Thriving at Home: Health & Wholeness // Part 2 of 5
Today’s guest post is from my dear friend, Hannah! I love her words about thriving in the area of health & wholeness. She was graciously willing to contribute to my series about thriving at home (specifically as stay-at-home moms, but still applicable to all sorts of mama-situations). Encouragement to flourish at home, not just make-it-through and survive. By God’s grace, you can thrive at home, mama bear!
Hey there, friends. Mamas, warriors, queens! I would be willing to bet big as you’re clicking on this blog link and scanning over these words here, you are also multitasking about 207 other things and a kid is talking to you and there is food on the stove. Let me encourage you to take some deep breaths and wrap up your other tasks. Distract your child(ren) the best you can for just a moment while you sit back with (preferably hot) coffee or tea and read what I’m about to share with you. Not because my words are important, or because I’m important, but because you are. You are special, and you deserve a little break. But first, introductions!
My name is Hannah and I’m a stay-at-home mama to a 21-month-old little boy. My husband, Travis, and I are also in the process of adopting another little guy who recently turned three. Of all the jobs I’ve had, being a mom is my FAVE! Jesus won my whole heart some time ago, and since then I’ve become more passionate about all sorts of things. I am happiest when I’m in my kitchen with no time constraints (haha–I know–hilarious), getting a solid workout or sitting in a quiet space with my Bible and my pen, writing away. A little over four years ago, God taught me a huge lesson on how investing in my personal health is necessary in order to invest in His kingdom, and since then I’ve really never been the same. Don’t you love how Jesus is always doing that? Refining us, making us more like Him, exposing what doesn’t belong & replacing it with His goodness…amen? I am so honored that Jana asked me to pop over here and share with y’all today. I’ll try not to be too cheesy, but lookout–it’s kind of my style. 🙂
Starting with my story
Let’s crack open our Bibles & dive right in to one of my favorites, John 15:4-7 (ESV):
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Mamas, I don’t know about you (and I’m pretty new to this mom title still) but I must say that, more often than not, since becoming a mom I feel pulled in so many directions. Even with just one child, there is never really a moment in my day where I am not needed by someone: my baby, husband, students I volunteer with, friends, family members…you get the picture. I think as mothers sometimes it’s easy to slip into the mindset that we are the tree, because children are so needy and we meet their needs most of the time. The reality is we are a branch, desperate for the nutrients, peace & sustaining presence of the true tree, Jesus. When we’re not focused on our own spiritual well-being, which by the way does include our physical well-being, then what do we have to offer our children and others in our life? A withered branch. This is why it’s not simply a “good thing to do” to put our health first as moms–it’s a command. It’s biblical. It’s how Jesus calls us to live.
A little over four years ago the Holy Spirit started calling me to change some habits in my life. I was at the height of my career in corporate training world and worked a lot of hours, traveling and eating take-out way more than I’d care to admit. I let myself off the hook for exercising because I was “so busy” with work and in my free time I volunteered with high school students at our church. Besides that, I really relied on food as my primary source of comfort. I spent lots of evenings eating copious amounts of popcorn while watching TV with Travis because we were both too tired to do anything else. I turned to carbs after stressful work days and took advantage of every “celebration” in life to indulge in something sweet. I used food to temporarily escape harder things in my life, instead of entrusting those things to Jesus. The worst part of all this was I didn’t even realize what was happening. Food was an idol for me, but it took some Holy Spirit intervention to help me see that. Honestly Travis and I had always been happy with our life, but God started stirring something in my heart early on that year that I just couldn’t ignore. There’s more for you than this.
I struggled with my weight since I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2008 (you can read more about that journey over on my blog). I’ll be real with you: mood swings and hormonal imbalances make it pretty tough to manage food cravings, not to mention different medications and their best friends: side effects. It was easy to look at my situation and what God had helped me to overcome, and sort of gloss over aspects of my lifestyle that were simply not Jesus-like. But that’s one of the cool things about Jesus–He’s never done working on us! I felt this deep urge in my soul, first to simply get up and move, to be active. So I listened. I started making mornings “my time.” I’d get up, spend a little time in my Bible or journaling, then I would do an exercise program called “Eight Minutes in the Morning” by Jorge Cruise. I’m not kidding you when I say this program was as basic as it gets (look it up if you’re starting from ground zero) but I was falling in love with the concept of waking up and moving my body.
I started making the connection between exercising and mindfulness of Jesus. I was more alert, more engaged and more present in all my daily interactions. Around the same time, I started cleaning up my diet. Essentially I started out with trying to eat more vegetables. I made a goal to have them with every meal, and this naturally helped weed out a lot of the bad things I ate. Sometimes it’s really less about the splurges you are eating, and more about what you’re NOT eating when you splurge. I started reading a ton and learning about the science behind food. Most of all, I downright fell head-over-heels in love with cooking. A lot of my friends don’t realize this, but cooking wasn’t always a passion for me. It was something that came in time with abiding in Jesus. In order to have healthy eating habits, you have to cook. In order to cook, you need more time at home. It’s just that simple. I started spending less time watching TV or being on my phone and more time meal planning, reading cookbooks and trying new recipes. This was such a fun time of discovery & experimenting!! And I do think it’s also worth mentioning: I lost roughly 40 pounds and I’ve never looked back!
My passion for exercise and healthy eating has grown and evolved over these last few years, but one thing remains the same: it is all rooted in Jesus.
Jesus has shown me over and over and over again that putting my health first makes me a better disciple. It is part of abiding in Him; it makes me the best version of myself and paves the way to fully thriving at home. Instead of offering a withered, tired branch to my family and friends, I can give an engaged mind, a listening heart, intentional prayer and, if they’re lucky, a fresh batch of protein muffins! 🙂
When we began the adoption process with our first son in 2015, I was taken aback by some passing comments from moms in my life. Comments like: “enjoy those workouts now, before you’re sleep deprived” or “I remember when I had more time to cook too before I had kids” or “you’re so lucky you’re not going to be gaining all that weight back since you’re not going the pregnant route.” YIKES. I know in my heart these women meant no harm with their words. But, let’s remember, ladies: words are powerful, and we should use that power to speak life and encouragement. Our adoption journey was not an easy one, but I started to feel such an intense gratitude toward the Lord and the lifestyle changes He called me to the previous year. I already had amazing habits in place to carry us through one of the hardest chapters in our lives. God’s grace allowed me to experience His presence and strength through my workouts in a way I’ve never experienced. He taught me how movement can be an act of worship, and suddenly exercising became a whole new way to connect with Jesus. I didn’t need food for comfort anymore; Jesus was more than enough.
Fast forward to now and life with two toddler boys (although I’m a brand new mom of two). Spoiler alert: I still workout more days than not and I still love cooking. This is not because I’m awesome or some sort of “special” type of mom. It’s because God is awesome and when we abide in Him and keep our branches firmly, unwaveringly connected to His source of life, He leads us to these healthy habits. He pours out His grace, and shows us He has so much more for us than we could ever imagine.
Let’s get practical
So, let’s talk about some practical ways you can create healthy habits in your home and thrive!
First, spend some time answering the following questions:
1. Are there activities/hobbies/etc. you could say no to, in order to make room for something else God has for you? (Example: for me this was watching TV at night, which giving up then enabled me to be in bed by 9 and wake up between 5-6am every day.)
2. Do you enjoy cooking?
If yes > what are barriers keeping you from making balanced, nutrient rich foods? Are they barriers you could remove? Who in your life could help with this?
If no > how much time are you devoting to meal planning, prepping, cooking, etc.? What does that process currently look like for you? Who in your life could help with this?
3. Do you exercise regularly (3-5 times a week)?
4. What’s one new habit you could start working on this coming week?
Meal planning help
Most Affordable (and a good sweat sesh!): TPCC Fitness
If you haven’t checked out the fitness classes at Traders Point Christian Church, you’re missing out on a crazy good deal and quality trainers. At just $13 for a monthly unlimited pass, you simply can’t beat it. I enjoy their bootcamp classes from time to time, though you should get there early–they fill up fast! Did I mention they have childcare? And it’s only $2? Yeah…your coffee costs more than that for sure. 🙂
Best At Home Workout: Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides
I started using Kayla Itsines’ BBG workout after I lost my first 20lbs of weight and was ready for a new challenge. Every workout is the same format and, even though the workouts are only 30 minutes, they are TOUGH. I absolutely love her style and still go back to these from time to time. Now Kayla has an entire fitness empire and a subscription app and all the things, but I’m pretty sure you can still get the basic ebooks, which is what I used. There are 2 levels and they are fantastic. You really will be amazed at the results you see in your strength! Let me hear you say “push-ups!!!”
Best YouTube Yoga: Yoga by Candace
I love this chick’s method and coaching. Plus she has her workouts organized by length, so it’s easy to find something based on how much time you have. I generally gravitate toward 30 minute restorative hip routines. Enjoy!
Mamas, you are not alone and it is never too late. No matter where you are in your health or mama-journey, don’t be overwhelmed by the big picture. Jesus takes care of that. Thriving at home is a process, and caring for our body & health is part of that process. Don’t miss out on the absolute best Jesus has for you. He has more for us than simply surviving–He designed us to thrive! When we invest in our health, we invest in our families. Keep taking things one day at a time, making the small changes you need to make & seeking Jesus’ presence and calling in all of it. It won’t be long before He’s totally transformed your life and made you whole. You’ll find yourself in the middle of your home, surrounded by your children, laundry, food prep or maybe (probably) all of these things, and you’ll feel the peace that surpasses all of your previous understanding. Sure, there will be tough days, but you’ll be ready for them because you are strong and equipped for whatever your day holds. That, my friend, is thriving at home and you are worth it.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35 ESV)
A fellow branch,
You can read more thoughts from Hannah over on her blog!
And here is Part 1 in the series: Be Present.