Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Whip It Good

   If you've been on Facebook for long, you've undoubtedly seen the weight loss products flooding your feed. On the one hand, it makes sense. According to the National Institute of Health, 2/3's (68.8%) of adult Americans are overweight. In that light, it makes sense that a large number of people on Facebook would be using these MLM weight loss products, and it certainly benefits them to make non-stop posts about the products that make them money to such a sedentary, constantly scrolling and reading market as the social media scene. What better option than to drink that pink stuff, those green ones, swallow those pills or choke down those nasty dirt-like powders with the promise that you'll lose weight by changing nothing else about your lifestyle? It seems like the perfect solution.
   Here's the secret: It's all nonsense. We're very much an eating disorder-driven society. I know when people think ED they think frighteningly skinny and starvation, but in reality the gamut of the mental illness of ED's runs from fatal starvation to super-morbid obesity. When you view food as anything other than fuel for your body that happens to taste good, too, that is disordered eating. Spend enough time practicing this disordered eating mindset and you are bound to develop an eating disorder. With 69% of Americans overweight and many others with ED's on the opposite end of the spectrum, nearly 3/4's of the American population has true, clinical eating disorders whether they recognize it or not.
   Here's another secret: Real, true weight loss only comes by changing lifestyle habits and disordered eating thought processes, and when that is achieved you will maintain that healthy weight. Too simple, I know. It can't possibly be true. But actually it's not simple. It's very, very hard, and that's why it's true. Real, true, maintainable weight loss does not come from a shake, a pill, or endless hours of exercise.
   The only reason a 'Pink Drink' might help you make any progress is because it is tricking you into drinking huge amounts of water when you wouldn't ordinarily. The water fills your stomach so you feel physically fuller faster, but it also hydrates you. Guess what? You'd get identical results if you drank that same amount of water without a powder added.
   The only reason a pill or patch may help you make any progress is because of caffeine. Even the "natural," botanically-based ones have 'herb extracts' and the like that are nothing more than caffeine. Yes, caffeine temporarily boosts the metabolism, but consume it in large amounts long enough and you will develop adrenal fatigue, auto-immune disorders, migraines, and more. As soon as you stop using these pills or patches, your body will struggle to fuel itself without the caffeine addition, so you really will be under the illusion that your body has more energy and must be doing better on these pills.
   The only reason a meal-replacement shake may help you make any progress is because of starvation. Every single shake I've seen on the market is full of metabolism-slowing and liver-taxing preservatives, alcohol sugars that act as laxatives(and are touted as safe for diabetics, but they actually raise blood sugars HIGHER for type 1 diabetics ), and are just chemical fluff, highly processed fibers, and artificial sweeteners and flavoring. They will do nothing for your body in a nutritive sense, but the alcohol sugars will push the pause button on your hunger by raising your blood sugar. They will not sustain you, though, and in the end you'll be more hungry, and your body will go into starvation mode.
   I could go on for many, many more paragraphs, but who wants to read that? Most only want to read the success stories, temporary, fake, or otherwise, and see profound(and photoshopped 99% of the time) before and after pictures, not the truth of the science behind these garbage products. What would happen, though, if we spent our money on real food instead of chemical products? Shakeology shakes are at least $120/month. Plexus is more because they want you drinking their pink water, taking their diet pills and powders, and their probiotic. What if you spent $30 each month on a high quality, high potency, multi-strain probiotic like Probiotic Sufficiency or Garden of Life RAW Probiotics that naturally cleanses your body on the inside and speeds your metabolism naturally and sustainably, drank plenty of water(cutting out juices, sodas, and other water-replacements), and spent the same amount of money you already do on  groceries, just made better choices? Even those with hormonal issues like PCOS and thyroid issues like Hoshimoto's lose weight this way, and it's permanent(unlike the diet products that make your system crash as soon as you stop them) and well-documented. Start removing the chemicals from your diet, helping it to function better internally starting with proper gut health, and putting nutrients in your body for fuel instead of whatever tastes good and is easily at-hand, and you can't not lose weight. That is scientifically proven every time.
    I've struggled with my weight my entire life. According to most, "I have the fat genes." More people in my family have had gastric bypass than anyone I know unrelated to me, and almost all the women have weight struggles, thyroid disorders, and auto-immune disease related to hormones and weight. As a teen I was bulimic to deal with the struggle. As a young adult and mother I learned how to do better. How to eat better. How to be healthy. The last two years, though, since the birth of our fourth child, I've faced a lot of struggles and have turned to food, whether in boredom, anxiety, distress, and sadness, I ate to stuff the feelings or self-medicate to just have "good feelings." Now I am a mother, a wife, and an American in the vast majority that medicine labels by numbers as "obese."  I need to lose 75 pounds just to squeak under the line of what is a healthy weight for my height, build, age, and gender, and I am so sick of all these fake stories of the impossibility of doing it naturally. I and my 'fat genes,' four kids, no time, no extra money, Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease, pre-diabetes, and hormone imbalance are "defying the odds" and getting healthy without spending a single penny extra or adding a single meal shake or diet pill or powder to my diet. In the last three weeks I have lost 7 pounds solely by eating just a little less at each meal and making smarter choices like making my coffee before I leave the house instead of getting Starbucks on the way.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Blessed Mother's Day

   It's Mother's Day! Hoorah. I'm so blessed to be a mama. I was told at 19 I'd likely never conceive and carry to term, but here I am eternally blessed with four children Earth-side, and two in Heaven.
   My husband blessed me with a wonderful day. He informed me when we woke up that we were going to breakfast. When we arrived at our first choice before 8am, there was already a half-hour wait. Seems giving moms a morning off from cooking was not a unique idea. Our second choice was close-by and had no wait, so we ended up with a really nice, quiet, unhurried breakfast anyway.
   Then we went bargain hunting. I never imagined myself to be one who would be at the doors of a store waiting for it to open so I could get good deals on a holiday, but that's what happened today. I had Kohl's Cash expiring today, a Kohl's Rewards coupon for $30 off, and a 'today only' 20% off code- all that I could stack- and we ate breakfast so early that we were the first ones in the store. Several more stores and clearance rack searches later, and my kids' summer wardrobes were completed for 60-80% off. I call that a good shopping day.
   Several errands later, and it was closing in on lunch time. Yesterday we attended a fun community festival where Noodles & Co. was a sponsor, and we received two free meal vouchers. Lunch at a bargain, too? Yes, thank you. I'm an introvert by nature- I keep to myself, I love being home with my family, happily enjoying a rather boring day. Days out with lots of errands like this are usually really stressful to me, but today was so quiet and happy, relaxed, full of stops but with no timetable or crowds(once we left that first breakfast stop), and bargain shopping(and eating! LOL) to boot made it so nice.
  Then we came home and gardened! Much of my garden did not do well upon first planting. First there was a feisty pup who got in there and did some digging. He's now been trained not to go in garden(he has a healthy fear of the water hose). Then there was the attack of the ants. Diatomaceous Earth has hopefully taken care of that problem. Then there was the case of the mole eating the softened seeds after we planted them for peas and beans. The mole has been taken care of(thanks, kitties!), so we gave it one last go. Beans are replanted, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and watermelon seedlings are in. It's like a giant sigh of relief to have all that done.
   Once the children were all napping I wrapped my arms around my husband and thanked him for the wonderful day. He gave me a weird look, doubting my words, but I assured him that to be so productive was nice for me, knowing those things were checked off my list, and getting to spend the day with just him and the kids no matter where we were was so nice. I still don't know if he believes me, but it's true. It's been a great day.

Do you Instagram? I recently quit Facebook(if you're seeing this from my Facebook it's because my blog posts are sent to my Facebook by default) and don't have time to write full posts here as much as I'd like, so I started an Instagram for sharing snippets of our days with friends and family.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The First Mother's Day

   Everyone's making plans for this Sunday, whether they be to take advantage of other's wanting the day off so they can work extra long hours to make the money they need, or to drown their sorrows in alcohol and just get through the day, or actually celebrating with family, but plans they are. But did you know that the FIRST Sunday in May is a special day, too? It's International Bereaved Mother's Day. It's for the mothers who are dealing with the absence of one or more children in their lives, whether it be to death or infertility. Did you know this was last Sunday? Most do not. It's uncomfortable to acknowledge so most will just scroll past the information, skim the article, or ignore or forget altogether because it does not apply to them.
   But it is absolutely perfect that this should come first. While it is excellent and right to appreciate all mothers, it is also excellent and right to acknowledge that there are those among us for whom this traditional Mother's Day is incredibly painful for many reasons. For some it is the absence of child by infertility. For some it is the absence of mother by death, abandonment, abuse, and other pain-filled reasons.  For some it is the absence of child by death. This year I have joined the ranks of that last group. It's a terrible group. I have always had a heavy heart for those who have felt pain on these holidays, but now I know first hand how awful it is, and it means all the more that the world should recognize our pain, because by recognizing our pain they go outside themselves to care for others, and that is huge. For those affected by death it recognizes the existence of the humans in our lives that are now gone. It recognizes struggle, and for some reason having others recognize even for a brief moment the heart-wrenching load you carry every second of the day, that load is made lighter. So THIS Sunday let's go out of our way to, for a brief moment, come alongside those whose pain was acknowledged last Sunday by the few who cared to notice it, and help carry that burden of the heart. Acknowledge the pain of the lack and the loss. You have no idea how that brief moment of discomfort and awkwardness for you may touch a person for whom the pain is constant.
  Several years ago I saw this shared  when it was brand new, and I loved it. It moved me to tears. Now I cry over it for a whole new reason, and even if you read it every year, it will never get old or lose its importance. So every year, please- pastors, teachers, employers, leaders of all kinds- share this. You have no idea how it will touch the people who need to hear it:

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Best Laid Plans

   My husband and I decided earlier this spring that as soon as we were done with schoolwork, we would try to do fun family "adventures" at least 2-3 times every month. We want our kids to learn more about the world outside their little bubbles, expose them to new things, and help them to learn from new experiences. This weekend's adventure: The Celebration of the Horse just 15 minutes from our house.
   Our kids have been around horses a couple of times, but in very short chunks, like when we went to the Journey of Hope 4 Autism several times a little over a year ago. It was somewhat terrifying for our kids then, because they had never been near horses, and the sweet, free-roaming goat, Karla, had tiny horns that my kids thought might as well have been meat cleavers. We thought that now they would be old enough to enjoy the event.
   Our oldest as immediately in love with the horse shows happening and would have chosen to stand there all day watching, while our middle two seemed to know nothing was near them except porta-potties and food trucks, and the youngest was disturbed by everything anywhere near him, and could handle nothing but to be held by Mama- and a simple hip-hold wouldn't do. Oh no. He needed both my arms around him at all times or he would squeal. I did, however, manage to get all four interested in the very brief "leadline" class, mostly because they were fascinated to see kids their size and smaller riding horses. QUICK! GET A PICTURE SO WE CAN PRETEND THEY LIKED IT!

We finally gave up and left when all but the oldest were in inconsolable tears. We tried. We made it 45 minutes. We DID manage to catch an English Pleasure Class with a gaited pony. My husband had never seen such a thing(nor had the kids, obviously), and all but the 2-year-old were fascinated. Ignore the food allergy talk in the background. We were trying to figure out if the drink the toddler was begging for was safe for him. 

After we left the festival, we gave ourselves a treat of iced lattes while we kept the kids busy looking at stuff at Target so we could enjoy our drinks in mostly-quiet, and I got the afternoon off from making lunch with a stop at our favorite allergy-friendly spot, Noodles & Co

So I guess the day wasn't a total loss, but I had these visions of grandeur for our learning adventures. Thoughts of summer neatly recorded with pictures and child-written descriptions of their favorite parts of the days compiled in a scrapbook for us to look fondly back on and remember the things we learned. Aside from our 8-year-old who held back disappointed tears as we left less than an hour into our adventure, I'm pretty sure any memories of the day would center around lunch and the kerchief-wearing pitbull we passed on the way out. Here's to hoping the next adventure is better. Or maybe I'm just setting myself up for a very disappointing summer. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

School's Out for the Summer!

It's official! We're done for the school year, and honestly it was because of me. My kids were doing GREAT, not a sign of spring fever in sight despite having a full week of work left. Unfortunately, my brain is not doing the same. I haven't the zeal, the energy, or the brain power, and knowing that our curriculum is purely review of the year for the final 20 lessons and the first 30 lessons of next year will be review of this year to refresh their memories, I wasn't worried about an information gap. So we're done. I announced it to my kiddos when they got up from afternoon rest time, and the rejoicing was enormous. We'll start up again the first Monday of August as always, and then I'll have a 4th grader, 2nd grader, K-1/2er, and two major non-stop distractions in the form of a 2-year-old and half-grown pup.


   My oldest has made great strides this year in math. In first grade reading was her major struggle. Something about phonics just didn't click until half-way through the year. In second grade spelling was her major struggle, undoubtedly related to her taking a little longer to get a firm grip on phonics. By this year her spelling was fantastic, she reads novels(historical and autobiographical are her favorites) constantly, but her math was a struggle. We worked a lot with helping her focus, like using classical music and essential oils in the diffuser to help stimulate certain areas of her brain, and by the end of this school year she is doing amazingly well in math, too. I am so proud of this sweet, talented, dramatic girl. 

   My second is dynamite in every way. He has neurological challenges in the form of Sensory Processing Disorder, but he has come an amazingly long way since his diagnosis at the age of 2. I was worried that this year would be very difficult, because 1st grade is far more sit-down-and-focus work than kindergarten, but he proved me wrong. Yes, there were tough days. There were days I did the writing for him because his tactile defensiveness was too much to grip a pencil. There were days he sobbed his way through subjects because just looking at them seemed insurmountably difficult so he didn't even want to try, and there were days our normally 2-3 hour work day turned into 8 hours because his focus was non-existent and I refused to give up. But we did it! HE did it! He has grown so much in confidence, and learned that even if something looks TERRIBLY difficult, he can always ask for help, and he ALWAYS gets it done because he is capable. Watch out, 2nd grade. Here he comes!

My third is an adorable, precocious little sprite, and a natural-born perfectionist. Her birthday is in September, and when she was 2 she decided she must do schoolwork with the older two, so I bought big, thick coloring books and gave them to her during school time. When she was 3 this did not fly with her, and she demanded, "SCHOOL work, Mama. No coloring. SCHOOLWORK." So I started her with our usual preschool work from Brightly Beaming Resources. She did amazingly well for her age(just-turned-3). This year, after much consideration and discussion between my husband and I, we decided to get our usual kindergarten curriculum from Abeka for her. We've gone slowly, at her pace, some work every day but not super intensive, and she has progressed so much over the year. We'll be starting the next school year by finishing her kindergarten books, and will start the 1st grade books after that. We call her "Kindergarten-and-a-half." 

   Last but not least, we have our fourth munchkin. He is so smart, resourceful, and mischievous, it's more work for me to keep him busy during the school day than it is to teach the other three combined. He just turned 2 last month so we have a couple years before we'll start doing schoolwork, but in the mean time he really likes sitting at the table with the kids, scribbling in notebooks and old textbooks, occasionally bringing his work to me with a proud smile declaring, "Did it, Mama!" It's adorable and makes me laugh every time. Time will tell if he is as eager as his sister and grows wise to the nonsense work I'm giving him now. 

Okay, I was wrong. That one wasn't last. This one is last. The furry one. He keeps me busy, and spends the school day raising rabble with his 2-year-old human cohort, chewing pencils, lined paper, and teacher's manuals. He's adorable, he's three months old, he's fully house trained, he's a blonde Australian Shepherd, he thinks the children are his and his life's work is to keep them in line, and his favorite snacks are cell phone chargers and ear buds. I expect none of that to change over the summer and next school year.