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Molly

Featured Lifestyle Nutrition

Top Ten Favorite Meals & Food Realizations of 2018

Most of the time we look forward into the new year with plans and goals and hopes. Of course, I’ve thought of  a few things I’d like to try to work on (catch up on my family photos, continue working on letting go of rules and expectations I created for myself, travel with my family, etc.) but what I’ve realized too, is that I need to also reflect on the past year as well. What have I learned? How have I grown? What did I accomplish? Was I hoping to accomplish that or was it a goal I added along the way? So, in honor of reflection, I accumulated my 10 favorite meals that I cooked at home, and the important realizations about food and cooking that came along with.

 

Top Ten Favorite Meals and Food Realizations of 2018

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Serve Veggies for Breakfast

Especially if your concern for more veggies is for your kids, just remember, they don’t know any different! Adults are the ones who are accustomed to cereal, eggs, toast, pancakes – the breakfast ‘staples’. Add them in slowly if it feels weird, like with this meal – fried egg, bacon & brussel sprouts, or blend them up in a smoothie. It’s only your mind that’s keeping it from happening. Retrain your brain. It’ll thank you later.

 

 

Use Your Spices

What I have noticed in eating real food, is that my palate and taste buds have changed so much. I actually crave the natural tastes of foods. But if you’re not quite there, or just need a little change, get out those spices! Heating up that cauliflower with some cayenne, paprika, turmeric and cinnamon will keep the food interesting and taste buds satiated. Spices also come equipped with an array of health benefits – everything from added vitamins and minerals to having antibacterial properties. Can’t beat that.

 

 

Trust Yourself

Look in your fridge for ingredients. Use your intuition, former eating knowledge, and google if you must to create some kind of delicious meal. For the Ginger Carrot Soup above I had a TON of extra carrots in the fridge, and some broth in the freezer. So I heated some onions, oil and garlic (that’s always a good place to start). Then I grated some ginger, threw in some carrots, and let it simmer. I added some celery from the fridge cause it doesn’t really change the taste much, and it’s healthful. Blended it up and made my husband be the taste tester. Things have turned out first try, no problems. And things have turned out, well, pretty poorly. But that’s the moment you change your relationship with food. What is the taste I’m tasting? What is the taste I need? How do I get it? Sweeter? Saltier? Too spicy? Too bland? It might feel scary. And it might be unfortunate to eat a less than average meal, but nothing else will ever be able to teach you more about cooking at home. It kind of goes back to that saying I used in my classroom, “”Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

 

 

Just Serve Real Food

I often get caught up in thinking myself or my kids need more than just real food. It’s hard because our emotions (in combination with some heavy advertising) get in the way, urging us to eat for comfort or for escape. Instead of reaching for boxes or bags that we can eat and eat and ‘disappear’ for awhile, I try to stay conscious in what I grab, as well as keep my pantry stocked accordingly. I try and keep myself nourished and full, and then deal with the real reason that I want to ‘get away’. Geneen Roth has written a really interesting book titled Women, Food, and God that digs deep into the way we use food as an escape, and that in facing our emotions we are better able to make nourishing choices.

 

 

Meat As A Side 

This idea came about rather naturally. As we increased our vegetable intake something had to give, and we ended up eating less meat. Then while reading from Dr. Mark Hyman, he confirmed that viewing meat as a side might be beneficial to our health. There’s a mix of research out there on it’s benefits. I tend to lean toward this idea that it could have benefits but probably not in excess, so we tend to focus on the veggies first. We also noticed that less meat consumption saved us a few bucks, too. Win, win.

And, just because I like the crispy edges of the meatloaf (yum!), I put it in muffin tins. Turns out it makes it an easy way to create nice portion sizes, too!

 

 

Prepare for Events

Our family went on an epic camping adventure this past summer, and I did not want to give up on the goals we had attained throughout the years, even though it seemed much easier just to eat on the road. So we tried our best to prep and pack our food and it really was an amazing success. All we did was pre-cook our favorite skillet meals (this one is a sweet potato, onion, zucchini, greens and spicy chicken sausage mix), package, and freeze. Then reheated them over the camp burner and fire. It turns out that eating really good food, outside, over the campfire tastes amazing, and gives you the energy and stamina to make your travels that much better.

 

 

Listen to Your Body – Eat Seasonally

We often use the local farmers markets for fresh food in the summer. This year we decided to try out an organic farm-share, Featherstone Farm MN that provided seasonal veggies from spring through fall, and we couldn’t have been happier. It was so interesting to see how the food that showed up in our boxes was the exact food that we were craving. We began to feel what it’s like to eat seasonally. The share also challenged us to eat things we wouldn’t normally pick up at the grocery store, like the turnips used in the crock-pot roast pictured above. It added so much color and variety, which our bodies thrive from. Most importantly, to me, it taught my children about where our food comes from and opened the door to lots of questions and taste-testing. I highly recommend looking into a farm share near you.

 

 

 

Have Fun Meals Together

Although our meals might seem less fun to some, I think we really found that the community aspect of sharing a meal together is actually what makes a meal. We still try to have some “fun food” – taco nights, self serve sweet potato bar (pictured above), snack attack night, and even eating the rainbow. We try to just make the event of eating more important than the actual food. Weather permitting we almost always take it outside. We talk about what we are thankful for, listen to favorite songs, and even play games like Would You Rather or 20 Questions while we eat. The focus leaves the food and moves onto what’s really important about gathering together for a meal.

 

 

Make it Easy

Don’t get me wrong in any of this. Cooking takes time. Sometimes it takes SO much time. So we also have found products and ways to make delicious meals more simply. In general, eating real food does make it quite simple. Meat on the grill, roasted veggies in the oven and you can’t go wrong. Stir-fry and saute, like the one pictured above, are often made from pre-shredded packaged veggies (this one in particular is prepackaged brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, carrots, broccoli with some bacon). It’s so much simpler to have some options to grab and go, ready in the fridge. If you have a trusted source, it’s not bad to buy the product that makes it easier.

 

 

Cooking Is A Part of Who We Are

Our society has turned cooking into this thing on our list of to-do’s that we need to just get done, and get done quick. When in actuality, cooking from home is an age old tradition. There is tremendous benefit to physical health and family emotional health when cooking and eating from home. Experimenting in the kitchen, like pictured above with my homemade beet noodle pad thai, is a part of who we are. What we eat is an indicator of our spiritual health and how we treat ourselves in every way. This year, give yourself the gift of health, connection to family and most importantly connection to you.

Featured Lifestyle

Finding the Time, Part 3: Where’s Your Love?

Sometimes this new phenomenon of self-care can feel like one more thing to do, in an already over-booked schedule. When I needed to incorporate it into my life, I found myself over and over, writing out my daily schedule. Where or how could I fit this in? Exercise, good food, sleep, meditating, reading, quiet time, baths…I mean, come on?!

What I eventually realized was that if I stopped looking at self-care as a thing, and thought of it more as a way, then it easily became a part of my schedule. I wrote out my day. I looked at each tiny part to see if there was a way that I could do it with a little more love…to see where my love was at. Here’s what happened.

 

6:00 am (These parenthesis will show you what my schedule used to say: Wake Up.) My youngest son wakes up and I snuggle him and beg him for a little more sleep. He agrees to the snuggles, but more sleep? Never! So, alas, we snuggle to our hearts’ content, which has become one of my favorite and most loving times of day, and we get up about 6:30. We play games and color and I sip on a warm herbal tea or hot lemon water in one of my favorite mugs. I collect mugs with messages; Renew, Happy, Go with the Flow, Love, etc. They all say something different and are sort of a mantra to help me start my day.

7:15 (Breakfast) The boys are both up and hungry. We feed them breakfast (something like a smoothie and waffle). Nutrient rich foods is a way I show my own body and my family, love. I’ll eat if I’m hungry or not if I’m giving my body a little space. We pack lunches and then continue playing. Is it possible to play too many games?

8:30 (Go to school) We get dressed in snow clothes and head out for a winter hike, or a little rummaging in the snow and fresh air before we leave for school. During the warmer weather we spend this time biking or hiking to school instead. This has become a tiny, but essential piece of our days. It allows us all to breathe in the fresh air, move our bodies, and separate from each other and home in a positive way, for both the kids and parents.

9:00 (Gym) School drop-off for one, and the rest of us head to the gym for a quick workout. It’s usually resistance training with a little elliptical at the end, or a yoga class.  There’s almost always some sauna time because it amps up the sweat and detoxing, and also because it’s something I just really enjoy.

10:30 (Shower/Play/Lunch) We are back home. I added in one extra minute to do some skin brushing (gets the lymph system moving and nervous system going which can leave you feeling energized) before a hot shower. I added in some essential oil lotion afterwards, just for that “I’ve just been at the spa” feeling. We eat, and we continue drawing, reading, playing outside, visiting the library, going to parks, playing with friends and all sorts of entertaining things for a four year old. During the moments that I am not needed, or individual play is occurring, I read, close my eyes and do some meditating or positive affirmations, or do some stationary exercises like planks, lunges, and leg lifts. .

On the days they both have school, I work on my health coaching, blogging, or house chores and projects – usually with a favorite chai tea latte and some good music.

4:00 (Pick up) School pick up and playing outside, even me! It’s a good time for us to be together, to let the communication of the school day sort of flow out, rather than me nagging about what happened. Play is equivalent to joy. It brings us back together after a day apart. There’s usually a lot of laughter and fun, esp when we are sledding down the back hill.

5:30 (Dinner)  A meal with the whole family, almost always a couple veggies with a meat side. Along with dinner we take turns sharing what we are feeling thankful for each day. It’s been interesting to maintain this practice over many years. It really makes you dig deep into what you truly are grateful for.

6:00 (Play time) This is kind of a down time for us – some of us play games while others draw, some of us read or if we are going to do a family movie or game night, now’s the time.

7:00 (Kids’ Bed) Baths, books, and bed. Our boys go to bed at the same time so we had them share a room. That means one of us takes book duty and the other cleans the essentials to get us back on track for the next day. I either get some snuggles, or I turn on my favorite tunes (music is so healing) and zen out while I do the dishes.

8:00 (Clean) Because we made bedtime a one parent job, we get some time together instead! My husband and I meet out in the living room for some extra work time, a show, some reading, some time to pay it forward (send cards, make a meal for a friend, etc), or just have a conversation and a glass of wine.

9:30 (Not normally existent on my schedule) If I’m feeling antsy before bed then I take a steaming bath or head to bed even earlier so I can get myself relaxed by doing a meditation or reading to calm my senses before sleep.

10:00pm (Bed) Hopefully snoozing away. Lights off, noise machine, cool room, a little lavender spray on the sheets, my favorite Wolf Farm lavender lotion on my feet, or sometimes some melatonin supplements. We’ve figured out a few things that help me stay asleep through the night.

3:00am One or both children sneak into our bed. They have become stealth night ninjas and I don’t even know it’s happening until I wake up sweating between the two warmest little boys ever created.

As you can see my work on my health is now intermixed throughout my day. We have slowed down our lives in so many ways and incorporated important pieces (music, working out, meditating, quiet time, reading, calming teas, energizing practices, etc) into our daily lives. Self-care and self-love is not only a certain chunk of time to time set aside. It is a way of living with love all day long. And I can tell you, it feels good to be loved so much.

Sometimes it’s nice to write out your schedule and see what your day is actually filled with.  You might find some down time you don’t realize you have, or you might find yourself filling your time with something you don’t actually want/need to do. It allows a glance, a look, a space to think about and initiate some change.

And to throw in a little extra love.

 

Featured Nutrition

Becoming a Wahls Warrior

There really wasn’t a lot of time where I contemplated becoming a Wahls Warrior. During diagnosis time, I did not feel comforted or settled by medication in any way. I wasn’t experiencing such intense symptoms that I needed relief. So when my sweet sister sent me the Terry Wahls TEDx talk Minding Your Mitochondria, I was really all in. (That’s us pictured above on our adventure to Australia, right before I became pregnant with my first son and this whole, crazy journey began.) I loved that it was something I could try, something I could control, while I figured out what was happening to me. It can be followed with or without medication use, so I figured it was something that would benefit my body regardless of the other decisions I came to. I brought the newfound information to my neuro’s attention who was, to say the least, rudely unaccepting of the idea. But it just resonated with me. It felt too wrong to go against that feeling I had deep in my soul. I had birthed two beautiful boys by c-section. They were only 18 months apart. I had breast-fed them both for a year after birth and had lost all plus some of my baby weight. I was giving away all of my nutrients for 4 years straight! And I had this overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to get myself to the healthiest place I could possibly be before I started injecting myself with something.

So I jumped in. I read the book and started making drastic changes. Three years and a few months later and I am relapse free and feeling great. I have been able to remain drug free, and continue to live an active life. I followed her protocol strictly to start, and have since found ways to adjust it to my lifestyle. I have increased my activity levels, worked on bettering my sleep, and dug into some emotional wounds by writing on my own and reading from great authors. I have become a Wahls Health Coach and am now working on guiding others through the protocol. It has been the greatest blessing to find Terry Wahls (thank you forever, Hannah) and I am so grateful, every day, that she has been brave enough to share her story and hope. The Wahls research team continues to study and provide evidence about her protocol. There are phenomenal testimonies and claims that following her protocol has changed the lives of people dealing with everything from being overweight to Parkinson’s to PANDAS to Multiple Sclerosis and more.

Want to get started right away?  Start adding in fruits and vegetables, at least 2 at every meal. Start noticing your gluten and dairy intake, and start to try alternatives. Both can trigger an inappropriate immune response, esp in those with chronic disease. And don’t forget to move your body every day. You’ll learn more details as you go, but you have to start somewhere.

This is your life and you deserve health. Grab a copy of The Wahls Protocol and The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life, and get started.  And if you need support, let me know.

Featured Lifestyle

Breaking the Lies

Part of my healing these last few years has definitely been through decreasing inflammatory foods, exercising regularly and building muscle, working on getting consistent and enough sleep, meditation, and stress-reduction. But one aspect of my healing that has been really interesting, and possibly the most beneficial, has been what I call looking into my past patterns and breaking the lies.

I write down the moments of my life, starting at birth. With each one I write down the facts and just let the memories of my past come to me. The key is that I no longer judge myself for the memories. Instead, I look at them from an outside perspective and think about what really was happening or why I made certain decisions, and if there was some false belief that led me to them or came from them.

Here’s an example, I was writing down facts from high school and I remembered this tiny memory that I have of riding in the car with my two friends Carolyn and Sarah, after volleyball try-outs for sophomore year were released. I hadn’t made the team, even though I played many years before that moment. I remember how upset my friends were for me, and how I held back the tears and just looked out the window. I blew it off, and just moved on with my life. A few months after that my parents officially divorced. A lot of my choices at that time were not the greatest and were blamed on my parents’ divorce. But as I sat with this memory, and wondered why it reappeared in my thoughts so significantly, I actually started to realize that this loss of my athletic life may have had a lot to do with my choices as well.

When I looked even further back, I realized that growing up I was always the tomboy. I was rough, tough, could always hold my own, wore my hat backwards and my Air Jordans laced up. I was a competitive gymnast, then moved to a school where I played on the varsity volleyball team as an 8th grader. I dabbled in basketball and soccer and I had this athletic life that I didn’t realize was so much of my identity. When I suddenly lost that identity I unknowingly created these lies to fit. When I created the lies that I was not a good enough person to be on this team, and that those who had loved me for being this tough girl wouldn’t love me anymore, my whole self-worth shifted for the worse. And when you have started to believe a lie like this, and lived your life in accordance, than the realities of life can really set you up to confirm that you aren’t enough.

Understanding where this belief stemmed from, I am now able to tell myself that that was a lie I created. Not being on that sports team didn’t mean I wasn’t a good enough person. It didn’t mean that people who had loved me were disappointed in me. All of those people still loved me and still do. I am good. I am loved. And poof. There goes that lie that I believed and tortured myself with for so, so long. I was able to close my eyes and look at that young girl and say, “It’s ok. I’m sorry you believed that, but you don’t have to believe that anymore. You are enough.” I let her heal. I let myself heal.

I continue to look at all these moments, figure out where I created these falsehoods about who I am, and tell myself the truth. I don’t share this memory with any feelings of sadness for not making the team, or any need for pity about what this circumstance led to for me. I share this because I want to show my process of finding my judgements and for the awareness of how easily we create these little lies and false personas for ourselves. Not making the team is a pretty common circumstance. It’s not one that is necessarily going to lead to anything except finding a new team. But you have to be careful about your thoughts, and which ones you choose to believe.

It’s been an interesting process to say the least. To literally sit down and write out my life. I have learned so much, forgiven myself for so much, and established this amount of self-love that I didn’t know possible. It takes a lot of time. It’s an ongoing process, looking back. But it’s worth the work. It’s worth the effort. Because I am worth it.

Lifestyle

Change

“I realize I have a choice. I can let this life crush me. Bearing down on me until I am dead. Or I can bear the weight. And live.” The inspiring, Simon Fitzmaurice, from It’s Not Yet Dark

It was three years ago in June, I was given a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  And in these last three years I have done an incredible amount of writing, reading, thinking, and wondering to try and figure out how I was going to live fully with this diagnosis.

One of the most interesting things I have recently come across is the amazing Dr. Wendy Suzuki’s “Four Causing Factors of Psychological Stress (from her book Healthy Brain, Happy Life):

  1. No control over the situation
  2. No predictive info about what might happen
  3. No social, leisure or fun outlets
  4. The feeling that your situation will only get worse”

Um…hello? This is MS, 100%. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society even defines MS like this – “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.”

unpredictable, often disabling = no control over the situation

unpredictable, often disabling = no predictive info about what might happen

unpredictable, often disabling = no social, leisure or fun outlets (Increased difficulty emotionally and/or physical with attending/participating in social, leisure and fun outlets.)

unpredictable, often disabling = the feeling that your situation will only get worse

So, yeah, it’s no wonder that many patients feel extreme fatigue, depression, lethargy, or defeat. Being completely psychologically stressed can only add to the effects of the disease itself. It makes me wonder if the variety of disease progression rates has anything to do with the perceived psychological stress for each person? (I bet you can guess what I’m going to be reading about next!)

So, I figure, one of my main goals should be to work toward eliminating the potential power an MS diagnosis can have over my prognosis and life. Here’s a few things I’ve tried, noticed, and/or implemented to see if I can conquer the stress of the diagnosis.

  1. No control over the situation = Find control, even in small things.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I left the doctor feeling like there was nothing I could do besides take my meds and go in for scans. I now believe that there is an incredible amount I can do. There are so many ways to improve quality of life in general for people. Those quality of life circumstances like better sleep, quality food, meditation, exercise, etc. can significantly improve your overall life and will therefore effect someone with MS as well. There is a plethora of research, studies, and doctors out there who have spent years researching lifestyle approaches and MS. I study, read, learn, attend lectures, listen to others and figure out the take-aways that will make my own situation that much better.

 

  1. No predictive info about what might happen = You will never know what will happen with MS disease course and that is terrifying. But we also never know what will happen in our lives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         So I meditate, exercise, write and try to reassure and remind myself that the unpredictability of the disease goes along with the unpredictability of life. I maintain the most healthy lifestyle (exercise, sleep, nourishing food, stress reduction) that I am able in order to set myself up for the best possible path that I can. I choose to practice living simply (from the décor in my house to playing with my kids in the dirt) so I can feel the joy of life that comes from meaningful moments and loving relationships, rather than things. I do stuff with people I love because I want to be around them. I do stuff with people who make me laugh because it makes me enjoy life so very much. And I do stuff with people who I feel loved by because then I know I can be my true self with no fear, living an authentic life.

 

  1. No social, leisure or fun outlets = Making an extra effort to not let this happen.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There’s so much potential for the diagnosis to stop you from getting out and having fun whether it’s emotionally not feeling like others will understand or physically one of your symptoms will arise and you’ll have some explaining to do. The key for me is to remember the feeling I have when I do something I love (go hiking, for example). If I’m having an off day and feel anxious to go, I try to remind myself that even going for a little while will give me that feeling that I love. And more than likely the minute I start doing it I will be energized and actually do it longer. Another key for me is to find people I feel comfortable around. People who acknowledge, ask, listen, and laugh because mostly it’s about finding people who let you be this new normal that you are.

 

  1. The feeling that your situation will only get worse = Fill your life with rich experiences and love no matter what the MS situation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This last one takes a lot of effort. The situation for many MSers does get worse. My two fingers might constantly feel like they are asleep, but my mind can still read from great philosophers. I might need to take a rest day if I’ve been doing a lot to make sure I don’t go over the edge to relapse, but doesn’t everyone need to take a rest day? I try to make it enjoyable – books, warm tea, head to the gym for some sauna time, whatever. My body might be changing, and my situation might be getting different, but it doesn’t have to negatively change my life. I can adjust. I still have purpose. I can still affect others with my love, my passion, and my sharing. Purpose is life. Making sure I always have one no matter where MS has taken me keeps me feeling alive.

 

So, I wrote it down in these 4 little easy steps, pretty simple, huh? NOT. AT. ALL. These changes and implementations are difficult and need attention daily. But I do them because I know that I still have so much control in my life, and the more I remain in control and don’t let MS take over the better off I will be. I remind myself constantly that no matter what has been placed in my path, no matter what, I always, always, always have a choice of how I face it.

Upon diagnosis my sweet aunt gave me a journal with the inscription from Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Couldn’t say it better myself.

Whatever your journey, I hope your struggles can’t be matched by your persistence.

Love always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

Finding Emotional Strength

The devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.” Today I whispered in the devil’s ear, “I am the storm.”  unknown

 

Emotional exhaustion can lurk around for many reasons – unsatisfying work or home lives, having stressful family relationships, deaths of loved ones, lack of self-confidence, chronic disease, and many, many others. It is a condition that I feel often gets overlooked, shoved aside, or pushed through. I was finding myself lying down at night, feeling exhausted but completely unable to fall asleep. I realized that my body wasn’t tired, but my soul was tired. It was tired of all the worry and hurt. See, my emotional exhaustion wasn’t from the disease multiple sclerosis, but it did come from the diagnosis of it.

If you are familiar with MS than you know that it is a diagnosis of complete uncertainty. The course of disease is different for every single person who faces it. Some people have an episode and never have another again. Some people have episodes on top of episodes and face a fast-paced level of the disease. And these episodes? They can be disruptive at any place in your body. Some people experience problems with nerves and tingling, some with walking, some with grip strength, some people lose their vision, some people lose their cognition. Some people experience short life spans due to disease complications, and some live into old age. There is no cure, but there are medications that might lessen progression, or the medications could cause serious harm to your body. Sounds fun, right?

So, imagine waking up every day, opening your eyes, being thankful you are still here, then doing a complete body check – is everything working? Does anything feel funny? No, ok. Not today. You head out to make breakfast for your family. While you’re cooking you accidentally drop the spatula and it hits the pan and sprays some scrambled eggs around. Oh, god…did I drop that because I have MS? Am I losing my grip? Is it happening? No, people drop things. Everything is fine. You are fine. Emotionally exhausted and it’s 7:15 am.

And I know in general, life in grief, for any reason, is tiring. And some days you just start to say why? and wonder how? And it can all spiral into a pretty negative self-talk place pretty fast. So to avoid letting my grief be in charge, I have collected a list of ways I try to quiet it. I don’t want to avoid it, but sometimes I just don’t want to hear it screaming in my ears.

 

Quieting the Grief

Read Inspiration – Read from people who have experienced hardships (like yours or not!), read from great thinkers of the past, read from people who study concepts like grief or confidence or vulnerability, learn how others are getting through because we all know that no one makes it through this life with a squeaky clean slate. You can even just google inspirational quotes, and most of the time something will resonate and push your mind toward being hopeful.

Rest –  Check if the feeling is actually a physical exhaustion. Being tired makes everything worse. If you lay down and fall asleep, great! If you lay down and end up just lying there thinking and thinking, then move on to a meditation. Guided meditations are available in bookstores, and even online.

Exercise – Head to the gym, walk outdoors, hike, bike, go to a yoga class. Concentrate on moving your body, focus on your muscles. It’ll get those good juices flowing, and help you concentrate on your body rather than your thoughts.

Get Your Brain Busy – So many times, as adults, we forget to let our brain play a little. Do puzzles, play games, get out the cards, print a crossword puzzle offline, read a mystery novel. Just give your brain something else (and something fun) to think about.

Laugh – Watch a stand up comedian or a funny show. Let someone else point out some of the joys in the world.

Find Your People – Get a hold of some of your people. The ones who know the story. The ones who always make you forget. The ones who are just funny and make you laugh. You might have only one. You might have a lot. And if you find yourself with none, then maybe it’s time to pick one, take them out for coffee, and tell them your story. Communities regarding your subject pop up all around, too. There are usually meetings/gatherings around if you look for them. Social media is an excellent place to find other people who know how you feel, and a great place to share your story.

Spread Love/Volunteer – Just go do some nice things for other people. Being kind fills your soul and gives you purpose. Finding purpose is one of the best ways to combat feeling at a loss. I usually drag my kids along, cause they’re cute, and we do things like buy a bouquet of flowers and hand them out outside the store, or buy coffee gift cards and put them on random cars in the parking lot. We have also done non-monetary things like make cute, little snowmen along the trail in our town, and draw pictures and tape them around different places for people to take. There’s a lot of power in kindness.

Learn/Do Something New – Take a class, learn a skill, create a hobby. Your grief is already in the process of growing you as a person, you might as well add a few great, new skill sets along the way.

Spoil Yourself –  Love on yourself a little. Get a massage, buy a new plant, go to the stylist just to have them wash your hair, turn off your phone and email and just lounge for an entire day, go out for a meal and be waited on, anything!

Create Something – Not only will creation get your mind off things, there is also a chance that it will release some of the grief, as well. Paint, draw, write, knit, sew, build, garden, design, change the layout of your bedroom, just let your mind make something new.

And my favorite…NATURE…Get Outside. Plain and simple. Feel the sun, breathe the fresh air, watch the sparkles of sunshine flicker in the puddles on the ground. Nature can’t help itself but be beautiful, and eventually the beauty rubs off on you.

 

Whatever the case, some days it’s ok to let grief be grief. I cry and cry and beg and whine and say this is not fair a million times. But most days, I need to quiet it down, to train my brain that this is my life now. That there are hard struggles, but that I still have purpose in this life. And mostly, to remind myself, that life is still so, so full of good.

 

 

 

Lifestyle Nutrition

Align

After digging into nutrition quite a bit, I have realized that there is a tremendous amount of information out there and we are learning more and more all of the time. There are so many different ways to eat, and things to eat, that I feel like each of them has their own benefits. Sometimes I feel lost in what to do.

It is overwhelming to try to figure out what to do to keep yourself at peak performance. You will find that you should eat meat. You will find that you shouldn’t eat meat. You will find that carbs are good, but not too many, and only certain types. You will find that veggies are important, but you have to be careful eating them raw if you have thyroid issues (do I have thyroid issues?) and even that the way you cook your food can change it’s nutritional value all together. Not to mention the latest research I’ve been encountering – individualized nutrition and eating for your blood type! That swirling door of options and continual growth, with no concrete answers, can feel like chaos. When that chaotic, anxious feeling encircles a choice in your life (whatever that choice may be) I have learned that you have to find your ground before you make a decision. You have to be in tune with your path in order to stay aligned.

After my diagnosis, the doctors and the drug companies took over my life. I did not feel involved in the plan or the choices. There was obviously a set protocol to follow with MS that began to fall into place, and the drug company was calling me on the regular to get started on their medication. For some reason (god, intuition, fate whatever you want to call it) I just couldn’t go along with it right then. I wanted to take a minute. Everything was spinning so fast, and I just wanted everything to slow down for a second. I wanted a moment to breathe and to let this all sink in. I wanted to learn about what was happening to me. I wanted to think about what it was going to mean to put injections into my body everyday, or leave my children for hours at a time for infusions. I wanted time to understand the short-term and long-term effectiveness of some of these drugs. I wanted time to look at side-effects like nausea, respiratory infections, liver complications, and even brain infections and death, and make the decisions that were best for me and my family. I ended up going on a different path than the doctor suggested, and whether or not it’s the best one according to other people (doctors or not) it seriously doesn’t matter because it is the best one for me. I feel like my life has been successful these last 3 years because I listened. I am giving my time and energy to the things that truly matter to me, and therefore my life is being lived in alignment with my soul.

Deepak Chopra’s The Book of Secrets has an excellent section about this idea. He discusses how your choices are obviously important. For example, if you are trying to decide how you are going to nourish your body, that is important. But ultimately, there is a set of deeper level questions that matter more to your living than which diet you choose.

“Does this choice feel right for me?

Am I interested in where this choice is leading?

Do I like the people involved?

Is this choice good for my whole family?

Does this choice make sense given my stage in life?

Do I feel morally justified in making this choice?

Will this choice help me grow?

Do I have a chance to be more creative and inspired by what I am about to do?”

He continues on, “It’s when these things go wrong (the situations listed above) that choices don’t work out. People who can assess their choices at the deeper level of awareness are aligning themselves with infinite intelligence, and thus they have a greater chance for success than does someone who crunches the numbers.”

I am not writing on this blog to tell someone with MS how to live, or the path that they should follow. Every single person will have their own. I’m not sharing my knowledge about nutrition because I have one perfect diet that will make perfect health. There is so much we have yet to understand about nutrition. I am writing because I’m encouraging you to find your own way with the path of your life. We are inundated with information. Our society is expanding and curious, and has lots of different answers for everything. I am not here with the answers, I am here encouraging you to take a moment before you make your decision, to close your eyes, to ask yourself those questions above, and then to listen. Follow that spark inside you that is leading you on your path, a path of contentment and peace.

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.  William Ernest Henley

In being true to yourself you will find that things no longer go right or wrong, things just go. Your life then becomes a journey of learning. “Either it is good for you, or it is bringing up what you need to look at in order to create good for you. Evolution is win-win.” (Chopra, p.97) When we stay aligned with who we are we stand stronger because our true purpose is being pursued. It is when we make choices to fit in or to make others happy, that we start the fall of losing ourselves and things can get terribly messy.

Give yourself a few moments (or many moments if you can manage). Write, draw, think, pray – if that’s what you do. Allow yourself to connect to you. You are the guide of your life. Let your life shine.

Lifestyle

Finding the Time, Part Two

Time with my honey or time to prep some healthy delicious meals? Why not both?

This week’s post is a recommendation for you and your significant other or best friend to spend some quality time together while also prepping for a healthy week or future. Find a sitter, relative, or friend that will take the kids to their house (hello, grandma!), get yourself and your love into the kitchen, and let date night commence. Allow some wine (or drink of choice) to flow, some tunes to float and some laughter to get loud. Date nights don’t have to be OUT. They are actually really, really great to have IN!

My husband and I decided to give this a try because we were both just feeling really burned out. We wanted some time together, but we both actually just yearned to be home, so I said, “Well… let’s just stay home then.” We dropped the kids with grandma, grabbed some groceries, and came home to our comfy clothes and fireplace. We turned on the tunes and we spent most of the evening cooking, talking and just hanging out. We used to love to cook together before our life became more of a tag-team, and it was so great to have that time back. We actually threw in some loads of laundry and picked up the house a little bit before we got started (you can get so much done, so fast with no kids!). Then, we proceeded to make meatballs, pancakes, and a lasagna to freeze. We also put 6 chicken breasts on the grill and then shredded the meat for lunches for that week. We cut a bunch of fruit and veggies and put them in some ready to go containers for us and the kids to grab as snacks later on that week and threw some extras in the freezers to make quick smoothies. More importantly, we talked about important stuff and random stuff. We laughed and cheers-ed our glasses to a few accomplishments from the month before (two completely potty trained kids!), we picked at some of the yummy food we were cooking, and we may or may not have danced around the kitchen to our wedding song (hence the wedding photo pictured above, swoon).

The date night at home saved us a little bit of cash and gave us that restful feeling we were searching for. Our kids came home happy from a fun night away, and the week was just that much easier knowing there were some healthy choices right at our fingertips.

We wanted to simplify, so we spent our date night being a little resourceful, but mostly being together. We spend so much time making our home a beautiful place to be, it felt good to just enjoy it for a change.

Home is the nicest word there is. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Fitness

Rock It

I cannot say enough about this new workout challenge I came across, The Betty Rocker. (Or my adorable nephew pictured above.)

I signed up for the 30 day challenge and it was AWESOME! FREE, 15 minutes every day, & totally challenging. Especially with this lull in Minnesota winter where we all want to be outside constantly, but just can’t quite get there yet (Come On, Spring!), it was so nice to have something new and different and challenging that I could get done easily, anytime. My kids often just played nearby or were napping, and within minutes I was done, feeling strong and energized.

No equipment, no cost, and almost no time. What more can you ask for?

Thank you, Betty Rocker!

Nutrition

Full Menu and Notes

PDF of Menu

 

Sunday

Toast and yogurt, mac and cheese, and burgers

Monday

Egg muffins, soup and grilled cheese, and pancakes

Tuesday

Oatmeal, turkey sandwiches, and chicken in the crockpot

Wednesday

Leftover Day!

Thursday

Oatmeal, turkey rolls, and ordered pizza

Friday 

Waffles, leftovers and salmon

Saturday

Toast, mac and cheese, and grilled chicken

 

So, there it is! Again, our goals for our children lately have included increasing our colorful vegetable intake, having meal times that are delicious, easy, kid friendly and fun, as well as being able to maintain a budget. Keep in mind that our family is at a point where we are choosing mostly, but not always: organic foods, whole wheat grains, grass-fed and wild-caught meats, pasture raised dairy and eggs, to increase health value, but that these choices must be made based on your own family principle.  If you’re interested in the daily recommendations, see the charts and notes attached! Check out the daily links for details on each day and to see how I eat an anti-inflammatory diet alongside my family’s meals. For more of an intro to our whole eating journey click here.

If you have any questions or would like any further information please don’t hesitate to hit up my contact page!

He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitnami