Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our Life In Captions

Has anyone noticed how life is currently being lived through captions? When I see my neighbor my mind automatically recalls the last image she posted on facebook of her and her hubby at the biggest football game of the season and how tragic the loss was. When I see my friend I instinctively recall her picture-perfect trip to Maui complete with snorkeling, giant ice-cream sundaes, zip lines, helicopter rides and the most amazing sunset you've ever seen. And of course there are pictures of what Sally had for dinner last night, Joan's amazing bedroom re-model, the antics of that crazy little elf on the shelf, and little Lizzy's second birthday party complete with princesses, ponies and the cutest damn table decorating job you've ever seen. Oh, let's not forget the professional portraits of those personalized mini-cupcakes for each of the guests and a puppy in the party favor bag.

No wonder we are all on Xanax and anti-anxiety meds for trying to out-do the last amazing idea we re-pinned on pinterest and making every day look like a scene from Leave It to Beaver - complete with the perfect house, perfect kids and everything in place as it should be. We are truly living our lives 'out loud' for all to see posting the highlights of our creativity, cleanliness and poutiest pic we got in just the right amount of light for our profile page. And then of course we get to deliberate over the perfect tag line, hash tag, and tag the people you want most to admire your photos; not to mention then write the wittiest blurb about yourself and your activities since the Zucker Brothers got together and invented slap stick comedy. Or on the flip side, post the most touching, heartfelt videos and quotes that you find and write something inspiring and selfless that leaves your followers riveted and eagerly awaiting your next post.

It's a strange new way in this technological web to sell your identity to the world and a far easier way to keep your audience 'wowed.' There is a trap here to fall in to and that is that you aren't being enough. It's a killer to think about what we need to do to keep up with everybody else's awesomeness. The whole online fantasy and whimsical dream world we weave is nothing more than a smoke and mirrors parlor trick that perpetuates itself inevitably creating a state of 'never enough.'

"If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater or lesser persons than yourself." Author Unknown (To me at least...)

"Dear Brittany,
How true if we create the definition of ourselves by how we compare to others. Then our own self image will be wavering constantly as it will be projected onto us by whoever we are with. We will have no core to life, no "I am me" center, no "this is my life,  I am who I am and I am a valuable human being and I choose to make my life extraordinary." But rather, "compared to you I am a heap o'trash (and by the way I hate your guts and hope your teeth rot and your face breaks out in warts)" or "compared to you I am not too bad."

The problem with this is several:
1) Our happiness is dependent on how we feel we compare to the people around us
2) We are projecting what we think the other person is thinking into their head and respond to life based on bull--it. I mean based on anything but reality.
3) When we are around people we act how we think they think we should act in order to be accepted by them. Then our lives are truly bunk. If we try to please everyone we become meaningless to everyone.

Develop your own inner strength so that your definition of self is from within rather than from what you think others may think of you." My Dad

Variety is the spice of life. Why do we feel the need to pigeonhole ourselves into something amazing 24-hours of our day and keep people posted about it? My favorite part of facebook is the blooper reel or the not-so-impressive moments of people's day-to-day rituals and doings. And how can we really appreciate all the good without the bad? I know those high moments with my kids are much more glorious when compared to the day before moment when one kid threatened to beat the other kid with a rubber garden hose just as the Flander's drove by singing happy church songs in their brand new black Escalade. Bah! Who the hell cares?

So, we could continue on our anti-depressant IV drips or shift our perspective and be excited for Sally's delectable dinner, remember some of Joan's great re-model ideas if you ever choose to demolish your own bedroom (or have no shame in hiring it out and not lending a single, inventive, amazing idea to brag about), give mad props to the moms who are clever enough to create incredulous and dangerous scenarios for their elf who really spends no time on the shelf, and be grateful that you didn't spend half as much as little Lizzy's mom on a princess and ponies party that your own toddler will have forgotten by 5pm that same day. If we look at everything through bitter eyes, everything is going to appear as a competition. If we choose to see everyone else's captions as fun moments to share with them or easy conversation starters next time you bump into them somewhere else besides cyber space, the world just become a more easy-going and happier place for you at least. If nothing else, you can cheer on everyone else that does seem to think it is all a competition.

Now excuse me, I've got to get back to my doily decorating and three dimensional sidewalk chalk murals.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simple Starch Replacement

If you are in the market to lose weight (or maybe you just over did it on a vacation and need to get back into your groove) one of the golden rules is to cut-out carbs after four o'clock in the afternoon. This is near impossible when you are feeding a family of ravenous males. With that being said, it turned out to be pasta night on Tuesday and my husband had actually made an enticing spaghetti sauce that I really wanted to partake of but inwardly groaned about those naughty starchy noodles that would have to go benath. I considered just spooning the sauce out of a bowl but didn't want to deal with the eyeballs that would be looking in my direction disapprovingly at the onset of the meal. So I quickly decided on a green bean substitute for the noodles and it was delicious! Veggies make for a great pasta replacement - just watch out for some veggies that are notorious for their starch (white potatoes and carrots for starters). Employ and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cold and Flu Season Fight Plan

Sigh. The kids are back in school. With school back in session, cold season is quick to follow. Yay! Did you ever see Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman? It creates a lovely image of someone coughing in a movie theatre and everyone inhaling those tiny little bacterial microbes and before you know the entire population is dwindling; I'm pretty sure that's what it looks like in the typical classroom. Although, kids do get super creative at actually inviting germs into their systems by licking and sucking on their hands after touching a door knob or even deciding to chew on some unknown object on the school playground - it's totally awesome to consider. Alas, it happens and then they come home from school candy-coated in all sorts of diseases and roll on the floor, use the dog for a Kleenex and sufficiently man-handle the most used surfaces in your house. But of course, we ourselves don't fall blameless in this - I watched a fellow sneeze into his hands and then pump his gas. Do you ever consider how many hands have been on the gas pumps? Then you touch your steering wheel, answer a call while driving and walk into your house and start putting groceries in the fridge before you washed 'gas pump sneeze-man' off your hands. So, without further a do,  here is my yearly Cold and Flu Season Fight Plan.

1.) EAT WELL. People underestimate this one. Most of your body's immune defenses are in your gut. If you have digestive issues, have been on anti-biotics (these kill the good AND bad bacteria in your gut), or are a heavy starch or sugar eater, watch out. You are starting the race at a disadvantage.

The Sugar Factor. It's so sad that there is a sugar factor and that it is bad. I have the biggest sweet tooth (should I tell you that I save the frosting from cakes and brownies for the last to eat them straight? Makes me salivate just thinking about it). The sad truth is SUGAR DEPLETES THE BODY OF ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS.

"All sugar, whether natural or refined, requires B-complex vitamins, calcium, and magnesium for digestion. Complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables and starches, contain enough of these nutrients to assist our bodies in their own digestion. However, simple, refined sugars (white and brown) do not assist our bodies. Therefore, the body must call up its own reserves of these nutrients in order to digest this kind of sugar. B-Complex is taken from the nervous system, and calcium and magnesium are robbed from the bones and teeth when these sugars are consumed."

"Sugar impairs the functioning of your immune system by weakening the white blood cells. White blood cells are essential to your state of health; they eat-up foreign invaders and seek to destroy cancerous cells. Flu Season starts in America around Halloween and continues through the Spring." (45-47, Dr. Bob's Guide to Stop ADHD in 18 Days)

Interesting stuff! Now listen, I'm not a total fanatic and I have my treats but eater beware! Make sure you are eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping your hands clean and cuing in to your body's stress signals. This is why mama always forbid sugar the moment a sore throat cropped-up. However, by then you are already too late.

Here is one final bit to chew on that I find fascinating; also from Dr. Bob's book: A 12 -ounce can of soda contains 9 tsp. of sugar. An 8-ounce serving of fruit-flavored yogurt contains almost as much. Your white blood cells can process a certain amount of bacteria in 30 minutes. Twelve teaspoons of sugar (equal to a frosted brownie, mmmmm) lowers your immunity by 60% - your white blood cells can process 5.5 bacteria in 30 minutes opposed to 14 bacteria when no sugar has been consumed.) That's nuts!

And finally, if you are avoiding the bad stuff, make sure you are eating the good stuff! Clean, real foods! Salads are a great way to get your veggie on (homemade salad dressings are the key here!), healthy fats and oils, good quality proteins.

2.) SLEEP, SLEEP and SLEEP some more. I'm finding that sleep is something that needs to be written into our planners. It is nearly impossible to get to bed at a decent hour these days with all of the running around we do and everything we fill our days with. Funny though that we skimp on the one part of our day where all the magic happens.

"You release most of your slimming hormones when you sleep, like HGH (Human Growth Hormone, which helps control and regulate appetite). Conversely, when you don't sleep, you release hormones like cortisol (which promote fat storage) and grehlin (which stimulates appetite)." (177, Slim for Life).

True, Jillian's information is all about your slim. I quoted it here simply to give you an idea of some of how your sleep affects your body processes. Interesting that you start storing fat when you aren't getting sleep eh? Sleep is when muscles repair, growth happens and immune systems are bolstered. Get your 7-8 hours of shut-eye and pencil your bedtime into your planner depending on what time you wake-up. I get up to work-out at six so I know that I will have to skip it if I go to bed later than eleven.

3.) Stop sweating the small stuff. Or in other words, it's time to stop the stress. Stress also lowers your body's immune system and ability to fight infection. Do you remember the last time you ran yourself ragged skimping on sleep, eating poorly and stressing out about that thing? You wore yourself out and became wide-open to illness. There is no better time than now to take care of yourself and stay calm!

4.) Wash your hands and keep surfaces clean. We've heard it a million times, but it has to be re-said. Keep your hands washed and away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Give your kids a chance each day to participate on 'Germ Patrol,' meaning they go around the house with an antibacterial wipe and scrub down all door knobs, light switches, cabinet knobs and TV buttons and remotes. The wipes are easy and quick to use, just be sure to wash your hands well when you are done. Make everybody wash their hands after they blow their nose or exit the bathroom regardless of what they were doing.

Okay, so you've done what you can to prevent illness. Now that it has bypassed all of your barricades, this is what you do when you start feeling 'off.'

1.) At the first signs whip out the following:

- Umcka. I found the syrup to be more potent than the chews.

- Herbal Tea. Herbal tea makes me shudder; I've never been a fan. Until I found Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice tea. To make it a truly delightful concoction, I add one drop of cinnamon essential oil and 1-2 drops of Wild Orange oil. Give it a good stir and oh it is divine. I favor DoTerra Essential Oils.

- Coconut Oil. Cold-pressed, un-refined coconut oil not only boosts your metabolism but is also anti-bacterial AND anti-viral. Three tablespoons a day is the key. It is totally unpleasant but I just plug my nose and swallow a spoonful. Don't be afraid of the fat, really.

- Essential Oils. If I can be totally honest here, I have had more success with essential oils than I have with OTC meds. Melaleuca works better on a cough than Robitussin. Peppermint oil behind the ears and being diffused in a room works amazing as a decongestant. Lavender and peppermint oil help bring fevers down. On Guard, Thyme and Oregano taken in a capsule have antibacterial properties. I take my oils with me everywhere I go. Invest in them and you won't regret it.

- Vitamins. Vitamin D is actually more important in fighting bugs than Vitamin C (although C is still important). Try to get a vitamin that is plant-based and made from food versus synthetically (chemical/fake) made products (most of the stuff available at your grocery store is pointless). I like Standard Process.

- My delicious autumn soup. :) There was a chill in the air a couple of days ago and my husband caught the fall bug (excitement for autumn) and started craving my autumn soup to the point that that is what I made for dinner last night. It is delicious, healthy comfort food. The recipe is on my recipe page. Throw everything in the crock pot and anticipate the goodness.

And yes, a ton of water, lots of sleep, chicken noodle soup, no sugar and no stress. (I've long since ditched Campbell's for all of its processed nastiness and since found a soup that I LOVE that doesn't have any of the junk in it, Annie Chun's Chinese Chicken Soup. You can get it in bulk on Amazon). And people, if your kid is sick, keep them home and help stop the spread. If your kiddo has a fever, they are contagious for up to 48 hours once the fever has broken. Good luck. May the force be with you.