Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week Three: Skittles Do NOT Count as a Fruit Serving


So, between my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, I have around 240 food items.  This is the kitchen my kids holler in about having nothing to eat.  Nearly everything in my pantry is processed.  We may not eat enough raw broccoli, but we are getting plenty of soy lecithin and sodium acid pyrophosphate.  Most have at least fourteen ingredients, and there is an excellent chance our blood has turned to straight high fructose corn syrup.

This bothers me.

When I started this FOOD Fast, I thought that removing the items that I'm most addicted to would be enough for me to see a huge difference in the way that I felt about food.  Not having my morning Pepsi and chocolate donut; refraining from an every other day taco run; abstaining from a nightly cocktail would rid my body of the hold that food has had in my life. Doing so, however, has just increased my awareness of every other bad thing that I consume on a daily basis.

I have friends who have transitioned their lives to full vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. These are good friends who I see on a weekly basis and I continually poke fun at their eating habits. You don't eat MEAT? Not even EGGS? Where do you get your protein?? How do you survive without Chick-Fil-A??  You un-American, YOU!  I would now like to recant my ridicule.  I do think there is a method to your madness.  You won't see me giving up my double cheeseburgers cold turkey anytime soon, but I am now comprehending the error of my ways in the food department. Most of what we have eaten, even over the last three weeks so far has been processed, in a can, frozen foods, or something Hamburger Helper related. Chef-Boy-R-Dee is our best bud, yo!  But in my relentless pursuit to view food as "nutrition" instead of a "social event", I am not satisfied anymore with what my family is consuming. All the soda, chocolate, pork, fast food, alcohol (only the tall people, guys. Don't dial CPS just yet!) aside, we are STILL not eating what we should.  This fast has only begun the transformation that I want to make in our eating habits. I'm not wanting to jump off the deep end and go live in an agricultural commune and only consume organic foods from goats, cows, and chickens that make residence in our backyards, but something has got to change. I'm in the process of doing some research and coming up with practical solutions to integrate into our lives.  I've started the book, In Defense of Food and it is starting to revolutionize my ideas about what nutrition means. The gist of the book:  Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

Our grandmas ate local meat and vegetables from their own gardens; we eat PopTarts and Velveeta. Over the course of a few generations, our foods have evolved and what we are left with now is food that has actually made us less healthy and considerably fatter. Four of the top ten causes of death in America today are chronic diseases with well-established links to our industrialized diets: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. These health plagues remain rare in countries where people don't eat like we do.

One thought that has really stood out to me was made by Jen Hatmaker in her 7 book:  We get to vote three times a day against this toxic food supply with our forks.

In the spirit of spiritual wisdom gained this week, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 has weighed heavy on me.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

I think week three has taught me two main things. One, I can say no to the things that I know are tearing my body down.  I've done that by adhering to the seven food rules I've set up for myself. But beyond that, I have the ability to take it a step farther and choose what I do eat. I don't have to eat out of convenience.  It takes a bit more planning and foresight and research, but each and every thing I put in my body either fuels it or tears it down.  And God has given me the freedom to choose daily how I will honor Him with my body.  The second thing that I've learned is conviction increases with knowledge. When I didn't know any better, just out of pure naivety, I didn't feel convicted about each and every little thing that I ate. The more I know, the more I research, the more I feel convicted about what I put in.  It becomes not just about doing what is healthiest, but doing what I feel is right for me. ( I SAY for me, because just as I don't feel as if living the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is right for ME, my friends feel as if it is right for THEM.  God convicts everyone's heart differently about different things.)  I feel like I have a responsibility now to my family, to myself, to make better choices.

 James 4:17 says:  So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.

It's about time for me to grow up and start looking at food as another opportunity that I have to make a difference.  If I make better decisions for me, then I can be a good example to others about how to "honor God with my body".  I'd like to be around as long as possible for my family and children in particular. This is another way that I can do that. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Simplifying Food: Week Two Update


First and foremost, I have to say that this week has made me realize what a BRAT I truly am. You would think something as small as a simple fast wouldn't have such a dramatic effect. After all, it's not like I've given up food all together! I've just set seven rules in place to create some much-needed healthy limits on my food intake and the rest of it is a "free-for-all". I still have so much freedom, yet I've felt trapped most of the week.  It seems all of the things I crave are the things that I've given up.  Let's recap, for those that have forgotten, exactly what I'm fasting from this month:

*No Fast Food
*No Soda/Pop
*No Alcohol
*No Pork
*No Eating after 7 p.m.
*Only One Grocery Trip a week
*No Chocolate

Which one of them has been the hardest for me to adhere to?  ALL. OF. THEM. Geez, I'm pathetic.

It seems as though I have been living a lifestyle that is way too much "on the go". So much so that I never plan ahead what my family will eat ahead of time, and making the possibility of grabbing something fast food pretty much inevitable. It's been a struggle all week, with trips to the Science Museum around lunch time to mall trips around dinner time. I'm learning that I'm not a planner. I'm a "spontaneous eater" by nature. I graze. A little here, a little there, but hardly ever a little at home. That's been changing as I've learned to schedule our outings a bit after some REALLY late dinners and really cranky kids made me realize that's not acceptable. So, I'm adapting.

Let's talk caffeine. I'm not sure how people do life without it. For years I have suffered through existence with a Big Gulp in the morning to wake me up enough to endure people, and then have refilled throughout the day.  This has been to all of your benefits. I'm really not a nice person without a healthy dose of caffeine running through my veins. I'm still getting my caffeine, but in a bit more creative ways. Since the NO SODA rule, I've been popping Excedrin tablets like their going out of style. Before you deem me a druggie, know that the lack of soda has given me daily headaches and Excedrin (that happens to be chalked full of caffeine) allows me to grin and bare it when I really want to crawl into a corner and cry.  I've also taken my morning coffee to a whole new level. I used to drink it only in the fall/winter. But having a morning java has saved my children from many near-death experiences over the last two weeks. I tell them on a daily basis, "Folgers has saved your lives again."  Not to make myself sound too ridiculously pathetic, I have started drinking water again. You know, the stuff on tap in your OWN homes that's FREE?!  I add a little Mio and Viola!  I'm finding I'm not so dehydrated all the time.  This is something I plan to stick to after this whole fast is over.

Mostly this week I've realized that my slightly reduced life is still extraordinary in every way.  There are so little boundaries and no end to my advantages. For whatever reason, I was born into privilege:  I've never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been blessed.  Ridiculously blessed--relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  My life is so happy, it's almost embarrassing.  And yet I let little things like the fact that I can't run through a drive-thru window or grab a soda obstruct my view on reality. I can't see how blessed I am most days because I'm  not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak. I've been concentrating too much on the few things that I can't have instead of all the endless things that I do have at my disposal. I have more food (even with all the limitations) in one single day than most of the earth's population see their whole lives. If anything is ridiculous, it's that fact. How many times do we really stop and think about that? If we did, I think it would revolutionize the way we think about food.

My husband and I are desperately trying to afford a mission trip coming up in November. We are saving money and planning on visiting Nicaragua, one of the "third-world-countries" in Central America.  I'm not entirely sure what defines a "third-world-country", but I know it involves a poverty like we cannot fathom in the United States. We see hunger, we see poverty, we see a down slide in our economy. . .But we know nothing about this level of desperation. We want to use what resources that we've been blessed with to go there and bless others. Whether that is with food, relational support, or just old-fashioned care and concern. This fast has opened my eyes to the fact that I don't know much about "need". I'm so looking forward to having my eyes opened in November to what a "need" truly looks like. It's not just a craving for a bit of fast food or a soda. It probably looks a lot more like a mom going to bed hungry so that both of her children have at least a little something in their bellies. My children don't know that feeling. I don't know that feeling.

"Tell me about the world before.  What was it like?"
We didn't even know what was precious.  
We threw away things that people would kill for today."
-The Book of Eli

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Should Be Ashamed of Myself. . .But I'm Not.


So here I am, in the middle of a FAST. I'd like to think I'm doing this for health purposes, but truthfully, it's more of an emotional, mental, and spiritual thing. The bonus is that when I couple it with certain rules that benefit my physical health, it's a Win/Win.  Of course, I'm not fasting from food completely. It seems to be more of a cleansing; a detox. I'm quite enjoying it, actually.  But I will tell you, I'm not counting calories, watching my portions, or even eating very clean.  I should be ashamed of myself. . .but I'm not.  Instead, I'm rather proud of the fact that although I'm eating some frozen foods, loads of preservatives, and sometimes going back for seconds, I am NOT eating chocolate, drinking pop or alcohol, abstaining from fast foods, and not consuming anything after 7 p.m. For the last 7 days.  That's a new record for me.  All the things that I've mentioned above are things that I have struggled with for years and the things that I truly believe have put me in the physical handicap that I've found myself in for the last 5 years.  I'm 7 days sober. So I am proud. I'm mastering these things, and as it becomes habit and second nature to refrain from these addictions, I'll slowly learn to eat cleaner and limit myself in other ways.  Baby steps, I tell ya.  This is the way to success for me it seems.

I have not been running. Ever since we arrived home from vacation, it's been rough.  Now that I've gotten over the initial withdrawals of abstaining from all of my other addictions, I am ready to concentrate once again on my goal.  No, I have not lost all vision.  I WILL become a Marathon Mom one of these days. I desperately want that for myself. Time to climb back on the horse. I plan on running this evening with my new pal, Ms. Pepper Potts.  Here she is, my new running partner.
I hope she can keep up!
So, running friends everywhere, my question for today is:  What do I need to know about running in the Fall? I've never ran in the cooler season, and I'm excited to be able to hit the pavement and not die of heat exhaustion for once!  What are some tips and tricks for running in the cold? Tell me all about it. . .

Friday, August 31, 2012

Simplifying Food: Week One Update


Well, I can honestly say that this week has been a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. Let me give you some examples:

Monday:  In-laws came over for dinner and didn't arrive until later than we normally have dinner. "Rule: NO Eating After 7 p.m" broken first night out of the gate. Lovely. But I cooked one of our 7 Meals for the week, so at least we were on track there.

Tuesday:  I seriously struggled with whether or not the Nutella in my cupboard was, indeed, considered "chocolate". I mean, it's hazelnut spread really. It shouldn't violate my Rule of "NO Chocolate", right? Yea. . .I didn't think I could justify it either. So I convinced the hubby to eat it as fast as he possibly could so it would stop being a temptation.  The things he does for me. . .:)

Wednesday:  All I wanted to do was grab a quick pizza for dinner. There's always so much rushing in between school and getting the kids to church and then to our couple's bible study.  A cheap "hot and ready" would really hit the spot right now, but that goes against the Rule "NO Fast Food", so I came home and made our cheeseburger macaroni meal that was planned. And wouldn't you know, we were still on time for everything.

Thursday:  I ran out of bread. This is not something that should be allowed during this whole 7 experiment since all I can have for lunches is sandwiches or protein shakes. In order to avoid breaking my Rule "ONLY ONE shopping trip per week", I improvised and made us turkey wraps with tortillas instead of turkey sandwiches. Same diff.

As you can see, I'm struggling a bit with the boundaries that I've set up for myself.  I've also had to answer a bunch of questions as to why I can't have this or that or why I've made up these rules for myself. Most of my answers include the phrase, "As a means of fasting. . .and just to see if I can pull it off".  Really, it's causing me to do the one thing that I set out for it to do.  This whole process is making me extremely aware of the fact that I'm very used to food being readily available and at my disposal.  I realize how often I eat without really putting a lot of thought into what I'm eating.  I'm coming to grips with the fact that food is a means of security for me.  It's my comfort.  In turn, I'm really learning how to cope with the stresses of daily life without using food as a crutch.  As something I can reach out to when I'm bored or vulnerable.  I'm learning that I've seen food as a hobby, something that I do socially, and something that is meant to be enjoyed and not what it really is--nutrition.  I've removed the convenience of food by doing this experiment. It's no longer something that I can do without thinking. At least for the duration of these three more weeks.

I will say that I have focused so much on myself this week and what I could not have because of the rules that I have set for myself. This was not my intention and I really hope as this fast continues, my focus will move from food to inner change.  I pray it will bring me more to a place of thankfulness for what I have.  And I pray it will bring me closer to God. I feel like this turning point is just around the corner. I so want for this time of surrender will bring me to a place of hunger for God that I've not known for some time. I know Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. Even HE fasted, in order to get closer to the Father, to get closer to God. I want that hunger. I want to turn every stomach growl into a reminder to pray.  I want for every craving to remind me that I need to physically crave Jesus more and more as well. I want to leave this four weeks of fasting in the food department  full of God.  After Jesus' fast, He then began healing, rescuing, and redeeming.  The Spirit filled up the emptiness Jesus created, launching Him into ministry.  In some supernatural way the abstinence from food was the catalyst that Jesus needed.  Never again would Jesus fly under the radar.  His powerful ministry was activated after His fast from food. After thirty years on earth, His story truly began.

"He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them, he was hungry." (Luke 4:2)

I want to be that hungry.

Here's to three more weeks!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Looking At Food From A Different Angle



We've all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more "stuff" makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished.  I've truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn't mean very much to me. Just ask my husband in the way that I take care of my mess of a car, continuously pile clutter in every corner of my house, and resolve to the fact that we will never have super nice furniture because we have kids. I'm okay with it. To a certain extent, I've been a horrible steward of my stuff. I should take better care of what I'm given/what we afford. I've just always had a very "disposable" mentality about stuff. It's here today, it's helpful, if it breaks/is stolen/goes through the ringer, it's okay. It's all disposable and we will just get something else. I trick myself into thinking that my stuff does not own me.  Maybe it doesn't. But my perspective on my stuff does. Just because I don't cling to my stuff, doesn't mean I don't take it for granted. I'm not concerned with it being gone, because "out with the old, in with the new". Do you struggle with this? Or do you hold on to your possessions as if they define you? 

Enter the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and my life is wrecked. 

Well, great. 

I was scrambling to find interesting books to read on our vacation to South Padre Island last week.  Remember, it was a grueling 13 hour car ride one way and I needed something to distract me in the car as well as on the beach. Boy, did I find something worthwhile! Well, little did I know at the time (God sure knew at the time!  He’s so sneaky) that this simple-looking book carried a BIG message.  A message that would stick with me all vacation.   


I wonder how many people have sat at a beautiful ocean condo pool and read a book about EXCESS?  It sounds awfully ironic – doesn’t it?  Well…for me, it just didn't set right. And since I've started it (and many months leading up to this as well) things didn't seem right for us as a family. Don't get me wrong, we were enjoying a beautiful week on the beach, thanks to a gift from my parents and were oh, so thankful for this time. We have been blessed more than just about anybody, but our souls have been unsettled for some time about the lifestyle/world we live in. 

Yes, that photo above is me being convicted in South Padre and naturally I posted it on Instagram (Yes, I like Instagram…sue me!) The caption should have read, “Not an easy book to read while on vacation.  Try reading it at the pool…in your ocean condo…while your kids argue about cable TV stations.”  It did feel wrong.  I was so spoiled at that moment.  No, it wasn’t wrong to go on vacation.  Actually, it was an amazing free blessing/gift to our family and we are humbled by the love that has been shown to us.  It just wasn’t an ideal place to read about excess. Not at all.  We just have so much stuff and are so selfish.  Don’t you ever get tired of how greedy we have become?  It seems like the more we get  -  the more we THINK we need.  We feel like we DESERVE it all.  It’s a terrible cycle and I am ready to get off.  Something definitely has got to give.  I soaked in each word and let it simmer in my mind and heart.  This stuff isn’t new but Jen Hatmaker did something about it.  She put feet to her words.  I spilled my many thoughts and feelings to Hubs.  He probably thought that this was just “one of those books” and I would be fine in a few days.  But he was wrong.  The earlier simmer has come to a full blown boil.  Well, do you know what is next?  I will not just be another woman who simply reads this book and says that it’s a “life changing” book.  I want to do.  I want to act.  I want to be wrecked to the point of change.  Reading isn’t enough for me.  This has shaken me to the core.  It’s official.  I don’t want to be comfortable anymore.  It’s been coming.  God has been working. And now, more than ever is the time to step out and do something about the culture that we've been living and consuming in as a family. 

I've decided to devote the next seven months to this experiment that Jen Hatmaker outlined in the book.  She focuses on seven areas of access in a person's life, and dissects each, choosing a way to fast, so to speak, from each area. The 7 areas are: Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, Stress. Everyone is different, every family's needs are not the same, and everyone finds their life "excess" to be different.  I will not be conquering 7 the same way that Jen does. I will be making minor modifications so that this time of reflection and fasting really resonates with us specifically. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm making modifications because Jen is a HERO in the fasting department and there is no way that I could actually pull off some of the stuff she has come up with! So I will improvise. Bare with me. :)

Before you start thinking that I am a radical or that this is just yet another one of my thingsneed something like this. We need God to shake us up, meet us intimately, and give us new direction. This is not just a social experiment.  This is a grasping for the new life God has for us. For that, and two main reasons, I'm pursuing this time of fasting. The first and foremost is repentance.  7 will be a tangible way to bow low and repent of greed, ungratefulness, ruined opportunities, and irresponsibility.  It's time to admit that I'm trapped in the machine, held by my own selfishness. It's time to face our spending and call it what it is: a travesty.  I'm weary of justifying it.  So many areas are out of control, so much need for transformation.  What have we been eating?  What are we doing? What have we been buying?  What are we wasting?  What are we missing?  These questions grieve me, as they should and I'm ready for some deconstruction in my life. 

The second reason is for preparation.  Most of my life is in front of me. I'm only 30 years old and only 5 years into my assignment as a mother.  The bulk of my life-work lies ahead of me. My children are young--still entirely impressionable.  It's not too late to untether them from the lie of "more".  Our new mission as a family is really just beginning.  I'm hungry of the reconstruction of something so much bigger than ourselves. 

This whole thing is so WEIRD. Really, it's okay to think I'm becoming one of those Christians. But in the words of our pastor, "I welcome WEIRD. Normal isn't working anymore." It's not. I'm sure that most of Jesus' ideas werent' so popular either.  I'm convinced that He got the "I-thought-you-were-normal-but-now-I-see-I-was-clearly-wrong" face plenty of times. He seriously knew how to thin out a crowd.  He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified.  He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him.  It's as simple as that. If limiting myself of my favorite things for 7 months can help Jesus overcome me, then so be it.  I'm okay with an oddball label. 

This first month, I will focus on food.  I've picked only 7 meals that our family will eat for the entire month. We may get tired of these 7 meals, but we will cling to the fact that this is all we have to eat. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Well, you are correct. I've also added 7 rules for myself in the food department that may cinch the line in a bit and really make the fast this month more uncomfortable. These 7 extra Food Rules Are: *NO Fast Food.  *NO chocolate.  *NO pop/soda.  *NO alcohol.  *ONLY ONE grocery trip per week.  *NO Pork.  *NO EATING after 7 pm. 

I'm starting this first phase this Monday.  Every Friday, I'll give a summary on the blog as to how it is going and what kind of spiritual/emotional knowledge I am gaining from this time. I recognize that this is a fitness blog, and some of you may not care about how I am cutting back in the other areas of my life, but bare with me. This should be a worthwhile experiment and should develop some disciplines in me that I have lacked before.  In the meantime, I HIGHLY recommend you go buy/borrow the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Eye-opening, I tell ya! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eating Out Without Ruining Your Diet



Come on, we’re women! What woman wouldn’t love to eat out over having to slave in the kitchen for hours, right? But we’re women, which means that weight loss is ever present on our minds. So how does one combine those two important things – eating out and weight loss? Here is some advice and tips that I've recieved on it!



1. CHOOSE SALAD

Just because you’re eating out doesn’t mean that you can’t choose a healthy dish! And what could be more healthy (and more delicious!) than a beautiful salad? Colorful and so yummy, and totally healthy! Can’t beat that, can you? And you can find salads at just about any place you choose to eat – even McDonalds!

2. RESEARCH

So many restaurants have a web page with menu information. Why not spend 20 minutes looking over the menu, so you have your healthy food choice picked out before you go. This will eliminate the chance for you to cave in your weakest moment of smelling the food. Go in, ready to order, and don’t even glance at the menu there – you already know what you want, right?

3. BEWARE OF THE “LITTLE EXTRAS”

Words like “breaded”, “gravy”, “cream sauce” or “extra toppings” should be avoided! Extras like these mean extra fat and calories that you want to avoid! Stick to the plain and simple!

4. MODIFY

Don’t be afraid to ask that your meal be brought out different. Most places don’t mind if you request your dressings and sauces on the side, or even to leave the batter off. They want happy customers that will return!

5. AVOID FRIED THINGS

As much as that fried chicken tastes so good, it isn’t good for you. Instead, choose grillede, roasted or broiled. And if chicken is getting old, go for beef loin or flank. This is the more lean beef cuts available.

6. GO FRUITY

Bonkers for bananas? Go fruity with a fruit plate instead of fattening desserts. Strawberries, grapes, melons – these are all sweet, delicious, and healthy for a wonderful dessert tray!

7. BYPASS THE BUFFET


Buffets are so tempting, because they offer such a variety of choices. However, they are incredibly tempting to over-eat! It is hard to stick to just one plate. If you must go to a buffet (sometimes those husbands just don’t understand our need for less food) give yourself only bite size proportions of the (healthy!) food you choose. That way, two trips to the buffet won’t be so hard on your waist line!
Eating out is so much fun, and it’s wonderful to not have to deal with cooking and cleaning up. It’s very important, though, to think wisely when choosing a restaurant, and what we eat there. If you practice enough, it will quickly become second nature to eat out and eat healthy all at the same time! Do you have another eating out/dieting tip to share? Please do!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

7 Ways To "Get-Up-And-Go" In The Mornings



It’s morning! Rise and shine! Or in my case, Rise and "glow" ever-so-dimly. That's about all you get.  Are you like me? Do you have a problem just hearing that alarm and getting up? Heaven, help us! I don’t do mornings very well at all. So, here are a few things I have found that have helped me to hop to it when morning comes!



1. SET MORE THAN ONE ALARM

Sure, go ahead and set an alarm right beside you, where snooze is close by, but if you really need to get up, set another, more annoying alarm (in my case, the irritating "duck call" ring tone) in the next room, or at lease across the room where you must get out of bed to turn it off. That’s sure to get you up – as long as you don’t dive back in the bed!

2. WATCH YOUR BEDTIME

I don’t know what it is with us adults, but for some reason, we think that because we’re all grown up now, that bedtime doesn’t matter anymore. This is my nightly struggle! It's my only ALONE time, to do what I want and not have to listen to the demands of little people. However, if you have to get up at 6 A.M. it isn’t wise to be awake at 1 and 2 in the morning! Go to bed!

3. LOVE CAFFEINE

If you haven’t fallen in love already, it is a good idea to start dating Mr. Coffee! I hate black coffee and because of that, I’ve stayed away from coffee for years. Lately, I’ve discovered the deliciousness of International Delight creamers that come in a variety of awesome flavors! I have fallen in love the Chocolate Caramel, and my favorite, Caramel Mocchiato! Heaven in a cup!

4. TRAIN YOURSELF

I found this really cool blog article. This man says that he re-trained his mind to get up as soon as the alarm goes off, by holding practice sessions during the day. You can read his entire article here: stevepavlina.com.

5. TURN ON SOME MUSIC

It’s good to bring your spirits up with some jive-y tunes in the morning. So, shut the alarm off and straight over to your favorite station for some morning music! Dance on the way to the shower. . .or on the way to lace up those sneakers and head out for your morning torture session--Exercise/Run. Maroon5 and Nelly can help comfort you along the way. 

6. SHOWER

While some prefer showering before bed, to get the day’s dirt off, I prefer a morning shower. It’s a great way to wake up! Splash some cold water on your face at the sink, then step into a nice, warm, refreshing shower to begin your day!

7. LET THE SUNSHINE IN

I love that song my Mama used to sing when I was a kid…”So let the sunshine in, face it with a grin. Smilers never lose and frowners never win. So let the sunshine in, face it with a grin, open up your heart and let the sunshine in.” Get up and get those windows open. Sunlight is good for you in so many ways. Not only the vitamin D, but also, scientists say that it regulates serotoninlevels, which decides whether you’re sad or happy. That’s why many people in places like Alaska suffer from depression – the lack of sunshine!
I hope these tips have helped learn how you can wake up and get to where you need to go, on time. How do you wake up on time?

Monday, August 13, 2012

When It's Hotter Than Hot. . .


Have you seen the temps in the Midwest lately?  Oklahoma City, I kid you NOT, was hotter than Death Valley, California nine days out of ten the last few weeks! Here's a little snapshot of our prior week:


Our Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallins issued a news release last week asking Oklahomans to pray for rain. She wrote:
“I encourage Oklahomans of all faiths to join me this Sunday in offering their prayers for rain. For the safety of our firefighters and our communities and the well-being of our crops and livestock, this state needs the current drought to come to an end. The power of prayer is a wonderful thing, and I would ask every Oklahoman to look to a greater power this weekend and ask for rain.”
CBS News sheds light on just how intense the weather has been:
For 47 straight days, temperatures in Oklahoma City have topped 90 degrees. There has only been one day below 100 so far this month, and it’s expected to top the century mark through at least next Friday.
This summer’s searing heat is setting new records. This month alone high temperatures have been tied or broken over 800 times.

I don't know about you, but this is so discouraging when all I want to do is go for a nice, brisk, cool morning run when I wake up. Even then, at 6 a.m., we are looking at 95 degrees! No bueno. My fitness/run goals have been hit and miss, to say the least.

I hope the weather where you are is a bit more reasonable, but if it's not, you can take some of these ideas that I've (with the help of Pinterest!) come up with to stay cool and beat the heat!


1. CREATE A SHORE STORY

One of my personal favorite things to do when it’s hot outside is to visit my local park, which happens to be right next to a lake. I usually round up the kiddos, grab a large sheet, and sit right next to the refreshing water. If you’re feeling particularly brave, go ahead and jump in –the water might be a bit chilly, but wouldn’t you rather take a dive than sit there letting your make-up melt off your face

2. BUY SOME BALLOONS

Fill ‘em up with water and stage an epic fight. A water balloon battle in the backyard is a fun and an inexpensive way to cool down fast. And it’s perfect if you have kiddos –or are a kid at heart!

3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE AC

If you rely on your trusty air conditioner and are in search of something to do when it’s hot outside, consider kicking back and relaxing. Mix a fresh pitcher of iced tea, crank up your new summer playlist, and delve into the romance novel you’ve been meaning to read for the past month. Or, take a cue from yours truly and watch “Law and Order” reruns. They don’t disappoint (believe me, I know).

4. HOST A SLEEPOVER

Though I’m in my thirties, I’ve never quite gotten over the girly greatness of a sleepover. Get your best friend or sister on the phone and tell her to check out a few flicks on her way over. Meanwhile, order delicious take out and get your nail polish ready. It’s going to be a long –and chill– night!

5. START A BLOG

One creative thing to do when it’s hot outside is to sign up for your very own blog. For me, it all started last year on a miserably boring September afternoon and a simple Blogger.com account. Today, I have a few hundred regular readers and a parenting/health blog I update every other day.  Blogging about your passions can lead you to scoring a job doing what you love. Plus, it’ll improve your writing skills and help you make valuable friends and connections. Pretty good for a hobby, no?

6. UNLEASH YOUR INNER SHOPAHOLIC

Lots of ladies know that online shopping is a wonderful thing, especially when you do it with your gal pals. I’d use the heat as an excuse to hit up my usual haunts for summertime essentials –and since you have time to kill, don’t forget to check retailmenot.com to save a few bucks.

7. WHIP UP SOME DEVILISHLYDELICIOUS DESSERTS

No oven needed! From refreshing smoothies to mouthwatering pies and everything in between, there are countless recipes out there. I’d start with cookinglight.com for some healthy (and not so healthy) sweet treats that’ll help you beat the heat.

8. CATCH UP ON YOUR “ME” TIME

One thing to do when it’s hot outside is to hop in your air conditioned car and walk around a local museum or aquarium. It’ll help you stay cool and learn a few neat facts that you can brag about. After you’ve taken a peek at all you can handle, treat yourself to a fresh smoothie at the local cafĂ© or a mani/pedi at the nail salon. Don’t hold back girl –you deserve it!
These are only a few of the coolest things to do (pun intended) when it’s hot outside. I won't pretend that I haven't escaped to the beach this week. . .the hubs and kiddos and I are on our way to South Padre Island, TX to lie on the beach and rest and relax for 8 glorious days! But if I were home, I would be taking advantage of any/all of these ideas.  Which ones will you try? Do you have cool-down methods of your own? Do tell!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reasons I Run. . .


Sometimes, all you need is a little visual stimulation. Here's for those days. 
The following are reasons that I run. Every day. 
They may not make sense to everyone, but they make sense to me.
They make a difference in my ongoing decision to RUN. . .
To keep training for that elusive marathon idea.
I know it will happen someday. 
I'm not proud of my before pics. They are quite repulsing.
But someday, I want to look back on them fondly and think to myself,
"Whoa, you sure came a long way!"
 Is it totally vain and conceited that I want to be a "bikini-clad mom"?
Oh, well, that IS the case.  And I will get there. 
Unfortunately, it may not be this beach vacation, but the next one. . .
Oh, it's most certainly ON!
 I cannot count how many times I have lost the weight
only to have it come flooding back
because I was careless and didn't take care of my overall health.  
The changes that I'm making this time are for long-term results.
Running AND nutrition.  It's the only way this will work.
 You know I'm right.
 I'm a happier girl after my runs. 
That's putting it simply. 
The high I get from all the natural endorphins are way better 
than the temporary high of an energy drink. 
 A bunch of you friends can relate to starting something and not finishing.
My follow-through has always been a tad broken.
This goal with NOT be one of those. 
I run because I want to prove to myself and others that I can.
 Wouldn't this be fun?
So many of my friends are personal trainers. 
I have no intention of starting a business like they have. 
More than that, I want to be able to give advice to the people I care about most.
Advice that comes from trial and triumph. 
 I regret every day that I don't run.
Every. Single. One. 
I see it as a missed opportunity to add progress. 
 I'm so tired of clothes shopping and not finding anything to fit my body type. 
I used to love heading into those dressing rooms, arms full of clothes 
and swimsuits. I loved buying things that expressed my personality.
One of these days I hope to experience that again.
 All my fellow moms know exactly what I'm screaming here. 
26.2 miles of peace and quiet, 
rocking out to your own music,
basking in your own private thoughts without the 
constant interruption of little people demanding more and more of you. . .
Running is heaven on earth. 
The longer my runs, the longer I get to reside there.
I see glimpses of the me that I can become just by accomplishing this one goal in my life. 
Being proud of oneself is something that cannot have a price tag attached to it.
It's gold.  It's priceless.
Far too few times in life do we have self-defining moments.
Most of the time, we get lost in our days, 
our routines, our responsibilities.
Reaching your dreams brings you out of the ruts and into the spotlight,
even if only for a moment. 
I run for that moment.

Keep on, Keeping On Amigas!
And shed some insight into some of YOUR reasons for running: 
I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Favorite Songs To Sweat To

Summer is in full swing, and if you're suffering from the heat wave that has been affecting so many regions, the thought of sweating through your workouts may be hard to bear. You can do a lot to stay cool in the summer heat (exercising in the shade, putting an ice pack in your sports bra or under your hat, and wearing moisture-wicking workout clothes), but you can only do so much to motivate yourself to get going. If you need help putting a pep in your step, start with your music. It makes such a difference in motivating you to get out the door and keeping your going!


The last few weeks in Oklahoma have been brutal. We're talking, 105 degrees at 8:30 p.m. as the sun is setting and I'm heading out for my daily run. I feel like I have massive boob sweat before I ever make it down the driveway. It's too much. If I didn't have my iPod stocked with loads of bumping tunes to motivate me, I'm not sure anything could keep me from falling to one, massive sweat heap on the pavement. 

There are so many great songs out right now that I'm having a hard time adding them to my own workout playlists fast enough. To make it easier for you, here are the sweet 16 songs I'm sweating to (and loving it) so far this summer. 

(Links go to amazon.com for mp3 purchases.)

Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo – Let's Go


David Guetta ft. Sia – Titanium (This is my jam! I listen to it on repeat during my runs.)


Ellie Goulding – Lights


Imagine Dragons – It's Time (only $0.25 on amazon.com!)


Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built


The Killers – Runaways


Linkin Park – Burn It Down


Maroon 5 – Payphone


Neon Trees – Everybody Talks (Everything on this album rocks.)


Owl City ft. Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time


P!nk – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)


Pitbull – Back In Time


Rihanna – Where Have You Been


Train – Drive By


Usher - Scream


Walk The Moon – Anna Sun (currently a free download on amazon.com!)
 

What songs are you sweating to this summer?