Welcome to Optimal Health Mama

Thanks for cruising by and becoming part of my personal revolution of self-love, health, and hilarity!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Professional Jane

In the pre-kids day, I used to be a make up artist.  That involved lots of funky clothes, shoes, gobs of make up and occasionally some fake eye lashes.  After having kids, I reserve the funk for nights out and keep it real on the weekdays in stylin' yoga pants and baggy Xavier University sweatshirts that used to be my Dad's.

I have entered a new era.  The professional era.  I get to start seeing clients this summer for my first round of internships.  After assessing my wardrobe and realizing that I cannot go to interviews or therapy sessions in yoga pants and I will absolutely have to wear a bra, the challenge was issued:  I had to find some clothes that merged the gap between funky, comfy Jane and professional Jane.  Oh yeah, and we are on a serious budget!

I got two people on board to assist.  The two most fashion conservative people I know- Mom and Dad.  So Mary Ann, Tim, and I embarked on a true adventure:  Suit shopping.  And some of my favorite quotes from today went like this:  "Go LEFT Magellan, the suits are that way...Jane, you cannot have buckles or sequins, the funk has to stay on the inside of the shoe... no, a hot pink purse is probably not the best thing to take to a first interview... Earrings that big are only going to attract seagulls...No we are not going to the juniors department.  You are a grown woman with children!!!"  Let me tell you.  I had a blast.  First of all, the further I fall into the abyss of  the adult world, the more HAAAAALARIOUS my parents get.    Those two had me cracking up and my dad was the best purse carrier on the planet.  I had such a throw back.  I don't think I have shopped with both my parents since 1988 and that was for my first communion dress. 

They were also awesome at picking out clothes that really hit the mark.  I got a black suit- WITH PANTS- (so I could keep it as Diane Keaton as possible- Dad knew EXACTLY what I meant with that) and the coolest blue dress.  It went so well, that I think I would totally go shopping with my parents again! Who knew conservative Catholic parents were the best personal shoppers EVER!!!!

p.s. Nate has offered to proof read my blogs after finding spelling and grammatical errors so enjoy my newly furbished blogs with minimal errors (my dork ass husband just spend 15 minutes looking up the word "furbished" and trying to figure out if I should use "refurbished" instead.  Nerd ALERT)  Passion and hilarity don't always respond to spell check (anal much, Nate???)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The sucky vegetarian

Alright, so January is coming to a close and I have determined myself to be the worst vegetarian of all time.  I cannot believe how hard it has become for me to give up meat!  I have eaten meat five times this month, which is a vast improvement over 5 times a week, but I still feel like a punk.  Dairy was a much easier feat.  I ate dairy once this month. 

The most frustrating part is that I started out with such GUSTO!!!  I was ready to take on the raw vegan world!  Then I slipped into some wings (noted weakness from other blogs) and blue cheese.  That started a downward spiral.  Its funny that four out of the five times I ate meat were this week.  This has been a stressful week for me.  I am a creature of habit and snow has screwed up my routine.  Frustration, fatigue, and boredom  really put me in a Debbie Downer mood!  I noticed that the more cranky I became, the more cooking shows I watched and damn you Giada, you make meat look so yummy and beautiful!!!

Observation has allowed me to note a couple of things:  Much like addiction, I am going to have to change places and things.  I love to go out to restaurants and vegan options are few and far between, let alone raw options.  I always feel like a douche giving chefs specific instructions- as if they don't have enough shit to worry about!  So here is where I need my vegan/vegetarian buddies.  I need to know restaurants in the area that have good wheat free, gluten free, vegan food.  Please, shoot me ideas!  I am incapable of going to Station Taproom and not ordering wings. 

Another thing of note is that when I was cranky, bored, and tired, I was more likely to give into temptation.  I think that generally happens to all of us.  Since it is inevitable that I will get tired, bored, and cranky, I'm pretty sure I need to find a hobby or distraction.  I really thought I had enough at this point???  Blogs, kids, grad school, cross fit...hmmm...

Another stupid thing I did was cook meat for my family and then served it to them.  That's like a crack addict firing up a crack pipe and handing it to someone.  There was bound to be a puff or two.  I think from now on, Nate is on meat duty. 

Here are my new strategies:
1. Celebrate my accomplishments- I greatly reduced my carbon footprint and got into some really good habits
2.  Forgive- I am bound to have some slip ups.  Observe the cause/feeling, find a replacement behavior, and move on
3.  Come up with these strategies and get my family on board. 
4.  My goal for February is to cut my meat consumption in 1/2 and try not to partake at all. 

Thanks for listening to me rant.  I really needed to vent and I need to be held accountable, even if it is to the internet :0) 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Generosity and the Broad Street Run

So as of a couple of weeks ago, I kept seeing status updates on facebook about people signing up for the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia.  Its a 10 mile run that happens at the beginning of May.  I have been an "unstructured" runner my entire life.  Running has always been an important part of training for tennis and other sports I play.  As a new mom, the jogging stroller became a huge helper in battling bouts of stay-at-home mom boredom and getting back in shape after my pregnancies.

Running isn't exactly my favorite.  I'm not fast and frankly, I don't have that gazelle like runner's physique.  I run more like a buffalo.  But there is a love hate relationship going on there.  I keep doing it, so the love must outweigh the hate. 

The straw that broke the camels back in registering for the race happened at Crossfit last week (www.crossfitinspire.com).  One of my fellow work out friends complimented my buffalo running form and asked if I was running the race.  Then I found out that they were forming a team and  I could run with them.  Still nervous, (10 miles is A LOT), scared, and unsure about time commitment, I tried to talk myself out of it.  There is this little voice in my head that keeps me from bitching out on things.  I wouldn't exactly call it a conscience, but its there.  I kept thinking about the run and decided to tap one of my favorite resources for advice- my friend Derek. 

Derek is insane.  Seriously insane.  He runs marathons, 6 thousand k's, and is one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic people I have ever met.  Talking to Derek was totally a subconscious move by my non-conscience to get the encouragement I needed to run the race.  He wrote up a training plan for me and gave me a much needed, "you can do this" boost.  I even confided in him about my fund raising fears.  Raising 500 dollars seemed completely daunting.  I left sales years ago, and I have no plan of returning.

But I did it.  Between Derek and the "don't bitch out" voice, I signed up for the race.  I sent an email to family and friends about the race and asking for donations for the American Cancer Society.  I posted on facebook hoping to get some more financial support that way.  I am so blown away by the response. 

I sent the email on Monday night.  It is now Wednesday and I am almost half way to my pledge goal of 500 dollars.  I couldn't believe the response!!!  But guess what, I should have known better.  I have the most generous, amazing people in my life.  I should not have been surprised in the least by the amazing response.  So this is my thank you.  I was almost in tears seeing one friend donate 125 bucks!!!  Seriously!!!  Amazing!!! 

Every training mile I run and every mile of that race is dedicated to my friends and loved ones, especially my Grandpa Thompson. I will be thinking of you during my runs and praying for you and your family members whose lives have been affected by cancer. Thank you for giving me the courage, strength, and inspiration to run this race.  Thank you for being such an important part of my life.  I love you guys!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's the little things

As most of you have gathered, I am pretty health conscious.  It wasn't always this way.  Many of you have witnessed my man sized appetite (that hasn't changed) and my amazing ability to make a large plate of nachos my bitch.  Those days started to change when I met my husband- who at the time was far more health conscious than I was.  He taught me some of the foundations of health:
1. white flour is bad for you (who knew???)
2. nutrisweet is horrible and if it didn't come from nature, it shouldn't be consumed (but it says DIET coke!!!)
3. smoking is not the best idea for someone who is a college athlete (I could still run 3 miles and smoke a pack a day, take THAT!)

But despite my resistance, love makes you do stupid things and thankfully I made lots and lots of changes.  In fact, the old hubster really created a monster.

So this morning, as I'm making my green smoothie, I walk over to the couch to sit with the girls.  Then my morning miracle happened:  "MOMMY!!!  I WANT SOME!!!!"  And before I knew it, 24 oz. of kale, pineapple, bananas, and cherries disappeared faster than the old school plate of nachos.

It's these little things that make me happy.  My girls won't grow up thinking that diet yogurt, pretzels, and soda are nutritious.  They know what healthy food is and that it is palatable.  They can recognize that when they eat unhealthy food, they feel like crap.  So at ages 3 and 5, those chicks know WAY more about nutrition than I did at 21 (you mean deep fried is BAD for you?????  WHAT????  But a cheese steak has meat, cheese, and bread!  Those are food groups!!!  BBQ sauce is made from tomatoes!)

Green Smoothie Recipe:
2 bananas
1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 cup frozen cherries
4 kale leaves
8 oz water
and blend blend blend 

Monday, January 24, 2011

My way of dealing with drivers with road rage

I love to drive.  I love to drive fast.  I am a stay at home mom, so I can choose to do my driving before and after rush hour most of the time.  I am lucky in that way. 

Because I can drive at optimal times and when I am in the car, my kids are usually strapped down, some of my most peaceful moments come during driving.  I can think, listen to Ke$ha, no one is asking me to make them food, wipe their ass, or get them a toy (most of the time). 

So this afternoon I was driving home from Frasier after a wonderful visit at Oasis Living Cuisine (best raw vegan/vegetarian restaurant in the area bar none!) and had a belly full of delicious mint chocolate.  So I'm driving with my nice chocolate buzz while listening to Lilah sing some Katy Perry tunes.  I pull up to a four way stop at the same time as another woman.  She frantically is waving me on like her arm is on fire and she is clearly pissed off.  Why?  I have no idea.  Just in a hurry to get to Kohls I guess.  So I proceeded to do my favorite road rage move. 

Wait for it...you are going to love this. 

I blow people kisses.  I started doing this about 5 years ago when giving the finger became a poor option because of my precious cargo.  It is freaking hysterical.  The road rage drivers really don't know whether to shit or go blind.  Especially now that I have gender bending hair, people are absolutely befuddled.  They aren't sure if I'm a man or a woman and why the hell I am blowing them kisses???  Best move ever. And instead of spending the rest of the day cranky and pissed that the lady was so rude, I am laughing my ass off thinking about her face when an unidentified she-man blew her a kiss!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This winter sucks

This has been the worst winter for illness in my family in a long time.  I'm not sure if its the changing of the zodiac or what, but it seems like our family has been sick with something since Thanksgiving.  The health freak in my would like to attribute this to all of the shitty food everyone was eating over the holidays (and by shitty, I mean delicious, fattening, and horribly fun).  I did not eat as poorly and my husband and my children and have been the least ill of all of us but as I replace my morning coffees with green vegetable juices, I am noticing some major detoxing. 

For me, the sinuses are the first place I suffer when I am detoxing or eating in a non-optimal way.  I know I am not the only one.  I am seeing lots of stuffy noses and hearing lots of muffled, snot filled speech when I am out and about.  Here are a few simple tips I have learned that help keep colds and sinus infections at bay:

1. Go for it.  Buy a neti pot.  And do me a favor, don't fill it with iodized salt or table salt.  PLEASE.  I beg you!!!  Get Himalayan Salt.  You can get it at Wegmans, Giant, or Kimberton Whole Foods. Its usually 5-6 bucks for 6oz. 

2. Sleep.  Get enough.  Stop your late night Kardashian watching for one extra hour and go to bed.  Even better, go to bed two hours early, have sex (remember from a previous blog- immune boosting), and get to sleep. 

3. Stop eating dairy.  Dairy is mucous forming.  If you want to cut out some serious snot, boogies, and sinus pain- knock dairy completely out at the first sign of a cold/sinus pain

4.  Cayenne Lemonade.  It's simple.  Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a cup.  Add 1/8 or less tsp of cayenne pepper (the powder in your cabinet), add honey, stevia, or agave, warm water and drink.  Cayenne will help decrease inflammation and get things moving again. 

I hope we all get through the rest of this winter with less snot, sinus pressure, and fewer doctor visits!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Optimal Identity

This is a short one today.  I am going to address the ongoing Zodiac crisis/Identity crisis/bad tattoo crisis.

I am all about astrology.  I think its fun. I have multiple books about it and at one time in my life was passionate enough about it to have aquired the knowledge to read charts.  Don't ask, I have a blog now and don't have time :0)


You are super special and sooooo beyond labels.  We all have bad tattoos.  Embrace them as apart of the time in your life when you had enough balls to go out and get a bad tattoo and thought you were an Aquarius but really turned out to be a Capricorn (Just sayin'). So as much as I love astrology, my bad tattoo, and being an Aquarius/Capricorn hybrid, I am still Jane.  You are still you.   And YOUR life is going to keep going on your terms because you are uniquely, beautifully, and wonderfully you. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simple Ways to Incorporate Optimal Self Care

Before I forget, a friend wrote to me and asked me about eating beans.  I was restricted on beans because of my candida, but beans are just fine in a balanced diet.  If you are restricting your sugar/carbohydrate load for any reason (candida, diabetes, etc.) you may just want to watch amount.  Maybe keep it to 1/2 cup/day.

Here are some self care suggestions that you have probably heard 1,000 times, know are good for you, but still may not be incorporating them into your life.  I'm also going to include some ways that I have been to incorporate them as habits into my life.

1. Drink 1/2 your body weight in water/day.  For most of us, that is over 60 oz.  For those of you who don't like water, that might be a challenge.  Here are a couple of ways to get into the habit- Travel with one of those 20 oz. aluminum water bottles.  Fill it three times throughout the day and drink.  If you don't like the taste of water, fill your bottle with water, lemon juice, lime juice and a couple of packets of stevia.  Shake and enjoy.  There are tons of flavored waters out there now.  Make sure they are not filled with calories, high fructose corn syrup, or any other additives.  If you don't know what it is or how to pronounce it, it shouldn't go into your mouth.

2. 30-60 minutes of daily exercise.  Now this is a doozy.  I know.  Believe me.  I know.  Especially for those of you who work, have kids, and are involved in a million adult extra curricular activities.  This can be overwhelming and feel selfish when you have so many other things to do.  The best place to start is your couch.  When you are sitting down on the couch to relax, exercise on commercial breaks.  Every half hour show has about 10 minutes of commercial breaks in it.  Take every break and do stomach crunches, push ups (wall push ups work great for beginners), jumping jacks, pretend to jump rope, actually jump rope, run/walk in place, use free weights.  Replace a show you aren't really that into with one of those On Demand exercise shows.  Get up a little early and do 15 minutes of free weights or yoga before work.  Do another 15 minutes when you get home from work.  I used to get on a yoga mat and use my children for weights/resistance.  They loved it and it was really funny (laughing is great ab work!).  There are other, more social and awesome ways to get in a work out.  Go dancing with your friends, walk around the city before you sit down for a nice dinner, or find a local park/hiking trail and explore!!!

3.  Sleep.  Go to bed.  Seriously.  Turn off your t.v. at 10 p.m., have sex with your partner or old lefty and go to bed.  Sex/orgasm is a major immune system booster.  Keeping in tune with yourself and your sexuality keeps you connected with your partner/self, feels great, and helps to reduce stress.  A little lovin will help keep you healthy.  As if we needed an excuse, right???

4.  Stop stressing out.  Way easier said than done, but seriously, knock it off!  Try meditation, yoga, meeting up with your friends for a good vent session.  All of these are great ways to decompress. 

Okay.  Dumbing it down:  drink water, exercise, sleep, have sex (with self or other- RESPONSIBLY), and find healthy ways to manage stress.

Love and optimal health!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More about Dietary Changes and Migraines

So my friend Derek mentioned to me that he was starting/investigating the Paleo Diet.  Derek is an amazing athlete and is always looking to fine tune his health to up his athletic performance.  I looked at the website again to refresh my Paleo knowledge and it basically gives you the same dietary guidelines I gave you yesterday.  Apparently, the more simplistic your diet and the closer your food approaches the way nature intended food to be, the healthier you will feel. Seems like a pretty easy concept and I can personally attest that this works.  Even so called "health foods" are not healthy:  power bars, vitamin water, diet ANYTHING, low fat ANYTHING, etc.  If it comes in a box:  Do NOT eat it ;0)  I would highly recommend checking out the website and resources on the Paleo diet for anyone who is suffering from any health condition.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it is very easy to be meat free in this lifestyle.  Dairy isn't an issue, so you would only be giving up beans, grains, and sugar (only, she says). 

Here are some testimonials from headache sufferers that did the Paleo Diet:


A great resource for the vegetarians/ vegans or anyone headed in the raw direction is my newest and most favorite book:  The Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw.  This explains the "Why on earth would you do that" and the "How the hell do you make that work for your daily life" questions.  Per a request, here is what my eating has looked like so far today:

A.M. 24 oz of Vegetable juice (I have a juicer.  It rules.  Invest in one.  Easy for me to say since somebody gave me theirs for free)  It was composed of 1 lemon, 1 lime, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots, a beet and greens, 3 kale leaves, a piece of fresh ginger.  You can add stevia to this, but I am tough, so I just chug that shit like its my bitch.

Noon (yes, I am cool until noon)  Three of my famous coconut chocolate truffles.  These are what I always bring to parties.  No one ever knows they are raw and if you love dark chocolate, they are so delicious and easy to make!!!  And a smoothie with 2 scoops of Sun Warrior Protein Powder, 2 cups spinach, 1 tspn Maca powder (increases endurance and sex drive whoo hoo!), 1 tspn of Camu powder (full of vitamin C, great this time of year for fighting off colds and flus), 1 tbspn Raw Cacoa, 1 tbspn Cacoa nibs, and 1 stevia packet.  

I will probably drink my current favorite smoothie for dinner- 1 lemon, 1 lime, 2 frozen bananas,  fresh pineapple or orange juice blended into a delicious, yumtastic treat. 

A snack staple for me are Lara Bars.  My kids love the hell out of them and so do I.  Be careful, though, a lot of the chocolate flavors have added sugar in the chocolate chips. 

Most of the food items you haven't heard of are what are known as Superfoods.  You can get them at any Whole Foods store and Wegmans is even starting to carry them.  They are great add ins for extra vitamin boosts.  Maca is my favorite because I have hypothyroidism and it helps to keep me balanced and ready for "action" shall we say ;0)

I know for most people, some of the things I have mentioned are completely new and quite odd. To be honest, until a few years ago, I had no idea what any of this shit was.  Don't forget, the best motto is KISS- Keep it simple, stupid.  Someone who is just starting out might want their meals to look like this:  Breakfast- peel a banana, or make a delicious fruit salad Lunch- spinach salad with olive oil, kalamata olives, and chicken, Dinner- steak or fish and roasted veggies.  Snack- Lara bar

Again, please shoot me any questions.  I know this seems daunting, but you will always have support from me and no question is too weird, gross, or stupid.  I have probably asked it myself. 

Hope your day is full of love, health, and that you feel AMAZING!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Migraines. More than just headaches. They are assholes.

Now I'm getting requests.  I LOVE IT!!!  Keep them coming! 

Today's post is close to my heart.  So close, that I am going to try to do a series of blogs on the topic of migraines.  I have been suffering from migraine headaches since childhood and I know from personal experience EXACTLY how debilitating they can be. 

Migraines can come on for as many reasons as there are people who suffer from them.  Some sufferers can narrow their assholes (my nickname for migraines) to food triggers, their periods (assholes on top of assholes), or stress.  I was not one of those lucky people.  I could never narrow it down.  I was getting to the point where I was having anxiety attacks because I saw sunspots or an eye floater and thought it was an aura, which for many, signals that the asshole is on its way.  Oh yeah, and meds, sorry for my luck.  They never worked.  This is something I am thankful for now.  So after years of researching, reading, and self medicating with various herbs, I finally broke down and talked to a holistic nutritionist at Lionville Natural Pharmacy (Ben Briggs is amazing!  I would totally recommend seeing him for ANY ailment, not just migraines).  When I went to my appointment, I was skeptical.  Nothing had ever helped me before, but I was willing to try anything.  The first thing I was told was to cut out sugar and grains/wheat completely.  I even had to limit what fruits I ate.  This was part of another underlying condition, candida, which is an overgrowth of yeast in the body.  Mine was causing sinus infections on top of migraines.  It was caused from a long term course of antibiotics I was on from when I had Lymes Disease.  Then he gave me a paychecks worth of supplements and sent me on my way. 

My first thought was, "Great, I just spent a shit ton of money on vitamins and being told I can't eat anything awesome ever again."  But I put my mind to it and followed the diet and supplement regime.  Ben did tell me that eventually I would be able to wean myself off of all of the supplements once my body had finally figured out how to absorb nutrients (a problem from the Candida) which was causing my body to have migraines.  The assholes were acting as my body's distress signal.

Here are my results:  In the past year, I have gone from having 3-4 migraines/month to having 4 migraines in the last year.  These were all my own fault.  One I drank too much fruit juice, another I ate dessert at my anniversary dinner, the third and fourth were because of too much cheese and a rendezvous with some deli meat. 

Now does being on a restricted diet suck?  YES.  I cannot eat what other people eat.  I have to explain a lot about my eating habits/condition/situation.  BUT...I am virtually migraine free.  I lost 10 pounds from my body and 100 pounds of anxiety. I have managed to keep them both off for more than a year.  I feel AMAZING.  Cutting out wheat, dairy, and sugar allowed me to transition into the raw foods lifestyle which I had been researching and flirting with for years, but could never get past cravings enough to stick with.   Following the high raw diet is nourishing, nutrient rich, allows me to have a blast trying weird, new recipes, and always gives me something to talk about at dinner parties.  I have WAY more energy than I did a year ago and I think I look better than I did in my 20's.  Even before I had kids.  Oh yeah, and I am weaned down to taking 3 supplements/day.  A multi, an iron/B12 supplement (for anemia and as nutritional insurance), and Migrelief. 

So here is what I had to cut out:  all grain (wheat, rice, etc.), sugar (this was truly what was triggering most of my migraines), all dairy except for greek yogurt, starchy vegetables (potatoes, yams, and corn), very sweet fruit and dried fruit (bananas, raisins, etc.) 

Here is what I could eat:  meat, fish, greek yogurt, butter, almond butter, oils (olive oil, coconut oil, canola, any health oil), nuts and seeds but NO PEANUTS or CASHEWS,  fruits (berries, lemons, limes and green granny smith apples. That's it), almost all veggies except for the ones listed above (carrots were starchy, but okay as long as they were raw), unsweetened coconut milk (the So Delicious brand is great and I would add stevia to sweeten).  NO BOOZE, especially beer (that was especially painful for me). I stayed completely off for about 3 months, now I drink maybe twice a month. 

Something I loved was stevia.  It was my saving grace. You can buy it in a powder form at Giant or Wegmans and I would put lemon and lime juice in my water bottle and throw a couple of packets of stevia in there and have lemonade.  I would also add it to my greek yogurt. That really helped kick the sweet cravings to the curb. 

The supplement I found the most helpful is called Migrelief. I take it every day and it works beautifully.  I have even taken it during a migraine and it helped more than any over the counter pain killer ever could.  It took the asshole from a 7 down to a 2.  This enables me to function through a migraine.  I could never do that before.

Now I want to remind you guys of something I said earlier:  Migraines are very individual.  This worked for me, but may not be the answer for you.  I wanted to start with my success story to encourage you guys who suffer greatly with migraines.  Over the next couple of days, I am going to regurgitate some of the stuff I know about migraines so that hopefully some of this information can help you and you can be on your own path to being free of this asshole once and for all!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Owning Body after Baby

A lot of my friends have recently had babies, are pregnant, or have been moms for a long time.  It is a very interesting, exciting, and scary journey going through a pregnancy, birth, and possible breast feeding.  Your body goes through the physical metamorphosis of a lifetime and sometimes your brain does not have time to catch up with your ever changing shape.  It can be very overwhelming to see your breast enlarge to proportions you never thought possible, to see stretch marks, loose skin, and a stomach that you think cannot get any bigger and then manages to do so.  The most frustrating thing after I had my children was coping with my pregnancy choices after the baby was born.  With both of my daughters, I gained between 40-50 pounds.  It was not an easy road getting those extra thirty pounds off of my body.   Plus, its not like you have built in chefs, nanny services, and personal trainers to help you on this journey.  What I learned from seeing my body change over two pregnancies, years of breast feeding, and losing 40-50 pounds (twice) are these little gems that I am going to share with my new, almost, and current mommies who may be struggling with body image:

1.  YOU popped out a human being.  YOU made a person.  YOU did that!  YOU are a superhero and YOU can do anything you put your mind to doing!

2. Sometimes the frustration with the physical changes of having a baby are representative of the frustration of the huge life changes that have taken place.  I HAD to get my body back.  Not because I want to look like Jessica Alba (I lie, I would kill to have her body) but because I NEEDED to have that piece of myself back.  I have always been an athlete and I needed my physical body and the escape of exercise to feel like me.  I needed to have some part of the old Jane back as a reminder that I am not just MOM or WIFE.  I still have my own identity.  Find that "thing" that makes you feel like you and connect with it.  It may be mountain climbing, yoga, zumba, crossfit, running, swimming, martial arts, kettlebells, or walking/hiking.  Find it.  It will keep you sane and feeling like yourself. I did videos at home and eventually, when the girls were older, ventured to the Y and put them in the babysitting. 

3.  Not only are their physical changes that come along with being a mommy, but there are psychological changes, hormonal changes, and relationship changes that are not always easy or fun to deal with.  Surround yourself with honest, loving friends who you can be your most authentic self with.  Sharing the battles of new mommyhood together brings a bond like nothing else.  Moms often need another mother to say, "This blows!!!  I want my life back!"  Do not be afraid to say "This sucks and some days I want out!"  As much as you love your beautiful children, your newly found role as a mother, and your superhuman powers to be everything to everyone, sometimes it sucks and it is brave, not weak, to say so!

4. Get your spouse on board.  Talk to them candidly about how you are feeling emotionally and physically.  Let them help you.  Nate and I went to the gym together.  Honest to God, he would wear Molly in the baby carrier while we walked on the treadmill and talked.  We would also cook together which was so much fun!  Especially if you are working on one income and money is tight, a fun cooking session in the kitchen together can be better than an expensive dinner out.  Do a yoga video together after baby goes to bed.  Take a walk around your neighborhood with the baby in the stroller.  Most likely your husband may have gained a few on those late night food runs, too and may want to release a few pounds.  You need each other more than ever now in your journey as parents!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Optimal Denial

Every one has a different truth and every truth should be respected.  The path's we are on should not be forced upon each other, but listened to and respected.  Some of us are ready to hear and accept certain "truths" while others are not.  It does not make any of our experiences any less valid, an less real, or any less deserving of tolerance. 

A specific example I can give you of my truth is my hopeful return to vegetarianism.  I have been an on and off vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan for years.  When I have broken with vegetarianism, I have felt guilt.  Yes, I could chow down a plate of wings with the best of them, but every time I am participate in eating meat, I feel guilt, sadness, and remorse.  Sometimes these feelings have been stronger than other times, but they have been there all along.  That is no way for me to properly nourish my body or soul. 

I cannot deny that factory farming exists and the poor treatment of animals.  I refuse to eat grocery items that are laden with chemicals and hormones.  This choice is for my own body and my own health.  I am going to stop being in denial. 

One thing I will continue to deny in my overcoming of denial (hahahaha) is being a crusader.  Don't think for one minute, my friends, that when you are eating wings at Station Taproom or a delicious steak, that I am going to lecture you or tell you about factory farming, or try to tell you that your truth should be the same as mine.  That is not part of my journey.  If you are my friend, I love you and I love your truth.  It may be different than mine, but is no less valid.  So please, have the same respect for me.  I love questions and I love to discuss health, but I do not want to justify my choices, nor should I have to.  

Reflect on this the next time you find yourself judging someone's life choices:  Why am I in denial of the validity of other's life choices?  Am I so caught up in my own denial that I fear other people's truths?  Is my denial optimal and servicing me well or is it making my life less enjoyable? 

Sometimes a little denial is needed for whatever reason, but in my case, guilt was coming with eating, thus creating a toxic internal environment for myself and causing me to improperly nourishing my body and my psychological well being. 


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Optimal Regression

One film strip I will never forget from undergrad was a filmstrip about Erik Erikson's stages of human development.  The part of the strip that I seem to be reminded of on a weekly basis was a part about how we as adults regress, especially with our romantic partners.  This type of regression often mimics the relationships between mother and son or father and daughter.  Sometimes these are healthy regressions, sometimes not so much because they can drain the life energy from ourselves, from our partners, or from both parties.

So yesterday, after taking care of my stomach bug ridden child for the past few days and feeling a smidge on the yucky side myself, I stopped, dropped, and regressed.  My husband started it!  He totally did! And I'm pretty sure he did it on purpose (example of regression).  He laid down on the couch.  That bastard laid down on the couch.  I had so much work to do, but when he looks comfy and warm, the only thing that I could do is what our family refers to as, "cubbling in."  So I did just that.  I ditched washing the pukey sheets and towels,  got in the fetal position, and cubbled in.  I slept for at least an hour and felt so relaxed.  After taking care of my sick child for almost three days, I really needed to be held and taken care of.  My husband, whether he was conscious of it or not, was happy to play the care taker role. 

So raise your green juice, vodka tonic, glass of water or wine to a little bit of healthy regression!  Sometimes we need to be held and sometimes we need to have temper tantrums with our partners. (We have to keep them on their toes if our relationships are going to last, don't we???)   These things often play out with the people we love the most because of the extreme levels of comfort we feel with them and we know that we can act out with them our psychological issues in an attempt to discover our needs.

As mentioned above, I reflect on the film strip often. My regressions are not always as peaceful as a couch nap. The best ones are of then the full blown crying, screaming temper tantrums where I start off in one place and end up having no idea where I was going or why. I will save that one for another day.  But today's take away point for me is that sometimes regression is necessary for optimal health. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

To have b.o. or not to have b.o.? Is it worth the health risks?

Okay.  I am a huger.  I like to give hugs.  I like to snuggle with my family and the occasional close friend.  So here's the deal.  Every bath item I use I should be able to put in my mouth or eat.  That is the rule of thumb with toiletries.  To be at ultimate health, you should be able to consume any product you use with no ill effects.

Here is the main issue for me:  Deodorant.

I have wasted so much money on natural deodorants that do not work.   I know the health risks linked to regular deodorants but I cannot seem to let go of the body odor issue!  Over the summer I went on a deodorant and shampoo hiatus.  Not a showering hiatus, but I used lemon and lime juice to wash my hair and for soap/deodorant.  I used Dr. Bronner's soap to wash and brush my teeth.   It worked pretty well and no one noticed.  I kept my husband, my sister, and one of my best girlfriends on the detective job.  They had to let me know if they noticed the greasies, stinkies, etc. What a bunch of troopers, they smelled my breath and even my arm pits mid day!!!  I went through the entire summer like this.  It was fine.  I did not look or smell like a dirty hippie who lived in a commune for 6 months.  The only thing that I did experience was slight b.o. after long, hot days or after/during a good work out. 

My quest is to find a natural deodorant that works, mainly for the gym.  I do not want to lift my arm and have someone pass out and have a barbell drop on them and kill them.  I have searched blogs and talked to my hero Becky who works at the local whole foods store.  Upon internet/Becky recommendation, I have selected Aubrey Organics brand.  Two kinds, a roll on (that smells amazing) and a spray.  Last night I used the roll on after my shower and am surprisingly fresh today.  I don't smell like the deodorant, but I don't smelly yucky either.  I will keep you guys posted throughout the week on how its going. 

Here is my list of things in my bathroom

Shampoo and Conditioner:  right now I'm using Burt's Bees because I'm color treating- when I don't color my hair I use Dr. Bronners or just lemon/lime juice
Soap- Dr. Bronners or my favorite scented bar soaps by Pacifica.  They smell so amazing!
Lotion- straight coconut oil for face and body
Toothpaste- Dr. Bronner's Peppermint or Jason Powersmile (I switch tootpastes a lot.  I have also used Tom's of Maine- fennel, and tons of other brands) 

Now some of these things, I admit, I wouldn't eat, but I do the best I can ;0)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How does an optimal health mama deal with a stomach bug???

I'm pretty sure you guys have the same memories of having the stomach bug as I do.  Ginger ale and saltines.  vomit.  rinse.  repeat. 

So...I have been following this same pattern of behavior with my own children up until today.  Why did I continue doing this when I know that sugar is the worst thing you can give someone with a stomach virus and when I rarely give my kids white flour on a day when they are in picture perfect health? Hmmm...let's explore this.

Let me paint the scene.  Its 4:30 a.m. and I hear, "MO-mmy! I think I just bawfed on the couch!!!"  So I'm up, bathing the kid and throwing in the laundry.  Okay.  She's clean, the couch is clean (why she was on the couch?), husband is awake and getting ready for work, and now my other daughter, who heard me turn on a movie to try to lull the puker back to sleep, is awake.  I have no chance of getting to the store to pick up mentioned "sick food."  Now this is serious chance to explore old habits and start trying new things. 

First thing- sipping water.  One teaspoon at a time.  Kept it down. Next, moved on to Ginger Kombucha Tea.  That came up- possibly because she chugged it before I could get the cup away from her. 
*note* This is the kind of child who has the appetite of a 360 pound male wrestler on steroids.*   I was not shocked that she hadn't finished vomiting before she had asked for something to eat.  I'm not kidding, her head was still in the bucket.  At first I was strong.  "No, you have to wait until you can keep this teaspoon of water down for 1 hour until you can eat."  I forget where that came from but it sounds reasonable.

Then the whining started.  I suck at listening to whining.  I hate it with a passion.  "I'M HUNGRY!"  Now the pulling on the pants has started.  "MAWWWWMMMY!!!"  Oh no.  I was weakening.  I quickly headed to the greatest parenting resource on earth:  Google.  Typed in foods to give a kid with a stomach bug.  Came up with brown rice, bananas, toast and some other foods.  I went banana.  Okay, kid.  I'm going to do the polar opposite of everything I have been told in life and give you fruit in the midst of vomiting.  You are my guinea pig.  Good luck.  I gave her a quarter of a banana and a quarter cup of lemon and lime juice mixed with stevia and water upon her request.  Guess what???  She's still alive.  And hasn't thrown up in two hours and is playing her ass off with her sister, thus leaving me alone long enough to blog.

Life lessons of the day:
Its hard to kill kids, even the sickly ones
Listen to the sick person and help them to listen to their bodies (remember:  the lemon/limeaide was my daughter's idea)
Trust your gut (no pun intended, okay, I lied pun totally intended)  and don't just do things because that is what you have always done

Good luck trusting your gut and pray that mine remains unscathed!!!

Starting a Blog

I'm home today.  Home with a child who has a stomach bug.  This is just the kind of thing that I needed to get myself in gear in starting this "intended" blog I have been meaning to start, started then stopped, and has been on my mind for a couple of years. 

So hear it is.  A morning with jack shit to do except keeping on top of the constant influx of laundry and making sure I have a constant eye on my daughter so I can hold her hair back as needed.  I am on break from school, all of my internship applications are turned in, I have explored all of my favorite health blogs for the day, and am tackling that eventual "to-do" list.  You know the one.  The one that has 1. start a blog  2.research cruises on expedia 3. Figure out a way to come up with 12k so your family could take a European Disney Cruise when you are in grad school and working off of a construction worker's income.  Oh yeah, and 4. Apply to local strip club because that is about the only way that the cruise is going to happen. 

Blog goals:
To explore optimal health through eating habits, lifestyle, and emotional health
Try not to cuss like a sailor
Entertain you with my banter, wit, and charm.

God help us all, but here it goes.