And now it's a New Year and today the kids went back to school which means we're getting back to our normal routine/schedule and I'm wanting to make a couple of small improvements or resolutions for the New Year. But before I get into that, let me back up a little and share some experiences we've had over the years.
Scott and I like to exercise. I've been exercising regularly since before we were married, though since we've gotten married, I definitely have become more consistent and increased what I could do. In the beginning years of our marriage, I mostly speed walked while pushing a stroller, and then a double stroller. Once baby number three came and they were all still four and under, we got an elliptical machine, and later a tredmill and I worked out 30 minutes to an hour, doing that or going on walks, especially once Elisabeth was in school, and once she learned how to ride a two-wheeler (they can go so much faster once they're on two wheels!). But during that time I kinda got stuck in a rut and didn't ever push myself; it got easy, I wasn't challenged or making any progress with strength or losing the last ten pounds of baby fat that I'd been hoping to lose like I'd done with the previous two (as a side note, I gained about 50 lbs with each of my five pregnancies).
A couple of years ago Scott and I started doing strength training, and HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises and we tried to become faster runners. Doing those things, challenging ourselves regularly, made a difference. With all the weights we were lifting, and increasing the amounts, I felt stronger and I could see more muscle definition in my arms; I wasn't getting bulky, I don't have the hormone's men do to get that way, but I was more toned. The HIIT exercises helped me to go harder for longer periods of time which also helped me as I trained to run a faster mile. We started running about 10 minute miles but we wanted to be able to run an 8 minute mile, and eventually 2, 8 minute miles and then finally 3, 8 minute miles so that we could do a faster 5k. Well cutting off two minutes from your mile is no easy task, and I think it took us about a year before we felt comfortable doing it at that speed. We didn't run every day, more like once a week but we still exercised 6 days a week. We started by increasing our 1/4 mile to be within an 8 minute/mile pace(and at first, I felt like I was going to die or at least throw up, running that fast for even a short amount of time). Once we had that down, we tried to do a half mile at an 8 minute/mile pace. And so on and so forth. We'd do sprints sometimes and sometimes we'd go for longer runs, usually starting with an 8 minute mile and slowing down a little until we could go longer. I'm still not up to doing 3, 8 minute miles yet, but I plan to be able to do that this year.
Recently I was reading an article about HIIT exercises and how they do just what I said, they challenge us, help us get out of our rut or our comfort zone, and actually see some progress. I read part of this article out loud to our 11 year old daughter Elisabeth and asked her how she could relate that to a gospel principle. She said, "I think that is the same with scripture study. Sometimes we get stuck reading the same amount, doing the same thing over and over again, and we don't grow." I agree. And I think this goes for all aspects of our testimony. When we start to get comfortable where we are, when we stop doing more,and challenging ourselves to learn and grow, we get stuck and we end up feeling empty. Our spiritual progression is at a stand still and we won't be able to be spiritually fed and nourished until we make some changes and improvements by challenging ourselves with goals to read more, or read another way, maybe asking more questions, pondering and studying more, being more sincere in our prayers.
And so, with the New Year upon us, I feel like this is the perfect time to think of ways we can improve and challenge ourselves to become better, both spiritually and temporally. As for me and my spiritual goals, I want to become a better mom by giving even more of my time to my children by reading with them longer, talking with them longer, and always recognizing and taking advantage of those learning/teaching opportunities that come to us as parents, usually in inconvenient times, when we have an endless list of tasks to complete (always). I also have a spiritual goal to read 6 pages of scripture a day, starting in the New Testament(I'm already in Exodus now! 6 pages goes a long way), so that I can finish all the standard works (Old and New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price) within a little over a year. These books are inspired words of God and I know that studying them for longer periods of time with not only help me to understand them better, but also help me to become a better wife, mother, friend, community member etc. And one more spiritual goal is that I want to be better about praying on my knees each morning and night. I always pray, individually and with the family, but I want to say my individual prayer on my knees, like I've read how the Savior does,and like we do with our family. I know this will help me to be more focused and sincere in my prayers rather than if I was laying in bed praying, dozing in and out, not sure if I had finished the prayer or not. I also know that as I'm doing better at these things, it will bless the lives of my family and that they will remember, and hopefully someday follow my example.
As for my temporal goals, I want to continue with my challenging exercises 6 days a week, so not really any change there, but I also want to be better about the foods that I eat, in particular, not eating so much sugar and eating less often. I think it's fine to have a treat once a week, but I need to get out of the habit of eating it more often than that. I'm going to try to only eat when I'm hungry, and stop eating when I'm satisfied. For me this means not having more than one snack a day and not eating after dinner. I also want to incorporate a lot more greens and veggies into my diet, and having greens at every meal. I'm already a vegetarian so you'd think this would be simple, but it's not always easy; you have to be prepared with lots of fresh produce on hand at all times and you have to take the time to cut and prepare the veggies. Two other temporal goals I have are to 1) get to bed and wake up at about the same time every day; so 10pm to 5am; which is what we have been doing but the time sometimes fluctuates by an hour and 2) save more, and more specifically, to be better about saving an x amount of money from each pay check each month.
And that's about it for goals for this coming year. I'm grateful to the Lord who continually helps us to change and become better; to become more like him.
I want to finish off this post with a list of books I read from this past year so I can have it in my records.
Books I Read in 2015
b=bookclub books*=really liked it
1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand *
2. Food Matters by Mark Bittman *
3. Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl *
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry*
5. The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman*
6. Pillar of Light (Work and Glory #1) by Gerald N Lund*
7. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of who you think you're supposed and embrace who you are by Brene Brown
8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (b)*
9. 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake*
10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey*
11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens*
12. The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman (b)
13. A Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman (b)
14. Les Miserables (read first half which is about 600 pages...its HUGE so I felt like I should be able to count it! I will read second half this year and count it for next years reading as well :))*