Whole Living Gal

Look, Ma, I’m Running! (…and also letting go of some judgemental attitudes)

Well, I did it…

I ran.

I loved it!

I’ve been wanting to start running again (I wrote about how much I’ve been craving it) and after getting the okay from my doctor to work it in now that I’m in my second trimester, I gave it a whirl.

The first time, I was cautious. I hopped on the treadmill and I planned to walk 5 min/run 5 min/walk 5 min/run 5 min/walk 5… So I warmed up with a brisk walk then I started a slow jog. It felt great in the sense that it was familiar – the initial jiggling, trying to find my rhythm – I had been here before. Well, 5 minutes of running passed and I kept going.

At about this time, I was starting to feel really good, finding my stride and I was tempted to yell out in the crowded gym: “I’m running!!”

It felt so freeing and seemed just what my body needed.

Although I did not shout anything out loud, I finished my run and got back on the treadmill a few days later and ran even longer, then I did it again a few days later. My sweet spot right now is a walk warmup then a 20-minute run, then cool down. After about 20 minutes, the pressure on my bladder is a little much and my pelvic bones start to ache.

But the running itself feels so good.

Honestly, I used to judge women who ran through their pregnancies and wondered what they were trying to prove. So part of what needed to happen was that I needed to get over myself and my judgements, listen to my body, and go for it.

I’m starting to realize that running seems to be such a sweet spot in general for me –  it feels good to find exercise that seems just right for my body – pregnant or not.

So I’m running – pregnant and all. And it feels great. Also, I’ve stopped judging women who continue doing hard exercise during pregnancy and I’m trying to check other judgements I have of people, too. Truth is, all of our bodies are different and we do the best service to our personal health when we listen to what our bodies are telling us.



Second Trimester and Exercise

Well, I’ve hit the magic second trimester mark…and beyond. Honestly, I wish I could report that I’m feeling better. The truth is, there’s nothing easy about pregnancy. It’s a miracle and a blessing, but it’s hard work.

One of the biggest changes for this pregnancy (my 3rd) is that I am adding a lot more exercise to my routine. In the past, I have gone easy on myself and backed way off from exercise once I got pregnant. But after two c-sections (only 16 months apart) and then training and racing a 15K and a 10K a year and a half after my second was born, I realized my body is capable of a lot more than I thought.

Granted, pregnancy is a different time for my body. Overall, I am a lot more cautious. I know I can’t push myself too hard because my body responds much louder and clearer if I go overboard (i.e. I’ve passed out a few times when I was pregnant). But, keeping that in mind, I’m listening to my body and trying to push it a little harder in terms of exercise – knowing that I’ll reap the benefits of a healthier pregnancy and a speedier recovery (hello, 3rd c-section).

I stopped running when I got pregnant because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I took up fast, uphill walking on the treadmill, a little elliptical, and a lot of yoga. It’s been awesome for me. It’s helped alleviate nausea and push past some fatigue. Also, because I joined a gym, I get a break from my kid duties so my exercise time becomes my “me time” too – very refreshing. I’m amazed at how well my body is responding. Folks, I did my first side-plank EVER in class the other day! So I am strengthening my core even as my belly is growing.

But I miss running. I miss it a lot.

David and I were side-by-side on the treadmills and he was jogging along at a pretty good clip. I was jealous. So I upped my speed, ran slowly for a minute and went back to my fast-walk pace. It felt good to run. Everything moved differently than it did before my baby belly. But it felt good.

After getting confirmation from my doctor (it’s important to work with your doc) that picking up running again is okay for me, I’m excited to hit the treadmill at a faster pace. Even if I don’t run races or go fast or long or hard, my mind and body are craving a good run.

And since I’m doing my best to listen to my body, I’m going to give in to this urge to run. I think it’s a craving worth saying “yes” to.

Come thou long-expected Jesus

As my children grow, I try to develop tangible ways they can connect to the Bible, to holidays, to traditions. This Christmas I have an advent wreath (which is really my Lenten wreath, condensed).

I love having this wreath because my girls, who are 3-years-old and 21 months, can participate by placing a candle in the wreath. Then we all learn about fire safety as I tell them over and over to back up while I light the candles…

During Lent, we lit the candles and said “Christ as a light.” This time, I tried to get them to say, “Come thou long-expected Jesus,” which is a little long for toddlers, but I’m sticking to it. My oldest remembered the Lenten phrase, and she still insists upon saying “Christ as a Light.”

And isn’t that what this season is about? It’s about the light of the world coming INTO our world…bringing us light…promising peace.

Sometimes we have to do something tangible to really understand the theory and theology. We light candles every day and say “Christ as a light.” But there’s something about smelling the wax burning and listening to the tongue-tied words of a toddler working through “Come thou long-expected Jesus” that reminds me that God really did make himself a man, flesh and blood, a baby, for heaven’s sake. He smelled the smells of this life just as I do as I stand over the warm advent wreath, burning. I’m reminded again that our spiritual lives are not something we live in our heads, but something we experience with our bodies. I worship God in my mind, but I also worship him in my body, lighting candles, singing songs, smelling wax, blowing out the candles. I’m so thankful for this gift of Jesus, God’s son who came as a baby to live among us and bring his light.

Come, thou long-expected Jesus…

…into this season…
…into this broken world…
…into my home…
…into my life…

Yoga Teaches the Connection between Physical and Spiritual

The practice of yoga has made an impact on my understanding of the connection between mind and body. Love it or hate, think it’s cooky or “far out” – no matter what you think of yoga, a good instructor teaches you to engage the mind and the body.

In yoga, you set an intention for your practice. Sometimes the instructor will talk a bit and give a suggestion. Today, in my class, our instructor was talking about our power to choose. We can choose to be active and engage in the flow of our lives; we can choose how life affects us – even the stuff we cannot control. It’s our choice.

Then, as the physical practice of yoga begins, you set that intention before you as you work in the physical space. Today, I set my intention based on a verse I had just read in Psalm 40: God is my help. As I worked my way into poses that after a year of being absent from a yoga class felt foreign, I focused on my intention. When it was hard to hold a pose or I felt tired, I moved my mind to my mantra for the day: God is my help.

As I work physically in the class to build strength, flexibility and balance, I am also connecting to something non-physical – mainly an intention, idea or prayer. In this way, the practice of yoga has taught me a tangible way to connect my body, mind and spirit. The physical movements of yoga become a prayer…a prayer that changes depending on the difficulty of the pose. Today, God was my helper when I was struggling and tired, but I was reminded that he is also my helper when things come easily and I am at rest.

Learning to connect the physical and the spiritual takes some practice. That’s why I love yoga – I get to practice it every week. But there are other ways to engage the physical with the non-physical realm: praying before meals, breath prayers, keeping a running list of gratitude throughout the day, lighting an advent candle…to name a few. Sometimes it’s the physical act that can stir a deep prayer inside us…sometimes its the prayers themselves that move us into action. Both sides to the coin are important as we live this spiritual life in a physical body.

In what ways do you practice the connection between the physical and the spiritual?

Third Time’s a Charm

I’m happy to announce that we’re expecting our third child sometime in late June! We’re THRILLED!

Our first pregnancy was planned, but it was all new and a bit overwhelming. Then I got pregnant almost right away with my second. And although it was the best surprise ever, I felt I was treading water trying to just make it through. It turned out to be a difficult pregnancy, not least of which had to do with my survival-mode mentality and trying to keep up with another infant and work two jobs (oops).

This time around looks very, very different. I’m trying to be proactive.

I took a good, long look at my lifestyle during my first (and very healthy) pregnancy compared to my second (and very unhealthy) pregnancy. I decided to make a few changes to my diet and lifestyle, and I believe these changes have made a big difference so far.

***I cut out caffeine. This was my number one priority once I saw the pink line on the stick. Since my second pregnancy, I’ve been battling migraines and headaches. I know I am sensitive to caffeine and thought eliminating it would help. I weaned myself very slowly from coffee to green tea to white tea to herbal tea. But once I was caffeine free, my headaches almost completely disappeared. I also noticed chocolate gave me headaches, too, so I’ve cut it out (a pregnant woman without her chocolate – life is sometimes not pretty).

***I’m going to bed earlier. It’s easy to get sucked into TV or the Internet until past my bedtime, but this round, I’m making a concerted effort to go to bed earlier (like when my kids go to bed).

***I’m exercising. This is a big one. I started this pregnancy in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. In fact, before I knew I was pregnant, I ran a 10K. Impressive, huh? Although I did stop running once I knew I was pregnant (not necessary for all people, but something I chose for myself), I’m making an effort to stay in shape in other ways. We joined a gym so I can use the childcare (and it’s winter, so I’m not going outside to exercise!). The gym affords me a variety of exercise options: treadmill, elliptical, light weights, group fitness classes, and the pool. All great options for me during the pregnancy.

I think exercise has made a tremendous difference during my first trimester. In fact, I think this is the first, first trimester that I have exercised – and I feel a lot better. My nausea has decreased, my bowels are regulated and I have more of an appetite (this is the first time I haven’t lost weight during my first trimester). Three cheers for exercise!

***I’ve reset my expectations. My approach to this pregnancy is different. Because I know what to expect (in the fact that pregnancy is HARD WORK), I’ve reset my expectations including my priorities for each day, my to-do lists, my barometer of “feeling good” and my idea of a “cooking”. I’ve also let my children watch more TV, stayed in my pjs most days and have continued to remind myself that this will pass… During other pregnancies, I’ve felt like I’m drowning in the difficulty of managing my health and pregnancy and life. This time, I’m letting a lot of it go, doing my best, and riding the waves of good and bad (also a good lesson for life, isn’t it?). There’s a little person growing inside me, and I am thrilled…the hard work of pregnancy is all worth it.

{It should also be noted that I have the best, most supportive husband ever. He cooks, cleans, takes the kids, and makes late-night runs to JT’s Pizza Depot for Italian Subs. He’s shouldering a lot of extra weight at home as well as working full-time, and he doesn’t complain. He is awesome and supportive and I wouldn’t have had such a balanced, healthy pregnancy so far if it wasn’t for him. End gushing.}


Here’s to my third pregnancy being my healthiest, happiest, most-treasured-and-enjoyed pregnancy yet! I’m holding on through the pregnancy, trying to enjoy it and soak it in, but honestly, I’m most excited to meet my little one at the end of it all.

A Walk Down [Food] Memory Lane

I’ve been thinking about this jam and cream scone I once ate in York, England. My husband and I were newly married and in England checking out a ministry with whom we were considering partnering. Along with ministering, we also did a lot of sight-seeing.

One day, we were in York and I remember being desperate for food. I have a high metabolism, and when I need food, by golly, I need it now. So we searched for a place that was open for late-afternoon food and settled into a cozy table in a tiny cafe just in time for tea.

I ordered a jam and cream scone, not knowing it would be the best I have ever eaten. The scones in Great Britain are different than here – they’re a mix between a biscuit and the type of scone you would think of. So this scone was halved and dripping with strawberry compote and fresh, whipped-nearly-ice-cream-thickness (non-sugary) cream.

I devoured it on the spot and still regret not ordering another one. It was so delicious on every level that I am still thinking about it today, nearly 6 and a half years later.

I know this is a “healthy” blog, and that jam-and-cream scone wouldn’t necessarily fall into the “healthy” category, but it was delicious. And sometimes, the experience and the taste just plain win out when it comes to food. When something is so delicious, we remember it.

What food (healthy or not) has burned a permanent place in your memory?

Costco on a Budget

One of the biggest changes to our budget is setting a certain amount aside for purchases at Costco.

If you’ve never been to Costco, this won’t make sense to you, but if you have, you know the lure of their delicious samples, giant blocks of cheese and HD TVs. But every good deal adds up quickly and I found we couldn’t get out of there spending less than multiples of $100.

So, we set a budget for the food portion of Costco (other purchases like baby wipes, toiletries or motor oil come out of other parts of our budget).

Every two weeks: $50

The first time I walked out of Costco spending this little, I think I had 4 items in my cart and it all felt so wrong. But I’m in a rhythm now. I buy what I need and keep a running list of items I want to purchase on weeks when my “needed” items list is shorter and I have extra to spend.

It’s been a good exercise in discipline, and it keeps my pantry and fridge from becoming over-crowded, too. It also makes me use what I have rather than simply stocking up on all kinds of things that I want (or just want to have on hand). I’m surprised how much natural and even organic items are available at Costco, so I really need to keep a reign on the budget so I’m not buying 4 lbs of quinoa the same week I buy 10 lbs of brown rice.

Anyone else have a Costco or Sam’s Club budget? Has it been helpful to you?


I’m writing about what we’re learning about food budgeting as part of a project of other bloggers who are doing the same. If this topic interests you – eating well on a budget – then check out what these other bloggers are writing about.

Two Eggs Over Easy

Upping my Meal-Plan Planning

This week I upped the ante, so to speak, and I tried to plan for two weeks at a time instead of one, and I added breakfast to my plan as well.

I had been doing so well doing a loose two-week plan and then filling in the details week to week that I thought it would be no problem to add in a second week. NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS!

I worked on my two-week plan one morning when I had a sitter to watch the girls; and as I organized and planned, I slowly got a headache.

Then, when I went shopping to execute said plan (with the intention of only going to the stores once for the whole two weeks), I overspent my budget by $20. Oops.

It’s all a process and I know the learning curve for me to plan and execute within my budget will take some time. So I’m giving myself grace. This is the first time I’ve overspent my budget since I started planning and getting serious about my budget, so I’m not getting in a tizzy over this particular $20. I will, however, resort back to week-to-week planning and once-a-week grocery trips.

On the other hand, the breakfast planning has been pure genius! After a few rough mornings of trying to come up with a breakfast idea based on what I felt like making and what I had time to make before my 19mo’s protests of “hung-key” reached epic levels, I decided I needed a plan.

Here it is:

Monday: eggs and toast
Tuesday: blender pancakes (I can’t remember where I got the recipe I am using, but it’s similar to this one)
Wednesday: baked oatmeal or overnight steel-cut oats
Thursday: waffles
Friday: cold cereal or leftovers
Saturday: [pumpkin] pancakes
Sunday: oatmeal with raisins

I love having a morning plan before the morning starts. Some of these recipes take prep the night before, which I thought would be a pain, but it’s easy and makes the mornings run more smoothly. Plus, I’ve worked the breakfast list into my budget for the week, so I know I always have everything on hand that I need.


This post is part of  a series called Project: Food Budget. A bunch of bloggers are participating – check out their posts, too, if you’re interested:

Recipe Links

Here are a few links to recipes that I’m excited to try. I guess I should try them before I post about them, but I’m feeling a little reckless, so here you go – untested recipes I’m excited to try. Let me know if you try and like any of these!


I love baked oatmeal and usually use the version in Simply in Season, but I’m excited to try this Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal. One thing I love about it is that the recipe calls for you to prep it the night before and let it hang out in the fridge to pop in the oven in the morning.

My oldest turns 3 next week and she’s requested macaroni and cheese for her birthday dinner. I’m excited to try this recipe in the crock pot.

I cooked some rice last night and I’m going to try this very simple recipe for rice milk.

Sometimes Plan B Means Pulling Through a Drive-thru (and not feeling guilty…)

Last Friday I had the perfect end-of-week meal planned: local, organic, grass-fed burgers with roasted squash and “french fries” (i.e. roasted potatoes in the shape of fries)…also from our CSA.

I rushed home from an outing with the girls to chop the potatoes and get everything ready for dinner.Partway through the baking process, I tried to flip the potatoes, only to discover that not only was I flipping the potatoes, but with every turn, I was pulling up parts of the non-stick pan as well…and those non-stick parts were definitely sticking to my potatoes.

By this time, the burgers were ready for the grill and my family was getting hungry. So I jumped in the car, waived bye to my toddlers and husband, and drove myself to the nearest Culvers, where I ordered a family size french fry and brought it home (to some cheers) to my family.

Sometimes the best-laid [local, organic, homemade] plans fall through… And it’s times like these that I’m thankful for fast food and I serve and eat it guilt-free. Sometimes Plan B means fast food…and I’m okay with that. After all, keeping my sanity is part of living a healthy life – and last Friday night, those deep-fried french fries saved a little dose of my sanity.