Author Archive for cornerstonefitnesstv

Peanut and Orange Zest BBQ Chicken Kabobs

Peanut and Orange Zest BBQ Chicken KabobsThis past weekend Isla, Noah, and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Mom. Jen and I worked together to create an awesome yet simple Mom’s day experience. One of my wife’s love languages is quality time.  Which means that if we as a family want to show her that we love her the best way to do that is to carve out some distraction free time together.  So we started the day with breakfast and then went for coffee on our favorite patio and leisurely strolled along the waterfront in our gorgeous city Kelowna, BC. The day was topped off perfectly with a family BBQ. It was one of those relaxed and satisfying dinners that had you sitting back and sighing a deep breathe of gratitude. I encourage you to plan a family meal together this long weekend. Food means so much more when it is tied to relationship and not guilt. We had reasonable servings of delicious healthy food in good company and I am still smiling at the thought of what an awesome day it was. I posted a picture of our dinner and I promised I would share some of the recipes. SO here it is.

Marinade:

1/2 cup of orange juice

2 tablespoons of orange zest

1/2 cup of all natural peanut butter

2 tablespoons of coconut sugar

1/4 cup of sodium reduced soy sauce

2 teaspoons of fresh finely chopped ginger

4 cloves of minced garlic cloves

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Add 4 cubed uncooked chicken breast to marinade and let stand in refrigerator for up to 8 hour.

After soaking your wooden skewers in water. Skewer the marinated chicken and vegetables of your choice. We use red and orange peppers, onions, and zucchini.

BBQ until chicken is cooked through.

We served the chicken kabob with our absolute hands down favorite salad that is from a friends blog, you can find the recipe here:

Brown Rice Noodle Salad With “Best Ever” Peanut Cilantro Dressing.

Our dessert was lemon tarts (we cheated a little and used store bought pre-made tarts) The lemon filling was homemade from the cookbook you got to buy.  Against All Grain.

mothers day collage

Curried Chicken Salad

curry chicken salad

We are exotic taste lovers in this house. So curry is on our love list.  I find it adds such flavor to a dish without the calories. I actually made this for Jen and I for lunch the other day.  You can eat it like I did in a pita or if you have gluten sensitives you can place it on top of a salad or wrap it in a large leaf of lettuce.

You will need:

2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast

2 teaspoons of coconut oil melted

Salt and Pepper

1/2 of Mayonnaise (there are recipes to make your own mayo-this day I opted out for the store bought variety. Mayo is better than Miracle Whip as it does not have added sugar and it is fuller fat therefore digests slower and keeps you fuller longer)

1/2 cup of grapes halved (Grapes are one of the dirty dozen fruits that you should buy organic. You can substitute raisins if grapes are out of season and too pricey.)

1/2 cup of cashews, toasted

1/4 cup of finely chopped celery

1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion

1/4 a cup of finely shredded carrots

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons of curry powder

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Place chicken on a baking sheet, drizzle with coconut oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt pepper.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until cooked all the way through.

Remove the chicken from the oven and cut into cubes. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Combine the mayonnaise, grapes, cashews, celery, red onion, carrots, salt, and curry in a bowl.

Add the chilled chicken and toss to coat. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with the fresh mint right before serving.

YUMMMMM! Love it and my pregnant wife said it hit the spot too!

This meal did Jen and I for two lunches.  This is one of the recipes featured in Danielle Walker’s cookbook “Against all Grain” we highly recommend it.  This cookbook has become a staple in our kitchen.

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Be Like James : Lessons From A Dearly Missed Friend

Picture your dream home.

Now picture your outdoor space.

Imagine I have contracted a landscaper that is going to build you a fire pit.  Complete with retaining walls, gardens, end tables for your glass of wine, and those long backed adirondack chairs.

Don’t get me wrong, you are going to flip the bill, I am not paying for the landscaper.

But the finished product will be all yours to enjoy.

I just need you to pick out a spot in your yard and we can get started.

So have you picked a spot?

If you are anything like me I can see the spot you picked. In the backyard, maybe close to and nestled in with some trees.  A private space where you can invite “the good friends over” to laugh the night away, enjoy a glass of wine or cuddle with your partner, where you can spend a summer night roasting marshmallows with the kids.

That space you are imagining my friend James built it and all those moments you imagined in that space he did those too; With one simple difference.

He built it in his front yard. No he does not live without neighbors in the country either. He lives in a thriving busy subdivision.

K29

This is James sitting in that space a couple years ago.

Today he would have been 46 years old. We lost him 2 years ago after he spent 4 years battling cancer. That space is still there in his front yard and highlights one of the most admirable qualities you and I can learn from James.

James was a busy successful family man but he always made time to focus on what was most important, RELATIONSHIP.

One morning a couple years ago James who was running his business and suffering through the cancer treatments sent me a text. “HEY BRO!!!! Tea?”  I accept the invite and as I pulled into his driveway there he was sitting in the front yard. We joked, we laughed, we had some serious conversations too. Every once and awhile a neighbour would pass by and James would call out to them by name. “YO! YO! How’s it going?”

As we wrapped up our conversation, James asked where I was heading. Then he proceeded to tell me he was heading down to a BIG meeting in an hour. He would be presenting a proposal to a large company. I thought oh wow and hastily stood up with a sense of urgency, I talked too long, he has this big meeting, he needs to prepare, he needs time, I better get out of here.

James stood up casually and said “hey thanks for the visit, what’s the rush?” I asked him “well aren’t you nervous you have to present in an hour, I can’t believe you invited me over for tea.”

He casually shrugged and reached over to pat me on the back and give me a hug.

That moment has sat with me.

That day, if I were James, I would not have texted a friend for coffee. Not before a big meeting like that and a fight like cancer on my plate.

Instead I would be sitting in that chair in that comfortable isolated space I built in the backyard. Doing what you ask? Worrying, planning, and worrying. With whom you ask? By myself.

In your life today “Where are you sitting?”

Your dream house the one I asked you to picture, there is no sense in it. Not if you are going to sit in your backyard alone, worrying.

We have all become too busy for what really matters.

While you are sitting in your backyard trying to control and manage every detail of your life, you are missing out on the relationships and experiences sitting around the fire pit in your front yard.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Mathew 16:25

Whether you are able to admit it or not your heart’s greatest desire is relationship. Our worry has no value it just robs us of what matters most, the present.

When I worry, I spent less time with God, I shift my wife, my kids, my friends to another “less busy” day.

I withdraw,

I isolate,

I actually accomplish nothing.

There I sit in the backyard of my life. While James with much more to worry about built a space in his life for the things that mattered he built it right there smack dab in the middle of his front yard. I am not saying he did not worry he worried. But time and time again he chose to not let worry steal lives best moments from him.

James lived 44 FULL years. His cancer was not the catalyst that brought about his priority for relationship. His value for meaningful relationship was always there. When I met him at 16 years old, I was a shy awkward teen lacking a lot of confidence. James, treated me like he treated everyone else.

James invited people in, whatever went on in his life you could always find him right there with his legs up in the front yard and he would always offer you a seat.

Stop using your “too busy” as an excuse. James was busy and James never did. He always made time and he always had fun.

I once left a clipboard in a bag that belong to James.  He kept texting me to come pick it up. I kept saying ok, I will come and get it, I don’t need it right away.

He kept texting.

So I picked it up with a bunch of other stuff that I needed from him. It was not until later that night that I unpacked the bag to find my clipboard. My clipboard that James’ had enhanced.

clipboard

 

James was killing himself laughing when I called him.  He said you know I may have cancer but I have been working out, just show people pictures of how buff I have been getting and I can be your poster boy. They will be lining up to personal train with you so they can “Be Like James”

This clip board that James gave me as a joke, now sits above my desk on the wall as a reminder to “be like James” and pursue meaningful relationship today!

happy birthday

Are you SURVIVING or are you CREATING?

Answer searchI took a seat at a restaurant a couple weeks ago, a restaurant that I had frequented a lot in the past, enough that I was known by name.  A familiar waiter came to the table paused momentarily to think and then said

“Ira, oh….it’s been a bit….I have not seen you in a while.”

My response “Yep.”  I grinned

“I moved to BC, three years ago…..it has been three years”

Stop and think about that, THREE years, BOOM, gone like that.  Really it has been three years?

I have been prompting my class participants lately to ponder this question.

If I went away for three years and came back to see you, would you be a different person?

Or would everything including you be the same?

After being away for three years, I ran into some of the same people, in the same places, complaining about the same things.  Now I am not coming down on anyone, if you know me that is not my style.

Shaking up the way you think, NOW that is totally my style;  Urging you to pay attention to today, not just survive to the end of the day; Calling out the opportunity and not putting love off until tomorrow NOW we are talking about my PASSION.

Total health to me is not just good workout habits, enviable dietary traits and a six pack. When I think HEALTH, the words that come to mind are, FULLY ALIVE, VIBRANT, PASSIONATE, FUN, LIFE GIVING, CONTAGIOUS, ABUNDANT AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIP…… come on help me out, I know you can come up with a few more words to describe TRUE HEALTH!

I ran into people who life is just happening to, people who will end up with a life.

What I want for you and I believe God wants for you is a life that was CREATED not something that just happened to you.

I can sympathize I have been there a lot. Just ‘coping’ going through the motions. Sometimes I have found myself lying around just hoping bedtime would come sooner  so I could have a accomplishable task to do, one I felt I could handle…. like sleeping.

But my desire is to use my gifts, the ones God has given me to CALL YOU TO ACTION.  My desire is the lady I saw at Tim Hortons 3 years ago who evidently hated her job would not be there when I returned for a visit.  But there she was, same job, same time, same place, same frown, my heart desires more for her and for you!

I hear it a lot from people when I go back home.  “Ira, you have changed, there is something different about you, something new about you, you seem happier?”

It’s a change I do sense myself and the ones closest to me recognize it as well. Slightly more assured in my calling, more intentional, more focused, less concerned with pleasing people all the time and more concerned about the things that matter and certainly less likely to take offence so easily.

Where did it come from? TRUST, PRAYER lots and lots of PRAYER, and GRATITUDE, oh such a shift in what I am thankful for.

What did it cost my wife and I?  our comfort, our familiar, our security.  I sold our house, left a $120, 000 a year business, packed a small amount of our possessions in a moving truck and drove 5 days across this beautiful Canadian country to meet my wife and first child Noah who had flown ahead to pitch our tent in our new home Kelowna, BC.   I did not have a job waiting for me either.

Why? I can’t quite explain other than a prompting that started small and grew larger until I could not ignore it.  During prayer times in my car I started to ask God. “I need a revelation, should I stay or should I move?”  These words were lyrics from a Third Day song I heard LOUD and CLEAR one morning.  As I sat with that question soon came another prompting “Come on, take a chance, LET ME LOVE YOU.” I felt God saying STOP going through the motions, playing it safe, staying inside the lines, do it, take a chance, let me catch you, let me show you profound, life changing, uplifting LOVE.

What does this look like for your unique situation?

I am not saying you have to seek out a tough life. Or that you have to pick up and move away. Your journey will be unique to you.

Here are some points that have helped me:

Refuse to complain about things that you are unwilling to change. If you are not in the right “head space” to make a BOLD change, then start small.  Acknowledge the blessings in your current situation. Start changing your words and start believing that your current space is “training ground” for your future assignments. In fact ditch complaining completely it gives you temporary satisfaction but you get to live with the toxic aftermath of your negativity.

Start seeking out “doers” or mentors, people you admire.  I prayed for God to surround my family with people who would challenge, inspire, and LIVE out a LIFE rather than go through the motions.  He delivered.

Today NOT tomorrow. Don’t concern yourself with things in your tomorrows that distract you from your todays.  “Worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have.” (Joyce Meyers) Be intentional about being present in your TODAY.

Take Action. Take a chance. Pursue your dream. Maybe it’s a small step towards a dream and away from survival mode.  Ask yourself am I just surviving today? Or am I living and seeking and giving?

Exercise Patience. Getting uncomfortable is well, uncomfortable. Be powerful and be willing enough to stay in uncomfortable long enough to see the change and for things to be made new.  Make your goal progress not perfection.

I think you would agree life is short and time flies. I know I want to hear those words from God “well done, my good and faithful servant” when I die.  If you feel the same way and want to inspire a generation with me, be sure to stay connected.  If you’re willing enough you will  take action right ;) you can like my Facebook page today not tomorrow.

Whole Food Breakfast Shake

breakfast shake

You want a protein shake with ingredients that are not processed, that are real, and don’t come from powder? This has been my go to breakfast for the last couple weeks, let me tell you it fills me up, I sometimes don’t find myself hungry by the time I get to lunch!!! Breakfast is so vital to an awesome productive day. Instead of spiking your blood sugar with an onslaught of the common breakfast foods, I dare you to try this breakfast shake.

This shake delivers in nutrition and in that satiated “I got more then enough to last me to my next meal” kinda way. Now I will caution you, if your body is not used to a lot of grains and healthy food I would ease into this shake as it may cause some back up issues (wink wink) This is pretty common with a drastic change in nutrition as your body’s digestive track adjust to the new onslaught of slower moving and digesting foods.

So if this shake has a lot of new ingredients for you I would do the following:

-Remove one of the “fats” in the shake either the avocado or coconut oil or even the almond butter.

-Instead of all three variety of seeds pick one of the three.

-Over the next couple of days slowly add more ingredients.

*Note: Plan ahead and allow for better digestion by placing the seeds and nuts in a glass container and then add water until they are submersed. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or optimally over night. Your seeds will expand and absorb all the water, that is normal!

Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend away:

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup  frozen blueberries

-1/2 cup  frozen cranberries

-1 tablespoon  Almond Butter

-1 tablespoon  pumpkin seeds

-1 tablespoon  chia seeds

-1 tablespoon hemp seeds (or hearts)

-2 raw walnuts

-2 raw Brazil Nuts

-1/4 avocado

-1/2 tablespoon of Coconut Oil (I sometimes add more I like the hint of coconut flavor)

-1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk

-1/2 cup of water

My preference is always organic versions of these ingredients. After blending if you find it too thick, add water or almond milk to thin it out.

Now please note: if you are used to a really sugar sweet breakfast the subtle and complex flavor of the shake maybe lost on you. As you eat more natural and less processed food you begin to appreciate what real food tastes like. Have an open mind, no it’s not a donut, but it is loaded with stuff that will help you live out your dreams from the rest of the day! You can call in “dream making fuel” if you like.

Reference: Dr Hyman’s Whole Food Protein Shake, The Blood Sugar Solution

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito

black bean burritos

We love Mexican themed food in the McNamara house, so this recipe had us at the word burrito. Plus the fact that it is pretty easily prepared and goes over well at our table. Our Noah (4 yrs old) and Isla (turning 2 years old soon) polished off a burrito each for lunch today.

You can easily make a double batch and freeze these down. They reheat nicely for when you are short on time or energy (let’s face it sometimes you just don’t want to cook another meal.)

What you are going to need:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 red pepper

1 yellow onion

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp olive oil

8-10 Whole Wheat Tortillas (or tortillas of your choice)

2 tbsp cilantro

1 can of black beans

2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

1 cup of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

In a 9 x 11 baking dish mix together peeled and cubed sweet potatoes, chopped red pepper, chopped onion, chili powder, cumin, and olive oil. Toss to coat vegetables evenly. Bake covered 25 to 35 minutes until vegetables are tender.

In a separate bowl add together the can of rinsed black beans, cilantro, lime juice and sea salt.

Once the cooked sweet potato mixture has cooled off combine it with the black bean mixture.

Then evenly distribute the filling between 8 to 10 tortillas and fold into a burrito.

Place the assembled burritos on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 375.

Hope your family enjoys them as much as mine! 

Jennifer McNamara

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You Have Weighty Issues Too

rachel biggest loser

You may have heard the controversy over the Biggest Loser Finale this week. The beautiful and tenacious Rachel who weighed close to 300 pounds lost nearly 60% of her body weight in 5 and a half months, weighing in at 105 pounds to win the shows cash prize. Even the trainer’s jaws dropped upon first seeing her extreme weight loss. It was not long  before the social media “I don’t know you, but I will personal assault you with a vicious tweet” #trending began. I honestly watched the finale with a broken heart.

Why?

“Culture baits us to the edge of moral disaster than chastises us when we cross certain lines.” (Andy Stanley)

The “overweight” Rachel said she felt hopeless, out of control, unworthy, a failure.  The truth is that is how society viewed her as well.  Rachel’s coping mechanism is food, which unfortunately results in her literally wearing the weight of the world on her body.

Your coping mechanism may not be food and it may or may not be as visible as obesity is; But you do have your go to unhealthy comfort.  Is it drowning yourself in social media, alcohol, excessive exercise, gambling, gossip, TV, sex, I can keep going and I will eventually hit something you struggle maintaining a healthy relationship with.

So here is Rachel,

on public display,

deciding she is done,

fed up,

and ready to get uncomfortable and do something about her unhealthy addiction.

 

Our culture is sales driven and the show Biggest Loser is made possible because it is entertaining enough to attract an audience advertisers are willing to “pay for”. Stuck in the middle is a LIFE, Rachel’s and the other contestants lives.

When Rachel was struggling with obesity she may have heard,

“Oh wow, you have really let yourself go”  OR

“Rachel you were so healthy and beautiful, what happened?”

The weight of the comments would be overbearing and just perpetuate her already severely damaging self-talk.

When Rachel stood up and started to do something about it, we are on her side, cheering her on, encouraging her.

“You go girl, you are looking awesome!”

“You are an inspiration!”

“I can’t believe what progress you have made.”

Then Rachel finds herself at the finale; where it is obvious she gave it her all. During her Biggest Loser journey she had mustered up an “envious” amount of strength to do something about the pit she was in. Only to wake up in the same pit she found herself in 155 lbs ago!!

All over twitter you could find quotes like these:

#BLFinale becomes literally “The Hunger Games” with Rachel starving herself for 250K.

“LOL, you are soooo gross.” -Thin Rachel #BiggestLoser #holograms

Now I want to be clear. YES, as a fitness professional I agree Rachel lost too much weight, too quickly. But just like us she will struggle with her weakness for the rest of her life. This was not the END of the story it was just a tiny part of her life we saw on TV.

As I watched the finale, my jaw dropped when she walk on stage and my heart sank with it.  I knew what was coming. I knew it would be all over the news, social media and the morning radio talk shows.  I knew that even though each and every one of us has an unhealthy relationship with something OR someone we would be quick to chastise someone who was doing their best to overcome their worst. The pressure of our culture told her she needed to change, then we cheered her on when she decided to give it her all, and then chastised her when we saw her “failure” win on TV for 5 minutes that night.

Now can I ask you to bring to mind the unhealthy relationships you are struggling with?

What do you need from me?

May I guess you need my unconditional love, you need me to believe in you, listen to you, get to know you. Most of all you need me to offer you the SAME space and grace I need.  Space to LEARN how to flip the switch from “unhealthy” to “healthy”  and GRACE to do it as many times as it takes.

As a Christian I am called to LOVE unconditionally. I am not able to pass judgement because I am not FREE of my “issues” ever, no matter how perfect or on top of things it may seem.  The only words I should ever offer someone is kind words because I know if the self- talk that is in my head is in their head too that battle is already a difficult one.

Who do you need to extend GRACE and SPACE too? Or perhaps you need to believe you are worthy of receiving it.

Please keep going,

don’t give up

and remember to extended space and grace to the people around you.

Extended to people whether they are people you are close to and have a personal relationship with or someone you got to know a tiny bit once upon a time on a TV show.

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24 

Interested in being part of the supportive community I have started on facebook? Pop by my “Ira McNamara” facebook page and let’s connect.

How You Can Eat More and Lose Weight

Eat MORE and lose weight?………well that got your attention didn’t it? 

Before you read on I want to be upfront. There is no magic in this information. No, I am not going to sell you a miracle substance. I am not going to convince you there has been a breakthrough in science and a discovery that will astonish you. There is no thorny once thought extinct plant that you can sprinkle on the cheese burger of your dreams and LOSE weight!  And no it is not available at one low price for a limited time….sorry :(

I am going to just show you a couple slides from a real person’s calorie management device to illustrate the power your small choices have in a day.

What do I want you to learn from it?

2 things

(1) Small choices add up

(2) You can eat more when you move more

When I was a Kinesiology student I remember hearing about some studies where large companies would hire a specialist to come into the sedentary workplace to come up with a plan to introduce more movement at the work place. They did mean things like lock the bathroom door to force people to walk further to another bathroom. They turned off escalators, introduced standing workstations, provided lunch time exercise classes, and several other “forced movement” tactics.

By the way forcing people to do things is never a way to actually change anything.  Change begins from the INSIDE, not by forcing change in the external environment. STOP AND TAKE THAT IN Change is an inside job!!!

FOCUS Ira ;)   Ok back to the experiment. I recall thinking (very sarcastically I might add) “Really? As if taking stairs, parking the car further away or standing at my desk would add up to anything significant.”

Enter the calorie management device.

 I starting working with a device a couple years ago that you wear on the back of your arm all day, you can even sleep with it on. This device measured with over 93 percent accuracy how many calories you burned in a day. I was testing the device on myself and was surprised by the results. On a Friday I had gone to the gym in the morning and done a really intense 1 hour spin class. Then I return home and sat at my desk for a good chunk of the day catching up on administrative tasks. Saturday morning I woke up early,  cleaned around the house, walked around the mall, did some grocery shopping, shovel the driveway (it was winter), and did not workout.

Well guess which day I burned more calories on? I will give you a hint it was not the day I worked out! What the device reveal to me was the vastness of the impact our sedentary lifestyles are having on us. You may go to the gym before or after work but if you are still sitting all day it may come as a surprise to you how few calories you are actually burning.

Here is two days in the life of one of my clients.

DAY #1 A movement filled day!

good day

On this day working out, running errands, walking the dog, shopping around the city her calorie burn was  3201 calories. Which means she can eat 2200 calories and still be on track to lose 2 pounds by the end of the week!

Lets compare that to a couch day. She did not leave the house, she watched TV, read some books, and got up to prepare some meals. In the evening she did a little extra time on her feet cleaning up and preparing a meal.

Day # 2 Sedentary Day

bad day

On this day she burned almost 1000 calories less than the previous example.  Guess what that means? In order to stay on track for a 2 lbs a week weight loss she would only be able to consume 1167 calories. That is nearly 1000 calories less then Day #1!

What does 1000 extra calories look like?

Apple (79)

24 Almonds (163)

Hard Boiled Egg (72)

2 slices of bread (120)

1 cup of cubed avocado(241)

Roasted Chicken Breast (280)

SO how can you eat more and still lose weight, move MORE! This is the way I look at it. Small changes do add up! Moving more allows me to add more nutrient dense food to my daily routines. Food is medicine and if I can eat more of the healthy stuff it is going to help deal with the nutritional deficits that are occurring with the standard north american diet.

One last note, be conscious of how much movement you are doing in a day. Each day may not present itself with the same opportunities to move. So if you find yourself on a day where you are moving less, eat less.  Equally as important if you are moving more, EAT MORE! Not just for the sake of eating more but also to keep up with your ENERGY demands!

Why Your Personal Trainer Is A Tool?

episode 7 tv

Play on words intended, got your attention didn’t it?

Have you ever said “well if I just had a personal trainer and personal chef I could be fit too?” OR have you had a trainer or fitness program promise that they are going to get you fit. If a relationship is founded on these statements, failure is inevitable.  Watch and find out Why Your Personal Trainer Is A Tool.

Slipped Up On Your Resolution Already? Why You Can’t Start Over

comfort zones

As much as you don’t like your old habits or what they produce, they are what you know and what you are comfortable with, getting rid of them is going to be uncomfortable.  Prepare yourself to push through the uncomfortable.

There is comfort in familiarity and lets be honest we like to be comfortable.  Being UNcomfortable is, well, UNcomfortable. Our disposition for familiarity is no secret either. Case in point; big box stores go to great lengths to create familiar environments.

Have you ever visited a Starbucks 5000 miles from your home that makes you feel like you never left home?

We crave the same old, same old. On the other end of the spectrum we yearn for something new.  So somewhere in the middle we desperately flounder to either IGNORE our dream or make failed attempt after failed attempt to go for it. This struggle is much more present during the NEW YEAR as we look back at what might have been and with renewed vigor set our sights higher this year.

Years ago I read a book by Bruce Wilkinson called the Dream Giver it’s a modern day parable about a man named Ordinary that lives in a place called familiar.

“For the most part, not much happened in Familiar that hadn’t happened before. Ordinary thought he was content. He found the routines reliable. He blended in with the crowd. And mostly, he wanted only what he had. Until the day Ordinary noticed a small, nagging feeling that something big was missing from his life. Or maybe the feeling was that he was missing from something big. He wasn’t sure. The little feeling grew.  And even though Nobodies in Familiar didn’t generally expect the unexpected, Ordinary began to wish for it.”

The New Year has a unique way of poking at those nagging feelings doesn’t it?

Can I ask you to trust that little nagging feeling was placed inside of you?  

Can I beg you to go get it?

Here is the truth.

The pursuit of any dream worth pursuing is not going to be easy. If I were a statistic kind of guy I would tell you right here how many people fail to use their newly purchased gym memberships a month after they purchase them.  Lucky for you I am not a statistic kind of guy. You might call me a statistic HATER!

Why? Because in that simplified sometimes skewed number is a sense that you might as well give up before you start. You feel like you already know which side of the statistic you fall on. Let’s face it you’re a victim to those numbers and you are never going to change  it.

…….WRONG! Picture me jumping up and down right now telling you “STOP, just STOP it, STOP believing these numbers have any POWER over you!

Guess what? Your comforts are literally killing you.  As much as you hate them they are going to BE HARD to get away from. You are going to want to give up, and curl right back up in those familiar habits. You need to acknowledge the journey is going to be hard. You need to prepare yourself to stay in uncomfortable for as long as it takes.

You are powerful and need to POWER up and BUILD up your RESOLVE to be uncomfortable long enough to conquer or perhaps take back some territory and expand those comfort zones. WHY?  There is much more to life on the other side of comfort.

I want you to really understand this. You are normal when not even a day into your new journey you suddenly find yourself sitting on the couch with a tub of ice cream proclaiming “what am I doing?” as you hastily throw another spoonful in. It’s easy to fall back into familiar.

How about every time you slip up you commit to getting back up, rather than feeling like you have to start over?  There is a difference.

When you are always “starting over “ it means you have  an expectation that venturing out of your comfort zone was going  to be as easy as flicking a switch.  Well it is not that easy, it takes time, it requires grace, it requires learning, it requires you to get back up and keep going.

Be faithful in the small things my friend! Over time the small ADDS up to BIG VICTORY in your life. You just got to keep getting back up. Will your spirit and ask God to make you strong and courageous as you step back into uncomfortable.  You are ready to rise above what keeps knocking you down.  You got this!