Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eating Clean with a Side of Dirty

For awhile now I've been saying that I need to focus on what I'm eating.  It's been over four years since I started to live a "healthier" life.  A lot of my attention was focused on exercise, reducing my portion sizes and cutting out pop.  I dropped fifty pounds and have kept it off (give and take a few fluctuating pounds!).  But I've been stuck for several years and have felt like there was more I needed to do on this healthy living journey.  The thing that has been staring me in the face is what I am eating.

Should I go gluten-free?  paleo?  clean?  low-fat?  no carbs?  strict calorie count?  some type of shake?  I've always had an excuse as to why I haven't made a decision and declared my eating style.  I don't have enough time.  I don't understand all of that science mumbo jumbo.  I know me - I'll make a big announcement and then in a few weeks barge into Gateway Grill and inhale a pizza all by myself then I'll collapse in a puddle of guilt. So rather than making any type of decision, I've just ignored the topic.

Over the past several weeks I've taken the time to read several articles and blogs about these various eating styles and tried some new recipes.  I've come to my conclusion: Why do I feel the need to declare myself as anything?

I have seen many people make declarations that they are going one way or another only to last a week or even a month before going back to their old eating habits.  I've also seen people who have made drastic eating changes and stuck with them - but will it last forever?  Plus, like I mentioned earlier - I know me and I know my life.  I need room for flexibility and moments of weakness (aka guilt-free stress eating) and simplicity.  To put myself in a specific box would just be a disaster.

On the flipside of this discussion going on in my brain, I do know very little about nutrition.  If I want to make changes to my eating habits, I am going to have to have some guidance.  So while I'm not going to make any declaration about following a specific eating style, I am going to take some specific and purposeful steps to surround myself with knowledgeable people to continue to learn from and guide me.

Here's who I'm leaning on:

1) The Positively Fit U facebook page (which I absolutely LOVE - check it out for inspiration! posts encouraging reminders about making healthy choices.  I need those daily reminders!  I was browsing the page for information and came across two statements that hit home for me:
When I eat like crap, I feel like crap.
It's all about creating healthy habits rather than restrictions.

There is great truth to the fact that I simply need to make good choices.  In most cases it is very clear - a handful of almonds is better than bag of chips.  Water is better than pop (even diet!).  A bunch of sweet grapes is better than a handful of cookies; however, satisfying a sweet tooth craving with one cookie is better than struggling to resist the craving and then caving a eating the entire bag of cookies.  I don't need to know all of the nitty gritty facts in order to make healthy choices.

2) Out of all of the eating styles I looked at, Clean Eating was my favorite.  The recipes are SO good and simple for me to follow.  I don't always have the time or money or honestly the desire to hunt for and purchase some of the purely natural ingredients so I tell my family that we are eating clean with a side of dirty. For example, I made apple nachos the other day.  The recipe called for melted natural peanut butter and melted dark chocolate chips.  I had neither in my pantry, so I simply used Jif peanut butter and chocolate syrup.  Not purely clean, but still a yummy healthy snack!  I've been making myself "clean" breakfasts and lunches while preparing 2-3 "clean" dinners for the past few weeks.  Very yummy and I have noticed a big difference in how I feel.  Pinterest has a TON of recipes and I've been following He and She Eat Clean on facebook (  I share my favorite recipes on my facebook page so check it out -

3)    My friend Dana is a dietitian and a FABULOUS support for me!  She loves to talk about eating healthy.  Her lunches at work are a great example of eating healthy.  And she is very encouraging.  I love to bounce ideas off of her brain!  Is there a person in your life that you can talk with about nutrition who knows what they are talking about (that person doesn't have to be a registered dietitian)?  If not - find one!  You can also check through your health insurance or your work's Employee Assistance Program.  They most likely have benefits involving some type of nutrition counseling.

4) My family - getting them on board has been quite the challenge, but they are slowly going along with trying some new things.  I keep reminding myself that they are one of the main reasons I'm focusing on the food we're putting in our mouths! 

Bottom line - I'm buying less cans and frozen foods and preparing more fresh foods.  The taste is better.  I feel better.  Hopefully I'll start to see some re-newed progress on the scale.  And I'm having fun trying new things.  Sounds like a step in the right direction to me! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

the ONE thing i would have done differently on vacation that would have made it a whole lot better

When we left for vacation I was wound tighter than a ball of string.  Work was extremely stressful.  We had several participants pass away over the weeks leading up to my vacation.  We were also working through one of the most intense scenarios with a participant that I have ever experienced and I was leaving for an entire week!  I kept seeing all of the back to school pics on Facebook and knew that I would be returning home to the excitement and anxiety of one child starting junior high and the other high school.  I was anticipating the pattern of high stress that my husband faces every fall.    On top of that I was not exercising on a consistent basis and felt like I had gained 20 pounds.  BLAH!  I needed the beach!

So I drove for two days with one thought on my mind . . . I need the beach!  We arrived at the condo.  I unpacked the suitcases, made the beds, traveled to the grocery store twice (stupid tin foil!!), cooked dinner and prepared the overnight French toast for my husband's birthday breakfast the next morning all with one thought on my mind . . . I need the beach!  By then it was dark and I was exhausted so I fell into bed knowing that I would be up at the crack of dawn which is exactly what I wanted to have happen. I couldn't wait for morning!

My eyes flew open at 6AM.  I grabbed my book, my chair and my mug of coffee.  Running over the dunes I leapt across the sand landing in my chair.  Book open, coffee sipped, the sunrise shimmering across the waves.  Ahhhhh . . . I'm at the beach! 

Let me repeat that.  Ahhhhh . . . I'm at the beach!  Wait - Why was I not relaxing?!?!?  Random thoughts kept popping into my mind.  My skin felt tight.  I had a headache.  My body was not responding to my command to RELAX! 

This happened over and over throughout the week.  Riding the waves . . . not relaxing.  Playing Monkey in the Middle in the pool . . . not relaxing.  Watching an amazing lightening display over the ocean . . . not relaxing.  Watching a movie . . . not relaxing. 

I kept telling myself to relax.  But those random thoughts were like an unending bag of popcorn in the microwave!  I kept trying to stuff them and tell them to leave me alone!  I was here to relax.

Before I knew it, it was Friday morning.  My last morning on the beach.  As I had planned, I took a tablet and pen with me down to the shore.  I wanted to be "prepared" for life when I got home so that I returned ready to roll while holding on to this state of relaxation I was to have achieved while away. 

I sat in my favorite spot with the sun shining on my face and the surf nibbling my toes.  I looked out over the waves . . . Come on!  It's the last day.  RELAX!!!

"Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you."  Psalm 55:22 NLT

What was that? 

"Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you."  Psalm 55:22 NLT

Seriously????  I can be so stupid some times.  God had literally been staring me in the face the ENTIRE week.  I was so busy trying to ignore my stress-filled thoughts and relax that I ignored Him.  God was right there waiting for me to hand Him my stress and worries.

So I sat there in my chair in my favorite spot with the sun shining on my face and the surf nibbling my toes and had a nice long conversation with God.  By the end of our talk I had written down the three things that were bothering my the most and identified two action steps that I would take in each area when I got home.  I closed the tablet, walked up to the condo, put the tablet in a dresser drawer, walked back down to the beach and had the BEST day of the entire week.

Next year I'm having this conversation on day ONE of my vacation!

Thank you Lord for a great week at the beach - and a great life lesson!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recovering from Our Visit to the Pediatrician's Office

A couple of weeks ago I took my 12 year-old daughter to the pediatrician for her annual check-up.  I have to confess that I have been on a wild emotional roller coaster ever since.  The doctor that we'd seen for years left the practice, so we were assigned a new one.  Our appointment ended with a lecture about my daughter's weight and BMI and how my role as a mother resulted in these numbers.  I left the office in silence, fighting back tears.  That began a tumultuous journey through a variety of emotions.

First came the POOR ME phase.  What does this doctor expect from me?  Does she not know how hard my life is?  Very few people understand what it's like to be a caregiving spouse to a person with a chronic illness, let alone an invisible one!  I'm not home during the day to monitor or teach my kids what to do and eat.  And I'm tired when I do get home.  I feel so guilty about that!  Plus, I'm an emotional eater.  I ate my way through the first five years of my husband's illness.  So my kids ate through those years, too.  I couldn't help myself.  I can't help myself now - let's all go our for ice cream.  Didn't I buy chips at the grocery store?  Poor me!!  Can't you see how helpless I am doc?!?  Boo Hoo Hoo!

Then came the I SUCK AS A MOTHER phase.  I should be stronger.  I should have more energy.  I should be more encouraging and inspiring so that my children want to be active and healthy.  I should be stricter.  They should fear what will happen to them when I find out that they've eaten the entire box of granola bars in one day.  I should not buy granola bars.  Only horrible moms buy processed fattening granola bars.  I drove to the grocery store where I proceeded to buy one of nearly every single fruit and vegetable in the produce section.  When I got home I threw out every bag of chips, box of crackers and anything else resembling an "unhealthy snack." 

Then I got angry - really, really angry.  SCREW YOU doc!  You don't know me.  You spent all of ten minutes with us.  You don't know our life story.  You don't the positive changes that we've made over the past couple of years.  We're not perfect, but we're trying.  You didn't even spend enough time with us to figure that out.  How dare you put me down in front of my daughter and make me feel like a piece of poo!

Finally, I calmed down and realized that I was on the right path.  My family and I have made great strides in living a healthy lifestyle over the past couple of years.  Are we perfect?  No.  But no one is!  Are we trying our best?  Yes!  Can we do better?  Absolutely!  Is there always more to learn?  You bet!   The key is that we keep moving - aiming to go forward, but not panicking if we stumble back a few steps.  People and situations are going to enter my life that are going to attempt to divert me from my goal by playing with my emotions.  I can choose to let them derail me or jump over them and keep going.  I need to relax and trust in myself that I am on the right path.  What is that verse that has gotten me through to this point of my journey?

So doc - I'm a good mother.  Actually, I'm a GREAT mother!  I'm a great mother doing my best to raise two children in this crazy world filled with video games and smart phones and fast food drive-thrus and chronic diseases and . . . . Thanks for the reminder.

Check out Mom Went Running (Chapter 2) in the newly released book - Inspire!  You can find it at