Monday, October 27, 2014

every high thing must come down

I have read enough blog posts about blogging to know it’s taboo to apologize for skipping a day, week, month of posting, which is probably for the best because I don’t feel apologetic. But I will acknowledge I’ve been gone because these last two months have been transformational. Sometimes you have to step away from the noise - or be pulled away, in my case - to clearly hear what God is saying and act on it. Sometimes you have to give up something{s} you love, not because they are bad, but because they’ve ascended too high on your priority list. And sometimes you have to share your messiness with the internet world, because you never know who needs to hear these words:

3 months ago…

a very dear friend confronted me about my blog. She thought it was an unhealthy way to deal with my issues about body image. It appeared that instead of confiding in a friend or counselor about my struggles, I was hiding behind posts on food and exercise and receiving affirmation through comments from strangers.

She was worried about my emotional and mental health, and I’m forever grateful for friends who aren’t afraid to confront me on the tough things in life. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I decided that she was a little off in her conclusion. Though, I couldn’t shake the feeling of truth behind her words.

A long battle against the devil’s lies that I am not beautiful enough - not worthy enough - not disciplined enough are certainly part of my history, and I will always wear those scars. But they are a constant reminder of God’s incredible healing work in my life. It’s from this healing I developed a love for a wholesome approach to healthy living.

Exercise, real food and a good night’s sleep are things I’m passionate about, so they naturally became the things I wrote about. Your comments were always encouraging, but they were never my standard of worth. However, my friend’s words forced me to really examine the role blogging plays in my life.

2 months ago…

I attended the Living Proof Live conference with Beth Moore in Memphis with my mom. Honestly, I wasn’t ready for a FedExForum full of estrogen, but God rarely takes us on the path of least resistance. In the middle of all the crying and the handholding and the long lines to the bathroom, God spoke to me from Luke 8:26-29. “Where does the devil have a foothold in your life?” He asked. “What’s keeping you from an abundant life in me?”


It’s such a nasty word. But my Type A personality wants to cuddle it like a soft, furry little puppy and never let it go. The disconnect between my knowledge and behavior is almost laughable. I know that I know that I have no control over my life, yet I meticulously plan every single detail. And that’s where you could find the devil’s disgusting fingerprints.

These attempts at control manifested most in my efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise plans, new recipes, grocery lists, weigh-ins, food logs, sleep schedules, and writing blog posts about all of the above were consuming my time. I was passionate about my physical health, but my spiritual health began to suffer. The big question I left that weekend pondering was “What could God do with all the time I spend focusing on my health?”

1 month ago…

I discovered the answer to that question. I put my scale in the back of my closet. I created a simple workout routine, but I don’t sweat it if I miss a session or two. I try new recipes, but mostly stick with the basics. I don’t write down everything I eat. I don’t count my calories. I don’t cut out food groups. And - the biggie - I stopped blogging.

The last thing was probably the game changer. If you’re part of the blogging community, you know exactly what a time-suck it can be. All of a sudden, I was available. Available for mid-week dates with my husband. Available for phone calls with college housemates. Available for Bible study on “whatever night works for you.” Available for a Sunday afternoon nap. And most importantly, available for God to work in meaningful ways in my life. Available to experience the abundance and joy that can only be found in Him.  

I certainly don’t think my blogging career is over - I constantly have the itch to write - but you’ll probably never read a “What I Ate Wednesday” post on Pretty Is As Pretty Does again. This is me checking it out of the blogging “game” of link-ups and sponsorships and replying to every. single. comment. I might post twice a month or twice a day, but my time will no longer be “controlled” by an unrealistic blogging schedule or expectations.

I’m daily learning to align my actions with my knowledge and give up this attitude that I “control” everything in my life - including this blog - by His grace alone and for His glory alone.

So in the words of my favorite guy in the world, “I’ll see you… when I see you.”

What high thing or foothold is preventing you from experiencing a life of abundance?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

wanted: a running buddy

Today I’m linking up with Amanda from The Lady Okie and Beka from Sunshine to the Square Inch for the Runner’s Tell All link-up. The theme for this week is “Training Routine,” which I shared in detail in this post on the FIRST training program. I competed in the Elvis Presley 5k on Saturday, and I’m using my finish time of 23:00 minutes to plan my training paces for the St. Jude Marathon on December 6. I started training this week, and it’s going to be tough but worth it! Since I already shared all about my training program, I thought I’d do something a little different for this post…

WANTED: A Running Buddy

1. Female - I have no problem with running with guys, especially when I get to run ahead of them. In fact, guys have been some of my best running partners {shout out to Dad, Nick, Brian, Coach Creamer and very, very occasionally Daniel}, but they were all close friends and family. If I’m going to be running with a semi-stranger, I’d feel way more comfortable if they were a woman. Sorry, fellas!

2. Morning Person - I like to wake up early to fit my workout in. And by early, I mean 5:00 a.m. If that makes you want to cry, then we’re probably not right for each other. My evenings are crazy and unpredictable, and I’d much rather spend that time hanging out with friends and family. You might feel the same way.

3. 7:00 - 9:00 Minute Pace - I don’t really like putting this qualification on my list, because I’m proud of anyone who laces up and hits the road no matter how fast or slow they run. It’s a huge mental battle, and just getting out there is a ginormous accomplishment. However, I am in the middle of training, and my scheduled runs have specific paces of anywhere from 7:06 to 9:11 per mile. If you couldn’t run with me, then that would kind of defeat the purpose of having a running buddy.

4. Competitive - I hesitate to put this on my list, because I’m really competitive and I could see things getting heated real quick. But I need someone to hold me accountable and push me to go harder. Someone with a no excuses, no quitting mentality. Someone who wants to kick it in as hard as they can for the last stretch.

5. High Tolerance for All Things Disgusting - I’m not a pretty girl when I work out. I don’t have matching outfits. I don’t wear makeup. And I certainly don’t spend more than two minutes on my hair. No, I sweat. A lot. Like think of the sweatiest, stinkiest boy you know then multiply that by 10. I sweat more than that. And confession time - running shakes everything up inside of me. And if I happen to be off my normal bowel schedule, things might get stinky. TMI? If you want to be my running partner, you have to be prepared for me to be real. Because running Jenny is a real as Jenny gets.

And if you somehow made it through qualifications 1-5, you get bonus points if you like to cross train and strength train. If you want to go for a bike ride or lift some weights, too, that’s just a bonus!

As you can probably tell, I haven’t had a running partner in a while. Actually, I probably have never had a consistent running buddy. Maybe I need to scale back my expectations. Or, maybe I'm just meant to be a lone runner. Either way, if you know anyone that fits all of the above {and lives near me}, please send them my way.

What is your ideal running partner like?

Sunshine to the Square Inch

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

wiaw #4 - we eat a lot of mexican food

We were on our way back from wedding #3 with four hours of interstate behind us and another to go when I realized there would be no food awaiting us on our return home. Immediately, we started scanning exit signs looking for something to fill our bellies. After three McDonalds, two Taco Bells and four Subways, Daniel turned to me and said words that I've heard way too often in our single year together:

"I just want Mexican {food}."

Less than 60 seconds later he had pulled up the closest Mexican restaurant on his phone and we were taking the next exit. With no idea what to expect, we pulled up to a restaurant attached to a run-down Motel 6 with an empty parking lot and blinking "open" sign. The inside was a blinding explosion of color with a broken and empty fountain in the middle of the floor. I headed straight for the bathroom with it's blue toilet painted with an elaborate floral pattern. When I washed my hands, the mirror almost fell on me.

But the food. The food was absolutely delicious. I had what we love to call "Stephen's Special" with fajita chicken, rice and cheese dip AND the addition of bacon! Daniel had a plate full of enchiladas. We left thoroughly satisfied.

And, apparently we didn't get enough, because I fixed Mexican {inspired} food two more times that week.

#1 Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Lime Dressing from The Garden Grazer

Pros: Easy. Simple Ingredients. Quick fix. I think we eat Mexican food so much because it makes great meatless meals. This is one of them. Daniel likes to say his favorite food in the world is black beans, but I think he's just making fun of me because I have so many cans in the pantry. Recipes like these are the reason why.

Cons: Not the most flavorful or delicious meal in the world and certainly not Stephen's Special, but it's a good quick weekday night dinner.

#2 Sweet Potato BLT Frittata from Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Pros: Frittatas are my new favorite meal. Not only are eggs cheaper than traditional meat, but this is the best way to use those leftover veggies that are about to go to waste. Last time I used asparagus and kale, this time I used spinach and tomatoes and a couple of sweet potatoes that really needed to be used.

Cons: Daniel isn't a huge frittata fan. He says he would prefer quiche. So next time you see an egg dish it will probably have a crust!

#3 Salsa Chicken from Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Pros: This was the first dish I ever made with my first crockpot almost two years ago. I don't really have a page to link to, so I'll just give you the lowdown real quick.

- 4 frozen chicken breasts
- 1-2 cups of salsa
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can of corn
- 1 packet of taco seasoning {or 1 tbsp of homemade seasoning}

1. Place chicken in crockpot.
2. Pour all the ingredients on top. {Be sure to rinse your black beans and drain your corn.}
3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
4. Shred it up with a fork and serve on rice, chips, tortillas, sweet potatoes or whatever you prefer.

Cons: No cons. Just do it.

#4 No Bake Chocolate Coconut Oil Cookies from The Honour System

Pros: I made these during my lunch break so it was quick and easy with only one dirty dish left over. I wanted to make something special to surprise my studying-so-hard-for-Monday's-test dental student, and these were perfect. And he loved them {and I did, too}. BONUS: They were a lot more healthy than the usual no bake cookie recipe.

Cons: You need coconut sugar to make them which is a little expensive. I was also out of peanut butter so I had to use almond butter, which made them more expensive, but also probably made them taste different. So I can't honestly tell you how the original recipe tastes.

Do you love Mexican food as much as us? What's your favorite Mexican dish?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

sugar-free, that's me

Hello, my name is Jenny, and I’m addicted to sugar.

Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. I’m pretty open about my love for all things chocolate, but these past couple of weeks I’ve been watching my diet slowly spiral out of control. Because like most addictions, a little bit of sugar makes you crave a little more and then a little more and then, wow, I really just ate that entire pint of ice cream.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.* He states, “In one study, Harvard scientists found that a high-sugar milkshake {compared to a low-sugar one} not only spiked blood sugar and insulin and led to sugar cravings, but it caused huge changes in the brain. The sugar lit up the addiction center in the brain like the sky on the Fourth of July.”

And to make things worse the average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar each year. That’s like swallowing 22 teaspoons of sugar day. Yuck!

But on top of the biological and the cultural, it doesn’t help that I tend to eat my feelings, either. Stressed? Sad? Frustrated? Angry? Lonely? Ridiculously happy? That calls for some chocolate. And maybe a brownie, too. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s a reward system. It’s a feeling fighter. It’s a celebration call. And I spend way too much time contemplating on whether I should accept that cookie from my coworker, convincing myself that just one won’t hurt and then feeling guilty later.

So for the next 10 days, the answer will be simply, “No.”

No chocolate. No cookies. No ice cream. No brownies. No sugar.

I’ve been thinking back to my Whole30 program and how clean and healthy and energized I felt, and I’ve been craving a reset like that. During this time in my life, another Whole30 is out of the question, but I think a 10-day sugar detox is just what I need. Because it’s incredible all the ways sugar shows up in all the foods you eat.

No store-bought bread. No salad dressings. No pre-made spaghetti sauce. No Quaker’s oatmeal. No flavored yogurt. All have added sugar.

So for the next 10 days, I’m going to stay away from packaged goods and homemade treats and focus on protein, veggies and fresh fruit.

And why am I telling you this? Because telling you holds me accountable. And you can’t do something like this without accountability.

So, here it goes. Wish me luck!

Have you ever completed a sugar detox? Want to join me?


Monday, August 18, 2014

run, forrest, run

I didn’t know the movie Forrest Gump existed until about 4th or 5th grade. And it didn’t take long after the realization to wish that it would un-exist. It was that awkward year before entering youth group, and I just really, really wanted the older kids to like me. Unfortunately, all the older kids insisted on calling me "Jen-ay," and saying things like “Run, Forrest, run!” and “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is, Jen-ay” every chance they got.

Looking back on it now, I knew they were just having fun and not making fun at all. But I wasn’t even old enough to see the movie, much less know what they were talking about. I remember finally convincing my mom to let me watch the movie, and my brother’s babysitter {I was old enough to stay by myself but not old enough to watch my three younger brothers} sitting by the TV, ready to fast forward through any inappropriate scenes.

I came away from that movie with only one opinion: I did not want to be “Jen-ay.”

Yet, the nickname still sticks. To this day, I’ll meet a stranger - tell them my name - and they’ll respond, “Jen-ay? My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’” Did she?

So what is this monologue leading up to? The Elvis Presley 5k. Because Forrest taught Elvis how to dance. And Forrest likes to run - he likes to run really, really far. And it’s only logical to be thinking about Forrest Gump and childhood nicknames when you’re waiting at the starting line for the Elvis Presley 5k surrounded by fake sideburns and gold aviators. 

So this Saturday I ran in the Elvis Presley 5k. When I decided I was going to run in the St. Jude Marathon this spring and use the FIRST training program, I knew I would need an accurate 5k time to assess my fitness level and determine my training paces for the December marathon. It just worked out perfectly that I would have 12 weeks to train for this 5k and then 16 weeks to train for the marathon.

I haven’t competed in a 5k in at least three years, so I had no idea what to expect. I used my typical long-run pace of a 9:00-min mile to train for the 5k, and was incredibly happy with how much faster I was getting in only a couple of months. My last couple of tempo runs, I was hitting a 7:30 pace - without the assistance of a treadmill - so I knew I could do something similar with the added adrenaline of the race. I set my goal at 23:00 min, knowing it would be a stretch.

The race itself was incredibly entertaining. There were so many men AND women dressed up like the king of rock ’n roll. The weather was perfect, and the course was lightly hill-y - enough to fill it but not enough to hate it. 

Oh, and then there was the added factor that I had to run in my glasses for the first time since 4th grade because I contracted some sort of eye bacteria and my optometrist took away my contacts for a week. I didn’t even have time to get in a practice run with them, so I was pretty worried that they would be sliding down my face the entire time or fogging up from the heat coming off my face. Turns out they didn’t bother me at all - and they provided a nice distraction from the fact that my body was on fire from running such a fast pace.

The 3-mile route was pretty uneventful. I could tell from the 1st & 2nd mile markers that I was on pace to hit my goal, but I could also feel myself slowing down significantly in the last mile. I kept telling myself not to be a baby and ruin things with only a mile to go. Run, Jen-ay, run! 

When I turned the corner for the final stretch, I knew I only had a minute to make it to the finish line, and it was so. far. away. Thankfully, it was downhill so I kicked it in and ignored the loud siren going off in my brain, screaming at me to slow down. When I crossed the finish line the time said 23:02. My watch said 23:02. Only two stinking seconds! And then started the if only’s…

If only I hadn’t slowed down that last mile.
If only I had kicked a little bit harder at the end. I could have kicked harder.
If only I hadn’t worn these glasses - they totally messed up my mojo.
If only I had shaved my legs, that lack of air resistance would have easily made up two seconds.

The best husband in the world who woke up at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning the weekend before a huge test and took pictures and of whom I can not say enough about met me at the finish line with a huge smile and a bottle of water. Together we headed to the after-party area and a woman asked me if I wanted to see my official time. “Sure!”

And there it was. The official piece of paper said my time was 23:00 exactly. Apparently it took me 2 seconds to get to the starting line before the race and I hadn’t considered that in my calculations. I had hit my goal. Exactly. I had also finished 2nd in my age division, 12th of the women and 66th overall. Way better than I could ever have expected.

And now that I have my 5k time and current fitness level, I now know that I’ll be training for a 3:45 {3 hour, 45 minute} marathon finish! Can’t wait to get started!

By the way, I’m less than $200 away from my fundraising goal for St. Jude. That’s only 20 people giving $10 each. Your money goes directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the fight against childhood cancer. Your donation helps pay for these children's treatments so their families don’t have to, and every dollar makes a difference! Help me reach that goal by donating here. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far!

Have you ever run in a 5k? Was it themed? What was your childhood nickname?

Linking up with Leslie for What You Wish Wednesday!