Do you choose comfort over abundance?

How often do you sit in your comfort but long for adventure?

How often do you choose staying in versus meeting new friends and getting out? How often do you choose to get through your to-do list instead of going to Bible Study? How often do you choose to watch Netflix versus going on a date with your spouse or helping out your neighbor?

Today as I sat in Bible Study my friend did just that. She did the uncomfortable. When we were discussing our highs and lows for the week, she shared what was REALLY on her heart. Not the fluff of time management, kids’ projects, husbands work, etc., The real raw, the nitty gritty, the ugly, the things we desire to share but are mortified of the judgment (you know those looks of “bless her heart, she’s a hot mess.”). But out of that one person’s courage to do the uncomfortable, everyone else in our group shared the raw and the uncomfortable. No one enjoys the comfort, but without the uncomfortable, we would’ve never really understood or known our friends’ hearts.

Having an abundant life doesn’t mean living in our comfort zone.

This moment brought me back to a sermon I listened to recently about “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the face of God.” The question is how do we live that out? How do we have a pure heart in our daily lives? He discussed how living with a pure heart means putting aside our worldly idols (things that prevent God from being number one in our life). He said all idols could be broken down into four categories: Comfort, power, control and approval.  Comfort? That can’t be an idol. I mean comfort is just part of who we are, right? That was a punch to the gut, a reality check. It’s not to say that I don’t struggle with the others, but they don’t dominate quite the way comfort does.

The only way to the end result is through the hard, through the uncomfortable. Sara Soenen

Where do you long for comfort most in your life?

I long for a life of financial comfort where Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover isn’t front and center on my bookshelf. I long for comfort in my personal life, where all my relationships are easy, and there is minimal conflict (Dream world, I mean as long as your married, there’s conflict, right?). I long for comfort for my children that they would enjoy the beauty that is childhood. I long for comfort physically, to be naturally thin and to desire working out all the time. I long for my knee to be healed and not dictate my work-outs. I long for comfort in food, things like chocolate, wine, cheese, pasta, or decadent desserts. (there should be a twelve step program for chocolate addiction).  I long for comfort when it comes my blog. If I want my blog to grow, I have to talk about it.  It feels really awkward to talk about myself, or what my vision is for this blog.  I mean really awkward. Who goes around talking about how great they are. LOL! But if I want that there must be discomfort. My life must be in a constant state of pushing forward and through the comfort zone barrier.

Comfort never got you anywhere but exactly where you are.

It boils down to is. Comfort never gets you anywhere, comforts keeps you exactly where you are at. Is that really what we want?  Do we really want to stay exactly where we are at? I think all of us can say that the answer is no. Over the course of my life I have learned that out of the struggle there is so much growth, so much change. I think most of us would say that change that was a result of struggle was worth it. Do we like what brought us to that change? More than likely not. What we do like is the end result, the final product. The only way to the end result is through the hard, through the uncomfortable.

Do you struggle with choosing comfort over doing what is right, or doing what will give you your best life?

Comfort or adventure!

Comfort never gets you anywhere, comforts keeps you exactly where you are at. Is that really what we want?  Do we really want to stay exactly where we are at? I think all of us can say that the answer is no. Over the course of my life I have learned that out of the struggle there is so much growth, so much change.

Two sermons that have taught me a lot about comfort and the power of struggle.

 

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
 Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

Food Isn’t the Problem. Our Heart Is.

The Fundamental Five: Fuel

For many of us we associate fuel with what we eat, and we have become a society that is obsessed with the “right” foods, the “right” diet and the “right” way to eat. While there is truth that sugar isn’t the best thing for you it doesn’t make vegetables holy and sugar the devil.  [Please know I’m not discussing people with food allergies, autoimmune disease, etc.] Our culture has demonized food, as a way to control our weight, and our health. Let me be clear eating a diet of quarter pounders with cheese, chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts isn’t good for you and what I’m writing about shouldn’t be an excuse to go off the rails, BUT the food isn’t the problem, our heart is.

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Brunch at The Four Seasons

Is He filling you up or food?

I write this to you knowing that I have the exact same struggles and I have to tell myself this daily. How many of you have a skinny friend who seems to be able to eat cheeseburgers, fries and a cookie, but still is a size zero? I truly believe that the heart and the mind are the source of our struggle with our weight and how we fill about ourselves. We must see fueling our body as doing what is best, to honor what God has given us and instead seeking Him to help us with our desire for food and fulfill our needs, wants and desires.

So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:13 (GNT)

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Are you ready to do battle?

What is fuel?

So if we can understand that fuel is not just about  food, but guarding our mind and changing our mindset about what food is then fuel becomes not just about what we eat, but what we watch, what we read, what we listen to, who influences us and how we feed our mind, body and soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Philippians 4:8  (BSB)

Let your brain make your decisions not your feelings.

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via GIPHY

The core of who we are and what we believe starts with our brain, not with our feelings. Our feelings are powerful, they should be acknowledged, but they should not determine every decision we make, our mind should. So often our feelings are unreasonable, fleeting and most often regrettable, so why should we trust them to make all of our decisions. In order to make sound decisions, and our life is a series of decisions made every minute of the day, we should guard, and fight for the health of our mind. We should be intentional with everything we ingest, not just our food. For so long we have believed the lie that we can separate what we see, or feel or listen from the decisions that we make.   1 Peter 1:13, Colossians 3:2}

Feed on that which is above and not that which is in The Earth. Col. 3:2 (ABPE)

Fight for your mind, because no one else will.

I say all this to make you aware, to cause you to think, to question what you are watching, reading, listening to. From my perspective the brain of someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, is that we are much more susceptible and we should go to great lengths to protect it, and to give it the best chance of thriving. Don’t we all want to thrive in this life, a life of abundance, no one wants to limp along doing just enough to get by. Not only do we want to leave a legacy for our children, but we want to stand before God at the end of this life, with our head held high, knowing we did everything we could to live our best life, and protecting this body that He gave us.

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 (CEV)

Five daily practices to live well with anxiety and depression.

  Awareness is good, but solutions are what we need.

More people are committing suicide every day, and more young adults are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds than ever before. Awareness is all the buzz, but no real change has come from it. We are being educated on how to identify mental illness, famous people are openly discussing their mental health battles (Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato), doctors and therapists teaching are us about the disease and while all of these things are necessary and good they aren’t affecting real change.

Concrete solutions to mental health lead to concrete change.

One of the reasons I started writing and researching depression and anxiety was because what was out there left me feeling empty and more hopeless. I couldn’t be the only one frustrated with what the world was offering. Nothing I read left me encouraged, in fact most of what I found left me hopeless. Books and articles that say things like “this is your new normal, this is your life.”   Out of this frustration came the passion and drive to find real solutions. Solutions, for how to live every day well whether I’m depressed or not. Even if I never get depression again or I don’t struggle with these issues, we ALL want to live our best life, a life of abundance. So how do we actually do that? How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us.

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More self-help books than you know what to do with……but do they really help and can they be implemented?

 1. Faith

Faith is number one for a reason; because there is no hope without faith. Scrolling through Twitter, watching the news, or spending more than ten minutes on social media you’ll realize that what the world has to offer empty. There are so many people, that are hurting, crying for help, hopeless, and feel lost. There have been seasons where I have been far away from God, sought out other things to either numb the pain or run away from it, and it never works, and in the end, I always came back to my faith. The only way to truly combat the demons that we face is to be grounded in God’s Word. Hope and Laughter was born out of Romans 12:2 “do not be conformed to the pattern of the world but instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I loved this verse because there was so much hope that my brain could change, could be renewed and now there is science to prove it.

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Spending time in God’s Word changes the way we think and the way we perceive our life. Couldn’t we all use a change in perspective?

2. Fitness

This one took me awhile to be honest. I never really enjoyed working out and the only time I did was when I was paying someone to hold me accountable. After I had Priscilla that was no longer feasible, not just the financial aspect, but honestly the time. Time was always an issue, finding someone to watch the kids, my husband’s work schedule. It just never seemed to line up. When I finally got in a groove and found what worked for me, it became a habit. A habit that I saw not only changed me physically but changed my attitude and decreased my anxiety. I started researching the benefits of exercise and couldn’t believe how beneficial it was.  Exercise alters your mood by increasing endorphins, helps decrease your anxiety, and decreases your risk for depression. I soon realized that fitness was a must not a maybe.

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If you would’ve asked me even 5 years ago if I would’ve attempted to do a triathlon I would’ve said that’s reserved for real athletes, not me.

How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us? 

 3. Fuel

For the longest time I thought that fuel was only about what you ate. Fueling your body, with healthy foods, would keep your body in tip top shape, but that wasn’t motivation enough for me. At the time I found most healthy foods to be boring, and fueling my body the right way just sounded like a daunting task. Once I realized that Fuel was not just about what you ate, but about what you read, what you watched, what you listened to my perspective changed. These were all things that were fueling your body, mind, soul and spirit. It mattered how you were fueling your body because it affected your mind. The mind was my motivation.

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Fuel isn’t just about what we eat…….but what we read, watch, listen to and fill our hearts and minds with. Adults are just as impressionable as children……

  4. Fellowship

Fellowship may seem like a stretch or for a daunting task if you’re in the throes of depression. Certain seasons fellowship is really hard, but fellowship is much more than just texting friends or scrolling through social media and commenting on someone’s post. Fellowship is about developing real relationships with  real people. People that will meet you where you’re at with what you are able to give.  Face to face conversations. The world says do everything independently, and God says we are one body with many parts, but all the parts are necessary to make the body. We are called to be in community. True success both relationally and mentally require community. There are different levels of community and different seasons of fellowship, either way it is necessary.

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Real community will change your life, your heart, broaden your perspective and force you outside of yourself. How much more do we learn from relationships versus a book. The Bible is a book filled with relationships that are broken, messy and redemptive. Real people with real problems and real redemption.

5. Freedom

Freedom is the one we need most and the one we make the least amount of time for. Proverbs says where there is no vision the people perish. God has put a purpose and a dream in our hearts and we must find time to pursue that. Whatever it is, wherever you are, with what you have. For me my freedom was found in writing. It was an outlet for me that left me renewed after I spent time writing, not depleted. Whatever your passion is  whether cooking, writing code (that’s my husband’s), photography, or anything that leaves you fueled instead of depleted take the time every day to pursue it. You don’t need to cook a gourmet meal for twenty people or develop your own software. It can be as simple as looking through a cookbook, buying a magazine about home decor whatever it is it will renew your mind, replenish your soul and fuel your day. We were created for a purpose and our purpose is more than getting by but living abundantly.

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My happy place. One of the best presents I’ve ever gotten…….A place where I can pursue my passion.

Sara

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:1

Thwarted Plans

When things don’t go as planned.

So often we make plans, and somehow, we’re surprised when these plans are thwarted. Whether by our own decisions or the result of someone else’s decisions, things don’t go how we thought they would. Either way an unrealized dream or an unexpected change in our path can be very upsetting, sometimes heartbreaking. I have realized that the source of my depression lies in this space. Whether my father committing suicide, and changing the course of my childhood, or the choices I made in my early twenties as a result of so much anger and confusion that led me to drink and drive and put myself and others at risk, to becoming a mom and not immediately falling in love with being a mom and my new baby that I couldn’t wait to meet.

Dreams and Depression.

This last week I was hit with a smaller version of that, something that would forever change things. For the past year I have been working hard to get in shape and attempt my first sprint triathlon. As part of my road to recovery after my third round of depression, my therapist and I had talked about my dreams and things that I wanted to do. Part of what makes a dream a dream, is pursuing something you thought you never could. Competing in a triathlon is definitely one of those.

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How fitness affects our body.

I’ve never been athletic, I’ve never played in sports, but I’ve loved to swim, and after I gave birth to my son I began running. My pregnancy with my daughter was one for the books. It put me through the ringer, and I spent 16 months in physical therapy with limited abilities to work-out. After I finished my PT, I decided working out had to be a priority not just for my physical health, but my mental health. I know that not being active during that time definitely sustained if not worsened my depression. I needed to set a goal and baby step my way there. I spent 9 months working my butt off, getting in shape and making my health a priority. When I finally felt in shape I began running and the first time I ran I had a terrible knee injury and spent weeks with a swollen knee. I brushed it off and visited the chiropractor and thought surely there was a solution and I just needed to baby step my way even in running. I tried running again and the same thing happened, a swollen knee, that left me hurting and day to day activities were painful. Finally, I got up the courage to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and what he told me was gut wrenching. He said Sara you have the knee of a 62-year-old and you can never run again. You need to change your entire work-out program, you need only engage in low-impact activities, limited squats, and lunges.

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My anger could lead to more depression.

My world was rocked. I haven’t cried that hard, been that angry in a long time. I yelled, I screamed I hit the wall, both literally and figuratively. How could this be? In the past year I have changed my life drastically, put my health as my number one priority, worked hard, and made life long changes. I was devastated. I could see the fear in my husband’s eye, he was scared this would send me back…..back there. You know the lowest of low. Hopelessness. While things weren’t going how I planned, I rejoiced in my external anger. I know that may sound silly, but my anger was a victory. A victory that I was expressing not repressing my emotions.

I could see the fear in my husband’s eye, he was scared this would send me back…..back there.

I was deeply disappointed, things WILL forever change, but I’m still determined to reach my goal, it may not be on my timeline (my 40thbirthday), and yes, it may be different, but I can still fulfill it.  I now begin a new journey of pursuing fitness with an injury and getting to focus on my favorite part nutrition. This mama loves to be in the kitchen. So, while I won’t be competing in this year’s Spa Girl Tri and there will need to be adjustments in my work-out routine, I’m not giving up or throwing in the towel. The road did not end it just took a new turn.

Here’s to seeing where that turn will take me,

Sara

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

Summer Pea Salad.

Ahh what to eat in the summer. Anyone else struggle with this? I realize in the summer I just try to avoid cooking at all costs. It’s not really because of the busyness, but mainly it’s so HOT! The thought of the oven or the stove causes me to sweat. I mean I can feel it dripping down my back. But, as I’ve made lifestyle changes over to healthier eating, I needed to find recipes and things to eat. Learning to eat healthy and clean met reinventing the wheel in the kitchen. Starting from scratch and cleaning out my pantry from top to bottom.

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One of the best tips I ever learned was have a bowl for all your trash. (Thank you Rachel Ray!)

So in my quest to learn to eat more veggies, I needed to find something I knew I’d eat. My problem with healthy food in the beginning was I felt like it was all so bland, and blah. I wanted a meal with a kick, with some punch, some FLAVOR! Healthy doesn’t have to mean flavorless. I have learned this over time especially living in the great city of Austin where it’s easy to eat healthy and it tastes amazing.

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Use the left over celery for snacks and celery is always great with hummus.
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So many veggies. Veggies most ladies!

Here is my go to summer salad!

Ingredients:

  1. juice of 1 lemon
  2. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  4. 2 cups of green peas, cooked and cooled
  5. 1/4 cup red onions, diced
  6. 1/2 cup celery, diced
  7. 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  8. 1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese (or feta, I prefer goat)
  9. 2 Tbsp of fresh cilantro (or parsley or mint)

Place the first three ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. Serve!

Recipe found on Weelicious.

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Enjoy! I hope you love it as much as I do.

Its’ really that simple and your kids will love it!

Sara

Interested in joining one of my accountability groups? I’d love to have you join me!

 


 

 

PMS, Hormones and Mental Health

The dreaded period.

Aunt flo, surfing the crimson tide, Mother Nature’s Gift, or as I’d prefer to call it, EVE! I’m sure you’ve heard these names, ahh the wonderful names given to your period in your teen years, either by you and your girlfriends, or immature boys. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, let alone dealing with your period and “becoming a woman.” Unfortunately, after I had kids and as I’ve gotten older, and my body has changed, I really began to notice a difference in my PMS. My PMS seemed much more intense. Like everything else in life what worked before didn’t work anymore. I noticed drastic changes in my mood. I felt out of control and that’s never a feeling I like.

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Can my period really effect my depression/anxiety?

So, I began to do some research about periods and moods. I needed to understand if what I was feeling was normal or a sign that I needed to be careful because maybe I was going to battle another bout of depression again. It’s crazy how quickly our minds can wonder to the worst-case scenarios isn’t it? Sometimes leading up to my period, I feel like I’ve completely lost control of my emotions. I’m always evaluating and making sure I understand where my mind and body are in order to combat another round of anxiety and depression. I wondered if I was just using PMS as an excuse to eat what I wanted and throw caution to the wind (which is partially true), but I also wondered how long PMS actually lasts and does it really effect my mood the way I perceive it does.

Needless to say I was blown away by the statistics surrounding PMS. They are fascinating, to say the least. They far surpassed what I expected and there were way more symptoms than I ever imagined

Here are some fascinating facts about PMS and your period.

Serotonin levels change during PMS
PMS lasts 5-11 days BEFORE your period.
PMS can cause mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.

Serotonin, Depression, and hormones.

I think the scariest one off of that list is the serotonin levels changing. For those of you who have ever been on an anti-depressant, most anti-depressants are used to level out serotonin because of a lack of serotonin in our brain. Basically, if you struggle with depression more than likely you have noticed a change in your mood preceding your period because of the change in your serotonin. Also, serotonin is a chemical in your brain but the majority of serotonin is produced in your gut and therefore one of the many reasons it’s so important to pay attention to what we put in our bodies. Serotonin affects your moods, emotions and your thoughts! I’d say serotonin is a pretty powerful chemical!

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What exactly is PMS, and what causes it?

So how many women actually have PMS, I for one assumed that all women have PMS, but there’s a lucky 20% who doesn’t. Some of the factors for PMS are:

  1. a history of depression or mood disorders, such as postpartum depression or
  2. bipolar disorder
  3. a family history of PMS
  4. a family history of depression
  5. domestic violence
  6. substance abuse
  7. physical trauma
  8. emotional trauma
  9. abdominal bloating

What are the symptoms of PMS? I was surprised by some of  my girlfriends responses when I asked them about their own symptoms and many of them didn’t associate moods, or anxiety with PMS. Here are some of the  common symptoms of PMS:

  1. abdominal pain
  2. sore breasts
  3. acne
  4. food cravings, especially for sweets
  5. constipation
  6. diarrhea
  7. headaches
  8. sensitivity to light or sound
  9. fatigue
  10. irritability
  11. changes in sleep patterns
  12. anxiety
  13. depression
  14. sadness
  15. emotional outbursts
What now?
  • I was pretty blown away by these statistics, symptoms and just the overall effect that PMS actually has on our bodies, minds and spirits. It’s pretty powerful what hormones can do isn’t it? All too often we blame ourselves, and believe we are at the mercy of our symptoms, but the good news is awareness is half the battle so what are some things that we can do when we encounter PMS?
  • Recognize that what we are going through is normal, and is experienced by the majority of women
  • Recognize people who struggle with depression, anxiety or other mood disorders are at a greater risk for PMS
  • Women who struggle with PMS generally have more than one symptom.
  • We can talk to our doctor and track how we feel during our PMS, and make sure we aren’t part of the even smaller demographic who’s symptoms are so severe it affects their ability to cope with day to day life.
  • Be aware of how your mood and appetite are affected by it and recognize that things will be a little different during this time and plan accordingly.

No one should feel ashamed or frustrated by this, if anything I hope you will walk away feeling more equipped about what to expect the next time you are encountered with aunt flo and maybe just maybe you can have a little laugh about it just like I did gathering all these facts. Needless to say after all the talk about periods, and how they make us feel a little off our rocker, my girlfriends and I couldn’t stop thinking of this famous quote from Clueless:

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Hopefully you know by know irregardless of the weighty subjects we talk about, I have always end on a high note or with some laughter. Life’s too short. In all seriousness does anyone else struggle with increased anxiety or depression leading up to or during their period? Or is it just me?

Sara

 

Trader Joe’s staples for healthy eating.

Why I love shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Growing up in California my parents loved Trader Joe’s and talked about it all the time. Great food, for a cheap price. In the land of Whole Foods, that seemed impossible. Needless to say when Austin finally got Trader Joe’s I was shocked and excited. I heard about it this place forever and when I would visit my best friend in Venice Beach, we’d always manage to make a trip there. What I didn’t realize was how many healthy options they have, great foods for strict diets like paleo, GF, or Whole 30.

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Their turkey and chicken burgers are a hit and have no sugar.

Sometimes we need quick fixes, not time intensive meals.

So often I feel like when we think of healthy we think we have to make something, and it’s usually elaborate. For me since I never really knew how to cook healthy every time I’d find a recipe it was so labor intensive, and time consuming that I’d end up throwing in the towel, or just not cooking again for several days because it took everything out of me. To me it’s just not always relastic to cook every night and I need frozen options that taste good. These turkey and chicken burgers are seasoned so well, and they only  take a matter of minutes on the stove. A win, win especially on those nights that I’m single mommin’ it.

 

I use to find pre-cut things to be such a waste of money. I’d think how hard is it to cut cup mushrooms, well some days it just is. Kids have activities, or you’ve had activities all day long. Trader Joe’s has so many things that are pre-cut for reasonable prices. I love their sliced mushrooms, cut up butternut squash,  and sweet potato noodles. Their fruit is always great too. My kids love the three in 1 grapes with red, black and green. Variety is the spice of life.

Kids eat your veggies!

We all know how hard it is to get your kids to eat vegetables. My kids used to be much healthier eaters, but as they have gotten older it has been more of a struggle. They don’t always want them, or they’d rather eat their body weight in fruit. Trader Joe’s Spinach and Kale bites are a MUST. Not only do my kids love them, but Mark and I love them too. Yes there is a little flour in them which isn’t ideal, but getting your kids to eat their greens is worth it.  There are other great options for snacks too. They’re pretzel slims are great if you’re child is younger because they don’t present a choking hazard. Cranberries, raspberries, nuts, slivered almonds, you name it every healthy snack out there.

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Spinach and Kale Bites are always a hit. Mark and I love them too.

Special Diet Options.

I know there are plenty of people that have chosen to do a special diet, whether for health reasons, to stay lean or food allergies. You’d be amazed how many options Trader Joe’s has. From vegan cream cheese to gluten free buttercream cupcakes (not exactly healthy, but they are good), there are options for everyone. One of my favorites is the pasta options. There are so many to choose from.

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Black bean, red lentil, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. Options galore.
Trader Joe’s for the win.

I definitely give Trader Joe’s a thumbs up, not just for their amazing options of healthy foods, but their customer service and pride in what they do. You can pretty much ask anyone about any product and they can tell you when they’ll get it, if it’s been discontinued or they’ll order it for you. We couldn’t live without our weekly Trader Joe’s runs between the great choices for my kids and lots of healthy options for us, the whole family is happy and it didn’t cost us a fortune. (And no this is not a sponsored ad, I truly just love Trader Joe’s.)

What are some of your favorite foods at Trader Joe’s? I’m always looking for more ideas.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, you were bought with a price; therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19

Sara 

 


 

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Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

 

My first attempt at a Vlog, (yes that is a word), sharing a little bit about my journey with Hope and Laughter, and the things that I have struggled with whether through faith, writing, fitness, diet, pretty much all of it.

 

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5 Unexpected Lessons from our Detox

When Mark and I set out to do this detox, to say I was skeptical was an understatement. We have done detox’s before and sometimes have been successful and other times we gave up before we finished. The times we were successful, there were some small changes, but nothing really big. The times that we didn’t finish I was so burned out from all the prep, and planning, that I just threw in the towel. There were always parties to go to and with a lot of toddlers running around, a glass of wine was frankly too hard to pass up. I have to say this was different. I bought the Ultimate Reset back in July, and I had just started getting into a work-out routine and this sounded like a great idea. When I got the box in the mail I was more than a little intimidated. That box sat in my pantry for 6 months, until I finally got up the courage to set a date. January 15th. My best friend’s birthday party was on the 13th and I wasn’t about to watch everyone have fun cocktails while I sipped on my water. When I finally made the commitment and completed the detox, I was more than amazed at the things I learned.

  1. I actually like vegetables. I like vegetables, but can get bored with them and struggle to always want to eat them unless they are smothered in salad dressing, or covered in cheese. This reset showed me so many great recipes and fun and new ways to eat and season them that I actually loved.  So many of the recipes I will be using even after the detox is over.
  2. If there is a specific plan I can do it. Mark and I did a 10 day detox just about every January, and one of the reasons we found it so easy was that it told me EXACTLY what to eat and when. When I did Whole 30, while there were recipes and many ideas of what to eat, I still had to come up with a meal plan and figure out what we were having for every meal.  Having a set menu made things much easier and less stressful.
  3. I love wine, but…… Mark and I enjoy having a good glass of wine or a mixed drink. What we discovered through the detox is yeah, one glass of wine isn’t a big deal, BUT for me if I have more than one I tend to make unhealthy eating choices, I’m completely unproductive and I sleep poorly. Mark and I both agree that neither one of us have ever slept as well as we did on this detox. I mean the way I used to sleep before I had kids. (I know many parents have given up on ever sleeping that well again.)
  4. Perfection doesn’t have to take place in order to be successful. Throughout my fitness and health journey I have to come to realize how destructive perfectionism is. Perfectionism sets you up for failure, feeds your insecurities, and puts your focus on the wrong things. Week 3 was probably the hardest week, Mark traveled, I had major PMS and was the most restrictive in terms of the diet. Normally I’d just give up and give in to my cravings, but I wanted to be successful and watching Mark loose so much weight was motivation enough. I was hungrier and instead of beating myself up, I upped my quantities of food, but stuck to the meal plan so I was full, and successful. I had to realize what was going to work for me, not what I was “supposed” to do.
  5. I can do the thing I never thought I could. I know so many people had their doubts about this detox, a gradual shift to a completely vegan diet. If you would’ve told me 3 weeks ago, that I couldn’t do this, I would’ve agreed with you. I’ve tried GF/DF diets before and never lasted. My focus was on all the things I couldn’t eat instead of finding things I could. The biggest reason for my success was the food was great. Sweet Potato bisque with red bell pepper was to die for, and today I ate lentil lime salad for lunch!!!!!! Y’all I chose to eat this, the detox is over, and I chose to eat this. I haven’t had sweets in 22 days. Yes, I had a glass of wine during the Super Bowl, but it was worth it. Being able to say I did this was more than just about doing a detox and getting thin, I proved to myself that I could do something I never thought I could which is almost as exciting as fitting in my skinny jeans.

Sara

Interested in doing a detox?  Email me.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. II Timothy 1:7

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Cycle of Depression.

Let’s get a little scientific for a minute. I think depression is viewed as something that very few people encounter and there’s only a small number of us who will have full blown depression. The statistics say differently. Fifty percent of adults will develop a mental illness in their lifetime. Now obviously that doesn’t mean 50% of adults will get depression, but we all know depression is obviously a common mental illness. I feel like if we understand how depression works and how it comes about then we might understand how susceptible we are as well as how our brain works. If we understand how the brain works than we can begin to break the cycle.

Several years back a man named Dr. Robi came and spoke at our church. This man not only was an amazing neuroscientist (PhD.) but a believer. For me I hadn’t encountered many people like this. It seems so many scientists abandon their belief and so many believers abandon their brains. I have come to find out this isn’t the case. There are so many scientists who see the connection between God and science and Dr. Robi is one of them. Dr. Robi spoke a lot about how our brain worked and how things like addiction effected our brain. So I began doing my research about him and discovered he had several videos etc., about depression. In his teachings he talks about how whatever you think, you feel and what you feel you act out in your behavior. This alone was startling. Whatever I think determines what I feel and therefore how I behave? Why I hadn’t I understood this more clearly before. The limbic system processes our emotions and negative thoughts. Negative thoughts increase cortisol. Too much cortisol takes over our hippocampus and therefore leads to depression. I know this an oversimplification of the actual process of our brain, but it’s a start.

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Think to feel to body to action, and then in reverse. First thing to address is the action and then work backwards. Did you catch that? Work BACKWARDS.  So now that we know how it works, how do we change the pattern? Over the next several weeks I’m going to talk at length about the power of our mind and our thoughts. We recognize its’ power but ignore it’s place in our well-being. We must begin the process of retraining our brain, retraining our thoughts, understanding our emotions, and ultimately changing our behavior. Sounds so simple but we all know simple doesn’t mean easy. Ironically Dr. Robi, suggests we start with changing our behaviors first. This makes me think of a Seinfeld episode where George realizes that he must do the complete opposite of what he’d normally do. For example, instead of believing he could never get the gorgeous girl he sees at dinner, he goes up to her and shares how he’s unemployed, lives with his mom, and has no job prospects. She of course is blown away by his candor and agrees to go out with him.

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Now I know I just shared a sitcom scenario, but I think it’s a funny way of looking at it and I love to laugh. I think focusing on our brain when we are in the throes of depression can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Our brain is a nightmare even WE don’t want to uncover. So instead of focusing  on your thoughts,  just do it.  Do something. If you aren’t exercising, go for a walk, regardless of whether you feel like it. Because you exercised, you will physically feel better, which in turn makes you emotionally feel better which in turn will produce more healthy thoughts because of how you feel. You see the circle? Just try it. One thing at a time, one day at a time.

Let’s not decide tomorrow you’re going to train for a triathlon, or eliminate all sugar. I have come to realize that drastic immediate changes just don’t work for me. I have to take small baby steps and focus on one day at a time, and sometimes one meal at a time, one hour at a time, and one work-out at a time. Let’s reverse the cycle and start a new one. Remember whenever you think you’re the only one, you’re not. I’m running this race with you. Yes, we’re at different stages, but I’ve been through most all of them, and I too am trying to break the cycle and start a new one.

Fellow warrior,

Sara

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