“Healthy Pregnancy”

After the loss of our first baby in 2015, one of my hopes for 2016 was to be able to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.

“Healthy pregnancy” looks and feels different on everyone… I knew I wouldn’t be one of those awesome crossfit pregnant ladies who still had defined abs at 30 weeks, but I did know my body was capable of continuing to lift weights, being consistently active, and getting appropriate nutrients in the correct amount. I had very heathy habits the first time, but I felt even more of a desire to get it all perfect if the second time ever came around, as if that would somehow help keep the baby.

Pregnancy after miscarriage was a whole new ball game. I was no longer naive about miscarriage stats and all of the fertility struggles women go through. Everyday was and is time to be grateful to love the life within me, and I also slightly nervous about not being guaranteed that my child would make it to delivery.

Let’s just say the ideal perfection went out the window when for the first 3 months I was not able to keep much food down at all.  Between all day nausea, throwing up, and food aversions, the last thing I could even think about doing was eating or smelling vegetables. Just walking into the kitchen made me gag. I was mostly gluten and dairy-free before conceiving this time around and no sugar, but you better believe I did not hesitate to go for the saltine crackers, bread, and any carbs that would settle my stomach… oh and ALL THE FRENCH FRIES! I was in survival mode for weeks upon weeks, exhausted and very low-functioning. Praise God for my patient husband!

But allow me to also say that while this season was difficult, I am not complaining. I was grateful in a way for the sickness, because it felt like some sort of assurance that baby was progressing and a reminder that I was actually pregnant, no matter how hard it was to believe. I know what it’s like to pray for a baby month after month, and enduring whatever pregnancy symptoms was par for the course in my mind. In fact, I had prayed for a baby, no matter what symptoms I had to endure… watch what you pray for 😉 Nothing like feeling weak all of the time to push you to rely deeper on the strength of Christ!

So if you were wondering why I wasn’t as active with Soul Strong Fitness, it was because I worked out just a few times during that time, and had no energy before or after work to give unfortunately. I did feel sort of guilty that I wasn’t being very “healthy”, or really couldn’t be, but every time I went in for an appointment, they said the baby looked healthy and was growing! I did my best to navigate those months, and that’s all I could really ask for.

Fast forward now to 18 weeks. We’ve had several ultrasounds and I am able to feel more positive and confident about baby!  I’m also physically improved, and have some great anti-nausea medicine after a few really bad spells! I finally feel like Rosemary again! I’m breaking out of the dragging days and ready to get back on course and motivated! I want to finish this pregnancy strong; feel strong in labor, and feel strong as a mother!

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my health and fitness journey over the years, it’s that giving up is not an option and it’s never too late to jump back into it!

IMG_0232

slowly starting to bump! 🙂 and the endorphins from exercise help me to get out of “slumps”

A few constants over the past few months that kept me as healthy as I could attempt to be were…

  1. PDP_VitaminWaterZero_SqueezedLemonade_20ozlots of WATER! A few weeks in, water started tasting funny, so I’d have the Lemonade Vitamin Water Zero when I could. The electrolytes were good for hydrating after getting sick, and the extra B6 is thought to help nausea.
    dsc_0036
  2. Vegan Chocolate Shakeology -I usually made with a banana and added some extra spinach for more fiber, even though it already has greens included. That spinach might the only extra veggie I got that day! When everything else tasted bad, my body LOVED the chocolate flavor, and it’s quick to make for breakfast when I have ZERO energy. I’m so grateful for the incredible ingredients in my daily shake!                                                                                                                                                         17387874
  3. These amazing gummy vitamins ! I started off with these organic whole food pre-natals, but couldn’t manage to keep them down. Gummies without extra sugars and artifical colors are the way to go! It’s really hard to find gummies that have folate (NOT folic acid), which is the nutrient’s natural form rather than the synthetic form. Not everyone’s body can process the folic acid, so most health experts recommend folate if possible. AND you don’t have to take a separate DHA! All in one! 🙂
  4. Forcing myself (my husband forcing me) to at least take a long walk everyday. The workouts I did manage to do came from Beachbody On Demand’s pregnancy workouts called the Active Maternity Series. Free 30 day trial to the online workouts btw!  thumb_IMG_3299_1024
  5. My mindset to not worry and to pray about every little thing is greatly assisted by journaling! A co-worker got me this sweet pregnancy prayer journal to notate how each trimester was going, prayer requests, and people to pray for who are currently trying to concieve. I think for those who have experienced pregnancy after the loss, the most important thing is to TRY to remain grateful. The last thing I wanted was to end up having a second loss and not really giving that baby the love and celebration he or she deserved. preg10

Due date January 6th! I’ll be using this page to keep me accountable and opening up a fitness group soon for anyone interested in getting back on track with me!

Don’t be Afraid of Accountability

A couple weekends ago, I went on a “girls weekend” with my two childhood besties. We had all experienced a sort of transitional year, and needed the time with just the 3 of us back together like the good old days. As of last year, we all are now married, living in different cities, balancing school, part time and full time jobs, which makes it difficult to spend as much time together as we’d like.

The weather ended up being super cold and rainy, so we sat and talked from literally Noon until Midnight… it’s a female skill 🙂 At the end of the weekend, surprised I hadn’t lost my voice, I felt tired but so refreshed- so happy. I felt strong with the two of them in my court and me in theirs, knowing they were praying for me and loved me, despite my shortcomings.

There’s something hard about sharing the tough stuff with someone,  sharing the messiness of life, re-connecting in a deeper way, but when you DO share it and go through it together, it’s raw and real genuine friendship. It’s freeing! Good and godly friendship brings hope.

In one particular conversation, we all realized that many years ago, the 3 of us were each struggling with the SAME THING, but we didn’t tell each other. SHOOT! We could’ve been there for each other! We could have kept each other accountable and held each other up. We could have supported each other in a time where it counted the most! Heck, maybe we could’ve avoided some pain along the road too.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to be vulnerable. It’s hard to admit you need help. And it’s hard to break through the facade of perfection we are “supposed” to maintain. We had to admit to each other that life is messy and we all went through things that didn’t make us “bad”, but were part of our growth.

We took away an opportunity away from close friends to let God use them to minister to us, to correct us, and love us though it. So we promised, complete openness from here on out!

All of this got me thinking about accountability… the thing we resist but we so desperately need for abundant living. Accountability is the glue that keeps us committed to the life we know is worth living, not the one we sometimes settle for.

The Christian life is not a solo sport. There’s nothing that Satan loves more than to make you feel lonely, stuck in sin and defeat, doubting your purpose and isolated from your community.

The cool thing is, this can apply to pretty much anything! As humans, we need community to sharpen and better each other to live out God’s calling in our lives.

If you’re battling gossip, stuck in an unhealthy dating relationship, fighting against an eating disorder, struggling to stop spending so much money,  desperate to lose weight and find energy, trying to avoid thinking highly of yourself, or doubting your faith, you need the gentle accountability of a friend to build you up no matter what you’re facing.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! -Ecclesiastes 4:10

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We are called to invest in each other…We are called to be there for each other through the joys, yes, and also in the struggles. In a world of critics and pitfalls, let’s be encouragers to one another! Let’s sharpen each other and serve each other to physical and spiritual health.

I don’t know where I’d be with my workouts, with my prayer life, with my emotional well-being, with my marriage, and with plenty of difficult situations that have come my way, without someone coming along side, stirring me on to make the right choice. Whether it’s one of my fitness challenge groups with likeminded motivated people, or just a simple Saturday making cookies gleaning wisdom from a wise old friend, accountability has surely been good for me. Not easy, but good.

What in your life do you need accountability and support with? Who in your life can help you do that? Don’t be afraid to get real and tell them you need them! Don’t be afraid of accountability.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 9.04.27 PM.png

 

 

 

 

We Can be Free

 

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” {Galatians 5:13-17, 22}

You were called to Freedom. Wow.

First of all, let it sink in that we are called by the God of the Universe, out of darkness, out of the law, out of the curse, out of our own selfishness, out of our doubt to have freedom for faith working in love. We were given liberty not to have license to be sinful and indulgent, but to have the opportunity to mature and grow and to become all we were meant to be! When we live by the Spirit, we don’t gratify our desires that we don’t really want.

This is not freedom FROM rules, this kind of freedom is freedom TO… a positive freedom that gives us the opportunity to choose what we really NEED (not just what our emotions or impulses want).

Sounds exciting and all, but how does this apply to our health?

Put it this way, just because there is giant chocolate cake on the table, and you are free and allowed to consume it, that doesn’t mean that it is the best choice.

  • Does eating that cake mean you are going to be trapped in guilt?

 

  • Does eating this one piece mean you’re going to have another and another and another until you’re caught in a vicious cycle?

 

  • Does it mean you’re going to become a slave to sugar?

 

  • Are you eating it after being indulgent in plenty of other “treats” this week?

 

  • Do you feel the cake calling your name, taunting you, like you can’t say “no” to it?

 

We are free to choose, but we are free SO that we can choose the best God wants for us. I’m not saying never ever have a piece of cake. Cake is wonderful on birthdays, especially if it’s something yummy like this! I am saying that cake will never give us true happiness, and no one needs cake. It will never be the beneficial choice for your body. Don’t hate me, hate the science that proves that 🙂

What to do?

Sow into the Spirit. Ask Him for the fruit of self-control…you know the last fruit on the list that often gets over-looked? The fruit of love or peace seems a little more pleasant, but the fruit of self-control requires a battle within us. It means denying something in the moment for something even more glorious in the future.

It means we have to switch our thinking from a society that says you always deserve to have whatever you want and have it your way, to a kingdom mindset that says it is good for us to deny ourselves sometimes.

And it’s when you finally get to a point in your health journey that you tap into the power to deny those cake temptations that come chasing you, that you actually DO feel free! You didn’t feel out of control, forced into eating something, regretting it later, eating it because it’s what you’ve always done, friends pushing you into that extra cookie, or just in a mindless binging state… you THOUGHT before you ate and actually chose what made sense for you.

“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up. “ {1 Corinthians 10:23}

When I was recovering from being a binge eater myself, this verse above was my go-to script to find strength. I would whisper out loud,”everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial…”, and it almost always gave me that extra encouragement I needed to continue healing, instead of clinging to my former ways.

Self-control isn’t always fun, but in the long run, it is the most gratifying 🙂

Lord, I thank you for winning freedom on my behalf so that I could have the fullest, most abundant life through new life in You. I pray that you give me the strength and the knowledge to not abuse that freedom. I desire to choose right and not be controlled by my fleshly desires, but it is a hard battle to fight. I ask for the fruit of the Spirit to be made evident in my life. Grant me greater self-control so that I might walk in a manner worthy of my calling. May You get the glory of my self-control victories. Amen.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 8.56.55 AM.png

Toxicity

When someone is first starting their “healthy living” journey, one of the first tips people tend to give to him or her is to become ingredient aware– to check out the labels of what you’re eating. If the product has a ton of added colors, preservatives, trans fat, corn syrup, pesticides, artificial sugars, GMOS and the like, the advice is to steer clear. Simply put, science says over time, these foreign substances stuck in our body can poison us, lead to cancer and other diseases.

Different sources may say slightly different things about the affects of chemicals on our bodies, but the main takeaway should be to find the most natural sources of our products and be comfortable and knowledgable with whatever we’re using or eating.

Over the years I’ve learned more, and through small changes, the process of choosing what’s better for me has become more normal/easy to do. It’s no longer a “I should”, but an “I want to” take care of myself.

At first the hassle seems like too much work, but as you start to make little swaps, you feel capable of greater changes over time, and realize you have more energy, are more confident, feel stronger, and quicker on your feet. I at least aim for the most “natural” groceries, organic protein without added hormones and stick to getting the dirty dozen organic as well.

Recently, I read the book the Super Life by Daren Olien, a nutritionist and superfood expert.

3D-Bookshot-SuperLife1.png

As much as I had been focusing on good nutrition and exercise, my eyes were opened a little more about the importance of some of the other life-forces that affect our health like oxygenation,  alkalization, and (what this post is about) detoxification. Our systems are overwhelmed and overtaxed, and constantly processing all of the crazy stuff our organs weren’t meant to handle. The more overworked they are, the more vulnerable, the less strong our immune system is to fight for us against mutated cells and other sickness.

 

I had been working on step 1: what I fed my body, and after reading the information in this book, was ready to move onto step 2: what I allowed into my body through my skin and breathing in the air.

Things like shampoo, makeup, lotion, aren’t regulated and can get away with a lot more chemicals and not labeling what goes into their products. Your skin absorbs up to 70% of what you put on it, so it IS important to think about what is getting in!

OH where to even START?!

SO I started digging. Google can be a good friend, and so can other women out there who are way further along on this non-toxic journey than I am!

So just as I did the first time with my eating, I decided to start becoming ingredient aware of all the products I use daily. It wasn’t pretty… surprise!! It seems like everything is bad for you! 😛

Below are some suggestions for some slow changes I’ve been making over the last month. It was overwhelming at first to feel like I’ve been doing many things “wrong” for so many years, but just like healthy eating and exercise, it is never too late to get started doing things a little better to take some stress off our kidneys and liver.

All the items below are simply things to think about, and you get to decide what to implement and what you feel like is best for you to look into. Same with healthy eating, it involves weighing the price/inconvenience against the potential harm. I believe you just have to do your best with the information you have! That’s all 🙂 IF you’re interested in this stuff like I am, read on!

If you get overwhelmed like I did, maybe focus on making one category each month a little bit better. As you run out of a certain toiletry or product, research something new to try instead of your normal supply! A lot of times we just use something because it’s the cheapest item or our parents used it, but we don’t really think about if it’s healthy or effective. Don’t drive yourself crazy, just be aware 🙂 I’m no expert!

________________________________________

 

{Deodorant}

This one actually started to learn about when I first found out I was pregnant this past April. The aluminum in antiperspirants, the parabens, and the “fragrance” in the deodorant were recommended as ingredients to avoid because of the carcinogens (cancer causing) and could cause birth defects. I didn’t know how much to believe this at the time, as I’ve always been a “sweater” and couldn’t imagine not having the SUPER protective antiperspirant. But if it meant I could reduce my chances of cancer and any other complications, I figure it doesn’t hurt to try it out.

I made a switch to Tom’s Deodorant. Not going to lie, it doesn’t work as well as the aluminum that blocks you from sweating. I have to reapply it if I don’t want to start smelling at the end of the day. If you want to get really ‘crunchy’ and you have the time, you could try to make your own and give your armpits a break from the chemicals that are potentially interfering with your hormones and let yourself sweat those toxins OUT. Look for products that say “aluminum free” when you can! Our sweat is part of our body’s detox system!

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.51.49 AM

 

{Meal Containers}

I was microwaving my lunch everyday at work in plastic wear. Now, even though some of the plastic  is “BPA free”, that doesn’t mean that the plastic isn’t breaking down over time and releasing chemicals, like dioxin, into my food that otherwise wouldn’t be there; chemicals that could cause reproductive issues or once again, cancer.  I thankfully had a Container Store gift card, so I purchased a few glass lunch containers, to take to work when we have something to microwave, and still use the plastic containers just for food storage. Baby steps.

IMG_6979

{Face Wash} 

Everyday, since probably high school, I have washed my face, then used Clearasil astringent, and then used an acne medicated lotion… morning and night. That’s a lot of product going into my pores! The ingredient triclosan in my face wash, can be toxic to reproduction and can alter the thyroid hormone receptor.

I switched to Witch Hazel as a natural toner for the “astringent” step, and Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for the lotion part. I’ve heard Rose Water is also a good option as well as different kinds of essential oils. Coconut Oil is a GOLD mine and has tons and tons of uses for your skin and digestion.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.54.36 AM.png

{Body Wash}

 Dr. Bronner’s has a wide variety of uses, is 100% organic made with vegetable and coconut oils. I decided to make the switch to this instead of my generic Dove-type body wash which has “fragrance” and several other ingredient linked to developmental toxicity, allergies, and cancer. My body wash was going all over my entire body very frequently, so I wanted to be sure to find a sure non-toxic solution.

IMG_6967

 

{AIR}

We spent a lot of time indoors, unfortunately. To improve our air quality in our medium size apartment, we got a plant! A beautiful peace lily (it requires very little sunlight and watering so we knew it was best for us! haha). It topped NASA’s list for removing all three of most common volatile compounds — formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It can also combat toluene and xylene. Basically I figured if we had sketchy things in the air, it could at least help clean it up a little bit for us without us even trying!

IMG_6312.jpg

{Cleaning Supplies}

This is usually the category that people start with I think… or at least the one I’ve heard most about. However, maybe I don’t use cleaning supplies often enough to have thought of them first! Having a multi-surface cleaner was key because I do frequently wipe down counter surfaces in the kitchen and the bathroom. I would usually use Clorox Wipes for this. There are plenty of cleaning concoctions you can make at home with water and vinegar and baking soda! Give pinterest a search if you’d rather make your own than buy!

 

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

{Candles}

We go through periods of time where we have 3-4 candles lit at a time in our apartment. We love candles, the smell and the mood they create. SURPRISE. The fragrance amongst other things is bad for you. You can also find others made of coconut wax and beeswax. This is a small business brand I found at a used bookstore. They have an etsy store if you’re interested!

IMG_6784

{Linen Spray & Air Freshener} 

Turns out, it’s not that “fresh” after all. Don’t be fooled! We keep the febreeze in the bathroom, as I think most people have some kind of spray in there!  Turns out this is pretty horrible….  haha I also would spray linen spray on our sheets to keep them fresh in between washes, but turns out spraying the chemicals on our sheets was potentially getting in our skin as we slept. I found this DYI Linen spray that I’ll definitely be trying out instead!

 

Finally, I have to suggest this app called “Think Dirty”. You can scan in any of your products and it will tell you what ingredients are dangerous and why. It gives them a rating of how harmful they may be, and suggests alternatives for you to check out. Ask around your friends, someone is bound to sell brands like Ava Anderson, Shaklee, Norwex, several different brand of essential oils that can help with cleaning or be used as with an air diffuser  with plenty of health benefits. Maybe next I’ll tackle my makeup!

Good luck detoxing your life!! It’s tough work out there!

Surviving the Holiday Season

People gain anywhere between 2-16 lbs over November and December. This is typically because of mindless eating, binging, lots of parties, busyness, traveling, and maybe even laziness. If you DRIFT into the holiday,  you won’t come out any healthier or you may come out worse. You have control over what you do with your body & what you feed it. No one is more in control of your health than YOU.

Don’t let the holidays just happen. Don’t be the victim of your circumstance. This requires a little bit of thinking ahead so you don’t feel crummy and fall into a Turkey-Coma afterwards.

How to survive the holidays

 

1.Set a goal for yourself for the next month. Get specific! Ie. I will exercise 5 days a week, lose 5lbs, lose body fat 4 percent, I will get two hours more sleep each night. It doesn’t have to be weight loss! Have a strategy that includes accountability. We are quick to let down ourselves, but we won’t flake on someone else. If someone else is involved, you won’t let them down and they won’t let you off the hook if you tell them not to!

2. Don’t skip your workouts. If you’re out of town, it may require getting up earlier, using your laptop in your guest room, or talking to your host about the best running path nearby. Decide upon the most effective exercise plan. This is the one you’ll ACTUALLY DO! Find something that you hate but love! Tabata is good for using body weight and when you’re on the go and need a quick effective workout. Look into what options you have and stick to it!

3. Decide in advance what you will sacrifice. Maybe that’s not baking as much or not say yes to every party invite! Everything revolves around food & sugar & butter & carbs. Sacrifice feeling bad about hurting feelings. You don’t have to tell them why, you have every right to say no. Maybe sacrifice that 3rd or 4th plate, and stick to ONE plate, savoring every bite. Sacrifice the generic pie so you can have a Grandma’s homemade cookies.

4. Bring your own dish so YOU have options and you help other people that are looking for a healthy side. I’ve arrived at a party and realized they are only offering pizza and mozzarella sticks. Then ONE person showed up with a veggie tray. Of course, with limited options, I had some pizza, but I didn’t eat as much as I would have because I had the veggie tray. Be someone’s saving grace (and your own!)

5. Eat before your event so you won’t fall for anything. If you made a plan to avoid the stuffing, but you are STARVING, when it’s time to eat you may just start thinking with your stomach. If you need to pack some nuts or some fruit to have on hand, do so!

6. Drink a ton of water. It will keep you full and hydrated. It will give you something to do if you feel awkward about not doing the continual munch on snacks and alcohol. Alcohol in moderation, but alternating with water will keep you from going into full “stuff your face” mode.

7. Start with the vegetable. Fill half of your plate with these so at least you’re filling up first on the good stuff. Then think protein… choose LIGHT meat, not dark. Then there is only a little room left for the carbs 🙂 Choose wisely with your carb! Pick your one favorite and save room for a little dessert. If you’re having cranberry sauce, skip the gravy, and vice versa. You don’t have complete control over what’s offered, except what you put on your plate and how MUCH.

And finally, remember, if something is a priority, you do it. If you’re serious about sticking to your healthy habits over the next month and a half, make it happen. You may not always be the most popular person in the room, but don’t be afraid to be genuinely YOU and live the kind of life with the kind of choices you want.

Food is fun, but so is conversation, taking pictures, playing board games, going on a walk etc. FOCUS on time together more than just the food.

Have a wonderful time with loved ones! ENJOY and have fun!

Fall Workout Playlist

Fill your heart and mind with positive and uplifting lyrics AND get pumped up to workout. These are some of my current favorites! Subscribe to my Spotify Soul Strong Playlists and listen for free from your phone, tablet, or computer.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 10.12.07 AM

Challenge Group Enrollment

challenge group graphic

We are entering the time of year where unhealthy food, desserts, and candy are everywhere you turn! anyone anticipating needing a halloween candy detox?? looking to feel energized and vibrant going into Thanksgiving? We all need to reset occasionally to be sure food isn’t controlling us!

I would love to have your help to keep ME accountable during the holidays and I promise I’ll do the same for you! I’ll coach you through an awesome new at home fitness program so you’ll have ZERO excuses and give you the easiest tips to stay healthy and CRUSH those candy cravings!

Just because this time of the year is hard, doesn’t mean you give up and let your health crash and burn. You CAN take control and make improvements, no matter the season.

JOIN ME in my next accountability group. Deadline is Oct 22nd!! We will set goals, stick to a nutrition plan, eat nothing processed, workout, drink our superfoods, and encourage each other!

Click the application below or message me for details!
https://soulstrong.wufoo.com/forms/zy93w7z1b6h61q/

You Make Me Brave

This song by the group Bethel Music has been playing over and over in my heart lately, and it seemed like the right time to process and reflect. Take a quick listen.

“as your love in wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me, for you are for us, you are not against us…”

“So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore into your grace…”

The imagery in this song is one I experienced on a trip to Puerto Rico this past summer. My vacation was awesome with my family and husband, exploring old castles, zip-lining, going to different beaches, enjoying meals and games together.

However, one of the most memorable times of the trip was taking a catamaran to an island off the coast about 45 minutes. 45 minutes of (what we did not know would be) a super bumpy ride, crashing into wave after wave, jerking around those on the boat.

Multiple times each person in my family thought they were going to lose it. How much longer? How much more could we take before we all ended up like the kid in the front of the boat throwing up?

In an effort to get through the “storm”, my brother and I started singing songs that had the words “wave” or “ocean” in them, which I originally thought was fun distraction. We kept singing the song I posted above, over and over. I let my mind picture the water from the crashing ocean slowly washing over me, like the way God lavishes his Love on us in the midst of the waves of life.

I tried to let it all sink in.

It is in the deep, when we are being tossed about, that we often realize we need Him MOST.

And in life, just like on that catamaran, sometimes we are holding steady. The road is bumpy, but maybe we’re distracted or focused on not getting totally rocked. But then other times, we are so down and desperate, we feel like getting sick because we’re so tired of the “waves”. But then someone comes into our waves and goes through it with us until we find peace again, just like my brother and I did singing for each other.

So we finally arrived to a glowing white sandy beach with clear waters and clear skies, completely isolated. It was breathtaking. It was paradise! Looking back on the boat ride, I couldn’t see the clouds of fear, I saw the sunshine. I remembered how difficult it was, but I also remembered how we got through it–WITH each other, focusing on God’s strength and the words of the song to keep us focused.

The destination was worth it all.

_____________

This year my husband and I faced a storm no one ever wants to go through. We lost our first child to miscarriage. I ache just typing that.

I don’t share this because I want to, I share it to perhaps offer a small glimmer of hope or comfort for someone out there who may have gone through something similar.

This song that we sang on the boat captures a piece of the journey I’ve been on this past summer, and calls to mind all the ways that He makes me brave.

Brave to get up each day and face the world with that tiny void and pain in my heart that was our baby.

Brave to trust that He is my sole comforter and His providence reigns.

Brave to trust that He is faithful when I don’t understand why, and to put my hope in the Lord’s promises.

Brave to know when my eyes well up in complete overwhelming sorrow, I still carry our child in my heart and in my prayers.

Brave to allow myself time to grieve.

Brave to minister to those who are going through something similar.

Brave to forgive others when they don’t seem to understand.

Brave to allow His grace to hold me when I can’t stand.

Brave to know the pain I feel is a reflection of how deeply we loved.

He makes me brave to recognize that I am not responsible for the life we lost.

He makes me brave to look to Him as the example of suffering in love and drawing near to Him in my own suffering. He knows our pain.

He makes me brave to think about what Mary must have felt losing her only son Jesus; What Sarah and Hannah must have felt like in their years of infertility.

And I pray He makes me brave to look back on this trying time and remember the joy we felt when God decided to entrust us with a child.

With all the topics out there being discussed, society is relatively silent about miscarriage. Miscarriage is common, affecting at least 1/5 of pregnancies, and yet there are still many misconceptions or misunderstandings. October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. Today, with this post, I want to pause, draw attention to, and pray for all those mothers who have experienced any kind of loss. I want to acknowledge your child.

There are plenty of women out there who suffer through it alone. It can be very hard to talk about and hard to share. When it happens so frequently but isn’t acknowledged, it can cause the woman to feel shame, as if it was her fault. In this secret loss, she may feel implicit pressure to “move on” without actually processing and properly dealing with the hurt in order to heal.

A miscarried child is not a “piece of tissue”, but a wanted and loved child of God knit together for a purpose. It’s hard to convey to others just how special and important that family member is when he or she seems to dart so quickly in and out of your life; but nonetheless, it is the loss of a family member, just like any other.

We should celebrate the lives of those in the womb, not pretend they were never there. We should celebrate the gift of participating with God in His creative nature and offer ourselves to nurture and cherish a vulnerable soul, even if God calls our child home. And, we should still celebrate mothers who birthed their children into heaven, instead of on earth.

This was not my plan, but God uses what can tear us apart inside to ultimately work for our good. I can have hope that God’s timing is perfect. His knowledge is more perfect than mine. His will is more pure than mine.

If you’ve experienced a similar type loss, please know there are people who want to support you. Even if others don’t understand what you’re going through, don’t know what to say, or can’t grasp the gravity of your pain, there is first and foremost a God who wants to walk with you through that. I hope this song reminds you that the Lord is FOR you and not against you.

And secondly, there are other women who can identify with you and grasp the myriad of emotions, as they’ve been through it too. They are living testaments that somehow, someway, there is a bigger plan. Their guidance and understanding was pivotal in my experience. Feel free to message me if you’d like to connect with a group like this. This book might be a good place to start as well.

I miss our baby everyday. And I strive to live out that call to motherhood by taking care of those around me. Although I am not in control of my future, I do know we will be reunited with our precious little one at the Heavenly banquet one day. We have been through the storm and know God’s blessings can come through the waves and the rain. I look forward to one day being united fully with my entire family in the true paradise.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

 

How to Travel with Your Meal Plan

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 9.14.47 AM

My Fall in Love with Fitness Accountability group is in full swing this week! These ladies are battling for time to take care of kids and ill family members, fighting sickness, waking up earlier to workout, preparing their meals in advance, avoiding their favorite candy and sodas, AND trying to stay healthy while traveling.

Life has a way of throwing a lot of curve balls in our direction, just when we are trying to focus on a new goal or mission! I’m so proud of these ladies for working so hard to achieve their goals, no matter rain or shine. Some days, they’re on point, and some days they fall down. What’s most important is that they don’t give up.

Though all of these obstacles are hard, I find traveling one of most difficult because it completely breaks your routine away from home, and often, time and food are a little more out of your control and you’re left with very few good options.

When I was traveling as Miss Virginia roughly 20 hours a week and trying to prepare for Miss America, I tried to put a lot of systems in place to keep me on track. When your job or family or schedule demands a lot of you, it’s important to be fueled well to have the energy to accomplish everything you need to! The first thing I realized is that traveling alone is boring, and made me want to eat for the entire trip. I tried to plan ahead as much as possible to avoid making a drastic decision to pull over at the nearest Wendy’s and inhale a frosty. Having good distractions like motivating podcasts, MP3 talks, a funky music playlist, or a phone call to a friend, helped to keep my mind happy and focused.

Planning ahead at least helps you have your mind made up in advance so when you’re attending that fancy work event and they pass around the giant pieces of chocolate fudge cake… your mouth waters, but you feel comfortable declining because you know it— A. has no nutritional value B. it will only take you further away from your goals.

–>The first thing I did was commit to only drink water. It will help keep you alert and full. You may stop a few more times to use the restroom, but at least your skin will be glowing when you arrive! Keep your water bottle with you at all times, or sometimes I’d have several full bottles so I wouldn’t have to stop to buy one or refill it.

–>This might be an obvious one, but packing snacks! Lara Bars are easy to transport and they just dates and a different kind of nut (which 21 Day Fix peeps can count as a purple and a blue.) Quest Bars aren’t technically totally “clean eating”, but they’re one of the cleanest protein type bars on the market. These kept me super full in between meals on the road, and are very low sugar and high fiber. Little baggies of almonds, turkey jerky, or an apple are also options that don’t need to be kept chilled.

–>Because I never knew what kind of options for meals I’d have wherever I was staying, I packed a couple meals, like chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes in a huge lunch box if possible. Most hotels have microwaves… I once stopped at a truck stop to heat up my food on a long trip 🙂 This saves so much money in the long run too! When I won Miss VA, a friend mailed me one of the best gifts: one of these huge 6 pack food prep carriers. It kept my boiled eggs, fruit, and full meals cool in the car in your specified containers. If you travel a lot, and you’re really serious about knowing exactly what you’re consuming, it may be a good investment!

–>If I needed to stop at a quick restaurant on my way somewhere, I’d keep my eyes peeled for a Chickfila. Usually, I would pick up grilled chicken nuggets, side fruit cup, and a yogurt, or chicken soup if I just was looking for a snack. Their chargrilled garden salad is also a good option for a healthy lunch! Panera is my second favorite option. The Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey is to die for, and the Fuji Chicken Salad is delicious as well. Dressing always on the side or ask for simple olive oil on top. Subway was third option because you can at least get a spinach salad and pick tons of veggies to load on top!

–>If you can’t control what you’re eating because someone else if providing the food, I try to just eat whatever meat or veggie they have (as long as it’s not fried) and eye ball the proper portion. As long as I don’t eat after around 8pm, I feel fine about eating what is provided. It’s important to be a respectful guest! Plus, a cheat or two won’t hurt you, so don’t stress! Take the opportunity to truly enjoy what is provided, but don’t feel obligated to eat every last bite. You’ll get back on track at the next opportunity. 🙂

–> It may also be helpful while you’re out of town to secretly TRACK! Try out MyFitnessPal, or the 21 Day Fit Tracker apps to be mindful of your target. It will also help you recognize if you went all day without any vegetables or fruit, or haven’t had enough protein. Maybe you imagine eating that giant pasta bowl is no big deal, until you look it up and realize it’s equal to your daily calorie allotment.

  • It of course depends on how serious you are about your goals and what you personally feel like you can withstand from temptations. If you know one cheat meal won’t send you on a downward spiral, go for it! I think that’s perfectly reasonable! You never want to end up feeling like your nutrition is super restricting. It should be empowering to feed your body with foods that actually make you feel good.
    When you travel, try to see it as yet another opportunity to search out the best for you, even it it means going the extra mile sometimes or asking the waiter to make some menu swaps for you. You deserve that.

Weighin’ in

In my adult life, my body has mostly fluctuated on a 20 pound spectrum.

I’ve been an unhealthy, trapped 125. I’ve been a muscular 130 and a junk food, food-dependent 135. I’ve been a tired and empty 115, and I’ve been a thriving (more) balanced and free 120.

And I honestly don’t know how much I currently weigh. That’s not because I don’t think it can be a valuable measurement when someone needs to get into a heathy range or has a particular role in helping you gain information to access where you are on your fitness journey. It’s because I know for me personally, it doesn’t dictate my health anymore; my mindset and habits do.

I may not have had an extreme weight loss success story, but it’s often what that weight loss represents that makes the biggest difference. It’s the way you feel and how you’re now capable of living your life and your dreams more fully. THAT is why people want to lose weight most of the time, and those same victories and changes are possible at a variety of weights.

Every person at every weight has challenges to overcome obstacles, shut out negativity, avoid temptations, develop mindful eating habits, find the appropriate amount to treat his or herself, make time to sweat, and make peace with their body.

When people comment that I work out way too much or am hyper-focused on what I eat, it’s pretty much the exact opposite! I am joyful that I’ve been given an opportunity to choose things that heal rather than hurt me, and don’t want to take my health for granted.
I have had an external transformation to become stronger, more consistent and more energetic; but even more so, I’ve had an internal transformation…
-stronger will & discipline
-VEGETABLE lover. what? how did that happen?!
-feel stronger and like I’m not settling in multiple areas of my life
-have learned how to cook healthy meals
-deeper sleep & less stress
-confident in my body, dwelling less on appearance
-not as controlled by my emotions with cravings
-free from my sugar addiction! this one is huge.
-gained productivity and clarity from exercise to apply to my job
It has taken years to get to this point! And I know I’m still a work in progress and will have even more valleys on this road. The goal is to never stop giving up on learning, growing, and trying because your body deserves to be treated like the gift that it is. Transformation is happening every time we choose well, whether the scale moves today or not.
Today, don’t forget to celebrate those NON-SCALE victories! Your worth is more than a number. The internal transformation is always what guides the external.
Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 9.17.40 AM