One of my all time favorite Ted Talks is Brene Brown (no relation – I wish!) and her talk on vulnerability and its link to happiness. I know following the heels of my divorce and the subsequent Very Bad Year, it took me a long time to lay down my armor and be truly open to others. And being from Maine, I think that sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing of all, especially for those of us raised with a ‘pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps’ mentality.
What do you think? Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable?
This week on Follow Me Friday, I’m sharing some of my favorite Pinterest Waffle Recipes and ideas. As a busy working mom, smoothies are typically my go-to for a quick, healthy breakfast I can grab on my way out the door. However, some mornings I want something more substantial – something I can smother in maple syrup or homemade jam. Waffles and pancakes are typically reserved for the weekend, but when I am feeling ambitious in the kitchen, I will mix up an extra large batch of batter and make plenty to spare.
I’m currently in LOVE with the waffle maker my kids got me for Christmas. I’ve made regular Belgian Waffles, Sweet Potato Waffles, Mashed Potato Waffles, Pumpkin Waffles, Coconut Flour Waffles…and the list goes on.
You can see all my favorite Waffle Recipes on my Wafflespiration board (yes, I need to think of a catchier name) on Pinterest. The best part of waffles (or pancakes, if that’s more your thing) is that you can make up a bunch and throw the extras into the fridge for the week or into the freezer, to keep for a couple of months. No more lego-my-eggo boxed waffles. These are tasty, healthy, and budget friendly and fall into my definition of clean eating.
Have you ever heard of the term ‘clean eating’? What does that mean? Is it a diet? Is it like being a vegetarian or a vegan? Google the term “what is clean eating” and there are a variety of articles and sources that offer their own definition of the phrase. Is it hard? Is it expensive? Does it take forever in the kitchen? This week I am demystifying the idea of clean eating and offering tips for helping you clean up your diet.
What is Clean Eating?
What is Clean Eating?Eating Well says cleaning eating is “about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats.”
Most articles I read agree that clean eating is about eating the least processed foods available – this cuts out lots of junk food like chips, sweets, soda pop, etc…However, applesauce is processed – does that mean it’s bad for you? What about cooked carrots? After all, cooking them is a form of processing, no? Is this just another way of saying clean eating is a raw diet? [insert horrified face here]
Processing is important because it can kill bacteria and make food safer to eat – like chicken or pork. And processing doesn’t always remove vitamins and nutrients. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, actually increases with cooking. So when you think processed, think Doritos or Oreos or even the ‘whole wheat’ bread in the grocery store that has a good 20 ingredients. That’s the kind of processed stuff you want to stay away from.
Is Clean Eating Just Another Diet?
There is no official government, USDA sanctioned definition of clean eating (at least not one that I could find). Unlike the food pyramid or the DASH diet, which are backed by big agencies – clean eating is a movement, like farm-to-table, buying local, and slow food. While fad diets like Atkins or Beachbody focus on eliminating certain food groups or restricting calorie consumption – clean eating encourages eating whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Some clean eating rules of thumb I’ve heard about include the 80/20 rule – 80% whole foods and 20% processed and the five ingredient rule – any processed or prepared food should have less than five ingredients on the nutrition label.
Is Clean Eating Hard?
Sometimes. It does require foresight and prep and there is a fair amount of cooking involved. Most recipes I make take about 20 – 30 minutes to cook from scratch. For some people this is nothing, for others, this is more time than they spend in their kitchen all week. It’s really a personal preference. The biggest obstacle between me and a truly virtuous clean diet 100% of the time is lack of prep and planning. I am getting better at it, but often (like this morning) I had nothing on hand to make a healthy lunch for work. No dinner leftovers, no salad stuff, not even a mystery dinner in the freezer to be had. So naturally, I grabbed some knock-off General Tso’s chicken at Hannaford. #cleaneatingfail
Is Clean Eating Expensive
No. I make healthy food a priority on my grocery list and that leaves little room for any impulse buys. After the initial shock of little to no snack foods lying around the house, the kids got used to it. I also try to practice portion control (gah, I know, I know) and you’d be surprised at how far food goes when you eat the recommended serving amount, versus piling food on your plate haphazardly. The amount of food I used to eat in one sitting is enough to now make two or three different meals.
Clean Eating is really just about getting back to the basics – like what people ate before the 1980’s, when we were introduced to chemically processed quasi-foods like like Sunny D, Tato Skins and Fruit Roll-ups. You can find a lot of good, affordable clean eating recipes at The Gracious Pantry and on my Clean Eating Boards on Pinterest.
Did I miss anything? If you have more questions about clean eating or how I do it at my house, let me know!
In six months and 10 days I will be 40. I think that puts me into middle age, no? I keep hearing ‘40 is the new 20!’ and I cringe a little. I didn’t like 20. Like, at all. I was having babies and going to college and was really broke all of the time. Of course, now that I think on it, I am still in school and never seem to have much in my bank account. But I am definitely happier now than I was in my twenties.
There are things about my twenties that I do miss, like my girlish figure. At the time I was convinced I was horrifically fat and unattractive, when really I was just tired from babies and lacking any real fashion sense. My legs were great, my boobs were still where they started in life, my hair didn’t need any highlights to camouflage gray and I never had to bother with make-up. I mean, what’s not to love? Youth really is wasted on the young.
So now, I find myself taking stock of where I am at. I woke up one morning to discover cellulite on my thighs. When did this happen? Gray hair, once a novelty, is now just a nuisance. And my boobs – well, we won’t go there. But with the wisdom of mid-life, I am taking it all in stride. In fact, I feel more beautiful at almost-40 than I ever did when I was younger. Maybe I have a hefty dose of narcissism, but whatever, I’ll take it. 30 years of not liking your thighs is long enough.
41 days ago I started on a quest to cultivate a new habit: to eat a healthy diet that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Is that even possible, I wondered? I didn’t want to go on a ‘diet’ and count calories– it is so cliché to be an almost 40-mom trying to get in shape. But I was tired of my thick midsection, tired of my frumpy clothes, tired of feeling tired. More than anything I was tired of thinking about food. I was tired of thinking about my relationship with it. I was tired of thinking about being “bad’ with some Chinese food or being ‘good’ with some carrot sticks. I was tired of trying to fit myself into a Paleo box, or a cleaning eating box, or no-carb box. When did eating become so judgy? I am good at overthinking things that bother me; food is no exception.
This time however, it was more than a diet. It was more than just losing weight. It was more than just exercising regularly. But I knew that if I threw the term ‘lifestyle change’ out there one more time, I was going to start losing some Facebook friends. So in the rare spirit of not over-sharing, I’ve kept more or less mum on my diet/lifestyle change/ new habit. Now that I’ve reached 41 out of 66 days, I do want to do a check in.
Why 66 days? Science tells us that it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. This seems about right, since most my attempts at diets/lifestyle changes/exercise regimes/ writing schedules/you-name-it fizzle after about three weeks (the much touted 21 day mark). Committing to something for three months though – that kinda scared me – in a good way. I knew from past experience exactly what I was up against. I knew my initial enthusiasm would wane and old cravings would come back. I knew that I could exercise hard and feel great three days in a row, only to want to lie dormant on the couch (with a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos) on Day 4. My inner-self has no rhyme or reason when it comes to eating and exercising. I just had to accept it and figure out how to deal with it.
Enter Jack Canfield (who is not, sadly, paying me to endorse him) and his Successful Principles. I love a good a self-help book and JC is great. Being too cheap to buy the book, I listened to the Success Principles on YouTubeand signed up for JC’s 10 Day Transformation course.
The best take away from the course was an exercise called Transform Your Excuses into Action. You list the changes you want to make (Lose weight) with the excuses that have been holding you back: I have no self control/ I don’t have time to cook healthy meals that taste really good.
Next you have to assess the role that you have played in causing the undesirable situation: I don’t take the time to prep healthy meals, and I don’t budget enough money for healthy groceries each week, and I don’t try to learn many new healthy recipes, I get bored doing the same exercise over and over.
Finally you write out what you are going to do to change the situation: Increase my vegetable consumption to ½ too ¾ of each meal, add weight training for variety, make healthy foods a priority on the grocery list, try out at least four new recipes a month.
Taking ownership of why I wasn’t able to get the results I wanted was so incredibly liberating. It is much easier to wallow in self-pity, or even self-loathing, than to stand up and do something about it.
More than half way to my goal of 66 days, I feel like I am right where I should be. There have been some setbacks and some “bad” days (more on those in another post), but right now I am happy with my progress. I eat better than I ever have, I’ve lost some weight, my relationship with food is better, I am better at being mindful when I do eat. There are still 25 days to go and I am excited to see where I am at on April 23. More importantly I am excited to see where I will be, long after my 66 days are up.
I’ve been dieting/watching my weight/lifestyle changing/ since I was about 13. That’s 26 years of thinking about food, my waistline, feeling bad about eating, eating to feel better, using food to cope, using food as a reward…I think I’ve done it all. I’ve tried no carbs, low carbs, low fat, low calories…I’ve tried eating clean, paleo…I even throw in regular exercise now and then. And you know what? It. Is. Exhausting.
Most days I like what I look like. I don’t mind that my stomach isn’t taut – it’s carried four babies. I don’t mind that my arms and legs aren’t more toned or that my boobs are no longer where they started in life. Most days I’m pretty confident. However, occasionally, I’ll see something and it triggers the insecure 13 year old me – that I will never look like the girls on tv or in magazines. Yesterday I was watching a marathon of Salem on Netflix and there are some pretty racy scenes showing almost-nudity. The main character, Mary Sibley, a witch, is played by british actress Janet Montgomery. And she is beautiful. Bee-U-TEE-Full. Instead of just appreciating her beauty, I felt bad about myself. I felt bad that I didn’t take care of myself better, that I didn’t look like this woman, who is paid to look good. Who knows? If my job depended on keeping myself in tiptop shape, maybe I would work harder at it.
I’m at a point in my life – almost 40 – where I have gloriously let go of the idea of the perfect body. I am not even fooled by the “Strong is the New Skinny” mantra that companies like Beachbody put out – so that now women can feel bad that they aren’t ripped as well as thin. I eat better and exercise because it makes me feel better. I feel like crap when I eat crap. So I try not to eat crap. I don’t know if it is my age or my metabolism slowing down, but if I tried to eat an entire pepperoni pizza in one sitting, I would die. My body is just pickier than used to be. Thankfully.
I guess I am a work in progress- and will probably always be. And I will always be searching for that sweet spot between self-approval and self-improvement.
What about you? Do you like what you see in the mirror?