Hard + Holy

It’s been about three weeks of me consistently getting into the gym (and by consistently, I mean 2-3 times a week – baby steps people!) and I guess you could say I feel good about it. In all honestly, talking about fitness still makes me feel a little awkward and even more self-conscious than I normally do. I’m still working to get to the root of that because at the core of it – why should talking about something that is good feel so weird?

The work of nourishing and pushing our bodies isn’t just healthy – it’s holy. This work of pushing beyond our limits and nudging our bodies to do more than they’re accustomed to is hard and holy work. While we’ve given our lives to our Creator, we tend to do a terrible job of actually tending to His creation. From the environment to our bodies, we’ve proven ourselves as not being the best caretakers.

But this year, I’m doing my best to change this – at least in my own life.

Hard + Holy

I think this idea of viewing exercise and fitness as holy work comes from a few things I’ve had on my mind lately. It’s human nature to shy away from hard things. If it’s not fun or exciting or easy, odds are we just don’t want to do it. But so often, it’s in these hard moments that we can choose to start seeing it as an opportunity to lean in to God. An opportunity for worship, even.

There have been several moments in the midst of my training sessions where everything just starts to feel awful. I’m a sweaty mess, my once in-shape body is screaming at me to stop torturing it, and I’m certain that my trainer is out to get me (kidding obviously- he’s actually very nice!). It’s there, when we comes to the end of ourselves that the Lord does beautiful work. Because where we’re lacking, God isn’t. Where we aren’t strong enough, God is. And while it may seems silly to draw a connection between faith and fitness, the simple truth is that any circumstance that requires more strength than what we feel we possess is space for God to move.

A lot of my own issues with health and fitness, I think, stem from this nagging voice in my head that tries to tell me that I can’t do something. That I’m not strong enough to create, much less maintain, new habits. It’s consistently led me to the mistaken belief that I will fail before ever truly attempting. Battling the lies that have plagued us for years is hard work, friends, it is. But recently I heard something in a podcast that hasn’t left my head either. And it’s so good.

In Lara Casey’s Cultivate What Matters podcast (the episode titled, “She Believed She Couldn’t”), Lara speaks about her initial experience with her personal trainer in a early session. She shared about how everything in her body was screaming out that she couldn’t do what her trainer was having her do but then her trainer Ray looked her in the eye and simply said, “Decide. You. Can.”

Decide you can.

What a concept, friends. How many things in our lives would change in the light of those three words?

It seems simple. Three little words. But absolutely massive when you think of the implications. We decide that we actually can do the things that we think we can’t and then when things naturally get hard and difficult…ask God to step into the ring. Ask Him to fill in the gaps. Ask Him to provide the strength when ours runs out. Ask Him to pour out and overflow in the dry areas of our lives.

This road is hard, friends. But it is holy and so, so good.


It’s not something I’ve really posted much about here in this space, even though I have a whole post category dedicated to it – food + wellness. But this is a subject area that has taken up a lot of space in my mind and in my heart for nearly a year now.


It was Memorial Day weekend last year when I finally thought to myself that I’d had enough. I’d had enough of my poor eating habits, my stress-induced snacking, and the way I felt as a whole. There was no one particular ailment or symptom, just a blanket sense of not feeling at home in myself, if that makes sense. That’s not to say that I am completely there now, but I am proud of the growth that has happened in the past year.

When I did my first Whole30 in July 2017, it was my hope that it would change my life and it did. Sure, there were physical changes on the outside from the 30 days and from the transition to Paleo immediately afterwards but Whole30 truly changed my entire mindset on food, nutrition, and what it means to truly be well.

I’ve read before that people who are Enneagram 9s (like myself) often feel most at home in nature but also have an intrinsic need to be rooted and settled, in harmony with the world. I definitely have seen this at play in my own life the more that I have studied the Enneagram and as I’ve found myself on this wellness journey for the past year.

The feeling that has been steadily cultivated within me is this deep desire to be connected to my body and truly know it well. We live in our bodies day in and day out but we don’t always know what our bodies are telling us or stop and think about what our daily choices could be doing to it. We don’t slow down enough to pay attention to how we actually feel. My post-Whole30 life has been characterized by a lot of label-reading, research, and intentional reflection on what I eat and how I can best practice self-care. Overall, I would say that I was especially diligent in the immediate days and weeks after July but around the beginning of this year, I began to get slack. Gluten, grains, and dairy suddenly were creeping their way back into my life more and more often but I kept trying to make excuses for it and tune out the ways that my body was trying to tell me that it wasn’t liking the things I was feeding it. Until I couldn’t tune it out anymore, that is.

At the beginning of April, I had two episodes of heartburn in the span of 4 days. If you are a frequent heartburn sufferer, I am SORRY. I can’t even imagine experiencing that discomfort more than what I did. And truthfully, I don’t know that my heartburn experiences were food-related (I had switched an allergy medication in this same time frame) but I’m sure it didn’t help things either. It might sound silly, but it was truly a wake up call for me. I needed to really get more diligent and intentional with my health again.

When I had the second episode of heartburn, I was away in Greenville, SC with my best friend (which didn’t help things) and the next day, we were walking through downtown. I was still feeling a little discomfort from the night before. We came across a wellness store (Pure on Main) and I instantly wanted to go in and see if I could find something that could help me. As I had laid awake with the heartburn, I had searched online for any and every remedy and I had come across many potential avenues. These two episodes were enough for me to know that I didn’t want to feel this way again. The common thing that came up multiple times in my research was aloe vera juice. After a helpful conversation with the employee at the wellness store, I left with a bottle of aloe vera juice and feeling like quite the hippie. But at this point in my wellness journey, natural remedies and supplements were/are so much more appealing to me than pills.

So now each night before bed I mix 4oz of Lily of the Desert’s aloe vera juice with a little bit of apple juice. Sure, I haven’t experienced heartburn again but I’ve also noticed that I just feel better since adding this to my daily routine. Not only is aloe vera juice great for heartburn/acid reflux but it has a whole host of other benefits like digestion support, anti-inflammatory properties, and support for heart health too.

So, all of that to say (since this has turned into a sort of “stream of consciousness”-type of post) – this is where I am at the moment with reference to health and wellness. I’ve come a long way from this time a year ago, but I am definitely trying to be intentional and mindful so that I don’t revert all the way back to old habits. There are a lot of things in life that we can’t control, but when it’s something like our health and the way that we feel each day – there are definitely things that we can do to influence that. And for me, what that looks like at the current moment is aloe vera and looking at getting back in the habit of going to yoga!

It’s my hope to start sharing some more posts on the topic of wellness and healthy living in the future, especially with my renewed interest and passion for it!

What Matters Most | Whole30 Recap

Whole30 Recap

Here I am, sitting at my computer on Day 30, sipping my cup of Whole30-compliant coffee.

To be here, having completed my first Whole30 feels like a gift, you guys. And I know that probably sounds way too sappy and I get it. I mean I’m just one person out of the millions, probably, who have already done a first, second, and maybe third Whole30. But for me, I am just grateful to be here, in this moment.

I had an inkling when I first decided to do Whole30 back around Memorial Day that my life was going to change. That was probably because I bought/read every book on the subject and everywhere in them was talk about food freedom and how this was going to change my life. It was never really a secret to me that the root of my food issues and my biggest roadblock with living well and eating healthy was me. I knew that stress eating was a real issue in my life (teaching is stressful, you guys) and even though I knew ways to counteract that and knew that I needed to get more active, I just simply didn’t do it. I made excuses that my schedule was too busy and that I just simply wasn’t strong enough.

Dear Whole30, thank you for shutting me up about that last part.

My parents and I decided to do Whole30 together for several reasons. For starters, I live at home and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do Whole30 on my own without huge amounts of temptation. For my Dad, it was a chance to see how a Whole30 way of eating could affect his high blood pressure and kidney function (he has chronic kidney disease due to a rare autoimmune disease). My mom was a little reluctant (and shell-shocked at every turn when I told her all the things we wouldn’t be able to have), but jumped in with us too. She also has high blood pressure and she actually ended up experiencing the most profound changes.

So how did we do?

For my Dad, he lost over ten pounds and has had lowered blood pressure of the past month. This past week, though, his doctor told him that his potassium numbers were a little high so we have now had to shift him to a low-potassium renal diet. My “pet peeve” with this is that there aren’t that many low-potassium recipes that are also Whole30/Paleo approved but we are trying to find a balance between getting his potassium back in check while also following what we now know and believe about nutrition (So many gluten/grain ingredients…*shudder*).

Like I said above, my mom probably had the most substantial changes of the three of us. Her blood pressure has been significantly lower, guys. Like, down to only taking one medication instead of two. Around the second week, she was experiencing very low blood pressure and her doctor began tweaking her medicines a bit. The fact that she has been able to completely stop taking one of her medications is pretty amazing to me! At first, my mom wasn’t sure how much of Whole30 we would carry over into “post-Whole30 life” but now that she has seen these changes, I think she is open to transitioning to a Paleo diet with me.

As for me, my biggest transformation has been my mindset and my outlook on wellness and nutrition as a whole. Like I shared in my halfway recap, I began doing yoga this month and joined a gym about halfway through. In fact, sometimes I found myself forgetting that Whole30 was wrapping up because I truly went into this not as a 30 day thing, but as a springboard for a total lifelong change. I knew that I wanted to try and follow a Paleo diet after Whole30 and that sentiment still holds true. With all that I have learned about food and nutrition through the Whole30 books and in Practical Paleo, how could I go back to the way things were?

I truly feel excited and hopeful for what the future holds! July was a great month!

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