Parenting · Wellness

Are you happy Mommy? Are you happy?

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Remember to take care of yourself first.

There are very few things that have more impact on my child than my own emotional well-being.

Massimo often asks me if I’m happy.  I usually respond, “of course, baby you’re with me.”  He smiles.

The other day, I changed it up a bit.  He ran away from me in the parking lot at school.  It wasn’t a very busy parking lot–no one else was there. But that’s not really the point.  He ran away and pretended it was a game and he wouldn’t come back.  I’m sure that some parent somewhere would have just the antidote to that situation.  But I didn’t.  I chased him until I could grab his hand and then swiftly walked him back to my car.

I didn’t say a word to him.

As we reached the car, he said “are you happy mommy, are you happy?”  In the sweet little voice that only he has.

I didn’t respond.

I put him in his car seat.  I got into the driver side and started to drive away.

Again, “are you happy mommy?  are you happy?”

Finally, I said “No, I’m not happy.  You ran away from me in a parking lot and you did not come back.  You could have gotten hurt very bad.  And that would have made Mommy very sad.  So, no, Mommy is not happy right now.”

He promptly exploded into a terrible cry.  I didn’t have to chastise him.  I didn’t have to really do all that much except tell him that I wasn’t happy–and he was immediately upset.

Now, I’m not certain that he will change his behavior the next time.  He may.  He may not.  I don’t want to set my expectations all that high.

The point is though, that children–even two-year old self-absorbed ones–want their parents to be happy.  My child wants that so much–that when I tell him I’m not–he cries.

It is impossible to be happy all time.  Sometimes life gets in the way of happiness.  Sometimes we just have a bad day, or week, or month, or year.

But here’s the thing–I don’t think that happiness is a place.  It is more of a state of mind.  In order to get to that state of mind, I often employ a variety of techniques.

Here are my tried and true methods of finding a little place of happiness (in no particular order):

(1) A gratitude journal.  Sit down on a regular basis and write down three things that you are grateful for.  When I focus on the things I have to be grateful for, I become less focused on the things that I am unhappy about.  I employ this with Massimo every night–I ask him what he is grateful for.

(2)  Exercise.  It increases my endorphins and my sense of well-being.  It also helps quiet my mind.  I find yoga particularly helpful–an hour and half in a hot room will make me forget all of my troubles.  But any form of exercise will do.  Just find your flow.

(3) Pray.  I’m not the most religious person or “best” the Christian you will ever meet.  Of that much, I’m certain.  I’m also certain of God’s grace.   I see it everyday in my son and  I experience it in nature.

(4) Meditation.  According to a Zen proverb, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”  Meditation is amazing.  It gives me time to just sit still–time to release all of the negatives and just focus on the moment.  It may not work for you, if it doesn’t–just try siting still for five minutes–without interruption.

(5) Journaling.  I find if I write down what’s on my mind, it is easier for me to let it go.  If I can let it go, it no longer consumes me.

(6) Nature.  Being outside in nature has a calming effect.  It can be anywhere–somewhere fancy on an exotic trip.  Or at the local park.  Being outside in nature makes me realize that I’m part of a bigger universe–that any problems that I face are just hiccups along the way.

(7)  Reaching out to someone for help.  This can be a therapist or a friend.  It is just helpful to have someone else to talk about my worries with.   This is why social networks (not necessarily online social networks) are very important to single parents.

(8)  Cry.  If all else fails, I go for a drive and cry.  I cry big crocodile tears.  Or if I am feeling saucy I wait until Massimo is in bed, have a glass of wine and cry those same big crocodile tears.  Either way, when I’m done feeling sorry for myself, I pull up my big girl pants and move forward because I’ve got things to do.

I think it is even more critical to recognize that children are not the person to talk about your worries with.  Children rely on their parents to take care of them and their parents’ emotional well-being is important to them.  They do not need to know their parents’ problems or be their parents’ therapist.  They are children–and if there is one time that life should be all about rainbows and butterflies–it is childhood.

Of course, basics are important.  Sustenance.  A home.  Heat.  Food.  But once those basics are met, a parent’s own well-being seems to be the next most important thing.  If the parent’s emotional needs are met, they are better able to meet the needs–both emotional and physical– of their children.

If you have other methods, please share!  If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please like, comment and share.

Love,

 

J

 

Parenting · Single Mom

The Child is Just Fine, Thank You Very Much.

Before you judge me, make sure your life is perfect.–Clint Eastwood

Older women can utter the most judgmental words ever spoken to younger women.  Especially, when it comes to parenting, lifestyle choices, and appearances.

It is possible that other demographics (older men, younger women, and younger men) harbor the same thoughts but they do not dare speak them aloud.

Older women do not care.  They seem to think that they can–indeed that it is their God given obligation to –tell younger women exactly what they think.  No holds barred.  I have considered that maybe I’m not being fair here.  I could be too quick to stereotype.  We all make judgments based on our own personal experiences–and that’s what I’m doing here.  I’ll explain.

Two years ago, I traveled to a conference for work and took 3 month old Massimo.  During the conference, I attended–with Massimo in tow–a BBQ held at the home of one of the “leaders” of our organization.  Massimo wasn’t the only baby there–in fact–another attorney and her husband attended with their baby who was several months older than Massimo.

Oh, how they swooned.  Massimo was a very handsome baby.  We compared the two babies–their size.  Massimo was larger even though younger–which (by the way) meant exactly nothing.  Everything was going pretty well.  Massimo was well-behaved and there were no major accidents. . . . . at least until one of the older female “leaders” of our organization accidentally opened her mouth.

She asked me about my husband.  I told her I wasn’t married.  Although I’m sure it was quite obvious to her that the fact that I had no husband was not all that important to me–it was to her– and she continued to pry.

“Well, what about his father? Where is he?”

“He isn’t around,”  I responded and then quickly tried to change the subject.  Having none of it, she persisted.

“Well, that’s not good for the baby!” Awkward silent moment.  I walked away.

To be fair, I am not sure she would characterize her interaction with me as an accident.

I was at a work function, with a “leader” of my organization–who by the way–I had never met until that  moment.  Of course, her opinion of my life did not matter to me but no mother –particularly a new mother–wants ANYONE to tell her that the choices that she makes aren’t “good for the baby.”

Here’s the thing, this lady literally had no business telling me what her opinion of my life choices were.  They were quite simply none of her business.  But she hit a nerve.

The story line that single parenting (particularly single motherhood) is bad for children is a time-honored tale.  “Single mothers” have their own demographic–beside which appears higher rates of poverty, school failure, and other “problems” with the children as they grow up.  Indeed, the children of single mothers are destined to fail.  At least that’s what we’ve been told.

In fact, that story is not exactly true–and it does not have to be.

Mathilde Brewaeys from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam conducted a study comparing the well-being of children growing up in single-mother-by-choice and heterosexual two-parent families and found no differences in terms of parent-child relationship or child development.

According to her, “the assumption that growing up in a family without a father is not good for the child is based mainly on research into children whose parents are divorced and who thus have experienced parental conflict.”  Ms. Brewaeys explained “however, it seems likely that any negative influence on child development depends more on a troubled parent-child relationship and not on the absence of a father. Single-mothers-by-choice knowingly make the decision to raise their child alone, in contrast to unintended single mothers. Little research has been done on the specific features of these single-mothers-by-choice families and whether there are differences between them and heterosexual two-parent families in terms of parent-child relationship, parental social support and well-being of the children.”

The study was a comparison of the well-being of children between 18 months and 6 years old.  69 of the children were raised by women who had knowingly chosen to raise their child alone and 59 were raised by mothers from heterosexual two-parent families.

Based on the results of the study, Ms. Brewaeys reported that children growing up with single-mothers-by-choice appeared to enjoy a similar parent-child relationship as those in heterosexual two-parent families.  She also said “a strong social network is of crucial importance.”

I am certain that she’s right about this last point.  It is hard enough being a parent.  Its super stressful to know that you are entirely responsible for the well-being of another human.  That’s why a support network is important.  It is allows a single mom (or dad) to have someone to reach to for help.  It also allows the single parent an opportunity to have conversations and participate in activities apart from their children.

Of course, it is always possible that some of the choices that I make not be “good for the baby.”  But, I think it’s that way with any parent–married or single.  We all try to make the best choices we can make and make those decisions based on enough information.  Inevitably, we will, on occasion, make bad ones but that’s all a part of life–and they are our choices.  Not anyone else’s.

At the end of the day, I know that the child is going to be just fine and I have to hope that whatever bad choices that I make will be just enough to make him an interesting adult.  If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please be sure to like, comment and share.

Love,

 

J

 

#singlemombychoice #singleparenting #singlemom

Fertility

Big Bellies

About five years ago, I began to realize that I needed more in my life.  At the time, I was in the middle of a 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Sure, I enjoyed the ability to do whatever I wanted.  I was quite focused on myself.  I had an active social life.  But I needed more.

I saw my friends and family with children.  I needed that.  There was one little problem.  My life did not support that need.

I meditated a LOT and practiced a LOT of yoga, even more than ever because I was in training. In other words, when I say that I needed to have children–I can tell you that my heart and I had long conversations about it—and a heart knows what it needs.

Around the same time, I had an appointment with my doctor.  I was concerned that I’d never tried to have children (in fact–I’d tried real hard not to) and that my ability to have children would be compromised by my age.  I was also concerned that, because I was single, I would not be able to adopt–should I be unable to have children of my own.

My doctor was supportive and suggested that I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (a fertility doc).  She thought that a specialist might have a test to determine if I had anything to worry about regarding my reproductive potential.

I immediately made an appointment with the recommended specialist.  The specialist did, in fact, have such a test.  The test is called the Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH).

It is a simple blood test that determines something called “ovarian reserve.”  Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs.  Both the quality and the quantity of those eggs decrease with age.  The Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles).   “Ovarian reserve” then is the estimated number of follicles that you have left. . . . or something like that.

At my appointment with the specialist, she took a sample of my blood and a lab performed that test.  That part was easy enough.  About a week later, I received a phone call from the specialist’s receptionist advising me of the results of the test.

According to the receptionist, the test revealed that I had a diminished ovarian reserve.  My reserve was so low, in fact, that I should anticipate menopause within the next five years.

My entire heart sank.  How was that possible?  I was nowhere near the age where I should be worried about menopause.  I had squandered my youth.  I had abused my fertility potential.  I was never going to have children.  I cried.  A lot.  Never mind the fact that I was receiving this information on the phone from a receptionist who could not answer any of the questions that I had.  I hung up the phone.  My heart was broken.

No kidding–after that phone call–EVERY single woman I saw was pregnant.  Or so it seemed.  They all had these big beautiful bellies.  Bellies that I knew then I’d never experience.  Bellies that I’d never known that I wanted until I found out I could never have one.

Just this week, I read an article published by VOX.  It reported a study that was first published in JAMA.  According to that study, diminished ovarian reserve (as determined by the AMH test) is not associated with infertility among women attempting to conceive naturally.  According to JAMA, women should be cautioned against using AMH levels to assess their current fertility.  Imagine that.  On the other hand, it is a good indicator of the number of eggs that can be retrieved either for the purpose of freezing or in-vitro fertilization.

Regardless of the new study, I am glad I took the test.

Love,

 

J

#AMH #anti-mullerian #ovarianreserve

Humor · Women in the Workplace

Let the Light In

I work in an office building downtown.  My office is big and there are three really large bank windows that face a concrete garage.   It’s a beautiful view.   I have blinds that I keep open to let the light in.

Some of the attorneys I work with are less fortunate.  Their offices are smaller and they have no external windows.  For reasons unknown to me, the designer of the office space added windows beside the doors to those offices that are nearly the height of the doors.

The two attorneys who manage our office have large offices at the entrance to our space. Their offices have one entire wall of windows that faces the reception area.  There is a strip of the window walls to those offices that is grayed out.

The place where I work takes health and wellness seriously.  In that regard, we are all allowed to participate in a fitness activity three hours a week on the clock.  It’s a wonderful benefit.

The people who work in the cubicles in our office space use conference rooms to change into clothes suitable for their preferred fitness activity.  When the conference rooms are being used for changing clothes, a sign hanging on the door reads “Please Knock Before Entering.”

Those of use who are lucky enough to have offices, change into our gym clothes in our individual offices.  When people change clothes in the offices that have windows beside the doors, they turn the lights off and go over into a corner of their offices that is not visible from outside the window.  Or at least they think.

Similarly, when the two managing attorneys change clothes, they turn the lights off in their offices and go to a corner of the office not visible to the outside.

Today, one of my colleagues without an external window sent me an email asking a question.  I left my office and walked over to his to discuss the question with him.

When I arrived, his door was closed and the light was out.  I could see through the window that his computer was on.  So, instinctively I looked to see if he was in there or on the phone before knocking on the door.

There he was changing his clothes!  Whoops! Whose being a creeper now?  I felt so bad also a little outraged because what genius decided to put those windows in that space knowing that people change clothes in their offices?  (I should point out here that these offices are new.  The windows were put in just a couple months ago.)

And my colleague, what was he thinking?  Doesn’t he know people can see him changing clothes through the window?

Today was not the first day that this happened.  It is a systemic problem.

This afternoon I decided to go to the gym myself.  (Lately it has been a struggle.  It’s just so much easier not to go to the gym.  But I persisted.)

Just like I’ve been doing the past several months, I changed clothes in my office.

I took off my top and put on a sports bra. Then I noticed something I’d never noticed before– a car driving through the parking lot.  Wait! What was it doing there?

Only then did I realize that I’ve been flashing people in the parking lot for the past several months.

It simply had not even occurred to me that there was anyone in the parking lot.   I am certain I would have been more discreet if that building were an office building or an apartment building because who wants to be the Ugly Naked Gal?  Not me.

I’ll be collecting my tips soon.

Love,

J

 

Food · Whole 30

Sweet Potato Hash: My Go-to Non Egg Breakfast

It’s the most important meal of the day and, as I said before, eggs have never been my favorite.  During my first Whole 30, I searched high and low for non-egg breakfasts.  This was the one I used for 75% of my Whole 30 breakfasts.

Sweet Potato Hash 

Ingredients:

2 Sweet Potatoes

1 Sweet Onion

2 Whole 30 Compliant Sausages

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

Spice of your choice: you can go sweet with cinnamon or kick it up a notch with black pepper.  Whatever your heart desires.

This is what my ingredients look like:

IMG_3153

Not the knife.  The knife’s just for cutting and let me just tell you its the best knife.  Its an Amish knife–they know how to cut things.

You can’t really notice in this picture but my Turkey Sausage is FROZEN.  This stuff has like no preservatives so I had to freeze it before I got around to making something with it.

Chop up your onion….you might want to wear safety goggles for this.  Chop up your sweet potatoes and your sausage. This is what it looks like all chopped up:

IMG_3155

 

Then, warm your coconut oil over medium heat and start sautéing the onion.

This is what that looks like:

IMG_3158

Once you have them nice and sautéed, add your sweet potatoes. IMG_3159

Cover for a little while (I don’t know how long EXACTLY) but long enough to make them done–close to mushy.

Don’t forget your spices!

Then, add in your meat.  It’s already cooked (and if it was frozen, like mine, you had to thaw it in the microwave so it may even be a little warm).

IMG_3160

And voila!

You have a yummy (and easy) non-egg Whole 30 compliant breakfast.

I usually portion it out and take it for lunch with me during the week.  By Friday, it’s almost gone!

 

ENJOY!

 

Love,

 

J

Parenting · Wellness

Present Moment Awareness: Life with a Two Year Old & Technological Distractions

“Can you hold me mama?”

My sweet little boy said as I was putting him to sleep tonight.  My Massimo likes for me to put him to sleep in my bed.  I often look for distractions while I’m waiting for him to rest.  Sometimes, I also issue threats for him to stop squirming and lay still.

While I was waiting tonight (as is often the case), instead of cuddling with this moving little monster, I scrolled through my social media.  Tonight, he reminded me what was important.

“Of course I’ll hold you sweet baby.”

It isn’t only at bedtime that my darling has had to remind me to put away the distractions and focus on the present.

“No hello Mommy! No hello,” removing the gadget from my hand to make clear that it is  time for me to play.

Over the past week or so, Massimo went from a toddler who played by himself most of the time to nearly a preschooler starving for attention and a playmate.  This has been a huge shift for me.

Here’s why:  when he played by himself, I could do whatever I wanted while he was playing.  I could scroll through social media mindlessly.  I could watch television.  I could read a book.  I could do house work.  I could cook.

I could do all those things–yet– I would still be here if he needed.  And I’d feel like I was still spending time with him.  But I wasn’t really.  I was often somewhere else.

This past week, he actually has wanted me to play with him–which required me to focus on the present–not whatever distraction I’m was favoring at the time.

His favorite toy of the moment is a cash register and the food that he likes to sell to me. “What you want?  What you want?  What you want mommy?  What you want?”  He says repeatedly.

He probably would repeat himself anyway because that’s just what he does right now. But I find myself so distracted (mostly with social media) that he will ask me over and over until  I wake up and realize that this person who I made, the one who I adore, just wants actual interaction.  I usually do too.

Here’s to putting up that “hello” and focusing on what’s in front of me because nothing in that hello is half as entertaining or remotely as fulfilling as focusing on the present with Massimo.

Food · Whole 30

Whole 30 Compliant Breakfasts

Before Whole 30, I was never a breakfast person.  I drank coffee and starved myself.  The result of that behavior, inevitably, was that I was famished by lunchtime.  Thus, I made bad choices for lunch and snacked all afternoon.

I had always heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But I didn’t believe “them.”  I often don’t believe “them.”  With more maturity, I’m beginning to believe some of “them.”

I find that if I eat breakfast in the morning, particularly one infused with lots of protein, I make better choices the rest of the day.   I have never been a huge egg fan.  This made Whole 30 harder.  It also makes eating more protein in the morning a tad harder.  Since that first Whole 30, I’ve been better able to tolerate eggs–but only if they are well done and have lots of other flavor.

I also find that if I make a breakfast on the weekend–I will eat it all week.  That makes my morning a whole lot easier.

Here is the list of breakfasts that I have in heavy rotation:

(1) Sweet Potato Hash.  This is the easiest.  I use Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage, two sweet potatoes and an onion.  Just cut up the onion, the sweet potato, and the sausage.  On medium heat, warm about a Tbsp and a half of Coconut Oil.  Sauté the onion.  Add in the sweat potato, add the sausage and whatever spices you want.  Cinnamon is good.  Sometimes I use a little pepper to make it spicy.  If you cover the pan, it makes the potatoes nice and soft.  I have no idea how long it takes but–not too long.

(2) Proscuitto-Wrapped Mini Fritattas.  These are DELISH.  They are also awesome because they are little and can be frozen.  The hardest part about these is finding sugar free proscuitto.  I pickup mine at BJ’s.  Its a large package and you will be able to get a couple of recipes out of it.

(3) Savory Breakfast Casserole.  The hardest part about this–again–is finding the meat.  I use Wellshire Farms Chorizo from Whole Foods.

(4) Wellshire Farms Paleo Bacon and eggs.  On days when I am too lazy to make breakfast ahead, I’ll fry up this paleo bacon and scramble two eggs.

(5) Spinach Omlette with Wellshire Farms Andouille Sausage.  OMG.  This is delicious.  I have this on the weekends.  The sausage is on point.  I sauté a little onion, pepper and spinach.  Throw in the sausage.  Then make an omlette out of two eggs.

Remember to use a compliant oil like coconut, olive or avocado.

Enjoy!

With love,

 

J

 

#whole30 #whole30breakfast

 

Women in the Workplace

Weinstein, O’Reilly, Ailes, Clinton, et al.: Shame, Fear and the Misconception of the Neanderthal Man Syndrome

Dare I say, we’ve all been there.  At one time or another, we have all had someone who had power over us (perceived or actual) say or do something sexually inappropriate.

We’ve been there.  We’ve blamed ourselves.  We’ve felt ashamed.

Was it something we were wearing?

Did we bask in the attention a little too much?

Maybe we sent the wrong signals.

We caused it.

We’ve wondered how someone else might judge us if they found out.

One thing was for sure:  if the world found out we would be shamed.

Our world (the media, our friends, our family) would ask us all of those questions that we asked ourselves and we would know we didn’t have an answer for them because we had the same questions.

It would be harder to speak our truth than it would be to remain silent.

So, we stayed silent.  Or if we didn’t stay silent, if we were brave enough to speak our truth to even just one person, that person would ask us all those questions and we would be afraid to tell anyone else.

If we were real lucky, we wouldn’t fear ultimate career ruin if we dared to utter the truth.

But for most of us, we knew it would.

We heard all the late-night comics make fun on Monica.  That dress.  I mean Monica wanted IT didn’t she?  She was trying to sleep her way up.  That hussy.  Am I mistaken or wasn’t that the memo we were all given?

I know I was young and naïve but I don’t recall hearing anyone take up for her.   Maybe Gloria Allred did –but she comes to everyone’s rescue—bless her sweet little feminist heart.  And anyway, isn’t she just that crazy civil rights lady always playing the female card?

I don’t recall anyone making the POWER issue clear to me.

And let me be clear.  That’s what this is about.  Power.  It isn’t about sex.  It isn’t about affection.

It is about power and control.

Maybe it was drowned out by the memo that we all got that it was just Bubba, and he was just doing his THANG.  He’s a Neanderthal man. . . . that’s what men do.   Right?  Wasn’t that the memo that all the young men were being given around that time?

Powerful men can treat women anyway they want—and they still get to be the President.

Shouldn’t the memo have been:  The most powerful man in the world abused his power by getting his rocks off with a 21-year-old intern?

Did he even apologize for to her?  Did he say, “Sorry, my God what was I thinking?  I hope you are O.K.”   I don’t recall that.

I can only hope that he apologized to her in private.  Not that an apology would repair the damage he did but at least it would be an acknowledgement of bad behavior.  Even if it was an insincere apology.

I remember him lying.  I remember the “other political side” impeaching him for lying. But that was all political, right?

Did the Court of Public Opinion recognize him for the predator he is?  If it did, I don’t remember it.

I do remember being judgmental about the whole thing.  Monica had sexual relations with a MARRIED man.

Does the Court of Public Opinion even recognize Bubba as the predator he is today?

Let’s consider this, 22 years ago we as members of the Court of Public Opinion were given the unique opportunity to address abuse of power at the highest level.  We could have held the most powerful man in the world accountable for his predatory abuse of power.  But we didn’t.

Instead, we crucified the victim.  We shamed her.  That 21-year-old intern is 44 years old now.  I’d venture to guess her life didn’t turn out the way she’d have hoped.  Maybe I’m wrong.

Meanwhile, what were young men told?  They are Neanderthals who have a complete inability to control their basic physical functions.  As a result, they never have to worry about being held accountable for bad behavior—because even if the case is pretty clear—you can even be President if you are a predator.

In fact, it probably makes you more of a Neanderthal man to be a predator.

I have to think that if we had addressed Bubba’s bad behavior 22 years ago, Bill and Roger may have behaved better, and Harvey may not been so emboldened that he continued to do business in his bathrobe.

The good news is that the brave women who are coming forward today are not being publicly shamed—at least not as bad as Monica was.  That’s progress.  Hopefully, that means that we are writing a new memo.

That memo should go something like this:  People in positions of power who abuse it by making inappropriate sexual advances should be taken out of those positions.  Rather than shaming the brave victims: we protect them and help them heal.

And boys, dear dear boys, including my little love, you are not Neanderthals.  You do have control of your basic physical functions and so does everyone else.  That means, that everyone has the ability to keep their hands and other body parts to themselves and that no one should be subjected to an unwanted touch or other inappropriate sexual advance.

Just be decent humans.

 

Love,

 

J

 

Food · Whole 30

Staples for a Whole 30

After having my little love, who will hereinafter be referred to as Massimo, I struggled–like most–with losing the “baby weight.”  I struggled because I like sweets.  I like junk food.  Pizza.  Tacos.  Margaritas.  Wine.  ALL that is bad for me.  I greatly enjoy Hostess cupcakes.   And no matter how much nursing I did, I (unlike the celebrities whose weight just flies off from this activity) could not manage to lose the leftover poundage.  UNTIL I found something called the Whole 30.

During my first Whole 30, I was very strict, and quite successful.   I lost 15 pounds that first month.  It was so great. . . . I did it again. . . . two months later and lost 10 more pounds.  Yes, I was nursing.  BUT STILL 25 lbs in 2 months.  THAT was amazing.  I kept it off too until I began emotionally eating again from a huge disappointment (we all have them right?).

Not only did I lose 25 lbs in 2 months–I had a TON of NSVs (non scale victories) as well.  I felt a sense of emotional clarity.  I had no acne.  No PMS.  And a ton of confidence–if I could do 30 days of that –I was pretty sure I could do most anything.

The Whole 30, for those of you who don’t know, is a 30 day diet reset.  You cut out added sugar, dairy, grains, and a whole bunch of other stuff that is well documented on The Whole 30 website and in several books written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (who are apparently not writing together anymore).

I repeatedly try (lately unsuccessfully) to recreate that magical first Whole 30 so that I can feel the way I did after those first 30 days just one more time.  Maybe one day soon I’ll be successful.

In the meantime, since that really hard Whole 30 I did two years ago there are a TON of compliant products readily available on the market now.  Two years ago–it felt nearly impossible to find anything compliant.  Some things were available at Whole Foods or online at places like Amazon or Thrive Market.  But there really wasn’t all that much stuff.  Let me just say times, they are a changing.  And for the better (at least for Whole 30/Paleo junkies).

So here goes it, I cannot live without the following Whole 30 compliant things:

(1) Nutpods (Pumpkin Spice) because its pumpkin spice season AND let’s face it we ALL want our pumpkin spice latte and we shouldn’t have to give THAT up just because we want to be healthy  (available on Amazon or on the Nutpods website);

(2) Unsweetened Betterhalf (Califia Farms) because we NEED coffee and cream and we don’t ALWAYS want pumpkin spice (which happens to be seasonal anyway) (available at Whole Foods and Fresh Market–maybe even coming to a regular grocery store near you);

(3) Tessamae’s Salad Dressings.  They aren’t all compliant so be careful.  The ones I like are the Balsamic and the Creamy Ranch.   These used to be hard to find but now are in almost every supermarket–even Food Lion.  I understand they are upgrading their factory and are having some supply issues but I haven’t had trouble finding them;

(4) Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos.  These are still a little harder to find.  They are available at Whole Foods or in your local health foods store.  They work really well for terryaki style dishes.

(5) Epic Bars and Bacon Bits.  The bacon bits are wonderful on salads and the bars are good if you have a food emergency.  Available at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and even sometimes in your local supermarket.

(6) Larabars.  Also good for food emergencies and available almost everywhere now.  Only certain ones are compliant.  My favorite compliant bars are Cashew Cookie and Apple Pie.

(7) Riced Cauliflower; Sweet Potato and Zuchini Noodles. These items are now readily available in supermarkets.  The Noodles are usually in the fresh foods section and sometimes the cauliflower is too.  There is also frozen microwaveable riced cauliflower. These are GENIUS because even thought its easy to prepare these staples this way. . . . who has time?!?

(8) Self control, self forgiveness, and no judgment.  There are ton of helpful websites, Social Media sites, etc.  Between you and I, orthodox Whole 30ers can be kind of judgmental.  They often offer great (orthodox) advice.  But, at the end of the day–its your own Whole 30 and your own life.  You don’t have to be bound by anyone else’s rules.

 

With love,

J

 

 

 

Parenting

Attachment Theory vs. Cry it Out (Empirical Evidence)

For every new parent, two things soon become evident:  (1) everyone has an opinion about EVERYTHING; and (2) they all LOVE to offer their advice.   I too have plenty of opinions but I’m not here to tell anyone how they should do this or that.  Let me be honest, I give advice ALL DAY LONG.   But that’s not the purpose of this blog.  We all try our best to do the right thing.  We don’t need anyone telling us how we should do something to make us worry that we didn’t do it right to begin with.   This entry will provide just a little bit of information about conflicting schools of thought involving a topic near and dear to my heart and my journey to understanding it all.   Let me just tell you, the STRUGGLE  between picking my baby up and letting him cry it out was REAL.  Tears were shed…LOTS of them.  Mostly by me.

At my little guy’s one year check up, the nurse asked me to fill out a questionnaire.   The purpose of the questionaire (like the ones they use at all of his other checkups), was to allow me to provide information to help the doctor assess my little guy’s progress.  Is it me or do they start REAL early with assessing whether or not a new tiny human is living up to everyone else’s expectations?  I answered the questions truthfully, without thinking that my perfect child wasn’t meeting everyone else’s expectations or that my choices were anything but the right ones.

One of the questions was “is your child sleeping through the night??” Well, umm. No.  He wakes up every night around the same time.  I put him in bed with me and he goes back to sleep.

Apparently, my answer was the wrong one and my choice to pick him up was also wrong.  When the doctor entered the room, he physically assessed my precious one then told me that he should certainly be sleeping through the night by then.   According to Dr. Know It All (who I had before never met and have since never seen), I should be making my angel cry it out because if I didn’t make him go back to sleep on his own at that time, he would have insomnia for the rest of his life!!!!  Wow.  And here I am.  Minding my own business.  TRYING TRYING TRYING to make the right choices for my little guy and I am actually ruining his sleep for the REST OF HIS LIFE!!!

I listened to the doctor, tried to understand his point of view, and even tried to let my precious boy cry it out a few times. But I couldn’t.  First, the crying was RELENTLESS.  Second, I didn’t have the heart to hear him that upset.  Third–and MOST important–I needed to go back to sleep.  According to Dr. Know It All, my child will forever have insomnia because I never made him go back to sleep on his own.

More recently,  I had an amazing opportunity to take a class taught by Dr. Robert Mauer, the Director of Behavioral Science at the University of Washington.  The class was on Negotiations but, as you can imagine with a behavioral scientist teaching the class,  it was heavily based in psychology.  Dr. Mauer studies excellence and writes about Mastering Fear to achieve excellence.  His website is The Science of Excellence and his books are fantastic.

In this Negotiations class–of all places– I learned a lot about attachment theory and crying it out.  I probably should have learned a lot of this in college phycology but better late than never.  Dr. Mauer discussed how all animals have certain reactions to fear–including humans.  This is because all animal have similar brain functions.  Raw stimuli that are associated with fear arrive at the place in the brain called the amygdala, which passes a danger signal along to the hypothalamus, which, dictates the body’s autonomic nervous system, and trips the fight-or-flight wire.  Each animal’s fight-or-flight response may be different.

After discussing the amygdala and fight or flight response in animals, Dr. Mauer showed us videos of Harlow’s Monkeys–experiments, which would be considered inhumane in today’s society.  Dr. Mauer’s purpose of showing us the videos was so that we would begin to understand that humans (because of our close relation to primates) have similar reactions to fear as the monkeys.  If you haven’t seen the videos, I encourage you to google Harlow’s Monkeys and watch them on YouTube.  They will change your life.  Or at least maybe your idea of the importance of human connection.

In one of the experiments, a monkey is offered the choice between sustenance and affection.  The monkey must eat to survive but is reluctant to leave its cloth mommy for food–when it does–it is only long enough to eat– then that frightened monkey goes right back to cuddle with its cloth mommy.

Dr. Mauer opined that the human need for attachment is similar to the monkey’s–food keeps us alive–but affection keeps us sane.  In other words, the human reaction to fear is to REACH for someone–just like the frightened monkey in his cage reached out to the only mommy he’s ever known.

If I had seen the video two years ago, I’m pretty sure that I would have been more confident in my decision to pick my little one up when his doctor told me to let him “Cry it Out.”  After class, I told Dr. Mauer that I have a two-year old and asked him if he could explain the “Cry it Out” theory based on his research and the monkey experiments.   Dr. Mauer said that–in his practice– he does not advise parents to let babies cry it out.  He also encouraged me to watch the video for the Happiest Toddler on the Block.

In the end, the important thing is not whether you let your baby “Cry it Out” or whether you pick him up.  The only important thing is that you do what works for you.  Only you know your baby, your own needs, and what best fits into your life.

 

Love,

 

J