10 Steps to #GetAheadofCancer with @Counsyl

Did you know that February is National Cancer Prevention Month? More importantly, did you know that you can proactively get ahead of cancer?

I remember when my grandmother lived with us. She wasn’t an actual grandma, but she was someone that my mother respected as her mother. Since my maternal grandmother had passed many years prior, I only knew her as my grandmother. I used to spend days at her feet, listening to her stories and her wisdom, soaking it in like a sponge.

Then, one day, she didn’t come home from a doctor’s appointment. She was pretty independent, so she traveled on the senior city bus to and from most appointments. But that one day, she didn’t return. No one had reported her wandering.

I was terrified when I got home. I called the hospital where she had her appointments. Her doctor hadn’t seen her since the appointment, but upon calling the front desk, they had seen her wandering aimlessly. She had forgotten her name, where she was going, or how to get home.

I thought this was a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but after she arrived home, I received all of my answers.

She remembered who she was, and more importantly, she remembered that she had tumors all over her body. Years ago, when I was too young to remember, she had massive surgeries to remove all of the tumors that had manifested all over her body.

This time, she remembered that she didn’t want to go through that again. She wanted to sleep, rest and enjoy what little of life she had left. She was in her 80s by this point and was just… tired.

A few short weeks later, she went from a thriving senior to passing quietly and fairly painlessly in her bed. I didn’t know about her cancer history until this point and never harped on asking questions. I wanted to get everything of value that I could. I wanted more of her, not the cancer.

Sadly, more than one million people in the United States get cancer each year. Here are some basic steps to get ahead of cancer risks:

1. Drink lots of water

Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Although it is suggested you drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, you can opt for natural juices found in apples and oranges (if you eat them fresh).

2. Filter your tap water

Filtering your water reduces your exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals. Likely, it’s better to filter tap water than drink bottled water, as bottled water may have carcinogens that may add to your cancer risk.

3. Snack on Brazil nuts

Brazil Nuts are a stellar source of selenium, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of bladder cancer in women, according to research from Dartmouth Medical School. Other studies have found that people with high blood levels of selenium have lower rates of dying of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Researchers think selenium not only protects cells from free radical damage but also may enhance immune function and suppress formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.

4. Work it Out

Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week cuts down the risk of cancer. Regular workouts may lower your risks by helping you burn fat, which otherwise produces its own estrogen, a known contributor to breast cancer.

5. Lose Weight

Consuming too many calories and lack of physical activity raise the risks for many types of cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Being overweight or obese accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths among women and 14% of men, notes the American Cancer Society. (You’re overweight if your body mass index is between 25 and 29.9; you’re obese if it’s 30 or more.) Plus, losing excess pounds reduces the body’s production of female hormones, which may protect against breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer. Even if you’re not technically overweight, gaining just 10 pounds after the age of 30 increases your risk of developing breast, pancreatic, and cervical, among other cancers.

6. Eat More Dark Greens

The darkest varieties contain chlorophyll, which gives them their color, is loaded with magnesium. Magnesium has been found to lower the risk of colon cancer in women. Just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach provides 75 mg of magnesium, 20% of the daily value.

7. Eat Clean Foods

Buy meat free of antibiotics and added hormones, which are suspected of causing endocrine problems, including cancer. When you purchase produce grown without pesticides and wash conventionally grown food thoroughly to remove residues, you reduce the likelihood of ingesting cancer-causing products.

#GetAheadofCancer Mom and Son

8. Do a Folic Acid Check

The B vitamin, essential for women who may become or are pregnant to prevent birth defects, is a double-edged sword when it comes to cancer risk. Consuming too much of the synthetic form (not folate, found in leafy green veggies, orange juice, and other foods) has been linked to increased colon cancer risk, as well as higher lung cancer and prostate cancer risks.

9. Up your Calcium Intake

Taking calcium consistently can reduce the development of precancerous colon polyps. So, get your calcium intake up through dairy or supplements.

#GetAheadofCancer Doctor's Desk

10. Get Screened for Cancer

Counsyl offers DNA screening and genetic counseling services as a simple way to learn your risks for certain types of cancer such as breast, ovarian, colon and others, and what you can do to stay ahead of it.

The Counsyl Inherited Cancer Screen assesses your risks based on your DNA, and if you test positive, you have the power to act early on. By working with your doctor, you can build a proactive health and risk reduction plan including early detection. Detecting cancer early increases survival rates – the 5-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 98.6% when caught in early stages.

Tweet: Get screened for cancer to #GetAheadofCancer with @Counsyl http://ctt.ec/2a4Y_+ #ad

Here’s how it works:

Simple and thorough

The Inherited Cancer Screen uses a small sample of saliva or blood to look at up to 22 different genes associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.

See what Counsyl tests for

Trusted by top doctors

Counsyl has screened hundreds of thousands of people, and they work directly with a network of over 6,000 health care professionals.

Hear from Counsyl’s patients

Covered by insurance

The Inherited Cancer Screen is covered by most major insurance companies. Chances are yours is one of them.

Order your Counsyl Inherited Cancer Screen today and be prepared for what lies ahead!

I am not a doctor. My tips are based on research from verifiable sources. Please consult your physician for the best care options.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Counsyl. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Counsyl. The opinions and text are all mine.

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“Mommy, You’re the Best!” @PearTreeGreet #sp

Disclosure: I received a coupon for the purchase of the products.
All opinions are 100% my own.

Pear Tree Greetings InvitationFor me, planning parties are stressful. The anxiety lies completely around whether people will come and if they’ll enjoy themselves. Thankfully, Pear Tree Greetings makes choosing your invitations, decorations and Thank You cards easy.

When I had the opportunity to review their products and service, I couldn’t wait! I mean, this is the first birthday party I’m throwing in Florida, and I have my in-laws looking over my shoulder. I have to make it perfect!

When entering Pear Tree Greetings‘ site, I was so excited to see that their invitations are not the average invitation. You can upload your own photo, then depending on the design choice, you can add an overlay, like the crown pictured to the left.

All of the colors are fully customizable, so Bee’s party was “All Princesses + Strawberry Shortcake”. So the colors we chose were the blue of Cinderella, and the pink of Strawberry Shortcake’s hair. Pear Tree Greetings allows you to mix and match ALL colors! You can completely make it your own!

Next came the decorations! Granted, I had no idea what I wanted for decorations, I’m a pretty simplistic when it comes to things like that, so choosing decorations was a new space for me.

So what’s a girl to do? Start shopping! Since I chose the Crown Me invitation, I figured I should stick with the Crown Me decorations.

PTG Decorations

I wasn’t even sure what to do with these. These decorations are flat cards that are fully editable, being able to change the color and the wording. Again, I had to think about it for a while, but I settled on “We Love You”, a capital “B” and Princess Bee’s Third Birthday. Super creative, right?

When we got to the party, we I had these circles to use around the party. I decided to put some on the table, and some on the window between the gymnasium and the lobby (where the eating was going to take place).

DSCF0219 DSCF0220 DSCF0296 DSCF0297

 

Bee (and everyone else) LOVED the party. The decorations were just the right touch. I added a Happy Birthday banner, a few balloons and table stands to bring the princesses to Bee’s party.
Birthday Table Stands

Finally I chose the Simply Green Thank You cards, I wanted something super simple so I could do what I’d like. I’ll be putting pictures of Bee and each friend in the card to send as a thank you for attending!

thank you card

Now for where Mommy (aka me) is the best! I took the decorations from the party and put them in her room. Since she went to her grandmother’s right after the party, I was able to spend a few minutes dressing up her room. With the circle decorations on the wall, she walked into her room and came out almost immediately with a

“Thank You Mommy, You’re the Best!” I melted immediately and I knew that I had made the right choices. Thank you Pear Tree Greetings!

Don’t worry! If you want to get your Christmas cards out before December 25th, they can do it! Check them out today!

Find out more about Pear Tree Greetings

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Follow them on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Follow Pear Tree Greetings’s board Christmas Cards from PearTreeGreetings.com on Pinterest.

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Fitness Clubs are Expanding Their Services {Guest Post}

Over the recent years, many fitness centers have upgraded their services to respond directly to the diverse fitness interests of men and women. The young and old are joining fitness clubs for recreation and health-related goals. Originally, these facilities were used as a place for people to enjoy a quick workout with a personal trainer and use a treadmill or an elliptical, but now, many facilities are adding innovative exercise amenities, guided cardio classes and full-service cafes and eateries. Rather than being a place where you can exercise for a short period of time throughout the day, a membership in a top-notch fitness center, such as Fit Athletic Club in Houston, can provide a wide range of benefits for people to not only engage in exercise routines but enjoy games with friends with the various entertainment resources. Some of the facilities have flat screen televisions and Wi-Fi lounges. You can actually spend hours in a modern fitness center and revel in many different entertainment and fitness amenities offered through your membership. Some facilities have also extended their hours for people with busy schedules and daily commitments. 

fitness clubs

Many well-established fitness facilities continuously add more popular workout programs designed to cater to different interests and physical abilities in men and women. For instance, cycling classes, martial arts, yoga and Pilates are very popular forms of exercise that both men and women enjoy. With a variety of class times on different days of the week, members are able to set extensive workout schedules weekly and take advantage of the variety of programs. Some companies offer daycare centers for parents who want to bring their children to a fun, supervised playroom while they focus on their fitness. 

At many of the fitness centers, personal trainers are available to provide an array of services and custom workout programs to accommodate the fitness goals of members. From professional athletes and avid athletic enthusiasts to individuals who are just beginning to incorporate exercise into their daily routine, a personal trainer can design a program that will keep the client healthy and fit. 

About FIT Athletic Club: Consistently voted the #1 fitness facility in Houston, we are located at West Gray and Waugh, between River Oaks and Downtown. FIT promotes a health-centered way of life and its members are among a new breed of fitness enthusiast. They want more than a place to work out. They want to socialize, kick back with their friends, relax and enjoy their time in an environment where they feel as comfortable on our sofa as they do on their own. They appreciate the state of the art equipment Fit offers and they understand the differences between a large box gym and one that truly caters to its members individual needs and lifestyle. They enjoy and expect a higher level of amenities and service; and they get it at Fit.
FIT Athletic Club is located at: 1532 West Gray Street, Houston, Texas 77019
Phone: (713) 782-9348; Hours: 5 AM to 11 PM Mon – Fri, 8 AM to 8 PM Sat – Sun
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Introducing Chobani® Greek Yogurt Smoothies only at #SmoothieKing

It’s summer and who doesn’t love a good smoothie. As much as I enjoy making them myself, sometimes I can get some variation and tastiness when I go out to grab one. You can get great things like enhancers and supplements to give your smoothie a spark! 

On Monday, my husband stayed home from work and I took full advantage of getting some me time. I hit the mall and found my favorite smoothie place. I poured over the menu, taking a look at their new additions. Since I make my smoothies at home with Greek yogurt, I definitely had to try their versions. Blueberry Strawberry caught my eye immediately, because I don’t like bananas. Also, I often make a version of the carrot orange at home and was looking for something a little different than my norm.

It was delicious! Not too sweet, not too tart. I typically don’t like really sweet things, so at home, I toss in a few veggies. Usually with blueberries, things can get a little tart too. I was happily surprised!I ended up getting a larger size because I knew this would be my meal. I also added some Energy and Protein to substantiate making it a meal. I sucked on that straw until there was nothing left ~ and was disappointed it was all gone.

Smoothie King - Chobani Greek Smoothies editIntroducing Chobani® Greek Yogurt Smoothies

Smoothie King smoothies are blended with a purpose. Your purpose – whatever that may be. And they use only the best ingredients for each and every blend. That’s why they have partnered with Chobani® to introduce three new Greek Yogurt smoothies. 

On June 16th, Smoothie King introduced these new smoothies to the menu:

Blueberry StrawberryA customer favorite, this Greek yogurt smoothie is rich in protein and antioxidants and tastes like a “berry explosion” in your mouth.
Pineapple Mango: Blended with Greek yogurt, fiber, protein and electrolytes, this smoothie tastes like a “tropical citrus burst.”
Carrot Orange: A perfect blend of veggies and fruits, this Greek yogurt smoothie features an untraditional pairing with extraordinary taste. 

They even have a choice just for kids:

Strawberry Bluegurt Blitz: Chobani® Greek Yogurt, Strawberries, Blueberry Juice Blend, Non-Fat Milk, Vanilla Protein Blend, Electrolyte Mix, Multi-Vitamin Enhancer

These tasty blends not only provide probiotics, calcium and half the amount of sodium as other regular yogurts on the market, but also have up to 12 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and are all less than 350 calories. Adding Chobani® Greek Yogurt to the smoothie gives you double the protein and half the carbohydrates, which is better for your body and waistline!

These three new Greek yogurt smoothies powered by Chobani are the perfect way to introduce balance into your every day hectic lifestyles.

#FindMyBalance

 To add a little more health to your life, on June 23rd, Smoothie King launched a #FindMyBalance campaign to help fans and followers achieve balance in their lives. Whenever you share an off-balance life moment and use #FindMyBalance #SmoothieKing, we’ll be sure to respond with a life-balancing advice, tips and tricks or maybe even some special surprises to help fans get their balance back.

[Tweet “I’m a mom! #FindMyBalance #SmoothieKing”]

Life-balancing surprises might include things like:

  • Greek Yogurt Smoothies
  • Merry Maids gift card
  • Massage Envy gift card
  • Toodledo life-organizing app
  • Pocket Yoga app
  • Ticketmaster gift card
  • Netflix (for 1 month)
  • SWAirlines gift card

Remember that most smoothies are made with mostly fruit. Fruit is good and healthy, but they pack a lot of sugar and calories! Make this an occasional treat!

Disclosure: I was given a gift certificate to try out the new smoothie. However, all opinions are my own.
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Getting Veggies in a Sweet Treat has Never Been Easier {Smoothie King Review and GIveaway}

wpid-smoothie-king-veggie-blends.jpg.jpegI’ve never had a problem getting my children to eat their vegetables. Their first taste of veggies was right off my stove (into a blender) and into their mouths. I work to make sure that there is a vegetable included in every meal, at least as an option, and no tomato sauce on pizza doesn’t count.

Sometimes, however, we go out to get a sweet treat. As much as I want my kids to get something different than what I provide at home as a “treat”, I’m often disappointed at the selections. I am not diet-crazed or veggie-crazed, it’s just that if I can provide a way for my children to feel that they are getting a treat and still get some nutrition, I feel like I’m doing good as a parent.

There is no dispute that smoothies are all the rage, including homemade ones. Most of us love to pack in the fruits and never consider the vegetables. The calories show too. Although fruits and vegetables are good for you, the sweet of the fruit packs a mighty caloric punch. As an example, one smoothie maker has a chocolate and peanut butter smoothie that is close to 500 calories in the SMALL! They consider it real food nutrition!

Smoothie King Veggie BlendsEnter Smoothie King introducing their new Veggie Blends! They have found the right balance of fruit and vegetables. Utilizing the very delicious and nutritious kale and carrots, each one is delicious, with a little different flavor.

Most of all, my kids finished their own small cups before they wanted anything else! At less than 300 calories each, and the Carrot Kale Dream only at 222 calories, this is a guilt-free snack for all of us!

Each of us naturally gravitated toward our favorite and there were no arguments:

My favorite was the Apple Kiwi Kale… this drink had the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Plus it had one of my favorite fruits: Kiwi!

Bunny’s favorite was the Carrot Kale Dream.

Bee’s favorite was the Berry Carrot Dream. I can’t tell you what she liked best about it, I just know she didn’t want to give it up!

Get your own today! You can get a free Veggie Blends with a coupon from their site or you can win a $10 Gift Certificate below!

Smoothie King Contest

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Getting Butterfly to Sleep {Zipadee-Zip Sleeper Giveaway and Review}

I have birthed four children and each is amazingly different! Of course, if you’re a mommy, you know this. The one place that is a constant strain on my well-being is their sleep patterns. Bunny slept through the night at 6 weeks. Alexander slept through the night even earlier. He actually slept 10 hours one night at 5 weeks old. I called the doctor frantically (because of his heart problem) and he said “Most parents would be happy!”

Then, we flip the script to my girls. Bee… oh, goodness, Miss Bee. She, to this day, seems to be allergic to sleep. She only sleeps when it’s truly a necessity. If allowed, she’d be the last one to sleep every night and she’s always the first one up. When she was an infant, she wouldn’t sleep on her own AT ALL! She hated being swaddled. She hated to wear any clothing at all. Her favorite position was on my chest. Because she would sleep in twenty minute increments otherwise, that’s where she slept most of the time. To this day, she still wakes up in the middle of the night, sometimes several times a night and comes in our bed.

Now there’s Butterfly. At four months old, she’s an ok sleeper at best. Her naps came at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. everyday, for about 45 minutes to an hour. Night time, she also sleeps in two hour increments, waking up to nurse.

Zipadee ZipThat was her pattern until I received the Zipadee-Zip. What a difference a sleeper makes! She stopped liking the swaddler a couple of months ago, so I was in search of something to just let me get some REST!

In corresponding with the rep, she made mention that Butterfly was on the smallest side of their small, therefore it would help baby sleep best during naps more than overnight. I had no idea why or what that meant really. When I received this swaddle transition in the mail, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It was basically a large sleeper that outlined her body pretty perfectly with her legs and arms outstretched.

wpid-storageemulated0PicsArtzipadee-sleeper-nap.jpg.jpgYet, her first nap in it, she easily slept two hours, without interruption! She does that twice a day. The second nap is actually closer to three hoursI was so surprised, I jumped at the opportunity to try it at night. And true to what the rep said, it didn’t work. Well, it didn’t work as well as I hoped. Let me explain.

I’ve been using it for a little less than a month. When I put on the sleeper, she gets excited, like she knows sleep is coming (as opposed to Bee’s reaction which would have been full HULK!). She almost instantly reaches out to me to eat. Whether I’m supposed to or not, I normally nurse her to sleep or near sleep. She nurses and goes to sleep. Because it’s not a blanket and it can’t come off, she stays warm and drifts off to La-La Land for a good two to three hours.

I wish I could say she instantly slept through the night, but she hasn’t. However, she has slept more comfortably and quietly. No more antsiness. Each night, she sleeps a little longer (by a few minutes), progress she wasn’t making before. Since neither of the girls have taken pacifiers, the sleeve of the slumber sack has done well to appease her too! LOL!

wpid-storageemulated0PicsArtzipadee-car-seat.jpg.jpgAnother GREAT thing about the Zipadee-Zip Sleeper is that it transitions easily from bed to car seat. Butterfly normally wakes up when I try to put her in the car seat, but with this, not only does she not wake up, the comfort level helps her keep her sleep schedule going, no matter what we’re doing!

I look forward to finding out how well she sleeps as she grows. I know I’m ready for her to sleep through the night!

Are you ready to win your own Zipadee-Zip Sleeper?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I know you’re ready to buy it right now and cannot wait until the giveaway is over, so please use the code SLEEP for $2 off!

 

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Some women dream of Diamonds, I dream of Cookware {Ozeri Review}

Some women dream of diamonds and pearls. My good friend Janine dreams of charm jewelry. I tend to dream more practically, for gifts that fit in my closet or cabinet rather than on my wrist.

I know… who doesn’t love jewelry though? I love it, but I don’t dream of it.

I dream of being able to create awesome foods that I see on television, including do some of the fancy things that I see them do, like flip a pancake or make a perfect crepe.

But I think I might have realized my dream. I received the 8″ Green Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri, with Textured Ceramic Non-Stick Coating from Germany (100% PTFE and PFOA Free) and it was perfect! Check out how well it works here:

Ozeri ReviewI made eggs in each of my three pans – a “nonstick” pan, a stainless steel pan and the Ozeri Green Earth Pan. I’m not a fan of having an electric stove, but being in Florida, it doesn’t seem to be an option. The good thing, however, is in situations like this, you can quantify the temperature. I placed the stainless steel and the nonstick pan on 4, and the Ozeri pan on 3. Not only did the Ozeri pan cook much quicker because of the increased conduit of the surface, but it cooked cleaner. The Ozeri pan finished the eggs a full TWO minutes before my other two pans!

The taste test? Well, the softest, most succulent egg was the one from Ozeri. I think this is from the quick cook at a lower temp. It’s definitely the egg that I would actually pay for. Who knew I was eating such unappetizing eggs?

I have used this pan nonstop since I got it. Daughter wants a grilled cheese – DONE, son wants pancakes – DONE, husband wants a grilled steak – DONE! No scrubbing, no soaking and ALL green! Here are just a few facts about the pan:

  • This pan is made with Greblon® ceramic coating from Germany… not sure what that means, except you can’t stick to me! 
  • No harmful heavy metals or chemicals. Perfect to make sure that my children don’t ingest the metals contained in many pots and pans. 
  • Superior non-stick performance. Did you see above? Nothing, not a drop left on the pan!
  • Comfortable silicone handles. One of the things I don’t like about my stainless steel pan is that the handle is uncomfortable and HOT! This handle stays cool to the touch and can even go into my oven (up to 386 degrees).
  • No harmful fumes because of the eco-friendly coating. I love this since I can’t stand those fumes… None of my pans emit those fumes and I make sure of it before I buy it. My kitchen smells only like eggs, with a touch of butter. Did you see the video?
  • Easy to clean. Well, there’s nothing much to clean. I didn’t even see any residue. A quick wash and rinse will do!
  • Induction stove safe. Well, I don’t have an induction stove, but if you do, I’m sure it’s perfect for you too!

Greblon® is ultra-safe 100% PRFE and PFOA free ceramic non-stick coating from Germany!

I hope that you are in the market for the perfect Frying Pan. Ozeri makes these pans in sizes 8″, 10″ and 12″, as well as a 12″ wok, which will soon be added to my collection! Stir fry anyone?

Nameplate 2 with Be Blessed

Disclosure Blue Gold

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Working Mom’s Workout {Guest Post}

Being a mom takes up a lot of time. And energy. No matter how much you love it, this is a fact from every mom I know. I am a happily married mama to two little girls, ages 1 and 3, and I also work full time outside of the home as a registered nurse. Hectic doesn’t really begin to describe my daily life. By the time I get finished tucking the girls in at night I usually collapse on the couch in front of my computer or the TV. Sometimes I just go straight to bed when I finish nursing the baby. Because I’m tired.

So making time for a daily workout routine as a working mom is very challenging for me. Before I had my second baby I was at least sort of active. I was on my feet at the bedside each day. After my second baby, I changed nursing jobs and now I sit at a desk all day. I also gained over 50 pounds during my second pregnancy (while I was on modified bed rest for 25 weeks). I absolutely needed to work to get that extra weight off. A good workout routine wasn’t something I was successful at before I had my first child so finding time for it after my second child is that much harder.

Working Moms WorkoutThe biggest benefit was that I started my workout routine from Day 1 of returning to work after my maternity leave. I had a fantastic morning routine and I was completely motivated to get up early so that I had enough time to nurse my baby without feeling rushed. We have an elliptical that took up a lot of space and got practically no use initially. However, I don’t enjoy working out in front of others so I was very glad we had it once I started this workout routine. In those beginning weeks of working out, I let myself know that it was really okay to take things slowly. Besides having limited time for my workout, I simply didn’t have the stamina. I started out with 6 minutes on the elliptical. This may sound ridiculous, but that was the most my body could tolerate. I hadn’t moved much after months of bed rest and still had about 35 pounds of extra pregnancy weight. I  encouraged myself that 6 minutes is better than zero and to keep up with it. Additionally, I made sure to take the 6 flights of stairs up to my office at least twice per day. It may not seem like much but it’s better than standing on the elevator. I gradually increased my time on the elliptical and was able to get up the stairs to my office without getting winded.

And then around my baby’s first birthday…teething struck. Hard. The ear infection didn’t help nor did the scary wheezing episode. My youngest has never slept all that well but, at this point, I felt like a million bucks if I got to sleep for a four-hour stretch. This rarely happened. At 14 months we dropped the morning nurse. My motivation to get out of bed early was gone. That has gone on for almost 6 months now. My previous routine and passage of time has helped to bring me back to my original weight. But it’s not even about the weight. I’m still not happy with my figure. More than that, I know I need to exercise in order to truly be healthy.

After several months of failing miserably at getting up and using my elliptical (despite setting the alarm to do so) I decided to take part of my lunch break to at least get up and get moving. For the last couple of months I have been walking up 20 flights of stairs almost every day. My goal is to continue to increase both the number of stairs plus the pace that I take them. It’s still not a lot but it beats sitting at my desk reading a magazine.

My husband has recently resumed his exercise routine. He, too, was hit hard by the teething, sickness, no sleep phase. He signed up to run a race to motivate himself. Seeing him workout does help motivate me. Despite this, if I find myself up with either of my children in the middle of the night I tell myself it’s okay to hit snooze. Since one of them usually wakes up, that allows for a worn down snooze button. Hitting snooze is now a habit. A bad one. Finally, though, one day last week I got the heck out of bed. It was 5:30 a.m. I actually did have the energy. I think I was a little nervous. Even though I did (and still do!) say it was okay to only be able to do 6 minutes on the elliptical, I didn’t want to go back to that point. 6 minutes came though and I felt fine. I was able to stay on at a reasonable pace for 15 minutes. As I got in the shower I chanted to myself that I really can do this. I will pick it up even more in the coming weeks.

I have set a new rule for myself: If I don’t get up in the morning and workout on my elliptical then I have to exercise in the evening after the girls go to bed. Since I would rather plop down on the couch, I am hopeful it’s enough to get me up and moving in the morning. I’m still doing my flights of stairs at work. When I get home from work I make an effort to turn on music and dance with the girls occasionally. Once spring comes, I’m looking forward to being outside on family walks.This would actually get me moving at a moderate pace 3 times a day. If I don’t get to one of these due to a sleepless night, a lunch time meeting or bad weather I am hopeful to have completed at least one or the other exercise times. I plan to increase my time and pace. To people who are runners or go to the gym every day this all may seem like really small stuff. I used to feel a little embarrassed by how little I was doing. But then I realized I am doing the best I can with the little time I have as a working mom of two. And something is much better than nothing.

Julie blogs at Don’t Lick Your Sister where she shares her journey of the many unexpected  challenges and joys of life as a mom to two young daughters. She enjoys writing about her experiences of natural child birth and breastfeeding as well as life as a working mom,   activities she does with her family and many of the things she has learned from motherhood.

 

Connect with Julie!


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Be Still {Guest Post}

Where did all the years go?  Where did the young girl I used to be go?

What did I do with all that time?  Did I get to busy with life that I missed the living?

The Words “Be Still” carry a whole new meaning for me now than they ever did before.  Life goes by so fast, like a whirlwind. You look away for a moment and you’ve missed so much.  I’ve always worked hard to help provide for my family.  My home has always been clean.  My kids clean and fed. After all that’s what we are supposed to do, right.  It’s called being responsible.  Yet, today I feel a longing for, well I don’t know, I guess time.

Days gone by have now turned into years.  They were good years but still in the back if my mind there is a longing for the things I didn’t do, or maybe just a desire for things I might’ve done differently.  All those days, hectic with my mind always racing into the future addressing things to come rather than enjoying the moment I was living.

I feel a warm breeze on my cheek.  I turn to see the sun setting in the distant sky.  It is so beautiful and the warmth of it’s glow is so soothing.  What magnificent beauty to behold.  Oh, what a beautiful moment to share with my husband.  I must find him before the sun is totally gone for the day.

“Bob?  Bob honey where are you?”  Hmmm, I don’t recall him going anywhere.  Maybe tomorrow we can share the sunset.  I watch the sun slowly disappear on the horizon.  With the sun gone the warm breeze turns cool in the night air and brings with it a slight chill.  I wrap my arms around myself and decide it’s time to go inside and get the kids tucked into bed.  I slowly make my way back into my home.  My refuge, my fortress, my safe place.

I slowly ascend the stairs to the second floor landing.  I stop at the top and listen to see if I hear the kids in their bedrooms or if they are in our bedroom as they are so many nights.  They love to curl up on our bed and watch TV while waiting for mom and dad to shoo them off to bed.  I don’t hear anything, anything, it’s so quiet.  Could they have fallen asleep while I was outside?  It was so peaceful that I guess I did loose track of the time.  I’ll check our bedroom first.

I walk quietly down the short hallway to our bedroom and slowly open the door only to find our bed empty. I glance at the clock on Bob’s bedside table.  It’s only 8 o’clock, still early.  Oh, well I guess they must have given up on me to come inside and went to their rooms. The house is too quiet. Those kids are up to something.

I make my to Abby’s room, my oldest, my drama queen.  Carefully open her door so as not to wake her if she’s sleeping.  Abby is 8 going on 18.  Her room is empty and the bed is still made.  She must be in Brandi’s room, her 5 year old sister.  Sometimes the girls like to sleep together.  Oh well, at least they’re being quiet tonight, that’s unusual.  Hmmm, something about Abby’s room feels different tonight.  I guess I’m just feeling a little off tonight.   I just feel a little strange, I guess I’m a little more tired than usual.

At Brandi’s door I listen for giggling before I open the door a say “gotcha!” Just like I always do and the girls run and giggle louder.  Those two are a pair, my little monsters.  I hope they don’t want to play for to long tonight, I’m too tired for a long struggle to get them to go to sleep.  I slowly and quietly open the door to check on the girls.  “What the hell?  What’s going on?  Girls where are you.  I mean it, answer mom right now!”  Nothing, not a sound.  “Ok girls, this is not funny anymore.  You answer mommy right now or you’re both in big trouble!”  Still only silence meets my ears.

Ok now I’m just mad.  This is so not funny.  They better not wake the baby up by being in his room.

I just can’t deal with anymore crying right now.  I’m just to tired for this crap tonight.  I knew those peaceful minutes outside would not last, that feeling was just to good.  And with this thought I stomp off down the hall to the baby’s room.

Again, I slowly open the door.  No sound.  I tiptoe to the baby’s crib.  “What?”  Bob!  Bob!  Bob the kids, Bob do you have the kids!”  Now I’m panicking.  Breath, breath I tell myself.  Ok, Ok, everything’s ok, Bob just has the kids outside maybe.  Then I remember Bob’s not home.  Bob’s not home!  Where are my kids!   Where is Bob!

No, no!  “Kids where are you!  Answer mommy!  I’m not mad anymore.  Mommy is just scared.  Please answer Mommy….”  I manage with a squeaky terror filled voice.  Nothing, not the slightest noise.  The silence is deafening!  “Help me, somebody please help me!”

I run through the house, nothing, no one.  My house is empty.  The only sounds are my cries of terror.  “My kids, Bob, please somebody help me.  They’re all gone.  Please…….!  I don’t understand, where is everyone, where is my baby?  “I need my baby, Jacob, Jacob, honey where are you?  Jacob, please cry so mommy can find you, please cry, please cry baby!!!.  Please……”.  But the only cries are my own.  “Oh God, what’s going on?  Where are they!  Please help me!”

My legs grow shaky, I collapse onto the floor, sobbing like a hurt animal.  My tears are hot against my face.  Those terrible sounds of anguish are coming from me.  It’s me!  “What’s happening!”

As I lay in a crumpled heap, sobbing uncontrollably I feel a gentle hand touch my hair.  Then I hear a voice say, “It’s okay child.  You are safe.  Be still child.”  The words were so gentle and low that at first I though I had imagined it.  Then the touch of the wonderful hand rubbing my hair, it’s Bob, Bob is here, it’s Bob.  I must be dreaming.  Bob is here and the kids are alright.  I’m ok, it’s just a dream.  I manage to raise my head only to realize that it’s not Bob.

“Get away from me!  Who are you?  Where is my family?  What did you do to my family?!”

“They’re all gone child.  You’ve grown old and Bob passed away 10 years ago.  Your children are all grown and live scattered around the world.  You’re all alone child. ”

“No, no, that’s ridiculous.  I’m not old and Bob isn’t dead.  What have you done to him!  Where are my kids!  Bob, Bob, help me!!!!!!!”  Not a sound to be heard.  “You’re crazy, I’m not old and my kids should be in their beds!  Look at me, do I look old to you?”  I put out my hands to show him how young they look.  Oh my God, my hands, what’s wrong with my hands?  They are old and wrinkled and old.  I’m old?  How?  When?  I was young this morning?  My kids were here this morning?  Bob was here?  I worked late today?  Right?

He reaches out his hand.  “You are alone child.  Hear the quiet.  The house is quiet and peaceful.  There’s no crying baby, no screaming, fighting girls.  Bob isn’t going to fuss at you over dinner being late nor tell you again about how bad his day was.  You can sit and have your coffee in quiet now.

It’s what you always wished for child.  You now have your wish granted.  You can do anything you want with your time now”

“No, no!  That’s not what I wanted.   I want my family back.  I want to hold my baby, I want to hear Jacob cry for his mommy.  I want to hear my girls giggling again.  I want Bob to hold me.   Please, this is not what I wanted.  Please, please…. this is not what I wanted.  Please…….”.  My sobs again are deafening in the silence that surrounds me.  I’m in a heap on the floor again.  I just want to die.  What did I do.  What did I do.  I didn’t mean it!  I want my family.  I’ll make time.  I’ll enjoy my time with them more.  I’m so sorry, I love you all so much. Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.  I want my time back.  I’m so sorry.

Then, nothing. Only silence.  Terrible, awful silence. …………..

“Angel, Angel.  Honey are you ok?  Angel?”

My mind feels foggy.  I feel dazed.  Bob?  It’s Bob.  “Bob?”

“Yes, honey it’s me.  Are you ok?  Why are you on the floor?  What’s the matter?  Why are you crying?   Angel, what’s wrong honey?”

“Bob!  Bob you’re here!  It’s you, you’re here and you’re alive!  Bob, you’re here!”  I say as I throw my arms around his neck and kiss his entire face.  “You’re here!  Bob I love you, you know that right?  I’m sorry I was cranky earlier.  I’m sorry Bob.  Please forgive me.  Don’t ever leave me Bob.  Promise you will never leave me.”  my tears are flowing again as the words tumble from my quivering lips.

“Angel, what are you talking about.  I’m never leaving you.  I love you, you know that.  I’m not going anywhere.  Are you sure you’re ok?”

“Bob, the kids!  Oh God, Bob the kids.  The kids are gone Bob, the kids are gone!”  comes these painful panicked words from my mouth.  Bob, where are the kids?  The kids, Bob, the kids are gone!   The kids are gone!”

“Angel the kids are fine.  They are all in their beds sound asleep.  I just checked on all three of them.  They are sleeping like little angels tonight.  They went straight to sleep while you were outside.  No argument whatsoever.  They must have sensed you needed a little time alone.”

“Time?  Alone?  No, oh no.  I don’t ever want that much time alone.  NEVER AGAIN.”

“Honey, you’re not making much sense but let’s get you upstairs and you can lay down and you’ll feel better.  You’ll be ok in the morning.  You’ve been really stressed lately.  I’m sure you’ll be fine tomorrow.”

We walk to our bedroom and checked each child’s bedroom on the way to ours.  All my kids are safe and warm in their beds.  The wonderful sounds of their breathing is like music to my ears.  When safe in our bedroom.  I look at Bob and say, “Bob, honey will you pray with me tonight.  Will you pray beside me?”  Bob takes my hand in his and we kneel together beside our bed.  Words will not come for me only tears of joy and thankfulness.  Tears that I’m sure God understands.  And in the midst of my tears, I once again hear, “Be still child”.  I can’t wait until tomorrow.  A new day, a day I can start over again, a day with no mistakes in it.  Fresh, new and for me to find my peace and for now I can Be Still.
Angel

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The Creativity of Cooking with Coconut Oil

This year, I promised myself that I would change the way I eat. I’ve made that promise every year for the last four years. Since I start out the year with the Daniel Fast (basically a vegan, all natural diet), every January goes well, but by February I fall off!

Cooking with Coconut Oil Review

What do I plan on doing different this year? I’m going to learn and prepare more natural recipes! So, when I received an offer to review a book on the popular coconut oil, I jumped at the opportunity.

The problem is that my wallet didn’t.

I’m not saying the ingredients were expensive, I’m just saying that I was not prepared for the cost of rebuilding my pantry after moving cross country. When you don’t have basics in the house (like salt, pepper, eggs, any form of meat), it’s hard to go buy coconut flour.

That said, I poured over the recipe book, like I’ve never done. See, the book is Gluten-Free AND Grain-Free! I turned page after page trying to decide which recipe I’d try first. Lemon Meringue Pie? Primal Burgers? Waffles?

What did I land on? Bread. Sandwich Bread to be exact. I’m addicted to bread. See, I love a good piece of buttered toast or a loaded sandwich. How do you do that without gluten or grains and still make it taste good?

Well, Elizabeth found a way.

wpid-storageemulated0PicsArtbread-making.jpg.jpg

Using coconut flour, flax seed and almond butter, the bread is a very close replacement to what we already buy. Ms B wanted to get involved, even though I planned to have her help, she was so excited that I was cooking something she could help with, she even smiled for the picture!

My husband and son ate it for dinner and only half the loaf was left. He even ate it with the dinner that I prepared, even though I had told him he didn’t have to. See, my husband doesn’t eat anything “healthy” unless it actually tastes good. He’s all for having a healthier diet, but he’s not interested in sacrificing taste.

The loaf we made was about half the size of a regular loaf, but was definitely more filling. I cut the slices the same thickness of regular bread, but I needed to cut them in half. It was actually TOO much bread for the burgers we had.

Each loaf is reasonably priced at approximately $2 a loaf, it’s definitely easy to make the switch from a whole wheat bread from the store to this bread.

Nameplate 2 with Be Blessed

Disclosure: I received the cookbook in exchange for the review. All opinions within are my own. If you choose to purchase the book through any of the enclosed links, I may receive compensation.

 

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