November 13, 2016

I'm With You

Ripple Effect

Back in College, one of my Professors gave us an assignment called the "Be the Change" project. It was a conflict resolution class and we were learning about our greater impact on the world. It was a great experience in group project management and ultimately providing some needed service to our then Hawaiian community. But what has always stuck with me is the idea that individuals are powerful. And that all the change that needs to happen in the world begins with me. In fact, the ONLY part of life that we have control over is ourselves and our own actions. 

Your power to inspire good is the force that will shut down hate. 

Amidst the spreading confusion after this week's election, I want to add my encouragement and hope for our future as a nation. Despite what the media is spreading, I still believe that there is far more good in people than evil. Your influence matters. How you treat those you interact with today matters. When we see the spread of injustice let's reach out with compassion. 

Each individual has a unique life experience that has brought them to the place they are in life. Some of our experiences overlap and others don't. And that's ok. That is the beauty of the human relationship. We are all trying to contribute the best way we know how. We have the opportunity to shrink or shine as a nation and I still believe we can shine. 

Even though I may not be With Her or With Him, 

I Am With You. 

It's up to us to make America great and I believe we have the power to do it.


July 11, 2016

Strawberry Watermelon Lemonade Slushy

Strawberry Watermelon Lemonade
Strawberry Watermelon Lemonade
 This special little cup of deliciousness was inspired by my recent trip to Costco.  Who doesn't love the samples right?  And this time it was a yummy little paper cup filled with a Watermelon Cucumber Lemonade.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the mix of flavors and decided that I needed to make an equivalent slushy creation at home.  I came home, cut the watermelon into chunks, put it in the freezer and then forgot about it.  Until today! 
So here it is...
The long awaited summer sensation you will be making for backyard parties for years to come.  Cheers to a long hot summer!

2-3 Cups frozen watermelon cubes
1/4 of a whole cucumber
Juice of  1/2 lemon
1 cup Strawberries (frozen work best)
1 tsp chia seeds
3-4 cups water to preferred consistency 

Blend and Enjoy!  Or Freeze for popsicles 



January 30, 2016

Day 30: The Difference Between Health and Wellness

Believe it or not, food and nutrition are not my highest priority. Yes, I may seem like it, since we are posting everything we've learned over several years to this blog. And yes, I admit, posting everyday for 30 days has caused me to think about and spend more time on these topics than usual.  But overall, when the dust settles... our main goal is not just good health. Our main goal and focus for life is...Wellness.

So what is the difference?  Shelly Smith of Premier Rapport states it eloquently in this way:

"Health and wellness are not synonyms. Health refers simply to a physical body being free from diseases, but wellness is an overall balance of your physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational well-being. Wellness is a lifestyle and is not an end to be achieved. Wellness means that one strives for balance throughout his whole life. On the other hand, health would be that a person wants to lose weight and lower blood pressure. Once he does this, he is considered healthy. Health is a goal one can achieve while wellness is a dynamic concept that continues for a lifetime."

Do you ever feel like you are drowning in life?  As if you can never seem to get your head above water? This experience is not unique to me or you. We all have days or months or even years when life simply won't slow down and everything is just two steps ahead of us. Let me illustrate by sharing part of a journal entry I wrote 18 months ago. Hopefully you will relate:

June 4, 2014 Wed. 10:33pm

"That moment when all of the children are actually asleep….aaaaah.

Sometimes I honestly feel like I’m drowning in my life.  I love my life.  I am a happy woman, but man, life ain't easy for nobody! I just can’t seem to keep up.  These quiet moments only come late at night or early early morning.  I’m not a night owl or a morning person so this is not working for me. So many things get left undone at the end of the night. Housework for example. All the mothering advice that you hear these days (especially from older women) is: let it go. Let the dishes pile up, put the laundry down, leave the clutter and focus on the kids. And I do- most days.  I am so busy taking care of kids- I ain't got time for housework! So, people drop in and of course no one EVER drops in on the one day a week when we do catch up and clean for the whole day. It’s every other day when they trip up the stairs from shoes and toys. Then enter the living room trying to walk over puzzles, books and swimming tubes (which is tonight’s flavor). I guess it’s just life though, right? It’s the sign of an active busy home. It’s the sign of kids doing stuff. That’s good. But it’s also the sign of a tired mama. I’m trying. I really am. I have not given up yet. I love a clean home!!! It feels so good. But most  of the time- it’s not worth the misery of  cleaning it from top to bottom. We have bigger fish to fry. You’d never know, but we do chores every single day around here. It’s just that the mess is alive. Scott once said he heard some clanking around in the kitchen sink and was sure the dishes were fooling around because when he woke up the next morning they had multiplied."

So do you find yourself like me, caught up in focusing so hard on the outside dilemmas, the visible, the physical, the tangible, that there doesn't seem to be time the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual wellness? Are you setting aside daily time to work on what's going on inside?

About 6 months ago, I met some truly amazing people who helped me understand just that. They came into my life at just the right time and have helped me in so many ways. My friends Spencer and Megan Burnside have created a positive, encouraging community and website called Life of Clarity which is dedicated to helping people find the inner peace, balance, and wellness that I have been mentioning. They teach you how to actually implement principles such as: taking time to be still each day, meditation, contemplation, journaling, creating a morning ritual to ground yourself for the day, what to do in an emotional emergency, removing self-limiting beliefs, and how to find true emotional healing.

I have personally benefited from incorporating these principles into a more meaningful morning ritual and stillness practice. And it takes practice! Have you tried to sit in quiet silence for 5 min straight lately? Its harder than you think, but oh so grounding to the soul. This dedicated time has become extremely important to me and helps me focus on many of the wellness practices which I will expound on in future posts. When you quiet the inner chaos, then everything that surrounds you will naturally start to change.  Our mission is to share what we have learned in hopes that your life will be uplifted!

So, even though overall wellness and wholeness are my main goals, physical wellness is still very important. You will achieve more success in all the areas of wellness with better nutrition, exercise, and sleep. But we don't want you to stop there. There is MORE.

Not the, "oh great, more boxes to check off of my to-do list" kind of more. But more as in a bigger picture more. More as in you are more than just your daily list of tasks. You have the ability to tap into a power that is higher and greater than yourself, and yet deep within you at the same time.

We still have so much to learn. We are dedicated to this blog project and we encourage you to share, comment, question, learn, and teach right along with us. And keep coming back for more...

XO, Heather

#NewYear #Food #Health #Balance
#MoreFoodLessCrap @MorFoodLessCrap

January 29, 2016

Day 29: Live a Little

Hiker at sunset
So, what's this all for?  Why such an emphasis on good health and nutrition? In his post Let's Get Real About Life, Scott asked some of these hard questions and does an excellent job answering them from his perspective. Is all of this effort really worth it? Is this what life is really about? Should we really be giving such a huge amount of time and attention to something that in the end, is going to die anyway? Why all of the fuss? Today, I would like to share more of my perspective on why I'm starting to make better choices about my health and nutrition.

"Come on, live a little." I hear this from time to time in regards to food and health. And why not? Why not just live life, love the people we love, enjoy the foods we want to, and leave the rest to fate. That is all we really want to do right? None of us truly want to spend our precious time planning and executing all of this health stuff do we?

The truth is, that our bodies need our attention.  They are like children. Attention is a non-negotiable reality for kids. They need it and they will find a way of getting it every single day, even if they need to act out to get our attention. They also need a certain amount of control each and every day, which is another post altogether.  Now, whether or not the attention they get is positive or negative largely depends on how we as parents approach them. Anyone who has cared for a small child and received a phone call in the afternoon knows exactly what I am talking about. Their world is shattered when they realize they are not the center of it. They will wreak all kinds of havoc in those 2 mins just to make sure they have not been abandoned and forgotten.

Yoga PoseOur bodies are much the same way.  Your body's need for attention is non-negotiable.  Whether the attention is positive or negative is up to you.  Yes, all of us in some form or another will experience illnesses or trauma to our body not at all brought on by nutritional factors. But don't you think that your experience during those times could be made easier and the burden lighter if your body was stronger and healthier to begin with? Doesn't bedtime always go much better for children when we choose to spend 10 or 20 minutes reading to them? Their needs are met and their willingness to cooperate is 10-fold. Whether we like it or not, our bodies require our attention. Wouldn't spending 45 mins in daily exercise and meal planning be easier than hundreds or thousands of hours sick in bed, in doctors offices, or generally feeling like junk? When your body needs attention, it will eventually demand it and throw a fit.

I believe it all comes down to balance. Like the two sides of a scale, we strive to place our line in the middle. Life happens and it doesn't always work out that way, but we strive.  Tomorrow I want to talk more about that balance and giving attention to the things we cherish most. For me it is my God, my loved ones, and my body.  When you feel good it's much easier to do good.  And that is the motivation. I want to be able to do good things and fulfill my potential while alive. 

And in the end, I don't just want to live a little. I want to live a lot.

xo- Heather
#NewYear #Food #Health #Balance
 #MoreFoodLessCrap @MorFoodLessCrap

January 28, 2016

Day 28: Let's Get Real About Life

Let's get real about life. Like fo' reals. We all have bad days. No human is immune. We all struggle. We all wonder if its worth the hard work. For those of us working full-time jobs, we wonder if slaving away to meet deadlines and increase success and sales is worth exchanging 50% of our life for. For those who are full-time students you wonder if the 4 years of mind-numbing lectures, reading assignments, group projects, and late night cramming sessions are worth that magical piece of paper that we spent $100,000 to obtain. 

Well, it's no different for those making a valiant effort at exercise and eating healthy. You have bad, challenging, struggling days. You wonder if it's worth all the hard work. Why am I eating like a bird and running like a rodent in a cage, so that I can be thin and dainty? Is it worth it? If you're single, dating, and trying to find your true love, then perhaps you have more motivation. But if you're past that stage, whether married, maid, or widowed (guys included), then what? Why can't I just sit back and watch TV and eat whatever I want? After all, we are all at risk of disease and death. Skinny people, athletes, health gurus, doctors, and nutritionists, they all get cancer too. They get in car accidents, they have heart attacks, they have strokes, they get struck by lightning. They die like the rest of us. In fact, we are all going to die. None of us are getting out of this place alive.

So then why all the emphasis on healthy eating and exercise? Is it because you want to increase your odds of living longer? How long do you want to live for - 70 years, 80, 90, 120? The global life expectancy average age has risen to 70 years old, with some countries over 80. Check out the chart below from this website. It has been rising about 25 years per lifetime. That means for those born around the year 2000, the average age will be 100 by the time they pass on. Which also means that the oldiest and moldiest will make it to 125 or 130. Can you imagine? The year 2130 with hover boards and Jaws 10. My great grandmother, old mother Hubbard, was born in 1888 and lived until 1993. She died at 105. Four out of her six kids were all alive into their mid nineties. I have two grandparents alive in their nineties. So did my wife. So 125 is a very real option for us. How do you feel about that?

Life Expectancy Chart from Max Roser on

Contrary to what our children often believe, Heather and I are not idiots. We have not been duped by an MLM company. Nor are we not caught up in a big charade of trying to impress everybody. We don't live a pink la-la land of unicorns and rainbows. We just want to feel better. I want to wake up without a back ache every morning. I want to play with my kids for more than 5 minutes without panting for breath. I want to work in the yard on Saturday and not feel it for 3 days. I don't want another excruciating kidney stone. And Heather? She wants her chronic stomach pains to go away. She wants that weird rash on her finger to disappear. She wants to wake up in the morning and feel good about her life. She wants to gain control of her emotional well-being. She wants to keep up with the children for a full-day without collapsing into bed like a drunken sailor. 
We know that some of you want the same thing. But many of you want it to be fixed with a magic pill, or a handful of them. One for the pain, one for the anxiety, one for the heart burn, one for the blood pressure, one for the allergies, one to put bacteria back in my body, and a few supplements for all the nutrients that the other pills leech out of you. We know that. We've been on pill regimens. We've spent hundreds of dollars on prescriptions. We've felt like old people at a rest home making sure we get our AM/PM pills. And guess what? It sucks! It's not fun! It doesn't feel good!

And guess what else we've learned through hard and painful experience? Healthiness and fitness does feel good! You may not remember it, since it was so long ago, but you would be amazed! You know the tears of joy on the faces of all those people on "The Biggest Loser" when their friends and family see them again. And you cry along with them sometimes, don't you? Is there any wonder the show is a national obsession? To think that there is a chiseled person waiting inside every one of those people, inside every one of us? It's frankly baffling and miraculous. What could be more awe-inspiring and amazing?

But it's one thing to watch it on TV and quite another to have to say no to these babies below. Look at them. Take a good long gander at them. You walk into a work meeting in the morning. You haven't had breakfast and this is what greets you. Look at those maple bars, apple fritters, glazed chocolate cake donuts, chocolate frosted (and filled) pastries, and then those beauties at the top with frosting like a nice groomed tropical beach. Wouldn't you want to stuff one of those down? Maybe one at the start of the meeting, one during intermission, and one as you're heading out the door. What's the harm? Oops, I took 3 days off of my life for 3 donuts. Big deal. It was worth it. I lived that way my whole life. I pigged out.

Do you know how the whole month of January has been in our house? One long round of sickness. Here we are stuffing ourselves with veggies and salads and we are all taking turns getting sick. But you know what? This happens every January. We get a cold and then the flu. I dream of a year of this not happening. But how do you fix it? How do you strengthen your immune system? Are you sick of colds and coughs that linger for 6-10 weeks? Are you tired of migraines and joint pain? Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? I am.

How does it feel to roll out of bed at 6am when it's 10 degrees outside, for 5 months out of the year, and climb in the car and drive to the gym? Do you think that is fun for anyone? Do you think its in any way enjoyable on that car ride? It's not. Or walking through the icy parking lot, trying not to fall down or get hit by other drivers just as tired and grumpy as you. The pool water is not a balmy 90 degrees. It feels somewhere in the high 60's, though I'm not quite sure what it really is. We know that your favorite exercise machines are often taken when you arrive. Or your friend didn't show up to meet you like they said they would. Jerk. But you know what? Most people there are not frowning. They might be focused. They might be tired. But they are not sad and depressed. They start exercising their muscles and something magical happens. They start feeling better. And the longer they go, the more positive thoughts they think. You start thinking, "I could do this forever. I might stay here all day. I might compete in a local event and place in my age group. Maybe I'll turn pro. Why can't I?"

Friends, we don't have it all figured out. We are in the midst of it all just like you, trying to separate fact from fiction. Is brown rice good for us or poisoning us with arsenic? Is seafood good for you or is it pulled out of waters so polluted that you would be aghast? We wonder if the government is knowingly allowing businesses to poison our food, air, and water. Do you trust the FDA? The EPA? The WHO? Your doctor? We wonder if there is any way to protect ourselves even with our best efforts. 

We wonder if it's all worth it, just like you. But you know what, we've tried the alternative, the easy road, the wide road, the sugary, salty, fatty road. And it's not for us. Not anymore. So we started this blog. We're NOT doing it to get rich. We're starting it to help document our learnings and to share them. To try to help sort out what is true and false. To share tips that have helped us. To help raise your quality of life as our friends and family. To help you feel better. 

Our 30 day challenge of daily posts is almost over. We hope you are still with us. We will probably be pulling it back to just a few posts per week and we won't clog up your daily Facebook and Twitter feeds with all kinds of healthy advice and tips. But we'll pop in every few days to share what we've learned. If you ignore us, that's cool. We'll be here when you are ready.

Do you want to move around a little easier, look a little nicer, feel more confident and happy, and have a little less pain? Give it a try. Try actually reading our entire posts. Don't surf them. Read them. Take some notes, some real notes, as in write some things down. And then implement them, a few baby steps at a time. You might just find that this health and exercise stuff feels a whole lot better than you could have imagined. 

Your friend, Scott

#FoReals! #StraightTalk #BiggestLoser 
#NewYear #Food #Health #Fitness #Diet
 #MoreFoodLessCrap @MorFoodLessCrap

January 27, 2016

Day 27: My Experience With the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Detox

Sometimes we come to a crossroads and decide that the way we are currently doing things just won’t work anymore. I came to that crossroads about 3 months ago with sugar. Scott had been off for about a year and asked me to join him which I thought was crazy. But since I had been dealing with a variety of health challenges up to this point I decided to give it a go.

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson bookNow this was not the first time I tried a no sugar regime. In fact, Scott had purchased the I Quit Sugar book by Sarah Wilson back in 2014. I had it on my shelf for months secretly hating the title and not wanting to even open it. But after Christmas of 2014 when I had had enough abdominal pain to last a lifetime, I decided to try anything and everything.

So, for the New Year 2015, I dusted off the book and read the whole thing cover to cover in one sitting.  I was hooked. She makes it sound so easy and wonderful! And so we took our healthy living insurance money and went to work giving our pantry the makeover it deserved and filled it with wonderful sugar-free ingredients for all of her recipes. There was just one teeny, tiny problem. I didn’t really want to follow her 8-week sugar detox program and begin with a clean slate. I decided that I didn’t need to. I just skipped ahead of the challenge and started making the recipes in the back. And by recipes I mean the sweet ones. Made without sugar of course, but which still resembled everything I was used to. Yep, this was going to be simple.  Just replace all the sweet things I normally eat with sugar-free or alternate sweetener versions and I’m good to go right? Not so much.

You see, that part about getting a clean slate for yourself actually turned out to be kind of important. Because sugar is addictive, the cravings get pretty gnarly and after about a week of just trying to replace your favorite go-to sugar fix item with a less sweet version does not work. They didn’t taste quite as good and so it didn’t fulfill my need. But I didn’t realize what the problem was. I had all of the right ingredients, I made all of my cookies and cakes and chocolate bark and had them on hand at any moment. So why wasn’t I satisfied? I sort of gave up after a few weeks and slowly drifted back into my old regular habits, and after a while had completely forgotten about giving up sugar. 

Fast forward 9 months to November of 2015. I dusted off the book again, and went to work making a plan. This time I wanted to try the actual 8-week detox program and see if anything changed. Honestly I was doing it a bit out of spite because sugar and me go way back, and I didn’t really believe cutting it out for some period of time would help at all.  I’ve always slipped back into old habits, why would this be any different? I found out the difference is all about creating that clean slate.

To begin with, cutting out sugar was as hard and as sad as you can imagine, especially since I started the week before Thanksgiving, which was followed by the Christmas season. Yet, surprisingly after only a few cravings were significantly reduced and I felt the chains of the sugar addiction beginning to weaken every time I exercised my control over it. What it really narrowed down to however, were a few certain times of the day when I had the habit of always eating something sweet. I looked forward to and counted on those treats like the visit of an old friend. Coming to those times each day without my sugar fix felt lonely. I had to learn new coping skills including phone calls to friends and family and essential oil aroma therapy.  During weeks 3-5 of the program you give up everything sweet: fruit, fructose, artificial sweeteners, honey, everything. This was sort of a gloomy time for me, especially trying to make a green smoothie edible without any fruit. I cannot think of a time in my life where I had gone that long without anything sweet. 

But I survived. How did I make it through? I gave myself new “treats”. Fine cheese became one of them. I shopped all over the exotic cheese section and started bringing home new varieties. Another treat became shrimp tacos. Yum! I really looked forward to these on hard days. I also bought a few containers of fine nuts – the ones from Costco that we felt were always too expensive to buy. And salads of course. Having other types of treats in-mind and on-hand helped me immensely during those first few weeks of detox.

homemade shrimp stir fry
But, let’s also be clear, this was no picnic.  I learned some incredibly valuable lessons. I learned about myself on a much deeper level. About how I use sugar and sweets and why. I had to face some emotions that usually get buried in sugar. I had to come up with a few new coping strategies for when I am stressed out and frustrated. I had to find new ways to celebrate my daily milestones: schoolwork being done, getting the baby down for a nap, and getting all the children in bed. It was very hard, but so fulfilling! Even during those hardest times, there was a feeling of empowerment. I knew that I was breaking a cycle that had been going on for more than 15 years and I was succeeding!

At week 6, I slowly began to add fruit back in. Adding berries back into my smoothie felt like heaven on earth. I was worried that adding fruit back in would send me back down the spiral of sugar again, but you know what? It didn’t! I had truly re-calibrated my body in such a way that it wants fruit and not refined sugar. I find myself craving a delicious Mexican style rice and bean salad quite often. I find that I’m satisfied with my fruit smoothie more than ever. I’m more surprised than anyone that it actually worked. If I had not lived it, I wouldn’t believe it. So I don’t blame you if you’re having a hard time believing me. You won’t know until you experience it for yourself. And who is to say what the future will bring.  I am optomistic.  And while I am not getting back on the "wagon" of strict diets and lengthy regimes, I have goals.  And this year my goal is to do without refined sugar in all of its forms.  I'll take life one goal at a time and right now that goal is the right next step for me. 

Will I ever taste a chocolate chip cookie again in my life? Will I ever smell the sweet aroma of a pan of brownies baking in the oven? These were some of my biggest fears when starting on this journey. Let me answer that question with the story of the cheesecake.

It was the end of my 8-week sugar fast and also New Year’s Eve.  This called for a double celebration. And what better way to celebrate than with Cheesecake, my favorite.  And the good news was that the recipe came from my I Quit Sugar book.  The crust was a delicious combination of nuts, butter, and a bit of brown rice syrup. The cake was the usual cream cheese, eggs, and cream, also with a bit of brown rice syrup. The cream cheese was home made from full fat yogurt which took a few days to produce. The crust I made a day in advance. Overall the dessert took me about 3 days off and on to make. It was a masterpiece. To top it off I put a homemade berry sauce on top. I was actually scared to take a bite. What if my taste buds had changed? What if I had spoiled my palette and could never again enjoy sweets?

Homemade berry cheesecake
But in the end…it was delicious! It was just sweet enough. I savored each and every bite of my piece. And I was totally satisfied. This is what dessert now means to me. This is how I want to eat sweets. I want it to be an occasion made with ingredients and thoughtfulness. No, not every night and not every week, but not never.   I want the desserts I choose to eat to have been made with love, not in a factory somewhere. I want to eat a reasonable amount of sweets, that are as healthy and natural as possible, with the people I love, as we gather together and celebrate some truly special occasions. This vision for myself is finally becoming a reality because I and my family had the courage to truly let the shackles of my addiction go. This is not out of reach for you. And you know what? I have found that life is so much sweeter without sugar! 

xo - Heather

#NewYear #Food #Health #IQuitSugar
 #MoreFoodLessCrap @MorFoodLessCrap

January 26, 2016

Day 26: Free From the Wagon

old covered wagon

Over the course of this journey to better health one piece of advice that I have learned is that the focus of our efforts shouldn't be on what we are putting into our stomachs.  The focus should be on what we are feeding our brain. Having a healthy attitude about the changes you are making and why, will make all the difference.

I came across a wonderful quote from Holly on the I Quit Sugar Team website:

 “Being healthy isn’t all or nothing. Ditch the wagon altogether and remember that health is a journey...I choose not to get into the “wagon” in the first place. For me, “the wagon” represents a set of strict rules used to control our behaviors and relationship towards food. When you surround yourself with restriction and give food morality, you’re giving food unnecessary power which ends up resulting in guilt and pain for you. Being free of the “wagon” means understanding that being healthy isn’t an all or nothing approach. It’s a journey about understanding what is right for your body and giving it the things it needs to be happy, healthy and strong.”

Its not about whether or not you are on or off the wagon. The point is that you summoned the courage to start on a journey. What is your vision for your health? 

Picture yourself in your kitchen, the smell of your favorite spices wafting from the pan on the stove.  The people you love are surrounding you, each helping in some way: chopping, peeling and adding ingredients to your freshly cooked meal.  No guilt because you are eating exactly what you want to be eating. There is laughter, talking, a little bantering. You are happy.  You feel pleased that you are serving up not just a nutritious meal, but a memory.  And food is what has brought you together.   

supermarket isle
Imagine walking the isles of the grocery store with purpose, knowing that you are in control of what goes into your cart. You are excited to buy the ingredients on your list because you know what you will be preparing for the week. Will you cook every single night? Not likely, but you are working towards something even bigger than your daily menu. You are working towards better health for you and your family. 

This is the vision I have for myself.  I am not on a wagon. I am on the road to better health. I am walking and occasionally running this journey! I am not a passive rider on anyone's wagon. I am not perfect. And that is ok. There are nights when I serve something from the freezer and that’s just fine because I add a few fresh cut vegetables on the side and we all enjoy together. 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand for yourself that better health is a lifelong journey.  It is one step at a time.  It is two steps forward and one step back.  You are good enough to have a healthy body. Better health is not a quick-fix weight-loss program.  I believe that one of the most rewarding feelings is to be able to actually hear and understand your own body - what it needs, likes, and does not want. 

I love the part at the end of Holly’s quote, that you give your body what it needs to be happy, healthy and strong.  Sometimes my body really wants a treat to be happy. And that’s ok. I’m just going to redefine “treat” and find a better way to give a special food reward to my body than regular grocery store junk food. I’m going to give my body what it needs to be healthy, which I know starts with a good foundation of fresh vegetables and fruits.  I’m going to keep my body strong by giving myself adequate rest and exercise as often as I can. 

I am not into fad diets or weight-loss crazes at all.  However, I do believe that at certain times for certain reasons our bodies need a chance to reset. To re-calibrate and find a clean slate once again in order to hear what our bodies are really telling us. For me, doing the I Quit Sugar program for 8 weeks was exactly what I needed to do.  I would love for you to come back tomorrow and read more in depth about the details of that journey and how I believe I have now given myself a clean slate and what I am going to do with it going forward.  I will answer the burning question of whether or not I will ever taste a (insert favorite-can’t-live-without-dessert here) chocolate chip cookie ever again in my life. 

Just remember, you got this. You are worth it and you can do it! Cheers!!


 #MoreFoodLessCrap @MorFoodLessCrap 
#NewYear #Food #Health #IQuitSugar

January 25, 2016

Day 25: How I Recently Learned to Love Swimming

I didn't learn to swim until I was 12 years old. That is pretty old. Like, it was me and a bunch of 4 year-olds in my class at the Tooele swimming pool. Super embarrassing. And I was the most scared one in the class. The only reason I had to learn was because it was required to be a First Class Boy Scout on my way to becoming an Eagle. And I wanted to become an Eagle. My father grew up in landlocked Utah and never learned to swim. My mother grew up near the beach in southern California. And they settled in small-town in the desert of Utah. Not a place where swimming is a real essential skill for survival. 

In fact I grew up 5 miles from the Great Salt Lake and never touched the water for the first 20 years of my life. Isn't that surprising? I guess that's not so bad, since some people live within sight of it their whole 80 years and have never touched it. It smells like sulfur. It's stinky. It's cold. It's not really for swimming or fishing or boating or for anything but feeding microscopic brine shrimp and brine flies to migratory birds. 

So in high school I learned to swim a little better, meaning I somehow converted my doggy paddling into the side stroke. I couldn't swim without nose plugs or really swim freestyle/front crawl. I went to the water parks with my friends, and enjoyed all the slides and sights, but hated the wave pool for obvious reasons. I slowly was becoming more familiar with the water but was by no means a strong swimmer.

So where do you think would be a good place for me to choose to go to college? Hawaii of course! So off to Aloha-land I went with my brother Jeffrey. There we were living within a few hundred yards of several beautiful beaches. Our plan was to go out for one semester of fun and that's it. I ended up staying for six years, and my brother is still there after 16 years. It's a hard place to move away from. My brother and I each found a beautiful wife there and had children. I tried surfing about 20 times in Hawaii and had about 3 near-drowning experiences. Like as in death was eminent and I thought that was it. Still freaks me out sometimes thinking about it. I also learned to snorkle, which doesn't really require much swimming ability, and even tried scuba diving. I finally enrolled in a beginning swimming class, but never really got beyond swimming one length of the pool at a time without stopping.

Our journey then brought us back to Utah where we have been for the last 10 years. Again, not a lot of need for swimming in Utah. So I'm still amazed that last year (January 2015) two buddies of mine (Jason and Tyler) were able to talk to me into enrolling in a master's swim class at the local rec center. Almost any medium sized city with a swimming pool will likely have a U.S. Master's Swimming Program. For example there are 23 chapters in Utah. Master's in this case doesn't mean professional nor senior citizen. It just means adult. And it doesn't mean post-collegiate athletes, though that is a subset of the program. It is also adults learning to swim, a bunch of men and women training for triathlons, and a lot of 40-60 year-olds trying to exercise in a low-impact way. 

I was only scared for about 5 minutes that first day and that was until I met the coaches. They are all super nice, positive, encouraging, forgiving, patient, and determined to help. I told them I was super beginner and they took it from there. Learning to swim without nose plugs by blowing out through your nose. Learning to swim with your face in the water. Learning how to kick your feet efficiently. Learning how to move your arms smoothly. Learning to not bump into other people or the walls. They worked with me on every element. And I still have a long way to go.

So here are my tips if you are thinking about getting into swimming:

Try it Out - Before you invest in anything besides a pair of goggles, just pay $20 and try swimming 3 or 4 times. Find a lane to yourself and swim some laps. If its too busy then try a different time of day or night. See how you like it. Your first time is always the hardest. It will get easier each time you go.

Think About it - Take some time and watch people swim. It's not rocket science. People of all shapes and sizes can swim. It's the great equalizer. Watch the local high school team swim meet. Or watch some Olympic swimming on YouTube. This is an incredible sport that is one of THE best full-body, low-impact exercises, hands-down, that you can do.

Stick to a Routine - I decided to go three times per week Mon, Wed, Fri at 6am for the master's program so that I could get the coaching as well. I am paying $20 a month to get at least 12 sessions of swimming and coaching. Tell me that is not a great deal. Name another sport that has that price. 

Make Friends - Like I mentioned I had two buddies going every morning who would drive right by my house and pick me up. We encouraged and reminded each other. When you know it's coming you can prepare for it mentally and you get a day of rest between so it doesn't get too overwhelming. If you don't have a carpool buddy, then make one at the pool. Or make friends with those in your lane. Get to know their names and you will be more encouraged to go swim with your friends.

Take Turns - I've mentioned this in several posts because I'm so passionate about it. You boys have got to take turns. My wife and I decided to take turns and she took Tue, Thu, and Sat mornings for her choice of exercise. Sometimes that is yoga at home. Sometimes it's the elliptical at the gym. Sometimes it is swimming. And sometimes it is catching up on sleep. That's totally fine. It's her morning off and she can do what she wants. 

Go into work at 8 or 9am - Unless your work demands that you be there at 6 or 7 or 8am, then work with them. Tell them you are trying to get into shape and have a better work/life balance and want to do some exercising in the morning. Do you really get amazing great things accomplished at home between 4-6pm? Or do you even get home that early? Most of your work problems can get done within 9 or 10 hours as easily as they can within 12 hours. You just won't have time to check your personal email as often or surf CNN.

Invest in Yourself - We took some of our tax return money and invested in ourselves, in an annual gym membership for the whole family. Now all four of our kids (ages 2-10) are taking swimming lessons to spare them the fate of learning to really swim when they are 36. This year we are going to use our Healthy Living insurance money to pay for our annual membership. See this post for more details on those kinds of programs.

Buy Good Gear - Now this is the real surprising part. Swimming gear is very, very affordable. How affordable? Price of a crappy latex swim cap = $3. Price of a stellar silicon swim cap = $10. Price of a crappy nylon swimsuit that fades and falls apart in 4 months = $20. Price of a nice polyester, clorine-proof swimsuit = $40. Price of crappy goggles = $5. Price of great goggles = $10-20. (I would go to a sports store and open and try on every single type of goggles and adjust them and see if they hurt your eyes or head. I found that children's goggles by Tyr felt like pillows on my eyes and were only $11. I'm loving them. So you can get decked out for $60. Now of course you could also invest in some swim shampoo and conditioner, a small padlock for your locker,

Pack the Night Before - Having your stuff all ready and packed the night before will motivate your mind and body, and remove worries and procrastination in the morning. Have your bag zipped up and ready to go with everything and even have your coat, shoes, socks, car keys there. This will make it easier and quieter to sneak out in the mornings and not leave your spouse with alert children at 5:30 or 6am.

Pack some snacks - Set out a banana or half an energy bar in the bedroom or bathroom the night before, that you can eat as soon as you roll out of bed and wake up in the morning. That will give you 15-30 min to digest it before you get to the pool. It's amazing how much that will boost your energy. And then also have a snack ready to eat within an hour after finishing your workout. Ideally if you can get around 30 grams of protein and 70 grams of carbs (differs slightly depending on your size) then your body will convert it into lean muscle mass as you heal from your workout. And food is a great motivator to get up and move.

Well, that's my swimming story. Now I love it. I'm up swimming at least a mile on every workout (stopping 5 or 6 times for rest). Sometimes I'll hit 1.5 miles. My goal is to reach 2.4 miles in one hour so I can compete in a full Ironman distance triathlon and improve my chances of placing in my age group. I have a few more years of swimming to hit that distance non-stop in an hour, but that's ok. The best things in life take time. 

Let me know if you have any questions or have any further tips or encouragement that I left out that would be helpful to beginners. Thanks for reading. We're doing this for you. Take care and we'll see you at the pool.


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