Alcohol and Weight Loss

Unfortunately, all activities seems to go with drinking these days. I myself love a good glass of wine. In fact, I could easily drink a glass or two every night. However, this is not a good habit for weight loss or even weight maintenance.

Alcohol is not simply sugar or empty calories that are added into the mix with the other calories that we consume. My coaches have had to explain to me over and over again (through my tears) that alcohol is converted to acetate in the body. I know there’s some more complex biology behind it, but basically acetate skips over all those other calories that we want to burn in weight-loss efforts and goes straight to the front of the line. Our body will not metabolize protein, carbohydrates, or fat until it has burned off the excess acetate.

Basically, a glass or two of wine a night can stop your stored-fat burning for the next day or two depending on your activity level. A Saturday night bender can leave your body burning acetate only until Wednesday of the next week. Ouch! This is why calorie, carb, or even point counting just doesn’t give you lasting results when it comes to alcohol.

On top of that, alcohol seems to cause a double-whammy of an increase in appetite and a decrease in inhibitions. So, you have a glass or two of wine, you get the munchies, and you’re less likely to say no to an extra serving of your dinner meal, or worse you grab for some chips or cookies. I know I’m guilty of this. However, Charley actually doesn’t have this problem. He gets full from drinking wine or beer and will have a smaller dinner because of it. I have no idea how that works.

Even though I know the effects of alcohol on my body, I’ll still have a glass or two of wine on occasion, but I try to keep it to a minimum. I want to see real and lasting change in my body so regular alcohol consumption just cannot be a part of my daily diet…sniff, wiping away tears. Actually, for the past three weeks I have had a total of 2 1/2 glasses of wine and they were all at a post-Christmas get-together for Charley’s work. Before, when I thought that I couldn’t have wine it made me want it all that much more so I thought it would be harder to say no now. But once I decided that I didn’t want the wine because it didn’t help me reach my goals it was much easier. Mindset is so important in setting and achieving your goals and conquering your cravings.

Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of such bad news about alcohol, but I hope it helps some of you understand why you may not be able to get past a weight-loss plateau. Questions? Comment? Please let me know.

The Importance of Meal Planning and Preparation

I’ve had a great week nutrition-wise because I made sure that I had a plan. When I don’t have a good week it’s because I don’t do this so I’m going to share my plan to both help you and to remind myself to continue this in the future. All recipes that do not have links or references will be typed out at the bottom.

I usually try to sit down every week to make a menu and then make a grocery list based on that menu. Sometimes I try new dishes that I get online or in magazines, while other times I’ll go with my previous family favorites. Most of the time Charley and the kids are good about eating the new recipes, but they’ll let me know which ones they like so I can make them again. The others go in the file of “let’s not try that again,” aka the trash can. I had just bought Oxygen’s Fat Loss magazine so a lot of my menu items came from that.

Saturday and Sunday’s dinners were already decided based on last week’s menu, but I made my list for the new week on Saturday, then went grocery shopping and did food preparation Sunday afternoon. I usually plan on having leftovers every two or three days to make menu planning a little easier as well as make sure there’s no food thrown away.

Saturday night’s dinner was chicken meatballs. I made a big batch of Thai Chicken Meatballs (from Savage Coach Rachel Ibbison, recipe below) for myself and Rachel Ray’s Buffalo Chicken Meatballs for Charley and the kids, these meatballs can be cleaned up by using a lighter barbeque or wing sauce and no butter. For Charley I went ahead and used the spicy wing sauce that he likes and a little less butter. I make the meatballs with a small ice cream scoop so they are all about the same size. The leftovers got separated them into individual servings, about 6-7 small meatballs per sandwich bag, then stored the individual servings in a gallon-sized freezer bag in the freezer. This makes it easy to reach in and grab exactly what I need for later in the week.

Sunday night’s dinner was Bison Tacos, Oxygen Magazine- Feb 2013, p 64. To save time I used store-bought fresh pico de gallo and guacamole instead of making my own.

Here’s my menu that I made on Saturday:

-Monday: Chicken, Sweet Potato, and White Bean Chili, p. 39 of Oxygen’s Fat Loss magazine. I doubled the chicken, but everything else was the same. This one went in the not to make again file.

-Tuesday: leftovers.

-Wednesday: Spicy Chili with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, p. 37 of Oxygen’s Fat Loss magazine. I doubled the meat and the fire-roasted tomatoes and didn’t use the kidney beans, just not that big a fan of beans.  Will make again but will add cumin.

-Thursday: Chicken Cacciatore,  I used low-fat mozzarella to clean it up a little and didn’t put any on half of the dish for myself. I will definitely make again.

-Tonight: leftovers.

-Tomorrow’s dinner will be Pesto Chicken, p. 50 of Oxygen’s Fat Loss magazine, will use couscous instead of amaranth.

-Sunday’s will be Turkey and Lean Ground Beef Burgers or Meatballs, recipe below. This one is a previous favorite.

A major key to my success is that two of the recipes, the Chicken, Sweet Potato, and White Bean Chili and the Spicy Chili with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes were slow cooker recipes. Also, Sunday after I got back from the store I spent about two hours prepping the food for the week:

-I peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes for the chili

-chopped three onions for three of the recipes

-sliced vegetables for the meals as well as extra for easy snacks

-trimmed the fat off the chicken and cut it into chunks

-made 2 lbs of Lori Harder’s turkey sausage ( and stored in individual 1 lbs packages

The chicken and meat for later in the week went into the freezer. The onions, sweet potatoes and vegetables were packaged individually for each meal to make it easy to grab later. After each meal, I put the leftovers into small containers so I could grab it for a quick meal over the next few days.

Here’s what an example days worth of meals looked like:

Meal 1 (30-60mins after waking up): Egg white and turkey casserole (recipe below), drizzled with ½ T of flax oil and topped with ¼ c of salsa, ½ apple on the side

Meal 2 (post-workout and no more than 3 hours after Meal 1): Chocolate IsaLean Pro shake with 2 T PB2 and 1 T Udo’s oil (takes like a peanut butter cup shake), 1 scoop Greens mixed with 1 scoop Ionix Supreme in about 10 oz water.

Meal 3 (about 2 ½ hours later): Leftovers from one of the previous nights dinner to include veggies and a healthy fat drizzled on top

Meal 4 (about 2 ½ hours later): Thai chicken meatballs from the freezer, steamed broccoli, ½ T sunflower oil, ½ T sweet Thai chili sauce, ¼ c of grapes on the side

Meal 5 (about 2 ½ hours later): Vanilla IsaLean Pro shake with 2 scoops of orange Want More Energy and ½ T coconut oil (takes like an orange dreamsicle) , ½ c cucumbers and ¼ c grape tomatoes

Meal 6 (try to eat my last meal around 7 or 7:30): Dinner with family according to the menu, about ½ to 1 c of veggies- I usually get lots of freezer steamer bags of veggies with no sauces so I can heat them up quickly to have on the side if there is no vegetable as part of the dinner dish.

As you can see, my fridge and freezer are well stocked with healthy meal options so I can have something to grab easily. Preparation is truly the key to my successful days and even weeks.

Here are the recipes from some of my favorite meals:

Egg White and Turkey Casserole

  • 2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 16 oz bag of frozen spinach, thawed (can also use chopped steamed broccoli)
  • 8 oz container of sliced baby bella mushrooms (can also use 8 oz of canned mushrooms)
  • 1 ½ tsp minced garlic
  • 2x 8 oz containers of pico de gallo or 2x 15 oz cans of Rotel
  • 2 c low fat cheese, optional
  • 1 lbs of Lori Harder’s turkey sausage
  • 32 oz carton of egg whites

-Preheat oven to 325

-I use a big 14×18 pan, but you could use a 9×13 and an 8×8 or whatever you have. Just keep an eye on how thick it is because that will effect cooking time. Spray pans with olive oil spray or line with parchment paper.

-Heat oil in skillet on medium heat

-Add garlic and stir, let heat for a min, add mushrooms and cook for a few more mins, than add spinach and cook until just heated through

-Pour spinach mix from skillet into pan and spread evenly, top with pico de gallo or Rotel as well as turkey sausage and spread evenly, sprinkle on cheese if using, then pour egg whites over whole mix and check to make sure that the mix has about the same height throughout.

-Bake for about 40-50 mins, depending on thickness of mixture in your pan

-Let cool and cut into portions in pan. I usually get 9-12 good sized servings and freeze them. Then I warm them up for a quick breakfast in the mornings. You can have with a little oatmeal and fruit or sometimes I put the square of egg quiche between two pieces of Ezekiel bread or in a whole grain wrap and have an egg omelet sandwich.

Thai Chicken Meatballs

  • 2 lbs. 98% fat free ground chicken
  • ¾ c Bob’s Red Mill 7 or 10-grain cereal (you can use quinoa flakes or flour, oats, oat bran, whole wheat bread crumbs, etc)
  • 1 granny smith apple- peeled, cored, and grated
  • 4 chopped green onions
  • 1 TB ground coriander seed
  • ½ c chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ c sweet chili sauce
  • 2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 3 egg whites

-Preheat oven to 375

-In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, cereal, apple, green onions, ground coriander seed, cilantro, chili sauce, lemon juice, and egg whites. I use my hands because it mixes better.

-Form them into balls or patties, whatever your preference

-Bake for 12-15 mins

-I usually make a bunch and freeze them for easy meals. Serve these with the Thai sweet red chili sauce or other sweet sauce of your choice.

Turkey Burgers or Meatballs

  • 1 small bunch of Green onions, chopped
  • ½ small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 T steak seasoning
  • 1-2T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 lbs. lean ground turkey (you can also use 1 lbs lean ground turkey and 1 lbs 96% lean ground beef)
  • Whole wheat buns
  • Optional Toppings: Guacamole, mustard, natural ketchup, Greek yogurt

-Mix first 7 ingredients together in a blender until they make a paste, then pour over the ground meat in a bowl and mix with hands until the mixture is uniform. Form into 5-6 oz patties or roll into meatballs, grill or cook on stovetop. If you make them into meatballs, they should be baked at 325 for about 12-15 mins).

-Serve burgers on Ezekiel Bread/ Buns or other natural whole wheat bun, I love to top with guacamole, but you could also use Greek yogurt, mustard, or natural ketchup

-Serve with veggies or a salad on the side

-Refrigerate or Freeze the leftovers and use for easy meals

-When I make them into meatballs, I have them in a salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and ½ T of walnut oil or a balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Well, I hope this helps. Planning your menu and shopping list will take about an hour and prepping the food should take about 2 hours tops, but it will save you an immense amount of time during the week when it really counts. Plus it will save you from having to run through the drive through or order unhealthy take-out.

We went ice-skating on Monday due to the kids not having school. We had to drive two hours to the Galleria in Houston and two hours back, plus the time there. We didn’t get home until 7 on Monday night so I was grateful that I had dinner already going in the crock pot. Then my kids who had been fine while they were having fun on Monday woke up with fevers and a pretty bad cough on Tuesday. Wouldn’t ya know I had to spend the next two days with them at home so having dinner mostly ready really helped on those days too. They’re fine now and back to bouncing off the walls. As a busy mom, I can’t really think of a week-night when I haven’t been glad to have done some of my dinner prep ahead of time.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.


Why Isagenix?

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about why I chose to become involved with Isagenix, both the product user aspect and the business aspect.

First of all, I’ll give some background as to how I got introduced to the products. As I mention in my newly updated “About” section, I joined Cathy Savage Fitness in August of 2011 because I wanted to attempt a fitness competition. I had always worked out, but just hadn’t been able to keep my diet clean. They recommend 5-6 small meals per day and I found it very overwhelming at first to be able to make that many meals out of clean whole foods especially while I was working my old job that had me traveling quite a bit. Plus, I was still struggling with cravings as well as mood and sleep problems.

My Savage Coach Kim, introduced me to Isagenix. She had been introduced by Cathy Savage who had been introduced by Lori Harder. Both Cathy and Lori were all about eating whole clean foods with no protein powders or supplements. They had both been approached to endorse other supplement lines, but had not found anything that they felt comfortable putting their name on.

Lori is one of my favorite fitness competitors and models who admits to being a heavy kid and struggling with food issues her whole life, even when she started competing. Anyway, she had hit a tough plateau right before a major competition and finally listened to one of her personal training clients who had been having great results with Isagenix. She felt an immediate change in her body, how it responded to her workouts, and how she was able to stick to her tough competition diet without major cravings. Lori then approached Cathy. Even though Cathy was skeptical she trusted Lori and tried the products with a few friends and clients. They all noticed a very quick change in their bodies and energy levels. At that point she began telling her Savage Coaches and her Savage Girls and saw them get incredible results as well.

That’s where I came in. I started just replacing two meals a day with IsaLean shakes and one serving of my vegetables with the Greens. As time went on I noticed that my cravings were getting better and better, plus my meal preparation time was definitely a lot shorter. Then due to my sleep problems my coach recommended that I try the Ionix Supreme. I started mixing that into my chamomile tea about 30-60 mins before bed and it really helped me relax. I have since added a second serving of Ionix every day, after my workout for recovery. I also take the vitamins now and they are incredible. My moods are more even now, I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, but I feel a lot better than I did before I was putting such good nutrition into my body.

The most important thing about the shakes is that they are made of organic undenatured whey protein from grass-fed cows in New Zealand. It’s the best quality on the market and helps with recovery, fat burning, and satiety. Most of the whey protein on the market is denatured or processed with heat or acid- not only makes the protein toxic, but it strips out the natural branch chain amino acids that come in whey, which then have to be added back in at the end in a lower quality form. I was going to go more into details about the quality of the ingredients and why they’re superior, but some of your eyes would glaze over with the science and other details behind it. I know most people don’t really care about that, they just want to know it works. If you do want to know about the nutrition details, ask me and I’ll tell you more.

I was also going to go into a little about the business side because network marketing is being seen as more and more reputable, but that’s not necessary either. It’s a great company with a great compensation plan and many friends of mine are being able to focus on the important things in their life, like their families, because of it.

One of my favorite things about how the company runs is the fact that they don’t have celebrity endorsements. They’re not going to pay anyone to use their products, instead they put that money into R&D and the compensation plan. It’s kind of a crazy gamble in today’s society of celebrity worship, but how many of us have been unpleasantly surprised by the stuff that celebs endorse. I myself bought Proactive because Jessica Simpson said it helped clear up her skin when she had breakouts due to a crazy touring schedule. I found out later that she let it slip that her clear skin was actually due to Accutane. Then there’s the amount of money that Jenny Craig paid Kirstie Alley to lose weight, and we all know how that turned out. I could go on and on about disappointing endorsements, but you get the point. If someone recommends Isagenix to you, it’s because they themselves chose to use it and like it.

Lastly, the best thing is that everyone can use their products. We all eat. We all get tired of not having time to prepare healthy meals. The drive through or vending machines aren’t especially desirable options and can add $15 or more a day to your budget. Whether you want to lose weight, increase athletic performance, or just like to have a quick healthy meal or snack option, the products can help you.

Many people I’ve talked to really focus on the cost because the packages are for 30-days worth of shakes and supplements or you make your own package and order once a month. However, when you break it down to what you’re getting the cost is not that great. When you really sit down and think about how much you spend going to the grocery store, going through the drive-through, the vending machines, and any other time that you get food over the course of the month, you probably spend a lot more than you realize, as well as eat way more things that are not helpful to your efforts to get healthier. However, because you’re only spending $10-$20 at a time or shopping for a week’s worth of groceries you don’t really think about it. When I sat down and really figured out how much having a healthy option already available was going to save me, not only in money, but in time, I had to give it a try, and am so glad I did.

Was it a magic pill that I took and instantly had the motivation to get up and get things done? No, but my energy level was much better. Did I still have to follow my exercise program? Yes, but my recovery from those hard workouts was much quicker. Did I still have to make sure everything that I ate outside of the Isagenix products was clean? Yes, but my cravings for junk slowly disappeared.

If anyone tries to sell you a pill/ potion/ shake that will make you lose weight without having to do anything of those things, they’re lying to you, or there’s probably some serious stimulant or harmful substance in there that will cause some serious side effects down the road. The only way to be truly healthy is to be consistent and Isagenix has really helped me with that.

Well, I hope that clears a few things up. Questions? Comments? Please let me know.


Expose, Involve, and Upgrade- Who’s Grooming Our Kids?

Have you ever had a revelation in one area only to have it blow some things open for you in other areas? I kind of had this happen a few weeks ago (which is why I have been so delinquent in posting) and I thought I’d share.

As a small business owner and my own boss I’ve been made painfully aware of my own faults. When I worked for others, whether it was the Army or other companies, I worked as part of a team and everyone had their own responsibilities. Now when something doesn’t get done or go as planned, there is no one else to blame but myself. This has really caused me to delve into self-improvement to make sure that I am running my business the way it should be.

As I’ve been evaluating my own weaknesses lately I’ve been made aware of how those weaknesses have affected other areas of my life, especially my parenting. Not that I thought I was doing anything wrong or that my kids were bad, I just wanted to figure out how to get better in all aspects of my life. My kids have different personalities, strengths, interests, and motivations and I want to make sure that I’m making the most of them.

My quest to figure out how I can raise my kids to make the most of both their strengths and their weaknesses lead me to Dani Johnson’s “Grooming the Next Generation for Success.” She is one of my favorite motivational speakers so I thought I would give her program a try. I also found the concept of grooming very interesting. Many societies groom their kids, but not ours. She talks about making sure our kids are raised by design and not by default and using the idea of protection and not control. A protective parent makes sure that kids understand the rules and know the rules are meant for their good and to groom them for success as adults while a controlling parent will just make up rules for no reason and say, “No means no!” causing the kid to want to rebel as soon as they get the chance.

One of the things that really struck me was the way she talked about work. Most of us consider work to be a necessary evil in order to be able to pay the bills and have a little fun in the hours we aren’t working. We do something that we think we can bear to do for 30-40 years, but few of us actually get to truly enjoy our jobs. Our attitude towards work is passed down to our kids. She is a Christian, so am I so this point really struck me, and she talked about work from a biblical standpoint. I understand that all of you might not be Christians so please don’t hold that against me. The concept is the same no matter what your religious beliefs are. God made us to work, that’s how we glorify Him. We don’t have to have the best job, but we do have to do it to the best of our ability. We might as well have a good attitude toward work too. I have to admit, even though I knew these things, I had let work really get me down. But for the last few weeks I have really tried to have a great attitude about all the work that I do, even cleaning the house, so that my kids inherit the idea that work is necessary and good. If they see the value of work, they’ll likely be better workers, whether they are employees or employers, in the future.

At the beginning of the program, she talks about marketers have been using the concept of “Expose, Involve, and Upgrade” to advance their businesses for years. Due to concepts in brand loyalty that starts very young, the marketing has been more and more (aggressively I might add) targeted at children.

Even the pornography industry uses “Expose, Involve, and Upgrade” to get young boys hooked so that by the time they have money to spend, they will spend it all on porn. It starts with the soft porn in lingerie ads or a little extra cleavage in a so called family show (exposure). Some adults just kind of grin and say, “Boys will be boys,” when they catch their sons flipping through the bra and panty section of the catalog. However, this reinforces to the boys that this is acceptable (involvement) and makes them want to continue looking and progressively more graphic pictures (upgrade). This is not the case with everyone, but many men who have lost all their money and even their families due to pornography addiction can point back to the lingerie catalogs as their start.

Credit card companies have found that adults are the most loyal (most likely to accrue the most debt) to their first credit card and so as soon as a teenager turns 18 they are inundated with credit card applications and encouraged to spend as freely as they want. Talk about setting a young person up for failure in the future.

The food industry is also getting very, very good at this. Here is an article that talks about how food companies are advancing their agenda using new and improved methods.

Feds to Parents: Big Food Still Exploiting Your Children; Good Luck With That

Ever since I started competing, I have made an effort to make sure that my kids are following my example. But making my daughter aware of the fact that there are “healthy” foods and “junk” foods has also made her more and more aware of the ads on TV. Here is a sample conversation that we have had.

D: “Mommy, did you hear that? They said that Lucky Charms are healthy, can we buy them?”

Me: “No, sweetheart. I’m sorry, Lucky Charms are not healthy. Highly processed whole grains are no longer whole grains and putting added vitamins in sugar does not make it healthy either.”

D (flabbergasted): “So they’re lying?!”

Me: “Well, yes.”

D: “How are they allowed to do that? They shouldn’t lie.”

Me: “Yeah, you’re right. But it’s not the government’s job to protect you from false advertisements. It’s mommy and daddy’s job to know what’s good for you and to make sure that you aren’t getting junk.”

D: “Oh, well, okay…But they still shouldn’t lie.”

See, even a seven-year old understands the concept that not telling the whole truth is a lie and lying is wrong. This is true not just in food marketing. So many marketing techniques are grooming our kids to be excessive consumers, selfish, focused on instant gratification and apathetic toward the benefits of hard work.

Even the kids’ shows today are pointing our kids toward mediocrity. If you really think about it, which I have been recently, the most popular and desirable kids are the ones that are lazy and get everyone else to do their work. The kids who do well in school and keep their noses clean are made fun of. Don’t even get me started about the lack of respect for parents and authority figures that these kids show.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of capitalism and businesses making money. I’m not a conspiracy theorist claiming that we’ve all been duped. Businesses make money by giving consumers exactly what they want. We wanted fast and easy food that tasted good, forget about nutrition, and that’s what we got. We wanted trinkets and gadgets of various size and uses that make our lives a little easier, 401K and savings be damned, and that’s what we got. A marketer’s job is to make consumers aware of products that might fill their current needs or needs they didn’t even know they had. It’s a consumer’s job to discern what is actually necessary and what is waste.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had several different opportunities to put into practice the concepts of grooming and protection vs. control. I’ll start with my daughter. She’s a very agreeable and soft-hearted kid, also very emotional. She cries at the thought of even getting in trouble. She’s also very whiny, especially when she’s asked to do something that she doesn’t want to do, like clean her room, which I have to admit has driven me batty at times. I shared with her the importance of work and that doing the work I give her now with a good attitude will groom her to do the work that she has to do in the future, not just because she’ll have her own house that she’ll have to keep nice, but because she’ll have a job and a family that will require lots of hard work and dedication.

I’ve also started a “verse of the week” program. Last week’s was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This week’s is Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without complaining or disputing.” When she tells me that she can’t or doesn’t want to do something, she gets reminded of these verses. I actually think she’s been whining quite a bit less.

Even though she’s mostly agreeable to eating healthy, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been quite a bit of whining in that area too. I let her pick one day a month that she gets to go to Sonic for her after school snack, other than that we don’t eat fast food, but she still tries, unsuccessfully, to weasel in an extra day or two.

Then, at the start of January when school started back up, we made a deal with her in order to teach her the value of money. We figured if she buys her lunch at school every day, it’d cost us $50 per month, so we told her that we would give her $25 per month for lunch. If she made her lunch every day, then she gets to keep the $25 and she can use any food that we have at the house to make her lunch. Most days she brings a sandwich made of natural peanut butter and fruit preserves on whole wheat bread along with some grapes, cucumbers, and water to drink. She does occasionally argue for sugary snacks in her lunch. Even though the Christmas temptations are gone, they have been replaced in the store by all the Valentine’s Day chocolates and other goodies. The argument goes something like this:

D: “Mommy, some of the kids that bring their lunch have these little hearts made of cake in them. Can I have some of those?”

Me: “No sweetheart, you don’t need sugar at school, it’s not healthy and it won’t help you focus.”

D: “But lots of other kids eat the cakes and they don’t get fat.”

Me: “It’s not about being skinny or fat, it’s about being healthy. A lot of kids can eat junk food and not get fat, but what does happen is that they get dependent on it. Then when they get older they have a hard time cutting back on it and it does affect their health and their body. I want to make sure that you are set up for a successful and healthy future. Do you trust that I’m trying to do this for your good and that I’m not just being mean.”

D: (reluctantly) “Yes.”

I know that wouldn’t work for a lot of kids, they’re all different and have different motivations, but it has really seemed to help with Devin. As far as Wyatt is concerned, he’s a little more hard headed, but he loves to play games, needs lots of attention, and loves to get praise. In order to get him to clean his room, I turned it into a game. I became the announcer, “Look at that Wyatt go…he’s a machine…he’s putting his cars in the drawer…oh look, there go all those blocks…man, he is so fast…” During the first few seconds of being the announcer, I kind of got a few funny looks from him, but then he started laughing and running across the room to put his toys away. The room was clean in a matter of minutes and when he was done I gave him a high-five and treated him like he was the hero of the team. He loved it and has not been so reluctant to clean his room ever since.

He was potty-trained about 6 months ago, but he still needs help with his snaps on his pants. I have been doing this for him all day every day for several months until I realized that this was not helping him learn how to do it and it was causing him to remain to be dependent on me. I decided that I would be better off spending a few extra minutes trying to teach him how to do it himself now. I showed him how to line up the two sides and squeeze them together. He got such a kick out of doing it himself. Now every time he goes to the bathroom he’ll come find me and either have me watch him do the button or tell me he did it himself and I’ll give him a big high five and cheer for him. A big smile lights up his face and he grows about three inches.

Of course, not all of it has been a success. If there’s one thing Wyatt loves to do, it’s pester his sister. He’s behind in speech and is in speech therapy. This is helping, but sometimes his lack of ability to communicate really frustrates him and he takes his frustrations out on Devin. He’s got to be in the middle of everything she’s doing, unless Charley’s home and Wyatt can be outside “helping” him in the garage. I haven’t really gotten through to him yet about not pestering, but he responds to me more than he used to. Before he only really listened to Charley and would just not want to listen to me at all. Words like “respect” your sister, “listen” to mommy, and do not “disobey” really resonate with him. I will discipline him with a quick swat or send him to his room and that gets his attention, but what really gets him is when I kneel down to his level, make him look me in the eyes, and talk to him about why what he did was wrong. It breaks his heart to have to apologize to me for not obeying or to his sister for not respecting her.

Whether it’s health and fitness, their attitudes toward money and work, their self-image, the way they treat other people, their goals and dreams, or their faith, there’s always some external source of “grooming.” If we don’t stand up for our kids, someone else will be willing to take them by the hand and lead them down the wrong path, more than likely toward mediocrity and even failure. That thought really terrifies me so I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to ensure that I lead them toward success.

I know I’ve gone on and on about this, probably a little too long, but as a mom I go through rough times where I wonder if I’m getting through, if what I’m doing is right, and if I could be doing anything better. I want to make sure that my kids are set up for success in their future no matter what career path they take. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels like I’m in over my head sometimes so I thought I’d share something that has helped me kind of get through a slump and hopefully it might help you too.

I know sharing my successes and failures has helped me, I hope this info and viewpoint has helped you or at least giving you something to think about. Questions? Comments? Please let me know.


Healthy Eating and Portion Sizes

I know many people hit the ground running on January 1st in hopes of losing all that weight from the holiday season and then some. There are lots of apps and gadgets that will tell you how many calories you need to be eating in order to lose weight.  However, many people use these successfully for a few weeks and then can’t do it any longer. This is because these apps give you a very low number of calories (like 1,400 or less) to consume in order to meet your “goal weight” by your “goal date.” I am not a fan of calorie counting or endless weigh-ins, which is so old-school. I used to do this neurotically thinking that it would help. But I’ve come a long way and I would no sooner do this now then I would put on a thong leotard, tights, and legwarmers and wear my hair in a side ponytail to do a Jane Fonda workout on VHS. Seriously people, let’s get out of the 80’s. 😉

Slow FAT loss is the key to keeping it off. A small caloric deficit will give you the energy you need to exercise and perform daily functions. Semi-starving yourself will only backfire. After a few weeks of sheer willpower and white-knuckled hunger pangs you might lose “weight” quicker, but it will be mostly muscle instead of fat. This loss of muscle will decrease your metabolism and lead to the weight coming back and then some. Weight loss is far more complicated than just eating less and exercising more.

However, if you can’t help but count calories, then I would suggest 1,800 to 2,000 for women who exercise, even more for those who are training hard to reach a fitness goal like a marathon. For most women, even on sedentary days, I would not recommend going below 1,500 to 1,600 calories.

In order to control hunger and rev up your metabolism you need to eat 5-6 small meals per day (spaced about 2-3 hours apart). Think about a how a campfire burns when you’re constantly adding kindling to it instead of letting it burn down and then throwing a big log on it. That’s how your metabolism works. If you don’t eat enough, your metabolism will slow down. If 5-6 small meals a day is too much, start with 4, then go to 5.

Here’s a breakdown of what eat meal should look like:

– Protein 3-4 oz (chicken breast, lean ground chicken, tilapia, shrimp, lean ground beef, lean ground turkey, turkey breast, egg whites, tuna, salmon)

– Veggies – at least 1 c if raw about ½ c if steamed

– Starch – about ¼ c in 3 to 4 of your meals (sweet potato, brown rice, Ezekiel bread, quinoa, couscous, rice cakes, beans, lentils, oatmeal, etc)

– Fruit – about ¼ c in 3 to 4 of your meals

– Healthy fats – about 1 T (Udo’s oil, Flax oil, flax seed, chia seeds/ powder, raw unsalted nuts, natural nut butters, avocado, walnut oil, coconut oil, etc)

You can adjust your meals throughout the day as well. For instance, if your lunch is heavier on the starches, like a sandwich with a big portion of whole grain bread, then go lighter at dinner. This one should be obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. Not all soups are created equally. If you want the soup and sandwich deal then make sure to go with the brothy soup with veggies instead of the creamy soup with cheese. However, if you want to splurge and have the creamy soup as a treat then have a smaller portion.

Make sure you are watching your portion sizes. You don’t want to eat 5-6 of the same size meals that we typically eat. I’ve found a few examples with visuals from Oxygen Magazine to give you a better idea of proper portions.

Small Digital Camera = 3 oz of Protein

Small Digital camera = 3 oz of lean protein.

Computer Mouse = Small Baked Potato

Computer mouse = 1 small baked potato.

DVD= 1 oz of Nitrate Free Deli Meat

DVD = 1-oz piece of (nitrate-free) deli turkey.

Two Golf Balls= .5c of WG Rice or Pasta

Two golf balls = 1/2 cup of whole-grain rice or pasta.

Man's Wallet= 3 oz Fish

A man’s wallet = 3 oz fish.

Cupped Hands= 1 c raw veggies

Hands cupped together = one cup of raw veggies.

Fist= Med Fruit

Your fist = medium piece of fruit.

Thumb = 1oz cheese

Top of your thumb = 1-oz cube of cheese.

Palm = 1 oz nuts

Palm of your hand = 1/4 cup of nuts.

Standard low-carb diets get their popularity due to the weight that can be lost by avoiding an entire food group. However, when you consider that the portion-sizes of starchy foods is way bigger than it used to be, you can come to the conclusion that watching your portions can make having things like muffins and bagels a possibility. For instance, a serving size for a muffin used to be about 1 1/2 ounces (the size of an egg). Today’s standard-size muffins are closer to 5 ounces and typically pack more than 500 calories. The average bagel now is about 6” in diameter vs. the 3” in diameter (or about the length of your thumb) it used to be. The solution to this would be to either split the bagel with a friend or save the other half for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Slow weight loss may sound like a drag, but the slow and steady method is the most effective way to lose weight and to keep it off. You’re not just doing this for weight loss either, but for the long-term good health and vibrant energy that comes with it. Take it day by day, meal by meal if you have to.

I’m going to leave you with a quote that I recently heard from Lori Harder that is so true. “Inch by Inch Life’s a Cinch, Yard by Yard Life is Hard.”

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.