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What Does “Healthy” Mean?

I originally posted this over at the blog I recently started with my friend Pam, Fit Moms & Full Plates.  I wantd to cross post it here as well becasue I feel very strongly about this topic.

“This should be filed under rant. I know this won’t be a popular post and I’m OK with that.  I want to start out by saying that I am not perfect when it comes to food and nutritional choices. I have been known to enjoy a chicken sandwich and fries from the golden arches; I’m a fan of ice cream in abundance; my favorite meal in the world is New York System Hot Wieners (a Rhode Island thing—think disgustingly processed hot dog smothered in a greasy meat sauce, onions, mustard, and celery salt). I say all of that and also say that I consider myself a relatively healthy individual. I am a true believer in the idea of all things in moderation (OK, so maybe a ¼ block of Comte cheese with a crusty loaf and a ½ bottle of Cabernet on the occasional Friday or Saturday night isn’t moderation)…but when does moderation cease to actually be moderation? Sure today I may have only had a ¼ block of that yummy cheese, but if it is done once a month, once a week…for let’s say from the age of 21 for the next 30-years is that REALLY moderation? A whole lot of littles can quickly add up to one big lot over time.

What has recently been bothering me is a realization that a good number of people might not really have a sense of what is good and what is bad—thinking that they are making the right choices, when in fact they are being duped (me included from time to time).   Marketing companies are labeling food products with words such a “natural” or “whole”; shakes are advertized as being good options for a “meal replacement” to lose weight (why would you want to replace a meal of REAL food with something to drink?). Even some of the most recognizable diet companies are adding to the guise of things being good for you simply because a serving “only costs me 7 points!”—meanwhile the recipe someone concocted to get to the magic number 7is comprised of regular white pasta, 2 cans of cream of condensed soup, and a whole block of—wait for it—fat free cream cheese! If you ask me, fettuccini alfredo will never be a healthy dish, even if it does only cost me 7-points per serving. Clearly people are missing the fact that at the very least whole wheat pasta should be used (better yet—no pasta at all!), that cream of anything soup is bad for you, (forget the fact that it is laden with preservatives), and just because something is fat free doesn’t make it good for you.

It wasn’t that long ago that I too fell into the trap of thinking that if the label says it is healthy, and good for you it must be true.  I rarely read the ingredients labels for products that I always thought were beneficial to my family’s wellbeing.  Take for example yogurt—I’m not sure why the idea that there was organic cane juices in my fruit on the bottom Greek yogurt surprised me—I mean shouldn’t it just be yogurt and some berries?  I now see the importance of reading all the ingredients on the package—which is hopefully less than five (though, I tend to give a pass when there are 6 herbs listed in addition to the other 4 actual ingredients).  I have since made it a priority to make myself (and my husband) aware and educate us on what we put in our bodies to fuel it.  The way I’ve been looking at it recently is in terms of gasoline.  Sure my car can run on the 87-octane fuel that is assuredly cheaper, but I can get much better gas mileage and performance on the higher octane fuel for a few extra cents per gallon.  Same goes for food and fueling your body.  Can we live on low calorie cream-filled cake treats, snack crackers that are whole wheat but may contain traces of a GMO, or boxed and canned fat free prepared food?  Sure—but there is a price our bodies will eventually pay for it.

The idea of all things in moderation has been weighing on me heavily after having my two children.  As I have mentioned before, both of my children were products of infertility treatments.  While it was discovered that I indeed had one blocked fallopian tube, my reproductive endocrinologist hesitated to say that was definitively what caused my infertility (as it continued even after opening the tube).  The fact of the matter still remained that I was not ovulating for any good reason.  All my blood work and hormone levels came back OK—I just didn’t ovulate.  In the end, after having the two children I was left with a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility.”  How in the world is “unexplained” any kind of a diagnosis?  Oddly enough, there were two other women and a man at work who sat in adjacent offices to mine who were also going through infertility treatments and we all jokingly agreed that “there was something in the water.”  But what if that were in fact true to some extent?  What if it was nothing in the water so to speak, but in our food supply?

Most of our fruits and veggies growing up as kids were treated with pesticides and I can remember many times grabbing the apple before my mom had a chance to wash it.  More recently, many crops are genetically modified.  Our meats and dairy sources at some point In our lives have been given artificial hormones and antibiotics; and most food on the shelves in markets are filled with ingredient lists a mile long with words that are difficult to pronounce.  What if my occasional or “in moderation” healthy treats over time have simply built up a toxic level of garbage in my body that it’s prevented me from having normal fertility?  If that is plausible (which it is, check out what Robb Wolf has discussed on Paleo eating and fertility), then could my daughter be susceptible to the same fate if she is given the same garbage food in “moderation?”  Sure can!

Instead of shopping for “fat free” or “low calorie” foods, which are highly processed and sadly, also cheaper, maybe focus  on shifting the money from many processed snacks to a couple true healthy snacks—a big bag of organic apples and a jar of almond butter?  Instead of making the dinner with 2 cans of cream of condensed soup, figure out a way to get the same creaminess from ingredients that are in fact natural and not highly processed and refined.  Something that we have recently considered in our family is local farming.  Our produce bill is GIGANTIC because personally, we have opted to purchase organic in most cases.  This year we joined our local CSA—their produce is cheaper, fresher, and still organic.  Many local farmers are indeed practicing organic farming but simply cannot afford to pay the governmental entities the registration fees to become “certified.”  Not only are you helping your family by eating better produce, but you are also helping your local farmers in the process.

I fully recognize that eating truly healthy can be expensive and eating perfect with 100% organic and grass-fed/pasture-raised can be downright wallet emptying.  I am by no means passing judgment if you cannot afford to pay the prices that can go along with that kind of a lifestyle decision (because there are weeks where we can’t afford it ourselves).  What I am saying is that we, as a country, should do a better job at educating ourselves and our children on what is truly healthy and demand that those products, which can be out of financial reach for many, become cheaper.  I really believe that if enough people recognize that we are being fooled by false advertising and begin to boycott some of the products; it can send a message to our government.  Instead of subsidizing large corporate entities to produce genetically modified organisms they should subsidize the small farmers; we will get a better food source for all to access.  Please, be aware of what you are eating—read labels.  Try and stick with five ingredients or less.  Don’t buy something that contains an ingredient that you cannot pronounce.  If it has a shelf life that is longer than the life cycle of a gold fish—it’s probably not good for you.  If you don’t do it for yourselves, do it for our children.  Kids learn by example and they emulate what they see other do.  We have the ability to help change the thinking and health of a generation.”

Trying to Get Back in the Game

I keep saying I’m trying to get back into this and I keep failing miserably.  I need to get into a rhythm so that my kids can one day look back at this and see the mom that I was while they were small.  Lots has gone on since my last update–I’m back to work now.  That was a difficult experience–not because I dislike the company I work for, or the people I work with for that matter, but the commute that takes up 3-3 1/2 hours of my day drains on my spirit.  Without going into too much detail, things will be better now.  My commute is still the same but my hours have shifted and I’m able to work from home one day a week.  It has already made a difference in my attitude and outlook and it’s only been two weeks.

Today I am trying to prep as many of the weekly snacks as possible.  Now that Lil One is in daycare three days a week and I’m out of the house at 5:15 every morning, it’s more important than ever that I am as organized for meal prep as possible.  Without that attention on the weekend we WILL eat like garbage and that’s not a habit that I want to get back into anytime soon.  Sure it costs us a fortune to eat well, but eating healthfully is important to me and my growing family.

This weeks menu plan is as follows:

Breakfasts–On-The-Go Egg Bites and Breakfast Sausage; Paleo Coconut Blueberry Muffins; Breakfast Cookies

Lunches–Salads with roasted turkey, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and sunflower seeds.

Snacks–Fruit and Nut Bars; Grain-Free Granola Bars; Gluten-Free Grain-Free Graham Crackers

Dinners–Pan Seared Steak with roasted brussels sprouts and mashed cauliflower and celery root; Moroccan chicken with cauliflower “rice”; veggie stir fry with seared sea scallops

I will have more to say in the upcoming day (I hope)–there are dietary, excercise, craft, personal/life goals, and friend/training related things I’d like to post about and I’m hoping I can get back into it now that I have less time on my hands–I tend to work better under pressure!


Missing In Action and 11 Things

I’ve been missing in action for some time now.  To be honest, I’ve had many things that I’ve wanted to blog about but when it came down to it, just like in the past I decided I had better things to do.  I love snuggling with my little man.  I love talking to my crazy little girl.  I love sitting with my hubby.  I thought that being on maternity leave would allow me a bit of time to get into the blog groove, but in actuality it’s made me lazier with my time. 

I’m going to start back up today on leap day, with the 11 Things Post that has been going around the blogging world.  I was tagged by Liz from Run, Bake, Race.  Liz—thanks for tagging me—I was actually really excited to be tagged and then I TOTALLY dropped the ball!  So here it goes!! 

The Rules:

Post these rules

You must post 11 random things about yourself

Answer the questions set for you in their post

Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer

Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them

11 Things About Me:

1. Like most little girls, I was a dancer.  However, if they had the show Dance Mom’s on tv back then I’d probably would have been on the show!  I was a really good dancer—my specialty was tap.  I actually competed in age divisions that were two above me because of my abilities.  I was also asked to audition for Star Search but because of the taping schedule my mom wouldn’t let me out of school for that length of time—missed my chance at fame!

2. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be an architect.  I used to draw buildings for fun as a kid.  I went to school and graduated with a degree in architecture but at that point I knew I didn’t want to be an architect anymore.  I ended up in graduate school for city and regional planning and I now work as a construction project manager.

3. I’m beyond frightened of needles and pass out every.single.time.  It’s so bad that at the dentist when I need work that involved a shot for Novocain, they actually Rx me something for my nerves.

4. When I was a toddler I refused to wear anything unless it matched my eyes (blue).

5. I have freak out when people mix up the colors in art supplies.  Seriously, crayons that are not in the Roy G. Biv color patterns are like nails on a chalk board to me.  And forget that I have a 2 ½ year old who likes to mix the Play Doh colors together or likes to muddy up the water colors. 

 6. I’m in love with the actors Gabriel Byrne and John Malcovich.  I went to go see Man in the Iron Mask when I was in college, not because of Leonardo DiCaprio, but because BOTH Gabriel AND John were in the same movie!

7. When I was in second grade I didn’t do my spelling homework and had a quiz the next day.  I got a 10 on the test (out of 100).  My teacher posted all the tests on the closet doors no matter your score.  I was so embarrassed by my 10 that from that day on I became obsessed with school work and getting good grades. 

8. My dream job is to be an Imagineer for Walt Disney.  I’ve applied twice for a project manager position and will keep applying for them as they pop up until I work for them.  So Mr. Mouse—please call!  I’ve wanted to be an Imagineer since I’ve been in 8th grade.  I’m 33 years old now—you do the math!

9. I first attempted to be a runner in high school but they wanted to make me a hurdler.  Being the klutz that I am, I quit the track team the next day.  I wish I had stuck with it.

10. I met my husband the same night as my cousin met her husband at a basket ball game.  It wasn’t even a double date!

11. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through undergrad.  My first “public school” was my graduate school.  It felt odd not having to take a religion class each semester.

My Questions From Liz:

1. What song on your iPod are you most embarrassed by?   That would have to be a tie between “All 4 Love” by Color Me Badd or “Watch Me Do Me” from the Disney tv show Shake It Up.

2. What was your first concert?  I’m pretty sure it was Bryan Adams.  I forget though because my first three concerts were all in the same year—I also saw Tiffany and New Kids on the Block and The Cover Girls and Stevie B the same year.

3. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  Washington, DC.  I went to college there and love it and miss everything about it.

4. What would your last meal be?  I really can’t even answer this because it depresses me too much!

5. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?  Another tie—totally a toss up between Butter Pecan and Pistachio.  It’s a REALLY hard decision for me to make.

6. Do you still have a t-shirt from high school or college?  I have a ton!  I actually have wanted to make a quilt with them so that they are at least useful because right now they are in a box.

7. Is your computer a laptop or a desktop?  It’s a lap top.

8. What would your dream job be?  See Answer to Number 8 above.

9. What is your favorite holiday?  Thanksgiving—mostly because I get the day after off…I just really enjoy when you’re able to enjoy a holiday and not worry about work the next day.

10. Did you go to college in a different state than where you grew up?  Yes, I grew up in RI/MA and went to college in Washington, DC.  Best decision I ever made and I love everything about Washington, DC.

11. Do you dread going to the doctor?  Only if I need to get a shot or blood work.  Normally going to the doctor doesn’t get me worked up. 

 Here are my 11 questions for you—I’m not tagging anyone because I feel like everyone has done it already.  If you haven’t and want to be tagged please let me know and I’ll link you!!

  1.  If you could be on any reality tv show, which would you pick and why?
  2. What is your favorite kind of cuisine?
  3. Who was your first crush as a little kid?
  4. If money were no object, where would you travel to for a month long vacation?
  5. Who is your favorite Disney character?
  6. Have you ever been operated on and for what?
  7. If you had a theme song what would it be?
  8. What is your favorite Olympic event to watch?
  9. If you could change your first name to anything, what would it be?
  10. What is your favorite color?
  11. What is your least favorite food?

Tag! You’re it!!

The Beginning–For Real

With the first few days of 2012 upon us I have decided that one of my resolutions for this year was to hold myself accountable for all of my crazy ideas and plans through this blog.  I had the best of intentions to start this blog back in April of 2011 when I found out I was pregnant with my second baby so that I could document not only what was likely my last pregnancy, but also to document my journey through an active pregnancy so that my children could look back one day and see the feats that I was able to accomplish while growing a new life.

39 ½-weeks and newborn baby boy later, I have yet to document for my children any of my health and fitness accomplishments.  While I missed documenting my pregnancy as it happened, I hope that I can reflect and share some of my triumphs and defeats while pregnant. 

Since its initial inception, I’ve decided that this blog isn’t intended to solely be a running or fitness blog—though it may turn into that.  “My Mumma’s Shoes” is intended to simply walk along with me—whether it’s in my work shoes (pink Timberland construction boots and high heels), my fitness shoes (Asics Nimbus 12), or my mummy shoes (multiple pairs of tall boots).  I may not post daily, and I may not post about anything that you find particularly interesting, but in the end I’m not writing this for you the reader—I’m writing this for my children.  I hope that they can look back on this one day and really see their mother.