New Beginnings

So I disappeared because I worked full-time in December. In retail. On my feet. It was crazy and I had to let some things go and blogging was one of those.

Now a new year has come and I have been introspective. That’s just me. We have had a “bit” of snow, unusually cold weather, and more time indoors, Thank heavens for Pilates and my dog, Tucker, who make sure I get exercise.

I have decided to change things up here a bit. Be more authentic, which means bringing my faith into things a bit more. I don’t think you can be “fit” physically without being fit spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and relationally…or pursuing that. So my posts will begin reflecting that.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what you are doing for your new beginnings of the new year. My big decision is just yo do things that scare me(I am a worrier so this definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone). How about you?

What I Learned about Life from taking a Pilates Reformer Class

Last Monday I got to do something I had been dying to do for two years: take a private Reformer class. And, for those curious about what a Reformer looks like, here is an example:

The instructor lives in a beautiful loft apartment in my town and teaches there to keep costs affordable. I love that! I was excited and nervous about going but mostly eager to be learning something new and getting some hands-on instruction to use in my personal mat practice.

This sweet lady got on to demonstrate and told me I would be doing some innocent sounding exercises called “footwork.” Piece of cake, right? Well, except for the fact that this is Pilates so every exercise is designed to be total body and is never simple.

I loved the lesson and can say I was a bit sore for two days after that! And the biggest takeaway for me was this: Nothing is as easy as it appears to be.

We often watch other people flow through life. Things seem easy and success effortless. But there are always hours of learning, re-learning, sweating, and shaking that precedes any change.

If you are doing Pilates “right,” your entire mind and body are engaged and in the moment. And so it is with life off the mat. But the time spent to learn how to do something right is crucial to living your best life.

So please, don’t compare yourself to others. Try something new. Let yourself be a beginner. And live in deep satisfaction of soul that comes from knowing that you experienced the adventure of being yourself.

What lessons are you learning lately? Head over to my Facebook page and let me know.

Why I love Pilates

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A few people have asked how I came to Pilates. It’s a long story but I thought I would share it here so you can be encouraged to keep moving and find something that works for you. And so you will know that what works will change over the course of your life…and that is okay.

I started exercising in the early 1990s. I was in my late 20s and noticed some weight “creep” and the spandex and lycra leotard group was the rage. I joined a women only gym where we jumped and pranced and ran in place to thumping music. Then we entered the step aerobics craze. This time, we jumped up and down and around our aerobics step. All the while ignoring the important components of weight training and flexibility training.

Somehow in my mid-thirties, my body began to change yet again. I was aging, had three pregnancies and births under my belt, and just had less time and energy for a gym and high-impact aerobics. I began to lift weights and still do my cardio and my body composition totally changed. I looked fitter and firmer. Now mind you, I was still pounding the heck out of my joints with high impact, but I could still take it.

In my forties, I began running to cross-train. And that was fun for a bit(except for the near constant shin splints I had.) I have issues with my flat feet and back curvature that really don’t like all the jumping and pounding. But I thought that was what exercise entailed. And I was a “go hard or go home” person.

So I entered my late forties about twenty pounds heavier and full of aching joints. I hobbled if I sat too long and my hips ached nearly constantly. And I was always nursing some sort of injury. I changed my diet and tried barre for a bit. I lost the weight but now my knees ached, along with my hips. I was discouraged and thinking that exercise should not have to hurt to be effective.

I had tried Pilates in the past but thought it was too easy to be effective. Remember, I was a “go-big” person. A friend told me about Lisa Pentony of Pilates By Lisa and an upcoming challenge she was hosting, complete with a meal plan and online support. I figured a month couldn’t cause me too much weight gain if I decided to lie down and work out, right?

Oh, how wrong I was! In that month my clothing got looser (and I really didn’t’ follow the meal plan at all), my energy soared, and, most remarkable of all, I no longer hurt. Soon I could sit cross-legged on the floor again. I had absolutely zero pains in my hips and low back. I was amazed.

The best part was having a trainer in Australia who was super-responsive to any question I had. Over the two years I’ve done her workouts, she has honestly become a good friend and I even had the privilege of meeting her last November when she was in America. It was seriously like meeting up with an old friend.

Today I walk and do Pilates. That’s pretty much it. I feel good and still fit in my clothing. 😉 And I am just so disheartened when people say they’re exhausted from going to the gym or running all the time.

The thing is, you don’t have to hurt to be healthy and fit. You just need to find the thing that causes you to feel good. Yes, our bodies were made to move. And maybe yours was made to run, unlike mine. That’s fantastic. But above all, I want us to all experience a mind shift. Fitness and exercise should be about taking care of ourselves so we can live our lives fully, abundantly, and with joy. Exercise isn’t the goal:  living life is. So I encourage you to find that type of movement that lets you do just that.

How do you like to move and stay healthy? Drop me a line and share your thoughts, tips, or journey with me. I love hearing from you.

Oh, PS~If you try Pilates with Lisa, be prepared to be humbled. She does have a free 10-day trial and a fantastic beginners series. You can get 10% off your first payment with the coupon code MEMBER.

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Why I Strength Train

 Women’s wars are a thing now, aren’t they? Mommy wars about how to feed children, co-sleeping, and working vs non-working moms abound. Vegan vs Paleo, cardio vs strength training, cross-fit vs yoga,  Republican vs Democrat, and so on. And I say enough!

You can find dozens of articles out there to support your side. I could give you scientific reasons why I favor Pilates and my weights over lots of cardio. But here’s the thing: I’m not a scientist or fitness pro. I’m just a woman in her 50s who has exercised since her late 20s who has tried it all on her self. A certified experiment of one. So today I’ll share with my beliefs about why I think building some muscle is great.

 

When I  first started to exercise in my late 20s, I wanted to lose some unwanted pounds. And life was all about cardio then. I joined a gym and we put on our spandex leotards and did step aerobics or floor cardio, jumping around like crazy. Other friends ran. And life was good. The pounds left and I felt better.

But fast forward to my mid-30s. Marriage and three babies later, I was tired and my weight had shifted. And cardio was a burden. I heard about strength training and tried some weight work at my gym. My weight went UP a few pounds and my clothing size went DOWN. And, cardio seemed easier. That was a total eye-opener for me.

In my late 40s, things changed again. I was still using weights, but my body ached. And I was about 20 pounds heavier. Clearly, something had to change. And a lot of that was what and how I ate…which is another post. But I realized all those years of high-impact jumping had taken a toll on me. So I changed how I exercised(switched to barre and Pilates) how and when I ate. And lost the weight and healed my body of the achiness.

Today I focus on Pilates and walking. And even though I am about 8  pounds “heavier” than my lowest cardio-craze weight, I wear a smaller size in clothing. My sleep is better. My anxiety has improved (I have struggled with anxiety off and on all my life). I am more relaxed and can sit on the floor and bend and squat at work with the 21-year-olds. And health markers actually improved over doing lots of intense weight and cardio work.

If you look at the studies, they will tell you the following about strength training:

  1. It increases muscle mass
  2. It increases bone density~adding more muscle to your skeleton increases its load so bones are stimulated to strengthen and grow
  3. It improves strength
  4. It improves cardiovascular endurance
  5. It improves your mood

 

All of which I personally experienced. And that’s why I love it so much.

Do you strength train? What type is your favorite? Let me hear your ideas and your stories about strength workouts. And tell me your favorite way to exercise. I love hearing from you.

The Nike Slogan, or “Just Do It”

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When it comes to exercise, we all have excuses. I don’t know how, what will I do, what if I get hurt, I don’t have time…I’ve heard them all and honestly it perplexed me for years. Exercise is like brushing my teeth. I feel so much better and it is just one of the most pleasant parts of my day that I couldn’t relate to these thoughts.

Now mind you, I never SAID that to anyone. I just smiled, listened, and nodded sympathetically. Following my husband in his pastoral ministry for 22 years means that I’ve learned the sympathetic ear, nod, and diplomacy pretty well. 😉 Okay, those are actually pretty much parts of my personality too. 😀

Then things changed for me. My husband transitioned out of full-time ministry MUCH earlier than we expected. And not as we had hoped. It was one of those “thank you for your service here are your options” type of situations. I have a daughter going into her sophomore year of college, a son who is pretty much independent from us (but who we help with things occasionally), and another son who is 17 and has two years of high school left. HOMESCHOOL, people.Which means a mom at home, right?

My husband and I made the decision for me to seek part-time employment to supplement things while he decides what he will do next. So now I’ve been looking for jobs with a 23 year gap in my employment history on my resume.

So what does all this have to do with exercise? Fear. What if I can’t find work, how do I start, where do I look, what if I get rejected, fail, etc? Suddenly, I get the fear of exercise! All the things I feel about job hunting are what you may feel about moving your body.

So what have I done? The Nike slogan has been mine lately: Just Do It. I have had rejections, yes. Some leads, yes. Some opportunities, yes. Some I don’t like, others I do. But nothing would have happened if I hadn’t first reached out to people, told them my situation, asked for advice and then done something.

So today, do something to change things. Lace up your shoes and take a walk for 10 minutes. Research a type of exercise you’ve always wanted to try. Ask a friend to go to a class with you. Admit the fear, and feel it.

Then be brave and do it anyway.

 

Moving On Part 2: Recharging Your Batteries

I love the word rejuvenation. It’s a fancy way of saying, “make sure you refresh and recharge yourself.” I think of this like a rechargeable battery. When the batteries get low in something, especially if that something is a TV remote, crankiness ensues. 😉 So you take the batteries out, place them in the charger, and let them get fill back up to optimum level.  The same is true for people, especially when the stress of life and moving is added in.
I discussed rest first because it is the foundation for recharging in many ways. That’s because keeping up your energy for moving tasks means you must care for your body mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

I want to highlight two parts of recharging yourself physically: Food and Fitness.

Hear me out. Being super busy often means putting your personal care in last place. We often end up running out for fast food, grabbing snacks from vending machines, going out for goodbye meals or parties, and drinking lots of sugary drinks for energy and caffeine. But doing that leads to big crashes.  Then you end up being someone who is more of a HARM than a HELP to your family and friends who are trying to help. Trust me on this one.

Which do you want to be: HARM-ful (Hungry, Angry, Resentful, Melancholy) or HELPful(Hopeful, Energetic, Long-lasting, Prepared)? Yeah, me too!

So here are a few quick tips regarding food and fitness I’ve learned the hard way that are now non-negotiable during a move. I hope they help you in dealing with stress, moves, or just living a busy life.

FOOD

  1. Water  Go ahead and get a bottle out and make sure you are drinking regularly. During the day prior to the move and the few days after, I splurge on store-bought water bottles so there are no excuses and no one gets dehydrated and cranky.
  2. Snacks  Make sure you have plenty of healthy things to grab on hand. Moving can cause you to put off eating and then get ravenous. Fruit, nuts, nut butters, veggies, and yogurt are easy to pack and save you from grabbing a candy bar or wasting time running out to the Golden Arches.  On moving day have a cooler of food handy at all times.
  3. Rule of Three  I make sure every meal or snack I put in my mouth contains a mix of carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein. An apple with almond butter will sustain you far longer than an apple alone.  It’s a good rule to practice in daily life and makes food and food preparation simple and tasty.
  4. Limit Caffeine  This is a toughie but in the long run, one coffee per day is far better than sucking down tons of soda and coffee. Plus, the extra sugar will make you feel really tired. I have been there and done that.

 

FITNESS

Here is my 10-10-10 exercise plan that is non-negotiable for stressful, busy times. I promise you that if you expend some energy exercising, you will actually gain more energy.  It doesn’t make sense but just try it and see.

  1. Ten Minute Walk   Get out of the house! Go outside and walk. Vent, cry, express gratitude, or just be silent. This change of pace, scenery, and energy will make you feel so much better and your focus to tasks at hand will be sharper.
  2. Ten Minutes of Pilates  There is a reason I practice Pilates: it moves the body as it’s supposed to move and keeps me from excessive injury and strain. If it’s not your thing fine…but commit to ten minutes of your favorite movement.
  3. Ten Minutes of Stretching  While unwinding before bed, in front of the TV, or some other time, stretch your muscles. They will feel better and the stretching will bring you energy as you take the time to focus and breathe.
  4. Bonus: Ten Minute Break  Every hour, refocus for ten minutes or so. Stretch, walk, read, chat, etc. You need to change what you’re doing so you can come back to if feeling re-energized.

 

What are your tips and tricks to deal with a move, busyness, and stress? Let me know as I’d love to learn from you. If you try any of my tips be sure to tell me how they work for you.

 

 

Moving Mindfully

We all know it. Exercise matters. But how many of us actually have a consistent fitness routine? 

I began exercising in my late 20s to get off unwanted pounds. Somewhere along the way all the Jane Fonda Abs and Step Reebok videos changed my why.  I continued the routine because of how I felt. Alive. Having fun. Less stressed. Happier.

But none of that happened off the bat. Honestly, none of it happened until I found Step workouts-they were just fun to me. It felt like a reward, like play, to pull the step out and pop that tape in.

In the 25 years since, the how and what of movement have changed. My body has aged. I have had three children. My needs and my definition of fun are poles apart from that 27 year old me jumping on an aerobic step. But my why is the same. Because I feel better. Am happier. And I still like to play.

So find exercise that brings you joy. Stick with it. And reward yourself for the baby steps you take. 
PS My things these days are dog walks and Pilates. My at-home streaming instructor is Lisa Pentony of Pilates by Lisa. She has a fun, month-long challenge starting Monday, if you want to try it out. The code MEMBER will give you 10% off your first month. Lots of prizes, articles, E-book, live chats, etc. So much fun! Let me know if you try it out. Your first 10 days is free! 

Smoothie Bowls!

I admitted my Almond Butter and dark chocolate obsession. I am also addicted to smoothie bowls. My go-to breakfast for sure. Quick, easy, and healthy-while satisfying my sweet tooth. 

Must bowls have lots of sugar via fruit. I love those but wanted something filling yet low in sugar. But still creamy and indulgent.

Enter frozen cauliflower. I have been experimenting with replacing frozen bananas with cauliflower and it’s great. Still creamy but with less sugar and a nutritional boost of a  cruciferous vegetable. Win-Win.

Here is a recipe I found via Simply Quinoa and tweaked to my liking. Check out Alyssa’s site for great recipes. 

Dark Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate coconut milk
  • 1 cup spinach or kale
  • 2 Tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 scoop Designer Whey Chocolate Protein Powder (works fine without this)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower 
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries (cherries , strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a combo)

Place in the order listed and blend until the consistency you like. If you don’t have a Blendtech(I have a refurbished one I love), Vitamix, or high powered blender, mix the liquid and greens together first and then add the other ingredients. I do this most of the time out of habit from owning a Magic Bullet and then Ninja and like how it eliminates any small particles of greens. 

Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite fruit, chia seeds granola, etc. My bowl had gluten-free granola with cacao nibs, peanut butter, and frozen blueberries. Yummy!

Why Almond Butter Babe?

After 25 years of exercising, making strides then having setbacks, and trying everything out there,  I realized how little I knew my body because of how much I listened to the “experts”. I heard other women talk about how they wanted to be healthy…but had no idea how or what that meant. And, quite frankly, having graduated two children from homeschool and having one who will be a junior next fall, I finally had time to blog. Thus Almond Butter Babe was born.

I love to exercise. After lots of trial and error, causing many injuries, weight gain, and frustration along the way, I am learning to listen to my body.  Nourish myself.  Live life and enjoy indulging. But it’s been a long journey.

I now know that it’s okay to love iced coffee and dark chocolate. To be obsessed with almond butter. That the best thing you can wear is your smile. I’ve discovered Self-confidence is what makes a woman shine, and that real food can taste fabulous.  And life is about far more than having that elusive six-pack.

So come back often. Share your thoughts. And let’s learn from one another.

Now excuse me while I get some iced coffee…and a bit of almond butter.