War on Average

encouraging each other not to be satisfied with mediocre


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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.

 


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A Company I Can Trust

Post 10.2Over the years, many people have asked me WHY Shaklee? What makes Shaklee different from other companies?

When I was looking for non-toxic cleaner, bio-available vitamins and skin care that was safe, I found Shaklee. And what stood out to me wasn’t the products as much at first, but the company. This company had HISTORY. And this company had INTEGRITY.

What has always stood out to me is the Shaklee Difference. Shaklee is committed to purity, potency, and proof.

And it’s not surprising…Post 7.3

Shaklee is a leading global natural nutrition company. They are the ONLY company in the world with PROOF of the long-term health benefits of its products.

They are committed to creating the highest quality of natural products to keep you and your family healthy. Shaklee guarantees that every product is 100% safe and the proof is in their clinical research. Shaklee has published 125 scientific papers and presentations, 90 of which are in peer-reviewed publications medical journals.  The Chairman & CEO of Shaklee is Roger Barnett.

So the integrity is not only in the science, but in the business. From the top, through the field, there is a level of commitment to doing the right thing for people. Read Forbes’ interview with Roger Barnett to learn more about his values and commitment to doing the right thing.

And if that isn’t enough, the bigger picture of Shaklee is seen in what they have done for the world–far outside the marketplace.

This is just a brief look at why I trust Shaklee for my family, my friends, and the people that I am a health and business advocate for.


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Crock Pot Vegetable Soup in Beef Broth

Want a yummy, hearty soup for this cold weather? Try this one!

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Ingredients:
1 stalk celery chopped (save the ends!)IMG_1210
5-8 carrots chopped
2 zucchinis chopped*
1 yellow squash chopped
Fresh spinach
14-16 oz garbanzo beans (cooked or canned)
5-6 cups homemade beef broth (see below)–or other broth
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 gloves garlic, minced

*The smaller zucchinis and yellow squash (looks like a yellow zucchini) have the most nutrients so stick with those

Simple Directions:
Put broth, carrots, celery and spices in the crock pot
Cook for 6 hours on low
Add zucchini, squash, spinach and garbanzo beans
Cook for 2 additional hours (or more for additional softness)
Even the littlest mouths enjoy!

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Homemade Beef Broth/Homemade Italian Beef
To make homemade Italian Beef: Put a large, fatty, bone-in roast in the crock pot. Add generously: sea salt, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. Cook on low for 10 hours. Add 5-6 pepperchinis and cook for an additional 2-4 hours. If you forgot to put it in early in the morning, put on high to 2-3 hours to get it started.

After making Italian Beef with a fatty, bone-in roast, save the roast and extra fat (can be frozen for later). Place in crock pot and fill with water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add additional sea salt and garlic powder if needed.

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