FAT…why would you even use that word?

I am constantly learning and tweaking nutrition and tactics to support the healthy lifestyle my husband and I enjoy. It takes effort and time, but it is worth it. One of the reasons I work part time is to be able to do this for our family. Lifestyle decisions. My husband and I decided that a healthy lifestyle was a priority for us. We make choices to ensure we can keep it a reality. Weight management has much more to do with nutrition than activity level, and if you read my most recent post about the green cast, you will understand why I’m focused on nutrition again…

I’ve been intrigued by the potential health benefits a higher fat diet may support. After some research, I have come to believe increasing healthy fats in my diet may be key for keeping my weight under control as I age. But, there are many benefits from increasing the healthy fat intake.

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that I am not about extremes. Carbohydrates are important and must be included in a healthy and balanced diet. I am advocating swapping out some carbohydrates for healthy fats day to day. An important key is to swap and not just add healthy fats, here’s why. Fat has more calories per gram and while good for us, will = increased weight if not monitored. Just keeping it real, peeps! Daily caloric intake is like a bank account…choose how you spend it wisely.

Adding Fat on Purpose

Healthy-FatThere is always a “new” diet surfacing in the media. Foods have phases it seems and research about our nutrition needs continues to evolve. A healthy lifestyle includes tweaking and changing daily nutrition to best meet the needs of our body for that day. We don’t do the same thing each day, our activity varies, our hormones vacillate, our circumstances change, it makes sense then that our body’s needs will be different. When we know better, we do better, right?

Recently I’ve added more healthy fats into my diet. The initial draw was to add a new tool to the weight management toolbox. I am drawn to carbohydrates and love sweets, so the idea of swapping out some of that to curb cravings seemed like a wise move. Not easy, but wise none the less. I did the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet for 12 days to jump-start my new normal (and let’s be real, lose a few pounds). My nutrition goals, while trying the Keto Diet,  were to stay below 50 grams of carbs daily and have 70-75% of my diet come from fat. Maybe you’re asking, why 12 days? The answer is because that is all I could stand! I’m afraid I may have ruined myself on avocados for life. Not really, but I did take a break from them for several days after this experiment. The change was so big that I felt stifled & trapped which is not a good place for me in my head. These types of drastic changes can lead to binges and epic failure…noted. I knew I needed a new plan.

I learned a lot, though, and I’m very glad I did it. I learned that healthy fats really do minimize cravings and increase satiety. I learned that I can do hard things…for 12 days. I learned that there are carbs hiding in all sorts of places! For instance, sugar-free mints. Seriously? I learned that the low-fat way of eating is deeply ingrained in my mind. I was raised in the low-fat/carbs are good generation (Misguided mentality included “eat all the bagels you want, they are low-fat!”). The importance of accurate information, continued education, and adaptation cannot be overstated. All of this discovery led to conversations with my husband about what we wanted our diet to look like. We agreed that a more Mediterranean diet is best for us. This includes a larger portion of our calories coming from healthy fats. I shoot for a break down of about 45% Carbohydrates, 25% healthy fats, and 30% Protein. I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone for easy food tracking. Carbohydrates from mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein from lean meat, dairy,  and vegetables sources. Fats that are healthy for my body and without *trans fats. Oh…and wine. All things in moderation, right?

Quick lesson on dietary fat: *Trans fat is the fat that increases our bad cholesterol and decreases our good cholesterol. A diet high in trans fats leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are usually found in foods that are processed and have a good shelf life. When reading labels, look for “partially hydrogenated oil”. Baked goods, ready-to-grab snacks, chips, fried foods, refrigerated dough (think canned biscuits, pizza dough, etc) , non-dairy coffee creamers and stick margarine are common places that trans fats will be lurking. Monounsaturated fat is your friend. Look to increase this type of fat when adding fats to a healthy lifestyle.

We need healthy fats in our diet. Fat aids us in keeping healthy skin and hair, absorbing vitamins, reducing inflammation, supporting brain function, and blood clotting, just to highlight a few things. Our body uses fat for energy when carbohydrates, it’s #1 pick for energy, are limited. Therefore, by swapping out some of our carbohydrates for healthy fats, we can increase our fat burning on a day-to-day basis. Fats are a more concentrated source of energy with 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates and Proteins have 4 calories/gram. This is an important fact to keep forefront in your mind as you add fats into your diet. Portion size should be noted so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to do the right thing for your body, but instead pile on more pounds for it to carry around (track it, peeps, MyFitnessPal). It takes awareness and effort to live a healthy lifestyle. But here’s the deal: you get one life. One body. It is important to develop habits that promote health, not just weight loss. We are not just numbers on a scale, we are complex and valuable creations.

A recent joy in my life has been my grown children returning to more healthy nutrition by their own choices. We text and visit about easy menus and the importance of planning and my heart is so full. As I’ve grown, recovered from eating disorders, and learned about healthy living, while being their mom, they have been watching. The ripple effect of our eating habits is larger than we might believe. It is challenging to create healthy habits. It takes time and trial and error and a lot of getting up after falling down, but it is worth it. No one that you see that is fit and healthy woke up that way one day! It is a process for everyone and it begins with one choice. Adding choices up day after day leads to changes and results in feeling better emotionally, physically, and mentally.

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

The Story of the Green Cast

Once upon a time there was a young (yep, I said young…stop snickering) woman who loved to ride her bike. Actually she loved to be outside, period. She ran outside, worked in the yard, hung out in the pool, took her dog for walks, and planted flowers. A sun bunny to the max (with sunscreen and a hat, of course). This woman enjoyed being active, getting stuff done, and marking tasks off her to-do list. She walked fast, talked fast, drove fast, made decisions fast…I’m sure you get it. The bruises on her shins made the point clear that moving quickly was a priority over moving carefully.

While enjoying her bike ride one beautiful morning in May a battle between bike and sidewalk ensued with the sidewalk emerging as the clear winner. After checking to ensure her teeth were in their appropriate spots and holding pressure on her busted lip, she was able to ride home. I’ll clear a couple of things up right off the bat for you: No she was not on a mountain. No there was not a mountain lion chasing her. No she was not rushing to perform CPR on a choking child. She was just moving…fast. Bicycle fail. User error. #nooneelsetoblame

IMG_2187Cue green cast. After three rounds of negative x-rays and no perceived improvement of left wrist, the MRI finally showed the fractured wrist bones. A crack so hard to see had gotten this fast girl a place on the bench.  As the cast was applied, the reality of the doctor’s words pierced my heart, “expect a 3 month recovery”.  “Expect a 3 month recovery”.  He repeated it at least three times, my face must have shown my disbelief.  I’d love to say my attitude was great from the start. I wish I could report a positive mindset and trust in God to use this time to produce good things in my life, but I’d be lying. Instead, I stewed, felt guilty, denied my situation, and stomped my feet around a bit. I pouted and stressed. I felt anxious and disappointed. I felt bored and useless. I felt stupid. I felt sad. For a couple of weeks, not hours.

My response to the situation led to some introspection that was overdue. God didn’t judge me or tell me I was stupid for having an accident, and He didn’t want me to dwell on those emotions. He didn’t get frustrated with my pouting and struggling as I tried to resolve the feelings I was experiencing on my own, He was just there. I love God. He is my Father. I am a long time committed follower of Jesus who enjoys a precious, personal, and saving relationship with Him. I knew He was there, I just wasn’t ready to sit still with just Him. But He didn’t leave. Mentally I really struggled with being still, not accomplishing. I wanted to “do”. I would wake up and think, “What am I going to do today?” “What can I accomplish today?” “How can I fill this time?” I was a broken record. I knew I needed to be still with God, but I had forgotten how. It sounds simple, but just stopping and physically sitting still does not necessarily mean that you are emotionally or mentally still…do you get what I’m saying? Being truly still and receptive to His voice is a discipline that I had allowed to fade away.

It has taken several weeks, but I am getting the hang of it. The perks include peace, joy, and rest. Nice replacements for stress, guilt, and anxiety! As I stopped talking and trying to “do” the right thing, I was able to listen. I was surprised to realize the focus of my life had become my two-day a week nursing position. Two 12-hour shifts had become king. Not having them created a void that shocked and dumb-founded me, I was used to having 5 days off every week, why was this such a jolt? I didn’t think I was defining my life by my job until my job wasn’t part of the equation anymore. My job provided my purpose, my social outlet, my mental challenge, and my excuse to be a hermit when I wasn’t at work. My job is a blessing and I realize that so much more now than ever before! I miss my job, my friends, and my patients, but I needed to get my priorities back their appropriate places in order to serve them best. I am grateful for my broken wrist. Not because it is so fun to wear a cast in June in AZ, but because I am excited about this time to reset my daily living. Work will be a part of my life, not the hub. Christ is the center, the cornerstone of my foundation. When I tried to put other things there, I felt the instability and relationships suffered. God didn’t push me off my bike, as much as I’d like to blame someone other than admit my own error. But He creates beauty out of every situation I give to him, He promises to do that for all His kids. “For we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

If we set our pace by the world around us, we are not encouraged to be still or quiet. Rather, a hectic schedule and fast pace is equated with success and importance. Technology reigns and connects us to devices rather than people. It is so easy to get lost in the tasks and the “doing” and slip into auto-pilot mode. That lonely, empty place where we just function without much thought. A healthy lifestyle involves creating space for inactivity and rest. We all need space in our days to unplug and slow our roll. It has to be intentional or it won’t happen. We need time to process emotions and events in our lives. We need a time to slow our pace and hear about the people we share life with. We need to slow down to take care of ourselves and model this practice in front our kids. It is hard to carry on a conversation while you are sprinting…you know?

Here are some things I’ve been reminded of as I’ve been re-kindling my relationship with God and learning to be thankful for stillness and quiet. Be sill for just a moment and consider these thoughts:

  • We benefit from coming to grips with enjoying free time and not feeling guilty. We need hobbies and ways to unplug and decompress, they are not a waste of time.
  • We are not as important as we think we are. (Surprisingly, the staff at work continues to function even when I’m not able to be there…crazy, right?)
  • We can relax and learn when we stop taking ourselves so seriously.
  • Perfection is not the goal…pursuing it is a waste of time and energy. Choose to pursue realistic goals.
  • Relationships are what life is about. Accomplishing tasks, mastering skills, making money…all good things, but relationships are most important. Relationships require a time investment and a mental presence to grow.
  • A solid foundation is critical for resilience. A reset is possible when our foundation is solid. Pursuing a lifestyle that promotes mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health is a great place to begin.
  • We are going to fall. Getting up is optional. Get up.

Movement is a Gift

“Verbing”

Here is a quick activity to prepare you to read this post. Read through this list of verbs picturing a 3-year old child doing each one: jump, run, skip, hop, walk, crawl, bend, sway, swing, shake, twist, gallop, leap, roll, twirl, kick, tip-toe, stamp, grab, punch, pull, push, wiggle, catch, throw, dig, wave, climb, shuffle, creep, march, turn, dive, skate, dance, jog, and stomp.

As I did this exercise myself, by the end of the list I was giggling. I especially like wiggle and creep.  Little kids are so adorable and watching them move in almost any way is cute.

We were created to move. Expectant moms celebrate the movement of their children before they are even born. As babies develop into toddlers, movement is eagerly anticipated and even documented in baby books: first time to roll-over, crawling, pulling up on furniture, first step…and on and on. Movement is miraculous and wonderful. It is awe-inspiring to consider all that occurs, beginning from the cellular level and spreading throughout our body systems, just for us to be able to get up to answer the door!

jumpropeMovement, then, should not be taken for granted! We want to do all we can to protect this ability, strengthen our bodies, and live life to the fullest…right? Now picture yourself doing all the verbs in the above list! When was the last time you shuffled, twirled, or galloped?

Re-framing Exercise

I love and am inspired by hearing about all the various types of physical activity that you guys are involved in! Hiking, half-marathons, boot camps, walks for charities, running, biking, weight lifting, cross-fit…I could go on and on. So wonderful! If you are regularly out there making it happen just take a moment and tell yourself “good job, self!” You are celebrating your ability to move and giving yourself a much better shot at being able to keep moving!

It takes a lot of determination and lifestyle changing to create a dedicated work-out routine. If you are watching from the side-lines and wish you could get a routine going, it is time to make it happen! Every person that regularly works out, at some point had to start and then keep going.

Re-framing exercise in our minds can motivate us to get started or continue to challenge ourselves. Our perspective holds a lot of power. For instance, when I don’t feel like exercising, I think of someone that can’t. We all know of people that struggle with chronic pain or other health issues that limit their mobility. We know of those with acute disease processes or medical treatments that make physical exertion impossible. Maybe this sounds dramatic, but it is important to think about how blessed we are to be able to move around!

Over the past 3 years my Dad has gone through two back surgeries in an effort to alleviate intense and chronic back and leg pain and weakness. It has been a difficult journey for him physically but also emotionally and mentally. Traveling this road with him has changed my perspective on the ability to move and exercise. During this time, if I didn’t feel like running one day, I would do it for my dad. While I ran, I’d pray for him and text him when I got home to tell him “we” had been for a run. When I hurt and ache from exercise, I am motivated to stretch and keep working so that those aches don’t become debilitating. Yes, I want to look good, but my perspective has shifted away from that desire to a more big-picture point of view. Being healthy, fit, and strong are my goals for whatever circumstance I may find myself in.

Maybe you need to re-frame your views of exercise. If you make it a “should” it can cause you to feel pressure and that can give birth to rebellion. If you put unrealistic expectations on yourself, they can be discouraging and lead to destructive behaviors. Instead of looking at someone else and wishing you were them, create the life you want. My dad is back on the tennis courts 3 times a week now. He and my mom are working out at a gym a couple times a week. I am so very proud of them! He still has a lot of pain, but he has re-framed his attitude about exercise and decided what kind of life he wants! He is making forward strides in improving his mobility and decreasing his need for pain medication. He is being active with my mom which is an important show of commitment to her and a time of bonding for them.

Exercise is not just a “should”. Being able to be physically active is a gift. A gift that comes with a lot of perks: better sleep, improved memory, cognitive sharpness, stress relief, increased self-confidence, better time management, higher productivity, improved mood, reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure,  & stroke! On top of all that: strong muscles, endurance, less fat, and less stress on our joints and spine. Feel better, play hard, get moving. I think a big twirl and some marching might just be in order.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I made these muffins this morning and posted this picture on Facebook. A couple of people commented that they would like the recipe so I am posting it here on my blog. These have been a staple for Tom for breakfast for many years now. He also likes “Breakfast Brownies” which are chocolate zucchini muffins. I believe I have those posted on my blog somewhere, but I’ll re-post for your convenience.

I love to bake and I began making muffins instead of loaves of bread due to the built-in portion control they offer. It was just too easy to cut 1/3 of the loaf and justify in my mind that I had a “slice”of banana bread. HA! Please be sure to review the nutritional data, the information is calculated per muffin. These are made with whole wheat flour and oats which add fiber. Taking in fiber when carbohydrates are ingested slows down the impact on blood sugar levels. This leads to more stable blood sugar without spikes in insulin production. Our bodies then have more time to burn the carbohydrates before they are stored as fat. This is a good thing. If you have a muffin and one egg with coffee for breakfast, your day will be off to a great start!

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cup Oats
  • 1 TBSP. baking powder
  • 1 TBSP. baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Splenda/Stevia
  • 1 cup no sugar added applesauce
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 egg whites or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (may be omitted, nutritional info. below)
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then set aside
  3. Mix together Splenda, applesauce, milk, and egg whites until smooth
  4. Add in bananas
  5. Add dry ingredients into banana mixture and stir just until combined
  6. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. distribute batter into 24 muffin cups
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes
 Nutrition Facts
Servings 24.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 159
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g 6 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 9 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 25 mg 1 %
Potassium 170 mg 5 %
Total Carbohydrate 29 g 10 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Sugars 9 g
Protein 4 g 8 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 6 %
Calcium 4 %
Iron 6 %

 

Nutrition Facts (without chocolate chips)
Servings 24.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 112
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g 2 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 25 mg 1 %
Potassium 170 mg 5 %
Total Carbohydrate 23 g 8 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Sugars 4 g
Protein 4 g 8 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 6 %
Calcium 4 %
Iron 6 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Macros…Smackroes.

Lots of talk lately about macros. Maybe you feel silly because you don’t know what macros are or understand what they have to do with weight. I kept seeing IIFYM on blogs and social media and was clueless, so thankfully Goggle helped me out! (It stands for If It Fits Your Macros.) Macros is short for macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and fats used for fuel by the body. Many body builders count their macros to ensure that their intake of protein is sufficient to “make gains”. Athletes of all kinds have tweaked macro intake to “cut” or “bulk” or maximize performance. The reality is our bodies are complex machines that are built for survival. And just as an engine requires gasoline, oil, oxygen, and spark to purr…our bodies require different types of fuel to function properly.

There is nothing wrong with counting macros but you certainly don’t have to in order to be healthy or lose weight. The science continues to hold true that food intake – calories burned = weight lost or gained. If you eat 2500 calories everyday and only burn 1800 calories everyday, at the end of the year you are going to have added some pounds to your frame. Science.

Here’s how I keep it simple. I use My Fitness Pal to track my intake. There are many apps available that will track calories, macros, exercise, ovulation…you name it! The important thing is to track what you are taking in. Set some goals, pick your app, and get started.

My Fitness Pal allows custom goals to be entered. I work out regularly which includes strength training, so I set my daily macros at 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fats. I do not stress about these numbers. By setting these goals, I can make educated food choices that will give my body what it needs. For instance, if I’m feeling lethargic and I note that I had eggs (protein) for breakfast, and a Baby Bell mini cheese wheel (protein and fat) for a quick snack, it quickly becomes evident that some carbohydrates would be an excellent choice for a snack to perk myself up. My body is lethargic because it needs quick fuel. Carbohydrates are our body’s #1 choice for fuel. Cue an apple, banana, carrot sticks, or hummus with red peppers. This logical approach to eating helps me to think of my body as a machine needing fuel instead of a hot mess of emotions that just wants chocolate all day, all the time. It doesn’t always work, but I keep moving forward.

I also enter my weight and my desired weight into my customized goals. The app spits out an approximate daily calorie count for me to aim towards. This is not a detailed nutritional analysis like I would receive from a dietitian, but it is certainly a helpful guide and place to begin (and free)! Once I track my intake for a couple of weeks, if I’m not getting the results I want, I can look back and figure out where I need to make changes in my plan. Maybe I didn’t stick to my calorie count or eat many vegetables. If I look back over the previous weeks and see that most days I only logged breakfast…that is a clue, right? Weight management and living a healthy lifestyle are not going to just happen…we gotta commit and work at it every day.

Key Points:

Eat regularly. Remember your body is a machine built for survival. If many hours pass without fuel, it defaults into storage mode. This is why breakfast is important. You have fasted all night, it is time to tell your body that food is abundant and it can burn it, not store it. Shoot to eat every 3-4 hours while awake. This keeps your metabolism humming.

Track your intake. Eating a large meal every 3-4 hours will not result in too much of a good thing! Portion control is critical. Variety is so important as well. By tracking intake you can see if you are getting all the nutrients that you need. A balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is the goal.

Move! Walk, crawl, roll, jump…whatever works for you, but get your body moving. Strength training (lift those weights) is important for building muscle which keeps metabolism revved up and strengthens bones and joints. If you don’t own weights or belong to a gym, that’s alright! Get creative. Full water bottles work great as weights.

Plan for Success. Failure to plan = planning to fail, right? Plan your meals, take snacks when you run errands so that you aren’t tempted by those clever marketing tactics. One evening while the family watches TV, cut up veggies and wash fruit so that you have quick grabs that fit into your desired lifestyle. You have time, you just need to make healthy eating a priority for yourself (and your family).

AuntJodiIt is so great for me to write about all of this! It reminds me why I do what I do and encourages me to keep doing it! I don’t do what I want to every day. I don’t always eat nutritious foods or log my intake. But I’m trying. Blogging helps me to re-focus; I hope you are encouraged to create the life you really want too. Take good care of yourself, you are the only one that can be you!

 

 

 

Macros…Smackroes.

Lots of talk lately about macros. Maybe you feel silly because you don’t know what macros are or understand what they have to do with weight. I kept seeing IIFYM on blogs and social media and was clueless, so thankfully Goggle helped me out! (It stands for If It Fits Your Macros.) Macros is short for macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and fats used for fuel by the body. Many body builders count their macros to ensure that their intake of protein is sufficient to “make gains”. Athletes of all kinds have tweaked macro intake to “cut” or “bulk” or maximize performance. The reality is our bodies are complex machines that are built for survival. And just as an engine requires gasoline, oil, oxygen, and spark to purr…our bodies require different types of fuel to function properly.

There is nothing wrong with counting macros but you certainly don’t have to in order to be healthy or lose weight. The science continues to hold true that food intake – calories burned = weight lost or gained. If you eat 2500 calories everyday and only burn 1800 calories everyday, at the end of the year you are going to have added some pounds to your frame. Science.

Here’s how I keep it simple. I use My Fitness Pal to track my intake. There are many apps available that will track calories, macros, exercise, ovulation…you name it! The important thing is to track what you are taking in. Set some goals, pick your app, and get started.

My Fitness Pal allows custom goals to be entered. I work out regularly which includes strength training, so I set my daily macros at 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fats. I do not stress about these numbers. By setting these goals, I can make educated food choices that will give my body what it needs. For instance, if I’m feeling lethargic and I note that I had eggs (protein) for breakfast, and a Baby Bell mini cheese wheel (protein and fat) for a quick snack, it quickly becomes evident that some carbohydrates would be an excellent choice for a snack to perk myself up. My body is lethargic because it needs quick fuel. Carbohydrates are our body’s #1 choice for fuel. Cue an apple, banana, carrot sticks, or hummus with red peppers. This logical approach to eating helps me to think of my body as a machine needing fuel instead of a hot mess of emotions that just wants chocolate all day, all the time. It doesn’t always work, but I keep moving forward.

I also enter my weight and my desired weight into my customized goals. The app spits out an approximate daily calorie count for me to aim towards. This is not a detailed nutritional analysis like I would receive from a dietitian, but it is certainly a helpful guide and place to begin (and free)! Once I track my intake for a couple of weeks, if I’m not getting the results I want, I can look back and figure out where I need to make changes in my plan. Maybe I didn’t stick to my calorie count or eat many vegetables. If I look back over the previous weeks and see that most days I only logged breakfast…that is a clue, right? Weight management and living a healthy lifestyle are not going to just happen…we gotta commit and work at it every day.

Key Points:

Eat regularly. Remember your body is a machine built for survival. If many hours pass without fuel, it defaults into storage mode. This is why breakfast is important. You have fasted all night, it is time to tell your body that food is abundant and it can burn it, not store it. Shoot to eat every 3-4 hours while awake. This keeps your metabolism humming.

Track your intake. Eating a large meal every 3-4 hours will not result in too much of a good thing! Portion control is critical. Variety is so important as well. By tracking intake you can see if you are getting all the nutrients that you need. A balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is the goal.

Move! Walk, crawl, roll, jump…whatever works for you, but get your body moving. Strength training (lift those weights) is important for building muscle which keeps metabolism revved up and strengthens bones and joints. If you don’t own weights or belong to a gym, that’s alright! Get creative. Full water bottles work great as weights.

Plan for Success. Failure to plan = planning to fail, right? Plan your meals, take snacks when you run errands so that you aren’t tempted by those clever marketing tactics. One evening while the family watches TV, cut up veggies and wash fruit so that you have quick grabs that fit into your desired lifestyle. You have time, you just need to make healthy eating a priority for yourself (and your family).

AuntJodiIt is so great for me to write about all of this! It reminds me why I do what I do and encourages me to keep doing it! I don’t do what I want to every day. I don’t always eat nutritious foods or log my intake. But I’m trying. Blogging helps me to re-focus; I hope you are encouraged to create the life you really want too. Take good care of yourself, you are the only one that can be you!

 

 

 

The Grief Walk

Image result for griefAs a nurse, I experience many emotions with families that cross my path. The spectrum involved in one day can sometimes be dizzying and is often exhausting. The powerful emotions surrounding loss can easily overwhelm even the most veteran nurses when tragic loss arrives during a “normal” work day, unannounced and uninvited. A chaplain offers a prayer, nurses gather to cry and hug, and then the serving resumes. We proceed through our shifts and appear to be unscathed…but loss always leaves a mark, whether acknowledged or not. The grieving process is the healing process. As nurses we talk through our losses. We manage them alone at night while the rest of the world sleeps. The goal being to walk all the way through the grief and experience healing that can then ignite deeper compassion and nursing care that promotes true health and wellness for our patients as well as ourselves.

Our response to loss initiates an extensive ripple effect through our lives. It is worth acknowledging and discussing. I think people don’t understand how many losses are really experienced throughout life. Things that we may think are “just a part of life” create losses/wounds that need to be grieved. It is easier to disregard the impact of loss then to address the emotions of these difficult times. Left alone, these emotions destroy us. They build up and become distorted and impact us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. However, when we are willing to grieve and walk through the pain and out on the other side, we transform a gaping wound to a small scar. We can lift our heads and embrace a new normal.

So why have I brought up such an uplifting topic? My work allows me to see new life coming into the world every shift, and I wonder what lies ahead for these small miracles that have landed in this family called the human race. Hatred seems to be growing like a forest fire after a drought and I have to wonder…is this a ripple from grief and loss that have not been healed but rather passed down through generations? When the response to tragedy is finding someone to blame…a seed of hatred is planted. When the response to loss is jealousy of others who haven’t experienced that same loss…seeds of contempt and entitlement are planted. When the response to loss is isolation and self-pity…seeds of bitterness and resentment are planted. Destructive coping skills can impact families through generations and create deep chasms of pain in stone hearts. These hearts turn into nations imploding.

Loss is a given, but grieving and healing areImage result for grief choices and not mandatory. When we acknowledge our feelings and our grief, we are accepting the hurt and pain that come from the healing process. We must be vulnerable and welcome uncertainty and that is not in our comfort zone. However, the beauty is that as we journey, we grow and develop new skills. We meet others that reach back to aid us in our assent. And we stop the bleeding and heal. Then we can turn around and extend a hand to others with soft hearts and eyes filled with tenderness instead of hatred. I have walked a few roads that involved extreme loss and I have many scars. These times were dark, heavy, and oppressive. I would not want to experience them again. But the emotional stamina, faith, strength, confidence, hope, and clarity of thinking that I have today were all developed and nurtured during the grief walks of my life. Now, my scars offer common ground when others that are hurting. Ripples of empathy and non-judgmental kindness instead of hatred, bitterness, and pain are the result.

Take a moment and think about losses you have experienced. Some will be enormous, like loss of trust or control from an abusive situation or loss of a loved one or wayward child. Some may seem insignificant like the loss of a pet or a friend moving away. All loss leaves a mark. When kids move away we experience loss. When we retire there are losses to address. When loved ones pass and there are no answers, the loss is immense. We all experience loss and must choose our responses carefully.

I pray for you today as you read this blog. My journey has led me to a deep faith in God that sustains me each day. I know that He can be trusted and is my unwavering foundation of security no matter what losses come my way. Maybe I just lost you there. Maybe you have been hurt by something that happened to you at church or someone’s actions who said they were a Christian. I understand and I truly am sorry. My prayer is that you take it up with God. His shoulders are big enough and He can handle even the most rambunctious human heart. This is encouragement for healing, a hand reaching back, an acknowledgment of need. Please stop the bleeding and find rest and peace.

 

 

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

 

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