The 5 Year Obstacle Course

Today is our 5 year anniversary. I’ve started a small tradition of documenting my thoughts on our marriage each year (the last 2 years have been documented on this blog here and here). Five years seems like a big milestone – something worth reflecting on so the tradition continues. Here are my reflections on 5 years of marriage:

A few months ago, Blake and I completed our first obstacle race – The Savage Race in Charlotte, NC. The race included 27 obstacles over 5 miles. There was barely time to catch our breath before the next obstacle stood in front of us. Looking back, the race seems like a pretty accurate parallel to the first five years of our marriage. There have been a lot of obstacles; it’s fair to say we’ve barely had time to catch our breath before the next obstacle presented itself.

I know all marriages face a variety of obstacles. It wasn’t until recently when a friend mentioned that our marriage had been “a gauntlet” that I considered the thought that maybe Blake and I have faced more than a “normal” or “average” amount of challenge.

Much like the race, the obstacles we’ve faced have varied in difficulty, fun-factor (not all obstacles are bad), and our ability to conquer them.

Throughout the five years, financial obstacles and stress that come from starting and running a self-owned, local business have undoubtedly caused the most disagreement.

The death of my mom in 2013 and my brother in 2016 created distance at times as we navigated through the emotional struggle differently. Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult, but maybe even more difficult is attempting to help a spouse cope with the loss.

An early miscarriage in 2013 followed by the birth of a healthy and happy daughter in 2014 gave both perspective and excitement as we dove headfirst into the challenge of parenting – a challenge Blake excelled at immediately. Twenty-one months later, in 2016, we had another healthy, happy daughter. Growing our family has been the most challenging, fun, and rewarding obstacle yet.

In between the big, significant obstacles were smaller challenges  (kind of like the low crawl or fire jump in the Savage race)…slightly easier but still a distraction requiring focus and time – second jobs, buying a new home, career advancements and setbacks, the death of Blake’s beloved pup, the addition of a rambunctious and (sometimes) destructive new pup, long working hours, financial decisions, struggles with family members (illnesses and addiction), child-care situations, etc.

When we were completing The Savage Race, we were focused on surviving – completing the obstacles successfully and quickly. Tackle one obstacle and then on to the next. We weren’t focusing on how well we were communicating – we just communicated – sometimes encouragement, sometimes tough-love, sometimes we said what the other needed to hear and sometimes not. We weren’t savoring the moment or attempting to “grow closer” – we were just racing. The one thing we decided beforehand was that we were completing the race together… stay together, finish together… no man left behind.

If you read (almost) any marriage advice article, communication and making time for each other in order to grow closer are among the top priorities for a strong marriage. At times over the past five years, I’ve been discouraged because I was certain we were not checking the boxes of a “good, strong marriage.” We haven’t prioritized date-nights. We haven’t made a real effort to “work on us.” Our communication has been inconsistent – sometimes great, sometimes awful. But in comparing our marriage to the advice articles, I wasn’t taking into account the obstacles. Blake and I were on an obstacle course. And we were surviving. We were staying together… no man left behind.

Generally speaking, I like obstacles and challenges – in no way am I complaining about the hurdles we’ve faced. There are some over the past five years I wish never existed but there are also some I am incredibly thankful for. Because of the obstacles, we haven’t been intentional in growing our relationship, but as a result of the obstacles our relationship has grown. When you get through a gauntlet together, it kind of makes you think you can get through anything.

Going into the next five years and beyond, I expect more challenges and more obstacles. It would be great if there was a little more space between the obstacles… a little more time to catch our breath, to spend time on us; but even if “the gauntlet” continues, I know we will survive. We will stay together. We will finish together. No man left behind.

Here’s to many more years of whatever life throws our way! *(cue clinking beer bottles)*


Whole 30: The End (Day 25-30, and our Costco Shopping List!)


I know this is a little late but last Wednesday was officially our final day of Whole30. I can confidently say we both conquered the challenge with no cheating whatsoever. Boom!

Our overall feedback is as follows:

  • it’s really not THAT hard once you get started and find a routine
  • although we missed certain foods (and supplements), neither of us had overwhelming cravings… but we also weren’t coming from a place of awful eating beforehand
  • 30 days is a long time but also not that long. As long as you schedule a chunk of 30 days that doesn’t involve a lot of events or vacations, 30 days is totally do-able.
  • we will continue to implement most of the “rules” especially during the week because overall we did feel better and real food is good.
  • Costco saved us (we don’t go to WholeFoods or Trader Joes which seem to be staples for most Whole30ers. For us it was Costco, WalMart, and FoodLion so you don’t have to get too “crunchy” to master Whole30.

Speaking of Costco, here’s our bi-weekly shopping list for Costco that worked like a charm for us… literally covered 90% of the food we ate over the 30 days:

  • Brussell Sprouts (they sell huge bags of whole sprouts which we quarter and cooked a few times per week… one full bag quartered provided 4 generous servings which covered a dinner and lunch for both of us) – we bought about 3 bags every 2 weeks
  • Broccoli (again, huge bags… a half bag made 4 servings) – 2 bags every 2 weeks
  • Asparagus (8 servings per bag) – 1 bag
  • Mushrooms (for breakfast scrambles or the occasional stir fry)
  • Carrots (the snack size)
  • Sweet Potatoes (usually 2 bags per trip)
  • Red Potatoes
  • Peppers (for egg scrambles, taco meat, etc)
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Flank Steak
  • Ground Turkey
  • Ground Beef
  • (NOT Chicken… just wanted to note that chicken is cheaper at WalMart and FoodLion)
  • Chicken Sausage (Costco sells 2 compliant varieties of chicken sausage)
  • Individual Guac (a lifesaver!!)
  • Almond Butter (wwwwaaaayyyy cheaper than the grocery store)
  • Eggs (we went through about 60 eggs every 7-10 days… I’m not kidding!)

Our meals: Here are the our last 5 Whole30 meals…see previous blog posts for all of our meals… at the end of Whole30, I was most excited about not feeling obligated to take pictures of my meals… sometimes you just want to eat 🙂

Day 26:

Breakfast: Egg scramble with chicken sausage, spinach, mushrooms and 3 eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Turkey taco meat and broccoli

Dinner: Turkey burger with guac, asparagus and diced sweet potato (not pictured)

Day 27:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, apple

Lunch: leftover turkey burger from Day 26 plus baked red potato and broccoli

Dinner: Port tenderloin, brussel sprouts and roasted red potatoes 

Day 28: 

Breakfast: Boiled eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Page Road Grill! (Sam I Am burger with no bun and side salad)

Dinner: Compliant Sloppy Joes and brussel sprouts (one of my new favorite meals…seriously so good!!)

Day 29: 

Breakfast: Boiled Eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Leftovers from dinner Day 27

Dinner: Egg scramble with chicken sausage, mushrooms, green onion and spinach

Day 30:

Breakfast: Egg scramble with chicken sausage, mushrooms, green onion and spinach, and banana

Lunch: Sloppy joe leftovers from dinner Day 28, sweet potato and broccoli

Dinner: Grilled chicken, asparagus and baked potato 


So, there you have it. Our Whole30 journey in 5 blog posts and 30 meal pictures.

If you’re thinking about doing Whole30 on your own… I say GO FOR IT! Seriously, you won’t regret it but make sure you prepare and feel free to ask questions!!

Related Posts:

The 30 Days Before I Turn 30…

Whole 30: Day 1-6

Whole 30: Day 7-15

Whole 30: Day 16-25


Y’all, we are so close to finishing Whole30 which also means I am so close to being 30. Over the past 25 days or so, I’ve learned to chop, dice, poach, marinate, stir fry… and other cooking terms I’m still learning… like a PRO. Most evenings around 5:00pm I look exactly like the lady in the picture above… except no bonnet and I don’t wear purple (as a rule). As you probably know by now, Blake takes on most of the cooking duties in our house mainly for safety and survival reasons, but now I’m fairly certain I could last more than a week without burning down the house while also preparing healthy food.

So thanks Whole30… you have sort of domesticated me (just don’t tell anyone)!

Here we are, so close to being “done” with Whole30 but here’s the thing… I think we’re going to keep doing it. I mean not 100% (I will add in beer and Blake will add in his beloved workout supplements) but for the most part we will continue to follow the guidelines. Namely, limit our added-sugar intake, limit processed carbs, limit soy (turns out coconut aminos are pretty tasty), limit artificial ingredients, limit cheese and dairy… just kidding, I’m totally adding back cheese and ice cream 🙂

Our meals: At the start of Whole30, I vowed to be adventurous and varied in meal options.. turns out, that’s expensive. We’ve really settled into a routine of a handful of staple meals and sides. In addition to what you see below, Blake adds extra protein and at least one extra carb-y vegetable a day. If I’m still hungry, I may add an extra fruit or a tablespoon of almond butter.

At the end of Whole30, I’ll share our basic shopping list that has sustained 95% of our meals.

Day 16:

Breakfast: Egg scramble with chicken sausage, spinach, mushrooms and 3 eggs

Lunch: Leftover dinner from Day 15 – chicken fajita bake, brussel spouts, grapefruit, guac

Dinner: Turkey burger with fried egg and guac, sweet potato, broccoli

Day 17:

Breakfast: Boiled eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: leftovers from Day 16

Dinner: Egg scramble (normally I wouldn’t do eggs twice a day, but my sister went into labor with baby #3 so I was on babysitting duty for her 2 and my 2 … eggs are easy. 

Day 18: 

Breakfast: Fried eggs and kiwi (my sister has the best fruit at her house)! 

Lunch: Turkey taco meat with onions, broccoli, and sweet potato

Dinner: Again, this was a “wing it” meal since I was on kid duty – literally just grabbed a few things from our fridge on the way to my sisters house – so chicken sausage, mushrooms, onions, asparagus and a little balsamic all together in a pan…. turned out pretty delicious!

Day 19: 

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Grilled chicken, brussel sprouts, sweet potato

Dinner: Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin, red potatoes, asparagus

Day 20:

Breakfast: Fried eggs, watermelon

Lunch: Sushi! Sashimi and Rainbow Naruto Roll (not-pictured but it involves only fish and cucumber)

Dinner: Left overs from Day 19 dinner

Day 21: 

Breakfast: Breakfast Casserole, watermelon, black coffee (to be clear, I drink at least one cup of coffee per day for survival)

Lunch: Grilled chicken, broccoli, russet potato

Dinner: Burger, fried egg, brussel sprouts, baked sweet potato chunks

Day 22: 

Breakfast: Breakfast Casserole, watermelon

Lunch: Left overs from Day 21 dinner

Dinner: Chicken, broccoli, mushroom stir fry (we used balsamic instead of soy sauce but since have gotten coconut aminos which tastes really similar to soy sauce), sweet potato

Day 23: 

Breakfast: Breakfast Casserole, grapefruit

Lunch: Leftovers from dinner Day 22 plus a banana

Dinner: Pork chops, russet potatoes, broccoli

Day 24: 

Breakfast: 3 boiled eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Leftovers from dinner Day 23

Dinner: Flank steak, brussel sprouts

Day 25: 

Breakfast: 3 boiled eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Leftovers from dinner Day 24

Dinner:Turkey taco meat, russet potatoes, broccoli


Stay tuned….


Related Posts:

The 30 Days Before I Turn 30…

Whole 30: Day 1-6

Whole 30: Day 7-15

Whole30: Day 7-15

We’re past the halfway point of Whole30. 15 days seems like a really long time and but also not that long. It’s a weird amount of time. Here are our thoughts half way through.

My thoughts: Really, Whole30 is not that hard. Still the hardest part is preparing food every night. Like actually cooking. But really, cooking actual dinner in kind of nice. At this point, I’m kind of “used” to Whole30 – it’s only inconvenient if we want to go out to eat but other than that, I could totally see us eating like this for longer than 30 days. I mean cheese is good, but I don’t really miss it. I do miss ice cream.

Blake’s thoughts: “Whole3o is really not bad after the first week. I feel like I have a great routine now. It is nice not to have track my Calories all the time. Stomach issues went away after the first couple of days. I don’t think I have felt better ever. I think overall it’s really good for me and I want to stick with the eating portions of this once I finish 30 days. Also, never slept better than I am now” ~ Blake

Clearly, Blake’s a fan. 

What We’ve Learned: 

  • We don’t know how to effectively poach eggs. See pic below…this is not a joke.

  • Blake definitely needs at least 2 more servings of protein and 2 more servings of carb-y veggies per day
  • If I’m still hungry after dinner, I have a spoonful of almond butter (sometimes 2). I definitely try to be careful here – Whole30 really stresses the importance of eating for fuel as opposed to habit so I really try to make sure I’m actually hungry first and only eat a little bit – almond butter packs a lot of energy in just 1 tablespoon.

Our meals: Admittedly our meals are getting more repetitive because it’s easier and cheaper to just buy the same stuff over and over again and plus I don’t have the time or patience for meals that require more than 5 ingredients or 30 minutes of time.

Day 7:

Breakfast: Breakfast casserole (recipe modified to include spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms and compliant chicken sausage)

Lunch: Pork chops, brussel spouts and sweet potato

Dinner: Cilantro lime chicken with pico, roasted red potatoes, zucchini 

Day 8:

Breakfast: Breakfast casserole (recipe modified to include spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms and compliant chicken sausage)

Lunch: leftovers from Day 7 (minus zucchini, plus acorn squash)

Dinner: Flank steak, sweet potato bites, asparagus

Day 9: 

Breakfast: Breakfast casserole (recipe modified to include spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms and compliant chicken sausage) and banana

Lunch: Leftovers from Day 8 dinner

Dinner: Pork chops, broccoli, brussel sprouts (this is the most half-assed meal we’ve cooked so far)

Day 10: 

Breakfast: Egg scramble – eggs+chicken sausage, tangelo (orange/tangerine hybrid)

Lunch: Leftover dinner from Day 9 (minus brussel sprouts, add acorn squash)

Dinner: Jalenpeno Turkey Burger with fried egg, avocado, and broccoli (we tried to do poached eggs on top, but that worked out really badly so fried eggs to the rescue)

Day 11:

Breakfast: Boiled eggs and grapes

Lunch: Leftover dinner Day 10 plus sweet potato bites. 

Dinner: Roasted pork roast with spicy cinnamin rub and apples, brussel spouts, red potatoes

Day 12: 

Breakfast: Egg scramble with apple chicken sausage

Lunch: Left overs from Day 11 dinner

Dinner: Lettuce tacos with ground beef taco meat, pico, salsa verde and guac. 

Day 13: 

Breakfast: Egg scramble with chicken sausage and spinach

Lunch: Left overs from Day 12 dinner

Dinner: QShack QCobb salad – brisket, turkey, romaine, avocado, tomato, egg (sadly, no dressing and no hush puppies)

Day 14: 

Breakfast: Hard boiled eggs, grapefruit

Lunch: Grilled chicken, broccoli, sweet potato bites

Dinner: Flank steak and asparagus

Day 15: 

Breakfast: Egg scramble with chicken sausage, mushrooms and spinach, and grapefruit

Lunch: Page Road Grill – Sam I Am Burger (no bun) and side salad. The burger came with fried egg, avocado, salsa verde, tomato and red onion 

Dinner: One Pan Chicken Fajitas and brussel sprouts

50% of the way through and still going strong-ish.

Stay tuned..

Whole 30: Day 1-6

As many of you know, Blake and I started Whole30 last Tuesday… exactly 30 days before I turn 30. We are now 20% through the “experience” – here’s our feedback, what we’ve learned so far, and the meals we’ve been eating.

My thoughts: Whole30 has been a lot easier this time around than it was last time… mostly because I’m eating a wider variety of foods and Blake is doing it with me – it’s nice to have company. Preparing and cooking dinner every night takes a lot of time. It’s really challenging to feed a baby and a toddler while chopping up meat and veggies… if a recipe says the “prep time” is 10 minutes, I now quadruple that estimate for a more appropriate approximation. Also, if you make the whole meal prep/feeding kids challenge a game, it’s actually kind of fun (keys to the “game”: wash your hands every 2 minutes – onions, jalapeno, and raw meat don’t mix well with baby feeding, keep the knives out of toddler reach, and make sure the smoke alarm doesn’t go off because that terrifies everyone). The biggest change I’ve noticed since starting Whole30 is that I’m sleeping a lot better. Usually I wake up multiple times per night, but over the past few nights, I’ve been sleeping a lot more soundly. Last thought: I really have to pay attention to EVERYTHING I eat – multiple times I’ve caught myself right before “testing” the doneness of Ryan’s macaroni or licking my fingers after fixing Carter a PB&J… those little habits are hard to break and easy to overlook if I’m not paying attention.

Blake’s thoughts: “I’ve had some digestive issues, seriously I’ve pooped nonstop for 2 days… must be the sweet potatoes. Hopefully that gets better. My goal is to figure out if all my workout supplements are helping or hurting me, I don’t know the answer yet but I really miss the pump my pre-workout gives me in the morning. I don’t miss caffeine as much as I thought I would thanks to La Croix water. So far the recipes we’ve tried have been really good but I definitely need to eat more food! I’m not going to quit.” ~ Blake

Ok, it’s me (Kat) again and before I move on I would like to thank Blake for his candid response. LOL.

What we’ve learned so far: 

  • The key to Whole30 is preparation. The best practice we’ve implemented is to immediately package our lunches for the next day when we finish cooking dinner (even before we actually eat dinner). We’re used to taking leftovers for lunch but by packaging our lunch before we eat dinner we ensure we’re getting the proper serving of food for both meals. When you look at our meals below you’ll notice most lunches are simply leftovers of dinner the night before.
  • Blake NEEDS more food. Obviously this is true – he’s a boy, he has a more strenuous job and he’s bigger than me. Blake becomes HANGRY if he isn’t consuming enough calories. Whole30 has nothing to do with calories… you can basically eat as much as you want of the “compliant” foods but for planning purposes we bought a specific amount of food and didn’t take into account that Blake would NEED more so we had to make a end-of-week grocery store trip to get more starchy veggies/fruits (read: potatoes and bananas) and more protein (read: chicken and canned tuna). After adding a few extra servings of each macro (protein, carb, fat) Blake is a much nicer person.
  • Cooking almost all meals requires a lot of dishes. Thankful for our dishwasher!
  • Guacamole is good with everything.
  • There are so many sneaky additives in seemingly normal food. Prepackaged lemon juice has sulfites. Every single vegetable broth at Kroger has added sugar. Most prepackaged deli meats (including sausage and bacon) have added sugar.

Our meals:

These are the primary meals we’ve eaten over the past 6 days. Whole30 discourages “snacking” unless we are truly hungry. I’ve added an extra piece of fruit to some lunches so I would make it to dinner time. Blake has been adding one extra mini-meal of protein and starch (usually chicken/tuna + potato/apple).

Day 1:

Breakfast: Hard boiled eggs and strawberries

Lunch: Cilantro lime grilled chicken with guac, broccoli, and a sweet potato

Dinner: Balsamic glazed flank steak, roasted red potatoes, and balsamic brussel sprouts  

Day 2:

Breakfast: Egg scramble with mushrooms and green pepper, and a banana

Lunch: leftovers from Day 1 dinner

Dinner: One pan chicken fajita bake

Day 3: 

Breakfast: Hard boiled eggs and grapes

Lunch: Leftovers from Day 2 dinner

Dinner: Jalapeno turkey burger with roasted sweet potato and broccoli

Day 4: 

Breakfast: Breakfast casserole <– we modified this recipe to include spinach, bell pepper, mushroom, onioin, and chicken sausage

Lunch: Leftover dinner from Day 3

Dinner: Pork chops, roasted red potatoes, and roasted asparagus

Day 5:

Breakfast: Breakfast casserole and grapes

Lunch: Blake had all of the Day 4 dinner leftovers. I had fried eggs, sweet potato, and broccoli

Dinner: Roasted chicken with sausage and potatoes

Day 6: 

Breakfast: Egg scramble with apple chicken sausage and mushrooms

Lunch: Left overs from Day 5 dinner

Dinner: Smoked pork rib roast (rubbed with this concoction of spices), roasted balsamic brussel sprouts, and sweet potato 

So, 20% of the way through and we’re still sticking with it. Our next update will come on Day 13 when we’re about 40% through. According to the Whole30 timeline we should be through the “hardest days” and on the verge of “boundless energy.” As parents to a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old, “boundless energy” seems about as real as the Easter Bunny.

Stay tuned..


The 30 Days Before I Turn 30…


In a little over a month I turn 30. Kinda crazy. I certainly don’t feel 30 and based on the number of times I get carded I don’t look 21 so the fact that I’m actually going to be 30 is a little unbelievable but time doesn’t lie. Before I turn 30 I want to do something cool – a lot of people create a list of 30 things to do before turning 30 but I don’t have time for that… did I mention my birthday is just over a month away?? Then I had this thought: Whole30 in the 30 days before I turn 30. I like numbers. So once I thought this, it HAD to happen. You may remember I’ve done Whole30 once before. I’m up for the challenge again.

Blake is joining me this time (YAY!!) and we did a quick live video on Facebook about it last night… it’s the first time I’ve “gone live” and it was pretty fun …here’s the video for your viewing pleasure:


In approximately 4 days we will start this Whole30 “journey” together. Side note: anyone else think it’s weird how everything is a “journey” now. I don’t love it… I’ll try to not use the word “journey” when talking about our Whole30 “experience.” We’re going to follow ALL of the rules because if we don’t it’s not really Whole30, right? This means no workout supplements or Shakeology for the whole 30 days. You guys probably know we both drink Shakeology pretty much every day but it’s always good to take a break from the easy nutrition option and go for the real thing – real whole foods all day, ‘ery day. Blake also relies on his pre and post-workout shakes so this will be a change for him. Another rule: no beer (alas beer has gluten). Obviously I can go without beer (I’ve done it for 2 – 9 month intervals while pregnant with our babes) but still.

Unlike last time, Blake and I will be documenting our journey experience primarily through my facebook “like” page but also occasionally here on the blog and on my personal facebook page so make sure to “like” my page and “friend” me if you want to follow along. I think one of the “unofficial” rules of Whole30 is to make sure EVERYONE knows you’re doing it so we’re just trying to cover our bases here. We’ll share what we’re eating (recipes), how we’re feeling, and general feedback.

Here’s my main goal: to not feel like crap when I turn 30. I don’t necessarily feel like crap now, but I know I could feel better. I tend to use being pregnant and breastfeeding as an excuse to eat what I want so I haven’t been the healthiest eater over the past year and can stand to make some drastic improvements to get back on track. Blake on the other hand eats 90% clean and is an excellent cook so I’m pretty excited to have him on my team in this… I’m preparing for gourmet Whole30 compliant meals.

One last thing, we will both be working out while doing Whole30. Exercise is an ESSENTIAL part of Blake’s day. I could stand to use some improvement in the consistency department so I’m using the Whole30 experience to also get back into a consistent workout routine and really feel great when I hit the big 3-0… maybe I’ll even have some abs by then (one can dream… I mean, it might actually happen). For further clarity, we both do different workout programs using the same streaming service so no gyms or anything like that… if we’re going to be cooking all meals and by “we” I mean Blake, a’int nobody going to have time for extra hassle in the workout department.

The 4 day count down is on… we officially start March 7th (30 days prior to April 6th… which is my birthday). This weekend we will be buying food and planning some meals in addition to normal parenting duties. Costco, here we come…

Can’t wait to keep you guys updated on Whole30 “experience!