Day One… Again!

IMG_1262

Yesterday was a new day one! I’m starting a fresh round of 21 Day Fix Extreme in a new challenge group. I’m starting again alongside other people who are making positive changes in their lives as well and it is such an encouraging and uplifting environment!

What I love about these challenge groups is that every month is a new day one. Every month is a new chance for a fresh start. Every month I have a chance to celebrate the victories of the past month and also look for ways to improve. It’s so much more than a diet! It’s a lifestyle, and when you’re making changes to improve your lifestyle, there is always room to grow and learn!

So yesterday, my day consisted of a meal plan that I stuck to 100%, and a 30 minute, but INTENSE workout! I felt great after my workout and I’m feeling a bit sore today! So I know I put in the work!

It is amazing to me the difference I feel each month leading into a fresh challenge. At the beginning of my first challenge, I was so full of fear! I didn’t know if I could finish what I started, I didn’t know if I’d see results, I felt a serious lack of confidence and a lack of love for myself. It is really sad to me to look back and see how down I was at that point. But it’s amazing to see myself then, and to look in the mirror almost 6 months later and see a new person. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing!

I truly believe that Go desires life lived to the FULL, and for me, that has been found through taking care of myself, mind, body, and soul, and truly loving myself and treating my body as a gift from God rather than a burden. It overflows into all areas of my life! I feel like I am truly living out the life I was created for — that feels amazing ūüôā

IMG_1239

IMG_1223

IMG_1247

IMG_1254 (1)

IMG_1256

IMG_1265

On the Menu – Old Standbys

Last week I was feeling a lack of creativity when it come to our meals. There are some weeks when I’ve got so many new recipes to try its hard to choose which to cook, and then other weeks, I sit down to meal plan and make a grocery list, and I hear crickets chirping. Last week was one of the latter. So I went with some old standby recipes that we have been loving for years, but added some healthy twists to them that we didn’t do before.

I did have one new recipe to try for a few days’ of lunches that turned out really good! But first, dinners:

Pizza!
We love to make pizza at home and always fall back on a few different favorites for toppings. This time we went with the margarita pizza Рfresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, and we tossed some spinach on there as well for some extra green. The crust was dough from the Publix bakery and was whole wheat! Needless to say we saved up our yellow containers to enjoy this meal a few nights last week!

IMG_0903

Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry over Quinoa
Another easy favorite. We switch up the veggies we use from time to time, and last week I spiralized a cabbage for our stir fry! How cool is that?? We also included onion, carrots, and snow peas as well as chicken. I use my wok for our stir fry. First I cooked the chicken in about a tablespoon of sesame oil. Once it was slightly browned, I removed the chicken and then added in a bit more sesame oil to cook the veggies! I did the onion first, then added the rest and let it cook until all the veggies were done but still a little crisp. Then I added the chicken back in and gave everything a little squirt of teriyaki sauce. At the same time I had the quinoa cooking so once it was all combined, it was a delicious meal!

IMG_0950

IMG_1018

Crock Pot Balsamic Chicken with Broccoli Noodles & Florets (and a whole grain roll)
The recipe for this chicken came from here and it is quite tasty, although it does have a pretty strong balsamic taste so you need to like that flavor! The broccoli is spiralized, then the noodles and florets were blanched, drained, and sautéed over medium-high heat. I added some olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and crumbled turkey bacon and covered it for about 5-8 minutes, tossing it around a few times.

IMG_1037

Avocado Zucchini Noodle Pasta
This was the one new recipe I tried last week for lunch and it was delicious! The recipe for the sauce can be found here. I used zucchini noodles instead of regular noodles. I sautéed the zucchini noodles and cherry tomatoes for a few minutes until the noodles and tomatoes were slightly soft, then tossed it with the sauce and voila! Seriously tasted like a creamy pasta sauce and satisfied my pasta-loving taste buds!

IMG_0891

New week now, and a new opportunity for some more yummy healthy meals! Anybody cooking anything exciting this week??

Love and Light will Win!

I spent much of my morning in tears over the tragic shooting that happened in a Charleston church last night. We hear about shootings far too often these days, and unfortunately (or fortunately, not sure) I’ve been able to sort of numb myself to the horror of each new incident. But for whatever reason, this one really shook me and broke my heart.

I don’t have any¬†connections to anyone involved, or even really to the town itself. But maybe its because Charleston was the first place Bryan and I went on vacation, just the two of us (besides our honeymoon). Or maybe its that we have friends who live and work in Charleston. Or maybe its that I take my children to church 2-3 times a week, where I feel safe from the darkness of the world. I guess it’s probably¬†all of those things.

This world is such a dark place. So dark. It can be easy to feel like the darkness is too overwhelming, that the light is being shut out. As a mother, I feel such a pit in my stomach about this world that my children are living in. They are so young right now, so innocent. How do I prepare them for the evil of the world that they will encounter? How do I equip them to handle tragedy and hate? How do I train them up to be lights in the midst of such darkness?

I don’t know. But I hope to set an example, first and foremost. As a believer in Christ, as dark as the world may seem at times, I believe that light will be victorious. If hate can produce such terrible things in the world, how much MORE GOOD can love produce? I can’t even imagine! So my hope will be to keep my eyes, heart, and mind fixed on the LIGHT and to be an example of LOVE to those around me. I hope others will do the same, so we can¬†live in a world where we see glimpses of dark amongst the light, rather than glimpses of light amongst the dark.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

I don’t want to numb myself anymore, to the darkness. I want to live FULLY ALIVE in Christ and allow my life to be a light. We have a responsibility as believers. So many people don’t know the love and freedom of Christ. Let’s not allow the darkness to extinguish¬†the light in our lives, because God has already said that light will overcome.

Wednesday Words – Fruit of the Spirit

I have found myself desperately praying for more of the fruit of the spirit lately. I don’t know, something about being mommy to a 2.5 year old, plus the unpredictability of a 9 month old – it seems like I’m at the end of my rope more often than not. And nothing upsets me more than to be in the midst of losing patience and speaking harshly to my babies. There is certainly a time for sternness and a hard tone of voice, but when that tone is used in anger rather than in love, my heart breaks a little bit.

I love my kids so much, and I love my husband so much, but I see more and more every day that if my relationship with God isn’t where it needs to be, my¬†love can be covered up by frustration, irritability, bitterness, a short-temper, eye rolls… it is certainly a humbling thing to read the¬†list I just typed compared to the list that the Lord gives. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. These are the qualities I desire, not just in the happy, sweet moments, but in the ugly ones too. This is truly the mark of the Holy Spirit!

If you feel like I do, print this one out – put¬†it somewhere that you can see it daily. Hang it somewhere that you’ll catch a glimpse of it in times of need. Maybe on the wall near the time-out spot you seem to visit a hundred times a day with your little one. Or maybe on the pantry door as you’re retrieving yet another snack or meal for your always-hungry kids. Or maybe you don’t have kids and you need it next to your computer screen as you answer dozens of emails from¬†sometimes rude or ungrateful senders. Or maybe in your car, so you can see it as you head away from home to the stress of work, or as you head away from work to the stress of home. Let’s¬†remind ourselves of who we are in Christ so that we reflect the Spirit rather than our flesh!

“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit‚Äôs leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:25

Printable version: FruitoftheSpirit

IMG_0504

9 Months

IMG_8839

Oh my goodness! Didn’t I just do Neely’s 8 month post?! Time is flying and we are having so much fun with our little 9 month old.

This has been a month of embracing SUMMER! Neely has had her first pool experiences this month – with the baby pool in our backyard and the BIG pool! She loves them both… although in the baby pool she mostly just wants to crawl out of the pool and eat leaves. Sooooo, there’s that. In the big pool though she really enjoyed floating in the water and watching her brother swim. I think her favorite activity though, at Kristin and Chris’ pool there is a 1 foot round baby pool and Neely LOVED standing on the edge and cruising around the pool!

IMG_0812

IMG_0857

IMG_0836

IMG_0441

Another theme of the month for Neely has been BUSY. Oh man. This girl is on the GO! She wants to get her hands on EVERYTHING and she will do anything it takes to get there. She believes that taking the most direct route is best, even if its not the easiest. She will climb up and over ANYTHING in her way to get to what she wants! As you can see from the bottle picture below, even sitting still for a bottle is out of the question. She takes frequent bottle breaks to check out her surroundings and make sure she’s not missing out on anything.

IMG_0340

IMG_0492

IMG_0218

IMG_0600

Our girl still loves to eat and has actually agreed to allow us to feed her with a spoon every once in awhile! She still prefers the finger foods but she loves apple sauce, so she’s willing to take a spoon to get some. She has been eating little bits of whatever we or her brother are eating, so she’s tried broccoli and grilled cheese and chicken – so far she seems to like it all! She now has 5 teeth that are totally through the gums with 3 more so close behind!

Neely and James continue to grow closer and closer, they really do love each other so much! James is a sweet brother, although sometimes a little rough. BUT, Neely is so tough! Half the time I go to grab James off of her and she is just laughing and laughing! She may be a teeny bit of an instigator, too… we’ll see what happens with that.

IMG_0232

IMG_0801

IMG_0787

IMG_0573

Neely loves to babble and bounce – especially when she hears music! Her favorite sounds to make are “Bababababa” and “Mamamama” which is just really cute. She also can crack herself up and will often be heard laughing to herself in the carseat or as she crawls across the floor. What a fun little spirit! It continues to be a joy to watch this baby girl grow!

“Her? A health and fitness coach?…”

CoachingPost

I’ve been a Beachbody coach for a little over 4 months. At times I’ve struggled with sharing about it, because I’ve been afraid of what people may think. People who know me may think, “How can she be a coach? She’s not exactly the poster child for good health!” Or maybe people would think, “She’s on quite a health-kick lately. We’ll see how long it lasts…”

All my life I’ve struggled with worrying about what other people think, feeling self-conscious, just wanting to fit in. Those fears have held me back for a long time! I have allowed myself to blend in, to follow other people’s passions and dreams rather than my own. I’ve never really lived out what I believed to be my own, personal, true calling. But now… I feel like I am doing just that. And it is scary, and surreal, and challenging, but so so worth it!

I began my¬†health journey with the help of others, people who were already close friends of mine, and also people I had never met. The community and encouragement was unlike anything I had ever experienced and I knew I couldn’t let it go! I became a coach to continue with the relationships I was building, to continue having accountability, and so that I could have help along the way as I tried to create a new life for myself and my family.

Changes began in me, internally and externally, and soon I began to think, this is too good to keep to myself. This is too rich, too rewarding, too encouraging – I have to share this! So a few months after becoming a coach, I began actually “coaching.” I wanted people to join me. I wanted to share my experience. I wanted to spread the amazing spirit that was beginning to flow out of me.

I won’t say that coaching has changed my life, because I believe only God has the power to change lives – but I believe that God has used coaching to reveal more to me and about me than I ever thought possible and I will be forever grateful.

Some of the changes I’ve experienced in myself:
confidence.
purpose.
boldness.
courage.
(I’ve always been the biggest scaredy-cat of all time!!)

Being a part of the Beachbody community has been such a gift to me. And they are so supportive¬†of their coaches! Every month that I have been a coach, simply for having¬†friends join my challenge groups, Beachbody has sent me little presents in the mail. Bobble heads and games and bags – sometimes silly little things but so fun! The biggest and best reward I’ve gotten, however, is that for achieving some successes in my first 3 months as a coach, I was given a FREE ticket to the BIGGEST Beachbody event of the year! I will be traveling to Nashville later this summer to spend a long weekend with thousands of other coaches, attend trainings by the TOP coaches in all of Beachbody, work out with CELEBRITY trainers such as Chalene Johnson, Autumn Calabrese, and Shaun T, and perhaps most exciting, I will get to finally meet face-to-face some of the women who have played such a vital role in supporting me and helping me become the best version of myself. My teammates and friends. I CAN’T WAIT!!!

I would love to share more with YOU about what it could mean for you to become a coach too. We are having a “sneak peek” Facebook group starting on Monday. There are NO requirements or commitments for the group – it is simply 5 days of information and discussion about what coaching really means, what is required of you as a coach, and how you can make money doing it and turn it into a business owned and operated by YOU. If you’d like to join the group and hear more, just send me a message on Facebook (www.facebook.com/meredithelderlivinginlight) or an email at elder.meredith@gmail.com and I will add you!

IMG_0418

Balance

This past weekend was such a gift! Bryan and I had a weekend away; we dropped the kiddies off with their loving grandparents and we drove in peace to the beach! While there we celebrated the marriage of Bryan’s cousin and enjoyed time with family. We also enjoyed time together, just us!

IMG_0658

We spent our time well – we didn’t want to waste any of our precious alone-time! We both woke up before the sun (I guess we were just really excited to have the freedom to do anything that we wanted to start right away!) So we biked to the beach and enjoyed a walk/run together.¬†We biked home and showered, then went downtown for some delicious breakfast. We then spent some time back home before meeting up with family and beginning the wedding festivities.

IMG_0665

The quality of our time together was amazing, beginning with that long, quiet car ride and lasting throughout the entire weekend. One of our goals for our time was to talk intentionally about our time, specifically time spent working and time as a family.¬†One of my biggest “complaints” lately about my day-to-day has been that I have too much to do and not enough time. It feels like all my daily tasks are jumbled in my head and the second I get a spare moment to address one of those tasks, I have no idea how to prioritize and decide what to do first, that I get even more frustrated and give up.

So we came up with a plan! I used some wisdom from a really awesome top Beachbody coach and sort of mapped out my week, hour by hour, assigning each hour with the thing I would focus my attention on. I decided on my top 6 priorities, and each of those priorities gets certain hours of each day!

We started with this plan on Monday and it went GREAT!!! I was so excited. Then, around 4am on Tuesday morning (an hour that is to be given to sleep…) James woke up with a stomach bug. This, obviously, brought the “plan” to a screeching halt.

What I learned from this experience is that I want to plan, I want to be wise with my time, and I want to give the people and tasks¬†I love most my focused attention. BUT I cannot be a slave to the “plan.” My schedule is good, it is well thought out and fair, but it cannot be the end-all, be-all because at the end of the day, God is in control. I want to honor my schedule, but I want to honor God more. So if that means canceling some work hours to tend to¬†my sick boy, or moving nap time up by 2 hours because everyone is exhausted from being up since 4am, so be it.

We got back to the plan on Wednesday and things went smoothly. I’m glad to know I have a general guide for how my days can be spent, but I’m also glad to know I have a God who keeps me on my toes!

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

IMG_0677