Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Popeye Would Be Proud (Clean Eating Day 9)

There was a picture of our dinner to go with this post. I decided against using it. I was afraid if I showed you the picture, you would react just like an 8 year old. An 8 year old being weaned off of S'Mores PopTarts...my daughter. There was crying & gagging & begging at dinner tonight. You would've thought I was force feeding cow tongues & eyeballs. All I did was serve a smoothie. Ok fine, there was spinach in it (a whole heckuvalotta spinach). But my husband and boys couldn't even taste the spinach. Neither could I. When you try it, you won't taste it either; however, the girl adamantly insists she tastes spinach!! Yeah right. She's never even eaten spinach. She wouldn't know what spinach tasted like if it ended up in a smoothie at dinner. See there, I just proved my own point. Yes, I could've slipped it in without telling her. That was the plan...but the little rat snuck up on me while I was blending...I had no idea she was there...eyeballin' me the whole time. I really need someone to make a silencer for the blender. 

I found tons of great smoothie recipes here. It's my new favorite site. I tweaked the recipe I found for the purposes of feeding my family of five. And yes, it was YUMMMMMY:
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 C water
  • 4 C spinach
  • 2 ripe bananas (that's my preference...I use bananas that are very ripe; otherwise, I notice a bitter taste)
  • 1 C frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 T ground flax seed
This recipe made plenty, with some left for me to have in the morning. 

P.S. Please be kind. If you have a child who loves spinach, spinach in smoothies, and would never consider touching a S'Mores PopTart...YAY for you. Now, just be grateful and gloat in silence. Thanks. ;)

Monday, May 28, 2012

We Remember

Many years ago, while living in Kansas City, I hosted a baby shower for a dear & lifelong friend. P and I had grown up in towns just 30 minutes away from each other. We attended girls' camps together in the summer, youth conferences, and our families went "way back". Over the years going to college, marriage, and life in general took us different places. I was overjoyed when Jared ended up attending the same D.O. school her husband did. After so many years, we were living close by each other once again...random and wonderful. She and her husband were a source of strength and support to us, my oldest son & her oldest daughter were big buddies. I will be forever grateful for all they did to help us through that first year of our new life in Missouri.

I had the pleasure of spending time with P's mother-in-law when she came to visit and attended the baby shower. I was missing my own mom during that time. I felt a longing for that "feeling" of having a Southern matriarch close by...I loved Kansas City, and miss it to this day; however, during that time I just needed a Southern mama. Spending time with my friend's mother-in-law was just what I needed. And before she left my home, as she hugged me goodbye, I remember thinking, "I surely do love this adorable little lady."

On September 29, 2010 she lost her son. Senior Airman Mark Forester was killed while serving our country. I didn't know Mark extremely well. But, his brother, his sister-in-law P, their children? They are like extended family to me. And his mother? I told you. I loved her from the moment she stepped foot in my home & graced me with her presence. 

I think of her, and her family, several times a week. But admittedly, I can't ponder on her loss too often. When I think of her, my heart begins to pound, and it feels harder to breathe. So quickly I try to wrap it up, and tuck it away on my "grief shelf". I do this with all thoughts of mothers who've lost their children; otherwise, I would live fully in their grief and mine all day. Everyday. 

But today isn't "everyday". Today is a day for remembering, and stepping outside of the comfortable thoughts we enjoy each day. It is a day to ponder sacrifice & that isn't always an easy thing to do. But, it is also a day for rejoicing in the freedoms we share, freedoms others have given us...and paid for with their very lives. Today, my family will take more than a few moments and pay tribute to all who have gone before us in the cause of freedom and relieving oppression. We will stop to pray for and think of the Forester family. We will pause to reflect on the life of Senior Airman Mark Forester. I will pray especially for his sweet mother, expressing heartfelt gratitude for her sacrifice of a young son. Today, we remember.

You can read more about the extraordinary life of Senior Airman Mark Forester here

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Human Error (Clean Eating Day 6)


I spent quite a bit of time working on a post yesterday. While writing, a stack of papers I had piled beside the laptop slid. The avalanche of paper pushed a notebook onto the laptop, and that notebook landed on the keyboard. Usually posts automatically save, or at the very least I have the forethought to save things myself. Not yesterday. Immediately, my mind wanted to make myself feel better. "That probably happened for a reason. Maybe it was a sucky post, maybe you shouldn't write about this journey because you're going to annoy people, but probably it was just a sucky post. Maybe you just weren't supposed to share that one."  

But, I know the real reason why that post was deleted. Because I was stupid and made a bad decision. My desk is in huge need of clean up (yet another chore I haven't stayed on top of since Monday). I've always opened mail by the garbage can in my garage. That way, the only thing that gets inside my house is the mail I need to keep. No envelopes, junk mail, etc. But, not since Monday. On my desk there is a pile of mail, lip balm, 3 notebooks, and graduation gifts I have yet to deliver, as well as an assortment of pens & pencils. Stupid=letting things pile up like that. Bad decision=writing a post with the pile teetering next to the laptop. There was nothing spiritual, cosmic, karmic, religious, etc. to do with my post getting deleted. It happened because of my human error. 

I hesitate writing this next part. I don't want anyone (especially the bigots who ignorantly and stubbornly insist I'm not a Christian because I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...ughhh, it's played out bigots & gettin' old) to misunderstand what I'm trying to communicate. And I don't know if I can express it clearly. But, I'm going to try.

This world our Father in Heaven created for us is subject to the laws of nature. Things happen. Sometimes those things are lovely and beautiful, other times tragic and horrifying. Sometimes we see miracles. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes He intervenes, other times He doesn't. And we may never receive an answer to our "whys". I made a firm decision years ago that I wouldn't allow any of the things I just mentioned cause me to trust Him less, become less faithful or stop praying for miracles. I decided to live in HIS world, rather than try and control what I believed to be MY world. 

Did my daughter die because of "reasons" other than: she had a chromosomal abnormality that caused countless health problems, those problems in turn causing survival outside of my womb to be impossible for her? No, there were no other "reasons". Her additional 18th chromosome was in direct opposition to the laws of nature. And if she had not fulfilled her purpose, just in the short 9 months I carried her, I have no doubt He most certainly would have intervened. But, the reasons she died were not because He "took her" from me to punish me or to "test" me. Now, the devastation and effects of her death were absolutely tests for me. But I do not, I will not, believe my Heavenly Father "took" my daughter's life because He wanted to see if I could pass a cruel test. I don't believe I was being punished for some past transgression. In that particular circumstance there were no human errors such as stupidity or bad decision making. It was biology & God's plan allowing my child to fulfill her purpose and return to Him. He didn't intervene as nature took its course because He didn't need to...that was the reason, plain and simple.

Now you are surely asking, "What in the world does any of this have to do with her clean eating journey?" I need to be clear: my own human error led me to where I am now. It would be so much easier to just let myself believe I was mistreating my body and eating poorly because of some deep-rooted, terrible pain or loss. Much easier to believe that for years self-sabotage has been my way of expressing the grief I feel over losses I've experienced in my life. There are things that time never heals, and there is pain we will always feel. It would be convenient for me to tell you that's how I became a professional in the field of self-sabotage. It would be much easier for me to tell you that I gain weight because of my hypothyroidism. 

But, I wouldn't be telling you the whole truth. While those things most definitely play a part (and I am not discounting anyone who has health issues like hypothyroidism, etc. or people who have emotional struggles) they are not the REASONS for my poor health choices. Playing a part in something and being a reason for something are different things. But, I've used them as excuses/reasons for eating all the crappy foods I love, used them as excuses/reasons for not caring. For many years it's worked out just fine. But I turn 40 this year, this body of mine is changing. My poor choices won't keep working out "just fine". 

Everything most certainly does happen for a reason. Often, we humans mistakenly use God or other people as the alter upon which we lay all of our "reasons". Truth be told, sometimes the reasons can be laid only at our own feet, with thanks given to our own human errors. Stupid=being too lazy & stubborn to simply do the right thing for my body, not admitting I just happen to enjoy anti-foods. Bad decisions=giving in to "but it tastes so good", living on foods that could possibly outlive people because they are so full of chemicals & preservatives, and using food as a friend rather than using food as fuel. 

I started turning things around this week. Smart=food is neither my friend, nor my enemy...food is my fuel. Good decisions=see below. I'm only posting Wed, Thurs, Friday because Monday and today are so similar to the others...creature of habit, remember? I don't need a lot of variety. Some of you may look at this and wonder how I could find eating clean to be difficult. Let me tell you, if you weren't born with a palate that naturally appreciates greek yogurt, you can't understand. And, I love sugar that comes from all the wrong places!!!...milk chocolate, cereal, Dr.Pepper, ice cream, sour gummy worms, etc. I am literally in the process of retraining my palate. It's also important to note that what I have listed is exactly what entered my mouth on a particular day. There was no "just one Hershey's kiss", or "just one bite of" so & so. If it went in my mouth, it's recorded.

Wednesday: 2 boiled eggs, 2 slices nitrate free turkey, blackberries
Thursday: 1/2 C oatmeal (prepared using almond milk), topped with berries
Friday: 1 boiled egg, 5 baby carrots, banana & 1T almond butter

Morning Snacks
Wednesday: banana & 1T almond butter
Thursday: apple & string cheese
Friday: apple & leftover protein shake from Thursday's dinner

Wed: romaine lettuce topped with loads of vegetables, olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing
Thurs: romaine topped with tuna (prepared using greek yogurt, mustard, and a little relish)
Fri: baby spinach and tuna, 1/2 of a Babybel cheese, 3 Mary's Gone crackers

Afternoon Snacks
Wed: apple & 1T almond butter
Thurs: apple & unsalted cashews
Fri: went to movie with the family, asked Bethany beforehand & she gave me the ok to have a tiny bit of popcorn. I had 2 scant handfuls of popcorn (made me feel sick), took a snack bag of green peppers with me (so glad I did), and drank 44 oz of water while in the movie.

Wed: romaine topped with avocado, rinsed black beans, cilantro, red & green peppers
Thurs: a kick-butt protein shake I made with one scoop protein powder, 1/2 C almond milk, 1T almond butter, 1/2 of a banana, lots of ice
Fri: grilled chicken, grilled veggies, watermelon

*No, I'm not measuring everything. I'm really only measuring out the things that have potential to cause me portion control problems (almond butter, oatmeal, cheese, Mary's Gone crackers) Today Bethany mentioned if we hit a plateau later in the program, we'll need to focus more on measuring.
*Mary's Gone crackers were recommended by another lady in the group. They are AhhhMazing! Find them in the natural foods section of Kroger.
*Thing that made me go hmmmm: almonds make me feel hungrier and really hurt my stomach. Cashews don't. So, cashews have become my nut of choice. 
*Yes, I still desperately miss my ice cream. 
*Bethany recommended The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno. Don't let the recipes scare you. I haven't paid much attention to them because they aren't appealing to me. But, the book was fantastic and helpful in introducing me to the principles of clean eating. Also, based on Bethany's recommendation, I just ordered Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Clean Eating Journey: Day 4

Hooray, I'm still alive! Yesterday I mentioned feeling great in the morning, but wondering what the afternoon might have in store for me. The foggy feeling didn't rear its ugly head until around 4:30 p.m. And even then, it was mild in comparison to what I felt the previous days.

Today has been fantastic! I can feel my energy level on an upswing. It's 10 p.m. and I've had zero fuzzy, foggy brain today. It's been a much better day, but heaven help me! There are times in the day that I reeeeeally want to cheat. But I'm so happy when I talk myself down and push through the temptation. I believe the reason I'm on the upswing this soon is because I haven't cheated. I don't think I would feel as well if I were confusing my body by beginning this program, then cheating (even slightly) every once in a while during the day. That isn't to say that I'll never again in my life have a cupcake, some ice cream, or bowl of cereal. But I can tell you, it will be a very long time before I even consider it. 

The toughest part of each day for me is between 2p.m. and 4p.m. I feel myself dragging, and diligently fighting the urge to be grumpy.  This is when I would love nothing more than a icy cold Dr.Pepper from Chick-fil-A. I just have to fill up my 80 oz water container and push through the slump. I've been trying to keep my mind busy. I'm learning that when I feel pouty, aggravated, or desperate to have something I shouldn't, it's because I'm thinking too much. One huge hurdle I'm trying to overcome is how food consumes my thoughts. This was the case well before I started eating clean. I felt guilty about pretty much any and everything I ate. Now, not getting to eat those things consumes my thoughts. So I have to stay busy and involved in something, or I will freak out over the fact that I can't eat cookie dough ice cream!! Ok, have to quickly move to the next topic or I might cry over ice cream...AGAIN!

For people who've been relatively healthy eaters, maybe this wouldn't be difficult? But I've turned my own world upside down this week. Everything about this is new to me. I was a once a week shopper. I can't even express my level of disdain for shopping. I hate it! Processed crap can last an eternity in your pantry. The items you find on the perimeter of your grocery store? Well, not so much. Eating clean means I go to the store frequently, whether I like it or not. Surprisingly, I'm beginning to enjoy the adventure of searching the grocery store for new things to try. I have never enjoyed cooking. Eating clean means I spend more time in the kitchen. But I'm noticing my kids follow me there, they're curious, want to chat, and see what in the world I'll try next. I had never even tasted plain Greek yogurt before Monday...and let me tell you, plain greek yogurt is not the same as yogurt that has any flavor added. If you naturally enjoy the stuff, you're already a step ahead of where I was. But just since Monday, I've found ways to slowly get my taste buds on board. 

My goal for tomorrow is to share my food log...and clean my house, do some laundry, water my plants. All of these things have fallen completely by the wayside. I wasn't kidding when I said my world has been turned upside down. It had to be turned upside down and shifted, so that I can build a new foundation. One that is stronger, more resilient, and capable of out-lasting the processed crap in a pantry. 

Click here for recipes & tips from Bethany. There is a recipe she posted back in February that I can't wait to try: Pineapple Cashew Chicken. Sounds yummy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dirty Girl Has Left The Building

Oh Kanye, you sneaky little devil you! Sometimes when I least expect it, a song pops into my head. Yesterday, and again today, I woke up with the following lyrics playing in my mind:

Work it harder, make it better,
do it faster, makes us stronger,
more than ever, never over,
Our work is never over.

N-n-now that, that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger.

Honestly, I don't know exactly what Kanye meant with those lyrics. I'm pretty sure I don't even want to know. I like to find my own meaning in songs. And for now, those words are playing in my mind, on repeat. A personal anthem of sorts. If I'm not dead because of it, it must be making me stronger.

A few months ago I registered for my first 6 week session of Bethany's Bikini Boot Camp. That decision has proven to be one of the best, most empowering decisions I've made in years. Currently, I'm in my fourth session. This past Saturday, I began another new adventure. Bethany's Biggest Loser competition. I'm easily the least competitive person I know. I couldn't care less about "winning" a contest. I find that, without fail, my biggest obstacle and competitor is myself. I entered this because I need to change my eating habits and how I look at food. I also need to be held accountable. And so it began. 
I walked into a room filled with 25 ladies, and saw only one familiar face. I'm a creature of habit. I like familiar faces, so immediately I felt myself wanting to run away. I didn't. 

All of us were weighed, measured, and photographed. Then, Bethany began talking with us about what to expect on our journey from dirty, "anti-foods" to clean eating. This is no fad diet. No food groups are excluded. There are no pills, gimmicks, or shortcuts. This is a lifestyle transformation. We have signed a contract with her committing to logging every food and beverage choice we make, logging our exercise, and attending weekly meetings.

After listening to Bethany talk, I was truly inspired. She is realistic---giving me the okay to wean off of my beloved Skippy peanut butter by mixing it (for the first few days) with all natural peanut butter. Simply because she gave me the green light on that, I found myself not wanting/needing to wean. I quit the Skippy cold turkey. Tell me this isn't partly a mind game...yeah, right.

She is passionate about healthy lifestyle habits---more than once Bethany spoke of our children and how our choices influence them. She made me want to be better. She made me want to stretch myself and step outside of my comfort zone. I walked into that room on Saturday feeling terrified. No joke. I had butterflies in my stomach, thought I might vomit, and felt certain I would feel completely overwhelmed. I was consumed with self-defeating thoughts. But I walked out of that room ready to rock my own world. 

Monday came and kicked my butt in a big way. I had no energy and felt like I was walking through dense fog all day. It was ugly. I wanted to jump off the wagon and never look back. I didn't. Tuesday was much better, but I cried around 8 p.m. when the thought of not having ice cream hit me with the force of a massive garbage truck. Don't laugh, try giving up one of your favorite "drugs". And for those of you believing you don't have a drug of choice, just cold turkey quit something you love (that isn't 100% clean) and then we'll chat. So I've made it to Wednesday. I feel better than I have thus far. In fact, I'll even say I feel great! But who knows what the afternoon might bring? Having never been through any sort of rehab, I was unaware of exactly what it means to detox. I currently have a crystal clear understanding of just how poorly I've been treating my body. I'm shocked by how dependent upon legal drugs I've become over the years. You might think it's a stretch to call sugar, additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners "legal drugs". But as I've been ridding my body of them, there is no denying this is detox. No denying that in the past, when I thought I was making decent food choices, I really wasn't. I'm learning to walk away from anything that has more than 5 ingredients. If something has even ONE word I can't pronounce or that I might need a chemist to explain, I'm walking away. My sugar is coming strictly from sources like fruit and almond milk. A huge adjustment for this Crunch Berries brain of mine. 

I've decided to journal this adventure. If you've read my blog before, you know I'm pretty much an open book; therefore, I won't be sugar coating anything (literally or figuratively speaking). I'm going to be honest and share my triumphs as well as my struggles. I know there are critics and naysayers. To those people I say, you do YOU and I'll do ME. That probably sounds rude, and I don't mean to be. But, I have a wonderful mentor. I want my advice, critiques, and suggestions to come from her. She is the one I'm accountable to, she's the one monitoring my food choices, reading my health history, and focusing on what will work for me as an individual. I know myself. I'll become overwhelmed and anxious if I have more than one coach. Now, that said, I'm all for cheerleaders! I love to have them, and I especially love being one for others. I sincerely appreciate the support I've already received from so many of you. It's keeping me on track. Thanks so much!! 

No one knows how I came to this moment, except for me. So please don't tell me all the ways I could've taken this journey without joining a group, having a mentor, or all the ways you would do it differently. Again, you do you. I'll do me. I can promise you this: Every penny I spend, every moment I give in this effort is worth it. I've realized those two facts very quickly.

In short, dirty girl is slowly transforming herself into a super fresh, super clean, and much stronger individual. How do I know for sure? Because I'm not dead.