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Resources we find interesting and helpful

If You Could Rewrite Your Life Without Limitations, How Would It Look? 

If You Could Rewrite Your Life Without Limitations, How Would It Look? 

by Deinno O'Keefe

For so long I embraced limitations. Most of those limitations were self-imposed limitations. These limitations became my excuses and my deterrents. Limitations, like fears, are lies in your life. Where do these limitations even come from? We shout out, “I’m not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, tall enough, pretty enough, fit enough, athletic enough.” I could go on and on.  Some of you walk around with the weight of other people’s opinions on your shoulders. Some of you have accepted a limitation that isn’t yours, but instead have accepted a limitation based on what has happened to you. Here is the problem: the limitations you embrace will regulate the beauty of the story you write. Every day we are penning another paragraph, every year we write another chapter to our story.  People we see as successful have learned to rewrite their story without limitations.  They decided there is no limit to their potential and that’s what makes their story great. You need to break free. 

Here’s how to rewrite your story without limitations: 

Re-align your mission focus 
When you focus on a certain limitations, it gives you tunnel vision. Essentially, it prevents you from seeing the bigger picture or the grand mission. There is a lot of noise in the world and with distractions growing as fast as the technology, it really takes understanding your goals and eliminating the things that don’t align.      

Build confidence 
Never stop learning. Whether you are learning a new instrument, learning a different language or simply reading more, continue investing in your self-development. The more you know and understand, the greater your confidence level. A second piece to building your confidence is self-talk. This is instrumental to your confidence level. The key here is using positive affirmations about yourself. Tell yourself you can do it and it’s only a matter of time before your self-talk matches your actions. 

Think bigger 
Your goals should make you nervous and force you to the next level. Half the battle is a mental battle. Don’t lower your expectations and except the same results.  

Stop comparing yourself to others 
When you compare yourself to others, you add an unnecessary burden on your shoulders. These burdens come in the form of insecurities, discontentment, or envy and limit your perspective on the goals you create and set for yourself.    

Find and be YOU 
When you are not comparing yourself to others, you are free to be you. A lot of times, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We downplay our abilities when we are actually powerful beyond measure when we put in the time, effort and dedication. If you know who you are then you know who you are not. If you don’t know who are you then people, circumstances and things will dictate the YOU. In the world today, there are so many things to hide behind, be it make up, filters, cars, jobs, etc.  Over time, we begin to lose ourselves and forget ourselves.  There’s freedom in being YOU.    

So I leave you with this: Step over that limitation, don’t let it stop you from moving. Forget about your past, because we all have regrets. Discipline is temporary but regret is forever. How would things be different if you didn’t allow those limitations to dictate your story? 

Deinno O’Keefe, Traveler, Digital Influencer, Soldier, and Founder of oneepiclife.org, a movement out of San Diego, CA empowering people to live epic lives. Follow Deinno O’Keefe on Instagram: www.instagram.com/deinno 

Deinno is a San Diego-based entrepreneur and life coach, with an MBA from Marywood University and having served two tours with the U.S. Army to Afghanistan.  He is the founder of One Life Epic, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit based out of San Diego, CA designed to empower people to live mentally epic lives through concepts such as getting out of your comfort zone, being confident in your identity, overcoming fear and maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle. 

6 Actionable Ways to Overcome Cycles of Negativity  

6 Actionable Ways to Overcome Cycles of Negativity 

by Deinno O'Keefe

It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of negativity. When everything seems to be broken or life seems to be going against you. What do you do? How do you overcome? I recently received an email asking just that, maybe you can relate? 

“How did you deal with your negative thoughts day to day? Like I am underpaid, looking for a new job but I keep finding jobs in places that are so expensive and the salary isn’t worth it. I feel stuck. It feels stressful but I try to stay positive. Some days are more difficult. How did you get through those days?” 

So how do you get through those days? Aside from your physical circumstances which can or cannot be controlled; it's your mindset that needs to be controlled and adjusted. Take a look at how you view your life. Is it through a negative lens? If so, it's effecting you and most likely those closest to you. 

Think of it this way, I recently wrote an article for a publication; I was writing a section on "self-talk" and how important it is to feed your mind with positive thoughts and how it's only a matter of time before your reality matches your self-talk. 

The last line I wrote was this:  Stop telling yourself you can't do it. After editing it, here’s how I changed that line to be more positive:  Start telling yourself you can do it. 

Now this doesn’t seem like a huge difference but that subtle change can mentally alter your drive to be proactive. Your level of motivation to fight through and see the positive develops. Here are some practical ways for you to start building healthy habits in order to overcome cycles of negativity and push to see the positive! 

1. Focus on the positive 

For some, this may be a minute by minute struggle. It’s about recognizing the negative thoughts and replacing them with something positive. Everyone knows the old saying, “seeing the glass half full” gradually you will build the positive habit.   

2. Remind yourself how fortunate you are (no matter how small) 

If you are reading this you can see. You are breathing. Do you have a family, a wife, a husband, or kids? Are you healthy? Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? 

3. Realize there is a lesson in every struggle 

No matter the circumstance, the best way to say it is “grow through what you go through.” The lesson may be internal (patience, self-control, discipline) or maybe it’s external (avoid this or that, whether someone is trustworthy) or most of the time, both.  

4. Continue to develop yourself and continue learning and growing 

If you are continuously self-developing, you are empowering yourself with a wider range of options. Limited knowledge limits opportunities. The more you learn and grow, the better you can see and leverage multiple options and opportunities. It will help you to quickly adapt and overcome negative situations and not be stuck in a downward cycle. 

5. Put yourself on a time out 

We all need a breather or a break in the daily “rat race.” Setting aside daily meditation or quiet time has tremendous benefits. 

6. Surround yourself with people who support you and desire to see you grow 

If you are continuously around negative people then negativity will be your influence.  Find people that live positive habits.  

  

Remember, all seasons have an ending. Humans can withstand pretty much anything knowing that the season will not last forever. Be patient with yourself. It’s not likely you will reprogram your mind in a day, week or even a month. What matters is your continued effort to redirect and reprogram your mind and healthy habits are being established. 

Deinno O’Keefe, Traveler, Digital Influencer, Soldier, and Founder of oneepiclife.org, a movement out of San Diego, CA empowering people to live epic lives. 

Follow Deinno O’Keefe on Instagram: www.instagram.com/deinno

Overcoming Fear And Achieving Your Goals Starts With One Simple Step  

Overcoming Fear And Achieving Your Goals Starts With One Simple Step 

POST WRITTEN BY 

Rosie Guagliardo 

Career/Life Coach (CPCC, ACC) and founder of InnerBrilliance Coaching LLC, guiding high-achieving clients to get results with a lot more joy 

Negative self-talk and general fears can quickly take over and leave us feeling paralyzed from moving forward in life. Letting fear run our lives can have an even more significant and long-term impact. We might give up on one of our dreams because we won’t even consider that it is possible to achieve. It’s easy to forget just how capable we are and that we can leverage techniques to move us toward our desires. 

The simplest way to overcome our fears is by taking one small step or action. In fact, we can awaken so many possibilities in our lives just by stepping out of our comfort zone. Doing so on a regular basis primes our minds to do it in various situations. At first, we can practice in low-stakes situations so our minds can feel more comfortable taking chances with higher-stakes opportunities. 

Take my recent ski experience as an example. After 20 years of never hitting the slopes once, I decided to give it a shot again. The experience was definitely a bit nerve-wracking at first, but ultimately, it turned out to be educational and electrifying. It was also effective in taking me to new heights in an unexpected way. Here’s what I learned — or is that re-learned? 

1. Accept yourself. Meet yourself where you are. Accept that you might be afraid to do something, and take one small step to start. In my case, I took a beginner's ski lesson and quickly realized that I remembered more than I thought I would. Muscle memory is an amazing thing. 

2. Honor daily fundamentals. Appreciate the daily things you can do (e.g., sleep, nutrition, exercise, etc.) that maintain your well-being. They provide a foundation of strength and energy that allow you to do anything. These things are what allowed me to stay vertical throughout my recent ski day. 

3. Visualize yourself succeeding. In my case, I pictured myself gliding down the slopes. This relaxed my mind and allowed my body to do what it knows to do. 

4. Allow yourself to identify with new possibilities. Let go of that old story that tells you that you can't do something. I let go of telling myself that I'm not athletic. Instead, as I glided down the slope, I said to myself, "I am a skier." 

5. Surround yourself with a supportive community. It's great to have a tribe encouraging you and sharing helpful tips along the way. I felt calm and supported to have my friends around me helping me out and telling me what I did well. 

6. Ask “what if?" When I started to feel fear or negative thoughts creep in, I’d flip those thoughts and ask, “What if I could do it?” This simple re-frame shifted my mindset and made my time on the slope feel like a fun game versus something I might not be able to handle. 

Above all else, remember to have fun. The experience could inspire you to push your limits in other areas of your life. Being able to ski again made me feel more confident and like I could conquer even more obstacles. After that ski trip, I implemented a strategy to grow my business and took a step toward evolving an important relationship in my life. 

So, what is one small step you can take to get out of your comfort zone? And how could you practice the techniques above to maintain a sense of adventure and possibility for your life?

Overcoming Fear in 8 Steps  

Overcoming Fear in 8 Steps 

By Dr. Carmen Harra 

Fear is felt in many forms. We may have a fear of flying, a fear of commitment, a fear of the unknown, or at times, all of the above. By definition, “fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined... “ Fear is such a powerful emotion that it can simply override all other feelings, logic or priorities. And no matter how strong or courageous or defiant we are, inevitable circumstances can entangle us in a web of our own fears. 

In essence, fear is an illusion inexistent in the physical world — it is neither tangible nor visible. But it exists in our minds and manifests through our actions. We therefore bring fear to life, many times without need. I’ve seen plenty of clients who were so afraid of losing their marriage that they couldn’t see there was nothing wrong with it to begin with. But they needed to validate their irrational fears and did so by exaggerating already-existing issues in their relationship. In their case, their fears ignited needless doubts, false conclusions and empty arguments with their partner. They began to cause external problems driven by internal fears. Then, their marriage really did begin to display the issues they had feared all along. Similarly, when our actions are founded in fear, we almost always make poor decisions which can have undesired consequences on us and others. Fear leads us to act out of desperation, frustration and anger. 

But fear also plays a vital role in our lives. We would live with reckless abandon if we knew no notion of fear, performing all sorts of downright dangerous activities. The key is to distinguish between actions which induce a healthy acknowledgment of apprehension versus illogical triggers of fear which stifle our potential and limit our well-being. 

Fear produces stagnancy because it causes us to battle against ourselves. The rational part of our brain wars against our agitated emotions, and the struggle for the stronger of the two causes great stress within us. We worry that our worst fears may come true. And exactly that which we fear, ironically, we bring to life. Conquering our fears begins with the acknowledgment that oftentimes fear is a decision, not an inherent trait or needed component of life. 

Incorporate my eight steps to fearlessness into your everyday life and feel your fears melt away: 

F — Face the truth: Face the truth of your fears. Face what scares you head-on, and challenge your trepidation. Separate necessary concerns from baseless fears. Chances are that many of your fears are unwarranted in the greater scheme of your life. Remember, the unfortunate events which you fear will happen do not need to happen. 

E — Erase negative imprints: Many times, your fears stem from your own negative experiences or from witnessing the hardships of those around you. Your fear of divorce may very well be rooted in your own parents’ divorce. What you must remind yourself daily — through simple affirmations or guided visualizations — is that your past is your past, and whatever happened in your past, which makes you afraid today, must be dealt with and its mental imprints removed permanently. 

A — Allow change: People are by nature afraid of change. They fear that change will somehow disrupt their lives or uproot them from their comfort zone. But change actually serves to transport us into new greater manifestations of ourselves. Allow necessary changes to come your way, even if they may seem frightening at first. Every instance of change serves a purpose towards your highest good, and you will learn this in time. 

R — Relax: Fear can be the accumulation of too much stress or extended pressure. A hectic life with too many responsibilities results in fear of failure. It’s essential that you take time out for yourself to relax and meditate and alleviate your anxieties. So calm down, take a breather and remind yourself that you will be shown how to resolve all things. 

L — Listen to your intuition: If you learn how to follow it, your intuition can banish your fears. This is because your intuition is like a mental GPS into the future, so that you can sense what’s to come, where you need to go and ease your apprehensions of what tomorrow might hold. 

E — End feuds: When you fight with others, you draw fear into your relationships: fear that others will betray, hurt or abandon you. In order to nurture fearlessness, you must make peace with those around you and understand that their intentions are not to cause you harm. 

S — Selectivity: You have to learn to be selective about what you want out of life and the things you decide to go after. You have to pursue things which don’t inspire fear in you and make you feel completely comfortable. Select a vision for your future and stick to that mental projection until you’ve brought it fully to life. 

S - Secure in yourself: In order to shun fear forever, you have to work on your self-esteem. Fear arises from not believing enough in your own abilities and talents. When you constantly live in the mindset of “I can’t do it” or, “I’m not good enough,” you narrow your window of success to a very slim opening and inadvertently put yourself down. 

Although the role of fear is to keep us safe, we do ourselves no favor by living in fear. To awaken our potential and draw in bigger possibilities, we must eradicate fear from our lives through daily efforts which promote our strength and self-security. After all, we all possess the inherent trait of everlasting courage which can guide us through most anything. 

To a fearless you, 
Dr. Carmen Harra

God Wrote This Part of Your Story Too? 

Article by 

Tony Reinke 

Senior writer, desiringGod.org 

Fear is part of living in this finite, fragile flesh in this fallen and fearful world. We are haunted people. We are fearing people, and our fears don’t end in childhood. It may begin with monsters under our beds, but more disturbing monsters lurk in the shadows as we grow older. 

“God orchestrated millions of situations and circumstances and relationships to bring us where we are today.” 

We fear athletic and academic failure. We fear star-crossed love or, worse, no love at all. We fear being alone. We fear not getting a good job, or losing our job. We fear losing the health of our children, or losing their affection. We fear that our bills will outgrow our income. We fear job loss, economic collapse, financial strain, and even poverty. As we age, we fear losing our retirement fund, our homes, our minds. Some of our darkest fears can be hedged with insurance, but no insurance can erase all the fears we entertain. We are more anxious and insecure than we’re willing to admit. 

All the fears of life set up a beautiful contrast to the security of God’s elect. Once God sweeps you into his sovereign security net, it can relieve all fears that some circumstance will befall your life and bring your hope, happiness, and safety to an abrupt end. It assures you of joys, now in part, that will grow only more enthralling as they expand into the limitless stretches of God. 

In the context of God’s salvation, Scripture delivers a whopping promise: 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? (Romans 8:31–33) 

In one glorious passage, we find full proof that God will never let his children fall under condemnation or judgment in Christ. It will never happen, because he gave Christ in the first place. And if God gave up his precious, chosen Son, why would he not provide us, his children, with everything else we need to flourish eternally? He won’t hold back. That’s the point. “All things” means “all things.” His heart doesn’t stutter. Everything we need to flourish forever is promised by a gracious heavenly Father eager to bless us lavishly for our joy and for his glory. For his beloved children, the shed blood of Jesus Christ is corroborating evidence to prove that God will stop at nothing to ensure our eternal joy (Works of Jonathan Edwards, 19:777–78). 

Because God gave his only Son for you, he has given you his guarantee that he will weave the details of your life together in such a way as to lead to an eternity with him to enjoy his full pleasures forevermore. To be chosen in Christ is to have the script for your life written, and the end of the story is eternal flourishing. 

Suffering, Sorrow, and Joy 

Of course, the script includes conflict and hardships. We don’t find joy by escaping this life, but by living through it. I don’t know how much pain and disappointment you will face, but you will face it. You may face a long season of darkness in depression. You may live with serious regrets, and those regrets come in many shapes and sizes. Maybe you never intended to be forty and single. Maybe you regret being forty and married. Maybe you regret having kids. Or maybe you regret remaining childless. Or maybe you regret that your child abandoned the faith. 

Whatever the pains or regrets of life, the happy Calvinist, whose theology has sunk deep into the nerve center of his life, can say, “Though I cannot see why my life has unfolded in the way it has, God is in control and I am upheld by grace.” This confidence liberates our hearts to enjoy life. We don’t live in self-hate over all our failures. Instead, we look back over our lives, knowing that God orchestrated millions of situations and circumstances and relationships to bring us where we are today. 

“We don’t find joy by escaping this life, but by living through it.” 

The apostle Paul, who endured just about every kind of letdown, heartbreak, and suffering imaginable, also acknowledged that his pain was part of God’s ultimate plan (2 Corinthians 6:3–10). The sorrow he felt was real, and it hurt, but it also proved that the joy of God was inextinguishable. “Our joy no man takes from us,” Spurgeon once said. “We are singing pilgrims, though the way be rough. Amid the ashes of our pains live the sparks of our joys, ready to flame up when the breath of the Spirit sweetly blows. Our latent happiness is a choicer heritage than the sinner’s riotous glee” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, 28:187). 

The joy of God in the life of his children is a precious gift, sometimes concealed, but never extinguished by sorrow, conflict, or human circumstances. 

Joy Inexpressible 

Anticipating unending joy in the presence of Christ changes everything. It means we can relinquish control over our lives. It means we have no fear of the future. It means all our pressing toward personal holiness is not in vain. God elects so that we will be conformed to the image of Christ, in his holiness and in his happiness. It will be done, and we strive and obey in this inescapable hope. 

First Peter 1:3–9 teaches us a key lesson about longing and participating. We are not merely left in a subway tube, fiddling on our phones and waiting idly for a tardy train to eventually pick us up and take us to heaven. The Joy Project — my phrase for the story of Calvinism — leads us toward the presence of God, but Christ now offers us tastes of eternal joy that defies words. 

The Joy Project 

True happiness is not found. The deepest and most enduring happiness breaks into our lives, overcomes our boredom, and ultimately finds us. 

As Puritan John Owen writes, the physical joys of this life cannot be compared to these precious glimpses of the beatific vision, by faith. “There is no glory, no peace, no joy, no satisfaction in this world, to be compared with what we receive by that weak and imperfect view which we have of the glory of Christ by faith. All the joys of the world are nothing in comparison to what we receive” (Works of John Owen, 1:415). These “views” are hints of the full beatific vision to come. But Owen is careful to reiterate these moments are not the everyday state of the Christian life on earth. “There enters sometimes, by the word and Spirit, into our hearts such a sense of the uncreated glory of God, shining forth in Christ, as affects and satiates our souls with ineffable joy” (Works, 1:293). These are exquisite moments, but they are infrequent. 

Our anticipation for an eternal feast of joy becomes a present taste of delight (Romans 5:2). In Christ, we now taste the firstfruits of eternal joy. “As before the sun rises, there are some forerunning beams and streaks of light that usher it in; so the joys of the Holy Spirit are but the morning glances of the daylight of glory, and of the sun of happiness that shall arise upon us in another world” (Manton, Works, 13:331). 

Pleasures Forever 

For now, we gratefully taste present happiness (periodic joy, by faith) while we eagerly await future happiness (endless joy, by sight). One day this appetizer of spiritual pleasure will give way to the full banquet feast of flooding joys and delights God intends to share with us. This is the climactic finale of God’s joy project, the end toward which everything is unfailingly headed. 

God is pushing all things forward toward a glorious future. No longer will his children live in the past, as strangers and aliens; they will arrive in the home country to which they have been traveling, to dwell in the presence of God, to live with all the redeemed before the Lamb, clothed in perfect Christlike purity — no spot, no stain, no wrinkle. The Savior will rejoice in receiving us, the ones he’s loved from before time; the ones for whom he endured, with joy set before him, the shame of the cross. We will be welcomed into the full enjoyment of his love, and it will usher in a joy that will never end or fade. This is what we anticipate. 

“God is pushing all things forward toward a glorious future.” 

If we doubt, we look back on the blood of Christ as proof. In the future Christ will feed us abundantly with delights, and he will take us and present us before the Father, who elected us. We will behold God’s glory and taste the sweetness of eternal pleasures that we have always desired. All of our sinful longings will finally vanish. All our idols, our pride and despair, our false hopes and securities, our corrupting sins — all these burdens will be burned up like straw in a bonfire. Tears and regret and death will be gone; suffering will be burnt to ash. We will be finally and fully free to enjoy the pleasures of God together. 

If you love Christ, hold this promise with firm resolve. You are beloved. God’s choice of you is a divine insurance policy of joy, underwritten by Christ’s blood, unshaken by the trials and pains of life, ensuring your claim on joys forevermore (Romans 8:28). Fear not. Only believe that nothing will ultimately get in the way of your perseverance in Christ.

I Fasted 16 Hours a Day For 1 Week - Here's What It Actually Felt Like 

I Fasted 16 Hours a Day For 1 Week - Here's What It Actually Felt Like

Shani Hillian  (www.msn.com)

8/9/2018 

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the words intermittent fasting (IF) is deprivation. It sounds virtually unappealing to a serial snacker like myself. After doing extensive research on IF, though, I quickly learned there's a broad range of benefits associated with trying this fast such as weight loss (especially stubborn lower-belly fat), lowering blood sugar, improving cognitive health and memory, decreasing inflammation, increasing energy, curbing sugar cravings, and the perk that sold me instantly: better sleep! 

There are a few fasting protocols one could follow, such as the 5:2 plan (eat normally for five days while eating only 500 to 600 calories on the other two days); alternate fasting, where you switch between periods of consuming zero-calorie foods and beverages and actually eating whole foods; and the most popular fast, which I opted for, the 16:8 plan(16-hour fast and an eight-hour feasting period). I've tried 24-hour fasting in the past where I've failed miserably, so I was curious to see if IF would be any different. 

Sydney Axelrod, an NYC registered dietitian at Mount Sinai, told POPSUGAR, "If we're constantly eating, then our body will always be in the 'fed' state, which tells our brain we don't need to use our stored energy aka burn fat. It's also great to take a break from eating so often so our bodies can focus on other processes, like regulating hormones, decreasing stress, and reducing inflammation". As a person who eats every hour on the hour, this poses a great challenge. 

Another great challenge for me is maintaining muscle mass. I have a thin frame naturally, so I've been weight training for years to gain muscle and build strength. However, Korey Rowe, a certified personal trainer at Dogpound Gym, said, "You'll have to fast a very long time (72+ hours) for your body to begin breaking down muscle tissue. The key is to strength train in the morning (during your fasting period) to boost human growth hormone. That particular hormone shifts your body into a fat-burning state while forming new muscle and maintaining mass while experiencing favorable changes in body composition". 

Below is a personal account of my week-long intermittent fasting experience: 

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the words intermittent fasting (IF) is deprivation. It sounds virtually unappealing to a serial snacker like myself.Day 1: Am I Alive? 

I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning out of pure angst at the thought of not being able to eat until noon. I made the executive decision to utilize my time wisely and take a Vinyasa flow yoga class at 9 a.m. I can't confidently say this was a great boss move because during the class I felt a little lightheaded, but I will say it did help calm my mind and take away from my hunger pains. I ate my last meal at 8 p.m. last night, my yoga class was about an hour long, so finishing up at 10:05 a.m. took up a good chunk of time where my mind (and stomach) wasn't so focused on consuming food. I ate an avocado and egg sandwich around noon, chugged water religiously, and snacked on macadamia nuts around 3:30-4 p.m. I finished my night off with a cup of tea and Pop chips at 8 p.m. I survived the first day. I'm alive. 

Day 2: Headaches Galore 

I broke fast at 14 hours because I woke up with a knocking headache. I tried drinking more water, which didn't help much at all. In fact, it only made me more annoyed because I was getting up out of my bed every five minutes to use the bathroom. I ate avocado toast at 10 a.m. to help get rid of this headache, which did nothing. Also, I'm 100 percent sure I drank at least one gallon of water before noon to try and kick this headache, but the headache won that fight. I had a smoothie for lunch with a few handfuls of macadamia nuts. I didn't feel as hungry today as I did yesterday, which was weird for me because I'm always hungry, but I didn't force myself to eat. I listened to my body and ate what I felt was decent at that moment. 

At 8 p.m., I ate a light spinach salad with eggs, shredded cucumber, a little pecorino cheese, and hemp seeds tossed in lemon zest olive oil. 

Day 3: Feeling Refreshed 

I woke up today feeling ah-mazing! I felt refreshed and well-rested, which for me is an absolute perk because I've always had trouble sleeping through the night. No headache, no hunger pains. I think this feeling stemmed from the fact that I was not eating right before I went to bed. What I'm extremely impressed with is my lack in cravings. As stated before, I'm a serial snacker who can eat potato chips at any hour, any day of the week. The fact that I hadn't had a single urge to grab a bag is pretty darn impressive. 

I broke fast 12 p.m. I opted for two bananas and made a fresh green juice at home. I ate a full meal about 45 minutes later. 

Day 4: Feeling Like the Hulk 

I woke up with so much energy that I decided to take a HIIT class. I grew up a competitive athlete, so I'm not new to weightlifting by any means. However, I was hesitant about training heavy on an empty stomach. But I went in with an open mind and felt great. I was amazed at how much energy I had. I was able to increase my weight with no problem, I blasted through all of the circuits like champ, and I felt energized the whole way through. No lightheadedness, no faint feeling at all. I've peaked at drinking a gallon of water before 4 p.m., which is pretty impressive. I had more energy today than I've ever had before, which speaks volumes. Feeling amazing. 

I broke fast by eating avocado and salmon toast with eggs, spinach, and pecorino cheese on a fresh baguette. 

Day 5-7: Smooth Sailing 

Now that I was in the groove, it went rather smoothly. Energy was at 100 percent and I felt lighter and more alert. I'm more mindful of what and when I eat, which is a game changer. I've learned how to control my desires and stay disciplined. I'm enjoying waking up and waiting a little bit before I consume food. There's something about having an empty stomach for just a little while that makes me more alive and conscious of what I'm eating throughout the day. I also think it's helped me enjoy my food more. I didn't lose any weight, but I do notice my body is a a lot leaner and more toned. In fact, I gained a little more muscle, which is awesome. I'm sleeping sounder as well, and that's been the biggest perk. I believe my dreams are more vivid because my mind is clearer. I can see intermittent fasting becoming a part of my life, because the results are there - there's no denying it.

I Tried an Intense Metabolic Reset Program for a Month -- and It Worked  

I Tried an Intense Metabolic Reset Program for a Month -- and It Worked 

Amy Schlinger 

7/26/2018 

Health complications that are a sign of a bad diet 

 It was 30 days of hard work, bland food, and hulk juice -- but it ended with a six-pack. 

No matter who you are or how disciplined your fitness routine, there will be times when you'll fall off the wagon. Once you've realized you're out of your typical flow, you can adjust your approach and hit the reset button. 

Last winter, I noticed just how much I was ordering food instead of opting for healthier options - every single day, and for almost every single meal. Even though I'm a fit, active, generally healthy individual, it was starting to make me feel gross. 

Thankfully, I'm far from the only person to feel this way. I’ve followed Steve Weatherford, former New York Giants punter and "fittest player in the NFL", since he's transformed from a football player into a fitness trainer and coach. I noticed on his social media accounts that he’d recently gone through a similar experience himself. 

After his slump, he emerged with what he was calling a 30 Day Metabolic Reset - a program designed to improve your health, balance your gut, increase your energy, and help you lose fat and undigested foods in your body. The program had just launched, but it already had thousands of followers. 

“I didn’t initially plan to share the program - I was doing it for myself,” Weatherford explained in a phone interview with MensHealth.com. “Moving from New Jersey to southern California with four kids, a pregnant wife, a dog, etc., life was crazy and my diet sucked for six weeks. While we were waiting to get into our rental home, we ate every single meal out, and I just felt like crap. I wanted to look better, I wanted to function better, I wanted to feel better.” 

Like Weatherford, I was feeling like crap and wanted to make a change to help make me function and feel better. My goal was to cut down on body fat, and after seeing that Weatherford was able to lose five percent, I decided to give the program a try. 

Before I fully committed to the plan, I read through the program and realized there was a bit of prep I needed to do. First, I had to fill out a quick questionnaire about myself - age, weight, height, body type, activity level, etc., - that would help create the personalized nutrition plan (which Weatherford created with his friend and personal nutritionist Jason Phillips). 

To follow the program to the letter, I would have to take a handful of supplements throughout the day. Weatherford doesn’t say supplements are required in order to succeed, but explains that they worked for him and recommends using them if it works for your body. 

I spoke with Allen Tran, MS, RD, CSSD, high-performance dietician for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams to learn a bit more about exactly what I was being asked to put into my body. A handful of the supplements, like vitamin D, fish oil, digestive enzymes, and probiotics, could be obtained through food, and were on the “wellness side” of the supplements spectrum. 

“Many people have intolerances or can’t balance their gut health, so these can help with that,” Tran told me. “You don’t need more than 100 percent of each vitamin, but lots of people don’t always get a hundred from their environment or food alone.” 

The other supplements like glutamine, BCAAs, kelp, CLA, and fat burners were on the “performance side” of the spectrum. Many of these supplements help preserve muscles when doing things like fasted cardio (which I’d be doing on this program), or aid in building muscle and enhancing metabolism, explained Tran. 

In the end, I got all except the fat burners, because I didn’t feel they were necessary for me, and ZMA and magnesium, because I have zero sleeping issues (and didn’t want to develop any). Weatherford sells the full stack on his website, but I got mine elsewhere. With a couple coupon codes and promotions, they weren’t too pricey. 

Then it was time to check out the personalized nutrition plan. The program calls for a caloric deficit, meaning eating less calories than needed to maintain your current body weight, cycling between high, medium, and low carb days, focused on regimented macros. 

Translation: less protein than I was used to, barely any carbs, a lot of “hulk juice,” (more on this later) and very plain, measured out meals. I’d never done a diet plan before that required measuring meals, so I was excited to go all in. I got a food scale and blender, then stocked up on the essentials - egg whites, chicken sausage, potatoes, ground turkey, jasmine rice, black beans, steak, asparagus, chicken, spinach, kale, apples, bananas, lemon, ginger, hot sauce, and mustard, which were all recommended for my food plan and the shopping list provided as a part of the program. I also ordered pre-made meals from an online service for clean eating. 

Unsurprisingly, there was no alcohol allowed. The program also requires you to drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. I kind of hate water, so I knew this would be a challenge. (Weatherford said seltzer was OK, so I stocked up on that as well.) 

Then came the hulk juice. After I signed up for the program, I was given three different videos recipes for hulk juice. The concoctions varied, but the basics are banana, apple, lemon juice, spinach, kale, and water. 

For the first week of the program, you replace your last meal (meal four) with hulk juice. Then after day seven, you add in meal four, and have hulk juice as a snack during the day. You can have as much of it as you want, though Weatherford cautions that it has a lot of natural sugar so don’t over do it. 

I would be doing daily fasted cardio sessions first thing in the morning; that meant 30 minutes of continuous cardio of my choice at a heart rate range between 125 and 177 beats per minute (BPM), done on an empty stomach. This meant I could go for a run, run on the treadmill, walk on an incline, run hill sprints outside, jump rope, do burpess, create my own HIIT circuit, etc. 

Every day included a weight-training session in the afternoon. Every exercise in the workout had a corresponding video to check form, some of which you can find online. 

The program had a clever system to keep you on track. The only way to access workouts was to mark each one complete, which would “unlock” the following day’s workout. 

You could still cheat in theory - but it would be a much more active decision to slack off. 

My 30-Day Metabolic Reset Journey 

WEEK 1 

The first day of my journey came - and I was too hungover to begin the program. Great start, right? My boyfriend and I just wanted Chinese food and to be lazy all day, so we decided we’d start the following day. After the false start, we woke up, took before photos, and started fasted cardio. 

Here are the biggest takeaways from my first week: 

You have to drink so. Much. Water. 

An ounce of water per pound of bodyweight is even more than you think. I tried really hard to swallow my pride and down more H2O - but honestly, not one day of the plan did I drink the correct amount of water. 

I did, however, manage to I drink way more than I had before starting. I drank a full glass of water in the morning, at night, and during the workout, which helped. 

The workouts are tough, but you need to push yourself. 

From supersets, to giant sets, to HIIT, the workouts that Weatherford and his team created have a ton of variety. In order to get the most out of the workouts though, you need to really give it your all. Don’t go into the gym tired and half-ass it. Push yourself. 

The meals might seem light, but they keep you full. 

I was taken back by how small I thought the meals were at first, and how little protein I would be consuming. But the three meals plus the hulk juice kept me full throughout the day. I was never starving or hangry. It made me reconsider my protein intake, as I was used to 8-12 ounce portions before. 

WEEK 2 

Weatherford’s morning motivations became my morning caffeine. 

When my alarm would go off, I’d turn over, grab my phone, and check out my plan for the day. Along with a new workout, every morning had a video message from Steve. Some of them were really relatable, others - like going to the Super Bowl - were not, but they all had good takeaways and each one got me a little pumped up to get out of bed and start the day. 

Week 2 brought other lessons, which helped me hit a stride as the program became more of a routine. 

Stick to foods you enjoy. 

I tried to like them - I ate them for a couple days - but I just couldn’t do it. So I swapped them out for regular potatoes. Thankfully, the meal plan comes with a list of food swaps you can make for every category. This plan is already tough enough. Don’t make it harder for yourself. 

Don’t delay fasted cardio. 

It’s difficult to get turned onto cardio everyday if you’re not used to it. I found myself putting it off until two to three o’clock in the afternoon. It was to the point where I was starving but couldn’t eat until I got it done, so I was just jumping rope and doing burpees around my apartment. 

WEEK 3 

Condiments are a must. 

You need gym access and tons of workout time. 

Even though fasted cardio is only 30 minutes, you still have to do it. Then you have to do a strength workout every day, too, which usually took between 45 minutes to an hour. 

You’re dedicating about two hours to working out every day, which is time consuming. As a freelance writer, I was able to manipulate my schedule when necessary to fit in the workouts, but I know that my lifestyle isn't the norm. There's no denying that a program like this doesn't just take hard work and discipline - it requires a level of privilege to work, too. 

WEEK 4 

The end was in sight. 

The meal plan and workouts were routine as this point, and I looked forward to it. Fasted cardio was a bit of a drag on some days, but keeping track of the countdown on my social media accounts got me excited and kept me accountable. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I was looking great - my abs were really starting to show. 

You get out of a reset program what you put in. 

This program, and others like it, takes commitment. I didn’t cheat a single meal or skip a single workout. I pushed myself in the gym and I measured out my meals. I put my full effort into doing the 30-day metabolic reset with all my effort and it truly paid off. 

After 30 days, I went from 117.3 pounds to 112.8 pounds, down 4.5 pounds. I went from 17.4 percent body fat to 12.7, down 4.7 percent. My arms, chest, back, shoulders and legs all got more muscular, lean, and toned. And the best part - I got a six-pack (which started showing the end of the second week). Don’t believe me? A picture’s worth a thousand words! 

After the 30 days, I was energized, my gut was in check, and I felt fit, happy, and healthy as a whole. While I couldn’t wait to have my first cheat meal - which really was just chicken kabobs with all of the condiments and dipping sauces - doing this program has motivated me to change my lifestyle. There were some challenging drawbacks, though. 

You really can’t eat out. 

You technically can grab a bite out somewhere, but you still don’t know if they’re really giving you plain chicken. So making all your own food is the best bet. That can be a pain. 

Your social life can disappear. 

My friend had her 30th birthday party during my reset month. I went, but I only lasted about 45 minutes before I’d had enough. Everyone else was drinking and I just felt out of place. 

A 30-day reset isn't really a sustainable lifestyle, which is why it's for a short, intense period of time. I’m not going to measure my food forever, but I’m a lot more aware of just how much protein I’m eating versus how much I actually need. 

That's just one of the lessons I've applied to my everyday life from my regimented month of intense fitness focus. I got the results I wanted - but it took a hell of a lot of work.

What If I Don’t Want to Sing?  

What If I Don’t Want to Sing? 

Matt Damico / November 19, 2016 

At our church, everyone shows up ready to sing with full hearts each Sunday morning. Nobody arrives after a tense car ride to church, or a difficult morning with children, or a late night of studying, or a long week of work. Everyone is well-rested and eager to make melody to God. 

Except, not really. 

Each Sunday, a good portion of our churches gather for worship with genuine anticipation for singing, praying, and hearing the word. But not everyone. Life is too real, and the ancient fall of Genesis 3 is still too valid, to think nobody walks into church with scars, shame, or even cold apathy. 

But let’s be honest. Even the most stably enthusiastic in our gatherings have had Sundays when we wished our hearts burned more brightly. We experience an inner struggle in these moments. On the one hand, we know that we should sing because we’re at church. On the other, it’s good to be authentic and real, so it feels like a lie to sing when we don’t feel like it. Is it better to be honest and silent than an audible hypocrite? 

Of course, we don’t want to portray something false about ourselves. Nevertheless, we have at least two good reasons for us to open our mouths and lift our voices even when we don’t feel like it. 

You Have the Voice Your Neighbor Needs 

People in every congregation have no voice at times. They’re not singing, but not because they don’t want to. They’re weak and worn, and in that hour they can hardly speak, much less sing. Maybe it’s a young woman who can’t sing “It Is Well” because that Sunday marks one year since her mother’s death, or a young couple who can’t sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” a few days after another miscarriage. 

In God’s infinite love, he has not left these people alone. Instead, he has ordained for corporate worship to work not only vertically, but horizontally. In that moment, when the broken believer struggles to address God, we remember that God has told us to address one another with our songs (Ephesians 5:19). 

When we don’t feel like singing, we have an opportunity to consider the interests of others and count them more significant than our own (Philippians 2:3–4). We have the privilege, in a way, to open our mouths for the mute (Proverbs 31:8). You may not want to sing, but the person next to you, in front of you, or behind you may need you to sing. The sight and sound of your singing may impress on them the truths of the gospel, or spur them to believe, with the psalmist, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Psalm 63:3). 

The sight and sound of God’s people singing is a powerful, stirring exhortation for struggling hearts to believe the truths they hear sung around them. The next Sunday you’re inclined to keep quiet, remember your neighbors and sing their song. 

Singing Bends Our Souls to God 

Another reason to sing when we don’t feel like it is this: singing can be the best way to start feeling like it. 

It is impossible for us to desire the right things all the time. Our wills and affections often lag behind our knowledge. I know I should exercise more, but the desire is sometimes absent. I know I should pray more, but my heart is often cold. Does that mean that when I do exercise or pray after some self-convincing, I’m not really exercising or praying? Of course not. It’s better to desire everything we ought, but we need not wait to feel rightly before we act rightly. 

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis articulates this with typical poignancy in regard to loving our neighbor when the desire isn’t there: 

Though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. . . . The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets: When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him. 

So it is with our singing. Let’s not wait for our hearts to burn before we open our mouths. Opening our mouths can be an important part of kindling the fire. 

This isn’t an up-by-the-bootstraps approach to corporate worship. Lifting your voice, when you’d rather not, can be an act of faith, believing that God’s word is true: “it is good to sing praises to our God” (Psalm 147:1). You may need to pray, “O Lord, open my lips” (Psalm 51:15), but before long, don’t be surprised to find your heart beginning to refill with thanks and praise. 

Perhaps it will be this weekend. Another Sunday is coming when you will feel a cool disinterest toward the singing of the saints. When that happens, remember God’s promises, remember your neighbor, and remember what a privilege it is, and what a catalyst it can be, to sing to the one who has saved us.

God Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far  

God Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far 

Tony Reinke / January 1, 2017 

John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace” is the most famous New Year’s Day hymn in church history, first unveiled to his rural congregation on January 1, 1773. 

The entire hymn is closely modeled after 1 Chronicles 17, a chapter that speaks of King David’s past, present, and future. Newton does the same, reflecting on past grace, present grace, and the hope of future grace. It was a fitting way to bring in the New Year, and it was his annual pattern. 

At the start of every year, Newton set aside a day to reflect on life. He was at one time a hardened sailor in the slave trade. He was broken and humbled and redeemed. And he was aware of the ongoing grace upholding his life. And his future was completely in the hands of God’s mercy, too. Like David, Newton saw grace in 3D — past, present, and future. 

New Year’s was a special time of reflection and worship, and the practice was embedded into his personal disciplines. It became a hallmark of his pastoral work. He penned new hymns and sermons and personal letters every year to urge his friends to take time at the unveiling of a new year to stop and reflect on grace. He would tell us to do the same at the start of 2017. 

Past, Present, Future Grace 

Newton’s most famous hymn “Amazing Grace” is the best example of this reflection. The hymn was first unveiled in his church on New Year’s Day (1773), and it’s a reflection on the new year: a look back on his past deliverances, a look around on his present deliverances, and a look forward to his future deliverances in Christ. 

As each New Year approached, Newton patterned his thinking along this reflective triplet. 

In one letter to a friend, Newton explained the discipline, 

New Years finds me employed. I compare it to a hill on the road, from the top of which I endeavor to look back on the way that the Lord has led me thus far through the wilderness (past). I look around to contemplate the difference his goodness has made between my situation, and that of thousands of my fellow creatures (present). I then look forward, and perceive that I am drawing apace to my journey’s end. I shall soon be at home (future). 

At the time he wrote this, John Newton, the wretched sinner, had been saved from his sin and judgment. John Newton, the folly-prone Christian, was being saved. And John Newton, the glorified and perfected man in Christ, would be saved in the end. 

Such confidence in grace was synonymous with his confidence in the all-sufficient Christ. 

To another friend, Newton wrote, “I hope this New Year will bring many new blessings to you. The Lord is good. He has delivered (past) — he does deliver (present) — he will deliver (future). Oh, what an Altar, Atonement, Temple, Priest! What a Sun and Shield! What a Savior and what a Shepherd have we!” 

The New Year afforded Newton the reminder to meditate on the grace of Christ. 

Amazing Grace 

Knowing how Newton processed the New Year — and knowing he wrote “Amazing Grace” for a New Year’s Day service in his church — take a moment now to read the hymn as it originally appeared. Read it slowly, meditatively, as you reflect on how God has delivered, is delivering, and will finally deliver his children. 

The hymn opens with a reminder of God’s past grace: 

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) 
That sav’d a wretch like me! 
I once was lost, but now am found, 
Was blind, but now I see. 

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, 
And grace my fears reliev’d; 
How precious did that grace appear 
The hour I first believ’d! 

Now note the transition to God’s present grace: 

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, 
I have already come; 
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, 
And grace will lead me home. 

Finally, Newton concludes with confidence in God’s future grace: 

The Lord has promis’d good to me, 
His word my hope secures: 
He will my shield and portion be, 
As long as life endures. 

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail, 
And mortal life shall cease, 
I shall possess, within the veil, 
A life of joy and peace. 

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, 
The sun forbear to shine; 
But God, who call’d me here below, 
Will be forever mine. 

New Year, New Mercies 

Wrote Newton in another letter to a friend, “With new years, new mercies.” 

Yes, because we are in the middle of a storyline of grace, a new year brings new anticipation of new mercies from Christ. 

The new year is an opportunity to pause on the path and to stand humbly on the hilltop of time to look back on grace received, to cherish the sustaining grace of God upholding us now, and to anticipate future graces yet to come in 2017.