From the Nutrition Trenches

I had a challenger sum up the struggle a lot of us face in adulthood in a simple sentence, “I finally realized I can’t out exercise my diet.” We like to blame our inability to find time to workout as the reason we struggle with our health. This was totally me! “Sure, I exercise-but I am already pretty thin I don’t really need a meal plan, I just need to exercise more. Ok, so these last few pounds of baby weight are being stubborn, but that is just because I can’t run as much as I’d like. FINE, I’m a little tired and headachy, and prone to sinus infections and strep, but that’s just the weather, or hormones, or you know, life. Whatever. I just need more cardio.”

You know the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, it’s true. But a better one is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You know where prevention happens? In the kitchen. What you eat matters, folks. A LOT.

And I totally get why people fight against this concept. For one, sure balancing food groups has always been imperative for optimal physical health, but a hundred years ago what was available to eat was a LOT different from today-a hundred years ago people were mostly still eating food. Convenience food changed the game, it has so screwed up the typical Western diet that we have to have a label (clean eating) for eating actual food. The problem with convenience food is that quite simply a lot of it ISN’T food. I have nothing against chemicals or modern medicine or technology-but chemicals that aren’t food, well, they AREN’T FOOD.

My youngest son tries to eat everything. For awhile I found mulch that had passed through his system in his diaper on a weekly basis. I continued to try and prevent him from getting into the garden. Why? Because mulch isn’t food, people. Sure, he managed to pass it (THANK GOODNESS) but that doesn’t make it food! Not only is there no nutritive value to mulch, but his body had to work to process it and filter out any toxins that existed in the dye or from simply being outside in the garden. So much of what is in processed food isn’t food anymore (or ever was) and it puts a strain on your body’s systems as it tries to filter out all the foreign crap-just like my son eating mulch-and your body get’s very little for it’s efforts. We’ve tried to cheat the system by stripping foods of all their nutrients so that they can be convenient and quick, pack them full of fat, sugar, and salt so that they don’t taste like the cardboard they’re reduced to, and then we just dump a bunch of chemically synthesized vitamins in at the end to try and make up for it. Never mind that our bodies don’t process synthesized vitamins as well as those found in the natural form-we mark it “Enriched!” and use it as a selling point.

People look at you like you must be some die hard health nut when you talk about “clean eating” but if you think about it, NOT eating “clean” is a fairly recent phenomenon. I’m eating food, guys. That’s all. I season it with spices and herbs, I cook it with oil or steam or dry heat, I chop it, I slice it, sometimes all I do is rinse it off. It’s not weird, it’s food.

You know what? You can still eat unhealthily while eating clean. I can (and sometimes do, haha) make desserts that are “clean” that are just as loaded with sugar and fat and deliciousness. My portions can still be completely out of whack. I could get completely overweight but still be eating clean-it would just take more effort. And THAT is where the rub comes in.

People like to blame gluttony and poor impulse control/lack of willpower for the expanding waistlines and rapidly rising disease rates all around us-but the truth is gluttony is only half the problem, and sometimes I don’t think it’s even that much. The real problem is laziness. We’re completely disconnected from the work it takes to make food, and if we are honest with ourselves-we really don’t want to reconnect.

Case in point-when I decided to stop buying store bought bread and to only eat the stuff I made from scratch-I ate a LOT less bread. Every slice was weighed and considered. And absolutely savored. Making bread is time consuming, and I knew as soon as I ate the last loaf I’d have to make more. I gravitate towards simple recipes because of the time commitment that many recipes take. The end results of complex recipes are often stunningly delicious-but I am more often than not unwilling to spend that much time preparing. I know I’m not the only one who is lazy when it comes to food.

BreadBite

Bread straight from the oven = Heaven. On. Earth.

Many women seem to take pride in their hatred for the culinary arts-and as a backlash against society I get it, but it’s not healthy. And men seem to have this weird “if it’s not grilling it’s not manly” vibe going on that-not being a man-I totally don’t understand. Regardless, it isn’t healthy. I’m not saying everyone has to “love cooking”, but when we talk about making food as something we can “choose” to do or not based simply on how much we enjoy it, we’re thinking about food completely wrong. You don’t have to love prepping food (I don’t), you don’t have to feel bliss as you season soup, or joy as you roast a chicken, or bubbles of wonderment as you lay the labor of your hands on the dinner table. None of those things are necessary for your life. Food, however, you must eat. And to be kind to your body you should try to eat as little “not food” as you can. This means you will have to prep food, and will probably want to cook it, and season it, and make it taste ok. The place this typically happens is the kitchen. It doesn’t require love or hate, making food should simply be a fact of life.

With that said-I’m still lazy, or well, time conscious. With two adorable ankle biters howling around my knees every time I set foot in the kitchen, I still prefer quick foods. And you can still have that and eat clean and healthily. I eat fruits straight out of the fridge-takes less then 5 seconds to grab a handful of grapes or an apple or strawberries or whatever. I scramble eggs almost daily. Just two eggs with some dill. No milk, no chopped veggies, no anything but eggs and herbs. 10 minutes tops. I eat red peppers without slicing them-like one oddly lumpy vegetable apple. You can’t tell me that the drive through is quicker than half the stuff I eat-because it isn’t. And half the “quick and easy” boxed meals take longer then the dinners I choose plus they taste half as good.

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Trying (and failing, haha) to get a boys and me selfie. Notice the red pepper? Mmmm yum!

Give food a chance, people. Give cooking a chance. Don’t set out to make a three course meal, just learn how to make eggs the way you like them. Figure out your favorite fruit. Discover where your aversion to spending time in the kitchen comes from-society pressures, bad experiences, impossible expectations-and take steps to correct it. You might be surprised at how easy it is to eat well when you step back and get out of your own way. 😉

“Fit”ness

One of the things I really like about the accountability teams I am a member of is the emphasis on “Finding YOUR Fit.” I think some people read that and automatically shy away from it because to them that means getting into the best physical shape possible and they KNOW that that implies a lot of work. But that’s exactly what it doesn’t mean. Let me explain…

To find your fit, you need to take a good hard look at your life and figure out areas that need improvement because you WANT them to improve-not because the FDA says so, or your doctor scolds you, or because you feel pressured by current social standards of beauty. No. Guilt driven change doesn’t usually get you very far.

Are you able to do the things that you like to do? Are there things that you secretly would love to do but feel are out of your reach? Are there physical things that hinder your work or your play or your engagement with your family? Those are the things you need to take a look at and evaluate honestly. If you want to lose ten pounds because you think that’ll make you feel better-then the truth is it isn’t the number of pounds you’ve assigned to lose that you want, it’s the  “feeling better”. And what does that mean? Does that mean not getting out of breath climbing the stairs? Does that mean not feeling like the bottom of your energy drops out when you’re only halfway through the day and you miserably have to drag yourself through until bedtime? Does that mean feeling comfortable getting down on the floor with your kids? Or playing tag with them outside? Does that mean wanting the strength to try things like skiing, hiking, white water rafting, etc., without fear of being unable to keep up with your peers? Does it mean managing thyroid issues? Or chronic migraines? Insomnia? Gluten sensitivity? Anemia? Does it mean more energy? A stronger immune system? A happier disposition? What is it that YOU want out of your body? THAT is where you start finding your fit.

Your fit does not necessarily mean six pack abs and swimsuit flaunting. Your fit is not tied to the scale or to your pants size. It isn’t even tied to the weight you can bench. It is tied to the WHOLEY fittest version of you-whatever that looks like.

Being comfortable in your own skin is different from willfully ignoring health issues that interfere with your daily life. I am comfortable in my own skin for the most part. I know I am loved, inside and out, and I’m comfortable with my appearance. I’m not striving to be a fitness competitor, I don’t weigh myself daily, I like where I am physically. But I wasn’t always healthy, even when I was “working out”. I was still fighting fatigue, anemia, chronic sinus issues, frequent headaches… It wasn’t until I started getting my nutrition in line with my exercise that those things started disappearing and I really started feeling “fit”.

I still have goals that push where I am a little farther. I’d like to run an ultra marathon again-this is going to take some serious mileage buildup, I’m going to have to push myself physically. I love how much I’m learning about nutrition and I love what that is doing for my immune system and my energy levels and my feeling of healthiness-so I’m going to keep pushing myself to find new recipes and expand my cooking skills. I love seeing the improvements weight lifting has added to my physique-I’m especially thrilled to see definition in my abs-but it doesn’t define who I am. Abs come and go, but my relationships have a lasting impact.

So, essentially, if what I am doing in the kitchen and in the living room when I push play is interfering with the health of my marriage, my relationships with my children, my connection with my family and the people I love best in this world-then it isn’t MY fit. It’s true, I could insanely restrict my diet (and become a horrible, irritable, cranky mess) and be working out three or four times a day to be super lean, strong, and what a lot of the world views as “sexy”-but that is NOT worth it to me, not even close, not even a little bit tempting. I’ve got goals, room for improvement, ways to push myself-but for the most part, I fit my “fit”.

Do you?

11.10.13 Keefer Family FOR WEB (89)

A Post on Seasonal Affective Disorder in Which I Throw Kale Under the Proverbial Bus.

I stand huddled in my jacket on the carport, one eye on Zane happily slamming chalk into the concrete, the other at Cade digging rocks out with his plastic pliers. Both keep up a running commentary-Cade articulating how hard he is working and the difficulty of his task, Zane babbling nonsense and playing with his tongue. And I stand, both restless and lethargic. I could check my phone-no, I am not going to keep my phone in front of my face around the boys, I could draw with Zane-but then I’d have to sit down and then Cade would come over and they’d most likely fight and…no…maybe I could bring my book out to read while they played-but if I open the door they’ll come swarming over to see what’s going on and I’m not sure I really feel like reading. I’m not sure I really feel like doing anything. But I’m bored. How much time has passed? I check my phone for just the time-three minutes. I have been standing here for just three minutes.

Cade comes galloping up in his funny knees-together-wiggle run, dirt smeared across his face, hair sticking out all over. “Do you want to play with me, mommy? Come play with me? Dig rocks with me mommy?” With effort I put a smile on my face, feeling distant and detached, “I’ve got to keep an eye on Zane, bud.” Cade’s face falls, “Oh.” the disappointment in his voice is heart breaking, or at least some part of me thinks so. “You want to play, too, Zane bug?” Cade asks his chalk pounding sibling. Zane looks up, forever appearing bemused that the world exists around him, but agreeably gets to his feet and toddles off after his older brother. “Ok, bud, I’ll come play, too.” I muster up a smile and using what feels like all the effort I have pick up a plastic cup and go help my sons collect rocks.

At nap time I look around at the absolute disaster the house has become-toys and clothing scattered everywhere, floors heaped with crumbs and friffles, piles on every available surface, laundry in the dirty hamper, laundry in the dryer, laundry in the clean hamper still waiting to be folded, dishes in the sink, dirty pots left on the stove. The book I am currently reading sits on the  table waiting to be read-and it is only mildly more appealing then the ever increasing list of cleaning I should do. As I sigh and sit at the table-continuing to ignore the serious state of crumbling neglect around me-it hits me. Dang it. I thought I could avoid it this year.

Every year. Every gosh darn year I struggle with this seasonal depression. Some years are worse then others, sometimes the depression manifests in different ways, but it always happens. Every fall I am determined to avoid it, every winter it happens, every spring I gleefully shrug it off. I managed farther into the season than usual this year, but still it has wormed it’s way in. It used to be just annoying, but now it alarms me. I’m a mom. I can’t afford for my depression to effect my kids, they don’t understand like my husband can that it’s temporary and typical. This year it has been the sense of disinterested detachment that is tearing me apart. These are my boys. My beautiful, vibrant, fun loving boys. I used to love to engage and play-now I can’t figure out how. I told my husband last night that I realized how little I had picked them up recently and it bothered me. They need to be held and loved on frequently. I love them-why has this suddenly become such an onerous burden?!

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I can’t believe it took me a full week to pick up on the signs. The increased morbid anxiety over Brian coming home from work. The inability to get excited about things. My frustration with reading-which is usually such a pleasure. And the feeling like I have to try harder and harder every day to engage with my own children. Whoa. Red flags everywhere.

It is the end of January, so thankfully I only have a few more weeks of winter left, but it’s time, again, to confront my seasonal demons. Once I know why I am reacting a certain way, it is much easier for me to replace the negative with the positive. My game plan is simple.

  1. I will continue to workout-endorphins are such a blessing and would explain why I feel more “kid friendly” after I exercise-but I may also add in some running when I have the time. Running specifically relaxes my brain in sort of a numbing, mindless, rambling way that counting reps and following a routine just can’t do-plus it is outside, which is a MUST for me when fighting off depression.
  2. Conscious prioritizing-now that I know what’s going on, it’s time to prioritize. Lowest on the list is the house. I’ll clean when I can, but I’m letting the stress go. Just as predictable as this depression is the weird burst of frenetic cleaning energy I get come spring. The house will survive. Highest on the list is Brian and the boys. Me time is up there, too, but with depression, the best way to get myself out of it is to focus on others. Depression traps me in my own head, the last thing I need is more time to focus on it.
  3. Reading to the boys individually is back on my to do list-it is one of the best ways for me to connect and interact, although it takes some creativity to get each one by himself.
  4. Once I’m done with my current book-no more books. It seems counter intuitive, but when I’m depressed often reading makes me MORE depressed because I struggle to engage with the book and it makes me angry to struggle with something that usually brings me so much joy. So I abstain from reading until I’m in a better mood and can enjoy it.
  5. Double check my meal plans and make some swaps to make sure I’m getting quite a bit of Vitamin D, B6 and B12, and folate (hello mushrooms, red meat, and spinach/kale). Maybe it’s because of my current nutrition plan which has me eating truly balanced for the first time in my life-but I’m not experiencing the extreme fatigue that usually accompanies depression for me. Mindlessness, boredom, anxiety, detachment-got those in spades-but fatigue and headache (my typical depression wingmen) are strangely absent.
  6. Lastly, but actually first, is prayer. I am so glad I’m doing a prayer study group through PWOC, because I’ve always struggled in this area (I’m good with theory but lousy with application). Depression is always where I rely on prayer more and conversely desire more consistency in my prayer life when I’m NOT depressed. I want a deeper, richer connection with my Savior all the time-not just when I’m unhappy.

For me, acknowledging the depression is always half the battle. Once I realize what is going on, it’s like its hold on me is weakened. The negative thoughts creep in and I shake my head, banishing them because I know they stem from untruth. It’s easier to push through the apathy, it’s easier to be stern with the groundless irritation, by giving depression its name I take away the mystery and its power over me.

But it is still a struggle. I have good days, not so good days, and really, really bad days. That’s the way it goes. I’m posting this here because I know sometimes “healthy living” people can seem relentlessly cheerful. “OMG endorphins are the best! And I look fab, too! *all the heart emojis*” “Don’t you just LOVE kale?!” “Killer workout, totally worth it #healthiswealth” etc., etc., etc.. Couple that with the motivational memes, “You can do anything!” “Pick your hard” “Be your best self” blabbity blah, and us health advocates can come across pretty maniacally.

This is a lifestyle choice. It isn’t the only lifestyle out there. It does have a host of positive benefits that I believe are well worth it (and yes, better than other lifestyles) -but it is a lifeSTYLE, not a “life”. Life happens to all of us, regardless of our style, it’s how we choose to deal with life that shapes our experiences.

So yes, I’m a health nut, yes, I struggle with depression, yes I use exercise and nutrition to combat said struggles. No, I am not maniacally cheerful all the time (just don’t ask anyone who heard me make radio calls while I worked as a medic, they have a biased opinion. 😉 ). No, kale does not cure mental illness (it’s ok, kale, I still like you). I have used fitness to help beat the winter blues before and that’s my goal again this year. Just because you can’t prevent depression with salad doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still eat salad.

I guess what I kind of want to say with this post is, wherever you are in your life, whatever imbalances you are struggling to right-be they mental, emotional, physical-, whatever personal demons you continue to fight, however healthy or unhealthy your choices may be-you are not a failure because you have room for improvement, you’re simply a work in progress dealing with life.

This is my current struggle. It, too, shall pass. 🙂

A Recipe! And an update…

I don’t like scrolling through posts to find the recipe, so, if you just want the recipe-here it is.

Quinoa Chicken Parmesan with Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

Rating: 5

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4

Quinoa Chicken Parmesan with Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 large boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, cut in half, so they are thin (or use 4 small breasts, and pound them, thin & evenly sized)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all natural
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup low-sugar organic marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.
  2. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. (I used avocado oil or olive oil spray)
  3. In a large saucepan, cook quinoa according to package instructions.
  4. Stir Italian seasoning into cooked quinoa, set aside.
  5. Season chicken with garlic powder, sea salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Working in small batches, dredge chicken first in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in quinoa mixture, pressing slightly to coat each breast.
  7. Place chicken onto the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and cooked through.
  8. Top with cheeses and marinara.
  9. Place into oven and bake until cheeses have melted, about 3-4 additional minutes.
  10. Serve immediately over spiralized zucchini noodles (I tossed my zucchini in a hot skillet with a touch of olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, for 3 minutes before serving)
  11. ?CleanFoodCrush.com/Spiralizer
  12. Garnish with fresh basil.

All Credit goes to Clean Food Crush blog. I found it on Facebook and pinned it to my Pinterest account.

The only tips I have are -don’t be afraid to season, season, season. I’ve thrown out “measuring” my spices a long time ago, I know which ones I like more of and which ones I like less and I dump it all in accordingly. BUT in order to make this SOOOOO TASTY don’t be afraid to season your quinoa-quinoa needs a lot of help in the flavor department in my opinion, haha. Also, I used spelt flour instead of whole wheat (and she mentions almond flour as another option). Spelt is not only a sprouted grain, but it also has a light, sweeter flavor instead of the cardboard taste of whole wheat. Lastly, I flipped the breasts over before adding the marinara and cheese for the last four minutes, so that the crunchier quinoa got covered in cheese. OH so good.

Now, the update. I have been sore for a full week and a day. It’s been awesome. I did three chin ups today. YEAH BABY! Then I pretty much collapsed in a heap and whimpered and it currently hurts my biceps to type, somehow, but hey, that’s unimportant. We got some more weights to fill in our weight gaps (I needed an 8 and a 12lb) so I’m ready to really start upping the weight in the coming workouts. I admit, I don’t like the stop start nature to weight workouts, I prefer the constant flow of things like PiYo or even some p90x stuff (though he does stop start some, too), but I can’t argue with the results. I’m getting stronger even as I feel weaker, haha. And I’ve lost a few pounds of fluff that I’m hoping now to convert to muscle.

I’m really enjoying this meal planning stuff. The annoyance of meal planning is put in the balance of absolutely not stressing about food during the day. It is WORTH IT. I am adding a container or two tomorrow-a veggie and/or a fruit-because I’m still hungry throughout the day. My metabolism is already fairly fast (thanks, genetics!) so even though my target plan is on point no matter how I measure it out, I’m burning through it. The point of this is NOT to be hungry all day-Autumn talks about how detrimental it is for your body to go into starvation mode-so I’m upping the food. This is triply important since I want to GAIN muscle.

Also, the food is so good. Remember that series I did on picky eating? Remember how essentially the advice, “Don’t force your kids to eat anything, make sure there is always something they like on the table” was repeated throughout? That’s what I’m doing. The boys always get something I know they like on the table (and usually that is what they eat) whereas I get to cook MY food (and offer it to them if they want it, of course). This means I get to cook food I like without caring one wit on whether or not my finicky 2.5 year old will have a single bite… Pure. Bliss.

OH! And I’m helping out in a 21 Day Fix accountability group and am really enjoying it. 🙂 If anyone is interested shoot me an email at slowisapace@gmail.com it’s a pretty cool program.

The end!

Why New Year’s Matters

At least, why it matters to me. Without a doubt someone somewhere has already debated this topic. There are probably categorized theories, documented research, well and poorly written books…none of which I am bringing to the table. This post is off the cuff and a reflection of just my own experiences and personality.

It matters to celebrate and it matters to reflect and New Year’s Day gives us a chance to do that EN MASSE.  All around the world people will be gearing up for the New Year. This isn’t about partying (although that’s a typical norm for many); my “celebration” of the New Year will probably be nothing more than a quiet moment or two of reflection. A “Huh, last year was pretty great. I’m excited for this new one.” Nothing fancy-but it is still a significant moment for me; a moment of deeper self awareness, and as I get older my view broadens to a greater global awareness. New Year’s provides a good opportunity to do this, whether you take advantage of it is up to you. As much as we like to glorify self reliance, we people were designed to love, and love requires connection. The New Year can be a simple connection point, an experience that millions of us are participating in around a 24 hour period. Yes, I realize some cultures do not celebrate New Year’s Day on the First, but many do, and even those who celebrate the New Year on a different day still do so in a manner of reflection and celebration. It matters that we all mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

It gives us a starting point, a blank slate so to speak. There are probably theories on the effective-or ineffectiveness-of nailing down goals on the New Year. But whether you write them out with a detailed plan of attack or just vaguely think about them, the New Year creates an atmosphere of starting fresh. You can’t, of course, ever completely start over. But you can challenge yourself, push your limits, or even just create a vacuuming schedule ( 😛 ). You don’t know what you are completely capable of. The New Year is one time of year where-whether you pursue them or not-the idea of improvement is front and center. This matters. I think we need this more then we get it because ALL of us need to improve. All. Of. Us.

As far as goals go-I do best with New Year’s resolutions. They’re just tidier in my book. There is something satisfying about starting a goal on January first and checking it off on December 31st. I’ve started projects and goals mid year and been successful-but I am MOST successful if I start in January. If I can’t get something rolling by January-chances are it won’t happen.

So make some goals, people. Or resolutions. Or life vision quest challenges. Or whatever you want to call them. But when you do so, here are a few things that I keep in mind to make mine more successful.

  1. Make them measurable (we’ve all heard this one, it isn’t new, it’s still good advice).
  2. Have accountability.
  3. PLAN. I cannot emphasize this enough, coming from a completely disheveled, disorganized background-planning makes all the difference on completing a goal and missing the mark. Create a plan, follow the plan, tell others about the plan.
  4. Be prepared to fail-successfully. You may not achieve all of your goals, but if you’ve even partially moved towards it in the right direction then this is progress. It is a “failed” goal, sure. But you’re closer to achieving it then you were when you started and this is a successful failure.
  5. Related to the above point, don’t despair. (HA! “Don’t despair, prepare to fail!” How’s that for a catch phrase). You may get derailed a few times (hey, life happens) but that doesn’t mean you need to completely toss in the towel. Be aware that this happens to the best of us. Pick yourself up, try again. If your goal was to read a chapter every night before bed and you miss a week of reading by the second week of February-don’t give up, still try to read every night for the remainder of the year (even though, let’s be honest, this is a completely unreasonable goal for most of us) and maybe tick of a calendar box every night you are able to so that you can measure your progress. At the end of the year you can tally up how many days you read and that’d still be a pretty cool number to see.
  6. Build on previous goals, or repeat them. Supposedly it only takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, it takes me less then 3 to break one if that is the case.To be a creature of habit I have to WORK at it. Which means some goals I repeat to keep myself on track, or I expand on the success of a previous goal to keep that area of my life moving in the right direction.
  7. Figure out the TYPE of goals that work for you. For example, say you want to get healthier in the New Year. Are you a “lose 20lbs” type of guy or a “workout once a week” type of girl? Or maybe a “read three nutritional books this year” individual? Whatever angle works best for you, THAT is what you need to put in your goal. If you want to increase your amount of exercise, improve your nutritional know-how, master a cooking skill-whichever gets you closer to your overarching goal of healthy living.

Lastly, y’all. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Introspection is good. Goals are good. Not being able to relax enough to enjoy the blessings you’ve been given is not good. Find the balance, walk the line between focused and obsessive. Laugh at yourself.

Here are some things I discovered about myself in 2015 that I find not just a little bit embarrassing/amusing.

  1. I technically have a home business. HA! Oh man, I feel like I’m checking off some military spouse right of passage. Next year I might open up an Etsy shop, you never know.
  2. I can’t pretend not to be  health nut anymore when I get excited about finding coconut aminos in the commissary.
  3. I like the taste of organic stuff better. I mean, I’m not ready to jump on all of the organic bandwagon because I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to the latest and greatest healthy whatever (seriously, is coffee good or bad for you? What about wine?)-but dude, it does taste better. Especially eggs. But also chicken. And produce. Ok, usually all of it. Maybe because I am cooking with far less sugar and salt so I can actually taste the difference? I dunno, but it’s a difference I’m willing to pay for and the lack of pesticides is nice. I’ve totally crossed over to the dark side haven’t I?
  4. I, the child who had piles of stuff a couple feet deep in her room, is now tossing/donating things left and right and LOVING it. No duplicates. If it doesn’t get used, pitch it. If I don’t wear it, pitch it. If the boys don’t play with it, pitch it. PITCH IT ALL! (Or donate. Actually mostly donate, but PITCH IT ALL sounds more fun). There is such irony in this. I used to obsess over saving pipecleaners I was sure I could untwist and reuse, and tiny, tiny shreds of scrap fabric that would eventually disintegrate into threads.

That’s it for tonight, tomorrow I’ll have my Resolutions up and running. Happy New Year everyone! Take a moment to reflect and celebrate, even if it’s in your pj’s while browsing Facebook. 😉

 

Snooking Up Hoflakes

^^^ I meant to say, “Hooking up snowflakes” but my tired brain turned our kid friendly conversation PG13. Decorating with toddlers is not for the faint of heart…

This extended visit with family has been nuts, y’all. I cherish the healthy, happy relationships I have with my family and in-laws, and family is a priority for me-I want the boys to know their Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. This is tough being military since we’ve been in for 7 years and lived in 4 different states already. Holidays are especially frustrating for me because I wrestle with seasonal depression every winter-so annoying. So I knew this trip was going to be rough. I knew it was also something I needed to do.

Oh man. I brought my bag of ShakeO-which with it’s full compliment of B vitamins (include happy lovin’ B12) has been helping to keep me just above emotional exhaustion. And it tastes better than the pill supplements I usually take this time of year, ha. Grandparents have been awesome-spotting me naps here and there, providing an outlet for the boys’ need to hug/tackle people, and generally giving me a break. I miss Brian-it’s like a mini deployment, boo. I have NOT been able to exercise regularly. 🙁 A number of things have contributed to that, but it’s a bummer all the way around.

I’ve come to the realization that I am now REALLY sensitive to sugar and caffeine. I went in knowing I was going to bend my typical diet (diet as in “foods I usually consume” not diet as in “weird list of restrictions/rules pertaining to eating” ) because it’s the holidays and I was not going to stress about it. So I didn’t stress. I had coffee and oreos and ice cream whenever I felt like it (read:daily). After a few days I couldn’t drag myself out of bed and I had a perpetual headache drugs didn’t touch. So no more of that. Or at least, far, far less, haha. I still like the above foods, but whoa, not enough to deal with feeling pummeled by a dump truck. I’m feeling much better now, and I am still indulging in sweet tea which is enough caffeine and sugar for me. Is there such a thing as a sugar hang over? Also, I just can’t do fastfood. Instant gross. Not only does it taste gross, it feels gross. Bleeeeeeaaarrggh. I don’t miss it.

Big perks though-I still cook dinner most nights, and I don’t have ANY leftovers because my parents eat it. 😀 I LOVE having my food EATEN. I can cook meals that I like-regardless of whether the boys will eat it or not-and I know I won’t have to eat leftovers for the next four days! And, on that note, I really like home cooked meals better than eating out. Don’t get me wrong, there are nights when I want to eat out just because I really don’t feel like cooking, but I used to like eating out for the sake of the food. Now I eat out for the sake of not cooking-my mom and I can make better tasting food at the house.

That’s my update for now. I’m getting really excited about the Hammer and Chisel program Brian and I are doing together starting January 4th-oh how nice it will be to exercise faithfully again! There’s still time to join us if you’re looking for a way to get healthier in 2016. And if not that program, there are many, many other options. I know people now, lol.

But seriously, maybe think about a few wellness goals for the new year?

Cool beans!

This’ll be a brief post to relay two things:

One, yes I’m still alive and yes I’ll be blogging again! I’m on an extended holiday visit with family, so everything is a bit odd right now-crazy, but in a good way. The boys and I are staying at my parents, Brian will join us for Christmas week. Trying to get the boys settled and on track in the confusion of things is taking it’s toll, in addition to all of the typical hustle and bustle of the holiday seasons. But! I will be blogging again, maybe even before Christmas. If not before Christmas definitely after.

And two: I earned a cruise to Jamaica through Beachbody! How cool is that? I thought it was pretty cool. The name Beachbody irks me a little, but I really like how the business is run and am enjoying the feeling of “company” or “community workout buddies” when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularily. Anywho, I won’t be going on the cruise because I really don’t like cruises, but I think it’s cool I earned a spot! I was excited anyway, haha.

By the way, it isn’t too late to join the Hammer and Chisel challenge we are starting in the New Year. We’re doing it with a relationship twist, but you can just ignore that part if you aren’t interested. Should be fun. 🙂

That’s all I’ve got. Be back writing soon.

Throwing in the Towel

We made it to the end! Last on the list for what not to say to children about food-is when we, the parents, give up. And although this list is about “saying” things to kids, you don’t always have to say anything. If you realize your two year old is not eating dinner so you leave the table and make something you know they’ll eat that is different from what everyone else is eating, well, you’ve encouraged them to stay picky. You’ve told them that they don’t actually ever have to try new foods, they will always get what they want.

Ouch. This one is a tough habit to break. I don’t know any parents that like dealing with a cranky, hungry toddler. I also don’t know a lot of parents that are adept at creating meals every night with enough side dishes to please everyone. This is where my slice of bread at night thing comes in handy. The slice comes at least an hour after dinner-so it isn’t an immediate, “here, let me feed you something else” and despite the amount of dinner consumed they only ever get one slice and that is the only pre bed snack they get. Cade can choose butter or no butter, Zane gets PB and honey. It’s part of their routine-they’re offered bread an hour after a good dinner (which often isn’t eaten completely) and bread an hour after a not so good dinner, and it helps take the edge of the hunger from a not well eaten dinner so that they at least fall asleep at night. Now, if they didn’t eat much at dinner they usually wake up ready to eat off my face if I don’t get oatmeal provided quickly enough, but hey, that’s life with toddlers. And so far, Cade is still a more adventuresome eater then a lot of two year olds. Tonight he actually tried chicken and red beets in goat cheese. He didn’t eat a lot-although he licked all of the “pink!” cheese-and he was more interested in trying to cut the chicken then consume it BUT he tried it.

I may phase this “pre bed” snack out, regardless, because I really want to encourage my boys to eat a variety of foods-but it’s a nice fall back for when I forget to make them a side at dinner that I know they’ll eat. And if I do it ONLY when I forget to make them a side at dinner, then I feel like I AM reinforcing the idea that they’ll always get what they want. But if I do it consistently around 7-730 and it is always the same thing, then it seems more like normal routine and less like “something special”. Like, when the boys don’t eat a big lunch-for whatever reason-but the typical snack they get when they wake up is a banana. They like bananas-but I’m not reinforcing that they don’t need to eat lunch since the banana doesn’t happen AT lunch.

Does that make any sense? Lol. Anyway. I am relieved that I have made it to the end of this list. I love reading Maryann’s blog, but this consistent posting thing is not my forte-especially this time of year. I’ll keep working on it, though, and maybe get a few recipes up. 🙂

Guilty Pleasures

Number 9! “We don’t eat cake often because it is bad for you.” 

Now the child equates pleasure with “being bad”. Womp womp. This falls under the category of “food judging/labeling” but I like that she includes all of the different nuances of judging on her list, because too often we think, “well, I don’t do it blatantly or like so and so does, so it’s ok…” when the literature points to the contrary. With eating disorders and child obesity on the rise, it’s important to stop equivocating and start putting a tiny grain of faith in the research. This particular method of judgement is crucial, in my opinion, because it can so easily extend to other areas besides food. “Well, if all the food I like that tastes delicious are BAD for me, then these other things I like must be bad…and THEN well if a thing is BAD then it must be pleasurable.” Uh oh.

End story here people: food is food is food. At our house, “Food gives us energy and strength.” ALL food. From cupcakes to carrots. That is ALL I say about food to the kids. Internally, of course, I’m trying to slant the victory towards fruits and veggies, but I do this WITHOUT telling them. I am not talking about sneaking vegetables into dinner-Maryann actually address the problems associated with this method in a different article here-I’m talking about eating lots of healthy food in front of them and making all sorts of (genuine) “yum yum!” noises the same as if I am eating cake. I’m talking about not keeping cookies, crackers, or less nutritionally desirable food in the house so that when it comes to snack time their (and my!) only options are somewhat healthy.

The suggestion made for this particular scenario is to explain that we only eat cake sometimes-like at parties or celebrations- and that we’ll have more cake then. We do this with the boys and bread. I monitor their bread intake because too much and-not only do they eat less fruits and veggies-they also don’t poop. So all wheat based products get limited throughout the day. However, I make my own bread so I don’t feel bad giving them a piece consistently. They may get a piece during the day, but they almost always get a piece as a pre bed time snack. So if Cade asks for bread first thing, I simply say, “No, bud, it’s oatmeal time. We’ll have bread tonight before bed.” I repeat it however many times I need to, but usually just once is enough to satisfy and we don’t have to label anything.

Tomorrow will be the last post on picky eaters! If you want more pretty cool tips and tricks, follow the Raise Healthy Eaters blog! (And no, she doesn’t pay me to advertise, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know my tiny blog exists, haha. Still! Good stuff. 🙂 )

Not Just For Kids

“If you eat your veggies, then you can have dessert.” ….This, to me, is a two things in one on “what not to say about food” and I think it really needs to be struck from not just our dialogue but also our thought process. This 1.) makes veggies a chore and 2.) dessert a reward. Leave food rewarding to dog trainers, don’t teach it to your kids, but better yet, examine your own mindset.

This is THE way society views food. Health bars that are “guilt free!” (there should be no guilt to begin with). “You won’t believe it’s good for you, tastes just like dessert!” (So, things that are good for you automatically taste horrible). The number of commercials with women practically making love to tiny cups of yogurt compared to others staring woefully at wilted salads in their quest to “be healthy”…This mentality that vegetables taste gross and if you do something good you should reward yourself with sweets is ingrained into the fabric of this culture. Statements like this make vegetables work. A chore to be done. Business to get through. A task to survive. And dessert is made MORE desirable by making it a reward. Believe me, people, we don’t need any help in making dessert desirable-it’s flipping delicious. We-the entire human race- are always going to enjoy the taste of sugar (and how it lights up the happy places in our brain).

But vegetables don’t taste gross (at least not all of them. I’ve yet to meet a pea that I didn’t DIDN’T like). They may not taste like a triple chocolate lava cake- but that doesn’t make them automatically gross. Or even work. Your child will be flooded with this idea that vegetables are work and dessert is the best thing ever- keep it away from your own dinner table. Maryann suggests saying the veggies taste like “x food” that the child likes, and above all to model healthy vegetable eating.

This is not easy for me. The idea that vegetables are work has been my mindset for years. Even though I naturally do LIKE some vegetables, I think of them as “not really food”.  Ridiculous. Since having Cade and Zane my vegetable intake has increased and I am slowly, painstakingly changing the way I view them. From zucchini noodles to eggplant (which I really, really like) to the typical steamed side of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, veggies are making a regular appearance at the dinner table-and throughout the day. So far it seems to be working. We talk about vegetables in the same manner that we talk about icecream. Tonight Cade requested more carrots to eat during TV time. I really think the fact that I eat veggies around them all the time is the biggest influence on both boys’ veggie eating habits. And we don’t have dessert at the house, although we do go out for icecream on occasion. There are no cookies, no cakes or pies or candy…pretty lame, I know, but the boys seem to be thriving just fine.

So this No No is a big one, folks, and it’s for adults as well as children. There is nothing wrong with enjoying food, including dessert, and it should be completely guilt free (unless you’ve swiped the last piece of pie from your sister, or something, SHAME ON YOU). Vegetables are food, too, and they can taste good. Toddlers may never be vociferous vegetable eaters-and that’s ok-but don’t turn them into vegetable haters.