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Thursday, October 3, 2013

results are in

Congrats Team. You did it! 24 days of challenging yourself to change your habits in the way you cared for yourself...and along the way I hope you found out by caring for yourself better, that you can better care for others too. So everyone is asking...how do you feel? So lets answer them!

I personally, feel pretty good. I went into this with the main goal to gain more energy, feel alert and awake. Be strong all day to tackle what chasing four kids all day takes. And I can truly, most honestly say...I feel great. I really do sleep better, I really do have a more sustainable energy all day. I really still am in the tired days of little years with these kids, but my stamina is much stronger then it was. I love feeling good. I am energized to go about my day not so worn down, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And the bonus? I lost 3 pounds, lost 3 1/2 inches off my waist line, lost 1 1/2 in off my hips, lost 1 inch off my legs, arms stayed the same, and lost 2 inches from my chest line. Not bad for 24 days!

Not only do I feel good and lost a few inches, but I learned so much too. Some of my high-lights and lessons along the way...

1.) 24 days is longer then you think. Better to look at it one week at a time or you might fall off the challenge bus before it gets to the end. Also, if you aren't willing to follow the nutrition plan recommended as well as take your Advocare products properly, you will probably fall off the challenge bus before day 24 too.

2.) Body cleansing is awesome! I have wanted to do a cleanse for a few years, but have had so many excuses not to. Including not wanting to spend money on myself to "feel better".  I loved this part by day 10. It made my body feel so much lighter, cleaner, alert. My husband and I did this part together and I loved that too...for many reasons. Totally worth it for us.

3.) Food is so much more then food to so many people. When it comes to food and bodies, everyone has a story to go with this theme. Maybe my favorite part of this journey with the team...tackling what food is for us and grasping what God intended food to be. Much, much to be learned here.

4.) Eating healthy does not have to be boring. But it does take practice to get the hang of it and be creative with it. And 24 days will definitely help a person get a new set of habits lined up to keep nurturing as you go forward.

5.) I would HIGHLY recommend doing this challenge with at least a partner, if not a team. Lots, lots, lots of questions, ideas, encouraging, brain-storming and so on goes on... I think if you have never done a challenge and are thinking about it, I would strongly encourage you to get a partner at least. There is a lot that happens here and it was so helpful to have a group I could turn to with questions or ideas or thoughts as we walked through it together. And I think some people will just succeed better with a group around them.

6.) Being careful of what you consume isn't only for our stomachs. Our hearts are worn down too, often times by what we let fill it. When we start to care for our bodies, our hearts need good nourishment too. And there is truth in physically, emotionally, and spiritually feeling better as one whole package.  Again, so much learned here.

7.) I was totally a Spark fan before this challenge. I now can confidently say I fell in love with a few other products that have really helped me take care of myself. I love the Core-plex w/ Iron multi-vitamin (like a good prenatal for me while breastfeeding), the Omega-plex vitamin with amino acids (I never eat fish so this is a great option for me), the Probiotic Ultra (to help with maintaining the good bacteria in the intestines), and last but not least...catalyst. I didn't start taking catalyst until half way through the challenge and then I saw a big change in my over-all inches slipping away and my afternoon sluggish time disappearing. I've been so happy with these Advocare products!

8.) Counting my gifts as I make what I eat count helps my heart stay focused. Knowing what matters, who matters, and that now matters as does 10 years from now...what I do now really is impacting not only how I live today, but days from now too. And I want to fully be present to see these 4 kids launch someday and know I've done my part to care for the body God has given me to use for His glory.

9.) I'm not gonna lie...I am totally getting a chocolate cheesecake blizzard from Dairy Quenn today. Just a little victory treat for me :)

So any challengers that want to share...now is your chance! Leave a comment, let us cheer for you, and I'm so proud of each of you!! Whether you made big changes or little changes...you started some where...24 days really can build new habits. Take it from here, team!

Also- Stay Tuned for a Surprise Give-Away and Future Challenge Opportunities!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

closing time

The challenge is coming to an end. But with every ending is a new beginning and I hope that this is just the start of something new for you. While you gave yourself 24 days to be challenged in how you ate, what you drank, how you cared for yourself… my hope is you will give yourself a lifetime of providing your body with the nutrients it needs to sustain itself and to flourish.  24 days will get you started in the right direction, but it is the days after that will define how you really want to care for yourself. 

What will keep you going…?

If you enter this next phase with the expectations that you will never have cravings for junk food again or you will always have a bundle of energy to use or you will always fit into those skinny jeans or you will always have a healthy food option in front of you…you will fail at going pass 24 days and staying healthy. You have to live. You have to be flexible. You have to know your goal for over-all health and live from there.  You have to make the small changes where they can happen and know the small steps to living better will make a big beautiful journey towards better living.

In our culture we face each day with the pressure to go big or go home. But as years pass for me and I grow older, I am seeing more and more that small…simple…slow…is where the biggest steps in life happen. Embrace what doing little things for yourself can do to give you a life that is so very full… full of living well. Eventually you will realize that by staying with the little things, you have created a bigger way to live. And it is so very good.

So take that journal out that I hope you still have. And today, as closing time is almost here, write down the little things that are making a big impact on your life as you strive for healthier living. What are you doing that feeds your body so well? What are you doing that feeds your soul so well? Write these down and start here when day 25 arrives.  Don’t feel like this has to end, when this could be the start of something very wonderfully new.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fast life, Slow Cooker

Part of the challenge to eating better is the challenge all of it's own...making time to prepare good meals in a fast paced world. I get it, there isn't much time for some folks to be in the kitchen. But there is a lot of value in taking even 10 minutes at the start to each week to plan even a few days out. If you aren't in the habit yet of doing this, I encourage you this weekend to sit down, write down a few meals, make your grocery list, and get your stuff before Monday rolls around. Stock up just like you did before the challenge started and know that a little planning can get you out of the kitchen during the week much easier then getting you out of the habit of eating well.

Having good meals doesn't mean spending all day in the kitchen to present the family or yourself with a gourmet meal. While having gourmet is not a bad thing, it is not necessary! Practical, realistic, family friendly meals is our goal here! Especially for our on the go challengers and families.

If you have forgotten about this little must-have...dust it off and pull it out to sit on your counters. This just might be your meal planning for a bit! And who doesn't love coming home to a house that smells yummy and ready for dinner!?

A few easy Crock-Pot Meals for any night of the week!

1.) 3-4 fresh chicken breasts (or bag of frozen chicken breasts), finely cut up fresh pineapple, 1/2 jar of BBQ sauce (Hy-Vee has a no-sugar added kind). Put in crock-pot all day on low. Serve over brown rice! Add some broccoli for a side.

2.) 3-4 chicken breasts, Italian dressing, Sweet potatoes, carrots. Put this in your crock-pot on low 6-8 hours.

3.) Ribeye steaks (or lean beef cuts), fresh mushrooms, brown gravy packet, 1 Cup water. Cook on low 66-8 hours. serve over brown rice or whole wheat noodles. Fresh green beans taste yummy with this!

Have another easy crock-pot recipe to share? Leave it in the comment box!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

feeling hungry?

It's snack time and I'm hungry. Browsing through my kitchen I look for something good, but really all I want is something GOOD. You know, like a bowl of ice-cream with bananas cut up on it or a big bowl of buttery popcorn or a bag of tortilla chips with some fresh guacamole...prepared with the extra stuff! I used to indulge in the good tasting stuff and I found that temporary craving was usually only satisfied for a short time and I usually found myself hungry once again.

I see a similar cycle in the way I feed my soul's hunger. I avoid anything good and natural and bite into the things that only bring me temporary fullness. And fullness of life can not be sustained through heavy servings of empty calories. From the very beginning, we were temped by the evil fruits. Even with a garden full of natural and whole choices made just for us, we chose what we weren't supposed to have. It looked better, it tasted better, we thought it would be better. Our eyes can lead us astray. Our stomachs can trick us into being hungry for something we don't need. But here is the thing... what may look appealing to our eyes and may even fill our hunger spots for a short while, will never fully fill us. You can not build a full life on empty foods.

How do we feel full? We eat from the good trees. We choose the good fruits that have been made to really sustain our bodies. We feed our souls with His words, His love, His grace. We stop and really look at what we are choosing to consume instead of grabbing the easy and empty things. And we trust that we can be fed through the simple and the basic and the clean fruits of His labor. And that maybe, just maybe, He knows the way to our heart as well as satisfying our hunger.

Do you want to lose that hungry feeling? Keep eating well. Choose good and filling over bad and empty. Like anything good, we must cast away our natural desires to crave what is not made for our bodies or our hearts. Fill yourself with good things and His words. Take time to find a healthy snack and time with Him. Let Him feed you, really feed you and then believe that what He has given you can heal your hunger pains.

So next time you are hungry remember this..."I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Believe that He can feed you...and will feed you. Believe that you can be fed well and live a full life! And at that next snack time, choose what may not look the most tasty, but will really help you get what you actually need to live fully right where you are.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

change it up

"I can not eat more raw veggies". I have heard this from a few challengers :) I get it, new foods or same foods over and over get...well, boring. Cleaner and healthier eating doesn't have to taste bland or be boring or something to never look forward to. Get creative in the kitchen! Try stuff and be willing to let your body find it's new cravings and enjoyment when it comes to filling both your hunger and satisfaction. It's hard to feel full when you didn't enjoy what you just ate.

A tasty option to getting your fresh veggies in is sauteing. Instead of cold veggies, try heating them up. Get acquainted with olive oil or coconut oil and just start mixing it up. Literally. One of my most favorite dishes is garden veggies cooked on my stove top.

Here's a few hints... during the week you've maybe made some side veggies... broccoli with dinner one night, carrots with lunch one day, beans for taco salads, brown rice or quinoa as a side one night... all these little things can make up a yummy meal together! When you cook or use that stuff during the week, don't throw out those little left-overs. Tuck them away in your fridge and just add a few slices of, well, anything... squash, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, shredded left-over chicken, snow peas... get the idea? You can't mess this up! And seriously, one squash can go a long way. This time of year you drive by many fresh veggies sitting at the edge of town people's yards with a free sign. Most gardeners have more than they can consume and gladly give away their extras. Don't be afraid to stop and grab one or two of what they have. It can go a long way in your meal prepping! And don't forget your local Farmer's Market is a gem of a place to stock up on a few different things.

Simply use 1-2 Tbsp of olive or coconut oil. Let it warm up in a stick free skillet. Add your more dense veggies first (squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots type). After a few minutes throw in your softer veggies (snow peas, tomatoes, black beans for example). Then finally add some precooked brown rice, precooked quinoa, or left-over chicken pieces if you want. I like to throw in some pine nuts or almond slices sometimes too. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning and you've got a tasty hot meal loaded with your raw veggies! Need some carbs? Fill a whole wheat wrap, roll it up, and enjoy!

Part of changing habits is changing the way we look at food. It will feel like extra work at first. But this will become your new norm and eventually you will be heating up the skillet to make lunch just as easy as you were throwing a processed pre-made frozen meal in the microwave. Go ahead, change it up. Remember, new habits is leading to a new you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

are you changing?

At Day 15 of our challenge  most of us can feel it... change. It probably looks different for all of us, but we each are in a season of changing. And so it goes with change...do we open our hands and take hold of what could be around the corner... or do we close our fists and turn away from what is happening? Opening our hands means we might hurt a bit, closing our eyes to change means we might hurt a bit. Either way, it is going to be hard... to stay in the place we started and not let ourselves be what we could be... or earn some stretch marks but leave the scars only for a better way of being. A better way of living.

Change. Have you been embracing it? Are you suffering through it? Can you feel a change happening? Have you set yourself up to fail by putting ridiculous rules around your new habits? Or have you poured yourself grace along the way and given yourself some new tools to make these new new habits a living reality for your days ahead? At Day 15 I think it safe to say that it is time to start thinking about day 25. You know, that day after 24 when all this challenge stuff will be done and this team will be done and you will be on your own. But with Him. And with your own team of people. Have you decided what you and He and them could do together? What you could be together?

Changing for the better. That has been our hope for all of us. And I am looking ahead wanting to take what I am learning now and making it the way I do these years better... Better, cleaner eating...honoring what He has blessed me with. Better caring for my body...more grace for just being who God made me to be... seeing, thanking, repeating... passing it on. Loving more, judging less...including myself.

Day 24 is coming up. What will your Day 25 look like?

Friday, September 20, 2013

keep running

The biggest challenges in life are not the ones that we come out the other side carrying a big trophy for all to see our accomplishments. Like a race with rows lined up with cheering people and a winner's tape to be broken as we cross the finish of yet another treacherous run in life. The biggest challenges are the ones we sweat through often times by ourselves...and they happen on the inside, where nobody can really see. Just us. And Him. And we run the race of our lives...alone. There may be a spectator or two or three or five along the way, cheering us on...but mostly we must go on by ourselves. The really cool thing though about running alone is that we often times run into others along the way. Others who are running the same path, different paces but on the same road. And you don't know where they came from for they were not there when you started, but they are here now. They run a lot like you.

There is victory in running alone. Because when you are alone you have to find Him to see the finish line. To finish well. You may lean on others as you stumble and fall...or stop all together. But they can not carry you across the finish line. They can only help you dust yourself off and point you in the right direction again. Choosing to run...by yourself...is the only way you can learn your pace, your rhythm, your song to run to. You will look different and sweat different and stumble different and soar different. From everybody else. So congrats, challengers, on choosing to do this alone. Choosing is the first step to trying. And you never know if you never try.

But running alone here doesn't mean nobody else is on the coarse. So find your team. Not just us who are challenging right along side you, but your very own team. The ones who know you are in the race. The ones who show up on the sides to cheer you on. The ones who come onto the road sometimes to pick you up, sweaty and broken and fallen...and point you to the finish again. Because every hard race will be just that...hard. But anything worth running towards will never feel like a walk in the park. So keep running, even if you've tripped and fallen...keep running. Let your side line people know where you are...let them help you...let them cheer for you. And keep your eyes fixed on Him as you run a new race.... a race that will let you finish not carrying the shiniest trophy, but wearing a different heart...and going back to help others come to the finish too.

Look ahead... how do you want to walk away from the finish line? Day 24. It's not far away. Keep running, keep leaning, keep looking for Him. Keep helping along the way. You just might walk away with the best prize you've ever earned... a brand new way to live for you. And what's a shiney trophy that just collects dust when you can wear a new heart for people to see every day for the rest of your life?