100 Healthy Days

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I have long been a believer in baby steps to change.

Maybe you’re one of those people who can clean out the fridge and pantry, start a new training program and never look back.

I salute you.

But I’m not one of you.

The changes I’ve made in my life and diet have all been accumulative. They’ve been one change and then another. Some haven’t worked for me. Some haven’t stuck. Sometimes, I have to make the same change over and over and over and over.

And that’s okay.

When we take enough of those baby steps, they can lead to something big.

Big change…physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Maybe what you’re celebrating today is not drinking soda.

High five.

Maybe it’s making space for quiet time.

You’re the bomb.

Maybe it’s going for a walk for the first time in ages.

You go.

Maybe it’s making a menu plan full of foods that nourish.

Yes.

Maybe it’s running a marathon.

You’re crazy and awesome.

Whatever it is, share it. I’m sharing on Instagram (user name skwidlund) and Twitter (also skwidlund), and on Fridays I’ll share some of the photos and thoughts here. Use hashtag #100healthydays so we can find each other.

Don’t let this be stressful. Just let it be one intentional action or change each day. If you miss a day, it’s totally okay. This is one of those big picture things.

On Wednesdays, I’ll share one healthy idea or  focus or tool…in case you need a little prompting.  I know I will.

Baby steps, friends.

Fit Friday: Holy Yoga TV

Can I share with you one of my favorite new things:10296744_646607002096739_4216245645921873452_n

Holy Yoga TV

For a minimum donation of $10 a month, you can subscribe to Holy Yoga TV and have access to 4 streaming videos a month with some of the best Holy Yoga instructors around.

I’ve done three of this month’s practices, although I haven’t yet attempted the firefly pose breakdown because that’s a bit of a stretch for my practice right now. The three I’ve practiced – a gentle, a slow flow and a power – have all been excellent. The intentions (always Jesus focused), the flow, the instruction are all so glorifying to God. And at about 20 minutes, they’re are just long enough to get in even on a busy day and feel like you’ve actually accomplished something.

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Most days, I’m perfectly happy to do my own thing – to design my own practice as I go, but it’s a blessing to be able to practice with Brooke, Amy, Stephanie and JoAnn for new ideas and those helpful reminders about form and breath. In fact, I’m still feeling that super deep karate chop lizard pose Amy leads in her power class. I should probably confess: as a certified instructor who isn’t quite instructing yet, I’m excited to be able to work those flows that I intend to work into my own classes when the time comes.

Looking for a way to begin or grow your yoga practice while entering into His presence?

Here it is.

And it’s tax deductible.

Holy Yoga Retreat

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I’ve been pondering how to write this post since I got on the bus to come home from Holy Yoga retreat.

Sitting on that bus, Luke 2:19 kept coming to mind about Mary treasuring things up and pondering them in her heart.

And I knew that was what I needed to do.

God revealed so many Truths to me that week. Not little t situational truths, but capital T Truths from God’s mouth to my heart.

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And a lot of them came from the mouth of Brooke Boon. God’s original design for me is an invaluable gift. It’s something I’ve read about, something I’ve studied and something I’ve never fully been able to grasp and live out.

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I was pushed and challenged in ways I didn’t expect. Leading up to retreat, I was nervous about whether or not my body would be able to handle all the movement, the altitude and the sleep disruptions. It was hard, but I was shocked at how well I felt the entire week. God truly met me where I needed Him most.

Exhausted? Yes.

Pushed to my brink? Absolutely.

Embraced by a Lord who loves me like crazy? Yep.

He also used my fear about my physical weaknesses to drop another Big T Truth:

I set a lot of limits on myself without realizing it.

It wasn’t easy to hear, but I needed it and it’s been something I’ve carried with me in the month since I came home. No longer am I so easy to say, “I can’t do that” or “My body won’t let me”. I’m pushing myself harder and finding that I can do so much more than I realized.

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The Lord called me to go deeper, to be more vulnerable. During one of our evening practices, one of the master instructors that was doing assists, whispered into my ear that I don’t have to strive so hard to be my own Rock, my own Strength.

It was a Big T Truth straight to the heart ugly cry sort of moment that I will look back on years from now as a turning point in my relationship with my Savior.

We say in Holy Yoga that it’s Jesus first, yoga second and that was evident in every aspect of the week. It was a huge leap of faith for me to begin this training in January. It was a bigger leap for me to journey to retreat, to take my hermit-self on a plane and a bus to sleep in a cabin for a week with people I’d never met while I physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted itself.

I made friends that I have come to treasure.

I made sisters that I can call on to pray for me and to encourage me in times of need.

I discovered who God created me to be.

And I learned how to teach yoga.

It’s a Get To!

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To say it’s been a while would be to a bit of an understatement.

Okay, a huge understatement.

It’s been busy. So busy. I’ve been scattered. But God has been good.

So good.

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I’m now a fully certified Holy Yoga instructor. I still get the giggles when I say that. I have had some thoughts percolating since I got home from retreat a month ago that I’ll share soon. I’m not teaching yet, but soon. I’ve been resting in the many truths the Lord spoke into my heart during my nine weeks of immersion and week of retreat.

It has changed everything.

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I’m also on round 2 of the 21 Day Fix.

Guys, I seriously love this program. It’s like they built a program just for me. The portion control I can never seem to really get down on any other way of eating is easy with the Fix. The 30 minute workouts that challenge me but are varied enough to not bore me after a two weeks. Also important – it’s real food based and easy to adapt to gluten free. I think I may have finally found that sustainable plan I’ve spent so long searching for.

Actually, I love it so much I’m considering drinking the Kool Aid and becoming a Beachbody coach so I can help others discover this program.

I know! That’s just plain crazy.

Best of all?

This is finally all truly a get to.

I get to choose healthy foods. I get to strengthen my body and seek a more healthy way of life every day. I get to grow my relationship with the Lord as I move my body in worship.

It’s a get to.

And it’s an awesome place to be.

coming into the light

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Here’s the thing:

I picked up Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning for the umpteenth time the other day. It’s one of those books that has been in our library for as long as I can remember, that I’ve read the intro to a few times, but never one that I’ve gotten any further in.

The other night, as I finally made it into that first chapter, Coming Out of Hiding, I ended up in tears.

I’ve been hiding for so long.

I’ve shared quite a bit about my issues with food in the past, but I’m not sure how honest I’ve been.

I took on my first diet at age 10. By 12, I was exercising in my room. At 14, once I got into high school with an open campus at lunch, I ate mojos with cheese, a candy bar and a diet soda every day (because that was healthy?). At home, I snuck food all through high school and purged a lot of what I ate when I went on binges (which was fairly often).

By the time I got married at 21, I’d already lost and gained probably 100 pounds.

Now, at 38, that number is probably closer to 300 and at no point have I ever had more than 70 pounds to lose.

Married life and motherhood hasn’t change too much. I’m the queen of the yo yo dieters. I will be super strict for a short amount of time, see successful weight loss…but it’s at the detriment of my mental health. I become obsessed and that obsession can only last so long before I spiral downward into binge and stress eating, and of course begin to gain weight again.

My diet constantly swerves between a day of righteous, nutrient dense eating and a day of coconut sweet rolls and a bag of Dove dark chocolates. If I know I’m going to be home alone (a rare treat), I plan and hoard what I’m going to eat when no one is there to watch me. I’ve hidden food in my purse to get it into the house and I’ve hidden food from my family.

And I’m beginning to see my attempts at different diets - the severe strictness with which I see success and tend to find my self worth - as very disordered and very unhealthy. They’re my attempts to be in control and they’re my disordered responses to stress.

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I live with guilt and shame on a daily basis about my inability to pull it together. I know that to serve Him in the way that He’s calling me to, healing has to come and this disordered relationship has to be set straight.

And I know that part of that comes from bringing this dark, scary part of myself into the light – into the Light of Christ, but that I also need to come clean with those around me.

In my head, I know that my salvation and my self-worth have nothing to do with my weight or my eating habits. But my heart – that wicked, deceitful things – tells me a different story.

And I listen to that voice that isn’t the Lord’s.

That has to stop.

I’m rooting into God’s word, I’m studying His promises and I’m praying that He would show me the way He has set for me to healing and true wellness. I’m letting go of the tight reins that I so often cling to as holiness and seeking a path of sustainability.

Again.

I’m okay with failures, but I have to choose intentionally not to linger or wallow in them. I know that the Lord will catch me when I fall, will bind  up my wounds and that my faith in Him will always be met. And through my instructor training through Holy Yoga, I’ve truly learned that His grace is bigger than all my needs and will cover my emotional scrapes and bruises.

I don’t know where this goes from here, beyond deeper into my relationship with the Lord and His presence.

 

 

inside my Holy Yoga practice

20140304-115245.jpgI’ve been asked a few times now what my Holy Yoga practice looks like. I think we all have to find our own perfect practice and, while that takes a bit of work and sometimes has to evolve as our days change, I’ve found a routine that works for me.

Ideally, mine would be first thing in the morning…but I’m having some insomnia issues…which are leading to some waking up late issues…which means I try to get it in before lunch.

Usually.

Like so many other things, it’s a work in progress.

Here’s what my time on that mat at home generally looks like:

Turn on the laptop and bring up a gentle practice from The Light Banner. I am loving these monthly practices, especially the gentle ones that are about half an hour. I also use the DVD’s available on the Holy Yoga site twice a week for a longer practice as my daily schedule allows.

I turn on the Pandora or Spotify app on my phone. I love having worship music to practice to and find that my yoga practice has become as much an act of praise as singing in church on Sundays.

Because I just finished the immersion portion of Holy Yoga instructor training, I’m really trying to focus on engagement and alignment. Honestly, it’s not easy, especially when I’m also listening to the teaching on the video and working to remember what I learned about poses in my classes…SSRS, spirals, lines of energy…add in the background worship music…and my brain gets a little crowded in there sometimes.

And I lose my balance.

A lot.

Less than I used to.

But still more than most.

Sometimes, it’s best to just let go and let the Lord lead.

At the end of the video, I hit pause before the final prayer or meditation. I’m focusing on one or two poses and really working to grow in them each month. I go through each pose a few times, in a more concentrated way than I do in my practice and remain in the pose for 4 or 5 breaths. I’m also pulling out some of my instructional books and information, and even looking up tutorials on YouTube. This month’s focuses are chaturanga and cow face pose – both are poses that open up my super tight shoulders and that’s something I know I need to work on.

From there, I turn the video on again and finish in corpse pose. I love this time to just lay on my mat and tune into what God is saying to me in the moment, or to reflect on what He’s bringing to my attention. This is probably the most consistent quiet time with the Lord I’ve had in my entire Christian walk. It’s a time when He can pour into me His words, His teachings and sometimes corrections and admonitions.

I spend a few more minutes on my mat, usually in a simple seated position, as I work to understand and practice Christian meditation. Right now, I’m finding that using a breath prayer works well, either the Jesus prayer or a short Scripture verse.

Altogether, it’s anywhere from half an hour to an hour or so of my day.

An hour that continually draws me closer to the peace and purpose the Lord has had waiting for me, while He fills me to overflowing with His love and joy.

It’s become an integral part of my walk with Jesus and one that I’m so incredible thankful He’s brought to me.