1. Don't bring your favorite sweet treat into the house. If you know you can't resist the temptation of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice cream then don't bring it in your house. Most of the time that we overeat on sweets is in our own home so keep it free of temptations
2. Watch out for hidden sugars in your drinks. From Gatorade, Frapuccinos, Creamers, Ice tea... these drinks could be keeping your from your healthy weight. Read the labels and if your drink is sweetened cut back or cut it out. Of course we all know that sodas are bad for us and if you struggle to cut them out try drinking 2/3 carbonated water and 1/3 100% juice.
3. Eat fresh fruit. When you are craving something sweet try a handful of grapes or a juicy piece of watermelon. The natural sugar in juice is much better than the added sugar in other sweets.
4. Eat Small Square of High Cocoa Dark Chocolate. 1" square of dark chocolate can do wonders to satisfy the sugar craving. Now beside to not eat the whole bar, just one small piece should do the trick
5. Exercise Self Control. Talk about how we need to believe we can say no and how fruit of the spirit is self control.
1. Pray - really, not just saying this because it's the "Christian thing" to say. Spend time talking with God about your health and ask Him to help you to make healthier choices. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that God cares about all the things we care about so if you worry or care about your health talk to Him about it.
2. Make a Plan. Write out what you will eat (or better yet, follow th menu plan that's included with our f4 Plan), schedule your workouts. Don't just say I'll workout 3 times this week. Write them in your calendar (put reminders in your phone too). Set weekly goals and post them where you will see them throughout your day.
3. Drink Water - most of us walk around somewhat dehydrated. We often think we are hungry when we are actually just thirsty. Water also gives us a feeling of being full. Studies show that if you drink 8 ounces of water before a meal that you will eat less.
4. Eat more vegetables. Vegetables have so many great nutrients and vitamins and are often low in calories. When planning your menu try and add as much color to it as you can. Add some Beets, Kale, Carrots, Brussel Sprouts to your diet. We just added to our f4 Plan a great Brussel sprout recipe that includes roasted grapes and goat cheese! Great way to get in loads of veggies is to make a big pot of veggie soup and have a bowl for a snack or part of your meal.
5. Follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I eat really healthy and 20% of the time I eat kind of healthy. I don't expect to always stick with only the healthiest of food choices and I don't feel like I've failed when I eat foods that aren't that healthy. Now I'm not ever going to go and eat a bunch of Oreos (sugar is the only thing I've pretty much eliminated from my diet) but I will eat a burger and fries without guilt but it's not something I'd do everyday.
If you know my story you’ve heard me share that for the first 40 years of my life I didn’t even think about God. It wasn’t that I heard the story of Jesus and chose not to believe it, I never heard the story. When I did hear the message, it penetrated my heart and gave my life a real purpose. The question that gnaws aways at so many of us, “What am I here for?” was answered.
My purpose was rooted in helping others understand the life changing Good News of Jesus. Now, this might not seem like a super exciting purpose to you, but all I can tell you is it was a game changer to me. I began to look at people differently, I found it easier to love those that used to irritate me, my every day living had a purpose so much bigger than trying to make myself happy.
I remember when the words “Born Again Christian” used to freak my out. I pictured some weird cult that I wanted to stay far away from. Now, I am thankful beyond belief that God has given me a new way of living. That because of His power in me, I can live differently.
I love this quote from C.S Lewis “God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature.”
I am so far from having it all figured out but I have hope that tomorrow I will live with more love for people because I believe that God is there to help me to become more like Him.
My name is Michelle Spadafora and I couldn’t be happier to be “Born Again”!
Want to move towards better health? I believe small changes can add up to BIG results. Here are 6 simple "swaps" that will move you down the path to better health.
1. Old Way: Flavored Potato Chips and Dip
New Way: Plain Potato Chips (even better Vegetables) and Healthy Dip
If you look at the list of ingredients on a bag of flavored potato chips, you’ll likely see that you’re getting a whole lot more than just some added “flavor.” Here’s the ingredient list on my potato chip bag “potatoes, oil, salt”. Here’s the ingredients for flavored BBQ chips: “potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower, corn and/or canola oil), bbq seasoning (sugar, dextrose, salt, malted barley flour, torula yeast, molasses, maltodextrin [made from corn], natural flavors [including natural smoke flavor], spices, paprika, corn starch, tomato powder, garlic powder, yeast extract, onion powder, and paprika extract).”
Who wants to be eating all of that?!? Keep it clean and stick with plain chips.
Now, a lot of people love dipping their chips in some creamy French onion dip. But look at the ingredients in this dip!?
“Water, Canola Oil, Modified Corn Starch, Onion, Sugar, Whey Protein Concentrate, Butter Oil, and Less than 2% of the Following: Hydrolyzed Corn and Wheat Gluten, Onion Powder, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Sour Cream (Cultured Cream, Skim Milk), Skim Milk, Cream, Natural Flavor, Lactic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Acetic Acid, DATEM, Artificial Color (Including Yellow 5), Citric Acid, and Sodium Ascorbate (to Preserve Freshness).”
Here is the recipe for the “Healthy Dip” that is on our online cookbook that is part of our f4 Plan. 1 cup of plain yogurt (pick one with high protein and lower sugar - ideally protein over 20g and sugar under 10g. Organic is best), 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder, 1/2 tsp dried dill, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/2 tsp dried tarragon and add a splash of hot sauce if you are a spice lover.
And potato chips aren’t the only thing that you can use in this dip! Better yet, try this dip with Jicama or cucumbers and snack with no guilt!
2. Old Way: 2 tbsp. Canola or Vegetable Oil (as required by many recipes)
New Way: 2 tbsp. vegetable broth
This is super simple - when sautéing vegetables or meat use vegetable broth instead of oil. Not only is it a healthier option, I think it also makes the food taste better. Another healthy swap would be to switch the type of oil you are using. When sautéing at a high heat it is best to use an oil that can handle the heat. My favorites are avocado oil and coconut oil (sometime soon I’ll blog about the health benefits of these oils!)
3. Old Way: 8 oz glass of juice
New Way: 2 oz. of 100% juice and sparkling (or tap) water
Many of the juices on the grocery store shelves are loaded with sugar. First off, I suggest only buying 100% real juice, but even drinking straight up 100% juice can be tough on our body. Our body can process the natural sugars that are in fruit and vegetables but when we drink juice, it’s a lot of sugar coming in quickly. On average, it takes 4 oranges to make an 8oz of juice. We most likely wouldn’t sit and eat 4 oranges in just a few minutes but that’s what we’re doing when we drink a glass of juice. I suggest diluting your juice (and your kids’ juice) with sparkling water. You still have a bit of the sweetness from the juice but using 2 oz of juice and 6 oz of water is much healthier (plus, the sparkling water addition really does make it so tasty and refreshing!)
4. Old Way: Ham and cheese sandwich
New Way: Open-faced turkey and avocado sandwich
For many years, we were told on the food pyramid that we should eat mainly grains, which includes bread, pasta, rice. We’ve now learned that our bodies don’t need so many of the starch-heavy carbohydrates that are in grains. Studies have shown that eating more carbohydrates than we need can lead to brain fog, forgetfulness, fatigue, and feeling bloated. Switching from 2 slices of bread on your sandwich to only one cuts your carbs in half. Turkey is lower in cholesterol and sodium compared to ham (and still tastes just as good!) And instead of cheese and mayo, use avocado and mustard for even more health benefits!
5. Old Way: Pancakes with syrup
New Way: Banana Pancakes with strawberry “syrup”
When we eat pancakes the batter typically includes white flour, sugar, milk, eggs and we cook them up in butter. I suggest giving this a try - 1 mashed banana and 3 eggs. Mix will. Melt coconut oil in a pan and cook the pancakes. I’m telling you, these pancakes are super delicious, and you can even add some blueberries and walnuts into the mix for some added yummies. Our strawberry syrup is SO tasty and so much healthier than the normal syrup we buy in the store that’s full of sugar. To do this, I put 1 cup sliced strawberries in a pan and add 1 tsp vanilla. Cook until strawberries are soft and juicy. Pour over pancakes and enjoy!
6. Old Way: Soy sauce
New Way: Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Soy sauce is super common in any kind of Asian cooking, and we love to enjoy it with sushi. And while soy sauce is natural for the most part, it’s absolutely FULL of sodium, and consuming too much sodium has been linked to things like high blood pressure and heart disease so we want to try limit our intake as much as we can. And that’s where these Liquid Aminos come in! The name is weird, but I’m telling you, these Liquid Aminos are a fabulous, natural alternative to soy sauce and taste essentially the same! If you’re still skeptical, just try dipping your sushi into some Liquid Aminos sometime and taste it for yourself!
Friends, meet Bonnie Liabenow.
I have known Bonnie personally for some time now, and I have to say that Bonnie is a woman after the Lord's own heart, always full of joy and encouragement. Bonnie is part of an awesome ministry (which you can find out more about HERE), and she's even written a book called Excellence with Simple Elegance. This book is a beautiful teaching and testimony to how we as women can live a life bursting with faith and with excitement for God and his plans. Read on to hear more about Bonnie's testimony and how you could win a copy of her book!
Bonnie says that intentional living is the key to experiencing the abundant life that God desires for us. "Take the vision, write it down, make it plain so you can run with it." Habakkuk 2:2 The goal of running a half marathon was 'out of my comfort zone'. Before my training began for this half marathon, I had never ran more than a 3 miles at one time. And I was not a runner until 10 years ago at age 50! But, on April 1, 2017, I ran my first half marathon with my son and daughter-in-law who were my accountability partners and motivators throughout the race and training up to it. I ended up finishing in second place in my age group (60-64) - God rewarded me way beyond what I could ever imagine just because I did my part! "By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the Goal, where God is beckoning us onward... I am off and running, and I am not turning back"
Philippians 3:14 -Bonnie Liabenow
Bonnie's story just goes to show us that, really, anything is possible! She set a goal and made a workable plan and kept to it. If you want to move to a healthier place, you need achievable goals, and, most importantly, a plan. Did you know if you write down your goal and your plan you increase your success rate? So, here's what we want you to do. Comment on this post and share your health goal for this week: specifically what you will do to reach that goal (don't say eat better or exercise more - be specific. Ex: I will eat no more than 24 grams of added sugar each day and I will exercise 3 times/week for 30 minutes....) Share your goal and plan here or on our facebook page before the end of the day on Thursday (4/6/2017) and you will be entered to win one of Bonnie's books "Excellence in Simple Elegance" (we'll be giving 10 books away!). THEN we will check back in with you in one week. If you reached your goal for the week you can respond to that post and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Faithful Workouts' gift certificate!
In the process of making goals and plans, we really encourage you all to find a partner who will hold you accountable. This can mean they text you and check in everyday, or maybe you set up a time to chat with them at the end of the week and let them know how things are going. It's easier to find an accountability partner in this context because it's not a long term commitment, but if you find someone who's willing to stick it out with you throughout your health journey, then that's even better! Jesus didn't walk out his calling alone, and we shouldn't either!
Thanks for taking time to hear some of Bonnie's story, and we hope you join in with us and commit yourself to taking this next step toward healthier living!
I am so thankful that I have a hot tub. Over the years I have had some of my deepest conversations with my family in my hot tub. I've had some of my greatest conversations with God in my hot tub. I also love to listen to sermons (you guessed it) in my hot tub.
Last night, in my hot tub, I listened to an Andy Stanley sermon that hit me so hard that I got out of the tub, got dressed and knocked on my son's bathroom door. Here was the conversation:
Me: Quinn are you dressed?
Quinn (My 18 yr.old son): NO.
Me: Ok, I'm going to sit out here and talk because I have something to say to you and I really want you to listen.
Quinn: OK (Quinn is used to this type of behavior from me)
Me: Quinn - I want you to get this. Life is not just about trying to play by the rules and not mess up. It's not just about trying to not sin. My prayer for you is that you go out and you LOVE well. God's Word tells us they will know we are disciples by the way we LOVE.
Quinn: He cracks open the door, looks down at me sitting outside his bathroom, he smiles at me and says "I got it. Thanks"
I feel like this message is so huge and last night if I could have knocked on every door in the world and shouted this to them I would have "Go LOVE well".
At the end of the day here's what God wants you to do - Go LOVE others.
I have a question for you.
When you pray, what do you pray for? When you pray for yourself and others what are you asking for? I challenge you to ask God for this, "Help me (or whoever you are praying for) to see people the way You see them. Help me to LOVE better."
God cares about the way we love others so we should care about this too.
I remember when Quinn was little he had a bus driver who he really struggled with. He would often get off the bus and complain about her. I would say "Quinn it's easy to love those who are easy to love but we are called to love ALL people, especially those who are hard to love.".
I get it - it's tough to love some people and the truth is we can't do it on our own. We need to get ourselves so filled up with God's love that we CAN love even those who are so tough to love.
We will never punish people towards Jesus. We will never shame people towards Jesus. We've got to LOVE people in such a way that they are drawn to Jesus.
I did something this weekend that I’ve never done before. I stood on the street corner in Denver with a cardboard sign. Now why in the world would I do that? Let me tell you.
I’m on the board of Seeds of Hope. We’re a group of women who have it in our hearts to connect those who are willing to serve with those in need. Over the last 7 years, we’ve made Easter baskets, served Thanksgiving dinner to refugees from Burma and young men who’ve been through the ringer. We’ve raised money so a man could go on one, last trip with his kids before ALS ended his time here on earth. We regularly cook meals and store them away in our freezers so we can bring a warm meal to someone in need. I tell you this not to say, “Oh, look at us, we’re so great,” but just to let you in on what Seeds of Hope is all about, and to set the scene for my night on the streets.
This past weekend, our group decided to partner with a ministry called, Project I See You (http://www.projectiseeyou.org) so that we could meet the human beings behind the cardboard signs and rough, sometimes dirty exteriors we so often pass by on the streets. Project I See You was started by an amazing woman named Mercy Tucker. Mercy was a missionary in the Dominican with her family for 4 years, and she shared with us that while she was down there living with the poor, she often felt God’s presence so clearly and so near that it would physically cause them to fall to the ground. When she moved back to the Denver area, her family decided they wanted to be able to continue to live and interact with those who were impoverished and overlooked, and so they decided to live in an area of Denver called Five Points. Mercy knows many of the homeless in Five Points by name—she knows their stories and she has such a strong desire to help and to love them.
This past weekend, we teamed up with Mercy and Project I See You and headed to downtown Denver with her ministry partner, Angie, and most of the Seeds of Hope board. We wanted to come face to face with the homeless. We wanted to experience what it was like for them. We wanted to hear their stories. We wanted to show them that they were seen, heard and loved by not only us, but by the creator of the universe. When we headed out to the streets that night, we were told that we were going to be standing alone on a corner, like so many homeless do, and to write something down on a cardboard sign that we would hold up.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided to write, “This Could Be You”. I didn’t know when I wrote those words how much more deeply they would resonate in my heart only a few hours later.
When I stood alone on that corner, tired and cold, I went through an array of emotions. First being just how incredibly uncomfortable I felt—so much so that it almost made me nauseous. That feeling eventually gave way to something new—this feeling of being completely invisible. As the cars continued to stream by, it was like they couldn’t see me or my sign. It was like I’d disappeared off the face of the earth. After a while of that, I couldn’t help but start praying for the people in the cars because I wanted them to understand that this really could be them. That, had their lives been different—had their parents been less supportive or had their spouses died or had they served and fought in the war and turned to drugs to make the pain stop—this really could have been them.
At one point in the night, someone finally stopped.
In fact, they almost got into an accident trying to stop! A well-dressed young man pulled into a parking lot and made such an effort to run over and give me some money. It was one of the kindest and most compassionate things I’d ever experienced. I didn’t need his money, but what I did need (that I didn’t even know in that moment) was to feel like someone cared. He looked me in the eye when he put the money into my hand, and I felt seen for the first time that night. I felt like I mattered to him. Maybe he had once been that person on the corner, and maybe my sign “This Could Be You” touched him. I don’t know why he stopped, but it really moved me.
The rest of our weekend was spent walking the streets of Denver and hearing the stories of the homeless we met there. We spent some time in a shelter where I got to sit with a few women and hear their stories and learn more about the challenges they face on a daily basis—challenges we might not even think twice about! It was such a powerful experience and one that I really wish everyone could be a part of.
I couldn’t help but walk away from this whole experience feeling so grateful for the family I grew up in. We weren’t perfect, in fact my dad died when I was 3 (he was only 36), but I was so loved and deeply cared for. I was encouraged and told often by my mom, “If anyone can do it Michelle, you can do it”. I was able to go to college and then start a career and support myself. Growing up I was able to learn important life skills like cooking and laundry, I was taught to look people in the eye when speaking to them and to treat people with love and respect. I’ve always known that if life got too tough, I was always welcome in my parent’s or sisters’ home.
I would never be homeless because I had people in my life who would gladly take me and my family in.
But this, we must realize, is a luxury many do not have. For many Americans, if they mess up, if they lose a job, if something goes wrong…then that’s just it. There’s not a back up plan. There’s no one there to bail them out. The people I met on the streets and in the shelter experienced a much different upbringing than the one I had. Many of them grew up with abuse and drugs. Some of the people we met shared that they would watch their parent having sex with different people, and how at young ages they were forced to take care of the drug-addicted parent. No role models. No life lessons being taught. No homes to take them in if life got too tough.
The more I talked to these people in the shelter and one the streets, the more I realized that the sign I created at the beginning of the day—“This could be you”—was more true than even I’d realized.
Mercy and her team at Project I See You are hoping to turn a home in Denver into a transitional home for women. It would be a safe place that they could stay in for up to 3 months. Not only would they have a consistent bed to sleep in, but they’d have the opportunity to learn some of the basic life skills they might have missed out on. They’d learn to cook, practice interviewing for jobs and holding themselves with confidence and so much more—but most importantly, they would live in a home with people who see and hear them. They won’t be invisible anymore. Love has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? Even the smallest of actions, if done with love, can make the largest of impacts. Love has this way of saying, “I see you,” and being seen really can change everything.
I share this story with you all because I really want us as the Faithful Workouts’ community to come to know and love the poor in a new way—in a Jesus kind of way. There are so many verses in the Bible about the poor and impoverished and how we’re to care for them. How we shouldn’t respond to their situations with judgment or disgust, and how we cannot treat them like they are invisible just to assuage our own guilt or validate our pre-conceived notions about how they ended up there.
I walked away realizing that I have been given so much, and I want to step out, each day, knowing that God can use me in huge ways to help others. I want to give away what has been so abundantly given to me. In some cases, that may be finances. In some cases, a hot meal. In others, a listening ear or a hug or a smile. Give away what you’ve got, because in God’s kingdom, there’s always enough.
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This past weekend I attended a Halftime event in FL. Halftime (www.halftime.org) is the ministry that my husband works for. I LOVE attending Halftime events because they are so inspiring. I wish you could hear all the stories that were shared because I know they would move you like they did me.
On the final night of the conference Tim Tebow spoke to our group. He shared his heart with us by telling stories of things he has seen or experienced. He finished his session and left the room to a standing ovation. Wow, what a focused guy - focused on spreading the love and truth of Jesus.
We had all settled back into our chairs and were listening to the worship band when Tim Tebow walked back in. Tim got up to speak again. He told us he had been in his car driving to the airport when he felt like God was telling him to turn around and share one more story. Here’s what he felt our group needed to hear, and what I believe the whole world needs to hear.
He told us that when he was the quarterback at the University of Florida they made their motto“finish strong”. The year they won the national championship they were committed to “finish strong”. They won the championship because each practice they committed to “finish strong” and each game they promised to “finish strong”. He went on to talk about what it looks like to “finish strong” and that it’s not something that will just happen unless you commit to it on daily basis.
Here’s my question to you - When you look out into the future and you picture your life if you “finished strong” - what does it look like? What does finishing strong mean to you? For Tim Tebow and his teammates it meant winning the National Championship. They had their eye on the prize. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you probably won’t achieve it.
The Bible talks about the importance of“finishing strong”
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
“Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” 1 Corinthians 9:24
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
So…. I ask you again, what does it mean to“finish strong”? What can you do today, tomorrow, the day after that ….. to make sure you finish strong?