Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nutrition Part #1: I don't diet

I have been on a journey for the last couple months and it has changed the way I think about food, body image, my knowledge of nutrition, and how confident I feel feeding my family.  This isn't a fad diet with rules and fast weight loss.  It seems popular to claim that a diet is a "lifestyle change" so I'm hesitant to even call it that.  It's more of just a wealth of knowledge and understanding that has influenced my choices.  I am so excited about how it is empowering me as a mother and as a woman that I want to summarize it in one place.

The book: The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor
Summary video (this one is about 12 minutes but wraps up the concepts really nicely)
The website Sane Solution is the name of the company
Podcast (on Power of Moms)

don't diet.  I don't.  I've never even tried.  
I have tried to eat "better"--more good stuff, less bad stuff.  More reasonable portion sizes. But I've never even wanted to try a "diet".  It just feels intuitively wrong to me.  Deprivation backfires.  Besides, I know I'd fail miserably.  I like food. I can't stand it when people make their diets known in a social setting.  It makes me feel bad about that cookie I'm grabbing (especially when they're stick thin!)

But, I've also always wished I understood more about nutrition.  I have always wished I had taken more classes on this in college.  I want science.  Not some quick fix or best seller.  As consumers, I feel like we are fed different information every season!  A few years ago, I even ordered a random used textbook from Amazon and set about reading chapters to learn more about basic nutrition.  I kind of failed to ever make it all the way through!

I only gave The Calorie Myth a chance because my friend, April Perry was so passionate about it and I trust her reviews!  It felt out of my comfort zone at first but the more I read the more I loved the real hard-core science!  It's loaded with examples of experiments on rats and studies on humans that have left me feeling like, "Yes!  I'm not just greedy if I'm a little pudgy.  I'm just not eating enough of the right kind of food!"  That's a 180 on body image that every woman needs!  I've been learning so much about what different food does once it's inside your body.  It's not about counting calories, starving or eating less.  Deprivation doesn't work.  And culturally I had learned some habits that were sabotaging my efforts to be healthy because "healthy" is defined differently every year.  

The bottom line is that you can fill yourself so full with food that doesn't sabotage your hormones and allows your body to process all the food that you eat.  (watch the video....really!)  When I eat the right stuff most of the time, eating some of the not-so-great stuff doesn't affect me as much.  My body is healthy and processing well.

1. Non-starchy Vegetables
Since gaining all this new information, I have spent so much time researching ideas and experimenting with food.  One thing I learned really fast was how filling non-starchy vegetables are.  I used to think they were just a required side dish to make my plate "balanced".  Now I understand that if you choose the right ones they are full of fiber and water that literally fills your stomach causing a stretch that makes you feel full.  I had to overcome some habits of a lifetime: like finding new ideas for breakfast.  I now eat a ton of veggies for breakfast and I actually love it.  (I won't was a long month of experimenting before I found solutions!)  Side note: this isn't a low-carb diet.  Non-starchy vegetables are carbs but they are the carbs that don't sabotage you!

2. Protein
I have also learned how important protein is as a building block in our bodies and about how much my body needs to remain full for 3-4 hours.  Plain greek yogurt, eggs/egg whites, cottage cheese, and meat are things I include in all my meals now.

3. Whole food fat
I finally understand the political drive behind why fat was made the bad guy many years ago.  Without fat, food tastes bad, so companies add sweeteners.  It's incredible how there are sweeteners in almost everything!  When our bodies are constantly triggering insulin to deal with the sugar, we eventually become insulin resistant.  We don't process our food like we should.  And a lot of other bad stuff.  But it isn't easy just stopping eating all that stuff!  I had to learn how to make food that isn't sweetened taste good.  I had to get used to incorporating whole food fats into my diet on purpose because that's what give us the "satisfied" feeling.  Again think lots of hours in the kitchen.  Some discouraging failures.  But ultimately success.

Success = Full, satisfied, happy
I love that this isn't all or nothing.  I don't feel like I'm following rules.  I prioritize eating the vegetables, protein and whole food fats, but after I've eaten that, I indulge in treats sometimes (I'm usually so full I can't eat too much!)  The full feeling I feel is so different from anything I have ever felt.  I feel so full but not "I want to throw up" full.  Just very satisfied.  Always.

As a mom, I finally know how to help my child that is always hungry eat enough to stay full for more than 30 minutes.  She doesn't always choose to eat that way, but she knows what it takes and is choosing it more often.  I am less frustrated because I understand why she is always asking for food and can do something about it!  Another of my kids wants to eat sugar all day long.  Instead of fighting over how much she can have everyday, I am now focusing on teaching her that once she is meeting her 10-12 vegetable servings and protein/fat, then I will be able to trust her to make her own sugar decisions.  She's working on it...I know she will get there eventually.  It's not easy to change habits.  One of my kids is a vegetarian and this has helped me give her more protein options as I've realized how little she gets.  

It sounds laugh-able to offer a vegetable tray everyday after school, but I do now!  And it's amazing how excited they are and how they gobble it up.  Once filled up with goodness, I'm pretty chilled about it if they want to grab a cookie or treat sometimes.  Happy mom.  Happy kids.

Body Image
Can I just mention body image?  I think every woman that ever has an ounce of fat has felt negative and criticized herself for indulging or having portion sizes that are too large.  I know I have been hard on myself for not working out more.  As I have felt my body experience "nutritional serenity" I realize that this isn't about being greedy or lazy.  Most people just aren't getting the nutrients they need!  Our food supply is designed to sabotage us.  It takes deliberate effort (and knowledge) to avoid the pitfalls.  I'm so much kinder to myself now and feel like I'm in control instead of fighting the enemy of food.

Exercise & more...
The tag line of the book is "eat more and exercise less".  There's very little exercise (in minutes) but it's so effective!  You'll have to read it to understand why--again lots of science behind what will boost your metabolism.  I was so 'happy-sore' for 4 days last week after a 10-15 minute workout.  Having said that, there is plenty of encouragement of an active lifestyle, and other components of the whole person.  Water consumption, gratitude journaling, sleep.  My favorite thing that Jonathan said to us moms one day was--if you aren't getting 7 hours [undisturbed] sleep, don't cut into your sleep to get exercise!  I have been prioritizing sleep much, much more than I used to.  I was a 5:30am exerciser before.  Not anymore.  And I'm so much happier when I sleep!

It's mental, emotional and physical changes.  I am changing in ways that feel sustainable and good.  It's hard to put a number on the mental emotional and even some of the "feel better" physical.  Hopefully my enthusiasm about it will count for something.  The physical measurements--weight & inches--have decreased to a place I can't remember being at since before motherhood.  I ended up with before and after pictures (fully clothed!)  that shocked me.  Can't bring myself to post them here...but if you need some motivation to get on board and pictures will do the trick...let me know :)

I think we all want to be slim, healthy, strong and energetic and I'm thrilled that I've found a way to get there that is painless and joyful!

*I was part of a pilot group that worked with the author, Jonathan Bailor and Power of Moms to prepare a program for moms to learn about these ideas.  I feel so blessed to have stumbled on that opportunity.  All of this is my honest-to-goodness opinion and I am not being compensated to review positively.  I will be posting more details about specific things that have worked for me in an effort to share with our group and anyone else that may be interested.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bursting Point

This morning my kids attempted to adjust to a normal school schedule after almost a week of school being delayed each day for 2 hours.  It's been kind of cold around here :)  

As I faced this morning my mind swirled with ideas of how I could help each child kick off a happy morning.  How could I help Maya not feel rushed (because that will send her into a heap of frustration which will then slow her down and make her more rushed...repeat cycle).  How can I get Hayley to choose to get up and get ready instead of laying in bed with her latest good book, waiting to fight with me when I prod her along?  Alice has been obsessed with American Girl audiobooks and coloring her detailed color-by-number pages everyday.  Can I somehow help her feel like it's her choice to get ready before turning on her book and coloring?  

Knowing each child's weak points and struggles is such a privilege and a burden.  I hold such power to influence because I understand the minute details that may derail them.

I chose to hide Hayley's book last night without her knowing.  It worked.  Not seeing it sitting there as she woke up meant she didn't think about reading before getting ready.  Happy morning.  No door slamming.  No running for the bus.  No fights.  Even an "I love you" on the way out the door.  I paused to appreciate that success.  

2 more kids, 1 more hour...

Earlier, after scriptures and family prayer, I had cautiously pointed out that this morning will feel more rushed because there is no delay for school.  I asked Maya and Alice what we needed to do differently so that we aren't frustrated and rushed at the end.  I guided them to feeling like they were choosing to do "first things first".  They even came up with a fun plan to give each other high fives after they each did a chore.  Yes!  They were off...

I moved through the motion of morning always observing where everyone was.  Keeping a pulse on emotions and distractions.  Helping keep people on track when I saw possible squabbles or tempting diversions.  Things seemed so good.  I walked a room away to finish doing my hair and listened to the high fives and bustling going on.  And then I started to hear it...

The intensity of happiness was increasing exponentially and it hit me.  I should be happy--it sounds so good.  But I know something they don't know.  This intensity is too much and there's going to be a bursting point.  (Is this normal?  Does anyone else know what I'm talking about here?!)  I tried to insert myself back in the middle to be the grounding force for all those little excited happy feelings that were getting away.  But they barely even noticed me.  So I waited...

Not even 10 minutes later it came.  One minute over zealous best friend sisters.  The next minute: nemesis's.  I don't even remember what the trigger ended up being but I heard the inevitable screams at each other.  The footsteps rushing to tattle.  The "she always..."  "why can't she ever...".  I knew they'd hit that bursting point. 

I separated kids.  Tried to remain un-emotional.  Waited for the explosions to pass.  Then went about finishing the things that had to happen.  Made lunches.  Reminders.  Backpacks.  Coats.  Kisses.  Done.

Intensity.  It's what family life is.  At least in our home.  The joys are intense.  The sorrows are intense.  I guess I could wish for a less intense existence.  Instead, I probably need to bask in the moments of intense joy and not always brace for the explosion.  I do wish I couldn't see it coming quite so clearly....or that everyone else would gain my perspective (or find my warnings very wise!), so that together, we could divert from the bursting point.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dipping my toes in...

It has been almost 2 years since blogging was a regular part of my life.  So many mundane and memorable things happened in those 2 years--I hope to remember them even without a trusty blog. Lately I have spent a lot of time analyzing what blogging does for me and wondering if I can make it a part of my life again. Time is precious and as my kids grow and life gets continually more busy I am ever so careful about long term commitments that take my time. The decisions I make directly affect my whole family and I feel the weight of that. But the more I consider this option the more I see why I need to blog and why my family will benefit from the record keeping and the outlet that it provides for me.  Life is a trade off so I understand that something else will get sacrificed to make space for this, but I am so excited for how this blogging thing changes me as a mother and a person. I love reading the simple stories that are recorded (and would otherwise be forgotten). I love how I can see my own growth of character as I write about my struggles and triumphs.   Most importantly I love how blogging makes me acutely aware of the good & happy moments in life. It's magical!  

Last month I gathered with a group of friends and we discussed an article written by Catherine Arveseth, a mother of 5 young children.  In it, she talked about how it is so easy to live life in the past and in the future--always troubled about what happened or preparing for what is coming up next. The swirling chaos never seems to halt.  That feeling resonated with me and I knew immediately I would regret being stuck in the midst of that chaos someday.  I knew I was missing something that I need.  For some, finding joy in life comes more easily than others (no matter their role).  Finding joy is not a gift I have, but I know that it is a skill I can get better at.  Motherhood is the primary role that I have chosen to experience these years of my life through, and I am determined to develop this skill so that I don't have to regret merely surviving the demands and chaos.  I want to feel joy and wonder and gratitude at the blessing it is to raise little people and influence their lives.  As I considered how I could make a big change to the way I experience life right now, blogging is the answer I have landed on.  Having a reason to notice the present makes me happier. I slow down. I take pictures. I smile and laugh when I would normally despair and cry!

I know blogging is no longer the "in" thing that everyone does and I have all sorts of I fail?  While I have decided to keep things public, I have no grand schemes to solicit a large audience.  I blog for myself and my family.  But the possibility of an audience makes me feel accountable.  I have found every excuse for weeks now to not kick things off.  I need to update the header, write a summary of 2 years, find cute pictures of everyone and get them downloaded to the right computer, think of something fun to say.  But then I realized, this isn't about perfection.  So I found 15 minutes of (almost) quiet and that's enough.  Ready or not I'm back!