Category Archives: health and fitness

clean eating, fitness, healthy lifestyle

Married with Kids – It’s OK Not to Like Your Spouse Sometimes.

This piece originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

This is what being married with kids looks like – sometimes you don’t like each other and that’s okay.

Sometimes, I think back to the first couple of years after my husband and I got married. It was so… easy. We didn’t fight like many newlyweds might, over who should take care of dinner or why there were clothes left on the floor next to the hamper. However, when we started having kids, we realized the times of things being quite that simple were over.

For starters, we were exhausted. Correction: we are exhausted. There hasn’t been a day (that wasn’t some sort of child-free vacation) that has gone by since 2012 that both of us have felt “well-rested”. Either one of us gets the rest, or neither of us do. Which, as you can imagine, leads to some stress in our household, and our relationship.

But what we’ve figured out (and learned from wise friends) is this: even though some days you don’t like each other, it’s important to still love each other, and furthermore, to show it.

You have to prioritize your marriage, even though in a lot (let’s be honest, most) situations, you’ve got to put your kid – or all your kids – first. Their needs seem more pressing (butt-wiping, feeding them, keeping them from falling off ledges, you know the drill) and so you neglect the other relationship in the household while you’re meeting the more immediate needs – or simply, the ones that are shouting at you more loudly.

You see, there are more than a few reasons to take care of your marriage, even when it means putting aside the other stuff for a little while at a time.

One of the most, if not THE MOST  important reason to show the love, spread the love, and take care of your marriage even after you have kids is because those kids are always watching.

You’re setting the number one example of a marriage in their eyes, and you want it to be a positive and healthy one, right? Set an example for them of the importance of marriage, the teamwork it requires, and the love that it stems from. Show them a healthy relationship so they know what it looks like. Even have healthy disagreements in front of them sometimes; they need to know about that, too. They don’t need to see only the “good stuff” or they’ll have unrealistic expectations. Healthy dialogue, PDA (yes, affection is important to show!) and the importance of spending time alone together are important things for your kids to know about!

Among the myriad of other reasons to nourish your relationship with your spouse, I think the next biggest reason is this: one day, your kids will be grown and live in their own homes, and it’ll be just you and your spouse. Again. Alone.

Don’t wait until then to try to fall deeper in love with your spouse.

Don’t wait until there’s not the glue of parenting young children binding you.

Don’t wait until your lives have been growing apart for years to really cherish your relationship with your spouse.

I won’t say that won’t work – but I will say I bet that it’s harder that way. Communicate with your spouse, about big stuff and small stuff. Practice honesty – even when it hurts.

Say “I’m sorry.” and “I forgive you.” Do the easier things too, like dating your spouse! Have date nights or early breakfast together. Chat on the phone when you’re in the car. Send sweet text message to each other during the day.

Take a weekend away somewhere from time to time if it’s possible for you. Those things aren’t reserved for “dating” relationships unless you let that happen. “Dating” your spouse is a way to rekindle, reconnect, and intertwine your lives again when you feel like you haven’t been so “together” recently.

Make time in your schedule and room in your heart for your spouse. Even when you’re exhausted, feeling frumpy, and thinking it’s the last thing you want to do. Chances are, you’ll be so glad you did. Make sure to kiss, to chat, to hold hands, and to have sex! Those things are important… Don’t let them wait until the kids are gone.

Silence Is a Virtue

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles. I’m now on the other side of this struggle, but it’s no less real and difficult because it’s already happened.

Let me set the stage. I’m a mom of three kids five and under. I’m a worship leader by trade, meaning, so to speak, that I sing for my supper. I taught music before that, and studied vocal music in school prior to that. I have been singing by trade for as long as I can remember. When I was a senior in college, my voice teacher noticed I struggled with something she herself had dealt with, and sent me to an Otolaryngologist (that’s a fancy name for an ENT) in town. He hooked me up with a little medicine and a slightly altered diet, and I’ve been seeing him once or twice a year ever since. However, I just began seeing a voice therapist to try to solve my ongoing problem of vocal fatigue (basically I’m hoarse after limited vocal use) once and for all. Fast forward to this week: I go into my therapy appointment very optimistic. I’ve been working my butt off to “relearn how to speak” so that I am using my voice to its fullest potential and not incorrectly (and thereby causing fatigue). I’ve finally started to feel like it’s sinking in, and I’m getting magical results. I get in there, she’s happy, I’m happy, and she says, “Let’s do a scope before we discharge you from treatment.”

A scope. Okay. I’ve had those. (It involves sticking a tiny camera through your nose or in the back of your mouth to see your larynx and vocal folds/chords. Ew. Not comfortable.)

She proceeds to tell me the therapy is working. (YAY!) Then she says I have a hemorrhage (that’s a scary word in ANY situation) on one of my vocal folds and I need 7 days of total vocal rest.

Total. Vocal. Rest.

Do y’all know that means I can’t talk… OR SING… or whisper or laugh or cough or chat on the phone with my bestie or read books to my kids. Or say anything. Period.

I began this stint of vocal rest by crying in the doctor’s office. Selfishly, I’m sure, because I’m a loud, outspoken extrovert (often to a fault) and it sounded like pure torture, but also because if the hemorrhage becomes a recurring problem, then I have to have a laser (!!!) procedure to make it stop. More stuff? More work, time, money, effort, and heartache put into this issue that hinders me from doing what I love most?

Let’s pause here, because this next part is what’s important. I believe my voice is a gift that the Lord gave me. I use it to glorify His name whenever possible, and now I do that professionally – which was/is my life goal. Boom. But having my voice taken away from me? I’m like Ariel – “but how will I communicate?!” (Ursula would say, “You’ve got your looks, your pretty face… and don’t underestimate the importance of body language – HA!”) That isn’t going to work so well. An extroverted singer doesn’t have time for not using her voice.

But what I’ve realized is that not speaking has given me a freedom to stay silent when I don’t know what to say. It gives me reason to think before I speak (or write something down, since speaking isn’t an option). It gives me extra margin to think, to pray, to consider what I’m ingesting from all the outside influences (good and bad) without needing to respond to them immediately, or at all.

It’s also given me cause and time to ask the Lord for healing, for strength for the next few days, for a blessing of quiet joy as I learn things about my personality I hadn’t known before – such as how often I interrupt people, which is impossible to do when you’re writing things down – the topic of conversation has already changed by the time I have written my quip. This silence has forced me to pause and appreciate being home (since going out and extroverting means using my voice more) and staying and resting in the stillness whenever possible. These things are hard for me, y’all, but I know that He provides strength. I’m crying even as I write this, because it’s a battle for me to know that in all things, He is working for my good (Romans 8:28) but I also know that we are sometimes grieved by various trials so that our tested and genuine faith results in praise (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Why Five Minutes Makes Me a Better Parent

This article originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

It’s overwhelming, this whole motherhood thing. I think back to the days of answering only to myself, and doing things only when I felt like it… I don’t necessarily miss those days, but I’d give a large sum of money for a day or two like that every once in a while.

When I get up in the morning, it’s usually to the sounds of (at least) one of the kids. Often, it’s the jabbering of my youngest, playing happily in his crib, knowing I’ll come and get him soon. Those days are so nice. I can go to the bathroom, wash my face, and drink a little water before I start the diaper change and breakfast hustle. But other days, I hear stomping on the stairs, drawers opening and closing, or even cries of, “He hit me!” or something similar. As you can imagine, that’s not quite as pleasant at start. Some days just begin in a more relaxing way than others.

I find myself, on difficult days, craving a moment to myself. That could be almost any sort of moment… for instance, I love the grocery store. I could take a mile-long grocery list to the store, alone, ideally with a cappuccino, and it would be the perfect hour: super productive, not a waste of time, but relaxing, and also delicious if I ended up with that fancy drink. Just to have that bit of time to myself to regroup is my biggest desire in a hectic day. I suppose that’s how the memes about moms eating chocolate while locked in the bathroom are born. Boy, can I relate.

But actually taking the minute to myself doesn’t happen as much as needing it does. If I end up – for whatever reason – pushing through my need for a break, I’ll just end up back feeling crazed again in another half an hour. If I don’t take the moment I need to center myself, zap my coffee and take a big swig, or sit down and zone out for a minute or five. I’m so driven by productivity and “getting things done so that I can relax later” that I rarely let myself take a few minutes for myself before the to-do list is finished.

I do know one thing, though. I can prevent the feelings of stress and anxiety from getting worse (and sometimes break that cycle entirely, if I’m lucky) by taking that time I need for myself sooner. Need a breather? Take one. Need to just sit down for a few minutes? Do it. Need three minutes to calm your brain and scroll through Instagram? That’s just fine. There are very few things on my “list” that won’t still be there in five minutes – including the kids. A mental break is just as important as a physical one, but sometimes I can’t pull my brain out of the frenzy unless I pull my body out of it, too. Sometimes, I even leave the house… I step out to the back porch, or walk to get the mail. Sunshine and fresh air are an immediate shock to my system when it’s bogged down by detailed-oriented tasks and grabby hands that need me. The way my home is set up, the kids are usually in the room that leads to the porch, and it’s full of windows, so I’m not exactly leaving them unattended. But I’m getting out of the situation enough to hear birds instead of the arguing, or to see sun and trees instead of the pile of laundry I was about to get to. Sometimes, even sitting down with the kids and watching Octonauts is a break. It interrupts their cycle of crazy when I redirect them to something else, and it interrupts my cycle of “can’t slow my roll” when I get in there for a snuggle.

So, if you’re like me, sometimes (often?) wound up tightly, pushing yourself through those moments of anxiety or frustration in the sake of thinking you can handle it – or worse, for the sake of productivity – then give yourself a break. Take that minute, or 5, or 10 that you need. Do whatever you need to do to find the time, sooner rather than later, to let yourself unwind. Drink your coffee while it’s still hot. Sit down to chat or snuggle with your child before you get started on the dishes. Sneak that candy bar in the bathroom! There’s no shame in the game of saving your own sanity. You do something for you, mama, and don’t feel bad about it.

RACE DAY!

Y’all! I finally ran the race! I got up early, ate a healthy breakfast, got there on time, managed to poop beforehand (fellow runners, you know how important that is) and CRUSHED it. My goal was to finish within two and a half hours… and I finished under two hours! My typical pace while training (on my long runs anyway) had been 9:45-10 minutes per mile. Almost exactly in that window. So I figured I’d be slower on those last couple of miles, or need to walk a little bit, or whatever. But y’all, I didn’t walk at all, I didn’t stop to pee, and I only grabbed the Gatorade twice (you know, so I didn’t die). My jitters went away pretty quickly and I got into the flow quicker than I thought. I had my two energy goos (we might talk later about how those things make me gag but they’re super necessary) earlier than normal – one at mile 3ish and one at mile 7ish – which I think was helpful. I usually wait for the first one till mile 5 or 6, so I was afraid it wouldn’t last me till the end. But it did! Can I tell you my favorite part about the whole race?

Community.

Lots of runners just did their thing. Or they ran with people they’d probably been training with. Or they just rambled on (that Led Zeppelin song was on my playlist, by the way) through those miles without much thought for anything. Or maybe they were thinking a lot. Who knows. I myself was jamming to my music, praising God because the rain held off, and praying that my knees wouldn’t die at mile 10 like they sometimes seem to want to do. But I was near this one guy the whole race, who I found out at mile 11 had just turned 30, and just proposed to his girlfriend/fiancee (who was also running the race) and so his friends were stationed every couple of miles with signs and shouts of congratulations/happy birthday. It was actually quite a contagious amount of fun, and so I got caught up in the happy. He was also acting as my “pacer” because he was going a little faster than I usually went on my training runs, but not so fast that it was unreasonable to keep up with him. So anyway, at mile 11, his buddy come on and started running with him, realized I was close by, and started telling me that story.

Another gal who I realized was going our same pace was close by as well, and she noticed I was starting to fade, but trying my darnedest to keep up with them. So she started looking over her shoulder for me, and saying, “Come on! One more mile! You can do it! Last hill!” every time I fell a few paces behind. I had my own built-in cheering section, y’all. Runners know how to do life together.

I did most of my training alone, and so I expected to race alone. But I didn’t. I raced with hundreds of strangers, all of whom were pretty cool. It was neat to see everyone’s style: some raced in tutus, some in basically nothing at all, some decked out in shirts that had their running troupe’s name or a scripture that resonated with them. Some, like me, had jackets tied around their waists because it was freezing when we started. Some had iPod earbuds, or huge Beats By Dre (is that what they’re called?) that I don’t think I could’ve worn for the whole time.

OH! I almost forgot my other favorite thing. At mile 5, and again at mile 10, there was a bagpiper! WHO DOES THAT?! If you are reading this and happen to play the bagpipes, please attend the next race nearest you, so that the people can enjoy your pipes. Seriously. It was awesome.

Because I ran way faster than I thought, I finished earlier than I told Hubby I would. I told him about 2:15, and I finished at 1:56. Crazy. So naturally he and the kids were parking and hadn’t made it to the finish line yet… but they did hang around for the donut truck, taco truck, and beer vendors. Every race I run is gonna be a beer run now, by the way. I finished tenth in my gender/age group, which made me really proud. It’s not award-getting, but I was REALLY stoked to have done as well as I did. I definitely will be racing again, and hoping just to get the same time. I know that was a PR for the books, so I won’t set my standards TOO high.

I’m just so proud that I had to share with y’all. Thanks for reading, and for all the encouragement I got along the way. Half-marathon, you were pretty good to me. See you again soon. Real soon? Maybe in the fall.

Running More. And More. 

So. As you know, I’m training for a half marathon. The one I had originally chosen is apparently very hilly, and also it’s a little soon for me to feel great about running it. So I’m still training, but I think I’m doing a different race. Last week, I did some speed work (sprints in the wind are basically the worst) and this past week, my goal was to get really good rest. It’s not going well. Every member of our family is suffering from a “mini cold”. It’s not that big of a deal during the day, but when we lay down, the mucus is out of control, and no one is sleeping that well.

Evidence of my “windy” miles.

Naturally, I’m more tired than usual since babes are waking and I’m not getting quality sleep because of it. But I’m pushing through! I got 4.25 miles in yesterday afternoon while everyone napped. I’ve still been eating pretty well, and I’ve had less coffee than normal this week (I subbed it for green tea, which has HUGE health benefits). Today was definitely a cheat day-St. Patrick’s Day meant Hubby was playing a lot, coupled with me trying to work a lot but also trying to see him play- it was a lot of on the go. I only had one “real” meal today, at 3pm no less. But at least it was healthy?

Post-workout selfie with D since he came along Tuesday morning.

So here is my accountability. I am up to almost 8 miles, with a hopeful 8 miles in either tomorrow or Sunday (likely whichever isn’t freezing cold). I’ve been trying SO HARD to keep up with my workouts and good food, so hopefully the last five miles in the training will come easily! Wish me luck!

10 Thoughts I Have On a Long Run

 

Every time I run in the morning, my steps “goal” is achieved in short order.

 

As a busy, part-time working, mostly-SAHM of three, and a fairly recent long-distance runner, I think a lot about random things while running. I do a lot of over-analyzing, some to-do list building, and some praying. I mean, I’m training for a half-marathon and that takes a lot of time of feet hitting pavement. All that considered, here are a few things that go through my head often while I’m out on a long run.

1. Do I know someone close by? I need to pee. Having three kids has pretty much wrecked my bladder. A friend recently recommended Kegels. I told her I thought that was some bullshit.

2. This is my fastest run ever! This is rarely true. Typically it’s just a bare-minimum pace, combined with a train of thought that’s made me feel like time has passed more quickly.

3. This is my slowest run ever! This is more likely than #2. However, it’s also not always true. Sometimes I’m actually running quickly, but the song I am listening to is too slow. I feel like my feet aren’t hitting the pavement quickly enough.

4. Do I need a snack before I run any farther? I have learned that if I haven’t eaten enough calories (or the right calories) before my run – since I often run in the morning – I’m going to get super tired after mile 4 or so. I’ve been packing some light snack options in that tiny pocket in my leggings. You know, something I can eat while running, without feeling the need to vomit afterwards. This is either a milestone of reaching a distance that feels really far for my body, or else a milestone of being 31 and too tired for this mess.

5. Haven’t I heard this song already? I only take my phone with me to listen to music. I use my FitBit for tracking, and make my iPhone an iPod. I don’t have many songs downloaded on there, and so when I put it on shuffle, and run for an hour, it’s actually possible that I start hearing things a second time. But I’m never quite sure… because what if that was yesterday? My memory’s going.

6. But seriously, when do the park bathrooms open? It’s March, it’s not that cold, and I’d like the bathrooms at my neighborhood running park to open up so that I can pee between mile 2 and 3, and again between mile 5 and 6. It’s a thing. I need to pee. All the time. (Let’s just say it’s because I’m super hydrated.)

7. Tomorrow I’m totally running 8 miles. Or however many miles I think is way farther than today. Because today isn’t a good day for it, but tomorrow will be. Right now, I’m a little tired.

8. Please Lord, don’t let me bite the dust. Inevitably, I get super tired on the stretch just before the homestretch. When I’m almost back to my house, I’m all, “Sweet! Just another half mile!” But just before then, I’m all, “Why did I ever let myself run for this many minutes in a row? I clearly am not hydrated or energized enough for this. I made a horrible decision and I’m going to chip my teeth on the sidewalk when I fall.” But I’m definitely not being over-dramatic about the situation.

9. These leggings are totally too big. I usually run in leggings, especially this time of year before it’s too warm. Recently, I’ve been having issues finding leggings that don’t ride up, or slide down, or twist, or keep me too warm, or let too much wind in. I have several different brands, and they’re all fine, but not amazing. Any tips for me, the OCD running queen?

10. I must be crazy to think I can do this. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles. The farthest I’ve gone recently is 7.2 miles. It seems I have a ways to go. I MUST BE CRAZY, Y’ALL.

But hey! Running makes me feel good, look good, and be able to talk like a crazy exercise freak with a lot of other people, including strangers. Cheers to the insane runners!

Currently

It’s that time again… the beginning of yet another month. How is it possible that March is here already? I can’t believe how unseasonably warm it’s been here in NC, and the fact that my allergies are already acting up. But at least I’ve been wearing my Chacos and enjoying some much-needed sunshine! (Well, except for right this second, as it’s beginning to cloud over and look like that rain they’ve forecasted for the evening.)

Anyway, it’s another Currently link-up with Anne in Residence, and this month we’re joined by Carrie at A Stylish Fit as our co-host! Thanks, ladies! Here’s what I’m currently up to…

Watching || This Is Us. I was late to the party, and am still not caught up to the most recent episode, but I’m REALLY enjoying it. It’s fun to see Mandy Moore back around, and I’m loving the dynamics of the triplets as “grown ups”. I still won’t say this is the best show I’ve ever seen, but I truly do enjoy it.


Eating || VERY healthy. As I mentioned last week, I’m doing a fitness challenge and training for a half marathon. This means food as fuel as not as an indulgence, so I’m overhauling my diet to accommodate. For instance, our group is doing “meatless Monday” and so I didn’t have meat at all on Monday! Good thing Hubby is also on board. 

Saying || prayers over my half-marathon training, and my knee. Last night I did something stupid, and got my knee bashed from the side. Naturally, I immediately freaked out thinking I’d torn my meniscus or something crazy, iced it, and took ibuprofen and rested for the rest of the night. This morning, I woke up feeling MUCH better, with a bruise in the place of impact, but there is some residual tightness and soreness I’m trying to rest and ice and anti-inflame again today.

Wearing || work-out attire pretty much all day, every day. I’ve never really been one who likes to do this, but it does help me get the workouts in, motivation-wise. AND there’s no point in showering early, drying my hair, putting on mascara, and dressing nicely when I know I’m going on a run in two hours. It’s going to be easier for me to try to knock out the workouts as early in the day as possible so that I can feel like I “got ready” afterwards. I feel a little more like myself when I’m not dressed like a bum all day.

Posting || a little more very soon, hopefully. My Big Jesus (the site I had been writing for weekly) is relaunching as Everyday Exiles soon, and then I’ll be back to writing a lot more and posting about it. I’ve also been featured on Perfection Pending, and will have another post up on her site this week!

Well, what’s going on with you currently? Leave a comment, or link up with us and share!