End of Year Q&A: Part 2

Good moring from Maine! We made it here safely and smoothly yesterday, and we wasted no time finding a local restaurant for seafood chowder!

After that, we headed down to the lake where my mom and dad were waiting for us. It’s so beautiful here. There isn’t any snow yet, but it’s coming tomorrow!!! We are all so excited about that.

winter at the lake

Today I’m tackling Part Two of my Q&A. I addressed blogging and fashion questions in Part One, and today I’m going to address health/diet/exercise questions as well as parenting/family and anything else that didn’t fit neatly into a category.

Health/Diet/Exercise Questions

Q: Can you give more information on your current clean eating journey? 

A: Well… let’s see. This could be a post in and of itself. My clean eating journey actually started several years ago. I had some weird health problems (mostly gastro-intestinal related, but they resulted in a couple scary episodes of vasovagal syncope) that no doctor or test could explain or solve, so I got fed up and revamped my diet. I switched to eating mostly real whole foods, and it didn’t take long for my symptoms to begin to subside, along with the IBS symptoms I suffered with my whole life.

I went gluten-free about a year into my real food journey, and it definitely helped tweak what was already working with the real food.

As time went on, I got lazy, the kids got bigger and more opinionated, and I let more crap into the house (and consequently, into my own diet.) Around the same time, I got injured and was laid up for a year and couldn’t really exercise, and I put on weight.

I figured it was just age, and there was nothing I could do about it, but then my clothes started getting tight, and I decided enough was enough. That was a few months ago. (Actually, I did a Sugar Detox two years ago with great results, but I never stuck to the maintenance program.)

So back in August, I decided to take the Whole 30 program and modify it to work for me in a way that would be sustainable. I decided to treat it like going gluten-free — not a diet, but a complete lifestyle overhaul for the long term. I slipped a bit over Christmas weekend, and I felt so terrible, it renewed my commitment to stick to this way of eating.

In addition to feeling better, I lost 7-8 pounds, and now when I walk into my closet, everything fits (or it’s too big, which is another issue entirely!) I was getting so tired of picking out my outfits based on what would button that day without creating an unsightly bulge. I knew I had to do something drastic or go up a clothing size. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going up a size; in fact, I’ve recommended it in the past. Sometimes we need to accept ourselves the way we are and dress to flatter our current bodies, but other times it’s worth the effort to re-assess our habits and make some changes and see if we can make it stick.

I don’t want to be yo-yo dieting all my life, but at the same time, if you don’t try to make healthy changes, you’ll certainly never succeed, so I’m trying once again, and hoping that I’ve finally found a way to do it that is sustainable.

Okay, there is just no way to keep that question short. I’m sorry.

Q: What is your biggest challenge with keeping up with the clean eating?

A: My biggest challenge is keeping stuff in the house that I can eat. Fresh food spoils, and it takes time to prepare. I shortcut where I can (buy prepared things when I can, and eat things leftover or raw when I can) but ultimately I will only succeed if I have good food available, so I try to keep stocked up. Meal planning is my nemesis, but I’m determined to get better about that in 2017. Meanwhile, thank the good Lord for a husband who is willing to stop by the grocery store on the way home from work almost every time I ask. #godblesshim #imarriedasaint

Q: How do you keep your figure? I know you workout/run, but just what do you eat?

A: I eat eggs, meat, fish and seafood, veggies, cheese, and fruit. In about that order. I eat tons of eggs, I have a protein (meat or seafood) with almost every meal, and I try to integrate veggies into every meal. I use fruit to curb my sweet tooth, and I eat some cheese, but not as much as I used to. I do eat white potatoes, I rarely eat rice, and I almost never eat pasta. If I do, it’s gluten-free.

I try not to eat desserts, but I may sometimes indulge for a special occasion, or I’ll grab a bite of chocolate. I put heavy cream in my coffee, and I drink wine with dinner, and I’m trying to drink more water. I never touch a soda. I gave that up years ago (and I had a major Coca-Cola addiction.)

I just want to add that carbs and sugar will be the death of you… literally and figuratively. I really do think our national carb and sugar addiction is killing us by causing or at least exacerbating our modern diseases. (I know, dramatic much? But I’m serious.)

Also, carbs and sugar put fat on you in the areas you least want it. Whenever I reduce the carb and sugar load in my diet, I notice less bloating, and my waist becomes more defined.

Q: I am curious about your diet: where you go for recipes, favorite brands at the store, ratio of foods on your plate, etc.

I’m all about easy. I make eggs for breakfast almost every day — fried or scrambled with leftover dinner veggies thrown in. I eat a salad with tuna or chicken salad on it almost every day for lunch, or I may eat leftover dinner. For dinners, I’ve tried some new recipes, but I often revert back to my old stand-bys. I tend to be a meat-potato-veggie kind of cook (thanks to my mom) and that works well for this lifestyle. I googled Whole30 easy dinner recipes to find some new ideas. One of my biggest challenges is that my son is allergic to nuts and sesame, so that eliminates a lot of paleo-friendly meals right there.

Q: Any chance you might consider talking a bit about your thyroid condition? I’m a member of that club too. I read that going gluten free can be helpful for that.

A: I don’t mind talking about it, but I don’t feel like there’s much to tell. It’s my personal opinion that I don’t have a thyroid problem, but my numbers are consistently elevated, indicating a hypothyroid condition. I’ve been on and off meds over the years, and my “symptoms” (there are none) never change. I never seem to feel a difference in appetite, energy, or any of the other things associated with hypothyroid. The only issue I have is hair loss/thinning, but I actually think it was better when I was off thyroid meds. It was also better when I was 100% gluten-free, so I’m trying to get back to being diligent about that.

Q: Could you give tips on the best way to begin eating clean on a budget and helpful recipes. 

A: Eating clean on a budget can be really challenging, I will be honest. I used to write a lot about this topic back in the day… back when it was all new to me, and I was so passionate about it. I am going to take the easy way out on this, and refer back to an old post I wrote, or more or less compiled some links that I hope are helpful: Real Food on a Budget.

We spend a lot of money on food because I’m too busy these days to research and travel around for the best deals. I shop at a local whole food store as much as I can, and I buy meat at a local butcher. I used to frequent our farmer’s market, I’ve done the CSA thing, but these days, I’m pretty lazy about it, and I do the best I can at the store.

I’ll post a roundup of some of my favorite paleo-friendly recipes in a separate post next week!

Parenting/Family Questions

Q: How’s it going with having your daughter do school at home now that you have the first semester behind you?

Well, it’s been interesting. Ha! How’s that for a cryptic answer??? I’ve seen a HUGE change in her general level of happiness, peacefulness, contentment, agreeableness… I could go on for years. As far as her personality is concerned, she is a different child. Even the other kids mention it. It almost makes me wonder if I should have homeschooled them all for the past 17 years, but I know that wasn’t my calling, and I refuse to start second-guessing decisions that we cannot change at this point.

My other two are happy and well-adjusted in public school, and that’s going to have to be good enough for me, however, if my younger daughter ever wants to try the cyber school, I will let her. I’m not sure she’d take to it as well as her sister because she thrives on contact with others, and she works better for her teachers than she does for me, but I certainly wouldn’t discourage her if she wants to try it.

That said, working on her own has its own challenges, and we’ve had some hurdles to overcome. It took us a while to learn the computer platform, and she started out two weeks behind and never completely caught up during the first quarter. It’s hard for her to stay focused, and I do fear she is missing out on social interactions and relationships she would have if she were in a traditional school setting. I wonder if she’s absorbing the material the same way she would if she was discussing it with teachers and classmates and seeing it in action, but her grades are good, so hopefully it’s all in there somewhere. Ha!

I’m not sure what she will do next year, but it will be largely her decision.

Q: Any tips for managing stress and building strong self esteem in girls?

Honestly, I am probably the worst person to ask. I’m not always the most understanding parent. I don’t coddle. I have one with some mild anxiety issues, but all three of my kids are pretty confident all on their own. I don’t know if it is personality or parenting style or living a life of relative privilege (likely a combination of all of the above) but they’re all pretty well-adjusted kids, and I don’t feel like I can take a lot of credit for it. Not very helpful, am I? LOL!

Q: How are you handling your son driving? Are you setting any limits in the beginning (i.e. can other kids ride with him, does his cell phone have to be turned off, etc.) Just curious as I’m about to enter this phase myself!

A: Ahhhh… the driving. A parent’s worst nightmare. Not since potty training have I experienced a parenting stage as stressful as having a child driving a motor vehicle. Our limits basically revolve around how far he will go and what roads he will travel. He doesn’t do any highway driving on his own yet, and we really should spend some more time with him practicing in highly trafficked areas. I haven’t let him drive any other kids with him yet, including his sisters, and I haven’t really set limits with the cell phone, although he knows he shouldn’t use it when he’s driving, and I try not to call or text him when I know he’s driving.

Ultimately, it’s largely a matter of trust, and I have to hope he is being smart and careful, and leave it to the Lord. I guess this is just another way He keeps us on our knees!

Q: Do you like to read? If so, what do you read? 

A: I used to read ALL the time. I really regret that I’ve allows social media to crowd out my reading time, and I want to do better. I like historical fiction best.

Q: How do you stay connected to the women in your life? Mom, friends, sister, daughter, etc.

A: I am an awful connector. I am not the friend who will call or text just to check up on you. My closest friends are the ones who consistently and intentionally reach out to me. I guess they know it is nothing personal on my end, I just tend to get absorbed into whatever I’m doing at the moment and don’t think about much else. I’m blessed with a few really good friends who do keep in touch with me, and sometimes, they just walk down and drag me out of my house. Ha!

I adore my mom and we are good friends, but we don’t talk much on the phone. We text some. We are both so busy and involved in our jobs and caring for family members that we just don’t reach out much, but we enjoy being together when we’re here in Maine, and she visits us a lot.

As for my daughters, our favorite way to spend one-on-one time with each other is to go to the mall. I know, shocker!!! My younger daughter and I also like to watch TV together. We have some shows we both enjoy, but my older one is usually off by herself making music somewhere in the house. She kind of does her own thing. My son and I also have a couple of shows we watch together — Survivor is the main one these days.

Q: What do you consider your best asset?

A: Is it a copout to say my eyes? I feel like everyone says that, but I have always liked my large hazel eyes, and my long eyelashes.

I also have a new appreciation my well-balanced, hourglass body shape, which I did not know I had until my eyes were opened by the Adore Your Wardrobe course. Before that, I always focused on what I liked least about myself, and I was dressing in a way that made me look more like an apple or a carrot body type. I was shocked to discover that I’m actually pretty balanced, and now that I know better how to dress to that advantage, I feel a lot more confident.

I should add, no matter what your body type, you can learn to dress to create balance and proportion. The next Adore Your Wardrobe course starts on January 11th, and I highly recommend it.

Q: Do you have any New Year Resolutions?

A: What a perfect question to end on! I’m not really one for resolutions but I definitely want to get back to a better running schedule. I know health and wellness resolutions are cliche, but that is really the biggest thing I want to work on in 2017. A few years ago, I trained for an ran a half-marathon, and it was an amazing experience. After that, I was down with injuries for a long time (seemingly unrelated to the half-marathon, but who knows) and I’m finally back on my feet (literally! Ha!)

I don’t have any plans to run another half-marathon, but I need the motivation of a goal to train for, so I’d like to find a race, maybe a 10K, and train for it in an effort to get myself on a more regular running schedule.

I guess this is it! That was fun.

I think I hit all the questions, but if I missed yours, let me know. And feel free to leave any follow-up questions in the comments, and I’ll get to them when I can.

Have a great day! I’ll be tucked up in a recliner beside a window overlooking the lake with my kindle, reading the latest by Janet Evanovich.

Join the Conversation

42 thoughts on “End of Year Q&A: Part 2

  1. This was so nice to read, Jo-Lynne!!
    We try to eat a clean diet, but it isn’t the easiest even without kids around–ha ha! We do get Door to Door organics delivered every other week, and that’s helpful for us because once it’s in the house, I’m usually good at fixing it!!
    Enjoy your vaca!!

  2. Enjoy your vacation and your grandfather’s birthday celebration! Just wanted to mention that I didn’t receive an e-mail today with the link to your blog post. I typed in your link and got to it that way. Thought you might need to know that.

  3. This was like a really in depth Coffee Talk! I loved it! 🙂 If you’re looking for a good historical fiction book, “America’s First Daughter” was wonderful! (That’s my favorite genre as well.) Thanks for being so open and candid in your responses. Enjoy your vacation! Your recliner, book and view sounds like perfection!

  4. Thanks for your honest and open sharing of your life.

    I have a book recommendation for you: The Nightengale by Kristen Hannah . It is one of those books that “stays with you” long after you finish it; soooo good! (Takes place during WWII in France with the nazi invasion and destruction from a woman’s perspective.)

      1. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. Based on a true story about Polish girls who were experimented on in concentration camps. This is another one of those books that stays with you.

  5. I pretty much follow the same way of eating. Eggs every morning, protein with each meal, big salads and berries. I cut out most carbs (bread, potatoes, etc.) and sugar. No more sore tummy and I’ve lost weight. I wanted a healthy diet that I could maintain for life. I’m always on the look out for new recipes.
    Your vacation in Maine is probably a perfect way to relax. Enjoy!

  6. I eat a clean diet as well and I think I’ll google whole30 easy recipes too. I need some ideas and that sounds like a good place to go. I don’t eat gluten either but I sure notice when I eat too many sweets or carbs; it goes right to my belly! I’m intolerant of coconut, so that’s always a challenge with many whole food recipes.
    Thanks for sharing some of your life with us.
    I have a silly question: I know you’re an early riser, so what time do you usually go to bed?

  7. LOL. Loving the book recommendations! And the reminder to cut out the sugar and carbs. Two international work trips recently, and Christmas, have been killer on the waistline!

  8. Thanks for another lovely and personal post! I bet your parents are thrilled to have you guys there- enjoy! I also took both courses in the Adore Your Wardrobe series and I agree that it is so helpful- lots of great information and a great community of women learning what is both fashionable AND looks best on them- right now.
    Proud to be a Jo-Lynne fan!

  9. I enjoyed reading your blog. This is a new adventure for me. I am probably your Mother’s age and had gained a lot of weight after a second marriage. Lost 40 lbs. this summer and fall by cutting flour and sugar and eating pretty much what you say you eat. My question is this: What does an ‘older woman’ wear that is chic and up to date for casual days? I do not like the shabby jeans (sorry) and have not the figure yet to do justice to leggings but I like a lot of what is shown on some of your links… I teach art and would like to look good but not my Chico’s look for every day.

    1. Hey Pam! I hear ya. The shabby jeans aren’t necessary, though. Are you comfortable in skinny jeans? If not, try a straighter style. It “reads” as a skinny but doesn’t look as tight. Top them with cardigans over t-shirts or pullover sweaters. I’m working on a post with a few “outfit formulas” to use to create outfits that I hope might be helpful. 🙂

  10. Jo-Lynne, What a fantastic post! Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to get to know you better. In GA for the first six months newly licensed teens are not allowed to have anyone but family members ride with them. Since 2007, I have tried Weight Watchers and Atkins to lose weight to no avail. Earlier this year our internist said that both of us are pre-diabetic and to watch our intake of carbs and sugars. I did that for a while, but with Larry’s cancer issues, I forgot about it. Just this week, I reminded myself of wahtbthe doctor said, so, once again I am trying really hard to keep the carbs and sugar intake down. Having something different for breakfast is the most challenging for me. And on the days we have the one hour drive to make for his treatments, I don’t cook breakfast. Something has got to give so I can drop some pounds and feel better! For many years I have dealt with daily nausea, so I rely on peppermints to settle my tummy.

    Enjoy the snow and the time with your family!

  11. I use Plan to Eat for meal planning. You might find it helpful too!! http://www.plantoeat.com. It isn’t a meal planning service — it keeps your own recipes and easily downloads more from blogs/internet, including the pictures. So, it looks Pinterest-ish as you scroll through to choose your recipes for the week! There’s a planner included, so you can choose dates for your meals & snacks and see them on a calendar. The best part is that once you choose a recipe, all the ingredients appear on your shopping list!! The shopping list comes with logical categories (which I edited to match my grocery store aisles — totally optional!!) If you do decide to join, let me know if you want to be “friends” — you can pick through all the paleo, whole30, gluten-free (2 years for me), and instant pot (all gluten free!) recipes I have saved over the past couple of years!

  12. I have read with interest your posts about your daughter’s cyber school; my husband and I are both educators. My daughter, now a college sophomore, did a very cool semester school in Maine called Coastal Studies for Girls. It is a science and leadership semester school for sophomore girls. Thought you might be interested especially as you must have some connection to Maine. We loved the program; it was great for her.

      1. CSG isn’t on line. It’s actually a residential semester. It’s just an interesting alternative for girls who want something different. It’s very academic; the girls are smart and from all over the country: https://www.coastalstudiesforgirls.org/. If you are looking for something else on-line, we know someone who is running an on-line high school for elite athletes and other kids who, for whatever reason, travel too much for traditional school. It’s US Performance Academy: http://www.gouspa.org/. Also a very good program. Good luck with the home schooling – I think it’s brave of you!

        PS – Thanks for your blog; I love thinking about new outfits!

  13. Hi! Thanks SO MUCH for both of these Q&A’s, I enjoyed them so much. Thank for all the suggestions and helpful hints you gave in answering each question. And a HUGE thanks for all the links to your past posts about your running stuff in Q&A #1. I’m finally back from injury and have kinda lost my confidence to run. Your posts were SO helpful, and I loved the post on winter running because it suits my winter climate right here in Colorado, right now. Seriously, thank you!

  14. Thanks for the Q&A. I’m a 65 year old woman who has found that the only way to getting and keeping weight off and maintaining a healthy weight is with low carb. This past year I lost almost 50 pounds by dropping sugar and carbs, including potatoes, from my diet. I’ll admit the holidays were hard. I ate a couple of cookies, but paid a big price in terms of how I felt (crappy), but am back on track and feeling much better. Once you get that stuff out of your system and out of the house, you don’t miss it. I have read your blog for many years and used to look at the outfits thinking oh how I wish I could wear some of those things. Now I CAN wear many of those things, and DO! Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  15. Loved both posts – thanks for sharing. It’s really helpful to see how others deal with the various challenges we all face and the comments and suggestions from other readers are very helpful as well.
    I signed up for Adore Your Wardrobe Designer (got the discount! Woot Woot!!) and can’t wait to get started. I have a jam packed closet, keep buying new things, and end up grabbing the same outfits every week because I don’t have to think about it when I’m getting ready for work. I’m in such a rut fashionwise – really looking to break out of that and find confidence to try new looks.
    My favorite reading genre as well, along with biographies. Listen to audio books on my 40 minute commute – great way to pass that time.
    Yours is my favorite blog – thanks so much and Happy New Year to all!!

  16. Carbs and sugar are my middle names. I have got to, GOT TO get back on track next week with eating better and exercising more.
    But I really wanted to recommend a book, not bemoan my bloated carb belly. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. I listened to it via Audible (Amazon). It features three main female characters and the narration was fabulous. Historical fiction, WWII, based on the lives of several real women. EXCELLENT.

  17. I love your blog, Jo-Lynne! You have taught me so much. I live in a remote area of NC mountains and I’m so happy you taught me about Nordstrom’s free shipping and free returns! Ha, ha! Seriously, you are so sweet to open your life up to all of us. We love getting to know you better. I have a couple of book suggestions. I have loved “All the Light We Can Not See” and “The Paris Architect” this year. Both are set in WWII and very well written. Happy New Year!

  18. Thank you so much for taking the time to go into great detail on your answers. I’m going to look into the Whole 30 plan.

    You were talking about how carbs can literally be the death of a person. So many people get diagnosed with lung cancer who have never smoked . Recently, MDAnderson (Cancer hospital) discovered a direct link from eating a high carb diet (high glycemic index) to lung cancer.

    I would tell you that once your kids get older you quit worrying about them driving, but that wouldn’t be true. Mine are 32, 29, and 23. I just pray every day for God to watch over them (and the drivers around them). If I didn’t, I would drive myself crazy. Lol.

    Big hugs to you! I love your blog and I read it every day. Happy New Year!

  19. Enjoyed this!

    A book I really enjoyed and highly recommend is The Shoemaker’s Wife. Another one which is more of a biography is Maude. Check out the good reviews for both.

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