Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Paying It Forward

I've been a bit absent the past few weeks.  We've dealt with the passing of a sweet Grandmother, the stomach virus, the start of school and just general craziness.  I'm back now and geared up for October! I can hardly believe we are in the thick of Fall, but that's a whole other post :) 

So, paying it forward. No doubt, you've heard the term before.  It's the idea that if you do something nice for someone else, that they will in turn take the gift they've been given and do something nice for another person. The thoughts/actions snowball and before you know it, positivity is all around.  People are reaching out to others, helping them, loving them and lifting them up; even if just for a fleeting second.  

I've had the opportunity in the last 6 months to begin to pay forward all of the positivity, knowledge, and inspiration that I've received on my fitness journey. I'm inspiring women in small accountability groups on Facebook and I'm paying forward all that has been given to me in the last several years. The feeling you get when you know that you've genuinely helped someone is warm-and-fuzzy. It keeps us coming back for more.  

That's where this next chapter of paying-it-forward starts for me.  After the birth of Charlie, I fell into a downward spiral of post-partum anxiety and depression. (something I rarely mentioned here) I was overwhelmed, scared and not sure if I was doing things the "right" way.  Not having my mother here compounded my feelings and I sunk down deep to a bad place for several months.  I didn't feel I had the support system I needed even though people all around me were reaching out to help.  I couldn't take the help.  I went into Motherhood with the ideal that I could do it all on my own. Boy, was I wrong! Moms, and especially new Moms (and Dads), need support. Whether it's family, friends or a total stranger...

A total stranger? Well, maybe even a total stranger. :) When I was pregnant with Cecilia, I heard about an organization called MomsBloom. It was started by two friends, both of whom struggled with the isolation, depression and overwhelmed feeling a new Mom faces.  They created MomsBloom to reach out into the community and harness those families that needed the extra support. The women that call on MomsBloom may not have family here or they are new to the area. Perhaps they were like me and they suffered in a depressive and silent state. I called on MomsBloom before Cece was born and was ready to use them this time around if I needed to. I ended up not needing to use their services (thankfully!). I had the support this time around, I learned to speak up and ask for help and I didn't feel the isolation or suffer the depression I did with Charlie.  However, after Cece was born, I vowed that if I was ever in a position to help that I would step up and volunteer for this organization.   

That time has come.  I am in a place with all the things in my life where now is the time to start volunteering and giving back to my community.  I have been through the volunteer training, and last night, I received an email from the volunteer coordinator that she had found a family for me to work with.  The Mom is due on September 29 (3 days from now!) and I will be helping her out for 3 hours a week until the baby is 3 months old.  

I am ECSTATIC about this opportunity! I read the email and just felt at peace knowing this was the right volunteer opportunity for me. Not only will I get my newborn baby fix (yayayay!), but I will get to pay my "new-Mom" knowledge forward. I have a lot of compassion for the new Mom and Dad and I'm looking forward to being this family's support system for the first few months of their new baby's life.  What a blessing to finally be a part of this organization!

I will not be talking much about my experiences here as I feel this is a private time not only for Mom, but also for me.  I have things I can work on and I'm hoping this opportunity teaches me about myself and others in ways I haven't yet discovered. I can already tell that it's going to be a life-changing experience for me and I can't wait to get started

"Even Superwoman needs her heroes."
 Sara Binkley-Tow: Founder/Executive Director, MomsBloom

P.S. I will be back with food prep and more later on in the week!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

Today I was busy attending a Turbo Kick certification and I had so much fun!! I'm a huge Turbo Fire fan and had been eyeing the chance to get certified to teach it in a gym setting. I stepped out of my comfort zone big time and went for it and it was SUCH a blast!! I won't be teaching in a gym any time soon, but I'm looking forward to practicing what I learned today. 

Due to being gone all day, I shifted my prep to yesterday instead.  

It was a productive Saturday for me.  Curtis had to work in the morning so from 8 to Noon, I had a goal to get a lot of things accomplished and I was successful, even while juggling the 2 kiddos.  We made brown bread, turkey meatballs and chopped fruits and veggies.  I have 2 pretty fantastic kitchen helpers!! :)  

On Friday I ended up crocking up the Chicken Taco Chili recipe that you will see below.  I've tried it already and it's hardy, delicious and PERFECT for this Fall weather.  I'm definitely giving into my urges to eat a little (healthy) comfort food! I'm also giving into my crockpot urges! It's just so easy to use.  The chili is perfect by itself, in a wrap, over a potato or with some rice.  Yum!! 

I haven't had a chance to sample the turkey meatballs yet, but if the way my house smelled last night is any indicator of their taste, I'm sure they will be absolutely DIVINE.  I will serve them with rice, a potato or a little rotini pasta. And of course, a giant pile of veggies or a salad.

This link from Punch Fork has me very excited about Fall and using the crockpot for my Sunday prep!!  Aren't those foodie photos pretty? ;)

Here we have celery, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, cucumbers, 6x Italian Turkey Meatballs, Chicken Taco Chili, a half-eaten loaf of Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread (hey, it goes fast around here!) and 2 chicken breasts that will pair with wraps for lunches. (not pictured: a dozen hard boiled eggs and some cooked rotini pasta) 

We are out of town Friday-Sunday and this is ample to get us through the week.  Breakfasts are oatmeal or egg muffins which I will talk about in another post very soon! My other lunch options are chicken wraps and turkey burgers over salad. 

Now, on a random note, has anyone seen these in the store? I'm seriously IN LOVE with these microwave rice/quinoa packs.  They are all organic and taste phenomenal.  If you can find them in your local grocery, (I found these at Meijer) I highly recommend trying them out for a quick and easy side option.  90 seconds in the microwave and DONE! So awesome!

I will post the recipes tomorrow, but in the meantime, I'll just link you up in case you wanted to try them this week for your food prep.  Enjoy!!

Both recipes are from Skinnytaste  One of my favorite blogs these days!

Italian Turkey Meatballs HERE

Chicken Taco Chili HERE


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Confessions of a Picky Eater

I like to think of myself as a recovering picky eater.  I still have my moments with certain foods but I'm getting better and this healthy lifestyle has helped a lot with that.  

It all started when I was younger.  I can remember sitting at a table until I finished my brussel sprouts.  Something that eventually I learned to love over time because my Mom kept putting them in front of us.  But one night in particular, I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I finished them.  She said to me, "Emily Susan, you are the pickiest eater I have ever met!" (I can still hear it!!) And darnet, she was right.  She knew me well at 7 years old because that pickiness only evolved over the years, just getting worse and worse.

Maybe you're like me.  Do certain things just look funny enough NOT to eat?? A lot of what I wouldn't touch as a young child were things that just didn't LOOK appealing.  If it looked mushy, or it had a funny color, I wasn't touching it.  I quickly let my tastebuds form based on the appearance of foods.  To this day, there are foods that I still haven't even tried because I can't bring myself to do it! They don't look appealing so they certainly must not taste good!  Do I have texture issues too? Oh yes I do! I think those are my 2 biggest issues with certain foods: appearance and texture. 

BUT, things are getting better.  When we signed on for the CSA a few years ago, it was my opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, step into my kitchen and have fun with some vegetables that I never thought I would EVER try.  We walked away from our 1st season with the CSA wanting more and so we signed on for a 2nd season.  When our CSA decided to open a restaurant, we were bummed out but happy with the experience we had come away with. You can read more about my CSA journey HERE.

I re started my healthy journey a year ago and things have gotten progressively better.  I eat sweet potatoes now! Avocados aren't so terrible either! Tomatoes! Well, not quite yet, but I'll eat them in salads and in capacities I never did a year ago :)  Each day I challenge myself to try new things. Some things I have learned I really do love (sweet potatoes might be orange and weird looking, but they are delicious!!) Other things, I still can't manage.  One thing I know is that with time, taste-buds change.  Your body starts to crave the things that nourish it and if you just keep trying, you'll find that you might really love something that you didn't care for before. 

Now that I'm a Mom, I don't want my kids growing up with that same limited palate that I did. I know it wasn't without trying on my folks part, but I got stuck in food ruts as a kid and that came right along with me into adulthood. How do I combat the picky toddler?? I JUST KEEP TRYING. If they don't like it one day, I try again another day.  I rotate vegetables and fruits so that they both get healthy servings of each.  I worry just like any other Mom whether they are getting enough nourishment but I know that if I keep trying (even when they push it away one day) that maybe they will walk away with a diverse set of taste buds a few years from now.   Being a Mom has also forced me out of my comfort zone and really tested me in my kitchen as far as meal prep and planning, cooking and trying to pick diverse things that will please the entire family.  It's not always easy, but it's become necessary and worth it! 

Were you a picky eater as a child?? Are you still now?? How do you combat your own picky eating??