Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Favorites...

My favorite thing this week is that I'm on the home stretch! Only 2 more days to burn calories before my month-long challenge is over. I'm excited and nervous to get on the scale Monday morning. It seems like this month has flown by! (Didn't I just post about starting this challenge?) I'm hoping to have lost at least 4 pounds, which would be one for every week. And that sounds reasonable, but you never know with weight loss. To be honest, I'll be happy with even 1 pound of weight loss. But, the more the merrier, ya know! :-)

So, I'm watching my calories extra closely, making sure I'm getting enough protein, and moving as much as possible. This hasn't been an easy month, but I'm so glad that I made up this crazy challenge. It has certainly provided motivation! Sometimes we all just need a little kick in the pants...especially me. LOL

Working hard...the end is in sight!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Musings...

Do you have any silly fears? I've had a few (okay, several) in my lifetime. For instance, I'm scared of loud noises. I've been known to plug my ears at the movie theater because it was "so loud". I've even vacuumed while using one hand to plug one ear. And when I was little, I hated, dreaded, and avoided at all costs commercial bathrooms. It was bad enough to have your ears blasted by those sucking, swirling vortexes that could grab you and pull you down with them at any moment (aka toilets). But now, they have those hand drying machines that blast so much air and make so much noise that I just want to scream and run out!

Well, loud noises still scare me. But that's's just a silly fear. However, there are other kinds of fears that are far more powerful and far more controlling in our lives, if we allow them to be. Silly fears are fine. (Though I'm really trying to overcome my fear of loud noises! I don't plug my ears and vacuum at the same time anymore. LOL) However, there are lots of other fears that we need to give a kick in the pants and tell, "Get lost!" Those are the fears that are keeping us from following the Lord wholeheartedly, and fears that keep us from accomplishing great things for His kingdom. And that's what I want to focus on today.

I remember a list of fears that I made when I first began my weight loss journey. I realized that I had a lot of doubts and fears about my weight loss that were floating around in my head, and I knew that I needed to identify them and rely of God's grace to overcome them. Because if I didn't do that, I knew that I'd never be successful in weight loss long term. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear (timidity), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." I knew that I couldn't be reaching for a goal, all the while doubting that I'd ever be able to achieve it. That would be like working against myself the entire time!

So, I sat down on my bed one day and wrote a list of fears that I had been entertaining. Some of my fears were just plain absurd (I was scared that I might not like how I looked after I lost weight!) but some were more gripping and "believe able" (I thought that losing weight was a hopeless cause, and one that I didn't want to fight my entire life - I was scared that I'd fail).
I sat for a while, identifying as many fears as came to mind and writing them down. Then, I went through each one and found a Scripture passage that would conquer my wrong thoughts and apply to that specific fear. After I had prayed through each one and spoken the Truth of God's Word to dispel each fear, I ripped the sheet of paper as a symbolic action and threw it in the garbage.

I wish I could say that after that day I haven't struggled with those specific fears anymore. But that's not true. I still have to fight against some of them. As long as I'm focused on Christ, I can easily dispel those fears. But when I'm focused on myself, my needs, my weaknesses...that's when my guard is down and those fears creep in again. If we want to be effective for God's Kingdom and be able to walk in His freedom, we must get past these fears and move on. Give them a kick in the pants! Find a passage of Scripture that applies to that fear, memorize it and speak it outloud. Silly fears or gripping ones......let's move on in His strength!

Unplugging my ears,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time for another Friday favorite! I actually happened upon my favorite thing this week in the HyVee Health Mart. My mom and I were making a quick stop there to pick up some almond cheese and rice milk for my sister, Leah. Leah has struggled with acne for several years, and we found that eliminating dairy from her diet has helped immensely! It's quite amazing how much her skin has improved. It's taken several months for her to get used to the "non dairy" cheeses and milks, but now she enjoys them. And after some trial and error, she's found some yummy dairy free recipes that she likes. Her hardest thing to give up was pizza (which our family makes homemade every Friday night!). But with a little almond (or goat) cheese on top, it tastes pretty good!

Anyway, back to my story. :-) Mom and I were kind of browsing around in the refrigerated section, looking for anything else Leah might enjoy when we happened upon almond milk. That sounded VERY good to me (I love almonds!) so I grabbed a half gallon of it to take home and try. Well, it has become my new favorite thing! I put it in everything! It's very good in coffee and smoothies. Leah actually likes it (which surprised me, because it does have a strong "nutty" flavor.....but I guess that's to be expected, because it is, after all, almond milk. LOL) and she uses it on her cereal. I enjoy just drinking it plain, too! The one benefit I enjoy the most (other than it's great flavor) is the fact that it has less calories than regular milk. Only 60 calories in a cup! The downside is that it doesn't offer as much protein, but I get enough of that in other things.
My mom is asking me to stop drinking so much of it, because Leah and I have already gone through a gallon this week! So, I'm trying to cut back and show a little moderation. I'm doing pretty well....sort of....I've only used it twice Okay, so I have room for improvement. :-)
Give almond milk a try! But be careful - you just might like it. A LOT! (And then we'd have to start an "almond milk anonymous" group or something...)
Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Monday Musings...

I hope that you made it through Valentine's Day without indulging in too much chocolate and baked goods! I certainly enjoyed my little bits of dark chocolate that I had last night. My dad was so thoughtful and bought a package of dark chocolates just for me! And I had to laugh as my 3 year old sister, Bethany, tried a bit of the dark chocolate and exclaimed, "Yuck! They forgot to put the sugar in it!!!". Well, all the more for me, I guess. :-)

I think it's important to keep "real life" at the forefront of our thoughts, especially when we're trying to achieve what seems like an impossible goal. For example, I was only able to exercise 3 days last week, instead of the usual 5. We had a busy schedule, and it just didn't work out. (No pun intended! LOL) Now, I could be stressing out right now. I could be racking my brain and trying to come up with ways to compensate for that unexpected turn of events. (However, I was NOT going to give up my chocolate last night - NO WAY!)

But I'm not stressing. Because that was real life. I had a busy week. It's going to happen like that sometimes, and I need to just go with the flow and compensate the best that I can without flipping out. So what did I do? I watched my calories closer and cut the unnecessary things out. And I picked back up today right where I left off last week! You've got to be able to put the past behind and keep moving onward. I can't get stuck in what I wasn't able to do - I have to be able to focus on what I need to do today. I need to live in the present, not the past or the future. Yes, I can certainly learn from the past. I can look for ways to change and improve, and maybe do things differently next time. But I can't get stuck in regret....gotta keep moving on.

On a different note, have you been watching the Winter Olympics? I have just LOVED watching the athletes compete. It is so inspiring! The amount of training and dedication it takes to compete at that level (which is the highest in the world!) is astounding. I have been motivated and challenged to perform at my best as I've watched them give their all to achieve their goals.

And that reminds me of Paul's encouragement in 1 Corinthians chapter 9. He likens our spiritual journey here on earth to a race, a race of Olympic proportions!
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 we read, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

There are so many rich parallels and spiritual analogies that we can learn from this short passage of Scripture! So I'll just mention a few that I've been thinking about. (And then you can post other analogies that come to your mind!)

First off, verse 24 sums up what our mindset should be as Christians. We are in a race! And we are seeking the prize (which in this context, is leading people to Christ). There is no time for walking. There isn't even time for jogging. It's time to run! I was challenged to stop wasting time and "taking breaks" by doing things that I feel like doing. How foolish would it be for an athlete to show up at the Olympics and expect to win the gold by leisurely skiing down the hill or just performing a few simple turns on the ice? They would be laughed out of the competition! We must run to obtain. Yes, it's tiring. (Have I mentioned before how much I despise running?) And yes, it can be humbling if we're near the back of the pack. But our eyes should not be focused on our surroundings. Those who look back to size up their competition often get beat out, because they weren't completely focused on the goal. Our eyes need to be glued to Christ!

Secondly, I appreciate how Paul doesn't just leave this goal as a spiritual one. He also states that an athlete exercises (which means it's not always pleasant!) self-control in all things. Guess what? That includes what I eat and how I treat my body. You see, I should be glorifying Christ and making Him known to others by every means possible. And how can I preach that Christ sets captives free, if I myself am still bound by the chains of gluttony? How much of a testimony is that going to be? (OUCH!) I don't want people to look at me and instantly "disqualify" me and everything I'm saying because they see a glaring blind spot, a huge discrepancy between what I preach and how I live. That is why God (through Paul) encourages and admonishes us to discipline ourselves, in whatever area(s) where we are weak. We must keep our "self" under control!
But this doesn't happen overnight. I didn't wake up with 2% body fat the day after I decided to fight this battle with food. :-) This is not a sprint race, it's a distance race. A marathon, if you will. And the only way that we won't be disqualified by others, is if we run the race as He intended us to -completely dependent on Him. Our Lord is so full of grace and mercy that He promises to supply whatever we need. Strength for the weak, grace for when we stumble, light in the times of darkness, hope when we feel despair. He supplies all of our needs, according to His riches in glory.

So run! Don't walk. Don't give up. Run! Push through the doubts and fears. Lay aside your weights that are pulling you down. And with every step, depend on His strength.

Running with you!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday Favorites...

Dark chocolate. It's my favorite thing this week! If you want something sweet while celebrating Valentines' Day, buy yourself a little dark chocolate. As you may have heard, dark chocolate does have health benefits, if eaten in moderation and if you choose dark chocolate that isn't loaded with additives and preservatives. The health benefits in chocolate mainly come from the antioxidants in cocoa. Therefore, the higher the amount of cocoa in the dark chocolate, the more healthly it is! I'm currently enjoying 70% dark chocolate, and am working on training my taste buds to like the higher amounts of cocoa.

Dark chocolate has been shown to aid in improving your cardiovascular system and stabilizing blood pressure. It's also recently been shown to ease anxiety and lower stress levels. So choose some dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth! It's much more healthy than milk chocolate, which adds so much milk and sugar to the cocoa that it basically cancels out all of the health benefits!

It only been in the past few years that I've begun to love dark chocolate. I used to think it was bitter and disgusting! But as I've been cutting most sugar out of my diet, I've begun to find "natural" sugar and items that have lower levels of sugar to be quite sweet. So, give it a try! You just might like it.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...." 1 John 3:1

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." 1 John 4:7

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Musings...

Is it possible to know if a rice cake has grown stale? I'm serious! I was pondering that this morning as I opened a new package and was trying to decide how best to store the remaining rice cakes. Do I even need to store them? My family thinks they taste like styrofoam already (I disagree!), but I stood in our pantry for a few moments as I tried to imagine what a stale rice cake would taste like. I'm not really sure. But now I'm kind of curious to leave one sitting on the counter for a few days and see.....:-)

Anyway, happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I am SO glad that I've begun recording my calories again. Like I've mentioned, weekends are tough for me. I just feel like I deserve to have whatever I want to eat and however much of it I want, because I've worked so hard throughout the week, ya know. But acting on that kind of thinking has been getting me in trouble these past few months, and I'm out to break that cycle. So this weekend, even though I went a little over my normal calorie limit, I kept track and didn't do near the amount of damage! Instead of eating a whole bowl of tortilla chips and salsa while watching the Super Bowl, (which is what I wanted) I counted out 2 servings of mini rice cakes instead. And I realized while eating them, that I wasn't really hungry. I just wanted to eat because everyone else in my family was. Can anyone relate to that? :-)

Oh, the peer pressure of eating is strong! And it works both ways. When we girls go out to lunch or have a snack with our girlfriends, we all eat like birds because we don't want anyone to think that we're (dare I even say it?) PIGS!!!!! We all sit there, thinking the same thing, "Boy, I really want to eat more.", but rarely anyone dares to go for a 2nd helping. However, once one brave soul does, we are all too eager to jump in and follow suit! What was once considered being a pig is now an act of kindness, because we wouldn't want that brave soul to feel uncomfortable by eating alone while everyone else watches and drools. (My apologies is that is too descriptive! I just find the whole situation rather commical. And if you ever have the chance to eat with me, you can rest assured that by God's grace - He's turning me into a brave soul! LOL

It boils down to this - we need to focus our eyes on Jesus and walk in the Spirit and stop caring so much about what other people think. Sometimes, it's okay to eat a second helping. But sometimes, we need to just stop eating because we're already satisfied. This is something that can't be determined by social manners. I can't tell you how many times I've needed to graciously refuse food that has been offered to me, whether it's a cookie from Grandma or a piece of cake at a party. I'm used to it now! But it takes courage to do that. It takes practice. And it takes dying to your reputation and seeking to glorify the Lord through your motives and actions.

Well, how was that for a set of completely unrelated topics? I hope you're Monday musings are a little more organized than mine!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Favorites...

Have you ever walked into a store and noticed a really cute blouse being "modeled" by a stylish mannequin that you thought would look great on you, too? But then you go into the dressing room and try it on, only to find that (though you hate to admit it!) it looks better on the dumb mannequin than on you. So, you walk back out of the dressing room and browse through the sea of clothes, trying to find some other piece of clothing that meets all of your criteria before you head back to the dressing room to try again.

It can be somewhat discouraging, if you try on several different outfits and still can't seem to find something that you like. Most of the time, my problem is that it just doesn't fit right. Maybe the blouse looks perfect.....except for the arm holes, because they're too big and droopy. Or maybe the skirt looks nice........but the waist doesn't sit right on your hips. The pants you try on would look great.....if they didn't make your thighs look like tree trunks. You might find a cute pair of shoes, but when you put them on, you can't help but think that they make your feet look huge.

I have had those scenarios take place MANY times. Shopping would be fun if I happened to find something that I was looking for, or a complete waste of time if everything I tried on just didn't look right. It was rather confusing and overwhelming to search through all the racks of clothing, as I attempted to find just the right piece of clothing. I mean, I thought, "If it can look so nice on a silly mannequin - why couldn't I get it to look nice on me?"

It wasn't until a few short years ago that I learned a few tips about how to shop smartly. And though most of you might already know these simple tips, they have really transformed the way I shop for clothing, which is why "knowing and dressing for your body shape" is my favorite thing this week!

First, you might wonder why it's so important to dress according to your body shape. Good question! Here are a few benefits and blessings of doing so :

1. People will be drawn to look at your countenance - not your body
2. People who dress appropriately gain respect from others and it gives "weight" (lol) to your words
3. You will feel comfortable in what you're wearing, and therefore are able to focus on giving to others instead of worrying and fidgeting with your clothes
4. You'll look great!

Now that you've seen a few of the benefits, let's get started! It all begins with a simple evaluation of your body. I'm sure that most of you have heard the common categories of body shapes for women - apple shaped, pear shaped, straight/rectangle shaped, and hourglass shaped. If you aren't sure which shape you are, here are a few characteristics of each kind:

apple shaped = "top heavy", bust 3 or more inches inches bigger than your hips, a fuller face and neck, broader shoulders, more narrow hips with a fuller, undefined waist

pear shaped =bottom heavy, hips significantly larger than bust, a long or slender neck, sloping or narrow shoulders, curvy hips and backside, full thighs and calves, defined, slim waist

straight/rectangular shaped (or the toothpick!) = bust, waist, and hips are basically the same size, a full neck, broad back, undefined waist, a balanced figure

hourglass shape = equal hip and bust measurements with a narrow waist, symmetrical shoulders and hips, shapely legs

Have you figured out which one you are? In my case, I didn't need much time for deliberation....I'm most definitely a pear. :-) Once I realized what shape my body resembled, it helped me to decide which types and styles of clothes would look best on me. And this is not just about dressing to appear more sleek and slim. (I mean, seriously - have you ever looked at a bowl of fruit and thought that the pear looked sleek and slim? It ain't gonna happen, sista'!) But like I mentioned above, dressing appropriately for your body shape will draw attention to your countenance (which is what we want!) because people aren't distracted by your clothes. We all know people who try to squeeze into clothing that is much too tight, thinking that it will make them appear thin. In fact, it does the opposite! The clothes may cover them, but by showing every curve and hump, it's not modest at all. And I'm sure you also know other people who wear very baggy clothes that kind of hang on them and resemble a potato sack. That's not very attractive, either! :-) Without some shape to the clothes, it makes them appear sloppy and larger than they actually are.

So, how do you know what type of clothes to wear for your shape? You can find helpful information in books, which I have done, and also on different websites. In order not to make this post too long, I'm going to attempt to give just a few simple guidelines that the "fashion experts" suggest for each body type. It's important to remember, however, that you are unique! There are guidelines that you can follow, but if something doesn't work for you - move on to something else. Don't try to completely fit into the mold, and don't go to your closet and throw out anything that doesn't line up with these guidelines! Evaluate your clothes by how they look on you - not on a mannequin, even if the mannequin is your body shape. :-)

Okay, let's begin with our apple shaped friends. Your main goal is to lengthen and elongate your torso, which will give the appearance of slimmer shoulders and waist. Wrap around tops look best on you, as do fitted tops - as long as they're not too tight. V-necks look great, too! Look for blouses that have a cinched waist or a belted jacket. This will help to balance your shape!
Skirts should be fitted at the waist and flare at the hem line. Because the lower half of your body is significantly smaller than your top, and A-line skirt will help balance things out. You'll want to look for jeans that have a flat front, and those that have flared or bootcut legs, which will give you a long, balanced look.

And now, onto those of us who are pear shaped. Blouses that are fitted and have lots of detailing and texture will help draw attention away from your backside and to your face. Look for blouses that are scooped, draped, v'd, rounded, or squared. Anything that makes your shoulders appear more broad. A-lined and flared skirts look best on pears. When choosing a dress, choose one with an empire waist or a wrap dress which will flow over your hips. Keep prints on top and dark, solid colors on the bottom. Find jeans that are flared and have a straight leg, which will balance out the larger thighs.

For my straight/rectangle shaped friends, your unique challenge is to find tops that will help give you curves! Cinched tops and belted tops that give you a waist look great! Jackets that flare out from your waist will give you "instant hips". Again, skits that are A-line, pencil, or flared will help you find your feminine curves! You'll look nice in jeans that have a straight leg from the hip to the knee and have a slight flare at the end.

And finally, the most coveted group of women, my hourglass shaped friends! Look for tops with V-necks or scooped necks, and find jackets that will sit right at your waist. Wrap around tops are also great for emphasizing your waist. Pencil skirts look great on you, as do A-line skirts. Find skirts that are longer, as this will make your appearance more balanced.

Whew! This is taking a long time to type up. I'm going to have to save my other thoughts for another time. But I'd like to hear yours! What shape are you and what kind of clothes do you like to wear? Have you ever thought about shopping for your shape, or is this a new concept to you? Any other thoughts about the topic?

Let me hear from you! ~Bekah

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Musings...

A challenge. I've decided to do something different this month. I realized that I've been much too apathetic about my weight loss recently. I mean, I can't complain that I can't seem to get the weight to keep coming off (and stop creeping back up as it's been doing in the last few weeks) if I'm not totally committed and doing everything I can to lose the weight. I have a tendency to hold it together during the week days (eating healthy, exercising, etc.) and then "reward" myself for all of the work I'd done that week by eating more calories than usual during the weekend. It's turned into a vicious cycle, as you can imagine. And now I'm ready to break the cycle!

What I'm doing is rather simple. I've given myself a challenge to meet this month, and I purposely made it difficult and "impossible" to achieve so that I'm not tempted to slack off at all. (Knowing yourself and your tendencies to be weak in certain areas is an important aspect of weight loss!) Anyway, I've set a goal to lose 10 pounds this month. Yep, 10 pounds. Right now, it does seem impossible, especially given my slow progress these past few months. But I'm up for the challenge! And I know that it's going to keep me focused this month. I needed a goal and something to work toward. I'd gotten sluggish, and this goal is so huge that I'm going to need to focus every day, not just on the week days.

So now that you know my plans for the month, here's my challenge for you - make a huge goal for yourself! About anything....spending X amount of time in the Word....witnessing to X amount of people each week......avoiding X unhealthy foods.......keeping in touch with X friends and encouraging them.....finishing X projects that you've begun......whatever! And make it seem hard, even unrealistic. Strive for the "unachievable"! Ask the Lord to help you dream big. Because even if you do fall short, you've still made more progress than you would have otherwise. That's my hope for this month! You've all heard the saying, "Shoot for the moon and you'll at least fall into the stars". (Or something like that!)

I pray that this month we'll break out of our normal cycles. That we'll embrace Christ and walk in His freedom like never before! This has to be about more than just losing weight. Because in the light of eternity, that gains me nothing. I will be challenged to press into Christ and abide in Him this month, to put aside desires of my flesh, and to walk according to the Spirit. It's going to be a month of spiritual growth and (hopefully) physical shrinking. :-)

Yes, I have a hard month ahead. I'm going to need to persevere when I would have normally given up, and give things up that I would have normally have indulged in. So I'm trusting that "the joy of the Lord is my strength" that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and that "I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me".

Like I mentioned in my last post, encouragement from others is a huge key to success, especially when you make outrageous goals. So if you feel the Lord leading you to make a goal, post a comment and share it! I'd love to hold you up in prayer and be there to encourage you.

Up for the challenge! ~Bekah