Prep week: Exercise

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Yesterday we talked about backtracking our steps and preparing for a successful family week. Preparation is a superpower you develop. I told you how to do that with family meals. Today, I want to show you how backtracking your steps can help you when you want to exercise. 

The internet is full of "afters" when it comes to exercise. I know I'm a big contributor to this trend. You see a photo of my friends and me after we completed a killer CrossFit workout. You see a photo of my friends and me after we ran 18 miles. You are probably thinking: first of all, it's too early in the morning. Second of all who does that? Third of all, why? Fourth of all, how in the world... 

I completely understand the questions and the feelings. When you see the "after" you are veiled from the before. 

My goal today is to show you all the steps I took to exercise. I want you to be aware that I developed this habit over the past 16 years. I started sitting on my couch, sick with high blood pressure. So let's assume that you are in the same situation.

Backtrack your steps • I knew I needed a change. Well, a big change. I wanted to live a long and healthy life. My doctor encouraged me to exercise. I grabbed the prescribed blood pressure pills. I committed to changing the way I eat. Exercise was the only missing piece. 

The way to backtrack my step was to start with the end. The end is your vision. I asked myself, "what is my vision?" 

I grabbed pen and paper and wrote: "One day I will enjoy exercising." 

These 6 words were the start of what you see now. 

Full disclosure: I didn't start that day. I think that day I just went on with my life. Writing my vision helped my brain start the process of aligning my current life with my aspired life. 

The next step was to use what I had. I had some old tennis shows. I didn't know exercise clothes existed so I put on cotton pants and a cotton t-shirt. Off I went. I started in my neighborhood. Incrementally, I increased the distance I was walking. 

I didn't have a step tracker, running watch or anything fancy. I used what I had. I incrementally started increasing the distance I was walking. 

Nowadays, if you are a person hoping to walk 3 miles for example, you can download a couch to 5K app. These types of programs give you all the micro-steps that will take you from your couch to completing a 3-mile walk or run. 

What if I want to go to a gym? There's a micro-step for that too! You can start by gathering information. You can ask questions about programs. Gyms are good about helping you get plugged in safely so you can reach your goals. 

The important thing is to find an activity that works for you. Use what you have. 

Discover your minimum • one of the best things that happened to me was the day I find out what my "minimum" was. My kids were little. We had recently arrived in Texas. I was excited about exercising but either the kids were sick or my schedule just didn't allow for exercise. I decided to experiment with the least amount of exercise I needed in order to still be successful in my health journey. I knew that 7 days of exercise is too much for me. I needed to rest. I discover that 3 days a week for at least 10 minutes is my minimum. If life is busy and I completely can't keep up with my ideal schedule, my minimum will give me the results I want. 

Everyone has a minimum. I encourage you to discover what your "minimum" is.  

Once you know your vision, start with what you have, and discover your minimum, we learn about the practical step of backtracking your clothes. 

I was fascinated by the triathlon community. My friend Rita was an experienced triathlete and an excellent mom of two. I couldn't understand how she got all her training in. One day, she told me she kept a back with all her clothes packed in the back of her car. This way, she didn't have to start from scratch every time she had a training session.

I was inspired. While tris were not my thing, I decided I could prepare my running oufits ahead of time. 

Every weekend, I'd set aside the following: 

• Shirt

• shorts or pants

• shoes

• socks 

• running bra 

Times 5. 

No matter how much sleep I had the night before, I had one less hurdle to conquer because all I needed to do was to dress in an already assembled workout outfit. 

It seems so simple yet it is quite effective. 

I still do this every weekend. When I'm folding laundry, I go ahead and assemble my workout outfits. 

What if I don't know what the temperature is? Great question. I look at the weather when I wake up (I step outside, really) and I have a few options ready to go for extra cold days. 

Now that I do CrossFit, I have a bag ready with everything I can possibly need. No matter if we are climbing ropes or running, I have everything I need right there. 

Preparation is a superpower you develop. I hope I inspired you to be part of the "after" club!  

Action steps:  1 • ask yourself: "what is my vision for exercise?" Write it down. 

2 • What do I have? Think about your current resources and start with what you have. 

3• What is your minimum? Experiment with the least amount of exercise that works for your body. The results come in handy during busy weeks. 

4 • Go ahead and assemble your outfits for the week. It will save you precious minutes before your workout.

You can also backtrack other things such as chores. How so? Come back next time and I'll tell you. 

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Prep Week: Family Meals

Monday, August 8, 2022

Preparation is a superpower you develop. I learned over the years that backtracking my steps towards my goal of having family meals saves me time and gives me the family experience I want to create. 

Backtrack your steps • let's say my goal is to have at least 4 family dinners this upcoming week. Here's the thing: I have a long commute before I get home. I may have kids' activities before dinner. How can I reach my goal of having a family dinner? In my case, I want it to be homemade. I also know that I have to make it myself. The way to backtrack is the following: find a few hours when I'm not busy the weekend before. Grab pen and paper and write a menu. Now that I have that information, I prep a few meals ahead. This past weekend I cooked spaghetti, rice and black beans, chicken and vegetable stew and grilled chicken. I go on to freeze these meals or to set them aside for designed use. Backtracking makes life easier. Suddenly, I'm not stressed during my commute because I know exactly what we are eating. It may take a few minutes to unfreeze and serve a homemade meal that will nourish my family. I can be at peace during afternoon kid activities because I don't need to get in line in the fast food drive-thru. I can be assured that my family has a healthy and delicious meal waiting for us. 

Action step: think about your goal for this week when it comes to meals. Backtrack your steps. Commit to planning and preparing those meals. Remember, it is about progress, not perfection. 

What if I don't cook? How can I backtrack my steps and make my meal time easier?

Here are the good news: grocery stores are wonderful things. They sell meals that are already ready to go. I often take advantage of them when I have little to no time to prep things. While I'd love to make homemade pizza, I lack time so I buy one. I've seen local grocery stores increase the variety of ready meals for diverse types of food preferences. I often buy a rotisserie chicken for quick meals (baked chicken with veggies and rice, chicken salad, chicken soup, etc). They sell boiled eggs ready to go. They sell salads that are already portioned and assembled. They sell chicken afredo. They have gluten-free and vegan options. When you do not cook or have no time, find the options that will make your life easier in your local grocery store.

I admire people who count on the community to help them prep ahead. I've heard of a group of friends getting together on a Saturday to prep freezer meals for a month. If you have that type of friendship, I'd take advantage of it. Even if you choose to prep 7 freezer meals, the time together will be rich in so many ways. There are multiple internet sites with such recipes ready to go. I think any challenging project becomes easier when a group of friends is involved. 

I wanted to talk about food because it is so relevant to our lives. 

You can also backtrack other things such as exercise. How so? Come back next time and I'll tell you. 

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Sunday Seven

Sunday, August 7, 2022

During times of change, I ask myself "What if I give myself to...?" often. 

1 • What if I give myself to... CrossFit? I'd stop being double
-minded about training. My focus becomes honing the skills that will lead me to my CrossFit goals. I still run and I will still love running. Come to find out, giving myself to CrossFit made me a better runner.

2 • What if I give myself to... the Bible? This past week, I had 10 hours available to listen to something. I decided to listen to the Bible. I found my soul was anchored in Christ. My heart was at peace. I saw details I missed during my times of reading and studying passages. When I give myself to the Bible, I gain more than I can ever give because God is generous beyond measure.

3 • What if I give myself to... my family? I had to say no to good opportunities that would take time away from my family. When I give myself to my family they get the best of me, not the rest of me. I want to be a good steward of the family God gave me. Love and nurture are spelled like this: T-I-M-E. There will be time for outside endeavors later on in life. For now, I'm giving my entire self to my people.

4 • What if I give myself to... preparation? Preparation for the upcoming week is my superpower. I decided that when I look at our schedule and prepare to succeed, life becomes smoother. When I give myself to laundry, food prep and other necessities, even busy seasons become sweeter. Preparation does not need to look pretty or perfect. It just needs to happen.

5 • What if I give myself to... self-care? I will be hydrated. I can't tell you how much the simple act of drinking water saved me from feeling awful lately. I will exercise. The body God gave me works better when I get stronger. That same body works better when I sleep enough hours at night.

6 • What if I give myself to... prayer. Simply put: God invades my earthly circumstances.

7 • What if I give myself to... God? I find that He will lead me and guide me in the way I should go. 

I encourage you to answer the "what if I give myself to..." question.

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Sunday Seven

Monday, August 1, 2022

1 • It takes years for seeds to sprout. There's no such thing as a quick harvest. Parenting is a slow process. I need God's wisdom, persistence, resilience, and a great sense of humor. Also, I need the tea kettle ready to go along with a few recipes for quick bread. 

2 • God is faithful to His children. Even in difficult seasons, He shows Himself faithful day after day. I'm encouraged to trust Him and befriend faithfulness this season. 

3 • God often touches one of His children to let you know everything is going to be okay when you feel forgotten and invisible. I call these angels "friends."

4 • This summer went by speedily. I'd say, we all enjoyed it so much. God allowed us to spend a lot of quality time together. It was peaceful, fruitful, and filled with great discoveries. 

5 • It is not time to give up on big goals. I know January was a long time ago but today is a great day to keep going. I had a big reading goal that got derailed with my move to Georgia. I decided to start back today. Sometimes, that's the toughest part: starting back again. If I can do it, so can you.

6 • God really pays attention to every detail in your life. He hears every word you pray. He answers because He cares. He's better than we allow ourselves to fathom. It is good to raise our expectations to His level of goodness. The only way to do that is to do things His way, starting by reading and studying His word. 

7 • The kids and I are pretty much parked in the Shema. Shema means "hear" in Hebrew. In the Jewish faith, it is made up of these Scriptures: Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21; Numbers 15:37–41. We challenged one another to recite Deuteronomy 6:4-5 each morning and night. This all started as a challenge to include the Bible in our everyday lives. Each kid talked about how they'd do it and how they'd remember to do it. We are reciting part of the Shema in the morning and at night as a group. It has been so good to start the day with the correct confession of who God is by Himself and for us. Then we confess what we hope to that day and with our lives: love the Lord our God to the uttermost. I hope the kids experience God through the Bible as much as they can for the rest of their lives. For now, we are enjoying each moment we delight in God's word together as a family.

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Camp Listenbee 2022

Friday, July 29, 2022

 Camp Listenbee is coming to a close! We always start the summer speaking about the importance of being a good steward of time. 24 hours is what God gives us. We get to decide what to do with it. We need wisdom and a strategy to use our time wisely. I draw a pie chart and I use black beans because they are part of our cultural context. 

We kicked off the summer with the Renaissance Festival. It was our first time. It was a hot but fun day. We stayed hydrated and walked around mostly. The kids went to a ride and enjoyed it quite a bit. The people-watching aspect was pretty fantastic.

We spent quite a bit of time going to the library to get books and play games when we needed extra time there.
We could have driven to the pool but we decided to walk most days. It was a great way to include more activity in our days. The kids played water polo for the first time at the end of the season. Swimming in our neighborhood was a fun way to meet our neighbors.

Award season arrived too fast. These kids worked hard every day and we are eager to continue our journey as swimmers.

VBS was a blessing. I thought last year was the last one for my oldest two but no. New Hope has 6th grade with kids ministry, so the kids had another chance to experience VBS. They had a blast. We love VBS. I volunteered again. I try to volunteer every chance I get. My group was the missions group. We visited our church's garden. This ministry is unique, fruitful and much needed. It was so much fun!

Our friends, the Berry Family came to visit us on their way back to Texas. We had an AMAZING time with them. They are fundraising to go on their mission assignment. Join me in contributing to their efforts here in this link
Summers are for birthdays. We celebrated Zelia's birthday at the beginning of the summer. We had friends over for a birthday party. We all had fun! It's hard to believe that my youngest is 10 already.

We loved going to Crumbl cookies for the first time. I've given it to people as gifts but this was our first time trying. They were really all that jazz.

This summer we were all supposed to travel. My husband and I were going to a mission trip together but he went by himself because of a change of plans for me. The kids went to grandma camp with my sister. We all had a great experience. We prefer to be together. Being apart will become the norm as the kids grow and go pursue God's purpose. For now, we're hip to hip as I like to call it.

A long-awaited dream for the kids was to meet Ricky Dillard. His 34th-year anniversary concert was in our hometown so we all went. We're fans. Zeke has been blessed to write for Ricky for a few years. The kids loved meeting him in person. He's a good guy. He is the best at what he does and a very encouraging brother in Christ. You can find his music here.
My sweet second baby is 12! Her birthday is the last kid birthday of the year and the last summer birthday too. On top of the celebrations, we had a program and a tea in her honor. We called it "a young lady according to God's own heart." It was sweet and a blessing to us all!

We closed the summer with a goal-setting activity at a local coffee shop. The Fall will be here before we know it. We always set Fall goals because if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time" as Zig Ziglar said. We set goals in the following categories: academics, savings, faith, and new. Academic goals are the grades and habits we want to cultivate during the school year. Savings goals are goals for our money. Faith goals are spiritual disciplines we want to develop. New is something new want to try whether it is a sport or something new we want to do. I also set goals with the kids. We spoke about how we can encourage one another as we set and pursue these goals.
We had a chance to do so many other things. Now we live closer to our family we visited with them more than we normally would. What blessing! We spent time with friends from church. We had the pleasure of visiting the Atlanta Aquarium and we visited the Olympic Park with an Olympian! God truly blessed us with some amazing friends and mentors at our church.

We're still adapting to our new hometown but thus far, the Lord blessed us with a peaceful and friendly neighborhood and neighbors. We're wanted, loved and treasured. We are reciprocating the same towards everyone. I believe that the summer is more than a time to consume endless fun. It is a time to live what God calls us to do. It is a time to learn. It is a time to love. It is a time to live God's purpose as a blessing in action in the lives of people around us.

Thank God for creating summers.

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