Our 30 Day Challenge is Over!!! or is it…

may flowers

Happy May Day!! I love May! It’s my birthday month, my sister’s birthday month, many of my friends birthday month, so there is always a lot of celebrating in May. This year it’s also the month my baby brother graduates from high school. I mentioned that in my blog yesterday and I still can’t believe it!

Another great thing about today being May 1st is that it’s the end of our Whole30 challenge {insert cheers and hurrahs}!

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This month was HARD, but so good. I pretty much fell off the bandwagon this weekend and as Jason keeps telling me…it’s okay, I was still successful. The struggles I had with food this month exposed some lies that I’ve believed about myself for a very long time. I’m still processing through it all and I’m thankful that God used this month for more than just getting me physically healthy.

BUT

I did get physically healthy!! I’ve mentioned countless times before that this diet has balanced my energy levels and helped me sleep soundly and I’m SO grateful for that. I’ve never felt better since I’ve been consistent with eating Whole30!

whole30 yes and no

Here are my full results from this month:

  • 4.5 lbs. Lost (wasn’t expecting that)
  • I lost 3.5 inches around my waist (yay! I’m a full size smaller!)
  • I lost 7.5 inches total!
  • My skin has been clearer, brighter, and more moisturized than ever before.
  • My energy levels are balanced. (I know I keep mentioning that, but it’s just amazing to me!)
  • I’m more “regular”.
  • My menstrual cycle seems like it’s regulating as well. (Maybe some actual healing will take place in that area!)
  • It’s pretty certain that I have a FODMAPS allergy and we are still learning which veggies to avoid.
  • My husband looks awesome! 🙂

Jason was a ROCKSTAR this month! He lost 12 lbs and 7 inches!! And he only worked out 5 days this month because of an injury. We’ve learned that for him, if he wants to continue to lose weight, it will happen most successfully in the kitchen. We are getting back to the gym this month, so I am positive that we are going to have to throw out all of his clothes by June and purchase him an entire new wardrobe! Too bad his birthday was in February! 🙂

We’ve talked pretty seriously about making this diet more of our lifestyle and less of a month long challenge. I think we will have a cheat day built in each week because all food can and should be enjoyed. Jason and I desire to live our lives filled with energy and yummy food, so we are going to work on finding our personal balance.

Thanks for following us on this month long journey! I hope that you are encouraged by our attempt to eat healthy in the month of April!

Happy May Day from the Wood’s!

Picture taken in New Zealand...

Picture taken in New Zealand…

April Showers Bring May Flowers

April is becoming a favorite month of mine in the desert.  We don’t have the thunderstorms that my Iowa friends are “blessed” with right now and I do miss that, but I love this desert weather. The nights and mornings are still cool and the days are warm enough for a tank top and jeans. Today might be a little too hot though! 100 degrees is not spring weather for this Iowa girl!

As I thumbed through my calendar this morning reviewing our activities this month, I was amazed by all of our activities! It was an emotionally challenging month, but filled with many evidences of God’s grace in my life.

1)   At the beginning of April, our adoption process took a turn we weren’t anticipating. Through the pain and confusion came a deeper trust in God and a growing faith that God does works all things for the good of His children, even when it doesn’t make sense to my human brain.

2)   On April 6th, we had the World’s Biggest Rummage Sale! Hundreds of people came out and supported us. We were thrilled to bring in over $3,000 in that one day! God confirmed to us that He would provide for us during this faith journey!

Still amazed at God's provision!

Still amazed at God’s provision!

3)   Whole30! Jason and I are completing our Whole30 challenge today! It was one of the hardest things I have done and it shed a lot of light into the way that I view food. I will delve into that tomorrow!

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4)   We had dinner dates with lots of new and old friends this month! Meals and coffee shared with friends are my favorite. I’m about to start a book that speaks to the importance of creating memories with others over shared meals. Can’t wait to start! A favorite dinner this month was with a family who adopted two children from the same country as us! Jason and I loved listening to their stories and are very excited about the friendship that is budding!

5)   I posted blogs more frequently this month than any previous month! My goal is to blog 3-5 times a week. I have loved learning more about blogging and writing this month. Soon I plan on changing a few things up on this site, which is very exciting! Be on the look out!

6)   Baby-sitting was a part-time “job” for me this month! I love having the flexibility in my schedule to serve the moms of our church in this way. This past weekend, Jason and I watched adorable toddlers for 24 hours straight. That was a lesson in parenting and patience! I now have a greater respect for all of you moms out there who function on a daily basis with interrupted sleep! I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous about this upcoming change in my life.

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That was only a sneak peek into our month! I’m looking forward to May because I think that there will be even more memories created over dinners and trips that Jason and I are taking! My birthday kicks off the month right 🙂 and I think  Jason is already making it one of my favorite with a sweet card he gave me yesterday.

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And then I am traveling back to Iowa for a week to help my mom prepare the house for my brother’s high school graduation. AND my baby brother graduates from high school??? What?!?

Isn't he handsome?

Isn’t he handsome?

What were your highlights from April? What are you looking forward to in May?

Hi, My Name is Sarah and I’ve been Ice Cream Free for 24 days…

My absolute favorite ice cream (I may have eating a tub in one setting a few years ago...)

My absolute favorite ice cream (I may have eating a tub in one setting a few years ago…)

This week was HARRRD!! I confess that I even cheated a few times these past few days. I hate that I did and I’ve been feeling guilty over my weaknesses. Thankfully I have a husband who reminded me that there’s grace and I’m not getting graded on this challenge. He even encouraged me through telling me that this was the longest I have gone without cheating on a diet since he has known me.

He’s pretty great 🙂

It’s so easy to focus on the failures and not remember the wins that I have had over the past 24 days, check out my other updates here and here. And if you’re wondering what my failures were, you can ask. In the grand scheme of things, they weren’t bad, but I still am disappointed that I “gave in”.

There’s my confession for the day! Instead of focusing on how I failed with only one week left, I wanted to share the wins that I’ve noticed this week.

  • I’m still waking up very easily and feeling refreshed! I think that it has a lot to do with my sugar intake…or lack thereof.
  • Speaking of sugar…I haven’t indulged in a bowl of ice cream for 24 days!!! That is a miracle in and of itself!
  • I consistently enjoy three solid meals a day. I was notorious for having coffee for breakfast and skipping lunch. That has changed because I am so hungry and need to eat something good so that I don’t cheat (some of my cheats were because I did skip a meal)
  • I’m losing more weight…or maybe just losing the bloated feeling. We will see what the scale says next week.
  • My awesome hubby has definitely lost weight and hasn’t cheated at all! He is an example of determination for me in this process. He even turned down delicious nachos last night with a buddy!

Am I ready for this challenge to be over? MOST DEFINITELY!!! At the same time, I don’t think that a lot of my habits will change. I have enjoyed feeling pretty good most of the time (definitely have a FODMAPS issue though) and I LOVE waking up easily and feeling ready to take on the day.

I am declaring May 4th a big ol’ cheat day though! My birthday isn’t right unless I have ice cream and my mama’s recipe of “coffee pie” (hint, hint Jason :)).

I leave you with this question…do you focus too much on your failures rather than celebrating the wins in your life? How can you reverse that thought pattern?

Daily Choices

“I could see myself doing this after the 30 days.”

Those are the words that actually came out of my mouth on Saturday (day 13)! This past week of eating a strict, clean Paleo diet has been surprisingly easy and enjoyable. We’ve been eating yummy food and focusing more on what we can eat rather than what we can’t eat.

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I won’t lie, though, I’ve had my cravings. Facebook & Pinterest have been my vices as it seems everyone is posting delicious sugar-packed desserts and I find myself drooling over the computer screen! Thankfully I have a husband who is all in on the challenge and won’t let me cave.

This weekend we lived our lives outside of our home a little more since we didn’t have a huge rummage sale to organize and run. I was a little nervous about how I would manage with illegal, yummy food staring me in the face. To say I was a little surprised at our resolve is an understatement.

Friday night, we went on a date to see the movie “42” (which was SPECTACULAR). My senses were instantly heightened as we walked into the theater and were hit with the butter-infused air. Jason and I literally walked side-ways as we passed the concessions stand! It was hard, but we did it. It also helped that we brought almonds and cashews with us to satisfy that salty, crunchy craving.

Saturday we spent our morning at a coffee shop where I would usually purchase a vanilla latte and a scone, but instead I chose to go with the smooth poor-over coffee and fully enjoyed it ALONE! Saturday night we went out with the Rev Up small group leaders to play video games (because that’s what leaders in student ministries do, right?)! There were chips and pretzels and soda, but thankfully we have a gracious student ministry pastor who brought us a veggie dish to munch on (thanks Jared!).

THEN on Sunday we went out for lunch with some friends after church and we both ate a whole30 approved salad (no cheese and only olive oil and balsamic vinegar for our dressing). One thing I’ve realized from this past weekend was that our social life doesn’t have to be stifled because of our diet. We just have to be aware and be prepared.

Here are some of our most asked questions:

What do you miss the most? I honestly thought I would miss chocolate or ice cream the most, but I’m actually missing a glass of wine with dinner or a bottle of wine shared with friends. There’s just something about that experience that I miss, but going 30 days without the wine hasn’t been hard.

How do you feel? I feel great! I did have an intense stomach issue over the weekend and we think that it may be because of something called FODMAPs but I also may have had a stomach bug. We are going to slowly integrate the FODMAP foods back into my diet over the next week to see if it is a digestive issue or I was just sick. I’m hoping that I was just sick because I don’t want to stop eating asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, apples, etc… But if it is this we will just work with it and limit those in my diet. Other than that bought, I’ve had energy all day. I’ve woken up before 6 am and have stayed up. My 2pm crash doesn’t happen anymore and I fall asleep instantly at night.

What have you been eating? Eggs, salads, beefalo, chicken, pork, sweet potatoes, nuts for snacks, fruit, every kind of vegetable and water…lots of water. Tonight we had a delicious meal of roasted zucchini and  California Style Chicken (chicken, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic YUM)

Will you continue this after the 30 days? I will definitely keep limiting my dairy and sugar intake and completely stay away from grains, but I will probably include wine more regularly again.

Have you noticed any physical changes? I’m not supposed to step on the scale during this month, and my goal wasn’t to lose weight during this time, but I have noticed that my jeans slide on much easier… My husband has noticeably lost weight though! I wouldn’t be surprised it he loses close to 15 pounds by the end of the month!

We are over half way through April which means that we have only 13 more days left of our challenge! It’s hard to believe how fast this has gone and yet how much my mindset over food has changed. I don’t have the urge to eat whatever is in front of me anymore. I feel like I do have the choice to say no and be okay with it now more than I did three weeks ago. I’m learning that the daily practice of “sticking with it” really can change the attitude I have about longevity in the hard stuff.This discipline has also carried over into other parts of my life, such as waking up earlier and staying on task longer. It’s been a long time since I’ve stuck with something this long that would cause me to daily make “sacrifices” over the things that I want over the things that I need. It has been such a good lesson for me in that I can do something hard for 30 days and not feel like I’m being tortured the whole time! 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I’m interested to see how the next 13 days play out!

Our God Satisfies…not food

I didn’t want to write a post today, but I had committed to blogging about Whole30 on Wednesday. And it’s Wednesday and we are 10 days into our Whole30 program. I would be lying if I said that this was easy. It’s been hard, but hard in ways I didn’t expect. Black coffee-no problem! No pastries-no biggie! Wine-eh a little harder! The rest of this post will speak into a little of our eating over the week, but mainly how God satisfied our souls in the midst of pain and struggle.

Last Tuesday (note-one day into our month-long challenge) I received a call from our agency regarding our adoption. I can’t go into details, but I can say that the bottom dropped out from underneath me. The plans that Jason and I were making about our future family came to a complete stop and changed course that day. I was broken. I was hurting and I was confused. I remember attempting to read the scripture passage from my #shereadstruth study for the day and fought God in the words that King David was saying. 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” It was hard to believe those words for my life at that moment because I didn’t see the good in what had happened.

But I knew that in God’s sovereignty, He had given me that text for that very day to remind me that His love endures and that He is always good, even so my heart struggled to believe it. But I knew that the only One who could handle my devastation and brokenness was my Abba Father. He was near and He did care. I knew that going to my crutches of food and tv were not going to heal my heart. So I spent all day crying out to Him, the one who “puts my tears in His bottle (psalm 56)”. The next day I sent out an email to our friends and family who knew our situation and asked them to pray for healing, for understanding and for just plain, old energy to organize and run the massive rummage sale we were having on Saturday.

Thursday morning we both woke up with a peace that passed any of our own understanding. We knew that God was using the prayers of our community to hold us together. We were still bone-tired and hurting, but we had hope. We had hope that God would use what happened in our adoption story for His glory and for our good. God began to gently turn my face towards His grace and mercy and reminded me that He did not leave me alone in this and that He was not surprised. My prayer began to be that this hurdle would be a testimony of God’s faithfulness in our lives and that I would be quick to point to Jesus in our story.

The day of our rummage sale was a miracle day. God used that day to do a great work on my heart in showing me how Great of a God he is. We had so many friends come to our house at 6 am to help start moving the piles and piles of “stuff” in our house. (And they were all gracious towards me as I had a minor meltdown at 7 am! Thankfully that was my only one) By 7:30 we had buyers in the parking lot and for the next 9 hours we had a steady stream of people rummaging through our items. So many of our church friends came out to help and to donate. I realized even more that day how blessed Jason and I are to be a part of the Revolution church community.

What blew me away was the generosity of strangers! If their total came to be $5 they would give $10 or $20 extra! Some people didn’t want to buy anything but they gave us $20 anyway. Strangers were interested in our story and were encouraged by what God was doing in our lives. It’s hard for me to put into words how I felt that day and for the days after. We know that God moved mightily on Saturday because when we totaled up our sales, we had brought in over $3000! At church on Sunday a friend told me that could only be a God thing because people don’t make $3K at garage sales! I agreed.

The last few days have been a bit of a fog as I’m still tired from the sale and the clean up from the weekend. I was journaling this morning and began to think about all the things God has revealed to me about Himself in these past 10 days. These are my top Three:

1. Our God Satisfies… Nothing and No one  could have met me in the pain that I experienced as intimately and uniquely as the comfort that Jesus gave me those first few days. His comfort and His love never ceases to fill my heart. Food only satisfies for a brief moment and then guilt comes. There is no guilt in the satisfaction of God.

2. Jesus dwells in my story. At church on Sunday, Josh laid out how Jesus entered into history to save us and to meet us where we are. He knew this would happen and He knows how my story will end. I can trust Him.

3. When trouble happens in life, you have to seek out community. If I would have kept what happened from our closest friends and family I think my heart would still be broken and the sin of bitterness would have crept in. By asking people to pray for us, it allowed others to intercede for us when we didn’t have the strength or the words.

I know this post is a little longer than normal, so thanks for hanging with me on this one! If you were wondering, we were able to eat on the Whole30 program the entire time with only one minor hiccup because of poor planning. God’s grace was sufficient.

Confessions + Commitments + Grace

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Today marks the day that I am committing to eating pure paleo for 30 days…gulp…

First, let me explain what Whole30 is. In a nutshell it is: Eating REAL FOOD-meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.

What we will not be eating processed foods, dairy, sugars (of any kind-including maple syrup and honey), alcohol, grains, legumes, MSG, sulfates, white potatoes, and did I mention sugar?

I have a confession-I am terrible at self-discipline in regard to food and drink. Tell me to go to the gym or to read my Bible every day and I can do it, but with food-that’s a different story. Let’s just go back to last year when Jason and I decided to do a 21 day purification diet recommended to us by our chiropractor. I was eating a scone from Starbucks the second night…by myself…so no one would know. I would stop at a gas station to buy peanut butter m & m’s…you get the story.

I have an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s what I go to when I’m nervous, bored, sad, or even really happy (let’s celebrate with ice cream!). I know this needs to change and I want it to change. Food is a gift from God. It’s meant to be enjoyed and shared, but to me it’s become something else…something unhealthy…

We came across the whole30 program a few weeks ago. I was intrigued. I had started to notice that it was  crazy, hard chore to wake up in the morning before 6:45 and I was monster truck-crashing in the afternoons. The long and short of it is that I haven’t been feeling myself. It was after I read It Starts with Food (the creators of Whole30) that I knew it was time for a change. I felt like I was reading my own journey with food when Melissa Hartwig shared a little of her transformation:

I’d always had an unhealthy relationship with food. Food was my best friend and my worst enemy. It was punishment or reward, control or powerlessness. I went through stages of extreme dieting and extreme exercise. But after just thirty days on this new plan, my relationship with food was different. For the first time in my life, food made me feel good. (And not just the quick-and-dirty “good” that comes with the first few bites of ice cream…). My energy levels skyrocketed-and stablized. I felt as peppy at 6 a.m. as I did at noon as I did at 6 p.m. I started losing body fat without even trying. My performance in the gym, which had plateaued, suddenly started improving again…

I read that and I knew that my sugar addiction and my unhealthy relationship with food was the culprit. But I also realized something else…food had become an idol in my life. I had been turning to food as a way to control the uncertainty that I have been facing with the future of this year. I had not been turning to the One who promises peace and the One who holds the whole world in His hands.

This month will be much more than a 30 days  to “get more healthy” challenge for me. I do hope it will happen, but my hope is to turn to Jesus and lay my burdens at His feet rather than turn to the fridge for a cheap fix.

I’m sharing this with my small readership because I’m asking if you would consider finding the idols in your life that you turn to rather than to God, the One who has graciously given us all things (Romans 8:32).

After coming off an Easter weekend and being deeply reminded of the gravity of our sin and the immeasurable love of God, spend some time considering where in life you are finding your heart turn to when you’re bored, hurting, or happy. And join me for the next thirty days in finding your peace and comfort in the only One who truly satisfies the cravings of your heart.

Follow me on twitter and facebook to see how my progression changes throughout these 30 days! Every Wednesday for the month of April I plan on giving a recap here on the blog of the previous week, so if you haven’t already-click the subscribe button on the top right hand side of this page to get this blog sent to your email every time I post something (you can also keep up to date with our adoption that way too!).

I’m nervous about this first week. I know I will have headaches and my mood will not be pleasant, but I’m hoping that by trusting in the grace and strength of God there will be small victories and sweet times with the Lord.

Join me???