www.bekawatts.com

Oh, boy…did I ever let this blog crash and burn! Not to worry, it had nothing to do with the absence of thriving, since I feel like I’m thriving more than ever! It’s just that keeping up one blog is enough to handle without the added upkeep of a few other blogs, a photography website, and a portfolio. And, you know, a real life.

I’m really sorry that I’ve left you all hanging for a few months now, but I hope you’ll join me at my new permanent internet home, www.bekawatts.com. Here’s a quick tour of what you’ll find over there:

blogger : My main blog (Beka Stays) with a new name (A Beautiful Home)

writer : A writing portfolio

photographer : An I’m-indecisive-so-I-hope-you-have-time-to-look-at-200-pictures-or-so photography portfolio

creative : A list of other creative places where you can find me

food enthusiast : A short romance novel about food and a list of favorite recipes

football fanatic : A new blog about the basics of football for normal girls (!!!)

faith-filled risk-taking life-lover : An About page that reads like a Life Thesis

let’s talk : A contact form to get the conversation started.

Thank you all for coming along for the ride on this blog. It was so much fun! I hope you’ll join me for lots of new adventures over at the new website, too!

See you there!

Second Leg: The Next 25 Days

it will set you apart.

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Part I:

It’s been one of those weeks that went by in a flash but felt forever long. You know the kind I’m talking about?

This week left me feeling more than a bit depleted, especially pertaining to having the energy and motivation to get a good workout in today…Friday…the (almost) finish line of a marathon week.

So I wasn’t going to work out today. Even though yesterday was my off day and I’ve committed to being athletic in one capacity or another for 6 out of every 7 days for this period of 50 days. “I’ll workout twice as hard and twice as long tomorrow,” I thought.

And as tempting as that was…and as close as I was to taking myself up on that too-good-to-be-true offer…I decided to work out today.

Because I made a commitment. And I’m perfectly capable of keeping it. OH, am I ever perfectly capable of keeping it! But, as per Jesus, “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Amen to that.

So I opted for a respectable compromise: since I’m crunched for time and enthusiasm today, I went straight for Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred DVD. It’s a 20 minute workout on overdrive. Since I was significantly shortchanging my usual time allotted for exercise, I decided that I wouldn’t just settle for Level 1 or Level 2. Nope…I did Level 3, the most challenging workout, and one that I’ve been avoiding ever since I bought the DVD…a year ago.

I did not die.

I did not pass out.

I didn’t even throw up.

Instead, I swapped a defeated day for a successful one. I gave myself the opportunity to see that I was MORE than capable of keeping up with Level 3 – and got to see that I never would have been able to do that a year ago.

Which means…I’ve actually gotten stronger!!!

This was a notable victory for me because a year ago…I couldn’t do a push up. Actually, I couldn’t do a push up 6 months ago, either. True story. But through a combination of CrossFit, increased weights/strength workouts, and the determination and belief that my cardio-happy body really is capable of becoming stronger, today I was doing traveling pushups (and two sets!) without any alterations.

I was so excited!!!

And I never would have experienced that if I had taken the easy way out.

That’s what’s at the heart of the post I wrote yesterday, and of this entire thriving endeavor: committing to doing the hard work every day to the best of my ability – no excuses and no shortcuts.

I’m so (SO!) happy.

(And let me assure you, that’s a far cry from what I was about an hour ago, when I more closely resembled Miss Non-Congeniality.)

Part II:

So as you know, for the first 24 Days of the 50 Days until my birthday I did AdvoCare’s 24 Day Challenge. Since I enjoyed AdvoCare’s products so much, I’ve decided to stick with a few of them for the second half of this 50 Day journey (and probably forever…they make that much of a difference!). I’m currently using MNS Max 3 and Spark. I’m keeping Meal Replacement Shakes on hand for healthy, balanced meals on the go. And I’m adding in Catalyst, too! I’ll keep you posted with reviews and results!

no shortcuts : the 24 day challenge recap

no shortcuts

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I think I unintentionally faked myself out.

I think I set out on the 24 Day Challenge assuming that I would be magically transformed by Day 25.

It’s Day 25.

I don’t look like I belong on the cover of Women’s Health.

Why?

Because…that’s impossible. I’ve only been doing this for a little over 3 weeks…and change takes time, consistent effort, more time, and more consistent effort.

And then more and more and more of each.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

I believe that.

So why did I think that the 24 Day Challenge would be a magical quick-fix?

Probably in some part because I’ve internalized our instant-gratification society. Patience? Persistence? Follow through? Those are nice ideas. But I’d like my results now, please.

The numerical results were decent. I lost 3 inches off my waist, which translates to about an inch a week. And I’ll take that! They just weren’t the overwhelming success that I was hoping for. (But, in the interest of full disclosure, it’s not like I’m primed for numbers to fly off the charts in the first place. We’re only talking about a few pounds and a few inches since my goal isn’t really losing weight but gaining athletic tone.)

The intangible results, however, were an overwhelming success.

The 24 Day Challenge helped me reset my compass. I was addicted to sugar and caffeine, sluggish in mind and body, feeling stuck in a rut of bad decisions. Now I feel full of energy, in a pattern of good decisions, ready to tackle big workouts and big goals with equal ferocity. Because no change is completely linear, there are days that are good and days that are better and days that are just so-so. But overall, I’m much happier with the new direction I’m heading in.

I’ve realized that the 24 Day Challenge wasn’t a shortcut to my goal of being in the best shape of my life thus far. Instead, I think it was a priceless tool on the path to getting there. And it’s going to take longer than 24 days to get there. And I’m going to have to work. And it’s not just going to be handed to me.

I like that.

So, here’s to the next 24 days. And the next and the next and the next. Each of which will find me working a little bit harder than the last. The support system is crucial: AdvoCare products, a good pair of sneakers, a fridge stocked with healthy food. But it’s ultimately up to me to use them AND do the work. No shortcuts.

What will the next 24 days entail until the big 2-6 arrives on Day 50, April 17th? I’ll fill you in tomorrow!

Reunited and it feels so good…

…almost

A month's supply of the perfect iced coffee? Sorry Starbucks, I won't be needing you anymore.

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Today is the last day of the 24 Day Challenge.

Which means tomorrow is the first day of a renewed love affair with iced black coffee.

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then my heart has grown in Grinch-sized proportions over the past 24 days! Coffee…I’m coming home!

Disclaimer 1: Abstaining from coffee is not a rule for the 24 Day Challenge (although it is recommended for the 10 Day Cleanse Phase). It was my own rule just to give myself a much needed break from my favorite black beverage. And energy wise? I could totally live without coffee as an energy source – I have more energy than ever before now that I’ve started using AdvoCare products, revamped my diet, and integrated more challenging workouts into my routine. But heart wise? Oh, I’ve been so lonely without my little brewer put-put-puttering out coffee every morning! I learned that I love COFFEE in and of itself more than I thought I did…which is kind of unbelievable.

Disclaimer 2: Please do not mistake my enthusiasm for being reunited with coffee as enthusiasm that the 24 Day Challenge is ending. Far from it. I LOVED the Challenge, and it’s benefits reached much farther than just a new appreciation for coffee – full recap to come tomorrow!

I just posted this to beka stays, and it totally goes hand-in-hand with thriving, so I wanted to post it here too! Enjoy…and go Make Things Happen!

beka stays

About a year ago I blogged about taking the Making Things Happen Challenge.

(This is different from the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge I’m currently doing. Challenges and me? Apparently we’re tight!)

The Making Things Happen Challenge was to me like spinach was to Popeye. I felt more empowered than ever to take charge of my dreams and conquer fears of all kinds. Ever since then I’ve been praying about being able to attend a Making Things Happen workshop because, well, I can’t think of anything I’d like to attend more. (Packers game at Lambeau notwithstanding.) I’d really love to be able to harness whatever it is that is inside of me to do…and then DO it!

So when I saw the announcement for this year’s tour and the availability of scholarships, I wanted to enter an application immediately. But I decided to wait until I knew what I…

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on fishing and marathons

For a variety of individualized reasons, some people who take part in AdvoCare’s 24 Day Challenge experience immediate physical transformations.

So far, that hasn’t been my experience.

But I think my experience has been even better because of that.

No, I honestly do.

You know this adage?

Teach a man to fish.

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I feel like quick results are like giving a person a fish. But with the 24 Day Challenge, I’m learning how to fish for a lifetime.

How?

  1. The 10 Day Cleanse Phase reset my nutritional-food-choice compass. Vince Lombardi once said that, “Winning is a habit, just as losing is a habit.” I was in the habit of losing when it came to all things health-related. But sometimes all you need to right a repetitive series of bad decisions is a repetitive series of good decisions.
  2. The Max Phase includes the reintegration of regular dietary habits. You can choose to continue on the same meal plan as the Cleanse, but you can also choose to start eating “normally” again. Since my normal eating patterns – when not fueled by my emotions and/or sugar cravings – are pretty healthy as is, I chose to resume my regular whole foods diet.

For me, the 24 Day Challenge has been about regaining control of my health. I can actually taste food again because I’m not constantly consuming caffeine and sugar. I am working out with regularity and purpose again. My life is about more than what’s for dessert.

It’s so refreshing.

It’s also been about remembering that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Establishing good habits is the first victory. The rest will follow with consistent effort!

(This is a lesson I’m not apt to learn quickly. I have a hard enough time staying consistent as it is. Even more reason why these slow changes are good – physically and otherwise.)

Just do it (because you can!)

What kept me going during a 6 mile run this afternoon when I started to feel less-than-spunky around mile 3:

1. Nike Women’s Make Yourself Playlist

2. Fanfarlo by Atlas

3. Dicky V broadcasting the Duke/Florida State game

4. This quote

true

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5. This blog!

I finished the 6 miles red-faced and victorious and moderately sweat-soaked.

Sometimes the point of working out is to gain physical strength. But sometimes it’s more (WAY more) about building mental strength. Running those last 3 miles when I didn’t want to today did so much more for my mind than for my legs; I really don’t think that there’s anything so potently educational for your willpower as finishing a tough workout when you think you can’t. It teaches you that you CAN.

(And that ability doesn’t stop when the treadmill does.)

In the battle of enjoying frosting vs. enjoying life, enjoying life wins

no risk, no reward

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If you had asked me a few months ago if I would be interested in willingly giving up coffee, chocolate, and sugar for 10 – 24 days…I may not have been able to answer. I would have been too busy laughing.

But somehow, I decided to do just that.

And somehow, it’s becoming one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.

(Who am I?!)

This is why. Yesterday I completed the 10 Day Cleanse. And if I hadn’t been willing to temporarily part ways with my once-favorite food groups for that purpose, I would have missed out on:

  1. Feeling physically better than EVER. I have more energy and enthusiasm for my waking hours than I can ever remember. I feel awake and alert all day long! The credit for this is a 50/50 split: I’m taking amazing products from AdvoCare that fuel my body well, and I’m not undoing all of that good work by cramming my system full of sugar and caffeine.
  2. Feeling victorious. 10 days ago, this cake wouldn’t have stood a chance. I wouldn’t have eaten the whole thing in one sitting while watching a Pioneer Woman marathon (although…), but I would have certainly enjoyed an overindulgent portion. And then regretted it. And would have missed out on fully enjoying the ACTUAL DAY surrounding me – not just the food portion – a day filled with gorgeous warm sunshine and two kids who make me smile and gratitude for the life that I’m living right now. I would have been too busy calculating cake calories (or, let’s be honest, frosting calories) into gym minutes and then dividing the whole equation by a truckload of guilt. I would have traded something great (a beautiful day) for something good (frosting/cake/frosting).
  3. Feeling hopeful. I’ve only completed 10 days in the 50 day endeavor to turn things around before my birthday, but I feel like the Cleanse was a great way to do a system reset and start heading in the right direction. I feel like I’m starting to make positive choices and changes. You know, things like not having dessert after every meal. Or not counting getting the kids in and out of the car/carseats as a workout. But seriously, I’m forming nutrition and exercise habits that reflect the type of life I want to live.

At the beginning of the year I set out with a fresh focus. One of the themes for the year, something I say every morning, is from Artistotle: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” The 10 Day Cleanse helped me to make that quote true again. “Sacrificing” the things I had been clinging to – which were hindering my progress, not helping it – enabled me to take hold of better things.

Isn’t that usually the way it works? It’s just so hard to get to the relinquishing part.

But for me, it was a great trade.