Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pico de Gallo

Did you know that Pico de Gallo literally means "Rooster's Beak?"  There are many theories as to why it is named this from the way it used to be eaten with the thumb and the forefinger, as a rooster would peck to the colors being similar to the colors of a rooster, but nobody seems to know the certain origins of the salsa's name (Source).  In Mexico, it is also called "Salsa Fresca" and "Salsa Mexicana."

I have the privilege of living next to what we call "farms," but are really large fields with stands to sale what they grow.  This summer, my favorite thing to buy there is tomatoes, chiles, onions, and cilantro.  I then make pico de gallo out of it and put it on anything from eggs to salad to tacos.  This recipe is so easy to make you may never buy salsa again!

Pico de Gallo

1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2-3 chilies (I use Anaheim chilies for a mild salsa, for medium use Serrano), chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced

Combine all ingredients.


(Yes.  It's THAT easy!)

Pico de gallo goes great on a zucchini boat! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

She Dresses Herself with Strength

How many have read Proverbs 31 and have been inspired by the woman who has become one of the main role models for Christian women?  I have.  Although, I would have to admit, I also become intimidated by all the things she does. I have to remember I can't do anything without the strength of God.  I must remember that I will fail no matter how hard I try, but God gives grace, and I must give myself grace too.

With that in mind, I'm going to focus on the two verses that jumped off the pages this morning as I was reading Proverbs 31.  The other day, while considering moving a full sized deep freezer on my own, I realized that I have the physical strength to do that, and I was reminded of the purpose of strength and how easily swayed we are from that due to vanity.

The first verse that jumped out at me in Proverbs 31 was in the middle of the passage explaining the woman's physical work that she did for her family.  Proverbs 31:17 says,

"She dresses herself with strength

and makes her arms strong."(ESV)

In context, the passage is speaking of this women, this wife, buying fields and planting them.  When it says "dresses herself" it actually is referring to "girding her loins," which is what they had to do to prepare for physical activity.  They wore long robes and had to tie them up.  This supports the view of getting fit for the purpose of functional fitness---being able to have to strength to carry out everyday activity.  And, if you need to move a freezer or a wood pile, you have the strength to do that as well.  This is actually quite inspiring!  The value of a woman's strength is in the Bible!  It is good for a woman to be strong.  It is good for her to have strength to do the things she needs to do in order to take care of her family and household!  

Contrary to this functional fitness, I see a lot of woman who seem to be fit for vanity's sake.   Proverbs 31:30 says, 

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (ESV)

What exactly is vanity?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, "the quality of people who have too much pride in their own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc. : the quality of being vain."How can we take pride in our strength, yet not become vain?  The answer is simply giving the glory to God---truly giving it to him.  Understand that He is where your strength came from.  God created us in His image.  The human body is a beautiful creation. Give Him the Glory.   Praise the creator, not the creation. (Read Romans 1:25)

Beauty can be vain.  It shows in many areas of the fitness world where there is no sign of God truly being praised for His magnificent creation.  It's a challenge to remember to give Glory to God, even on "Flex Friday!"  As humans, we all will naturally be inclined to vanity.  Vanity can deceive you.  It can deter you from keeping your eyes truly on Christ and your purpose as a Christian, to bring glory to God.

So how then, do we as Christians, stay clear of vanity when it comes to fitness and strength?   I'm not going to give you a list of "Do's and Don'ts."  Just examine your heart continually.  When you are posting that photo on Instagram, ask yourself, "Why?"  Is it because we know that certain kind of photo will gain followers?  Is it because we desire to bring glory to the One Who Made Us strong?  When you decide to join a competition, is it to reveal in your own strength, or His?  I"m not going to say it's wrong to post photos of yourself flexing, but there is a difference between posting modestly to encourage others verses posting photos that only your husband should see.  

What encouragement can we get from these passages?  There certainly is a balance.  The purpose of our strength should not be solely for showing off muscles.  It shouldn't be to show off our body.  That kind of beauty can be vain because we are not bring glory to our Creator, but the creation.  But, strength is a good thing!  Go ahead!  Do those deadlifts!  Run that 5k!  Do those handstands!  Gain strength and take the glory to our Mighty Creator who created such potentially strong and functional bodies!  

This way, if your car breaks down, you can push it to the curb!  If your freezer needs to be defrosted, you can roll it outside.  If your four year old needs a nap in the middle of Pike's Place Market, you can hold his dead weight of 40lbs for an hour.  You can go for an early morning run, pack your kids up for a whole day of errands, return home, cook dinner, clean the kitchen, bathe the kids, and still survive.  This is functional fitness.  This is the kind of strength that brings glory to God and honestly shows what we were created for.  This is the kind of strength that helps us live functional and active lives for our families.  It goes so much deeper than flexed muscles.  Go ahead, dress yourself, prepare for action, and make your arms strong!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Total Body HIIT Workout

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Looking for a simple, but great workout to get you sweating?  This HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout will get you sweating, burn fat, and build muscle!  Try it out and let me know what you think! If you like it, share it!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Exercise Ball Workout

For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.

Trends come and trends go, especially concerning fitness equipment.  Do you remember the Thigh Master?  Unfortunately, I do.  But, one piece of equipment that has stood the test of time for me is my exercise ball.  I've had this ball for eight years now.  I've used it regularly for exercise and it got me through 3 pregnancies with sciatica. Today, I'd like to share  with you my favorite exercises on the ball!  Warm up for five minutes, grab your exercise ball, and join me!  

(The workout should take 25-30 minutes.)

Exercise Ball Workout

Do 12 reps of each exercise, unless the exercise says "Hold," in which case, hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat each set three times!

Set 1:
(Exercises 1-4)

1.  Sit ups on ball.  Sit on ball and roll slighly so your lower back is firmly on the ball.  Sit up, with neck relaxed and core engaged and repeat.

2.  One-legged squat.  Balance one leg on ball.  Squat with other leg, making sure knees don't go past toes.  Complete reps, then switch sides and repeat.

3.  Leg raise.  Start with ball on ground.  Grip ball between calves.  Lift ball until feet point to ceiling (or sky!), lower and repeat.

4.  Plank hold on ball.  Feet shoulder width apart.  Hold ball on both sides and slowly walk out until you are in the plank position. Hold.

Set 2:
(Exercises 5-8)

5.  Adductor Squeeze. Lay on side.  Hold ball between calves.  Lift ball slightly while squeezing inner thighs and lower back down.  Complete reps and repeat on the other side.

6.  Back Extension.  Lay on ball on stomach, with feet wide for stability.  Extend back up and lower back down until stomach is laying on ball again.  Repeat.

7.  Pike hold.  Start with feet on ball and body in a plank position.  Roll feet slowly up on ball so your bum is pointed in the air and lower head down.  Hold. (If this is difficult, and legs don't go as straight, hold with legs bent and work towards straightening legs.)

8.  Glute bridge.  Lay down with arms down by sides and feet on ball.  Keep body straight, engage core and glutes as you move your pelvis up and back down again.  Repeat.

Set 3:
(Exercises 9-12)

9.  Glute Tuck.  Start in the same position as the glute bridge.  Roll feet on ball until it almost "tucks" under legs.  Return to start position and repeat.

10.  Pushups on ball.  Start in standing position.  Roll your body out on ball until you are in the pushup position.  To make it easier, you can roll out just to your knees, if needed.  Push up and down on ball as you would regular pushups. 

11.  Side lunges.  Place foot and calf on ball.  Lunge down, making sure feet are straight and knees do not go over toes.  Go back up and repeat.

12. Back Stretch.  Start with bum against the ball and legs in a 90 degree position.  Lay back on ball slowly while walking your feet out so your legs are stretched.  Continue the stretch with your arms stretching out and back down towards the ground.  Hold. 

Cool down!  

I hope you enjoy this workout!  Please feel free to comment and give me feedback on how this workout went for you!

If you'd like to purchase a ball similar to the one I have, please click on this link!

For more info on how to pick out the right size ball for your height, click here!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How to Be a Better Mom

Recognize that you are just a mess.  And so is almost every other mom.

I'm coming out of a busy, but wonderful week of coordinating VBS.  My house is a disaster area.  Toys are out of place.  Hampers are full.  Clean laundry awaits being put away (because that is the hardest part!).  I have stacks of curriculum to go through.  My desk is covered with piles of organized chaos.  Weeds with killer thorns have taken over half my garden and I can't seem to keep them under control myself.  My lawn needs to be mowed in the backyard.  My refrigerator needs to be cleaned.  Glaciers of ice have taken over the deep freezer in the garage.  Oh!  The garage!  We won't even go there...

With all this said, I have seen so many pins pinned and posts posted on how everyone does things just so cute, organized and creative.  "How to organize your homeschool room."  "How to organize your kitchen."  "10 steps to always have a clean home." "How to get perfect abs, butt, or arms." "How to conquer laundry once and for all."  "How to create the perfect routine."

All the pins and posts on how everyone is living their life perfectly can start to weigh on a woman.  The truth is, though, as moms, most of us are a hot mess, apart from the grace of God.  Or maybe I'm the only one who struggles with getting one area of her life "together" only for everything else to fall apart.  If I get all my workouts in the week, laundry starts to pile up.  If I spend more time with my kids outside of our home doing field trips and play dates, the dishes start to pile up.

Realize imperfection is okay.

I admit, since having kids, I am not the most organized person.  That may be an understatement.  I thrive on creativity.  I would rather make something cute and creative than clean my kitchen.  So, it is a challenge to me to ignore those beautiful posts on the most perfect, creative, absolutely beautiful ____(fill in the blank)____.  I'm on a few homeschool Facebook groups and in the last week everyone has been sharing their homeschool rooms.  I was glad to see another mother spoke up and basically said what I started thinking.  I am absolutely not there yet.  And that's okay.  I will get there by September 1st when I start school and my homeschool room won't look like the cover of  a magazine.  And that's okay.

Stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms, work-at-home moms, and working moms----MOMS!  Please, please, please, remember that you don't have to live up to those posts on Pinterest.  Your child doesn't have to have a cute chalkboard stating his/her name, grade, favorite book, and career choice every first and last day of school year.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it certainly isn't necessary.

You don't have to have a clean house all the time.  Your kitchen doesn't have to be the picture of perfect organization all of the time.  Order, cuteness, and cleanliness are nice, but it doesn't make you any better of a person.  Being organized may help the day go by in a more orderly fashion, but if you feel pressure to get organized, but never can seem to, and it absolutely stresses you out, find a way to live in your organized chaos.  It's okay not to be organized all the time.

You don't have to have the perfect ____(fill in the desirable body part here)___.  You don't have to strictly follow any certain big name workout program or diet to a "T."  Don't feel the pressure to have flat abs and a perfectly round rump.  Or to restrict yourself from sugar or bread for months.  Just be healthy.  Do what works for you.  Don't make excuses.  Still challenge yourself, but if you fail, don't beat yourself up.   If you don't fit in a workout today, that is okay.  Workout tomorrow.  It's okay to fail. It will happen.  And that's where you learn to grow and persevere.

Now when it comes to being imperfect, we still must address laziness.  Or being distracted.  I am challenged by being distracted throughout my day by many unnecessary things (i.e. all those creative Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram posts).  This makes me weary for unnecessary reasons, and then I feel my weary self start to feel a bit on the lazy side, perhaps discouraged by all the "perfection" out there.  Avoid laziness, but be mindful of weariness.

Realize your need for rest for your weary soul.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

And when you are weary, come to Jesus.  Pray for grace.  Pray for peace.  Pray for contentment.  Pray for perseverance, not perfection.   Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  I am constantly reminded how valuable prayer is.  It is a way we can remind ourselves and others that we are not in this alone.  We can stop and pray to the God of all the universe.  And, guess what, He hears His people's prayers!

Mothers, our burden can be so heavy.  Raising little people up can be such a difficult task, especially with the added pressures of all the cuteness and creativity bursting out of the seams of social media.  I admit, when I'm overwhelmed, I am tempted just to go on Pinterest and look at all the people who have it all together and wishfully hope that someday that would be me.   Instead of Pinterest, PRAY.  Pray for yourself and for other moms.  We all know we need prayer!

Realize you can't be a good mom apart from Christ. 

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins."
Romans 3:23-25 (ESV)

I love the verse above because it really is the Gospel in a nutshell.  We fall short of God's glory and perfection because of sin.  That is where Christ comes in and his sacrifice is the ultimate picture of perfect grace.

Now, I must apologize for the title of this post.  It's a little tongue-in-cheek.  I'm not really going to tell you how to become a better mom. I knew it may get your attention because the truth is we all want to be a better mom.  We all want to be better.  We can't be better apart from Christ.  And, even then, we will struggle with sin and imperfection.

NOTHING within ourselves can make us BETTER moms!  

But, there is good news!!!  Despite the imperfection we struggle with, Christ lived a perfect life, and died so we can be forgiven.   Once we embrace that, we can't be separated from God's love.  And that is the story of grace.  Perfect grace.  That is the truth I need to be reminded of daily.

Please know that there is nothing wrong with getting tips or hints for how to do things from the posts on social media, but if you find that they are burdening you, please try and back away from them.  You will benefit in knowing that Christ can take those burdens if you come to Him!

I hope this post encouraged you.  It was encouraging for me to write.  Do you struggle with the pressures of the creativity found on social media?  Please take rest in knowing that you can come to the God of all the universe and tell Him your struggles.  And He will listen.  Everyday.  All day long.

Friday, August 7, 2015

80 Years of Workout Songs

I love music.  I grew up in a musical family.  My dad plays guitar.  My mom sings.  My sister played flute.  My brother played drums.  My twin brother can sing.  And, due to many hours of practicing with Amy Grant, Celine Dion, and Crystal Lewis, I can sing too!

My family's love of music rubbed off on me.  I love a bit of most genres and a little from nearly every decade.  This is what inspired this post.  My favorite genre to workout to is simply rock. These songs are sure to get you moving and keep you moving!  So, without further ado, here are my favorite workout songs over the last eight decades!

(All songs are linked to Amazon music.  Feel free to download your favorites!)

80 Years of Workout Songs


Sing, Sing, Sing (Benny Goodman, 1935)


Chatanooga Choo Choo (Glenn Miller, 1941)


Aint That a Shame (Fats Domino, 1955)

Jailhouse Rock (Elvis Presley, 1956)

Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis, 1957)

La Bamba (Ritchie Valens, 1958)


Barbara Ann (The Beach Boys, 1962)

Twist and Shout (The Beatles, 1963)

Respect (Aretha Franklin, 1967)


Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1974)

Carry on my Wayward Son (Kansas, 1976)

Already Gone (Eagles, 1976)


Eye of the Tiger (Survivor, 1982)

Beat It (Michael Jackson, 1982)

Livin' on a Prayer (Bon Jovi, 1986)

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston, 1987)


What is Love? (Haddaway, 1993)

U Can't Touch This (MC Hammer, 1996)

Song 2/"Woo-hoo" (Blur, 1997)

All Star (Smashmouth, 1999)


Beautiful Day (U2, 2000)

Dare You to Move (Switchfoot, 2000)

Hanging By a Moment (Lifehouse, 2004)

Viva La Vida (Coldplay, 2008)


Firework (Katy Perry, 2010)

Stronger (Kelly Clarkson, 2011)

Let it Out (Switchfoot, 2014)

Shake it Off (Taylor Swift, 2014)

Disclaimer:  I do not live by the lyrics of the songs, or even promote them.  I simply enjoy the beat of these songs to workout to. These songs were chosen for their BPM (beats per minute).   I did, however, try not to put any songs with vulgar, profane, or sexual lyrics on this list.

I hope you enjoyed my eight decade long playlist!  What are some of your favorite songs to workout to?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Smoothie FAQ's & Recipe Round-up

For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.

June 11, 2012 was a good day.  This was the day that after months (possibly years) of considering it, we went to Costco and bought a Vitamix.  We had gone through two other blenders and we needed something reliable to blend our smoothies.

Over three years later, we are still making a least one smoothie a day, if not two!  They make a wonderful, cold, easy dinner on hot summer evenings!  Read on for answers to my most frequently asked questions regarding smoothies and some pretty yummy smoothie recipes!

My husband has had great results with having a smoothie daily!

Smoothie FAQ's

Why Smoothies?

When we decided to drink smoothies, we were prompted by watching the documentary, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  In this documentary, a man lived for a whole year on juice.  We were inspired by his health improvement by including more fruits and veggies in his diet, but we didn't want to juice.  We wanted the fiber so we could have a meal replacement.

The smoothie is the solution to this.  Of course, juice is more nutrient dense, but lacks the ability to keep you full.  Also, we add protein to our smoothies.  So, in the end, the smoothies we consume have fruits, veggies, and protein.  They are a very healthy meal replacement.

Also, kids love them!  They are a great way to fill your kids with fruits and veggies they may not otherwise eat!

Why a Vitamix?  

As I stated, we went through two blenders that didn't survive our daily smoothie making.  Kitchen Aid was one brand and Cuisinart was the other.  We had already decided that we wanted to drink a smoothie on a daily basis, so investing in a good blender was a necessity.  We read reviews and also had relatives who used a Vitamix.  We were able to sample the use of a Vitamix while on vacation as well.  There was no question that it was a wonderful product.

There is also a 7 year warranty, which we have used, and is excellent!  We have a family member that has a vintage Vitamix that is still going strong!  You can also use your Vitamix to make ice cream, but butters, dressings, dips, flours, and soups!

What if I can't afford one?

Save up.  We did just that.  That is why it took us so long to buy one!  But, it is WELL worth it!  You can also buy certified refurbished ones on Amazon (Click here for link).

Why do I need to include a vegetable?

It is easy to get quite a bit of servings of fruit in a smoothie.  Adding a vegetable evens things out and adds even more nutrition.

What vegetables do you recommend adding to smoothies?

Spinach and carrots are two wonderful options.  Spinach isn't as bitter as kale can be, and it is very nutritious.  You can add any citrus fruit, with a bit of the rind included to take away any bitterness.  I also recommend carrots!  Carrots are naturally sweet.  The kids enjoy the color the carrots add!

What protein do you use?

We use Jarrow Whey for our unflavored protein powder (Click here for link).  We use this if we want to make a fruity flavored smoothie and we want to just be able to taste the fruit, not any other added flavor.

We also use Designer Whey's chocolate protein powder for our chocolate spinach smoothie (Click here for link.)  We vary the flavors of that smoothie by adding coconut milk and/or peanut butter.

Will I notice a difference?

ABSOLUTELY!  You will see improvement in your digestion (the FIBER), and, as you can see in the photos of my husband pictured above, eating a balanced diet (clean foods, limit processed foods, and a lot of produce), and adding a smoothie a day to your diet, may result in weight loss, and if you add protein, aid in building muscle.  My husband has lost weight and improved his cholesterol!

What about traveling?

This sounds crazy, but the Vitamix is wonderful to travel with.  Our Vitamix machine has traveled thousands of miles with us.  If your hotel doesn't have a healthy breakfast, no problem!  Staying with a relative?  No worries!  Just plug your Vitamix in, add the ingredients that you can bring or buy, and you are good to go!  Having regular smoothies while traveling definitely helps prevent tummy troubles that can come as an effect of traveling.

Packing protein and smoothie supplies for travel makes healthy eating easy while traveling!

What are some good Smoothie Recipes?

I am so glad you asked!

Our favorite recipe is simple!

Chocolate Spinach Smoothie

2 cups of coconut milk (no sugar added), 1 very ripe banana, 2 scoops of chocolate Designer Whey protein, 1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter*, 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach.  Blend well and enjoy! (Serves 2!)

*You can vary the recipe by omitting the peanut butter and adding mint leaves!

Here are some other recipes you may enjoy:

Coconut Lime Smoothie

PB&J Smoothie

Little Bit of Everything Smoothie

Green Pina Colada Smoothie

Pine-Berry-Orange-Kale Smoothie

Orange Pineapple Smoothie

For more yummy smoothie recipes, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook

Monday, August 3, 2015

From Fad Diets to Nutritionist

Sharisse Dalby is a lovely and busy wife and mother of three boys---eight-year-old twins and their four-year-old brother.   As a Holistic Nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition, vegetarian diets, and family nutrition, she is a beautiful picture of health!  But, it wasn't always that way.  She experienced the same struggles of weight loss many experience.  She learned from her struggles and that gave way to a profession in Nutrition!  Read on to be discover her honest retelling of how this transition took place.

How did you come to realize you wanted to change your lifestyle? 

As a teenager I was overweight and it took a toll on my body, lifestyle and self-confidence, which quickly led to clinically diagnosed depression. Through my faith, I found a renewed and deep meaning for my life. I felt a passion brewing to learn how to care for the body God gave me. Admittedly, I started with fad diet after fad diet, but eventually found my way into a healthy lifestyle that I felt was honouring to God.

What is your motivation?  How does your faith come into play?

My motivation is my faith and my family. After having my twins, I was determined to give them the healthiest start I could, and that led to a complete and permanent lifestyle overhaul. My faith is the foundation of why I do what I do! God gave me the desire and resources to become a Holistic Nutritionist and the passion to educate families and children to take care of what God provided them with.
Risse and her family
How do you include your family in your food preparation, cooking and shopping for nutritious foods?

My kids have always been included in our healthy lifestyle. And, let’s face it – I have boys and I want them to know basic kitchen skills, at least! They help me go through the flyers each week to find the healthy sale items, plan our meals, write out our grocery list, grocery shop and prepare the food. They all have a passion for food and love being in the kitchen and being able to enjoy the fruits of their labour!

Fresh pressed juice!

What are your some of your favorite go-to foods? 

Some of our favourite go-to foods are larabars, veggies and hummus, fruit, yogurt and berries, apples and almond butter and trailmix – just to name a few!

How has your view of yourself changed since starting your fitness/nutrition journey?  

I have learned where my worth and value lies – not in the size of my clothes, shape of my body, stretch marks from kids, weight on the scale – but in my Saviour who created me for a purpose … to bring Him glory. I don’t live a healthy lifestyle because I hate my body, I do it because I love Jesus!

If you could sum up "clean eating" in three statements, what would they be? 

Clean eating is eating whole foods – the foods that God gave us, an experience of healing, energizing and renewing and a balanced plate for optimum health.

Sharisse Dalby is a Holistic Nutritionist who specializes in sports nutrition, vegetarian diets and family nutrition. She is a mom to 8 year old identical twin boys and a 4 year old boy. They love to help out at church, eat food and sign up for family running races, bike races and triathlons. Check out her website for recipes, tips and services at