The butterfly that messed everything up

A couple years ago I was feeling really sluggish and chalked it up to being a mom of a two year old- when I went in to get a sinus infection treated my doctor drew some blood. Turns out I wasn’t just a tired mom- I had hypothyroidism- an autoimmune condition that affects just about every other function in the body- energy level, digestion, libido, metabolism, everything. I went away to a cabin after I was treated with a radioactive iodine pill to let that sucker kill off the node on my thyroid that was causing all the problems. I slept for 14-hours straight.

And now, a couple years it’s returned. Instead of just popping a radioactive pill I get to take synthetic thyroid medication daily and have been learning how to take care of myself- to reduce and manage stress, eat nourishing food, exercise on a consistent basis. You know, like, the things healthy people should be doing anyways. It’s been both interesting and overwhelming learning about thyroid disorders- shocking to realize how many women it affects.  One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime and are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have a thyroid disorder. (See honey, I’m not just lazy & addicted to napping!)

picture from

picture from

In part I’ve been pretty quiet on the blogging front because it’s been a struggle just to do normal things- like the dishes, caring for my kids and returning emails. I know that sounds so pathetic but there were days that I would get 8-hours of sleep, wake up exhausted and then still need a 2-hour nap to get through the day. Then add in the guilt of not getting home or work stuff done, a healthy dollop of depression was added into the mix. Oh, plus unexpected weight gain. Just what every woman wants!

It’s been sucky to realize that this is going to be a life-long thing I deal with and not to minimize it (oh, I’m just tired.) A couple things have been really helpful in regaining energy, focus and endurance to get through long days with young kids. Limiting gluten, drinking a ton of water, and joining the YMCA to go to exercise classes has made a noticeable difference in my health and energy.

The bigger piece has been learning how to manage stress and anxiety by practicing self-care. I’ve loved discovering thyroid loving care (TLC) and Tracie Fountain’s website on how these women have successfully learned how to manage their thyroid disorders.  Tracie even offers a free 20-minute consultation to help you get started on your healing journey which was so helpful to me to even legitimize that there really is something wrong with me.

Women put so much pressure on ourselves to get things done everyday that self-care is one of the easiest things to cut. Do we really need to sit and read a magazine with a cup of tea? Take a 20 minute walk in the middle of the day? Light a candle because it’s simply enjoyable? Yeah. We do. Because it’s a way of affirming- I’m worth it. I’m worth taking care of. This was such a big piece for me- stopping and saying “by doing these things I’m setting myself up to be healthy and happy. Taking 20 minutes to paint my nails or bake some gluten-free bread is not going to end the world.”

What have been ways you’ve learned how to practice self-care over the years? What do you struggle with in taking time for yourself?

Surprised by Small

“Less is more” architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe once stated when he described his minimalist yet profoundly beautiful design style.  His Barcelona chair remains an icon in the world of design though it debuted in 1929.  And a coveted item amongst those of us who wish we had the thousands of dollars to plunk down for of those chairs. Design Within Reach my ass.


I am often surprised by small. Small things that end up being profoundly huge in my life- teaching me about myself, my kids, God, my body, friendship and life.   Often I’m so distracted (more self-imposed than not) that I miss the small.  In find myself wanting to do LARGE complex educational crafts for my kids, have my upcoming book book read by HUGE amounts of people, to spend a LOT of money on a pair of boots for my husband who has been telling me about his latest GQ fixation for weeks. Seriously, how did I marry a man who is just as shoe obsessed as me?

But small can be snuggling with my kids and just sitting watching Curious George with them instead of multi-tasking and folding mountains of laundry or returning emails from my phone.  Small can be just listening to a friend and grieving with her over a miscarriage instead of using lots of words to console her. Small can be choosing to do yoga and read poetry instead of having a glass of wine and eating some chocolate at the end of a rough day. Small choices. Small actions. But amazingly, less ends up becoming more.


This post is connected to a tribe of people who blog for five minutes each friday to silence the inner-critic and get some words out there. This week’s word prompt was “small.”  Check out Lisa Jo Baker’s site to participate or read what others have written this week. 






What do you do when you find yourself plateauing in an area of life?

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I’m remembering the good ol’ days of my posts on healthy eating and exercise. I was uber-motivated to run and lift weights three times a week, make sure to get my serving of 5 fruits and veggies a day & really mindful of how I was caring for my body.  It’s not that I’ve fallen off the wagon completely- eating 5 fruits and veggies a day has become part of my life. But in the last three months of moving to OH, focusing on raising $20,000 finishing two papers for grad school and completing the reading for the class I’m taking this week this is how my train of thought has gone:

1. At least these gnocci in cream sauce have peas in it! The strawberries on my ice cream count too!
2. At least I’m still walking a couple times a week/hauling boxes into a moving truck even if it’s not running or lifting weights!
3. At least I can take a nap while Reuben sleeps because I’m so exhausted.

You get the picture. It’s been a little more of survival in the midst of transition mode as opposed to “my life has a steady rhythm which I can build some healthy rhythms into.”

I know it won’t always be like this but its been difficult to think about where I’ve been with self-discipline  with exercise and eating and to realize that I’ve gained seven five pounds in the past three months. The blog title in my head has been “is weight gain during life transitions inevitable?” Maybe you can relate.

I was thinking about what scripture says about this in the book of ecclesiastes, chapter 3-

A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Even if you’ve never read the bible, you’re probably familiar with these sayings because the Byrds made them popular in their song Turn! Turn! Turn! and now we can hear scripture on classic rock stations.

I remember my mom once quoted this song to point out why it was a good idea to “refrain from embracing” and not make out with boyfriends in public. good idea mom. horny high schoolers and PDA gross everyone out.

Maybe right now has been “a time for gnocchi in cream sauce, taking walks to slow down, pray and reflect instead of running, a time to unpack boxes instead of lift weights, a time to focus on creating a new life in Cleveland and a time to read like crazy for grad school”

So friends, what do you do in the midst of crazy life transitions to care for your self? I could use some encouragement & advice right now. Oh, and maybe some chocolate 😉

move it.

When I saw this story on NPR the other day I thought that it was appropriate for my (now late) March challenge of creating a great workout mix!

Your Body is A Temple: sweatin’ to NPR A Gospel Workout Mix:

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What do you usually listen to while you work out? The sound of your lungs wheezing? The pop of a tennis ball against your racket? I find that nothing motivates me more than listening to a thumping mix flowing through my earbuds of Gwen, Brittney, Nelly and occasionally some Justin thrown in. When I was a teenager, I’d zone out for hours just listening to music.  Now doing that is a luxury so I enjoy some quality tune time while I run, bike or walk.

Now that spring is here (fingers crossed) I’m looking forward to some long bike rides!

fighting the february flab

I thought my jeans were tight the other day because I had just washed them. Then I noticed some muffin’ stuffin when I looked in the mirror.

thank God that the low-rise jean phenomenon is over!

So it wasn’t quite like the one in the picture, but it was enough for me to do a double take & realize that “dun-laps” (as in “my stomach dun lapped over my belt!) disease had caught up with me this month. It’s easy to freak out and think about cutting all the goodies completely- but when I’ve done this in the past it shoots me in the foot. So, I decided to:

Losing a few pounds over the course of a month is a feasible goal- but to help me get there I decided I needed to set some mini-goals. I like the way I look (and even did when I weighed 20 lbs. more) as my grandma told me as an awkward 7th grader- “honey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Oh, grandma. So wholesome. Anyways- the issue is more about clothes fitting comfortably, staying on track with healthy eating during the winter months and not giving up because it’s freezing outside and there are warm cookies inside 🙂

Since it’s the easiest thing to do, I decided to resume a more active pursuit of Strive For Five each week to get my five fruits/veggies a day, set an exercise goal of strength training three times a week and cardio (walking) twice a week. I think the other thing that’s helped the muffin-top develop is well, all the muffins I’ve been eating. I love to bake and it’s so cozy to bake in the winter. But then all those chocolate chip cookies, lemon pound cakes and peach muffins stick around my house (and my waistline a little too long). That, coupled with less exercise = the fight of the february flab.

So, anyone else setting out this month to keep up their new years resolutions, starting to tone up for summer or drop a few pounds in the next month? What are your mini-goals? I

losing weight is easy- maintaining a healthy weight is hard!

One year ago I set out to lose 10lbs. I set a reasonable goal of trying to do this in 10 weeks- 1 lb. a week. By the end of 8 weeks I had lost 10 and then, continuing the healthy habits I had been practicing, I lost another five! Over the next three months I lost another five simply by maintaining the habits I had begun initially to lose weight. Thankfully this hasn’t been a quick-fix plan to shed some junk in my trunk, but a lifestyle of honoring God, my health and the one body I’ve been given in this lifetime to enable me to work, play and care for others.

Maybe you’re trying to lose weight this year- maybe you’ve been trying for awhile. When I began to intentionally try to care for my body better I wondered “once I hit my goal weight what happens next? Well, one year later here are a five things I’ve learned that have helped me stay within 3-5 pounds of my target weight.

  1. I can apply my love of learning and variety to eating and food.  When I began to try and eat 5 fruits/veggies a day, I suddenly needed to find more ways to keep it interesting so I would continue to enjoy eating healthy.  Rather than seeing cooking as a necessary evil, I began to see it as a place to learn, experiment and enjoy the diversity of food that God has given us.
  2. All or nothing thinking is of the devil. I’m not kidding. When I begin to think “I’ve failed at eating well!” when I help myself to a second cupcake and then continue to eat that way, this sets me up for failure.  Balance has been key. If I make choices to eat foods that are more rich in fat and calories one day, I try to exercise a little more the next day or to eat foods that are low-calorie/high fiber/low fat i.e. fruits and veggies the next day. Food isn’t bad or good. Some food have more calories and fewer nutrients. I would go crazy if I never ate McDonald’s fries for the rest of my life. It’s been amazing to see that when I try and apply a more balanced view to eating and exercise, it positively impacts the way I view other areas of my life.
  3. Weight, just like money is not static.  A bank balance goes up and down. There are times of the year that I have extra cash and less cash. I don’t let my bank account define my worth, so why should I let my weight?  I’ve found that staying in a range rather than a specific number has been helpful and knowing what a healthy range is for my frame. I’ve tried to stay within 3-5 pounds of the mid-range of what a healthy weight should be for a person of my size. Even knowing what this range has been is really helpful. It can be tempting to think I need to keep losing weight to be in the lower range, but I’d rather stay in the middle than make myself miserable by obsessing about eating and exercising.
  4. Small choices make a big impact.  20 minutes of exercise, the choice to eat an apple instead of a handful of chips, or being strategic about when I splurge has helped me to develop an integrated way of thinking about eating. Every choice that I make impacts my long-term health; whether I’ll be more prone to heart disease, adult diabetes, osteoporosis and all kinds of other ailments that can be impacted by weight and exercise. Plus, I’ve found that when I do take even that small amount of time to exercise, it helps me to think more clearly, sleep better and have a more positive outlook. Especially in these dreary winter months, I need exercise to help me stay positive!
  5. I take my measurements once a week. Scales can be deceptive depending on time of day, how much water I’ve drank, etc.  Apparently this is one of the things they do at Weight Watchers to help people measure progress.  I’ve found that when I take my measurements it helps me not to freak out if the scale says I’ve gained weight. Plus, it helps me to know my measurements when I’m ordering clothes online.  As Shakira says “my hips don’t lie”  even if the scale does 🙂

It has felt so nice to be comfortable in my own skin- to not have my clothes feel too tight or too baggy, to not be winded going up and down the stairs or chasing my son, and to look in the mirror and say “dang! I look good today!” as opposed to “dang! I’d look great if I lost 5 pounds!” I really do believe that part of the learning process has been learning to view my body as God does- I’m treasured, valued and created to enjoy life! In the long run, feeling bad about yourself is a terrible motivator for losing weight and being healthy. Plus, do you really think God wants you to walk around all day berating yourself for what you’re eating or how you’re not exercising?

Since I’ve been able to learn how to integrate healthy eating and regular exercise into my routine my next goal is to focus on toning my body and getting stronger. I’ve loved doing yoga, the way it makes me feel and look. BTW- the 12 days of yoga challenge I did last month….I ended up doing 7/12 days. Which, as the month got progressively more crazy I realized that I probably even wouldn’t have done that much yoga if I hadn’t set a goal of trying to do 12 sessions during December.  Some exercise is always better than none!

What are your goals for the next few months? What helps you to stay motivated?  I’m shooting to do yoga 3x/week and to walk outside twice. My friend Gracee asked for recommendations of swimsuits the other day & I found this one that I just love!

so cute! I'm a sucker for vintage.

so what do you do when you’re livid?

Now that I’ve had a chance to retract my adamantium claws after some frustration recently, I’ve been thinking about the process of healing after a difficult incidents like this.  Thank you to everyone who wrote encouraging comments, emails, called me & sent me carmels via carrier pigeons. I’m thankful for your kindness and the pigeons only ate 1/2 of the carmels!

What do you do when you’re angry? hurt? frustrated? bitter? Why would I bother to even write about difficult experiences, or how I’m dealing with them? why? Because I’m betting that every single one of you have some sort of shizzle you’re dealing with in your life too. And we all have to make choices about how we’ll respond to people who hurt us, situations that are less than ideal and the fallout that comes from conflict. So, why the heck not blog about them & encourage one another to live out love. After all, as Elvis Costello

he's the best on vinyl.

once sung “what’s so funny bout’ peace, love and understanding?”

I was struck that in the midst of dealing with some painful things in my life, that there are thousands of others dealing with the wreckage of their lives in Haiti. And it reminded me why I need the gospel. I was reminded that because Jesus is able to give an unceasing, unchanging love in the midst of pain and brokenness, I can forgive instead of being resentful. I can triumph not because I’ve reamed someone out about what a jerk they are, or what wrongs they did to me, but because as St. Paul said “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I need Jesus to continue to heal me from the inside out, so that I can get my eyes off myself and my own issues and focus on how Jesus leading me and my community to bring his love, power and healing to a hurting world. And this is only possible through Jesus- I can’t be nice enough, tell myself to get my mind off my problems, or put on a happy face. The tapes just keep playing in my head.  I simply do not have enough love for all the jerks in my life, let alone this world. But Jesus does, and he is able to give me (and you!) his love. Which is totally, totally rad. This is the essence of the gospel, the essence of what Christians are meant to believe and live. If anyone tells you differently, they’re just bamboozled.

So, how did Jesus minister his love to me to help me heal? Well, funny you should ask. He did it in ways that would make me feel most cared for, which looked like:

  • A great date with my husband. We ate Kentucky Fried Chicken which we had been craving for weeks but continually talked ourselves out of because it is ridiculously unhealthy. We saw a movie by our favorite director, Wes Anderson. And we loved, loved The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was just the thing to cheer my spirits!
  • A great date with a friend. Doing yoga with one of my girlfriends helped to release a lot of the tension I had been carrying around and reminded me that I am not in control of anything though I would so love to believe that to be true. It reminded me that God is way bigger than my problems and the problems in this world.
  • Dance parties. The first with my son to the Urbana 09 worship cd. We jumped around and shook our hips and praised Jesus. Worship is actually one of the most counter-cultural things I think that Christians do. What? Praise God for his goodness in a world that is so absolutely broken? Hecks YEAH! Because even when everything changes for the worse, God remains the same.
  • My second dance party was a solo one, and I rocked out while I cleaned with my ever-present ipod friends:




Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake showed up for a little while too, but it was mostly just the four of us sweeping the kitchen floor and shaking our booties.

I think sometimes Christians forget that God can use anything to remind us of his love and his presence. Perhaps because we’re so afraid that it is escapism into something besides God that we fail to realize that God may want to remind us we have bodies to dance, eat, and celebrate that we can find joy in the midst of pain because of his love. For some reason in my life that is often embodied in pop culture. And fried chicken.

What are ways that you deal with your anger? What helps you when you’re in a funk because of some conflict? I’m not looking for a dissertation, but how about your top three list?

yogi santa

even santa gets stressed out during the holidays

Even Santa partakes in the downward dog to work off some of those holiday cookies and eggnog 🙂 Are any other ladies feeling like Spanx will become your new best friend in 2010?  It’s never too late to join in the 12 days of yoga challenge in December. Perhaps you too have realized that travel makes consistent exercise more difficult- and around this time of year it can feel easier to sit comatose after a big meal than get up and move.  Thankfully, this past weekend as I’ve been in indianapolis celebrating an early Christmas with my in-laws, my sister-in-law  Rachel

found a place for us to drop-in for a yoga class that one of her friends teaches!  The day ended up being a fick ladies outing beginning with yoga, moving on to facials, out to lunch for sushi and ending with a day of shopping. It was wonderful!

everybody warrior pose!

I found the “yogi santa” card at Invoke Yoga Studio and had to buy it- it was just too perfect during this 12 days of yoga challenge. The only other time I have taken a class was through Grand Rapids Parks and Rec & it was a pilates class- I loved it even despite the environment of the Ottawa Hills High School Cafeteria.  Invoke was beautiful, and offers drop-in classes perfect for checking things out to see if you want to commit to joining a session. Most places offer things like this, and actually will give you a credit towards other sessions if you’ve paid for a few drop in classes.

If you know of a yoga studio near-by, check their website or give them a call to see if they offer similar deals.  They may even have January specials beginning in a few weeks- what a great time to try something new to stay healthy this year!

I so enjoyed being in a class with other people, mostly women.  Rachel and I were commenting that when we’re exercising by ourselves, it’s too easy to just put in the time and not really push ourselves.  Well, I was sweatin’ in this yoga class- and even though it was more challenging, I didn’t even realize that it was an hour long class because it felt so good! There is something great about having the accountability of having a class you’re part of to stay consistent with exercise.

Indy's #1 pick for yoga studios!

I also really liked that the instructor could adjust my positioning to help me gain the full potential from various poses- something that you don’t have the benefit of from doing a dvd at home. So, that puts me up to a total of 6 days (30 minute sets) of yoga- 1/2 way there in the 12 days of yoga challenge! Did I mention it’s not too late for you to start the challenge for this month?

I’m hoping that our family will be able to join the YMCA in GR this new year- I’d love to take a mom & toddler swim class with Reuben and to be able to take some yoga classes a few times a week. I intentionally decided not to run outdoors this winter. I did last year and was super motivated to get outside at least three times a week. I’d bundle up, put on my wool socks and brave the cold winds convincing myself just to keep going because I’d soon warm up. But this year as soon as it became colder, I looked outside at the cold winds blowing and thought- nope, not gunna do it, wouldn’t be prudent 🙂

I think sometimes that’s how we can get derailed on exercise- feeling guilty that we’re not doing a certain kind of exercise so we give up all together.  But, it really doesn’t matter if you’re running, walking, skipping or doing cartwheels to stay active.  The point is to keep moving to make exercise a part of your life.  It felt good to give myself permission to stop running and decide to walk and do yoga instead.  And strangely enough, I’ve looked outside on some sunny cold days and thought- what a gorgeous day for a run!

So, what kinds of ways are you hoping to make exercise a priority in the new year? What has been working for you? How are you doing on the 12 days of yoga?

Yoga pants: God’s gift to women everywhere

Sometimes I even do yoga in my yoga pants. Just not this past week.

strike a pose- a warrior pose 🙂

When it comes to relaxing, this is basically my uniform. And that’s what I’ve mostly been doing this past week. Well, actually not relaxing at all. Stressing out about the stuff I need to get done before my sabbatical in January, figuring out time to do all the Christmas prep of wrapping, baking, getting food poisoning, hosting parties…and as Elaine once said “yada, yada, yada.”

Well this week it was time to slip on the yoga pants and glide into a chaturunga pose- If I’m going to do 12 days of yoga this December, I need to keep going! What helps you to get motivated when you’ve had a longer break from exercise than you intended?

For me this week I was very motivated to relax and stretch my tired muscles. I had been feeling exhausted and tense after last week. Though it also would have been nice to sit on the couch, I could feel the need to release some tension, stretch and breathe. Whenever I need to do some relaxing yoga I pop in Kathy Smith’s Project You Core/Flex DVD.

A relaxing and energizing 20 minute yoga workout.

Dave bought this for me at goodwill after I mentioned that I wanted to get some yoga dvd’s. Doesn’t that make so much sense that you could find great exercise tapes at goodwill?  So many people get stuff with great intentions and then they never use it, don’t like it, or get tired of it. Actually, the project you dvd is so cheap on Amazon, you can probably get it with shipping for under $5. Once I bought it, I burned it to my computer so I can do it wherever I go.  I typically never travel without my laptop so it’s been great to have when I need to wind down after a long day of meetings or want to wake up early and do some light stretching.

Actually, I even encouraged my colleagues to join me over a lunch hour at some meetings this past October.  We had been sitting in horribly uncomfortable chairs in a room at a church. And typically what happens in these meetings are: talking, eating, sitting, talking, eating, more sitting. repeat. It was so much fun and helped to alleviate our numb bottoms! There were even a few male colleagues that joined in and said it helped them to stretch after going running.

So, maybe you’ve hit a wall like I did with the 12 days of yoga this month. Just remember to stop. breath. stretch. remember that Christmas is about sweet little 8lb 5oz. baby Jesus, investing in others, and spreading some love. Taking even 20 minutes to do some yoga might help you to refocus on what’s important in life!

12 days of Yoga! Feeling less stress yet?

Last week when I was in Wheaton for a class doing Yoga was a great way to wind down at the end of the night, especially after sitting all day. I don’ t think I could ever do a desk job again- I’m too antsy.

This week I haven’t done any yoga because I came down with the flu or something like it. I just sent Dave out to get me some soup- since I’ve mainly subsisted on ginger ale today. Here’s a pathetic sickie picture for you:

this is what the flu looks like

I am feeling better after sleeping all day & hopefully I won’t be bowing to the porcelain throne again tonight. But me being sick is NO reason for YOU to not do some awesome yoga this week! I hope to be in full strength soon and stretching my sore body.  I heard a great quote in church this week from my pastor- “what we do with our bodies shapes our souls.” Isn’t that a good nugget? He was preaching on sex, but I think that applies to a lot of how we view and treat our bodies.  So, put on your stretchy pants like Jack Black and bust out some warrior poses.

sometimes, when you get older, men like to wear stretchy pants

Here is this weeks FREE Yoga resource. Yoga Journal has free podcasts that you can watch to limber up a little. I will tell you, this one is a GREAT workout. I did it a few weeks ago and could feel it for a couple days. I felt so strong afterwards! If you don’t like the one I provided the link to, just browse through the Yoga Journal site and find one that suits you better. Last week, I also recommended checking out a yoga DVD from your local library.  Especially if you live in towns that have a large amount of hippes living there, like Ithaca, NY- you will find that yoga dvd’s are the only one’s available in the exercise section, like I did when I visited my in-laws there this summer.  May your yuletide be merry and yoga-tastic.

the 12 days of YOGA! Are you up for the challenge?

Hey you, the one who ate 1/4 of a turkey by themselves on Thanksgiving. yeah, I’m talking to you, person who feels so stiff from sitting around that you pray every night for a massaging chair from sharper image for Christmas or for your friend/spouse/cute stranger on the subway to give you a shoulder massage. Let’s face it. You’re not getting the sharper image chair. And that stranger on the subway, though cute is probably creepy. Let’s do something far less creepy and  make like the meerkats in Madagascar and “move it move it?”

This month’s challenge on Sidewalk Theologian is one I’ve been looking forward to for awhile- the 12 days of yoga! I had thought about making up a little tune to the 12 days of Christmas for this challenge; something along the lines of “on the ninth day of Christmas a yogi gave to me…one downward dog, two chatarungas, three warrior poses,etc… and then I realized that not only is that song horribly annoying, that making up such song could use up precious time that I could be using to watch How I Met Your Mother on On a side note, wouldn’t it be awesome to see a meerkat doing yoga? I googled “meerkat doing yoga to no avail.

Here’s my rationale for why you should join me in this month’s challenge:

  1. The Christmas season can be stressful. Why not take some time to breathe, stretch and put things in perspective?
  2. Don’t wait until January 1st to make a resolution to get healthy. Start now and feel awesome that you’re already pursuing your goal when the new year rolls around.
  3. The holidays are a time to celebrate, with lots of rich delicious foods. I don’t know about you, but I like eating these foods. I don’t however like worrying that my butt is going to get big with each coconut macaroon I consume. Making space to care for yourself and exercise helps to burn some of those extra calories we all consume this time of year.
  4. You can do it anytime, anywhere. Each week I’ll post free resources for you to use to complete 12 days of yoga for 20-30 minutes. That’s all I’m asking you to commit to. 12 days of your own choosing, and 20 minutes of yoga on each of these 12 days.
  5. I’ll give you a fabulous prize if you complete the 12 days. Actually I won’t. I wish I could, other cool bloggers do things like this but I’m not to “free giveaway blog status” yet. But, cue cheesy music won’t it be a reward enough to know you’ve made your health and well being a priority? 🙂

So, how about it? I like using a yoga mat because it helps with some of the poses, especially if you’re new to yoga and are learning the poses. But, you really can just do it with a towel or on your rug. So, here is the first free resource to get you started. I’ve used this a couple times as a way to relax at the end of the night. It’s energizing but not too complicated & a good one to help you learn the poses if you’re new to yoga. If the new age stuff is weird to you, just pray to Jesus and thank him for giving you a body that can move, for health and strength instead of imagining that you’re opening the chakra of your third eye. God gave us everything in this world to enjoy & there is not one bit of it where he is not present. You can tell from the peaceful expression on the ladies faces below.

Yoga Downloads has free 20 minute sessions that you can download to your computer. I’ve done “yoga for strength #1 with Jacki” and thought it was good. If you don’t have a computer in a place that would be conducive to yoga, check out the dvd’s at your local library. They often have fitness dvd’s that can be checked out- that way you don’t have to commit to buying something you may not like or use in the future! Namaste, as they say on LOST!

    monkey see, monkey do

    Parents- are you ever terrified when you realize that your kids are picking up your bad habits? Or conversely that you have enough good habits that they’ll learn what’s important to you and emulate these good habits? The other day I trotted down the stairs & Reuben looked at me in our foyer with a big grin on his face and yelled “SHUT UP!” This was so disturbing! Right away I told him “no, we don’t say shut up!” and gave him a time out. I didn’t know that this phrase was going to be one we encourage him not to use, but hearing him yell it sounded so wrong and awful.I should say that Dave and I don’t go around yelling “SHUT UP!” at one another, we’ll say it as in “are you serious? you must be joking” but we never yell it in anger.

    We were also grocery shopping this week at Aldi and Meijer and as I was pushing him in the cart to find some crackers, he looked at the people passing us and yelled “get out the way!”


    ah the joys of public humiliation while shopping with a toddler.....

    Of course they laughed, but I was appalled at his rudeness towards strangers! Where is this coming from? Is this just toddler stuff? I explained that when we want someone to move we say “excuse me” or “please move out of my way” which he understood and then proceeded to say that to EVERYONE we passed in the aisles of Meijer. Thankfully I don’t think they noticed what he was saying.

    It is so scary to think about how the daily choices that we make or don’t make shape how our children interact with the world. I constantly have to remind myself not to pick up my iPhone and scroll through email or facebook while Reuben is taking FOREVER to finish dinner. I don’t want him to think that dinner is a place where you finish your food and then multi-task while other people finish theirs. I want our dinner table to be a place of conversation, reflection on our days, and enjoyment of a meal together. I don’t always succeed at putting down my phone and Reuben has sometimes scolded me saying “stop, mama, stop!”

    On the positive side, he sees that exercise is a normal part of our lives and even will ask when I come back from a run, “have a good run mama?” Or if we put him in the jogger stroller on a warm day for a run, he’ll get excited and say “it’s time for exercise!” and will encourage us to keep going if we stop “run dada, run! keep going!” It is so cute, and motivating!



    sometimes he's more tired than me after a run. then again he isn't pushing a 30 lb. toddler in a jogger stroller.

    While I do want him to know that exercise, eating vegetables we pick from a farm and being hospitable are things we value, it’s also scary to think about how to best help him value scripture, prayer and meeting with Jesus in the capacities he’s able. I never want faith to be something he feels like is forced upon him, yet I want it to be a value in his life. This is a hard one isn’t it! I read a great book when Reuben was first born called “Never Mind the Joneses; building core Christian values that fit your family.


    great book by Tim Stafford!

    I liked it because it was an encouragement to figure out what fits your family rather than saying “you have to teach your kids to value faith and make it look this way.” There were a ton of great ideas about how to help kids see faith in action through service and hospitality, to reflect on God’s presence through experiencing nature, to pray for and  practice compassion for others. I highly recommend it for people who have kids and want to help them understand all the many ways that Christian faith can look! Parents, what are ways you deal with rudeness? What are ways you’re helping your kids to value faith and other things in you’re life that you want them to learn?






    with a little help from my friends (or how I lost 20 lbs)

    I’ve been having so much fun doing strive for five with you guys! It almost makes me not want to stop blogging about it on Tuesdays in October when we’ll shift our focus to a spiritual challenge! I was thinking about possibly continuing to blog about food/eating/recipes/being healthy on another day because I’ve personally enjoyed it & have loved hearing from many of you how strive for five has been going & the creative things you’ve been doing to challenge yourself to eat healthier.  So what do you think- keep blogging about food stuff on another day besides Tuesdays? In October we’ll focus on the challenge of integrating prayer into our daily routine but I’d love to help keep us encouraged to continue healthy eating habits. Let me know what you think!

    My sweet friend Michelle sent me this email recently & I asked her if I could post it in my blog today to encourage others:

    Hi Jessica,

    I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your blog about striving for five. I’ve been taking your challenge seriously for over a week now, and lost 2.8 pounds last week! I’ve been following Weight Watchers, but never really paid attention to their suggestion to get 5 servings in each day. I can’t believe the difference… especially in my mindset. Instead of thinking about what I should be avoiding, I’m thinking about when I’m going to eat my servings. It really has made a massive change in me… hopefully to stay. Anyway, just thought you’d like to hear it!

    Thanks, girl!

    words of affirmation are one of the ways I feel most loved so this meant a lot to me! I hope it encourages you too- to either start doing strive for five or to keep at it! With women, so much can be about competition and comparison especially when it comes to our bodies. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t struggle with this at times especially when I see how cute skinny jeans look on other people but am horrified that they seemingly magnify the size of my thighs so that I look like a giant pair of thighs with a head floating above them.

    Michelle’s email was particularly encouraging for me both because it’s nice to know that what I’m writing isn’t just floating out there into blog abyss. But it was also encouraging because Michelle is a writer, and the author of this awesome book Wanting to Be Her: Body Image Secrets that Victoria Won’t Tell You.

    we are bombarded with images that make us dissatisfied with ourselves.

    we are bombarded with images that make us dissatisfied with ourselves.

    I’m thankful that many of the women I interact with encourage each other to make healthy choices rather than make those offhand digs that you often find in conversations. You know what I’m talking about- “wow, those jeans look great on you! you must eat nothing besides celery!” “I could never get away with a dress like that!” ugh. I hate comments like this- is there any diplomatic way to respond?

    A few of the biggest encouragements for me have been the women who love to eat and to enjoy life while doing so in moderation.  That’s the key right? Yet it is so rare to find.  The women in my book club love to eat and try new foods- we’re meeting this Wednesday to discuss “The Memory Keepers Daughter” (awesome book!). I can’t wait to see  what everyone brings for us to snack on! My mom and sister have also been a great encouragement too- both of them love to cook and are really creative in the kitchen- I am amazed at the stuff my sister can just whip up!  We have all had our struggles with a healthy perspective on weight in some way or another but it’s been great to have family members that try to balance the enjoyment of pecan pie at Thanksgiving with a healthy serving of asparagus during the meal. Lastly, I stumbled upon a blog called Carrots n’ Cake– a food blog devoted to healthy balance when I was looking for a Real Simple recipe a few months ago.  Tina, the blogger simply writes about her daily food & exercise choices & for whatever reason it is so motivating to see what this is like in the life of a regular person- not in the pages of a slick magazine or on the latest episode of Access Hollywood. I read Tina’s blog regularly & it’s been a fun way to see different ways to eat oatmeal (who knew there could be so many possibilities!) and learn about new foods or workouts.  When I found this site I forwarded the link to all my girlfriends because I enjoyed it so much!

    Who are people in your life that help you to make healthy choices?  One of the biggest struggles can feel like you’re doing it alone- without the help of people at your gym, workplace, family or friends. So let’s keep encouraging each other!

    feet don’t fail me now!

    This month I celebrated my one year running-versary- running consistently at least three times a week every week.  Having babies makes your body do weird things- mainly make the fat shift to places that it wasn’t before. places like everywhere. After visiting one of Dave’s friends from Cornell last summer who had found a new love for fitness (and dropped a lot of weight) through the couch to 5K plan I was inspired to integrate exercise as a daily part of my life. The nice thing about this program is it’s designed for people who don’t like running, need a way to stay on track and not injure themselves.

    For many people, myself included exercise is a mind game- how can I motivate yourself to block out time, get sweaty, make my body sore and temporarily ignore the other urgent things in my life?  When I started couch to 5k some of my motivation was cost & ease- I didn’t want to pay for a gym membership because I travel a lot & it felt like it would be a waste of money. The other reason was that I didn’t want to need to go somewhere to NEED to work out- again the travel factor. I could pack my shoes no matter where I was going & just make sure to get up and go or find the treadmill in the exercise center if the weather was crappy.  The fewer excuses I had- the easier it would be. All I needed was a good pair of running shoes. And the right running clothes.

    Since my goal was not to spend a lot of money finding the right running clothes was one of the biggest mental barriers for me. I wanted to look like this when I ran:0919-running-women-health_vg

    So, maybe I wanted to have my thighs look like hers more than I wanted the outfit, but sometimes half the battle with exercise is “what do I wear?I have to have the right gear!” Finally I just said eff-it. If I was going to be hard-core then running wasn’t about looking like I stepped from the pages of Runners World. It was going to be about running. So, I got out my old shorts from college and started plodding around our neighborhood- catching a greasy whiff of the fried chicken shack on the corner, running past the kids playing roller hockey on the tennis courts of the park, watching the light filter through the green leaves under the canopy of trees in the Garfield nature center as I trotted along.  And before long I didn’t care how I looked (so vain right?) I cared more about that amazing feeling when I was finished with a run when I stretched out on my porch on the cool cement to sprawl out and stretch my muscles. Even though I told myself that I’d buy myself some cute running clothes once I had run consistently for a year, a year later I just don’t care! I just care about getting out there whether I’m wearing umbros (anybody remember wearing those in middle school gym class? :)) or a cute coordinated outfit from Gazelle sports

    most days my socks match.....just not today :)

    most days my socks match.....just not today 🙂

    It’s been a year, two pairs of shoes later and miles of concrete logged in towns across the midwest and the change in my body that’s started to crave breathing in the cool air of the morning while I move.  For most people, they need different ways to stay motivated- for me it was wanting to shed the extra 20 pregnancy pounds and develop healthy habits that would stick with me for the rest of my life and hopefully prevent adult onset diabetes which runs in my family.  On a daily basis it’s a great excuse just to listen to music on pandora while I run. What are ways that you get/stay motivated to exercise? Any things you’ve found that you’re able to stick with? Or new things you want to try? I’d love to do a triathlon next summer, now I just need to get over the desire to spend a chunk of change on a sweet bike to ride!