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.