Saturday, March 29, 2014


Today I want to talk about results.

We all want them.  We all dream of them.  We all work hard to see them.  Well, what happens when we finally start seeing them?

For me, I remember getting very excited, and then immediately feeling like I could become complacent in my workouts and the way I chose to eat.  Now, four years down the road, I look back at that time and wonder why it was in my nature to automatically hit the brakes on all that I knew to be working?

I think that for me, I was so excited to work very hard see the results that I felt the need to "reward" myself with food or "days off." I can see now that using food and exercise as rewards is not healthy for me, instead, I choose to view the way I feel, the energy I experience when I eat right and work out as my reward.

Eventually, of course, I figured out that I couldn't keep the results I was experiencing unless I continued on my healthier path.  It just doesn't work that way.

I want to encourage you today. If you are someone just starting out, and are seeing some results, please stay the course.  Keep going.  Instead of just focusing on pounds or inches lost, consider also journaling about how you feel each day when you make good food choices and move.  Did you have more energy? Did you sleep well?

Focusing on how my body feels has helped me to maintain this lifestyle for some time now.  It still isn't easy; some days that I have scheduled to go run or walk I wish I didn't need to.  But truly once I am out on the roads, I love it.  I love the air, the breeze, the feeling of accomplishment, and the sense of peace I experience.

Be assured, that the healthy choices you make today and every day are their own reward.  YOU are doing something to help YOU.  That is awesome, that is wonderful, that is needed.  YOU are the only one that can do it for you... Keep going, notice the little things that all add up to the results you started doing this all for anyway... Less stress, more energy, feeling better each day overall.

You can do this.  I know you can.

Your Sole Searching Sister,

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ― Aristotle

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hard Work

I am really grateful to be one in a group of women (you may have read about them in previous posts) that meets weekly to walk 8+ miles together.  What started out as friendship has grown into a sisterhood.  We support one another, cheer for one another's triumphs, and pray and comfort each other in times of distress.

This week one of my sisters in sweat hit a milestone in her fitness goals.  She surpassed 100 miles for the year.  Her yearly mileage goal is 500 miles, and she is well on her way to reaching that goal.

This morning as we were walking together, I expressed how happy I was for her, and how proud I felt of her.

I love reaching and meeting my own personal fitness goals.  I love the entire process; setting a goal, working towards it and then finally reaching it.  There is just something about that feeling... it's satisfaction, that makes all of the early mornings and sore muscles totally worth it.

Talking with my friend this morning I realized that the only thing better (in my opinion) than reach my own goals, is to see those we care about work hard to reach his/her own.

With all this goal reaching going on.. I wanted to share a quote from Author Theodore Isaac Rubin:

"Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best."

What goal have you set for yourself this year? How are you feeling about it? What steps are you taking to ensure you can reach this goal? What stumbling blocks have you come across?

I would sure love to cheer you on as you work hard towards your goal.  I invite you to share your goals here in the comments, I will do my best to respond.

Until then, remember if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.  Choose to take the challenge head on.  I promise it is worth it, and so are you.

Your Sole Searching Sister,

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I love good days.  Don't really care for the bad days, and I really don't know what to think about "ugly" days.  But I do know that we were never promised only good days.

Some days things seem to just align and go the way we thought they would.  But, let's be real; that doesn't happen all that often.

More often than not, "our" plans don't always go as..., well, planned.  There are hiccups along the way.

I am learning that how we conduct ourselves both outwardly or innerly (which is really a word, by the way, I looked it up!), shows our character.

If I am honest with myself, I often fall very short of displaying the  character I would like to have in stressful situations.  I take lots of deep breaths, usually quite loud, and often feel discouraged and disappointment, instead of choosing grace over my circumstances.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from 1 Thessalonians.  "Give thanks in all circumstances." It does sound so easy.  But I know, and I imagine you do too... it's not.

The good news is that we all have a choice.  We can choose how we react to stress, unexpected circumstances, and bothersome every day annoyances.

My prayer for you (and me) today is that we will work harder than we did yesterday to choose grace and gratitude over eye rolling and huffy breaths.  That we may choose laughter over complaining and grumbling.  That we may choose to acknowledge the truth that there is a lesson hiding beneath our stressors.

Choose Joy, choose Grace, choose Thankfulness.

Your Sole Searching Sister,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thank you for teaching me...

Last night I experienced a wonderful moment (actually about an hours' worth) with our 10 year old daughter, Bela.  She attends a School of the Arts public school, and has the opportunity this year to take dance as part of her weekly class load.

Her dance group is preparing for a Spring Show, and she has been coming home for over a month practicing nightly.  Last night at bedtime, she really wanted to show me the tap dance that she is learning.  Unfortunately, she is not actually going to be performing in the tap dance this Spring, but has the opportunity to perhaps perform it in the end of the year program.

With great excitement, she shows me the "moves," I clap and realize that when she dances her face glows with pure JOY and CONCENTRATION.  I could see her brain working hard to remember each step and the order by which to execute them.

After her little performance for me, I joked with her that I could teach her a few moves (I took dance lessons for 15 years as a child/teen.) She kind of teasingly challenged me to do a tap step.  (Picture it, she and I both in our PJ's and stocking feet.. )I showed her the time step.  Her face lit up, her eyes widened, and next thing I know she says, "teach me."

So, from about 9:15 - 10:15 pm last night, she and I worked on learning the time step.  At ten years old, and having never taken tap lessons at a studio, I could see once again that she was really putting forth great effort to memorize each portion of the step.  Even though bed-time had come and gone, how could I stop this important moment from happening?

I couldn't, because I can't underestimate the importance of self determination and drive.

By the end of that hour, she had it.  Did she perform it perfectly? No.  Do I? No, again.  (Hey, it's been years!) But, seeing her try and try again, never giving up until she felt as though she had "mastered" the step was priceless to me.

We said our goodnights, again, and as I left her room, I told her, "I know once I leave here, you are going to want to practice some more.  That's ok, I don't blame you.  Just don't stay up too late, ok, honey?" She smiled in the darkness, and said "Ok Mom."

I went off to bed to share with my hubby the fun we just had.  About ten minutes later, Bela comes into our room apologizing.  "I'm sorry guys, I know I should be in bed but I just had to show Daddy." So she showed him the time step.  Then she ran around to my side of the bed, and said five words that I never knew meant so much to me until she said them.."Thank you for teaching me."

I wanted to share this with you because I believe truly with my whole heart that the people that teach us over our lifetime are amazingly important in learning the lessons in life.  (I don't just mean school teachers, but anyone in our life that we learn from, friends, family, co-workers, etc.) But to me, what is even more important is the action we take once we have been taught.  Like my daughter and the time step, if we learn a lesson, but do not put it into practice into our own lives, the value of the lesson's practicality and effectiveness weakens.

For example, if our doctor gives us guidelines to better our physical health, but we do not put it into practice daily, the value of that lesson weakens.  If we go to work, and we learn a new skill but do not implement it, the value of that skill weakens.  If our spouse or friend honestly gives us feedback about an aspect in our relationship, but we do not honor it by complying, the value of that feedback weakens.  If read articles, books, and web-articles about how to lose weight/get healthy, but do not put in the work, the value of that information weakens... in our daily lives.

This morning I am praying that none of us knowingly or unknowingly make choices that diminish the value of the many lessons that we are taught in our daily lives.  If you really think about it, these lessons do not present themselves to us by accident or coincidence... no, God has a plan for you and for me.  Why should we think that any of these lesson that come our way are not from Him?

Keep your eyes open today, don't miss the lessons that come to you.  May you have the gratitude in your heart that says, "thank you for teaching me," and the determination to follow through to increase the value of the lesson in your life!

Your Sole Searching Sister,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Being seen

One of the most important pieces of equipment I use when I run or walk in the early mornings is a little blinky light that I clip on my shoe.  This blinky light gives me some reassurance that oncoming traffic should be able to see me in the darkness.  "Being seen" as I venture out in the dark early hours of the day is of the utmost importance.

"Being seen" is often listed as one of the most basic of human needs.  We all have the desire to be seen, heard, and validated.  Often, we look to friends, family, co workers, and others for that validation.

Today, I want to explore the value and importance of seeing ourselves.  There are seasons in our lives where we get so busy with the tasks and activities of our every day lives, that we do not take the time to really examine our own feelings.

Over the past few months many people that I see on a weekly basis have made the comment to me, "Julie, you look tired." Seriously, it seems I hear this from someone at work at least two to three times a week.  My reply has always been the same, "I am tired."

Finally, in the last week or so, I really paid attention to what others were saying, and what I myself was saying... I am tired.  "Yeah, so who isn't," was my first thought.  But then I allowed myself to really look deeper at my daily routine and habits, as well as my responsibilities.  I have two part time jobs, a husband, a daughter, and am also a part time student.  I have very little free time, and the time I do have I spend running or walking in the wee early hours of the morning.

I realized that I needed to start listening to my body - go to bed a bit earlier than I normally would, squeeze in an hour of homework after I get off work, before picking up my daughter, instead of doing a load of laundry, etc.  I needed to put my health first.  Sleep is healthy, we all need it.  This is not happening overnight, but I am making great strides.

Being conscious of what our own bodies are telling us about our health is of the highest value.  Ignoring signs of potential problems or issues is never good.  Are you tired? Are you bloated? Are you easily fatigued? Today, really put yourself first by listening and seeing what your body is telling you.  Usually the answer to these issues is right in front of us.  We just need to look and see.

When was the last time you really paid attention to what your body, mind, and spirit were saying to you?

Love yourself enough to truly see, all that you are, and all that you can be.

Your Sole Searching Sister,

Never violate the sacredness of your individual self-respect. -Theodore Parker

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Erasing Fear

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. -Deut 31:6

Tonight, I have this thought on my mind...

What would it look like if we all woke up tomorrow and did the one thing we were too afraid to do today?

We all have experienced it.  Maybe you have something that you have always wanted to do but have allowed your fear to keep you from trying it.

The theme of overcoming and erasing fear has been prevalent in my life for a few weeks now.  It keeps coming up in sermons, devotions, and even my Sunday School lessons that are planned out weeks in advance.

I have been praying for all of you, and for myself.  Praying that we can choose each and every day to battle the fear that creeps in, blocking goodness and opportunities from coming into our lives.

Tonight, I encourage you to not focus on the fear that is facing you, but rather the promise that can be found in Deuteronomy chapter 31, "God will never leave you nor forsake you." He goes with you... He will never leave you stranded or alone.  He will never leave you to deal with your situation alone.  Just lean on Him, and His understanding, and He will give you peace while you handle what you are facing.  

He doesn't promise us an easy road.  He does promise us that He will go with us.

So how could we ever be afraid knowing that?

I would love to hear how you are overcoming your fears.  Post back and share, and let's get the conversation started!

Your Sole Searching Sister,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Feeling Motivated?

  I have been feeling very grateful for the connections I have made with friends that are like minded and are dedicated to a healthier life.  Some of them I meet weekly to walk, others I have never met, but follow their journey on facebook.  Do these people inspire me? Absolutely yes!

Over the weekend, I had some time to really think.  I gave a lot of thought to what motivates me and what seems to motivate my friends and family.  Where does our motivation truly come from? For those that get up time after time, put on their running/walking shoes and hit the pavement... what motivates them to do that?

Is it self discipline? Drive? Seeing results? Wanting to see results? Stubbornness? Dedication? Or is it some combination of these?

I can only answer this question for myself.  Personally what motivates me is very simple.  It feels good.  I could say that I do it day in day out for my health, hopefully adding years to my life.  And I do! But is that the first thought that I have when my alarm goes off at 4:20 a.m. every morning? Not necessarily.

Before I really started on this journey, I watched others who did not seem to struggle with this lifestyle.  From the outside looking in, it seemed easy.  I know now, that it is not easy for anyone.

What motivates me? It feels good.  It feels good to do something that just 5 short years ago, I never ever thought I could.  It feels good to be done after a run or walk.  It feels good to know that I made a commitment to myself and followed through.  It feels good to know that a promise I made (that was made to me and me alone) has been made good.  It feels good to step outside, breathe in the fresh air, and maybe just maybe beat my time from the day before.  It just feels good.

This is what I think of and force myself to remember as I stumble in to bed at midnight after doing 9 hours of Algebra homework, and think.. "ooh I forgot to lay out my running clothes, get back up girl." This is what I remember when my breathing is labored, and I wonder why I am not still in bed like everyone else? This is what I hold onto morning after morning.

I have learned that I can read blogs, fitness quotes, see those funny ecard pics, get running advice from others, etc.  but only I can truly every really motivate myself to do it.

My prayer today is that if you have found your motivation that you never lose it, that you hold tight to it and continue your path with success and good health.  If you are looking for motivation, I pray that today is the day that you realize that you do not have to look any further than within.. and that you be that for yourself in love.

Your Sole Searching Sister,