Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Choosing Wellness: Creating Healthy Habits

Knowing we needed to make changes meant we needed to create new habits. Our old habits are what got us in such bad shape. In order to create new habits we had to work to replace the old ones and this was simple, but not easy. We also had to recognize what habits needed to be replaced. Often that is the hardest part. I found that there was things I was doing that I didn't even realize I needed to change. 
This is where prayer really played a part. I needed the Lord to show me what needed to go. I was often shocked at what he showed me.  
And before you think this was all about diet & exercise, I'll tell you it wasn't. Most of my bad habits were in my thoughts, actions and time.  
I'm outlining in this blog post what the next 4 blog posts will cover. They represent 4 area's of my life I had to make changes in. 
What I drink, eat, how I move & what I think. Of all 4 of these, the last was the most important. Our thoughts play such a huge role in how we live & relate to others.
What are you thinking? My first habit to replace was disbelief that I was not worth the changes I needed to make. I also felt overwhelmed & didn't think I could stick with the changes. I didn't want to work hard only to back slide & be back where I started from. Changes made were not just to lose weight, but to be healthy overall. Physically and emotionally.

What are you drinking? This may sound silly, but this is a really big deal. I had to make a better effort to not only hydrate my body, but to hydrate it with nutritional beverages. I love Dr.Pepper & Sweet tea. Really sweet tea! When I'm at home, I drink water. But if I go anywhere... Drive thru's are my weakness. 

What are you eating?  This is the obvious habit that had to change. What I ate affected my moods, sleep and my weight. I thought this would be an easy change. I knew what I needed to eat, but choosing it wasn't easy. 

How are you moving? This is the one habit I had avoided for years.  I'm a stay at home mom. I don't sit down all day. I'm doing laundry, cooking, chasing a preschooler and wrestling with a son who has random meltdowns. I was moving, but not in the right ways.  I hate exercise. I'm allergic to it. I break out in a sweat all over every time I do it. (sarcasm inserted here) I thought this would be really hard for me. I'm not athletic at all. But, with the help of my husband, we together created new habits that have in turn made big differences in our health. More than I realized.

I found 3 R's to creating new habits. This was not intentional, just the way it happened. Then I found a blog post that described it so much better.

We knew that if any changes we made were going to be successful and long lasting it required that we create new habits that would encourage the changes we needed. And to create new habits we had to set some reminders to help us create a routine and then enjoy the rewards. It wasn't easy. It still isn't easy. I still have days when I want to drink a Dr.Pepper instead of water or herbal tea. And I still have days when I just go ahead and drink that Dr.Pepper (and often have a stomach ache later). 

Creating new habits is simple, but not easy. But very possible and you will never regret it! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Choosing Wellness: Do what you can with what you have

Excuses.  They get the best of us every time!

I was full of excuses as to why I was not making the changes I needed to make.

  • I have no time to exercise (I didn't want to)
  • We couldn't afford to buy real food. (processed food is always more expensive)
  • My juicer is in storage (yes it was until recently, but that still was no excuse)
  • I can't read my Bible or pray while Charlie is awake.
There were many more, but those were the biggest ones.  

I wanted all of my ducks to be in a row before I did anything.

I had to get over that because if I didn't I would just continue to gain weight and be depressed. My ducks would never be in a row all at the same time and if they were they wouldn't stay that like that very long.

We started making changes slowly. The first thing we had to do was throw out all the excuses. 

We looked at our diet first.  What were we eating that we could replace with something better?

That is the key! If you are removing things from your diet, make sure you replace them with something else.  I'm really good at removing things, but not replacing them. So after time, I'm craving the bad stuff.

Snacks for example. At one time, we kept a lot of chips, microwave popcorn and crackers as snacks. It was easy to pull out a bag of chips to snack on or throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave. Now, our snacks are raw fruits of veggies, nuts, popcorn popped on the stove and healthy granola & nut bars. If I can't fit the already made healthy snacks into the budget then I find something I can make.

Exercise was a no brainer. I just needed to dust off my tennis shoes and walk. No gym memberships. No trainer hired to kick my butt everyday. Just get out of the house & put my shoes to the pavement. 30 minutes a day was our goal.  Surely I could walk for 30 minutes. 

My point of all this is just to say that we had to get rid of our excuses and just do what we could with what we had. We didn't have the money to shop at the farmers market. But we could begin buying healthier food that our body actually recognized as food at our neighborhood stores.

We didn't have to go to the gym to exercise, we could do it at our house..for FREE! 

It really all boiled down to what we decided was important. Until we understood the importance of taking better care of ourselves we would not do anything. It is a process. It takes time. The benefits far out weigh any excuse we ever had. 

You know where I learned this from?  Jesus.  He takes us the way we are and helps us grow and become more like him. He doesn't have a list of what we need to do before we can become his. We don't have to have our ducks in a row. We believe. I love that!! 

Just do it!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Choosing Wellness is Choosing Life

There was a time, many years ago when our daily schedule was one that was intentional about our health. I was really careful about our food, choosing organic real food, limiting our processed food. Our lifestyle was active. Our emotions were healthy & my walk with the Lord was growing and deepening.

Then 2006 happened. Pregnant with our 10th child, we found ourselves in the midst of a terrible financial crisis. The end result was losing our house and having to move.  Our finances didn't improve and we struggled for many years. As a result I went into survival mode and our healthy lifestyle was not a priority anymore.

Things happened that had not happened in years.

  1. We all began to get sick. 
  2. I gained a ridiculous amount of weight.
  3. My emotions were really out of whack.
  4. My spiritual life declined. 
In 2011 we had to move again, this time not into our own home, but in with our parents. I went to my parents with our youngest 4 and Scott went to his parents with our oldest 4 while 2 of our girls moved in with a friend. Survival mode was not even enough at this point. At this point a healthy choice was choosing sweet tea over Dr.Pepper.

Fast forward to 2013. Scott & I knew we had to make some changes or we would be in big trouble. We knew we needed to return to the lifestyle we once made a priority.  It was about more than food. It was about our whole life. Living with his parents was not easy, but it could no longer be an excuse for not being well.

Today.  We eat a lot of raw produce. We juice every day again. We walk at least 30 minutes 6 days a week (about 2 miles). We rarely eat out, especially fast food. We have reduced our sugar intake drastically. We have reduced the "white" foods we eat (white rice, bread, sugar, flour). We take essential oil based supplements and we use our essential oils to support our health and maintain the wellness we have worked so hard to achieve.  We have not arrived by any means. We still have a long way to go!

The result. Scott & I have both lost a considerable amount of weight. Our energy levels are high. My emotions are much more even and my hormones are happy for the first time in years. 

We made the decision to do this in 2013, but it has taken 2 years to finally make enough changes to really see a difference. Our changes were slow. We worked to replace foods, not just remove them.  We are diligent to make time to be active, to get our 30 minutes of walking or working out into our day. That is not easy! 

I had stopped blogging because I just didn't feel that I had much to say anymore. But the Lord has really helped me to see that living is more than just reading our Bible and prayer. That is critical. That is most important. But if we ignore the physical body he has given us we are truly missing out on the life he really wants us to live.  Not only does he desire that our spiritual life be healthy, but that our emotional and physical life as well to be healthy. And I think he wants me to share this part of our journey with you. It's not pretty. I still fail...many days. I still love Dr.Pepper. But, the Lord is really working on me. He is helping me to stay true to my convictions and choose wisely.

Choosing overall good health has really convicted me lately. Neglecting my physical health is just as bad as neglecting my spiritual health. According to 1 Corinthians 6 my body is not my own, it belongs to God. My body is a gift! We should honor God with our body.  It is the only one he gives us!

I'm working to create a series of simple blog posts that better explain what we have been doing and how anybody can do the same. Scott and I are not health experts by any means. We are not certified in nutrition. We are simply working to make better choices in all area's of our life.  These blog posts will not all be on nutrition. There is more to life than food. But, more on that later.

Stay tuned. More is on it's way!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Product Review: Spectrum Workbooks

I was contacted by a rep of the Carson-Dellosa Publishing group & asked to review some of the Spectrum workbooks. I was already familiar with these workbooks because we have used a few of them in the past but it has been many years and I knew they had been updated, so I said "sure thing".

I received the books sooner than I thought and we quickly dug into them. My kids appreciated doing something different for a little while.  

These books make for a great supplement to what you are already doing. As a homeschooler we often see holes in what our kids are learning & these workbooks can help fill some of those holes and provide extra practice. I also found these books to be great for when I am working and need them to be busy doing something. They kept them busy & were also improving skills. Win-win!

For Sam I had a Phonics 1st grade workbook. It was simple, colorful, but not too busy. I like that because with his ADHD, he is easily distracted so I usually use black & white worksheets for him. But the pages were simple & clean so he didn't seem to have a problem and he enjoyed the work. The pages were not overwhelming which is important also for him. If he looks at it and thinks he can't do it then we get no where. For those still struggling with phonics, this is a great way to supplement the phonics lessons you already have going. When you work on learning the short /a/ sound you have several pages to reinforce what you just taught.

For Gracie, I had several books. Writing, Spelling, and Vocabulary. She loves writing, so I got that one to see if it would help her or if it was boring. She is horrible at Spelling so I wanted to see if she improved in her spelling better than what we were already using. Vocabulary is not an area of weakness for her so I wanted to see how easy it was for her.

She enjoyed the Writing workbook. The activities were fun & she enjoyed the writing assignments in it. Did she improve her writing skills? I'm not completely sure yet as we haven't used the books long enough for me to tell. But she was writing something everyday and enjoyed it, so that is a plus for me. But once again, I would only use these as a supplement to the main writing program, but it makes for some good practice.

Gracie also used the Vocabulary book.  I felt that this was a little too easy for her. The level of words were not challenging enough for her. In the back of the book is a section on test taking. We haven't tried any of that, but we might. In Texas, our kids do not have to do standardized testing so often they don't learn those skills. Personally, when I am sitting next to my child as they are learning something new I don't find it necessary to give them a test. I already know if they have mastered the concept or not.  But, when they get to High School it is a different story.

The last book Gracie used was Spelling. She isn't a good speller so I wanted to see if this helped improve that. Like I said earlier we haven't used them very long so I can't really say yet, but I do like the way the lessons are set up. One lesson a week, 4 pages per lesson, the same list of words are focused on so she got decent practice on the words. I also like that she didn't just learn to spell them, but she had to know how to use them & what they meant. Who cares if you know how to spell precarious if you don't know what it means or how to use the word.
Zach used the Science book. He didn't like it, mainly because we do not follow the Big Bang or Evolution theories and that is what was in the lessons.  He just couldn't get past that. The format was simple though. Read the passage & answer the questions. It was simple & not too in-depth if you are looking for extra Science work.  But like I said, the evolution idea's really were a problem for him and so he only did a couple of the lessons.

In conclusion, I would use these workbooks to help supplement. I like the way they are set up. They are easy to use, answers are in the back (you may want to pull those out if your child has a tendency to peek) & I can just hand them to them & let them work through them. Rarely did I need to explain how to do the lesson. They were able to work independently, which as a working at home mom that is really helpful.
Click to visit their website

Check out their website to see all the grades & subjects they offer.  They have a great variety of resources & teaching aids that are helpful to not just homeschool moms, but public school moms who just want to add a little extra learning at home.