Wednesday, March 31, 2010

30 Day Raw Food Challenge Complete!

On Sunday, I completed my 30 day raw challenge, and I am so very glad I did it. The last two weeks have absolutely flown by. I had no real issues with cravings, sickness, tiredness, etc. In fact, I feel like I started to benefit from the diet change. The benefits I saw over the last month included: 13 total pounds in weight loss, flatter abdomen, less bloating and less of that yucky heavy full feeling, better facial complexion (in fact I think the dark circles under my eyes are disappearing), more energy, and no cravings! My blood sugar feels completely level at all times, I don’t feel like I go through highs and lows through the day, and I generally feel younger all over.

There are a lot of people who consider shifting gradually to raw – for instance, many people start out by going 50% raw every day. I didn’t do this. I went 100%, or close to it, and I think this had greater benefits. One of the challenges was learning what to eat and how to prepare meals. I have learned so much about raw recipes and eating in the last month. If I had limited my raw intake to only 50% of the time, I would not have been forced to learn so much about all the many options that a raw diet actually includes. Instead, I would have stuck with smoothies and salads. And in retrospect, I would have really shortchanged the experience and not really obtained a true perspective about it. And I think if I was still eating certain foods, I would be experiencing cravings. And the lack of cravings is what makes choice of going raw so easy.

It’s funny that I’m saying this now, because the first week I posted about this challenge I stated clearly that I needed food ideas. No one gave me any. I couldn’t figure out what else was out there besides fresh fruit and salads. Now it seems like there are so many choices that I could never possibly get tired of a raw diet. You absolutely must check out this blog – Choosing Raw - and look at the photos of meals that you can eat on a raw diet (including the one above in this blog post). Trust me, natural and raw foods are not lacking in taste, flavor or satisfaction. One of my absolutely favorite recipes I found on this website was for Banana Ice Cream. It was heavenly, and all four of us gobbled it down with gusto.

I also really loved the homemade almond and sesame milk I made … so much more than the store bought. Which brings me to another point—about 20 days into my raw challenge I attended a raw class that really helped give me a better understanding of how eating raw really works in a household. What areas you can give and take on when you have a budget? And I learned how to make beloved homemade nut milks—which by the way are incredibly easy, so easy an 8-year-old could do it. At the class I went to we tasted homemade almond milk compared to store bought, and boy was there a difference. We also did some other tasting tests, and between that, and everyday occurrences, I can say that my taste buds have drastically changed this month.

The most common question I’ve heard all month is: But where do you get your protein? Well, this is a very good question. But let me assure you, there are options out there. There are things like avocado, broccoli, and other high-protein veggies. But there are also hemp seeds and nutritional yeast, and other alternative protein sources that I am still discovering and learning about.

Then there is the issue of calcium. Did you know that milk from unhulled sesame seed milk actually has 4 times more calcium than cow’s milk? A little surprising I thought.

There is a lot I still need to learn about getting all the nutrients I need. But I will admit, I did see a doctor before choosing this. And my doctor actually told me that she is vegetarian and that there are numerous of studies out there that show that eating meat leads to a shorter life span. I didn’t ask for details because I had my own reasons for the change.

And while I mentioned it in the opening paragraph, I was a little surprised that my cravings are completely gone. I can actually cook a separate meal for my family, including meat, and not want a bite of it. In fact, I sometimes feel like I’m serving them blind because I don’t taste test anything. One night I accidentally spilt some honey mustard dressing on my finger and before I knew it my finger was in my mouth. Habit I guess. But get this; I could not believe how disgusting it was! Anyway, as a whole, the family is still eating many, many cooked meals. But Thomas and I have introduced more raw foods with each meal. The children really enjoy a green smoothie on a regular basis, chocked full of spinach or kale. And snacks are usually completely raw for them as well. There is always fruit, but I’ve also made a variety of fruit and nut bars for them over the last month. And I’ve learned you can make raw cakes!

I committed to a 30 day challenge and I finished it. So I’m just thinking you may be wondering where this leaves me now. Well, after 33 days raw, I can honestly say I do not want to go back. I am so happy with the way I feel and the food I’m eating, that I plan on staying this way. I never remember feeling this way with any diet. I’m simple amazed at how much I am enjoying choosing raw and I’m really looking forward to making the “nutloaf” pictured above.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jasper's Hair Cut

Last week, Jasper got his first complete hair cut. I say this, because Thomas had already shaved the sides of his head so that he had a curly mohawk, that really appeard to be a mop. See photo above.

Now we have an adorable little boy ... and it seems his smile and eyes shine now. He had a goofy grin on his face during much of the hair cut.

And then, Petra wanted her hair cut too. So Thomas pretended to cut hers.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Infertility Insurace

One of the worst things about infertility, is the costs associated with diagnostic testing and treatment. Not only do you have the heartache of being infertile, but most insurance companies won't pick up a penny of the costs. Not even to find out what is wrong with you or to talk to a doctor about it. Infertiltity is so traumatic, and to add the costs associated with it makes it ten times worse to deal with.

After 5 years struggling with this, you can imagine my excitement when I found out our new insurance covers diagnostic testing. I switched coverage at the advice of no one, everyone said I had the best around and offered to state workers, well, now I beg to differ. I switched our coverage in January, not because I expected inferitility to be covered, but because I was so fed up with the company we had been using. In fact, I read and read insurance coverage benefits for multiple companies and didn't think any of them would cover a penny.

Thomas and I both felt ready to move forward with tests this spring. When we found out the insurance was going to cover testing, it was incredible. I felt like I had won the lottery. What a BLESSING! So, in short, I have had over $3,000 in tests done in the last month, and have only paid $40 in copayments!

Our insurance will not cover treatments ... alas that is still on us. Regardless, I'll take the gift I was given and smile. Our tests are pending...

A quick update - March 23, 2010 - all tests came back normal! We are so excited. We still have another round of tests that will take place through the month, tesing things like hormone levels, uterine lining, and ovulation. I expect all these to come back normal based on our past tests, but we won't actually test until May due to my work schedule.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Growing Update

A quick update on the children, because that’s all I have time for these days.

They are doing absolutely fantastic. I’m actually amazed at how well behaved they have been for the last few weeks – maybe b/c I’m not there to see the problems. But it seems like we have really turned a corner and they are growing into happy, well-adjusted children who listen and obey. And no, they don’t obey all the time. Nor probably even most the time. But with a little extra instruction, a few time outs here and there, and everything seems to flow smoothly.
Jasper has had a couple big things happen in the last month or so. He got a haircut one night when I was working late – a Mohawk! It’s really kind of crazy looking. We plan on cutting it shorter again very soon—as soon, as I can be there to get some pictures.

He also started gymnastics and of course loves it. He loves to climb so there is no surprise that he would love hanging and flipping on bars, climbing up 6 foot ladders, and running around. All the other parents, and even the coaches, are quite amazed at how well he does. He can crawl on his hands and feet across two bars, walk on the balance beam mostly by himself, climb up and down the gigantic ladders, and is not scared of anything. At 17 months old, I don’t think they usually see children his age that can do all those things.

And with Jasper in gymnastics, Petra feels a little extra urge to show off. Since week 2 she’s been able to hang on a bar and bring her toes up to the bar. Now, she can nearly flip by herself. To do this she has to bring her legs up between her two arms, and flip over backwards. She usually needs just a little push on her bottom and over she goes. I think she could probably do it on her own, but enjoys hanging completely upside down. She has seen the most improvement in jumping and can hop across a room now.

She is doing absolutely fantastic at her “tot school” when I have time for it. She is learning all the time. This week I watched as her and Thomas laid on the sofa and read a book on the life cycle of the ladybug. She loves anything that you would categorize as science and simple would be happy if you could tell her everything about the world. She also loves to help cook and prepare food. As soon as I start, she drags a chair into the kitchen to stand on and helps as much as she can with everything. Usually this means, she stirring, or adding something to a bowl, or helping us cut up food using a butter knife. She is also very good at cleaning up messes and spills – grabbing a towel without us even saying a thing to take care of it.

She also loves to write letters, especially the letter “P.” And I would say she is doing a fantastic job. She gets a little carried away and sometimes writes on “other things.” Luckily she usually has a washable marker so it’s easy to clean.

And that is all I have time for. I will try to write another post about the children soon.

Here they are playing on a sheet and bed. Thomas is bouncing them up in the air.

Tot school - transfering rice between bowls. And cleaning up the rice off the floor. (Jasper had the broom but wasn't in the photo)

They love to hug on each other in the mornings. Jasper usually asks to get her crib and then they just spend a few minutes hugging or comparing to see who has the best pacifier.

While Petra throws a fit about heights at gymnastics, they are obviously not a problem for her.

On Valentimes day, laughing at the gifts Grandma and Grandpa Joyner sent.

Sometimes we get to go out for a hike in the woods still.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Days 5-13, Raw challenge

Days 5-9
Not much happening here. This new eating plan is actually going much better than I expected. I’m definitely having some cravings, but I seem to be doing a decent job ignoring them.
One of the ways I’ve been encouraging myself is with expected weight loss. Raw diets definitely have the tendency to take the pounds off. Every time I start craving something, for instance pizza, I distract myself with some thoughts about weight loss. And to help matters, I’m so busy at work, I don’t really have time to think of food anyways.

I have already seen a noticeable increase in my energy levels. I feel a ton better. Each day I can tell my stomach is getting flatter. I never feel heavy. However, I am tired every day around 2pm.

After one week – weight loss is 6 lbs!

Day 10 – Getting sick. The day was pretty hard. All day I felt miserable. And to top it off, I had horrible cravings. Half the day I kept thinking I should quit this challenge and start eating meat again. The glands in my throat were swelling, my sinus’ were killing me, and my body was aching. I wanted chocolate bad. And I wanted dairy, and chicken, and steak, and just about anything else you can think of. I finally gave in and had ¼ cup of chocolate ice cream and savored every bite. Yum. But I was very good the rest of the day. By evening, I started to think maybe I was in detox and had wished I hadn’t eaten that little bit of ice cream.

The idea is that with raw food – your body gets all these great disease fighting nutrients. I found this online that explains it:
“…once the body begins to assimilate a higher proportion of natural raw foods, it initiates detoxification and health-building actions since it is always striving to establish a higher state of wellness.
The new, enzymatically-active live raw foods with their nutritious, energizing sugars cause the body to spring into action, utilizing much of its energy in cleaning house: purging debris, shedding old inferior cells, and using the new raw nutrients to build a completely new, healthier body.
When a toxic load becomes too dangerous for the body, it intelligently enacts a detoxification/elimination/purging/housecleaning event or phase, manifested by any of these "symptoms": sore throat, inflammation, fever, skin outbreaks, coated tongue, mucus expectoration, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. …When we experience any of these signs of elimination, we typically feel fatigued and sleepy, as the body is directing much of its energy toward accomplishing the housecleaning. At such times, it is always wise to assist the body by heeding the calls for extra rest and sleep. All of these "symptoms" will diminish and then vanish when the body is sufficiently cleaned out, providing we adhere to a healthful lifestyle regimen.”

The fact that I am going through what obviously appears to be a detox stage has me slightly concerned about the foods I ate before that obviously caused some problems??

Day 11 – Definitely not detox, my coworker is also sick with the exact same symptoms. The good news is that hopefully my body want ache for more than a day or two. Detox can be quite lengthy for some.

Day 12 – Feeling so much better!!! I was able to get 10 hours of sleep last night and it made a world of difference. My body had a chance to start recovery. The past few days I haven’t eaten past 4pm; I haven’t been hungry. My cravings are gone. Maybe it's the stuffy nose that's causing it.

It was honestly so much work just to figure out what to eat, that I didn’t want the hassle of counting calories or fat. So I have no idea how much I’m eating, instead I’m only eating when I’m hungry. But when I look at sample meal plans, I know there are many days where I am probably not eating enough calories. I just have no desire. I’m not hungry. This was also the first day I haven’t been tired after lunch – maybe it was the 10 hours of sleep.

Weight Loss to date: 11 lbs

Day 13 – I think whatever bug I had, must have taken away a lot of my appetite. I did eat a lot more today, but I’m generally not very hungry. This morning I also woke up at 3:15 am and felt very well rested. At 4am I finally figured I was not going to be dozing back off so I got up to get some things done. It’s 9:50 now at night, I’ve not been the least bit tired today. Loving the energy.

For an idea of my meals, here’s what I had today. This is more than I’ve had most days. I feel like a little piggy now. I added some calories on purpose – I felt like if I didn’t my metabolism may drop b/c I just didn’t eat much the last few days.

Breakfast : Fruit smoothie – 3 cups fruit, coconut kefir, and water – this is twice as much as I normally have been drinking. It took me all morning to drink it all. And a banana with peanut butter.

Lunch: 2 Vegetable sushi rolls – this was just 1 avocado, 1 carrot, wrapped in seaweed

Snacks: ½ peach, homemade fruit and nut bar (made with dates, raw cashews, coconut, cocoa, and coconut oil – YUM)

And….some popcorn. Don’t tell anyone. I’ve actually had this a few times now. I see it as my one cheat, it doesn’t have anything on it. I figured 98% raw is close enough to 100% raw, right? However, I think I’m going to cut it out for the rest of the month.

Dinner: 1 grapefruit, 2 baby carrots, 2 grape tomatoes, and some nuts

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Our Frugal Girl

This story came secondhand because I was at work - but it was the highlight of my afternoon. So when Thomas called me and relayed this story I lauged and laughed and knew I had to post it.

Petra heads out the door.
Petra: Bye, Bye
Thomas: Where are you going?
Petra: To the store.
Thomas: What store?
Petra: um, to the grocery store
Thomas: Why? What are you going to buy?
Petra: Ummm
Thomas: Do we need food?
Petra: Yes, I need coupons!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Raw Food 30 Day Challenge

Day 4
Absolutely great day. Full of energy. No headaches. (surprising seeing as that I only had a few hours of sleep again - Jasper woke up crying 4 times - he didn't like his pacifier.)

Eating was simple and easy. Fruit/kale smoothie for breakfast. Salad for lunch. Fruit and nuts for snacks. I had some carrot sticks at 4pm and forgot to eat the rest of the day. I missed dinner at home with the family due to work. And wasn’t hungry anyway.

Day 3
Uggh, first day at work as raw foodie and suffered horrible headache and sluggishness – which I am sure had something to do with not having coffee and not sleeping more than 4 hours at night. Everywhere I turned there was cake and doughnuts. I spent 15 hours at work trying my best to avoid the chocolate cake 10 steps away.

And I did it.

The worse problem today was that I didn’t eat enough for breakfast. And then the rest of the day, I kept grazing and never really eating. Every hour I was putting a piece of fruit in my mouth because I was hungry.

Day 2
After a very frustrating day 1, day 2 fell into place quite well. The trick was learning to fix my thinking about how I eat. I’ve had a template in my head my entire life-well as long as I can remember- that says for dinner fix 1 meat, 1 green vegetable and 1 starch. Which is what caused my frustration on day 1. But I got the message loud and clear on day 1 that I needed meal ideas – so a quick surf through the internet and I found a load of resources. It turns out that a lot of raw foodies eat loads of plain fruit. Here was a sample I found for someone: (THIS WAS NOT WHAT I ATE)

Breakfast – 3 lbs of watermelon
Lunch – 2 mangos, 1 avocado, 3 sticks of celery
Snack – 2 mangos
Dinner – Large salad (cucumber, tomatoes, green onion), with sunflower seeds, two avocados, and fresh-squeezed lemon

It was very refreshing to see that many of the meal plans I saw online focused around very simple eating. And to top off the day, I have not been hungry at all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Our little heartthrob

Our little boy is such an amazing and uniquely different person than anyone I know.
He is so lovable and so serious … all the time. As his parents, we see both sides, but not everyone does.
He is so tenderhearted that every time we read a book he has to stop and hug almost every page so that he can give the characters love. He is helpful to us, following directions very well. And he also genuinely loves his sister and is willing to help and give her with nearly anything. Earlier this week I watched as he carried her cup up the stairs to her because she was wailing for it. A few mornings ago, I watched as he handed her his pacifier (out of his own mouth) to stop her tears. These are not things we asked of him, but things he did on his own recognizing what it was that would satisfy Petra.
He loves to laugh and play. He can also now pose for the camera- with a big cheesy grin, scrunched up nose and eyes closed.

But there is the other side of him, the side we see a lot and the only side strangers usually see. This side of him shows the seriousness of him. His “scowl” and “mad” look. His face as he looks around and absorbs the world around him is always serious and evaluative. You can tell he processes life around him … and trust me you can tell when he has decided he is upset about something. While some children cry and whine, he lets out an unbelievable deafening holler of offense. From others we never hear the words “Oh, what a happy baby.” But instead hear “Oh, what a serious baby.” People stop and talk to him and he just stares and scowls. I honestly think he is wondering why they would be speaking to him--Don’t they know that he doesn’t know them? Maybe the good news of all this is I will never have to worry about him talking to strangers.

He is growing by leaps and bounds. Sometimes running and loving every minute he can escape us. And other times running to us for hugs and kisses.
And even though he isn’t talking, he is learning his alphabet letters and sounds. We were amazed two weeks ago when he started pointing out letters we were asking and also making some of the sounds. It turns out he knows most of his alphabet sounds. He can point at a letter and tell us its sound.

And as a parent I am learning more and more each day to appreciate and value his ever serious, contemplative, yet sweet nature. Oh, how he makes me laugh!