#NewYearNewYou: 6 Reasons that Resolutions are Good.

This hashtag #NewYearNewYou has been floating around the interwebs.  I see it and giggle.  I think about all the new people in the gym with their new gym clothes during January or about the new calendars and journals that people are carrying around. 

So many people make resolutions every year.  I being one of them.  For many years it was “This year, I will lose weight, I will be healthier.”  Or even, “this is the year, that I will go on at least 1 date.”  (That did happen….maybe not in the best way, but I met that goal!)

It is 18 days into the new year, and some people may have abandoned their resolutions, or they have failed already. Goodness knows I have been guilty of that many times.  Perhaps like me, you might have already missed a day or two on the read the bible in a year plan!

Instead of writing about my own resolutions, because they are very idealistic and a tad repetitive. Let’s talk about why making resolutions is actually a good thing.  Because really it is important to draw a line in the sand and say, “No more, I resolve to change.”  



Many people abandon the idea of making resolutions because they want to go against the grain, but resolutions have merit. Here is my take: 

1. Resolutions require reflection.

As a teacher, especially English teacher, I reflect daily.  I reflect on my own teaching, on what the students are learning, what I am learning.  I am naturally a very self reflective person, sometimes to a fault.  Sometimes, I fall down the rabbit hole of overthinking.

However, reflection is so vital for our living.  It requires us to look back and examine what we have done well, what we could do better, maybe areas in our lives that we need help, maybe an area that we over look. 

For example, if we didn’t ever reflect on our relationships, we could spend a lot of time thinking we are treating our friends well and not be.  It is easy to ignore things and become complacent.

2. Resolutions require commitment.

My generation doesn’t like commitment, we don’t like to be tied down.  We are not our parents, we like the freedom of being able to move out of a house and find another.  We like being able to travel, we like a flexible lifestyle.  Or maybe this is just me.

When we make a resolution we are saying that we are making a commitment to something.  This sort of small practice of making commitments is good for us.  If we can commit to not drinking soda for 3 months, maybe we can commit to a job for a least a year.  Those small steps are good things.

Don’t get me wrong, making commitment in relationships is definitely different from giving up soda, but it is a small step towards the ideas of making commitments. (Perhaps it is the same practice as those who buy a pet before committing to the idea of having kids??)

3. Resolutions require actions.

For many years in my life, I was very passive about my physical health. I let life pass me by.  When I began to take my health seriously, I had to take action in buying the right sort of foods, actually going to the gym and not just talking about it. (I write more about that here!)

Resolutions, most of the time mean that we are responsible to do something or not do something.  That is an action, when we take that sort of action, other things in our lives change as a result.

When we sit back and let life happen to us, often we are unhappy with the result, angry and bitter and just whine a lot.  However, one of the greatest thing about being human is that we have the power to take action in some way.  

4. Resolutions require and result in mental strength

Something I learned as a beginning runner is that my body is more capable of what I ever thought it was.  My trainer constantly was pushing me past what I thought my limits were.  Even as I ran my 1st mile without stopping I realized that what wasn’t possible for me several months earlier was possible.  I just had to get mental stronger to get there. 

Many people say, “Oh, I don’t think I could ever do that.”  or “I definitely don’t have the self-control for that.”  Which is frustrating because they do, they actually just don’t have the desire or the drive to get there.  But when we make resolutions, we start to begin to build that mental strength required for bigger things.

This translates to other things, hard jobs, difficult relationships, struggles in life. We have to have the mental ability to push through the mental roadblocks and keep going, because we don’t know our own strength.

Ultimately, I was able to run a half-marathon. It meant that a lot of times when I thought I would have to stop, the mental strength carried me through.  That ability to say, “Nope, gotta keep going.”

5. Resolutions ultimately mean that it is possible to change.

When you are stuck in a rut, you need to know there is hope for change.  When we are stuck in hard situations, we need to know that it is possible for things to be different.  We need hope. 

If we believe what the bible says we know that God ultimately gives us a picture of why resolutions can be significant.  He didn’t leave us in our sin, he provided a way to freedom.

He provided a hope and an answer.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”(2 Cor. 5:17  ESV)

Even in the old testament God promised not to leave us as we were: 

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)

Every day I thank God that he hasn’t given up on me.  Thank goodness that God isn’t finished with us yet! Thank goodness he hasn’t left us here, but is continually working to transform our hearts and minds.  

Friends, let us look to Him to ultimately make a change in our hearts, because we are not without hope.

What resolutions have you made?  Have you given up yet?  What stops you from continuing?  Where have you given up hope?

photo credit: miss604 via photopin cc

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Committment

You can probably tell from the lack of blogging, my year has been a busy one.  (To say the least!)

From writing new curriculum, to traveling to Australia, to venturing into unknown relationship territory, and finally being a student as well as having students, I have had quite a year.  I love that summer allows me a time of reflection and rest.  God usually uses this time to do great things in my life!

And so…every year on June 12th, I will always celebrate something significant. (Every year I have something more to celebrate! This year it was a half marathon and surviving one year of Grad school!)

Three years ago today, I met someone who asked me a question.

She asked me: “On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you?”

At the time this question related to weight loss and was skeptical that it was at all possible to change my life or body in anyway.

That first time I said, “A 6 maybe.” Like I said, I was skeptical.  By the end of that first summer, I was definitely at a 9-10.

Now, I ask myself that same question…….but about other things, healthy lifestyle, friendship, community, my job, grad school, and even Jesus.   I might talk like being committed and am passionately animated. However, a lot of the time there is a huge gap between what I say and how I live. 

This year has been one of ups and downs, things throwing me off, things and people distracting me from my commitment.

But that is life…. isn’t it?

There are a lot of things, people, activities, events that will attempt to throw you off course. I am sure a famous person somewhere said that it isn’t how the lack of adversity in life that shows you are successful, but what you do when you encounter it.

I say that in the face of adversity, you are only as successful as you are committed.  So I am asking myself this question…..”On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you? How badly do you want this, desire it, and are willing to work for it?”

I can’t say I have completely answered this question for every area I listed, but this is a starting point for reflection.

How about you?  What are the areas that you need to start asking yourself these questions?  On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you?

Small Wins

I frequently read the Biggest Loser Olivia and Hannah’s blog and recently they talked about the Bad Days.  …..the days that we fall back into old habits
…..the days that we are discouraged
…..the days when all we want to eat is…well everything we see. 

In this video, Olivia mentions something that was something I never though to do.  Make a list of all the things you did right.  If you are like me and get to the end of the day and can only think about all the ways that you didn’t meet your own expectations or others for you, this could change your life.

So instead of making a list of all the ways I have failed….I am going to make a list of the things I did right…the small wins!

Here are 3 ways that this idea has begun to change my year: 

1. My job: As a teacher of 12-13 year olds, I constantly feel like I am losing the battle to win their attention, their focus, and any ounce of academic success for them.  I feel like I have been losing the battle for the past couple of months.  

Thursday as I drove away from school, I wept because I felt that I had let down my students by harboring frustrations from hour to hour.  My impatience grew when they didn’t understand something I thought I had explained clearly and the apathy they showed to this assignment I was excited about, drove me crazy!!

Today, could have been about the same, but I am choosing to celebrate the small wins.  The little things that went right today.
– I didn’t have to write a detention or referrals today.
– The student who didn’t do anything yesterday in class, completed his assignment today with little prompting.
– We had library day, which meant that they worked on a fun activity.
– I got all my grades updated.
– I make Certificates of Awesome for the kids who did great first semester!
– Created a rubric for in class debates on Monday.
– Our newest ELL student who doesn’t speak any English seemed to make some friends.
– I found out that I would look really cute in hipster glasses. (All the girls at least thought so!)
– My 7th hour were very concerned with whether I was having a good day today.
– I had fun!!

2. Mental/Physically: Over the past 3 months, I have gained about 10 lbs back from where I was.  Big picture, this is not that big of a deal.  However, I was so close to my goal weight and I got off track after I ran my 3rd Half marathon this fall.  As I try to get back on track with eating well, (Let’s be honest, that is the hardest part of losing weight and I am a stress eater!)  thinking about the small wins of the day helps me be more positive about my progress. 

So this week instead of thinking about the gummy worms that I ate on Monday night, I want to think about my small wins!
– I worked out 5 days this week.
– I ran outside on Wednesday!
– Resisted the 2 offers of doughtnuts on Thursday (This was the stressful day!)
– Instead of getting Chipotle with friends on Friday night, I made an omelet! (Saved me money too!)
– Had salads 2 days for lunch this week!
– I didn’t eat anything after dinner 4 times this week.
– Resisted buying snacky foods that keep me munching!
– No cookies or chips for me during a meeting today at church! (It wouldn’t have been worth it.)
– Got up early this morning and ran with a friend. (Big win since I usually like to run by myself!)

3. 2012 Reflections: Don’t get me wrong 2012 was a great year and ended with a fantastic trip Down Under, but I started thinking about all the things that didn’t happen instead of all the things that did. 

So here are some good things that happened in 2012!

– Made a lot of new friends!
– Ran 2 Half Marathons
– Traveled to Denver to visit one of my favorite people in the world.
– Took 7 hours of Grad classes
Survived year 3 of teaching.
– Made it very close to my goal weight!
– Put myself out there and went on a few dates! (Didn’t turn out too well, but it was a good first step!)
– Stepped into a different role at church
– Said yes to a lot of things! (Color Run, going to Concerts, going to Australia!)
– Traveled halfway around the world to AUSTRALIA!
– Took on a lot of new things for my job and personally.

See I would say that 2012 was a great year.  I easily discredit it because not everything I wanted to happen happened….but whose to say that God doesn’t want to spread out the good things.

Ultimately, making a list like this brings to light the fact that as much as a fail, God is so abundantly gracious to me and does not leave me alone in that failure.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In what areas would it be helpful to make a list of your small wins?  What are some ways that you can practice grace to yourself or others around you?

Proactive vs. Reactive

Maybe you were or are like me, you spent a lot of time reacting to what was being thrown at you, being drug along the train of life trying to catch up or even watching the train fly by longing for a hand to reach out and pull you up.  Its a rough metaphor, but you get the picture.  I made a choice 2 years ago to join a gym, and made a choice to do something different then I was doing before.

Recently, I had an pretty important anniversary.  I forgot to post about it, but I still wanted to share what sort of difference 2 years can make.

Here are a few pictures to show the difference:

Before and After

My first day of teaching! (3 years ago!)
A year ago in Mexico!
My sister and I after my 2nd Half Marathon                                

Recently.                    

Last year I wrote a long post about some of the differences.  Even since last year, I feel like a different person.  

Recognizing 2 years ago, that I needed to make change and I had a problem has forced me to be more proactive with my life rather than reactive. 

Losing weight was like opening a door to realizing the other issues that I need to deal with.  If people ever claim that losing weight is just a physical thing, they probably have never had to.  It is much more emotional and spiritual than anything else. 

I don’t claim to everything under control nor am I perfect at living a healthy lifestyle.  I am continually making mistakes and learning new things.  More than anything, I am learning a lot about myself and being okay with being me, others’ approval or not. (‘Tis a post for another time.)

What I do want to share for anyone that was like me, stuck in a life that I didn’t want and thought impossible to break out of, it is possible.  For me it has been a slow journey, I have taken steps back, I have made bad choices, and given into temptation.  However, what doesn’t change is that I get up the next day and start over or start over the next meal.  It is all about making a choice to be proactive then reactive.


Change isn’t easy, but I don’t think it would be worth it if it was.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  The difficulty of it makes the pay off so much more valuable.

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes!

I neither claim ownership over this recipe or want credit for it’s awesomeness, because I got it from a friend over a month ago and I was really excited to try it eventually.

My roommate received a  food processor for her birthday. (I felt wrong using first, but I don’t think she would mind.) 

(It was also the present that prompted this comment from her teenage sister: “You know you have been single too long when you are receiving gifts that should be on a wedding registry.”) (Teenagers! I know!)


However, I want to share it because I loved it and at least one of the four people that were at my house last night liked it.   

(One said, “It doesn’t taste like a pancake but it’s good.”) 
(It’s okay she owes me for comments that I made about her cutting her hair into a pixy cut. “That’s risky” might have been one.)

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes
(I had to remember to take a picture because I knew I wanted to share the recipe!)
Ingredients:
4 Egg Whites
1/2 cup of quick oats
1 Banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking soda
Dash of milk (You might want to add a little more if you think the mixer is too thick.)
Directions: Mix all the ingredients together in a blender or a food processor.  Then I put about a 1/3 of a cup scoop into the pan.  It made about 5 servings.  
Here is the caloric breakdown for those that are interested.  If you make bigger ones, the calories might be different.
1/3 cup scoop- 80 Calories, Fat: 1.4 g Sodium: 254.6 mg  Potassium: 149.8 mg Carbs: 12g Fiber: 2.2g Sugars: 3.3g Protein: 5.4g

Munchie Mondays

This weekend, I struggled with the munchies. I don’t know about you, but when I am bored I tend to eat. I wish that I could say that I have lots of self-control, but I don’t. So my trainer and I worked through my food journal, and talked about what good things I could munch on.

(If you don’t have a food journal or some way to record what you eat, you should. There are tons online for free, I use one through my gym, but I am sure google could help with that.)

Angie, my wonderful trainer and I talked about my snacks, and we came to the conclusion that I wasn’t eating bad things but I need to make some small adjustments. Most of the time it is just making small adjustments to what you are doing that make the biggest difference. So, I thought I would share some of my snack ideas.

My morning snack:
Protein powder mixed with 8 oz of skim milk
Apple

Afternoon snack:
16 Quaker Quake Rice Snacks (My new discovery, very filling)
1/2 of Greek Yogurt (I get the Yoplait kind but there are other kinds that you might get cheaper.

Evening Snack:
Wheat thins
Laughing cow cheese

My new goal is to plan my meals out carefully and stick to them. However, as great as my goals sound, I have to remind myself why I make these goals and continue to make my up my mind that I want to change my thinking about snacking and food.

So what about you, what sort of small adjustments to you need to make to help you with whatever goal you are trying to make? What is going to help you be motivated to reach those goals?

Confession Time..

I have been avoiding posting this all day, because today I feel like somewhat of a failure. I went to a musical show last night with my roommate and her sister. And because my eating schedule is totally off, I ate lunch at like 4 in the afternoon. ( I know…can we say lazy!!)

We left the house at 6:15…I left with a banana. Yep, the show is like 2 hours long and didn’t start till 8. I should have been more prepared. I was really hungry by 7. And I gave in…..I bought some popcorn after sampling it from my roommate’s sister. (I am also a totally moocher, I don’t think the calories count if it is off somebody else plate.)

The bag of popcorn was kettle corn, it was addictive. And loaded with fat and sugar. It was a big bag….had to be a pound of at least. Yep, I ate 2/3 of it. And then I finally threw the rest away. I was almost sick with as much as I ate of it. I had the munchies and I was hungry….not a good combination. (And let’s not even talk about how overpriced it was either.)

I do this sometimes, I overeat something and I get really disappointed in myself, thinking that “I should know better than this after a year of changing my life.” I have extremely high expectations for myself, that when I fail, I tend to be really hard on myself. And perhaps that is why I was 24 years old and 255lbs. I would continually fail, and just figure there was no reason in starting over, I was already there. I was paralyzed into doing nothing about my mistakes or failures.

However…what I have learned in the last year is that tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow, I can try again with eating well. I can try to be self-controlled and diligent about what I put in my mouth.

As I think type this out and I think….wow….this translates in every area of my life right now. Spiritually, emotionally, professionally. I struggle with high expectations in every area and sometimes I have to allow myself to experience God’s grace that fills the gap when I mess up, and that I don’t have to continue to try to save myself. (Who do I think I am that I can do that anyways?) Professionally, when I have a horrible day when I feel like I didn’t teach them anything, I have to remember that the next day is a new day and who knows where those preteen’s emotions are going to be.

Am I alone in this thinking? Or do you also struggle with holding the previous days mistakes against yourself? So much so that it prevents you from changing or moving forward?