Archive | February 2015

The Daniel Plan: Complete!

Today I had a small piece of mint Oreo pie and immediately felt like I needed fruit to balance it out. Pete made the pie for me to celebrate the end of the Daniel Plan/Valentine’s Day, and it is scrumptious, but I think I have a lower tolerance for sweets now. (That doesn’t mean I won’t continue eating a little here and a little there.)

The plan ended Friday and I waited until the next afternoon to have my first non-Daniel Plan morsel: a square of dark chocolate with sea salt from World Market. I was happy to know that I still adore chocolate, but I admit it wasn’t the hallelujah moment I thought it would be.

Overall, I’m really glad I did the Daniel Plan. Here are some good things that came of it:

  • I feel calmer. Not all the time, but in general. I’ve been less stressed with house work and with things that typically annoy me. I think it’s a combination of eating well, trying to get more sleep, exercising and making a point to read the Bible every day. Any one of those things can affect mood, but I think taken altogether, they can really pack a punch.
  • I feel good about myself. I feel like I’m doing myself a favor by trying to take care of the one and only body I’ll ever have.
  • I’ve experienced new things. I’ve tried several new recipes since this thing started. I even bought flax seed for the first time last week to add to my smoothies. (It’s high in fiber and Omega-3’s.) You can use it as a substitute for eggs, butter and oil, too, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve also discovered a slew of free workout videos. Pete added the All Fitness TV app to our Roku and I tried one of them this morning.
  • I learned more about Daniel. Reading through the book of Daniel in the Bible was fun for me. A couple of my favorite stories are included in that book, and as a whole, it was a great lesson in courage and faithfulness.

Here are some things I could have done better:

  • I still haven’t finished The Daniel Plan book. My bad. I had every intention of finishing it by now, but that hasn’t happened. I’m still going to read it all, though. The parts I have read are chock full of good advice.
  • I wasn’t great at checking in with friends. One focus of the Daniel Plan is friends. You’re supposed to encourage each other and hold each other accountable. I did that more with one of my friends than the other because I see her more, but that’s not the greatest excuse.
  • Fewer date brownies. I had my fair share of “healthy brownies”—made with dates—while on the plan. (I referred to these in my Week 3 blog post.) While I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, it was a bit of a crutch. Dates are still sweet, and it probably would have benefited me to take a cleaner break from anything sweet. My sweet tooth still craves chocolate some afternoons, but I’m getting better at blocking the craving by focusing elsewhere or munching on fruit instead.

So what now? Stuff my face with bacon cheeseburgers and ice cream? Decide No. From here, my goal is to keep up some of the good eating/fitness/focusing habits. If I feel better doing those things, why give it up?

If you missed it: Read Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4 of The Daniel Plan blog posts.

Disappointment

Around this time last year, I was writing an article on disappointment, and how our everyday letdowns tie into God’s faithfulness. It was for a series at work where we focused on different aspects of divine love. Now, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching and all the annual hubbub centered around love, I figured it’s a good time to repost the article here:

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“Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” —Isaiah 49:23

Disappointment is sneaky. It creeps in just as we’re feeling a little optimistic and deflates our hopes and dreams. It’s like a dark cloud slowly crowding out the light. That glimmer in our eyes quickly fades.

Maybe you have been disappointed when you didn’t get the job. Or did get the job and didn’t like it. Maybe you were disappointed that you failed the test or that your five-year plan didn’t pan out. Maybe you were excited about the new house but soon uncovered its many flaws.

Or perhaps you’ve been disappointed in your ungrateful spouse, in your kids’ bad behavior or in yourself for not being wiser, stronger, more patient.

As it turns out, that house you wanted, that man or woman you married, that job you got and the children you had aren’t perfect after all.

Disappointment leaves us jaded. Forget looking on the bright side. So long, enthusiasm. Once disappointment sets in, it’s harder to see all the good things about the one who disappointed you. It’s harder to be cheerful, to appreciate life’s blessings.

But God does not disappoint.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Think about that last word, “faithfulness.” That means that God pulls through. He’s loyal. He’s always here for us. He hears us, sees us and loves us unconditionally. Isaiah 49:23 says that those who hope in Him “will not be disappointed.”

But wait, you might say; of course God disappoints. That person you loved died of a terrible illness after you spent hours in prayer. God let you lose your job and allowed your family to drift apart. He knew you had that one dream and it never happened. He’s not answering you in time. He’s not giving you a break from all the suffering.

Then again, it’s not God’s job to do what we want anyway. And that’s good. Isaiah 55:9 puts it this way: “So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

God has our best interests at heart, and He wants us to live fulfilling lives (John 10:10). When we focus on Him—when we trust Him—our hope starts to outweigh our disappointment.

Read about 4 other aspects of divine love. 

The Daniel Plan: Week 4

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Mom and Dad got me new running gear for Christmas. The fitness part of the Daniel Plan has been more challenging than I thought it would be.

The past week has been a week of denial. By denial, I don’t mean, “Problem? What problem?” I mean denying myself things I would normally jump at.

Like a rare frappuccino at a coffee shop with a friend.

Or a bun for my hot dog at a chili dinner fundraiser.

Or some cookie cake at a Super Bowl party. (And cookie cake is seriously one of my favorite things.)

Then there’s leftover (and homemade) cookie cake at work.

Or red velvet cookies at work.

Or an opportunity for free froyo at Menchie’s this weekend.

The denial is endless. I also had to pass up Kit Kats and Snickers yesterday when I failed to pack enough in my lunch and made a trip to the vending machine.

“I’m off to find something gluten-free, sugar-free and non-dairy in the vending machine!” I told a co-worker. She wished me luck.

I was warned that kale doesn't smell good in the oven. It smells kind of like cooked spinach. Not exactly a pleasant aroma, if you ask me.

I was warned that kale doesn’t smell good in the oven. It smells kind of like cooked spinach. Not exactly a pleasant aroma, if you ask me.

I ended up with a package of what I thought were peanut butter crackers but ended up being Lance Nekot Cookies. Whoops. At least it had 1 gram of dietary fiber.

I did, however, try to make kale chips for the first time last week. I’d never even purchased kale before. Harris Teeter had a huge bundle of it for a buck!

I heard beforehand that you have to limit your olive oil use when you make kale chips. You’re supposed to put a little olive oil on them, then sprinkle salt and pepper on top and bake them, but I got too much olive oil on them and they came out half crunchy and half soggy. I still have a bunch left that I might try to make tonight.

So how about the other F’s mentioned in the Daniel Plan? Food is a biggie, but there’s also faith, friends, focus and fitness.

Faith. I slacked on my reading a bit last week, but the past few days have gone well. I’m on chapter 9 in the book of Daniel, and there are 12 chapters total. I want to finish the book by the end of my plan, which is 10 days from now. I’m also praying that I can make healthy choices each day and that I’ll crave good food instead of junk food.

Friends. Lots of people have asked me how the plan is going, which forces me to evaluate myself. I’ve also gotten a few yummy recipes from Joy. In fact, I’m using her hummus recipe tonight and maybe her baked fruity oatmeal recipe, too.

Focus. This one is a little harder to measure. I guess you could say I’m focusing on healthy eating goals when I decide to pass up stuff I can’t have, like cookies and cake.

Fitness. This has actually been harder than I thought it would be. I’ve always enjoyed working out, and I’m pretty good about exercising at least a few times a week, but the past couple of weeks have been so hectic that it’s been a struggle to make the time and find the energy to do some kind of exercise 6 days a week like the plan suggests. I do feel stronger, more focused and energetic when I exercise, though. I did work out when I got home last night and again this morning, so right now I’m feeling good. I’m also hoping to go for a run later this week. I meant to run last weekend (I’m trying to do it once a week), but then Anja had an unexpected vet visit, so plans changed. It’s also been frigid in the mornings and I don’t do cold.

One thing I’m disappointed in is my lack of discipline in reading more of The Daniel Plan book. I’ve read enough to know what I should and shouldn’t have or should and shouldn’t do, but I really wanted to have most of it read by now and I haven’t read any in the past few weeks. BUT…it’s never too late to start back up again. And if I want to make some permanent lifestyle changes, it will still be applicable even when the 40 days are up.

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A three-bean turkey chili I took to a Super Bowl party. Hearty and not bad for you.