Failure

This morning I came home from the food store and the library to a messy house.  I don’t mean mess like a-few-toys-on-the-floor kind of mess…I mean mess like marker-on-the-couch-and-the-kitchen-smells-because-of-the-dishes-that-need-to-be-washed-from-a-week-ago kind of mess.  I had snapped at the store when my daughter kicked me in the head and I felt like I was getting mean glares at the library due to my unruly 2 and 3-year-old kids.  I felt like a failure and the tears were close to spilling over.

Both kids are sleeping now, the marker is off the couch, the dishwasher is running and I have had a few minutes to reflect on my morning.  Recently, Timothy Keller posted something on Facebook that stuck with me.  He said, “Don’t let success go to your head, nor let failure go to your heart.”  I needed to be reminded of this today when failure was starting to go to my heart.

I realized that Keller’s thoughts can be applied to the realm of healthy living.  It is easy to let the success of weight loss or marathons or all-county titles go to one’s head.  It is also easy to let the “failure” of weight gain, injuries, and missed goals go to one’s heart.  However, I am thankful that I can cling to the success of Christ conquering sin and failure so that my heart is not broken when things don’t go as I had hoped.  I am also understanding that no matter what I may accomplish on this earth and the success that I may have among my peers, it is not me who is great but the God who is in me.  There is no benefit in seeking glory for my own, but much benefit in glorifying the God of the universe.

One of many great things about believing in Jesus is that neither our successes nor our failures consume us anymore.  How can we be prideful in our successes when we were saved by sheer grace, and how can we be utterly devastated in our failures when he has given us hope and redemption?

Wellness vs. Attractiveness

I am a woman who has had her fair share of struggles with body image.  I know I am not alone but I am thankful that I have come to desire wellness over attractiveness, frankly, because the desire for attractiveness has consumed so many women that I know.  There’s got to be more to life than being attractive, right?

I know the answer to that is yes, which is why I really appreciated a post from a year ago that I just read today.  It is entitled, “5 Lies About Your Body” by Jen Wilkin, and I knew I had to share it with you as soon as I read it.  It is especially applicable for those who are trying to understand what it means to have a healthy body image from a Christian perspective.  It is a short, easy read so please check it out!

Chocolaty Treats

Lately, my son has been using the phrase “up to” instead of “into”.  For example, he is really “into” spaceships right now, so he has been determined to find out what other people are into.  Earlier today, he said “Mommy, I am really up to special treats”.  I wanted to apologize because I am sure he inherited his sweet tooth from his mama, but I just smiled and agreed that I am into them as well.

This got me thinking, however, about how I have changed over the years and how we are able to train our taste buds.  I definitely don’t crave “special treats” like I used to, but I do still allow for treats to be special.  It’s rare that I’ll bite into a Snickers bar or even a Reece’s, but I do allow myself dark chocolate almost daily.  As we approach the holiday where we celebrate love by giving chocolate and flowers, I will share my favorite chocolaty treats:

Your Best Smile Bouquet® by Fruit Bouquets
Fruit is definitely one of my favorite sweet treats, but when you dip it in chocolate it becomes extra special.
Maybe give flowers like these this year?
The ingredients are so simple it practically removes all guilt in eating chocolate. 
Extra dark and already portioned out for you.
MOSER ROTH Dark Bar 85% Cocoa
Aldi sells this chocolate that comes in mini bars and are just the perfect size.
It also speaks to my German/Swiss blood 🙂

And now for my favorite, most natural chocolate fix:
Cocoa and maple syrup.
Check out the recipe at 100DaysofRealFood.com for this homemade chocolate sauce.
I was doubtful before I tried it, but now I prefer it to normal chocolate sauce.
It’s especially good on top of this:
Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean All Natural Recipe
The simple ingredients leave no question about what you are eating.  So. Good.

That is all for now.  Be smart about your “special treats” so that you don’t have to feel guilty.  If you want to read more about how chocolate can be good for your heart and what kind to eat, check out what the Cleveland Clinic has to say:  “Heart Health Benefits of Chocolate”.

Fitness Trends in 2015

I’m not one to get much into all the fitness trends that come and go, however, many of you enjoy experiencing the latest and greatest craze.  So, if you are wondering what the 2015 trends might look like, check out Pete McCall’s predictions on ACE’s Fitnovatives Blog (American Council on Exercise).

My favorite on his list is number 4.  He talks about the progression of functional training to Loaded Movement Training and defines it as “the process of moving a mass through gravity”.  The basic gist of this type of training is that in everyday life we typically move a mass through gravity, not simply just lift an object up and down.  Therefore, the training is designed to move weight across planes and with purpose.  I love this example below, because my “job” in life right now is to care for my children.

…Consider how most parents pick up their kids off of the ground; they don’t take the time to set their feet in a neutral position, position their perfectly still child symmetrically position relative to his or her midline and then, after bracing, symmetrically load each arm as they pull the child to their chest. As most parents will tell you, there is no cognitive thought relative to their body position as they perform the movement of picking up their child. They simply hold on to their child however they can and lift them to whatever position is manageable at the time. (Pete McCall, Is Loaded Movement Training the Future of Fitness?)

Whatever way you stay active is fine with me.  It will be interesting to see what people latch onto in 2015, and if you are a trend-follower, then enjoy the fitness journey that this year will take you on.

This is my favorite piece of Loaded Movement Training equipment.
(Photo credit: Eclecticism Photography)

Winter Endorphins

The new year has started, it’s white outside, and we are in the heart of winter.  It is common knowledge that people can be affected by the lack of sunshine and shortened daylight (it’s call SAD–Seasonal Affective Disorder).  It is also fairly common knowledge that when you exercise, your mood improves (it’s called endorphins).  So you’d think that it’s an easy solution to a common problem, right?  It can be, but here are the barriers we need to get past:

  • The new year has started.  A lot of people exercise for the purpose of losing weight and when their goals are not met immediately, many give up.  My point in saying this is that there needs to be more motivation to exercise other than simply losing weight.  Maybe we should exercise because it’s how our bodies were created to work.  Or maybe we should do something active because it’s fun.  Another idea is to exercise because it allows one to think better and feel better.  Or it can even be something that is used to spend quality time with someone you care about.  Hey, why not exercise because it’s good for you and you care…about your body and about those who love and depend on you.  What motivates you?  Your new year’s resolution or something bigger than that?  
  • It’s white outside.  Driving can be tricky and winter weather may not be safe to get around in.  There are times it might just not be worth getting to the gym if it means clearing off the car, shoveling the driveway, and risking your life to get there.  Besides, the gym might even be closed if the weather is bad enough.  There are some simple solutions if you are wanting to be active but are snowed in.  First, shovel.  If your husband/wife already did that, then do a stair workout, play in the snow with the dog, or the kids, or go sledding, skiing, or snowboarding.  Snow doesn’t have to equal sedentary.  
  • We are in the heart of winter.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  Most people want to stay inside and be warm and cozy.  For many, the desire to be active just isn’t there like it is in the spring. People can get the “winter doldrums”, and that brings the conversation full circle.  
Ultimately, we were made to release chemicals when exercising that help us to feel better.  This is no coincidence; it is just another beautiful way that our bodies work in order to maintain health — physical health and emotional health.  Hang in there and keep exercising.  You’ll be thankful you did.

2 Thoughts

I suppose it’s that time of year where I give my readers a peppy post about all the wonderfully healthy things you should do in the next 12 months.  The truth is, however, I don’t always feel peppy.  Peppy has certainly not been a word that my family would use to describe me lately, especially over the past few months.  Every year, I try to focus on an area of my life that might need to improve, and this year it’s an aspect of health that is new for me to think about:  emotional health.


While I may share some personal info on this in future posts, I am no expert in this area.  However, I do believe that so much of what we do to be healthy (or what we do that is unhealthy) is connected with how we are doing emotionally.  For now, I will simply share 2 thoughts on this issue:
  • Fight the urge to compare!  There are times I feel pretty good about life until I see someone else’s life.  I feel healthy until my friend tells me about her diet.  I am satisfied with my fitness level until I see what others are posting on Facebook.  I feel confident until she gets the compliment.  When I get into the rut of constant comparison, then I struggle greatly.  That is not how I want to live in 2015.  
  • Find Joy in the right thing.  Not in your weight loss.  Not in the looks you get at the food store.  Not in the miles you logged last week.  Not in your organic refrigerator and pantry.  Find joy in something that is not a fad and will stand the test of time.  For me, I find joy in knowing that I am loved by the God of the universe.
On our Christmas cards that were just sent out, we wrote this from John 10:  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-26492A" data-link="(A)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> and have it to the full.”  We all have heard the song lyrics, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,”  and that is exactly what I need to be reflecting on to find my joy.  Jesus came to me because I would never be able to make it to him on my own.  I don’t need to be comparing myself to others when I realize how I have been given life “to the full” because of what Christ has done for me.

As you think about what your goals will be for 2015, join me in fighting the urge to be constantly comparing, because that is a tactic the thief will use to steal your joy.

Four Favorite Flavors of Winter…

…and why they are good for you.

1.  Favorite Sweet Flavor: Peppermint

  • Why it’s good for you- Peppermint (which is a plant) is used most commonly to help with cold symptoms and digestive problems.
  • What you should try- Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints.  These delicious treats are peppermint patties with only 3 ingredients:  honey, chocolate liquor, and oil of peppermint.  Also try the Trader Joe’s version of Altoids, which have little pieces of peppermint leaves in them.  (Hey, can someone pick some Honey Mints up for me for Christmas?  And while I am wishing, Santa, please bring me a Trader Joe’s to Harrisburg.)

2.  Favorite Winter Fruit: Grapefruit

  • Why it’s good for you- It has antioxidants like Vitamin C, which is great for helping to fight winter bugs.  Also, it may help with weight management.  Grapefruit is known to interfere with certain medications, so check first if it might effect you.  This also means that it is a powerful food, so eat up if it’s not off limits due to prescriptions!
  • What you should try- Eating a fresh grapefruit is best–just cut, scoop, and slurp!  

3.  Favorite Winter Vegetable: Sweet Potato

  • Why it’s good for you- They are loaded with nutrients that help your body do things like fight cancer, slow the aging process, and boost your immunity.
  • What you should try- A healthier version of a holiday favorite: sweet potato casserole.  Check it out at 100 Days of Real Food.

4. Favorite Winter Salad:  Kale Salad

  • Why it’s good for you- Kale is known as a super vegetable due to it’s high amounts of Vitamins K, C, and A: think better eyes, bones, heart, and immune system to name a few.
  • What you should try- Costco has a bagged kale salad that is a favorite in our house.  I often bring it to parties and events, and it’s always a hit. 

Merry Christmas!

HIIT and Planks

Are you all about high intensity exercise or maybe your workouts have been structured around doing planks?  Reading this from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) might help give you some insight on the purpose of those exercises.  I love this quote:

Life is full of movement, so the intent of our exercise sessions should be to enhance our ability to move through life (literally) with greater ease, and to allow us to engage in the activities we enjoy and the tasks we need to perform each day.

Check out “The Two Fitness Myths You Still Believe Are True” by Jessica Matthews.  Is your exercise helping you do life better?

Thankful

I was asked recently what I am thankful for, and since I didn’t feel like stating the obvious (faith, family, friends), I quickly answered that I was thankful for my health.  This is something we who are healthy take for granted…and at times may even have the tendency to judge those who are not.  We may think that our health is in our control — and it is to a certain extent — but it can be taken away from us in an instant.

There are two extremes: one extreme is that someone may try to be so healthy that it becomes an “ultimate”, a god, an obsession.  When their health is then taken away, it becomes so devastating that the person can’t function and loses purpose.  On the other extreme, there may be the person who does nothing to be healthy because they figure that everyone will die at some point–heck, it could even happen tomorrow in a freak accident.  In my opinion, both of these options are enslaving.  While one person might be so restricted by their health obsession, the other might feel trapped inside an unhealthy body.

I am tempted to either be in one extreme or the other, but I find I am most balanced when I am living in thankfulness for what God has given me.  We were created in a way that responds well to a healthy lifestyle but there is something so beautiful in depending daily — not on my own ability to be healthy, but on the grace of God.

Thanksgiving tip:  drink LOTS of water.  All the food you’ll eat will likely have high levels of salt so this will keep you hydrated.  Drinking water between bites will also take more time to eat, allowing your body and brain to be satiated and help you avoid excess food.  Lastly, choose water instead of sugary drinks, because no one needs more sugar on Thanksgiving.

Rest

If you have ever trained for a race you know that a training program gives you days for rest.  Rest is good and necessary for your body to grow stronger.  I have just returned from a restful weekend away from my everyday life, but I found that it wasn’t my body that needed the rest this time, it was my soul.  I encourage you to make time to rest your frenzied mind, your anxious heart, and your busy body.  You might just find that it will help you grow stronger.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10