War on Average

encouraging each other not to be satisfied with mediocre


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Healthy Halloween?

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Written by Ryan Guerra

Halloween. Otherwise know as Round One of the holiday season sugar challenge. The mindset and health commitments we make as we head into Halloween and all it’s sugary fare undeniably sets the tone for the following months of parties, gatherings and temptations to keep a “stash” in the house. If we approach the season with a growth mindset decided on what we pre-define as success then it is totally possible to ENJOY the season and some of it’s indulgences AND ALSO feel great because of habits we decide on ahead of time that will make it simple to make healthy choices.

Set yourself and your loved ones up for success by using ideas like these as we approach round one; Halloween.

  1. Make up your mind. Decide in advance what you WILL enjoy and how much. This time of year candy bowls appear in the office and children come home from trick or treating with half of Willy Wonka’s factory in a bucket. Pre-commit to only a certain reasonable amount of fly-by snatch and grabs from the community candy bowl each week. One mini-snickers each day is not going to derail your health over a short period of time, but grabbing one every-other time you walk by it will. If you have children that trick or treat talk to them ahead of time about what they hope they get during their outings and that when they get home they can pick 10-20 total pieces of their favorite candy to keep. (Don’t worry. We won’t be recommending they give the rest to their parents..sorry 😉 Unless it’s the unavoidable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tax of course.)
  2. Donate. One candy donation program that is available in most areas is Halloween Candy Buy Back, which donates candy to soldiers overseas in care packages. This candy is also often used to give to kids in villages that soldiers have a presence in to promote good-will and create relationships based on kindness and giving. However, whether you donate or discard the excess treats just be sure to get it out of the house! Why create the temptation to chip away at the stash until it’s down to Double Bubble and hard candy and you finally throw it away?! (talking to myself here!)
  3. Make the mind-body connection. Think about how good it feels to NOT get that sugar crash. The short term “yum” factor and energy boost from sugar is addicting, but the sugar crash that comes with it creates brain fog, headaches, reduced immunity and lethargy. Be intentional to make the mental connection to the sense of accomplishment and clear-mindedness that occurs when you make healthy decisions to not partake or consume beyond what you committed to.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up. If in the course of festivities you over-do it and eat five too many reese’s peanut butter cups (oh…only I do that? Ok.) chalk it up to the short term enjoyment you get out of it, but re-commit to your plan and begin to replenish your body by hydrating well and supplementing with the vitamins and nutrients that sugar depletes. /nerd alert/ When your body metabolizes a carbohydrate, of which sugar is one, it uses vitamin B, Zinc and magnesium to process it all to name a few. When we are depleted of vitamins like these it sends the body into an imbalance, which often leaves us craving a quick burst of energy and we ironically go to sugar for that, which is what has cause the depletion in the first place. Stop the cycle by going to the root of what is needed to bring back balance instead of throw fuel on the fire. HINT: It might seem silly to write down something like the number of treats you’ll allow yourself weekly at the office or daily from your kid’s trick or treat haul, but when you write a commitment down you increase your success rate ten-fold versus just having it in your head.

Set yourself and those around you up for success as the bell is about to ring for Halloween, Round One of the holiday sugar challenge. Think about how good it feels and the control you have over your choices that will let you enjoy the season ahead, without regret and having to dig out of increased sugar dependency, decreased immunity and the weight gain that doesn’t have to come as part of the holiday package.

BONUS: Ifyou love Reese’s peanut butter cups like we do in our house we hope you will enjoy this healthier alternative that is a hit with our family! It is still calorie dense, but uses healthy ingredients.

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Ryan Guerra has a diverse background in investment advisory, ministry and health and wellness. He loves the continual pursuit of learning in order to bring value and contribution in the areas of faith, family and business. His wife says he’s smarter than science…and because listening to your wife is one of the smartest things you can do…of course he believes her.

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Sick Season – Opt Out!

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Written by Ryan Guerra

There are universal truths that exist in our world. What goes up must come down. If you check the door locks ten times before leaving town…you will still question whether you locked them all as you pull out of the driveway…or worse are taxiing for takeoff. If a tree falls in the woods and nothing is there to hear it then it doesn’t make a sound (oh, you disagree? Prove it.) Oh…and no one LIKES getting sick! Good news is that you can actually do something(s) to avoid having to deal with the last one. We are encouraging as many as we can to “opt out of sick season” and we are excited to share how so that many of us can save time, money and preserve focus and consistency in life this season.

One of the gifts of our business is that we get to share what we’ve learned with others; be it in one-on-one in informal settings like the gym or a play-date or in nationwide coaching and education settings . We’ve seen the time-saving, life-giving impact that paying attention to these areas of immunity can make. Many are simple no-brainers that might be harder to create discipline around and others require a more in-depth look at what unique deficiencies may exist that contribute to someone’s weakened immune system. Wherever you land you’re in the right place and these are ways we love to help!

To improve and/or maintain health there are four essential recommendations in the areas of nutrition, sleep/stress, habits and supplementation.

1. Nutrition:
This is KEY. Just like “abs are made in the kitchen” and nutrition is more vital to a lean physique than working out nutrition is also the cornerstone for immunity. Make mindful decisions to decrease sugar and carbohydrates and increase vegetables. Sugar restricts white blood cells from absorbing bacteria and viruses from the body and flushing them out. It absolutely takes effort to choose a nutritious diet, but SO worthwhile when you consider time spent for doctor’s visits, time home from work or school and the money for insurance deductibles, co-pays, doctor visits and prescriptions! It adds up. (So pretty much that whole ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure rings true!) Not to mention…shoot for nutrition that supports immunity and you might even get a set of abs as well!

How do we do this practically? Whether you take advantage of the individualized help we offer Shaklee members around nutrition and supplementation be sure to have a plan. A plan ensures you have the framework to make the best nutrition choices when food is in front of you. For example, when you have an event that will involve indulgent foods make sure to consume protein and vegetables earlier in the day (which we should be doing every day anyway 😉 and then have a 10-20 gram protein shake on your way out the door in order to take the edge off hunger and put yourself in better control of choices. If the event is at a restaurant or you know the typical fare that shows up to seasonal/holiday parties each year do the work before attending and check out the menu and make decisions on your food choices ahead of time. Without fail this always leads to a healthier selection when you are placing an order or standing in front of the feast of food…even if you might diverge from the plan a little bit in the moment. Employ good choices 80-90% of the time and you set yourself up to enjoy foods that might be “off the healthy menu” on the occasion you indulge. When you DO indulge in a sweet treat or that half plate of Thanksgiving stuffing (guilty!) or adult beverage or few be sure to have a plan for recovery. A quality, proper supplement will help your body process sugars and ensure you are not left nutrient deficient and be able to recover from the biological stress that less healthy choices create. More on that to come…

2. Sleep & Stress:
Our bodies need sleep to repair and rest. Not getting enough quality sleep leads to a weaker immune system. Probably not news to any of us, right?! But this is an area where facts and reality often part ways in our day to day choices. If you are like us we understand the impact sleep deprivation and stress creates on the body, but often sleep is the first thing we compromise when we hit a hectic pace of life. Then we are rudely reminded (colds and flus are always such jerks!) of the symptoms that stress and lack of sleep cause when it’s already too late.

Don’t have time for that “magical, arbitrary prescription” of eight hours of sleep? Good news! You might not need that much. Business Insider recently shared a method to determine what might be your genetic make up in terms of how much sleep you need. In addition, evidence suggests that committing to a power nap (20-30 minutes) each day or a few times per week can help take the edge off sleep deprivation in the short term. A sleep schedule and stress management approach is essential as it not only keep the mind sharp, but the body needs restorative rest and sleep to reset all systems, including immunity. (Shaklee members can contact us to help with these areas. Stress and sleep are closely related and simple steps or supplements can aid in bringing them into harmony. Ever wonder why a glass of warm milk was the standard to aid sleep in the past, but is not as effective now? We’ve got the answer).

3. Habits:
We don’t have to give Howie Mandel a run for his money in order to decrease our exposure to unwanted germs, but small actions like the following can yield potentially big results. Establish habits such as washing hands each time you walk in the door and prior to each meal.  Have your children change out of their school clothes when they arrive home. Clean your phone (which might as well be a petri dish for germs) and other commonly touched surfaces daily. One area that gets overlooked in the busy-ness for some is changing bedding regularly. Considering that we spend 6-8 hours (or however long the Business Insider method suggests for you, haha) in our beds it is an immunity game changer to wash sheets to reduce the build up of germs that we would otherwise lay on for up to a third of every day! Don’t have time to change the entire bedding? You can still get the worst of the germ exposure eliminated by changing/washing pillowcases once per week.  Other ideas would be habits like using a non-clorox/non bleach sanitizer to clean common surfaces and handles at home and sanitizer wipes when at the grocery store or setting up shop to work at a local coffee shop. How many apples do you pick up and inspect when grocery shopping? Yeah, exactly…and so does everyone else! So washing produce with a non-toxic cleaner is vital. (My eyes were opened to how dirty our produce can be and how germs can spread through food from my friend Monica, who has great professional culinary advice!

4. Supplement:
Many of us may already feel like we have a good handle on the first three essentials, but there is yet one more approach to build immunity. It may require some up front investment of time and even funds to implement (and we are here to help!), but the cost to be pro-active is far less than the cost of being reactive. As summer comes to a close and fall begins (what we refer to as the beginning of “sick season”) we often get asked which supplements provide the biggest immunity bang for the buck. These are just some BASIC starters, but based on unique needs and environments there is more you can add to address specific issues. Talk to your Shaklee consultant to determine a more customized and cost effective plan for you. If you’re wondering why we choose Shaklee, watch this little video or ASK US! We are passionate about the Shaklee Difference!

Start with a healthy base:
We recommend everyone (young and old) to be on a QUALITY multivitamin with research that backs it’s effectiveness. Why supplement? Despite even the best efforts to eat organic and all natural, our food supply does not contain the vitamins and minerals it once did. Even organic produce is grown for yield and not for nutritional value This means the choice is ours whether to supplement in an educated way that eliminates deficiencies and allows our bodies to function the way God designed them.
For seasonal immunity and those who require additional immune support:
Optiflora probiotics: Over 70% of the immune system is in the gut. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Yogurt is often touted as a great probiotic source because it CONTAINS pro-biotics, however in almost every case the probiotics in yogurt or other fermented food does not make it past the first stage of digestion and deeper into the gut where immunity is really supported. Shaklee has a patented triple-encapsulated delivery system that guarantees delivery of the full dose of probiotics at the right point in the digestive system. This is especially important for those who have Candida issues, have recently been on antibiotics, steroids, or those who experience digestive issues.

Vitamin C: Shaklee makes a chewable Vitamin C for children (better than Flinstone’s in every way, including that it is all natural and has no toxic fillers or ingredients like most over the counter kid’s vitamins have). Shaklee also has a sustained release Vitamin C supplement for adults. Ask me why sustained release is key for certain supplements. (hint, without sustained release it IS true that in many cases you pee out a large amount of the valuable nutrients. Money down the drain)

Vitamin D: Bioavailability matters and ensuring that the Vitamin D you are taking is absorbed into your body is key. Vitamin D is chocked full of benefits for year round health and immunity, but especially important during the colder, cloudier winter days as well as if you work indoors most of the day. Just because a vitamin D supplement has vitamin D in it does not mean it is absorbed unless it is formulated to include the other nutrients that aid in absorption.

That extra boost:
These supplements can be taken regularly, but can also just be added when you feel like you or someone in your family is coming down with something or even once you are undoubtedly sick. Either way, they will help you avoid getting sick or at the very least assist your recovery by keeping symptoms subdued and reduce the time it takes to begin feeling human again. In our family we have avoided sickness countless times in the last several years simply by keeping these on hand and using them at the right time. Not only do we rarely get sick now, even with very young children, but we have more time and less interruptions in our lives from being sick.

Vitalized Immunity: Is a tasty (alka-seltzer-like) orange flavored tab that dissolves in water and boosts your immune system with a variety of vitamins. Has the equivalent of sixteen orange’s worth of vitamin C in addition to other immune boosting ingredients. (For kids under ten I usually give ½ of a tab.)

NutriFeron: Scientists and medical communities have identified interferon as being crucial to healthy immune function. NutriFeron is an exclusive, patented formula, which provides a proprietary blend of four plant extracts designed to naturally increase levels of interferon in the body and provide immune support at the cellular level. When symptoms of sickness begin this is what our family supplements with immediately with close to a perfect record of fighting off the sickness before it takes hold.

Defend & Resist: Defend & Resist Complex strengthens your body to respond to environmental challenges by giving your immune system what it needs to stay strong. Key ingredients in Defend & Resist have been shown in laboratory studies to help stimulate the body’s natural resistance with Echinacea purpurea and maintain a healthy immune response with black elderberry and larch tree. Who knew such little-known natural sources could be part of supporting your body, which was designed to be strong, to fight off sickness and germs?!

The first two of these were staples in our home daily leading up to Christmas when everyone we talked to seemed to be sick and when nutrition and sleep were at a low. We managed to stay completely healthy despite regular contact with sick family and friends over the holidays. Yes!!

These are four simple guidelines to begin a roadmap to a stronger immune system. Be mindful of these things and begin creating nutrition, sleep and other healthy habits and you will certainly be able to find success in “opting out of sick season.” If the supplementation aspect is an area you want to learn more and determine what fits your needs and budget best your Shaklee Health Advocate can help!

Here’s to skipping sick days (at least the ones where you are ACTUALLY sick 😉 and a healthy, fun and energy filled fall, winter and holiday season!

 

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Ryan Guerra has a diverse background in investment advisory, ministry and health and fitness. He loves the continual pursuit of learning in order to bring value and contribution in the areas of faith, family, fitness and business. His wife says he’s smarter than science…and because listening to your wife is one of the smartest things you can do…of course he believes her.


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Forty Days to Transformed Health

I had the privilege to interview Gina Carlson and document her story. Stories like hers fuel my passion for why health is so much more than health—it fuels all of life.

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Forty Days to Transformed Health:
By Gina Carlson

There are so many aspects to life. And in so many ways, we were very blessed. We were thankful for our children, for my husband’s job, and our families. But our family’s health was holding us back from ENJOYING the blessings in life. Life before Shaklee was unhealthy. And, though we might not have been able to articulate that at the time, health is so much more than health.

There was me: I was struggling with Rheumatoid Arthritis and autoimmune issues. I was taking medications but still felt unhealthy. And it isn’t easy being a mom when you’re not feeling your best.

But my own health issues were barely on my radar…

I have four children. Braeden was the healthy, easy one. Yet he was on Miralax daily for digestive issues. A five-year-old with hemorrhoids.
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The twins, two years younger than Braedan, were born prematurely and struggled with their health since birth. Their lungs had not fully developed. For their entire life, they were on nebulizers every day. We spent every year in and out of the hospital. Especially in winter, October-March. Every year we would have 2-3 hospitalizations for pneumonia.

This was hard on our life. It was hard to have sick children—always, but Christmas break was a brutal picture of how these health challenges were more than just health challenges.

During our Christmas breaks, we could never do anything. My husband is a teacher. Breaks should have allowed us to go places and to be together making memories. It wasn’t. Their immunes systems were too low.

We spent most of Christmas break in hospitals or at home on treatments. The nebulizer treatments were required every 2-3 hour–even through the night. Plus there were two of them. My husband and I were exhausted. Even when we were home, we were not functional to go anywhere.  We had never gone anywhere for Christmas Day. We had always pictured this season of our year and of our life with children being a lot different.

Then there was Kate. When she was 4, I began to notice signs of premature puberty.  Her was developing body odor, hair growth, etc. I talked to her pediatrician and we began keeping an eye on these symptoms.

After teachers began to notice and mention these issues, we went back to the doctor. Her body wasn’t releasing the prepubescent hormones. So, puberty was beginning.

At that point, she was diagnosed with adrenal system disorder, autoimmune disorder, and hyperthyroidism.

All of these issues were interrelated—but I didn’t really understand that at the time.

Initially, with Kate’s age and the disease, it was a waiting game. She had to go for blood work and x-rays once a month. As it went on, 2014, when she was 6, it started to get to where they thought within a year she would start her period. And starting her period that young would mean infertility. That reality weighed very heavy on my heart. At that point, we started to have to go weekly for blood appointments.

On top of the challenge of those heavy realities, and the scheduling of all these appointments, daily life was difficult as well. Imagine the hormones of a 16-year-old with the 6-year-old ability to regulate it.

And it wasn’t just all Kate’s appointments, but mine and the twins as well. Our life was consumed with our medical appointment schedule.

Then began the transition of 2015…
There was a point where I thought, there has to be something more I can do for them. I couldn’t just listen to the doctors just tell me to wait and see. It felt like we were in the movie Groundhog Day, over and over again. It felt like we would never get out of this hole we were in.

We were stuck in every part of life. My husband and I used to be involved in sports and activities and now we couldn’t do anything. And with Kate, there was SO much on the line.

We had to do more.

As a parent, as a mom, you always want to protect your kids, and you want to know you are doing the best for your kids. I always wanted to listen to our doctors, but I began to wonder if there was more I was missing.

I began researching like crazy—looking at natural things that people were doing.  I thought, “We CANNOT be so helpless in our health! We have to DO something for our family.” We started making small changes to attempt to be more natural. We began trying supplements, non-toxic cleaners, probiotics … but we were not all in.

My research for Kate’s health lead me to read input from other parents who had gone before me. One of the moms on a blog mentioned Shaklee. I thought, my friend Kristen does something with that stuff. My husband said we should connect with her—and I did. And, I am so very thankful I did!

It was January of 2016—we had created a New Year’s Resolution for our family—to try new things and begin to get our life back.

We began simple by putting the kids on Incredivites Multi Vitamin (or Kate on VitaLea), Nutirferon (immunity), Optiflora Probiotic and Mighty Smarts DHA.

We started to see definite results. The twins had not needed their nebulizers in a week. That was the first time that had happened.

But at that point, Kate’s blood work had not moved.

Lent 2016:
We saw enough change to make a decision. We decided we would go ALL IN. We would change our diet, add in exercise for our fitness, and change to all non-toxic cleaners. Lent is huge for our family. This was going to be our change for Lent. Maybe not giving something up, but this was us showing what we could DO to show God we value our bodies.

The transition was hard for the kids—we got rid of all the processed foods and fruit snacks and stuff that wasn’t healthy. But they got excited that this was something they could collaborate on and to help us make the healthy food list. They were excited to do this for God.

That is when life began to change—not just health, but LIFE…

We began to see major differences—we added in full Shaklee supplement regimens for all of us. We saw HUGE differences when we changed to Shaklee cleaners and laundry detergent. Everyone felt better. But it was so much more than feeling–Kate’s white blood cell count stabilizing. Twins didn’t have to refill their prescription’s. Our LIFE was starting to change.

We were consistent. We were committed. That made the difference

Erik saw the biggest changes in ME. He saw that I felt in control and it made me more peaceful. He saw that when momma was happy, everyone was happy. He saw the dynamic of our home change and that meant the most to him. We were able to get out and do things. We were having fun and being a family.

But, honestly, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. This wasn’t real, I thought, and it wasn’t going to last.

But it only got better—

At the end of April Kate had a doctor’s appointment and it was the first time her blood hormone levels had moved in the direction where they were balancing towards normal. The FIRST time. So the doctor said, “You don’t have to come back for three months.” (At lent we had also put her on B-Complex and SRC). Three months? We had been going WEEKLY.

We had been wishing we could get a dog. But that was never an option. The twins allergies and health had always kept that fun family pet out the picture—but with the improvements we asked the doctor. He said they were not showing any signs of allergies anymore.

We were able to get a DOG. Something we never thought we would be able to do, but something we had always pictured as a part of our life.
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While I was at peace and so grateful, the Lent season ended and school was out. The summer is when I was really waiting for the shoe to drop–with the seasons changing. But it never did.

The kids got sick but it wasn’t like it was before. It was not debilitating. There were not hospital visits.

Fast forward to the end of July, we went back for Kate’s appointment. The doctor said her white blood cell was normal functioning—which meant Kate was no longer considered auto immune. Her hormone levels retracted back to where they were when she was younger. She was considered stabilized. Thyroid disease no longer showing up.

Her white blood cell count had gone up, which meant her body was able to stop fighting itself and fight the things that were fighting against her. Her body was finally able to regulate herself naturally.

The doctors didn’t have an answer and they were not interested in why. They said come back in six months. Was this really happening??

Life Abounding:
We did the math A LOT. This was a BIG investment to go ALL IN with supplements for everyone, shakes every day, better food. But we knew it would be the long-term best INVESTMENT for our family.

In 2015 we spent $13,000 in medical bills, even with good insurance. In 2016, that number was $4,000.

Even though we purchased so many nutrients, we saved significant amounts. And we GAINED our life back.

This is the FIRST Halloween we ALL got to go somewhere.  It was surreal, as dramatic as that sounds, and I was scared something was going to go wrong.

Thanksgiving – we always had it at our house because the kids were too sick to have anyone over to go anywhere. We just plan on everyone being sick and so no relatives come. But we had a lot of our family over because no one was sick. It was one of the kids’ favorite days. There was just so much more to be thankful for—that we got to be with our family, that they were healthy enough to enjoy it. We went around the table, sharing what we were thankful for and Kate said she was thankful for alfalfa because it made her feel better. My kids were so aware that what we did made a difference in their lives. Kate seems to be even more aware of it than us, she wasn’t having blood draws every week. She reminds us of the reality of our changes.

Then came Christmas break:
It was the best. There were so many things I would see people doing every year on facebook and I would want to do that, but we never could. Those kind of things were not an option for us—until now.
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We packed our Christmas break with everything we ever wanted to do. We went to every Christmas thing that anyone, anywhere did. I thought I might be pushing it taking them to all those germy places but it was ok.

We did Navy Pier, the Arboretum, the zoo—all the things I saw people doing that we never got to do, as a whole family.

Christmas Day we were able to be with the kids and no one being sick. We were not in the ER on Christmas Eve. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it was to us.

The kids kept thinking it was a vacation. It was unreal to them too and amazing that they got to spend time together and experience all of this. If we ever did stuff before, it was never as a whole family. One parent would take the healthy kids one place and the other parent stayed home with the sick kids.

And then, if that wasn’t enough to overwhelm my heart, over break, we had Kate’s next appointment. Right before she went back to school, we went in to go over her blood work. Everything was at a normal level for her age. NORMAL. There was no physical symptoms of these major issues that we had been dealing with for years. They told us there was no reason to continue to monitor her levels. It was kind of scary to consider that. They were done with regular appointments. Done.

The doctor even asked to see what we were taking. She had never seen this before. It’s a congenital disease that once it’s activated, it isn’t reversed. The doctor was not understanding how this happened. But she realized that Kate’s system was to function properly once we began giving her the tools and nutrients she needed. It wasn’t magic, it was that her body was giving her body the ability to function the way her body was meant to.

It felt so powerful, that we could do this for her.

As a mom, I feel proud, I took the risk of doing what I thought was right even though many didn’t agree. I am glad I trusted my gut and questioned what the doctors were telling me. I have taken control of our family dynamic and not just a part of what is happening to us.

As we go into Lent this year, I feel very excited about refocusing our family on it and setting the foundation for the kids to think about life that way. I am more excited that they get to have this foundation that I didn’t have growing up. I get excited that they get to have this frame of mind, and knowing how to take care of our bodies and having to power to make the choices that our good everyday and that we get to do this as a family. They get the time frame of lent to learn about making those choices (in the rest of the year we are a little more flexible at parties etc). We are empowered by knowing what we can do for ourselves. And it excites me to see their energy for it.

If I could if could give one encouragement to moms who feel helpless, it would be to better educate themselves about what is out there. Knowledge is power and understanding your children’s health gives you the opportunity understand how to change. And know you are doing the best you can.

So, now that we have this major piece in order—we have our health back—now we can more fully enjoy all the blessing that have ALWAYS been there—our children, our careers, our families and our friends.

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Mom Hacks: Laundry

Those of you who follow my of Facebook may have seen my live video on my Laundry Mom-Hack, and this can serve as a follow up to you.

Here was where I found myself: Spending a lot of time trying to have a reading chair instead of a laundry chair.

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I have three children and a husband. Two of those children are girls who change their clothes a lot. They are also girls who dress themselves (and have for quite a while). What did this result in?

Drawers that look like this.

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So I found myself transitioning to having the girls put away their own laundry, since they didn’t keep it in my nice piles anyway.

Then, as a looked at my mountain of laundry (on my beloved laundry chair) I realized I was wasting incredible amount of time folding their clothes–since, as I said, they just ended up in heaps in the drawers anyway.

So my husband purchased me three small baskets. Now I am done with the laundry in at least half the time. I just sort each girls’ clothing into their basket. It is not folded. It is not put right-side out.

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It in then their responsibility put away the clothes as they are, sorted as they like, since they will be dressing themselves. It has saved me time and will teach them responsibility moving forward!

And yes, the clothes are wrinkled. But they were wrinkled sitting on my laundry chair for days and they were wrinkled as they were shoved and pushed around the drawers. The kids still look adorable.

After about two months of doing this, I consider it a great mom hack success!

 

Want to improve your family’s allergies, skin issues, brain function, immunity and more? Learn more about non-toxic laundry solutions from Shaklee! They work incredibly well too! I know, my kids are messy eaters!

Does this help you? Does this save you time? Let me know if you have tried it!


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Dear New Girl at the Gym,

gymDear New Girl at the Gym,

First, welcome. I can tell you are new here. Not just because I am kind of here a lot, but because you’re still finding your groove. Guess what? That’s okay! I remember when I first walked into a gym and just trotted along on the treadmill and watched the news because I wasn’t sure how to change the channels and didn’t want to look funny on the weight machines. I’ve been there too. Just because I did it a few years before you doesn’t make me any better. And if I get the chance, I am going to say hello. I want you to knowthat where you are is a a good place to be. I want you to know there are people who will answer your questions. I want this to become a community for you. I want this to be a community who is FOR you. I want you to be here long past March.

Second, way to go! I know it’s hard to decide to go someplace new. I know you’ve invested money and time to be here. If you have kids, I know (trust me, I know) what a workout it was just to get them all in shoes, coats, hats and to the childcare just to get to the weightroom or treadmill. I know the pressure you may feel when you put yourself out there and you look around feeling like everyone else knows what they are doing or that you’re in the way cause you’re a “resolutioner.” (Not everyone else knows what they are doing.)

I want you to know that I would rather park farther away for the rest of the year if it means the gym stays packed with people like you who grow in their commitment to health. I hope the gym is always this busy. I hope that if your kid is sick next week that you come back the next week. I hope you find a groove (and you will, give it time and I have  a few tips below).

Remember, this time for you is GOOD for you and for everyone in your life. Prioritizing this is not selfish. It compounds the blessing that you are in every area of your life. You will have more energy, more focus and even feel better in your clothes this month. But think about the rest of your life! The choices to care for YOU today will impact your health 20, 30 years from now. Exercise builds muscle, increases metabolism, increases bone density, and most definitely decreases stress and increases sanity. Think about how NOT breaking your hip playing with your grandkids could because you made the resolute commitment to choose YOUR health even when it was uncomfortable. As it is said, life, growth and all good things start OUTSIDE you and I’s comfort zone.

If you’re struggling this month, know you have a cheerleader in me…and I bet, if we get to know each other, someday I will be rooted on by you too! Keep it up, my friend!

– Harper

Some tips for getting started:
1. Schedule your weekly routine to go to the gym. Commit to it on your calendar before planning the rest of the week. It will help you stay on track.

2. Have a plan for each day you attend. There are so many resources online that you find tips and ideas for workouts.

3. Hire a trainer. If doesn’t have to be a weekly thing. You can hire an online trainer (I know a great one) or hire a trainer at your gym for one session. They can help you figure out some exercises that will help you reach your goals and then you can continue to build on those.

4. Have an accountability partner to call you on gym days or to work out with you.

5. Get gym clothes that you feel good in. That really makes a difference.

6. Eat to support your goals. Begin exploring what type of nutrition will help you recover. For example, if you are wanting to lose a few pounds it is important to eat in a way that burns fat, but preserves and even builds your valuable muscle at the same time. I have found that high fiber (veggies especially) and protein sources that include Leucine is key in this endeavor.


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Miss Pam’s Vegetable Soup


Our beloved Miss Pam brought us some of her amazing soup on a rough night when I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner. It was delicious! I needed some help with mine and she made it amazing. She taught me her skills and now my kids ask for “Miss Pam’s Soup.” It is an excellent way to get in as many vegetables as you want and add some you and your kids might not otherwise eat!

What you need:
Olive oil
One onion, minced
One orange or yellow pepper, minced
Garlic, minced
3-6 cups broth
Vegetables (suggestions below)
Spices (suggestions below)
1-2 small cans tomato sauce
1-2 cans 14 oz diced tomatoes
1-3 cans of beans (black, navy, pink, etc.)
1 can corn
Cooked chicken, 1/2-1 c shredded (optional)
Cooked rice or quinoa (optional)

Amounts of ingredients are based on how big of a batch you would like to make. I make a HUGE batch.

 

What to do:
Sauté minced onion, pepper and garlic in olive oil

Add stock


Bring to a medium boil and add root veggies (turnips, carrots, etc)


Make sure there is enough stock to cover the root vegetables. This will vary based on how big of a batch you’re making.


Next I add the spices! I don’t measure anything 🙂 but toss in what you like! I use just a shake of cayenne because the children don’t like it too spicy. Let that boil while you prep the next things. About 10 min. Or longer if you have children who always need 5 million things while you’re making dinner. A good place to do some clean up around the kitchen.

Then add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.
1 can each unless you have a large batch then I add 2.

Next add broccoli

Then add raw green beans, asparagus, celery etc. I chop these while the broccoli is boiling.


Then add chicken, if you’re adding.

Keep the soup at a medium boil.

When you’re about 20-30 min from eating, add beans and corn, drained (can simmer longer too if needed) and zucchini and squash.

About 10-15 min before eating add any rice or grains you’d like to add. I’ve used this at Pam’s suggestion but also added home-cooked brown rice or quinoa. Bring to a low boil. If you keep longer than the 10-15 minutes, have it at a low simmer.


Ready to serve and freeze!


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Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

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Oh and bacon. But if you are vegetarian or vegan is it very delicious without the bacon also!

What you’ll need:
1 yellow pepper (or orange)
1 onion (yellow or whatever you have)
6-7 pieces of cooked bacon (nitrate free) (optional)
3-5 medium Sweet Potatoes
4 cloves minced garlic
2 TB chili powder
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to your liking)
2-3 cups broth
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 14 oz cans)
Olive oil
Avocado (not pictured but awesome)
Sour Cream

What to do:
If using, cook bacon (I use the oven*)
Put olive oil in a large pot
Sauté onion and pepper and sweet potatoes till onion is soft
Add spices and garlic
Add broth, beans,  and tomatoes
Chop bacon into bits and put 1/2 into the pot
Simmer for 20-30 minutes based on how soft you like the sweet potatoes

Garnish with bacon bits, avocado and sour cream.

 

 

*To cook bacon in the oven, line a cookie sheet with foil (if the cookie sheet does not have sides, create sides with foil). Place bacon on foil in oven and turn on to 400. Check after 15 min and then leave in until desired crispness.