MamaCreates

Behind the Scenes of One Mama's Life

Thrive90 – Day Five

The first week of Thrive90 is almost over and I’m still alive!

Today I did a new video that was called Strength Circuit. I have to admit that this is the first workout I really struggled with. It wasn’t because it was a bad workout. It was more due to the fact that I’m out of shape and the symptoms I encounter with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Many of the exercises involved over-the-head movements and those are difficult with TOS. I actually experienced tingling and numbness for about a half hour after the workout was complete. Let me repeat that this is due to my medical condition and not the program itself. Then, there were a couple of exercises that my out-of-shape body just couldn’t handle. I look forward to improving my abilities in this circuit training; I am told that I will get better with each time I do it.

There is one thing I am really proud of though – one of the things in the circuit was a static plank. Basically you put your weight on your elbows and toes and raise your body off the ground, while keeping it flat. In my first video this week, I had to do this and cold only hold it for 20 seconds. Today I was able to hold it for the full 30 seconds the first time and 20 seconds the second time. I am proud of the improvement. I know it’s something really small, but any small improvement gives me motivation to keep on course. I get to do a new video tomorrow and then rest on Sunday. I am looking forward to do a weigh-in on Monday!

See you tomorrow – thanks for stopping by!

Thrive90 – Days 3 & 4

Today is actually Day Four; and a day of rest. Boy, did I need it after Day Three’s activities! On Day Three, I had a new video to try. It was called HIIT Squat Walks – HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This video and workout was short, but boy did it pack a punch! You do four different variations on walking in a squat position for 30 seconds each, with a 60 second ‘break’ in between. The funny thing is that it seems so simple, but my glutes and quads were definitely worked hard! I felt it all day yesterday and again today.

I’m sticking with eating less than I used to, but I’m not always making the best choices when I do eat.  I’m not at a point yet, where I am able to make two different meals so that mine can be healthier.  I will continue to work on that!

Well, tomorrow it’s back to another new video. I look forward to trying it as well as the others. I have to admit that’s one thing I like about the Thrive90 program is that there are several different videos to do during the week. These videos will be the same for four weeks, then there will be a new set of videos for four more weeks, and another new set of videos for the last four weeks. I am told that they get more challenging with each new set, which helps with boredom, strength training, and plateauing.

Thanks for reading this journey with me!

Thrive90 – Day Two

Well today I actually had to exercise – the kids even did it with me. It’s good for them to see their mother doing this and to take part.

Why am I doing this again? Oh, that’s right, for my health (and I wouldn’t mind some clothes other than sweats and Ts).

I had to do a workout called Core Blast. I was happy that I could do a few of the exercises for the full number of reps or the full time. However, there were a few that kicked my you-know-what! Either I couldn’t complete the suggested number of reps or I couldn’t hold the position for the suggested amount of time. But since I am scheduled to do this workout a total of four times, I am hoping that will change. Wow, was I tired at the end.

Here’s what I liked about it:

  • there was a variety of exercises,
  • there was a combination of exercises and stretches,
  • to complement the video, there was a ‘worksheet’ that told me the exercises in the order completed; and provided room for me to make notes & record the amount of time I held a particular pose –  a way to measure my progress over the four weeks,
  • I felt like I got a total body workout (especially the legs after yesterday’s 30 minute walk),
  • there was enjoyable music playing in the background; it wasn’t too loud or obnoxious,
  • it showed a husband and wife team working out together,
  • it showed a couple of possible modifications to assist beginners (like me!),
  • Tony D. (the instructor) sometimes turned to show the correct form of a stretch or exercise,
  • the fact that it was on the computer, I could easily hit the pause button if I needed to make adjustments or get a sip of water.

There was really only one thing I didn’t like (not counting the physical pain :>). Since this was downloaded to my computer and I do not have a compatible TV, it was difficult to find a height that worked for the standing up exercises as well as the floor exercises. I actually had to move the laptop from the table to the floor, and back again, in order to see everything well. But it really wasn’t that much of an inconvenience.

My diet has actually improved over the last two days and I really hope I can continue that trend as well. I know how important it is to change eating habits when you’re trying to lose weight and/or improve health. I have a love affair with all things chocolate – Coconut M & Ms, Hershey’s Kisses, ice cream, cookies, fudge, etc. And I have made a deal with myself that I will cut it down, but not eliminate it. Now I realize that this may slow my weight loss a little, but I also know that if I completely deprive myself of this indulgence (which has admittedly gotten out of control), I will not succeed at all.

So yesterday and today, I ate more sensible meals than I have in recent past. I even made this:

It actually has more green in it than any other color – I was proud of myself. And you know what? It was delicious! I also made myself (and Diva) a strawberry-banana smoothie for breakfast today. Now, like I said, I have a chocolate addiction, so I did have a little each day, but the amount was tiny in comparison to what I was eating. I limited myself to about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of low-fat ice cream. And I stopped. I enjoyed the little taste I allowed myself and didn’t feel like I needed to have more. Yay!

Now I don’t know if I will post about every day of this Thrive90 program, but I’m going to try to post about each new element and any progress that I have made. I’m truly hoping that I see some results, even if they’re small, relatively quickly; as they will be powerful motivators to continue.

Wanna join me?

Thrive90 – Day One

As I mentioned here and here my health is not at its best right now. Over the last week I’ve been thinking, and praying, about the possibility of surgery. I keep thinking about the fact that this surgery would remove two (one at a time) parts of my body that God gave me when I was being formed in my mother’s womb; and I’m not sure I want to do that. It’s not like they can be put back if I change my mind. Not to mention that I had already done that once. A couple of days ago was the second anniversary of my hysterectomy.

I still have mixed feelings about that surgery. On one hand, I no longer spend days on the couch, clutching my abdomen; but on the other hand I regret that I can no longer have children. I don’t want that regret again.

As I was praying and talking about the possibilities, an option presented itself. It had been suggested that I could eliminate some, if not all, of my symptoms through exercise. I objected because my symptoms began when I was at my lowest weight. Admittedly I have gained a bit of weight since the hysterectomy, and I am not happy about it. That, combined with some of the online research I did, made me want to try to lose some of the weight.

There was an email in my inbox about a webinar for an exercise program called Thrive90. After watching the webinar, I felt like this was something I could do, and be successful at doing. It’s a program from a website called Fit Marriage and it looked like something that would accomplish more than just weight loss, increased energy, and better health.

Today was the first day. As you may have guessed Thrive90 lasts for 90 days, and you’ve got to start on Day One. With the program came several videos that I can stream or download, a calendar that plans out my workouts, a fit test, and an article on goals & motivation. There’s more, but that’s what I want to focus on.

Today I was supposed to take those dreaded ‘before’ photos (who knows, maybe I’ll be brave enough to post them once I don’t look like this anymore!), take the fit test, and do some measurements. Then I had to do 30 minutes of something cardio-related. Ugh! Those numbers were depressing! But I do the fit test after each four week cycle and can track my progress. And I even did my cardio – the kids and I took a brisk walk for 30 minutes. It was hard for me, but I did it and I really felt good about it.

Tomorrow I get to try my first workout video. I’m a little bit nervous and a little bit excited. It is my goal to report on my progress as I take this journey. Hopefully I will have some small success to report soon.

What about you? Are you working on improving your health and/or getting fit? How are you doing it?

* Disclaimer: I am trying to bring in a little extra income to help my family, so the links to Fit Marriage and Thrive90 are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a commission. Other than that, I have received no compensation for this post. I paid for the program and the opinions, and results, are ~ and will be ~ all mine.

Tough Decisions

Like I said in this post, I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome on both sides of my body. You can learn more about it here, here, or here. Even with all this information (and there’s a ton more out there), I find myself very conflicted.

Or, maybe because of it.

I have had two thoracic surgeons examine me and perform tests; they both came to the same conclusion: this is a debilitating disease that will only get worse if I don’t address it via surgery. I have been through physical therapy with no improvement. I have taken pain meds which only last a little while, if they work at all. I have been at a healthy weight (when the symptoms first appeared) and at a “less than” healthy weight.

My symptoms are getting more and more difficult to tolerate. I wake up daily with pain in both shoulders and numbness or tingling all the way down to my fingertips. I have difficulty ~ pain, heaviness, fatigue ~ in every day things like brushing my hair, shampooing, dressing, baking. I go numb when I type (I have taken several breaks while typing this post) and when I drive. Sleep is difficult as I cannot get comfortable, or I go numb when lying on my side. These symptoms are not easy to ignore; and they are getting progressively worse. I am actually starting to drop things.

So here’s my dilemma: The docs both say surgery is the only way to alleviate the symptoms; they say I’ll recover quickly and feel much better, returning to normal activities within a few days. Though some say I’ll create more problems than I will solve with this surgery.  I want to make sure that it is a decision I can live with – literally. It’s not like they can put my ribs back in once they take them out.

Lord Jesus, send your Holy Spirit to guide my decisions. Help me to do what is right for my body and my children.

First Days

I’ve heard it said often enough, “This is the first day of the rest of my life.” This phrase usually implies that there has been a change in the person’s life, either for the better or the worse.

Well, I said that phrase yesterday and it was because something ‘worse’ had happened and it looked like it was on its way to becoming the ‘better.’

This has surely been one crazy month. There have been continued medical issues, like I posted about here.

But that’s not the worst of it… You see, something happened this month that turned my life upside down. It made me question so many things. It was devastating. Add the fact that there were others involved and you have multiplied pain. As in all things, God gives us free will; and with that free will comes the opportunity to make choices. I had the opportunity to choose to hold onto anger and to let bitterness fester or to let go of the anger and begin the the process of forgiveness.

I have chosen to begin the process of healing, forgiveness and learning to trust again. But it’s not easy. There’s one person involved in this situation who expects to be trusted immediately, just because they have promised not to do it again. I believe that trust is one of those things that can be switched off in an instant, but it cannot be switched on in the same way. I believe trust must be be earned. Now, that’s not to say that the person who committed the sin is to be untrusted for a specific amount of time, or a certain number of days without incident; but it still must be earned.

The person who sinned against me should want to do everything possible to earn my trust back, if truly sorry. Questions should be expected. Doubt should be a given. This is not a punishment – I don’t really want to punish anyone. Though I did want to punish everyone involved at first.

Then I had one of those “ah-ha” moments. Like I said, I wanted everyone to suffer at first. But something strange happened. I was driving Diva home from the hospital (she’s fine, just a doctor’s appointment), and mulling all this over in my mind, when a song came over the radio. I didn’t really focus on the verses, but the chorus stood out, “Hold on just a little bit longer. He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger. The pain ain’t gonna last forever. And things can only get better.” (from Stronger  by Mandisa)

I felt at peace. I no longer wanted everyone to suffer as I had; and I just knew that everything would work together for God’s glory. God’s Holy Spirit just filled me – it was amazing.

I will continue to pray and continue to walk the path of forgiveness. I know it’s going to take some time, but I also know that God has blessed me with His Holy Spirit to walk with me, to help me, and to lead me.

It’s the first day of the rest of my life…

COURAGEOUS: Honor Begins At Home

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)

Recently I was privileged to participate in an advanced screening of Courageous ~ the latest movie from Sherwood Pictures. You will remember Sherwood from their life-changing movie a couple of years ago called Fireproof.  And after what I saw in Courageous, I think God is using another movie to deliver a powerful punch.

In Fireproof, Stephen and Alex Kendrick reminded us that marriage is a covenant. In Courageous, they remind us of the importance of fatherhood. Courageous does deliver a powerful punch and more. It’s convicting (smacks hand to forehead ~ that’s the word I was searching for when I was filling out the comment card after the movie!). Like Fireproof, it makes you think. But the real question is, how will it make you act?

Some might ask why we need a movie on this topic. Don’t fathers know how important they are? Don’t mothers know how important a father is to her children’s lives? Of course, children know how important fathers are, right? Apparently not.

The Bible tells us that God created a man and a woman and told them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). The man wasn’t told to plant his seed and the woman would take care of the rest. God created a family – with a mother and a father. God placed the father at the head of the family (1 Cor. 11:3; Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:25-29). He is there to lead, to guard, to guide, and to protect. The father has a vital role in the success of a family.

Now back to Courageous… the Kendrick brothers introduce us to four police officers and we hear about their experiences with fatherhood; whether it was as fathers themselves or their relationships with their own fathers. They did a good job depicting families that exist today – families with two parents, a divorced family and a single man. One of them grew up without a father, but had a father-figure as a mentor. One is a so-so father, another is a good father, and still another is just a weekend father. We see how their individual situations have shaped their views of fatherhood. We also see varying degrees of faith, and journeys toward developing deeper faith. A little later in the movie, we are introduced to another father who really brings a lot to the story.

The major themes running through the movie are that honor does indeed begin at home and that every home needs a father. Courageous hits us hard, right out of the gate. This movie is not a chick-flick (but ladies, you may want to have a tissue or two…). But, like one of the other attendees at the screening said, of the four movies Sherwood has done, this one outdoes them all in terms of acting, action, cinematography, message, and story.

Throughout the movie we see situations that many families face on a regular basis – busy schedules, feelings of inadequacy, fear, a need to forgive, anger, and more. More importantly, we see how to handle some and not to handle others. When tragedy strikes one of the fathers, it sends him on a journey to discover what God says about fatherhood, and he eventually confronts his own mistakes as a dad.

While you may think that this alone is enough for one movie, Sherwood Pictures takes it a couple steps further. After discovering what God wants a father’s role to be, the other men want in. They put it into practice and vow to hold each other accountable. Now here’s where you expect the typical Hollywood ‘happy ending’ – so not the case in this movie. There’s more excitement to come when one of the fathers truly needs to be held accountable for his actions.

This is a movie where there is no typical Hollywood ending; but there is resolution. Each man in this story is taken on a journey; and each has a different path with a different ending. The solidifying factor is that they all commit to the journey, all are held accountable, and all find the true meaning of fatherhood.

Be prepared for a couple of amazing ‘Daddy-Daughter’ scenes – they will tug at your heart and leave a lasting impression. But also be prepared for some intense moments – remember that the main characters are police officers.

The movie initially received a rating of PG-13, but that rating has been surrendered, leaving the movie currently unrated. The initial rating was for some violence, as well as gang and drug references. These things are certainly understandable in a movie dealing with officers of the law. One thing I noted, and appreciated, was that some of the necessary violence was implied and not directly on camera. For instance, in one scene you see the police officer tackle the ‘bad guy’ on the ground. When he loses the advantage, you see the ‘bad guy’ throwing punches but you don’t see where they land. The cuts, bruises, and blood are mostly left up to your imagination. This is especially helpful in one of the defining moments of the movie. That being said, parents need to be aware that there is some violence; and there are scenes involving drugs and gang activity.

The emotions I experienced during this viewing were many. To quote Larry the Cucumber, “I laughed. I cried. It moved me.” But that does over-simplify things a bit. Alex and Stephen Kendrick have a God-given talent for being able to insert humor at just the right moment; and at just the right level.

Thank you Alex & Stephen Kendrick, Sherwood Baptist Church, the City of Albany, and the many people involved in making this film. I believe it will change many families. Most importantly, thanks be to God for the inspiration, talents, and abilities of these men and women.

Now, Don’t Let Go of the Wheel   —   See. The. Movie! September 30th, 2011. Buy tickets, buy a show time – do it opening weekend. Show Hollywood what types of movies really matter! For more information, visit Courageous online.

NOTE: I know there are some fatherless homes that can’t change the way they are right now for a reason. I have been there, and I understand. This is a movie review and not a judgment. However, there are some families in this position that can change, and should. See the movie. Pray about it.

One of my favorite quotes from the movie

… seek the Lord, even if it means you’re standing alone.

WHERE ARE YOU MEN OF COURAGE?

* Images provided by Courageousthemovie.com

Lessons in the Kitchen

We homeschool. That doesn’t mean that we have just moved a classroom into our home. It means we learn at home. And there are many additional important lessons that can be learned while at home. Don’t get me wrong, we still learn the required subjects, it’s just that we can also learn by living our daily lives.

Today we have new neighbors moving in across the yard. They are moving into a house that is owned by the same landlord who owns ours, so we had a little notice about the move. I wanted to take the opportunity to teach my daughter a few things about hospitality and generosity.

Yesterday we got out our paper and rubber stamps and made welcome cards. We had fun creating together, learning that bringing a smile to someone else is fun.

Today, I decided that we should make some brownies to take over with our cards. but then I remembered something else. I have been couponing for about a year now, and one of the things I learned when I first got started was to always give back (thanks, Claire!). I also remembered what it was like for the first week or so when we moved in – difficult to find everything necessary to put a meal together. So, I combined the two ideas and decided to create a ‘meal basket.’

Diva and I got together and made some brownies. We doubled the recipe so the kids could have some later too, so I took the opportunity to reinforce some math as well. Since she is working on fractions, I asked her how much flour I would need if one recipe called for 2/3 c, then I told her that I had already added 1 c of flour and asked how much more I needed. It was fun, and I let her lick the spatula at the end!

While the brownies were baking, we made some biscuits – I forgot to take a picture of that – oops! Then we took the bottom of a cardboard box and covered it with tissue paper. We inserted two square paper plates for the bottom and began to fill it. We added spaghetti sauce, pasta, biscuits, some peach jam I made last summer, the brownies, and the cards.

While it certainly isn’t everything they’ll need, it is a good start to a home-cooked meal. I am so grateful to God for these little opportunities to model true Christian behavior to my daughter. I hope and pray that these lessons don’t get lost over time. I pray that she will fondly remember spending time in the kitchen with Mama, practicing fractions, learning baking skills, and loving thy neighbor.

Now if I can just contain her excitement as she continues to look out the window eagerly anticipating her new friend’s arrival – you see we found out they have a little girl just about her age…

This post is being linked to Titus 2sday over at Time-Warp Wife

Trust and Faith

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.Mother Teresa

I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Raynauds’, and Scoliosis. Now my eye doctor thinks I may have the beginnings of Glaucoma. I am in my early forties. I was diagnosed with the scoliosis around the age of 12, so it and I have been together for a while. While I never had to have surgery for it, I did have to wear a fiberglass brace underneath my clothes – not a good look for the teenager who does not want to look pregnant! If it weren’t for the scoliosis, the doctors told me, I’d be about 2″ taller than my nearly 6′ tall frame already is. As a result I have always had lower back pain and one leg longer than the other.

At the time, these things scared me. While my family was very active in our faith, I don’t recall leaning on God to get me through my teen years. Though He was most certainly there.

Until about a year ago I had never heard of Raynauds’ or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It was only though visits with doctors concerning my endometriosis – for which I ended up needing a hysterectomy – that we discovered these two mysteries.

The first mystery was the Raynaud’s. Apparently, there are two versions of this and I have the milder of the two. Basically, a few of my extremities are extremely sensitive to temperature changes; cold especially. My mother always used to say, “Cold hands, warm heart” in reference to me and my hands. I never thought much about it; until the diagnosis. What cinched this little discovery was that my toes were a delightful shade of purple – or was that blue? Now, I wear lots of warm socks, slippers or shoes in the house (at all times), and I take a baby aspirin every day. While in the house, I have made a couple of other adjustments; such as, not stepping on the bathroom floor without something on my feet. I also make sure the shower is warm before I plant those tootsies on the basin. For the time being this works…

The second mystery was one I had struggled with for a long while, but had yet to realize that it was a problem. You see, my right arm would go numb while sleeping, driving, using the computer, etc. After a couple of years of this and many appointments, specialists, and tests, I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The first mistake I made was to look it up on Wikipedia. It listed a few people who had died as a result of this condition; people who were in much better shape than I am. All that did was make me depressed and scared. New game plan…

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome? In a nutshell, the space between my clavicle and my 1st rib is too narrow. The major artery, vein, and nerve become compressed; causing numbness, tingling, swelling, pain, and loss of fine motor skills. I am starting to drop things and it’s really getting annoying :>

My surgeon, yes that’s how doctors ultimately deal with this condition, said I was a surgical candidate for the right side. I have it on the left side as well, but it’s not at the stage of surgery just yet. She offered me an alternative of physical therapy – which I took. But I’ve learned that this is only a delay; kinda like a band-aid.

Most recently, my legs have begun to get this numbness and tingling, without explanation. In the past week, I have had a vascular test and an MRI – both negative/normal; which is both good and bad. Good for the obvious reasons; but bad because we still have no idea what’s happening.

In the middle of all this, I decided to go get a new pair of glasses. I haven’t worn glasses in about ten years, so I thought it was time to get back with the program. Little did I know, God had something else in store for me. This is where the Glaucoma comes in. The doc’s not positive yet, but he’s seeing the indications. Not what I wanted or expected to hear. I mean I just wanted to update my prescription and get a new pair of glasses.

As you can see, my plate is full – Scoliosis, Raynaud’s, Thoracic Outlet, Unexplained Numbness, and possibly, Glaucoma. I have at least two surgeries in my near future. By all earthly standards, I have reason to be scared, even a little mad. What about a little self-pity? And, as a human, I do experience these feelings. However, I choose to look at this differently…

I choose to give this plate to God; to place it at the foot of the Cross. I choose to ask for help with healing, if it is His will for me. I choose to have faith; and trust that God will use all of this for His greater purpose. It all reminds me of a song I’ve sung in church, based on Psalm 91, called “Eagle’s Wings”

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,

Bear you on the breath of dawn,

Make you to shine like the sun,

And hold you in the palm of His hands.

I want Him to hold me in the palm of His hands. I can’t handle all this alone. But, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians).

I’m sure I’ve broken some kind of blogging rule for the length of a blog post. I am sorry this got kind of long. But this is something I’ve had on my heart and mind for the last couple of days.

Would you mind saying a prayer that I am able to maintain these choices? That I am able to leave this full plate at the feet of Jesus?

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