Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cutting Off Laziness at the Knees

I hear the following phrase all.the.time. "I don't have time to (fill in the blank)". I hear it a lot coming out of my own mouth, too.

Funny, everyone gets the exact same 24 hours in a day but some accomplish so much and some accomplish nothing. I am embarrassed to say that I have fallen into that second category on more than one (million) occasion.

When I first became a mom, I believed the hype that I could have it all. I had a job I loved and was extremely good at, I had just gotten married and became a mom to 3 great kids and we built our first home. Yeah, I was living the dream. So we ate out a lot. I mean how could I spend all day at work (usually at least 10 hours) and come home and cook something. It was just easier to go out. As time went on, we all gained weight and any time off from work was spent in front of the tv. At least we were all together, right?

Over the years, we added twins to the family and moved to Georgia. Prime farm country. Our kids were gonna spend all day outside taking care of the farm and being farm kids. Or maybe not. I was still working and we were still eating out a lot. Hubby and I had packed on more pounds than we cared to say. Still, nothing changed.

I am not sure what the catalyst for major change was but I started to think that I was letting my family down by not doing my job. Not the one I got paid for but the one that should have been more important, the one that should have taken priority. Hubby and I started looking at where we were and where we wanted to be and they were no where close to each other. We knew something had to change. God slammed put it on my heart to quit my job and stay home. I argued with Him. How in the world could I afford to stay home? We had bills... lots of them. I liked my job. What would I do with myself if I was home all day? Arguing with God is truly pointless (yet we still do it). I "retired" from my job and became a full time stay at home mom. Things were tight. Very tight. But we managed. The twins were still in private school at the time so my days were spent doing things that I shouldn't have been doing, like watching soap operas and channel surfing. I wasn't really accomplishing much even though I now had "time". Then God shoved pushed me to home school our kids. I know for a fact that idea came from Him because I hated it. At first. Then I thought and prayed about it and we did it.

Now my days were full again but I felt something was missing. It was about this time when I started to fell like I should be doing something more for my family. I took good care of them but there is ALWAYS room for improvement. I felt like God was telling me something and I just wasn't listening. I still can't remember if it was a single incident or a series of them that got me to look at our eating habits. I was disgusted by what I saw. I started to do some research on the subject of nutrition. If you want a study in contradictions, then study nutrition. One "expert" will say to eat this for health. Then another "expert" will say the opposite. This happened over and over and over. I was becoming frustrated that I couldn't find the information that I needed. However, certain things were made very clear to me. One was quit looking to the doctors for health. Now, before I get raked over the coals for that, let me state that I have the utmost respect for doctors, nurses and so forth. They have saved countless lives, including those of my twins. BUT medical schools teach our doctors to treat symptoms. Treating symptoms does not cure the problem. So I fault the medical schools for this. That being said, if you go to the doctor with a complaint, chances are you will walk away with a prescription for something but no real knowledge of the cause of your problem.

So if I am going to ignore the experts, what do I do now? Then it hit me. I have always said that the Bible was God's instruction manual for us. Maybe that is where I will find my answers. "Seek and ye shall find"! There is not one mention of artificial sweeteners, pasturized homogenized milk or high fructose corn syrup in the Bible. Hmmm, maybe if God didn't mention it, I shouldn't eat it? Yes, that is a simplistic view but think about it. God designed our bodies to work in a certain way with what he provided. What happens when you put diesel in a gas motor? Lots of problems! (and no I haven't done that!)I think the same thing happens when you put something unnatural in your body.

So all of this being said, it still took a bit of effort to pull me out of my processed food comfort zone. I can cook. I am a pretty good cook if I do say so myself. But I had gotten so lazy with meals from a box that I almost forgot HOW to cook a real meal from scratch. Cooking from scratch is going to look different to everyone. For me, there are no more "boxes" in my pantry. They have been replaced with spices, flour, home canned (and some store bought cans) of goods like tomatoes and tuna, a freezer full of pastured chicken, grass fed beef, venison from hubby's hunting and some wild hogs.
There are no boxes of Kraft anything in my pantry. No hamburger helper. If I want mac and cheese, I make it myself with noodles, cheese, milk and so on. It took a little surfing the web to find out how to make some of our favorites from scratch but now that I do, I no longer have to buy it at the store. And I no longer have to wonder what is in them!
Some of my homemade from now on things are:
BBQ sauce
Salad dressings
Bread-sandwich, french, hot dog & hamburger buns, crescent and dinner rolls and the best buttermilk biscuits.
Laundry Detergent, fabric softener and non toxic bleach
All cleaning products-seriously they are so easy to make and so much better for your house!

Those are a few of my everyday kind of things that I make myself. Your list may look very different.
I still have so many things that I want to add to that list like homemade shampoo/conditioner, shaving cream, soap and toothpaste but all of this needs to be done in baby steps. If you jump in and try to do everything all at once, you will quickly burn out and miss the benefits of being more self reliant. Pick one thing and stick with it. Perfect it as much as possible and give it time to become part of your normal routine. Once it is second nature, pick something else to try. Before you know it, you will be bypassing many aisles at the grocery store. That is a GOOD thing!

I still have my days (sometimes weeks) of not doing a great job at keeping the pantry stocked. Right now I am out of bread and a wee bit lazy about making more but I will do it because I now cannot stand the taste of grocery store bread anymore. I have to make the commitment to my family to do my best at doing what it takes to keep us all as healthy as possible. I have embraced my calling as a mom and wife and God gives me such grace to hold my ground and push forward because I know my family is counting on me. I have come to the realization that minor discomfort for me is worth it if it is in the best interest of my family!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Healthy to Crappy in a Few Short Generations

Have you ever stopped to think what an amazing miracle our bodies are? Well, not our bodies now but our bodies back when Adam was first formed? The "first family" (and generations that followed) didn't have a doctor on every corner to get a fast fix from sickness. There was no CVS to pop into to pick up advil or tums. Early man had only God's great design and whatever he could grow to keep him healthy and vital.

Fast forward to the present day. More than half of the US population is overweight or obese. Disease strikes people younger and younger with each generation. Despite the medical advances, we are still a very sick people. We have yet to cure one thing without triggering something else.

What has happened? What changed?

The answer is easy yet complicated. Early man grew and/or raised everything that he consumed. He worked from sun up to sun down just to make sure the race survived. Everything that was eaten was done so in the manner that God gave it, meaning no additives, preservatives, etc. The air was clean. A deep breath back then filled your lungs with fresh, clean air. A deep breath in today's world fills your lungs with chemical residues, off gassing, carcinogens and pathogens.

In "the old days" man ate butter, salt and red meat. AND he had no heart disease. How did that happen??? It happened because God designed our bodies to thrive on those things and many others. Then along comes a doctor that says all that is bad and convinced us to trade in our good wholesome food for margarine, salt substitute and tofu. And heart disease skyrocketed. Say what???? We eat like the good doctor says and we get more unhealthy?
Did anyone ever stop to think that the "good doctor" was an idiot?

He wasn't the only problem. After WWII, the American people were looking for convenience. They had just come through a difficult time and they wanted "easy". Can't blame them though. Food shortages and rationing had taken their toll. Along comes the grocery store. Now, there have been general stores, country stores, what have you for many, many years but they carried staples; flour, sugar, coffee, fabric for clothes. No frozen pizza or ice cream. Mama was at home, making all the food for her family from scratch. When she ran out of bread, she didn't run to the store. She ran to her pantry and made some. She kept her family fed by gardening and farming animals.

Fast forward to today. The number one killer of our people isn't heart disease. Heart disease is a symptom of a bigger problem. Our number one killer today is processed and commercial food. And I use the term "food" very lightly. Kids today are raised on frozen chicken nuggets, nuclear orange macaroni and cheese and soda instead of eggs from the family chicken, meat from the family pig and milk from the family cow. There are children from families that are able to provide food that rarely eat fruits or vegetables. They drink soda and sports drinks instead of good old milk and water. They sit in the house and play video games instead of playing outside and doing chores. They are getting fatter and more unhealthy ALL THE TIME! Is it their fault. Nope.

The blame falls squarely on the parents. From their bad examples to their bad choices. Now, before anyone thinks that I am perfect and therefore I am speaking about everyone else, let me assure you that I am just as guilty as the next mama. I have taken my kids through a drive-thru more times than I can count. I have bought soda for my family and unfortunately still do at times. I have fed my family enough processed food to sustain a third world country  (as if processed food could sustain anything but you get what I am saying). I am guilty, my friends, of taking the easy way out way too many times. My family has paid the price for my laziness. I have set such a bad example for my kids by eating too much sugar and not being very active. I have sinned. But just as God forgives me, I have to forgive myself and learn from the really dumb things I do. Most importantly, I have to not repeat those really dumb things!

I have learned that my kids pay much more attention to what I do than to what I say. That is probably true of most children. I can say "eat your veggies" but if I am not doing it, how can I expect them to? I can tell them to drink water but if I do it with a soda in my hand, what does that tell them? If I tell them to go play outside but I am sitting in the living room glued to the tv, how can I expect them to make the right choice?

Parenting is hard work. Not only are you molding tiny humans into big humans but you are (hopefully)making yourself a better human in the process. I know that I have to take my health and that of my family very seriously. I have to make the right (and difficult) choices concerning the food I feed them and where it comes from. I cannot be lazy and feed them processed food because it is easier on me. They are too important to me and are way more important than my own ease and comfort.

Over the next few weeks or so, I will be sharing posts on what our family is doing to improve our health and decrease any residual laziness...yes that one is hard!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Disney...Without the Kids!

This week my precious babies have been on choir tour with the youth group from our church. They went to St. Louis, Mo. which is the farthest away from home they have ever been. It has been an adjustment for me. I can tell you right now, without a doubt, I am NOT ready for the empty nest!!!

The day after they left, my husband got a call from his home office in central Florida. They needed him to come down for an important meeting so he suggested I go with him and we stay at Disney. Girlfriend is NOT about to pass up a trip to Disney! Even if it is only for a couple of days. Since we are members of the Disney Vacation Club, we can pretty much stay when we want and not have to shell out any cash for our room. You can read more about this awesome deal here.

So here we are, kidless and on our way to Disney!!! When I told the kids we were going they were NOT very happy with me. However, their affections could be bought as long as I brought them back something! It also helps that we have a family trip to Disney already scheduled for September:) And the fact that they were several states away at the time!

We arrived very late on Tuesday, got checked in and made it to the room. The next morning, we had breakfast and hubby left to go to his meeting. My day was wide open because I knew I would be alone for most of it. So I decided to go to Downtown Disney and get my "forgive me" gifts purchased. For the past 13 years, I have never been to Downtown Disney by myself. I have always been accompanied by hubby, the kids, or my parents. Sometimes, I had ALL of them! So here I am, with the entire day to myself. I could walk past the candy shop that the kids always want to go into. I could pass right on by the toy shops. I actually walked into a clothing boutique that my husband and son would have rolled their eyes at if they had been there. Then I went in another. I was really getting the hang of it. I walked through Arribas Brothers which is a blown glass store. We NEVER take the kids through there because, well, lots of breakables! I smiled as I walked PAST the Lego store. I got to eat at a little stand that didn't have animatronic animals, a jungle or dinosaurs. Don't get me wrong, Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex are 2 of our favorites but they are no fun with just me. So I got a pretzel at Wetzel Pretzel and sat on a bench looking out at the water. Other than the wayward rain drops, it was perfect. I shopped a little more, bought a few things and then headed back to the room to wait for hubs.

Once he got back, we decided to eat at the resort. We could go a little "fancy" because it was just the 2 of us. We ate at the Turf Club and WOW!!! It was fantastic. We sat at a table for 2 next to a glass wall that looked out into the garden areas. If there is one thing Disney does exceptionally well is having beautiful landscapes. We got to eat "grown up" food. The lamb chops were insanely delicious! I even had a grown up drink. For those of you that know me, you know I very rarely drink. The main reason is that it only takes a very small amount of alcohol to make me stupid. Then sleepy. So drinking isn't something I do very often. However, I decided to have a Magical Cocktail. Boy, I don't know what was in it but is was sooooo tasty. And it came with a color changing glow cube in it so I was still able to "enhance" my goofy self.

Without kids there, hubby and I got to actually talk to each other about, you know, important stuff. Our future, our plans. Moms and dads need to get out once in awhile and be husband and wife, even if it is only for a few hours. It will make a world of difference in your relationship!

After that marvelous dinner, we went back to the room to just relax before we headed back home the next morning.

A short little trip that revived and refreshed us. There was no time and really no need to go to any of the parks. We'll save that for when the kids go but it was so nice to get away just the two of us, in a place we love that holds sooo many dear memories for our family.

We were on such a high that driving home through a tropical storm that dumped rain on us the ENTIRE way home couldn't ruin our mood.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Grocery Store is Making Me Unhealthy

One of the biggest discoveries I have made on this journey to good health is that the grocery store is NOT my friend! Sure, that's where all the food is. Or is it? Ever look at the ingredients list on some of the things you buy regularly? I must warn you; you will be shocked. Or maybe you won't. Maybe you already know that if you can't pronounce it, you shouldn't eat it. If you do, you rock!!!

One of the first "lessons" I learned is that healthy food does not come from a manufacturer. It usually doesn't come in a box and it CERTAINLY does NOT have a long ingredients list!

I love bread. All kinds of bread. It's good. It's mentioned a bunch in the Bible so that is proof positive that bread is good. Unless it comes from the store. Then, not so good. Come on Tracy, bread is necessary for sopping up egg yolks and making sandwiches! I hear ya! But look at the list of what is in the bread at the store the next time you throw a loaf in your buggy. This is what is in my bread that I make at home-flour, real salt, yeast, water, honey and an egg. No additives, no preservatives. I can pronounce AND SPELL everything in it. Sure, my bread cannot sit on my counter for weeks (or months)without getting a bit of mold on it or getting stale like store bread. And sure, it takes a bit more time to make bread rather than buy it. But the benefits are huge! First, I know exactly what is in my bread. I can alter the ingredients to suit my family's tastes. I get a work out when I make it by hand (instead of in the mixer) and I have learned how to do something for myself instead of needing a company to supply me.

Now I hear all the " I don't have time to do that. I work" So do I, but my work is from home so that is a benefit for me. However, bread making does NOT take a lot of hands on time. Pick a day where you will be home for around 3 hours. Make a few loaves of bread and stick them in the freezer until needed. While you are waiting for the bread to rise, clean or wash dishes or play with the kids. Walk the dog, take a power nap. Anything. Bread making involves about 15 minutes hands on time. The rising times are about 2 hours total and bake times anywhere from 20-40 minutes. That's it. A little bit of work and you will be rewarded with the best tasting, freshest, healthiest bread. Later I will be posting my favorite sandwich bread recipe but for now, enjoy this French Bread recipe. It makes a quick 2 loaves of very tasty bread that is perfect for toasting, making french toast or garlic bread.

Now that you know that grocery store food is no bueno, start learning how to make things yourself. You will never regret learning a new skill and your body will thank you.