Thursday, February 28, 2013

Garbage Truck

 My kids love trucks, especially the stinky garbage truck.  Just look at them completely entertained on the front step. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hosting My First Baby Shower

 My friend Jenny and I co-hosted a baby shower for our friends Rita and Lauren.  I've never hosted a baby shower before, but it was fairly easy.  Got some food and decorations and voila!  Piece of cake.  Rita and Lauren agreed they didn't want games and all that jazz, so we just had it open house style for people to come and go as they pleased.

Nobody would tell me what to put on the cake, so I took matters into my own hands.  Next time maybe they'll quit being so indecisive. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A long rant about food and dieting that probably needs editing and stuff like sitings to back it up but I'm tired and lazy so I won't bother...

Food is the devil.  Or so I used to think, at least.  But now I think society and the media are the real culprits, not food.  I have gotten very irritated in the last several months with everything I’ve read and listened to regarding diets and the “right” way to eat.  Well, I have been trying to figure out the “right” way to eat for many years now. 

When I was in the 8th grade I got it in my head that I was overweight.  I wasn’t at all, but many of the girls in my school were late bloomers and really petite so compared to them I felt like a giant even though I was healthy.  Back then I remember the fad diets I would read about in my teen magazines and I swore off eating all fat, because fat was the cause of getting fat, right?  I would check the label on everything and if there was even 1 gram of fat in it, I wouldn’t let it pass my lips.  Of course, I was stupid and na├»ve and didn’t realize that good fat is crucial for the body to develop properly and to absorb nutrients.  I didn’t even take into account calories, sugar, proteins, carbs, chemicals or anything else on the label.  No fat meant I could eat it.  No fat meant “healthy.” 

When I got into high school I continued to stress out over my weight and body image.  I decided I wouldn’t restrict fat from my diet anymore, but I wouldn’t eat over a certain amount of calories per day.  My view of food and dieting just got more and more destructive.  Then I remember one day my friend showed me a sheet of paper that basically outlined the Atkins diet.  Eat all the meat you want, just no carbs.  Oh, so the real villain is carbs!  Okay, I will stay away from carbs then.  Little did I know that good carbohydrates are what the brain uses for fuel. 

So I tried this, that, and the other, eventually giving up on diets for a while during college.  I probably ate better then than at any other time because I didn't obsess about food or make unreasonable food restrictions.  I walked to classes every day and signed up for aerobics.  I was active and maintained a healthy weight.  While at college I took several food and nutrition classes and a couple of semesters into school I also took a chemistry class and loved it.  For one of the assignments we had to complete an experiment on the pH scale.  Part of the assignment included licking a pH strip to find out how acidic our saliva was.  Mine just happened to be much more acidic than the other students in my class.  The teacher suggested that everyone's oral flora (or otherwise) is different to varying degrees.  I've always found that interesting and this idea might have been the catalyst of my thought that everyone's body needs different requirements to perform at their best.  The combined food and chemistry courses led me to believe that I could control my pH levels by eating particular foods.  Assuming this was true, I researched alkaline foods in an attempt to neutralize my body pH.  I loved the concept of food and the body working together to make a chemical reaction.  It was then that I decided I wanted to go into food science and become a dietian.  But my school didn’t offer a program and then I moved out of the country for work and so I put it off.  Now I’m glad I never went into dietetics.  If I had, I would’ve been stuck with a degree I wouldn’t even want to use because I’d have to follow government guidelines and standards and I don’t necessarily agree with those. 

Let me explain.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t a “one diet fits all” out there.  I’ve felt this way for a while, realizing that everybody is unique chemically and physically and people have differing medical conditions.  So the same diet for everyone just doesn’t make sense.  I chose dietetics as a potential career field because I wanted to help people with eating disorders or other medical problems like diabetes.  I wanted to create the perfect meal plans tailored specifically to fit the individual needs of these people.  It just seemed sensible that way.  And all this time I still haven’t figured out what meal plan works for me.  I am 40+ pounds heavier than I was when I got married 9 years ago.  I’ve had 3 kids and that’s definitely changed my body and the older I get the slower my metabolism becomes.  I’ve also been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which can make it difficult to lose weight.  I’ve struggled with depression and have recently come to realize I am an emotional eater.  All these factors have attributed to my weight gain over the last 10 years or so.  Now I realize that weight shouldn’t define health or wellness.   But, at this moment I feel the most physically unhealthy that I’ve ever been and I really want to change that.  So, what do I need to do to be healthy?  There is SO much information out there, it completely overwhelms me.  I have found books and movies for just about every kind of diet or lifestyle.  And they all claim to be the best way or the most correct way.  There are studies done for just about everything that “prove” a specific viewpoint.  I’ve read plenty of books about the “ideal” diet.  I’ve even practiced these things in hopes of becoming healthier.  Because of The China Study, my husband and I decided to cut back our animal protein.  So we were eating more soy based products.  Then we learned about the harm the soy industry causes the environment and family farms and how too much soy can negatively affect the body.  Then we went on a raw diet where all our food was uncooked.  We drank an excessive amount of green smoothies and organic produce.  Then I tried Weight Watchers.  I tried the Acai berry diet.  I tried the apple cider vinegar diet.  I tried the Paleo diet.  I feel like I’ve tried it all. 

The information out there is always changing.  Whenever I’m waiting in the check-out line in the grocery store there is a new diet being promoted on the cover of Woman’s World or some new miracle super food that slows aging or speeds up metabolism.  It’s just difficult to determine what things are legitimate.  Mostly I believe companies are just out to make money.  They tell us we NEED these things.  Just look at all the stuff out there.  South Beach Diet, HCG diet, Nutra slim, Herbalife, Ideal Protein, Shakeology, Slim fast, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and who knows what else.  They all claim to be the best method or best formula.  They’ll tell anybody anything to get their money, right?  Just a company trying to sell me their books, videos, their man-made, unnatural, chemically loaded shake powders and individually portioned food that costs several hundred dollars a month.  There’s always going to be some diet or workout program out there to lure those poor, fat, unhappy people into paying for it because they’re convinced it will change their life.  But to me, they’re all just a scam.  I don’t know what to believe anymore.  There are contradictions in everything I read.  Here are some examples:  Canola oil is heart healthy!  Canola oil is potentially dangerous!   Eggs increase cholesterol and contribute to heart disease!  Eggs are great for you!  Margarine is a healthy substitute for butter!  No, butter is better after all!  Whole grains are best!  Grains cause leaky gut syndrome!  Eliminating animal products is the way to go!  Chicken and fish are a good source of protein!  Sugar makes you gain weight, use aspartame instead!  Aspartame causes cancer!  Milk does a body good!  It’s full of vitamins and nutrients including calcium which is good for you bones!  Cow’s milk is full of hormones and antibiotics, the casein causes acne, and it’s basically bereft of any nutritional value!  You need vitamin supplements!   Vitamin supplements are not needed if you are eating the right diet!  And on and on it goes.  If there’s a book out there that promotes a vegan lifestyle there’s also a book out there that whole heartedly encourages eating lots of meat and animal products.  From one extreme to the next, it's insane the amount of information you can get your hands on.   

A few months ago I wrote on a piece of paper “GOAL: GET HEALTHY!” and put it on my bulletin board to remind me that I need to be improving my health every day.  I decided to find a way to jumpstart my thyroid so that I might be able to get off my hormone medication.  I researched various ways to do this.  One of the things I read that supposedly helps is to avoid raw cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts & other cruciferous vegetables.  Now, this totally contradicts the raw diet lifestyle I had previously been on board with, which claims that all your needs will be met if you just eat a bajillion raw fruits and vegetables everyday.  I also read an article in a magazine that listed the best foods for losing weight, and beans and high-fiber cereal made the list.  But if you talk to any person who practices a Paleo diet, they’ll tell you to absolutely avoid those things.  If I follow the Paleo diet I should be eating a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits and good fats including those found in olives, avocados and coconuts.  But according to the book Eat Right for your Blood Type, I “should avoid bacon, ham, some types of fish, dairy foods, nuts, grain foods, coffee and herbal teas. Specific items that [I] should not eat include, avocados, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, olives, melon, oranges,  blackberries, coconuts, strawberries and tangerines.”  Well there’s a lot of stuff listed here that is strongly encouraged by the Paleo people.  The blood type book also mentions that I should eat a lot of vegetables, especially kale, spinach, and broccoli based on my type O blood type.  Mmmmkay, but the thyroid research said to avoid at least 2 of those foods.  It’s maddening, isn’t it?  Well, who’s right?  

Last October, I attempted to do Whole30 which is basically following a strict Paleolithic diet for a month.  This meant no grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, processed food and oils for 30 days.  It was difficult, and I’ll admit I slipped up a few times because of social events and my son’s birthday.  Do I think it made me feel better?  I don’t know for sure.  I lost a few pounds, mostly because I was laying off the junk food I had become accustomed to.  But I didn’t see a change in my depression or fatigue or overall health.  I did become more obsessed with what I ate, however.  I was constantly figuring out what I was going to make for meals, wondering how I was going to convert my family to the diet, and stressing over all the restrictions I was forced with all of a sudden.  I also struggled with how the Paleo ideology fit in with my religious beliefs.  As Latter-day Saints, we are encouraged to use the Word of Wisdom as a guide to a healthy lifestyle.  We stay away from drugs, tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea.  We believe in moderation in all things.   But it also states : “Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.  All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life… …All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground-“  So I definitely grappled to reconcile these two ideas, the Paleo diet and the Word of Wisdom.  On one hand, one diet was telling me to eat more meat and no grains while the other told me that “grains are the staff of life” and to “eat meat sparingly.”  So again, more frustration followed.  I just thought to myself, if I decide to eat a Paleo diet from here on out, what could I use as food storage?  Canned fruits and vegetables, maybe jerky, and what else?  No rice, oats, beans, or even quinoa.  Right now I have over 400 pounds of wheat and a wheat grinder as part of my emergency food storage.  If I was forced to, how difficult would it be for my body to adjust to eating whole wheat again after not consuming it for several months or years?  Anyway, after 30 days of trying to eat Paleo I gave up and decided eliminating an entire food group from my diet wasn’t the way to go. 

But then again, many people have issues with gluten and grains lately.  There has to be something to that, right?  There are people I know personally who say gluten causes horrible reactions to them or their children.  I also have a friend whose son is severely sensitive to red dye 40, and when consumed causes outbursts of rage and uncontrollable fits.  Another friend of mine swears that certain foods increase symptoms in her autistic brother.  I started thinking about it more and more.  Some people aren't affected at all by gluten or dyes.  Perhaps this just further confirms my belief that not everybody should or can eat the exact same diet.  Or maybe food really is the devil!  I talked to a close friend about why people are more prone to food sensitivities these days.  She said she thinks it has to do with the way all our food is produced now.  It’s not easy to find stuff that hasn’t been mass produced and adulterated with pesticides and genetically modified.  Not to mention, all the artificial colors and flavors and preservatives added to everything.  Funny how even  processed foods like mini muffins laden with sugar and quick breads and cakes are considered grains by many people.  This same friend brought up that a friend of hers dealt with a gluten intolerance until his wife started using sprouted wheat to make her baked goods, and then it didn’t have the same negative affect on him.  Maybe the food in our grocery stores nowadays are so polluted with crap that our bodies have a hard time functioning properly.  Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but I would be interested to learn more about it. 

I think the last straw for me happened when I turned on the TV one afternoon.  I rarely watch TV, but this particular day I was sick and was just lounging around.  On came Dr. Oz speaking to his audience of mostly women who soak up everything he says like little sponges.  The segment I happened to catch was called “Eat for your Metabolism.”  And there were 3 tables with different foods on them.  Depending on if you are type A, B, or C, your ideal diet consisted of certain foods.  It kind of seemed modeled after the “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” diet.  I got really angry after watching that show.  How many of the people watching are going to follow this idea because it’s endorsed by Dr. Oz?  How correct is this idea?  What is the idea founded on?  Are there actual studies on this?  I just find it ridiculous that people get sucked into the latest trend without any consideration for whether there is an actual basis for its argument.  There is one point I think Dr. Oz got correctly.  There isn’t just one diet for everyone.  But I think it goes deeper than your metabolism type, an eating disorder, or disease like diabetes.  Maybe everybody’s individual body chemistry is so distinct that the only way to figure out the perfect diet is to experiment.  This thought totally reminded me of the pH level assignment in chemistry class and now this idea of mine has come full circle after years of several failed food regimens.     

     So, this is the conclusion I have come to.  I am thinking of doing a juice cleanse or fast to detoxify.  Then slowly add back one food at a time and see how my body reacts to it.  It sounds like a hassle and it will probably be a long process, but I don’t really know what else to do at this point.  How else am I going to know the specific needs of my bodyI think this test will eliminate mindless eating and indulging too.  I guess some will say that this tactic is going to make me obsess over food just as much as (if not more than) the next diet.  But I think once I figure out my triggers and really pay attention to my body, I can get back to normal eating relatively soon, avoiding foods that cause undesirable outcomes. Along with this I need to gain a greater love and appreciation for my body, however it looks and not get drawn into the hype of the latest and greatest product or diet.  I believe in eliminating processed foods and sugar, avoiding foods covered in pesticides, foods containing lots of additives and preservatives, and genetically modified food.  I want to be good to my body and to the earth.  I believe in these things.  The world we live in today makes it extremely difficult to follow your beliefs 100% of the time.  But I have to take control of my life at some point, and right now I suppose this means starting with what I put into my body.  So I have to try to be better, no matter what the viewpoints of the world.            

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day

 A hike was calling our names on this beautiful, sunny, warm February Saturday morning.  But first we fueled up at Skyline Burgers for pancakes, burgers, and chicken fried steak.   

Here is my sweet little loverboy waiting for food to arrive. 

We went to Macleay Park which is part of Forest park.  We chose to take on the Wildwood Trail and detoured onto the Lower Macleay Trail.  I can't say enough about how awesome Oregon is.  Just look at these pictures if you don't believe me.  


Friday, February 1, 2013