Last year I set only two goals: pray and read the Bible. I intentionally focused on essentials, knowing I wouldn’t be able to grow more than I already had on my plate. 2016 was a year of major transition, sleepless nights, and very little margin as we tried to figure out how to be a family of five. If you are in a season of transition or change like I was, know that it’s okay—and very healthy—to focus on essentials only. Our heartbeat around here is to encourage you to cultivate what matters, right where. That’s exactly what I learned to do last year.

Coming out of that season, I am extra grateful (more than I ever was before) to be able to dig into my four goals for 2017. I shared with you how I’m growing my number one goal, and now it’s time for number 2: Run, and finally get back into weight training.

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The backstory: I haven’t had a gym membership since Grace was born, and I haven’t done real weight training in just as long. I am a former personal trainer, and used to love being in the gym, and feeling strong. But, the logistics with kids and the gym just haven’t worked out. This is a goal I have wanted to make progress on for several years, but the Lord finally said, “It’s time.”

Why this goal? So many reasons! I will live longer, healthier, and more at peace. When I am strong, I’m able to be active with my kids. When my body is healthy and strong, my mind feels the same. Also, I am nearing 40 and feeling my body changing. It’s time to steward well what the Lord has given me.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: I may have more energy, better focus, and more endurance to love on the people around me well. That’s exciting!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: SO grateful I leaned into the tension I felt in finally starting this goal, and excited for another year ahead of little-by-little progress. UPDATE: I am already feeling this!

Lara Casey Blog Running Weight training with kids3My little personal trainers like to make obstacle courses for me every day! Case in point above from this morning’s workout: Josh pulled all the books off the shelf. 

Starting steps: Since getting to a gym isn’t in the cards with all these kiddos in the mornings, I’m doing this at home with some free weights (I have 3lbs, 5lbs, 10lbs, and 12lb weights that I got on Amazon). My first action step is to ask you for suggestions on other at-home training gear (preferably that doesn’t take up much space!). UPDATE: I realized that these simple weights are all I need right now! My second action step is to open my iCal, and write in a gentle plan to ease into weight training again, focusing on large muscle groups and core strength. DONE! I’m going to write out a new plan each six weeks based on where I am.

HOW I’M MAKING PROGRESS SO FAR: The core of this goal is to get active so I can be my best for my family. So, it’s not just about running and weight training—it’s about living an active lifestyle. Well, I have to tell you that the number one thing that has helped me so far, besides God giving me health to be able to move around in the first place, is that Ari and I made the decision to get Fitbits. Before I tell you about this, you do not need a Fitbit to make progress on a fitness goal. There are free pedometer apps for iPhone and lots of other ways to track activity (or you can WIN A FITBIT here on the blog - giveaway ends soon!). We were hesitant about these purchases. Both Ari and I don’t love buying gadgets. We sat on it for several weeks and asked friends who had them already how they liked them. As Ari turned 39 in December, and I turned 37, that 40 number seemed to call us to get serious about these bodies God has given us to steward well. We both chose the Fitbit Charge 2. Here’s the crazy part. Almost immediately, we became more active as we tried hitting our daily step goals. This is proof that knowledge about where you are can spark big change and motivation. (This is why I’ve always started with evaluating where you are in Goal Setting.) We have also had a lot of fun competing with each other, which is fun for our marriage! : ) Tracking my activity each day has been eye-opening. It was rather shocking to see how inactive I was in my work day, compared to the step-fiestas I have when I’m with the kids. It caused me to completely changed the way I work! I’m currently typing to you standing in the hallway with my computer on the stairwell ledge, stepping in place. Hi!

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Everyone on our team is encouraged to get up and move around during meetings. And I intentionally get up and walk around now every few minutes while I’m working. This has helped my productivity, energy, and mood – sitting all day leaves you feeling blah.

Okay, on to running and weight training!

IMG_0442Many of you have asked me about the gliding board Grace is riding on – it’s this one and we love it!

Running: It’s too cold to take the kids out in the jogging stroller right now, so I’m staying in till spring. We have an old elliptical we got on Craigslist several years ago that lives in our bedroom, and I actually use it. (I also run the stairs in our house when I want to switch it up—no exercise machine needed if you don’t have one!) After all the kids are up (around 5am), I get them fed, change all the diapers, lots of snuggles, and then it’s VeggieTales time. Josh and Sarah hang in the pac-n-play and they all watch a couple episodes while I work out. Here’s where I’m making the most of my time and making progress on several goals together. Like I shared with you in my last Goal Gardening post, I am listening to the audio version of the Blue Letter Chronological Bible. This is what I do during the first few minutes of my workout. Then, I turn on a gospel music playlist I made, pick of the pace, and mimic a running speed. I don’t have a formula for this — I just go faster when the music makes me feel like going faster! : ) Because if it isn’t fun, it’s not going to last, and so far, I’m having a lot of fun! I do cardio for about 40-50 minutes, depending on the patience level of my three little workout buddies.

Lara Casey Blog Running Weight training with kids1This morning’s heavy lifting. Photo by Grace : )

Weights: Every other day, I do free weights after my cardio time. First, I stretch, then I do a couple circuits (15 reps each) of back rows, shoulder press, abs, body-weight single-leg squats, holding-one-of-the-babies squats, and that’s it! I’m easing into this, and I already feel so much stronger after less than a month.

*For those of you who remember me mentioning my Diastasis Recti last year, I’m very grateful to say that, after a year and a half, it is finally healing. I had a four-finger gap after Josh was born, and for most of last year. This gave me back pain, and I often felt off-balance due to a lack of core stability. Ari kept encouraging me to keep up basic core exercises and see if my body would heal over time. Thankfully, I can now feel the layer of muscle coming together in the space that used to be a gaping hole. I still have an umbilical hernia, but since it’s not harmful at this point, it’s nothing I want to pursue fixing surgically. Just thought I’d give you an update!

Lara Casey Blog Running Weight training with kids2Everyone wants to join in when I do abs!

Diet: Many of you have asked me about diet. This is one of those subjects that I don’t love talking about, because everyone’s body and needs are so different. But, in order to grow muscle strength and endurance, you need proper fueling too! Here are some basics I’m following, most of which I learned as a trainer years ago. 1. I eat often. I always have. Every couple hours I have a mini-meal with a balance of protein and good carbs. 2. I eat veggies 3-4 times a day. I have a couple hearty salads throughout the day (meaning, not just lettuce, but loaded with vegetables, nuts, etc.), and we always have veggies of some sort with dinner. 3. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. It makes me feel sluggish, so I avoid it. 4. I go through a lot of protein – maybe 8 eggs a day, organic chicken, and I love Vega protein powder (I add it to cereal and oatmeal every day) and Health Warrior protein bars. 5. Lastly, I drink a lot of water. These are basic guidelines I follow, and they have helped me have energy for these workouts, and life in general. Again, everyone is different, so do what works for you! Side note: I’m still eating dairy and soy-free for Josh. We’re down to one nursing session a day, and I haven’t missed dairy at all in the last 18 months. I will likely stick with this!

PowerSheets Lara Casey progress

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I am breaking this goal down in my monthly PowerSheets pages (an update is above with some progress made!) so that I have measurable milestones to hit, enabling me to track my progress. Overall though, I will know I made progress by my physical strength and endurance growing over time, and the fruit of my hard work coming out in my interactions with my family. UPDATE: Yes! I have had far more energy to run with Grace to see Walter at the mailbox, and chase kiddos : )

Encouraging words: (A pep talk to myself!) With His strength, you can gain strength!

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: The first thing that comes to mind is going on a celebratory family run with the kids in the jogging stroller, going to the local trampoline park with the family, heading out for a family hike, or setting up a fun Isaacson Olympics obstacle course for the kids. I’ll see what everyone is up for come December!

My best advice after a few weeks of doing this is to be committed to your goal, and flexible about how you make it happen. Easing into this new lifestyle has been so good! If I would have done too much off the bat, I’m sure I would have gotten burned out. Little by little progress adds up, and it is helping me to keep at it. : )

I’d love to hear: Do you have a fitness goal this year of some sort? What is your goal? What is helping you make progress? I can’t wait to hear!

18 Show Comments
  1. Bianca

    my goal is to read more books than last year & to get stronger in my faith by doing devotionals.

  2. Jenny Bailey

    Last year I started mountain biking with my husband and while I loved the time with him and the activity of it I can’t say I did very well. I am pretty sure that at one point I had Xs where my eyes were supposed to be. One of my goals this year was to strengthen my legs and lungs so that we could go out riding together more. I can’t really work up speed riding around my neighborhood so I bought a spin bike! I listen to ebooks while I ride miles and miles in my kids’ playroom every day and I can already feel a difference.

  3. Emily DeArdo

    This is really helpful, Lara! Fitness is definitely the area I struggle with the most when it comes to goal setting. Thanks so much for sharing your routine–it’s really inspiring!

  4. Catherine

    Lara and/or PowerSheets community, do you have any tips for moving from “I should” to “I want this even if it’s hard?” I don’t yet have a fitness goal though I know I need one, for all the reasons you stated in your “why” above. Thanks!

    • Lara

      Great question! Here are some additional prompts to help you dig deeper on your fitness goal:

      1. Imagine yourself a year from now, having made progress on your fitness goal. How will you feel?
      2. If you DON’T take action on your goal, how will you feel? How will that affect others?
      3. (to me this is the biggest question) Has God told you to take action on this goal? If so, why does He want you to follow-through on this?

      I hope that helps! These are the questions I ask myself : )

  5. Catherine

    Thank you! Question #3 is the best. Strangely enough, at this point I am just hearing “follow and abide in me”, which I’m doing as well as I can. Nothing specific about food or exercise. I’ll pray some more and see what develops. Thanks again! :-)

    • Lara

      Yes, I felt like I *should* have fitness as a goal for much of the last few years, but God never gave me a big YES on it. The seasons wasn’t right. Not that I wasn’t supposed to take care of myself, but I didn’t feel He was telling me to make it a major focus. I hope that encourages you!

  6. Morgan

    What core exercises do you do for your diastasis recti?

    • Lara

      Very basic – laying on the floor and flexing my lower abdominal muscles in toward my spine, planks, etc. : )

  7. CJohn

    Thank you!

  8. Jenna Gilbreath

    This post is super encouraging! Last year, my husband and I made a huge, unexpected jump to an almost-paleo/whole 30 diet as a lifestyle. I’ve always been slow to be excited about fitness and so hearing your motivations for getting back into fitness is incredibly encouraging! There’s more to fitness than doing it because “you should.”

  9. Rose

    Thank you for sharing Lara! I am so appreciative!

    My fitness goal involves my son. We had such a devastating 2016. He even said just yesterday how happy he is this new year!

    I do believe living intentionally by incorporating your PowerSheets, The CWM groups, podcasts, blogs etc. has changed the trajectory of our year… and our health/fitness has improved as a result …Thank you Lara and to everyone on your team at Cultivate What Matters. I am so thankful. I pray fervently for you all and your families!

    We are taking fun fitness classes or just working out together 5-6 days per week. I want to have fun with him and I know he likes cycling and learning to use the weights and equipment properly…

    Laughing with him and seeing us grow stronger physically and as mother and son… it touches my heart and truly motivates me!

  10. Rose

    Thank you for sharing how you incorporate fitness into your everyday routine. With your background as a trainer … for you to recommend this is encouraging.
    You and your husband’s decision to purchase a fitbit made me think of the importance of tracking my progress…until I purchase a fitbit.

    Awesome tips! Thanks again!

  11. pam

    Your little one is gorgeous! (actually all of your little ones!)