The Secret To Winning

I miss my workout partners. I miss the camaraderie and accountability of meeting friends to exercise each morning. With the goal of flat tummies and healthy bodies in mind, we lunged, and crunched and squatted for 30-45 minutes each day. We hated it. We loved it. But we did it to win a prize – a strong, healthy body.

So when I read these verses recently, I not only related to Paul’s illustration, I was reminded of something more valuable. Check it out:

“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT)

You might have read those verses many times before, but let’s allow God to use them again today. Did you catch that 2nd sentence? As followers of God, we are like athletes who train bodies into submission so we can achieve the desired results – TO WIN! How much more important is our spiritual health? Our ability to overcome temptations? Our victory over depression? Our success in sharing our faith? Our ability to hear from God? Our usefulness in the hands of God?

Paul said that we should pursue our spiritual health (our relationship with God) with purpose in each step, training and disciplining ourselves with self-control.

What does that look like for us?

For me, each step of my spiritual growth is planned…just like an athlete with an exercise regimen. 

  • Read God’s Word consistently each morning
  • Pray each day
  • Set aside times in the year to pray and seek God in a more focused way
  • Journal about my experiences with God
  • Read a few books throughout the year to expand my knowledge or inspire me
  • Attend a few events throughout the year designed to draw me closer to God

It’s not rocket science, but it works. Yet, these planned steps only work if I’m committed to doing them consistently. Like Paul said, I must “practice strict self-control” and train myself on what to do.

So, while I’m wholeheartedly pursuing a healthy body, I won’t pursue it more than I’m pursuing God.

While I’m wholeheartedly pursuing a fun family life, I won’t pursue it more than I’m pursuing God.

While I’m pursuing a clean, organized home, I won’t pursue it more than I’m pursuing God.

While I’m pursuing a vital ministry, I won’t pursue it more than I’m personally pursuing God.

While all of those things are valuable, they pale in comparison to our ultimate purpose as Christians – to love God with all of our heart.

I want to win the race and get the prize, and I want that for you, too! Let’s pursue God first, most, and best today!

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Two (or four) Are Better Than One

We recently moved to Alabama, and let me tell you I’m loving my new home. And my new community. And our new ministry. And being near family for the first time since 1998.

Life is good.

But one thing isn’t.

I’m missing my partners.

For years, I’ve worked out 4-5 times each week with 2 of my neighbors. Meeting in our homes, we used exercise videos or routines we found on Pinterest to facilitate a 30-45 minute workout. The accountability of meeting together kept us all on track (it’s hard to skip a day when 2 people are expecting you to show up). Here in Alabama, I’m on my own in my basement, and I’m missing the camaraderie and inspiration of my 2 partners. I find myself skipping a day or pushing the fast-forward button.

Left to my own devices, I’m slacking.

But, not in the spiritual growth department. 

3 friends and I are reading through various books of the bible together. Some Georgia friends; some Alabama friends. We might not be able to meet face-to-face, but we are meeting! After we read our selected passages each day, we email the group to share our thoughts and prayers. Nothing fancy…just a sentence or two about what we sensed God saying to us.

God is speaking to us about our attitudes, habits, and actions. He is challenging us to become more like Him, and He’s increasing our understanding of Who He is and what His purposes are.

So, while I’m pushing myself to tackle a daily workout, I have 3 friends pushing me to grow in faith. Trust me, I’m pushing them, too! Last week, we studied the book of James, complete with background research and memory verses. Next up, Galatians. We are stretching muscles and getting stronger.

What about you? Are you slacking? Maybe you need the reminder that two are better than one. Find a partner (or 3, like me!) and start growing! 

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It’s What’s For Dinner

My hubby became a vegan 7 months ago, and since then quite a few inquiring minds have bombarded us with this question:

Where does he get his protein?

I, too, once thought the bulk of a person’s protein needs are met by eating meat. I have learned, however, that vegetables and grains have all the protein we need. For instance, beans, peas, veggie burgers, peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews (my fav!), spinach (I guess Popeye ate it for a good reason!), and broccoli are packed with protein. Our latest discovery is quinoa – a super food with 24g of protein and 12g of fiber in 1 cup! Today, I want to give you a peek inside our kitchen and share one of our favorite vegan recipes. It’s flavorful, filling, packed with protein, and oh so delicious. Check it out:

Black-Bean-and-Corn-Quinoa-SaladWarm Black Bean and Corn Quinoa Salad

1½ cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups vegetable broth
3 TBSP olive oil
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed for a milder flavor
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
12oz frozen sweet corn
15 oz Low Sodium Black Beans, rinsed and drained
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
3 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBS fresh lime juice
diced avocados and lime wedges for serving

First, cook quinoa according to the directions. I cook 1½ cups of quinoa in 3 cups of vegetable broth instead of water to increase flavor.

Heat 3 TBS of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add red pepper, jalapeno, shallot, and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.

Then add frozen corn, black beans, salt and pepper, and all seasonings. Mix well and cook over medium heat until corn and black beans are heated thoroughly.

In a large serving bowl add quinoa, black bean and corn salsa, chopped cilantro, and lime juice. Gently combine until all flavors are distributed evenly.

Enjoy!

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My Plan For Personal Growth

“My life definitely runs me. I don’t seem able to run it!”

“The ‘plan your work and work your plan’ is good advice, but what’s a good plan??”

“My life is more chaos than order. HELP!”

Recently, I told you guys what my Top Ten were – the top ten areas where I focus my time and energy – and it seems I’ve hit a nerve. Many of you have expressed your own frustrations when it comes to accomplishing your daily to-do’s. Life comes at most of us like an open fire hydrant dousing us with a barrage of demands, requests, and deadlines, and we’re left drowning in the mess. We don’t mind working hard…we just want to work hard on the things that matter most. We want to lay our head on our pillow at night feeling satisfied, not defeated.

So in order to ensure that I accomplish the things most important to me, I’ve made a plan. Well, actually several plans. And I’m going to share them with you. Maybe you’ll find an idea here or there that you can implement. Maybe you’ll be inspired to share a few of your own ideas, too. Over the next several posts, I’ll share my plans for:

Personal Growth

Leading/Supporting my family

Using the gifts God gave me

Building Community

Let’s start with Personal Growth. For me, this includes spending time with God, physical fitness, and rest/margin. 

1. Time with God: Each morning between 5-5:30 I read the Bible or the YouVersion app on my iPhone. I usually follow a planned reading guide or engage in a book study. I take notes, highlight key passages, and record my thoughts. I listen for what God is saying to me,then I talk to Him. It’s not rocket science; it’s a simple plan to knowing God. I finish up around 6AM when my first child wakes up. I never have any distractions this early in the morning, and it’s a great way to start my day.

2. Physical Fitness: Once my kids are out the door for school, I meet friends at 8:40AM Monday through Friday for a good workout. We grab light weights (and my trusty fan because I need cool air blowing) and follow an exercise DVD. The workouts typically take 40-60 minutes. I don’t plan any appointments before 10:30AM so I have no excuses to miss working out! Without a set time and plan, I am certain I would never workout.

3. Rest/Margin:

  • Since Sundays are a work day for my family, and we only get a couple of hours to rest on those days. We usually spend that time on the couch watching movies. My hubby and I have made Monday’s our day of rest, instead. It’s his day off, and we plan NO appointments. NO phone calls. NO agenda. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between.
  • I build down-time into my daily schedule. For instance, I stop working on projects 30 minutes prior to my kids arriving home from school, allowing me time to decompress and recharge before my family requires my attention and energy.
  • I also keep certain times during the week unscheduled. I call this time “margin.” Because I don’t schedule every minute of my life, I can say yes to unexpected opportunities/demands that arise. God doesn’t always stick to my schedule, so I better make room in the margins for Him to change my plans!
  • I clock-out at 5PM. As a stay at home mom, my work is never finished, but it’s important to me (and my family) that chores and tasks end and family fun begins. I wouldn’t like it if my husband came home from work and then locked himself in his home office to work some more, so I shouldn’t do it, either! Rest is good for all of us!

So, there you have it: my plan for Personal Growth!

What about you? Any ideas? Any suggestion? What is YOUR plan for Personal Growth?

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My Top Ten

Last September I wrote this post about planning the activities of our lives. My goal? To encourage us to make the best use of our time! We should run our lives – our lives shouldn’t run us – and making a plan can help bring success to our intentions. After I posted the blog, a friend requested more specifics on the plans I make for my own activities. In short she asked for my top ten – ten areas I focus on in daily life for success in family, faith, work, and relationships.

Uh, easier said than done.

Categorizing my activities took a little thinking. Nevertheless, I’m most satisfied when I’m accomplishing significant things, so determining what those significant things are is important! I took a few minutes to write down the overarching categories that really matter in my life.

Personal Growth

Leading/Supporting my family

Using the gifts God gave me

Building Community

Then, on a separate page I listed my activities in a typical week. I discovered everything I do falls into one of those overarching categories: 

Personal Growth:

1. Time with God

2. Time for margin and rest

3. Time for fitness

Leading/Supporting my family:

4. Time with Shawn

5. Time with my kids

6. Time for errand/appointments/chores/financial planning

Using the gifts God gave me:

7. Time for ministry

8. Time for writing

Building Community

9. Time for friends

10. Time to invest into others/mentoring

Alas, there are 10 – count them, 10 – areas in which I spend my time. I guess you could call them my Top Ten. By focusing on these 10 areas, my good intentions become my best successes. Of course, I don’t spend equal time in each area. Some get an hour each month, while others get daily attention.

Here’s the bottom line: Life is FULL of distractions and interruptions, sometimes leaving us at the mercy of whatever is most urgent, but with the help of a plan we can make our lives count!

What about you? What are the overarching areas of life that are most important to you? In other words, where do you spend your time? And do you have a Top Ten?

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My Gain….and Pain

stock-illustration-9194268-retro-cartoon-swimwear-shorts-tank-bikini-and-gogglesAround here the weather is NICE.  High of 81 today, and although the forecast called for clouds, the sky is clear.  Looking out my windows while I work inside makes me yearn for one thing: a lounge chair in the sun.  I’m admittedly a summer girl at heart, and I literally feel GUILTY if I’m indoors on a beautiful day.

All that beautiful weather means shorts and swimsuits are in my (very near) future.  Now, I’m a little bit of a heath nut, so I’ve been eating (mostly) healthy and exercising very consistently.  But, my latest exercise routine has come to a close.  Thanks to Pinterest I’ve found a new routine!  Here’s what I did this morning:

35 jumping jacks

30 seconds of high knee running

20 crunches

40 bicycles

10 oblique crunches

10 squats

5 burpees

10 incline push-ups (killer)

40 seconds of jumping rope

20 inner thigh leg lifts (each leg)

10 sit ups

50 Russian twists (made me pray that Jesus would return NOW)

10 bird dogs

20 seconds plank

20 crunches

35 jumping jacks

30 seconds high knee running

30 seconds butt kicking running

The circuit took me about 12 minutes, and I completed it three times.  Trust me, I was dripping in sweat.  So, bring on the shorts and swimsuits….I’m getting ready!!!

What about YOU?  What do you do for a fitness routine?  The gym? A dvd set? Tell me what you’re doing to keep your body in tip top shape!

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Two Are Better Than One

Remember this post?  Well, I did it.

For nine weeks at the beginning of the year, I worked out with the amazing PINK Method routine, and achieved the goals I set for myself – I lost those nagging 5 pounds, ate healthier foods, and built up my endurance and strength.

To be sure, I didn’t work out everyday, though.  Often, daily commitments usurped my plan to exercise.  Ok, sometimes, it wasn’t daily commitments that got in the way. Sometimes, I just wanted to lay on the couch or sleep a little later.  I’ll even admit that if an unexpected appointment came up, I was secretly excited that I wouldn’t have time to work out.  Since I was doing the program alone, I could hit “pause” on the dvd player if the routine was too demanding or skip a day if I felt lazy.  Nevertheless, I probably completed 85% of the program.

Let me be clear, though.  I loved the PINK Method.  It was just very easy to give half-effort since I worked out alone.

Ok, fast forward to June.  My neighbor, Katie, wanted to workout with me and give PINK a try, so since June we have met in her den 6 days of the week to jump, lunge, stretch, push, pull, and lift.  6 days each week!! We haven’t missed a day.  We haven’t pressed pause.  We haven’t relented.  Oh, there have been days that we’ve both secretly wished the other would have to cancel, but no such luck.  We push each other to our limit.  We encourage each other.  And, we celebrate EVERY DAY when we finish the routine.

Like I said, I achieved basic results the first time around, but over the summer months I (and my hubby) have noticed even better changes.  Muscle tone, body shape, overall strength, and yes, even a smaller jean size! As it turns out, having a partner helped me tremendously!  Two really are better than one.

You want to know the best part? I have a new friend.  Over the summer, Katie and I have bonded.  Spending time together has forged a new friendship for both of us.  What might God do in our new friendship?  I don’t know, but I’m thankful for Katie.  I’m looking forward to many fun days ahead with her.

What about you? In what area of life could you use a helping hand?  Fitness? Discipleship? Cooking? Parenting? Overcoming a bad habit? Guarding your tongue? Conquering a fear?

Whatever it is, heed God’s Word.  Two are better than one.  Allow someone into your private world.  Confide in someone.  Give someone permission to challenge you.  In other words, make yourself accountable to a friend.

What have you got to lose?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Think Pink

It’s here. It just arrived the other day.  My Christmas present to myself.

The P.I.N.K. Method.

It’s an exercise and nutrition program that caught my attention on tv, and since I have been looking for something fresh, I took the plunge!

So, what’s it like?  Here it is in a nutshell:

* 3 levels of workouts, ranging 20-40 minutes each

*4 different diets or nutrition plans

*A handy-dandy journal to motivate me and help me track my progress

*Access to online help, recipes, etc

*A 9 week commitment

I know, many of you know me personally and can see that I’m already thin.  That’s not the point.  Health is the point.  And, yes, even thin people have a nagging 5 pounds that irritates them.  More importantly, though, I want to run the race of life…..the whole race.  I want to take care of my body so it will take care of me.

Now, to be clear, this isn’t my first workout.  I’m not new to this rodeo.  I’ve been health-conscious for years.  But, it’s always fun to mix it up and change the routine, so I’ll be thinking PINK for the next 9 weeks.

Feel free to join in, and if you do, let me know!

 

My Problem

I have a problem. A workout problem. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the motivation. And, I don’t a plan.

Hi. My name is Tricia, and I haven’t worked out consistently in over a year.

(insert, “Hi, Tricia” here)

I guess it’s true: the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Or, being slapped in the face that sleeveless shirt season is upon me. And, swimsuit season. And, since I basically live at the pool with my kids during the summer, I better face reality.

First, I had to make the time. Once I leave the house each day, my life is ON, so if I’m going to exercise, it better be before I leave. Hence, a new morning routine. Second, I needed to get motivated. I’ve learned in my spiritual life that sometimes we have to “behave” our way into new habits, so I’m not waiting until I “feel” like working out. And, finally, I needed a plan. So, I went shopping with Shawn and picked up Jillian’s latest workout, Ripped in 30. I’ve already knocked out days 1, 2, and 3, and that feels good.

I’m not the only Lovejoy in the “workout spirit”, either. The big man, himself, is tackling Insanity. I’ve heard great things about it, too, and Shawn is enjoying his after-work workouts.

You know what, though? I’m not new to this. I’ve just failed to make it a priority. In the past I’ve done everything from a Cindy Crawford workout (yes, I just said Cindy Crawford) to P90X. I’ve just gotten lazy. But, no more. I am on it!

So, what’s your workout method? The gym? A personal trainer? A video? And, do you make every move or do you modify? Maybe you just get thumb exercises on your remote while you lay on the couch. Let me hear from YOU. What do YOU do?