Four Little Changes

The first time Josh used the juicer. 12/26/13

The first time Josh used the juicer. 12/26/13

Since my last two posts were about food, I thought I’d keep up the trend for one more post to tell you about some major food-related changes that have taken place at our house. These have probably been brewing in the background for quite some time, as Josh and I love to watch food/nutrition documentaries, but November and December collided together in the perfect storm to effect real change in our household. I’ll spare you the details, but Josh has really spearheaded this change within our family. He has struggled with some health issues since college, and, after a trip to the emergency room, followed by a recommended physical, he decided that it was really time for things to change.

To gear up for our big change, we revisited some of our favorite documentaries. (My favorites are Food Matters and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.) Next, we looked at the recommendations offered by Josh’s doctor, did a some internet research and discussed our nutritional goals for our family. We were able to come up with some new nutritional guidelines for our family pretty quickly. It was a smooth process because we found ourselves agreeing on what was important and what stood out to us the most. We’ve been implementing and tweaking our new guidelines over the last couple of months, and here is where we’ve landed. We’re both pretty pleased with what we’re currently doing, but that’s not to say our nutritional habits won’t continue to evolve and mature.

  1. We’ve started juicing. We were really lucky to be able to “purchase” an amazing juicer for free through the “perk points” program at my husband’s company. Basically, he earns points for meeting various goals at work, and we get to “spend” the points on awesome stuff. Without the upfront cost of investing in a juicer, we were able to implement this immediately. We aren’t juicing as a cleanse or a meal replacement, rather as a means of acquiring much needed nutrients. Every morning before work Josh makes a green juice. He consumes a full juice, usually around 30 ounces, but he makes me a slightly smaller juice, around 20 ounces or so. Most mornings, it’s Joe Cross’ Mean Green juice, but other mornings, we just juice whatever fruits and veggies we have lying around. Sometimes we get creative, and sometimes we find inspiration on juicerecipes.com. Some days we juice more than once, but we always do it in the mornings.
  2.  We’ve eliminated most grains from our diet. For us, this means no bread, pasta, or rice. In the interest of full discloser, I’ll admit that I still have a canister of white flour on my counter, although it only gets used for thickening soups and whatnot. We also chose not to eliminate oatmeal or granola. That being said, we’ve cut out a huge chunk of the grains we were consuming. It’s taken a bit of effort on my part to adjust to this, as we relied very heavily on grains at meal time. Nearly every lunch and dinner contained rice or pasta and often bread too. Breakfast was very bread heavy: muffins, biscuits, pancakes, etc. Learning how to cook without such a heavy reliance on those grains has been a bit tricky for me, but I’m finally getting the hang of it.
  3. We’ve eliminated all processed food. I’ve been working on this one for a while now. I had already implemented a “5 ingredient rule.” That being, if the label had more than 5 ingredients, it was too processed and we wouldn’t buy it. There were also a few no-no ingredients that automatically disqualified a food, such as high fructose corn syrup or chemical sweeteners. However, I often let this rule slide when it was convenient for me. For example, we still leaned heavily on frozen waffles, breakfast cereals, and frozen pizzas. Convenience was often a trump card here. Now the trump card has been thrown out the window. We’re not eating any processed food. When we go to the grocery store, we only shop on the perimeter of the store. Pretty much everything down the aisles is off limits.
  4. No fast food. This is another one that has been slowly evolving. We had already eliminated most fast food chains, but there were a couple (okay, one in particular) that I truly loved and wouldn’t cut out. I rationalized that their ingredients were much more legit than other places, but, after reading their actual ingredient lists, I realized I was so very wrong. The chicken may actually be real chicken, but it’s so chemical laden that it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, we were eating at my beloved fast food establishment at least once a week, but no more. It has finally been banned for good, along with all other fast food places.
2014-01-24 12.41.26

This is what the kids chose for lunch one day recently. SO much better than frozen pizza!

These four little changes have made a huge impact on our health in the very short time we’ve been faithful to them. Josh has lost 30 lbs, is sleeping better at night (probably because he’s no longer snoring), and has more energy than I’ve seen him have in years. We’re very much looking forward to his next doctor appointment to see what his blood work has to say about all of this.

I haven’t lost any weight (which was never my goal. I’m not trying to diet, just get healthy.) but I also haven’t gained any weight since the end of November. Considering I’m in my third trimester, that’s rather remarkable. At this point, I should be gaining weight, and somewhat rapidly. The baby is measuring great and is strong and healthy. This means that the reason my weight isn’t changing is because I’m loosing fat on my body while my baby continues to grow and be nourished. This is the only conclusion that makes sense to me, since I no longer have those pesky love handles that make it so difficult to look good in anything, pregnant or not. Also, people who see me all the time keep telling me that I’m “glowing.” I know this is something people supposedly say to pregnant women, but this is my 5th pregnancy, and no one has ever told me that I’m “glowing” before. All I can figure is the increased nutrients I’m consuming must be having a positive effect on my skin and complexion. I also feel better than I’ve ever felt this far along in a pregnancy. While I am obviously tired and achy, it is much less pronounced than it has ever been before.

Just to be clear, neither of us are “dieting” or restricting our food intake in any way. We both eat whenever we are hungry and we consume all we desire to fill ourselves up. The only restrictions we have imposed are the 4 little rules above. Despite that, we both feel great and are loosing weight in the process. Imagine what will happen with a little exercise or strength training added!

We are both so very pleased with the results of these changes that these guidelines have truly become lifestyle changes, despite the short time we’ve been following them. There is no reason that we would ever go back to the stuff that we were consuming before. If anything, we may continue to evolve and mature to eliminate even more (such as the oats and granola, or maybe even some dairy!) as we fall more in love with the benefits of living in a properly nourished body.

To Love Somebody

coke-parenting-hed-2013You know you’re pregnant when Coke commercials from other countries make you cry. Nevertheless, I love this commercial. It almost makes me want to go buy a Coke…despite the fact that I don’t really like Coke. Maybe I’ll like the new Coke Life if we ever get it here.

(Unrelated sidebar: I’m super impressed that Coke made a diet drink without aspartame. I truly know nothing about stevia, other than it exists, but I’m glad to see a move away from the former.)

Go ahead. Watch it. It’s a commercial. It’s short.

Feel free to nod in agreement, pull your hair out in frustration, and weep with joy at the succinct, true, and beautiful message this commercial sends.

I think I’ve watched it 300 times in the 48 hours I’ve been aware of it’s existence…and, yes, I tear up every time. (I’m going to blame it on the hormones, but I really think it’s just seeing this great reflection of the chaos and the beauty that I lovingly refer to as parenting.)

My Choice?

This is the rhetoric of pro-choice feminists. As a woman who has chosen to have a family, I can attest that this is certainly not the reality these feminists have created.

This is the rhetoric of pro-choice feminists. As a woman who has chosen to have a family, I can attest that this is certainly not the reality these feminists have created.

Recently, I shared some of my hope for what life would be like in a society that accepts and embraces women in their totality. Today, I’m going to share some of the pain I experience living in a society that doesn’t.

Every time I hear the phrase, “My body. My choice.” I vomit a little.

Seriously.

Ok…not seriously.

But it makes me incredibly angry.

The women who coined this phrase don’t really mean it. They mean that they will wholeheartedly support any woman who does not want to be saddled with the burden of pregnancy, children, and family life. They will fight to the death (tragically, I have to say no pun intended) to ensure that a woman will never be forced to shoulder these responsibilities if she doesn’t want to.

But what if she does want to?

By their own logic, it seems that a woman should also be able to CHOOSE pregnancy, children, and family life. If that’s what she wants, more power to her. Right?

Sadly, I know first-hand that the reverse is simply not true.

They do not support women who want to be pregnant, who want to raise children, and who want to devote their lives to their families. And, unfortunately, this lack of support doesn’t stop with them, but extends to society at large.

I can’t begin to count how many snide, rude, and downright cruel comments have been made to me and my children when we dare venture out in public. Men occasionally make comments about my workload, “My, you’ve got your hands full…” But they rarely, if ever, have anything ugly to say. Women, on the other hand, are often vicious in their commentary, and have no qualms about questioning the need for my children’s existence right in front of them. Interestingly, when my husband takes the kiddos out in public alone, he never gets nasty comments, only praise and admiration.

I’m certainly not looking for praise and admiration. I haven’t chosen my family life for the sake of what others think. But it would definitely be nice if I didn’t feel like I was preparing for battle every time I left the house. It would be nice if I didn’t have to rehearse witty answers about my knowledge of the reproductive process or my ability to provide financially for the little ones that have been entrusted to my care on the way to the store. It would be nice if I didn’t have to warn my children that if someone is nasty to us at the store, they should simply smile or stand there quietly because mommy will handle it. It seems funny that a group who loves to make posters about “rosaries on their ovaries” and “government in their bedrooms” has no issues busting up into my bedroom in the checkout line at the grocery store. Double standard much?

I don’t need a reason to have a child. And I certainly don’t need your permission. My children have a right to exist. More than that, they are a gift. Each child brings a new spark, new joy, and a new dynamic to our family. I am so grateful for each one of them.

When questioned by strangers if she’s “done yet” my girlfriend, also a mother of four, joyfully replies, “I certainly hope not!” I couldn’t agree with her more.

It makes me so sad to know that it doesn’t matter how much I love and want my children. The fact is, the world doesn’t want them. The world thinks they don’t deserve to exist. But I can’t understand why. Why would you not love these precious, irrepeatable, bundles of joy and laughter and creativity. Aren’t those good things? Why can’t the world want more of that? But even if you don’t want more of that, isn’t it supposed to be my choice?

This is my decision about what to do with my body. Don't infringe on my right to privacy by assuming you have a voice in my most intimate decisions. No one has more of a say on my own rights than me. If you're going to be pro-choice, you better get prepared to stand by your own logic. Meet my "choice." I am grateful for every one of them.

This is my decision about what to do with my body. Don’t infringe on my right to privacy by assuming you have a voice in my most intimate decisions. No one has more of a say on my own rights than me. If you’re going to be pro-choice, you better get prepared to stand by your own logic. Meet my “choice.” I am grateful for every one of them.

Pseudo-Tolerance

peace-love-and-tolerance-ellen-paulsonApparently, part of being pregnant in modern times is opening yourself up to constant critique from anyone you come into contact with. This disgusts me. Especially when it’s the self-proclaimed “tolerant” people passing the judgments. The very same people who claim to be open and accepting to any system of beliefs are often the quickest to share their criticisms about me. I’m not passing judgment on tolerant people. I think a lot of the world problems could be solved with a little more tolerance and respect. However, there’s a difference between being truly tolerant and calling yourself tolerant when what you really mean is, “I’m only open to ideas or customs that are modern or liberal or stem from religions found elsewhere in the world.” Present these pseudo-tolerant people with an idea or custom that is either traditional or conservative or Christian and watch their heads spin. They can’t being to fathom why anyone would embrace such values and they’re quick to tell you so. It seems to me if you’re “tolerant” you should respect what I believe and act on, whether it’s left or right or anywhere in between.

One particular situation that really irks me is when pro-choice people comment on my pregnancies. These people believe that I have a right to choose to allow the child growing in my womb to be born or choose to “terminate” him/her instead. Yet, somehow, they feel that they have a right to comment on my right to choose whether or not to conceive a child in the first place. Explain to me how an individual would find it perfectly acceptable to go with me to a clinic to end this child’s life, but the same individual finds it perfectly acceptable to ridicule my “choice” to conceive a child in the first place. Where exactly does my “right to choose” begin and end? If you’re moral stance is “it’s my body and my choice” who are you to tell me otherwise when I choose life?

It further baffles me that the same people who would welcome me with open arms if I were involved in a bisexual polygamous relationship (obviously a little dramatic, but you get the point) are so quick to shake their heads at my heterosexual procreative relationship. Why is it that some people are only willing to extend their tolerance in one direction? People have been involved in heterosexual procreative relationships since the beginning of time. More than likely, its how the very person who stands in judgment of me came to exist. Yet, as of late, that’s no longer the trendy thing to do. In fact, if I insist on being heterosexual, it’s unthinkable that I should also be willing to procreate. At least not more than 1 or 2 times. Which brings me to another favorite that I’ve heard several times lately.

“How can you possibly consider bringing another child into this world when there are so many starving children in it already?” Explain to me how this logic works? The child in my womb is not currently starving, nor will he/she be after he/she is born. Yes, many people in this world are impoverished and hungry. May I ask what you are doing to help with this problem? Does your choice to contracept somehow help feed, clothe or shelter them? I do contribute to causes that help feed, clothe, and shelter these people, but that has nothing to do with my willingness to reproduce. Those are two very separate issues. Or perhaps you’re implying that instead of having my own children, I should adopt those children? Did you ask me if I was open to adoption or did you just assume that I’m somehow too selfish to consider that? It’s funny that I’m the one who regularly passes up nights out or vacations to anywhere in favor of having and supporting a family, while you choose to do everything in your power to avoid having to sacrifice growing your shoe collection in favor of having a child. Yet, I’m the one you somehow assume is selfish. It’s been a while since my clinical psyc class, but I’m pretty sure that’s called projection. The funnier thing is I didn’t randomly walk up to you and ask why you would consider wearing a designer outfit when there are so many starving children in the world. That, however, would have been a much more logical question.

Sweet Poison

Recently, I’ve developed and obsession with Crystal Light. I figure it’s because I’m always so thirsty when I’m pregnant and I get sick of plain water. Tonight, after drinking about 2 quarts of Crystal Light in one sitting, it occurred to me Crystal Light might contain artificial sweetener. (I know…not the brightest crayon in the box, right?) Sure enough, 3rd ingredient on the list, aspartame. Crap. I vaguely remember something about avoiding artificial sweeteners during pregnancy, but can’t remember exactly why. I’m pretty sure the research is controversial, right? With that convenient doubt in mind I sit down, Crystal Light in hand, to do a little internet research on the topic. Much to my dismay, I’m going to have to give up the Crystal Light. As I read further, my dismay becomes shock, followed by horror. I absolutely can not believe what I’m reading. And it doesn’t seem like the research is very controversial at all. In fact, I can’t seem to find much defending what Dr. Janet Hull has cleverly dubbed “sweet poison.” Apparently, artificial sweeteners are “the common denominator for over 92 different health symptoms at the root of modern disease.” What’s scarier is children are particularly sensitive to its side effects. Additionally, “giving sugar-free chemicals to your children or using them during pregnancy may be harmful to a child’s emotional and physical maturation and to the normal development of a fetus.”

I’m not one to jump on bandwagons or advocate or boycott something because it’s the trendy thing to do. That being said, I’m seriously disturbed by what I discovered tonight. While I’m not sure that I’ll begin an aspartame detox program (Yes, they exist and apparently have cured everything from ADHD to cancer.), I am positive that neither I nor my boys will be eating or drinking anything sweetened with any chemical sweetener ever again. You know, if I were a conspiracy theorist I could come up with a pretty good one about this. You know, something like government covering up the dangers of aspartame leading to increased illness leading to big money for pharmaceutical companies. And don’t even get me started on my opinions on the pharmaceutical industry… Wait. Stop. Before I climb onto an entirely different soap box let me just say this: Ladies, put down the Diet Coke. Do a little research and determine if “zero calories” is really worth it.

Baby on board!

baby-on-board

Not that it’s really news at this point, but we’re expecting our third child in June! I am just so excited and am so very blessed to have been given these three glorious gifts from God. So for those of you who know us, or even those of you who don’t, (You would be astonished by what strangers feel they have a right to say to you when you’re pregnant and/or a mom.) let me go ahead and give you the answers to some of our FAQs.

1. Yes, we know where babies come from.

2. No, we are not “trying” for a girl.

3. In fact, we don’t have cable. However, I neither feel that is the cause of our pregnancies, nor would I want to trade the “time” time I “spend” with my husband to spend time watching 30 Rock. (Totally not knocking 30 Rock – I LOVE 30 Rock!)

4. Yes, this baby was planned…by Someone much wiser than we are.

5. Andy is 4, Jack is 2.

5b. No, we are not systematically spacing our children.

6. Yes, I’m a little concerned about the expenses we are going to incur considering we have a 2 bedroom apartment and there is no room for another passenger in either of our cars.

6b. No, I do not feel that those concerns were sufficient reason not to have another child right now.

6c. The Lord will provide.

7. I don’t know whether we are “done” having children. We are both open to the possibility of more. We are both immensely satisfied with the amazing little family we already have. See #4 re: a wiser Individual.

8. No, I am not bored at home.

8b. Yes, my boys already keep me incredibly busy and I can’t imagine having more to handle in one day. Laughably, I felt the same way when transitioning from one to two kids. I think it’s hard to imagine what you’re capable of until you see yourself doing it.

9. Yes, I have heard that the transition from 2 to 3 kids is the harder than 1 to 2 or even 3 to 4.

9b. No, I’m not going to spend the next 6 months worrying about that.

10. Yes, I do occasionally doubt my parental abilities.

10b. The Lord won’t give me anything I can’t handle.

If your question remains unanswered, feel free to chime in. I assure you, it probably isn’t anything some random person hasn’t already asked me in the grocery store.

I went to the doctor yesterday and everything looks great. I heard his or her little heartbeat and got to do another ultrasound! Eventually, I’ll get around to scanning the pictures. In the meantime, you’ll just have to wait until you run into me to see our little peanut. We should find out if we’re having a boy or a girl in February!

Right now, I’m a little more than 13 weeks, and, just in case you’re curious, this is what our baby looks like.

This isn’t actually our baby, and this baby is only 12 weeks, but I just love this picture.

This baby is 10 weeks. That means our little peanut is about this size, but actually a little bigger. What a miracle!!