Fitness journey check-in, recipe, and tips

Salad with no dressing 290 calories

Some of you have asked how my fitness and healthy living journey is going. I’m encouraged by the progress I’m making. (If you’re not interested, you can skip down to the recipe.)

  • I’m seeing my endurance increase. It’s no longer a challenge to walk at 3 miles an hour. Most days I’m walking at a speed of 3.5 mph with sprints up to 4.5 mph. The incline on my treadmill is usually between 6% to 10%.
  • I’ve lost 24 pounds. My goal is to lose a pound a week, for a total of 52 pounds this year. This is week 18 of my journey, so I’m ahead of my target.
  • I’m losing inches. My clothes are getting loose. Soon I’ll be able to go shopping for a different size 🙂
  • I’m eating healthier. Yesterday I made a salad for my lunch and shared the picture on Facebook. People were asking for the recipe, so here it is:

290 Calorie Salad

1 cup Romaine lettuce, cut or shredded

1 medium tomato, diced

1/2 large yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 hard-boiled egg, sliced

48g (3 slices) Maple Leaf Deli Express Ham, sliced

41 g (3 slices) Maple Leaf Deli Express Chicken, sliced

2 Tbsp (10 g) Kraft Grated Cheddar Cheese

I enjoyed my salad without any dressing because of all the flavours of the vegetables, egg, and meat.

Caloric and nutrition information provided by MyFitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal app (pictured above) has been extremely helpful in making me aware of serving sizes and helping me track my eating and exercising. There are some days I still have to choose to drink water or eat an apple to help myself feel full, but most of the time I feel very satisfied and have ample energy.

One surprise discovery I’ve made is that I need to allow myself a “cheat day” every week. I lost 10 pounds quite quickly and then for weeks nothing changed even though I was exercising consistently and eating well. One week I had a day where I was out for a special event and I knew I ate way more than I usually did. The next week when I checked my weight, I had lost several pounds. One post I read said that we should eat up to 1,000 extra calories on our cheat day, because it “resets” our body. If we always cut back on calories, our body tends to go into “starvation mode” and we don’t lose any weight. By having a cheat day once a week and then going right back to exercising and reducing the number of calories, our body is assured everything is okay and the pounds come off.

Do you have any recipes or tips to share? I look forward to hearing from you.


Wisely making use of every opportunity

officejuggler_tns

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

This last week I had two friends ask me the same question in different ways:

“Give me an idea how we can keep up to the latest technology – have time to write – give our kids attentions and keep the house clean.”

“Where in the world do you find time to do all that you do? God must stretch the hours so you can fit it all in.”

I smiled when I read these questions, because often I’m frustrated that I’m not able to get more done in a day. My “to do” list seems to get longer instead of shorter. However, there are some strategies that have helped me to get many things done. In this post I’ll share ideas that work for me. If you want even more, I highly recommend Tricia Goyer’s book, Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. 

  1. Commit your time to God. Start out your day by spending time alone reading God’s Word and praying. Make sure you don’t skimp on this, even when you’re busy. (I’m preaching to myself here!) If we are aiming to serve God, we need to know what His priorities are and listen to His instruction.
  2. Recognize your limitations. None of us are able to do everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We all have different seasons in our lives when we are able to do less than other seasons. When my children were preschoolers, I was very limited in what I could do outside my home. Now that they are all in school, I have more time to dedicate to other pursuits.
  3. Use a notebook and planner. I find it helpful to “clear my mind” by writing down thoughts that are distracting me. (Tuesday is a birthday, so remember to . . . ) After I write things down, I try to put them into my calendar right away so that I don’t have to think about them any more until it’s time to deal with them. Jack Popjes recommends writing down 10 things every morning that you want to accomplish. Then pick the top 3 to focus on for the day. If you have time for more, keep going down the list. If you revise this list every day, you’ll succeed in accomplishing many things.
  4. Find tools that will help you. I don’t have time to read through every blog post, or find out about the all the newest technology. I do subscribe to feeds from sites like http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com and scan through for helpful information. If I find something I want to follow up on, I copy the information and make a Word document I can save on my computer to reference later. Ted Talks is one of my favourite places to listen to current thought leaders.
  5. Do a little every day. If there’s something you really want to get done, do a little every day. This can be applied to reading a book, cleaning your house, writing, or whatever else you want to accomplish. Those small steps add up. I was recently challenged by this quote: Anthony Trollope demanded of himself three thousand words each morning (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for 33 years during the writing of more than two dozen books.” No excuses!
  6. Be flexible. This is a hard one for me. When something’s on my schedule, I want to get it done. However, sometimes my family has unexpected needs, or my neighbor is sick, or . . . . I need to remember that I don’t own my time. God does.

I’m still learning how to use my time wisely, and probably always will. Do you have any helpful tips to share?

 


From Miserable to Amazing: The importance of Attitude

Quote on the importance of attitude by Charles R. Swindoll

The above quote is from Charles R. Swindoll. He also says, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

In Chapter 8 of Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom, Tricia Goyer has two lists. The first one is titled: How to Make Today Truly Miserable.

  1. “Open your eyes in the morning and think of all you didn’t get done yesterday.
  2. Assume your husband has a huge list of things for you to do when he asks, “So, do you have any plans today?” (as if you didn’t have a huge to-do list every day).
  3. Push aside your Bible reading and jump into sorting that stinky pile of laundry
  4. Remember what it used to feel like to wear your skinny, skinny jeans.
  5. Compare your kids to your neighbors’ star athletes and whiz kids.
  6. Compare your house/office/yard to the awesome pictures continually reposted on Pinterest.
  7. Walk the mall and point out all the things you wish you had money to buy.”

The second list by Tricia Goyer is titled: How to Make Today Truly Amazing

  1. “Thank God for everything your new day holds.
  2. Give your husband a hug and ask if he has something special in mind for the day. If he doesn’t, tell him you do and do something spontaneous.
  3. Take time to read your Bible and ask the Creator of the universe to guide your day.
  4. Appreciate your health and pray asking God to help you in all areas where you are weak. Or if you have a chronic illness thank Him for walking you through it.
  5. Relax in your favorite part of your house for ten minutes and thank God for what He’s provided.
  6. Go through your closet and pull out clothes you haven’t worn in a while—then take them to Goodwill.”

Today’s balanced challenge is to take one of Tricia’s tips to make today amazing, implement it, and blog about what difference it made in attitude.

As I write this post, my five-year-old daughter and I are just recovering from the stomach flu. This round of flu started a week ago when one of my twins threw up all over the bathroom floor. The flu is no fun, BUT I’m very thankful that our family is very healthy most of the time. I’m also thankful that I had a couple of days to relax away from my “normal” schedule—yesterday I was only awake for about five hours other than trips to the bathroom. Obviously my body needed the rest.

A couple of years ago I read 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Since then I have made it my aim to focus on God and the many gifts He gives me each and every day. Life often does not give us what we want. (We tell our kids, “Get used to it—Life isn’t fair!”) However, as Charles Swindoll points out, attitude is 90% of the equation, and we have FULL control over our attitude.

So, every day, I can change my day from miserable to amazing. So can you. What choice(s) are you going to make today to change your day around? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section :).


Sorting through the time crunch

Weekly CalendarToday’s assignment in the Balanced Challenge is one that I know I’ll have to keep coming back to. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often a challenge to figure out how I’m going to make the best use of each 24 hour segment God gives me. There just isn’t enough time to do everything.

Tricia Goyer shares one way to sort through the time crunch: Sit down and make a list with four categories.

  1. Things I have to do (non-negotiable items like work or feeding and clothing your family)
  2. Things I should do (no one will die if these things aren’t done, but they are very important. e.g. reading the Bible)
  3. Things I want to do (those things that bring me joy and make me feel more alive e.g. my work with InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship)
  4. Things I’m doing to “look good” or doing out of guilt (usually volunteer activities that are good, but may be zapping our energy)

Tricia then challenges us to cut ALL the items listed under #4 and schedule the rest of the items into some sort of calender. I’ve shared the beginning of my calendar at the top of this post. It still needs some work – my husband and I plan to compare notes and calendars.

This exercise has been an important reminder to me that I can’t be everything to everybody. Some things have to give. Tricia reminds us that there are different seasons in life and sometimes we have to wait to do things until a different season.

How do you plan your schedule? What do you struggle with the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.

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God’s Calling on my life

“The Spirit of the Lord and King is on me.
The Lord has anointed me
to tell the good news to poor people.
He has sent me to comfort
those whose hearts have been broken.
He has sent me to announce freedom
for those who have been captured.
He wants me to set prisoners free
from their dark prisons.”

Isaiah 61:1 (New International Reader’s Version)

God’s calling on my life became evident to me while I was still very young. I was privileged to spend the first ten years of my life in southern Africa, where my parents were missionaries. I remember thinking it was a good thing my parents were telling these “sinful” people about God. One day I had a rude awakening. I was attending a daily vacation Bible school when I grasped my sinfulness and God’s grace. At the tender age of five I confessed my selfishness, lies, and disobedience, requesting forgiveness and empowering from my Heavenly Father.

More light was shed on God’s calling when I discovered what my names mean:

Ruth – Compassionate and Lucile – Bringer of Light

Hiker looking at map

I continued growing in my faith through my school years. My parents moved to Three Hills when I was eleven. Many godly men and women nurtured my faith. After high school, I decided to attend Prairie Bible College where I majored in Bible and minored in Christian Education. When I graduated, I was invited to stay on staff, working in the Prairie Bookroom (book store). During this time I also took my first writing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Life took some twists and turns. I thought God was calling me to be a missionary in Africa, like my parents. However, that door slammed shut. Instead God lead me to marriage and presented parenting children with special needs as my mission field. Several years ago the advocacy for my children widened into advocacy for all children in the Northern Lights School Division when I was elected as a school board trustee. A few months after that I entered my first writing contest and won first place in my age category. The prize was a free conference registration for Write!Canada. At the conference, it dawned on me that God has specifically gifted me and called me to be a writer.

This week I was challenged to come up with a 5-7 word tagline which describes my writing. This is what I came up with:

“Exploring life’s adventures through writing”

God has led me to write about many different topics which fit in very diverse genres: devotionals, special needs, parenting, contemporary fiction, light romance, memoir, adoption, education, Bible study, social media.

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In the Balanced Challenge, Tricia Goyer’s question for Day 4 (today) is:

“What have you been called by God to do? Take a few minutes away from work and family to sit with your Bible and talk to God. Believe that God placed your dreams and passions in your heart. Find a verse that speaks to you about this, and post it today on your blog.”

You saw my verse at the top of this post. I look forward to hearing about God’s calling on your life in the comments below.


4 Ways I’m Involving my Family in my Writing

four people holding up letters to spell "team"

Today our Balanced Challenge is:

“How can you get your kids involved in what you’re working on? How can they experience what your job is like and contribute to it?

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This was a good question for me to think about. Often when I think about my writing, I don’t take the time to think about how it will affect my children and husband. This is a mistake, because my family will be affected. Sometimes they will be affected negatively, because I won’t be available when they want me, the house will be messy at times, and they may have to fend for themselves. However, I have the opportunity to affect them positively as well, if I am intentional about making them part of my writing process.

  • I can share ideas and pictures with them so they have the opportunity to get excited about the project(s) I’m working on. Perhaps they will have an angle to share that I’d never think of on my own.
  • I can ask them for feedback, especially if I’m using them as an illustration in my writing. So far, I’ve found this a very positive experience. I’m very careful about what I share, and my kids like that I love them enough to write about them 🙂
  • I can take them with me when I have a book table set up somewhere. I’ll always remember the first time I did this. My oldest daughter was excited that I had pieces published and she wasn’t shy about stopping people and telling them to “Read my Mom’s story on page . . . “
  • I can ask for their help with research, especially if I’m writing about something they are passionate about. Kids love to share their opinions and expertise.

I’m looking forward to hearing other advice you have to share 🙂


5 Things I’m doing to make my writing work

Ruth L. Snyder picture of writing areaI have had to make several changes to make working at home actually work for me.

  1. Carving out writing time – In order to write consistently and meet writing deadlines, I’ve had to be very intentional about my writing time. Currently I get out of bed at 5:15 every week day morning so that I have at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing time before other family members get out of bed. I also try to write when my children are at school. However, I do write when they’re at home too – often when they are watching a movie or playing nearby.
  2. Putting God first – My 30 minutes of writing in the morning is preceded by time spent reading my Bible, praying, and prioritizing my day. I find that if I don’t do this first, I can go through the whole day without stopping to seek God and His guidance. Then I wonder why things go awry.
  3. Having a dedicated writing space – the picture at the top of this post shows my current writing space. I’m thankful to be able to have my own desk, computer, printer, and bookshelf. If you look closely, there’s dust everywhere. But that’s okay. Some things have to “give” if I’m going to get my writing done. I still need to finish organizing my space, but this is a great start.
  4. Making writing a priority – I’m still working on this one. My husband and I are very different – his work is physical, whereas mine is mental. Sometimes we struggle to understand each other. It’s easy to say “no” to something else when I have a music class scheduled (I’m a piano teacher and Music for Young Children teacher as well). However, writing is often a “hidden” type of work—there’s a lot of thinking that needs to happen before any type of physical evidence can be demonstrated. I need to have the freedom to say “no” to other things so that I can write.
  5. Understanding and accepting that I’m a writer – I’m beginning to understand that most writers struggle with calling themselves writers. I’m no exception. It has taken me years to call myself a writer. I’m realizing now that writing is not just one of the many things I do. I’m called to be a writer. God gifted me with the ability to express myself in ways that make sense to other people. He expects me to use that ability. When I don’t write, I feel frustrated, like there’s something missing in my life. That’s why I need to do everything I have to do to make it happen.

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This is day 2 in Tricia Goyer’s Balanced Challenge. I’m looking forward to learning about changes other people have made so that they can work successfully at home. Feel free to leave me a suggestion (or two).

This morning I did an interview on blog talk radio. We discussed blog hops, social media, celebrating Christmas overseas and several other things. Listen in here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gelatisscoop/2014/03/12/ruth-snyderauthor-of-ceciles-christmas-miracle-much-more


Family Priorities

I'm taking the Balanced Challenge with Triciai GoyerFor the next 11 days I’m participating in a challenge based on Tricia Goyer’s new book Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. (Her book is specifically written for those of us who are moms and writers, but the principles could be applied to other work-at-home options.) Each day I will be answering a question she poses in her book. Today’s question is based on chapter 1 – Family Priorities.

“Determine what your priorities as a family are. Ask yourself a few questions: What do we want to achieve as a family? What will matter five years from now – ten years from now? What will mold our children into God-serving adults? What will bring peace—not stress—to our home?”

family meal, eating together

My Family Priorities:

  1. Our family will read the Bible together and pray together every morning before breakfast.
  2. Our family will pray together and commit the school day to God every morning while we are waiting for the school bus.
  3. Our family will eat balanced meals with an emphasis on whole foods, vegetables, and fruit.
  4. Our family will have supper together at least five times a week.
  5. Our family will read missionary biographies together before bed.
  6. Our family will attend church together.
  7. Our family will celebrate adoption anniversaries as well as birthdays.
  8. Our family will learn to serve the practical needs of others, both here in Canada and in other countries.

If you’ve never thought about what you want your family priorities to be, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to do this exercise. Our children grow up quickly, and we need to be intentional about the time we have with them.

What priorities does your family have? I’d love to hear about them.