Sugar, layaway, and freedom as a kid

My mom did not drink Tab (that I can remember). Tab was too expensive. My mom drank Faygo. The cheap woman’s soda. A bottle was about 10 cents. She could purchase more bottles if she purchased Faygo. Besides, it was basically carbonated sugar-water of sorts. With such high amounts of sugar, why would it matter what it tasted like? As someone who no longer drinks soda, I can only imagine what my future kids will think of me. Hardcore? Mean? Boring? I will not let them drink that syrupy substance that has so much sugar they will bounce off the walls. Hell no. I have gone from being a child who hated her vegetables, to being a hardcore vegetable addict. Not only for the taste, but for the nutrition. Probably more for the nutrition and what that means for my health and energy.

I think we had Kool-Aid, but from what I can remember, it was “fake.” Some other knockoff brand. From what I can remember it still tasted fine. Again, it was just drinking sugar-water. Along with those frozen Fla-Vor-Ice quasi popsicles. They were basically sugar-water. No wonder we loved them. Sugar was few and far between in our house!

I really doubt my mom worried too much about us. She was too busy (when I was really young — before she got sick) trying to make sure we were fed, and that she made it to one of her many jobs on time. If she was not working, she was planning many months in advance how to get us Christmas presents via the longest ever layaway plan. This was before credit cards were so common and that is how you eventually owned products. She was the queen of figuring that out. Going each week to a list of grocery stores to get the best deal, and to a few other stores (such as Target) to pay that week’s installment of layaway. Her Friday nights were a scavenger hunt of sorts from store to store in order to get the best sales and purchase price. Sometimes she had us in tow. It was exhausting. These days we go to different stores not for the deals, but because of the assortment. You know those items that you can only get at Trader Joe’s!

In the summer she spent her spare moments not figuring out her layaway plans, but taking care of our vegetable and flower gardens. While I will never know, I think it was her favorite time of year. She was working with her hands, out in the sun, and most likely it was therapeutic for her. Any of her other waking hours were spent helping us with homework, and giving whatever time was left to her church. Thus why this line resonated with me from this Today.com Parenting blog:

“She said get the hell outside, and we did. We made up games and rode our bikes and choreographed dance routines and drank out of the hose when we got thirsty. I swear, my mom did not know where we actually were half the time.”

We did just the same. I do not remember telling her where I was going or what I was doing. I never really got into too much trouble. I was either on my paper route, riding around, at a friend’s or neighbor’s house, or snuggled somewhere with a book. Harmless. Today I bet life and freedom is not so easy to come by. Thank you, Mom, for the freedom.

Exercise, Veggies, and Writing

Three things that are constants in my life on an almost daily basis are: exercise, vegetables, and writing. An odd amalgamation of things, but all critical for a bit of balance and inspiration in my life. You might wonder how these three have anything remotely in common. Their only commonality is that they ground me. On the days when I have the opportunity to run, eat a good amount of vegetables, and take the time to write, life just feels better. It may not mean that I have had an amazing day. Lots of shit could have happened, but these three stable aspects of my life help me to get through the shitty days and make the good days even better. Call me crazy, but it is true.

The ironic thing is that all three require discipline and none of them happened for me overnight. Consistent exercise was a gradual habit that happened over many years. My craving to run each day is the euphoria of pushing myself to the limits, having an hour that is just for myself, and the feeling at the end of a run when I am dripping in sweat and knowing I got through it. There is nothing else in my life that gives me that feeling and my day does not feel complete without my run.

How I feel when I run matters and, often, I can tell that if I feel horrible while running it has to do with some crap I ate earlier in the day. I am usually an evening/after work runner, so what I had for lunch and any snacks or junk food I ingest during the day matters. Which is why I have become a fanatic of eating vegetables. I have them in my green smoothie in the morning (usually spinach, kale, carrots), a salad for lunch, then for dinner, a vegetable, protein, and brown rice. Some sort of yummy concoction, but there is always a vegetable go with it. How far I have come from trying to get away with no vegetables as a kid and little to none in high school and college. Why have I become such an addict? I can now tell the difference in my body when I do not have these natural nutrients. More sugar + less vegetables and my body shuts down earlier in the day. More sugar = more exhausted. Since I know this about myself I do all I can to eat my veggies.

Writing. The final aspect to balance in my life. I write five blog posts each week and used to write in a journal too. My journal writing has waned in the past few months. It felt like work and I was not inspired to do it so I stopped. I know I will pick it up again, as that has been the ebb and flow of my life. There have been times when I needed to write, and write, and write to figure out my thoughts and unravel my world. Writing random olio keeps my mind open and aware. When you know that you are going to write a blog five days in a row you look at the world differently. It makes me more creative, have more wonder, and investigate the world.

What is not to love about my three life disciplines? A random olio of balance that is the core of who I am today.

Do what is hard.

Success comes from doing what is hard. This recent Seth Godin blog inspired me. My analogy to this idea is eating your vegetables. Eat your vegetables first and then you can have dessert. Do the hard stuff first, and the rest of it feels easy, a piece of cake. First we have to get through the forest, the battle, the tough moments. Once we have made it through those moments we can rest, celebrate, and eat our cake.

Here is an excerpt of Seth’s blog:

You will care more about the things that aren’t working yet, you’ll push through the dip, you’ll expend effort and expose yourself to fear.

When you have a lot of balls in the air, it’s easy to just ignore the ones that make you uncomfortable or that might fall.

Success comes from doing the hard part. When the hard part is all you’ve got, you’re more likely to do it.

And this is precisely why it’s difficult to focus. Because focusing means acknowledging that you just signed up for the hard part.

It means that you do not eat your dessert first. You eat the yucky parts. The ones that keep you strong, full of fiber, but sometimes taste the nastiest. It is easy to ignore the lima beans and/or peas, and eat the tacos on your plate, but the healthy alternative does not always taste the best. It might even be worth a detox so all you eat are the lima beans, peas, and brussels sprouts, aka the hard stuff. These are the foods that make me wince, they gross me out (brussels sprouts are like little mini cabbages). Not fun at all. They are foods that make me uncomfortable and squeamish. They might be easy foods for others. The hard part is different for everyone. Note: I never knew it was brussels sprouts (brussels with an “s”, I always thought it was brussel sprouts).

Are you double fisting the sugar? Or like I do, do you double fist the fries? Start with what is hard. Fight for it, live it, and then put up your feet and relax, and have some cake.

Start the day off right…

I have to start my day off right. It always begins with a green smoothie, water, and tea or coffee all before lunch. Those three things make all the difference in my day. For lunch I usually have a raw salad, and sometimes the additional protein on top. In the afternoon, if I am good I will have a clementine or some cashews. All of this is with the intent of consuming only raw foods before dinner. Why does this matter to me?

Over the past few years I have read so many books on health, eating, and fitness. What I have learned and what I have in turn become passionate about is making sure the food I ingest is full of nutrients and vitamins. Imagine if you put fake gas in your car? Would it take you very far? No. It might sputter along for a while only to shut down later, sometimes with damage done to the car. I believe we need to put the right fuel into our bodies on a daily basis. What is the right fuel? To me it is fruits and vegetables, nutrients that are grown by the sun. What is not great fuel? Pop tarts, and other foods that are filled full of preservatives and other crap. Basically any foods that require your body to use more energy to break down the food into usable fuel. Fruits and vegetables require less energy for your body to break the food down and use as fuel.

Green smoothie is an excellent example of fuel for your body. Yes, you probably think that I am a broken record on this topic, but it is true. The blender (my Vita-Mix of course, but any blender will do just fine) will break down the veggies and fruit, so that when your body consumes the nutrients it does not have to work so hard to process and use as fuel. If you were going to eat and chew all the fruits and vegetables in the smoothie, it would a) take too long to eat it all, but b) also take a long time for your body to break down the food and turn it into nutrients. The result: less energy wasted by your body = more energy = happier me!

Do I veer off course? Of course! If you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll see that I love me some chocolate chip vanilla pudding cookies, homemade english muffins, and pretzel rolls, to name just a few. It is always great to pamper yourself with yummy foods, as long as they are in moderation. Usually my rule of thumb is how many fruits and vegetables did I consume that day? Did I stick to my normal raw before 5 pm? Did I have a work lunch were I veered off course? Did I go out to dinner? If so, I might not indulge in breads or sweets. Did I work out today? Did I gorge on something excessive? Did I give my body fuel today? It is a challenge of balance.

What do you do to start the day out right?

Naked Juice + Pound of Fruit = Fed Family

I grew up hating vegetables. It was not until at least the age of 25 when I started to eat them, and now I crave them. For the most part eating vegetables in my youth sucked. They were either frozen or canned, and many times microwaved or overcooked. All around gross. Now I am passionate about promoting vegetables. When I hear that parents have a hard getting their kids to eat their veggies, I think two things. That will change as they get older, and there are now creative ways they can get their kids to eat amazing green, leafy veggies.

Whenever I travel and have little to no access to vegetables, I defer to bottled green juices. There are many brands I have tried, but my favorites are Odwalla, Naked, and a few local brands. When I found out about Naked Juices campaign to help families receive fresh produce I thought – brilliant! Naked Juice states that there is an entire pound of fruit in every bottle of Naked Juice. Their green juice version has veggies too.

They have teamed up with Wholesome Wave, a non-profit that helps provide underserved communities with local produce. You can download a coupon from the Naked Juice website, that gives you $1 off any 15.2 ounce of Naked Juice. For every coupon downloaded from their website, they will donated one pound of produce to families in need. It is definitely a clever marketing campaign. It means more Naked Juice customers, which means more knowledge about their brand. It allows their consumer to be their customer evangelists, and families receive fresh produce. A win-win situation.

You can find out more details by going to the “Good Deeds” page on their website. You will want to be sure to watch the slide show. Naked Juice has started their campaign by donating 50,000 pounds of fruits and veggies.

If you crave kale, spinach, banana, and other nutrient rich foods, download a coupon, pick up a bottle of Naked Juice, and know you have helped to provide necessary foods for a family.

#winwin