Be Intentional…

Be intentional today. Think about what you’re eating before you eat it. Don’t just eat because of a “craving” or because of “convenience”, eat because what you choose to eat is going to get you one step closer to being who you want to be. Right choices are made second by second by second – and never forget: what we put in, we will get out.

Stop. Think. Choose.

 

The Food Pyramid of Common Sense

I don’t listen to “experts” when it comes to how to eat healthy. Why? Because if you’re going to listen to experts, how do you know what “expert” to listen to? “Healthy” to one is not “healthy” to another;  a “proper diet” to one is not a “proper diet” to another. Some say supplements, others say no diary, and others say nothing but protein.

So what’s a mom to do? I go with common sense.

See, if I just look around me and study creation there are great clues on how our Creator intended us to eat – what I tell my kids is the “food pyramid of common sense”:

1) Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds – these are all in abundance and easy to harvest and eat without any processing or preparation. Therefore, the foundation of our daily diet should be based on these things.

2) Eggs, milk. These are animal products that are abundant and, therefore, are a good source of protein on a daily basis. (I put cheeses and yogurt into this category since processing these items can be homemade without a factory.)

3) Fish and chicken. Easy to catch, easy to prepare… but not so easy that they need to be part of our daily intake.

4) Red meat, pork. Based on how difficult it would be to catch and prepare one of these animals if we had to do it ourself, we eat these things occasionally as a compliment to our overall intake.

What I just laid out is the foundation of how we eat as a family. Whole. Real. As simple as possible as often as possible.

Here are some habits I practice in my home:

About 90% of what we consume is homemade.

Not a lot of salt, rarely, rarely much processed sugar. (Unless, of course, we are making a batch of homemade cookies or fresh whipped cream!)

I buy the highest quality food my budget can afford at any particular time; I buy organic fruits and vegetables as often as possible. (I love frozen organic veggies – a little more cost effective if you buy them in the bulk bags.)

I keep what I want my children to eat the most of in plain view: fruit all over the place, nuts in see-through containers at eye level in the pantry.

What I don’t want them eating without permission is kept in our “naughty cabinet”. The “naughty cabinet” is where we keep crackers, chips, candy (if we have it), cookies… the “treats” in our home. If the kids want any of these things they must get permission first. (I’m a big believer in training kids how to enjoy treats in moderation. So, while we enjoy our “treats”, they are “treats” and not to be consumed without thought.)

Common sense eating has served us well – and it has also helped me to raise a little tribe of kids that truly LOVE good food – all food. We don’t have food fights around here, I don’t make separate meals for people, they eat their veggies as happily as they eat an apple. And, best of all, my kids are healthy, lean, strong, smart.

So be encouraged today. Now that 2012 is here I know many of you are probably trying to kick off better eating habits in your home… but don’t allow all the voices out there overwhelm you! Take a step back, breathe – take cues from nature and let simple common sense be your guide.

A Year for Walkin’

Growing up in a gym was an interesting place – especially back in the golden days of bodybuilding. Yes, you had your “novices” that would come and pump iron. But, for the most part, the guys (and I say guys because there weren’t many women that came to my dad’s gym) that came to our place were at the top of their game. They were all super buff, super cut, super in love with the sport.

The thing about bodybuilders that I find most intriguing, however, is their willingness to help others improve. If you had a question about a particular exercise, or if you wanted to train a particular body part a little harder, you just had to ask. There was no judgement, no snobbery, no holding tips and tricks close to the chest. Nope – the truly great bodybuilders wanted to share their wisdom… and they were always eager to encourage you to be your best.

YOUR best.

See -that’s the thing: you have your best, I have my best. Your best will never be my best, and vice versa. This is why I think the guys in the gym never hesitated to give each other a helping hand.

The key for all of us should simply be finding our personal best – the utmost of who we can be.

Our utmost is something only we can discover for ourselves. We can take cues from others and find ideals we’d like to mimic… but we are still who we are. Our natural physique, our habits, our preferences, the season of life we are in all influence who we are at this very moment. Let’s not forget that. Yes, it may be nice to look like J-Lo or a Victorias Secret model or (fill in the blank) – but WE ARE NOT THEM! We are US.

So, with the new year let’s be rebellious together. Let stop looking at others and measuring our “success” (or lack thereof) by them – and let’s simply look at ourselves with honesty and say, “Is this my utmost?”

If you say “yes”, amen! I hope that you’ll email me and share you story with me. Seriously – I could use the encouragement!

But if you answer “no”, which is my answer – then it’s time to do some soul searching, set some goals, and start walking… start doing whatever it takes to create the lives for ourselves (and our families) that we’ve been talking and dreaming about.

One foot in front of the other – walk, walk, walk.

One of my favorite movie quotes if from a movie most people have never seen called Hustle and Flow and it says:

There are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don’t talk at all, cause they walkin’

Let’s make this a year of walkin’ and not talkin’. Let’s not talk about how we want to eat better, let’s eat better! Let’s not talk about how we want a better marriage, let’s do the work and make it better! Let’s not talk about how we wish we had more time to read, let’s turn off the TV and get to reading! Let’s not talk about how we need to declutter, let’s declutter one shelf at a time!

Walkin’… that’s it. Today – the first Monday of a brand new year. It’s a perfect day for a walk, isn’t it?

What’s A “Meal”?

My dad’s gym was right next door to our neighborhood market and, come lunch time, he would send me over to grab our “lunch” – fresh shrimp and a lemon. The ladies there knew us well and so would always help – and back I would go to our weight room where we would unwrap the shrimp, squeeze lemon juice over it, and eat it up with a protein smoothie on the side. Quick. Easy. Lunch.

This was always how we ate in our family. A “meal” was rarely a plate of food with a starch, a protein and a vegetable all prettied up and perfectly separated on a plate; a “meal” was also never so heavy that we walked away “stuffed”. No, our meals looked more like this:

A bunch of raw radishes and a chicken breast.

Hardboiled eggs, grapes, a couple pieces of wheat bread.

Shrimp (like I already mentioned) with a smoothie or some fresh fruit.

(These are the meals I mention because they are the earliest meals I remember as a child.)

This “training” I got growing up set the tone for how I eat now and how I am training my kids to eat:  sometimes a “meal” isn’t a full plate of food. I want them to learn this because, in our fast paced life, “busyness” is too easy of an excuse to eat like garbage. So, in our home when we’re pressed for time, we still eat in a way that shows them by example that whole, simple foods are the go-to.

Sometimes a “meal” is a couple slices of rolled up turkey, fruit and a handful of almonds.

Sometimes a meal is a peanut butter sandwich on seed bread and a banana.

Sometimes a meal is a bowl of roasted veggies, a few slices of chicken and a glass of milk.

This is an important concept for my kids to live out because I want them to go into the world on their own with a habit of reaching for the “good stuff” – the simple whole foods that energize us without wearing us down, that nourish us as we were created to be nourished.

Does it mean we never, ever eat fast food? Of course not! BUT – fast food is neither the norm, nor the habit. And, it is a choice we make – not something we “fall” into.

So, be encouraged today. If you want to eat healthier in your home, maybe one step is simply transforming your mind about what a “meal” has to look like.

Rebel on, elisha

Practical Health

There is a beautiful verse in the Bible that gives instruction on how to imprint Truth on the generations that follow us, and it says:

Fix [these Truths] in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…

(Deuteronomy 11: 18-20)

While this verse was written for a people desiring to teach spiritual truths to their generations, it is great instruction for anything we wish to imprint on our children. Our children are our “mini-disciples”, if you will. Everything we do and say is funneling straight into their hearts and minds whether we like it or not. Pretty humbling, isn’t it.

So, when it comes to the concept of “health” in our home, I take this verse to heart:

Our principals of health are FIXED. The same rules for health must apply whether we are in our home, or out in the world. Even when we are pressed for time or on the go-go-go, we make it a point to make choices that support what we want our children to learn about being “healthy” and living a “healthy lifestyle”.

Our principals of health are OBVIOUS. We are not “deceptively delicious” in our home. The food I buy, the food I cook, what I put into their lunches, what I put into my own lunches – all of these things are “symbols” to my children of what “health” looks like. They can identify they healthy foods they’re eating and they know why it’s good for them.  Furthermore, my physical body (as well as my husband’s) is a “symbol” to my children, as well. If I want to raise children that will be fit, I (we) must first be fit myself. If I want my children to be active, I (we) must be active myself.

Our principals of health are TAUGHT. We are teaching our children through conversation; we TALK about health and healthy choices at all times of the day and in all things. We talk about how our bodies and minds are a reflection of what we’re putting into them, so we must pay attention to what we look like and how we are feeling. We talk about how food makes us feel and how the right choices will empower, and the wrong choices will wear us down. We talk about food commercials we see; we read and discuss every label; we educate on the vitamins, minerals and nutrients our bodies need from the good, whole foods we intake.

Our principals of health are WRITTEN. Our truth is “written” on our home in the sense that anyone who enters will clearly understand how we live. You will an abundance of whole foods – veggies and fruits of every color and variety, beans, grains. Our freezer is stocked with fish and chicken, our pantry is stocked with nuts and dried fruit. We keep our “treats” in what we call the “naughty cabinet”… any the stuff in the “naughty cabinet” is the stuff we don’t eat on a regular basis – the stuff that doesn’t nourish us and make us feel good, but that we all want to have because it’s nice to have a treat sometimes.

The world is full of junk and, I’m not naive: my kids are going out into the world and are going to have to make choices on their own. But this is why my heart is not to force good food on them or “deceive” them with cookies made out of yams, but instead to empower them to live well with knowledge, understanding and practical ways to make choices in a junk-filled world.

My goals are simple:

I want my kids to live amazing lives and I never want their physical body to prevent them for doing whatever they may desire to do.

I want my kids to have a desire for health so deep within them that they make choices not because I said so, but because they want to.

I want my kids to know the taste of real, whole food and crave it because it makes them feel so darn good to eat it.

I want them to use food to nourish themselves – and to always feel they can exercise self-control no matter what goodies they’re faced with.

I want my kids to know that being healthy is not a burden; and, that even when pressed for time, good choices can still be made.

I want my kids to THRIVE and LEAD and SHINE. THIS is why I make the choices for our home that I do.  Because it’s not about me  – it’s about them, and it’s about their children, and it’s about their children’s children.

A healthy, prosperous life for generations to come starts with ME. It starts with YOU.

Three Empowering Thoughts On Eating…

As you decide what food to provide to you and your family today, think about this:

1. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well  -Virginia Woolf  

It also follows: Our children cannot learn well, play well, or feel well if they have not dined well. Our job is to equip them with the right nourishment that will allow them to go into the world and shine!

2. “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”  -Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, famed epicure and gastronome

This goes back to “you are what you eat”. It’s something to think about: what does the food you put onto the breakfast table, into your child’s lunchbox or on your dinner table say about you and your family – and are you proud of that? If not, today is the day to make a change!

3. Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. – Hippocrates 

The goal for every day eating should be NOURISHMENT. Choose foods that will empower you, heal you, energize you as our Creator intended. This means pick foods as close to the earth as possible as your foundation.

Rebel on, -e.

You Are What You Eat


**Click on photo for source – it’s a great article called, “Picture Show: You Are What You Eat”.

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Here is the truth: more exercise is not the solution to the obesity epidemic.

There, I said it.

I am so tired of hearing over and over and over that we have to “get moving”, “play an hour a day”, “exercise more”. Exercise is important – but it is not answer to the weight issues in this country. Why?  Because you can spend hours and hours running and lifting and “playing”, but if your food is not right, you’ll never – NEVER! – meet your bodily goals.

I really got riled up about this yesterday when I read a story of a personal trainer named Drew who, to prove a point, is going from fit, to fat and back to fit again. Before beginning this journey, Drew was not only in shape – he was in phenomenal shape. Now, 6 months later, with an unrestricted diet Drew has gained over 70 pounds! How? By consuming a “typical American diet” . (You can check him out, including week by week photos of his transformation here:www.fit2fat2fit.com.)

The reason why Drew’s story caught my attention is because it’s what my dad went through every time he went from off-season training to “competition physique”. As a child of a bodybuilder I saw first hand, year after year after year, that our food decisions dramatically impact our physique. My dad would effectuate changes in his body not with more exercise (he worked out long and hard both on and off season), but with food. Off season he ate as he pleased – but before competition his diet became very thoughtful, intentional and refined. Yes, he was exercising – but food was the key to his success each and every time.

Food is the foundation of all that we are. Whatever we look like on the outside is a reflection of what we’re putting on the inside.  I get so frustrated by all these exercise campaigns because by making the conversation about exercise, it distracts us away from the source of the problem: that what we are eating  is creating our body to begin with.

Take a step back and think of a house for a minute – a beautiful, home with great bones and great potential. The house has been left alone for years and is in desperate need of everything to bring it back into new life. It needs things as basic as paint and new fixtures and a new roof and windows. But, more importantly, the foundation is badly cracked and has significantly compromised a portion of the house.

Now, whether you’ve ever remodeled a house or not, it would go against all common sense to go in and repaint the walls, replace fixtures and re-roof the house without first addressing what’s holding the entire house up to begin with: the foundation. Right? I mean, no matter how much work you do to “pretty” things up, the fact the house is broken at it’s foundation means nothing you do will be long lasting.

The same thing applies to our bodily “house”. Until our food foundation is fixed, exercise is like painting a wall in that falling down house. It might make you feel a little better; and, because you’re doing “something”, it might help you to ignore the cracked foundation… at least for awhile. But until the foundation is addressed, you will be fighting an uphill battle to keep that house standing.

Now, am I saying don’t exercise? Of course not! We were created to move and use our bodies, not to mention that exercise makes you feel stronger and super awesome.  What I am saying, however, is this: you can make leaps and bounds to better health without spending three hours in a gym everyday or running 50 miles a week if you simply STOP EATING, START NOURISHING.

It’s all about FOOD.

All you have to do is decide right now, right where you are, that you’re going to take control of what you take in. REBEL against the campaigns that burden you with one more thing to further burden your already scheduled-out life. Don’t think for one more minute that until you have time to step foot in a gym that you can’t do better. YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THE ONE THING THAT MATTERS… and I’ll say it again, what matters is F-O-O-D. You can start making changes right now!!

We are, plain and simple, what we eat… and it would do us good to remember that no amount of paint can fix up a broken house on a failing foundation.

That’s my rebel thought for the day.