Blog: Lifestyle

Life is Beautiful. I love serving the world by capturing beautiful family memories, encouraging others to believe in life’s greatest possibilities, and inspiring others to realize their full potential. Everyone has a story... make it a beautiful one.  

Powerful Benefits of Eating Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Today we live in a society that disease is on the rise.  Common diseases include arthritis, heart, diabetes, cancer amongst others.  When I was going through my journey with gestational diabetes, I became familiar with foods that are anti-inflammatory.  Inflammation to the body is the root cause for a lot of known diseases and with the help of anti-inflammatory foods, they can help alleviate or combat the inflammation in our bodies. Learning about inflammation made me realize how I needed to take step back from unhealthy food choices not only for weight, but for my body to function as well.  Incredible what our bodies can do for us and in return we need to be more mindful on how we nourish it.  It’s powerful to know what foods play a role in our bodies.

what is inflammation? Inflammation of the body  is a response that happens when your body is being attacked and it cannot function properly. Well just say that when the body is being attacked by invaders, antioxidant rich foods fight the invaders off.  Sounds like a Star Wars Movie but in the body to me.

Moving away from overly processed foods like fast food, soda, refined sugars, and processed meets, to eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean meats, superfoods, and whole grains are healthful to eliminate inflammation in the body. The produce drawer in the fridge is your best friend.  Fill it with green leafy vegetables, celery, Broccoli, beets, fruits like blueberries high in antioxidants, citrus.  Your pantry should be filled with whole grains like quinoa, farro, and nuts and seed like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.  I drink a daily shake rich in antioxidants and perfect for helping with inflammation of the body.

Here is a list of more foods that can help with inflammation:

  • Tomatoes
  • Salmon
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinapple
  • Tumeric
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Peppers
  • Apples
  • Shakeology

The nutrition plan that I have followed for last five and half years has helped me focus on putting foods rich in antioxidants and are anti inflammatory to the body.  With being high risk for many diseases in the family like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer , its been a priority for me to really hone in on these types of foods. I eat 4 cups of vegetables and 3 cups or equivalent of fruit daily.  Sounds like a lot but in the big picture, I know that I am giving my body the nourishment it needs daily.

Our bodies deserve the best and from the best of the best of foods.

Happy Eating!

Amber

If you are interested to know more about nutrition and a food plan that is right for you, contact me here

 

 

 

Ways to Become Self Aware to Achieve Your Goals

One thing I have learned through my journey wether it be motherhood, my health and fitness journey or learning to navigate myself through anxiety, the first step that has helped me through is being self aware. Being self aware is the idea that we have self control of our behaviors. We are able to take a look and evaluate ourselves.
So why is it important? Being self aware can help you control your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. I have found that being self aware is essential and can help you have success in motherhood, leadership skills, establishing good healthy lifestyle habits or whatever path you may be on right now in your current season.
Through the process of being self aware it has help me to overcome negative thinking and propel myself forward in the growth process. I’ve been able to come to know myself just a little more and why I am the way I am. It’s helped to understand others.
Ways that have helped me to become more self aware with myself and have helped me to make better habits:

Personality tests- I know this may sound silly but really they help! I have taken the Enneogram test that is really hot right now amongst all the personal growth community. It’s a priest accurate test. It’s divided into types and my top two are type 4 and type 3. Type fours are authentic, expressive and creative individuals but can be can get depressed easily. Type threes are leaders, motivators, and goal oriented but can be total work alcoholics. Knowing my type called me too see my many strengths, but to realize me weaknesses so I can better work at them.

Journaling- journaling is a great way to connect with your thoughts. To get thought out on paper wether they be positive or even negative. It helps you to understand what you are thinking. Writing gratitudes or even writing down our current struggles has been proven to increase our happiness levels.

Daily self reflection- when you look in the mirror what do see? Look in the mirror everyday and compliment yourself on something… doesn’t matter what it is. Tell yourself something positive like your confident or beautiful. It sounds weird and maybe narcissistic to some, but the truth giving yourself that positive affirmation everyday gives your brain a confidence boost!

Ask questions- ask yourself honest questions like “how can I improve today?”, “how can I serve?” These can be great journal prompts to do before you start your day.

Write down your goals and track your progress- tracking yourself will help you see how far you have come.

Becoming self aware is a process but taking consistent action everyday will give you opportunity to really become aware of how you feel even in moments that you feel anxious and overwhelmed.
I challenge you to try these 5 steps this week and see how you feel!
Be Awesome,
Amber

Finding Brave From My Past

I sit here writing this post today in a very vulnerable state. I write this not only to tell my story but maybe perhaps one that reads this can relate and know that whatever you maybe going through right now in life, there is hope and many blessings that come along the way.

I was born into this world on August 12, 1984 which was a Sunday to be exact. I was born to a mom and dad and as a baby born I had no cares of the world. I grew up with no understanding of the life I was brought into.  I don’t remember much about the divorce but I know it happened. I remember being raised by my mother who at the time was single and raised me in our family’s hotel with help by my grandmother.  I always saw her as my second mother in life, and grateful for her.  Growing up not knowing much about the divorce it seemed to be kept a secret, instead of it being something I used an excuse, I look at it as a blessing, that because of this man I hardly knew, a beautiful daughter, wife, mom and individual was born.

At the age of 5 my mom got remarried to another man that I would learn to call dad.  He did so many good things for me throughout my life and he even went through the adoption process to make it official.  I was still young, but I remember that day… Heck both my parents asked if I wanted to change my name just because I could but I loved my name so kept it. I did have a middle name Renee but dropped it in the adoption process.

Life seemed pretty good, though I remember lying in bed and thinking…. they are arguing again but I just ignored it.  We moved around a a lot and remember I always had a hard time finding friends because I either got pushed out of the group for reasons unknown or we moved again. It was hard and confusing to find my place in life.  At the age of 11 my father was in a massive drunk driving accident that led him to go through major back surgeries with him and my mom commuting back and forth from the bay area.  I remember for a while that our living room was a at home hospital room.

This event took a huge tole on our family.  The arguments progressed especially about money, the depression was more noticeable and I would take on a lot more responsibility as the oldest child of 3.  The depression was the hardest thing to live with growing up.  To see the pain and suffering it causes someone you love and unaware of it, it starts to creep on to you like slo moving snake.

Because of the depression, it lead to even more strife that would later lead to another divorce.

I love my parents and know they did the best they could with the circumstances they were handed. They taught me to be brave and overcome struggle to an exceptional person because of it. Because of the arguments of money, I am motivated to provide a life for my children were they don’t have to see mom and dad argue about money.  Because of divorce I am a better wife and mom because I want my children to know what it is like to have a mom and dad who love each other unconditionally.  Because of depression, I strive to be a better version of myself both physically and mentally for me and my family because depression sucks.  It really causes more unnecessary pain and shame to ones personal life.

I have lived my whole entire 34 years of life pretending like this didn’t bother me, but the truth is, its held me back because of my own pain and shame I never new I had.  I always tried to find love in all the wrong places, I was needing to achieve something to feel that love I was seeking, and I felt I was always seeking love from others that was never there that led me down a path of unworthiness in my self and feeling shameful of who I really was as a person.

We can find brave from our past.  Our past doesn’t have to define who we are.  We can learn break free from those moments that led us to believe we weren’t good enough.  Without even realizing it, my past was holding me back because I didn’t know who the real me was.  I was so in my head of worry and fear, I couldn’t get to know the real me because I was to busy inside my head. I’ll put it into perspective of how much fear I was living in, After a lump was detected in my left breast as I was preparing to graduate from college, I kid you not, I would feel my boob 20 times a day for 4 years.  I was obsessive!  And with every little freckle I had I start to freak out I had skin cancer!

I lived in so much fear and worry for so long. After hitting rock bottom after Nate was born, I was tired.  Tired of living this life that controlled me who I was.  Resenting and blaming the people I loved for the problems (my fault or not) that where holding me back in life.

Today I am in a place of seeing love within my self and compassion for others.  Years of pain takes time to overcome, but I can say how grateful that my past has helped me to become brave.  Each day is a new day to have more grace with myself and each new day gets a little better.  Even in the seasons I feel stuck and like nothing is happening in my life no matter how hard I feel like I am trying to work hard at whatever I am doing, I am grateful.  With each new season comes a new lesson and blessing to be grateful for.

I seek guidance from my Heavenly Father and know that he has given me these trials to be blessed by and I truly have.  I’ve learned to appreciate my parents in a new way and know that they did the best they could.  I’ve learned to love my husband in new light and for him sticking with me through all my deep darkness.  My children are my greatest blessing even on the days I want to pull my hair out.  They just add to the learning process of it all.

Find brave from your past.  Your past and experiences aren’t placed in your life to define you, they are there to help you grow.

Be Awesome,

Amber

 

 

How I edit for clients and social media

I receive inquiries all the time asking about how I edit my images for both my client galleries and my social media.  I use the same tools for  both since I am a creature of habit and just keep it all streamlined to keep it easy on myself.  I do use phone Apps and filters on some social media but mostly in my instagram stories since those are real time moments or to do some minor tweaks to an image I edited on my desk top that I putting on my IG grid.  My IG feed is the same editing process I do on client photos.

Over the years I have found ways to simplify my editing so I am getting photos done in less time.  When I first started photography, it was taking me hours upon hours to edit one session because I would go through each photo and hand edit it in photoshop.

Today, I will guide you through my editing process that I do on all my photos. It might sound a little complicated to some who don’t use a camera BUT  I will also give you some tips on phone photography too since we have our camera phones readily available anytime we need them.

Client and Social Media Feed Editing:

1. I take all my photos with my Nikon 750 DSLR camera. My Fstop is always at a 2.8 outside and a Fstop 1.4 or 1.8 inside.  I adjust my ISO as needed depending on the lighting situation.  Most the time it is at an ISO 200-400 but again it depends on your lighting situation.

2. I bring all my photos into lightroom where I collate through them and pick the best ones out of the session or the ones I want to showcase on my social media feed.

3. After I go through and pick the ones to fully edit, I then put a preset on them. Right now I am loving the Angie Manson Collection from Simplicity Photography.  You can check them out here. I make adjustments to the image after the preset has been placed using the adjustment menu on the right hand side under the Develop tab.  The adjustments I mostly use are: Temp, tint, Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, and clarity.  Sometimes I will adjust the vignetting depending on the photo.

4. After I adjust the first photo, I can usually go to each photo and click on the previous button at the bottom of the menu bar and the same formula from the previous photo will be added to the next photo.  A few tweaks here and there may be needed, but it makes the process go a a lot smoother.

5 After I go through my editing process in light room, I will then export it into photoshop to do final touches on each image such as cleaning up acne, taking out objects that were unavoidable in the background that might have been distracting to the image, tweaking the color a little more, cropping the image if needed and adding a little more contrast and then save the image.

This process may sound extensive, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier to do.

Now we will dive into phone photography.  I use my phone camera mostly for my IG stories, but I know that most people will use their phone camera more for their social media.  These are some tools that I have found to help me or have seen others use to help enhance their phone photography:

1.  Lighting: again, I am a creature of habit so I play around with light like I would do with my DSLR.  If I’m outside, I’ll play with backlight or if I’m indoors I find the best natural light just like I would my real camera.  A lot of influencers/bloggers are using light ring kits to enhance their lighting too.  You can get them from amazon for fairly inexpensive.  I haven’t personally used one as of yet, but a lot of people swear by them.

2. Apps: There are so many apps out there for photo editing.  My favorites are VSCO and lightroom. I mainly use VSCO because its so much easier than lightroom on the phone.  Research the apps that best suit your style and wether your looking to spend a a lot of time editing or using it as a quick edit.

3. Presets: VSCO has their own presets that I usually use for the simplicity of it but there are presets you can purchase through etsy, the malibu app or you can research mobile presets to find the perfect one that goes with your stye and color preference.

This is my cliffnotes version of my editing process. I invite you to contact me here if you would like to know more on how I edit.  I’d be happy to answer questions or give you a more in depth session!

Heres to a happy photo Friday!

Be Awesome,

Amber

My Experience with Gestational Diabetes

I often talk about having gestation diabetes with my first son, however I never really go into to much detail of the whole experience and how it truly impacted me personally since then. To be honest, I didn’t even know that gestational diabetes was a thing until I was pregnant for the first time in 2013.  I was just told to go take this glucose test, so I did.  I was instructed to not eat before I went in so I didn’t.
I remember clear as day the moment I took that orange drink for the first time.  Moments later I  started feeling nauseous, lightheaded, shaking and sweating.  Something did not feel right. I went outside to take some breaths in the fresh air and after a while it started wearing off.  Was this normal? Is all I can remember asking myself. The next day I received a call from my OB letting me know that my sugar levels were out the roof and they rushed me to get in with a nutritionist and a perenatel  doctor who would be my specialist for the remainder of my pregnancy.  Confused of what was going on, I did what I was told.
I remember going into my nutritionist office days later.  She was very kind, but to the point. She kindly educated me on what was going on that my pancreas wasn’t working properly and not producing enough insulin for both me and the baby.  She continued to tell me that according to my pre pregnancy weight and my height (BMI) I was borderline obese and that if I didn’t take action right away, I would continue to be diabetic even after my pregnancy which would mean pricking myself every single day with needles and putting my body through other health complications.  Most people are told it will go away after the baby was born and don’t worry about it but in my case? It was different I had to make the changes.  I didn’t want to live my life like this is all I could think of. It was incredibly overwhelming to have to make all these changes so fast, but I knew I needed to do it.
My nutritionist set me up with my glucose meter and showed me how it worked. I remember I had to use it for the first time right then and there and it sucked and it hurt.  I cried on my way home but I knew I had to do this for my baby too so I sucked it up.
I had my first appointment with the specialist and the best thing of it all was I got more pictures of Ethan! However, he told me that I had excess fluid because of the diabetes that could cause some problems long term if it wasn’t monitored. All these things were being thrown at me like a ton of bricks…wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying this?  No. This whole pregnancy was about being at risk and told that this or that could go wrong.
At this point it was non stop trips to the doctors and pricking myself in the fingers three times a day to the point you could see holes in my skin, injecting myself nightly in my pregnant belly with insulin and going in twice a week for an hour strapped to a monitor praying that Ethan would move throughout the hour so the test would be normal.  I remember telling my unborn child in the bath tub  we got this. I’d wake up every morning going up and down the stairs a couple times or doing squats after dinner before I pricked myself to check my blood in hopes I could manipulate the numbers a bit to be a normal number since I had to log them in a book every time I pricked myself. Maybe not what I’m supposed to do but I did (with my second pregnancy I learned and went into the bathroom and did a 100 squats to burn through the drink faster…  okay I cheated a little).
Although Ethan was born safely into this world through an unplanned c-section, the complications continued for both of us. I blood so much after surgery,  I ended with a blood transfusion 4 days later… which should have been right away but it wasn’t.  I was laying in a hospital bed weak to the bones incoherent to the world un able to move and not understanding what was going on while my baby was in NICU do to complications that happened after birth. Nurses would tell me I was too weak to see my child so they wouldn’t take me down to see him.
I am not sure if these things happened from the diabetes, but it adds to the whole overwhelm of the pregnancy experience.
Through this experience, I was humbled.  It truly was a blessing in disguise.  It taught me to love my body that much more and to take care of it. When I saw myself at 197 pounds at birth and 160 pounds eight weeks later, it motivated me to take action. From this day even though I am done having kids, I still work on my health every single day because I got a glimpse of what it would be like to live a life with diabetes and I knew I DID NOT want live my life like that again because it scared the pants off me. Some may go through this experience not letting it impact them, but growing up with parents both over weight and seeing the issues they had because of it, I had every single reason in the book to change for me and my family.
I look back and know that there would have been some things I would have changed and some advice I’d give to a new, expecting mom is don’t be afraid to ask questions and educate yourself.  I didn’t think I needed to but I should have!  If I was more aware of the glucose test they they did during pregnancy  , I would have taken more action in the beginning instead of using pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted.  I later learned that diabetes can be genetic with weight issues, do some research before a pregnancy and see if it’s something you should consider.  You should eat healthy anyways but is always a good idea to know your family history.
I took this lesson in my life and learned from it. It was one of the most scariest moments in my life that made me realize that our bodies are precious and can do great things for us when we take care of them.  It made me realize that I wanted to be all there for my kids and be the best mom I can be and not have the health complications that come along with being overweight.
Be awesome,
Amber