Refresh Summit South

I originally wrote this while I was reading “Do Over” by Jon Acuff.  It was in response to the Day 5 assignment.  Good to know that three years later that I am consistent about not posting consistently – even drafts.

Motivating Place
Where is the most motivating place you’ve ever visited? Refresh!!!

So technically Refresh isn’t a place, it’s…

I find myself at a loss for words when I attempt to describe Refresh Summit ’14 in fewer than four sentences.  I’ve been struggling to blog post about it for almost a year now. Mainly because I keep writing too much. Like an epistle too much. Seriously, I could write a blog series about the two days I spent in a B&B cabin with 39 other women in the mountains of Tennessee.   I would describe it as “overnight camp” for women.

I never got to go to away camp and it was everything I imagined summer camp would be like.  S’mores and all.  Except there were no crazy antics involving paddling to the boys’ side of the lake or weird girl clique issues.  Obviously, all of the camp ideas I had was based on the 1980’s movies I watched growing up.  Even without all the cheesiness of an 80’s movie, I got all of the things I wanted out of an away camp experience at Refresh.

And a lot that I didn’t know I could get out worshipping God, fellowshipping, exercising, and eating really good food.  What I can say succinctly about Refresh is that it’s the most uplifting and motivating experience I’ve had in the last several years.

Where’s the most motivating place you’ve ever visited?

Want to attend Refresh Summit South 2018?  Registration is now open!

Move In Love

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Revelation Wellness®Instructor Training Retreat
Photo by Raint Photography

Every move we make – every thought and decision – is rooted in either fear or love.  And it’s way too easy to root our physical movements, namely our workouts, in fear.  It’s kind of our go to motivation when it comes to fitness, isn’t it?  My good friend, and MOMENT’em sister, Kasey Schuler posted about body shame this week using a BINGO card and she reminded me just how true this is.  Out of fear of having to fill a row or two on the imaginary Body Shame Bingo card we’ll put in extra sweat equity.

Here’s the thing.  I am so over moving because I’m afraid.  I spent the better part of my 20’s doing that.  Working out for hours in hopes of gaining/keeping the attention of a man.  In my late 20’s I met and married a man who God used to help me overcome much of that fear and insecurity.  But if I’m honest, I started getting caught up in it again the summer I got pregnant with the twins.  I was the fittest I had been in my adult life but there was always another goal to reach.  And those goals weren’t rooted in love, gratitude, joy, or freedom.

I was caught up in a side of the fitness industry that insists that the only way to be successful is to be a “product of the product”.  So I thought I needed to continuously improve my physique.  I look back at the pictures from the summer of 2013, shake my head as I remember where my heart was and wish I could have simply enjoyed the health God had blessed me with.

It’s funny, because this summer I wore a bikini for the first time knowing I wasn’t “beach ready” and was totally okay with it.  Too much has happened over the years for me to point to one thing that shifted my motivation from fear to love.  But I’ll tell you this much, my body was broken for my twins and it will never be the same.  So when I move, I choose to do so as an outpouring of gratitude that I can move at all.

In a couple of weeks I’ll start teaching early morning Revelation Fitness® classes because I’m on a mission to help others move in love instead of fear.  To move as a “get to” instead of a “have to”.  If you live in the Columbia area I would love for you to join us!  If you’re not local to our new Irmo class, check out live classes here.  Can’t find one, or live classes just aren’t your thing?  You can stream videos via RevWell TV.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

Out Of Shape?

I attended a Relay For Life fundraising event yesterday, that Jessi, a Revelation Wellness Platoon 16 sister, was holding.  She provided breakfast, shared her testimony, and led an awesome Revelation Wellness fitness class.  Complete with a hope filled message and a kick butt workout.  Well, I can’t speak for the other participants, but she definitely kicked my booty.  The class ended at a quarter to eleven, and I was already feeling soreness creep into my muscles by the time we went to lunch.

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Modifying as needed. Photo credit – Jilly White Photography

 

As we were walking up to Jason’s Deli (it was my first time and I loved it) I was about to tell Jessi, “Wow, I really must be out of shape because I’m already feeling it in my quads and booty!”, but the Holy Spirit led me to use a different phrase.  In what felt like a split second, He said that using the phrase out of shape insinuates that there’s something wrong with one’s shape, that something is wrong with their form, that they are broken or less than.  Whoa.   He then instructed me to use the phrase out of practice instead.  He said it was true, whereas my go-to phrase was not.  Isn’t it crazy amazing how the Spirit’s leading can happen in a brief moment but encapsulate so much teaching?

As I was writing that last paragraph, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the lie vs. truth exercise Jessi led us through during yesterday’s class.  During a RevFit class, participants are asked to exchange a lie for a truth.  Jessi asked us to think about a negative word or phrase we believe about ourselves and to write it down on an index card.  My word was broken, as I have believed for over three years that my body was broken beyond repair and would never be able to move as it did before my twins.  She then instructed us to tear up the index card and put on some truth by writing on ourselves (shoulder, arm, hand, etc) what God says about us.  In Revelation Wellness we call this war paint.  The word God spoke over me was restored.

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God calls me RESTORED. Photo credit – Jilly White Photography

Even with RESTORED written down my left forearm, I was quick to speak out of shape over myself.  How quickly the enemy of our hearts will come and refute truth that God has declared over us.  I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit stepped in to remind me who I am.  He provided a way out for me.  A way out of the temptation to believe lies, however benign they may seem, that I have believed for years.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

So the next time you hear someone say that they’re out of shape, or you’re tempted to say it of yourself, please speak truth – out of practice, not out of shape.

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Post lunch – Jessi and I showing off our shirts based on Psalm 139:14.

My Fitness Plan For 2017 – Aiming for Wholeness

“Your body isn’t broken.  God just needs to show you how it works.  His ways are not harsh, sharp or pressing.  May God show you the kinder way that leads you to the real and free you.”

– Alisa Keeton

I feel like the title of this post is misleading because my fitness plan for this year has very little to do with what most people consider fitness.  By that, I mean that I’m not signing up for a Spartan Race (although that’s on my Fitness Bucket List), vowing to pick up a new fitness related hobby, or even joining my local Y again.  Not that there’s anything wrong with these options.  They’re just not right for me.  At least not right now.

You see, I carried my twin boys to 37 weeks and 1 day.  That’s full term for twins. And they could have gone the full 40 weeks if I hadn’t been in such excruciating pain. But I was.  So much so that I begged my doctors to take them before 37 weeks to no avail.  One doctor told me, “I have three patients under my care.  Two of them are content as can be.  Healthy and happy.  The other is miserable.”  Can you guess which one was me?

They broke me.  Or at least that’s what it feels like.

I honestly have no idea how my body managed to carry them for 37 weeks.  You’d wonder the same if you saw me in person.  My frame is tiny and I have a very short torso.  I am grateful that my body took such good care of my babies, but whatever it did to accomplish that feat has left me in constant discomfort and pain.

The pain has decreased over the years.  I couldn’t sleep the first several weeks after the boys were born.  Initially it was because I had no idea how to care for two infants.  But even after I got a handle on their sleep schedule, I couldn’t fall asleep because the pain in my hips kept me up in tears.  The pain became manageable after several weeks of working with a chiropractor. During one of my visits last year, she explained that due to muscle memory my body was returning right back to how it held itself during pregnancy.  I heard this and accepted that my movement would be limited and pain would just be a part of my everyday experience.

Then I went to Arizona in November to complete my Revelation Wellness instructor training and that was no longer enough.  God showed me how that settling for a life of pain wasn’t really living.  At least not the abundant life He offers.

View More: http://riantphotography.pass.us/fall-retreat-2016--tue
Riant Photography – On location at Revelation Wellness instructor training

He spoke healing over me.  So healing and restoration is what I’m aiming for this year.

In December I  visited a new chiropractor.  During the initial visit he said I was a “hot mess”.  I smiled, nodded, and said “I know”.  But I really had no idea just how much of a hot mess until he went over my X-rays with me a couple of weeks later.  I won’t pretend to remember all the medical jargon, but here’s what I do remember = my hips aren’t leveled, and one leg is longer than the other because of it, my head rests almost two inches forward from where it should, and I have 97% less curvature at the top of my spine than I should.

While I found his rehabilitative methods promising, driving to his office twice a week wasn’t realistic for my schedule.  But I didn’t give up on healing and found a physical therapy practice closer to me.  The therapist who worked with me the second half of my visit asked how I injured myself. I told her that I had twins.  She smiled, laughed, and told me that she’s an identical twin .  During her evaluation she told me that I was “a train wreck”.  I smiled, nodded, and said “I know”.  She confirmed everything that both chiropractors had told me, and explained how and why in more detail.  She also told me that with work I could restore my body to its pre-pregnancy alignment.

Knowing how messed up I am could be discouraging.  But my experience has actually been the opposite.  It’s been encouraging and motivating.  It means that while I may never “bounce back” to my pre-twins body, I can – and will heal.  I may never rock a two piece again, but I will be able to exercise without the fear that I’m making things worse.  It’s going to take several weeks of physical therapy, maybe even months, but I will retrain my muscles to hold my body the way they did before I carried the twins.

Healing and restoration are my fitness plan for 2017.  Who knows, maybe this time next year I’ll be signing up for a Spartan Race.

Green Blender Review + A Great Deal For You

Disclaimer: I received my first week free from Green Blender for reviewing purposes.  I loved the service so much that just two days in I signed up to receive another box.  With that being said, the opinions shared here are all mine.  Oh, and if you sign up to receive this awesome smoothie delivery service using the code shared at the end of the post you’ll get a sweet deal and I’ll receive a small referral commission.

I’m going to give you the what’s what by answering the basic WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY’s.  Oh, and HOW.

WHO ~ This service is for anyone who watched Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and thought “I’d  love to do that juicing thing but he had to buy so much produce!” or “Yeah, that’s a good thought, but how does it taste, really?”  I’ll be totally honest with you, I haven’t tried juicing since the 80’s and that was only with citrus.  Nothing like the crazy concoctions that are all the rage today. I can’t see buying that much produce without some of it spoiling before I use it all.  And I loathe wasting food – especially fresh food.

It’s also for anyone who has tried smoothies but found that after a while she settles into a groove, a rut if you will.  I have exactly two go to smoothies.  I say that I’ll venture out and try new recipes but truth be told I can’t bring myself to buy exotic ingredients I only need in small quantities or will probably only use once or twice.

Or perhaps heard or read about juicing and smoothies and before you could do anything with your new found knowledge, you got overwhelmed. Juicing or smoothies?  Vitamix or Blendtec?  What about Ninja? Are superfood add ins worth the extra money and effort?  What’s acai berry anyway?

If any of those descriptions sound like you, then you are the WHO.

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WHAT ~ Green Blender is a smoothie delivery service.  Full service, at that.  All you need is water, ice, and something to blend the ingredients.  You get a new recipe card each week with 5 recipes and enough fresh pre-proportioned ingredients to make 2 servings per recipe.  So you get a total of 10 smoothies.  It’s a totally efficient, no waste, no brainer approach to making smoothies.  And the best part is, at least for this mom of three, is that the prep work and clean up is minimal.  As long as I set aside an extra 5 minutes each morning (10 on the days I first make a recipe because I need to separate and store half of the ingredients) I’m able to make a smoothie without feeling rushed.

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WHEN ~ Delivery in my area takes place on Thursdays.  If I plan it right I can share a smoothie with my husband two or three times each week and still have enough to last until my next box arrives.  Need to skip a week?  You can skip up to 4 weeks at a time without any hassle.  But you need to do it 5 days prior to your delivery day.  So if I had wanted to skip this week’s box I would have had to clicked that option on my account page by Saturday.  And if you decide to cancel for any reason you just email customer support.

WHERE ~ Now here comes the not so great news.  This awesome service is not available in all states just yet.  For being such a new business, though, they are rockin’ the east coast and southeast.  Follow Green Blender on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up with their ever expanding delivery area and get daily inspiration from the recipes and photos they share.

Green Blender Delivery Map

WHY ~ Drinking these smoothies is like taking a vitamin but since you’re getting the real deal your body processes the “good for you” stuff much more efficiently, absorbing more of what you need.  For a more sciency explanation please search the Interweb for benefits of real food.

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HOW ~ In the super informative brochure that comes with every package, the ever helpful people of Green Blender (I really want to give them cool names like baristas got, but I don’t know what “smoothie makers” is in Italian) answer your “What is acai berry anyway?” question along with everything you need to know in order to build the perfect smoothie.  On the recipe sheet that comes with every shipment, they share Pro Tips for blending.

Things that weren’t covered in either the informational brochure or the recipe sheet:

Style of blender – They assume you’ll be using a traditional blender where the bottom makes contact with the blade.  I, however, use a Ninja Professional so when the second step says “top with ice” that really means I need to put the ice in before adding the remaining ingredients.

Size of blender – Again, if you’re using a smaller sized blender like a Ninja or Magic Bullet you won’t be able to make two servings at once.  You will need to split the ingredients.  Thanks to the ingenious packaging of Green Blender, this isn’t difficult to do.  It does take a little extra effort and time but really only in planning/remembering that you need to do it.

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Pecan Oatmeal Cookie – 1 Smoothie + Stored Ingredients
PRICING ~ There are three weekly subscription options (shown below) and three Challenge subscription options.  Like with most subscriptions, you save more when you commit to more weeks at a time.

Green Blender Pricing

DEAL FOR YOU ~ Jenna Tanenbaum, co-founder of Green Blender and fellow FitFuential ambassador, as extended a sweet deal for you – 20% off your first box – when you sign up with the code reina.

As much as I love my daily Green Blender smothie and the twins love begging me for some (you can watch video of Andrew begging for one here), I’ll only be able to get one box a month while they’re still in daycare.

 

Six Ways to Approach Your Nutrition Differently This Year

January
Svetan Prints

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions.  I haven’t been one for quite some time.  I used to make them and would feel charged up just thinking about all the opportunities a new year held.  But it never took long for the new car smell of it all to fade and I’d lose interest in my resolution and the possibilities.

An old friend reached out to me the other day on Facebook to ask about protein and meal replacement shakes.  Although she never said the words “New Year’s resolution” I had a feeling that she was looking to start her new year differently than she has before.  So rather than doing the whole online back and forth I called her up.

It wasn’t that my friend didn’t know anything about health and wellness.  Quite the opposite.  She was overwhelmed by all of her choices and just didn’t know where to start.  Especially where nutrition is concened.  So here are my top tips for approaching nutrition differently this year.

#1 Be Mindful

The first thing I recommend to people is to simply be more mindful when it comes to their intake.  There are food journals, daily planners that include space for food stats, fitness journals, and of course in this day and age you know there are apps for that.  Just recently I joined my friend Bobbi for her Holiday Shred and I found that even though I wasn’t tracking my nutritional stats I was able to lose five pounds.  Mind you, my goal wasn’t to lose weight, but to maintain it over the holidays.  I planned to do that by making dinner at least three times a week and by limiting treats to three times a week.  Each Saturday when we checked in I was surprised to find that I either maintained or lost weight.  It was such a blessing because I finally realized that obsessively tracking every micro and macro simply isn’t necessary. {If you are training for an event or entering a competition, these tips aren’t for you so stop shaking your head ;-)}

#2 Baby Steps, Baby Steps

We just watched “What About Bob” last night and I couldn’t resist using that line as a heading.  Wanna make keeping track of your body’s reaction to your new way of eating easier?  Make one small change at a time.  Think “going Paleo” or primal sounds good?  Or maybe that clean eating is the answer to all your problems? {It’s not by the way, but more on that later}  Start small by eating more God food – fruits and veggies.  Then reduce your intake of man food – stuff that comes in a box or through a window.  And even then just focus on one or two things.  Last January I stopped eating fried foods for the month.  Not forever, just a month.  I wasn’t trying to set myself up for failure.  I do live in the South, after all.  Now, when I choose to eat fried foods I’m able to listen to my body and put down the last bite before it does me in.

#3 Grace Trumps Legalism

Why didn’t I give up fried foods forever?  Because although there is a lot of sound diet advice out there, I do not like the “eat this and not that” school of thought. It can get pretty legalistic pretty fast and turn into “eat this and only this and never ever eat that”.  God intended food to give life through its nutrients and for it to add to the enjoyment of our lives by the sheer yumminess of it.  Besides, legalism = feelings of deprivation and no one sticks with feeling deprived for long.  In fact, when people feel deprived they tend to swing the pendulum back in the other direction and binge.  Big time.  No? Just me?

Fruits and Veggies

#4 A Clean Heart Is Better Than A Clean Diet

Speaking of grace, before I got off the phone with my friend I told her about Revelation Wellness and their next Clean Hearting Challenge.  Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, this challenge can be a real game changer.  I participated in it last September and it really helped me strengthen the spirit link of the mind, body, spirit wholeness approach to health and healing.  The next challenge starts tomorrow so you still have time to sign up before the midnight deadline!

 

#5 Shakes, Smoothies, and Juices – Oh My!

While I love shakes and smoothies, I do not recommend using them as meal replacements.  Even if their ingredient list is full of real food and all the nutrients you need in one day.  Nothing beats eating real food so start there.  Once upon a time I just couldn’t seem to eat breakfast on a consistent basis.  So I first started drinking shakes as my breakfast, not to replace the meal, but to form the habit of having it every day.  Then, as I started teaching more group fitness classes I started eating a meal for breakfast and my daily shake as my “second breakfast”  {not third or fourth, people – I’m not a hobbit people}  Because I eat my breakfast so early in the morning I’m super hungry once nine o’clock rolls around.  A shake makes a great second breakfast.  It also makes a great afternoon snack or after dinner dessert.

I was so ready to join the juicing movement after I finished watching “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” but didn’t feel worthy since I didn’t own a super cool blender.  {What’s up Vitamix and Blendtec owners?} Besides, it seemed like a waste of money because I never used all the fruits and veggies I bought.  Although I still don’t have a super high tech blender, I have found the perfect solution to the wasting fruits and veggies problem.  Green Blender ships you enough ingredients to make ten juices/smoothies from the five recipes they include.  No waste.  None.  I’ll be writing up a formal review later in the week, but no need to wait to use the code they shared with me.  Just hop on over and enter “reina” when you check out.

#6 Fearfully And Wonderfully Made

I know that starting to eat better, or returning to eating healthier can be overwhelming.  Even when someone gives you “easy to follow tips” like I tried to offer in this post.  So I’ll leave you with this – you are perfectly imperfect, just the way God made you.  I pray that as we journey to better health and greater wholeness that we invest in our bodies as vessels for His service.  That we see our bodies as they are – fearfully and wonderfully made – and not fixer upper projects.  Amen?

My Abundant Life: Celebrating Ten Years of Freedom

In November of 2005 I took the first step on a scary but necessary journey to “find myself”.  I just giggled as I wrote that sentence because how cliche is that?  But I guess it wasn’t entirely cliche, since I usually think of early 20-somethings setting out on such journeys and I was nearing my 30’s but still knew very little about myself.  I mean I knew facts about myself, but I had no real sense of who I was.  The core of my personality, my likes and dislikes – even my goals in life – hinged on who I was with.  I was a chameleon who didn’t know my own true colors.

By the time December 31st of 2005 rolled around I was almost ready to take the next big step in my journey, which was to own up to the fact that I didn’t know what was best for me.  As humbling as it was, the admission only made sense since I didn’t really know who I was. How could I possibly make wise decisions for myself?  But it wasn’t until January 2, 2006 that I was ready to make this admission to anyone else.

The funny thing is, is that even then I was in no way ready to admit how lost I was – how desperate I was for God.  But God is patient and I am so grateful that His timing is perfect.  He let me experience exactly what I needed in order for me to get to a place where I would not only recognize my spiritual bankruptcy for what it was, but where I could be humbled enough to cry out to Him.

On this day, January 2nd, I celebrate the ten years I’ve been on this journey with God.  The coolest part of my journey with Him may be that as I look back I can clearly see that He was walking with me long before I agreed to walk with Him.  And I’m not just talking about the five months between January 2nd when I admitted I didn’t have it all together and the afternoon in May when I asked Him to be Lord of my life.  I can look back over my life and see how He gently pursued me until I was ready to give Him all of me – my shame, my guilt, my fear, my insecurities, my hopes, my dreams, my identity.

Over the last ten years He has guided me through a series of surrenders – some deeper than others, but all helping me to see Him for who He is.  And in turn, who I am in Him.  I share all this to encourage you wherever you may be on your journey with God.  He is just and He is merciful.  He will pursue you until you are ready to accept His grace and love.  And once you have surrendered your all to Him, He will not leave you but continue to walk with you.

Journey With God

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Dueteronomy 31:6 (NLT)