Faith & Fitness Friday – 9/11/15

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Welcome to the Faith & Fitness Friday Link-Up, co-hosted by Raechel (@psyched2run) and Rachel (@mcmichaelrach).  The goal of the Faith & Fitness link-up is to create a fitness-focused community which shares in the joy of learning about and spreading the Good News.  The link-up will provide an opportunity for shared fellowship.   We hope you will join us each week in finding new ways to make scripture relevant to our lives!

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Discipline

 

S(cripture): See Image Above

O(bservation): Hebrews 12 is a chapter full of encouragement.  When we find ourselves in dark times, we need only read this chapter to receive a reminder of all we can, and should, endure in order to follow and worship Jesus.  Indeed, though the scripture we’ve chosen this week can be most easily applied to fitness, many other verses throughout the chapter speak to endurance: Hebrews 12:1, 3, 6, 7…the list goes on and on.  But we should rest assured that we, in considering Jesus, “will not grow weary and lose heart”, because all we experience in comparison to his death on the cross is minor. I think verses like this in the Bible help to keep us humble – to remind us that things are going on outside of our own tiny, focused worlds, and that we should reconsider our perspective.

A(pplication): Consider how you felt at the end of your last race.  Pictured above is me at the end of the 15K I ran in Paris, France.  Let me tell you how terrible that run was (or, I’d better not. You can read my race recap here.) To both shorten it and to give you waaayyy too much information, I had to poop for roughly 99% of this run. Badly. And it was too warm. And there were hills.

But you would never know it from my picture at the end (above, with my friend Sarah). At the end, I looked (and felt) AMAZING! Accomplished. Proud. Exhausted mentally and physically, but in that good way we crave.  In other words, after all was said and done, all the running produced “a harvest of…peace” for me.

Who finishes a race and thinks, man, I really regret doing that?

No one, that’s who.

So whenever you are having trouble getting up early when the alarm goes off. Or you feel like you just can’t possibly get your feet going for that run. Or the stress of work tells you to sit on the couch or take a nap instead of heading to the gym, remind yourself of this verse.  Remind yourself that, though you may not feel like training or being disciplined in this moment – when you reach your goal, a whole host of good feelings await you.  And at the end of it all, God’s grace awaits you.

P(rayer):  I pray today that God strengthens me.  That in my moments of weakness, he will gently lay this verse of scripture on my heart. That he will help me to shift my perspective from “oh, why God? Poor me, don’t make me, how come no one else struggles with this?” to “I’ve got this. It’s just one step at a time and I can take this step and then the next…and the next..and the next” so that I may finish strong.

What “race” are you training for? What seem to be your biggest struggles in training?  

 

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Faith & Fitness Friday – 9/4/15

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Welcome to the Faith & Fitness Friday Link-Up, co-hosted by Raechel (@psyched2run) and Rachel (@mcmichaelrach).  The goal of the Faith & Fitness link-up is to create a fitness-focused community which shares in the joy of learning about and spreading the Good News.  The link-up will provide an opportunity for shared fellowship.   We hope you will join us each week in finding new ways to make scripture relevant to our lives!

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FF90415

 

I have recently begun listening to a new sermon series (online) at my parent’s church (the pastor there married my husband and I). It is called “Word of God Speak” and it is about how to hear God (spiritually, not audibly) when reading the bible.  The church recommends that you journal daily about a certain section of the bible using the acronym SOAP. If you’re interested in more information, you can click here to learn about the bible reading plan, including the verses for each day. It’s very manageable and I have been journaling each night since last weekend.

SOAP stands for

Image from http://lifecenternorth.org/resources/bible-reading-plan/
Image from http://lifecenternorth.org/resources/bible-reading-plan/

 

So today, I want to apply the SOAP method to our Faith and Fitness verse, so you can see it in action. In order to do this, I’ve read all of 1 Corinthians 9.

S: Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. – 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

O: In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is discussing how and why he preaches the Gospel.  He discusses earlier in the chapter about how he has become like every person so that he may reap the benefits of spreading the word of God and living in the freedom of God. Often times we do not think of following Jesus as a freedom, but it does grant us spiritual freedom.  In the final section of the book, Paul is telling the people of the church in Corinth about how to approach their lives using the analogy of runners in a race. As he points out, when trying to win a race, every athlete goes into strict training to compete for a temporary prize. So he is telling us the prize we are after (which is everlasting life after death) is so much greater that we must train in the same way to achieve it.

A: In my own life, I think that God is speaking to me through this verse as a reminder that you can go awry in this life by always judging others and offering suggestions to them about how to improve. God wants me to remember that I must also discipline myself, not just others, so that I do not lose myself and my connection to him along the way.  In simpler terms, I think the verse is telling us to live, not just by example, but by super-example; if you are going to preach to others about (insert anything here), then you too must be willing to work hard to achieve your goals in that arena.

On a more literal fitness level, this bit about self-discipline is reinforcing what we’ve been learning over the past several weeks that in order to achieve our goals, we must be strict with ourselves. I do not think God means this to be restrictive, but just to remind us that without a plan to achieve our goals, without reaching out to him for help in achieving them, we will become frustrated and fall short of our potential.

P: My prayer to God is to give me strength. I hope over this next week (and the coming weeks, since I am training for a half marathon), God gives me the strength to remain disciplined. I have started a concrete training plan and have been doing pretty well on it for two weeks now.  I pray I continue to grow in my strength and running ability so that I may perform well in my race in December.

In addition, I pray that God will help me to apply this verse to my Bible Study. I have been very bad in the past at starting and stopping, but I am highly motivated now with the Word of God Speak bible reading plan (just one chapter a day, can be done in as little as 15 minutes) and I pray that he helps me to see my goals through in continuing with my study and journaling.

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I would encourage you to pick up a regular time you spend with God. I used to lay in bed at night and play Candy Crush until I fell asleep (or I ran out of lives). I decided to dedicate that 10-15 minutes instead to the Word of God Speak plan. Generally the dogs are asleep and my husband is asleep at this time, so I have that all to myself to spend with God. I actually use the Youversion bible app on my phone and even type in my journal entries directly to the app.  It saves them so I can go back and review what I’ve learned.

What is something going on in your life that you feel you could use a little more self-discipline in?

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Faith & Fitness Friday – 8/28/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to the Faith & Fitness Friday Link-Up, co-hosted by Raechel (@psyched2run) and Rachel (@mcmichaelrach).  The goal of the Faith & Fitness link-up is to create a fitness-focused community which shares in the joy of learning about and spreading the Good News.  The link-up will provide an opportunity for shared fellowship.   We hope you will join us each week in finding new ways to make scripture relevant to our lives!

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FFFWeek3

I think the really important part about this verse, which I didn’t really notice when I selected it, is what follows…”but mere talk leads only to poverty”.

This bit of scripture first and foremost, I think, is given to us to provide a sense of hope and reassurance that, once we put all of our heart and soul into something, the way last week’s scripture advised us, that we will reap the rewards.  And, we need only review some of the important things we’ve accomplished in our lives to see how this is true.

The above picture was taken at the end of my second Spartan Sprint race (at AT&T Park in San Francisco, July 2015).  I had put in a lot of time and effort to strength train in preparation for this race and, no only did I finish faster than I expected to, but I made it to the top of the rope climb – something I hadn’t been able to achieve at my first Spartan and was my main goal of this one.  The sheer joy I felt at the top of the rope – the absence of any fear that I might fall – the elation I felt afterward – those were my “profit” for all the hard work I had put into my training.

Now I find myself in another training situation (I’m running a half marathon in Portland, OR, in December) and at first I was sort of lackadaisical about it.  But the other night I sat down and planned out all of my running and gym time over the next 12 weeks and I’m buckling down.  I’m working hard and I can expect to achieve great things because this bit of scripture tells me I can (and I believe it).

But like most scripture, this verse also has a warning for us: “…mere talk leads only to poverty”. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “poverty” I tend to think about money.  But the definition of poverty is “the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount”, not only in regard to money.

This links back so beautifully with what we talked about last week – we need to work with all our hearts. We need to work “hard” to achieve what we are hoping for.  Because, as God is reminding us in the end of Proverbs 14:23, just talking about doing things doesn’t get us anywhere.  Without action, our words leave us in a state of need.  Without regular workouts, we are in need more more training for a big race. Without eating healthy, we are in need of more energy. Without getting enough sleep, we may find ourselves sick or weary.  Without reading the Bible on a regular basis, we are in need of spiritual fulfillment.

I think between last week and this week, across different books of the Bible, God is speaking to me loud and clear. He is reminding me to work hard, to put my best version of myself forward in all that I do, in all that is meaningful to me and to Him, and to not give up because, in the end, great profit and reward are coming from it.  Maybe that means feeling physically better on a day-to-day basis, maybe it is the pride of doing well in a race, or maybe it is referring to life after this one, where I surely will be regarded for my faith.  Whatever the reward, I can rest assured, if I work hard, it will be mine.

What things are you working hard for in your life? What is some of the best “profit” you’ve gained after working hard for something?

Don’t forget to link up with us!

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Faith & Fitness Friday – 8/21/15

work at it

Because I am new(-ish) to studying God’s word and especially to sharing my own thoughts about it, it took me a little while to identify with this week’s scripture from Colossians.  Indeed, it resonated first and foremost for me, not in regard to fitness, but in regard to my students.

Just this morning, a student who had previously failed my class copied and pasted some feedback I gave her last semester as an answer to an activity this semester.  When I was relaying this absurdity to my husband, he said (oh, so wisely) “If only they would spend half as much time working as they do trying to get out of working, they’d be really successful.” He hit the nail right on its big, fat head: my students (seemingly) are always trying to do the least amount of “work” possible.

To me, this verse is a reminder that we don’t reap great benefit, rewards, or success from doing the bare minimum.  As is the case with my students (unfortunately, little Miss Cheater in the above example is not my only one like this), doing the bare minimum does not get you a “C” (a passing grade) in my class.  A passing grade is earned by putting in more effort than just what is stated in the instructions.  Though this is something I tell them repeatedly, many students waste precious time and energy into devising “short-cuts” or “easy ways out”. And at the end of the semester, let me tell you, they are not happy with the results.

As Galatians 6:7 tells us, “whatever a man sows, this he will also reap”. 

So finally it dawned on me how this applies, directly and immediately, to a fitness hurdle I’m facing in this very moment (doesn’t the Word always find a way of speaking directly into our lives?): I am concerned with some recent weight gain and I’m struggling to find my way out of it.  I know what I need to do and I know exactly how to fix it, I’m just. Not. Doing. It.

I’ve looked at copyright laws for memes – they’re very gray. If this meme belongs to you, please send me an e-mail so I can attribute it properly.
I’ve looked at copyright laws for memes – they’re very gray. If this meme belongs to you, please send me an e-mail so I can attribute it properly.

 

I went to the gym today, bike shorts in hand, with the intention of spinning before my workout.  But I didn’t.  I just did a leg work-out and called it a day.

I went to dinner last night with friends and wasn’t going to order a beer or dessert, but I did.

I was thinking about running with my husband this morning, but I made an excuse not to.

So I have two options: I can put in the work I need to or I can be happy with the way I currently am.

But really, as the verse today tells us, I really have no choice at all.  I should embrace this challenge “enthusiastically”, knowing that God sees all and will reward my efforts.

And lastly, this brings us round to our study of the Bible.  I need to pursue this as well, with all my heart, knowing that in the end, there is a great reward that awaits me.  When I’m tired in the morning, I put off my daily reading.  When I have work to do, I put off writing my Faith & Fitness post.  But God doesn’t want me to put these things off.  He doesn’t want me to half-ass dedicate that time to him.  He wants me to embrace the Word, share the Word, and build community with others to whom this is also important.

What are some things you’re pursuing in your life that could be jump-started by today’s verse?

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How to Blog (for Beginners)

Starting a Fitness Blog

I started my blog in December of 2013, honestly, on a whim. Some companies I contacted for giveaways were responsive and so I was feeling like it was a great idea.

In its original inception, the idea for my blog was to blog about science related to running, fitness, and health in general.  I did some really interesting (at least to me) posts in the beginning:

                 What we think about while running

                 My personal struggle with depression and how running helps with that 

                 What does it mean to be mentally tough?

                How music (doesn’t really) help you when running

                How not to be duped by stupid stuff on the internet that looks like real science 

And those are just a few of my favorite posts.

But here I am, 1.5 years later, with a decent number of followers on social media, one brand ambassadorship, and about two people who read my blog (my mom and maybe some rando on the interweb).  And I want more.  I want to reach more people, more often.  Maybe what’s holding me back is a belief that people aren’t really going to be that interested in what I have to say.

When I first started, I just went in full steam ahead without really doing any leg work. I had read that you needed to have a strong point of view and something to offer readers that they’d actually be interested in.  I had that, so I thought I’d be golden.  Not so much.

So, in a quest to improve my blog (when I, in fact, know next to nothing about blogging), I’m going to scour the internet and summarize the best of what I find here for you (in case you’re a newbie like me).

What are some of your struggles you face as a blogger? What tips or tricks have worked for you to improve your blog?

Faith & Fitness Friday – 8/14/15

1 Timothy 4:8 scripture

Welcome to the Faith & Fitness Friday Link-Up, co-hosted by Raechel (@psyched2run) and Rachel (@mcmichaelrach).  The goal of the Faith & Fitness link-up is to create a fitness-focused community which shares in the joy of learning about and spreading the Good News.  The link-up will provide an opportunity for shared fellowship.   We hope you will join us each week in finding new ways to make scripture relevant to our lives!

 

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So this is our first-ever Faith & Fitness Friday Link-Up and I, for one, am totally stoked. Being the scientist that I am, it may surprise you to learn that I think of myself as a Christian – given that science can’t really answer the question about whether God exists or not.  However, I do not think science and religion always need to be at odds with one another.  For me, I say let science answer the questions it can and let faith do the rest.  So, to topics that fall under the scientific method umbrella – research away!  But for questions of the heart and of the soul, I turn to the Bible.

I will be honest – I’m not good at reading the Bible consistently.  We are in more of an on-again, off-again relationship.  However, I find that when I’ve spent too long away from the Word, things in my life just seem to go downhill.  Then, when I begin to pray and spend more time with God, things get better.  Just recently, for example, our little dachshund (Rudy) had to have back surgery and was recovering at home, but he didn’t seem to be doing well at all.  I buckled down, started a new reading plan (New Testament in 30 Days), prayed before I went to bed at night, and he has been steadily improving.  Some might choose to call that coincidence, but I don’t.

So, in an effort to (1) read the Bible more consistently and (2) write blog posts more consistently, I came up with the idea for this link-up.  This week’s scripture comes from 1 Timothy 4:8 and says:

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

I think this verse is a great reminder that, above all else, we need to spend time learning about God and spending time in his word.  Many of us are girlfriends, wives, mothers, friends – all roles that eat up an incredible amount of our time.  In addition, we have goals we have set for ourselves (maybe in the fitness arena, maybe in other areas of our lives) that we are scheduling time to achieve.  To me, this verse is a clear endorsement for God first, all of these things after.  In caring for ourselves spiritually, we will find the freedom to enjoy the other, “busier”, parts of our lives.

This link-up is a vision I have of creating an online community where we can spread the word, discuss and learn new things, lift one another up, and hold one another accountable. In other words, it will help us with our “training in godliness”. Many thanks to Rachel McMichael for her enthusiasm and support in co-hosting this link-up.

Please use the widget below to link-up your own post about how Faith and Fitness are related. I can’t wait to meet you and read your thoughts!

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POW

POW

 

POW is the latest and (in my opinion greatest) product from EBOOST.

I am a brand ambassador for EBOOST because the science supports the ingredients found in their products.  For over two years now I have been using their powders for a natural energy boost (works better for me than coffee) and their energy shots as a pre-workout supplement.

When EBOOST released POW, the Ambassadors were the first group to try it.  I was skeptical at first, thinking that this couldn’t really be too much better than what they’ve already got.

My first time using POW was before an early-morning spin class.  It was my first spin class in a long time and I was really worried, especially since it was 5:30am.  At first I was really worried – I got this intense tingling/itching sensation in my face and arms – any place where blood was rushing to as a result of exercising at a high intensity.  The good folks at EBOOST assured me this was a natural reaction to the Beta-Alanine and it would likely decrease over time (in my research, I found out this is called parasthesia, which is a common side effect, even at low doses).  But then, as I kept at it, I realized my mind was perfectly clear and I didn’t have any sense of fatigue – mental or physical.

Since that first morning, I use POW before almost every workout – cardio and weights alike.

But personal experience is not enough – as a good scientist, I want to make sure I do my due diligence.  So here goes.  The biggest caveat is that there is no way for me to verify how much of each active ingredient is in POW (when comparing it to research doses).

  • Beet Root Juice – The claim is that “nitrates” and “betalains” promote nitric oxide levels and act as an anti-inflammatory.

    • There is a plethora of evidence showing that high concentrations of beet juice increases physical performance in animals and humans.  However, a study in 2012 showed that when cyclists ingested an amount that more closely simulates an actual dietary amount, there were no changes in time trial performance, power output, or heart rate (Cermak et al., 2012).  At high enough amounts, though, the amount of time people can exercise can be extended by consuming beet root juice (Wylie et al., 2013).

  • Beta Alanine – The claim is that this increases carnosine levels in muscles and improves muscle endurance.

    • Lots of complex science, blah blah blah – basically put, beta-alanine availability is what limits muscles’ ability to make carnosine, carnosine is necessary for pH buffering, and pH buffering is what prevents muscle fatigue. In a review article by Sale, Saunders, and Harris (2010), the authors concluded that supplementation with beta-alanine can improve physical endurance, especially in high intensity exercise, after four weeks of regular consumption.

    • In a study looking at the more immediate effects of beta-alanine supplementation on women runners, perceived exertion ratings were lower in the supplement group but no meaningful physical changes occurred (Smith et al., 2012).

    • As recently as 2014, the reviews are still mixed as to the ability of beta-alanine to improve physical performance and some concerns that side effects are, in general, under-reported (Quesnele et al., 2014). This means you need to monitor your own reactions to it closely and quit using it if you experience anything even slightly adverse.

  • Calcium Fructoborate – The claim is that this ingredient can improve joint flexibility and mobility when used consistently for at least a week.

    • In a recent study by Pietrzkowski and colleagues (2014), participants showed less knee discomfort one week and two weeks after being supplemented with calcuium fructoborate at 220mg per day.  At a similar dosage, indices of inflammation were reduced in people with knee osteoarthritis (Reyes-Izquierdo et al., 2011).

    • A bonus impact of calcium fructoborate is that, at 110mg/day, participants saw a reduction in total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides, and other blood markers of cardiovascular disease.  This means calcium fructoborate might help increase heart health when taken every day for a month (Rogoveanu et al., 2014).

  • Carbonates – Intended to promote pH balance

    • In well-trained men, supplementation with bicarbonates (thought to buffer lactic acid), did not lead to performance improvements (Stephens et al., 2002).

    • Although a review paper in 1993 showed very mixed results from bicarbonate supplementation (Matson & Tran, 1993), other research indicates that taking sodium bicarbonate before a high intensity workout leads to improved recovery after the fact (Percival, 2014).

    • A 2015 study indicates that taking bicarbonates before exercise can improve exercise tolerance and reduce perceived exertion (Krustrup, Ermidis, & Mohr, 2015).

  • DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) – To boost mood

    • An interesting thing happened when I tried to find out more about DMAE.  It appears to be used to treat mild cognitive impairments in people with dementia and to treat mood in people suffering from ADHD/ADD and to provide a slight stimulant effect without any withdrawal (Tabassum & Ahmad, 2015).  However, there are little to know individual references that support the claims in this paper.   Typically, DMAE is not used alone, but in conjunction with other nutrients, and is proposed to work by increasing brain levels of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter related to many behaviors including sleep and mood).

  • Nicotinyl-GABA (picamilon) – For boosting mood and cerebrovascular function

    • Most published research on this supplement is not in English. However, it is known as a “cerebral vasodilator” – meaning it increases blood flow to the brain.

    • Knowing what I do about the brain, it makes sense that increasing blood flow to the brain (and thereby increasing oxygen and glucose delivery) may improve brain function.  However, I’m not sure how any significant changes in this would be measured.

  • N-acetyl-tyrosine – Involved in mood regulation and general feelings of energy

    • I could only find research that tested this ingredient as part of a workout supplement.  That being said, there appears to be little to no existing scientific research on the use of n-acetyl-tyrosine with regard to mood and energy.

Overall, after doing the research, it would appear that only a few of the ingredients that make up the “Superenhancer Blend” in POW may have some scientific evidence to support its use as a pre-workout supplement.  Of those, I think the most support is for beta-alanine, calcium fructoborate, and bicarbonates.  In general, these ingredients appear to increase exercise tolerance and have overall antioxidant effects on the body.

For me, I think I’ll keep using POW.  I feel a level of mental clarity and ability to persevere during hard exercise that I don’t feel when not supplementing with POW.  I still use the packets and shots for a little pick-me-up during the day or as a general immunity supplement.

 

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Want to try POW for yourself? Be on of the first 10 people to send me an email (psyched2run@gmail.com) with your mailing address to receive a free sample! Ready to buy? Use code “BASOICHER25” for a 25% discount*.

*Disclaimer: I receive commission from the use of this discount code.