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I went running this morning.

starting line

Not earth-shattering, headline-making news, but for me, it was significant.

Four months ago, my mom bought me a new pair of running shoes because I asked her to and because the desire was in me to pick up a habit I’d neglected for too long.

And for four months, I’ve made excuses.

Too cold. Too dark. Husband’s new schedule. I’m sick. Too tired. Too many other more important things.

Today, my husband had the day off. And my pants have been fitting too tight. And I ate some delicious food this weekend, and too much of it, so I had fewer excuses.

I’m not sorry I ate the food or that I prioritize other things.

But I am sorry that I have broken a promise.

A promise I made on this blog and then slowly let slip out of my “important” pile.

Less than three years ago, I took up running, training to run a 5K (my first ever) with my husband. And I found out I liked it. I didn’t lose a ton of weight by doing it, but I felt good. I had more energy, and my body was in better shape than it had been.

So when the 5K was over, I kept running occasionally, not as often as when we were training. And I had this idea. I would pay better attention to what I ate. I would exercise. And when the pounds dropped off, I would donate money to a worthy cause. I gave myself six months.

And I failed miserably.

Now, almost a year and a half later, I haven’t lost as much weight as I’d hoped and I haven’t given any money to that worthy cause.

And I could spend a lot of time beating myself up about that or I could do what I did today.

Lace up the shoes.

Stretch out the legs.

And start over. In the rain, no less.

But in a way, I was grateful for the rain as I completed day 1 of the Couch-to-5K plan.

Because starting something good won’t always wait for the right conditions.

Sometimes you have to splash in the puddles and be drenched in the downpour on the way to your goal.

I won’t lie: I didn’t feel great when I finished.

My body ached. I wanted to go back to bed. I was soaked. And all day I’ve felt reminders of what I did in my calves and hips.

But the pain will pass.

And discipline is always hard. Training your body–or your mind or your spirit, for that matter–to do something it doesn’t normally do is hard and takes work and perseverance.

But it is worth it.

I can’t make any promises this time. I won’t tell you that in six months I hope to give $100 to women and children in Liberia or that I’ll be running a half-marathon by the fall.

All I know is today, I ran.

And I will run again.

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If you look forward to these posts, then I’m sorry you had to wait a day. Several busy days in a row hit our house and I needed a break from anything requiring my brain.

So, here we are on Sunday (not the first time this has happened) with my weekly list of smile-makers.

First place goes to my son’s understanding of theology. Many times this week I’ve heard him saying, “Remember, Jesus loves you. Remember, Jesus loves Izzy. Remember.” And during our mealtime prayers, he’s gotten in the habit of praying, “Thanks for God.” I love hearing how our faith is translated to preschool minds.

Corban also made me laugh with some adult (not profane) language. We were talking about barbecue chips and how they’re not my favorite and I don’t prefer them but it’s okay for the kids to eat them. Corban declared, “Well, they’re my favorite. Really, I just prefer them.” Conversation over.

This week’s smiles are part looking back, part looking ahead. We have family coming to town this week, which means help is on the way and I may be able to leave the house by myself once or twice this week. Hooray!

And in just a few weeks, we’ll be on our way to Florida. My husband has been joyfully and carefully planning our trip there and back. I love this about him. He will make the trip interesting and adventurous. Hotels are booked. Now, we just have to pack. (Packing does not make me smile.)

We also saw the arrival of March this week. Even though March’s weather is unpredictable, just the word “March” brings a sense of relief. Winter is almost over. Spring will be here soon. Oh, spring, how I love you.

Took the kids to Hobby Lobby (or in Corban’s words, “Hobby Wobby”) to buy some supplies to finish a project. We went down the sticker aisle. “Stickers! Stickers!” They want stickers wherever we go. I think maybe more than candy. I’m totally willing to buy them stickers, especially if it creates a love for paper projects, as it seems to be doing.

The list could go on. Here’s a sampling:

  • neighbors helping neighbors
  • a taste of ministry life
  • unplanned park day/supper out with friends
  • working with a budget
  • a clean house
  • a successful first dentist visit for Isabelle with a no-cavity report

Oh, and the one I almost forgot. I lost another pound, bringing me to a total of 13 pounds lost since the beginning of the year. My pledge for women and orphans in Liberia is adding up.

As we learn from the musical Annie, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Here’s wishing you a week of fully dressed days!

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Life got overwhelming this week. Kids sick off and on. Unexpected uncertainty. Fear. Gloom. Rainy days. Our last week of “freedom” before my husband starts his last semester of classes.

Once again, though, God came through, showing His faithfulness, giving me reasons to smile.

Sunday afternoon, my friend Dawn, whose husband is also in seminary, texted to ask if I could get out of the house that night. Her request made me chuckle because at times we feel like prisoners in our homes, slaves to our families, so getting out of the house for something as simple as ice cream and a trip to the grocery store without kids or husbands is like a mini-vacation. So refreshing. And I’m thankful that my husband didn’t hesitate when I told him about the text. He’s 100 percent supportive of me leaving the house when I need a break.

The next night, I got to talk with my best friend, Katrina, for what’s become a monthly phone date. She is so encouraging and uplifting, and I love that our friendship has spanned decades and life experiences and geographical distance.

Wednesday morning, I had breakfast with a fellow writer and pastor’s wife who has become a great friend. I was pretty low in spirit that day, but sitting with a bottomless mug of coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Panera with someone who’s “been there” was the cure for what ailed me.

Friendships don’t always come easily to me, so I’m grateful to have found a few kindred spirits in my life.

Other reasons to smile this week:

Seeing our nephew on Skype. He was sleeping, but still, it was more than a picture can show.

We had a financial scare this week but I spent a day worrying for nothing. God continues to take care of us.

During Bible study this week, we took time to encourage one another by telling of the positive qualities and spiritual gifts we see in each other. It was a fun and uplifting time, both in the giving and receiving.

Discovering that my husband was a recipient of $200 JCPenney gift card for being a veteran of Iraq. It’s an annual program for which he registered once before. Today we spent a family day helping him pick out some new clothes we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford.

Realizing I need to shop with my husband more often and/or pay more attention to the fashion trends of the day. Consider these comments while shopping:

Me: They make skinny jeans for guys?

Husband: Oh, yeah, you didn’t know that?

Me: “I need to get out more.”

And, me again, while noticing a pair of white jeans amongst the offerings: “You definitely should get a pair of those. What is this, 1985?”

Yet again, me: “Who would buy jeans with holes in them?” (Yes, it’s official. I’ve become old.)

Losing another pound and a half this week. That’s more than 9 pounds in almost a month!

Finishing our taxes.

Making snowmen out of the food offerings at Old Country Buffet. Check out the template here. And kids eating free? That’s ALWAYS a reason to smile.

Wishing you a week’s worth of smiles.

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Oh, the holidays. Cookies. Candy. Comfort food.

I knew that starting a weight loss plan in early December might have been a mistake. My husband had papers to finish for finals week. We packed to go home for a couple of weeks, then went home for a couple of weeks. And ate and ate and ate.

The few weeks I dared step on the scale after restarting my personal weight loss challenge, I had no good news to report. Small gains, in weight that is, each week. This must be what it’s like to get older and just watch the pounds pack on. I feel like a llama trudging up a mountain with supplies strapped to my sides. Or a pack mule. I’m packing on extra pounds, and I almost feel helpless and powerless to stop it.

But I’m not.

And thanks to a few tools at my disposal, I have a 3-step plan for the new year.

One of my Christmas gifts was a Wii with a Zumba Fitness game. A couple of months ago, I attended a Zumba party at a friend’s house and loved it! Now, I can have my own Zumba workout in my living room at 5 a.m., hopefully before anyone else in the house is awake. This is a huge boost to my intention to lose weight.

I also plan to read this book. It’s been on my Kindle for months. Exercise, and lack of it, is only part of my battle. Another part is food. I love food. Cooking it, baking it, serving it, eating it. Food, itself, is not bad. But my relationship with it is not right. So, I look forward to any insights this author has to offer. I’m also going to use a 21-day devotional that goes along with a book called “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkhurst. To put food in its proper place in my life, I have to put God in His proper place. I’m hoping to do that through this devotional. And maybe the full book later on.

Thirdly, I’m finding strength in numbers. My husband is on board and is helping me make healthier eating choices. He is my in-house accountability. My mom is also on a weight-loss journey and we’re planning to check in with each other about our weight, our eating habits and exercise choices. Support is essential to success when attempting something difficult.

So, there it is, for all to see. My 3-step plan for weight loss this year. I’m hopeful, and a little desperate.

I know I’m not alone in these struggles, and I hope to maintain balance. I don’t want to focus on food so much that it controls me in the opposite direction.

Health. Fitting into my clothes. Feeling good about myself when I look in the mirror. These are my goals.

I’ll never be a size 6 or 8 or whatever the “ideal” is. But I know that where I am now is not where I want to be.

Want to join the journey? E-mail me or comment on this post. I’ll pray for you and support you in good times and bad.

Let’s do this, together, shall we?

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Five months ago, I made a promise. I pledged to donate money for every pound I lost by the end of the year. Others joined the pledge, either with donations or support or a weight loss pledge of their own.

I’m here to tell you that I’ve failed. But that’s not the end of the story.

Since I made that promise, I overate at church camp. I let my workouts slide while we visited family in Illinois two different times. I ate “comfort food” after our basement flooded and I didn’t want to deal with the reality of clean-up and loss. And I took the month of November to write a novel.

So I find myself here, the 1st of December, having made negative progress, closer to 200 pounds than I’ve ever been when not pregnant or just having had a baby. Yet I’m resolved to not give up.

I restarted my twice-a-week 5 a.m. workouts this morning. And even though Christmas is coming, and sweets and goodies abound, I’m determined to keep it under control.

Can I just say what I’m thinking?

I DON’T WANT TO BE FAT!

There. That’s my fear. I see the misery in the faces of Biggest Loser contestants and I know that not much separates me from the downward spiral they’ve experienced.

Maybe that’s too dramatic. Or maybe it’s realistic. I just know that I’m not getting any younger and losing weight isn’t going to get any easier.

So.

I’m restarting my quest to lose weight and raise money for widows and orphans in Liberia. And I’m extending my deadline to March, at least.

“What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford, actress. (Also similar to a Chinese proverb.)

I have fallen. But I will get up.

I will check in monthly, here, with my progress.

Stay tuned.

And help inspire me.

How do you keep your weight loss goals?

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So I’ve been at this weight loss challenge for 2 months now with nothing but gain to show for it. I’ve gained weight. I’ve gained perspective. I’ve gained insight. I’ve also lost some things, too. Desire, motivation, pride.

Besides the actual act of losing weight, I’m struggling right now to make exercise and eating right a priority. We’ve had to — and will have to — make some tough decisions about what’s going to be most important to our family. Exercise is part of it, but in the last two weeks, we haven’t been able to follow through on that. Spending time together as a couple, time as a family, my husband’s last year of seminary, restoring the house to some kind of normal after being gone for two weeks … these are what we’ve spent our time on.

The next two weeks won’t be “normal” by any means — we’re having company; we’re taking a trip to Denver for my cousin’s wedding. I haven’t finished unpacking from the last trip yet and I’m already starting to think about packing for the next one.

I feel like I’m waiting for conditions to be “perfect” for exercise to fit into the routine. I know I’m kidding myself. Life with two little ones will never be perfectly right for making exercise a priority.

Help me out, here. How do you make exercise a priority? What suffers when that happens? What benefits do you get from it?

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It’s a 2-for-1 on the blog today. It’s been a few weeks since I updated on my weight-loss progress for the My Loss Their Gain challenge, and I’m reading books like crazy to finish out the Tyndale Summer Reading Program, so I’m doubling up on posts today.

We were home in Illinois for two weeks, and I was sure my weight loss efforts took another beating. Good food. Lots of it. Little exercise. Frankly, I came home a little depressed. Then we had a hurricane when we got back to Pennsylvania, and we found a bat in the house, and the kids and I all got sick with a stomach bug. I remembered to weigh in today and discovered that I’d actually lost about 1.5 pounds since I last weighed in two weeks ago. Most of that is probably from the stomach bug. Not the most enjoyable way to lose weight.

So, with that little bit of encouragement, I’m resolved to restart my campaign to lose weight and donate money to widows and orphans in Liberia.

Speaking of Liberia, I learned another little encouraging tidbit this week while reading In This Place by Kim L. Abernethy, who spent time in Liberia as a missionary. When she and her husband first arrived in the West African country, the people were so excited and greeted them with these words “Thank you teacher for your fat wife!” Abernethy, understandably, was a little taken aback by this but came to learn that Liberians associated fatness, if you will, with blessing. To them, a person who is overweight must be blessed because they have more than enough food to eat.

Funny. I haven’t thought of it that way. I’m not fat; I’m blessed!

“Fat” is such a dirty word in our country. No one wants to be called “fat” which is why Abernethy reacted negatively when the Liberians used the word to describe her. I still bear the scars of a friend calling me “fat” in third- or fourth-grade. I can’t think of any positive ways we use the word “fat.” (Unless of course, we’re talking about “phat.” That’s supposed to be a good thing.)

While I have my own struggles with weight, having kids increases them. Both of our kids are “above average” when it comes to weight. Their doctor doesn’t make a big deal out of it, but the WIC nutritionists have labeled them as obese already. They’re 3 and 1 1/2. That seems a little premature to me, so we try not to stress about it. We try to make healthy choices as a family and encourage activity.

I don’t want my kids to have to bear the consequences of being overweight. Seeing their weight as a blessing because we don’t have to worry about food is an attitude shift I hadn’t considered.

So, I’m still aiming to lose weight by the end of the year, but I’m not going to beat myself up for failing to do so.

“Fat” doesn’t have to be such a bad word, although I’m not sure I’m ready yet to use it as a compliment.

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