A Shift in Perspective

Isn’t it amazing what excuses we tell ourselves when we fail to make time for things we have committed to, or even the things we enjoy doing?

Like this blog, for instance. I love to write. Like really love it. And I love the idea of taking time for myself to write here every day – or even just a few times a week. This is something that I have committed myself to doing time and again, recommitting every few months with a renewed vigor. “This time for sure! This time I will make my list of post ideas and work on one to publish every 2-3 days. This time I’m really going to do it!”

Then without fail I enthusiastically throw myself into the creation of one grand post. I publish it. I feel amazing and creatively fulfilled and can’t wait to begin work on the next one.

And then a day passes.

And then another. And another.

My list of blog post ideas goes untouched as the excuses start to dim the rosy glow of creativity and satisfaction that had enveloped me following my previous post.

“I have to run errands today.”

“I don’t really feel like writing.”

“I don’t have any good ideas today.”

“This post isn’t perfect.”

“No body will care to read that.”

“My baby is taking too much of my time today.” (This is, in fact, a somewhat valid excuse I think. My almost 5 month old is still quite needy and dependent on me, as most 5 month old babies tend to be. I am writing this right now at 9pm after he has fallen asleep in my arms).

But I think the biggest limitation I put on myself was my initial intent of making this a health/nutrition/fitness-y type of blog. I find myself struggling to come up with new and original post ideas that fit within these categories (when there is already SO MUCH out there), and have not even allowed myself to consider writing about other subjects.

But what if I didn’t just have to write about these things?

What if I were just to write?

I started this blog at a time when I was trying to transition from a teaching career to one in the fitness industry. I cared so much about getting stronger and having abs and counting my macros and having a popular Instagram.

But then I got pregnant. And eventually had my little baby boy. And my entire perspective on the universe changed so drastically that things that used to seem really important to me, all of a sudden diminished in their importance.

Don’t get me wrong, I still work out every day and lift heavy things. But my goals have shifted dramatically. I just want to lose the last little bit of my baby weight and stay active and healthy – not because I want to look like a fitness model, but because exercise makes me feel good, physically and emotionally.

I still love to cook because I am passionate about the process of cooking. It is one of my favorite ways to relax. But I don’t care about creating “macro-friendly” recipes that will somehow become Instagram famous and be shared around the internet. I just enjoy eating deliciously healthy food and sharing it with my family.

I don’t put time or effort into my Instagram because I don’t care how many followers I have anymore. The time I spend playing with my little guy and experiencing all his giggles and wonder at the big wide world is much more valuable. These are passing moments that are much better experienced with a fully present heart and mind, not moments to be constantly recording and uploading for others to ogle at.

This baby, little Noah, has changed my life and put so much into perspective. I find myself milking every last drop of joy out of each moment of the day. I have never felt so engaged and satisfied with my life.

Rather than letting him be an excuse for not writing, I’m going to use him, and the beautiful moments we spend together, as inspiration for writing.

And not just him (even though he is like, 96.3% of my life right now). But I am going to write about whatever I want. Fitness, books, food, me, gratitude, quotes. Whatever comes to mind, inspires creation, and contributes to my happiness.

Isn’t that what having a blog is all about?

YOU GOAL GIRL!


So much to look forward to in the coming year.

Since it’s the last day of 2018, I’d like to take a quick intermission from my pregnancy series to talk about goal-setting and some goals I have for the upcoming year. I don’t really like to use the term “resolution” – that word conjures up images of grand schemes that fizzle out after the first couple weeks of January. To me GOALS is a more long term way of looking at New Years Resolutions. You can make and stick to goals at any time of the year, not just beginning on January 1st.


Goal-Setting 101

I’m not sure where I first heard about it, but I think the simplest guideline to setting goals is to make sure they are SMART. I mean obviously you don’t want to set dumb goals *eyeroll*. But if you just say your goal is “to lose weight”, for instance… how would you even know when or if that goal has been met? So make your goals…

  1. Specific – write down your goal using specific language rather than ambiguous terms. What do you want to accomplish, where and why? “I want to lose 15 pounds” is much more specific than lose weight. Also, what specific steps can be taken to attain that goal? “I will go to the gym 4 days a week” or “I will not eat desserts 6 out of 7 days of the week.” Those are both very specific steps that can be taken to help you achieve your goal of losing 15 pounds.
  2. Measurable – make the goal something that you can actually objectively track the progress of. You can’t track an ambiguously phrased “lose weight”, but you can step on a scale each day to measure how much of the 15 pounds you’ve lost. Seeing the progress in real time will actually do wonders for your momentum and motivation.
  3. Attainable – YES, even goals are confined to the laws of physics. I know, I know, we all wish we could just have one million dollars by tomorrow, but this is not a realistic or attainable desire. It is attainable to make a goal to “save up $5000 in 6 months” or something like that. It is attainable to “lose 15 pounds by next Christmas”. Make sure the goal is actually something that you can achieve and not just a wild fantasy you have, otherwise nothing but frustration will ensue.
  4. Relevant – I guess this means a goal you set should be something that’s worthwhile to you while also in line with your other goals. Your goals should complement each other and help push you to be exactly who you want to be.
  5. Time-bound – I think this might be the most important of them all. Exactly by WHEN do you plan to meet your goal? “I want to lose 15 pounds.” By tomorrow? As if. Set a time limit. “I want to lose 15 pounds by June 30, 2019.” Thats about a 6 month time frame. Not only would this be perfectly feasible, but the sense of urgency that a time limit sets will allow you to stay focused and motivated.

I want to mention one more goal-setting guideline that is not included in this model but I think is absolutely CRUCIAL. WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN ON PAPER. Put them in a place where you will see them and be reminded of them daily. Each day ask yourself, “What have I done today to bring myself closer to my goals?” Every day you should do at least one thing, no matter how small, that will propel you forward. Going back to the theoretical weight loss goal, maybe the one thing you did was make the choice to not eat the donuts your coworkers brought to work. AND THAT’S A HARD CHOICE, TRUST ME, I KNOW. But every day you have the chance to make little choices that add up to big changes. If you just have your goals floating around in your head, it will be harder to take real-life steps toward them. Writing them down makes them tangible.


My Goals for 2019

So what are MY goals for 2019?? I may have a couple…

Maybe that last goal isn’t quite measurable or specific, but that one may be the most important to me of them all. I am going to be a mom. It is still crazy to me but each day I will do whatever I can to make sure that little baby feels loved and safe.

Each of these is important to me for different reasons, but they are all intended to help me be the happiest, healthiest, and most successful I can be. Some of these goals are stepping stones to even longer term goals (education, career, etc.). I have been especially overwhelmed lately with the concept of getting a graduate degree, especially with the unexpected little bundle of joy that will be here before I know it. My goals have had to shift a lot from what they would have been were I not now growing my little family.

But that’s okay. That’s just life. Life is unexpected and will always throw curveballs your way. What’s important is the ability to remain flexible and adapt and grow with those changes. Maybe 2018 didn’t end for you exactly as you would have planned, but you’re about to have 365 brand new, shiny and fresh chances to make the most of each day, to grow and to learn and to appreciate all of the blessings that life gives you. You are breathing and you are alive and this coming year is going to be SPECTACULAR. ✭

The Most Important Meal of the Day

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Did this image of the most enticingly delicious, absolutely sugar-laden waffles grab your attention?? Good. Because today I want to talk about something that affects me as a teacher, and should also be affecting you as a parent: breakfast.  In particular, I want to discuss the affect that high-carb, sugary breakfasts devoid of nutrients can have on your child’s ability to function at school.

I may not be a nutritionist quite yet, but it’s never too early to make an impact.  This week I got to experience what it was like to positively influence the nutrition of one of my students.  This 5-year-old is exceptionally smart, loves being at school, and genuinely enjoys the learning process.  Let’s call this boy Liam*.  Liam is a brilliant student, but he can also tend to be very silly and jumpy at times.  The key phrase here is at times.  This past Monday he seemed to be having a particularly difficult time sitting still and concentrating on his work.  And an idea just struck me so I decided to ask him: “Liam, what did you eat for breakfast this morning?”  His answer?  FROSTED FLAKES AND CHOCOLATE MILK.

Now I’m not a parent, but after five years of experience educating young children, I know how picky children can be about food.  I also know what a battle it can be early in the morning to get your child fed and out the door in a reasonable time.  Too often this leads to children eating sugar-filled breakfasts in a rush, such a frozen waffles with syrup, sugary cereal, cookies, and at times even candy! (Yes, I have witnessed the mother of a two-year-old girl feeding her daughter M’n’Ms at 8:30 in the morning at carpool). Most parents don’t even realize just how much sugar their children are eating, not just at breakfast, but throughout the entire day.

Frosted Flakes have 10g of sugar in one 3/4 cup serving, all 10g of these being added sugars. But let’s be real, how many of us pour a bowl of cereal and actually measure out “one serving”.  Realistically, Liam was probably having double this, or even more.  So let’s say 20g for the cereal.  The chocolate milk has even more sugar, at 24g! 10.25 of those grams are added sugar.  So before 8:30 in the morning Liam has already been loaded with 44 grams of sugar – this is equivalent to 11 teaspoons of sugar.  Have you ever added 11 teaspoons of sugar to your coffee?  I’ll just let that sit there for a minute.  No wonder he couldn’t stop fidgeting, running around, and was unable to focus on his math lesson for more than a few seconds at a time.  The sugar-consumption recommendation for adults is no more than 40 grams of added sugar a day.  With this one meal, Liam has already gone over this recommendation.

The average child under 12 years of age eats about 49 pounds of sugar per year.

How could this be affecting your child in the classroom?

  1. Behavioral Problems: We all know that excessive consumption of sugar leads to children “bouncing off the walls.”  In Liam’s case, all the sugar he had eaten for breakfast literally manifested as him jumping up and down.  No matter how many times I called his attention, it was as if he couldn’t control it.  And the fact of the matter is, if Liam is jumping around and acting playful, his friends are going to follow suit.  Too much sugar leads to disruptive behavior in the classroom that affects the other children – and drives the teacher crazy!
  2. Attention Span and Memory: Sugar consumption causes the brain’s hypothalamus to release excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.  When this cortisol is flooding through a child’s little body, they find it very difficult to sit still and stay focused on their work in school.  Without the ability to pay close attention to the lessons, it is unlikely that they will be encoding that knowledge into their long term memory.
  3. Refusal to Eat Healthy, Nutritious Food: Sugar is like a drug – eating it feels really good because the neurotransmitter dopamine is released by the brain.  The more sugar children have in their diets, the less likely they are to eat vegetables, fruits, and protein-rich meats – the sustenance that their bodies and brains need to grow and develop.  Constantly being fed sugar means that your child will struggle to accept the less-sweet taste of foods such as green vegetables.  Too many times I have witnessed the meltdowns of 3 and 4-year-olds refusing to eat the “healthy” items in their lunchbox because they know there is a bag of Fruit Loops or a bag of chocolate chip cookies waiting to be devoured at the end.  Too many times I have seen these children simply refuse to eat their lunch because they are not allowed to have the sugar.  Needless to say, these children are not getting the nutrients they need.

When Liam told me what he had for breakfast that day, I informed him that I was going to speak to his mom about the amount of sugar he was eating for breakfast.  Turns out he beat me to the punch, because the very next day at carpool his mom informed me that he had already told her what I wanted to talk to her about.  Luckily she agreed with me and and given him something much more nourishing to eat for breakfast that morning: eggs, toast with peanut butter, and a side of fruit.  She was so thankful I had brought it up with him, because – and these are her exact words – she couldn’t get him “to eat anything but that goddamned cereal.”

To say that Liam was a different child that day is an understatement.  He was calm and concentrated, able to complete his academic tasks without excessive interruptions and distractions.  Every day this past week I made sure to check up on him and ask him what he had eaten for breakfast because I could see such a dramatic difference in his behavior.  I heard peanut butter, I heard fruits, I heard waffles made with almond flour.  Such a far cry from the processed, sugary meal he had consumed on Monday morning.

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Ideally, your child’s breakfast should be a balance of healthy protein, fats, and carbs.  Consider proteins such as eggs; low-glycemic carbohydrates such as fruits (berries, bananas, apples), oatmeal, and even vegetables (if you dare!!); and healthy fats such as avocado, almond butter, or peanut butter. Be wary of nut butters that have added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup – always be sure to read the labels before purchasing!

Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but make sure you are sending your child to school fed with the nutrients he needs to function and learn effectively.  Not only will you be benefiting your child’s long-term health, but I promise your child’s teacher will be eternally grateful!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.