Fitness Isn’t My Thing

We all have that one friend who is gung-ho about fitness. They post about it, talk about it, badger you into doing workouts with them, and more. That person is clearly rocking it when it comes to physical health. I am not that person. I have tried to be that person, but it has never worked out for me long term. Which kind of sucks. I’ve been thinking about it a lot though recently. Not only because I’ve lost all the progress I made at the beginning of the year with weight loss, but also because physical health is something I’ve realized goes hand in hand with my spiritual health. How can I focus on my connections with God when I am not showing him my gratitude for everything he has given me–including my body.

In the Mormon Church we have a health code called the Word of Wisdom. People often focus on the semantics of caffeine, coffee, tea, and drugs. There’s more to the Word of Wisdom though, like eating meat sparingly. You can find the entire Word of Wisdom here.

So, what can I do to commit myself to providing the best I can for my body long term?

I think a big thing to remember is it’s hard to feel good when you feel bad. It sounds simple but I can’t seem to get it down. I know I can feel amazing when I’m touched by the Spirit. I thrive when I can follow the promptings of the Spirit. I can’t always do that when I’m huffing and puffing and out of breath because I just had to eat ice cream every day and I forgot to exercise… for the last four months. The realization that taking care of your body so you can connect at a higher level with God needs to happen.

After you’ve realized you have a gift from God that needs to be treated as a gift from God the best thing I can suggest is making a plan.

Find a workout and just go with it. I don’t care if it’s CrossFit, running 5Ks every weekend, or doing yoga. Find something that will strengthen your body so you can get through the day without aches and pains.

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After you’ve found the workout for you find the right fuel for you. I don’t care if you do keto, go vegan, try a cleanse, or just count calories. You need to find something that will work for you and will fuel your body for what it needs to accomplish. You can’t turn your body into a fine tuned spiritual machine if you’re falling asleep because you did too much or because you can’t hear the still small voice of the Holy Ghost because your stomach is grumbling too much.

Go out and do great things. Take care of your body so you can be healthy so you can, “run and not be weary”. I’m going to be right there with you trying my best.

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-Nikita

You can find my weight loss blog on tumblr by clicking here.

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Should Church be a Judgement-free Zone?

I recently read that one of the top three reasons Millennials leave the LDS Church is because they feel judged at church. After I read the article with this fact listed in it I read the comments on it–like almost anyone does. One comment stood out to me: “Of course Millennials need their judgement free safe bubbles.”

Call me a run of the mill Millennial if you must, but I think designating church as a place where you can go and not have to fear judgement is a good thing. There are a lot of people who might agree, like Mother Teresa (who is arguably one of the most inspired religious women of modern times). She once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

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That quote from her can be echoed by the Savior’s answer to the Pharisees when asked what the greatest commandment was. He answered them saying:

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they sould, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other greater commandment than these.

Mark 12: 30-31

You can see how the two fit together so well. When people come to church it can be a detrimental blow not only to ego, but to faith when the people who should be uplifting and sustaining us spiritually become nit-picky and catty because of past mistakes or what they’re wearing to church or how they interpret the Word of Wisdom at a specific point in time.

Jeffrey R. Holland said in a BYU Devotional, “Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried.”

We should always  strive to improve ourselves while trying to help those around us. I believe that it becomes easier as time goes on, because when you progress you naturally want the people around you that you care and love to progress with you.

Making sure church is an all inclusive place, where anyone can come and not be judged is living the gospel at its finest. It will leave bad feelings and worldly problems at the doors so everyone can more fully feel the Spirit and get the much needed spiritual fill up we all need from time to time.

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-Nikita

 

Charlottesville

Over the weekend white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, VA. Like a lot of people I was okay with tuning it out because it doesn’t effect me. I’m not a white supremacist. I don’t support that kind of thing, but when I found out that people who were peacefully protesting the rally were injured and killed I realized that my silence effectively condoned that kind of behavior. That’s something I’m not okay with. Not even a little.

My pacifist nature has sent an image that I’m okay with other white people degrading and minimizing other races. I can’t be okay with that. I worry about what kind of image it sends to my oldest child. She’s half Latina and I don’t ever want her to think it’s okay to be discriminatory or racist towards another person based on the color of their skin. I don’t want my sons and younger daughter to think it’s okay either.

Jesus never once said, “Hey, you guys you have to love each other, but only if the people you love are white.”

It’s ridiculous. What makes it even more ridiculous is when Christian men and women use religion as a reinforcement of their bad behavior. Do they not understand that Jesus was a middle Eastern Jew? His appearance was so similar to the people around him that the only way he was identified by the Roman soldiers was Judas’ kiss.

You can tout scriptures about skins of darkness or marks and curses all you want. One thing that I’ve learned from the Gospel is that Jesus and Heavenly Father’s love is all inclusive. It applies to everyone. There is no clause that precludes someone based on their race.

It’s time for all of us to stand up against blatant acts of racism and discrimination. It’s time for us to not even accept subtle racism. In our homes, our schools, our churches, our communities–it is past the time to make it known that this reprehensible behavior is not welcome in anyway shape or form.

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Now is not the time to sit idly by. We need to stand with all of our brothers and sisters in this life. The Civil Rights movement started so long ago, don’t let it stagnate and stop. Improvement and progression are what’s needed.

For further reference on the response the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had in the wake of Charlottesville see their official statement here.

Quitting Caffeine Was Seriously the BEST

There are a few things that people know about me. First, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (aka Mormon). There’s a health code that is largely followed by members in my church. Part of that is avoiding drinking beverages like coffee, tea, and alcohol. The second thing that should be known is that for a while I was not an active and participating member of my church. I was also drinking a butt ton of coffee everyday to get through the day. And finally, when I decided my religion was an important part of my life I switched coffee for Coca Cola and it took FOREVER to get it out of my system.
In 2008 I gave birth to my first baby. Things were awesome, but after about 8 months I had to go back to work. I needed a night job that would work with her father’s schedule so I wouldn’t need a baby sitter. And it worked out. I got a job from 3 PM to 12 AM. That was tough, especially since I would get home around 1 AM and then my daughter would wake up around six in the morning. I was running on five hours or less of sleep a night for almost an entire year. So, coffee was a pick me up that quickly became a necessity.

I drank coffee in the morning, I drank coffee with lunch, I drank coffee in the break room–Well, I think you get the point that it was my prime choice of beverage for a while. It helped me out like no other because I needed the energy I wasn’t getting from sleeping.

After a year of living with my daughter’s father things ended. There were a lot of reasons, but one decision that was made was that I needed to move back to Utah from New York because my family was better support for me than his family could ever be. So, we moved two thousand miles back to our home state. Before that I had been getting back into going to church thanks to some sweet sister missionaries. It was something I wanted. Being home surrounded by other people of my faith helped me adjust to my normal life. But getting rid of coffee was incredibly hard.

I don’t know if you know this, but caffeine is crazy addictive and when you first give it up it can be super hard. So, I didn’t give up caffeine. I ended up drinking so much Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola that I gained a bunch of weight. It wasn’t pretty. The sad fact is that it took me another six years to finally give up caffeine laden sodas and that was even worse than the weight I gained. There are some things you should know about ditching caffeine:

  • You’ll feel really groggy and sleepy for at least a week.
  • Get prepared for a massive headache that will last a couple of days.
  • After you get it all out of your system its totally worth it.

Feeling fatigued is going to happen. When you have this highly addictive substance that provides you with false energy in your system and you’re trying to purge it from your system you’re going to feel tired. That because your body is really craving that caffeine and your mind is going to slow you down in hopes that it’ll get its fix. Stay strong. You need resolve to stop drinking caffeine or you’ll just fall right back into it. Make sure it’s something you really want to do.

After you get past the lack of energy and start feeling better, you’ll get a HUGE headache. I’m talking on par with migraines type of headache. If you’re going through a withdrawal of anything you’ll get a headache. And it will make you angry and moody. I had to take the Advil Migraine pills to get through my three days of headache. I’ll be honest too, the pills didn’t always help the headache.
Once you get past the fatigue and headache you’ll just have cravings, but if you’ve made it past the two biggest hurdles you can fight through cravings! Have faith in yourself and make a mental (or physical) list of all the benefits you’re getting from cutting out caffeine. Some of the things I noticed right away were being able to sleep better at night, feeling more energetic during the day because I wasn’t having caffeine crashes every few hours, saved money because I didn’t need a caffeine fix anymore, and a bunch of other things.
Quitting caffeine was probably one of the best decisions I made. I know it’s helped me out a lot with my day-to-day living and it can help you too. It’s a personal decision, but one that can help you for the better.
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-Nikita

Your Life is (Kinda) Like a Video Game

“We have our agency to do whatever we want and we can choose to do whatever we want to do, so God can’t be omniscient because that would take away our agency.”

It’s an argument I hear against religion all the time. It’s also a concept that is misunderstood by a lot of people and a great way to get a brief understanding of it is imagining your life is like a video game.

Before video games come into existence, a game designer (or a group of game designers) has to plan the game out. There are quests, paths, character designs, foes and villains, and options all around that the main character gets to explore. The designer knows everything about the game. All the ins and outs, paths and quests, companions and enemies–everything. I mean, it would be silly if a designer knew nothing about their own game, right?

So, now you’ve got a new game that has been designed and finished in your hot little hands. You become the main playable character and it’s awesome. There is literally a world at your fingertips to explore. And that’s exactly what you get at doing. You go through tutorials, you find tools to help you on the way, and there are even people in your game that point you in the right direction to go through the main storyline. It’s pretty simple.

Then you get sidetracked by so many things, and that’s okay because there are tons of side stories (or quests) that you can play. They don’t detract from the main story and they can give your character valuable experience points which help your character level up. It’s all part of the game. And the designer knew it.

The designer knows every path you can take because he designed it and he knows what the possible outcomes of each story will be. It doesn’t mean you can’t explore to your heart’s content to all the ends of your game map. It also doesn’t mean you can’t skip stories or get really into them. It just means someone has thought ahead and came up with dozens of solutions to each problem presented and has given the player the options of which way to go.

It sounds complicated, but reasonable, right? Well, that’s pretty much a mortal equivalent of what Heavenly Father has done for us.

He has created this amazing world full of different paths that you get to choose to follow or not and He has given you free reign over it. The first 18 years of your life are kind of like the tutorial where you find tools, and then you step out into the world and find companions to help you get places. You work on your main storyline.

Just because the Designer knows all the possible outcomes and stories, doesn’t mean He doesn’t give you the agency to go through them all. You get to choose what to go through. You get to decide if you wanna be a good guy, a villain, or somewhere in between.

The best way to get through the game is to read the instructions or walkthrough guides that have been complied by people who played before us (this applies to games and life–read your scriptures! Those are your instructions and walkthroughs.).

Agency is an amazing gift from God. It allows us to decide where we want to be and gives us the opportunities we need to grow in this life–and the next. Use it wisely.

-Nikita

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