Updates!

baby-sophie

I’ve been really neglecting this blog, but writing the Proverbs 31 study hasn’t stopped for me (even though it’s stopped online), it’s just taking a different avenue than I expected as there’s been a request to tailor it to police wives specifically.  So I’m writing (offline) two different books essentially, one that will hopefully be in our family for however long the children and grandchildren value it, and another that may go on to be for police wives all over the country.

So you’ll start to see the posts in this series being removed and no longer available online here.  They’ve been up for months and months so hopefully anyone who was interested has gotten something out of them, and if someone wants the ending posts, just comment or send an email to let me know.

I haven’t officially posted about this here yet, but all of our “real life” friends and family are already aware – I’m 6 months pregnant with our 3rd baby, and IT’S A GIRL!!!!

With that in mind, the Proverbs 31 series, which was written primarily for our own family and future little ones (children and grandchildren hopefully), we are OVER THE MOON to have this opportunity to raise a girl.  Raising boys into strong, godly and fierce men is extremely important, and I’d say raising girls into virtuous women that fiercely hold onto their beliefs in this culture is equally as important, and it’s great that this study/book for our family will have a feminine reader when she’s ready!

I had kind of thought honestly that I’d have to wait until we had grandchildren to get a girl in our family, so this was unexpected, a little scary, but VERY much welcomed!

So after the posts disappear, I’ll probably get back to writing here on various topics concerning anti-feminism, etc.  My husband’s expressed interested in writing more as well, which is so exciting for me personally – he has the greatest ideas and I love that he’ll be expressing them here.  It will be a place where his thoughts on these times we’re in will be recorded so that our sons (and daughter and maybe our grandchildren) will be able to read and understand how he reacted to things during this strange time in America.  I’m planning on printing all his posts and keeping them in a binder (or just having them professionally bound later on when they’re “completed”).  I think it’s great to have them here, too, because anyone else that is interested (not part of our family obviously), will have access to them.

It will be like history for our family in a way, to be able to read and know intimately what our Patriarch thought!  Just so awesome!

 

And random news:  I’ve started a new blog a few months ago about fitness, and especially focused on fitness for women who want to stay in the best shape possible even after having multiple children.  Disclaimer: It shows a lot of women in bikinis :/ it’s just the best way to look at body percentage fat, etc. and is a woman’s blog intentionally.  So if lots of skin bothers you, it’d be better for you to avoid it altogether.  That blog is especially important to me in regards to our coming daughter – her perspective on fitness, the perils of being overweight, and how our culture is becoming more and more insane in almost every dimension (but especially in regards to unhealthy choices), are all extremely important issues to us.  We want her to understand the lies behind “body-shaming,” and “fat acceptance,” and come into adulthood with a healthy and godly mindset that acknowledges what true fitness really is and looks like for women.

I want her to understand how hard it is to keep fit over the course of her lifetime, but also how rewarding it is for her to do so!  I want her to be compassionate toward others who are failing in this area of their lives, but also strong in her beliefs that being overweight is not “good” or “ok” for people, or even God’s best for them.

So every post there, is written in mind for her to read it in the future.

Read if you dare 😉

THE FIT YOU

Advertisements

Christians Aren’t Called to “Have Great Sex” – They’re Called to Have Bad Sex

A couple of years ago, Relevant Magazine did an article telling their Christian audience that they were not “called to have great sex in marriage.”

I read it because a friend that was in a serious relationship had recommended it, but I was very bothered by what I found.  The article presented some truths for sure, one being that sex is not what marriage is all about, and this is right of course, if you marry only for sex and don’t seek a partner that has good character then you are in for a difficult marriage (and the good sex will quickly disappear).  But in Relevant Magazine’s attempt to help marriages, they missed the point of sex being one of the most important things in a marriage, and often the glue that holds a marriage together.

Why was the article written to help marriages in such a way that it actually discourages Christian couples from having “amazing” sex?

It was a response to a very strange article by a millennial woman, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, about how her virginity (her desire to remain abstinent until marriage), actually ruined the sex in her marriage.  Relevant Mag links to her article, and tries to say that:

While the movement is great at detailing— and exaggerating—the benefits of saving sex for marriage, it is dishonest about the challenges abstinence presents to couples who eventually tie the knot.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/christians-are-not-called-have-amazing-sex#go0He8SXx5qZE8bh.99

In more careful reading of the linked article written by Jessica about how her virginity ruined her future marriage, it was fairly shocking for my husband and I to read the level of disdain she held toward her young husband, even on their honeymoon.  She had no interest in sex, no desire to learn about how to make it better, no desire for it with her husband (even though she did desire it while they were dating), and in my husband’s words, “she completely undermined the possibility of their marriage by checking out of their sex life.”  She admit it herself that she caused the problem, it was like she became an a-sexual being overnight, and wanted nothing to do with being sensual – to her marriage’s detriment!  But then she blames the abstinence movement for her lack of motivation to learn together with her husband, or to try new things.  As soon as she divorced her husband, she writes that she became sexual again.

This was not a case of the abstinence movement being “dishonest” about the challenges couples who marry without sexual experience will face, this is a case of a person in a marriage who is not putting forth the right attitude, desire, and effort to create a good sex life.

Her entire focus, however, is that her abstinence pledge that was supposed to create a “strong marraige,” only led to a “quick divorce.”

*

Relevant Mag needed to point out the real issues couples who wait until marriage to have sex may have, but also the attitude, willingness, and desire to fix her marriage sex life (or even participate in it) that was completely missing from Jessica as a Christian woman.

Instead of the message being: abstinence creates issues, and you’re not called to have great sex anyway; it could have more effectively been:

Abstinence may create issues, that happens when both partners don’t know much about a subject (sex), but in a good marriage, you will constantly face trials like this in many different areas (money, in-laws, job changes, deaths, miscarriages) and have to figure out how to overcome them.

It comes down to a willingness to learn and love each other.  Instead of checking out of your sex life just because it isn’t what you imagined, working to create a beautiful sex life, is the path to take.

 

A Woman’s Attractiveness Reflects on Her Husband’s Appeal, Talent and Ability

steph in fall

I had one of the most interesting comments last week by Object of Contempt, wondering how keeping passionate love, romance, and a woman’s attractiveness alive and well in a marriage are intertwined with each other, and if they are at all supported in Scripture.  He admitted that most women don’t seem to have a problem with wanting to be attractive, but for the women who are extremely against it, are there any biblical passages that show it’s important to God?

His main question was how a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

These are all really great questions, and this is a sensitive issue for many women, especially in our current day culture.

Let’s tackle the notion of attractiveness first:

Like I said in Men Need an Attractive Wife,

Most men really do value having a wife that is attractive.

It’s not shallow that they want to show you off, it’s not shallow that even just looking at you and knowing that you’re their’s makes them feel proud of you.

It’s just the way God designed the male nature.

_____________________________________________________

 

It is, in large part, a reflection on the man, what his wife looks like.

This is where the topic gets a little more serious.  When a woman takes care of her appearance and tries to look her best for her husband, she is helping her marriage to flourish by giving her husband respect.  Keeping herself attractive for him shows him how much she respects, honors, and admires him.  In other words, she wouldn’t dare let herself go because not only does she respect herself too much, but she knows her appearance reflects on who he is as a man and as her husband.

When a woman refuses to be and remain attractive to her husband in the way that he likes, when she gains weight after marriage or never loses her pregnancy weight, it is almost as if she is sending him the message that he deserves a woman who looks unattractive.  That he can’t or couldn’t do better.  When she refuses to be attractive to him, she is saying that she doesn’t care about his visual needs, that she disrespects the man that he is.

 

One of my favorite books, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes, describes this phenomenon quite well,

Paul reminds us, “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)…

Have you ever noticed how a man who enjoys hunting likes to display his catch?  A great blue marlin is mounted over a mantel, a five-point deer head emerges from a wall, a stuffed greenhead mallard proudly tops a desk. All this is to say, “Hey, guys, look at what I caught. Eat your heart out.”

There’s nothing your husband would like more than to flaunt his attractive wife out in public.  He may not mount you on the wall (let’s hope not), but when he walks into a room with you at his side, he wants to say, “Hey, look what I caught.  She’s all mine.  Eat your heart out!”  I daresay, when you walked down the aisle on your wedding day, that’s exactly what he was thinking!

“When a man has an attractive wife, it says he has the appeal and talent that deserve someone of her caliber.

When a man’s wife let’s herself become unattractive, the message comes across loud and clear that he couldn’t get someone better and probably deserves her.  He has little to offer, the world decides, and he attracts little in return.”

The Bible reminds us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  The truth remains… man looks at the outward appearance.

Of course, I don’t think most women who let themselves become unattractive want to reflect badly on their husbands, or even understand that not trying to be attractive makes their husbands feel as if they don’t care about them.  Many times I believe women just think that men act and feel like women – that outer looks don’t matter to them as much as it truly often does.

But men (most men) are wired to like looking at a beautiful woman – and it makes them ecstatic if their wife is attractive to them!  They want their wives to make an effort to be attractive for all these reasons, and yes, Object of Contempt is right that it directly encourages passionate love and romance to flourish in a man’s heart toward his wife.

Object of Contempt rightly points out that a woman making an effort in her attractiveness is doing her part to maintain passionate love and even romance in their marriage:

I think, however, that it is part of the vows to do what you can to maintain passionate love. Being attractive is part of that. I also think it is possible to make yourself be in love with someone (having done it myself). There are limits, of course. Romance and passion are often dismissed in christian teaching about marriage, just like attractiveness and beauty are. I suspect this is partially the cause for the attractiveness issue.

____________________________________________________

The second part of Object of Contempts question: How would a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

Will be discussed in the next post!

Morning Adventures

fall2015 200

Yesterday morning, we went for a walk at one of our old haunts and favorite places.  It’s an outdoor mall in our city that I’ve been coming to for years.  The mall actually had it’s opening day on my birthday back in 2005, and has a rich history of our particular romance & love story.

It was a nice, cooler-than-it-looked day, and the beauty of the surroundings, especially in the late morning lighting, was just captivating to me.  You’d think after so many years, it would feel too familiar, but the familiarity seems to only endear me to it even more so.

fall2015 198

I think it’s good to get kids out to see the beauty of nature, whether it’s hiking, swimming in a lake or the ocean, walking on a trail or the beach, it’s just one of those things that replenishes my own joy and happiness… but seeing them enjoy it – seeing the baby captivated by the different sounds and sights of nature, is really incredible!

fall2015 212

The flowers everywhere still in bloom, the greenery, the vines cascading down from the roofs of the buildings… just a breathtaking place to be in the morning.  Definitely changes one’s attitude or mood if needed.

fall2015 209 fall2015 210

I was talking to a sweet, older gentleman yesterday about how we’re having such a late fall here in Texas.  Everything still looks slightly like Summer, but we’re enjoying the cooler weather, me in particular, getting to wear sweaters and boots finally.

fall2015 217 fall2015 216 fall2015 218 fall2015 219 fall2015 220 fall2015 221 fall2015 222 fall2015 223

I loved seeing this couch with the holiday pillows and wine glasses.  Reminds me of Christmas and cocktail parties that come in December.

fall2015 227 fall2015 235

This red chair, along with the holiday pillow, makes it’s own statement.  So much style.

fall2015 230 fall2015 231 fall2015 232 fall2015 233 fall2015 234

And then we went to our favorite cooking store, when you open the doors, the intoxicating smell of delicious foods overwhelm you for a moment and leave your mouth watering.

fall2015 240 fall2015 237 fall2015 238 fall2015 239 fall2015 254

This woman was in the middle of cooking a delicious turkey meal, giving us some samples of Thanksgiving delights for a quick brunch.

fall2015 243 fall2015 244

We have a special area my older son always loved to go see, it has clocks that tell the time of different places around the world.  We used to love going to the section and staring at the different times, and I’d explain to him what the people were probably doing in that part of the world – sleeping, eating dinner, or just waking up!  It was a romantic exercise 🙂

fall2015 245 fall2015 246 fall2015 247 fall2015 248 fall2015 249 fall2015 250

I’m using my father’s camera now.  My mom thought it was a good idea to give it to me since he hasn’t (and probably won’t) be ever using it again. 😥  It took me a while before even wanting to take it out of the box. It’s a nice camera… but using it was an admission that there’s something really wrong with him, that he’s not the same as he used to be.

It does take better pictures than my old one, and maybe a part of him can be memorialized in the beauty it captures.  But it’s still a tragic change to me.

fall2015 251 fall2015 252 fall2015 253

Beauty Basics – Fall & Winter Skincare

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No make-up, fresh skin, that’s wearable in the early mornings of Fall and Winter, is something that I used to not be able to do.  Summer skin seems to retain more moisture and oil naturally, making going make-up free almost preferable.  Who wants their makeup sliding off in the heat?  But with the dry, cracked, or acne-prone skin of Winter?  It’s a whole different ball-game!

As I’m getting nearer and nearer to being in my 30’s, I am embracing the peacefulness of feeling literally more comfortable in my bare-faced skin.  I love it!  ❤ I love the minimalist approach.

Of course, there are things I do though, that help me to feel this confident when make-up free.  Here are some things I’ve done over the years that have been proven to create skin that doesn’t need makeup.

Fall & Winter Skin Care Tips

  • Wash face with cleansing wash or basic face soap every day, I wash in the morning and at night
  • Wash with a specifically gentle exfoliant once every day.  I currently use a giant bottle of The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash by Philosophy.  It’s the 32 oz, and lasts for about a year.
  • Use a thick, anti-oxidant rich moisturizer or even a basic oil (Castor Oil works like a dream and is extremely inexpensive) to sleep in at night.  Only use the oil a couple of times a week.
  • Take Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules to repair skin from the inside-out during the dryness of Winter, this also benefits your hair, making it grow faster than normal.
  • Get enough sleep!  It’s amazing to me, how much our bodies repair even minuscule damage done each and every day by free radicals that affect how we age.  If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies literally do not have enough time to repair all the damage accrued in the day.  Sleep is one of the best anti-aging secrets then, and you really can’t make-up for lost sleep during the week, by trying to sleep extra hours over the weekend.  Our bodies just don’t work like that.  Get enough sleep each night, and wake up to healthy, beautiful, glowing skin.

Single Men: Your Girlfriend Should Not Want to Change You

conflictlove

This should be common knowledge, but apparently, many single guys (and girls) get involved with people that are not quite all that they would want their future spouse to be.  And so they embark on some strange journey of trying to “help” them, or change them into their fantasy person.

I’ve seen girls accept guys for boyfriends they aren’t truly attracted to, at a very base sexual level.  Women are definitely more attracted to qualities other than simply a man’s physical appearance, that is undeniably true.  A husky man that has confidence and humor can attract a woman perceived as “out of his league” with a sexiness that exudes from his behavior and general confidence with women.  But even most women have a physical standard for men that is more stringent than they ever usually feel comfortable admitting.  It’s why you find so many women who are overweight themselves, pining after hot firefighters, or celebrities… meanwhile their husbands (who aren’t as attractive as these hot men) are lucky if they are having a sex life of once a month!

In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a woman in the real world who would ever have the guts to admit that she is more turned on by a hot, handsome guy, than a nice guy that still looks like the nerds she knew in high school.  It might not be a body builder type, but it’s not exactly the new “Dad Bod” either.

Guys, your physical appearance matters, and if you are interested in being more than Just Friends, you’d be smart to capitalize on your youth, health, and fitness in order to attract the kind of high quality girl you want.

But that would be a whole other topic, this post is explicitly for single men, who somehow find themselves in the very awkward position of dating or being with a girl (or woman) who is just not happy with who they are at that moment in time.  This is the kind of girl who tries to get you to join a gym membership – you know… “for your health,” (snark) not because she’s trying to force you into some kind of role to be her perfect person.  The point is, a woman who is doing this to you, usually does not care (or have any conscious knowledge sometimes) how critical or cruel she is being, she is not worried about your feelings of self-worth or self-confidence because she’s so focused on how you should be.

She often doesn’t realize that criticizing your weight, job, clothes, or any of that IS undermining your self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.  She’d rather you go through the painful process of accepting her criticisms and changing yourself (for her comfort level), than her do the difficult work of finding (or catching) someone that already meets her physical, educational, or financial standards for a good relationship.

Physical

Educational

Financial

These are probably the three biggest areas I’ve seen where women try to provoke through constant bitching change men.  There are other areas as well, like his friendships, but generally, these are the areas where women seem to give men the most grief in a relationship.

Does it come from Low Self Esteem?

Yes.  Yes, I believe it does.  The fact that she would pick someone who was not enough in her estimation to begin with is very telling here.  Why else would any woman settle on a man that is less than she thinks she (at least at some level) deserves?  Here me out single guys!  If a woman is putting you through this kind of unnecessary drama, you will be better off doing one of these three things:

1) Change, but make these improvements only for yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting a better degree, going after a better job or career, losing some weight or getting a gym membership to bulk up a little – all these things are positive, but they are only positive if they are done for the right reasons.

2) Leave her critical spirit in the dust, and then change (follow number 1).  This is hands down your best option here.  As a single, young guy, with more than likely your good health on your side… why put yourself into a relationship (or God-forbid future marriage) with someone who is more than happy to criticize you in any perceived short-coming of yours, to make herself feel better?

3) Don’t change, maybe you are genuinely happy with life as it is – maybe she was pressuring you to go after loftier goals than you desire for yourself, or to work yourself to the bone so that she can have a future of mass credit card bills or a mountain of debt to sate her happiness.  I knew a man that married young to a beautiful sorority girl, his college sweetheart.  He was pre-med at the time, but after their marriage found out that no matter how hard he seemed to try, he just couldn’t make the test scores to actually get in to medical school.  His wife then started to treat him like dirt, criticizing everything about him, his job (where he actually made pretty good), her inability to quit her job to be home with their new baby (she thought he’d be a doctor remember?), made fun of his research achievements (meanwhile he was receiving actual awards for his research), and denying him sexual access.  All because she married someone she didn’t really accept for who he was, but who she imagined he could be in their future together.  She’d rather ruin their marriage, than accept and make the best of the man he has become (a good man who works extremely hard to provide for their family, loves her and his baby, and puts up with her condemning and soul-crushing spirit).  The major drawback of choosing this option is that you will most likely lose the relationship if you don’t change.  For a single man, this is great in my opinion, you have very little to lose as you aren’t invested in her beyond maybe the physical or emotional.  If you do find it hard to move on, perhaps you need to remind yourself that she does not accept you (or possibly even feel sexually attracted to you) at a very very deep level for her.  To stay in that kind of relationship suggests you don’t value yourself enough in the first place, this is something you’d want to explore for yourself… why would you glue yourself to a woman who at her deepest level, isn’t crazy about you?

For a married man, you have my sympathy & a lot more to lose, but keep in mind that bending to her control will only make you even more repulsive in her eyes for your future.  Your best route is to go with number 1, but have the emotional attitude of number 2 in protecting or insulation yourself from her destructive spirit.  You don’t have to divorce her, but keeping a safe emotional distance so that she isn’t constantly cutting you down, while you work on yourself, for yourself, is wise in this kind of situation.

Your Future with a Critical Girlfriend

You have to understand, single guys reading this, the psychological aspect of a woman desiring control over you is bad enough, but to allow her to control you can lead to a future battle of wills when it comes to decisions later on down the road.  A future marriage with this kind of woman is going to be rife with unhappy conflict, why picture having children in this kind of environment?  A critical spirit is very hard for a woman (or a man) to overcome without significant amounts of therapy, and you will be playing into her hand from the beginning by 1) agreeing with her that you aren’t enough as is, and 2) that she is right to control or impose her will of what’s best for you.

Life is already hard guys, why make it harder by picking, or staying with someone who is merely settling on you?

Summer Foods for Your Health & Body

So I’ve been a health-food nut for awhile now….  I grew up eating pretty healthy, my mother was the one who cooked, and even though she worked a full-time job she still made sure we ate low-fat, non-greasy, mostly homemade foods.  But because she was working so much, about half the food we consumed was packaged and processed foods – foods that are low in nutritional value and protein, but high in salt & fat (making them addictive and easy to over-eat), additives, and preservatives.  Now that I’m a wife and mother, I’ve managed to largely cut out most of the processed foods we eat daily.  Sure we still have some crackers in our pantry, I still sometimes cook with flour, and we let our son eat white bread, but the majority of the food we eat is as close to homemade or natural as we can get or make.  We eat this way because our health is a priority to my husband and I.  We are an active family, constantly going, and I want to be active even in our old age together, and that starts with what you take into your body.

We are also that family that eats healthy regularly at home, but doesn’t think twice about eating a donut every week, or eating out at our favorite fast food places sometimes.  When eating healthy is simply your lifestyle, you aren’t worried about ordering a pizza, or eating a high fat, high calorie burger with fries sometimes.  So we are those people who look really fit, but who you’ll see eating out and enjoying ourselves regularly, we don’t believe in sticking to a super strict diet.  This means that around the holidays, we do tend to indulge in those incredible comfort foods more often than not, and then modify our exercise and diet lifestyle come January.  Our love is to enjoy the seasons, and we’ve embraced that the holiday season in particular, is one filled with foods that we normally don’t eat year round.  We embrace the tastes, the pleasures of eating those gustatory delights, but we equally embrace eating clean again come the New Year on.

Europeans (especially the French) tend to live that way.  They aren’t as obsessed with cutting out all carbs or certain food groups, wine, or doing insane diets for short periods of time, because the way they eat daily is beneficial to their bodies – they aren’t gaining weight because they typically just don’t over-eat.  They also stick to natural, mostly unprocessed foods… even their chocolate is healthier because it typically has no high fructose corn syrup, modified starches or milk products, and more cocoa %).  When French women in particular, do happen to notice they might be gaining weight, they simply step up their daily exertion – like taking the stairs instead of the elevator when they feel a shirt or dress becoming tight.  They self-moderate their weight because they are in tune with it and their bodies, they eat slower as well, which helps them feel when they are full.

Summer is the season when our food lifestyle starts to be really harrowed down to the necessities for survival, however, we still eat so that we don’t feel deprived.

Here are some of the snacks or sides we use during the year that help us eat clean:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1) Fresh cut fruits …. The best way to ensure that your fruit won’t go to waste in the basket is to, as soon as you get it home from the market, find some time to slice and dice it into portions that are easy to pull out for a snack or for the lunch sides.  It saves so much more time and will keep you from reaching for packaged snacks like goldfish that are just empty calories.  Make sure you have a variety of fruits and veggies stocked up and sliced each week so that your family doesn’t get bored.  We do bananas (obviously no need to slice except for smoothies if you use them that way), apples, kiwis, peaches, oranges, watermelon (we cube it – also easy for smoothie throw-ins), and anything that piques our interest while out at the store.

2) Ready to bake Veggies fries or chips …. Same principle as the fruits, cut them into slices or fries or “chips” as soon as you can so that they are ready to go.  This works well with sweet potatoes which are one of the super foods for your body, zucchini, butternut squash, or kale (kale chips).  When they are cut like this and are ready to go, it makes getting dinner on the table so much easier – and rather than reaching for some prepackaged or processed dinner side, you’re getting something natural and raw.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coat fries in olive oil lightly.  Bake until crisp.  Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

Coat fries in olive oil lightly. Bake until crisp. Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

3) High protein snacks, lunches, or side dishes ….  Two words, Greek Yogurt.  I usually grow our own yogurt during the Summer when it’s hot (I do it a med-evil way… I suggest you buy a yogurt maker!!), and separate out the whey so that it becomes the “Greek yogurt” sold in the stores. It is INSANELY cheaper to make your own yogurt (I make about a half gallon for $3 every week) rather than buy the individual cups they sell at the store.  I once had a woman trying to sell me the store brand of their yogurt, and I told her I had started making my own.  She was excited, asked me how to do it, and told me that when she used to live in Italy, a family next door used to do that, and it tasted incredible.  More proof in my mind that Europeans understand how to eat better than Americans.

Another plus about homemade yogurt, you don’t have to worry about the preservatives added, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or fillers.  If you do have to buy it, make sure you buy it plain, as close to natural as possible, and try to avoid a brand that has High fructose corn syrup.

Greek yogurt is delicious and one of the super foods because of the high protein and fat busting properties it has… eat 1 to 2 cups a day replacing one of your normal snacks to see a noticeable difference in your body fat % (it will mysteriously go down) 🙂 .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The way my son eats his nutritious, protein packed Greek Yogurt… with a little chocolate sauce, and dark chocolate (anti-oxidant) chips! Dress it up however you like… I usually make a vanilla kind or black cherry yogurt (sooooo delicious). You don’t even know you’re eating healthy, it’s like eating ice cream. Limit it to one cup though, and that’s your dessert.

How I eat my chocolate Greek yogurt?  With apples to dip 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another great high protein snack/lunch/side dish is tuna or chicken salad… I simply avoid using the fattening sauces when making them and typically opt for 1 tbs of mustard, or for chicken salad… 1 tbs of yogurt to substitute for mayonnaise.  The tuna or chicken salads are great for lunch by themselves, or in wheat pita pockets, or as snacks served on crackers.  Huge boost of energy if used as a snack!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Super Delish!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4) Handy veggie snacks …. Cut carrots or baby carrots, celery sticks, etc… the key again, is to keep these things cut and sliced, ready to go in your fridge so that you are more motivated to actually eat enough of them during the week before your next trip to the market.  We also do use dips, you can create your own easy yogurt dips or just use 3 tbs ranch… a little ranch is great if it will help you or your kids to get down some veggies they’d otherwise never want to eat!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our family’s secret weapon???  The Super food smoothie. Say good-bye to fat as it melts off of you!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You get SO MUCH energy from these simple, cheap drinks you make in your own home!  This was berries blended, carrots, and peanut butter.

5) Frozen fruits and spinach, kale, and carrots for drinking in smoothies ….  This is probably the most unsuspecting thing our family regularly does in the Spring and Summer months.  We drink loads of fruits and veggies in smoothie drinks (water or yogurt based), it is kind of like juicing except we really do blend the fruits and veggies.  It is hard to describe what it feels like to drink these icy cool concoctions… when I’ve been doing it regularly (daily), it’s like my veins themselves feel cool and refreshed.  The fat in your body melts away, your energy is magically increased… it really is our family’s best kept “secret” of the one thing you should be eating (or drinking) in the Summer.

Blueberries, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

Frozen Blueberries, Spinach, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Green Drink…. not as tasty haha… but still so good for your body!  

Another thing, these are not the high-fat, sugary smoothies you’ll find at Smoothie King or other smoothie shops.  These are no-fat (unless you use an Avocado base or yogurt base – good fat), they have no cream and very little (1 tbs tops) sugar added.  They are pure fruit, water, and vegetables.  You can make them into a meal replacement for lunch or dinner (or breakfast – I like hot breakfasts so I usually don’t) by adding the recommended scoop of a high quality protein powder.  We use Muscle Milk Protein Powder, but there are many good brands out there.

You can do so many different kinds of healthy smoothies… “chocolate, spinach, berry blend (my favorite),”  or a “berry blend, carrots, and peanut butter (really delicious)”  you just have to get creative and try different ways to drink your veggies and fruits.  Strawberry, banana, kiwi, + protein powder…  Chocolate, peanut butter, spinach/kale blend.  The possibilities are endless.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our homemade pizza - making the dough from scratch.

Our homemade pizza – making the dough from scratch.  It’s nice to eat bad food in a healthy way (homemade)

What we ate tonight... Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

What we ate tonight… Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

And then just make sure to create healthy dinners of low fat (lean) meats, use noticably less starches like rice and corn meal,… use more protein-packed sides like chickpeas, beans, legumes, and grains like quinoa.  And eat 1/3 to 2/3 of your dinner in vegetables for a healthy, rejuvenated Summer.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Tracy Anderson’s chili burrito recipe (above)

I love this tiny woman, and this chili recipe was amazing.  I altered it to add my own black bean recipe because in my mind, they taste amazing together in a wrap or burrito.  We use those large spinach tortillas since they are our favorite, but you can also get tomato or even jalapeno tortillas to go with this and any kind of wrap you’d want!

CHILI INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

  • 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced… (CLICK HERE)

Awards, Achievements & Actions to Help Others – No One Cares

Winning a track race

My oldest son found a music box my dad had given me when I was very young, tucked away and honestly forgotten in a safe place, in the same beautiful condition it always has been in, and packed to brim with award ribbons and medals of achievements.  I went for many years, to a Christian school who would give out award ribbons for sports activities, art competitions, and even (in Elementary years) ribbons for having good qualities like a positive or encouraging attitude.  As a result, I accumulated many ribbons while at this school – some not so deserving of an award in my opinion, and some that I know I earned through either talent (painting or writing children’s stories) or hard work (medals for hurdling).

My son is fascinated (or maybe a little obsessed?) with this box.  Ever since he found that it even existed a few months ago, he has enjoyed taking it out, laying out all the color ribbons, holding up the heavy medals and inspecting the designs on them that represent track and field or musical instruments.

My parents were wonderful growing up, they were very attune to things I was naturally good at, or inclined to succeed in, and therefore they encouraged me to go in those directions.  They also curiously encouraged me to go in directions that challenged my nature and innate talents, which in the end, has made life so much more interesting and fulfilling to me rather than had I only stayed in my comfort zone of doing well at things that came too easily.  They are both musically, artistically, and intellectually fascinating people, and I do not for one minute discount or seek to take for granted the beauty of life they aspired me to enjoy living.  But seeing my son handle my past (and forgotten) awards and medals with such longing and fascination has made me realize something: No One Cares.

This is not me trying to diminish achievements, but to intentionally point out how hollow many achievements in life truly are.  No one cares that I may have a box tucked away with now decade old awards and past achievements; people might have mild (polite) interest if I were to display them in some kind of showy case, but when it comes down to it, no one really cares about things like that.

Awards & Achievements, while they may boost our own confidence and add greatly to our own life experience, and while our children or grandchildren might greatly appreciate them/admire them, to onlookers or friends in our lives, they take a very back seat place in the trunk of the car that is driving and traveling our life.

My son’s first academic medal

Our oldest son is very athletic.  He was doing crunches with his dad and yoga with me when he was only 2 years old.

This last summer, we decided to let him play soccer on a team that would have practices and games every week.  We are, hands down, probably biased parents, but it was amazing watching his ability come alive on the field, with his teammates, and his raw success

He was so determined and yet had such a great attitude of teamwork and humility.  A natural leader, he was not afraid at all to make the scores, to encourage and even hug his teammates if they didn’t do as well.  A grandfather of another player pulled him aside after one of his games and told him to his face that he was the star on the team.  How does a 4 year old handle that kind of achievement?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He is the fierce looking one second from the right.

We live in a day and age where every child gets a medal if their parents sign them up.  Every child on my son’s team, whether they were at practice (or games) or not, received a medal of achievement.  While I didn’t at all want to make my son arrogant, I wanted him to explicitly know that he actually earned his medal through his dedicated hard work (and yes, even at 4 he was dedicated and played his little heart out on the field).  We watched one game where he was called upon to play for more than his share because the other kids were either throwing a tantrum or absent that day.  We watched him curl up and relax in a little hole in the ground beside the field, sweating profusely & trying to get relief, only to be asked to come back in and play because his substitute was having a tantrum, and our son, with his amazing attitude and genuine love for the sport, got up, and went back in to do soccer battle.

He undoubtedly, hands down, earned that medal.  And he is rightfully proud of it and knows it’s worth all the more because of his dedication to achieving it.

This sounds like a depressing post from the title, however, that is not at all the way I’m intending it to be.  How can I help my son understand that these medals, any achievements in life really, even though they might have been acquired through the beauty of hard work and dedication paired with raw talent, are ultimately meaningless and forgotten or unappreciated?  Unless they are paired with having also lived a life of integrity, they are only slightly (sometimes greatly) admired at best, or can lead to arrogance and pride at the worst.

How can I help him understand that even if he achieves great feats in science, literature, or medicine, and consequently ends up helping millions of people, he will still face those who will refuse his help, misunderstand him, or may end up completely forgotten in time?

It might be a harsh lesson, but a critical one to living a full, well-lived life.  Our awards, achievements, even our earnest efforts to help others are only great in that they add meaning to ours and other’s lives; they are only fulfilling when we ourselves are built on foundations of principle and morals.

Post Pregnancy Body & Working Out

pregnancytracy

This woman is awesome.  Tracy Anderson is the tiny little workout-nazi that can turn your body into how God probably intended it to be when He gave us our design (the perfect muscle:fat ratio we all probably would’ve had if chocolate and McDonald’s never existed – AmiRight?!?!).  Anyway, now that I’ve been 8 weeks out postpartum, I’m starting to want to up my lackadaisical approach I’ve had to being serious about getting back into shape.  I don’t view it as some kind of vanity issue, although maybe it is to some degree, I actually view it as a “I’ve waited nearly 9 months to wear all my nice skinny jeans and dressy pants and tops again… I don’t have the $$$ to buy a whole new wardrobe so I’d better get my butt back into shape if I want more than 15 options of clothing items to wear.”  

That’s how I view getting my post pregnancy body back.  I want to fit in my clothes again.  It is like a major pet peeve not being able to.  I’ve always pretty much stayed the same weight/frame since high school, so I have clothes that date back to then that I still like to wear (I take care of my clothes OK?!).  LOL 😉  But really, I like my set of clothes, and it hurts to not have the regular options that I’m used to having all these years because of being limited by your body.

The first time I started doing Tracy’s Metamorphosis, within the first week I saw drastic results to my body.  My muscles started coming out in places I didn’t ever have definition, some of my shorts (that weren’t able to fit due to having my first son) were suddenly fitting – and they were actually getting loose!!!  The results were coming so fast that it made the workouts easier to some degree (and I hated Tracy less lol), because I understood that she was really right – her workout method was working.

Growing up, I was a dancer… from the time I was 4 until I was 18 I danced.  And from age 15-18, I danced in a competitive showgroup that was extremely intense with practices that were 3 hours long once a week, and included performing around our city at different events or in parades (dancing in a parade is the hardest kind of dancing I’ve ever done – talk about an amazing workout).

So I’ve virtually always been “in shape,” however, the way she works out (particularly her mat exercises) it is more intense than I’ve ever experienced (and I was also a Hurdler & in Cross Country – I understand bodily torture that comes from running miles and miles).  Her kind of workout is different.  It is much more painful (the mat exercises), however, you get results that are better than I ever had from running, or the lyrical/jazz/performing/tap kind of dance I used to do.

My husband is an Insanity lover 🙂 love that man.  I tried Insanity, it is hard in very different way.  Since I did grow up dancing, I actually prefer Tracy’s workouts because it IS dancing all the way through the cardio.  I’ve done it off and on periodically for 4 years now, so her workouts are like coming home for me – they’re actually comfortable at a psychological level.  Like being with an old friend.

Pregnancy is hard on your body – but after my first, even though I still had 20 something pounds to lose after the first two weeks postpartum, I had this immense feeling of pride in what my body was able to do – to go through a pregnancy, birth a child, and come back so strong and able.  It’s empowering to have a child… it fills you with a new self-esteem about your body that you’ve never had (at least, that’s my personal experience from pregnancy).

This time, I lost all the weight, however since I really wasn’t working out faithfully during the entire pregnancy, my body has become what I’d call “squishy.”  I’ve gained fat in places and lost lots of muscle tone.  So even though I’ve technically lost the baby weight, my body still does not fit into all my clothes, and when it does fit, it isn’t toned and feels different than it was.  I understand many women are totally fine with staying that way – this isn’t me trying to shame anyone for being comfortable with their post preggers body, however, for me, I’m just not comfortable leaving it that way.  I like my body to be stronger and firmer – it just feels better to live inside such a body… literally!  After I got my muscle tone back (after my first son), I was so much stronger, we’re extremely active in our family, and everything we did was easier.  My upper body finally had the strength I’ve never had… thanks to Tracy.  And my posture was corrected with having the muscles developed in the right places (like when I danced for hours a week).

She honestly turned me into a dancer/athlete’s body – and it felt so different in the best way.

Now for pictures:

pregnancytracya

The woman in the photo collage above ran a blog that I followed before buying Tracy’s Metamorphosis.  This woman entered her photo into a bikini contest (the photo in the pink bikini)… and won.  Her journey, since I followed it via her blog, was so inspiring. She had setbacks and issues with trying to get people to understand why she was dedicated to continuing it (the program she was doing was I think the 90 day program), but it was wonderful to see her victory in the end as she worked to overcome any obstacles.

This is Tracy herself (below), and the work and transformation she had to undergo in her developing her specific type of workout in order to truly sculpt a dancer’s body from virtually any body type (as far as I understand).

pregnancytracyc

Here are some photos of women’s before and after with Tracy (*from Google)

 

tracymakeoversa

 

tracymakeoversc

So if you’re reading this and wondering if you should go for it and get Tracy’s Metamorphosis (or virtually any of her products), I am all for it!  The workouts take immense discipline and dedication because they hurt a lot at first (especially if you’re not used to being active all the time or don’t have a history of working out).  That doesn’t mean you can’t do it – I believe you can!  Tracy believes you can.  She is the ultimate optimist ❤ and it really is a gift that she’s made these DVD’s so that regular women like us (instead of her normal celebrity clients) can have access to her personal training.

My before pic (below) was taken at 4 weeks postpartum, and I do believe (even though I wasn’t actively doing her workouts during the pregnancy) that my body owed a lot of its strength and resiliency to her training before pregnancy.  I might be squishy, but I’m excited to truly get down to it and do her workouts until Summer is here (it’s good to give your body a break).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So if you’re wondering if you can trust your body to Tracy?  My answer is undoubtedly… YES!!!!!

 

*Photos of the women who have posted online about their own experiences with TA’s Method are not my own photos obviously.  I own no rights to their photos and are only posting what is found freely on Google images.