We are what we eat

As I mentioned before I started the Advocare 24 day challenge Monday. I have done this cleanse before and the reason I like it is, the eating plan is about eating real nutritious food and while I am on it I feel great. The 21 day challenge is very strict which is what I need when I am starting a healthy eating plan. I will not go into great detail of the plan, because you can find way better information by going to http://www.advocare.com/24daychallenge. I will hit the high points. For starters the food: lunches and dinner are a lean protein, a veggie and a complex carb. (I usually skip the carb at night) Breakfast is a protein, complex carb and fruit. Snacks between each meal can be fruit, nut or healthy fat like an avocado. To keep things easy for me, I basically eat the same thing every day while I am on the challenge. There are tons of ways to get fancy and not bored but right now I do not have the self-control to stick with anything but boring. So every day for breakfast I will eat a hard boiled or scramble egg for lunch and dinner, I either eat grilled chicken or fish, green beans or asparagus and sweet potato or quinoa.

On the plan you eat every 3 hours and drink a lot of water. I have trouble remembering when to eat, and when to take my supplements so I use my alarm on my phone to remind me. Not because I am not hungry, and really I do not need to be hungry to eat but to stick with every 3 hours I need a set schedule.

I am a water drinker by nature. My father had kidney issues my entire childhood so it always scared me into drinking obscene amounts of water. I keep 2 full glasses of water at my desk so that there is always water at an arm’s length. I know that a lot of people have issues with drinking the amount of water they should. All I can say is, make it available. If you can see it, it not only makes it available but it is a visual reminder you need to drink. Drinking lots of water is good for your skin, you digestive system and it makes you feel full so you are not as inclined to grab food when you don’t need it.

This program is so successful because you are eating nutritious healthy food and staying hydrated. Which is how we should all be eating and living all of the time. There is a checklist for you to follow everyday which I think is another very important element to losing weight, keeping track of what you eat. I use the checklist on the 24 day challenge app and I still count my calories in My Fitness Pal app just to keep me in the habit. There are two phases of the challenge with different supplements including a drink called Spark that takes the place of coffee. But it is not like coffee at all. It is more like a crystal light but gives you energy. I particularly like the Watermelon flavor. There are rave reviews of Spark all over the internet. It is one of the advocare products I use even when I am not on the 24 Day Challenge. There is also a fiber drink you have to drink on days 1 – 3 and 8 – 10 that is no bueno. Not because it tastes bad, it taste fine but it has the consistency of sawdust. I get thru the fiber drink by “marinating” water on ice for a few minutes and then straining it into a different cup, without the ice and then mix in the powder. And then the most important thing CHUG. Don’t give your mind or gag reflex time to react. And the longer it sits the thicker it is, so really CHUG.

I like the Advocare 24 days challenge but I am not saying it works for everyone. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make when deciding on eating plans is we think if it worked for one person it will work for you. You see a commercial of a skinny gal standing in what once was her ginormous pants that now swallow her and counld fit 7 of her now newly sculpted body, and we think: It’s a miracle, I need to do that! That just isn’t true. We are all different, thank God, so it makes sense that we all need different eating and or weight loss plans. And FYI there is no miracle plan, drug, work out, or frozen boxed meal to losing weight. There is smart eating choices, hard work and intelligent decisions, that’s what works. I could name a thousand plans and diets that people have found to be successful but I don’t know it all and that is just boring to read. There are common characteristics of successful plans:

1. Plan ahead, we have already discussed the importance of this in my previous post.
2. Keep track, write down everything you eat and drink.
3. Eat nutritious, REAL food. God made vegetables and fruits and animals (that is no shot at my vegetarians out there, I am not saying you must eat meat) Man made preservatives and corn syrups and dyes. Which do you think your body knows how to digest and use correctly?
4. Drink water. Most of us are walking around dehydrated. If you are not peeing every time you have a glass of water (am I going too far?) you are not drinking enough water.
5. Find a plan with food you will eat and that fits your life style. If it does not fit in your life, you will not stick with it.

That’s it, that is all I have. It is not rocket science and I am no doctor or nutritionist. It’s easy when it is just putting it on paper. It gets hard when you are sitting down at the table. That’s when you pray. Or at least that is what I have to do.

My next post will have nothing to do with food or weight loss, I want to mix it up a bit. I hope everyone is having a good week!

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Here I go again…

It has been 2 years, 2 months, 1 week and 2 days since I had my precious twins. I guess it is about time that I get serious about losing weight. Well, let me give myself a LITTLE credit. I did TRY to seriously lose weight a few months after having the twins. And I mean a serious effort but nothing was happening. I even went as far as to spend a fortune on a months’ worth of My Fit Foods to lose a disappointing 6 pounds. Six pounds may sound like a lot, but 3 days of that month I had the stomach flu so I am pretty sure that’s where the 6 pounds came from. I did weight watchers, counted calories and worked out and nothing was working. From about the time they were 5 months old to the time they were a year old, I put in significant effort with no good outcome. There was obviously something wrong with me. To this day I am not completely sure what was wrong. I know it was hormonal but there was no real reason. I am not completely “normal” yet but I am closer. I chalk it up to just having a difficult pregnancy and having twins. I will go into more detail about all that craziness in a later post. So here I am today. Ready and I mean REALLY READY. I have been able to lose about 25 pounds this year, dieting on and off. I have not really been committed; I think I felt defeated after trying so long without results that I just kind of gave up. But that is all in the past, today is a new day. And it is a perfect day to start.

So I need a plan. Planning is particularly important when wanting to lose weight. In my experience, and I am sure most of you would agree, if I do not plan I fail. We plan for all the important things in life. We plan weddings, vacations, our work schedules and our kid’s extracurricular activities. It is equally as important, if not more, to plan our heath. The Bible tells us in Luke 14:28 “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” And I do not know about you; but I want the coolest, tallest, most efficient tower, so I better get to planning.

Masterpiece Fitness has started back up and I have joined some fitness classes with my BFF so I have the working out part covered. But we all know to lose weight it is all about food. And that’s where I struggle. I am an eater. I eat emotionally, I eat because I am bored, I eat because it sounds good… or smells good. I eat because there is food in front of me. Planning on working out is a matter of schedule for me, I schedule in a time and I show up. Done. Planning what I am going to eat is painful. Painful but necessary. I know myself; I know that I cannot plan one meal ahead or one day ahead. I need a weekly plan. So here on my Sunday afternoon, I plan out every meal and snack for the next week and I get to cooking. (As a side note, this is really hard to do while watching Football.) Because writing down what I am going to eat is not enough I have to have everything prepared so there is not thought process when I eat this week. If there is any room to wiggle, I will wiggle, I will wiggle myself into some enchiladas.

I have chosen to start my eating plan with the Advocare 21 day challenge. I am not advocating advocare, get it? Advocating advocare? I know, I know but I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. The reason I like Advocare is the eating plan is centered on cleaning your body from all the junk. I think that is important. I think it is just as important to eat REAL, God made food as it is to count calories. The 21 day challenge comes with some supplements and a regimented plan. For me, when I am starting off that is what I need. I need to be very regimented. Once I get the hang of things and I am feeling better, then I can give myself a little more freedom. When I get to the place where I know I won’t sabotage myself, then I will loosen the reigns a little. In a later post I will go into more detail of the plan, as well as other plans I believe to work.

2 days of breakfast, lunch and snacks

So here is the hard part of this post. I have really been praying about this. I am about to lay it all out there. I have been contemplating on rather I should share with the world my numbers. Meaning my weight and measurements. My initial thought is HECK NO! I am embarrassed. I am HUGE! What will people think? Then I thought, it will hold me accountable. If I put those numbers out there, than I will really be motivated to get them smaller so that I can share the smaller numbers. Almost a way to manipulate myself into success. And then I went back to NO WAY ON EARTH am I letting anyone know my dirty little secret, or to be more accurate my dirty BIG secret. So I prayed on it and prayed on it, and God is telling me to share. I am not doing it to hold myself accountable, although that is a plus. It is more because I am not the only woman walking around ashamed of a 3 digit number that flashes at me in the bathroom. But I feel that way. I feel alone when I think about my weight. I know that there are other women that struggle with weight issues. But in my mind no one could feel as bad as me. In my pea brain, there is just no way that any woman I know shares the embarrassment that I have. I feel like once I passed the 200 mark, I was inducted into the chub club. A club where no one admits their number and I happily eat cupcakes by myself, because I am obviously the only woman on the planet this heavy. But God is telling me that is not true. I don’t know what your number is. And really it is none of my business. It may be 50 pounds smaller than mine or 50 heavier. The sad truth is, there are a lot of you that feel just as embarrassed and shameful as I do. That shame and embarrassment wears on us. Which just gives me another reason to eat. So I am putting it out there, if only to make someone feel like they are not alone. Yes I am embarrassed but I refuse to be ashamed. Because today is the day it changes. Today is when the numbers start getting smaller. God wants you and me to know we are not alone. Not only do we have our Father in Heaven cheering us on. But we also have each other.

Weight: 222.4
Measurements in inches:
Arm: 15
Chest: 47 & ¼
Waist: 44 & ¾
Hip: 50
Thigh: 26

So there it all is. Not a secret anymore. And in 10 days when I am done with my cleanse phase I will post again and the numbers will be smaller and I will be a little less embarrassed. But most importantly I will feel better. Not only because I am eating better and working out. So my body will be functioning better but because I will know that my 222 pound self is doing something about it.

Stayed tuned this Wednesday I will fill you in on my specific eating plan as well as my opinion of other eating plans.

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Last Day :(

So it came to our last day in Colombia. It was a long day and I was sick as a dog. I tried to fight the feeling I was dying all day because I knew my hours left with the precious children of Colombia were coming to an end.

The first place we visited was an Emergency Care Center. When we arrived the children we in the middle of their Praise and Worship for the week I am really sad I missed the praise and worship I heard it was so great and inspirational to watch the kids. But at that time I was trying not to vomit so I was sitting outside with a fellow mission buddy who wasn’t feeling great either. Once the kids were done they came out to the courtyard where I was sitting. And the playing began. It is amazing on how fast the kids take you in and want to play with you. I met a young lady Joanna. She is 14. Joanna almost refused to speak in Spanish. She tried her hardest to only speak in English. Taking my dictionary and looking up anything she could. She was abused by her mother and that is why she was at the center. Joanna was very to the point and showed little emotion. I put my arm around her and at first she was a little surprised and looked at me like she was scared but then quickly began to smile and then would not let me stop holding her or her hand. We didn’t get to stay at the center long after that or at least not long enough. I felt that way about everywhere though. There was just never enough time.

We made our second stop right across the street to a house that houses 26 teenagers who have ‘aged out’ of the institution system. In order to live in this sort of house the kids must go to school full time and work full time. They are very few houses like this so most of the ‘aged out’ children do not have the opportunity to go to houses like this. They are fairly new. This is the type of house Orphan Hope will be opening with the money raised at our marathon February 11.

Our next stop was another emergency care center that housed younger children. The top floor was babies. I got the chance to meet a 5 month old Mirriam. She was a doll! She was small for her age and showed signs of Down syndrome. The director of the house told me she was very ill when she first arrived and that the mother was addicted to drugs. Also in the house were young teenage mothers who were orphans themselves there were also a few pregnant teenagers. Down on the bottom floor there was a lot of rough housing going on with the toddlers. All in all it was a great time. I will not lie, I was trying to think of ways to sneak Mirriam home in my purse the whole time.

We then loaded up in the bus thinking we were headed to dinner and the airport but we got a nice surprise. The bus turned down the alley where Amparo de Ninas is! We were all overjoyed. We were told we only had an hour to hang out with the girls. When the bus stopped in front of the gate the bus driver honked the horn. As we piled out of the bus on the other side of the tall gate you could hear the girls screaming with joy and running to the gate. I was overcome with emotion. That feeling in that moment sums up my entire trip. Hearing the running of the girls and the exciting screams; that feeling is hard to describe. I put it in the category of the feelings I had the day I married my wonderful husband or the two days I welcomed my beautiful children in the world. You feel so honored that these amazing kids would be that happy to see you. And you feel blessed to be there and you feel so small. I really felt like God was just waiting on the other side of the gate for us.

There is no way to describe how I feel about my experience in Colombia. I cannot wait to go back. I pray everyday that God gives me the wisdom and courage to bring about all the changes in myself and my life that he showed me I needed to make while I was there. Any time I now let the petty problems of my life get me down I think about that moment outside the gate of Amparo de Ninas. I know that God has plans for the orphans in Colombia. There will be huge changes in the children and in the country; I pray that I get picked to be a part of those plans in what ever capacity he has for me.

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Amparo De Ninas… oh no its almost the end

The Wednesday after we visited the boy’s orphanage 19 children came to visit us at our club. 10 girls and 9 boys. The boys were all from Amparo de Ninos. Jefferson was one of the nine boys so it was really great to spend time with him again. All of the kids wanted to go swimming. So that was the very first activity. You know the saying, “Love is the Universal Language” well I think there needs to be an addition to that saying, “Love and Play is the Universal Language” because let me tell you swimming races and chicken fights need no translation or explanation. Honestly, I did not think we were going to be able to get the kids out of the pool they were having so much fun. But a call for lunch did the trick.

As we sat and waited for lunch a few of the boys started feeling ill. But we quickly identified it was just them being worn out. Being in the pool for about 3 hours and all the excitement was a little much to handle. I tried to remember the last time one of my kids got sick after too much fun… I couldn’t recall a time, and I am sure it has happened. But the reason I could not recall a time was because my kids are pretty prone to having a good time. I think we take things like that for granted. As a parent I strive to give my kids a good time when I can so they are used to it. And these boys were not used to that kind of fun. The day went by so fast. As all the days did you felt like you just didn’t get enough time with the kids.

The next two days we spent at Amparo De Ninas. The first day I right away met a teenage girl, Dayan. She was a spit fire. She wanted to know everything about me and tell me all about her. She wanted to know all about America and told me how she wanted to move to LA, and then she said Orlando. You could tell she was so excited. She had only been at Amparo for 2 months. This was the second time she had been put in an institution due to abuse. But you could not tell she was abused by her glowing awesome spirit.

On that day there was a Quinceanera (15) planned for 8 of the girls. There was a Catholic Mass and then a party. All of the girls were in dresses and everything was decorated. It was really a good time. There was lots of dancing. I even got my son to dance with one of the girls.

I got to meet a young girl who may possibly be adopted by a great friend of mine and that was nothing less than awesome! I will not say much about it only because I know there are rules on what information is public and what is not. And I do not want to hinder that situation in anyway. But if yall could keep all of these kids who are in the adoption process and the families adopting in your prayers.

The second day we were able to take the girls out of the institution into a park about 3 miles away. The park was beautiful. It was really nice to have the girls out and playing. I have to admit I was kind of out of it that day due to some sort of devil cold. That is what I am referring my sickness in Colombia as from now on, the Devil Cold. After the park we once again had to say our goodbyes. I cannot express how hard the goodbyes really are….

Amparo is in the city and you drive down the dirt alley to get to it. I can’t even explain how it looks you really need to see pictures. The gate to Amparo is tall and the brick walls on either side have broken glass as makeshift barbed wire I guess. There is police that patrol the alley with Rottweilers. And in the field next to the institution is a field filled with Rottweiler. It is a very sad and scary looking place. I say all that to say. Telling these smiling spirit filled young girls goodbye and leaving them in that place makes it, if possible, even harder.

My next blog will be about my last day in Colombia. I will also include what I felt my mission was or what God was having me learn.

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Church & Amparo De Ninos

The third day we were in Bogota we attended worship service at the church Liliana and Hector pastor at, Comunidad Cristiana Fundamentos. It was such a powerful service. It started with a breakfast they were so kind to make and serve us. The service started with the singing of the Colombian and American national anthems. It was such a great way to start the day. The church was so welcoming. Liliana and Hector’s daughter, Heyli led the music and Matt did the sermon. It was one of those services where you can feel the holy spirit the entire time and you are not ready for church to end when it does.

Jose, the director of some of the institutions joined us for the service and then asked us to visit one of the emergency centers. The emergency centers are where the children are first brought before they are taken to an institution. They are usually not there for long, I think I remember someone saying usually no longer than a couple of months. The particular emergency center we visited was in the city. It housed boys and girls of various ages.

When we first got there the boys welcomed us. They were between the ages of 10 and 15. A few minutes later we could see the girls walking down. The front of the building was entirely windows. The girls were lined up and looking at us. And of course they were all smiles.

But something unexpected happened. I was looking thru the window and there lined up with the other girls were about 3 or 4 little girls. They couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old. And I guess for the first time I realized we were not in Colombia to visit only preteens and teenagers but little girls were orphans too. I had to keep myself from being visibly upset. I didn’t have very long because shortly after an entire line of young boys came walking up.

Like everywhere we had been the kids were so excited to be with us. Laura, a girl who was there with an older and younger sister took my hand and showed me around. One of the very young boys once he found out we were from the United States asked if we were from Las Vegas! I laughed so hard. We only were at the emergency center for a short time but it was very difficult to leave.

I didn’t do much the rest of that day. As a matter of fact I took a nap. I was pretty emotionally spent. I spoke with Maddie that evening on the phone. That was even hard. Hearing her little voice reminded me the voices of the children I had spent the past few days with and how they didn’t have mommies to be excited to hear from.

That Monday and Tuesday we drove back into Madrid to visit Amparo de Ninos, a boy’s institution. I have to say out of all 3 institutions we visited I felt the most at home at Amparo de Ninos. I think it has something to do with mothers and sons. The first half of the first day the boys had a huge program for us. They were so delightful and it was said that the boys were not only excited we were there but they had been excited preparing for our visit. Later in the week one of my mission mates, Karen, said something that really tugged on my heart. I am paraphrasing but she said something like she is there for every function her kids are apart of and these boys were excited to put on a show for us and she felt blessed to be there for them and sad they do not have parents to watch them…. I totally just butchered her insight but I hope you understand her point.

After the program I got to know a boy Christian who is 11 and as cute as they come. He was very quiet and sweet. He only told me he didn’t have parents, he nevr explained why. He did say he had an older brother but from the information I got, I think his brother ran away from the institution. We sat together for lunch and his friend Jefferson and another friend joined us. We sat with Kim and a few boys she was with. When they brought our food Kim and I put tried to cut our meat with our plastic knives. When the boys saw hw we were eating they immediately tired to do the same. It was very cute watching them imitate us. What made it more funny was the beef was pretty tough and we were all having a hard time with it. The boys really tried to be polite and cut their meat up. We eventually told them they could eat how they wanted and they all picked up their meat and started gnawing on it. It gave our end of the table a pretty good laugh.

The rest of that day and the next I spent with Christian and Jefferson. They were so easy going and sweet. They gave me a complete tour of the beautiful property and joined me as we all watched cows get milked. When we left on the second day I was sad to leave my new boys but felt a peace about leaving them. I am not sure why I was so at ease to leave. I felt God placed on my heart to really try and see if I could help Jefferson and Christian find family. So any of you out there that have ever thought of adoption you need to call me up I can tell you about some amazing boys!

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