a good Christian life.

Honored to have had the privilege of delivering this message to a group of women at a Brunch this past Saturday morning. This video will give you a preview of the book I’m writing. If you’ve got 8 minutes and 27 seconds, check it out.

I need Mr. Miyagi.

Back to yoga class this morning. I’m paying for taking the summer off.

PinkGirl: “WHAT is that SMELL?”

FavoriteHusband, working on my shoulder: “your mom calls it ‘stinky hot’ but it’s really called BENGAY.”

PinkGirl: “it’s GROSS!”

A few minutes later:

FavoriteSon: “Why do I smell Pepto-Bismol?”

Me: “It’s stinky hot.”

FavoriteSon: “Smells like Pepto.”

Mr. Miyagi could fix my shoulder without stinkin up the place.

the hard is what makes it great.

“If it was easy, everyone would do it” is one of my mantras.

I say it to my kids when they struggle with ANYthing and I see discouragement or frustration start to set in. I say it to my husband, friends, clients and sometimes, even strangers.

I say it to myself.

A lot.

When I’m supposed to be writing and find myself staring at the screen, fingers atrophied over the keyboard.
When I spend two hours writing, proofread what I’ve written and immediately want to start over.
When I’m trying to curl a 15 pound dumbbell for the 12th time in my second set.
When I’m 2 minutes and 20 seconds into my 2 minute, 30 second forearm plank.
When I’m trying not to fly off the back of the treadmill during my HIIT walking program.
When I drag myself off the couch to pick up that stupid dumbbell or put on my walking shoes.
When I’m 3 seconds short of an 18 second note I’ve been trying to hold out. For the 100th time.
When my voice breaks on that high note I’m trying to hit in full voice. After two years of voice lessons.
When I’m vocalizing for the third time in a day in an attempt to get the “right” technique to become second nature.

Just a few weeks ago, during a break in a recording session, I mentioned something about needing to work on something with my voice teacher. The sound technician said, “YOU have a voice teacher!?” I responded with a big “Heck, YEAH!” He paused for a moment and then said, “It just seems more like you would teach voice lessons, not take them.” I quickly and firmly told him that I will never be too good for voice lessons.

But that exchange emphasized a very common misconception: The things people are good at just come naturally to them.

SO not true.

And the persistence of that mindset devalues the accomplishment, no matter what it is. The persistence of that mindset liberates other people from trying. It turns a potential mentor into someone to be resented and berated. Instead of being viewed as someone who met a goal as a result of hard work, they are instead viewed as “lucky.” Rather than inspiring someone else to take their own steps toward better and stronger, they become a discouragement to others. Because the perception is that whatever the goal, it’s not achievable by anyone but the lucky ones.

The book, Talent Is Overrated claimed, “One factor, and only one factor, predicted how musically accomplished the students were, and that was how much they practiced.”

practice.

The fact is that excellence isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen without work. Usually hard work. Developing a skill takes time. and repetition.

and repetition.

and repetition.

Experience is a teacher in and of itself.

What most people don’t realize is that mediocrity is only one short day of slackin away. Just because I do something well, doesn’t mean I’ve finished learning or practicing.

The fact that I was in a writing zone yesterday doesn’t insure against writer’s block tomorrow.
Being satisfied with today’s writing doesn’t mean I won’t be filled with doubt and repulsion about tomorrow’s.
The ability to lift a 15 pound dumbbell today doesn’t mean I won’t have to opt for 10 pounds tomorrow.
Making it through a 2 minute, 30 second plank today doesn’t mean I won’t collapse at 2 minutes the next day.
Finishing the 30 minute HIIT treadmill program today is no guarantee that I won’t wimp out the next time.
The fact that extracted myself from the couch today doesn’t mean won’t stay curled up on it tomorrow.
As I’ve discovered, holding a note for 18 seconds one time, does NOT mean I can now do it any time I want.
The same is true for that high note – once does not mean always.
Even after spending hundreds of hours practicing the “right” way to sing, I still drift into old habits . . .

For me, excellence isn’t a destination I’ll ever arrive at and rest comfortably. Because of my relentless determination to be a good steward of all that God has blessed me with, the striving for excellence is a lifetime journey.

To find out why I’m so obsessed with striving for excellence, check out this post: I. Want. More.

Ab workout AND entertainment.

10:33pm.

Shoulder Devil: “It’s late. You did the HIIT training. Skip the rest.”

Shoulder Angel: “There’s still an hour and a half left in the day. Don’t listen to him. If it wasn’t for me, your body fat percentage would still be 51%”

Shoulder Devil:: “hhhhhh. okay, fine. then just do the plank. Skip the strength training. You’re tired. You can do strength training tomorrow.”

Shoulder Angel:: “He’s right.”

Shoulder Devil:: “I am?”

Shoulder Angel:: You should do strength training tomorrow. You should do tomorrow’s strength training tomorrow. Do today’s strength training today.”

Shoulder Devil:: “no, that’s not what I meant…”

Shoulder Angel:: You don’t have to do the Power Half Hour, just do one of the 10 Minute DVDs” .”

Shoulder Devil:: “Don’t listen to him, he’s a fanatic. He’s talking about 10 Minutes. What’s the big deal about 10 lousy minutes?”

Shoulder Angel:: “EXACTLY my point.”

Shoulder Devil:: “NO! That’s not what I meant…”

Shoulder Angel:: “HEY! remember that FIRM 5 Day Ab workout from the 90s? Do that! Day one is only 6 minutes!”

And that’s how I ended up with this video in the DVD player tonight.

(and you’re welcome. this video clip is so blurry you can’t see that the shorts on the guys in this video are WAY too short. T. M. I. and ewww. and again. ewww. and who says “supine? My whole life I’ve never said the word “supine.”)

I. Want. More.

I’ve described my mother as a “defiant non-compliant diabetic.” She ate what she wanted, when she wanted, blood sugar be damned. After decades of neglect, her body began to deteriorate and finally shut down completely. I found a receipt in her wallet dated just days before her death. She had driven through Burger King on the way home from dialysis and ordered a BK Stacker (22 grams of fat, 700 mg of sodium.). She was suffering from congestive heart failure, taking 14 different medications and on dialysis 3 days a week, but she wanted a BK Stacker, so she got one. There were more fast food receipts in the pockets of her clothing and on her desk.

Time and time and time again she chose immediate personal gratification and a comfort zone, over long term goals, discomfort and inconvenience – and not just with food.

She bought what she wanted when she wanted it, even if she didn’t have the money.
She wanted a warm, inviting home, but she focused on the house and its contents more than the people who lived in it.
She wanted passionate relationships, but was controlling and plagued with pride.
She wanted to travel and experience new things. But instead, she booked the same vacation for years.
She loved to play the piano. But she didn’t make time for it.
She loved to sing. But she only sang in the house. And rarely.
She wanted to write. But she didn’t.
She wanted so much, but she settled for so little.

Her desire for the things she wanted made it challenging and sometimes impossible for her to recognize, much less appreciate, the blessings she had. Her inability to see that she had power to change her circumstances if she stayed true to her long-term goals kept her firmly rooted in mediocrity and the status quo.

I paid attention. And I learned quite a bit about what I want for my life by watching her choices.
I still pay attention. And I look for consequences – good and bad – so I can learn from other people’s choices. I learn a LOT about what I want as a result of my OWN choices and their consequences.

My mother had a stroke and blamed her doctors and her medication. She had a stroke and I got a personal trainer. Before and after her stroke, she relied on medications to make herself feel better and to lengthen her life. Before her stroke, I was following in her footsteps. After her stroke, I began relying on exercise and lifestyle changes to make myself feel better and to lengthen my life.

I had a choice. I could continue to go with the flow and eventually find myself at risk for a stroke or I could intentionally and consistently walk backwards against the current. If you know me, it shouldn’t surprise you that when I’m floating in a lazy river, I will at some point, become bored and walk backward against the current. It’s a metaphor for my life. I intentionally choose to view every experience God has allowed in my life – good AND bad – as a blessing. Together, these blessings fuel me with determination.

I’m a big believer in benchmarking. When I want to learn how to do something, I find people who do it well and I copy them. But I also learn what not to do by watching the things that people, myself included, do poorly. I pay attention to choices and consequences – good and bad. I call it opportunistic learning and it helps me discover what I want in my life.

I want more than immediate gratification and a well worn spot in my comfort zone.

I want MORE than the comfort of air conditioning, dry, pleasant smelling clothing, a good hair day, less laundry and an extra hour every day. I don’t consider a handicapped sticker on my car to be a well deserved ticket to a great parking space and the inability to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded scares me more than a hurricane warning. The inability to walk up a flight of stairs at all scares me more than an actual hurricane.

I want a stronger body, even if it needs two showers in one day, generates smelly, wet laundry, “wastes” 30 minutes or more of my day and requires a longer walk from the parking lot. I want to get stronger as I get older, not weaker. I want to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with. I’ve experienced the limitations of a body that won’t do what I want it to do and I hated it so much I NEVER want to experience it again. I’ll do anything I can to make sure that my body doesn’t deteriorate due to neglect.

I want MORE than a 6 inch high plate of nachos with a phenomenal cheese sauce or the most decadent, melt in your mouth chocolate lava cake in the world. I want MORE than the thousands of milligrams of sodium and double digit grams of fat in the restaurant food that saves me from cooking dinner when I don’t feel like it. I want MORE than a bedtime snack of ice cream or a Grand Slam breakfast from Denny’s. I want MORE than a BK Stacker.

I want unblocked arteries, normal blood pressure and stable blood sugar. I want my 7 day pill case to be filled with vitamins and supplements instead medications. I want to model good nutritional choices for my children, especially my daughter. I want to live a longer, healthier life than my mother did. I’m not swayed by spoonfuls being shoved in my face along with an exasperated voice telling me to “just taste it.” It’s not that I secretly want it and am just denying myself. I really don’t want it. I’ll never be convinced to abandon my long term nutrition goals just because someone belittles me for not eating something they want to eat. I’ll never belittle them while I watch them eat – but I also won’t sanction their choice or cave to middle school level peer pressure by picking up a fork and joining them.

I want MORE than a good marriage. I want MORE than candy and flowers and jewelry on Valentines Day and my birthday. I want MORE than a husband who handles car maintenance, toilet repair, heavy lifting, jar opening and high shelf reaching. I want MORE than a “good” sex life and a husband who does what I want in order to get it. I want MORE than a husband who agrees with me to avoid conflict and who spends time with me because he’s supposed to.

I want a GREAT marriage to a man I can’t go a day without talking to. I want to be the person who respects my husband more than anyone else in the world and I want him to know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I want to come to the end of my day and be confident I didn’t say a bad word about him to ANYone. I want to be the kind of wife he wants to come home to and I want to be genuinely happy that he’s home when he walks in the door. I want a partner – a LIFE LONG partner – who tells me the truth in a gracious tone of voice, motivated by love. I want us to share EVERYthing without holding back: our thoughts, our ideas, our weaknesses, our fears, our passions and our bodies. I want to share household and parenting duties and I’m thankful that I figured out early in our marriage that different isn’t wrong. I want us to be able speak in idioms and always understand each other. I want us to be able to communicate with facial expressions and eye contact. I want to stay married to my best friend for the rest of my life and I’m thankful that we are both willing to run to a marriage counselor the minute our relationship can be described as “fine.”

I want MORE than compliant children who make good grades, keep their room clean and behave appropriately at all times. I want MORE than happy, safe children. I don’t want my children to do what they’re told because I say so.

I want to hear about everything that interests them, because I know that if I don’t listen with interest, they will stop telling me. I want to be challenged by their mind, fascinated by their discoveries, respectful of their ideas, convinced by their reasoning, inspired by their passion and exasperated by our differences. I want to always strive to respect them as individuals instead viewing them as extensions of myself. I want to be comfortable with their potential to embarrass me for the sake of their (and my) learning curve. I want my children to learn life lessons from remorse and disappointment as well as from pride and achievement. I want to equip them, not protect them. I want them to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, even when nobody is looking.

I want MORE than the ability to pay my monthly bills. I want more than a nice car and a big house with a screened pool. I want more than great vacation destinations. I want more than stuff.

I want to be debt-free. I want to own my home, not hold a mortgage. I want my car to start every time I turn the key, and if it does, I don’t care how many miles are on it. I want to be a good steward of my financial blessings. I want to save and pay cash for the things I want. I don’t want to pay interest. I want to teach my children the value of a wise financial choice. I want to teach them that delayed gratification ultimately makes them happier and more secure than an impulse or convenient purchase. I want to give God MORE than 10% of what he entrusts to me and I want my kids to want to do the same.

I want MORE than to help lead a “good” praise set on Sunday morning. Lukewarm makes me restless. Holding back makes me unsettled. Trying to please everyone is deeply discouraging. Settling for fine wears me down. I don’t want to give God less than my very best. No one is drawn to mediocrity.

I want to work my butt off to prepare and when Sunday morning comes, I want to block out all the logistics and make myself open and available for God to equip me for service. I want to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, not the body language of someone in the congregation who is missing His presence because they are preoccupied with what someone else thinks. I want to allow myself to be saturated with the Holy Spirit, so much so that Satan doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of distracting me from my goal of bringing as many people with me as I possibly can while I abandon myself to authentic, consuming praise. I want to go all out and see what God will do with my all.

I want to use everything God has given me – the good and the bad – to serve Him. When I write, I have no idea if the result is a cathartic purge or if someone will identify with something I say and be encouraged or changed by it. It’s just as possible that what I’ve written will alienate or discourage someone. I have no idea if God will use it to reach someone, but I pray He will. I don’t want the words I write to be in a vacuum.

I. want. MORE.

Do I always get it right? Not by a long shot. I do not find all this to be intuitive. These are determined choices I make, over and over and over again. And when I screw up, I start over, even if I have to start over multiple times a day. But I’m not going to stop striving. And I’m willing to wait for whatever God hasn’t entrusted me with yet. I’m willing work for it.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness,knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 5-8

“Never neglect what you’ve seen God do in your life. Take a careful look at these things from God’s perspective, all the way from your birth to where you stand right now. They’re all significant.”

Experiencing the Spirit
Henry and Melvin Blackaby

Goal #1: tear muscles. Goal #2: Build them back up.

After spending Sunday in pain, I had to face the fact that I’ve been slacking on the strength training. I have arthritis in my neck and if I keep my shoulders – specifically my trapezius muscle – strong, I’m usually symptom free. But Sunday, the nerves in my shoulder were “buzzing,” if that makes sense, and I was had some pretty intrusive pain while I was at rest. I was “at rest” because moving was painful.

That won’t do.

Went to bed smelling like BenGay and woke up Monday wanting to curl up with a heating pad on my neck and shoulder. But I knew that was the exact OPPOSITE of what I should do.

I know how to fix this.

I went to yoga. After an hour of stretching, my pain was nearly gone and my mobility BACK TO NORMAL. Then I trimmed hedges and vines with manual clippers for 2 hours. I woke up Tuesday very sore from the workout – and that was the goal.

Step one of muscle strengthening? Tearing the fibers of the muscle so they can build back up. (CLICK HERE to learn about it.)

Tuesday (yesterday), I did the Jillian Michaels NO More Trouble Zones DVD. I’ll admit, because I’m so out of shape, that 40 minute workout took me an hour and 20 minutes because I paused it so many times. I couldn’t keep up with the pace and I had to pause to finish reps. okay. and I paused multiple, multiple times to lay on the floor and breathe while mumbling, I HATE her.

I also walked 3 miles at an 8% incline both days because I’m stubborn tenacious.

Both days, after I finished, I made a protein shake help rebuild the muscle I had torn.

I have to face the fact that I have a chronic condition. The arthritis in my neck will NOT just go away. I’ve figured out how to live symptom free and I’ve been pretty consistent since fall of 2007, but the last 3 to 6 months, I’ve really taken the easy way out of exercise and only focused on cardio.

Strength training is HARD. But, in addition to helping me forget I have arthritis altogether, it also helps me burn more calories at rest. That’s right, the more muscle mass I have the more calories I burn while I do NOTHING.

When I first started strength training back in the fall of 2007, my body fat percentage was 51%. Today, it’s 37%. Not where I’d like it to be, but significantly better!

I’m not looking at the scale right now, because as I build muscle, I’ll likely gain weight. I won’t get any bigger because 5 pounds of muscle takes up LESS physical space than fat. So my clothes will fit better even if my weight doesn’t change! How my clothes fit is a better measure of how I’m doing than my scale.

I’ve been DETERMINED to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with. I got lazy for a few months, but . . .

I’m BACK.

And I’m logging my progress again, on my Fitness Log, on a widget on the right side of this page, on my facebook page (which shows up in the right side bar of this page) and my twitter (tweets also on the right side of this page).

JOIN ME? What are YOU doing to be a good steward of this body God has blessed YOU with?

everyone needs a Shoulder Coach.

treadmill. 5% incline. 3.5mph.

Shoulder Coach: “really? that’s all you got?”

Me: “6% incline. are you happy?”

Shoulder Coach: “for now.”

Me: “you’re gonna give me shin splints.”

Shoulder Coach: “your shins hurt?”

Me: “no. not yet.”

Shoulder Coach: “Then quitcherbellyachin”

praying for a powerful turnaround on this.

Just pinned this on my pinterest.com board entitled “wrong” with the caption “There may very well be more than a million better ways to combat childhood obesity than these ads.” (this photo is embedded – I did not upload it to this page)

I became aware of the ads because Jillian Michaels shared one of the photos on her facebook page and asked for people to “weigh in.”

I showed this photo to 11 year old PinkGirl and asked her what she would think if she saw them on a billboard.

“Those kids probably feel horrible and honestly, I don’t see how these would change anything.”

I’ve stuck my nose in this one.

[BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER, PLEASE LET ME DISCOURAGE YOU FROM POSTING ANY COMMENTS ON THE FB PAGE OF THE ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS “CAMPAIGN.” IF YOU WANT TO POST ANY COMMENTS, PLEASE DO SO ON JILLIAN MICHAELS FACEBOOK PAGE INSTEAD. THEY ARE READING THE COMMENTS ON JILLIAN’S PAGE. THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS PROMOTE THIS ORGANIZATION. IF YOU “Like” OR COMMENT ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE, I WILL CONSIDER THIS POST A FAIL.]

That said, I did comment on their page – BUT I did NOT “Like” the page. Here’s my first comment:

It’s clear that [stopchildhoodobesity] has good intentions. However, in communication, intention is irrelevant. The true measure of success in communicating your message is how it is being encoded and decoded (sent and received) . Are you watching what’s happening on Jillian Michaels facebook page in response to this ad? Over 3100 comments before I started writing this one on your page. Up 100 more as I finish. If your intention is to be effective, don’t dismiss people who aren’t responding favorably to your approach by telling them to focus on solutions instead. [stopchildhoodobesity] is in a position to gain quite a bit of support here. Praying for a powerful turnaround to this.

They didn’t respond to my comment and it seems they were unaware of what was happening on Jillian’s page. About an hour later, they posted a status update thanking Jillian Michaels for “joining the conversation” and explained that it was “hard to judge the purpose of the ads if you are not in Atlanta seeing them first-hand.” They further justified the ads by saying “The intention was to start a conversation and it worked.”

really? They thanked her? Did they not read the (at that time, more than 3500) comments on her page?

Then, someone commented on their update by saying:

“I’m in full support of what [sco] is doing & to have a woman as powerful as Jillian Michaels on board, it only re-affirms [sco]’s positive campaign…”

oh.

no.

“positive” campaign? I usually ignore ignorance, but after that comment, I just couldn’t, in good conscience, just click away. Here’s my comment on that update:

[to commenter] Jillian Michaels is NOT “on board” with this and I hope [stopchildhoodobesity] doesn’t mislead people by allowing them to think she supports them when it isn’t true.
[stopchildhoodobesity] – Atlanta does not have a culture the rest of America doesn’t understand. If your intent was to start a conversation, your job is done. Once people have identified with an issue, they need direction and help to take ACTION. Jillian Michaels focuses on solutions, not conversation. And she does so with compassion and empathy.
Please consider consulting a professional PR person to protect your reputation. You are on the cusp of a big PR mistake.

They responded with this comment:

“This post was to thank Jillian Michaels for joining the conversation about childhood obesity and share the “Stop the Cycle” video to further the conversation.”

They still don’t get it.

This organization REALLY needs the help of a professional PR person. They are losing credibility by the minute. It’s only been a few hours and the photo on Jillian’s fb page has over 4000 comments – written by some of Jillian’s 1,165,161 facebook fans – NOT Jillian. She did NOT join the conversation.

Praying that [stopchildhoodobesity] will ABANDON this campaign and redirect their efforts and resources in a more positive direction. One which focuses on SOLUTIONS.