Monday, July 21, 2014

half way through

I'm half way through my clean eating challenge so I thought I'd share 10 thoughts I have thus far:

1.  "Clean eating".  It's not anything that's new.  It's a way of eating from long ago.  Before we began to drown in processed food. For me, it's a way of eating I hadn't really cared to discover.  It's going back to the way your grandma cooked.  It was whole foods.
It may have a new name attached to help people connect and define it a bit more.  But it's not a new phenomenon.  What is new is that people lately are finally starting to figure out how awful all the processed foods that are full of added sugar are for us, so more and more people are making the decision to make the changes to go back to this tried and true way of eating.  While it's something I could have started long long ago.  I had to reach the point that I was fed up knowing I was doing nothing to get healthier or get my body going in a better direction and I knew I was not feeling like I should. When a challenge was proposed to me, it was perfect timing.  I was finally ready to do this.  And I didn't have to buy into any pills or shakes or supplements to do it.  I've just had to learn to eat REAL food.

2.  One of the biggest reasons I drug my feet in committing to the 90 day clean eating challenge was because of all the traveling I'd be doing.  Not just one vacation, so not just one bad week, but multiple.  I was worried I would fail my team or fail myself.  But in the end, I decided not to stress.  The point of this challenge, as I've said several times, is not just a fad or diet, or even the challenge of 90 days. But learning long term a new way of thinking and eating.  And the team, points and challenge have helped me stay committed as it takes that long to learn sometimes.

3.  One of my biggest successes has been in my snacks. Both while traveling and at home. This in itself is pretty epic people!  When we travel, we are big gas station junkies.  We head in and come out with $20 worth of snacks and pop... cheetos, beef jerky, ice cream cookie sandwiches, honey roasted cashews, pepsi, mt dew, candy bars.
You think I'm joking.  But I'm not. 
And every year now, for 10 years, at my Premier Rally, my bag is stuffed full of boston baked beans, werthers originals, bite sized snickers and starbursts.  And I wonder why I've gotten a migraine every single year at some point.  I've decided that while traveling, snacks are one thing I can control when I may not be able to control the rest.

4.  After eating virtually 100% clean for several weeks, after just ONE day of eating awful on our camping trip, I felt horrible. This was a good lesson to learn.  This is how I used to eat 100% of the time. So feeling what it feels like to go back to it really sent me a message.

5.  I ordered my first salad in possibly 15 years while we were eating in Estes Park.  I know, I know, some of you think that's probably insane and you order them all the time.  But I would never have considered a salad a meal.  And there's no way I was gonna waste my money on a salad.
But after a day and a half of junk, my body was screaming for greens.  Sometimes even I have to stop and ask myself  "WHO am I?"

6.    Food has always been a big part of our vacations.  You could say we like to eat our way through our vacations.  And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  Treat yourself and enjoy it. I don't think I would ever succeed for the long run if I deprived myself 100% of some of my favorite cheese fries and big fatty ribeyes.  The key is balance. My choices before were always pretty bad. But I now really think hard about what is really my favorite things and decide many times I don't need the treat because it's not worth it. I have those favorites on occasion and in between them I'm making much better choices.  The goal after being on vacation and not eating as well, is to get back on track when I get home.  For me, there used to not be any difference, I ate junk on vacation just like the junk I ate every day.

7. When I mention no sugar, I'm referring to refined sugars (the white sugar in the sugar bowl, or added sugars).  The goal is to switch out to natural sweeteners,  sweeteners as close to their natural state as you possibly can get...honey, real maple syrup, stevia.  Eating clean doesn't mean you can never taste anything sweet again. Just find ways to use natural sugars (but still be careful not to eat a ton of them).  I'm in love with this dark chocolate that I stock in my's just cocoa powder, coconut oil, honey and then I add pure vanilla.  It's so yummy and definitely kicks those sweet cravings. Look at your recipes...a lot of times you can replace sugar with a natural sweetener and you can't tell at all.

8. If you wanted a baby step to start with (although this was not a baby step for me, this was huge), do some research on sugar and I can promise you that everywhere you read you'll read how awful ALL pop and sugary drinks (even Gatorade!) are.  So quit those.  And celebrate.  I still have a Pepsi here and there, just gonna be honest.  But I used to have 1-2 daily.  But we don't keep it in stock at home anymore. That has been one of our biggest victories.

9. Being in a 90 day challenge and being more strict than I probably will be after the challenge is over, means you get to see obvious results.  You get to cut the sugar and processed foods completely and really feel and SEE the difference it makes.  When you personally experience the positive effects, this is when you're forever changed. It's just like so many other things in life.  Until you have a first-hand experience, it's easy to be judgemental of others, question or doubt.  I know, because it's how I used to think.  I won't always be concerned about eating 100% clean all the time.  But I will forever think differently and be much more aware and cautious.

10.  So what results have I gotten?
*no migraines thus far - I typically get them 1-2 times a month
*more energy throughout my day
*more restful nights sleep
*weight loss - from one year ago, I'm down 15 pounds and a handful of inches. (so obviously not all 15 are from the challenge, 8 from January through June, and then 7 since the challenge began).
*best skin I've had in years and years

And why do I post about all of this? Please don't feel guilty if you're shoving a Snickers bar in your mouth while you're reading. Because I got my inspiration from the journies of others, while I was shoving Snickers bars in mouth.  Real life people that I could connect with and not just be intimidated by. Real life people that I could look at and say "if they can do it, then I guess I can do it".  People who talked about never feeling "good", who made me wonder if I was learning to cope with low energy and other issues, thinking it was just normal.  They made me wonder if there was more to how I felt. 
It's not about who's doing what and what wagon you're going to jump on.  One of the beauties of social media and the internet is that we can be motivated and inspired by others on similar journies. That's what began my journey.  Going from not caring at listening with one ear open to what others were researching....beginning to being inspired....and realizing this is what I wanted and needed too. Or at least it was worth a shot in finding out what kind of results I could get.

Half way through the challenge and it's become so normal I don't even think about getting to the end.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

more from Colorado

I guess I should finish up our Colorado pictures since I've now been on two more trips since then, and believe it or not we'll still be packing bags 2 more times before school starts.

I shared our camping pictures here. During the day we were hardly at camp at all.  We did lots of exploring and hiking and spent some time in the nearby towns.

Our first night there, we headed to Grandby after dinner to catch an outdoor movie in the park. This was the night it got really cold in the night (35 degrees), and it obviously got quite chilly as the sun went down.  We were freezing and super tired from leaving at 4am so we didn't make it through the entire movie. 
 The next day we went driving up the mountain we camped on.  Mason was determined to find some snow.
It was so nice to not be on any sort of agenda.  If we wanted to keep driving we did.  If we saw a spot that looked like we could do some exploring we stopped.  We drove some more, stopped again.  Drove some more, stopped again. 

 The light on this picture isn't the best but I had to document the dirt on his face.  This is what our kiddos looked like the entire trip. 

After some morning exploring, we made our way into Grand Lake for some ice cream and beach time (the Colorado kind = don't touch the freezing cold water)

The kids played for well over an hour here and could have kept going all day, building castles, moats and trenches to the lake.

And then more hiking.  And more silly poses.

We hiked to a beautiful waterfall.

The next day we headed to town for coffee and then took Trail Ridge Road through the Rocky Mountain National Forest over to Estes Park for the afternoon.
The cute little coffee shop had a gal singing outside on that upper balcony, so the kiddos gathered in the back of the truck to listen and drink their hot cocoa.

Dave and I have been on Trail Ridge Road before and hardly saw any wildlife.  We were so excited that this trip with the kids the animals were everywhere.  It took us forever to get through the park because we stopped so many times.

In the first 5 minutes of entering the park we stopped to see a moose and 2 babies.

This park is where Mason really came alive.  He was in love with the mountains and the animals and filling out his ranger booklet.  He was in his element for sure.

 The daddies decided to get a little adventurous and climb down the mountain to a stream.

So the moms posed the children for a picture.
These kids never knew each other before this trip, but they were the best of friends by the end.

 Mason finally found his snow!

And on our way out, another moose and her baby!

This last picture was one I posted on Instagram as our weekend came to an end, with this caption:

I will admit that camping with 3 small children is a lot of work.  But the memories and experience it is to do this together and to see the joy it brings to our little ones make every ounce of work, dirt, and drives to the bathroom worth it. The beauty we experienced on this trip, in both the mountains around us and the memories in us, has been unlike any other.

There is just something simple about camping (if you don't count all of the stuff required).  It was just us and the outdoors (and I was PRAYING no bears).  Our phones were put away except for the use of the camera. There wasn't anything else to be distracted by and to say "I'll help you in a little bit", "Wait until I'm done".  Being fully present just comes naturally out there.  And the kids just came alive. 

We are thankful for the invitation our friends gave us to join them.  We are so glad we ended up saying yes.  This trip will hold some special memories for sure. 

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