Friday, March 3, 2017

North Augusta Rocks!

North Augusta, SC

municipal buildingOn the banks of the Savannah River near the Georgia state line you can find the beautiful town of North Augusta, South Carolina! North Augusta is a medium-sized city, but still a small town, rich with history and nostalgia over what might have been. It’s residents are a nice mix of proud Southern belles and gents, military transplants, medical students, hospital employees, and more. This is my town. Here you can find grand bed and breakfasts in 100 year old homes and charming locally owned small businesses like bakeries, boutiques, and brunch spots! North Augusta is not just “Mayberry,” though, it is also a city buzzing with the excitement and controversy over commercial growth and expansion.

Right now in North Augusta there is something else that is growing in addition to real estate opportunities.  Whether you are ambling about Georgia Avenue or running errands across town you may find your eyes being drawn to colorful bits of happiness in the form of painted rocks. North Augusta Rocks is a social movement that is rapidly gaining a large following in this sweet town. The idea is certainly not exclusive to our neck of the woods, painted rock communities can be found in a lot of cities around the globe including our neighbor, Augusta. I can't help thinking, however, that for North Augusta it seems to be the perfect expression of the eccentricity that is our town. Loving, encouraging, creative, and fun, if you find yourself happening up one of the hundreds of hidden rocks around town it is sure to put a smile on your face!

North Augusta Rocks has a Facebook group in which it’s 800+ members post photos of rocks that they have found or painted and hidden. You can also find picture “hints” of where rocks may be discovered so that you can keep your eyes peeled as you explore outdoors, or support one of our many local businesses. I found myself jittery with excitement yesterday as I purchased some river rock for my daughters and I to paint our first set of rocks! When I picked my five year old up from school I had her compile a list of her favorite places in town so we could decide where we wanted to hide our masterpieces.
rock painting

Curious about the origins of this movement I reached out to one of the administrators of the NAR Facebook page, MaryAnn Meyers, who graciously allowed me to bombard her with questions about this fun activity. MaryAnn admits that she can’t remember where she first got the idea of rock painting, positive it was something she probably saw in another town somewhere. She immediately recognized the beauty of the idea, though, especially the opportunity it gives families to do something creative and then get outside and enjoy the outdoors together! “I hope people will spend more time with their families outdoors, having fun talking or even indoors painting” MaryAnn said. It’s safe to say that anyone can see the positive impact such a simple pastime could potentially have on our community. “Basically more people making connections. If you feel lonely, go rock hunting. Or paint a rock and see the posted picture and smile on the person’s face who found it.” She adds.

I myself joined the Facebook group a few months ago when it popped up on my “news feed” due to a friend becoming a member. Since then the number of posts, just like it’s membership has increased tenfold, and I find myself anxiously waiting to see more pictures of our youngest citizens displaying their artwork and treasure hunt spoils. In an ironic twist MaryAnn says that she has yet to find a rock herself, but that her nieces and nephews are rock finding pros! Her favorite rock that she has painted thus far simply read “Joy”.

I can’t imagine a more fun thing for North Augustinians to do to build community togetherness and make our town even more cheerful than I already find it to be. I am looking forward to hiding the 7 rocks that my girls and I painted yesterday. Thanks to the Facebook group, North Augusta Rocks is even fostering neighborly relationships and new friendships! “We’ve had people hiding rocks that have started friendships with people out rock hunting!” MaryAnn told me.  One thing is for sure, this puts geocaching to shame!

North Augusta, SC

If you’re a local I strongly encourage you to join us, and get to painting! If you’re not fortunate enough to live in North Augusta, then start a movement in your own town. Spread some happiness, because frankly, it rocks!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tender Mercies

       I believe that the Lord has a plan for us. His plan is that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we will be able to live with Him again some day. I don't believe that he navigates every single step of our lives, however. We have our agency and the ability to make decisions that bring us closer or further away from His plan. What has become very clear to me lately, though, is just how present He is when we need Him most. In my church we often talk about the tender mercies of the Lord. In the scriptures you can read a lot about "tender mercies" in the book of Psalms. (Psalms 51:1, Psalms 119:77, Psalms 25:6, Psalms 145:9) I have been so thoroughly blessed recently by the tender mercies of the Lord.

We are taught that our trials and afflictions can strengthen our faith and help us to become more like our Savior, but this is truly a hard pill to swallow when in the midst of something that feels unending or is unlike anything we've ever experienced before. Hope is something that is difficult to keep and even harder to regain once lost. If you have been reading my blog this year then you are aware of the health struggles I have been dealing with for the past 14 months. For a really long time I was able to navigate this hardship with reason, and though it had an affect on my mental state, I was able to keep my head above water; hopeful that one day I would begin to get better. I've been super fortunate, really, all throughout my life that even though I have suffered from anxiety and depression I have always been of sound mind able to recognize that I do have control over my life and separate what I know are feelings produced by these conditions from what I can see are blessings all around me. Until recently, even though my health situation wasn't ideal, I had been able to stay moderately positive and have hope. About a month ago, however, I had a flare up of my condition which causes me to have rashes, blisters, and sores all over my body. This time my face was affected, while previously it had stayed fairly clear. Let me be clear that I know that looks do not define a person, and I know that I should not care what I look like- but y'all, this was and is bad. My vanity has taken a huge hit, and I only have so much humility. I was miserable. I physically felt horrible, my body itched, my face was sore and throbbed from peeling, raw blisters. I didn't want to get out of bed, I didn't want to teach my morning class, or deal with clients, or see anyone. Truth be told, I didn't even want to have to take care of my kids. My mental condition had very quickly escalated to one of the darkest places I'd ever been. In what was one of the most uncomfortable and raw conversations I've ever had to have with my husband I told him how I was feeling and I was able to get to my doctor the next day. This post isn't intended to be about me, or about mental illness, I have done those posts before. I'm feeling a lot better and I'm being taken care of. The reason I'm giving you this back story is so that you can fully understand how grateful I am feeling today, at this moment.

Last night I was texting with a dear friend to check in with her. We don't live close to each other any more and she has been enduring some hardships of her own recently. It had been way too long since I had really checked to see how she was doing. I listened to her as she explained to me what she was going through and how sad she felt. I let her explain how alone she felt in her sadness. I was able to give her some encouragement and consolation. Then she let me fill her in on my current struggles and concerns. She comforted me with a special insight that only she could provide. Toward the end of our conversation she mentioned that having to see others currently without any obstacles in their life left her feeling a jealous, and that she didn't like feeling that way because it wasn't Christlike. At that moment I felt encompassed by the spirit of the Lord's tender mercies as I had a realization and shared it with her. "True, but you're not Jesus Christ, you're only human." I told her "I'm so grateful to know that we don't have to feel alone in that guilt, because Jesus Christ has felt the exact pain and loss and grief and even jealousy that we feel. We will absolutely and unequivocally never be alone in those feelings." It was such a beautiful thought to end the conversation on, one that I didn't think I needed to remind myself of, but one that provided me with an immense amount of comfort, nonetheless. Because of the Atonement, we will never be alone in our grief and pain.

This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to teach my early morning high school bible study. I glanced over the lesson for the day once more before my students arrived. Reading over instruction on 2 Corinthians chapter 1 I read "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." How beholden I am to my Father in heaven that throws me these exquisitely beautiful lifelines when I am in deep water. I appreciate the gravity of the responsibility I have to share that love with others enduring their own adversity and misery.

So this is where I am right now, full of love and unending gratitude for my Father in Heaven and my savior Jesus Christ. I'm hoping that if you are in a place of suffering you will be able to feel those tender mercies, too. They're absolutely priceless.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Oh no he didn't?!?!

I've mentioned before that every weekday morning I teach a bible study to high school students. This morning our lesson ended with a discussion about how we treat people who are different than we are. I've been thinking about that a great deal today and I'm going to share some of my thoughts.

Right now in the world, especially in our country, there has been an outbreak of chaos, confusion, and conflict. People choose a side at every opportunity and it appears that unity is a thing of the past. Every event, every little thing that any person-anywhere does causes a ripple in the puddle that is their immediate circle. This ripple leads to someone deciding that they don't like whatever it is that whoever it was did. The person who doesn't like the thing then feels compelled to tell the world, via social media (of course), that they don't like the thing the person did and why they don't like it. Once it's out there floating around in the precarious space that is the internet it's a thought that is fair game for all of the persons in all of the lands to share, retweet, and fall in love or hate with then causing all of the persons to post and tweet their own thoughts on whatever it was that happened. Soon the ripple is a wave and then before long it's a freaking tsunami. People are screaming and running, and wailing, and drowning, and dying (metaphorically, of course). What I'm trying to say is that one thing that one person has done creates a social effect likened unto a natural disaster.

One of the reasons we all feel so strongly about everything these days is that we're scared. If you ask me, being scared is totally normal and acceptable. Who isn't scared of the unknown or unfamiliar? Sure it could be great, but it could also be horrible, so there's that. When we're faced with ideas and ideals that we don't understand it's human nature for us to put our guards up and go on the offensive. If we're not sure that its safe, we will like it, or if it will benefit us, then we feel the need to fight to get rid of, undo, and destroy it.

At any given time you can find literally millions of people upset and screaming about something. Your gender, race, religion, political affiliation, whether you think the dress is black and blue or white and brown- at any given time you're sure to be pissing someone (or multiple someones) off. Me? I'm a white, female, slightly conservative, stay at home mom, trash tv lover, member of #teamjess, that thought the dress was black and blue. (A thousand people have just decided that I'm the devil for one or more of those things.) What are we to do? How do we stop the madness? How do we make the lambs stop screaming?!?! How do we hold true to our beliefs, whatever they may be, and defend the life we want to live without adding to the noise?

So, back to this morning and the discussion during my class. Here is what we came up with. I can't control what you say. I can't control what you do. I definitely can't control what you believe. I can only control my own actions, more specifically, the way I treat everyone else. One of the most powerful things that I have control over is the way I treat those who are different than I am. How I choose to treat my fellow men and women is my contribution to the condition of life around me. If we can make the choice to stop yelling about why we don't agree with something, why it scares us, or why it's wrong and just be kind to each other it would help turn the volume down on the screaming lambs. It's not a widely accepted notion, but I think it's possible to defend your beliefs without being a total dick about it and hurting someone else in the process. I understand that there are some things that need to be yelled out loud- ideas and ideals to fight for, but I think this can be done in a way that isn't nasty and full of disdain toward your fellow man.

As a Christian I am commanded to love not just my brother, but also my enemy. As a decent human being I'm responsible for being kind to someone even when I disagree with them. Jesus said "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." If we could all make a better effort to see each other as a humans all equal in value and importance, then the world will be a better place. Whether you're democrat or republican, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, I believe that you are a child of a God who loves you and wants me to love you, too. I have not always been able to treat someone I didn't particularly like with kindness, or even tolerance. I have been part of the noise. I have been part of the problem. For a very long time, though, I've made a concerted effort to be a better person. I want to be a good example for my children, as well as anyone I might meet. I can find it in my heart to be nice to just about anyone if I try really hard, even #teamDean people and Yankees. Take it from this former mean girl, there are so many blessings that come from treating people the way you want to be treated, and for shouting love rather than hate. Maybe I'm wrong, if I am then I'm sure you will post about it on facebook, but I'll love you anyway. This is just my two cents. xoxo- Layne

Monday, January 23, 2017

Who Am I?

If you read this blog you may already be family or a friend, or you may be one of the amazing people who have started to follow my social media accounts due to my Health and Fitness business. I've been so blessed in that my Health and Fitness lifestyle facebook page has been shared a great deal recently with people all over the world. Because of this growth, and because I hope that it will continue to spread- I thought I'd introduce myself and tell y'all more about who I am! 

I couldn't decide if I wanted to format this post as an essay, like an online dating profile (I enjoy long walks on the beach, etc), or as a Q&A session- so you're going to get a nice mix of it all! Here goes!

Name: Layne
Age: 30
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Currently reside: in a small town in South Carolina near the GA border.

First and of foremost importance in my life is that I am a Christian. My relationship with the Lord is the most important thing to me, I know that it's strength trickles down into the other important relationships in my life, especially those of wife and mother. As I just mentioned, I am a wife, specifically a good wife trying to be a great wife to an amazing man. We have 2 young daughters who are the best things we've ever done.

I have very close relationships with my family- my parents, 2 brothers, grandparents, uncle, and aunt. My family is crazy as hell. We are all vastly different from each other, but one thing we all have in common is that we love each other fiercely and will always be there for each other. My brothers are my best friends, they always spoil me, protected me, and  have been there for me through difficult and wonderful times. I'm also very close with my husband's family who are equally wonderful, and who,  from the first time I met them made me feel like I belonged with them.

Silly things about me...
Favorite color: Kelley green
Favorite movies: Tombstone, Gone with the Wind, Pulp Fiction, and Pride and Prejudice

Favorite music: I love all music except for heavy metal, and not super into EDM. Billy Joel's 52nd Street is one of my favorite albums.
Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice
Favorite TV shows: Too Many!! New Girl, How to Get Away with Murder, Sherlock, PLL,Grey's
Favorite TV shows no longer on the air: Friday Night Lights, The OC, Gossip Girl, the West Wing, White Collar, Downton Abbey
Celebs I fangirl over: Benedict Cumberbatch, Joseph Morgan

Hidden Talents: ambidextrous
Guilty pleasures: trashy TV (the Royals), rap music, eating in the bath and shower

Why am I passionate about health and fitness?

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother gain and lose weight in vicious cycles. I also watched them get more and more sick. Starting from a young age I dealt with body image issues, and I still battle them today. I feel fortunate, though, to not have ever developed an eating disorder. I have different family members affected by Autoimmune disease and a history of awful allergies and weird medical conditions. My dad has been a runner, actually a marathoner, my entire life. He set a great example for me of being active. One of my biggest motivations for staying healthy and fit, however, is my mental health. I've blogged previously about my battle with anxiety and depression and how amazing exercise is as a natural treatment for those issues.

Favorite exercise: Zumba and yoga

Least favorite exercise: burpees and running (though I still do both)
Favorite fitness series: I loved the Piyo program from Beach Body
Favorite healthy snack: I can't eat them anymore because of my allergies but Luna's Chocolate dipped coconut bars are amazing! I also love carrots with light ranch dressing!
Favorite cheat foods: gummy bears and cupcakes
Favorite music to exercise to: Anything with Pitbull for cardio! Spotify has a great cardio hip hop station, but be aware that some songs aren't edited. When I practice yoga at home I listen to the Beach yoga girl playlist on Spotify.


What have I done today? Taught an early morning religion class. Went to the doctor and got injections in my scalp. Trained a client. Sold a bunch of children's clothes online. Got my girls from school!

What have I eaten today? A bowl of leftover sausage and veggie pasta

What am I doing later? A nap hopefully. I only slept 2 hours last night!

Last person I talked to? My 2 year old when I rocked her and put her down for her nap.

Favorite thing to wear right now? These super soft jammies I got from Costco, either that or my electric blue Lularoe leggings. 

So that's some about me. If you ever have any questions for me, shoot them my way! In the meantime, have a great week! xo-Layne

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


      Every day we're faced with a list of tasks we need to complete, boxes we need to check, and roles we need to fill. We have our jobs, our families- spouses and kids, social commitments, school, church- just to name a few. Most of us at some time or another have faced the challenge of having to prioritize which tasks and obligations are the most important. Is my family more important than performing well at my job? Is my job more important than my commitments to church? Is school more important than making time for my friends? Is spending time with my spouse more important than time with my kids? Each of our lists are going to be different, even if they contain some of the same things. I have different priorities than you, and that is totally normal.

For me, the roles of wife, mother, and disciple of Christ are the three that I find are the most demanding. They're also at the top of my list for what is important. I have a testimony that no matter what else is going on in our lives the Lord should be our #1 priority. You may not be a Christian, perhaps you're of a different faith, or are spiritual in other ways- but you would probably agree that however you center the direction of your life is hugely important. Now as a wife and mother where these two rank generally changes based on the circumstances at the time, for example my husband doesn't need my attention as much as my kids do when they are sick. As a general rule, though, my hubby and I prioritize our relationship over our roles as parents because the better our relationship is, the better parents we are, and the happier the environment is in our home. I  know many parents who place their children first at all times, and I think that is wonderful if that is what works for them. I reserve no judgement for people who do it differently than I do. 

The longer the list of things we have to do and things we have to be becomes, the harder it is to juggle all of those responsibilities. I often find myself feeling guilty like I am letting my kids, or husband, or clients, etc down. Most of the time the biggest guilt I feel is Mommy-guilt. Now, if you're not a parent forgive me for taking this tangent, but I promise I'll bring it back around to the point I have to make that applies to everyone. Mommy-guilt is awful as a stand alone issue, but paired with my anxiety, it's a real bummer. I can't tell you how many minutes in a day I spend thinking "Maybe they wouldn't have done fill the the blank with any number of annoying or disrespectful things if I was spending more time with them," or "Is this phase she's going through because I'm not noticing something bigger?" My favorites, though, are "I bet Moms A, B, and C don't fuss at their kids like this." and "She is able to cook all 3 meals a day, volunteer at the elementary school, keep a spotless house, and be completely dressed and made up each day- what am I doing wrong?" 

Mom-guilt also comes into play when I'm racing off to teach a Zumba class or giving them activities to do so that I can work out at our house. My oldest always wants to exercise with me, and a lot of days I'm able to let her, but other days I find myself telling her I need space to do my own thing. It is absolutely crushing to see her face when I tell her she can't do something with me. However, I will do it when I need to. 

The thing about priorities is that no one can do everything. Even those men and women who seem like they've got it all together, will tell you that they don't. So what do we do in order to properly get our crap together? It's something I preach about a lot, but the only way to really be able to check all of those boxes and fill all of those roles to the best of our ability is to prioritize ourselves above everything else. I am not saying we need to have a "look out for #1" mentality or that what we want should take place over everything else- I am saying that what we need should be addressed before we make any other decisions or take care of anything else. 

If we are neglecting to take care of ourselves what good are we to everyone else that depends on us? I am no good to my husband, or kids if I am sleep deprived, stressed to the max, and unhealthy. I can't give them what they need from me if I'm mentally, emotionally, or physically on the verge of breakdown. The people and things in your life that depend on you, need you to be at your best. So, what does this mean? How do we apply this to our lives? For me what I have to prioritize is my relationship with the Lord and Jesus Christ, my physical health through exercise, and being open with my husband about how I'm feeling at all times. Making those things my top priorities allows me to, in affect, give so much more and be at such a higher level of presence for all of the other things life demands of me. How should you apply this to your life? Honestly, that is going to be different for each person, but here are a few suggestions.

-Take a nap or go to bed early if you are tired- your brain and body will not work their best when you are exhausted, and tired people are more prone to being ill-tempered
-Have an activity that is unapologetically just for you- this could be exercise classes, a mani/pedi, one hour of daily quiet time with a book, I could go on and on.
-Eat better. For goodness sake you are not going to be able to do anything if you are sick, or unhealthy, or dead. So eat better, please.
-Pray or meditate, or both. Quiet reflection will do wonders for getting your mind and heart right and finding energy to accomplish all that needs to be done. Being centered and find a purpose will help you to move forward while paying less attention to the things that may typically distract or wear at you.
-Say "No." You don't have to help everyone that asks- sometimes you just need to say "no"- running yourself ragged will only make you bitter and take the joy out of serving others. You're not a bad person if sometimes you say no.
-Make lists. When you are truly conflicted over what should take precedence, then write out down and make a list. Then edit it, and re-write it if necessary. You can do this! I know it! xo- Layne


An amazing woman that I've known almost 20 years (16 to be exact, but who's counting) has recently started Vlogging about her life and experiences as a mother, wife, and Christian. These are her roles, but not her only roles- she is a working mom. She just recorded her thoughts on Mom-guilt from the perspective of a Christian woman and disciple of Christ. I knew I had to share this with all of you, as she is so enlightened and so relatable. I hope you'll take a look at what she has to say, and if you have interests in parenting, serving the Lord, or a vegan lifestyle (her family is 2 weeks into this change) then I strongly encourage you to follow her youtube channel. Whether you are a believer or not, she is such a delight to watch, her passion is contagious. Here is her video on Mom Guilt for you to enjoy!

To follow Mama Wolff on youtube her channel is HERE.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How do we love ourselves? My thoughts on body shaming and the body positive movements.

As I have begun a new business venture of Personal Fitness and Nutrition coaching I find myself swimming in a sea of work out plans, new circuits, muscle group info, and healthy recipes. It's great, and I can't complain! Recently I acquired a new client that is looking to build muscle mass, while staying relatively trim but powerful. He says he wants to look like a Calvin Klein model.

This is totally something I'm used to. I mean, don't we all have images in our mind of what we want to look like? I certainly do. As long as these goals are realistic and healthy I think it's great to have a mental (or physical) image of something to work toward. My new client is naturally thin and tall, and might I add quite handsome- so while I can't get him a modeling contract- I can help with his goals of eating and exercising in a way that will build muscles without too much bulk. His goal of looking like a CK ad is doable, but only because he is naturally predisposed to this body type. 

my current motivating image- look at her awesome muscles!!

For most women, myself included, wanting to look like a Victoria Secret model would not be realistic goal. It takes a very specific body type to be that skinny and still be healthy, and I'm in business of helping people to be healthy. Sure, often times I am helping people lose weight, but I am careful to try and educate and instill healthy eating and exercise practice when I am dealing with clients, and even family and friends. 

I take a pretty polarizing position when it comes to positive body image issues. I am a HUGE proponent of loving yourself and seeing the beauty of who you are on the inside and outside. I think our bodies are gifts from God, and that we are all meant to look different and be shaped differently from one another. I also think that we shouldn't look to magazines, billboards, and media to show us what our bodies are supposed to look like because it will foster in us unrealistic expectations and a sense of defeat. Men and women who surround themselves with images of models, actors, and even some fitness instructors run the risk of seriously damaging their mental and physical health. When we are not in the right place mentally, specifically when we are unable to find satisfaction with who we are and the body that has been given to us it puts us in a dangerous position. It is a fast and slippery slope from dieting and exercising to eating disorders. 

That being said (and here is the part where I piss some people off) being overweight leads to obesity and obese people, (just like people who suffer from eating disorders on the opposite end of the spectrum) are not healthy. I think there needs to be a clearer and more defined version of the "love yourself just as you are" and "you are beautiful no matter what" and "you don't need to change" agenda. All of those statements are true, and I believe all of them. I think a 300 lb person can be just as beautiful as a 90 lb person and everywhere in between, I think true beauty and worth lies within and that just by existing we are all "worth it". I don't ever think we need to change to please someone else or to try and fit a mold. However, that doesn't mean that if you are obese that you don't need to change. That doesn't mean if you are anorexic that you don't need to change. You do. You need to change your game plan. You need to change your nutrition and diet habits, you need to change your exercise habits. You may need to change medications, or change doctors, regardless- there needs to be a change. To me, part of loving yourself means wanting to live the highest quality of life possible for the longest amount of time. 

Being overweight, especially qualifying as obese affects diminishes every aspect of a persons health. All body systems function at less than ideal levels when under the stress of too much weight. Individuals who are obese are at increased risk for a multitude of life threatening illness and diseases, including but not limited to: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, mental illness, and infertility. Being dangerously underweight puts you at risk for osteoporosis, cardiac arrest, insomnia, infertility, mental illness, kidney damage, and liver damage to name a few. 

In 2014 a woman named Carolyn Hall wrote an article about the doubts she had regarding the Fat Acceptance Movement, and she has a lot of valid points. She also made so many people angry she wrote a follow-up article, which is also super interesting. We share a lot of the same thoughts on the subject, but I think there is a healthy (no pun intended) medium. So where is the middle ground? I don't see why we can't put an end to body shaming and profess individual worth while still acknowledging that in some situations change is necessary. While a person who is obese may need to make changes and lose weight in order to be healthier, or a person who is underweight may need to gain weight to be healthier- NO ONE has the right to belittle that individual or make them feel like they are not absolutely beautiful. Whether you are underweight, average, or obese- black, white, or purple- if anyone tells you that you matter less than someone else, that you couldn't possibly be happy as you are, or that you're not beautiful- I'm here to tell you that they are WRONG. Anyone who intentionally makes you feel that way is not beautiful on the inside and needs to do some changing themselves. 

You may not be a religious person, but I believe that we were all created by a loving Heavenly Father and as such He loves each of us more immensely that we could ever comprehend, and He loves each of us exactly the same. Currently I am working on a body image and self-love project for women. If you are interested in being a part of that please reach out to me, as I would love all of the participation I can get! In the meantime here are some links to information on current Body Positive movements. xoxo- Layne

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'm just crazy about exercise...for my crazy.

Some personal info about me. I was first diagnosed with mental health issues at age 16. At that time the official diagnosis was PMDD- which in itself is not a mental illness, rather deals with hormone changes that then can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and a lot of other symptoms. I was dating my high school sweetheart at the time and noticed that I was lashing out a lot, mostly at him and my parents. I could recognize after the fact that it was irrational and out of character and my mom told me to let me Gynecologist know when I went for my annual exam. I'm grateful to have had the relationship I have with my mother and father that we were very open in my family about these types of things. My doctor talked to me about my symptoms and put me on Prozac at age 16. I hated the way it made me felt, and ultimately quick taking it.
   Fast forward to college and I was severely depressed. My depression was amplified and caused by, to some extent, poor life choices I was making at the time. At 18 I was diagnosed with depression and medicated, but it wasn't until I turned 21 and quit drinking and partying that I feel like I really gave my medication the opportunity to help me. At 21 I made a lot of positive life changes, the biggest of these was becoming very religious. There was about 2 years after this that I was able to be completely unmedicated- I was taking care of myself and surrounding myself with positive people and activities, being very fit and I just didn't need it. All of those good choices, however, ultimately would not keep my depression at bay forever and not long after I got married I began taking Citalopram, and it helped me significantly. I continued to live a healthy lifestyle which I know aided the medicine in keeping my depression under control. Now, this doesn't mean that I didn't have break downs- I absolutely did. Every now and then I would lose control and fall into a puddle of tears. Sad from the depression, angry that absolutely nothing external was causing me to feel this way, full of dispair that I would always have to battle with it, and guilt that my husband was forced to deal with it. If you have never suffered from depression-it is an absolutely awful thing, let me just tell you. It is a vicious cycle of feeling so down and blue that you don't want to move or function, then feeling crazy that you feel that way because you can step outside of your body and recognize that no one is causing you to be this way that you just are, and then more sadness because there is nothing you can do about it, oh and pesky guilt that other people are subject to being affected by you. So, yeah. It sucks.
   After I had my first child at age 25 I was diagnosed with anxiety.Which seems about right, haha. Nothing like having kids to give you anxiety. Truth be told, my kids never triggered my anxiety as babies. For me, most of my anxiety is triggered in social settings. Too many kids running around, too many people speaking at once, chaos or lack of order during functions- all of these things send me reeling- heart pounding, brain on overdrive, unable to process any one thought, complete sensory overload to the point of immobilization. Now if my kids are extra wild, if tvs are going and kiddos are yelling and the dishwasher is running all at once, I can't handle it. Yep, anxiety sucks as much as depression. My doctors prescribed me Zoloft for my anxiety and it allows me to manage my attacks better, I'm lucky that I can recognize my triggers and try and stay out of situations that would cause me to feel anxious. 
     Starting when I turned 18 every time I would visit my doctor and my mental health was discussed I was always asked the same question: are you exercising? This wasn't just one doctor, this has been every doctor I've ever had. Any time my depression or anxiety is mentioned I am always asked about my activity level. So, what is the correlation? 
   When you exercise your brain releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that help to ease anxiety and depression. The same chemicals that are released after sex, or eating something delicious, or laugh- are put to work when you exercise! Exercising also reduces certain chemicals in your immune system that can worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition to what exercise can do in your brain, it also offers better physical health. Physically feeling good can have a direct affect on how a person feels mentally. Exercise lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cancer, and improves self confidence- all adding up to a better quality of life.*
     For some a regular fitness routine could improve your health to the point of no longer be classified as having anxiety or depression. For others it can help increase your quality of life, and in conjunction with prescribed medication help to significantly reduce your symptoms. How much exercise is needed to help with your symptoms? That is not really quantifiable. However, a study done in 2005 showed that walking fast for 35 minutes a day 5 times a week or 60 minutes a day 3 times a week significantly impacted subjects with mild to moderate depression diagnoses. Walking fast for 15 minutes a day 5 times a week, or stretching exercises three times a week did not produce the same results. The study was done on individuals weighing 150 lbs and suggests that the exercise required to achieve those results would need to be increased or could be decreased based on your weight in relation to that number.*
   When I am not being regularly active there is a huge difference in my overall mental state verses when I am exercising several times a week. In my life I've had many friends that felt they could be open with me about their own depression or anxiety and we were able to bond over this which provided an amazing source of comfort and a great place to vent. (It also fostered great work out buddy relationships!) There is no reason that any one should feel like they can't be open and honest about suffering from a mental illness. At this point Anxiety disorders are one of the most widely diagnosed illnesses in America. In 2014 there were an estimated 43.6 million adults suffering from some sort of mental illness- that is over 18% of the population.** So why are we not all talking about this?
   Some of the things that can amplify anxiety and depression is feeling alone in your struggle, feeling "crazy" for feeling that way, or like no one will understand. Thoughts like these will only increase the affects of the disease. If there are 43 million of us out there dealing with these illnesses then why are we not all talking about it. I feel so strongly that the more we talk about these conditions, how they affect us and our lives, the less power they will have over us. We don't have to have the feeling of being alone hanging like a dark cloud above our heads when in reality there are millions of us that could be sharing an umbrella! So let's talk! If you have had symptoms in the past or are currently suffering from what you think could be anxiety or depression, please talk to your doctor immediately. You do not have to feel like that, there are medicines that can help. If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are being treated for it, but don't feel like you're getting ideal results- are you currently active? Get moving and exercise! Have you felt the results of what exercise can do for someone suffering from mental illness- sound off in the comments. As always I welcome your questions or thoughts. xoxo-Layne

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Health(y) Food

The term health food is so misleading. Often companies will advertise their products as "health food" when in reality it's just "low-calorie" or "low fat" and in order shave the calories they've packed it full of chemicals and things that are way less healthy than pesky calories. So what is healthy food, really? The easiest way to tell if something you're eating is truly healthy is to look at the ingredient list and see how many things you have actually heard of- or better yet, can pronounce. If the number of ingredients you recognize is less than those you do- it's probably not something you want to eat. There are lots of special diets that consist of healthy food- the raw diet, and paleo are just two examples, but it's really not necessary to limit yourself in that way if you don't want to. Educating yourself on things like GMOs, the dangers of soy, what sugar does to your body, and the difference between natural and organic are things that I think are really important. Also, don't be afraid to try and shop healthy. It's not as expensive as it used to be. Grocery stores like Aldi and Kroger are committing to stocking more organic food options at affordable prices. Sure Whole Foods has allure, but I know I can't afford to shop there all the time, and frankly some of their stuff is a rip-off. One of my favorite ways to get healthier food options at reasonable prices is Kroger's Simple Truth line- it's not perfect, but it's almost there, and way better than the alternative.

Right now eating healthy has become very difficult for me. I've been given extreme diet restrictions due to my Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome. Most of the easy go-to healthy options are ruled out for me. No salads, no leafy greens, no beans, no nuts of any kind, no oats or whole grains- yikes- it's a nightmare. I also can't eat any soy- which is a sneaky little bugger and hides is SO MUCH. So what am I eating these days? Well, I'm constantly looking for ways to be satisfied and still eat smart. I have found some things that I love and I thought I'd share them with you.

My new fave snacks are That's It bars. They are SO good, and they only contain 2 ingredients. At 100 calories a pop, they're something I feel great grabbing in between meals to curb a sweet tooth or craving. I get these at Kroger- they're pricey at $1.50 each, but it's something I'm willing to pay being that I'm so limited on options. If you have food allergies- these are seriously good. I only recommend the apple and banana if you REALLY like bananas because their flavor is strong. My favorite is the apple and cherry!

Another way I curb my sweet tooth is with vanilla yogurt. I know that Greek yogurt is like "the thing to do" these days, but I honestly can only handle it every now and then. For me I stick with the plain old regular yogurt. When it's on sale I'll buy organic, but most of the time I just go with Yoplait! The only weird ingredient in it is modified corn starch- which means a chemical was added to the corn starch to help it perform in a way necessary for the food- like gelling better for cold foods. Chemicals are never great, but I can live with this- and for those of you that are gluten-free, modified corn starch is definitely still GF. Yogurt is an awesome food to eat for your body, too. Its a great probiotic to help your digestive system and keep you regular! Add some fruit to it for breakfast or a healthy dessert alternative! I can't eat oats anymore, but one of my favorite things I used to eat for breakfast was vanilla yogurt with steel cut oats. Throw 2 handfuls of steel cut oats in the yogurt the night before and in the morning they're soft enough to chew, but still chewy enough to give good texture and help you feel full!
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Fruit is one of the options where I have the most freedom right now. My only fruit limitations are pineapples and raspberries. Lucky for me the whole fam loves fruit, so we've been doing a lot of fruit salads! Grab 3 or 4 of your fave fruits, chop them up and let them sit for just a few minutes to really blend with each other. Yum! I know there is a temptation sometimes to sprinkle a little sugar on top- and I have the BEST solution to that- True Lime is crystallized lime juice and lime oil and it works as the perfect healthy sweetener on fruit salads. A yoga instructor I love introduced me to it, and I'm telling y'all, I am hooked! You'll never go back to regular fruit salads again!

When I want something salty I have 2 go-to options. The first is popcorn. DO NOT EAT MICROWAVED POPCORN. Y'all, for real it is super bad for you. You can trust me, or Google it, because I wont get into the details, it's just not good. When I'm indulging we'll cook our popcorn on the stove in a little bit of canola oil- its delicious. The most low-cal option is to air pop, and air popped popcorn is an awesome snack food if you're trying to cut calories and fat. The other thing I eat a lot of when I need a salty fix is chips and salsa! Now, chips and salsa from Monterrey's may be completely delicious, but those chips are super fried and greasy- so I hate to break it to you, but they're not healthy. Tortilla chips from the store are much better and there are about a thousand different options, so you can find the chip that you like best. The same goes for salsas- my husband makes amazing home made salsa- but we hardly ever have time for that any more. My current fave are the restaurant style salsas- so I feel like I'm eating what'd I'd get at a Mexican restaurant, even though I'm not. 

it's empty because I love it!

For a quick and easy (healthy) protein options I love hard boiled eggs and turkey bacon. Two hard boiled eggs, or 4 strips of turkey bacon are great choices for breakfast or even snacks throughout the day. They're also super easy to pack for lunch to take to work!

If you're trying to eat healthy one thing to do is cut the sodas. This is hard, and I'm not pretending that I don't love my diet cokes and red bull. I'll never pretend to be something I'm not. They're awful for you, though, and if you read my last post you know one of my New Year's resolutions is to drink more water. (I've already had 48oz today, by the way) A great way to ease out of the soda habit is sparkling water. I have always loved Perrier and San Pelligrino, but sometimes I need some flavor and in the past few years have come to love La Croix. They have recently added some new flavors and blends and when I head to the fridge craving a diet coke, I try and grab one of these instead. I really like the melon grapefruit and cucumber berry flavors!

What are healthy foods do you love? Are you in need of a menu makeover? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments! xo, Layne

Monday, January 2, 2017

I'm a huge fan of New Year's resolutions. I realize that they're very polarizing but for me, personally, I love them. I like setting goals, I think it's a great thing to do. I think it builds character. I also think the time span of the beginning of a year to the end is a great way to measure progress. Rome wasn't built in a day, but a year can definitely bring about significant change and improvement. It's true that often our resolutions are forgotten or forgone after a while, but that's not always the case, and I don't see why we wouldn't at least try to set goals and stick to them.

As I've reflected on what was arguably one of the toughest years of my life due to ongoing health issues I've come up with several goals that I'm resolving to meet during 2017, and I thought I'd share them with y'all!

Resolution #1: Drink more water

I am admittedly bad at drinking enough h2o. You would think as someone who is invested in health and nutrition I would be on top of this, but unfortunately I need to do much much better. I know the thousands of health benefits to staying adequately hydrated, so in this case do as I say and not as I do. My goal for this year is to really kick it up a notch with my water consumption and reap the benefits of this change.

Resolution #2: Reinstate Family Home Evenings

My church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, suggests having a night each week in which you have spiritual growth time as a family. These evenings can be really structured with hymns, lessons, scriptures, etc or they can be relaxed time spent together as a family focusing on positive and righteous activities. When my oldest child was the age my youngest is now my husband and I were really consistent with our FHEs. However, when the baby was born we stopped... It got to be "too much" with an infant and then we rationalized that she was too young or a distraction... None of our excuses were great. Now that she's 2 I really want commit to a weekly FHE. My 5 year old has a strong testimony and very special relationship with the Lord and I know that our family nights when she was younger contributed to that. I want to give my baby the same experience. I know our family unit will be stronger because of it and the Spirit in our home will increase.

Resolution #3: Love myself more

I'm currently working on a project that deals with positive body image and self love. I look forward to sharing it with you down the road. This project was prompted by an experience I had a while back when I was able to look in the mirror at myself and really appreciate my body for the first time. This is huge for me because my entire life I've struggled with body dysmorphia and low self esteem. I'm not in the best shape of my life right now, quite the contrary... because of my health issues I've been on a very high dose of steroids on and off for months that has caused me to gain weight and be unable to lose it.  I have scars all over from my skin condition, permanent circles under my eyes from allergies and motherhood, and stretch marks from carrying two babies. But one morning I was able to look in the mirror and appreciate my body exactly as it is right now, flaws included. I wanted to hold onto that feeling and never let it go. That self love and positive thinking is fleeting, though, and I think it will be something that takes a while for me to really master and adopt as my permanent way of thinking. It's something I am really going to strive for this year. I see so much beauty in others I want to be able to say the same for myself. I also think that if I'm really able to love my body that it will be able to be it's best for me. Ultimately my body is a vessel in which I can serve the Lord. I do this by being a good wife and mother, serving my fellow man, fulfilling my church calling, sharing the Gospel, and following my passion of helping people improve their health.

Right now I'm in the car heading home from my in-laws bringing my "winter break" to an end. I'll arrive home and dive right back into normal life. Tonight I'll head to a personal training session with a client and to Kroger afterward for a grocery pick up. I'm excited for what this year has in store for me, I feel positive things in the air, and I hope the same for all of you, too! xoxo, Layne