Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy with Who I Am

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he have given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

Last night I went to the book club mentioned yesterday...and it was fantastic! It was at a church in Pineville, North Carolina and there were around 30 women in attendance. Most of the group meets on a regular basis, so I was the newcomer. The meeting started at 6:30 and lasted til 8:30 and it was a solid two hours of women digging deeper into scriptures and issues women face (all from the book, "I'm Not Good Enough and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves). The book was exactly what I needed to read-- even though I didn't realize it before I started-- and hearing other women share their reactions and experiences made it even more encouraging. Whether it is a book club or another group-- or even just another person-- I strongly encourage everyone to get involved in something that challenges you to dig deeper into issues and struggles-- and even more importantly, deeper into what God says about those issues and struggles. And--this is important--by getting involved, I don't mean going and sitting somewhere to listen to other people talk-- I mean getting involved by actively sharing and participating. Your story could be exactly what someone else needs to hear to make it past a conflict in their life, too!

Nutrition Challenge:
Today's challenge isn't super specific... but, it will make a difference (in your diet and in your bank account)! Whether you are in school or in the working world, you can greatly benefit from this challenge. Instead of relying on a vending machine or fast food to get you through the day, I challenge you to plan ahead and take lunch (and snacks) with you! Yes, it takes a little more effort at home-- but it is well worth it. It gives you greater control over what you eat-- and will save you money versus going to the nearest fast food place on a day-to-day basis!
Example (this is what I keep, 100% of the time, at the office)
-Spinach Wraps (can be bought in packs of 6 or 8 at most grocery stores)
-Deli Chicken or Turkey (depending on what I grab at the store)
-Caesar dressing (no, its not the healthiest option-- but you can be sure to get the lighter version)
-Baby Spinach Leaves
-Black Olives
-Parm Cheese (use a small amount!)
-Bacon Bits (the real bacon, not the processed stuff)
Then all you have to do is roll it all together in a wrap and you are good to go... and, it's a great source of protein and fiber!!
**No, all of the ingredients are great for you-- but, it's much better than fast food!! Easier on the bank account, too!

Fitness Challenge:
So far, we have learned about cardio training, interval training, circuit training, stretching and a few specific exercises. Don't worry, there are many more exercises to come! But, before anyone gets overwhelmed by the amount of things you know how to do, we are going to put it all together for a circuit today.
-Start off with a 10 minute warm-up.
-After the warm-up, do 25 lunges with each leg.
-After the lunges, do wall-squats (3 sets of 10 repetitions each!)
-After the wall-squats, get started on your ab routine! We are just doing the basic crunches today-- either on your stability ball or on the floor! Start with a set of 25 repetitions. Do up to 3 sets!
-After the abs, do the tricep kick-backs we learned the other day! 3 sets of 10 repetitions is a great place to start.
-AFTER you finish the routine, be sure to cool down for a few minutes (5 will be enough) and STRETCH!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Last night at the book club, I was completely comfortable sitting and listening to all the ladies that I had never met talk about their personal experiences and their reactions to the book. Towards the end, however, they opened it up for everyone to share what they thought-- and nobody was really speaking up! So, I did... I had a lot to say, but wasn't really sure that I wanted to talk because I was the newcomer to a group of ladies that all know each other very well. But, I shared what I thought (much of what I said in the post from yesterday) and then compared the start of the book to the ending-- I encourage all the ladies to read it, so I am not going to spoil what happens-- but, if you read it you will easily pick up on what I am talking about. And, if you are like me, will be laying in bed crying over the last page!
Long story short-- if you have something to share, and it is something that could benefit someone else, share it! After the meeting, multiple ladies came up to me to thank me for speaking up. You might be uncomfortable at first-- but sharing what God is doing in your heart and in your life is part of your purpose. Whether you realize it or not, you are a missionary and this entire world is your mission field!

Change Your Thinking:
The whole purpose of the book was to take how we see ourselves and the lies we tell ourselves and transform the lie into the truth-- backed up by scripture. If I had the book in front of me to give specific examples, I would... but, Sarah has the book now! Again, whole book paraphrased, look at yourself how God does. You would never say that God couldn't do something or that God isn't good enough-- and if you are a Christian, God is living in you and you can do anything through Him! Maybe you couldn't accomplish something alone; but the great news is, you don't need to!

A tip in the book is that anytime you have a negative thought, put, "in God's name," after it. "I can't do anything right, in God's name." "I never do anything right, in God's name." "I will never be good enough, in God's name." WHAT?? Doesn't make much sense, does it?? Anytime you start to put yourself down or have a negative thought, try that exercise... once you get in the routine of it, I bet you won't think so negatively all the time!

"Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By Chance? I Don't Think So!!

Last week, a friend of mine invited me to go to a book club with her. It's a group of her friends and she has never gone before and wanted to take someone with, she asked me. Now, if you know me, you know that in a setting like that-- with people I have never met-- I would ALWAYS want to be prepared. So, when I said that I would go (without even knowing what book they were discussing), it was a surprise even to myself! Sarah (my friend who invited me) text me on Saturday to say that she was getting the book and would bring it to me at the office on Monday (she works right next door). So, I get the book THE DAY BEFORE the book club. Again, out of character for me to not be prepared. *I LOVE impromptu speaking, but like to be prepared for a discussion group; especially when I only know one person involved* So yesterday, around 5:00, she brought me the book that we are going to discuss tonight. She handed it over and said that she didn't like it, so she just went over the study notes in the back. After Chad and I left the office, we went to the gym. By the time we got home, it was almost 8pm and by the time we had dinner it was after 8:30... and I still had to take a shower. So, last night after I had done everything required, I started reading the book. I read until about 11:30-- so, just short of a couple hours-- and was already well into the book. I read again this morning for about 30 minutes or so and I am now 2 chapters away from finishing.

Now, for the point of the story. Saying that I would go to something out of the blue and not knowing what was being discussed was out of character enough. Secondly, short of talking during the day and going to say hey to each other in our offices, Sarah and I have never hung out. We talk a lot-- but mainly during work hours and text messages from time to time. So, why would she invite me (of all people) to go to a book club with her? Also, why would she not like a book that I simply can't put down? This is an example of God giving me EXACTLY what I need right now, without me even realizing that I needed it.

The name of the book is, "I'm Not Good Enough...and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves," and it is written by Sharon Jaynes. It has chapters dedicated to different topics, but it starts off by knowing who the enemy is (satan) and knowing where the lies we tell ourselves come from. It then goes to talking about forgiving ourselves and forgiving others, because God already has... and then talks about being happy in our circumstances and not playing the, "what-if," game with ourselves. Yes, there are other topics, but that gives you a general idea. Every issue discussed is backed up with stories and, most importantly, Bible verses.

Now, the name of the book doesn't really scream to me, "read me, read me." But, I am so glad that I did (or that I am-- I have 2 chapters left)! I wrote Chad a text message this morning and it simply said, "I'm on page 171 of that book already. So weird-- Sarah didn't like it, but it's EXACTLY what I need to be reading. About being happy in circumstances and with who you are. About forgiveness and about trusting God's plan with everything. I didn't even know I needed to read all of that until I started..." Chad's response, "Excellent! That book was obviously placed in your hands for a reason."

So yeah, God has a plan for us and everything-- even seemingly meaningless things-- happen for a reason. God gives us what we need and gives us all the strength we need to live the life HE meant for us and to bring glory to HIM. What has happened in your life lately that you can 100% see God's Hand in every step?

Today, I am amazed at what God is doing in my life and in my heart... Today, there won't be the challenges you have come to expect from me. I want you to focus on Him and on what He is doing in your life. Even if you don't understand, praise Him and know that He has a plan for you! You have a purpose-- and you are beautiful just the way you are! The great thing about God and His love and forgiveness is that we will never be worthy of it or deserve it-- but we have it anyway, simply because we are HIS!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Special Treat-- Nutrition Challenge by Dr. Chad Frisch

I read a tweet the other day posted by someone that I greatly respect and it kind of hit home with me. It said, "humanity doesn't need tips and techniques on how to live a better life. No! We need to worship a glorious, resurrected Jesus who IS life."

Now, obviously, since the name of this blog is, "Better You 4 Life," the words in that tweet kind of stung. Were they directed towards me? Probably not. But-- I am writing a blog with tips in it-- so, I was overly sensitive and still took offense to it. So, just to get it off my chest and to clarity-- the Fitness and Nutrition tips in this blog are meant to help everyone to live a HEALTHIER life. The healthier you are, the more active you can be and the better you can fulfill YOUR individual purpose and calling from God. The Out of Your Comfort Zone and Change Your Thinking points and challenges are to help you be a WITNESS for God in your day-to-day routine. I am daily working on building my personal relationship with God and want to share some of the things I have reflected on with you... So, the tips aren't only to improve your life on the surface, but they are to help improve your relationship with God and to help give you ideas on how to be a witness in your daily routine.

Please don't simply take this blog as a way to conform or fit into the world with the fitness and nutrition challenges... See it's deeper purpose for helping you live a HEALTHIER life as a WITNESS to God. I am not a theologian and I am not trained to teach the Word of God-- but, He did bless me with the ability to write and communicate and I am living my life to bring glory to Him, and I hope the words written in this blog urge you to dig deeper into YOUR personal relationship and YOUR way of living for the Great One who created us all!

Nutrition Challenge:
**As a special treat, the nutrition section today is written by: Dr. Chad Frisch**
This is going to be really simple, but this concept is critically important to overall health.  Being deficient in this one thing can lead to: excessive hunger cravings, fatigue, joint aches/pains, igniting a degenerative process in our body, decreased metabolism, decreased pH of our body (creating an unwanted acidic environment), etc. So what is this one thing....water.  Our body is predominately made of water and it is an absolute necessity to maintain hydration in order to prevent disease and maintain health.  Erin mentioned increasing water intake in an earlier posting, but is it important this topic is discussed again since so many people walk around in a chronic state of dehydration that causes our bodies to function and heal at a less than optimum state.  So what is your task for the day?  As soon as you finish reading this, go and drink a full glass of water.  Once again before dinner, drink another full glass of water.  Do not only do this if you are thirsty.  Thirst is an indication that we are already dehydrated.  To stay hydrated, we must avoid this thirst signal.  One day is not a solution to the problem, but the important point is to drink water not only when you are thirsty.  So how do you know if you are well hydrated?  This may not be the appetizing thing to think of when you are drinking your glass of water after this, but the answer is urine.  Your urine color should be as close to clear as possible.  Yellowing of the urine typically signifies you are not properly hydrated. The exception here is if you are taking vitamins/minerals that may be altering the coloration.
The key with success when it comes to drinking water (as with many things in life) is preparation.  Have water with you and available to drink.  Take sips on it throughout the day and eventually it will become a habit for you to be drinking water even when you are not thirsty.  Drink up!

Fitness Challenge:
I don't really know how to follow that other than by saying, with the mention of urine, you can tell a doctor wrote it! Chad has an amazing way of thoroughly explaining things, in a way that everyone can understand, so be on the look-out for challenges written by him from time-to-time!
Today, we are working on our triceps! There are TONS of exercises we could do for this-- and most of them are wonderful-- but today, we are going to focus on one that can easily be done at home with dumbbells (or your cans of food, if you don't have dumbbells at this point)!
Tricep Kick-Backs:
**This exercise can be done one arm at a time, using a bench for stabilization... or you can do both arms at the same time (which is the variation I prefer).
1. Hold a weight in each hand and bend forward until your torso is parallel with the floor (if this is too difficult, you can bend to a 45-degree angle).
2. Bend your arms us and have elbows even with torso.
3. Keeping your elbows at torso level, straighten your arms behind you and and squeeze your tricep muscles.
4. Return to the position in step 2 and repeat. I recommend starting with 3 sets of 10 repetitions per set.
(the image is from google images and is meant to show you the proper form. if you have any questions, PLEASE look at more images... proper form is NECESSARY to avoid injury. the picture doesn't show this too well, but your knees should be SLIGHTLY BENT).

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Since I have been becoming closer in my relationship with God, I constantly find myself talking about church and the things God has done in my life.Let's face it--regardless of where you are in your relationship (even if you aren't a Christian)--there have been things in your life that you can't explain other than by saying it was by God's hand! I can't help but want to tell everyone how great He is. The closer your relationship becomes, the more you will want to do for Him because He has already done EVERYTHING for you. So, if you are at a point in your relationship where you feel comfortable talking about Him, please do so. Since I have opened up and started talking more, it is amazing how many people I have meaningful conversations with. Even at work, I am daily having conversations that focus on how great God is.

Change Your Thinking:
You will never deserve the grace that God has already given you. Let me repeat-- you will never deserve the grace that God has already given you. So, stop trying to do things in your life to, "be good enough," or, "work hard enough," to earn God's grace. Instead-- focus your energy on doing things for Him because of the grace and love He has already shown you. He gave us an instruction manual (the Bible) and the greatest gift in the world (eternal life)... So, let's show Him we appreciate it and show the world HOW GREAT our God is!

"Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done. Not because of what I've done, but because of who You are." (Casting Crowns)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sometimes All We Need is a Chance

I am getting a late start on the blog today and I apologize. With it already being 8:30 on Friday night, I am going to skip over the challenges for today and simply put a few thoughts out (okay, so maybe there will still be a challenge-- just under a different heading)!

As you know, we have been collecting food and donations for students at Indian Land Elementary School. I have been amazed at the response so far-- and completely shocked today. We have had people donate money for us to buy food with and we have had people bring in items themselves; but today the amount of people wanting to be involved shocked me (in a great way)!

I sent out, "Thank You," cards to everyone who has participated to this point. Today, a lady who had already brought something in decided she could bring more and did! A patient's mom brought in food. A patient's daughter asked how long we were taking donations because she wanted to be involved AND another patient brought in food today and when he was leaving, asked for a list so he could bring more next week. All of that in one day!! And all for a great cause. Amazing.

So, here is the challenge-- try to think of people as, "good." I know the news and culture says otherwise; but given the chance, people will surprise you in a positive way. Give people a chance to make a difference and they will... Maybe they are purposefully doing good to bring glory to God or maybe they have no idea why they feel inclined to help-- but either way, give them a chance to experience what helping other people is all about! You never know what small act will prompt them to dig deeper into the lifestyle you lead!

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations." Psalm 67:1-2 (NIV)

Personal Story:
When I was in high school, I went on a mission trip with my youth group at church. It was an amazing experience all around and is something that I will never forget. For the most part, we worked with children in a low-income area in south Florida. We spent one day at a park, one day at a shelter, one day with mentally disabled and the other days going from place to place and fixing up the facilities. The day that hit me the hardest and had the greatest impact in my life was the day I spent at the shelter. A little boy-- maybe 5 years old-- named Amos came up to me when we first got there. He had tears in his eyes and, unlike the other kids, wasn't playing in a group. He grabbed my leg and looked up and me and said, "the other kids always tell me I'm bad, but I promise if you play with me I won't be." It completely broke my heart. This precious, tiny child had been told over and over again that he was, "bad," and he was believing it. Yes, I interacted with a variety of kids that day-- but I spent most of my time with Amos. And let me just tell you, he was one of the sweetest kids I had ever met!
The next day, another group went to the shelter. When they returned to where we were staying later that evening, they had handfuls of drawings that Amos had done for me.
Point-- sometimes all people need is a chance!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Make the Difference that Only YOU Can!

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function; so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Romans 12 4-8 (NIV)

It's amazing to be how well things fit together and make you really think about what you should be doing. On Sunday at Transformation, Pastor Derwin used the analogy of us being, "appetizers," to those around us. Meaning, we are to live our lives and be a witness to make those around us, "hungry for what we have." (What we have being a personal relationship with God). Today, the entry I read in, "The Purpose Driven Life," was about being a witness to the world and sharing our personal stories with nonbelievers to lead them to Christ. Then, to take it a step further, the devotion I read this morning was about a young girl who was told about heaven and hell by an older lady who was worried about the children in her neighborhood. Again, the older lady was a witness to those around her-- and the little girl grew up to be a missionary. Another cool concept we talked about at Transformation-- we are ALL missionaries. It doesn't matter if you are overseas or in your office, there is always someone you can share your story with.

I hadn't really planned on writing about that-- but when so many things come together to make the same point, I felt like I had to!

Nutrition Challenge:
Today, I challenge you to change your cooking oils (or at least pay attention to what you are cooking with). I suggest cooking with coconut oil! If you don't like the taste of coconut, use extra virgin-- it does not have a coconut taste! Coconut oil is a solid until heated-- and can then be used like any other cooking oil you are previously using.
Why is using coconut oil the challenge today?? Check out all these benefits (both with cooking with it and using it in different ways)::
-Great for hair!
-Stress Relief!
-Skin Care
-Fights Premature Aging!
-Protects Against Heart Disease!
-Great for Weight Loss!
-Helps with Digestion, Immunity and Healing!!
(The list goes on and on-- but I am sure some of the reasons above are good enough for you to give it a try!)

Fitness Challenge:
Today's fitness challenge is going to be a little bit different. Yes, I still want you to get some activity in (whatever you have learned from previous challenges and want to do today). But today, we are going deeper than that. I want you to think about your reasons for following a nutrition and fitness plan. Is it to look better in a bikini (or trunks, for the guys)? Is it to be more confident? Is to to catch the attention of someone you have had your eye on? Is it to prove that you can do it? Is it to be healthier? There are endless amounts of reasons-- as unique as the person you are. There is no right or wrong reason, but what is yours?
Now, going deeper than that. What is the, "reason behind the reason?" Is it to be able to play with your kids and grandkids longer? Is it to stay healthy and active longer? Is it to look younger and be more physically fit longer? Again, the reasons are endless. But, what is the BIGGER picture behind your initial reason? Knowing the big reason you are committed to something will help you stick to it because it will help you stay focused on the long term.
Also, please please please commit to this for YOU and not because you want to conform to what someone else expects of you. There are no right or wrong reasons to do something, but you will be more satisfied if the changes you are making in your life are for you.

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Not long after I started this blog, I challenged everyone to contact a person who used to be a big part of their life and to apologize or put whatever came between you out in the open. The day after that challenge, I wrote a personal reflection to let everyone know that it took me a solid 24 hours to get the nerve to do it. Yesterday morning, I woke up to a reply from the person I needed to fix things with. It was great and honestly brought tears to my eyes. Yes, it has taken us a while to get back in contact with each other-- but, as it turns out, our big falling out is something we both put behind us a long time ago and just didn't have the nerve to tell each other. I won't go into detail about her response-- or about what I sent. But, just know that the challenge was good for me and it took people holding me accountable to do something that needed to be done.
With that being said, I am sure there are plenty of you who haven't followed through with the challenge yet-- and there are others who haven't been reading long enough to know what I am talking about.
So, yes, today's challenge is a repeat. If you haven't done it yet, make contact with someone who used to be a big part of your life. Email or a message on Facebook would be my suggestion-- it's the easiest way to get your thoughts out without being interrupted or having past issues brought back up and made into a fight again. I promise, it will make you feel so much better.

Change Your Thinking:
How many of us have ever felt inadequate of felt like we could never accomplish what we want to do with our lives? Guess what-- today, we are pushing those thoughts out of our heads! We all have a purpose... a unique purpose and story that only we can tell. No, it's not the same as anyone's..... and that's what is so great about it! No matter what limitations you might have, there is something that ONLY YOU can bring to this world. Some experience or lesson that nobody else can share. Don't let yourself think that your life doesn't have a purpose-- because it does! If you don't know what that is yet, you will figure it out! To help you do that... first of all, pray. Then make a list of the things you feel strongly about... the things you are passionate about and want to stand up for. Then, think about all the skills you have. You don't have to be an expert at your skill-- but if it is something that goes hand in hand with your passion, refine the skill and use it to make a difference and to leave your mark!

Meet Papa! Growing up, he was the best toy anyone could have asked for... a life-size, walking, talking playmate! I used to put bows in his hair and then cling to his leg every time he was leaving our house to go back to his (one time he made it in public with a bow still in his hair...oops)! He was the band director at Calhoun High School and now is Santa Clause during Christmas season. It is a job that takes a patient person to do-- and he is great at it! He was in a Country Music Video and also was the Santa for Montel Williams. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do Not Limit Yourself

Good morning everyone! Wow, it's nice to be back to my daily routine. About mid-day yesterday, I finally got out of bed-- today should be 100% back to normal! Thank you for being patient with me.

First of all, I just want to expand a little bit about the service at Transformation on Sunday. We started a new series and now would be the perfect time for you to attend if you live in the Charlotte area... or to listen online if you don't. All the services are on the website ( The new series is, "Who is God and why does it matter," and is meant to give us a greater understanding of the amazing impact God has in our day-to-day life (or at least that's what I have gathered from it after one service-- I'm sure the message will expand every week... so, listen)!

Now, expanding a little bit more on being sick. I used to get migraines all the time (and by all the time, I mean 3 times a month). The one I am just getting over was only my 4'th in the last 13 to 14 months---so, a lot better. But, the thing about it is, Chad understands how miserable they make me and he is always patient when I have one. On Monday, he came home during lunch to take care of and to check on me... and even offered to change the schedule around if I needed him to. Point being-- you can show someone you love them and you care in any situation. I am not the most fun person to be around when I am sick-- but he still came home to check on me. Use whatever circumstance you are given to show those around you that you care.

Nutrition Challenge:
Today, we are going to focus on hydration. Yes, increasing your water intake has been a challenge already. But, as the weather starts to get warmer, hydration will be even more important (especially if you plan on being active-- which I am sure we all are)! Water is of course the best... if you get bored or don't like drinking just plain water all the time-- add in a Propel or Gatorade or a drink of that kind from time to time. The point is, just focus on keeping yourself hydrated. Spring is starting-- and if we start to focus on hydration now, we will be much better off when the temperatures reach the extremes this summer!

Fitness Challenge:
Yesterday my friend Cory (introduced earlier) sent me a text message inviting me to join his team in the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th. It's a 10k (6.2 miles) in downtown Atlanta. If you have ever been in Atlanta on July 4, you know how hot is it. If you have ever tried to run outside in that kind of heat, you know the dedication (and hydration!) it takes. My initial response was something like, "a 10k when it's that hot? I think I would die." Then, I told Chad about it. His response, "you could do it if you wanted to. I think you should." Based on that, who has more faith in me? So today's fitness challenge is: Don't limit yourself before you even try. CHALLENGE yourself to do something you wouldn't have tried before. It can be anything, but don't place limitations on yourself before you give yourself the chance to succeed.

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Sticking with the theme-- we all have our routines and things we are comfortable with. There are certain restaurants you like, certain places you shop because they are familiar... You have a routine in basically everything, whether you realize it or not. For example, there are a variety of ways to get from the office to our house, but I drive the exact same way everyday! So today, try something new! A new food, a new restaurant... or even better, talk to someone you have seen multiple times (maybe at work) and have never spoken to. It doesn't matter what way you take it... but today, really get out of your personal comfort zone!

Change Your Thinking:
At the beginning of the post, I said it was nice to be back in my daily routine. In the challenge above, I told you to change your routine and get out of your own personal comfort zone. To clarify-- by my routine, I meant my morning reading, devotional and blog. If there are things that start your day off better, please do them! But, if there are things you do simply because you are comfortable with them, challenge yourself. Today's Change Your Thinking Challenge is going to stick to the same principle as the challenges above... Have faith in yourself and know that you can accomplish GREAT things that ONLY you can do. Who knows-- maybe you are the only person that can reach an individual. Maybe you are the only influence someone has. Maybe seeing you is the highlight of someone's day. You never really know the impact your life can have on others. So, today make it a point to be that positive influence-- but not only to others, but also to yourself. Don't be your own limiting factor. Have faith in yourself and know that you have the ability to accomplish everything God has planned for you. You don't have to do it alone!

This picture is from our FIRST DATE. At that point, we had been talking on the phone and internet constantly for a while, but had no idea how great we could be if we just gave it a chance. It took us a while, but it was well worth waiting for! Don't give up on the things you want in life.. Sometimes the timing may not be what you would pick, but it will work out how it is meant to! 
"Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 124:8 (NIV)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sorry I Haven't Posted in a Few Days...

First of all, I just want to apologize about the delay in posting. I have been in bed with a migraine since Sunday evening and this is honestly the first time I have even had enough energy to prop myself up on a pillow to write. If you have ever had a migraine, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't, I hope that you never do.

Anyway, enough about that... Everything else has been wonderful since the last time I wrote (Friday).

Friday night Chad and I attended a class at Transformation Church and are now members... so, I am excited about that! Saturday we spent the majority of the day together-- and during the time he was at the office, I was able to get some cleaning and laundry done-- so, that worked out. He got me some new workout clothes for Spring...we went to the gym...and we went out to eat and watch the Wisconsin Basketball game. Plus, we were able to enjoy the beautiful weather. Sunday we went to church and right after were able to go buy $90 more dollars of food for the Indian Land Elementary School students-- all thanks to the generous donations from our patients! After that, we went to the gym. Shortly after, my head started hurting and I have been in bed ever since.

Now that you know why I haven't posted in a couple days, I hope you will understand why I am going to end the post here. If I am feeling better later today, I will get back on track with the challenges. If not today, definitely look for new challenges tomorrow!

Friday, March 18, 2011

What's Your Recipe?

First of all, I just want to say that my coffee was excellent this morning! Having all the right ingredients and using them how they are intended makes all the difference in the world! But, (another coffee-inspired thought that just came to me) the, "right," ingredients are different for everyone. Some might like cream, no sweetener. Others sweetener, no cream. Some a combination of both; and some prefer neither. If the, "right," mix for coffee can be so different from individual to individual-- imagine how different our purpose and our ministry can vary from person to person! How we use our life is influenced by the gifts God gave us and the personality He made us with-- and that goes far deeper than the preference of a drink! Point-- we all have a unique recipe for our life and just because it might vary from the person next to us doesn't mean we can't do great things and fulfill our purpose! Refer back to, "Appreciate Your Gifts," and, "Do Not Be Fooled, Do Not Compare," for a more detailed description of what I am talking about!

Speaking of different gifts through different people, Chad and I attended our first group Bible study through Transformation Church. It was awesome!! We were the youngest couple by a good bit--- there were married couples, divorced individuals and singles--- a variety of ages and ethnic groups. The thing that is so great about it we were all studying together and helping the group as a whole see concepts through the eyes of someone else. If the group wasn't so diverse, we would be missing out on a lot of the picture! That's just another example of everyone's unique recipe for life-- and the one-of-a-kind way God can use our lives to help others!

Nutrition Challenge:
Today I want you to treat yourself! You will notice that periodically, treating yourself will be the challenge of the day. Nobody can stick to eliminating things that they really like 100% of the time, so having a day to treat yourself will help to eliminate cravings you might have. Don't overdo it, but take the day to enjoy something for you... you deserve it!

Fitness Challenge:
Depending on where you live, weather conditions might be different... but in the Charlotte/Fort Mill area, temperatures are in the low to mid 80s today. With that being said, if the weather where you are is amazing today, take the time to enjoy a walk or a job outside! There is nothing stopping you from taking your cardio or even your interval cardio sessions outside! If the weather is less than desirable where you are today, stick to doing cardio inside-- whether at the gym or elsewhere (mall, house, anywhere you can move around). Movement is the key today!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
This challenge will completely depend on where you personally are in your relationship with God... but, share something about your church or your personal experience with someone today.  Maybe it's something that is hard for you to talk about-- but the more you open up, the more your support system will grow. I am not, by any means, saying to be the person we have all seen on the street corner shouting at cars as they go by. No, that is not the desired way to share the Word. Instead, be an example in your day-to-day routine. If you don't have a relationship with God or if you haven't found a church to call home (of if church is something you have never experienced), give it a try! I am not trying to be pushy-- but I have seen the difference in my life from the time I was just going through the motions to now where it is something very intentional for me. It is something that I want everyone else to experience, too!

Change Your Thinking:
How many of us openly and honestly admit our weaknesses? Probably not a lot. It's hard to admit that we can't do something by ourself or to say that we need the help of someone else. But, it's important to realize, that by sharing our weaknesses with others we can help them find strength to face something they might be going through-- as well as find strength in ourselves for having the courage to share. Who better to help someone go through a challenging event that someone else who has experienced the exact same thing in their life? To experience the healing that we can help someone else experience, we have to stop seeing our weaknesses as a burden and start seeing them as a way to help!
Meet: Olivia, Elise, Carla, Hannah and Cameron! These are some of my sorority sisters. I have always loved this picture because it shows a group of young women being silly and simply enjoying each others company. When you get a large group, like a sorority, it takes many different personalities and talents to make the group work. Of course, this is just a picture of a few of the many girls-- but I love it! Each and every girl is wonderful and makes a huge impact in their unique way! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's Missing?

This morning when I went downstairs to make my coffee, I noticed that we were out of stevia (a natural sweetener derived from a plant...). But, we still have that wonderful creamer I wrote about previously, so I made the coffee anyway. The cup is sitting beside me right now and I am drinking it-- but it is a lot more bitter than I would like. It will do, but it's not as good as I know it could be. Point-- Sometimes the things that are missing in your life (or in this case, your cup of coffee) make a bigger difference than the things that you have. Also, who would agree that I have some of my best thoughts while drinking coffee (joking)?

Reflecting on the Point Above-- In the past six weeks; my significant other, our house, our jobs, our cars or anything else that we possess haven't changed at all. But, six weeks ago we found a church and starting going together. I started waking up early enough to read, "The Purpose Driven Life," or do a devotional before the day started. A couple weeks after that, I started writing this blog.
Now, we are looking for more ways to get involved in the church and everything about our outlook on life has improved. Not saying we were always down or that something was always wrong before-- life was okay-- but something was missing.
We have both been Christians for a long time-- going through the motions, praying and all that. But, now we are actually doing what we are meant to do and building a relationship with God. Now, that relationship and that faith is something we turn to first. I grew up in a church-- so did Chad-- but that doesn't, by default, mean that we had the personal relationship with God that we were supposed to.
Now, even though we still go to work, go to the gym, and go through all the motions of a typical week-- we are much more positive and focus on building each other up at work-- we go to the gym together. The amount of time in the day hasn't changed, but we are definitely making the most of it! Tonight, we are going to our first small-group Bible study-- and I can't wait! I've been excited about it all week. So, the day is still 24hrs-- but we are getting so much more out of our time (and more importantly, because of the shift in our attitudes, we are giving a lot more back!!)!

Nutrition Challenge:
Since I mentioned Stevia at the beginning of the post, I challenge everyone to purchase some (I prefer the individual packets, but it is completely a personal preference). It is a natural, zero calorie sweetener (without all the chemicals found in things such as Sweet n Low). There are pages upon pages of the benefits of Stevia. You don't have to take my word for it-- look it up and start using it anywhere you would use sugar or another sweetener!

Fitness Challenge:
How is everyone feeling after the wall squats from yesterday? I hope you remembered to stretch afterwards! Yesterday was my back, biceps and triceps day-- intense workout, for sure!
Today, we are going to learn how to do a Dumbbell Row (works your back, biceps and rear delts). There are many variations-- so feel free to find the one that works the best for you. If you don't have dumbbells, thats okay-- we can improvise with canned food or anything else that will provide a slight resistance. Start with a light weight and focus on proper form before you increase the weight!
1. Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand. The closer your feet are to each other, the more challenging the exercise will be (because you are having to stabilize yourself).
2. Bend forward at the waist until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Your knees should be bent slightly.
3. Keep your arms close to your sides and pull the dumbbells up until they touch the sides of your chest.
4. Lower slowly and repeat.
5. Keep your shoulder blades pulled in towards your spine and really focus on lifting with your back and not your arms.
**If you have any questions about this exercise or need a visual, please don't hesitate to watch a video or search for images. Proper form is necessary.
Start by doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Sticking with the theme above, what is missing from your life? If it's a group of supportive people around you, find one. If it is a close friend to hold you accountable for the changes you are making, let them know that you need their support. If it's a place to serve and help your community, stop putting it off and get involved. The fact is, we can always come up with excuses to put off doing what we know we should-- so today, stop with the excuses and do what your heart has been telling you to do! It takes a leap of faith to get involved-- but trust that God will never call you to do something that you can't do with His help! It's a different concept to think about what we can add to our schedule instead of always thinking about how busy we are-- but, focusing on the right activities will make a huge difference in the way you think and feel!

Change Your Thinking:
We have been focusing a lot on serving and what you can do with your time. In the world's standard, people typically serve to get recognition from others or to prove that they are good. So, I want you to focus on being different and serving the right way.
Serve for what you can do for others... not for the recognition you can gain for yourself. Serve because you want to... not because you feel like you have to. Serve in whatever way you can--big or small-- instead of thinking that you have to wait around for a huge opportunity. Make opportunities out of the circumstances you encounter everyday.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5 (NIV)

"Love cannot remain by itself-- it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service." (Mother Teresa)
Meet Granny-- One of the best ladies I have ever know. She lived with my family from the time I was 2years old and had such a huge impact on all of our lives. I could write pages upon pages about Granny and still not say enough. Losing her was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced-- even though I know she is in a better place with God, her husband and both of their daughters. She was strong and helpful and was always doing something for others-- and she never expected anything back. She didn't help others because she wanted recognition-- she did it because she wanted to and because she knew it was right. If you have someone in your life like my Granny, please let them know that you love them and that you appreciate all that they do for you and for everyone they come in contact with. I can't explain how much you will miss them when you can't tell them those things anymore....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A New Twist to the To-Do List

On Monday when I got to the office, Chad had put together a list of tasks for the day (outside of the ordinary routine). He had it sitting on my desk so I would see it as soon as I walked in. The list included things such as getting the last minute details of our Tuesday health class together, focusing on donations for the elementary school students and putting together promotional materials. However, the part of the list that really changed the course of the day and my Monday morning tiredness were the last 4:
1. Be an encourager!
2. Provide patients with Hope!
3. Love yourself so you can love others!
4. Enjoy the day!

How great do you think that made my morning start off?? What would happen if we added positive things like that to all of our to-do lists? Try it sometime-- sometimes writing something down holds you more accountable!

Yesterday I started a new devotional book. It's great for me because it has a place to take notes (and if you haven't already noticed, I enjoy putting my thoughts into writing). The devotion yesterday was about a lady named Gladys Aylward; a missionary. The scripture connected to the devotion was, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 124:8 (NIV)

I won't type out the entire story, but I will share my personal notes (word for word) that I took:
-No matter how hard things might be, as long as you are following God's plan, nothing is impossible. He will guide you and help you to fulfill His purpose for your life. Do not be discouraged. God is with you and He has a plan for you.

Although everyone would probably interpret the same devotion somewhat differently, I hope my notes help some of you with some issues or struggles you might be dealing with.

Nutrition Challenge:
I hope all of you have still been keeping your food logs/journals! Today, I want you to notice all the changes you have made from day one! The changes are small and gradual-- but look at the impact they have over an amount of time! Yes, we still have a ways to go and there are always things we can do better on (for example--even though I know I shouldn't be-- I am currently drinking a Mtn. Dew-- it's the first one that I have had in over a month, so I don't drink soda on a regular basis-- but it would obviously be better for me if I weren't drinking it right now either), but you are doing a great job so far! Take a look at the changes you have made and see what you can still improve on!

Fitness Challenge:
Today, we are going to learn how to do wall squats. They are great because you can do them at a gym, at home or anywhere with a wall!
1. Start with your back firmly against a wall and your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Keep your weight in your heels and your back FIRMLY against the wall. Slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Be sure that your knees are right above your ankles and NOT extending past your toes.
3. Keep your back against the wall and stay in the squat position-- make sure your core muscles are tightened for stability during this exercise.
4. There are a couple of ways to do step 4-- I will let you pick the one that works best for you:
     a. hold the position for up to a minute. stand and repeat. 4 to 5 repetitions of this exercise would be a      
         good starting point for beginners.
     b. hold the position for as long as you possibly can (up to 10 minutes) for one repition only.
**You can also make this exercise more difficult by using weights... either dumbbells in your hands or a plate sitting on your thighs. Another variation is to use your stability ball behind your back (the ball will be on the wall and your back will be on the wall). Remember to stretch AFTER you finish.

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Today's Out of Your Comfort Zone Challenge is from Chad. He said, "Go up to a complete stranger and do something that you know will make them smile." I said, "Like what?" He said, "that's where the individuals creativity comes in." I really liked that answer!! So today, brighten the day of a stranger by whatever means you feel appropriate to make them smile.
Example-- I went to Walgreens earlier and the cashier had on a pedometer. It was not against her body and not exactly on correctly. I simply told her that it would be more accurate on her hip and against her body-- that I was a personal trainer and that was just a little hint for her. Her response was, "Wow, that's awesome! Thank you so much." Yes, things like that can always either be taken as helpful or as criticism... so, make sure that whatever you do, your approach is friendly and positive!

Change Your Thinking:
A lot of times we get so caught up in the day to day obligations that we forget what is really important. Maybe you haven't talked to your parents or kids in a while because of work... Maybe you don't make it to church on Sunday because you are tired from the week before... Maybe you never make time to do something you enjoy because you get so caught up in the things you think you have to accomplish. Guess what? Time is the only thing we can never make more of-- Why not use your time for what's most important? Spend it with your loved ones and spend it growing your relationship with God. Spend it serving others. No, I am not saying to turn your back on your obligations-- but make time for the things that have a lasting impact. On your death bed, you will never say, "man, I sure do wish I had spent more time at work." So, lets make it a point to never have to say, "man, I wish I spent more time letting my family know how special they are."

Meet Cory! Cory and I met my third year of college when he lived next door to Steffi (introduced earlier). We all used to go to country concerts or just hang out at Steffi's place. Plus, Cory and I are both coffee fanatics and would meet at Starbucks from time to time to enjoy the new seasonal coffees. But, the thing that makes Cory stand out, is that since I have moved-- he has stayed in touch with me as well as my life-long friends have. Appreciate your friends-- If you ever move a long distance away from any of them, you will understand how important communication is! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do Not Be Fooled; Do Not Compare

Nutrition Challenge:
DO NOT be fooled by clever marketing. The people who come up with the ads or the labeling for food products are skilled in knowing what will catch someone's eye and make them buy the item they are marketing. It's a business. Don't take the wording on the front of a package at face-value. Instead, grab the box and turn it over to look at the nutritional facts. Chances are the, "low in fat," versions aren't as dramatically different as you might think (low in fat is just an example, there are many other marketing methods)
Yes, this way of shopping takes a little bit longer until you get used to it; but it's well worth it to actually know what you are putting into your body!

Fitness Challenge:
How many of us have been going to the gym or the park? Are we still getting the level activity we were a few weeks ago? What about more than we were a few weeks ago? As we are getting more used to our routines, it is important to switch them up and increase the intensity-- it keeps our body guessing instead of becoming adjusted to a set routine. So, if it has been a while since you have switched it up, lets do some interval training again today! (the interval routine is outlined in a previous post-- but basically, warm up for 2 minutes and then give me a minute of as hard as you can, cool down for 2 minutes and repeat. This is a cardio workout and is very effective at burning fat/calories). If you have been doing the intervals for a while-- decrease the cool down time for more of a challenge!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
In earlier posts, we have been challenged to sincerely compliment people and to write notes showing your appreciation to people... and many other things. We have even had a post titled, "Be an Encourager." Obviously, I find being supportive of others to be a very valuable character trait. Think about a time when you were out-- grocery shopping, dinner, anything-- and someone that you didn't know gave you a compliment. It could be something as simple as liking your outfit, but I bet you still remember how it made you feel! People are so used to being put down or being made to feel inadequate by the media or by self-induced views of what they should be. Today, I want you to be the solution to the inadequate feelings. Whatever you need to do (notes, emails, compliments, cards, a special treat to dinner, whatever) to make the people around you feel special-- do it!

Change Your Thinking:
Sticking with the theme of making people feel special-- today, you need to realize that YOU are special and that YOU are one of a kind. There is nobody in this world exactly like you. You have a unique personality and unique talents and skills. There are things in this world that NOBODY other than YOU can accomplish. God gave you your strengths and skills to make a difference and to use them for His purpose. Think about accomplishments you have made-- and think about the times people have told you that you did an amazing job at something. What skills do those activities require? Focus on what you are good at and the special abilities you have-- DO NOT COMPARE YOUR SKILLS TO ANYONE ELSE-- but, use your one-of-a-kind abilities to make this world a better place! If it takes a few tries to find a way of ministry that you are particularly effective at-- that's okay and normal. Just take what you have learned and apply it to the next thing.
**You don't have to conform to the world to be wonderful--- you were already fearfully and WONDERFULLY made in God's eyes. And tell me, what could be a better compliment than that?

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14

Monday, March 14, 2011

Appreciate Your Gifts

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you were able to think about the post from Saturday! How are you a blessing to those around you?

On Saturday, my mom bought me a new study Bible-- from 4.5 hours away, she called a local store, bought the Bible and then called me to tell me to go pick it up. Even if you aren't geographically close to people, you can still make a nice gesture to brighten their day!

Sunday, the service at Transformation was amazing yet again! Pastor Derwin was in Tennessee at a youth conference and two members of the church led the service on Sunday. They are Christian Relationship Counselors and they closed the series on Relationships-- It couldn't have been better! Then, Sunday night, Transformation had a come and go dessert so allow new members to meet others involved in the church. Again, it was amazing! The more time I spend around the people of Transformation, the more involved I want to be. Big changes are taking place there... If you ever have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it!

Nutrition Challenge:
We have made A LOT of changes in our diets so far (diet as in a lifestyle change, not a short-term means to an end). I am very proud of everyone for sticking to it! What challenges are you having the most difficulty with? Today's will probably be the hardest for me... Today, I challenge you to start reducing your sugar intake! Of course, from a fitness and weight-loss perspective, it isn't hard to guess why this challenge is beneficial. BUT, it goes much deeper than that....
--According to the American Diabetes Association (in 2010)::
25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes (8.3% of the population)
79 million people in the United States have pre-diabetes
1.9 million new cases are diagnosed yearly, in people 20 years of age and older
In 2007, diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths.
As you can see, this is a huge problem in the United States. So, when we are looking at the Nutrition Challenges, please realize that they go so far beyond appearance. More importantly, they will improve your quality of life!

Fitness Challenge:
Okay, how many of you are doing a bracket for March Madness this year? I know I am! How many of you watched the Selection Show yesterday to see who made it to the tournament? I know I did! So, sticking with the theme and adding some fun into the fitness challenges-- go play basketball today! It can be a pick-up game, you can play with your kids or you can shoot by yourself. It doesn't matter! Get some activity in your life and have fun with it-- workouts don't have to be something you dread or put off. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it! You don't have to be good at it-- trust me, I'm not!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
What is something you are good at? It can be anything. Today, I want you to think about something you are good at and then I want you to see where in your community you can apply your skills. Maybe you can coach a kids team...maybe you volunteer...maybe you start a food drive or serve at a food bank...maybe you offer lessons at a local children's shelter or nursing home...maybe you visit local shelters or homes to see what you can do. The point is, use your skills to get involved and make a difference! Who knows who all can benefit from your skills-- even if you personally find them insignificant-- you have your abilities for a reason!

Change Your Thinking:
You are capable of making a difference and you are worthy of love and appreciation. I think too often, we compare ourselves to others or think that what we have to offer isn't enough. Guess what? It is! How boring would this world be if everyone was good at the same thing? How dull would it be if everyone looked the same? How much of the population would miss out if everyone found the same cause worthy? Be thankful for what you have and what you have to offer... Realize that all of your gifts and talents come from God. He has a great purpose for you-- listen and learn what it is!
Also, as we continue to pray for those affected by the recent tsunami; remember to never take anything fore granted and to constantly appreciate those in your life.

As I have mentioned before, we are teaming up with Transformation Church to provide weekend meals for 54 Indian Land Elementary School students. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has already donated and to those of you who are planning to. You are making a difference in the lives of 54 precious children!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Are you a Blessing?

One of the first services we went to at Transformation Church was focused around being a blessing to those around you-- and especially to those you are in relationships with. I think that's a great way to look at relationships and is sadly against how society tells us to look at things. In the United States especially, we are taught to be self-centered and to get involved in things that can, "do something for us." When the truth of it is, we should focus our lives on what we can do for other people.

Day 29 of, "The Purpose Driven Life," tells us that our purpose is service. What can we do to make an impact and leave the world better than it was when we got here? If anyone was a Girl Scout-- or probably Boy Scout, too-- you were taught that when you go somewhere (camping or otherwise), you should leave the site cleaner than it was when you got there. I think our purpose of service is basically the same--our lives should leave our world better than it was.

To tie the two points together-- If you live a life of service, you will be a blessing to everyone around you. If you live your life to be a blessing to others, you will want to make their lives better and not simply worry about what that person can do for you. In turn, your relationships will be better and more fulfilling.

Sometimes it is hard to go against what the world teaches us-- and it takes a lot of practice-- but, when the world tells you one thing, turn to the Bible to see what God says. If you are unclear, talk to someone who can clearly explain it to you.

The only challenge I have for you today is to focus on being a blessing to those around you! Feedback on what you are doing is welcome and appreciated--!

Meet Carrie! She has been one of my best friends for my entire life... When we were in Kindergarten, we even tried to glue our hands together so our parents couldn't make us go home. Even though times have changed and we no longer spend each and every day together, I know she is someone that I can always call and always count on. She is in Grad School at the University of Georgia right now and I am in South Carolina-- so, we don't see each other near as much as I would like. But, the thing about strong friendships and relationships-- Distance doesn't matter. We can still be close and still count on each other because we have spent a lifetime proving our friendship. Think about that!

Friday, March 11, 2011

"If we couldn't laugh we would all go Insane." (Jimmy Buffett)

Have you noticed that the more positive changes you begin to make in your life, the more you want to do? How awesome is that?! And, have you also noticed, that the more positive you are, the more encouraging those around you become? What a great cycle... make changes and have a positive attitude and the positivity spreads!

Has anyone found something in their community to get involved in? If you haven't, I urge you to. I know time is valuable-- but it is amazing how much you get out of your time when you are using it to help those around you and make the world a better place! If you don't know of somewhere to volunteer, ask those around you-- I am sure they can come up with something for you (maybe they even need help themselves)!

Today, we are going to take a break from the challenges... everyone has worked hard this week and I think deserves a Friday to relax! Of course, even though there are no new challenges today-- all of the ones from the past are still valid and ongoing! If there are things you haven't gotten around to yet-- use today to get them done! Not only do I challenge everyone to do certain things-- I follow the challenges myself. I promise they make a change and have a huge impact in my daily life and routine.

Some examples of how my life has been changing since I started this blog (thanks to yall for reading and holding me accountable)!
--I have stuck to my daily readings and have been sure to get up early enough to have my day started on the right foot. For me, that makes a HUGE difference. I am not a morning person--at all--so, getting up early was hard for me initially. But, once I got in the habit of it has become something that I absolutely can't do without.
--I carry my Bible with me absolutely everywhere I go-- If I get stressed or frustrated with something throughout the day-- I open it and read. All the verses mentioned in this blog have been directly related to what I have read or focused on that day.
--Chad and I have both started to get more actively involved in the church and the community. We are looking for a small group at our church to start attending-- and I have found a Wednesday night women's meeting with a friend's church. I am also working with the outreach team from my church and we are collecting food in our office to feed 54 elementary school students. As I have become more involved, I have started to get more emails and encouragement from the other members of the church. Encouragement really does go a long way!!
--I have talked to my friends from home and from college a lot more often-- making time for the important things.
--Chad and I have devoted more time to spend with each other--making time for the important things again-- and our relationship continues to grow and even get better!
--I have sent messages to people I have lost contact with-- have heard back from some, and not from others--but reaching out still helps!
--Diet and exercise are and have been on point-- but I am continuing to work on my routine and have been talking to more people about living a healthy lifestyle!

Hope you are all noticing some positive changes in your life, as well!
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." -E.E Cummings

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do Small Things with Great Love

First of all, I am sorry I am getting this up so late today. I had 2 health talks this morning and then went to start buying food for the elementary school students mentioned in a previous post... then had a couple more appointments and am just now having the chance to sit down. Busy is great when you love what you are doing! If you wake up feeling overwhelmed-- maybe you aren't following the path God meant for you; maybe it's time to make a change. If you love what you are doing, busy doesn't make you feel overwhelmed.

Nutrition Challenge:
How is everyone doing increasing the amount of meals they eat throughout the day? It takes a while to get in the habit of it... but, it's the way to go!
Today, we are going to start substituting... Not giving anything up, just making small changes. Any white grains/white bread/white pasta you eat... switch it to whole grain due to its less-processed nature! Brown rice instead of white rice-- that type of thing.
Reason: White grains are turned into sugar by your body-- and the breakdown process is incredibly quick. That leads to spikes in insulin levels as a result of high blood sugar. Repeatedly doing this causes the pancreas to be less responsive and the receptors that release insulin to fatigue.

Fitness Challenge:
Great job working all those muscle groups! Today is your recovery day... Use it for flexibility exercises/stretching. We don't want to overdo it and burn ourselves out... You are well on your way to establishing a fitness program!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Get involved in something you enjoy. The other day, I asked someone in the office what they liked to do for fun and they simply told me that they didn't have time to do the things they enjoy. That broke my heart. What's the point in going through the motions day after day if you never do anything you like? For me, I love what I do-- I love seeing people enjoying higher qualities of life-- so work doesn't seem like work to me. I hope each of you enjoy your jobs also... if not, maybe start looking at the positive aspects of it. Maybe you don't like what you do but it gives you time for your family-- that's a definite positive! The point is, do something for you. You will be happier and more positive-- and the happier you are, the greater {positive} impact you can have on others. No matter how tight your schedule is, make time for yourself!

Change Your Thinking:
I think some of us think that in order to make a difference we have to be a prominent community figure or have the financial capability to donate tons of money to a cause. However, that is so far from the truth. If you don't have the means to do something large scale, make a difference to one person around you. That gesture will grow into something larger than itself as others around you start to follow your lead.

"Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love." -Mother Theresa

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3(NIV)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Importance of Positivity

This morning, I absolutely couldn't make myself get out of bed (I guess yesterday's early start caught up with me today...). I still made it to the office by 8:30-- but I was pushing it. Even worse, I didn't have time to wake up slowly and do my morning reading and routine to insure a good start to my day. I did fit it in before patients started-- but my routine was off to a sloppy start.

Luckily, even though I started off in a rush, my morning got back on track-- thanks to my readings, devotions and largely because of Chad. When I walked into the kitchen at the office to grab a water this morning, sitting on the counter was a card and a chocolate covered donut (yes, I treated myself to it). Even though the donut was absolutely delicious, it was the card that really made me smile. The front of the card was orange and yellow with a dandelion. The caption said, "Dream Dare Do Discover," and the inside wording said, " amazing you are!" Already, a very positive and encouraging message... but, Chad added his own personal touch that made it 1000 times better! He wrote, "You are important! You are special! You are appreciated! You are helpful! You have a loving heart! You are kind! You are needed! You are beautiful! Most importantly... You are You!" Now honestly, who wouldn't smile when they read that--directed to them?

So (Insert YOUR name)... You are special! You are important! Your life matters! You are perfectly made in God's image! And I am proud of you for constantly improving yourself and living up to your God-given potential!

Nutrition Challenge:
No, I am not going to tell you to go eat a chocolate covered donut (but, if you want to... I can't stop you because I already have today)!
Did you know that eating small meals, multiple times a day is vital for your metabolism? So many people go on, "starvation diets," and guess what--- not only are they horrible for you-- they don't work! If your starve your body, it starts to, "run slower." Think about a computer-- if it is plugged into a power source, the back light is typically brighter and it takes longer for it to go into sleep mode. If that power source is taken away, it alters the amount of power it uses in order to stay charged for a longer amount of time. In a way, your body is a lot like that... If fed, and especially if fed properly, it will run more effectively and your metabolism will stay faster. Now, I won't go into all the variable that raise and lower you metabolism or anything to make the point of today's challenge more difficult than it has to be... but, your challenge is to eat small meals throughout the day... 6 is a good number. A handful of nuts or some fruit can count as a meal, but be sure to eat something small every few hours. It takes a while to adapt to feeding yourself that way-- but it is absolutely what your body needs and one of the most common misconceptions related to dieting (which is why we don't diet).

Fitness Challenge:
You have one more suggested muscle group to work on tonight! I know you might be sore today-- or maybe you still aren't completely comfortable with the gym-- but, you are doing great! Everyone--no matter their fitness level--is at the gym for the same reason. They all want to be healthy and more physically fit. Don't pay attention to others or compare yourself to others... just do your thing and become a healthier version of you!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
The radio station I have been listening to (91.9 New Life) had a day last week where they asked people, in a drive thru line, to pay for the order of the car behind them and leave a note explaining why they did that. The station's website even has a sample note that listeners could use. The purpose, from my point of view, was to start a trend of doing something for others and I think that's wonderful! Now, I know that paying for someone else's order and your own might not always be a possibility-- but, there are ways where you can start a sequence of good-deeds without spending any money! You could write a personal note, a Bible verse or an inspirational quote and give it to someone-- a co-worker, a friend or a complete stranger. Some might not be openly receptive to it, but once they read it, I am sure you will bring a smile to their face. You have no idea what might be going on in someone's life--- family issues, health issues, financial stress, etc--- but, good deeds and positive influences are contagious (so is negativity, by the way). Today, be the smile on someones face or the hope in their hearts.
A lady from a local television station asked me today, if I had 30 seconds, what would I want to tell someone (this was pertaining to the office). My answer was simply, "There is always hope."

Change Your Thinking:
Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook or Twitter account and noticed all the negative status updates? What about turned on the television to see all the horrific things going on in the world? While I don't want anyone to turn themselves off to current events-- it is important to have an understanding of the world around you-- I want you to make an effort to spread positivity in anyway that you can. Whether it is refusing to gossip with your girlfriends or making sure to keep the negativity out of your personal social media page-- do something positive! I know we spend a lot of time talking about portraying positivity-- but it is something different than we are used to and will take reinforcement! Don't put on a front or hide your feelings-- but when it comes to others, be sure that you aren't the force that is putting them down.

At church two weeks ago, the pastor put up 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and asked the congregation to insert their name anywhere the verses said/referenced the word, "love." Today, I want you to do the same.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7(NIV)

Meet Steffi. Although not the most flattering picture of either one of us-- I love it! Steffi and I grew up in the same town and went to the same college. We were roommates our second year. This picture is from a surprise birthday dinner we had for her 22'nd. We were taking pictures and goofing off-- and ended up falling in the floor. We are in the floor, in the middle of a steak house, with everyone else probably thinking we have serious issues-- but look at our facial expressions! That, my friends, is positivity! We could have been embarrassed about falling in the floor-- but instead are are laughing hysterically and got one of my favorite pictures of all time out of it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unexpected Generosity

This morning, my day started at 5:30am. If you know me personally, you know that is insanely early for me (I am the person who never started college classes before 11am--and still had a hard time making it on time). If you don't know me personally, you can probably still guess that 5:30am is early. If Chad reads this, I am probably going to regret this sentence-- but, it was nice to be up before the sun and be able to see the day getting started. Honestly, I haven't seen the sun come up in ages.

The reason for such an early start was that we had a couple of health talks scheduled at a local business starting at 8am-- No, that in itself wouldn't require me to get up at 5:30-- but I knew that in order to get my day started on the right foot, I needed to set aside time to read and not rush (if you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that setting aside time for yourself was a challenge about a week ago). Starting the day off positively really does become a habit that you can't do without!

This morning, at the close of the talks, I told everyone that we were collecting food in our office to donate through Transformation Church to feed 54 students at Indian Land Elementary. One of the men at the talk really touched my heart. He made an appointment with us-- at settings like this, we do special offers for employees as a thank you for allowing us in their business-- and paid the $20 donation fee (that I will be using to buy food for the cause) and then gave me an additional $10 because he said he really believed in what we were doing and wanted to be able to help the kids. Then, he took it a step further, and told me that he knows a man who donates clothing and other items to local kids and said he would be glad to help in that aspect, too. This is a man who has never met me before, doesn't live in the Indian Land community and has never been to Transformation Church... but he still took a step-up and is helping to feed those children! I thought it was amazing-- and his gesture is the inspiration for the post today!

Nutrition Challenge:
Did anybody make the guacamole last night? I did-- well, Chad did (he makes it better than I do). It was delicious! Today, the challenge doesn't directly involve you or your nutrition. Stick to all the challenges and tips put forward until this point and keep up the good work in your lifestyle change-- but today, I want you to donate at least one food item to a local shelter/food bank/church/any other place that collects food to feed the hungry. We are spending so much time focusing on what we eat and maybe not even thinking that some don't have anything to eat at all. Today, give back to your community!

Fitness Challenge:
Did anyone go to the gym yesterday?? If you did, great job! I know everyone probably chose the, "easiest," muscle for them to work yesterday... so today, do a different muscle group! If you go to the gym--either with your membership or free trial-- great! If not, use some weights or resistance bands you might have at home. If you don't have weights, improvise. You can use paint buckets, canned food, or anything else you might have around the house to provide resistance. In later post, we will continue going through specific exercises... but at this point, I want you to be able to work on what YOU want to. It will give you motivation and satisfaction to stick to your new lifestyle!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Today, we are following the man from this mornings lead. We are giving more than we are asked and going out of our way to help those around us. Is there an elderly or disabled couple in your neighborhood who might need help with chores around the house? Heavy lifting, mowing the grass or maybe even something as simple as picking up groceries. If yes, help them! Does a local school or non-profit need volunteers for an event? If yes, volunteer! I don't expect everyone to actually volunteer or help a neighbor around the house today-- but start looking for opportunities to make a difference! Suggestions: Womens Shelters, Animal Shelters, YMCA's, Food Banks, Nursing Homes-- I am sure everyone can think of somewhere in their community that could use a helping hand!

Change Your Thinking:
In our culture, we are taught to be selfish and to look out for ourselves-- so, today's challenge is going to be hard and is going to take a lifetime of work. I want you to make it a focus to think of the needs of others and to help meet those needs. Whether it is a family member, a friend or a stranger-- start looking out for and taking care of those around you. Do this in whatever way you can-- give financially, give of your time, give whatever you can-- just give!

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." (Mother Theresa)

Continuing with the introductions of the people who impact my life... 

Meet Chad. He is my boyfriend and, in addition to my parents, a main part of my support system. He is the reason I live in Fort Mill and a huge part of my daily life. He supports me in everything that I do and always listens if I need to talk. He is a great man and has a passion for helping others... He makes me want to be the best person that I possibly can be and helps me on the journey called life. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Building a Strong Foundation

Hope everyone had a wonderful, and re-energizing, weekend! If you read the post on Saturday-- Hope you enjoyed the brief introduction to my family and the break from the challenges.

At Transformation Church, Pastor Derwin has been teaching a series on relationships-- amazing messages and not what you are typically used to hearing. Yesterday, the Executive Pastor, led the worship. He has been married for 33 years and discussed things that he has learned; and things that he is still learning; with his marriage.  I won't go into the sermon-- but I am going to give you the verses he based his sermon off of:

- Matthew 22:36-40
-1 Corinthians 13:1-8
-Ephesians 5:21-33
-Colossians 3:18-25
-Colossians 3:12-17

As you read and reflect on those verses, remember the context of the sermon was marriage vows and knowledge gained through years of marriage. Married or not, having a healthy view of relationships and a strong foundation is beneficial!

Speaking of a strong foundation; how is everyone doing with the challenges and their new routines? I know, we are all probably ready to see some physical changes-- and some of us probably already are-- but I promise, stick to it and the changes will come! You are improving your health, your fitness and your overall quality of life!

The original plan for the day was to make a video instead of typing the whole thing out-- well, the video was made and was put into the blog-- but when the video player came up, the video and audio were completely off. So, no video today! Keep an eye out-- hopefully I can get the syncing figured out soon!

Basically, I just wanted to congratulate everyone for sticking to the challenges and making the positive changes in their lives. A lifestyle change and a positive way of thinking are more beneficial and will have a greater impact that any fad-diet or resolution workout program ever could! 

Nutrition Challenge:
I hope everyone loaded up on the healthy fats mentioned in the last challenge (Friday). If you haven't started implementing them into your diet-- or you aren't exactly sure how to-- today's challenge should help you!
Today, we are making guacamole! 
Start with 2 ripe avocados. (A ripe avocado will be, "squishy," to the touch).
**There are a ton of different recipes you can follow for making guacamole-- but I am just going to start with the ingredients I like to use!**
Cut the avocado in half. Using a spoon, transfer the avocado into a bowl.
Add diced onion and tomato (to your taste)
Add lime juice (to your taste)
Add a pinch of salt (sea-salt is the best option because of the trace minerals)
Add cilantro (to your taste)
Add jalapeƱo (to your taste)
Blend together (a fork will work for this) until it reaches your desired consistency. Some prefer guacamole to have larger avocado chunks and others prefer it smooth. 
Now, you are ready to eat! Please pay attention to the chips or tortillas you use with your guacamole. A flax seed or whole wheat option will be best! 
Sorry if these directions aren't completely clear-- I am not exactly the best in the kitchen! 

Fitness Challenge:
Okay, so we have now started walking, implemented some interval training and have learned two basic exercises. Today, I want you to go to the gym and incorporate some weight-training into your routine! If you have a gym membership-- great! If not-- most gyms will allow you to have a free trial if you ask! 
Before you go, have an idea of what you are wanting to work. Some ideas of muscle groups to work are:
-Back and Shoulders.
-Chest and Triceps
-Legs and Abs
We are going to keep it simple today-- Most gyms will have a type of, "circuit training," already set up. The great thing about this-- especially for beginners-- is that the machines give you directions on how to use the machine as well as a diagram of what body part the machine targets. If you need help, the gym staff will be able to assist you. Pick one of the groups listed above and target those muscles today. Be careful not to over-exert yourself and please pay close attention to your form... We are trying to get stronger, not injured! 

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Today, we have been focusing on a strong foundation... in relationships, in knowing how to implement healthy fats into our diets and in our strength and fitness routines. Why not keep the focus on a strong foundation during this challenge, too?
Think about the amount of time you spend with media (internet, tv, radio, newspaper, magazine) and then think about the amount of time you spend building up your moral character. Which part of your life, based on the time commitment, is the most important to you? I am not telling you to quit paying attention to media-- but, I am asking you to increase the amount of time spent on developing yourself into the person you were meant to be! Maybe you want to devote more time to Bible study; maybe you want to start attending a small group; maybe you want to become more active in your community; maybe you want to become more active in the life of your family-- whatever you want to do, make a conscious effort to give it the time it deserves!

Change Your Thinking:
"I'll just ignore it... the problem will go away."
Umm... No it wont!
Today, I challenge you to take a more active role in your own life! If there is a conflict, don't ignore it! Fix the problem while it is still small... because, guess what? The longer you ignore it, the BIGGER it will become. So many people come into the office and say, "well, I just thought it would go away." By the time they come in, the problem is so much bigger than it would have been if they had corrected it in the beginning. 
I said I wouldn't get into the sermon from yesterday-- but I will tell you that part of it focused on taking care of problems before they got out of hand. How many of us have been in the middle of a conflict and not even been able to remember what started the issue? Let's make a promise to ourselves to never deal with that again!! Take care of your relationships-- listen to each other-- and fix any conflict before it gets out of hand!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Take a Look at Yourself and then Make a Change (MJ, of course)

I have been debating on if I should post on the weekends or not-- I didn't last weekend, but decided that I would today. Putting my thoughts out really makes me have a better day-- and I hope, even on the weekend, will help improve someone else's day or mindset!

Today, there will be no challenges (it is Saturday, after-all), just a little bit of reflection.

Coffee is my caffeine addiction. It is great any time of day and I never get tired of it... That's the one thing that I really have to focus on moderating and typically over-indulge anyway. Now, International Delights makes a Hershey's Chocolate Carmel Creamer. Can we just say that coffee is even better now? A simple thing, like a flavored creamer I had never tried before, took my favorite beverage and made it into something even better... and a simple change was all it took! (See, there is a point to my coffee talk...)

Why don't you focus on being the simple change in someone's life? Maybe you smile at a stranger... Maybe you let a car out in front of you... Maybe you let someone with fewer items go ahead of you at the grocery store... Or maybe you take time to really listen to a friend without pretending to have all the answers (advice is good, but sometimes people just need to talk themselves through a situation and really just want you to listen). Whatever it is, be the simple change in someone's day. That's not a challenge necessarily-- just what my coffee made me think of this morning!

For those of you reading this who don't personally know me, I am going to use today's post as a way for you to paint a picture in your mind of who I am... by using pictures of some of the people that are important to me. We will start by introducing my family...

This is my Daddy. I am 24 years old and have never referred to him as anything else. He is a hard worker and a great man and will always take the time to help anyone he can. He has always believed in me and motivated me to be the best person I can possibly be. I have always been, and will always be, Daddy's little girl.

This is my mom. She has also always supported me and wanted me to be the best person I can be. She is someone that will tell me something that I don't want to hear if she knows it will push me in the right direction. Just like my daddy, she has never missed anything that I have decided to be a part of.
This is my little sister and one of my best friends. I am 5 years older than her, but we have a connection and a friendship that no other friend-relationship can compare to. We drive each other crazy and make each other mad at times--but at the end of the day, we are still some of each other's biggest fans.

This is my little brother (but as you can see, I am the short one of the family). He has possibly the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met-- but he doesn't want you to see it. As the boy, he doesn't stay in-touch as much as the other members of the family do-- but if I needed something, he'd be one of the first people here.