Friday, July 31, 2015

Dear Rolling Stone Magazine...


Dear Rolling Stone Magazine,


I admit, I was that mom... that mom who grabbed EVERY Rolling Stone Magazine out of the cash register newsstands in Target last week.  I brought it up to customer service and pointed out to the clerk the chest of the scantly-clad Kim Kardashian (who else?).  

Ms. Kardashian may as well have had her shirt off, because she was almost showing pretty much everything!  I told the clerk, "I have sons who I don't want seeing this!  And a daughter, for that matter, too!"  The clerk's eyes scanned the cover quickly and she sighed, "I am sooo sorry.  I agree, but we have people from the magazine companies who come and display these."  I just simply replied, "Then you don't need to display these where my children can see them!"

So, let me continue by saying that I don't care about Kim Kardashian and her gigantic chest.  In fact, I'm quite tired of seeing it.  I tire of seeing her and her barely dressed sisters who seem to care nothing about what influence they may be having on young boys and girls, men, and women, who have to walk past their face, chest, and backside plastered all over the news stands.  

We have to walk past those newsstands to check out.  We have no choice but to see those ridiculously sexualized photos on your magazines.  I agree---you aren't the only magazine that bares more than the average person wants to see.  BUT, I am calling on you because your cover for July 2015 issue was absolutely way too revealing to be out in the open where little eyes could see it.  Please care.  

Perhaps you could use some ideas on how to care about the little ones that may see sexualized material that may add to the pressure to become "sexy" too young.  I know that you most likely won't stop publishing barely dressed women on your covers.  After all, you've been doing it for decades.  

How about not allowing your magazine to be in the main cash register newsstands?  Or how about requiring your publication to be placed behind pocket shields?  Those are two very simple solutions.  

Perhaps you may not make as many sales, but, let me be clear.  You publishing media like that adds absolutely NOTHING of value to our society.  In fact, it adds to a huge epidemic of a sexually desensitized culture that is suffering and struggling with body image, porn, and torn relationships that are killed by the addiction to sexual images.  It adds to the pressure of teen girls feeling like they, too, have to show off their chests to be accepted by men.  

So, why not care about the little eyes that can see your highly sexualized publication?  I am aware that there are probably companies that distribute your magazine to Target and all the other stores.  CONTACT THEM.  Fix this problem.  

Rite-Aid has agreed to cover up Cosmopolitan magazines in their stores due to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation requesting that they did so.  Step up and add something of worth to our society.  A national organization fighting sexual exploitation shouldn't have to contact you to do something about this.  A concerned parent should be enough.  


Thank you.

~A Very Concerned Mother of 3 Young Children

P.S.  If you'd like to read more about the effects of media like yours on our society, you can read these posts.  

An Open Letter to Mothers Regarding Body Image
An Open Letter to Teen Girls and Young Women Regarding Body Image
An Open Letter to Men Regarding the Body Image of Women

Thursday, July 30, 2015

6 Reasons Why You Should Hula Hoop


(For your convenience, this post may contain affiliate links)

I have peaked a bit of curiosity in many this past week since I got out my weighted hula hoop and starting hula hooping for the first time in my life.

I admit, it is kind of curious why a 31-year-old mother of three would start hula hooping.  There are plenty of good reasons.  But, for the sake of time, I'll just give you six!

1)  It's great aerobic exercise.  It takes a whole lot of controlled motion and breathing to keep that hoop going!  If you hoop for at least 10 minutes, you will feel the difference.  For the average women, it can burn up to 165 calories in 30 minutes, and for the average man, a whopping 200 calories in just 30 minutes!

2)  It engages and strengthens more than just your core.  When basic hula hooping, you must engage several parts of your body--- your, knees, hips, chest, and shoulders---to move in rhythm with your waist.  Your waist, of course has to be moving back and forth and all those body parts I just listed have to move a bit less, but in rhythm with your waist.  That may sound hard explained in words.  Deanne from HoopLovers gives a great video instruction here.  This is the video that after not being able to hula hoop all my life, I was able to do it the first time after seeing her explanation of how to do it!

3)  It's fun and can improve your mood!  I will be buying hula hoops for my kids this weekend (or perhaps attempting to make them!) so they can participate with me.  It gets those endorphins going while I just let that hoop go around and around and around!  Turn on some music for just 10 minutes and do some hula hooping, and, honestly, you really can't stay in a bad mood!

4)  It's cheaper than a tummy tuck and a whole lot more fun (and effective) than crunches.  Seriously, though, folks.  After just one use, my core seemed firmer.  With each use, I can do more continuous rotations of the hoop---I'm up to 1,243---but whose counting?  Remember, before I started using this larger, wide, weighted hoop, I couldn't keep it going for more than 2 rotations.  I feel stronger in a very short amount of time, and it is awesome!

5)  It's low impact and activates joints.  People of all ages can hula hoop!  There are several in the 50+ crowd who reviewed the same hoop that I have and were very pleased and surprised they could do it!  I've noticed that high-impact exercise like jogging makes my previous abdominal injury from surgery hurt, but due to this exercise being low impact, the injury doesn't hurt a bit.  It also is great for those with joint conditions, like arthritis, as it improves joint flexibility.

6)  The hoop has withstood the test of time.  The Egyptians used it to test agility in their hoop games. Native American, Tony White Cloud, made the hoop dance popular in the1930s when he would perform at public events, and then he went on to tour the United States and Europe with Gene Autry.  It clearly became popular in the 50s and again in the 80s, for good reason!  (Hooping.org)

After these amazing benefits of hula hooping have been listed, I'm sure you want to get a hula hoop, right?*  I was able to get mine from a garage sale, but they are also available on Amazon.  If you read my post on how to build your home gym frugally, you would know I always check garage sales and Craigslist for deals before going to Amazon.  Craigslist may even have them in your area.  I just checked my area on Craigslist and there were several Acu-Hoops for sale from $15-30 dollars.  They run from about $32-$45 dollars on Amazon.

*Here is a bit of a disclaimer on the weighted Acu-Hoop:  After your first or second use of the weighted hoop, you may experience bruising around your hips or waist.  This is normal.  It's almost like building up a callus on your finger with working with tools or learning how to play the guitar.  That bruising will go away.  If you find you are bruised and it hurts to hula hoop, wait at least two days and try again.  You'll find that it won't hurt and you'll bruise less and less until you don't bruise anymore.  It may take a week or two for this process to work out.  It is well worth it, though, to keep trying.  Again, the bruising is normal and will go away.  You can read several reviews on the subject on Amazon.


Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Frugal Ways to Build Your Home Gym


(For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links)

I am a firm believer in the fact that you don't have to spend much money to get fit.  That's right.  No expensive gym memberships that you don't use enough anyway.  No pricey workout dvd programs.  No $1,200 Boflex machines.  You just need simple, creative tools you can use in your own home, backyard, or even take with you to the park.  Here's a list of ways you can frugally build your home gym!


1)  Craigslist.  I once got a weight bench, 120-lbs in weights, a barbell, a curl bar, and two dumbbell bars for twenty bucks!  I searched Criagslist off and on on for a couple months.  When I saw the post, we called, and snatched up the amazing deal!  Big ticket items can go for pretty cheap if people are moving and/or are desperate to get rid of the items that typically take up space if they aren't being used.

2)  Garage/Yard Sales.  Dumbbells, exercise bands, and other smaller exercise equipment are commonly found at garage sales.  This is where I scored my Acu-Hoop hula hoop for two bucks!  Know the price of the equipment that it is sold for in stores, so you can know if the seller is giving you a good price.

3)  Local Facebook rummage sale groups.  "ISO" or "In search of" is a way you can post an inquiry about an item you are looking for.  In these groups, for example, you can say "ISO weight bench with weights," and hope to get a reply.  You can also scroll these groups for deals on what you are looking for.  Search Facebook for local sale groups in your area. 

4)  New Years Sales.  I know New Years Day may be a while from now, but it is when every store takes advantage of New Years resolutions and puts all their fitness equipment on sale.  If you want deals on brand new equipment, this may be the way to go!  Keep your eyes peeled for sales around the end of the year and through the beginning of the year!

5)  Make your own gym.  I made a homemade version of a kettle bell, a "kettle bottle"  for VERY cheap (view here).  I'm moving on to a homemade balance beam for my daughter.  Pinterest is a great way to find instructions on how to make almost anything for your home gym.  Weigh out the price of the materials and then go for it!

6)  Use your space.  Don't have money for a pricey gym membership?  No problem!  Set your gym up in your garage, spare bedroom/office, or a covered patio, weather permitting!  

7)  Use items in your home or yard for equipment.  A blogger, "Diary of a Fit Mommy,"  uses her couch to workout.  Use your stairs or steps if you have them.  Pinterest has some great stair workouts.  Use sandbags or bags of (clean) kitty litter to do squats with.  Use wash cloths under your hands or feet on a slick floor to make plank exercises more challenging.

8)  Turn your backyard into an obstacle course.   Use stools, chairs, or benches, outdoor toys, pool noodles, balls, You can set it up in a way that is challenging for adults, but fun for kids as well.  Is it hot?  Throw the sprinklers on for an extra "challenge."

9)  Use your kids.  Be safe and mindful, of course, but if you have small kids that aren't afraid of riding on your shoulders while you do squats or sitting on your back as you plank or do push-ups, then include them!  Use them as weights!  Chances are, they'll enjoy it!  You can use this post as a reference! 

10)  Amazon.  If you aren't a DIY-er, don't have time to go to garage sales, and don't want to wait till New Years to get a good sale price, Amazon just may be the way to go.  I bought a 40-lb weight set for my hubby nearly three years ago.  It is still about the same price, and at $49.99 for 40-lbs of adjustable weights with the dumbbell bars, that is a great deal.  I've looked in stores, and can't find a set at this price.  We still use them three years later!  The best thing about Amazon is that you can compare prices around the internet and you can also read a good amount of reviews before you make your purchase.


What ways have you built your home gym on the cheap?  How have you saved money while getting fit?


Did you like what you read here?  Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for more frequent fitness and nutrition related posts! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

20 Scrumptious Snacks


(For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.)


Sometimes you just need a snack.  When trying to meet your nutritional needs and goals, it's important to keep snacks healthy and full of protein.  Here are TWENTY of my favorite easy snack ideas and recipes!  This is a cheat sheet from two years of my Instagram and blog tried and true snacks and recipes!  Enjoy!




1.  Honey Roasted Chickpeas with pear wedges.


2.  Cheese Stick wrapped in ham or turkey and paired with apple wedges.


3.  Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries (recipe below).


4.  Cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices with homemade Tzatziki.



5.  Raisin Bread (Ezekiel) toasted and spread with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, sprinked with unsweetened coconut on top.  Strawberries on the side.



6.  Caprese Salad (Layer tomato slices, basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.



7.  Cucumber slices (or spiraled) and cottage cheese, sprinkled with fresh dill.




8.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats.  1/4 c quick oats, 1/2 scoop Chocolate Whey Protein, 1 Tsp Peanut Butter, and to top: peanut butter Puffins cereal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and unsweetened coconut flakes.




9.  1/2 a banana drizzled with peanut butter and topped with unsweetened coconut and a few semi-sweet chocolate chips.



10.  Get your afternoon chocolate fix on a hot afternoon with a Chocolate Mint Smoothie. Recipe: Blend 10 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 12 mint leaves, 1 1/2 very ripe bananas, 2 scoops chocolate whey protein, 2 Tbsp chia seed, and 3 cups frozen spinach until smooth. Serves 2.



11.  Parmesan Herb Roasted Chickpeas with tomato slices.



12.  Questbars.  They are so yummy and pretty clean ingredients!  Low in sugar! Try this:

Brownie Quest Bar + coconut Greek yogurt + dark chocolate + toasted almond slivers.




13.  Pumpkin Mug Cake.  This recipe is quick, filling, and healthy!


14.  A handful of pistachios with an apple.



15. 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter with celery sticks sprinkled with raisins or chocolate chips ("ants on a log").



16.  Cumbers, tomatoes, and chives, chopped and tossed with feta and dill.



17.  Cottage cheese paired with pineapples or kiwi, or any fruit you'd like!



18.  1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter with apple wedges.



19.  Almond Joy Greek Yogurt. Mix 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt and 1/2 scoop/serving chocolate protein powder until smooth. Top with 2 tsp unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips, and a few slivered almonds.


20.  "Protein Poppers" paired with a fruit or a veggie.


Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries


INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 tsp stevia (more or less to taste)
1 graham cracker sheet crushed (optional for topping)
Strawberries, tops removed and inside cut out (I also cut off the tips so they would stand flat!) 


PROCEDURE
🍓Combine cream cheese, vanilla, greek yogurt and stevia in food processor/blender until well combined.
🍓Chill mixture for 1 hour.
🍓Pipe into strawberries (about 1tsp each, depending on size)
🍓Sprinkle graham cracker crust on top.

NUTRITION
Filling will fill around 30 strawberries, each one is around 10 calories!

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Open Letter to Men Regarding Women's Body Image

I'm going to be up front with you here.  This is a series of letters of honest observation of the world around me, whether that be social media, mainstream media, big-stream stores, or the high school across the street from me.  It is not meant to condemn or offend, but perhaps open an honest conversation about the lack of modesty and what influences our view of what a woman should like like.

The other letters in this series:

An Open Letter to Mothers Regarding Body Image
An Open Letter to Young Women and Teen Girls Regarding Body Image


To Husbands, Boyfriends, Men in General


Men.  Let's be honest.  You may have read all the other letters on modesty linked above out of curiosity.  If not, I will let you in on a secret.  I spoke of porn.  That is such a bad word in our society, but it's not because people necessarily think its that bad.  I've seen it excused as normal, even justified many times in the media.  Just because it is easier to give in and and look at scantly-clad, fake women, doesn't mean it's normal or what you should do.

The porn industry influences so much.  From Carl's Jr. commercials, to Victoria Secret ads, to more sex scenes on TV, to the fitness industry.  You know what I am talking about.  These are not real women.  You can't have real relationships with these women and you can't expect women in your relationships to be like that.  If you are looking at porn, please STOP!!!

Source: fightthenewdrug.org
Research shows that viewing porn contributes to objectifying woman and diminishing real sexual and physical relationships.  I've known boys who have grown into men with the addiction of porn.  These men get married.  Their addiction is not addressed.  It seems normal to them.  Then, their marriage starts to fall apart.  To quote FightTheNewDrug.org, "Porn kills Love."  These men loved their wives at one point.  Maybe they would even say they loved their wives after their families were torn apart by divorce.  But, they let their addiction to porn reign over their wife, their family, their relationships...their life.

Perhaps you think you have control and only look at it every once in a while.  I encourage you that you don't have control.  Control is NEVER giving in.  It may take a lot of praying, fighting temptation, and asking to be held accountable by loved ones, but there are ways you can make sure you never give in.  It is possible.  So, if you find yourself looking at porn, even every now and then, do yourself a favor, your wife, or future wife a favor and stop.  Don't kid yourself into thinking it's normal or okay.  It can prevent you from having a real relationship, or it can really skew your view of what your real relationship should look like.  It is not worth giving in.


So with that, I want to encourage husbands and fathers. Love your wives, no matter how much weight she has gained since you said "I do," or how much she has put on since having kids.  Love her no matter how much her body may change after having babies.  Love her where she is at and encourage her.   Don't compare her to the porn-influenced media ideas of how a woman should look.  Don't expect her to get back to exactly as she was before kids.  It probably won't happen.  And that's ok.  Having kids has changed the both of you for the better.

Encourage your wife to be woman you want your kids to look up to, to watch as they grow. Please, don't encourage them unnecessary and unnaturally change their bodies to look like what everyone else thinks a woman's body should look like.  She is the mother of your children.  Those children watch everything.  Aging is normal and can be beautiful.  There is so much pressure on women coming from practically every direction to look a certain way.  Be your wife's haven from all of that.

Sincerely,


The Woman who Became a Wife and Mother


P.S.  If you find yourself falling into the temptation of viewing porn, PLEASE GET HELP HERE.


"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV

Friday, July 17, 2015

An Open Letter to Young Women and Teen Girls Regarding Body Image

I'm going to be up front with you here.  This is a series of letters of honest observation of the world around me, whether that be social media, mainstream media, big-stream stores, or the high school across the street from me.  It is not meant to condemn or offend, but perhaps open an honest conversation about the lack of modesty and what influences our view of what a woman should like like.

The other letters in this series:

An Open Letter to Mothers Regarding Body Image
An Open Letter to Men Regarding Women's Body Image

To Teenage Girls or Young Women:


I see a lot of you most days of the year.  We live directly across the street from a high school.  Not only that, it's only been about 12  years since I've been a teenager.  Now, bear with me.  I know that kind of makes me sound old, but I'm still too young to be your mother.  What do I see when I look at most teenage girls?  I see girls who are struggling with body image and modesty as a result of the pressures of the society that surrounds them.

When I was 14, I bought a skirt with my birthday money.  It was an awesome, mid-thigh length black skirt with a slit.  It made me look great, and even I thought so, despite being overly self conscious.  I brought it home to my parents and tried it on for them.  My mom shook her head in disapproval.  My dad agreed.  I [probably] stormed back to my room, upset.  But, they were on to something.  I wasn't an underdeveloped little girl anymore.  I had developed into a woman a couple years before and was still getting used to dressing myself modestly to not overly expose...things.  My grandma let the skirt down an inch, and sewed the slit up a bit, and I was allowed to wear it.

Was it worth the fight?  Was it worth my parents putting their foot down and not letting me wear the skirt without alteration?  Absolutely.  And I learned that very soon.  Everyday I would walk home from school and had to pass by a bunch of bee keepers to get to my neighborhood.  It was at that point, while wearing that altered skirt, that these 25-40-something-year-old men would whistle and yell out sexual comments to me for the first time and then every time I passed thereafter.  I would get nervous and walk fast, but nothing really helped.

It was in the skirt that a boy in my 9th grade health science class told me I looked "so sophisticated and sexy." He was the same boy that attempted to feel-me up in front of my yearbook teacher in 12th grade.  He did so successfully, and when I shoved him off me, I got scolded by the teacher who favored him. Oh!  The joys of public school!

Yes.  My parents were onto something.  It may have not been that skirt that sent that teenage boy into a 4-year fantasy about me, but it certainly helped him get there.  I remember my dad telling me that he was once a teenage boy and he knew how they think.  He was protecting me---as best he could.  

So, to those girls wearing those short skirts, cut off shorts, crop tops, low cut shirts, and other clothing items that show your "assets," please know that not only teenage boys but 25-40-something men may be looking at you.  Perhaps undressing you with their eyes.  Please know that you don't have to show your assets for men, or let's be more honest, boys, to be attracted to you.  You don't have to look like that Victoria Secret model or even Ariana Grande to attract anyone.  YOU DON'T HAVE TO!  Anyone who truly is attracted to ALL OF YOU would not require you to dress with your bum hanging out your shorts.


"You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

You are worth so much more than just your bodies.  There is worth in your entire being.  God created you to have a body and soul.  You only have one body and one soul.  He made you unique.  You are the only one just like you.  Preserve that. You can preserve both your body and soul by not giving into immodesty and sexual lusts.

It may be hard, and somewhat impossible to do that perfectly.   We are broken and in need of a Savior to cover our brokenness and shame. When we see our sin, when we see how vulnerable we are to sin, and our need for a Savior from that sin, we see pricelessness in the Grace of God.  That heart of thankfulness then desires to please God and follow Christ.   This is something that we strive to do everyday.  We will fail, but we strive anyway, knowing that Christ is where our strength lies.  This is why it is important to be modest.  Your body is meant for more than just the sexual attraction of men!  It is so much more than that!

Showing off your chest, your stomach, your legs, or your butt is like advertisement to the wrong kind of men.  If you believe that your body is for a bigger purpose than sexually attracting boys or men, do you really want the first thing a boy to see is your butt hanging out of that bikini?  If you are ok with that, do you really think he can pay attention to any meaningful conversation you are having with him while wearing that bikini?  Let's be honest.  Probably not.

Source: fightthenewdrug.org

Let's also consider where a lot of boys and men unfortunately get their influence of what women should look like.  Porn.  And if not porn, soft porn.  Or perhaps those Victoria Secret catalogs that come in the mail for their moms.  Or the way J. Lo looks on stage.  Or all those photos of women with the breast enhancements on Instagram.  They are hard to miss!  It is so easy to access.  It could get into boys' hands at a very young age.

I know boys who became men, tried to hold down a marriage, and couldn't because of their early exposure to Pornography.  Yes, girls, it's THAT BAD.  It shapes the illegal Sex Trafficking industry in not only foreign countries but our own country.  Girls are held captive, bought, sold, and abused because these men view woman as objects, not people with souls.

Now, I'm not saying all men are like this, but I will go to say most men have struggled with a few too many clicks of the mouse in the direction of porn.  Believe me, you would much rather have a man who perhaps has struggled with porn, hates it for what it is, and fights against it, than one who is shaped by it and has completely given into it (Source: Wiley Online Library).  You are more likely to attract the later if you are dressed in a way that exposes too much.

With all that said.  Please, check yourself.  Why are you wearing the shirt with the arm holes so large that it shows your entire lace bra?  Why are you wearing shorts so short that your cheeks show? Is it because you respect your body?  Or is it because that is what you feel is normal...what is expected of you?

 Society's view of how you should look can start to shape your view of yourself and your body. If that is what you feel is normal, break the mold.  It may be hard to walk into a  store and find longer shorts, but let me tell you, it's possible.  I do it.  There are plenty of other women who do it.  And, perhaps if more young women stop buying the short, booty-exposing shorts, companies may get the hint and stop making as many.

Don't expect boys to respect your body if you don't.  Respect your body and you may just attract those who respect you for who you really are.

Sincerely,


A Girl Who Became A Woman



Check back on Monday for the last letter in this series, a letter to Men regarding the body image of women!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

An Open Letter to Mothers Regarding Body Image

I'm going to be up front with you here.  This is a series of letters of honest observation of the world around me, whether that be social media, mainstream media, big-stream stores, or the high school across the street from me.  It is not meant to condemn or offend, but perhaps open an honest conversation about the lack of modesty and what influences our view of what a woman should look like.

Other Letters in this Series:

An Open Letter to Young Women and Teen Girls Regarding Body Image
An Open Letter to Men Regarding Women's Body Image

To The Mother Who Struggles With Her After Baby Body:

(and those into fitness, trying to get your body back...or better...)


I know the struggle.  I know the insecurities, the shock, the disbelief.  WHAT in the world has happened to your body?  And how come Brooke Burke can look so amazing after 4 kids???  We all know the answers to those questions.  Nine (actually 10 for most) months of hormones going haywire to support the growth, birth, and breastfeeding of a little, precious person.  It may look like your chest has dropped into your stomach.  If you've lost your baby weight, your chest may have disappeared and gone into your biceps.  Or perhaps you are back to your pre-baby weight, but, due to one or multiple c-sections, you have that extra skin and fat that have taken residence on your lower abdomen. Things may look bleak in regards to your after-baby-body.  But, there is good news!  You don't have to identify yourself with how society all around you thinks you should look.

Pregnancy wreaked havoc on my body, inside and out, all the way to my liver not being able to handle my last two pregnancies well.  I am thankful to be alive!  I am also thankful for my health after pregnancies and the fact that even though my body isn't the same as before babies, I AM HEALTHY!  I'm stronger than before, in every way.  I am truly thankful.
Please know this:  You do NOT have to be the same as before kids.   An article on the Baby Center website states that men who were shown sketches of women and asked which ones were ideal, often pick the bigger body sizes than what women think is ideal for themselves.  Your husband or [insert label here] should love you just the way you are.  They should love you for making an effort to take care of yourself and your child(ren).  They can encourage you to get fit, but shouldn't encourage to change your body in anyway.  Stretch marks are ok, in fact they are common and normal.

Model Chrissy Teigen set off a viral hashtag after she posted an honest picture of stretch marks on her thighs.  Thousands of women followed suit in posting their honest, mostly unedited photos of their stretch marks.   Just like stretch marks, that extra skin above your c-section scar, you can accept as normal.  You don't need to replace the chest you lost in breastfeeding your babies with a DD piece of silicon.  You don't need that to feel good about yourself!

I know how it feels to go through all those body changes listed above.  I've been there.  I've gained 60 pounds twice in my life and lost more than that twice.  I gave birth to three kids in three and a half years.  I breastfed all of them, struggled with one, and had to give that up for formula feeding after he didn't gain weight because I stopped producing milk.  I know the struggle of balance of "Who am I as a mother?  Who am I as a wife....as a woman?"

It's been over three years since I stopped breastfeeding my youngest.  I can tell you my body is still changing.  For the better.  It's taken a while, but I have accepted what I have left.  It took prayer.  It took knowing that this body was not my own in the first place, but God's who gave it to me.  It took that no matter how anyone else saw me in this world, no matter how far I was from what a woman "should be,"  God saw me as a precious daughter.  HIS precious daughter.  And because His Son died for all my imperfections, God sees me perfectly.  Without blemishes, spots, or lines.

Thankfully, I have a supportive husband, who has gone with me through all these body changes and has supported me, no matter what my bra size is.  That sounds harsh, but I know there are some husbands who "prefer" their wives to be a certain size.  I have a whole message for them, so just wait!    Your chest size, no matter what it is after baby, is just fine.  Unless it is causing medical issues (back problems), is their really a good reason to change it?  If you identify yourself by your chest size, please ask yourself where that image comes from.  Does it come from where you used to be, or perhaps from what other women in mainstream media or social look like?

Source: fightthenewdrug.org

As a fitness blogger, I see SO many women in the fitness industry who get work done on their bodies.  Most of this work is breast enhancements.  I came across a photo yesterday of a women who "liked" a photo of mine.  I clicked on her account only to have my iPhone screen fill with photos of her in tight, low cut tank tops and sports bras to show off her perfect round and plump breast enhancement.  THAT is not what REAL women look like!  And the response to these photos?  On average, 2,600 likes and 85 comments of men who were enthralled with her chest in a creepy, not-so-romantic way.

WOMEN!  Don't settle for changing your body to be accepted by men!  Accept your after-baby body knowing that their is always room for fitness and improvement, but if that means having muscles covered in a little fat here and there, loose skin, stretch marks, and a chest that isn't the same as before, THAT IS OK!  You have done amazing things with that body!  You have grown a person in that body, gave birth, and have kept that person alive!  That is incredible.

Strive for health, not for being that fit women on Instagram with the boob job.  She's paid more than just money to look that way.  I'm not saying every addition, subtraction or change to your body through surgery is wrong, but please consider why you desire for the change.  Strive to be an example to your children of what a real woman is.  Don't feel the pressure to be like Brooke Burke or J. Lo.  Most celebrities are paid to look good, but most women I know don't have that luxury.



Mothers, you are fine just the way you are.  In fact, you are beautiful.  You are unique creation of God.  There is no one else just like you.  We find our beauty because we are created in the image of God, but because of sin, we are broken.  That brokenness can skew our view of our own bodies.  But, for those who surrender their lives to Christ, who paid the price of death for our imperfections and sin, we can know that our bodies are made for more than just man.  They are made for God.  They are His own.  They are made to bring Him glory.  What an awesome purpose for our body!  So, no matter your pant size, your stretch marks, or your insecurities of what your weight should be, if you are a daughter of God, He sees you as perfect.

" You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. 
So glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

Sincerely,


A Woman who Became a Mother


P.S.  Please don't take your children, male or female, into Victoria Secret with you.  Have them sit with their dad or someone else you know somewhere outside of the store.  Research shows the photos in the windows and displayed all over the store can start to shape in their minds what a woman should look like.  And it is just lies.  Blatant lies.  Protect your children.  Don't pretend it can't effect them at an early age.  I know.  My 5 year old daughter just asked me why her stomach isn't flat.  They look.  They observe.  They see.  Please be mindful of that.  Don't let your children sit on the floor of Victoria Secret while you shop for underwear.  I observed this situation last week and it broke my heart.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

9 AmaZING Zucchini Recipes



Have you been blessed with a copious amount of zucchini---a plethora of that delicious Italian Squash?  Perhaps you didn't spot that eight pound monstrosity growing in your garden until it was too late.  Maybe your neighbors keep sharing their plentiful harvest with you.  No worries!  I've got my favorite, tried and true zucchini recipes right here!

A majority of these recipes are gluten free.  The recipes that had all-purpose flour, I usually substitute a combination of coconut flour, oat flour, and whole-wheat flour.  For sugar, I usually substitute 1/2 Stevia in the Raw and 1/2 raw honey.

A medium zucchini contains only 33 calories, 2.4 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbs.  It also contains a good amount of vitamin C.   Zucchini also boasts amounts of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, phytonutrients in the carotene family (good for your eyes!).  It also is high in Maganese, a mineral essential to heal wounds and needed in the development of new tissues.  (Source: Livestrong.com)  Zucchini is a great substitute for pasta or bread on a low-carb day.

Without further ado, here are some delicious recipes containing that common, but valuable Italian Squash:


Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins by Craving Chronicles and Table for Two


Avocado Pesto Zoodles by Witness my Fitness


Zucchini Fritter with Tzatziki by Alexandra Cooks


Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by Laurie Jesch-Kulseth @ Relishing It


Zucchini Brownies by MamaChanty @ Mamma Eats Clean


Zucchini Lasagna by Jo and Sue


Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread by Kayla @ Radiant Life


Zucchini Tots by Curious Country Cook


Grilled Zucchini Pizza by Kalyn's Kitchen


And, because I love zucchini so much, here is a bonus recipe:


EPIC Bacon and Egg Zucchini Boat

by Witness my Fitness

If you are wondering how to make an epic bacon and egg zucchini boats, here's how! 

Step 1: Grill or broil your zucchini half. 
Step 2: Top with egg. 
Step 3: Add bacon. 
Step 4: Add cheese. 
Step 5:  Top with fresh pico de gallo, avocado, and Greek yogurt.  Devour. 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pretty Powerful Protein Products



(For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.)



(I love alliteration.  Can you tell?)

In the last few days, I've had a few readers and friends ask me what protein products I use.  I thought it would be helpful if I posted what I use here so I could include links to the products. This is not an advertisement, but just simply sharing with everyone what products you will find in my pantry.  So, here it goes!

Protein Powder


I love Designer Whey protein powder.  Any of their chocolate flavors will suit me just fine.  However, I have a friend who is allergic to chocolate (!!!), so I have to say, their French Vanilla flavor is pretty good as well.  This protein powder is what I use for my quick protein smoothies with just frozen spinach and coconut milk.  It tastes amazing with just those two ingredients!  If I'm feeling in need of carbs, I add 1/2 a banana!  This protein is sweetened with Stevia and has all natural ingredients.  And, at about $0.70 a serving it's a cheap source of good protein!  (Protein: 18g, Carbs: 6g, Sugar: 2g, Fiber 3g, Calories: 100)

For fruity smoothies, I prefer the unflavored Jarrow Whey protein powder.  I like using unflavored protein when I have fruity smoothies so I can taste the fruit and not the flavor of the protein powder.  You can view some of my fruit smoothie recipes here. (Protein:18g, Carbs: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Fiber: 0g, Calories: 94)

Protein Bars


Questbars are my favorite.  They aren't so frugal, running at least $2 a bar, but they are SO good!  If I am going to a party or gathering that I know will have a yummy dessert, I bring one of these and my hubby and I split it to treat ourselves while everyone eats dessert.  I can pass on dessert for one of these.  Yes.  They are that good!  My favorite flavors are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, White Chocolate Raspberry, and  S'mores.  They have 20 grams of protein and between 1-4 grams of sugar and natural ingredients!  They are also gluten free.  That makes this hypoglycemic girl pretty happy!

Pure Protein Bars are a great option and good for your wallet.  These are cheaper, so they are more doable on a budget.  Costco, Target, and Amazon carry these. Our local grocery stores carry them as well.  You can find them for a little over $1 a bar if purchased in bulk. The have 20 grams of protein and 2 grams of sugar.  My favorite flavors so far are the Chocolate Caramel Peanut and the Chocolate Brownie.

Other Protein Products


The Complete Cookie is in a whole other ball park.  I first bought this protein packed cookie for our vacation, which we traveled 3,500 miles by car.  That called for some satisfying snacks!  In comes The Complete Cookie.  My hubby and I shared this cookie, but were still able to only eat 1/2 a serving!  It was delicious and rich...just what a chocolate cookie should be!  They run between $1.50 to just over $2 each, but have two (or if you are like me, 4) servings in each cookie.  Each serving has about 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  A very satisfying snack, indeed!  My favorite flavors are Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia, and Snickerdoodle.  


I have always been a fan of Kodiak Cakes.  And then they outdid themselves! They came out with a protein-packed version of their flapjack mix, Power Cakes! You can still have your light, fluffy pancakes, and get protein with that too! These delicious, all natural flapjacks have 14grams of protein per serving, 5g of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar.   The carbs are a good 30 grams, which is great for breakfast.  I usually pair these with eggs and fruit and have an awesome, protein-packed breakfast! Now, the tricky thing about Kodiak Cakes is that they are manufactured in Southern California, but you can't find them in bulk here!  For some reason, Costcos in California haven't yet clued into the fact that this product is AWESOME!!!  So, every year, when we vacation in Utah (where the company's headquarters are) or in Washington, we stock up for an entire year.   You can, however, find this product on Amazon (linked above) for at least double the price of Costco.  You can also find smaller boxes at about the same price per ounce as Amazon at Target and Albertsons.