Ezekiel’s Birth Story

“I’m so glad everything went okay for you in the end. It’s so hard to explain to other women how scary giving birth is!”

Post birth, I was a bit taken back by these words. Scary? I hadn’t found the prospect or the process of birth scary at all. It was something I was prepared for, and honestly, looking forward to. I wanted to shout to the world and explain to women how NOT scary it is. Even though things didn’t quite go according to plan for me – I had been disappointed, but never afraid. I felt very in control and in the end I even felt empowered by the whole experience.

Now, before you begin to think that I am this extremely tough Amazon of a woman who takes pleasure in pain, let’s get this straight: I hate pain. Hate it. I have an extremely low pain threshold, and I’m a renowned hypochondriac. I could never get a tattoo even if I wanted one, as I’m very likely to faint when I get a small injection or a blood test taken. I can have a little cold and will act like I’m dying. Dr. Google has sent me into hysterics and the doctor’s office many a time – simply for me to find that the fatal diagnosis is merely a matter of a common cold or a bit of trapped gas (very sad, but unfortunately very true). Because of this, I had always thought that I would find labour extremely difficult – bordering on the unbearable.

Before I became pregnant, the birthing process wasn’t something I allowed myself to dwell on for very long at all. I would talk about it with others freely, but I would never think of myself going through it. When I became pregnant, however, the reality hit me, and I realised that I was going to have to face it in the end.

But how was I going to face it?

Here’s another fun fact about me: I also hate taking any kind of medication. Ironic, is it not? While having some mild symptoms may cause me to think my life is at stake, taking medication of any kind is enough to convince me that it is. More often than not I would rather suffer than to take pain medication.

I know, I’m strange – but it was these two sides to my being playing together in perfect discord that caused me to seek out alternatives to the pain medications commonly offered during the birthing process. I had read about epidurals, how they made it difficult to know when to push and increased the risk of tearing, an assisted delivery, or a cesarean. You also need to have a catheter inserted when you have a cesarean – something I’m honestly more afraid of than pain (it’s just a thing with me, I don’t get it either). I had also read that the baby could have traces of the medication in his system for a while after birth, affecting the baby’s ability to breastfeed. That was something I definitely didn’t want.

So after some research and long and careful thought, I decided I wanted to aim for as natural a delivery as possible. Whatever other people chose to do was fine with me, but this was what I wanted.

I told my midwife (whom I met at 36 weeks because we traveled from Singapore to my home country, Australia, to give birth), and she was very supportive. “Just tell them when you go in that you want a natural delivery, and they won’t even try to offer it to you.” Excellent. I was determined.

Me at 40 weeks

Early Labour

I had told myself the whole pregnancy that my baby was going to come early because I’d stayed so active, but at 39 weeks and 6 days my due date was looming and as yet nothing had happened. Looming due dates carry with them the threat of inducement and caesareans. I didn’t want either. I was feeling the pressure. Every time I saw someone they would comment on how long the baby was taking (even though he wasn’t even due yet!). Every, “Are you still here yet?” rocked me to my core. I didn’t want to still be rocking my baby bump. I felt like my body was letting me down.

I had been having quite strong contractions (or what I thought at the time were strong contractions – more like persistent period pain, radiating from the back to the front and lasting for about 1 minute at a time, but 15-60 minutes apart) for 2 weeks. At times the contractions had come so close together (7 minutes apart for 4 hours straight) that I was sure I was properly going into labour… but then they would just die down and I’d be left wondering when the real thing would take place. Because of the contractions, I was sure that I wouldn’t make it to this last appointment – yet there I sat, the day before my due date, meeting with the midwife. She examined me to see if my cervix had dilated at all. I absolutely hate vaginal examinations – and this was a painful examination, bringing on a rather intense contraction like no other contraction I had felt so far. I was reduced to sobs.

“Your cervix is thinning, but it hasn’t opened at all yet,” she explained, “The contractions are doing what they are supposed to be doing, it’s just happening slowly. I suspect it’ll start in the next couple of days – but you have until 10 days after your due date before we’ll induce you.”

Since I had been having all the contractions I was certain I would have dilated at least a little, but I hadn’t. There were now only 10 days before they would induce me. I had heard that an induction increased the intensity of the contractions and the risk of needing assistance. I didn’t want to be induced. I was determined that my body would make things happen naturally.

As lovely and sympathetic as my midwife was about the whole affair, I left the appointment sobbing and in low spirits. I hadn’t dilated at all, and there was the possibility that I would go overdue and need an induction. This wasn’t what I wanted. This wasn’t what I had prepared my body for. I was devastated by the fact that I wouldn’t be delivering by my due date, and in some twisted way I felt like a failure because of it. I was letting my baby down. I wasn’t strong enough.

Later that day my mucus plug came out. The midwife had said this might happen, since she went poking around down there. This is good,” I told myself, “this means that the delivery will be soon. Probably tonight.”

I went to a Bible study later that night. Everyone said they were surprised to see me. I groaned inwardly. I didn’t want to still be there. I wanted my body to start pushing this baby out now.

A few more days passed, and it was now 4 days past my delivery date. I had my bloody show, but still no more intense contractions. Throughout the night I had had quite a bit of bleeding, so to be sure I called the midwife. As we suspected they called us in, just to be sure. It was 4:30am. We were both sure it was probably nothing serious and we would be back in the morning, but we took the hospital bag just in case.

They set me up on the heart rate monitor and had a look at my bleeding. The bleeding was nothing to worry about, they said – but they would need to check my heart rate for 20 minutes as part of protocol.

About 10 minutes into the observation I had a contraction, and we listened in horror as the baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically. The midwife looked worried. “We’re going to have to keep you in, and see if that happens again. If it happens again, we’re going to have to look at giving you a caesarean.”

No no no. That wasn’t what I wanted. Tears rolled down my cheeks. “You just need to remember that having a healthy baby is what matters.” My husband said calmly as he massaged my shoulder.

Just then I started to feel another contraction creeping up, and we all held our breath as the nurse watched the read out intently. Thankfully this time the baby’s heart rate stayed stable.

“Ok, you won’t need a caesarean!” The midwife said as I let out a sigh of relief, “Now just let me examine you to see if you have dilated, and you can go on your way.”

I couldn’t think of anything worse at this point (I hate those examinations!), but I was ready to go and have a coffee and breakfast now. I tried to take my mind off of the whole process by talking about what we would have for breakfast afterwards while she probed – because, you know, breakfast and vaginal examinations are such great topics to throw together. Unfortunately my concentration was cut off by a particularly painful contraction mid examination.

“Your waters have broken,” the midwife said calmly.

“What?!” I exclaimed, “but I didn’t even feel them break!”

“I can’t feel the water bag. It must have broken.”

My heart sank. I knew what this meant.

“We’re going to have to induce you. This baby has to come out today.”

And with that, I was whisked off to the birthing suite. I guess I was going to be staying after all.

Active Labour

I had no idea what to expect. Induction had not been a part of my plan, so I didn’t research much on it. All I knew (from what I had been told) was that it was going to be more intense and painful – but since I had nothing to compare it to, I was fine with that. I mean, birth is intense and painful anyway right? I was disappointed with the fact this was happening, but I wasn’t afraid. I was so ready.

Actually, I take that back. I was frightened and annoyed – with the drip that I had to have put in. Yeah, that’s right – the drip. I was hooked up to a drip and I hated it. What can I say? I hate needles and things hanging out of me – which is mostly the reason I was so against having an epidural.

I was hooked up to a drip and the induction started around 9:30am.

The midwife assigned to me, Jane, was a kind but thorough woman. She had a “no-nonsense” air about her, but at the same time I could tell she was one who understood and was sympathetic to what I was going through. I was so glad she was going to be there the whole time.

“We’re going to have to do the internal examination again…” She started.

“Oh, please no!” I groaned, “They just did one!”

“Yes, but I really need to check for myself.” She explained.

“I’d really love it if I didn’t have to have another one.” I pleaded.

“Well, we’ll see – but if there’s still some water bag left you aren’t going to be able to push out this baby,” she said, and she proceeded to call the head midwife.

The head midwife came in to explain the whole procedure to me, and when she had finished, said, “Now, I really think you should consider an epidural…”

“I don’t want an epidural,” I came back quickly.

“Look, these contraction are going to come thick and fast. I’m going to keep turning this up until you are in full labour. Four contractions every ten minutes. This baby has to come today.”

“I don’t want an epidural,” I insisted. I was getting angry now.

“Seeing the way you reacted to having another internal examination, you really should consider pain medication.” She insisted.

“Look…” I began, but before I could voice my convictions again, my husband now came to my defense. “Look, my wife hates examinations. She may not seem tough, and she might cry, but she’s a lot tougher than she looks.”

At that moment I was so thankful for my husband being there to be my voice. Honestly, so much love.

The head midwife left, and I was left with Jane. “I don’t want to be asked about having an epidural again.” I said, ” It’s ruining my concentration.”

“I respect that,” Jane said, “You won’t be asked again.”

The head midwife came back in to go ahead with the internal examination. “Since you hate examinations so much, how about just taking the gas?” She suggested.

I knew the examination was going to be a bad experience for me, and the contractions were coming quicker now – so that gas tube started to look real good. Besides, the gas would leave my body right away anyway – I could just use it for the examination.

“Okay,” I sighed.

The midwives ran about getting the gas ready and started explaining to me how to use it.

“Wait, what?” the instructions all became a blur to me just as soon as they were out of the midwives mouths, “Wait, never mind. I can’t be bothered with it and I don’t want it. This isn’t part of my plan.”

I breathed deeply in and out to relax myself, as my husband rubbed my shoulder. I knew this was going to be bad. The contractions were fairly consistent now, and chances were I was going to have a contraction while they were examining me. I knew from my previous experience that that was particularly unpleasant. I took deep breaths and readied myself. “This is okay,” I reassured myself, “You are going to be okay. It’s going to be over quickly.”

The midwives examined me, “Your waters haven’t completely broken. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to break them, or this baby isn’t coming out.” They went in with a little tool and broke my waters (after the expected, painful contraction had passed), and the waters gushed out over me and the bed in one big rush. It actually felt like such a pleasant relief.

I was still really hungry at this point, so after things were settled, I told my husband to go get us both some breakfast. I knew he especially was going to need something to eat if he was going to stay there and be my support. Almost as soon as he left however, the contractions started to get really close together. By the time he returned, labour was in full swing (four contractions every ten minutes) and I wasn’t hungry at all. In fact, I felt quite nauseous.

Hubby never did get to eat his breakfast.

At this point, I felt very in control. Every time I felt a contraction coming I would breath very slowly and deeply in – and then slowly let the air out. In between contractions I would chat and laugh with the midwives (various midwives came in and out to assist), walk around, and try different positions. Though in the beginning I tried using the ball and walked around a lot, I ended up mostly either kneeling on the bed leaning against the back or laying on my side with my knees curled up. During the contractions my husband would speak to me while rubbing my back or stroking my head.


Things changed rapidly. Suddenly I didn’t want to be touched and I didn’t want to change positions. Now I didn’t feel in control – I felt like I wasn’t going through it at all. I felt like I was in a world of my own. People were coming and going, and although I could hear what was going on, they made no difference to me. I lay on my side with my knees curled up, and during each contraction I continued to breathe deeply in and out – eyes closed, stroking my fingers through my hair or rubbing my own back, and muttering to myself like a crazy person, “This is good. This is good. Baby is coming! Just think about it!”

In between the contractions I fell asleep. There wasn’t much time between contractions, but each time I fell asleep. I was exhausted. A few times I muttered to my husband, “I feel like a drunk person. I feel like I’m on drugs.” I felt like I was on drugs. Like I was having an out of body experience, and the pain was not my own, but someone else’s.

At one point another midwife came in. As I was having a contraction she got in my face, “Just breathe…”

“I AM breathing! Leave me alone!” I yelled. I found her advice annoying and it was making me lose concentration. I did apologise for yelling after the contraction.

I couldn’t tell how much time had passed since labour begun (it honestly felt like no time at all), but around the 4 hour mark, things got more intense.

“I need to PUSH!” I yelled, “There’s so much PRESSURE!”

“This is good!” the midwife said, “but don’t push yet, your body isn’t ready. You’ll know when it is.”

“But it feels ready nooooow.” I wailed. It went on like that for a while. I was so frustrated with not being able to push yet, as the pressure was terrible. As I had through the whole thing, I just kept breathing deeply – in and out.


Before long (though waiting felt like an eternity) it came time to push. The position I chose was the one I had adopted the majority of the time – laying on my side with my knees drawn up. Every contraction was accompanied by a loud “PUSH!” from several midwives.

As I kept pushing, more midwives began to stream in to help, and they even called the doctor in.

Something wasn’t right.

“You need to get this baby out. Just a few good pushes and you got this. You’ve been pushing for an hour. Your baby is getting distressed.”

An hour? Had it really been an hour? It didn’t feel like it. I didn’t want to have any assistance, so through three more contractions I pushed with all my might. On the last contraction, the baby’s heart rate dipped dangerously low.

“This baby has to come out.” the doctor explained calmly, “He’s been in the birth canal too long. He’s getting distressed. I’m going to have to make a small cut and vacuum him out.” They went about the preparations, gave me a local to the perineum, made the cut, and placed the vacuum on his head, creating some tension.

What followed was the most excruciating few minutes of my life.


While I was cut and they were pulling slightly on his head, the urge to push wouldn’t come, and the pressure was terrible. In all of my labour, this was honestly the only part that felt truly unbearable.

After what seemed like an eternity, the last contraction came and I pushed with all my might. At 3:33pm, I caught the first glimpse of my boy as they held him up, and thought my heart might explode.

Post Labour

“He’s perfect,” my husband said as he kissed me through heavy sobs, “He’s beautiful. You did so well, honey. Our boy is so perfect.”

Because his heart rate had dropped so low, they had to take him to check him over. They started to stitch me up, but all I could think of was my baby. I was still feeling quite high, and kept saying over and over, “Can I have my baby? I just want my baby.”

They finally placed him on my chest to breast feed. We watched in awe with hearts bursting as our newborn son crawled up from my belly to take a feed. We stayed that way for one full hour before I gave him to my husband to hold and I went to have a shower. Birth is very messy business.

After my shower they brought me something to eat – which by now I was very thankful for. I hadn’t eaten all day, and I was starving. As I ate I began to feel the hormones that had carried me through labour begin to leave me, and my body come down off the high I had been on. I was left feeling exhausted, my body aching, like I had run a marathon. Suddenly I wasn’t feeling so brave. I just wanted to curl up and sleep. We moved to the maternity ward to settle in.

Before my husband left for the night, he turned to me with tears in his eyes, “This is the best day of my life. I’m sorry, but I think it’s even better than the day we got married. I feel so much more in love with you than the day we married. I’m feeling so much love. It’s like there was a plug in my emotions, and that has been pulled out. I feel like I am a completely different person. I’m so excited to be starting a family with you.”

Everyone tells you exactly what you will feel when your baby is born, but you really can’t understand it until it happens. That overwhelming love you feel when you gaze on your newborn – nothing can describe it, and nothing can prepare you for it.

Like my husband had said, I felt like I had changed into a completely different person. I couldn’t stop looking at our baby, crying tears of happiness, and praying to God – thanking Him for giving me such a perfect baby boy, and asking for wisdom to be the mother he needed.

I knew that this was only the beginning.

Baby Ezekiel, first day
All three of us, ready to leave the hospital.

Even though things didn’t go entirely the way I planned, I was still able to have a positive birthing experience and not be afraid in the process. Because I didn’t want to have pain medication, I looked up how the method of “hypno birthing” worked and kind of created my own coping mechanism. Here are some simple things that helped me:

How to Lose the Fear of Labour:

1. Think of delivery positively. Every time your mind wanders to think about your delivery, force it to think of it in only a positive way. Say things to yourself like, “Women have been doing this for thousands of years and have been okay,” “God made my body to give birth to a baby, it knows what to do,” “I am strong enough,” and, “It may be painful, but it’s only for a day.”

2. Ready yourself for complications. I can’t say I was particularly ready for complications, but I had my mind so set to cope with the labour that I was able to find it a positive experience despite all the complications and interventions. Tell yourself that you will fight for your rights to a natural-as-possible birth, but in the end it is the health of the baby that matters.

3. Educate yourself. At first I avoided birth stories, thinking they would scare me, but I started to read them and found that knowledge was power. They encouraged me. It helped me realise that things could go “wrong” and still be okay. It helped me to know different situations and not to stress about them. I would recommend going to Birth Without Fear and reading some positive birth stories with different scenarios!

4. Relax. Stress is the enemy of a natural birth, as stress inhibits the natural “feel-good” hormones that your body releases to help you cope with pain. The more relaxed you are, the less pain you are likely to feel.

5. Breathe. Whenever you think of labour, practice breathing. In-two-three, Out-two three. Think happy thoughts and take deep breaths. These will calm you, and because you have practiced, it will come naturally during labour.

6. Get support. Have a birth partner who knows what you want and can vouch for you and your birth plan when you aren’t feeling so lucid. There were times when I was completely out of it, and it was so reassuring to know hubby would stand up for me. Even if you have to get a doula, having a support is extremely valuable. I honestly don’t know how I would have stayed calm without my husband’s full attention and support!

7. Give yourself good thoughts to focus on during labour. I told myself to think of contractions as a good thing, telling myself whenever the pain began to feel too much, “This is good, with each contraction, the baby comes closer.” I also gave myself scriptures to think of, such as Psalm 113 and John 16:21. These spoke to me that God keeps His promises and has great power, and that sorrow in labour is only for a moment and is quickly forgotten. I said these to myself in my head during labour.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:20, 21).

Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 113)

8. Pray. Pray specifically for how you want your labour to go – I wish I had done more of this. I prayed for a healthy baby, and for “things to go well,” but I didn’t pray for the specifics of how I wanted the birth to go down. Pray specifically for what you want to happen. Often things are a case of, “you have not because you ask not” (James 4:2).

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In the end, trust is really important. God made your body, and He made it to give birth to babies. Trust Him. Trust the body He made. Pray and leave it up to Him. He’s got this. You’ve got this.
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Sweet Potato Pancakes {Paleo; Gluten Free; Dairy Free}

I just love pancakes. Being as heavily pregnant as I was when i wrote this post, pancakes were one of the comfort foods I frequently longed for. Those cravings are for real—what everyone says about pregnancy cravings is true. Listen to those who tell you about pregnancy cravings (just don’t listen when Grandma Janie tells you that holding a black cat will steal away your baby’s soul).

Though, now that I am thinking about it, when hasn’t there been a Saturday morning that I haven’t wanted pancakes—pregnant or not? I certainly can’t think of one. I think that would be an impossibility.

Pancakes are for always. Pancakes will never let you down.


As wonderful as pancakes are however, traditional pancakes are the grain-free, allergy-free, and sugar-free eaters worst nightmare. Flour. Milk. Sugar. Various unpronounceable ingredients (if you happen to buy the packet mix). They’re all present—present and waiting to really steal away your soul. Okay, maybe not your soul, but certainly they are doing your health no favors.

That’s where these delectable pancakes come in. These particular pancakes are particularly good for you and your family because they are grain-free, and one of the primary ingredients is coconut flour. This ensures that your brain will be kept out of a fog for the morning ahead, as there are no grains weighing you down and messing up your gut—just pure, grain-free, coconutty goodness.

I just love baking with coconut flour. Low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and protein, it makes an excellent baking flour substitute. Coconut flour is worth trying as a substitute for other baking flours (and a better choice for brainy breakfast baking!), because it is has:

  • A naturally high nutritional content, which makes it a healthier, allergy-free choice
  • A high protein content (14 grams of protein per 100 grams of flour!)
  • A high fiber content, containing a whopping 43 grams of fiber per 100 grams of coconut flour—that’s double the amount found in wheat bran! The fiber content present in coconut flour is also effective at lowering cholesterol levels.
  • A low glycemic index, and so is better at regulating blood sugar levels.

I was watching a TED Talk the other day that talked about reversing Type II Diabetes where the speaker said that coconut flour was a great substitute for diabetes sufferers!

Coconut flour can be tricky to learn how to use, as it has a far different texture to regular baking flours. I have been experimenting with a sweet potato pancake recipe for a while—and finally came up with pancakes that were fluffy, light, and didn’t fall apart when I flipped them in the pan. Once you get the hang of how it works, it’s very easy to use and tastes great! Just have a go of these sweet potato pancakes and see for yourself!


Sweet Potato Pancakes {Paleo; Gluten Free; Dairy Free}


1 cup sweet potato (any variety), skin removed, cooked, cooled, and pureed (You won’t taste this, I swear! I used leftovers from another night—hooray for batch cooking! Note: I have made a batch using a blend if yellow and purple, and also a batch using gold. The former held together better, while I thought the gold tasted better – but both turned out fine)

1/4 cup coconut flour

4 eggs

4 tbsp coconut milk

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 t. vanilla extract

4 tsp coconut oil

This post is a guest post at Intoxicated on Life, and part of the "Brainy Breakfast" series. Click through the link below to see the full recipe, and check out the other contributor's contributions!

Click here to see the full recipe!

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Wholemeal Spelt Loaf with Kalamata Olives and Herbs

I personally love spelt flour. It is easy to use, feels lighter on the stomach than wheat flour, and can be easily used as a substitute for it. I generally use spelt flour as a substitute for wheat 1:1. My husband also loves the taste, which is great!

Spelt flour is a great substitute for wheat flour. It is higher in protein than wheat flour and lower in gluten. Being lower in gluten, many who are intolerant to wheat find that this ancient grain is easier to digest and has no adverse effects on their gut. Some also find that it is better tasting than wheat flour.

Buying a spelt loaf can be pricey though, in most places costing around $7 for a medium sized loaf! Making your own loaf cuts down the cost, is crazy delicious, and really is super easy. Trust me. I don’t make anything that is difficult to make.

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  • Mix the yeast and honey in water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should have turned frothy).

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  • Mean while, mix together 6 cups of spelt flour, salt, garlic powder, rosemary, and oregano.
  • Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour about 1/4 of the yeast mixture in. Pull in flour from the sides until the mixes are mixed together.
  • Repeat until fully mixed – on the last pouring in, add the chopped olives.

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  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes. 10 minutes is preferrable, but sometimes I’m just lazy – and honestly, the bread turns out fine. Add flour to the board (and replace the fallen out olives!) as needed.
  • Roll the dough in flour, covered with a cloth, and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.
  • Knead again for 3-5 minutes. cover in flour and allow to rise for another 45-60 minutes.

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  • Transfer the dough onto a tray covered in baking paper and floured, stretch and roll the dough out into a log shape, cut diagonal slits in the top of the loaf (optional, but it does make the bread look very gourmet!), and dust with flour – making sure you get flour into the cuts you have made.
  • Preheat oven to 180C while you allow the dough to rise for another 30-45 minutes.

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  • Place the tray in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it on the underside.

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Wholemeal Spelt Loaf with Kalamata Olives and Herbs 

1 very large loaf or two medium-sized loaves


2 x 11g sachets instant yeast

2 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 tbsp honey, melted

6 cups + 1 cup finely ground wholemeal spelt flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried rosemary

3 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup olive oil (or other oil)

2/3 cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped


  1. Mix the yeast and honey in water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should have turned frothy).
  2. Mean while, mix together 6 cups of spelt flour, salt, garlic powder, rosemary, and oregano.
  3. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour about 1/4 of the yeast mixture in. Pull in flour from the sides until the mixes are mixed together. Repeat until fully mixed – on the last pouring in, add the chopped olives. You may need to mix it together with your hands on this last one.
  5. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes. 10 minutes is preferrable, but sometimes I’m just lazy – and honestly, the bread turns out fine. Add flour to the board (and replace the fallen out olives!) as needed.
  6. Roll the dough in flour, covered with a cloth, and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.
  7. Knead again for 3-5 minutes. cover in flour and allow to rise for another 45-60 minutes.
  8. Transfer the dough onto a tray covered in baking paper and floured, stretch and roll the dough out into a log shape, cut diagonal slits in the top of the loaf (optional, but it does make the bread look very gourmet!), and dust with flour – making sure you get flour into the cuts you have made.
  9. Preheat oven to 180C while you allow the dough to rise for another 30-45 minutes.
  10. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it on the underside.

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Coming Out of the Cave: Dealing with Depression Like God Does

Every night she cried on her pillow. She couldn’t shake this feeling hanging over her – a feeling like she was alone, she was useless, life was pointless, and there was nothing she could do to make things better.

It seemed like nothing brought her joy – at least, not any joy that lasted very long. She hated the idea of going out and having to see the people at church, pretend everything was okay, sing, and smile.

Sometimes she wished that she could be more broken. People looked after others who were perceived to be more broken – but she couldn’t do that. She had been told that she had to “just be happy.” Though she kept showing up anyway, she quickly left as soon as she could.

Even when she spent time with the love of her life, driving around, talking and being loved to the fullest extent one could be – the happiness quickly dried up. She knew, like everybody told her, that she had every reason to be “happy” – but she just couldn’t keep it up. Every night she cried on her bed, and at times wished that she could just give up.

That girl was me.

You may not know this about me, but I am naturally a very negative person. I’m not always happy. I don’t always have everything together. 

Every personality is tempted in its own way – and unfortunately my personality is such that I naturally see the negative in myself, others and the world around me before I see the positive. I seem happy and bubbly upon greeting people, and yet when left alone (or together with the ear of my poor, patient husband) I am often tempted to wallow in misery, loneliness, negativity, self-deprecation, and discouragement. I have been through bouts of severe depression and anxiety – to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed or meet with anyone.

I’ve had people tell me that this is okay, that to be depressive is a normal part of life. I find, however, that many of the people who tell me that this is okay are just like myself – naturally negative. Many encourage others to be depressed and negative, saying that it’s okay and there’s nothing you can do about it – often because they themselves want to believe that it is okay to wallow in misery.

Though at times I may feel like indulging myself and would love to simply wallow in my dark, depressive, judgemental, and cynical thoughts – the truth is that I want to change. Being miserable is miserable. Truthfully, I am tired of this incredibly popular idea that a person cannot change his or her character or way of thinking. I’m tired of people telling me that being depressed is okay and I should indulge myself. That is not what I need to hear. I need – and want – to be called to something higher.

I understand why people are talking this way. For years depression was misunderstood and people were told to “just get over themselves and stop being selfish and ridiculous.”

I know the frustrations of being told to “just get over” something, “just pray,” or “just be happy.” That doesn’t work.

Obviously, those kind of words are not very helpful, or encouraging (though they are usually meant to be). But almost equally as damaging is a swing in the opposite direction, which  is exactly the swing that we as a body have taken. Suddenly depression is a right – allowing you to do or not do, and be or not be almost anything you like. Though I understand why there has been the massive shift in thinking, I don’t believe either of these views is healthy.

The truth has to be somewhere in the middle. You can’t just get over depression, just like you don’t just get over anything. It takes time, treatment, and effort. It’s like anything I might be tempted with – if I let it overcome me and drown myself in it, it’s a problem. While I don’t believe that doubt and sadness are a sin, I believe it is a problem if we let ourselves drown in our depression.

This thought probably won’t make me popular, but let me explain what I mean by telling you the story of Elijah, which shows how a man got depressed, how God dealt with it, and what God told Elijah to do. This story tells us how to effectively cope with depression and negativity. This will show us how we should deal with the depression that we find in ourselves and others.

Elijah was a man who was strong in the Lord and had every reason to have confidence. Yet, when we see him in 1 Kings 18, after he has just won a great victory over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:22-46), and should have been full of confidence and courage – instead he is on the verge of giving up (19:1-2).

He was in such despair that he ran away and expressed his desire to die. He didn’t want to go on (19:4).

He started to make comparisons of himself in light of others, telling himself and God that he was not up to the challenges ahead of him (v.4).

Here we see God’s first step in care for the downcast prophet. Elijah was tired, and had not eaten – but God sent an angel to wake him up and feed him more than once (v.5-7).  Elijah had let the self-pity permeate his mind and was forgetting to look after himself in even the most basic of ways. Sometimes when we are hungry and tired, we need to get up and fill ourselves up (physically and spiritually). Sometimes this is something we need to do for someone who is in a depressive state – remind them of their basic needs and help them to fill them. We need to provide the strength and encouragement others need, and look to God to provide what we need when we need it (v.6, 7).

God asks why Elijah is in the cave – perhaps wanting Elijah to realise where he had come to (19:9).

  • God did not want him running away
  • God did not want him to be afraid
  • God did not want him to be in the cave

While we can go find the cave and try to stay there to escape our problems, but God does not want us to stay there. God does not want anyone to stay in a dark place.

Elijah feels he has done everything that God has asked and yet has been left alone. He was full of self pity, and felt he deserved better.

“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:14).

Though Elijah’s thinking here is obviously flawed – God doesn’t rebuke him. He gives him a task to set his mind on and accomplish, and encourages him. 

“And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.  Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:15-16, 18).

There are two roles to play in dealing with depression. The person who is dealing with it needs to get up and try to help themselves, but those looking on do not need to rebuke – they need to be encouraging. There doesn’t need to be allowance of wrong-doing because of depression, but there doesn’t need to be harshness or a lack of understanding either.

Elijah wasn’t told “You are okay where you are because you are depressed.” He still had to come out of the cave to do the work of the Lord, but still the Lord was not harsh. The Lord just didn’t say “It’s okay, I understand, stay here in your cave,” but rather said, “It’s okay, I understand things are difficult – but you need to get up, eat, and start working again for me. You are not alone.”

In order to help with his focus, God began to sharpen Elijah’s perception, telling him to come out of a dark place and to focus on something bigger than himself – while reminding him that he was not alone.

And then he led him to a friend, Elisha (19:19-21).

It won’t be some dark place somewhere that the Lord calls us to, and He never calls us out to be alone. Would we really want a God that lead us to or wanted us to stay in a lonely, dark place? Surely not.

There is a reason why we should come out of our cave and refocus. Just like Elijah we need to realise that God’s work is more important than our self pity, and God’s work is more important than we ourselves. Elijah wasn’t let off his duty to serve God – but rather he was gently led in the right direction.

The fact of the matter is that despite all that some may say, God tells everyone that they can change – and I will take God’s view over popular psychology any day.

God has not called us to depression. God has not called called us into a state of hopelessness. God has called us to joy


Change begins in the mind, and so if we let our mind be taken over with depression and negativity, we will find ourselves crippled in His service (Romans 12:1-2).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”

Some Practical Suggestions

If you are the one depressed:
  1. Realise that you can reach out for help. I was always taught to be very guarded when it came to revealing to others my true struggles and feelings, but that got me into a very dark place. Realize that you can let others know how you are feeling, and what you are struggling with. When we let others know how we feel, we are simply helping them to “fulfil the law of Christ” in bearing our burdens (Galatians 6:2). Elijah was taken to a friend by God – but sometimes we need to find our friend. Sometimes we have to let others help us.
  2. Don’t neglect important thingsEven though you may not feel like getting out and doing those things that are important, you will feel worse if you don’t, and will put yourself in a weaker position for the future. Others can’t help you if they never see you, and God can’t help you if you don’t help yourself a little. Even though it was difficult for me when I was depressed to keep going and showing up, I know for a fact things would have gotten worse if I had stopped. Unfortunately no angel is going to show up to feed you today. Keep getting up, keep eating, keep making yourself get out the door to meet with the saints. 
  3. Do what it is that God needs you to do. When Elijah was at his lowest point, God told him to get up and do His work. God expected him to do something. No, you probably won’t feel like doing this (and I doubt Elijah did either) – but it’s really one of the best ways to recovery. It isn’t just me saying this. So many programs that teach people to how to overcome grief or depression tell their members to find others that need help and help them, and find something they can dive themselves into. What better than the Lord’s work?
  4. If you don’t have anyone who understands, realize that it is okay to see someone professionally. The sad truth is that sometimes there is just no one to talk to. It’s not a weakness to go to a professional for help, and you aren’t weird if you need to go and have someone to talk to about your struggles. There are many people who need this. You aren’t alone.
If you know someone else who is depressed:
  1. Let them know you are someone they can talk to without judgement. One of the most encouraging things that was done for me during my dark period was a gift that a member gave me. She gave me a big bag full of over 30 little presents with an encouraging note – and she told me to open just one a day. It gave me something to look forward to. Ok, so I may have opened more than one a day at times – but it lasted a good month still. The gesture was so thoughtful and long-lasting that the impact stayed with me. I felt like I had a friend that I could go to if I needed. Let them know they are not alone, like God did for Elijah. If you can’t be that someone, lead them to someone who can be their Elisha. No one should have to go through things alone.
  2. Please don’t tell them to “just get over it,” or “just be happy.” I can safely say that one of the least helpful things someone told me when I was in deep depression was to “stop crying,” and “just be happy.” In fact, telling someone this can be downright damaging. We shouldn’t just be anything. We may not understand why someone is down, but the command we have is to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), not to tell them not to weep!
  3. Don’t encourage them to neglect what must be done. There are some who I have seen attempting to encourage others by telling them that it’s okay to do the wrong thing when they are depressed, because “God will understand.” I’m sorry, but it’s never okay to do the wrong thing, or to neglect what is your Christian duty. It’s okay to be at a low point, but it’s not okay to wallow there. You don’t have to say it in those words, but you don’t have to tell them that what they are tempted to do is okay either. Gently lead them in the right direction – like God did for Elijah.
  4. Observe them to see what their talents/interests are and encourage them to become involved in something that correlates with them. When Elijah was at his lowest point, God told him to get up and do His work. Sometimes those who are depressed feel like they have nothing to offer, and no reason to live. Helping them see how they fit into the body can help them to overcome these feelings.

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For some of us this will always be a struggle, and sometimes we will forget our hope and indulge the dark feelings. But the Christian life is not about perfection, it is about striving for it (Philippians 3:14). It’s about saying, “Ok, that happened. I did that, but I can do better next time,” picking yourself and trying again. It is about getting a little bit stronger every day, stumbling every now and then – but bit by bit stumbling and struggling less.


Yes, negativity is my nature, but like any part of my character, it can be bent and swayed. Though my personality may not change, the direction in which I bend it can be changed. If those without God can do it, then why can’t we? We, who have hope in our hearts and God on our side?!

I have been in the absolute depths of depression and had to crawl out. I may go there again, but I pray that if I do there will be those that lovingly and gently lead me as the Lord did Elijah.

No judgments, no “just-snap-out-of-its,” or “just-be-happy’s,” but gentle and loving hands pulling me along and saying, “It’s ok. You’re not in this alone. I know this is tough, but you have a work to do. Let’s do this together.”

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5 Ways to Fit in Less Than 15 Minutes a Day

Most of the time, the hardest part of anything is just getting started. I know it is that way for me.

When I first started exercising, I focused on just getting to the gym. That was the hardest part for me. Once I was there, I didn’t worry about what I did – I just played around with equipment for a bit and left. Though this might have seemed pointless, it really wasn’t. It was a step. It was creating habit. Getting to the gym was my victory. After forming the habit, I then worried more about what I was doing.

Though I fully advocate moving for more than 15 minutes at a time and having a focused, personalized exercise regime, sometimes the best thing to do is to just start doing something. Even a few minutes a day dedicated to exercise is better than none, and if something helps us to create a habit of movement, then it’s certainly beneficial.

I don’t need to tell you that you should exercise because it is good for you. You already know that. What we all need sometimes is a bit of a push to start.


Small steps lead to big changes. We all have to start somewhere.

One of the best ways to start is to incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into your day. The results are quicker than simply taking a stroll through the park, you need no or very little equipment, and they take a shorter amount of time.

Here are five ways/resources to get you started on your fitness journey:

  1. Tabata Training. The Tabata Method is 20 seconds of hard training followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times, coming to a total of 4 minutes activity. Every set should be performed to your maximum ability. Any exercise can be used for this – jump rope, running, stationary bike, jumping jacks, kettlebell swings, squats – just make sure that you go as fast as you can and you are maxed out at the end of each set. If you are not absolutely exhausted after the workout you didn’t go hard enough!
  2. 30 Day Challenges. Do something for 30 days, and you pretty much know you can do it for life. Here is a website with many 30 days challenges that you can undertake. I don’t love focusing on ONE muscle group for 30 days, so don’t pick the ones that say “30 day ab challenge,” or anything like that. Focus on legs or overall body workouts – they will be far more beneficial!
  3. 30 Days of HIIT. This is a free program you can download or look at online involving simple exercises that you can do at home. All of the workouts are short and simple.
  4. The Catching Fire 30 Days Challenge. This is a bit more of a challenging set of workouts, but they all are just 12 minutes long. I personally love this series. I promise you that if you haven’t been exercising regularly, you will be sore the next day!
  5. 9 Quick Total-Body Workouts, No Equipment Needed. These 9 total body workouts are a great way to get our habits kick-started.

So, what are you waiting for?! Even if you start with just a 4 minute tabata a day – you will be that much fitter and creating great habits for the future. Keep remembering that one day today’s workout will be your warm up. You can only get better.

getting started

For more workouts and safe workout guidelines, see my workouts page.

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ABC Slaw with Blueberry Lemon Dressing 

Salads are amazing. Being back in Australia, I am simply loving all the fresh vegetables that are at my fingertips. I don’t care that it’s cold here – to me, salads are a year-round thing. Rain or shine.

For those of you who have been following my recipes, you would know that I love coleslaw. I have already posted two separate coleslaw recipes – my Kale, Beet, Apple and Walnut Salad with Walnut Cranberry Dressing, and my Easy Vinegar Slaw.

And just look at this slaw. Look how pretty. All the colours.


I call it ABC Slaw because it has Apple, Broccoli, Beetroot, Cabbage, and Carrot. I suppose that means it should be ABBCC Slaw – but that’s not quite as catchy.

Sweet, tangy, crunchy, and beautiful – this slaw is the perfect accompaniment to any meaty meal.

ABC Slaw with Blueberry Lemon Dressing 

Makes one big slaw


4 medium green apples, cored

2 medium beetroot, skin and top removed

2 large carrots

1/4 cabbage

1 large head of broccoli

100g feta cheese, cubed (optional)


1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

3 lemons, peeled and deseeded

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp honey (optional; maple for vegan option)




  1. Grate the apples, carrots, cabbage, and beets in a food processor (or by hand if you don’t have a food processor – you even include the broccoli stems at this point).
  2. Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Mix the dressing into the slaw mixture.
  4. Finely chop the broccoli and stir the broccoli in. You can also stir in a few spinach leaves, if you wish.
  5. Crumble and sprinkle over feta (optional).


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Amos: Turn to the One Who Can Turn Everything Around {Minor Moments}

The time during which Amos preached was a bleak time for Israel. It was not bleak because they were experiencing famine or financial loss – far from it. Financially, The Northern tribes of Israel were alive and prosperous to the greatest degree that they had ever enjoyed. Money was flowing in because of corruption, and oppression of the poor caused the rich of their society to dwell in great ease and comfort (4:1).

They were corrupt in every way and enjoyed luxury at any cost – sacrificing moral, political, and religious integrity for gross extravagance.

During this time of affluence and complacency, God called upon Amos to warn them – the wealth and extravagance they were enjoying would come to an end. This was the last period of wealth and prosperity before depression was to hit. They had to change, or they would suffer the consequences of their wanton extravagance, immorality, and oppression (Amos 4:6-12).

God wanted them to know, however, that as bad as they were, there was still the ability to change their situation. He still wanted them to be His people.

“For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: ‘Seek me and live”‘ (Amos 5:4).

In case some thought that change was possible, God reminds them of His power to create and change.

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress” (Amos 5:8, 9).

God has the power to create and change, but He has to be reached for. Here He is essentially telling the Israelites, “Look for me. I made the earth and heavens. I make the night turn into day, and the day into night. Seek me, and trust in me. I can turn every situation around.”

God could completely turn the tables and change their fortunes. He could change their situation completely, and promised them that if they turned to Him they would not only live, but there would also be a radical reversal of their very selves.

Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:14-15).

They could turn from being oppressors and idolaters to being obedient children of God. For other nations looking on (and maybe even for themselves) this change may have seemed impossible, but it was not. All they had to do is seek the Lord, and seek good in the right places. God was watching over their injustice and expected them to take the first steps to change. He could change their deep darkness and corruption into light – but that couldn’t happen without their decision to let Him. They had to trust Him enough to give up their idolatry and injustice.

The Lord wanted to let them live – but for that to happen, there needed to be change.

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

God was telling them, “Let’s have some justice. Give up your injustice and oppression. Let’s have some people who are actually behaving in the right way and doing as I have asked. I want to bless you, but in your current state of rebellion, I can’t.”


How does this apply to us today?

The same God who is able to create the stars and change the deep darkness into light is able to create a new life for us and change us completely. We, just like the Israelites, have the opportunity to change dramatically if we:

  • Seek the Lord (Acts 17:26-27)
  • Hate evil (Romans 12:9)
  • Love good (1 Peter 3:10, 11)
  • Seek justice (James 1:27; 1 John 3:17; Acts 6:1-2)
  • Be righteous (1 Timothy 6:11)

We have to take the first steps, but when we do we can rest assured that God will be able to turn our entire situation around. There is hope for everyone. God promises that if we turn to Him that we will not only live, but there will also be a reversal of our very way of life.

“Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

This is the grace of God. God teaches us how to live, we follow Him, and He raises us a new creature.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

Change is possible for anyone in any circumstance. Our part is simply to reach out and take the opportunities, trusting in the One Who created everything and can turn every situation around.

Seek the LORD and live… He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress” (Amos 5:6, 8, 9).

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Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about anything I have said today!

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Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

When I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted to continue exercising but was so confused about whose information to follow. From every side, conflicting information was thrown at me – even from among the trainers I worked with.

“You know your body. Just keep doing whatever it is you are doing!” one trainer said.

“Don’t you lift that!” Quipped another trainer, as I picked up a box to use with one of my clients, “You need to be more careful!”

“Oh… ok. What can I do then?” I asked …and the answer I got was that I was basically limited to very, very light exercise for the duration of my pregnancy.

On top of this conflicting advice from professionals, I also had basically everyone else I knew telling me I should no longer lift weights. I even had those telling me that I shouldn’t carry a backpack around! I felt so confused that I basically stopped all exercise for a few weeks. I certainly didn’t want to do anything to hurt my baby – but I continued to do research. There had to be some kind of a balance between the “do nothing” and the crazy-pregnant-crossfitter do-everything approach. There just had to be.

Thankfully, before long, I was handed a book by one of my fellow trainers called “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by Dr. James Clapp. It was literally the best thing I could have read about pregnancy and exercise. Based on extensive research, this book discusses in detail the effects of exercise upon the pregnant woman and the baby she is carrying.

This book is a must read for mums wishing to feel confident about continuing exercise during pregnancy.

As I read, I loved the fact that the book was based on extensive, unbiased research. That gave me the confidence boost I needed – and as a result picked back up and I continued with weight lifting through to 32 weeks (when I experienced pelvic pain and a bout of illness) and have continued with brisk walking all the way through (I am now 37 weeks). I believe that keeping up with exercise has contributed greatly to my current mobility and the practical absence of lower back pain throughout my pregnancy.

I also found that as I continued to exercise the doubt that people expressed turned into admiration. I have had many who expressed their disapproval turn around and express their approval. I found that I even began to admire myself. I was healthy, my baby was healthy – and though exercise was proving to be more difficult as the weeks went on – I had persevered. I was succeeding in staying healthy for my baby. Though if I could do it over again and do more, I would – I was happy with what I had continued to do. I felt strong.

Hubby and I on our hike up Castle Rock in the Pongurups, WA, Australia – 33 1/2 weeks pregnant.

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According to Dr. Clapp, women can safely continue with exercise before, during, after their pregnancies. He says:

“Some women fear that exercise will increase the risk of miscarriage, malformations, pre-term labor, brain damage to the baby, or material injury, but this is not the case.”

He even goes on to say that:

“Women who exercise feel better, perform better, and have babies that are be stronger physiologically and perhaps better developed neurologically.”

After reading the book and realising that exercise could actually have a positive influence on both my baby and my postpartum body, I was encouraged and motivated to continue with exercise throughout my pregnancy.

So far as the concerns that most people have in regards to pregnancy and exercise, most of them are completely unfounded. Dr. Clapp addresses some very common misconceptions about pre and post natal exercise:

  1. Pregnant women should keep their heart rates under 140 beats per minute.
  2. Exercise during lactation makes the milk taste sour.
  3. Women should avoid abdominal exercises in mid and late pregnancy.
  4. Pregnant women should not lift weights.
  5. The bouncing and jarring which occur during running and high-impact aerobics increase the risk for the baby getting tangled up in the umbilical cord.
  6. Exercise causes premature labor.
  7. Exercise will cause the fetus to detach from the wall of the womb.
  8. Exercise right after a pregnancy will cause hernias and loss of vaginal and pelvic support.

Dr. Clapp also found that through his study the amount of miscarriages in the control group (those who didn’t exercise) and the amount of miscarriages in the group of exercising women were the same, indicating that exercise was not a contributing factor in the miscarriage. He also adds that miscarriages are so common that doctors don’t usually investigate the reasons why a miscarriage occurs until a woman has had at least three miscarriages. Most miscarriages if they occur were going to occur regardless of whether the mother exercised during her pregnancy or not.

So if these are not concerns for women during pregnancy, and exercising is a good thing for a pregnant woman to do – what are some guidelines that pregnant women should follow in regards to prenatal exercise?

Some basic rules for exercise during pregnancy are:

  1. Make sure that at any point in time during the workout you are able to speak in sentences before taking a breath. This is a better gauge of exertion than heart rate monitoring. If you can’t speak or are having trouble breathing, you are going too fast for a pregnant lady. Slow down and take a breather.
  2. Always reserve a little of your strength. Work to about 80% of your maximum capacity. The key is to never work yourself to the point where you can do no more. Always stop before that last rep.
  3. When lifting weights, keep the repetitions that you perform between 8-12 repetitions. Stay away from 1RM (1 repetition maximum) exercises. Do a medium range of reps with a lighter weight, rather than trying to reach a PR (personal record) during pregnancy. There will be time for PRs, but that is not now. 8-12 repetitions is ideal for building and maintaining strength, which you will need for later in pregnancy.
  4. Make sure the room you are in is cool (and preferably air-conditioned) so you don’t overheat, and drink plenty of water. If you are too hot or dehydrated, your baby is too.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take extra rest. Stop in between sets for longer than you usually would if necessary.
  6. Stop if you feel: cramping in the pelvic region, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, bleeding, or any other worrying symptoms or conditions. If you experience cramping, stop exercising and lay on your left side until the cramping subsides.
  7. Definitely listen to your health provider’s advice regarding any exercise you are going to undertake. There are some conditions which require a woman to cease activity during pregnancy. These are a minority of cases, however.
  8. Start, but start slow if you weren’t exercising before, so you can learn your limits and build your strength gradually. This is not a time to push your body beyond it’s limits, but to nurture it. In other words, don’t start off sprinting or doing ballistic exercises (like box jumps) if you weren’t already doing those before. Do start early though – it is during early pregnancy that you build up your exercise capacity and your body and baby learn to adapt. The more you do now, the more you will be able to do later!

What are some important exercises to focus on during pregnancy?

  1. Build a strong pelvic floor foundation. You know those kegels doctors are always telling you to do? Do them. Your uterus is going to put a lot of pressure on your pelvic region, and you’ll be thankful for that strong foundation!
  2. Build strong glutes to support your back. Your growing belly is going to place increased pressure on your back. Glute strengthening is vital. Balance out any anterior chain exercises with posterior chain exercises 2:1. Think squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, supine bridges.

What exercises should I be careful of, modify, or avoid?

This is going to look different for every pregnancy – depending on what you were doing beforehand and how your body reacts to pregnancy – but here are some general guidelines.

Be careful with:

  1. Split stance and single-legged exercises. Lunges, step ups, and single-legged exercises where the pelvis is forced into a split-stance position need to be done with caution, as they compromise pelvic stability. If you can do them with no discomfort, that is fine – but if you feel discomfort stick to more stable leg exercises, such as squats and deadlifts.
  2. Laying on your back after the second trimester. Use a wedge or a swiss ball to elevate yourself and modify the exercise.
  3. Pull ups and hanging exercises. The stress placed on the abdominals with this exercise is quite considerable. Since the abdominals are already being stretched, it is best to avoid this exercise in favour of exercises with less of a stretch.
  4. Planking and horse stance ab exercises. These are not a problem for every pregnant woman, but are inadvisable because the abs are under stress and can separate with downward facing pressure, causing the dreaded diastasis recti. Reverse planking, side planking, and TVA exercises (such as toe taps) are preferable.
  5. Ballistic movements. While these may be performed with no side effects for some pregnant women who have been performing them prior to pregnancy – pregnancy hormones cause the joints to relax and become unstable. Even the strongest of athletes can find themselves doing damage to their bodies if they continue with ballistic movements (think box jumps, plyometrics, etc.). Although these remain okay for some, they can do damage if great care is not taken. Know your limits and don’t push yourself.

Be aware of changes in your body and modify your workouts accordingly. The hormone relaxin is going to loosen your joints – causing you to lose strength and balance. If anything makes you uncomfortable, modify the exercise or replace it for something that offers you more stability. It is better to play it safe than to have preventable pelvic dysfunction or diastasis recti when you are done!

Your growing belly will also begin to get in the way of certain exercises – change your stance or grip to accommodate it as it grows!

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While for myself I know that if I were to do it all over again I would have much more confidence with continuing a strong exercise regime right from the beginning of my pregnancy – in the end, I’m not an expert on any of this. I only have my own experiences and the research I have done during pregnancy to draw upon. If you have any concerns, please see your doctor and listen to them! 

For some examples of how to exercise during pregnancy, see the prenatal section of my workouts page.

What has been your experience with exercise and pregnancy? Did you find the advice you received confusing or discouraging?

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She Is Strong: Strengthening Every Part of Our Being {Proverbs 31}

When people think of the biblical idea of a woman, they generally think of a woman who is subservient, dim-witted, weak, and has no control over her life. However, when we see Gods picture of an ideal woman, we see the complete opposite -we see a woman who is in control. We see someone who is strong: physically, mentally, and emotionally. We see someone who carefully plans out her life and the lives of those around her.

There is nothing about her that can be considered weak.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. She girds her loins with strength, And strengthens her arms… Strength and honour are her clothing; And she shall rejoice in time to come.”

Upon reflection, Proverbs 31 can be discouraging to some. The virtuous woman is often attributed with having an almost superhuman strength. Rest assured, however that God did not put this ideal in the bible to discourage us – He put this in the Bible as a life for us to aspire to. Nothing the virtuous woman does is impossible. When we see all the things that this woman did, they are not all things she did all the time, they are all things she had as a matter of practice or habit when necessary. She has simply strengthened herself to the point where her mind, body, and soul are under her control. All this woman does is to put the necessary steps and preparations in place to make sure that her family is cared for.

Being a virtuous woman takes strength in every area.

Sometimes we can forget that we were made more than just spiritual beings. We were given a temple to house our spiritual body in, and a mind to control it. While spirituality is, of course, most important (as it is the part of us that is made in the image of God; Genesis 1:26-27), it is going to become harder to be spiritual the more that we neglect the other aspects of our beings. Our bodies and our minds are precious resources that we can’t waste. The more we keep our minds and bodies in control, the easier we will find the struggle to keep our souls in check. If you let any one aspect of your being get neglected, you’ll find serious consequences on the other aspects of your being.

[This post is an accompaniment to the "She Strengthens Her Arms" Wifey Wednesday podcast by the Light Network. Seeing as though I am a personal trainer, I will be looking at strengthening every area of our lives - but will give some special tips on how we can strengthen our bodies. Please go over and listen to the podcast to hear more about what Emily and I have to say about the strength of the Virtuous Woman!]

The Virtuous Woman Is Strong


She has a strong character, and does not rely on her husband’s Bible knowledge to speak rightly from God’s word. She speaks with a wisdom that can only come from a deep and personal relationship with God (Proverbs 31:26). Her faith is not just a head knowledge either – she is personally active among in helping the community and practicing true religion (v.20; James 1:25). The reason she is so strong is because she has her own faith – and has a deep respect for the Lord (v.30).

So many women leave the strengthening of their spirituality up to their husbands or other men in their lives. It is incredibly important that women have a spiritual strength of their own, stemming from their own Bible study and Christian practices. Studying the Bible in an on-depth manner is not just a practice for Christian men to hold to – it is something that each and every Christian has to do for themselves. When we speak, the wisdom that comes forth should be that which we have acquired through our own relationships with God. There are so many great resources that can help us grow spiritually – if we will just take the time to utilize them!


She knows how to provide for her house – and she studies the best ways to do this (v.14). She is organized and keeps things in order – this does not overwhelm her, because she is prepared and well organised (v.27). Her husband knows this, and trusts her with keeping things in order (v.11). She believes that she is capable, and is satisfied with the work that she accomplishes (v.18).

A major failing of women is that they often think that nothing they do is worth anything, or good enough. The virtuous woman knows that what she makes is good, and knows that her preparation is adequate – which keeps her mind strong (vv.18, 21). If we continually allow negative and deprecatory thoughts to consume us, we will find ourselves mentally unstable. It is important that every woman continues to strengthen her mind through learning, realises that she is worthy, and recognises that what she does in looking after her family is worth something. Failing to realise our worth or expand our minds through learning will result in a weakened mental state and hinder our influence.


She is not anxious or afraid for the future (v.21), and in fact, she looks upon it with joy (v.25). She is able to keep a sound mind because of all the preparations she has made – both for her household, and in keeping a positive and focused attitude in regards to both spiritual growth and daily tasks.

How we manage our emotions plays a big part in how strong we are. When we keep busy and prepare adequately for the future, we are less likely to be anxious and afraid. Realising that we have done all we can do and leaving the rest up to God goes a long way to preventing anxiety and depression, and elevating our joy.


She strengthens her arms, and prepares herself for the work ahead (v.17). She knows that her body is capable of staying up late and getting up early when she needs it to – though she doesn’t do this every night (vv.15, 18). In fact, she can have confidence in any task she undertakes, knowing that she has strengthened herself accordingly.

To do all the things that a virtuous woman does, we are going to need to look after our bodies. While I know there are some with illnesses they can’t help, there are many with preventable or manageable illnesses that get hindered in helping their families because of a lack of care for their temples. We need to make sure:

  • We get sufficient rest
  • We get sufficient nutrition to keep our bodies going
  • We strengthen our bodies for the tasks we need to accomplish

The simple truth of the matter is that despite your best intentions, you can’t continue to look after others if your body breaks down. This is a danger many women fall into while looking after their families. However, the virtuous woman is one who realizes that she is worth looking after too. All of us are busy, but taking the time to “strengthen your arms” despite your busy schedule will go a long way to making you feel and perform better in every area. Do not neglect your health while looking after others – there will come a time when you will be hindered in your service to others for the neglect our body has suffered. Paul told Timothy that bodily exercise was less important than godliness – but he never said it wasn’t important at all (1 Timothy 4:8)!

Workouts do not have to be long or cause your family to suffer – here are some ways to work your workouts around your busy schedule!

  • Start the day with a quick circuit. Working out first thing in the morning has been proven to increase mental clarity, productivity, and mood. Do 10 squats, 5 push ups, 10 lunges (each leg), and a 30 second minute plank. Repeat this 3 times. When that is easy, double the repetitions/time.
  • Do little bursts of activity throughout the day. Pick a cue, and a series of actions to complete. Do 25 squats and 10 push ups every time you go to the bathroom. Do squats and donkey kicks (standing glute raises) while waiting for food to cook. Do calf raises while you brush your teeth. Stretch, bridge, and plank while you watch TV. These little things will make a big difference if you make them a habit.
  • If you are working at a desk, set a timer for every thirty/forty-five minutes. Every time the timer goes off, do 10 squats and 10 calf raises 3 times. Sitting for too long has negative effect on every body. You’ll be more productive and feel great for moving regularly!
  • Leave the kids with dad for an hour and go to the gym or a class a couple of times a week. You’ll be better able to take care of your kids and your hubby for having a sanity break! Going to the gym is also great way to get in some (often much-needed!) social interaction.
  • Start following along with some at-home workout videos. I love the Catching Fire 30 Day Challenge – each workout is tough, but only 12 minutes long. I promise you will be sore after a few days, and seeing the benefits in a few short weeks!
  • Use workout time as time with your spouse. If you have no kids – or your kids are old enough – then you can get out and get moving with your spouse. Go for a hike, a jog, or a gym workout and create some muscles and memories!
  • “Workout” with your child. Instead of sitting at the bench at the playground and chatting or Facebook-ing, be an active participant in your child’s play. Play a game of tag. Pick up your child and swing them around. Swing on the monkey bars. If you have a little baby – squat and lunge while holding your baby, push your baby over your head, do push ups with your baby between your arms (you can play with her by making faces as you go up and down), and bicep curl your baby (both arms!). You’ll not only be getting stronger, but also bonding and creating memories. For some more ideas, check out this video done by a friend of mine.
  • Get outside. It’s a simple and free thing to do, but one that often gets neglected. Take the whole family, take your baby/babies out in a sling/pram, or go out with your spouse for an evening stroll. The fresh air, sunshine, and natural surrounds will do you a world of good!

See my workouts page for more quick workouts for busy women!

I also really love this video for encouraging mothers to take care of their bodies. It’s not always easy, but looking after ourselves will help our children to see the importance of looking after themselves too! <3

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In the end, the virtuous woman was strong because she decided to be – it wasn’t an accident. Because she determined to have strength in every area of her life, she kept her body strong, her mind sharp and focused, her emotions in balance, her relationship with God in tact, and did not have to be afraid about what would happen to her family.

Take the time to increase your strength in every area of your life – mind, body, and soul – and see how both you and your family benefit!

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No-Whip Lemon-Lime Coconut Icing {Paleo; Vegan}

Here is a quick and easy, no-whip icing with a citrus-y tang to enjoy on top of your paleo cupcakes!


It has only 5 ingredients, and takes only 2 minutes to make – so this is a no-brainer! It makes a tasty and beautiful accompaniment to my Vanilla Maple Coconut Cakes. <3



No-Whip Lemon-Lime Coconut Icing {Paleo; Vegan}


4 tbsp coconut cream (the stuff that comes to the top when coconut milk is in the fridge)

4 tsp coconut flour

juice of 1/2 large lemon

juice of 1 small lime

4 tsp maple syrup


  1. Mix together coconut flour and coconut milk until there are no lumps.
  2. Mix in all the rest of the ingredients.
  3. The mixture should be able to be molded with the fingers, and stick to the cupcake by pressing with the fingertips. If the consistency is too runny, add a tsp more coconut flour. If too crumbly, add more coconut milk or maple syrup. {Make sure the cakes you wish to ice are cold before adding icing}


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Nourishing mind, body, soul and family.


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