Head South to Schlitterbahn for a Texas #BeachHoliday

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort and US Family Guide.

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My husband and I are always looking for great places to travel, especially, in Texas. This holiday season, we’re looking to experience something different and heading to the Schlitterbahn Resort on South Padre Island is sure to deliver a unique experience. Why not head to the beach during the holidays?

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Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort makes a wonderful family getaway. The kids will love the indoor waterpark, while Mom and Dad can enjoy the slow pace of the island, plus many a heated pools. It’s been a while since I’ve been to South Padre Island and I’m looking forward to experiencing what the island has to offer in the off season. This should be a great road trip!

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Excerpt from US Family Guide Texas:

Experience the Valley’s premier entertainment destination on Texas’ island jewel. This beach paradise features a 221 room resort hotel, indoor waterpark, full service restaurants and more. Enjoy 11 world-class attractions, roar down twin water slides, feast at the Shrimp Haus full-service restaurant or kick back and relax on the beach. Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark and Resort is the perfect combination of family adventures and state-of-the-art attractions, right on Texas’ favorite beach. Experience the beach atmosphere, unique mix of attractions including a great carousel and the award-winning Torrent river system. Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark and Resort is the perfect Beach Holiday. Book Yours Today!  

 Thank you to US Family Guide for sponsoring this post and providing the opportunity to visit and review Schlitterbahn Resort & Waterpark – South Padre Island, Texas. Travel review coming soon to xtine danielle! I’m always excited to showcase what our great state has to offer as a part of my #TravelTexas blog series!

Are you traveling during the holidays?

Would you ever consider a beach vacation in December?

What’s your idea of the perfect winter vacation?

Honey Nut Cheerios & Usher Partner to Inspire Your Morning Routine This Holiday Season

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by General Mills.

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With the holidays upon us (finally!), we all wish there were more hours in the day. It’s my absolute favorite time of year but boy, is it a busy one! There’s the event planning, gift shopping, stocking stuffing, tree trimming, holiday partying, present wrapping, cooking, baking, traveling, enjoying time with our loved ones, etc. With so much to do, how we start our days off is important! That’s why I’m so excited about Honey Nut Cheerios teaming up with Usher to help you kick off your mornings in a fun, heart healthy way.

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Check out the exclusive campaign video of Usher and Buzz The Bee!

 Start Your Day On a Positive Note

I love waking up with a good breakfast, good music, and a grateful heart. There’s no better way to amp up your day than to listen to the music you love. Around my house on the weekends, you can usually catch me dancing in my pajamas to Beyonce while the coffee brews. Yes, my husband thinks I’m a little crazy but he’s gotten used to it over the years.

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I’ve loved Honey Nut Cheerios since I was a kid. I like to accompany mine with fat-free skim milk but they’re also really good on their own. For one ¾ cup serving plain, you’re eating 110 calories. With ½ cup of skim milk, you’ll clock 150 calories per bowl. Heart healthy Honey Nut Cheerios contain 15g of whole grain per serving. They are known for their “wholesome goodness” and can help lower your cholesterol.

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Get Your Exclusive Usher Song With Your Next Box of Honey Nut Cheerios

Now through the end of the year, you can pick up this exclusive Usher edition Honey Nut Cheerios box only available at Walmart. In each box, you get a code so you can go online and download Usher’s new song, “Clueless” – this promotion is the only way to get the song! Remember your code must be redeemed by December 31, 2014.

Click here to download your $1 off Honey Nut Cheerios coupon!

Special thanks to General Mills and Usher for sponsoring today’s post and for providing such yummy inspiration to write about. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for reading!

What’s your morning routine during the busy holiday season?

Nystagmus and Neurology Update – Over 2.5 Years Post-Op

I cannot emphasize what an absolute blessing it is to live in Houston, Texas and just minutes away from the Texas Medical Center. I truly feel privileged and I honestly believe that I would not be here today if it hadn’t of been for the immediate and incredible care that I received at Park Plaza Hospital and Memorial Hermann. It has been awhile since I’ve updated you on my recovery.

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It’s been two years, eight months, and twenty days since my brain stem surgery and removal of my cavernous malformation by Dr. Arthur Day of the Mischer Institute at Memorial Hermann. (To catch up on my brain surgery back story, start with my very first blog posts).

Today was a very special day. Today, I found hope.

Her name is Dr. Erin Furr-Stimming, Neurologist and Movement Disorders Specialist practicing at the UT Physicians Neurology Clinic in the Texas Medical Center.

It’s taken me a while through out my recovery to see the right doctors, get the right information, and learn the new ways of living my life post-malformation. One of the only, yet major, conditions I still deal with post-op is my nystagmus.

My nystagmus is characterized by the involuntary movement and vertical shaking of my eyes. In other words, my eyes go up and down 24/7 and I can’t stop it. There are different types of this condition and from the majority of research that I’ve read, people are usually born with it (congenital nystagmus) and in most cases, it tends to be horizontal (from side to side). My case differs greatly because my nystagmus was acquired, I wasn’t born with it. It started as a symptomatic result from the hemorrhage in my brain stem… we think.

Ah, the brain and its many wonders.

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Neurology is so fascinating and our brains are incredible. I’m still astonished by the advancements in medicine that saved my life and the neurologists, nurses, and other doctors that I’ve been blessed to encounter along the way. They truly inspire me and the woman I met today is no exception.

Today’s visit with Dr. Erin Furr-Stimming included a number of tests (physical, coordination, and visual), a comprehensive review of my medical history, as well as, reviewing the extensive vision testing and exams I had when seeing Dr. Rosa Tang, Neuro-Opthamalogist, a few months ago. I was also really happy when they asked to document my shaking eyes by making a video. I am ALL for education about these issues and was so happy to help with this. I’ll do my best to get these video clips to share here, on my blog, so you guys can visually see what’s going on with these eyes of mine.

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Art Credit: Ileana Hunter

Houston, we have a plan!

Back to today’s visit. It’s taken me a while but I finally found the Doctor who has a plan to try and remedy this nystagmus. I could hardly believe my ears when she confirmed that there are available medications on the market that are being used to treat nystagmus although, the research and data are rare and small in size.

Of course, with any medication, it’s going to be trial and error to see how my body and my brain react. I am well aware of this. I do, however, have hesitation to utilize these medications because I’m afraid to worsen my condition. I will be conducting further research and learning more about these drugs but I will go ahead and share the information I do have so far…

Nystagmus Medications:

  • Lorzone; Parafon Forte DSC – also used to calm muscles
  • Ampyra – also used to treat MS (multiple sclerosis)

Again, I must disclose that going into these possible treatments, I am scared. I am so grateful to God each and every day to wake up and be able to SEE. I am grateful for the vision I DO have even though, it’s not what I’ve been used to for the first 25 years of my life. I did not wake up blind as a result of my brain stem surgery and I don’t suffer from chronic double vision all of the time (these have been results of similar surgeries to mine) and I know I am lucky.

But, of course, I feel that I owe it to myself to see if this is something that we can fix with modern day medicine and health technology.

So! Medication is an option but first, we will try formal Vision Therapy – which I had NO idea even existed. I am being referred to Dr. Bhavani Iyer, Neuro-Optometrist at The Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, and cannot wait to schedule my appointment and begin therapy with her!

I will, of course, continue to blog about my experience on this nystagmus journey, so stay tuned for more updates as they come. (You can subscribe to my blog by email on the widget located in the right side bar.)

Further Research On Nystagmus by Dr. Timothy Hain

Another amazing thing I learned from my awesome visit today was the new research out there by Dr. Timothy Hain, a neurologist who specializes in balance disorder. He’s making tremendous strides in neurology research by educating people about nystagmus, also known as Oscillopsia, and how it affects those of us who have it.

With this condition, you truly do have to learn how to see the world in a whole new way. Your brain has to learn how to process these new images because they are constantly moving. You have to be able to compensate for the time that it takes to register these things, that’s why my proximity when driving is pretty terrible. I have to be extra cautious and careful but it’s a blessing to be able to get around. Yes, I drive like an old lady and my husband makes fun of me for it but I don’t care! I will always rather be safe than sorry. Let’s arrive alive, people! Ha! (For more on my tips for driving with nystagmus, visit this post.)

Please visit Dr. Hain’s fantastic work on “Oscillopsia: Bouncing Vision” on the Gentamicin Information Center website. I encourage you to view these incredible videos and read his accurate depiction of this mysterious condition. I am so in awe of his explanation and recreations of what it’s like for us because it’s so dead on. I haven’t yet seen any nystagmus research anywhere like this before! It really has helped me to better understand my condition.

7 Keys to Living the Life You Want

Earlier this month, Toyota sent me to experience the Houston stop of Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour. It was a very fun, very inspiring and very busy two days. Honestly, it’s taken me some time just to let everything sink in and simmer. In this post, I’m sharing my lessons learned when it comes to living the life you want inspired by Oprah and her Life Trailblazers.

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7 Keys to Living the Life You Want

1. Gratitude

First and foremost, living life with an attitude of gratitude will propel you in the right direction always. At whatever stage you are in your life, even if you’re not where you want to be, you must always be grateful. YOU ARE ALIVE. Take a moment and just stop. Close your eyes and focus on your next few breaths… Wow, you are BREATHING. If there is air in your lungs, you have life and the ability to DO.

“Living the life you want begins by embracing the life you have. Your life is miraculous.” -@RealRobBell

Rob Bell did an incredible job of driving this point to all of us in the audience. We may not know why bad things happen but because we are able to move past them, we should be grateful.

“Suffering raises all sorts of questions but so does grace and gratitude.” -@RealRobBell

2. Inspiration

Living an inspired life is essential to living the life you want. Wherever you find your source of inspiration, keep it coming. Amy Purdy mentioned how her biggest inspiration is seeing others live their dreams. I have to agree!

3. Service

‘Everyone has the power for greatness — not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.’ Even before I first heard my all-time favorite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I knew in my heart that the message was true. As far back as I can recall, my prayer has been the same: ‘Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.'” – Oprah Winfrey

Further reading/inspiration: Oprah’s Favorite MLK Quote (VIDEO) via Huffington Post  

4. Self Awareness

Deepak Chopra is a master meditation guru. The thousands of us that were on hand for the Life You Want Tour in Houston were in for a very special treat. We all got to experience a guided meditation with Deepak and Oprah. It was incredible! I’m pretty sure this was on my bucket list, I just didn’t know it yet.

It’s so important to be self-aware and take time for yourself. Take time each day to meditate and just enjoy the silence, take this time to listen to your body and listen to your life. Clear your mind and just breathe!

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Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

5. Connection

Oprah made an awesome point about how we, as humans, want to know that we matter. We want to know we matter to our husbands and wives, to our friends, to our family members, to our employers, to the stores we choose to shop at, etc. It’s important to realize this and acknowledge the ones around you. Let them know how much they truly matter to you.

6. Balance

One of the exercises in the Life You Want Tour workbook was to take a look at our lives today and all the different components of it. Oprah had us rate our happiness with each of the categories. It’s important to take a look at your life and see where your attention may need to be redirected. Is there anything missing?

A few of the life category examples included: friendships, body/health/well-being, occupation, hobbies and passions, home, financial situation, spouse/partner/mate, family/children/grandchildren/parents, contribution to the world, and spirituality/faith/beliefs.

Oprah utilized this exercise so that we can realize where we are now and then use this knowledge to create a better life vision to go after for achieving a better future and the lives we want.

7. Evolution

Always improve. Oprah said it herself that she is always reaching for a better tomorrow. We should always strive to live our greatest life and be our best selves.

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Is there anything you would add to this list? 

Free & Customizable Weight Loss Journal Printable

I’ve received a lot of feedback from my post about How To Make an Awesome Weight Loss Binder. Thanks for all the great comments! I’m so glad to hear that this tutorial has been helpful for so many of you.

Today, I’m so excited to share a free printable to get you guys started with food journaling. Remember, you’ll want to tailor this document to YOUR needs.. whatever weight loss plan you may be following, be sure to make the proper adjustments.

free weight loss printable, free food diary journal template,  food journaling, how to make a weight loss binder The whole idea of this food diary template is to make it easy for you to keep on track and stay on plan. After all, the more organized you are, the smoother your weight loss will go. This food diary should help you with meal planning, as well.

When you start your day, actively think about what you’ll take with you for lunch at work. Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand. Also, I really recommend adding your calorie count goals and tracking with My Fitness Pal – especially, for the first few weeks while you’re still figuring out your staple diet foods (like chicken breast, fish, veggies, etc.).

Here’s what the food diary looks like. As you can see, it’s super simple!

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-Click Here To Download Your Free Food Diary Printable-

You’ll also want to log your exercise for the day!

Another great feature about this food diary is it helps you track your water in take! For weight loss, you’ll want to get in at least 80 oz. of water per day. That’s 10 8 oz. glasses. If you drink 16 oz. water bottles, then that’s at least 5 a day! :)

Aim to drink at least one glass before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For weight loss, you should be drinking A LOT of water through out the day. This is just something you’ve got to get used to. Your body will THANK YOU. Yes, plan for many more trips to the restroom, but it’s well worth it once you begin to see the results. Water intake is SUCH an important key to weight loss!

For more tips on how to tailor your food diary, check out my blog post about How To Set Yourself Up for Weight Loss Success by Food Journaling.

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