Trusting Through the No

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The other day a friend of mine posted a photo of his little girl. She’s just a few weeks shy of three, darling as all get out and has a smile that lights up a room. In this particular picture, however, the little beauty was sprawled out in her velvet dress with her back against the concrete. From the lack of focus on her legs, she was obviously flailing her sparkly Mary Jane covered feet while clutching her hands to her chest and crying bitterly.

“Wasn’t allowed to dig a hole in the front yard,” the caption said.

I died… laughing.

If you’re a parent, you’re probably like me where, you see this photo, and your mind starts recalling all those ridiculous things that send kids to their knees:

“Brother pushed the elevator button first.”

“He was told he couldn’t pea on the front porch anymore.”

“She was told she had to put on pants if she wanted to go outside and play with her friends.”

“A blue bubblegum came out of the vending machine… she wanted red.”

“We asked her to not throw the cat against the wall.”

The only reason our kiddos freak out over these ‘non-issues’ is because they don’t get the ‘why’. They are so focused on self – and self wants what it wants when it wants it. Right? So, when they don’t get their way and they can’t understand why… well, all hell breaks loose.

The thing about this photo, however, is while it’s a picture of a little girl acting out… what came to mind (after I laughed about it) was this: Father, this is what you must see in me when I lose my self-control.

Ugh.

If I’m not careful, my self-control is easily whipped out the window and I throw an adult tantrum:

I can get critical…

I can get demanding…

I can withdraw…

I can get mean…

And, worst of all, I can start to doubt that the One who’s telling me ‘no’ really loves me and is for me – and my doubt makes me want to clench my fists, bite someone, and push the Big Bully out of the way.

It’s how our kids feel when they hear no, isn’t it? They feel we’re not for them… they feel we’re withholding something really good… they feel we just ‘don’t get it’. They see us as these great big bullies that just want to ruin their fun and prevent them from doing amazing things.

But that’s not a parent’s heart. We parents don’t say ‘no’ because we’re malicious… we say ‘no’ to things because we have perspective and maturity. We’ve lived enough life to know what hurts and what’s wrong – and, when we say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ even, it’s because we LOVE our kids – and we recognize that ‘no’ is part of the training that will help them grow up into responsible, thoughtful, other-centered, gracious, loving human beings.

Jesus once said, “Which of you, if your child asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I am not a perfect parent… sheesh, I’m not a perfect anything. But what this verse tells me is that if I, even with my faults and baggage and pride, want good for my babies – how much more does my perfect God want my good.

This is what I remind myself when I start to doubt His love or His presence in the ‘no’ or ‘not now’. This is what I speak when I’m on my knees, lost and confused and weeping over why my great idea has been shut down by the hand of God. I say, “Father – I am yours… I don’t like ‘no’ and I don’t understand why I can’t have my way, but thank you for your faithfulness… and thank you I can trust that ‘no’ (or ‘not yet’) is for my good. I turn my eyes off myself and onto You – help me to see You clearly in this… and do the work in me this ‘no’ is meant to accomplish.”

Don’t get me wrong: this self-control thing is stinky hard and IT. TAKES. WORK. Seriously – it takes WORK. It’s HARD not to follow my pride. It’s HARD to respond to mean people with love. It’s HARD to respond to irrational situations with patience. It’s hard to be vulnerable and be childlike in His presence.

But GOD… peeps, I tell you with all my heart: when I have the wherewithal and control to forgo the tantrum (and all the nastiness that comes with it) and instead call on Him for help, HE SHOWS UP.

He HEARS, He RESPONDS, He gives me strength and endurance and peace that, seriously, blows my mind. (And, if you know me personally and know my history, self-control is not in my blood.) When I look for Him in the ‘no’ or ‘not yet’, He, without fail, distracts me from the bitterness and anger that threatens to take over when I don’t get my way… and, yes, I’m kept off the ground clutching my hands to my chest as I cry bitterly.

Just as our goal as parents is to raise kids that can stand tall and face this harsh world – how much more does our Father want to mold us into bright, glorious, gracious people for His kingdom. If you’re hearing ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ today, think on these things. Seek Him. Ask Him. TRUST HIM. He’s never failed me – ever.

Thanks for being here… thanks for reading.

(Next time: a few things I learned in the dark while buying our house. I hope you’ll subscribe and stick around!)

 

 

Mamas On the Narrow Road

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“Self-control” seems to be the topic of the day around our house.

I’m constantly telling my kids: control your urge to talk back… control your urge to be selfish…control your urge to focus on what you don’t have, and instead focus on what you do have.

All the same while the words come out of my mouth to my kids, the same words come out of my Father’s mouth to me: Elisha, control your urge to fight back… control your urge to be impatient… control your urge to be fearful, to be offended, to be defeated.

I tell my kids, and my Father tells me: Control… control… control.

Self-control is a very rebellious quality these days, isn’t it? I mean, who needs self-control when our bad choices are labeled as ‘diseases’ or ‘addictions’ – and, if we have a ‘disease’ or an ‘addiction’, we, therefore, have no fault. And, if we really have no fault, our choices don’t really matter. And, if our choices don’t really matter, why should we care about self-control at all?

But I have no desire to raise children who are always looking for the ‘out’, or who don’t understand the power of choice. I want to raise kids the way my Father is raising me: with a spirit of love, and power and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7); to understand that every choice has a consequence; and, that pain comes from bad choices, and goodness comes from good choices.

Because the Truth of life is this: we can travel on the wide road, or the narrow road.

The wide road is easy to find – and it’s where we find lots of people to journey with. Everything is okay on the wide road… and, as one of my favorite songs says, “the crowd is quick to push [us] along”. The problem with the wide road, however, is that it leads to heartache. Why? Because the wide road doesn’t require anything from us! It requires no self-control, no discipline; there is no thoughtfulness, wisdom, or moral compass. We do what we want, how we want, according to our own ideas – and that means there is no ‘right’, there is no ‘wrong’, there is no ‘truth’, there is no ‘lie’.  It’s all about us and no one else on the wide road… and no one really knows where they’re going or the ‘right’ way to go because there is no ‘there’ to get to. (I know because I stumbled down this road for far to many years of my life…)

The narrow road, on the other hand, is hard to get to and even harder to navigate successfully. It requires everything from us. It requires we think before we step; it requires we be fully awake, alert, and prepared. It is vigorous, and it requires total dedication and attention. On the narrow road we must pay attention to the One in front of us calling us to follow, but be especially mindful of those that are behind us because they depend on our example to show them the way.  The narrow road requires we sweat, and work, and have a plan; it requires we endure, and persevere, and have a sober mind. Most importantly, the narrow road requires we have our mind set on our final destination because it is knowing where we’re going (and the joy we anticipate once we arrive) that makes the difficult journey worth the effort.

So, let’s all be rebels today, shall we? Let’s rebel from the wide road and CHOOSE to be mamas on a narrow road… mamas that are loving, and powerful, and who gloriously display our super-power of self-control in the midst of a culture (and our own human tendencies) that tells us to be otherwise. And, most importanly, let’s grasp JOY in our journey, in spite of how tough it can be (and, yes! God knows it can be tough), knowing there are little feet behind us traveling our same path and depending on us to lead them to L I F E.

 

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.

Raise and Release, Part 2

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At the beginning of last school year, my 12 year old baby girl went off to outdoor school… and I thought I was going to break. Why? Because this ‘raise and release‘ thing we  do is emotionally overwhelming.

We raise them – teach them, comfort them, coach them, guide them, nag them, feed them, remind them, stand beside them, stand over them, love them, tuck them in, and wake them up. We pour all that we are into these little ones and then, before we know it, we are standing with them at the tip of a branch surveying the field of life and, even though we want to snuggle them close sheltered from the heartache, and fear, and discomfort, and mistakes that come with walking boldly through life, there is nothing more we can do but stand behind and watch as they fly.

Because that’s life, right? Every season of life brings new ‘work’ – a new flight into new territory… a little longer, a little farther. The work of facing fears – of taking chances, overcoming obstacles, of letting go of mama’s hand and grabbing for His instead. And, without the work, we stay stagnant, wimpy, and unusable for the greatness God calls us to.

So today, in spite of the pit in my stomach and my own deep seated fears of letting go, I did it to my girl again.The branch was a little higher, the view was a little vaster, but the process was the same: I signed her up for an adventure, walked her to the edge, stood behind her with our breaths almost as one, and I said, “Okay, girl, you can do this: fly”.

She was hesitant to jump and test the strength of her wings. We stood for some time in the church parking lot and quietly watched other campers arrive and mull around. I could tell she was nervous; she didn’t know anyone and felt totally out-of-place. The one person she recognized we approached and said hello to, but the girl and her mom quickly turned to other friends and left us to fend for ourselves in the sea of giggling girls and mamas.

(It’s hard not to feel rejected, whether you’re 12 or you’re 40. We all want to be loved. We want to be brought in to the laughs and the conversations. We want to be noticed, acknowledged, desired. We want to feel special – all of us do. And yet, there I was with my girl: face to face with real life. The lot was packed with moms and kids – yet, she and I were an island. No one spoke to us. No one noticed us. Moms and kids grouped up – hugging and chatting and laughing. My girl and I? Totally alone.)

As tears welled up in her eyes over the fear of four days away and not a friend in site, I felt her pain. I remember being 12 – awkward, unsure, out-of-place. (When I signed her up I thought for sure she’d know a girl or two, but with a church our size, I’m guess I’m not surprised she didn’t.) I cut the ice with some mama-talk: “Honey, I know exactly what you’re feeling. Here I am 40 years old and I feel a little anxiety in my stomach over not having a friend in site. But you know what? This is the kind of thing that makes us stronger! This is the type of situation God uses to pull us out of our comfort zone and grow us – and new friends are often part of that journey. I know God has something so great in store for you this weekend – and I know He has a perfect friend for you, too. You’ll see.”

“Mom, stop,” she muttered through clenched teeth as she leaned in closer to my side for protection.

All of a sudden I heard His still, small voice say: This is where the rubber meets the road, Elisha. This is where your girl needs to see how to fly by YOU flying first.

The whisper of encouragement made me stand a little taller and I decided to take command of the situation.

“Okay, let’s look for someone else who is alone and we’ll go make friends with them.”

“Mom, no.”

“Seriously, honey, look around. Who looks like they could use a friend?”

Seconds passed. Minutes passed. Not a word. Finally, I heard a peep:  “Fine, mom – how about her.”

I looked in the direction she was looking and about 10 feet from us I spotted fellow wanderers:  a darling girl and two ladies looking just as lost as we felt.  I put my arm around Selah and whispered under my breath, “Okay – don’t be so obvious, but let’s work our way over there.”

We walked towards the small group and around the backside of one of the ladies and still for about thirty seconds. (It would have embarrassed my girl way too much if I would have just walked to them looking desperate. So, I had to be cool – I had to be smooooooth.)

When I sensed a break in their conversation, I went to work.

I put my palm on the arm of the gal closest to me and she turned around. “Hi – I’m Elisha. Do you all go to church her or are you just here for the camp?” Selah was about 3 feet from me, body language screaming discomfort.

“Oh hi,” the sweet mama said. “Yes, we do attend here.”

We chatted for just a couple of minutes about the services we attend, etc, etc, and then I said, “Yeah, we were nervous when we showed up because we didn’t recognize anyone and everyone seemed paired up.”

“We thought the same thing, too,” the mama said with a lighthearted laugh.

“Well, this is my girl, Selah.”

“And this is my girl, Natalie.”

Selah and Natalie looked at each other, said little girl hellos, and I could feel it: in that instant fear has lost the fight for my baby girl’s wings. (Praise God!)

We continued to talk as the campers were rounded up. It turned out Natalie had forgotten a camp chair just like Selah, so the two girls were summoned to collect one from the church office. Off they went, chatting, smiling. Friends. They were instant friends.

Before we knew it the bus was being loaded and off  the two little birds went. Side by side on the bus, and mine totally embarrassed I was trying to take pictures through the window. But you know what? She was flying! She watched me fly before and then, with confidence, she jumped off, too… and how could I not try to snap a picture of her courage?!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for opportunities like today – opportunities that let my girl test her wings where it is safe, and where You are present. I pray your protection over her and all the campers this week. May Selah and her new friend enjoy each other’s company and may they come back stronger than they left us. Finally Lord, may we mamas never forget that our girls learn more by our example than our words, and may we – Your daughters – be women that exude kindness, gentleness, goodness, and love. Should by chance we ever feel insecure, or overlooked, or rejected, which I know You understand is common for us mamas sometimes, may we be reminded You call us by name – You call us Your Beloved; and, may we stand tall and shine brightly as your Love so the women you’ve entrusted us to raise stand tall and shine brightly as well. Thank you for loving us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

“Skinny” and Other Dirty Words

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“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.

1 Corinthians 10:23

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Our family has a list of ‘no-no’ words we don’t throw around lightly:

  • Hate.
  • Stupid.
  • Butt.
  • Fart.

I can’t stand them. They are ‘dirty words’ around here – and, I always tell my kids: you are way to smart and classy to need to use these cheap words to communicate an idea.

A couple other ‘dirty words’ in our house are “skinny” and “exercise”.

Skinny is a burdensome word. It’s shallow, and base, and empty. It drives me crazy to see commercials about ‘being skinny’ or ‘getting skinny’; I just about come out of my skin when I read blogs that focus on how to get a ‘hot, skinny bod’ or where women flash photos of their ‘skinny’ selves as the ‘standard’ that all of us other women need to strive for.

Skinny means nothing, okay? Nothing at all. Skinny does not mean healthy, happy, or confident. Skinny does not mean fit. Skinny does not mean ‘good mommy’, ‘hot woman’, or ‘successful lady’. No – skinny just means ‘skinny’… and I’ve seen my share of ‘skinny’ that looks frail, and weak, and gray.

What the real goal should be – and what I tell my girls all the time – is: forget skinny, focus on healthy!

  • Focus on how you eat and what you eat: Are you eating whole foods? Fruits? Fresh vegetables? Drinking lots of water?
  • Be aware of your body: Is it strong? Is it energized? Can you make it do what you want it to do, and can you wear what you want to wear? Is it sickly? Is it tired? Does your body burden you, or do feel like you have control? How do you feel after you eat certain things and/or certain portion sizes?
  • Watch your cravings: Are you in control, or do you eat mindlessly? Can you say no when you want to?

…Because the fact of the matter is this: our bodies are a reflection of our lifestyle. If we focus on a healthy lifestyle, obtaining a lean, fit body won’t be a burden and obsession – it will be a natural consequence.

The other dirty word is ‘exercise’. It’s loaded, and crushing, and heavy, and exhausts us before we even begin the day… and you will never hear me tell my kids to exercise.

I can just hear you now: What, Elisha? You don’t tell your kids to exercise?

No. Never. And I am directly opposed to all the ‘get up and move’ campaigns that are everywhere these days. Why?

Because I don’t want to raise kids that think they can out-exercise a bad food foundation. Period.

Every day in my house is a new day to impress upon my children if we eat out of boxes, wrappers, and fast food windows; if we eat mindlessly and indulge whenever we feel the urge; if we don’t understand how food impacts us physically; if we don’t cook and instead depend on corporations to nourish us – ‘exercise’ won’t do a thing for health.

What I also tell them is they should pay attention to the body they’ve been blessed with, and honor it. We must think – and choose. We must honor our body by using our body –  by making it stronger, feeding it well, resting it when it needs rest, pushing it’s limits, and listening to it when it gives signs like sickness, weight gain, and weakness. I encourage them not to ‘exercise’, but to do what they’ve been created with an ability to do: play, run, jump, kick, skateboard, dribble; stretch; move; take a walk; breathe fresh air.

And, on the flip side, I teach them what is not honoring…

  • It’s not honoring to our bodies to sit around all day playing technology…
  • It’s not honoring to our bodies to be lazy…
  • It’s not honoring to our bodies to make food choices that burden us with extra weight, and make us sick and tired…
  • It’s not honoring to our bodies to be mindless with our health, our physical being, our existence.

See, I don’t want my kids to grow up with ‘skinny’ as a goal, or ‘exercise’ as a burden, or victims of their physical bodies, or fearful of food. I DO want my kids to grow up understanding that a healthy, fit body is a free body – and a healthy, fit body naturally flows from choosing the right foods and choosing to honor the bodies they were uniquely created with.

My heart is for my kids to take joy in owning, using, and moving their bodies – and, yes, that may mean they find joy in weight training, or running, or zumba – all those things we term as ‘exercise’ these days. But, again, they will do it by choice and from a desire to push their physical limits – not out of blind allegiance to the buzz word of our time. I want my kids to grow up – particularly my girls – with confidence that, even during seasons where their bodies will change (through age, pregnancy, life), self-control is always theirs… always.

I’m raising my kids to see that truly healthy children – and truly healthy adults! – are healthy and fit in mind first They:

…intrinsically value themselves, and make choices that show it.

…understand how to be in the world without being overcome by the world.

…are honest with themselves and know their choices directly impact their overall well being.

…recognize they are strong.

…recognize they are powerful.

…recognize they are in control of what they become.

And, they, with wide eyes, see the mountain of life in front of them and can’t help but rise to the challenge, wield their body as a perfectly hewn tool, and climb.

Children of the Rebel Grain

As you all know, my ‘big girl’ turned 12 recently. The ’12 years old’ of today is not the 12 I experienced. She is growing up in a culture of narcissism and instant gratification; a culture that is sick physically, as much as it is emotionally.

The fight for what is good and right and pure is a tough one.

I bring this up because, as much as I want her to eat intentionally, I want her to live intentionally. Just as I am training her to make the right choices for her physical body, I am training her to make the right choices for her spirit:

I want her to choose kindness.

I want her to choose humilty.

I want her to choose modesty.

I want her to respect authority, always recognize she has something to learn, and understand she was put on this earth for one purpose alone: to bring glory to her Creator through all that she is…. whatever she may choose that to be.

Be careful little eyes what you see…
Be careful little ears what you hear…
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands what you do…
Be careful little heart whom you trust…
Be careful little feet where you go…

I’m not naive. I know I will not always be with her when she’s at the food buffet with plate in her hand – just like I will not always be with her when she’s presented with life’s buffet of choices and temptations.

God will be with her, though. And, if I can train my girl up to keep her eyes on Him, then she’ll be able to rebel on through life with the supernatural humility and grace that we are hard pressed to find in today’s culture.

See, I don’t want my girl – or any of my kids! – to just blend into the sea of humanity. Not physically, not spiritually, not emotionally. I want them to stand out… to shine… to be set apart. I want them be bold – I want them to fight for good, for truth, for purity. I want them to be rebels that live against the grain of this world.

In the world, not of the world.

The Rebel Grain.

Rebel on,
e-

 

 

The Scale Is Not Your Friend

Yesterday my 11 year old daughter said, “Mom, we need a scale”.

“A scale,” I asked?

“Yeah – so and so has a scale and when I weighed myself I weighed more than I thought I would. I want a scale so I can keep track of what I weigh.”

“Honey,” I said, “what has you worried about how much you weigh? Do you feel good and strong?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Can you do what you want to with your body without struggle?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Then that’s all that matters. Having the scale’s opinion doesn’t help you feel better or perform stronger – it just gives you a number that means nothing for who you are.”

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We don’t own a scale – and, although we have constant conversations about fitness, we don’t talk about weight in our home.

Weight doesn’t matter to me because it’s just one small piece of the puzzle. What does matter to me is that my kids understand their bodies are a reflection of what they are putting in.  I always tell them that our body gives us physical cues on whether or not we are making the right choices: if our bodies are saying something to us (like with clothes that are fitting to snug, or with sickness, or with fatigue and lack of strength), that’s when we know we aren’t doing something right.

Does the scale help us feel better? No. As I told my girl, the scale does nothing but give us a number that fits (or doesn’t fit) someone else’s arbitrary weight grid. The number doesn’t measure the quality of food we are intaking, how much muscle we have, or whether or not we are comfortable in our skin.

And that’s one of my foundational goals: to raise children that are 100% comfortable in their skin.

I want my children to love good food, love who they were created to be, and are empowered with the understanding their bodies are speaking to them every day. 

It’s not fat grams and calories we have to count, and/or the number on the scale we have to pay attention to… it’s simply making sure that we are in control of our bodies – and that our body isn’t in control of us.

 

Do It Right… Or Don’t Do It.

So my daughter just started gymnastics a few weeks ago, and, to my horror, this is what is sitting in the lobby of the gymnasium:

Really?

If I take my kids to fast food, or the theater, or an amusement park, I expect junk. Those are places we go for entertainment – and, hence, there are ‘treats’ .  But the gymnasium that is training athletes? The gymnasium where young children spend hours upon hours every week being trained to use their bodies? Is this where this crap should be available?

Gyms should either do it right, or don’t do it at all.

Either open a small snack bar and offer real endurance foods that support the mission of health (fruits, veggies, nuts, smoothies, peanut butter sandwiches), or don’t offer anything at all.

Just a thought.

Training Eaters

When I talk about quinoa, or SmartyBars, or meals that I cook at home I am often asked, “…and your kids eat like this?”

My short answer is ‘yes’. But, what I am always sure to help them understand is this: I’ve trained them to eat ‘this way’.

The dictionary defines training as, “bringing a person to an agreed standard of proficiency by practice and instruction; activity leading to skilled behavior.’ Yes, my goal is to get my kids to eat well, but my larger goal is this: equipping my children with the skills they’ll need make healthy choices when they leave my home someday (or when they’re at a birthday party, or a friend’s house, etc.).

With this in mind, it is a day in, day out exercise in healthy choices that has made my children lovers of vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, nuts, fish. I buy what I want them to eat; I cook most of what they take in so that I can control the salt and the sugar content (so that they know what the real taste of food is); and, most importantly, I don’t offer any other options when it’s meal time. It’s been this way since before they could feed themselves.

Training, by nature, takes time. It takes dedication, commitment, and a understanding your goal. Look at Walmart, for example. Last year Walmart announced that it was working on a 5 year plan to reduce sodium and added sugars in it’s packaged foods. Why so long? Because it takes people time to get used to new tastes; taste palates need to be retrained. The same thing applies in our families.

Every taste of food we offer our children (especially those that predominate our diets) plays into their training. (This is where SmartyBars came from, actually: a desire to control the taste palate of my little guy so that he wasn’t ‘trained’ to need the added sweeteners and flavors.) Additionally, let’s not forget how what we – their trainers – eat also plays a huge role. When it gets right down to it, our children aren’t just listening – they are watching. They are watching what we eat, how we eat, when we eat… and all of that plays right into the eaters we are training them to be.

Thanks for being here.

Rebel on, -e.

 

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