Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jumping rope and having fun...

Did you ever jump rope when you were a little girl? I can remember playing in our driveway and jumping rope with my sisters and our neighborhood friends. It was always so much more enjoyable if we could get a group of people together so that we could switch off between jumping and turning the rope. And do you remember those silly rhymes that you learned to recite while turning the rope? Rhymes that didn't seem to make any sense and had no correlation with jumping rope whatsoever? :-) We finally gave up on the rhymes and decided that it would be fun if we counted our jumps and tried to beat each other. I, for one, was just glad every time that the rope went back up over my head and didn't get caught on my ankle. I was much better at jumping rope by myself, because I was in control of the rope speed and would keep it at a nice, steady pace. In my view, my sisters and friends seemed to think that the rope was burning their hands, because they would turn that thing so fast it would make the cool "whirring" sound in the air! How was anybody supposed to jump that fast? Yeah, I still have a few scars on my ankles from those rope burns I got.....

Just kidding. :-) No rope scars here. But this morning, I decided to take advantage of the cardio workout that jump roping gives you. After completing my running on the treadmill, I grabbed my jump rope and ran out to the garage to get some jumping done. (I went outside because I didn't want to wake up everyone else with the slapping sound the rope makes on our ceilings. It's just not quite tall enough for my jump rope.)
After kicking the curious cats out of the way, (gently...sort of... lol) I started jumping. And it was fun! My heart was pumping and my calves were burning. (Not "calves" like in little cows, mind you. "Calves" as in the muscles in the back of my legs. Don't worry - I wasn't sacrificing anything on the altar of our chest freezer in the garage! Just wanted to clarify that...)
Then, I decided to really make my heart rate soar by doing 30 reps of stair stepping (like where you use one step and step up and off of it as fast as you can -it ends up more like step running) and then performing 50 reps of jump rope. Going back and forth between that for several minutes was enough to make me begin gasping for air! But it was fun. Really, it was! You should try it sometime.

Often times, those silly little games we learn as children can be fun even now. (Except for "jacks". I never did understand the point of that game...) But think about it - bike riding, tag, roller blading, hopscotch, jumping rope, and any kind of sports game kept us entertained for hours and a healthy weight as kids. So why have we given them up? Because we're too old for them? I say, let's resurrect them! I mean, can you imagine how much fun it would be to grab a group of your friends and go roller blading? Or heading to the basketball court or the soccer field? Who cares if you're not in the greatest shape and don't have quite the same amount of energy that you did as a child? I guarantee you that memories would be made, and you'd be burning calories at the same time.

So, I challenge you to "play" a little bit today. Besides, kids have more fun anyway, right? lol


Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Musings...

As you all know, we'll be celebrating the resurrection of our Lord this coming Sunday. What a joyous time for the believer! Jesus' resurrection means everything to us. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 15:17, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins." But we know that He has been raised and because of Him, we also have been given life...eternal life. Makes me want to break out into the classic song, "Because He Lives"!

So, while this is a time of rejoicing for the believer, the world celebrates with bunnies, chocolate, and Easter eggs. And it can be very tempting to take advantage of those sales on chocolate and indulge a bit too much in traditional, festive foods. For those of us trying to lose weight, holidays are one of our greatest downfalls. It's so easy to overindulge, and when you mix the nostalgic emotions with the abundance of yummy food, the result is often disastrous.

Knowing that next weekend could be a tough challenge for a lot of us, here are a few quick tips to curbing that emotional eating :

-Don't go to the table "starving". It's better to eat a light snack of fruits, veggies, or nuts about an hour or so before sitting down to a large meal. This will help you to eat mindfully you'll be in a much better state of mind if your stomach isn't making loud noises!

-Drink lots of water. It's important to stay hydrated at all times, but especially during times when you know you'll be tempted to eat more. Often times, we mistake our body's signal for thirst and actually think that we're hungry, when all we need is a glass of water!

-Steer clear of tempting situations! For example, if you know that you'll be tempted to sneak a few extra bits of food, don't offer to clean up the food. Instead, offer to do the dishes or sweep the floor.

-Decide before sitting down to the meal what you're going to eat. Prior planning is important!

-Eat slowly, and pick foods that are full of protein and fiber. Stay away from foods full of sugar or fat. They only increase your blood sugar levels and make you crave more! If you are disciplined enough to be satisfied with one bite, great! But if not, don't even open the door for that temptation.

-Finally, just be smart and know yourself. Eating one little piece of dark chocolate isn't going to cause a major weight gain, but eating several little pieces could. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and ask the Lord to help you practice self-control!

I'm thanking the Lord that because of His death and resurrection, He has given me the power (His power!) to overcome my sin and the struggles that I still encounter each day. He has made it possible for me to be dead to sin and alive in Him! So it would be foolish of me to spend a day reserved for rejoicing in His life by indulging in my flesh, don't you think?

Life is worth the living, just because He lives!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Favorites

It's time for Friday Favorites, and I'm excited about this post because I love healthy snacks! I really enjoy experimenting with different combinations of things, like sweet and salty. Keeping things new and interesting can help to fight off those cravings that we all experience at times, and it's important to have a game plan for your snacking! But before I get ahead of myself, let me give you my current Top Ten Snacks (in no particular order):

-1 serving/handful of raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, sesame seeds, any kind of nuts)

-carrots with 2 tbsp hummus

-2 stalks of celery with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter

- 1/2 C. plain yogurt with either fresh fruit, a sprinkle of granola, or some honey mixed in (I also recently experimented with mixing a tbsp of Nutella into some plain yogurt and it tasted like chocolate pudding to me, but was much healthier!)

-A Kashi granola bar or Larabar (I prefer the Larabars because they use whole ingredients and have no sugar or preservatives added to them. If you haven't tried one, you just have to! The downside is, they are more expensive (over $1 per bar) and I can only eat half of one because they are too many calories for my "snack budget". But I absolutely love them!)

- 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese

-2 or 3 plain (or salted) rice cakes

-a piece of fruit (apple, grapes, banana, peach, anything!) with a few nuts

-one string cheese

-8 oz. almond milk with a Wasa cracker

Most people are often surprised when they hear that snacking actually aids in weight loss, but that's simply because we so often abuse snacking and treat it more like a meal. I mean, that's what I used to do! I would "snack" until I was full, on things like crackers, (which are loaded with salt, MSG, and preservatives so that our body craves more than we need) granola bars and fruit snacks (can you say, "sugar"?) and anything else I could find in the pantry.

But snacking should be different, whether we want to lose weight or just continue being healthy. Eating a healthy snack will rev up your metabolism and keep your hunger in check. It's better to eat a small snack and a balanced dinner, then to skip the snack and eat a large dinner! Why? Because you will *almost always* consume more calories at dinner when you are "starving", you'll more easily give into temptations and cravings when your blood sugar is unbalanced, (from not stabilizing it with a snack) and eating a large meal at night doesn't allow for any time for burn off those extra calories before heading to bed.

Here are some things you should watch out for when snacking :
1. Portion size - read the label! It's very easy to ingest more calories than you think, especially with crackers, pretzels, etc. If you think the serving size is unreasonably small, that might be a hint that you've been "over snacking" in the past. :-)
2. Pick something with protein. Do you want to feel satisfied and not sluggish after snacking? Then eat something with a good amount of protein in it (i.e. nuts, lowfat cheese or yogurt).
3. Eat your veggies and fruits! They are low in calories and high in fiber - which is a winning snack combo, and I would suggest pairing them with something like peanut (or almond) butter or hummus which will add some protein to the mix and keep you satisfied till dinner.

And finally, what should we do about cravings? We all have them, and sometimes it's REALLY HARD to resist them. (Don't even get me started on chocolate...) In order to curb those cravings, we have to realize why we get them in the first place.
Food cravings mean that our body has it's signals mixed up. We usually get cravings when we're tired or blue, when we have low levels of blood sugar and/or serotonin and the body is telling us that we need a "pick me up". Then our emotions kick in, and we begin to crave something that will make us feel good (which usually isn't something healthy!) like a high-carb or high-sugar snack. Real hunger can wait...cravings cannot. Our bodies may, in fact, be hungry and need food. But we certainly don't need a candy bar or bag of chips! That will only make us feel worse after we've eaten it, and with no fiber or protein, it doesn't satisfy at all.

So, how should we fight those cravings? First, just wait. If it's an emotional or psycological craving, it will go away. Drink a glass of water. Pray and surrender your emotions to the Lord. Get busy doing something that will take your mind off of it. Go for a walk and get some exercise. Make sure you're eating every 3 to 4 hours to keep your blood sugar levels stable. And most importantly, get it out of your sight! Don't hang around where you can see exactly what you want to indulge in, because you're just setting yourself up for failure.

And finally, please comment and share with us a few of your favorite healthy snacks! There are so many more than the few that I just listed here and I would appreciate some new ideas.

Happy Snacking!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Polling closed...more recipes on the way!

Okay, ladies. The poll is now closed and I grateful to those of you who took part in it! As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be posting my "Top Ten" snack ideas on Friday, and I'd love for you to comment and add your snack favorites, as well! Are you a crunchy, salty kind of person? Or do you prefer sweet, chewy stuff? Or, like me, does it often depend on the day? I know that there are some people who don't usually even eat snacks, but I'll share why (for weight loss purposes) snacking can actually increase your success.

After looking at the poll results, I'll be making an effort to include more of my favorite recipes as I post. I love cooking so I'm happy to share what I like to eat. I tend to be a "dump chef" of sorts, mixing and adding things to recipes and altering them when I feel like it. But I'll make sure and post recipes that I've personally tried and can confidently pass on to you. (Because there is nothing worse then trying a new recipe you saw in a magazine or read in a book and finding that, though the picture of it looks delicious, the actual taste resembles cardboard. Blech!) I'll do my best to post a variety of things, from main dishes to desserts. (Yes, there are a few healthy desserts in the world!) And as always, I'd love to hear from you. Sometimes I find cookbooks to be a little intimidating, as there are so many different choices and I'm not sure exactly what will taste good! So if we can share our favorite recipes together, we'll all benefit. :-)

Until Friday, then ~

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Musings

Well, I'm sure you've heard by now. The Health Care Reform Bill has passed both the House ans the Senate and will soon be signed into law by President Obama. Though I am NOT happy about this, my post today is not going to be about the specific policies of the bill, as I could wax eloquent (or, not so eloquent) for quite some time and that would be of no value as I cannot change anything about it by writing on this blog. :-)
Rather, I'd like to use the passage of this bill (and the ramifications that will follow) as a reminder to all of us that we need to be doing everything possible to take care our our own bodies. If we don't like the health care policies that passed, then we'd better make sure that we are doing everything in our power so that we won't need to rely on their socialist health care system!

The passage of this bill should motivate us even more to make our health and well being a top priority in our lives. I don't want to have to worry about whether or not I'll be able to see a specialist or even get an appointment scheduled with my family physician in a timely manner so that they can address my health issues. I don't want to be on prescription drugs and have to worry about the cost rising or drug rationing if I can help it! So I'm going to make smart choices, and I hope that you will, too!

Exercise has so many health get off the couch and start to experience those benefits! It dramatically reduces your risk of many common health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and so many more. I, personally, want to reduce those risks as much as possible! Especially because my extended family has a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attacks. I'm aware of that and doing my best to change that history for the better in the coming generations.

Again I say, make healthy food choices. Chuck the junk! And choose the fresh - fresh veggies and fruit, protein and breads. In my post this Friday, I'm going to share with you my current "Top Ten" snack ideas, so check back for that! Experiment with new recipes and create some family favorites of your own. Reduce the times that you spend eating out, especially at fast food restaurants. I haven't had a french fry in over two years, and I'm doing just fine. :-) Plan ahead if you're going to be away from home during meal times and pack a meal. It's not hard! You just have to think ahead. Keep fresh veggies and fruits cleaned and cut up in your fridge that you can grab when you need them. I understand - sometimes you need something really quickly! But instead of grabbing for the cookies or chips, grab the apple slices with a bit of peanut butter or carrot sticks with hummus. (Oops! I guess I won't count those ideas in my "Top Ten" now that I spilled the

And finally, remember that God is in control. Stress, anger, bitterness, fear, and worry also have very negative effects on our bodies, so don't let them overwhelm you! Spend time studying and meditating on Scripture and allows His Word to cleanse your mind. Trust Him and obey, knowing that He created our bodies and can take care of them much better than any government program could ever promise to!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Favorites...

Though I am not excited about the snow fall we received last night, it is perfect timing for this post. I've wanted to share this delicious soup recipe ever since I made it 2 weeks ago, but it seemed like a silly time to post a soup recipe because the weather was turning warmer. However, it's a perfect day to make a big batch of soup, so if you don't have a supper plan - consider making this!

Hearty Minestrone Soup

I found this recipe in a "Taste of Home" magazine and thought it looked super easy and very healthy. It also happens to be very tasty! I made a large batch, and I honestly assumed that my family wouldn't care for it because it doesn't have any meat in it and it calls for a lot of different spices. My plan was to freeze the soup and then take it out of the freezer for a quick meal, should I need one. So I was very surprised to find half of the pot of soup GONE, as I returned home one evening after making it. Turns out, my family loved it! My dad said it was so good that he hardly noticed the lack of meat. (And that is saying a lot from him, a self proclaimed "carnivore". LOL)

1 large onion
3 Tbsp E.V.O.O. (olive oil)
2 celery ribs
2 large carrots
1 C. chopped cabbage
1 medium green pepper
1 medium zucchini
6 garlic cloves
3 1/2 C. water
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can tomato puree (15 oz)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
3 tbsp parsley flakes
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 C. small pasta shells

Saute onion in oil for 2 minutes. Add the other veggies and garlic and saute for 3 minutes longer. Stir in the water, tomatoes, beans, tomato puree, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in pasta and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.

That's the recipe. And I stuck to it for the most part, but made a few changes. For example, we didn't have any garbanzo beans and I didn't think one can would be enough for me (I like beans!) so I dumped in 2 cans of kidney beans. Also, we didn't have any fresh cabbage or zucchini on hand, so I used 1/2 bag of coleslaw salad we had frozen (for the purpose of putting it in a soup some day!) and some frozen zucchini. That worked great! I'm pretty sure that I put in more carrots and celery that it called for, too. I wanted that soup to be full of veggies!
And, I added more salt than the recipe called for, and I think I dumped in more cayenne pepper, too. Basically, I would suggest that you use the recipe as a guideline and personalize the soup how your family would like it!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Please vote!

Hey ladies!

You have hopefully noticed the poll that I'm conducting for the next week or so. I put it right at the top of my page so as to capture your attention. I would love to hear from the masses (okay, the committed few!) of you who take time to read this blog because I want to make sure that I'm being an encouragement and help to you, and not just taking up your precious time by writing things you don't really care about. Make sense? Great! Then, please vote. You don't have to have a Google account to do just have to click. And you can vote for more than one thing, so pick your top two or three. Info like this will help to eliminate the mental block( "Hmmm...what should I write about?") that I often experience. And it will give me a better understanding of what kind of things are fun to read and a blessing to you.

So, exercise your right to make your voice heard - and vote!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Musings...

"Have you ever tried going on a juice fast?"

Thank you again, to Hannah, for commenting and asking that question. I appreciate your willingness to comment to encourage me and to offer some helpful information! I'm constantly amazed at how many people read this blog (there are more of you than I realize!) and am so blessed by those of you who take the time to write.

So, to answer Hannah's question. Why haven't I ever tried a juice fast? It's an easy diet, in that you don't need a lot of different meal plans or recipes. You just drink juice, veggie and fruit juice. The best way to do it is if you juice the fresh produce yourself, instead of buying juice from the store. It can be a great way to cleanse your body of toxins and boost your immune system. And because fresh produce doesn't contain many calories, your body automatically loses weight because it is forced to use up the fat stores in order to supply enough fuel for the body to function. It's an excellent question and I have a lot of respect for those who have done these types of fasts. I've seen people who have had amazing results - so why wouldn't I like to try it and get results like that?

Well, my reason is purely my opinion and it simply reflects where I am at in my spiritual journey and my physical journey right now. Though I am focusing on losing weight, at the same time, I'm not focusing on losing weight. That's a very confusing statement, so let me explain. I want my body to be pleasing to the Lord. I want to be in good physical shape and I want to treat my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. I don't want anything about my flesh to hinder me from the work He has for me to do. I'm striving to get to a place where my weight is healthy, that I'm not putting myself at risk for certain ailments caused by excess amounts of fat on the body. In short, I want to be directing people to Christ with all that I am, including my physical health. This goal is important to me, and though I'm not striving for the "perfect body" (which doesn't exist anyway) I am striving to be healthy. For me, that means losing about 20 more pounds.

But even more than losing weight, this is a spiritual journey. Since day one, the Lord has been working on my heart, exposing my sin and wrong thinking about Him, about food, about my body, about pride, and so many other things. And in His eyes, my spiritual growth is the most important thing. At the end of the day and in light of eternity, my weight doesn't matter. And recently, He's been showing me (again!) that if my heart is right before Him, everything else will fall into place - including my weight. If I'm abiding in His presence, I'm not going to fall prey to emotional eating, because my emotions are surrendered to Him and under the Spirit's control. If I'm seeking Him with my whole heart, I'm going to work hard in everything and be disciplined in exercising and correctly dealing with stress.
My eyes keep getting off track, and the Lord has been faithfully reminding me -"Bekah, I AM THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS!!!" It's not a specific diet or exercise regimen. IT'S ME!". And right now, I need to "let go and let God". I'm seeking to use the knowledge He's given me to make the right choices and stop stressing about the number that pops up on the scale. Because of that, I'm not looking to go on any diets or fasts right now. The Lord is challenging me to live my daily life and glorify Him in that. To move past the cravings and into His arms!

So, please don't think that I am against juice fasts! I'm not, and I may do one someday. But right now, it's not for me. I've got work to do in surrendering my daily food choices and habits, and it would be easier for me to "deny myself" certain foods and just stick to juice. I could do that. It would be tough ('cause last time I checked, chocolate isn't from a but I know myself well enough to realize that I need to get my flesh submitting to the Spirit in the daily things. Because once I would go off of the juice fast, I might be 5 pounds lighter, but I'll pack them right back on if I can't get my day-to-day living under control.

I hope that makes some sense! And I'm glad you asked, Hannah. To be honest, I'd recently been thinking about doing something like that....until the Lord showed me that I was looking for the "easy way out".

And again, this is different for everyone! If the Lord speaks to you and asks you to do a juice fast, them be obedient and do it. But He's pushed the "hold" button for me on that right now.

I'll conclude with some passages from Romans chapter 8 that have been ministering to me these past few weeks. Praise the Lord for His written word!
"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit"........"For all who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God"....."Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.".........."No, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

Finding Him faithful,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Favorites...

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you've had a wonderful week. The reason for the lack of posts this past week is because I was out of town, soaking up the warm sunshine in Missouri. It only took me about a day to realize that I didn't need to wear my winter coat while we were down there, and being out in the fresh air was energizing. I simply can't wait for spring to arrive!

While in Missouri, I was reminded of how fun it is to go roller skating. And because I had such a wonderful time, my favorite thing this week is roller skating! My two sisters (Hannah and Leah) and I were in MO for a Bible Quizzing tournament, and once the quizzing was over for the weekend, everyone headed over to the rink for some more fun and fellowship. I hadn't gone roller skating in years, and it took me a few minutes to remember the technique of how to stay upright (I only slipped but after that, I took off - and there was no stopping me! It was so enjoyable, and a different kind of exercise than my normal routine. I actually worked up a sweat after roller skating for two hours! And now, I'm hooked. I might even try to get over to our local roller rink sometime soon. I wish that I had some pictures that I could upload, but the lighting was so awful that our pictures wouldn't turn out.

Even though it was a great trip, it was still kind of tough. I hardly got any exercise that whole week, and during the days of quizzing it's just a lot of sitting. So, I tried to stand and walk whenever possible....always took the stairs...and drank a lot of water. That's why I was so excited to go roller skating! I was able to get up and moving for 2 hours, and it felt great.
But our eating schedule was different, and we had to eat out twice a day. I made the smartest choices that I could and ate until satisfied, which was the only way to keep from completely falling off course. After spending a few days with new friends and eating out with them, one commented, "Wow, you sure like salads!".

I'm doing my best to reach my 5 pound weight loss goal for this month, and I'm really hoping that week off doesn't screw things up. I've managed to exercise every day this week, even getting up at 5:30am one morning so that I could fit it in before the busyness of the day began. I'm trying hard! And boy, I can tell. Just a few sore muscles right now...which means it's working. *smile*

Smiling because of Him,

P.S. Hannah, thanks for commenting! I'm planning to post an answer on Monday. :-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Musings...

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! (drum roll, please)

Well, okay. It's at least the moment that I've been waiting for (and yet, also dreading). My month long challenge is over, and I weighed in this earlier this morning. It took me awhile to force my eyes to open up and look down at the red number on the scale, but once I did, I was genuinely pleased. Though I did not reach my "crazy goal" of losing 10 pounds this month, I did lose 4 pounds. And I was very happy with that! A pound a week isn't bad at all.

February was a good month, but it had it's share of bumps along the way. Some days I felt very motivated to exercise, other days I didn't. Some days I felt full and satisfied, other days it seemed that I was constantly hungry. But I loved having this goal in front of me, and it was very motivating to know that I'd be reporting my weight loss to all of you at the end of the month!

And because of that, I've decided to make another goal. This time, for the month of March. It will be slightly different this time, because I'm not going to make it so outrageous. But it will still be challenging, especially as I've taken a temporary job (8 weeks, 15 hours a week) and finding time to exercise will be slightly more difficult. I'm going to have to get creative, and most likely, I'm going to have to wake up earlier in the morning to get my exercising done. That doesn't sound very fun to me, but I know that it will be worth it!

This month, my goal is to lose 5 pounds. I think that I can do it, and I'm going to work hard to achieve it! My mom and I were discussing recently how I've gained about 10 pounds back this winter, and that has been very discouraging to me. I believe this is because I'm not nearly as active throughout the day, like I am in the spring and summer when the weather outside in nice. So naturally, it's easy to pack on extra pounds. That's why I'm trying to force myself to be more motivated and conscience about the decisions that I make every day. And I think that making small, reasonable goals (and working hard to achieve them!) will help me get this extra "winter insulation" off.

So, here I go again! I've got a goal to work toward.....and lots of work to do. I'm rejoicing in what I was able to accomplish this past month and hoping for great things upcoming month.

Happy March! (And Happy 20 days till spring!)