Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Fitness Secrets

I haven't mentioned fitness on here since April of last year...and lately I've been asked if it's still a part of my life.
The answer is yes, it's a huge part of my life.  I guess that's why I forget to blog about it because it's such a lifestyle for me that it's no longer something I really think about...I just do it.
There's a difference in working out and maintaining a fit lifestyle.  I know because I've been both the workout girl and the fit girl.
I used to just workout.  Maybe three times a week if I reeeally felt like it. Then I would leave the gym so glad I was finished working out and eat a huge dinner, then plop down on the sofa and eat an entire row or two of Oreos while I watched One Tree Hill.  Because I worked out to eat without guilt.  I didn't gain weight, I looked kinda fit, and believe it or not... that worked for me back then.
one tree hill gifs photo:  68lhgmu.gif
 (the show never gets old, it just doesn't...welcome to my blog Brooke Davis)
 But life changes, y'all.
Enter:  Kollyns River
Exit:  Sporadic workouts and guilt free snacking
After I had Kollyns I knew I wanted fitness to be more than just about what I looked like.  I wanted to be healthy for my daughter, and I wanted to model habits that she could mimic as she got older.  I didn't want a workout to be something dreadful, I wanted it to be something I looked forward to and enjoyed and eventually something she could enjoy too.  Now she's four and everyday when we get home her first words are "get your clothes on mama, time to workout".  She knows all about biceps, triceps, quads, hams & glutes...and she loves to do gymnastics on my squat rack (probably not the safest thing) and "Mom please don't tell me you have to do squats again today." is her famous first line as we're walking downstairs to the gym.
I'm definitely not the fittest mama ever, and I'm certainly not a fitness know-it-all.  But I'm dedicated to my workouts, healthy with my food choices, and committed to making fitness a priority.
If you wanna be a fit mama too, all it takes is a little preparation and a few good choices...but you don't have to tell everyone it's that easy.  Let them think you're S U P E R M O M....because if you have more than one kid and still manage to stay fit, you really probably are.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, my "secrets" aren't really secrets.  Everyone knows these things.  I knew them too for a long time, but until I actually started doing them they didn't really work for me, ha.
1.  I Make It a Priority
I know you're thinking "easy for you to say, you workout in your basement." Well, until Kollyns turned 2, I worked out in an actual gym, and my husband is on swing shifts so my workout schedule would vary almost everyday.  When he was on day shift I would wake up at 4 am and workout before he left for work at 5. When he was on night shift I would wait for him to get home and head to the gym around 6:30 am.  It was hard but it was important to me, so I chose to sacrifice an hour of sleep to feel great the rest of the day.  Now Kollyns and I head down to the gym everyday as soon as we get home from work, before we even have a chance to get distracted by anything else.  And if you can't get to a real gym or you can't see yourself splurging on a home gym, buy some dumbbells.  My workouts consist almost entirely of exercises using dumbbells and the squat rack.  You can work every single body part using those two things alone. Nothing like pumping iron the old fashioned way.  And free weights have always been twice as effective for me when it comes to strength and growth.
2.  I Chug That Water
See that picture up top?  Yep, that's my beloved water jug from Complete Nutrition.  I drink an entire one of those everyday and then some.  Drinking lots of water is so much easier through a straw, I promise. 

3.  I Eat Like I Love Myself
Eating right is most definitely the most important part of staying fit.  Once I ditched my Oreo habit and stopped swinging through the drive-thru every time I had a Big Mac craving, I noticed huge changes in my body and in the way I felt overall.  Instead of working out and remaining the same, I was busting my butt and finally seeing noticeable results.  I sometimes eat twice as many calories as I used to but they are from fresh food, lean protein, veggies, whole grain carbs & fruit.  I keep Emerald Cinnamon Almonds in my purse at all times because they are delish and keep me from reaching for chips and junk food.  And I always try to keep a Quest Bar stashed close by in case I have a craving for sweets.  S'mores flavor is my jam.

4.  I Incorporate Cardio Into My Workout
My kid is too antsy to sit in a stroller for a jog, not that I would jog anyways.   Running is not my thing.  Who am I kidding?  Cardio is not my thing.  But I know it's necessary for heart health.  So If I want to get my heart rate up I usually up the tempo of my workout, rest less between sets, or do full body combination movements. Win, win.

5. I View My Workout as a Privilege, Not a Chore
It's my me time.  It keeps me sane.  I get to push myself, challenge myself and spend time doing something that's not only good for the body...but for my mind!  Endorphins anyone?  Yes please!  I sit at a desk all day so my workouts are like a reward for sitting still all day staring at a computer screen.  It's fun being active and it's rewarding to have that feeling of accomplishment after a workout!  And on top of that it's a huge privilege to have the ability to get in the gym and see just what my body is capable of!  I love it!

6.  I Dress The Part
If I head downstairs in my baggy sweatpants and one of Devin's t-shirts, I can pretty much chalk that up to a crappy workout before I even get started.  I know I will kick my butt if I put on my cutest workout clothes, because I'm far more motivated when I can actually see the body parts I'm working out.

7. I Play With My Kid and Call it a Workout
Kollyns is a great kid, but she isn't always in the mood to swing from the squat rack and watch me lift.  Some days she wants my full attention and I'm all for that, because it gives me a chance to change up my routine.  I've squatted with her in my arms too many times to count. I've done dips, bridges, & hip thrusts with her in my lap, had a lunge race with her across the back yard, and so many other exercises that she could be a part of!  She always giggles the entire time and has a blast...and so do I!

Do you have any fitness secrets that help you stay in shape?  Tell me, tell me!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Life Lately

 We have lots of catching up to do.  But first...

After a 4-month long insta-breather, we're baaaaack.  I failed miserably at posting photos on the blog during my little break.  So if you want to keep up with the Almond fam follow us @almondfam08 ... because we are starting fresh and my kid is a beaut.
You know you wanna.

The plan was to keep you updated via the blog, but I pretty much didn't do that at I'm gonna try and redeem myself here.

Kollyns' Chicka Chicka Boom Boom themed end of the year preschool program was adorable.  I cannot believe she already has one year of preschool finished.  I cannot deal with how fast she is growing up.

And my little brother graduated from high school.  WHAT?  Crazy, right?  I didn't get a pic with him but we managed to squeeze a family photo in!
We both took a whole week off just to do stuff around the house.  I worked my butt off, and Devin worked twice as hard as I did.  And I'm pretty sure we picked the hottest week ever to tackle outdoor projects.

Our landscaping was a hot mess. So we rented an edging machine, bought pavers, and picked out a stone to put in the beds as opposed to mulch because clearly that wasn't working out for us...and we went to work. 

And Kollyns supervised.

It ended up looking super nice and manicured.  So in love with the final product!  Eeek.

And we even had leftover rock... so we also added a little fire pit area next to the pond! Love!  And after all of that, we still had a deck that needed to be stained.  That was a huge project that we almost gave up on... but we finished.  Yay for teamwork. 
The deck doesn't look big but I swear it grew with every brush stroke.

 Since our June projects wiped us out, we've just been relaxing and enjoying the finished product of our hard work and it has been so nice.
Our 7th anniversary is coming up this weekend and hubby has already given me a surprise early anniversary present.  It was super sweet and it holds so much meaning for us after the year we have had.  Can't wait to tell you all about it!

And next weekend we leave for the beach. 

I. Can't. Wait.
  Stay tuned. ;)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Loving the Unlovable

God has his reasons for the people he places in our lives. Some of them lead us spiritually, hold us accountable in love, encourage us, build us up, and help us grow in our faith and relationship with the Lord. They are dependable, reliable, unselfish & we can trust that they will never mistreat or hurt us. They value us and love us through their words and actions. 

They are easy to love.

But God doesn't call us to love only the lovable. HE IS LOVE. We are called by Christ to genuinely love everyone...selflessly and without ceasing.  Try swallowing that truth.  Hurts going down doesn't it?

I mean...I'm a human, you're a human. We are broken and we are sinful by nature. And from our fragile perspectives it's hard to see how we could possibly muster the strength to love the unlovable ones. The selfish, insensitive and careless ones. The ones who are reckless in the way they treat themselves and others. It could be someone who unknowingly (or sometimes even purposefully) hurts us. These can be people we cross paths with for brief periods of time or they could be our coworkers, or even family members...especially family members.  Our hearts are barely capable of scraping together enough love to cover the minor flaws of people we know...and God's telling me I need to purely and genuinely love these unlovable people? Yep. Because love covers a multitude of sins. And really, what are you gaining or learning from only loving the easy ones? 

The MSG translation of Matthew 5:46-47 says "if all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? ...Any run of the mill sinner does that." 

Um, ouch.  Hashtag preach. 

Every time I've grown spiritually it has been because of a challenge or difficult situation. I can honestly say a perfectly picturesque situation has rarely resulted in spiritual growth for me. Except for that time I was pregnant. That's a pure miracle and it's hard not to have the joy of the Lord flowing through your veins while experiencing such a gift. That's simply in a league all on its own.

And I'll be the first to say that I'm not capable of wholly & completely loving an unlovable with just this heart of mine.

But God can do anything. And if we let his love flow through us, relying completely on HIS strength and the power of the Holy Spirit...we can love any and every one.  Especially the unlovable ones.

Because listen to me...

Are you listening?

EVERYONE is worthy of love.

And who is going to step up and give it to them if I don't? If YOU don't? We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Don't lose your saltiness because it's easier to make up excuses not to love someone than it is to pray for patience and a heart full of compassion for them. By the way...that praying for patience thing will need a whole post of its own because that is noooo joke.

And the more we allow ourselves to experience Christ's power through us, the easier it becomes to channel that love and live a life that points to his grace, mercy & love.

We can all do this!  Here are 7 ways we can learn to love the hard-to-love people in our lives...

1. Realize we are all sinners, and humble ourselves to the point of accepting that we might also be a little unlovable at times. I know that's hard to believe...but it's true. And accepting it gives you a renewed outlook on these so called "unlovables" in your life. I don't even want to reflect on the many times I've let my God down...but he loves me anyway. Love them anyway.

2. Pray for God's intervention in our hearts. Once I took a big bite out of that humble pie served in #1, I went ahead and finished it off by admitting I cannot do this without surrendering all of it to the only one capable of this kind of love.  Giving something completely to God is a huge step because we have to die-to-self, and human nature does not make that easy... but it's completely necessary to allow God to work through us.

3. Be patient. Patience is a dangerous thing to pray for. I started praying that prayer in January of 2014 and it ended up being the most trying year of my life. I'm not even kidding. But let me tell you it changed me and my relationship with the Lord completely and it was worth it to me to get where I am spiritually. If you're tempted to lose patience with someone, reflect on how patient God has been with YOU and try your very best to put that into practice with someone in your life! 

4. Try to understand them. You might not know their journey, and there are many things that could've happened to them along the way and calloused their hard-to-love hearts. Instead of judging and jumping to conclusions, understand that hurting people hurt people. And try to help them see through your love for them that God can restore anything. He can polish every scar and use it for his glory.

5. Forgive them. Even if they don't ask for it, even if they don't deserve it. For whatever they did to become so unlovable to you. True forgiveness frees you from the chains that bind you to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness promotes healing and a healed heart can easily love a broken person through Christ. 

6. Serve them. Oh it's gonna be hard. But the best way to show love is through service. Sincerely serving someone in love can soften even the hardest heart. Do something nice for someone who feels unworthy, or isn't expecting it. You will both be blessed.

7. Demonstrate God's love and grace through the way YOU live your life. It's hard for someone to argue with God's power when they see it in action through you.  Practice what you preach and prove God's love with your life.