Sunday, May 26, 2013

MOVE: Disillusion to Certainty

 Tonight I can't shake this undeniable burden for those who are disillusioned.  What I mean is, I've been really burdened for those people who are in the in-between. The only thing harder than change is waiting for it. Knowing and hoping that there is something new around the corner, but not knowing what. It's not just that you don't know what the change is, it's that you don't know when it will start or what it will look like. What about it will be wonderful and what about it will be painful? What will feel right and what will take some time to get used to? And the scariest question of all, What if I miss it? What if that change is staring me right in the face and waiting for me to make a move and I just...miss it? 
This series is titled MOVE and not switch, or flip, or change. It's called move because I think that is what all of us are really facing. Life is constantly moving us and sometimes we are moving it. Anyone who has known Christ long enough has known the constant movement and the ups and downs that change us forever.
I wish this post was something more concrete. I wish that for those of you who are waiting and hoping and ready, but not yet sure that I could somehow give you the next step. But I will promise you something far greater. I promise you with my whole heart, that I'm praying for you. I know all too well how difficult the road unplanned can be to travel. I remember begging God for some certainty. For anything that was sure and steady and real and unshakable. But He is that for you. When the next step is vague at best, know that you always have a steady trustworthy foundation. Don't let anything or anyone make you forget it. Not everything is muddled up. Jesus will never be disillusioned about your life. Take heart loved one. Take heart and have faith.

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Thursday, May 23, 2013

MOVE: Normal to Healthful Part 2

In part one of this post, I shared with you the spiritual and emotional aspect of changing from a normal lifestyle to a healthful one. I should pause here and give some explanation to "normal" and my use of the word "healthful." My eating habits have never been just belligerently bad.  I've never driven through any given drive thru and ordered multiples of what was intended as a full meal, I've never drank my way through a full pack of anything, I've never made myself sick from over eating. All that to say...I have been a true normal American with a diet of cheese (my favorite), red meat (my favorite), and (my favorite) lots o' carbs. None of these things by themselves is inherently evil...but these with virtually no fruits, veggies, or other forms of protein...not good. In our culture, it is really normal to eat massive portion sizes and to disregard the health benefits of food and only think about how much we like the taste. Nothing about this approach to food is fueling; everything about it is normal.  I wish I had the ability to whip up a really informative and yet super cool looking pie graph and plate diagram illustration type thingy...but I'm a writer, so I'll stick with my words. 

I love the use of the word "healthful" to describe our lifestyle (also, take note that I am talking about a lifestyle and not a diet). Healthful is such a positive word that means beneficial to health, body and/or mind. Being healthy is not depleting, it's replenishing. I LOVE that one of the synonyms for the word "healthful" is the word "restorative." Restorative. What a great word. Most of us want restoration, yes? But most of us don't know where to start. I'm by no means a nutrionist, a dietician, a doctor, or a personal trainer....I'm just a person who changed the decisions I made, and I feel way better for it. So the deal with this post is that I tell you what I did and how/why it helped me. Maybe you try it and maybe you don't. My hope is that either way this post is restorative for your body and soul and you leave feeling energized. 

As much as I'm not going to push my personal eating habits on you, I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize the conviction I have about pursing health. I want to be very clear (especially as someone who has known the struggle of body image issues) that this conviction is not about weight or looking good. I realize that some will take the challenge to fitness and health more seriously than others. I realize that for some of us it’s even a fun thing. Some people love challenging themselves to train harder, run faster, and grow stronger and some people want to be healthful purely as the means to an end for an energy filled, full, God glorifying life. Everyone has different goals; you don’t have to go crazy if that isn’t your thing. Addressing the urgency of health is a tricky thing because it’s not as simple as “if you aren’t healthy you’re a glutton.” With that being said, I think I can simply say that deep down you know whether you are sinning in a gluttonous lifestyle. I know that looking back I have definitely gone through some phases of gluttony and I was always aware of it at some level and chose to ignore it. If you are under the impression that maintaining good health is are mistaken.  I'm even going to say something that won't be popular and that you don't hear often. If we disregard the seriousness of our gluttony, we are disregarding the seriousness of our sin. 

Well….so much for keeping the spiritual aspect in part 1. I can’t help myself I just believe the two are utterly connected at the core.

Five things I did and one question that made healthful living not suck
1. Trading
2. Worth it list
3. Have a good supply of food
4. Special occasions 
5. Doing it together

*Am I fully grasping the honor it is to live and walk as one that has been given the image of my Lord?

Trading: Make trades, not sacrifices. If you have the mind set that you are getting nothing in return then you won’t enjoy your health. Did I stop eating my chicken fried, my bread white, and my soda non-diet? Sure. Did I stop with my beloved late night sweets? Of course. Am I missing out on anything? Not really. I've eaten better food (and by that I mean yummier), enjoyed cooking, and gotten outside the box more in the last two months than I think I have in my entire life. I'm still eating such great delicious food. It's just driven by lean protein, herbs/spices, and vegetables. I'm eating real food, and I'm eating it like a real adult. If you love french fries, make roasted sweet potatoes. If you love mexican food, replace queso with fresh salsa...being healthy doesn't have to taste like cardboard. 

Worth-it List: Pretty self explanatory, but I will elaborate on it anyway. The worth-it list is (my husband’s idea) a small list of foods that you love so much and get to frequent so rarely, that it is truly worth the extra calories when the opportunity arises. I'll give you some examples of my worth-it list (and simultaneously share all my favorite Texan cuisine): Uncle Julio's, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whataburger breakfast taquitos, Fred's Texas Cafe, Tillman's Roadhouse chicken fried steak, Babe's Chicken, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Wing Stop original hot wings, Esperanza's migas, Chuy's deluxe chicken enchiladas, and Ellerbee. I know that seems like a lot for one list, but you have to keep in mind that the closest of these places is an hour and half away, and most of them are much much further.

Have a good supply of food: Don't hold back when it comes to stocking your fridge and pantry! Hunger is the biggest enemy to healthy eating. What I mean is that if you don't have healthy options available, then when dinnertime comes it is so much easier to grab drive thru. I try to make sure I have ingredients for about 4-5 meals a week and then eat leftovers on the other nights. I also make sure to have plenty of options for healthy snacks. Some of our household favorites are hummus and veggies, whole wheat tortilla and salsa (great for pre or post work out), raw almonds, Pirate Booty (it’s so good and feeds my chip craving, plus the serving size is plentiful!), fruit, and apples with peanut butter (sub almond butter for a leaner option). For those of you looking for some healthy meal recipes that you can trust (Pinterest is great, but it comes with no gurantees. Can I get an amen?) be watching for the “Healthful” page that will soon be added to this blog.

Special Occasions: If you are getting married, having a baby, celebrating a birthday, or having a party to commemorate a holiday—I’m gonna eat ya grub! But the key is keeping small serving sizes and if there are healthy options stock up on that first and then treat yourself by splitting dessert or having a tiny portion of queso cheese dip. Don’t be that guy who is a stick in the mud and won’t have a piece of wedding cake. Nobody likes that guy. What ever you do, absolutely do not graze! I think we all know that hanging right by the queso and chips is a bad thing for those of us who might be extremely addicted to said heavenly cheese amazingness.

Doing It Together: Not everyone has the luxury of jumping into a healthy lifestyle change with a partner. If you have a friend, family member, or significant other that will be strong with you…it does help. Until these choices are a habit for you it is an adjustment. You can help each other choose healthy alternatives, and you can also cheer each other on and go to celebrate goals achieved with frozen yogurt (instead of ice cream).

So those are the things that softened the blow as far as making changes. Here are some of the changes that I made…

Carbs- whole wheat only, drastically cut the amount I was eating and try to limit the carbs to days that I work out. (carbs for work out= fuel, carbs sitting on idle = sugar = fat)

Serving sizes- make sure that you are reading the nurtional facts of what you eat. Even healthy foods can be fattening if you eat too much of them. Check the serving size and try to stick to it. (having a small kitchen scale is helpful)

Lean meats and veggies- center most meals around this model.

Coconut oil cooking spray- instead of butter and oil I use this. I still use extra virgin olive oil when needed.

No more pasta!- for Austin it's just not “worth it” for me it is just too tempting to go nuts. In place of pasta we do spaghetti squash and I love it!

Experimenting- fruits and vegetables bring great flavor as well as herbs and spices. You don’t have to rely on butter, cheese, and sugar to make food taste great. You might have to relearn how to cook, but I have found it's actually pretty fun. And I found some foods that I actually really love (like sweet potatoes and bell peppers) that I thought I didn’t really care for in the past.

Cravings- accept the reality that every meal you eat will not satisfy your every craving. And now that I think about it, since cutting out fried and fatty foods (for the most part) I rarely find myself craving them.

Set goals- you decide. For me, it was a certain amount of weight and some specific and reachable work out goals.

I will periodically be posting recipes or tips on the healthful page. I hope you feel encouraged and maybe a little more equipped to be healthful! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

MOVE: From Normal to Healthful

This has taken me longer than usual to write because I want to be sure that I balance both sides of this just right. I want to share my testimony about chains that have been broken, but it is very important to me to share the physical tools and choices that have changed my lifestyle. The best way I can put it is this: The biggest transition in this area of my life is not what workouts I do or what I eat, the most important transition has been the transition of my purpose. I'm so pumped about this particular post! If you have followed my blog for any length of time you probably know I've been painstakingly transparent about self-image issues that I've wrestled with ever since I started popping kids out (and yes having three kids in three years does give me the right to make jokes). I'm so so happy, gleeful, content, thankful, at peace, and excited to share that I'm free! I'm not writing to you from my own personal prison cell! I used to view my body as a necessity to deal with and make as skinny, pretty, cute, and attractive as possible. The purpose for my physical body used to be equivalent (in my mind) to the way I looked. Now I live in the truth that the purpose for my body is to glorify Christ both with the way that I use my body and in the way I treat my body.
        Almost exactly a year ago, my husband started taking some pretty drastic measures to change habits in his life to start a more healthful lifestyle. I was able to somewhat join him while I was pregnant, and since having Fletcher I have had so much fun diving in alongside him. I'm so thankful that I'm married to the kind of man who will lead by example and patiently wait for me to follow him. The changes we made in our lifestyle were of course to lose a little weight, but mainly to get our bodies working for us instead of in spite of us. I truly believe that God led our hearts and our desires to honor Him with our physical bodies and a beautiful by-product of that was freedom from endless self-centered thoughts about how I looked in the eyes of the world. I'm so excited about this post because I want everyone to know the excitement and freedom that comes with healthful living. 

I know that when people hear that "eating healthy" most of the time that usually translates into "nutty-drastic-no-fun-diet." I know until recently I used to think that way. I used to think that giving up certain foods would be all about sacrifice and missing out and a bunch of rules, and just feel like a huge punishment. But the reality is that yes, I have had to make myself say no to late night sweets and potato chips, but it has never felt like a punishment. It feels like freedom. Freedom in enjoying what I eat and how great it makes me feel and fuels me to face the day. Freedom from worrying about how clothes will fit or what I look like. Freedom from many things; but mostly freedom from myself. I’ve really come to believe that for the believer a healthful lifestyle paired with the desire to glorify God produces a selflessness which is totally countercultural to the narcissism we have come to accept among the health and fitness community. And I would dare to say it's something that every believer is called to.

I will be sharing the pratical things that altered our lifestyle in Part 2 of this post. For now, I’ll just leave you with this thought that has shaken my perspective. I know the God that I worship and adore chose to give me His image when He created me. When I stand before Him will I be a faithful servant who has made much of the Master’s most valued creation or will I have nothing to show but a run down cheapened version of what He intended?