Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I am just ecstatic over the progress I have seen in my health, lately! I thought I should update so I don't forget what amazing things have happened. When I first cut out sugar, gluten, and soy, I thought it would be a good idea to restart the exercise program I had started but was having a hard time keeping up my energy to complete the workouts. I love Chalene Johnson's Turbo Jam workout program. Everything about it, the kick boxing, music, dancing, and capoeira moves just speak fun to me. She came out with a strength training program, Chalean Extreme and a high intensity Turbo Fire program. I borrowed Chalean Extreme from Cristine and Ryan got me Turbo Fire for my birthday. I figured if I did the hybrid program, I would stand a chance at losing the baby weight that I had gained with Leah and never lost since I was to that point. That was my focus.

Then, it took so much energy to just change how I prepared our meals, that my exercise went out the window as I focused on what to eat. Eating like a diabetic celiac with a soy allergy is not as tough as it sounds. Oh wait, yes it is. There are so many catch 22's. Take bread, for instance. If it doesn't have gluten, which is good for the celiac part, then it has sugar, bad for the diabetic part. Trying to find the right bread mix is going to be hard. A lot of the gluten free breads are high in starches, like rice and grasses, that are high on the glycemic index. So evaluating food takes a lot more thought and preparation as I try to pair low glycemic foods with high ones to minimize the sugar spikes, but also be free of gluten.

After the first few weeks, it is getting easier. Thank goodness the girls aren't overly picky! I figure now is the perfect time for this so they can become accustomed to fresh foods and learn to like them while they are young, instead of fighting a stubborn teenager down the road. I think of how I used to sneak spoonfuls of sugar to pour on my Frosted Flakes, and how many times Mom told me I needed to lay off the sugar for my health. Well, twenty years later, it's finally sunk in. I've always done better when I understand the whys and hows. And, I guess, now I do.

I was able to get in some exercise and actually complete them in the past week. After my first workout, though, I thought I should see if my eating better had helped at all from when I first did all my measurements. I had seen weight-loss on the scale, but just chalked it up to water weight. But it wasn't just in my head. I lost .5 inch around my waist and 1.5 inches around my belly! I lost .5 inch on each of my thighs and 1 inch around my hips! I felt like Quincy on "Little Einsteins" who always exclaims, "I can not believe it!"

I've been told for so long to double my timetable for weight-loss, to celebrate a half pound loss if it came, and that I would be at risk for Type II diabetes because of my slower metabolism, which makes gaining weight super easy and losing it incredibly difficult. And I lost eight pounds in one month. Just from changing my diet. I am in utter shock. I still have a hard time believing it and this revelation came a week ago. I'd been diligent at counting calories, but I was eating all the wrong stuff. Since I changed our diet, I haven't counted calories once. I've just been paying attention to the first signs of satiation. I eat when I'm hungry. Snack on nuts, fruit, and veggies. And eat as fresh as possible.

It dawned on me recently, when Monica was singing "I Love To See the Temple", at the end, she always says, "I'll repair myself while I am young". Even though we correct her with the right words, she always says 'repair'. Anyways, while I was considering a menu, she was singing it and I just felt more strongly than I ever have about the divine nature of our bodies truly being temples. If we are to strive to make our homes like temples, where the Spirit can dwell, I ought to be doing what I can for my body and my family's to be healthy and whole so that the Spirit can dwell with us. And my body needs repairing, so that I can be around and be the mom and wife I want to be. It hasn't been fair that I get so exhausted that Ryan has to pick up more than his share of my slack. It hasn't been fair that we had more 'movie days' than 'play with my kids' days. And it hasn't been fair to me, when there has all along been something more I could do about it, that I have felt as slow, sluggish, foggy and down as I had been, all for a lack of knowing. I don't feel the Spirit as well, or pay attention to promptings, when I don't have energy to follow through. I don't feel that desire to align myself with God's will when I am down on myself and can't think straight. This last month has been life-changing in a way I can't help but want to share. I just keep finding studies upon studies that show the extent to which our culture's diet has made our bodies susceptible to disease. The sheer amount of diagnoses, and most of them food related, is astounding. But don't take my word for it. In the words of Network Television, "The more you know, the more you grow." The information is out there. We just have to find it. And do our own experiments for ourselves.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Pictures

Easter Baskets

We asked the Easter Bunny to keep the candy to a minimum this year. I don't think the girls minded!
 I had fun decorating the baskets.
 Monica's face says it all.

Our Easter Bunny tradition is that we color our eggs on Saturday and put them in our baskets before the girls go to bed for the Easter Bunny to hide and then he fills the baskets with goodies. After they empty their goodies, the girls then look for the eggs we colored.

Egg Decor

We kept our egg decorating simple this year. Someone, some genius somewhere, invented these no-spill egg decorating bowls. They were fantastic! I know we would have had a multi-colored carpet without them. Anyways, the girls loved it, as usual. And as usual, more effort went into the preparation and cleanup than the actual event. But I feel like these little moments and memories will be worth all the effort.
 See the no-spill cup? Genius!
 The only drawback was you had to catch the egg.
Look at our colorful fingers!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monica's First Field Trip

One of the fun things about Monica being in school is that we get to go with her on field trips! On April 15th, we met her class at the El Paso Zoo. We passed a few animals before I remembered I'd brought my camera with me. We had a blast and Leah has been asking to go to Monica's class and the zoo ever since!
 We decided there were more little monkeys on our side of the fence than on his.
 Not only does he walk slowly, he even drinks slowly, too!
 This monkey was sitting there all by its lonesome.
The other monkeys were hopping all around and no one invited her to play.
 I love the little garden area. I think it's a memorial garden because there were plaques and stones with people's names on them. I loved the colors of the blossoms.

 This one was my favorite. 
In other words, Anna, you can't have any!
 Mrs. Springler's 2010-2011 Kindergarten class. 
With one wishes-she-could-go-to-school.
 This sea lion just looked so comfy floating on his back, letting the water fall on his tummy.
What a life!
 Sea lions seem so peaceful.
 These guys were in a pecking war when I passed by.
 Leah loves the zebras.
 It's official. I want a meerkat.
It's Melman! We were hoping to find a hippo, but there aren't any in El Paso.
 I thought it was so sweet that Monica's classmates helped Leah anytime she needed a boost to see something. This little boy holding Leah and Monica's hands, Jonathan, is who Monica says is her best friend in her class. She says that Jonathan is always nice to her and helps her when she falls down on the playground.  
 Monica's class said she was Nala.
 And he was Simba.
 Black bear, black bear, what do you see?
 Pretty bird!
 I think this little cat is mine and Leah's favorite part of the zoo. He just looks so sweet all curled up on his rock!
 The cheetah. Rowr!
King Louie. He was really fun to watch. At one point he picked up a stick and was trying to fish something out of a mailbox-looking-thing.

Jillian liked not being in her car seat. 

We always love going to the zoo, and we especially love when we get to hang out with Monica more. I picked her up from school this week and she asked me if I missed her. I told her I miss her everyday she is at school and it makes me so happy to have her come home. She giggled and then thought for a minute before saying, "I miss you, too, Mom. Tonight, can we snuggle?" Love my girl!

30 Years Old

Things were pretty hectic this year around Ryan's birthday. The couple weeks before, Monica had a case of strep throat and then Leah had a nose that wouldn't stop running, so I hesitated inviting people over to celebrate Ryan's milestone. Then, when we found out about Essential Oils' On Guard blend, the girls got better. Just in time for our trip to St. George. So, I got the idea to throw Ryan a surprise party after his birthday, since most surprises are before. I couldn't have picked a busier day for the surprise. I thought two weeks after his birthday would be perfect since he wouldn't be thinking about his birthday anymore. Since I invited a ton of people, I was worried our little house wouldn't be able to accommodate all the adults and kids. So I made the invitation an Open House. "Come when you can," sort of thing. I shouldn't have worried.  In the two weeks since I sent the invites, friends were dropping like flies. It was a busy day. For everyone. Luckily, Lesa came up from El Paso and helped me to get the food made and the cake turned out awesome! It was a devil's food cake mix, with Wilton frosting blended with real, freshly crushed peanut butter. We also crumbled up Reese's peanut butter cups and stuffed the middle layer of frosting with crumbles.

I sent Ryan to a movie, and then on a search for limes and Simply Limeade. He came home and it was the moment of truth. Did he suspect what I was planning? No, no he really didn't. In fact, Lesa and I were reminded of when he found out I was pregnant for the first time. These were the only two times he's been truly surprised. And he didn't take it well both times. We had to laugh later, once he'd got over it, that his reaction was more like he found out we'd shot his favorite dog than that we were throwing him a surprise party. He pulled himself together just as Lesa was leaving and the Curnutts and Sam Parry came over. We were able to get in a game of Corn Hole, which is always fun!

So, my attempt to celebrate Ryan's thirty years on this beautiful planet didn't quite go as planned, but it's ok because everyone loved the cake! (By the way, thank you Lesa for baking it!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

No sugar, no soy, no gluten. Say what?!

At the beginning of March I decided I was sick and tired ... of being tired. Not in the way that babies-who-don't-sleep-through-the-night-yet makes you tired. Tired in the way that I had to talk myself out of bed. Every. Single. Morning.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, hypothyroidism almost eight years ago. And I did well on the levothyroxine for a while. But for the last couple years I have still had all my symptoms. And then Kris suggested I start researching what I should be eating for optimal thyroid function. The results of my weeks of research culminated in a suggested diet of no sugar, no refined carbohydrates (white breads and rice, cookies, etc.) no unfermented soy, no polyunsaturated fats and no gluten. I decided before I bought into it, that I would experiment to see if it would be worth it and what the effects of these things had on me. Soy was pretty straightforward. Slows metabolism, makes you fatter, more sluggish. Polyunsaturated fats block thyroid secretion. But what about sugar and gluten? I understood what they blocked, but not how it would make me feel.

I went off of sugar, gluten, and p.u.fat for three days. And that's all it took for me to become a believer in avoiding them. I was alert. I could get out of bed as soon as I woke up, no hitting the snooze button fifteen times. I didn't need two or three power naps during the day. If you think I'm exaggerating, ask Ryan what a zombie I've been and the energized woman I've become. After those three days, Ryan and I discussed whether or not it was fair to change our entire family's diet just because I have a health issue. We decided the benefits outweighed the negative. So I went through our pantry and tossed everything with soy, soybean oil, soy lecithin and soy protein in a box to donate.

But I still wanted to know what the difference between sugar and gluten on my immediate physical response would be. So, I had some bread. And some crackers. And some rice. I overdid it, really. And I paid dearly for it. I had the worst stomach-ache that night and an overall heaviness in my gut. It was not pretty.

I waited a week in between gluten and sugar. And sugar sapped all my energy. I was back to sluggishness, and needing power naps. Needless to say, I was sold. But what has soy, sugar, (including the ever-present high fructose corn syrup) and gluten? Everything. Seriously. Go through your pantry. I dare you to find 10 items without at least one of them. What's left are obscure foods like vegetables, and fruit, and whole (gluten-free) grains.

 I've made some new friends in the last couple weeks. Our palate is changing to accommodate unrefined virgin coconut oil and quinoa. It'll take some getting used to. Oh, but butter has been welcomed back with open arms. Turns out it's not the heart-attacking fat after all. It's a complete lifestyle change, but one I know will be worth it. For our whole family. We'll have to always have a garden. And we'll probably need to develop the skill of canning. But what better way to get better at nutrition, than to study it?

That's right. I'm hoping to add registered dietitian to my resume over the next 10 years. It'll be slow going, but I'll be going. I feel so strongly about the need for this kind of particular knowledge. When in three weeks, I can turn my energy around, simply by avoiding what I now have to consider as poisonous foods. I have to do it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reading Princess

One of the things Monica and I have been doing is this program called, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." We have about two weeks left of the program, and I am just amazed at what a good reader Monica is becoming! She loves to read books, magazines, store signs, advertisements, you name it. If it has words on it, she is sounding it out. 

Recently, after Monica came home from school, I noticed her pull out her dress-up box and watched her accessorize her outfit. She is really becoming quite the fashionista as well. Anyways, once she was satisfied she looked the best she could, she tap-tapped her way out in her heels to the grass, sat down, and opened up the little reader pamphlet she got in school that day and set to work sounding out her words. I couldn't resist taking a picture of my little fashionable book worm. 

Spring Break in St. George

One of the fun things we did in St. George was dip strawberries in chocolate.
Kris found these ginormous berries at Costco and the girls just went to town.
Especially Leah, who can never get enough strawberries. Ever. 
It was a wonderful treat!

 Every time I look at this picture of Gramma and Monica, it just warms my heart. 
How can you not smile?

 Sweet sisters checking each other out.

Our last day in Utah, we headed up to Cedar City to see our friends, Bob and Amanda Gedeborg and their sweet family. Ten years ago this fall, these guys were mission companions in Buena Vista, Virginia. And now, between them, they have 8 girls and 1 boy. I think all the girls were in heaven having each other to play and scream with. Ben might have felt just a tad outnumbered.
We love the Gedeborgs!!

Now, did I mention that the house we were visiting waves a Cougar flag? Ok, maybe not literally, but they are avid BYU fans, and since BYU had two games while we were there, I got to see what Jimmer was all about. I'd heard about him all over Facebook. But I always thought maybe he was just one of those players with way too much hype. And maybe he is. But I have to hand it to Jimmer Fredette. The boy has skills. The first game I watched, it was actually really fun. Then came the Sweet 16 game and it was a little painful, but he still had a few good moments where I could see what the hype was all about. And in a gesture of true love, Gramma, Kris and Lonnie decided to forego seeing the game live in order to have a birthday dinner for Ryan at Chuck-a-Rama before we left.
Then we made the long trip home with a short stop in Albuquerque to eat at Tucanos for Ryan's birthday.
The girls each ate several chicken hearts.
They must be good.
I'll take their word for it!