Friday, May 24, 2013

Grant the Great

The past couple weeks have had the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  Within a two-day span four friends announced news of a new baby on the way.  Delight!  Another friend proposed to his perfect mate in the most romantic way (you can see his awesome video of it here).  And we made a last minute decision to book tickets to CA to visit my family next week (instead of later in the summer).  So much to be excited about and look forward to.

Then there was this past week....heart shattering with the loss of our dear friends' 6-year old son Grant and the devastating situation in Oklahoma.  I just came back from Grant's wake and funeral mass on the east coast and my mind is just reeling.  His death rocked us to the core (I'll share more about how this impacted our own family in a later post).  And every time I start crying in the grocery store because I'm overcome by his loss, my mind goes straight to his parents Joe and Bridget and his siblings, whose sense of loss is magnified by the thousands. 

And God.  God who weeps with us and feels every stabbing pain that splinters our heart is there in the midst of both.  An artist knitting in a life-filled womb, and building hope into a lifetime of together, he receives our thanks, and praise, and pleas for all is well as we bask in the highs.  And He is there in the darkest hour too, turning all is lost into the opportunity for something new.

For all of you that have and continue to pray for Grant and his family (and ours), we thank you and wanted to share a bit about him from the funeral.  The Priest knew the family well and his words at the mass were a beautiful tribute to him.  He described Grant as many Artist, a Theologian, a Defense Attorney, an Olympian, and many others.

I won't share the whole letter from the family about who their son was, but here are some bits and pieces about "Grant the Great"...

"He was a sweet, sensitive little boy with a heart for serving and sharing  It gave him great joy to divide his candy equally among eager siblings, to offer dessert to a sibling who had lost his, to give money to the poor, to give away a prized possession saying "I want you to have this".  He was given a gift for compassion and would advocate for amnesty even for a sibling who had wronged him.

He loved being from a big family. He wanted to be home and home was wherever the family was.  He loved cuddling on the couch and surprising us with acts of service.  He was the first to say, "Thank you for this great meal, "Thank you for taking us here", "Thank you for the work you do, Dad".  He loved playing sports with his brothers, wrestling, playing board games, collecting bugs, and jumping from the stairs into his Dad's arms.  He had a special place in his heart for his baby brother Luke and was always delighted to hold him.  He had a special love for animals, and was so sad to see others suffer.  He accepted apologies quickly, responding with forgiveness, a hug and an eagerness to get back to playing together.

Looking back, in many ways, the Holy Spirit was preparing us that the soul entrusted to us 6 1/2 years ago would be returning home to his Creator.  In the past 3 months, we were blessed with more carefree timelessness as a family than we have had in years.  We read Little Pilgrim's Progress together this past month, a story about children on their journey to heaven.  Grant couldn't wait and read the whole book himself.  He was so excited to read the final chapters this past week, with the children arriving in the Celestial City.  Grant said that this life was just "God's hotel", a stopping place on our way Home.  When his sister asked him this past week where he would go if he could go anywhere, he enthusiastically said, "Heaven."  When Holly asked again where he would go on this earth, he persisted in his same response, "Heaven.".  We were all able to hug and kiss Grant and tell him we loved him during the Sign of Peace at Mass two hours before his accident.

He would have been so grateful to the scores of medical personnel who gave all they had trying to save him, to those who let his mother fly on the helicopter with her dying son, for the priest who was there in minutes to administer Last Rites, to Fr Rathan, who spent hours with our family during the longest 36 hours of our lives, saying Mass at Grant's bedside twice, administering his 1st Holy Communion and Confirmation, taking the name of his favorite saint, Padre Pio.  He would have been grateful to each one of you, for the support, love, faith, and hope you surround us with and the mercies that are new each morning that remind us of God's love and presence."

As Bridget spoke at her son's funeral, she described the difficult conversation they had with their children the night Grant passed away.  Grant's story had quickly spread all over the internet and there were thousands of people all over the globe praying for his recovery.  Praying for a miracle.

The kids asked with so many people praying for Grant how could he not be healed.  In that moment the Holy Spirit gave them the analogy of Grant's life being like a little tea light that's is now a grand chandelier....

"His little tea light on earth touched many.  In his dying and death, he brought us all to our knees because it was the only place to go.  He was surrounded with thousands of prayers from family, friends, and strangers that transformed his little tea light on earth into a chandelier in heaven that is touching so many more."

The priest who was with the family at the hospital described this scene at the time when Grant's condition and his future were completely uncertain.  Joe (Grant's dad) came into the hospital room and said, "Well, there are three possibilities. The first is that there's a miracle and our son rises from this which case we'll give praise and glory to God.  The second is that Grant lives but will forever be which case we'll give praise and glory to God.  And the third is that God takes Grant which case we'll give praise and glory to God."

And so we do.  We thank you God, for taking Grant.  We thank you that he did not have to suffer through the rest of his life here on earth, and for all the ways his precious life continues to touch those near and far.

Rest in peace, sweet Grant.  You are home at last.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

One Special Boy

Happy Pentecost, Friends! 

First, a huge thanks to all of you that have been praying for Grant and his family.  Earlier this week Grant was playing in a field with some other kids when a horse was spooked and kicked Grant in the throat.  He was without air for some time and although they were able to revive a heartbeat, he remained in critical condition with brain activity unknown. 

On Friday night Grant went to be with the Lord, passing peacefully and without pain.  We are overwhelmed by the loss of this precious child, and for the pain and loss our dear friends are experiencing.  Yet, we are also inspired by their faith, hope and joy in the midst of such tragedy.  We chose pretty amazing Godparents for our own two boys. 

I was also this special family's nanny when Grant was a baby and am grateful to be able to attend the funeral Mass/services this week while James mans the fort here with the kids.

We truly appreciate you keeping this family in your prayers as they mourn, grieve, and celebrate their son's life.  
This picture is actually from last spring but here's the Thill Family.  From left to right....Back row - Joe (dad), Holly, Autumn, baby Luke & Bridget.  Front row -  Ryan, Grant, & Troy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Request

I'm going to hold off on my 7QT post for today and ask instead for your prayers. The 6 year old little boy on that stretcher is Grant.  I was his nanny when he was a baby and his parents are Sully and Jack's Godparents. 

Grant and some other children were playing in a field on a farm while the family was on vacation.  A nearby horse got spooked and kicked Grant in the throat.  They've assessed that his trachea was broken and he is in critical condition.  He was without oxygen for a significant amount of time and although they were able to revive a heartbeat, brain function is unknown.  If you would keep this sweet boy, his other 5 siblings and his dear parents in your thoughts and prayers we would greatly appreciate it. Their faith is strong, hope secure, but hearts very fragile.  

We created a Facebook page for the blog and will share any updates there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Mother's Day Edition!

Prepare yourself.  Some seriously underwhelming Mommy's Day attire is ahead.  But for good reason!  This year our parish started an American Heritage Girls troop.  It's very similar to Girl Scouts, but is Christ-centered in every aspect.  They are a "...non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country." And we have loved every minute!

Mia is part of the youngest unit, The Pathfinders.  And I am their fearless leader.  I seriously lucked out with the sweetest group of 5 year old girls and we've had a blast.  We got a late start and had our fair share of first year hiccups, but we were still able to work in flag etiquette, meteorology, first-aid, cake decorating, a few community service activities, religious badges and finish the work for our unit level award.  We had a lot of fun and are looking forward to the crossing over ceremony later this month where my girls will officially become Tenderhearts! 

Now this is a What I Wore post, so without further adieu, here we are in our red, white and blue AHG gear, looking a little more like the 4th of July than Mother's Day.  I don't think there was a single good shot.  Here's how it went down...

Too silly and squirmy to look at the camera..

Then Mia decided smiling was for the birds...

We tried to cheer her up

And then decided to just forget pose - go!

Nothing says “Happy Mother’s Day” like a polo and khakis.   If these pictures weren’t outside, you might think it was “Visit Your Favorite Target Employee Day”.  In fact, Mia and I made a trip to Target later that afternoon and I spared myself from being asked where to find____ and changed before we left.  For anyone looking for a decent basic polo and khakis and or ready to start their new Tarjay career, both these are from Old Navy.  

Linking up with folks at Fine Linen & Purple where I'm sure the Mother's Day finery is much finer than I.

Happy Day to all the Mama's!

Friday, May 10, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday: Teeth, Magazines, Thrift Finds, and Food

Joining Jen and the gang for another week of 7 Quick Takes.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 216)

1.  We're 10 days into our 30 days of better eating.  We're following the Perfect Health Diet and while we're still learning and figuring out meals, this week I have felt a huge improvement in my overall energy level.  The first week I felt like crap. But now that the sugar cravings have faded, I'm feeling so much better.

2.  This Lazy Sunday Casserole was by far our favorite meal of the week.  So hearty, so tasty, and just straight up farm-to-table goodness.  The only thing I added to the recipe was a bit of red wine with the balsamic vinegar.
Lazy Sunday Casserole

3.  Does anyone else's calendar feel like it's going to explode?  Must be end of the school year stuff, but I'm barely keeping my head above water here.  I actually blocked off next week for spring cleaning...things were popping up on the calendar so fast and the house is a wreck.  It's giving me an anxious twitch, so I blocked off time to clean.  And already two other things have wormed their way into my cleaning week.  Pretty sure that's the end of that.

4.  I went thrift shopping with my bloggy friend Sharon and stumbled upon these beauties.  

Not sure exactly what they are....I think they were giant sconces, but they're glass and fun and I'm thinking they would make some pretty fine lamp bases.  But I have no idea how to do it.  I will be Googling later...

5.   The other day I had to take a second look at our "5" pillow.  Looks like a certain 3 year old was getting in a little number tracing practice.

I'm just bursting with Mommy pride over here.  Really. I am. 

6.  A very excited little girl finally lost her first tooth!  She was bouncing off the walls and couldn't wait to share the news with her teachers and friends at school the next day.  
It took a bit of work to get it out, but she was one brave cookie and had a very patient Daddy working the noose he engineered out of dental floss.  I was skeptical but just look at that gap :)

We finished an easy-sew Tooth Fairy Pillow just in time!
Tooth Fairy Pillow by Fresh Coat Of Paint

7.   So this week the June issue of This Old House magazine hits news stands and guess whose breakfast nook is on p. 38....

Crazytown!!!!!   Seriously, this is just beyond anything I ever imagined would come of our Fresh Coat Of Paint blog.  It all came about from the Young House Love feature back in January.  I'm so grateful and humbled and walking around with a goofy perma-grin on my face. 

And Jack just busted into the office announcing the end of his nap with, "It's Jackie!!!"  So that's all she wrote.  Have a great weekend and a wonderful Mother's Day to all you mama's!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Perfect Health Diet Weekly Menu - Take One

Ok, so the first week of our PHD was a little....strained.  We still have "off-limits" foods in the house from our latest Costco run that we didn't want to just dump.  We're still using it for the kids' meals.  My grand scheme was to do this as a family, but I think we'll have to transition the kids over a little more slowly.  It's mind games really.  I gave them a paleo "cookie" tonight that consisted mostly of almond flour and mashed banana. They saw the dark chocolate chips in them and were all about it.  Even though the texture was really odd.  And I snuck some flax seeds undetected into their smoothies this morning...and they drank them.  So, we'll get there!

The other issue that caused some tension was my total  lack of meal planning....remember when I wrote that post all about how we were going to set ourselves up for success?   The one that centered on planning?  Yeah.  I didn't do that.  It was a nice week, so I figured we would grill for dinner and made sure there were plenty of veggies in the fridge to go along with whatever we seared.  Nice in theory but still not a very good plan.  I didn't really cook and James and I just sort of came up with whatever was easy.  We felt like we were dieting and missed that comfort and satisfaction of eating a home-cooked meal.

So this weekend, I did.  I planned a Perfect Health Diet friendly dinner menu for the week that will hopefully give us enough leftovers for lunches too.  Here's the line-up:

Monday: Farm-To-Table Stew

I think Kayotic Kitchen actually calls it "Lazy Sunday Casserole" and it is delicious.  It completely hit the spot.  Hearty, wholesome and full of flavor.  I followed the recipe almost to the letter, just adding a splash of red wine along with the balsamic vinegar.
Lazy Sunday Casserole

Tuesday: Better Than Take-out Chicken Fried Rice

This is a recipe I pinned ages ago and have yet to actually attempt. Rachel recommends the Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken in it, which I think I'll try.  The chicken recipe does call for sugar, so I'll have to either come up with a substitute or just omit it altogether.  I'll let you know how it goes!
 better-than-takeout chicken fried rice. homemade! no yucky msg. and its easy

Wednesday: Hamburger Vegetable Soup

I'm anxious to try this Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe from Money Saving Mom.  The picture totally sold me.

Thursday: Turkey Meatballs & Brussel Sprouts

I've seen a few turkey meatball recipes floating around Pinterest, but think I'll try this one.  I'm thinking maybe almond flour/meal or coconut flour as a binder?  It's the PHD test kitchen here folks....

And I think we'll whip up these sprouts to go with them.  Minus the brown sugar.

Friday: Orange Chicken, Broccoli, & Steamed Rice

This is a favorite of ours and I think it's originally from   It super easy and always tasty.  I'll have to tweak the recipe a bit and will share it with you if I can make it edible and still PHD friendly.

Here's to a better week!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Paleo vs. Perfect Health Diet

Yesterday, I announced to the virtual world that I was committing to 30 days of better eating through May.  Because internet proclamations mean you'll actually do them, right?  And to prove to anyone that may overhear myhusband ranting about how I’m trying to kill him with “Paleo May”, that I am infact, looking out for his best interests too.

In the post I mentioned that I was motivated by Carmel and Jessica's experiences with Paleo eating, which may have lead you to believethat we were also going to follow that diet. Close.  We’ll actually befollowing the Perfect Health Diet, which is a version of Paleo with a few morefood allowances. 

The Breakdown

Paleo –  The Paleo diet (also known as the Caveman diet) is basically about eating the way our Paleolithic ancestors did.  Eating good whole unprocessed food - meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts - that they could hunt or gather. This is a thorough explanation of the paleo food template.   The simple man's version is this:

-No gluten
-No grains
-No dairy
-No lugumes
-No processed food

Perfect Health Diet - very similar to the Paleo outline above, but allows for some full fat dairy products (no non-fat or low-fat), white rice, and potatoes.

Here's a short description from Mandi (another blogger who has adapted the Perfect Health Diet template for her family):

"The Perfect Health Diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb, no sugar diet.   If you've heard of primal/paleo diets, it's quite similar with the addition of a few select carbohydrates (white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes) and dairy (milk isn't suggested, but sour cream, cheese, etc. is)... The idea behind the Perfect Health Diet is that early humans ate this way for much longer than humans have eaten "modern" diets which include cultivated crops, so our bodies haven't had time to adapt to these dietary newcomers."

This is the food plate from the The Perfect Health Diet webpage.  It details what you can/can't eat and how much in relationship to each food group.  It's going up on our fridge.


About the authors
" Suffering from chronic illness and unable to get satisfactory results from doctors, husband and wife scientists Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet took an intensely personal interest in health and nutrition. They embarked on five years of rigorous research. What they found changed their lives— and the lives of thousands of their readers.

In Perfect Health Diet, the Jaminets explain in layman’s terms how anyone can regain health and lose weight by optimizing nutrition, detoxifying the diet, and supporting healthy immune function. They show how toxic, nutrient-poor diets sabotage health, and how on a healthy diet, diseases often spontaneously resolve.  Perfect Health Diet tells you exactly how to optimize health and make weight loss effortless with a clear, balanced, and scientifically proven plan to change the way you eat—and feel—forever!"

My limited knowledge of both these diets has been mostly through scouring their websites and blog stalking those who have successfully transitioned their households over to this way of eating.  I’m waiting for my books to arrive viaAmazon, so this is very much a learn as we go process.  As I understand more and see how my body responds, I promise to share the details!  

Why we chose it
Over the past year we have been making small changes to our diet in aneffort to eat better.  More whole foods,less processed, limited sugar, etc.  James’ Lentencommitment this past year was to focus on a healthy lifestyle.  So, we got in the habit of no carbs atdinner, and I tried to limit any sugar intake to no more than 5g per any packaged products.

Awhile back, I saw Bob Harper's Skinny Rules on Pinterest. 
 Bob Harper's "The Skinny Rules"  Damnit, Bob. Stop being right…

While I'm not crazy about the title, I chose a few tofocus on….
#1 - Water before and during meals - helped me to avoid overeating and helps the digestive process
#7 - No carbs after lunch - when you have less opportunity to burn them off
#14 - Eat a real breakfast - my coffee alone wasn't cutting it
#18 - Go to bed hungry - which directly relates to how late I stay up.  If I go to bed on time, I'm not hungry, but if I stay up later than I should, I eventually get hungry again....and I'm usually not grabbing for a handful of kale at that hour.

This may sound dumb but we also tried to simply eat slower.  James and I both came from the Marine Corps, where we had the art of consuming a meal in under 5 min down to a science. Then we went into parents of young children mode where if you wanted to finish your meal, you had to eat fast.  Going slowly allows you to chew your food better (saving your stomach some work on breaking all that down) and it gives your brain a chance to tell your stomach, "hey, you're hitting overload". 

These changes have absolutely helped us head in a better direction, but we still lacked an understanding of what certain foods do to our bodies.  And really, there are so many differing opinions on food....whole grains are good!  No wait, all grains are bad!  Dairy is the devil!  No wait, some dairy is good!  You don't use STEVIA as a sweetener?!  It is the ONLY acceptable make-my-drink-yummy-substance out there!  No, you should never, ever, ever use a sweetener!!  More protein!  More fiber! More supplements!....It all just makes my head spin.

Here's what I do know.  Awhile back I did a 2 week processed food and sugar detox (including natural sugars like fruit) and I felt a ton better.  I had a more even level of energy throughout the day and my mid afternoon crash was not as bad.  It was also extreme, so I won't eliminate fruit again.  But I'm completely on board with only putting good, whole, unaltered foods into our bodies, and eliminating those that are toxic to our systems.

I also liked the Perfect Health Diet's additional allowance of white rice, potatoes and some dairy, since my hope is that we can do this as a family.  I think they will make for an easier transition, especially for the kids.  I have a feeling that dairy may be causing some problems for both Jack and I, so I do hope to phase that out altogether as some point.  

And did you see the small little section on the chart for chocolate?  Enough said.

Problems in the past and how we’re setting ourselves up forsuccess

So I've tried this type of food elimination thing before and have always gone back or not been fully committed.  We're trying to address some of those pitfalls this time around, so that this is not just a "diet" but a true lifestyle change for us. 
-Having the "no-no's" in the house. Part of the reason I've always gone back is because I've done it on my own, so all those tempting foods were still in the house.  At first I would just pass on any pasta that we had during meals but after a while it was just too much work to eat differently than everyone else or prepare two different things each meal.  We still have some things like oatmeal, quinoa, and nutri-grain bars in the house right now, so I will either give them away or simply not restock them once the kids have gone through them.  James is doing this with me and that makes a huge difference as we wade through uncharted waters. We can figure it out together and help keep each other accountable.

-Sweets.  I know myself, and I know that I have NO self control.  I can not have desserts in the house or I. will. eat. them.   James does not like sweets, so if I make a pan of brownies it's up to me and the kids to take it down.  I'll usually set aside a few for the kids and then something like this happens....I'll have one.  Then another. And another...until I come to the only logical conclusion - I must consume the whole pan that night or it will continue to taunt me for the rest of the week.  So, I take one for the team and down the pan of brownies myself.  Clearly, I am the hero of the night.

This time, I hope to be a little more prepared.  I do enjoy sweets, so I have a few Paleo-friendly cookie and "dessert" recipes on hand, for a guilt free indulgence if/when the urge arises.  Many people on this diet testify that they can really taste food so much better.  Our taste buds are a little out of whack with all the added sugar/sodium/etc in the processed foods we regularly consume that it takes a while for them to get rewired.  But once they do, food has never tasted as good...or as sweet!  Fruit is dessert!

-Not having a plan. The key to success is going to be planning.  When we don't plan for meals, we'll end up grabbing for something on our "don't eat" list, or throwing together a meal that's lacking in one way or another.  The key to this diet is eating the right foods, in the right portions.  And eating three large meals a day with minimal snacking.  So, if we don't eat a large enough meal or one lacking in say protein, we'll be reaching for something else to fill the gap shortly afterwards.  It basically means I have to stop being lazy and plan our meals in advance.  

But once we get the hang of it and have our go-to meals down, it will feel less like work and more like second nature.  Planning will pay off! And I ordered a couple of cookbooks to help ;)

-Portions. Before on these diets I would eat the right foods but all wrong.  I would have a huge piece of meat and a small side of veggies.  I should be eating a palm size piece of meat and loading up on veggies/fruits where so many essential nutrients lie.  Instead of snacking on fruits or vegetables I would grab nuts.  I was taking in tons of protein and not enough of everything else.

-Veggies. Ok, I know this will sound strange but it's hard for me to eat raw veggies.  Some raw vegetables, like carrots and some colored bell peppers, will make me incredibly nauseous.  Like dehabilitatingly nauseous for 1-2 hours.  It's been very discouraging when I've tried to make better food choices in the past when every healthy snack in the fridge would send me to the couch unable to move.  Some fish has this effect too. I was terrified to eat a salad because I never knew how I would feel afterwards.  I don't know if it's just my body trying to adjust, specifically a reaction to those foods or those foods in combination with the others I ate with them.  I'm keeping a food log this time and hope that will clarify what's happening.  I'm also hoping that smoothies will be our new best friend.  It's such an easy way to pack in lots of great fruit and leafy greens like kale or spinach.....and the kids think it's an yummy treat.

-The perfectionist – before I would get down on myself when I would slip up and eat something I shouldn't.  It would seem easier just to go back to old, more convenient ways.  So, this time I'm just going to be a little more forgiving towards myself.  Already today (just 2 days in), I was in such a rush that I skipped breakfast.  I could have grabbed something quick from a drive through but I just ate lunch a little earlier and made sure it was a very full meal of protein (spanish frittata) and lots of leafy greens and other veggies.  It feels really good to put good things into my body.  If I can't do it perfectly every single time, that's OK.  I'm going to keep going....because moving in the right direction is more important than perfection.

So that's our plan!  30 Days of whole eating and see how our bodies respond.  The timing is good.  Spring is finally here and soon the Farmer's Markets will be hoppin'! It will be easy to get our hands on a wide variety of seasonal fruits and veggies and hopefully make it a little easier for us to create some new habits.  We know that's ultimately what this is about - new habits.  It will be hard to break attachments to some of our old foods, but I trust that if we stick with it, we'll have new favorite dishes that are truly nourishing our bodies.

Anyone else venturing into the world of Paleo or PHD?  I would love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Confessions Of An Imperfect Life: Food, The Scale, & Me

Today, I'm starting a new series that I hope to share on both blogs.  See, the thing about writing a blog is that I'm the one writing the words.  I can leave out any unpleasant details and paint any picture I want.  I can also leave out any unflattering pictures of myself, so you only see my good hair days and non-pajama ensams.

So, to keep this blog from becoming some surreal documentary from the likes of Pleasantville, I wanted to do a series that would force encourage me to be a little more open about our dysfunctional moments around here....and the dysfunctional places in my heart as a woman. Cuz I'm not a man, so I'll leave that stuff to the menfolk.

Now, don't go thinking I'm going to start posting pics of myself right after I fall out of bed.  That would just be you.  And I like you, so we won't go there.  But, that very you see me and how I see myself, is probably a good place to start. 

I could lie through my teeth and tell you that I'm totally content with the way I am.  But I can give you a detailed list of all the things I hate about my body and the features I wish were different.  I think most women can.  It's a self-critical voice in my head that I constantly have to give the beat-down, and usually I come out of those bouts with at least one black eye.  It's something that has gone to a whole other level after having kids.

Extreme weight gains/losses in a short amount of time, changes in my body's shape, and an unspoken expectation to be back to pre-baby weight (or less) in record time have all played on the strings of my ego and self-worth.

I've been stuck at this place....this "15 pounds from ideal" place for about a year.  I've had this internal arguement with myself over simply accepting that I had 3 babies in 4 years and this is just the way my body is going to be vs. taking control and making sacrifices to lose those last 10-15 pounds.  Because it will take sacrifice for me to do it....preparing for meals/snacks in advance, saying no to foods I'm accustomed too, and turning down other things in order to get a workout in....and going to bed on time - which will always be my nemesis.

The quickie story about my relationship with food is a teenager I was an athlete that trained hard and never had to worry about what I ate.   I joined the Marine Corps, so throughout college and my time on active duty, I was again, always training hard and didn't really need to think about food.  Then I got pregnant.  And older.  It became harder to lose weight just by working out.  Compared to the average Joe I feel like I know a lot about food and healthy eating habits.  I've just been too lazy to actually follow them.

There have been times that I've gone on a healthy eating kick or a sugar detox, but I've never been consistent, and I've never been consistent with both food and exercise at the same time.  In the past I basically worked out to support my eating habits.  Well, this ole girl just aint what she used to be.  It will take the right food choices and regular exercise to get and keep my body at a healthy weight.  I also have a back injury, so even carrying just 5 extra pounds makes a huge difference in how I'm able to function.

Back to pre-baby weight after a 50lb pregnancy weight-gain with Mia......
prebaby weight

6 months pregnant with Sully...
pregnant with baby #2

Today, after three 50lb weight-gain pregnancies...
 After 3 babies

Please let me be clear.  I do not consider myself "fat" or even overweight.  It's not just about the scale.

I don't feel good....
I'm tired all the time (even after 7+ hours of sleep)....
I get food cravings....
My nails are weak and break easily.... 
My teeth hurt....
My patience is non-existent.... 
I wake up with back pain almost every day...
My digestive system is all over the place......

I know that I have significant deficiencies in my diet and that I haven't taken very good care of myself.

In lieu of a New Year's Resolution, I felt like my theme for this year was to "take care"...better care of our home, better care of my relationships, and better care of myself.  I've been a bit of a hypocrit in that way....I make sure my kids get to bed at a decent hour every night, serve them healthy/balanced meals, and try to give them physical activity every day.  It's been a lot of do as I say, not as I do.

I've been really inspired by Carmel's candid journey in Paleo eating so, I finally decided to give it a real shot.  A month of better eating (without cheating) and regular exercise.  And we'll see how I feel. (We decided to try the Perfect Health Diet and I'll share more about the food details tomorrow).

I really don't care what the scale says.  Of course I want to like the way I look in my clothes, but more than anything, I want to feel the best that I can and to know that I'm taking proper care of myself.  I want to feel strong, fit, and able again.

So after all this healthy eating and exercise, I'll feel awesome about myself and never think or say anything negative about the way I look again, right? did, didn't you?  You just snorted out your coffee onto the computer screen.  It's ok.  I know that critical voice will always be there, but I know that if I feel better, confident that I'm taking care of my body, hopefully I'll be able to deliver the defeating knock out to the voice of "you suck" in the first round instead of the fifth.

When I prayed about this post and for a piece of Scripture the first thing that came to mind was "there is no flaw in you".  So I looked up the whole verse and it's this...

Song of Songs 4:7 
"You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you."

The words from one lover to another.  The words our Lord, speaks over us.  The words, I constantly reject.  Because sometimes all I see is flaws.  In my appearance, in my heart, in the way I just snapped at my husband, in the way I just chastised myself for doing it.  God knows.  And His response?  Nothing but love for the child He created. 

Part of me feels guilty that I'm not writing a post about embracing yourself just the way you are, but I think that's because it's more important to embrace who we are.  If we only knew how much we are loved by our infinite Creator, and that through his loving eyes He sees no flaw, maybe we could see less of them too.

If you are overweight, you are amazing.  If you are a supermodel, you are amazing. If you are average, you are amazing.  If you are anorexic, you are amazing.   If you secretly need anger-management classes, you are amazing. And you and I are both worth the fight to claim our worth and our health everyday.

With so many other images and voices telling us otherwise, it's important that we are reminded of the truth.  And so I tell you dear friend, no matter how you look right now (good or bad) or what you've done/said this are altogether beautiful and there is no flaw in you.  Now, go tell someone else who needs to hear it too.

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