Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Favorites...

We've had quite a few days of lovely spring weather here recently (sometimes even downright hot weather!), which has prompted me to pull out my spring/summer clothes that have been packed away.

I was a little hesitant to make the switch in clothing, simply because I knew that with the weight I'd gained back this winter, the clothes were either going to be tight or not even fit at all. And that was a rather depressing thought! I wanted to ignore that fact, but it was time for me to just face reality and keep moving in the direction to change! From what I've tried on so far, all of the blouses and tops still fit (which is a blessing, because I really like them!). And I expected that they would, because, being a "pear" - the weight heads south, if ya know what I mean. :-)

But as I suspected, the Capri's, shorts, and skirts are tight in the rear-end. The only blessing I've discovered so far is that after digging through my bucket of clothes, I realized that need new Capri's anyway. So I decided to head into Kohls one afternoon and see if I could find a nice pair. Little did I know what a discouraging afternoon that would be!

I knew the style that I wanted and after grabbing a few different brands, I went into the dressing room to try them on. One after the other, I threw them into the "reject" pile as they all had different "weak points". Too tight in the thighs....too much room in the waist....not long enough....they don't sit right on my hips...too tight in the rear....etc. I was in the store for over an hour, and I'd guess that I tried on at least 8 different brands and 15 different pairs...but nothing worked. I felt like I must have the most unique body of everyone! Which normally brought comfort and appreciation, but that day brought frustration.

It was hard not to walk out of the store feeling down, with doubts swimming in my head. Not only was shopping not enjoyable, it was like a constant reminder screaming, "You've gained weight! You've gained weight! Nothing fits! You've failed!".

Now, at this point, you must be thinking, "Uh, did she forget that she was supposed to post about a favorite thing? I was hoping for another recipe. This is kinda depressing to read..." But don't bail out on me yet! My favorite thing is coming up soon. :-)

As I sat in the car and pulled away from Kohls, I was just praying that the Lord would bring a verse to mind that would encourage me and that He would help me to focus on Him instead of the thoughts of defeat. Because at that point, I was ready to go have a good cry somewhere! And He was so faithful to bring not just one verse, but a whole host of verses to mind. Snippets of Scripture like "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us", "I have loved you with an everlasting love", " My grace is sufficient for you and my power is made perfect in your weaknesses", "you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons", etc. And the Lord gently reminded me just because I couldn't find Capri's that day doesn't mean that I should "throw in the towel" and give into defeat. He is to be the source of my joy, my fulfillment, my security, my everything. I should not be looking to Capri's to make me happy! (Which sounds ridiculous even as I type that, but I think we do that in all different areas of our lives.) I was challenged as I realized how often I let "superficial things" determine my thoughts and emotions, which in turn determines my moods and actions. I mean, seriously - so what if the Capri's didn't fit! Was I going to allow that to steal my joy and my motivation?
By God's grace, I decided that I wasn't going to let that day be marked with defeat, but that I was going to continue walking in His strength and move on, let it go. I needed to raise a flag of surrender, but not to the store - to Christ!

So, while my attitude improved, I still had a huge hole in my wardrobe that I knew I needed to fill up pretty quickly. I decided to just make plans to head to another store as soon as it worked into my schedule and just trust the Lord about the whole thing. Well, have you noticed how the Lord loves to surprise and bless His children? I was so excited yesterday as I saw Him doing that for me.

My family was in Des Moines yesterday for a Bible Quizzing competition, and after we finished up that day, my Mom decided that we would go to Bass Pro Shop and let my little sisters have some fun looking at all of the "stuffed animals". (lol )So, we went in and the little girls absolutely loved looking around at all the different animals they have on display, especially the talking moose head. :-) And as we walked in, I noticed that they had a rather large selection of very nice women's clothing and I saw a pair of Capri's that looked really comfy and cute. So I asked Mom if it would be all right to look around a bit, and after getting the "go ahead" from her, Hannah (my resident fashion expert) and I went through the racks. And would you believe it? I walked out of that store with 2 pairs of darling, comfy Capri's and 1 pair of shorts! From the Bass Pro Shop! I've never been to that store in my life and had no idea that they sold clothes, but my Father in heaven knew, and He orchestrated our schedule so that I would be there on that day and would be able to get what I needed. I don't deserve His blessings (none of us do) but I'm so thankful that we serve a God who desires to be intimately involved in our lives and who blesses us even though we don't deserve it.

And that's my favorite thing this week - that our Lord looks past who we are and what size of clothes we wear and chooses to love and bless us even in the midst of our struggles and doubts. The Scripture says to, "Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you", and I praise the Lord for how He demonstrated that so clearly to me this week. I'd encourage you all to be fervent in "casting" and leave the "caring" to Him, because I think that we often do the exact opposite. We begin "caring" and worrying about our problems and try "casting" them to whoever or whatever we think can fix them, instead of simply "casting" them to Christ and leaving the results in His hands.
It's yet another lesson the Lord has be teaching me through this clothing experience. Oh, and I also learned one other valuable piece of information - don't judge a store by it's might just get surprised!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Attack of the Crocodile...

Avalon and Bethany

What do 3 energetic little girls, 2 older sisters, a hula hoop and a beautiful spring evening have in common? The crocodile game!!!!!

Last night, Rachel and I were in charge of entertaining the munchkins as the rest of the family cleaned up after supper. Avalon, Bethany, and our 18 month old foster baby girl were eager to play outside, so we headed out to the swing set. It was a beautiful night (though rather windy, but when you live in the country - you get used to it) and after playing for about 20 minutes we were all getting a little bored. So, I decided to come up with a creative way to play! I grabbed the hula hoop and threw it as far as I could, which prompted the girls to all chase after it and see who could run the fastest and grab it first. "Hey, this might work out nicely", I thought. "What kind of game could I come up with using this hula hoop? There's only one, and I don't want to have the girls fighting over it...hmmm".

And then it hit me! The girls love to play games where they are being chased, especially when they have to run for their lives from a ferocious bear, lion, tiger, etc (aka a big sister!). So, I called the girls over to me and told them that we were going to play "the crocodile game". Their little eyes grew big and they excitedly said, "Okay!!!!". I told them the simple rules I had made up: I would be the "crocodile" and they were little fish. I was pretending that I wanted to catch and eat the little fish and the only way they could stay safe was if they ran to the hula hoop (which was lying on the ground) and jumped inside the circle. Every once in awhile, I'd run over and grab the hula hoop and throw it again, so they were forced to keep running around. It worked brilliantly! The air was soon filled with the most convincing crocodile noises you've ever heard ( they make noises? Well, I decided that crocodiles must grunt and added to the "scariness"). And the girls were screaming and giggling, running around our spacious "front lawn" and working together to keep the scary crocodile away from them.

It was fun, and before I knew it, I was getting a little sweaty. Nothing like a good cardio workout before bedtime. If only burning calories could be so easy and enjoyable all of the time! Running around in the grass is significantly harder than on a hard surface. (At least, I think so!) But in the excitement of the game, I forgot that I was actually running and getting exercise. I was just playing with my little sisters...something that I wouldn't have been able to do 2 years ago. When we had to go inside about 30 minutes later, I felt great - not tired at all. We could have kept playing for another hour! And that was encouraging. Sometimes when it feels like the scale just keeps showing me what I don't want to see, it's good to remember how far the Lord has brought me and all the progress that I have made. I can do things that I never would have been able to do before! My life has been changed. And now, instead of sitting on the grass and watching, I can be the big, scary crocodile and make memories alongside my sisters. And that is true success!

Growl! (Or, whatever crocodiles sounds like....) ~Bekah

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Musings...

Have you ever been bit with the "Monday morning blahs"? Well, I woke up with a pretty severe case this morning. You might recognize the symptoms - irritability, a desire to live in denial (of the alarm clock going off!), tiredness (from staying up too late), feelings of despair (Will I ever learn?), and an overall grumpy demeanor. I didn't exactly feel like springing out of bed, especially because of what was the first thing on my schedule...exercise.

But, by God's grace, I sat up in bed, said a quick prayer for strength to do the right thing, and lay down and went back to sleep. Just kidding! :-) That's what I wanted to do, but I gathered up my things and quietly crept downstairs. It was was cold...(which are the perfect conditions for...well, what do you know?...SLEEPING!) and I didn't exactly feel like being there. However, I got changed, grabbed a glass of water and threw on my shoes, and stuck in the DVD. I knew there was no way that I'd be able to get on the treadmill this morning - I had no motivation at all! I needed someone to tell me exactly what to do, so I grabbed a difficult exercise DVD and had at it. I decided to just do it and get it over with. My attitude still hadn't improved much, but I was up and moving and focusing on more important not passing (I've even been known to yell back at the trainer when they start down their "You can do it!" encouragement pep talks. This usually happens when I'm having a grumpy morning. Some days, I need to hear their encouraging words and appreciate it. But on days like today....I let them know, in no uncertain terms, that I do not wish to hear their encouragement and would like to see them actually doing the exercises with me. That would keep 'em quiet. Anyway, yes, I realize they can't hear me and that I'm just making sarcastic comments to the TV. But I like to pretend that they can. It's emotionally freeing, okay?)

So, I got through it this morning but my heart wasn't in it at all. I wanted to be anywhere but in the living room! And while I was in the shower after I finished, I was reminded of a verse that is quoted often and is one that I was taught as a young child, and a verse that I needed to apply to my life at that moment. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God". It was very obvious to me that I had not been "doing" for the glory of God this morning. I'd been "doing" for myself, which is why I was so grumpy and lacked motivation. When I look at doing a task for the purpose of glorifying God, my whole outlook changes. I would have pushed harder this morning and not given up so easily if I would have remembered that by dying to my flesh, I'm allowing Christ to have more control over my life, which results in God's glory. I needed to get my mind off of the fact that I was tired and focus on the fact that Jesus is my strength and that in His presence is fullness of joy!

I asked the Lord to forgive me for wasting a morning that He had made for me to love and serve Him by being a GIB (Grumpy, Irritable Blonde) and began to meditate on Scripture and simply focus on my Savior. It takes a conscience choice to do that! It doesn't just happen. There are so many different things that call for our attention, especially when we're getting up and ready for the day. But I'd encourage you - don't waste your time just "going through the motions". Make the most of the time that the Lord gives you! Don't be a GIB! (Blonde, brunette, black haired) or a GIR (redhead)!

Doing an "about-face" ~


Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Favorites...

It was time for a change...hope you like the new background! Those of you who know me will understand that I couldn't stay away from purple for too long. :-)

This week, I decided to post another recipe that became a instant favorite with my family. "Branana Bread" was easy to make and easy to eat! We doubled the recipe and devoured it in just a few days. Being a "sneaky chef", I love how it has bran and flaxseed mixed in, but my family couldn't tell. (Success!!!!) It brings a unique twist to regular banana bread and has been slightly altered to aid those of us who are calorie conscience. :-) Here is the recipe so you can give it a try:

Moist and delicious chocolate-chip banana bread with bran and flax.

Makes 1 large loaf, 16 pieces (Cut loaf into 8 thick slices and then cut each slice in half)

Per slice: 174 calories, 6.2 g total fat (1.8 g saturated fat), 6 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fiber, 31 mg cholesterol, 159 mg sodium

2 cups Robin Hood Nutri-Flour Blend (or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour mixed with 1/2 cup wheat bran)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup ground flaxseed or flaxmeal
1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups mashed RIPE bananas
3/4 cup plain yogurt (2%)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
2.In a large bowl, combine flour, ground flax, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
3.In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips, being careful not to overmix the batter.
4.Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Slice and serve or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
5.Tip: The bananas must be very, very ripe (sweet!) for this banana bread as there’s very little added sugar.

Now, I changed the recipe just a bit by using coconut oil instead of butter, unrefined sugar instead of white, whole wheat flour, and I dumped a generous amount of flax seed in. And it tasted great!

For those of you who are watching your calories (like me!) let me warn you that I would only advise you to make this if there are other people in the house to help you eat it. Otherwise, I know you'll be tempted to consume WAY too much of this. Most weight loss programs advise people to stay away from "baked goods", because of the higher calories per serving - you can't eat as much as you'd like. (One little piece of bread doesn't seem like it holds many calories, but it does!) So if baked goods are big a temptation for you, I'd suggest either:
-make a batch of this, cut it into single slice servings and then freeze them. That way, you can pull out a single piece at a time and not be tempted when staring at a whole loaf of the bread.
-make the batch and share it with family, friends, neighbors, etc
-or...just skip this all together! Yummy recipe, but would you rather shrink your waist size or eat a loaf of branana bread? That is the question. :-)

You see, I have found this out the hard way several times. Baked goods are a huge temptation for me! Especially when they are healthy baked goods, full of good fats and whole wheat. It's easy to think, "This is so healthy! How can it be wrong to eat some?" But the truth is -eating too much of anything is not good for our bodies. Whether it's branana bread or carrots, it doesn't matter! Our stomach wasn't designed to stretch out of proportion just so that we can satisfy our taste buds and the lust of our eyes. (Preaching to myself here!)

Anyway, if you want to practice self control - make yourself a batch and PRAY! LOL Otherwise, don't set yourself up for failure. Make a batch and freeze it or share it.

Have a great weekend everyone ~ Bekah

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sneak Peek

*This is an excerpt from a section of my book that I've been working on the past few weeks, and I decided that instead of thinking up something new to post, I'd just give you a sneak peek. This snippet picks up in the middle of a chapter, but I didn't want to post the whole thing. Again, this is a very, very, very ROUGH draft...but any thoughts would be appreciated. :-)*

Finally, at age 15, I was frustrated enough with how I looked, that I pushed aside my pride and asked for some help. I had reached a point of desperation and I decided that I wanted to do something about my weight. My mom knew exactly what I was going through, as she has struggled with her weight in her adult years, as well. And I think that having family members who are also overweight took away some of the shame and embarrassment that I might have experienced. I’m not the only one in my family who has struggled with weight. In fact, I come from a long line of large women. My family history most definitely played a part in my weight issue, by giving me a slower metabolism and a body type that stores most of my fat in my hips and derriere. But I knew that I couldn’t simply blame my size on my genetics. I was the one who ate too much, the one who didn’t like to exercise, and the one who made unhealthy choices over and over again. My genetics had nothing to do with that.

After listening to me pour out my frustrations and honest feelings about my weight, my mom suggested that we go and visit a dietician together. She hoped that I would be able to ask questions and acquire valuable information about nutrition and healthy living in general, and that I would be able to apply that knowledge to my every day life. I wasn’t opposed to the idea (though I thought it would be rather embarrassing and prayed that none of my friends would find out!) and so she set up an appointment for me that spring.
As we walked into the office, I remember thinking that it looked rather uninviting. With white walls and few pieces of artwork, it appeared “sterile” and “professional”, not a place where I felt comfortable discussing personal matters. “This place needs some color, some life.”, I decided. “I hope the dietician is more interesting than this room!”.
When my name was called, my mom and I went into a tiny, white room with the tiny, white dietician (sorry, couldn’t resist!) and sat down. I remember that our knees were touching because the space was so small, and I thought it rather dumb that the had such small rooms when they spend most of their day counseling large, overweight people! Anyway, after exchanging pleasantries, the dietician looked at me and asked me why I had come. “Isn’t it obvious?”, I thought, and it was all I could do to restrain my tongue from speaking any of the sarcastic remarks that flooded my mind. But I simply responded that I wanted to lose weight and hoped that she could give me some information about how to do that. I explained that I knew the basics of nutrition (my parents were faithful to pass on that information to me!) but I didn’t know how to apply that knowledge and lose weight.
So, for the next 30 minutes, the dietician discussed with me how to make healthy meal choices, the appropriate amount of food to eat at each meal, and how to incorporate this information into my every day life. She was a very nice, understanding women and did give me a lot of good information. She also encouraged me to get more exercise and to find something active that I enjoyed doing. I made a goal to exercise for 30 minutes every day, and to keep track of what I was eating each meal by using a chart that helped me to choose foods that would comprise a balanced meal. I can recall looking at her “play food” that was to represent portion sizes and thinking, “I usually eat 2 to 3 times that amount! Could I really eat that little and feel satisfied?“ But she assured me that as I changed my habits, my body would also change and get used to eating that amount.
As I expected, the most uncomfortable part of the visit was when she asked me to step on the scale. I remember feeling my cheeks flush and turn bright red as the dietician told me that my weight was 218 pounds, enough to put me in the “very obese” category. “I’m 15 years old!”, I was thinking. “How can I be this fat?”. Needless to say, I was beyond embarrassed. I was horrified and overwhelmed. She encouraged me that I was doing the right thing by coming to see her, that I was taking the first step in my journey of becoming more healthy. I had a graph to chart my progress when I weighed in every week. We decided on another goal that I would lose 5 pounds by the time of our next appointment (5 weeks later) and I left the office feeling excited about beginning this program. Knowledge is power, and I felt like I had the keys to success in my hands as we walked out to the car that day.

My mom and I had a great talk as we drove home, and she committed to helping me in whatever way I needed it. Having taught classes at our church on weight loss before, she was a wealth of information for me and answered a lot of my questions. We talked about how to arrange my schedule to allow me to spend some time exercising each day, and she said that she’d do her best to serve balanced, healthy meals. I had a huge support system in my family, but my mom became my biggest cheerleader and my own personal coach. (And she still is to this day!)

For the next 2 weeks, I was motivated and enthusiastic about meeting this new goal of losing weight. I faithfully went outside and took walks, or ran short (very short) distances in the afternoons. I really had no idea how to exercise effectively, but I would often grab my mom’s pea green 3 pound weights and go up to my bedroom to work out. I performed mostly simple arm exercises and stretches, with a few jumping jacks thrown in. But for me, it wasn’t the intensity of the work that matter. Just the fact that I was faithful in doing some exercise was a great accomplishment.

And I started seeing results. My clothes began to fit a little better. I was able to squeeze back into a dress that was becoming too tight to wear. I was making progress, and I was thrilled. I could tell that my arms did have muscles in them and that my legs were stronger than I thought. Those first 2 weeks were great.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Favorites...

I've been so excited this past week, as I've been able to try out several new recipes that I've come across. Most of them I copied from a "Taste of Home" magazine that I was browsing through will sitting here at the library. I've made 3 different recipes and have enjoyed them all! They are all simple, yummy, and healthy. (Which also happen to be my top three criteria for recipes!) Today, I'm going to share with you a "Barley and Bean" salad that I made last night. It was great! Super easy to throw together, and full of protein and fiber. (As a side note, I'll tell you that my family didn't necessarily care for the full "olive oil" flavor, and if you aren't quite accustomed to it either, you may want to add more of the seasonings or just not put quite as much olive oil in. )

Bean and Barley Salad
3/4 C. quick cooking barley
1 Can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 Can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 large sweet red pepper, finely chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1/3 C. fresh cilantro
3/4 C. olive oil
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. pepper
Prepare barley according to package instructions. Transfer to large bowl; stir in beans, corn, red pepper, onion, and cilantro. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Chill before serving! Yummy to eat with pita chips.
Give it a try and tell me what you think!