Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Diet" Is A Dirty Word!

    Well, hello there, happy eaters! I have had so many people ask me about my diet.  First of all, let me just say that in our house we don't use the term "diet."  Diet is one of those evil words that just gets people into trouble.  When you diet you cut out bad foods and eat healthy foods for a short period of time.  You get to a point where you can't stand it anymore and you binge.  It's not about dieting.  It's about a life style change. Secondly, I'm not posting this to brag, many have asked about the changes we have made in our diet and it's easier to write it in a blog than to share with each person individually. Thirdly, and quite possibly most important, I'm not judging anyone. It is not my mission to try and get others to eat better or exercise.  To each his own.  This is just a chapter in my story that I thought I'd share since so many have asked about it.

     In our house, Jacob took the lead in healthy eating last fall.  I informed him that I wasn't doing it until after Christmas because there is GOOD food around Christmastime and I didn't want to miss it.  He said, "Okay."  I enjoyed my unhealthy good food all December long and then in January it was time to get serious.  Since Jacob and I decided to make life style changes together it is much easier.  We rarely eat processed meats.  Sadly, things like bacon and deli meat are loaded with fat, salt and nitrates.  We eat meats high in protein but lower in fat--meats that are unprocessed.  We eat whole grain pasta instead of regular pasta. Bye bye white rice . . . hello whole grain rice.  We also said goodbye to salad dressings which are high in fat and calories and offer very little nutritional value. We no longer drink sodas or juice, with the exception of vegetable juice.  We go through 3 or 4 dozen eggs a week (protein, people). We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and we have cut out cheese.  GASP!  (Did I really just say that?)  Yes, cutting out cheese, which is full of fat AND cutting out salt was one of the healthier choices we made.  NOW, we DO eat cheese from time to time, maybe once every couple of weeks, but that's it.  We get our calcium and vitamin C from other dairy products as well as vegetables. We no longer eat chips or anything that is processed (with the exception of Goldfish crackers we give to our children, of course--I can no longer stand to eat them because they taste, well, processed).  We completely changed how we eat.  We still eat out from time to time and we'll grill burgers and have fries but not every week.  These changes have not only helped us to lose weight in a healthy way, given us more energy and made us feel healthier, but it has also brought us to a point where we can't stand processed food.  Yes, it's true.  We have become "those" people. It all just tastes weird now.  Even eating out isn't as fun as it once was because everything just tastes greasy or salty.  Jacob has been doing it since October and I have been doing it since January--it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change.  Those foods I just knew I'd miss?  Yeah, I don't miss them at all.

    Along with these healthier eating habits we exercise every day. I'm up by 5:30 and I exercise.   Cardio kickboxing, jumping rope, jumping jacks, chin ups, push ups, riding the exercise bike, lifting weights--it is a stress reliever and it helps wake me up before the day starts.  I now really enjoy it.  I mean, I feel healthier . . . what's not to love.  An added bonus is that our kids are learning to eat healthy and exercise through our example.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Think Happy Thoughts

“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert

      Our lives, our decisions, the very thread of our being are ruled by our emotions.  Too often the good emotions are overlooked and the negative emotions tend to control us.  When things are going well we tend to pay no attention to it; yet, when the sidewalk starts to crumble beneath our feet and the sky opens up with cold, sharp rocks of hail that sting with each forceful hit, we come to appreciate those happy times. We long for them.  We cry out and beg to have those sunshine filled days returned to us.  Life presents itself in cycles--waves of good and bad.  Each one taking it's turn--back and forth, back and forth.  We get knocked down and sometimes we feel overwhelmed as wave after wave hits us. Eventually, the waves seem to shrink and we can, once again, laugh and play in small, gentler (dare I say, "happy") waves. 

       This past year has hit my family with wave after wave. Good waves followed by bad waves--back and forth (and so goes the pattern).  We have been covered by waves of relief and happiness and then knocked down by waves of sadness and stress.  There were times when we just wanted to lean back, let the waves pull us under and give up. Life IS hard, but our negative emotions tend to make things seem even worse. Over the past year we have learned just how strong we really are. Kaitlyn had surgery and then had to have a second surgery to fix an issue with the first surgery. Jacob has lost two grandparents in the past year (well, a little over a year). Alex saw even more specialists and had some tests run by a neurologist. We received a diagnosis that we already (sort of) knew about, but it still stung when we got that phone call breathing life into our fears and concerns.  My body was feeling left out so it started having issues of it's own.  I had surgery, have been in and out of the hospital, have had many tests (with more on the way).  The medical stuff is stressful and tiring, then you get the news that everything looks okay and you breathe a sigh of relief.  The relief is short-lived when the bills start rolling in and you're struggling to budget everything in a way that will make it all work.  The list goes on and on. What a year it has been! 

      Waves of happiness exist in this scene as well. We have been met with so many good things: a new town filled with amazing new people who have accepted us as their own, befriended us, encouraged us, prayed for us, loved us, and helped us when we have needed it.  We watched Alex come to life, in a sense, over this past year. We had no rough mornings, no begging not to go to school.  We watched him thrive. We watched his personality grow and we watched him become more outgoing and more sure of himself.  I watched my husband thrive at a higher paying job at a bigger university. 

      The really cool thing I've learned is that you don't have to be a slave to your emotions (the bad ones in any case). Sure we have a ton of medical bills we're having to make payments on and money is tight. There is medical stuff going on and other things as well (such is life). It's a stressful situation and I could sit around and worry, make myself sick over it and just feel sorry for myself. What good does that do, though?  Every storm ends--things won't always be this way. but we have enough to make ends meet--enough to feed our kids.  All of our needs are met. We're healthy.  We have a roof over our heads.  We can pay our bills. Once we learn to see the positive OVER the negative, those sunshine filled days we have been longing for can come back.  

      Focus on those bright spots--big or small.  Sure, bad things happen, but let's not forget to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives! Elizabeth Gilbert said, "Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts . . . "  So, it's simple.  Think happy thoughts, people! ;)  Here's to happy lives!