Friday, February 21, 2014

A Month of Marriage: Compliment Each Other

I have been married for 11 years, to the same man, and while times are not always perfect, we are still together and still in love. He is my best friend. That is the most important thing. I trust him. We communicate. We share.
Tip #4 Compliment Each Other

This doesn't mean you pick matching outfits or agree with everything he or she says. That would be complement.
Take a second to tell your partner what you like about them, what they did right, and to praise them. Think how much we all love hearing 'good job'. Here are a few ways to compliment your love:

  • Write love notes, 
  • Buy gifts for no reason, 
  • Pick a feature or trait and tell them how much you like it, 
  • Why did you marry that person? Maybe they need to hear it.
  • Cook their favorite meal
  • Watch their favorite movie together
These are beginning to sound like dates, aren't they? Well, they can be mini dates. If you can take small moments between the kids fighting or when you both happen to be in the same room to share a spoonful of ice cream, do it. 

And smile.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Month of Marriage: Date Night!

I have been married for 11 years, to the same man, and while times are not always perfect, we are still together and still in love. He is my best friend. That is the most important thing. I trust him. We communicate. We share. 
Tip #3
Keep dating!

Remember how much fun it used to be to go out, just the two of you.. Why did that stop?
Did life get in the way? Don't let the humdrum of every day spoil the fun of one night off! Make date night a priority. Plan it like you used to. Block off a space on your calendar just for the two of you. 

Maybe all you have time for is a drive into 'town' to get groceries. I don't know how many times my relationship was strengthened just by holding his hand across the seats while we drove. Talk to each other in the car. Since communication is Tip #1, here is a way to incorporate it! You are seatbelted in, you can't run, so tell him your feelings and thoughts. Tell her your dreams and plans for the future, near and far.

Half the fun of dating was sharing dreams for the future, wasn't it? Talk about house projects, where you'd like to see yourself at the end of the year, your fitness goals, your spiritual goals, or even what you would do if you won the lottery. It may open up a pathway towards compromise, understanding, forgiveness, renewed faith in your relationship, and hope.

If you have a regular date night, what do you do? If you don't, will you consider one?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Month of Marriage: Feelings Change

I have been married for 11 years, to the same man, and while times are not always perfect, we are still together and still in love. He is my best friend. That is the most important thing.
Feelings change, sometimes daily, so build your marriage on something stronger.

Before you even decide to marry, make sure you can be good friends, work together, and that when the chips are down, you can still forgive and love them. Realize that marriage is a commitment. 

If you think you can change someone, you can't. People are slow to change; slower to change than you think. 

If you think you can live with your partner's idiosyncrasies, then by all means, do, and live with them for the long haul. 

We humans are creatures of habit. That's why building a relationship, keeping it, and making new habits or traditions takes time. Marrying a person to change them rarely works. The perfect partner for you is not 'in there somewhere'.

What if YOU change? We all do. We all learn and grow and suddenly the things we thought we could tolerate are too much to bear. Or perhaps the things you thought would be intolerable aren't really that bad. Are you willing to compromise? Is there a small change you or your partner can make in a short time? Small changes are much easier than big ones.

As long as you have friendship at the heart of it, your marriage can weather the storms. I remember those first rocky years when we needed to adjust to each other's bathroom routines, entertainment requirements, work schedules, and stresses that go along with a new home and a new family. I said to him, "Honey, I love you, but I just don't like you right now."

You have to be willing to say that and to hear it. Your partner may not feel exactly the same way for you at that exact moment no matter how much you feel you two are 'in sync'. You have to trust that they will come around. Being friends means being willing and able to help your partner get to the same place emotionally. Maybe next time the tables will be turned and they will be the one not ready for your affection. Be willing to give them space and time and whatever they needs and don't overreact because you can't have what you need this very instant. Be willing to give them what they need, even if it counters with what you want in the moment. That is compromise, a delay in gratification. This is where being friends first, having that trust in your bond, will keep you glued together when times are rough and emotions are high.

You can always ask for what you need in return. Perhaps they were thinking you needed something far greater than what you really do and they felt stressed. Asking for what you need helps your partner understand your needs. This is communication. It opens up the floor for them to share what they need back to you.

It's never too late to be friends. Even if you built your marriage on the fast and the furious, heat, passion, and fleeting moments, you can still create a friendship. It's about being vulnerable, open, sharing, and listening. Really hear what your partner says. Put yourself in their shoes. Forgive, apologize, play nice.

It's not all happiness, but it can be mostly happiness. :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nutrition: Movie "Hungry for Change"

I watched a movie on Netflix called "Hungry for Change" that really made me think.

I had seen "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", which was mentioned in "Hungry for Change". In "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" a man goes on a juicing diet, after consulting with his doctor, and loses a lot of weight. He takes a journey across the United States to inspire people as he loses the weight.  He began to exercise, following his doctor's guidelines. He checked his own vitals and reported them back to his doctor. He helps several Americans along the way.

The movie "Hungry for Change" addresses diet, the food industry, and breaks down the basics of Nutrition and our bodies by speaking a variety of doctors and people who are in the best shape of their lives because of the truths they learned about food and the body.

After viewing, I felt like all my previous posts about Nutrition were written by a kid. Truth is, I'm just learning. I am like a kid in this respect. One of the women on the video was diagnosed with cancer at my age and she learned how to take back her life. She said she had to learn all the nutrition rules and start over as an adult.

Isn't that what we all want? A life where we feel great, look great, and can do whatever we dream?

Some things to understand:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup, white sugar, and white flour are all purified, extracted from their basic plant beginnings, and chemically so far removed from their plant basics, that your body can't process them correctly. Nearly everything in the store has high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, and white flour.
  • Your body is designed to store up fat for a time of famine. We were hunter/gatherers and we used to have to weather a 'winter' of lean times where food was scarce. We no longer have a time of famine. Our bodies store fat when we are stressed and when we overeat sugar to protect us from a future famine that will never come.
  • We need to exercise, get outside, and take time to release some tension.
  • Sleep is a great way to neutralize the cortisol in our bodies that builds up when under stress, making us fatter. 
  • We are addicted to sugar and MSG. It keeps us coming back to 'comfort foods'. MSG is the quickest way to get fat.

As I watched the video and absorbed the data presented, I kept asking, "So, what am I supposed to eat?" I thought of those internet scams where they show you a 7 minute marketing clip about what they want you to buy to unlock the secret to all your hopes and dreams, and leave you hanging with a huge price tag and a flashing red button.

But this movie delivered.

The answer to "So, what am I supposed to eat?" was fresh foods. 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Veggies first. the best way to get enough fruits and veggies is to juice them. You can take the juice with you to lunch at work and have all the nutrition you need.

Cilantro and Parsley will detoxify your body. So will chia seeds. These are not something I have tried. I don't know if I am ready to try them, or if I am ready to juice. It is something I will continue to think about.

The movie states that we are eating more calories and starving ourselves at the same time. We are not giving our bodies the vitamins and nutrients it needs, so it delivers food cravings to our brains, which we fill with foods still lacking in the nutrients and packed with hidden sugars. The cells go, "okay what do I do with this excess sugar? I'll make a fat cell and store it up, but I wish I had more vitamin D, or K, or C."

Do I take vitamins? Yes. Does that make 'expensive urine' as my hubby says? Yes. The vitamins my body doesn't need do get eliminated in waste. But I am insuring that my body gets as least some of all of the vitamins and minerals it does need. I feel better, more awake, more active, when I take them than when I forget. Plus, vitamins and minerals need to be taken in conjunction with each other to work properly.

The movie also provided a simple dieting solution. You don't have to go extreme and stop eating carbs and start a juicing diet. All you have to do is begin adding fresher foods to your current diet. Stop snacking on chips and grab some carrot sticks and hummus. Make a point to add in fish to dinner more often. Have a salad with lunch instead of a 100 calorie pack of cookies full of white flour and high fructose corn syrup. As you begin to feel better, you will want to keep choosing healthier things. You will try new healthier foods. You will naturally begin to rid yourself of the sugar addiction you are in.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Nutrition: Sweet Tooth

I have a terrible sweet tooth. I know it is my downfall. I love sweets, fruits, and most of the time I just don't feel my dinner is complete until I eat something sweet.

There are foods that are sweet and yet pack a healthy punch. I'm trying to utilize more of these and fewer less healthy ones.

It has taken time to adjust to not having chocolate at the end of the day, not even in fun size.

While unhealthy snacks are still treats on occasion, I am trying to eat them in considerable moderation. If I feel like ice cream, I get the '1/2 the fat' kind, and have one scoop with peaches to fill the rest of my bowl. I may divide cookies in half and share with others. I choose fun size candy over a full size bar. Again, this is sparingly.

Instead, I have found a few sweet, but healthy snacks.

  • Dried berries
  • Plain animal crackers
  • Fruit
  • Some granola bars, even with chocolate (I look for ones with a good amount of protein)
  • Hot cocoa
  • Fruit smoothie with low fat vanilla yogurt (I like to freeze it and eat it with a spoon, making scrapings) (what?) (Yeah, okay, it's a sensory thing.)
  • String cheese and frozen grapes
  • Yogurt and banana
  • Peanut butter and apples
  • Warm pear half and cinnamon 
Just watch your serving sizes.

This blog post from Daily Hiit on Ways to Crush Your Sweet Tooth is helpful. It highlights that many times when your body craves sugar, it is saying it needs energy or water.
Many times lack of protein in your diet can contribute to sugar cravings as the body looks for a quick energy source. Adding protein to every meal ensures that the body always has fuel to access and maintains a steady blood sugar level, preventing any spikes and crashes.

Steady blood sugar helps your moods, not just your cravings. Bonus!

Rule of thumb for snacks that keep you going and keep your metabolism up: 10g of protein and 5g of fiber.

Using MyFitnessPal is one way to keep track of your protein, calories, and sugar intake. It is not very accurate, but at least it is something to keep you thinking about what you put in your body. If you can journal, keep a dairy of your food, what time you ate it, what you crave and when, and how many calories, fat, protein, fiber, and sugars per serving. This is not something I have done. I like that MyFitnessPal will keep the data for me, even if it is not entirely accurate. Just thinking about it helps keep your diet goals in mind.

The easiest thing to do is to simply not buy the sweet snacks. If they aren't in your cupboards, you can't eat them. There will not be temptation. We give ourselves and the kids crackers, pretzels, animal crackers, fruits, string cheese, and peanut butter on whole wheat bread. I am in love with hummus and pita chips, in case I haven't mentioned that before. :) I switched to Kashi bars instead of Chewy bars. They cost more, but I am investing in my body.

I have been instilling that thought into my husband's brain.. that groceries may cost more, if they are better for us. Investing in ourselves is worth it!

33 more snack ideas (less healthy and more chocolatey than mine) Some other snacks under 50 calories if you like applesauce or jello

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Month of Marriage: Communication

I want to take this month to talk about marriage.

Each day I would like to share a marriage tip. I have been married for 11 years, to the same man, and while times are not always perfect, we are still together and still in love. He is my best friend. That is the most important thing. I trust him. We communicate. We share. This is the basis for my number one marriage tip.

Tip #1 Say the Words.

You cannot have trust if you do not get your real feelings out there and deal with them. The real feelings you choose to share don't have to be negative ones. Saying "I love you" instead of hoping he or she can see it in your shining eyes or in your daily good deeds will strengthen your relationship. 

Saying how you feel, using I-statements, when you do have to share negative emotions is the best way to share without making your partner defensive. ("I feel guilty when you point that out to me.") 

Forgiving each other, by working out your issues through communicating them and understanding your unique point of view, history/culture (where you are coming from), and emotions, goes a long way towards building trust. 

Being vulnerable and sharing parts of your life was the way you used to get closer back when you were dating, remember? Guess what? You still have to do these things!

Many times, in marriages, our conversations look like this:
There is sooo much I want to share with my husband, especially when it comes to venting about work, but he could care less. That's the truth. He doesn't 'get it', and equally, when he starts telling me all about some I.T. stuff, speaking in just as many acronyms as I have in Special Education, I tune him out. We are working on the relevance part, that shaded part in the middle. I am learning to hold back from every detail and give him a summary if I have to vent, or maybe a funny anecdote. He is also learning to do the same. 

We both have to take time to share our feelings as well. We still have to be vulnerable and give pieces of ourselves. While after 11 years, you'd think you'd know everything about a person by now, but there is always a deeper layer, a memory, an emotion they would never let show to anyone but you. It doesn't happen often, not as often as when we were dating, but occasionally we feel that deep connection again. We feel like we have been equally vulnerable and shared something deep. 

But daily communication doesn't have to be a revelation. It just has to be fair. That's what communication is all about. Getting to that place where you know you are both on the same happy page.