Hi Real Mama followers! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here. I still have my love for this site and for blogging, but I’m under construction. For the last several months I’ve really been dedicated to the kids and watching them grow, but with watching them grow, I’ve learned that it’s time to pursue my passion.

In the next few months I will be pursuing a new career. Though I will still work around the kids and their schedule, I’m going back to work! Right now I’m looking at a couple of different options, and when I hone in on my new position, I will share it here first!

Until then, you’ll find me most active on Instagram with my account: www.instagram.com/therealmamablog or Facebook: www.facebook.com/therealmamablog

If you want to be the one of the first to know my new career, make sure you sign up for my blog updates!

 

Bread 2I am SO sick of reading labels. I think it’s ridiculous that there are so many chemicals that have yet to PROVE they are safe, yet admitted into the food supply. I walk into conventional grocery stores and get so discouraged. I’m frustrated that I feel on guard walking into what I believe should be a source of health for our community.

Now that I know what some chemicals do to us, I can’t go back. I am shocked that our country allows us to still consume foods that are BANNED in the European Union, Asia, Australia, and other parts of the world. Banned. Not just recommended to not eat, but banned.

While I would love to sign every petition there is to ban these chemicals in our food supply, I also am a realist and know it’s virtually impossible to avoid some of these in our conventional world. My goal is to share with you what I’ve learned, and hopefully you can avoid some, if not all of these ingredients.

Last week we ran out of bread, and the nearest grocery store does not carry my favorite bread for the kids (no, they’re still not gluten free…maybe someday). My hubby lovingly ran out for me and grabbed what he thought was healthy bread, but in fact was still a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I cannot stress enough, do your research on labels! Read the ingredients.

Let me digress for a moment: There is an app called Buycott that you could try to help you sort through all the stupidity, and is supposed to help you base food-purchase decisions on by the campaigns you can select (e.g. non-GMO, fair-trade, etc). I honestly have yet to integrate it into my grocery shopping experience, because I have two kids who scream at the grocery store, and quite frankly, if I could run through the store slinging cans into my cart, I would.

But back to my point of the article. That wolf in sheep’s clothing came in the form of 100% Whole Wheat bread. But turn that bag over, and what did I find? Chemicals. I don’t care if it’s “Less than 2% of the following ingredients.” It’s still 2% more than what I want for my family. Why? Because it’s still going in our bodies. Because it still might be making us sick. Because it’s still chemicals that I can’t reproduce in my kitchen!

This particular 100% Whole Wheat shell of bread has DATEM in it, which they tout as a dough conditioner. Do you know what DATEM is? When it has an acronym, that means it’s some long, science-y type name, and it’s time to research.

DATEM stands for diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides, and may be derived from edible sources, but it’s still “chemically synthesized from soybean oil.”

Pepperidge Farm's ingredient list, including DATEM

Pepperidge Farm’s ingredient list, including DATEM

And why is that important? Ever watch Food, Inc.? Ever hear of Monsanto? Well, they developed a genetically altered soybean that can withstand Roundup, so it will kill the weeds but not the crop itself.

If you haven’t researched genetically modified foods, I encourage you to do so.

Animal studies have shown that genetically modified soybeans are linked to:

  • Allergies
  • Birth Defects
  • Sterility

And unfermented soy in general is not something I want my family consuming for the following reasons:

  • Estrogen levels
  • Thyroid function
  • Inhibits absorption of key nutrients
  • May cause other health issues including cancer and pancreatic problems

 

Rudi's Organic Bakery's ingredient list

Rudi’s Organic Bakery’s ingredient list

The bread we love is Rudi’s Organic 100% Whole Wheat bread. I listed their ingredients in the picture. The kids love it, and I love it because it doesn’t have questionable ingredients.

I chose just one ingredient to focus on today, but know there are so many out there, and there are great resources out there like Food Babe and the Environmental Working Group. I wish I had a ton of time to devote to this, and really show you why I’m so passionate about changing our lives. Bread is not a deal-breaker in my house, chemicals are. When our bodies are negatively affected by what we eat, it’s time that I stood up for what I believe is right. Don’t chemically alter my food!!!

I had a friend ask me about what my kids eat, and wondering how to get them to switch to real, whole food. That’s a great question, and one in which is a daily struggle for me.

When my kids were babies, it was so easy to feed them organic, whole food. I would give them everything on the list of foods they should have every day. Not sure where I read that particular list, but I remember saving it to my phone and pulling it up often. It comprised salmon, blueberries, sweet potatoes, oats, avocado and a few others.

At every meal I feel like I won. They would eat, and eat well.

Aaaannnnddd now they’re toddlers.

And they don’t eat.

It’s like they set up a pretend picket line before I ever set down their plates. Very few things are actually ever consumed for dinner. I don’t make them a separate meal, so they have to at least try one bite of each item we are having. That can even be a battle.

I KNOW I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I’ve read blogs dedicated to this stuff. I’ve had Facebook posts where friends helped me with amazing tips and tricks they’ve tried with their kids.

My bottom line is this: it’s all about moderation. Everything in my life is about moderation. I can’t feed them all homemade, organic food all of the time. I don’t ever plan to do that either. Mac and cheese has a time and a place, and sometimes, that’s once a week when I want a break from cooking and we head out to a restaurant.

But that’s not why you’re reading this blog. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you want good, healthy options for your kids. And so do I, so if you can, leave a comment after you’re done reading and let me know what has worked for you!

In the meantime, I was able to snap a few pictures of foods my kids eat when they’re at home, and I made a list of quick, easy-peasy, non-processed snacks that I feed my two littles. It’s also food that I like to have on hand for me and the hubby too, so it’s a win/win.

Here is a sample day in my house:

Breakfast: Paleo/Gluten free pancakes topped with grass-fed butter, almond or peanut butter and Grade B pure, maple syrup (like this).  *Pancakes are made with coconut flour, cinnamon, vanilla, banana, apple cider vinegar, coconut milk and eggs. Pretty sure the recipe was from Nom Nom Paleo, but can’t remember for sure, Google paleo pancakes and a bunch pop up. 

And no, I don’t make them everyday; I usually make up a batch and store in the freezer.

Mid-morning snack: Fig Bars. My son loves these, my daughter, not so much. She still eats organic pouches. They both eat fruit.

snack photo

My son munching on a tangerine.

Lunch: Almond butter and honey sandwich, fruit, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, avocado (if I’m lucky). They also will eat grass-fed beef hot dogs, nitrite/nitrate free salami,

lunch photo

Grass-fed, all beef hot dogs, strawberries, home-grown tomatoes and pretzel crisps. (Yes, that’s *organic* ketchup.)

Afternoon snack: Peeled apples, kale chips, green drinks, organic graham crackers, yogurt on occasion.

Dinner: Whatever we eat, but it’s usually a clean protein, veggie and a carb. They have to try one bite. If they don’t like it, we save it for them and they can come back to it and eat it before bed. It’s their choice. Typically it’s like pulling teeth to get them to eat the veggies. Carbs are sometimes ok, but they usually will eat the protein.

Dinner photo1

Oven-baked chicken, honeydew, strawberries, avocado and one tiny bite of acorn squash (yellow oval, by Ariel’s head).

Dinner photo

Quinoa spaghetti, garlic wheat toast, watermelon and avocado

Here is the list of snacks I usually have on hand:

1. Hardboiled eggs

2. Fruit – lots of bananas

3. Carrots

4. Yogurt

5. Organic crackers

6. Popcorn (non GMO)

7. Cucumbers

8. Grass-fed hot dogs

9. Nuts and nut butters

10. Hummus

It’s not pretty everyday, and I just try my best. I’ve cut down the amount of processed food they eat at home and watch for added sugar, hidden sodium, and all sorts of other chemicals that manufacturers add to food. I read lots of labels, stay away from GMO corn and soy, and NO food dye. I’ve cut back on dairy (no milk), but they still eat cheese and yogurt. And I’ve significantly cut back on gluten, but they still have wheat.

It’s a work in progress. I keep trying. I keep failing. They don’t like a lot of things right now, but I’ve limited their choices, so they are eating better stuff when they are hungry.  Today my son reached for my steamed broccoli and mustard (try it) and ate it. He didn’t come back for more, but he didn’t spit it out either. I consider that a win.

Happy eating!

Good evening my friends! I’m so excited to share my first ever guest blogger! Remember that expert-guided detox that I did? Well, I have the pleasure of knowing that expert personally. Her name is April, and she is awesome. She continually posts relevant information that I’m able to apply in all facets of life, and I thought it would be fun to have her share about her passions over here in my community. What better place to talk about fitness and parenting?!

7 THINGS YOGA TAUGHT ME ABOUT MOTHERHOOD

by April Norris

April Norris and her daughter practicing yoga

April Norris and her daughter practicing yoga

I have proudly worn my badge of motherhood for 6 years.  I spend my days wrangling a vivacious, precocious daughter and a sensitive, headstrong son.  I have been a certified Pilates Instructor for 7 years and most recently added amateur yogi to my resume.  After struggling for many years with anxiety, depression, and chronic exhaustion, my naturopathic doctor encouraged me to start a restorative yoga practice.  I now savor my “mommy time-outs” and have also learned some invaluable lessons about motherhood along the way.

1.     LIFE IS A PROCESS

You can’t force your body to do a posture in yoga.  It’s against the very essence of the philosophy.  Occasionally, gentle nudging is fine; challenging yourself to reach the next level is healthy.  But your body will rebel with a strain or injury if you push too hard.  Children know their limits; you can’t make them to do something they don’t want to do.  Lovingly guide your kids to grow outside of their comfort zone.  Pushing, forcing, or demanding them to do things will only build resentment and anger.

2.    ALL YOU HAVE IS NOW

Our minds are constantly living in future tense:  What will I make for dinner?  What will I wear tomorrow?  Who will be at my 20-year class reunion?  If you don’t disengage your mind while practicing yoga, you’ll miss the boat on a mental vacation.  If you constantly think about your children’s future (Full-ride scholarship? Will he make the little league team?  Where will they go to high school?), you will discount who they are in this moment.  Cherish their budding, joyful personalities, because this season of life won’t last long.

3.    HONOR SUCCESSES

When you finally conquer Revolved Half Moon posture, or were able to meditate in Shavasana without getting distracted, commend yourself!  A personal achievement, no matter how big or small, deserves recognition.  Your children need to be acknowledged for their accomplishments as well.  Whether they pick up their toys without being asked, not fighting with their sibling for a record-breaking 20 minutes, or completed a stellar art project, it all deserves to be appreciated with love.

4.    RESEPCT YOUR BODY

My mental dialogue in yoga usually goes like this: “Look at my muffin top”, “Ghaw, my arms are so flabby”, “That gal has better legs”… You would never speak like that to your child!  Speak to yourself how a loving parent would.  I have noticed a mental shift after starting my yoga practice.  I am beginning to love my body as a gift, what it can do, how it moves… it is incredibly liberating.  When you speak love to yourself, you speak love to others.

5.    HAVE FUN!

Yoga should be enjoyable exercise.  Fall flat on your face from Flying Piegon pose?  Whoops!  Laugh at yourself and jump back into it.  Don’t be a poker-faced yogi that takes themselves and their practice too seriously.  That’s bad juju to share with others.  I find that too many adults approach parenthood the same way.  Don’t get me wrong, having kids is demanding, stressful, and important business.  But what does a solemn attitude about life teach our children?  All work, no play?  Take time to roll around, tickle your kids, dance wildly in the living room, make silly faces, take selfies.  It’s good for your cortisol levels and will deepen your relationship with your children.  Give them happy, joyful memories of their parents and their childhood.

6.    IT WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE

My least favorite position in yoga is chair pose.  Sitting down in an invisible chair with your arms straight up next to your ears, knees bent, shoulders back, chest forward, eyes up, toes back, and deep breathing… Fuhgeddaboutdit.  Parenting is the same way.  Implementing discipline is not fun.  Telling your daughter for the 18,528th time THAT DAY that she needs to pay attention when you’re speaking to her will try.your.patience.  Having your 4 year old son finger paint your cupboards with almond butter will make you sprout gray hairs quicker than you can yell “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”.  But all these tricky situations make you a better parent.  Just as that dreaded chair pose (ugh) makes you a better yogi.

7.    LISTEN

Listen to your body, it knows you best.  Listen to your inner voice, it will guide you down the proper path.  Listen to one another, you will learn something new.  Listen to your children, they impart wisdom on your soul.

April Norris is a board Certified Holistic Health Consultant (AADP), Certified Pilates Instructor (BASI), hot yoga enthusiast, dancer, artist, devoted student of natural health, and a mother of two.  April is passionate about helping clients eliminate food sensitivities and optimizing digestion, lighting the way to a life full of vitality.  She provides workshops, teleclasses, seasonal detoxes, small group programs, and individual nutrition counseling.   Look her up on www.optimalvitalitywellness.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

It’s been a really rough few days in my house. And since it’s incredibly cathartic for me to write, you all get to read what is going through my mind.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to be the perfect girl, wife, mom, housekeeper, cook, student, teacher, friend, dog owner, blogger, etc., and honestly, it’s REALLY hard to do even one of them right. In fact, the harder I’ve tried, the harder it gets.

I feel like I’ve been more vulnerable lately, which leads to feelings I haven’t experienced in a long time. More hurt, more pain and more joy. Sometimes altogether, sometimes separate.

What’s causing me to reflect and realize life is hard — again — is that we chose to re-home one of our dogs this week and I’m absolutely heartbroken. I’ve been complaining, praying and asking advice about my dog for the last four years since my son was born. Every time I thought I was ready to re-home him, my hubby wasn’t, and vice versa.

Ping SnuggleThis time not one incident happened that made us say “now is the time for him to go” but we both felt it was time. Ping is such a love, a cuddle bug, a happy dog with a TON of personality. Shiba Inu dogs (the type of breed that Ping is) are very smart, strong dogs who are also stubborn and think they’re in charge.

Unfortunately that personality mixed with small children was not a good combo. With his “Ping knows best” mentality, came a loathing for my kiddos. It created a hard environment for us all, leaving us to beg experts, trainers and others to help us with our dog.

Unfortunately, nothing helped.

We made a call to some family friends to ask if they still wanted him (they expressed an interest a long time ago). They did. So we took him to his new home.

I have since been devastated and conflicted at the same time.

When we first got Ping, I told my husband that I NEVER wanted to get rid of our dog, no matter what happened. Including kids. I spent our young married years volunteering at a local SPCA because I wanted to know more about dog psychology.

I also wanted to assess how Ping would be around kids. We knew he wasn’t a fan of other dogs, we couldn’t take him off-leash because he’d run away, and we knew he was sketchy around other people’s kids. Though he was deemed ok by the SPCA, I was still afraid that he would hate our kids.

And wouldn’t you know it? What I was manifesting came true.

From the second we brought our son home from the hospital Ping despised him. He was never vicious, but he avoided him. When my son started scooting, crawling, walking, etc., Ping was his first target of curiosity.

Ping would growl and warn him to not come closer, and I was constantly afraid that he would bite. And he did. (Read about that here.)

I felt like a terrible dog owner for keeping him. I feel like I am a terrible dog owner re-homing him. I failed. I did exactly what I dreaded and didn’t want to do.

I gave up my dog.

History is repeating itself. As a teenager my first dog, Maxine, was taken from me and put to sleep without me being able to say goodbye. She was my dog, and she was a cranky one (probably from some sort of inbreeding). We had a new baby in the house and Maxine was unpredictable with a history of not liking, well, anyone.

One morning I woke up and she was gone.

After that damaging situation, I vowed to never treat an animal to that demise. She was almost 10.

Ping is almost 10.Ping full

Things are better this time around though. Instead of being put to sleep, Ping is in doggy paradise with a big yard and a whole family (with older kids) who welcomed him with open arms. He has birds to chase, WAY more space in his new backyard, and a loving home.

Selfishly, I’m so sad. I keep waiting to let him out at our back door. I keep wanting him to hop up next to me to snuggle in the middle of the night. I consider him in so much of my daily activities that I feel like I’m trying to fill a void.

Good thing I have some great verses saved up in my heart, because the only thing I keep repeating to myself is: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I know I am not the only pet owner that has had to re-home a dog.  I know that this is better for our family. Logically I know I’m doing the right thing for my kids, but I can’t help but wonder what he’s doing as I type this.

I miss my Ping.Ping Chalk

It’s been a few months since my diagnosis with the pituitary gland tumor, so thought I’d give an update. If you’re just joining my journey, you can start here.

Though I set out with intentions of trying to treat the sucker naturally, I was being heavily persuaded to take the medication by my one, very loving, but persistent hubby that wanted me to take the meds to help solve my problems.

brain photo

MRI of my brain showing the benign tumor.

The name of the medicine the doctor gave me was Cabergoline.

Before prescribing the medication he specifically asked me if I planned on getting pregnant again. While the answer was a resounding NO, I still questioned why he asked. He said if I did plan on another baby, I shouldn’t take that medicine. Primarily because there weren’t enough studies done on pregnant women on Cabergoline.

I was still very hesitant about taking yet another medication to *try* to solve my problems, (which, by the way, my *problems* classified me in early menopause). However the doc assured me that it was the lowest dose possible, and I only had to take it once a week…for 3-5 years.

So I conceded and ended up taking the medication. The first month was fine. The second month started my issues. It went from a tingly feeling after taking the meds to a full-blown, wake-me-up-out-of-sleep-skin-is-crawling feeling. Miserable.

The next week, same thing. Thankfully, the physician’s assistant pulled me off the meds, and I’ve now been off of them for one month.

And I couldn’t be better. My symptoms are gone; no more early menopause.

Enjoying sunny Southern California on Father's Day with my wonderful boy.

Enjoying sunny Southern California on Father’s Day with my wonderful boy.

I have only been taking Garden of Life RAW probiotics, my wonderful doTERRA supplements, and another essential oil pill blend called DDR Prime. The DDR Prime pills have a lot of great oils in them, which I’d be happy to share more information about if you’re interested.

My goal was to be as healthy as I can be naturally, and by default, that’s what I’m doing. There are no other medications the doctor is putting me on currently.  I anticipate another MRI next year, and I’m guessing this microadenoma, Rathke’s Cleft Cyst, prolactinoma, pituitary gland tumor – whatever you want to call it — will be gone. I’m actually excited to see what the next MRI will show.  I think it will be an answer to prayer.

 

G and Me

Trying to get my hubby to smile for the camera

Did you know your tongue is like a shag carpet? Who knew?! OK, so I’m sure dentists, hygienists and a whole host of other people know, but I didn’t.

Last week I went to the dentist and had the best “report card” that I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know if it was the changes in diet, the toothpaste, mouthwash or tongue scraping, but I have a feeling it’s all combined.

I got a few compliments from my hygienist on oral care; my teeth were ‘really’ white, my tongue was a healthy shade of pink. I know, it all sounds weird, but I’m telling you this because I’ve changed a few habits lately, and I thought it might be of interest to share all of my tips.

So back to tongues. That shag carpet in your mouth can hold a lot of bacteria, food particles and other junk that sticks and then roots itself in the tongue.  In fact, according to my dental hygienist, if you brush your teeth and DON’T brush your tongue, it’s a waste of your time. (If you’re a dentist, I’d love to hear if that’s true from you, too!)

I’ve always heard that oral health is an indication of what’s going on in the body, and if you Google tongue health, there are plenty of articles that will tell you what to look for if you’re wondering what ailments you might be facing.

Rather than spend this article talking about the different ailments, I wanted to arm you with good info on what you can do to change the inside of your mouth.

Here are a few key changes that I’ve made:

Brush or Scrape the Tongue.

Is your tongue white in the morning? It may be a result of a bacterial overgrowth called candida (aka yeast) or thrush. Why is this important? Well, a candida overgrowth can lead to auto-immune inflammatory diseases, or it could be a sign of a weakened immune system.

What can you do about it? Besides talking to a professional about how to treat the overgrowth, you could try tongue scraping. I use a metal one like this: Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner, Stainless Steel

It’s easy to use and clean and I do it both morning and night. Bonus: It also helps with bad breath!

Floss.

How often do you floss? I know; it’s a pain. It’s an easy step to skip. But it’s better to invest now before your teeth fall out later. OK, maybe not literally, but it makes a huge difference over time, and once you’re in the routine, it doesn’t take longer than 30 seconds. Check Facebook on your phone, sing a song, watch a show. Whatever. Just do it.

Mouthwash.

My hubby loved Listerine, but personally I couldn’t leave it in my mouth for longer than 5 seconds before I wanted to cry. It was so painful! My mother-in-law gave me an awesome tip about using hydrogen peroxide instead, and I’ve never looked back.

First, it’s less than $1 for a big bottle. Listerine is upwards of $7 near me, and I look at it like I’m getting an 85 percent discount. (More money I can use to buy my favorite toothpaste, or organic fruits and veggies!)

Hydrogen peroxide naturally whitens teeth, kills bacteria and bubbles up in your mouth, so you can see what it’s cleaning. Pretty cool. And it doesn’t make me want to run around or pound my fists on the counter while I debride my teeth.

Toothpaste.

I keep seeing these articles swirling around the internet about that little colored bar on the back of toothpaste and what it means to your health. Do you remember that going around last year? (Green = the toothpaste is all natural, Blue = natural + medicine, Red + natural + chemical, Black = pure chemical.) Well, it’s a lie. Read it here if you’re interested.

OnGuard_Toothpaste

OnGuard Toothpaste by doTERRA

However, what that article DID do was prompt me to look at ingredients in toothpaste. Have you ever looked at the back of the tube you’re using? Some ingredients to watch out for are: fluoride (neurotoxins, among others), propylene glycol (allergen) and triclosan (endocrine disrupter) and now new research shows that toothpaste (along a few other things including sunscreen) could be linked to male infertility.

I have found that my favorite natural toothpaste that I’ve been using is my OnGuard toothpaste through doTERRA. I love the clean feeling it leaves in my mouth and it has yummy, healthy ingredients.

Brush Your Teeth.

I know it sounds ridiculous. Of course you brush your teeth, but for how long? It should be at least two minutes. My hubby and I use Sonicare Toothbrushes and think it’s so easy because it times us, and after two minutes, they turn off automatically.

It also cleans gums better than a non-automatic toothbrush, and they were literally recommended by our dentist a few years ago. It’s worth the investment.

Hopefully you find these tools helpful and maybe even saves you from a cavity or two!

Had you asked me two years ago about doing a detox, a cleanse or cutting out carbs, I would have said that you were crazy and I would have never thought twice about it.

I’ve never liked watching what I ate. I did, though, because it was the right thing to do. I knew grilled chicken and broccoli had to be on the menu oncein awhile…along with a side of mac and cheese, because after all, it needed some taste!Garlic photo

I had my daughter (via a second c-section) two years ago, but I could NOT lose my extra baby weight. I gained 50 pounds during that pregnancy, and I figured it’d melt off just like it had after my first. HA! (No one gave me the memo that breastfeeding doesn’t always guarantee weight loss!)

Thankfully, I’ve always been a gal who loves to go to the gym. I always sleep better, think more clearly and appreciate the fact that a good workout would earn me the right to eat whatever I wanted.

After a few months of trace amounts of weight loss, I enlisted the help of an awesome trainer, but not for her expertise on lifting weights, it was for a meal plan. I followed that sucker for 6 weeks and thought I might die. The food was bland, boring and yes, doable, but terrible. I lost all but the last 10 pounds, but it wasn’t fun.

Life lately has taken a different turn for me. I now see a different way of life ahead of me.

Instead of wanting to just lose weight, I wanted to see the difference of how to live a truly organic, nutrition-filled – not food deprived – lifestyle.

Obviously if you’re reading this, you can tell that I’m fascinated with clean, healthy living. But I have NEVER mastered the art of completely eating the way I should. I do a fair job of it. I don’t eat dessert, I’ve cut out refined sugars, I make green drinks, but at some point during my day, I inevitably have that feeling of guilt for eating something that someone, somewhere once said “it’s not OK.”

The dialogue in my head typically goes like this:

Is that sandwich/bar/green drink/handful of nuts bad for me? The XYZ diet says this is a NO, but the ABC diet says this food is important. I need healthy fats, but did I eat too much of it? I’m still hungry, but I can’t have more than 10 nuts, so what do I eat now? Or should I just go hungry? Ugh, I’m starving. What can I eat? Does this contain dairy? How about soy? OK, so this says it’s “vital” wheat gluten for the bread. Can gluten really be that bad? This energy bar contains: soy, dairy, eggs and was processed in a plant that also processes tree nuts. Should I be allergic to nuts?…{insert brain overload here!!!}

And then I’d either eat it (whatever it was) anyway and felt super guilty, or I would have walked away and been starving.

That’s why I decided to do a 15-day detox through Optimal Vitality. I didn’t want a quick fix to losing weight. I wanted to learn about why we should or should not eat certain foods. I wanted to learn what reacted with my body, and WHY, after certain meals, I always looked like I was 6 months pregnant again (WHY?!!!).

For the program, we cut out wheat, nuts, dairy, egg, soy, corn and other toxins. I know I had a few people question why no nuts on my Instagram post, and the simple answer to that is to eliminate any possible reactors that might be causing my body harm. Smoothie photo

Pretty interesting, right? I loved every minute of it.

Yes, it was a ton of work. Yes, there were moments that I wanted to just eat something easy. Yes, I had to fix two meals for most of the detox (one for the kids, one for the hubs and me).

Here is what I did learn:

  • About the REAL taste of food. I now crave vegetables!
  • How fruits, vegetables, seeds, etc. could actually help heal my body instead of living in a constant state of inflammation.
  • That my children inevitably want a bite of whatever I’m eating and how much they loved random tastes! (Duly noted to continue to try new things with them.)
  • To be prepared. Having healthy food on hand is key to survival.
  • I could sleep better.
  • How to have more energy than I’ve ever had before. (I don’t need caffeine anymore!)

I’m still learning what is best for my body. I’ll admit, I have not been the best this last week. Life got in the way of my planning, and I didn’t add foods back in the right way. But I clearly had reactions to certain foods, and now I just have to figure out which ones caused those reactions.

I did lose about 10 pounds, and I’m thankful for that, but this wasn’t about losing weight. It was about how to feel better, eat clean, and really incorporate living an organic lifestyle.

If you want to learn the why behind what we eat, or if you’re looking to learn more about your body, I encourage you to try a detox. 

It’s so fun to learn about healthy living, and I can’t wait to learn more, and of course share with all of you.

 

 

My two little loves at Legoland

My two little loves at Legoland

It’s been a couple of weeks since I decided to deliberately take a break from posting and put my family first again. If I’m being honest, doing a blog can be overwhelming. I cannot believe how much social media has changed in four years.

There is a whole business to blogging — there are witty social posts, hashtags up the wazoo and groups dedicated to getting your readership up.  All of these things are great…if you have time. Well, I don’t have time to keep up.

I’m busy trying to raise two kids to look people in the eye instead of down at their Leap Pads. I’m busy trying to cook food for kids who prefer I put Kraft Mac and Cheese on their plates over the organic honey curry chicken I actually make them (they did eat it, by the way).

I’m also busy learning, teaching, cleaning, praying, building, growing, changing, etc…and so are you, and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if it’s not worth a post.

I was getting discouraged with feeling like I have nothing different to offer you. And maybe I don’t. But I do want to encourage you if you’re searching for your “thing” to not give up.

This statement is in direct contradiction to a lot of things in my life. My tendency has been to always give up – sports, dance, piano, competitive swimming, and worst of all – writing. I gave up on them all. I’ve always said I wanted to write a book, but never started because I didn’t know what to write about, get shut down or be judged. How is that for an excuse?!

Until now.

This past week the hubby and I watched Food, Inc. If you haven’t seen it, you should. I’ve been on this health food and fit lifestyle for awhile now, but it kicked into GO again after watching Food, Inc.

I’m so passionate about knowing what is in our food, how I can make it better for my kids, and how we can live to our fullest capacity. Our food supply has been cheapened, short-changed and is leaving us sick, bloated, and out-of-whack.

I am re-energized to write for you, learn from you and find others on this same journey. Yes, I want this blog to be a business someday, but first I want to make it enjoyable for you that are following me already.

I have absolutely found what I’m passionate about and I can’t get enough knowledge about this healthy lifestyle change. I have been my own worst critic in the past, and I’m shutting that down, praying for guidance and looking up in anticipation of this writing journey. I’m not exactly sure where this path will lead, but I have never been more excited about the unknown. I pray that if you haven’t found that passion already, that one day you will. It’s pretty amazing.

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Suat Eman

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Suat Eman

We’ve all heard it. Buy local. Reduce your carbon footprint. Visit farmer’s markets. Buy in season. Eat organic.

That’s great, but how does that translate if you like to eat out? Most people, including me and my family, visit major chain restaurants regularly.

It’s almost as if I have to throw out all of the rules to eating “right” when I go out to eat.

I usually would reserve my I-won’t-count-my-calories meal for when we’d go out to eat, but we have started to eat out a smidge more often, so I can’t apply that rule all of the time. However, I found that even with eating well, at the end of the night I could almost guarantee that my stomach would hurt or I’d be lethargic. (Side note: I gave up counting calories awhile ago and have never been happier and well fed, and haven’t gained any weight, which I will talk about in another post someday.)

Recently I’ve been on a mission to change that outcome. My hubby and I have decided to try new restaurants where we could have an experience, not just a meal. If we’re going to spend money on a meal out, I want to know what I’m getting rather than just a stomach ache at the end of the night. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to involve some elaborate setting or live band, but it does mean that we like seeking out quality over quantity. Quality service, knowledgeable staff, background on the food we are eating and of course, great, high quality food.

I realized that most of the time when I’d feel awful, it was due to some sort of chain restaurant. At the same time I had my aha moment, I started noticing a lot of restaurants that are catering toward the green-minded, real food crowd.

I see more menus with gluten free options, a background on the beef selection and a lot more organic, locally grown produce. We recently went to a restaurant with their own herb garden growing out back – amazing! (In case you’re wondering, that restaurant is The Black Marlin in Tustin, CA).

I have been so excited to see this trend! Not only do I typically leave feeling full and happy, but I don’t have a stomach ache when I get home.

While most chain restaurants keep me coming back for consistency in quality of service, food and overall experience, these local restaurants are winning me over quickly. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

These places are busy. I see more people talking about, recommending and dining in these great places. I hear the education behind the green movement. They’re talking to their customers on why they should eat certain ingredients (e.g. spinach has anti-inflammatory properties, beef is grass-fed, eggs are from cage-free chickens, etc.)

These local or smaller-chain restaurants are using better ingredients, avoiding fillers and chemicals, and produce comes from our local area instead of from across the country before it reaches our plates.

Some of our favorites are:

  • Green2Go in Brea, CA, which is casual and has local, organic produce.
  • The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim, CA, which features organic, fresh produce from their farm in Santa Ana.
  • Paul Martin’s American Grill, because they have locally sourced, seasonal food, but are a chain throughout California.

If you’re wondering where to find good quality restaurants in your community, the best place to start is to ask like-minded people. Do you shop at a local store that carries a wide-range of healthy, organic options? Chances are someone there might have a recommendation.

Another way we find our local eateries is through Yelp. We love reading the reviews about the restaurants before we try them.

Sometimes chain restaurants are the best option, and if I know I’m going to eat at one, I either know that I will be taking my chances on how I feel later, or I try to stick to proteins, veggies and healthy fats.

Also, if you have a favorite restaurant that you frequent, ask the manager if they’re considering including organic food. The demand for organic food is climbing dramatically, and isn’t going anywhere. You CAN make a difference in what you see in food availability!

Here are some statistics you might like:

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/detail.aspx?chartId=35003&#.U02sGOZdXRw

http://www.agmrc.org/markets__industries/food/organic-food-trends/