty = MORE HYDRATION!

What are some of your go-to quick meals when you’re feeling the time crunch?
Also, how are you doing on your hydration game, seriously??

Pssst…. Earn .75 cash back when you purchase Healthy Choice® Power Bowls at Walmart (any variety – any size)!!!!


I grab my Healthy Choice Power Bowls & smartwater when I hit up Walmart on the weekend for other essentials.
What are some of your favorite grabs from Walmart??

Smart Food Choices For Your Day

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC® and The Coca-Cola Company, but all my opinions are my own. #SnackHonestly #CollectiveBias

Would you like to know one of the biggest struggles I’ve found working from home?
Making healthy food choices.
Seriously, It’s so easy to fall prey to that hunger strike and purposefully (and mindlessly) snack throughout the work day on any and everything you have laying around. I will completely admit that I am a huge snacker and find myself trotting down to the kitchen far too often than I want to admit. A week or so ago I talked about creating a morning routine to keep myself on track with living a better lifestyle. One thing I have been trying to incorporate at some point in the morning is preparing snacks for my busy days.

With trying to up my hydration game sometimes I need something a little more tasty to drink. Lately I’ve been grabbing one of the many Honest Tea® flavors because they are just a tad sweet and still help to keep me on track with making better choices. They also pair perfectly with Lorissa’s Kitchen which is a delicious, prep-free protein snack using only responsible raised proteins, like 100% grass-fed beef, and responsibly raised pork ! It is also high in protein, low in carbs, fat, has no MSG or preservatives and is gluten free – WHEW, what a great snack option right?!

I’ve been really good about portioning out my snacks lately (so I don’t overeat) and when I’m on the road all day traveling to and from photography sessions, meeting friends, going to meetings – I need snacks that are going to keep me on track. I’ve been hitting up Walmart to grab some of my essential snacks to prepare at the beginning of the week and keep on hand for when that “I’m hungry” feeling strikes!

My Go-To Snacks Lately:

  1. Nuts (pistachos, cashews, almonds, etc)
  2. Lorissa’s Kitchen flavors!
  3. Dried fruit!!! (with no added sugar)
  4. Dried plantains…give me all the things!
  5. Honest Tea – gives me a different flavor to keep my hydration game strong!
  6. Apples & Bananas

 

All of these snacks help to fuel my body to keep me from being starving all the time. The more I learn about nutrition, fueling my body, and becoming stronger,  the more I realize how important it is to plan ahead and make the best choices when it comes to my in-between moments. Since I am a lover of learning; I would love to know what some of your favorite snacks are to keep the hunger at bay!


( ^ Also Tobi was meowing sooooooo hard at wanting a piece; this was me taunting him and I definitely didn’t feed it to him, poor guy #badcatmom )

Earn $1.00 cash back with purchase of following combo, exclusive at Walmart.

  • Honest Tea® – Any variety – Single bottle only
    • Both products must be purchased on the same receipt to receive credit for this rebate.

 

Creating A Morning Routine

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc® and it’s advertiser but all my opinions are my own. #NatureMadeGummies #CollectiveBias

Morning Routines help to set our days up to succeed.
I can honestly say that without a morning routine I am left feeling a little all over the place, frazzled, and lacking some direction. Maybe it’s just because i’m the type of person who thrives on structure – but all of the articles I read about successful and happy people start with how they schedule their mornings.
Let me also say that while these are some of the steps I take to walk into my mornings this doesn’t mean that I follow them every single day – some times I make times for those beautifully slow mornings. The ones where you don’t even realize that the mornings have bled into the afternoons – those are glorious too.


Stretch

One of the first things I try to remember to do when I wake up is to stretch; I practice a few different moves while still laying in bed. I have found that stretching is one of the most crucial ways to start your mornings. It helps your blood to start flowing, loosens your joints, jump-starts your mind, and brings some energy to help face your day. I always make sure to stretch my arms, legs, and back – limbering up the whole body helps me to not feel like a slug when I finally do roll out of bed.

Have some quiet time

This is an area where I have done great for many months, and then I struggle for many months, and then I go back to being great again. I love spending time reading my Bible in the mornings; it helps my mind to start the day focusing on the good things and the beautifully challenging things vs the struggle/frustration/anger/bitterness/drama/etc that could have followed me from the day before. Be intentional with your time and make sure you do carve out some precious moments of quiet time. Whether that’s reading your Bible, praying, meditating, finishing a chapter in a book, take at least 15 minutes to be intentional with moving into your day.

Drink a big glass of water

I’m not sure if I’m the only one but there are many mornings where I wake up dry mouthed and so thirsty. I always keep a cup of water next to my bed that I drink throughout the night but I am attempting to be more intentional about drinking a big glass after I get out of bed. Not only is it a great way to re-hydrate your body after a night of sleep but it will help with flushing out toxins. It also is supposed to jump start your metabolism, help your brain become more alert, and help with any of those “i’m starving” feelings from waking up on an empty stomach. ((Also, I read that it can help with constipation if you’re struggling with that – I’ve read one of the main reasons for constipation is dehydration.))

Tell yourself 3 positive things

Ooffpph.
I’m not sure if I’m the only one who struggles with talking negative to themselves, but sometimes I’m a downright bully to myself. The mind has a lot of power over how we view ourselves, our bodies, and our days. Instead of starting my day feeling like I’m already defeated by a looming to-do list, pants that I know will be too tight, and a possible challenging situation; I’m going to think more positive. I’m going to try to begin listing three positive things every day, big or small, just positive! If you don’t know where to start, start with “I’m alive”. Seriously, you ARE alive and that is something to be thankful for!

Take your vitamins

Make your health a priority.
Truth y’all – getting the right vitamins and nutrients into your body at the start of your day is a great habit to form. I’ve found that I feel more alert, perform quicker, and overall feel better when I’m consciously making the effort to take the vitamins my body needs.
Lately I’ve focusing on my hair, skin and nails. One of the best things I’ve found: Biotin. Did you know that Nature Made makes a Biotin gummy and that it may help support healthy hair, skin and nails?* I pop two of these chewy (& tasty!) gummies into my mouth in the morning and know that the 2000mg of Biotin is going to get to work. These are seriously gummies that you can trust – they are USP verified for potency, unity and quality. Nature Made® has the first gummies certified by the USP for purity and potency.
Also, it’s great to just feel like a kid again having a fruit snack.
Anyone else get really excited when you eat gummies again, or am I the only one?

PS
You can pick up these Nature Made Adult Gummies (so many different kinds: Multi For Her plus Omega-3s, Melatonin, Vitamin D) at your local Walmart!
Just head on over to the vitamin section and select the ones you’re looking to add to your daily routine!


Are you a morning routine person?
If so, what are some of your tried and true things that jump-start your day?
AND out of curiosity vitamins are you currently loving that help your body feel better?

 

* Biotin may help support healthy hair, skin and nails in those that are biotin deficient.
* † These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treats cure or prevent any disease.