Esther’s Walmart Exercise Tips

How to Get Lots of Exercise on Your Next Trip to Walmart

Because, hey, we’re all about getting in shape, exercising, burning calories…right? So, here are some helpful pointers to ensure you get plenty of exercise on your next trip to Wally World!

  1. Be really consistent with where you park. Quite a while ago I decided that I would just park in the same row every single time I went to the store. Even if it meant having to park at the farthest reaches of the parking lot. Since the row I picked is right in front of the main entrance, I usually do end up parking at the farthest spot possible from the store. But hey, at least I don’t have the agony of trying to remember where I parked.
  2. Don’t bring a list. This is very important. Lists guarantee a certain orderliness to your trip which translates to minimal walking around the store. Not good. Don’t bring a list. Or, if you are like me, make a list, and then just forget to look at it.
  3. Observe the contents of other people’s carts. This proved very useful for me. While perusing the peanut butter aisle I happened to see a woman’s cart with a large bag of cat litter. CAT LITTER!! I need cat litter! This meant I could then walk all the way to the very opposite corner of the store to get the forgotten cat litter.
  4. Don’t take time to think things through. For example. I started at the back of the grocery section. Got eggs. Went all the way down the aisles till I was on the opposite end of the the store, was choosing out some hotdog buns when I remembered that I needed milk. Milk! (Right next to the eggs). Quick, rush back to the other side of the store. Then, when I was at the milk section, I suddenly remembered  that I needed peanut butter, which happens to be in the same aisle as the hotdog buns. Back to the hotdog bun aisle! Once I reached the hotdog bun aisle, I saw the previously mentioned cat litter, but also remembered I needed to get badminton birdies. Which means I now needed to walk to two more corners of the store. Yay! More exercise!
  5. Don’t ask for help. This is good advice, but on the other hand, there really aren’t any salespeople around to ask anyway. On my search for badminton birdies I discovered the tennis aisle. Tennis rackets, tennis balls, pickle ball rackets, other various rackets of many sizes…no badminton rackets, or nets, or birdies. Around the corner was all kinds of baseballs, softballs, golf, table tennis, basketballs, volleyballs, etc. No badminton sets. Walked through a bunch of aisles filled with various sporting goods. No badminton sets. Oh wait, right over there! Lawn games. Of course. Badminton is going to be with the lawn games. There was a complete badminton set which comes with net, rackets, and birdies…nope, not what I want…There was a set of two rackets with two birdies…nope, not what I want, I already have rackets…Where’s the birdies? I distinctly remembered last year buying a little tube that was full of birdies. It does not seem to exist anymore. More walking around the aisles. Maybe they’ve stuck it somewhere else? After circling the sports section four or five times, I finally gave up. Guess I’ll order it on Amazon.
  6. Look for the shortest line. The entire front of the store is filled with checkout lanes. Of course, usually only two or three lanes are open, and generally those lanes are not going to be next to each other. So, you walk all the way down to number two, but, hey, there’s at least five people ahead of you. What about number fourteen? Back down to the other side of the store. Ah, yes, only four people here! That was such a good decision to move lanes!

Couple caveats. Getting your exercise at Walmart means you will be prone to impulse buys. Like today when I happened to walk past this bin of beautiful, large, red, rubber balls. So beautiful! I remembered playing with those when I was a kid. My mind daydreamed a moment and I imagined my two and four year standing in the green grass, gently lobbing the ball back and forth. How nice! I bought the ball. I then brought it home where I faced six children who all wanted the ball. A Hunger-Games-type scenario then ensued, last man standing gets the ball. It wasn’t pretty. Impulse buys are dangerous.

So, there you go. I’ve got all kinds of advice to help you live a healthier lifestyle! Tune in next time for “Wanting to Increase Your Time in the Car? How to Become a Personal Chauffeur for Your Children”.

Fat Fridays: Week 18 Progress and Dieting With Large Families

Hello Fat Friday Friends. (Kind of has a ring to it!) Hope all is well in your world today. I am feeling pretty positive today. I weighed myself and I’ve lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks. Yay! Measurable progress! Another bit of progress is my depression really does seem to be leaving me alone right now. (For those of you just tuning in, I started this vegan, grain-free diet in an attempt to lessen my depression). I am a naturally melancholic person. I like to sit and think about life and I tend to be pensive. But, there’s a difference between being low-key and being depressed. Depressed has me sitting in a chair, feeling paralyzed. Unable to do anything but the very basic tasks. I feel like a weight has lifted off of me. Where before, I felt like all of my emotions just kind of stayed flat, I feel like I’m starting to be able to swing over to “Happy” and “Excited”. This past Sunday, on Easter, I was downright happy. To the point that my husband was asking, “What’s up with you?” ummm. I’m happy! I guess that was a bit weird for my family. I was actually feeling bubbly. So, these are all good things.

Challenges. I am having a hard time being creative with vegan food. You remember I was trying to go grain-free for three months, well I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to do it, and I have started adding grain back. Still trying to stay away from wheat as I have noticed in the past that my body doesn’t like wheat very much. I’ve added back brown rice and quinoa. Yum. It definitely helps me to not feel hungry all the time. This week I’ve been eating a packet of this stuff everyday (found it at Sam’s Club):

quinoi

Add a bag of frozen veggies cooked up and a can of beans, a bit of salt and salsa, and it’s very filling and tastes good.

riceandbeans

But, I’ve been eating it every day, because it’s fast and easy. I’m going to get tired of it really soon. I am in big need of sitting down and looking up interesting recipes. I just haven’t taken the time yet. I’m also still cooking meat for my family, and I’m finding it harder and harder to come up with any enthusiasm for cooking meat. It feels a bit gross and unappetizing. My kids are getting out of school in another month, and I am making long-term plans to shift the family more and more towards vegetables and fruit and minimal meat. I have found a surprising ally in this goal. My seventeen year old son just told me that he wanted to start eating like me. I patiently explained that I am actually mostly just eating vegetables. Yeah Mom, I know..Umm. You know that means that you would have to eat vegetables. Yeah Mom. Vegetables. Boy Mom, you’re not being very encouraging! I’m telling you that I want to eat vegetables and you’re just acting like it’s something I can’t do! Ok. Sorry. Yes son, you are welcome to eat what I eat. (I can be excused for being a bit skeptical as this is the child who serves himself about an eighth of a cup a veggies at supper and claims that’s enough vegetables for one day.)

Anyway, it’s time to tackle the family’s eating habits. Now that it’s feeling more natural for me, I feel like I can start focusing on them. I’m coming up with a plan, a strategy, and it involves going slow. One new thing at a time. This week I’m going to skip buying white bread and I’m going to load up on ranch dressing, hummus, and fresh veggies like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, and iceburg lettuce. For some reason, my kids really like those veggies, so I’m going to start trying to have a tray of veggies to munch on after school instead of toast or sandwiches. We already do fruit. My kids love apples and oranges. This is what feeding fruit to nine kids looks like (I have ten kids, but one lives at college):

fruitandveggies

Well, I’ll tell you how it goes. Having the family eat similar to me will make my life a lot easier.

Exercise update. I’ve been on the elliptical four days in a row this week! Yay me! Feeling a bit stiff and sore, but also feeling like it’s helping with increased energy.

Goals: Keep on keeping on. Start dragging my family down this path of health I’m on. Be happy.

See you next week!

 

When You’re Just Not Feeling It

I’m not feeling it today. I woke up with a headache this morning that didn’t go away till the afternoon. Then starting about four, I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. But I had to, because this night is my husband’s shop night and so I was on my own to get kids to bed. I fell asleep in the two year old’s bed, because he wouldn’t go to sleep and I finally gave up and just laid down on his bed and went to sleep myself. It must have worked because I eventually woke up and he was asleep next to me. I dragged myself downstairs, remembering that I hadn’t finished my blog for the next day. I started one this afternoon. All about perfectionism. And I just reread it and I feel like I’m preaching. And I just don’t feel like preaching today.

I want to write down funny stories about what my kids have done, but my sense of humour has been a bit strained lately. I would like to be poetic or lyrical. Nope. That’s not happening either. Today is just one of those days where you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving.

There were a couple sweet notes in the day. Eating lunch on the deck with my two little boys and my husband who came home from work. Giving my six youngest children the job of moving our humongous trampoline from one corner of the yard to the opposite corner, a journey that was long, and involved getting around a lot of obstacles. Not only did they rise to the challenge, but they managed to work together cheerfully and with lots of enthusiasm. So, now you know, teamwork building project: have your children move a really big trampoline. That cheerfulness even lasted all the way to bedtime, major bonus.

Let’s see. Other good things that happened today…I got to help my eight year old daughter practice a couple songs on the piano and started teaching her a cute little song to sing for our musical evening that’s coming up soon. I got to sit out in the sunshine and fresh air while I watched my little boys playing in the yard. I exercised today, despite my headache.

I thought about some good things. Pondered perfectionism. Questioned the meaning of life. Daydreamed about what my children would be like when they were all grown up. Enjoyed reading a book by Linda Nichols, “In Search of Eden”. I recommend that book and any of her other books. She’s a really good storyteller that mixes gritty, harsh reality with amazing grace.

I will conclude with one little snippet about perfectionism. I am a closet perfectionist. I feel like a good day only happens when my house is spotless; I’m full of energy; my children are all perfectly-behaved, content, and well-adjusted. Today wasn’t really any of those things (aside from the success of children moving a trampoline). But, looking back, I have to say. It was a good day. Full of flaws: headaches and messy houses included, but it’s ok. The day doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. What makes the day good is me being able to stop and notice the goodness tucked away here and there. It’s a good day when I take the time to be thankful for the small things.

I guess it was a pretty good day after all. And the best thing, I can now go to bed. 🙂

 

So, What’s the Big Deal About Today?

Good Morning Internet World! Here it is Easter Morning and as I sit here in my home, writing on my computer, I wonder how everyone’s morning is going, and what this day means to you. When I first started this blog I was pretty purposeful in my thoughts that this wasn’t going to be a “Christian Blog”. What I mean by that, was that I did not want to write out little sermonettes and discuss bible verses every day. Neither did I want it to be an “Advice Blog” where I could spell out how I do things and encourage you to copy all my neat tricks for living. I just wanted to write about my life and the stories I have to tell. As it turns out, since I spend my life trying to make Jesus the most important thing, he kind of crops up in my blogs. Pretty regularly. And I have ended up dispensing some advice here and there. It’s just happened, the inevitable result of writing about my life. Today though, I am just going to be blatant Christian. I want to share with you all why today is so important to me.

Today is Easter. The day we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. What is that all about? Well, he was God, in the flesh. He came down to earth and lived the perfect, sinless life, because I couldn’t. And then, even though he was perfect, he was killed: whipped and then nailed to a cross, dying a torturous death. Why? Well, the punishment for sin is death. All of us have sinned. We all deserve to die for our sins. There was nothing we could do to change that. So Jesus came and changed it for us. He died in our place. Took all of our sins on himself and paid the price for us. Now, if we repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, ask his forgiveness, he does forgive us and he “Makes us white as snow..” He declares us innocent, clean, forgiven. And he promises that he will be with us and never leave us. And when our earthly body dies, we will go and be with him for all eternity. Easter is the day we celebrate that I can now approach God and have a relationship with him, all the barriers have been removed.

So, what does Easter mean to me?

It means I am no longer alone. I have someone that I speak to all day long. Sometimes it reverent, “Lord, thank you for the beautiful sunshine!” Sometimes, not so much, “LORD! Help me! I am so tired!! I can’t deal with this messy house!!” Sometimes it’s just commenting on daily life, “Wow Lord, I cannot believe that driver just cut me off like that!!! Please help me to not start swearing!!” And often, it’s just the word, “help”. For me, it’s an all-day running commentary on my life. And I know he’s listening. And he answers. Not so much an audible voice, though I have heard his voice a couple times, but more like a redirection of my thoughts. I’m grumbling about what a lousy day I’m having, and suddenly I remember the bible verse, “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!” Or I find myself harboring a bunch of anger towards someone and the verse pops in my head, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” It’s a conversation of sorts…with someone who never goes away, always listens, and knows all your thoughts. Can’t really get more intimate than that.

What does Easter mean to me?

It means I have peace. When I do things wrong, I don’t have to walk around feeling guilty. I can ask for God’s forgiveness and then I can count on him to give me the strength to ask forgiveness from the person I wronged. And if things continue to remain tense, I can have peace knowing that he will be with me and give me wisdom to know how to proceed. The underlying guilt that I used to carry around with me is no longer there. I am forgiven.

What does Easter mean to me?

It means I am no longer afraid. What is the worst thing that can happen to me? Death? Well, if I die I know that I will be with Jesus…forever. Doesn’t sound too bad. When I am tempted to be afraid for my children, God reminds me that he loves my children more than I do. Their lives are in his hands. They might not get the fairy tale life that I envision for them, they may go through horrible things in their lives, I may even, Heaven Forbid, bury one of my children (Lord, may it not be so). But, I don’t have to live in fear of these things happening. In the end, I have no power to save my children or protect them, and God never promised us a pain-free, trouble-free life. But, he promises to never leave us, to take bad things and turn them into good. I can trust him.   

What does Easter mean to me?

It means my life gets a bit uncomfortable at times. God’s number one priority for me is not for me to be happy. His number one priority is that I learn how to be like him. And sometimes learning that is a bit painful. Awkward. Esther, I want you to love your neighbor as yourself. Esther, I want you to forgive those who hurt you. Esther, I want you to help those in need. Esther, I want you stop putting your selfish desires above the needs of your family. Esther, I want you to trust me with this problem instead of worrying about it. Yeah. It’s not all fun and games. This weekend, I had an old friend reach out to me for help. My very first thought was, No way. I can’t help you with this. It’s too much. It’s going to really inconvenience me. My husband and I prayed about it. The next day, I still wanted to say No, sorry, can’t help, but God very gently pointed out to me that all my reasons for saying No were selfish and rather petty. And so I found myself saying yes. I can help you. But here’s the thing. All this nudging to change, do things differently than I want to, in the end it’s slowly shaping me into the person that I have always wanted to be. I have no power in myself to turn Esther from a selfish, self-absorbed person into a selfless person who always puts others first and is always ready to forgive, ready to lend a helping hand. It’s a change that only comes from listening daily to the quiet nudges from God as he slowly chips away at all the rough edges of my character.

What does Easter mean to me?

Everything. It means everything. And this is why I tell my children, this is the biggest holiday of the entire year! Easter! The day that enabled me to pass from condemned sinner to beloved daughter of God. Oh yes, Easter means everything to me.

 

Fat Fridays: Week 17 Navigating Birthdays and Restaurants

Hi all. How’s everyone’s week been? Mine has been busy. Our family has three birthdays within 8 days of each other and then Easter is also right in the middle of that. Plus, the weather has definitely warmed up and so I have had to do the seasonal clothes-switch-over. Throw in choir practices for our church’s Easter program and my son’s theater performance and I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon. April is one of our busiest months. It’s always like that. With my son graduating high school next month, May is also going to be really busy.

So, what does all this have to do with diet. Well, I would say one of the challenges I have been facing is how to keep on track when you don’t have a lot of time to devote to food-prep, and also how to deal with events like birthdays and eating out. My daughter wanted pizza and cake for her birthday. I love pizza. Her birthday was on a Friday and Friday Night Pizza is a pretty standard treat around here. I knew that the pizza was going to be a really big temptation for me. So, before it came, I ate a big meal of vegetables and beans and plantains. Filled myself up. And then I gave myself permission ahead of time to have some pizza crust. (I am one of those weird ones who thinks the crust is the best part of the pizza. It works well in my family since most of them don’t like the crust. Kind of a symbiotic relationship.) Right now my diet is vegan and grain-free. But I don’t plan on staying grain-free. I’m going through a three month course of pills to try and reduce the candida in my system and get my digestive tract back in shape, I do plan on eventually eating small amounts of whole-grains every day. So, I don’t feel too bad about cheating with grain.

The plan worked well. I ate a pizza crust and then realized that actually, it didn’t give me that rush of “feel good” that I used to get from eating my favorite foods. It actually made me feel a bit yucky and I didn’t feel tempted to eat any more. Yay.

In the past week I also have eaten out twice. I went out to a Mexican restaurant with my girl friends, a place we regularly visit, and I came prepared! You know that in Mexican restaurants they always place this giant bowl of fresh hot chips and salsa in front of you. And you sit there and munch and talk and munch and talk and it’s only hours later that you realize you’ve eaten an amazing amount of chips and salsa. This time I came with a bag of plantain chips and I planned ahead what vegan food I would order. It worked pretty well, though I’ll admit that at the very end of the evening, I did grab a couple chips. Cause they were just sitting there. Looking really good. Again, it was grain, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.

Then my husband and I went out with another couple to a Thai restaurant. I chose the restaurant because I knew that I could get a good vegan meal at a Thai restaurant. I decided ahead of time that I was going to eat rice with the meal, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating or caving in on the spot. I got Prik Poa Pork, without the pork, and it was amazing! I foresee eating a lot of Thai food in the future as their menu has an option to substitute vegetables for any meat. And I love Thai food anyway. 🙂

I guess the biggest lesson I’m learning is to think ahead. When I know I’m going to be in a different setting than my own kitchen, I can plan which foods I’m going to allow myself to eat and which ones are definitely a NO. Bring alternative food when necessary. Fill up ahead of time so I’m not as tempted to cheat. I think these are lifelong skills that are going to prove to be very beneficial to me.

Ok. Exercise update. I got on the elliptical three times this week. Yay me. I would like it to be more like five times a week, but it’s good progress. (And this blogging accountability thing really worked! I was like, there is NO WAY I’m going to tell everyone that I didn’t exercise again, so I just did it!)

Goals for the week: Somehow navigate the Easter Candy thing and Easter Dinner. NO SUGAR! I will not give in! Keep exercising. Stick to the diet.

 

Have a good week everyone!

 

Notre Dame

Yesterday, while I was driving home, a friend texted me with a picture of Notre Dame burning. I didn’t get to read the text till I got home. I grabbed my phone, glanced at the text with the thought that I would jump out of the car and continue the conversation in the house, and then I stopped. What??? Notre Dame?? The famous church in Paris that has been around Forever?? How can it be burning? It’s kind of like someone saying a meteor landed on one of the Great Pyramids and destroyed it. My friend didn’t have many details and I started searching the Web for more information. I shared what I knew on my Facebook page and saw that all kinds of other people were sharing the same information. The whole world was in collective shock.

Why are we so upset about this? I’ve never been to France. I’m not Catholic. My friends who were sharing the information, most of them have never been to France either. We have no claim to this particular historical landmark, so why are we feeling it so strongly? I think because Notre Dame has, through the sheer tenacity of existing for almost a thousand years, become part of our human story. It’s part of our collective history as a human race. We can point back in time and say, Look! A bunch of us humans got together and with no power tools and no gas powered cranes and lifts, somehow we humans created this amazing piece of architecture! And we feel proud of ourselves. And amazed at our collective ancestors. It’s part of our human story.

I remember when I first learned about Notre Dame. I was in 7th grade. We had just moved back to Haiti after a long stint in the US. I was doing homeschool of sorts and my parents had ordered my curriculum from Calvert, a long-standing source of curriculum for missionary kids. I actually really liked the curriculum. It was different. I was learning World History instead of US history, I got to read a bunch of interesting literature, and I studied, of all things, a small book about Architecture. I remember it was a thin paperback book, red covers with very simple printing. Inside were the occasional black and white grainy photos of various famous architectural feats. I remember especially the chapter about Flying Buttresses. That term took my fancy and I can remember it even now, twenty-eight years later. There were some photos of Notre Dame and, after learning exactly how they made the flying buttresses, I was properly awestruck. Wow. How did they do that?? And just like that, Notre Dame became part of my identity. I now knew what it was, a little bit about how they built it, where it was located. From then on when someone mentioned going to Paris and seeing Notre Dame, I could nod my head wisely. Oh yes. How were the flying buttresses?

As I have been reading the news about Notre Dame, one other part of our human story has been coming through. People stepping forward to say, Let’s Rebuild. Here’s some money. We can do this. And this resonates deeply within us. I feel tears forming. Because, somehow, this is also who we are. We get knocked down, tragedy strikes, and then we get back up again. Rebuild. Try again. I believe it is part of that “Created in God’s image” thing. There is something strong in us, something that won’t give up. And that is also a part of the human story.

May Notre Dame live again.

Parenting Goals

My two year old son is in that wonderful/horrible stage where he imitates everyone around him. His favorite muse to copy is his four year old brother who takes great satisfaction in teaching his baby brother all the ways of life. If the four year old comes running into the room yelling and then strikes a karate pose, you can bet that about thirty seconds later the two year old will also come running in yelling, striking a pose. It can be a real blessing, like tonight, when all my children were thanking their Grandma for their supper and the two year old, hearing this, also chimed in with a garbled, “Thank you Grandma for the good food!” It can be a curse when the four year old throws a tantrum and says “NO!” and the two year old decides he should also yell “NO!” It’s amusing, but it’s also just an amazing way that God made children, to learn by imitating those around them.

The question is, at what stage should we stop imitating the people around us? The desire to imitate seems to be deeply ingrained. I still find myself defaulting to “imitation status” when I have big decisions to make in my life. (We can’t become nomads, it’s just not done!). Or when I’m contemplating new ideas (I don’t belong to that political party, so there’s no way I can get behind that idea!). Or perhaps when I’m making parenting decisions (That really popular parenting book says this is the way to do it!). I find it especially hard when it comes to spiritual matters. There are so many voices out there claiming to know the truth. There are so many people who take a verse from the Bible and just run with it, creating an entire new way of thinking from just one verse or passage. How do I discern who is handling scripture correctly?

There are two scriptures that I think are helpful in the whole arena of imitation. The first is Ephesians 5:1 (ESV)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Who should we be copying? Jesus. And if our actions are not loving and sacrificial, putting others ahead of ourselves, then we probably aren’t imitating too well.

The other verse that is really helpful is James 1:5 (ESV) that says,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

In the end there is no pat answer for who to trust, who to imitate, who to listen to, when to branch out on your own completely, with no regard for the thoughts or opinions of those around you. There is no way to know, case by case, how to act. We need wisdom. We need God’s wisdom. And amazingly, he says, just ask me, I’ll give you all the wisdom you need! (Of course, the next 3 verses remind you to ask with faith, no doubting!). I am so thankful for God’s wisdom. I have asked repeatedly for this wisdom, and God has not let me down. This is my prayer for my children. That God would give them wisdom. Not just wisdom for a particular situation, but the wisdom to even remember to ask for help in the first place. Wisdom to know when to follow and when to strike out on their own. Wisdom to remember that they are supposed to be imitating Jesus, not their peer group. That is the goal for my children. That they would go from toddling around in their diapers, copying the antics of their siblings, to copying Jesus, relying on his wisdom as they make their way through this life.

Lord, may it be so!