Breaking Through The Fog

Surely I’m not the only one to feel the fog. That uncomfortable state of feeling unconnected to anyone, even yourself, and definitely God. You can’t remember the truths you always fall back on for comfort, and you can say the words but they don’t mean anything at the moment.

Some days you wake and the fog is not there; mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually you’re alive and awake with light feet, no dragging. Aren’t those the greatest days?

There was a voice in my head, and then a literal voice of a friend, saying to me like a lighthouse in the middle of this fog:

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith!” Jude :20

Yes! Truth my brain could grasp! There is something I can do while I wait this out!

Like when you have a cold or some other sickness that weakens your senses and resolve and enthusiasm for life, you build up your immune system. You do purposeful things to get strong again, to treat your body to some kindness and goodness and wellness. You take extra vitamin C, get extra sleep, eat extra veggies and fruit, stay hydrated with echinacea  or super triple antioxidant berry tea–whatever it is, you find ways to physically put into your body whatever it needs. Why does it need the extra TLC right now? Who knows! The stresses of life is probably a sufficient enough answer! It doesn’t matter WHY your body is a mess and needs the time of strengthening, it just does, and we do what we need to do.

The same is true for our spiritual nutrition, our spiritual immune system. The stresses of life want to take us down for the count! The enemy wants to take us down for the count! But we have a defense; we can build ourselves up in our most holy faith. We can surround ourselves with truth and hear it, say it, read it, sing it, gulp it down like a giant bottle of Emergen-C.

He takes care of the rest.

Do we feel better immediately after a dose of physical nutrition? Not necessarily. But it is doing something internally that will benefit us at a later date. The same thing goes with the Word, worship, prayer, putting on our armor, soaking. In the unseen, battles are being fought, faith is being built. We are reminding the enemy and ourselves that there is action we can take against the moods and stress and stuff of this temporal life when we choose to build ourselves up in our most holy faith.

Whether we wake up to fog or a brilliantly blue sky, we’re not a slave to whatever we wake up to. The grey does not own us. We have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3); we can choose today to fortify ourselves for tomorrow. And of course our efforts are only a small part of how we are reached by His goodness; He promises that every day His mercies are new (Lam. 3:23)!

May we, by His grace, commit ourselves to reaching forward and grasping them!

 

5 Things People With Chronic Illness Want You To Know

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For fourteen years, ever since my last couple of months living in Africa, I have struggled off and on with symptoms of chronic fatigue (undiagnosed by the traditional medical community) and a sleep disorder (diagnosed, but with nothing to be done about it.) I’ve tried to live as normal of a life as possible, and I sure am blessed! Abundantly! I’m a thankful and hopeful person, because of Christ in me, but that doesn’t change the fact that my body is constantly going through something I don’t understand. As I’ve landed back at square one, for the tenth time, I have some thoughts I’d like to share that may speak for others in this same difficult place, whether that’s chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, or other diagnosed/undiagnosed pain and health challenges that affect our daily lives and futures.

1. We want you to know we’re doing our best. That we are not lazy. That we are not undisciplined. That we did not bring this on ourselves. That we have studied. That we could write a research paper on what we’ve learned. That we’ve tried a lot of it. That it gets old to hope and try and not get better, but that we keep doing it anyway. That even though we feel miserable, we want to speak positively, but there’s a constant battle between the truth and complaining. That we constantly wonder if we are doing enough, learning enough, changing enough, to be well…while so many around us don’t have to do anything at all to get up feeling good in the morning. Sometimes people say things like, “Well, all you have to do is…”  or “Well, I eat this or that, and I never struggle with…” I have all kinds of patience for this because I AM THAT PERSON! I am the annoying advice giver that people have put up with for years. So I can handle it and it really is okay to offer advice. However, please know, if it were that easy, I wouldn’t be writing this blog at all. I’d be out training for a marathon with my friends or traveling to Nashville for a co-write instead of working through the feelings of a decade of health problems that all the basic cures haven’t touched.

2. We want you to know it hurts to see others affected by our challenges. Call it pride or whatever, but I just want to keep the boundaries of my suffering to myself. But that’s not possible. Those boundaries extend to my children, my husband, my friends, to commitments I’ve made that I can’t keep, to things I wanted to do that I can’t do. When I have to send my family to something, but I can’t go…when my limits like getting home early or not spending the night out of town are imposed on those I love…when a calling has to be set aside because God has not chosen to heal and provide the strength to serve…all painful (and confusing). So when others are affected by my limitations, I want to realize that God is doing a work in them at the same time He’s doing a work in me, and I can’t intervene and fix that anymore than I can get out of my own journey. Here is what our loved ones can do for us: trust God right alongside with us. For our healing, sure, but more than that!! Believe and help us believe that He’s writing our story just the same as He is writing yours, remind your heart and mine that He loves us right where we are, able or unable, sick or well! Know that (even though we don’t even remember this very well) we are not here to accomplish anything besides knowing the Lord and we can do that in a coma. That’s the truth! Everything past knowing Jesus is extra. So while in our flesh we hate to see people missing out on some things because of us, and we want you to know that’s a stress for us, ultimately that’s not our burden to bear. And our sickness is not your burden to bear.

3. We want you to know that we can’t do it all, but WE still don’t know that we can’t do it all. And this brings misunderstanding, and even guilt. Lately I realize I feel guilty for having any fun at all because every other day I’m canceling the thing I was supposed to have with one person, and then keeping my plans with someone else on the next. There are things on the calendar I have to do unless I’m contagious (which is never, because in that way, I’m healthy as a horse), then there are things that I would like to do if I feel well enough. Sadly, the things I have to do take up a large portion of any good hours I have! But I don’t know that until the moment is upon me. I have learned to prepare people that I may cancel at the last minute, which kills me slowly just so you know! It is not easy to predict how you will feel and make plans accordingly. My motto apparently has always been to keep pressing through the exhaustion, because I love being around people, I love singing, I love Sister Bridge, I love going overseas, I love children (especially mine!), and the list goes on. But pressing on and pushing through gets me to one place, eventually, and that place is none other than square one. Other people reach finish lines by pressing through. I reach breaking points that I can’t come back from for months.  I try to weigh out what the recovery time will be, how long I’ll be at that place, how crowded and crazy it could be (hello holidays), how much I could be inspired by being around those people or that activity, how much that group or thing goes along with my callings for this season of my life…these are all ways to find balance, but still, I feel guilty and wonder if people are going to say, “Well, if you could go to that, then you could have gone to this.” I genuinely don’t think its a matter of caring what people think of me, it’s more a matter of hurting someone who thinks I prioritized something or someone over them. (Which I have done and have no choice to continue to do.) We need grace and understanding about this calendar thing. We need people to mean it when they say, “Listen, you take care of yourself, you don’t have to do anything or be anywhere on my account. I am one person you don’t have to worry about pleasing, and I hope you have fun on your good days!”

4. We want you to know that we have no idea how much to tell you about what we’re facing, and we don’t really like talking about it, but sometimes we really need to anyway. We want you to know what’s going on with us. Not down to the details or anything, but everyone wants a few people to really know what’s going on. It’s awkward to talk about, because we don’t want to complain or always be sharing about ourselves or sound like we’re making excuses for not being something we wish we were or wish we could do. We know there are people going through much worse situations. We want to be careful to not turn inward and focus too much on our own stuff. We want to be transparent and let God work through our mess. But we also want to pretend it’s not even there, especially on days we aren’t feeling the weight of it, and that’s got to be confusing to those caring about us. On days we do feel the weight, we’re drowning, but you don’t know that the next day we’re swimming again just fine. You’re like “but I thought…???” Yeah, us too.

5. We are not schizophrenic, it’s just that every week, every day, and sometimes every hour is different. I could feel so clear minded and creative and rested for a couple of hours and then all of a sudden crash. I could wake up crashed and then suddenly feel awesome for no apparent reason. People always say, “Oh, I would have never known you struggled with this” and that’s because most people will only see me on the days or hours I am feeling okay. In those times, I am making plans and enjoying all of my senses and soaking in conversations and seeing my future stretched out ahead of me…Then too much of that happens and I’m grasping for hope that I can ever feel rested again. It’s totally weird, and you don’t have to understand. But it is real, and there is nothing I can do about it.

There’s more to say but I got only a few hours of sleep last night and my brain is super foggy.  My last word on this I hope just covers it all…

My husband, Jack, is pretty fabulous at accepting what I have gone through (and put him through) these past 14 years. I’ve heard him say to as he has officiated several weddings, “If your spouse says the sky they see is red, then you believe that to them the sky is red.” You don’t have to pretend to see a red sky or see a red sky yourself. You don’t have to get it at all, really. But you simply trust that what they are seeing through their eyes is real, period. Jack has had just a few days of tearful exhaustion in his whole entire life, but the man accepts without question or blame that the kind of tiredness I feel even after ridiculous amounts of sleep is mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically painful and deep. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m so thankful. I hope that that’s a gift we all are learning to give to people we love. Accepting them as they are. I fall short so terribly. Sometimes we have to learn how to love over and over again in life, and the first step to that is finding out where people really are and meeting them there. Not where you want them to be, but where they are.

Finding Peace and Purpose in Our Battles

I have been really silent for over a month. Not just on the blog, but in my home and my relationships. I’ve texted with some friends but have had days where I only said a few sentences. I just feel quiet, and my mind and heart are full of pause. They are also full of prayers.

Some friends I know and love have had loved ones pass onto eternity, as always, in a quick and shocking way.

Some other friends have had little ones in the hospital, hurting and scared.

Some have had surgeries, new medications, life on hold and upside down.

I have had an extremely hard time with fatigue through the summer, then the whole month of September was on the couch or bed due to an urgent health matter (which is healing and going to be fine).

Battles both literal and figurative raging around the world.

You can see why the pause, and why the prayers.

Here are some of my thoughts in the silence:

*There is peace in surrendering what we wanted the journey and outcome to be. If we can bow to Him, there is peace there in that humility.

In this wellness battle, I have peace because I know that I know that I know that God gives both the sunshine and the rain. He is sovereign over my life, every single aspect of it, from how I feel to the day I die. To me, any thing less than this would mean God is less powerful than the enemy, than the world, than me. I feel safe in God’s hands, and if He is not freaked out by the difficulties in our lives and the limits those difficulties put on us, then I won’t be either. I gave Him my life. This is where my talk meets my walk.

*He isn’t asking more of us than we can give.

In this past month, I also came to grips with the fact (again) that if God actually wants something out of me, He’s going to supply everything I need for that task or I am in no way required to do it. I tend to fill up my calendar with good things as soon as I feel well, then the sickness comes and I feel terrible in more than just physical ways…guilt, confusion, weariness, stress. The Lord is freeing me (again) to only serve with the strength He provides and take joy that my life and accomplishments belong to Him, not me, so how much or what I do isn’t really “mine” to worry about. It’s His. He’s slowing down the pace for me because I needed intervention in that! 

*Where do I place my trust? In my supplements and self-discipline?

Number One, I trust Jesus for my righteousness. I say that because I sometimes think, “If I was more perfect, if I was more disciplined, if God didn’t have to ‘teach me a lesson’ (I don’t believe that by the way)”, then I wouldn’t have this recurring health condition that seems to hinder my life.  False. Jesus alone covers me with righteousness and right standing with God. I don’t have to do extra, in fact, doing extra would nullify my faith in the work of Grace! May that never be so! I’m on God’s “good side” because of Jesus, period. Number Two, I trust the Holy Spirit for my power to produce fruit, because any good that comes from my life (sick OR well) is from Him. And Number Three, I trust my Father for my safety. In the palm of His hand, I can know nothing comes my way that He did not allow, and because He is good, I want what He wants. I’m all in with Him, all in. If I trust Him with my children, my future, my home in Heaven, I must trust that if He wanted things to be different in my body and life right here and now He would bring that desire to fruition! He’s my Abba.

*When I’ve done all that is in my power to do for wellness- in wisdom and knowledge, prayer and praise- I can rest and enjoy the life that has been given to me.

In our wellness battles, we always have things to be thankful for. Personally, I’m thankful I don’t have to work a full time job. I’m thankful I have a husband, precious and somewhat self-sufficient daughters ;),  a great church, and so many friends that I keep leaving people out accidentally when I’m asking for prayer support! I’m thankful I have a quiet home and a fairly simple life. I’m thankful that the ministries I’m involved in are not overwhelming but peaceful and completely powered by the Lord. Not being able or allowed to do the many other things I am saying no to actually open the door to things I forget are so important. Right now, that’s relationships. Sitting down for more than 5 minutes with people. Hearing God’s heart in prayer instead of running down a quick list. Do you know how hard it is for me to just sit still and snuggle with my kids? It’s a challenge, and I think that’s sad! While God allows this trial in my life, I pray that I learn how to do that and not let a day go by where I refuse that gift.

Someday the Lord will deliver us from our battles, in one way or another. That relief will be sweet. But until then, I want to make sure that I realize there is no waiting to live. His Presence, His will, His relationship with us, His daily mercies, the things and people He has put in our laps…that’s all NOW regardless of our various trials. There is no waiting to be in His will, waiting to be thankful, waiting to be free, waiting to live. It’s now or never!

Raising Healthy Kids…

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Hey friends!

If you are a mom of elementary age (and up) kiddos, I would love your ear…or I should eyes?…for a minute. 🙂 This is a sensitive topic but I have felt like I wanted to write about it for awhile. Maybe it’ll be helpful to someone out there.

Selah came to me the other day and said, “Mom, when we were at the pool, this girl in the bathroom was looking at herself in the mirror and she asked her mom if she thought she was fat. The mom said, ‘No, honey’ and the little girl said, ‘But I think I am…’ The mom replied, ‘Well…maybe we could change some things we eat?’ (in a non-committal tone). The little girl was crying, and it made me really sad.” She had tears in her eyes relaying this conversation to me…

And goodness, I could relate to that little girl! To a young girl, it’s all relative. Even if she is not overweight, if every child around her is petite, she feels big. And the fact is that these days, an overwhelming amount of kids actually are at an unhealthy weight and size. When a child starts worrying about this, everything they do is affected. Any failure or rejection they think has to do with their size, even though it has nothing to do with it at all. They feel less than others and that leads to unhealthy relationships as they go into puberty. No one should have to strive to feel equal with their peers, but I can tell you one thing: Most kids who struggle with their weight are in that unending predicament and most of them would really like help getting out.

As a parent, we may feel comfortable with how our bodies have turned out. We’re perhaps at peace with where we are…but we’re no longer in that super sensitive time of life and while our kids need to be taught and shown that looks are not what matters most, they live in a world where it does matter. And it isn’t just the emotional and psychological effects that matter here anyway. We are at an extreme disadvantage if we go into our 20’s with the extra baggage weighing on our systems and raising our risk of disease. It gets harder and harder to get healthy and fit as we get older!!

There’s not a magic solution, but here are some thoughts, if this resonates at all with you:

1-If your kids ask for help about weight, take it seriously. Listen with sensitivity, without over-reacting or glossing it over. Whether they are truly overweight or just going through a hormonal change that has brought on a few inches and pounds, let them know you care and will help. If they seem unaware or unworried about their weight but you sense a problem, I would keep those thoughts to myself, but still do the following…

2-Depending on your child’s personality, find a way to put physical activity as a higher priority in the schedule. If they are a little unmotivated or simply enjoy group goals more than individual goals, make family hikes and bike/scooter riding or team sports a part of your schedule at least 3 days a week. Make it fun! If they are the type that likes crossing off tasks or being alone, or there isn’t time in the family schedule for sports, they might enjoy an exercise routine that includes a video, or a place and time to walk or ride their bike alone.

3-It’s time to get smart and serious about nutrition. I wouldn’t make huge blanket announcements like “We shall never eat sugar again in this house!” (Learn from my mistakes, haha!) But I would cut certain foods out, replacing them with other foods without making a big deal of it. For example, my first changes would be cutting out things like full-fat dairy products, all products with wheat flour in them, and as many products as possible with sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients list. Instead, each meal and snack should be based on a protein (like eggs, all natural peanut butter or almond butter, raw nuts, low fat cheese, greek no-sugar added yogurt, meat) paired with a healthy carbohydrate for energy (think half of a plate of raw veggies and fruit, baked tortilla chips, 1/4 cup of brown rice or quinoa, rice cake). If this is the food you have in the house, this is the food they’ll eat, at least until they have the opportunity to drive themselves to the grocery! Yes, this will take more energy from you. I say with much love and kindness: Deal with it. 🙂 At the beginning of the week, chop up a large tupperware of veggies, buy several types of fruit (some that spoil quickly like berries and others that can hang out a while like apples), and buy a couple bags of raw nuts or seeds, put handfuls in baggies, and when you’re on the go or need a quick meal/snack, this is just as easy as chips or processed snacks all week long.

4-Save sweets for one family movie night or campout or get together per weekend. Let that gradually become the norm. Of course it’s better to make more nutritious sweets with ingredients like honey, coconut oil, dark chocolate or carob (look up Paleo desserts!) but my kids do have regular candy and wheat free cookies sometimes. They are allowed to eat what they want at parties and weddings…but they certainly know its a treat. We have told grandparents that they can have these kinds of things only on the weekends. There’s such a balance we pray to find–to not freak them out with rules and make them want to hide and binge, but to teach them a 90%/10% lifestyle. That just means that 90% of the time you do what you research to be genuinely best for your body and 10% of the time (like a couple meals a week at the most) you just don’t worry about it.

5-Be a good example: Not perfect, not obsessed, but making an effort in a balanced way. We have been entrusted as good stewards of these tents while we’re on earth. Our bodies are temporal, so that puts body image into perspective, but also knowing we have only one body to be God’s hands and feet in while we’re here brings another angle to that perspective.

It’s a sensitive topic even as an adult, so just imagine how our kids and teens feel. I hope this post will be helpful and give you a few ideas on how to assist your kids in making lifelong healthy choices.

 

Holistic Nutrition Bootcamp

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June 17, 18, & 19, 2014

7-8:30 pm each evening

I’ll be teaching a Holistic Nutrition Bootcamp at Coworking of Elizabethtown, KY (5 Public Square)!

This is a 3 evening event for people who are looking to improve their health through better nutrition! This year I became certified in Holistic Nutrition, and while I am by no means an expert, I have some insight and information to pass on. It helps me stay on track to share it! I will be teaching on both the heart and mind behind making changes for wellness (your motivation!) as well as the day to day details of it (your plan!)

I’m passionate about nutrition because of the difference all this information and changes have made in my life. I have a chronic illness and once I started on the therapies I will share in this class, I became functional again and truly believe that food and other lifestyle choices can make all the difference.

I want to live in all the fullness God has for me, and I want you to as well!

We’ll talk about:
“Green light” foods
“Red light” foods
Super foods
Antioxidants
Sample meal plans
Pairing proteins, carbs, fats for weight loss
Healthy fats
Warding off, even healing, diseases
Recipes
What sugar is doing to our bodies
Exercise
Breaking addictions

The cost of the 3 sessions is $40 per person, and will be collected in full at our first session. Hopefully everyone can come to all 3 sessions, but if not, the cost is the same regardless. 🙂 All funds will be going toward our adoption process.

Curbing Sugar Cravings

I’m thankful to say I have never used drugs or alcohol, but sugar (especially combined with wheat/flours) is powerfully addicting, too! In the same way that these dangerous substances can make a person feel like they have no power to stop using and consuming them, sugar has the same effect. You can hate yourself for sticking another cookie in your mouth, yet actually keep doing it. “Why are you hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself”, I hear Satan chanting! Realizing it’s addictive is an important step, and knowing also that sheer willpower isn’t enough for most people, is quite liberating.

So what are some things that help- some things beyond just knowing what you’re supposed to eat and not eat and hanging onto those facts for dear life? Here are some ideas that help me…most of the time 🙂 Also, before I get into this, I want to say that I think eating sweets with friends and family some times is a good thing. This post is for people like me who struggle with eating too much, or alone, or too often. So here we go, some choices that may PREVENT STRUGGLE and DEFEAT:

1) Prayer– Duh, right? But seriously, if you want to live in freedom from ANY addiction, you need God on your side…and He IS. But sometimes we need to stop, look up, and let ourselves sink into His presence. All of a sudden we realize we are not alone, and maybe He’ll even give us the presence of mind to see past the moment into the rewards that wait for making the right choice. Any goal we make for ourselves, any desire God has put in us for wisdom and freedom, will require starting each day asking Him for help and humbling acknowledging that when stressful events come, You will need His help.

2) Self-Talk– Take some time to think through the conversation that you have with yourself right before digging into something you didn’t plan on eating and wish you didn’t want. What are you saying? Is it “I deserve this” or “I’ll just have one”? Is it “I have no choice, it’s here, and I know myself well enough to know I’ll eat it eventually anyway” or “I’ve already messed up today so I may as well go ahead and have all I want”? Figure out what dumb lies you are feeding yourself  and have a response of truth! For example, if it’s “I’ve had a hard day, I deserve this”, your response would be: “What I really deserve is something that will make me feel great, a gift to my tired body, not something that will make me feel worse both physically and emotionally!” And then give yourself that–a hot bath, or pencil in movie night that night, or check off days on a calendar that you go without sweets and when you get to 30, go buy yourself something! Be kind to yourself…Snickers bars are NOT kind.

3) Breakfast: Don’t skip breakfast, ever, and make sure it is protein packed and very little carbs. I don’t even eat fruit at breakfast. Keeping the sugary taste out of my mouth is crucial to me in the morning.

4) No refined carbs: Breads, buns, tortilla chips, potato chips,  gluten free or not, will turn around and make you crave sugar. I think fruit, potatoes, brown/long grain rice, quinoa, etc are fine personally. They are unrefined carbs and I kinda feel like if God gave them to us, then they’re good…but I understand that’s up for debate! If those unrefined carbs make you crave sugar, then go for awhile without eating them and see how you feel. I genuinely don’t recommend going carb-free, but just having one or two small servings a day of unrefined carbs.  If you go carb-free, there are some physical repercussions to your kidneys and if you go back to carbs at some point, your weight will come back so quickly. 🙁

5) Exercise: Exercise makes you feel great; endorphins are sweet! And when you have exercised, you are less likely to “mess it up” with doing something bad for yourself like eating sweets!

6) Plan: For most people, they are not going to want to say, “I will never eat this or that again.” Maybe it’s a good idea to pick out some events and holidays that you will have sweets, and when you have cravings just remind yourself that you will have the chance to have your very favorites then. We are big kids…we can do the delayed gratification thing!

7) Sleep: Get plenty of sleep, friends!!! That gives us automatic presence of mind to not do, eat, and say thoughtless things. Also, the hormones that are excreted in large amounts when we’re tired are dangerously similar to hormones that make us feel hungry. We usually can’t feel the difference and consume extra calories when we really just needed sleep.

I am convinced that you have to personally believe the facts you have read about sugar to make a difference, and you have to make changes in your lifestyle to ward off disaster instead of always picking up the pieces! But no one can do it for you, it’s an internal thing…a change from the inside out, because you really want freedom and better health.

Let’s Journey as Well as we can!! That’s being a good steward of what we’ve been given!

 

Getting Started (On a Budget)

Once you have a bit of knowledge and believe it’s true, it’s time to get started. Some people make all their changes at once, usually because a health scare convinces them to! Others do it because that is their personality. But most of us need to realize it is okay to make changes gradually. It is silly to think “I cannot afford organic meat, fruit, and vegetables therefore I will continue to eat at McDonald’s and buy Little Debbies.” There is a middle ground. Also, there are rungs of the ladder. I have never been a McD’s and Little Debbies eater, thanks to my Mom, however I certainly wasn’t a quinoa and coconut oil eater either. Wherever we are on the ladder, at certain intervals in life we will learn more, believe more, and move up a rung. There’s no shame in being where you are. There are definitely some things I eat still that people ahead of me on this health path would cringe at…I am still learning.

I’d like to talk about  basic foods and meals you can start with that are whole, real, inexpensive foods. A couple things first:

*The hope is that eventually all the things in boxes and wrappers and fast food drive throughs would simply be crowded out, because like I wrote yesterday, these things eaten on a regular basis are making the systems of our body stressed to the point of pain and disease. As they are crowded out, you are feeling full and satisfied, your digestive system will be working better, and you just won’t have room for the other stuff. I am so thankful to report that a healthy fat at every meal/snack will make you feel better and more full that junk ever did…otherwise, I could not have done it. No reason to be hungry, folks! I just have to say it…”Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

*The foods I am going to mention are not completely unprocessed, because like I said I am coming from a place of middle ground. If I said you had to grind your own peanut butter and make your own almond milk, you would be done with it and I would, too. But it’s a step in the right direction, and each of us have to see which of these minimally processed items works for us and which do not.

At ALDI, my favorite grocery store and a genuine gift from God:

-Eggs (I eat two for breakfast. It is the only breakfast that makes me feel awesome until lunch! Eating eggs dropped my cholesterol like crazy, and the healthy fat/protein ratio is fantastic. Eat eggs!) You can have breakfast for one person for 6 days on $1.29!!!

-Oatmeal (Cheap and easy in the microwave! I add cinnamon, 1 tsp of honey, and frozen blueberries to the kids and they love it. I personally don’t like oatmeal, but its very good for you and I eat it when I have to.) There’s another breakfast you can have for one for about $2.00 a week.

-All natural PB- Eventually I will go to an even less processed type of PB but right now, this is what we do. It’s a good protein/fat combo and I eat a tablespoon of this for a midday snack with a piece of fruit a couple times a week. I think it’s a great, inexpensive thing to give to kids–smear 1 tbsp on apple slices–and their snack cost $.50 at the most.

-Raisins

-Spinach/lettuce/cucumbers/mushrooms/tomatoes/4 kinds of peppers/onions/potatoes/sweet potatoes/etc– The way I get my veggies in is I have a cup full of raw veggies at lunch and then a huge salad with at least 3 handfuls of spinach and other veggies/leaves at supper. I also put spinach or kale in my protein shake. Personally, I have no problem feeding my family white potatoes a couple times a week, if you were wondering. It is a starch so I would also have a green veggie with it, but sometimes they just need something like that to help them fill up.

-Fruit (organic or other)- I usually get 4-5 different types of fruit per week. I eat at least one piece a day at lunch or snack and the kids have at least 2. Produce can certainly add up, but if you aren’t buying snack cups of applesauce, fruit roll ups, etc anymore, you may find more room than you thought in the budget. I rarely leave Aldi’s having spent more than $65. When you eat fruit, have a protein and if possible a little fat with it, to keep your blood sugar stable.

-Chicken- I get a frozen bag with 8 breasts in it for about $6. It would be ideal to get organic but I’m not able to do that right now.

-Tilapia- Frozen bag, great price and so easy to cook.

-Soy or almond milk- These are minimally processed as well. Most people are not doing soy these days. I’ll talk more about that another day. These milks have the calcium and vitamin D of cow’s milk. In all my studies, I have simply found that cows and their milk have been so messed with (hormones, stimulants to make them produce more milk, pasteurization process killing the natural enzymes) that I choose to steer clear.  HA, I just re-read that, no pun intended! Our family isn’t completely dairy free, we just do not consume major quantities of it. This has helped sinus and digestive problems.

-Brown rice

-Bag of dry pinto beans

-Frozen berries

 

SAM’s (but this is not cheap, I don’t think):

-Bags of raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) I think these are a perfect protein and I have at least one serving a day at one of my mini-meals. It’s a great protein/healthy fat combo which we need to stay full!

-If you’re going to have dairy, try Fage Greek Yogurt

-They have frozen berries also (I love eating a bowl of these actually still frozen, it’s like ice cream!)

 

KROGER:

-Hormel -lunchmeat that is nitrate free. This is definitely processed and you can decide for yourself if you want to eat it. It’s a compromise that is sometimes necessary for my family.

-Almond butter

-Coconut oil

-Rice pasta, corn pasta, or quinoa (or you can get these at Bulk Food stores at a much better price!)-These along with brown rice are the only grain carbohydrates we eat. Some people do not eat corn in any way, shape, or form, you can study that for yourself if you care that much! 🙂

-Laura’s Lean Beef- This is where I get my high quality beef. It is NOT cheap, but we don’t eat beef that often.

***Yes, I go to three grocery stores plus I get a few things at the D&D but I usually only go to Sams, Kroger, and D&D once a month, while I go to Aldi every week. Also, there are definitely a few other items I pick up, too, like spaghetti sauce, canned beans, sausage every now and then, etc. We are not 100% purists. Where we are on the ladder right now is finding a place of balance. We have to learn and balance hunger, health, special food needs, and fun. I remember about four years ago throwing away anything in our house that had high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated soybean oil. A couple years ago, I looked for hidden sugars in everything and got rid of most of that, for example exchanging jam for fruit spread. Then one year ago, we threw away anything in our house that contained wheat (that’s another blog for another day). It’s going to keep progressing little by little.***

So…here are some meals with those foods!

Breakfast: Eggs or oatmeal

Lunch: Leftover meat or Hormel lunchmeat, fruit, raw veggies OR cheese, fruit, veggies  OR beans and rice in the crockpot and eat as leftovers with raw veggies

Snack: Peanut butter on an apple or banana OR a handful of nuts and carrots OR greek yogurt with frozen berries

Supper: A big salad; one carb besides the salad if you choose to, such as rice pasta, brown rice, sweet potato fries, white potato, quinoa; chicken, fish, or beef. You all can be a lot more creative than me, but we have a lot of taco salad, chicken in the crockpot, fish or beans with rice, hamburgers on lettuce leaves, soups and chilis, spaghetti, and a few casseroles.

Snack: frozen berries and nuts OR something small from the other meal ideas

There are certain dietary issues people have, and little picky eaters, but I think it’s just important to dig in and start doing what you CAN do. These are the foods available to my people, and they eat it! I realize it isn’t quite that simple for some, but the Lord will give you wisdom about your path for yourself and your family. I will say that if you can switch to 90% whole, real food you will see changes now and less disaster physically later…We have found that eating like this most of the time has taken care of our health issues and when we do have a splurge like birthday cake or pizza from a restaurant, we feel the difference. You don’t see what it’s doing until you get away from it. Then as you add it back in, you realize just how cruddy those foods made you feel.

Also, about the budget side of things–Having a large family (which we hope to have as time goes on) is a choice, and when we make that choice, the fact is the grocery bill is going to go up. It just is, no way around it! But I don’t think that means you can’t eat well. You may not get to eat out. You may not get to buy snack foods except for a movie night every now and then. But I really do believe that families can survive and thrive on whole, real foods. I think for an adult or older child (like 6+), each can eat on about $2-$3 a day. That is $60-$90 per older child/adult per month. I think that is a reasonable amount of money for our #1 physical need to be met!! Also, I promise that health problems, addiction to sugar, etc. are way more expensive in the long run. But again, change things at the pace you want to. Maybe get rid of cereal and do eggs or oatmeal. Maybe get rid of chips and cookies and offer fruit and nuts for snacks instead.

I have went ON AND ON AND ON but those of you who were asking for these details, I hope this blog post helped! Journey Well, Friends!

FOOD and Why It Matters

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It really is a wonder to me how I could go through life genuinely not realizing that the food I was eating was either healing me or killing me. I feel kind of dumb about it, but then again it wasn’t until the 80’s that the Surgeon General stated that food does indeed have an effect on disease! Before that, there were very few people believing in the correlation. Now, there are worlds of information out there…and so while I am not an expert, and simply studying holistic nutrition for greater health for myself, friends, and family, I would like to use this blog to share what I’m learning. I can at least share how far I’ve come even though there is so much road to travel up ahead, and I’ll be honest about those things I’m still figuring out.

But today I’d like to just write about food and why it matters to our health. Very simple concept, yet if we believed it what we put into our mouths most meals would drastically change. The first step in this change is knowledge and the next step is believing. The first step actually isn’t the grocery store or self control or accountability, those come later. The first step is wisdom and understanding and information…and believing it is true.

First, let’s define food. Food is comprised of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, fiber, or enzymes or a combination of several of these things. That’s food. God made it for our enjoyment, our energy, and for every system in our body to work correctly. When we do not feed ourselves well, and we think “a calorie of this is equal to a calorie of that”, we are eventually stressing every system of our body until it can no longer cope. That is when we see disease, disorders, and pain. Not every disease, disorder, and pain comes as a result of food…but many, many do. Doesn’t it make sense that every other system in our body is dependent on our digestive system working properly, that we are actually getting the nutrients absorbed that our systems rely on?

Second, let’s define processed foods. These are foods that have been messed with–when potatoes are fried and turned to chips, when sugar is added to yogurt, or when enzymes have been stripped from foods to make them last longer (whether that is done in farming or later). Almost anything on shelves, my friends, is processed. Even our dairy is processed unless you’re getting it from a local farm. We can’t all live on a farm and kill our own chickens, so there is obviously going to be some processing and handling of some of our foods, but I’m talking about foods where the back of the bag or box lists more ingredients than the food you actually think you’re eating. When we eat these things, we need to know we are not really eating much food at all and definitely not a lot of nutrients that our body requires. Call it a treat, call it a splurge, but honestly, we can’t call it food.

Processed foods as our main diet is causing: behavioral disorders, hyperactivity, learning disorders, headaches, fatigue, cancer, type II diabetes, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, and the list truly does go on. These foods aren’t just “neutral”, as if “I can eat these as long as I also eat nutritious foods.” No, it doesn’t work that way. They are acid forming, keeping your body in a state of constant stress and work to become alkaline again (just trust me, that’s important!) They make your blood sugar imbalanced, making your pancreas constantly push out insulin and then your adrenals constantly push out cortisol to balance the insulin. Cortisol keeps us up at night and makes us have a spare tire, friends!! No, thank you!! And no, thank you to insulin resistance either, because the next step after that is diabetes. Also, processed foods have been stripped of the enzymes that God put in them to help us digest those foods. A food without its partner enzyme is a very non-useful food inside our body! That’s sad when I think about all the money spent on health bars and processed so called ‘health food’. And one more thing about processed food is that they use nasty oils that get stuck in our arteries, refined sugar that makes us addicted, chemicals and dyes that should not even be smelled let alone consumed, and more sodium than could float a boat.

Third, let’s define real food or whole food. Real food is simple food, as close to the way God made it as possible. Eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, veggies & whole pieces of fruit (organic if you can), whole grains, and raw dairy. There’s more obviously, but those are the basics. Along with this real food definition I will say the more you can eat raw the better; in fact, I try for 1/2 my plate to be raw. Real food has the potential to heal our bodies, get our systems in good working order, and give us opportunity for energy, clarity, and the ability to serve those we love.

Today I focused on what processed foods are and what they do versus what real food is and what it can do for you. I’m out of time but later on I will go into detail about specific foods, where to buy them, how to be making the change. One thought I will leave you with is this: You do not have to change every meal, your whole diet, all at once. You may change what you have in the house for breakfast meals first…or you may focus on the evening meal being “clean”. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods Market and break the bank; you don’t have to go crazy on this. Some of the changes will be huge, some things you will realize you were already doing right!

Learn and believe…and you’re halfway there.

 

A New Year!

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I love the new year!! Even though winter isn’t my favorite time, I really love starting a new year of possibilities and ideas. My daughters will turn 9 and 6 this year; that I cannot believe!! My husband and I are going on an awesome trip, a gift from a loved one…a very loved one, haha! My best friend is having a baby. There are some other exciting things happening, too, that I’ll blog about in the months to come.

Along with the new year comes…drum roll…resolutions! I can’t say that I really have any resolutions this year, just some direction on what I want to make sure I focus on. And one of the things on my list of course is wellness. I lost 20 lbs in 2013 by going essentially wheat and sugar free, and I am so thankful! I want to keep that going, and possibly lose a few more.

I’ve been talking with people lately who would like to get started on a real-life plan such as what, by God’s grace, I did last year, and I have a few suggestions–nothing I haven’t blogged before, but here we go:

1-BASIC: Exercise 15 min a day. If I can’t get up and do it in the morning, I try to squeeze it in before dinner or even do yoga before bed. My favorite exercise is lifting weights, walking, and yoga. I think exercising almost every day is better than long hard workouts 3 x a week.

2-GETTING STARTED: Compile a list of why you’d want to go off of sugar and wheat. Do some research and see what it is doing to your body. Eventually, you’ll look at bread and think, “Hmm…white, puffy, I don’t want to look like that…or feel that heaviness in my tummy either.” There are dozens of reasons to go off this stuff but you have to find the ones that resonate with YOU. I don’t eat wheat because I know I can keep my weight steady by not eating, because when I got off of it I stopped having any acid reflux (within 6-8 weeks), and because my digestive system is so much happier, just believe me. I don’t eat sugar except on special preplanned occasions with friends and family because it steals my vitamins, overloads the work of my pancreas and adrenals, gives me infections, makes me want more and struggle with self control issues, makes me gain weight, puts a tire around my middle, and keeps me from living in the victory of health and clarity God has for me. Other people go off meat or dairy for these same reasons. How do these foods physically make you feel? You get to choose to stop eating them if you don’t like the way your body reacts! If you believe in your reasons, even if you mess up, you’ll keep going back to what is best for you. You have to take care of yourself!

3-HOW TO: Get an accountability partner or group, and tell them your intentions. Make a commitment to let them know when you went off track. Get junk out of your house. Have lots of good food you do like in the house, always have an alternative to fill the void of foods you are eliminating. Also, learn your triggers and try to work ways around them. Decide a date you can have what you want, for example a summer vacation. Chances are, after eating poorly for a day you will be craving how you were feeling before. One more thing, know those scripts you tell yourself, like, “Well, I may as well eat that, because I didn’t have time to exercise today anyway so it’s just a bad day overall” OR “I can have that because I worked out so hard” OR “I deserve this! I’m a free woman!” The fact is: Freedom is being in control of yourself and reaping the benefits.

 

How to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays, Part Two

Continued from yesterday…

6) If you have holiday events that will change up your normal eating schedule or normal healthy foods, I have two thoughts to help. One, have your meal on a dessert plate-get whatever you want, but other than vegetables and fruit, make it fit on a dessert plate. Two, wear a watch and do not eat any sooner than 3 hours later! Your waistband, blood sugar, digestion, and eventually the scale will thank you!

7) Desserts: What other time of year does one have peanut butter balls and derby pie? So, I myself will have some even though for the rest of the year I am pretty much dessert-free. Two thoughts about this that help me not go overboard anymore: One, have a dessert plate with a small sample of your favorite things. Two, do not take it home with you, and if you have no choice about that, plan to only eat the leftovers when others are sitting down to enjoy them as well. (Read: Do not scurry up to the fridge alone when everyone else has gone to bed…I say this as if I have experience on this matter…which I will humbly confirm!!)

8) I really recommend 15 minutes of exercise a day, even and especially through the holidays! It helps the immune system, and just think, if you are eating an extra few hundred calories every few days because of the rich holiday foods AND skipping your normal exercise, it’s compounding to a serious calorie overload your body is not used to. Keep up the exercise, and possibly add in a 10 min walk outside around dinnertime each evening, and that will really help with the extra servings your body isn’t used to.

9) Pace yourself and don’t “eat your feelings”. We need to let this season be the gift that it is, NOT the busy dizzy mess it can become of setting unrealistic expectations on our calendar and ourselves, and trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations others tend to put on us. I will say this truth to you and me both: We don’t HAVE to do anything at all to show and receive love this Christmas. We are enough and so are the people around us. WE get to choose what Christmas is all about TO US. If you find yourself stressed, keep to the eating and resting guidelines, and take a moment to really think  about WHY you’re cooking, dressing up, driving, preparing your home, etc. It’s about relationships and having a chance to show love and gratitude, not about perfection and pride and things that can be bought. When we get to the bottom of why we feel overwhelmed or unhappy, it’s amazing how quickly the desire to stuff our faces disappears.

10) Don’t allow this month to overshadow or rearrange the most important part of the day: Your time alone with Jesus! He wants to steady you, bless you, sing over you! He wants to nourish you and hold you close so you can hear His heartbeat now more than ever. There are hurting people around us-He wants to give us a word to sustain the weary! We need Him, whether we notice it or not amidst the constant noise and bustle, and our awareness of His Presence will be our peace and joy. He IS the peace and joy people speak of at Christmas, to ignore coming close to Him during this time only sets us up for disappointment at the end of the day.

So, God bless you–each and every one–and may you enjoy this holiday to the fullest!

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