Wellness Part 1: Connecting with June Cleaver

Molly and Jen recently taught me to knit. It’s very exciting. During our weekly knitting lunch, I looked at Molly and exclaimed, “Ooh! I can make my own dishcloths! How domestic will that make me?”

To which Molly gently replied as only a good friend could, “Maybe you should just try making your husband dinner first.” Touché, Molly. Touché.

I have a tendency to get really busy and then really lazy about certain things. Between extra doses of travel and company this fall, Josh’s busy schedule, our very different diets, and me rarely being home before 6:30, we’ve pretty much kissed home-cooked meals goodbye. I was hardly June Cleaver to start with, so I’ve got some work to do. Molly and I laughed really hard at her joke, but I’m actually trying to put it into practice. At least a couple times a week, anyway.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about living intentionally and about the most important things in life. Molly’s 30 list is inspiring me to take another look at my list and be a little more proactive about it. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about wellness and what that means. Is it possible that a homemade dinner at the table can contribute to wellness? I think so. Here are four areas of life I’ve been mulling over a lot lately.

In no particular order . . . except that food is first because that’s mostly what this blog is about . . . here are four areas that I want to really be intentional about in my life:

  1. Diet. Not the four-letter version of that word, as in “I’m on a diet.” If you’re on a diet, may I be blunt? Stop being on a diet. I mean “diet” as in what you eat and drink on a regular basis. Our well-being is so tied to what we put into our bodies. It’s actually shocking how this affects us, but hang on, I’ll address more about that in a minute.
  2. Exercise. Move it or lose it seems to be a pretty accurate adage. If you want to be mobile when you’re 80 you have to be mobile when you’re 30. That means I have got to stop hitting my snooze alarm.
  3. Spiritual and Emotional Health. This might be two, but I’m going to lump them together. For me, they are intricately connected. Two words: Be Still. I need so much work on this it’s ridiculous.
  4. Relational Health. Turns out people really affect us. And we affect them. It might as well be for good.

So let’s chat about the first one today.

1. Diet

If you’ve spent some time on this blog you know that Molly has to be gluten-free, Jen mostly has to be gluten-free, and I just tend to feel better when I’m gluten-free. But this is about more than not eating gluten; it’s also about eating things that are really good for you.

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

That’s brilliant. And I believe it. It’s become my mom’s mantra as she is battling some severe health issues. I’ve seen it transform my dad’s life. Molly, Jen, Lisa. I could go on. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need actual medicine. But sometimes just changing what we eat and drink can be life changing.

Here’s the thing. Healthy diets can look a little different for everyone. It’s a matter of finding what works best for your body and being pretty diligent to live that way 85% of the time. Cut some bad stuff and add some good stuff.

Adding good stuff is key, but here are a few positive things I’ve experienced or heard of others who have experienced from cutting the gluten.

  • Weight loss and maintenance. I have been consistently 11 to 14 pounds lighter since I’ve cut most of the gluten from my diet ten months ago.
  • Allergy relief. Some people actually get relief from other allergies by cutting gluten from their diets.
  • Improved mental health. People with depression and even things like autism notice improvement from being gluten-free.
  • Being happy. One of my mom’s doctors told her recently that the human body’s intestinal tract has more serotonin receptors than the brain. Serotonin leads to feelings of well-being and happiness. Don’t smash your receptors! Don’t clog them, block them, or smother them. When I’m really dedicated and intentional about my diet (and for me that means being gluten-free), there are days you can’t smack the smile off my face. When I’m not, well, it’s touch and go.
  • Improved digestive health. If you have any kind of digestive problem, I highly recommend trying gluten-free living. Indigestion, heartburn, bloating, feeling too full. Whatever your problemo is, I have personally felt a lot better, and I know others who’ve had the same experience.

It’s not easy to change. It’s not easy to live intentionally. But life flies by so quickly. I want to soak up every last good drop of it. So I’m going to work to cook homemade meals at least twice a week. Pitiful? Yes, a little, but progress. June Cleaver? Hardly, but I like leftovers.

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I’m going to take a page from Molly’s book and do some crock-potting. That’s what I’ve done that last couple weeks, and it seems like a good fit for those of us who spend more time in the office than in the kitchen. Do any of you busy folks have some tricks and tips for preparing healthy meals on a regular basis? Do you have a life-changing food experience? I’d love to hear about them.

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21 Days to Make a Habit: 90 Days to Make a Lifestyle Change

In the first month I started my new “lifestyle change” of trying to avoid gluten, sugar, and dairy, my mom saw a segment of the Today Show that talked about the difference between a habit and a full lifestyle change. Apparently you can make or break a habit in 21 days. But overhauling the way you eat entirely is something that takes about 90 days.

I am really happy to say that I have hit my 90 days. And not only that, I actually like my lifestyle change. Quite a bit, in fact. I look forward to eating a meal that I know is really healthy, but still very satisfying.

I would say I am about 90/10 or 85/15 when it comes to my new habits. Maybe a little worse. Since I don’t have celiac or other major allergies, admittedly, I cheat in all categories. I would have to say that sugar and dairy, especially cheese, are my worst tempters. Losing the gluten is really not all that bad. I like gluten-free bread and pasta, and I don’t often crave their gluten-filled counterparts.

Some of the positive things that have come out of this for me are:

1. I have lost 13 pounds. I fluctuate a pound or so, but I’m only one more from my original goal.
2. I feel better. And when I cheat, I usually remember why I don’t eat that way all the time.
3. I’m cooking more and enjoying cooking more. I get excited about trying new things, I like trying Molly and Jen’s recipes, and I look forward to cooking delicious foods that are really good for me. (Side note: I made Molly’s egg cups over Easter, and they were a big win!)

If you’re interested in changing your lifestyle for health or weight reasons, I’d really encourage you to do so. It takes some adjusting, but it is—dare I say—fun. Really. It’s amazing how good it feels to know you’re filling your body with nutrients and foods that are good for you. And shedding some unwanted pounds—that’s really fun. Buying new pants in smaller sizes—well, let’s just say that’s the best part.

My next habit—or probably lifestyle change—is adding exercise back to my to my routine. I pretty much let that go over the winter.

Which is harder for you to maintain, healthy diet or exercise?

She’s Just Being Gluten-Free

Another celebrity has joined the gluten-freebies ranks–Miley Cyrus. She’s claiming her new gluten-free diet has helped her lose weight, and it probably has. But when I came across this article I had to laugh. I can’t tell you how many times friends of mine have opted to go gf to lose weight, but have basically only eaten the foods from this slideshow and been disappointed when they gained pounds instead of shedding them. Check it out:

8 Gluten-free Things That Won’t Help You Lose Weight Like Miley Cyrus