29. March 2014 · 3 comments · Categories: fitness, God · Tags: , ,

1506994_10201652498700850_1201318679_nI completed my first 10K race today! My goal was to run it in less than an hour and I accomplished that – I crossed the finish line at 57:39. This is my fourth race since I started running. My other three races: my first 5K last May, an 8K in November and another 5K in December. It has been so cold and snowy this winter, I did not train as well for today’s race as I had for the others – yet, I felt more mentally prepared this time and little less nervous.

All week the forecast has called for rain during the race. I asked a group of my online fitness friends to pray for the rain to let up between 8:30-10am, when I would likely be running the race. (This was a very selfish prayer request, I know.) But Praise God! He heard that prayer and the rain held off until just before 10am. It was misting, more of light rain – perfect race conditions. I experienced a downpour during my 8K last November, and was miserable during that race. Mentally, I was expecting to experience the same thing today. Looking back, I’m glad I experienced that rain-soaked race because it helped me better prepare for today’s race.

10007534_10201652498260839_817902634_nI arrived at the race early enough today to attend the “Blessing of the Runners” service at a local church. It was a brief service, but I loved being reminded of what the Bible says about running a race: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) The priest talked about the importance of training and discipline as you prepare for a race, and then prayed for all the participants in today’s event. The service was a great way to start my race day and I wish I had that opportunity at more race events.

I took several photos as I was running the race – there were so many great signs and groups of people cheering on the runners. Such a great atmosphere! You can check out more photos on my Instagram account by clicking here.

 
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I don’t do yoga. It’s a personal choice. I think stretching is wonderful. I love my foam roller and used to take Pilates classes regularly. I know many of my friends love yoga and often invite me to join them. But my answer is no and here’s why.

The practice of yoga goes beyond physical exercise. There is a deeper spiritual component to the practice of yoga, and while many mainstream American yoga classes may not emphasize the spiritual element, it is still there and cannot be separated from the practice. Each yoga pose carries its own meaning. “Yoga is a vast collection of spiritual techniques and practices aimed at integrating mind, body and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe.” – Yoga 101: The Basics

“Americans are usually drawn to yoga as a way to keep fit at first, but the idea behind the physical practice of yoga is to encourage a deeper mind-body awareness,” explains New York yoga teacher and author Beryl Bender Birch. “Healing and balancing the physical body helps bring clarity and focus to the mind as well.”

“Initially, the sole purpose of practicing yoga was to experience spiritual enlightenment. In Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), yoga translates as “yoke” or “union,” describing the integration of mind and body to create a greater connection with one’s own pure, essential nature.

“Classes that have gained popularity in the United States usually teach one of the many types of hatha yoga, a physical discipline which focuses mainly on asanas (postures) and breathwork in order to prepare the body for spiritual pursuits.” – Not All Yoga is Created Equal

Here is Deepak Chopra’s explanation on yoga:

“Even if yoga only enhanced physical fitness, the time spent in practice would be fully worthwhile. However, while the health benefits are many, yoga offers much more than just a way to exercise the body. The deeper meaning and gift of yoga is the path it offers us into the timeless, spaceless world of spirit. Yoga teaches us both to let go and to have exquisite awareness in every moment. We remember our essential spiritual nature and life becomes more joyful, meaningful, and carefree.” – Deepak Chopra, MDThe Deeper Meaning of Yoga

I cannot separate the physical aspect of yoga from its spiritual roots.

“Americans have turned yoga into an exercise ritual, a means of focusing attention, and an avenue to longer life and greater health. Many Americans attempt to deny or minimize the spiritual aspects of yoga — to the great consternation of many in India. When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine.” – Al Mohler, The Subtle Body: Should Christians Practice Yoga?

So is “Christian yoga” okay? No, not for me. All that is doing is “Christianizing” what I consider to be a spiritual practice contrary to what the Bible teaches. The meditation element may be Christ-centered, but the practice of yoga itself is rooted in the worship of something other than the One, True and Living God.

In Romans 12, it says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

For me, it does not matter the popularity of yoga. I don’t want to live as someone conformed to this world, even in a so-called Christian yoga class. I believe stretching is beneficial, but I can perform stretches without the unnecessary spiritual baggage from yoga.

naomi wolf quote

“When I feel compelled to criticize my body, I imagine my daughter saying the same thing about herself.” I have always been sensitive to the way my children view my weight loss, particularly my daughter. I don’t want her to see me as always dieting or unhappy with my body.

“…It’s not the media or skinny, out-of-proportion Barbie dolls or even peer pressure that is the No. 1 cause of body issues for young girls.

It’s their mothers.

“Moms are probably the most important influence on a daughter’s body image,” said Dr. Leslie Sim, clinical director of Mayo Clinic’s eating disorders program and a child psychologist. “Even if a mom says to the daughter, ‘You look so beautiful, but I’m so fat,’ it can be detrimental.”

USA Today, Experts: Mom has biggest impact on girls’ body image

So what am I doing to help my children develop a healthy body image and self-esteem?

  1. I consider the word “diet” to be a four-letter word. I eat healthy. I try to eat clean, unprocessed foods as much as possible. I am not on a diet. No foods (or categories of foods) are off-limits. My family talks about the different types of foods, foods that help you become strong and healthy, sugar and why it is not as good for you, and so on. I am striving to help them learn why some foods make you feel better than other foods.
  2. I workout to be strong. I love my home workouts and going to the gym. Instead of viewing exercise as a means to lose weight or burn off whatever treat I have eaten recently, it’s just part of our daily routine. The day I heard my daughter say, “wow, mama, you are so strong!” – those words just made my day. My children want to learn to exercise like my husband and me, so I am teaching them how to use the TRX and inviting them to join me in my workouts.
  3. I have to capture my negative thoughts and remind myself of the truth. I went clothes shopping today and the dressing room experience was a little depressing. The mirrors in the dressing room did not reflect back the image I wanted to see. Rather than complain about my body, I redirected my thoughts to remind myself I AM happy with my body and my current size. Those clothes didn’t flatter me as much as I had hoped, but that made it easier to decide which items to buy.
  4. I write encouraging post-it notes for my children. I tell them often they are beautiful, God loves them, and I am proud of them for a certain skill/achievement.

    “Be careful how you speak to your children, one day it will become their inner voice.” ~ Peggy O’Mara

  5. I’m learning to love my own body. I am created in the image of God, capable of more than I ever realized and I’m grateful God has given me the ability to be active. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14) Rather than just focus on the parts of my body I would like to change, I am getting into a daily habit of reminding myself what I do like about myself.

 
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Atomic Beef and Broccoli

Atomic Weight Loss: Beef and Broccoli

One of my new favorite recipes is this Atomic Beef and Broccoli. It’s a recipe from Atomic Weight Loss, the eating strategy that initially helped me reach my weight loss goals. This isn’t your typical Beef and Broccoli. It’s high in protein and fiber, economical, and my family loves it. (It’s a great make-ahead dish, too, if you want to use it as a meal prep for the week – I love the leftovers and would eat it for lunch every day.) Try it and let me know what you think!

ATOMIC BEEF AND BROCCOLI
(makes about four servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 heads of broccoli, steamed and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lb. London Broil beef
  • 1/2 cup organic corn, steamed
  • 1/2 cup organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup salsa (I use medium salsa)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook your rice. (You may want to season it with turmeric and/or cayenne pepper.)
  • While the rice is cooking, steam the broccoli and corn. Chop the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Heat the black beans.
  • Broil or grill your beef until it reaches your desired level of doneness, then cut it into 1-inch strips across the grain.
  • Combine all of the ingredients and heat until it is warm. (You may opt to serve the rice separately, rather than combine it with the other ingredients – I sometimes opt to leave the rice off my plate, depending on my macros for the day). Eat!

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As you look at actors and news anchors on TV these days, you can see an incredible amount of detail, thanks to high-definition technology. Flaws that could once be hidden show up with great clarity on many TVs, despite adjustments to studio lighting or the magic of a make-up artist. On the positive side, it makes those TV personalities seem a little more normal, like the rest of us, when you see they have flaws, too.

I was talking to a friend recently who commented on my weight loss journey. She told me she was encouraged by all my posts. I told her I used to think I was a pretty private person, and a few years ago I wouldn’t have shared so much. I have always been reluctant to talk about my weight or my clothing size. I can remember back as far as first grade, feeling bigger than the other kids and embarrassed that I didn’t look the same as them. But now, if you ask me how much I weigh, I will tell you. It’s not a big deal anymore.

So what changed? I think I started living a “high-definition” life. The more open I have become, the more I realize how much in common I have with others – and how we can encourage one another in our own struggles. I am striving to live a transparent life, at least with my weight loss journey.

What would it look like if this “high-definition” or transparency extended beyond just my weight loss journey? Specifically, what would it look like if we were as transparent with each other about spiritual lives, our struggles with sin?

I think Satan thrives on our shame, our embarrassment, and the idea that if we share openly about a doubt or a struggle with sin, we are going to be looked upon as weird or criticized (and that may very well happen). It’s scary when you think about it: being authentic, real, and vulnerable; opening yourself up to the possibility of criticism and judgment.

God intended for us to live in community with one another, to share our struggles and to encourage one another.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We need to take the masks off, stop paying attention only to what our Facebook profiles portray as the perfect life, and start being more authentic with one another. Do we need to broadcast our struggles to the whole wide world? No, not necessarily. But I do believe it is important to have at least a few close relationships with a few people, with whom you can be honest and open. By becoming more transparent through my weight loss journey, I feel such freedom from my body image issues that have plagued me for most of my life. I wonder how much closer my relationship with God would be if I was as open with my spiritual life, and other areas as well.

 
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I am honored to be featured as a weight loss success story over at at Wellness Witness. Kara shares my passion for helping people become physically AND spiritually fit. Go check out her blog and my interview here.

And let’s talk about GIRL POWER! One of the reasons I love my Boot Camp class so much is the people! It’s a challenging class. I doubt I would do a workout like this on my own. But with friends who keep challenging me, it’s worth it! I love working out with the two women in this video with me. Definitely a great way to work your core and your butt and your shoulders…

 

 
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