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.
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__.
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!
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!
If you know me, you know meal planning is one of the greatest strategies that I support for living a healthy lifestyle! The benefits to planning your meals every week are countless, but just to name a few- it will save you time, money, stress and unwanted calories! If the thought of meal planning seems overwhelming to you, here are a few tips to help simplify the process…but if you don’t know where to start, I suggest trying out some of my ready made meal plans to get you in the swing of things!
Step 1: Plan and Shop:
Write out meals and snacks you want for the week. You could use a calendar or just make a list.Make a grocery list for the ingredients you need, and get to shopping!
Step 2: Prepare the Food:
Take everything out of the bags, and organize groceries according to your recipes.
Step 3: Put Everything Together to Make the Recipe
Breakfast Ideas: Many of the Dashing Dish breakfast recipes are quick and easy to make. For this reason, you don’t necessarily need to prepare your breakfasts ahead of time, but it never hurts to plan ahead! When planning ahead, you can make something such as protein muffins for the week and pack them in a ziplock bag for busy mornings, or make overnight oatmeal the night before.
Lunch Ideas: Lunches can be easily be made ahead of time and can be put together in an assembly line fashion. If you’re making salads or sandwiches, you can prepare for the entire week by making them all at once in a Tupperware container or by wrapping them individually in foil. You can also plan ahead by making a big batch of soup or chili and divide it into portions for the week.
Dinner Ideas: You could either make a few different main dishes and a couple of side dishes. Or you could just cook your meat and chopping your vegetables ahead of time. This is helpful if your recipes calls for cooked chicken, for example, it will be ready to put right into your recipes for the week!
Here is a Look Inside a Week’s Worth of Meal Planning at My House!
For breakfast I almost always have one of my Dashing Dish Protein Shakes. The reason for this is that I generally work out right when I wake up most days of the week, and a cold thick protein packed shake always seems to hit the spot after a sweaty workout! Not to mention they are easy to make, and ready in a matter of minutes!
For snacks I prepare a batch of my muffins, no bake protein snacks, and/or protein bars. I generally have one of these with something else (such as fruit, Greek yogurt, almonds, etc.), or I enjoy two muffins/bars for a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and again between lunch and dinner. I have found that eating protein and fiber packed snacks prevents me from being too hungry at meal time, which can lead to cravings and overeating at meal time. Also, it has been proven that your metabolism increases when you fuel your body every 2-3 hours!
For this week’s snacks I prepared a batch of my Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Muffins, and my Grain Free Peanut Butter Muffins. If I don’t end up eating them all in one week, I simply pop them in my freezer, and pull them out as I need them!
While my muffins/bars are baking, I start to prepare my veggies and fruit for the weeks meals. I start by washing them in a large colander, (I use the same one, which means less dishes to clean!)
Then I dry and cut the veggies/fruit, and put them into individual tupperwear or ziplock bags. This way I have the veggies ready to go for recipes, or for a snack, or to throw in a salad!
Next I prepare my meats for the recipes I’m making for the week. This is certainly optional, but I personally find that if I cook up my ground meats, and chicken ahead of time, I am much more eager to whip a recipe together on a busy week night because half of the battle is already won! ;)
This week I prepared my Honey Mustard Chicken, and some lean ground turkey and lean ground beef (my husbands request- and just and note- you can swap this out for ground turkey in any of my recipes if your family prefers beef!)
I used the chicken and veggies that I prepared this week in my salads, which was one of the lunches my husband and i ate for the week.
I also prepared a batch of my Chicken Pot Pie Muffins for another option for lunches,. There was really no prep work required for these, except for the fact that I made them on meal prep day so they would be ready in the fridge when we were hungry. We enjoyed with some Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli, which I chopped during meal prep, and washed and baked just before eating, since it tastes best freshly made!
Throughout the week I used the lean ground turkey to make my Italian Stuffed Peppers…
And my lean ground beef to make my Crockpot Layered Mexican Pizza for another dinner we enjoyed!
On the weekend I had family over, so I threw together a batch of my Crockpot Sweet Potato Turkey Chili before church, and it was ready when we got home! Crockpot recipes are my favorite for weekends!
My husband and I don’t always eat dessert, but when we want a healthy option, we generally make one of my Single Serve Desserts (which doesn’t require meal prep-because they only take a few minutes to make!) or I will prepare a batch of my Healthy Cookies, or a Dashing Dish dessert if we are having family or guests over for the weekend!
For more ideas on Meal Planning, be sure to check out these posts:
Also, be sure to check out my new cookbook: 100 Recipes for Clean Eating for some of these recipes and some of my personal faves for meal planning!
Not sure what recipes to try first? This might inspire you! Here are 25 of the most popular Dashing Dish recipes on Pinterest!
Setting Goals and Living on Purpose by Sarah Robbins
As I write this I have tears in my eyes. I have battled my weight for over 10 years–and while some would conclude this statement with “…and I finally won”, I would instead say, “I am winning every day”. I will never be done eating healthy, exercising, and disciplining myself to healthy habits daily. For the first time in a long time, I can say that I’m content with where I am at on my journey, and know that I will get there–with time, and daily discipline. I’ve worked so hard–but the results are worth it…and the best result of all is that I am free in my mind!
People have asked so many times–“what is your secret?” The truth be told–there is no secret! I was over 200 pounds 10 years ago. I did Weight Watchers and Curves (exercise) consistently–I would loose weight, and then my weight loss would stall. It wasn’t until I got more disciplined in the quality of my food (I started eating clean, and my favorite recipes are found on Dashing Dish!) and started working out at a gym–consistently that I was able to reach my goals. There is no secret–the answer lies in hard work, daily effort, and consistent activity over time. I also started to renew my mind to who God said I was, and started to see myself as valuable enough to take care of my health. In the end, it wasn’t easy, but I never gave up, and it is so worth it!
I do the same thing with my business (I run a successful home-based business, and am also a best-selling author!) People often inquire about the success we’ve achieved through our business, asking “what is the secret to your success?” The truth be told–there is no secret! I started my business as a broke, shy, young kindergarten teacher–with no network, and I was in a business of networking! I poured a lot of time into professional development, and I got out and did the work–even when I was shy, scared, and afraid! I went to networking events–ALONE! I made a few phone calls–EVERY DAY! Just like weight loss, I was focused on daily activity (a few new contacts every day), I was tracking my results by making daily notes in my planner, and did consistent activity over a long period of time (7 years!) Success did not happen over night! However, just like losing weight, the hard work is worth it. Because of our business, we’ve been able to use our earnings to bless children in need all around the globe—we just got back from India where we opened an orphanage for 117 children! Was it easy? NO! Was it worth it? You bet! Now I can live more, give more, and experience life more!
Enough about me…let’s talk about you…
What do you need to conquer during this year of your life? What are those looming thoughts you need to tackle in 2015? Do you want to start living a healthy lifestyle? Is it success in your business? You only have one precious life–and you deserve to live more, give more, love more, and experience the best of life more. It’s time to tackle these obstacles and pursue your victory–every single day! Set your “Big goal” for yourself–then break it down into daily activity–what do you need to do to get there? Whose help do you need?
Maybe you need an accountability partner working toward a similar goal? If it’s getting healthy, join the gym together–split a training package–go to Weight Watchers as a team. If it is a business goal, find someone to work with and agree to check in with each other weekly. Agree to be positive, collaborative, solution-oriented, and encouraging. People think they need to “work with a leader” to be successful–and that’s not the case. Like weight loss- YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DO! It’s about working with someone who is going for the same goals, and doing consistent activity–every single day. Let’s consider weight loss for a moment–I’m not going to start by running a marathon (heck, I don’t run unless someone is chasing me). Do I aspire to be fit like a marathon runner? Sure! But I have to start somewhere– and initially that was at a local Curves gym with a friend working at my pace. Find your partner, start today!
Today is your day. 2015 is YOUR year. You are seeing this for a reason. Don’t let one more day go by–one more looming thought go through your mind. Set the goal. Write it down (NOW!) Break that big goal into monthly goals–then break that into daily activity goals for what you need to do to get there. Find an accountability partner and go through the program together. Give yourself the time it takes. Never quit. YOU DESERVE TO LOVE YOUR LIFE AND HAVE VICTORY!!!
There are no secrets when it comes to long term, lasting victory–it boils down to daily activity, consistency, and giving your goals the long-term focus and time it takes… I heard this quote yesterday and I loved it–“Success is never owned, it is rented, and the rent is due every single day! “- Rory Vaden
If I could reach through this screen right now and hug you–I would. I hope that by me sharing my long and sometimes painful journey with you (it took 10 years of going on a weight roller coaster to finally to lose the weight the healthy way )–Today I simply want to encourage you–that if I can do it, SO CAN YOU! You are beautiful, you are capable, you are MORE THAN A CONQUERER! Let’s DO this!