I KNOW, mom…

I’m waiting for it. I know it will happen when I’m reminding one of the boys something for the umpteenth time and I’ll get an eyeroll and an, “I KNOW already. Geez.” As independence is forged in the fiery crucible of adolescence, boundaries are pushed, limits are tested, and any questioning of abilities is met with shields raised. The problem, at least for me, is a lot of those shields never got lowered.

Several of the personal development books I’ve read (or listened to) lately have mentioned in passing the phenomena of people KNOWING quite a bit, but not ACTING on that knowledge. And it is easy, from a coaching or managerial position, to get frustrated with this lack of application. But the truth is WE ALL DO THIS DAILY. Seriously. I know a TON of things. I know folding the laundry straight out of the dryer will be less stress and hassle than dumping it in a heap and having to sort and fold later. I know meal planning saves time and money. I know whenever I’m reading scripture daily I am more centered and grounded in my faith. Shoot, a lot of times I THINK about what I should pray instead of praying….take a moment to let that sink in. Instead of praying, I think about what I should pray. Instead of just mentally going, “Dear God, please hear me now….” I sit and think about all the things that I should maybe pray about. How many times do we say, “I’ll be praying” and instead of taking TWO SECONDS to offer up a quick prayer, we put it off until later (and often forget)? Absolutely ridiculous. ALL of the eyerolls, please.

My point-before I got slightly carried away on the prayer tangent-is that all of us generally speaking KNOW things. Often we even know how situations occurred and what we need to do to get out of them. We know the solutions to our own problems. But we don’t do anything about it. We keep our shields up and layered in excuses. “We don’t have time, we don’t have money, we don’t have energy, we don’t know how, we have too many things going on…” For the most part, excuses are a refusal to acknowledge the actual problem. Frequently all excuses do is shift the blame to inanimate objects or even concepts! “I don’t have the money” -like it’s money’s fault. If you truly want it, you will work and save to make the money available. “I don’t have time” like time is somehow running around stealing parts of your life. If you truly want it, you will MAKE the time available. What we fail to acknowledge is that our lives ARE somewhat in our control. No, we cannot prevent disaster-but we can control our response to it. We cannot prevent our children growing older-but we can choose how to navigate through the transition. We cannot always change the hours our job demands-but we can change what we do in the off hours and/or look for work that meets our requirements. We cannot choose our upbringing or our brain chemistry or the day that we die-but we can learn how to grow, and change, and become who we want with the opportunities we have been given. We CAN choose to take risk, venture out, seek help, do new things. The real “problem” is we’re scared.

I know there is a lot of stuff out there warning about being a control freak-but the opposite is letting everything else control us. Letting the demands of society drive what we feel is important or necessary. Letting our insecurities loom so large we don’t take a risk from our current place of comfort no matter how much are heart yearns for it. Letting life steal our joy instead of leaning in to the times God says, “Go. I’ve got this.” Oh, we know what it’ll take most of the time, or we at least know enough to know it’ll be different-and that’s usually enough for us to pile on a few more excuses.

Thing is, we are never not going to be a bit scared. To be courageous means to act boldly despite fear. You can’t have courage without being afraid. I am not saying this from some lofty position, I am saying this dug down with my shields fully raised. I have allowed myself to be pushed outside my comfort zone more in the past few months than I have allowed in years. I have started taking a hard look at my words compared to my actions compared to my desires. OH how I feel Paul when he says in Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” From all facets of my life, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical-I have room to grow and improve, and I know what needs to be done, but putting it into action is just HARD.

So, I encourage you today. Don’t just read this. DO something, even if it’s just making a list of the “somethings” that you want to do. Don’t just think about it, don’t just learn about it, don’t just read about it. What do you want to do that you aren’t putting into action? There are so many cliches out there, and we brush them off because they are weary and tired…but, many of them are also the truth. You do have to “be the change” success does come from “baby steps” and in the words of Yoda, “there is no TRY”

Fit and Fancy

I have arrived, y’all. I made it. I’m there. From here on out I just aim to maintain. My scale sits collecting dust on the floor and I’m considering getting rid of it entirely. I love where I am right now on my fitness “journey”. And I know “journey” sounds hokey, but I don’t know what else to call it. The truth is that we are all on one-whatever word we use to describe it. I know some people object strongly to even having the word, “exercise” in their vocabulary, but whether are you a self made couch potato or a triathlon finisher-you’re still on a fitness journey. Your underlying routine-what you typically eat, what you typically do-that is either building you up or breaking you down. There is no escaping that. I’m not talking about wanting to lose some weight, or feeling guilty about donuts. Ditch the scale and your guilt (but keep the donuts, yum!). I’m talking simply about the fact that we can’t escape our bodies. We can’t escape their needs. We can’t escape how they function. We can’t escape eating.

We continue to focus SO much on appearance that we are missing the bigger picture. Your health allows you to do more. Your health allows you to BE more. And if you’ve decided that there are a million other things that are more important than your health-well, you’re wrong. There are a FEW things that may be more important than your health-but not as many as you may think. How are you going to enjoy your kids if you are constantly run down? How are you going to keep up with your coworkers if you get devastatingly sick multiple times a year? Or even just struggle with fatigue? Or pain? Headaches? Digestive issues? And how are you going to RECOVER from any of the illnesses/injuries that life will throw at you if you don’t have a good foundation for the doctors to work with? Who cares what weight you are, how ARE you? Really?

I am not anti modern medicine by any means. If anything I am pro-doc! (Is that a movement? Can I make it one?) But the truth is, our health system is overrun with basic health issues. BASIC health issues that then become more and more complicated. Nobody is winning-the docs are fighting to keep an already unhealthy body alive with some semblance of “quality of living” and the patient is drowning in prescriptions and feels like this is “normal”, or “part of aging”, or “there’s nothing I can really do about it”.

It’s hard being sick, y’all. It’s hard living with chronic pain, with chronic fatigue, with chronic stomach issues, with chronic ANYthing. And it’s hard to exercise daily, to eat balanced, to make conscious decisions about your health. No one said anything about life NOT being hard. But this idea that living healthy is “hardER“? I call BS.

Loving your body does not mean just dressing it well and refusing to take crap from people about it. Loving your body means CARING for it. Feeding it well, strengthening it daily, and when it gets run down-by all means get help for it! I am not saying that living healthily will cure all disease (um, that’s ridiculous) but why is it so crazy to want to arm my body with the best health I can give it so if and when disease does strike I have something to work with?

And I know it’s tough, but we need to be aware of the excuses we feed ourselves when it comes to living physically healthy lives. There is enough time for it-it may mean you have to reorganize your priority list, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time. You don’t need to enjoy exercise to need to do it. You hate exercise? Ok. You should still do around 30 minutes a day. I HATE meal prep. But I should still do it to keep me eating balanced. You hate salad? Ok. Your body still needs multiple servings of vegetables a day. You’re body isn’t excused because you hate salad. Find some other veggies. You need protein. You need vegetables. You need fruit. You need fats. You need carbs. Whether you “want to” or “like” or “have time” doesn’t matter, your body still NEEDS those things to function.

Arrogance is king in our society, to the point where we just assume that however we “feel” justifies whatever we want it to. And I am not against feeling-total wellness is dependent on a healthy emotional state-but we can’t just change the basic premise of how our bodies function just because we “feel” like it’s beneath us/not who we are/not part of our makeup/not our thing/that’s fine for you but not me. Your health is absolutely a part of you. You don’t need to become a certified trainer, health nut, gym junkie, or whatever, to be healthy. But you DO need to make an effort. I’m a child of God, a wife, a mom of two, an avid reader, an adult with ADHD, an aspiring writer, absolutely a couch potato whenever I get the chance…the list continues. And even though I have goals to pursue in the nutrition field-I didn’t start there, and nothing says to be “healthy” I have to continue along that path.

So, in a nutshell, you are on a fitness journey whether you like it or not. Be honest with yourself about whether you are heading where you’d prefer, it doesn’t take much to change in either direction.

Loving Self

Did you know that there are mountains in Texas? Seriously, mountains. It’s flat for days (literally) and then right before you hit the Mexicos (the country and the New) the Franklin Mountains pop up like forgotten geographical zits. My reference to acne aside-I actually think they’re beautiful. They aren’t as grand and imposing as the Rockies, nor as graceful and undulating as the densely forested Appalachian, but they have their own rugged beauty sculpted from the bare, jagged rocks that ripple with a variety of hues in the desert sun. My first sight of them brought joy and excitement-I knew vaguely that there was a mountain range supposedly dividing this new city we were moving to, but in the chaos of orchestrating the three day cross country move I hadn’t given them much thought. Mountains! Our last two duty stations had been flat (Ft. Bragg) and flatter (Ft. Rucker) so the presence of actual elevation more than made up for the lack of trees. Mountains! I can currently look out the window above my sink and MOUNTAINS! Right there. I love to watch the weather roll in over top and I get spectacular sunsets nightly (when the wind isn’t blowing enough dust to impact visibility, ha).

So, naturally, this being the world of social media-I tried to take a picture with my phone to share my excitement. ….womp womp. Every picture I took I felt like the mountains looked dull and tiny and uninspiring. The pictures just didn’t do the mountains justice! It was frustrating. So I stopped taking pictures and just soaked up the view in the moment.

Now we’ve all seen or done this. How many times have we tried to take a picture of something and the picture just didn’t really capture what was going on? Conversely, how many times have we seen photographs that take our breath away? This. This is exactly what we do with our bodies and our selves.

I don’t like all the marketing campaigns aimed at women and beauty, even some of the “self love” ones irritate me-because they focus so much on appearance. Appearance is only a snapshot of life. It’s only one lens. It’s not even smart phone camera quality, it’s an outdated flip phone camera picture. When I mention loving my body, I mean NOW and ALL OF IT. I don’t mean “loving how far it’s come” or “loving the pretty parts” or “loving the strength it has” I mean in this moment, wherever you are in the journey of life, loving the intricate complexities of your physical-ness. Our bodies are incredible, each and every one is a work of art-even those who are, by the world’s standards, disabled or diseased. How extraordinary that our organs work in concert to fight disease, to find ways to adapt to disability, to struggle through this life still pumping, still going, still doing. We have amazing capabilities of healing, of strengthening, of endurance and stamina, of sensation and interaction, of delicate manipulation, of shaping and creating. We should nurture them, care for them, rejoice in them, stand in awe of them, and ultimately- love them. And yet the biggest pressure society puts on all of us is how this deeply complex organism appears on the surface.

By whose standard of beauty are we measuring ourselves? I’ll tell you flat out-there isn’t one. Artists have struggled with the concept of beauty for decades-is it symmetry, a certain pattern, a specific asymmetry? Is it a hind-brain driven grab at fertility, or a survival mechanism? What makes things beautiful? What makes certain people beautiful and others, not? How come the standards of beauty change so dramatically across the decades? A better question-why are we all still so obsessed with just one measure of a person?

I am thirty years old (yesterday!), and I can just now assert with confidence that I am more than my appearance. I have dreams, goals, emotions, ideas, quirks, idiosyncrasies, talents, gifts, a soul…-all swirling together inside this body to make a complex person. My body is a part of my person, make no mistake, it is the part through which I am able to realize those same goals, dreams, interests, etc.  But it is only a part of a greater whole, and my appearance is even a smaller aspect of that part. When I look at my boys, I have to take a huge mental step back to evaluate their appearance objectively. To try and see them through the eyes of a stranger-it’s almost impossible. When I see them, I don’t just see the formation of their limbs, or the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, the stance of their skeletal system-I see the energy leaking out the pores of my three year old as he runs down the sidewalk, the pleasure in the eyes of my toddler as he successfully recaps a marker, I see their spunk, their quirks, even their thoughts seem to be etched clearly in their movements. And all I feel is love for who they are. The lens through which I view the boys is super high quality and focused, and I’m sure rose tinted. But when I take a picture and put it on Instagram-you don’t see all that. I look at that picture and see THEM, a stranger looks at that picture and sees two boys.

Why are we believing the picture a stranger has of us? Why are we focused on making that shallow, one level representation of who we are (our appearance) matter SO MUCH? Why are we so reluctant to believe that those who love us don’t view us the same? They can’t view us the same, because they see more of us than just a snapshot. So let’s stop placing more importance on how we are seen compared to the always shifting standard of beauty, than on cultivating all of our selves. Because when strangers become less than strangers, what we look like is rapidly buried under how we connect, and that connection is not based on the shape of our cheekbones. Y’all, we can’t escape our society from judging us, that will happen-we are not responsible or in control over the actions of others. But we absolutely can, and should, remove ourselves from the equation. Because the lens by which someone is judging you may be from the camera of a flip phone. It doesn’t even come close to capturing who you really are.

Out Like A…I Don’t Care, Just OUT.

This month has been a mess. I’m just gonna lay it out there. I still wholeheartedly believe in total wellness and the importance of eating well and exercising regularly…but this month I haven’t been living up to my ideals. It started out wonderfully-hyped up off of all the success from Hammer and Chisel, breaking running PRs left and right, a FABULOUS visit from my sister and my adorable nephew. Talk about “in like a lion” March started with a ROAR!

And then I sprained my ankle.

And then my youngest got either a stomach bug or developed an egg allergy (doctor’s appointment scheduled).

And then, and then…

The biggest thing, the far biggest mess of March, has been an accumulation of cyclical hope and frustration that started last January. Last January when Brian put giving the boys another sibling on the table. Last February when I agreed to start weaning Zane earlier then I had planned to hopefully have the third child close in age to the boys. Last March when I had my first cycle. Last April when I had another. Then last May…June…July…August…September…You get the gist.

Then THIS February being unpleasantly caught a day early by surprise while at the playground.

Then this month. March. The day arrived, and passed, and I tested negative. Then the next day. Negative. Then the next, and the next, and the next… I stopped testing, but I remained hopeful. I have never been late a day in my life, my ovaries are like clockwork, there was only one good reason for being late…Out talking to the neighbors while the boys played and OH MY GOODNESS time to beat a hasty retreat to the house.

8 days late. Over a week late. Over a year of trying.

I feel like the appropriate progression of this story is some dramatic meltdown on my part while sobbing in the bathroom, but honestly I just sighed, and shrugged. It’ll happen, or not, in God’s timing, not mine. Am I frustrated? Yes. And the week of hope definitely threw my emotional equilibrium. A week of wondering where we’d put the extra crib, if we’d move Brian’s desk into the bedroom, how the boys would respond to a sibling, whether or not I’d get morning sickness this time… So instead of focusing on exercise and eating balanced, I’ve been focusing on me and Christ. Introspection, prayer, study, seeking time to be alone and listen. And it has been good, y’all. Painful at times, peace-filled at times, always real, and really good.

I didn’t throw fitness all out the window, I still eat pretty darn clean because I’m just used to it now, and it was more like “an extra carb serving here, forgetting to get a protein in there, an extra dollop of peanut butter with my apple”…nothing crazy, just nothing really planned or focused either. And these last two weeks have been hit or miss with the workouts. I’ve managed two early morning workouts before the kids-and then Zane caught a hacking cough and he’s thwarted the “early uppers club” once again. Today I managed to get a PiYo in during their breakfast, and tomorrow if Zane ends up in our bed again I may resort to that again.

My point is-March was messy and imperfect, but that’s how life is. It isn’t always riding success highs or fighting to persevere with gritted teeth. Sometimes it’s just tripping and stumbling a bit and trying again with a shrug. I’m tackling the month of April with renewed vigor and focus-I’m restarting the Hammer and Chisel workouts because I LOVE them and I’m super excited for our Clean Eating Workshop coming up on the 4th. I’ll be meal planning once again with an eye on more budget friendly recipes, and I even signed up for a vendor fair to spread the fitness love.

I won’t miss you, March. Onwards!

Why?

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Blue skies and sunny weather. Perfect for a stroller jog. But instead I stand here with Zane strapped into the Ergo snuggled on my chest and smelling faintly of vomit while I keep an eye on Cade systematically hosing down the entire backyard. Black wrap encases my ankle and allows me to rock Zane back and forth without too much pain.

God is good.

Having Zane get the stomach bug the morning after I wrenched my ankle may not sound convenient, but basically I only have one energetic boy to worry about- the other stays somnolent. Earlier, as I pondered how to look on the bright side while mopping up the explosion in Zane’s crib, I mused over last night’s deep felt chagrin after spraining my ankle doing nothing more strenuous than walking. I was even wearing athletic shoes.

Every time I get injured (which has thankfully happened less frequently over the past few years) I view it as a personal affront and betrayal. How dare my body succumb to such a thing! Triple the embarrassment now as I tout the benefits of balanced eating and consistent exercise and here I am falling over in my backyard. Last time I sprained my ankle-the left one I think- it had been going down ONE STEP onto a sidewalk while I was pregnant with Cade. One step. I could, and did, blame that heavily on the pregnancy hormone relaxin that make everything stretchy and loose in preparation for childbirth-but the truth is I’m a clumsy person with weak ankles.

It is easy, for me at least, to fall into the trap that leading an intentionally healthy lifestyle makes you immune to injury and disease. That eating clean will prevent me from getting the flu, that lifting weights will keep all back injuries at bay, that cardio will ward off a heart attack, that enough fruits and veggies will prevent cancer. But the truth is-the world is fallen.

All good things come from God. The design of my body is perfect, the reality in this world is not. Adam and Eve brought death, disease, and sprained ankles into the world, and no amount of clean eating is going to change that.

But.

BUT that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. As I chafe at being housebound with a limp, as the dishes pile up while I wipe up more diarrhea, as I ungraciously cope with the physical reality of sin I am strengthened in my resolve to combat it.

In the midst of the mess, my “why” solidified. I do this-the exercise, the nutrition, the coaching-I do this because our bodies are gifts that we have been blessed with, and taking good care of them is a form of fighting the world. I love a fight with clearly defined lines of good and evil-but those battles just don’t exist much outside of fiction. THIS, however, is a fight I can throw myself into wholeheartedly, with no worry for my combatants. I am fighting disease and injury, the consequences of sin. I am maintaining and loving the body God gave me, and fighting the long lasting effects of Adam and Eve’s decision. One day He will make my body perfect in His presence, until then I’ll invest in the reflection I have.

Melodramatic, I know, haha, but it’s the truth. No matter what words I choose it still sounds fanciful or cheesy, but all the other “whys” I could give (like “to be an example for my children”) are just small motivators in a much larger perspective. So, I apologize for the grandiose “why”, I can’t help it, it’s how my mind works.

Now excuse me, I’ve got to go strip one more diaper of runny poo and take a hot epsom salt bath for my ankle. Fight the good fight!

From the Nutrition Trenches

I had a challenger sum up the struggle a lot of us face in adulthood in a simple sentence, “I finally realized I can’t out exercise my diet.” We like to blame our inability to find time to workout as the reason we struggle with our health. This was totally me! “Sure, I exercise-but I am already pretty thin I don’t really need a meal plan, I just need to exercise more. Ok, so these last few pounds of baby weight are being stubborn, but that is just because I can’t run as much as I’d like. FINE, I’m a little tired and headachy, and prone to sinus infections and strep, but that’s just the weather, or hormones, or you know, life. Whatever. I just need more cardio.”

You know the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, it’s true. But a better one is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You know where prevention happens? In the kitchen. What you eat matters, folks. A LOT.

And I totally get why people fight against this concept. For one, sure balancing food groups has always been imperative for optimal physical health, but a hundred years ago what was available to eat was a LOT different from today-a hundred years ago people were mostly still eating food. Convenience food changed the game, it has so screwed up the typical Western diet that we have to have a label (clean eating) for eating actual food. The problem with convenience food is that quite simply a lot of it ISN’T food. I have nothing against chemicals or modern medicine or technology-but chemicals that aren’t food, well, they AREN’T FOOD.

My youngest son tries to eat everything. For awhile I found mulch that had passed through his system in his diaper on a weekly basis. I continued to try and prevent him from getting into the garden. Why? Because mulch isn’t food, people. Sure, he managed to pass it (THANK GOODNESS) but that doesn’t make it food! Not only is there no nutritive value to mulch, but his body had to work to process it and filter out any toxins that existed in the dye or from simply being outside in the garden. So much of what is in processed food isn’t food anymore (or ever was) and it puts a strain on your body’s systems as it tries to filter out all the foreign crap-just like my son eating mulch-and your body get’s very little for it’s efforts. We’ve tried to cheat the system by stripping foods of all their nutrients so that they can be convenient and quick, pack them full of fat, sugar, and salt so that they don’t taste like the cardboard they’re reduced to, and then we just dump a bunch of chemically synthesized vitamins in at the end to try and make up for it. Never mind that our bodies don’t process synthesized vitamins as well as those found in the natural form-we mark it “Enriched!” and use it as a selling point.

People look at you like you must be some die hard health nut when you talk about “clean eating” but if you think about it, NOT eating “clean” is a fairly recent phenomenon. I’m eating food, guys. That’s all. I season it with spices and herbs, I cook it with oil or steam or dry heat, I chop it, I slice it, sometimes all I do is rinse it off. It’s not weird, it’s food.

You know what? You can still eat unhealthily while eating clean. I can (and sometimes do, haha) make desserts that are “clean” that are just as loaded with sugar and fat and deliciousness. My portions can still be completely out of whack. I could get completely overweight but still be eating clean-it would just take more effort. And THAT is where the rub comes in.

People like to blame gluttony and poor impulse control/lack of willpower for the expanding waistlines and rapidly rising disease rates all around us-but the truth is gluttony is only half the problem, and sometimes I don’t think it’s even that much. The real problem is laziness. We’re completely disconnected from the work it takes to make food, and if we are honest with ourselves-we really don’t want to reconnect.

Case in point-when I decided to stop buying store bought bread and to only eat the stuff I made from scratch-I ate a LOT less bread. Every slice was weighed and considered. And absolutely savored. Making bread is time consuming, and I knew as soon as I ate the last loaf I’d have to make more. I gravitate towards simple recipes because of the time commitment that many recipes take. The end results of complex recipes are often stunningly delicious-but I am more often than not unwilling to spend that much time preparing. I know I’m not the only one who is lazy when it comes to food.

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Bread straight from the oven = Heaven. On. Earth.

Many women seem to take pride in their hatred for the culinary arts-and as a backlash against society I get it, but it’s not healthy. And men seem to have this weird “if it’s not grilling it’s not manly” vibe going on that-not being a man-I totally don’t understand. Regardless, it isn’t healthy. I’m not saying everyone has to “love cooking”, but when we talk about making food as something we can “choose” to do or not based simply on how much we enjoy it, we’re thinking about food completely wrong. You don’t have to love prepping food (I don’t), you don’t have to feel bliss as you season soup, or joy as you roast a chicken, or bubbles of wonderment as you lay the labor of your hands on the dinner table. None of those things are necessary for your life. Food, however, you must eat. And to be kind to your body you should try to eat as little “not food” as you can. This means you will have to prep food, and will probably want to cook it, and season it, and make it taste ok. The place this typically happens is the kitchen. It doesn’t require love or hate, making food should simply be a fact of life.

With that said-I’m still lazy, or well, time conscious. With two adorable ankle biters howling around my knees every time I set foot in the kitchen, I still prefer quick foods. And you can still have that and eat clean and healthily. I eat fruits straight out of the fridge-takes less then 5 seconds to grab a handful of grapes or an apple or strawberries or whatever. I scramble eggs almost daily. Just two eggs with some dill. No milk, no chopped veggies, no anything but eggs and herbs. 10 minutes tops. I eat red peppers without slicing them-like one oddly lumpy vegetable apple. You can’t tell me that the drive through is quicker than half the stuff I eat-because it isn’t. And half the “quick and easy” boxed meals take longer then the dinners I choose plus they taste half as good.

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Trying (and failing, haha) to get a boys and me selfie. Notice the red pepper? Mmmm yum!

Give food a chance, people. Give cooking a chance. Don’t set out to make a three course meal, just learn how to make eggs the way you like them. Figure out your favorite fruit. Discover where your aversion to spending time in the kitchen comes from-society pressures, bad experiences, impossible expectations-and take steps to correct it. You might be surprised at how easy it is to eat well when you step back and get out of your own way. 😉

What’s Up?

Sorry for the lame title-sometimes the creative juices are flowing, other times they aren’t. I’ll give you three guesses to which scenario is currently true…

Just wanted to send a quick update out there, I’m on rest day of Week SIX doing Hammer and Chisel. Six weeks, y’all! I’ve been doing this faithfully for six weeks! I’m finding I really like some of the workouts and really hate some of the others-but that’s true of any exercise program I’ve ever done, so no surprise there. What I didn’t expect was how much I truly enjoy weight lifting. I’ve always been an “all you need is your body” type exerciser-less hassle, more fun (gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, running…) but Brian and I did have one summer where we lifted consistently at the local Y several times a week. I always felt a bit like an interloper in the gym rat world, and although I learned how to use some equipment really well and I enjoyed the actual physical lifting part-I never learned to like the gym environment. Too many people around making me self conscious. So since weights are at gyms, no more weights. But this Hammer and Chisel stuff has let me do weights in my living room where the only hecklers are young enough that I can send them to their room in time out if I need to. And I really like weights.

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Form is crucial, so it is less slinging heavy objects around like a bulky behemoth (my previous weightlifting premise) and more carefully and precisely manipulating an object in conjunction with your body. Think more rhythmic gymnastics than tire lifts. I’m more aware of how I’m holding my back and abs, where my weight is in a squat, what muscles I’m isolating and “holding under tension” in every move-I’m learning and growing a lot in my simple understanding of how to exercise effectively. And it shows, literally. I’ve seen the most difference in my legs and my shoulders/upper back. My legs have slimmed down, revealing the muscle beneath the skin, and my shoulders and back have added shapes and lines marking out muscles that were previously almost non existent. My weight dropped the first four weeks, and has remained constant for the past two, but even though the scale doesn’t reflect anything in numbers, my physique continues to change. I love it!

I feel so strong, too! I’ve been tandem carrying both boys for awhile, despite them getting so big, and it used to make my arms and shoulder ache almost instantly. Now I can double carry them for a quarter mile while singing with no problem. It’s true I’m almost constantly sore, but I just feel powerful. I’ve got some fabulous thighs, y’all, those things are powerhouses, it is such an awesome feeling. I’m still struggling with pull ups and chin ups, but my push ups have improved without a doubt.

When starting this program I figured I’d stick it out for the 8 weeks and then immediately find something else-like PiYo, Cize, or p90x again. But now I think I’m going to hybridize my next workout schedule so that I keep Hammer and Chisel as part of it. Yeah, the routines are generally longer (35-45 minutes) but I like weight lifting that much.

It isn’t too late to join our 7 weeks ’til Spring Challenge group (even though it’s less than 7 weeks now, haha) and we’re getting ready to start new challenge groups in March and onward. It is never too late to get started, but it’s also never too early-you won’t see change unless you change. 😉  Email me if you have any questions, find  me on Facebook , and follow me on my recently added Instagram account @slowisapace .

Toodles!

“Fit”ness

One of the things I really like about the accountability teams I am a member of is the emphasis on “Finding YOUR Fit.” I think some people read that and automatically shy away from it because to them that means getting into the best physical shape possible and they KNOW that that implies a lot of work. But that’s exactly what it doesn’t mean. Let me explain…

To find your fit, you need to take a good hard look at your life and figure out areas that need improvement because you WANT them to improve-not because the FDA says so, or your doctor scolds you, or because you feel pressured by current social standards of beauty. No. Guilt driven change doesn’t usually get you very far.

Are you able to do the things that you like to do? Are there things that you secretly would love to do but feel are out of your reach? Are there physical things that hinder your work or your play or your engagement with your family? Those are the things you need to take a look at and evaluate honestly. If you want to lose ten pounds because you think that’ll make you feel better-then the truth is it isn’t the number of pounds you’ve assigned to lose that you want, it’s the  “feeling better”. And what does that mean? Does that mean not getting out of breath climbing the stairs? Does that mean not feeling like the bottom of your energy drops out when you’re only halfway through the day and you miserably have to drag yourself through until bedtime? Does that mean feeling comfortable getting down on the floor with your kids? Or playing tag with them outside? Does that mean wanting the strength to try things like skiing, hiking, white water rafting, etc., without fear of being unable to keep up with your peers? Does it mean managing thyroid issues? Or chronic migraines? Insomnia? Gluten sensitivity? Anemia? Does it mean more energy? A stronger immune system? A happier disposition? What is it that YOU want out of your body? THAT is where you start finding your fit.

Your fit does not necessarily mean six pack abs and swimsuit flaunting. Your fit is not tied to the scale or to your pants size. It isn’t even tied to the weight you can bench. It is tied to the WHOLEY fittest version of you-whatever that looks like.

Being comfortable in your own skin is different from willfully ignoring health issues that interfere with your daily life. I am comfortable in my own skin for the most part. I know I am loved, inside and out, and I’m comfortable with my appearance. I’m not striving to be a fitness competitor, I don’t weigh myself daily, I like where I am physically. But I wasn’t always healthy, even when I was “working out”. I was still fighting fatigue, anemia, chronic sinus issues, frequent headaches… It wasn’t until I started getting my nutrition in line with my exercise that those things started disappearing and I really started feeling “fit”.

I still have goals that push where I am a little farther. I’d like to run an ultra marathon again-this is going to take some serious mileage buildup, I’m going to have to push myself physically. I love how much I’m learning about nutrition and I love what that is doing for my immune system and my energy levels and my feeling of healthiness-so I’m going to keep pushing myself to find new recipes and expand my cooking skills. I love seeing the improvements weight lifting has added to my physique-I’m especially thrilled to see definition in my abs-but it doesn’t define who I am. Abs come and go, but my relationships have a lasting impact.

So, essentially, if what I am doing in the kitchen and in the living room when I push play is interfering with the health of my marriage, my relationships with my children, my connection with my family and the people I love best in this world-then it isn’t MY fit. It’s true, I could insanely restrict my diet (and become a horrible, irritable, cranky mess) and be working out three or four times a day to be super lean, strong, and what a lot of the world views as “sexy”-but that is NOT worth it to me, not even close, not even a little bit tempting. I’ve got goals, room for improvement, ways to push myself-but for the most part, I fit my “fit”.

Do you?

11.10.13 Keefer Family FOR WEB (89)

You’ll NEVER believe the SUPER FABULOUS MINDBLOWING thing that happens NEXT!

Seriously, click bait? Seriously? I get annoyed at the hyperbole that runs rampant across social media. I’m in this team competition thing with some other coaches, and one of the challenges was to post about Shakeology but using the words “daily dose of superfoods”. I’m gonna be honest-it makes me cringe. Now, I LOVE me some Shakeology. It is made from all real, whole foods. The foods are nutrient dense and contain all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, I need for a balanced meal plus extra stuff like pre-and probiotics AND the founders continually look for sources that are eco friendly and benefit the farmers. I think that’s really cool (maybe not your cup of hippy tea, but it’s mine). I really don’t like the word “super food”. I don’t like unnecessary hyperbole. I don’t like labeling food in general, and “super food” just irritates me-even if it fits the criteria from the current nutrition standpoints that do label food super and otherwise. To me, it cheapens Shakeology.

There. I said it. I’m an elitist. I’m a protein drink snob. I don’t want viral clicks on Shakeology from fad following superlative driven yo-hos. You need to be serious. You need to be skeptical. You need to do your own research before you jump on this wagon. And if it is not for you-for whatever reason, then don’t get it.

Do I think Shakeology is beneficial for me? Yes. Do I think almost everybody could benefit from drinking it? Also, yes. It’s food. It’s really well balanced and nutritive but it is legitimately FOOD not chemical additives, supplements, synthesized vitamins, or what have you. It’s food, you guys. Almost everyone could benefit from having one completely balanced meal of real food a day. (I say almost, because I don’t like grandiose absolutes much more than I like excessive superlatives. Someone out there may already be eating exactly perfectly and Shakeo wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Or maybe they’re allergic to every single ingredient. Or something.)

I have been asked whether it’s something I see myself maintaining “for the long term” and when I first bought it I would’ve said, “No, maybe just for a year or two.” But now? I don’t see any reason why I won’t be drinking this into my dotage. People daily drink coffee their entire lives. People daily drink sweet tea their entire lives. People daily drink soda their entire (shorter) lives (ha! ha! Sorry, couldn’t resist the soda jab). Why is it so weird that I daily drink Shakeology? Can the only reason to daily consume something be pleasure? Can I not drink something that is pleasurable AND balanced? There are 220 calories in a McDonald’s large sweet tea. I used to drink that daily. There are 160-170 calories in Shakeo made with just water. I mix it with fruit and water, so I’m in the 200-240 calorie range (depending on which fruit and how much). But instead of refined sugar, I’m drinking protein, vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, prebiotics, probiotics… Seriously, what is the problem here?

And I like it. I don’t like all the flavors, I don’t like all the recipes, but I’ve found the way that I DO like it, and I, well, LIKE it. I ENJOY THIS STUFF. So. Yes, I think you should drink Shakeology. No, I will not try to trick/woo/browbeat you into buying it. You should be a little skeptical. You should do your own research. But I’ve done mine, and “super food” or not, it’s a staple part of my fitness.

Progress!

“BOOM Baby!”

Sorry, the boys have been sick so a few days ago I let them watch “The Emperor’s New Groove” before bedtime. I’m no Kronk-but I’m no Yzma either. I’ve got MUSCLES! Whoop whoop!

We (the Hammer and Chisel Challenge Group) completed the first month on Sunday and everyone posted the progress they had made since starting and OH MY GOODNESS. So cool. I love this community! I love being surrounded by people who are making living healthy a priority! Not “THE” priority in their life,  but “A” priority-so they can enjoy all the rest of their priorities, duh! Health is such a blessing, and a healthy foundation in your life opens up so many more opportunities and can enrich everything you undertake. It was awesome to see the toning up, the strength, the change in body shapes-muscles were popping up on everybody!

Personally, I have slimmed in some areas (thighs, hams, glutes, abs) and added in others (shoulders, triceps, back, calves). My measurements balanced to a net loss of 4.75 inches-I am beyond pleased. And the POWER! I am chaffing at the bit for some higher weight on some exercises-itty bitty arms that I have, I’m gunning for some guns! My squats are in total beast mode, no fudging, I get those hamstrings parallel to the ground. Par-all-flippin-el! I can do 4 chinups, so many more push ups, THREE consecutive pull ups (what what!) it feels so good! I’m still sore a lot, especially as I keep pushing the weight, and I love to see the crazy changes in my body shape.

You guys, I thought I was stuck. Despite running and exercise, I’ve been pretty much the same shape-just incrementally fluffier-for three years. And I was honestly not that bothered by it-sure I wished I could be a little fitter, but I assumed it would take hours at the gym or some extreme calorie restriction and I just ain’t about that. I started this beachbody thing with PiYo and I dropped a pound or two and started seeing some changes in my upper body, then I rolled into p90x3 and continued to see small, but steady improvements -but life happened and interrupted for about two months. When Hammer and Chisel started in January I actually started paying attention to the nutrition side of things and BAM now in a single month the changes are startling!

It is fantastic. I am so motivated to push through this next month. STICK TO THE PLAN. I’m loving this!