Friday, July 14, 2017

Snackcidents and Meal Planning

I think about food a lot, but eat mindlessly. It's like a non-identifiable eating disorder. Case in point, yesterday I had my snack (carrot, hummus, and wholegrain crackers). Finished it, drank a bottle of water, and then prepared the kids' snack. While cleaning up, I ate one of their crackers (Ritz-esque), before closing the packet and popping it into the drawer. I didn't even realise I'd done it until I swallowed, and then thought - hang on, did I just eat that??? I didn't even want it, I wasn't hungry - I wasn't even stressed. I just ate it because it was there.

Armed with that observation, I thought about how growing up in the United States, the concept of morning and afternoon tea was foreign to me. We ate three meals a day, and that was it. Here though, it's a done thing, and I like the idea. It prevents me from getting hangry, which is also a real thing, but only if I eat the right foods.

I struggle with meal planning. Well, not exactly the planning, but the execution of those plans. You see, the children don't eat the things I like to eat, and planning what to feed them leaves me with zero energy to execute things I've planned for myself. I could perhaps cook and freeze meals on the weekend, but my problem is that during the week, I'm cooking for just one. Most recipes are tailored for four serves. I don't want to eat the same thing four times in a row, and it all just gets to be too much, which brings me to my next tactic.

Instead of planning three meals and two snacks, I want to spread out my fuel (food intake) over five evenly spaced meals. If I have appropriate supplies on hand, and they are prepared in advance, then my need to make decisions is reduced. This reduction in decision-making requirements increases exponentially the likelihood that I will follow through with mindful eating, and eliminate any Snackcidents.

Things like single serve hommus tubs, cut vegetables, seed crackers, peanut butter, fresh fruit, roasted chickpeas and lentils, tinned tuna, and for a slightly more substantial offering, salad with tofu, or a wrap with salad and falafel.

I love cooking, creating - and this approach doesn't mean that I won't do that at all. On the contrary, it means that when I do create a meal, or experiment in the kitchen, it feels less like a chore, and something that I get to do for fun.

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Obese but Healthy?

Hello there!

So my blood work came back, and it was rather unremarkable. Sugars, thyroid, iron, blood counts - all normal. My lipids were elevated, and liver enzymes were slightly elevated, and calcium was slightly low, but corrected to normal.

So essentially, I'm obese, but mostly healthy. Which isn't to say I shouldn't pursue better health - I may have dodged a bullet this time, but if I don't change some things, the next time I have a blood test it probably won't be as favourable.

The doctor suggested switching from butter to one of those plant seed spreads, or lower-fat versions of things I eat.  Honestly, I'd rather use less butter. I hate those spreads, because they taste awful.
And use less of the full-fat versions, rather than use low-fat versions for the same reason, plus, a lot of low-fat things have more sugar in them, which I'm trying to avoid. It presents a challenge in the calcium arena, but there are many foods which contain calcium (hello to my new BFF, broccoli), without adding a ton of fat.

I don't drink wine every night, except when I've got a bottle open, then I have one glass in the evenings with dinner. Some weeks (like this week) I don't have any, so giving it up isn't a drama.

I'm relieved but baffled at these results, and will continue to work hard. It has given me somewhat of a direction, I suppose, and that is what I was hoping for. The most important part of this is, the knowledge that I'm mostly healthy doesn't weaken my resolve to attain excellent health.

xo, Sarah

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Hi. Nothing long-winded today, which actually ties in quite nicely with something I've been thinking about since my last post.

In the beginning of any adventure, there exists a strong possibility of overwhelm, and this adventure of mine is no exception.

I must strongly resist the urge to overhaul everything, and make small achievable (and sustainable!) changes, allowing them to be firmly established before proceeding with the next change. I have always been both an all-or-nothing person, as well as perfection-oriented. In this though, I quite simply must fight against both of those things, and take a long-term, slow and steady approach. I did not get to be in this state of health quickly, after all. Yes, there are many things which need to change or disappear. But they don't all have to change right now, and if I tried, I would soon quit because it's too hard.

The vitamins are a good start, and I'm in a good place to add another thing, so here I go:


For years after the birth of each of my children, I had ...issues... which caused me to drink far less water than I should. It's become such a habit that I've basically been chronically dehydrated since 2006. I joked with a friend the other week that if the human body is 60% water, then mine is more like 30% coffee, %30 water. I laughed, but in all honesty, chronic dehydration puts me at risk for all sorts of nasty complications. It seems like an obvious next step. Thankfully, soft drinks don't present much of a problem for me - but coffee and wine? Much more challenging. As long as the water outpaces those sufficiently, I'm comfortable with keeping those on board - and let's be real, I think my family prefer to keep coffee in the equation too!

Have a great day! (and go get a drink of water, please?)

xo, Sarah

Friday, July 7, 2017

Destination Unknown

It's been nearly a year since my last post here. A hard year, to be certain. I devoted myself to ensuring the transition for my family was positive, and here we are. Settled into a school, church and home. We have chickens, fish, and a puppy. The children are doing well. The husband has a rewarding job in the city, and comes home to us on the weekends.

Lately though, I've been asking myself - "where am I in all of this?" Not necessarily as a wife, or as a mother, but me.

I am a wife, I am a mother - and I am also me.

And I realised that I don't actually know who I am apart from being a wife and a mother. There is nothing else for me anymore. Everything I do is about my husband, my children, and my home. I have allowed those things to consume me, because the truth is that I'm afraid to take the road of discovery. What if all the carefully constructed details about me that I have held so tightly turn out to not be me at all?

Here's the thing though: I am tired of not knowing who I am, what I want, and feeling weak and weary. I am tired of feeling defeated and depleted.

My weight is the highest it has ever been. A couple of weeks ago, I weighed the dog, by first standing on the scale without her, then with her. Even my husband was shocked. For the record, he finds me as attractive as he always has, but couldn't believe I was carrying that much weight on my frame. The shock didn't hurt as much as the fear in his voice. The precise fear that I so much wanted to prevent when I started this blog three years ago. Fear that my lack of self-care had possibly led me to the point of ill health irrevocably altering our life together. He didn't say it, but I heard it. 

So I knew then as I know now, dear friends - that it had to change. Which brings me back to the starting point.

For a start, I went back on my multivitamin until my nutrition is up to scratch. As well as an Omega-3 supplement, and iron supplement (I was dreadfully low when I had my daughter 6 years ago, and since I never addressed it I just went ahead and started one.)  Interestingly the multi combined with the iron puts me above and beyond my vitamin C requirements, but since my immune system is abysmally weak these days, I figure in the short term that's not so bad. I've visited my doctor, who's ordered blood work to check my iron, cholesterol, liver function, thyroid and blood sugar. I figured, and he agrees, that it's a good idea to know where the starting line actually is. I go on Tuesday, and see the doctor again on Wednesday. He gave me instructions to do some research, and advised me that I didn't need to go out and spend money to address the weight. I don't want to do any type of programme, because eventually, I'd have to stop it and then what?  "No" I said,  "I just want to eat real food, but in more reasonable amounts, and to be more active."

I said to my husband that I want to remember the woman he fell in love with. Not physically, because after four babies in five years, that ship has sailed. Plus, I'm in my forties - I'm not going to ever look 29 again, and that is completely fine with me. It's superficial, but I cared about my appearance. I put thought into what I would wear, not because of how it looked, but because of how I felt. Sometime after "I do", I stopped caring. He loves me regardless, but I stopped trying to even feel good about myself, thinking it was selfish. What it actually did was to give him a wife who looks tired, feels empty, and can't cope with daily life.  So I'm making more of an effort to dress how I want to feel. Even on days when I actually feel horrible, I get dressed, put on my shoes, and shower. I want to go back to the gym, and he agrees. We both remember how strong and confident I felt last year going to the gym before my surgery, and we both think this will boost my energy. This won't happen until next week when the kids are at school again though.

I don't know how long it will take to get to the destination of excellent health. I don't particularly care, as long as I never make the return trip to here.  I have about thirty kilograms to lose (66 pounds), but honestly, that's not a finish line. This isn't about a temporary change. I have a lot of life left to live, and I want to live it well. That's why I'm doing this. Not because I want to wear a bikini (I don't!) or because I want to run a marathon (NOT HAPPENING). But because I was created for more than just hanging on by a thread. I was created to live a life of freedom, not a life of bondage.

Breaking my chains, one link at a time.

Love and strength to you,

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Very Good Place to Start

I just re-read my last post, and while encouraged, I feel like a bit of a failure. The last few months have been ugly. Stressful, and more about surviving than thriving. Having my husband work away from home for three months, even with several visits, wreaked havoc on my health - both mental and physical. I placed such high expectations on myself, and assumed responsibility for so many things, that I had no chance of meeting any of those expectations, and had no energy to be responsible for the things for which I was actually responsible.

We're here now, in our new home, and tomorrow marks the end of school holidays. Tomorrow begins our new routine. I have no idea where to even begin, except to go back to the beginning.

Maybe this time I can make it a permanent change. I know I need to make a lot of changes, but instead of freaking out about it, I'm just going to make a small change, then another, and another. One change at a time, one day at a time. I want so badly to love myself again, to give myself the grace and compassion I give to others - but a lifetime of self-loathing is not easily undone. Perhaps one small act of kindness to myself, when performed repeatedly, will become a habit of kindness. From that habit, perhaps I will learn to love myself, the way others seem to care for me. I think I have unsurprisingly held the expectation that losing this weight would be straightforward and easy. It has proven to be the exact opposite, but it is not impossible.

But tomorrow is the beginning. And it is indeed a good place to start.  


Saturday, April 30, 2016

I Love HIM More Than Chips

I'm not even sure how to explain what's been going on in my head and in my heart of late. Growing pains, I guess you could call them. But oh, my friends - how beautiful is the person I'm becoming!

A while back, I encountered God in the car park of an Aldi. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but bear with me. I had had A Day. The Mother of All Days. It was ugly, and I was going to the shop, with the intention of buying and purchasing potato chips, a chunk of Brie, a Coca-Cola, and I was going to sit in my car, and soothe myself back to happiness by consuming those things as fast as I could. Don't judge me. I know how dysfunctional it is. I know that for me, food has become medication. Well, in that car park, on my way into the shop, God says (not an audible voice, but the words were clear as anything) "You know, when you say "I can't help it, I need this", what you're really saying is  - "I don't trust You." I wish I could say that was the end of emotional and disordered eating for me, but the end of that story is unfolding before me now.

I am tired of fighting this thing, this twisted and sick addiction. I am tired of the guilt, and the shame, and the feeling so hateful toward myself. I am done. I surrender all of it to God, and because I am redeemed, I know that my story doesn't end with shame and guilt. Oh no. My story ends with joy unspeakable, with grace unimaginable, with victory unassailable. I can't even explain it, but my desire for all those foods which previously held me captive - it's just gone.  

Recently, I had a surgical procedure, and an enforced period of rest immediately following. For a busy mum accustomed to existing on protein bars and coffee, It was a challenge, but I am so glad for it. This forced 'down time' has been an opportunity for intense spiritual growth and development. My faith has been strengthened, and my tendency to allow my worth to be defined by things like the state of my house, the behaviour of my children, or the busyness of my schedule-- has been replaced. I know who I am , and it has nothing to do with any of those things.

I had the opportunity to watch the movie War Room. It's a movie about the power of prayer, plain and simple. I can't really explain it, but it shook me out of my comfy Christian existence, and awakened something inside me. I'm praying like I've never prayed before, I'm reading God's word like never before, and my brain is constantly engaged. I also started reading a couple of books, listening to a lot of sermons, and it's as though EVERY SINGLE ONE has something important to teach me.

We have made the decision to move back to New South Wales. Initially, I was not happy about this. I knew it was the right choice, and my doing it was never really in doubt. It was more that I wanted more than to just be obedient to God's call on my life. In this case, that was loving and supporting my husband by trusting him to make the right decisions for our family. I wanted to be JOYFULLY obedient.

Guess what. God did that, too.

Today was an amazing day. For the first time, I acknowledged that yes, I am sad about leaving my friends. And nothing can lessen that sadness. But I had this thought - if God can do for me, and for my family, in just twelve months all that he has done? How much more will he do as we move forward? I am ready to let go of all that I am holding onto so tightly, to open my hands, to open my life, and to follow him wherever he wants to go. And not just go there - but boldly. Confidently, because I know that this move has been carefully orchestrated, down to the tiniest of details.

So I have reached an understanding that while I love my family more than chips, I think the reason it's never worked because I wasn't loving God more than chips.

But I do now. And that, my dear friends, means I already have victory.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Time For Everything

In Ecclesiastes 3, I read that there is a time for everything.

The last decade of my life has been a time of poor nutrition (with a few brief moments of awesome nutrition here and there), a time of little to no exercise beyond surviving each day with small children (with a few brief periods of genuine exercise), a time of exhaustion, a time of pitiful immune function, a time of just trying to make it to the next day, with no hope of thriving in this crazy life I lead. This season has left me broken, weary, and ready to give up.

But. God says (through the author of this passage) that there is a time for everything - and I feel like the time for the previous season is ending. My youngest is starting kinder/preschool, and I can no longer deny that while my children still need me to keep them alive despite all their efforts to the contrary, they don't need me quite as intensively as they did as infants. The time has come for me to focus a bit more on my own physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

I tried when I turned 40, and then again after that, and again after that, but this time I'm doing things a bit differently. I'm not focusing so much on metrics. Not using a scale. Not keeping a food diary. I am using a couple of apps for exercise, a couch to 5K and a walking app (I want to keep a record of distance). I'm not 'going paleo', or anything else special. I'm simply aiming to make each day a little better than the one before it.

Since a major factor in this adventure will be organisation and planning, I'm also including each day one organisational thing. I thrive on order. My brain works better, which will serve me well if I am to be successful. The last two days I have:  completely organised and cleaned (except for the bits I can live with) the room where my desk is located and come up with a menu plan for next week.

My plan (which isn't really a plan, per se - I just don't know what else to call it) is to eat more vegetables and more protein, to mostly stop eating my emotions, to earnestly try to drink a reasonable amount of water, to exercise more. To stop treating my health and well-being as a luxury to be sacrificed on the altar of domesticity.

That's it. No numbers, no rules, just standing up and trying again. This time, with the knowledge that I am fearfully and wonderfully made - not to be sick and tired and crabby all the time, but to be vibrant, energetic, and a joyful servant to the One who made me.

See you on the road,