Find Freedom with Fertility Awareness

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This month marks my 13th month off birth control after 13 years of consistently being on some form of contraceptive. If you are in a position where you absolutely cannot get pregnant know that there are alternatives to hormonal birth control. And they are just as effective. And arguably better for your health.

The more women I talk to the more I realize that we've been led to believe our reproductive functioning only matters if we’re trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant. As women, we really don’t understand how our bodies work in regards to hormonal health and how our cycles can actually paint a pretty clear picture of our overall health regardless of whether we plan to conceive or not.
I mean if you just think about it, every month from the time we hit puberty all the way to menopause, our bodies are deciding if we are healthy enough to make a baby. Looking back, I find it fascinating and ironic that for something so routinely in my life I was able to brush it off as unimportant. For my entire young adult life I wanted nothing to do with hormones or reproduction or periods. Which is why I went through all the hoops to get on the pill, then the nuva ring and finally the IUD. I wonder how many hours I spent in the doctors office and how much money I’ve spent over the years. Yet, I was completely body illiterate, living in fear some months, and pumping my body full of hormones that had negative emotional and physical effects.
It’s been a paradigm shift to learn about the sympto thermo fertility awareness method. I wish all women had the resources to know the advantages there are to being in the know and in tune with your body in this way. The sympto thermo fertility awareness method is free, 99.4% effective and can get to the root cause of health issues versus slapping a bandaid on it and hoping it magically gets better.
Mostly I wanted to share that healthy, regular cycles are vital to our overall well being. And I challenge you to question the status quo:
Why are you on birth control? 
Do you trust that your doctor has YOUR best interest in mind when it comes to your health? 
#wellnessbylittle #healthyliving#stewardyourbodywell

The Collagen Craze: Explore the Health Benefits!

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With the rise in popularity of collagen over the last few years, a lot of clients have been asking how it works, what the difference is between protein powder and collagen supplementation and what brand to buy. So let’s explore the health benefits of collagen!

What is collagen?
In the body, collagen is a protein found in our hair, nails, bones and in our connective tissues such as the skin, tendons and ligaments. Collagen essentially acts as a building block to renew bodily tissues, promote healthy aging and improve joint and bone health. Numerous studies have shown that supplementing collagen has many internal and external health benefits.
Similar to humans collagen is found in the bone, cartilage and hide of cows as well as in fish skin and bones. Vital Proteins, a reputable collagen producer, collects their collagen from the hides of grass-fed, pasture raised cows living off the land in Brazil. “The hides are first cleaned and soaked in hot water to remove the fat. They are then soaked in an alkaline or acid solution to facilitate the release of collagen.” Ok… moving right along from that fun fact ; )

What’s the difference between collagen peptides and protein powder supplementation?
Because collagen is technically a protein it makes sense why there is confusion here. When we’re talking about protein breakdown in the body it’s important to understand the difference between complete and incomplete proteins. There are twenty different amino acids that can form a protein. Our body naturally produces eleven of these amino acids on it’s own. We call these non essential amino acids. The other nine are essential amino acids because the body cannot produce them on it’s own. We must get them from a food source since our we don’t make them ourselves. A protein is considered a complete protein when it contains all nine essential amino acids. We can get these from foods such as whey, eggs, hemp or soy but collagen is not a complete protein.

Most protein powders contain all nine essential amino acids and this is what helps your body build muscle and repair tissue. Collagen on the other hand targets ligaments, tendons, hair, skin and nails. Both are good, they just serve different purposes. So if you’ve been mixing collagen into your coffee, smoothies or baked goods that’s great but it’s not going to help you build and repair muscle like protein powder will.

Also, it’s completely safe to mix your collagen powder with protein powder but of course always consult with your doctor before starting any new supplementation.

What brand do you recommend?
Vital Proteins collagen peptides is a brand I trust, support and use on a daily basis. Click here to buy! I’ve been using their collagen for about a year now and I notice a difference in my skin, specifically hydration and firmness, increased hair and nail growth and less joint pain in my knees after activities like skiing, hiking or high impact strength training. Which is so awesome because knee arthritis runs in my family generations deep so anything I can do now to help prevent a knee replacement in the future is worth the investment!

Happy collagen-ing and let me know if you have any questions!

What Everyone Should Know About Consuming Fat

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Fat is an essential part of our body and consuming enough healthy fats is vital to our cellular and hormonal health. However, decades of misinformation about the healthfulness of fats has made folks steer clear of nourishing fat-rich foods. The truth is eating fat doesn't make us fat. 

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Every cell in the human body requires cholesterol for structural integrity and healthy functioning. When we deprive the body of healthy fats it can lead to poor absorption of nutrients and feeling chronically low on energy.

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WHAT KIND OF FATS SHOULD I BE CONSUMING?
Full fat milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream is the way to go. The deal is, when we buy fat free or low fat options it’s typically replaced with sugar to compensate for flavor. No fat means no flavor so you’ll generally find more sugar in foods with the fat removed. And when it comes to dairy, buying organic whenever possible is best.

Here are some other examples of foods high in healthy fats:
- Avocados
The avocado is different from other fruits. Most fruit contains primarily carbohydrates. Avocados are loaded with “the good kind of fat.” The oleic acid, potassium and fiber make avo’s an excellent source of fat.
- Fish
This includes fish like salmon, trout, cod, tuna, mackerel and if you can stand it sardines. These are all loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high quality proteins and all sorts of important nutrients. Research shows that people who eat fish tend to be healthier, with a lower risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and other common diseases. If you’re not into fish for whatever reason then taking a fish oil supplement can be useful.
- Cheese
Best news for cheese lovers! Cheese (in moderation) is actually incredibly nutritious. It is a great source of vitamins, minerals, quality proteins and healthy fats. I find that adding cheese into salads or in an egg scramble is a great way to boost fat intake or if we’re having friends over going big with the whole cheese board is an easy win ;)
- Nuts
Nuts are high in healthy fats and fiber, and are a good plant-based source of protein. Healthy nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts and so many more!
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are generally not perceived as a "fatty" food. However, about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds actually contains 9 grams of fat and the majority of the fats in chia seeds consists of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Organic virgin olive oil

Out of all the healthy fats and oils in the diet, extra virgin olive oil is the king. Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fats (the healthy fat) and has positive effects on cardiovascular health. In addition to good quality fat, it also contains vitamins E & K and is loaded with antioxidants.
- REAL grass fed organic butter or ghee
Despite having been demonized in the past, real grass-fed butter is one of the healthiest fats we can cook with on the daily. That yellow brick of fat sitting on the counter is packed with omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, vitamins A, D and K and CLA’s (conjugated linoleic acid). Studies have shown that a diet high in conjugated linoleic acids actually functions to fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

WHAT KIND OF FATS SHOULD I BE AVOIDING?
Trans fats. The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils." Trans fats can be found in foods like baked goods, frozen pizza, crackers, stick margarines, fried foods and vegetable oils. The problem with trans fats is that it raises the bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lowers the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. When possible, avoiding foods high in trans fats is best. Doing so will decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

6 Ways I'm Preparing my Mind, Body & Heart for Children Someday

 Photo cred: Stephen Matera 

Photo cred: Stephen Matera 

A while back I shared a bit about my journey through learning and starting to use the sympto thermo fertility awareness method. I decided to be done with birth control about 8 months ago, after 13 years of really going on auto pilot with all things reproductive health ...because who has time to think about that stuff anyway? Especially when you can pop a pill everyday or better yet have a quick and easy medical procedure performed and you don't have to think about it for years.
For me, this has been one of the most empowering lifestyle decisions I've ever made. Doctors are experts in populations but I am becoming the expert of my own body and have the data to back it up. Whether you may be interested in using this method to try and get pregnant or to avoid pregnancy or it's just interesting to you, you should know that it is 99.6% effective and today I can say with confidence and general amazement that this method actually works! 
This is a bit personal but the husband has approved my sharing and we think it could be helpful to folks in a similar spot as us. Currently we are actively avoiding pregnancy using the sympto FAM but we do want children in the future. So I wanted to share 6 disciplines I'm practicing now to help prepare my mind, body and heart for the day we do decide to start trying:  

1.) Start Prenatal Vitamins Early
I've been switching back and fourth between the Smartypants and 365 Everyday Value. Starting prenatal vitamins early can help reduce neural tube defects by 50-70% according to the CDC. These conditions can start to develop within the first month of pregnancy so getting more folic acid and iron early on will give the baby a better chance of developing a healthy brain and spinal cord. 

2.) Regular Exercise
I honestly don't know any better motivation to get healthy than growing a human inside of you. I try to get in 2-3 strength training days/week and 2-3 cardio sessions/week (and yes, walking to ice cream totally counts!)  

3.) Consistent Eating Schedule
My days never look the same and it's not uncommon for me to skip a meal or eat late. Meal prepping has been really helpful so that I have something easy to grab and go on those busy days. I like to make hard boil eggs for a quick breakfast, pack bars for a snack, prepare a variety of different salads for lunches and then we generally cook at home for dinner. Oh and we love munching on Tony's sea salt caramel chocolate after dinner. 

4.) Mental Toughness
When I'm in a workout class I tell myself giving birth will be a lot harder than this. If I think I can bear that kind of pain than surely I can do one more push up. A client also shared with me some wisdom on the body's response to physical pain in labor and described it as "imagine dunking your arms in ice buckets but calmly breathing through the discomfort. If you can experience contractions while not clenching the muscles in your body and holding your breath, that will help." When I go see my favorite waxing lady Deborah at Waxing The City in Ballard, I practice this very method of not reacting to the discomfort. I'm happy to report she says I've been waaaay less of a wuss lately but I will be excited to see if and how this concept translates for me!

5.) Praying for our Future Children
It feels like such an incredible privilege to be able to pray over our future children. I pray for a healthy delivery and baby. I pray over who they will become as adults. I ask God to give them a unique light in this world and use them for as much good as possible in their lifetime. 

6.) Reducing Alcohol Consumption
Man I do like to party but I'm learning I can still party with my kombucha mocktails and rosé errrday in moderation. 

And even though I can be doing all these things now to prepare for a healthy pregnancy, I also recognize that I am not in control of the outcome. It's just the reality we live in. I believe that God is working all things out for His glory and our greater good. Maybe we will have infertility issues, maybe our future baby will have a major health issue - regardless I think there is wisdom in preparing our hearts, our bodies and our minds the best we know how and trusting that the Lord will meet our needs along the way.  

I love this stuff and if any moms have anything they want to share I'd LOVE to hear!

Cheers and for now we'll just be practicing over here! *que "mine" by Bazzi*

Living With a Grateful Heart

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Rejoice always, never stop praying and give thanks in all circumstances. 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A grateful heart is a beautiful thing but giving thanks in all circumstances can be easier said than done. We all face hard times in our lives. This verse is not suggesting that we sweep our emotions and struggles under the carpet, lift our chin up and pretend to be happy. There’s a difference between confiding and complaining. Confiding to those we trust can breathe life into difficult circumstances. Complaining just to complain sucks the life right out of us. 
From my experience, the more we complain the more that becomes our default behavior and over time it gets easier to find the negative than it does the positive. There are tons of studies that show complaining can actually rewire our brains for negativity too, despite how good it may feel. 
I’ve been the most ungrateful when I think I deserve better (entitlement), when I think I’m too good for something (pride) or when I don’t want to do something (selfishness). I also catch myself complaining as way of relating in order to connect with someone. 
Coincidentally, my most bored, unsettled and lonely times have been when I get caught up in thinking the world revolves around me. I’ve heard it called “me-ism” and that type of thinking never satisfies in the way we think it will. 
I want to be better about pausing before I make a complaint and instead exercise gratitude in those moments. 
The good news is if we want to cultivate strong, healthy relationships and an overall healthier mindset, it is a perspective shift that can be learned and a discipline that can be put into practice every single day. 
Even in the difficult circumstances.
Even with busy schedules. 
Even with daily inconveniences. 
Even when our hearts don’t feel like being grateful. 
Sometimes the simplest things require the most amount of discipline. 
#wellnessbylittle #ichoosegratitude

Sympto-thermo Fertility Awareness Method

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I wish I would have known years ago that there is a natural birth control method out there that is 99.6% effective. Like many women I’ve talked with, I first learned about women’s reproductive health in middle school, which looking back was a very fear based education. One of the prominent things I remember learning from sex-ed was that if you have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was unaware of how scientifically inaccurate that claim actually is. 
I recently posted about going off birth control after 13 years. Thankfully, during that transition I was able to enroll in a 5 week course with Grace @fearlessfertilitythat educated me on exactly how to use and interpret the sympto-thermo fertility awareness method (FAM). The four basic principles are: 
1.) taking your temperature every morning
2.) checking your cervical fluid
3.) checking your cervix
4.) charting this information
The sympto-thermo FAM is simply observing your body’s natural fertility signs. It’s not the same as natural family planning, the rhythm method or simply knowing your body well enough to tell when you’re fertile. This method has been an empowering lifestyle choice and I wish more people knew about it. While doctors are experts in populations (and often eager to prescribe) we can be the expert of our own body. Women are not all made the same. I am able to make informed health care decisions because I know what normal looks like for me and have the data to back it up. 
A couple BIG shout outs go to @buggycastro for introducing me to sympto-thermo FAM and Toni Weschler’s book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.” If you’re curious to learn more this is definitely where to start! 
Secondly, Grace owner & educater @fearlessfertility has been an incredible wealth of knowledge and a valuable player in building my confidence for choosing this method as a lifestyle. I won’t say it’s easier than other methods but it’s much more rewarding, healthy and empowering. Often times I’ve found the less convenient, harder road in life can end up being more fulfilling in the end and that is definitely true for me here. 
#wellnessbylittle #stewardyourbodywell#FAM

Health and Purpose

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I know that not everyone has the privilege to consider their nutrition, exercise, sleep, work and play habits when it comes to quality of life. There is cancer and disease and extremists groups and refugees fighting for their lives, we’re in huge amounts of debt and work long weeks putting in extra hours just to afford health insurance.

But for most of us these exceptions don’t apply. Most of us have the capacity to take care of our health and well being. I personally don’t believe perfect health or perfect abs is the end goal but I am becoming more and more convinced that such lifestyle commitments will make us more effective in everything we do in our lives as business owners, accountants, health care professionals, musicians, teachers, spouses, parents, students, friends and neighbors. 

The bodies we’re given are mysterious wonders and it’s our job and privilege to take care of them because they are a visible expression of who we are. 

5 Ways to Eat Your Way to a Better Immune System

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I’ve been fending off the sickness over this past holiday. Sickness got you down too? 

Here are 5 ways to eat your way to a healthier immune system:

1.) Garlic
Garlic fights viruses, bacteria and fungus to help aid in healing the immune system. To get the most from fresh garlic, chop into halves or quarters and cook in olive oil or butter and a dash of salt. If you’re in a hurry or feeling brave, eat it all by itself or you can mix it in with a pasta sauce or salad dressing.

2.) Tea
Many teas are packed with lots of good stuff for fighting colds and boosting the immune system. Green teas, echinacea tea, honey & lemon (sure, throw a shot of whiskey in there! 🍋🍯🥃) and @tradmedicinals Throat Coat are all great options.

3.) Citrus
Citrus is packed with vitamin C which is known for stimulating the production of white blood cells that helps keep your body’s natural defense system in tip top shape. I’m convinced you can put lemon on almost anything 😣 
4.) Mushrooms
I’ve been learning about mushrooms a lot these days and current studies show that mushrooms are straight up magical for our bodies. Mushrooms support our natural immunity and provide nutrients to support every body system from brain to nerves to energy to skin cells.

My favorite mushrooms right now are maitake, shiitake and king oysters. I’ve been picking up the chefs samplers pack from @ballardmarket and cooking with olive oil, creole seasoning and light butter at the very end but another option is toasted sesame oil with soy sauce! 
If you don’t like eating mushrooms there’s this awesome guy @paulstamets doing amazing research in mycology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has amazing mushrooms capsules and products. Check out his stuff! 
5.) Water. Lots of water. Nuff said. 

New Beginnings

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Goodbye 2017 & Hello 2018!

As we all know, there tends to be lots of energy around well intentioned new beginnings. The New Year is a chance to hit the reset button. To start over with a clean slate. To actually have resolve in the New Year and its a good and healthy desire for God to do something in and through us in a way that produces real transformation and change. 

In 2017 one of the things Nathan and I wanted to work on is saying “no” more often. Saying “no” to certain things has been hard and really inconvenient for me personally but my “no’s” have also lent itself to greater things. 

One of those things for me was getting off birth control. I’ve been on different forms of birth control for over 13 years so making the decision to officially be done with hormones was a really scary step with a lot of unknowns. God has blessed me in many unexpected ways since being off birth control. Definitely more to come on this in a future post!

So rhetorical question (unless your brave...): what are you telling yourself “yes” or “no” to more in the new year and why? How does your answer reflect who you are? 
Cheers to whatever you resolve to do in 2018

😊 📷: @_kaylagrey 

3 Essentials For Looking Like a Pro While On-The-Go

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I discovered toner for the first time back in January. For a girl who sweats a little here and there (or a lot) and usually does some type of movement everyday this toner is the bomb. Herbivore Rose Hibiscus toner is organic, plant based and free of fillers and preservatives. In the winter it helps add a little moisture back into the skin while reducing inflammation and redness. 
PLUS Herbivore is a local Seattle company and can now be found in all Sephora stores nation wide! Check em out! 

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Bumble and bumble salt spray is amazing! I don't wash my hair daily and I have naturally oily hair which can make for a very, very sad hair do. Salt spray helps give my hair texture and volume throughout the day and after day two of wearing (along with some dry shampoo) it just gets better. 

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I live on a boat so there are many reasons why I don't want to take a shower every day. If I had to wash my hair every night that'd be an ordeal. I've tried many dry shampoos over the last couple years and in general it's been a game changer for me. This is definitely a middle of the road dry shampoo. $8.99 at Walgreens to be exact and it's good stuff. If you're like me and not wanting to spend $30 on a bottle of dry shampoo smaller than this because you'll go through it so quickly then give this product a try. Bonus: smells like a warm, sunny Hawaii beach with palm trees blowing in the wind! 

Eat & Celebrate Well This Holiday Season

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Thanksgiving and Christmas season bring the years greatest temptations to abandon or procrastinate on our healthy eating convictions. I can't help but think of Louis CK's standup on eating habits. He said "the meal isn't over when I'm full, it's over when I feel like crap." Ah Louis CK, he's so honest. I think we all know the feeling but can agree that overeating never actually feels good afterwards. 

Here are 5 tips to help you celebrate and eat well this holiday season:

1.) Focus on what you can eat versus what you can't
When we create that mental checklist of all the things we can't eat it's really easy to get discouraged. Wholesome, nutritious food is a gift from God. He wants us to have a healthy relationship with food. Focus on eating foods that you know leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. 

2.) Have realistic expectations
Study after study shows that simple, sustainable changes end up being the most productive. Don't overcomplicate things. It's easy to get overwhelmed and give up completely. Make one small change at a time and add other adjustments once you've maintained the first modification. 

3.) Commit to a strategy now
I will say with great confidence that it is easier to avoid holiday weight gain altogether than to try and lose pounds after the fact. Whether you want to lose weight, maintain muscle mass, get stronger or fend off a cold, flu or any other sickness make a plan and begin implementing it now, before temptation arrives. 

4.) Eat Clean
Real food is a big topic these days and for good reason.

Avoid:

  • Processed and packaged foods (boxed stuffing, cereal, chips)
  • Refined starches (white bread, white pasta, white rice)
  • Added sugar (sadly most packaged foods have added sugar)

Eat:

  •  Whole fruits and vegetables 
  • Good quality meats, eggs and dairy

    5.) Navigate your sweet tooth
    Sugar is addicting. Indulging in sweets around the holidays is widely accepted, practiced and maybe even encouraged in some homes. I'll admit that indulging a little and then stopping is hard to do especially with so many sweet (pun intended) options to pick from. My recommendation would be to consider avoiding sweets altogether and loading up on all the other nutritious foods instead but of course if you must have something sweet enjoy a carefully chosen dessert. 

    The holidays are a joy-filled and a God-given occasion to feast and celebrate. So go ahead and celebrate but without compromising your health.   

We Believe That When A Person Aligns Their Behaviors With Their Deeper Values True Lasting Change Occurs

OUR BELIEFS

A healthy mind and body are essential to living a full and purposeful life. Wellness By Little provides qualified knowledge, personalized fitness plans, and engaging training experiences that will motivate you to stay on top of your health so you don't ever lose it. There are 7 principles that guide our method for developing fitness and nutrition plans specifically for your needs. You can read about them and our beliefs in this article.

OUR APPROACH

Intentional Listening. Your health needs are unique. Whether you're recovering from injury, trying to lose weight, or planning for a triathlon, we take the time to hear your needs, ask qualifying questions, and build a comprehensive understanding of your story.

Customized Planning. We are certified and educated in numerous fitness and nutritional methods that will be catered to develop a unique plan to achieve your specific health goals, ensuring that it is timely and attainable so that you're being set up for success.

Thoughtful Implementation.  This is the part where we take action and do the hard work. Your custom plan will be consistent, thorough, and focused. Every session starts on time and in an environment where you feel safe and comfortable. We work alongside you to demonstrate techniques, ensure excellent form, and challenge you to push to your full potential.  

Devoted Coaching. During our sessions together we'll be discussing underlying motivators, methods for accountability, and working through any barriers that may be hindering progress. We want to foster a relationship built on trust, where we can go beyond the exercise and develop lifelong healthy habits together. 

Engaged Community. Your achievements are our joy! We want to celebrate your successes, as we take this journey together. While your coaching is a personal one-on-one relationship, we've developed a community that is excited to hear your story and wants to encourage one another to stay active and motivated. 

Bouncing Back From Your Winter Season: 5 Ways To Get Active This Spring

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Article written by Paige Johnson with Learnfit.org

The winter season can often be difficult on us - both emotionally and physically. Some individuals face seasonal depression. Others harbor intense anxiety associated with being trapped inside. Even if we don’t suffer from a mental disorder, we spend less time exercising and more time eating to maintain our core body temperature. Sometimes, we go overboard, promising ourselves that we’ll get better when the weather improves. Unless you live in a consistently warm state like Arizona or Florida, you likely experience some of these symptoms. Kick away the winter blues by trying these five enjoyable ways to get active this spring.

 1.     Walk, Jog, or Bike
It’s easy to overlook how enjoyable walking, jogging, or biking can be. Try pairing these simple cardio exercises with fun activities. For example, you can jog or run while playing laser tag. You can walk to your local library or a downtown attraction. You can bike just about anywhere - if you live in a town with sidewalks. Mix these functions into your daily life. Instead of getting into your car, think about other (more traditional) methods of transportation that can keep you active. Not sure whether you should walk or bike? Livestrong recently published an interesting article on the subject.

 2.     Develop Weekly Habits
Whether you join a sports team, engage in a weekly game of softball or flag football, or meet your friends for a scavenger hunt, develop regular habits with friends and family members that will get you moving. You can learn about the benefits of team sports through Let’s Play.
Rather than staying at home and watching movies throughout the spring season, get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Water balloon fights, picnics, and afternoons spent at the beach are great ways to stay healthy and motivated without even trying. After all, exercise is more fun when you don’t realize you’re doing it.

3.     Eat a Balanced Diet
While being active is important (and even vital) to maintaining healthy habits during the spring season, it’s also essential to eat a balanced diet. You should be eating fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, in addition to avoiding greasy fast food or pizza. These items are acceptable as a treat, but you should focus your energy on making healthy food in the comfort of your own home. One healthy choice each day can go a long way. Figure out what you should be eating through Choose My Plate - a website that offers unique ideas based on your individual needs.

 4.     Make Plans With Friends
Get active by making plans with your friends and family. Exercising is far less frustrating when we share it - masking it behind fun activities with the people we love. It can be as simple as a nightly walk or as complex as a baseball league. Whatever you decide to do, build your healthy spring habits with the individuals who support you.

5.     Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Exercising and making healthy eating decisions can be difficult when you haven’t been raised in a household that prioritizes health. There can, and will, be moments when you are forced to step outside your comfort zone. It might start by trying a new food each week. You might find yourself playing sports, when you never thought of yourself as athletic before. The Huffington Post recently offered six reasons to take risks and leave your comfort zone. Break down barriers. You’ll be happy you did.

Start an upward slope this spring by trying these five methods of getting active. The harder you work, the better your results will be.

Stewarding Your Body Well Throughout Busy Seasons

"Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Tis' the season for holiday parties, celebrations, feasting and enjoying lots of delicious (let's be real, adult) beverages... Christmas is such a rich, joyful and celebrated time of year but I also know the flip side of so much celebrating can lead to feeling crappy, gaining weight and feeling like you're running on E. 

The truth is, we can say no to our desires and feelings and emotions in the moment and we can say yes to something greater. True courage, freedom and bravery are found in saying yes to something greater than ourselves and our momentary, fleeting desires and feelings. I've messed this up plenty but the moments where I did have discipline around food and fitness (or anything in life, really) have lent itself to greater joy and satisfaction spiritually and emotionally than taking the easy or convenient route. There are examples of this kind of discipline written all throughout the Bible. God didn't "feel" like watching his only Son be crucified on the cross, but he did and Jesus certainly didn't "feel" like going to the cross, but he did for us. 

God gives us a spirit of power and of self control. My hope for myself and people reading is that this holiday season would be a time where we choose to tend to our temples by honoring our bodies so that we may be led closer to God, to people and to our purpose. It might be hard but I bet it'd be 100% worth it ❤️

Confidence.

How many of us want to be a more confident person? I'll be honest and say that l've spent a lot of energy in my life trying to figure out how to be more confident. I was searching for an unwavering, unshakable confidence that no matter the turbulence life brought I had everything together (or at least looked like I did). It was exhausting. Since becoming a Christian and hanging out in Christian communities one thing I've noticed and admired is this sense of settledness - not to be confused with apathy - they have in their identities regardless of the circumstances. 
The key to being a more confident person is not by becoming more confident in our abilities but becoming more confident in our identities in Jesus Christ. Because at that point when we are completely settled in Him, our abilities don't seem to matter. Sometimes we're going to crush it and sometimes we're going to mess up badly but if you have a relationship with God you will always be a valued, adored and cherished son or daughter of the King! 
Rest in Him. He made you uniquely and wonderfully in His image. You don't have to try to be anything. The most beautiful thing you could be is you ❤ 

Balancing Physical & Spiritual Health

God cares about our physical health but he cares for our souls a million times more. Keeping these things in balance means we understand that God is more concerned with the condition of our hearts than the way we look on the outside. This truth is something I need to come back to often and find rest in knowing my soul is of highest importance to God. 📷: @beckahueth

Navigating Beauty

I've worked in the fitness industry for over 10 years now and been thinking on how we as women are faced with a lot of pressure around physical beauty. The fashion, ideal body shape, diets and workouts have all changed and I can't really think of a time when women did not define themselves by some ideal of physical beauty. Though the definition of beauty changes over time one thing remains constant - it is always a definition of beauty that is just beyond our reach. We want what we cannot have. If curvy is hard, we want curvy. If thin is hard, we want to be thin and this expectation of physical perfection hits us early on in life and often. 

I was reminded as I sat in a Hawaiian church last Sunday that God loves us exactly where we are. For real! He Does! Not the skinnier version. Not the stronger version. We are image bearers of God. He made us just the way we are, in His image and likeness. This truth is so much more powerful, hopeful and encouraging than any worldly, societal pressure making me think some definition of physical perfection will bring ultimate happiness. That's a lie. Beauty is fleeting and our health will not last forever.

In this as in all things, there is hope and good news for the believer: one day we will enter Heaven and be free from our self-loathings and live in harmony with our physical looks. In the meantime we should absolutely steward the gifts of our physical bodies but for the sake of health and wellness not beauty. 

Give the Gift of Health This Holiday Season

Looking for a meaningful gift idea for someone this holiday season? Wellness By Little is offering personal training single session and package deals for new clients. We offer private and group training sessions for people of all ages and exercise backgrounds. In addition to personal training we also offer health coaching. Give the gift of health this season. Contact info@wellnessbylittle.com for pricing info.

May you have a joy-filled, healthy and meaningful holiday season! 

- Wellness By Little

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Leads to the Intimacy & Deep Joy we Crave

 

Well folks, it's going to get real here for a minute. There's no food pictures, recipes or exercise routines in this post. It's a little different from the usual WBL posts but absolutely still health and wellness related - enjoy!  

My husband and I just got married in June (whoo hoo!) and this past wedding season thousands of couples have also said their "I do's" and started this life long journey with their partner. Leading up to my wedding day I've learned how totally sacred, sweet and beautiful marriage is. It is two people CHOOSING each other for the rest of their lives. It's heartbreaking that our culture views marriage as easily disposable and that divorce is not only acceptable but a likely reality for many couples. The day I said  "I do" I freely chose to commit to Nathan (AKA The Baron of Ballard - he requested that I say that...) through any circumstance.

In our life together we will experience the deepest joy, intimacy, and love possible and we will also experience hurt, sadness, loneliness, misunderstanding, anger, frustration and emptiness in our marriage at times. I think and am learning, reading and discovering after previous relationships that marriage calls us to suffer well. We are not supposed to crumble in adversity despite the world telling us adversity and unhappiness means our marriages are failing. We are broken humans living in an imperfect world and in desperate need of salvation outside of ourselves. My heart and all of our hearts are prone to wander. As New York columnist David Brooks points out in his book The Road to Character, "people tend to shoot for happiness but feel the most formed through suffering." I can relate. 

The good news is that marriage is not supposed to make us happy - so I can let go of that expectation! I realize that of course happiness is a byproduct of marrying someone you love but marriage is supposed to make us holy. Marriage sharpens us. Brings oneness. The purpose of marriage is not to experience the "happily ever after" - regardless of what we see on social media, on TV and in movies. Every couple has a side that's not shown publicly and comparison will truly rob us of joy in our marriages. 

Investing in your partner by having the courage to confess your heart felt struggles (that one has taken me a few relationships and lots of practice to learn), asking for forgiveness, choosing to forgive, seeing the best in your partner (rather than assuming the worst), sacrificing yourself and your needs for your partner, being kind and lovingly pursuing their heart will point them to truth and ultimately result in an intimacy that will strengthen your bond and grow you deeper into relationship with God and one another. I learned later on in my 20's that my partner will never, ever fulfill me... The most unloving thing I could do is walk into my marriage with Nathan and put that expectation on him. When I've changed something in myself I've seen my relationship start to change. 

One of the best pieces of marriage advice I got from a couple was about sin in marriage. When your partner wrongs you look past the hurt it caused YOU and pursue their heart. What led them to this place? How can I point them back to truth? My prayer for married couples is that God would give us the strength, maturity and love towards our spouses to earnestly walk alongside them by bringing light to a potentially dark situation - even when it's the hardest thing to do. 

One thing that's been really fruitful in our marriage is Sunday night weekly recaps where we have a series of questions we ask about each others past week. We've adapted this from #beating50percent: 

1.) what's something that brought you joy this week? 
2.) what's something that was hard? 
3.) how can I be praying for you this upcoming week?
4.) what's one specific thing I can do for you this week? 
5.) is there anything that's gone unsaid, convictions, confessions or unresolved hurt that we need to address? 
6.) what's a dream, thought or vision that's been on the forefront of your mind this week?