October 31, 2012

shapelygirl fitness: wrap up & giveaway

I spent the month of October working out with Debra Mazda and ShapelyGirl Fitness. While the month was a challenge for me physically, I loved working out with my chosen DVD, Walking Fit and Fabulous. This DVD is something anyone can do! Sure, you may not be able to keep up all the time, but, as Debra says, "Just keep walking!"

One thing that really surprised me was that I didn't get tired of doing the DVD. I almost always picked one or two of the Pre-Mixes to do, and that helped keep the workout from feeling monotonous.

I didn't experience any giant strides in my fitness level this month, but every little bit counts! I actually enjoyed exercising, which is something I've only rarely experienced in the past. I am confident that I will continue using my DVD even though this review is finished.

Now for my monthly results:
I lost five pounds and .5 inches from my neck, 1.5 inches from my chest, .5 inches from my hips, 1.5 inches from my thigh, .5 inches from my gut, and 1 inch from my upper arm. That's a total of 4.5 inches lost!
Not a huge difference in my appearance, but I can tell that my clothes fit differently!

To see my other thoughts on ShapelyGirl Fitness, go to my initial post and my weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 updates.

About the giveaway: I love my Walking Fit & Fabulous DVD, and I'm thrilled to announce that Debra Mazda has given me a copy to give to one of my readers! Simply enter below for a chance to win! (I'm trying out Rafflecopter for the first time, so please let me know if you have any problems.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” I am part of the CWA Review Crew.

October 27, 2012

shapelygirl fitness: week four update

Week four with ShapelyGirl Fitness is over! This week was a bit of a challenge as busyness coupled with the flare up of some of my health issues left me with not much time or energy to work out. But I did manage to get my three workouts in!

Workout 1 (10-24-12): I was finally able to work out again today following last week's knee injury and a super busy Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday where I was home basically to sleep and shower. I did the Quick Walk & Cool Down from the Pre-Mix menu, and boy did Debra kick my butt! It felt good to sweat again and get my heart rate up, but it also wore me out!

Workout 2 (10-25-12): I did the Bonus Walk from the Pre-Mix menu tonight. It went well, and I finished feeling good.

Workout 3 (10-27-12): My goal today was to do the Long Walk ... well, I got through half of it! I was just so exhausted by that point that I had to quit. I see my doctor again on Monday, and I hope we'll be able to get to the bottom of this fatigue issue.

This week's numbers:
Weight: 191.2 (down .2 pounds)
Measurements: Down 1 inch on my chest, down .5 on my hips, down .5 on my thigh, down .5 on my calf, down .5 on my gut, same on my neck, same on my arm, and up 1 on my waist (huh???).

Check back in next week for my overall review of my experience with ShapelyGirl Fitness. In the meantime, feel free to check out my other ShapelyGirl posts. You can also check in on the other women who are on this journey by clicking below. Not everyone is giving a week four update (we had a choice about when to post our final thoughts, and I decided to do that next week), but you can check out the ones who decided to through this link up.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” I am part of the CWA Review Crew.

October 20, 2012

rethinking reviewing

I came to a realization this week. This is something I've known for a long time, but I ignored it. However, this week—when I had three book reviews due on Monday, one on Thursday, one on Friday, and one on Saturday—made one fact abundantly clear: I need to review fewer books.

When I began reviewing books on my blog (four years ago now!), I only reviewed for Thomas Nelson, and I averaged about one review a month. Then I began joining the book review blogger teams for other Christian publishers. And then, in February 2011, I hit the book blogger's jackpot when I became a Litfuse blogger. Litfuse is a publicity group, and they tour the best—seriously, the absolute best—in Christian fiction. (They also have non-fiction book tours, but I rarely sign up for those.) And when there's a wealth of excellent books, I have trouble saying no to any of them. (I've been trying—I even made "learn to say no" one of my goals for 2012—but I haven't been incredibly successful.) This year alone, I've discovered five or six new authors whose writing styles I really enjoy.

But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I feel like reviewing is beginning to take over my life. The last time I read a book purely for fun—no review strings attached—was after my gallbladder surgery in May. (And then I went ahead and reviewed it anyway because apparently I have a mental condition.) I have a full shelf of books I've purchased in the last 18 months that I really want to read but haven't had time for yet. I have a Kindle brimming with free books that I've never opened. I still haven't finished Loving or read Coming Home, the book that wraps up Karen Kingsbury's Baxter family saga. 
This is my "to be reviewed" shelf.
This is my "I so want to read you, but I can't because I have too many review books" shelf.
Probably the most important reason to review fewer books is that my spiritual life is suffering. In my spare time, either I'm reading like a mad woman or I'm vegging out in exhaustion. I can't remember the last time I picked up my Bible when it wasn't related to church or one of my Bible studies. 

So I've decided that, for the next six months to begin with, I will only request books from authors whose previous books I've loved. These are authors whose books I would purchase if I wasn't a reviewer—authors like Susan May Warren, Becky Wade, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer. This will cut back on my reviews drastically and should give me time for other things. Things like ...
  • Spending time with God.
  • Getting healthier. I'm working out and trying to eat better, but I know that the stress and lack of sleep due to reading and reviewing so many books is also wearing on my health.
  • Finally reading some of the other books on my "to be read" shelf.
  • Cleaning my house.
  • Continuing my Cinematic Survey project.
  • Blogging about things other than books.
  • Getting farther than episode four on Friday Night Lights.
  • Focusing on relationships.
For a while, my reviewing pace won't slow too much because, as you saw above, I already have a bunch of books to review. However, I don't think any week will be quite as crazy as this one has been!
    I know this won't be easy. I'll be very tempted to "cheat" now and again. But it will be healthy—for my body, mind, and soul.

    a long time ago, we used to be friends, but I haven't thought of you lately at all ...

    This made my night that much better:
    Now I think I need to go watch an episode of Veronica Mars before bed ...

    shapelygirl fitness: week three update

    "Life doesn't always turn out the way you plan." -While You Were Sleeping

    If I had to title this week, I would call it Week of Frustration. I began the week feeling so much better than I'd felt in over a month. Sunday and Monday were crazy-busy with church, Singing Christmas Tree practice, work, a visit from my cousin and her adorable daughters, and reading and blogging about three books, so I didn't have time to work out. Then on Tuesday night, I hurt my leg ... so I wasn't able to work out nearly as much as I'd hoped. This was especially frustrating because I felt like I finally had the energy for a good hard workout! Plus, I'm mad at myself because I know this injury is of my own making ... I inherited my mom's bad knees, and I've had problems with them off and on since high school. Well, on Tuesday night, I was working out barefoot. Yes, barefoot. So I had no support. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! My leg is healing, and I'm hoping to be back at full strength by next week.

    Workout 1 (10-16-12): My goal was to do the bonus walk and abdominal workout tonight. Things didn't go as planned, though. I started the bonus walk with a lot of energy and enthusiasm ... but about 10 minutes in, my left leg started hurting on the back side of the knee. Probably stupidly, I finished out the bonus walk and moved into the standing abs. But my leg hurt more and more every minute, and I stopped after just a couple minutes. I ended up elevating and icing my leg for the rest of the evening.

    Workout 2 (10-19-12): Even though my leg felt much better on Wednesday, I didn't want to push it, so I didn't do anything strenuous. I was sure that I'd be able to jump back in on Thursday. I was wrong. I woke up Thursday morning with an aching knee, and when I got out of the shower, I saw that it was swollen. So I iced it off and on all day.

    I was finally able to work out again today (Friday)! I did the Beginner's Walk ... and I left out certain parts in an effort to keep from re-injuring my knee. I felt a few twinges of pain, but for the most part, I was okay. Then I iced my knee again when I finished.

    This week's numbers:
    Weight: 191.4 (down .8 pounds)
    Measurements: down 1 inch on my thigh, down .5 on my upper arm, and up .5 on my calf (I knew that would happen!)

    As I've read through other ShapelyGirl Fitness Review Crew blogs, I've noticed a similar theme. Women are dealing with sickness, back problems, leg problems, marital problems, job stress, and the list goes on and on. We're all doing our best to fulfill our commitment to CWA and ShapelyGirl Fitness, but obstacles are being thrown into our paths. We all need your prayer! Yes, we are facing a physical battle, but it's also spiritual! Several of the women have chosen power scriptures for each week. I hadn't ... until now. This is my prayer for all of us on the crew:
    For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)
    Check in with the other women on the Crew and see how they're doing!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” I am part of the CWA Review Crew.

    October 18, 2012

    it's anti-slavery day. how will you get involved?

    You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know. ~William Wilberforce

    I remember the first time I was aware—really aware—of the horrors of sex slavery and human trafficking. My baby sister Blendy was competing in Serious Prose at State Speech, and a girl in one of her rounds performed a heartbreaking (and far too explicit for a high school competition) piece about a Nepali girl who was sold into sex slavery by her father. I did a bit more research, and I was horrified by what I learned. But what could I do to help?

    Then it hit me. I may not be able to go physically rescue people, but there are three other vitally important things that I can do.
    1. Pray. This is the one thing I can do all the time. I use this prayer guide from the A21 Campaign.
    2. Give. There are many wonderful anti-trafficking organizations; I'd encourage you to research them and, if you're able, choose one to financially support.
    3. Spread awareness. This can be done through blogging (like this post) and social media, through wearing items that spark conversation (like the One Girl bracelet and A21 Campaign KEY2FREE necklace), through talking with your friends, and through many other means. (For ideas, click here.)
    A few years ago, I ran an article about trafficking in the Advance, the school newsletter that goes out to NC parents, alumni, and supporters. The article was written by Sara, an alum who worked for World Vision as an associate expert on trafficking. Sara's article eloquently and tastefully opened people's eyes to the horrors of human trafficking. If your eyes need to be opened, I think this article is a great place to start. You can read it here—scroll to page six.

    Here are a couple videos about trafficking:

    I also recommend you watch Human Trafficking, an eye-opening, disturbing, action-spurring miniseries. If you have Netflix, you can watch it here.

    Today, on Anti-Slavery Day, why don't you take a few minutes to consider how you might get involved in this fight for freedom? Educate yourself. Pray for the victims. Spread the word.

    October 13, 2012

    shapelygirl fitness: week two update

    This week was a bit of a challenge because of the health issues I alluded to previously. But I did manage to work out ... (To see why I'm on this journey with ShapelyGirl Fitness and my week one update, click here and here.)

    Workout 1 (10-9-12): I felt pretty terrible all day (yesterday, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, but the soonest she could see me was Wednesday), so I didn't feel like working out when I got home from work. But I also knew that, depending on what I found out when I saw the doctor, I might not have much of an opportunity to work out for the rest of the week. So I put on the Beginner's Walk. By the end, I was actually feeling more human than I had all day, but I also didn't want to overdo it, so I didn't do any of the premixes after the Beginner's Walk.

    Workout 2 (10-10-12): I felt a little better today, though not very energetic. The doctor didn't have any answers for me, so we're waiting on lab work to come back.

    I took the dvd to my parents' house, since I cook supper for them on Wednesdays (they help with Awana at their church, so their time between work and church is pretty rushed) and my mom and I planned to watch a movie together after she got home from Awana. I did the Quick Walk from the premixes after supper. My mom watched part of the dvd, and she said, "This reminds me of Richard Simmons!" Yes!!! She also thinks she would like to work out with me sometime. Double Yes!!!

    Workout 3 (10-11-12):
    I felt worse today than yesterday, and by the time I got home from work, the last thing I wanted to do was work out. In the past, whenever I felt the least bit sick, I'd use that as an excuse to skip exercising. But since I committed to three times per week with ShapelyGirl Fitness, I decided to work out even though I didn't want to. I did the Bonus Walk tonight, and I definitely felt better than I had all day after I finished. I wonder what would happen if I started my day with the dvd? Would I feel better throughout the day? 

    Workout 4 (10-12-12): Last night, I toyed with the idea of getting up in time to do the dvd before work. That didn't even come close to happening, as I accidentally turned my alarm off when I meant to hit the snooze button! My lab panel came back today, and everything looks good! On the one hand, that's great news, but on the other, well, I know something is going on, so it's frustrating to not have any answers. But I'll keep plugging along ...

    I do feel better today than I have all week, so I decided to try for the whole dvd again. I did it! I'm definitely feeling more flexible than I was when I started—my kicks are higher, I can bend lower, and my body just feels more limber.

    This week's numbers:
    Weight: 192.2 (down 1.2 pounds)
    Measurements: all the same as last week

    I have a feeling that the weight loss came more from the lack of appetite than the exercise, and I would not be the least bit surprised to find my calves have grown by next week. I've always had insanely muscular calves (really the only part of my body that's remotely muscular!), and the walking workout makes me feel my calves in ways that even jogging doesn't! 

    One thing I've learned this week is that I should stop using "I don't feel good" as an excuse to skip exercising. Obviously, if I was down with the flu or something, exercise wouldn't help, but when I feel like I've been feeling lately—incredibly fatigued, crampy, and just blah—even a short workout can help me feel better.

    Check out how the other women on the ShapelyGirl Fitness review crew are doing:

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” I am part of the CWA Review Crew.

    October 7, 2012

    the proof of your love

    A while ago, a friend introduced me to the Christian band for KING & COUNTRY. Their music is great, and if you haven't heard them before, you really should check them out. As I thought about what to title this post, their song "The Proof of Your Love" kept running through my head. It's a song about wanting your life to reflect God's love to those around, which is really not the focus of this post ... but the title still applies!

    One of the things we're supposed to be doing in my Beth Moore Bible study is writing down personal revelations for each week—ways God shows Himself to us. Honestly, I've been struggling with that part. September was a pretty terrible month for me health wise—nothing major, but I felt sick more often than not, and when I don't feel good, it's hard for me to take my eyes off myself and see how God is working.

    Yesterday, my mom and I went to Omaha to visit Blendy and go to the symphony. But on the way, I started feeling sick again, and we ended up leaving Omaha before the symphony. This morning, I still wasn't feeling well, but I'd made plans with someone after church, and Singing Christmas Tree practices started today, so I decided to go ahead and go to church. Right before leaving for church, I found out my friend needed to cancel our lunch plans, and I almost just stayed home. I'm so glad I didn't!

    As I was walking toward the church building, I bumped into my new friend Julie. Julie and I went to college together, but we never met. We connected over facebook during the Nebraska-Wisconsin game last week; we have a mutual college friend who asked a question about Bo Pelini, we both responded, and we discovered we both live in the Grand Island area. (This is big because there aren't many Grace alums in the area. At all.) Then on Thursday night, we met for coffee at The Chocolate Bar. Anyway, it was a nice surprise to run into Julie this morning and to meet her husband and son.

    Then when I walked into the sanctuary, I spotted Stephany and her boyfriend. Steph and I are rarely in church on the same Sundays, and it was so nice to sit with her and catch up a bit. On the way out of church, I chatted with one of my VBS kids, last year's Bible study leader Carol, and former student Jess.

    I decided to go hang out at Barista's for a while, as practice didn't start until 3. And who should walk in but Jamie, a friend I hadn't spent any time with since the end of May! We didn't have long to talk, but it was so nice to see her.

    As I drove to Singing Christmas Tree practice, it hit me that my day was the proof of God's love for me. He used people to make my day better and take my eyes off my own problems. (And if you're wondering, Singing Christmas Tree practice was wonderful—our director said it was like a family reunion as we all got back together for the first time since last December, and she was right!)

    I'm sure that if I would just keep my eyes open, I would see so many more proofs of God's love for me. What about you? How is God showing you His love?

    shapelygirl fitness: week one update

    Week one of working out with ShapelyGirl Fitness is on the books!

    Now that you know why I'm on this journey with ShapelyGirl Fitness, I want to share some thoughts on the workout dvd I chose.

    I chose Walking Fit & Fabulous as my workout dvd for two reasons. First, I have knee problems that flare up now and again, and I figured a walking workout would be as low impact as I could find. Second, I'm hoping my mom will work out with me sometimes, and I thought the walking workout would be easiest for her. We haven't worked out together yet, but I'm hoping maybe sometime this week we can.

    In addition to the full walking workout (which runs approximately 80 minutes), the dvd also includes a beginner's walk of 13 minutes and four pre-mixes that combine parts of the full workout. I love that there are options because I'm pretty sure I would get tired of doing the exact same workout every day!

    Since this is a once-a-week recap, I'm going to journal about each workout just after it happens to give you a look at the day-by-day stuff:

    Workout 1 (10-1-12): I decided to do the whole workout video in one session, and I did it! My neighbor kids interrupted me several times, so it took 1-1/2 hours to do it, but I made it! I didn't do the bonus walk at the end because it was time for Dancing with the Stars (priorities, you know?), but I did get through everything else.

    Most of the workout was quite easy to do, but one of the steps did throw me for a loop. I'm sure I'll be better at it next time! I didn't feel truly winded until close to the end of the workout, when Debra asked us to do "quick feet." At that point, I may or may not have yelled at the TV!

    Workout 2 (10-2-12): I fully expected to feel sore after my first workout, even though it wasn't too taxing. I wasn't, though ... until I started working out tonight! I didn't want to do the full workout tonight because I came home from work absolutely exhausted. I wanted to hit the couch for some reading time, but instead I popped in the dvd. I did the Quick Walk & Cool Down from the preset menu. This is just over 30 minutes long, and believe me, I felt every single one of those minutes! Once I started moving, I could feel the soreness in my legs, and by the end, it was only sheer willpower that kept me from collapsing to the floor and giving up. But I made it through, and now I feel great! Gotta love those after-exercise endorphins!

    P.S. The sashay is the step I couldn't get yesterday. Today, I paused the dvd and practiced it for a while ... and by the end, I had it down pretty well!

    Workout 3 (10-3-12): Tonight I did the bonus walk. I think this may be my favorite premix! It incorporates the arms more than the regular walk does ... and I could definitely feel the burn! Even though I only worked out for 16 minutes, I felt like I'd gone 30 or more.

    Workout 4 (10-5-12): I know I won't always get in more than three workouts a week, but I had time tonight (after taking last night off), so I decided to go for it! I did the bonus walk and abdominal exercises. My right leg was hurting me a bit, so I didn't go all out—but I still got a good workout!

    Now for the week's numbers!
    Weight: 193.4 pounds (down 2.6 pounds!)
    Bust: 45.5 in (down 1/2 in)
    Waist: 39 (down 1 in)
    Hips: 45 (same)
    Thigh: 26 (same)
    Calf: 16 (same)
    Gut: 47 (same)
    Arm: 13.5 (same)

    One thing I'm learning most is about the power of community. If I was doing this on my own, I might have given up by now. But I have 26 other women who are doing this challenge along with me, and their support has been amazing! We have a secret facebook group that we can post in, and I find such encouragement as I interact with them. Below, you can see where we've linked up our posts. Please read some (or all!) of them and leave comments encouraging them. We come from many different backgrounds, live in various parts of the country (or Canada), and are all dealing with various challenges, but we have two things in common: we love Jesus, and we need to get in shape. I know they would appreciate your encouragement, just as I've appreciated theirs!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” I am part of the CWA Review Crew.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...