Prioritizing exercise is challenging at any point in life, but it can become even trickier after having kids. However, exercise is an important part of caring well for yourself and when scheduled as a priority into your day makes you feel better and sets a great example for your kids. Here, I’ve shared some of the ways I’ve learned to make exercise a daily habit even with kids. I hope it blesses you.
Get up early
Getting up early to make exercise a priority is easier at different stages of our kids’ lives than others. I remember after my little girl was born, I would get up at 5 a.m. to work out after having been up 3 or 4 times during the night to nurse her. I was choosing that for the wrong reasons. I was exercising out of panic and not out of a desire to treat my body well. I strongly believe the season of infanthood should be more about self-care than running yourself into exhaustion (literally)! If that’s your season, be kind to yourself, the time to exercise will come! For those of us with older kids though, early mornings are the perfect opportunity to get a workout done for the day. Making the decision to get up instead of hitting the snooze button can be a challenging one, but it always worth it. I’ve come to cherish that quiet time while everyone is asleep. By the time my family is waking up, I’m filled up from some quiet time with God and feeling great physically. It’s good for all of us!
Have the Kids Join You
Last summer I was having a hard time prioritizing exercise myself. Our routines were off. Too many late summer evenings and too few regular early morning work outs were becoming the norm. I was working to find a healthy balance between restful home days and busy fun days. Despite my attempt to strike a healthy balance, my exercise routine was suffering. About three weeks into summer break, I decided to institute “home-days” boot camp. After breakfast while it was cool or in the evening after dinner we would all put on our gym shoes and get to it! We would run laps around the yard, have sprint races, jumping jacks, and do push-ups. We would each take turns calling out an exercise and try to do it for two minutes. Can I just tell you that I not only got a legitimate workout, but we had a blast! The kids loved it and it was a great way to burn off some of their energy.
Let them Watch
I’ve discovered from my own journey, and from speaking with many moms that one of the hardest challenges of prioritizing exercise when you have kids is often based on one common factor – guilt! It’s taken me eight years, but I can finally say that I am able to exercise with my kids guilt-free. I’ve settled into the peace of knowing that it’s really ok for them to entertain themselves for an hour or to watch an hour of TV while mom gets her exercise done. I think not only is it ok, but actually sends a really healthy message. It tells them that I value my health and that I’m choosing to care well for myself. I’ve also discovered an added bonus. Because I only listen to worship music while I exercise, they see me worshiping and spending time with the Lord. I overheard my daughter playing “mommy” one day and realized she was pretending to go for a run and I saw her praying and worshiping. It was a wonderful confirmation that it’s ok for her to just hang out and watch while I work out.
I’m so incredibly blessed to belong to a gym. If you get to enjoy that blessing as well, I would encourage you to take advantage of the childcare they offer. This was another source of “mommy guilt” I unnecessarily carried for years. I felt so guilty taking my kids to childcare at the gym. I was certain they were miserable and that I was being selfish. Thankfully the Lord used my sons’ words to release me of that last summer. About half-way into summer I asked him what he was enjoying most so far about summer break. Without hesitation he answered, “I love going to play with new friends at the gym.” I vowed to take off mommy-guilt that day over using childcare too.
However you choose to prioritize exercise, I pray that you always choose it as an act of worship and self-care.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for our children and for our bodies. We thank you in advance for showing us how to balance caring well for both gifts. Lord, please reveal to us “hidden” times in the day when we can enjoy a workout. Release us of guilt over taking time for ourselves and remind us of the truth that our bodies are a temple, a dwelling place of the Most High God, worthy of care and blessing. We thank you ahead of time for faithfully providing the time, the resources and the ability to make exercise a priority in our day. In Jesus name, amen.
For where two or more are gather in my name, there am I with them. -Matthew 18:20
You may be wondering why I chose to write a devotional on marriage on a health and wellness website. Well, I truly believe that every area of our life has the potential to make an impact on our well being, but most definitely the most important relationship in this life, which is marriage. For this reason, I felt the Lord prompting me to share about how God has transformed my own marriage by His grace, and how the power of prayer has radically blessed the relationship between my husband and I. But first, let me tell you a little bit about my husband and I, and how we met…
I met my husband when I was 16 years old at our high school homecoming dance. I was the new girl in town, and I got asked to go to the dance with his best friend. It didn’t take long before I noticed Sean, and he had his eye on me as well. Let’s just say that his best friend was pretty bummed out when I ended up spending most of the night talking to Sean… and the rest was history! We ended up dating all through my junior and senior year of high school and all through college.
After almost seven years of dating (and the year before I graduated from nursing school), Sean proposed to me. He surprised me by flying out to Orlando, Florida, where I was on a spring break trip with my family. One night my family and I went to Disney’s Cinderella castle for dinner. As I was being seated, out of the corner of my eye I saw my prince walking towards me! He got down on one knee and asked me to be his bride…to which I responded, “Well of course!”
After five years of marriage, I can honestly say that this was the best ‘yes’ I’ve ever said, (outside of giving my heart and life to Jesus). On August 8, 2009 (the summer after I graduated from nursing school) we got married, and embarked on our life-long journey together.
As wonderful, exciting, and blessed as our journey has been so far, there have also been some really hard days, seasons, and trials that have come our way. This may come as a shock to some people, because let’s face it, the hard times are not the things that are captured in pictures or featured on Facebook or Instagram… But it’s true, we have had our fair share of storms, just like every other married couple!
Now don’t get me wrong, the majority of our married life has been absolutely wonderful, and I look forward to the years to come! However, just like everyone who has been married for any length of time, we have endured some hard days together. Some of them have been the result of natural life events, such as facing loss, stress, changes of careers, etc.
These ‘storms’ of life are bound to come, but there are also things that come against us that feel like a direct attack on our marriage. These are the types of attacks that I am convinced are meant to steal, kill and destroy our marriages. It is important to recognize that they are sent by the enemy, and they are bound to come (John 10:10). How do I know this? Because I know the devil hates marriage, especially when it is a marriage with God in the center. Why!?! Because marriage between a man and a woman reflects the relationship between Christ and His bride (the church). Not to mention, a couple joined together with the dream to expand God’s kingdom puts a serious threat on the kingdom of darkness.
Does this mean that every marriage is doomed to failure? Certainly not! God has given us everything we need to be victorious in marriage, and He is for us! So, what can be done to protect and guard this beautiful relationship that God has created between a man and woman? Just like everything else in life, I am convinced that the power is in prayer!
Now, before I go any further on the subject of praying for your marriage, I do want to be sensitive and address the fact that some couples would benefit from seeking Godly counsel, and I truly do think it is wise for all married couples to have mentors in their life regardless of circumstances. I also want to add that praying for your marriage is a vital part of God’s plan for marriage, but it is not the only thing that encompasses a healthy marriage.
That being said, I can speak from personal experience that prayers won’t only improve, but they can completely transform your marriage. In fact, it has been a huge part of my personal testimony and the testimony of what God has done in my marriage, that praying prayers based on the promises of God can radically change, heal, and deliver anyone out of any circumstance!
You may be wondering, what kind of ‘power’ is there in praying prayers based on scripture!?! Well, I’m glad you asked!
The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword! When we pray according to promises in the Word of God, we are praying in agreement with what God says about us and promises us.
Now, I want to also mention that this is not the only way to pray, in fact, God also longs to hear from you, throughout the day, as you talk to Him from your heart! Also, we can see in Ephesians 6:18 that we are instructed to, “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” So, I say all this to say, please know that there is so much more to prayer than just praying prayers based off of scriptures, but I truly do believe that this kind of prayer is a powerful and effective tool to bring about change, because it is based off of Gods word, and His word does not go void! (Isaiah 55:11)
Nothing has impacted or changed my life and my marriage more than when I started praying the promises of God over them. I started doing this years ago in relation to my health and body image issues, and it was so life-changing that I decided to do the same for my marriage a few years ago.
I asked the Lord to show me scriptures to pray over my husband, over my marriage, and over myself to become the wife that He created me to be. It didn’t take long before I started to see the fruit of God’s Word coming forth in my marriage, just as it did in other areas of my life. The great thing about praying for your marriage, is that it is even more powerful when you and your spouse do it together, as we can see in Matthew 18:20!
To be honest, I don’t know why it took me so long to start getting serious about praying for my marriage, but now that I have begun to see the radical transformation that it has brought, I will never stop! In fact, that is why I am sharing this with all of you! God has such great plans for every single married couple, and I can promise that a huge part of walking in His plan comes by prayer!
Whatever season you may be in with your marriage, or whatever difficulties you may be facing, I want to encourage you that God’s Word has an answer, a promise, and way through! When we agree and focus our attention on God’s promises, we can and will overcome anything that comes our way!
I encourage you to seek the Lord for scriptures and promises from His word to pray specifically over your husband, yourself, and your marriage. But, to get you started, I have included some of my personal prayers that I have written for my marriage.
I pray you are encouraged today by these prayers, and that the awesome Word of God reminds you of the great plans He has for you, your husband, and your marriage.
Feel free to print these scripture-based prayers on marriage out for yourself! You could also write them down on notecards or in a journal.
If you are not yet married, but hope to be one day, I encourage you to start praying for your husband now! There is nothing more powerful than praying for the man that God has made for you! If you are married, I pray God’s blessings over your marriage! May God bless you, keep you, makes His face to shine upon you, and give you His peace!
If you haven’t already ‘met’ Sarah Shaffer, I would love to introduce you to this phenomenal woman! :) She joined the Dashing Dish team this past summer, and she has already been an incredible blessing to this ministry and to countless women! She has not only ministered individually to so many precious hearts, but her devotionals and more recently, the Fit Spirit Challenge she led has ministered to thousands! Sarah truly has one of the most beautiful and humble hearts I know, and I can say with sincerity that she seeks the Lord daily for what His heart is for each and every woman who visits Dashing Dish!
Because of you Sarah, this ministry has extended the heart of our Father to more hearts that I could have ever reached on my own. I’m so thankful for you, and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store!
Now…Let’s get to know more about this dynamic woman, Sarah Shaffer!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Well, I’m a little like vanilla ice cream (pretty simple) at the core, but enjoy some sprinkles now and then! Through and through I am a home-loving, yoga-pant wearing, lover of Jesus and my family. Coffee has a huge portion of my heart as well. ☺ I’m a born and bred Coloradan, God knew I belonged here. I adore my home state. I thrive outdoors in our amazing weather and The Lord speaks to me here though radiant sunset kissed mountain tops. I love God’s word. I am fascinated by it! And, as I continue to grow in it, my other true love emerges more and more. I love sharing the Lords messages! I remember when my son was born feeling nervous over how to teach Him about God. The Lord clearly spoke these words to me “teach Him as I teach you.” The same hold true today, one of my greatest gifts has been opportunities to simply share with others what God shares with me!
What passage or verse in Scripture is currently influencing your walk with the Lord?
Getting a little rocked by John 3:30!!! The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about the scriptural teaching of self-forgetfulness (dying to self). It’s taught in passages throughout the Word and I’ve been on a treasure hunt learning more about the concept. The Lord is really showing me that the key to true joy lies in these verses. I’m working on putting all of this together and will be excited to share it with everyone!
Have you struggled with your personal identity? How has God affirmed that you are His?
I can literally tell you that I had no idea who I was until as recently as five years ago. I never understood my worth. As a result, I would “morph” into whoever I sensed different people desired me to be at any given moment in hopes of gaining their approval. It was flat exhausting! When I finally understood and believed that God was not disappointed in me, that I was not a failure in His eyes, and that when I lived with His love for me in the forefront of my mind, the opinions of those around me naturally had less power. I also realized that all of a sudden not only was I more comfortable with myself, and had a deep sense of God’s approval, I discovered that my earthly relationships were deeper and more genuine as well. I spent the better part of my life trying to be “perfect” for others. The truth is, not only is that impossible, people desperately want fellowship with imperfect people. We all just want to know that we’re not alone and walking together is so much more the heart of God than exhausting ourselves to convince others that we’re the only human not struggling! I still have to be aware of my thoughts, especially when it comes to my physical appearance, but now I know it’s part of my calling and has holy motivation! Now I’m effective for God!
What is your favorite go-to meal to make for your family and why?
Honestly one of my greatest pleasures is feeding my family well. It’s an act of love for me. My husband blesses my heart because he receives it as an act of service and thoroughly enjoys being fed well. ☺ We tend to enjoy “simple” food. I almost always have what I need for any given meal already in my fridge or pantry because most of what I cook only requires very basic ingredients. The Dashing Dish meals are a perfect example. For me personally, my very favorite meal is a lot of pretty veggies and protein. I like them plain and simple with salt and pepper, and hot sauce for sure!
Your family has been affected by various food allergies. Do you have any helpful tips for moms that have had to navigate around the food allergies in their family?
We have. But as He always does, God has used what the Enemy intended for harm (anxiety, stress) and used it for good (healing, teaching). My husband was very sick to the point of near death about 5 years ago. At that point food took on a whole new meaning for us. I began to emotionally “detach” myself from food as I embraced the idea that if we were going to heal, I couldn’t attach so much value to what we could, or more importantly could not eat. The Lord has been incredible and healed my husband, and later my son, right before my very eyes. I get emotional every time I talk about it. My advice would be to get support if you don’t know where to begin, understanding how many options there are is a great source of peace and power. And, prepare. It takes work, but preparing to not feel “different” has been a huge part of our success. I take cupcakes to birthday parties, bring our favorites to Thanksgiving, send pizza for pizza parties – we rarely end up feeling “left out”. While I don’t claim any medical expertise, I am happy to help support moms who need it in this area by sharing our journey!
You are a certified health coach and fitness instructor. How have these certifications helped you guide others on their journey to health.
In ways you might not expect! The more I learn, the more I let go of! I’ve really settled into the knowledge that this life is a journey and the only way to be successful long-term is to find peace through balance. Extremes rarely bless us or last. It’s true in exercise and food. My whole focus when I coach people is to help them seek peace and pursue it. There is SO much information (mostly mixed) and it breeds a spirit of confusion that breaks my heart. Helping people uncover layers and breath into the way God intends to bless us with abundant life has been my greatest privilege.
In today society, there are so many definitions of health. What does being healthy look like to you?
The Lord really spoke to my heart one day about this very question. I wrote a short devotion about it that day, I hope it’s a blessing.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start eating healthy and exercising, but doesn’t know where to start?
Start with your mind. We usually reverse it and determine to eat “better” and exercise and then work to find the “willpower” to sustain it. True health begins in the mind. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “So think clearly and exercise self-control.” We renew our minds and then exercise self-control. We have to do both, but the mind must be right first for the body to follow in a truly healthy way. Then, I would encourage them to pray Romans 12:2 for God’s plan about food and exercise. I love the amplified version that says, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for YOU].” The Lord has a different journey for each of His children and to imply that there is one standard of health that applies to everyone is unfair and sets us up for deception and failure. Healthy eating should be about enjoying foods that make you feel great, give you energy, nourish your body, but also leave you feeling satisfied and praising God! I always tell people if you walk away from your meal feeling physically satisfied and blessed it was a good choice, if you walk away resenting everyone who just ate a slice of pizza while you ate salad and grilled chicken, more balance may be helpful. A healthy life can include pizza in reasonable portions, because if your goal is to walk away singing praises for the blessing of a great meal, your mind is in the right place! The same goes for exercise. Start by seeking Gods direction for the best form of exercise for you. Trust Him to lead you into His perfect will, what is good and acceptable in His sight for YOU and your body. Allow yourself to experiment with exercise until you find something that is a blessing to your body. For example I love, love, love weight training, because it makes me feel strong and healthy! Exercise really is a blessing and should not be something we do to punish our bodies.
Since joining the Dashing Dish team, you have had quite the impact on so many women! One of them being the 31 day Fit Spirit Challenge that you led in January this year. Tell us how leading this challenge impacted your personal spiritual walk.
The truth is that so many women have had an impact on ME – truly!!! I feel so blessed to GET to be a part of these journeys! The depth of gratitude and humility I feel before the Lord for the privilege of being used by Him even in the smallest ways to help draw people near to him and lead them into truth is something I don’t have adequate words to describe. I’ve never understood as deeply the truth of God’s promise that iron sharpens iron as I have come to over the past six months.
Complete the phrases: Jesus is My Love___. I am _CHANGED__.
If you live in the Southeast Michigan area, be sure to come out and see me at the Barnes and Nobles on Washtenaw. I will be doing a book signing for my new books!
The topic for today’s devotion has been something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I’ve been asking the Lord to put just the right words to this topic so that I approach it with care and sensitivity. My prayer in sharing this is that the Lord will use it to convict us all to seek peace and pursue it, and offer kindness and understanding toward one another every chance we get!
I have become acutely aware of a theme lately, particularly among my women and mom friends. I’ve really begun to recognize that a heaping-helping of shame and judgment have attached themselves to the concept of health.
The term “healthy” is really very relative, but it has become overused and misguided. The word healthy used to simply imply not being sick, but somewhere along the line it has lost meaning and gained judgment, especially as it relates to food. Depending on who you ask “healthy” means Paleo or vegan, gluten-free or whole-grain, low-fat or high-fat. We hear that healthy means egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or only organic and non-GMO. It’s daunting isn’t it? As always, I would never claim that any of these ideas are wrong (my own family follows several of these). But, for the purpose of this devotion, what I’d like to focus on is living shame-free.
The depth of this awareness really hit home for me one day recently while at the grocery store and after having family in town. Both times, I interacted with moms of small children who emphatically apologized and reasoned with me about why their food choices weren’t as healthy as mine, or made declarations about their need to “do better” about how they fed their families. It broke my heart. And, it caused me to pause and ask myself if I am unintentionally making others feel “less-than” by how I communicate about my family’s particular healthy lifestyle choices?
While I obviously believe that living our best life is God’s heart for all of His children, I am also more and more reminded that above all else, His desire is that we love and support one another. The truth is that my healthy lifestyle can be different from yours and still be equally effective! Do you want to know a secret? I’m allergic to kale! Yep, kale! You know, the so-called healthiest food on the planet? Well, not for this girl (I love kale by way, if you can eat it, do!!). What’s healthy for me, may not fit into your heathy lifestyle and the whole point of this devotional is to understand that that is ok!! I pray that right now, in this moment we all release ourselves and others of judgment or shame for having different models of a healthy life!
While the word “healthy” is relative and can have many different meanings, the Word of God is not and is clear about this subject. God’s word says, “If I partake of my food with thankfulness, why am I accused and spoken evil of because of that for which I give thanks? So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:30-31. And, we also know from Romans 8:1, that there is no condemnation (shame or judgment) for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Friends, I pray today that if you are feeling “less-than” or are being pulled into the temptation to compare your healthy choices to someone else’s, that is not the voice of the Lord. Above all else today, ask God to help you focus on what TRULY matters and that is the health of your spirit. There is no shortage of judgment, shame, or opinion in the world, especially around the topic of health. But, be encouraged today! That heap of shame is not yours to bear! May God release us of that today and remind us to look for ways to love one another! Walk in peace and freedom today knowing that not a single person who puts their hope in the promises of God will be left empty or put to shame! God loves you EXACTLY where you are today!
St. Patty’s Day is approaching, which means the popular Shamrock Shake will be returning! Before you indulge in a ‘treat’ that has more than 400 calories and 60 grams of sugar….
Try this Healthy Protein Packed Shamrock Shake instead for just 160 calories and 5 g of sugar!
To get the recipe, click on the picture below!
If you haven’t noticed, the term ‘high in protein’ has become a common buzzword with all of the diets that are becoming popular these days. If you have been following Dashing Dish for a while, you probably know that I don’t support diets, but I do recommend incorporating protein rich foods into your daily meals and snacks!
You may notice that most of my recipes are high in protein, and often times I even supplement my recipes with protein powder. My recipes are also naturally lower in simple carbohydrates, due to the fact that my recipes don’t contain flour, sugar, or processed ingredients. I personally have found that eating this way (a balance of protein, and healthy fats/carbohydrates) makes my body function and feel it’s best, all while helping maintain a healthy weight.
Now, you may be wondering, when it comes to health, and weight loss/maintenance, what are the actual benefits of protein? Well, i’m glad you asked!
Here are five benefits to adding protein rich foods to your diet:
1. Foods high in protein help you feel full, and more satisfied for longer periods of time. In general, protein rich foods take your body a long time to break down and digest, which means it keeps you feeling fuller longer.
2. Protein helps balance out blood sugar swings. Pairing protein with carbohydrates in a meal or snack slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, which helps balance your blood sugar, preventing insulin spikes that can lead to fat storage and cravings.
3. Protein helps preserve muscle tissue during weight loss. A part of the weight loss process includes losing not only fat tissue, but muscle tissue as well. The reason for this is because during weight loss, your body looks to burn not only fat, but protein for energy (in order to synthesize glucose, which is used for energy). When you make sure that your protein intake is sufficient through your diet, your body will be less likely to break down your muscle tissue as a source of protein used for energy.
4. Protein aids in muscle recovery. The problem with losing muscle is that it is increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which accounts for over two-thirds of calories burned at rest. Protein is comprised of amino acids, which helps spare lean muscle during weight loss, so the body can burn more fat (instead of muscle) for energy.
5. Protein can help you maintain your weight long term. It requires more energy to digest protein, which means that our bodies burn calories just breaking it down! This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF), or the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. In addition, as I mentioned above, protein aids in preserving lean muscle also helps with long term weight maintenance!
A few important things I want to mention is that consuming more protein alone won’t make you lose or maintain weight. Any macronutrient (fat, protein, carbs) still has calories, and at the end of the day, if you are consuming more calories than your body requires, you will have a hard time losing or maintaining weight…(And eating too few calories also has an negative effect on your weight- so remember, slow and steady wins the race!) The key is truly a balance of protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and proper exercise that leads to a healthy body.
That being said, how do you know how much protein you should have in a day? A general rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per 1 lb of body weight. However, that may vary based on your exercise, age, gender, etc. but using this basic formula is generally enough for the average person.
If you are looking for ways to implement more protein into your diet, Dashing Dish is a great place to start, where all of my recipes are high in protein, with the proper balance of healthy fats, and whole grains! Also, be sure to check out my new cookbook, Dashing Dish: 100 Simple Recipes for Clean Eating, which is packed with 100 delicious and simple protein packed recipes!
1. Plan Ahead. Meal planning has proven to be one of the best ways to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle in my own life. During busy week days, it is incredibly helpful to have healthy meals that are ready, (or at least part of the way prepared), and it also helps save money, and last minute take-out runs!
2. Be Prepared. Being prepared is essential when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Being prepared can be as simple as carrying a small protein packed snack with you in your purse or car. Having a healthy snack when you are out, and keeping your fridge and pantry stocked can prevent unhealthy choices when you find yourself busy and hungry.
3. Choose Wisely. You don’t have to let healthy eating fall by the wayside when you go out to eat, or are at a get together with friends. Making wise choices with what there is to offer is one of the best ways to stay on track when you are not eating at home. I personally like to fill up on veggies, fruit, and lean protein choices when possible. Another great option is to bring a healthy dish to pass!
4. Be Active. Being active can be fun, and it does not have to take a lot of time out of your day. Even if you take a 30 minute walk every day, try to do something to get your body moving at least 3-6 days a week. Not only will it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will improve your mood and give you energy!
5. Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies simply do not work the way they should, and we are less likely to make smart choices when it comes to our health if we do not get enough sleep. I recommend getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
6. Be Well Balanced. Overall, living a healthy lifestyle should be something that is not only achievable, but is also maintainable long term. The only way that this is possible is with balance. I always say that the key to living a truly healthy lifestyle is moderation! Too much of anything is never a healthy thing, and that goes for all extremes, even if they seem like a good thing. Aim to enjoy life, make wise choices, and take care of your body. It will thank you in return!