Tuesday, January 13, 2015

3 Ways To Eat Healthier Without Counting Calories

Is it your resolution to eat healthier in 2015? Maybe lose a few pounds? 
Here are a few ways you can eat a little healthier, and I promise, no calorie counting!

This post may contain affiliate links.

1. Count Chemicals Not Calories

Much of the American diet is highly processed food products. These boxes, bags, and cans have made American eating "easy" and "quick" but at hefty cost. Many packaged foods have a lot of chemical additives in them, some with some pretty sketchy track records where human health is concerned. Packaged foods also tend to hide a lot of extra sugars and salts, even in the "health foods."

Do yourself a favor and eat real whole foods. What do I mean by real, whole food? If you can't pronounce it, don't eat. If your grandma wouldn't have cooked with the ingredients listed, don't eat it. If the ingredient list reminds you of your high school chemistry class, drop the box and run the other way.

100 Days of Real Food is an amazing resource if you want to pursue this idea a little further.

2. Eat Your Rainbow

This is actually pretty interesting. Our bodies need a variety of vitamins and minerals to be their most healthy. These nutrients are found in nature in various foods. They also help give the foods their color. For example, dark leafy greens are high in iron; carrots and apricots are both high in beta-carotine. By eating a variety of colors, you can help ensure that you are getting a variety of phyto-nutrients (the nutrients that give fruits and veggies their unique colors).

One way to do this is to try to "Eat A Rainbow" every day; meaning that you eat one serving of fruit or veggie from the five main food color groups (red, orange, yellow, green, blue). There's a great kids' program available here. It could also be beneficial for adults if you need a little extra motivation.

If you're really setting high goals, try to get a whole rainbow in every meal! Not only will you get your phyto-nutrients, but you'll certainly get your recommended fruit and veggie amounts!

3. Divide Your Plate

This is a simple way to help you to eat more fruits and veggies and keep your meat and grain portions under control. When you fix your plate for a meal, divide it into four quarters. Now, two of those quarters should be filled with fruits and veggies. Yep, half your plate should be coming from the produce aisle. Fresh is best followed by frozen followed by canned. One of the remaining quarters should be whole grains. Try to avoid processed "white" grains. The remaining quarter is for protein.

If a visual guide would be helpful, check out this plate available on Amazon.

There ya have it folks! Three ways to eat a little healthier without counting calories. Are you changing your diet this year?

Please, do be mindful that a change in your diet can affect your health, often for the better, but you should always consult with your doctor or health care practitioner before making any major dietary changes, especially if you are pregnant or have any chronic health conditions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Quack Like a Platypus

I've struggled for a little while now of how to put this into words, but here goes...

I was privileged enough to be able to receive a great education. I am truly blessed to have studied under some amazing and wonderful minds, forerunners in their fields, and scholars respected worldwide.

I also received a much more covert education in the process. In the process of learning Biblical text and Koine Greek, Family Systems and therapeutic theories, I learned that I needed to be a certain type of person in order to be successful.

Successful ministers, especially successful female ministers, are quiet and reserved. They're modest and conventional in their appearance. Their interests and hobbies should be related to the church, home or family. They are well versed in scripture, but they aren't preachers. They have excellent organizational skills, but are not to be in leadership.

Successful therapists also dress conservatively, but should also be in fashion. They aren't loud or boisterous. They are always presentable and never appear to lose control. They are always available and compassionate, but they are asexual and slightly aloof at the same time.

No one spoke these lessons. They weren't on any syllabus, and I even had some professors actively fight these messages, but they were received any way.

When I became a mother, particularly a mother in a politically and religiously conservative area, I got a whole new set of messages: Everything should be about my children. I should feel completely fulfilled in every way when I change a diaper. I should sacrifice my body, mind, and spirit for the purpose of making my children happy. My value as a woman in this society is based upon how presentable my home is and well behaved my children are.

Again, no one person told me these things, but still these messages took root in me, and like Devil's Snare they tangled me up and gripped me in their thorns. This weed grew slowly and it took a long time to realize how much I had let it strangle me.

I love my God and the Church, but I am neither quiet not reserved. I love with great passion and my soul delights in boisterous worship. I am truly honored to be in a place where I can serve those with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, but I could never be a therapist in 50 minute blocks. I care too deeply for people to detach in such a way. I absolutely love and adore my children and they mean the world to me, but there is a whole big world beyond these two little souls.

I have recently begun to notice how I let the expectations and messages of my particular religious and geographic culture shape me into someone I am not. I have stuffed my own passions and loves down in order to fit some ideal with which I don't even agree.

I say, "No more!"

From now on, I am exactly who God created me to be, and that is more than enough. God made me to be a loud, crazy, hyper, lover of people and art, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. My husband told me today that no matter how hard you try as a duck, you'll never be a fish. A friend followed up and said screw the duck, be a bad ass platypus.

So here I am, quaking like a platypus and proud of it!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Interview with Haille, Birth Boot Camp Instructor

I've had the great privilege to get to know Haille Wolfe through our local group of naturally-minded mommas. She is a wonderful lady with a beautiful family including her husband and five children! Haile teaches a unique type of birth preparation course called Birth Boot Camp. I got to ask her some questions and I'm so glad to share them with you now.

Here's Haille with her latest little one!

"If you don't know your options, you don't have any." - Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

Amie: Haille, tell me a little about Birth Boot Camp and what made you want to teach these classes.

One of the biggest barriers today’s childbearing women face is not knowing their options when it comes to how they will birth their baby. Sure, there are lots of blogs, books, and articles out there that can give you some ideas for how you’d like things to go. But where can moms go to get the complete, comprehensive information they’ll need to make informed birth decisions?

If you’re thinking you will learn everything you need to know at your OB appointments, then this may come as a huge wake-up call. Obstetricians are not birth educators – they have lots of patients and little time. This means when you go in for an appointment, it is not likely there will much conversation beyond checking on your general wellness. If the hospital offers a birth class, they will likely refer you there.
While a hospital class may be great to get a feel for the location where your baby will be born, they aren’t usually fully comprehensive. Often, a hospital class will give you a tour, an overview of the birth process, and explain hospital protocols. These protocols are not presented as “optional” – they are stated so that you know ahead of time what will be done. Mothers typically do not question the protocols. After all, they must be in place for a reason, right? The truth is that many routine practices at hospitals are simply that – routine. You need to know that you DO have the option to individualize your care based on your specific desires and needs.
So, where in the world can an expecting mother learn ALL her options? I’m so glad you asked!
I became a Birth Boot Camp instructor in July of 2013 so that I could help women in the Big Country prepare for birth. I chose to teach this curriculum because it is not only a thorough presentation of options, but it also provides couples with a whole tool-kit of techniques that can be used to achieve a natural birth. Here is what you can expect to learn in the 10 week series: http://birthbootcamp.com/about-birth-booth-camp/natural-childbirth-curriculum-class-description/
Even (or ESPECIALLY) women planning a medicated birth can benefit greatly from classes. Here’s why: http://birthbootcamp.com/are-birth-classes-for-women-planning-an-epidural/.
When you take a live class you also have peace of mind knowing that you are learning from a highly trained instructor who has actually birthed naturally herself. Because of my own experiences with natural birth, I can instill couples with authentic confidence that their body is capable of birthing a baby and that they are also strong enough to do it without the use of numbing medications. Mothers need someone to believe in them when society does not!
Another great thing about Birth Boot Camp is that it is easily accessible! I will always recommend taking live classes. However, if you are in an area that does not have an instructor (YET!), you can register for online classes. If you happen to be in my area, but are still too far away to come for class, or if you have a circumstance that prevents you from attending live classes, the online option is a great choice. I encourage anyone in my area who is interested in the online class to get in touch with me. I am passionate about birth education, so even if we aren’t seeing each other for classes, I still want to be available to answer questions and offer support and encouragement through your journey!

“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” Laura Stavoe Harm

Amie: What do you think is the biggest challenge a mother faces in having a positive birthing experience?

I think the biggest challenge a mother will face during her birth is being rolled through a system of routines in protocols without ever getting the benefit of making her own choices through informed consent. Many procedures are done without a full explanation of the pros and cons of said procedure. Care providers are busy and often have a limited amount of time to sit down and talk about all the different effects a certain procedure may have on labor and the birthing experience. 

Most moms go into birth thinking they'll go to the hospital, go through labor and give birth vaginally. They don't anticipate the possibility of cesarean section. I think that if more moms knew that the cesarean rate in Abilene is more than double the rate recommended by the World Health Organization, they'd be inclined to educate themselves ahead of time in order to avoid an unnecessary c-section.

Amie: Do you think that there is a stigma against natural birth? If so, how do you think that will change?

The other day I read an article with a quote that I felt explains my thoughts on this perfectly:
 "Today's average childbearing woman thinks the notion of an unmedicated birth is the equivalent of suggesting that women should eagerly embrace torture."

So yes, I do believe there is a stigma against natural birth. Instead of our culture viewing birth as a normal and natural process, we view it as always perilous. My hope is that as women begin educating themselves and sharing their birth experiences (both positive and negative), it will encourage women to take back responsibility and ownership of their birth process. 

Amie: How should an expecting father prepare for his child's birth? 

As a birth educator, I FIRMLY believe that husbands benefit tremendously from a comprehensive birth class. If birth seems scary to most women, think about how our partners must feel? Education is the key to eliminating fear. Knowing how to help and when and why an intervention may or may not be needed makes the birth experience better for dad too.

Also, I think it's important for fathers to really listen their wife's wants and needs before the big day. Birth experiences impact our relationships - if your wife has a traumatic birth it directly impacts you, Dad. Hear out your wife's desires. If she feels that hiring a doula will help her have a better outcome, she is probably right. Let's not forget she will be the one birthing your baby. Give her the tools she needs to have a positive birth. 

Amie: What can he expect if his wife births naturally?

First off, he should expect for it to be work. Obviously more work for mama, but many fathers are surprised by how much work there is for him to do too. He should plan on preparing ahead of time so that he will be of use on delivery day. Expect to be there for her physically and emotionally and know ahead of time what that looks like. Most men do not ever attend a birth before the birth of their own child. 

Once she births naturally, and if he has been helpful in the process, he can typically expect for his wife to fall more in love with him than he or she ever thought possible. When left un-tampered, birth produces the highest amount of oxytocin (the love hormone) that a woman will ever experience. This initiates the mother/baby bond and strengthens the husband/wife bond. 

Amie: What has giving birth, five times now, taught you about yourself?

Haille: Having experienced birth both medicated and unmedicated, birth has taught me just how strong and intelligent I really am. That probably comes across as high and mighty, but I'm okay with that. I've been "delivered" by an OB and an epidural and had "okay" birth experiences. On the flip side, nothing left me feeling more powerful than the days I delivered babies through my own strength. And I'm intelligent not only because I researched and gained understanding of researched based care for myself, but I also trusted the knowledge of my own body to know what it needed to do in order to get a baby out.

Amie: If you could give one piece of advice to expecting moms, what would it be?

1. Get educated. Make decisions based on real data. Eliminate fears through knowing what to expect.
2. Find a supportive care provider. This includes knowing the right kinds of questions to ask your provider in order to know if they truly support your birth wishes. And don't be afraid to break up with them, no matter how much you think you love them. This is your birth, not theirs. No one has this baby's best interest at heart more than you. 
2. Get support. Make sure your husband has the tools and knowledge to support you during birth. Get a DOULA! A trained labor support person who stays with you for your whole labor can make the experience so much more enjoyable for both mom and dad. 

Amie: And to expecting dads?

Haille: Basically, the same advice I give the mamas. But also, when your wife asks about budgeting for birth preparations such as hiring a doula or taking birth classes, don't tell her it's a waste of money. I've heard this so much lately and it makes my blood boil. Even if that's what you believe, don't say it. It's hurtful and says to the mother of your child that you don't value her. Sit down and talk about possible ways to make it happen. I have never met a husband who regretting taking the steps to help his wife achieve a positive birth experience. 

Interesting in learning more? Visit Haille's website or visit her on Facebook. She is incredibly open and has such a desire to be of help to moms and families.

You can also find my birth stories here: Alex, Locke
And my own take on the importance of birth plans here, and a commentary on reasons for natural birth here.

Leave me a comment below and let me know: Did you take any formal birthing class? What was most helpful for you in preparing for your baby's birth(s)?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Simple Citrus Spinach Smoothie

If you want a super immune-boosting smoothie, look no further! Packed with vitamin C, this green smoothie is a great start to your day!

Baby Spinach
Pineapple chunks in 100% juice
Orange Juice

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Little Gardeners

For the fall we planted peas and spinach in the boys' little garden plot. Alex took quite a bit of interest in it, and really enjoys watering the plants. I think he might be ready for some more hands-on work come Spring.

Getting the bucket to go water the plants.

We're working on which direction is best to dump the bucket. :)

Putting on Mommy's gloves to get to work.
He even got the kneeler on his own.
Locke isn't much of a green thumb just yet,
but he likes the sunshine either way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Our little guy turns two today! It's been a wonderful journey watching him learn and explore. He's a giant ball of energy, sweet, caring, and incredibly inquisitive. Happy Birthday, Alex!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Alex's Montessori Room

We've had Alex in a Montessori room since just before his first birthday. He's almost two now, and I still love it! The room is simple and clean and allows him to have access and control in his own environment.

You see here the floor bed and some of his stuffed animals.
You can read more about the floor bed here.

Again, the floor bed, and Alex's little chair and toy basket.

I love the little storage basket for small toys.
Alex will even pick-up his toys and put them in the basket when
cleaning up. (They might get promptly tossed out again, but we're learning.)