Reducing Our Cancer Risk: Natural Body Care

The more I study in my nutrition course, the more my family's lives are being changed forever.  Yes, I'm doing things others may think are extreme or just plain crazy.  But I don't care what others think anymore!  Our goal is to give ourselves and our children the best chance possible at a long, happy, healthy life -- reducing our risk for cancer as much as possible.  Can anyone really "outsmart" cancer?  I'm not sure, but I do know this, there are natural products we have growing around us that can actually make us healthier -- and not just products to put on our plates! 

Have you heard this before?  Your skin is your largest organ.  That means anything you put on it is absorbed directly into your body.  I heard the best advice at a Pathways Connect meeting recently:  You shouldn't put anything on your skin you wouldn't eat.  Really?!  Wow....that really has had a big impact on me and what I buy my family. 

So what does that mean, "we're trying to reduce our cancer risk"?  What are the things we are eliminating, or in some cases adding, to our household? I'm going to spend the next few blog posts describing all of the different ways we have gone from a "typical American family" to the almost "crunchy granola" one we are today, and proud of it!  I will go through, step-by-step, the areas we are changing.  It would be far too expensive for us to throw everything in our home into the trash all at once, so we are gradually replacing our "conventional" products with more natural alternatives.  It's taking a long time, but this is definitely a more economical way!

I tried making my own laundry soap which really was cost effective, but my clothes didn't come out smelling like I wanted.  The difference?  The homemade soap doesn't leave the residue behind in your clothing that normally gives it that clean smell.  Luckily, I found a great local person who makes many of these products and tests them out on her large family!  Wendy at The Best Pink Salt is a great resource.  Her laundry soap was all natural and my clothes came out smelling great!  For only $4, I get enough liquid soap to do 100 loads, so it's definitely worth it to buy from her.

 I have already replaced our hand soap pumps with about 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap and the rest water (fill most of the way with water first so you don't create too many suds!).  He also has an almond flavored one that smells so good! So my next step is to replace all of our body washes and shampoos, too. I will keep you posted as I find great products in this category.  However, all you need to do is check out your local health food store, or go to the organic section of your grocery store to find a few commercial options that are much better for your health.
We already have a Berkey water filter for our drinking water.  Now that we consume the filtered water, I can actually taste the chemicals in our tap water!  As I mention in the last section of this post, one of the worst chemicals many of us are consuming on a regular basis in our tap water is flouride.  Because of my research, we've chosen to add on the flouride filters to our Berkey syster.

Also, we are saving up to buy a shower filter.  At our Pathways Connect meeting, it was mentioned that when we take a shower, we are putting all those chemicals in our tap water directly onto our skin that gets absorbed! 

Ever since my children were babies, I was leery of those commercial baby sunscreens with SPF 50+ as well as the widely known as dangerous DEET bug sprays.  Something just didn't seem right when I looked at the long list of ingredients I couldn't pronounce.  So from the beginning, I've been buying Burt's Bees sunscreen.  I usually do not put sunscreen on myself unless I will be in the sun for quite some time.  If I am going to the beach or will be outside for long periods of time, I prefer to cover up, or I look for natural products.  I'm not advocating going in the sun without protection!  But you'd be amazed at how many different ways you can protect yourself and your family naturally. 

Mother Earth News is a great resource, in addition to Dr. Mercola.  I found a site that published an article detailing how to DIY your own sunscreen here.  And I wanted to publish a simple recipe in this blog post, but here's a pretty in depth method to make enough sunscreen and bug spray (all-in-one!) for the summer for your family:  Sun and Bug Lotion

This is probably the easiest switch that I believe has a very big impact.  Instead of buying all those nicely scented lotions at Bath & Body Works, I will start using Trader Joe's coconut oil!  Yep, you read that right....I am going to just put straight coconut oil directly onto my skin.  There are several benefits to coconut oil.  One is that is helps raise your "good" cholesterol, and another is that is helps in the prevention of diseases that attack the brain like dementia and Alzheimers!   Dr. Oz has done several shows about the benefits of coconut oil, including how it helps with weight loss and other health problems. 

We had already made the switch to "healthy" toothpaste without flouride.  I will admit, I was saying to myself, "But don't my kids need flouride to keep them healthy?"  Turns out the answer to that is, "No!"  Dr. Mercola said, "Fluoride is in fact a systemic POISON..."  What?!  I thought in order to keep our teeth healthy we need flouride, and that it's crucial for my children's health!  A simple search on Dr. Mercola's site about "flouride" yields these articles here.    Have you ever read the warning on your tube of toothpaste about what to do if you accidentally ingest some?  That alone should clue us in to the dangers of flouride and the other chemicals used in our "regular" toothpastes.  And did you know that "[Dentists rarely mention [flouride's] toxic potential or the few studies revealing increased tooth decay after flouride use"?  And in that same article, we learn from one study that "61,000 cancer deaths in the US result from flouridation each year."  Each year!   Does that mean you'll get cancer from using "regular toothpaste"?  Not necessarily, but we are trying to reduce our risk, so ours went into the trash and we replaced it with this: 

Want to DIY your own toothpaste?  I found a great, easy and inexpensive recipe online at this site.  This recipe is from Organic Body Care Recipes  (Storey, 2007) By Stephanie Tourles.

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
  • 1 drop peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark essential oil
  • A few drops (distilled) water
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn’t be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush.  Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.  

Linking up to the following:
Food Renegade:  Fight Back Friday

Weekend Bloggy Reading

DISCLAIMER I am not a doctor or a nurse.  I am a nutritional consultant student.  Everything written is from my studies and gathered from other sources, and compiled according to my opinions.  Always consult your doctor for health care advice!  Also I have not been compensated for any of the products in this review.  All of the opinions of products are my own.


Ultimate Reset RESULTS!

Baked sweet potato & garlic veggies
Well, here I am, 21 days later and much happier than when I began.  I have noticed some pretty amazing changes that took place over the last three weeks.  I will wholeheartedly recommend this cleanse to anyone wishing to lose weight, lower cholesterol, lose inches, or anyone wishing to improve overall health! 

Some have mentioned I’ve eaten some strange foods and strange food combinations.  Yes, that is true.  But there hasn’t been one meal I didn’t enjoy, truly!    My taste buds have been introduced to many new foods we will be eating from now on.  I'm so blessed to have adventurous eaters for children, and a very supportive husband throughout this entire journey.

I confess, though, that first thing this morning my husband made me a cup of coffee with cream and raw sugar!   And I'm making a delicious baked berry french toast recipe (that I made early last week for the kids).  I can smell it as I type this post.......mmmmmmm......I'll post the recipe one day this week!

So you want to know my ending results, right?  Are you ready?  My cumulative results over 21 days:  I lost TEN pounds and TEN inches overall!  The biggest change was that I lost 3” off each thigh.  My BMI is now 25.9, and I believe I’m only about five to seven pounds from a healthy BMI!

Unfortunately, I have been dealing with a kidney stone yesterday (ouch!).  Other than that, I believe my health has improved drastically.  I am really proud of myself for sticking to the cleanse for the whole 21 days.  I really didn’t know if I would be able to or not.  Knowing what I’m doing for my body and overall health made the biggest difference this time.  This wasn’t just a “diet” to lose weight.  This was a chance for me to “reset” my body, and I believe I did just that.  I will begin Les Mills Body Pump hopefully tomorrow (if the kidney stone passes today).  I plan to ease into the workouts and not do the really intense ones until next week.  I have also noticed a big difference in my skin.  Some people have said that I’m “glowing” – and that was without makeup!  I’ve never heard that before, so I will take that as a wonderful result of the cleanse.

Some have asked me how much groceries have cost while on the cleanse.  First, I must explain that I fed my family the same dinners I ate.  I added toast or extra food (veggies or meat) for them, but for the most part, they ate what I did at dinnertime, just larger portions in some cases.  

Overall, I spent $475 on groceries for the 21 days of this cleanse (Week 1 $200, shopped at Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods; Week 2 $140, shopped at Wegman’s & Farmer’s market; Week 3 $135, shopped at Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods & went berry picking at a local farm).  This includes all food and pantry staples for my family of five!  Normally, I try to spend between $500-600 per month on food.  Approximately $100-150 of that goes to an Amish farmer who provides all of our dairy, eggs, and some meat/poultry.  I cut back a bit from the farmer this month because after week 1, there was no dairy or eggs (or meat) for me.   I can’t promise this is what it will cost for you and your family.  I am a bit of a frugal and thrifty shopper who gets creative with foods, and doesn’t buy any prepackaged snacks or meals for my children.  If you buy prepackaged foods (crackers, snacks, freezer meals, etc.) and do not  do that during the cleanse, it's possible your grocery bill goes down!  Even buying organic which is more expensive can save you money if you only feed your family fruits and veggies with some meat during this time.  I understand you are going to do the cleanse, but why not try to get your whole family eating well, too?  If you're going to do this and have long-term success, I really recommend you evaluate at all the foods you are feeding your family.

For breakfast, the kids eat some combination of the following:  milk, eggs, toast, yogurt, fruit.  For their lunches, they usually eat almond butter sandwiches with farm fresh apple butter on Nature’s Own whole grain bread with fruit and/or veggies, and sometimes a hardboiled egg.  (Find out if your Dollar Tree sells Nature’s Own bread and when they get it in during the week.  I usually stock up when I find it and store it in our freezer.)  So you can see, our breakfast and lunch meals are pretty cost effective, even though they eat whole grain bread and organic/farm fresh groceries.  My three children (ages 9, 7, 5) all enjoyed the majority of the dishes on this cleanse!  One of their favorite dinners was veggie sushi with homemade miso soup.  

Day 15:  May 7, 2012 Monday
As usual, loved the fruit for breakfast.  Just stocked up at Trader Joe’s yesterday and went strawberry picking, so I had lots of yummy foods  to choose from.  Lunch was an excellent Asian cabbage & carrot salad.   But this afternoon was probably the toughest as far as wanting to snack.  Not sure why.  I snacked on roasted sunflower seeds (more than I should have and not an “approved” snack).  I also made kale chips for my kiddos to snack on today and had a few.  I think maybe when my children ask me 25+ times per day for a snack it just starts to get to me!  Extremely sore (back is very achy) and tired this afternoon  – just want to go to bed and take a nap, but being mommy to three prevents that from happening.  Sipped some green chai tea while I made dinner:  baked sweet potato with garlic veggies.  Yum!  Went to bed by 9:30pm.

Day 16:  May 8, 2012 Tuesday
Up at 5:30am.  Made a special breakfast for the kids this morning (baked French toast) and had a big fruit salad myself.  It was a bit difficult not to taste this new recipe.  Saved the last piece for hubby.  Huge microgreen salad for lunch was tough to finish!  Love roasted sunflower seeds combined with the creamy garlic dressing I made (recipe from the cleanse).  Still feel pretty achy.  Needed a snack today, so I had an apple and some chai tea.  Had a very unique dinner:  curried cauliflower and lemon pepper kale.  Wow!  That was seriously the best cauliflower I’ve ever tasted.  It was so delicious and even tasted buttery.  Unfortunately, I used too much fresh lemon juice on the kale which made it difficult to eat.  Went to bed by 9:30pm.

Day 17:  May 9, 2012 Wednesday
Up by 6am.  Another great fruit salad for breakfast.  Kids are driving me crazy with wanting to eat every hour, which in turn makes me want to snack, too!  I’ve done so well this whole time and then today I broke down and have had several handfuls of nuts.  I know that’s not a bad snack, but I’m trying to follow this plan exactly.  The Moroccan Carrot Salad for lunch was delicious!  I can see making big batches of that for my lunches during the week.  I think hubby would like it too.  Had blueberries and an apple for my snack.  Just can’t seem to satisfy my hunger today – I’ve been craving protein like crazy.  Easy dinner tonight (roasted squash, green beans & millet).  Have to work in the church nursery tonight.  Was in bed by 10:30pm.

Day 18:  May 10, 2012 Thursday
Up by 6am.  Still struggling with hunger – and craving nuts.  Had one apple for snack.  Followed recipes exactly.  Roasted fennel bulb tasted meaty in a good sort of way! Very delicious.  Ate rice with dinner.  Enjoyed some more chai tea today.  Went to bed late.

Day 19:  May 11, 2012 Friday
Up at 6:30am.  Was very emotional today.  A little sore and achy, but not bad.  Ran out of most of my fruit for breakfast, so had to sub in vegan Shakeology (1/2 scoop, water, ice, 1 kiwi).  Mediterranean carrot salad over greens was delicious for lunch!  Dinner was tempeh, coconut collard greens (love that coconut oil from Trader Joe’s!), and roasted beets.  Can’t believe I only have the weekend left.  Wonder how much I’ve lost overall.  Definitely can see a difference in my thighs.  Went to bed late again.

Stir fry, coconut collards & brown rice
Day 20:  May 12, 2012 Saturday
Up at 7:30am.  Getting my hair done this morning!  Again had to substitute Tropical Shakeology for the three cups of fresh fruit (1/2 scoop + water + ice + frozen blueberries).  Avocado Jicama salad was delicious over arugula and baby spinach.  Tonight we’re having stir fry – using the coconut oil (Trader Joe's coconut oil is delicious) in place of olive oil makes for a very unique and tasty stir fry!  No aches and pains this morning.  No headache or emotional issues either.  Can’t believe tomorrow is the last day!  Went to bed by 10pm.

Day 21:  May 13, 2012 Sunday
Carrot Seaweed Salad
Up by 6am.  Today is Mother’s Day, so my oldest made me my Shakeology (with help from hubby). Can’t believe this is the LAST day of my cleanse.  It really has gone quickly.  And the changes to my body…..pretty unbelievable!  I’ll wait until tomorrow morning to do the final weigh in & measurements.  So excited!  Unfortunately, after I woke up and got ready for the morning, I realized I’m dealing with kidney stones.  I’ve had them before so that saves a trip to the doctor.  Guess I’ll be drinking cranberry juice and water all day to get the stone to pass.  Now I wonder if this is why I was so achy in my lower back over the last few days (except yesterday).  Husband made my dinner.  His roasted veggies were the best I've ever had on the cleanse!  Went to bed by 10pm.

Now that I’ve gone through the cleanse, I would love to coach you through it too!  Please go here to purchase your starter kit:  www.myultimatereset.com/kellyabattlesEmail me (kellybstampin@yahoo.com) or post a comment below to let me know whether or not you want to be added to a Facebook Challenge Group.  This will be a group exclusively for people going through (or who have gone through) the Ultimate Reset.  It takes a lot of encouragement to get through, and as little outside distraction as possible.  If you know you have a vacation or event coming up, this is not the time to do the cleanse.  Wait until you know you have a full three weeks to commit.  Also, it really is important that you do not workout during the whole three weeks.  Trust me!  Just cutting the grass at the end of week two was too much for me.  I look forward to hearing YOUR next success story!   Consider sending me your story.  I would love to publish it on my blog for inspiration for someone else.  And don’t be like me; I didn’t take good before pictures, so I don’t have these great before/after pictures to put up here.    

I will continue to blog about keeping these ten pounds off, and I sincerely hope I will be able to announce that I am at my goal weight and a healthy BMI very, very soon!

I'm linking up to the Fight Back Friday Blog Carnival hosted by Food Renegade!


The Chicken Experiment

Our Easter Egger, Sunshine, 2 weeks old
In our quest to eat healthier, we started buying all of our dairy and eggs from an Amish farmer last summer.  I've come to realize that in order for us to eat really healthy, we need to know where our food comes from.  Conventional "everything" (dairy, eggs, meat/poultry, veggies & fruit) is just not the best you can put in your body.  There are so many chemicals and a variety of food processing techniques that alter your food and cause all sorts of problems.  Eating food you grow or harvest yourself, when you know where it came from, is the best you can give your body.  

I mentioned to my husband how fun it would be to have our own chickens so we could have our own "organic, free-range" eggs.  I'm not sure if he thought I was serious back then, and to be honest, I'm not sure I was serious either!  But the more I thought about it, the more I really liked the idea.  I researched to find out that it was legal in my county as long as our neighbors were OK with it. And after talking to the neighbors, it seemed the project was on!

In January, we decided to finally take the plunge and order one chick per family member.  We went through My Pet Chicken.  Each of us carefully selected the breed we wanted and sent our order in with two other local friends.  We even paid extra to make sure we got all hens, plus we paid to have them vaccinated.  We paid about $40 for five chicks, including shipping:  2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Silkies, and 1 Easter Egger.

In preparation of their arrival, I built a chick brooder.  The supplies I purchased and assembled include a large plastic tub with lid, wire mesh, fasteners, bird perch, bedding (we use pine shavings), thermometer, heat lamp & red bulb, chick feed & grit, and a feeder & waterer.  I cut out the inside of the lid and attached the wire mesh with some fasteners.  I lined the bottom with paper towels and bedding and set up the lamp.  Altogether we paid approximately $65 total.  Luckily, I found a hen house on ebay and even had some paypal credit, so our coop cost $300, shipped.  It arrived pretty quickly and was relatively easy to assemble.

Live chicks in the mail!
When the chicks arrived toward the end of March, my friend and I were surprised to learn that the hatchery included two extra silkies, and that the two we originally ordered weren't available, so they included Easter Eggers in place of the two we ordered.  We went home with six chicks that day:  two Rhode Island Reds, two Silkies, and two Easter Eggers.

Needless to say, my husband was shocked to learn we had an extra.  But one of our silkies was not guaranteed to be a hen (it was from a "straight run" that didn't get "sexed" before sending).  We promptly set about naming them:  Scarlett & Rainbow are the Rhode Island Reds, Sugar & Cinnamon are the Silkies, and Pepper & Sunshine are the Easter Eggers.

After a week or so, Cinnamon died.  We're not sure what happened.  We saw no signs of her health declining.  We were all so very sad, and even had a funeral for her.  She will forever be remembered by a rock our kids placed above her gravesite in our yard; poor little chick was so little we buried her in my iphone box.  Another friend who had hatched more than 20 chicks from eggs ten days after ours were born, offered to bring us one of her chicks to replace the one we lost.  And that's how we got our Barred Plymouth Rock, Spice.  So we were back to six chicks again!

Our Silkie named Sugar, 2 weeks old
 We kept them in their brooder and started letting them outside in the coop when the weather finally warmed up.  Once they were six  weeks old and had most of their feathers, they were certainly too large for the brooder and ready for the coop full-time.  It was a hectic first few days, worrying about them constantly!  We actually locked them into their hen house for the first two days (we'd read this helps them to know where their home is).  And on that third day they were just in the hen house at night and in their run during the day.  It took two nights for them to put themselves to bed, and now they do so every night by 8pm!
Ivy, about 5 weeks old
The same friend who brought us Spice had to start finding homes for their chicks since their HOA doesn't allow coops, and her three girls were sad to give them all up.  We offered to care for their two smallest bantams (a Silkie named Egglina, or Lina for short, and Violet who we think is a cross between a Silkie and a Polish bantam), as well as another chick we have yet to determine what her breed is.  She's a gorgeous grey (possibly "lavender") chicken that resembles the Americauna breed, named Ivy.

Introducing three new chickens into our flock wasn't easy.  Poor little Ivy was picked on quite a lot the first two days.  We actually brought her and Violet back into the brooder the first night we had them.  Then we just carefully watched them and made sure they didn't get injured by our big bullies.  Now they have been fully accepted into the flock.  Ivy still has be to careful she doesn't get in the way of the "top hens" (Sunshine, Pepper, or Scarlett), but for the most part they all get along.

So that's how we ended up with nine pet chickens in our backyard!  I must say, I really enjoy letting the "ladies" out in the morning from their hen house into the run, and then letting them free range in our backyard for one to two hours each afternoon.  The best part is when they take a dust bath in the mulch -- what a funny sight!  I was afraid they would be difficult to catch after letting them free-range, but usually after an hour or two, they start going back into the run on their own.  If they don't, we just grab one or two of the "top hens" and the rest will follow.  At night, it's so sweet as all nine waddle up the ladder into the coop for the night.

Scarlett, Rainbow & Sunshine, top hens of the coop
Some of my friends and family think we've lost our minds.  But I am really impressed at what great pets chickens make!  Since ours have been handled since they were only a couple days old, they are very friendly.  Each one seems to have a personality, too.  They are require very little work now that they're in the coop full-time.  And in a few months, they'll start "earning" their keep by providing us with fresh eggs!

I'm linking up to Serenity Now's Weekend Bloggy Reading:
Weekend Bloggy Reading


Beachbody's Ultimate Reset Cleanse (week 2)

Typical Week 2 Breakfast
I’ve heard time and time again, “Wow, you have so much willpower!”  Well, maybe I have some willpower, but I read a powerful explanation on the Ultimate Reset website (FAQ section) that really changed my mindset at the beginning and has helped me stick with this program:  “The Ultimate Reset Program is not a diet; it’s a detox program.  So try to view it as such.  (A person who’s on a program to quit smoking doesn’t cheat from time to time with the intent of eliminating the addiction to nicotine, right?)”  When I think, “Oh, I’d really like a cup of coffee with real cream again……” I remember, I’m ridding my body of all toxins to “reset” my metabolism and really re-energize my workouts.  To me, the small sacrifices I’m making now will pay off in another week when I’ll slowly add some of my old foods back into my diet and when I begin Body Pump again.  What I have discovered is that I do not crave some of the same things anymore.  My roasted veggies with homemade sauces, or big bowls of fresh fruit, or the homemade soups I’ve made are much more appealing than many of my old “comfort” foods.

It’s difficult to explain, but I really do feel better overall.  I’ve noticed my complexion got bad earlier in the week (I guess from the toxins coming out) and it has cleared up now.  My skin feels so smooth, like I’m using moisturizer, but I’m not.  Although I was very fatigued Saturday after cutting the grass, I recovered pretty quickly.  I’m not experiencing any aches and pains like I expected, but we’ll see what this last week brings with the new supplement. 

I’ve managed to take the supplements exactly as prescribed which is not easy for me.  I’m not one to take medicines or vitamins regularly, but I keep the chart of what I take and when on my fridge at eye level.  I mark off each one I take so I never forget.  Also, the night before, I load my travel pouch (from Beachbody) with all the supplements I’ll need for the next day.

Overall, and I’m only 2 weeks in, I believe this is the best program for health I’ve ever encountered!  It’s not a diet because the focus is on removing toxins from my body and restoring my insides to optimal health through proper nutrition (the carefully planned meals Beachbody gives you are simple to prepare and fill you up – you will not starve on this cleanse).  And the supplements are gentle compared to other cleanses I’ve tried.  What a wonderful side effect of restoring my body to optimal health:  weight & inches lost!  And here’s my cumulative results over the past two weeks:  I’ve lost EIGHT pounds, 2” off each thigh, 1.5” off my waist, and 1/2” off my hips.  

All I have to say is wow!  This is the breakthrough I have been looking for.  To be perfectly honest, I was up about 5 pounds before I started this cleanse from my lowest weight (probably January I was at my lowest).  So now those are gone AND I’ve lost more already!  (Since my heaviest weight, I’ve lost just over 45 pounds!)  I’m so much closer to a healthy BMI (below 25 is considered healthy) –currently I think mine is 26.1.  I’ve learned some great recipes that I plan to incorporate in my meal planning on a regular basis.  I’ve found the key with trying these new foods is proper seasonings.  I love Himalayan sea salt and a great herbal seasoning I found at Trader Joe’s.  Also, sometimes just a sprinkle of lemon juice enhances the flavor of steamed and roasted veggies. 

Here’s some excerpts from my food journal this past week:

Day 8:  April 30, 2012 Monday
Had 3 cups of fruit (apples, strawberries & kiwi) for breakfast.  Also started the detox packets this week.  Lunch is simple today, salad and avocado, so little to no prep there.  Plus, since I already started dinner, it should only take me 15-20 min to make dinner tonight.  Finally an easy cooking day!  I had more energy today than I’ve had since the beginning.  I feel upbeat and happy!  No problems with snacking today……went to the grocery store and got the rest of the food for this week.  Finding no problems sticking to the plan.  Food is just so good!  Went to bed a little later than usual (10:30pm).

Day 9:  May 1, 2012 Tuesday
Day 9 dinner
Woke up before 5am and couldn’t go back to sleep!  Weirdest breakfast ever…..miso soup, avocado, and smashed chickpeas, but delicious -- yes, really!  The new supplement (detox packet) this week has a strange taste, but not terrible.  Glad I made extra dinner last night (rice & beans) so lunch just needs to be warmed up.  Looking forward to the new soup recipe tonight.  Wasn’t hungry, but decided to have one of the snacks.  Weird combo – strawberries & corn!  Strange, but tasty.  Snack portions are large.

Day 10:  May 2, 2012 Wednesday
I love having 3 cups of fresh fruit for breakfast.  This is something kind of new for me….I’ve been so used to either oatmeal, yogurt, or a smoothie, that I’ve never just stopped and had plain fruit.  Love it!  Still feeling extremely full from the portions.  Food is excellent today.  Had a snack (carrots and avocado).  Can’t imagine being able to eat dinner b/c I’m so full still.  Supplements are getting a tad bit easier to take.  Looking forward to tonight’s dinner – another new recipe!  No headache, and I feel good – lots of energy.  Can’t believe I’m already halfway!  

Day 11:  May 3, 2012 Thursday
Had co-op again today – it’s our last day, so I planned ahead and brought my supplements and lunch with me.  I also packed lunches for the kids.  I called it “inside out sushi” – I put all the ingredients that I use in my veggie sushi recipe except the nori sheets into a small Tupperware (brown rice, avocado, cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, carrots, & cucumber).  They were actually excited about it!  (I think giving it a fun name was probably key.)  Not difficult to say no to the treats in the teacher’s lounge today.  I’m feeling really good – almost like I have super powers or something (yes, really!).  Because it was the last day of co-op, my students had a party in class and brought treats.  While they ate rainbow cupcakes, cookies and chips/salsa, I took my supplements!  I chugged down the detox packet with some water and reminded myself how much better I’m making my insides.  Went to bed by 10pm.

Day 12:  May 4, 2012 Friday
Day 12 dinner
Up by 6am.  Had friends for lunch – made grilled cheese for the kiddos, but had salad with my friend, along with hearty vegetable miso soup.  I still have a difficult time eating everything!  Food is very filling and still tastes excellent.   I bought green chai tea at the store and had some today.  It’s really nice.  I put just 1 tablespoon of coconut milk (unsweetened) in it.  Coconut collard greens with roasted Mediterranean beets isn’t something I would have expected to taste so great for dinner, but it did!  I am definitely incorporating these recipes into our regular meal plans.  Went to bed by 9:30pm again.

Day 13:  May 5, 2012 Saturday
Up just before 6am.  The grass needed to be cut, so even though I’ve been avoiding anything too strenuous, I tried to do it myself this morning.  I made it most of the way, but my hubby took over and finished the last small section.  Afterward I was very lightheaded and felt weak.  I can see now why it’s important not to work out during the cleanse!  (I had 2-3 tablespoons of nuts to help give me back some energy.)  We planned to have lunch at a local restaurant downtown with friends today.  I wasn’t that worried, even though it’s our favorite Italian pizza place.  I drank two full glasses of water and had some more nuts to help fill me before we left.  I chose water at the restaurant, and the roasted/grilled veggie sub for lunch.  I subbed out my fries for a side salad that I just put balsamic vinegar on (no oil since my sub had quite a bit already).  I also gave all my bread to my kiddos.  I felt full and it felt wonderful to be able to eat out today!  Tonight’s dinner was fabulous as usual.  The garlic-tahini sauce on roasted acorn squash was another new recipe that I loved.

Day 14:  May 6, 2012 Sunday
Switched yesterday’s breakfast with today’s.  It’s strange how my tastes have changed since I began this two weeks ago.  I truly never thought having “smashed” chickpeas with steamed spinach and avocado would be appealing in the morning, but it was filling and tasted great.  Struggled not to get coffee at church this morning, but when the store bought cinnamon rolls went by me, I wasn’t even tempted.  My taste buds must have changed because it didn’t even look appealing to me!  I had to go grocery shopping and decided to go to Trader Joe’s again because it’s so much cheaper.  I had to snack on the strawberries I picked on the way to Trader Joe’s (which are one of the suggested snacks for weeks 2&3).  This trip made for a very late night and I didn’t get my dinner made until 9pm.  Went to bed by 10pm again. 


Beachbody's Ultimate Reset Cleanse (week 1)

Currently, I’m studying to become a certified nutritionist.  Hopefully, if all goes well, I will complete my studies and be certified by the end of this summer.  Probably one of the most important lessons I have learned is that our bodies are filled with toxins that we put in them on a daily basis.  By not buying organic, we are introducing pesticides and fungicides into our systems, chemicals our bodies can’t process and that can cause problems inside.  By eating prepackaged foods, we are also putting unnecessary chemicals and other unhealthy ingredients into our bodies.  Even the water we drink (from the tap) has chemicals!  So the first line of defense is to detox the body of these chemicals.

Day 6 dinner
When Beachbody first started talking about offering a cleanse, I knew I wanted to try it.  (You can check out the Ultimate Reset here.)  But when it came out last month and I saw the price tag, I had sticker shock.  It seemed like a lot of money.  However, most naturopaths, chiropractors, and nutritionists offer cleanse programs to their clients.  From just the little bit of research I’ve done, it looks as though Beachbody’s price point is right in line with others on the market.

When my cleanse arrived in the mail, I was so excited.  I wanted to start right away!  I made a trip to Trader Joe’s to gather my ingredients for week 1 and some of the “staples” I needed in my pantry.  This post will give my results after only 7 days (still have 14 to go) and I’ve decided to include some of my daily journaling.  I know it helps me to read what others struggle with when I’m making difficult positive changes, so I hope it’ll encourage someone out there!

After only seven days, I am amazed at the differences in my body already.  I lost FOUR pounds.  Plus I lost 1” off my waist AND 1” off each thigh!  (My arms and hips have stayed the same.)  I have no more caffeine headache, and I feel full each day.   I’ve tried many new recipes and loved every single one of them, really!  I have to be honest:  Not having dessert and coffee sometimes gets to me.  I really got used to something sweet after dinner.  Overall, I am very impressed with the variety of foods and how well Beachbody has put together this cleanse.  If this is how much I’ve changed in just 7 days, I can’t wait to see how I do at the 21 day mark!

Day 1:  April 23, 2012, Monday
Followed plan exactly – no straying!  No coffee was tough.  Ended up napping for about 20 min in the afternoon.  Went to bed by 9:30pm.  Drank about 4-5 cups green tea today!  Lots of trips to bathroom because of the extra water I’m drinking!  Made 2 salad dressings.  Made homemade corn tortillas for tomorrow night’s dinner and set beans out to soak until tomorrow.  Everyone loved the salmon dinner except Hannah.  It was tough not to take seconds of what I liked.  Supplements are not difficult to take except for the Alkaline!  That one I just have to chug.
Day 1 breakfast

Day 2:  April 24, 2012 Tuesday
Headache from no coffee.  Trying to drink green tea without sugar.  Loved the pine nuts on my salad!  I’ve never splurged on those before and I really like them.  Excited about dinner tonight:  homemade corn tortillas, black beans and rice along with guacamole, corn & salsa (Mexican is our family’s favorite meal).  Making fresh mint tea (just put 3 mint leaves and one basil in hot water with a pinch of stevia) for something different and it was delicious!  It’s SO difficult to go without coffee…..I have a horrible headache still tonight.  Was really tired today, but didn’t nap.  Went to bed again by 9:30pm.

Day 3:  April 25, 2012 Wednesday
Only had ONE cup of tea today!  Headache is gone – kind of surprised it only took 2 whole days to get rid of it; I was expecting it to last at least 3 days. I haven’t noticed any difference in going to the bathroom or aches and pains.  Loved the lentil salad for lunch today!  Made the Ginger Miso dressing for my salad at lunch and really liked it a lot.  Still following the plan exactly.  Kids loved the homemade miso soup and nori rolls with tempeh (fake “bacon” was something new for me in my sushi).  What is most difficult about the cleanse, is the amount of cooking and dishwashing I have been doing the last few days.  Tomorrow will be first day “out” during this cleanse (we attend a homeschool co-op once a week).  I hope to avoid the snacks in the teacher’s lounge and stick to just a cup of tea and bring my own snack.  Too complicated to try to bring lunch with me tomorrow, but I do have most of it prepared because I’ve made double batches of some of the meals. 

Day 4:  April 26, 2012 Thursday
Today was challenging.  I teach at a homeschool co-op every Thursday and don’t usually get home until after 1pm.  Usually, I eat the treats in the teachers’ lounge and enjoy a cup of coffee, but instead I made myself a cup of caffeine free herbal tea.  I’ll be honest, it was a tad bit tough avoiding the baked goods in there today!  Didn’t have a snack at all today because I was running around all afternoon.  (Snacks are allowed but optional on the cleanse.)  It was difficult to pass up the candy and granola bars at the checkouts during my errands today because I was so hungry, but I made it.  Dinner wasn’t on the table until 8pm!  It wasn’t complicated to make, but I didn’t get home and get started until after 7pm.  All the meals were excellent today and I felt very full after eating.  I think because I wasn’t at home, I wanted to snack more today (even though I didn’t give in).  By the time dinner was finished, I felt very tired, achy and sore all over.  I went to bed by 9:30pm.

Day 5:  April 27, 2012 Friday
Up by 6am again.  I need to stop weighing myself daily.  That just seems to irritate me watching numbers go up and down daily.  Oatmeal tasted really good this morning!  I made extra the other morning, so I just warmed it up in a pot with ¼ c coconut milk.  Looks like lunch should be easy, as will dinner because I’ve made extra this week and can eat the leftovers for the planned meals today.  I like that it’s saved me time!  Feeling very sore & achy today.  Got my Shakeology in the mail yesterday, so I asked the FB group how it can be subbed in to the cleanse.  This is the response I got:  “Although we encourage you to follow the prescribed Beachbody Ultimate Reset meal plan, we do allow Shakeology Vegan as a convenient, healthy breakfast alternative for all three phases. However, since phase 3 calls for less protein..., we recommend you take only a half a serving of Vegan Shakeology.”  Here’s one recipe they gave me that’s approved for the Beachbody Ultimate Reset:  "Kiwilicious:  Blend 1 serving Shakeology Tropical Strawberry, 1 cup distilled water, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, and 1 kiwifruit peeled."  (You can purchase Tropical Strawberry Shakeology here.)

Day 6:  April 28, 2012 Saturday
Made it to the Farmer’s Market this morning, downtown.  I love talking to the farmers and vendors there about how they grow their food.  It was tough to turn down the homemade cheese samples, and the man with baked goods really stayed on me to buy his strawberry pies!  Meals went fine, just a lot of time to prep each meal still.  Finding it difficult to keep up with all household chores with the extra cooking and cleaning of dishes.  Food was amazing!  I’m definitely going to start incorporating many of these recipes into my regular menus after the cleanse is over.  I also want to start growing more veggies at home. 

Day 7:  April 29, 2012 Sunday
This was a difficult day!  I had church and a potluck picnic all day long.  I had time to make breakfast, but lunch had to be brought to the park.  Bringing my soup was not easy!  Then looking at that long table of chips, cookies, brownies, etc. was somewhat of a challenge.  I just kept reminding myself that it’s only 2 more weeks to go……

Stay tuned for weeks 2 and 3.  I will keep journaling daily and post my results along with the condensed versions of my journal entries for you all to read.


Homemade Guacamole Recipe

 I believe avocados are one of the best and most nutritious foods available.  It’s what I fed my youngest two children as their first food.  Yes, instead of jarred (nasty) baby food, I mashed avocados (thinned a little with formula or water) and fed it to my kids when they were babies!  I’m happy to report that they are lovers of vegetables, even today.  Even if you buy organic produce (avocados, bananas, etc), it’s still cheaper than jarred baby food you can buy at the store and so much more nutritious.  

 I love guacamole, and if avocados were cheaper, I would make this all the time.   I’m secretly hoping I can grow them in a greenhouse here in Virginia!   Here’s my extremely simple recipe for homemade guacamole that goes really well with homemade crackers or carrot chips (slice carrots thinly and voila! You have raw carrot chips)!

  • 1-2 organic avocados, mashed
  • 1 small organic yellow onion, chopped
  • Juice from 1organic lime (approx 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • Optional:   1 T freshly chopped cilantro, 1 chopped tomato, or for a spicy kick, add 1 T chopped jalepenos.

Directions:  Combine all ingredients well.  

I'm linking up this recipe to Serentity Now!
Serenity Now


My Weight Loss Journey (part 3)

In my quest to make myself and my family healthier in all aspects of nutrition and housekeeping, I have found quite a few very helpful sites.  Not just buying and cooking the “right” foods are important. So part 3 of "My Weight Loss Journey" will detail the sites that have taught me everything I know!

I mentioned that My Fitness Pal was what helped me track my calories.  It encouraged me to keep logging my food and exercise.  Each day you log your activity, it records it and tells you how many days you’ve logged in a row.  I’ll admit, though, that I’ve been discouraged when I forget to log in just one day and the count that was close to 100 goes back to zero.  Recently, I received word about a new program, very similar to My Fitness Pal called Slimkicker!  I started an account, and plan to begin logging and using their site exclusively. 

Almost two years ago, a dear friend of mine switched her family (2 adults, 2 children) to raw milk, pastured eggs and grass fed beef.  I’ll admit…….I was intrigued.  Honestly, I was a bit disgusted by the idea of raw milk.  I was also worried about giving it to my children.  Is it safe?  What if they get sick?  How do I know it’s the right thing to do?  I trust my friend in that I know she would never do anything to endanger her family.  So I started researching.  I found two great sites in particular that gave me all of the information that helped me make my informed decision:  Weston A Price and Dr. Mercola.  Also, there’s a great site (set up by the Weston A Price foundation) with very specific information on “real” milk.  

The two most important points that helped me decide to switch to “real” milk:
1 – Raw milk is safe!  Conventional milk is pasteurized to get rid of dangerous bacteria.  The dangerous bacteria is there because the cows are not eating what nature intended them to eat (grass), and they are kept in absolutely disgusting conditions.  Those cows are so sick from their unnatural diets and conditions, and produce some pretty disgusting milk (pus and blood are in their milk!), so it must be pasteurized.  I would never drink raw milk from a “conventional” dairy farm as that milk would not be safe.  But, by knowing how the cows are kept and fed at my local farm, I am confident that I am purchasing milk that is safe for me and my whole family.  Please be sure you know the conditions your cows are in before buying raw milk.  Check your state laws as well.  Being informed is the best way to avoid getting sick.
2 – Raw milk is healthy!  I noticed a 5 lb drop in only 2 weeks after switching from fat free half & half to raw heavy cream daily in my coffee.  I did nothing else different (consumed the same calories and exercised the same) and my weight dropped quicker than the 1lb/week it had been.  Also, I’ve noticed our entire family seems to be healthier.  This is the first spring we have not suffered from allergies!  I used to have asthma and suffer from pretty bad allergies.  But now that we are eating healthier, combined with the great probiotics in our raw milk, we seem to have been spared this season!  Our immune systems seem much stronger.  The only evidence I can give is that when the bad stomach virus was going around, my kids only vomited once and felt sick for 6-10 hours when everyone else seemed to be vomiting ever 20 min and felt sick a minimum of 24 hours.

Another important point to note about milk in general is that it is one of the biggest causes of allergies and asthma in children and adults!  In my studies to become a certified nutritionist, I’ve learned it’s important to do a 14 day fast from dairy to see if allergy conditions improve.  If they do, you may have a milk allergy to some degree.  But from the research, most people who are lactose intolerant or have allergies, are able to handle raw milk.  (Please seek the advice of your doctor or allergist before consuming milk – raw or not – if you’ve been diagnosed with an allergy.)  The problem with “conventional” milk is that it is missing many of the beneficial probiotics your body needs to fight off allergens (the good bacteria is killed in the pasteurization process).  Also, the protein structures of the milk are changed when heated which is what many people have the allergic reaction to (allergic reaction can mean many different things, depending on the person and severity).    See this article here for more information.

Now, where do you get raw milk?  It’s difficult to find unless you know someone who is buying it.  Unfortunately, I can’t give detailed information on how to find it as farmers fear being shut down by the government.  My best advice is to go to the Real Milk website and search your specific area.  If nothing is listed, go to your local farmers’ market and start asking.  It all depends on the laws in your state.

Aside from the controversial “real milk” debate, I have found Dr. Mercola’s website to be extremely helpful in my journey to get myself and my family healthy.  He has educated me on many topics from how to get rid of cleaning chemicals in my home (and use natural essential oils) to how to cook foods properly to ensure the most nutrition stays in the foods we eat.

Usually when I find a topic on Dr. Mercola’s site, I go over to www.livestrong.com to check what they have to say about the same topic.  Many times, they are saying the same things, but this other site seems more “conventional” than holistic.  I think many people call the holistic movement “crunchy granola” or “a little crazy” but conventional sites like Livestrong seem better accepted by the mainstream population.   I would highly recommend doing research there for just about any topic you want to know more about.

I guess this site is the most obvious…..yes, I’m a Beachbody coach, so of course I would recommend our site!  But it’s more than just that.  I’ve found accountability there.  I’ve found information there.  And I’ve been challenged there!  Just signing up for a free beachbody account and logging your workouts in the Supergym (in real time) will get you entered to win $500 daily!  I have to admit, I get frustrated with myself when I’m not working out because I know I missed a chance to be entered to win real cash money.  If you become a Club Member, you also get the benefit of a discount on all products plus personalized meal plans and shopping lists.

The last website I’ll mention in this post (that is much longer than I anticipated!) is the college I’m attending online:  Global College of Natural Medicine.  After becoming more and more interested in understanding how natural foods can heal the body, I decided to become a certified holistic nutritionist.  So I started searching for programs available.  It would have to be something online and affordable.  There are many programs out there, but nothing seemed doable until I found GCNM.  And the fact that 80% of my tuition could go towards a bachelor’s degree, Holistic Health Practioner, really made the decision for me.  Now, not only am I learning all of these things to help myself and my family, but I will be certified to help others officially and plan to continue my studies all the way to get my phd!

I have learned more in my Nutritional Consultant course than anywhere else.  Although I have researched many topics on the other sites, I haven’t read through the scientific research explaining the experts’ various opinions until now.  It makes sense.  I see the science behind the information.  It’s shocking that the knowledge I’m gaining is not the mainstream information available to everyone.  I hope to be able to educate others, especially moms, in how to better provide nutrition and safe products in their homes.

Stay tuned for Part 4 when I will detail how I cleaned out our pantry!


My Weight Loss Journey (part 2)

This is part 2 in my series “My Weight Loss Journey”.  If you think you need to spend money to find online recipes or menu plans, you are sorely mistaken!  Everything I’ve found online has been free.

I mentioned that my mindset changed after reading Made to Crave.  I believe the most important change was that I stopped looking at food as the problem.  I realized *I* was the problem.  I started looking at food as fuel for my body.  I looked at nutrition instead of just the calories.  It was a big wake-up call when I decided to stop eating diet food.  I thought to myself, “Why would I eat food that I can’t give to my children?”  So I searched for healthy recipes online, and for blogs that would point me in the right path.  

First, I found Skinny Taste thanks to a friend in our accountability group.  She said they had recipes with Weight Watchers points and that most of the recipes were recognizable ones made healthier.  It only took one recipe to get me hooked! 

Then I thought, if I could just make this transition easier and have meals ready to go, then I wouldn’t be as likely to make or buy “bad foods”.  So I came across Once A Month MomHer site was amazing, and again, free!  I picked the “diet” menu plan and made enough food to last my family for more than one month.  In fact, we had lentil stew in the freezer for more than 6 months!  My accountability group was interested in doing the same, so we set up a day to put together a monthly menu plan at one of our houses.  Another time, we did a meal swap where we each brought 6 dinners (one recipe) and 6 snacks (one recipe).  It was great to go home with so many different meals that day! 

Since that time, I’ve discovered that the easiest way for me to do freezer cooking is to pick 1-2 weeks of meals and double the ingredients for my grocery list (obviously, I have to go weekly to get fresh veggies).  Then, each night I cook a double meal – we eat one and I freeze the other.  When I do this 2 weeks in a row, I don’t have to cook for two whole weeks.  It’s great!  But for those just starting out, I recommend you pick 7 dinners, double the ingredients, and then cook for just one week, freezing your second meal each time.  It’s an easier way to get introduced to freezer cooking and not as much money up front.

 But even though Skinny Taste and Once A Month Mom are great sites, I still find that they use fat-free or sugar-free ingredients in some of their recipes.  I also started realizing that boxed mixes and many prepared items are just not healthy.  We wanted to avoid refined sugars as much as possible, so after some searching, I discovered 100 Days of Real Food.  Here was a mom, just like me, who decided to start feeding her family healthy, nutritious, real food.  She inspired me, and she made it so easy to make meals and snacks that my whole family enjoyed, while I still dropped pounds!  It was her inspiration that helped me to create my homemade wheat thin recipe.  And what's really cool is that she has partnered with Once A Month Mom to bring whole food menus to the monthly meal planning convenience.

I’ve also found Snack Girl and Chocolate Covered Katie to have amazing, low calorie snacks that we all enjoy.  Who knew you could make a healthy chocolate chip cookie dough dip?!   Chocolate Covered Katie did!  

Definitely take some time to browse the sites from this post.  Write down some recipes and try it out yourself.  Cooking healthy, organic meals doesn't have to cost a lot and it doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming. I would be surprised if you come away from this post and not have enough information to get started making healthy, nutritious meals!

Stay tuned for part 3 of this series where we will go through the non-recipe sites that have taught me everything I know about proper nutrition.


My Weight Loss Journey (part 1)

This will be the beginning of a series of posts about how I have lost 43 lbs since April 2011.  Stay tuned for more as well as some new recipes I've created too!
I used to watch the Jenny Craig commercials and the Weight Watchers and think, “When we have money, I’m going to do that and finally lose weight.”  Or I’d eye the special diet food at the store and sigh, thinking I just needed money and I could finally get my weight under control. 
I resigned myself to the thought that I just wasn’t an athletic girl.  There’s no way I was going to start exercising regularly.  Just no way.  And I figured I must not have the “skinny genes”……I’d even be secretly angry when I’d see “skinny” people eating Twinkies!  How could they eat that and not gain weight?  It just didn’t seem fair.

Then I read a book called Made to Crave last summer.  My entire way of thinking shifted.  I realized that I was using food as my crutch.  I realized that no matter how much money I have, I would never lose weight and keep it off if I kept making excuses and if I depended on things to help me lose weight. 

Yes, there are great tools out there to lose weight.  But ultimately, the ONLY way I would ever lose weight and keep it off was if *I* changed.  I’ve finally come to the realization that I am ultimately in control over what I put in my body and how much I move it! 

If I’m completely honest, I will tell you what spurred me to begin this journey:  my 20th high school reunion is this summer.  I couldn’t bear the thought of everyone seeing me the way I was.  I was ashamed, and I was depressed.  But I was determined to make a change.  I was not going to fail.  Not this time.  I entered a brave new world where I was no longer focused on what I can’t have, but on all of the new things I can have.   Just that simple shift in thinking has helped me stay successful for one year and counting!

I’ve written before about how exactly I went about losing 43 lbs, but it’s worth repeating:  I ate less and moved more.  That’s it, folks! There’s no magic pill.  There’s no specific diet.  But specifically, I did several things that led to my success:

I joined an accountability group of 5 women who met with me weekly to weigh in, kind of like a free Weight Watchers meeting.  We met every Monday morning at a different person’s house (hostess made a healthy snack).  We shared recipe ideas (even did a meal swap twice).  Knowing I was going to step on the scale in front of those women kept me going throughout the week.  I needed that in the beginning.  And we eventually started a Facebook group called “30 Day Challenge” where we all posted our beginning body fat percentage and then posted our ending percentage.  The one with the biggest change got a $20 gift card from everyone in the challenge.  I think our first challenge had 14 participants, so the winner got $280!  Personally, I cut my body fat percentage in HALF!  I never won the challenge, but I lost so much weight and inches that it really didn’t matter.  Oh ok, it would have been nice to have those gift cards to buy new clothes to fit my new body, but honestly, it was wonderful to be part of a group of women who were making serious changes in their lives!

 I signed up for www.myfitnesspal.com and started tracking my calories.   I chose to make healthy meals my whole family could eat, and I measured out all of my portions so I was in control over exactly how many calories I was taking in.  I generally eat 1200-1400 per day.  There are a lot of diets out there that promise you weight loss, but I wanted something that I would stick with long term, and something that was safe for my whole family.  I do not eat “low fat”, “sugar free”, or other diet foods.  I eat REAL food, but more on that later.

Finally, I exercise for at least 20 minutes EVERY day.  Before I spent at least several hours on the computer (mainly Facebook & browsing the web) daily, so I had absolutely NO excuse to spend at least one half hour a day working out.  I chose to begin with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred.  I’m not going to lie.  It was difficult!  I didn’t want to do it, and it hurt.  But I kept at it and posted daily what day and week I was on in the program.  The accountability of my Facebook friends kept me going.  After the first 30 days, I moved on to Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 3.  It was at this point last summer that I decided I wanted to make money inspiring others to do what I did and joined Team Beachbody as a coach.  I bought TurboJam and Shakeology and the transformation of my body continued.  I also purchased a Polar GT4 heart rate monitor to see exactly how many calories I was burning.  My goal is to burn at least 250 calories per workout session.  I found that I love kickboxing and martial arts training as exercise!  Who knew?  My son is graduating to camo belt in Taekwondo this week, and I've seriously thought about signing up for the adult class, too!

Part 2 of this series will be the online tools I have used to get my weight under control.


Healthy Kids' Lunches: Bento Style!

I just borrowed some Bento supplies from a friend for a fun lunch get together I'm having next week.  I decided to try out some things tonight and make my kids each a bento lunch for tomorrow's homeschool co-op.  What fun!  I wouldn't do this much since we do homeschool and it's pretty time consuming, but it was actually fun to do.  

There's a hard-boiled "fish" egg,  panda bear cherry tomatoes, piggy filled with soy sauce (for the veggies), peanut butter & apple butter tortilla roll ups, and the panda hiding behind a broccoli & celery tree on sprouted "grass".

This one has all of the same items as the other box, except a celery and red pepper flower with a cheese center and cilantro leaves.