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Whole 30: 30 Days of Clean Eating

30 Sep

We’re going to skip the part about me being a bad blogger, and jump straight to what we’ve been up to these last 30 days, ok? Good.

This summer Calvin and I had adopted a paleo lifestyle for the majority of our meals. We didn’t completely convert with everything though (aka: we still loved our craft beer several times a week and indulged at our favorite pizza place far more often than our stomachs or bank accounts preferred). But we felt pretty good about our 80% commitment and didn’t really see a reason to take it any further.

Then we went to Europe for ten days. Oh yeah, “Hey blog, we went to Europe for ten days!” Numerous pictures and stories to tell about that one day, but back to paleo. It was vacation, we were experiencing another culture (one that loved their potatoes prepared any way as much as they loved their fish and chips) so our 80% paleo effort stayed on the other side of the Atlantic. But our stomachs didn’t seem to like that situation very much.

We returned to the States and tried to fall back into our semi-paleo way of life, but doing something halfway is a hard thing to re-adopt. So when my sweet sister-in-law asked me if I had ever heard of whole 30, I knew this just might be the commitment I needed to figure out what my eating habits really should be. I’d read about whole 30 a lot through researching paleo, but it sounded pretty extreme and intimidating. Calvin was not on board.

However, after a weekend spent on the lake indulging in all kinds of delicious junk food (and paying for it on the way back to Memphis), Calvin told me he had changed his mind. We made a plan with Mary and set our start date for September 1st. Our journey of a month with no dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, sugar, or processed food of any kind was about to begin.

So what did we eat? Lots of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats (primarily tree nuts and coconut). While it may seem limiting, when you stop and think about how many different kinds of meats, veggies, and fruits there are and how many different ways you can prepare them, you realize you can literally go 30 days without eating the same thing twice if you wanted.

We cooked more this month than I think we ever have in any 30 days of marriage. While we didn’t eat out a whole lot for meals we shared together before, these 30 days showed us how often we would just run out and grab something for a quick lunch or dinner should we happen to be rushed and unable to eat together. And for a girl that doesn’t just love to spend her free time in the kitchen, I really enjoyed all the extra time we shared there together this month prepping and cooking meals.

But you’re probably thinking that all sounds well and good, but tell me more about what made this challenging and what you learned from it. Well, glad you asked! It was definitely hard, especially the first 8-9 days. Sugar cravings are no joke. Even though we had done a pretty good job of cutting back on sugar through doing paleo for several months, the complete omission of sugar (even natural sugars like pure honey) is rough for us sugar-crazed Americans. It was most helpful to eat a good breakfast with a full serving of protein and some healthy fats with nothing sweet to help fill me up and not wake up my sweet tooth earlier than necessary. And while whole 30 doesn’t encourage a lot of snacking (your meals should fill you up and keep you full until your next one) if I was hungry I would snack on some raw veggies or mixed nuts to keep me from thinking about cookies or cupcakes until my next meal.

After a few days into the second week, I was getting better at building my portions to adequately fill me up and snacking less. The sugar cravings still happened occasionally, but they were much more manageable. The hardest part was fighting temptations that were right in front of me. You know, potluck on the floor at work, offers to go out for drinks with friends, sitting in pizza restaurants and only drinking water, the ice cream fundraiser at the office, all those delicious things that just seem to pop up. My stubbornness to finish what I start was actually a blessing in these situations.

Week three came and suddenly I felt like a brand new person. The cravings were essentially gone and I had consistent energy levels all day long. Did you know that it’s not normal to be tired at 2:30 every day? Or that some people can wake up with or before their alarm and feel energized and ready for the day? Yeah, me either. But I’m here to tell you that I am totally a believer now. I have never been a morning person, but now I can barely sleep past 7:30-8:00 (yes even on Saturdays), I have energy all day long, and when I start to get tired at night I go to bed and sleep soundly. This, people, is worth all the rule following for 30 days! Here’s a fun little graphic with a link to the full article outlining what you can expect during your whole 30.

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So we start reintroducing foods tomorrow. We’ll eat several different types of dairy throughout the day and observe how we feel while going back to the full whole 30 diet for the two days following. Grains with gluten come just in time for our weekend in Starkville; fist pumps for Stromboli’s! Although I fully expect to feel pretty miserable afterwards. Gluten-free grains get reintroduced on the 7th, and we wrap up with legumes on the 10th. It’s a little nerve wracking to start adding these things back in, but I’m really looking forward to knowing how each of these food groups affect me so I can make well-informed choices with my food.

I promise to come back with a full update after the 10th to see which of these food groups are the biggest culprits for inconsistent energy levels, headaches, and heartburn. Should be fun! If you want to know more about whole 30 I highly recommend reading It Starts With Food. The authors have done their research and have testimonies of thousands of people who experienced a similar and often more extreme transformation than Calvin and I. Their website, whole9life.com is also a great resource. And of course we’d be happy to share the recipes and other resources we used to help us on our journey or answer any questions if you want to know more.

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Celebrating Three Years!

31 May

Let’s pretend I am a proactive and efficient blogger and this was actually posted Wednesday on our anniversary. Deal? Good! :)

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Today marks my third year as a Morris. It hardly seems like it’s been three whole years since our wedding day, but at the same time I can’t imagine life any other way. Being Calvin’s wife is one of the greatest blessings the Lord has ever granted me. I’m so thankful He gave us marriage as a picture of our relationship with Him and as a way to daily sanctify us to be more like Jesus.

It’s hard, no doubt about it. But no matter how hard things may be, it’s equally as rewarding. Three years surely doesn’t make me an expert, but what I do know is that we love each other and work daily to die to ourselves in order to put the other first. While it certainly isn’t perfect, it sure is beautiful.

There’s no one else I’d rather do life with; thanks for choosing me to be your bride, Calvin. I love you and can’t wait to see what this next year brings our way!

P.S. If you want to see more pictures and read all about our day, go here. And if you need a wedding photographer, we loved working with Robby Followell!

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What’s Been On My Heart

11 Oct

There’s a lot of life that’s been happening around here and so much to catch up on. But that’s not what’s on my heart today, so I think I’ll just stick to what is.

Goodness gracious, Jesus is good. Isn’t He? So often I just walk through life happy and secure with what I have, but with an attitude like I’m somehow entitled to it. And more and more recently, I’ve been reminded that I’m not entitled to it at all! In fact, I deserve death and life apart from Him. But what He gives me is so much more than that. And oh, so sweet!

It seems childish to think that I’m still coming to grips with this. But that’s also the beauty of it all. I’m so thankful that Jesus continually pursues me, teaches me, and allows me to grow.

I’m so thankful for the community of believers He has put in my life and the support they give that causes me to want to grow. Recently, our church has re-launched as Grace Community Church and that whole process has been difficult, but so good all at the same time. I’m so thankful for the Godly leadership that He has given us and for the community that is being built there.

But He is also using so many precious women who I don’t know, or barely know, from the online community. Many of these women may not even realize that I read their blogs and listen to their hearts, but I do and He is moving through them. I’m so thankful for the outlets He has given them to create a space for women to feel vulnerable, accepted, and real with one another. He is doing big things and I want to make sure I’m listening.

I have so much to learn and I am just grateful that He is still working on me with grace, mercy, and patience. I’m thankful for my loving family who surrounds me in prayer and challenge me to continually pursue Him. I’m so blessed by my wonderful friends who love Jesus and want their lives to reflect that on a daily basis. They put up with me and my selfishness, but love me anyways and challenge me all the time. And the relationship Calvin and I have is by no means perfect, but it is such a tangible picture of our relationship with Jesus. It’s amazing that He would give us the gift of marriage to help us grow in our relationship with Him.

I am entitled to none of this, but yet He has seen fit to bless me with it and I am so thankful! I hope that when I look back on this season of my life, I remember it with fondness. But I also want to say that I seized the opportunities in front of me to make less of me and more of Him. I pray He helps me to do that daily.

Happy Thursday, friends. May the rest of your week be filled with bountiful gifts from the Ultimate Giver.

On Customer Service and How Stitch Fix Got it Right

27 Jul

I just have to take a second to commend Stitch Fix on their excellent customer service. For a company still in beta, growing rapidly, and working feverishly to make every woman feel beautiful, they didn’t skimp on their commitment to customer service.

From the fun little gifts they send in each box to their well-maintained email account, they are striving to make everyone who creates an account with them feel important. It’s what makes them feel like my local boutique and gains my trust to continue coming back for more. It’s what distinguishes them from your big, corporate department store and it’s what will continue to make them successful.

Don’t believe me? Take this email for example:

Amanda Morris, Jul 26 01:48 pm (PDT):

“Hello! I got my first fix yesterday and had so much fun trying everything on! I updated my profile a little and just completed my shipment survey. Thanks so much for all your help and the fun experience so far!

But I had someone tell me today that they recently received a fix after signing up through my link, and I never got credit for that.”

The email goes on, but notice the time stamp—1:48 in California they received this email from me. I immediately got an auto-response from them that said this:

“Thanks for contacting Stitch Fix!  Your question (#6039) has been received, and is being reviewed by one of our stylists.  We’ll get back to you as soon as possible, within 1 business day.”

But who needs a full business day when you can fix it in 14 minutes?

Rochelle O’Sullivan, Jul 26 02:02 pm (PDT):

“Hi Amanda,

We’re so happy to hear you’re enjoying Stitch Fix! I added (insert friend’s name here) as your referral and applied the credit to your account, sorry that the link didn’t work! :) Let me know if you need anything else!”

Not only were they extremely prompt, but they resolved my issue no questions asked. And this is actually the third time I’ve contacted them and I’ve had the same experience every time.

Not bad for a company still in beta, huh? I think companies with this kind of marketing strategy and commitment to customer service are the future. Who wants to shop at a big box store when you could have this? Great job, Stitch Fix! Keep up the good work!

Want your own fix? Use this link. And please let me know if you’ve signed up and scheduled a fix! I’d love to hear how it works for you. But also, as you see from my email, sometimes the link doesn’t credit my account but they’re always willing to fix it if we tell them!

P.S. Stitch Fix didn’t pay or perk me to tell all my friends about them. I’m just super impressed with their business and want others to know!

A Big List of Morris News

29 Jun

I feel like I start all my posts with, “Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve updated our poor blog, let me catch you up!” and since that seems to be the reoccurring theme, maybe I should just admit to myself that I’m not a daily, weekly, or sometimes even monthly blogger.

So if we all agree there are no expectations for this little corner of the Internet, then I’ll write when I can and you can read when you want to, deal?

Ok, good. Now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way, what do you want to hear about first? The house? Our new favorite recipes? Neglected DIY projects? Penny? My new job? How hot it is in Memphis? My new obsession with Jerry’s Sno Cones? The LuvMud 5K?

Well, obviously that’s too many topics for one post so I’ll answer that string of questions with one sentence for each, and come back soon with longer, more exciting posts full of details and pictures.

The house is awesome and feeling more and more like ours each week. We have loved cooking in the big kitchen on a gas stove and trying out new recipes. Our current fav is this angel hair pasta and prosciutto recipe courtesy of Pinterest. We undertook several DIY projects right after we moved in and are planning to tackle a few more this weekend and over the holiday next week. Stay tuned.

Penny is loving her new-found freedom of being outside without a leash, and she recently had her canine friend Gracie over for a week. So it’s safe to say she’s pretty content.

Like how I threw a new job in the midst of this random list? So as of July 23rd I will be a Regional Account Manager for IP. I’ve LOVED my Supply Chain job and will miss my current group so much, but as a marketing grad I’m excited for this new opportunity. Way more to come on that!

It’s freaking hot in Memphis. I need a pool, lots of frozen alcoholic beverages, and sno cones to make it through this summer. Luckily, Jerry’s Sno Cones helps. I’d always heard of this place but never been until we moved. And it definitely lives up to its hype. It’s a Memphis must!

I ran in the LuvMud 5K last Saturday (an obstacle course 5K kind of like Warrior Dash) and it was fun but hot. I’ll leave you with a before and after picture of team Muddy Buddies.

Happy Friday friends! Back with more soon!

June Va-Voom

4 Jun

There are lots of updates coming soon, but for now I just wanted to pop in and tell you all about this fitness challenge I’m participating in.

You may remember my friend, Keight Dukes from when we ran the half marathon in December. Well she has put together a June fitness challenge (June Va-Voom) to provide some fun motivation and competition to work out for 30 days! When I heard about her idea, I immediately emailed her to tell her I was in. I have not been exercising like I want to and I attribute that to my laziness and lack of motivation. But I love a good competition, so I thought it’d be the kick in the pants I needed to get up off the couch.

Basically, there is a list of exercises you can do and each is assigned a certain number of points. It’s all things you can do at home like sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, etc. and running or some kind of cardio. She has mad Excel skills so she put together a spreadsheet for us to keep up with our workouts that calculates our points for us. Then she posted it in Google Docs and now we can see where we stand against the others who are competing. At the end of the month, the three people with the most points will get a prize—cash! We all paid ten dollars to join and so far there are 43 people participating. That’s $430 divided among the top three! Such a great motivation to work out for cheap!

And just to make it even more of a game and less of a workout routine, I decided to do the non-cardio exercises the “deck of cards” way. I’m sure many of you already know what this is if you played any kind of team sport in JV, high school, or college (ahem, Keight!), but if you’re a band nerd or just straight up not athletic like me, then you might be scratching your head right now.

Basically, you get a deck of cards, assign an exercise to each suite, shuffle the deck, and then flip over the cards one-by-one and do what it says. For example, if sit-ups are hearts and the first card is an eight of hearts, then do eight sit-ups. Jacks, Queens, and Kings are equal to ten, and Aces are eleven. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll get through a fourth of the deck and want to cry. But at least it’s a fun way to break up the monotony of doing sets of the same exercise over and over until you’ve worked your way through them all!

I am currently in 27th place because I was a slacker and didn’t start until yesterday, but I am excited about the 26 days ahead and will work extra hard to catch up and take home a prize! If you want to join us, I don’t think it’s too late. Just email me or Keight and I’m sure she’ll be happy to add you in. The more the merrier!

Now, I just have to figure out a way to convince all my Finding My Feet teammates to come run with us again in December. We are officially registered for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, but we haven’t started training yet. We have a Heroes team and would love some more teammates, so if you’re reading this you should consider signing-up! I know it’s cheesy, but I promise that if I can run 13.1 miles, so can you. Anyone want to join us?

A little update, iPhone style

12 Dec

Even though the half marathon is behind us, life is still quite busy around the Morris home. Here’s a few snaps from the past couple of weeks.

It snowed.

Penny stays warm with her very own blanket on the couch. I swear she thinks she’s a human.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

It snowed again. Don’t we live in the South?

Penny wonders why there is a tree in our living room.

We laughed a lot at Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge with friends.

And just because it’s too good not to post, I’ll leave you with our prize-winning tacky Christmas attire.

Sweaters courtesy of the 1980s and my mom, complete with shoulder pads!

The stick reindeer is just a special addition thanks to the hostess’ kids

We won the reindeer ears for being the tackiest

And yes, Calvin is wearing his compression pants with Christmas boxers. Oh my.