Category Archives: Family

Finding Motivation When You Just Don’t Wanna

Motivation

I’ve been suffering from a severe case of “lack of motivation” lately. Like, severe.

And not just for writing.

For the household projects I’d planned to tackle this summer, including painting the bathroom. For following my workout routine. For planning meals and grocery lists. For working on some projects for the various things I do at church. For all of the “fun summer” things I had planned to accomplish with my boys.

It’s been bad, y’all. So bad that I purposefully acknowledge it right now, in public, before all the world.

I have no motivation.

It probably has something to do with the fact that I’m tired, my list of responsibilities is too long, and that my summer break is pretty short and therefore my brain is already on the things I will need to do when I get back to work in a couple of weeks.

Whatever. No excuses other than I just don’t have the motivation to get anything done right now.

Ever been in a place like this? Your To Do list is a mile and a half long and yet you have no desire to tackle the first thing on it?

This is unlike me. Usually I’m finding serious joy in accomplishing things. So it has kind of been worrying me that I’m suffering from such a lack of motivation.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do:

  1. Just do it. No, I’m not encouraging you to buy Nikes, I’m just saying that this post is my first step in making the most of what’s left of my summer—I’m diving in and doing it. I marked off something small on my list today first, decided to write this post, and let the momentum push me along through the afternoon. I actually accomplished quite a few things today and it. Feels. GOOD.  Hallelujah. Let’s hope and pray that this momentum rolls into tomorrow.
  1. Look to others for inspiration. I have some seriously awesome friends who mostly rock at life. Just reading through their Facebook pages or sending a simple “I don’t want To Do anything but sit on the couch and read” text is totally helpful.
  1. Listen to the wisdom of those friends. One might say, “C’mon now, you can do it! Accountability!” while the other friend, also wise, might remind me that the occasional day of doing nothing but sitting on the couch and reading is actually healthy for both body and mind.
  1. Remind yourself of the commitments you’ve made. Some of those things on my To Do list must get done because they affect other people. For those particular items, it’s not about me and what I’m feeling or not feeling—it’s about the commitment I’ve made to someone else and the follow-through. I committed to following through, and I believe in keeping commitments. Whether it’s family, church, work or other, the items that affect others move up the list (my family has to eat…don’t they?).
  1. Hack up that To Do list. When you’re feeling unmotivated, shred that To Do list and start over. Put only the vital things on it. Put only the doable things on it. Put your commitments that affect other people, work items, and things that involve a time-table. Make it short and concise. Start there—you can add the other stuff back later.
  1. Show yourself a little grace. Claim some days off. Sometimes your body needs to re-charge. Sometimes your brain needs a break. Sometimes it’s totally okay and acceptable to step away from the To Do list and simply do something else.

So here’s to momentum that carries into the next days and weeks. Here’s to a summer filled with sun, completed projects, and precious memories with my family. That I will document and organize. Someday.

Share with me: What projects or items are on your summer To Do list?

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How I Lost The Baby Weight– Fast

scale 2

6 months.

That was the amount of time I had between the birth of my son and my sister’s wedding.

6 months.

It’s not like I ate really well and exercised during my pregnancy– nope. I was a lazy bum. This was my third pregnancy and I’d had gestational diabetes with the first two and since I didn’t have it with the third, I kind of allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted. In moderation, of course. I did draw the line somewhere.

So, my total weight gain during pregnancy was 38 pounds.

That does not include, of course, the 5 pounds I wanted to lose before I even got pregnant.

So, being squeezed by that 6 month window of time from giving birth to fitting into a bridesmaid’s dress to be my sister’s matron-of-honor, I needed to lose a significant amount of weight—more weight than I’ve ever lost at any given time in my life.

The weight I’d gained with my first two pregnancies came off pretty naturally with extended time. I exercised, I ate fairly well, and within a year or so, it dropped off…mostly. Those last 5 stubborn pounds were still with me.

But time was not my friend this go-around. Time was my motivation. Make it your motivation, too.

So here are my secrets to losing this weight: Hard work, dedication, self-control. Boom.

I hit my goal weight after 5 months.

It has now been 8 months since my son’s birth and I have lost additional weight.  At last weigh-in, I’m 47 pounds down, total.

47 pounds. That seems insane.

Of course, I lost almost 8 pounds the moment my son was born, so that doesn’t really count. And another 10 pounds or so drops off in the few weeks after the birth, as it would for any woman. But the rest of it? I celebrate that it’s gone—as the result of hard work.

Losing weight is not easy. It’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. It’s hard to be dedicated to it. It’s difficult to train yourself to a new lifestyle.

But it CAN be done.

Here’s what I did:

1.      Pray.

Call me crazy if you like, but losing weight is a challenge, and I like to include God in all of the challenges of my life. So yes, I prayed about weight loss. I prayed that God would help me to discern the best things to do to make my body healthy. I prayed that He would help me build discipline and self-control. I prayed that He would build my resolve as I began to see results, and strengthen me when I wasn’t seeing results. I prayed because He cares about me and every aspect of my life, so He wanted to be in this, too. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t leave God out.

2.      Learn about balance.

One of the keys to losing weight is maintaining proper blood sugar levels. When your sugar fluctuates to highs and lows, it can cause you to feel hungrier and crave foods you don’t need. Keep your sugar level steady and your body can better process the foods you are eating. I suffer from insulin related hormone issues (I am not diabetic) and I learned a lot about this from reading The Insulin-Resistance Diet.

3.      No denial.

Don’t diet to the point of denial. If you deny yourself the foods you love, you’ll be miserable. Instead operate by balance and allow yourself to eat the things you really love every so often. I allowed myself one daily piece of chocolate and savored it.

4.      Go au naturale.

Bye-bye processed foods. Yes, I went organic, and it’s something I should have done a long time ago. Processed foods are made up of chemicals, GMOs, and other things that can, quite literally, poison our bodies. I’m not a hippy, I swear, but I do believe in natural health as much as possible. So I’ve weaned my family off of as many processed foods as I can, replacing them with fresh organic, homemade recipes, or organic store versions. Yes, it is more expensive to eat organic food. I can’t always afford organic, but I do the best that I can. And I now choose natural over processed. Organic butter over heart-healthy, chemically processed alternatives. Organic Greek yogurt over processed, artificial-sweetener infused alternatives.

To help you go natural, read labels. The fewer ingredients, the better. No artificial sweeteners (opt for stevia or actual sugar) and if the product contains ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it.

5.      Count calories.

In order to lose weight, your body must burn more calories than it takes in. It’s simple math. Discover what your ideal daily caloric intake should be and keep track of your daily calories while you are trying to lose weight. You can get an idea of what your caloric intake should be here. It doesn’t matter what other diet plans or exercise gurus have taught you—you have to eat less and burn more if you want to lose weight. Period.

6.      Cut carbs.

I would have been a great peasant. Bread and cheese—those are like their own food groups to me. Pasta. Bread. Chocolate. I can live on these alone, truly. But not if I want to lose weight. So, I cut carbs. It’s easy to do, really. No more bread with an Italian meal. Smaller portions of pasta (notice I didn’t say no pasta). Swapping high-carb cereal for lower carb alternatives. Giving up empty foods and replacing them with power foods—those full of vitamins, minerals, and good stuff for your body.

7.      Meatless Monday.

Actually, I went to meatless every-other-day in our house. I introduced meals that incorporate protein from other sources. I cut back on our intake of red meat to almost none, and in many recipes that call for red meat, I now use turkey. We eat red meat maybe once a week or so (if that often). We get a lot of protein from beans and such. There are some great meatless dinner recipes out there that are delicious.

8.      Get moving.

This is part of that burn-more-than-you-take-in math. Zumba, Insanity, Cross-fit—find what works for you. I’m not a runner. At. All. But I love aerobic dance, so Zumba was my go-to. I have three kids, so exercise isn’t always a scheduled part of my day. When I can’t exercise, I keep a closer eye on my calorie intake and do simple things like park farther away at the grocery store so that I have to walk more in the parking lot. Staying on your feet more is the secret to burning calories. Find ways to keep yourself busy, even if it means you walk circles around your house. Dancing with your kids is always a fun way to exercise.

9.      Eat breakfast.

I used to believe that skipping breakfast saved calories. Dumb. Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism which will help burn calories. Just make sure that your breakfast is healthy and balanced. Stay away from over-processed foods and artificially sweetened things like yogurt.

10.  And my worst-kept weight loss secret (because I am always telling people): it’s all about the magic in your glass.

Don’t drink your calories. No sodas. No alcohol. No juice. Water and green tea only.

I drink 3-5 glasses of green tea per day and I fully believe that it has boosted my metabolism to a level it hasn’t been in years and years. I prefer green tea with flavor over plain green tea, so I like mint, pomegranate and berry. I buy the tea at the grocery store (with all the other teas) and make it by the pitcher. I sweeten it with stevia. (Two small packets per one large pitcher of tea).

So there you go, folks. Those are my secrets to weight-loss. It’s a difficult process, I know, but I’ll tell you this—if you make it a permanent lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet, not only will you be doing a world of good for your body, but you’ll begin to crave healthier foods instead of junk.

You can do it. You can be healthier. Do it for you. Do it for your family. Do it because God expects us to take care of the things He has given us, and that includes our bodies.

Other tips:

1. Don’t let the numbers on the scale rule your life. Take your measurements around your waist and hips and enjoy the shrinking numbers.

2. Use your clothes as a gauge. Are they fitting better? Feeling looser? Do you need to buy smaller sizes? Then who cares what the scale says?!

3. Set realistic goals, not only for your weight, but on the calendar. Hold yourself accountable to a date and stick to it.

4. DO NOT weigh yourself daily. Weigh yourself once a week, at the same time every week. (I do my weight checks on Sunday mornings, right after I get up.)

5. Find an accountability partner. Having someone help you and encourage you can mean the difference between frustration and results.

If you are interested, here are some of my favorite things for being healthier:

Vitalicious Muffins and Mini-Cakes

Bigelow Green Tea

Cascadian Farms Organic (especially the cereals)

Farmer Boy Greek Dressing

Fiber One Coconut Almond Protein Bars

Veggie Straws

Golden Zucchini Pancakes

Share with me: What’s your favorite healthy snack, food, or recipe?

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PS– Check out the healthy recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest, or this post, reviewing some healthy recipes.

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The Hallow of Halloween– Should Christians Be Involved?

The Hallow of Halloween

Of all the holidays, Halloween definitely provides the most instigation for controversy among the Christian community.

In some circles, it’s the “no-no” holiday.

Should it be celebrated by Christians?
Should Christians even hand out candy?
Should churches condone the idea of children dressing in costume? What’s more, should churches host Halloween or Fall events?
Are Christians going to hell for celebrating on “the devil’s day”?

Here’s my view–

The day of Halloween holds no power of evil for me, for I am filled by the One who overcomes all evil.

The devil doesn’t have any more power on Halloween than he does any other day of the year. The evil and sin that plague the world are just as bad on October 30 and November 1. But here’s the good news– we know what happens at the end of The Book. Evil is destroyed and Goodness wins.

So what should Christians do on October 31? What we should be doing every other day of the year– being a bold, blazing bright light for Jesus Christ in a dark, dark world. Whether that means we let our kids dress up and collect candy door-to-door or simply smile at a stranger we pass on the street, our mission is the same on Halloween as it is every day.

I read a post the other day from a Christian Mommy-blogger that said that because Halloween was evil, she and her family locked themselves behind closed doors every year and avoided people at all cost.

The post made me sad. An opportunity missed for the message of Christ to be spread on Halloween, even if by handing out invitations to church or a simple “God loves you” to go along with a piece of candy.

Now I’m going to go all history nerd on you.

When speaking to Believers who do not celebrate Halloween, the number one reason given is: “Christian’s shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it’s pagan.”

Not so much. As a historian and born again believer, I’m ready to de-bunk the myths of the “pagan” Americanized Halloween.

Many of the American Halloween traditions are relatively new. In the grand scheme of history, dressing in costume and going door-to-door asking for candy have only become popular in the last century.

Before that, Halloween was an unorganized compilation of various religious beliefs and traditions from many European cultures. 

And many of these religious beliefs and traditions were started by the Church. (Big “C” church refers to the Roman Catholic Church–the earliest form of organized Christianity.)

Back in the day, the Celtic people of Europe (the UK and northern France) had beliefs tied to this time of year. They celebrated a holiday called Samhain (sow-in) that recognized the changes in the seasons–from light to dark, warm to cold, and from life to death. October 31 began the new year, and they believed that at Samhain, the land of the living and the land of the dead could overlap.

From these ancient traditions, the Catholic church attempted to reach converts. To take the emphasis off of the paganism of Samhain, the Catholic church made November 1 All Saints Day, or the day to remember and honor the saints. They then added November 2 as All Souls Day, or the day to remember and honor all of the dead who had gone on before.

These two “holy days” fell into the Catholic church’s method of conversion for pagans in the early church days--Keep doing what you’re doing, just do it in the name of Jesus. Remember that in those days, it wasn’t about converting hearts as much as it was about numbers.  So the idea of the living and dead overlapping fell under these days–Church sanctioned days of commemoration for the dead.

The night before All Saints Day became known as All Hallow’s Eve, and then was shortened to Hallowe’en.

One of the traditions during All Souls Day was for children or youngsters to go house to house asking for small cakes. In return, they would offer prayers for the family members who had died. Some believe that our tradition of trick-or-treating might have come from this early practice.

The idea of wearing costumes has no real “pagan” tie. In general, it can be traced back to the idea that many who instigated “trickery” or pranks during this time of year really wanted to mask their identities.

In the early 20th century, communities looked for a way to stop the pranks and keep kids safe on Halloween. They decided to organize community wide parties and parades for kids to show off their costumes, and later on the idea of subduing “tricksters” by offering them sweets turned into modern day trick-or-treating.

The Jack-O-lantern might be the most “evil” of all Halloween traditions. According to old Irish folklore, a man named Jack O’Lantern was so bad that he was kicked out of hell with only a burning ember to light his way. He wanders the earth at night with his ember in a hollowed out turnip. When the legend came to America, children began hollowing out pumpkins to create their own “Jack O’Lanterns.”

Okay, so there’s the history of our Americanized traditions.

We know what the Bible says about evil. We know what it says about what happens to a soul at death and where it goes. There’s no need to argue whether or not some people emphasize the negatives of the holiday–they do. It’s the non-Christians who’ve darkened the holiday; for well over a thousand years, Christendom has attempted to refocus it.

And if one still wants to cling to the pagan argument, then we must also point out all of the pagan influences in other parts of Christianity. Celebrating Christmas on December 25th, for example. That was not Jesus’ actual birthday. No, no. It was a Roman pagan holiday that the Church usurped, once again taking emphasis off the pagan rituals and putting them on Christianity. So can we ignore one holiday for “paganism” but not another?

If you and your family choose not to celebrate Halloween, there is nothing wrong with that. I respect your decision completely.

No matter your views on Halloween, it is important to remember that evil has no power over us when we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit.

Emphasize the positive: happy costumes, candy, and communities coming together. Remember The Great Commission– we are to make disciples on all days, and not avoid any opportunity to shine His great light.

Everyday is hallowed when we walk in the light of the Lord. Nothing can change that. Glorify the Lord in all you do, even on Halloween.

For more info, check out this video from The History Channel.

Share with me: What are your family traditions on Halloween?

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Filed under Family, Is It Okay To ____?, Parenting, The Christian Walk