Category Archives: Fitness

My “March Madness Mama” Goals

Winter months are always harder anyway, so I know I’ve had a little extra “mama bear padding” between holiday celebrations and the natural “hibernation process” that occurs in colder months. This last weekend, I stepped on the scale and noticed that my weight has been inching back up over the last few months. After having my son two years ago, I found it relatively easy to drop my pregnancy weight, which I contribute entirely to nursing! Thankfully, I was able to nurse for a little over a year, but as soon as I stopped nursing–you guessed it–I almost immediately gained 10 pounds back! And the scale has been tipping upwards ever since that point. With spring around the corner, it’s time to take control, shed the pounds, and get trim again!

I HATE fad diets and am actually pretty, vehemently opposed to dieting in general, but I do agree with following a healthful lifestyle, which includes a healthful diet (“the kinds of food that a person…habitually eats”) as well as regular exercise, sleep, hydration, etc. (Check out my post about the inspiration of MJTL’s blog banner here.)

My ultimate goal in doing this is not a number on a scale or to look good in a bathing suit (see posts on Biblical views of Health and Beauty), but to be fit for service–service to God, my family, and my community. I debated between Trim Healthy Mama (THM), Whole30, and Paleo plans, and I may be a crazy-mad mama, but starting today, these are my goals for this March:

  1. Be in the Word every single day! (I’m currently studying the Gospel of Mark.)
  2. Get active 5 days per week, at least 25 minutes per day, and I must break a sweat!
  3. Drink 1 gallon of water every day! (That’s 16 cups or 8 16-oz. glasses.)
  4. Eliminate dairy from my diet (I may add this back later, but it’s easier to say “none” than “limited” and be tempted to eat it too often).
  5. Follow the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) basic principles (essentially, keep your fats and carbs separate; eat healthy proteins with every meal; and eat small meals or snacks every 3-4 hours to keep your metabolism up).

Below is a basic overview of THM that I found on Brea Getting Fit‘s blog. And I’ll be saving more tips and recipes on my “THM and Whole30 Inspiration” Pinterest board, if you need some inspiration.

What are your “March Madness Mama” goals? Even if you’re not a “Mad Mama,” will you join me on the journey to be fit for service to God and our communities?

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Interesting Articles and Tips for College-Age Students

It’s back to school and the blogosphere is flooded with tons of helpful tips, advice, and info about heading back to college…or jumping in for the first time.

First, I read two articles specifically addressing “20-somethings.” The first was “The 20 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me at 20” by Dr. Karin L. Smithson on HuffingtonPost.com. It has some good reminders worth reading as so many head back to school…about picking friends, staying healthy, the importance of family and faith, etc.

The second was “20 Things 20 Year Olds Don’t Get” by Jason Nazar on Forbes.com. For all my friends heading back to college…or just out of college…or just trying to build traction in your careers, this article contains some fairly sound advice. It’s not necessarily that young people “don’t get it” but rather some good career tips that they “should get,” or maybe “don’t get yet,” or “what to strive for.” From productivity to professionalism, online etiquette to face to face communication, reputation and fiscal responsibility, this article hits the key topics that are crucial for young people to grasp early on if they desire to be successful.

Also, I’m noticing lots of college-age or recent post-college grads struggling with “discerning God’s will for their lives.” One book I recently read that I wish I had read when I started college is Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something. See my recent book review here. Also, remember that you don’t have to read every spiritual self-help book known to man; if you have a Bible and read it regularly, seek godly counsel, and prayer, those three things are more valuable than any “how to” book or article out there.

In regards to what to major in, I read “The Decline and Fall of the English Major” by Verlyn Klinkenborg on NYTimes.com. It is sad to hear that the number of students majoring in English is declining. I could have majored in a great number of things, but I am continually thankful that I majored in English. It has been invaluable in every aspect of my life–personally, professionally, socially, even spiritually. The most beneficial classes I took were probably Critical Writing with Dr. Horton and Philosophy of Education with Dr. Salter (both should be required by every major, in my humble opinion). To think clearly and logically and to be able to write concisely and coherently are two of the most precious yet neglected treasures in this culture. Klinkenborg writes: “Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.” and “No one has found a way to put a dollar sign on this kind of literacy, and I doubt anyone ever will. But everyone who possesses it — no matter how or when it was acquired — knows that it is a rare and precious inheritance.” Well said, Verlyn.

Finally, it’s important in your college years to stay healthy in this fast-paced, stress-filled season of life. Here’s a fun “Cheat Sheet for Healthy School Lunches” from The Honest Co.:

Journey Journal: Days 152-153

Day 152: Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day One of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free June! So far so good. Started with breakfast of a two-egg omelet with roasted tomatoes and garlic and caramelized onions, a glass of orange juice, and a press of coffee with coconut milk. During the morning, Bryan and some of our guy friends helped out on a yard work project at Frontline Missions. So to thank them for their hard work, we grilled them a lunch of teriyaki chicken thighs and shrimp, and grilled pineapple. I tossed together a spinach salad, and they shared a loaf of sourdough bread from Simple Gifts–Old World Artisan Breads (made by our friends Dave & Cathy Miller–I did not have a piece because I knew if I said “I’ll start gluten-free tomorrow” that tomorrow would never come). After lunch, the guys played a game and I took a nap. After my nap, I went on a 5 mile walk/run. It was just what I needed to get my mind ready for worship on Sunday. Then for dinner I heated up some leftover steak, caramelized a red onion, and threw it into some corn tortillas with some spinach. Then I cooked up a sweet potato with some garlic, thyme and tarragon.

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Day 153: Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grabbed a banana and some orange juice on our way out the door for church. For lunch, Bryan made us “breakfast tortillas” with scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, salsa, and bacon in corn tortillas. Delicious! Did a workout video for about an hour. Then for dinner, we made a chicken teriyaki stir-fry with jasmine rice, carrots, mushrooms, daikon, and broccoli (I topped mine with a little bit of chopped cashews). We steeped a pot of Oolong tea and turned on some classical music as we listened to the raindrops and rumbles of thunder outside. A good ending to a good weekend.

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Journey Journal: Days 106-108

Day 106: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

As we get closer to the release of Dispatches from the Front: Episode 6the days are pretty busy in the office. Since I’ve basically cut dairy out of my diet, I have not struggled with allergies at all this season! This is a huge improvement! (and maybe even worth never eating cheese again!) So, I was surprised when I started sneezing and getting a headache. I went to Goga and sat in the sauna that had peppermint oil in it–that seemed to help. But then later, I couldn’t breathe again.

Day 107: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Definitely not allergies. Full-blown head cold. Left work early around 2 PM and came home. Finally fell asleep around 4 PM, slept for 4 hours, got up and ate a little and chatted with Bryan, then went to bed again around 10 PM!

Day 108: Thursday, April 18th, 2013

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Thankful for a good night’s sleep. Feeling a good bit better. (I guess that’s what 14 hours of sleep will do for a person!) Another very productive day at work. I think we’re ready for the DVD Premiere this weekend! And making really good progress on other projects and upcoming events! Actually got off work at 5:00 this afternoon! Came home and went for a 4 mile walk with Bryan around the surrounding neighborhoods. Then we had a delicious dinner of pan-seared salmon with brown sugar and cajun seasoning; served over a mixed baby greens salad with walnuts, strawberries, and honey mustard dressing; steamed broccoli and carrots; and caramelized purple cabbage, leeks, and garlic.

Journey Journal: Days 103-105

Day 103: Saturday, April 13, 2013

Slept in. Eggs for a late breakfast with a fresh fruit salad and a fine French Press of coffee! Then we filled our water bottles and headed to Paris Mountain for a five mile hike! It was a gorgeous day! Bryan had a few hours of work later on, and I caught up on some chores. Then our friends Dave and Rachel came over for an evening of fun and fellowship. I experimented and made some candied grapefruit peels…which I’m kind of addicted to right now. I definitely want to try candying some orange and tangerine peels next!

Day 104: Sunday, April 14, 2013

After a fabulous morning at church, Bryan and I decided to take a Sunday afternoon drive–a fun tradition we started while we were dating that we haven’t done in a while. We ended up at Doc Chey’s Noodle House…in Asheville.

Then we walked around for a couple of hours and stopped by Posana Cafe before heading home for the day. I got a Cortado (espresso cut with steamed milk–an indulgence for sure) and a mini biscotti. The setting was beautiful, the barista was friendly, and I only wish we could have stayed for the dinner menu (it looked fabulous). We will have to return!

Day 105: Monday, April 15, 2013

Another long, yet productive day at work! Had leftover Thai black bean noodles from Doc Chey’s for lunch, then came home to chicken rice curry pot! Bryan has nearly perfected this dish! I cleaned up, since he cooked all afternoon! Had our friend Collins over and it was a good time of Gospel conversations! Thankful for God’s visible work in our local assembly!

Journey Journal: Days 96-97

Day 96: Saturday, April 6, 2013

Slept in. Breakfast of Ezekiel 4:9 Golden Flax cereal with raspberries, banana slices, and almond milk, and a French Press of coffee. Went to Goga for 20 minutes of workout and 15 minutes of sauna time. Brought a book to read in the sauna (Reckless Abandon by David Sitton, an autobiography of a missionary to PNG). After that, I came home, filled my water bottle, grabbed a granola bar, and went on a 5 mile walk in the neighborhoods surrounding ours. I am so thankful for this sunshine and the new blooms of springtime! After a hot shower, I met Bryan downtown, since he was there studying for his Microbiology test all day. I grabbed some red pepper strips and a mandarin orange on my way out the door and enjoyed them with a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad from Port City Java. He studied for a bit more, then we checked out the new Anthropology store downtown (very cool, by the way!) before heading to dinner at 21 East. Bryan got a burger with root beer caramelized onions and a side of fries; I wasn’t super hungry (since the salad wasn’t that long ago), so I just got a single cajun crawfish taco (which was delicious! I might just have to get the 3 for $10 next time). It was a relaxing evening! I love date night!

Day 97: Sunday, April 7, 2013

Church this morning. Then 2nd grade Journey Group, where we talked about God being “Unchanging.” Had my cousin, his girlfriend, and another friend over for a lunch of tacos and taco salad (beef with cumin and garlic; and shrimp with curry powder, red pepper flakes, and garlic; plus loads of fresh veggies). Shared a French Press of Columbian coffee with our guests. While Bryan and the gang continued to study, I went for another 5 mile walk…this time with book in hand. I read and walked and enjoyed the fresh air! Bryan grilled burgers for dinner, and I had a side of carrot sticks. Made some lemon corn muffins with a lemon glaze for dessert, which got gobbled up very quickly! (Recipe here; I used about a cup of powdered sugar instead of 1/3 c. white sugar in the glaze, and I used Jiffy cornbread mix instead of the suggested brand.) Will have to remember that! Watched some clips on Food Network, while sipping a vanilla almond iced coffee (leftovers from this afternoon’s brew). Time for a hot, Epsom salt bath before getting ready for bed and grabbing my book one more time for the weekend.

Journey Journal: Days 65-71

Day 65: Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Finally made it to GOGA for the first time this week! Had a quick dinner before Shepherding Group.

Days 66-67: Thursday-Friday, March 7-8, 2013

Long couple of days. Didn’t sleep well. And it’s been windy and gloomy. Hopefully it will warm up for the weekend.

 

Day 68: Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finally! Sunshine! Slept in a bit, ran some errands, went to GOGA, and finished out the day by a few hours of weeding.

Day 69: Sunday, March 10, 2013

Another sunny day. I cannot express how thankful I am for our church family! After a quick lunch, a group of the young adults from church headed to Paris Mountain for a 4.5 mile hike, followed by a dinner of grilled burgers, coleslaw, apples, carrots, celery with peanut butter and raisins, and berry pie!

Day 70: Monday, March 11, 2013

I do not like Daylights Savings Time! That is all.

Day 71: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Busy day, but very productive! I love days like this. Had a delicious leftover burger for lunch, wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. Carrots and peppers with hummus, an apple, and a piece of dark chocolate. Went for a 1.5 mile walk after work. Thankful for sunshine this afternoon again. And had a dinner of BBQ turkey sandwich with slaw and the last slice of berry pie.

Journey Journal: Days 57-60

Day 57: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Homemade whole wheat toast with organic coconut spread and apricot jam for breakfast, along with a cup of fresh apple slices. Twenty minutes of Goga at lunch, followed by veggie stir-fry. Curry with chicken and mushrooms for dinner, along with strawberries, almonds, and a little dark chocolate for dessert.

Day 58: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Same breakfast as yesterday. I’m really enjoying the coconut spread! Leftover curry and rice for lunch. Twenty minutes of Goga after work, followed by a quick veggie stir-fry supper, then off to prayer meeting.

Day 59: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Multi-grain Cheerios with Coconut Almond milk and a banana for breakfast.

Today marked one month at Goga, which means measurements! Over 10 body points, I dropped a total 8 inches and 7 pounds in one month! Not only is it a good workout and a relaxing stress reliever, it actually works! After another 20 minute session of Goga, I stopped home quickly for a roast beef wrap with spinach, onion, mushroom, and peppers, accompanied by steamed broccoli and a strawberry-kiwi fruit salad.

Tonight, we were invited over to a family’s house from church. She made an amazing Chinese dinner, with dumplings, fried rice, veggies, and cashew chicken–we even ate with chopsticks. We had such a good time talking that we had to pull ourselves away around midnight, since we had work the next day. So thankful for the bond of Christ!

Day 60: Friday, February 29, 2013

Peanut butter on homemade whole wheat bread for breakfast. A simple roast beef and spinach wrap for lunch, with some pepper strips and baby carrots. Dinner was raisin bran with dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and a banana with almond coconut milk. Had a later snack of more raw veggies. No workout today–rest day! And hopefully an early bedtime.

Journey Journal: Days 54-56

Day 54: Saturday, February 23, 2013

Slept in till 9 a.m.! Breakfast of scrambled eggs with stir-fry veggies. Went to the gym for about 35 minutes and really broke a good sweat! Came home and had a quick lunch before cleaning the house and finishing the week’s laundry. Able to read a good chunk of my current book, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, accompanied by a fine French press of Italian Dark Roast. Then had our friend Collins over for a dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, herbed carrots and steamed broccoli. I added sour cream, butter and cheese to the guys’ potatoes, while mashing mine with coconut oil and nutritional yeast–which was actually quite tasty. Hot tea and more reading concluded my evening.

Day 55: Sunday, February 24, 2013

Split a piece of homemade bread with Bryan as we rushed out the door. Had a great morning worshipping Christ at church this morning. Danny spoke from Psalm 23 and our Shepherd Jesus! Journey Group centered around God being our Righteousness–what a blessed thought! Had my cousin and some friends over for a lunch of whole wheat pancakes with blueberry compote, bacon, and scrambled eggs (I made my pancakes with soy milk and they turned out pretty good). Went on a 3.1 mile walk/run because the weather was so gorgeous! This time of year, I take the opportunity to be outside and catch some sun every chance I can get–especially when the sun is accompanied by temperatures above 60°F! Then we had a Journey Group leaders’ meeting at church in the evening and broke up by age groups to discuss concepts and share ideas. It was sweet to hear Bryan share how much he enjoys discipling the youth of our local Body. Then my cousin and his friends came back over to finish laundry…and for a dinner of curry burgers topped with spinach, avocado, tomato, etc.; baby carrots; and apple slices. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating Sunday!

Day 56: Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy birthday to my bro! Breakfast of homemade toast with strawberry jam with Bryan before heading to work this morning. Handful of nuts for a mid-morning snack, then a veggie stir-fry for lunch. Encouraged by certain evidences of God’s grace and direction in our lives. Did my weekly grocery shopping after work today, which took longer than normally, as I’m reading labels and comparing prices for the new non-dairy thing.  Quick dinner of whole wheat pancakes with blueberry compote and a vanilla coconut yogurt (tasted really good, but will likely only by as a special dessert–more sugar than I realized). Then headed to our Ladies’ Group tonight, which included more evidences of grace and encouragement by some of my dear friends. God is so good!

Book Review: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano is a fabulously simple concept of enjoying quality over quantity in whatever you eat…or do. With over 265 pages of tips, tricks, recipes and hilariously helpful stories, Guiliano shares the secrets of her healthy heritage, while convincing you to drop whatever fad diet you might be most recently deceived by.

Guiliano is a high-power, working woman and best-selling international author, who grew up in France and is at the top of her game as the CEO of an American branch of a French company. She talks about being an exchange student in high school and coming to America, where she picked up much of the typical American high school food fare, along with the pounds to go with it. After returning to France, she worked with a Dr. Meyer (whom she refers to as “Dr. Miracle” throughout the book) to regain her ideal body weight and lead a healthfully satisfying life of enjoying food, fitness, friends and family.

She talks about basic concepts like eating smaller portions of higher quality ingredients, making sure you have a good variety (recommending at least 20-30 different types of food each day, so you get a full gamut of nutrients), not depriving yourself, eating slowly and mindfully, and shopping daily and at local markets as much as possible, so you get the freshest, in season, local ingredients.

She also recommends drinking plenty of water, keeping moving (even if it’s just walking, stairs, and a few light weights), getting proper sleep (not too much, not too little), and adding yogurt to your daily menu. And over and over again she says, “Faites simple,” meaning, “Keep it simple.”

Here are some of my favorite moments from the book:

  • “Consider all the things you consume regularly. Which of them is giving you real pleasure and which are you having to pointless excess? One thing French women know is that the pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites; we rarely have seconds” (p. 31).
  • “Part of living like a French woman, then, will mean searching out and paying a bit more for quality, whether at the open-air market or at least a good grocery shop with market suppliers. …French women live on budgets, too, but they also understand the value of quality over quantity” (p. 77).
  • “Visual variety, color, and presentation are underestimated factors in food pleasure” (p. 119).
  • “French women know any regimen you can’t maintain for long stretches of life is bound to fail you, just as they know that boredom, not food, is the enemy” (p. 206). “For me, walking remains the ultimate time for freedom of thought” (p. 210). “The body spends about 60 calories an hour sleeping; if you swim, you’ll do better at 430 calories; but climbing stairs consumes a stunning 1,100 calories per hour. Vive l’escalier!” (p. 211).
  • “The only purpose of withholding some pleasure is so we can more fully enjoy everything else for having it in proper balance” (p. 224). “Our troubles with weight have as much to do with our attitudes toward eating as they do with what we are ingesting. We are seeing a growing psychosis that I believe actually adds stress to our already stressful way of life. It is fast erasing the simple values of pleasure” (p. 225).
  • Speaking of laughter: “It’s both a physical and psychic pleasure: it is relaxing, stimulating, liberating, and sensual. It’s a pleasant response to emotion that heightens the emotion itself” (p. 228). “Marcel Pagnol believed that God gave laughter to human beings as consolation for being intelligent. I prefer to believe he made us intelligent so we could appreciate a good laugh” (p. 229).
  • “The answer is never ‘dieting’ in the American sense, but rather little alterations made steadily over time. So when we do lose the excess weight, not only does the effort seem painless, the results are much more likely to last. If my fellow Americans could adopt even a fraction of the French attitude about food and life (don’t worry, you don’t have to sign on to the politics, too), managing weight would cease to be a terror, an obsession, and reveal its true nature as part of the art of living” (p. 252).

I highly recommend this book if you are trying to lose weight for the first time…or if you have given up and need this to be the last time you lose weight…or if you just want a few good tips and recipes to spice up your weekly menu repertoire. Fortunately, I took French in high school and still remember un petit peu (since she likes to throw in some of her native phrases), but even if you don’t know French, she translates most of her phrases for you…and then, there’s always Google translate for the ones she doesn’t. A quick read, and a relief to the typical American trying to become healthier. So, pick up this book, adjust your attitude about food, and then adjust your lifestyle and start enjoying the good gifts of fabulous cuisine. Bon Appetit!