Monday, March 17, 2014

16 Months Post-Baby

I haven't done a "Post Baby Body" blog post in a while and I was interested to see if there's been any changes.  Honestly, I didn't feel like there has been much change in the last year. But when I look back at pictures, I can see the progress and it is really encouraging. 

Taking pictures of yourself is awkward, but I highly recommend it!  It is a great way to keep track of your progress -- much better than the scale! 

Jan, 2013  ---  March, 2013 --- Sept, 2013 --- March, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

Serving Graciously

Luke 17:7-10
 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  

Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  

Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  

 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 
‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

 I came across this verse last week and it really hit home with me.  
I immediately highlighted it in my Bible and wrote the last part across my mirror.

In this parable, there is a man who has a servant.  When the servant is done with a portion of his duties, will his master tell him, "Good job, you worked hard.  Thank you.  You deserve a treat." 

No.  The master will instead give the servant more to do. 
Why?  Because that is the servant's job.  His duty.  His obligation.

I compare myself to the servant.

Most of the time, I want some sort of accolade after I've completed some task.


I spend an hour cooking dinner and 30 minutes cleaning up the kitchen.
I want my husband and kids to say, "Thanks, that was great!"
I do have a cute helper, though!

I spend all day chasing the kids around, keeping the baby from eating stuff out of the garbage, 
and homeschooling my daughter.
I want my husband to say, "Wow, you worked hard today!"

I do the housework, cook 3+ meals per day, find time to exercise, and try not to nag my husband.
I want my husband to acknowledge this and say, "I don't know how you do it!"

WHY do I want all this praise and attention?
Because I think so highly of myself that I think I deserve to be acknowledge.

Look who learned how to climb!
The reality is that I am just a servant doing my duty.

When I am finished with my day's work, I should ask God,
"What else can I do?  What can I do for you tomorrow?  How can I do better?"

When I am blinded by pride, I don't ask any of these questions.

I look at life from an extremely self-centered point of view.
I expect someone (usually my husband) to acknowledge my sacrifices.
Then if he doesn't say anything, I get offended and become bitter or resentful.

I have been thinking about this verse nearly every day since I read it last week, and every day I have failed to truly have a servant's heart.  But I will keep trying -- keep asking for grace, mercy, and a humble heart.

The Gaithers!
Because I'm an old lady at heart...


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why Drink So Much Water?

Step 2 -- Drink Water, Eliminate Soda/Sweet Tea

The first thing I did when I started trying to be healthy was to drink water.

Why drink water?
  • Over 50% of your body is water.  Blood = 93% water; Muscle = 73%;  and Fat = 10% (Source)
  • You lose water every time you breathe, sweat, cough, cry, use the bathroom, etc.  It must be replenished.
  • Water is necessary to digest food and transport vitamins/minerals throughout your body. 

I started drinking a gallon of water a day, and did that for several months.
Why a gallon a day?
I have no idea, that just sounded like a nice, even amount to aim for.
A gallon/day is not necessarily the right amount for everyone, though, and I don't recommend anyone blindly start drinking that amount.

Anecdotal Evidence -- My whole childhood, I had severe headaches.  I remember having them as young as 8 years old.  In law school, I got a headache between 3 and 3:30 pm literally every day.  These headaches disappeared when I started drinking more water and now I rarely have headaches.

How Much Water Should We Drink?

You've probably heard the "8 by 8 Rule"... Drink 8 oz of water 8 times throughout the day.

Jillian Michaels (love her!) recommends 128 ounces for men and 88 ounces for women. (source)

Some people say that if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated and you should continuously drink water to avoid feeling thirsty.  

These are all fine recommendations, but what I tend to apply is...

The "Urine Test."  
What color is your urine?
You want it to be the color of lemonade.  
Not clear.  Not the color of apple juice.  
If it's too light, drink less water.  If it's too dark, drink more water.    

There are times, however, that you may need to drink more water to compensate for greater than usual water loss. 

When Should You Drink Extra Water?
-- physical activity for 2+ hours
-- spending a lot of time outside 
 (ie at beach, gardening, hiking, etc)
-- you are breastfeeding
-- you are constipated
-- you are running a fever

If any of these apply, just drink a little bit more water than you feel is necessary.

What NOT to Drink...

1.  Soda or Sweet Tea

  • A can of Mtn Dew has 46 grams of sugar.  That's about 12 teaspoons of sugar.  In ONE CAN. 
  • A can of Dr Pepper has 40 grams of sugar.  That's about 10 teaspoons of sugar. 
The sugar is in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

There are 3 forms of sugar: glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
Glucose is the only type of sugar that our bodies need, and our bodies are designed to produce glucose if we do not consume any.
Fructose is they type of sugar found in fruits.
Sucrose is table sugar, like you would bake with.

Why is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad?
  1. Makes food/drinks more tasty, making it more likely that you will overeat.
  2. Spikes your blood sugar.  What goes up must come crashing down, leaving you feeling tired, lethargic, and reaching for another soda to boost you back up.  This can cause sugar addiction.  It can also cause insulin resistance (i.e. Diabetes).
  3. Cancer cells feed on sugar.
  4. Sugar leaches your body of necessary vitamins and minerals such as calcium (think: osteoporosis)
  5. Unabsorbed fructose remains in your gut to ferment, which can lead to candida, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive issues.  
  6. Unlike glucose and sucrose, fructose is metabolized directly by your liver.  Consuming lots of fructose puts strain on your liver, which can lead to liver disease.  In fact, consuming HFCS can have the same effect on your liver as alcohol.  (Source)
  7. If you don't immediately metabolize the 40+ grams of sugar you just consumed, your body will store it as fat.

2.  Diet Soda 
Why do people drink Diet Soda?  Usually because it has less sugar and therefore fewer calories.  But what replaces the sugar?  Artificial Sweeteners!  These are not ok!  They are man-made, chemically altered substances.  They have little to no calories because your body is not able to process them, not because they are healthy or nourishing.  All types of artificial sweeteners have been linked to health issues

Artificial sweetener are bad because they mess with our metabolism and our taste buds.  

First, artificial sweeteners trip your body's desire for sweetness without actually satisfying it.  Artificial sweeteners are actually 600 times sweeter that real sugar.  But consuming them doesn't satisfy our sugar cravins because our bodies cannot absorb the product (hence the zero calories).   So after the diet soda, we are still left craving something sweet.  Recent studies shows that people who drink Diet Sodas actually end up eating more than people who drink regular Soda.  And what do you think we're eating after the diet soda?  A piece of fruit?  Unlikely.  We get used to that super-sweet taste, which makes us need that higher level of sweetness to be satisfied.  Therefore, natural sugars (such as fruit or honey) don't taste sweet enough for us.  So we grab some chips, cookies, or Little Debbies.  

Second, these sweeteners affect our metabolism, which is the process by which our bodies take what we eat and turn it into energy.  The additives used in artificial sweeteners actually alter the way our body metabolizes the sweeteners.  Instead of operating as they are supposed to, our cells start wigging out and releasing a type of molecule that is linked to inflammation, obesity, and other chronic diseases.  (Source)

Articial Sweeteners to Avoid:
Sweet n Low

If you use a lot of artificial sweeteners and want more info, here is a good post.

3.  Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is just concentrated fructose.  Avoid it for the same reasons you avoid the HFCS in soda.
Instead of drinking your fruit, eat it.  Then you will get all the vitamins and  nutrients from the fruit itself.  Including fiber, which helps your body (especially your liver) process the fructose. 

4.  Sports Drinks & Flavored Water

Nothing good about them.  Just avoid them and drink water!  There's nothing nourishing about them, they are filled with artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

Here's the labels for Gatorade and Vitamin Water...

Interesting factoid about Vitamin Water.  They were sued recently for deceptive labeling; allegedly their advertising campaigns stated that the drink was healthy.  As part of its defense, Coca-Cola stated that "no reasonable consumer" would believe that Vitamin Water was healthy.  Hmmm.  So they advertise the drink as being a healthy product designed for athletes, but then when pressed, they say that no reasonable person would believe that advertising.  In my opinion, naming the drink "Vitamin Water" is misleading and deceptive considering the amount of sugar, additives, and artificial chemicals that are used. 

Check out this commercial below and decide for yourself...

So, How Do I Quit Drinking These Things?

1.  Identify your triggers.  When do you crave these drinks?  
When it's hot outside?
When you're driving in the car?
When you finally settle down for the evening?
When you're eating salty foods?

2.  Recognize why you crave them.
Your physical body does not need these drinks.  Rather, consuming these drinks over time has changed your brain chemistry and metabolism.  Your brain is telling you that your body wants the influx of sugar that it is used getting.

So when you start to reach for a sugary drink, think to yourself  "My body does not need this, but my brain wants it."  Then you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not you drink the drink.

3.  Start slowly. 
You do not need to immediately replace all sugary drinks with water.  That type of dramatic change is usually the result of an emotional decision, will result in extreme cravings, and is not likely to be sustainable over time.  Instead, slowly decrease the amount of sugary drinks and increase the amount of water.

So, if you typically drink 4 sodas per day, start by reducing that to 3 sodas and 1 bottle of water per day.  Then next week, reduce it to 2 sodas and 2 bottles of water.  And so on until you have cut out soda and drink mostly water.

Questions to Ponder... Leave a Comment Below! 

1.  What sugary drink do you crave?  When do you crave it?

2.  What do you think about the Vitamin Water lawsuit?  
Do you think a reasonable person could believe the Vitamin Water is healthy based on Coca-Cola's marketing?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Taking Control -- An Incremental Way to Regain Your Health

Tired of feeling lethargic?
Of not having the energy or desire to do any physical activity?
Want to be able to play with your kids or grandkids
without experiencing pain or exhaustion afterwards?
Tired of spending most of the day thinking about when and what you're going to eat next?  
Growing older and starting to feel the aches & pains, brain fog, and other ailments that society has told us are "normal" and just a part of the aging process?

If so, I totally understand.  I've been there.  And sometimes I still have days when I feel all of these things.

There is hope; there is a way to make all of this go away, no matter what age or stage of life you are in.
Of course, we will still grow older, but we can do it with significantly less pain and discomfort if we change certain aspects of our lives.

It's not easy, but it is SO worth it! 

This is going to be a blog series detailing some of the changes I've made in my life in the last few years.  I want to give you the steps to take, the "why" behind each step, and the way that each step can change your life.

I changed my lifestyle habits a little bit at a time,
and am still changing!

Some people may prefer to go "cold turkey" and change everything all at once.  If that suits your personality and you can sustain such drastic change, more power to you and I'd love to hear about your experience.

However, that is not what I've done.
I have made many small changes over the course of the last 4 years and am still learning and tweaking different things today.  So therefore, all I can write about is incremental change as I have no experience with drastic, "cold turkey" type of change. 

That being said, I am not a dietician or personal trainer.  I have no medical training or licenses.  I am just a regular mom and wife who has done a ton or research in the last few years.  I've read dozens of books, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and read a boat-load of blogs.

I don't profess to know everything (or anywhere near everything) about health and fitness.

But I do know what has worked for me.  And I want to share that with you.

You may not have the time or desire to read articles or listen to podcasts, so I want to summarize and condense what I have learned so that you can have the information without the burden of doing the research.

Please, if you have any physical issues or any hesitations whatsoever, disregard what I say and ask for your doctor's advice.

That is my disclaimer.
Because I'm a lawyer.
And that's how I roll. 

And please ignore all my comma splices.
I always, overuse, commas.

Step 1.  Find Your Motivation!

There are 2 types of motivation -- intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is when you desire a goal in and of itself.  The achievement of that goal is sufficient enough to motivate you to work towards that goal.
Extrinsic motivation is when you work towards a goal in order to achieve a reward upon completion of the goal.
The carrot on a stick scenario.
You do not desire to do the work, but instead are motivated by the chance to get the reward.  Doing the work is simply a means to an end.
When you get the reward, the work stops. 

Does this make sense?

Let's look at an example -- Physical Fitness.

Intrinsic Motivation -- You want to exercise because you enjoy the exercise and its immediate effects.
You enjoy the type of exercise that you do... 
You like to challenge your body...  
You feel healthier and more energetic after working out...   
Staying fit allows you to enjoy other daily activities...

Extrinsic Motivation --You want to exercise in order to achieve a certain goal. 
You want to fit into skinny jeans...
You want to make the football team...
You want giant biceps...
You don't want a muffin top...
You want to lose fat...
You want to improve your health...
You want to avoid chronic diseases or illness... 

Which one is better?

I think that extrinsic motivation can definitely be useful, but that intrinsic motivation is necessary to maintain your fitness throughout your whole life.  To have a healthy lifestyle, you must actually enjoy the physical activity that you choose to do. 

So... What motivates you?  Why do you want to be healthy?  What benefits will you reap if you are healthy and fit?

Here's my intrinsic motivation --  I actually enjoy the type of exercising that I do.  I enjoy lifting weights.  I like to challenge myself and see if I can lift heavier things this week than last week.  I went through a phase where I thought the best exercise was running.  So I tried to force myself to be a runner.  Needless to say, exercising was a burden and I didn't stick with it.  Now that I found something I enjoy, I actually look forward to going to the gym. 

Also, I like the way exercising makes me feel.  Exercising gives me energy to take care of my family.  It allows me some "alone time," time to think and be consumed by my own thoughts. 

My extrinsic motivation -- Exercising decreases my chances of getting a chronic illness.  Increases my chances of being an active senior citizen when that time comes.  I want to do everything in my power to make sure that when I'm old, I am still physically and mentally sharp.

Also, a superficial extrinsic motivator is to be the hottest chick in the room.  (Not that I ever am the hottest chick in the room, but that's sometimes my goal...)  I hate to admit it; I try not to concentrate on this and tell myself that physical appearance doesn't matter.  But I'm human, self-conscious, and grew up in a media-induced, sex-crazed world where we are bombarded with images of perfect looking women everyday.  That is my struggle. 

This post was long and kind of deep.
The rest will be shorter and more practical.