Tag Archives: family

Lessons from the First 4 Months of Motherhood

Motherhood is sure stretching and growing me in many ways. I’m only 4.5 months in, so I’m a total newbie still, but if there’s one lesson that stands out in my mind so far, it would be this:

You are not in control.

Ha. Any mom who is reading this right now is probably chuckling and nodding her head.  I sat next to a really sweet lady at church a few weeks ago and we got chatting about our kids. Hers were several years older than mine and she asked how I was adjusting to life with a baby. I said, “Well, it’s definitely teaching me that I’m really not in control!” She laughed and said, “Honey, control is an illusion. None of us are ever in control.”

So. True.
But before having a baby, I definitely lived under that illusion at times. Okay, most of the time.
My life was so orderly, running like a well-oiled machine (for the most part). And there’s nothing like having a baby to teach a Type-A, schedule-loving, extremely organized person that life will be so much betterimg_2379 if you just let go of trying to be in control!

You realize as a mom that everything is flexible. I used to hate that word!! 😛 Now it is my lifesaver and my mantra.

Want to meet for coffee? Ok, I’ll be there around 10:30. Oops, baby had a diaper blowout…be there at 11!  Need to run to the grocery store? Wait, she’s falling asleep so I think we’ll just go after nap-time. Babies are great at helping us crazy Type-As learn to just go with the flow. 🙂 It wasn’t an easy transition for me, but I’m slowly getting more used to it and becoming more…dare I say it, flexible.  😉  let-go-of-control

Because I’ve always been a timely person who hardly ever cancels on anyone and hates to make changes to the original plan, I feel horrible when I have to reschedule or arrive late to a coffee date with a friend. It doesn’t happen too often any more (I’ve learned to build in a 20 minute buffer to get out the door, haha!) but when it does I always apologize profusely and struggle not to feel like an awful person for keeping someone waiting. Did I mention I also have a perfectionist side? I’ve also been learning a lot about being okay with imperfection in my life. (Not that I ever thought I was perfect, but I definitely tried to be.)  I think I need to re-read the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. My counselor recommended that to me during my recovery from anorexia, and it was very instrumental in my healing. Anorexics are notorious for being perfectionists, and I was definitely not the exception.

Speaking of imperfection, motherhood has helped me be okay with an imperfect house too! While I still maintain a pretty clean home and keep up with the dishes and laundry for the most part, I’ve loosened the reigns a lot when it comes to dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. I realized one day that my friends would still love me and come over to hang out even if my coffee table was dusty and my bathroom hadn’t seen Windex in a couple weeks time. Imagine that.

All of this to say, I’m really grateful for these lessons that motherhood is teaching me so far. I’ve got a long ways to go, but my other favorite mantra in this stage of life is “one day at a time” so I’m just going to keep chugging along. 🙂

Not only is this little cutie an amazing joy and blessing, but she’s teaching me so much every single day. I’m really thankful for this mama life.  ❤

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Favorites of Fall with Lydia

I’ve loved this Fall season with our little girl! Once she hit the 3-month mark, she became so alert, interactive, and responsive to the things around her, which makes everything more fun!!

We went to the pumpkin patch with my family one evening and she was fascinated at all the people and pumpkins.
After picking out some fantastic pumpkins, we went back to my parents’ house to eat IMO’s pizza, the best!!


For my birthday on Oct 18th, Rob planned a fun day of surprises for me!! He let me sleep in (what a treat that is nowadays! 🙂 ) and I came downstairs to him cooking an amazing breakfast: omelets, bacon, fruit, OJ, the works!! Then we went and worked out (he knows me so well, haha!) and then he told me to pack up and we headed off to apple picking!! It was such a beautiful day for it, and even though we were near the end of the apple picking season, we managed to come away with a great haul. Lydia’s favorite part was riding behind the tractor through the orchards.

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That night, Rob had arranged for his parents to come babysit for us and we went on an awesome date night to a new-to-us place called The Rack House Winery in Cottleville! Our meals were amazing, and when Rob mentioned it was my birthday they brought out an incredible dessert: homemade brownie with caramel ice cream, bourbon whipped cream, and a sprinkling of bacon on top! We weren’t too sure about the bacon at first but it actually went really well with the sweetness of the brownie. Overall we loved this restaurant and definitely want to come back sometime!!

We ended our date night just chatting at Starbucks… it’s crazy how special those times are now since we have a little one at home! Having some time to just sit and talk without distraction is something we never take for granted any more! 🙂
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Speaking of time to chat, Rob’s mom came over on Wednesday so Rob and I could get out for a little date-time in the afternoon! We went to a park just a few minutes away with a blanket, some coffee, and a deck of cards. Loved getting to enjoy this beautiful fall weather with my guy.

For Halloween, my mom got Lydia an adorable little butterfly costume! We went to a party at a friend’s house and Rob and I threw together some last-minute costumes when we heard our friends were dressing up. (Cowgirl and Crocodile Hunter, in case you were wondering!! 😉 )


We’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible outside with Lydia before the weather gets too chilly! Pretty much every morning, she and I go out on the patio for a bit; she loves to watch the falling leaves, and I get some work done while we sit there together. When Rob gets home from work, he’ll often take her for a run at the park; being outside is her favorite! Yesterday I took her for a run at Creve Coeur Lake, and she stared at me almost the entire time with one finger in her mouth. Never fails to make me laugh, this one. 🙂
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She’s been waking up earlier and earlier these days, which makes me a tad bit terrified about what’s going to happen tonight with Daylight Savings!! I got spoiled because for the first couple months of her life she would sleep til 8:30 or 9am. We’re doing great now if she sleeps til 7! Thankfully her naps have gotten longer, though. They used to only last 30-40 minutes but recently we’ve had a pretty good streak of 1-2 hour naps going!!

Rob and I are loving this stage of life with Lydia. It’s amazing to watch her taking in everything around her. She’s so curious and fascinated by the simplest things. We love her to death and can’t believe how fast she is growing!!! I’ve never felt like time was flying by so quickly until I had a baby.

Can’t wait for the fun of the holiday season with our little cutie!! 😀

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Back to Blogging!!

I’m back!! After a VERY long hiatus from blogging, I’m excited to get back into this!! I’ve been wanting to start up my blog again for awhile now, primarily because a lot has been going on in my life and blogging is one of my favorite forms of journaling and remembering milestones and events.

Now that I’m a mostly-stay-at-home-mom who only works a few afternoons a week, I’m hoping I’ll actually have more time to devote to putting my thoughts on paper screen. Ideally, the little babe will take some nice long naps during which I can sit on my couch with coffee in hand and write, write, write! That’s the plan anyway. But if there’s one thing having a baby has taught me, it’s that I’m really not in control. 😉

Can’t believe how fast the time has flown; she is already 4 months old!! I’m planning to write up her “birth story” one of these days and share it here on the blog! But for now, here are some pictures of her teeny newborn cuteness!! 🙂

 

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Pumpkins and Puppies… the best of Fall!

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year. I love the changing colors of the leaves, the cooling temperatures after a hot summer (especially a St. Louis summer), and the anticipation of the holidays coming soon. An added bonus is that my birthday happens to be in October, which is perfect timing: I take a short break from arranging gourds and baking pumpkin pies to eat cake and blow out candles. It works perfectly. 🙂 Fall holds so many of my favorite things, and every summer I find myself getting a little anxious around the end of August, wondering when the weather will start to cool down and the first signs of the changing seasons will appear.

IMG_0853This Fall has been especially special (that’s a mouthful) because my hubby and I welcomed a new member into our family… a sweet little 12 week old puppy named Peyton. She was abandoned and found on the side of the road with the rest of her litter and subsequently cared for by a foster mom who works with a local shelter.

We took her home with us on September 20th, and instantly fell in love. She is such a sweetheart with an incredibly fun and spunky personality. (Sometimes that “spunky personality” means she destroys our bathroom rug and leaves a nice little “present” behind to sign her masterpiece.)

Everything about fall seems even better with a puppy to share it with. Pumpkin patches, hiking through the woods; snuggling on the couch with warm apple cider. (Might I say again, fall really is the best season??!)

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The first couple weeks with Peyton felt a little like having a baby. We were always coordinating her meal times and potty times and making sure we had toys, bones, blankets, pillows, and every other amenity a puppy might desire. Some might say we spoil her, and I wouldn’t really try to argue with that accusation. From day one, she’s had us wrapped around her little finger paw. She’s definitely got a good thing going on.

IMG_1143We’ve taken her everywhere. One weekend, she went to a Jazz and Blues Festival with us; didn’t seem to be her style of music, per se, but she enjoyed smelling all the BBQ. A few weeks later, I had a mini dance party with her in the living room to PitBull and that was definitely her jam.

Whenever the weather is nice, we try to take her to a small park down the road where she can run off some of her endless energy. She’s getting faster every day and loves bounding across the field to catch one of us.

IMG_1167Raising a puppy seems like a small taste (very small) of what parenthood is like. Rob and I are always checking in with each other about how she’s doing, what she’s discovering (one day, he found her drinking water from the toilet) and I’ve definitely been reading up on dog training techniques in my free time. Of course, dog training is MUCH easier than child training, but I’m already nervous enough, having the fate of a four-legged cutie in my hands. This is good practice for real parenthood, whew.

We’ve had some scary moments, like when the incision from her spaying surgery got red and swollen (she reacted to the glue they used, apparently) and we rushed her in to the vet. Tough day for our little girl. They gave her some antibiotics, and she snuggled in Rob’s arms all the way home.

There have definitely been some frustrating times, too. Like when we went out the second week on a date night (our first time leaving her alone like that) and sat outside at a beautiful restaurant, sipping some red wine and trying not to worry about her. We came home to a house that smelled of…well, you get the gist. She’s had an explosive (sorry, TMI) accident in her crate while we were out, and also managed to walk through the whole thing. Rob and I looked at each other and he said, “You get her a bath, I’ll clean up this mess.”  (I felt like I got the better end of that deal. Hard to be mad at her when she looks so adorable, soaking wet in the tub.)

Peyton at the pumpkin patch. She tried to eat hay the entire time.

At the pumpkin patch – loved trying to eat the hay!

Despite the scary moments and the frustrating potty training experiences, Peyton has been nothing but a bundle of joy (now I really sound like a parent… 🙂 ) and we are so thrilled to have her as our little girl. Rob and I both grew up in families with dogs, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to us that we would get a puppy at some point. Peyton is such an amazing little blessing and constantly makes us laugh with her crazy antics. Like the time we were carving pumpkins and she decided to give it a taste…

So, for the near future, I’ve become that annoying person that is constantly posting photos and videos to social media about how my puppy is so adorable. No shame. She IS adorable, right?? How could anyone stare into those puppy eyes and not fall in love? 🙂

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The Place I Go to Get Away

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The family dog and me, circa 1999

Have you ever had a special place of solace, somewhere you could go to think, or get away? It could be a quite coffee shop with comfy leather armchairs, or a wooded trail with scenic overlooks. Mine is a quaint, little park, just up the road from the house where I grew up.

My memories at this park go back to my early childhood, before the park was even a park. My siblings and I used to walk the two-tenths of a mile up the road with our friends to explore what seemed to us like a HUGE expanse of land at that very young age. The owner of the land lived in a sprawling one-story home on the property, and let the rest of it pretty much go wild. As wild as you can be in the middle of the suburbs, that is. There were a few unique features about the property, primarily the stable building and carriage house that sat a couple hundred yards away from the house, which had several actual stalls for horses – a novelty to a bunch of kids from the suburbs! And, as if that wasn’t cool enough, there was also a historic log cabin on the property that appeared unoccupied and abandoned, making it quite mysterious to our group of young adventurers.

When I was around the age of 10, the lady who owned the property passed away and there was a big uproar about what would be done with the land. I don’t remember much about it all, except that people were debating whether the land should be turned into a park or used for a new housing development instead. My siblings and I were rooting for the park to be built – a playground sounded much more fun to us than just a bunch of new houses. In fact, my entire family was pretty deeply invested in the park idea, to the extent that my mom took my sister and me to some of the city hall meetings regarding the outcome of this land. I felt pretty grown up, listening to the aldermen and townspeople discuss what should be done.

Eventually the decision was made: the land would be turned into a park. We were ecstatic. After waiting for what seemed like forever, the land was cleared and the park built, and our town held an official ribbon cutting ceremony on a hot and humid day in June.  It wasn’t long before we were up there all the time – taking the dog for walks, playing cops and robbers with our friends, and just reveling in the excitement of having our own little park. It was a pretty big event in the timeline of my childhood, to say the least.

Fast forward a few years, and the park had sadly lost its shiny new allure and become just another landmark on the drive home every day. I was about 13 years old, and was beginning to go through one of the most confusing times of my life – that terrifying transition known as “puberty.” I’m pretty sure every girl can relate to this in some form or another. All of a sudden, it seemed I’d lost complete control of my emotions and fallen prey to things like mood swings, random crying spells, and other unexplained behavior. My brother joked (years later, when I was able to laugh along with him) that he could have said “Pass the butter, please,” and I would have broken down in tears. It wasn’t quite that bad….but close.  😉

And so, I returned to that park on those days when I just didn’t want to be around anyone. On my toughest days, I would go up there just to cry, where no one could hear me.  I didn’t even know what I was crying about some of the time (oh the joys of being a girl!), but it felt good to cry it out. On the better days, I would take my journal and sit on my favorite bench to process things in my favorite way – with paper and pen.

This park was my spot. My place to get away and deal with all the crazy things I was feeling at the time. Somehow it was comforting, just sitting on my bench and being there.

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Senior year of high school

A few years later, it was my senior year of high school, when I had taken up running as a form of exercise. That park became part of my usual route. The path around the perimeter of the park was only ½ mile long, but I loved running up there, doing a few laps, and heading home. Altogether, it was about 2 miles. As I became a more proficient runner, I abandoned the park for longer routes and busier roads. I’d run 7, 8 or 9 miles at a time, sometimes to the Walgreens on Manchester Road or the seminary a few miles away, but as I ran out of my neighborhood, I always went past that little neighborhood park.

Then again, during another crisis in my life, the park reappeared as a place of solace and comfort. It was 2011 and I had moved home suddenly from India and begun treatment for my eating disorder. This park was there for me (not that the park had a choice, really…) during my recovery from anorexia, when I woke up daily at 5am to run. Obsessed about hitting at least 6 miles before I would allow myself to head home, I would often stop in to this little park to finish out my quota for the day. I remember running along that ½ mile path, thinking about my meals the day before, trying to count my calories and make sure I hadn’t gone over. I remember pushing myself to do one or two more laps, because I knew it would quiet the voices in my head and make up for any calories I’d missed from yesterday’s tally.

Months later, after many sessions with a counselor and a lot of hard work, I begun loosening up on my restriction and extreme exercise habits. But now, my battle with food took on a whole other twist. I couldn’t STOP eating. I began eating in secret, bingeing on large amounts of food, making myself sick, and being afraid to leave the house because of how “fat” I felt. In reality, I’d only gone up about 2 sizes in pants, but it happened so quickly that I was sure everyone had noticed and I felt embarrassed to even leave my house. I wore t-shirts and sweatpants whenever I could get away with it, and baggy tunic-style tops the rest of the time. I was so mad at myself for “losing control” with food and didn’t know how to stop the bingeing and weight gain.

Overnight it seemed, I’d become lazy and unmotivated. I’d completely lost my interest in any kind of exercise. It was all I could do get outside and go for a walk, but when I did, I would go up to that park, often in tears, and slowly make my way around the trail. I would mourn the long-gone days of 5am morning runs and the “high” they gave me. I missed the sense of control I used to have and the way I made my body obey me. But, looking back now, I can see that this was an important time in my recovery. During those months, I learned to exercise because I wanted to. I learned (slowly) to give up my compulsion and obsession with working out, and I gradually won the battle over binge eating. As my eating balanced out, so did my exercise routine. Now, I looked forward to those walks in the park and always felt refreshed and content as I soaked in the beauty of nature. Being outside filled me with hope, even on my toughest days. I began once again taking my Bible up to my favorite park, to read, journal, and think. I would talk to God as I walked, sometimes thanking Him for recent baby steps of progress in my recovery, other times begging Him with tears to get me through this hellish struggle. So many ups and downs, but many of them spent at that same park.

By the fall of 2012, I was in a more stable place in my recovery. I had begun to find myself again, learned to relax about my weight and diet, and found new hobbies to enjoy, now that I wasn’t obsessing about food all the time. I’d recently broken off a toxic relationship that had been feeding into my poor body image and insecurity, and I was feeling alive and free. Exercise was a part of my life, but it wasn’t my whole life. I ate a balanced variety of foods and stopped counting calories altogether.

My sister (left) and me, at her wedding

My sister was getting married, and I was the maid of honor. For once, I didn’t diet in order to feel comfortable in my dress. This was a huge step for me, and I felt the gravity of it and the progress it signified. The morning of my sister’s wedding, I woke up and realized I had about an hour until the day began with the arrival of the hairdresser and bridesmaids. I decided to walk up to my favorite park, and just enjoy the brisk, November morning. The temperature was perfect – the sun was out but the breeze made things just a little bit chilly. As I walked by the playground, I stopped to swing on the swings and go across the monkey bars, reliving all the times I’d done those things years ago.

As I left the park, I decided to run the two-tenths of a mile back to my house, but not because I wanted to burn calories; I actually just wanted to run because it felt like the best way to express the peace and happiness in my heart. As I sprinted down the road to my house, I felt like a little kid again, and the excitement of the day ahead made me giddy and free.

A year later, in 2013, I found myself in a new, much healthier, relationship with a guy. He and I went up to the park together in the evenings and made our way around the trail, often with my family’s dog in tow. We’d enjoy the sunset as we discussed our plans for the future, places we wanted to see together and things to check off of our bucket lists.

This is right before I started jumping...

This is right before I started jumping…

By the fall of 2013, he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand, and I was jumping up and down. (Literally, I started jumping and waving my hands around like a crazy person when he proposed… I’m fairly open about expressing my emotions…)

As we’ve made plans for our wedding and future life together, I’ve continued to visit this park from time to time, just to walk and think about everything happening in my life. I’m a very internal processor, so I need those times of solitude to sort through all the swirling thoughts in my head. Being outside, at that park, calms my heart and helps me relax. There are usually kids playing on the playground, who often ask to pet my dog. It feels comfortable and right, being there at that park where so many landmark moments in my life were spent.

A few weeks ago, I woke up on a Thursday morning and got ready to move my fiancé into our new place. We had an appointment to sign our lease together at 10, but I was wide awake at 7 because I was so excited. I leashed up the dog and walked to my park once again, enjoying the morning sunshine and spring breeze that felt just right. As I meandered along the path, I saw the big open field where we used to play catch or kick the soccer ball, or just run around with our childhood friends. I hollered at my dog and the two of us set off in a sprint across the field. We finished with a collapse on the other side of the field, and as I lay there in the grass, I realized how much this park has meant to me throughout my life, and the idea for this blog post was born.

Friends that know I’m into fitness have asked me if I plan to run on the morning of my big day…some even mentioned they’d heard of brides who run a race on their wedding day, which made me exhausted just thinking about it. Who knows, maybe I’ll take a quick run around the neighborhood, or maybe I’ll opt to sleep in and sip coffee on my parents’ screened-in porch. But at some time that morning, before the hustle and bustle of the day begins, I know I’ll make my way up to my little park that holds so many memories for me. Maybe I’ll be swinging on the swings or sprinting across the field. Or maybe I’ll just be sitting on the bench with my journal in hand, soaking in the excitement of the day.
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Who Keeps You Healthy?

A few weeks ago, I was approached by the American Recall Center and asked to participate in their latest campaign, “Who Keeps You Healthy?” which is a way for health bloggers, like myself, to share about the person in their lives that motivates and empowers them to be healthy. I was excited to participate in this campaign and began thinking of who in my life I would highlight in this post as the one who keeps me healthy.

My dog came to mind, because she is always eager to go for a walk, which often motivates me to get out in the fresh air. My parents have influenced my health by always having healthy, whole foods around their house and encouraging me to cook and bake since childhood. My fiancé helps me stay motivated to work out by going with me to the gym and always being up for a hike or jog at the park.  the beagle girl

However, as I thought more about all of the things that go into “keeping me healthy” I realized that the true credit for my health really goes to someone else.

I’ve been through quite a journey with my health, including a battle with anorexia, followed by binge eating, and then wrestling with poor body image for years. My weight has fluctuated a lot. I’ve gone through periods of restrictive “healthy” eating and periods of binge-ing on pizza and cookie dough. I’ve made tons of health resolutions, workout goals, and learned to give myself some grace along the way.

When it comes down to it, my health these days is the best it’s ever been, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve thought I was healthy many times in the past during my eating disorder and subsequent recovery, and I often fooled myself. But the kind of health I am living out at this point in my life is not just a healthy BMI or number on the scale, it’s a health that encompasses my emotional and spiritual life as well.

1097965_392214087544816_872314355_nThere have been many times in the past several years of my journey where I was “doing all the right things” in terms of health, but I was unhappy, stressed, hating my body, and frustrated at not being able to control my appetite and cravings. I’ve come to learn that health is so much more than just eating the right foods or getting exercise every day.

Health to me means being happy with my body, focusing on things besides how many calories I’ve eaten since breakfast or whether I worked out enough this week.  In a lot of ways, health for me is measured by how LITTLE I think (or obsess) about my health. Health for me is having a career I love, being in a nurturing relationship, and finding time to enjoy hobbies and downtime. Health is taking time in the morning to pray and be at peace, and taking time to enjoy the little things each day. It’s getting enough sleep, and letting go of worry and learning to forgive. It’s knowing when to skip a workout and read a book in the sunshine instead.

My health journey has meant letting go in so many areas, and just living life with more joy and peace. Giving up my obsessions with being skinny, learning to eat ice cream again without guilt, and finding a balanced workout routine that energizes instead of exhausts me.

And I’m not saying I’ve “arrived” at the pinnacle of health, but I’ve made so much progress from where I used to be. There were a lot of people that helped me along the way, as I mentioned above. But in the end, it was only by God’s grace that I got through the hellish trenches of my eating disorder and made it to where I am today.

1474395_10201127367930761_1712911136_n And it doesn’t end here. There are still days where I feel fat or frustrated with the size of my body. Especially since getting engaged, there have been more frequent thoughts in my head taunting me to start a diet or design a new, intense workout plan to prepare for the big day. I’ve had moments where I questioned my evening bowl of ice cream or the occasional potato chip feasts with my fiancé while watching a movie. But then I hear another voice in my head and heart, telling me to remember how far I’ve come and the work it took to get here. Reminding me that even when I was a size 0 and obsessively in control of everything that went into my mouth, I wasn’t happy.

Even when I was the epitome of a “healthy eater,” I wasn’t actually healthy. I was emaciated and depressed.

1098478_392213077544917_769335534_nThere’s no doubt in my mind that God and His grace is what has enabled me to get healthy again. And it’s His voice in my heart that keeps me healthy, gently reminding me to embrace freedom and never look back.

I’m so thankful for the many friends and family members that have been there for me throughout my journey, and above all, the faithfulness of God to lead me where I am today.

For more information on the American Recall Center, check out their website here!

3 Ways to Ward off Sickness This Winter!

It’s that time of year…Christmas is in the air, but so are lots of cold and flu germs!

No one wants to miss out on the holiday parties, cookie baking, and gift exchanges, so I’m here to give you my 3 top tips for warding off the germs this season!

 TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY:

1)      Build your immune system up so you’re better able to fight off the germs. This means eating lots of nutrient-rich veggies, drinking lots of water, and taking your vitamins. Regular exercise also helps equip your body to fight infection.

2)      Keep the sweets to a minimum. There’s no reason to deprive yourself of Christmas cookies altogether, but try not to go overboard. Large amounts of sugar temporarily weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Enjoy your candy, cookies, and chocolates in moderation – this means eating one or two, not the whole bag or plate!

3)      Get your zzzz’s. It’s a hectic time of year, but make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. When you don’t get enough sleep….you guessed it, your immune system is weaker! Beginning to see a common theme to these preventive tips? A lot has to do with keeping your immune system strong – i.e., giving yourself a fighting chance in the battle to stay healthy!

Ok….well, what happens when I do get sick??

As much as I’d like to say the 3 tips above will completely prevent a single sick day this winter, it’s just not realistic. Life gets the best of us sometimes, and even the healthiest person will find themselves nursing a scratchy throat and sniffling at a Christmas party sooner or later. It happens. And it happened to me this past week. (Which is largely what inspired me to write this post!)  head cold

 

Wednesday afternoon, my throat started getting sore and I began to feel that dread that comes the night before a cold really sets in. You know that feeling when you just know you’re about to get sick? It’s not fun. And before learning about holistic health, I would usually raise the white flag of surrender at this point, and resign myself to 5-7 days of a horrible head cold. Time to start stocking every room of the house with a box of Kleenex.

However, this time around, I decided I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The battle was on. It sounds dramatic, I know, but if you understood how much I DID NOT want to get sick this week, you’d be in battle mode too.

So, here’s what I did:

1)      Pumped myself full of immune-system-boosting vitamins! My favorite is Congaplex from Standard Process.    Since this is made of completely natural, whole-foods products, you can take them as often as possible. Whenever I start feeling sick, I pop 2 or 3 of these every hour!

apple cider vinegar2)      Gargled. With apple cider vinegar. It’s not fun, and it’s not tasty, but it gets the job done. Apple cider vinegar is amazing for many reasons (see the graphic on the right), one of which is clearing out the “gunk” in your throat and sinuses! However, not all apple cider vinegar is created equal; it’s important to get it raw and un-pasteurized, so that it still has the “mother” in it . My favorite brand is Bragg’s, which is available at Whole Foods and several other health foods stores.

3)      Drank lots of Throat Coat tea! My chiropractor was the one who first told me about this amazing remedy, and I’ve had a box in my pantry ever since. It’s available at your local grocery store, as well as CVS and Walgreens. I drink Throat Coat tea whenever my voice is feeling a little sore or hoarse, even if I’m not technically sick. It’s great stuff! throat coat tea

4)      SLEPT. I realized as I thought back on the past week that I hadn’t been getting nearly enough sleep, which is probably one of the reasons my body finally succumbed to the head cold boogie monster. Thankfully, I only had one client on Thursday morning and was able to reschedule with her so I could get some more sleep. I slept until noon and woke up feeling slightly better. Even though I didn’t notice a huge difference immediately after my nap, I really think the extra sleep helped me come out on the winning side with this cold. As I said earlier, when your body is sleep-deprived and exhausted, you are much more susceptible to the germs and viruses around you.

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. By Thursday evening, I was feeling much better and the cold never actually went to my head or chest. The sore throat was annoying for those 24 hours, but I’ll take that over a week-long head cold any day!

I know there will still be times that the cold, flu, or other nasty virus gets the victory over you and me, but why not do everything possible to nip it in the bud and get healthy again as soon as possible? Your body (and your friends and family) will thank you!

Here’s to a healthy Christmas season!

head cold

A Guilt-Free Birthday and What Made It Amazing

Two-thousand eight is the first year I remember getting nervous about my birthday. And not because I thought I was getting old (I was only turning 18) but because of the traditions associated with a birthday – specifically traditions that involve food.

Enjoying my birthday cupcake in the good old days without a care in the world.

Enjoying my birthday cupcake as a kid, without a care in the world.

Birthdays mean cake. And ice cream. And other delectable, indulgent goodies. And because of my battle with food, the celebration a birthday brings has also brought me fear and anxiety for the past 6 years.

During my anorexia, birthdays meant I would have to come up with plausible-sounding excuses to turn down my own birthday cake. It meant I would be online, searching the menus of local restaurants and trying to determine which one had the best salad options for my family birthday dinner.

When I was living in Dallas, co-workers would stop by my desk with cookies and cupcakes and I would politely explain that I would “save it for later,” while I knew in the back of my mind that it would end up in the trash can.  I wasn’t trying to be ungrateful or unappreciative; I was seriously so consumed and obsessed with my eating disorder that I could not IMAGINE letting go of my control, even for a day as special as my birthday.

Celebrating my brother's birthday, during my bingeing struggles.

Celebrating my younger brother’s birthday, in the midst of my battle with bingeing.

When I was battling my bingeing episodes, birthdays were even more scary, in a way. Instead of feeling “strong” and ready to refuse the cake and ice cream, I worried instead that I would not be able to stop eating them both. Many times – and not just on birthdays – I would refuse cake to appear “in control,” only to sneak down to the kitchen a couple hours later when everyone was asleep and gorge myself, anxiously listening for any steps on the stairway that might mean a discovery of my shameful habits. I stuffed piece after piece in my mouth, sometimes without even bothering to get a fork. Birthdays not only reminded me of these out-of-control bingeing memories, but also threatened a repeat episode. 

Last year, in 2012, I vividly remember sitting at Jason’s Deli with my parents on my birthday. Even though I was well into recovery, I was still terrified of most restaurants and only had a few “safe places” where I could eat without much anxiety. Jason’s Deli was one of them. With the huge salad bar option, I could choose exactly what went on my plate and know precisely how much I was eating. Jason’s deli was my security blanket when it came to eating out.

I’m happy and thankful to say that I’ve made a lot of progress since my last birthday. I now eat out at restaurants without anxiety and I never search menus online beforehand for calorie information. Instead of always getting a salad, I explore menus and try other things that sound good to me. I know this might sound petty or trite, but for someone in recovery, this is huge! God has really done so much in my life in the past year and definitely used my counselor in that process.

Fast-forward to this year… as my birthday grew closer, I began to contemplate restaurants for the annual celebratory dinner with my family. I spent some time on Google and searched for fun restaurants I’d never tried before. I did a lot of research – but it wasn’t to find the lowest-calorie meal option or the most extensive salad bar. I wanted to find a restaurant that would feel like a celebration of my progress in recovery. And I settled on Pi.  A local company that offers “award-winning deep and thin crust pizza in St. Louis, MO, serving lunch and dinner every day.”  I’d never been there before, but had heard tons of positive reviews from friends.

my birthday pizzaGoing to a pizza place on my birthday was somewhat of a way to prove to myself that I truly can enjoy those kinds of foods without guilt. A year ago – even six months ago – I would not have been able to do that.  Sunday night, I celebrated with my family: not just the fact that I’m another year older, but the new-found ability to enjoy foods like pizza once again. I’ve eaten pizza a handful of times in the past 6 years, always with tons of guilt and regret. But this time, there was only room at the table for fun and laughter.

As we sat at a corner booth and ordered appetizers, I listened to the guys discuss sports and give predictions on the upcoming World Series. I caught up with my sister and dared my 19 year old brother to finish his entire deep dish pizza (19 year old guys have incredible appetites). I chatted with my parents and my boyfriend and enjoyed each piece of my pizza. Then we went home and ate homemade pumpkin pie, and I enjoyed a nice, big piece along with everyone else. And as if that wasn’t enough fun for one night, we decided to watch the first Men in Black movie (my boyfriend had never seen it before!) and laughed our heads off for a couple hours together.

It was such a fantastic evening, and the most I’ve enjoyed my birthday in a long time. I was relaxed and content and able to focus on connecting with my family. I wasn’t planning a long run for the next morning to work off my pizza, or trying to calculate how many calories were in the pumpkin pie. Instead, I simply enjoyed the moment. With the people I love most. This is something my eating disorder robbed from me for way too long. I didn’t realize how much I missed all of this, until I experienced it again last weekend. pumpkin pie

Laughter. Loved ones. Pizza. Jokes. Stories. Memories.

I soaked it all in and enjoyed every last minute of my 23rd birthday .

I’m pretty excited about having this whole birthday thing every year now. Birthdays are no longer something to fear – they’re something to anticipate.