Wednesday: Enough.

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When have I done Enough? When have I eaten Enough of the right things? When have I completed Enough workouts?  The simple answer is never if you intend to get in shape, stay in shape and just be a healthy you.  Your life ends exactly when it is supposed to, but you are responsible for giving yourself the very best chance of living the best one you can live.

Is there a magic number of oil changes you can get for your car before it runs for eternity with no issues? Is there a magic number of times you can sweep your floor before no more what-nots collect on it? Is there a magic number of times you go to work before you boss says you don’t have to do anything, but he will still send you a paycheck? You don’t have to get oil changes, but your car will rebel. You don’t have to sweep your floors, but the ecosystem that soon develops within your home will make you regret it.  You don’t have to go to work, but you know how that story ends.  Your body is no different.  It requires regular and permanent maintenance for health.  Part of that maintenance is also rest.  Go ahead – work out twice a day, get down to that envied 15% body fat, and run yourself into the ground.  Your heart will still give out, because you didn’t take rest as seriously as you made everything else.

Balance, people. It’s a good word. Exercise. Eat right. Rest. Play. Be quiet, and pay attention to life, to love, to your kids, to your family, to everything that makes you smile. Life is a beautiful thing, and it’s the only one you’ve got. Make it mean Enough to make the most you can every day you get to open your eyes.

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Valuable Vicissitude.

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Change is isn’t always welcome, but sometimes it ends up being a very good thing.  My husband and I began our keto path a few months ago, and for months we experienced great results.  We felt better.  Clothes fit better.  Everything was better, for a while.  I went to the doctor after several episodes of the worst stomach acid I had felt since pregnancy, only to discover the culprit was linked to my recent diet Change.  The excess grease in the meat and fried stuff I was eating wasn’t wearing well on my stomach, so at doctor’s orders it had to Change.  Greasy bacon, frying yummy this-and-thats in butter, deliciously rich and heavy meat, and acidic foods are all out.  I was literally sad to cut out bacon and fried eggs, but oatmeal and poached eggs have actually been more filling and better on my digestion than any other breakfast.  I have been finding ways to incorporate more green vegetables — cucumbers for snacks, zoodles and asparagus with everything, and I was so happy to bring sweet potatoes (my favorite) back into my daily fold.  My husband had hit a plateau in the keto diet, so going back to a relatively clean and balanced plan was a good Change for his palate, too.

Since I had to make such a drastic overhaul in my kitchen, it seemed fitting to Change my workout regime.  I started taking barre classes (not bartending classes, as my brother thought I said at a family dinner).  I took ballet as a child, and I always loved the thought of at least appearing graceful —- because no matter how many hours a week I was at that place, grace was not accomplished.  It was so enjoyable, though, and I did gain a lot of flexibility and coordination.  I thought it would be a different and fun Change from vigorous strength training, and man, was I so right on.  The class utilizes a ballet bar and movements, along with yoga and intense stretching, focusing on lower body and core strength.  I have discovered and lengthened muscles in my legs and torso I didn’t even know I had, and those classes paired with a once or twice weekly yoga class at the rec center have provided me with an efficient kick start to the long and lean body I wanted.  My clothes are still fitting better.  I am sleeping better.  Life is better.

I love bacon, but it doesn’t love me.  I love weight training, but it is too much stress on my body right now.  I didn’t want to give up anything or overhaul my lifestyle again.  I didn’t want to write up new meal plans and grocery shopping lists or find a new place to work out.  I also don’t want to take these stupid pills for the rest of my life, and when we go to New York for Christmas I would really like to be able to enjoy food to its fullest potential.  Change can be good, but you have to give it permission and perspective to do so.

Esculent Elixir.

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Food is medicine.  I didn’t want to use that title, because it’s over-used and boring.  Sometimes truth is boring, because we hear it over and over again and really didn’t want to hear it the first time.

Pure food may be boring to some, because we would prefer it to be sauced up and slathered, coated and covered in all types of goodness to prevent us from having to recognize the goodness in simplicity.  The simplicity, however, is where the medicine lies.  Nothing has to be done to a fruit or a vegetable to provide us with nutrients other than maybe disregarding a peeling, root or leaf.  The nutrients are so apparent they can be seen in bright, deep colors.  So when any produce is prepared, protecting the color protects the nutrients.  It’s that simple.  Meat can be dressed with a sprinkle of natural seasoning, and it doesn’t always have to be salt.  That’s way too simple.

Taking a pill can’t always be replaced with eating nutrient rich food, but the number of illnesses that can be remedied or helped with replacing certain foods with better choices are too many to count.  Inflammation is at the root of most disease and illness reported in this country, and it is pretty disheartening to know how much of it is 100% preventable with diet and exercise.  I read a woman’s quote from her old-school grandfather who said, “If you don’t want to get fat, don’t put that biscuit in your mouth.”  Sometimes the most black and white advice is the simplest — and hardest to hear — of all.

Truth-Tellin’ Tuesday.

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I’m about to lay it down for you.  Ready?  Ketogenic is not Atkins.  There, I said it.  I feel like it needs to be shouted from a mountaintop, because now I am reading celebrity  fitness gurus make comments like, “Keto is just Atkins repackaged.”  Here’s the basic run down.

Atkins = No limit on protein, including red meat and pork.  Anything without carbs goes.  So deep fry everything as long as it’s coated in pork rinds, smother everything in cheese and salt, and don’t forget all your Atkins products in the diet isle of your grocery store.  If it says “low carb” on the package, eat it, regardless of the processing or ingredients.  Make sure you eat the fattiest burgers and greasiest bacon you can find, too.

Keto = Moderate protein, high healthy fat, low carb (as a product of low sugar).  The focus of keto is good fat, not greasy protein.  The kind of fat that benefits your blood, your brain and your gut.  The kind of fat that does not typically result in heartburn, constipation or ulcers.  Unsaturated fat, the best form of which can be found in salmon, avocados, most nuts, some seeds and olive oil.  A handful of berries can be incorporated daily as well to help with cravings, and plant-based, non-cancer-causing, non-aspirin-aftertaste sugar substitutes work in almost every dessert recipe.

Strict keto takes a little research and planning when you shop and when you consume.  It can also easily be accomplished through a clean diet, which is what the celebrity quoted above preaches.  Rely on mostly fresh or frozen foods and limit your processed goods to absolute necessity items.  Do without red meat altogether or find lean versions.  Uncured meats can be found in most stores now, and they aren’t expensive.  Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because you read this or any other publication, though.  Talk to people who are following a keto regime.  Get several different versions of health benefit and weight loss stories.  When I read the news I look at ten versions, and then I make my own conclusion.  Your health is even more important than that.  Research what works for you.  Then research it some more, because new studies come out all the time.  Try it, tweak it for your schedule and your family, then do some Truth-Tellin’ of your own.

(Note:  Pictured above are walnuts, almonds, smoked salmon and avocado.  Walnuts are not the best choice for unsaturated fat, but that’s all I had other than almonds in my pantry.  Try almonds, cashews, filberts, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans or pistachios.)

 

 

 

Indubitably Monday.

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This morning my children returned home for Monday homeschool, following Starbucks and a bad night’s sleep.  My daughter was double-fisted and sugar-bound with a caramel frappucino and chocolate chip muffin.  My son had an iced green tea and a protein box.  Half way through their first lesson of the day C fell asleep, and T was in the bathroom with a stomach ache.  They are exhausted and unfocused.  Although Mondays are Indubitably rough even on a perfect morning, we will get through it the way we get through all the others.  It will just mean more meltdowns, lower grades and a much longer day.

Our remedies are pretty bullet-proof, when my husband and I can control the environment. When we can’t, who is to blame?  As a Mom, my nature is fix now and find the culprit so I don’t have to fix again.  As a strong Mom I also have to figure out how to make the vest a little thicker and fences a little higher to prevent battles from happening in the first place.  When they stay at someone else’s house, is it my son’s fault when he doesn’t sleep?  I could argue both ways.  When my daughter is given the choice between sugar and a healthier option, how much responsibility is on her for making a good choice for her body? That one is debatable as well.  Right now she is suffering the natural consequence of a stomach ache, but if she would not have had the option for sugar the consequence wouldn’t prohibit her from having a clear head.

Bottom line, my job as a parent is to educate in leading by example, giving information and sometimes giving consequences.  My job as an adult when other adults don’t make good decisions for my kids is to ask questions and make requests, knowing that my ability to control the outcome is limited.  Indubitably today is Monday.  School work and disappointments are inevitable.  Knowledge isn’t knowledge unless it is tested.  Sometimes that test is a nap at your desk and some Pepto.

Fierce Friday.

Hubby says I need to post more about workouts.  So here goes.

I like to try new stuff, especially if it seems fun, if I can do it with my man, if I think I will see results and if the new stuff won’t kill me. We did Body For Life for a few months last year, but we were a little over zealous and increased our lifting weight too fast. We each acquired small but powerful injuries and lost interest. Then I asked my personal trainer/world champion powerlifter nephew to help us out with some new workouts. He whipped us back into shape, but then finances would not allow us to keep paying him. We took a couple of months off, gained some weight, got frustrated again and needed to find another answer. Jillian Michaels got us into shape again, but TBH she wasn’t the avenue we wanted. We were tired of being tired. We missed strength training. We missed the power in lifting weights and the energy we gained from it. 

I looked up Bill Phillips, the Body For Life author, and saw he created a new workout for his new, later phase of life. We have been doing it for two weeks, and WOW. It is exactly what we needed. We feel the boost after every workout. We are taking it slow and gaining strength. We are just happier, a little sore, but not flat-out exhausted every day. We found what works for us, even though it meant changing our routine.  We didn’t defeat ourselves by being a slave to finishing a program that wasn’t right for us. We found our groove, and it’s a really good song.

Merry Belly Monday

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This just happened.  These beautiful bread-like somethings are Keto Sandwich Rolls.  We had them as tuna melts for lunch today, and they were heavenly.  Made with almond flour, psyllium husk powder, apple cider vinegar, egg whites, salt and baking powder, they are not only superior in nutritional value but also in simplicity to make.  I literally spent five minutes mixing the dough, a minute forming the rolls and 50 minutes baking.  Now we can have hamburgers, hot dogs (this dough can also be formed into hot dog buns) and buttered bread snacks like everyone else without the useless carbs and sugar.

I have been able to manage my sweet tooth with a handful of berries each day and with the occasional keto sweet treat, and now I can manage my bread cravings, too.  I will be trying my hand at keto pasta this week, and with that all my cravings on this keto path will be under my toned thumb.

Don’t take the easy way out and tell yourself or anyone else, “I can’t eat that.”  It’s negative and defeating, and it will ruin your goals.  Do your research and find substitutions that make your belly Merry.  Eating to live involves a bit of an overhaul to your food way of thinking if you didn’t grow up that way, so get creative if you’re bored.  Research solutions for your nutrition goals, and make the process fun.  I spend every Sunday afternoon looking up recipes, revisiting old ones I may be able to revamp, grocery shopping and meal prepping when necessary.  It gives me time to recenter my head around what I want to achieve in my nutrition for the week, and reminds me of the importance of keeping the health of me and my family a priority.

Training Tuesday

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Methods of preparation do not always come easy for me, so this was a process I was so grateful to complete and reap the benefits of limiting our stress in the morning.

I cooked two packages of uncured bacon Sunday night and put the bag in the fridge as well as some leftover pancakes I froze a couple of weeks ago.  Sunday night I also made a dozen super easy egg, cheese, onion, pesto and bacon muffins and keto-friendly pancakes for me and my man.  My daughter is into chocolate protein shakes now, so I made a batch of protein powder mixed with our homemade chocolate milk mix (made with coconut sugar and cocoa).  We won’t have to cook breakfast one single day this week, but we can still have all homemade and healthy items at our fingertips.  We enjoy options and convenience.  This was a very good thing.

This Training Tuesday I reflect on how to make our lives easier by Training me — and my family — how to prepare so we can save ourselves heartache later.  I’m not the expert, but my best is always good enough for us.

Modest Commission Thursday.

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Confession:  I am not the best planner.  I am not a procrastinator, just not a great planner.  I underestimate time and take on far more than I should in the span of time I have allotted.  So I end up with not enough time and believing I have to accomplish it all myself, as if I don’t have a husband and four children who are all fully capable and willing to help.  Yesterday when I started running out of time, I assigned tasks to everyone.  Hubby had previously agreed to make his famous tortillas. The boy made taco meat.  T made salsa.  Garza girls made a chocolate cake and guacamole.  Simple tasks no boss threatened me to accomplish, just tasks I thought I had to do by myself. It all turned out amazing, and for our guests, who could feel more welcomed than by a genuine family-cooked meal made by all our hands?  It was a Modest Commission that released me from all sorts of stress and pressure, and I was so grateful.  The meal and fellowship for all of us was beautiful and a blessing, and as our friends left with a bag of tortillas, our hearts and bellies were full.

Added bonus:  Monsters also started doing their own laundry this week.

Magic Monday.

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Do you ever have dessert after breakfast, just that extra sweet something after your savory?  This morning after all our eggs and sausage we had cheesecake.  Yes, I said it.  Cheesecake.  It was Magic. See, my sweet cravings on this keto regime have not been completely kicked or governed, so I had to take drastic measures and search like a madwoman for a low carb, high fat dessert not involving artificial sweeteners that leave the taste of melted aspirin in my mouth.  I found my baking BFF in Swerve.  Swerve is the pretty name for erythritol, and it is the most perfect sugar substitute I have ever used.  It is completely plant-based and has no aftertaste.  I used it in the cheesecake recipe, and those in my family who call themselves connoisseurs could not tell it had no sugar. We had it at breakfast, some for snack and again after dinner.

Today I discovered the Magic in all these methods of health discovery, and oh, what a blessed discovery it was.  My mouth was smiling, my scale and digestion are not complaining, and my sweet tooth is once again under my reign.

(Recipe to follow tomorrow.)