Monday, August 31, 2015

Fishy kisses

I think this is probably my last back-to-school post. And, really, it isn't because the newness is wearing off but because I'm about to turn into that mom that is running to the QT (which is a gas station by the way) on the way to school and buying a combination of jerky, fruit and bottled water and sticking it in the kid's lunch boxes as if that was the plan all along. The crazy thing is my kids would LOVE that!! They think they are so neglected because I don't send them with Lunchables to school every day. As if somehow I'm punishing them with the delicious lunches I slave over every Sunday. (Let's face it, it has been one Sunday but there are just sooooo many more Sunday's in my future!!!!)

And let me tell you, I am battling with whether or not to keep this masochistic form of slavery up. Last Sunday I spent the majority of my day after church cooking in my kitchen, which, by the way, I actually love to do and enjoy. But it kinda felt like I missed out on my rest day, you know? And honestly I could have used the the rest. Back to school is exhausting!

It was a lot of work. It took planning, budgeting, shopping, scheduling, and then 4 hours of work all to make five days of lunches and breakfasts and two dinners. 

My menu was
Dinner 1: zucchini noodles and meatballs
Dinner 2: pulled pork tacos with coleslaw
Lunches for Monday and Wednesday: meatball, raw zucchini and marinara, spinach leaves, and blueberries. 
Lunches for Tuesday and Friday: pulled pork tacos, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, sweet potato chips. 
Breakfast 1: Breakfast sausage balls
Breakfast 2: Bacon 
Breakfast 3: Quinoa oatmeal

So, is it worth it? Yes. It actually was. It was so nice to just pull out the next day's lunch containers and stick them in lunch boxes ready to go. I wasn't coming home from work exhausted and opening my fridge hoping to magically come up with a healthy and tasty lunch every evening. It made the mornings so peaceful because the kiddos knew their breakfast options and all Levi or I had to do was pop them in the microwave to heat up. And because we get home so late from the gym I really, really appreciated that dinner just needed to be reheated and we would still have plenty of time to sit down as a family for dinner. 

I also didn't waste any food. Which is a huge plus. I tripled my batch of meatballs and froze the leftovers so now I can use them in a few weeks and won't have to spend that time putting them together next time. I was also able to freeze leftover pulled pork and will have enough for another dinner and lunches. 

But more than the time and money value, it was worth it because it gave Jack and Addie's little bodies and brains the nutrition they need to learn, focus and have energy for school. It is my job as their mommy to give them every opportunity possible to be their best. How unfair would it be if I fed them sugar and then sent them off to school, expecting them to obey, concentrate and then have energy at the end of the day after the sugar crash? 

I'll admit that I have been guilty of this in the past and I will be guilty of it in the future. There will be days when my juggling balls come crashing down and I resort to feeding my babies donuts on the way to school. I'm okay with that. I know it will happen eventually so I just make sure that when I can keep all those balls in the air I'm going to make every effort to do it well so that Jack and Addie are not fighting their little bodies own chemical reactions to the wrong kinds of foods often. 

I have big hopes and dreams for those two. Addie says she is going to be a fashion designer/artist and Jack plans on becoming a scientist and marrying a doctor and I want them to accomplish every single goal they set for themselves.   Therefore I will continue to do the best I can to continue on with my Sunday lunch prep extravaganza. 

I don't just stop with food. My mommy job is never over. I also give my little darlings special supplements that fill in the gaps. One of those is Omega-3 fish oil. 

I cannot tell you enough how important this fishy oil is! And not just for your kiddos but for you, too!!!! Check out the nifty bullet point list I made you of all the wonderfulness of fish oil!!

1.) DHA (an essential fatty acid found in fish oil) helps with focus and concentration. It is often found to be deficient in children with ADD and ADHD. 

2.) Omega-3 reduces chronic inflammation which is pretty much the cause of most disease. So if you start this now and avoid fast moving vehicles you might live forever!!!

3.) The additional oil to your diet helps you poo! Poo is important. It isn't a lovely topic but if you want health there must be poo...regularly. Like every day. At least. 

4.) It makes your heart healthy. And last time I checked that organ was pretty stinkin' important. 

5.) The Essential Fatty Acids in fish oil increase insulin sensitivity which aids in fat loss. YAY! That reason right there is enough, right?

6.) Omega-3 increases protein synthesis which means it helps you build muscle. Now don't get all worried that you are going to turn into The Hulk by taking fish oil. We are talking about fish oil here, not steroids or testosterone. 

If you don't eat a lot of omega-3 packed foods (such as salmon) during the week then fish oil is definitely something you want to include in your daily routine. It has too many benefits to pass up!! Give it to your kiddos, too!! Those fishy kisses will make it totally worth the effort. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Living the dream

My babies are back in school and I'm trying to dive into work so that I don't cry. I've decided I might be a crazy person and need something a little stronger than my rhodiola because I just stinkin' miss the snot out of them. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the time I have to sit in peace without being asked for a snack or an electronic device password every 5 minutes but, oh, how I miss Addie crawling in my lap for just a quick cuddle or Jack running to me so excited about the latest Marvel superhero he earned. I don't know how I got so incredibly lucky to have two kids who are just the coolest people in the world. I just love who they are. Right now in my head there is a music montage playing with adorable rosy faced pictures of my little angels flashing into my memory... You know... The ones I post on FB that look perfect and make it seem like my kids always get along and our house is always clean. Ahhhh Facebook world: Where stupid, illogical, picket fence fairy tale, happily ever after, American dreams really do come true. No wonder we all live there. 

 I actually really love Facebook. It is just such a great way for me to advertise my two businesses. I'm not just talking about my Sunshine Shoppe and Core pages. I'm talking about my personal Jessica Pope page, the one with Levi and I doing handstands on the beach as my profile picture because let's be honest, two people in bathing suits on the beach doing handstands looks healthy, energetic, fun, full of life and that is the very thing I make a living off of. I am my own walking billboard and that my friends (or random blog readers) is quite the burden. 

I have nearly killed myself trying to appear to the whole world (that was a little bit of an exaggeration) that I am Super Healthy Girl who grows her own herbs outside of her health food store and has raised children that love kale and spinach. I'm not saying those things aren't true but I think it is important for everyone, including myself, to know and realize that I eat crap, too, sometimes. I enjoy letting my kids eat cake at birthday parties. Heck, I enjoy eating cake at birthday parties...and weddings (wedding cake is my fav!!). I will occasionally order an iced coffee with half-n-half and sweetened with classic syrup. I rarely buy organic. There are two boxes of cereal in my fridge right now. We took the kids to Mellow Mushroom on our last summer weekend because they have gluten-free crust and then we just ordered the regular crust. I forget to take my supplements at least 3 days a week. I really struggle with self-control...if the unhealthy food is in front of me I will eat it until it is all gone. Sometime my kids come home with their lunch boxes completely full and starving because they didn't like any of the food I packed them. 

My point is this: There has to be balance. There has to be grace. I do not expect anyone to decide to live a healthier lifestyle and just never think about pizza again. I don't expect that of myself and I live in a health bubble! I wonder sometimes if people look at the life I present to the public and think that I am extreme. That I focus too much on health and it would be too hard for you to do that too. That is not what I want. I want health to be real. I want you to know that you can make an unhealthy choice from time to time and still be a healthy person. This is not an all or nothing situation but I think so many think that you either have to go super paleo and hunt down rabbits in your backyard and eat wild onions or you just give up and enjoy all that processed food has to offer. 

Sometimes one step at a time is the way to go. If cold turkey super health perfection hasn't worked for you in the past then it probably won't in the future. So start small. And be forgiving of yourself. For those of you who aren't ready for a Whole 30 type elimination diet (and just reducing your sweet tea intake may cause you a panic attack) I suggest adding some digestive enzymes into your diet. I really think everyone can benefit from these enzymes but especially if you are keeping some of the more difficult to digest foods in your diet such as grain, dairy and legumes. 

Digestive enzymes help break down the food that we eat for proper absorption. There are primarily four that you will find: 
Amylase - breaks down carbs and starches 
Cellulase - breaks down sugars 
Protease - breaks down proteins 
Lipase - breaks down fats 

Check out why adding digestive enzymes into your diet is a good idea:

 1. Without enzymes chemical reactions cannot take place in our bodies. We must have them for vitamins, minerals and hormones to work. 

 2. Cooked food lacks enzymes and some enzyme inhibiting foods such as nuts, seeds, egg whites, beans, potatoes and peanuts deplete and neutralize enzymes in the body making it difficult to absorb the nutrients needed. 

 3. Super hot Texas summers or very cold, somewhere else winters, intense exercise, or illness can all make our bodies use up our enzymes faster therefore decreasing digestion of foods. 

 4. The older we get the less enzymes we have available. (Ahhhh....Jim, it is sooooo hard to resist the old jokes.) And last time I checked we aren't getting any younger. In fact, the copious amounts of glitter I have begun to grow from my head is proof of that! 

 I carry digestive enzymes in my purse wherever I go just in case I act human in public and eat something sinful. I also make it a habit to take them regularly because I just feel better. My tummy feels flatter and I don't feel so full after eating. I have chewable enzymes that Addie takes any time her little tummy feels yucky and they help settle her nausea because she is very sensitive to foods. 

These little pills are simple solutions to getting and feeling healthier even if you aren't ready to clean out the fridge and pantry or become a caveman. Every small step is a step in the right direction. I will still be posting uber healthy pics of paleo packed lunches and me flexing my little CrossFit muscles but just know that health looks different on everyone and you have no one to answer to but yourself. Show yourself some grace, accept that you are going to eat some ice cream every now and then and take your digestive enzymes.

Here is a healthy small step...Quinoa 'Oatmeal.' Quinoa is a great source of protein and naturally gluten-free. We have recently incorporated this ancient grain back into our diet and are loving it!!! (More on the changes and additions we've made to our diets coming soon!!!!)

Quinoa, cooked according to package directions
Grass-fed butter
Raw honey
Coconut milk
Fruit of choice

I don't have measurements...just put it all in a bowl (easy on the honey) and enjoy. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tough Cookie

For the last month I have been laser focused on healing my body. I haven't necessarily been ill or terribly injured. I had just been feeling...not awesome. Not being awesome had me a bit concerned...because clearly it should just come naturally so obviously something was off.

My workouts were BAD. Really really. Not only did my body hurt abnormally during and after a workout but I hurt ALL DAY LONG...and all night long for that matter. I just kept thinking, "Why am I working out when all it does is make me not feel good all day and keeps me from sleeping at night? That can't be healthy." And it wasn't.

I had started squeezing in fitness just to get it in and get it done in hopes that it would help with my stress levels. I was running to pound out stress without focusing on my body positioning and quickly developed terrible shin splints that I refused to allow to heal because I craved the stress relief from the run and would ignore the pain until I was limping down Stonewall Street. In the midst of constantly ignoring my shin pain I managed to strain my IT band because I run like a little wonky duck. I ignored this pain too. DUMB.

I was also looking forward to my evening glass of wine too much. My relaxing glass of wine would easily turn into two or sometimes three. And if I wasn't enjoying a glass of wine I was drinking coffee. I would drink coffee from the moment I woke up until my workout, drink one bottle of water, and then pour my first glass of wine while I started on dinner. I don't know how I didn't die from dehydration!!!

Even though I was eating all the right foods I was NOT dealing with stress well. It is not okay to push my body to injury to beat away the stress or to drown my exhaustion in alcohol and caffeine. Something had to change. I needed to heal. So I took a step back and stopped working out all together. I stopped the wine. I eliminated the coffee...haha! Just kidding!!! I limited the coffee. I started looking for healthier stress relieving options which included more sleep (go figure), less juggling, and some really amazing adrenal healing supplements. I have a feeling I'm not the only one that hasn't dealt with stress in a healthy way so I want to share my discovery of RHODIOLA.

This plant, Rhodiola rosea is a tough cookie...well obviously it isn't a cookie, it's a plant but wouldn't that be cool if it was a cookie, a healthy cookie? Mmmmmm...cooooookies.... ANYWAYS... It grows in a really harsh environment and because of that environment it has compounds considered adaptogens that create resistance against outside stressors. Supplementing with rhodiola makes us tough (and healthy) cookies too and here's how:

1. Rhodiola protects our bodies in times of like all of the time. When our body is under stress our adrenal glands secrete hormones such as the belly fat storing cortisol. Rhodiola regulates serotonion, norepinephrine, and feel-good opioids and therefore decreases the release of cortisol and restores balance between your body's pull between the fight or flight response and the parasympathetic cool down response. WE WANT BALANCE. This results in a calming effect.

2. Rhodiola increases our bodies ability to carry oxygen in our red blood cells which therefore increases our energy. This is especially helpful during times of stress or intense workout when we do not take in full breaths.

3. Our exercise endurance levels are increased when taking rhodiola by stimulating our bodies' ability for energy recovery through ATP (adenosine triphophate). In two separate studies with rats (I know, they are gross but for some reason scientist love them), they had the rodents perform a swim test which is both mentally and physically draining. The rodents that had recieved rhodiola were able to swim 25% longer before becoming exhausted.

4. Rhodiola can improve sleep, boost your mood and relieve anxiety. This results in more happiness for you and everyone around you. Colors will be brighter, food will taste better, birds will be singing, woodland creatures will help you get dressed in the mornings and taxes will cease to exist. maybe not, but it does increase the sensitivity of neurons to dopamine and serotonin which will have you feeling all kinds of loveliness.

5. This is the one you've been waiting for....Rhodiola burns belly fat. Yep, it's the magic pill you've been looking for your whole life. It works by turning on an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase which allows your body to access and use the fat stored around your midsection. So yeah...I'll make sure we have plenty in stock at the Sunshine Shoppe.

I see I've gotten your attention. This is definitely one herb worth checking into. I think we could all use a little help in the stress department and rhodiola is a much better option rather than tearing up your body or drinking your carbs.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trading my Nanos for wedges

We are just two weeks shy of our one year anniversary of opening The Core and I cannot express how different life feels today compared to this time last year. Last year I was this little ball of nervous, exhausted stress.

We were spending 23 hours a day trying to finish out the home we now call The Core. We seriously would work until 4 in the morning, pass out on yoga mats for a couple of hours and get up and get ready to do it all over again. I was reading back through my prayer journals from last year and I had told God the day before we opened, "I don't think I love The Core anymore. I'm just too tired." (I was slightly emotional.)

The exhaustion didn't stop after opening day. It only got worse, honestly. Who knew running a gym could be so much work?? But in this last year we have learned so much. Just Levi, Jim and I figuring out how to work and make decisions together was difficult. (Let's face it...I usually won but sometimes it required pulling out all the stops and that was exhausting too!) We spent our days coaching classes and our evenings and often nights working on marketing, book-keeping, journal reviewing, replying to emails and messages, event planning, and constant studying.

But 130 plus members and almost 365 days later I can say that it has all been totally worth it and I think we've definitely found our groove. I've been able to step away from most of the coaching/business aspects of The Core and really focus on my main passion of health and nutrition. I've traded my Lulus and Nanos for dresses and wedges and you can find me more often in the Sunshine Shoppe than the gym.

Before The Core I was a very strong believer that everything could be fixed with the right kinds of food. I've watched my athletes change so incredibly much this past year simply by changing their diets and prioritizing their fitness. But now that their bodies are healthy and fueled properly I see that there are still areas that can be improved.

I would go as far as to say that I've been against using supplements. I practically outlawed preworkouts (I'm still not a fan) and protein mixes in the gym. I understand that sounds pretty stupid considering I own a health food store where half of it is covered in bottles of vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc. But over time I have come to the realization that we need more than just food. The more I talk to my customers and my Core members about their lives, their struggles, their health issues, I see that we all just have insane lives. We live under constant stress, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Yes, proper nutrition through food is the right place to start and there is no quick fix, no cure-all, but I think it is time to recognize that if we want more for and out of our bodies we have to add some supplements into our daily routine.

My next few posts are going to be covering some of the supplements I think are so super important to not just our physical health but also our mental and emotional health as well. I don't know about you but I don't want to just survive my crazy life. I want to jump right into the craziness and have fun and find joy in it. I want my energy levels to stay going strong, I want my moods to stay balanced (and so do my kids and husband). I want my body to utilize the healthy foods I feed it in the most efficient and effective way possible. I want my memory, focus, and overall cognitive function to go to the next level so that maybe I can understand my kids' MindCraft game. I want my muscles to recover quicker so that I'm not crying every time I sit down to potty. I want all the work I do in the gym to lead to a stronger body aaaaaaaaand I want a sixpack...just thought I'd throw that in there just in case blog wishes really do come true.

I really believe that if I was to do this past year all over again the only thing I would change would be that I would add rhodiola, turmeric, amino acids, digestive enzymes, and fish oil into my diet. I think my body would have handled the insanity of building and moving a business much better. Maybe there would have been less tears, coffee, and stress shopping. Stay tuned to find out why I think these 5 are so special!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Here Comes the Crazy Circus

Holy moly school starts next week!!!! Well it does for those of us at Greenville Christian. But the rest of you are just around the corner too!!!

This summer wasn't long enough. I am not ready to be away from my babies 7 hours a day again!!! But more importantly, I am not ready to pick my crazy circus juggling act back up. Our summer allows for lazy mornings that consist of cartoons, coffee and working on my laptop. There are no arguments in the morning when getting everyone ready to walk out the door. I don't care that Jack's hair is going a million directions or that Addie is wearing a dress tucked inside a different, non-matching skirt with two different types of socks inside her wedges. I get to work while listening to them giggle about their disgusting jokes about toots and take breaks to build Lego houses for the kid's much wished for baby Marmoset (not gonna happen.) Our afternoons consist of CrossFit classes for me while the kids play with their friends and then a stress-free late dinner because bedtimes are pushed off to squeeze every ounce out of our summer day.

But all of that loveliness is about to change. Next week will require alarm clocks, fixed hair, matching outfits, driving from one after-school activity (with all the proper shoes and gear included) to the next, homework, rushed dinners, showers (because I won't be able to count pool time as bath time anymore), and the much dreaded packing of lunches!!!!!! 

Did you just shiver? I did. It wasn't the fall was fear! Like the kind that makes you wake up in the middle of the night from a dream where you still need one more math class to truly graduate....and you're naked...without a calculator.

I have a plan this year though. I am going to be prepared...well at least for a little bit. I'm not going to lie, I am so good at the beginning of school. I lay the kids clothes out for the next day. I leave love notes in their lunch boxes. I have homemade snacks waiting for them when they come home from school. I seriously am super mom for the first three days of school...and then it gets old. Suddenly I'm digging through dirty clothes hampers to try to find PE clothes the morning of, telling the kids that we don't have time for them to brush their teeth...just rub some toothpaste on your tongue, and packing a mixture of whatever food has survived the week (we are talking a lunch of pickles, ketchup packets, jerky, and dried bananas.) and just praying my kids can convince one of their friends to trade the ketchup packet for something worth eating.

But this year is going to be different! Well...I really really want it to be different! And by golly I'm gonna do my darndest to make it happen...until I get tired or crazy.

I've created a menu that is varied enough that my kiddos won't get too bored with it too quickly and is a healthy mix of protein, carbs and fats. I've come up with 10 meal combinations that will give me 5 week's worth of lunches. As regularly as I ate ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches for my own school lunches I really think this will be enough variety for the entire year. By already knowing what is planned I don't have to drain any extra energy by trying to be creative. Plus I can make large batches of things such as meatballs and pull out individual servings as needed.

Each week I will choose two meals. So for instance the first full week of school I will make meals 1 and 2.
Monday: Meal 1
Tuesday: Meal 2
Wednesday: Meal 1
Thursday: Hot lunch at school (Chick-fil-A)
Friday: Meal 2

Sunday evening I plan to pack all 4 lunches at once. This way I have all of my ingredients out at once and I don't have to pack lunches again for 7 days!!!!

All beef or bison hotdog
Steve's Paleo Ketchup (I store these in plastic jello shot cups and they freeze well.)
Bubbies Bread and Butter Pickle slices
Sweet Potato Chips (My new favorite brand is Jackson's is made with coconut oil!!)
Sliced Pears (tossed with lemon juice to keep crisp)
1 TBSP Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

BLTT Rollups (Bacon, lettuce, tomato rolled up in a slice of deli turkey)
1/3 cup roasted chickpeas (I store leftovers in the freezer)
Celery slices
Sliced strawberries and cream (take a can of refrigerated coconut milk, scoop out the solid cream and mix with a little bit of honey)

Meatballs (I have lots in the freezer so I will just pull from there)
Marinara (Divide into Jell-O shot containers and freeze remainder)
Sliced raw zucchini
Coconut flakes

Ham cookies (I get thick sliced ham from the deli and cut with cookie cutter shapes)
Raw spinach leaves
Cherry tomatoes
Mandarin oranges in juice

Grilled chicken (Buy chicken on sale and grill all of it, cut into bite sizes and then freeze)
Black olives
Cucumber slices
Red bell pepper slices
Hummus (freeze any extra for the next time)
Lara bar

Lettuce fajita wraps
Beanito chips
Guacamole (I love the 100 calorie Wholly Guacamole packs)

Chicken salad (I will use the breast from 2 rotisserie chickens and save the legs for meal 8)
Boiled egg (Boil a dozen eggs at once and store in the carton to grab on your way out the door for a quick breakfast.)

Raw carrots
Trail mix (dried fruit, raw nuts, coconut flakes) (Make a huge batch and store in freezer)

Rotisserie chicken leg
Raw brocoli
Blanched asparagus
Steve's Paleo Maple Mustard dressing

Cold or hot Zucchini Soup (It is always good to have soup in the freezer.)
Egg muffin (I make tons of these at once and freeze...are you seeing a theme???)
Apple slices
Almond butter

MEAL 10:
Shredded chicken burrito (use this recipe for the wrap)
Coleslaw tossed with Steve's Paleo Ginger Cilantro Lime Dressing

Let me just say that I am not a food prepping fan. It has just never worked for me. I don't have an entire day to cook...nor do I want to!!!!!!! So the foods such as meatballs, chicken burrito, soup, etc., I will be sure to make for dinner the week before and I will double or triple the recipes so that I have plenty in stock in my freezers.

Between creating our lunch menu, school supply shopping (which resulted in hours of Addie deciding on the what folder had the best puppy to kitten ratio) and my favorite fall Bath & Body Works candle coming back out I think we are ready to go back to school. I hope you all enjoy the last days of your lackadaisical bliss!!!