Wednesday, July 1, 2015

No Shortcuts

A few months ago, I signed up for a marathon. I think I'm still in shock that I committed to do it. Two years ago, as I watched a friend cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon in record time,  I was inspired. I told Hank "if I'm not pregnant by the end of the year, I'm signing up to run one." Well, the pregnancy never happened. But I kept putting off the marathon idea, along with other things, "just in case". After a lot of soul searching, I decided to stop waiting, and start living my life.  I was tired of holding off on plans while holding on to the hope that by some small miracle I would get pregnant.

The Holland House: Life is to short to wait

One small wrinkle in this new plan- I was in absolutely no shape to run, or even train for, a marathon. I've continually gained weight over the past 3 years, and reached a new low when a recent body mass test revealed that I was borderline obese based on my body fat percentage. I was on a roll with running earlier this year, until a chronic cough sidelined me for almost two months. I kept coming up with excuses to get back at it, until a friend posted a picture of me from 3 years ago. It almost stopped me in my tracks, the physical difference between then and now. I knew that if I didn't find a way to make sustainable changes, I was going to head into my 40's at a weight that wasn't healthy for me. Marathon or not, I owed it to myself to find a way to improve my overall health and fitness.

The Holland House: Ideal Picture

Enter Earn that Body, and the wonderfully inspiring Kim Eagle. I had noticed that a girl from my training group was really looking good. Not that she didn't before, but there was a noticeable difference in her physique, and she looked amazing. Healthy and strong, but not too skinny. She looked the way that I wanted to look again. So I asked her what she had been doing, and she mentioned Kim's programs. It wasn't for the faint of heart, she said. But that's why it's called EARN that Body, and not WANT that Body. I emailed Kim a few times, and decided to try her 30 day ETB-tox program. It seemed worth a shot.

The Holland House: Earn that Body

I was nervous heading into it, not really knowing how restrictive or hard it would be. I've tried countless programs before, only to completely fall off the wagon afterwards. That's totally my MO. But I had a different determination heading into this, and was pleasantly surprised as I went through the program. It was realistic. It made sense. It wasn't so restrictive that I couldn't find a way to make permanent changes. It was as simple as this- Real Food. Real Work. Real Results. There is no special food to buy, no drink powders or pills to take. Just good old regular food! The biggest challenge for me was no alcohol for two weeks. I didn't think I would be able to survive, but I honestly believe this one was a game changer for me. I'm now a "alcohol on the weekend only" person, and my life hasn't changed for the worse because of it.

So I did the work. I feel like I gave at least 95% for the entire 30 days, and my results are plentiful:

1- I've never slept  better in my life. Before, I used to maybe get 5-6 hours or restless sleep, and now I'm getting 7.5-8 if I go to bed early enough.
2- My skin looks amazing. I think that eating more fruits and vegetables, with hardly any processed food, had made a tremendous difference. I also drink a ridiculous amount of water.
3- I feel amazing. I might be tired after a long run, but overall I have great energy and feel....healthy!
4- I lost 6.5 pounds!! My clothes fit more loosely, and I can see the weight loss in my face for sure.

The Holland House: Before

The Holland House: After

I still have about 6-8 pounds to go before I reach a weight that I think is healthy and sustainable. To put it in perspective- I weighed nearly as much as my husband just 30 days ago. I'm not ok with that! But I'm doing it slowly, and doing it the right way. I'm continuing to make great choices each day (see previous post about meal planning), and I feel like I'm set up for success. They say that weight loss is 80% what you eat, and 20% exercise. While I do work out 5 days a week, I think it was the change in diet that lead to such a successful start for me, and that's what is keeping me motivated to continue making better choices.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 6/22-26

Hi friends! I'm here, barely surviving end of quarter at work. While I suffer through a webcast during lunch, I thought I would take a few minutes to share my most recent weekly meal plan. We've actually been doing this for all of June, and it has been a huge success. I'll share more about that next week when work is absolutely dead, and I'm trying hard to look busy at my computer.

On to the food....

Here is a link to the actual document that I use to stay organized, but I wanted to include more info about how I actually handle the planning and prep. On Friday morning (or Saturday, depending on my schedule) I'll thumb through Pinterest recipes that I've saved and start making a list of the meals I want to make. I try to cook once/eat twice for at least one dinner and one lunch, to limit how many things I buy and how much time I spend in the kitchen. So I keep my eye out for recipes that I can divide into two containers, or that would make for good leftovers.

Next up is shopping. Lately I have been making a quick stop at Trader Joe's for a few favorite items. I love their Greek yogurt, Verde Sauce, Corn Tortillas, Wheat Bread, and a frozen Multigrain Veggie Mix. I do the bulk of my shopping at HEB though (either Saturday or Sunday morning). Once I have my meal plan in place, I'll start with prepping and cooking.

**If I can offer any advice- it would be to start small. Don't try to jump into meal planning all at once- it will be overwhelming. If you can work on one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner to get a head start on the week, then you'll be in good shape. Once you collect recipes that are easy and that you like, it gets a lot easier to rotate and figure out a schedule that works for you.

(Keep in mind that I'm cooking for two. Some of the recipes can be modified to make more or less, depending on your needs.)


The Holland House: Weekly Meal Prep- Breakfast

Overnight Blueberry Almond Oats (I made 4 containers worth on Sunday)

Egg Muffins (This is enough to make 12-14 muffins, depending on how many veggies you add)

1/2 small carton organic Egg Whites
6 free-range eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt (I use 2%, but you can use non-fat too)

2 cups spinach, chopped
2-3 roasted red peppers (I use ones in a jar)
1/2 small log goat cheese, crumbled

1) Line a cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners. Set oven to 350.
2) Mix the first three ingredients into a small bowl.
3) Combine veggies only into a separate bowl (or just go straight from the cutting board)
4) Fill cups half full with egg mix. Then top with veggies.
5) Add remaining egg mix to 3/4 full, and then sprinkle with goat cheese.
6) Bake for 20-25 min, until the muffins no longer "jiggle" in the middle.
7) Let cool completely, and then store in an airtight container.

**Please note that you can use any veggies you want.


The Holland House: Weekly Meal Planning- Lunch

Vegetarian Chickpea Spread, makes about 6 servings (I subbed Greek yogurt for mayo, and served it on wheat bread with spinach and tomato)

Butternut Squash and Broccoli Chicken Pasta, makes 4-6 servings (I tried to copycat one of my favorite Snap Kitchen meals)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and finely diced
1 bag whole wheat pasta, cooked (I like to use fun shapes like bowtie or fusilli)
2 cups cubed Butternut Squash, roasted (I buy it already cut at Trader Joes)
2 cups broccoli, roasted
1/2 small log of goat cheese, crumble
1/2 walnuts, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
chopped basil to taste
nutmeg to taste

**There is a lot of prep to put this dish together, so spread it out if needed. Roast your veggies together. Cook pasta and chicken at the same time. When all ingredients are ready to go, toss the pasta with oil, vinegar and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Then portion out pasta into your containers, add chicken, veggies, and then top with goat cheese, walnuts and chopped basil. It will keep for up to 4 days.


Crockpot Verde Chicken, makes 2 servings (I use 2 skinless, boneless, organic chicken breasts for this, and the Trader Joe's Verde Sauce. We shred the chicken and serve on corn tortillas with a small scoop of greek yogurt, and sautéed zucchini on the side)

Sautéed Zucchini 

1-2 zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add zucchini and stir to coat. Once they have started to cook through (2-4 minutes is good), add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, and a dash of red pepper flakes.

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake, makes 8 servings (This is hands down one of our favorite dinners, and makes for excellent leftovers the next day. I divide the whole recipe into 2 square foil containers so that I can bake them on two different nights. Makes it so easy to come home from work, throw it into the oven for 30 minutes, and then sit down to eat.)

Baked Chicken with Trader Joe's Frozen MultiGrain Veggie Mix, makes 2 servings (Pretty self explanatory. We bake or grill two chicken breasts lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve the veggie mix on the side. Not exciting, but it gets the job done.)

If you've never tried to meal plan/prep before, I hope that some of this helps. I'd love to know if you try any of these and if it helps make your week a little easier. I realize it will take up a few hours over the weekend, but I'd much rather do that than get home after work and stress about how to get a decent meal on the table. Feel free to share your feedback or questions in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I'm taking a short break from my blogging break to share a video with you that has absolutely touched my heart. WARNING: If you have even half a heart, you will likely bawl your eyes out while watching. You might want to save this until you're in the comfort of your own home.

A little bit of background on the video- Ben Moon is an incredibly talented photographer/cinematographer, free spirit, outdoorsman, and dog lover. (Do yourself a favor and browse all of the gorgeous pictures on his website.) He and his equally talented friends put together this exquisitely beautiful video in remembrance of his beloved dog Denali. Denali was such a handsome dog, that he even got to model in Patagonia ads! What a life he led. The video ended up winning two awards at the 5Point Film Festival, and was an official selection for MountainFilm 2015. So yes, it's really that good!

If you have read our blog for any amount of time, you know that we're crazy about our small herd of animals (and I haven't even shared our latest foster with you- told y'all we've been busy lately!) Our foster fail Brees is absolutely my baby, and all I could think about while watching this is how it we feel when her time comes (hopefully many, many years from now). It may sound weird, but this video just made me feel so deeply. It's hard to describe.

So watch it. Please. And feel free to come back and let me know what you think. Even if it's just to share a sentiment about your own fur baby. I love hearing them!

**If you love the song at the end as much as I did, it's called "It's Only" by Odesza. Totally worth the download.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taking a break

It's probably obvious that I've already started a break from blogging based on how little I've been posting this year. But I feel like I need to officially say it. Life has just been way too busy, and I hate feeling the pressure of coming up with a well thought out blog post. We've been having a lot of fun lately, but trying to balance work, Sweet Elise, time with Hank and home projects (in no particular order) means that blogging just isn't going to happen right now.

If you want to stay tuned on our daily lives, please feel free to follow me on Instagram. You can see endless pictures of our animals and other fun things at @thehollandhouseher. You can also see pictures of all the sweets I make at @sweetelise_atx. It's so much easier to post a picture and few sentences than hammering out a blog post, and I love to interact with others on Instagram. So don't be shy!

There's still a lot to say (hello, fertility journey) that I hope to revisit again, but I don't have the capacity to give it the attention it needs. So keep me in your Bloglovin' feed if you don't mind. I promise I'll be back!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Sunday in Georgetown

A few weekends ago, we drove north to Georgetown to see a friend who was performing in "Anything Goes" at the Georgetown Palace Theatre. The theatre is on the square, so we wanted to get there early so we would have plenty of time to eat lunch and walk around. I don't know that I have ever spent any time in Georgetown, but I can say we'll be back as soon as possible.

The Holland House: Georgetown Palace Theatre

Not only were there several great restaurants to choose from, but there were adorable shops and the neatest market that had fresh local produce and a Texas craft beer section. We ate lunch at Wildfire, which is housed in a historical building right next to the theatre. We learned the hard way that it's always good to make reservations, but we lucked out by getting a high top table in the bar area. We had a great lunch with really nice service! We'd go back again, but would try other restaurants on the square first.

You can't visit Georgetown without going to these two places:

Diva Design Studio- this rivals any home decorating store that you would find in Austin. I saw some of the prettiest (and unique) lighting fixtures, along with this headboard that I absolutely fell in love with.

The Holland House: Diva Design Studio

The Monument Cafe & Market- not technically on the square, it's just two blocks over and well worth the extra steps. They grow their own produce on the property, and the market just can't be missed.

The Holland House: Monument Cafe & Market

The show itself was really impressive. I'm not really big on musicals, but actually enjoyed the entire production. While the remaining weekend is already sold out, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Georgetown if you're looking for something a little different to do.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Amplify Austin Results

Another year, another tremendous success for the fundraising extravaganza that is Amplify Austin. The overall goal was to raise $7 million for over 500 area non-profits, and when the clock stopped at 6pm on Friday, the total was at $7,715,391.32. That is just amazing! What's even more amazing is that total was raised by just over 25,000 unique donors. Imagine what we could do if even more people participated in this day of giving?

I set a goal to raise $1,000 for Wags, Hope and Healing. I'll be honest- I thought it was a big stretch. I would have been happy with just $500. But friends and family pulled through, helping me raise $1,055. This was the first year for Wags to participate, and they were hoping for anything between $2,000-$5,000. They ended up raising a total of $8300!! That is a huge gift for them. With this money, they will be able to do the following:

6 orthopedic surgeries
40 spay/neuter surgeries
heart worm treatment for 6 dogs

More than anything, it means that they can provide care for animals without having to stress or shuffle funds around. It also brought attention to their small rescue, and helped spread the word about the amazing work that they do. A huge thank you to everyone who participated in this awesome event.

"Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Amplify Austin: Support Wags, Hope and Healing

March 5th-6th kicks off the 3rd year for the "I Live Here, I Give Here" fundraising campaign hosted by Amplify Austin. Over $8.5 million has been raised for local charities, and this year over 500 non-profits will benefit from the city's generosity.

I have participated since its inception, donating to a variety of local non-profits that all have meaning to me. This year, I am especially excited to be hosting my very own fundraising page in support of one of our favorite animal rescue groups, Wags, Hope and Healing. We first learned about this amazing mother/daughter rescue duo through good friends and neighbors, and began to follow their stories and learn more about their operation. About 4 months ago, we committed to being monthly donors for their Circle of Chance program, donating specifically towards medical funds.

Amplify Austin: Wags, Hope and Healing

The Wags, Hope and Healing mission is to save neglected, abused and abandoned dogs that would otherwise never make it out of a shelter alive. They provide medical treatment, rehabilitation, and careful consideration when finding permanent homes. Some dogs are pulled off the street, and others are saved from area kill shelters where they would likely be euthanized due to their medical needs. Because Wags is committed to helping these special cases, they often face medical bills ranging from $2,000-$5,000 a month.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bleeding heart for animals. Every cat that has ever been a part of our family was saved from the streets. My very first dog as an adult was rescued from an irresponsible dog owner who did not have their pet spayed. I've volunteered hundreds of hours at the city shelter, have fostered multiple dogs, and even had a foster fail. To say that Hank and I are passionate about animals would be an understatement. Animal rescue is a cause that I would give just about anything to.

The Holland House: Our Fur Babies
Our fur babies

My goal is to raise $1000 for Wags, Hope and Healing. I will personally match donations up to $200, and will have my employer match my donation as well. If you share my love for animal rescue, I ask that you find it in your heart to donate any amount that you are able to. If it means passing up a few Starbucks trips in order to make a $25 donation, then you will have enabled one dog to get a microchip. If you forgo a shopping trip this weekend and donate $100 instead, then you have paid for medication to cover mange, heart worm prevention, or a host of other ailments. Every dollar counts, and I hope that you'll join me in showing the love for any Austin non-profit who provides services that make our community a better place.

You can find my fundraising page here: Amplify Austin
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