Coffee, take it or leave it….

For those of you who know me well, I have always been a big fan of coffee. Okay, that is putting it mildly. Coffee addict might be more appropriate. After years of being up half the night with children for one reason or another, I got to a point where I needed to drink coffee all day long just to survive. Not exactly healthy.

Lately I have been working hard to cut back on my coffee consumption. Sure there are some studies that say a cup a day is actually good for you, and that is okay. But since I couldn’t drink my coffee without adding cream and sugar (read tons of empty calories), maybe what I was doing wasn’t so good for me after all. I didn’t want all that extra sugar in my diet. And I tried all the different artificial sweeteners, at least the ones I trusted to not be completely dangerous, and they weren’t cutting it. I needed to do something totally different.

One day I decided to cut the sugar out completely and just use creamer. And I found it wasn’t so bad! I worked on that a little bit, and then a little while later I did something totally crazy, I tried to drink my coffee black. And it wasn’t bad!!!! This was an incredible first for me, I never thought I could tolerate black coffee. But it turns out I can. So what changed? My taste buds. I have had many people tell me that by taking Juice Plus+ over time, my cravings and taste buds would change, in favor of healthier options. And I am now a firm believer because a once-sugar-sweetness-laden beverage no longer appeals to me like it used to.

Once I realized I wasn’t so dependent on my typical go-to beverage, I started making one other change. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee (black or otherwise) first thing in the morning, I reached for a glass of plain old water. I now drink water first thing in the morning. And at some point during the morning I might pour myself about a half cup of black coffee to sip, but I typically don’t even finish it. I am almost completely off of coffee, and it is amazing!!!! I found that I feel more awake and refreshed after that glass of water than I ever did on coffee, which is surprising considering what caffeine is supposed to do for you. But my body’s needs are changing, and water truly is the best thing for me now. I always knew it, but maybe I am finally practicing what I preached to myself.

coffeeNow this all being said, I decided to have an experimental “treat” today. I poured myself a full cup of coffee and added my old cream and sugar to it. I thought it might be a nice treat, and I honestly wanted to see what would happen. The verdict? Eh, I could take it or leave it. Seriously! It didn’t taste bad, but it also didn’t taste as good as I remembered. And it certainly didn’t taste worth all the extra calories. So maybe I will finish this cup slowly throughout the day, maybe I won’t. But it feels amazing to know that I won’t need to.

I thought I would be addicted to coffee for the rest of my life, and that was a scary feeling. Now I know that I do have the power to make healthier options, and I will continue to do so, one simple change at a time.

The power of fruits and vegetables

Everywhere I look, I see illness. It is all over my Facebook page, both kids and adults. It is at the preschool, at the play dates, at my husband’s work. It is the time of year for illness, cold and flu are running rampant and leaving few survivors in the wake.

It even hit our house last week. No surprise there, when you have small kids who don’t always practice the best hygiene (get your finger out of your nose!), the spreading of germs is unavoidable. So I was not surprised at all when Connor came down with a cold this past Thursday. He spent most of the day sleeping or lying around lethargically, not even remotely interested in playing with his brothers. And I braced for the inevitable onslaught: who would be sick next and how bad?

But then the big surprise came Friday morning, when Connor was almost completely back to normal! Sure, he still has a lingering cough if he runs too hard, but other than that, you would have never known he had been sick in the first place. And the second surprise, five days later and nobody else in our house has come down with it, including the two who are most notorious for that nose picking I mentioned earlier.

While I feel very lucky that our family is fighting the good fight in the name of staying healthy, I know that much more played a role than just luck. It also has something to do with the changes we have made in our nutrition and the incredible impact that is having on our immune systems. The five of us flood our bodies with 30 different fruits, vegetables and berries EVERY SINGLE DAY, thanks to the Juice Plus+ we take. It is our insurance policy, and it is certainly paying off. Sickness is happening less frequently, and when it does, is not nearly as severe. We are actually surviving this winter, and we are able to continue to venture out into the real world without fearing germs that, in the past, would have meant certain doom (aka cabin fever as I tend to non-stop sick kids for weeks at a time).fruit veggie photo

Never underestimate the power of whole-food nutrition from fruits and vegetables. I never will again.

(Full disclosure here: I am a distributor for the Juice Plus+ Company, but I would take it and give it to my family with or without financial compensation. Because I know it is helping us live healthier lives.)

Making healthy changes…

I have had to face a hard reality. My babies are no longer babies. Therefore, I can no longer justify carrying around baby weight. It is long past time that I start investing in myself, my body and my health. It’s not just that I want to lose weight, I want to feel better too. And I want to set a good example for my boys; I want to teach them the importance of good health by leading by example; no more “do as I say, not as I do.”

The key for me has been to start small. I’m not going to go out and train for a marathon tomorrow, I’m not going to stop eating chocolate (God forbid), I am going to make small changes and commit to those changes. One small step can lead to another, and so on. And I am going to share those steps here, in part to help me be accountable, but also to hopefully help others who find themselves in the same situation as me, finding it hard to get out of the rut I have created to lead a healthier life.

Drink more water
I hate to admit it, but I honestly think I’m better at drinking water now than I was when I was breastfeeding, which only goes to show how bad I have been about making sure I take care of myself. Up until recently, my go-to beverages were coffee and Gatorade, with a little water mixed in because I knew it was good for me. Ugh. Now I have cut back on coffee (more on that in a moment), and my go-to drink is always water, at any time of day or night. I am doing my very best to avoid Gatorade, juices, sodas, anything other than plain old H2O. Not only do I feel much more hydrated, but I think about all the extra calories and sugar that I am no longer consuming, a definite plus.

Drink less coffee
Not only does caffeine hinder all that good hydration I’m working on with the water, but it is also a huge calorie addition to my day. Or at least it was because I would always put cream and sugar in it. At two-to-three cups a day (after the boys’ weaned), I shudder to think about all that sugar. So now, I am down to one cup of coffee a day, and I am using monk fruit as an alternative sweetener. Honestly, I don’t enjoy my coffee like I used to, but maybe that’s the point. I would much rather coffee serve a function as a pick-me-up, and get my high-calorie treats somewhere else… like, from chocolate.

Get more sleep
Hahaha, that’s funny, right? I have three boys who still do not always sleep through the night, who still sometimes come into our bed in the middle of the night, or else we lay down in their rooms… I have not known quality sleep since sometime before October of 2009. But knowing that my nights will often be interrupted is no excuse to further compound the problem, if anything it should be a stern reminder of why I need to make sleep a priority. And lately I have been failing miserably at that, laying in bed for five, maybe six, hours a night. And I say laying in bed because there’s a good chance I spent the first 30 to 45 minutes awake, allowing the wheels in my mind to spin. So my new goal is to make sure I am in bed, lights out, for a solid eight hours every night. That means I have to be better about shutting it down in the evening, pushing work aside until tomorrow, for the sake of getting rest. But I know my body needs it, so I will make it a priority.

Whole-food nutrition
I am quickly learning just how amazing fruits and vegetables really are. Of course I always knew they were good for me, but I never really looked into the science behind it. Well, I’ve been doing just that lately, and I am making a much more concerted effort to get our whole family eating better. This is no simple task with the picky eaters I serve three meals a day to, but I am refusing to back down. I am now reworking menu plans to incorporate more vegetables, and I am making sure we have more fresh fruit on hand each week, so that produce can be incorporated into every meal and snack, something that wasn’t happening before. Do the boys still refuse to eat some of the vegetables I offer? Oh yes. But I won’t give up, I will keep offering, or else I will just hide them in their food somewhere. I am not above doing┬áthat, no way, no how. And in the meantime, the boys are also getting a wonderful nutritional supplement that is packed with fruits and vegetables, but look and taste like gummy snacks. So I know that even on the worst day, at least some good stuff is getting into them!

Become a more conscious eater
Part of my problem is that I don’t put enough thought into what I eat. Even thought we sit down to family meals, I don’t eat much while the boys are eating, I’m too busy trying to correct table manners, help them if they need help, clean up messes, etc. So my biggest food times have been right after I put them down for their nap, scarfing down whatever is closest and most convenient, and late at night, when it is all too easy to reach for junk food. So now that is changing. I have begun doing protein shakes for breakfast, and I sit at the table with the boys and drink my shake while they eat. I try to sit down and eat lunch and dinner with them too now, though my meal is still often interrupted, at least it is there in front of me and I will eat it eventually. And if I get the late-night munchies, I am now trying to reach for healthier snacks and control my portions better.

There are many more things I need to and want to be doing (I need to figure out how to work an exercise routine into my schedule, so far that isn’t happening), but the items I listed above are a good start. And honestly, the results are already beginning to pay off, both in my energy level increasing, and the number on the scale beginning to decrease. Like I said, small steps to begin with, starting slow will eventually pay off big.