Oct 27, 2014

Honesty (FHE)

Our family home evening lesson this week was based on Chapter 31 from the Gospel Principles manual, Honesty.

Song:  We sang song #149, I Believe in Being Honest, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

I believe in being honest;
I believe in being true,
That honesty should start with me
In all I say, in all I do.
I'll form good habits in my youth,
To keep my word, to tell the truth,
To speak up in defending right
And keep my name and honor bright.
I believe in being honest;
I believe in being true,
That honesty should start with me
In all I say, in all I do.

Lesson: Honesty is a principle of salvation.  It is important to learn what honesty is, how we are tempted to be dishonest, and how we can overcome this temptation.  God is honest and just in all things (Alma 7:20). We too must be honest in all things to become like Him.

Lying is dishonest.  Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying. The Lord gave this commandment to the children of Israel: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16)  To steal is dishonest.  Jesus taught, “Thou shalt not steal” (Matthew 19:18). Stealing is taking something that does not belong to us.  To cheat is dishonest.  We cheat when we give less than we owe, or when we get something we do not deserve.

People use many excuses for being dishonest. People lie to protect themselves and to have others think well of them. Some excuse themselves for stealing, thinking they deserve what they took, intend to return it, or need it more than the owner. Some cheat to get better grades in school or because “everyone else does it” or to get even.  These excuses and many more are given as reasons for dishonesty. To the Lord, there are no acceptable reasons. When we excuse ourselves, we cheat ourselves and the Spirit of God ceases to be with us. We become more and more unrighteous.

To become completely honest, we must look carefully at our lives. If there are ways in which we are being even the least bit dishonest, we should repent of them immediately.  When we are completely honest, we cannot be corrupted. We are true to every trust, duty, agreement, or covenant, even if it costs us money, friends, or our lives. Then we can face the Lord, ourselves, and others without shame.

Activity: I had a hard time thinking of an activity for honesty, so I decided to use the story of the Boy who Cried Wolf as a base.  I had June's stuffed animal hippo run up to her and said, "June, the spider is going to get me!"  When June checked, there was no spider, and I wrapped a thing string around Baby Hippo to signify the way lying traps us.  Then, I said, "Baby Hippo, lying is wrong.  You should be honest." I repeated this a few more times, always wrapping more and more string around the animal.  The last time, I placed a big toy spider over the tied-up Baby Hippo and then had her shout for help again.  And this time, I had the spider "get" Baby Hippo because she had lied so much, no one trusted her.  She also couldn't get away herself because she was tied-up in the bands of lying.  June, of course, ended up "saving" Baby Hippo.  We talked about how to get out of the bands, through the Atonement and repentance.  I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the strings off Baby Hippo and I explained that the scissors represented the Atonement.  By applying it in our lives, we can free ourselves from the bondage of dishonesty.

Oct 21, 2014

Nutrition Strategies for Long Runs

My running has been steadily improving both in speed and in distance over the past few months.  However, for about a solid month I experienced a severely noticeable change for the worse in endurance.  Where I had been running 6-10 miles easily beforehand, I was then crashing around mile 4, to the point of needed to slowly walk the remainder of the distance home.  I couldn't figure out what was causing this.  My mileage increases were at a safe 1-2 miles per week.  I had been cutting mileage down every fourth week as a recovery week.  I was getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  I though my nutrition was just fine, as I was eating mainly veggies and proteins with some carbs.  So, I turned to my best friend, who also happens to have her masters in an exercise and nutrition field.

My nutrition was lacking horribly as an endurance athlete.  I was taking in around 1200 calories a day, which is fine if my workouts were around 30 minutes...not 2-3 hours.  My muscles literally did not have the energy to maintain endurance workouts any more.  After they used the direct energy from whatever I happened to eat prior to my workout, there was nothing left for them in reserves.  Thus, they shut down.

She recommended I increase my calorie intake, especially wholesome carbs, the day before a long run.  She was adamant I include sweet potatoes as they can provide a solid energy reserve.  She also recommended I eat a more substantial breakfast (as I usually run in the morning) before my run consisting of high-energy foods.  Her suggestion was a banana with some peanut butter wrapped in a tortilla.  But before I engaged in any long running, she insisted I take a few days off to rest, recover, and refuel.

I did everything she recommended.  I ate higher quality meals with carbs, protein, and plenty of veggies.  I hydrated more.  I rested.  Really rested.  Then, three days later, I ran and I ran well.  I killed my 13-mile long run.  Not only was I able to run the entire distance, but I did so at a pace that nearly surpassed my personal record.  Here is a sample day of employing this new fueling strategy:

Pre-Run: Banana PB Roll-up
1/2 banana with 1 tbsp peanut butter spread rolled in a tortilla.  Drink 1 serving pre-workout beverage.
Banana PB Roll-up

Breakfast/Post-Run: Pumpkin Protein Shake
Ingredients: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt, 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 banana, 2 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 5 ice cubes
Directions:  Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
Pumpkin Protein Shake
Lunch: Salmon with Chili Aioli  (recipe from Runner's World)
Ingredients: 3 tbsp mayo, 1 tsp jarred sriracha chili sauce, one 5-ounce can salmon, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, 1 minced garlic clove, salt to taste, 2 slices rye bread, 1 cup arugula, 1 slice tomato
Directions: Mix mayo and sriracha; set aside. Combine salmon, lemon juice, dill, garlic, and salt. Divide between 2 slices of rye; top each with arugula, tomato, and half the aioli.  Serve with 1/2 cup sweet potato fries.
Salmon with Chili Aioli on Rye
 Dinner: Honey Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes with side garden salad (recipe from recipe.com)
Ingredients: 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 lb baby Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 medium onion cut into thin wedges, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/8 cup honey, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp potato starch, 1/2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
Directions: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Place the potatoes, onion and garlic in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker; top with chicken.  Stir together honey, juice, cornstarch, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken. Cover and cook, 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high. Serve garnished with rosemary sprigs, if desired.
Honey Rosemary Chicken
 Snack: Popcorn, cottage cheese, or yogurt

There it is, a fairly obvious and effective solution to my muscular fatigue.  Eat better, eat more, and rest.  Now, I'm hoping that this new fueling strategy will carry me to another personal record at the DFW Monster Dash Half Marathon this Saturday.

Oct 16, 2014

Charity (FHE)

Monday night, I taught Miss June about the virtue of charity for Family Home Evening.  I based my lesson on chapter 30: Charity from the Gospel Principles Manual.

Song: We sang song #61 from the Primary Children's Songbook: Jesus Said Love Everyone.  This is a nice, short song that nicely sums up the lesson theme.  It goes as follows:

Jesus said love ev'ryone;
Treat them kindly, too.
When your heart is filled with love,
Others will love you.

Lesson: Charity is the pure love of Jesus Christ.  His entire existance reflects His perfect love for every single one of us.  He set the perfect example for us to follow.  He taught us His gospel and invited us to partake in its saving ordinances.  He atoned for our sins and sacrificed His life so that we all will be resurrected and will all have the opportunity to repent and receive eternal happiness.  By His example, He showed us that the spiritual and physical needs of our fellowmen are as important as our own. Before He gave His life for us, He said: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12–13).

We should not try to decide whether someone really deserves our help or not (see Mosiah 4:16–24). If we have taken care of our own family’s needs first, then we should help all who need help.  Jesus taught that we should give food to the hungry, shelter to those who have none, and clothes to the poor.  When we visit the sick and those who are in prison, it is as if we were doing these things for Him instead. He promises that as we do these things, we will inherit His kingdom. (Matthew 25:34–46.)

The Apostle Paul taught that when we have charity we are filled with good feelings for all people. We are patient and kind. We are not boastful or proud, selfish or rude. When we have charity we do not remember or rejoice in the evil others have done. Neither do we do good things just because it is to our advantage. Instead, we share the joy of those who live by truth. When we have charity we are loyal, we believe the best of others, and we are kind to them. The scriptures teach that “charity never faileth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8.)

One way we can become charitable is by studying the life of Jesus Christ and keeping His commandments.  Second, when we have uncharitable feelings, we can pray to have greater charity.  Third, we can learn to love ourselves, which means that we understand our true worth as children of our Heavenly Father. Fourth, we can avoid thinking we are better than other people. We can have patience with their faults.  We can do our best to develop charity for our fellow men.  As we do so, our testimonies and our ability to love others will grow.

Activity:  I asked June to name some of the people she loves and cares about.  She listed off family members, friends, and even our dog.  I asked her if she could think of something nice we could do for one of them to show that we love them.  June helpfully suggested that we give our friends some cookies.  So, we thought long and hard of a person that we felt could use a little extra love and we surprised them with a homemade batch of pumpkin spice sugar cookies and a fun Halloween card.  June loves to help me in the kitchen.  I never really baked desserts before I had her, and now she has me experimenting and practicing with recipes just because she loves to watch, help, and give helpful directions.  Any activity like this, where June can help make something we can eat later, turns out to be very successful.  And, we get the added blessing of a delicious (hopefully) treat afterwards.

I know that this activity closely resembles the one we did for service, but servicing others is such a wonderful way to show them that we care.  Ofttimes, through serving and helping others, we emulate charity and those people feel of Christ's love for them because of those very actions.

Ways to show kindness and love to others every day

Oct 13, 2014

The Lord's Law of Health (FHE)

For our Family Home Evening last week, I based the lesson on the Gospel Principles manual chapter 29, the Lord's Law of Health.  I included a lot of the lesson text from this chapter here, as I feel the Word of Wisdom is a critical law we should keep.  Through it we can become both physically and spiritually stronger, healthier, and happier.  Once I started really keeping the Word of Wisdom, I found that my health problems are lessened, my spirits are higher, my confidence in myself has grown, I've literally been running faster than ever, and I'm just happier.  I know that this is from God and I strongly encourage all to live it to the best they can.

Song: We sang song #154 the Word of Wisdom, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:
The Lord has revealed the Word of Wisdom to Joseph Smith the Prophet.
If we obey, and follow in faith, beautiful blessings are promised:
A clean body, a clear mind, a spirit in tune with the Lord;
These are promised to all who follow the word and will of God.

Lesson: Our bodies are temples of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).  Because our bodies are important, our Father in Heaven wants us to take good care of them. He knows that we can be happier, better people if we are healthy. The Holy Ghost can be with us if our bodies and minds are clean. Our Father knows that we face temptations to treat our bodies unwisely or to take harmful things into them. For this reason He has told us which things are good for our health and which things are bad. This revelation is called the Word of Wisdom and is contained in D&C 89.

We must obey the Word of Wisdom to be worthy to enter the temple. If we do not obey the Word of Wisdom, the Lord’s Spirit withdraws from us. If we defile the “temple of God,” which is our body, we hurt ourselves physically and spiritually.

The Lord commands us not to use wine and strong drinks, meaning drinks containing alcohol. The First Presidency has taught that strong drink often brings cruelty, poverty, disease, and plague into the home. It often is a cause of dishonesty, loss of chastity, and loss of good judgment. It is a curse to all who drink it.  We should also avoid coffee, tea, any tobacco, and all illegal drugs.  We should also avoid overeating. The Word of Wisdom does not tell us everything to avoid or consume, but it does give us guidelines.

The Lords tells us what we should do to be healthy!  We should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and herbs--especially in their season.  We should eat meat, but sparingly.  Grains are also good for us.  We should also go to bed early and make sure to get enough sleep.  We should exercise and keep our physical bodies active!   We should “cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; … cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C 88:124).
When we keep the Lord’s law of health and obey His other commandments, the Lord promises to bless us physically and spiritually.  Physically we have been promised good health. As a result of this good health we “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:20). This is a great blessing, but the spiritual blessings He has promised us are even greater than the physical ones.  President Boyd K. Packer taught: “Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication. The Word of Wisdom is a key to individual revelation."

Activity: I printed out the above food cutouts from Mormon Mommy Blogs and then spread them all across the bed.  I gave June her baby hippo stuffed animal (a hand puppet would've worked better, but I had to work with what I have).  I told June she had to use what she learned to feed Baby Hippo all the good things that will keep her healthy and strong.  So, June would grab a paper and "feed" it to Baby Hippo.  I would then have her stuffed animal jump up and down and shout, "That was yummy!  I feel great!" for the healthy answers.  If she tried to give Baby Hippo a harmful substance, I would turn the stuffed animal on its back and tell June, "Oh no!  That was bad for Baby Hippo!  She is dying!  Quick, find her something healthy!"  And then June would scramble and find a healthy paper.  Then, she would throw the harmful substance off the bed.  After we had sorted everything, I told June that Baby Hippo still needed to exercise to be healthy and strong, so I put on a song and we all danced along to it.  After the dance, Baby Hippo needed to sleep so she could be healthy and rested, so June put her to bed and tucked her in.

This activity is one my mother had used when she taught Primary!  June had a blast feeding her baby hippo the right foods.  She had almost as much fun throwing the harmful substances off the bed.  She kept playing and replaying this game on her own long after FHE was done. 

June found all the good food!
When it comes to the Word of Wisdom, I find it important to teach the things we should eat and do along with what we should avoid.  Good nutrition, exercise, and rest are essential to our health and well-being.

Oct 3, 2014

Running to a Playlist or Pandora?

I used to have a set playlist for Every. Single. Run.  I would take about 10 minutes before I'd head out the door to select the songs I wanted to hear for that specific run and arrange them in the exact order I wanted to hear them.  That is, until I discovered Pandora.  Now, I just pick a station I'm in the mood for, or one that my workout demands (think interval training or tempo run , something with a fast beat).  Pandora seems to know just what I want to hear.  With this month being October, I've been running to their Halloween stations.  It makes my workouts seem more festive with the season.

However, for races I need the structure and guaranteed beats-per-minute a planned-out playlist provides.  The songs that now grace the "run fast and faster" portion of my race playlist are listed below.  These songs helped carry me to three personal records this year in the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon.  No kidding, for my half marathon, I just played this list (with a few slower songs to plan for breaks) on repeat.

Let's Get it Started by the Black Eyed Peas
Break Free by Ariana Grande
Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
Country Song by Seether
She Looks so Perfect by 5 Seconds of Summer
I Wanna Get Better by the Bleachers
We are Young by Fun
Chocolate by the 1975
Centuries by Fallout Boy 
Candy Man by Christina Aguilar
Young Volcanoes by Fallout Boy
Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga
Cruise (remix) by Florida Georgia Line
When You Were Young by the Killers

 At times I feel like adding some more spiritual songs to the playlist above.  Usually these are days when I'm feeling angry or lethargic and I need a spiritual pick-me-up.  I like to use the hymns that are put to pop or rock music as they are still uplifting and also have the beats per minute I need.

The Iron Rod by Dodging Philips
Onward Christian Soldiers by the Cretins
In the Hollow of Thy Hand by Sugarland Run
Come Come Ye Saints by Slender
We are All Enlisted by Magstatic
Called to Serve by Edit Nothing
Onward Christian Soldiers by Stretch Armstrong

For my seasonal racing, specifically the Halloween and Christmas themed races I'll be competing in, I will be adding some holiday-appropriate songs to keep me in a festive mood.  If you are just as holiday-crazed as myself, here are those very songs that will be gracing my Halloween playlist.  I'll post my Christmas songs around the time I let myself start listening to Christmas music...the day after Thanksgiving.

Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett
Sweet Dreams (are made of these) by Marilyn Manson
Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show
I Put a Spell on You by Screamin' Jay Hawks
Calling all the Monsters by China Anne McClain
Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr
Thriller by Michael Jackson
Purple People Eater by Mad Professors 
This is Halloween from the Nightmare Before Christmas

If any of you have Thanksgiving, New Years, Valentine's Day, or Easter playlists that would work for a good run, I'd love to see them!

Race Report: Race for the Cure Amarillo

Team Taylor at the 2014 Amarillo Race for the Cure
This Saturday, my amazing family and friends gathered in downtown Amarillo to honor our loved ones as Team Taylor for the Race for the Cure.  Three of us traveled 90 minutes to participate in this great cause.  Together, we ran/walked in remembrance of my mother Pamela Taylor, my aunt Valorie Taylor, my grandfather William Taylor, my uncle James Nelson, and Erika's mother Tracy Burden.

June hugs before the race!  She's still sleepy here, after a long night of fun with her Uncles.

I ran first, the 5K competitive race.  Since it usually takes me 3 miles just to warm up, I decided it would be best if I arrived an hour early so I could hopefully start the process before the race.  I completed some high knees, butt kicks, lateral shuffles, and strides.  Then I jogged around the block.  Already I could feel my muscles limber up in anticipation of the approaching event.  Erika recommended I listen to a proven speed-encouraging songs, so I selected my go-to tempo run playlist and had it start at the faster songs.  Warmed up and ready, I approached the finish line and the race began.  I felt great the entire run!  I could've even gone faster, or run father!  Since I've been purely training for a half-marathon, I started this race on the slower side until about mile 1 when I realized I could just be in my "end of race kick" the whole time.  So, I picked up the pace and finished with a new 5K personal record of 28:28!  I'm so happy with a 9 minutes per mile pace!   Along with this achievement, my favorite part was seeing June cheering me on near the finish line with my brothers and my father.
Racing to the finish
Following the competitive run was the 5K/2 mile fun run.  Everyone participated in this division.  Erika and Jenn pushed their daughters the entire distance in their strollers.  June held Grandpa's hand the whole time.  She even received a fun balloon upon finishing.  It brings me so much joy to share my love of running with my family and friends, and to use it as a way to honor those who have passed on.

June and Grandpa

We each participated in our own race, remembering those people who's influence made such an impact on each of our lives.  Their love and their lives will shine as a beacon of light for all their posterity.  Every stride we took was a testament to the lives and strength and courage of these incredible people.

June loves her balloon!