Cherry Picking

Cherry Picking

My Top | Jeans | Boots

It has become a summer tradition for us to take a drive out to the orchard for an afternoon of cherry picking. This summer’s weather has been (like the rest of 2020) weird. Idaho is known for wild weather swings – but we’ve had a lot of unusually cool and rainy days this month. Although the day we went picking last week was cool and sprinkling rain off and on, it was a lovely afternoon. Life admittedly has been difficult since Evan’s brain injury in March, but every day he continues to amaze me with his progress. And going to the orchard to continue one of our traditions was especially wonderful because it felt so…normal.

Father’s Day Gift Guide

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One | My husband is obsessed with his Fitbit. This is a must have for any fitness minded dad.

Two | This wood card is the coolest Father’s Day card I’ve seen

Three | My husband loves this deodorant, and it’s a great way to give dad a little luxury that won’t break the bank

Four | Instead of a cheesy mug, give him a mug that will keep his coffee hot

Five | This super cool portable camping stove converts to a pizza oven. I wouldn’t even mind keeping this on our patio all summer long!

Six | My husband loves all things Patagonia and these are the perfect summer shorts

Seven | My husband has and loves this drill

Eight | Another favorite item my husband owns! This little speaker can go literally anywhere (it’s waterproof too!).

Nine | AirPods are sure to be a hit

Ten | My husband is super into having a smart home and this little gadget can control everything from your lights, to thermostat, to the TV.

Eleven | Perfect for the dad who travels a lot and this high quality bag is also 40% off

Twelve | Everything from Kiehl’s is pretty great, and this all in one body wash/shampoo has rave reviews

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Sliding Into Summer

After nearly 3 months in the hospital, Evan is finally home!!! While we continue to work on recovery with outpatient rehabilitation 4 days a week, we are making sure to leave some free time for some summer fun. As we are still observing social distancing, (and public pools are closed anyway) we have to bring the fun to us at home. This is definitely going to be a different and much more challenging summer, but I’m determined to still create fun memories for the kids and provide lots of stimulation for Evan to help facilitate his recovery progress. The other day we had record high temperatures, so we set up our slip n slide and had a fun afternoon enjoying the sunshine.

Slip N Slide Essentials

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Salt Lake City

With Evan in the hospital here in Salt Lake City undergoing rehab and as we continue to deal with all of the visitation restrictions due to Covid, my hubby and Cole have been holding down the fort at home and coming for weekend visits. Cole isn’t allowed to come to the hospital and both parents aren’t allowed in at the same time, so it has been incredibly difficult to say the least. All we can really do is try to make the best of the situation and continually remind ourselves that this is temporary.

Our routine is for my husband and I switch off and he goes to spend the weekend in the hospital with Evan, while I spend the weekend in a hotel downtown with Cole. While we are being very careful to practice social distancing guidelines, we still need to get out of the hotel a bit and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. We love taking long walks around the city and especially love the beautiful temple grounds. Salt Lake also has some fantastic restaurants and we’ve been enjoying some great takeout. It has also been fun teaching Cole a little family history – Cole’s grandma Carolyn’s family was LDS and his great, great, great grandparents were very involved with the beginnings of the faith.

Top | Joggers | Shoes (similar) | Bag
Tee (similar) | Joggers | Shoes (similar) | BagTop (similar) | Joggers | Shoes | BagTee | Joggers | Sneakers | Bag | Sunglasses038E69ED-41CB-4C0A-A00A-A97AF0F8BBEBSweatshirt (similar) | Sweats (similar) | Shoes (similar)| Bag

A few of our recommendations from our visits…

Stay…

AC by Marriott Downtown | This hotel is very new and has a really cool modern feel. It is also within walking distance to all of the downtown shopping and restaurants. I especially loved the floor to ceiling windows with city skyline views.

Eat…

Takashi | This restaurant is the number one ranked Salt Lake City restaurant on TripAdvisor…for good reason. You don’t often think landlocked states can have good sushi but this sushi can compete with the best of Seattle. I loved the rolls I ordered (Sunshine Roll and Imagine Roll) and Cole really enjoyed his teriyaki chicken bowl.

Red Iguana | One thing I truly miss about living in Southern California is good, authentic Mexican food. Boise’s Mexican food scene is a bit…lacking. This popular and highly reviewed restaurant is quite possibly one of the best I’ve eaten at. The enchilada sauce was out of this world and the guacamole was freshly made. We also tried another local restaurant located right downtown called Blue Iguana, and apparently this restaurant is owned by a family member of the owners of Red Iguana. It is a bit more of an upscale environment but Red Iguana is better.

The Dodo Restaurant | This restaurant was recommended to me by a friend, and they are currently offering a drive thru service. On Mother’s Day we were on the hunt for a convenient brunch restaurant and decided to try this one. While the food was good…the real stand out was the desserts. Cole loved the coco layer cake and the toll house pie was delicious (albeit very rich!).

Bombay House | Another restaurant highly recommended by locals. I had this one delivered by Door Dash to the hospital when I was craving some good Indian food the other night. And all of the staff kept asking “is that Bombay House?!” If you like good Indian food, you won’t be disappointed.

Eva’s Bakery | This is quite possibly the cutest and most charming little storefront in all of downtown. We really came for the cute factor but stayed for the food. I’m normally not much of a sweets person, but the stuffed French toast was delicious, and the pastries we tried (lemon cake & brownie) were also top notch. My latte was also fantastic too.

Raw Bean Coffee House | So many coffee shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays in Utah and while on the hunt for one that was open I came across this one. Their large latte is an absolute monster and their coffee is quite good.

Shop…

City Creek Center | Only about 50% of the shopping center is currently open, but it was still fun to stroll around and window shop. It is a neat open air shopping center with some fantastic high end shopping, as well as mid range and affordable options as well.

The Lady Bag | They are currently closed due to Covid, but this is one shop I’ll want to come back to on a future trip! This high end consignment store has an incredible selection of designer bags.

Young Warrior

Young Warrior

March 3rd was just a normal day. Evan and I ran errands, picked Cole up from school, had dinner together, and were getting ready to go to Taekwondo. And in an instant our lives were changed forever. Evan started screaming in pain holding his head and became very weak & nauseous. I immediately knew it was a neurological emergency and I threw both kids in the car and raced towards the emergency room. Cole and I were screaming and crying begging Evan to hold on as he lost consciousness. When we arrived at the ER I told them that Evan was having a stroke. The ER doctor told me that it was “highly unlikely” but proceeded to take him for a CT scan which confirmed my hunch. He had a large bleed on his brain & I truly thought we were going to have to say goodbye right there in the ER. But moments later, in walked Dr Jutzy (one of Evans Pediatric Neurosurgeons) who smiled at me and said, “I think we can do something here.” Evan was rushed to emergency surgery to place a drain in his head, and Dr Jutzy’s words gave me the glimmer of hope I needed to endure what was to come.

E4336D0B-20D9-46D0-BE03-45D1E439434BMarch 5th – 2 days after his brain injury

For over 3 weeks after, Evan faced a battle that most people will be lucky enough to never experience. Evan was diagnosed with an AVM, a rare congenital blood vessel abnormality on the brain. People can actually have these their entire lives, and may or may not ever cause a problem. In Evan’s case, he developed an aneurysm which ruptured and bled. It was a constant battle in those weeks to try to stabilize him and treat the aneurysm. Not only did an attempted angiogram to try to treat the aneurysm fail, he suffered respiratory distress from a mucous plug and a code blue was called. He had to have an emergency bronchoscopy to save his life again. He then developed severe vasospasms in the vessels in his brain which caused additional strokes, and had to have a second emergency angiogram to attempt to open the vessels. This was followed by trips to CT every other day, and as he was so unstable he went with a team of 2 RTs, 2 RNs & occasionally a doctor, to continue to evaluate the vasospasms to make sure they weren’t returning. To treat the strokes, he was intentionally fluid overloaded to perfuse the brain as much as possible – which also caused horrible swelling making him completely unrecognizable. The pressure in his head was so high he continued to need to be put in a deeper and deeper coma with the aid of barbiturates and paralytics. There were a lot of long nights with 4-5 nurses and a doctor in his room fighting to stabilize him while all I could do was sit there and shake. There was talk of not being able to extubate him and potentially needing a tracheotomy. I tried so hard to hang onto hope, but it was obvious the situation was incredibly dire and we were going to need a miracle.

And by the grace of God, we began to witness a miracle unfold. On March 28th we crossed our fingers and extubated him. He started breathing and opening his eyes. Over the following week, his breathing remained labored, but he continued to wake up more and more. He eventually started following commands, smiling at us, and moving his extremities. And our biggest miracle was yet to come.

909E815C-C23C-4E72-A758-F1BE73E296CAApril 11th – our last day in PICU just prior to transferring to the Pediatric unit

On April 16th, a 3rd angiogram was performed in another attempt to embolize the aneurysm in Evan’s brain. Once an aneurysm has bled, it has a very high risk of bleeding again and every single day it felt like we were sitting on a ticking time bomb. When Evan went back to surgery, I kissed him goodbye and said a prayer for peace and surrender – trusting that God would see us through. The mood had been somber with Evan’s doctors that morning. After the last failed attempt, we all knew that there was a high probability that it could fail again.

9D409D1D-D2C3-4950-AB88-DB6D841713F8An image of the AVM

After waiting about 4 hours while Evan was back in surgery, our interventional radiologist Dr Bell came to the waiting room and told me he had some news. Not only did they successfully embolize the aneurysm, they got the AVM too. This wasn’t even something we had thought was going to be possible and had just hoped the aneurysm would be stabilized. We had been planning to pursue radiation treatments in the coming months to treat the AVM and there was no discussion of embolization even being an option. Covid be damned because I hugged Dr Bell as hard as I could and sobbed happy tears – and I hear there was a whole lot of high fiving and cheers happening in the angio suite too!!! We are so thankful to Evan’s incredibly skilled doctors (Dr Bell, Dr Perl, Dr Cherny, Dr Zouros, and Dr Jutzy) who didn’t give up on this incredible challenge. And so grateful to God for making a way. We witnessed a true miracle that day.

img_3243After his angiogram on April 16th. “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

I’ve always known how special Evan is…and in this very trying time he has touched the hearts of so many. We had a string of surgical staff coming to the recovery room after Evan’s angiogram, who had heard Evan’s story and had been waiting weeks for this day with their fingers crossed for us. People we had never met were congratulating us & just giddy with excitement. After his procedure we were sent back to PICU for observation, and all of our PICU family was just as excited as we were! They said they had been calling down the whole time trying to get updates. His anesthesiologist began to tear up and told me that she’s been following us very close since she first met us in the ER the night of Evan’s emergency surgery, because her own 3 year old nephew was lost in a horrible tragedy about the same time we were admitted. Seeing Evan hang on and continue to get better had brought her some joy in this time of her own personal grief. I still think of her often, and I pray for comfort and peace for her and her family.

E9F3531A-DE3F-4365-9DD5-C12E3E991468April 21st – Evan’s first day of inpatient rehab

We are currently at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City undergoing inpatient rehab. Evan has a long, challenging road ahead. He is having to relearn everything – from speaking, to eating, to walking. He has to rebuild his strength completely as even just sitting up independently is a challenge for him. Despite the difficult days here, Evan continues to make huge strides every day. He works his body and mind to the point of complete exhaustion, all with a smile on his face. Every day I am more and more in awe of his incredible strength and resilience. Evan’s name in Welsh means “God has been gracious” and in Celtic it means “young warrior.” Our young warrior is fighting hard and God is watching over him every step of the way.

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Working so hard to regain strength! April 30th

During this time of great uncertainty in the world, we have seen that God still performs miracles. We are witnessing one unfold and I’m so incredibly grateful. God also sends his helpers, and boy…were we blessed with the presence of true angels. People who were strangers to us 2 months ago, are now our family. I can’t express the love and gratitude we have for the heroes at St Lukes Children’s Hospital in Boise. Not only did they expertly care for Evan saving his life over and over, they loved him like their own. They cried with us on the bad days and cheered with us on the good days. They surrounded Evan and stood in prayer at his bedside with us. They were just as giddy as we were seeing him make such huge improvements, and as one of his RT’s said, “he’s our miracle boy.” To his neurosurgeons, ICU doctors, rehab doctors, RNs, PTs, OTs, STs, RTs, CNAs, chaplains, child life specialists, social workers…you are all heroes. We’ve had the added aspect of facing a global pandemic during our time in the hospital, and the courage and sacrifice of our healthcare workers continuing to carry on despite their personal risk and fears is truly heroism. Thank you all and we love and appreciate you more than we can ever say.

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Saying goodbye to a few of the incredible PICU doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists that saved Evan’s life before leaving for rehab

We all think that something like this will never happen. But life can be inherently cruel and unfair, and I now fully realize how fragile it is. Tomorrow is never promised and your life can be shattered in an instant. Don’t take any moments for granted. Hug and kiss your kids constantly. Don’t wait until tomorrow to spend time with them. Let them sleep with you, play with them, find joy in every day. All the little things you are annoyed with or bothered by day to day…realize that those moments are actually a blessing. Most problems in life really are trivial. When you are sitting in an ICU praying for your child to live, you truly realize that what you thought were tough days, are in fact a gift. Embrace them. And no matter what trials you may be faced with…don’t lose hope. Your miracle may be just around the corner.

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“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” Job 5:9 

Snapshots From Sun Valley

We spent this past holiday weekend on a little ski getaway in Sun Valley Idaho. Sun Valley is my happy place (as well as my family’s!) so we love getting away for a visit whenever we can. I had packed along my camera, but ended up not even taking it out of its case as I was just enjoying soaking up time with my family. I did however manage to grab a few cell phone pics which I’m sharing as well as a quick recap of our little getaway!

No trip to Sun Valley is complete without a trip to The Toy Store. Evan scored this yodeling pickle (which he was a lot more excited about than this picture would have you believe).

Turtleneck | Sweatshirt | Leggings (Club Monaco, old – similar) | Boots | Bag | Sunglasses

An afternoon caffeine pick me up is in order after a few hours of walking around town and hitting all the shops. The Starbucks is anything but basic with a super cool log cabin feel and a play area with lots of toys for kids. This is a definite gathering place in town and it’s always crowded with a fun atmosphere.

Dinner at The Pioneer Saloon (or The Pio as its known) is always a must do for us. It’s a super fun old western restaurant with classic Idaho dishes.

We spent an entire day skiing at Dollar Mountain which is a kids ski paradise with lots of easy and well groomed green and blue runs. It’s the perfect place for a kid to learn and this was the trip we were finally able to get Evan off the harness by the end of the day!

Lunch with a view…

Ski Coat | Ski Pants | Similar North Face Hat | Similar North Face Scarf | Similar North Face Gloves | Goggles || Cole’s Ski Coat | Pants | Helmet | Similar Goggles | Gloves

After a full day of skiing we went out to dinner at Despos Mexican restaurant and then for a stroll around town. For a nightcap we headed back to Starbucks for hot cocoas to warm up (it was a super cold weekend!).

Turtleneck | Jeans | Fur Vest | Coat | Boots | Beanie | Bag

Breakfast at The Kneadery before heading out of town

I also found a little time to squeeze in some retail therapy for myself because Sun Valley has some amazing thrift and consignment stores where you can find incredible designer pieces. This trip I scored a vintage St John jacket, a suede MaxMara skirt, and a sporty Bogner cardigan.

Tunic | Boots

As it always is, I felt a little sad leaving but came home feeling recharged and ready to tackle the next few busy weeks I have in store! I can’t wait to get back to this little slice of heaven soon…Signature

Packing For A Ski Getaway

Packing For A Ski Getaway

With President’s Day coming up next week, a lot of schools are having their annual “ski week” winter break. And we are going to take advantage of the long weekend ourselves with a little ski vacation to our favorite place for a winter getaway – Sun Valley, Idaho. Today I’m sharing some inspiration and recommendations of what to pack for a winter ski trip.

On the slopes…

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One :: Smartwool makes the warmest layering pieces, and this sweater is sure to keep you warm all day

Two :: Obermeyer makes really nice, affordable ski gear and this is my favorite ski jacket

Three :: This Patagonia zip up is a great layering piece

Four :: Another Smartwool layering necessity

Five :: On really warm days I sometimes ski in just sunglasses, but goggles are best on cooler days for warmth and protection

Six :: These are the Obermeyer ski pants that I wear

Seven :: I’m usually taking my time down the easy greens with my kiddos, so I opt for a beanie. If I’m skiing on my own going faster on more challenging runs, a helmet is in order.

Eight :: I always wear a cozy scarf that I can pull up around my face on the coldest of days

Nine :: I ski on Rossignol skis, and they are a great all around, affordable ski

Ten :: A Patagonia nano is great for layering on really cold days, or on its own on warmer days

Eleven :: I swear by my North Face gloves; they are the only ones who keep my hands toasty all day (these are on MAJOR sale too)

Twelve :: Smartwool socks are a must have

Thirteen :: These are the best boots to wear to and from the lodge

Fourteen :: I really love my Salomon boots and I had mine custom fitted at a local ski shop for ultimate comfort

Apres Ski…

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One :: A cozy cashmere turtleneck is a must pack item

Two :: This is an investment coat, but it will keep you toasty warm strolling around the town all day long

Three :: The honeycomb detail adds some interest to this cozy sweater

Four :: Such a fun little sporty and affordable sweater

Five :: This cozy Free People beanie is currently 40% off

Six :: These boots manage to be stylish and practical

Seven :: Leather leggings are a great comfortable option

Eight :: This cashmere zip up is a great layering option

Nine :: A ski resort is the perfect place to wear alllll the fur pieces, and this cozy coat is on sale for $60

Ten :: This fair isle sweater is so pretty and timeless

Eleven :: A cashmere scarf is a must and this one is currently 50% off

Twelve :: This cashmere blend poncho is the perfect travel piece. WANT

Thirteen :: A designer beanie is a fun piece to elevate your entire winter wardrobe

Fourteen :: Hiking boots are cute and functional in the snow

Fifteen :: These fun little gloves are on sale for $11

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Valentines Gifts For The Kids

Valentine’s Day around our house is typically a family affair where we do a gift exchange for everyone in the family and share a fun dinner together. We typically keep gifts minimal, but I do like gifting my boys each a small basket filled with things like bath bombs, small toys/games, books, and candies. Today I wanted to share a few fun ideas for Valentine’s gifts for the littles!

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One :: For the kiddo that’s too cool for something sappy

Two :: I’m pretty sure every kid loves slime and this glitter kit looks really fun

Three :: Every girl I know loves making bracelets

Four :: This non-toxic nail polish set is perfect for little piggies

Five :: I love this sweet little hooded towel

Six :: Evan got this watch for Christmas and he loves it

Seven :: A special way to tell your kiddo all the ways you love them

Eight :: Dylan’s candy bar has the cutest candy for special occasions

Nine :: This organic cotton onesie is perfect for your littlest valentine

Ten :: This smart phone controlled paper airplane kit is a super fun way to deliver a valentine

Eleven :: A mommy and me set of trendy heart shaped sunglasses would be so fun

Twelve :: Perfect chocolate treat for the gamer

Thirteen :: My boys are getting whoopie cushions in their valentines baskets, which I know they will get a kick out of

Fourteen :: My kiddos love kinetic sand, and this is a really cute set

Fifteen :: When I picked Evan up from preschool the other day his teacher was reading this to the class, and Ev was loving it so much he kept scooting closer and closer. Such a cute book!

Sixteen :: This rose scented thinking putty is great for helping kids relax and focus

Seventeen :: The heart shaped pocket is a sweet touch on this tee

Eighteen :: Perfect for the crafty kid

Nineteen :: Every lego lover needs this in their collection

Twenty :: Literally the sweetest little shoes

Twenty One :: Channel his inner cupid with this fun bow and arrow set

Twenty Two :: Your little one can love on their very own rescue pet

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How I Lost 20 Pounds (And Kept It Off)

For the 5th and final week of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about something that is always a pretty hot topic at the start of any year; and that is weight loss. And today I’m going to share how I lost 20 lbs of baby weight I was struggling to lose for several years – that I finally lost last year (and have kept off!).

When I had my first son almost 9 years ago, I admit I was really concerned about how my body would change and if I would be able to lose the baby weight. To my surprise, the weight really just melted off. And then some! I ended up being about 5-10lbs below my pre-pregnancy weight simply by running and nursing. It really was so easy I expected it to be the same with my 2nd. However, after having my youngest, I struggled with getting rid of the last of the baby weight. I would fluctuate about 10-20lbs above my pre-baby weight. Blame it on being older perhaps, but for the first time in my life I really felt I didn’t have control over my weight and wasn’t exactly sure how to get back on track.

I did keto for a period of time. I was able to lose 10lbs, but then I plateaued. I found myself obsessing over macros & the number of carbs I was eating in a day…and yet the scale wasn’t budging. I finally got burned out & I ended up going off keto. I did keep most of the weight I had lost off until last winter. We had a pretty cold & yucky winter last year & I just was feeling a bit of seasonal affective disorder. As a result, I wasn’t running & definitely splurged on treats over the holidays. I ended up gaining almost 10lbs back, and was determined to finally take control of my weight & be down to my pre-pregnancy weight for summer.

When we were living in California, a friend of mine had been struggling with losing her baby weight & started the Dukan Diet. (The diet was really popular at the time because supposedly Kate Middleton had done it for her wedding). My friend’s results were jaw dropping. She lost SO much weight and looked like a completely different person. I remembered her success with the diet and bought the book and cookbook – and I started right before Easter last year.

Within 3 1/2 months of being on Dukan, not only did I reach my weight loss goal of 20 lbs, I actually exceeded it and ultimately dropped 25 lbs and am back to my pre-pregnancy weight. And not only have I lost the weight, I have kept it off even through the holidays and having periods where I’ve definitely indulged (I just make sure to get back on track! This diet has been amazing for me, and today I wanted to share this secret to my weight loss success.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan diet was started by a French physician (Dr Dukan!) who wanted to come up with a plan to help his patients who were struggling to lose weight. This diet has four phases, with the first two being very strict. But once you obtain your goal weight (or “true weight”) you are able to slowly incorporate other foods back into your diet, and eventually go back to eating whatever you choose, but must follow a few simple rules for the rest of your life. This diet centers around lean protein and limits fats and carbohydrates. Because protein is so filling, you are able to consume small amounts of calories and feel incredibly full. (Although there is NO required calorie counting or limit to how much you can eat!) Protein is also harder to break down so your body burns more calories as well simply by digesting.

The length of time for each of the phases of the diet are individual to each person and how much they want to lose. You can go on their website and fill out a profile where they will tell you how long to do each phase for. They will also help you figure out what your “true weight” is – which I think is important so that you aren’t setting unrealistic and unhealthy weight loss goals for yourself.

Phase 1: Attack

This is the strictest, but also shortest phase of the diet. This can be anywhere from 1-7 days depending on how much weight you have to lose. I believe mine was originally recommended to be 3 days, but I actually ended up doing 5 simply because I wasn’t finding it to be too difficult. The attack phase is “pure protein” and you will eat nothing but lean protein from a list of approved foods during this time. However there is no restriction on how much you can eat. You are also required to eat oat bran daily for fiber and continue to do so through all stages of the diet.

Phase 2: Cruise

In this phase you can incorporate almost all vegetables back into your diet (with the exception of starchy, high carb things like corn, beans, potatoes, etc). However it is recommended for maximum weight loss to only eat vegetables every other day, or on a 5:2 plan (vegetables + protein 5 days a week, and 2 days of pure protein). This is entirely up to you to choose depending on what works for you and your weight loss goals. For the first few months I did 1:1 to really lose as much as possible. After the first few months I followed more of a 5:2 schedule. You are also allowed nonfat/low-fat dairy including milk, yogurt, and cheeses.

Phase 3: Consolidation

In this phase you are getting your body acclimated to accepting your true weight and are focused on maintaining. The length of this phase should be 5 days for every pound lost. (For me this was 125 days – a little over 4 months). You are allowed protein and vegetables every day (except 1 day a week should be a designated pure protein day), as well as 1 serving of fruit, 2 pieces of bread, and 1 serving of full fat cheese a day. You are also allowed 1 carb meal a week (e.g. pasta, beans, potatoes) and 1 cheat meal a week for the first half of this phase, and you can increase to 2 carb meals and 2 cheat meals a week in the 2nd half.

Phase 4: Stabilization

Now that you have reset to your new true weight – you are allowed to eat as you like! But you must continue to have one pure protein meal a week, oat bran daily, and get 20 minutes of exercise a day. (Dr Dukan recommends that you take the stairs instead of the elevator). Now…that said…I personally don’t think one can truly just go back to eating whatever and expect to maintain their weight. I think you must continue to practice portion control/moderation, and still choose to continue to eat healthy most of the time focusing on lean protein, veggies, and fruits. I typically stick with primarily lean protein and veggie options during the week, and will have healthy carbs on days I’m doing longer runs. I allow myself whatever I want on weekends and special occasions (in moderation!).

My Keys To Success:

I think the key to my success with the diet comes down to a few things. One – I really like the foods and like eating this way, so it doesn’t feel difficult to me. Although this way of eating has been great for me, I don’t believe in “one size fits all.” I think it is so important to find a plan that you are willing to commit to that works for your lifestyle. There are so many diets out there, and it will be very hard to be successful if you don’t feel that a particular diet is a good fit for you. If you are liking the foods you are eating – it certainly makes it a whole lot easier to stick to the plan! Also, I am someone who can definitely get “hangry” and really dislike feeling hungry and deprived – and this diet is so incredibly filling.

Although not required, I did choose to count my calories and track my foods for the first 3-4 months of the diet, simply so I could get a better handle on portion sizes and what my calorie intake needed to be to lose and maintain. This also helped me continue to be successful as I phased out of each phase of the diet. I have read many times, that people who track their intake, are typically much more successful in losing weight. I very much believe this to be true, as it helped keep me on track and accountable when I had to write everything down. I used the My Fitness Pal app to track and I also use a food scale to measure portions.

Incorporating intermittent fasting has also helped me tremendously. I have always been someone who hates eating in the morning & after hearing for years that it’s bad for you…I’m feeling a little validation that intermittent fasting is now being seen as a good thing! I don’t believe in forcing yourself to eat just because it’s “meal time” and prefer to just eat when I’m hungry. Most days I don’t want to eat until anywhere between 11am and 1pm. I also typically quit eating by 7pm so I shoot for around 16 hours of fasting. On the rare occasion I’m hungry, I don’t force myself to stick to this schedule, but most days I find this really easy to do.

Remember stalls or even slight weight gain is normal. Through the first few months of the diet, I had periods where my weight loss would stop for a week or more, or even go up a few pounds! In the very beginning it is easy to want to weigh daily and obsess over the scale. I really pushed myself to not get frustrated when this would happen, and stopped weighing even weekly. I now only weigh every 2 -3 weeks or so – as this gives a more accurate picture of what is really going on, rather than day to day fluctuations.

I continued to exercise but cut back during the strictest part of the diet. I completely stopped doing longer 7+ mile runs once I started the diet, and just did slow leisurely 3-4 mile runs 3-4 days a week (in addition to biking with the kids and other light activities). I switched my focus more to eating healthier and not looking at exercise as a way to burn calories – but as a way to further my health and overall well being. 

What I found most challenging:

There were a few things I have found challenging about the diet in the early phases. The biggest was dealing with going out to eat. Most restaurants do not offer low carb and low fat options, so eating out can be hard to stick with the diet. Your best bet is a breakfast place with a veggie omelette – or somewhere that has a salad with fish or grilled chicken, and a light dressing on the side. In a pinch I requested lettuce wrapped burgers or sandwiches as well – and most places will accommodate you. And when you end up someplace that nothing seems diet friendly…just do the best you can and get the healthiest option possible. Even if it’s not an ideal Dukan meal – one meal isn’t going to derail your progress!

Another thing to note – this diet requires a lot of planning and cooking. I do think this diet would be a challenge for someone who doesn’t like to cook as most restaurant food just will not be Dukan friendly. I don’t like eating the same things over and over, so I do like to experiment with new recipes periodically to ensure I don’t get bored. I also like to make sure I have Dukan friendly snacks on hand for when I get hungry, so I don’t reach for junk when I’m starving and haven’t properly planned.

Here’s a few helpful tools that helped me get started with Dukan!

DukanOne | Two | Three | Four |  Five | Six

If you would like more information, be sure to check out the Dukan website linked here.

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Evan’s Minecraft 5th Birthday Party

This past week (January 20, 2020 to be exact!) my sweet little Evan turned five. FIVE. I still can’t really believe it. He still feels like my little baby and part of me really can’t handle it. But it is so fun seeing the little person he is becoming and I love his big personality and his very strong opinions. And this very strong willed kiddo really wanted a Minecraft themed birthday to celebrate this year…and what the birthday boy wants the birthday boy gets!

We had his birthday party at a local trampoline park and celebrated with a few of his favorite friends from school, along with some family friends. It was such a special day and so much fun was had by all. The kids especially loved the Minecraft themed candy bar, and they each got to fill up a little bag to take home with them as well.

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Party Supply Sources

Lunch Plates

Dessert Plates

Lunch Napkins

Beverage Napkins

Minecraft Birthday Banner

Minecraft Birthday Backdrop

Minecraft Party Favors and Axe Glow Wand

Party Bags (I drew the creeper image on with a sharpie!)

Cake Topper

Party Hats (similar)

Galvanized Tray

Candy Bar: Iron, Diamonds, Coal, Gold, Watermelon, Fish

Food Labels via Printabelle

Cake by Albertsons Bakery

This little guy is so many things…sweet and sassy, feisty and funny, imaginative, creative, and sensitive. Everything he does is BIG – yes he has a big temper, but the he also loves with such intensity and it completely melts me. He really is just something special and having him in our lives is such a blessing. Love you my little man!

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