Day in and day out

It occurred to me today how much I do. A few months ago I was just a stay at home mom who really had nothing better to do than think up new healthy recipes for the family. Not that I was not constantly busy, I just felt like I had nothing to contribute to the conversation when someone asked, “What do you do?” It was that mission that got me to where I am today. I am proud to say that I am a mother. It is the most important job, and one I never thought I would do.

If you knew me a few years ago you probably would not recognize me today. I was so self centered, in an abusive relationship, I smoked cigarettes, and pot habitually, I never worked out, and I swore up and down that I would not EVER procreate. I am still selfish, but I would like to think it is in healthier ways, now. I listen to my body, and my intuition. I take care of my body, and my mental health. I quit smoking (both pot and cigarettes) over 4 years ago. I workout 5 days a week, I am engaged to my soul mate, and I have one beautiful amazing ingenious little girl, and two awesome, happy, loving talented step children.

Every day is a challenge, and I grow and learn daily. As a parent you know, that you can’t call out sick, you can’t clock out and take a lunch or even a break. You have to be “on” all of the time. It is exhausting. For me, I have to get these kids out of the house. It is summer, and they are bored. We go to the park Monday-Thursday, and those days we also have another mini adventure, whether it’s the pet store, the book store, the 99 cent store, the coffee shop… Anywhere, that is walking distance. I love walking places because it takes up time, it’s good for us, and it gives them more opportunity to learn. Things really don’t calm down around our house. There is always playing to do. We are fortunate to live close to the kid’s cousins, so it is always a full house. It is incredibly important for children to be around each other. I notice the kids blossoming daily as they play together. I’m not gonna lie, other kids are like a new toy, so if I need to get something done, I am thankful for a house full of kids! Play dates also make a huge difference. I have a standing play date every Tuesday morning. I LOVE Tuesday’s. I get mama to mama time, and the kids get play time!

Besides parenting, I have another important job. Cleaning. I don’t love to clean, but you would think it’s my favorite hobby because I am always doing it. I use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, and I am looking into making my own, as well. Why not? Save money, waste less, keep the environment for the kids clean and safe. I mention this only because it is a huge part of my life, and if it is not a huge part of yours… think about making some adjustments. I do a load of laundry Monday through Friday. It’s easy to wash and fold one a day, than five in one day. Keeping counters disinfected is imperative. Anywhere you prepare food should be clean. Bathrooms should be clean! We only have one bathroom, so for me, daily maintenance is required. Floors, too are nonnegotiable. I vacuum daily, and clean the kitchen and bathroom floors twice a week. Kids are always crawling and tumbling on the floor, and then reaching in the bowl or carrots that we are all snacking from.

My part time job is a mixture of coaching friends and clients in the ways of a healthier lifestyle, including nutrition, fitness and organization. I recently started this blog, and I have a Facebook fan page. I love that I have this as an option, and wish I had began sooner. I really enjoy this, and it keeps me accountable. When I think about what to feed the kids, or myself for that matter, I think, would I blog this?

Mothers wear so many hats, and I think we are blessed with the ability to maintain so many important jobs. I am constantly amazed by the mothers I know. And I appreciate all of the support and guidance. You are rock stars! You probably don’t feel like one because you have spaghetti in your hair, your kids are still not in bed, and god you need a drink! I know, I’m there sometimes, too. You are doing awesome things, you  created life, and you are sustaining it. Whether you want to or not, sometimes.

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Easy Healthy Food

We all run into this problem, your kids are hungry, or you are hungry, you’re busy and don’t feel like making food, I mean, what do you make?? There is a Mc Donald’s down the street, a can of spaghetti o’s in the counter, and you just want to stop your rumbling tummy, or the whining kiddos. What do you do? Well, it’s only $1.00 for a double cheese burger, and if you went to the store it would take so long, and what would you make, anyway? Or you just grab the can opener…

I don’t do either of those things, and yes I do spend time in the kitchen. Healthy eating is a commitment,  but it does not have to be difficult for every meal. (For those of you who know me personally, you now I do not enjoy cooking, but my kids are worth it, and, you know what, so am I.) I choose a day, usually Sunday, and I get all the ingredients together for the week, and I prepare them. I puree the veggies I will be sneaking into the food, I cook up and season the veggie sausage that I put on nachos and pasta, I cook up the soyrizo I put in tacos or nachos, I slice bananas, I soak shrimp in curry, I make guacamole for tacos, nachos or snacks, and I make a box or quinoa (with black beans and a veggie puree.) for the nachos,  tacos, burritos, curry, and my easy lunches. I have a lot of tupperware, and I just put everything in the fridge (I freeze the purees and bananas, though because I like putting them in smoothies.) If you are a meat eater, I would cook chicken, or pork chops to add to food as well.

It it so worth it to get everything started, because all of a sudden, it’s lunch time, what do you choose? My favorite midday food is a bowl or quinoa and black beans with melted (soy) cheese and guacamole and a tomato (the purple ones from Trader Joe’s with some pepper are awesome!) Sometimes I will add a tortilla, and salsa. It takes 5 minutes to prepare.

Tacos are quick, tortillas, quinoa with back beans, shrimp (just add some pepper and lime) or soyrizo, cut up some cabbage or lettuce, I love jalapinos, so I add that. And salsa!!

You can very easily make your own chips with raw tortillas, or use coconut oil to make your won chips, just brush with oil and pop in the oven. If it’s a really lazy day, I love the flax seed veggie chips from Trader Joe’s. You can dip your chips in guacamole, I use all fresh ingredients, tomatoes, lots of limes, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, basil (my FAVORITE herb!!!) cayanne pepper, black pepper, and avacados, of course. Acacados have healthy fat, so no guilt! I love to top nachos with guacamole!

Curry is delicious, I have been doing it the lazy way, Trader Joe’s has really good jars of curry, I soak shrimp until we are ready for food, and add tofu, and heat it up on the stove, add seasonings and pour it over quinoa or brown rice.

(I swear Trader Joe’s does not pay me!) Trader Joe’s also has really yummy ravioli in the refrigerated section. Personally, I could live on the butternut squash ravioli, and the lobster ravioli. The ravioli takes about 4 minutes, and a sauce is quick, I still use animal friendly butter, and garlic, basil, and rosemary… and I always add spice, a jalapeno, or cayanne. You can add sage to the butternut squash, and (shhhh don’t tell… a little brown sugar) I also put shrimp in the lobster sauce.

Pasta is so easy! You can choose the noodles you like, brown rice, wheat, spaghetti squash, you name it, and I add the fake meat sausage which I already seasoned, and purred carrot or red bell pepper to the sauce.

Don’t forget smoothies! I love giving the kiddos a smoothies with a meal. I add frozen fruits and veggie puree, maybe some almond milk. I love flax seed meal, and sometimes nuts, or dark chocolate chips. I also have a shake that I drink every day, and I add the powder to the kids shake.

I also buy lots of nuts and make my own trail mix, it’s the easiest snack. And snack time for kids is a piece of cake, I have lots of fruits and veggies, I just cut them up and up bowls out with various dips.

I know it is a challenge to make a healthy easy food, but I promise it is possible. Let me know if you have preferences, I can help you find a system that works for you! I have a friend who is breast feeding and is looking for easy meals that are wheat, soy, nut and dairy free, because her son has allergies. I am feeling for her her, and hoping she can find alternatives. If you have any ideas, please post them to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/isahealthymama or comment here!!!

Support System… We all need one

My sister, one of my biggest supporters!
My sister, one of my biggest supporters!

When I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle I honestly expected everyone to be so excited for me, want to join me and want all of our conversations to be monopolized by fitness. This was not the case. I was so disappointed to find that not many people cared (Because the world does not revolve around me), and most of the ones that did, were not encouraging. I was met with the pity head shakes, “You’ll never last, how can you live without bacon?” and the people who didn’t understand the concept that being healthy and being thin are not the same thing. “But you are already so skinny! You don’t need to lose weight!”

My fiance and me celebrating my second 25th birthday!
My fiance and me celebrating my second 25th birthday!

A part of me was so discouraged, however, those of you who know me are fully aware that my response was to take it up a notch. Shooting down my dreams is just not an option. It is not always easy though. Taking your own food to a BBQ… it raises eye brows. Not having any fun food for your friends is awkward. Sticking to your workout schedule even though you are invited out looks anti social. But going to the BBQ and A) Not eating, is worse because you may miss a meal which is not going to help, and in my case makes me so cranky! or B) Eat the naughty hot dogs from who knows where, and then you’re left feeling guilty and potentially with an upset stomach! Having junk food in the house is just a temptation. If it’s there in it’s bright wrapper begging you to indulge, eventually you will, and you won’t like the effects. Missing a workout just screws up my whole day! I’m not saying that occasionally it’s not ok to have a cheat day, but I guarantee those will be less and less the cleaner you eat.

Visiting my bestie in Colorado! She picked me up from the airport in a limo!
Visiting my bestie in Colorado! She picked me up from the airport in a limo!
Pool party!
Pool party!

This is where a support system comes in. Those three to five people you know will stick by you, won’t accept excuses, and will encourage you on your path. Without a support system failure is just around the corner. You may only have three people you can talk to about health and wellness, they may not even be your closest friends. I can’t talk to my close friends about my health obsession, however I have a few friends who are like-minded and it makes all the difference.

two of my besties
two of my besties

 

Cinderelee, Cinderelee

Do you ever feel like all you do is cook and clean?? Here is an example of 5 minutes in my life:

I’m doing the dishes.
“He hit me!”
Time out. Back to dishes.
“I’m hungry!”
Prepare snack. Back to dishes.
“I need something to drink!” (At which point I say something like, how do you ask, and you know how to get your own water)
“I don’t waaaaant waterrr!”
Roll eyes. Continue doing dishes.
“So and so spilled water!”
Get rag and clean up the mess. Dishes… Again.

This is exactly what happens whenever I do anything that needs to be done, and more so if I am doing something I (gasp) want to do, and this is why my workouts take place outside of my home! And I’m totally aware that it is my fault that the kids think I’m a slave, When my daughter first began communicating with words (Very early) I did basically anything she asked because I was encouraging verbal communication. Now everything is a demand, and they all look at me like I’m nuts because I want a please and thank you. I’m venting a little, honestly usually they are very polite, but they have those days where I feel like Cinderella. Today I spent the afternoon running up and down the stairs doing laundry, vacuuming, preparing food (So glad we had snap peas and carrots, because that made snack time simple.), mopping the floors, you know typical mom jobs, and I was interrupted multiple times during each chore. It gets so frustrating! And it certainly didn’t help that the kids were all cranky today. I don’t know if it’s a full moon tonight, or what, but these kids have been emotional, snotty, crabby and irritable all day.

It’s a thankless job, being a mom. regardless of how your kids treat you, you will still get out of bed before you want to, you will clean up messes that you did not make, you will prepare food, (and in my case spend time researching, reading, pureeing, and discussing their food) you will make beds that have somehow been filled with dishes, wash, dry and fold laundry and pull hot wheels out of pockets, vacuum cheerios, pull stickers off of walls, comb tangled hair and never read that (dusty) book you left on your bedside table. And for some crazy reason, when your babies say I love you, your heart melts and you are recharged.

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The way it was, and the way it is now

A couple years ago I lived on fast food, I refused to go to the grocery store and I hated cooking. I also smoked a pack a day. I am ashamed to admit that while I was pregnant my food group consisted of Taco Bell, Del Taco, and Carl’s Jr. I quit smoking the week I found out I was pregnant (more because I was too nauseated to even think of a cigarette) but I had every intention of smoking the minute I left the hospital. I had no intention of breast feeding, either. Thinking back, I was so self destructive. No wonder I was depressed!

It was not until my daughter, Jo was born that I began making healthier choices, I think at that point my baby was real, up until then it was just this parasite sucking the life out of me. I made the decision to breast feed, even though I had no milk (milk production is strongly influenced by your mindset, the more you look at, love and connect with your baby, the more milk you will produce. And I think since my mindset was so far from parenting my breasts had no idea that they had a job to do.) Luckily after weeks of pain and sleepless nights, she finally latched. That experience is the one I look back at and think, wow, something was finally bigger than me. I had been so self centered my entire life, and this little person changed everything.

When Jo was about 14 months old I gave up fast food. I started going to the grocery store and slowly making healthier and healthier choices. By 19 months I had not spent a night away from her. I literally had no life, and that is when I started getting restless. Coincidentally this is when I weaned her, I’m sure that had a lot to do with the sudden loneliness that took me over. This is when I had to throw myself into another project, Project Me. I am still perfecting it.

The biggest change I made was cutting out meat. I am a pescatarian, I started out as one, actually, but if I have learned anything about healthy habits I know that they evolve. And my diet has continued to get cleaner and cleaner. A pescatarian does eat fish and sea food, but no other meat, no cow, pig, bird etc. And I do still eat eggs (Cage free!). Why did I give up meat? At first because I noticed that I made healthier choices when meat was not involved. Because, let’s face it, I may have given up fast food, but the temptation for a jalapeno burger and fries from Carl’s Jr was still there. You can easily gain weight when you make a change like I did if you do not add guidelines. Example: If you stop eating meat and switch to cheese pizza from Toppers instead of pepperoni… That is not any healthier, so if you make a change, be sure to incorporate it further than simply, I’m not eating that food anymore, commit to making your meals healthier.

Like I said, at first I gave up meat to encourage better choices. That is when I began watching documentaries. Food Inc. and Food Matters and more recently Hungry For Change. Now i have moral issues with eating meat. However, my kids do eat meat (grass fed, cage free, free range, no hormones added yadayadayada). And they don’t eat meat often. I still give them meat because I want them to make their own choices when they are old enough, for now I feel that it would be unfair to force a meatless diet on them because then they will never be able to choose for themselves, and unlike religion, if I took meat away now, their bodies would never be able to process meat. After research I found that green veggies are full of protein, calcium, fiber, vitamin c, folic acid… The list goes on. So I limit meat, and cut out dairy. The trick is getting kiddos to eat green food!

It has taken years, and I’m sure more changes will come, I can see my diet shifting slightly every few months, maybe I will switch to a plant based diet, for now, I focus on buying fresh fruits and veggies, and avoiding packaged foods. I work out 5 days a week, usually I run 2-3 miles and I do yoga or Pilates to work my core. Personally, I need my workout time because it is the only real “Me Time”. I encourage you to find some YOU time. While nourishing your body, and your children will go a long way, giving yourself that gift of time allotted just for you, doing something you want to do, especially if it is a physical activity will make the biggest difference!!

*I mention religion because it is another moral decision, and while I won’t choose their faith, they will always have a chance to make that choice
**I understand, however that MANY parents take meat out of the house, and I support that choice!! I also support families who do eat meat, I just ask that you know where your food is coming from
***I was inspired to write about my diet after reading my friends blog (http://rachaeljordanpages.blogspot.com/2012/07/child-autonomy-im-vegan-but-my-toddler.html?spref=fb) You should check her out, especially if you are vegan!

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This is my first time

Being a mom you tend to lose yourself. My goal is to find myself, nurture myself, love myself and help my children learn to do the same for themselves. My job right now is to nurture them, feed them, parent them, love them, and encourage them. That is a huge job, and I just don’t have a lot of time to do those things for myself, even though here I am writing about how I need to love myself. Accountability. That is one purpose for this blog. The other is to share my journey and encourage other parents out there to do the same.

One of the best ways to love your kiddos, and yourself is changing your diet. I don’t mean go on a diet, I mean a life style change. And baby steps is the way to go on this one. If you incorporate healthy foods into your life they will eventually take over. Swap your white rice with brown rice. One of my secrets to feeding my kids and myself veggies is pureeing veggies and then freezing them in baggies (don’t forget to date and label the bags!) I throw pureed carrots into the pasta sauce (Try spaghetti squash or wheat pasta) Nobody will know they are eating carrots! I put pureed kale in smoothies, spinach on pita pizzas. you name it, I try to sneak veggies in there!

Now this part is all about me, but it makes a huge difference for the entire family. I work out. I go running five days a week, and I add some Pilates or yoga. If I don’t my anxiety is out of control. The nice thing about working out is that I feel better about myself, I am more confident and when I reach fitness goals I am so proud of myself! (And it doesn’t hurt to have an hour to myself a couple days a week, either!) But lets go back to baby steps. Just like slowly incorporating healthier food into your diet, slowly add physical activity. Walk to the park with the kids, or the dog, or your significant other. Just walk once a day. Slowly build yourself up to going for a jog, or maybe lifting weights. Make goals and start small.

I plan to post recipes, journal my challenges, and document my successes!

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