Friday, January 30, 2015

I Did it For My Health.

Come Sunday, I will close the book on my first ever whole30. Over the past month, I've gotten all sorts of comments from people. People who are proud. People who scratch their head because they don't understand, people who swear that they could never do this.

Let me be the first to say that I have been all of those people at one point or another in the past, so I totally get it. I'll also tell you that as someone who is going through it, it's a little frustrating to hear "oh I could never...." from someone, or the ever infuriating "but you're so thin."

I could never have done it either, had it not been for me realizing that if my diet didn't change, I was facing the very real possibility of being on steroids and other medication continually. I wasn't wanting that to happen, especially at my age. And let's just set the record straight: just because I'm thin does not equate to me being healthy. I was starting to stare at some health issues that may not seem like much, but looked to me like a gateway of medicines to cover up what my body was yelling at me: I wasn't feeding it correctly and I needed a do-over.

These past 30 days (28 right now if we're going to get strict with the counting) have been hard. And yet, they haven't been near as hard as I thought they would be. Overall I feel great, I took myself off of all my medications for acne and psoriasis at the beginning of this and have yet to have to use them again. My clothes fit better and I don't have the general lethargy that was typically following me around, despite the fact that I cut my habit of a daily intake of nearly 50 ounces of coffee and 32 ounces of soda.

Here are a few things I have learned:

I have the time to cook.
One of the biggest things I was worried about was having the time to cook meals for myself and my family. Mornings are a bit chaotic, but I have found a system that works well for all involved and it probably only takes an additional 10 minutes of my time in the mornings. I've always been a creature of habit and bought the store bought ready made seasoning packets. I'm not sure why, as they are just as easy to make on your own, and it leaves out some of the added junk that they add to preserve and "keep from clumping." I finally made my own marinara sauce. Not only is it easy to make, it's WAY better than the store bought stuff (so good that I now have 3 of my friends making it too!)

I have the will power to give up certain foods/drinks.
If you are a soda drinker and think you can't do this, please don't say you can't. Please say that you choose not to try. Because honestly, that was my excuse for a long time. And it is just that: an excuse. I was an avid coffee AND soda drinker. I kept Sonic in business most days. After not drinking a single soda for a month, and only drinking an 8oz cup of coffee every morning, I am convinced I CAN live without all of it, and in fact, I feel better when my diet lacks it.

What you eat really does affect your health.
The old cliche "you are what you eat" really is true. I knew this, but I didn't really LIVE by it. Life with littles is crazy and sometimes you just need to get a pizza. But we have made it an entire month with only 1 pizza box entering our home (I did not partake, as I was not home) and I'm here to say that I think we're all the better for it. If you say "well I have a picky eater" then please let me sit in that boat with you for a second. I do too. It was so bad, in fact, that I had to bring it up to the pediatrician at the well check because dinner time had become a battle that was wearing us all thin. So I braced myself for battles of unknown escalation, thinking that a whole diet would mean an even smaller selection to chose from, which would mean nights of stress and fighting at the table. But here's the funny thing: the moment I changed the diet and cut out some of the crap snacks that my kids were used to eating, the complaints were less and less. There were meals that I served during this month that all three of them asked for seconds and thirds. I truly believe that feeding them BETTER food made them WANT the food more. I was just as shocked as anyone when I realized that staying within strict boundaries created a better eater out of all of us.

I really like cereal.
Before whole30, I was a creature of habit at breakfast. A small bowl of granola, with a large iced latte and possibly a piece of fruit. If there is one thing I missed more than anything during this month it was my cereal. I have since been pinning homemade granola recipes, and hope that I can incorporate them in our new diet (praying that I don't have a reaction to gluten when I start reincorporation next week). This also leads me to my next learning point...

There's a lot of crap even in the "healthiest" of foods.
I have had to read labels for everything to make sure I am compliant in what I cook. Because of this I've stuck with mostly homemade things. But when I have had to get canned goods I have learned that even if you are buying tuna, you're really buying tuna in soy (soy is in EVERYTHING we eat. If you don't believe me, start reading your ingredient labels. It's INSANE). Think you're buying coconut milk or almond milk? Think again if it has that carageenan in it (some studies show it is linked to an increased risk of cancer).

I've had to think a lot this week about where I will go from here. Honestly I think that's been the hardest part of this entire journey for me... it's made me become so much more aware of what I'm putting not only in my body, but in my kids. I really think we will try to stick to a mostly paleo-type diet moving forward. A friend of mine asked me earlier this week if I still feed my kids processed foods. My answer was yes, and will likely remain yes. Look, I'm a busy mom just like most all other moms. Soccer starts up soon, and Lord knows we'll eat pizza come soccer season because life just gets crazy. I also think that it's important to allow some grace with food because I have seen too many children NOT allowed processed food and then gorge themselves on it later on because they felt like they hadn't had a chance to experience that. So here's my guidelines for our family (because some have asked): As a general rule, we will only eat all whole grain breads/pastas, etc. I have tried VERY hard to eliminate all foods that have high fructose corn syrup and food dyes (for us, both of those things lead to negative behavior that mirror ADHD. Boys in general are already crazy, and I don't need their diets making that crazy worse and then someone telling me that my kids needs medicine to overcome what I think can be eliminated through their diets). My kids get either granola (which is about to be homemade) or plain cheerios during the week, but more often than not they will eat eggs, a form of complex carb and a fruit for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and what we eat for dinner. The weekends are "special days" and they get to eat what we call "special cereal;" Right now their selection is Count Chocula. Yes, I cringe when they eat it. But they look forward to those days with a passion. And Drew is home on those days to curb the crazies should they get out of hand ;).

My plan isn't perfect, I'm the first to admit that. But I think that doing whole30 not only made me restart my metabolism, but also my way of thinking about things. If you haven't tried it, I really encourage you to. It's not the easiest thing you'll do, but it's definitely not the hardest, and the results will be well worth it.

(I'm trying to put together a post with some of my most favorite things that I've cooked over the past 30 days. Hopefully I will have that up next week sometime!)

Monday, January 19, 2015

When Life Gives you Lemons and Warm Weather.

(for the record, my title was a play on words... we are all fine).

I swore up and down that I had blogged only a few days ago. Then I checked in to read some blogs and realized that I hadn't blogged in over a week... YIKES. Guess that's what happens when you have nice weather and are too busy preparing meals all the live long day. And yes, that's exactly what I've been doing, BECAUSE...
Finishing up day 9 of #whole30 ... with none other than Mexican food. This is a taco salad made with romain, roma tomatoes, bell pepper, a mixture of ground turkey and ground beef (seasoned with homemade, compliant taco seasoning), topped with compliant s
I'm over half way thru my first ever whole30!!! I feel good, and I feel like I am finally not addicted to sodas nor do I have a dire need for caffeine anymore. It's a funny cycle-- the caffeine thing. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I was up to close to 40 ounces of iced coffee in the morning and at least a 32 ounce soda in the afternoons. And the funny thing is that I was still SO lethargic. And moody. And cranky and could whip up snark at the drop of a hat. I'm so thankful for everything I have learned over the past 17 days, the most important that I will survive without the need of lots o' caffeine. I've also found that I do indeed have the time to cook. I just have to make the time. And the biggest irony is that Connor, my child who has been giving us a run for our money during meal time, has happily eaten everything I have cooked. Go figure. I'm finally getting used to lots o' lemon and limes in my water (thus the title of this post), but will be honest and say that I do miss a good Mexican food meal with a side of margarita. I'm not sure I could eliminate either of those two things from my diet without being VERY VERY sad.

A lot of people have asked what I will do when I finish w30. Honestly, I'm not really sure. I know that I now know that I can cook for our family and do things from scratch that I had never previously tried to do (like make my own spaghetti sauce, taco seasoning and salad dressing). I never thought I'd be able to give up my beloved drinks, but I've survived without much fuss. And the way I feel is evidence to the fact that you truly are what you eat. So, I'm sure there are changes that will be kept even when I do go back to a more "normal" diet.

Changing subjects quickly, I'd just like to share a key observation my kindergartner made today:
"Mom, I got a good question.... if it's winter, why is it so warm?"   I don't know. But go play while you can. #mboys2015
"If it's winter, why is it so warm?"

I didn't have a great answer, because science has never truly been my "thing" so I just said something like "not sure, but let's go play outside instead of playing Nintendo." That made the resident 5 year old really thrilled, since Mario has basically become the latest obsession and he wants nothing more than to beat Bowsers bad buddies and rescue Princess Peach :/ He did oblige me though, and we have all enjoyed the amazing weather, abnormal or not. I've also realized that I wish I was a meteorologist... they were swearing up and down that we'd be in for it with the snow this year. And while I know that we are not out of the winter woods yet, it's safe to say that being a meteorologist is one of the only jobs that you can be far off the money and still keep your job.

Finally, I think anyone who has ever had a child can console with me when I say that we have very quickly ushered into the terrible twos. Which really, any parent will tell you, is not near as bad as the awful threes. I'm thankful that I have a bit of experience under my belt and can remind myself that this too shall pass and they will return to me a sweet caring boy. Because when I happen to peel an orange wrong before church and all hell breaks loose, momma wanna scream just like baby. And momma don't wanna cheese like baby 2 minutes later.
He kept crying bc he wanted an orange. So I peeled an orange. Then he kept crying and threw himself on the floor (hello 2 year old tantrums.) #mboys2015
Life's rough when you're two...
....2 minutes after the orange debacle (see last pic).... #mboys2015
But not so rough that you can't lay on the charm for the camera...

I do think that even though this stage is extremely hard, it's also precious and sweet in its own sorta way. I actually pulled out my big girl camera and snapped some candid every day moments of Tyler the other day that I hope to share soon.

Until then... have a great week!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Nintendo, Whole30 and Friends.

Apparently me being on whole30 has zapped all creative juices, as evidenced by the title of this post. Straight forward, to the point. Nothing cutesie. So sorry for the lack of cutsie. Apparently that's not whole30 approved.

And yes, it's true. I completed day 6 of the Whole30 today. If you're not familiar with it, you can click HERE to get a more detailed run down of the program. For the record: I am not doing this program to lose weight (although, I won't complain if I shed a few, because if we're being honest, I ate a little too many cracklins and homemade toffee during Christmas in Louisiana). I really am doing this because I have a family history of autoimmune diseases, and as I have gotten older, I have had a few problems flare up. Nothing major, but enough to make me want to see if changing my diet will help alleviate symptoms without modern medicine. So here we sit. So far, it's not been too incredibly bad. Going into things, I had assumed that the coffee would be the hardest part; no dairy and no sugar make for sad lattes. But coconut milk added to black coffee seems to be doing the trick for me. Eating LARGE breakfasts has been an adjustment, as I'm not much of a breakfast eater and it's hard to go from a small bowl of granola to 2 eggs, a fruit, a veggie and a starch. I'm ready to be done with the first week and a half, which is when they really say you start feeling great from all of the changes.

One of the things that has been my saving grace when I wanted to just throw something because I couldn't eat an after dinner snack or I couldn't have my beloved Sonic drink, was that Netflix now has Friends. Y'all. I can't even contain my happiness. Drew was a bit on the begrudging side of things when he first heard that I was watching the series from start to finish. But after watching it with me the last two nights he casually remarked "this show brings you to your happy place." And I couldn't have said it better myself. Also, it's funny how a character you once thought was a little whacky (Phoebe) now makes you laugh the hardest. And I also want to have a party with throw back outfits to the Friends series... the shout outs to the 90s fashions is too much (and scary that a lot of it is coming back into style!).

And lastly, I needed to share with you my new invention to get my children to do anything I want: buy a Nintendo. No, seriously. The boys have been asking for the past few months if they could get a video game system. Drew and I drug our heels in saying yes because it seems to be a black hole that once you go down you can never return. However... the boys have diligently saved their birthday money and Christmas money and decided they'd pay for the system and extra controller. We happened to find a Wii Mini game set with Mario Kart (the mini is basically a dumbed down Wii-- it has no internet connectivity, so you can't play the games online, but that actually was appealing with 2 young kids) for under a hundred bucks, so we figured we'd let them go for it. The past two days the boys have literally done EVERYTHING that I have asked them to do (they have to complete all their chores before I allow them to play). Brayden's even cleaned out his lunch box during lunch for the first time all year... it's definitely a Christmas miracle!
After watching them both enjoy my parents Wii, we decided to allow them to spend their own money and purchase a Wii mini. #mboys2015
I texted this pic to Drew and he remarked at how happy it makes him that they have each other to grow up with... I couldn't agree more.

And that's how we've brought in the first week of the New Year. We've also welcomed in our normal routine which has been good for EVERYONE. All 3 of the boys thrive on having a schedule, so it's been nice to have structure back to our everyday lives. Although, I could really do without the bitter cold ;)

Here's to hoping for a warmer weekend....

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Monkeys, Tigers & Bears

Happy 2015! We're off to a decent start for the new year, and I'm even on day 2 of a new diet plan (whole 30) and haven't hurt anyone yet, so I feel like we're winning for the most part.

I thought I'd wrap up our last big event of 2014... a trip to the zoo.

When we had originally planned on going to Louisiana, the zoo was at the top of my list. The boys have only been to 2 zoos and they LOVE it and are constantly asking me when we can go back. Unfortunately, we don't really have a decent zoo close by, so whenever we travel to see my parents, I always try to sneak in some type of zoo/aquarium trip. Because my mom was sick, we had to rearrange our week, and since the zoo day fell on the day before we left Baton Rouge, we decided it'd be best if we just stuck to the Baton Rouge zoo. I was a little disappointed to not introduce the boys to the Audubon zoo, but realized that no one would be happy by the end of the day if we attempted it. Thankfully the Baton Rouge zoo didn't disappoint and was perfect for the phase of life that my kids are in right now.

When we first walked into the zoo the monkeys were going CRAZY. Tyler thought it was hilarious and would not quit smiling/laughing.
The next exhibit was the Tigers. Again, sheer glee from Tyler Paul. We even saw some Tiger cubs that were playing, and they kept running right up to the glass. The boys all thought it was awesome.
Gigi and Tyler, all caged up to be shipped off to the zoo!
Bless this poor peacock's heart. I hope it didn't go into cardiac arrest.
Tyler walked nearly the entire zoo trip. He did SO well, and watching him conquer the walking made me glad we stuck closer to home. He wouldn't have survived walking the Audubon.
Both of the bigger boys took turns pretending to be monkeys. Although, I'm not really sure why they were "pretending"... they're both closer to monkey than anything else! ha!
Connor loved the petting zoo the most out of the three boys.
we ended the trip with a ride on the train. Tyler was enchanted (he is OBSESSED with trains right now... I feel like it's a right of passage for almost 2 year old boys, as all of my boys have gone thru the Thomas phase around the two year old stage).
Connor wanted to ride on a bench all by himself. The need to feel big and grown up is real at 4 years old.

I was so grateful the weather held off the entire time we at the zoo and that it was relatively empty, which gave my boys more freedom to run around and not have a mom fearful of them getting lost in a crowd. It was the perfect ending to a pretty perfect trip, and a great way to end the year with fun memories.

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