Challenge Accepted

Some might say that a challenge presented by oneself doesn’t really count as an actual challenge.  Pffftt, I say.  It totally does count.  My challenge to myself is one of fitness and health.

Over the summer, while everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is trying to watch what they eat and keep their figures beach ready, I’ve been indulging.  My kids were home for the summer, and we had a couple of birthdays to celebrate.  With birthdays come cake, something that is not usually present in our home.  There was also the additional snacks in our home that I don’t usually keep here…everything from cheese sticks to graham crackers to pretzels.  Now, to be fair, we had our fair share of fruit and yogurt on hand as well, which was never turned down when offered as an alternative to some of the “sweeter” snacks (except by me…I am not a fan of yogurt despite my best efforts).  My husband was here for the summer too, which meant that we dined out frequently because some of his favorite indulgences aren’t available to him overseas.

In addition to my poor diet over the summer, my exercise became almost non-existent.  I was taking daily walks with my youngest each morning.  Those dissipated as soon as school was out.  My excuse was that I couldn’t leave all the kids here by themselves while I went out and walked.  Two of the kids would wake up at a decent hour, while the other two seemed to sleep half the morning away.  I would use the heat as an excuse as well…it was even too hot to go swimming out back!

My high-fat low-movement regime resulted in an extra 5 pounds that went straight to my mid-section.  Now that school is back in session and my husband is about to depart back to his job overseas, it’s time for me to get back on track.  My challenge to myself is to cut the fat and increase the activity level.  I joined a local gym a little over a week ago, and I had my orientation earlier this week.  Challenge Accepted!  The plan is to go to the gym Monday through Friday-every day.  Five days a week, one hour each day. This seems like quite a challenge, especially each morning when I wake up and think to myself how tired I am, how good it feels to just lay in the bed, there’s always tomorrow…yadda yadda yadda.  Then, I force myself to get up, get dressed, and just do it.  Who knows?  Maybe this challenge will lead to a greater challenge later on…can you say Triathlon?

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It’s ok to be a food snob

The word “snob” has such negative connotations, but when it comes to food, there’s nothing wrong with being one.  It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t so particular about what I put into my mouth.  Although I didn’t eat fast food often, I did eat it.  Wendy’s, Burger King, occasionally McDonalds, and sometimes Arby’s.  Usually, I would deeply regret my choice immediately after I ate.  I would always tell people that it’s not that I didn’t like the food, the food just didn’t like ME!  It only takes a few times of abusing your body and having it reject those foods before you surrender to your body and stop feeding it junk.    While for many people, fast food is convenient, cheap, and highly accessible, diets that consist of alot of fast food are killing us.

In the last several months, I started buying meat that was considered “humane”.  Free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, cage free eggs.  I’ve also started buying as much organic local produce as I can at local farmers markets, and getting the rest from the “organic” section at my neighborhood grocery store.  Where I live, I’m fortunate in that the grocery stores have a large variety of organic items to choose from.  I’ve scoped out the farmer’s markets in the area, and even looked into joining a CSA (it’s just the driving distance on a weekly basis is a bit far for me to commit to at the moment).

The Single Wife has written about Clean Eating a few times on her blog.  I love reading all her posts, but its the ones about food that really got me thinking.  Skip the processed foods.  If you can’t look at the ingredients and pronounce them, there is a problem!  The more we get back to eating natural foods instead of GMO’s, the healthier we will be.  If you haven’t seen it yet, Food, Inc. will make you think twice about what you’re feeding yourself and your family.

Last week, I took my kids to Panera for lunch.  We checked out the menu online (I go there frequently, but the kids had no clue what they had) so they could be prepared when we got there.  Two of them chose the kids PB&J, and the other wanted grilled cheese.  The kids meals are served with an organic squeezable yogurt, and they have plenty of other things to drink besides soda.  Organic milk, lemonade, water, smoothies, or juice.  I was pleasantly surprised when they ALL agreed that the food was delicious and tasted better than…McDonalds!  Wow!  In fact, they have been surprising me  all summer.  They have been eating more fruit than I can keep in the house.  I buy apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, watermelon, grapes…they eat it all.  There are some days that I have to tell them “No” because I’m afraid they’re going to overeat.  One night at dinner I made some free-range grilled chicken, salad, fresh steamed broccoli and brown rice.  They came back 2 and 3 times for more.  This just proves that kids do like good, wholesome food.  They don’t have to always have chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers and pizza.  Do I treat my kids to the occasional cookie or ice cream?  Sure I do.  Do I allow myself those same things from time to time?  Of course.  However, those are looked upon as “treats”, not as a part of our everyday diet.  As an alternative to those “treats”, I buy them organic yogurt.  These are the one thing that I have TRIED to develop a taste for, but no matter what brand or flavor I try, I just can’t like it.  However, the kids all love it.  Stonyfield makes a really delicious yogurt and the kids love the Blueberry, Peach and Banana flavors.

What are some of your favorite clean foods?

Sometimes we all need a swift kick in the…

…well, you know.  I certainly can benefit from time to time.  A prime example is my lack of discipline when it comes to exercise.  I was doing great for a while, back before it got REALLY freaking hot outside.  However, all I was doing was walking.  I continued to make up excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t just try to jog a little bit.

I’m nursing, so I don’t want to burn TOO many calories…then my milk might dry up. (Which is totally an excuse, and I’m sure my body would cue me in to the fact that I needed to consume more calories.)
I might get out of breath and sweat…(Duh, that’s KIND of the point, right?)
I’ll try it tomorrow…(I am the QUEEN of procrastination…just ask anyone.)

Now that my husband is back in town, and on an exercise kick of his own after taking a much needed sabbatical from his routine when he came back to the U.S., he is my personal trainer.  Every morning he coaxes me out of bed in the morning so we can go for a “walk”.   Granted, he doesn’t make me get up before the roosters do, but it’s still at a time of day where I’d rather be lying in bed snuggling with Tristan or having my first cup of coffee for the day.

We start out with a leisurely walk, and progress to my husband challenging me to jog “from here to the stop sign” or “from here to the next street”.  The first day I got a little cocky.  I told him, “I can run farther than that stop sign”.  BIG MISTAKE.  Since I made it seem so easy, he pushed me a little harder the next time.  It’s like that game you played as a kid called “Mercy”.  I submit, Mercy!!  

In the evenings, after my husband comes home from work and finishes his workout at the gym, we go for another “walk”.  Strangely enough, these “walks” are becoming more “jogging” than “walking”.  When I tell him that I can’t go any farther, he encourages me.  He doesn’t yell at me, or make fun of me, or make any negative comments.  Instead, he just continues to be positive, tell me that I CAN do it, and gives me a gentle, yet, swift, kick in my rear.  I love him for it.  He needs to hear this, because typically I am protesting the entire time.

These “walks” together give us a chance to reconnect at the end of the day without cell phones, email, Facebook, work, and even Tristan from interrupting us.  We can talk about the things that are on our minds, our goals for the future, our plans for the weekend, etc. while we walk side by side, pointing out homes that catch our eyes, landscaping designs that look awesome, and some yards that are not so awesome.  Tristan is content to go along for the ride in his BOB stroller, so long as the sun isn’t right in his eyes.

After it’s all said and done, there is another reward besides the quality time with one another.  Fitting back into pre-pregnancy clothes is one of them, and I experienced that reward today!  Maybe this jogging thing isn’t so bad after all!

Seriously Sarah? Shut up!

I read something this morning that really disappointed me.

‘”It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you better breastfeed your baby-yeah, you better-because the price of milk is so high right now!” Palin allegedly said.’ (http://www.sify.com/news/sarah-palin-s-breastfeeding-joke-backfires-news-international-lctp4cieabg.html)
Ummm….I thought Sarah was supposed to be this crunchy mama bear from Alaska?   Besides, everybody knows that babies under a year wouldn’t be drinking cow’s milk if they weren’t breastfed…they’d be drinking formula!

I certainly think that the recent announcements that nursing supplies and breastpumps will be tax deductible is awesome!  While it doesn’t help me in any way (since your medical deductions have to total at least 7.5% of your income before you can actually deduct them and we don’t participate in an FSA), I know that this might help another mom who is going back to work and will be able to express milk for her baby.   I am certainly pleased with Mrs. Obama’s voice in this arena, speaking out against childhood obesity, and breastfeeding as a means to correct it.  I think that breastfeeding is just the beginning when it comes to combating childhood obesity.  The federal food program for childcare centers, and the school lunch programs need some serious help too.  That’s an entirely other issue that I can’t even begin to discuss because it gets me sooooo angry!  I absolutely HATE that I have no control over what my kids are fed (not because they eat at school, but because of who they live with).  However, I do teach them when they’re with me about proper nutrition.  I tell them what choices are good versus bad.  I totally regret the day I took them to McDonalds for the first time.  I can assure you I will not make that mistake with my youngest!  Like I said…I could go on and on and on, but that’s not what this is supposed to be about.  This is about breastfeeding.  I’m so fortunate that I can do this for my kids, as I know there are women who are unable to.  There are also women who just flat out choose NOT to.  Well, that is their prerogative.  I just cannot fathom spending thousands of dollars to feed my child a synthetic substitute for what God gave me.

I know this is somewhat controversial, and I’m really not sure why it is, but…go ahead and fire away!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!