Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's Time to Talk about SANE

Many of you know that body image issues have been a struggle for me for most of my life.

I started counting calories when I was nine, I ate between 600 and 900 calories a day the summer before I started high school, and throughout my first 14 years of motherhood, I tried to eat as little as possible each day--and still get out to exercise (even when I was exhausted from being up all night).  That part of my story hasn't been pleasant.

About a year ago, I started something new.  I read The Calorie Myth my Jonathan Bailor, and my frustrations with food and exercise finally made sense to me. He explained the science behind how our bodies work. He told me which foods would help my metabolism to heal. More importantly, he helped me to finally achieve "nutritional serenity," so I don't even have to think about calories anymore.

I wish I could explain how much this has meant to me. Looking back, I can't believe how many years I spent going hungry.

(These are my "before and after" photos - I can't tell you how reluctant I have been to post these, but I know it's helpful for people to see...)

But the story gets better...a lot better.

My daughter, Alia, started struggling with her weight when she was in third grade.  I helped her to count calories (like I did), and I encouraged her to eat less sugar.  I also tried to get her moving more and invited her to participate in my workout DVDs.  Nothing worked. She kept getting heavier and heavier.

However, when I started applying the advice from Jonathan and The Calorie Myth, she saw that it was working for me, and she began to follow my lead.

It was slow at first. We started eating green smoothies together, and I showed her how to get protein into every meal. But over the course of a few months, her entire body changed.  Every few weeks, we were heading off to Old Navy to buy her smaller pants and poking new holes in her belt so she could tighten it.

It wasn't only her body that transformed.  She became happier and more confident than I had ever seen her--without EVER being hungry.

Last September, I reached out to Jonathan Bailor on Twitter and thanked him for making a difference in our lives. Then I invited him on Power of Moms Radio, and he invited me onto his podcast.

We talked about Alia--and all the mothers, fathers, and children out there who are overweight and/or diabetic--not because they are weak, but because they don't know what to do besides "eat less and exercise more."

Then we decided we could do something together to help save lives. We outlined a step-by-step program for families--including things like how to grocery shop, how to pack SANE lunches, and how to eat healthfully while on the go. We recorded videos about how to get organized so the process would feel easier, and we interviewed Alia regarding how she made this transformation as a 15-year-old girl.

This week, our SANE Families program has launched. 

It has taken hundreds of hours behind the scenes to get it up and running, and there's still a lot of work ahead of us to get it out to the families who need it, but this is part of my Butterfly Project I've been telling you about.

My life and Alia's life have been so transformed by Jonathan's work that we feel compelled to share it with others who are struggling like we were.

If you want to hear our podcast with Jonathan and learn more about our SANE Families projects, this is the link that includes all of the key SANE information:

So excited about this--and hopeful that we can make a real difference.

Much love,

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

When Your Knowledge of God is Deep in Your Core

***Quick Book Update (before I start this post):

Thank you all for your support and inquiries regarding my upcoming book, Your Children Want YOU!  I am more excited about it than I can say, and I thought it might be helpful to let you know what's happening.

(1) The book is finished.  It has taken more than two years, but it's done.

(2) I shared it with my dear friend Rachel Nielson, who is more than an editor. She's a deliberate mother who lost her amazing mom to cancer years ago (you can read her story here). Out of everyone in the world, I felt like she could give me the feedback I needed on this book.

(3) She did. In fact, her feedback was so good that I decided to take some extra time to apply all of her edits and publish the book "right." Rachel has never met my mom, but she knows her. She would say things about my book like, "I don't think you meant it this way. I think your mom would have said ____ instead."  And she was absolutely right.

(4) The book is coming. I feel like it's a sacred project that will not only honor my mother, but will strengthen others who need her.

This is what I wrote in the dedication:

To My Mother, Zoe:
Even though you can no longer remember these stories, 
I am keeping them safe for you and sharing your light with the world.

So I'll be announcing more soon, but if you want to receive an email when I launch, please sign up at  (the new site my husband and I just launched that I'll talk more about soon!)

With love,
April here's today's post:

I was about to jump into my day (lots of emails and projects calling my name), but I felt like I should pause for a moment to record a powerful experience that won't leave me. I hope it will be helpful for you.

Last Thursday, my children and I went to visit my mom (as usual!).  We went boogie boarding at the beach first, so we were a bit tired when we got there.  I actually crawled into my mom's hospital bed right next to her and took a little nap while she held me. I haven't done something like that in nearly 20 years.

Well, after our rest time and our dinner, my sister Laura came over to visit for a little while.  We pulled up a few chairs around Mom's hospital bed--me, Laura, Grace, and Alia--and then we just talked.

Mom doesn't participate in these conversations anymore.  She usually fiddles with her bedding or hugs her stuffed animal (a blue bunny this week!), and then whenever we make eye contact, she smiles at us like this:

A few minutes into the conversation, Laura mentioned that she was teaching a lesson at church that Sunday about justice and mercy.  (This excellent talk was the basis for her lesson...I definitely recommend reading it.)

We talked for a bit about what kinds of questions she could ask in her lesson and about how we have personally felt the Lord's mercy in our lives.

Then I shared a thought that has been strengthening me for the last few weeks:

I need the Lord's mercy every single day. Sometimes I look at the challenges--and the opportunities--in front of me, and I think, "There is NO way I can do this. Zero. I don't have what it takes. I don't have the energy. I can't possibly get through this. I am not up to the task." 

But then I step back for a moment, and I ask myself, "Has there EVER been a time--even once--when the Lord has let me down?" 

And the answer is, "Not once."  There hasn't been one time in my entire life when I have felt like I was falling, and when I have called to the Lord for help, and when he hasn't come to rescue me. He gives me SO much more than I merit, and so when I start walking into what seems to be a long, dark, overwhelming time in my life, I only need to remember that I have help RIGHT there.

The power I feel when I remember these thoughts completely lifts me. However, what is more powerful is what my mom was doing while I shared those thoughts.

"Look," Laura said, "Look at Mom. She's listening. She's here. She's nodding her head."

I turned to look at my mother (who is about five years into her Alzheimer's), and although she didn't have the words to say it, this is what I felt:

April, what you're saying is true. The Lord is there for you. He's there for me. Don't give up. NEVER doubt Him. His mercy is a gift, and whenever you need Him--no matter what--He will take care of you. 

I wish I could have taken a photograph or a video of her face and her eyes. I wish you could have seen how she wasn't confused or distracted for those few moments.

And do you know why?

Because her knowledge of God is so deep in her core that nothing--not Alzheimer's, not dementia, not old age--can take it from her.

That is what I want for me and for my family.

Forget about all of the shallow things that get way too much attention these days.  They don't matter.

Forget about the questions or doubts that creep in.  They're not from the right Source.

Life is not easy--for anyone. But I have no doubt whatsoever that God loves us, knows us, and cares for us.  It is by His power that we can do whatever He asks.

I hope you can feel His love for you today.

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