Category Archives: health

lean into the unknown

six months into fort collins living – I went to a connect class at church today. it’s part of a four step process of learning about this specific local church, and diving into who I’m made to be at the same time – all of this prep to serve on the volunteer team.

i did not want to go this morning. i’ve been tired. like really really tired. and more than physical tiredness. i’m emotionally drained, spiritually apathetic. feeling sorry for myself and little entitled. i noticed my internal conversation this week went a lot like, “after all i’ve been through…this?”

so, i’m human.

and i didn’t want to go interact with people. i wanted to stay in the cycle of self defeat. why do we do these things?

good news though – i went anyway.

and when i arrived, the lady leading the group was stating her intentions for the day, that we would receive reminders, little sparks, (in my own words, synchronistic moments) that point us back to who we’re made to be.

i don’t know about you – but when apathy sets in, i build a thick wall against “feeling things.” against seeing them too – the small coincidences, or letting my heart swell with the vulnerable magic excitement of noticing – nope, not an option.

so with a puffed up chest, and you can’t touch me attitude, i walked into class.

“hmm,” i thought as she stated her intentions. i’ve closed myself off again. tired of feeling, tired of giving, tired of being open to pain.

and i allowed a portion of my guard down.

then we brainstormed the favorable qualities of a leader. she mapped it out on the whiteboard – “LEADERSHIP” with a circle around the word, then lines drawn out to the qualities we listed, “excellent communicator, servant hearted, inspiring, visionary, humble, altruistic, motivating…”

with her next question she erased the word LEADERSHIP, “how would you like your name written in the middle?” she posed to the class.

a few answered, saying it seems like a tall order, most said yes, it’s a high compliment.

then she wrote, “Amanda” in the middle.

again my mind went, “hmm.” out of the 25 people in the room, she chose to write my name, “ok, God, begrudgingly, i’m here. i guess i’m listening.”

we jumped into the lesson. first point she made – we hold ourselves back from incredible possibility. what holds us back? “insecurity, fear, inadequacy, reluctance” and then a bit about integrity (which after the past few years is one of my favorite topics).

and then she noted some values of this specific church: Jesus, a love for this city, family, radical generosity, sustainable rhythms, the importance of the details, and we are desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

i want to backtrack to “sustainable rhythms” because i was already planning ahead for my word of intention in July and SUSTAINABILITY came to mind. something lasting. something true; that forever kind of feeling.

and the paragraph under “sustainable rhythms,” went like this:

“we are passionate about going the distance and enjoying the journey. we work hard and rest well. we believe that work is God’s idea, that realizing a vision takes effort, that Sabbath is purposeful resistance against the rhythms of our culture, that recreation is restorative, and that health matters. we measure our pace, embrace our limits, laugh a lot, and trust God’s timing and provision.” 

“was this paragraph written for me?!” is exactly what i was thinking. “like what? how? how did they encompass all i’m searching for, all the themes scattered throughout my brain, and they even nailed the mic drop at the end – and trust God’s timing and provision.”

this is what has had me most sour lately. when some really really seemingly wonderful things have unexpectedly crept into my life and when these situations were climbing, obstacles overcome, the story was being made sweeter, grittier, complex, interesting, exciting, in ways – redemptive, and then –

nothing.

distance.

silence.

a screeching, confusing halt to what has been an incredible gift in my life.

cue the “WTF?” bubble over my brain.

however. because there has to be a however, people! apathetically, i dragged myself to connect class this morning. reluctantly, i opened pieces of me to receive. i (ok, unwillingly) heard trust and provision, and i let them in.

i remembered and can see how i’m in the exactly right place, and the timing is right on. because i can’t understand the pieces i don’t see, doesn’t make them bad.

i’m growing into who i need to be to accept the blessings meant for me in a way that is sustainable, in a way that is forever.

Jesus isn’t allowing easy because he knows my heart and knows i don’t want it that way. the gritty, deep, raw, everlasting, beautifully shocking, steadfast, full of grace, redemptive, hopeful, powerful, impactful story does not happen overnight.

multidimensional takes time, loads of effort, tremendous heart and will be well well worth the value expended.

God doesn’t draw us out to leave us here.

through no scheme of my own, i made it to fort collins. i’ve found work tailored for me and a church that feels more like home than anything i’ve known. i was eager to keep this option temporary, as this has been my pattern, but I see God at work.

maybe i can’t fully comprehend it all yet; and that’s ok. i’ll know when i need to, and i’ll continue to pour into what i’m doing and where i am and –

LEAN IN to all i’m becoming.

 

Audacious

Last June I was reading Wild on my condo balcony. My health and fitness hobby was growing into what could easily become a career. My mind was searching for which direction I would go. Would I continue to teach in a local school district one more year or would I knowingly give up a steady paycheck because deep down I had faith and a feeling this will work? Do I have enough courage to make it work when the feeling has left me?

In my deliberation, I never once thought teaching was inferior, though if I was honest with myself and everyone else, teaching in the U.S. in a public school was on my list of “nevers.” I did not want to become a teacher, especially not an elementary school teacher. What happened though is, I really wanted to move to Nashville and it was something I could do.

Often we make choices based on what we think we can do instead of aiming for what is nearly impossible (and what we would clearly need God’s help in achieving).

So in weighing both of my options, I only had one true choice. Continue to dole out advice I was hypocritically to terrified to exercise in my own life, or fall in love with the fear knowing my dependency on faith would multiply.

After a few, long, deep breaths and uplifting conversations with Nigel, I made the phone call. I said no, and thank you, to an opportunity. A really good, amazing, fantastic opportunity, because when I evaluated my motivation – money was at the core. I started teaching to get to Nashville. I was still teaching because even though teachers are not paid a great deal of it, money is involved, and it comes steadily.

I knew this is what I needed to do. I knew in my heart when I was moved to tears at the bravery and audacity of this woman who decided to write an honest story about her experience in coming home and embracing who she is. Her account paired with the notion in The Compound Effect about doing things in a big way and going for the shock factor over what is comfortable, made up my mind.

I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but knew, this is how I wanted my story to read:

she had a chance to live her life and she took it

Now, six months later, the choice is still scary. I still doubt. I still question myself and my crazy. It would be so practical to give up and move on; I’m doing what I do well, but am I doing it well enough?

This morning I spent some time reading Love Does by Bob Goff. This was gifted to me by a new friend who I don’t even truly know, but the internet and life work that way.

Aside from the heart and humor within each story Bob tells, he also continues to remind me dreaming in an enormous way is important. Having faith because it’s unlikely and unpractical and outrageous, is important and even necessary.

Bob has used the adjective “audacious,” nearly ten times in his book. Of course anyone is welcome to use any word they prefer, and still because he keeps using that word of all words, I know to hang on. I know to keep going, keep pushing, because nothing worth doing is easy (it’s what they say, right?) And because I never want to leave this life a little short of what I could have been.

When I look at who inspires me, I see the relentless, passionate few, who no matter what – never freaking give up. And in doing so they arrive where they are headed. They embody audacity and true faith.

Living our day to day naturally dims this drive. We all become very comfortable. Life is convenient, even easy mostly. So I don’t expect you to fully understand what I’m saying. Because when I’m in the routine, driving to and from work, tired, only slightly passionate, I forget too. However, in these moments when I take one second and let some truth touch my soul – I remember. I was meant for more, I can feel it. You were too. Whatever it looks like for you, I’m not sure. But what I do know is you should always do a “soul check.” Ask yourself questions regularly. Reflect on who you are and who you want to be and listen to what’s inside of you. At your core you always know which path to follow.

Be freaking audacious. In your actions, your love, your life. Every day, forever. Amen.

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So Far

It’s only week two of the year and I’m over here like – yikes. Not that anything has gone particularly unwell, but I’m seeing the worst parts of me show up. For some reason I thought my flying high moments of 2015 would be automatically grandfathered into this year. And they are but also, they are not. It’s a new start whether the old was phenomenal or not. We wake up and we do this life again and again and again. And mostly, I wanted to coast off of all of the positive and accomplished feelings of last year. But I must keep going. And it’s not all rosy.

So 2016, and this well-intentioned focus on health has not been easy. Good, right? Yes, I’m trying to keep asking myself the same question and responding with – Yes, you fool! Easy is boring. Easy lacks value. Easy is, well, easy. You want what you had to trudge through to acquire. You want the version of yourself made through mess and strife and humility.

I feel like I’m getting off track.

This weekend we went to the Farmer’s Market. I wanted to mention this because it’s part of why I’m so excited for this health initiative. I want to say just that – we went to the Farmer’s Market. To say we did sounds quaint and responsible. Really, we were frustrated with each other the entire time. I wanted Nigel to automatically know what we needed and how to do this whole trip to the FM. I hadn’t dug deep enough to know which foods are the best to snag at the market and which are not. The idea of going, in my head, was dreamy and hopeful. We’d make friends with the farmers and pick up fresh flowers and skip all the way back to the car. (Ok, kidding about the skipping part. I don’t think skipping takes space in any of my daydreams).

So we’d have this phenomenal trip to the FM and have everything we need and avoid the crowds and spend the rest of our day hiking and enjoying our weekly date. Except we weren’t ready for the FM, so now I have it penciled as my next task. Incredibly enough, I received Practical Paleo this weekend (after all the trips to the store, it’s ok) and I’ll be counting this book as my January health read. She does well to inform on what to find and where to find it, so I’m hopeful in future more magical trips to the market.

For now, I’ll share this week’s menu. We are rolling over a few meals from last week because they were so delicious.

  • Monday: Italian Chicken Fingers
  • Tuesday: Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Wednesday: Italian Chicken Fingers
  • Thursday: Honey Glazed Chicken
  • Friday: Maple Glazed Salmon
  • Saturday: out to eat/ date night
  • Sunday: breakfast all day! We made paleo blueberry scones today – and oh my sweet heavens, you have to try them.
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Day 4

Nigel: In this week we’ve eaten better than we have our entire marriage.

me: what do you mean better?

Nigel: everything’s delicious! 

Straight from my husband’s mouth, people. You could say Paleo was going well. We aren’t starting Whole30 right away and don’t know if we will. On second thought, I think we should since we are overhauling everything, right? What good is halfway? Regardless, we are still discussing that topic and researching.

I hadn’t been thrilled about starting a more Paleo diet until I had my cookbook, but since I’m still waiting, I’m glad we began imperfectly.

Because – chicken broccoli casserole, maple glazed salmon & italian chicken tenders. Yum. yum. yum. YUMMY.

I feel better. Sugar isn’t controlling my every move. I feel more awake and refreshed daily. (Note: working out and drinking Shakeology are also pieces to the puzzle )

And something my sister and I discussed last night: as humans, everything is emotional. Every thing. This is what separates us from computers. We feel. And how we feel is important, because how we feel affects our mood and our actions. And our mood and actions affect other humans and the environment around us. (Do you see where I’m going with this?) It’s impossible to shut off our feelers. Whether we express publicly or not, we are going to feel – something. Part of the reasoning behind the 2016 overhaul was to become better disciplined. Not let sugar take the lead in my brain, therefore feeling better, more alive, more clear. Usually this leads to more smiling, more positivity, more grace, more love to shower on others and to help them feel better. Such a wonderful cycle.

I hope you give yourself permission to feel fantastic. It will make the world a better place.

In sum: Emotions are everything. Sugar is not. Week one is delicious.

 

 

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Day Two

Last night’s paleo chicken and broccoli casserole was amazing

In fact, I’m sitting here wishing I could eat what is leftover (and keep telling myself no because – Intermittent Fasting). After all the stress of finding the ingredients at the store, cooking with Nigel while we listened to music and podcasts made it a little bit worth it. Something we didn’t consider was what would be a good trade for full fat coconut milk (light cream IS NOT a substitute).

a few tidbits of information we’ve gained through learning experience:

  • you’ll need a few hours to meal plan, which will include finding the recipes and making grocery lists
  • add another hour to find the ingredients while shopping. Maybe do some online research first to avoid unnecessary trips
  • add another few hours to meal prep. You can cook some if not most meals ahead of time. Make it an at home date (we plan to). Turn up the music and dance and taste test as you go!

With these tidbits in mind, I’ll be planning on Friday, shopping on Sat, and prepping on Sunday. Being healthy doesn’t have to be a chore so I’m hoping this groove will keep it enjoyable. Always in constant search of what is manageable as well, so this feels the most natural of options.

Finally, you guys, I’m thankful for the encouragement as doing something new is never ‘easy.’ We aren’t even starting any type of true elimination diet yet, simply starting paleo, researching, and gathering resources.

Speaking of, I had a friend reach out and share these paleo resources: 

paleogrubs.com, nomnompaleo.com

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Day One

It seems an invisible force is at work in society. One that manipulates largely with guilt. One that says taking care of you is selfish and unnecessary. This same force normalizes obesity, instant gratification, busy, blindly following directions. This force says, “don’t be weird, it’s just one bite, and you don’t have the time or funds to afford this kind of life.”

I refuse to believe these lies. I also refuse to believe health is an afterthought.

Health is the cornerstone, my friends!

Even if you believe with all your soul you weren’t meant to move, or fuel your body correctly, or get plenty of rest – I assure you, you are wrong. We were all meant to be healthy and though this world deals a hard blow with rampant illness, hate, confusion, handicap, disease – seeking health for yourself and those around you is not vanity.

This is what 2016 is for me. Not only the physical and mental strength I proclaim is necessary, no, every interwoven aspect of health. A whole-person health. 

When you are healthy, your spirit (your center, your conscience) is at peace. When you are healthy, your mind is clear and focused. When you are healthy, your heart is guided by pure principles and your passions/talent. When you are healthy, your body is agile, free from illness, stretched and able.

Spirit > Mind > Heart > Body. All pieces are connected. When one part of you suffers, your whole being suffers. When one part of you excels, you pull up other parts of you, (the same can be said about us as humans – we have the incredible ability to pull each other up or down, like magnets).

My goal with this overhaul is to become informed and cleanse from the inside out. While the very innermost part of us is our spirit, then mind, heart and finally body, I am blogging specifically on the topic – body.

Meanwhile, my daily routine consists of habits which strengthen other parts of me. For example, in the morning, I pray and express gratitude (spirit) and read scripture + non fiction for development (mind). I’m sure to fill my day with something “life-giving,” something that naturally breeds endorphins and feels associated with me, my skills or talents (heart).

And because everything is connected, these practices will sustain what I am doing for my body, (and because we are all connected, hopefully inform and inspire a few others).

A few details on day one:

  • becoming strict about Intermittent Fasting. It’s also healing and because the focus is health and healing, I want to continue and improve on this practice
  • which means I don’t eat until noon. This makes life easy. I focus on movement and water intake until it’s time to eat
  • later today, I’ll be prepping the paleo meals for this week (most all of them) and researching
  • the new goal is to meal plan on Friday. This will allow us to visit the farmers market Saturday and have everything in house by Sunday (meal prep day)
  • I am excited at any community born out of this year-long challenge
  • another goal is to find what is most affordable and manageable
  • decided to embrace the beautiful process that is understanding more about this topic

Happy, healthy Monday to all of you!

 

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Overhaul Prep

1.3

This is the most difficult part. Jumping in after the holidays, the time off, the cuddles, the sleeping in, the forgetting what day it is, the not worrying about the budget.

If only that time could last forever, right?

Well, reality says no and instead of fighting it, I’m doing my best to get to work on blogging through this health overhaul thing.

How about we do a ‘what I imagined would happen,’ vs. ‘what actually happened.

Imagined: receive Practical Paleo at or around Christmas and begin reading, meal planning, cross referencing. Wake up January 1st refreshed and ready to kick 2016 in it’s teeth; feeling new, feeling inspired, feeling ready to start chipping away at those goals.

Reality: still waiting on Practical Paleo, extended holiday festivities until this afternoon (meaning: doing whatever the hell we wanted on the first day of the year, hiking the second, and finally saying – ok, I guess we have to, today) spent about an hour and a half looking up paleo recipes online. Spent 30 more minutes compiling a grocery list. Went to three different grocery stores to find all the random flours I need in my cabinet to make the good stuff. Came home stressed, had a few mini ‘why am I doing this again?’ ‘this is so difficult!!’ and ‘why is this so expensive?!’ breakdowns. Then remembered I promised myself I would figure this out. The figuring out is always the hardest, but then you know – ya know? So I decided anything worth understanding is worth a little bit of trouble. And health is important! I refuse to let society decide my priorities for me.

I’ve accepted I cannot approach this having it all together. I need to make the effort I can and keep perfecting throughout the year. This is why we are starting with food, so I have twelve months to keep honing in on optimal health for myself and my family. It will get better.

So –

Sunday posts will be dedicated to showing you what is up this week as far as dinners and some snacks. Maybe you’d like to try some of the meals we are tasting this week? I’ll reference some resources below, but won’t post recipes due to copyright. Everything this week is paleo, dairy free, gluten free.

  • Monday – broccoli chicken casserole
  • Tuesday – maple glazed salmon
  • Wednesday – paleo italian chicken fingers
  • Thursday – turkey chili
  • Friday – leftovers
  • Saturday – date night (will be determined during Friday planning)
  • Sunday – breakfast foods (will be determined during Friday planning)

a few other items on the menu: breakfast coconut pecan bars, fluffy paleo pancakes, pumpkin pie cupcakes, avocado egg salad, grilled chicken pineapple salad

Resources:

grassfedgirl.com, mommayoungathome.com, tastesoflizzyt.com, theroastedroot.net, naturallyloriel.com, and lexiscleankitchen.com

ps. I don’t have my new website ready either, but it is on the way! Stay tuned!

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