Monday, January 16, 2017

The Value of Meal Prep

Last month was crazy and I took several shortcuts with my nutrition.  I realized where it all fell apart.  I failed to plan out my meals for the week and "played it by ear."  This meant I was either eating nothing and starving or I was eating stuff I shouldn't eat...or too much of it.

When the moment of truth came and I got on the scale after New Year's, I knew what had gone wrong.  It wasn't just the overeating at the holidays, it was a cumulation of poor choices and a lack of planning.

I made conscious choice / effort to go back to basics.  Nutrition 101:  Eat smart.  Count all of my calories and macros.  Have healthy choices for food on hand.  Make sure I eat when I'm hungry.  Cut out all the crap.

In one week I lost 5 lbs.  Week two, I've seen zero movement on the scale, but I'm okay with that because I know my nutrition has been spot on and I've been killing it at the gym.
Go Patriots!
I think I'm going to make a better effort to drink more water.  I always neglect that and I feel the difference when I drink enough water.  (The first week of January, I had the flu, so I was drinking lots of liquids.)
Took a trip to Worcester yesterday because my son is sick.  I figure he probably got it from me, so I brought him what I needed to survive when I was sick.
So, what is all the talk about meal prep?

Meal prep helps you to plan out your food for the week with controlled portions.  It means getting up in the morning and having everything that you need all ready.

The trouble with meal prep for me is that typically you eat the same foods every day for the week.  And that can grow really old, really fast.

I fell in love with egg whites last summer when I tried a new nutritional program.  I saw how much protein is in the whites, without the fat and calories.  So I started making scrambled eggs or frittatas (omelets) with one egg and 1/2 cup egg whites.  Add some vegetables and BAM! there's breakfast, or lunch, or even dinner with lots of protein, very little fat and super easy to make.

Right before New Year's I bought broccoli florets at Costco.  A giant bag for like $5.  How can you go wrong?  Steamed broccoli, raw broccoli, roasted broccoli for days.

Yeah, so about that.

For the first two weeks in January, when doing meal prep, I made egg frittatas for breakfast (with steamed broccoli florets).
Every day.  Steamed. Broccoli.
Pretty much this was breakfast every day, but broccoli instead and no cheese.  
And in my lunch?  Chopped broccoli.

And for dinner?  At least twice we had roasted broccoli.

On Thursday, I couldn't take it anymore.  Instead, I ate cereal and brought chili for lunch.

Friday I fed the frittata to the dog. 

I don't think I can ever eat broccoli again.

So, I realize that meal PLANNING is more beneficial for me than meal prep.  I have typically prepped my meals for the next day the night before.  But I was taking shortcuts in December and that wasn't working for me.  So, it's back to basics.

This weekend, I made a pot of vegetable soup.  As long as I don't have that all the time, I really like this.  It's super easy to make.  Add some protein and it's a complete meal.
I add a couple TBSP grated Parmesan cheese.  Delicious!
Saute some onions, garlic and chopped carrots with just a little cooking spray.  
When the onions because translucent or start to brown, add 32 oz. chicken stock.  
While that is cooking, chop up some cabbage, or kale, if you prefer.  
Chop up some green beans, or add a box of frozen cut green beans.  
Cook until the cabbage is tender. 
Then add some zucchini, cut into small bite-sized pieces.  
Add more chicken stock (as much as you need, depending on how many vegetables you are cooking), salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I don't have to work today.
This quote is not one of his more well known quotes, but it still rings true.
Knowing I have to change things up, but at the same time, I need to be prepared for my week, I took advantage of the morning and went to town.

Meal Prep for days...
I started with breakfast...
My cousin Jamie get me into these.  Super healthy AND taste good too!
Had some for breakfast with sugar free syrup.
Then I made these Kodiak cake carrot breads.  So yummy!
Then lunch...
Tomorrow I'll have this tuna wrap.  (I can only handle tuna one day at a time.)
Remove the lettuce and it's no longer salad.  I can eat tomatoes and cucumbers like they are going out of style.  (I do need some more containers though.)  
I mix 1/2 cup of the low fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup cottage cheese with chives.  210 calories, 5.5 g fat and 28 g protein.  Add veggies and viola!  I'll probably eat this 1-2 days this week.
Dinner in the crockpot... (This is today's dinner and probably lunch for 1-2 days this week.)
1 lb. ground turkey, browned with 2 small yellow onions
3 large carrots. peeled and chopped
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (or chopped)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth (low fat/sodium)
chopped garlic
1 1/2 C lentils (dry)
Seasonings:  salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and curry to taste
Cook in the crockpot until carrots are soft and lentils are fully cooked.
Don't forget the snacks...
I pre-measure the granola into 1/2 serving sizes.  It's perfect for my Greek yogurt.
Now that I'm done, I'm ready for the rest of my day.  I'm thinking about taking the dog for a walk.  I'll hit the gym after I bring my son to work. 
Day off = pajama day
Pajama days make me happy!
(What IS that thing on my chin?)
If I take her for a walk, I have to disturb her...
Why I do Meal Prep:

1.  I eat the right foods and can control my portions.
2.  I don't have to stress about what to eat from one meal to the next.
3.  I don't go hungry.  When I am hungry, I have healthy snack options to eat.
4.  If I'm not stressed, I can enjoy the week.

How I do it:

I make a mental list on Saturday night or Sunday of what I want to eat.  Then I go shopping for the ingredients I need for my meals.  I make sure I have plenty of produce on hand.  I'll make a pot of soup or chili and set it aside for the week.  I package up snacks.   It works better for me to make my breakfast / lunches the night before.  That's why I have some variety this week, so I don't repeat what happened with the broccoli.

It is worth the time and effort.  More importantly, my body shows the results.  It's a habit that promotes healthy living.  I can't afford shortcuts.

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
Food prep?  Meal Planning?  Meal Prep?  Yes or no?  What does it look like for you?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?
No Time to Stretch!
Do you believe?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Do you believe?

Discouragement is so easy to enter into our belief system when we are just getting started.
Last week it might have sounded like this:

I got on the scale and I weigh 216 lbs.  
That's awful.  
I'm awful.  
I'm so ashamed.

For a week, you tried to do what you could.  You ate smart.  Tried to get to the gym.  Drank a lot of water.  Darn it, you were hungry!  This week, you weigh-in and...

I weigh 214.8 lbs.   MAYBE you even gained a pound or two....
I only lost 1.2 lbs.   (I can't believe I gained two pounds?!?!)
That's awful.
I tried so hard.
I hate this.
I don't even know what I'm doing.
I don't think I can do this.
I'm so ashamed.

You start to doubt what you're doing.  Your life is busy.  You are tired.  This whole process is discouraging.

Let me STOP you RIGHT NOW!

If you have more than 50 lbs. to lose, you cannot expect to see rapid results immediately.  You just can't live in that fantasy world and allow doubt, shame and self-condemnation to rule your mindset.

No matter what!!!
If you gave it an honest try last week and you gained one or two pounds, DO NOT STRESS about that!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Ask yourself a couple of questions...
What time of day did you weigh yourself?  Was it the same time of day as last time?
What clothes were you wearing last time?  Was it different?
What did you eat/drink before you weighed-in?
When was the last time you pooped?  Ummm, yeah, what goes in, must come out and it does make a difference on the scale.

If everything is more or less equal from one week to the next, just consider it a fluctuation in the scale.  Don't worry about it.  Have a good day today and get on the scale tomorrow to see if there's any difference.  When I weigh myself, I do it first thing in the morning with no clothes on at all. (Essentially I am dehydrated and have an empty stomach and am the lightest I'll be for the day.)  This morning I got on the scale and I weighed 153.9.  I was super excited because I was 158 last week.  This afternoon, I got on the scale to show someone that it is accurate and it does work and I weighed 155.5.  That's with my clothes on and after I'd had food and beverage throughout the day.  Your weight fluctuates.
Someone asked me how I can lose four pounds in one week.  I said, "Eh, it's the scale."  Yes, I worked hard this week.  I did.  My nutrition was on point and my workouts have been 100%.  But still, 4 lbs. is quite a bit in one week.  But who knows!  Next week I could be up a pound.  I don't stress out.  I know I am working hard to be the best I an be.  With that, I am satisfied.
What you want to look for is weight loss over time.  One to two pounds per week is healthy.  Sometimes you may see a five pound drop in one week, followed by little to no change the week after.  It's just the way our bodies are made.  Get over it and stop with the crazy self talk.

Now, let's go back to the root of the negativity.

When I was obese, I really hated how I looked.  I was so self-conscious that I wouldn't let my picture be taken, especially not alone.  At my heaviest, I was tired all the time.  It was all I could do to just get through the day.  I worked hard at my job, but I didn't work out and I either starved myself or ate junk.  My self-image was in the hole.  When I started this journey, there was something different about where I was then, as compared to previous attempts to lose the weight.

The difference was that I was tired of feeling bad.  I was tired of having no joy.  I wanted to have my picture taken.  I wanted to look and feel happy.  I knew that no matter what it took, I was NOT going to give up.  There was NO way.  When I felt like quitting, which I did time and time again, I refused to quit.

I had a mantra I remember telling myself, "Tracey, you can do this.  You must believe in yourself.  You have to make this work."

Health and fitness is not a straight path.  Even once you think you've "arrived", there are detours (injuries, illness, grief, loss, changes in life) that affect your journey.  I continually reassess where I am, where I am going and what I want from this journey.

Here is the basic truth I hold onto:

I need to be healthy in order to be a better person for my family, friends and to do my job better. This means physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness.

In order for me to be healthy, I must find time to take care of myself. 
I really like how I feel when I work out.  I enjoy riding my bike, hiking, and working out.  These things make me happy.  
If I am happy, I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend and counselor.

So much of this journey is mindset.  Be cognizant of that.  Instead of feeling down about where you are today, turn this beginning into empowerment.
Tell yourself:
I am going to make this work!
I am so much  stronger than I even think I am.
No matter what, I am NOT giving up!

Feel the energy of this mantra.  Connect with it at an emotional level.
When you are feeling badly, remember the mantra.  Stick to what you started.

Beautiful by Christina Alguilera
You are beautiful!

Today is the beginning.  You are just getting started.
Life is an amazing blessing.  Make the most of it each day.  You are worth it!

Questions for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
How are you feeling about your goals for this year?  Do you believe you can achieve them?  What steps are you taking to make them happen?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?
No Time to Stretch!

Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

No Time to Stretch!

So, how are you?  Have you escaped the season so far with no cold?  I've had an awful one for a month now.  Trying to keep my smile on, but I feel yucky...
Can you see how red my nose is?  I look almost as bad as I feel.
Enough about that...back to the blog.  Do you exercise?  If so, how often do you stretch before / after you work out?  Most people I ask say, "No way, I don't have time for that!"  During my three year journey, I have learned so much about health and wellness.  One of the MOST important things is the importance of focusing on flexibility and mobility as part of my training.

If you are a regular subscriber to my blog, you may remember that two years ago I was in pain with my knee 24 hours / day, 7 days / week.  My hips?  They used to throb, especially if I was on my feet too much.  I could see the writing on the wall.  I would need not only a knee replacement, but a double hip replacement as well.

Under the direction of a new personal trainer, I began a regimen focused on strength training, with mobility / flexibility exercises built into my routine.  The combination of both made ALL the difference for me.  I was scheduled for surgery at the end of January, but in less than one month of this shift in my training, the surgery was cancelled.  My knee is now pain free.  And my hips?  The only time they ache is if I neglect the flexibility work.

Yes, I do still get a little achey here and there.  But pain in either?  Not at all.

Some stretches I learned from my trainer and others I learned from taking yoga classes.  Because of the pain with my hips and knee, most of them focus on the lower body.  The pain in my shoulder haunted me for the latter part of 2017.  A lot of my recovery has been focused on combinations of stretching, strengthening and rest.  Here is a great video demonstrating three different shoulder stretches.  Check it out:

The Best Yoga Moves to Improve Shoulder Flexibility by Dirty Yoga

The bottom line for most people starting out their fitness regimen is this:  TIME.  "I don't have the time to stretch."  "Really?  Why bother?"  "It's not that serious."  I get it.  I do.  But, unfortunately, as we age, our ligaments, muscles and joints age with us.  Continued use of these results in aches and pains that make life more challenging.  The best way to avoid this is to stay healthy through a combination of good nutrition, strengthening and endurance exercises.  Again, "Why bother?"  Mobility and flexibility work should be a regular part of your fitness routine.  It is critical for avoiding injury, helping with recovery, and keeping your overall fitness level optimal. 
Using the treadmill/elliptical?  Stretch.  Lifting weights?  Stretch.  Doing core work?  Stretch.  Have an achey joint? Leg? Back?  Stretch.

There is some discussion about when the best time is to stretch.  Personally, I don't like to stretch cold muscles.  Typically I warm up for a few minutes and then stretch before working out.  But sometimes I work out and then spend several minutes focusing on flexibility across all muscle groups.  There probably is some science as to when to do it.  Do be cautious about stretching cold muscles, but make sure to make flexibility and mobility a regular part of your workout routine.

I also use a foam roller to help with flexibility/mobility and muscle soreness.  The foam roller is amazing.  I'll talk about that some more in another post.

I love this stretch.  It opens my hips up so they are not tight.

Questions for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you stretch?  Before, during or after a workout?  How much time do you spend stretching?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Three Years, Really?

This is me in 2012:
I'm not sure exactly how much I weighed then, but I was fat...probably 200-215 lbs. or so.  I was on Weight Watchers at the time and had lost about 20 lbs. by this point.  But...

This is me today:  January 2, 2017.  I weigh 158 lbs., up 9 lbs. since Thanksgiving, so time to get back in the game 100%.

Three years ago I started this journey.  I did not know what I was doing, but I knew I had to do something.  It took me close to 18 months to lose the weight.  At my lowest weight, I was 143 lbs.

People who didn't know me when I was fat do not recognize pictures of me then.  When I tell them that I used to be fat, they ask me, "How did you do it?"

There's a lot more to it than this, but it's simple:

1)  Eat healthy.  Eat more than you think you should, but make sure you eat the right foods.

2)  Exercise:  lifting weights and cardio - mostly in the form of interval training.  Then I got my bike and that became my cardio.  Sixty minutes of exercise.  Every day.  If I can't do 60 minutes, I get in at least 30 minutes of cardio.

That's it.  

More important than "how?" is, "What did you learn?"

There are no gimmicks.  There are no tricks up the sleeve.  There are no fast shortcuts, fantastic weight loss pills, or magical exercise machines that do the work in no time.

Plain and simple, the most important thing I learned is to STICK with it.  NEVER give up.  If what you're doing isn't working:  try something different.  Adjust your calories and macros.  Do a different routine when you workout.  But NEVER give up.

2016 was a year of ups and downs for me.  Personally and professionally, there were a lot of ups.  I finally finished my degree (picture coming).

My son graduated from high school.  

My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
I ran my first 5K race.
I did the Ride to Remember again.
Just to name a few....

I also had some downs.

I lost a friend.
The loss truly broke my heart.  
I injured my shoulder.
I used to be able to max out at about 40 push-ups at one try.  Now, 10 are extremely difficult and I pay (with pain) for it afterwards.

I had vein ablation surgery on my right leg, developed post-operative complications from the surgery.  Then had to go back in to remove the varicose veins in my right leg because my leg was not healing properly from the ablation procedure.  (No nasty pictures of this.)

The shoulder injury set me back a LOT.  Someone at the gym even asked me, "What happened to you?  You got skinny!"  Meaning ... I lost my muscles.  
I don't look this bad ass anymore.
I remember what happened in 2012 when I was on Weight Watchers.  I was doing really well until I injured my knee.  The pain was excruciating.  I couldn't walk.  I ended up gaining all the weight I had lost back and another 20 lbs. on top.   I gave up.  With my shoulder injury, I have had to scale back my training.  But I will not give up!!!

This year promises a lot of training challenges.  I am seriously considering doing the Holyoke Road Race, which is a 10K race around St. Patrick's Day.  It's a HUGE deal around here.  And the route is tough.  Very hilly.  I'm not sure if I'm even ready to train for that.  In May I am running a 5 mile race, the Run to Remember.   I am doing a 60 mile bike ride, the Tour de Cure in Rhode Island.  I am doing the Tough Mudder in Vermont.  And I will do the Ride to Remember again this year.

I will be pursuing a job as an assistant principal for the coming school year.  Hopefully that will pan out for me.  Fingers crossed.

I look back on where I was three years ago.  Yet another attempt to lose weight.  I blew it in 2012.  But something was different in 2014.  I refused to give up.   Today, at the beginning of another New Year, I am excited about the challenges in front of me.  Because of the pain I have in my shoulder, I may never be able to do the things I used to do again.  But I will not be defeated.
Here's to FANTASTIC 2017!

Question for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you have New Year's resolution for 2017?  What is it?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
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Worthwhile or Gimmick?

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Worthwhile or Gimmick?

As 2017 is upon us, a lot of people are seriously considering losing weight, eating healthier or getting shape as a "New Year / New Me Resolution" of sorts.  It seems a good time to do it too.  The holidays are over, so excuses for eating everything in sight are gone.  New Years = New Beginnings.  I know a lot people don't even bother because resolutions are so likely to fail.

If you are thinking about making a fitness/weight loss related change...whether it's for the New Year, or maybe just because you need to do something, I want to send out a few cautions for you to consider.  Ask yourself these questions:

1.  Are you hoping to lose weight because you want to be thin or because you want to be healthy?  (Or both?)

There are a lot of weight loss programs that promise quick results.  Be very cautious of these.  When you first start a weight loss regimen, chances are you can lose 5-10 lbs. quickly, regardless of the program.  Drink lots of water, throw your metabolism a change to diet and the scale will move.

Think about the long term health benefits to your program.  If you can't learn how to eat normally on this program, you may lose weight up front, but once you start to "eat" again, you will gain the weight back.

A reasonable weight loss plan is one that promotes approximately 1-2 lbs. per week.  More than that results in loss of muscle mass, not fat.  You need muscle to boost your metabolism.

2.  Does it prohibit entire food groups?

Food is not bad.  Sugar is enemy #1 if you are trying to lose weight.  Since it occurs naturally in most foods, you can't really ban it, but you can limit it.  Limiting your intake of simple carbohydrates (avoiding cookies and sweets) is wise.  But life is life, prohibiting these entirely will make it more difficult to get back on program after a lapse.

You should not make entire food groups off limits.  This is not smart.  If you are trying to lose weight, you must balance each food group.  You have to make sure you eat enough fiber, protein and healthy fats.  Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

Whatever nutrition plan you choose, it should be one in which you are continually learning.

3. Are you eating real food?  

I know several people who have gone on a cleanse and eaten nothing but smoothies, gradually adding solid foods into their diet.  They have lost a lot of weight.  But they have not kept it off.

A protein shake a few times per week is not a bad thing.  But the majority of your meals should be ones in which to sink your teeth.

4.  Do you have to take lots of supplements?   

Everyone should take a daily vitamin.  Any additional supplements you take, you should research and decide what the health benefits are and if they are necessary.  If your nutritional plan requires you purchase their special products or invest hundreds of dollars in special dietary supplements, don't do it.

Do you hear me?  Don't do it!!!!

The only supplements I take are as follows:
Daily vitamin (I prefer the gummy chews)
Fish oil (there are lots of benefits for this!)
Whey Protein
BCAAs (for muscle recovery)

5.  Does your plan encourage you to make healthy choices?

This pretty much is the bottom line.  The process requires learning.   It's not about eliminating food groups, but which foods work best for you...even at what times of the day!

For example, I have learned:
  • I can eat a multigrain bagel after 11 a.m., but if I eat one in the morning, I'm done for the entire day.  All I want to do is eat all day.  It's like a calorie bomb.  
  • If I buy ice cream, I know I'm putting my diet at risk because one cup of ice cream is NOT ENOUGH!  I have no self-control with ice cream.
  • I have to eat breakfast or I am sick all day.
  • Chicken is life.  Grilled chicken.  Chicken salad.  Chicken thighs in the crockpot with cabbage and brown rice.  Chicken with tomato sauce and spaghetti squash.  CHICKEN...

I recommend using an app to track your calories and macros.  "Macros" is short for "macronutrients," which include carbohydrates, fats and protein.  I use MyFitnessPal and track my food every day.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  When I don't track or am negligent in remembering to track everything, I get sloppy and my body sees the results.

I wrote about how to use MyFitnessPal here:  Flexible Dieting Basics.

So, you decide.  Is the weight loss program you've chosen something you can live with?  If you choose this plan, will you both lose weight and keep it off?

Question for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
What is your New Year's resolution for 2017?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

With Us

Can I hear a big sigh of relief from every Mom out there who celebrates Christmas?  This is the craziest time of year for anyone who has a child under the age of "I still believe."  (Whatever age that might be for your kid/s.)  Even after your kids "get it," the fact remains that there are still gifts to buy, wrap and put under the tree ... Preparations.  Parties.  Baking.  Cooking.  Shopping.  Work.  Don't even want to look at the credit card bills.  Sigh.
Our Christmas tree.  It's a little lopsided at the top, but I think it's super pretty this year.
This song seriously wraps up how I feel in a little more than three minutes:

Just Breathe by Johnny Diaz

Third cup of joe just to get me through the day.
I want to make the most of time, but I feel it slip away...
♬ ♪ ♩ ♫

My son's birthday is December 13, which added a whole new level of crazy to the month.  Even though my kids are still home, they are grown / growing up.  We don't have to attend 15 different Christmas parties anymore.  And...I don't have to go with them everywhere.  It's a huge sigh of relief. 
Love the lipstick...and the Snapchat filters.
Follow me:  tracoleman993
I used to say that December 26 was my favorite day of the year because FINALLY it was all over.  I seriously hated the stress.  How I kept it together, I don't know.  I do know what I do now and it has made all the difference for me in making the Christmas season truly joyful.
This is me today, as I write this blog.  No makeup.  Messy hair.  Listening to Youtube while my son has his friends over.
How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle is currently playing.  I so enjoy this time after Christmas to find myself again.
Christmas music all day every day.  Yes, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, it's nothing but Carols all day.  Our local radio station plays nothing but Christmas music during that time, so I'm tuned in all the time.  At work, I play a variety of Christmas tunes on YouTube.  I'm a little slow to the uptake, but I found that YouTube has a mix of different songs that are comparable to what you chose and it plays pretty much all day.  Go ahead and give it a try.  Search for your favorite song on YouTube and on the right side bar, there are other suggestions.  Towards the top, it says, "50 videos +" and "Mix -" with the name of your song.  Click on that and you can listen all day.

It's been so relaxing for me while I've been working.  I heard this song last week:

Light of the World by Lauren Daigle
The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
O come O come Emmanuel

O Come O Come Emmanuel is probably my absolute favorite Christmas song.  I love the depth of it, the broad spectrum of the notes.  It touches me more than any other song.  So when I heard this one, with the "O come O come Emmanuel" as the refrain and "Glory to the light of the world."  I was moved.

Why do we even sing, "Emmanuel"?  What's the big deal?  In the Bible, Isaiah prophesied:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14
In the New Testament, Matthew repeats this prophesy and explains that Immanuel means, "God with us."  (Matthew 1:23)

God with us.  

Jesus was born to be God in flesh, to be with us and live here with us.

But that was over 2,000 years ago.  Jesus died.  Really?  God with us?  

Yes.  He is with us.  Even today.  In the hecticness of life.  In our pain.  In our joy.  In our sorrow.  He is with us.  God is with us.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.  

We sing this familiar Christmas carol, calling, "Come, be with us."  He is not just with us at Christmas.   He never wants us to live a rat race life, let alone spin ourselves into such a craze to celebrate His birth.  I guarantee that.  In fact, with all the secularism of Christmas, the exorbitant shopping and lack of peace we experience during this holiday season, one might say we actually remove ourselves from Him for the sake of celebrating His coming, His birth, His return.  

As you wind down into the New Year, think about this.  God is with us.  He is with you.  Sometimes it's hard to feel it.  To know He is here, by our side.  But in the stillness and quiet, he is as close as you allow him to be.  Close your eyes.  Listen.  

God with us.

Questions for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
If you celebrate it, do you love Christmas?  What's the best part?   Are you still listening to Christmas carols like me?

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Monday, December 19, 2016

NOT a runner

Please pardon the interruption to my series on wellness for this news briefing.  I am sooooooooo excited to share this with you!!!!

Last Sunday I ran my very first 5K race.  Yep, my very first one!!!  It felt fantastic and I loved it.  Okay, so let me be honest.  I hate running.  It stinks.  But the feeling after you run is addicting.  The "Whomp!!!  You did it!  You kicked some serious @$$!!!!" feeling.  It's hard to describe, but it's a pure adrenaline rush.
Yeah me!!!  Time:  28:09   
There are a whole lot of reasons why I shouldn't run, the number one being that the orthopedic surgeon told me two years ago, "NO running!"  But I'm a bit of a rebel.  Since I hurt my shoulder, my training has been limited.  Then came in the "I'm going for a 'NOT' run" (as I would tell my husband).
I have arthritis in my left knee.  No torn meniscus.
The "NOT running" started last summer when I was doing interval training on the treadmill.  I walked for two minutes, then increased my pace to my maximum for one minute.  This maximum pace increased steadily to the point where I was running.  "One minute, it's not too bad."  Repeat this rotation for 24 minutes.  I loved increasing my speed on the treadmill each time.  Pushing my maximum effort to more than what I did before made me feel like I was accomplishing something.  And I sweat like crazy, which proved to me I was working hard.  I loved it.

drip,drip, drip
 Then I started run / walking outside.  Basically, I did the same thing as on the treadmill, only instead of timing it, I used driveways to mark my distance.  This was even harder.  Run:  "Try to get to the end of the street."  Walk.  "Breathe, catch your breath.  Breathe."  Run:  "Try to go a little further this time."
I even started running laps inside work on my late nights.
In November, I started running further distances without walking.  I started at one mile and worked my way up a little bit gradually.  And then I ran my first 5K race.  Yeah!!!  So psyched!!!
Our Team
So, why run?  Why go against the doctor's orders?   Here's the thing, I am by NO means telling you to go against your doctor's orders.  Not by any means.  Two years ago I weighed 50 lbs. more than I do now.  I was no where near as strong as I am today.  Not by a long shot.  Not only that, I am a lot smarter about my own abilities and my own body.  I recently saw a segment on The Doctors about this woman with MS who is running 7 marathons on 7 continents.  If she can do that, I can certainly run a 5K.  (Woman with MS to Run 7 Marathons on 7 Continents.)  So, I took a calculated risk and so far it's come up okay.
Don't you just LOVE the pink headband with the cranberry shirt?
If my knee is wobbly or achey, I don't run.  Running is nothing like riding my bike. But it's too cold to ride  my bike and the roads are a mess due to the recent snow we've had.  So...this lets me push myself.  And...even though I hate it while I'm doing it, I like the way I feel after I run.

Sweat man...nothing like a good run to majorly sweat!
Questions for you...
Do you run?  
Do you want to run?  
Do you think you could ever do a 5K?  Do you wish you could?  
Send me an email and I'll give you some tips on how to get started.  I am NO expert, not at all, but having JUST started, I can tell you what worked and did not work for me.'

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!

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