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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?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Top 5 Why's

Top 5 Reasons Why I would do This Again!

Our cleanse phase is done and we are moving into our max phase...get strong time! I've learned a lot about myself, about nutrition stuff I didn't know before, and about my heart. So for today, my top five why's...

1.) Even though I ate fairly healthy before, I didn't eat properly. Too much of this, not enough of that sort of thing. This has helped me tremendously in the sustaining my own energy department. More protein, less yogurt for this girl.

2.) Snacks are important. Good snacks. My mid-morning sluggish time and my mid-afternoon sluggish time have been much better as I learned that eating every few hours is really good for my body to sustain good energy...and make my body use the nutrients properly to keep me alert and balanced. When we started this I never ate much for snacks. I now make sure I have a good solid snack twice a day. My blood-sugar level and my brain are thanking me for it!

3.) Eating better means sleeping better. That little to no sugar thing is awesome. And sugar sneaks in many places you wouldn't think!

4.) I clean up my kid's plates. Or I used to. A lot. I hate throwing food out, so as I clean up dishes I often would snack or graze off my kids plates.  Portion control is key and that means keeping to my plate and not cleaning up after my kids anymore!!

5.) It's how I feel that matters, not what size I wear. This cleansing has been a good reminder that I should honor my body the way it was made. I would rather feel strong in a healthy body that can do much, then a weak too small body that is too tired to finish a day. Skinny is not my goal, strong is.

What about you? Would you do this again?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

how do you measure?

We have finished our first full week of our 24 day challenge. You have finished 8 full days! The results are slowly starting to take shape. And yet I can't help but feel this tug on my heart that tells me that results aren't the only thing that I need to see or hear to make me feel like I have accomplished or won this challenge or even done it well.

Most of us have our own reason for committing to this challenge. Whether it be for more energy, more weight loss, inches lost, better health, a better nutrition plan, helping our cholesterol, or whatever your reason might be...we all arrived here from different channels. Yet, we each came to the start with a similar tune. That some where in all our wanting better, we feel like we haven't measured up. We don't have the energy we need or we don't have the pant size we think we need or we don't have the tools to know how to eat well or we don't exercise enough or we don't...and we don't... and so we don't. We think we don't measure up. And most days it is just easier to stay in that place. Because once we think we don't measure up, that doubting place loves to keep us down there. Doubting ourselves paralyzes us, when really...He wants you to be energized by the way you measure yourself.

Nobody else is made the way you are. Fearfully. Wonderfully. In all your shapes and styles and dancing. It's true. You can't look like or run like or be like anybody else. You can only be you. And being you means measuring yourself the way He does. Let grace lay on you today. And love from that place. Be from that place.

What if when you measured yourself today, after a full week of challenging yourself you saw this...

 ...instead of the numbers? 

Would you believe it? Would you let yourself be you today? Would you keep choosing the best for your body if you knew how very much He meant for you to live in that skin and do it well for Him? 

I know some of you are stepping on that scale every day. Plus working so hard to see it change. And if seeing it change brings you joy to be a better you, then keep that joy wrapped around you... but know that weighing yourself with Him will always look more like this...

Our bodies are the tools we've been blessed with to use. Use for Him. Use for our families. Use for our friends. Use for ourselves. We need to take care of our tools and this challenge is a change most of us have needed to help us do that in a better way then we have been. But this challenge isn't meant to tell you where you don't measure up...where you don't weigh in. Because no matter what, you are loved. You are you, there is no one who could be you better then you. Measure yourself, weight yourself...but know nobody but you and He are looking. And nobody else is standing on your scale. And what you see through His eyes is what matters. See today, really see. Count your gifts of grace, starting with you. And continue to challenge yourself to be a better version of yourself. Always. Because when you get out of that doubting place and that tired place and that can't keep up place and the I don't measure place...you just might see how very much you do measure up. And perhaps you will now have the measuring strip you need to see just where your numbers are. 

Embrace the changes coming with this challenge, but mostly embrace the change in your heart that is telling you that you are wonderful just being you today. Use that truth to keep being a better you tomorrow... and while you let yourself be measured and weighed in through His eyes, pay it forward to the next person who is also trying to figure out how to stretch that tape measure around all the way. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Do you know Kale?

Day 8 Challengers and no doubt you are starting to feel the challenge set in. After our first weekend, I think it is safe to say...weekends are hard. We knew it would be, as routines are different and staying within our habit of healthy eating choices would be pushed to the side some as we gathered with friends, family, and enjoyed nights out! But no reason to throw the towel in even if you indulged on that cupcake or had that beer during the football game. We are here to make it to 24 days of making new habits and one moment can't define all of your 24! So jump back on the horse today, friends...and gallop through your second week having learned a thing or two to make this week even better then the first! Habits take time. Habits take discipline. Habits take practice. Habits are worth you feeling better at the end of this. So stay with us! We got this!

I know some of you are getting braver in trying new things. So here is one of my favorite super-foods for you to explore with if you haven't yet!! Get some in your kitchen and try these ideas soon!!

Meet Kale...your new friend with benefits! This leafy green vegetable is known as "Queen of the Greens". And it has some serious health benefits! It is seriously one of the healthiest vegetable on the planet. And so easy to consume in different ways. My favorite is in smoothies, my kids love kale "chips".

I use it in a variety of ways though... 
 Kale is usually a green leafy, curly end type vegetable by the lettuces,, herbs, root vegetable, and other fresh items at your grocery store. Also a favorite down at the farmers market. I am spoiled and get it from my mother-in-law's organic garden. 

 You can easily chop kale up by cutting the middle stem out if you'd like...

Then simply add your chopped kale to any meat or veggies you are roasting or sauteing. It will cook down and you'll hardly even notice it. 

Other ways I use Kale:
1.) smoothies: blend it up well for extra nutrients in any smoothie

2.) Make chips! lay kale out on baking stone, lightly drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes

3.) Use kale in soups!

4.) chopped salads: blend with your other greens

5.) finely chop and use in any sauces (pizza, pasta, meatloaf)

6.) use it in your wraps or on a sandwich

7.) pasta's (when you cook your meat, add kale to it and it will cook right in)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

this for that

Day 7 Challengers! If you haven't already...leave a comment in yesterday's post for a chance to win some Advocare Slam! It is like a premixed Spark for on the go or right before a work-out. One lucky winner gets to check it out!!

Part of doing this challenge is being willing to try new things. If we are to make new habits, things will need to change. A few helpful things today to help you slowly make some changes in your nutrition plan. Eating well doesn't mean you have to leave all good tasting stuff behind...it just means we need to make our tasty favorites with good things! If you haven't yet, try some of these below to transition some not-so-nutritious items in your kitchen for a bit more nutritious meal prepping. Little things can make a big difference! And know that some of these things are not on our 10 Day Cleanse list of good foods...but keep this in mind as you think into the future and start planning your meals.

Try this...                                                      Instead of...                                

whole wheat bread                                         white bread
whole wheat pasta/noodles                             white pasta/noodles  
sweet potato                                                   white potato 
Green beans, peas, carrots                              Corn 
100% honey                                                    white or brown sugar
fruit smoothie                                                  ice-cream shake
olive or coconut oil                                          vegetable oil or butter
almonds                                                           peanuts
dried fruit                                                         sugared candy
fresh fruit & veggies                                         canned fruits & veggies
spinach & mixed greens                                   iceberg lettuce
brown rice or quinoa                                        white rice
whole wheat flour or oat flour                          bleached white flour
almond or coconut milk                                    milk
raw oats                                                        pre-packaged oatmeal packs
natural peanut butter                                         plain peanut butter 
lemon/lime in water                                           soda pop
try grilling, baking, broiling,roasting                 frying
turkey, tuna, salmon                                          bologna or salami
90% lean beef                                                  low-grade beef
air popped popcorn                                         microwave popcorn
Plain Greek yogurt                                           sour cream
applesauce (for baking)                                   vegetable oil
frozen yogurt or Yonana                                  ice-cream
fresh meats                                                    pre-packaged frozen meats
whole grain cereal                                            sugared cereal

And the list could go on! Just a few tips to help you see your kitchen stocked differently. Start little changes now and work your way to healthier over-all eating for you and your family!

Tomorrow is DAY 8. Start drinking your FIBER DRINK again tomorrow morning and no HERBAL CLEANSE caplets tomorrow night. Note the change!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Love Spark? Win Slam!

Day 6 Challengers! Almost through our first full week. Tell me today... 

When is your favorite time of day to drink your Spark?

Ready...set...go... leave a comment in the box!

(Leave a comment and be in the drawing for a FREE box of Advocare Slam. Not a current challenger? Share this blog site and comment that you would like to try a Spark drink to get yourself entered in the drawing too!)

Mine...first thing in the morning. Hello Mommy "Happy Juice"!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

take it to-go!

The first weekend of your challenge is here! Where are you headed? Tailgating? Grill-out? Family reunion? Friends get-together? After church Sunday dinner? Chances are you will be out of routine this weekend...and that is when habits love to be broken. It doesn't mean you can't go and have a heck of a good time still. It just means go prepared. Be ready to see some oh so tasty looking platters of food and maybe even an adult beverage or two that you probably used to enjoy...and one day  will every so often again...but right now we are giving 24 days of our best eating choices. Only 24. Out of thousands of days you have. You can do this!

I love to take a side dish when we are gathering and usually try to take along something that is a healthy choice (not that I don't also take a non-healthy choice too, guilty as spoken :) But knowing I am bringing a safe option for me (and my kids) to eat makes saying no much easier to the cheesy potatoes and cream cheese dip staring at me. Three things you almost always find in my house are almonds, dried cranberries, and spinach leaves. Greens, protein, some vitamin E. Watch your dried cranberries though, choose natural ones over sweetened ones. They are sweet enough on their own!

For an easy side dish to take with you layer a big platter with baby spinach leaves, sprinkle almond shavings or slices over it. Sprinkle dried cranberries on it. Slice up a hand full of radishes, a cucumber or two, and if you want to really go crazy...add some feta cheese (you can also just have this available on the side for those avoiding dairy, a recommendation during your cleanse phase of challenge). Take along a red vinaigrette dressing and ta-da! You have a yummy side dish that you can eat and share. The bonus... if you are at a grill-out or pot-luck type gathering chances are you will find grilled chicken or steak. Just slice up some of that tasty meat, throw it on your salad, and enjoy a challenge friendly meal away from home!

Challenge Friendly Spinach Salad

baby spinach leaves
natural dried cranberries
sliced almonds
Vinaigrette dressing
(Feta Cheese optional, avoid dairy during cleanse phase)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

what something new can do

So if you haven't noticed, we haven't been looking at our calories very closely. When people hear we are doing a 24 day nutrition plan, most wonder and ask how many calories we can eat. And when I tell them I am not counting calories I get the most puzzled faces looking back at me. Because counting calories is often times the main tool to healthy eating, but why so often does it fail us? So instead of looking at calories, we're focusing on whats good...and whats not good... for our bodies, our souls. And counting calories doesn't work for me, because I can eat a certain amount of calories, no problem. But it is the type of calories that matter. And so I don't count calories anymore. I count gifts. And I try to eat what is good. Let good fill me up, instead of the daily mundane things that can weigh a person down.

Yesterday I encouraged others to try something new. Trying something new can be scary, a little skeptical, and very unknown. I know. I avoid new things all the time. Remember, I don't like change. At least I don't think I do... yet it is the one thing I am learning that my heart really needs. A little over a year ago, I tried something new. I battled through post-postpartum anxiety and depression after my third baby boy arrived. And some where in the bottom of my hole of a life and between the piles of laundry and the foggy thoughts and the shortness of breath and the constant wetness that fell down my face and the bills piling up, I decided to try something new. I wanted to feel good. So I started eating really, really healthy. I ate what the good Lord grew for our bodies, the clean and natural fruits from growing-gifted friends and family. But I was still so...hungry...for more.

A neighbor friend gave me the book one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp. She dared me, to like her, start my own list of gifts. 1000 of them to be exact. I laughed at her inside. I put her book back down. Not sure what counting gifts could really do for my tired and hungry soul. And night after night I stared at the cover of her book looking at me as I tried to fall asleep. I stared at it so many times, I finally opened it again. And kept reading...and started counting. I tried something new. And something new started to happen.

I was lost in a fog of hunger in so many ways, thirsty for more of something but I didn't know what. But the eating well was giving me some much needed energy to step up out of my dark hole and the counting was giving me the water I was so thirsty for. And I started to feel full. Awake. Still alive.

My cravings became stronger with the counting...craving more of His grace and I started to see more deeply, more joyfully. I knew this clean eating for both my body and soul went hand in hand for the fullest life. So I keep counting. I am well into the 1000's. I see much more then I did before, I long to feel much more each day... Because I want to live full. I want to be here and awake for all these things happening. Once again the something new, the change...is saving me. His grace, His wild love for me is always here...saving me. Breathing LIFE into me. And He has given me this body as a tool. And I want to use it well. Keep eating healthy, keep feeding myself the good stuff. It is a journey to joy that can not be separated...but done together. So if you haven't yet...number it. Not your calories today. But a gift. Open your eyes...look around...and eat well. Drink much. Give yourself something new. And know that change can be crazy good...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 3, try something new!

 Summer Zucchinni
Fresh from my mother-in-laws garden, these summer zucchinni's fill my fridge and my tummy. Great Challenge friendly food! Easy to find at the farmers market or grocery store. Be open to new tastes...you might actually like something new! To prepare an easy and quick lunch or dinner side dish, simply...
- slice your produce
-heat up a skillet with a Tbsp of Olive Oil
-saute your sliced vegetable

It will be done once it has a soft texture and looks lightly browned. I like to sprinkle mine with a little salt, pepper, and dry parm cheese.
This takes about 10 minutes total to prepare.

 Baked Chicken
I love to bake up a bunch of chicken and have on hand for the week. We eat chicken with our meal when I make it and then I dice it up for salads, wraps, omelets for the rest of the week. You can make this really easy, too...
-use a bag of frozen tenderloins or fresh chicken breasts
-layer baking pan with chicken
-sprinkle with olive oil & fresh parsley, Italian seasonings
-Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes

This is so tasty just for dinner and makes 
for a great week long supply of protein!


Smoothies are a great way to sneak in some of your fruits and veggies that you wouldn't eat by itself. A good breakfast option, snack time, or with a protein lunch. I have fun with smoothies! I never make two the same and often times just dump in whatever I have on hand. Try these mix-ups for an easy smoothie treat...

1.) spinach, bananas, almond milk, frozen strawberries, (I also add wheat germ or flax seed, but you don't have to)

2.) Pineapple, apple, carrots, frozen peaches, kale, almond milk or water or 100% fruit juice

3.) spinach, peanut butter (1-2 Tbsp Natural PB), Banana, Chocolate Almond Milk

4.)  Frozen Berries, banana, beet, almond milk

Just a few quick ideas. Here's the thing...you can't hardly mess a smoothie up. Stuff your kale/spinach in it, choose a super food  to add like carrots, beets, apples, and use ice to thicken them if you don't like consistency. Having a high powered blender also helps with the blending process...I love my Ninja :)

Happy DAY 3, Challengers! Tomorrow looks a little different! Do NOT take your fiber drink tomorrow morning on day 4. Replace with your Probiotic Restore Ultra. It should look like this...

Spark, Probiotic Ultra, (Catalyst if doing)


Snack (Spark if needed, Catalyst if doing)



Dinner, take Omega-Plex


Before Bed: Herbal Cleanse Tablets

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

know your portions

Day 2 is here and I know some of you went to bed last night feeling hungry. Hunger, a feeling of discomfort or weakness...coupled with a desire for something more. That discomfort place, it is hard to sit in it. Because discomfort feels like something is missing and we are usually quick to fill it. We fill ourselves with the fast and the sugared down and the too much of this and that. We don't like feeling hungry. So we indulge. And usually we indulge on too much of the empty stuff and not enough on the stuff that could really fill us.

And when we are hungry we tend to lose sight of the right portions. It goes in quick, but we don't slow down to feel full...until we are too full. Mostly too full of the life without Him and not full enough of the life with Him. And then we are stuffed, yet still feel...empty. And once again there is just not room for the bread of life that really sustains a person. Have you wondered if you went to bed last night feeling hungry because for too long you have fed yourselves empty calories? And you have not portioned your food out to comfort you through out the whole day? It is not meant to be eaten all at once in one big sitting... Or even skipped all together. But feed yourself slower... through out the entire day... And know your portions.

A life is fuller when you take time to feed yourself the right portions. You don't need a huge chunk of time carved out for indulging. You need many small moments naturally happening for you as you live. Those moments are to fill yourself, until the next moment when you feed yourself again. And there is always another moment just ahead of you. Make room in your day to feed yourself, often. You should not feel hungry if you are stopping to eat and portioning out what really feeds you well.

When you get to the end of today, I hope you don't feel hungry for more... Where have you placed your portions? In the Good and Plenty or in the weak and empty? Have you taken that journal out yet? There is something about taking your pen to paper and numbering it. Feed yourself with His gifts today. Write them down...

an early morning sunrise
the sound of my name from his little mouth
a table full of hungry kids
a full glass of water

And I've only just begun... but I am feeling...fuller.

Arrange your day to give yourself the portions you need to feel FULL when you lay your head down on your pillow tonight. Keep looking...keep seeing...keep taking it in... and count them...those gifts. And eat a rich serving of the Good stuff! Know your portions at the end of the day, will help you know that full comfort feeling as you end another day. The amount you put on your plate makes a difference. Don't fill your plate with the things that won't sustain you. Know your portions and fill it with the Things that will make you feel full.

Monday, September 9, 2013

quench your thirst

You are here. Day 1 of your cleanse phase, the challenge you committed to and probably already this morning are wondering why...why ever would you do such a thing? Because the planning for it has already tired your brain and the liquids you are taking down have already made you gag and the sacrifices you've had to make have already made you miss what you did before... Before you decided to make a change. Before you decided you were worth a little time...and planning...and effort to make things better. To feel better. To see better. To do this better.

And like living water to our souls, His grace is trailing us as we begin something new. But do you see it yet? That grace that lays on you each day and is all around you as you breathe? Do you see it when you step on that scale and wrap that measuring tape around your tired body? Can you feel it when you live out your day and try to make a change?

I find it almost funny that the one thing our bodies are lacking, is the one thing that could cleanse us...water. Water for our bodies, living water for our souls.

Step one today. Drink up. Fill your body with enough water to start your cleaning phase. But drink slow and steady. For this begins a new way to live. To give our bodies the one thing at our finger tips, a privilege of living in the Land of the Free...and the good and clean. Drink up. Half your body weight's worth...keep drinking today and the next 23 days.

And as you drink, look up... and tell me...what do you SEE? He wants you to see Him... and he is closer then you think. As you drink today, won't you quench your thirst through His eyes too? Take that journal out and write it down... number it. Start with 1 and if that's all you find today, then look more tomorrow... but for today, write down one thing...something you've never noticed before that speaks of His gift to you. And drink it in. Quench your thirst. Say thank you.

(And an extra tip today...if you can't down plain ole' water, try adding some flavor through fresh or frozen strawberries or lime slices or lemon slices or cucumber slices and some fresh basil leaves for a tasty addition to your water consumption)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Let's go!

It is the eve of Day 1 for you challengers and I know this is the start of something great for each of you! I hope you feel prepared, are ready to make some changes, and know you are being cheered for! As I look at the next 24 days and think about the challenge, I am excited and nervous both. Excited for what could be, nervous for what I will have to do to make this be well worth my efforts. But like anything hard in life, the rewards are usually ten times bigger! I looked up the word challenge tonight...and this was my favorite definition under the word "challenge"...

A test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking

The next 24 days will be a test to just how much you want to make changes in your life. And it may feel demanding for you as you try to figure out how to change some main habits in your life as you go about your day to day regular routine. But have you ever wondered if the reason you are where you are today is because of the habits you have let become your norm? Habits only take 21 days to build I hear. Only 21? If that is true, then 24 days is sure to leave a dent. And isn't 24 days of hard habit breaking and new habit making worth years of something better?  How bad do you want to change your eating habits? How you see yourself? How you simply see? The peace in your heart and soul? The ability to finish something strong? Because up and changing will be demanding, it will be an undertaking, and it will require you to love yourself enough to change for the better. And you are worth it! So take these next 24 days and give yourself some grace to work on you. Tomorrow starts a new journey for you...be open to change, embrace it...it really could be crazy good in the end.

For Tomorrow, here are a few tips...

Day 1

Before breakfast:
Spark (with 3 Catalyst if you are adding this)
Fiber drink (be sure to drink IMMEDIATELY after making, it gets thicker if you let it sit)
*Drink 1-2 glasses of water after drinking fiber drink

Breakfast- can be a meal replacement if you want 


The guide says you can do your spark and more catalyst before lunch, for people doing two sparks, it is your choice but most people would rather wait and have it in the early afternoon in the after lunch slump before their snack (try 30 minutes before your snack and can add 3 Catalyst if you are adding that with your spark)


With dinner, take Omega-plex (4-6)


Herbal cleanse tabs (in a white packet found in herbal cleanse box- make sure it is marked herbal cleanse tabs and you can also add 3 Catalyst if you are adding that)

You should be eating every 3-3.5 hours! And not feel hungry!

Questions, thoughts, comments...leave it in the box below! Here we go team! Time to embrace change...starting now!

Friday, September 6, 2013

get set...

Challengers! THREE days! Are you getting prepared? Here is a favorite Friday tip for my Cedar Valley Challengers...

If you haven't, try out the local Farmer's Market! A great way to stock your house with challenge friendly foods is to hit up our local farmers for their produce and you have a great opportunity tomorrow to do just that!

Cedar Falls Saturday morning down by Overman Park...8:30-12. 

Waterloo Saturday morning down at the Public Market...8:30-12.

I had the great privilege of being on the vendor side of market last summer and these fellow market friends are awesome people with wonderful fresh produce. The best part, you will probably save money buying from them then if you went to your local grocery store. You get fresh, support locally grown, and know where your food came from that you put in your body. So stroll on through and bring your shoppers bag...  here are my go-to items I like to get downtown on Saturday morning!

green beans
sweet potatoes
snow peas

Now, there is much more...but these are my favorite. And don't be afraid to try something new or ask a farmer down there just what is kale or another food you might not recognize. They love to answer questions and share their products. The more you know, the better you grow!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

on your marks...

Alright challengers...FOUR days til start time!! Are you ready? Here is a couple tips to help you get started well in just a few days...

1.) Do your grocery shopping BEFORE Monday! What to buy? Think fresh! If it is packaged, it is probably not a very challenge friendly food. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, spinach, kale, eggs, chicken, beef, almonds, avocados, oatmeal (not packets, the real stuff), fish, brown rice, black beans, olive oil,  to name some powerful resources for you to have on hand! (remember fresh is best, no canned fruits/veggies) Being prepared to start on Monday is important to finishing well and having the good stuff around at your finger tips is gonna come in handy! 

2.) Get your products! Have your challenge Advocare products in your house by Sunday. You'll be able to set out what you need Sunday night for first thing Monday morning and away we go...

3.) Weigh and Measure yourself. Everyone is doing this challenge for different reasons, but I can almost promise that we will be seeing results across the team as we learn what to eat and what not to eat, so reward yourself by keeping track! More tips on how to properly do this coming soon... but have a fabric tape measure on hand for most accuracy. I will be available to measure you if you would like or my fellow Advocare friend can...more details coming to you individually on this!

4.) Tell a friend. When we have someone cheering us on, checking in on us, and who knows what we are up to...we tend to stay on track. So find a friend or your spouse or a family member who will encourage you, check in on you, and help you get to day 24 without giving in. You can do this!

5.) Get a notebook, journal, pad of paper...anything you can write on and keep track of...gifts. Yes, the gifts you will be seeing for the first time as you start to see over the 24 days of challenging ourselves. We will be counting gifts, not calories!

So go on, team!! Time to get this party started!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

it starts with us

Change has forever been my biggest struggle. I move slow. I think slow. I like things predictable. I like knowing, being prepared, and time to adjust.  Change can be hard and often times we avoid it to avoid the pain that comes with stretching ourselves. But change has also saved me. It keeps me from staying the same and becoming something better then I was before. So why would you follow a gal who drags her heels through change and closes her eyes to something new? Because I've done it over and over again. Usually the hard way. And I have learned to stare change in the face...and embrace it. Sometimes with open arms, but mostly I have learned that change is never going away and if we can just keep our eyes open during the process...that good, good things come with each new thing, new season, new view. The hardest lessons are the ones that keep me awake the most. Awake to what could be, awake to what surrounds me, and awake to see clearer then I did before. And awake and alive is how I want to live!

We are starting the 24 day challenge in FIVE days! Five days til we jump in hoping to make a change for ourselves. Change the way we eat, change the way we see ourselves, change the way we see what is all around us. Change the way our hearts know Him. I am so looking forward to this challenge and the gift I hope it is to many these next few weeks. There is still time to join! Do you need a change? It starts with ourselves...come, join us!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Would you join us?

We're kicking off a group challenge Monday, September 9th! Come with us! We'll be changing our healthy eating habits and counting gifts...yup, no counting calories, just your gifts! Comment here if you'd like to be contacted with more info... and Happy Kick-Off Football Weekend!