TGIF

Thank God it’s Fall.

This summer we faced challenges that forced us to take a hard look at our expectations, our lifestyle, and our reality. We had to dig deep, reevaluate and refocus on the health of our family.

We didn’t go off the rails with food. I wish we could say that having a few cheat meals or non-Paleo parties taught us that our health is a fragile state that cannot be taken for granted. It has nothing to do with food. While staying squeaky-clean Paleo we learned the hard lesson of how stress can be just as toxic to the body as gluten-filled pastries or a plate of pasta.

It is with relief and gratitude that I write this post to share how we weathered the storm of a stressful and dysregulated summer and made it to a place where we can continue to share our experiences in the hope of inspiring your journey toward better health.

When I reread the post where I regretfully signed off of this blog for the summer, I can feel the underpinnings of stress and anxiety in my words. I can sense the unrest that was setting up shop in our world and the waves of challenges that were forming. The girls’ dance recital, Chad’s emergency surgery, and other emotional stressors in the month of June began to shake our rock solid sense of control.

Reality

Parenting a fairly well-regulated, mainstreamed child whose ASD symptoms stood safely in the distance became upended with the change of seasons. It started with Charlotte’s nighttime wakings and like a switch that was flipped on her last day of preschool, restlessness took hold at night. Limited sleep descended upon all of us.

It was the first hint that the excitatory neurons that cause her ASD behaviors were unsettled and disorganized and had come out to play in the summer months.

Charlotte’s typical mildly defiant nature was replaced with regressive behaviors in unusual and unpredictable patterns. A lack of effort and defiance at ballet class, a loss of skills at swimming lessons, and screaming and tantruming at occupational therapy sessions were windows into the stress and disorganization she was feeling inside.

This unsettled and disorganized state is familiar to us. Charlotte tends to have more ASD symptoms in times of stress and change of routine. What was different about this period of dysregulation was how the change in her behavior effected the dynamics of our entire family and each family member individually.

I can tell you with certainty now that stress spreads. Like a virus that doesn’t respond to your best herbal treatments, it creeps into the thoughts and behaviors of all family members showing symptoms like conflict, exhaustion, pouting, and insomnia, not to mention the marital and sibling discord.

Without the distractions of school and activities the stress is constant–unending from daytime to nighttime and back to daytime again. Can Mommy get a break?

I was faced with the daunting need of my own flailing mental health while managing a household that was clearly but temporarily off track. It was all so familiar and traumatic. Like 2008, but with bone broth, salmon, and grass-fed beef instead of Zoloft and Ativan.

Choices

It was on our family vacation that my insomnia set in, and I recognized my adrenal and mental health issues were at a point of no return. As much as I tried to undo the anxious and negative thoughts that had gotten me to a place of unrest, I couldn’t undo the nighttime wakings and unsettled thoughts about Charlotte and her future that had set up camp in my consciousness.

I had the needs of my kids in my face 24-7, and I was beyond the point of yoga and meditation to help myself and my family. I considered going back on my meds as a quick fix. Numbing the pain would be helpful to my daily functioning, but I knew they would also blunt my creativity and passion for fighting through this challenge.

Digging Deep and Finding the Light

I’ve done it before and knew I must do it again. I reread my favorite self-help author Brene’ Brown and got inspired to Dig Deep. I found comfort and restorative energy in reading other blogs of special needs parents, learning all I could about Autism and regression, and continued to eat clean and get as many nutrients as I could find.

I got smart about the challenges that Charlotte was facing. I really wanted to combine all of her challenges into one big ball or misery and exhaustion, but I forced myself to peel apart the behaviors and address each one separately and deliberately. I made social stories to present acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in a visual format.

I began to feel like there was an overlap in the issues and feelings that Charlotte and I faced–a unsettledness that changed from day-to-day, a general feeling of not doing enough with our bodies and minds to feel fulfilled. I built on the exuberance and excitement that Charlotte felt on our family vacation to the mountains, and I got us outside as often as possible. I plugged into Paleo philosophies that were new to me–beach trips and bike rides, and as many trips to the pool as I could manage. We ventured out to nearby lake for fishing and playing, and we all found nature peaceful and calming like nothing inside the home could ever provide.

Toward the end of the summer, we began to find a rhythm within ourselves again. I had more energy to keep the girls entertained, and I began to understand that boredom was the bane of our existence. A more stimulated Charlotte was a better behaved and more regulated Charlotte. Everything and everyone felt better. It was counter-intuitive to everything I was working toward, but I let go of a strict routine, structure, and predictability, and let adventures and experiences help everybody. I tested my theory and took both girls on a road trip by myself right before the start of school.

I was amazed at the children that I saw before me. A full day of new experiences–from the beach to the zoo and out to dinner, their behavior was manageable and acceptable. I was in control again and having fun. I could feel my cortisol levels dropping as we connected and healed.

Learn and Grow

There were so many times when I wanted to come to this blog and write/scream/vent all of feelings of anger and frustration at the state of my life. How could I let this happen again? What had I done to deserve this state of stress and misery?

I knew you didn’t have the answer. I knew it was within me. I had some growing to do, and I was the only one that could help me with that. I went back to what worked in the past and built on it. Living Paleo has taught me to find strength and positive energy in things that come from natural sources–a good meal, a talk with a friend, and a walk around the block build patience and trust that lead a well of happiness and gratitude at the end of a long road.

The rhythm of the school year is upon us and I’m already seeing the familiar behaviors of motivation for learning, play and a good night’s sleep to finish the day. Boredom and restlessness have been replaced with inspiration and excitement.

While I’m happy to see this long and challenging summer come to an end, I know that we are all richer and wiser for the experience. I will take these powerful lessons and turn them into tools to stay healthy next summer. We will plan to stay busy and active, get outside everyday, approach behavior and sleep with a new perspective, and focus on staying relaxed and connected.

Life’s challenges are seasonal–always changing and deeply rewarding. This particular season taught me so much about my own health, the depth and power of my own strength, and the gifts that are my children.

Blog Slump

20120702-214540.jpg

I have always been a baseball fan and recently I was watching an A’s and Giants game on TV while cooking dinner. When the announcers were discussing a particular hitter’s slump, I tuned in a little more closely. I had never thought about it too deeply before, but I could suddenly relate to the frustration and powerlessness a slumping player might feel.

Just like a player wanting to get a clutch hit or sacrifice fly for the sake of his team, I have similar wants for this blog and how it may help your Paleo journey. I am always hopeful that our experiences with Paleo and special needs will inspire, educate, and empower your family to take action and get healthy. The problem is that while I certainly feel the desire share my thoughts and experiences with you, my own life gets in the way.

The hitter at the plate struggles with timing, mechanics, and even injury, and I struggle to find the time and space for reflection and quality writing while managing the unrelenting needs of those around me. I often visualize the grand slam post that will send you back here begging for more, but I will always fall short of this goal when I’m exhausted and I’m facing more challenges than I can currently handle.

For the past few days and weeks, I’ve considered detailing my challenges around schedule change, dysregulation, and general frustration with the mainstreaming process, as I know many of you can relate to this life I lead. However, it seems to me that I’m at my best when I’ve suffered through the hard times and get to a place where the pride and joy I feel about my family’s accomplishments shine through and inspire your change and resilience. I pride myself on creating a space where you can come to be inspired and informed, not pulled down by someone else’s negative experiences and frustration.

So I’m writing today to relieve some of the pressure I’m feeling around this blog, my life, this summer and all of its demands. I know I’ll feel my healthiest later in the year if I take some time to enjoy this summer with realistic goals for myself and the needs of my family. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote this post about putting your own needs first. I wouldn’t be a good model for overall health if I stressed out about blogging and trying to be perfect for everybody, all of the time.

In all honesty, I feel that if I share with you how much I really love this space we’ve created and how much I really want to help each one of you, then maybe you’ll be a little less disappointed with the productivity and infrequency of this blog over the next few months.

I’ll be back to share our meals and adventures with you. Until then, have a wonderful summer and take care of yourself.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Eating Paleo in the Real World: It’s a Jungle Out There

 

Most people I speak to about the Paleo lifestyle understand its benefits and can see it working for their family on some level. I most often hear the what ifs and what abouts around things like birthday parties, restaurants, grandparents’ house, and even school. In fact, my WordPress stats show me that many people come to this site via Google searches like Paleo lunches, Paleo birthday parties, and Paleo on the go.

Clearly, this is a valid question for most people considering the switch to Paleo, and I completely understand these concerns. So today I thought I’d share with you the crazy-updside-down week that my family and I just lived through. After reading this you will see that eating Paleo is possible when life pulls you outside of the comfort of your own kitchen.

Scenario #1: The Dance Recital

Dana and Charlotte participate in weekly ballet lessons, and twice a year their studio puts on performances. Last December, Charlotte made her performance debut in The Nutcracker. After agonizing over the decision of whether she was ready for a commitment to the classes, the rehearsals, getting on stage, and the chaos of it all, she put our mind at ease and performed like a champ.

Her motivation to perform and endure the challenges that come with it most likely come from the years of watching her sister dress up in costumes and make-up to be cheered and praised by friends and family. Having survived the stress and anxiety of the December performance, we knew she would love the performing experience again and we used what we learned to be better prepared this time around.

On the night of the dress rehearsal, we were told to arrive at 5:00pm. Both girls needed to have hair and make-up done and were instructed to bring dry snacks, not to be eaten in costume. As you can imagine, examples of dry snacks were non-Paleo foods like crackers, pretzels, and granola bars. I entertained the idea of eating an early dinner just before we left, but with a 30 minute drive to the stage, hair and make-up to be done, and a nap for Charlotte until the last possible second, packing food for dinner was the only option. I had planned ahead the night before by roasting a large chicken with lots of meat and baking a few extra potatoes, ensuring easy-to-pack leftovers.

Dana’s Planet Box is shown below. The foods were not exactly dry, but not messy either. I kept an eye on her in the holding area backstage and made sure she used her napkin, didn’t eat in her costume, and washed her hands immediately upon finishing her dinner. I also let her know that other kids would have junk food/fast food, and that just wasn’t an option for us.

Charlotte’s dinner was similar, but catered to her preferences. Lots of napkins and washing hands kept her and the costume clean and her belly full.

Since I was camped out with Dana at the dress rehearsal until 10pm that night (Chad picked up Charlotte earlier) I knew that Paleo food was the only way to survive the marathon of dance numbers I had the privilege of watching. Here’s my dinner:

Both girls performed beautifully and the recital was a huge success!

It’s worth mentioning that the anxiety that comes with hours of waiting in a holding area filled with jittery, young dancers brought Charlotte’s needs for sensory input out in the open. I managed to snap a few shots of her regulating herself in a stressful environment. While these situations are not ideal, I was very proud of her for finding ways to stay calm enough to avoid a meltdown, still remember her dances, and even smile on stage.                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenario #2: The Hospital

On the night of the recital, Chad mentioned to me that his stomach was not quite right and he was feeling pain and discomfort. At 3 am, he woke me up from a sound sleep and let me know this stomach pain was like nothing he had experienced before. We phoned the ER, and he was told to come in with a driver. I made a call to my amazing friend Siiri, and she arrived at our door within minutes to stay with our sleeping kids.

After isolating the pain to the lower right quadrant of Chad’s abdomen and getting a CT scan, it was determined that he was in the midst of an appendicitis attack. We were thrilled to see our friend Dr. Mike at the hospital who reassured us that this was a random event that had nothing to do with diet, lifestyle, or overall health. With a sigh of relief, Chad slipped into a morphine nap and we waited for an OR to open and have his angry appendix removed. 

I checked on the kids and then began to think about some breakfast for myself. Seeing that my health issues tend to center around stressful events, bringing on excessive adrenaline, I knew that some clean food was in order to get me through a long day at the hospital. I fought feelings of panic and anxiety as I approached the hospital cafeteria cautiously, expecting to find nothing suitable for to me eat.

I was delighted to find a bar of warm food with eggs, sausage, and bacon. I loaded up my plate with dry-but-edible scrambled eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, and some starchy carbs in the form of tasteless hash browns. (I’m one of those carb eating Paleo people, and I do much better keeping potatoes in the rotation a few times per week)

After my Paleo breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, I felt much better and Chad and I hung out until it was time for his surgery. After I got word from his doctor that he had made it through surgery, I ventured back down to the cafeteria for lunch. I ordered a bunless hamburger from the man at the grill and cheated with some sweet potato fries (I’m sure it was not coconut oil that I saw in the deep fryer).

Once Chad was settled in an overnight room, I was back at the cafeteria for dinner and asked for a grilled chicken breast to sit on top of lettuce greens and veggies from the salad bar, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When I returned to Chad’s room to eat my dinner, he joked at how Paleo it was and that we should consider a date night at the hospital cafeteria.

While it was surprising to find Paleo options at the cafeteria, it did take a certain amount of will power and focus to walk past plenty of packaged foods and treats that seemed to be more tempting in times of stress and little sleep. Resisting this temptation and eating clean paid off when I returned home at 8pm and found that I had enough energy and sanity to put my very tired kids to bed. I gave huge hugs to my incredible friends Kimberly and Siiri who not only kept my kids entertained all day but managed to feed them Paleo all day as well.

Scenario #3: Junk food at Summer Day Camp

There was no rest for the weary over the weekend at home as I tended to Chad in his recovery, nursed Charlotte with a throat virus and a fever, got my house back in order, and managed my own needs for sleep and rest. In the midst of this chaos, I kept the upcoming week in the back of my mind. Dana was scheduled to attend a week-long day camp at our church, and I had been informed of the provided snacks via email. While we normally opt for packing our own snacks at events where a non-Paleo snack is provided, this situation provided a bit more of a challenge.

All of the snacks were tied thematically to the day’s lesson, and most of them involved junk food, including goldfish crackers, pretzels, marshmallows, whoppers, and other candies. I knew that asking Dana to sub a box of raisins for these super fun activities and treats was too much to ask. She is still a kid, after all.

I talked to her about the situation, and the food options would may have worked fine if it were just a one day camp. But given that the camp was all week and the fever bug was running through our house, I knew I needed a more Paleo option to give Dana the best chance at staying healthy and enjoying the camp.

I remembered seeing a cookie-like treat made with sunflower seed butter in our copy of Eat Like a Dinosaur by The Paleo Parents. I was so relieved to find a quick and easy recipe for Mini Nut Butter Cups. We made a bunch of super-yummy, kid-friendly, nut-free, muffin-shaped cookies with just a few ingredients that were easy to transport. This morning we filled a baggie with a bunch of grapes and a few cookies and sent her off to camp with a snack that she was excited to eat, despite what the other kids had. 

We survived this week and managed to eat clean with the help of our amazing friends, some luck, lots of preparation, and a wonderful resource. It has taken two years, but I can proudly say that we have established a lifestyle around Paleo. We were able to make it work in the most trying of circumstances. So the next time someone asks us about Paleo and all of the what ifs and what abouts, I’ll remind them that it’s not just a way of eating, it’s a way of living.

For more inspiration on staying Paleo in trying times, read about NomNomPaleo’s adventures of living in a hotel room with her family for the last 2 months.

Solving the Mystery of PMS

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are going about your day, feeling like you’ve got a handle on yourself and your emotions and then all-of-a-sudden you’re freaking out and completely overreacting? It almost feels like you’re watching yourself cry/scream/fight in some kind of B movie that you can’t turn off. You feel completely out of control and you hear the voice in your head telling you that you need to get a grip/calm down/relax, but that voice is being slapped around by a force that wants to be reckoned with.

It’s a horrible feeling to completely lose control over your words, thoughts, and emotions. Regret and guilt rush in and take over when the anger and frustration have exhausted themselves. Anything said or done in front of your family, friends, or coworkers cannot be taken back and embarrassment and shame fall quickly in line.

My worst PMS moments have been like this, and the term “mood swing” doesn’t seem to do justice to the range of physical and emotional turmoil that I have the potential to feel. A few years ago, I sat in my psychiatrist’s office and awkwardly tried to describe how I awful I felt each month. I explained that I could feel the out-of-control feeling coming on as early as ovulation, and it didn’t subside until day 1 or 2 of my cycle. I took a deep breath when he promptly pulled out a little book, hoping there was a cure for the worst parts of myself in there. He began to read aloud a list of symptoms. With each symptom I answered “yes” to, my chest tightened a bit, and by the end of the list, he looked me in the eye and announced that I had PMDD. (PMDD is basically a more severe set of PMS symptoms that negatively impact day-to-day life) I wasn’t really surprised and anxiously waited for something…anything that would help me. The only alternative he presented to me was to increase my medications at ovulation and taper off when I felt better.

I was already eating Paleo and was making a conscious effort to use my nutrient-dense diet to come down from the sky-high amounts of drugs that had been prescribed to me at the onset of my adrenal fatigue/depression. It was shortly after this appointment that I sought out acupuncture and herbal remedies to help with the monthly mood swings. I found relief in this practice, but not in the fees that were not covered by my insurance. For the next 6 months or so, I continued the herbal treatments with some relief in the form of mood stabilization and increased energy, but struggled with late periods and longer cycles.

A couple of months ago, to my delight, I noticed that I didn’t need to take the herbs as often. I’d feel fine past ovulation and sneak in a couple if I needed them, but generally felt more in control, and I even noticed that I was actually pleasant to be around during the luteal phase of my cycle. I even wrote about how I avoided a meltdown.

And just last month, I felt a little edgy but still under control during a tense conversation with Chad, so I checked the calendar. You can imagine how I felt when I realized I was 1 WEEK AWAY from starting my period–7 days out, and I was in control of my mood. I promptly reported to Chad, “I’m normal! I am only having 1 week of mild PMS symptoms!” His reaction was a priceless mix of fear at having the wrong response and general relief.

I began to ask myself what had happened over the last few months that could have improved my symptoms so significantly. The answer may not surprise you…liver has been dubbed a Superfood in the Paleo world, and now I can safely say that I agree. In addition to regrowing my hair, the liver has helped with my PMS (I mean PMDD). The best part is that it’s not that hard. You may have read that we have been eating 4-6 ounces of liver consistently every week in our burgers or meatloaf. It’s relatively inexpensive, and we have not noticed a difference in the taste of the food. Click here for the burger recipe.

With a little research and a hunch, I also discovered that these nutrients are required to make the menstrual cycle happen each month.  I was listening to the Balanced Bites podcast #32 on my walk a few weeks ago, and when Liz began talking about how Vitamin B-6 and A were key in synthesizing the delicate dance of estrogen and progesterone every month, I listened carefully, knowing that these were in the vitamins that I used for relief of my symptoms.

What I can conclude is that every month around ovulation, my body strips the available nutrients from my liver necessary for the rising and falling of hormones that allow an egg to drop, ready for fertilization. The mood issues come into play when I’m trying to function without sufficient nutrients. When I eat just a few ounces of beef liver each week, I get enough Vitamin A, B-6, and B-12 to allow the hormones to ebb and flow like they are designed to and there’s enough leftover in my system for me to function normally.

[graph courtesy of Fit Day. Nutrients for 1 ounce of beef liver]

You may be asking yourself why I don’t just take the vitamins instead of dealing with cow’s liver. Somehow my body seems to know the difference between the synthetic vitamins pictured above and the real deal. I feel better in the short-term, but the communication of hormones is interrupted and my period is delayed when I pop the pill form.

I think I may be on to something here as anything I read online having to do with PMS and food has to do with so many women being unable to keep their cravings in check. My theory is that the body is low on nutrients just before bleeding occurs. The body is starving for nutrients and tells the mind to go get food. That may explain why we crave sugar, salts, carbs, and all of the foods we know we shouldn’t eat.

In addition to the cow’s liver, I’ve been supplementing with magnesium for cramping and breast tenderness. Chocolate contains magnesium and may be a reason why women can’t stay away from chocolate certain times of the month. Magnesium is an essential mineral that relaxes the body. We also use it for soreness from exercise and help with sleep.

I am so full of hope and overcome with relief as I begin this leg of my journey toward wellness. I have learned so much about what my body needs to function effectively, and after years of living in a depleted state, I can finally enjoy the benefits of a healed and healthy body. In addition, my girls enjoy the liver burgers every week and magnesium supplements a few times per week. Hopefully, they will be better equipped to win the battle over their own hormones someday.

My New and Improved “To-Do List”

I’m a big list-maker and the To-Do list has always served two purposes in my mind: write an important task down so that I don’t forget to do it and have the things I’ve done that day written down as visual confirmation of tasks accomplished. I love the feeling of getting things done, and I have even been known to finish something and then write it down on my list just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off.

This task-oriented machine that lives inside of me is both a blessing and a curse. I manage to accomplish quite a few things in a given period of time, but it’s difficult to keep myself in check. When I get going on my list, I get so overwhelmed with everything that has to be done, that I sometimes skip meals, stay up too late, or miss out on moments to relax and do something for myself. Oftentimes the blinders that I wear when it comes to accomplishing things keep me from really listening to what my body needs.

I spent years letting my To-Do list run my life. I was sending constant stress signals to my body to get things done and keep things perfect. I didn’t realize how dangerous these messages were until my body and mind had enough. Charlotte was born, and I got so sick with adrenal fatigue and depression that I had to embrace a different mindset about getting things done. The blinders had to come off so I could listen to the needs of my body and re-learn my limits.

The Have-To-Do List

My To-Do list today looks very different than it did in back in my perfectionist, plate-spinning days.  Instead of a list of tasks that I feel that I must accomplish or the world will end tomorrow, I chose a few things that really need to get done to keep my household running smoothly. Typically, I keep a list of groceries that I need for meals for the week, any items or tasks for the girls’ school/therapy/activities, and another list for finances and making sure the bills are paid. My general attitude is that if I’ve covered these things, everything else kind of takes care of itself.

The Want-To-Do List

My old To-Do list was a combination of household items that MUST be done mixed in with personal challenges or activities that were intended to be fun and healthy, but turned stressful with the wrong mindset. Exercise is the perfect example. I used to tell myself that  I HAD to exercise everyday, and I would wrap myself in guilt if I didn’t get to the gym. Now I reward myself with exercise if I’ve finished what I need to from my have-to-do list. I also switched to doing a variety of exercises that I really enjoy so it really feels like something I WANT to do.

I wrote last week about my near meltdown and learned that when I filled my day with too many have-to-do items, negativity and crankiness spill over into my time with the kids or Chad. Whatever I may have accomplished will never outweigh the feelings of impatience around the kids or a pending personal implosion.

So for me, things like blogging, reading, calling a friend, or taking a nap all fall into the want-to-do list. I’m learning to organize my day so that these important tasks get done and have the same importance as the things that I HAVE to do. When a pocket of time opens up, I fill it with something that I WANT to do. It’s a win-win when I take time for myself and get a feeling of accomplishment.

Paleo

Changing my mindset about which tasks in my life are things I have-to-do and which are things I want-to-do has been very powerful, especially when it comes to the Paleo Lifestyle. I remind myself often that we are choosing to live this way. Keeping Paleo a want-to-do item helps keep the demands of this lifestyle in perspective. Whether it’s trying one new Paleo recipe this week or tracking down some hard to find pasture-raised meats, it’s a personal challenge that I WANT to achieve.

It’s a constant work-in-progress to balance the things we want-to-do with the things we have-to-do, but thinking consciously about the choices I’m making for myself and my family are guiding me toward a healthier mindset while being kinder to myself.

photo: courtesy of Google images

The Mommy Meltdown

I can safely say that I avoided a dreaded Mommy Meltdown this morning. Hopefully, you are familiar with this term, and I am not alone and vulnerable in sharing how it feels when life gets so overwhelming and frustrating that I just lose all patience and any sense of calm and get….well, not a lot of fun to be around. I’ll spare you the details and just hope you understand how trying to exist in an exhausted/stressed/overworked state takes only a pouty-faced look from your 7-year-old send you into a full-blown “I cannot do this for one more second” kind of state.

This morning I won the battle with myself. I avoided screaming at the children. I didn’t even have to call and vent to my husband or best friend. I just dealt with it and moved on. I was so proud of this feat that I decided to do an entire post on what I consider the tremendous act of self-sacrifice that it takes to stifle a Mommy Meltdown.

After getting both girls to their destinations (school and therapy), I took a walk and began thinking about all of the things that led up to my anxious and fragile state this morning. There were certainly plenty of things, just as there always are. Your list may look similar, but in the last 24 hours, I’ve dealt with: a surprise insurance bill for supposedly paid therapy, seasonal allergies and crankiness from both children, my husband traveling AGAIN, slicing my right thumb on a mandolin and the annoying bandage that comes with the tender wound, not to mention dogs, meals, laundry, homework, and activities.

What I reminded myself on my walk isn’t necessarily “Paleo”, but just a life lesson that I’ve learned about managing my stress level and my personal health over the last few years. Dealing with all of the above junk isn’t really fun. It’s a pain in the butt….but it doesn’t have to make me feel miserable. I determine what makes me feel miserable and what makes me feel like I’m doing the best for my family. Simply, I am in control of my thoughts, and this is an especially powerful message that I say to myself when I’m having to deal with lots of the pain-in-the-ass stuff.

This is exactly what I practiced this morning when the pouty-faced look was just about to send me over the edge. I went upstairs (where my children were NOT) and realized that all of the negativity from yesterday’s events had flowed over into my mood this morning. When I had that ONE more thing to DEAL with, I felt like I was losing control of everything. It took tremendous self-control and self-discipline to walk away from a situation that was clearly getting under my skin, but I did it and it worked. I got control of my thoughts. I also made my bed and took a few deep breaths. When I felt better, I went back downstairs and dealt with what else needed to be done before getting out the door.

When I had a moment to myself, I took my walk, listened to Paleo Solution #125 on my ipod, and felt a little lighter knowing I only had to deal with the meltdowns of others, instead of my own, for the remainder of my day.

illustration: courtesy of Google images

Courage: Paying It Forward

A few weeks back when I did this post on food addictions, I mentioned that I would share my tips with you how to embrace being the crazy mom who doesn’t feed your kids Goldfish crackers like everybody else does. I’ve had many thoughts stirring in my head since then trying to figure out a way to write about how hard is it to be different from other parents, but how important it is to be true to yourself and the desire you may have to move forward on your Paleo journey.

I hadn’t put any words to paper on this particular post, mostly due to a lack of time, but also because I wasn’t really inspired to do it. Yesterday I became inspired by the post below from fellow Paleo bloggers, Stacy and Matt of Paleo Parents. They have a successful blog and cookbook and have been on a crusade to help other families achieve the success they have had. Since beginning their Paleo journey, Stacy and Matt have lost 200 pounds between them and their kids have seen tremendous benefits in their overall health and behavior.

 http://paleoparents.com/featured/the-fattest-people-in-paleo/

What I love about their blog is how courageous and truthful they are about their journey. They bravely share their before and after photos, as well as areas of their mental and physical health where they still struggle.

With courageous and truthful actions comes the risk of vulnerability. For Stacy and Matt, their honesty left them open to harsh comments and criticism on their weight and health status. Matt writes openly about this in the above post and shares how he and Stacy accept the risks of hurtful words with the sharing of their story.

I can certainly agree that it takes big acts of courage to be a Paleo blogger. Sharing personal information and photos about your children and yourself is hard to do, even when you believe in a cause with all of your heart. Like Stacy and Matt, I am willing to share our family’s story because I want others to feel the results that we have. The warm comments that come through this blog give me more courage to continue to share our journey and embrace any risk of criticism or negativity, so please keep the comments and questions coming.

I honestly feel like the reasons that parents like Stacy and Matt and myself share our stories openly is because we have learned to practice small acts of courage everyday by living Paleo. The world would be a better place if we all accepted each other as parents and didn’t pay so much attention to what we’re feeding our kids, but that’s just not the case. Just bringing an apple and some coconut chips to swimming lessons opens the door for other parents to ask what your child is eating and why. Bringing a gluten-free treat to a birthday party can bring questions and some looks of concern.

So today I’m paying it forward and asking you to embrace those times where you may be at risk for criticism or questioned for your food choices and push through it. I can speak from experience when I tell you that it gets easier to answer the questions about why your kid has a different snack at a playdate or school function. It gets easier to talk to your pediatrician about the changes you’ve made to your child’s diet. It gets easier to explain to another mom why your child doesn’t eat gluten or even whole grains.

When you begin to own your journey and speak your truths, your passion becomes contagious and the information you provide becomes powerful. These days when I’m asked how we knew Charlotte had a gluten intolerance or why we cut out grains, my straight up answer is “It improved her Autism.” These words are hard to say out loud in a casual conversation at ballet lessons or a waiting room, but they are making a lasting impact on the person I’m speaking to, and they give me the courage to continue to embrace our journey and speak our truths.

So, wherever you are in your Paleo journey, please continue to be courageous like Stacy and Matt, let go of the expectations of others, and own what works for you and your family.

 

photo: courtesy of Google images