Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Not About Me...Or Is It?

As I sit here reflecting on the past two weeks of my life, I feel jumbled and out of sorts. I crave quiet and order and routine and discipline. Today is the last day of summer and I can hardly wait until Tuesday morning when all of my children are in school for an entire day.

This summer has a been a weird one for my family. We moved into a new house and have been adjusting to our new surroundings. We traveled more than I can ever remember traveling in one summer. My oldest daughter spent 5 straight weeks away from home AND got her level one drivers license (a permit to drive with parents). And most recently, my eighteen year old niece has decided to leave home in Colorado and has asked to move in with us! It's been busy, for sure.

As our niece settles in, and I reflect on all the above events, I realize that for some period of time now, I have been completely neglecting to care for myself in the midst of all this chaos. I have allowed stress to take over, worry to keep me awake, clutter to creep into my environments, and have settled on less than desirable meals to "nourish" my body. Over the past couple of days I have found myself experiencing extreme emotions at random times through out my day...tears while washing dishes, anger while cleaning up messes, discontent while taking a walk with my husband, and stress and worry while attempting to fall asleep at night.

The adventures we have had this summer and adding a new member to our family has been absolutely delightful but also overwhelming and incredibly time consuming. My routine and responsibilities have come to a screeching halt. And now I know I am paying the price for allowing this to happen. I have noticed the crankiness begin to creep in. I have heard myself sighing more and more throughout my day. And a feeling of overwhelming discontent with my days has taken over the feeling of happiness at accomplishing the many tasks I might have had on my "To Do" list.

I realize now that in my attempt to live a life centered around the thought of "it's not all about me" I have lost touch with who I am. In my attempts to serve my children, husband, distant family members, and welcome my niece into our family, I have stopped remembering to care for myself and my needs as well. Not only is this not good for me it is also not good for everyone who has to live with me.

I will tell my clients "If you don't care for yourself and your body first, you will be no good to others." And once again, I find this true in my own life. Even though I am spending my entire days serving and loving others, the quality of that servanthood is quickly waning as I continue to neglect myself and my needs in the midst of it. Self care is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves...and we need to remember to give to ourselves as well as others.

If you think taking time out of your day to get a workout in at a gym that offers child care sounds frivolous, think again. If you think spending $3.00 (or even $20) on a body care product that you love is selfish, think again. How about taking a long hot shower...a waste of water? What if you told your children they needed to entertain themselves for 30 minutes while you quietly read a book? How about taking the time to cook an extra meal (or a larger one that would yield leftovers!) in the evening to take to work the next day for a healthy home cooked lunch instead of eating out at a restaurant or driving through a fast food establishment? Not worth the time or the effort? YES it is! We are worth spending time and resources on ourselves!

If you are finding yourself overwhelmed with stress, life, or lack of time sit quietly for ten minutes and write down a few things you could do to care for yourself during this time. Not only will it nourish your emotions, your soul and your body, it will also allow you to recharge so that you can be even more aware and effective in whatever you throw yourself into...your job, parenting, serving others, creating art, or just being you!

Today my niece went to her first day of college. Tomorrow my children all go to their first day of school. While the house won't be quiet for the whole day, it will be for a few hours in the morning. During that time, I plan to set all responsibilities and work aside, sit with a cup of tea in my favorite room in the house, where the sun shines in bright and warm, and quietly reflect, recharge, and renew my thoughts for my near future. I know this down time will nourish me greatly and I am very much looking forward to it. I also plan to eat lunch and spend the afternoon with my very best friend who I have not seen since the beginning of summer. To be able to share, unload, and ask what is new and good with her will be fabulous! Tomorrow will be a wonderful day all about me, it will fuel me for Wednesday and the rest of my week where I have a very busy schedule and need to be focused and have energy.

How about you? Are you caring for and loving yourself in times of stress or craziness? If you don't give yourself the attention you need, even if things aren't stressful or busy, you will become unbalanced and lack in all other areas of your life. Do something today to show yourself you are worth it and it can be "all about you" sometimes!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farm Meals...Day Three

There was a specific smell coming out of my refrigerator this morning that was making everyone in the house cringe. I soon realized it was the broccoli we had gotten from our farm share a few days ago. When ever I have broccoli, I always wait to use it and always end up with a smelly fridge. Mental note...use your broccoli the day you bring it into the house!!

The broccoli was still just wanted to remind me it was still uneaten in there! So for lunch I made this...

Broccoli Gratin with brown rice and spelt breadcrumbs

One of the best things I do and highly recommend is prepping everything you need for your meal before you start to cook it. It may take a few minutes longer, but man does it make a difference! Having all your ingredients ready before you start cooking can save you from burning it, messing up, and lots of stress as you try to manage it all at once. And if it looks organized and pretty, it will be more fun to cook!


As you can see, there are a ton of veggies in this dish. I used eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red pepper and spinach. And you can mix and match! Just because you don't have an ingredient called for in a recipe doesn't mean you can't make it at the last minute! Just find something else to substitute it with. Use the recipe as a guide. You don't always have to have it all perfect and followed to a tee. So here's the finished product...

Grilled vegetables with cheese tortellini...

This recipe is fabulous for summer! If you have a lot of veggies to use up this is a sure winner! Click the link above, make it, and tell me what you think!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Farm Share Meals...Day One and Two...

We have had some pretty amazing meals the last 24 hours using some of the greens and vegetables from our farm share! I am always amazed at the taste difference between organics and conventionally grown foods. I can't even describe how different they are. Switching our food to all organic has been an awesome experience. The burst of flavor and texture you receive in your mouth is definitely worth any extra expense (not to mention the fact that you are eating chemical and hormone free foods). So what did we eat??

This was dinner last night...

Sauteed kale and yellow squash tossed with soba noodles and marinara sauce, topped with grated parmesan cheese...

And lunch today...

Toasted tomato sandwiches on sprouted grain bread with salad greens topped with yellow squash...

And for dinner today...

Open-faced burger topped with raw sharp cheddar cheese and sprouts with green pepper and carrot "fries"...
We are seriously enjoying this farm food. The fresh and light fare has been perfect for our warm summer days. The more I have produce in the house, the better I get at using it up. I am finding that the more I eat, the more I want, and the more creative I get at making our meals!! It's been a learning experience for sure, but with a little practice I have been creating exciting new meals each week!
And here's a little eye candy for you to drool over until my next meal post highlighting vegetables...this was an experiment last night I tried from a raw food recipe book I recently purchased on one of our vacations this summer.

Key Lime Bars..."ice cream" made from raw cashews, juice from limes, and agave nectar. Of course it was topped with homemade raw cacao syrup (amazing!). Not exactly anything from the farm share, but I thought I would share anyways!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've written before about how much I L.O.V.E my farm share. Last winter, my husband and I made the investment and bought a share at a local organic farm. From June until October we get a share of the crop each week. It's been fantastic! Just look at the beauty we received yesterday at our pick up...

There are a ton of greens in here....kale, salad greens, swiss chard, spinach, and basil! We also received eggplant, tomatoes, scallions, patty pan squash, zucchini, cucumber, yellow squash, hot peppers, orange and white carrots, purple cabbage, pickling cucumbers, broccoli, and green pepper.

So what does one do with all this produce? You are not alone if you come home from the store or the farmers market with produce and then let it go bad in the refrigerator because you just aren't quite sure what to do! This week I will share with you all the creations I come up with and show you how to make the most out of all those vegetables! With a little bit of planning, you can have fabulous meals all week long that are delicious as well as nutritious! I will be posting often so be sure to check back often! It will be a fun week sharing with you how I feed my family each day!

And here's a peek from dinner last night...

African Pineapple Peanut Stew (using the swiss chard) served over brown rice

Click on the link above for the recipe. I added lean ground turkey for added protein. Try it! It may not look all that appealing, but it's fantastic, and filling!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Nurturing Environment...

When working towards living a healthier life, one key component to success is surrounding yourself in an environment that nurtures and feeds your lifestyle. If you are aiming to eliminate processed, artificial junk from your body, it's a good idea to begin to do that in your surroundings as well! What this does is reinforce what's happening on the inside of your body on the outside in your physical space.

When you begin to eat whole foods, greens, grains, fruits and vegetables your body begins to transform as these foods give you life! They begin the process of detoxifying your body and eliminating the clutter of toxins stored in your cells, tissue, and yes, even your fat stores! As this happens, you begin to feel lighter, clear minded, and energized.

Just as our bodies can be overloaded with junk, so can the environments we live, sleep, work and play in. As your energy begins to pick up, use it to detoxify these environments that have become stale and lifeless. If they remain in this state, you will have a harder time healing and moving forward. Here are a few simple steps to begin the process...

Pick an environment to tackle. Anything can be an environment...your home, kitchen, bedroom, basement, junk drawer, i-pod, car, garage, desk, closet, even your email inbox! Pick one area that really irks you the most and begin there. If it causes you stress, it's time to detoxify it! After you have chosen the lucky area, pick a time frame of two hours and write the time and day you will begin the project in your calendar. If it is scheduled, it will be more likely to get done!

Now it's time to detoxify your environment!
  1. Gather three boxes and label them "keep, trash, and give away."
  2. Declutter! Begin to go through the items in the environment and sort them into their appropriate labeled box. Hint: If you have not touched the item in the last year, toss, recycle, or give away!
  3. Sort! Once you are done putting things into their appropriate box, it's time to sort the "keep" box again. Go through it one more time to make sure you need the items you have put in there. If not, put them in their appropriate box.
  4. Plan! Once everything is sorted, evaluate the empty space and the items in the keep box to see what needs to be better organized. You can find many cool storage cubbies, bins, and organizers at many big box stores. One of my favs is The Container Store.
  5. Reorganize! Now that you have plan in place and your storage accessories purchased, put the keep items back into their area. Step back and admire your hard work!

If you have a space that does not feel good to you, but is organized and clutter free, step back and take a good look at the space. What is it that makes you feel negatively about it? Is it too dark and dreary? Is it too small? Is it uncomfortable? Is the color not one you are attracted to? It's easy to transform a room without spending a ton of money. Try rearranging your furniture to allow more energy to flow through the room. Brighten a space by repainting in a cool, light color. Dark colors can sometimes make a room feel much smaller than it is...especially a room with out a lot of natural light!

Do what you can to bring new life to the space you spend a lot of time in or one that causes much stress! By doing this, you will be allowing your body to feel at home on it's outside as well as on the inside as it is adjusting to it's new life of nutrients and balance. Just as our bodies crave this on the inside, our senses crave it on the outside! An environment that feels good will support you, give you stregth, and reinforce the idea that you are opening yourself up to healing, detoxifying and nurturing your body.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Pressure To Be...

Growing up, I was bombarded with many messages about what it meant to be healthy and beautiful. I remember very clearly in high school always comparing myself to other girls checking to see if I was looking the way I "should." Images of anorexic models and over make-upped girls in magazines and on TV flooded my eyes everywhere I turned. This is what I thought was normal and something to achieve. What I wasn't noticing at the time, was the damage this was doing to my emotions, self-esteem, and self-worth. As an adult, those media images persist and are added to with comments, gossip about others and their looks, and criticisms from adults in my life that are focused on this "normal."

Have you ever felt like you couldn't do something because you didn't feel like you were skinny, good-looking, funny, strong, or smart enough? Why do we fall into this thinking and allow fear to keep us from having fun or making changes? Unfortunately, we rarely have an abundance of positive thoughts in our head. Most of us have a tendency to focus on things in our life that are not working.

What we see as "normal" in society today, isn't normal. To be a healthy and happy person, you have to act like one. We live in a culture today where it is "normal" to be angry, depressed, negative and selfish. That is not normal, nor is it healthy. Unfortunately, in order to be healthy, you have to step out of the box and be different. It's time to create a "new" normal!

Now this shouldn't sound scary to you. If you feel like you don't fit in to the crowd right now, then you already feel different, right? Then why not still be different but feel good, proud of yourself, happy, and healthy instead? It's up to us to change what normal has become and unlock the knowledge we all have inside of us that we were born with to care for our bodies and be healthy!

Now I know this sounds easier said than done. It's hard to compete with our culture and the constant barrage of the media. I feel it too. And many times I have failed at what I truly want for myself and fall into the trap of what others tell me I should be eating, wearing, look like, or how much weight to lose. The best way I have found to battle this is to practice thinking positively...about weight as it is, my life, my job, my house, my relationships...everything! If something isn't going right in my life I ask myself a few questions to turn the negative thoughts into positive ones. What can I learn from this and change? What can I offer others in terms of support because I have gone through this? Start to pay attention to where your mind goes all the time. How much of your attention is on what is not going well in your life? How much attention is on what is going well?

I have a couple ways I battle the pressures of society today and keep myself positive and away from self-loathing and discontent. One, is to keep a journal. Each morning, I write my feelings and intuitions I am having upon waking. Then I write three things I am grateful for. In the evening before I go to sleep, I reopen the journal and review my morning writings. Most of the time, because I started my day on a positive note, I have more things to write that I am grateful for. If I have had a difficult day, I write about what learned and how I can grow from the experience. Then I close with gratitude for my day, what I appreciated about myself or the work I did, and a loving thought. It helps to start and end your day on a positive note! Another strategy I use is to ask people what is new and good with them. This immediately squelches any opportunity for them to begin a conversation on a negative note! I let them brag for a bit and then I talk about what is good with me.

You can incorporate positive thinking into your life in many different ways. Begin to consciously put your mind on positive thoughts or write everything you are grateful for into a journal. Practice different ways to incorporate positive thinking in your life and see what works for you. You will see changes in how you feel about yourself very quickly. The pressure to be something you are not will go away because you are focusing on what is already good about yourself. When your focus is there, it is easier to evaluate what needs change and to work harder and achieve it. Notice how you create your own reality. When you practice positive thinking, your world begins to look brighter!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Did You Eat Enough Today?

The consequences of not eating enough can be detrimental to anyone trying to improve their health. Many of us think that if we skip a meal or cut way back on calories, we will succeed at losing weight and gaining health. This is not true.

It's not a myth when they say the most important meal of your day should be breakfast. This is where you get the most "bang for your buck". Eating a healthy and substantial breakfast will help you jump start your metabolism for the day. You will actually burn more calories than if you had not eaten breakfast to "save" calories. It also helps prevent binging later in the day when you become ravaging because your body has had no fuel to function on. So skipping it is not a good idea!

Actually, skipping any meal is not a good idea. Our body needs consistent nutrition to work properly and support our bodily functions throughout the day. If you skip meals you can cause everything to go out of whack. One nasty side affect is that your body may begin to think it is starving and immediately take any of the calories that you do consume and turn them into fat stores to live off in the future. When trying to lose weight and gain health, that is exactly what you don't want!!

Today I had an off eating day. My day in general was just plain off. For some reason, insomnia cursed me last night and I did not get enough sleep (Was it from stress, too much sugar, watching TV before going to bed, lack of self care?). Because of the lack of sleep I ended up sleeping in and then eating breakfast at 11am. I then immersed myself into work related tasks and "forgot" to eat for the remainder of the afternoon. Since breakfast was only a bowl of cereal, man, did I pay for that decision! Come 5pm, I was so ravaging with hunger, I felt dizzy, cranky, impatient and ready to eat and entire chocolate cake! Thankfully, I did not resort to that. Since I was waiting for hubby to come home and grill some chicken breasts, I started out with a huge dark leafy green salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing drizzled on top. It took the edge off and I am looking forward to that dinner which is currently cooking on the grill, which I now will likely not binge on since I filled up with greens first!

This was a good reminder for me that it benefits me to have a plan, stick to a routine, and care enough for my body so that such extreme imbalances do not occur. Planning and prevention are the best ways to assure that your goal of eating healthy and maybe losing weight are achieved!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Setting and Reaching Goals...

We all set out to accomplish goals. But we don't always achieve them. Why is that? I have often wondered why it is that when I set a goal for myself, I sometimes waver away from achieving that goal. It's not that I've decided not to do it, because 99.9% of the time, I often still want to achieve what I had set out to do.

What are some strategies for setting and achieving goals? First, let's define what a goal is. A goal is a "want". Goals and dreams are often confused. The difference between a goal and a dream is the goal is more specific. However, you can use your dreams when setting your goals. Look back at your dreams and start a specific list of what you want from that dream. Be very clear about what you want and mean when you express it. Remember, goals are things you want. They are never things you don't want. Here's an example...

Right: I want to stay at my current weight. Wrong: I don't want to gain weight.

Right: I want to remain out of debt. Wrong: I don't want to use credit cards.

Can you see the difference? When setting goals it is a good idea to write that goal down on a piece of paper. Studies have shown that when a goal is written, you are 75% more likely to achieve it. This is because you have already invested time by writing it down. Also, be specific when writing down your goals. If you want to lose weight, don't just say "I want to lose weight". Here's another example...

Wrong: I want to lose weight. Right: I want to lose 15 pounds.

Now remember, specifics are important! When setting a goal, use a time frame to achieve that goal by, and write that down as well! Example...

Right: I want to lose 15 pounds in the next 8 weeks. Wrong: I want to lose 15 pounds soon.

After you have a specific goal in mind, put together a specific plan of action for reaching that goal. For instance, how will you go about losing 15 pounds? Will you exercise every day? For how long? What type of exercise? Where will you exercise? At what time? Do you get the idea of why it is so important to be specific? If you leave out the details you set yourself up to fail because you lose sight of what needs to be done!

Are you getting the hang of this yet? Setting goals is a good way to get what you want. When you follow those simple steps, achieving your goal will be much easier. However, I know firsthand that it can still be hard to achieve goals, even when you are specific. At that point, I need some inspiration and motivation. What motivates you? For me, when I see someone who has achieved what I want, that is inspiring. I want to find out how they did it! Surround yourself with the support of people who have done what you want and ask them how they did it. Ask them to support you in your efforts to reach your goal, as well. When you hit a bump in the road, don't give up! Ask for advice on how they may have handled that same bump.

Goals are a wonderful thing to have to motivate us and keep us moving in the direction we want to be going. I have found that the more simple and specific they are, the more successful I am at achieving them. But also in addition to the specifics, I arm myself with support, whether it is someone who wants the same goal, has reached that goal, or can assist me in the process. Support is key! Take a good look at the goals you are setting aside and not working towards. Look for something that inspires you and re-ignites the desire to achieve them. Then sit down and re-write the goal with the specifics of what you want and how you will go about getting it. Success will occur if a good plan is in place! Now go get to work!