All posts in Fitness

What Prayer And Boot Camp Have In Common

Working Mom's Devotional

Boot camp is where I meet with other women at an unthinkable hour in the morning.  We pay too much money to some guy called a “trainer” who tortures us each week with new equipment and drills.  Last week I almost passed out.

Since I’ve been blogging about prayer this month, I got to thinking.  Prayer is a lot like boot camp.

Don’t let anyone tell you that prayer isn’t hard work.  And don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to be easy – that you’re going to feel “spiritual” or even motivated to set aside regular time to pray.

It doesn’t work that way.

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Is Writing Deadly?

I spend a lot of time sitting.  And according to a new study, this can be deadly!

That’s right.  A recently study by the American Cancer Association shows sitting too much will shave years off your life.  Women who sit more the 6 hours a day are 40% more likely to die sooner than women who sit only 3 hours a day (for men, the same study shows excessive sitters die 20% sooner).

Just a bit alarming.   Don’t you think?

Even putting my day job aside, what about all the time I spend writing.  Yikes!  How does one write (or blog) without sitting behind a computer?  It’s virtually impossible.

Am I taking years off my life at this very moment as I sit behind this screen, exercising only my fingers and my brain?  Ok, I’m starting to panic.  But what are my options, anyway?

1.  Quit writing.  I could find a new hobby.  I could take up golf or try roller skating.  Or maybe I should put the treadmill in the middle of our family room and start watching TV.  Better yet, I could start cleaning in the evenings.  My husband would be thrilled (since he doesn’t share my view that a clean house is overrated).  But I just might be miserable.  I’m terrible at golf, I haven’t roller skated since 7th grade, and I really hate TV.  Need I say anything about cleaning?

2.  Exercise more.  Given all the time I spend sitting, I just need to kick the cardio up a notch.  I could start running more.  I could train for another half-marathon.  I could try P90X again, even though the first time I wanted to die (not to mention eat everything in sight).  Or maybe I should be one of those people who parks her car in the far corner of the lot.  (I can just hear my kids complaining about the extra walking, but maybe I need to start working on them early!)

3.  Stand more.  I could get rid of my chair and my desk.  I could get one of those standing work stations – you know, the kind that is ergonomically correct so that I’m not hunched over when I type.  I could even get a stool (just for resting periods), and I could time myself to make sure I don’t sit more than 3 hours a day.  My mother happens to be pretty good at standing.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said, “Sit down, Mom!” and she replies,

“I’d rather stand!”

 Maybe she is on to something.

4.  Ignore the research.  But then again, aren’t you sick and tired of these studies?  It’s like we have no future – everything has been predetermined.  If you eat chips, you’re going to die of heart disease.  If you smoke, you’re going to die of lung cancer.  If you ride a motorcycle, you’re going to get killed in an accident.  Pretty soon, you’re going to tell me that my life span is genetic, and there’s nothing I can do about it!  Am I just another statistic?  And if God is in control, does my sitting (or lack of sitting) really make a difference anyway?

Maybe not.  But I don’t think I’m going to ignore the research either.  No, I’m not going to stop writing.  I’m not going jump back on P90X or get rid of my desk chair. 

But I think I’m going to try to sit less.  Want to join me?

Spiritual Lessons From a Half-Marathon

Running the Cap-City Half Marathon taught me a few things about myself.  Sure, I probably knew most of these things before, but there’s something about the whole experience that brings these spiritual lessons to life. 

The First Step Is the Hardest

If you would have told me a year ago that I was going to run 13 miles, I would have said you’re nuts!  Signing up, saying “yes” and taking that first step is over half the battle.  Isn’t this true in just about any area of life?   When I seek to grow or venture into new territory, I can always find excuses.  Not now.  Not here.  I’m too tired.  I’ll do it tomorrow.  Or maybe next year.

Often, I find myself using these same excuses with God.  Don’t you?

I Need a Goal

I need a goal to get me started – to help me take that first step.  A goal gets me motivated and focused.  As important, a goal gives me a deadline!  I don’t know about you, but I work better under pressure – when I know the finish line is within reach.  Otherwise, I tend to flounder and lose motivation.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve written down spiritual goals on an annual basis – I find when they’re specific (and time-driven) I’m less likely to get off track.

Short-cuts Don’t Work

There’s no magic formula.  Training is hard work.  Period.  There’s no multi-vitamin or energy drink that’s going to get you ready.  It’s practice, practice, and more practice.  And you need to follow the training plan.  (I found this out around mile 10 when I thought to myself, boy, I wish I wouldn’t have skipped those long runs!)

My spiritual life follows a similar pattern.  I keep asking God, “Can’t you just make this road easier?  Where is the short cut!”  But he continues to show me that the journey is part of my training.

I Need a Purpose

It’s not just about me.  I need a bigger purpose.  And, while I know others who run to “lose weight” I just can’t get motivated solely by pounds and inches.  I’m all for a healthy lifestyle (and, clearly, health and fitness played a huge role in my motivation), but running for orphans with team Doma gave me a purpose to cross the finish line.

My spiritual well runs dry when I become self-absorbed.  But the more I give to others – the less it’s about me – the more I’m driven to continue. 

No Pain No Gain

Talk about pain!  I was sore – I mean really sore – for a couple of days.  But I’d do it all over again.  Next time, I’ll probably take my training a bit more seriously, but I’ll also know to expect the pain and discomfort.  Nobody said it was going to be easy!

It’s often through pain and trials that we draw near to God.  Just this year, I’ve watched friends (and many of you) suffer much loss – a broken marriage, a bout with cancer, an unexpected death of a loved one.  It seems like this pain is part of our training.  But, yes, it still hurts!

Has physical training (and pain!) taught you anything about spiritual growth?  Can you relate to these lessons – purpose, practice and pain – in your own life?

Does Exercise Make You A Better Mom?

I wanted to get up early and exercise, but I hit the snooze button instead.  I had already stayed up too late the night before pounding on my laptop – it was time to bask in a few moments of extra sleep.  After all, with all the demands of work, home, and everything in between, who has time to exercise?

I just can’t add one more thing to my schedule.  It will have to wait until next month or even next year.


But wait a minute.  Before I throw in the towel and give up, I need to be intentional about this.  Maybe a regular exercise routine will improve both my spiritual and physical state.  Maybe it will even make me a better mom.  After all, research tells us that exercise reduces stress.  In fact, it even puts you in a better mood.  And truth be told, I was a little grouchy this morning.  I even snapped at Anna for putting her shoes on too slowly and I yelled at Nick for leaving his lunch box at school.

I’m the perfect candidate for exercise.  But I’m also too busy.  So, what’s the solution?

For starters, I really hate cookie-cutter answers.  Which is why I never buy books that claim things like “10 secrets to making exercise a priority” or “how to manage your health and your job.”  So if you are looking for a 5-step program with some profound answers, please stop reading.  You just might be disappointed in what I have to say.  (Besides, others have written some useful tips on this subject such as Working Moms and Working Out.)

My advice?

You have to find a solution that works for you. 

For me, it means having a plan – and having accountability.  Which is why I signed up to run my first half-marathon this Spring with my niece.  (Hey, I might not finish, but having a tangible goal is going to get me out of the covers and onto the pavement!)  You’ll probably find a different solution. 

I’m convinced that exercise will make us better moms, dads, spouses, friends, professionals, and even writers. The easy part is talking about it. The hard part is doing it!

Tuesday Tip – Green Shakes Give Energy!

Bowl of spinach leaves

Working moms need energy.  Which is why I recently added green shakes to my diet.

I learned a few things when I was laid up at the spa in Utah.  What did I learn?  To start, I learned how to make yummy green shakes.  And you can’t even taste the spinach.

My sisters, Mona and Janie, dragged me to a cooking class the morning after my tooth extraction.  I really wasn’t that excited – given that I was unable to chew or digest food, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a cooking class – but I was getting a little tired of the four walls of my hotel room.  When we arrived at the class, I was pleasantly surprised to see green shakes on the menu.  This is how I know God has a sense of humor.  He dragged me all the way to Utah, just to teach me how to make the perfect drink right when I needed it the most.

Needless to say, it hit the spot.  Never mind that I hadn’t eaten anything in 24 hours.  This was pure heaven (not to mention the secondary but equally fabulous health benefits).

Here’s the recipe, as best as I can remember (and, yes, I’ve been making them on a regular basis – even Abby thinks they are delicious).

  • 1/3 spinach (as you get brave, you can more spinach as well as parsley, mint, or anything green and leafy)
  • 2/3 frozen fruit (I’ve found that bananas, pineapple, and mango work best with spinach)
  • apple cider (or apple juice)
  • a dash of real vanilla extract (this is the secret ingredient)

Put the spinach in first and add the other ingredients in order.  Enjoy!

Are you brave enough to try a green shake?