Giving It All without Ending Up with Nothing

When I couldn’t lift the toothbrush high enough to touch my teeth, I knew I had damaged my shoulder. The cause of the injury was the usual suspect: doing too much, too fast. My newest love in the fitness world, Crossfit, made me feel like I was suffering from a bad relationship: it hurt, but I loved it too much to let go.

With me, exercise is all or nothing. I’m either sweating and pounding my body into exhaustion or I’m laying on the couch with a carton of ice cream resting conveniently on my chest. I’m either letting my BMI creep up to an unhealthy level or I’m giving it everything I have to bring it back down. So when I was introduced to Crossfit workouts through CaliFit Mamas, my first thought was, “There’s no way in heck I could do that.” (Obviously, that was the ice cream talking.) My next thought was, “I’m going to do that.”

Crossfit is intense. Each morning, I’ll read the workout of the day (WOD), and I’ll think, “5 rounds for time of 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 deadlifts, 20 burpees, and 20 knees to elbows? Sounds easy enough.” And fourteen minutes later, I’m bent over, trying not to pass out as sweat drips from my face to my shoes like a leaky faucet. Whether it was during a billion reps of burpees or power snatches, somehow I damaged my shoulder last week. Sure, my whole body is sore and achy, but it all hurts so good–except for this wonky shoulder. Between my husband begging me, “Do NOT workout today,” and not being able to lift my arm high enough to apply deodorant, I decided to skip last Thursday’s WOD.

My all-or-nothing mentality was ready to abandon Crossfit. “It just isn’t for me,” I thought. “I’m not tough enough.” But I was so in love with the high that those intense workouts gave me, that I decided to do something rather unheard of for me: I went to the doctor. I felt pretty embarrassed to be there for “exercising too hard.” Surely they had people with real health problems to attend to. However, the doctor reassured me that it was smart to get it checked, and she gave me the simple advice that I needed to hear: keep doing it, just don’t overdo it.

I’m learning to find a balance between all and nothing. I’m backing off on the areas that need a little time to heal without neglecting the rest of my body. I might have to take a rest day, modify the exercise, or reduce the intensity, but I’m not breaking up with Crossfit. And the strength I’m gaining in the process is evident inside and out.

20130611-112439.jpgPictured: My two favorite workout buddies 😉

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The Thoughts of a New Runner (Who Is Usually Quite Sane, I Promise)

As I pulled on my tennis shoes, I had lovely thoughts like, “I feel great today. The weather is perfect for a nice 3-mile run.” Or “I’m going to glide like a gazelle across the pavement.”

I gave my husband and the boys a quick wave, put on the headphones, and left. I started a fast walk as I fiddled with my iPhone: music on Pandora; tracking the workout with MapMyRun. And I ran.

As I began, my steps fell in sync with the music. “I could run forever,” I thought.

.25 mile later, my breathing started to get ragged. “Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. I can do this.”

Breathing under control, I turned onto a gravel road and faced nothing but fields and a farmhouse. My legs became heavy, tired. I focused on my arms, imagining they were parts of a machine, pumping and pulling me forward.

The farmhouse was on my right, a small house with several out-buildings. “Probably for storing equipment,” I thought. But I read a book recently about a family of country boys that were buying women and killing them, storing them in buildings just like those. I moved to the other side of the road.

Halfway up a small hill, my calves were on fire. “What happens if they burn right off my body?”

Then I heard, “Distance. One. Mile. Time. Ten. Minutes. And. Forty-Three. Seconds.”

“It’s only been a mile?” I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs didn’t seem willing. “I’ll just do 2.5 miles instead of three,”I thought. And then, “No. Three miles this time. I’m doin’ it.”

Finally, I reached the turn-around point. I paused the app, stretching my calves and catching my breath. A truck rolled slowly over the top of the hill. “Oh great, they’re going to stop and ask if I need help. I probably look like I’m dying.” The truck passed without pause. “Well I guess they’ve never heard of small town kindness. What if I were dying?”

I tapped the Resume button and started running again. “Halfway done. I can do this.”

My thoughts wandered until I heard, “Distance. Two. Miles. Time. Twenty-one. Minutes. And. Fifty-eight. Seconds.”

My calves started to burn again. I felt the back of my ankles tightening. “I can’t do this anymore,” I thought.

The next song started playing: “Die Young” by Ke$ha. I thought about my son. Cystic Fibrosis. Stories from adults with CF, swearing that running is what keeps them healthy. Ke$ha sang, “We’re gonna die young.” I fought back the tears. Pounded fear into the pavement. With each stride I thought, “Not if I can help it.”

When I crossed our driveway, I heard, “Distance. Three. Miles.” I shut it off.

I was finished. I did it. I will do it again. For myself. For my son.

Image Credit: Google Images

Image Credit: Google Images

**Happy Birthday to Yeah Write! Come join the celebration and maybe even win a lovely prize!**


Munchkin Meals: 10 Months Old

**Linking up today with Brittany from A Healthy Slice of Life for this month’s edition of Munchkin Meals! Check it out!**

My little guy is now 10 1/2 months old, and looking and acting more like a toddler everyday. He is standing for a few seconds on his own, walking while holding on to furniture, and climbing on everything his short little legs can pull up on. He can crawl across the living room and be halfway up the stairs in less than ten seconds!

His meals are also becoming much more toddler-like, in that we are avoiding purees as much as we can (sometimes those handy pouches like the Sprout or Happy Baby brands are convenient for on-the-go snacks!) and focusing on “real” foods. With this change, I have to repeat to myself almost daily, “I am not a short-order cook. I am not a short-order cook.” Sometimes it can be hard not to let his CF (cystic fibrosis for new readers) get the better of me. With CF, growth and maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, but it is an important factor for good lung health. Also, once I give him his dose of enzymes (which he has to take before he eats, every time he eats or his body can not process the fat and protein), he only has an hour time frame to eat, and there is a limited amount of enzymes he can take in a day, so if he doesn’t eat well, then I have to wait at least a couple of hours before I can give him more enzymes to eat again. So for that reason, I struggle with the feeding choices. The part of me that is always concerned for his health wants to keep offering him things until I find something that he’s willing to eat. However as his dietician pointed out,  doing that is teaching him to be in control of the food, which can lead to unhealthy habits. I know that this is true from experience: my now six-year-old only ate cereal, chicken, meatballs, corn, grapes, and snacks for the first four years of his life. Why? Because I would give in to his pickiness. If he wouldn’t eat the spaghetti and broccoli that we had for supper, I would make him his own separate meal of one of those things that I knew he would eat. Today, he’s a much healthier eater, but I wish I would have been persistent when he was younger about encouraging a variety of healthier foods for him. And so with my 10 month old, I am being persistent. I will give him a couple of options at snacks and 3-4  different foods for meals, and he eats what he eats. If it’s all or most of it, I feel good. If he barely touches it, I worry a bit about him gaining weight, but I don’t give in go through the fridge or pantry, shelling out food after food until I find something that he will eat. I does help me to know that I still nurse him or give some some formula after each meal, but the amount of that is slowly decreasing, and starting next month, we will begin transitioning him to whole milk! Stay tuned for next Munchkin Meals to see how that goes!

So, what does a day like this look like? I’ve taken a lot of pics to show you! (All from my phone, so I apologize about the poor quality. I’m definitely not a professional photographer!)

Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and a banana. He ate about 1/4 of a large bagel and several bites of the banana, and then I nursed him.

BreakFAST

 

Mid-Morning Snack: Chobani greek yogurt. He has one of these almost every day, because it’s so healthy for him and high in protein. He almost always eats the whole thing like he did with this one!

Chobani

 

Lunch: Grilled cheese and avocado (such a yummy combination!) with strawberry slices and a few yogurt drops. He ate about a 1/4 of a full sandwich (and I finished the rest of it!) but barely tried the strawberry or yogurt drops. A pretty light lunch. Then I nursed him again.

Lunch1

 

Lunch

Afternoon Snack: Honeydew melon, string cheese, and Annie’s Organic Bunnies cheddar crackers. This was his first time with the melon, but he usually likes the cheese and crackers. However, this particular time he was completely uninterested. I did give him a bottle, for his vitamins and salt intake, but only 4oz, because I do not want him to fill up on formula alone. After the bottle, he ate a couple of crackers, but most of this snack went untouched. (PS-I also realized after taking these pictures how messy our highchair cover was that day! Just keeping it real.)

Snack

 

 

Supper: I made Creamy Cauliflower Soup (a recipe shared by Allyson at Domestic Superhero, except we used “real” foods instead of the low-fat versions. We need the higher calories and fat for my little CFer!) and BLTs. He was hungry and crabby before the bacon was finished baking (Anyone else cook bacon in the oven?? So much easier!), so instead of the BLT, I made a slice of whole grain toast and spread some avocado on it. He ate his whole bowl of soup (probably 1/2 cup) plus several bites of the toast. I nursed him afterward, and then he was ready for bed! Being so active (and down to only two naps a day) wears him out!

Soup

 

 

 

AvacadoToast

 

Some days are better. Some days are worse. But I refuse to let the fears of CF run our kitchen. Nutrition with CF-specific supplements will run it instead. And starting while he is young is the key.

Thanks for reading today! Be sure to check out the other Munchkin Meals link-ups for more healthy meal and snack ideas for babies and toddlers!


Cultivating a Green Thumb

Happy Feel Good Friday, y’all!

This gorgeous spring weather is bringing me out of the funk that I was in. I’ve learned since my last post (with the help of your comments, thank you!) that even if I seem to be going no where right now, I’m making small steps in many directions. I’m planting the seeds in many areas of my life, and sometimes I just need some patience to allow them to grow and bloom.

Speaking of seeds and growing, we have started growing our vegetable garden this week! Yes, it’s adding one more thing to my sometimes overflowing plate of commitments, but it’s another step in the direction of healthy living for my family, so it is worth it. Not only is growing a garden as a family fun, but it’s educational and gives us some quality bonding time. There are so many benefits in the process of growing a garden that the end result of being able to eat homegrown fruit and veggies is just a big bonus!

This is our second year of attempting to grow a full garden. Though I’ve grown tomatoes and flowers before, our first attempt at a vegetable garden as a family was last year. Although it started out well, May was hot and dry. When it came time to start transferring the three inch tall sprouts outside, we were supposed to leave the plants out during the day and bring them in at night. We had their spot in the yard tilled up and ready for them to be planted in the yard, once they had completed their transition period. However, one Monday morning we left them outside when went to work, but we didn’t come home until three days later! That was when my little one was unexpectedly born! By the time we came home from the hospital, the little green sprouts were dried up and brown. It was a huge bummer, but in hindsight, having to take care of a newborn and learn about the complex disease of cystic fibrosis that he was born with, it would have been stressful to take care of the plants on top of it all last summer anyway.

This year, we are excited to start fresh, and I want to share our gardening experience with you all. I have a feeling that many of you will give me many more helpful tips than I can give you, but that’s one of the best things about blogging for me is not what I can teach you, but what you can teach me. So if you see something we should or shouldn’t be doing along the way in my garden updates, please don’t skimp out on the advice! And if you’ve never grown a garden before, then we are technically in the same boat, and we can float along together!

Close Families Garden 2013: The Beginning
We began with a plan. We decided what we wanted to grow (what we like to eat), bought the supplies, and researched when and how to plant each type of plant. Some required starting them indoors eight weeks before planting them outdoors, some at six weeks, some at four weeks, and some directly outdoors. So I made a list of what and when to plant.

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Next we planted the first group of plants. My six-year-old helped a lot with this, and although getting the soil moist enough and using a pencil to make a little hole for each seed was time consuming and messy, we had fun! I let him use a spoon to dump the soil in, help pour the water on the soil, use a pencil to mix the soil with the water and make the hole, and then dropped two seeds in each section. Then we covered the seeds lightly with more soil and sprayed it thoroughly. This first group is broccoli, green peppers, onions, banana peppers, and jalapeño peppers. I used blue painter’s tape and permanent marker in front of each row so that I know which row has which type of plant.

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All that’s left to do after the planting (besides cleaning up a big mess!) is to keep the soil moist. We use a spray bottle of room temperature water to spray them lightly once or twice a day as needed. If they get too dry, the seeds won’t start growing so remember to water them!

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Just five days after planting, we have tiny little broccoli sprouts popping through the soil! Beautiful!

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I also sing and talk to the plants, which my husband thinks is strange, but he plays along anyway. God love him. 😉

After we plant the second group in another week, I will give you another garden update and hopefully we will have a lot more green things growing!

Happy Friday!


Spiritual Sunday: A New Path

2012 will come to a close tomorrow. 2013 is just a couple of sunrises away. While the change from one year to the next is brief and abrupt–just one second in the passing of time–each year, it’s such an anticipated moment. When Christmas has ended, we tend to look back on the rest of the year and reflect. We critique ourselves:

  • What did I do right?
  • Where did I go wrong?
  • How can I improve?

After some reflection, we come up with a list of resolutions for the impending new year:

  • Exercise more.
  • Eat healthier.
  • Have more patience.
  • Make time to relax.
  • Get organized.
  • Blog consistently.

The repetitiveness of this New Year’s tradition says something about it’s effectiveness: it’s not effective. Ask any true gym rat (my mom!) and they will tell you how annoying it is at the beginning of January when unfamiliar faces start pouring in. They take over the aerobics classes and occupy the machines until maybe mid-February, and then the crowd starts to dwindle. By March, the gym is left with the same faithful members that were there the year before. The commercials and advertisements shout to you this time of year: Match.com, Nutri-system, Weight Watchers, etc. They prod you onto a path of finding a better you.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t make resolutions. That we shouldn’t strive to better ourselves. I’m questioning the method. If this is your fifth year in a row of making a resolution to exercise more, there must be a reason that it’s not sticking with you. Some might argue that it’s simply a matter of willpower. That’s a possibility. But there could be something else holding you back.

Your mind.

Unless your mind is already on the path to a better you, your body will not follow. If your mind is telling you at the end of the year that you’re not good enough, that you need to make changes to yourself, then your mind is not in a good place. It’s going to convince your body to stop all efforts, and it will succeed. The repetitiveness of our New Year’s resolutions tells us that.

How do you break the cycle?

With faith.

When I was struggling with post-partum depression, I tried getting myself organized. I tried exercising. I tried eating better. But my mind wasn’t in the right place. It didn’t stick. And then I started reading the Bible. I started praying. I started listening to what God had to say instead of what the world had to say. And among the many wonderful things that He told me was this:

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible.

But with God everything is possible.” -Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

The path I needed to find for a better life wasn’t through my own critique of what was wrong with my life, but through seeking God’s purpose for me. It wasn’t a gym membership or a new diet plan, but taking in more spiritual food. The more I come to know God and to follow the path that He has set for me, the more everything else falls into place.

I’m exercising more.

I’m eating healthier.

I’m feeling more confident.

I’m more organized.

And most importantly, I’m following God’s path for my life, because that path has a promise of something greater beyond this life:

This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you,

the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ. -John 17:3 (NWT)

Finding your spiritual path to God is not the easy path. It’s not a quick fix. But for me, it’s the only one that lasts.

I need no resolutions this year, but to continue getting to know God. Once our minds are set on following His path, all of our other needs will fall into place.

May God bless your life and your family this New Year!


Munchkin Meals: Challenges

I’m linking up today (and the first Thursday of every month!) with Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life for her Munchkin Meals! It’s so nice as a mom looking for adventurous, nutritious new foods to introduce to my little guy to have this as a resource every month. I’m always so impressed by the healthy meals that other mamas are creating for their babies! Take a look, and you’ll see what I mean!

The last time I posted Munchkin Meals, we were just starting our little guy (almost six months old now!) on some foods. He has taken to it so well, and we’ve tried several of the basic foods, and are starting to become a little more adventurous.

We typically start out the day with either rice cereal or a fruit. We have a gorgeous, HUGE pear tree in our backyard, that has produced more fruit this year than we can consume, and our little guy just loves it! Both our pears and our apples this year were just the juiciest pieces of fruit ever! And I love the homegrown appeal too.

Big old pear tree!

Pureed pears for breakfast.

Look at all that juice! (Yes, I was so set on making sure I got pictures for the post that I forgot his bib. Whoops!)

We aren’t doing a lunchtime feeding yet, but we have started doing two meals a day, so he has dinner. He has mostly been getting either a fruit (if he didn’t get one for breakfast) or a vegetable for dinner. I made a pear-pumpkin combo that he really liked! But yesterday we tried something new: quinoa! He did so good with it, even though I didn’t puree it. I am impressed with this little guy’s eating skills.

This is the small portion that I gave him. He ate it all!

It does take him longer to chew it and swallow, so it’s a lot slower-paced meal than the purees, but he does so good! Chew, baby, chew!

I think he does so well with the chewing, because he has been taking his enzymes on a spoonful of applesauce since he was three weeks old. He has to take these before every feeding, breastmilk or foods, so I always nurse him after each feeding (and for a total of seven times each day) to make the most of these enzymes! Thank God for health insurance, because these little suckers are expensive!

 

“Just a spoonful of applesauce helps the enzymes.. go down..” (Mary Poppins reference. Hehe!) 🙂

We have also introduced a sippy cup with water, and he can drink from it like a pro too!

Trying to do it himself…

He drinks great, as long as he gets some help tipping it up!

So far, feeding our little guy has actually made things a bit easier than made any new challenges. Now that he is eating foods, we put his daily amount of salt mixed in with whatever he is eating instead of having to make a two ounce breastmilk or formula bottle to put the salt in. Not having to pump and make a bottle has made things much easier in that aspect of his needs. However, I think the biggest challenge we will face with our little one’s diet is getting all of the high-calorie, high-fat, and high-protein in each and every day. It’s so important for his growth. I grew up in a home where my father was a diabetic, and therefore, we always had low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar diets, so this CF diet is a completely different way of thinking about food for me. It’s going to be tough at times to prepare foods, especially as he grows and starts to eat what we eat as a family, that have the full fat for him, but yet a normal diet for the rest of the family. But with everything else, it’s a learning process, and we have a great dietician at his CF clinic that I know will help us along the way! And thanks to Munchkin Meals, I find tips from other moms for foods that are naturally high in these things that our little one needs to give him the healthiest start possible!

Thanks for reading! Any suggestions would be so appreciated! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 


We’re All in this Together: Blending in Special Medical Needs

When one person in the family has an illness, it can sometimes be difficult not to single that person out. We say all the time that we don’t define our son by his disease, but at the same time, there are certain precautions that we do need to take in order to give him the healthy life that he deserves. But how do you do this without singling out the person with the illness? Here are some tips that work for our family, and although our needs are catered to our little guy’s cystic fibrosis, many of these ideas can be helpful for other families who have a loved one with special medical needs.

  • We try to be as matter-of-fact about any changes or special needs as possible. We do our best not to place emotions with our son’s needs in order to prevent him from getting unnecessary sympathy, sadness, or fear. Instead of asking our older son to wash his hands when he comes home from school, because we’re afraid that the germs might our little guy sick, we ask him to wash his hands, so that the germs from school stay at school.
  • Whenever possible, we make the changes for the benefit of all of us. It is certainly much better for our little guy if everyone washes their hands more often, and we avoid going to places that allow smoking. But it’s healthier for all of us too. There’s no need to say, “We shouldn’t eat there, because our baby can’t be around smoke.” It’s just better for our family if we choose a smoke-free restaurant. When our little guy needs to get exercise, we can go for a walk or play soccer in the backyard as a family, because exercise is healthy and important for everyone. Never mind the fact that it helps to keep our little guy’s lungs clear.
  • If there is a special need that does not apply for the rest of the family, we do our best to let it blend in to the rest of the family’s routine. Our little guy is going to have a specific diet with higher amounts of calories, fat, protein, and salt. We have already mentioned this to our older son when we first explained cystic fibrosis to him, and his reaction was, “Aw, man! But I like salt! I want extra salt too!” That’s an understandable reaction from a child. But how do we try to keep our meals from being focused on the differences in what we are eating? This is where some creativity is involved. We can find ways to cook one meal, but add extra calories like butter or oil and extra salt to our little guy’s portion before serving the meal. That way, each boy could add a little salt to their food at the table, but neither of them would realize they were eating anything different.
  • We can embrace the differences as a family. During treatment times, hospital stays, or long doctors visits, we can find ways to make those bonding times as well. On Monday after our little guy’s two-hour clinic appointment, we spent the afternoon at the zoo. During hospital stays (which we have not had yet, praise Jesus!), we could bring lots of games to play, books to read, and movies to watch together. During breathing treatment times, we watch a favorite TV show. When it’s more about family bonding time than the medical need itself, those important needs are being met, but they sort of fade into the background.
  • We all get involved. I do most of the care-taking for our little guy’s needs during the day when my husband is working and my older son is at school, but in the evenings, my husband helps with treatments and medications. We also let our older son help with treatments–turning on the breathing machine, keeping track of the time with the stopwatch during PT, etc–so that he feels involved too.

Today at my older son’s school, the health department was providing a free flu vaccine for each student. Most of the students were able to get the vaccine in the form of a nasal mist. However, it is not recommended for those who will be around someone with a weaker immune system. Therefore, my son needed to receive the injection, but our little guy’s CF doctor suggested that we didn’t tell him, “You have to get a shot because of your brother.” So I thought all day about how to tell him he needed to get the shot, when he knew that the rest of the kids were going to get the mist, without putting the blame on our little guy. I ended up telling him that we thought it was best for everyone if he got the shot instead of the mist, because sometimes the mist can make people sick. Then, I pointed out that his dad and I were both getting the shot on Thursday, and his little brother would get the shot as soon as he turns six months old in November. He was a little bummed at the thought of a shot, but he understood and had no hard feelings towards any of us for it. (Oh, and he said it didn’t hurt, that he didn’t cry, and that he was glad they didn’t do it in his “throwing arm.” We also have a wonderful school nurse who had a couple of the older kids that also needed the shot get it at the same time as my son. They went first and then made funny faces at my son to distract him when it was his turn. She is so good!)

With any sort of special need, it’s always healthier for the family to have a “we’re all in this together” attitude. It creates unity, whereas focusing on the needs themselves creates distance. I’m sure there will be times where our little guy will still feel singled out, despite our best efforts, but the fewer times that happens, the better it will be for his mentality.

If you have a special medical need in your family, how do you create a sense of unity where there are obvious differences? I’d love to hear some other ideas, since we are still very new to this. 🙂