Featured: MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal

Today the fine folks over at MyFitnessPal shared our story on their blog! We were so excited to speak with them and share some tips on how we use their app. MFP was absolutely instrumental in our weight loss and we are so happy that they chose us to represent the success possible through their company.

For those of you heading here from their blog: welcome and we’re glad you are here! Below are some links to articles we have written with handy tips and tricks to help you along your own fitness journey. Be sure to stick around, connect with us on Instagram, and thanks for visiting!

Resolve to be Healthier

Where to Begin on a Fitness Journey?

Training Tips for Adventure Racing

Ahh Sugar Sugar: 4 Replacement Ideas

Health and Wellness Hits the Road

Money Monday: Fitness on a Budget

Looking back on the most transformative year of our lives!

Oh did we mention that we are on Pinterest pinning ideas? Yep- Don’t miss it!

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Christmas 2014 Recap

Oh you know, it is half way through January so why not recap Christmas? #It’sNeverTooLate.

One of my favorite things about Mandy is the emphasis she places on tradition. A recurring theme of our family goals each year is maintaining our current traditions and creating new ones. No time during the year are these more apparent than around Christmas. Just like every family, we have tons of things we keep every year to celebrate the holiday season.

Christmas Tradition Game StrongShevolpthamalooza

Our kick off to Christmas each year is called Shevolpthamalooza. That already tongue-twisting name will just continue to get more difficult as our siblings get married. The day after Thanksgiving all of our siblings come over to play games and spend the night. I love this time to enjoy time with just the “kids”. We have done everything from homemade pizzas to Settlers of Catan to painting canvases. This event was the beginning of the Celebrity game that our high school students love to play. Eventually, as the families grow with kids, we hope to turn this day into a Family Olympics!

St. Nick

Mandy’s German family gave us this early December celebration. On the night of the 5th every year, you place your shoes outside and St. Nick comes to fill them with small goodies. The Sheppard’s are serious about St. Nick and gifts have been delivered wherever you can imagine. In fact one year, Mandy got a kettlebell in her shoes in New York City while we were on vacation!

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Story

Growing up, Melissa and I were the typical kids who woke up somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:47AM to begin Christmas morning. We would walk to my parents’ room, wake them up, and be told to wait until they had everything ready. For the next hour (or two or three), we would hear my Dad downstairs making coffee, building a fire, doing dishes – whatever he could to give my Mom the most time to sleep possible. During these long waits, my sister and I created the tradition of getting the Bible and reading the story of Jesus’ birth to each other. Now thanks to technology, we FaceTime each year and I read Luke 2 before either of our families dive into the things under the tree. This year we created a new traditions where we all had cinnamon rolls that we could enjoy on Christmas morning at our various homes so that we could feel like we were together even when we were apart.Festive Snowman Cinnamon Roll Tradition

Advent Candles

Mandy’s family celebrates Advent with a special wreath at each table with candles. A few years ago, they had to replace the Christmas tree that was their Grandmother’s and Mommy used the branches from that tree to make Advent wreaths for each of us. Every Sunday leading up to Christmas, we light one additional candle in the wreath and gather around the table for a family dinner. On Christmas Eve, we eat the traditional weinerschnitzel, German potato salad, and sauerkraut. Once everyone sits and all of the candles are lit, no one is allowed to get up from the table for any reason until everyone is finished and the candles have been blown out. We always have to use the restroom and be sure to grab the ketchup beforehand!

Christmas Date

Anyone who knows Mandy knows that date nights are just about her favorite thing in the entire world. Christmas is no exception so we created a day just for ourselves. With as many fantastic Christmas celebrations as we have with family, we always take a day out to spend just the two of us. I’ll get up and cook a big brunch where I can try out my fanciest breakfast recipes. We always go see a movie and go grab dinner at a new restaurant. It’s a special time to spend with each other, recharge our quality time tanks, and celebrate our favorite holiday together.Sleigh Ride Atlanta Style in a Pedi Cab

These are just a few of our traditions. What traditions do you do with your family during the Christmas season?

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State of Our Union 2015

Each year, we get together for a special tradition called our State of Our Union. It’s kind of like the marriage spin on the State of THE Union address. What can we say, we like a theme.

We use the SOOU to look back over the previous year and analyze what worked, what didn’t work, what we want to do again, and things we want to change in the upcoming year. Also, this is where we sit down and create our list of family goals for the year. We have broken things down into six categories: family/marriage, social, financial, spiritual, fitness/health, and business.Goal Setting SOOU

This year, we were lucky to be able to take a vacation for our kick-off. We went to Seven Springs Resort just outside of Pittsburgh, PA and got to ski, snow shoe, and relax as we looked forward to 2015. Each year, we go through and do an individual look back before we come together and discuss the year ahead. This way we aren’t influencing each others opinions and we can honestly process our view of the year. PA Advenutre

Here are some of the goals that we have set for 2015!

Family/Marriage: Take Brinkley on more walks and to the dog park more often, go to a marriage retreat
Financial: Create Adventure Fund, increase tithing
Social: Start having a Dinner Club, spend more time bonding with our small groups
Business: 5 new Fox Den Woodshop projects
Spiritual: Begin a new married small group, find a place to speak about issues that are part of our story
Fitness/Health: Mandy – Finish a half-marathon, try aerial silks; Conner – Complete a Spartan Trifecta, find my elusive abs

9acBBu1DC7oDsPLXHto-9_l2cGUgwfDDsxIZ8TgjxD4Those are just a few of the things we are working towards this year. What are your 2015 goals?

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Vision Owners

Last night, Mandy and I were thrilled to attend the first volunteer training session at the new home of Gwinnett Church. I’ve been lucky to go by the building a couple of times over the past few weeks, but last night was quite different. From the moment we walked in the door something felt more exciting, more expectant – even electric. The building is fantastic, but when you pack it full of the most passionate volunteers it takes it to a whole different level.

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Paul, Adam, Trey, Matt, Rica, Tim, Ryan, Jonathan, Davis – the GC worship dream team – kicked things off by literally shaking the walls. Seriously some of the best worship I have ever experienced. You guys absolutely rock!

One of the other awesome highlights was walking through all of the environments and seeing the level of thought and detail that was put into everything. The woodwork around the place obviously stuck out to me most of all, but everywhere you turned there was some other meaningful art piece. We saw photos of events that we attended through the years and found our signatures on the old #FORGwinnett sign. We saw the representation of the 280,000 unchurched people in Gwinnett County. We saw representations of the church’s mission and strategy. We even saw the colors in the mural that we helped paint in the children’s environment. Each detail looks fantastic; I think Mandy wants to get Lauren’s shopping list so that she can redecorate the house now!

small group room

However, more importantly than the physical building was the vision that Jeff shared with those of us that he called “vision owners”. The #FORGwinnett hashtag has spread quickly and represents one of our mission statements with which I could not agree more. For too long the church has been known for what it is against, but we want people to know that we and the God we serve are FOR them. As is the case anytime Jeff speaks, I was fired up big time.

We are so excited for this next chapter in the life of Gwinnett Church. Mandy and I are incredibly blessed to be involved with this staff, these volunteers, and these people. There is so much greatness ahead for the folks of Gwinnett County so let’s go have fun. Here’s to the crazy ones!

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Learning to be domestic

Eating out is probably the easiest thing you can do when you hate cooking or, in my case, can’t cook. I was very discouraged when an automatic switch didn’t turn on when I said “I do”, turning me into a domestic goddess. I mean, I thought by saying “I Do” it would create an instant knowledge base of how to make something other than dinner from a blue box.

I was wrong.

Dinners were burnt

There was not enough money to eat out every night.

And the tears flowed.

#TheStruggleIsReal

I began to question my ability to provide as a wife (Sorry to anyone gnashing their teeth right now at the thought that cooking is a wife-only duty).

Yes, Conner cooked frequently, but I needed to be able to cook too and prepare meals that I could invite people over to enjoy with us.

Luckily a sweet mentor friend stepped in with a few easy recipes once we identified that I just needed “simple” recipes with less than 3 ingredients in order to set myself up for success. Thus began my 101 in 1001 journey, which included new recipes to try.

Fast forward two years and that cooking journey transformed in to how to take these recipes and tweak them to our healthier lifestyle. Because let’s be honest…I thought making a whole box of penne pasta with meatballs was appropriate for two people.

Wrong.

Cooking ideas for a healthier lifestyle

So, we scoured the interwebs for easy recipes that could be tweaked for our meals. My favorite resources for recipes include Dashing Dish, Skinny Taste, Skinny Fork, and a cookbook called “America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook”.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Good-for-you Brownies

Stuffed Quinoa Peppers

Finally you have my Pinterest board with recipes I am working up the courage to make.

If you are looking to incorporate a healthy meal tonight, check out our favorite recipes. Also, if you have one that you usually love to make- send it my way because I am now a little more confident in the kitchen. But don’t send over a recipe if it has an ingredient I can’t pronounce or more than 5-6 ingredients because I will still get overwhelmed.

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State of our Union Goal: Filming 2014

Last year for Christmas, my mom gave my Uncle a really meaningful gift. It was a copy of all of my Grandfather’s home videos. The videos showed his travels, work, and moments with family. I thought this was the coolest thing to look back on to remember what it was like to live during that era and the everyday “little” moments that add up to a life time of memories. It made me realize that we don’t take enough videos, and the ones we do take are scattered across multiple devices which would make it nearly impossible for our future children to turn in to a Christmas present when they are adults.

For that reason, during our annual State of Our Union meeting, Conner and I chose to add “take more videos” to our 2014 family goals. I started out the year putting as many of the videos we already had on to USB drives and CD’s. This made me feel a little better that all of our memories were not merely snapshots but actually had some motion to it too.

As for new videos, we got busy filming every day moments. It was awkward at first because we had no idea what to film or what was worthy of documentation. A few of the videos we have shown here on the blog, but others got tucked away into the archives of our computers to keep for the future because who really wants to see a demo of me eating eggplant parmesan or a million videos of Brinkley.

Quote for New YearI love the quote “A Year from now, you will wish you had started today” because our 2014 video project culminated with a video being documented about our lives for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Crazy sauce.

AJC Weight loss VideoWhile our video challenge was a goal for 2014, I am going to fight for it to make a presence in our 2015 SOOU goal-setting meeting. We shall see what makes the cut after next weeks dinner!

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Resolve To Be Healthier

I am inspired every time I hear Lara Casey say that while you have to be intentional about goals, there is nothing special about January 1st. You can start at anytime to accomplish your goals. For us, that goal and start date was June 2nd, 2013.

Our healthy lifestyle change was a beast. We did not know we were so far out of shape and looking back I am just thankful we got up one day and started our journey to make a change!Before and After

I hate that we were so overweight, but honestly we grew so much as individuals and in our faith that I think it was a blessing and not a curse that we had to work hard to overcome the addiction of food that was a part of our lives. Honestly, I hate even going back through old pictures on my computer where we had taken photos of what we ate. They typically looked like this:

Cookie

Yeah that is a chocolate chip cookie from a drive thru that was filled with icing. Yuck!

We challenged ourselves at the beginning (560+ days ago) to workout for 20 minutes three days a week. After two weeks of not missing a day, we started a streak that is still going today. It was important to celebrate wins both early, and at milestones. We celebrated at first with weekly non-food prizes. Things like a new fitness book, a pedicure, or a day pass at a local gym. These prizes gave us motivation to keep running.

We incorporate active rest days that include lighter activity, but we do some type of exercise every single day. We love varying our routine and it includes swimming, running, walking, hiking, stadium runs, and weight lifting. You could say we are training for a triathlon with the variety we have incorporated into our routine.

Biking in SavannahSuccess doesn’t happen over night. You must keep pushing and appreciate where you are, how far you have come (big or small progress) and celebrate that success. Knowing that I put on the weight over the course of many years and that it was not going to just fall off was a big mind shift. I got discouraged at first when I had only lost a couple of pounds in the first two weeks. We stuck with it though and soon the weight came off pretty steadily. We trusted the process and didn’t let little slip-ups derail our overall success. It was important to celebrate wins both early, and at milestones.

Ellipticalling machineSo where do you begin? Start small because your strength and endurance will build up. Start with a walk around the block or even head to the swimming pool to get in a little water jogging. Whatever it is you choose to do, just get started because ultimately you will get leaner, stronger, and healthier. Simply fill out the form below and we will send over a printable that you can print to remind yourself of the goals you are setting today!

 

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