Take Joy Where You Find It

This year, in many ways for may people, has been the worst. As Kyle pointed out on Monday, most of us are in need of a little pick-me-up. Some happiness. Some good cheer. I’ll continue Kyle’s theme, by sharing what happy plans are occupying my thoughts when I’m not yelling at the news, my elected officials, my general acquaintance to vote, or my contractors to finish my house. In other words, I’m almost never not yelling, but still.

Also, PLEASE VOTE.

Aaaaanywayyy, right now, my thoughts are consumed with planning for the Holidays. I know, I’m not usually one of those people, but here we are. Take joy where you find it. And reminder, Christmas is a mere 77 days away, people. I have kinda been prepping for this Christmas since last Christmas when I went a little nuts at Michael’s post holiday sale. Plus, my family has been not so casually mentioning how they can’t wait spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in the mountains at the new house. I say FINE WITH US!

Luckily for them there are TONS of Christmasy activities around the mountains where I live, and my husband and I are going to do alllll the things. When Meri came to visit in August I told her ALL about my plans, of which there are many. It’s a month-long itinerary where folks can pick and chose what they want to do with us, if anything. No pressure, of course. But who could resist stuff like:

  • Holiday Parade the day after Thanksgiving to start things off right
  • Tree cutting and sleigh ride high in the Rockies – I dare you to come up with anything more Christmasy than that
  • Holiday Hike to the Boulder Star – I’ll bring along adult hot cocoa for the top
  • Ice Skating and Pond Hockey – We’ll hike a mile to the pond near the house and pack spiced rum wassail and pasole. (Mine is a hiking/hockey playing family)
  • Cookie Decorating contest with rotating trophy

 

  • Last year’s Boulder Star hike with my sister.

I have more, but I thought I’d start slow. I’m most looking forward to the sleigh ride, tbh.

 

 

You Really Should (read) “Eat Dirt”

I’m back today sharing more stuff from my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, who is amazing. A few weeks back, she recommended I read a book called “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe. I don’t have a lot of time for reading actual paper books, but I was able to download an audio version on Hoopla for free. I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s shifting my whole perspective on food!

 

I know, leaky gut is super gross sounding. It wasn’t a term I’d heard before either. I remembered my chiropractor recently told me he suspected I had this condition and prescribed me supplements or it. After learning more about the the symptoms, I quickly realized that he was likely correct. If you don’t know what it is, let me *try* to summarize in a sentence: leaky gut is a condition of the small intestine where nasty food molecules (sugar, fat, gluten, additives, chemicals) escape the intestine because the  lining is weak, or “leaking”. I know. Gross. But Dr. Axe explains how this can contribute all kinds of diseases including diabetes, MS, heart disease and cancer. It was a wake up call for sure!

Things I’m giving up. ;’-(.

Now, I understand WHY sugar and gluten are bad. I mean, we know at some level these things aren’t great for us, but unless you’re a doctor or nutritionist, most of us don’t understand the negative impacts of these foods at a cellular level. Dr. Axe’s explanations made sense, but I didn’t feel judged or preached at as I listened. Plus, his voice is kinda dreamy, so that helps a lot.

What surprised me the most is how this book is making me gross out on things I used to love. Just knowing what this stuff does to my body is making me not want to eat it. When I do indulge, the knowledge of what I’m doing to myself seeps in, and makes me want that donut even less next time.

I learned that sugar and gluten actually play mind tricks with you and control your emotions around food as well as cravings. I don’t like being controlled by things outside of my…control. This was the key to when I quit smoking, too. I knew that all the extra chemicals tobacco companies add to their product are intended to make me more  addicted. Frankly, that pissed me off! No one controls me! Understanding this is how sugar and gluten control me has made me want to pass on things like pizza, bread, and ice cream. Although I do miss ice cream.

Things I’m trying to eat more of.

Some of it was a little woo-woo for me, but it still made some sense, and seriously can’t hurt me. With Dr. Kyle’s guidance and a new focus on a paleo diet, I’m already feeling so many benefits, most of which are mental. I found my scale while I was unpacking this weekend, and was happy to see I’d lost four pounds by just altering my diet to reduce sugar, carbs, and gluten. I can’t wait to share more recipes over the next few months. Let me see your favorites, too!

 

Recipe Box – Paleo Chicken & Mushroom Skillet

Since seeing a nutritionist, I’ve been told to start eating a Paleo diet. While giving up carbs and sugar is the hardest thing I’ve ever quit aside from smoking,  it has forced me to expand my palette which is a great thing.  I’m eating things I never did before! Things like English cucumbers, raw red peppers, and mushrooms. .  Also, the only real method of cooking I have available to me at the moment is my electric skillet. Therefore, meals must be two things: paleo, and able to cook in one pan. So when I stumbled across this recipe for Paleo Chicken and Mushroom Skillet, I was stoked to try it.  We paired it with a Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa packet, and a fresh, sliced cucumber. We yum-yummed the shiz out of this dish! My husband and I loved it.

 

Photo credit goes to I Breathe, I’m Hungry as I completely forgot to snap photos while I was cooking. Totally typical of me.

 

This recipe comes from the food blog I Breathe, I’m Hungry which offers low carb, keto, paleo, and gluten-free recipes.  I just discovered this blog, but if this recipe is any indication of the yumminess of her cuisine, I’ll be back for sure!

3 Things I Learned From Food Journaling

What is food journaling? Of course, it’s logging what you eat each day, but I learned recently that it’s so much more than that. Since starting a food journal under the direction of a nutritionist, I’ve learned so much about myself and my psychology around food. Today, I want to share with you why food journaling is so helpful. You might have wondered if you should do it and what makes it a useful tool on the path to a healthy lifestyle.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

Checking in with my Nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, at Alpine Fit

It’s not about the food as much as it is your feelings about food. Not only do I track what I eat, I track my cravings, too. Tracking when I crave sweet things, salty things, crunchy things–basically any craving–gave me insights into what was really triggering the craving. Was it PMS? Sometimes. Was it more about external factors that influence poor food choices? Absolutely! For example the other day, it was as cold as the South Pole in my office because it’s August and office air conditioning.  You know of what I speak. Around the time I noticed the chill, I wanted a cup of tea. Then I asked myself what is it my body needs right now? It actually wasn’t the tea itself, I just wanted to be warm. Previously, I would have just made a cup of tea with 2 tsp of sugar and not given it a thought. Being aware and asking myself to take a deeper look at the craving helped me identify the ingrained food response that doesn’t serve my health goals. Instead of a cup of tea, I put on a sweater. Craving gone!

One pot meals are my secret lover.

Journaling helped me identify destructive food behaviors so I could change them. My Nutritionist is urging me to be more mindful when I eat, to take time to savor and enjoy, to be grateful for and to take pleasure in eating. While food journaling one day, I had a major epiphany about why it’s so hard for me to be mindful when I eat. It goes back to a traumatic experience with my abusive dad when I was about four years old. He thought I was eating too slow, and forced me to get my next bite of food ready on my fork before I’d swallowed what I was chewing. There was yelling and screaming involved, and it was so strongly ingrained in me to shovel food in my mouth as fast as possible that the idea of “mindful eating” was completely foreign to me. Having this realization has allowed me to be aware of the behavior and understand where it originated. That space for recognition helps me allow myself the time to correct myself and slow down  without feeling guilty.

Journaling Helped me recognize when I actually need chocolate versus when I really just need time for selfcare. I’m an introvert, which is becoming a more accepted thing these days. (BIG YAY!!) I’ve always known I needed time alone to refill my cup so I can pour out for others. If I don’t get that time, I get grumpy. Irritable. Easily annoyed. Basically…plain bitchy. But since I’ve been living in a 10 x 12 foot shack with my husband since January, alone time is nearly non-existent. So last week when I was really craving a slice of cheesecake or a brownie, I had another epiphany! I asked myself the golden question; what is it my body actually needs right now? The ah-ha moment was the realization that when I don’t get my alone time for selfcare, I substitute with sweets and carbs. The sugar gives me the endorphin rush to feel good and relax a little, something I would normally get from a nice bath. Instead of eating something I shouldn’t, my nutritionist redirected me to take a five-minute meditation break, do some breathing exercises, or go for a quick walk. I recognize now when I feel that craving coming on that what I really need is 5-10 minutes of selfcare to give my mind what it needs, not what my body *thinks* will help.

I’ve only been food journaling for a month, but I’m excited to keep it going and see what else I learn about myself. I’ts been a big eye-opener!

 

Have you ever journaled your food? What take-aways did you glean from the experience?

A Day In The Life – Jenn

I’m back from my hiatus and wrapping up our Day In The Life Series with the craziness that is my daily state of being. Brace yourselves for a taste of just about everything! I chose last Thursday to document mainly because it involved more health related stuff and less construction-y related nonsense.

My alarm goes off at 5:00. I hit snooze until 6. It’s what I do. I’ve always hated mornings and have a hard time getting out of my nice, warm bed. Especially when this face is snoring adorably next to me.

Lily loves to lounge around.

Once I do get up, it’s a hike to the bathroom (aka porta potty). It’s that little green rectangle waaaaay up there. Since we’re still in construction, I’m going on eight months without a bathroom. You can imagine how fun THAT is.

Also, LOOK, I HAVE A HOUSE!

After the morning “hike”, I make a cup of Earl Grey tea, kiss the hubby and doggies goodbye, and jump in my car for the fifty minute commute to work. It’s through a river canyon and I drive a Mustang GT, so don’t feel too badly for me. I love my commute!

An old photo of me and my Pepe.

THANK GOODNESS my office building has a shower and lockers! A shower is the first order of business when I get to work, followed by teeth brushing. I store all my shower gear and work clothes at my office because I also don’t have a closet. Yet. Sigh.

Not glamourous at all.

I’ve never been much of a breakfast girl. I know I should be, but more times than not, the idea of eating in the morning makes my stomach queasy. Until last week, I’d eat some kind of breakfast pastry—muffin, scone, Danish—and call it good. Since I’ve met with a nutritionist, I’ve switched to an avocado with a little salt and pepper.

After that, it’s eight hours of sitting at a desk in front of a computer, figuring out ways I can make my company more sustainable. I love the company I work for and what we do, and I’m super fortunate to have my job.

We make some cool stuff at my work!

I had an appointment with my nutrition coach, Kyle, at Alpine Fitness. Recently, I signed up for a six-month program to help me change my nutrition and eating habits with the goal of lowering my blood sugar and kicking my sugar addiction. This is my second week and second visit. She was super pleased with my progress and how well I tracked everything the first week.

Also last week, I purchased the Boss Body Method 12 week training guide. I was going to start the program right away, but I hurt by lower back in April while cutting trees. It’s getting much better with the help of my chiropractor, but I wanted Kyle, who is also a physical therapist, to give me the green light to start, and she did! I think I’ll start after Meri’s visit next week!

I’m tracking everything except my weight in my bullet journal.

After the appointment, I stopped by Sprouts supermarket, my favorite grocery chain in Colorado, to pick up dinner. I don’t have a stove or a sink right now, so cooking is extremely difficult. The solution is the Sprouts deli, where they always have a great selection of ready-made meals that we can pop in the microwave, because that’s the one appliance I do have. I pick up an entrée for both my husband and me and feel good that it’s freshly made and healthy. I forgot to take a photo! I had turkey and steamed vegies, he had greek chicken and spiced potatoes.

Then it’s the drive home! Fifty minutes up the canyon and it’s like I’m on vacation. (It’s more like thirty-five, if I’m honest about how fast I drive.)

Soon after I got home, we worked on the French drain for our house. If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself lucky! It involves being in a dirty/muddy trench, shoveling rock into said trench, laying a giant hose with holes in it over the rock, and covering that with more rock and weed barrier fabric. It’s dirty, back breaking work, and it’s been the song on my life lately, Not the French drain specifically, but some form of manual labor that I should have paid someone else to do. Or fixing the mistakes of those I did pay. Oy. By the way, this is the stuff I’m counting as my fitness. Because shoveling rock and hauling timber is absolutely a workout!!

Blech.

When we’re hungry enough, we put away the shovels, heat up our dinners, and turn on the iPad for a little Hulu or Netflix. I may not have indoor plumbing, but I have internet, darn it! We’ll watch an episode of something (Claws is the current favorite), and relax until bed which is somewhere between 9:00 – 10:00.

My night routine includes another cup of Earl Grey. I make a 16 oz cup and all is right with the world. For some unknown reason, the caffeine doesn’t keep me up. I’m a GREAT sleeper. I usually dream about finally moving into my house!

That little red box has been home since January.

There’s a sample of what it’s like to build your own home and to live in the mountains. It’s an adventure every day! Overall, it’s wonderful (once it’s almost done)!

Letting It All Go

Howdy, folks!! I’m checking on from my hiatus, and I’ve got BIG STUFF to talk about. Primarily, what are the take-aways from facing your biggest fears and failures? Like I said, it’s heavy stuff, but it’s good stuff! Some nights, you cry yourself to sleep. Some days, you tune into this weird nirvana that comes with resignation that failure might be waiting down the road. Been there before? I thought maybe so.  So here, click and listen to me drop some soul-foody truths on facing our toughest challenges.

 

 

 

When to Tell Your Doctor They’re Stupid

Because sometimes doctors DON’T know it all. I learned how to advocate and be more proactive recently when I wasn’t getting the care I needed. Maybe TMI, but hey, #normalizeperiods right? Take a lesson from me, and also look at the pretty river! The ice is melting and spring is coming!!! #rednosedontcare #nomakeupsowhat

How To Not Die In The Mountains

One of my goals this year is to do more adventure sports. Adventure sports are activities I used to refer to as “outdoors-y”, but “adventure sports” sounds so much cooler. Everyone where I live is “outdoors-y” so I was surprised to learn that isn’t what it’s really called. That’s one of many things I learned at some recent classes I took through REI and Alpine Rescue Team, classes I highly recommend!

The Maroon Bells

First, I took a “Cross Country Skiing Basics” class at my local REI store in Boulder. It was free, so I was a little concerned it was actually a giant sales pitch in disguise, but it wasn’t at all! What was great about this class was I learned what type of skis I would need for the area around my new neighborhood. I also learned what type of clothing I’d need and how to properly layer everything. Technically, I will be “backcountry skiing” which sounds a bit scary to me. This is where I should divulge that I’m a Colorado native who’s skied twice in her life, and neither of those times were in the last twenty five years. Come to think of it, that might be how I die in the mountains.

This will absolutely be me.

Next, I took a “Women’s Snowshoeing Basics” class, again through my local REI store. They offer lots of classes on various topics, so check your local store’s calendar. Like the XC skiing class, this one also taught me what types of snowshoes go with what type of terrain, as well as what type of clothing was best depending on the weather conditions at the trail head and at the higher elevations. The weather can be very different at each location and change quickly when you’re high in the mountains. Layering is the key to regulating body temps and avoiding hypothermia, and so is blocking wind and moisture. Luckily, the instructor said that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, so guess which adventure sport I’ll be taking up first?

Coco hates the cold. Lily just loves the sled. #seniordogs

The last class I took was a “Map and Compass” class, and it was the one I was most excited for. It was hosted by Alpine Rescue and it taught how to navigate by, you guessed it, map and compass! They also taught us how to triangulate your location using nearby landmarks. My sister, Carla, who is my frequent hiking partner, came with me. Not only is this a great skill to have since we spend so much time hiking, but we are planning our June trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and plan to do at least four hikes in those unfamiliar Parks. We don’t plan to stray from the trails, but safety first, yo! This skill does require some practice so she and I will be “hitting the maps” soon. What’s awesome is Alpine Rescue is an all volunteer organization and they will come save you on the mountain 24/7, 365. If there is a similar organization in your area, consider making a donation to support their efforts.

Shots I snapped driving to the map & compass class. Elk!

These classes were fun and informative, and they gave me so much more confidence to get outside, especially in the winter! I will probably need to win the lottery before I can take up any type of skiing, but snowshoeing while a bit out of my comfort zone is something I want to try.  I always wanted to learn how to navigate because you just never know what can happen. It’s one of my two big fears about the mountains, and I feel like I conquered it a little. With practice will come confidence. It feels good to push myself!

 

How do you like to push yourself? What new skill have you always wanted to learn?