Pitfalls on the trail to healthy living & Five Minute Friday

Pitfalls

As some of you know, I’ve been working on changing some of my habits. I’m thankful for the success I’ve had – becoming more active and losing some weight. However, I still have a ways to go. I was doing very well until summer hit. I lost 25 pounds and was exercising regularly. Then I reverted back to some of my bad habits and gained 15 pounds back. Now I’m almost back to my pre-summer weight.

As I thought about why I struggled over the summer, I came up with eight pitfalls that tend to trip me up:

Stress

If I’m not careful, my healthy living plan disappears when I experience stress. We all live with stress, but there are times when life throws it’s worst at us. If we don’t choose otherwise, we can get tripped up.

Possible Solution: Watch for signs of stress and acknowledge it. Humor is a great stress reliever. Put together movies, jokes, etc. that make you laugh and have them ready when you need them.

Pre-packaged Food

We live in a frenetic world. It’s easy to rely on frozen pizza or mac and cheese instead of spending the time to cook healthy meals. I’m not saying we should never eat these foods, but they should be the exception. Recently I was reminded that sometimes we need to retrain our taste buds. We crave what we eat.

Possible Solution: Make sure you keep your kitchen stocked with the ingredients you need to cook homemade meals. If you need some inspiration, try out a new recipe. (I’ve started collecting new recipes using Pinterest.) Retrain your taste buds to enjoy food that is good for you.

Not enough Sleep

This is a contentious issue for some people. I don’t think there is a magic number for this, but if you are waking up tired on a regular basis you’re probably not getting enough sleep. I find that when I’m tired, I tend to eat more. Not a good plan!

Possible Solution: Look at your schedule and see if there are things you need to intentionally cut out. Be more conscious of when you are tired. Every once in a while allow yourself to go to bed early.

Emotional Eating

This is a big stumbling block for me, and I wasn’t even aware of it until lately. When I’m stressed, or lonely, or sad or … I can easily fall into the trap of eating to try to make myself feel better. The problem is that food can’t satisfy us emotionally.

Possible Solution: I’ve found it helps to wait for ten minutes or so when I want to snack. This gives me time to evaluate whether I’m actually hungry or if I’m struggling emotionally. I’ve also found time with friends, doing something I enjoy, and spending time reading my Bible help me deal with the real issues.

Lack of Vegetables

Have you ever stopped to think about how many servings of vegetables you eat? (Check out this visual of the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables we should be eating each day.) Vegetables have many benefits including providing vitamins and minerals, adding fiber, and satisfying us without adding a lot of calories.

Possible Solution: For me, the first step was becoming aware of how few vegetables I was eating. Then I had to make sure my grocery list included a variety of vegetables. Now I’m trying to teach myself to reach for vegetables when I want a snack.

Grabbing what’s Quick

This is something most of us do – grab something that’s quick. We live busy lives. Sometimes we don’t have time to make a meal, so we grab something on the run. Usually what we grab is not the best choice because it’s usually something sweet, or salty, or loaded with calories.

Possible Solution: Have healthy food on hand, like vegetables and fruit or things you need to make yourself a wrap. If you need to eat out, do your homework ahead of time and pick some healthy options. Most restaurants and fast food places have nutrition guides available.

Lack of Accountability

If I don’t make a conscious effort to pay attention to what I eat, it’s easy for me to get tripped up and fall back into my bad habits (like eating desserts regularly). Accountability helps us pay attention to what we’re doing, provides support, and gets us through the rough times we’ll all have.

Possible Solution: Find an accountability partner who will check in with you regularly. If you find that difficult, try tracking your eating and exercise in a journal or with an app. (My Fitness Pal is available on the web or as an App on iTunes)

Inactivity

I don’t know about you, but I find that I spend a lot of time at my desk. Unless I consciously make myself move, I sit. Our bodies are made to move. Exercise improves our memory, posture, and confidence. It also helps relieve stress, sleep better, and have more energy. (Check out Top Ten Reasons to Exercise Regularly.)

Possible Solution: I tend to find excuses not to exercise, so I had to find something I could do regularly at home. A treadmill and some DVDs help get me moving. Listening to inspiring music or podcasts while I exercise helps too.

What about you? What pitfalls have you encountered and how do you avoid them?

Dear

Dear Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog and read. I hope you found encouragement, humor, and some helpful information.

I don’t take you for granted. We live in a frenetic world. You could choose to use your time for many things other than visiting my website.

Thank you for taking time to leave a comment. This lets me know if content is helpful and engaging.

I hope that this Advent and Christmas season you will take time to reflect and spend time with those who are dear to you. Take time to thank God for the many blessings in your life.

I also invite you to read and share what I’ve written – both on my blog and in e-book or printed form (Note: Helping Hands Press is offering 30% off until December 18th. Enter code: THANKYOU):

  • Cecile’s Christmas Miracle
  • Shadows and Sunshine
  • Life Lessons
  • Uplifting Devotionals for Parents

If you have suggestions for blog topics, let me know.

Thanks for being you!

Five Minute Friday provides an opportunity to write about a one word prompt for five minutes and then link in to Kate’s blog. Come join the fun 🙂


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?


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?


3 Essentials on the journey to fitness

The road to fitness and eating well has many potholes that can easily trip us, make us detour from our original plans, or even make us totally give up. Some weeks the numbers on the scale will mock us. Some days our schedule will squeeze out our time for exercise. What will keep us moving towards our goals? How will we continue to make those difficult but healthy choices?

tiredturtle_tns

1. Choose your focus carefully

“Focusing only on what we’re giving up will make us feel constantly deprived. And deprivation leads to desperation, frustration, and failure. Instead we have to focus on everything we’re gaining through this process. And see the gains as more valuable than the losses.” – Lysa Terkeurst in Made to Crave

  • Focus on how you’re able to walk or run further without getting winded
  • Focus on the extra energy you have because you’re fueling your body with healthy food
  • Focus on the freedom you have to walk away from junk food
  • Focus on the discipline you’re developing by exercising regularly

2. When you “trip,” get up and continue on the journey

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

We need to accept that we are going to fail sometimes. That’s okay. Failure doesn’t have to be permanent. If you missed a day, or even a week, of exercise that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Start again . . . now (not tomorrow!). If you gave in to your cravings and ate way more than you should have, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Figure out if there’s something you can do differently next time. Learn from your mistakes and carry on.

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure . . . than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

3. Figure out what makes the journey “worth it” for you

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” – Les Brown

We are all motivated by different things. Find out what works for you. What will keep you going when you encounter those obstacles? Who will cheer you on when you’re down? What messages do you need to encourage you to keep going?

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

If we tackle these three essentials, we’ll be able to celebrate our successes in the long run and change our “want to” to “I did”!

pursuingWhat helps you to keep going? I’d love to hear from you.


Pursuing Holiness, One choice at a time

pursuingThis morning I read Ephesians 4:14-24. Here are a few thoughts that “jumped out” at me as I read:

  • I am not to be like a child who is easily tricked and led astray (vs. 14)
  • I am to allow God’s truth to ground me (like an anchor) and help me mature in my faith (vs. 15)
  • I need to choose to reject “folly, vanity, emptiness of soul and futility” (vs. 17)
  • Going my own way will result in spiritual blindness, a hard heart, and indulging in “every form of impurity that (my) depraved desires may suggest and demand” (vs. 18,19)
  • I need to reject (die to) my old nature and renew my mind (vs. 20-23)
  • Choosing to follow God will enable me to be truly righteous and holy (vs. 24)

Lysa Terkeurst says, “Pursuing holiness means God is the only One we should long for; want greatly; desire eagerly. The only One worthy of worship.” She sums it up this way:

” . . . the very next choice I make is a crucial one. Literally, it will determine if I am walking the path of victory or compromise. One wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to a thousand, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline . . . A place our souls were made to call home.”

Steve Green reminds me that I have to choose to die to my desires, will and plans in order order to enter into the holy life God has for me:

Enter In by Steve Green

Nothing chills the heart of man
Like passing through death’s gate
Yet to him who enters daily
Death’s a glorious fate
Dearly beloved we are gathered here
To be a holy bride
And daily cross death’s threshold
To the holy life inside

( Chorus: )
Enter in, enter in
Surrender to the Spirit’s call
To die and enter in
Enter in, find peace within
The holy life awaits you, enter in

The conflict still continues
Raging deep within my soul
My spirit wars against my flesh
In a struggle for control
My only hope is full surrender
So with each borrowed breath
I inhale the Spirit’s will for me
To die a deeper death

(Chorus)

If mourners should lament
Let them weep for those alive
For only when my will is killed
Can my soul survive

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Cf55DsPe-Sg]

Today I choose to pursue holiness, one choice at a time:

  • I choose to get up early to spend time reading God’s Word and praying; I choose NOT to sleep in.
  • I choose to eat food that nourishes my body and gives me energy; I choose NOT to eat junk food which only provides temporary enjoyment.
  • I choose to exercise and strengthen my body; I choose NOT to be a couch potato.
  • I choose to spend time with my children, talking with them, listening to them, teaching and training them; I choose NOT to spend my time escaping by reading a book.

What about you? Are you pursuing holiness one choice at a time? I’d love to hear about the choices are you making.


5 Reasons I’ve added High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to my routine

I’m into week 5 of my quest for fitness. I’ve been faithfully using the treadmill six days a week with a couple exceptions. When I started the iFit walking program, I was able to alternate between increasing the incline (on iFit days) and increasing the speed/length of the workout. Now that I’ve been walking for five weeks, I regularly walk at an incline of between 4-10%, and I walk for 30 minutes at speeds between 3.2 – 3.6 miles/hour. The variety has decreased.

HIIT DVDIn the e-mails that flood my inbox, I started reading about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Here are five reasons I’ve added HIIT to my routine. (Three days a week I still use the iFit walking program and three days a week I’m doing the HIIT):

  1. Effectiveness – A 2011 study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine stated that the aerobic capacity developed by 2 weeks of HIIT was equivalent to 6-8 weeks of endurance training.
  2. Efficiency – There are a variety of HIIT programs available, but they are all relatively short, lasting anywhere from 4-10 minutes. This makes it easier to fit into a busy schedule. Some days I find it hard to squeeze the 30 minute walk in, especially if I want to do it before I need to leave in the morning. No more excuses for me!
  3. Variety – The DVD program I’ve started has 5 different 10 minute HIIT routines I can choose from: a general introductory segment, one that focuses on the abs, another one that works the upper body, one that introduces plyometrics, and the final one that works the lower body. Currently I only use one of the five a day. However, as my body adjusts, the DVD program gives me the flexibility to combine two or more segments into a personalized routine.
  4. Portability – I’m able to take (and do) the HIIT routines anywhere. All I need is my DVD, my laptop, and a 2 x 2 metre space and I can do my exercises. (At home I use my TV and DVD player.)
  5. Cost – I spent less than $10 on the DVD. I do want to invest in a good quality mat as well. However, for less than $50 I have a program that’s easy to use, fun, motivating, and inexpensive.

Delighting in Obedience: Redefining Success

How do you define success?

This is a question we need to answer for ourselves and revisit on a regular basis. Our definition of success will affect how we act and react to life and what it brings. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about “success”:

BiblePsalm 62:7 (Living Bible) “My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me.”

Proverbs 3:6 (Living Bible) “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Proverbs 12:3 (Living Bible) “Wickedness never brings real success; only the godly have that.”

Proverbs 28:13 (Living Bible) “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”

Ecclesiastes 4:4 (Living Bible) “Then I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind.”

Mark 4:19 (Living Bible) “but all too quickly the attractions of this world and the delights of wealth, and the search for success and lure of nice things come in and crowd out God’s message from their hearts, so that no crop is produced.”

2 Corinthians 3:5 (Living Bible) “and not because we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success comes from God.”

At the beginning of January I picked a chapter of Scripture to memorize while I walk on my treadmill. I have been working my way through 1 Timothy 4. This morning as I walked, this is the verse I memorized and meditated on (verse 8):

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

This fits perfectly with what Lysa Terkeurst discusses in chapter 8 of Made to Crave.

“We need to define ourselves by our obedience, not a number on the scale.” -Karen Ehman

I Timothy 4:8 is NOT an excuse to avoid exercise. However, it reminds me of where my priority should be – becoming more godly. My job is to be obedient by:

  • Thanking God for the body He gave me (Psalm 139: 13-17)
  • Eating nutritious foods that will provide energy to accomplish God’s will
  • Getting sufficient exercise to become or remain fit so that I can use my body for God’s glory
  • Measuring my worth by what God thinks of me, not by a number on the scale

And even more importantly:

  • Reading God’s Word regularly to nurture my spiritual growth
  • Replacing my negative “self-talk” with true, uplifting statements from Scripture
  • Listening to (and making) music that will feed and nourish my soul
  • Meeting regularly with other believers to learn more about God and encourage others
  • Praying every day, throughout each day, so that I’m conscious of God’s promptings and fellowshipping with Him
  • Walking in obedience to God and His Word

We are told success is winning a prize, becoming wealthy, having influential friends, being beautiful, and myriads of other things people expect. As Christians, I believe our definition of success should be:

“Consciously and persistently pursuing God and His will in our lives, no matter what the cost.”

Do you agree? If not, how would you define success?


#Empowered by trusting God

Made to Crave CoverI’ve started another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst is the book we’re using. One of the questions Lysa asks early on in the book is:

“Is it possible we LOVE and RELY on food more than we love and rely on God?”

One of the things I appreciate about the Proverbs 31 studies is that these women are not afraid to ask tough questions and they expect honest answers – from themselves as well as study participants. It’s refreshing to be part of a community where we are able to be brutally honest and allow God to change us, while being supported and encouraged. I find this very empowering. Excuses don’t cut it. Only the truth.

This study deals with an age-old problem — relying on food; putting our trust in money, or position, or people RATHER THAN GOD. In Jeremiah 2:13, God states it this way:

“My people have sinned twice.
They have deserted me,
even though I am the spring of water that gives life.
And they have dug their own wells.
But those wells are broken.
They can’t hold any water.

Isn’t it ironic that we turn away from the almighty, loving, perfect God who created us and try to fill our emptiness with created things that don’t last, hurt us, and leave us in worse shape than we were before? How can we be so foolish? Thankfully, God understands that we are prone to sin and He waits for us to repent and come back to Him. He is the only one who can truly empower us.

As I begin this study, I choose to turn away from relying on food and people to relying on God. In and of themselves, these things are not bad. It’s my reliance on them that is wrong. I confess my sin of relying on “broken wells” and choose to rely on God today.

I know I face an uphill battle, but that’s okay because I’m empowered by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He stands with me and I can call out to Him. Lysa shares:

“When I started, I knew this battle would be hard — harder than I ever imagined. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot. . . It was my way of tearing down the tower of impossibility and building something new. My tower of impossibility was food. Brick by brick, I imagined myself dismantling the food tower and using those same bricks to build a walkway of prayer, paving the way to victory.”

What about you? Are you trusting food, people, money? Or are you choosing to be empowered by God?