Monday, September 30, 2013

Extravagant!

I love how I never have to worry about what I'm going to post for this blog. I've mentioned before that I sometimes wonder if I'll run out of ideas, but I know that I won't because God always provides them. Today's media Monday choice was a no-brainer after church service yesterday. Our worship leader shared a story with us about how during Street Fair, he and his wife ran into a sound problem with his wife's parade float for her music studio. They needed their music for their parade float, but there was no battery power to provide the sound. He asked her what they should do and she simply said that they should pray. Then, they tried it again and WOW! SOUND!! He remarked how amazing it was that she had the faith to believe that God would do that for them. He's the God of miracles who has done far greater things than provide some battery power, so why would anything be too hard for Him?

The thing that struck me and made me tear up so much was when he said that God did it "because He loves my wife." That's the simple truth. He loves us, provides for us, and gets us through everything. It made me think of the blog that I shared yesterday and just how amazing true love really is!

Right after he shared that story, we sang this Casting Crowns song. I just kept right on crying lol. I was beyond touched! I just knew that this was definitely the media/song to share today!!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that you bask in the knowledge that His love is amazing, deep, and VERY extravagant!! Be infused! God bless you!!

 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Beauty of True Love

It's amazing how God can touch your heart through music and movies in such unexpected ways!  A few nights ago, while I was painting in my new home, several songs from Disney's "Beauty & the Beast" ended up playing on one of my specially created Pandora channels (yes, I'm a dork and I listen to Disney songs and musicals lol). Of course, this caused me to think and reflect a lot about the movie. It's been a while since I've watched it, but I've always enjoyed it. It's a fun and delightful treasure for kids and adults alike. It also has a lot of depth and substance that probably gets overlooked.

I feel as though we all need to learn the lesson of true love and surrender that is at the heart of this movie. The Beast learned that love is only love when it's a choice. When he realized that he truly loved Belle, he put his selfish desires aside. He was no longer rude, angry, or demanding his own way. He became a good example of the definition of love when He put HER first (as well as her ailing father, whom he had previously shown no mercy or compassion for). He realized that forcing her to stay, and making her his prisoner, could never be true love. I think it was truly a turning point in the story where he told Belle that he was releasing her. Moments later, he told Cogsworth that he "let her go" and that he "had to". Cogsworth was in shock and asked him why. The Beast's answer was simple, "Because...I love her." 

Belle's own realization of true love came later after she confronted Gaston when she returned home. While trying to save her father from going to the asylum, she proved via the magic mirror that her father wasn't crazy and that the Beast existed. When Gaston realized that she was defending the beast, and that she had feelings for that "monster", she had the guts to say that Gaston was the true monster. To me, that was a very profound thing because if you look at the Beast and Gaston side by side, no one would dare to say such a thing. Though, that's because people usually look at appearances instead of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

If there's one thing that God has constantly reminded me of over the years, it's this very powerful and simple truth: "It's all about the heart, Melissa." Whatever or whomever you're judging, it all boils down to the HEART of it. The heart is all that ever truly matters. Belle could definitely see that the Beast had a good heart despite what he looked like on the outside. The opposite was true of Gaston; pretty on the outside, but a rotten heart on the inside. I probably don't even need to mention how the story ends, but of course Belle came running back to the Beast. It always thrilled my heart how the Beast was so overwhelmingly touched that she did. He thought that even though he did the right thing in letting her go, he had lost his chance not only to have his curse broken, but to have the woman he loved. So, having her CHOOSE to come back to him (and to love him) was the most amazing thing in the world to him!

True love; it proved to be stronger than any curse....even death. That fact, my friends, is no fairy tale! That IS real life! The best example of that is Jesus' true and everlasting love for us. Through His sacrifice, He conquered the grave for us! He brings us back to life when we are dead inside and gives us life eternally! But, of course, we have to choose (like Belle did) to love and be loved. Just as He came (and is coming back again) for us, we have to come to HIM! 

I've learned so much by pondering on the deep lessons found in that movie. I'm glad that God found a way to bring it to my mind from something so simple as those "random" songs from my Pandora station. Though, nothing is random with God. His timing is so perfect! He knew I needed to reflect on such things right now because as I mentioned last week, getting my new home has been a very emotional thing for me for so many reasons. I will officially move in after some minor interior work gets finished. Though, as that time grows closer, my many emotions continue to surface and intensify. My primary emotion: loneliness. I've never lived alone before. I married young, so I went straight from living at home to being a housewife. Then, it was back to living with my parents after the kids and I were forced to leave. Granted, the kids DO live with me, but it's still a lonely and incomplete feeling when you are so used to having other adults or a spouse in the household. This reality is what is finally drawing out the last bit of grief that has been hanging on since the divorce. I have been anticipating this, but have dreaded it even though I welcome the closure of it all. 

Like I stated earlier, God's timing on this is perfect. Today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary. Yet, here I am...single. In my marriage, I was always like Belle; trying to tame the Beast and loving him no matter how much he raged. Though, in my case, I didn't get a happy ending. The prince that exists somewhere inside that raging creature never emerged. His heart hardened instead of softened until terror and rage took over completely and now, the Beast is all that is left. I mourned then, and I mourn now, as I continue to hope and pray for peace & change in that heart and that he truly will allow God to transform him into who he is meant to be. God showed me then, as well as now, that it's in HIS hands and not mine. Surrendering someone or something is SO HARD, but it's only when we give up control to Jesus that everything gets set right again and He can stabilize our lives. We just have to learn to let go. 
 
Letting go of people has never been easy for me; and I feel like I have had to let go of so many! I hate it, but sometimes it's necessary for one reason or another. Actually, I think that the main reason God wanted me to think on that movie was so that I would face the reality that there was someone else that I needed to let go of. When it truly dawned on me, it literally brought me to my knees because I knew that God had been nudging me for a while to release this person to Him. It's someone that I love deeply, but knew that God was asking me to let go and release this person into His hands. I have been avoiding it and living in denial that I was even holding on in the way that I was. However, when God worked on my heart through those crucial lessons of the movie, I couldn't deny what had to be done any longer. I cried and cried and felt the need to kneel and raise my hands to the Lord and say out loud, "I release _____ to you."

When I raised my hands to the Lord, I also remembered the story of Jenny's pearls that has always meant so much to me. In the story, Jenny's Daddy asks her to give up her cheap pearl necklace to him (which she loves more than anything). She refuses and keeps clinging to them until one day she hands them over. In return, her Daddy's gives her a REAL strand of pearls. I felt like I was giving up my prized "pearl" necklace. To me, this was someone I felt was such a treasure and that I was meant to have, but God asked me to trust Him and hand that person over. I don't know what God is going to do in that situation, but I trust Him. It doesn't mean that that treasure is gone, but God will do something with it. It could be that I'm not meant to have it, or maybe I'm just not meant to have it right now or in the way that I thought. Or, maybe he will give me something totally different. I don't know. All I know is that this person belongs to the Lord, not to me. When and if they are meant to be "mine" is up to God. It hurts so very much, but I know that I had to make the same kind of decision that the Beast did by "releasing" them. In doing so, I'm demonstrating that I truly do love this person by giving them their freedom. Maybe they'll have their moment like Belle did and come back. Or, maybe they aren't my "Belle". Either way, I am open to whatever God is determining for me. He will give me something genuine. I don't have to settle for fake pearls!


My heart has been broken more times than I could ever count. Yet, I still have hope  that I will get a "happy ending"; it just may not be in the way that I think (or with whom I think). All I know is that God's new beginning for me was a whole lot different (and better) than anything I could have imagined, so I know that He has the rest in hand too! It took these past three horrible years (well, probably my whole life) to get it, but it's finally here! Maybe sometime soon, some of my other dreams will come true too! I just have to keep trusting and believing that God will do it (because He WILL when He chooses to - and when I'm ready for it). Just like in another Disney movie ("Tangled") we sometimes find a new and better dream. A classmate of mine had reminded me of that fact three years ago when I told him that my dream (my family as I knew it) was now dead and he assured me that it wasn't, but that it was just different and that I would have a new dream. I've always held onto that and I believe that he's right. God is restoring me and building me bigger and better dreams; new and improved versions of the ones I have always had. He is so amazing!
 
Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that what I've shared will help you as much as it has helped me. Learning (and re-learning) about true love, surrender, and sacrifice is something that never gets old. It's also important to remember (like Cinderella would say) to "have faith in your dreams...no matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true." Things may not always happen as soon (or in the way) that we would like, but God knows our hearts. If we continue to delight in Him, and seek him FIRST, He will give us our heart's desires (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 6:33). We have to keep persevering and having faith in Him. He is greater than any fairy godmother could ever be and the TRUEST love we'll ever find (because God IS love)! He is a dream come true all by Himself! Anything else is just a bonus! Believe in Him! He'll come through for you...because He loves you!! That's the beauty of true love, dear ones!! Be infused! God bless you!! 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shakeology Sampler Deal!!

Oh...my...gosh!! FINALLY! That's about all I can say regarding the fact that Team Beachbody has decided to come out with a Shakeology sampler pack! Yep, you heard me! For the first time EVER, you can taste test Shakeology before you decide to buy a full bag! Each sampler contains four single serve packets: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and greenberry. Now, you have no excuse NOT to try this stuff and see how awesome it is! The only catch is that the sampler is limited to one purchase per customer; though that's all it's going to take for you to figure out you LOVE Shakeology anyways! ;) So, what are you waiting for?!! Click here to order your sample!!

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! As always, let me know if you have any questions about Shakeology and I will be happy to answer them! I am super excited about this new, convenient, and easy way for people to give Shakeology a short trial run! Be infused! God bless you!! 


Friday, September 27, 2013

Fruit Pizza

Here's a good idea for something you could take to your next family gathering! It looks delicious (and contains a lot of delicious fruit!). The recipe doesn't give any calorie or nutritional information, so I don't know that it's safe to say that it's low-calorie. However, treats are ok in moderation; and this has fresh fruit so it's a better option than most! Looks good to me! :)

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! Have a wonderful and safe weekend! Be infused! God bless you!!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Snack Smarter

Snacking. We do a lot of it in America. However, we don't always snack on the best foods and sometimes end up consuming as many calories as you would in a meal. So, the question is, how does one snack a little smarter and healthier? Well, if you need some snack ideas, here's 55 of them!! Yes, 55!! Click here to see the list of ideas (which are all around 200 calories or less!).

Additionally, some of my personal favorite all-time low-calorie snacks include:


  • Cocoa roasted almonds that you can get by the bag (or single serving packets) at the store. Almonds have the good kinds of fat in them, plus protein, and the cocoa gives it a little extra flavor (especially if you want a little sweetness). 
  • Carrots and hummus. If you've never tried hummus, you should! I had it for the first time a few years ago and wondered why I never gave it a try before! Trust me, it's good! My favorite brand of it (if you're not making it yourself) is the Athenos hummus. 
  • If you're the type that likes ice cream after dinner, try some low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt with some strawberries or raspberries on top. Drizzle it with a teensie bit of chocolate syrup and you have a really sweet treat that isn't going to be over-the-top on calories. 

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! I hope that this has been a help to you and that you can find some snacks that you like! It's not as difficult as you'd think to snack smarter. You don't have to turn to junk foods! There are lots of good options out there! Feel free to comment and share your tips and faves with me (and everyone else that's reading this blog)! Would love to hear from you (as always)! Be infused! God bless you! 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Time Well Spent

It's hard to believe that there are only six days left in September! This month certainly flew by! Just a few more months and this year will be over with already! Where does the time go?!

Time. That's something that we never seem to have enough of and are always pressed for! It's hard to fit everything in. The end of the year is usually the busiest time of year for most of us. As October approaches, we are reminded that Halloween is coming; followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything that goes with it. Holidays are fun, but they're so busy! They're also full of our favorite seasonal foods and because of that, it's easier to gain weight at this time of year.

This is why I want to encourage you to keep staying active; even if it's only for a little bit each day. Most of us can manage AT LEAST 10 minutes (or better yet, maybe 25). If we can make fitness as much of a priority, along with all the other things we have to do, maybe we can skip gaining so much during these holiday months! After all, why add another ten or fifteen pounds to the ones you're already trying to lose and create more work for yourself? You know I gotta say it, "Ain't nobody got TIME for dat!" ;)

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Here's to hoping that you can make every minute count and that those few minutes you dedicate to your fitness and well-being will be time well spent!! No matter what workout you choose, it will be worth it to look and feel your best so that you can keep up with everything else that demands your time! And, before time runs out this month, consider September's special before it's too late! Get Hip Hop Abs, Rockin' Body, AND Shakeology all for one low price! You'll be so glad you did! Be infused! God bless you!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Working Towards Completion

It's been a week since I've become an official home owner. I still don't think that it's sunk in yet! As my parents and I paint the interior rooms, it feels more and more like mine the more that it transforms. It's kind of like when you're downloading something on a computer and you watch that little bar fill up from a small percentage all the way to 100%. When it's below 50%, you're impatient and a little irritable as you wait. Then, the higher it climbs to completion, the more excited and relieved you are that you have finally gotten to the end!!



Not only do I feel this way about my house, but about this weight-loss journey as well. As I strive to improve my nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness, I feel just like that percentage bar. I am working and waiting. I'm impatient and frustrated about it a lot of times, but I'm progressing! Maybe it's slow, but I will eventually reach completion!! Oh, how AMAZING that will be to reach the end goal! I'm going to keep going no matter what! I MUST finish!

If there's one tip I can give you about all of this, it's that while you do have to remember the big picture, try not to let it get in the way of the "now". It's so easy to get frustrated about how far you have to go that you miss seeing how far you've come or how much you are accomplishing in the moment. This is something that I have to remind myself of a LOT or I'll get frustrated and want to give up. Therefore, I make it a point of reminding myself of what I have accomplished. I think about it and let my thoughts dwell on those accomplishments when I'm feeling overwhelmed so that I have the boost I need to keep going. Trust me, it really does help!!


Grace and peace to you, my friends! Remember, He who began a good work in you will see it to completion (Philippians 1:6). Be patient with yourself and keep persevering! He is with you! You can do ALL THINGS through Him who INFUSES you with His strength (Philippians 4:13). Embrace it! BE infused!! God bless you! 




Monday, September 23, 2013

Let the World Hear You ROAR!!

Recently, I have become aware of Katy Perry's new song: "Roar". When I first heard it, I felt very empowered and awestruck. In general, I feel that her songs are becoming more meaningful and deep ("Part of Me" and "Wide Awake" are the two examples I'm thinking of). I can't help but relate to her in the sense that sometimes pain opens our eyes, transforms us, and also sparks our creativity. We begin expressing ourselves and venting a lot when we are hurt (hopefully, in constructive ways like through music, art, writing, etc.). Katy Perry has channeled the pain of her divorce through her music. No doubt she has inspired, empowered, and helped so many others heal in various ways as she finds her own healing. Those three songs have definitely done that for me as I've pondered the lyrics and remind myself that no matter what, I'm going to be strong and overcome it all. I'm going to continue moving onward and upward; dealing with and healing from all the pain I've gone through so that I can be the best I can be!

I definitely feel like some of the lyrics in "Roar". I'm not being held down by anyone or anything now! I continue to just shake the dust off of things that I'm leaving behind and am feeling more and more liberated! I AM a champion! I am LOUDER than a lion! I have a voice and I'm going to be loud, proud, and make myself heard (not that I've ever been a quiet person anyways lol)! More than anything, I'm going to remember that I've "earned my stripes" and that "I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire." The world is going to hear me ROAR!!!! :)

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! I hope that reading this inspires you to roar your loudest! We are all created with purpose! Be loud and proud for Jesus and live your life out LOUD for Him! Keep persevering in your lives and continue to work hard to achieve your goals! You're going to make it! He's right there with you to give you all you need to accomplish it! Watch the videos below and listen to the lyrics. It's really powerful! The first video is Katy's original song. The second is a cover done by Alex Goot and Sam Tsui (if you haven't heard their work before, you'll get hooked on it in no time! Trust me! They're amazing!). Let the world hear you ROAR!! Make your mark on this earth and remember that you are inspiring others; including little tiger cubs (BIG shout out to MY tiger cub who turns 8 years old today!! Happy birthday my beautiful, fierce little tiger! Mommy is SO PROUD of you!! Keep roarin' loud and proud!). Be infused! God bless you!! 



Sunday, September 22, 2013

"This is the place to be!"

Life is unpredictable. I never expected to be where I am now; and I mean that in SO MANY different ways! I don't even know how to begin to describe all that I am feeling right now. It's pleasantly overwhelming, but getting here was horribly painful!


Last Tuesday, an amazing dream came true for me. It was months in the making (well, YEARS if we're looking at the bigger picture). I am officially the owner of my own home! It's unbelievable to me, because I never expected to be buying a house at this time (or in this amazing and convenient location)! It's just one of those instances in which God brings something about that is bigger and better than the vision that you even had for yourself!

Years ago, I had a house when I was married. My Dad said that it was a great "starter home". I always thought that was odd because I was very content with it (even as small as it was) and never imagined having to move out of it. Though, I always thought it would be nice to live in a neighborhood like my Dad's, but I knew that would never be possible because I knew how much those houses cost. So, I didn't entertain any ideas beyond what I already had.

Oh how things change over the years! I wish I could say that I ended up buying this house in my Dad's neighborhood (and right NEXT to my Dad!) under happier circumstances. Unfortunately, however, it didn't happen how I would have liked. I never dreamed that I would be getting a home on my own as a single mother of two children. Yet, here I am; three rough years later. I still wish that things were different, but I believe that this is going to be a crucial part of my healing process. To me, it feels like the final piece that will end this tumultuous journey and be the official new beginning to our lives. I can't wait to finish the interior work to the house and move in! It's exciting, but scary at the same time! It will be quite the adjustment, but an overall positive one!

Enjoying my front porch swing!!
I am extremely grateful to God for being so good to my children and I. I am also grateful to my family, friends, and the good neighbor and her family that was BEYOND gracious in making such a good deal with us to have this home! To everyone who always assured me "it will get better" and that we really do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9) it's TRUE! It really does payoff to persevere and to continue doing what is right. It comes back to you! Likewise, those that sow wickedness reap it too (Job 4:8). I've wept and sown many tears, but now it's time to reap some joy (Psalm 126:5)!! As Solomon says, there's a time to weep and mourn; but then there's a time to laugh and dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4). It's FINALLY time to laugh (a LOT!!) and dance, dance, DANCE in celebration!!! :) I'm overjoyed!!! My daughter particularly relates to the dancing and laughing part because she has been giggling and running through the house shouting how happy she is and that "this is the place to be"! I couldn't agree more!! This is the place to be; the place that God has given us (which we gladly give back to Him). We finally have a place to call "home"!!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! If you're reading this, and going through a hard time of your own, I hope that this encourages you. Your hardships won't last forever! You will have your time too! Keep persevering and sowing good things and you will reap the rewards as well! Just like Job, the Lord will rebuild, restore, and bless you beyond what you could ever imagine! He did it for me, He can do it for you! I can't even begin to fathom what else He has in store for me! I felt like I had lost so much and that I would never recover or be the same again, but He is showing me that nothing is hopeless. He is faithful and He is good! It does take time (and waiting is horrible sometimes) but it is worth it! I'm making it, and so can you! With Him, you can overcome everything! He is there and He NEVER fails!! Be infused! God bless you!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sweet as Sugar

Whether you have diabetes or not, everyone knows that regulating your blood sugar is a good idea. The glycemic index might not mean much to you, but the fact of the matter is, Shakeology rates very low on it (which is a GOOD thing). I won't begin to try to explain it, so that's why I have included this short video for you to watch! It's definitely worth viewing!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that this just adds to one of the many reasons and perks of drinking Shakeology. It truly is the best thing you can ever do to yourself! Be healthy! Have energy! Stay regular AND regulated!! Be sweet as sugar, but not so sweet that it gets the best of you! Be infused! God bless you!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Marinara Chicken and Vegetables!

Now here's something delicious (and another great slow cooker recipe idea). It's marinara chicken and vegetables; which you can serve over some whole wheat pasta. Add a side salad and you have yourself a very nice meal! Looks great, doesn't it! Yet another recipe that I am definitely wanting to try lol!

Grace and peace to all of you, my friends! Be safe and have a wonderful weekend! Be infused! God bless you!!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

You Don't Have to be SAD

Winter blues. Is there such a thing? Have you ever asked yourself why you might be feeling more down during the last few months of the year? I know I have! I thought it was just me but actually, it's a REAL issue called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I have never been "officially" diagnosed with it, but based on all my symptoms and experiences for years, I know that this is more than likely the case with me.

In this article, you can read a little bit about what SAD is and see a list of symptoms; which include fatigue, depression, and a range of other things. A big factor in SAD is the lack of enough sunlight. As the article points out, Florida residents have fewer people that experience SAD than people in Alaska (given the amount of daylight hours). That's because sunlight helps not only our mood, but our physical well-being. Sunlight helps us get the vitamin D we need; it's very important! In fact, one might consider taking a vitamin D supplement (my doctor recommended one for me years ago and I've been taking one ever since). Additionally, some might consider medication for more severe cases. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and find a treatment plan that's best for you!

In my case, I do a variety of things to help me deal with some of my more "downer" emotions. More than anything, I try to pray. God is always there to lift my mood and restore me to a better state of mind and being. He also has blessed me with some great family and friends who are there for me to talk to (as well as lighten my mood with humor). Keeping occupied helps too (especially if it's things that you enjoy; like hobbies or talents). Journaling can be very effective too! There are all sorts of things you can do to keep your mood stabilized; including maintaining a good diet rich in vitamins (especially vitamin D) and exercising to fuel your mind with mood boosting endorphins!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! If you struggle like I do, just know that you don't have to be SAD. There are always ways of coping! I have managed to do it for years! I will get through it this year the way I have every year with the help of the many things I mentioned above! If you need support, I'm here for you!! I'm here as your coach and your friend; and I'll keep blogging to inspire, inform, and encourage too! Be infused! God bless you!!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Extra-cise!

Well, it's the middle of the week! Happy hump day! Are you ready for the weekend? I know I am!! I have been continuing to do my workouts (as usual). Though, I'm extra worn out from all the walking that I'm doing at our annual local fair. But, tiring as it may be, any extra time you have where you're moving and burning calories is a GOOD thing! 
That's what I want to talk about for this workout Wednesday. Usually, I would feature a video and a workout program, but today I just wanted to talk about the benefits of a little extra-cise! Even if you aren't doing a program, you can do SOMETHING! Wear a step counter and you might find that you move a lot more than you realize (or, maybe LESS than you thought in which case, STEP IT UP!).

There are lots of ways to get some extra-cise!! It's pretty simple! Even just fidgeting a little bit while you work at your desk job can burn a few extra calories! Keep yourself moving as much as possible to maximize your calorie burning potential! Park your car further away from a store, take the stairs, dance/sing while you cook dinner (I totally do this lol) etc. Find ways of challenging yourself and you'll find that you're steadily building endurance! Make it a game and make it FUN!! See what all you can do to add more movement to your day!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! For those of you that are local, enjoy your time walking around the fair (and I hope to see you around!). Keep walking; especially if you're eating a lot of that fair food (I'm eating chocolate covered fruit aka a "zum stick" in that picture)! ;) Be infused! God bless you! 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Little by Little

We've all done it. Done too much when we should have just started small. We have big ideas and huge goals and we forget to break them down into smaller and more attainable ones. We take on too much and then wonder why we get overwhelmed and fail.

As someone who tends to be "all or nothing", I am very guilty of this. I have bitten off more than I could chew on many occasions. Even when it comes to fitness and nutrition, I have been guilty of trying to "fix" it all at once and then ended up frustrated and gave up.

I think we all have done this before. We want to be healthy. We want to exercise and eat better, but we try to do it ALL instead of just focusing on small changes and working our way up. If you've eaten poorly for a long time, and haven't exercised for who knows how long, it's a little unrealistic to think that you are going to eat perfectly and run a marathon within a week.

Take things easy on yourself!! Star with small goals like "I'm only going to have one soda a day" or "I'm going to switch to diet soda" instead of trying to quit cold turkey (especially if you drink a LOT of soda). Eventually, you can work your way up to the bigger goal of not drinking it all. Just cut it down each day, then each week, until you eliminate it. Also, ADD in "I will drink 'x' amount of water each day." It's not enough to ditch the bad stuff. You have to REPLACE the bad habits with NEW ones or you will fall back into your old ways.

The same thing goes with exercise. Work your way up or you'll get frustrated if you try to do too much. Start out with a goal of 10 minutes a day or a certain amount of minutes per week. Begin with something doable and not too strenuous and work your way up to higher difficulty levels. Remember, safety first! If you need help choosing an exercise routine, I'm here to help you with that! Whatever your needs and goals are, I'm here to support you!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Little by little, you'll get there! Keep making the small and positive changes that will get you BIG results!! Be infused!! God bless you!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Running to His Arms

Yesterday, my laptop was having connection problems. For some reason, it just wasn't working (and still isn't working much today either). I don't know why! Anyways, it prevented me from composing and posting a blog yesterday (and it drove me crazy!).

Since I started this blog, I have stayed consistent with posting every day; and according to the particular pre-determined topic/category of the day. Yesterday was supposed to be "spiritual Sunday" and today is "media Monday". So, since I missed yesterday, I was trying to figure out what to do. Should I post a late blog PLUS today's blog, or combine the two? I've opted to combine the two because the media for today is a video/song that we sang at church yesterday that I wanted to share; and the content for what would have been yesterday's blog fits with it as well.

Yesterday, I was feeling rather down. I won't go into the particulars but I was rather drained (emotionally and physically). When you feel that bad, you just want to be held and comforted. Sometimes, there's someone there to offer it to you and sometimes there isn't. However, God IS always there to offer comfort and that is where this song comes in. When we sang it at church, the part that I just kept hanging on was "I'm running to your arms." I became really focused on that lyric. So many times, we treat God as the last resort. We run to other people and things when we should be running straight into His arms. He's sovereign and He is God. He should be first and number one. He's shouldn't be our last resort, but our first response!

I was thinking so much about the core idea of the sermon which was the fact that nothing and no one is ever "enough", but GOD is. People will fail. God will not. Like another song goes, "All of you, is more than enough for all of me...." It's true. He is MORE than enough. He is BEYOND sufficient. What no one else can satisfy, God can! We have to come to Him; running into His arms. He will supply us with everything we need! The timing for that reminder couldn't have been more perfect for me than it is right now!! Nothing and NO ONE compares to Him! I have to remember that!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope we can all remember to run to the arms of Jesus for everything. May we rest in His peace, delight in Him, and allow Him to be our comforter, healer, and so much more! Be infused! God bless you!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Regular Life

By now, most know what Shakeology can do for you nutritionally. However, what most don't know is that it helps much more than that. Its ingredients (including the pro-biotics) keeps you healthy and regular. Your immune system and intestinal tract functions much better and you stay regular. I can personally vouch for that! I have a delicate stomach and I used to have a lot of issues with regularity and such. I feel and function MUCH better drinking Shakeology every day! I wouldn't want to go back to being without it!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Here's a short video for you today. Not only can you have a better and healthier life, but a more "regular" one too! ;) Thanks as always for reading and if you want to know more about what Shakeology has done for me, you can read this post. Be infused! God bless you!!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Creamy Avocado Pasta!

Are you an avocado lover? I know I am! Here's a new way you can use those tasty avocados to make a delicious meal! It's definitely something I want to try! Doesn't that look good?!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Have a fun and safe weekend!! Be infused! God bless you!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Does Stress Make You Fat?

When it comes to the various reasons as to why we're overweight, there can be a variety of different factors. One of  those elements can definitely be stress. Click here to read a little more about how hormones, sleep, and other components of your life can be affected by stress and contribute to weight issues. 
As mentioned before in a previous blog about de-stressing, there are a lot of things that we can do to reduce and eliminate the stress in our lives, help our bodies function normally, and avoid stress eating. Our first priority should be to pray about it and allow God to take on our problems. When we surrender to Him, we will find the peace and rest that we need. 

Not only do we need the rest that results from being calm and at ease, but also the kind of rest that results from adequate sleep. Without good sleep, we won't function properly and our hormones and body chemistry will be all messed up and can translate into more bad eating choices (as mentioned in the article). Why add to the stress by piling on more pounds to weigh us down?!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope you have found the article and previous blog helpful in dealing with whatever stress you have in your life. Personally, I have to think about that post a lot because I have had a lot going on and need to de-stress myself. Prayer, exercise, talking and laughing with friends, and trying to get the sleep I need helps quite a bit! If I didn't engage in those outlets, I would REALLY have a hard time losing my weight because I would be depressed and binge eating all the time. It really helps to find positive ways to unwind so that stress doesn't translate into more stress when you get on the scale and then wonder what happened. No one wants that! Relax! Lean on Him and the people He places in your life to help you (including me! I'm here for you!). Be infused! God bless you!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Focus T25 Workout Results!

There are so many perks to finishing a workout program. One of them is the fact that you can say that you did it and that you made it through! The other thing is being able to see the fruits of your labor! In my case, I just finished the basic Focus T25 program (which consists of the Alpha and Beta stages). It's a 10 week program; only 25 minutes a day Monday-Friday with Saturday being a rest day and a recommended stretch exercise workout on Sundays. I am proud to say that I have done remarkably well; considering that I did the modifications and the only real nutrition plan I had was Shakeology. I would have done even better if I had been counting calories and following some sort of meal plan, but I'm happy with what I've accomplished with  just the Shakeology and workouts alone! I have lost 11 pounds and several inches (which is about a pound a week and generally speaking, they say the safest to lose is 1-2 pounds a week so I am doing really well even without a rigid nutrition plan)!! I'm never quite sure if I measure just right, but I'm down 5 inches altogether in the thighs, waist, and hips. I've also lost nearly two inches around the chest. My bras, shirts, and pants all fit differently/better and I am THRILLED!! Therefore, I am going to continue on with Focus T25 by doing the next phase: GAMMA!! 

The Gamma phase is centered on strength. In these first few days, I'm already feeling stronger, tighter, and a little sore. It's great! I am looking forward to completing these next four weeks and then probably doing the hybrid schedule for four more weeks (which is a mixture of workouts from all three phases). So, by then, I hope to be able to have a REALLY nice "after" photo. I can definitely see a difference now, but I guess I just want to wait to post them until I've completely finished and have lost even MORE weight and look more toned. ;) 

I'm tellin' ya, people, this program is AMAZING!! I have done several Beachbody programs and out of all of them, I feel like this is probably one of the best ones! I have gotten GREAT results and the workouts (while intense) are doable and don't take that much time. I LOVE that!! I highly recommend this program!! I know that anyone that has (or is) doing it would agree!! If you've already finished the basic program, I also highly recommend continuing on with Gamma! I have really high expectations for this! I'm loving it! 

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Remember, you can do this!! Even if 25 minutes is too much of a commitment for you, you can at LEAST do 10 minutes....right? EVERYONE can do something! You just have to start SOMEWHERE! Let me help you pick a program that you'll love (and they all are guaranteed) and get you started on Shakeology as well! The proof is all right here in my own results; you don't have to be perfect to make progress! Be infused! God bless you!! 



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Giving Each Other a Push!

In a sermon I heard a while back, Pastor Larry Sprinkle happened to mention Jean Nidetch (who is the founder of Weight Watchers). He was talking about something she said in regards to being there to give others a little "push" to succeed. When looking online for the story, I found it here. She says that the reason she is able to help so many people is because it's like pushing a kid on a swing. When you give them a little nudge, that little boost helps them to carry on for themselves.

I couldn't agree more! When you have people to support you in your journey, you are way more likely to succeed! In fact, it is the final key that Dr. Phil mentions in his book: The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom. He emphasizes the fact that having a positive circle of support is absolutely essential. EVERYONE needs cheerleaders! They lift you up, inspire you, and motivate you to keep on going! Even I need people to support me too (and I'm a coach)! I have fellow coaches, teammates, as well as all of YOU to inspire me to keep going on in my own journey! I couldn't be more grateful! We all help each other succeed!

Dr. Phil also warns us to beware of those who are unintentionally (or maybe even purposely) trying to sabotage you. Stay away from those that are trying to bring you down, bully you, or fill you with discouraging or negative messages. Don't allow people to distract or dissuade you from your goals! Check out Dr. Phil's list of "do's" and "don't" of support as well as his social support audit for more!

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! Remember that I'm here to support you on your journey! That's why I'm a coach and that's why I continue to blog....for YOU! Also, get plugged in with other like-minded people who are on this same journey! Interact with the rest of Infusion 413 on Facebook and feel free to post on the message boards and add buddies on the Team Beachbody website! Let's continue to push each other to reach greater heights! Be infused! God bless you!


Monday, September 9, 2013

You Can Do It!

I'm sure a lot of you have seen "The Waterboy". There's a recurring character in it that is always saying, "You can do it!" As funny as it is, it's also one of those simple and encouraging things that we all should have in life; people cheering us on and reminding us that we can do it! I don't know about you, but I am extremely grateful for the "cheerleaders" in my life who always remind me that I can do it!

Tomorrow, I'll be talking about the last of Dr. Phil's 7 keys to weight-loss freedom which focuses on support. We ALL need support; no matter what we're trying to accomplish. We aren't meant to be loners in this life! Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us to keep gathering together and to encourage one another. We need to keep lifting each other up and inspiring one another to keep going!!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! No matter what you have going on, remember that "you can do it!" I'm here to encourage you and be there for you! More than anything, though, GOD is there to supply you with the strength and everything you need to accomplish all things! Be infused! God bless you!!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to Hear from God

Today has been one of those days where I wasn't sure what to blog. Sometimes, I almost worry a bit until I focus and remember that God ALWAYS gives me something. I don't have to be concerned about running out of content to post on here to help others because GOD is in charge. He always supplies me with something to share! Yet, sometimes I also get concerned that I won't hear Him even when He is speaking.

Today, I was absolutely wowed by a verse while listening to a sermon at Huntington Baptist Church today. It spoke to me about that very concern that I just mentioned. It wasn't something I didn't already know, but for some reason, it hit me in a fresh way:

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. - Isaiah 59:2

Iniquity. Sin. If we can't hear, if we feel separated from Him, it's because something isn't right in our hearts. We are holding something back from Him; our unconfessed sin. When Jesus was on the cross, He had the sin of the whole world on Himself and He had asked God why He had forsaken Him (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). God is holy. Sin can't stand in His presence. It becomes a barrier between Him and us. Until it's torn down by our confession, and the forgiveness through Christ's blood (1 John 1:9), we're going to continue to feel distant from God. We have to make it right! God wants to be near us. He'll draw near to us if we draw near to Him (James 4:8). He never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8). We're the ones that build up that wall and cause that distance by running away from Him and letting sin build up in our lives.

I've been struggling for a few years to feel God's presence like I used to (and yearn to). I keep praying for the wisdom to see and hear Him clearly and to be aware of the things that I need to do to accomplish that. I am a constant work in progress. I'm doing much better, but I still have a lot of work to do. I'm going to keep praying for God to sensitize me and to keep learning how to die to self more and more every day (Matthew 16:24-25).

I want God to hear me; and I want to hear from God. I don't want His face to be hidden from me. I want to SEEK IT! I want to connect with God, but building a wall of sin brick by brick is going to make it impossible unless it's torn down by confession and the blood of Jesus. Dear Lord, give me the strength I need to do whatever needs to be done!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! May we all have humble and open hearts to the Spirit of God; sensitized and never callused. Watch the video below. It's a powerful illustration of how God chips away at us and molds us into his masterpiece if we allow Him to work in us and remove the things that don't belong!
Be infused! God bless you!




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Are You Smarter Than Katie Couric?

I'm just going to come out and say it: I am NOT a fan of Katie Couric. Never really have been. I won't begin to list the numerous reasons why, but for starters, she always acts like she's that easily amused girl who is the sidekick of some infomercial guy. She always has that giddy and corny smile and acts like everything she's hearing from whomever she's talking to is something that is a brand new idea that no one has ever heard of before.

It comes as no surprise to me that her talk show is such an eye-roller to me. I am greatly annoyed by it. I was sitting on the couch with my laptop a while back and my Dad (who is obviously in control of the remote) was watching her show that day. She had a doctor on there giving a bunch of tips on how to deal with all sorts of health and wellness issues. You can check out the link if you want. It's all good ideas, but most of it is common sense and nothing new (unless you're Katie and have never heard it before). The video below shows more of what the doctor was talking about. The whole time I was watching it, I was laughing at how awestruck Katie was at his advice. I was also shaking my head at how much effort (and money) it would take to be able to get all of those foods, nutrients, vitamins, and supplements that the doctor said would help you. All I could say was, "Oh, Katie, if you only knew!" She should just have someone from Team Beachbody on there to say, "Or, you could just drink Shakeology every day." Seriously, why hassle with all the nonsense that they are promoting in this video?! If you check out Shakeology and read about the ingredients, you'll find that a lot of what they're promoting is already in ONE glass a day of Shakeology! Heck yeah! MUCH better, cost friendlier, and DEFINITELY much tastier!

I'll give Katie a break here; she really is trying and she doesn't know any better. If she did, she would be just as pumped up over Shakeology like the rest of us who already know it rocks! So, in THIS particular case, Katie isn't being willingly ignorant. She just needs someone to tell her about Shakeology and then she'll totally be on board (I would think). In the meantime, though, every one of you who is drinking Shakeology can have the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something really SMART for yourself; and that you're smarter than the famous Katie Couric. ;) I'm not trying to be mean-spirited or anything; just a little humorous and blunt honest.

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! Remember, nutrition and wellness doesn't have to be complicated. Simplify your lives and make a smart and easy decision! Drink Shakeology! :) Be infused! God bless you!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken!

Rotisserie chicken. I don't know many people who don't LOVE it!! There's something about the tastiness and juiciness of it! It's also packed full of protein and is absolutely delicious!! Most of us probably pick it up at the store in the hot deli section. Though, I just found a recipe for making it in your own crock pot at home! Sounds like a great idea to me!! Wouldn't you just love to smell that as you walk in the door after getting off of work?! I know I would!

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! Have a great weekend! Be infused! God bless you!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How to De-Stress

Stress. We all have it in our lives, unfortunately. The question is, how do we manage it? It isn't easy, but there are lots of things that we can do to effectively de-stress and feel better!

Our obvious (although, maybe often ignored) first response to stress should be prayer. It's the greatest success tool we have in overcoming the things that weigh on us by allowing Christ to take on our burdens. God urges us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He also assures us not to be troubled or afraid and that He gives us peace and rest (Matthew 11:28John 14:26).

Additionally, we can reduce stress by utilizing various methods to vent. For example, when I'm stressed or upset, I often talk to my close friends (especially my best friend, Sarah). Having adequate support is VERY helpful! Family and friends who are there to listen, advise, and comfort you when you're overwhelmed goes a long way in helping alleviate the burdens on our shoulders! I don't know what I would do without Sarah! We've shared each other's laughter and tears and she greatly enriches my life; enhancing my best moments and lifting me up in my worst. Having friends like that is essential!!

Other effective stress relievers can be journaling, participating in creative activities and hobbies, and exercising. Just find something that you enjoy doing that helps you to unwind and relax. The possibilities are endless! Just make sure you take some time for "you" and choose constructive ways to unburden yourself.

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that this blog has been a gentle reminder that no matter what you're facing, there are ways of coping. Rely on the strength of Jesus to get you through. Come to Him in prayer and allow Him to help you. Also, use the gifts, talents, and interests that He has blessed you with to make a difference in the world. You'll minister to others and yourself at the same time and feel a whole lot better! Do things that you love and you'll be doing a great service for Him, others, and yourself too! Be infused! God bless you!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dance the Pounds Off!

Everyone knows that I'm a peppy and dancey kind of girl. I really like to dance and get my groove on! It's fun!! Nothing beats getting to do a workout that doesn't feel like a workout at all! That's why I REALLY enjoy programs like Hip Hop Abs and Rockin' Body! Not only are they enjoyable, but they get the job done as well! They especially helped me lose inches in the waist (my biggest trouble zone)!

Does losing weight doing some upbeat dancey workouts sound like fun to you? If so, you have from now until September 30th to take advantage of the fact that you can get BOTH Hip Hop Abs, Rockin' Body, AND Shakeology ALL AT ONCE for a great price!! To buy them all separately would cost a LOT more. You'll save $50.00 by buying this challenge pack!! This is a GREAT deal and the perfect opportunity to get all you need at a great price!! Click here to check it out and place your order! Don't miss out on this one!

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! You will LOVE these workouts! I know I did!! Shaun T is an AMAZING trainer; fun, motivating, and helps you get results! You won't be disappointed!! Be infused! God bless you! 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Is "Exercise" an Ugly Word?

Exercise. It seems like such an ugly word sometimes! I know I always used to hear that word want to roll my eyes and stick out my tongue (sometimes, I still do lol). I think that generally speaking, people view exercise negatively despite how positive it really is. We get into the mindset of thinking that it's difficult as well as boring and we totally throw out the idea of doing it; as well as using the "I don't have time" excuse.

Over the years, I have learned just how much I need exercise. It's not just for the obvious reasons of losing weight and getting in shape, but it's always helped with my mood as well. I feel better from the inside out because exercising is a mood regulator. I really can't afford to feel sluggish or in a bad mood. I need the boost!

Dr. Phil emphasizes the fact that intentional exercise is a big deal. He says: "A common denominator among people who successfully manage their weight and stay fit is that they exercise as a matter of habit. Failure to put exercise at the top of your priority list, or leaving it off the list altogether, is a deal breaker, because you're cheating yourself not just out of a way to shed the necessary pounds, but also a way to stabilize a normal weight and stay healthy for a lifetime."

I know that all of this isn't new information. I know it's hard to get into a habit of working out, but start small. Exercise doesn't even have to be strenuous or long. Even if you can only manage ten minutes a day, that would be a BIG help to your overall well-being! Making simple choices throughout your day helps too; like taking the stairs instead of an elevator or parking your car a little further away from a store entrance. There are lots of ways you can purposely fit in a little more "fit time". You'll be glad you did! You'll definitely notice a difference both in how you look and feel!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! If you need help getting into a new exercise routine, talk to me! I can help you identify the best ways to start incorporating it into your life! We'll work together to find something that you'll enjoy AND get results with! It's possible! Exercise doesn't have to be an ugly word or thing of dread! You can definitely change your mind and body with a fresh perspective and learn to love it when you find what's right for you! Be infused! God bless you!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Doing Labor Day YOUR Way!

Finally! It's labor day! Hopefully, for many of us, that means a day off to relax and rest for a while! After yesterday, my feet sure are feeling it and I definitely need it! Yet, I still managed to stay on schedule with my Focus T25 workout today and pushed through it (that was tough!).

For today, I thought I'd share something a little fun lol. For those of you that still want a light workout today, why not try prancersizing lol?! Gosh, the first time I saw this video, I was so confused! I didn't know whether it was something serious or a joke! For the record, I think she's totally serious, but I don't think anyone would actually DO this and take it seriously lol! 

Grace and peace to you, my friends!! Have a WONDERFUL labor day; whether you're resting, going for a walk to unwind, or prancersizing lol!! Do labor day YOUR way! Be infused! God bless you!! 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Few Miles Without Shoes

Some of the shoes collected today.
Often times, you can understand a person's perspective a lot better after you've walked a mile or two in their shoes (so to speak). However, today was a special opportunity for many of us to find out what it feels like to walk in someone else's shoes while walking without any at all.

Lindsey Fiscus had a brilliant idea for how to reach out to the global community. The Lord put it on her heart to collect shoe donations for those in Africa who suffer greatly from preventable injuries and diseases due to the lack of shoes. The African people have to walk everywhere; like to and from water sources to get what they need (which is another problem, clean water). The need is just SO GREAT and this is just one way to reach out and help meet that need!

Lindsey's goal was to collect at least 50 pairs of shoes. Today, 142 pairs were donated!! Praise God! The best part is, it's not over yet! For the next several weeks, she'll continue to gather more donations as she prepares to find a way to send them to those in need in Africa! If you would like to help, just drop off some shoes (or send in a special donation) to First Church of Christ.

Thirty-one people (including myself and my two children) participated in the walk today. For about three miles on the River Greenway, we walked barefoot and got to experience the pain and fatigue of what the African people go through every day. In all actuality, I think my kids fared better than I did lol. My feet were so blistered and I was struggling to keep walking during the last half. The kids were tired, but they seem to have recovered just fine (their feet don't even look beat up!). Mine are going to take a while to heal lol. However, I feel that it was more than worth it! I hope my kids will look back on this with me and better empathize with those that don't have even the most basic of needs. We don't realize how much we truly have and that there is precious little that we should ever be complaining about when we are so richly blessed in this country!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! May we all be grateful for what we have and aware of the needs around us so that we can share the excess of our own blessings! Be infused! God bless you!