how to lose the baby weight

Right after Ridley was born last February, my friend Heather set up a meal plan for our friends to bring us food when we got home from the hospital. Since Ridley was born early and we were packing to move into our new house, these meals could not have come at a better time. For almost two months on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday friends showed up at our rental house with a home-cooked meal. At first, I was embarrassed to invite them into our space full of boxes, laminate floors and floral walls. Holding the baby, I’d show them the way to the kitchen, apologizing and thanking them at the very same time. Looking back, I know nobody cared what my house looked like, all they really wanted to do was drop off their food and get a peek at his soft, newborn skin.  The girls were always so excited when the doorbell rang and the friends that brought them gifts were especially adored. It felt so good to be loved by these people while we were transitioning into life with a baby and moving. 

A common theme that I saw in the meals brought to our home was comfort food. Chicken and rice casserole, pasta with spaghetti sauce, and roast were all eaten more than once. One friend brought over sauteed kale which was fun to try and another grilled pork chops and it was a perfect Friday night meal. Raleigh especially loved all the sweets – we had strawberry cupcakes, chocolate pound cake, and caramel-dipped apples. We even had one friend whose family owned a local restaurant who brought over tons of casseroles that we froze and ate six months later. Even if the food was slightly outside our normal realm of recipes, we ate it.

While on maternity leave, I didn’t count calories. For twelve weeks, between nursing and unpacking, I ate what my friends prepared for me. But, as my days at work approached, I knew it was time to start using my new kitchen and I knew we needed to pull back from comfort food and ease into lighter foods. It was also time to start working out again. Once I was cleared at six weeks, I threw on a gym shirt over my nursing sports bra and began to go back to the gym. Before I was pregnant, I had briefly tried Crossfit, but I wasn’t ready for that at six weeks. Instead, I hit the elliptical and did light reps with handheld weights. I stretched on my yoga mat as my friends did burpees on the other side of the gym. Watching them, I knew I wanted to get back to that intensity level of exercise. At that moment, I made up my mind to get healthy.

baby weight

Before having a baby, I was not well-educated on what foods to eat at what time. I’d heard of different diets like Weight Watchers and Atkins but I’d always approached food with the mindset that I’d eat half healthy and half unhealthy and if I exercised it would all be okay. But now, with three kids, I wondered if there was a way to eat foods that would fill me up, give me energy, and also be good for me. I also wanted to, you know, lose the baby weight and fit into my bathing suit that summer without feeling like a nursing cow.

I contacted my friend Chris who is a football coach and whose wife Sandy, had just had a baby. She’d put on Facebook that after one month, she’d gotten back to her pre-baby weight and was feeling great. *I found out that she had followed a 24-Day Challenge for Nursing Moms where she ate healthy, took vitamins and supplements, and also drank some protein and fiber shakes to help her body lose the weight. After doing some research and talking to other moms, I found out that this program was not one of those quick-fix diets but was actually intended to be a lifestyle change. I decided to try it and I’m so glad I did.

how to lose the baby weight

This meal plan came with a food portion chart that told me exactly what qualified as a protein, fruit, vegetable, low carbs, and healthy fats. It also taught me how to eat different combinations of these foods as small meals throughout the day. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was full (like I would be after eating a pizza) but I did feel satisfied and most importantly, healthy.

So, for twenty-four days, I did my best to follow this plan. I had to say no to stuffing my face with my dad’s famous barbecue ribs one night and I also resisted Easter cupcakes but I did slide at times with a glass of wine or Chick-Fil-A fried nuggets instead of grilled. But, for the most part, I was able to eat healthier and I learned what to eat when (I’ll show you a chart in just a sec!).  To make eating healthy fun, I experimented with several different recipes for my three main meals and two snacks. I landed on a few favorites, like broccoli slaw and taco salad, and also became an expert maker of strawberry jello. :)

When I began my nursing mom challenge, I also signed back up for Crossfit. I was intimidated to begin this program again but it helped that I did it with a friend. She and my trainer encouraged me to exert myself but also modify the workout as needed. Going to Crossfit humbles me because I’m seriously one of the weakest girls in my class, still to this day. Even though I’m one of the worst Crossfitters ever to exist, I still try to do a pull-up, overhead cling, and rope climb. Training my body is training my mind to believe that I can do more than I think I can do. Even though I’m terrible at it, I’m motivated to keep doing it because I can tell by my muscle-definition that I am slowly, ever-so-slightly, improving.

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Eating healthy and exercising was hard but once I figured out what my limits were, it became easier and more natural. I know now that a great breakfast for me is two egg whites with spinach tossed in it and a side of oatmeal. And, it’s okay to eat fruits like grapefruit with a healthy fat nut mix at snack time.  Sweet potatoes are delicious at lunch and fill me up until my afternoon snack and grilled chicken and asparagus with lemon is a guilt-free, feel-good meal after working out.

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I’m becoming more aware that what I put into my body is what comes out of me. My mood and energy level is so related to what I eat and how often I exercise. Sometimes, when I need to rest, I slide back into a season of comfort food eating but I’m keenly aware that I don’t need to stay in this place where I depend on food to help me cope with my circumstances. So, I choose to pack the gym bag and crack open another egg for breakfast the next day. A year after eating well and exercising, I’m attempting to eat healthy eighty-percent of my week but giving myself some margin for chocolate and bread and fried food. For me, this works.

If you’d like to try to eat healthier and exercise, here’s a sample of the food chart I followed, my meal plan, and an exercise plan. Know that this is just an example and daily we have to choose what we are going to put into our bodies and how we will strengthen our muscles. But, maybe this can help you lose the weight and feel better about yourself too.

Food and Exercise Charts

Also, for the next two weeks, I’m offering The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. Y’all this bundle is rocking it and I love it so much. Already, I’ve checked out Supermarket Ninja’s by Beth Ricci which is helping me conquer the grocery store aisles and purchasing unprocessed, real food for my family. If you are looking to lose weight and be healthy, I encourage you to buy your bundle today to start living well!  

Here’s to healthy eating and exercising, even on the days that are hard.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

*The 24-Day Nursing Mom Challenge is from Advocare. I was not paid to endorse this company, but it did help me to lose my baby weight and get healthy.

 

 

how to be happy with your body

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The air was thick and sticky from the rain that was expected to fall late morning but the crowds still came, dressed up in their superhero outfits ready to run. My crossfit buddy Sibel asked me to join her, and our other friends Sam and Katie to run in a local charity event this past Saturday morning. The four of us bought Wonder Woman socks and before we knew it, the capes on the back of our socks began to flap as we took off for the three mile trail run.

We each kept our own paces, Sam in the lead, Sibel a few yards back and then me. Even though I was running with friends, I was really running solo. Over and over, I told myself to keep going and I tried to give myself grace when I did need to walk. As I shuffled along wooden paths, then past the soccer fields and finally the finish line my mantra inside my head was “You can do this.” 

Have you ever had to give yourself a pep talk when you were doing something that was hard?

I truly believe that our minds can make our bodies do anything. I think that is why people like Louie Zamperini (the war hero/Olympian runner whose story was told in the movie Unbroken) can survive World War II concentration camps. His body could have easily failed him but his mind believed, “You can do this.”

What does your mind need to tell your body you can do?

how to be happy with your body

Maybe your first step is taking a walk around the block. Or, joining a gym with your friends. Your mind could tell your body, “Don’t eat that. Eat this instead.”

As a woman, I’m critical of my body. It’s changed so much this past year…for nine months the numbers grew on the scale as I was pregnant with Ridley and then after he was born the extra pounds slowly came off. To get my body back, I began to work out and eat healthier (I’ll be sharing more about how I lost my weight on Wednesday) but I still catch myself wishing my arms were more toned or the numbers on the scale a little lighter. Loving the way my body looks begins with how I think about myself.

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Whenever I get done exercising, I’m always happier, even if it was hard. Working out releases any tensions that I’ve had that day and gives me confidence that if I can get through this, I can get through anything. I’m better to myself when I exercise and in turn, I’m usually a better wife, mother, co-worker, daughter and friend.

Today is Monday and it’s a great day to begin living well.

take ten

Carve out some time today to exercise. Even if your day is crazy, take ten minutes to go on a walk or do some sit-ups in your house. If you can, go outside and get some fresh air while you work out. Make up your mind to do something positive for yourself today. Now go, and get happy!

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

 

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are you living well?

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Living well is living in a way that produces positive results for your mind, body, and soul. Living well is a lifestyle, where you make gradual changes to yourself so you can feel and live better. These changes might include home organization so your mind is a little more sane. Or, maybe it’s eating clean and adding in more exercise so your body feels better about itself. Living well is spending time in God’s word and asking yourself the hard questions that come with faith.

Over the next three weeks, I’d like to share with you some tips to living well. I’ve been practicing these examples in my own home and while I still have many days when I’m not doing so great, I’m getting to a point where I’m more in tune with my body, my mental stability, and the needs of my soul. When I can recognize that I need to shift something, it helps me love my people and love myself better.

Living well is not about being rich and buying everything you want. But, I will show you how we’ve been decorating our home so we can enjoy our spaces well.

Living well is not about losing thirty pounds in thirty days. Instead, I’ll recommend some healthy recipes that will fill you up but not weigh you down.

Living well is not about beating yourself up with everything you should do or think. Living well gives your soul permission to explore your passions and confess what makes you anxious, worried, or scared in life.

If you’d like to join me for Living Well this April, please sign up in the form below

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Think of Living Well as spring cleaning for your mind, body, and soul. It’s a new direction for your thoughts, your image, and your heart. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get started!

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

for the times when you don’t feel pretty

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A few weeks ago, my pastor shared a sermon called “I’m Not Attractive Enough.”  He asked me to speak to the women (and the men so they could better understand their women) about our appearances and how we were created in God’s image. For the interview, we did a video with 12 different women from our church and asked them questions about what they see when they look in the mirror.  The ages ranged from seven to seventy-five and I just loved how honest their answers were.

To watch my interview and the video from the sermon, click here and fast forward to 37:50 in the sermon.

When I think about myself and my appearances, I am my own worst critic. I’m sure many of you are too. Women are our own worst critics because we are dealing with our expectations and our imperfections.

When it comes to expectations, we battle what we expect ourselves to look like and also what others around us expect us to look like. My pastor talked a lot about family and how much of our thoughts about ourselves are passed down from our family members. Maybe your mom told you that she didn’t like your nose and now all you see in the mirror is your ugly nose. Also, when we deal with our society, we feel this certain expectation to keep up with the current trends and look just as good as those around us.

When we think about the expectations we have of ourselves, I believe most of us try hard to look good. That’s why we go to the gym, get our hair done, and pick out nice clothes to wear. Because there is some truth about if you look good, you feel good. But, for some twisted reason, even the most beautiful women in the world struggle with their appearances. This is because we focus on our imperfections.

Women are on a pursuit of perfection. But, as hard as we try, we get caught in a comparison trap. When this happens we analyze those around us and then we view our own appearances with negative thoughts. Jennifer Rothschild has a Bible study called <em>Me, Myself, and Lies> (we are studying this on Wednesday nights at six at Covenant) and in this study she talks about how we need to have a thought closet makeover and not just see our own imperfections. Here’s what some women in my church, ranging from seven to seventy-five had to say about this issue:

 

Their answers are honest and true. We have to transform our thoughts and get back to believing that we are pretty and God loves us. Because when we focus on those simple truths, we stop comparing and we can see more than our imperfections.

We have to shift our perception of ourselves from ideal to real.

In Exodus, Moses is doubting what God is calling him to do. When he shares his hesitations with God, his response to Moses is “Tell the people I AM sent you.” As we think about not feeling attractive enough, we have to rest in God’s assurance when he tells us I AM enough.

Look at yourself in the mirror today. You will probably still see the wrinkles, the age, the weight. But look past those things and tell yourself “I am created in God’s image. God loves ME.”

Now go, and believe that you are enough.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

when it is time to rest

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It seems that our bodies are made to go on strike even when we don’t want them to. We are too busy, too much is going on for our bodies to sit and say “I’m done. I need rest.” But, against our will to keep going, doing, and being, our bodies declare that it is time to stop.

Last week, three hundred kids gathered at my church to attend Vacation Bible School. As the coordinator of our Children’s Ministry, I had been working for months, weeks, and countless hours each day on making our VBS the best experience it could be for the children attending. But, the weekend before everything began I woke up unable to swallow and could barely get out of bed. My body was exhausted and I knew something was terribly wrong. After a morning spent at the doctor’s office, I was declared to be contagious with strep throat.

To read more about how our bodies need rest and respect, head on over to The M.O.M. Initiative. 

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