Tagged: growth

Beauty in the Ashes

 

To all of those who have supported us and followed our journey on my fitness website and social media with our sweet and precious daughter Angelina Hope, I am saddened to share that she has passed into the loving arms of Jesus on May 25th, 2014.(Due to heart complications with her hypertrophic cardiomyopathy ) I was hesitant about sharing this journey, God has boldly placed this on my heart over the last year, and am overjoyed as I have finally opened up my computer to find a small story on Angelina’s life.  A story that we can continue to share, to bring hope, to have for Ava and Amelia as they get older to read and to reflect on during the healing process. The texts, e-mails, and messages have helped carry us through these past 5 months and are appreciated beyond words. To the nurses who cared for Angelina, thank you isn’t enough. We have received countless messages about how Angelina’s story has impacted lives, mended relationships, and brought people closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.Here is what’s been on my heart this month.I can’t believe it’s November.With every falling leaf, deep blue October sky and for some reason those extremely strong scented pine cones that giant eagle and Marc’s put out two months before Christmas I am reminded constantly of our dear sweet Angelina. It was this time last year that I was heading to the Doctor every 2-3 days. We knew of Angelina’s congenital heart defects and possible down syndrome diagnosis. I remember last fall as if it was just yesterday. The memories bring a flood of constant emotion that I can’t explain. I remember canning 20 jars of salsa, tomato soup, yellow peppers and pizza sauce saying to myself. “We can do this, God wouldn’t give us anything we can’t handle.” It’s how I got through, constant prayer and faith. I asked God to protect Angelina in the womb and after she was born. I asked him to give us all strength, for our path was uncertain with our sweet baby.

We were beyond thrilled to meet our little bundle of joy. I remember the first time Angelina locked eyes with me. Angelina had the most incredible deep blue eyes with tiny white spots around the outer part of her iris ( called brushfield spots which can be seen in children with down syndrome). It was as if she looked deep into my soul and just knew me (something my mom would also often say as well as a special friend of mine). Angelina had a way about her, she could speak without even saying a word.

NICU November 2013

NICU November 2013

The first night in the hospital as we laid on our hospital beds learning of Angelina’s diagnosis. I remember Dennis looking at me and saying: ” I know we prayed for Angelina to be healed, but I truly believe she came to heal us.”

I remember really struggling that first night. I wanted Angelina to be in our hospital room and not in the NICU. I wanted to be able to snuggle her and nurse her. I was unable to. It was in that moment that I went and stayed with her and fed her through a little syringe while she was in an incubator. It was those first moments with her in the middle of the night, after a 12 hour labor and walking the halls of the hospital during my induction (refusing an epidural because I wanted to be there for her after labor) and the most tired and emotional state of my life that Angelina taught me how to love. A love that runs so deep, a love that is unconditional, and a love that is everlasting. This type of love exhibits how Christ loves us.

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height. To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17-19

NICU November 2013

NICU November 2013

We loved on Angelina as we began to get to know her. We never allowed her extra chromosome to define her and will continue to take a stance to share her story and spread awareness. She was our daughter that happened to have one amazing extra chromosome.  She had the cutest chubbiest neck, a crazy toe (two conjoined toes), a sweet little tongue that always was sticking out at us(which we LOVED and miss so much) and was the most incredible snuggler. She was the most pleasant little baby to be around. Amidst the storms during her life, her countless doctors appointments, an urgent hospital stay, a rare and complex diagnosis that was unexpected and an open heart surgery reflecting back Dennis and I constantly say to each other that this was Angelina’s journey “ You formed me in my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” -Psalm 139:13-16, how God intricately formed her and she brought so much joy to our lives and continues to do so. This is part of our family’s story. Which is part of God’s plans for our life which is a part of something so much bigger.

“But the plans of the lord stand firm forever. The purposes of his heart through all generations.” -Psalm 33:11

When I think about our family and how close Angelina has brought all of us, it truly brings me to my knees in a utter state of emotion. Helping us, being there for us, and supporting our every step. They loved on Angelina in such a remarkable way. That little girl is so loved and will continued to always be loved. I chuckle as I recall a time that my sister-in-law came to the hospital and stayed with me in the NICU. I was going on 20 days of not a lot of sleep, never recovering from childbirth and we both slept in Angelina’s room” well tried at least”. Monitors buzzing, pumping, the squeaky chairs, a crazy floor, constant commotion, and Angelina topped it off with pulling out her feeding tube at 2am. We laughed together most of the night as we come to a point of over tiredness. She was such a feisty little thing that night. I chuckle when I remember Dennis famous last words. “She’s a VOLPE, SHE DOESN’T NEED A FEEDING TUBE.” She indeed learned to eat a bottle on her own with lots of patience and help from amazing therapists.

NICU November 2013

NICU November 2013

Which brings me to my next thought. Ava and Amelia shared a bond with Angelina that I can’t describe. The last week of Angelina’s life she was extremely fussy and uncomfortable. My mom was able to see Angelina completely change her mood the moment Ava and Amelia entered the room at the hospital. She stopped crying the moment she heard their voices and completely turned her body around reaching for Ava. Ava was able to get in bed with Angelina and bring her so much comfort that day. These are the moments that we cherish. These and countless other memories are how we remember our sweet baby girl.

Ava and Angelina in the PICU 2014

Ava and Angelina in the PICU 2014

In Angelina’s final days I came to a realization that hope isn’t how we want  situation and circumstances to turn out. Hope is placing your total trust in Jesus. Hope is trusting that his hand is upon any trial, suffering or situation in our lives. Life in this world is tough and by hoping in Christ and being in constant relation with him, we are able to find the strength no matter what hardship comes our way to venture the  path he has laid before us and our final stop is heaven.

“Our soul waits for the Lord. He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him. Because we have trusted in his holy name. Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in you”. Psalm 33:20-22

For the rest of my days I will never ever forget what Dennis brother said to us the night Angelina gained her wings and entered the gates of heaven. “She did in 6 months what it takes most people to accomplish in a lifetime.” “Honor her memory by how she changed you.” We will spend our days honoring Angelina’s life by how she indeed radically changed our lens of thinking. Seeing life with such a different perspective.

Appreciating the beauty and hardship in life. I have come to a conclusion that we all will suffer. At some point we all will endure difficulties in life. We can either allow them to slowly kill our soul and become bitter or we can allow them to transform us. To grow us and to find joy in life’s hardest circumstances. I found this scribbled on a piece of paper and I have no idea where I found it: “take your deepest sorrow and weave it into a pattern for good.” Through our healing we will become refined and  help others heal and overcome obstacles. God reminded me weeks after Angelina passed to continue to press forward: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 3:14

I recently have been on a reading kick during this season and am reading a book called: Restless By: Jennie Allen.

Jennie writes this: ” Sure our stories lead us toward our purposes, but they also make us into people strong enough to fulfill our purposes. To build a picture of your story-the events that have shaped you-is a powerful and beautiful thing”.

This is Angelina Hope’s story.

Our Angel April 2014

Our Angel April 2014

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast….” -Hebrews 6:19

When we reflect and look back on Angelina’s life there was so much purpose, strength and beauty in her life. Each day we think about you every moment little girl, and will continue to, until we join you and hold you again in heaven. Little girl your life was filled with so much beauty. You left such beauty in your ashes. We miss you more than words can describe. We are trying to figure out what our new normal looks like without you. We love you so much.

Words can’t describe how thankful I am for my beautiful friend Nicole who captured this image and many more with our sweet baby girl

 

 

30 Minute treadmill workout – four ways to spice up your running routine

Here I am getting ready to hit the mill

Once the middle of March hits the excitement that my treadmill brought me at the beginning of January usually begins to slowly loose it’s luster. At first it’s exciting to start back into a new training plan and over time things start to get a little mundane. This is when I like to spice things up in my running routine. It depends exactly what my goals are during the specific season of life I am in, but over the years these four ways to spice up your running routine listed below have always left me continuing to love my treadmill instead of dreading it after my 30 minute treadmill workout is completed.

I love to use the treadmill to help train for competing in local road races, to loose baby weight from pregnancy,  to stay in shape, and to fit in my summer bikini. I have often used the 30 minute treadmill workout as a way to get a quick burst of cardio in to accompany my lifting and flexibility routine. I try to have a lot of balance when it comes to my training program incorporating cardio, weight and flexibility training spread through out the week. 30 minute treadmill workouts help me get my cardio in when I can’t get to the gym to participate and teach  group exercise classes or outside to run at local trails. Our cardiovascular health is important and here are a few reasons why:

The 2011 American college of Sports Medicine guidelines recommend either doing 30 minutes moderate-to-intense cardio workout at a pace that works up a light sweat, fives days a week or a 20 minute vigorously intense cardio workout three days a week.  If you are looking to loose weight and improve your fitness level 30-60 minutes of moderate-to-physical activity five times a week is necessary. Benefits of a 30 minute treadmill workout is boosting the health of your heart, increasing your all around cardio fitness, burns calories and fat (helping you loose or manage your weight), increases energy levels, and helps with stress.

This past winter I have been trying to ease back into my workout plan and shed around 25 pounds I gained from the birth of my third child. I have slowly worked my way back into running and started walking 15 minutes and jogging for a few minutes and gradually have worked myself back up to 30 minutes. You can adjust your speed to where you feel comfortable using each of the four ways to spice up your running routine listed below (listen to your body and start gradually).

Over time make sure that these four ways to spice up your running routine seem challenging. What happens as we begin to get stronger and more fit our bodies begin to adapt to our training program. This often leaves us not seeing the results that we are hoping  and decreases our perseverance in our training  plan. This is when you can adjust that speed dial to a  faster and more challenging speed (I look at is as graduating to the next level, which is a huge deal showing consistency and hard work!).

It’s important to apply the overload principle and change up your workouts every 6-8 weeks. When exposing our body to the overload it makes it work harder then it normally would have to work, improving our fitness level and helping to prevent our bodies from plateau. Plateau happens when we constantly do the exact same workout for weeks at a time. Over time our bodies start to adapt to our workouts and we won’t see the results we once saw in the beginning. Changing up your workouts help you challenge your body in different ways, reduces chance of over-use, and injury.

30 Minute Treadmill Workout – Four ways to Spice up your Running Routine:

1.15 Minutes- moderately hard in which you could have conversation if you were running with someone and the last 15 minutes pick up the pace to were you are unable to hold that conversation. I do this often on Monday morning after the weekend  when I feel tired and unmotivated. I give my body about 15 minutes of getting back into the groove for the week and then the last 15 minutes I hit it hard. This is also a great way to train your body to become stronger at the end of the race or workout, really burn some calories fast, and to help change over foot speed and pace if your training for road races .

2. Circuit your running. I use this midweek when a 30 minute treadmill workout just seems like to long to be on my treadmill. I’ll do 5 minutes on the treadmill, 1 minute explosive plyo-metric drill (jumping jacks, box jumps, high knee’s) followed by a set of lifting (depending on the day back and biceps, chest and tricep or legs and shoulders), followed by 2-3 minutes of lifting. I will circuit this until I have completed 30 minutes on my treadmill.

3. Interval using a 3:1 ratio. I will run three minutes hard and run comfortably hard for a minute to allow some recovery time. Repeat until you’ve reached 30 minutes.

4. Hill repeats. I will use the incline and run a pretend hill every 5 minutes for a minute or instead of hills just run quick bursts of sprints throughout the duration of the workout. doing this for 30 seconds at a time.

Each of these 30 minute treadmill workouts have really helped me beat boredom and make those thirty minutes of cardio conditioning fly by!

What’s your favorite thirty minute treadmill workout?

Blessings, Michelle

Benefits of Fitness

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Here are me and my oldest before I was heading out to speak to a group of women about the benefits of fitness

This past weekend I was able to speak to a group of moms about the benefits of fitness. I have a passion for spreading awareness about the many benefits of fitness and how they can have such a positive impact on your health. I also have a passion for sharing my core beliefs as a personal trainer: “making fitness a habit of daily living.” I told these ladies: “you have to find what you love and go with it”. Schedule thirty minutes to yourself each day to fit fitness in your daily routine. I am notorious for disappearing to my treadmill during the day even if I only have a quick thirty minutes. I grab my headphones, running shoes, and disconnect with the craziness of life and connect to a world that allows me to process my thoughts, connect with God and reap the benefits of fitness. When I am able to take care of myself, I am able to take better care of my family and those around me.

For many women it’s hard to find your niche in the fitness world. I suggest when you are searching for a type of workout you enjoy to try many different forms of working out before you decide what you love the most. Try it a handful of times before you make a decision. When you enjoy something you are going to go right back to it and repeat it again. Making it a daily habit. If you have had a negative experience you are going to hesitate to allow yourself to go back to it again. This is when you may need the help of a personal trainer or friend to get you started in the right direction and encourage you to keep searching until you find what feel most comfortable to you while exercising. Personal trainers help clients understand the benefits of fitness and create training programs that will help them stay consistent to their workouts and goals.

When I asked the women: “How Can you Make Fitness Fun?”

I received answers like: “meet up with a friend to workout, group exercise, workout with your spouse and compete for a cause”

Here are some benefits of fitness that I briefly touched on when speaking to these women:

-helps with stress relief

-helps manage health problems

-helps boost the health of your heart, helping improve your ability to burn calories managing your weight

-strength training helps our muscles work more efficiently and keeps our bones strong

-flexibility (stretching) helps prevent injuries and provides mobility of joints and muscles

-our body is better able to perform the tasks of daily living

Once you figure out what you enjoy while working out, schedule a time to workout each day, and if finding what you enjoy or understanding how to build a workout program is overwhelming to you and you understand how important the benefits of fitness are I would love to help you create a fitness regimen that is tailored to fit the needs of your specific lifestyle.

Blessings and Live Fit, Michelle

Fitness challenge 2014 | Keeping it Simple

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Don’t you get tired of hearing the slogan new year, new you?

We all are in completely different places in both our physical and spiritual journey.

Currently I am in a season of challenge, change, and caring for a newborn. You can read more about my precious new babies condition on this post: life with my new baby girl

This challenge isn’t about a diet, weight loss, or setting yourself up for vigorous goals you will be unable to achieve.

I’m a firm believer that we expect results to fast, we set our expectations extremely high and in the end give up on ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong weight loss done healthy, cutting calories when the are unnecessary are each equally important. Setting up a fitness regimen is just as important, but before all that and stressing yourself out lets think habits and lifestyle change.

Creating a healthy lifestyle is about setting yourself up for lifelong Success, one tiny step at a time. Setting short term goals for yourself that you are able to achieve will help build the confidence you need to give you energy to chase after your next goal.

How this challenge works:

I have never done a challenge specifically like this on my blog so I’m excited and nervous to see how it works out. It may be messy but together we will figure this out.

1. Like live fit women’s fitness page on Facebook here is the link: Live Fit Women’s Fitness

2.Follow Live Fit Women’s Fitness blog via e-mail to receive updates on how to form healthy habits all year long, get yourself out of your rut, reach your goals, nutrition tips, recipes, simple fast workouts, inspiration and accountability.

3. Write two short term goals you want to tackle by the end of this month on a piece of paper. Take a picture and post them on either live fit’s Facebook page, my instgram or twitter account. (Hashtag #livefitin2014) (Hang them in a place that you will able to view them often)

Example of a short term goals:

Work out three times a week for a month, drink 8 glasses of water a day, no eating after 8pm, no sweets only on the weekend, eat fruits and vegetables everyday for a month instead of chips and pop.

Example of long-term goals:

Loose 20lbs, train for a half-marathon, start a weight training regimen to build more muscle mass.

4. Each week I will feature a scripture verse for you to jot down on a notecard, memorize, and keep in mind for the week. Think about your two goals for the month and on Monday I’ll feature the verse of the week.

5. You are able to share(Facebook, instgram, twitter) throughout the month how these simple short term goals helped you form healthier habits that you can carry out throughout 2014. People who participate and send me a short story on how this helped them get on track both physically and spiritually for the new year will be featured on my blog in February.

I will be documenting my journey on all of my social media outlets. Let’s start by taking tiny steps together and achieving two short term goals together this month!

Don’t harp on yourself if you have a bad day. Pull yourself back onto the road to sucess. The sooner you start, the sooner the results will start to show! Let’s have fun! Ready. Set. Go!

Blessings, Michelle

Tone it Tuesday

Hey live fit,

This is anther one of my go to moves. A cutesy squat with a lat row. Working the Glute muscles and lat muscles In the back. It’s great to alternate sides and get that heart rate pumping.

If you want to modify here: quarter squat or just take out the lat row.

If you are looking to tone 12-15 reps, 3-4 sets, if your weight seems light the last 3 reps of your last set then maybe it’s time to grab a set of heavier weights (3-5lbs).

Fit tip:machines in the weight room are great. Free weights give us the opportunity to use weights more functionally as we would doing our daily activities. They also are a great way to increase your heart rate.

The Benefits of Canning Fresh Vegetables

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Hey Fitness Friends!

Over the past two weeks I have been in full swing of harvest season. If you have a home garden you are probably reaping the benefits of all your hard labor throughout spring and summer. If you don’t have a green thumb or a passion for gardening you can also visit local farmers stands, flea markets and even super markets to buy fresh vegetables to incorporate into your meal planning.

Whatever the case nothing is better then fresh vegetables straight from the vine that supply a wealth of nutrients to our bodies. The best part is knowing where they came from, watching them grow(especially if you have children) and being rewarded for all the hard effort you put forth.

Canning and gardening is a lot of work. I often times compare it to our workout regimen. It’s a lot of effort up front but as time goes on we start to reap the benefits of canning all winter-long. Just as if we stay consistent with our exercise and eating habits we begin to develop stronger muscles, our clothes fit differently and we start to think twice about eating that bag of potato chips.

I often joke with my husband, I tell him I belong in a more primitive era! But that’s beside the point!

Here are a few benefits I have found from home canning:
1. SAVES US MONEY and TIME!
2. Clean eating straight from the garden all year long
3. Power outage, winter blizzard? No worries we can find something to eat in our canning cellar home canned goods can last up to 4 years
4. The veggies we have canned are not exposed to harmful pesticides
5. Less sugar, salt, and preservatives
6. Tomatoes offer vitamins A, C, K, folate, and potassium. The longer they are cooked the more lycopene (a cancer fighting antioxidant) is released

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some of my home canning recipes. If this is something you find that you could quickly get interested in, I suggest taking a look at this website to help you collect the materials needed to can and find recipes that will suit your family. I only can what I know we use a lot of. I have learned over the past six years how to incorporate what I am canning to make it useful in our family meal planning. More Canning Information

Here is a quick List of what I re-stock in my cellar each year:
whole tomatoes
tomato juice
salsa
homemade tomato soup
pickles
pepper mustard
banana peppers
tomato marinade
zucchini relish

A couple things I freeze:
homemade pizza sauce
green bell peppers
tomatoes
sweet corn
egg plant

I’ll never forget all the hot summer days I spent with my father a small produce farmer, picking corn, clipping beans, and watching his mother make a peach jelly that was incredibly tasty. I love watching my daughters sprint to the garden and pick tomatoes and fight over who is going to help me in the kitchen. Give one canning recipe a try this year. Slowly incorporate this into your late summer routine. It makes me feel accomplished in knowing I can provide my family with the freshest vegetables all year long. You will love grabbing a fresh jar of salsa on a cold winter night or using fresh tomato juice for your favorite soup recipe!

Blessings, Enjoy Your Holiday

-Michelle

Why Weights? Part 2

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(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

Good Afternoon Fitness Friends,

Here is our second segment on Why Weights? if you didn’t get a chance to read our first segment on weight lifting it covered the benefits of why lifting weights is so important to incorporate into your fitness routine. Today I am going to talk about some resistance training guidelines.

Resistance Training Guidelines:

1. If you are new to weight lifting, find an experienced friend or partner that can offer feedback, assistance, check your technique and help keep you motivated.
2. Select a minimum to 8 to 10 exercises targeting major muscle groups
3. Training each muscle group for 2-4 sets and 8-12 repetitions
4. If you are just beginning a workout routine ease into it with 1 or more sets of 10-15 repetitions for the first month really focusing on your form and postural alignment
5. Resistance training for each major muscle group should be performed 2-3 days per week on nonconsecutive days, separated by at least 48 hours
6. Use a full range of motion
7. performing each exercise in a slow, deliberate and controlled manner.
8. Don’t hold your breath! Here is a great article explaining how to breath during exercise from Spark People.com and it also has some great video demo’s with different exercises explaining when to inhale and exhale during weight lifting. Breathing During Exercise

Reference-NETA Fitness Professionals Manual

What is postural alignment? Postural alignment when we are focusing on good posture. Our Chin is up, shoulder blades nice and tall, and abdominals are compressed. Our feet our hip width apart, weight evenly distributed on each foot. Postural alignment is important in preventing injury and making each exercise effective.

What is full range of motion? Range of Motion

Resistance Training during Pregnancy helps women from loosing muscle mass and here are some safe exercises that can be performed: Bicep curls, shoulder raises, chest press (back supported, on an inclined bench), triceps extensions, and leg lifts.

Blessings, I hope this information will help you on your fitness journey. Find a friend, keep good form and postural alignment, remember to breath, make sure to rest and exercise each major muscle group on nonconsecutive days and next week I will write on how to formulate a exercise routine that will target the major muscle groups.