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Wellness

Faith, Wellness

Visions are life-giving

romans12-2We began meditating on this scripture last week in regular Holy Yoga classes, and we are sitting on it this week and next week, too. It’s my favorite scripture and a great one to enter into with God in the new year.

It will also be the verse for the vision board workshop I’m holding at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 14 at Peace Lutheran Church, 2800 W. Jefferson St. in Springfield. The cost is just $10 to cover materials. Click here to register. Or, bring a friend for $15 total by clicking here.

There will be a brief activity to guide you in creating a wonderful board that will inspire you in your dreams throughout 2018. If you’ve never done a vision board, I cannot recommend this enough. It’s incredibly powerful to have a visual reminder of the goals and dreams God has placed in your heart as you reach for them. When you do a vision board and especially when you post it in a visible location, you cannot help but reach your goals! I cannot wait to show you mine from 2017, pray with you and make a new board as we visit, laugh and enjoy each other’s company!

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people are discouraged…”

When is the last time you slowed down enough to ask God about His vision for your life? Let’s all stop for just a moment and pray together as we create something to remind us of the dreams He’s blessed us with! It will be a lovely experience.

There will also be Holy Yoga offered from 6-7 p.m. before the workshop. I encourage you to come and worship God through movement and breathing. If you have never tried Holy Yoga, this class is free for you! If you are a student currently, it’s a suggested $5 donation that you can pay on Jan. 14. If you’d rather skip the Paypal link to pay, just text me an RSVP to 217-801-7464. 

Outline for the class:

  1. Meditate first on Ephesians 2:10. Consider also reading the day one devotional of Andy Stanley’s 7-day Visioneering on the You Version Bible app.
  2. Pray. Find a quiet place and a few moments to simply ask for God to reveal to you His vision for your life, for your year.
  3. Complete the workshop below.
  4. VisionBoardExercise
  5. Begin to clip out images that particularly match the bold sections on the handout for your vision board. If you can’t find images in magazines, search online and print them out.
  6. Arrange them on your vision board. Embellish with quotes, written words, stickers or artwork.
  7. Most importantly, keep you vision board in a place where you will see it every day. Continue to pray over it!
Wellness

Endometriosis solutions that worked for me…

This is part two of a post that started with my endometriosis story…you can read that post here

The body is both mysterious and easy to understand. It is both weak and powerful.

I’ve fought with mine so much over the years, and we aren’t done yet! For a long time, I lived a miserable existence with chronic endometriosis pain, not to mention migraine pain, fibromyalgia and digestive discomfort/imbalance. After trying many traditional medicinal and unconventional treatments, I had nearly resolved to accept a life a pain.

Until I came unglued at the idea of needless surgeries and hormonal treatments. I just couldn’t do it. So I took the following measures and with each one, I’ve experienced a noticeable degree of relief.

All of what I write about is based on the premise that no matter the cause of endometriosis, it’s estrogen that feeds it. Without estrogen, the clumps of cells will wither away unfed. Some solutions are also based on alleviating pain and stress.

 

Realizing that every body is unique, it’s obvious that there isn’t a blanket cure. Bummer! But I learned various tools and tricks from friends and others I trusted. Because they were brave enough to be authentic and share with me what was working for them. It’s my turn to pay it forward. Maybe something on this list of solutions will give you beautiful healing and hope.

I always say that busy moms will do just about anything to avoid illness. Sometimes we get stuck in it, and like a hamster on a wheel, we just keep running, never slowing down enough to realize that doesn’t need to be our stories.

Mine was rewritten beginning in 2015. Maybe it’s time you got a new testimony, too.

I’m sharing my solutions in the order I used them with some kind of scientific backing as to why it works for endometriosis (hormonal struggles). Sadly, women’s health issues are not studied near enough. Some of these are up-and-coming solutions that I hope and pray will be more thoroughly studied and written about for the benefit of women everywhere.

  1. GETTING RID OF GLUTEN
    This one is super powerful all on its own! My friend had some hormonal type issues and recognized gluten was a culprit. She took it out of her diet and had wonderful results. She shared her testimony with me for a couple of years. I simply did not want to change. I couldn’t imagine a life without gluten. I finally caved when my health was not improving. After six weeks, I didn’t recognize much of a change and ate gluten again. I had severe heartburn and digestive issues that had sent me to the ER numerous times over the years. I also suspected my stomach issues and endometriosis were tied together. This did not get rid of my endo pain at all, but it cured many of my digestive issues. However, check out the results of this study, where 75 percent of women reported statistically significant change in pain at 12 months and none reported worsening of symptoms. It is absolutely a great tool for women suffering from endometriosis. And the truth is, I was only exploring gluten-free on its own for a couple of months before I was on to the next tool.
  2. ELIMINATE COFFEE/CAFFEINE
    First off, coffee is especially dangerous because it’s filled with pesticides, mycotoxins and is acidic. These facts are well-documented all over the internet. My husband discovered this, and brought it to my attention. It took me several months before I was willing to give up my beloved relationship with coffee. Pesticides are an endocrine disrupter, so anyone with a hormonal disfunction will be especially sensitive to them. They will act as estrogen in the body and create all kinds of imbalance. This causes more pain or more days of a woman’s cycle in those with endometriosis. Here’s one study about the interruption in a woman’s system that can be caused by pesticide exposure: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1524969/. By the way, pesticides show up in all kinds of other foods, but coffee tops a lot of lists and my frequent consumption of it made it the most obvious thing for me to address first. Later, I began to cut meat and dairy from my diet. Here is a great blog post about the worst foods for pesticides. Coffee cup with burlap sack of roasted beans
    More recently, I’m learning that BOTH pesticides AND caffeine are problematic for endometriosis. I ended up drinking coffee again after the birth of my baby because I found a great organic, low-acid coffee (by Isagenix) that is screened for toxins. However, research indicates caffeine is problematic at least when it gets to two or more cups a day, so my next goal in 2018 is to reduce and eliminate coffee altogether to see if I feel better. My quest to healing is never-ending!  According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who have two or more cups of caffeinated coffee (or four cans of cola) per day were found to be twice as likely to develop endometriosis as other women. The reason why caffeine has this effect is unknown.
  3. PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING/KETOSIS
    Sadly, there just isn’t a lot of evidence out here for this one. That’s unfortunate because it’s where I experienced the biggest leap in terms of easing pain/symptoms of endometriosis. I used a nutrition system that is specifically designed for fat loss in desperation to avoid the laparoscopic scraping surgery. The premise behind intermittent fasting is for the body to burn fat for fuel rather than carbs, during which ketones are released putting the body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis is quite the buzz word, and it has many, many benefits. It’s a great lifestyle for many people. But it also has some real dangers. I would not recommend long-term ketosis without discussing it with your doctor. You probably ought to discuss IF with your doctor, too, but it’s not the kind of lifestyle that will harm you unless you are type 1 diabetic. I don’t know exactly HOW IF helped my endometriosis. Only that it gave my cells — all of them — a break. There are some neat videos of the cells before and after IF that show how it affects them. It’s a process of renewal and vitality. And yes, the body can detox itself no doubt. But IF assists it in doing this miraculous function. Personally I cannot imagine practicing IF without the tools that I used and share with others (namely Isagenix), but there are many people who use no tools or other tools. However you want to try it, please be open to it. This can have a huge impact on your overall health and especially with regard to pain! I’m happy to set you up with a 30-day complete system and coach you in your first IF experience. I live for this! Here is a full list of the benefits of IF, and here is a study regarding a different type of pain relief.
  4. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
    It’s a scientific fact that stress exacerbates endometriosis and vice versa. In fact, it may be a chicken and egg debate. If you don’t or aren’t managing your stress (emotional or physical), then you are on a hamster wheel. My stress was drastically improved on Isagenix namely because of adaptogens. These natural botanicals are uniquely able to help your body combat stress, focus your mind, and elevate your daily performance. There are many sources of adaptogens, but Ionix Supreme is my favorite. You can read about it here.
  5. PRACTICE YOGA
    Yoga has been huge for teaching me three things:

    1. Breathing: The gift of ratio, belly, Ujjayi (victorious) breath and mindful breathing has helped me to bring stress under control. But it has also helped alleviate pain and panic — when I had the flu, anxiety over one of my kids 23380083_10154831426201035_1211404866907118819_nand shoulder pain. Breathing is a gift; learning how to manipulate it for healing is like the bow on top!
      2. Stress: The practice of yoga has helped alleviate and manage stress. It reminds me to slow down and take care of myself. Don’t take my word for it. Yoga Clicks has hundreds of stories on the many physical and emotional benefit of yoga. Here are a few on anxiety.
      3. Postures: There are actual poses you can use to alleviate pain, in addition to breathing. This website is a great resource for yoga and hormone issues.
  6. TRY KRATOM FOR PAIN
    Not long ago, in the process of healing from the emotional trauma my physical pain had caused in my marriage, I had a setback. A painful period. Painful intercourse. I couldn’t believe it. I had been using all of these beautiful, wonderful tools. Don’t get me wrong, it was nowhere as severe as it could have been. But still. Grrrr. Then my friend Carolyn, who introduced me to Isagenix, posted that she’d been trying kratom successfully. I had never heard of it, but I trusted her. I did some digging and talking. And then I decided to give it a try. Holy moly, it’s simply amazing for pain. Anytime I’ve experienced any pain and taken it, even if my pain isn’t minimized (which is rare), it relaxes me to the point that I’m at least not lashing out in my pain at the people I love. That’s huge, y’all! kratomNo more mean momma PMS’ing. This is my new friend’s website. Again, I trust her and the woman who recommended me. Don’t google “cheap kratom.” Please. For the love. Don’t cheap out or cut corners on your health. Just don’t. If kratom both intrigues and concerns you, that’s good!. I get it! I hesitated on Isagenix for nine months while I got sicker because I googled it and saw a few negative testimonies. There are always some horror stories you can stumble on out there. Like anything else. And doctors are prescribing opioids for endo pain. So consider the alternative. I hated a life of prescriptions. I hated trading symptoms for side effects. This is a gentle, natural solution. Again, it might be great for you. But it might not. We are all different. And that’s OK! Here’s a fascinating story CNN did on the subject. I would love to see kratom get more mainstream attention. It is restoring relationships and bringing life and hope back to people!
  7. JESUS
    Truth be told, I tried Jesus before I even did a single thing on this list. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed that He would move the “mountain” that was my pain and misery. Frankly, I was a little pissed that He wasn’t doing anything to heal me or even acknowledge my prayers. Especially when I’d witnessed Him do it time and again with my husband and friends. Why them and not me? I had faith. I KNEW He could. I believed. Friends, I really, really believed. And then these things happened. He brought Isagenix into my life. And then when I surrendered, He introduced me to Holy Yoga. And when I had setbacks and my pain returned again (in a much smaller dose), He connected me with a lovely Christian lady who sells safe, organic kratom. Could He have healed me with just one word, one touch, in one breath? Of course He could have. As I was reflecting on why He didn’t one day, I drove my a rural church with a marquee that said, “I can move mountains, but sometimes it’s by handing you a shovel. — God.” Ah! I started to put the pieces together. My journey, as painful as it’s sometimes been, has allowed me to be more open, to share, to reach more and to help others move their mountains. He didn’t have to invite me to be part of His plans for healing, and yet He did. Jesus didn’t want to just give me a shovel for moving my mountain, He gave me shovels so I could be blessed to help others move their mountains, too. How awesome is that?

If anything in this blog blessed you or you think it might bless others, please share! I’d love nothing more than to reach and help multitudes of women suffering from endometriosis and related hormonal struggles.

Wellness

The cascade of endometriosis pain

I feel compelled to share a version of my endometriosis story with you, but before you read, you should know it’s got some personal details that you may or may not want to know. But it’s my story, and the pain and healing are mine. I’m finally in a space where I feel sharing is an act of shedding shame and spreading hope. If you want to talk more, I am always open to conversations, prayers and of course, yoga. Thank you for giving me grace in my sharing!

Terrible cramps were just “normal” when I was a teenager. I did not know any differently. And because I was more than likely (but not diagnosed) ADD, my mind was out of sync with my body. I did not know how to describe what I felt and did not always feel permission to attach emotions to physical sensations. Often, I threw food at the pain, among other disjointed solutions like trying to out-exercise it. My mind and body have spent most of my life being terribly out of sync.

I was 28 when I had my first child, who was conceived with help at a fertility specialist, though I was not diagnosed with endometriosis at the time. (We had a diagnosed infertility completely unrelated to endometriosis.) I had a second child less than two years later, and when my period returned three months after his birth, it came with a vengeance. Even birthing two children, I had never experienced any pain like it.

At the time, it went undiagnosed. I was too embarrassed to talk to my doctor about the ridiculously painful intercourse or the fact that it felt like a knife was being twisted in my rectum when I had bowel movements. I am sorry but not sorry for the description, because for so long I lived in such a dark place where it wasn’t OK to talk about it. It’s the same kind of shame that so many are living with now, so I choose to be authentic.

Years wore on when I would not discuss my private suffering — not with my husband or my gynecologist. I tried various forms of birth control during these years, as well as different anti-depressants as the physical pain did a number on my soul. Ultimately, the side effects were much like making a deal with the devil. I traded one evil for another. I was short-tempered with my loved ones, lashing out in my pain language. I was emotionally numb, keeping the depths of my pain to myself in some twisted effort to save the physically intimacy in my marriage even as my husband’s touch became a triggering reminder of the excruciating pain of intercourse. Often I “checked out” emotionally when I couldn’t relieve the physical pain any other way.

I finally switched to a female gynecologist, who was much more sympathetic. Every year, I would cry about my pain. She would give me the endometriosis 101 lecture complete with illustrations on a napkin and tell me I should have surgery. Always I resisted because I read the discussion boards and testimonies and knew this was a short-term solution.

One year, my husband had a vasectomy scheduled in February. My annual exam was in January. My doctor and I had the same ‘ole conversation with more tears than normal. I was so exhausted by my physical and emotional misery.

It’s not that I hate modern medicine, but I had never personally experienced complete healing with anything my entire life. I was skeptical to say the least.

My solution was to tell my husband to cancel the vasectomy since our plan was laparoscopic surgery followed by hormone treatment that would mimic menopause. If I tolerated it well enough, a full hysterectomy would follow. There seemed to be no sense in a vasectomy if I could end up with a hysterectomy by year’s end. I felt dejected and hopeless.

I did what I always did and ignored it. Finally, in the spring, I went on a gluten-free “adventure” with my one of my children to see if it would help with ADHD symptoms. It did but said child was not in a place to make that kind of lasting lifestyle change. So, after six weeks, we had a sandwich for lunch followed by pasta for dinner.

Twenty-four hours later, I thought I was having a heart attack. For years, I had severe heartburn and many trips to the emergency room and gastrointestinal tests with specialists. Medication eased my symptoms, but again, I could not tolerate the intense side effects. I had been managing it by avoid fried and fatty foods (which I thought were the culprit) and drinking diluted apple cider vinegar. For the record, I always thought and still think my digestive issues are linked to endometriosis and there’s strong evidence that the two are often connected.

I began a gluten-free lifestyle immediately that set me free of many digestive issues but not hormonal problems. My husband finally convinced me to give up coffee due to its studied connection aggravating endometriosis. That was a hard break-up, but I did it. The results weren’t phenomenal there either, but I pressed in.

Finally, in desperation I decided to try this nutrition system my friend was bragging about using, hoping it would get me to a place where I could avoid the surgery and the pain. Two months into the lifestyle, I felt like a brand-new person. In fact, I didn’t even feel like me. I did not know what it felt like to live a pain-free existence or to live a life not spent 25 percent or more in my bed.

I was finally able to do the kind of exercising I loved and even signed up and ran a 10-mile race, having never run beyond three miles in my life. My symptoms were down by 90-95 percent, and then suddenly I got pregnant at 40.

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My sweet baby and her friend. I do a babysitting swap, work outside the house one day a week, teach Holy Yoga twice a week and keep nearly all of my commitments and appointments. For several years, I hated appointments as my body was so unreliable and the pain completely unbearable. I rejoice, for these little victories really are BIG ones!

My daughter is now almost 2 1/2 , and while I have some days where my symptoms are uncomfortable, they are nowhere near what they used to be. They never stop me from daily living anymore! For that I am so grateful! I am living my best version of me. It feels so good.

Additionally, I had a back injury in early 2017 and ended up getting certified in Holy Yoga. Exploring my own personal practice has led to an additional level of healing in my body and allowed me to connect more deeply my body, mind and spirit to feel whole. I use my yoga practice to prayerfully release trauma that is deeply stored in my body from years of untreated physical and emotional pain. Yoga has been an incredible tool for reconnecting my emotions with my body and learning how to truly love myself again and restore the healing power of touch in my life.

I’m not saying what I’ve done works for everyone, but I am passionate about connecting people to the tools I use if they are looking for holistic, alternative solutions. I will be sharing more about the specific tools I use in my next post. I have a new tool that’s really rocking my world. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

Read part two of this post detailing solutions that have helped me HERE.

 

Wellness

Do you really need to lose weight?

It’s a question I grapple with when I speak to my own reflection. And yes, I do speak to myself. I haven’t had my BMI tested in quite some time, so from a medical standpoint, I don’t know if I need to lose weight.

But if we’re honest, women have been less concerned about the medical commentary no matter what end of the spectrum we fall. The desire to lose weight, maintain weight loss or be complacent when it comes to the scale rarely pertains to our BMI.

How we emotionally feel about the way to look or physically feel in our own skin is really the crux of this question. And sometimes it is also the cause of the weight gain.

From the outside looking in, I am content with how I look. From the inside out, I feel a little more bloated in how I feel in my body. And from the inside, I am a bigger mess than is reflected on my dress size.

And this is what makes this question so deceptive. And dangerous. And judgmental.

It’s far easier for us to look around at the waistline of others and decide what they need or think we know what they are doing wrong than it is for us to examine our own inner self and assess our own needs.

Currently, I am having a resurgence of hormonal imbalance issues. Last time I detoxed from sugar and did a strict nutritional cleanse with consistent use of herbal products, I was able to reset my body and achieve balance. At the same time, visceral fat melted away.

Would I love to lose 10 pounds? Sure. But mostly I want to lose weight as a reflection of the work I’ve done on the inside — discipline and nutrition that leads to healthy balance and feeling the best in my skin.

If I do the work and don’t lose 10 pounds but feel incredible, I can honestly say I will be content in my skin. Again, if we are honest, we must put the number on the scale in a context that doesn’t reflect the outer person but the inner one.

Are there real risks and scary health issues associated with weight? Of course. But thinking there is a body size that lowers risk anymore than there’s an ideal female form is misleading.

As a woman, it’s a relief for me to know that what I see when I look in the mirror is only a very small picture of my overall health. Though somedays it’s a burden, too. Skinny is NOT healthy. I can choose to let go and love my reflection more deeply daily when my focus is on the inside me.

Do you need to lose weight? Many of you replied last month that you want help with that and I would LOVE to help you. And maybe you do need the weight loss. Maybe your doctor said to lose weight. Maybe your doctor is right. But maybe not. Either way, I still want to help because the journey isn’t just about weight.

ymc0_bigthumb_Isagenix-Weight-Loss-ProgramDo you want to work on the inside issues that may or may not be related to your weight? Those are harder to tackle but have much more far-reaching consequences on your life.

Whatever your reason and no matter your motivation, I am here to offer you some real tools for helping. I absolutely love coming alongside people who are ready to change! Call or text me 217.801-7464 to schedule a time to talk about your goals and how I can connect you with resources that can work to help you reach them!

Wellness

Practical tips for really avoiding seemingly inevitable holiday weight gain

I swear, it seems like I gained five pounds just writing this post — thinking about the mouth-watering, traditional dishes of Thanksgiving, holiday parties, my daughter’s birthday and even raiding Halloween candy next week.

Did I ever tell you about the time I joined Weight Watches in October so I could lose (in advance) the 10 pounds I always gain this time of year? It worked, by the way.

Getting a head start on the holidays by having an eating and lifestyle plan is critical. No plan = inevitable weight gain.

holiday-weight-gain-300x210I did some serious digging around on this, because it’s what I do. And here’s the truth. Most people are only gaining an average of 1-2 pounds in the period from October to December. But it takes five months for the holiday weight to be released.

The problem is this: People who are already overweight are gaining the most. So that average is probably representing no weight gain (and even weight loss) for some and significant weight gain for others.

I have always landed in the weight gain group, partly because in addition to the normal hectic schedule in November and December, we have a family birthday and I used to own a portrait photography business. Christmas cards were one of my specialties. I was swamped during the last two months of the year as everyone scrambled to get family photos and cards done by Christmas.

Maybe this time of year is hard for you, too. The good news is there are things we can do. This year, I am not happy with the results of my lifestyle that has already left me starting the holiday season about 5-10 pounds heavier than I want to be. I need to lose about 15-18 pounds. And I’m getting aggressive.

Here are some things I plan to do, and I’d love to have your join me:

No skimping. It’s tempting to put exercise and sleep last when your schedule seems to be bleeding from every corner. Don’t do it! Plenty of research links lack of sleep with weight gain. Also, exercise helps me keep stress in check. And stress is weight gain enemy No. 1 for me. These are my non-negotiable. If I am going to sacrifice sleep, the only reason will be to exercise. I will set my alarm and do it first thing if need be, and I am not a morning person. However, this is priority!

Address stress. The research is stacking up in favor of meditation being the best resource for managing stress. Ten minutes a day or 30 minutes a week or two minutes each morning. Can you find a place in your schedule and work it in? Exercise, fresh air and adaptogens (I’m glad to share with you the ones I use…so amazing for dealing with physical and mental stress!) are all great resources. Yoga is another proven tool for managing stress. I have a workshop on very simple stretches and breathing exercises that help combat stress, in addition to meditation and a yoga practice.  You can learn more HERE.

Levels of “the stress hormone,” cortisol, rise during tension-filled times, according to Web MD. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.

Race yourself. Sign up for an event to hold yourself accountable to working out. This actually works wonders for me in the fall and early winter. Find a race that will challenge you a little. One year, that was a 10-mile race. It was the longest distance I’d ever run, and I was able to stay on track with the training and my eating because I knew I had the race.

Schedule it. On the subject of signing up and using a training schedule, use your planner to schedule everything this time of year. Track your workouts, your meals, your sleep, your mood and your water intake. Make sure you are taking the time to take care of your physical and emotional needs by actually setting aside the time on your calendar.

Eat before you go. Have something healthy or filling before a holiday party to avoid the temptation of filling up with sweets. Decide before you go what you will give yourself permission to eat. Lack of planning will often lead to impulsivity.

Take a healthy dish to a potluck. Concerned about whether there will be anything healthy to eat? Then bring the dish that you want to eat to stick to your goals. Then you will have no excuse!

Grab a partner. I’m using the Marco Polo app to have a 30-day challenge with two friends. I have another accountability partner, and we are checking in on each other. We also discussed our “why’s” and how we can maximize our motivation. We both agreed that we need to see our before photos, so mine is on my iPhone lock screen and background. After a couple days of this, I must say it’s very motivating! I’d share it, but….it’s so embarrassing to have my photo in my face and at risk of being seen by others. What will drive you to reach your goal? Maximize that tool!

Be gracious. If you love to bake, do it and then gift it. Find a place or person who might appreciate party leftovers and extras. Give away or throw away your temptations!

Use tools. My nutrition system makes it easy and convenient and affordable for me to eat exactly what I need to reach my goals for two of my daily meals. I don’t have to think about it. I also have tools for stress, accountability, mindset and more through my company. Here’s their blog about staying healthy during the holidays. If you’re interested in learning more, we would love to have you join our team! It helps me with other goals, too, such as a balanced (alkaline) gut that helps me digest my food better and avoid inflammation and keep my immune system healthy year-round.

I also just downloaded MyFitnessPal and have been using it for five days. I love it! I am not a big calorie counter, but lately my eating has been out of control. I simply need to count calories to get back on track. It’s also teaching me more about food, and helping me keep my micronutrient goals, exercise and water consumption on track. I am also using the IsaBody journaling once a week for 16 weeks to keep me motivated. The first entry was humbling and telling. I have some work to do on myself, and why not start now before I tumble into the holidays unarmed?19b55bd5507a6e87b40f2d094ebf33f1--macro-nutrition-nutrition-tips

Perhaps a pound or two is not a big deal to you. It’s not that major to me, except that I don’t want to buy the next size up! But feeling good about myself is the most important thing to help me function well as a wife and mother. This list helps me do that. And my company’s 16-week transformation challenge is another HUGE help. I just signed up this week. I am using their measurements, their resources, their recipes, their journal and I’m joining up with others who are doing the same.

Want to join us? Contact me right away! Our 30-day system comes with a money-back guarantee. You can try it all 30 days, and if you hate it for any reason, you will get your investment refunded. What do you have to lose…except that 1-2 or 10 pounds you normally gain this time of year?

Wellness, Yoga

Is it really possible to stress less?

On Monday of this week, I had an already busy day. My husband helped by taking the toddler to a babysitter. I was out of town for an intense weekend-long conference, which made me already behind on everything! I’m sure you know the feeling well if you’ve ever left town for even a couple days.

I had to mop up a little teen drama from over the weekend, which essentially took another 90 minutes from my day and then what would be an hour-long evening meeting to mend some festering wounds.

In between, I had to rush to pick up a teen, run to Walgreens for hair supplies, drop her off somewhere and get to my yoga class, which I teach but had barely given a thought to! All day long, I had this fluttery feeling in my chest and my brain was on the verge of spinning.

It was such an uncomfortable — but familiar — feeling. This used to be my everyday. But I had cashed it in five years ago for a simpler life as a work-at-home mom.

Stress is not inescapable altogether. It’s a fact of life, but we need not surrender to its accumulating effects.

As a whole, Americans report their top stressors are money, work and the economy (61 percent, 58 percent and 50 percent, respectively), according to a 2016 American Psychological Association study. Adding to that in the last decade are terrorism, mass shootings and gun violence. We also worry about politics and police violence toward minorities. (You can view the study in its entirely HERE.)

There’s no lack of things to worry about. And according to the APA’s statistics, about half of us are not getting enough emotional support to manage our stress. 21151397_10154659773961035_7801521331880681448_n

This past year, I was “forced” to dabble heavily in meditation. It was a requirement of my Holy Yoga certification. Though I had enjoyed a few mindfulness guided imagery exercises and my own scripture medication on occasion, this weekly habit was an incredible source of relaxation, inspiration and motivation.

In fact, would you believe it’s the No. 1 factor to living a healthy life, moreso than what we eat, at least according to some emerging data?

In a study of 26 adults at Massachusetts General Hospital using relaxation techniques that included mindfulness, meditation and mantra (the repetition of Hindu sounds) had their blood work tested immediately before and after using 20-minutes of self-directed techniques. An incredible 22,000 gene sequences were studied and measured for changes.

Get this: Every single one of the study participants’ DNA demonstrated significant, measurable changes in genes that relate to metabolism, aging, insulin response and relaxation, among many others. Related to the fascinating but somewhat emerging science of telomeres, the bottom line is that the techniques can alter and repair DNA — real transformation in physical bodies at a cellular level. (You can read an article about this study HERE.)

It’s no wonder I felt incredible — like a heavy weight was lifted — as I went through this training. When I started, I was a depressed mess!

I would love to share this tender gift of relaxation with you at my Stress Less Workshop on Nov. 4 from 9-11 a.m. In addition to meditation on scripture, I will show easy movements and breathing techniques for issues like panic, anxiety, feeling frozen, isolation, disconnected, detached, feeling off balance, emotionally overwhelmed, feeling unprotected, helplessness and more. We will finish up with a Holy Yoga flow that is gentle and can even be done from a chair if you prefer.

Questions? Just call or text me at 217-801-7464.

Want to sign up? The cost is $25, and children coming with a paying adult are free. (One parent can bring all their children. Recommended age is 10-12 and up, but you can decide if your child would benefit!)

Ideally, the tools you learn will be gifts that will help you in your own self-directed practice for days, weeks and years to come! You can register by clicking HERE.

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Don’t just look, observe.
Don’t just swallow, taste.
Don’t just sleep, dream.
Don’t just think, feel.
Don’t just exist, live.
“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him” Psalm 34:8~The Message.

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Wellness, Yoga

Foot Exercises You Can Do on Your Own

I held a foot workshop a couple weeks ago and promised the participants that I would find a “home” for the handout on my blog. You missed out on some awesome extras at our live workshop, but these are a great collection of exercises you can do to prevent and ease the pain of common foot issues. If you want a PDF you can print, click here:

Foot Exercises

Microsoft Word - Foot Exercises.docx

 

Microsoft Word - Foot Exercises.docx

 

Wellness, Yoga

How precious are your feet?

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” — Isaiah 52:7

This is God saying, “My dear, when you share the gospel, your feet are beautiful.” I love the context of the mountain…the race over not a plain but difficult terrain to share the BEST news.

Our feet work hard, a fact many of us take for granted, but God calls them beautiful.

21078518_10154657380496035_1376039893611386651_nA quarter of all the bones in your body are in your feet. Your feet have 52 bones, 26 in each foot and 33 joints. Your body has a total of 206 bones, including those in your feet. When you think about it, feet are essential in absolutely every task you perform.

So we want them to keep working hard for us — to give us a solid foundation, to help us retain balance, to get us from point A to point B, to allow us to continue our ministry to our families and our communities.

Earlier this year, when summer arrived, my feet began to light up in pain. I did some research, learned some exercises and decided my feet were worthy of far more attention than I’d been giving them.

I’d like to invite you to enroll now for a special two-hour Holy Yoga event: Pampering your precious feet from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at Peace Lutheran Church, 2800 W. Jefferson St. in Springfield. Learn exercises for your feet, enjoy a slow flow class, get a foot soak with a devotion and leave with more resources for healing and preventing common foot ailments.

Space is limited and participants must be pre-registered, so sign up soon. The cost is $25 and includes exercises you can do at home, resources, a foot soak with devotion and a Holy Yoga flow. Click HERE to make your payment and secure your spot!

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Faith, Wellness

Sometimes I walk…or run real slow

After I wrote about my six-mile run and how proud I was that I could finish that race with an amazing time, I began thinking about a half-marathon. I was technically halfway through the training and on pace for training for the one that would be held in Springfield in mid-October.

Pardon me. It seemed like a no-brainer. So I jumped right back into distance training the weekend after the Abe’s Amble.

I ran four miles from my house, so that when I turned, I would run the required eight miles for that Sunday. Except right around the turning point, I had pain so severe it was accompanied by pain. Radiating pain from my deep glutes to the bottom of my foot.

I walked and ran real slow the second half, the pain never alleviated. It was slow because I was proud of my time, though in reality it wasn’t THAT slow. It was slow because God had some things to say. It was slow because I was suffering emotionally as much as I was physically.

I’m 43. I’ve suffered a few rather severe health conditions. I’ve birthed three children. I’ve reclaimed my health. I’ve lost significant weight. I’ve become stronger. I’ve experienced new, chronic back problems.

I was arguing with God that I might miss the chance to run a half marathon in my lifetime if I didn’t do it now.

He, as you might imagine, didn’t care. Well, that’s not true. He did and does care very much about my feelings, my aspirations, my past and my future.

But in that agonizing four miles, He reminded me that His care for me includes seasons of slow, of rest and of healing. And that if I can’t lay down my prideful thinking, my own goal-setting and pick up what He has for me, then I may very well miss out on something even better than a half-marathon.

I don’t know what that is. He hasn’t revealed it to me yet. But I’m learning in my relationship with Him that it’s best to surrender. He is indeed my GOOD FATHER. And if He is saying this season is not my time, then I trust Him. Even if I don’t like it.

And that’s hard. It very much reminds me of the verse I’ve been meditating on in my Holy Yoga Trauma-Sensitive studies this week, the one I shared with one of my Holy Yoga classes: “I have told you these things so that you may have peace in Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power [to overcome] the world.” John 16:33

The most important thing in this scripture is the relationship. When life is hard, when I don’t get my way, when my body doesn’t cooperate, when I’m going astray, when I’m leaning toward something to make into my god, when I am stubborn and prideful, I still haven’t lost hope. My peace is in HIM. My hope is in HIM. Without that relationship, I have nothing.

I’m also reminded that if Jesus has power to overcome the world, than with Him by my side, a half-marathon is NEVER out of the realm of possibility. This fall, this year…it’s not my season. And that’s OK, too.

shutterstock_107814275-1080x675I haven’t stopped running. I haven’t stopped tracking my time. I run more slowly. That in itself makes me smile. I notice more. I hear Him more. I feel His presence. Because I’ve set aside the “it’s all about me” attitude. I’m not running for me. I’m running for HIM and with HIM. Guess what? I enjoy it more than ever.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m no theologian. But for me, God’s word does hold ultimate truth and smaller truth that is more personal, more driven by the Holy Sprit. For me, it’s something that pertains to a season in my life that has little to do with the historical context of the scripture but everything to do with God’s perspective on my situation. It releases me from having to be a Bible scholar and just trusting that God’s word is for everyone and always has something to say, no matter our educational level. So when I read the words of 1 Corinthians 9:24 and I realize that many runners may very well have taken it verbatim, and that’s OK, I’m reminded that my race today isn’t what I thought it would be. No half marathon, but I still get to compete. I still have an opportunity to be the one who gets the prize. Praise be to God, with my weary body, that my race might be one right into my Creator’s arms where He is offering stillness and healing that I need in the hear and now.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Cor. 9:24

 

Wellness

Goals: Fulfillment of joy, deception, pain


20604453_1468743306517201_8296493166451255671_nI did it.

Yes, I can! 

Relief and joy overwhelmed me as I crossed the finish line. I was pretty sure — but not 100 percent certain — that I reached my goal of running a 10k in under one hour.

How was it that I was unsure? 

Mostly because I wasn’t looking at the timer when I actually crossed the finish line. I was trying not to care that I cared so much.

Goals are a strange thing, and so is deception.

I trained hard, but in a way that began grace-filled in a sort of tip-toeing around glass kind of way.

For five years I practiced yoga about two to three times a week with a DVD at home that was 25-45 minutes depending on the series. I bought the exercise program for my husband, who had chronic back issues. But I found that I liked it for the strength conditioning. As I did the workouts, I also noticed that my back — which would go “out” two or three time a year — was not giving me any problems.

But I had a weight loss transformation. Which caused me to want to run more and try more intense workouts like HIIT and weight lifting. I’d had a baby in the interim, too, so to fit it all in, I had to give up something. I gave up yoga.

I took my 14-year-old on a mission trip to Sierra Leone, during which my once always stable back mysteriously went all out. I could hardly look at my toes, let alone touch them.

Prayer alone healed my back that day. But two weeks later, momming a toddler and overdoing my fitness regime, pain crept back in. I had to give up the workouts I loved so much.

20479456_1462972693760929_4448608723863481630_nAll I could do was yoga —  Hatha yoga, vinyasa, slow flow, gentle, power yoga. I didn’t even know what all of it meant; I diversified my workout with variations of yoga. Then God called me in the midst of my pain to get my own certification in Holy Yoga. While my inner self was crushed, bruised and healing, my back was mirroring this painfully slow process.

For months, I thought yoga was all I could or would ever do. I love yoga like I love my protein shakes. Both have saved me and healed me, but it’s not like I don’t want to eat other food any more than I want my exercise to be limited to yoga.

Somewhere along the way, I decided while my back was not 100 percent better, nor might it ever be, it was healed enough to tie my running shoes on and take my chances on the trail again.

I ran a mile that first day, and I had no back pain immediately afterward. So I kept going. Once I could run three miles, I decided I would train for a race. I found out the Abe’s Amble, a 10k at the end of the state fair, would work well in the timeframe for ample training. I kept running skeptically and eventually I signed up.

As I ran, my old goals of “just running” seemed inadequate. I wanted to push myself — to trust more in God, to discontinue the babying I was doing, to stop making excuses, to see what I was capable of when it comes to setting and reaching a goal that seems, well, impossible for me. Could I run a long race with a  10-minute-mile average? Could I do a short run of two miles in under 19 minutes?

In elementary school, I had to run one mile for the Presidential Fitness test. I had the worst time in all my class. It was embarrassing. In track, I was so slow. I always felt weak and inadequate.

But when the stresses of life overwhelmed, it was running that cleansed my mind and unraveled the tension in my muscles. Before I could drive, I ran. It wasn’t about the time or about me competing against myself to beat my own time even. I was too naive to know or care. It was the healing nature of running that had me drawn to it.

This time, it was also the healing nature of running that lured me back. Could I effectively run the fastest ever as an exhausted mother, not to compete but to heal past hurts that made me feel inadequate? Could running bolster my own self confidence, as it drew me in to trust God at an even deeper level? Could running be a tool to heal my inner and outer self?

I set a goal — 6.2 miles in 60 minutes or less. It was moderately out of reach — much faster than I thought I could muster for a distance that great.

I used the app Map My Run and celebrated my progress. Eight weeks of training and nothing indicated I couldn’t reach it. Every week, I shocked myself. My confidence was, indeed, soaring. My trust in God and my pure thanksgiving for the healing work He had done in me was bubbling over.

I could absolutely do this.

But deception grabbed hold as soon as I drove to the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The thick smell of manure began to choke me even before I got out of my car. The stack of donuts at the check-in table nearly made me puke. I’ve nothing against donuts, but I always run on an empty stomach. That and my gluten allergy means the sight and smell of food I can’t have sometimes sets my body into a reaction as if I’ve actually taken a bite.

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I tried to smile, but mostly I was praying with every step. It wasn’t the distance that was pushing me; this was the fastest pace I’d ever attempted. 

The first half mile of the race was through the fair grounds where the smell of stale glutenous food clogged my nostrils and lingered into the depths of my throat. And I thought the hills would be my biggest adversary!

I knew immediately that the finish line would be a problem for me, since we would circle back around the same loop.

The hills I handled fine. I muted my Map My Run app so that I wouldn’t be discouraged. It was time to run for fun and to trust God entirely. I check in the first two miles, and I was pacing far better than usual.

Around the 4.5 mile, my sciatica nerve on the left leg began to throb. In all my training, it had never manifested while on a run. I only vaguely feel it when I stretch it out in yoga. It was jarring — more mentally than physically. I tried not to think about it, but it was reverberating from my glutes all the way down to my ankle. It was very hard to ignore.

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My adversary…the ticking clock. I found myself literally chasing my goal at the end of the race. 

The runner holding the 59:59 sign was another area of deception, too. Initially, I thought it was great that she was there. I would know and be able to adjust my speed so I could meet my goal. Of course, she was never in my sights, as I ran a great first mile and a good second mile. But somewhere along the way in the hills and humidity and with my throbbing leg, my pace obviously slowed.

I sensed someone passing on my right and before I saw her, I knew who it was. I wasn’t even out of the park yet, so I had a long stretch of sidewalk and into the fair before hitting the last half mile that I had already decided would be my most challenging.

That didn’t last long. I pushed right back in front of her and picked up my pace. My feet beat the pavement in rhythm to a prayer. It was time to lean fully on God. Though I was secretly hoping my husband and toddler had made it out to cheer me on at the final turn into the main gate back into the fairgrounds.

So with discouragement that they hadn’t been there and the smells of grease fryers firing up for the final day, I hit my wall. The pace runner zipped passed me, and as much as I tried to pick myself up, I simply couldn’t.

I tried self-talk. I was digging deep. But I could feel vomit coming up the back of my throat. And then I got a whiff of urinal cakes — you know, those nasty things they put in the port-a-potties to make them smell less gross or to cover up the odor. Whatever it is for, it gagged me.

Then I heard one of the vendors cheering us on while they were warming up their fryer. I know he meant well, but I wanted to stop and smack the crap out of him. “One more turn and you’ve got it,” he says. To me, it was a sneer. The very smell of food that sends me to the emergency room was doing me in. Food he was making to sell. Ugh. At this point, I couldn’t find my positive self talk. Every bit of energy was directed to my attempt to NOT vomit.

A couple came up beside me and the husband pointed out to the wife that the woman in the red shirt was just a little bit ahead.

“Let’s pass her,” he says.

“I can’t,” was all the wife can muster.

I’m with her, I think. I feel like that last part of child labor. I’ve checked out. It’s over. I’m done investing any more physically or mentally, and I’m only going through the motions.

But the woman picks up her pace anyway.

I think to myself I am certain I won’t pass the woman with the sign, but I can definitely go somewhat faster.

I do.

I watch the lovely couple pass the pace runner, who slows down significantly as she comes to the finish line. They finish, but the pace runner seems to be stopping.

Oh, she went too fast, I think. She has to wait. 

But then she crosses over.

Disappointment sinks in. My feet slow.

Then I hear someone to my left yelling, “There’s still time!”

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Biting my lip as I pick up my pace for the last time before the finish. I finished 10th in my age group! 

I am about 30 yards from the finish and I see four numbers, and all I know is the first number is a 5. So I run as fast as I’m able.

I don’t look at the timer. I just run.

As I clear the finish line, I head for a seat and a bottled water. I finish the water, call my husband, grab another water and start walking to my car.

I don’t know if I did it, I say.

You did it, he said.

Yep, I was a pro at NOT puking that last half mile, I think. That’s what I did. 

When I pull in the driveway, I realize I have an unread text. I had recalled as I was crawling to the bench after the run that I got a notification on my phone. I thought it was notifying me of the race day. A little late, I thought.

But it was a text with my results: 59:33.

 

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