Haiti 2017, Sunday, February 19th

5 Mar

I’ve been home from Haiti for one week; however, it has taken me the entire week to process, ponder and reflect.  Today as my Pastor started a new series, The Blessed Life, I knew I was finally ready to begin sharing my week in Haiti.  

This blog will be about our first full day in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, which happened to be Sunday, February 19th.  We were up bright and early in order to attend Sunday morning services at the church our translator attends.  We arrived there around 8:30 but the congregation had arrived earlier for small groups.  The church was packed but they had reserved a space for us on the front row.  The church building made out of blocks – if I remember correctly, the roof was made out of metal.  There’s no air conditioning – only ceiling fans and some standing floor fans.  The Sunday we were there was the Sunday that the young people led the service from the singing to the speaking.  Beautiful voices filled the air as the Haitians worshiped God.  And although it was in French and I really couldn’t understand anything that was being said or sung, I could feel the joy, gratitude and love being expressed in their songs and words.  Their faith, their hope and their trust in God was very visible and evident in the way they sang and worshiped.

I noticed the joy on every face and I took note of how the people were dressed in their finest Sunday clothes….which don’t even get me started on how we Americans like to approach our church going in all of our casual, laidback attitudes and casual clothes as if we were spending a day working in our yards.  The colors of clothing were vibrant on the ladies and the men were wearing their suits and ties or slacks, dress shirts and ties.  It was very evident that going to church is very important to them and dressing for the occasion of being in God’s House is something that take as utmost importance.

After the service, our team served them sandwiches, chips and a drink.  I wish that I could have spent more time getting to know each of them but a quick “bonjour” and a heartfelt smile was all I had time to do.

We went back to the orphanage to change clothes and then head out of town to a remote village.  It was about 45 minutes out of the city;as we turned off the main road and drove on a dirt road for what seemed like miles and miles, we all questioned how in the world did they ever find this village to begin with!!! Nate and Jeff wanted to go back and check on a little toddler.  When Nate and Jeff were there in December, this little guy had fallen into a fire and was burned very badly.  Based on the severity of his burns, the toddler only had about a 10% chance of surviving.  Nate and Jeff did what they could and then they prayed for him.  Consequently, they wanted to go back and see how he was.  Well, the power of prayer was very evident because the little guy was well, walking, and the scars were so minimal…one would never be able to tell that he had been burned so severely in a fire.

Walking through the village where most of the houses were just little one-room shacks made out of mud with a straw roof, I was made aware of all the little things I take for granted on a daily basis.  When you go to one of these villages, your hand is very quickly taken by a child as you are walking.  All of a sudden there will be kids everywhere and they want to say “bonjour” and hold your hands.  Smiles are big and they are curious to see why the “Blancs” are there (french word for “white” and that’s what they call us!).  We had not had time to pre-make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; however, about 8 of us got in the van and had makeshift assembly line where we used machetes and pocket knives to cut the bread and then spread the pb and jelly with spoons, pocket knives and whatever else we could find that would serve a purpose.  We don’t have an exact count but I know we made at least 200 sandwiches.  We gave those out along with chips and a drink and some candy.  Lots of smiles because everyone loves a good ol’ pb&j!!!

We got back to Bon Sam (the orphanage where we stayed) tired but happy – we enjoyed some Haitian spaghetti on the rooftop and then came the best part of the day….we would sit in a circle and go around and share what was our high for the day and what stood out in our minds.  Fabulous moments spent with people who have become friends.

I climbed into my top bunk bed and shrouded myself in my mosquito netting and fell asleep listening to the dogs barking…roosters crowing (yes, they were a little confused as to when exactly they are supposed to crow!)….sounds of Carnival…  Hoping and praying that no spiders or any other kind of creepy crawly animal/bug would wander in via the window right beside me.  However, I had the best view – as I looked out the window right beside me, I could see the stars and then in the morning I could look out the window across the room from me and see the sunrise happening with the mountains in the distance.

Today, in my Pastor’s message, this is what made me think of Haiti and the beautiful Haitian people:

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in such generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”  2 Corinthians 8:1-3)

I saw time and time again during my week there that even in their poverty they have overflowing joy and such generosity.  I watched the kids at the orphanage over and over again receive something and then very quickly share what they had been given with their friends.  They wanted to share what they had with us.  But what stands out to me the most is their overflowing joy.  I am purposing in my own life to be joyful…to have overflowing joy and to give freely from my heart.  

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What do you do when you fall down

30 Jan

What do you do when you hit a bump on your fitness journey or when you have a bad eating day? Do you just throw your hands up and say, “i’ve blown it so I may as just eat everything in my frig and pantry!!” or do you say, “Ok, I had a moment but now it’s time to get back on track and continue making good choices!” Which one are you?

We all have those days – those moments. It’s normal – we’re human and we mess up. However, it’s what we do afterwards that counts.

For example, last Saturday, I had one of those days. I had been getting up every morning between 4:30 and 5 and not getting to bed until after 10. Friday evening, I hosted a painting party to help me raise money for my upcoming missions trip to Haiti; so that meant planning and preparing for the 21 ladies that were attending. I had early morning prayer, fitness classes, and an afternoon of errands and preparing for the event. I didn’t get home until 11:30 that night and then had to be up early on Saturday to teach fitness classes. When I arrived back home Saturday morning after classes, I was tired and I was hungry and lack of sleep had my brain all foggy. None of these were conducive to making a good choice. I grabbed some chocolates that I had leftover from my party and ate them. Yep….on an empty stomach. And they were delicious!

Now….what did I do afterwards? Did I beat myself up for making those choices? Nope. I knew there were a lot of components that had led to my decision and that I’m human and once in a while I’m going to eat chocolate for breakfast! However, I also knew that I would get right back on track with my lifestyle and how I eat 90% of the time.

Again, it’s okay to have those moments. We all do. It’s what we do the next day that matters. If we continue making the choices we know aren’t going to bring us mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health and wellness, then that isn’t okay and we need to have someone help us get back on track. On the other hand, if we go right back to making those daily choices that will bring us life and well being, then all is well.

It’s not how many times we fall down, it’s how many times we get back up! So, get back up and keep walking!!! You can do this!

2017

3 Jan

Friday Fitness Tip for 12/16

16 Dec

Friday Fitness Tip:

1) Have a bite before you go out.

Many times, people will choose not to eat because they know they are going to a party where there will be lots of food. That is the worst choice to make – by the time you get to the party, you’ll be ravenously hungry and won’t be able to make good choices and will end up overeating and feeling horrible the next day. Eat normally throughout the day – breakfast with protein, a great lunch (big salad with lean protein) and even have a snack before heading to the party…An apple and some almonds. This will keep you from eating too fast because you’re hungry and will allow you to enjoy the foods you want to eat.

2) Keep each celebration limited to one day.

Don’t go into Holiday mode and just eat everything and anything when you want and skip all of your workouts. This will cause you many tears on new year’s day when you realize you’ve gained five pounds!!! Go to your Christmas party – and then the next day go back to making your good choices AND make sure you get in a workout!

A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent. So, skip one day but then get right back on track!!! Your 2017 self will appreciate that!

3) Keep calories in perspective.

All of these tips are not meant to make you frantic and not enjoy the season. They’re just meant to help you be aware of your choices and how to keep from gaining the typical 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. A few high-calorie meals during this season will not sabotage your fitness goals.

A better strategy: Focus on how many calories you burn during the course of a week, not each day. As long you are making good choices and eating healthy 80 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack during the other 20 percent.

What are some ways you stay balanced during this time of the year???

Friday Fitness Tips

9 Dec

Friday Fitness Tips:

Here we go….take a deep breath….you can do this!!! The “most wonderful time of the year” is upon us. This month causes mixed reactions in most people. Some people love every moment – some tolerate it – some dread it. Regardless of your feelings for this month, I’m going to try and share tips every Friday that will help you be healthy and well and finish 2016 strong!!! I’ll share three tips today that I think are the most important for starting this month.

1) Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast sets the nutritional tone for the rest of the day, and you don’t want to send your body into survival mode by prolonging your overnight fast. Bonus points if you swap your bagel for eggs and your venti latte for a short black. Doing the former can help shrink your waist by 34 percent and your body fat by 16 percent, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.

The reason: You’ll consume fewer calories in subsequent meals. Doing the latter can save you 188 calories a day. And let’s be honest, it’s the caffeine you love anyway. Feel like you never have time to make breakfast? Have some grab and go options – almonds, apples, boiled eggs, bananas, etc – that can help you with the morning rush.

2) Keep a food log – yes, even during the Holidays. This will help you maintain and not gain and keep you aware of what you are consume. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s shockingly effective at helping people eat healthier, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The researchers found that people who recorded everything they ate for a week lost six more pounds than people who didn’t. Don’t bother buying a notebook—smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, and Eatly make recording what you eat easy. All three also sync with third party fitness trackers, helping you gain a more holistic view of your health and daily activity. I use MyFitnessPal and love how it helps me be accountable.

3) Don’t skip workouts!!!! Skipping just one workout can initiate a downward spiral, increasing your odds of skipping another one by 61 percent, according to British researchers.

The solution: Think smaller. Instead of trying to carve out time for one long workout, do two or three short ones. “In so doing, you’ll boost motivation, eliminate ‘too busy’ as an excuse, and accelerate both muscle building and fat loss,” says Chad Waterbury M.S., a Los Angeles-based exercise physiologist.

A great go-to is a Tabata based workout. 20 seconds of a move, 10 seconds rest and repeat for 8 times total. You can choose one move for four minutes and then choose another move for the next 4 minutes. In just 16-20 minutes you can have a great, effective workout done.

If you would like for me to post a tabata workout, comment below and I’ll give you one to add to your resources 🙂

So, incorporate these three tips for the rest of the month and I’ll share more next Friday! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of help to you. I offer free consultations and would be glad to help in any way that I can.

Remember, breathe and take time for yourself in the busy days ahead.

Finishing 2016 Strong

8 Dec

It’s hard to believe that we are in the last month of 2016.  I think back to the beginning of the year when I had a brand new year ahead of me with blank pages upon which I would write daily with my choices and doings.  Am I where I wanted to be?  Have I done what I wanted to do?  Have I been what I wanted to be in 2016?  So, I take time to ponder these questions and reflect upon the last 12 months.  These reflections will help me determine what I set forth to do on January 1st.  I know that I have taken on new things which has caused me to neglect other things that I felt were important to me.  So, for 2017 I know that I need to think about the impact of taking on new things and what it will do to what is currently on my plate.  Yes, it can be good to take on new things and new opportunities; however, I think that if I add something new than I need to subtract something away.  It’s the process of continually growing and transforming.

One of the things that has helped me was the practicum coaching that I had to do as part of my online education at MUIH for my master’s in health and wellness coaching.  I was coached by a fellow student in my program; and even though it was a practicum, it was so helpful and beneficial to me as an individual.  I had some areas I felt stuck in and that is what I brought to the coaching sessions so I could be coached.  As my coach would ask powerful questions and utilize coaching resources during the sessions, I was able to have clarity and experience some “aha” moments as she coached me through the sessions.  This experience was also valuable to me as a  coach to understand how it feels to be in a coaching situation as the client.  It allowed me to see the value of having a coach to help discover the answers that already lie inside us and how having another person on our journey towards goals can be so helpful.

As I prepare for the new year, I’ve decided that I’m going to take advantage of the last 23 days of this year and finish strong by choosing daily to make choices to meet my goals.  My word for 2016 was, “execute” – I chose that word because I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go so all I had to decide was to just do it.  So, from now until the end of the year I will just do it – I will be present, I will make time to be with friends, I will celebrate life, I will be confident in what I do and who I am, I will learn and teach Strong by Zumba, I will run my one mile every day, I will limit my sugar consumption, I will journal, I will have my quiet time, I will practice gratitude.  You see…it’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish that matters! So, I will finish strong!

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Sharing a pic from TobyMac

28 Oct

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