Friday, November 25, 2011

My Real Thanksgiving Meal

My goal for Thanksgiving was to serve foods that were real. No preservatives, no chemicals, just plain ole' good food.  Overall I think I did great!  I had one "oops" that clarified how easily it is for me to tune out and just use "whatever" when cooking. 

I found a recipe for seasoning the turkey that had a lot of great reviews.  It had a bunch of different herbs and at first glance it followed all the rules.  Then this morning I started thinking, I used chicken bouillon with water as a base for all the herbs...I don't think that is "real".   Sure enough, I went and looked at the bottle and I shouldn't have used it.  Anyone know what I should have used instead?


Turkey: turkey, water, butter, parsley, minced onion, salt (didn't use the seasoned salt it called for), and bouillon

Mashed Potatoes: potatoes, milk, butter, and garlic

Sweet potato casserole:  sweet potatoes, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, egg, milk, and whole wheat flour (I didn't use pecans.)

Cranberry Orange Relish: (the first cranberry orange relish recipe): cranberries, orange (with rind), honey, ground cloves, and ground ginger  (I didn't use walnuts.)  I also bought some from Trader Joe's, but it uses sugar.  I thought my husband would end up eating that instead, but he liked my version better because it wasn't as sweet.

Stuffing: I bought a two different types in a bag from Whole foods and there were not many ingredients and all were real foods.  I added butter and water to both.  (the bags were thrown out before I could write down what was in them)

Rolls: Bungalow Bread company - 5 ingredients! whole wheat, water, honey, yeast, and sea salt  (this is the same company that makes the bread I have been eating)

Apple Sauce: apples, cinnamon

Gravy: store bought and didn't follow the rules.  However I was okay with it because I ate very little of it and it was organic. I know it doesn't make it okay just because it was organic, but it helps. 

Corn: organic frozen corn

Dessert:  Well...we didn't have one.  After weighing our options my husband and I agreed that having a pie in the house would be dangerous.  Either I made one that we both liked and I would have to fight the urge to eat it (or eat it and deal with the calories) or make one that only he likes and be bummed that I can't enjoy a dessert. 

My husband, trying to be the supportive guy I love, said that the combo of cranberry orange relish and apple sauce was sweet enough for him so he didn't need a dessert.  I meant to make some whole wheat pumpkin bread, but time got away from me.  I am still hoping to make the bread soon. Since I am also trying to lose weight I am using apple sauce instead of oil.  I think I might also add some flax seed meal for the omega-3 fatty acid and fiber. 
It is a crazy amount of food for 2 adults and a toddler, but we are looking forward to the leftovers.

So there you have it.  I think of all meals to make with real food, dinner tends to be the easiest since we tend to make most things from scratch anyway.   Being focused on it helped us make better choices for the meal, although many aspects of the meal weren't necessarily healthy when you are trying to loose weight.  I shudder at the amount of better I used.  In order to enjoy it all, but not go overboard with calories I tried to be conscious of my portion size. 
My plate with only two bites of mashed potato and corn gone.

One last note...Mr. T started solids yesterday!! We were "supposed to" start back when we had his 4 month appointment, but he didn't seem ready.  In the last week he has shown more of an interest in what we were eating so I decided Thanksgiving would be the day we tried it for the first time.  Instead of starting with the traditional rice cereal (since it went so horrible with Superman), I did my research and learned that it isn't a necessary first food.  So I made extra sweet potato and gave it a shot!  He loved it and almost all of it stayed in his mouth.  He kept opening his mouth for more, it was very cute!  I made plenty to freeze so it is a good thing he liked it. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Real Food Pledge

One of the things that I have been thinking about a lot lately is the fact that I know I have been eating too many "foods" that aren't really foods.  I wanted to make more things from scratch, buy foods with less preservatives, and eliminate all fake sugar.  The problem was that I had no idea where to start. 

Then an acquaintance posted a recipe from the blog 100 Days of Real Food on Facebook.  I can't even tell you how much this site blew my mind.  This site is what I needed to get started.  They have rules and recipes and meal plans and they even did it on a budget.

The thing I liked about them was that they called it a "pledge" instead of a diet or a promise or anything else that leaves absolutely no wiggle room.  That being said, in my typical Mommy C fashion, I wanted to jump in with everything I had.  I gave myself a few days to get "prepped" for it and planned to start this past Monday.  The first time I went shopping I had no real list, just the rules.  I didn't buy much, but did spend a lot of time looking at labels.  I began to feel overwhelmed so I decided I needed a list. 

Shopping trip number two was an epic failure.  Item after item on my list was either not available, contained sugar, or too expensive (pine nuts at Whole Foods cost $20!).  I gave up and came home. 

Sunday I sat on the couch and tried to figure out how I was going to start the next day.  Some things were easy.  I wasn't going to drink diet coke any more.  If I made something that called for butter, I was going to use real butter instead of margarine. I wasn't going to eat breads or baked goods that weren't 100% whole wheat and grains.  But the specific stuff, like what I was going to eat for lunch the next day, seemed daunting. 

Then I had a moment where I was just ready to throw in the towel all together, but I didn't.  I didn't give up. Instead, I decided that there was no reason I couldn't take baby steps (which I should have realized because they have mini-pledges that do just that).  My goal for this week was to eat only real food for breakfast and most snacks.  Next week, I am going to add lunches, and then finally I will add dinners the week after that.  I was also going to make a commitment that anytime we run out of something for a meal that I haven't started changing yet, I would make every attempt to buy items that follow the rules. 

I have completed two full days so far and I have to say that I am doing pretty well, but I have two specific areas for improvement.

1. I have had one diet coke a day so far. Considering I was having A LOT more than that before, I am heading in the right direction.  I am going to allow myself to have one a day the rest of the week and then next week I am going to get rid of it (almost) completely with a new goal of one can per week at the most.  I am hoping that I will eventually kick the habit, but this is a step in the right direction.  (Anyone that knows me, knows that I LOVE diet coke...l.o.v.e. LOVE. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Yeah...anyway)

2. It didn't occur to me till today to check the label on the peanut butter jar.  Turns out my peanut butter doesn't follow the rules.  I have some almond butter in the fridge that I will start using instead. 

Because it is important to stay positive, I am doing far more things correctly!!

1. I found bread that has less than 5 ingredients and honey instead of sugar.  It turns out that yeast needs sugar to work properly so most breads have some sugar in them.  I was really lucky and found it on the last day of our local farmer's market!!

2. I am tracking my food!! I have been dragging my feet on this for some time now and I have to say, the Body Media Fit software on my phone is really easy to use.  Once you enter a food from their list or manually put in a food, it is saved on a separate list that is easy to access.  I would be really annoyed if I had to search for the foods I eat most each and every time I ate them.

3. I am a label reading fanatic! 

4. I am finding new recipes and foods to try.  In fact, I am going to make this Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread later today. I am even going to tweek it to make it healthier- I will add some flax seed meal to it for some added Omega-3 fatty acids and I am swapping some (if not all) of the oil for some homemade apple sauce that is just apples and cinnamon.

This post is getting really long.  I am sure there is a ton more I can tell you about the pledge so I will just have to leave it for another post.  Tomorrow (if I can find the time) I am going to post about my REAL Thanksgiving dinner menu. 

I hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

One Step at a Time

I haven't posted about my weight loss journey lately.  I am sure you can guess why...yup, haven't lost any weight.  In fact, I have been gaining weight.  So.not.happy!!!

In an attempt to understand why I was gaining weight I got a Body Media Fit (like the Body Bugg that the Biggest Loser contestants wear, just marketed differently).  I thought that maybe I wasn't burning enough calories.  My initial goal was just to wear it for a week or two and see what I noticed about my calorie burn, activity level, steps, and sleep.  I have been wearing it for longer than that without doing much with the information, but it has been very eye opening nonetheless.

Here is what I learned....

Calorie Burn: 
I burn a lot more calories than I thought I did.  I am certainly no expert on calorie burn, but I had envisioned that I burned about 2500 calories a day.  In reality I burn, on average, about 3100 calories a day.  On the days that I do Baby Boot camp, I burn about 3300 calories.  On non-boot camp days, I burn about 2800 calories.

Activity Level: 
I knew I was getting a good workout at Baby Boot Camp, but according to the Body Media Fit (BMF), I burn about 400-500 calories in one 1 hour class.  More specifically, the BMF considers my level of activity to be moderately active (3-6 METs burned*) for 30-40 minutes of the class, while 20-30 minutes are considered vigorous.  This varies day to day because the amount of cardio can vary depending on the day.

While I knew chasing after a toddler all day should count for something, I didn't realize how much it would count.  I average over an hour and a half of total activity a day (activity intensity of 3 METs or more).  That means whether I am going to boot camp or not, I am getting more than enough activity.

*Not sure what METs are?  METs or Metabolic Equivalents are a way to measure intensity in activity.  At rest, your MET level is 1.  Moderate activity is 3-6 METs - you are active but you aren't breathing too hard to carry a conversation, but you probably can't sing.  Vigorous activity is over 6 METs - you are active and carrying on a conversation is more difficult.

In case I wasn't convinced that I was getting enough activity, my steps were recorded at an average of 11,832 steps a day.  My goal when I lost weight back in 2005 was 10,000 steps a day.  Almost anything you read about the ideal number of steps when trying to lose weight will say 10,000 steps is the number to shoot for.  In the last month I recorded less than 10,000 steps only 7 times.  Of those 7 times, at least 3-4 of them were because I wasn't wearing my band the whole day (I know of 2 days that I didn't hit 10,000 because we watched football all day). 

I have a 4 month old.  Need I say more?  Ideally, for weight loss specifically, you need at least 8 hours of sleep a night.  I average 5.53 hours of sleep.  The BMF also measures time laying down.  My average time laying down was 7.17 hours.  I usually spend some time reading before bed, but not much more than 15-20 minutes.  What is going on during the rest of the time?  I'm not sure.  I could be tossing and turning. I could be trying to fall asleep. I could be laying there thinking of all the things I need to do the next day.  I could also think that I am asleep, but am really just really relaxed.  One of the things I need to work on is figuring out how to get more QUALITY sleep since getting more actual sleep won't happen till Mr. T starts sleeping through the night.


So now what? Well it is time for me to start tracking my food intake, but for a variety of reasons, I think there is more going on.  I will be writing about this in my next post as soon as I get a chance.  Basically it involves a bunch of medical tests, a naturopathic doctor, a health coach, and my primary care physician. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top 5 Tips for Grocery Shopping With Kids

Yesterday I ranted about people continually telling me that I am brave for shopping with both of my kids.  Although I find the comments annoying, it seems like there are some people who think that shopping with kids will be really, really hard.  Based on the biggest concerns I have heard from other moms, their kids' behavior seems to be the biggest worry.  I am not claiming to be an expert or without a bad day, but I have some tricks that I use to make my shopping trips not just doable, but really enjoyable.  So here is my top 5 tip list for being successful at the store. 

5. Bring snacks anytime one of them is tired/cranky/etc. or plan the trip during your child's usual snack time and bring it along with you.  A well fed kid will typically behave better than one that is hungry.  Use a healthy, but easily eaten on-the-go snack (cut up cheese and apple, crackers, etc).  I would advise against giving "treats" or a special snack while shopping (see #2) because otherwise they may expect it every time. 

4. If you have more than one kid, wear one of them.  Not only will this free up space in your cart (if one is an infant) and entertain that child, but you will burn some great calories while shopping.  Since Mr. T can't sit up on his own yet, that usually means I am wearing him.  However, if I am not going to get many items I will keep him in the car seat and wear Superman in the ergo on my back.  He loves it!!

 3. Enlist them to be your helpers.  For Superman, that means he gets to hold a few (none that are breakable or smooshable) items.  He also likes me to give him the item and he drops it into the cart.  Finally at the checkout, he is in charge of the cards.  He gives the checker the store club card and helps me run the credit card through the machine.   If they are older, give the child a calculator and have them keep track of your total spending or have them help decide which kind of cheese, yogurt, etc you will get. 

2. Do not bribe them.  Do not tell them that they will get a treat for behaving and do not let them have the cookie from the bakery.  If you do, they will ask you for it every.single.time and you can't really blame them for trying.  Make the grocery trip about spending time with them and doing something together.  If they are never told they will get something for behaving, they aren't likely to think to ask for something.

1. Do not ignore them.  Seriously, how fun is to have to sit in a cart for who knows how long and the whole time being ignored?  I bet you have all seen a kid screaming "mom, mom, mom" or throwing things on the floor while Mom completely ignores the pleas for attention. While we might not be this bad and we don't mean to, sometimes when we are just trying to get a task done, we turn inward and tune out everything around us.  Try hard not to tune out your kids. 

Take the time to talk with them.  If they are old enough, get their opinions on what you are buying, what meals you might try in the future, or just what they did at school that day.  If they are still young, use the time to sing songs, model decision making ("Let's see, I need olives. This can is $1.99, but this can is $1.09.  I think I will get the cheaper one because it all tastes the same.), or practice a new skill ("What letters do you see?").  And best of all, if they are in the cart, give them lots and lots of hugs!  Superman loves to get hugs and then push off of me and go gliding away.  I run up to catch him and we do it all over again.  I love our little game and we both end up leaving the store in a better mood.


I can always use more ideas and I feel like I have great tips for right now and for when they are school age, but I am thinking I need some new ones for when Superman is a preschooler.
So what are your tricks for a happy shopping trip? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You are so BRAVE!

The title "stay at home mom" totally doesn't fit me.  Not because I think I am so much more than that (I am more than that, but I feel secure enough with myself to not feel threatened by the title), but because I don't actually spend a whole lot of time at my house.  Although I have had issues with leaving or not leaving the house thanks to my PPD/PPA, staying at home all the time just never seemed like a fun option for me. 

Interestingly, the fact that I go and do things, like grocery shop, with both boys seems to continually shock some people. I can't even begin to tell you the number of people (some I know and some I don't) that tell me that I am so brave and that they could never go out and about like I do with two boys.   

So to the people that I know that think they could never go out with their two kids the way that I do, you can.  I promise.  I don't know a single mom that couldn't handle it...or many dads for that matter, although they might need a little bit more of a pep-talk first.  Maybe it is because I surround myself with pretty awesome people, but I have never looked at one of my fellow moms and thought, "yeah, it would be way too much for you to handle, you should leave grocery shopping for when you only have to bring 1 kid. Or better yet?  You can't handle one kid very well either, so you should just go by yourself when your husband gets home."  Sounds ridiculous right?

To the people I don't know, do I look like it is totally overwhelming and exhausting and this is your way of telling me so?  If that's the case, I am not exhausted  because my kids are there.  I just look like crap because the idea of putting on make-up and doing my hair seems like a waste.  Or are you trying to pay me a compliment because I have two (happy) kids under two that I am shopping with?  If this is the case, can't you just pay my kids a compliment and leave me out of it?  I can't tell you how happy it would make me for you to compliment Superman on his ability to sit nicely in the cart or for helping me with the shopping.  But telling me that I am brave just seems a little ridiculous. 

All this being said, if you are honestly looking for tips on how to handle more than one kid out and about, stay tuned for tomorrow's post.  I will have my top 5 tips for grocery shopping with your kids.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a Toddler Life for Me!

I am continually fascinated by my day to day life with my toddler.  He makes me laugh, cry, and (want to) scream all in single day.  The way he lives life (as with most toddlers) reminds me to slow down and explore the flowers* when my instinct tends to be that of a "rushing" nature.  He is teaching me how to play cars and trains and would really like me to figure out how to make all the necessary noises that comes with it.  He shows me how to dance like you don't have a care in the world (which ends up looking a lot like Elaine's dancing from Seinfeld).  He is also reminding me that an art project really isn't about the end product, but rather the creative journey you go on to get there (and boy, do I need to be reminded!). 

He is also giving me ample opportunity to learn about patience.  Like most parents of toddlers, we have the typical tantrums going on.  I have read the book "Happiest Toddler On The Block" and can't recommend it enough.  The book hasn't made the tantrums completely go away, but it has taught us how to navigate through them so there are fewer tears, less screaming, and a happier outcome sooner than we would normally be able to achieve. 

As if dealing with tantrums wasn't enough to test my teach me patience, communicating with Superman moment to moment also requires a whole lot of it.  He is in the phase where he mostly speaks in one (maybe two) word sentences.  We have been working on sentences like, "Mommy, cheese please." or "Daddy, car please."  But most of the time it is the thing he wants and then an added please when we ask him to "ask nicely". 

When he is frustrated, the one or two words go away completely.  He wants to grunt or whine his way to whatever he wants.  Our current solution is to utilize Dr. Karp's techiniques and say, "You sound really frustrated." and then we add, "can you use your words to tell me what you need/want?"  Although we are a long way from it working every time, we are seeing some success.  In fact, he is a conversation from yesterday.

S: Whaaaaaaaa  (who is standing on a chair eating his lunch at the island in our kitchen)
Me: S, can you try and use your words and tell me what you need? (I am changing T's diaper)
S: No
Me: No as in you can't or No as in milk? (no has some how come to be the word he says for milk)
S: Spoon?
Me: You would like the spoon?  (they are also on the island, but out of reach)
S:yeah, spoon.
Me: Can you figure out a way to get the spoon without my help?
S: (No answer.  He stands there for a minute, then decides to get off the chair, move it closer to the spoons, climb back up and grab both his plate for lunch and the spoons.)
Me: (glowing from ear to ear) Great problem solving kiddo! S wanted the spoon and he figured out how to get it without Mommy's help.  Great job!

He may have a lot to teach me, but this type of conversation reminds me of the magnitude of my job as a mother and how this one skill, of solving a problem on your own, is just a small fraction of all that I have to teach him.  How cool is that?

 *or rather the leaves that he currently calls flowers

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Clarifying my focus

I am so far behind with my updates on the kids that every time I sit down to write about them, I get overwhelmed and do something else.  I got to thinking about why I want to do the updates at all and I realized it is not because I want to share everything with the world, I do them so that I will remember.  I do them so that my family and close friends can hear about the little things going on in our little piece of the world without my need to post every little thing on Facebook....although I come close. 

So I have decided to create a second blog.  A blog where I can post pictures of the kids, use their real names, and write all about the little details of our lives so that I will remember when they are older (you know, like a month from now).  

This will free me up to write about the things that I do want to share with the rest of the world...things like how I am dealing with Mr. T's 4 month sleep regression, Superman's new found love of temper tantrums, and my transformative journey involving food, dieting, and my weight.  So you can see that I still still write about the kids, but you won't get posts listing their various milestones. 

I hope this makes as much sense to everyone else as it does to me.