Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Hardest Part Pt. I - Never Waste a Crisis

I have been sitting on so many notes and have been reading and breathing and singing and sleeping and dreaming everything I can that involves anything to do with God to survive everyday. I have surprised myself in my strength but I should have known that I would be able to do it when I gave myself entirely to God.

After my divorce was final, getting that final paper was expected but not any less painful.

Then came Thanksgiving and now the Christmas season. The first batch of holidays I'll be without my husband, sorry, ex-husband (still hard to say) in 8 years. I am still heartbroken. . .

The Hardest Part is the title of this series because acceptance and moving on is hardest when you look at the fact that a man you planned to spend the rest of your life with, a man who you once thought you could never live a day without seeing, feeling, hearing, kissing, seeing. . . a man who was your husband, who is now a man turned stranger. . .

Typing those last few words still stings. I suppose it will sting for years. That right there is the hardest part in this divorce for me. My heart still loves him and my mind still misses him. But here is the good news. . . I am happy! Why, you ask? Because I have God. The only way to cope with my divorce, as with any crisis in life is to walk with God. I could sit here and give a testimonial about my faith journey and struggles through the years that led me to this point, but this series of posts will focus on how I am initially coping with being a divorcee.

God works in ways to make any message we hear apply to our lives and at my new church home, Cape Christian, here in Cape Coral, FL, we got done with a 3 week series that I used to gear my mind and my heart for the battle that lies ahead of me. A battle that is a blessing because of who I am becoming as I grow in my faith and relationship with Christ.

I took notes from this series and will share how I'm applying it to my divorce experience.

from Week 1 of Resilience: A study on the book of James (click the link to watch the series online for free! I recommend it!)

Never Waste a Crisis
This series started the day after I received the final dissolution of marriage paper so it couldn't had come at a better time in my life. I remember waking up that Sunday morning feeling so broken and hopeless. I remember crying on the way to church just begging God to hold me up. I also remember coming home and sharing these notes from that sermon to my mom, telling her how I was going to be alright and this was why:

In trials and tribulations, choose joy! not anger or bitterness
choose joy because of what it produces - perseverance and so that I won't be rattled in my faith

I know God is going to use the pains and struggles in my life to make me better. I choose to be joyful about that because I am excited about who I am going to become from it, what I will accomplish and who I might inspire in the process for me to become the best I can be for the God that I love. Anger and bitterness doesn't help me or build me up. In fact it would only keep me miserable. Yes, it is hard and yes, it hurts and yes, it gets lonely especially for the holidays without having someone to share it with, but I will be joyful because of the blessings I have all around me in this time of my life.

Ask God!
Believe and don't doubt
He gives generously
what are you trying to grow in me?
Something is broken in your life so that God can strengthen something else.

I also know that God is working in me. I feel it everyday and I see it in the proof of the blessings I have that help make me into the new person I am becoming. Here I am, a personal trainer, I have a job doing what I love, I workout and love it, I have my family, my youth, my health, my pug, a beautiful best friend and sister in Christ, a church home, the will in my heart to want to serve, and a passion for life again. Something broke in my life so that God could strengthen me! It is a process and it is hard, very very hard, but I am happy. I am genuinely happy.

Is something breaking in your life so that there can be room for God to strengthen you somewhere else?  Ask for God's blessings, believe He is working, and choose joy!

Be sure to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook to find more on inspiration, faith and fitness!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Thankful

Clearly this blogging thing is something I'm having a hard time getting back into, however, as my life starts to establish more of a routine and I get settled, I know I'll be able to get back into this consistently  I have so many plans and so many things I wanna share with you all that I hope can inspire you!

At the encouragement of a dear friend, I decided I'll try to post everyday for a bit just to get used to the habit of blogging again. I truly miss it and I have a lot to share! So what better a day to post than Thanksgiving Day!

It is absolutely necessary that we count our blessings and remain thankful every single day of our lives but a lot of us end up making a habit of taking things for granted, I'm totally guilty of that! I guess I am thankful for Thanksgiving Day where we are all forced to stop and think about our blessings. I truly believe that even in our hardships or when we feel hopeless, that there is always something to be thankful for starting with the fact that Christ died for us. :-)

Throughout the day I will be posting things I am soooo grateful for through Instagram (@okie_melina), here are a few of those:

My family

My Faith

My baby

My home

I thought I'd also share something I wrote in my journal today when I did my bible study:

"Through my current trials in my divorce and heartbreak, God has brought so much good in my life that has left me in awe of Him like how can anyone say he doesn't exist? I have found comfort in being with my family and extended family that I didn't have before. I found an amazing church home that challenges me and allows me to grow. I have met a best friend (a sister in Christ) I have been praying for who has become my support and partner in going through this new growth in my faith. I found a job doing what I wanted to do that has good people to work with and a good company to back it, and to have found employment so quickly in this economy, just so many blessings that show me that I am meant to be here."

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  ~ Romans 5:3-4

Praise Him, that I can be thankful!

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving! :-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2-Week "Just Move" Challenge

When it comes to fitness the best way to keep up with a plan is to plan ahead for the pitfalls. With the holidays coming and family making tons of food or going out of town, it is easy to fall off your routine. Once that happens, it's even harder to get back on.

I am finding that now that I am a certified personal trainer, I stopped working out. It wasn't because I got the title but because of the timing of my life. I was able to make working out a part of my life on a daily basis without thinking about it for a whole year. I could have planned ahead for going out of town or for the holidays, but I didn't plan for divorce and moving and having to work to find employment and start up my dreams of running my own business.

I guess what I'm trying to show is that nobody is perfect. Not even someone who wants to make it a profession can be perfect with workouts. Are you struggling to keep up a routine or get back to a routine after falling off it like me? You aren't alone!

For me though, it isn't because I don't like it or don't have time or don't want to. It is because I got into a different routine that didn't include working out. Break one routine to get to another and you find yourself frustrated. However, I know that my routine of getting up, having a small breakfast, not eating all day, not exercising and then having a big dinner is only killing everything I worked hard for in the past year. I also know that it is dangerously close to gaining weight back.

So how do we bust our current bad habits to form the new good ones and make those a part of our routine? Well everyone responds differently to stimulus and change, but I'll share how I'm going to do it. It's the beginning of November! I should make this my month to get my routine back with or without a gym! I'm gonna call my strategy the "Just Move" Challenge!

Short cardio session boost (2 weeks) -
I'm going to (starting today) go for a 30 minute run everyday this week. I won't worry about weights, I won't worry about my diet, I'm just going to get my body back to moving. If I worry about anything else, I'm likely to stress about it. I do this for fun, so baby steps!
Next week (week 2) I'm going to alternate a 30 min run with a session each day. Again just moving and then adding challenge. Like I said before, I'm not going to worry about anything else but just to get the cardio done.

Bring back the weight (2 weeks) -
The metal kind that is! After the 2 weeks of getting moving, I'll get back to my alternating of working out the upper body and lower body with cardio workouts. I wrote about that plan when I reviewed a booty workout that I wanted to try. I'll spend the last two weeks of November making that part of my routine again. (Assuming I haven't been hired anywhere and get a gym membership by then) Either way, I'm doing the cardio, adding my weight training but not changing anything of my diet just yet. Like I said, I just don't want to stress. (Of course this doesn't mean I'm going to eat like a pig!) 

This will bring us into December! I'm hoping by then workout is a part of my routine again on a daily basis and then I'm going to hone down on dropping my new bad eating habits I developed after my separation from my husband. :-/

Anyone in the same boat as me needing to develop or get back into a routine? How 'bout try my "just move" strategy with me! In fact, I challenge you to join me ;-)

Be sure to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook and let me know if you plan to join in! Let's keep tabs on each other. :-)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fighting Off Fear

Will I be able to pay my loans, my car, my phone? Will I be healthy enough to make it during my time without health insurance? Will I get a job I enjoy and make enough money to stand on my own two feet and truly be independent? Will I ever find love that lasts? Will I be alone? Will I be able to really hear God and make the right decisions that bring Him glory?

There is nothing like going through a life changing event to make you feel overwhelmed in fears. But, even in our happy times, we fear that it is all too good to be true.

These are thoughts that rob us of joy and the ability to live in peace. We've all heard that. It is harder to live it. It is WAY harder to live it. But it is possible when you do one simple thing. Give it to God.

I remember watching a Joyce Meyer broadcast this week when she said how she wouldn't even go to her husband about anything if she wanted a different response because she knew he'd always say, "Cast your cares."

Cast your cares.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you ~ 1 Peter 5:7

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall ~ Psalm 55:22

I guess I can be in panic mode sometimes but I do trust that the lord is doing work on my behalf. I am currently on the job hunt but I am actually not nervous or worried because I know the right job that I'm supposed to have will be there.

I always struggled with letting go and letting God, it is a scary thing to let go and trust, but who better to do that with than God? I really don't have a choice right now than to wait and see what happens but I'm not going to be in angst over it! Lords knows getting over a broken heart is enough, I don't need anymore in my mind when God's got this! I choose to hold my head up high and cast my cares!

Now here is my challenge for you. Ask God right now to take your worries away. It's that simple, you ask and he takes them! Now BELIEVE that he's taking care of it. When any little worry comes to your mind, shoo it out by telling yourself, that God is taking care of it. Keep doing that even if you don't believe it, because you will find that you will believe it!

Be sure to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook to find more inspiration and fitness fun stuff!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Brain Dump

It seems that life is trying its hardest to keep me away from the things I love to do including blogging! I am in the midst of a struggle to get my life back on track and to be able to stand on my own two feet. I go day to day and it seems things keep happening unexpectedly to challenge me through the day. Right now time is ticking for when my divorce is final and I feel like I am in panic mode. However, while I am in panic, I am also at peace knowing that God is with me through this struggle. I feel good KNOWING that God will absolutely provide.

I have begun the process of starting my personal training business beginning with the business plan and registering my business name, (hopefully next week!) At the same time I have a applied to a handful of gyms in my area and I will just wait patiently for a phone call. I will not worry. I will simply wait.

I want to make blogging my regular thing again and I am constantly reminded how we all have gifts that we should use to serve others. I don't think I'm a New York Times Bestselling author (though I swear if I landed a Real Housewives gig I could out-write Teresa Guidice, am I right? LOL) I do know that I've always loved writing and blogging is my outlet.

I have been reading a great book, Living on the Edge by Chip Ingram, and just got done with a chapter that talked about authentic community and how it occurs first with the real you through authenticity and purity. "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." Romans 12:9

"For authentic community and genuine love to occur between two followers of Christ, we need to take off our masks. We need to stop projecting what we think others will like, and start being open and honest, and appropriately vulnerable." -Chip Ingram, Living on the Edge

I am thinking that I ended up reading that chapter today when I was also missing blogging at the same time to be a message from God to be open and get to blogging again! I am in a stage in my life that is crucial because I could easily fall, or I can grow and become the strongest person I ever could dream of becoming. I have no idea which will happen but I am striving for the latter. I have been in the midst of many struggles, emotional, physical, mental, etc. and I feel like I need to stop hiding that and just share it all. Maybe someone out there can be inspired!

When I went to a Joyce Meyer conference event in Tampa just last week, I remember her saying that if we want to do something big, start a ministry, or do something that makes a difference, that we need to start with ourselves. To live as close to Christ as possible because we need to strive to be ambassadors of Christ. That how we live and who we are might be the only evidence of Christ to someone who wants to know Him! That was huge for me to hear and knowing that we each carry such a responsibility to serve our God by serving each other, I really want to do my part! I think it begins with my writing in this blog for me...

I have been brainstorming a lot of article ideas I'd like to write for this blog. I am going to focus still on fitness and clean living, but at the moment I may have a lot more to say on the inspirational, mental health side of being STRONG. So be patient with me if I seem disorganized in my posting schedule for a while. I'm not gonna stress about it. I think I'll just share what is on my heart at a given moment. Though I do have a struggle with exercise now that I don't have a gym yet! So I'll be trying to get creative and share those experiences with those of you who also don't have a gym and have to workout at home. It can be done!

All in all, I feel loved and blessed and then I feel lonely and abandoned. I guess those are natural feelings of any divorcee. . .

I don't want to feel like a screw up with anything to hide so I am going to make myself blog more often! I hope you get something out of it!

So here are some topics I am working on:

  • Independence
  • Promises
  • Feeling Fake
  • Fighting off Fear
  • Living Day by Day
  • Trusting God
  • The Body Struggle
  • Being a Friend
  • Assumptions
  • Little Things
  • Working Out for a Feeling
  • Fighting the Bumps
  • One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
  • Feeling Worthy
  • Where is Home?
  • Signs in the Right Direction
  • Repeat it Until You Become It

There are lots more I can ramble about but I think by glancing over those topic ideas you can see an overview of all the things/feelings I am going through at this moment. My life feels like a roller coaster that I really want to get off of but it never stops. However, I am filled with so much hope and faith and that is what gets me through day by day. So there won't be regular schedule here for a while, it will probably be more of a brain dump! I also want to give tips or little challenges you can use to apply to your life. I hope anything I share helps you or makes you appreciate life better :-)

I just celebrated my 27th birthday! I ready to make this next year of my life a great one!
Like The STRONG Life on Facebook to keep up with new posts and to find more inspiration that I come across and share with you! Oh yeah, and now that I'm a certified personal trainer feel free to take advantage and ask me fitness related questions if you like! :-)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dancing and Tears

When life throws us curveballs and/or we make decisions that cost us dearly, we find that we have to be strong. I fight everyday to keep positive, to keep a smile on my face, to hold on to hope and the trust in my faith in God. So far it has been working because I haven't had a breakdown in a while when the weaker me would probably have a permanent swollen face without doing those things I mentioned. I do hope to inspire others to be strong when faced with a challenge in this tough but amazing life we have, but let's be honest, we cry anyway.

I believe that it is a cleansing process because being so strong all the time has the danger of suppressing that sad, pitiful part of us that we often reject for fear of suffering pain. In that attempt we end up hurting more because all of our parts need taking care of. (can you tell I've been in counseling for a while?) It is hard to learn how to take care of ourselves when we are struggling to get through the day, but at the same time, that is when we are called to be our strongest selves. It makes us better versions of ourselves. Can you imagine how a person would be if they had never suffered heartbreak or pain? I imagine that person wouldn't appreciate this life, they would be arrogant, and take those that love them for granted. This life is too short to be that way, so yeah pain is necessary for us to realize how truly blessed we are and to be thankful for those blessings in the midst of chaos.

Yesterday was a tough day for me, and on the thought of needing to cry, I definitely had a mini breakdown. Elevated heart rate, red splotchy nose and all that didn't last long because I couldn't hide out in the bathroom for much longer than the time it takes to poop. Of course, that moment of vulnerability inspired me to write this post to share how I deal with those moments that I know we have all been through for one reason or another. I spend most my days trying to be strong, keep a smile on my face, the whole fake-it-'till-you-make-it idea. This reminded me of a song that I kind of feel is me right now. There is a part of me that feels so broken and dead but another part of me that wants to keep dancing in this life. "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" as performed by Ke$ha reminds me of how I feel right now. I'm honestly excited and happy with the things I have planned for myself and my future and that is me dancing, but with tears in my eyes because of what it took to get me to this point. Anyways, I thought I'd share the lyrics of that song and please pardon how it is such a high school girl thing to do, ;-p
"Here I go, this is my confessional. . ."

Here we go, welcome to my funeral
Without you I don't even have a pulse
All alone it's dark and cold
With every move I die

Here I go, this is my confessional
A lost cause, nobody can save my soul
I am so delusional
With every move I die

I have destroyed our love, it's gone
Payback is sick, it's all my fault

I'm dancing with tears in my eyes
Just fighting to get through the night
I'm losing it
With every move I die

I'm fading, I'm broken inside
I've wasted the love of my life
I'm losing it
With every move I die

When did I become such a hypocrite?
Double life, lies that you caught me in
Trust me I'm paying for it
With every move I die

On the floor I'm just a zombie
Who I am is not who I wanna be
I'm such a tragedy
With every move I die

I have destroyed our love, it's gone
Payback is sick, it's all my fault

I'm dancing with tears in my eyes
Just fighting to get through the night
I'm losing it
With every move I die

I'm fading, I'm broken inside
I've wasted the love of my life
I'm losing it
With every move I die

This is it and now you're really gone this time
Never once thought I'd be in pieces left behind

I'm dancing with tears in my eyes
Just fighting to get through the night
I'm losing it
With every move I die

I'm fading, I'm broken inside
I've wasted the love of my life
I'm losing it
With every move I die

Tell me I'm not the only one who grasps at music to express emotion! Who am I kidding, I know for a fact we all do! So share a song you relate to right now, happy or sad or just plain fun. Share below in the comments or on The STRONG Life's Facebook Page.

P.S. I'm on a Cher Lloyd kick right now. Her album is great working out music! Or dancing music :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Thoughts To Our Destiny

It is beach day today! Yes I must apologize to those of you living north of South Florida but we are still warm here and I am loving it! It truly is a blessing that my parents moved down here when they did because had I been back in Oklahoma after my husband and I splitting, left to deal with the winter that always depresses me, I don't know if I would be able to stand it. Although, God has been doing a great job making me be able to stand it right now. It hasn't been the greatest of times lately, and yesterday I was feeling very blue but being at the beach will help. Anywhere where you can just be, sit in peace, close your eyes and feel lucky to be alive. . . now that is a little piece of heaven. :-)

Before moving down here I went to the library to check out a specific book, but on the way to that book another book caught my eye, I checked it out and it ended up being all the words I needed to hear. I swear that it was God making me grab that book so that through the words, He could speak to me to answer all my prayers, fears and cries to Him. That book was called Deal With It: You Cannot Conquer What You Will Not Confront by Paula White and I recommend it not only for the many passages and quotes you will want to write down (like I did) but also because she has a wonderful way of telling the stories of women in the Bible to apply the lessons to our own lives. I am hoping to buy it and own it but until I get a paycheck, the quotes I wrote in my journal will have to do.

I wanted to share this one today, I thought Sundays would be good for sharing inspirational quotes or scripture to start the week off with.

I dabbled a bit on positive thinking at the end of last week and this quote definitely shows why it is important to expel negativity from our minds:

I don't know about you but when I fight to keep my mind on the positive, that is when I find God speaking to me the most. I can't sit here and say that I don't ever get clouded with negative thoughts, it is something I struggle with, I'm sure we all do. But if you are conscious about a negative thought when it comes to you, confront it. Tell it that you will not keep it and then give it God. I find the more I confront my negative thoughts the more it becomes habit. I find my mind starting to recite positive quotes I remember or thinking, "It will be okay, it will be okay, it will be okay" Anything that wards off negativity, I find that it becomes habit. It is kind of funny because I am starting to feel my mind be split with the positive, strong part trying to reassure the negative, weary part.

Notice I say reassure and not suppress or get rid of. I believe all parts of us good or bad are who we are and we can't be ashamed of any part but rather embrace all those parts, take care of those parts and be at peace with those parts. So that negative nancy in your mind just needs to be reassured that you can do this! Why? Because through God, all things are possible!

If you haven't seen my 10-11-12 Challenge you should check it out and use it to jump start you mind on thinking about positive things. If you have a blog, I encourage you to write your own 10-11-12 post and share with me in the comments below or on The STRONG Life's Facebook Page.

How do you practice positive thinking?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What is Your 10-11-12?

The last two days were rough on me as I had to drive 8 hours to Pensacola, load up the rest of my belongings, sign divorce papers that felt more like stomping on my heart, say goodbye to a town I grew to love, and saddest of all, say goodbye to my husband. I got back to Cape Coral last night determined that today, being the first day of my new life, would need to be a good one.

Of course, I don't really pay attention to the dates since these days are all becoming a blur but now that I am making a promise to myself to be present in my life for now on, I just realized that today is 10-11-12! I was working on a post for tomorrow, but then I felt like I just had to come up with a fun post for today! Think of it as a Love Challenge for yourself. :-)

I'll call it 10 Things I'm Thankful For, 11 Things I Like About Myself, and 12 Things I Want to Accomplish This Year. I posted this morning on my Facebook Page about having positive thoughts so that you become a positive person, so here is a post putting that into practice. You should do it with me!

Okay, here goes:

10 Things I'm Thankful For

  1. My Pug
  2. My family living in Florida
  3. Warm weather in the Fall
  4. My health
  5. My youth
  6. The beach
  7. Knowing love
  8. The support of my family, a few close friends and an online community
  9. Finding a new church home so quickly
  10. Life lighting a fire under my butt to finally make my dreams happen!
11 Things I Like About Myself
  1. My faith
  2. My passion for learning
  3. My hair
  4. My ability to forgive easily
  5. My compassion for others
  6. My love for writing and fitness
  7. That I can fit my entire shoe collection in a small suitcase (I know, I'm a disgrace to women everywhere, but I'm actually proud to not have spent so much on things I really want but don't need. The shoes are a symbol of that ability)
  8. That I fully trust God more than ever and it feels good to not carry the burden of the unknown!
  9. That I don't have many friends. I have few friends that are true and loyal
  10. That I'm too nice. Maybe it's a flaw as well but I like it!
  11. My new belief in myself. I've battled insecurity for so long but my confidence is slowly building and I KNOW I can achieve anything I work for. :-)
12 Things I Want to Accomplish This Year
  1. Lose 5 more pounds
  2. Finally get my Personal Training Certification
  3. Work up to 3 mile runs again
  4. Get back in a blogging routine of at least 3 times a week
  5. Build my Facebook Page community to 100
  6. Save $2,000
  7. Start my business
  8. Be able to take over all payments of stuff on my own (loans, insurance, phone, etc)
  9. Buy a gym membership
  10. Recruit my first paying client
  11. Make a new friend in town
  12. Build up an at-home "gym" with all the simple equipment needed to train and teach clients to reach their goals

I think I could have gone on longer on each thing but it's good to get you mind on a positive mindset about yourself. So go ahead, I challenge you to share your 10-11-12! You can comment below, share on The STRONG Life's Facebook page. OR if you have a blog, do your own 10-11-12 post and share the link to it in the comments below so that I can read yours! 

Go ahead, what is your 10-11-12? :-)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Homemade Booty

I fought back and forth with whether or not to share about my divorce, however, I knew I had to share because I couldn't continue blogging the way I had before when my blog had a focus on marriage. I put it out there and the response I got warmed my heart so much! This week is a rough week (I'm going to be signing divorce paperwork for filing this week) and hearing your supportive words was exactly what I needed to get through my day. I am actually on the road back up to the Florida Panhandle to get the rest of my things and to sign the paperwork. It is going to be a miserable trip since my biggest fear is that this would be the last time I see my husband ever again. . . :-(

But, let's not dwell on sad things! Fitness makes me happy and fulfills me so much so I am so excited to be able to share anything I learn or find with you. :-)

If there is a fitness website I am obsessed with it most definitely is FitnessRX for Women! I learn so much about fitness and clean eating along with learning new exercises and strategies for working out. I used to have access to the base gym for free when I lived with my husband. Now that I live with my parents, I live in an active town with many gyms, but, alas, I have no money yet (working on that!) to pay for membership. I'm sad that I don't have the equipment anymore to build muscle, but that doesn't mean I can't still tone and shape my body! I know it is a common issue women have of getting to a gym  so I am excited to be forced to workout at home for a while and get creative with it.

So of course, I found this article from FitnessRX titled Strong & Shapely Glutes: The Ultimate Butt Lift Program and automatically wanted to use it since my lower half is my number one goal to whip into shape. (Follow the link to the article and they also have a chart of the exercises you can print out)

The workout can be done at home as it only calls for simple equipment:
Stability Ball
A Mat if you are working out on a hard floor
Jump Rope

I say simple but I know maybe not all of this equipment is in your home. I personally don't have a bench and I left my stability ball back at my husband's house so I had to modify a bit.

This is what I use:
8 pound and 15 pound dumbbells (I'd recommend 3lbs & 8lbs or 5lbs & 10lbs whatever you can handle at doing 10 reps where the last two are hard)
A stable chair

Come to find out that my mom just bought a stability ball, but I'm going to stick with a chair for now. I'll explain in a bit. You can find details of the exercises and their explanations in the article. I'll share below my version of the plan.
Monday: Lower Body & Cardio
Tuesday: Upper Body/Abs & Cardio
Wednesday: Cardio
Thursday: Upper Body/Abs & Cardio
Friday: Lower Body & Cardio
Saturday: Cardio
Sunday: Rest

Lower Body Exercises as listed with a few mods:
~ I use my 15 pound dumbbells for all the leg exercises
~ 1-Leg Squat done with a sturdy chair instead of a bench or box
~ Rope Skipping done without a jump rope, I just mock the motion of jumping and moving my arms
~ Step-Ups done on a sturdy chair instead of a bench or step
~ It says for intermediate and advanced to do the circuit 2-3 times. I would say I am in shape with the exception that I started this after 3 1/2 weeks off of training. Starting this week, I could only do it twice and was sore for days. So if you are new to exercise, I would recommend 1 circuit if you want to try this. It really is a challenging workout!
~ I am also adding to the circuit since I felt that the workout does a good job working the glutes, quads, inner thighs and calves, but my hamstrings felt left out. I'll be adding this: Dumbbell Deadlift 15 reps followed by High Knees (just cuz I like those!)

Upper Body Exercises as listed with a few mods:
~ Seated Dumbbell Press done with the heavier weight and the Shoulder Sunrise Rotations & Side Lateral Raises done with the lighter weight. I use 8 and 15 pounds but as I said before, use what you can do for 10 reps of the exercise.
~ I know that my core isn't as strong for me to do the stability ball knee-ins, thanks to my loathing of ab exercises and therefore hardly doing them! So instead I planked with my legs elevated on the chair (extra challenge for the shoulders), beginners can just plank on your hands and feet on floor, and then bring each knee up towards your shoulder for a good core and oblique workout. The trade off in the exercise doesn't necessarily work the exact muscles but it still strengthens the core and I have a primary focus on my obliques anyway.
~ I do V-Ups on the floor since my chair has a back and gets in the way.
~ It says 1-3 reps of each exercise, I'd definitely shoot for 3.
~ I did all 3 reps of an exercise with a 1 minute rest period before moving on to the next exercise doing the same.

Cardio is pretty much my own thing:
~ Cardio on Lower Body days is a moderate intensity, steady state jog around the neighborhood for about 30 minutes.
~ Cardio on Upper Body days is the interval training as laid out by FitnessRX in the plan for running but outside instead of a treadmill since I don't have one (and I hate the treadmill anyway).
~ For the days that are just Cardio, I'll either do a moderate intensity 30 minute jog or a workout depending on my mood or the weather.

Always know your limits and always listen to your body. Read the article for proper technique and be sure to ask me if you'd like a suggestion for an alternative exercise to one of the ones listed in the program or a modified version of an exercise to make it easier.

I plan to do this routine for the rest of October, maybe perhaps even through November with a different upper body/abs circuit. If you end up trying this workout, let me know what you thought of it! It's a toughie for sure!

Any programs you are doing this month? Do share because I love expanding my library of workouts to try out. :-) And be sure to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook to get more inspiration and fitness related findings that I only share on Facebook!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Starting Over

I'm just going to come right out and say it because it is my reality.

I am going through a divorce.

I do not want to lose my husband. I still love him and this has been a rough few months for the both of us. I do not believe in divorce but of course it takes two and I can't make anyone stay with me. Obviously I still pray we can work things out. There is so much to the story and it has been a struggle. It only got worse and finally reached a breaking point that has led me here. Typing a blog post alone in my bed with my pug in my parents' house in Cape Coral Florida, 8 hours away from where I used to live a life with my husband. . .

I carry a lot of guilt and shame right now. I could go into the history, the story, the issues and my current struggle but I'll save that for my close friends, family and therapist for now. I want this blog to focus on the positive and to be an outlet to move forward. Only looking at the moment that is now and having hope for what the future holds. Having faith in what God has in store for His greater plan. I'll share my journey as I start over. No job. No money. Just all the hope and faith in the world to fight and become an independent, selfless, STRONG woman!

How does that saying go? You don't know how strong you are until strong is all you have left to be. That is me right now and how fitting that now I find myself in a position to live up to the name and purpose of my blog (minus the marriage part now) where I have to live the STRONG life. My sister told me that she was so proud of me for being so strong through all of this change, but I can only credit God for that strength. I tell you what, I am CLINGING on to Him with ALL that I have right now because left to my own devices, I may just be sitting in a corner crying my day away with a few empty bottles of wine. I have hit rock bottom (thankful though, because I know it could be worse) so now I can only go up from here. I have my youth and my health and my family all around me. How blessed am I!

I plan on surviving and coming out a stronger person. Here is to serving God, living fit, and loving ourselves flaws and all!

Oh and if you are reading this, I'm going to ask that you please pray for me. I really need it. . .

God bless!
~ Melina

P.S. Obviously this means that The Wifely Life series is over and I will shift the Love Challenge series on loving ourselves and others selflessly. Oh and of course, I'll be a lot better with posting about training mean and eating clean! I'm working on a home workout review of a plan I started now that I have no gym to go to (until I get a job) See you soon!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

(DIY) Our Bar Project

This is the first post ever in my series titled DIY Projects! Any projects I work on for the home, for working out, on the blog or pretty much anything I decide to tackle hands-on will be found in this series. The first thing I thought I should feature is our own home bar! The hubs and I have no kids and we like to go out and have drinks with friends. However, our most fave place to go for drinks is home. It is cheaper and no one has to worry about getting home if they want to crash at our place. We have a great gazebo on our porch, a nice propane and charcoal grill with a smoker, a fire pit, beer pong table and no carpet to be concerned about. It is the perfect party home minus the fact that we don't have a bar! (We will grow up someday...)

So the hubs just built one out of extra wood he had left around and he promised it wouldn't be an eye sore! It is definitely a multi-stage project and we both have ideas with where the bar will go and how it will look. Once it is has all come together, I am thinking I might want to host monthly parties/gatherings for our friends and acquaintances. Maybe I'll actually throw that masquerade party I've always wanted to have for my birthday that is next month!

I'll be posting the bar's progress and any DIY projects we do related to the whole bar. Here is how it is looking so far:

Phase One: Get It Built
The hubs made it a bit tall for me but he assured me that we'd get bar stools so that it needed to be tall. The thing is practically as tall as me but I'm going to be hopeful that it is going to be awesome!

Phase Two: Get Some Color
Most of our furniture is in the brown, dark brown, cream realm of colors, but we both like black and the dining table is black, so black it is! The black makes it look so much better and that's only paint! I still want the corners rounded because I am terrified to scratch my face on it! I've already almost done that a few times and that is without drinking! lol. 

The hubs is talking lighting, I'm talking shelves for glasses, we are both talking bar stools, mini fridges and nice coasters. If our little home bar turns into our fave bar to visit, we may have to name it! Yep, you can definitely tell that we don't have kids!

Oh, and does anyone know if liquor stores give discounts for buying lots of alcohol? It can't be a bar without being stocked with at least the basic staples! Tell me what you think we definitely need to have on stock because all we drink is rum, whiskey and vodka. ;-)

Oh and don't forget to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook! Let's make a community of strong women!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I'm Back!!!

I am back to the blogging world and I am excited to be devoting my time entirely to sharing what I can to inspire living strong in all aspects of our lives. This isn't a debut for this blog but it kind of feels like one since I have been out of the loop for a few months!

While I plan to post everyday if not most days of the week, I am approaching my blogging routine with a less strict schedule. This is something I learned from my previous blog that only led me to burnout. (Hmm, maybe I can do some posts on blogging tips!) So instead of regular posts on set days, there are regular series of posts that I post as I feel them in my heart. :-) If you stick around you'll see how things will be run.

Those of you who have been following me from my previous blog or just follow me on Twitter and Instagram, I have been silent a lot in those areas. So to kick off my comeback I thought I'd just give an update of what I've been up to while on my hiatus from social media. I also hope that this will be a sort of re-introduction of myself to any of you new visitors!

My Personal Life
I have been spending my summer in the sun as much as possible whether it be at the beach, the pool, a barbeque or floating on the river, I've been getting hooked to this Florida living!

I have also been hard at work with studying. I have been studying for such a long time that it hardly seems as though I'll ever take the personal training certification exam. However, I know it's going to happen and the plan is to do it before October (or before my birthday!)

With the hubs on his first solo flight
My Fitness Life
It has been a blessing that the hubs now has a passion to get to the gym with me! It is so motivating and such a crucial part of my success when he and I push each other when one of us just don't feel like doing anything. I've dropped in pants size and he is looking good (hey I'm his wife, I can say that!) ;-p

My Spiritual Life
I have to be honest here in saying that I have been slacking here. While I pray everyday and try to think of God in every aspect of my life, the growing part has been stagnant the past couple months. I pray that now that I am back to blogging and sharing my journey that I will feel more accountable to strengthen myself in this area. I can't be perfect, but the beauty is that we have a perfect God!

So this is my life and I share it with you. I will strive to be as open as possible in my successes as well as my struggles. I hope this inspires you to be open with me and to live STRONG in every area of our lives!

Mila says hi!

I'm so glad to be back! Be sure to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook to keep up to date on the latest posts!

~ Melina xo

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You Can't Win Them All

I am having a poop day today. I know my comeback is in September, but I just have to blog today. I just have to share my feelings!

I feel like my body is to the point where drastic changes aren't going to be met unless I do more intense training more often and be more strict on my diet as far as getting more clean and more colorful. Things I haven't really been good at doing.

I have had improvement though in the way that my clothes fit and the strength gains in the gym. And even last week I even lost 2 pounds! While I'm beginning to let go of the scale as a motivator, it still feels good since I still have unwanted body fat on my legs and hips. Last week I took on a couple of gym classes and a couple extra cardio sessions. I also woke up early and got stuff done! I felt on top of the world!

However, in life, with the highs come the lows. This week has been a huge low. I have felt so void of energy, not in the mood to do anything, hardly eating or over eating, missed cardio sessions, a skipped class, and no studying at all! And it is only Wednesday! Today I even woke up at 1pm and was really mad at myself.

Then as I sat on my couch in the dark, fighting to make myself get up and putting myself down for not doing anything, I told myself, "Hey, it's okay! You can't win them all!"

You can't win them all. But that doesn't mean you have lost. It doesn't mean that it is all over. It only means that you are human!

I took a look back at last week when I felt so accomplished. I took a look back at the past year and the strides I have made in my body and overall fitness. I am proud of myself for not ever giving up. So what I am having a lazy day, heck a lazy week even! I get to have those days because I work hard!

Could it be that a poop day that makes us feel like a failure is really just a necessary refresh button? It isn't like I woke up Monday morning saying, "I'm gonna suck this week" did I? No. Not at all. I'm no failure at all. I just can't win them all! So it is okay.

It's a marathon, not a sprint. So what this week sucks? So what I ate way too many salty chips yesterday? I may not win everyday, or every week. But I'M GOING TO WIN THIS RACE!

So the next time you feel like poop and get mad at yourself for messing up or being lazy, tell yourself, "I can't win them all! Give me a break!" Then let yourself have the break without feeling guilty.

I will not feel guilty. I AM a winner.

Now that this is off my chest, how do you handle your poop days? What pep talks do you give yourself to get back on track? Feel free to comment here or on The STRONG Life's Facebook Page. Bring on the motivation!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coming Soon!

I mentioned once on my Facebook page that I was taking a break from blogging and social media to focus on studying. My days consist of working out, eating, and studying. That's about it. With the hours spent everyday trying to prepare for the personal training exam, I decided to take the break. However, I realized that I didn't mention it on the blog!

I am so excited to begin a new chapter and a new career path and I have learned so much about myself during the transition. I've grown so much and healed so much that I can't wait to share all my experiences and new-found knowledge with you! I'm still going to be quiet here but I will still be posting on my Facebook page so be sure to Like The STRONG Life on Facebook to get the latest. :-)

I will be back in September with posts to help you become strong physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a constant growing and learning process as we move through our lives and while I share my journey with you, it is my hope that you will join me, share with me and be inspired!

Here is what to expect:

  • Continuation of The Wifely Life Series which shares my experiences, findings and the overall fun (or "fun") that comes with being a wife and military wife
  • Inspiration quotes and scriptures that will sometimes come in the form of free printables
  • Love Challenges! Not just on marriage but also focusing on loving yourself and God
  • Pep Talks and Tips for motivation, inspiration and/or ideas to keep you on track of being STRONG
  • Snippets of what I eat and collected recipes for getting on the clean eating track
  • Workout plans for the gym, at home, and my own progress (did I mention that I want to compete someday?! Ahh!)
  • DIYs around the home (decor and makeshift workout equipment) I got a fun project lined up for the first of this series! I gotta pretty up a bar my husband built!
  • Sharing anything and everything I find that helps me learn and will help you learn too!

Now, I'll be back in September on a regular schedule but between now and then, I just know my blogger itch will need to be scratched and I'll probably post a few times. All this studying is turning my brain to mush and I need a break every now and then! So I'll see you soon! :-)

~ Melina 

My silly girl interrupting my studying time ;-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Running, Relationship Status: On a Break

I love running. I don't even think about the benefits or even how it makes me a better person when I do it. I don't do it for the amazing high afterwards when I am sweaty and proud to have done it (okay maybe that is part the reason why I do) but the real reason I do it is because it really is the best therapy I can have.

I haven't been my best, and I do proudly admit that I talk to someone to help me through my issues, but running, now, that is where the true healing of my soul lies! I can hardly believe I say that because I used to be the person who looked disgustingly at runners thinking, "Why would anyone want to do something that hurts so bad?!"

Source: via Melina on Pinterest

Now I understand that the hurt, the effort, the will-power, is what fuels the runner. It's what fuels our souls. I was the girl who would say that I didn't believe in running and now I'm the girl who can't live without it. I remember I had a bit of a shin injury after a serious Zumba workout and I was devastated that I couldn't run. I was off of it for 2 months before getting back to it but by that time the lovely weather of Florida's humidity and heat has hindered my running progress. I can still run but running the 4 miles I used to be able to get to? Not happening!

So I've made the hard decision of not making running my main cardio anymore. At least not until the fall. And here are the reasons why, well, the reasons why I have to take a break from the boyfriend a.k.a. running that I just can't live without. . .

1. I started adding more H.I.I.T. workouts (high intensity interval training) in the form of BodyRock and other interval exercises to challenge my muscles more. Because of this, my shins are feeling more challenged during a run. 
2. H.I.I.T is better for fat burning without compromising the muscle building I am working hard to gain. (I have Bikini Competition dreams in my head) 
3. My weak area and my most unappealing area is my backside. I have decided I want to focus my training more on my booty. Thank goodness for the Booty Beautiful Series from FitnessRX! I have learned from the Booty Beautiful Program that running is not the proper cardio for booty building. I learned that I need to focus my efforts more towards stair-steppers, incline walking/running and plyometrics (which I get from H.I.I.T) All of these are cardio workouts that works the booty at the same time!

Running is still a great workout. If I hated it, it would be easy to be like, "Hell yea! No more running!" But it really hurts me to not run as my primary cardio. If it weren't for the humidity and heat of Florida, I would be all about running a 10K every weekend! I love running and it really does heal me.

So I'll be backing off running, but I will still meet up with my run once or twice a week. When you are a mess like me, you just have to hang on to the thing that helps you clear your head!

Are you finding a workout or exercise that you love but have to give up due to an injury or are you like me having to give up a workout or exercise you love just because it currently doesn't fit in your workout goals? Or just tell me how much you hate or love to run! :-)

For more on Fitness, Faith and Love, be sure to Like The Strong Life on Facebook

Friday, July 13, 2012

(TWL) 10 Things I've Learned in 2 Years

Yay! Another post for The Wifely Life Series! My husband and I celebrated (and will be celebrating tomorrow) our 2 year wedding anniversary! Ask either one of us how it has been and we will both respond with, "Man, it sure feels longer than two years!"

I figured what a better topic for this week than to reflect on being a wife for two whole years! (Although, we've been together for nearly 7 1/2 years)

Let's see, while many of our other newly married counterparts have settled down in newly purchased homes and welcomed new babies, we have been busy not doing either one. In just 2 years we have called 3 homes in 3 different states "home". Each state brought a new journey in our lives, paralleled with the hubs training, that we have learned a lot about each other and have had to increase patience as well as the ability to adjust to changes in our surroundings and to each other. Ah, the benefits of being a military wife!
Moving meant having lots of quality road time together!
When you get married, you know you will face challenges and ups and downs. It is how you come out of them, together, that builds and strengthens the relationship. This summer is not only our 2 year anniversary, but my hubs was promoted to 1st Lieutenant for the Marines and we are now approaching the end of our 1 year lease where we currently live. That is seriously huge for us since the moment we got married we've never stayed in one home long enough to be there a full year!

I thought I'd share 10 things I learned as a USMC Wife and as a newlywed with no children trying to be the best wife I can be!

1) Go to bed together - Being on the same sleep schedule really helps us stay connected. It gets hard to try to center my life around his crazy schedule but I think it prevents us from alienating ourselves from each other. Plus no one likes to go to bed alone!

2) Date Night - You don't have to go out to dinner or spend all kinds of money to have time together. We would often get a movie or just chill with some drinks and chat. I get that it's easier for us to have weekly date night since we don't have kids. I'm so thankful to be able to do these weekly! This is something couples should never fully get rid of. 

3) It's okay not to conform - I'm not the military wife that wears all the shirts, takes a million pictures, and decks out my car in I <3 My Marine stickers. I'm also not the wife that is involved in all the group activities that all the other wives go to. I often feel like I don't fit in if I don't, but I'm not willing to be someone I'm not just because I'm a military wife. Which brings me to the next thing...

4) Don't try to fit in! - In my experience, I'm typically the only one with no kids. Hang out with one mom, cool. Hang out with more than one and you might as well give up. Like flies to a piece of meat, they can't help but talk about nothing but their children and childbirth (probably the best birth control hearing those stories!) It often makes me feel left out and I have to excuse myself to hang with the hubs instead. It used to bother me, actually it still does, but the biggest thing I am learning is that I don't have to fit in! I know my time will come for the mom talk but for now, I'm okay with just being myself and making connections with a few really wonderful girls! I'm not the girl who hangs out with the big group of girls anyway, but I love a good sushi date with a girlfriend!

5) It's hard to get a job - It is always that dreaded question of "So what do you do?" that just makes me cringe. However, it is not uncommon for military wives to have a hard time finding a job, or to be in the process of a career change. We are a blessed group of women to have the military and our men to back us and support us! It brought me down for a while to be unemployed but I am learning so much about myself in this down time and I am enjoying where I am headed. (Soon to be personal trainer!)

6) You will never know what is going on - I'm a control freak and a planning freak. "Thankfully" the military never fills you in on anything unless it is the last minute or unless you were fortunate enough to talk to someone who had already been through it. It is a hard adjustment to deal with that, but it has taught me a lot about living day to day. I have to say it helps me stay grounded instead of worrying about what I can't control.

7) Take advantage of the resources - Most the time I feel like the military could give a crap about me, but after utilizing a few things, such as MyCAA to pay for education, the Family Readiness Center that provides awesome counselors and a small library and the Fitness Center, I have realized that I am taken care of if I only seek out and use what is out there for me.

8) Be his sense of normal - Most the time these military guys are on a roller coaster of emotions with all the stuff they go through. Going home is probably the best relief they can have. I have learned that the best way to support my man is to make his home pleasant. Meaning that I need to keep my attitude in check and actually do the dishes! When it comes right down to it, I do prefer to see him smile than to get out whatever it is I feel I have to gripe about. 

9) Listen. Really listen. Then ask why. - In any successful relationship comes respect and communication. It is important to listen to what the other is saying. Not just to hear but to listen to the words they are saying when they talk to you. If it is something that needs more attention, it is important to also ask why they feel the way they do. It is easy to not notice how we affect the ones we love by the things we say and do. 

10) Have faith in EVERYTHING. God's got this! - All in all, it is tough. Change is tough, marriage is tough, the military lifestyle is tough. But in God anything is possible! The journey is all worth it when you have faith and keep praying for God's hand to be in it all. 

Of course there is probably plenty more I can talk about but 10 is a good number. :-) Though I will throw in a bonus. Three words: King Size Bed! We don't have one yet, but I think it would work wonders if we both could just spread out when we sleep! Lol!

Do you have any tips to share of what you have learned so far in your marriage military or not? Share below in the comments or share them on The STRONG Life's Facebook Page!

Source: via Melina on Pinterest

Friday, July 6, 2012

5 Ways to Break Free from the Scale

I'm sure we've all been there. We start working out, we start eating right, our clothes start to feel better, but the scale won't budge.

Then you've probably heard that because muscle mass is denser than fat but leaner, that it weighs more but you get smaller. That's where the measurements of your waist and hips and other places help in showing you that you are progressing.

But it still gets frustrating when you get on the scale and the number is the same or more. . .

I know the truths, I've read years of articles from my subscription to Self Magazine to hear the same things over and over. It still doesn't change how I feel!

This is the struggle I am having right now and while I know I am improving and can feel and see it in my body, the scale has gone up. I am going the right direction in my behavior, but I can't help but feel deflated when the scale is up 6.5 pounds from just 2 months ago.

Often you would hear me get on the scale and yell, "I give up!" (Though I know I'm not really going to give up!) But how will I ever reach my 10 pound loss goal this month if the scale won't budge!?

The scale is like that person in your life that knows you are becoming a better person, and encourages you sometimes along the way, but then sometimes, when you need it most, doesn't offer any encouragement. When that happens, we usually will seek out our more supportive friends and family in our life right?

Same goes for fitness.

When I feel defeated after getting on the scale, I find myself easily slipping into thinking what I could've done differently yesterday, or kicking myself for taking a bite of those peanut butter bites in my fridge. But then I have to quickly kick those negative thoughts to the curb and tell myself to forget yesterday. It's done. Focus on today and making good decisions today and believing that I'm headed the right direction no matter what the scale says.

Distract yourself. Feel empowered with encouraging yourself in other ways. Go seek out your other "friends"!

Here are the ways that I do it:
  • Checking off workouts in my calendar
Really on top of it!
Though sometimes not...
  • Putting on that goal outfit (in my case a cute dress) and making a mental note of what looks better and where it fits better.
  • Noticing my improvements such as being able to do more weight on my barbell squat from the week before. Actually noticing the improvements and being proud of it!
  • Looking at my "Before" photos (scary but it helps!)
  • Telling myself that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. I'm not going to see the results I dream of in a month. But in a year, I'm going to look fantastic! 

Eventually your grumpy scale friend will lighten up and encourage you again, you just gotta give that buddy some space!

In what ways do you feel prisoner to your scale? How much weight do you give it when it doesn't "tell" you what you wanna hear? What are ways you break free from the dreaded scale?

Share in the comments below or share on The STRONG Life's Facebook Page!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

I woke up on July 1 realizing that even though I watched what I ate and worked out every day in June, I only lost 1 pound. Maybe I'm not pushing hard enough or being disciplined enough in my eating, and because of that I need to step it up.

When I first laid out my 6 month workout plan, I pictured the end result but didn't set up any mile stones along the way to keep me on track. That's the biggest thing June taught me. So for July I set 2 goals.

I need to lose 10 pounds and I need to finally get my Personal Training Certification so that I can move on to the next phase of my life which is to start my business and work on my competing goals. I know that it is realistic and healthy to lose 2 pounds per week so I should go for losing 8 pounds in a month's time, but I'm going to shoot for 10 anyway.

Have you ever set a goal and found that maybe it was too vague or unrealistic and you ended up not making that goal? Did it end up making you feel discouraged? It certainly is an easy way to set yourself up for failure!

You've probably heard of this acronym before but you need to set S.M.A.R.T. Goals! That is:

(S)pecific - You can't just say I want to lose weight. I want to be successful. Successful how? Pick up 5 new clients? Now that is more specific! Give yourself an actual number.

For me it is 10 pounds and a passing test score.

(M)easurable - You have to be able to keep track of your progress. I can say that I want to eat healthy for a goal but how can I measure just how much or how little I've eaten healthy? If I said eat 3 healthy meals a week, well now I can track that!

I'll measure my weight with the scale and I'll measure my test passing with the actual score.

(A)ttainable - This is where being realistic comes to play. 50 pounds in 6 weeks? Sure it's specific and measurable but attainable? You are either going to be sorely disappointed or sick and really hungry!

My 10 pounds in 4 weeks goal is realistic in that 8 pounds is healthy and that I'm counting on the last two pounds to be water weight that I have been retaining the last couple weeks. Taking and passing the test in 4 weeks? If I had never opened the study materials until today, probably unrealistic. But I've been studying the material since January. It must be realistic that I should take the test in a month. :-)

(R)elevant - You want to make sure that the goals you set along your journey to reach your dreams are in line with your ultimate goal. Sure I'd love to run a marathon someday. I could add that into my fitness goals right now, tell myself that I want to run a marathon before the end of this year, but it isn't in line with my ultimate goal to compete. That much cardio training would hinder my muscle growth. However, losing my last 10 pounds gets me closer to the physique I want and getting certified will help me in staying passionate and dedicated to my fitness.

(T)ime-bound - The biggest mistake you can make is to say "someday". Procrastination kicks in and you end up reassuring yourself by saying things like, "Well, I'll start on that next week." Or next month, or after your birthday, and the list can go on and on. However, give yourself a set deadline and now you got a reason to push yourself!

I told myself I wanted to lose weight by summer and that I wanted to start my own business this year. Here I am in July not really having done either thing. So I fixed my goals' flaw but giving them a set date. August 1st!

When making goals, don't stress yourself out about how to make it an effective goal. Go with what first comes to mind without thinking about making it S.M.A.R.T. Then you can modify it using the model. :-)

Are you setting new goals this month? Or are you currently working on a goal? If you like, I'd love to hear your goals! They don't have to be fitness related, they can any goal you have for anything! You can leave a comment below or on The STRONG Life's Facebook Page!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beginning the Clean Eating Journey

Last week was the first time that I tried to go by a meal plan for the week and went grocery shopping for the planned meals. I have to say that it is training me to learn some habits in planning ahead. By doing that I found myself staying within my calorie range simply because each meal and snack was planned for the day which kept me from straying from my food goals.

I am always pinning foods and browsing food blogs to find recipes and last week I picked a few to make for each night of the week. Some didn't turn out so great, which I won't be making again. Others turned out perfect and others turned out to be good enough to want to make it again and add it to my repertoire  of homemade meals.

I have mentioned that along with trying to find foods that the hubs will like, I also am trying to expand my taste buds to enjoy the taste of vegetables and things I never really ate in the past but now like.

So here are a few of my featured clean eats that made the cut of being added to my rotation for meal planning:

Italian Slow-cooker Chicken - The recipe called for cooking 6-8 hours. The chicken turned out kind of dry so next time I'll probably do it for 5 hours on low. I made it with asparagus instead of carrots because I don't like cooked carrots (though it's been years since I tried it last). I had asparagus on hand since the hubs likes it so I made it with that. It didn't turn out so well. Next time I'll either make the asparagus separate, or add it in for the last hour. Or try a different veggie all together. I still don't like asparagus, so who knows!

Three-Cheese Spinach Pita Pizza - I followed the directions from the recipe but made it with tomato sauce, spinach, low-fat shredded mozzarella, feta and parmesan cheeses. The pita bread was awesome as the edges were crunchy and the rest of it was soft. Just delicious and it was all under 350 calories!

No-Bake Energy Bites - I followed the recipe for this one too except I left out the coconut flakes and the flax. I don't have any ground flax and I just don't like the taste of coconut. The consistency held up without me having to sub anything for it. Very good and very addicting. Gotta be disciplined with this stuff in your fridge!

Sunflower Applesauce - I used to not like applesauce and recently gave it another chance. I found that I LOVE it especially with sunflower seeds in it! I usually just do 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce and 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds.

Every week I challenge myself to make a veggie smoothie and so I tried a strawberry and chard smoothie. I had never heard of chard so I thought to try it in a smoothie and see how it'd taste. It wasn't good. Just flavorless and even adding Truvia didn't work. Oh well. Can't wait to experiment with the next smoothie!

Chard leaves are huge!

A couple other meals made the cut but I had to modify them a bit that I think I might just give them their own posts so that I can ramble about the recipe modifications I had to make since I am a picky eater, lol.

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