The Most Disturbing Animal Images I Have Ever Seen…

Wanted to take a moment to follow up from Facebook as they only give a certain number of characters and I know I put together a provocative post…but it was worth sharing. 

I am a wimp with a capital “W” when it comes to scary movies.   In my teenage years I could convince myself that the blood was ketchup, but the older I have grown the more scary movies seem to haunt me.  I just couldn’t seem to mentally trick myself any longer.  Tonight I watched some of the most disturbing images I have ever seen.  It was simply the trailer (I am not sure if I have the stomach for the entire documentary) but all the images are real.  No ketchup.   I will be honest I turned away more than once.  It was more than disturbing because it is reality.   A daily reality.

My choice to eat plants has never been about the animals.  It has been about the science that supports a more whole foods, plant based diet.  Let’s be honest it is doubtful that we as Americans are really getting 4 servings of vegetables each day if we exclude ketchup and fries from our “vegetable” intake.  We are eating way too many processed foods and this combined with our lack of fruits and vegetables is creating a major epidemic of disease and obesity in our society.  Plants heal. 

Tonight my mind shifted.  I now eat plants for the health benefits and for the sake of the animals.  Our food industry is out of control.   I share these images with you…not to shock or shame you in to a different choice.  I simply hope to raise awareness on where our favorite chicken sandwich and burger come from.   And at what expense?

There are more responsible ways to eat meat and I hope if you choose to watch the trailer or movie in it’s entirety you will consider exploring those options if you do not already do so.  

We were created for so much in this life.  We were created for much more than we are settling for.   There are great human injustices in this world…I very often have over looked animal rights for human rights.  (Ultimately I believe this is how it should be.)   There is human devastation and brokenness happening all over the world across the globe, in our backyards and even in our homes.  My heart bleeds for the brokenness of this world. Having said this, our food system is broken too.  I could not abstain from sharing this information as we are daily making choices to eat food that is making us sick and overweight–and the cost for many of those mouthfuls is greater than we ever imagined! 

We were designed with a great purpose and responsibility.

For SO many reasons please think before you eat.

The Collection of Lies: Truth on Balance Benefits

 Each season of life and life’s demands is different.  Being a single woman trying to balance a career, family, friends, and staying healthy can seem very different than a young mom balancing a career outside or inside the home, family, and staying healthy. However, no matter the stage of life we are in, we as women will feel the demands and pressures of life.  My hope is to give you just a few practical thoughts on how you can achieve more balance in your daily life. Only you know (because you took the time to reflect) where you are potentially out of balance. More often than not, I see women who are giving a tremendous amount of time to their family and their jobs whether they work in or outside of the home.  Knowing this to be true, I am going to work from the assumption that most women are struggling to nurture the physical wellness leg of their stool and are rarely able to find personal/quiet/reflective/spiritual time.   The rest of the blog will be devoted to a few practical tips that might help you to achieve a little more balance in these areas of your life. 
Hints that have helped with balance:
                Say NO before yes.  If you always say yes to “good things” you will probably miss out on the BEST things that come your way.  (Good is the enemy of best     …paraphrased from Voltaire.)
Grab a friend…two are better than one.  She will hold you accountable to your workouts when you are tired and have had a long day.   She will listen and help you make better choices in the future.  She will FORCE you to get “you” time if you haven’t in a while.  Start this conversation now with a good girlfriend!
Set a regular time for personal quiet time or reflection.  Some seasons of life are more available for this than others.  Maybe it is an extra 5 minutes in the shower for some…or maybe it is a cup of coffee and a quiet extra 20 minutes before the day starts while the house is still quiet.  Quieting yourself and not RUSHING from the moment the alarm goes off is good.  Maybe take a few moments of gratitude at the end of your day to quietly reflect or pray. A journal can also really open up a heart and soul.
A little praise goes a long way.  No husband wants to be helpful at home when he is constantly nagged or criticized for how he does it.  LET GO of all the things you think HAVE to be done a certain way…close your eyes take a deep breath and walk out the door and pound it out on the pavement.  Your children will still be alive when you get back sweaty and feeling awesome. Your hubby will gain confidence when you give him the reigns.  This is true for all things…you may not be getting “you” time because your hubby does not feel that he has your permission to do the helpful dad thing or anything around the house for that matter.  Tell him the things you appreciate that he does with the kids, or to be helpful.  Let him do those!  (This probably goes for in-laws, siblings, or babysitters who are willing to watch your kids.  They are no substitute for you, but if you are looking for perfection or for them to perfectly handle life the way you would, you will NEVER get out of the hosue!)  
On a budget?  Get Creative!  So many women talk about having no money to pursue their interests.  

Swap keeping kids with another mom, so you can go run errands without little ones…grab a coffee along the way…or go check out the yoga class you have been wanting to try.  Consider sharing a sitter so that you can get a date night with your hubby.   The kids play with friends and you save a little cash.  
Need girl time?  Go grocery shopping or workout with a friend.  Delegate one night a month to get away with friends.  Join a book club. 
Cannot afford a gym membership?   Buy equipment you can use over and over again that is versatile.  Buy a punch card—shameless plug—and that way you can go to classes on your time and get ideas and then take them home and use them there!  
Need some alone time?  Go to a coffee shop and read, (again) go for a run or wake up a little earlier and sneak in a bit of quiet before the rest of your crew gets up. 

Don’t use money as an excuse!  Find what fuels you and do it!
If we are always placing the demands of family, job, and others before us, we will eventually feel depleted and empty.  On the contrary if we give very little of ourselves we will feel the need to overcompensate in the areas in which we lack.  Giving is supposed to be one of life’s greatest joys.  Giving of our time, energy, and talents to those we love can produce an abundance of fulfillment and happiness.  We just can’t do it at the expense of ourselves and what we enjoy in life.  If you take time for yourself to recognize and pursue what you need to refresh your mind, body, and spirit, you will most likely come away feeling fueled and ready for the demands of life with a more positive attitude.  Everyone benefits when you take time for yourself. 
Realize that each season of life is different.  Be willingly to adapt, change and grow with each season.  Some of your desires and interests will have to be put on hold during certain seasons of life.  Embracing the season and making the most of it while still giving yourself time is so important.
YOU matter and are worth spending time on YOU!  
YOU are worth a girl’s night with a friend.  
YOU are worth the money & time it costs to workout.  
YOU are worth a new outfit every season.  
YOU are worth time to read a book for pleasure.
YOU are worth getting a babysitter for date night.
YOU are worth going back to school to pursue a dream or career.
You are valuable simply because you are a person; a precious soul that matters.  Embrace this truth and seek balance!

(This was written in conjunction with a friend…who wishes to remain anonymous.  She shares my passion for women knowing truth and how incredibly valuable they are.  Our thoughts and ideas are woven into one.) 

May I Take Your Order?             
“One Big Bowl of Discomfort Please!”
This morning on a run I was reminded of a “Jenni” that existed in the not so distant past.  That Jenni was battling her body.  She was uncomfortable in her own skin.  She hated shopping for clothes and hated the way the fabric clung to her in all the wrong places.  Not only did she not like what was going on with her body—she didn’t like the way she felt about food.  The past Jenni LOVED food…but felt guilty when she ate too much or too little…and hated that she ate when she was stressed, angry, or bored.   
Jenni of the not so distant past was living in the safety and security of her comfort zone. Her comfort zone was a fantasy that kept her from growing and changing.   She hoped doing as little work as possible would gain tremendous personal transformation.  (Isn’t that our human nature?  We seek pleasure and avoid pain?!)   In an attempt to avoid pain and stay comfortable, Jenni of the not so distant past lived in her comfort zone.  She believed if she lifted heavy she would bulk up.  Therefore she decided never to touch a dumbell heavier than 8lbs.  That was comfortable.  She decided running hurt her knees and made her face flush bright pink.  Therefore she never ran more than a mile or two, never ran uphill, she ran only when the weather was a perfect 65 degrees, and she never ran while on her period.  That was comfortable.  She believed that if she did anything out of the ordinary in the gym she might stand out and be viewed as strange.  Therefore she “ran” on the elliptical or read a book on the bike.  Again that was comfortable.   Unfortunately, the not so distant past Jenni clung tightly to her beliefs but found that “when you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten.”  Therefore the Jenni of the distant past was constantly battling the discomfort of her body and the mind games she played with food.
Fast forward to this morning’s run.  I have been healing from an injury and haven’t gotten to run in a while.  On the run I was mentally battling every hill, every straight away, and every internal voice that was screaming: QUIT!  (Or at least walk!)  I was listening to my breathing and how strained it seemed to be.  I was listening to my knees that were very angry with each steep incline.  I was drenched in sweat.  The sun’s heat was uncomfortable.  I was attuned to my abdomen that felt heavy and bloated because I am in fact on my period.  (Sorry if that is TMI.)  I was listening to my body screaming at me and telling me there was NO need to go on.  I was listening to my nauseous stomach and thinking why would one run to the point of feeling sick?  
The Jenni of the not so distant past would have quit.  She probably wouldn’t have even laced up her tennis shoes.  She would have quit at the first thought of a side cramp coming on.  God forbid that she feel the least bit uncomfortable!
However the Jenni of the current present has a new “comfort zone”.  She decided to resign herself to the process and accept being uncomfortable.  She was willing to let go of her former beliefs regarding exercise recognizing that it simply wasn’t working.  She was tired of being uncomfortable in her own skin and was ready for true transformation.  Not just physically but mentally as well.  She was ready to get rid of the excuses.  She was ready to stop being a slave to her taste buds.  She was ready to have food simply be “fuel”.  She was ready for truth to prevail.  The truth that she was stronger than she even knew.  That she has an internal strength that was connected to body, mind, and spirit.  That nothing tasted better than being strong and feeling lean. 
Jenni of the present is willing to get comfortable in discomfort.  She understands that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Slowly one push up at a time, she builds her confidence.  She endures a love/hate relationship with burpees.  Climbing each hill, lifting each heavy weight she finds an inner strength.  She resigns herself to the fact that the process is a journey.  She views this journey as more than physical.  One that builds mental, emotional and spiritual character.    
I am so thankful for the type of run I experienced this morning.   It does not let me forget the Jenni of the not so distant past.  It is a reminder of my humanity and my natural reflex to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  It is a reminder that just yesteryear I was hurdling mental obstacle after mental obstacle to just get to the gym, never mind own one!  It is a reminder of the feelings of most of the women that step in my studio –  discouraged, uncomfortable, yet ready for a change, but with no real direction on how to get to the next place.  I am a living, breathing, “running” reminder that it CAN be done and it is worth every uncomfortable hill that we tackle.  Submitting to the process is worth it.   More importantly, YOU are worth it!  

My Top 3s…

If word documents were paper I would probably have over 50 pages of half written blogs, scribbles, and ideas that have been bouncing around in my head!   Instead they are all condensed on my computer.   The pages are filled with questions for women…thoughts on wellness and body image.  There are words of encouragement and humor written to mothers.  There are titles like:  Women: Best Friend or Worst Enemy?  Or there is,  Licking Mirrors…yes, this is a reference to my son licking the dressing room mirror at Old Navy.  My favorite and most relevant title is Lies Women Believe, but all of these in their raw state, only make sense to me.  

In the meantime I thought I would keep it LIGHT, FLUFFY and PRACTICAL…

Today on Wellness Wednesday I wanted to share my Top 3s:

My top 3 recommendations for great exercise resources, 3 great reads on nutrition, and my 3 favorite blog sites to find awesome recipes!

1.  The New Rules of Lifting for Women (Schuler)…
     (and if you have already read this)   The New Rules of Lifting for Abs

2.  The Body Fat Solution  (Venuto)

3.  Cardio Strength Training  (Dos Remedios)

1.  The China Study  (Campbell).
      and if you have read this (or don’t want to read it)… Forks Over Knives (Stone)

2.  Food Rules  (Polan)

3.  The Eat Clean Diet (Tusca Reno)


1.     (One of my favs!)

2.    (I will be ordering her book!)

    (watch the video starring our very own P.O.W.E.R. girl Holly Bennett on NBC’s Carolina Today!)

Have a wonderfully well Wednesday!