Category Archives: Fitness

After the Tidal Wave: Announcing the Birth of a New Dream

There are certain seasons in life that barrel over us like a tidal wave, sweeping the foundation from under our feet, leaving us grasping for something solid to hold onto.

For those who read my blog posts this summer, you’re familiar with the challenges that swept into my life. They tested my faith and made me question where to go from here.

This was true on many levels, but especially in my writing career.

Ever since I started this writing gig over 6 years ago, I’ve poured my heart into the craft of writing fiction. I’ve given my newsletter subscribers small tastes by writing e-shorts, but hidden away on my computer are full-length manuscripts – stories I’ve felt called to write, stories I’ve poured my heart into.

And yet, as much as I’ve wanted to send them out into the world, God keeps telling me, “Wait.”

I finally reached a point this summer where I’d had enough. If you saw that ugly-honest post, you know what I’m talking about.

Then another hit came when my son had emergency surgery. Not only was it a physical and emotional drain, but the medical and house bills that were already piling up became much bigger. I was drowning in the tidal wave, fighting to get my head above water, struggling to breathe.

And then, a vision started to take shape.

An idea I’d dreamt up months before, believing it was several years down the road, suddenly appeared much closer than I’d thought. This was confirmed when a friend (who had no idea about this vision) forwarded a devotion to me, saying she couldn’t shake my name when she read it.

The devotion said, “There are ministry ideas to be birthed… Do not get complacent with ‘business as usual,’ but see the potential for the new to come where you are.”

So what’s this new dream, you might ask?

Many of you know I’m a fitness instructor and self-proclaimed health nut. For a while now, I’ve wanted to build a tool for women – moms especially – to meet them where they’re at, coming alongside them in their health journeys. This new vision lets me do just that.

I’m so excited to announce that as of today, I’m launching a new website called Righteous Fit Mom.

I’ll be blogging there weekly with practical tips to help women build healthy habits – mind, body, and spirit. The site is centered around the concept of “one simple step at a time,” which means you’ll see easy, doable steps at the end of each post to nudge you closer to your goals.

AND, to top it all off, I passed my exam to become a certified wellness coach (woohoo!!!). I can’t wait to add coaching to the offerings on Righteous Fit Mom.

For those who wonder if I’ll keep writing fiction, I don’t plan to put it aside forever. It will always be my first love! I’ll keep sending updates to newsletter subscribers and maybe an e-short here and there. And when the time is right and God gives me the nod to see a full-length novel in print, you can bet I’ll shout it from the rooftops of this blog.

In the meantime, I’m so excited to follow this new path. It’s been a bumpy ride to get here, but I feel like I’ve settled where I’m meant to be.

If you want to join me, I’d love to have you visit Righteous Fit Mom. I have a separate newsletter over there with an awesome mind-body-spirit package (if I do say so myself). 🙂 It has practical tools to connect your mind and heart to your health goals. I’ve also created a Righteous Fit Mom page on Facebook, so come on over, say hi, and invite your friends!

No matter where you go from here, I hope my story inspires you. Even when we’re buried in life’s tidal waves – when we see no way out – God is building the foundation of new dreams. If we hang on long enough, the beauty of His handiwork will shine through.

Love and hugs, my friends!


Filed under Diet, Fitness, Motherhood, Writing Life

How to Stay Healthy While Caring for Someone Else

If you read Tuesday’s post about my son’s recent emergency hospitalization and surgery, you got a sense for the challenges involved with caring for someone else.

As a mom and caregiver, I found myself needing to be “on” at all times, with barely a minute to take care of my basic needs, much less process or work through the emotional implications of everything that had happened.

Especially considering my recent health journey toward better choices, I knew I didn’t want to let my old habits creep in–a very hard task when you’re under great stress and just want a chocolate chip cookie to make it all feel better. 🙂

Here are some intentional steps I took to stay healthy while at the hospital. These are things that can be done at home too, whether you’re caring for young kids, an elderly parent, or a special-needs child.

1) Snack smart.

As I scrambled to pack things for the emergency room, I made a large bag of trail mix with unsalted peanuts and raisins. I had a feeling I may not be able to sneak away for supper, and the trail mix was a handy substitute during those long, worry-filled hours of waiting.

When I was able to get away from my son’s hospital room, I looked for smart choices at the hospital’s cafe. (Most hospitals have a good variety of health-conscious options available.) This included items I could eat right away, like protein smoothies or scrambled eggs for breakfast, but also foods that I could keep in my purse for later. I kept at least one or two bananas in my purse at all times, as well as these simple baked apple chips.

How to Stay Healthy While Caring for Someone Else |

Keeping healthy options handy helped me avoid extreme blood sugar crashes that carb-loaded foods would have caused. I was tired enough…I didn’t need more exhaustion caused by my food choices! 🙂

2) Sneak in exercise when you can.

Obviously I couldn’t do my usual exercise routine with all the demands for my time and attention. But whenever my husband or another family member could give me a break from the room, I used the time to take a walk around the hospital.

One morning that had been particularly hard, I found a flight of stairs and ran up and down until some of the tension had left my body. What a difference those five minutes made! Even if you can’t get a good long stretch of time for exercise, maximizing the time you have will make a big difference.

3) Engage in deep breathing exercises.

This was huge for me. With my son’s high anxiety in the hospital, I did this with him at different points–while going into his CT scan, getting his breathing tube out in ICU, etc.–and found that it helped me as well. We simply took a deep breath into our bellies, held it for one or two seconds, and slowly blew it out while counting to five. Not only did it focus our minds on something else, it gave us much-needed oxygen to cleanse our bodies of the built-up stress.

While my son was sleeping in ICU, I also went through a short series of yoga poses and breathing exercises on my own. Stretching the tension out of my muscles felt so good! I recognize that as a fitness instructor, it’s easier for me to do a yoga sequence without any guidance, but even just doing some basic stretches you’ve learned in fitness classes or exercise videos can make a big difference.

4) Sleep whenever possible.

With my son’s emergency surgery taking place at 1:45 in the middle of the night, sleep just didn’t happen. But when opportunities presented themselves, I took advantage and rested. Even if my mind was too charged to sleep, I relaxed in one of the hospital room’s chairs or couches and read a devotional or book.

After the surgery, I made sure to ask the night nurses what their schedule would be for the night–when they would need to come in and check on him, etc. That allowed me to determine what a realistic sleeping schedule would be. For instance, if they would be returning in a half-hour to start something in his IV, I would relax and read until they finished their job and then go to sleep for the night.

There is nothing easy about caring for someone else, whether in the hospital or at home. It demanded the best of myself when I was drained dry, and there were times when I thought I wouldn’t get through.

By refilling my physical, mental, and emotional tank whenever possible, I had just enough reserves to get my son well and back to his normal, goofy self. (And maybe someday I’ll catch up on all those missed hours of sleep.) 🙂

Have you ever filled the role of caregiver, either in the hospital or at home? What helped you get through? Any tips to add to my list?


Filed under Diet, Fitness, Motherhood

Advocare 24-Day Challenge: Before and After Stats!

Last week I finished Advocare’s 24-day challenge, and I can’t WAIT to share the results of this intensive health overhaul with you! (If you’re interested in what prompted me to do the challenge in the first place, you can read more about it HERE.)

In the days following the challenge, I’ve found that my new habits have really stuck. Yes, I’ve eaten a few small treats, but they don’t hold the same addictive power they had over me before the challenge. I truly crave healthy, clean foods and am feeling the rewards!

All right, so let’s get to the numbers. Here are my official results:

Over the course of the 24-day challenge, I lost a total of 4 pounds. That’s a little over one pound per week, so I was happy with my steady, healthy rate of weight loss!

Even more exciting was my loss in inches! In total (measuring waist, chest, thighs, and hips), I lost 7 inches of my body. But get this — 3 of those inches were in my waist alone! I went from my clothes feeling tight and uncomfortable to feeling like they fit perfectly again…maybe with a tiny bit of wiggle room. Hoo-rah! 🙂

24-Day Challenge Before and After |

If you read my post about body composition, these stats are proof that I officially met my goals! Many people who do the challenge might see a higher rate of weight loss. My first couple challenges (trying to lose baby weight a few years ago) helped me lose 8-10 pounds. Since I started this challenge at a healthy body mass index (calculated HERE), I wasn’t expecting a drop in pounds, but I hoped for a drop in inches and overall improvement in muscle tone.

Accomplishment complete! 🙂

A little side note: The before and after pictures shown above are NOT meant to be a “Look at me!” kind of thing. I really hope that if you’ve been thinking about embarking on a new diet or fitness regimen, seeing the changes will serve as inspiration. Mine was only a four-pound change — If you’re facing a bigger weight-loss journey, just think what changes you’ll see by the end!

All right, that’s it for today. I’m looking forward to sharing new recipes and tips in future posts!

What’s the most surprising thing you learned from my results? Any lightbulb moments for your own health journey?


Filed under Diet, Fitness

Advocare 24-Day Challenge: DAY 24!!!

I’VE COMPLETED DAY 24!!! Can you tell I’m excited?! 🙂

While this has been a successful experiment in resetting my habits, I look forward to incorporating what I’ve learned into “normal life.” I know some people adopt a Paleo lifestyle long-term, but I’ve taken that approach in the past and found it to be detrimental to me. Attempting to follow an extreme or limiting diet forever just sets me up for intense cravings, which ultimately leads to an all-out binge.

Since I prefer to avoid the extremes–including the emotional highs and lows that come with them–I’ve adopted a more balanced approach. I let myself indulge once in a while (keeping the serving size to a minimum), which keeps the binges at bay.

All right, so let’s look at my final day of stats…

Breakfast: Meal replacement shake

Lunch: Scrambled eggs; Blueberries; Small helping of Apple Cherry Baked Oatmeal (Recipe found HERE – I’m a huge fan of this site! They have a ton of baked oatmeal variations.)

Supper: Green beans; Spaghetti squash with meatballs (Recipe found HERE – This was my first attempt at substituting spaghetti squash for pasta, and it turned out really good! It was SO easy to make too, so I’m putting this on my keeper shelf.) 🙂

Snacks: Banana; Grape tomatoes with hummus; Apple slices; Unsalted peanuts with raisins

Tea of Choice: Candy cane green tea

Exercise: Zumba

Okay, that’s it for Day 24! I’m taking a break to celebrate for a few days. I’ll be back next week with my overall before-and-after stats, as well as other observations that come to mind. See you next week!

How do you find a balance incorporating healthy habits into your life? What’s the latest habit change you’ve embarked on, and was it successful? Let’s celebrate together!

Celebrate every step of the journey


Filed under Diet, Fitness

Advocare 24-Day Challenge, Day 20: It’s About Much More Than the Scale

Only 4 days left on the challenge! It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

For me, this challenge has been about so much more than the physical. Sure, I hope to transform my taste buds and reset my habits. But at the core of who I am, I long to take care of the body God has given me and do whatever I can to let it function at its best.

This affects my energy levels to be a good wife, mom, writer, fitness instructor, and daughter of the King. Whenever I face discouragement or temptation (and there’s been plenty of both!), I’ve found myself clinging to Philippians 4:13 — “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” What can we NOT conquer when armed with that kind of power?! 🙂

Okay, let’s get to the stats for today…

Breakfast: Meal replacement shake

Lunch: Scrambled eggs; Diced pineapple

Supper: Grilled salmon; Kale salad; Fresh berries

Snacks: Banana; Unsalted peanuts with raisins; Cherries

Tea of Choice: Candy cane green tea

Exercise: Yoga

That’s it for Day 20! Enjoy your Sunday, and remember the WHY behind the WHAT.

What’s your favorite go-to verse when you need motivation?

Philippians 4:13 |

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Advocare 24-Day Challenge, Day 14: Staying Motivated

It’s hard to believe I’m over halfway through the challenge! There’ve been times when my motivation has flagged (especially when I have to swallow horse-sized vitamin pills for the millionth time…blech!), but this is when I have to reconnect with my reasons for starting the challenge in the first place. No one ever claimed making huge lifestyle changes would be easy, but it’s always worth it in the end. So I keep plugging on and enjoying the results! 🙂

All right, let’s get to the stats for today.

Breakfast: Meal replacement shake with banana

Lunch: Out to eat with my family – I ate grilled shrimp, salad, and veggies.

Supper: Leftover turkey chili

Snacks: Unsalted peanuts with raisins; Veggies and hummus; Apple slices with crunchy peanut butter on top

Tea of Choice: Candy cane green tea

Exercise: Rest day

That’s it for Day 14! I’m still enjoying time with family, so I’m keeping it brief today. See you tomorrow!

When do you find your motivation flagging the most? What do you do to pick yourself back up again? 

Not easy but always worth it |

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Advocare 24-Day Challenge: Day 12

Day 12 of the challenge is complete! It’s amazing how progress can inspire more progress. I’m feeling good and motivation remains high.

Here are today’s stats.

Breakfast: Meal replacement shake with banana

Lunch: Grapes; Leftover turkey chili

Supper: Mexican bowl with lettuce and diced tomato (same as Wednesday night; recipe found HERE)

Snacks: Apple slices with crunchy peanut butter on top; Veggies and hummus; Unsalted peanuts with raisins

Tea of Choice: Mint melange tea from Trader Joe’s

Exercise: Yoga using my Yoga Studio app

Energy Level: Feeling good and running with it.

That’s it for Day 12! I’m keeping it short and sweet so I can enjoy the holiday with my family. See you tomorrow!

Progress inspires more progress |

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Advocare 24-Day Challenge, Day 10: The Cleanse Phase Is Over!

Day 10 of the challenge means I’ve reached the end of the cleanse phase! Let me tell you, I can feel the difference. It’s amazing how junk food acts like sludge in our bodies. Cars can’t run on junk, and neither can we. 🙂

All right, on to the stats…

Breakfast: Leftover breakfast casserole and a banana

Lunch: Hard-boiled egg; Grape tomatoes; Clementine (I was on the run for lunch today, so I packed some quick and easy foods in a small cooler to take along.)

Supper: Mexican bowl topped with lettuce and diced tomato (Recipe found HERE – I used diced chicken instead of ground turkey)

Snacks: Unsalted peanuts with raisins; Apple; Spoonful of peanut butter; Cherries

Tea of Choice: Mint mélange tea from Trader Joe’s

Exercise: Walking with my family

Energy Level: Really good! Getting out in nature with my family was so much fun, and it felt good to be a couple pounds lighter too. 🙂

Other Observations:

I’ve noticed a big difference in the effectiveness of my workouts the farther I get into the challenge. As I lose the extra fat and toxins, my body functions at a higher level, which makes the workouts really count. Like I said above, what we fuel our bodies with makes a big difference!

That’s it for Day 10! Thanks for hanging in this with me. It’s not easy, but so worth it in the end.

When’s the last time you had a workout that made you feel your absolute best? Any observations from today’s post? 

Choose your fuel wisely. |


Filed under Diet, Fitness

Advocare 24-Day Challenge, Day 8: A Lesson in Body Composition

Day 8 is done! I’m nearing the end of the cleanse portion of the challenge and have started to feel and see some changes in my body. More on that below.

First, let’s look at today’s stats.

Breakfast: Scrambled egg and an orange

Lunch: Leftover breakfast casserole; Salad

Supper: Grilled lemon herb pork chop (Recipe found HERE); Baked potato; Green beans tossed with olive oil and garlic

Snacks: Spoonful of peanut butter; Banana; Apple

Tea of Choice: Teavana green tea – jade citrus mint

Exercise: Zumba

Energy Level: Pretty good. Tired in the afternoon, but my Spark drink picked me back up.

Other Observations:

After 8 days on the challenge, I’m down 2-1/2 pounds–a good, healthy loss for this amount of time. In past challenges, my weight loss was more extreme early on, but I also started at a higher weight. This time around, I started close to my goal weight, but my focus is more on changing my body composition than reaching a certain number on the scale.

Let me explain…

Before my surgery two months ago, I felt good about where I was at healthwise. I took care of myself with proper diet and exercise. But after the surgery, I was under doctor’s orders to not exercise or lift. This was extremely hard for someone who’s used to a healthy lifestyle. Combine the lack of exercise with a higher intake of junk food (sometimes you just need a little comfort food, right?), and the result was a loss of muscle and a gain of fat.

As illustrated in this picture, one pound of muscle takes up less space than one pound of fat.

photo source:

At the end of my surgery recovery, I’d gained only three pounds, but those three pounds took up much more space in my body (not to mention my clothes). 🙂 Now that I’m back in the gym, I knew I would be adding muscle to fat if I didn’t clean up my diet, which would result in higher weight and inches.

That’s where the 24-day challenge came in.

My goal with this challenge is to drop the excess fat while my muscles are building back up. This will hopefully keep my pounds steady (with the chance for a small drop), while allowing me a little more comfort in the waistline of my jeans. So far, I can already feel a difference on both counts!

The takeaway for someone embarking on a healthy lifestyle: Don’t put all your stock in what the scale says. Instead, remember the delicate balance of muscle and fat. If you’re going to the gym for the first time, you might actually see an increase in pounds at the beginning. But the goal is to get the overall composition of your weight to a healthier level. If you add a cleaner diet to your gym routine, you’ll have greater success on the scale AND in fitting into that dream size.

That’s it for Day 8! I’ll be back tomorrow with more takeaways and tips.

Have you ever been surprised by weight gain after heading to the gym? What other takeaways have you learned through working toward a health goal? 

The results will come. |



Filed under Diet, Fitness

Advocare 24-Day Challenge, Day 6: The Power of REST!

Day 6 is finished!

My biggest lesson today is the importance of rest. Last night, I hit a major wall of exhaustion and just shut everything down, watched a movie, and went to bed early. What a difference a good night of sleep makes! Not only did it give me physical energy, but it also boosted my emotional and mental energy to stick with this thing. Today was my most productive day so far this week! More on that below.

First, here are the stats:

Breakfast: Banana with crunchy peanut butter

Lunch: Salad topped with leftover tilapia from last night

Supper: Paleo breakfast casserole (Recipe found HERE – I used lean ground turkey instead of sausage.)

Snacks: Spoonful of peanut butter; Small apple; Unsalted peanuts with raisins; Cherries

Tea of Choice: No tea today; I was too busy to think about it.

Exercise: Deep cleaning my house (I think no one will argue that this is a workout all in itself.) 🙂

Energy Level: My energy was awesome today! After a full night of sleep, I just felt all-around good. I took advantage and got a TON of cleaning done around the house, paid bills, and did laundry. Plus I prepped a couple meals to enjoy next week. Woohoo for that! Now I can rest and enjoy my Sunday.

That’s it for Day 6 — See you tomorrow!

What’s the most productive thing you’ve done this weekend? Any rest in your plans? 

The power of rest |

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