Friday, April 29, 2011

This and that

I feel like today is going to be full of packing and cleaning and packing...oh my!  News on the house hunt is that we submitted an offer that was accepted and now we're going through all the pre-closing requirements.  So hopefully, we will be all moved and settled by mid-June!  The best news is that it is 10 miles from Scott's work.  10 miles!!  Right now, he travels between 45 minutes - 1 hour one way (with traffic) so this will indeed be a blessing. 

Therefore, if you don't hear from me, you know where I am.  Packing - which requires it's own amount of lifting and sweating and stress!  

Well, and this weekend, we have Elizabeth's little gymnastics "fun meet."  A two-year-old recital...I'm going to have to break out the nice camcorder for this one.  

I have to share just a couple things with you though...  

Amy, from May All Beings Be Well, is running in the Music City half marathon this weekend, which was her goal at the beginning of this running journey.  Good luck, Amy!

Once a Month Mom posted this recipe for Apple Chicken Nuggets and I have to admit, I am intrigued.  Chicken nuggets are one of the few things Elizabeth will eat...from McDonalds or Chick Fil-A, of course.  So I'm going to see if I can fool her with these...

Scott's cousin Amy posted this article on her Facebook wall on The New Food Fight.  Nothing like an article on food to scare the tar out of you.  Did I mention the new house already had raised gardening beds??

I follow another blog that has been featuring ideas to save money on whole foods, but I can't find it now.  I'll share her next post on the Facebook page.  Speaking of which, if you want to "friend" the blog page on FB, sometimes I throw deals on there that I see that have to do with eating well or fitness (since that combines my obsessions with health and coupons) that are too time specific to put on here.  Well, plus it gives me a little boost when I see new people join...ha!

Ok, gotta run.  Elizabeth has found her whistle and Rachel is taking a nap.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Strength Training is Crucial for Women - Part 1

I've been chewing on this for a while and making little notes in my workout journal and I think I'm finally ready to tackle my next series head-on:  Why Strength Training is Crucial for Women.  Now, this is going to be in several parts because I don't want to get long-winded on one post and because Elizabeth has suddenly decided that she is just fine and dandy with an hour nap (even if Mommy is not!).  So I need to write quickly.

Plus, I would love to get your feedback.

So let me begin by saying that the first reason why strength training is crucial for women is because it keeps you strong.

I know...profound, isn't it?

But we have to be strong.  Look at all of your relationships and tasks in your life and count real quick the number of balls you have juggling in the air right now.  How many people are counting on you to carry your weight?  Your significant other?  Your kids?  Your job?  Your church?  Your pets?  Balls!  There they go...  All are relying on you to be at the top of your health, strength, and overall game.

I've let you in on my little addiction to magazines - and after reading the trillionth article on the importance of cardio, I thought I might give this side of the coin it's fair shake.  So humor me, ok?  This is for the average woman - not just those that aim to compete in fitness contests. 

To go back to Scott's theory of why man was created, woman was not created to rest on her laurels either.  We were designed to be out in the fields, growing and harvesting crops.  Constructing domains.  Tending livestock.  Raising kiddos.  Day in and day out.  Now one could only assume that this would take an admirable amount of strength - the same amount that you have been provided with today.

I think strength training gets a bad rep from women because they don't want to look like men.  I, too, was in that same boat at one point.  I was a cardio junkie and did very little strength training...  Until I had kids.  And then I had zero time for my cardio junkie-ness.

I couldn't go on the forever runs like I used to - that my body required to stay at it's current shape - or so I thought.  Now, I had lifted since college, but was totally under the impression that because I wanted to be little, therefore I should lift little weight.  So I ventured for the 5's, 7.5's, 10's...and my weight plateaued. 

A funny thing happened to me in the past six months and I can't remember exactly what spurred it on, but I  got my gumption back and started lifting heavier.  If an exercise called for 12 repetitions, I chose a weight that I could barely get 11...or maybe get started on number 12.  Now, I'm not genetically strong, so I'm talking about 20-25 lb weights here, but still, I was working.  This is when I started seeing results.  Not bulk, but cut.  My arms began to get the definition I wanted.  My rear-end lost a significant amount of giggle.  And I was LOSING mass, not gaining it.  It was so funny how I had lifted light all my life in search of "tone" and here it was with the heavier weights.

As I was getting physically stronger, I felt myself getting mentally stronger.  I began to like who I saw in the mirror again.  I shopped for clothes with more confidence than before. 

Please understand, I still do my cardio, but I don't live by cardio alone anymore.  If I have 30 minutes, then I'm going to lift and work fast to keep my heart rate up (since cardio deals with your heart, that counts!). 

I find myself healthier, with more energy, and in better spirits than before.  Now, this being said, I eat fairly clean (good proteins, fruit and vegetables...chocolate...) and get a good amount of water and sleep.  But I lift three to five days a week and have never felt stronger.

Next:  Why strength training is crucial for your innards...

Easter Bunnies

Because my mom bought these bunny ears from the dollar section at Target, I'm dedicating this post to her.  Of course, the girls wouldn't touch these until AFTER Easter, but I thought these were cute shots, none-the-less.  Of course, if they look FILTHY, it's because they are.  We just got in from playing outside, eating Popsicles and Elizabeth bathed in painted with finger paints at the Y today.

Seriously, what are these things and what am I supposed to do with them?
Wazzzuuuuuppppp????  (I couldn't get these two shots the same again if I tried!)
No, you look funnier...No YOU look funnier...
Little bunny kisses
All done, Mama
Seriously, no more cuteness...
You are a weird, weird little girl...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Surprises

Don't you just love getting surprise packages in the mail?  My friend Erin has two little boys and we've gotten to be close blog / Facebook / email friends and she totally surprised us with a little Easter package containing the cutest little lambs you've ever seen.  She even stitched their names on them!  Of course, they love them and I just think they are precious.  Thank you, Erin, for such a thoughtful gift.  I'm so glad that I am surrounded by such loving and crafty people!

ERS:  What is it, Mama?  Me:  It's a lamb, honey.  ERS:  It's a yam...

Here, Rachel, you hug you yam yike dis. 

*Cue Rachel trying to hug the lamb*

See Rachel?  You hug it!  See??

Here, yet me have yours...

Hey mom...can I see that camera?


I know I'm probably breaking some child labor laws with the following pictures...but they pull this vacuum cleaner out every morning and Rachel fusses until she gets a turn.


Our little neighbor, Natalia, has been coming over to play quite a bit and it is WONDERFUL.  The girls are occupied and I can get things done and still listen to them.  She has taught them a lot about playing in their kitchen and then setting the table.  Sometimes I give them crackers to eat with their meals.  Of course, Rachel wants to feel big too but is often left out.  Poor little sister!

What?  I don't get a chair?

Seriously guys...are we going to eat or what?

If I don't get those peas in two seconds, I'm screaming for mom.
Finally, this was our big date night with Daddy to the burrito place.  They serve chips and it's relatively uncrowded, so that's just our place.  Elizabeth cracks me up with this purse...all it has in it is an old cell phone and she has to bring it every time we leave the house.

The chair (s)

Who knew that little kid furniture would be so expensive?!  I've been pricing these little chairs for a while and had hesitated in getting them for the girls until I saw them for a good price.  So when Amazon priced them at half off, I swooped and bought two.

They love them...or should I say it?

While I purchased two, they fight over just one.  I give up.

Ah...I sure love this chair Rachel, don't you?
Oh, I'm so tired, but I will try to lay down here, just so you can't get in it.

Hey!  Mom said I could have a turn!

What Mom?  You want to take our pictures!  Ok!  I get the chair!

Wait, Mom...can you read me this book while you take the picture?

Then it begins to get ugly...I'm pretty sure she launched the book at her sister.  That was the end of our photo session.

My Fashion Diva

Until about two months ago, we were really cruising.  We had a good routine, my children were relatively well-behaved and all was right in the world.  And then, all of a sudden, Elizabeth started caring about what she wore.

And oh, did she ever care.

Overnight, she decided that she hated anything NOT pink or purple.  Or leggings.  Blue jeans, black pants, anything sweater or jacket oriented were out.  Don't even talk about khakis.

So now we find ourselves in this daily tug of war over what to wear.  Or how to fix her hair.  Or what shoes to wear.


This is her favorite outfit by far.  Well, half of it.  She calls this shirt her pink ballerina, because of the little skirt.  She'd wear it daily, if I let her and she loves the little purse on the front.  Her Grandma Chris got it for her and she'll wear these pants, because they're leggings.  Normally, she pairs this with a pair of purple leggings that are so stained and ruined that they are embarrassing.  But they ARE her favorite.  Here, she's telling me that she can fix her hair ALL BY MYSELF (which is one of her favorite statements of the moment).

Don't even think of trying to help her.

Of course, Rachel still appeases me and lets me dress her in what I like.  Thank goodness.  Look at that little bed head.

Of course today, for some reason, she decided that she wanted to wear her "tap shoes" (church shoes) with her outfit...and because I can never get her in this shirt, I lost the shoe battle.  

Sigh...I don't envision this getting better any time soon?!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Because sometimes you just need to laugh...

I don't know if you get Baby Blues in your Sunday paper, but I love this comic strip and laughed out loud when I read this yesterday... enjoy!  (I tried to link it from the website, but due to syndication, they run about two weeks behind, so you have to live with my botched scan job!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Smooth move for more fruit!!

Ok, I'm reaching for a title here...bear with me!  I am so excited to tell you about this next realm of trying to sneak in better food to my kids...

Smoothies!  Milkshakes!!

Now, I realize that smoothies aren't some new thing and most of you have probably been on this bandwagon long before now, but to be perfectly honest with you, they've always grossed me out a little.  I like yogurt, but I can't stomach the idea of those little smoothie yogurt drinks.  I've bought them, looked at them in the fridge, and then threw them away once they expired.

Just couldn't do it. 

So I was flipping through my new $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook (I told you I got it and I LOVE IT!) and she has great ideas for working in fruits and veggies in most meals and I noticed that she serves smoothies a lot in her house.  So I asked Erin (the author) on Facebook about what kind of fruits she uses (frozen or fresh) and she very nicely wrote back that using frozen fruits makes it thicker...LIKE A MILKSHAKE!

Ding!  Ding!  Ding!

So decided to try this at snack time, when  my children are most likely to bypass all things fruit for crackers or Cheerios.  I mixed it up...yogurt, milk, strawberries, bananas, etc. Calling out, I  asked, "Who wants milkshakes??"

*Cricket.  Cricket.  Cricket.*

Two crinkle noses spy over the counter, skeptical of my new creation.

Hmmm...  "Who wants milkshakes in Mommy's Chick Fil A cup?"

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!  (Thank goodness it hadn't gone in the recycling yet!)

Princess post-nap cranky pants.

And her sister, the green-eyed jealous milkshake monster.

Thinking that this one wouldn't fare so well with a full-on cup, I took the inner piece off the sippy and she went to town.

Even mommy got in on the action!!

Downside:  my kitchen cabinet is now just a little less fancy...ha!

Erin offers more smoothie recipes on her website - and even featured some with kale and spinach, although I admit that I'm going to have to work my way up to those.  I love that she sweetens them with honey and adds ground flaxseed - making them such a healthy drink for my little ones!

Now they come running when I ask if they want know, in the Chick Fil A sippy... 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stress does NOT do a body good!

I was thinking today about some of the most stressful times in my life...
...the week before my wedding (NOT because I was nervous about marrying Scott but that it was my WEDDING!).
 ...calling pitches for conference championship games.
...the entire last month of both pregnancies (where I prayed my water wouldn't break in the middle of Target).
...buying a house (our current situation!).

It's funny how they don't seem like that big a deal when you write them down.  I recognize the fact that things stimulate me differently now because I am surrounded by all things "little kids" every day...I have trouble watching anything suspenseful or scary - especially if it involves kids (think Criminal Minds or Law and Order).  And the same applies to little stressful things that tend to disrupt my bubble of happiness easier then they may have before I chose to work out of my home.    

I think we are all faced with stress and even if we label it as insignificant, it can still cue the same negative body responses:  My workouts become horrible and I have no strength or energy.  I have trouble sleeping.  I can't words become all gibberish.  And  I become short-tempered with my girls and husband...especially when they sprint laps around the stacks in the library yelling, "Mama!!  Where are you?!" as I peruse the section on parenting advice for the Terrible Two's...(the girls, not Scott).

The little things officially become big.

Sometimes so big that, if I'm not careful, I'll miss God tapping me on my shoulder saying, "Woo-hoo!  I'm here!  I've got you!  Just you WAIT and see what awesome things I have in store for you!"

Like this morning... I dropped the girls off at the nursery and was walking back to the women's locker room with a storm cloud over my head when I saw a little old lady with her walker, waiting at the elevator.  Now, our Y has an incredible program for senior citizens and there are many classes and options for them every day.  You could hear the Zumba class music and instruction floating down from upstairs and the old lady pointed her finger at me as I walked by and said, "I may be 85, but don't think I don't know what they're doing up there!  With all that moving and shaking and what-not..."  Through my laughter, she went on to tell me that she was going to a cardio class with her son and that it was supposed to be good for her heart.  When I came out of the locker room, she was gone...and so was my storm cloud.

I ran my warm-up mile while listening to one of my favorite Joyce Meyer sermons...which always has a way of giving me exactly what I need... and then went through my workout.  I was about to get all mopey about my bench press being less than stellar when my little ipod selected Walking on Sunshine.  Now agree with me or not on my choice of music, it is my favorite song of all time and has never failed to make me happy, this time included.  Especially because today offered a perfectly blue sky without a trace of clouds.  Funny how I didn't notice it until then.

I continued riding these waves through my hour workout until I saw a man in a wheel chair load up the incline bench press rack and pressed for three strong sets.  It took him a while to get the plates loaded and get set-up, but he was focused on getting his lift in and was not in the least feeling sorry for himself.  

Oh Annie, get over yourself.  

Message received.  Thank you, Lord.  How much time did I just waste feeling sorry for myself and wallering (I'm from WV and we "waller" there.  You may wallow where you're from.) in my stress.  And if I hadn't gotten out and gotten active, would I have recognized it even later?  My favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 40:31 because it links trust with verbs that are near and dear to my heart:

but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary; 
they will walk and will not faint.
As soon as I snapped out of my funk, my workout improved.  My strength returned and my mood flip-flopped.  I rocked my girls a little extra before putting them down for naps and opened the windows to let the day in.  

I remain so blessed - even through my matter how big or little.  Sometimes, we just need the small reminders.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This whole business about kids making parents less healthy

I very rarely have the news on during the day, except for yesterday when they were talking tornado warnings and I'm just a little gun shy after the last one...

Why yes, that was our house with a huge tree limb on it.  We remained blessed beyond measure, considering it didn't cause roof, gutter or children damage and our property management company sent out a little man to cut it down the next day...cuing Elizabeth's "Mama!  Da Man tut down da twee!!" every time she stood at the window.

So as I was watching for the radar, I heard the following story:  Study:  Kids Make Parents Less Fit.

I doubt this is much of a surprise for anyone with children or has ever been associated with children because your life is definitely not your own once they are involved.  However, the following was troublesome:

Mothers ate more fatty foods and drank about seven sugary drinks weekly, versus about four among childless women. Moms also had an average of 2,360 calories daily, 368 calories more than women without children. With that many calories, women that age would need to be active to avoid gaining weight, walking more than 3 miles daily at a moderate pace.  But mothers got on average a little more than two hours of at least moderate activity weekly, versus three hours weekly among childless women.  

Fathers ate about the same amount of daily calories as childless men and both had an average BMI of about 25, but fathers got less physical activity - about five hours weekly, compared to almost seven hours among childless men.

Two hours a week of moderate activity combined with almost 400 extra calories!!  Yikes!  Basically, that's an extra meal on top of cleaning the house and grocery shopping.  

What's the answer to this?  I'm not sure...  I think that putting the burden on the pediatrician to address the parents could be just a shade uncomfortable.  Parenting is definitely not an easy job (I type, as my youngest is screaming her head off in protest of her afternoon nap) and I don't think it's quite fair to blame that on not exercising and not eating well, although there may be a direct correlation.  Especially when the childless women exercised a whopping three hours a week.

However, there are many of us who figure out a way to get all three cylinders rolling - although I admittedly put other things on the back burner (the dishes in my sink, the dust on my sewing machine, the stack of books I haven't read, the blog I haven't updated...).  I think the solution all comes down to education, recognition, planning and then support.

Education is simply KNOWING what to eat, how to workout, places to get healthy food, places around you to workout, options when the weather is good or bad, etc.  A lot of times, education comes out of a need - meaning that I tend not to pay attention to knowledge until I need it.  And then I go searching for it as if on a mission.  

I'll use my mom for an example here.  She has had countless doctor reports warning her that her bone density levels are low and warning her to get on medication.  My mom is not hip on the idea of being on bone drugs for the rest of her life, so she is scouring anything on natural bone building techniques.  A lot of the information she's finding, she may have read about before, but she wasn't interested in it so she didn't take it in.  So in this case, the education would come due to the parent recognizing that they needed to live a healthier lifestyle.
Recognition can come from several areas...perhaps you're more tired than you used to be and just can't sleep enough.  You might notice your skin or hair looks dull.  You might get sick easier.  You might continually need the next size up in clothes or you might quickly glance in the mirror as you walk by and think, " that me?!"

I have a good friend who answered her phone on the way to the gym one day.  It was the middle of the afternoon, which wasn't a common time for her, so I asked why she was going then.  She (laughing) explained to me that her three-year-old saw her bent over at the dryer pulling out clothes and said, "Whoa Mom!  Your butt is big!"  Therefore, she scheduled a few extra workouts.

That's a recognition moment if I've ever heard one!

I think planning is crucial for anyone looking to live an active lifestyle but is especially important when dealing with kids.  I stay at home with my kids and plan our errands and workouts around nap times and meals.  I set an alarm in the morning and live my life by the clock, but that's also how I'm made up.  I know moms who work and sacrifice a leisurely lunch time to hit the gym or go for a run so they can go straight home at quitting time.  Anytime you're going to make a lifestyle change, it is extra important to have a pretty detailed plan in place - or else it will be easy to go back to what you already know.
Finally, because we are only human, we need human support.  If you watch the clip attached to the article, I really liked the little mommy exercise group shown at the end, involving the kids and a support group.  Working out with your significant other or close friend can help keep you accountable and on track.

Ok, what do you think?  Talk amongst yourselves...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weighing in...

My friend Tonya posted this blog post on her Facebook wall this morning and I was glad she shared it...because I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.  

C. Jane Enjoy It - Weight Doesn't Matter

This is a sensitive subject, and one pretty close to my heart, so I thought it was worth an editorial.  I read it carefully, almost holding my breath.  I think a lot of people want to hear that the numbers on the scale don't matter - me included.  However, some can take this as a jumping off point to let their health go to the wind. Therefore, I could have almost jumped for joy when I read the last paragraph.

Let’s leave the false religion and adopt the true science of dieting.  Weight is not a reliable indicator of health.  Nutrition and regular exercise are.  Thin people do not have a monopoly on health and fitness.  Bodies of all shapes and sizes can be fit and healthy.  The bottom line:  Forget weight loss and work on healthy eating and moderate exercise.  Body type is determined by genes.  But exercise and nutrition are determined by you.  

Preach it sister!  I love that she said body type in this paragraph - because we CAN alter our size and shape.  But body type...what you've got is what you've got.

My body type is directly from my family.  I have the build of my mom with the small bone structure of my dad.  I have my dad's flat butt and my mom's smile.  I have my grandma's high cholesterol and my grandpa's dry skin.  I have my memaw's hazel eyes.   I've battled most of this for much of my life until I finally came to the realization and acceptance that this is me.

Although some days are more accepting than others.

I have admittedly dealt with the scale my entire life, and those who are close to me know this.  I'm sure most people have.  I can link it back to social interactions dealing with weight and growing up and  I was especially sensitive about the size of my legs.  I wanted to wear the popular skinny jeans (funny how things come back around, huh?) and they just weren't meant for my body type.  Sports really helped me in this area and it was freeing to get to college and realize that other female athletes also had large (i.e. muscular) legs and were proud of them!

I was addicted to the scales while losing weight after Rachel.  It literally dictated whether I would have a good day or not.  I wanted that weight off so badly that it dominated my thinking and existance.  Thankfully, I have a sensitive and knowledgable husband who talked me into weighing in only once a week (instead of once a day).  And now I haven't been on the scales in a while. 

You have to be careful with your measurements of health and how you perceive them - and I think that this is the true crux of the article.  Your weight is simply a measurement of health.  It's not necessarily a measurement of you, but it's a number.  The same as your Body Mass Index.  Now, I've never agreed with BMI as a good indicator of health, as mine has always teetered towards the higher end of normal weight onto the brink of a 5'3" woman who varies between 130 and 135 pounds.  Waist to hip ratio is another, and possibly more accurate measure of health.  This is simply the idea that it is healthier to have more fat around your rear end than your waist, because it is further from your heart.  However, for your own purposes, you can also judge your weight based on your clothes fitting or what you see in the mirror.

My views of weight have changed (thank goodness) as I've gotten older, as so many things do.  Even the title of this blog is tongue-in-cheek, as I am very proud of my post-baby body - stretch marks and baby pooch to boot - because it produced our two wonderful children.  My goal is simply to be strong and healthy because I feel better every day that I workout.  I want my children to be active and fit because they see their parents  that way.  I want to remain as attractive as possible to my husband and I want to be able to go hiking and walking with him when we take our dream retirement RV trek in our 60's with no health issues. 

Not long ago, I sent some of Elizabeth's gymnastics pictures out in some cards.  We were blinded by her cuteness and the joy of our first organized sport pictures (yes, at two...yes, I'm crazy) and purchased the whole shootin'-match of pictures.  

I got hit by a ton of bricks when not one, but two family members commented to the effect of, Wow, Elizabeth is getting a little chunky, huh?  

Whoa!  Really??  My child, who can't keep up a pair of shorts on her skinny butt...who jumps off anything with springs in their interior...who won't sit still unless I hypnotize her with Mickey or Sesame Street so I can actually cook dinner...

That Elizabeth?

My first instinct was to protect my put a bubble around her and not let her hear comments that could damage her little self image.  Don't you always want to protect your child from everything traumatic you had to go through?  More realistically, I'd like to instill in her a sense of fitness...or body proudness.  So that she is one day able to laugh at such comments and answer, You're crazy!  Look at what my body can do!...rather than combat it in a dark closet with a carton of ice cream or running miles and miles on a treadmill with no fuel in her body.  

I will battle with my own body image issues and keep them in check so that she never sees them.
Unrealistic?  Probably...but it's still my goal.

I pray that she will deem herself more valuable than a number on the scale...and that she will always stay so active that she never slows down to stand on one for very long.

Maybe I should pray the same for myself.  :)