A mom who likes to live outside the norm

Archive for the tag “food”

Another nursing story

I wrote my nursing story with my 3rd child, but my experiences this time around were so different and extremely hard, I thought sharing it may help someone.

I’m writing it for many reasons.  In the past I’ve been told:

  • Nursing is more difficult for some people, so since it’s easy for me, I shouldn’t judge
  • I’ve never experienced the feeling of starving my baby
  • formula is there for a reason

Let me say, and I hope this story shows, that I know nursing isn’t easy.  This is why normalization and support are so necessary!

I successfully nursed my first child, despite an exhausting labor, a c-section, and separation for 12 hours after his birth.  I confused self-weaning with being an active toddler, and we ended the nursing part of our relationship at 10 months.

I semi-successfully nursed my second child, but due to lack of support and knowledge, I gave up after 4 months due to my body’s confusion with an odd work schedule and haphazard pumping in a bathroom stall at work.

I made it through extreme pain, engorgement, and mastitis with my third child and had a wonderful nursing relationship.  It ended half-way through my pregnancy with his sister when my milk dried up and he self-weaned around 16 months of age.

So having experienced all of these challenges and having had a home birth and all the early nursing benefits that scenario gives to mothers and babies, I thought this would be a breeze.

It definitely was not.

Look at those chubby cheeks!

Look at those chubby cheeks!

She was my smallest baby, born just over 7 pounds.  She successfully latched on and suckled immediately, but after that we had so many issues trying to get her mouth open wide enough to latch on properly with my inverted nipples, engorgement, etc.  I decided to use a nipple shield to aid her latching, but that actually caused more issues with supply since we weren’t having that mouth to nipple, hormone stimulating contact.

Over the following weeks I found myself nursing non-stop.  I couldn’t take a shower without her crying the whole time.  My husband was stressed and tense while holding her while I tried to prepare meals.  Even with feeding her right before putting her in the car seat, she would scream and cry with hunger 15 minutes later.  We nursed all night. I took 1-2 naps a day, laying down and nursing her the whole time.

A rare, baby napping moment.  Usually she was in my lap nursing while I worked with my kids on their school work.

A rare, baby napping moment. Usually she was in my lap nursing while I worked with my kids on their school work.

My bedroom turned into the school room.  I could get her to nap long enough to bring all their work onto my bed, and I would have the kids alternate between working on my bed with me or working on the floor independently.


That big bootie was from cloth diapers.

And despite all the non-stop nursing, she was not gaining weight.  She produced a few wet diapers a day, but only 1-2 poopies a week (while that may sounds wonderful, it’s not a good thing).  She was getting longer, but thinner.  She was in the 0.3rd percentile for weight, and 50th for length!

And the worst part was having a formula sample that came in the mail sitting on my kitchen counter.  It was screaming my name.  But I knew that if I started supplementing, the situation would get even worse because I would be producing even less milk.  Thankfully we have an amazing doctor who knew that the solution wasn’t formula.  She supported my decision to try some supplements and try eating more fats and supply boosting foods.

I ate lactation pancakes (made with oatmeal and flax seed).  I ordered a mother’s milk supplement.  I started using fennel and basil essential oils topically on my breasts to boost my supply.  I could tell it was helping a little, but she was such an inefficient nurser.  I even tried pumping during the little naps she would take, but I could only get an ounce or two.

Then I got the flu!  I’ve nursed through the flu with my babies before, but I could feel myself getting dehydrated.  I was so weak I could barely hold my baby.

And I cracked open the can of formula.

And she drank and drank and drank.

An hour or two later she wanted to nurse, and I felt like I actually had some milk to give her since I’d had that time to build up some supply.  And she nursed well.

The next next day around the same time I gave her another bottle of formula because I again could tell I had nothing to give her.

By the following day I could actually tell that I was producing more milk.  She was almost 2 months old and my milk finally came in.  But what was crazy was at the time of day when I had given her a bottle of formula over the previous 2 days, I felt empty. Talk about supply and demand!  My husband was shocked, but I wasn’t surprised.

So I started pumping and giving her a bottle a day of my milk to keep her full and to keep my supply up.  I renewed my use of the essential oils and milk supplements.  It all worked, and within a week she was a much more efficient nurser.

But she still wanted to use that darn nipple shield.  I had tried for weeks to get her to stop using it, but she refused to nurse without it.

Finally around 2 1/2 months old I weaned her of it.  And my milk supply surged again! I was able to start pumping milk to store for later use.

She started napping well.  She started waking only once or twice a night.  She was so happy.  And she started gaining weight!IMG_6109

There are many factors that I think contributed to her slow weight gain and my poor supply:

  • I was still nursing when I got pregnant, therefore not building up those “maternal stores” you gain between pregnancies
  • I did not eat the way I should have to provide nourishment for three
  • While I definitely was not dieting, after her birth I wasn’t eating enough fat and protein to boost my supply
  • The nipple shield, while helpful, kept us from that needed skin to skin contact

I am now a believer in not letting a newborn go too long between feedings.  I used to think that a baby would ask to nurse when hungry.  But in my case, I think she never experienced what a full tummy felt like until that bottle of formula around 6 weeks old. And until that point, she never had the energy to efficiently nurse, thereby creating a good milk supply.

So here’s the list of things I would have done differently:

  • I would have worked right away at weaning her from the nipple shield (there really is nipple confusion!)
  • I would have started my supplementation of milk boosting foods and oils much sooner
  • I would have eaten more nutrient dense foods while still nursing my toddler and during the whole pregnancy
  • I would have gotten more supportIMG_1201

It was a learning experience I wish we wouldn’t have gone through, but I hope helps someone else.  We made it to the other side.  When I look at her now, I can hardly believe that just 3 months ago she was not getting enough to eat.

Awesome snack idea

A friend referred me to a company called Graze a few weeks ago.  Basically, you sign up to have snacks delivered to your home or office each week.  I got my first box yesterday, this is what it looked like when I opened it:

10293716_10152493158434515_1972153710690544987_oEach week you are sent a box with 4 individual sized snacks for $6 (that includes shipping).  Here’s a closer look:

1932512_10152493158779515_1309303535207113060_oAfter you try your snacks, you are able to log in to your account and rate it.  If you don’t like it, they’ll never send it to you again (I marked a few things I knew I already didn’t like before they ever sent me my first box), and if you really like it, they will send it more often.   There are also peanut free and low-calorie options.

I have several friends and family members who got their first boxes too, and we all received different items.  My sister discovered that she liked pistachios :).

There are different markings on the snacks based on low-calorie, high protein, having a lot of nutrition, etc.  These are intended to be healthier options than a vending machine (which is why they also ship to your workplace!).

I’m going to be honest, I haven’t tried it yet since it’s a little pricey to be eating at home around my kids who will want them.  But these are great for stashing in your purse or diaper bag for eating on the go.  I’ll be trying my first one today while I’m out running errands during my usual snack time.

Let me tell you the best part: You can get your first and fifth boxes free!  If you use this link, you can try it at no risk: Try graze for free!  There’s no commitment, so you can quit after your first box, after your fifth (free), or any time you choose.  You can pause weeks if you’ll be on vacation, you can have several boxes come, you can send gift boxes, the possibilities are endless!

I plan on signing my husband up for a box delivered to his work.  He eats so much junk there he needs some good options!10387160_10152493159114515_3913808930949749599_oAnd as a bonus for sharing with your friends (which is another reason for this post), is that you get $1 off your next box for referring friends.  You can also donate that money to the Graze School of Farming.  There’s also handy little tickets that you can pass along to friends and coworkers.

Let me know if you try it and what you think!

Not all eggs are created equal

If you couldn’t tell by my post Start Your Day Off Right, I love eggs.  My family of 5 goes through roughly 4 dozen eggs a week! But I don’t just go to my local grocery store and buy the cheapest option there.

As a frugally minded person, I would love to go to my local grocery store and pick up 10 cartons of their $1/dozen eggs when on sale.  Or for a step up maybe get a bunch of antibiotic free eggs from Aldi for $1.50/dozen.  Or should I go to Trader Joe’s and get them for $1.70/dozen?

What is the difference in all the egg jargon?

Hormone free, pastured, organic, free-range…what’s a person to do who is shopping on a budget and yet wanting humane eggs with the best nutrition?

First, you need to know what the terminology means and what it looks like in real life.

  • Conventional eggs – those eggs you buy on sale at chain grocery stores are from chickens who are regularly kept in individual cages 1/2ft square.  No room to move around, let alone practice normal chicken behavior.  If you see the label United Egg Producers Certified, that means they follow these practices.  Please avoid these eggs if at all possible!
  • Cage-free – this label is not regulated.  It simply means that instead of individual cages, the chickens are kept in a large barn or pen.  Often these chickens have their beaks clipped so they cannot peck at each other.  While they are able to practice many normal behaviors like nesting and walking around, they are still normally kept indoors and have minimal space per chicken.
  • Free-range – This is another unregulated term.  All it means is that there is access to the outdoors.  Could be just a door opened to a tiny pen, could mean regular access outside.  It is often a marketing ploy.
  • Certified Organic – These chickens are required to have outdoor access, but there are no requirements in place for duration, etc.  Beak cutting and starvation to induce molting is allowed.  These chickens are fed an organic vegetarian diet which sounds good, but is actually not a chicken’s natural diet.
  • Certified Humane – While these chickens may be kept indoors at all times, there are requirements in place as far as stocking density, requirements for nesting boxes and perches, and provisions for chickens to be able to perform natural behaviors like dust bathing and nesting. While forced molting by starvation is prohibited, beak cutting is allowed. This is a regulated label.  You may see the label Food Alliance Certified.
  • Animal Welfare Approved – This is a step up from Certified Humane.  All the chickens must also have continuous outdoor perching access, and beak cutting is prohibited.
  • Other terms – Vegetarian-fed means that no animal byproducts were used, though this is actually not a natural diet for a chicken.  Natural means nothing regarding to welfare or diet, a marketing ploy.  Fertile means that the hens had access to roosters.  These eggs are completely safe and normal to eat, and this often means cage free.

So what are you to do with this information?

The main thing to remember is that chickens are naturally omnivores.  That means that they not only eat weeds, seeds and vegetables, but also bugs!  They do best on a varied diet where they have the ability to forage and peck.

And to be completely honest, none of the above labels provide you with eggs that come from chickens that are living the way they were intended to be.

The best eggs come from happy chickens.


A happy chicken is one who is allowed to practice natural behaviors: roosting, pecking, nesting, foraging.  They have a balanced diet of bugs, weeds, food scraps and the occasional supplement of grains.  They are sheltered from bad weather and are kept in humane conditions.

There have been independent tests showing the nutritional differences of conventional eggs to truly pastured eggs.  Pastured eggs have less cholesterol and saturated fat (yes, a diet of exclusive grains means more fat!), higher levels of Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, much higher levels of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene, and up to 6 times the amount of Vitamin D.  Did you know that eggs are one of the only ways you can naturally get Vitamin D other than sunlight!?!

So, where does one get these eggs?

The best thing you can do to ensure that you have eggs that come from happy chickens is to raise them yourself!  This is a step that I am working towards, but sadly my municipality does not allow it.  If you want to raise your own chickens, be sure to look at the rules for your area!  Great resources are, and  I also found an awesome blog series from Vintage Garden Gal where she shares her experiences and tips raising chickens.  While expensive, you can buy chicken coops on amazon, and also many of the needed chicken supplies.  You can also get books and other information to decide if this is right for you.

If you cannot keep chickens where you live or that idea does not sound pleasant to you, you can try to find someone local who raises their own flock.  Check with your friends or on craigslist.  Many people sell their extras to help supplement income. Be sure to talk to them about how their chickens are raised and what they eat.  I have a friend who sells hers for $2.50/dozen.

Another options is to check out local Farmer’s Markets.  Be careful though!  Many of these eggs sound great, hidden under the labels described above.  Be sure to talk to the farmer about conditions, size of the flock, their diet, etc.  I have a farmer who has the best eggs who sells them for $3/dozen.

I have to be honest though, right now I get my eggs by the case from a local co-op. They are $2.50/dozen and are under the label of cage-free and natural.  Due to access and budget restrictions, this is a compromise I am temporarily making.  But I can’t wait until my Farmer’s Market opens again and I can get the eggs I really want!

To get more information about animal welfare, labeling and nutrition, visit The Humane Society’s website and Real Food University.

Also be sure to check out the 7 Days of Real Food Challenge! Click here to join us and get the plan, recipes, and support now!  Also, feel free to check out my weight loss series where I talk about using real foods to help you Get Healthy to Lose Weight!

Do you have any more information about egg nutrition? Do you have any great resources on raising your own flock? Please share your experiences in the comments!

7 Day Real Food Challenge

Join the 7 Days of Real Food Challenge

As part of my eating healthy series, I thought it would be appropriate to join The Holistic Mama’s “7 Days of Real Food Challenge” and share information with you all so that you can join as well.  The whole idea is to try out, for seven days, eating only Real Food.  No boxes, no processed foods, and unless you’re lucky with a restaurant that serves real foods, no eating out.  If you can do it fully for a week, than you can decide to do it for 3 days a week, 80% of the time, whatever you decide.

Do you think you can eat only real food for 7 days straight?

To some of you this might sound nearly impossible and some of you may be thinking – I already do. This challenge is designed to help those of you who really want to live the real food lifestyle but might need a little guidance to get started. This challenge is also for all of you who have already figured it out, but you have fallen off the bandwagon. Sometimes life gets hectic and our diets seem to suffer. It’s never too late to get back into the healthy food routine!

So, What is the 7 Day Real Food Challenge?

There is a big group of us following this challenge. Everyone who joins this challenge is making a pact to eat only real food for 7 days – specifically on April 21st – 27th. Already there are 28 bloggers who have committed to this challenge and are here as a support team for everyone who joins us. Here is your support team:

Todd Dosenberry from Primal Toad
Amanda from Natural Living Mama
Erin Odom from The Humbled Homemaker
Janey McKeever from Consistantly Sporadic
Jaime Reid from Jaime Reids Kitchen
Anne Simpson from Authentic Simplicity
Laura Broach from Mama Making Changes
Mike Lamitola from
Alix from Blessed in Homemaking
Stacy Karen from A Delightful Home
Nina Nelson from Shalom Mama
Melissa Joulwan from Well Fed
Kimball Young from Heavy on Wholesome
Laura Prevost from Head over heels in Health
Victoria Moore from Yogi Mami
Carol Lovett from Ditch the Wheat
Katie Stanley from Nourishing Simplicity
Jami Leigh from Young Wifes Guide
Andrea from Homemade for Elle
Sarah Warren from Unorthadox Momma (That’s me!)
Amanda Anderson from Chef Amanda
Sara Roylance from Sara
Sara Shay from Your Thriving family
Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama
Marillyn Beard from Just Making Noise
Nichi from My Healthy Beginning
Michelle Elnycky from The Crooked House Blog

So for those of you who think this might be way too hard to do – you have all these experts here to back you up and help you meet the challenge. It’s not only these bloggers that will be doing the challenge but many of our readers will be following along. We will have a special Facebook group for discussions about the challenge and a place to reach out to everyone for help and support. There are two ways you can participate in the challenge:

Option # 1 (Free)

Join us and make the commitment to eat only real food for 7 days starting on April 21 – April 27, 2013. You will receive:

  • An e-guidebook on “What is Real Food?”
  • A chance to win one of our fabulous real food prizes

To enter this challenge for free click here

Option # 2 ($29)

If you want to get really serious about this challenge and take full advantage of the support you can get from this group – this is for you. Making a big lifestyle change can be difficult on your own but with a huge group of people doing it along with you it is a lot easier – and a lot more fun! As a member of this challenge you will receive:

  • An e-guidebook on “What is Real Food?”
  • A full real food Paleo meal plan for 7 days – three meals a day and snacks
  • Recipes for all of the items in the meal plan (37 Delicious recipes!!)
  • A shopping list to help you prepare for the challenge
  • Tips on how to prepare your kitchen for this event
  • Membership to our private Facebook group which is a place to reach out for help and ask questions
  • A chance to win one of our fabulous real food prizes – worth over $600+

PLUS these fabulous Bonuses (worth over $237+) for everyone who buys this package…

The meal plan for this challenge is a Paleo menu! This means that all the recipes are grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. If you have ever thought about trying the Paleo / Primal diet and thought it was too hard this is the perfect chance to try it out. All of these done for you planning items and the built in support are designed to make this challenge much less of a challenge to complete. What do you think – are you ready to take the 7 Day Real Food Challenge?

Click here to join us and get the plan, recipes, and support now!

The plan and recipes require basic kitchen tools. A good set of knives is the best thing you can splurge on in my opinion – even better you may win some in the giveaways that go along with this challenge!

Speaking of giveaways…Don’t forget about all of the fabulous prizes from our amazing sponsors!! We are giving away $600 worth of products! The Giveaways (over $600+ value)…


Ergo Chef Knife Company, makers of ergonomically-designed professional chef knives, is giving one participant of our challenge their Pro-Series 7” Santoku knife, Come Apart Kitchen Shears and a 9” & 12” Duo Tongs (Retail value $132) Follow them on FacebookTwitter, andYouTube

Taza Chocolate company, makers of traditional stone ground Mexican Chocolate, is giving one of our participants a package of their salted almond discs, their chipotle chili discs, a jar of chocolate covered hazelnuts and their 87% chocolate bar. Taza chocolate has a direct trade cacao program that cultivates face-to-face relationships with farmers. (Retail value $ 30.47) Follow them onFacebook and Twitter

Kaya Foods, superfoods for delicious living, is giving one participant 5 bags of their delicious Kale and Veggie Chips, great for healthy snacking and a few $1.00 coupons (Retail value $ 10) Follow them on Facebook

Yogi Tea, products inspired by Ayurveda  is giving one participant of our challenge 4 boxes of a variety of our top selling teas and a Yogi tea mug. (Retail value $40)Yogi tea is committed to providing healthy, natural teas that are accessible to as many people as possible. Follow them on Facebook.

Applegate, Organic & Natural Meats, is giving away a gift pack of products. (Retail value $ 25) Applegate meats are free of anti-biotics, growth hormones, nitrates, artificial ingredients and fillers which makes them far surpass the quality of conventional sliced sandwich meats. When buying Applegate products you can be confident you are eating a high quality product. Follow them onFacebookPinterest and Twitter

Trilight Health, makers of fast-acting, great tasting liquid herbal supplements, is giving one participant a $50 gift certificate to order products on their website! For over 20 years now, TriLight Health have supplied their customers nationwide with their high quality line of liquid herbal products. They specialize in great tasting, alcohol and sugar free, liquid herbal formulas for pregnancy, children, and the family. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Eco Lunch Gear, eco friendly reusable lunch gear, is giving one participant a a reusable sandwich wrap (Retail value $10.50). Eco Lunch Gear was started by a Mom who saw a need for an alternative to plastic and aluminum foil, her products can be washed and reused over and over to save money and our environment. Follow them on Facebookand Twitter.

Erin Odom from The Humbled Homemaker and creator of Real Food, Real Easy the eBook is giving one participant a copy of her eBook to help you continue with your Real Food journey (Retail value $$9.95) Follow her on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest

Health Coach, Mike Lamitola, is giving one participant free entry to his Tele-seminar on Cravings. Do you have a sugar habit you’ve been trying to beat? In this tele-seminar, Mike will explain how. (Retail value $25.00) Follow Mike onFacebook and Twitter

Alix from Blessed In Homemaking offers organic and all natural body care products, gentle baby care products, herbal products, crocheted items, and more, for your healthy lifestyle in herEtsy Shop. She is giving two participants a one ounce bag of loose chamomile  tea (Retail value $8.00) Follow her on Facebook

Stacy Karen from A Delightful Home is giving one participant of this challenge a copy of her eBook,Simple Scrubs to Make and Give. Start making your own scrubs at home for yourself and others (Retail value $3.99) Follow her on Facebook,Twitter, and Pinterest

Nina Nelson of Shalom Mama, is giving one participant of the challenge a healing balm and lavender mint lip balm from her etsy shop (Retail value $19.50) Follow her on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest

Melissa Joulwan from The Clothes Make the Girl, is giving one participant a copy of her Paleo eBook called Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Like to Eat (Retail value $14.95). This is a great resource for anyone interested in Paleo diet, whether you are just getting started or you are just looking for some new recipes to try. Follow her onFacebook and Twitter

Health Coach, Laura Prevost is giving 10 lucky participants one of her Dynamite Coachingsessions. If you are looking for some support around breaking a bad habit, or getting yourself motivated, Laura will work through it with you in this session (Retail value $20.00/session) Follow Laura on Facebook or Twitter

Jami from Young Wife’s Guide, is giving one participant a copy of her eBook, Apartment Gardening, which is a great resource for getting started growing food in small spaces (Retail value $2.99) Follow Jami on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest

Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama has also offered to give away two copies of her eBook, Cooking with Coconut Oil (Retail value $19.95). The 68 recipes in this eBook are all simple to make and the ingredients in the recipes are all readily available. This eBook is a great way to start getting more coconut oil in your diet to get all the amazing health benefits. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

You will have the chance to win all of these prizes by joining is the challenge with either Option # 1 or Option # 2 detailed above!


Do you have questions about this event? Please feel free to comment on this post with any questions or concerns.

Baby Steps to Health

I’ve heard it takes 21 days to make a new habit.  Well 21 days full of denying yourself what you want and eating things that are new doesn’t sound like a habit that you will be able to make and keep!

Most fad diets (and even good ones) have you make drastic changes.  And not just one or two changes, but often a complete 180, all at once.  The changes supposedly make your body start “eating bodyfat” by denying it a major food group (for example the Atkins diet denying all carbohydrates).  Or they do not allow you to eat any of your favorite foods, which make the diet so difficult to maintain!  Since the goal is a lifestyle change to be healthy and not just quick weight loss, a new approach should be taken.

Make Real Food “Baby Steps”

To create healthy eating habits and make them sustainable, you have to like what you are eating.  Some changes you may not even notice (like simple food swaps), and other changes will make you feel better and thus be easier to maintain.  My favorites are the ones that taste better than what I was eating before!

Here are some suggestions you can do in your home.  Pick one or two a week, and keep building!

  • Switch from margarine to butter (man-made trans-fat to an animal fat).
  • Switch from powdered or dairy aisle creamers full of yucky ingredients to homemade creamers (my favorite is peppermint mocha).
  • Switch from a snack of chips to a piece of fruit.
  • Switch from meals focused on carbohydrates (pasta or potatoes) to high in vegetables.
  • Switch from soda to water (or if you really like flavor, try home made flavored water).
  • Try baking your bread instead of buying it (here’s a yummy recipe that’s fairly easy).
  • Invest in a bread-machine!  I prefer using the dough cycle and cooking everything in the oven (it tastes better that way).  My favorite bread recipes for the bread machine.
  • Make homemade rolls instead of using refrigerated dough.
  • Switch from processed sugars to natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and succanot (many recipes can be easily swapped 1 to 1 or 2 to 1).
  • Start cooking from scratch instead of from a box. Build up to once a week, then twice, etc.
  • Slowly cut out meals eaten in restaurants.
  • Switch from vegetable and canola oil to coconut oil (great for cooking eggs, popcorn, etc).  Olive oil is okay, but not for cooking at high temps.
  • Slowly step up from fat-free milk, to low-fat milk, to full-fat milk, to even raw milk!  (We’re at the full-fat stage, still looking for a safe raw-milk provider). Why to drink full-fat milk.
  • Switch from low-fat to full-fat dairy (see the previous link on milk).
  • Switch from low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free, and artificially sweetened products to the real thing, and here’s why!
  • Instead of store-bought desserts, make them at home and control what goes in them.  My favorite cupcake recipe, and cookie recipe.
  • Instead of store-bought trail and snack mixes, make them yourself.
  • Buy produce in season instead of buying the same thing every time (you get more nutritional benefit since it is fresh, you can save money since it is often on sale, and you increase variety).
  • Find local sources for produce, honey, eggs, dairy and meat.  Your produce will be fresher (because they will be picked ripe instead of ripening in a truck), often have more nutritional benefit, and you will be helping your local community (as well as helping your body and your pocket-book).  Often, local farmers follow organic practices but either can’t afford being certified organic even though the may follow stricter practices than many things labelled organic.  Get to know them and learn about their sustainable practices.  Eating local honey and produce can help with allergies as well.

This list can go on and on!  Do you have any real-food healthy switches you can recommend?  I’m sure I missed so many!  Again, don’t do all of these at once.  Pick one or two a week, and keep building to a healthier lifestyle.

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Get Healthy to Lose Weight

I’ve been seeing this quote lately: “Don’t lose weight to get healthy.  Get healthy to lose weight”.  If you’ve read my post from a year ago, Trying My Hand at Weightloss Advice, that quote pretty much summarizes it.

There are many reasons why I’ve decided to write a follow-up:

  1. It’s that time of year, getting ready for swim-suits, ugh.
  2. It’s been a year since I wrote my post on weight-loss.
  3. Accountability to myself over successes and failures.
  4. I’ve read so much more and love to share!

I’ll admit it, it’s our culture and the desire to be thin that had driven me to lose weight most of my life.  I have never been happy with my body.   Convenience food had driven what my family and I ate.  Until 2 years agoI had no desire to have an active lifestyle, and I still struggle in this are. While I have only done a few of the fad diets, I’ve felt and experienced the yo-yo on my body.

I thought being healthy meant denial, insane exercise, bland foods.  I thought weight-loss came strictly from calorie input being less than physical output.  There are partial truths in these statements, but being healthy is a lifestyle.  It does not come from fad diets, from denying your body what it craves, or from pushing your body to it’s physical limit through exercise.

I realized that I could write one long post on everything I’ve learned.  But who wants to spend an hour reading a book online?  I know I don’t have time for that.  So I’m going to write a series on weight loss from a whole foods, healthy living perspective. I can’t promise that I’ll get it done as frequently as I’d like or have a regular posting schedule.  I’m a homeschooling mom with an energetic almost one-year-old.  But my goal is 1-2 posts a week on little steps you can take, tips I’ve learned, successes I’ve had, and encouragement for others.

I’m writing these for the frugal, health conscious person who realizes that fads don’t mean sustainable weight-loss, pills usually aren’t healthy, and health is more important than the number on the scale.  And most importantly, these tips are things I learned while feeding a household on the same principles while either trying to conceive, being pregnant, or nursing exclusively.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  Be sure to check with a health care provider to ensure that these are safe for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, are pregnant or are nursing. 

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The hardest part about yesterday

Obviously, the day you find out your grandpa died is a rough day.  When my phone chimed at 7:13am Sunday morning, I just knew.  When I saw it was from my mom, and what the message said, there wasn’t even grief yet, just relief.

And then some emotion started, but it was mostly sadness for my Grandma.

45497_618606980160_1484181410_nMy kids were a little panicked when they first found out.  They at first thought it was THEIR Grandpa, not MY Grandpa, that had died.  When I showed them a picture of who it was (you have to understand, they have my parents, Andy’s parents, both sets of my grandparents, 3 great-grandmas and 1 great-grandpa on Andy’s side…there’s lots of room for confusion!), there was a mixture of relief and grief.  What was really hard for me in this situation was realizing there may be many occasions like this over the next few years.  And I also remember being just a little older than Jeremiah when my great-grandma died.

Since it was Sunday, we decided to have a fairly normal day.  You need your church family on these occasions.  The grief really hit my while I was in the shower.  But again, it wasn’t sadness FOR my Grandpa’s passing.  It was grief over what he went through over the past few weeks.  His long stay in the hospital.  The pain he went through.  The infections.  The not eating for months.  The not drinking for a week. And my Grandma being alone.

The worst and best part for me though, was what we were talking about during Sunday School.  We are going through a video series on Jesus’s life.  Yesterday was about his testing in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.  How that was a fulfillment of many Old Testament occasions. How 40 days without food or water is the very limit of human ability, and that it was only through supernatural help that Jesus was able to make it.

40 days without food or water.   I’m actually kinda amazed I didn’t start bawling openly.  My Grandpa went through several months without food.  He was not living, but surviving off of protein shakes.  He lost a ton of weight over a very short period. The surgery he had 3 weeks ago was necessary for his survival, but also had the potential to take him.  He made it, but the last time I visited my Grandpa, he said “I just want to eat something again”.

And then I remember hearing on Saturday that he hadn’t had even any ice chips in a week.  So I’m sitting in Sunday School, hearing about Jesus going 40 days without food or water and I’m just crying because I’m thinking about my Grandpa going months without food and a week without water.  Of course he was getting some hydration and nutrition via IV…

So I was going back and forth between grief, but also comfort as I realized that even in this, my Grandpa was going through something that Jesus went through first.  Let me tell you, that is some amazing relief.  Two passages of the Bible came to mind to me yesterday as I was dealing with these emotions:

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted”

It was a huge feeling of comfort to know that even in a situation like this, Jesus knows what my Grandpa went through.  He experienced the insane desire for food. He knew what it meant to be thirsty.  And he was a comfort to my Grandpa, who was ready to go home to his Savior.

253735_10200784621044809_1023850809_nSo, I’ll miss my Grandpa.  But I know I’ll see him again.  And I have a Savior who has lost those close to him.  That has wept at the loss of a friend.  But He holds the power to Life.  And there’s peace in that.


How to fatten up a pig – or – Why Americans are overweight

My family started this school semester by reading the book Charlotte’s Web.  It was interesting to me how in almost every meal the Zuckermans fed Wilbur, “skim milk” was a main component.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about how a pig can get good and fat and be only ingesting skim milk.

Today, I ran a basic internet search using the words “how to fatten up a pig”.  Most of the results included advice such as feed corn, grain and skim milk.

Look at our nutritional pyramid.pyramid

It is recommended that most of our diet be grains.  And, what’s the first recommendation when we want to lose weight?  What is the only milk provided in our children’s schools?  What did my family eat and drink growing up (and we were all overweight)?  Lowfat dairy products and skim milk.

Our nutritionists have it all wrong.  Why are our nation’s children increasingly overweight?  Why is there an obesity epidemic?  Yes, a sedentary lifestyle plays a part, but we are eating a bunch of grains, and drinking skim milk.

In the past, farmers used to give their leftover skimmed milk to their pigs to fatten them up.  What else was the milk good for after you removed the cream for making butter?  But with most of our dairy products coming from industrialized dairies, they market the leftover skim and lowfat milk as a health food.

But it hasn’t been working.  You need good, healthy fats in your diet to process all the sugar you ingest.

Look at the typical American breakfast (especially in children):  Cereal with lowfat or fat-free milk.  Maybe some fruit in there.  A highly refined carbohydrate with barely any fat or protein.  Fat and protein provide longer lasting energy and prevent a sugar crash.  No wonder we have no energy in the afternoon, are starving by lunchtime, we’re overweight, and our kids have a hard time paying attention in schools.

Part of it is convenience.  Who has time to cook up eggs every morning?  Part of it is fear.  We’re told fats, especially in cream, bacon, and cheese is bad.  But breakfast is the best time to get those healthy fats and lots of protein in.

I feel so much better all day when I fix myself a good breakfast of 2 eggs, scrambled with cream, with bell pepper and cheese mixed in.  Oh yeah, with a few slices of bacon.  I can go 4+ hours without feeling hungry.

But I admit it, I need a convenience breakfast with 3 kids.  So what did I eat for breakfast this morning?  Cereal with milk.  And it’s 10:30 and I’m hungry already.  At least now I’ll go and grab an apple or banana or something.  I don’t want to admit what I would have gone to a few years go.

That’s another side effect of not eating a good, balanced breakfast: The mid-morning hunger.  If you’re at work, you’ll head to the vending machine and get some chips or something.  If you’re grocery shopping, the cookies and the ice cream are looking especially good.

So, stop the crazy cycle!  Start your day with some good, healthy fats and protein! Don’t be scared.  Fats from real food sources are good for you.  And get some protein in every meal for sustained energy.  If you prefer smoothies in the morning, hide some spinach or kale in there (there’s more protein in many vegetables than in meat!)protein

Give your family the best possible start to their day (and I’ll admit, I’m horrible at this).  Cook up some eggs, heat up some bacon, cut up some cheese, hide some veggies in a smoothie.  Provide some lasting energy so that there’s no unnecessary energy crash, bad cravings, poor moods, and weight gain due to an overload of carbs and poor nutritional content.

Here’s some ideas:
These                                                                                      Instead of These








cute healthy





It’s really hard, I know.  And I don’t have time to make a cute lunch every day, but if I’m introducing something new, it is worth the time and energy to make the meal more fun.  I still struggle with this myself, but I can see the results in my kids thriving, enjoying healthy food, and finally having more good days than bad (though we still have a lot of bad days).  I love feeling healthier, having more lasting energy, and finally seeing some results in healthy weight loss (though it doesn’t happen as quick as I’d like).

I’m just happy I’m no longer feeding my family the “how to fatten up a pig” diet.

Recipe: Breakfast cookies

I made these cookies a few weeks ago for my son’s birthday party and they were a huge hit with everyone there, no one could believe how (relatively) healthy they were.  I modified it a little more for using at breakfast time.  This is a much better option than conventional granola bars!  These of course would be yummy for snacks, packing in a lunch, etc.

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

  • 1/2 c butter (softened)
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 c oats
  • 1 cup (or more) of add ins of your choice.  I used 1/2 c mini chocolate chips and 1/2 c dried berry mix (cranberries, blueberries and cherries).  You could also add nuts.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, honey, baking powder, baking soda, eggs and vanilla until combined well.  Beat in the flour.  Add the oats and the mix-ins with a spatula.  Drop the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.  Yields roughly 3 dozen cookies.

These cookies don’t spread as they bake, so if you like them more “cookie” shaped and not like a ball, just use a spoon to flatten before cooking.

Camping at Chick-fil-A!

So, today we are camping at Chick-fil-A so that we can earn free chicken for a year.  Basically, if you are one of the first 100 people to arrive, and you stay for 24 hours, then you get 52 meal coupons!!!  If you want more info, go here: CFA First 100.

As you can see, there were a ton of people.  My husband has done this before, but this was my first experience with it.  We arrived at the location at 5:40, and by 6:00 when the arrival cut-off happened, there were 112 of us.  We had friends coming to join us, but they didn’t pull onto the lot until 6:00, so when they got up to the line at 6:01 they were sent away 😦

Since there were over 100 of us, there was a drawing.  It got a little nerve wracking as the numbers kept getting picked, but my husband and I were still waiting.  His number was drawn for slot #73, but I was still waiting.  By the 90’s my heart was racing, and finally in slot 99, I was picked!!!  Here’s my armband!

After all of that stress, we went into the restaurant and filled out waivers, etc.  Then we were able to get our stuff out of the van and get our tent set up.  We’re now living in a tent city until 6am Thursday morning (total of 24 hours), and then we get our coupons!!!

Thankfully today is not supposed to reach a record high, but it’s still supposed to get near 100.

Along with getting our meal coupons, throughout the day they feed us (and our minor kids), and there will be games and raffles throughout the day.  And, there’s lots of kids here, so we’re not the only wackos that brought them.  I think we have the youngest baby though.  Thankfully he’s sleeping soundly in his pack n play with his fan blowing on him!  I’m counting on the fact that he’s a good sleeper for tonight!  Poor guy looked so shocked when I rolled him out of bed at 5am (he usually sleeps until after 8), and then I (gasp) didn’t feed him until we got here at 5:40.

Now we’ve got a full day of crabby kids (I’m really hoping not) and playing games.  I’m also hoping no protesters show up…

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