Be the Change You Want To See

I love the gym. Not the floofy classes or the cushy easy-glide equipment, but the plate weights and the dumbbells and the free bars. I love the ‘real’ stuff – the stuff that I grew up with. The stuff that I know… that I understand… that I am comfortable with.

I got out of bed early this morning and hit the gym for the first time in weeks. The reality of my life is this: if I don’t steal the time for myself before the house wakes, I don’t make it happen.

I get tired.

I get lazy.

The ‘things’ of the day begin to suck at my skin and I just can’t get my mind right to put for the energy for a workout.

So, when a morning begins like it did today… me awake, the house asleep, iPod full of the best tunes, lots of sweat, 64 ounces of water before 7:30am, and tingling in my muscles, I am sooo thankful for my early years:

  • I’m thankful that working out wasn’t an option – it just was.
  • I’m thankful that my dad didn’t talk fitness… he lived fitness.
  • I’m thankful that my parents raised me so my body would never be a burden; I was raised to be in control of my physical being.
  • I am thankful the gym was home to me and, no matter how much time passes between my visits, I always return with comfort and ease.

That’s what growing up in bodybuilding did for me: it built a foundation of health. No, I’m not a bodybuilder – and, no, I have no desire to spend four hours a day in the gym… even if I had that kind of time in my day. BUT – growing up in bodybuilding grew a foundational desire in me to never let my body get away from me.

I learned from eating and breathing bodybuilding, day in and day out, that my body will be exactly what I feed it and train it to be. Period.

The funny thing is I’m positive my dad wasn’t intentionally training me all those years. He never pulled out a notebook with goals and milestones and ‘things I must teach my daughter before she’s 18’. He never sat me down and delivered bodybuilding sermons, or pontificated on the value of multiple reps and sets for each muscle group. No – my dad just was who he was and I learned by simply walking through life by his side.

Proverbs 22:6 promises that what we teach our children in their youth is what will stay with them:

“Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (The Message Bible)

Or, another way it’s said is: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (NIV)

Today, just as I am reminded of the importance of the example I am living for my kids, I hope you’re reminded of the same.

Who WE are is who are children will become.

  • Our view of food will be their view of food.
  • How we handle trials will be how they handle trials.
  • How we value our bodies will be how they value their bodies.
  • How we love our spouse will be how they love their spouse.
  • How we respect ourselves will be how they respect themselves.

What WE do and who WE are matters far more than what we say.

  • We can’t preach ‘be kind’ if we ourselves are unkind.
  • We can’t preach ‘be healthy’ if we ourselves are unhealthy.
  • We can’t preach ‘be modest’ if we ourselves are immodest.
  • We can’t preach ‘be humble’ if we ourselves are full of ourselves and puffed up with pride.
  • We can’t preach ‘have faith’ if we ourselves are faith-less.

So today, mamas, let’s walk strong with eyes wide open. Let’s be the women we hope our girls will become.

Let’s be kind so they will learn kindness.

Let’s be generous so they will learn generosity.

Let’s be forgiving so they will learn forgiveness.

Let’s be patient so they will learn patience.

Let’s be bold so they will learn boldness.

Let’s be joyful so they will learn joy.

Let’s be thankful so they will learn thankfulness.

May our homes be where our children eat and breathe life and love and Truth, day in and day out…. so when they grow old, they will not depart from it.

My Out-of-Character Purple Quinoa Soup

We’re officially into summer, but here in Oregon the rain hasn’t stopped. It’s been dreary – just a little chilly. So, last night I decided to make soup for my family to warm us up from the inside out.

I had a beautiful head of red cabbage that I sautéed with some garlic and onions and then simmered in chicken broth. I added cooked quinoa and I seasoned the soup with cinnamon, fennel, and bay leaves. I added a little fresh lemon zest, a dash of sea salt and pepper, and served it with some fresh diced cilantro over the top. It was hearty, chalk full of nutrients, and the flavor was absolutely divine!

The one thing I didn’t bank on, however, was that my beautiful cabbage would go crazy in the pot. As it simmered, my good intentioned meal went from a pot of deliciousness to a big lavender-colored stew. The more lavender it got, the more my stomach sank. Yes, it smelled amazing – and it tasted amazing… but let’s get serious: no matter how spectacular my intentions and the flavors were, it was purple soup.

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Even my man, who loves everything I cook, opened the pot and gave me a look like, “You serious?”

“It tastes amazing,” I said encouragingly. “I know it doesn’t look so great – but wait til you try it.”

I ladled it into bowls for everyone and, as the kids approached the table and saw servings of purple, I got one, then two, then three, “What is this?”

Again, I let out a little laugh (and a prayer they’d eat it since I had no backup plan) as I said, “You’ll love it – I promise!”

Long story short, my prayer was answered and everyone finished their dinner. Surprisingly, there was no complaining, no sounds of disgust – they just ate. Their eyes were half closed with every bite – but they ate nonetheless. (My man even went back for seconds.) Then, as they left the dinner table satisfied, and warm, and full up on nutrients, I even heard, “Gosh, mom, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.”

But, can I tell you something?

I was absolutely shocked they ate that soup. S.H.O.C.K.E.D. It was the ugliest bowl of soup I’ve ever consumed in my 40 years of life – and, hands down, it was the ugliest meal I’ve ever put in front of my family in all the years I’ve cooked for them. Maybe it’s just me – or us… but purple is not meant for soup. Purple is meant for hydrangeas, or skittles, or a snazzy handbag that gives a pop of color to a boring outfit. But soup? No thanks.

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So, what gives then? How is it that my family got past the ugly flag that soup was waving and managed to discover it really was tasty?

I am convinced my family got past the ‘ugly’ because they know my ‘cooking character’. They enjoy my cooking night after night. They see the groceries I bring home; they know the flavors I play with; they’ve grown to trust how I put ingredients together; and, they are confident I cook, not to punish them, but to satisfy and nourish them with all things good. They’ve seen my ‘cooking character’ in the kitchen so regularly that, in spite of this total bomb, they knew they could trust I would never in a million years serve something that tasted disgusting… and that meant they simply ignored the ugly flag and dug right in.

With all that said, I turned off the kitchen lights last night with this quote floating through my mind:

My soup? It spoke really, really bad of me last night. Thankfully, though, I’ve lived out enough love in my kitchen that no one believed it to be true.

5 Steps to Training Conscious Eaters

This week on twitter I was reminded of a this great quote:

We are walking billboards. If we are overweight and out of shape, lack vitality and enthusiasm, we are telling the world on our billboard, “I don’t care.” On the other hand, if you take care of your body by giving it proper nutrition and exercise, you will exude vitality and enthusiasm. Your sign will read, “I have pride, I have discipline, I take care of this God-given body, it’s my moral obligation.” -Jack Lallane, from his book Revitalize Your Life: Improve Your Looks, Your Health & Your Sex Life.

Growing up in a bodybuilding house this idea that we are “walking billboards” was always top of mind. Why? Because people are watching. Yes, whether we like it or not, others are watching our “example”. How we talk, how we dress, how we look, where we go, what we do – it all says something about what takes priority in our heart. We are a total package… therefore, if we are to have positive influence on others, we musn’t just be talking – we must be WALKING. Our life must say something – and, when it comes to whether we care about our health and fitness, what people see on the outside speaks louder than anything that ever comes out of our mouth.

Now that I’m a wife and mother, my “walking billboard” has grown to include my husband and my children. How they are “nourished” in my home is reflected in who they are – physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am no longer able to just think of health in terms of what I need and want… I must consider what “my tribe” needs and wants. Health and wellness is a family affair… and, if I want my family to be healthy and well, it all starts with me and the habits I cultivate in my home.

One “rebel” habit I am cultivating in my home, for example, is “conscious eating”. How? With these five basic steps:

First, regular meals at regular times of day. We have regular meals at regular times of the day: breakfast in the morning, lunch at mid-day, and dinner in the evening. No matter what our schedule, we do our best to all eat at the same time, and eat the same things; no one gets to “opt-out” of what’s be prepared for the family. And, when the kitchen “closes” after dinner, there is no more eating – period.

Second, proper portions. I serve my children on smaller plates/bowls than adults eat off of; smaller bodies need smaller portions. We rarely serve seconds – if there is still hunger after a meal, then we bring out fruit to top it off.

Third, listen to (and understand) your body. I once heard that the French word for “full” is actually translated, “I no longer have hunger”. This is what I want my kids to understand – that you don’t have to be “full” after a meal, you simply have to “no longer have hunger”.

Fourth, we have clear family definition for what a snack is. In between our regular meals, we have “snacks” – a nutrient dense nibble of whole food that will fend off hunger and provide the energy we need between meals.

Cookies and milk is not a snack.

A bowl of ice cream is not a snack.

A fruit snack is not a snack.

A sugar-laden granola bar (or protein bar or meal bar) is not a snack.

A bowl full of chips is not a snack.

None of these are a snack in our home because none of them fit our definition of snack: a nutrient dense nibble of whole food that will fend off hunger and provide us the energy we need between meals.

So, what is a snack?

Whole fruit is a snack. Nuts are a snack. A bowl of edemame or sugar snap peas is a snack. Crackers with peanut butter is a snack. SmartyBars are a snack. A slice of turkey or a piece of salami with cheese – that’s a snack.

Fifth, everything gets a plate. Nothing gets eaten unless it’s first put it on a plate (or in a bowl) – why? Because seeing how much you are serving yourself is key in understanding how much your body needs to “no longer have hunger”. I want my kids to see what they are consuming, not eat mindlessly.

I share all this because today is a great time for you to think about a couple of things: 1) are you happy with your “billboard”; and 2) if not, what is ONE step you can take to begin remaking your “billboard”?

Just one step… that’s what it takes to go in a new direction.

Rebel on, sister.

Elisha

Practical Health

There is a beautiful verse in the Bible that gives instruction on how to imprint Truth on the generations that follow us, and it says:

Fix [these Truths] in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…

(Deuteronomy 11: 18-20)

While this verse was written for a people desiring to teach spiritual truths to their generations, it is great instruction for anything we wish to imprint on our children. Our children are our “mini-disciples”, if you will. Everything we do and say is funneling straight into their hearts and minds whether we like it or not. Pretty humbling, isn’t it.

So, when it comes to the concept of “health” in our home, I take this verse to heart:

Our principals of health are FIXED. The same rules for health must apply whether we are in our home, or out in the world. Even when we are pressed for time or on the go-go-go, we make it a point to make choices that support what we want our children to learn about being “healthy” and living a “healthy lifestyle”.

Our principals of health are OBVIOUS. We are not “deceptively delicious” in our home. The food I buy, the food I cook, what I put into their lunches, what I put into my own lunches – all of these things are “symbols” to my children of what “health” looks like. They can identify they healthy foods they’re eating and they know why it’s good for them.  Furthermore, my physical body (as well as my husband’s) is a “symbol” to my children, as well. If I want to raise children that will be fit, I (we) must first be fit myself. If I want my children to be active, I (we) must be active myself.

Our principals of health are TAUGHT. We are teaching our children through conversation; we TALK about health and healthy choices at all times of the day and in all things. We talk about how our bodies and minds are a reflection of what we’re putting into them, so we must pay attention to what we look like and how we are feeling. We talk about how food makes us feel and how the right choices will empower, and the wrong choices will wear us down. We talk about food commercials we see; we read and discuss every label; we educate on the vitamins, minerals and nutrients our bodies need from the good, whole foods we intake.

Our principals of health are WRITTEN. Our truth is “written” on our home in the sense that anyone who enters will clearly understand how we live. You will an abundance of whole foods – veggies and fruits of every color and variety, beans, grains. Our freezer is stocked with fish and chicken, our pantry is stocked with nuts and dried fruit. We keep our “treats” in what we call the “naughty cabinet”… any the stuff in the “naughty cabinet” is the stuff we don’t eat on a regular basis – the stuff that doesn’t nourish us and make us feel good, but that we all want to have because it’s nice to have a treat sometimes.

The world is full of junk and, I’m not naive: my kids are going out into the world and are going to have to make choices on their own. But this is why my heart is not to force good food on them or “deceive” them with cookies made out of yams, but instead to empower them to live well with knowledge, understanding and practical ways to make choices in a junk-filled world.

My goals are simple:

I want my kids to live amazing lives and I never want their physical body to prevent them for doing whatever they may desire to do.

I want my kids to have a desire for health so deep within them that they make choices not because I said so, but because they want to.

I want my kids to know the taste of real, whole food and crave it because it makes them feel so darn good to eat it.

I want them to use food to nourish themselves – and to always feel they can exercise self-control no matter what goodies they’re faced with.

I want my kids to know that being healthy is not a burden; and, that even when pressed for time, good choices can still be made.

I want my kids to THRIVE and LEAD and SHINE. THIS is why I make the choices for our home that I do.  Because it’s not about me  – it’s about them, and it’s about their children, and it’s about their children’s children.

A healthy, prosperous life for generations to come starts with ME. It starts with YOU.