Morning Inspiration

It was a tough morning. One of my sons insisted on refusing to do what I asked:

  • He refused to eat his breakfast
  • He refused to drink water
  • He refused to pass anything to anyone

In addition, he spilled water on the table and floor, swiped his lunch kit onto the floor, and glared. I told him he could not go to school until he ate his breakfast, drank some water and apologized for his behaviour.

After I put my other children on the bus, I asked my son to join me on my morning walk with our dog, Olaf. He put on his shoes and came.

As we walked, there was little conversation. I focused on breathing deeply and enjoying the beauty of nature. The theme of the morning turned out to be wild flowers.

The first flower that caught my eye was an Alberta Wild Rose. Once I paid attention, I noticed many other rose bushes scattered throughout the area where we walked.

Wild Rose

On our walk we also spotted blue bells, flowering Saskatoon bushes, and dandelions – both blooming and going to seed.

Our walk only lasted fifteen minutes, but my perspective shifted a hundred and eighty degrees. When we arrived back at our house, my son cheerfully complied with my requests and I took him to school with a smile on his face.

Perhaps I should implement a morning walk for him more often 🙂

What have you discovered in your parenting journey that has surprised and delighted you? Please share!


A New Arrival: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

 

I’m very excited to share one of my latest projects with you. As many of you know, I serve as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Just over a year ago, during one of our executive meetings, we discussed the possibility of putting together an anthology with contributions from members of InScribe. We organized a volunteer committee and set our sights on having the book published and ready to launch at our InScribe Fall Conference September 24-26, 2015.

The end result is a book with contributions from 28 Canadian authors, dealing with seven key areas for Christian writers: Time with God, Healthy Living, Time Management, Honing Writing Skills, Crafting a Masterpiece, Submitting, and Marketing. The contributing writers, who come from all walks of life and write in various genres for a range of audiences, are all members of ICWF. Through fiction, poetry, and non-fiction such as devotionals, essays, and articles, they generously share their own discoveries, success stories, and hard-won lessons to encourage and support other Christian writers.

The e-book is now available on Kindle:

7-Essential-Habits-Cover

The paperback version is in process and will be released during conference.

Thanks to everyone who had a part in making this book possible!

Endorsements

“I love seven things about this book: It is practical. It is affordable. It is encouraging. It is worth highlighting, underlining and dog-earing. Plus it made me forget about my toothache. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran writer, you’ll discover 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers to be jammed with instantly actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Dig in.”
Phil Callaway (www.philcallaway.com) is the best-selling author of more than 25 books, a popular speaker, the host of Laugh Again Radio, and a grandpa.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is an absolute gem! I love that it covers all the basics a writer needs to know, making them simple and practical. I also love that the book has many authors, giving us ideas and suggestions from their own writing journey. I highly recommend this book to anyone seriously considering writing as a vocation or even an avocation, particularly those writers who see their work as a ministry—which it certainly is!”
Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning author of more than 50 books. A wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is loaded with actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Whether you are a multi-published author or a beginning writer, this book will benefit you.”
Shelley Hitz, author coach and best-selling author
www.ShelleyHitz.com 

“This book is a beautiful blend of faithfulness and craft. It will help you answer the practical questions of what it means to be a writer while honoring what you believe. I wish I’d read this when I got started.”
Jeff Goins, Best-selling author, The Art of Work

“There are hundreds of how-to-write books on the market, but none that I know of touches BOTH of the vital aspects of writing as a Christian better than this anthology from InScribe. The practical AND the spiritual are woven into a whole by a remarkably creative group of writers who are in the trenches as we speak. I intend to snack on this fare again and again.”
Nancy Rue, best-selling Christian author and creator of Shadow to Shelf, a mentoring program for writers.


The road to change: Excuses or Honesty?

I know I shouldn't eat this cake, butI stepped on the scale today for my weekly weigh-in and discovered the numbers are getting bigger instead of smaller. The increase is only a few pounds; I’m not discouraged, just motivated to get back on track and make better choices. In the last week, I’ve used a lot of excuses to make choices I shouldn’t have made: I’m tired, I’m stressed-out, I’ve been good and deserve a reward, It’s only a small Frosty. You get the idea. As a result, I’ve eaten too many calories, and often the wrong kind of calories. Now I’ve earned the natural consequences – gaining weight.

I’ve been working with one of my sons on making a change in his life. He’s a real master at excuses. There’s always a reason he couldn’t do what he should have, and it’s never his fault. I keep telling him that change won’t happen if he continues to use excuses. Hmmm. I guess it’s time for me to take my own advice 🙂

I’m still discovering what works for me, but here are the changes I’m enforcing this week:

  • Stay within my calorie limit for the day. If I go over, it shouldn’t be because of junk food
  • Focus on eating healthy foods that are packed with nutrition. If I have a choice between a piece of chocolate and a handful of nuts, the nuts should be an obvious choice.
  • No more snacking after supper. I find it too easy to keep eating once I start. Maybe someday I’ll get to the place I can handle one healthy snack after supper, but until I can, I really don’t need a snack after supper.
  • Make sure I drink enough water. Especially now that it’s getting warmer outside, I need to make sure I stay hydrated.

What about you? Are you being honest with yourself or making excuses?


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.


Encouragement to Persevere

Encouragement to Persevere
Encouragement to Persevere http://ruthlsnyder.com

This is week 5 in our Made to Crave Action Plan study.

Here are some great quotes from Lysa Terkeurst:

“Our goal is not a number on the scale. Our goal is to be absolutely at peace—emotionally, physicallyand spiritually.”

“Our scale can measure what our body weighs, but it can never measure our worth as a woman.”

“Between every trial and every blessing that comes from that trial is a path that we must walk. . .and the path is perseverance.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5 NIV from http://www.biblegateway.com)

6 Summary Tips from Dr. Ski Chilton:

“Food was made to nourish us . . . when we come to manipulate it, it comes to destroy us.”

  1. Calories in; Calories out – Start your day with 16 oz of water. (This will help you reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day by as much as 20%.)
  2. Fiber (25 grams/day for women or 30 grams/day for men) will help you feel full.
  3. Exercise to lose inches, not weight (30 minutes 5 days/week).
  4. Omega 3’s will reduce risk of heart attacks and decrease the speed of aging. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our diet should be 2:1.
  5. Eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (To reap the benefits of Polyphenols)
  6. Have a positive attitude!

For more details, check out The 7 Ingredients for Healthy Weight Loss

I find the item I struggle with the most is eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables. Some ways I’ve found that help are:

  • Add a piece of fruit to breakfast
  • Add a salad at lunch time
  • Eat wraps instead of sandwiches, especially when you’re eating out. However, you have to be careful. Tim Horton’s snack wraps only have 190 calories, but Swiss Chalet wraps have 710 calories!
  • Have an apple or banana for a snack
  • Have a salad and two or three other vegetables with your dinner entree

What tips do you have to share?


Embracing the Equation for Weight Loss

Equation for weight loss. Exercise plus reducing calories equals weight loss

This week in our Made to Crave Action Plan journey, the theme was: “Embrace the equation: Exercise AND Reduce Calories”. Since the beginning of January I have been very intentional about getting exercise. However, I haven’t been as intentional about reducing calories, other than making sure I drink water, eat 25 grams of fiber, and am intentional about my eating. This is because my main goal has been to get in shape.

I decided to focus a bit on the reducing calories side this week. Ironically, at the beginning of the week I ended up with the flu. This made it extremely easy for me to reduce caloric intake since I didn’t feel like eating anything. (It also made it almost impossible to exercise!) While I was not well I decided to check out apps that would be helpful in keeping the weight loss equation balanced. I typed “fitness” into the search, and found several apps, mostly free. The one I chose to download is called My Fitness Pal.

My Fitness Pal is free. When you open the app you’re able to enter your current weight, your target weight, and the amount of weight you’d like to lose per week. Once those are entered, My Fitness Pal calculates the number of calories you should consume each day to reach your target. Here’s a quick overview from the app menu:

  • Home: a summary overview of the day including how many calories are remaining on your daily “allowance” as well as a pie chart of the nutrients in the food you’ve consumed.
  • Food Diary: where you enter the food you eat. A search feature makes it easy to look for the specific foods you’ve consumed. Once you enter foods, they come up on the menu every time you need to make a new entry.
  • Exercise Diary: a place to enter cardio exercise, strength exercise, and notes
  • Nutrition: gives you a visual breakdown of carbs, fat, and protein in the foods you’ve consumed, as well as target percentages for each day.
  • Progress: a visual of where you started, where you’re at currently, the number of lbs or kgs you’ve lost, and the percentage of weight you’ve lost.
  • Friends: an opportunity for you to invite friends along to keep you accountable.
  • Messages: I haven’t used this feature
  • Apps & Devices: a link to the app store
  • Reminders: a place to set reminders for yourself
  • Settings: a place to make changes/updates to your profile, diary settings, fitness goals, sharing & privacy, foods & exercise, weekly nutrition settings, or logout.
  • Help

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 :).


Step One Accomplished; Moving Forward

I’m now in week nine of my journey to fitness. Last week I accomplished my first goal – doing the whole iFit level 1 walking program. I did it! I’ve also noticed that exercising is not such a chore for me any more. In fact I look forward to it every morning—it leaves me feeling energized and in a good mood.

Thumb

Time to reassess and set a new goal. I noticed that when I switched from walking 6 days a week to walking 3 days and doing 10-20 minutes of high intensity interval training 3 days, my weight loss stopped. As I sat in a waiting room with my son last week, the February 2014 Real Simple magazine caught my eye. One of the articles was on walking. Included in the article were two walking programs designed for treadmills. Here’s a summary:

Heart-Health Walk (30 minutes)

  1. picture of a stop watch and treadmill5 minutes at 2.5 – 3 miles/hour
  2. 5 minutes at 3 – 3.6 miles/hour
  3. 4 Intervals in the next 10 minutes: 30 seconds as fast as you can walk (4.5 miles/hour or faster) followed by 2 minutes at 3 – 3.6 miles/hour, repeat. (Increase the number of intervals as this gets easier for your body)
  4. 5 minutes at 3 – 3.2 miles/hour
  5. 5 minutes at 2.5 – 3 miles/hour

Weight-Loss Walk (40-45 minutes)

  1. Warm-up: start at 3.7 miles/hour and increase the speed every 30 seconds until you reach 4.1 miles/hour.
  2. 10 minutes walking as fast as you can WITHOUT jogging
  3. Stop walking. On the ground, hold a plank position for one minute, then do 10 push-ups, and 20 forward lunges on each leg.
  4. 10 minutes walking as fast as you can
  5. Stop walking. On the ground do 10 push-ups with your arms placed outside your shoulders, then do 40 crunches
  6. 10 minutes walking as fast as you can
  7. Stop walking. Use a bench or chair to do dips where you lift your rear end off the seat, walking your feet forward but keeping your buttocks as close to the seat as possible. Then, bend your elbows and lower your body in a “dip”. Hold each one for 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Finish with 10 lunges on each leg and another plank hold for 1 minute.

(For more exercise ideas, go to www.realsimple.com and search “workouts”)

I started the heart-health walk this week. Currently I’m only able to do the fast walking at 4.3 miles/hour, but in another week or two I should be up to the recommended 4.5 miles/hour. I’ve chosen to do the walk at a 4% incline for the first 20 minutes and then 6-10% incline for the next 15 minutes. I was pleased to see that my weight was down 3 pounds after the first 3 days. Hopefully this trend will continue.

What about you? Have you reached any health goals lately? Have you found any helpful walking plans? I’d love to hear from you.