Let Criticism Motivate You

In the final days of Lent I am struggling - emotionally and spiritually. As much as I feel God's presence all around me, I am stumbling. I want to be a peaceful person but yet the frustrations of life are leaving me stressed to the point of breaking. My challenge - to remain calm and focused when I am being criticized and blamed, when I am being asked to behave in ways that the person is not even demonstrating. I truly do believe in leading by example and not asking someone to do something if you are not willing to hold yourself to the same standards. I also believe we are all capable of making mistakes, myself included, and to suck it up, take responsibility for your own actions, and not blame someone for your own mistakes or misbehavior. To be forgiving. To be charitable. To be merciful.

But I do flop at times. I know I do not want to yell and shouldn't yell, but when pushed....especially with someone yelling at me, insulting me, criticizing me, blaming me....it is hard to not break and yell. I don't want to, yet I do. It is not someone else's fault I yelled. Yes, they may have stressed me to the point of breaking but ultimately, I am the one who yelled. It is my fault. Period.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. ~ Matthew 26:41
I am open to hearing the point of view of others but some things I won't budge on - my faith and my self-care. It is not selfish to stick to these two pillars of who I am. I need God and I need to take care of myself. My mental health needs it. God wants me to take care of myself. Running and cross training bring me peace. Sometimes that peace is robbed from me way to quickly but once again, I am working on that and it is a daily struggle. Don't judge me for my failures and I won't judge you.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ~ Matthew 7:5
But we all judge at times, don't we? Even if we don't mean to. We all have standards we expect others to live up to and it can be hard when those standards aren't being met. There are some rules of interacting with others that we feel all society should adhere to as we expect drivers on the road to adhere to driving standards, right?

It is even harder when we ourselves are being judged. It is hard to not get defensive especially when the perceptions are wrong or you are being wrongly judged, wrongly criticized. Yes, that happens. And when it does, you have a choice. I have a choice. Let it bring you down and bring out the worst in you (which I always despise it when that happens as I expect better from myself) or let it motivate you to stick to your guns and moral principles, your faith, your health, your peace of mind.

I say go for option two.

Choose to take that criticism and let it propel you forward. Tell me my bible reading and running is detracting from my ability to take care of you, myself, and others and I will become more determined than ever to read my bible daily and work out at 110% effort. It is not selfish, moms, to take care of yourself. It is not selfish, wives, to take care of yourself. You are worthy of love and the ability to give love starts with loving yourself, loving yourself enough to stand up for your right to take care of yourself - emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Loving yourself enough to have the courage to follow God's will.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
And to wrap this post up, I want to share one more quote and nope, this one is not a bible verse.
Once you realize that you are a human being with a body and soul, it should change how you use your body. What you do with your body, you do with your soul. ~ Jackie Francois 
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for God's love, mercy and forgiveness especially when I feel like a grumbling Israelite crossing the desert in the times of Exodus. 

Daily Bible Verse (yup, one more): For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church. ~ Ephesians 5:29 


A Healthier Home: moving away from chemicals

I work in a non-profit committed to protecting our oceans and being as "green" as possible is a not only a part of my work life but my home life. I am not perfect. I am a work in progress and recently I have started tackling one area of greening up my home that I thought was out of my budget - less chemicals for cleaning the house and on my family's body. And yes, this post contains affiliate links but I am sharing products that I use and love.

Just like a new fitness program and diet, greening up your home does not need to happen all at once. Baby steps matter so pick a place and start there. In fact, baby step lead to stronger continuous growth.

My first step was eliminating traditional household cleaners and moving to vinegar, water, and baking soda. A lot can be done with these simple ingredients and to this day I am convinced baking soda makes the tub shinier than any traditional cleaner I ever used in the past....and no yucky fumes is a plus.

But even though I was cleaning without chemicals, chemicals were still going into the air with air fragrances as I do love a awesome smelling house. Don't you?

My next step was to purchase essential oils and a diffuser and this small investment is transforming my life in so many ways. Now I have a diffuser in both bedrooms, the bathroom, the kitchen, and even one at work! I like the ones that have pretty lights and let you choose between continuous or intermittent puffs.

I always have at least one diffusing away and over the past 8-10 months, I have collected an amazing collection of oils. I have single oils and blends and some of my favorite blends are for breathing easy, headache relief, stress relief, and a good night's sleep. My single oils range from orange, to lemon, to lavender, to eucalyptus, to patchouli, to frankincense, and more. I even have some clove and cedar wood! Everything has a purpose and a reason that now goes way beyond just diffusing.

I invested in a great book on essential oils in the home that contains a host of "recipes" for cleaning products and more. I invested in glass bottles to hold my blends in and have a kitchen counter blend, bathroom sanitizer blend, linen spray for the beds, and a sports cleaner for my treadmill and ironically, the blend is great for cleaning the pet cages. Bunnies can make some good stink!

I used the book I bought for inspiration but have added my own twist and inventions. With the purchase of some castille soap, I have created my own toilet cleaner that dilutes the soap with water and adds in some essential oils, whatever scent I desire when I make up some, and it is kept by the toilet for those regular deeper cleanings and let me tell you, that toilet bowl shines!

Is that the end? Nope!

I was still using dryer sheets and it bugged me with the physical waste and chemicals. I now own dryer balls you can reuse and add oils if you want a scent. They are taking some getting used to but make a huge impact. My drying times are shorter and they do work. I just need to be careful not to over dry and create a lot of static clean. It is a timing thing I need to get used to. And each ball can be used hundreds of times! So that scary first investment does work itself out in the end especially when you factor in shorter dryer times. Win-Win!

But everything I do and use is not essential oils or homemade. I have transitioned the family to natural toothpastes and soaps. I do love the products from Elk River Soaps and we keep bath bombs in stock, love their handmade soap, and even tried their shampoo and conditioner for a trial run. I am going to get more for when we travel as I love the cans they come in.

I am in the process of making the final transition with shampoo, deodorant, and laundry detergent. And I even now have an all natural hand sanitizer on my desk at work for helping combat office germs.

FYI: The products we buy for the horse darling daughter rides are also all natural. And did you know you can make your own mosquito repellant? I do and it works. I may still get some bites here and there but honestly, that can happen with the nasty chemical repellant too as I am a mosquito buffet. I am only mentioning that here because I keep some homemade mosquito repellant at the stables for me when those pesky mosquitos are hunting me down.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the opportunity to share products I love that can keep your home and life greener and chemical free.

Daily Bible Verse: But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ~ 1 Timothy 5:8


Tracking progress & a plea for help

It is mid-March. How on Earth did that happen? That seems to be the standard exclamation from me these days as time is rushing by way too fast. With things speeding by at the speed of light it got me wondering, how am I doing in regards to my March training goals?

Some days I feel I am doing okay, other days I feel I am flopping. But with any plan in life, without metrics to truly look at, how do you know how you are doing?

So let's recap my March goals. I need to get to 101.6 miles a month average for the rest of the year to nail my 2018 mileage goal. I am also striving for 70 new cross training workouts. I am at 13 new workouts and 40 miles this month. OUCH!

If you put it into perspective, in February I ran 69 miles so I do feel I am up'ing my running game from an average of 2.46 miles a day to 2.67 miles a day so far this month. I need to do more but I am also aware of the benefits of a gradual build-up so I am happy. Sorta. At least I am on the right track. In February I did 3 new workouts and I have done 3 new so far this month. Again, I am on the right track. That is good. But I want more.

My biggest hurdle is how and when. Time is flying by in so many areas of my life and it seems I have so little time. My go to plan to get my workouts in was to wake up earlier. Just get up and move. I am struggling big time with that. My alarm goes off but I don't get moving. It takes me at least 30 minutes from alarm ringing to moving to work. If I adjust the alarm to just sleep that extra 30, it still takes 30. That means right now my alarm is set for 3 am most days. Y'all, that is brutally tough! But necessary to get it all in as afternoons are pretty much full of darling daughter's activities, meal prep, and just home maintenance. I need more time. I need something!

Am I looking to do too much? Are my expectations too high?

These are valid questions but I will not give up starting my day with my daily bible reading. That is a must. But how do I do it?

I wish I had some magic answer but to be honest, I don't. I am kinda feeling perplexed and wondering if I am really biting off more than I can chew but when I do succeed in a successful morning workout I am a better me at work and at home. That matters. It helps me keep depression and anxiety at bay. That matters.

I also leave for work at 5:30 am. That matters too. So how can I fit it all in?

You may think I have plenty of time, and maybe I do. Maybe it is like my home budge if I just look at it in black and white it will start making sense. Maybe you can give me some tips.

This is my typical morning:

  • Wake up and feed the pets (a bunny, guinea pig, and bird). If the bunny had a messy night, I need to clean out his potty. 
  • Put away dishes from drying rack while making my coffee - I drink cold brew so I literally just need to put in a mug, add creamer, top with water and microwave but some days I do need to start a new batch. 
  • Change into workout clothes while coffee is heating up.
  • Sit down at the table and do my daily bible reading and right now, during Lent, I am also doing a daily reflection. This takes about 20 minutes.
  • Workout with the goal to run and say the rosary and if I am super lucky, do some cross training too.
  • Shower and get dressed for work.
  • Wake darling daughter up.
  • Pack lunches.
  • Prep coffee to go for on my way down to work.
  • Say goodbye to darling daughter and walk out the door for work.

At first glance I would say you would question the pets and putting away dishes but I do it to help dear hubby. He feeds the two outside bunnies and cleans any dishes left in the sink, which can include my morning coffee mug, etc. He needs to do this before taking darling daughter to school and if he leaves the dishes, it is all left for me when I get home from work. And nothing against him but he doesn't really know where everything goes, will leave dishes out for me to put up, or will put them in the craziest places. Ironically, my mom says my dad used to do the exact same thing. And I do want to help him.

Which brings me back to square 1, I need to get up and moving earlier to fit it all in. Maybe I just need to move my alarm out of reach forcing me to get up and out of bed. Maybe....just maybe....that will work.

Moms, how do you do it?

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Starting (or restarting) a fitness program

Sometimes the hardest part is starting.

This is a good motto for so many things in life so today I want to help you start.

Start a running program, start a new fitness routine, or even restart. In over 6 years of running at least one mile a day and adding cross training into my program, I know a lot about restarting. Restart is sometimes the most important key you can press in your fitness routine. Restart is sometimes even harder to hit than the initial start key because now you may feel weighed down and defeated. Don't let that stop you. Restart.

For those looking for a running program to add running into your life (think newbies), here is a good plan for you. Let's just commit to 4 weeks right now and 30 minutes a day four days a week. Before each workout, be sure to warm up and then cool down and stretch afterwards. Yes, I believe stretching matters but do it with a warm body, not a cool one.
  • Week 1: Run 1 minute, Walk 2 minutes. Repeat this interval for 30 minutes. 
  • Week 2: Run 2 minutes, Walk 2 minutes. Repeat this interval for 30 minutes.
  • Week 3: Run 2 minutes, Walk 1 minutes. Repeat this interval for 30 minutes.
  • Week 4: Run 3 minutes, Walk 1 minute. Repeat this interval for 30 minutes.

If this workout is not a good fit for you, I understand. It is hard to make a one-size-fits-all running program and I am happy to say, I am a certified running coach and can help you out. Just email me for a specific running program tailored for you. I can do 4 week, 8 week, or 12 week plans. Email me for pricing and details based on your needs but since I am a mom on a budget, I want fitness to be affordable for you. I have seen coaches charging hundreds for their services. I just don't want to do that and my plans start at $10.

For those seasoned runners who have fallen off their game due to injury or other things in life, restarting can be hard especially if you start comparing your performance to past performance. DON'T! It won't do you any good. Restart and change things up if you can either by running somewhere new if you run outside or altering how you run on the treadmill.

In my recent restart, I changed the focus on my treadmill runs. I moved away from the normal tunes and accepted starting at a slower pace. I would rather run 5.3 miles slower than my past performance than 1 mile faster and feeling like a failure since my legs ache. And recently I am tying this run time into my prayer time to focus on others and prayers versus my own performance. Sometimes rigid schedules can get me back on track, other times, flexibility helps. My goal right now - move at least one hour a day with my daily running and cross training and having two just a mile days a week. It does not need to be all 110% effort...just do it...and I am feeling the rust fall off my legs and my paces are improving. I think this is because I am running happy and by feel and running is a huge mental game and I am allowing myself two down days each week.

For those new to cross training or in a rut in cross training, my advice is pretty much the same. HAVE FUN! I totally love Beachbody on Demand and nope, I am no longer a Beachbody Coach. To be honest, I needed the coaching business fees and nutritional item money to go to darling daughter's horseback riding but I have kept the Beachbody on Demand All Access pass going. That is an investment in me and a better value than a gym. I have access to hundreds of programs and love so many of them. It makes it easy to do a new routine and change things up and y'all, that matters. It makes your training more effective and keeps you more mentally engaged.

Finally, what you eat matters. It truly does. Pay attention to how your body feels with the food you eat. Dairy makes my stomach hurt, too much coffee makes me stuffy and makes my eyes feel dry (it is true - I use my dry eyes as a cue to hydrate better and it works), and carbs can lead me feeling bloated. So now I pretty much wiped out my faves - not really. I do enjoy veggies especially bok choy and I adore hummus, pickles, beans (but I can't do too many of them either), and potatoes (within reason).

I keep certain items in the house as the mainstay for snacking and meals for the family and pets: bananas, oranges, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries or triple berries, grapefruit cups, mandarin orange cups, applesauce, lettuce, celery, carrots PLUS we add in other delights from time to time. These include watermelon, pineapple, apples, pears, kiwi, peppers, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, bok choy, asparagus, artichokes, and salad kits.

I love seeing my 10 year old daughter start to make healthier choices on her own. "Mom, I am hungry and I am going to choose a healthier snack" and grabs an apple versus treats of the past like goldfish (although she still eats those from time to time). Or she may say, "Mom, I am going to have a snack but only 3 pretzels". Or, "Mom, I want a snack and I want pretzels but I already had some today at school. I am going to get a fruit cup."

It is rewarding to see this happen as it is the fruit of my efforts, so to speak. Knowing that what I do and eat impacts her is a motivation in itself. If I give up on my workouts and she sees me quitting, how will she not give up when the horseback riding gets tough? If I am constantly fueling my body with junk, how will she not do the same? And if I don't make the effort to keep nutritional food in the house, how can she pick the good stuff?

But I am not crazy about it. She also gets Lucky Charms and other fun kid stuff. Hey, I ate Lucky Charms as a kid and believe it teaches moderation and good food choice. Plus, I want to be able to eat a cookie and not feel guilty for "ruining a diet" or all that other guilt that many women may carry on their shoulders.

Honey, you are beautifully made and we all have fat on our bodies and skin....we have skin! We all have folds and eventually we will all have wrinkles. Wear your skin with pride knowing that there is only one you and you are perfectly made. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

God bless and have a beautiful week!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the God given ability to run every day. 

Daily Bible Verse: You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. ~ Song of Solomon 4:7


February 2018 Training Report


Only 17 workout hours done in February. This is down from 26 in January and even with February being a shorter month, I was off target. But in all reality, it makes sense. February traditionally is a very tough month for me. It is the busiest month at work, darling's birthday, my dad's birthday and that always brings around sad, low motivation days as I miss him so much, and this month I lost another dear friend to cancer. So instead of beating myself up over low mileage and less hours, I am going to celebrate that I did workout for 17 hours. This includes running and cross training. You can see the overall gist in this workout calendar.

Seeing this feature on Strava makes me want to make better notes to myself about how I feel after my RSD (running streak day) notation to really see how my overall mood was for the month. I logged 69 miles bringing my 2018 miles to 154 and my streak miles to 9,984. That is definitely better than no miles.

And to be completely transparent, I am struggling with getting up at 3:00 am to do my bible reading and workouts before work. I do not want to give up either and have limited time after work with darling daughter riding three days a week and we are attending healing ministry once a week. Fortunately, that is back to back with one of her riding days so I have a few open days a week. I just need to establish a solid routine and try my best to stick to it. I wouldn't give up darling daughter riding horses or us attending healing ministry for anything! Those moments matter.

I did kinda slip on my cross training and incorporating new workouts. That had a definite impact on my overall workout hours. I am at 10 new workouts for 2018 and if I stick to this pace for the remainder of the year, I will be at 60 - 10 short of my goal. I need to up my game. Not only this but also for miles. My goal is to break 10,000 streak miles so I need to average 101.6 miles per month for the rest of the year. YIKES AGAIN!

This is not completely out of reach as it is something I have done in the past and just this past January I pulled off 85 miles. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

I will do this. I will do this. I will do this.

But since I love to analyze and see my baby steps, that 101.6 miles a month is about 3.4 miles a day - approximate as months have different number of days but you get the point. I need to run more!

And I do want to run more so that makes this a happy situation to be in. A chance to up my game. A chance to keep my eyes on the prize. A chance to not give up when the going gets tough. A chance to not make excuses. A chance to make a difference - one step, one jab, one crunch at a time.

Are you in?


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Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for what I did accomplish this month.

Daily Bible Verse: Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1