Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dear Parent, You Need to Put YOU First...

Now from the title I feel the backlash coming... the sacrifice you accept when you become a parent, your husband should be first, God should be first, etc... and although I appreciate the quick, harsh comments without reading what I say other than the title, please read on... and feel free to disagree at that point, I disagree that the previously stated things that should be first, so let's agree to disagree and move on with life. :)

Dear Parent,

For most people, and I assume you, there are three main priorities as an adult after children: Family, Work, Health. (Priorities being different from the responsibilities everyone has- like laundry and cooking.) We tend to put them in the previously stated order, and that is what I am urging you to change. I hear it all the time, mostly from my friends and their co-workers- you are far too busy taking kids here and there, making dinner, doing laundry, caring for everyone, etc. that you therefore eat McDonalds on the way to work, after all the drop-offs of course, and spend time on the internet perusing the latest diets, pills, wraps, supplements, whatever, that will waste your money and not get you any closer to where you were before kids...and get judgement from these oh-so-lucky CrossFitting people who, while not having kids, are going to the gym daily. I hear it in my mom-group... women who have "lost themselves" after having kids...they are stuck in a body and lifestyle they don't recognize and don't know how to start again...
Here's how. You need to put YOU before your family. YOU need to be a priority. Selfish? Let me explain...
First of all, I am by no means saying that in a dangerous situation you should not take a bullet for your child or protect them from harm. I am also not saying that you should abandon your home and work priorities and do whatever you want all the time- skip your kid's baseball game to go to the gym- etc- that is misinterpretation of "putting yourself first." I am saying, on a weekly basis, you need to rearrange your priorities to allow, and honestly demand, that you get 20-30 minutes of exercise minimum a few days a week, and have time to prepare and eat something not frozen, from a box, or from take-out. If you can't manage that with your partner so you can be alone, have your kids be a part of it... some days may go better than others with stopping to give snacks and getting in less time and whatnot, but either way I know you can do it... your health needs to be first. Am I suggesting you drop everything you are doing and join the local CrossFit box and immediately start a Whole30 challenge? No. (Although honestly I for one would definitely recommend CrossFit as a great way to get in and out of the gym in an hour or less with a whole-body weight-training-cardio workout, meet great people... but that's neither here nor there :) What I am saying is that priorities need to be rearranged- Health, Family, Work. It is amazing what we have time for when we make it a priority- for example that weekly TV show you never miss.
Usually people tell me that their family is first, that is the sacrifice you make when you become a parent, correct? Well when you put everyone before you, let your health fall last, what does your future look like? My grandparents, all of them, were deceased before I finished my sophomore year of high school, one dying at 51 years old before I had the chance to know an apparently great man... If your health deteriorates, or you die prematurely, you are not what you wanted to be for your family you sacrificed so much for. I am going to go out on a limb here, but I assume you want to be around to see your grandchildren, and possibly great-grandchildren, therefore, you need to be alive. But I want you to go further, better than just being alive, don't you want to be able to get up and down off the floor with those grandchildren, play with them, go to their events, etc.? I bet you do.
My Mom with Charlie at the Gym

The second major reason you need to put you first is for your mental health. Arguably as important as your physical health. I have noticed (and my husband would agree) that I am a much better wife, mother and teacher when I have worked out. My mood feels stabilized, I have more patience, I am less stressed and I have more energy. Research has repeatedly shown a positive correlation between fitness and increased mental health. When I was a single parent, and now watching my brother go through something similar, it is mentally fatiguing to never get a break. FYI- Work is not a break. There is no partner to relieve you at the end of the day, share the house work with and that is so exhausting. There is so much to be said about the reset you get mentally from just a little bit of time to yourself- a good sweat on a long run, uninterrupted, a relaxing stretch at yoga, whatever it is you like. You owe yourself and your kids that, to be the best you mentally.
Speaking of the children, the third main reason you should be first is the precedent we set for them. When you are pregnant the main thing you want is a healthy baby. We want our children to grow up smart, healthy, and happy. Setting the example that exercise is important, the goal setting, lack of quit, and healthy eating that usually goes along with it is equally as important. It is easier to teach by example, so be the example. I remember growing up watching my parents train for marathons, watching my Uncles and Aunts get ready for annual road races... and that sticks with you. I fail to understand how we want our kids to be healthy, but then step aside, still saying that to them, and allow ourselves to fall apart.
Now I know I fall on the extreme side of things... I work out quite a bit and it is easy for a fit person to judge others- I only have one kid so people tell me "just wait"... but I will say something I have said many times- you really don't know how good you can feel until you really feel good- and I won't let that go. Will I continue to train as much, get up at 4:30am to not miss a day, keep competing? Maybe not. But I will keep my health a priority because I owe that to my family, and so do you.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Road Trip Snacks- Granola and Blueberry Muffins

Matt and I just returned from spending a few days on a houseboat in Kentucky and are gearing up for a camping trip in Northern Michigan- what that means is a lot of time in the car! I am a fan of packing my own snacks and only stopping when necessary. Since we had limited fridge space on the boat, and won't have anything to keep things cold besides a cooler while we are camping, it was time to get snacks ready for roadtripping! 

Now that I have shifted away from a Paleo diet, I have been working on a new granola involving less expensive ingredients, like oats, and clumped together more like the kinds you can buy- and this one is one of the best I have ever made. I have always been a fan of making my own granola because 1) it is easy and 2) it is so darn expensive at the store. Do yourself a favor and make your own!

Easy Granola

- 2 Cups Quick-Cooking Oats
- 1/3 Cup Blanched, Sliced Almonds (or any nut chopped fairly small)
- 1/3 Cup Peanut Butter  (If you are going with a "natural" one or a nut/seed butter, pick a thick, non-runny kind)
- 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- Heavy Sprinkle (1/4- 1/2 tsp) of Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees

1. Mix together the oats, almonds, salt and spices in a bowl. Melt the peanut butter, vanilla and maple syrup until smooth.
2. Add the PB mixture to the oat mixture and try to cover all the pieces. Spread onto a parchment-lined, or greased, baking sheet and press down slightly with your hands or spatula so it sticks together, this makes for bigger pieces of granola.
3. Bake 18-20 minutes. At the half-way point, turn the granola in large sections if possible and press it together again. Take it out when it is slightly browned, it burns quickly and hardens as it cools so don't walk away! Once it has completely cooled, break it into pieces. I store mine in mason jars.

Kodiak Cake Blueberry Muffins

(Makes 12 muffins)
Kodiak mix is a higher protein, lower carb, "pancake and waffle" flour that is awesome for a variety of recipes, including the donuts I posted about a few weeks ago. It is available at pretty much every grocery store near me now, and even at Costco! It is found near the Bisquick and other pancake powders. I use the higher protein blend. These muffins are not super sweet, which I prefer, but are perfect on the road and easy for Charlie to help me make. 

 - 2 Cups Kodiak Power Cake Mix
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Egg
- 1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar (or brown or refined or any kind)
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
- Pinch of Salt

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Fill a greased or lined muffin tray- they might be close to full and thats ok. Bake 18-20 minutes and remove from the pan for cooling. 

Nutrition Facts
Servings 12.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 111
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g2 %
Saturated Fat 0 g1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 2 mg1 %
Sodium 141 mg6 %
Potassium 50 mg1 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g37 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g14 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 6 g11 %
Vitamin A0 %
Vitamin C2 %
Calcium6 %
Iron3 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.