On Consistency

Do you ever find that your deepest-held values are the ones that often intimidate you the most? Consistency is like that for me. I preach it nearly as often as I preach Jesus. Clearly I should have blogged about it a long time ago. It is a cornerstone component of my life. And yet… talking about it makes me nervous.


Because I’m so often the opposite of consistent, that’s why. As soon as I start talking about consistency in one area, I immediately start thinking of ways I’m horribly inconsistent in other areas. So I’m just gonna say it: I am a work in progress.

In this article, I’m going to talk a little bit about why I believe consistency is so important, give examples of some areas where I do pretty well and some where I could improve, and (I hope) inspire you to pick an area of growth to focus on in your own life. Ready? Here we go.

Why Consistency Matters

There are a lot of philosophies out there on how to implement lifestyle changes. From productivity to weight loss to budgeting, you can do a Google search, read some stuff, and find pretty much any method. Some methods work better for some people. I have heard people make convincing cases for massive, imperfect action to boost yourself into change and progress. I have heard that “fast is easy, slow is never.” And I’ve also heard that the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Depending on your personality, some of these quick efforts to blast through obstacles or bad habits may sound appealing to you. The often sound appealing to me to, and I may jump on a bandwagon for awhile, but I jump off pretty quickly, usually for one reason: Overwhelm.

I take on a lot. I often think I have more time, energy, and ability than what I really do. Not only do I take on a lot, but also I tend to pile it on very suddenly. When reality sets in, I’m buried under a pile of things I said I’d do, trying to juggle too many things at once. I’m a terrible juggler. I get too many balls in the air and I start dropping them, usually with catastrophic results.

Right now, I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it’s really resonating with me. I’m still not very far into the book, but what he says about changing your life slowly, with small, consistent changes implemented over time, is something I can really agree with. It is what has always worked the best for me. Maybe I need to change a lot of things, but the idea of changing a lot all at once is intimidating. Changing one small thing, and sticking with that, well that’s not so bad. Anyone can do that. Do that enough times in the course of a few years and you’ll find yourself looking back and realizing just how much you’ve transformed your life.

What It Looks Like For Me

As I said, some I am more consistent in some areas than others. These are not necessary things I am naturally good at or enjoy. They are things I’ve made a consistent, conscious effort to work at. They include:

  • Drinking water. Although I’m not great at doing this throughout the day, I do make an effort to stay hydrated. For me, that starts in the morning with a glass or two of water, usually with a quarter of a lemon, right after I wake up. I also choose water rather than most other drinks, and I try to keep it with me or at least visible so I remember to drink it.
  • Working out. My goal is to exercise for at least 10 minutes 3-5 times a week, and to average at least 2 hours of exercise per week, which obviously means at least one of my workouts has to be around an hour. I do that consistently. I also do the same workout at Planet Fitness once a week pretty consistently. What I’m not great at is sticking to a particular plan or program. I can do it for a few weeks, maybe up to a month, but then I get bored and have to move on to something else. The important thing to me, though, is that I’m doing something and continuing to see progress.
  • Reading my Bible. I track my daily Bible reading through the Bible app from YouVersion, which says I have opened the app 199 times this year, with 27 perfect weeks. If my math is right, that means I have missed less than seven days this entire year. This is a huge improvement from last year, and I can feel that improvement in my spiritual health and general peace of mind. Participating in reading groups with friends and posting the verse of the day on Instagram most days helps me a lot with this.

There are probably a few other things I consistently do well if I thought about it, but whenever I start thinking about what I do well, I also think about areas where I could really improve. Here are some of those:

  • Meal planning. I do this sometimes, and it really helps, but I’m not consistent. I use emeals, which is great, but often I’ll get home with a week’s worth of dinner food and nothing for breakfast. (Hint: emeals actually offers lunch and breakfast plans too, if you’re interested) But sometimes I don’t want to use emeals. I’d rather cook something fun I found on Pinterest. Or I just want to have tacos every Tuesday. You can only have tacos on Tuesday if you remember to buy the taco shells. I could go on but you get the idea. Meal planning is a frequent source of frustration and I want to do better at it. If you’d like to try emeals our for yourself, I’ve got a referral link for you. If you decide to purchase a meal plan with this link, I’ll save a little money on my plan. Try emeals today.
  • Writing. Yes, that’s right, I’m a writer who struggles to write consistently. And you know what? I wrote a book on this! And I still don’t do it. Sheesh, get it together, Allie.
  • Financial tracking and planning. I almost don’t even want to talk about this one. Let’s just say, poor money practices lead to money poor. You know what I mean? Okay.
  • Time blocking. I just discovered this method a few months ago (thank you, Amy Landino!) and it has changed my life. Or at least, it would if I’d do it more consistently. I actually discovered how effective it is for me by doing it for a few weeks and then getting lazy and not doing it. Yeah. I’m totally getting back into that.

If you have any suggestions regarding any of my issues listed above, I’m open to hearing them. Please contact me or comment on this post.

What Could It Look Like For You?

Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What areas of your life could be improved by a small, consistent change? What action can you take today, and then tomorrow, and then every day for the foreseeable future, in order to make those changes? Talk to me. Post a comment or send me an email, or connect with me on the social networks. And don’t forget to subscribe to my email list if you enjoyed this post and would like to know when I publish new content.

Now . . . go! Transform your life with one small change today.

On Gratitude During the Holidays

I’m going to be honest here:

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest.

There’s tradition and joy and happiness and family and friends and wonderful food and scents and giving … and all the hustle and bustle and scheduling and madness that goes with it.

I usually take one of two approaches to the holidays: I either try to do everything and drive myself crazy, or I try to do as little as possible and feel like I’m missing out. I haven’t found a balance. I’m not sure there is one. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know. This year, I’m going to try something a little different:


I know, Thanksgiving is over. Christmas season is in full swing now. Every November I see a few people on Facebook do a Thanksgiving challenge where they post something they’re thankful for every day. I know it feels like I’m late to the party, like the Thanksgiving ship (or gravy boat?) has sailed, but stick with me here for a second. Why stop being thankful after Thanksgiving?

Christmas is a celebration of giving, and by the very nature of giving, it is also a celebration of receiving. I was taught to be thankful for my gifts. I was even taught to write thank you notes, although I have to admit, I never do. I do enjoy gifts, however, and I am thankful for them. My life is full of gifts, not just the ones that come wrapped with pretty paper and bows. My relationships with the people in my life are great gifts. And of course, there is no greater gift than the one we celebrate every Christmas: God’s gift of eternal life in Christ. I want to celebrate all those gifts by living in a spirit of gratitude this December.

I can already feel the busy spirit of Christmas creeping in on me. There are so many decisions to make. Which gifts to buy? Which events to attend? Which goodies to bake? I fill my life and my schedule full of good things, but when it’s too full, they start to feel like annoying obligations. I stop enjoying them for what they are, and start resenting them for what they represent to me: My failure, once again, to be that perfect Christmas sugar plum fairy, full of sweetness and spices and the spirit of Christmas. I put too much pressure on myself and if I’m not careful I can end up sounding more like Scrooge than Tiny Tim.

I don’t want to go through another holiday season feeling grumpy. Instead, I want to feel grateful. And I invite you to come along. In my 30 Day Challenge Facebook group, we’ll be posting about something we’re thankful for every day.

And God bless us, every one!”

Have you joined my Facebook group yet? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s great! If you’re not on Facebook, please feel free to leave comments here about what you are thankful for.

On Drinking Water

Water is essential to life.

We know this, but how many of us don’t drink enough of this essential substance every day? Do we even know how much we’re supposed to drink, or how often? Someone told me this week that you only have to drink when you’re thirsty. I’ve also heard that by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. I’ve heard eight glasses of water a day, I’ve heard twelve, and I’ve wondered what a glass is. I’ve heard to take your weight, divide it in half, and drink that number of ounces every day. Not too bad if you weigh 130 pounds, but a little more daunting if you weigh 230. I’ve heard the caution about drinking too much water, but I’m not really worried about that. Unless you have a serious health issue or you’re drinking your entire daily intake at once, your chances of “water poisoning” are pretty slim. I’d guess most of us should be much more concerned about not drinking enough water than about drinking too much.

I’m not a doctor or nutritionist or an expert on water intake. I haven’t done much research and I don’t claim to be an expert. I can tell you that I feel better when I’ve had plenty of water during the day and I don’t feel well at all if I don’t. When I don’t have enough water, I’m sluggish, my head hurts, my skin dries out, and my body and brain don’t respond well.

When I do drink enough, I’m more alert, my digestive system works better, I stay awake better during the day, I feel healthy and refreshed and energetic. I drink plenty of coffee too, but I actually find that water in the morning wakes me up even faster than coffee does, and there’s no such thing as a water crash. And as I mentioned in my post on losing weight, increasing my water intake helped me shed several unwanted pounds.

Drinking water has always been a struggle for me. I don’t mind the taste of water. I just forget to drink it. In the past few months, I have gotten better at it, so I have a few tips to share if you’re like me and don’t usually get enough:

  • Drink water when you wake up. I’ve made drinking water part of my morning routine. It’s one of the first things I do after I get out of bed. I pour a glass, usually about 10 ounces, and drink it all. Then I pour another glass and drink it while I make coffee and breakfast. That way, before I eat anything or even drink my coffee, I’ve already had at least 20 ounces of water. That’s a great start for the day.
  • Put fruit or veggies in your water. I drink my morning water with a wedge of lemon. I usually leave that lemon in my glass all day and refill it periodically. If that sounds weird or gross to you, don’t do it. I find that the lemon keeps the water from tasting stale if it sits for a few hours, and the water keeps the lemon from going bad. I’ve also put strawberries in my water, and I’ve seen restaurants that add cucumbers, cranberries, rhubarb, mint, etc. Be inventive. You never know what you might like until you try it. Personally, I think there is minimal nutritional value in infused water, but it tastes pretty cool. I know there are cute little infusers out there, and you can certainly get one of those if you want. Some people put a drop of essential oil in their water, but I’m not convinced of the benefits of ingesting essential oils, so I don’t do it.
  • Drink water before you eat. This is a really useful habit to get into, if you can remember to do it. Try drinking a whole glass of water before you eat even one bite of your meal or take a sip of whatever beverage you’re having with it. I find this helps me feel full faster and not eat as much, in addition to helping me remember to drink more water.
  • Drink only water with meals. I know, right? Boring! This can be hard if you’re like me and feel terrible ordering water at restaurants. I feel so cheap when I do it, but the fact is that soda, sweetened tea, and alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories in addition to costing a lot of money. Maybe skip the soda and order dessert instead. Or a side of fries. Eat your calories, don’t drink them.
  • Monitor your intake. Know how much your favorite glass or water bottle holds, and track what you drink. Write it on a notepad, make a note in your phone, or use an app. Know how much you’re drinking and how that measures up to your goal.
  • Drink with friends. Be accountable. This month in Allie’s 30 Day Challenge on Facebook, we’re drinking water. You don’t have to be in my Facebook group (but you should be!) in order to get a friend or two to join you. We all need water. Let’s drink it together.

What do you think? Let’s talk. Feel free to share any benefits of drinking water that I might have missed, as well as any tips you have for drinking enough of it every day.

On Losing Weight

“Wow, you look great! Are you losing weight? How are you doing it?”

I get this a lot lately. Since June, I’ve lost ten pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life, and obviously it shows enough that people take notice. They want to know my secret. So I thought hey, I have a blog about transformation. I am in the process of transforming my body. It fits. Might as well spill my secret here.

Spoiler alert: There is no secret.

I’m not on a diet, or a magic pill, or an MLM product or service. I am on a journey, which I’ve alluded to in previous posts, but I’ll sum it up for you here.

Four years ago, I was in a funk. I’d had a rough year, gained some weight, dealt with postpartum depression without professional help, and I wasn’t very healthy. I have a chronic disease and an auto-immune disorder, and I just felt bad. I had chronic back pain. Sometimes I would have bouts of digestive problems where it would hurt every time I ate for weeks. I was 34 years old. I didn’t want to keep feeling worse as I got older. I looked at people who were twenty or thirty years older than me who were having trouble with mobility and chronic pain. I didn’t want to be in that position in thirty years. I wanted to be able to move without pain. So I decided to make one change. I decided to exercise.

I had never been into exercise. I’d done a few videos over the years with varying results. I was never disciplined about it and I was pretty outspoken about hating it. I didn’t like being sore. I gave up when it got hard. I was a wimp. But I realized that in order to improve my mobility, I’d have to suck it up and move. I decided to do a one-month daily exercise challenge. It was simple but difficult, and I complained about aching muscles every day. By the end of the month I was starting to see changes in my body, so I decided to stick with it. I got bored and added a few exercises. I found some apps that stretched me further. One of my doctors suggested trying yoga for my back, so I did. At home, with an app. Months passed, and I stuck with it. I gained strength and flexibility. Eventually a friend talked me into taking yoga classes. My back stopped hurting. I had an easier time getting up stairs. I could get through longer and longer workouts, although rarely more than 10-20 minutes. I didn’t lose weight but I looked different. Clothes fit better. I didn’t hate my body. I started being thankful for the way it could support me through my life, and the way I looked in the mirror.

Over the years, I also made small changes in my diet. I saw a round of doctors for the stomach pain, hair loss, and other issues I was experiencing, and they all shrugged and said something was obviously going on, but they couldn’t pinpoint what. Looking back now, I think I just wasn’t healthy. My immune system, which has always been a bit wonky, was trying to respond to fake attacks of stress, sugar, bad diet, bad habits, and who knows what else. One doctor made an offhand suggestion that I try kefir for my stomach pain. I was desperate, and even though I’d tried kefir before and hated it, I tried the brand she suggested in the amount she told me, and a month later, I could eat without pain. A few months more, and my lifelong digestive issues were practically cured. I have never had to deal with that much pain again, and if it starts to pop up, I just drink a shot of kefir every day for a week or so and it goes away again. It’s been amazing.

I like to do research and experiment with different options. Once, just to see how it would go, I went without sugar for a month. I didn’t die, and it really cut my sugar habit by a lot. I added protein supplements and BCAAs to help me power through longer workouts, increase muscle recovery, and reduce soreness. I wanted healthier hair, so I finally agreed to try the Nordic Naturals fish oil my mom kept telling me to take. Small, incremental changes over time led to small, incremental results. I never lost weight, just hovered around the same 150 pounds or so. I’m short, so 150 is technically overweight, but it never bothered me. I just figured that was my adult weight, I’d stay there with my muffin top and my flabby arms forever, and it would be okay.

Then I saw Wonder Woman.

Oh my gosh you guys, that movie is so inspiring. I just love it. It might actually be my favorite movie. She is absolutely my hero. I thought, man, I really want arms like Wonder Woman. I realize I’m about half her height and her arms are probably a foot longer than mine, but I don’t know why, I just thought that level of muscle definition was what I really wanted in my life. I also figured it was impossible. But then a friend of mine, Michelle Mincic, got into a workout routine and started posting pics of her arms and I thought well, if she can do it, maybe I can. So finally, after three years of exercising just because it was a good thing to do and it made me feel good, I had a goal. I wanted those arms. I knew I’d have to work for them, and I decided to do it.

Once I increased my effort, I realized I would have to improve my nutrition. I increased my workout time and started a part time job, and I was struggling with having enough energy to get through the day. At about that time, Robin Coccomo, a Beach Body coach I randomly started following on Facebook, posted about the launch of the 2B Mindset. I decided to check it out. I got my kit and realized, with some embarrassment, that it’s basically a diet. I’ve always refused to go on a diet, except for when I had gestational diabetes and my doctor made me. I don’t believe in fad diets. I do believe in improving my food intake and nutrition, and that does require making changes in my diet, but I still don’t think of myself as being “on a diet.” I didn’t even care if I lost weight. I just wanted to learn how to eat and fuel my body better. I am not the poster child for the 2B Mindset. I read the guide and I follow about half the rules. I don’t track my food. I still haven’t watched all the videos. I still don’t drink enough water or eat enough vegetables. But I drink significantly more water and I eat significantly more vegetables, and I eat less simple carbs and more fiber filled carbs. I eat real food instead of cereal in the morning, to get me through to lunch. I avoid unhealthy snacking. Most of the time, I limit carbs at dinner. The results? Ridiculous. Unexpected. As soon as I changed my diet and started drinking water and weighing myself every day, I started dropping weight. Slowly, but consistently. I also noticed that the more I eat high quality, nutritious food, the more I want to eat it. I’m just as likely to crave vegetables as chips or chocolate.

One more thing: I added cardio. This was painful. I hate cardio so much. I have to get out of the house to do it, and I really don’t like exercising out of my house. I either have to run outside, which I hate, or do cardio machines at the gym, which I also hate. And it hurts. It’s mentally challenging. But I knew I needed to, to increase fat burn and have more visible muscle definition. Because Wonder Woman. So I joined Planet Fitness. When my husband said he was going to start running to train for a 5K, I decided that I would too. That was the final piece. After building a foundation of health for years, changing my diet and adding steady state cardio meant dramatic results. I lost ten pounds in four months. I went from a size 8 at the beginning of the year to a size 4. I had to buy new clothes. And people notice. Frequently. “Dang, girl! You look great!” is something I hear really often now. It’s a little weird, and a little uncomfortable, but I kind of love it. Not because I want to flaunt this fit mama bod I’m rocking these days, but because it proves to me that hard work, commitment, and the ability to make uncomfortable changes really does yield results. In this difficult year of challenges and changes in my life and business goals, it’s good to look in the mirror and see success.

Enough backstory. This is what I’ve been doing to lose weight:

  • I exercise regularly. I try to get in at least 2-3 hours a week. Sometimes I only have time for a 10 minute home workout, sometimes I spend an hour and a half at the gym. I just do whatever works.
  • I drink two glasses of water in the morning when I get up and I try to remember to drink a glass before meals, and sip water throughout the day. My goal is to drink 64-70 ounces a day. I probably hit 40-50 most days. I drink a couple cups of coffee a day and I rarely have soda.
  • I eat some protein and carbs for breakfast; an apple or other high-nutrient snack before lunch; veggies, protein, and carbs at lunch; veggies and protein for dinner. I don’t starve myself or deprive myself of things I like. I eat pizza (sometimes for dinner!), chips, fries, donuts, cookies, candy, and cupcakes. I just eat less of them, less often than I used to. I try to be intentional about loading my diet with fuel food rather than useless calories. I also try to avoid fast food, because I’ve noticed that my body doesn’t seem to recognize it as food for some reason. So unless I really want those empty calories, I just skip them.
  • I supplement with a multivitamin, fish oil, and occasionally protein shakes and BCAAS (I like IdealFit. Here’s a referral link: https://www.idealfit.com/referrals.list?applyCode=ALLISON-RFK)

That’s it. No secret. I just found what works for me, and adjust if it stops working. I really believe that’s the key to weight loss, but more importantly, to good health. Learn your body. Pay attention to what makes it work well and what slows it down. Be willing to make uncomfortable choices and stick with them until you know whether they work or not. I know running works for me, but I don’t like it, so I’m not going to maintain a schedule where I run three times a week. That’s okay. Do what you like, and only do what you don’t if you know there’s a good reason for it. Sometimes that thing you don’t like may become the thing that changes your life, and you might just learn to love it someday.

Transform your mind, transform your body, transform your life.

What about you? What are your fitness favorites? What are your challenges? Let’s have a conversation.

On Monthly Challenges

Try something new.
Make a change.
Be accountable.
I dare you.

Raise your hand if doing new things isn’t your thing. Now smile awkwardly at someone who just saw you raise your hand. Good work. I raised my hand, by the way. I’m at home by myself though, so I didn’t smile at anyone.

I probably should say doing new things wasn’t my thing. I like comfort and routine and I really don’t like change. I do like small, incremental changes like a new hair color or cupcake flavor, but those things are well within my comfort zone. Stepping out of that zone scares me. Uncertainty, pain, loss, and failure live out there, and I fear those things. Always have. I prefer safety, security, and the confident knowledge that comes with doing things I know I’m good at, with people I know and like.

In the last fifteen years or so, I’ve learned some important lessons about my comfort zone. Sure, it feels good to stay safely inside, but when I step out of it and face what I fear, I also find some pretty amazing things that don’t live inside of it. Growth, adventure, and even success all happen outside of my comfort zone. By forcing myself to stretch and try new things, I’ve discovered things I love, new friendships, and new experiences that I would have missed out on if I’d stayed in my safe little cocoon. When I decided to start breaking out of it, I found my wings. Now, doing new things is totally my thing. So much so that now if I catch myself saying “Oh I don’t do that,” about something that’s perfectly acceptable to do, I feel an almost compulsive need to go ahead and do it. I’m sure this drives some people in my life crazy. I’m loving it, and also still kind of hating it at the same time, if I’m being totally honest. But I will say it has changed my life.

And now, I’d like to invite you to join me for the ride.

Okay actually in September I’d like you to join me for the run.

Monthly challenges happened completely by accident. A few years ago, a friend posted an invite to a Facebook group that was doing a 30-day squats, pushups, and leg lifts challenge. I’d been gaining weight pretty steadily and thinking I needed to get more active, so I decided to try it. Secretly. I didn’t even join the group. I checked it out, stole the image, saved it on my phone, and got started without telling anyone. I didn’t even join the group. The fact was, I could barely do squats, I had no idea what leg lifts even were, and I absolutely could not do a pushup. So if I failed horribly, I didn’t want anyone to know. Funny thing was, I didn’t fail. I did remember why I hated exercise. It hurts when you start. If you push your muscles beyond what they’re used to doing, they will protest. Loudly. For days. I wanted to quit, but I wanted to get in better shape, and getting in better shape won, so I didn’t quit. After just a week I started to see a difference. My arms started looking different. I felt different, tired but better, stronger. Two weeks in I actually peaked in the challenge. Almost every day, I was doing 50 squats and leg lifts, and 20 kneeling pushups, and I thought that was a lot so I finished out the 30 days just doing that. I figured no one knew I was doing it anyway, so I could just keep going at that pace for while. I did start letting a couple friends in on the secret of what I was doing, and they encouraged me to keep at it. I started getting bored doing the same thing all the time, so I added some moves. I switched to a classic 7-minute workout for awhile. I started looking into ways to get more out of my workouts, fuel my body better, and keep pushing myself to see how much more I could do. In just a few years I went from a moderately unhealthy person who hated exercise to loving exercise, sometimes being called “one of those fitness people,” and wanting to help people find their own fitness journey. It all started with one decision to try one challenge, on my own in the dark.

This year I’ve been stretching myself outside of my comfort zone again. I’ve written on doing what you can’t and doing what you don’t want to, and I’ve challenged myself to say yes to things I usually say no to. I did planks for a month. I joined a “gym.” Planet Fitness, but it’s close enough and it’s something I swore I’d ever do. Baby steps. And now, tomorrow, I’m going to attempt to run a 5K. Let me be absolutely clear: I HATE running. I’ve always said people who run are crazy (still true) and that no one would ever see me run, unless a bear was chasing me. Even at that, I might have suggested that death by bear mauling might be preferable to running. My husband has run a few 5Ks and he has actually been training (extra points to him!) for this one tomorrow. So last week I said, “Hey, I’ll do that with you.” Then I immediately went to Planet Fitness and got on the treadmill to see if I can even run. I can, but not far or for long, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. The next one is in early October, so I’m actually going to train for that one, three days a week. Me. Running. Like a crazy person.

What does all this have to do with monthly challenges? I’m glad you asked. In March, I decided to try planks every day and I asked people to join me. (See how that went here) A couple months later, I went back and did the 30-day challenge I started with, and this time I actually finished it. 100 squats, 100 leg lifts, 40 full pushups, like a boss. I found out it’s fun to do these challenges with other people, moaning and groaning together on the hard days and celebrating successes. While I was working on refreshing this website, I decided to make the challenges a monthly thing. They won’t always be exercise challenges, but they will be designed to stretch our comfort zones. If you like a challenge, come on. Let’s do this.

So… dear reader, I’d love for you to join me September’s 5K Challenge. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never run before, if you do a few minutes of cardio a few times a week, or if you run five miles a day*. For the month of September, let’s run together. I’m giving you three levels to choose from:

Level One (beginner): Pick a Couch to 5K program. There are some great apps out there that tell you exactly what to do. Start at week one and complete four weeks.

Level Two (me): Start at week five of Couch to 5K and complete four weeks.

Level Three (runners): Run 5 kilometers or more three times a week.

Bonus: Run a 5K in October

Join my Facebook Group and check in every time you complete a day of training. I’m prize motivated, so I offer drawings if enough people get through the challenge. I won’t promise it’ll be fun, but it might be. You might surprise yourself and start something you never thought you’d do.

Try something new.
Make a change.
Be accountable.
I dare you.

Comment with any questions! I moderate the Facebook group so if you aren’t one of my friends, please answer the questions and I’ll let you in. Thanks!

*As always when beginning any fitness program, be wise. Don’t injure yourself. Consult a physician if you’re not sure whether or not this kind of exercise is appropriate for you.


On Growing in the Dark

Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Have you ever been in a season where it feels like everything is painful or at least uncomfortable, where you’re filled with doubt and you wish you could see some light on your path ahead to show you that the future holds some hope? I’ve had a rough few months personally, nothing big or dramatic. But I’m working on growing some new things in my life, new habits and new ways of thinking and a new business, and let me tell you, it is an uncomfortable process. I was sitting in church this week and the sermon inspired a thought in me, a question I’d like to ask you.

How does growth happen?

The Bible is not a botany textbook, but in John 12:24 Jesus, the author and creator of all life, makes a statement about growth. It goes something like this: Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it does nothing. It remains dormant. But… if it dies… it produces fruit. He was speaking about himself, and his upcoming crucifixion, but he also applied it to anyone who follows him. I’d like to go ahead and apply it here to everyone.

Do you remember doing experiments in elementary school to observe the growth of plants? I do, and I must have thought it was pretty fascinating, because the image has stuck with me for years. You take a brown dried out seed, put it in some dirt, water it, and wait. Keep watering, keep waiting. In a few weeks, a little baby green plant slowly begins to emerge from the dirt, sometimes with the remnants of the original seed still clinging to it. It’s like magic, or a miracle. But what is happening in those weeks in the dirt?

The seed, already dormant, dies. It shrivels, wrinkles, softens a little, and finally breaks apart. The new seedling then reaches slowly for the air and light, growing incrementally toward the surface while also sending slender roots deeper into the dirt. It finally breaks the crust of the earth, spreads its first fragile leaves, struggles to hold them upright on a tiny slip of a stem, and begins the process of photosynthesis, growing stronger and greener in the light and the rain, until it eventually becomes a strong plant, vine, or tree, capable of producing seeds that can one day become hundreds more plants, vines, or trees.

It all starts with darkness. Death. Shattering pain. A wound that may never fully heal. Doubt. Losing hope. Reaching, trying, failing, wondering if anything will ever feel right again. Then, just when all seems loss, when everything seems the hardest, when everything within you and around you screams it’s not worth it, it’s time to give up…


Light, growth, and abundance.


The growth that everyone around you sees comes only after the pain that you endure alone. If you are blessed with positive people and healthy relationships there may be people around you, encouraging you, watering and feeding your dream, but that initial shriveling and dying and breaking apart is a quiet secret that happens in the death of your soul where only God sees. He will let you break because he knows what is coming from it. But he will never abandon you. He is always there. When your faith is too weak to see him, he is strong enough to keep you from falling apart. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. He knows your pain. He’s acquainted with death and darkness. He overcame it, and we can too. That is a promise.


On Doing What You Can’t

There is a commercial that aired during the Olympics that keeps sticking in my mind. You know a commercial has a powerful message when you keep thinking of it months later. This one was a Samsung commercial but like many commercials that run during sports broadcasts recently, it only subtly featured products, instead promoting an inspirational idea. This particular commercial focused on the word “can’t” and showed a variety people failing at what they’re trying to do, only to find inspiration to try again and succeed. The tag line of the spot is “Do What You Can’t” and it embodies the spirit of the Olympics, which I love. Run faster, jump higher, be stronger, do more and be more than what anyone thought was possible before. Even you.

What is it about the human spirit that strives for the impossible? To look failure in the face and say “I can’t do it… but I will anyway”? I believe it is a hint that we were made for more than what we are right now. We are not gods, shouting to the universe and commanding it to obey, but we are created in the image of God, who spoke the universe into existence. His power at work in us makes the impossible seem achievable.

But what about when tasks are too difficult? When obstacles are insurmountable? When weakness, or illness, or failure cannot be overcome? We are all human. If you live long enough you will come against something that knocks you down so hard and so repeatedly that you are too defeated to go on. What then?

This may sound crazy, but I suggest that you do something you can’t. Learn a new skill. Find a new opportunity. Make the most of what is available to you and stretch beyond your belief about what is possible. Then come back to the impossible thing, the broken heart, the difficult relationship, the frustrating job, the dismal future. You may find that what once seemed impossible now whispers “It can be done. You can do it.”

This year, I’ve set out on a journey to create a career and a future for myself that requires hard work, dedication, and learning new things. When it comes to working for myself, I have some bad history to overcome. My past is littered with failed endeavors, unfinished business, and great ideas that never came to fruition. But this time is different. I am older, wiser, I know more about the world and myself, and I am determined to make this work. More on what “this” is later but I’ll give you a hint: It has to do with writing.

The easiest path is the straightest and smoothest, but the difficult, rocky paths often reward us with the best views. It is easy to simply give up, to say “I’ll never be better than what I am now” or “I’m stuck in this job/house/relationship forever, it will never get better” or any of the other lies we convince ourselves to believe. What if, instead, you change your mind about what is possible? What would you do if you could not fail, if you had no limits? What if you went ahead and reached for that? I’m not promising miracles. You might fail. We are taught to fear failure as though it is our enemy, but it isn’t. Failure shows us how not to do something. It shows us where we didn’t work hard enough. It shows us that perhaps we should expend our efforts elsewhere. We learn from failure until we succeed. It’s just a step in the process.

There are some things in life that truly are impossible. I learned at an early age that I could not fly or become a shape-shifter, no matter how badly I wanted it. But I could write about flying and shape-shifting, and take others along for the ride. Sometimes when you want the impossible, you can still look it in the face and find your dreams. Sometimes we come up against the impossible so that we will turn to God, for whom nothing is impossible. The human spirit is powerful but God’s Spirit is all-powerful. Impossible doesn’t have to mean the end. It can be the beginning of more than you ever imagined. So go on. Do what you can’t. I dare you.