A for Effort…

Cade: “Mommy, pick up your weights!”

Me: “No, Mommy can’t use the weights for this one.”

Cade: “But they all have weights, Mommy.”

Me: “Mommy’s not quite strong enough yet, buddy.”

Little man loves to “help” me workout by pointing out whenever I’m not doing something exactly like “them”, but I don’t mind, it’s a fun way to engage while I get my workout completed. The above conversation, though, spurred a mini revelation about exercise in general.

So many times in life we are told we will be graded or evaluated on merit. Pretty much as soon as you enter the school system the idea of work for credit is ingrained into your brain. And I am all about fair evaluations and challenges to help us all grow and learn! But. I do remember a particular moment in middle school that changed my perspective on grades-and all subsequent evaluations-forever. In true ADHD fashion, I had painstakingly rendered by hand a picture of the Michigan flag for my state project. But since I was running out of time to complete the project when I finished the flag-and because pine trees are boring-I used pastels to hastily sketch the state tree. I accomplished everything else in the project to the letter, to the best of my little 6th grader brain ability.

I got a C on the project and a parent teacher conference. My teacher flat out said I cheated, since no-one who drew that flag would also draw that tree. I clearly had had blatant outside help. I was so confused. And devastated. I felt sick to my stomach. I had worked so hard to get that flag perfect. I internalized it as my own fault-not that I was a cheater, I was very hurt and upset by that accusation-but because clearly I had tried too hard. I should’ve halfway done both the tree and the flag, and then none of this would’ve happened.

“Work Smarter, Not Harder” is a slogan I’ve seen everywhere, and the hallmark of EMS. The job is hard enough, no need to make it any tougher. In our true culture of “easier, faster, better” skating through by doing things well but not appearing to put much effort into them is lauded as ideal.

Exercise is the opposite. If you skimp through your workout, you get no A for completion, you burn no extra calories, you win nothing. If you work your tail off and hit muscle failure halfway through-you reap far more. Exercise truly evaluates your EFFORT. I can skate through a lot of workout programs, I’m familiar with the moves, know ways to ease off certain muscle groups, can complete the bare minimum and still say I did it-but the only person that effects, is me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love to exercise. You get what you put in. You halfway do the workout you get half the results. You are sloppy and inattentive, you drastically increase your chance of injury. You remain focused and pour in your effort-you reap the rewards!

And there are always ways to improve. Recently I’ve really been paying attention to how I hold my abs in all of the exercises, how I draw them into my spine, remembering to engage them and not let them hang loose-this form protects my back AND works my muscles. When you do squats, you should give your backside a little extra squeeze at the top-not because you have to, but because that works the glutes just a little bit more. There are all kinds of ways to increase your effort in exercise, and I am never penalized for trying my hardest for the first half of the workout and then being barely able to complete the last ten minutes due to muscle fatigue. My effort is always duly rewarded and I take pleasure and satisfaction in that tiny little aspect.

SO go you, wherever you may be on your exercise adventure. Whether you are modifying everything or upping your weights every workout, your effort is paying off. There is no comparison here. One person does a pushup on her toes, another on her knees, both hit muscle failure by the end-BOTH earn an A for effort.

A Fitness Lament

I’m skinny, so I’m happy, right?

I’m skinny, so I’m healthy, right?

I’m skinny, so I’m good at sports, right?

I’m skinny, so I can run fast, right?

I’m skinny, so I should wear a bikini, right?

I’m skinny, so I should flaunt my assets, right?

I’m skinny, so I’m a bitch, right?

 

You don’t know the struggle, you don’t see the tipping of MY scales,

I’ve been bombarded with images of media since I was a girl,

telling me to be hotter, thinner, sexier. Telling me my body belongs to the highest bidder or the best con

-but not myself.

Telling me my worth is on the auction block based on the length of my thighs and the hollows in my cheeks.

I should be thankful for my genetics and flaunt what I’ve got.

 

It doesn’t matter that Docs told me I risked being infertile when I was 12 because I couldn’t gain weight

and now I’m thirty- hoping, praying, desperate for another child. Realizing what a miracle the conception of my babies were.

It doesn’t matter that I stand up in the middle of the night to answer their cries and pass out from blood pressure dropping to the floor.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve been on pills, supplements, diet changes (the works!) to fix the anemia that weighs me down like lead in my bones.

If I’m cold I’m just told I should put on some insulation, there is no way that it’s my thyroid since I’m too skinny for problems.

Problems dismissed, sorrow invalidated, frustration ignored-nothing’s wrong since I’m skinny and just complaining makes me bitchy, so shut up and be happy I’m so lucky.

 

Why do you work out? You don’t need to. Why don’t you eat pizza? You could use it.

Since when is cardiovascular exercise reserved for only the obese, like my heart will keep on pumping forever just fine since I’m skinny.

And my hormones will balance out just fine since I’m skinny.

And my muscles will just magically appear since I’m skinny.

And my bones won’t ever be brittle and fragile even though osteoporosis runs in my family-since I’m already skinny.

 

Stupid LIES health is important no matter the circumference of your waist,

whether there is fat on my muscles or not they need to be worked,

my bones need to be strengthened so I pick up my weights.

And as for food- am I the only one who sees that poor nutrition doesn’t just hurt your joints with extra weight but poisons your system and effects your entire life?

My body is a temple and a gift from the Lord, just look at the detail in scripture for the creation of the Tabernacle

-am I to treat the dwelling of the Holy Spirit with anything less than my best?

What is it to YOU that I care about the health of my gut or the strength of my back? Get off mine.

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!

End of an Era…

Ok, ok, that’s a little melodramatic, I mean, it wasn’t an entire era before Leo won an Oscar-but for him I bet it sure felt like one at times!

ANYway, moving on. That’s exactly what I did yesterday-moved on. Hammer and Chisel officially ended on Sunday for me. I completed the 8 weeks of exercise, I put my weights in my closet today, and pulled out my yoga mat. I really loved Hammer and Chisel, I’ll be revisiting it again I’m sure, but for now I need a break from weights. I get bored easily (hey, ADHD) and the battle becomes not necessarily to push play on a workout, but to push play on ANOTHER ONE OF THESE WORKOUTS I HAVE ALREADY DONE AT LEAST TWICE, AHHHHHHH!!! I was going a bit crazy at the end, I felt like I mentally drug myself kicking and screaming through this last week. It was such a relief to fold up the calander, and so satisfying to have completed it from start to finish!

I’ve lost quite a bit of fluff, added a nice amount of muscle (especially my legs. Man, I love them, they are totally “beast-y” as Sagi would say) and feel substantially stronger. My body shape has changed, not so much pant size as how the pants fit, lol. I’m quite a bit looser around the waist and hips, but my newly strengthened quads and calves make skinny jeans a bit problematic, haha. I love it! Maybe I should finally look into leggings. 😉 My favorite part about this strength training is the added strength to my joints. You guys, my joints suck. The number of times I’ve sprained an ankle is easily in the 20s. My hips are a mess (pregnancy and childbirth didn’t help). My wrists are weak, my one elbow is wonky from being fractured and dislocated (it still randomly “goes to sleep” on me when I’m laying down at night), my back is pretty much genetically disposed to fall apart vertebrae by vertebrae until a surgeon adds enough hardware to tack it upright again-the only joint I’ve never really struggled with are, oddly enough, my knees. I mean, sure, they’ve hurt a bunch from running, but I’ve never badly injured them.

Weightlifting requires good form to do safely. And for the past two months I have worked hard on perfecting that form. Maybe I could’ve upped the weights sooner for some exercises, but I knew how crappy my joints were and I didn’t want to screw up and get injured for the sake of my ego. Two weekends ago I took a false step while double carrying both boys in wedge shoes. I rolled my ankle. I caught my stumble with a beautiful side lunge and instantly righted myself with neither a boy dropped or barely even jostled. My thought was, “Crap. I just sprained an ankle.” Reality? It was a bit sore to walk on for a day. End story. I have sprained my ankle in combat boots tripping over my own feet, but rolling an ankle while awkwardly carrying an extra 60lbs of weight wearing 4inch high wedges and I barely get a strain? I was (am!) dumbfounded. My back no longer hurts picking up, putting back down, and carrying the boys. In fact, I haven’t had any back pain (lower or upper) for the past month!

The crowning achievement? I can sleep on my side without my hips screaming bloody murder. Even with a support pillow I’ve had to shift position frequently and often wake up sore since being pregnant with Cade (who will be three in a few months). I had resigned myself to this uncomfortableness as just a symptom of “getting older”. But now it’s gone! Now if only I could get the boys to sleep past 6am…

I am so proud of myself for sticking with this program. I struggle with finishing projects I start (just take a look at my “craft closet”….no, on second thought, don’t.) and two months seems like an eternity for me-but I did it! Not just the workouts (which get boring enough with repetition) but the meal plan!

What now? I’m doing a hybrid of some of my favorite workouts-mostly PiYo and p90x3, though after a week or two I’ll pull out some of my favorite Hammer workouts- while really focusing on adding some miles. I’m keeping one rest day on Thursday, but on Sunday I’m going to take it-not easier exactly, but calmer, and do some p90x3 yoga or isometric balance poses. Yesterday was PiYo, today was a 2 mile run pushing the stroller-maybe I’ll do some yoga tonight, too. We’ll see.

Onwards!

Diet

Diet was a four letter word when I was growing up. Dieting was a self-destructive cycle that hinged on a disordered relationship with food and wellness. They were the quack schemes of the body image world, the motivation being a “get skinny quick” fix that had little to do with actual health. My understanding and opinion of dieting hasn’t changed, but the clarity of what a diet is has become increasingly confusing. Diet also basically means-what you eat. I’m not ON a diet, but I have changed my diet. …But does being intentional about my food automatically make me on a diet? Is the only way to avoid the black hole of food obsession to embrace all foods whenever, however, and however much I want? I just need to love my body, no matter how unhealthy it gets, and not think at all about what I’m eating past the pleasure it gives me while consuming it?

The past two weeks of Hammer and Chisel the honeymoon phase of good nutrition wore off completely and I’ve been struggling to stay on track. As I’ve struggled I’ve wondered quite simply SHOULD I be struggling? Am I becoming obsessed with food? Is the temptation to eat “just one more cracker” really a temptation? Or is it a warning flag telling me that I’m becoming neurotic about portion control and I need to ease off before I head into a self destructive spiral? Am I simply overthinking this?

So the second part of my nutrition reflections is an uncomfortable revelation for me. It is the Lenten season-something that I have participated in for awhile even though I am not Catholic-and in this past year especially I have been working hard on adjusting my priorities to make my family truly Christ centered. Becoming a parent changes your awareness on so many levels, and never have I thirsted more for a solid relationship with my Savior than in the midst of panicking over my responsibilities as a mom. My choices of sacrifices for this Lent reflects that, and boy has it opened my eyes.

In a nutshell, I worship the pleasure of food. Mind, body, and soul, I love food. The taste, the texture, the sensation-food is glorious. When I started this clean eating journey I went from indulging in a box of girl scout cookies in one sitting and hot dogs for breakfast to reading labels at the store, meal planning at night, food prepping during nap,and taking pride in my culinary progress and the healthy food provided for my family. There is nothing wrong with eating clean, meal planning/prepping, enjoying food, etc., etc., -until there is. The thing is, whether it’s cookies or grapes, I just can’t resist having “one more” because I want “one more”. I could be way past comfortably full and I still have a hard time cutting myself off. Add into that an actual portioned meal plan that has me thinking about food constantly and I have set food on an alter by giving it importance beyond what it deserves.

Wait, what? I know, I know, seems completely contradictory. Let me try and explain.

I believe eating healthy, balanced, and properly portioned is crucial for total wellness.

Eating in such a manner requires planning, preparation, and knowledge. It requires intention and yes, discipline.

BUT. When meal planning edges out Bible study, when food prep causes me to snarl at my children, when I feel pressured to be pushing my skills in the kitchen because of “clean” recipes I find online, when I spend more time during my day thinking on or handling food than time with my children, my husband, my God-there is a problem. And the problem, for me, is that I worship the pleasure food brings. I enjoy food so much it trumps more important aspects of my life. I couldn’t resist browsing Pinterest for recipes anymore than I could resist snacking while I read a favorite book.

We like to think of money as the major tripper upper of false idols-and it’s definitely a big one-but in this land of plenty I wonder how many of us consume our idols at the table. Like I said, this was an eye opener for me, but I am SO GLAD my eyes have been opened. Yes, I have a struggle ahead of me to place food where it belongs, but even as the balance is just beginning to right itself already our home is calmer and happier for it.

Food is good, God is better.

 

 

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.

weights

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)