My Cape

About 5 years ago, not long after giving birth to my first child, I joined a breastfeeding support group that played a huge role in surviving my first months –and years– of being a mom.  There was a small group of us that ended up forming a playgroup.  As our kids got older and welcomed new siblings, we’ve stuck together, celebrating our ups together and encouraging one another during our downs.  This past month, the youngest member of the group turned 2 and for the first time in 5 years, none of us are in need of a nursing cover.

Last fall, one of the moms challenged the group to do the Hershey 10K together.  I couldn’t commit right away because I knew that my husband and I wanted to go for baby number 3 so I had to play it by ear.  Then, the miscarriage happened (you can read about it here).  I decided to sign up for the race even though I planned to get pregnant again right away and figured that if I was in my first trimester and training, I would just do the best I could with the energy I had.  It turns out that I didn’t get pregnant, but having something to train for and work towards was a good distraction for me…something to be excited about amidst the monthly disappointments that came my way.

Here’s the thing: a 10K (6.2 miles) might not be that big of a deal to some of you runners out there who have done marathons, but for me–someone who’s never wanted or needed to run more than 5 miles–it was an accomplishment.  Not only was it a personal accomplishment after going through a miscarriage and turning 30* in the same year, but it was a unique thing for this group of moms to do together…something that seemed so un-achievable 5 years ago (because seriously, trying to run while having an infant was not happening for me–and please enlighten yourself and read about why here).

After I crossed the finish line my daughter said to me, “Mommy, you were fast!”  I am so thankful that she was naive enough to speak that statement with such conviction, but all that mattered in that moment was that she just saw her mom accomplish something that was hard…emotionally and physically.  What was once my nursing cover has now become my supermom cape.  Running the mom race is hard, but it is worth all the sweat, tears, and sacrifice.

 

*I am actually 31 now, but being 30 was significant because when I turned 30 in 2015, I wanted to challenge myself in a new way.  I achieved that goal before the race by running my fastest 3 miles (on my own time) and also by running the farthest I had ever run (6 miles during training).  Thankfully, it happened while I was still 30 so I didn’t let myself down 🙂

Losing Weight: How To Do It

I recently talked with a few people who have lost weight in the past year.  Here is the first thing I learned about losing weight:  it’s hard work.  No matter what method you use, whether it’s a diet plan, an intense exercise regimen, or stomach surgery, there is no easy way to do it.  Therefore, if you are looking for the magic formula that will help you lose weight in a snap, you won’t find it on this blog.

One of the things that I loved about the women that I talked to was that their goal was health.  Their motivations weren’t superficial or to simply look better, but they wanted to improve the quality of their lives and avoid the diseases that were threatening their ability to live well.  Here are 3 things to consider when trying to lose weight:

  • Retrain Your Brain.  When it comes to food, one of the things that each of the women said was that they had to look closely at what they were eating and have a period of strict structure to reteach the brain and the body how to eat appropriately for their body.  I have never been a fan of diets (because if you go on them, then you’ll likely go off them), but always have encouraged healthy eating habits–a lifestyle that is more consistent than dieting.  Many people who need to lose weight don’t have eating habits that work well for what their body’s needs are, so there needs to be a period of retraining the brain and body to learn what is best for them.  Each of the women sought the help of a professional in this area, and I would recommend doing that as well if you are trying to lose weight in a healthy way.  If you are local and need some recommendations, I would be happy to give them to you.
  • Rework Your Body Composition.  If you want to lose 1 pound, there needs to be a 3,500 calorie deficit.  This ends up meaning that you need to burn 500 more calories a day than you are taking in if you want to lose 1 pound in a week.  That is the very basic science behind weight loss, but your body has this thing called metabolism that can throw off the numbers.  Metabolism refers to what goes on chemically inside your body to keep it going.  The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest.  Therefore, one of the best ways to improve your metabolism is to exercise.  Add muscle to your body and improve your aerobic capacity, and you are on your way to healthy living.  Talk to your doctor about this or find a fitness professional if you need help, but start by just moving your body more in the meantime.
  • Reconsider Your Options.  Have you talked to the doctor about all your options?  Have you thought about if there is an emotional, spiritual, genetic, or health issue behind your weight gain or your inability to lose weight?  The success behind the women I talked to has a lot to do with addressing these issues.  There is a time when weight loss surgery might be the right option and there is a time when one needs to realize that their heart and mind is not a healthy place.  I would recommend talking to close friends and family, or someone you trust, to help sort these things out.

Losing weight can be hard stuff.  A lot of work goes into this process, and the best results come when the whole person is addressed: body, mind, and spirit.  Find someone to help you, and feel free to ask me questions if you have them.

If you find yourself interacting with someone who has recently lost weight and you don’t know what to say, check out my previous post Losing Weight: What Not To Say.

 

Losing Weight: What Not To Say

This is the first of a series of posts on weight loss.

My friend posted something on Facebook about how she’d lost 100 lbs.  Crap.  I knew she was losing weight but I didn’t say anything.  I see her every week, but all of the sudden, it was 100 lbs later and still I hadn’t said anything–it seemed too late by then!  What was I to say?  I didn’t want to say something that is actually hurtful when I was trying to be encouraging.  Is it bad to encourage someone when losing weight, because would that come across as implying that they had needed to?  This is just a small glimpse into my complicated brain.

Right now our culture makes a big deal about body-shaming, so it is hard to know how to talk about the body and how to encourage healthiness while also encouraging satisfaction with how God made you.  What is the right way to talk to someone who’s lost a lot of weight?  Or barely any weight at all?  Or is dealing with baby weight?

Here’s where I am coming from:  about 10-15 years ago I struggled to be happy with what I weighed.  I was healthy and athletic, but not happy.  People would make comments from time to time like, “You look great!” and follow up with “Have you lost weight?” and I was all thrown off.  Did that mean that the 5 lb fluctuation that I cycled through was actually noticeable and people only thought I looked great when I was on the low end of that fluctuation?  I learned quickly to not say anything to anyone about their weight, because I knew what those comments did to my mental state as someone who struggled with my body image.

But am I right to never say anything?   It felt awkward and wrong to have never said something to encourage my friend who had worked  hard to lose over 100 lbs!  I decided it’s time to write about it, because I can’t be the only one who struggles with what to say or not say in these situations.  I want my friends to feel loved and encouraged when it comes to healthy living, not judged or ignored.  I also want to encourage healthy dialogue on this subject and help people to understand when their comments might be hurtful and best kept to themselves.
Here are some thoughts on when to say something and when not to:
1) What is their age? If the person you are talking to is young…say school-aged or college, be so very careful when saying anything about weight. This time of life is so hard and these young people are so impressionable. Ultimately, their body is their own and they will have to figure out how to make choices that are healthy. Young girls will gain weight!  It is a healthy part of how God made the body to prepare for birthing babies one day.  Sometimes, their thought process is not rational or mature when it comes to weight and body image, and their bodies are changing rapidly–tread lightly in conversations with young people that revolve around weight and body.
2) What is their status? Is it someone who was obese and has finally entered the healthy range? That is exciting!! Congratulate them on it.  Those I talked to in this category always were encouraged by kind comments and recognition.  Is it someone who is already healthy and is losing more weight? Maybe it’s not your business to comment, or maybe it is. Just think before you speak.
3) How well do you know this person? Are you close or do you only see them on Facebook and don’t really have much of a relationship with them? This is a big factor. According to the people I talked to, it hurt when someone would ask hard, personal questions and there really was not much of a relationship that was already established. If it’s someone you are close to, I think it is healthy to be able to talk about the big things that are going on in each other’s lives, but please be sensitive.

4) Did they just have a baby?  We all know that pregnant women gain weight.  It is natural and should be acceptable.  The rate at which they lose weight after the baby is born varies from person to person.  Please be sensitive in comments about weight to pregnant moms or new moms.  I once had an older man say to me that I was “getting fat” while I was pregnant.  I gave him a pass because he was in his eighties, but if you are reading this, you don’t get a pass.  Here is an interesting read on weight gain during pregnancy.
5) What are your intentions? I think this is the biggest, most important thing to consider before saying anything. Examine your heart. Are you jealous? Are you critical? Are you happy for them? Are you kind? If you find bitterness or jealously behind your words, it’s best to not say anything (and maybe consider working through your own issues first). If you have a genuine concern that is rooted in love, then speak gently.  If you are happy for the person and care about their well-being, that sentiment will likely shine through in your words.

It was an honor to talk with a few people who have recently lost weight.  Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts, insights, and wisdom on weight loss from their perspective.

5 Faves for the Face

What you feed your body is important.  What you put on and rub into your biggest organ (the skin) is important too.  That’s why I am careful about the things that I use on my face, especially the products that I use every day. Here are my five favorite face products:

  • Dickinson’s Witch Hazel–I use this to take off my make-up every night.  It’s easy and it has a 1 rating from the Environmental Working Group, which is the best you can get for safety.                                                                                                        Dickinson Brands, Original Witch Hazel, Pore Perfecting Toner, 16 fl oz (473 ml)
  • Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Mascara–My eyes have always been sensitive, so I sought something that wouldn’t irritate them.  Also, I don’t really want toxic chemicals going into my eyeballs…no matter how much it makes my lashes curl.  This mascara also has a 1 rating from the EWG.                                         Organic wear® 100% Natural Origin Jumbo Lash Mascara
  • Physician’s Formula Super CC cream–I love an all-in-one coverage cream, which is what makes this product easy for every day.  I also have used and like this brand’s Organic Wear BB cream.  Super CC Color-Correction + Care CC Cream SPF 30
  • Honest Beauty Lip Crayon–I don’t always put things on my lips because I don’t like the feel, taste, and the thought of practically eating make-up.  When I do, I like this product most and trust The Honest Company as they have the “Honestly Free Guarantee”, which means their products are made without parabens, paraffins, formaldehyde carriers, PEGs, steareth‐n, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, petrolatum, mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, or dyes.                      
  • Honest Beauty Younger Face Deep Hydration Cream–Again, I love this brand and when I turned 30, I figured it was time to use a moisturizer that helps fight the inevitable aging process.  You can purchase a bundle with this company, which saves money on the products you buy.                                                                            

If you aren’t sure about what you are putting on your face, check the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database, which is a good guide to seeing how hazardous or how safe personal care products are.  On their website they have the tag line “Smarter Choices, Healthier Living.”  They also have a great app that helps you out when shopping.  If you are looking to start making changes to your beauty regimen, I would recommend starting with the things you use every day.  These are my 5 faves, and I would love to hear about what yours are!

Heart, Feet, Womb

It was a Sunday afternoon.  I decided that I should go for a run to shake the funky feeling I’d been having in my feet for the past couple weeks.  A little exercise usually helped when I was feeling weird…there’s something therapeutic about getting the heart rate up.  However, it was on that run that I knew something was wrong.

I felt horrible.  I mean, I-could-barely-make-it-a-mile horrible.  I knew my heart was in better shape than that.  Something had been up with my feet, but this horrible feeling was in my whole body.  Later that night, I decided I needed to take a test to tell me what I already assumed.  I usually keep a few dollar store tests on hand just in case, so I took one…during the commercials of our Sunday night show.  The show was starting so I went back to watching and figured I would check at the next commercial break.

When I checked back, it was as I expected it would be: negative.  I was about to throw it out when I saw it: the faintest blue line, so light that I thought maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me.  Hmmm…not possible.  I just finished my period so it was. not. possible.  You don’t get your period when your pregnant; I learned that in health class 101.  It was a dollar store test, so I dismissed it and figured it was not accurate.  After reading the instructions again I decided that I probably let it sit too long.  I mentioned it in passing to Mike and we continued watching our show.

The next morning I took three more tests and they were all positive.  What?!  This time I even splurged on the more expensive kind–the kind that tell you 5 days early.  I just had my period so I shouldn’t be getting positive tests, but these tests don’t lie — I was pregnant!  My heart leaped and I hoped that maybe all would be ok…maybe it was just a rocky start?

The following week and a half was rough.  Lots of blood work and lots of uncertainty.   My heart was anxious over the thought of a possible miscarriage.  I knew lots of women have had them, but I didn’t think I would ever be one of them.  I was healthy and I already had two successful pregnancies so this was unexpected.  I still had hope, but I was preparing my heart for it to be broken.

And it was.  I started bleeding an hour before I got the call saying that the last round of blood work confirmed a miscarriage.  My heart was broken, my feet oddly started feeling normal again, and my womb was lifeless.

I am sharing this very personal information for two reasons.  First, I realized this past November how odd the body is and how unpredictable health can be.  You think you are doing things right but sometimes things happen that are beyond your control.  I never thought that tingling feet would be connected to a non-viable pregnancy, but my body is unique and I needed to listen to it that day that I went for a run.

Secondly, I am sharing this personal information because I believe that all life is valuable–even the life that lasts for a few short weeks in the womb.  Sharing with you about that life that was in my womb is a way of celebrating that it existed.  I am sad that I will not be holding my newborn baby in my arms on the 4th of July this year, and I long to know what he or she would have looked like and what their favorite color was.  I am so thankful for my two precious children and I know God is sovereign and loving.  He knows what is best for our family and how many children we will have.  He knows how my body works–He gives life and he takes away.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

The Gym: 5 Things to Look For

It’s the new year.  It’s cold outside.  It’s one of the busiest times of the year for gyms all over the country.  Here are five things to look for and think about if you plan on getting a new gym membership:

  •  Location.  If it’s not close, you won’t go often.  And by close, I mean close to either your home or your work.  Any time that you spend driving in the car is time that you are not exercising and that you are away from family.  I am all about maximizing time.
  • Money.  This is important, for obvious reasons.  Gyms do not need to be expensive.  I have heard of memberships that are as low as $5 a month.  Planet fitness is $10 a month, a great option for those who want to be frugal.
  • Friends.  I mentioned earlier that I am all about maximizing time.  If I can workout side by side with someone who I also want to hang out with, than it’s a win-win situation.  It is also great motivation when there are people you know at the gym, and can be great accountability too if you are meeting them there.
  • Amenities.  Some people like to swim.  Some people like Zumba.  Some like TRX, and others like smoothies after their workouts.  Whatever it is that will make your exercise experience most enjoyable, make it a priority because then you will do it more.  For me, the most desirable amenity  is free childcare.
  • “Vibe”.  If you are not comfortable going to the gym, then you likely won’t go often.  Planet fitness’s motto is “Home of the Judgement Free Zone.”  I go to a place called The Friendship Center, which has a great community feel that I really like.  These are things to consider.

I hope you have a happy gym shopping experience and end up a place that is a great fit for you!

Walk the Dog

“Walk your dog every day, even if you don’t have one.”  Dr. Kenneth Cooper said this, and I love quoting him on it.  This Christmas, we got a puppy for the kids (and for us) so now we will actually get to walk the dog.  Whether you have a dog or not, it’s always a good idea to go for a walk!

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Kids indoor exercise activity of the day: play with puppy.

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Holly is so little that we only made it 3 houses down when we went on our first walk.  Something is better than nothing!

 

5 Faves: Adult Stocking Stuffers

I always  have loved opening stockings.  There is no reason it should stop being fun for adults, too!  Here are some of my favorite health-inspired ideas (Mom, don’t read this yet until after Christmas):

  • Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer:  This is the perfect little thing to put in a stocking.  It’s affordable,  100% natural, and everyone loves a little shimmer.  It even helps moisturize dry, winter lips while adding a smidge of glam.                                                                                    
  • Aveeno Skin Relief Hand Cream: Dry hands are a serious problem for me.  This hand cream has a good rating from EWG for safety, which is just as important to me as keeping my hands from bleeding every winter.                                                                                                                                   
  • Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bar with Espresso Beans: A Friend gave me this for my 30th birthday and I was hooked.  Thanks, Ashley! Product Image
  • Kiwi Magazine:  One of my favorite things to do while on an exercise machine is to read a magazine.  This magazine is good inspiration for raising healthy families.  You can also consider other health-related magazines, just roll it up and put it in a stocking!                                                                KIWI Magazine December 2015/January 2016
  • Essential Oils:  The three I use most are Lemon Oil, Tea Tree Oil and OnGuard from duTerra.                                                          on guard bottle                                                       

Happy stocking stuffing!

5 Faves: Kids Stocking Stuffers

 

  • Keeki Pure and Simple Nail Polish:  One of the safest brands of nail polish out there!  The less chemicals that are in beauty products, the better (and the healthier)!  This polish dries pretty quick and has no odor so I have no worries about putting it on my 3 year old daughter.                                                                                   
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste:  Studies show that good oral health is connected to good overall health.  Help create healthy brushing habits by making it fun!  Noah will be getting a lightsaber toothbrush and Gracelyn will get a spinning princess one.  Firefly Kids! Star Wars Darth Vader Toothbrush, Soft- 1 ea
  • Cape and mask:  What better way to get a kid to be active than to put a cape on them and let them save the world!    Personalized Boy's Superhero Cape & Mask
  • Newman’s Own Peanut Butter Cups: Having a treat is special and so is Christmas, so a little something sweet in the stocking is ok.  These are one of my favorite sweet treats, but you could also go with a PayDay candy bar.  Of all the candy bars out there, these are two of the better options, according to The Environmental Working Group’s Food Score rating system.    Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • Magnifying Glass:  There is nothing healthier than a kid playing outside and exploring nature.  Let’s encourage them to do this more!  

 

 

Next up will be my 5 fave stocking-stuffers for adults.  Stay tuned!

Nourish

We recently moved and one of my favorite places in the house is the kitchen.  I have been slowly “making it my own” and today this lovely sign went up.  The word nourish has been in my mind for a while because I wanted our kitchen to be a place where I was inspired to provide fresh food that would “supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cheer, foster, and keep alive; and to strengthen, build up, and promote” (dictionary.com).  I am hoping that having this sign prominent will remind us when we eat that the whole point of consuming food is to feed and care for the body.  It sounds obvious, but we often spend time eating and not nourishing.

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That being said, I also wanted to have my kitchen be a place where I was more inspired to cook and bake…because when it’s time to consume special treats, it’s better they are homemade with ingredients that are real.  I got the idea from a post from Mending the Piggy Bank to use our gourds to write things that we are thankful for throughout the month of November.  Today, after having homemade pumpkin pie, my kids said they were thankful for special treats…and I am thankful that they said this after eating something I made instead of something a factory made 🙂

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