Monday, June 25, 2012

Diary of a Newbie Runner: Restarting My Running Life

{By Ellery Sadler}

After a lengthy 10 week vacation from running (because of knee injuries, not just laziness!) I have begun to run again and by 'begun' I mean start over. Take this piece of sage advice from a wizened old runner – if you start do not stop, and if you stop do not start again unless you have great mental strength and stamina.

I actually started running again by accident. I was all prepared to do my beloved P90X on a hot June morning, when my sisters and mom informed me that they were running (i.e. that I should run too). That threw me off. I like to plan to run beforehand so that I can ‘get my head in the game’ as Hailey always says when heading out for anything longer than 10 miles. I need to get my head in the game for anything longer than 1 mile. And this was going to be 3. For the first time in 10 weeks. Yikes!

But since I am bold and fearless Amazon-woman type,  I ran upstairs and grabbed my running shoes and headed back down with, when I glanced in the mirror, the halo-crowned face of a martyr. So we headed out.

A long black paved road stretched out before us, four adventurers seeking pain – exercise I mean, how could I forget? – camaraderie, and the glories of a hot summer day. It started out fine, my knees were not hurting, my music was playing, the sun was shining, and I was once again feeling that thrill known as the runner’s high. But do you know what is even more memorable that the runner’s high? The runner’s low. And that is what this run soon became.

After about a mile and a half, I desperately wished we were home again. My side cramped and felt like someone was twisting my bones into sharp knots. My knees hurt so I ran along the side of the road in the grass, which was scratchy and filled with bugs. My eyes glazed over. This was bad. This what I remembered running like – on my long vacation I had fondly remembered only the good runs, where it was cool and breezy and I was feeling fine – but this was not at all like that.

On top of all that, my two older sisters were gliding before me like elusive gazelles, and my mom was like this machine, just ahead, just out of reach, always going. And me? I was like an exhausted snail. Or caterpillar, inching its way along in the hot sun and hoping not to get squished in the process. Not very flattering, I know, but I try to be honest in these posts, and that is the cold, hard, honest, truth. As we rounded the bend, I almost wished I would twist my ankle, or that my knees would hurt badly enough for me to stop. But I didn’t twist my ankle  and technically my knees weren’t hurting that  bad... So I pressed on, following my fleet-footed relatives towards home.

Home. It’s a beautiful word. And a beautiful place. Especially after a run. I slowed gratefully to a walk as we came to our mailbox and turned off my music with a relieved sigh. First run after injury – check! It was victory. Running is always a victory. I highly recommend it as a mental sport, physical activity, great way to get your heart-rate up, and a way to get a daily victory in thirty minutes or less! But wait there’s more! Please be cautioned that before attempting this far-from-human feat that it is not fun, nor is it painless. I now remember the feeling of I-think-I-am-going-to-die. Running is the combination of two extreme emotions: I am dying and I just finished a run which = VICTORY! 

And so the tale of my love-hate relationship begins again. Believe me, there is nothing like being a newbie runner. 

If you are one, claim it. 

If you aren’t because you never run – get up off that couch and become one. 

And if you aren’t because you’ve been running for years and are no longer a newbie, then keep up the good work. You are my hero. Also, you’d better be fast because I’m going to catch up to you. Eventually. 
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Diary of a Newbie Runner: Life of Leisure Gone Awry

{By Ellery Sadler}

I never thought of myself as a devoted runner, or a very willing one. I always ran because it was something I just did. People in my family run, and while I occasionally felt the ‘runners high’ it was rare and normally only after a grueling hour and a half of misery. It was after one of these long runs (9 miles to be precise) I felt a twinge of pain in my knees... not really a twinge actually, more like a searing pain. And that was the day a tragedy happened.

At first I did not realize it was a tragedy – it felt like a wonderful little break from my running routine.

 My knees were actually hurting too badly to run. Tragedy? I don’t think so. My first week of rest was delightful, relaxing, and made me wonder why I’d ever run in the first place. I got up in the morning to beautiful days without any sweat or tears. (By the way I don’t normally cry when I run, except for once or twice when I was in extreme pain, but it sounded good in that sentence.) So the first week rolled around. Life as a couch potato was looking pretty good.

The second week came and I began to get a little desperate, after all, I had a half marathon to run in only four more weeks, so I started doing strength training two or three times a weeks, to at least keep up what muscle I had. That was all fine and good. I was planning on running the next week.

Week three. I tried to trot a little on the treadmill – trot, mind you, not even run – and the results were negative. I knew that my knees were injured and if I kept running they’d only get worse. They hurt for the rest of the day and I knew there was no way I was doing that again anytime soon. My heart began to sink. What if I never got to run again? It had been three weeks since that awful 9 miles … and they were still hurting. Life as a couch potato was looking pretty bleak.

By week four I was very desperate. I’d never wanted to run so bad in my life. How ironic is that? Me wanting to run?! But it was true and I had to face the awful truth: that silly saying ‘you never know how much you have until you lose it’ was right. I wanted to run. And I couldn’t.  Maybe I only wanted to because I couldn’t … whatever the reason I wanted to run. Resting for one week is bliss. Resting for two weeks is fine. Three weeks is ok. Four weeks is misery. A life of leisure is not fun or exciting. So I decided if I couldn’t run, I’d do something. I started doing P90X every morning and do you know what I discovered? You can sometimes get a ‘runner’s high’ doing strength training! And that is pretty cool.

By week five I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that half marathon. I was disappointed. This was going to be my moment of glory, the goal I at last, after hours of pain and heartache, achieved, my crowning moment, but I was destined not to reach it, at least for the time being. Now, since I am a Christian writing this for a fundamentally Christian blog, I could go all moral-of-the-story and tell you how this relates to more than just running, after all, we will always face disappointment in life, and this running experience is a wonderful cheesy analogy of …. But I’ll skip that.  The point is, much to my great surprise, I actually miss running. And if you learn anything from my experience it should be this: don’t train exclusively on pavement. It you have a soft, sandy dirt road right beside your house – use it. Oh, and don’t forget you never know how much you enjoy something until you can’t do it anymore, even if while you are doing it you think you hate it. Don’t believe yourself. You love it. 
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Healthy Snacking!

{By Samantha Roose}

You wander around the kitchen wondering what you should eat...Your tummy’s rumbling.  And the next meal isn’t for another 2 hours!  What is healthy, enjoyable and will get me to the next meal?

Well, here’s a couple of recommendations and recipes…some not quite so healthy as others:

- 1 apple smeared with peanut butter or almond butter

- 1 banana smeared with peanut butter or almond butter

- Celery Sticks smeared with peanut butter or almond butter (can you tell I like nut butters???)

- A baby dill pickle rolled in a slice of ham lined with creamy cheese (this is one of my FAVORITES, but it’s not the healthiest option out there)

- A piece of lunch meat and a slice of cheese wrapped in lettuce (another of my favorites)

- Trail Mix

Trail Mix:

  • ¼ C walnuts
  • ¼ C peanuts
  • ¼ C almonds
  • ¼ C raisins
  • ¼ C craisins (dried cranberries)
  • ¼ C chocolate chips : D

Basically any combination of dried fruits and nuts in equal amounts.  Some other fun ideas: dried mango, dried papaya, dried pineapple!!!, sunflower seeds, cashews!!!...)  Have fun!  One caution though; get yourself a measuring cup (about ¼ C) and measure your portion or you might just eat the entire container!

- Veggies with Humus

  • 2 cans of chick peas/garbanzo beans (one drained, one slightly drained)
  • 1/ C olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2/3 C sesame seeds

Everything in the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until sesame seeds are pureed and the consistency is even throughout. Feel free to play around with more lemon juice, more garlic, and or more sesame seeds for an extra zing!

Hopefully you can survive till your next meal and maybe even enjoy healthy snacking!!! 

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Diary of a Newbie Runner: Crazy Resolutions and Lost in a Strange City

{by Ellery Sadler}

Smart people stick to conservative New Year’s resolutions, ones they know they can keep, or refuse to make them at all. Me? I like to go for the daring, the amazing, the unimaginably scary resolutions... such as sign up for a half-marathon! Yep that’s right: I, a timid runner, sane, and normal person just signed up for that crazy thing only crazy people do. And what’s more – I’m telling you about it. Now I can’t back out.

A week into my training plan we went down to South Carolina. I, hoping for a leisurely vacation, was surprised when my older sisters and mom enthusiastically prepared for a run that Saturday morning. What’s more, my dad was going along too. Determined not to be outdone, I grudgingly laced up my running shoes, grimly shoved in my earplugs, and covered my face in sunglasses. I love sunglasses - if they're big, they can cover enough of your face that even if you’re hot and tired you can still look good. I glanced in the mirror and saw a super-fit, chic, marathon champion staring back at me. Ok, this was looking good. 

As we headed out it was decided we would try a new route, a small gravel path along the marsh that our friends had told us about. They said it was only about three miles. Did that mean three miles there and back? Or three miles there and three miles back? I warily eyed the winding path through the woods. I’ll bet it was three out and three back. The path had large, southern-style houses and woods on one side, and a beautiful marsh on the other. It really was quite scenic but I wasn’t going to be taken in by its beauty. I’d had a scenic six-miler before and almost died.

We ran. And ran. And ran. I was beginning to be in pain. My mom, the athletic running-machine, was encouraging me and my dad to keep going, Hailey was up ahead jamming to her music, Brittany kept sporadically reminding me of how ‘beautiful!’ and ‘gorgeous!’ the scenery was. It didn’t look so great to me. This trail never ends. I caught up with Hailey and voiced my concern in a low whisper. What if this trail literally went all the way up the South Carolina coast? I could already see the headlines: “Family Lost on Scenic Run Leaving Two Children and Three Guinea Pigs Stranded in Strange City.” It was looking pretty bleak.

We passed a young couple, a large group with a few dogs, and a dad with a toddler and they all seemed to know where they were going. We did not. We just kept running. The problem I’ve found with scenic places is that it all looks the same and it’s very easy to get lost. How do you tell one tree from the next? Did we turn at the big tree? Or was it that other big tree? I looked at my watch in desperation - we’d been out for forty-five minutes and counting. I whispered in a low tone to Hailey “I think we’d better go back.” She agreed!

But not my mom or Brittany. No, they decided that we should go back on the actual road and not the little path. We were forty-five minutes down a trail and they wanted to cut across the road and head back through a complicated neighborhood. Now, it is well known in my family that I have no sense of direction whatsoever, so if I ever say go one way everyone goes the opposite… but I could tell that neither of them knew where we were or how to get home either. This was looking even bleaker. We turned left down a pavement street. And left again. And again. Yep, we were lost. I could tell by that depressed feeling that came over my soul. I would have to run miles and miles to get home…if we ever got home at all.

But to my surprise after a few more turns we were right back where we started and Brittany, with a triumphant smile, headed around the lake for a victory lap, feeling too good to come home with us quite yet. I breathed a sigh of surprised relief and headed back to the house. A narrow escape. Sure death of either starvation or exhaustion was averted once again. I came. I ran. I returned. Glancing in the mirror I saw a panting, slightly crippled, red-faced me. Hhhmm. Normal. 

One week of training down. Thirteen more to go. 
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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Girl with a Gun: A Challenge from Regis Giles


Described as a "loud mouth, young conservative focused on promoting self-defense and hunting," in the bio on her website titled, "Girls Just Wanna Have Guns", Regis Giles is passionate about protecting gun rights as well as encouraging women to take action to prepare themselves for "any threat they may encounter." She has been a featured speaker at CPAC, columnist for the NRA, and host of the new T.V. show, Primal Urge. And here is what Regis has to share with us at InsideOut Girl:

Being a self-defense and gun advocate did not randomly come to my mind as a lifetime pursuit.  As a child, age nine to be specific, I became active at the gun range and on the blue mats of the Valente Brothers Jiu-Jitsu academy.  My parents decided they wanted my sister and me to learn how to defend ourselves and operate a gun.  They understood that knowing these techniques were not only important for defending ourselves, but also in building our self-confidence and living a disciplined life style. 

Hunting eventually came along as well.  When I was thirteen I shot my first animal, a wild boar, with my granddad’s 30/30 Marlin.  I have never missed an opportunity to go hunt since then.  Being outdoors and active is one of my favorite things; however, place a gun in my hand and a hunting license too, then I am happier than a girl with a new pair of shoes.  The adventure, danger, and being in the wilderness, is what I love so much about hunting.  The outdoors are uncontrollable and learning how to handle what it throws at you and being able to adapt is another aspect of hunting I adore. 
Learning Jiu-Jitsu, how to shoot and hunt wasn’t easy. It was sometimes even uncomfortable; however, that didn’t prevent me from pursuing these skills.  Because I enjoyed doing each activity so much, I learned how to persevere through the hard times, which inevitably taught me the life lesson you must go through the bad to get the good. I have never stopped learning how to hunt, shoot and fight, and I don’t think I will ever stop.  Each field offers something new and different to discover every time.  I believe that is why I am so obsessed with them.
So, InsideOut Girl here is my challenge for you.  If you do not know how to protect your own life, go out and learn!  It is your life after all and learning how to protect it is what I like to call a “safe investment”.  Preferably, I would suggest learning how to shoot a gun, operate a knife and do Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (self-defense Jiu-Jitsu, not sport).  Learning each of these skills will make you a well rounded butt kicking individual, which would make any attacker sorry they picked on you. 
Lastly, go hunting.  Get yourself out of the mall and place yourself in God’s glorious playground.  You will learn the way the world operates away from society and if the zombie apocalypse really does happen, you have a head start on surviving it.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

How to Eat Through the Holidays... Healthfully!

{by Rebecca Florio}

It’s that most wonderful time of year! A time where everywhere you go, you are met with chocolate bon-bons, candy canes and tin upon tin of Christmas cookies. What’s a healthy girl to do?
Get ready, we’re about to make a game plan for staying healthy during the holidays --- without losing a jolly spirit!
  1. Plan Your Indulgences. I love the smells filling the air -- gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pie, and peppermint mochas. By no means should you feel deprived of special treats that only come once a year! Just be sure to indulge thoughtfully. Save your sweet tooth for your Mom’s signature sugar cookie and leave behind the packaged “unspecial” Chips A’hoy. When at a holiday get-together, choose the one dessert that most appeals to you or take mini “sampling” portions and then fill the rest of your plate with veggies and fruit. Indulging thoughtfully makes the treats you make room for so much more enjoyable!

  1. Plan Your WorkoutsExercise is so important to maintaining a healthy attitude and lifestyle! But I know how hard it is to wake up after a night of cookies and cocoa and pull yourself from under warm toasty covers so you can run in the frigid cold. This is why planning your workouts ahead of time is so important. I usually work out five days a week, alternating between running and strength training and always before I go to bed, I set my alarm, write out my exercise plan and lay out my work-out clothes. When I wake up with a workout all ready and waiting for me, it is much harder to say no! I also find that starting the day with exercise sets the pace for making healthier choices all day.  
  1. Plan Your MealsAlong with workouts, give veggies some extra love this Christmas season. With cookie bakes and parties abounding, focus your meals at home on packing as much nutritious foods in as possible. Think big salads, roasted vegetables, green smoothies, and stir-frys. Fill your purse with healthy snacks like granola bars and carrot sticks for a long day of Christmas shopping.
  1. Plan to ContributeWhenever I go to a Christmas party or dinner, I always offer to bring a dish. This way, I know that there will be at least one healthy option! Some of my favorite contributions are raw veggies with dip, fruit salad, pita chips with pumpkin dip, a big healthy salad, or cookies with a healthy twist. The hostess will be grateful for your help and I find most people appreciate a nutritious dish in a table of decadent ones! 
  1. Plan to Enjoy. If you make some unhealthy choices this season, don’t fret. There will time to get back on track. Most important is to truly celebrate Christmas. We all know that Christmas isn’t really about the candy-canes and hot chocolate, so lets focus on loving our family and friends, making memories, and most of all, worshipping the Christ Child. May our hearts be filled with Him and the wonder of His birth.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Diary of a Newbie Runner: A 10K Worth Dying For... Or, 6 Miles of Scenic Misery

{by Ellery Sadler}

I just ran a 10k. Yes, much to my great surprise, I am still alive. I now have an even greater respect, bordering on hero-worship, of anyone who runs 6 miles or longer. So all you experienced, seasoned runners out there – you are my HERO. And I hope you’re still alive to read this.

After a night of nervous sleep, I crawled out of bed and we headed out to Williamsburg for our 10k. My two older sisters, mom, and dad were all running this too. I felt a little jittery and hoped beyond hope that my side wouldn’t cramp up for at least the first 3 miles… I stretched and hopped around feeling nervous but also pleasingly like a dedicated runner. I was out, early in the morning, freezing to death, jumping around, stretching in weird positions - all because I loved my sport. Yep, I was pretty cool. And then we started…

First thing, my iPod didn’t work. I thought I’d charged it the night before but apparently I hadn’t. It was dead. Great, I hadn’t even gone ten steps before I was nearly in tears. I can’t run without music. I’ve done it once before for a short run, and it was misery – pure misery. So now here I was stuck with running 6 miles without music and I already had a bad pain in my side. Really, really bad situation for an already nervous, under-confident newbie runner.

Mile 1 passed quickly, but then came Mile 2. Now, I’ve read that you don’t ‘hit the wall’ until Mile 18 or 20 but I’m quite certain I hit the wall at Mile 3, 4, 5, and 6. Or if not ‘the wall’ then a very hard, locked door. Thankfully, my wonderful sister let me borrow her iPod. I had MUSIC and distraction from my pain. I put my head down and tried to focus as we wound our way through a gravel path in the woods.

By Mile 3 the pain in my side left me so crippled I could barely walk, every step was agony (and I’m not exaggerating) it was the worst cramp I’ve ever had…and I still had 3 more miles to go. The rest of my family went up ahead while I hobbled behind. By now I was pretty sure this whole running thing was a really bad idea. I told myself never again – ever – was I going to run, but even as I crept along I knew that wasn’t true. I would run again. And I would finish this silly race.

I started running, side still hurting but determined with every bit of determination in me to keep up with the two, slightly chubby, middle-aged women ahead of me. If I, a moderately fit sixteen-year-old couldn’t keep up with them then… I kept up with them. Victory! Passed them. Kept running and passed a walker. Up ahead I saw a nine-year-old running with his dad. My new goal – keep up with the nine-year-old. My mantra became ‘Run with the nine-year-old. Run with the nine-year-old.’  

I didn’t see the red-gold leaves. I didn’t see the sun-dappled pond, or the beautiful scenic scenery around me. All I saw was a skinny little nine-year-old up ahead. I had to stick with the nine-year-old – even if it killed me, I was going to do it. Mile 4 passed with a torture-like slowness. Nine-year-old still up ahead. Mile 5. Look at the fat fifty-year-old guy in front of you wheezing with every step and be thankful you aren’t in that much pain...oh wait you are. I stopped comparing myself to the people around me and focused on just finishing the race. Just finish the race. That was my goal.

I caught up with my mom and dad and continued running. My mom, a running machine, looked at me and smiled encouragingly. All I could muster was a bleak mimic of something vaguely like a smile. We ran and ran and ran. How long is a mile? About long enough to make your heart pound and your head throb and your side ache and your legs feel like lead. We finally made it to the home stretch, only one more mile to go. I flipped the iPod to ‘If You’re Going Through Hell’ by Rodney Atkins, which was the only song that remotely comforted me at this point. I passed the nine-year-old.

Eyes glazed over, not even strong enough to pretend to smile now I sprinted across the finish line. There were my sisters, who had finished before me, waiting to give me a high five. “Hey how was it?” they smiled and asked. “I’m dying,” was the only answer I could give. Not to discourage you, but the first ten minutes after a grueling run are the worst, you feel lightheaded and weak and dizzy and drained. I sank to the grass with a bottle of water and gulped it down as if I were dying of thirst instead of exhaustion.

After a while to recover comes my favorite part, feeling better, smiling at the people passing by, eating a cinnamon-sugar bagel and being casually athletic – yep, I just ran 6 miles. I finished a 10k and I’m ALIVE! And I’m going to do it again. 
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Beauty From the Inside Out

{by Kelly Riddell}
Howdy and warm greetings to all of you from the wonderful state of Texas!  I am so grateful for this opportunity to write a guest post on this new encouraging blog.

A few years ago, I was able to travel to Virginia with my sisters Tara and Elizabeth and the Rebsch girls to join the Sadler girls in holding a conference for young ladies. What a joy it was to become acquainted with them. One of my great desires has been to encourage young ladies in the ways of our Savior and at this conference; I enjoyed teaching the girls natural beauty tips!

I would like to share with all of you some different ideas and thoughts on the subject of inward and outward beauty.  What does it mean to be truly beautiful?  How can I make myself attractive as a Christian young woman? How do I spend time in front of the mirror without obsessing and becoming too focused on myself and my outward appearance? These are all important questions, ones that girls ask and ones that need to be addressed.

First of all, true beauty could never start on the outside and work its way inward. The world would have us believe that if we will buy the newest and latest expensive beauty products, shop the latest fads and styles, and someday get enough facials and plastic surgeries; we will be well on our way to being perfectly gorgeous!!! Guess what? This is completely wrong! True beauty is not something that can be merely worn on the outside, without your inward condition spilling out from the inside.

A long time ago, there was an older young lady that I was acquainted with. I always looked up to her, admired her and used her as my beauty and fashion icon. I thought she was very attractive and I was always excited to observe what she wore, how she fixed her hair, makeup etc. I recently saw this woman again and wondered how I ever could have admired her and wanted to copy her.  All I saw was a woman hardened by life and used by the pull of the world’s pleasures and vanities.

You see girls, when we are focused on pleasing our heavenly Father instead of our peers with our outward appearance; our outward beauty only gets sweeter and sweeter with time. Girls, no matter how much we try and try, we all know our outward beauty just will not last forever.  True beauty will be with us always. So what is this beauty of the heart that seems to be so essential to true beauty? The answer is having a living relationship with our heavenly Father. It is the outward proof of Christ working within to conform us into the image of his Son.

After beginning by focusing on the heart, I am passionate in my belief that it is important to pay attention to our outward appearance. After all, God looks at the heart, but man looks on the outward appearance, right?  (1 Samuel 16:7)   Let’s be a good representative to the world of our Lord and Savior.

It is impossible to give you a list of rules of what makeup to wear, what hairstyle and so on because we are all so different. Let me just give you some general guidelines.

As far as hairstyles, I fought my curly hair for many years. We live in the hot humid south and it seemed impossible to control the tendency toward frizz. A few years ago, I decided to stop straightening and just learned to enjoy the curls God chose for me. Once I discovered mousse, I was able to keep it all under control!  I would encourage each of you to work with the hair the Lord has blessed you with. Recently, while shopping, I came across some tiny braids that you add into your hair as a hair band but I was disappointed that there were none that came close to the color of my hair. Suddenly, I realized that I had plenty of hair to create my own so I tried braiding two small pieces from behind my ears and crossing them over my head to create bands! I have received many compliments on them!

In the area where I live, women wear a lot of makeup. It is not considered gaudy or flirtatious; it seems it is just the way it is! In some of my travels to other areas, I have noticed that the women there wear very little makeup or none at all. Because there is such a variation in what is acceptable, I believe it would be wise to ask your father and mother what they feel is appropriate for you. My sisters and I went through a time when we thought more was better! We have since arrived at a point where we prefer to look more natural, just enhancing the features God has given us. After all, do you want people to look at you or your makeup?

One area I always covered in my sessions was not to over pluck those eyebrows! In general, your eyebrows should begin directly over the most inner part of your eyes. Too much plucking can create an odd look and sometimes those brows may not grow back! 

One of the greatest beauty tips I have is to exercise! It will help you to feel better and look better too!  Our library contains hundreds of exercise DVD’s and I love to rent them and try them out. I have found some favorites and try others for variety. Running or walking is a great activity when the weather allows.

Good nutrition is another backbone of beauty! I gave up sodas years ago.  If you would like to, just replace them with water with a squeeze of lemon and over time you’ll be glad you did. Enjoy looking around the web at all the great nutrition sites and start incorporating a few new ideas.

You are God’s creation so stand on truth and glorify God in your body! May the Lord bless each of you as you cultivate both inward and outward beauty.

Kelly Riddell is the third born daughter of four girls. Her goals in life are to honor God in all she does, be a shining light to a lost and dying world and live a life of service to her Creator. While living at home she enjoys serving her family as well as putting her energy into any ministry that God brings her way; whether it's discipling and encouraging younger girls in ways that honor God, ministering to families at her church, teaching music, or investing in her younger sister, nieces and nephews. She loves to spend time cultivating and enjoying her family relationships as well as singing, playing the piano and violin, drawing, exercising and enjoying God's magnificent creation. She thanks the Lord for giving her this life to have a personal relationship with One in particular...Jesus Christ. 
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Swap in Some Healthy

{by Rebecca Florio}

When I first became more health-conscious and making changes to my diet, I assumed that my dessert days were over. It is a common belief that eating healthy means, “dieting” and that means cutting out sweets.

How un-fun. I quickly discovered that restriction is unhealthy and wellness means giving what body not only what it needs but also what it wants. True healthy changes will only last if they are balanced and can be incorporated into a realistic lifestyle.

For me, that means I needed to find a way to incorporate treats and sweets back into my life. And what I learned was that there are infinite ways to give favorite desserts a healthy makeover -- making nutritious swaps without losing any of the deliciousness.

Baking is now one of my favorite things to do. If you happen to stop by on one of my (rare) free afternoons, you’ll most likely find me in the kitchen surrounded by pans and bowls. But instead of margarine and white flour streaked across my apron, you’ll most likely find these ingredients:

~ Instead of sugar...use agave nectar. Refined sugar provides empty calories, contributes to tooth decay and cavities, and spikes insulin levels in your blood. In other words, the only thing going for it is it’s sweet taste. But you can have your cake and feel good about eating it too if you swap out 1 cup of processed stuff for ⅔ c. agave nectar. Agave is very low on the glycemic index which means it will not spike your blood sugar which spikes your hunger.
    Honey and Maple syrup are delicious plant-based sweeteners that add rich flavor to baked goods. Honey is full of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial enzymes and antioxidants that actually help combat harmful bacteria in your body! Replace 1 c. sugar with ⅔ c. liquid sweetener.
    Stevia. When I first tried healthy baking, I used a lot of Splenda to sub out sugar’s calories. Then I learned that Splenda is hardly a real food -- in fact, it contains many “hidden” chemicals and artificial substances. If you are looking for a calorie-free sugar substitute, try the plant-based liquid or powdered stevia.

~ Instead of butter...use olive oil, rich in unsaturated fats which don’t  clog your arteries and do help fight bad cholesterol in your blood. For baking, choose a lighter olive oil or experiment with grapseed oil or coconut oil.
    Applesauce, pumpkin and plain low-fat yogurt are excellent 1:1 ratio substitutes for butter or oil. I have used both in muffins, breads, cakes, and cookies and been very pleased with the rich and moist results. You won’t miss the fat!
     Peanut butter is high in fat, but like olive oil, it’s got all the good kinds plus tons of healthy proteins! If you are looking to add some energizing nutrients to your diet, sneak some nut butter into your cookies.

~ Instead of egg...make a flax egg! Mix 1T. ground flax seed with 3T water, let the mixture thicken for a few minutes, and voila! You have a faux “egg” out of a nutritional powerhouse. Flaxseeds contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which strengthen bones and protect against heart disease and cancers.
    Mashed Banana is a superfood that can replace sugar, oil, or egg in most baking recipes. I love sneaking a serving of fruit into my desserts!
Instead of white flour...use whole wheat pastry flour which still has all the nutrition of whole grains intact. Whole grains are excellent providers of fiber and as well as antioxidants which protect against the cellular damage that promotes heart disease. But all of these health benefits are stripped away in the refining process of making white flour. Some people shy away from whole wheat flour in baking because it tends to be heavy and dense, which is why I use whole wheat pastry flour.  
    There are so many whole grain flours to experiment with: buckwheat, oat, rice, millet flour.  Look beyond your standard all-purpose and you will be surprised by the variety of flavors (and nutrition!) you will find!

 Looking for a place to start baking nutritiously? Try a few of my favorite yummy treats:

One of my favorite parts of healthy baking is sharing the results with others. Most of the time, people are shocked to learn that those chocolate chip cookies were made with flax, almond flour, and wheat germ -- that is, if I tell them. Sometimes, it’s fun to just watch them “mmm” and “aaah” and smile sneakily to myself.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Thing Every Girl Needs to Know

{by Natalie Torbert}

There are a few things that I feel strongly about: some aspects of politics, my Redskins, and self-defense. Many of my soapbox speeches tend to revolve around the fact that I believe every girl needs to have some kind of basic self-defense training. Rocky Balboa puts it best when he says, "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place..."

The world has evolved past the Leave It To Beaver place that it was where six-year-old kids would ride their bikes to the soda shop. Now, not only are there a shortage of kid-friendly soda shops, but six year olds are used to holding hands with their parent just to cross the street. Back in the day, the “bad” parts of town were usually confined to one area. Now the “bad” parts of town are our streets, our parking garages, and even our malls. Every day we read of people getting taken. While I am not a nay-saying pessimist, I am a realist. I see that we live in a broken, dangerous world.

About three years ago, I decided that I was not going to be complacent with my personal safety. I didn’t want to become another statistic, rather I wanted to be able to intelligently defend myself if my personal wellbeing was ever in question. I knew that the odds of a 13 year old getting a concealed carry permit were slim, so I decided to learn self-defense. I took the plunge and joined an MMA gym, studying the discipline of Krav Maga, which is the self-defense system for the Israeli military. It is  is basically a melting pot of a large number of Martial Arts disciplines and is specially designed to be applicable to victims of unexpected attacks such as at an ATM, a car jacking, or in a parking lot..

Now, I was blessed with finding a gym that was not only reputable in the MMA training community with a high caliber of coaches, but was also a safe training environment for me both physically and spiritually. Most of my fellow trainees are former marines who are big and tough and they are rough with me because they want to make sure I will be able to escape an attack, should one ever occur. I understand that many of you who are reading this will not have such ready access to a “MMA” gym or would simply not consider entering one,  and that is fine. The scope of this article is self-defense; it is not “Every Girl Needs to Become a Pro Fighter”!

There are great options available to all of us.  Kickboxing classes at the YMCA and wrestling classes at the Gold’s Gym are just a start. L.A. Boxing franchises are popping up everywhere.  And if a live-gym is not for you, there are fabulous DVD’s to teach beginners to the most advanced athletes..   In Part 2 of this article, I will share some ideas on how to get started.  But before I do that, let me suggest you watch Miss Congeniality and begin practicing SING on your little brother.  (I’m only kidding about the brother part; a pillow will suffice!)

Sadly, the world has changed. Gone are the days of kids running around outside apart from the watching eye of a parent, and gone are the days of nearly guaranteed safety for teenage girls. Also gone is the luxury of complacency. As young women, we need to be able to intelligently defend ourselves if put in a circumstance that would require it. I am not advocating fighting or recklessly placing ourselves in danger, but I am advocating self defense training (whether basic or in depth) for girls everywhere. 

Natalie Torbert has been homeschooled (and loving it) since the fifth grade. She loves sports, almost to a fault, and maintains that the Redskins are going to win the Superbowl at least once in her lifetime.  Her favorite birthday present was tickets to see the Washing Capitals hockey team play (and win!) and her dream job is to be a color commentator for the UFC. She has trained MMA for the past 3 years and has an amateur record of three wins and one loss.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

How You Break the Fast

{Samantha Roose}

I can’t stop thinking about how it will be.  In the morning when I get up and in the evening when I go to bed I imagine how I will feel.  With every sleeping breath I dream about it.  As the alarm clock blares jerking me from my glorious dreams and I pull back my covers my mind is already fantasizing.  I just can’t stop thinking about breakfast!

Obviously, I have a small obsession with breakfast …well maybe not exactly small.  Without a doubt, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!  I LOVE breakfast food: pancakes, muffins, breakfast burritos, toast with cream cheese, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, smoothies and fruit, fruit, fruit!!!  What could be better?! And besides, it’s in the morning so you have all day long for it to digest!

Not only is breakfast one of my favorite meals it is also, I have come to accept, one of the most important meals of the day.  I know, I know.  You’ve heard that a thousand times, but really it is!  Breakfast is like the starting block to your day.  You set your body up for the day with the food you eat for breakfast. The food you eat will impact your hormones, mental processes, physical performance and sometimes emotions. This meal also starts you metabolism for the day.

I try to start my day with a small portion of whole-wheat carbs, protein, and fresh fruit.  Carbs are a healthy and sustaining food that God designed for us to eat.  Protien helps your mental processes and jumpstarts your metabolism.  Fresh fruit gives you vitamins and healthy sugars.

Below are several of the healthy breakfasts that I have on a regular basis.  Normally I will have an apple with my breakfast because that’s what we have around the most.  However, berries are full of antioxidants, so I eat them whenever possible. And, because I’m often running or training for a triathlon, I often go for a banana, which is high in potassium.
  • 2/3 C-1 C cooked Oatmeal with a small handful of walnuts
  • Baked Oatmeal with a hardboiled egg
  • Breakfast Burritos
  • Toast or Bagel with cream
  • A Muffin (or two) with a hardboiled egg 
  • Yogurt with granola
  • Quiche

I hope to share some of these recipes with you over the coming weeks! 

So, are you planning breakfast already?  I know I’m already planning mine!

What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast choices? 
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Diary of a Newbie Runner: It Used To Be Torture

{by Ellery Sadler}
I’m scared of long runs. They scare me because they are long. And the farther you go the farther you have to come back. My sisters tell me that everyone feels somewhat like they are dying at the end of a long run. I believe them, I just happen to know for a fact I am much closer to the edge of the grave than anyone else. So I decided, instead of running on the road, I would run on our torturemill…I mean treadmill. (I have heard that treadmills were first used as a method of torture and I believe it and think about it every time I run on one.)

I slipped on my fabulous new shoes and began running.  Problem with treadmills: you never go anywhere. No matter if you run for ten minutes or sixty, you stay in exactly the same place the entire time. It’s really really boring. So I decided to chew gum. I had music blaring in my ears, legs churning, mouth chewing. Much more interesting.

Time ticked slowly by, after about 40 minutes I start to get really tired. I stare at my reflection in the window…but maybe the reflection is distorted. I look down at my shirt, dripping with sweat. Nope, the reflection is not distorted. I start to talk to myself. “You can do this.” “Just 20 more minutes.” “Go – go – go.” (My goal for that day was to run for an hour.) And I turn my music up and start tapping the air with my hands to the beat of my music, or at least, what I think might be the beat. I can’t tell the beat unless it is very pronounced, so normally I just tap the air to whatever timing seems good to me.

I pop a new piece of gum in and feel a surge of energy. This is good. I’m going to make it. And then my side starts to ache, my knees begin to get weak and feel like they are going to crumble, and my head aches. I stare at the clock on the treadmill with the intensity of one quickly moving towards insanity – that’s when you know you’ve almost reached the end of your run. I grab my iPod, flip to one of my favorite songs, turn the music even louder, chew faster and keep running.

And then…the ten minutes is up and I sink to the ground in a grateful heap. I reached my goal…and surpassed it, by two minutes. But wait there’s more – Amazon woman has told herself she will do 20 sit ups after her run, so she lays down to do them. But once I lay on the ground there is no reason I have to get up… in fact I’m not sure I can get up. I almost choke on my gum and do the 20 sit ups. Feeling victorious, I crawl to my knees, smile blandly at myself in the mirror and walk out for my reward – a handful of well-earned M&M’s. Thank goodness no one watches me while I run….they’d probably think I was crazy.  

Come to think of it, maybe I am. After all, that thing used to be used for torture. And I'm not convinced that that isn't what we are still using it for today.
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