Dealing With Stress
Don't worry, I'm still here!
I have been excruciatingly negligent in posting anything, anywhere on this blog!!!
Truth is, life has been stressful lately, and I haven't had the time, or the ambition to write much of anything!
The musical I was working on had it's opening night last week, so that was very exciting...but leading up to it was becoming more and more stressful. I'm used to the "regular" stress of getting close to a show opening, but there was a lot of tension and conflict between members of the crew, and it was starting to wear on me.
I also have a good friend who has been really struggling with a lot, and, after many scary episodes, she has checked into rehab in Toronto for 6 weeks, leaving behind her husband and kids.
My life has also been interrupted by a new person who has boundary issues, and who doesn't understand that I prefer solitude and order in my day. I can (and do, a lot!) have my days interrupted, I can adjust to changes, I can adapt when I need to - but when the intrusions are everyday - I am just overwhelmed and exhausted.
And early in the new year we (my husband and I) were asked if we would want to cook at a summer camp. The decision was not a simple one at all, and caused me a lot of stress. There are so many parts of our lives that do not lend themselves to just picking up and being gone for a whole summer. Things like our gardens, large yard that needs mowing, horses, cat, dog, son with autism - and my aforementioned need for sameness and solitude!! We kept going back and forth about this decision, but finally (after sorting out some of the obstacles in the way), we said that we would be available to cook for camp. And by "we", I mean "me" because my husband still has a job he has to go to!
Speaking of jobs, money has been stressing us out lately as the money we have seems to be getting dumped into a sieve and pouring out and down the drain! For years we've been pretty good with money, but a few years ago (when we bought our house, really) we suddenly had a lot of things that needed being paid! I feel more stressed and pressured now about money than I did our first year of marriage when our gross income was around $13,000! Yes, I said gross income! And our rent then cost us $750, so didn't leave too much for anything else, but we figured it out, and I don't remember thinking "oh crap...how are we going to buy groceries?".
And in the last few months we have gone to a lot of funerals. And that just wears you down......
Anyway........I'm ranting and venting......and getting to the point......about stress!
I felt like I was getting sucked into the undercurrent of all the things life was hurling at us. Generally I can deal with stress because there will only be one or two things at once, and I can still find a way to cope. But this time? I was drowning.
So, I needed to really dig deep and figure out how I could let off some steam before I blew a gasket (or, blew more gaskets....I had already blown a few)! Here are some things I started doing to keep me going.
Tips for Dealing With Stress
It'll come as no surprise that this is my first tip.
If all you do is get out for a 10 minute walk, that will help! When you're stressed out, your body is reacting with chemicals that signal "fight or flight"! So, using up these hormones by way of physical activity can do a world of good for your stressed out mind and body!
And basically, when your stressed, there isn't (really) such a thing as "too much exercise". Just get moving, and get feeling better!
For me, I exercise everyday, but I tried adding more yoga, and when the weather was nice, taking a walk., and both helped. I also moved my workouts outside. Normally I would wait to start working out outside until it's really sunny and warm, but I decided that getting outside for the extra fresh air (even if it meant working out with a sweatshirt on) would be great. And it was.
This one was a zinger....but I realized the more stressed I felt, the more coffee I was downing in the morning, and the wine I was drinking in the evening. Whomp whomp.
Caffeine is stimulant, which when taken in excess causes a heightened level of stress. And alcohol, when consumed in larger quantities, is a depressant, which is obviously not helpful. Extra stressed all day, super depressed all night. That's a loose/loose!
So, for me, I cut out wine and tried drinking teas at night. It sounds like such a "bleh" switch, but there really are some great teas out there, and they can be delicious and soothing. I also cut my 3-4 cups of coffee (and the cup I use is really about 1 1/2 "normal" cups of coffee) to 1, and sometimes 2 cups. Once I cut back, I actually found that I often didn't even want more than the 1 cup.
Stress causes sleep to be interrupted, and lack of sleep causes stress....so you can see that this is a vicious cycle!
If you aren't getting sufficient sleep, your stress will persist. So, find a method to help you get the sleep you need. For me, it was melatonin.
Melatonin is "a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour "clock" that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin. When it is light, the production of melatonin drops. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening, or too little light during the day, can disrupt the body's normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles" (Source).
I find melatonin fascinating, and first started using it for my kids when I needed them to get to sleep, and have a good solid sleep. Then I recently asked myself, "why the heck aren't I taking it too?!?!"
So, when I realized that my stress was becoming worse because of my severely interrupted sleep, I decided to take some melatonin (I buy mine from Vitacost - see the link in the side bar!). Man, waking up after having a good nights sleep made me feel like a million bucks! All my stressful situations were still present, but I didn't wake up exhausted and dreading the day!
If you're not into melatonin, try drinking a "sleepy time" tea. Chamomile tea works wonderfully for sleeplessness. As does giving yourself some time before bed without any very bright lights on (remember your natural melatonin increases when it gets darker). Whether this means just turning off the computer, t.v. or cell phone half an hour before you plan to go to bed, or try taking a warm bath or reading a (non exciting!) book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you. Something else I found helpful was trying to aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day. This helped my mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine, and made me feel like I had some control over something (which can feel empowering when life seems out of control!)
Get It Out
Whether by talking to someone, or writing it down in a journal, a great way to help beat some stress is to share it.
If you talk to someone about it, be sure it's someone who you can trust to not devalue what you're going through, Most times when we're stressed we just need someone to say, "that sucks! not, "Well, that's not so bad!". Am I right?
You also want to know that if you're stressed about someone, that the person you're talking to can be trusted to not gossip about it because that can make the stress even worse!
If you'd rather write it all down in a journal this can be therapeutic too. Writing it down can also help you pin-point some of the stressors (if they aren't obvious). Maybe write down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanism.
Lay Down & Be Quiet
This one can be hard, but try to find a few minutes a day to just be quiet. I honestly really enjoy the hill right outside of our barn. I walk there, and lay down and look up into the sky. It makes my worries feel small when I can be quiet.
Laying down really seems to make the quiet even better, so try to find a spot you can do that. Maybe you can go into a room and turn off all the lights and lay down. Or sit in your car and put the seat back and close your eyes. Don't let going to bed be the only time you've let your body lay down and be quiet. It feels really (surprisingly) calming to lay down for a few minutes when it's NOT bed time. Try it sometime!
Well, this last one is a little whacky, but just smile! I'm not even talking about when you're thinking of something pleasant, or when reading or watching someone wonderful - I'm talking about smiling RIGHT NOW! Seriously, if you're reading these words, just start smiling.
I've known for a long time that smiling can actually change the way we perceive a situation, and honestly never cared whether it was scientifically true or not because I knew that smiling helped me feel better! This article goes into detail and talks about how there is actual scientific proof that smiling can help us feel better!!!
I mean, it's free, you can do it anywhere, anytime, and it helps! Hello?!? This is a winner!
Truthfully, sometimes I'm grumpy or stressed, so I'll fake smile, and then I'll suddenly start laughing because I realize how crazy I must look! Hahaha, so, in those cases I'm clearly feeling better because now I'm laughing (at myself, but still, it's laughter!) : )
So, these are the methods I use to help me not feel like I'm all tangled up in mangled up knots (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, anyone???)
I hope that, if you're feeling stressed today, these tips I've shared helped you feel even a little bit better. Pick one or two you can do and see how you feel!
You Are Worth More
Today I want to share a post from Maddy Moon, and woman who believes in having a healthy relationship with heath, fitness and food.
I wanted to share this article because I believe that for a lot of people, feeling "good" is based on the food choices we make. we secretly feel proud and maybe even a little self-righteous if we've eaten well, and feel guilty if we haven't. Why should we feel those things just because of our food? What we eat doesn't make us good or bad, so why should it leave us feeling good or bad?
I've only included a portion of the post, but you can read the full article by cliacking here.
Why Your Kitchen Spirituality Is A Waste Of Time
I’m going to make a bold assumption and say that you most likely agree with the fact that everywhere you turn, there’s a friend trying out a new diet, meal plan, fitness regime or healthy lifestyle.
You stand by watching them as they share their guilt-free recipes to the world, influencing others to create their own black and white beliefs toward food.
I admire people who decide it’s time to improve their quality of life by incorporating more self-care or health-benefiting routines.
This is different than what I’m worried about.
There are individuals trying to make a legitimate life change that leads to beautiful outcomes, such as a healthier heart, better sleep, a more efficient metabolism, fertile loins, and a positive mindset.
There are also individuals who may begin their “lifestyle” change with some basic goals such as wanting to improve their running time, lose some poundage, eat better, and so on....
But then, morality gets mixed up with food choices. In other words, how “good” you are in the kitchen directly relates (and exemplifies) how good you are as a person.
Any time we put all of our faith and trust into a worldly thing, we will fail to achieve the absolutely fullest and richest level of love possible.
Let go of the concept that how good you are in the kitchen is how “worthy” you are as a human being.
Where does your worth come from?
I hope this little snippet gives you something to think about. I know that I often feel better or worse about who I am based on what I've eaten, so the message is real and relevant to me.
Try to listen and see what messages you tell yourself about your worth based on what you eat. Try to silence the negative voice that puts you down, and encourage forgiveness & show kindness to yourself.
Keep It Real: Real You!
Today is the final week of my "Keep It Real" series! We talked about real simple, real food, and real interesting, and today we're going to talk about real YOU!
In all things health & fitness, if it's ain't you, it ain't gonna work! I'm going to talk about this regarding how you exercise and eat, but also in who you are. I think this last one matters most.
"Oh, working out isn't me, so I'm not going to do it!", that's not what I'm saying when I say to be the real you in fitness.
What I'm saying is this: if you know you should be working out, then get working at it and find out what kind of health & fitness person you are!
Do you love running? Swimming? Boxing? Jumping rope? Step-class? HIIT workout videos? Jazzercise? Sweating To The Oldies?!?!
As long as you're moving, then it's good!!!
Do try new things though, because you can't be certain what kind of fitness person you are until you've tried a few things. I, for instance, don't like Zumba. I've tried it, it wasn't my cup of tea, so I've moved on. I can still find a ba-zillion other ways to work out beyond Zumba. But if I was thinking, "gee, it's Zumba or nothing", then I would likely be doing nothing! If I was forcing myself to do Zumba, I would hate it & get bored. Both hate and boredom are classic reasons to quit working out!
Talking food and nutrition; if you really hate eating steamed veggies, but are forcing yourself to because you want to eat healthier, well, just stop! Eating raw veggies is great for you too, and if it means you still love vegetables, well then that's awesome!
You probably wouldn't enjoy being a vegetarian if you are a die hard meat lover, and if you hate meat, don't go on a low carb/high protein diet!
You know (as an adult) you should try new foods, and of course I would agree with that. But don't force yourself to eat things that make you feel sick to your stomach from repulsion just because they are good for you! A personal example is how much I despise lychee fruit! Seriously, I popped one in my mouth once because I had heard a lot of good things about this berry, and immediately spat it out because it felt the way I might imagine an eyeball would feel in my mouth!!! Bleh, it still makes my skin crawl thinking about it now! And pomegranate, although I know how good it is for you, has never been a favourite of mine because I can't stand the crunch of the seeds, and choosing to just try to eat the fruit off the seeds seems pointless and frustrating, and I don't even enjoy the taste enough to want to bother!!! Wow, what a run-on sentence! : )
The point though? I tried!
Add variety to your workouts and foods, but don't go forcing something that you deep down hate!
Now, here's what matters most.......I think most of you know this stuff I've been saying, right? Maybe some information I've given has been new, but a lot of it hasn't been, I'm sure.
So, what's wrong? What's happening where we know so much, but are succeeding so little?
No, not "it's you" as in it's your fault, but "it's you" as in, it's the stuff we can't write about. That thing that you can't buy a book or DVD about....it's that thing you can't quite pin down to help you reach whatever goal you have.
In an article I really appreciated reading from Rebooted Body, they said:
"The reason people can have the right information and still fail — or the right information and never start — is because of that intangible component. If our job as mentors, coaches, program-designers, gym owners, fitness instructors, yoginis, and nutritionists was to program robots to live, eat, sleep, and exercise according to a blueprint we’d all have a 100% success rate.
Robots aren’t human. They don’t have an inner child. In other words, they don’t have meaningful history and the fear, insecurity, self-doubt, self-sabotage, anger, sadness, and shame that are attached to that history.
Humans have all of those emotions and those emotions act as roadblocks to success whether you’re operating with the right information on not
Food is the easiest drug to access. On top of that, processed foods are designed to be addictive. We know that hard drugs and alcohol are a coping mechanism. We need to understand that food is not just a similar coping mechanism, it’s the most popular and most easily accessible one.
The health and fitness industry is dead because health (nutrition and lifestyle education) and fitness are no longer adequate for addressing the issues of body image, disordered eating, addiction, and all of our metabolic concerns. It’s all about the psychology and mindset of the individual.
People who are trapped in the cycle of addiction and dependency — which is far more pervasive than anyone realizes — can’t simply be informed to change".
Well said, yes?
It is my hope here, on this Bushel & A Peck Health & Fitness blog that I can inform you, but most importantly, challenge you to think, and think hard, about why you're doing what you're doing.
All the information in the world can't confront and defeat the enemies of addiction, dependency, low self-worth, unhealthy body image, low confidence, depression, anxiety, and learned helplessness. It can’t correct the consequences of physical, mental, and emotional abuse, which in varying degrees is far more pervasive than anyone wants to admit.
You are a person who is here because you are interested in health & fitness in one way or another. But expand your definition of "health & fitness" to mean all of you. Your mind, body and soul.
Be real with yourself. Be real for yourself. Keep It Real: Real YOU!
The reason we think "I must do Zumba and I must eat steamed veggies!" is because we're unsure about what to do (not in the information sense--we're bogged down with information!!--, but in the sense that we still feel lost), and society/industry wants to keep it that way. It keeps us from seeing who we are, seeing where we hurt, and that keeps us buying more videos and diet plans we don't need.
Can I say one last thing? Don't be afraid of who you are and the hurts you've suffered. Don't be afraid to set those suitcases of issues down, open them up, and sort that stuff out.
Depending on who you are, these suitcases will be heavier or lighter, and filled with varying degrees of hurts.....
I am still sorting through my junk I've been carrying around....I know I need to because I still struggle with food and my relationship with it. But I want to be real with myself so that I can be real with others.
I hope that you can be encouraged and know that wherever you are in your journey of health & fitness (mind, body, soul), you are not alone.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, ‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.’
Friends, here is your chance. Being real and sorting through all you carry around can be scary because it requires hard work, soul searching, and commitment.....but it'll be worth it. It will be worth it.
Keep It Real: Real Simple
Today's post is the first of four "Keep It Real" posts I plan to do! I wanted to do 5 (because there are 5 Monday's in February), but I don't want to box myself in! I have four "Keep It Real" ideas planned and drafted, and if I'm inspired with 1 more idea, well then this will be a February long series! : ) If not, then it'll just be a random, four week series!
So, nutrition and exercise can get so freakin' complicated, right?!
Calorie counting, points counting, trans-fats, low fat, no fat, cholesterol free, low carb, low sodium, gluten-free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free, sulfite free, yeast free, fructose free, sucrose free.....
Lots of cardio, little cardio, strength training, weight training, high impact, low impact, HIIT, yoga, walking, swimming, running.....
I know I'm missing a bunch, but I mean, what the heck?!?
People get easily (and understandably!) overwhelmed at the notion of health & fitness and that can derail any efforts right out of the gate!
Can I assume though that you know that eating a bag of chips and having a 6-pack of beer every night will make you gain weight?
Can I assume that you know if you never exercise or move at all you won't be strong and in good physical health?
If you understand these things, you are off to a great start!!!!
I had a friend years ago who simply stopped drinking Coke, and lost so much fat so fast it was crazy!!! It couldn't have gotten more simple!
What might "simple" look like to our example above? Well, not drinking a 6-pack of beer every night with an entire bag of chips (maybe just start by cutting back a little--3 beers and half a bag of chips is a start!) and doing some physical activity like a simple 5 minute walk (remember being told to park at the back of a parking lot to get a little exercise?-do that!) or marching on the spot for 2 commercial breaks can be a great and important start in the right direction; the direction of being healthy!!!
This short and sweet (and simple!) post is meant to get you thinking. I want you to think simple. Real Simple! Think about the basics of your body and what would make it it's very best. We are a society who is largely failing at health & fitness (pun intended, I guess!), but we are being bombarded with information about it...how can this add up? It doesn't add up because we are thinking too much and doing too little! It doesn't need to be wildly confusing! Just keep it simple...start where you, with who you are!
I hope you'll meet me here again next Monday as we continue taking this journey of "Keep It Real" ("keeping it real", if we're being grammatically correct!) : ) I want to encourage you, build you up, inform you, and help you make the move to the best health you've ever had!
Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss
A lot of people talk about and focus on weight loss. If you're looking to lose weight, well.....ok. But might I suggest instead that you consider losing fat instead? Is there a difference? Oh yes, oh yes indeed!
The last few weeks I've been working at losing some of the extra Christmas love I got (read: lots of visiting, staying up late and snacking!), but, the scale hasn't budged. What has budged though is how I feel in my pants, bras, and shirts. Seriously, I look in the mirror at myself everyday and can see the difference that getting back home, working out hard and eating clean have made. But the scale won't agree. Why? Because the fat I'd collected over the holidays weighs less than the muscle I'm re-gaining, but the fat also takes up more room than the muscle. So, my shape and size are changing, but not the number on the scale.
This idea can help put some of your "defeats" in perspective.
Ever have a week where you nailed your workout every day, ate like a super-clean super-human, drank all the water you should, blah blah blah.....and then you step on the scale at the end of the week and.....drum roll...., you lost 1-lb? You're standing there thinking, "well, THAT was a waste! I'm eatin' me a 1 kg bag of peanut M&M's for breakfast now since it doesn't seem to make any difference!". Or maybe I'm the only one who's ever felt like that...? Haha, for realz, it's not just me!
But here's what your body is doing "behind the scenes". First of all, it's not turning fat into muscle. That would be a magic trick! That's like trying to change pork fat into a chicken breast--on a living chicken!
You can looe fat and muscle, or gain fat and muscle. But, fat and muscle are not inter-changeable, so just get that idea outta yer head! : )
I like they way they said it on bodybuilding.com "Muscle mass and fat are two different animals: Muscle is active tissue that burns calories around the clock even as you sleep, kind of like an engine running in neutral. When you move around, you burn more calories, just like a car will consume more gas the faster you go. Fat, on the other hand, is just a storage of excess energy. It does nothing but sit there with its sole goal in life to be a spare tire around your waist until you put in the effort to burn it off" (emphasis mine).
So, the body isn't doing any magic tricks, but is just functioning as it's being asked to. You are either asking your body to gain or lose fat, or to gain or lose muscle.
So, if your scale doesn't seem to be cooperating with your best efforts, can ask yourself, "have I been working out hard using weights, or my body weight? Could I be gaining muscle and that's why the scale isn't getting lower??". The answer will almost always be yes....unless all you're doing is cardio......
Oh boy, so, for a long, long, long time you've heard "do more cardio to lose more weight!!!", and that's true to a degree.....except than you're really only losing fat and not gaining any muscle (and muscle burns calories, so the more muscle you have the more calories you burn while NOT working out). So, you can run your heart out, lose big numbers on the scale, but then you'll end up with a "skinny fat" body. Basically, a body that seems small or skinny, but has low or no muscle definition. If you are stuck in a "skinny-fat rut", read this article, or this article from muscleforlife.com
Rethink your approach to "loss". Focus on gaining muscle. Focus on working hard. Don't focus on calories burned (GASP!). Just don't for now. Start in a place where you are telling yourself, "my plan is to build muscle, & get strong"
Below are some images of different bodies at different weights and you can see that the heavier in weight photos are the muscled, trim bodies. I also included some replica fat vs. muscle photos that I find intriguing! Because I'm a geek. : )
I think these pictures say a lot, don't they! I find them an encouraging reminder that fat loss and weight loss are very different games!
Don't be discouraged if you're not "losing weight" as fast as you want. Keep measurements, keep trying on one particular pair of pants and take note on how they feel on your waist and legs, and, of course, stay positive! Rome wasn't built in a day, and the body or health & fitness goals you have in mind won't develop in one day either!
If you want a great body weight workout, I've included one of my favourites below! It's one of my best loved YouTubers, Tony Horton, as a guest on another of my top-pick channels POPSUGARfitness! To fav's for the price of one!
In this video Tony takes you through a 10 minute, full body burn! You will love it!
And that is all I have for you today!
Please let me know if you have any thoughts, comments or concerns, or just say "hi"!
Amy-Lyn, checking out! : )
....And now some legal jargon....
Remember that I am not a certified health & fitness professional! Read my Disclosure Policy HERE
......Love the one you're with!
Ever heard that song? It's by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Some of the lyrics are:
"Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit crying over good times you've had
Well there's a girl sitting right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do...
...And if you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with"
Why, you may ask, am I sharing this with you? What does this have to do with health and fitness. A lot my friends, an awful lot.
The other day I spent an hour sorting through my clothes to eliminate some of them (as I like to do in January), and I had a epiphany. Some of my jeans I wore last May didn't fit me....whomp whomp. I am about 10 lbs heavier than I was then, and I thought, "Geez.....I remember not being entirely happy with my body then....what a waste!". Seriously, I kept going through my clothes all the while thinking about how instead of enjoying the body I had worked so hard on I was still finding flaws. Now, here I am, 10 lbs heavier and thinking, "well, I better love this body now because who knows what I might have in 1, 5, 10, or 50 years!" Right?!?
I have spent a lot of my life not appreciating how I was in the moment. I remember hating my "front butt" when I was 11 years old! 11 YEARS OLD!!! P.S., a "Front butt" is that lower belly pooch.
Here I am now, 32, responsibility coming outta my ears, a body that needs extra work to keep in shape 'cause it's getting older, and I'm thinking "why was I wasting my 11 year old time feeling self conscious about a lower belly pooch?!". Poor 11 year old me!!
I heard someone say recently that only loving your body when it's perfect is like only loving your kids when they're well behaved. Moulding a child into a decent human being takes time and effort, and there will be some moments when you're staring at your (seemingly) possessed child and thinking "I've failed!".....but you still love them anyway!
Don't have kids? Ok, let's change the comparison to dogs! You love your dog, even when you come home from a long day and it's pooped in your favourite shoes.....right?
Make your own comparison from something you seem to love and forgive quite unconditionally and apply it here!
So, why not our bodies? Why not love what we've got while we've got it, no matter how it looks, or how it's "behaving"? This body, this temple we've got to live in can stay the same, get worse, or get better, but can't we love it all along the way?
I started this Health & Fitness portion of my website because I wanted to share my tips and tricks, workouts and food philosophy, but what I keep coming back to is encouragement! I swear, this is not really intentional! I sit down to write about one thing, and out comes something else! I think my heart, my body and soul are trying to work something out!
How many of us woman (and men too) feel discouraged after looking through "motivational fitness photos"? All those freakin' ripped people, super nice tans, I'm sure they are rich too for goodness sake! There is a time and a place for that (heck, I shared my own "before" & "after" photos!), but more than just seeing other people who are in shape, I think we need real people, loving themselves, loving others, no matter what the body! I want to have a "before" and "after" of my attitude toward my body!
Change your mind about yourself, decide right now to love yourself! Start a transformation right there in your head! Don't forget to take a "before" snapshot of your critical and unforgiving mind! You'll want a comparison for later! : )
Me telling you to love your body isn't a new idea....I'm sure you've already read it somewhere, or seen it on a Billboard or commercial. But I am not just telling you, I AM TELLING ME!!!
I am with you in this struggle, in this adventure, in this crazy human body!
So, here's the real challenge. Not just loving your body (which is easy to say), but to realign your values of beauty. We are told to love our bodies, but our hearts and minds say, "why would you, look at it! It's awful!"
Something I tell my kids a lot, and I think we can all agree on this point, is that what we are in our hearts is what makes us beautiful, and that is something we can all work on, regardless of our body type.
Remember how I disliked my body at 11, and I disliked it last year at it's fittest and thinest, so the problem isn't with my body, it's with my heart & mind. It's what we value as beauty, it's what we consider worthwhile.
I love the image above (you can sub in "man" if you're a man reading this!), but I love the challenge.
Proverbs 31:30&31 says,"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" (emphasis mine)
Now, whether or not you are a Christian, believe in God, or read the Bible, you have to admit that is a gosh-darned good proverb!!! Don't be thrown off by the "fear" bit, that fear doesn't mean what we think (afraid, terrified), but rather to respect, or to reverence. This fear acknowledges God’s good intentions, and makes a person receptive to wisdom and knowledge (1), which is a beautiful quality. What you look like will fade and change, and get old! You can't help that! But what you do, who you are, those things can last and can become your legacy of beauty.
If we don't start by looking inward at what our hearts and minds are doing, and whether or not they are beautiful, we'll never be able to look in a mirror and say, "I love you".
Take a good look at yourself. Are you a great singer, dancer, piano player, guitar player? Recorder player!?! Do you love passionately, hug hard, laugh easily, think deeply? Can you make a killer grilled cheese or a fantastic pot of soup? Do you help people in need, or offer a shoulder to cry on? Are you loud? Quiet? Both!?! Do you see beauty in others? Do you see that beauty can be, and IS, more than just what we look like?
Who you are is not how you look and your beauty is not in how you look. Who you are is someone individual, and your beauty resides in that special and distinct place.
Love yourself for yourself. You are the only mind like you, the only emotion like you, the only you there is. All of it, inside and out is you, so love it. Love the one you're with because it's you!
2016: The Year of Zeal!
I think most of us know that if you want to be healthy & fit, it requires zeal!
What is zeal?
Zeal is defined as "great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective". I like this definition too: "fervour for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavour; enthusiastic diligence; ardor"
I am not one for new years resolutions, mostly because they are unrealistic. I've talked about having hope for a new year, and last year I shared some thoughts on just generally aiming to become a better person, but now I desire to have some zeal.
Our pastor spoke about zeal and said it was a matter of the will and the heart. What you want, what you're passionate about comes from deep inside! It's not manufactured falsely, or forced, but rather pours out of your life because it can hardly be stopped! I had some serious zeal on Monday to clean my house top to bottom! Doesn't seem like a cause worth zealing over (p.s., "zealing" is definitely NOT a word, I just made it up! Haha), but why not? It's what I was doing at that moment, and why not do it with zeal?!? Why waste time doing things with indifference?
On my Motivational Monday post (I know it's Wednesday...) I spoke about zeal in life in general, but here I want to speak about zeal for health & fitness.
My enthusiasm for health & fitness sometimes feels fake....usually when I'm devouring a 1 kg bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans on my treat day!!! Then someone asks me about diet, nutrition and working out, and you can't shut me up! Knowing how the body works, what makes it work better, what makes it stronger intrigues and inspires me! I am zealous about health & fitness, regardless of my treat days! I guess you could say I am zealous about food too, ALL food! : )
Our pastor showed this video at church and I literally, out loud said, "whoa....", so I want to share it with you! It is part of a campaign called "Protect This House. I WILL".
This one is crazy-amazing too (skip to 0:54)!
I like the quote from Aldous Huxley in the collage above. Having zeal, enthusiasm, passion, and devotion to a cause requires us to be a little childlike. Kids are amazing in what they dream up and work towards and accomplish! They zealously follow their dreams because they believe in their heart they can do it, and their will to do it drives them on!
As adults, we hum and hah, doubt, speculate, and make lists and somewhere along the way, we become half-hearted in all we do. As I said at the beginning of this post, just add enthusiasm to what you're doing already! Why Not? WHY NOT?!? What's stopping you? Zeal is contagious, it brightens your day, it gives you drive and leaves you feeling purposeful!
When I work out, I usually hit a wall physically, I feel completely tired, muscles are shaking, I'm ugly sweating, my face is many shades of red and purple, but I say (often out loud), "if you're here, you might as well kick ass" (excuse my french) : )
If you take the time to workout, whether it's for 5, 10, 15, or 60 minutes, do it with zeal! Own it!
When I create meals for my family, even if they are simple meals, I still like to make it taste good, be healthy, and be attractive because I love food and food presentation!
On my Motivational Monday post I shared about my amazing sisters who are passionate about helping refugee families. They have surpassed their original goal to sponsor just one family to come and live in Brantford, and are now planning to continue raising money for a second family! To help with the resettlement of a refugee family in Brantford, go to Brantford Refugee Family Sponsorship.
I also shared about my friend Kelly who had a dream about a place, called Grace Inn, where the homeless could find a place to belong, be treated with dignity, and could feel at home. She's raising money at Hope for the Homeless in Brantford on gofundme.
You may not feel like you have a "big goal" that you can apply zeal to, but that doesn't matter. Have zeal in what you do, or join with others who are zealous and support them with zeal!
As for health & fitness, the zeal comes from the same place all zeal comes from: your will. Why do you want to be healthy or fit? Me? I like feeling comfortable in my own skin. I like seeing how hard I can push myself and seeing what I am physically capable of. I like knowing that my hard work is creating a longer and healthier life for me to enjoy my husband, kids, family and friends. And I like knowing that I am protecting this "house", this place God made for me to live in. I've only got this one house, and I want it to be it's best!
So, go with zeal! Inject enthusiasm into your health & fitness! Why? Because you are worth it! You are!
Make 2016 a year with zeal!
It's Me, Amy-Lyn!
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