Body Work

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We wore these bracelets for 21 Days to remind us of what we were doing and why we were doing it.

On February 8, 2017, I started a journey.

The winter of 2016-17 has been rough. Some circumstances in the fall led to a depressive dip for me. It was bad enough that some old habits I thought I had broken crept back into my life.

I knew what was happening, but it felt like I was powerless to stop it. I was so down on myself about allowing it to happen, that it kept getting worse.

So I decided that I needed to face what felt like the ultimate depression and ultimate bad habits with an ultimate challenge: Beachbody’s Ultimate Reset.

The Ultimate Reset is 21 days of food and supplements to help detox the body and reset it to the ways in which it was meant to operate.

I was scared. But I was determined. And I found six other women who were just as determined so we decided to walk alongside one another throughout the 21 days in a FB Messenger group.

What I found immediately was how my body needed this time: it had missed the real foods I usually nourished it with. I also remembered just how much I need to spend time preparing my food as it is a natural stress reliever to be in the kitchen chopping and cooking.

Was it difficult? Of course! I got sick less than a week into the program and fought the cold turned sinus infection for the remainder of the program. Some days I was so tired and worn out that it took everything in me to get up and prepare the food. Some days I had to force myself to put the food in my mouth out of sheer exhaustion. But every time I wanted to quit, or cheat, I reminded myself why I was doing this and checked in with my support posse who encouraged me every time.

By part-way into week two, I was feeling tons of extra energy (despite the sickness) and just “lighter” overall. It was actually fun to try some new foods and recipes that I wouldn’t have considered before (and I am an adventurous cook).

At the end of 21 days, I am down 12.8 pounds and 5-1/2 inches, but most importantly, I am relieved of those pesky cravings for junk food and have a renewed focus on eating real food. Oh, and that pesky depression? It is improving as well.

I have decided that at this point in my (busy) life, filled with family, work, school, ministry, volunteer work, and more, I NEED the structure of a PLAN because I can’t be trusted to my own devices. For this reason, I will be working hard to MEALS each week, as well as WORKOUTS each week so that I can continue the momentum I have started.

I have said it before and I will say it again: caring for our bodies isn’t a one and done proposition, rather it is an ongoing process. If we don’t take care of ourselves, no one is going to do it for us and sometimes we just need to be reminded of that truth.

The Ultimate Reset was a great reminder, challenge, and reset for me.

If you are interested in doing something like the Ultimate Reset, I can help you get started. 

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Summer of FitnessSometimes amazing things happen.

After years of watching me workout and not wanting to have anything to do with it, except what she had to do for volleyball/cheer/track, my daughter has decided that this summer she and I will be working out together. Daily.

After years of watching me set goals and work towards them and not wanting to do so herself, my daughter has set a goal for herself which is why she is willing to work out with her mother. Daily.

After years of watching me eat right and do my best to eschew junk food… Oh, who am I kidding, she’s not quite there yet.

Anne has decided that she wants to have six-pack abs by the time she goes back to school this fall.

Anne has decided that she wants to stay in shape for – are you ready for this? – THE REST OF HER LIFE!

When we were taking a run the other day (a run that she totally kicked my butt at), she told me that my pace was so slow compared to what she was used to running. I told her that when she was 42 and running with her 15-year-old daughter, she would see that her pace would be slower than her daughter’s pace as well. Her reply was along the lines of, “Nope. Cuz I am going to stay in shape. That’s why I am working out with you.”

You guys, you have NO IDEA how awesome it is to see your teenage daughter starting to get the importance of a healthy body! Add to that, my SON has agreed to daily workouts as well (as long as they aren’t ‘PiYo or 21-Day Fix or anything like that”), so push-ups, sit-ups and running are his daily dose of fitness.

This morning, this title jumped into my head and I texted it to Anne as a name for our summer challenge. Her responseDo I have abs yet?e? “LOL! YASSS!!!”

This was yesterday’s text.

The answer is yes. And no. We have the abs, and they are strong. But they aren’t to six-pack status because they need to be stronger, they need to be defined, and yes, they need to be not covered up by a layer of fat. And that means more work, both in the workout and eating portion of our Summer of Fitness.

So here’s to working out with my daughter, having my son join in the fitness routines, and FINALLY seeing that being an example to my family DOES PAY OFF!

I will keep you posted throughout the summer on our quest for the six-pack and the joys and struggles of working out with your teenage daughter!

 

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Knees or BunsHere I go again! Showing you a glimpse of Savor by Shauna Niequist! But this time we are talking about CHOICES!

I love this story about parents insisting that their child sit at the table, but in a way that gives the child a choice of how to sit – on his knees or on his buns. It makes the child feel like he has some say in the matter and empowers them.

Guess what? This doesn’t just work for kids.

That’s right! It works for us, too!

The choice isn’t whether or not to work out; it is which workout we want to do.

The choice isn’t get up and workout or sleep in and skip; it is get up and do the longer workout or get up a little later and do a shorter one (or set a no-excuses time later in the day).

The choice isn’t healthy food or crap; it is which healthy food.

The choice isn’t all or nothing; it is get it done using plan A or plan B.

When we give ourselves choices between healthy habits, it empowers us to keep working toward our goals, even when we need to make adjustments for life.

Just this morning, my running partner was up late doing homework and decided she wasn’t going to make it for our run. At that point I had a choice. Plan A was run and then do my Hammer and Chisel workout for the day. Plan B was sleep a little longer, skip the run, but get up and do the Hammer and Chisel workout. Plan C was sleep even longer and do Hammer and Chisel after I had been to the hairdresser and had my hair newly cut and colored. Well, I was tired, but I didn’t want to mess up my hair later, so I chose Plan B. I probably could have done plan A and been just fine on sleep for the day, but I needed a little leeway this morning so Plan B it was. And you notice, none of my plans included skipping working out today.

I’ve said it before, our minds are powerful things, and if we train them to think along these lines, we will be much better off in the long run because we won’t lose a battle with ourselves.

What kinds of choices do you give yourself when it comes to your health? Are you an all or nothing kind of person? Or do you give yourself healthy choices? I want to hear from you!

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IndividualismI know what you are thinking. “What the heck is she talking about? It is good that I am an individual! That makes me my own person, different from everyone else, able to stand out from the crowd and makes what I have to offer the world special!”

And that is all true. We do need to lean into our giftings and our talents. We do need to make sure that we are not just trying to “fit in” and be like everyone else around us. But there are some aspects of our individualistic societal norms that are hurting us, and lately I have been bombarded with the reality of this.

Years ago, it was a common thing to hear, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and it was not only a saying, but a reality. If a child was misbehaving, it was common to see whatever adult that was around take care of the situation by stepping in and offering the necessary correction. That was because the name of the game was community. Everyone was looking out for the good of the community.

When the focus is on what is best for the community (any size – large or small, family unit or social unit) the criteria for decision-making is different from when the focus is on what is best for the individual. With one it is all about the group. With the other it is all about “me.”

When the focus becomes all about “me,” certain things begin to happen. No longer does anyone else matter. No longer does anyone else even make it into the decision-making process. When the focus is all about “me,” the basic tenets of The Golden Rule are all but forgotten.

“She did it to me, so I am going to do it to her.”

“He isn’t meeting my needs, so why should I meet his?”

“This makes me feel good, so who cares who it hurts in the process.”

This is the mindset of the individual who has lost the ability to live in community.

It is this mindset that is dangerous to our society.

When this mindset permeates a community, a major breakdown of that community occurs, and I think we are increasingly seeing the results of that breakdown in both social and family units.

The school parking lot is one area in which I see this at work. Parents are so focused on their to-do list and where they have to be that they can’t stop to let a child cross in front of their car, much less let another parent pull into the line in front of them.

I see this happening in families where the parents are so focused on themselves that the kids are left to their own devices, which not only models to the children that they can make life all about themselves, but also breaks down the family unit into a group of individuals rather than a collective, which is what the family should be.

I see this happening with kids who have never been taught respect for other people because they have parents who have raised them to believe that life is all about themselves and what they want. And I see adults who think they can bully and intimidate anyone to get what they want, because they think they are entitled to it.

I see this happening in relationships where one spouse doesn’t feel like they are getting their needs met, and instead of reaching out and working to meet the needs of their spouse, they go looking elsewhere to get what they think they need, never mind the potential (and inevitable) destruction of at least one other person.

I see this happening when it comes to health. This attitude of “I deserve to eat whatever I want whenever I want,” despite how it affects others is part of the problem with the obesity crisis in our country. Never mind how one’s health effects their family. Never mind how one’s chronic disease affects everyone else’s health care costs.

I see this happening when it comes to business. “We can go ahead and market this food (or any other item) that we know is terrible for people because we are only concerned about our bottom line, not how it affects people; and even if it does harm them in some way, we can blame them for not taking responsibility for themselves.”

But one of the saddest places I see this happening is in the church. “I know right from wrong and I know that I am good when it comes to my faith and relationship with God, and that is enough. I don’t need to help anyone else. I don’t need to offer them hope. I don’t need to give to the work of the Lord, because I need want the money more.”

I could go on and on with the ways that individualism is detrimental to our society, but I think you get the point. I hope you get the point.

During this season of Lent, I have been thinking about self-denial, preaching about self-denial, and now blogging about self-denial. As a follower of Christ, I am told to take up my cross, deny myself, and follow Christ. That means that my needs don’t come first. In fact, they come third. God and others come before me. My to-do list takes a back seat to God’s. My wants take a back seat to serving others. That is not always a fun place to be. Sometimes I feel stressed out and taken advantage of when I am living life this way; but every time God provides what I need – whether that is time to accomplish a task, rest, someone to care for me, or just a reminder that I am doing what He has called me to do.

I am trying. I am learning. I am working to teach my children. Life is not all about me. Life is not all about them. The way we view life, the way we make decisions, and the way we contribute to society has to be done through the eyes of the community and not through the eyes of individualism. That is the only way that our society will thrive, and as goes the community, we go as well.

 

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It’s Monday! And I have so many things going through my head!

So welcome to the randomness of my brain today!

  • I am IN LOVE with a new shampoo and conditioner. It is called Purology. I am currently using Strength Cure and I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time my hair was this healthy – and I have been using only salon products on it for years. It is a little more pricy than some products, BUT you only have to use the tiniest amount. My previous shampoo and conditioner had a pump and i would pump THREE TIMES to get enough to get a good lather with the shampoo and cover all of my hair with the conditioner. With Purology, I use maybe a dime-to-nickel sized dollop and have PLENTY! If you are in the Greenville, Illinois area, go see Fay at Absolutely You and get some!
  • I am pretty sure the absolute best way to start a Monday morning is with a good sweat and PiYo. I always feel so much better after a workout, and I am ready to take on the world.
  • March starts tomorrow. It is my birthday month. I have maintained my current weight for a number of months now and I am ready to start moving downward again. The winter layers of clothing are going to start coming off soon, and I want to get my body ready for summer! I have a plan. I have shared my plan with a couple of other people (because if you don’t share your plan, there is no one to hold you accountable), and I am ready to EXECUTE IT! No more excuses. No more junk food. No more staying in bed instead of working out. No more short-cuts. The only way to get from one point to another is to MOVE, and I am on the move. Anyone out there want to come with me? I can help you with a plan, just sent me a message!
  • About six weeks ago I bought a juicer. I LOVE it! I have been making some kind of juice about once a day just to get some more nutrients in and hopefully reap some detoxification benefits. I did a three-day partial juice fast last week (I had Shakeology for breakfast and I ate dinner every day with fruit/vegetable juices in between) to try to help reset my system after having the flu the previous week. It was great. If you know me, you know that I am all about consistent, disciplined, healthy eating – not crash diets and fads. In other words, I don’t think going on an all-juice fast for an extended period of time is necessarily the best thing for everyone (there may be some cases where that would be recommended by a doctor), but I do think there are some benefits to adding fresh juice to our diets and I am enjoying experimenting with various concoctions!
  • Finally, it is LEAP DAY! Let’s talk about LEAPS! I feel like I am leaping all over the place these days, stepping out and up in ways that I never dreamed possible, but one of the biggest ones right now is volunteering to organize and direct the Vine to Wine 1/2 Marathon and 5K coming in September. I have organized many events and run many races, but never done anything quite this big. I am excited. And a little scared. But I like it. Life without challenges isn’t really living and I am up for it.

Your turn! What is one of the BIGGEST leaps you have taken or want to take in your life – any area?

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Oh. My. Word.

Or to quote Liz Lemon, “What the What?”

I never, ever dreamed I would do it.

Sure, I thought it would be a great idea, and I LOVE creating events and such, but I just didn’t think it would be a part of my reality.

But it is.

I have thought for years that we needed a running club in Greenville.

And I have always thought it would be great to host a big running event in Greenville.

And BOTH of these things are happening as we speak.

An impromptu New Year’s Day group run had a friend voice what I had been thinking, “we should start a running club in Greenville.” And that was enough for me to decide that 2016 was going to be the year.

bocoruncologo

Five awesomely fun 10K runs at wineries around the Indianapolis area and befriending the race director, along with a new winery opening up in town had me thinking it would be so cool to do a wine run here in town. A few conversations later and the Vine to Wine 1/2 Marathon and 5K is becoming a reality.

Me. The girl who didn’t want to call herself a runner for a long time. Pulling people together to, of all things, run.

I am thrilled. I am ecstatic. I am so excited for the future.

It is a beautiful thing to see your dreams becoming reality.

Live in or around Bond County Illinois and want to join BoCo RunCo? Visit our website for details on how to join!

Like to run (or walk) and want to do a great 1/2 marathon or 5K? Register for the Vine to Wine 1/2 Marathon and 5K on September 10, 2016!

Curious about how a high school runner who became a non-runner got back to being a runner? Read my story here!

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So, this blog post idea has been in the Notes app on my phone since November 17. Today is December 7 for those of you who might not realize it. This is how crazy my life has been: a blog post that pretty much writes itself hasn’t been written. But today is Monday. A new day, a new week, and I have been marking stuff off of my to-do list like a mad woman. Not sure how long into the week being on top of things will last, so I am going to take this opportunity to ACTUALLY WRITE! It is a beautiful thing!

So one of the things that I have struggled with for years is depression. And the winter only makes it more pronounced. I strongly dislike (note that I am choosing NOT to use the word hate) cold, dreary, wet, dark days. I have already said numerous times that summer can come any day now. I like my sun and warm. I like being outside. I like laying in the pool on a raft, taking a ride on the lake in a boat, sitting on my porch sipping ice-cold drinks with friends. And while the occasional “snuggle up on the couch in a warm cozy blanket” day is a welcome respite, the “I am freezing all the time and can’t get warm for anything” monotony of winter leads me down a dark path.

Because I know this about myself, I have had to learn ways to fight off the “I want to stay in my bed for weeks and eat nothing but bad-for-me comfort food and take turns sleeping and watching television” blahs. Here are a few of my go-to weapons.

  1. Work out. Do it. Whatever kind of workout you can do. Take a brisk walk. Go for a run. Head out to a group exercise class (Here is one I teach!). Find an in-home DVD that you enjoy (I can help you find one.). Do something EVERY DAY. The more you move, the more endorphins are released. The more endorphins that are released, the better you feel. The better you feel, the easier it is to fight off the blahs when they come in like a flood.
  2. Eat right. Do it. If you don’t know how, talk to me about it and I will help. Comfort food may seem like it comforts you in the moment, but those sugary, high fat, high carb foods will cause you to crash harder once the initial “high” wears off. Studies have shown that VEGETABLES have an inherent anti-depressant quality, but to get the benefits, you have to eat them. 🙂 If you struggle with this, here is a way to help: don’t buy the junk and/or keep it out of sight. Keep healthy choices in front of you and make them what you reach for in those moments of weakness. Also, when you are having a blah day, be sure that you aren’t eating for comfort. When you feel overly “snacky” find an alternative – go for a walk, call a friend, pick up a hobby you enjoy. Making these healthier choices will help you combat those “down” days.
  3. Get sleep. Do it. Lack of sleep wreaks all kinds of havoc on your body, not to mention your emotional state. Figure out how much sleep you need and make it happen. Sometimes it is hard when you have commitments, but as often as possible get to bed at a time that allows you adequate rest. I know that I need between 6-1/2 and 8 hours of sleep a night to function well. That means if I am getting up at 4:30 a.m. (yep – that is what time I get up almost every weekday so I can make sure #1 happens), I need to have the lights out by 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. at the absolute latest. That means that I get kids headed to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., and I am in my bed by 9:00 p.m. to have some time to do my devotions and read for a little while. If you want to feel better, make sleep a priority.
  4. Even if you are doing all three of these things fairly well, there will still be rough days sometimes. Don’t let the blahs win. Get up. Get dressed in real clothes (don’t default to the sweats/yoga pants that are calling your name). Put on some makeup (if you are one that wears makeup). Do your hair. There is something about the process of making yourself look good that in turn makes you feel good.
  5. Last but certainly not least, if you are still struggling, ASK FOR HELP! It might be you need your spouse to do something to help you. You might need to have lunch with a friend. It is possible that you need medical or pharmaceutical assistance. When you have tried everything and it isn’t getting you anywhere, it is time to call in reinforcements in the form of PEOPLE who care about you and love you.

You can make it through the winter blahs. Even if it means you occasionally need to turn up the music and have an impromptu dance party in the middle of your living room or drive around town with the music blaring and you singing at the top of your lungs. (Yes, sometimes these are necessary coping mechanisms for me.) So in that vein, since it is Monday and I like to share music with you on Mondays, enjoy one of my family’s favorite Christmas songs and SMILE!

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I have been turning this idea over and over in my head lately, mostly because I can’t seem to create any.

Balance.

Work. Kids. Kids’ activities. Kids’ activities for which I need to be present. Husband. Home. Bills. Business. Fitness. Health. Cooking. Friends. Facebook. (We have to be honest, Facebook is a thing on the balance list.) Sleeping. Laundry. Netflix. (Yes, Netflix is a thing, too.) Running. Social life. (Wait – do I have a social life?) Hebrew. Did I mention Hebrew?

There’s probably more. I am sure I am forgetting something. I can’t keep all those plates spinning all the time. Some of them come crashing to the floor. Hard. And often. And when that happens, I tend to beat myself up. Hard. And often.

I like what Jen Hatmaker says about balance in her most recent book, For the Love:

If I had to recite the top questions I’m asked in interviews, conversations, and e-mails, certainly included would be this one: How do you balance work and family and community? And every time, I think: Do you even know me? Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing. Here is part of the problem, girls: we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories. No one constructed fairy-tale childhoods for their spawn, developed an innate set of personal talents, fostered a stimulating and world-changing career, created stunning homes and yardscapes, provided homemade food for every meal (locally sourced, of course), kept all marriage fires burning, sustained meaningful relationships in various environments, carved out plenty of time for “self care,” served neighbors/ church/ world, and maintained a fulfilling, active relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior. You can’t balance that job description.

unicorn

She’s right, you know. Balance is like that mythical unicorn. It doesn’t exist. There will be times in our lives when we are more attentive to one or two areas of our lives and less attentive to others. And those areas will naturally change as our lives progress.

The problem comes when we start the ugly comparison game. This game was a losing one before social media, but has become downright destructive in the current online culture. We see everyone’s best posted on Facebook. We see all the great ways to be a wonderful parent, sexy wife, efficient worker, gourmet chef and bikini model all over Pinterest. We see everyone else’s selfies of girls nights out on Instagram. And when we do, we start comparing our lives to everyone else’s and assuming we fall short. But what we don’t realize is that we are only seeing a small sliver of everyone else’s life through a filtered lens. Sure, they may be doing a great job homeschooling their children, but behind closed doors could be suffering a severe bout of depression. Maybe they have a fantastic relationship with their husband, but they are struggling with an enormous debt load.

The point is that we all struggle with balance and none of us achieve it, or if we think we have, it lasts a millisecond and is gone. The real problem isn’t balance, but rather giving ourselves permission to focus on what is the most important and, to quote a song I am sure we are all tired of hearing, say “Let it go” to what isn’t on the top of the priority list right now.

For me right now that might mean that I have to study Hebrew instead of watching an episode (or 10) of House on Netflix. It might mean that I don’t get to go to the 50,000 in-home parties that my friends have because I have a volleyball game to watch or a PiYo class to teach. The important thing to remember is that we can’t do it all, and we shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on ourselves. Living a busy life with many commitments is hard. Living that same life under the shadow of constant guilt for not doing or being enough is impossible and eventually will take its toll.

So, take heart and remember that while the picture of the unicorn is beautiful, it is in fact fictional, just like the idea of balance in the life of a busy human being. Give yourself grace, stop with the guilt, and do your best at what is most important today. Tomorrow you can re-evaluate what needs to be most important then.

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Coming off of a weekend of craziness tends to lead to a Monday that is rough. So, in order to combat the “Monday Blues” here are some of my thoughts today.

  • Theme parties are fun. Plan one. Invite friends – old and new. Plan a fun menu. Throw in some silly dress-up items. Have fun. Last month we did an 80’s party. This weekend was Hawaiian. Don’t stress over it. Just let it happen. You will be glad you did.
  • Pineapple Cheese Ball Hawaiian Party Friends
  • When was the last time you tried something new? I went down to Forest Park and watched a movie on Art Hill Friday. It was the first time I had done that. Was the traffic terrible? Absolutely. Was the parking situation less than ideal. Most certainly. But watching “Clueless” with friends on the hill outside in the beautiful weather was so much fun and worth the trip.
  • Sometimes you just have to kick off your shoes and dance. Even in the summer heat. Even if you get soaked with sweat. Even if you and your friend are the only two on the dance floor. It does wonders for your soul.
  • And my public service announcement for the day via Jen Hatmaker is this:

Happy Monday everyone!

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One year ago this week I started a journey with PiYo, 21-Day Fix and Shakeology that has brought me here. My story in video form is posted below and here is some photographic evidence of my transformation.

PiYo Transformation

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