Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Resolution {OR} a New Days Resolution

New Years Resolutions.  Those 3 words either excite you or scare you.  We all tend to sit down with our list a mile long of the things we promise to do better this year.  Most tend to revolve around exercising more, eating right, reading our Bible more and so on.  I used to make these resolutions myself but being the human being that I am, noticed that I always fell short of those goals before the new year. So now what?  We need to wait until next year to do better with those things?  I don't believe so.  I believe this scripture from Lamentations 3:23 sums it up perfectly:

Great is His faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 

If God's mercies begin new each morning than why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect?  There is nothing wrong with setting goals to be fitter, stronger, and succeed in all areas of life.  But we don't need to think it is over when the first mistake is made.  Pick yourself up, wipe yourself off and start new the next day or even the next moment...not the next year. :)  When we do this it becomes a lifestyle change.

How about you, do you like new years resolutions?  Why or why not?  I would LOVE to see as much hype around a new days resolution as there is new years resolutions!

From our family to yours....Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

6 Fitness Tips for the Busy Woman

I have been in the fitness industry for almost a decade now.  I have my Bachelors in Health & Exercise Science and am a certified group fitness instructor.  However, even I, have struggled with finding time to exercise and take care of my body.  After having 3 kids(and gaining quite a bit of weight with each pregnancy) I had to figure out how to take care of my body without it taking too much time away from my family and other commitments.  Here are some tips that have worked for me when time is of the essence:

1. Make a plan.  
This one may seem like such common sense but if you don't put it on your calendar to exercise it most likely will not happen.  Taking care of yourself can so easily get pushed to the bottom of the list.  While you can function that way temporarily it is not a long term solution if you want to be the best wife, mom, friend or employee.  You must make a date with yourself to take care of your body so you can have the energy and stamina to do all God has called you to.  Find what time of the day works best for you then stick to it.  Before you know it exercise will come as natural as brushing your teeth...you feel yucky when you don't do it!

2. Find your passion.
Now that you have found your time you will exercise figure out your how.  I love to tell people to do something they enjoy.  God created our bodies to move and function in a beautiful way.  Too often we get into the comparison game and think we have to exercise exactly like someone else.  But the problem is if you hate the format of exercise you chose you will have a very hard time sticking to it.  Do you like to run, walk, lift weights, dance, roller blade, play a sport or compete?  Figure out what it is that makes you come alive when you do it.  That thing is a gift God has given you to connect with him while you take care of the body He has given you.  God would not ask us to honor our bodies and take care of the temple without creating a way for us to do that with joy and peace.

3. Do HIIT or Interval training.
High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT) is my favorite and most effective way to lose weight and get in shape without spending hours in the gym.  A TABATA is an interval that consists of performing specifically chosen exercises at a very high intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The beauty behind these short microbursts is that 20 seconds at high intensity is doable and the 10 second rest allows for brief recovery before moving on to the next exercise interval.  This short duration, but high intensity interval training (HIIT) creates a prolonged afterburn, or EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). This type of training causes the body to take longer to return to its state of rest, so it continues to burn calories (5x more) at a higher rate long after the workout session has completed. Put simply, a 4-minute Tabata workout can reap the same benefits as a longer but steady workout, like running for a half hour.

 You can focus your Tabata on lower, upper, core or cardiovascular activity. I recommend doing a strength Tabata first so you use your immediate energy stores then follow it by a cardio Tabata since you will already have used all glucose in the strength round and will need to utilize fat for energy for cardio.  Put those two together and you are done in 8 minutes with the same effects as a 30-45min run!

Lower Body example: Sumo squat, lunge, X-jumps, Plyo lunge(repeat).   Upper Body example: Pushups, Overhead press, moving pushups, V-pushups(repeat). Cardio example: High knees, sprint, squat jump, mountain climbers.  The possibilities are endless here, be creative!!

4   4. Use fun and free tools!
      I love using apps and gadgets when I exercise because it mixes things up and helps you execute the workout more effectively and efficiently.  Here are some of my favorites:
  •      I recommend the free Tabata Timer app.  You can also get a GymBoss for $20 and set your intervals for different times.  I like to wear it while exercising and then it vibrates or beeps when it's time to rest or change exercises.
  •      I love using Gliding Discs  for core and lower body. You can also use paper plates(if you have hardwood or tile floors) but they wear out easily so the investment in these are worth it.  I've had mine for 8 years and they are still in great shape.  You can see some examples of exercises to do with the discs here.
  •      Nike Training Club(NTC) is another great, free app you can use to do 15, 30 or 45 minute workouts.  You get to choose from Get lean(cardio), Get toned(light weights and intervals), Get Strong(strength) or Get Focused(15 minutes workouts to target specific areas). When you complete a workout it saves and you get points so you unlock badges(great if you are competitive). 
  •      When you are in a crunch for time and can't make it the gym a great option are BeachBody programs.  I have used several of them to lose post baby weight with my favorites being P90x, Insanity, ChaLean Extreme, 21 Day Fix and PIYO.  

5. Get an accountability partner!
Everything is so much better with a friend so find someone to exercise with or just hold each other accountable.  If you enjoy working out in groups find a class that you love and don't be afraid to try new ones!  One of the best ways to train our bodies is by cross training which means we change things up and try new things to keep our body guessing.  

6. Fill up.  
I don't have time in this post to address nutritional advice, however, I will give one healthy eating tip.  Fuel your body with fresh fruit, veggies, healthy fats and proteins....and do NOT starve yourself!  Food is our friend, not our enemy.    We also need to fill ourselves with God's word so we fill the hole in our soul that only He can fill, which keeps us from turning to food for comfort.  

(Please note: this article contains affiliate links.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Scared Skinny {A letter to my 15 year old self}

Before writing a blog post I always ask the Lord what would be an encouragement to my readers. Today I had a few moments to write and I felt Him tell me to write to the woman who is struggling with her appearance.  I could take so many angles on this post since I have been through thick and thin in this area(literally) but I felt Him lead me to write a letter to my 15 year old self.

Before you read this letter you need to know that I was a very overweight and plain Jane child.  I spent my free time eating Snickers and powdered donuts all while watching TV.  I wore nothing but athletic clothes and never fixed my hair.  When I was in high school I got injured and had to quit playing sports.  My doctor told me I couldn't play anymore and let me know I would need to watch what I was eating so I didn't become even more overweight.  I started by simply cutting out sodas and candy and dropped 30 lbs in a month.  That was it....I was hooked.  I never realized what you ate effected what you weighed or looked like.  I loved the attention and became addicted to losing weight.  It became an obsession, almost a hobby if you will.  Not only was I addicted to this way of life but I was terrified of going back to being overweight....or as I like to call it I was "scared skinny".  From diet pills, to starvation, to working out late at night, I did it all.  

While I do plan on writing a post specifically on recognizing and overcoming low self-esteem and eating disorders, this post is not about that.  Here is a letter from God I would give to my 15 year old self if I could go back in time:

Dear Rachael,

You are beautiful.  Not just beautiful on the outside but so beautiful on the inside.  I knit you together perfectly in your mother's womb.  I did not create you to live a life full of fear and worry but instead of joy and freedom.  I carefully chose your dark brown hair, blue eyes and olive skin tone.  I even gave you an athletic build that will one day be used to inspire others to be strong and physically fit.  You have a unique gift on your life that only YOU can fulfill.  You also have an enemy, satan, who sees these gifts in you and is terrified of them.  Because he is terrified of you he will use small things to detour you from walking out your destiny.  He will try to get you to believe that if only you could be thinner, more beautiful, or look just like someone else then you will be happy and successful. But that is a LIE.  Please recognize his voice and turn away from it and towards my voice.  Here is the truth: you are perfect the way I made you.  I am not capable of making mistakes.  If you have to change who you are or what you look like to be accepted by someone then that person was never meant to be in your life. I will complete the good work that I have began in you.  It grieves me to see you and my other girls rejecting who I created them to be.  I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  You will be a world changer, paving the way for generations to come.  Take a step of faith in being the change you want to see in the world by simply embracing yourself.  I have already embraced you right where you are.  I love you and am so proud of you.  


P.S. I have also created a man specifically for you who will be attracted to your God given features.  Please do not try to be anyone else or you will miss him too.  

Will you please read the letter again but this time insert your name and any specifics God says to you? I believe this a message God has for each one of us today.  No matter the age, it is easy to believe the lie that if we looked different or weighed the right amount that we would be happy.   Ask God to speak into this area of your life today, He wants to speak truth over you and bring healing and freedom.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

C-section, VBACS and a Miscarriage {My Birth Stories}

With Christmas coming up there is so much to think about and get done before the big day.  Now that I am a mom my focus has shifted from myself to my kids and those around me.  I could care less about receiving one gift because the look of excitement on my kids faces when they open their gifts is priceless.  Another view of Christmas that I never stopped to look too hard at until I was a mom was the perspective of Mary's birth story of Jesus.  When I really stop and think about the circumstances in which Mary gave birth to Jesus I can't help but think "Mary gets me!"  Mary's story of birthing Jesus in a manger with smelly animals around and no bed to lay on but hay makes my birth stories seem so small yet they have one thing in common....the element of surprise and faith in God.

Meet, Ellie, my oldest child and our big "surprise" as we found out I was pregnant only 9 months into marriage.  
Ellie's middle name is Joy(like me) and she is just that...so full of joy and she brings joy to everyone around her. 

When I was pregnant with Ellie I had only happy thoughts about how it all was going to go down...I would go into labor naturally(a few days early of course), all while having makeup on, hair done and a nice easy trip to the hospital then out would come baby!  No c-sections, no complications, everything exactly as I had planned.  Wow was I wrong.

I did not take care of myself like I should nor did I do any research or think I had any say in the decisions made for the birth.  I began to develop pre-eclampsia the last few weeks of my pregnancy so one day before my due date my doctor had me induced.  The induction did not go well and they gave me an epidural(strike one against my "plan") and the epidural completely stopped my labor. The doctor came in and gave me the news no mother longs to hear...I was having a c-section.  I remember bursting into tears.  All my hopes and dreams of natural childbirth crushed.  Yet despite it all I had my beautiful and healthy Ellie Joy in my arms.

My recovery from my c-section was hard physically and emotionally.  I could barely walk up stairs or stand upright without feeling like my scar would re-open for a few months after I had my daughter.  I remember hearing stories of other moms who had such easy vaginal deliveries and I would just crumble on the inside.  I struggled with questions like "What was wrong with me that my body couldn't deliver my baby naturally?  Why God?"

When Ellie was a little over a year old I became pregnant with our second child.  Meet Olivia Grace:


Olivia Grace is just that....full of grace and such a sweet spirit.  She has the softest, sweetest voice you have ever heard and she has such a nurturing spirit.

When I was pregnant with Olivia my husband was in chiropractic school and we learned more about our options in regards to natural child birth.  I was told I could not have a vaginal birth after my c-section by all but one doctor.  When God lead me to Dr.Cummings I knew it was confirmation that He was going to give me the desire of my heart, a vaginal birth.  I took better care of myself with that pregnancy, I prayed, stood on scripture and believed for a vaginal birth.  Because I was doing a VBAC(vaginal birth after cesarean) my doctor would not induce(nor did I want to be) and I went 10 days past due.  My beautiful Olivia Grace was born in the hospital and I did it completely drug free.  The Lord had given me the desire of my heart.

After our second daughter was born my husband felt the Lord tell him we would have a son.  I became pregnant and felt better than ever in my 3rd pregnancy.  Until I started bleeding at 14 weeks pregnant and ,to make a very long story short, was taken to the hospital because I had passed out on my sisters bathroom floor and was unresponsive.  It was by the grace of God that I was at my sisters home whose husband is a doctor and who knew what to do for me until the ambulance arrived.  I remember waking up in the ER with doctors talking around me about how to get the bleeding to stop...I just remember thinking there was no way this was happening to me because I would never have a miscarriage.  I was surprised and heart broken all at the same time.

The next few weeks after my miscarriage I felt very distant from God.  Wondering why He allowed it to happen when He could have stopped it and really just feeling sorry for myself.  I even questioned if what He had spoken to my husband about having a son was true. Until one day God spoke to my heart and reminded me that He was grieving with me and that He wanted to redeem what had been stolen from me.  

Meet Ezekiel Wayne:

Ezekiel means "strength of God" and he is just that....strong in both body and spirit.  

After I prayed that day for God to redeem what was lost, I became pregnant the next month with our first son(though we did not know it because we did not find out the sex of the baby). I went 10 days past due and went into labor and had my second VBAC. My first and only son was born on my birthday(my birthday boyfriend).  It was a sweet sign of Gods redeeming love.

So what does my c-section, VBACs and miscarriage have to do with my talk of Christmas and Mary at the beginning of this post?  Just like Mary did not plan to become pregnant with Jesus before she was married and definitely didn't plan to have him in a stable, we also have things in our lives that we did not plan. Mary was taken by surprise with the birth of Jesus but God sure wasn't.  I did not plan a c-section or a miscarriage but God redeemed both of those things with beautiful gifts.  I had a c-section with Ellie but I still received my gift of a beautiful baby girl.  I may not have planned my miscarriage but God used what the enemy intended for evil and turned it for good.

I could write several points on how to find God in the hard times or how to encourage someone walking through an unplanned c-section or miscarriage but I felt the Lord wanted me to focus one simple thing....God is a redeemer.  He is so many other things but in this story He is a redeemer.  And he longs to be one in your life too.  Do you have an area of your life you need redeemed?  Give it to Him and allow Him to restore all that has been stolen from you.