Transformation Tuesday: Why I Practice yoga

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Transformation Tuesday and yoga

Transformation Tuesday isn’t just about the scale.  Its also about changing your body and your mind.  There is much change that has to happen in your body to be able to practice yoga well.  And in your mind.  And I’m not there on either level.  The pictures above are 2 years apart and about 60 lbs.

I started practicing yoga about 7 years and then took a break when I was pregnant and gained a ton of weight and could hardly do a cat pose to save my life.  But, since I started back in my healthy journey and have lost quite a bit of weight, I want to change my body as well.  Two dvds I really love in yoga world is JM’s Cardio Yoga and Bob’s Weight Loss Yoga.  Both in their upper levels kick my tail!

I can tell a total difference.  Sometimes I think I’m working out a muscle group well – then do some yoga and totally feel it the next day.  I must not be working out as hard as I thought.  But, I also like having a variance in exercising.  I do like how I can tell which side of my body needs more stretching out or which side I’m more balanced on.

I did a post years ago that I thought I would re-post some of  on here.  I think this tells how I can practice yoga and be a Gospel-centered believer.  As a friend said, we need to be vigilant on ideas that might fight against Christianity and the Spirit within us – but at the same time fight against legalism as well. This hopefully is a balance of the two.

First, to set everyone on the same terms, I pulled up our trusty friends at Merriem-Webster to find out the definition. This is what it said:
1. Yoga: a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.
2. yoga: a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being.

I completely agree with the first definition of big Y Yoga and do not practice little y yoga for the purpose of big Y Yoga.  You can separate the two. Of course Scripture tells us to fill our minds with things of the Spirit, Col 3.1-3 and Phil 4.8 and all through Psalm 119. This is what I like to do when practicing these exercises, or I listen to praise music, or I focus on what I am doing so I don’t fall over.

I think you can. How can putting your foot on the inside of the opposite thigh (tree pose) be an evil or cult or false-religion thing? How can stretching out your hips by laying forward in a pigeon pose be evil or anti-God? I think the movements, exercises, or little y yoga is actually good for us because it is allowing our bodies, or my body, to be healthier, to move better.

God created our bodies. He created them to move. When I practice yoga, and move my body in the ways that God has intended my bodies to be: healthy, mobile, active – then yes, I am using my body as God created me to – to bring Him glory. I can thank Him and praise Him for making my body to move, to be active, to be healthy, so I can do things that will bring glory to the only God of the universe, the great Creator. Why must an unbelieving false religion have hold and rites on this exercises and poses?

I don’t practice yoga poses to make me more acceptable to Christ. His blood bought my salvation and redeemed my life. I can freely choose to do yoga because of the freedom Christ has given me. There is nothing evil in the poses themselves. What we do with our minds and hearts while practicing these poses (or running, doing aerobics, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, surfing, etc) is important.

If I truly thought that practicing the exercises in yoga was hindering my walk with Christ, I would stop. But, I do yoga poses for the same reason I hike, bike, run or walk or lift weights: to make my body better. This is something the church seldom touches on, because we live with such obesity and gluttony and laziness. But, I don’t think there is a need to knock out these exercises.

Two words in closing:
1. If you are in a predominately Hindu culture, seeking to live out Christ, no, I would not recommend practicing yoga, even the poses, because of what it might convey to the folks you are trying to reach with the gospel.
2. This, just like many other issues in Scripture that aren’t blatant black or white, comes down to Christian liberty and the “weaker-brother” principle. So…here is my personal conclusion. I can practice this in my own home and not announce it on facebook. My roommate is not bothered by my practicing these yoga moves. I can practice it with one or two others who know my stance on the subject and don’t have a problem with it. Should I go to a studio and practice it, no…because I do not know who I might offend, or who I might lead to believe that I am practicing Big Y Yoga.

A cat’s pose and triangle pose and tree pose definitely help my core and sense of balance.  And help my jeans fit better!

Transformation Tuesday: When Setbacks Happen

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Transformation Tuesday

There comes a time in every weight loss journey when setbacks happen.  It is inevitable.  Whether you have a celebration to go to, a vacation to happily go on (where eating may be more than your normal), or you just have an emotional day and all you want to do is eat ice cream and french fries instead of your normal healthy plates…the scale will go up at some time.

But, there is happy news on the other side…it doesn’t have to keep going up.  I think that is the difference between those who are successful at keeping their weight off and continuing on their healthy journey, and those who return to an unhealthy lifestyle and let the pounds creep back on.

So, here are my tips, as I’ve had many setbacks, plateaus, and disappointing times on the scale the past 18 years.

  1.  Don’t let the scale be your judge.  I had a sweet friend of mine point out my addiction to the scale about 5 years ago.  I was hopping on it every day and knew that no matter what the scale said, it was going to determine how I felt, looked, and ate that day.  She invited me to know freedom from the scale (not just freedom from bondage to food), and to find my rest in my healthy journey in other more stable things: like making healthy goals, choosing healthy options, and noticing other telltale signs that I’m losing weight.  The scale can be so oppressive!  Don’t let it run your life!
  2. Don’t completely derail.  If you see the scale creep up, or your favorite skinny jeans are fitting more snug than they were last week, or you just know that you’ve picked up some unhealthy habits lately – don’t continue.  You can choose today to stop those unhealthy habits again before they take root.  Go buy some fresh produce.  Drink some green smoothies.  Cut out sweets for a few days.  Drink fewer diet sodas and trade them for water.  I’m a comfort eater and I know that my tendency is to overeat when something goes wrong in life.  My mister has been a good encouragement to me and he knows that I will feel even worse if I eat a lot.  So, he encourages me to talk about it or do something else rather than eat unhealthily.
  3. Accountability.  I think with every struggle that we have in life, accountability is something we all need.  Whether it is running (find a running buddy), eating right (write down your menu and share it with a friend), spending money (share your budget with someone and have them hold you accountable to overspending).  If we admit we have a problem to a friend, we can have the encouragement we need to fight through these discouraging times.  Know yourself and then pick a friend accordingly.  If you know that you aren’t encouraged by being yelled or belittled, than don’t pick a friend who is going to tell you how wrong you are.  I’m most encouraged by people telling me how far I’ve come and giving me some healthy options than I am by people putting me down.  Know yourself.  Then you will be able to tell a friend what you need.
  4. Look back on your journey.  I have a picture of my husband and I in our bathroom.  It was taken last November (almost a year ago) and I was almost 30 lbs heavier than I am now.  Each time I look at it, I see how far I had come from my pregnancy weight, and I see how far I’ve come to where I am now.  I don’t like how I look in that picture so I know I don’t want to return to where I was then.  So basically, see how far you’ve come and know that you want to keep going!

Don’t be too hard on yourself when setbacks occur.  And they will.  Instead, keep going!

Transformation Tuesday: Small Changes for the Win!

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Small Changes for the Win

So, we are coming up on October 1.  Fall is officially in full swing.  Temperatures are getting cooler – and that means running weather is getting perfect (unless you live where it snows all the time, then it may not be perfect).

October 1 I had a goal set.  I am not going to make that goal.  But, I made two other goals this week that are helping ease that disappointment: 2 ladies at the gym today encouraged me by how good I was looking – and I have now lost 50 lbs since joining the gym.  And the second is that my BMI Is back in the healthy range!  That made me very excited!  So, I will keep pressing on and hopefully make the goal soon.

This week talking about some small changes that can lead to some major results over time – if you stick with the little changes faithfully.I’m not saying never break them -because that’s legalism and can lead to falling off the wagon completely – but regularly. You will see results.

What small changes can you make that will make a big difference?

  1.  Making your own foods instead of buying processed.  If you control the ingredients you put into your food – most of the time you are going to be better.  Homemade chicken nuggets may not be as quick and easy – but they are more healthy.  Making your own mixes and cookies often lessens the sugar in them but A LOT.  Venture out – get in the kitchen!  Here is my Healthy Living board on Pinterest.  Check some of them out.
  2. Drink less carbonated beverages.  I’m definitely not one of these people that say you can never have a coke in your life.  I know there are bad things about it – and I think there are bad things about everything you can put in your body.  But, it may not be the best thing for you to have a 32 oz diet coke every morning (hint: that was me). Water works too you know! Here are some fun infused recipes.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I’m not saying give up pasta, or rice, or potatoes – but definitely learn to snack on fruit and have lots of vegetable side dishes. They are so easy and you can eat them raw or gently cook them to preserve the vitamins in each fruit or vegetable.  Today I was making scones and I usually would be have eaten a whole one – but I was snacking on grapes and then I just sampled one to make sure it tasted blog-worthy.  If you get bored, try her recipes – I love them!
  4. For exercise: use your children’s nap time to do a workout video in your own home or get on the treadmill.  Walk places that you normally wouldn’t walk to.  Where I live I could easily walk to the grocery store and to the gym. The reason I don’t is usually because I either have kids that aren’t in strollers anymore and I fear for their safety – or I am doing it on the spur of the moment and only have a few minutes to run in and run out.  Join a gym if you are financially able to.  Practice yoga.  Play at the park with your kids.  While my older son was on the swing the other day I would push him, then do two jumping jacks – then push him again.  He was laughing at me – but who cares – I like making him laugh.  I love going down the slide with my boys – one of the reasons I wanted to lose weight.  Be active with your kids.  Show them that activity is important – not just tv and video games.  Here’s my exercise pinterest board.  I’m not endorsing all of these but just to give examples (I’ve not actually looked at every single one).

These are just a few of the small changes I’ve made in our lives – what are some changes you are making to bring about a healthier you?

Transformation Tuesday: Claim Your Inner Prophet

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Transformation Tuesday

Its another Tuesday.  Thankfully the scale is moving again – but more importantly than the scale are the NSVs this week (non-scale victories).  I can finally comfortably fit back in my favorite Bass pencil skirt and will be wearing it for a photo shoot next week – and my jeans are too big. Those are both happy things in my closet!

Disclaimer on the pictures above: I love all three of these girls and these weddings were precious to me.  But, now all these years later, and I can wear the black dress (the one on the left) again.  I love that dress!

This week I want to talk about talking to yourself.  Every week I pass another church on the way to our church.  This “church” is a denomination that clearly doesn’t believe the Gospel – but their signs always peak my interest.  When I say the sign that said “Claim Your Inner Prophet” I thought it was so true.

A Prophet is one (in the Bible) who claimed to hear the voice of God for a particular people.  If he was a true phophet then those things would come true.  There were definitely many false prophets.  Well, here is how that applies:

You are a prophet in a way.  The Bible, God’s very true word, was given to you (and me) to know God’s truth and claim it.  Every promise of God is yes to us in Christ Jesus.  The Bible stands true 2000 years ago and will stand true in 100 years and stands true today.  So, if you know the truth – then the truth will set you free.

Set you free from what?

From standing in front of the mirror saying how much you hate your body, your stretch marks, your pooch, your bottom, your double chin, the fact that you don’t have a thigh gap, your calves, your rolls of fat, your slouchy chest because you’ve breast fed 5 kids or you are just aging.

From walking through malls and declaring how you’ll never measure up to the models and the mannequins and the size 0 dresses that are hanging in the store fronts.

From bingeing because a relationship just went down the tubes, or your parenting has been less than stellar that day, or you got in an argument with your spouse, or even you favorite tv show didn’t end the way you wanted to.

From being lazy because you really should go for a walk but you just don’t want to because its not the perfect temperature, or you have nothing clean to wear, or what good is a walk going to do me anyway.

From being tied to that scale number.  And if it goes up you have a bad day or your binge or you don’t eat.  And if it goes down you are on cloud 9 and you could leap tall buildings and run a marathon – or get that date.

From the belief that your marital status is because of what size you wear.  That no one will ever love you unless you are a certain size or weigh a certain number.

All of these things are lies.  Pure lies.

There is being healthy – living in God’s body the way He designed you to, and not being obese, or putting insane amounts of unhealthy foods in your mouth at one time.  There is exercising and eating right because God has not called us to be laze or gluttonous.

“Finally, brother, whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable…if there is anything worthy of praise, think (and do) about these things.”

Philippians 4:8

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price – so glorify God in your body.”

 1 Corinthians 6.19-20

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Psalm 150.6

“Why are you cast down, o my Soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 42.5

These are just a few of the verses that your inner prophet can claim – and live and walk and abide and eat and exercise in truth.

Jeans come and go.  Abs come and go.  Brownies and ice cream come and go.  Organic green smoothies come and go.  But the Word of the Lord stands forever.

I’ve struggled with all of these.  YES.  For a really long time.  And God is breaking me of bondage to sin on a daily basis.  Know that the grace of God is bigger than anything that you face in life.

Transformation Tuesday: Community and Weight Loss

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Transformation Tuesay

Hi friends.  Welcome back for another edition of Transformation Tuesday, where I talk about all things in this healthy living lifestyle.  I’ve hit a plateau in weight loss which I knew would be coming since I’m getting down to a healthy weight anyway.  But, I’ve still got about 7 lbs to go and I’m not giving up!

This is a tough topic because we all have food loves and food issues.  But, what I want to talk about today is the importance that community plays in your weight loss journey.  I’ve been involved in weight watchers several times, and that has shown me how helpful it is to have people around you that have the same goals.  This applies in many different avenues in life: parenting, job related skills, creative outlets, runners groups, etc.

Why is this the case?

  1.  Motivation.  I have found when I have people around me who have similar lifestyle and health goals it is easier to pursue my goals.  I think that is one reason I knew that my mister was on the one for me.  Now my mister does not have trouble with weight and can eat anything.  But, he likes healthy foods (and still eats what I bake) and he always wants to be active.  We love to hike together, even now with our boys, and he could eat grilled salmon and other whole foods ALL THE TIME. For me, I knew I didn’t want to marry someone who really struggled with their weight.  I needed someone who could spiritual and actively lead me in this area because I knew it was a stronghold in my life. Just like if you have money spending issues, you don’t want to marry someone who also has a heavy hand when it comes to credit cards.  I love that we pursue an active and healthy life together – and still enjoy some summer ice cream cones and celebratory food days too.  So, when it comes to friends, it is easier for me to surround myself with people with similar interests and goals: active lifestyle people, healthy cooking, knowledge of their bodies and why we should take care of them. Not that you can’t go out and have a cookie together – but not letting one cookie lead to indulging every day in baked sweets.  Another example: if you are an alcoholic, if you are trying to break the addiction, you don’t want to hang out with other people who drink too much.
  2. Challenge.  I am a competitive person, we’ve talked about that before.  Right now, I have a “bet” going on with a friend in another state.  She asked me to help her with accountability so that’s what we are going to do.  But, we have the same goal weight number in mind for a short term goal and we weigh the exact same thing.  So, I asked her if we could put a wager on it: whoever gets their first gets a 10$ gift card from other to Target.  Perfect!  Game on!  I love people who push me in running.  When I started running, I had three friends who were so pivotal in that: Sarah, Sloan, and Sarah (another one).  I was single and could run anytime I wanted, but it was good to have running buddies and people to do races with. I don’t have that here.  I miss that. I do love running by myself, but I don’t have anyone locally to challenge me in that area.  In every area I’ve lived since I’ve had athletic people around me to challenge me and help me succeed – that is something I desire here as well.  Its important.
  3. Encouragement.  One of the nicest things a family member said to me when I first lost a TON of weight back in college was absolutely transformational for me.  But the comment that got me to a point in life that I knew I needed to lose the weight was awful and I remember it to this day.  I want to encourage others, not make people feel bad about themselves. I want to push people to meet their goals in weight loss.  I want to keep them on the right track.  I want to help them see the spiritual side of the struggle of weight loss and taking care of our bodies in a God-glorifying manner (I’ve got a book in the works if anyone wants to publish it.)  I find even a simple text or a note to accomplish this.  A friend and I text almost every day to see how we are doing eating and exercising.  It is good accountability.  And if we have had a bad day – we don’t yell at each other in all caps: we tell ourselves that the next meal is a new chance to be healthy – and get to that gym – even for 15 minutes.  I can not tell you enough how much positive reinforcement helps in this area.  My mister has learned this.  I often am a comfort food eater.  He has learned not to criticize me in that moment, but talk to me gently and help me to see other ways of coping with whatever is going on – and if I do still mess up, he forgives me quickly and champions me in ways I’m being healthy and meeting my goals.

Transformation Tuesday: Healthy Recipes

Transformation Tuesday

Cooking and I go way back.  I had to start cooking and grocery shopping when I was in grade school but I didn’t know anything about healthy eating back then.  I came into my love of cooking in college.  And as I’ve gotten out on my own, I love baking, sharing my table with others, and I’ve loved eating healthier too.

What you put in your body is just as important as how much you move your body when wanting to lose weight (or just to stay healthy).  And nowadays, everyone has specific diets: gluten free, no dairy, vegetarian, no carbs, vegan, fat free, etc.  Whatever way you is up to you and your doctor, but here are some of my favorite healthy recipes from over the years.

Enjoy – and please share your fave healthy recipes in the comments so others can see them.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – perfect, creamy, and definitely packed with protein with the chickpeas.  Eat it with a spoon or with some raw veggies for a perfectly nutritious appetizer or small plate.

Black Bean Salsa – I usually make this several times a year.  Raw, whole ingredients.  Can’t get better than that.  And it is perfect for a topping on meats or salads, and you gotta have this to go with your standard Taco Tuesday.

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls – most people do allow for some bread – and what better way than to use whole wheat flour and just imagine the smell of yeast in your home – I think it is an amazing smell.

Black Bean and Chicken Chilaquiles – quite possibly my favorite Cooking Light recipe.  I love mexican food and this for breakfast is a huge treat

Homemade Granola Bars – yes, you can buy granola bars, but when you make them you can control how much sugar and fat and preservatives you put in.  So much better for you!

Spinach Casserole – I know this doesn’t sound like much but it is simple comfort food.

There are so many others – and tons of salads and smoothies!  Fresh foods and colors in your food are two helpful things to remember when going healthy.  More color usually means more vitamins!


Transformation Tuesday: Good Vibes Only

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Tranformational Tuesday Good Vibes Only

One of the biggest encouragements to me in the losing weight and healthy living game is affirmation from others.  Words of affirmation are important to me in almost every area of life, so there is no reason it should be any different in this area.

Maybe you are the same?  And maybe you do have people in your life who are your encouraging accountability friends and also those friends who give you the right words even when you’ve blown it by eating a hot fudge brownie sundae because you were having a bad day (those days happen).  They are the friends you have, either by text, phone, or in person, that will help you when you are wanting to ruin all the hard work you’ve done by blowing off your diet because its “that time of the month”.  You hopefully have people in your life who are helpful with new healthy recipes or new exercises that will help you beat the humdrum diet chamber we all can get in sometime.

One area that I think everyone needs encouragement in is the closet.  Most women are emotionally helped when they look nice.  I remember that lesson from high school.  If you want to do good on a test, dress smart or dress nice that day.  It would usually boost your test scores more than if you wore cut-offs and flipflops. Well, women, if you are losing weight, keep your closet a “good vibe only” place!

Pictures below: at 225 when my older son was 4 months old.  and last week at 166 when my older son is almost 3.  I really love that scarf and my hair in the picture on the left.  But, I love that outfit a whole lot more on the right!

Before & After

Here are a couple of things to consider:

  1.  Wear what fits.  Right now I am in between sizes in my jeans.  The ones that I’ve been wearing are getting too big, but the ones I have folded on my skinny shelf fit fine in the legs, but still leave me with a muffin top (that no woman wants).  Tip: wear the bigger ones.  They will make you look smaller than if you are trying to squeeze every single pound into too small of clothes.
  2. Wear what makes you feel pretty.  If you think you look pretty, stylish, or thin – chances are other people will think so too because you will exude more confidence.  That confidence will also help you as you eat that day.  It will remind you of all your hard work that you’ve put into a new healthy lifestyle.
  3. Ask your spouse/boyfriend/SO: The person I want to please most with what I wear is my husband.  His is the gaze I want to hold.  So, ask your mister (or significant other) what he likes, what looks good on you, what patterns he would go for, etc.  And if he doesn’t like something, and you aren’t that attached to it, sell it or give it away – no use having it in your closet.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up!  The print above is from my friend Bpaperie and I won it from her shop.  It helps when I look at it in my closet to not be so condemning of every roll or stretch mark (thank you babies and years of weight loss yo-yo dieting) or inch of cellulite.  Focus on your strengths and how much weight you have already lost.

Transformational Tuesday: Gym Routine

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Transformation Tuesday

Most people who know anything about weight loss (and maintaining weight loss) will tell you that it can’t be just about what you put in your body, but also has to include what you do with your body.

Over the last 21 months I’ve been trying to lose the baby weight from back to back babies.  During that time I also moved states and now am finally getting settled into life with two toddlers.  We are an active family and I seldom keep the boys at home.  It is a fun, busy life.  One that I need energy for.  So, I’m learning how to change my eating habits and also work hard at changing my body tone every day.  (The photo above is from my lingerie shower about 6 weeks before I got married.  I can wear that dress again!)

Where I’ve been: when I delivered both my boys I was at 257.  Yikes.  That is an awfully high number for my 5’7″ frame and I know some of it was water retention.  But, I’ve now lost 86 lbs since my second was born in October of 2013.  I still have 15 to go to the weight I want to maintain.  I’m back below the weight I was when I wore my wedding dress back in October 2011.

As I’ve been doing this weight loss journey, I’ve had friends ask my how I do it.  Here are a few things:

1.  Eat less but also eat naturally healthy foods.  This is 80% of what I eat: whole, natural, foods including animal products.

2.  I have mainly cut out breads and potatoes and pastas.

3.  MOVE!  I will talk more about this further down in this post.

4.  Drink plenty of water.  I use the “half of your body weight in ounces” rule.  But, I also drink diet cokes (please, no rant in the comment section about this).

5.  Have people who are cheering you on.  We all need cheerleaders and I think that losing weight it so hard to do on your own.

6.  Self-discipline.  This, for me as a Holy Spirit filled believer, is a gift given to me by the Spirit.  I just need to put it into practice more often.

7.  Enjoy life.  You can do this by eating special meals every now and then or having dessert every now and then – but find other ways to enjoy life and celebrate.

Ok – since this post is mostly about working out and exercise, I want to just tell you what I’ve done.  First let me say that with two toddlers I would not have been able to lose this weight this quick without my parents who pay for my gym membership each month and that comes with childcare.  So I spend time at the gym 6-7 days a week.  It helps my body and my sanity.  And my boys love the kids klub!

I typically spend about 40 minutes doing cardio (either a spin bike or running – especially if I’m training for a race).  Then I spend the rest of the time doing body weight strengthening.  I’ve recently been enjoying the 30 Day Plank Challenge and the Little Black Dress Challenge.  It helps to have accountability so I’m in groups on facebook with friends of mine who are scattered throughout the country.  When I’m not in the gym sometimes my boys and I will walk a trail in Alpharetta in the shade for about an hour or we will play on playgrounds.  One night a week typically we will bring Daddy along and hike along the Chattahoochee which is fun but not very fast when you have toddlers who want to stop and look at everything.

Whatever you need to do – please take care of yourself.  Maybe you can take the money you spend on eating out or coffee trips and put some of that toward a gym membership.  Maybe buy some videos (I like Jillian’s 30 Day Shred and Bob’s Weight Loss Yoga).

Take care of yourself – for yourself and for others.