two

My dear Littlest,

Happy second birthday, Baby Boy. I simply cannot believe two years have passed since you were born and yet, it’s also like you’ve always been here. Probably because you bring about a sense of completeness.

When you were born, I wrote some notes to you. One of them was “I wish you knew that I love our time together so far, but things are about to get loud and crazy around here. But it’s a good crazy and with time, you’ll adjust to the noise. You complete us, sweet baby boy. And, we are so in love.”

I think now you do know how much I love our time together.

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Now I know that you are the third born of three boys because you thrive on the loud and crazy. You are in your element when things are loud and crazy. Me, not so much. But you have certainly helped me to learn to smile amidst the chaos.

You do complete us, and we are still in love, and always will be.

I love to watch you sleep, because I know that all day long you have been busy and need to rest. Though, true to your personality, you keep moving even while you are sleeping. I lay you down at bedtime only to find your head on the opposite side of the crib from where I laid you down.

You love to snuggle with your stuffed puppy at night, you are particular about having a pillow and your blanket just-so. We sing the “ABC’s” and “Jesus Loves Me” while you are being changed in to jammies. When I finish you always clap and give an enthusiastic “yay!” When I lay you down at night we sing your prayer, you tuck your puppy underneath your left arm, your sippy cup under your right arm, and then you squeeze your eyes shut and grin from ear-to-ear while you pretend you are asleep. And then, you open your eyes, and in your sweet voice tell me “nigh, nigh!” and blow me a kiss with a teeny tiny little giggle sandwiched in between your lips and your chubby hand.

You love the bathtub. But you don’t stay on your bottom, of course.

You love the outdoors. But your temper exposes itself when it’s time to come inside.

You adore your big brothers. But you poke them in the eyes and pull their hair.

You have a way about you that is passionate. You are not often indifferent and make your opinions known. You are very aware of your ability to make us laugh, and do so frequently. You are sweet and yet feisty! You are happy and content and yet a fireball.

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I often pick you up, snuggle my nose in to your cheeks, and say “my sweet baby boy”. I want you to be my baby forever, and yet I know that God has intense plans for you and I have to let you grow in to a warrior for His kingdom. I know how much changes between birthday two and birthday three, so if you could please continue to snuggle your head right into the crook of my neck just a few more times this next year, I sure would be grateful.

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words

Have you listened to the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson? Not just heard the song, but really listened to the lyrics? The other day this song was on the radio in our vehicle and The Oldest asked me, “is he singing about talking about Jesus?” I replied, “Yes, but in general about using words that glorify God, point others toward Jesus, and build others up.”

The Oldest pondered this for a short time and said, “So, like, in art class I should say, ‘my project looks terrible’ because then my friends would feel better about their projects?'”

“No, sweetheart, you never need to speak poorly of your work to build others up, you simply need to encourage others while focusing on doing the best work that you can do. You need to use kind words about your own work, and your classmates.”

The conversation continued for a few moments more, and I was encouraged at how deeply The Oldest seemed to allow the lyrics of this song to resonate and touch his heart. This prompted me to spend more time truly listening to these lyrics and realizing that I, too, need to be so often reminded to use words to point my children, and others, to the cross of Jesus. If I truly lived by the lyric “I don’t want to say a word unless it points the world back to [Jesus]”, I’m sure I would be much quieter during my day, and much more peaceful. In fact, the scriptures guide us in that direction:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:29 ESV

In the notes “good for building up” is defined as: a Christian’s speech should be instructive, encouraging ,uplifting (even when it must be corrective), and suited for the moment [The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1764]

It is important to speak truth in to other’s lives, “that it may give grace to those who hear” is defined as: “because believers have been saved by grace, they should live and speak with grace.” [p. 1764]

I am convicted to be more intentional not only with my boys and with friends and family,  and people in general, but also with myself. The lyrics “[words can] start a fire in our hearts or put it out” are very striking to me. I tend to become very excited and passionate about an idea and quickly talk myself out of it, that someone else is better or that the idea has already been done. I intend to start focusing on using words that speak truth with grace. To myself. To my boys. To my family. To my friends. And to each person that is put in my path each day.

Take a few quiet moments and listen to this song. It’s worth it. Thank you, to my six-year-old, for causing me to pause in the chaos and cause this song to turn into a prayer.

currently…

Hitting a bit of a writer’s block, lately. I have several ideas for blog posts and when I sit down at the keyboard I feel overwhelmed with what I want to share and how… I thought it would be fun to use a “currently…” list in hopes of a fun and light-hearted post! I am currently…

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  • reading: I just finished “Restless” by Jennie Allen and I cannot say enough about it. I am FIRED UP from this book. There are several journaling prompts that I skipped over in my desire to devour the pages. I am going to be starting the journaling this week. I know, just know, that God’s going to do something unexpected and good through this.
  • listening: my workout Pandora station is set to a Meghan Trainor/Pitch Perfect mix; my “everyday” Pandora station is set to the Hillsong United station. Song obsessions of the moment: “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Batistelli, “Shoulders” by For King & Country, and “Drops in the Ocean” by Hawk Nelson.
  • eating: similar to song obsessions, I also go through food obsessions and put food on repeat. Food obsessions of the moment: stevia sweetened egg whites with 1/2 banana + 1/3 cup blueberries, chicken sausage with apple + gouda, Quaker Popped in the Tangy Ranch flavor[they’re no Dorito, but so much friendlier to the hips and equally as difficult to put down], and chocolate chip cookie dough Quest bars.
  • drinking: a lot of water. I always try to fit in one gallon [128 oz] each day. To keep it interesting, I purchased the SweetLeaf Water Drops [naturally sweetened with stevia] and use that for about 20 oz. of water each day. I also drink one lime LaCroix each day with a drop of Grapefruit essential oil. Ocassionally, I add lemon essential oil to my water.
  • wearing: leggings, basically everyday [current favorite pair are Reebok | similar]. Yes. I am one of those people. Judge me. And I am obsessed with my black Nikes and white Converse. I also found this amazing sweatshirt at TJ Maxx.
  • feeling: a wee bit envious. The Middlest is having the time of his life in Florida, this week. The Oldest is off to “Man-cation” with Dad and they get to canoe, fire build, fish, do archery, and camp out – my jam – but I guess I don’t qualify for “Man-cation” ha!  But, with that said, I’m really looking forward to my quiet house and indulging in a bit of ice cream, tonight.
  • weather: absolutely clear skies and 59 degrees – basically perfection.
  • wanting: a cheeseburger and fries, specifically from Red Robin; a Chick-Fil-A grilled Chicken sandwich, and Cadbury Candy Coated Mini Eggs. Do we sense a theme? I have been very diligent this week in tracking calories/macros and the cravings are fierce. We are also challenging ourselves to a “no spend” month, and not purchasing anything we don’t “need” like restaurant food.
  • needing: to do laundry. Like a boss.
  • thinking: that as much as I am craving that food above, I am feeling really darn GOOD, mentally and physically, with what I have eaten this week.
  • enjoying: any quiet time that I am able to squeeze out of the day.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with sunshine, activity, and some quiet rest! xoxo

thirty-two

I have been wanting to type up a formal introductory / about me post for quite some time now, as my blog shifts in to that of a lifestyle blog. As my 32nd birthday came to pass last month, it was a great time for reflection on my fitness journey and how it has changed tremendously over the last year.

In March of 2014 (coincidentally, my 31st birthday) I set out to run a 25K race (a 15.5 mile race, partially roads, mostly trail that particular race). It had been a brutal winter, weather wise. Through the course of the late autumn and winter seasons, I woke up a few times per week, layered up, and then layered up again, to put miles on the pavement to train.

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[photo above, obviously, pre-race, ha!]
After having three babies in four years, I desired to feel strong again, and be confident in my body image. Putting those layers on and running in temperatures that many times were darn near 0° F made me feel like I was strong. But truth be told, I was weak. I was eating way too much sugar during each day, probably way too much fried food, and my body did not feel physically strong to me and jiggled in too many places, and created a negative body image. And it just wouldn’t go away. I knew my heart and lungs were becoming stronger because of the training, but my mentality and my body weren’t.

Approximately nine or ten miles into the race, my mental game completely crumbled. I stopped at the top of an intense hill and gave myself about thirty seconds to let out an ugly cry and decide if I would keep going, or not. I decided not. Right in that moment I decided that I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself and I wanted nothing more to do with that particular challenge. I made it to the upcoming aid station, handed a race official my bib, and burst in to tears. I think that they were tears of relief, more than anything. I realized during that race that ultra-running is not “my thing”.

I started lifting that month. On a good week, I was able to find motivation to get to the gym three to four times a week and head outside for the occasional three mile run, or so. There were some not-so-good weeks, too. Weeks with one or two workouts. But, I was seeing progress. My body was feeling and looking stronger little by little. With each lift session, I was becoming stronger physically and mentally.

When I handed my bib in on that sunny, but chilly, March day, I made a commitment to ME, that I would go in to the gym and move heavy things. Heavier than the last time or one more rep than yesterday. My commitment to train three to four times a week turned in to five days per week and then six days per week, with a day to allow my body to rest and recover.

A full year later, I look stronger, and I feel stronger. I don’t care what size my pants are. The “mush” is turning to muscle mass, and I am finally running faster during cardio workouts.

I have become more aware of my food choices. I am making choices that help me recover from today’s workout, and better fuel tomorrow’s, all while allowing myself occasional indulgences and refusing to restrict any certain type of food. I didn’t (don’t) do a fad diet. I didn’t go carb free. I’m not on a juice cleanse, and there’s no such thing as #whole30 in my vocabulary.

What I am doing is getting OUT OF BED EARLY and choosing dumbbells over my pillow. I am lifting all the heavy things (well, heavy-to-me things). I am making sure I make healthy choices to promote health and muscle growth, and I am listening to my body when I have cravings.

I have a long way to go. But I am confident that I will get there and that this is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. And, I don’t get these workouts in because I am a stay-at-home-mom. I get them in because I get up at 4:00 AM. [I wrote more on how I stay motivated to keep up this habit, here.]

I find my motivation in being better than me. Better today than I was yesterday. I find my motivation in three boys. Three boys. I cannot take it lightly that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to give me these three boys to raise in to young men. In to warriors for his army. If I am going to keep up, and ENJOY keeping up, I need to be strong while I am able. This body God has given is a temple, and right now, it is disease and handicap free and I am going to be a steward of that incredible blessing.

side note: while this is not a post about running or trail-racing, I can say that the shoes I used for training were fabulous “door to trail” shoes [by that I mean, you can run on pavement or trail]; Salomon Women’s XR Mission W Trail Running Shoe.

consistent workouts | how I fit them in

With three young children at home, I can confidently attest to the fact that fitting in a workout can be difficult [especially when it is C-O-L-D]. Before I had children, I worked in a career that demanded long hours, there again, I can attest to the fact that fitting in a workout can be difficult. It has taken me a long LONG time to realize -or at least- make a habit of getting out of bed early in order to fit my workout in. Early is my time.

Choose the your time.

I rise at 4 AM Monday – Friday to get my workouts in. For several reasons: I am sure to be done with my workout before The Three Boys are awake, ensuring that my husband can sleep while I am at the gym; I am home in time for my husband to leave for work early if needed; and because our gym is small and I like to avoid having to share the squat rack.

I have not always been consistently waking up that early five days a week. However, I have come to realize this past year that it is the time that works, for me. If you are trying to change/develop consistent habits, find the time of the day that works for you and stick to it. Just stick to it. It is a part of your day, and it is an important part of your day. Maybe workout out at 9 PM would be your thing. Perhaps working out from home while the kiddos nap. Over your lunch hour?

I don’t go to bed super early, either. I shoot for no later than 10 PM and have found that I function just as well on six hours of sleep as I do on eight. In fact, I would say that I have an easier time rolling out from underneath the covers after six hours than eight. Eight hours leaves me pining for just a few more, ha!

Force the habit.

Excuses used to come very easily to me, for reasons not to work out early. I had to cut them out. The Three Boys sleep well at night and my six hours usually go uninterrupted. Occasionally The Littlest will wake up at 3:30 and need comforted, and at that point I will just stay up and go to the gym. After forcing the habit for nearly a year, now, if I wake up and think “I am just going to skip today” I end up feeling guilty and finding all of the reasons I need to lift rather than sleep. That is an accomplished feeling.

With that said, there are certainly nights that I choose sleep versus rising early [middle of the night laying awake for two hours, anyone?] -or- the onset of a head cold, etc. There are HUNDREDS of exercises that you can do from home that don’t require equipment, noise, jumping around, or DVDs [I am planning a post on this topic, specifically]. Speaking of DVDs, though. I am a loyal fan of the Shaun T’s FOCUS T25 series. It is a great high intensity interval training, and is focused for just twenty-five minutes. I tell myself, it is just twenty-five minutes. I waste at least that much time on social media each day, you too? There is just no reason not to get it done.

Find your why.

My why is STRENGTH. I will share more of my story in an upcoming post, but for the purposes of this post I will keep my “why” short. Strong makes me feel good mentally and physically. I find my motivation in being better than me. Better today than I was yesterday. I find my motivation in my three boys. Three boys. I cannot take it lightly that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to give me these three boys to raise in to young men. In to warriors for His army. If I am going to keep up, and ENJOY keeping up, I need to be strong while I am able. This body God has given is a temple, and right now, it is disease and handicap free and I am going to be a steward of that incredible blessing.

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a bit about the fitbit

I have had several inquiries about my Fitbit recently, so I thought I would share a bit about it here << see what I did there? >>

There are several different models of the Fitbit, in a range of prices, and I would suggest that before making a purchase you evaluate your motive/need for a fitbit [more on this below].

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 3.00.11 PM[screen shot via fitbit.com]

“Do you love your fitbit?” / “Is it worth it?”

I do / Yes. It is super lightweight, sleek, and I barely even notice it. I think the data collection is quite accurate and it fills the need that I was seeking.

I have the Fitbit Charge HR that I purchased specifically for the heart rate monitoring function. While a Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor [or similar] might be slightly more accurate, I do not want to wear the strap monitor around my chest. I also want a monitor that I can wear 24-hours, and I am definitely not leaving the strap monitor around my chest for that length of time.

The heart rate monitor function is important to me, because I have been very focused on weight lifting and want to maintain a heart rate in the fat burning zone while I lift [in the cardio zone, your body may burn muscle stores instead of fat]. I also don’t want to fall below the fat burning zone while I lift, which is easy to do if you are resting between sets. The charge HR has allowed me to keep a constant eye on my heart rate and incorporate sprints and other HIIT cardio between sets to keep my heart rate in the sweet spot.

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[screen shot // 6 min peak + 6 min cardio are from my post-lift 1.5 miles // 42 min fat burn is from my lifting session and exactly where I want to be for max muscle gain]

There is a fitbit a step above the Charge HR that has a GPS function [Fitbit Surge]. If you are a runner/walker/hiker I think this would be very helpful and important. Since I have not recently been putting physical investment in to running, I did not deem it a necessary expense.

For many, the purchase of a fitbit is likely related to the need to be motivated to be active and simply move on a regular basis. What I have come to love about the fitbit, in addition to the heart rate monitor, is that it motivates me to do more during the day. One more load of laundry or taking the recycling to the basement equals a few more flights of stairs [which the Fitbit Charge HR also monitors] and a few hundred more steps. Vacuuming >>> more steps. It has also motivated me to add a mile or two on the treadmill to the end of a lift session. Would I buy the fitbit just for the pedometer? Probably not, but it has been a really nice asset. If you are simply looking for the pedometer function, I would look in to a less expensive version of the fitbit.

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[yesterday’s steps are almost all from a day of running errands and an afternoon filled with housework, other than a quick five-minute warm-up on the treadmill plus a lift session]

The sleep log is fascinating to me. I sleep well at night, but it is nice to see at what points of the night the fitbit registers me as awake or restless. For example, mine is currently showing me a pattern of The Littlest waking  up in the wee hours of the morning, crying. Something that clearly needs attention. I would imagine if you have an infant at home it could also help you notice potential sleep/feeding patterns. Would I buy it just for the sleep monitor? No. Not a need of mine.

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One final item worth noting. I LOVE the fitbit app on my phone that uses blue tooth to sync the data where I can see the bigger picture of my daily activity, calorie output vs. calorie input, etc. If I didn’t have a compatible smart phone for the app, I am certain I would not take the time to download the data to my computer.

I am very pleased with the purchase, and feel it was worth the expense [investment in my health]. I am interested to see how well the device holds up over time, but so far so good!

recipe for happy

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Oh, midwest winter. Isn’t it funny that in the heat of the summer we are aching to wear jeans and a cozy top outdoors, comfortably? And the thought of breaking out a favorite pair of boots? ::insert heart-eyes emoji::

And yet, when the daylight hours become short and it is too uncomfortable to go outside, I am just dying a little on the inside for summer to arrive and arrive QUICKLY! [although, I do love a good excuse for my wellies]

But seriously, I know that I am not alone in the icky feeling that sometimes arrives with cold temperatures and gray skies. This year, in particular, I was feeling really irritable [angry?] a LOT and really started to question the potential of PMDD in my life. I decided to chat with my ob-gyn about it and she suggested a few things:

  • “Are you working out regularly?” Yes. Six days a week, at least. My endorphins and I are in a committed relationship.
  • “Are you eating well?” Yes, I eat nutrient dense meals and believe in a balanced intake approach.
  • “Do you need to cut back on caffeine?” We have a winner. YES! I do need to cut back on caffeine, especially in the winter when I am always so tempted to have a warm cup of coffee within arms reach at all times.
  • “Take a Vitamin D supplement, 5000 mg.” I will order some on Amazon right now.*

Don’t hear me denying that PMDD and seasonal depression aren’t legit. I believe they are. I also believe that for me, and for my body, health, and family, I wanted to try the lifestyle changes listed above to see if my mood/irritability would improve.

I ordered a Vitamin D3 supplementright away and purchased three flavors of caffeine free herbal tea [I still allow myself two cups of coffee each day, because let’s be honest]. I have been taking the Vitamin D and cut back on the caffeine for well over one month, now, and have noticed a huge difference. Primarily, the Vitamin D supplement. I can tell when I forget to take it [I do try to take it at night, because I noticed that it would give me nausea when taken in the morning or mid-day] and noticed the improvement in my physical energy and emotional demeanor immediately.

Here’s the thing, and it has taken me until my thirties to get here: if I am not taking proper care of myself [and addressing back-of-the-mind concerns], I cannot fully enjoy God’s blessings in my life.

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*This dosage is safe, and came medically recommended, for me. I am not currently on any type of prescription medication or have any health concerns. Before taking a supplement, check with a physician.