Trying Something New

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I have really struggled, like any pregnant woman, with having enough energy to keep up with every day life.  It would feel like, once I start feeling good and getting energy, I would get sick, or something would happen to prevent me from maximizing on this.  I have been very baffled about it.

Over the Christmas and New Year holiday, my household fell ill with the horrible flu that has been circulating and some crazy virus of a cold.  That cold would not let up.  The sore throat on its own felt like strep throat.  It was exhausting.  So exhausting that for about a week, I hardly got out of bed.  The kids didn’t either.  It was rough.  Well, we are finally all feeling better.  I think the virus has made its run, and we are hopefully done with sickness for a while…but my energy levels have not recovered yet.  We have so much to do to prepare for the baby, get organized for our upcoming move, AND chores to get caught up on from the month of being down.  So, without returning energy, I would find myself practically falling asleep only hours after waking up.  Little Cowboy was suffering with the same thing as well, so I’m thinking it was still a part of the virus holding on.  Day after day, my to do list got a little bit more dusty.

So what do you do when things aren’t going like you would prefer?  Well, I don’t know what you do, but I pray about it.  I’ve been praying about my energy levels returning for some time now, and I feel like maybe I got my answer this morning.

The baby has been waking up consistently around 5:30 am, just before Hoss’s alarm goes off for him to get up and get ready for work.  She was hiccupping this morning, so the rolling and turning in my belly started.  Usually, I have no problem going back to sleep, even with all of the movement, but this morning, I just couldn’t fall back to sleep.  Hoss even asked me if everything was alright.  Lol… that is how awake I was.

So he got up and was out eating breakfast.  I checked my email on my phone, and the thought came to me, “Maybe if I get up now, instead of staying in bed this morning, and eat breakfast early on, you will have more energy to get more done today.”  Huh!  Novel idea!  So, I got up.  Hoss and I had some time to ourselves before he left, and so far… I feel pretty decent.

We’ll see how the rest of the day goes.  Maybe shaking up the schedule will be the trick to me feeling more energetic and productive throughout the day.

Stay tuned.

Why This Vegan is on Extended “Vacation”

It’s funny how life can change in the blink of an eye.  Seriously.  I get things figured out, and the next thing I know it, I’m taking a dip down the roller coaster so fast, I can hardly keep my head.

I was on my long term health plan and feeling good about it.  I was enjoying it and learning so much… then one day, things changed.  I didn’t think they would, but they did.

I found out I was…am pregnant.  I decided right when I found out that I was going to plug along at my vegan diet throughout the pregnancy.  Many people gave me an ‘eyebrow raised’ kind of look at the mention of that…but it would have been just fine to continue.  For the first few months, I tried my best.  The irony was, I just wasn’t feeling good.  After a while, the ginormous salads, platters of fruit, and smoothies were making me nauseous.  Seriously.  I finally got to the point, where if I drank a smoothie, it would wind up down the toilet (I still cannot drink a smoothie and keep it down–my body wants substance in my stomach).

That makes a problem, when you’re trying to grow a baby.  *Did I mention that I had accepted that I might not have any more children?  It’s funny, when I move on emotionally from the stress of the desire to have more children, with the lack of it happening, I tend to get preggers.*

I digress.  Although, I am extremely excited about this little miracle baby!

So, not being able to eat the food I’m supposed to eat.  Not only was I not able to eat all the fruits, veggies, beans and such, I wasn’t, and I’m still not, craving any foods whatsoever.  In fact, most mention of food makes me feel repulsed.  However, when we were out of town, we went out to eat, and while my husband sat there eating a steak and potatoes, I began to get that familiar ‘that sounds good’ feeling in my stomach.

So, I asked for a bite.

Gasp!  I would get chewed out by half of the vegan community, no probably the whole vegan community!  I know!

After that, I got my own steak, and I had my own mashed potatoes with all the butter, milk, and sour cream in them that it came with.  I felt guilty about that for a while…like I was giving up, right after just getting into the routine of the health plan.  I beat myself up a bit about it.

What convinced me?  Day after day, month after month, I just tried to even eat a vegetarian diet.  I would eat eggs, and after a few days of eggs, I’d throw up, and eggs would be off the list.  It went like this, with every. Single. Thing. I ate.  But what sounded good?  That red meat and potatoes.

So I tossed aside my guilt and ate what made me feel better.  If you’ve ever experienced morning sickness, you get it…but add in, not wanting food (period).  That’s an interesting pregnancy.

I’ve asked myself what my plans are for after I have the baby.  I can honestly say I don’t know, but my history, with the PCOS, tells me that staying on the omnivore diet while breast feeding might not be the best idea as my hormones tend to make me gain weight instead of lose it, like most women do.  I think I’ll start out vegetarian with occasional meat, and go from there.

Ultimately, there is no doubt in my mind that the vegan diet with all the juices and smoothies and other earthy goodness is what my body needs to continue to heal, but right now, my body needs a vaca so it can create a healthy human.  Not to say that the baby wouldn’t be healthy on a vegan diet.  I’ve known of many women who stayed vegan during pregnancy with zero ill effects.  But for me, it just isn’t happening.

Oh, and I am currently 26 weeks pregnant (That’s 6 1/2 months pregnant).  I’m due April 3rd of 2015!

Summer: It’s Almost Over

This summer, summer of 2014 has been THE busiest I think I have ever experienced. Summers in Hobbs, New Mexico are busy in and of themselves, but this year, I added in a few things. Here’s how it has gone.

At the end of April, I was contacted by our Stake Young Women’s President.  She’s a bosom buddy of mine.  I thought it was just a friendly text, but it turned out to be a calling.  She wanted me to be the level leader for the 2nd year girls at girls camp.  What it entailed was in me getting together with the Hobbs YCL’s aka older girls, to plan the certifications for the 2nd year girls.  It took me so long to get a grasp of what I was to be doing.  I haven’t been to girls camp in around 15 years or so.

To start off the summer.  Hobbs offers a ton of classes for children during the summer.  I’m talking art, sports, swimming, sports, sports, educational classes up at the JC, and sports.  It is easy to sign up for a ton of stuff.  While some had a cost, there were plenty that are free.  This summer, the girls signed up for swimming lessons, golf and volleyball.  Swimming was for 2 weeks, Monday through Friday, golf was every week day for 6 or 7 weeks (last Thursday the 24th was the last day), and volleyball was twice a week for the same duration.  On top of that, I signed up to play on a co-ed volleyball league.  Luckily, unlike last year, we only had one night a week that we played.  But I felt like the entire first part of the month had me going from one thing to the next.  I was exhausted before I even got to camp!

Camp was at the end of June.  I had everything all planned out.  Maybe I’ll share my ideas with ya’ll in another post!  Say please!  Hehehe….  Camp was an amazing experience.  I enjoyed myself immensely.  The two other leaders I shared a tent with apparently claim that we had a snoring trio going on.  Lol, the 2nd night, I was too out of it to have heard.  Earlier that day, I had to accompany the 2nd year girls on a 5 mile hike.  After that, I was exhausted!

Here’s the kicker.  We had a vacation to Nauvoo, IL planned already.  It just so happens that I would be done the day before we would pull out on vacation.  Phew!  That was a busy week!  We left Saturday morning around 8 am Texas/Illinois time.  We arrived Sunday morning at about 4:30 am.  We really underestimated the length of that trip.  But we made it and went to church at 8 am that morning.  Afterward, we slept for about 3 hours before we decided to go and visit Carthage, IL and the jail in which Joseph Smith was martyred.

Did I mention that my mom and dad are on a mission in Nauvoo?  So they allowed us to stay with them in their tiny home, the William Gheen home.  I am very grateful for the hospitality.  We really enjoyed our stay there.  We were there for nearly an entire week!  We saw as much as we could see, and we loved every second of it.  That too, needs its own post.  We took some amazing pictures to share.

We left Friday morning for home, which happened to be Independence Day!  We traveled to a few more LDS Church Historical sites.  We visited Adam-Ondi-Ohman and Liberty Jail on our way home.  We stayed in Wichita, Kansas, then made our way home by Saturday evening the 5th.

On the 6th of July, I had to give a lesson in Sunday School.  I had a lot of time on the road to read and prepare for it.  So aside from being tired, I was ready.

So along with all of these things that I had to do and places I had to go, I also needed to work on organization, laundry (we are sorting out the “too smalls” and “not warns”), and planning the next homeschool year… among everything else that constantly gets dirty.  Then on top of that a friend roped me into starting up a homeschool co-op!  I wanted to do it last year, but was met with zero interest from other people.  A co-op means that everyone who participates pitches in to do their fair share of the work.  This will be the 2nd co-op that I run here in Hobbs.  The other is Bountiful Baskets, a produce and food co-op.  So, the week after I got back from vacation, I had a meeting planned with my friend who encouraged me to get it going.  We planned everything down to the code of conduct/participation agreement.  Then one week later, we met with the other interested ladies to finalize some details.  Now, NEXT week, we will be meeting again to plan for the first semester!  Whew!  And I thought things would slow down in July!

Did I mention that I am also on the Enrichment Board in Relief Society?  We had a Super Saturday planned for last week, the 19th.  I was in charge of teaching two Christmas crafts.  So, right after my meeting, I had to finalize those details and purchase the supplies and practice making them….AND then I had to go get groceries and help set up for Super Saturday, then there was a baby shower after the setting up.  After that I went on a date with Hoss, woke up and went to the church to participate in the activities and teach my classes.  Then there was a baby shower after that that I could not get to!  I ran out of breath typing this, because this is how I felt.  Most of this happened within a 3 day span.  Then the next day I had another lesson to teach in church.

I was supposed to relax that next week, but I was cornered by a sister in the ward who has been filling in for another sister in the ward whose baby is having health issues, that is the primary chorister.  The substitute had to leave town that weekend and asked if I would fill in.  Oh boy!  I had never done that before.  Now, I have another lesson to plan for this week!  Then July is over!  Then August starts up, and school shortly afterward!

I guess my relaxation for the summer isn’t going to happen!  Its been hoppin’ and goin’.  But overall, I think the kids have had a really grand time!…and so have I when it comes down to it!

In the in betweens, we have been able to go swimming for free!  Two of the pools here in Hobbs are free, which is fun and a nice option for us during these hot days!

I think I am ready for the school year to start.  Maybe then I can get some relaxation in….. Ah, who am I kidding!

Diet: Its a Lifestyle Not a Fad

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I have been thinking a lot about this one particular topic.  My diet.  I have been researching the diet and learning as much as I can about how to eat successfully on the diet.  Now, when I say diet, I am using that word very loosely.  I’m not referring to a fad thing, or a temporary means to lose weight.  I’m talking about an entire lifestyle change for the long haul.  I’m talking totally rewiring my brain by educating myself on what is really healthy for my body.

Vegan.  Oh yes.  I said it.  I used to make fun of vegans.  I used to think, “Why would someone not want to eat meat?”  Well, I’ve changed.  It is interesting to me, that many things that I was very dead set against doing in the past has become my future.  ie home educating my kids, and now cutting animal products out of my diet.

There are two components that I want to address.

1. Ethical reasons

2. Health reasons

Ethical:

I get it, God gave us animals for our use.  I am very grateful for that.  However, I do not believe He intended them to be slaughtered en mass as they are now.  I think our society has begun to grossly over-eat and over-indulge in meat, because it is there.  I am not totally against it though.  This is where I differ from “Vegans,” and where I like to draw the line.  I do not refer to myself as Vegan, but merely eating a vegan diet.  I don’t like how many vegans have allowed that one word to define themselves.  They aren’t bad people, but I think, in the name of saving the animals and the planet, they have gone a little far.  But that is the humanist type of thinking.  I am not that.  So, take this for what you want to take it as.  I would eat meat if I didn’t have anything else to eat.  I one day plan to have a self sustaining farm, where I would love to benefit from organic chicken eggs and even raw milk of a cow.  But until then…

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a health code called the Word of Wisdom.  This is basically things that we should refrain from and the things that we should consume in order to be healthy.  We believe that we are closer to the Holy Ghost, and therefore God when we allow our bodies to be clean and healthy.  We refrain from tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive and harmful substances.  Essentially, all things in moderation are good.  When something is in excess, that is not good.  I have learned, that for me, a harmful and addictive substance is soda…especially caffeine loaded sodas.  I have also come to the conclusion that meats, dairies, and other animal products (except for honey) are not good for my body.  You can find this health code here: Doctrine and Covenants 89.  I want to draw attention to the verse 13 in this section that addresses the use of meat.  It states, “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”  Now, there are many who will argue that in other scriptures, God specifically says that he is unhappy when we don’t use them.  This is where you have to pray for yourself and determine what it is you are willing to give up, and what you believe to be right.  I found a fantastic article on this topic that really drove the nail home for me.  You can read it here.  Past prophet and leader of the LDS Church, Lorenzo Snow said, “Unless famine or extreme cold is upon us we should refrain from the use of meat.”  There are many other quotes by apostles of the Lord and prophets in these latter days.

I’ll let you make up your own mind as to what you believe to be right.  The wonderful thing that we have is our free agency to decide those things for ourselves.  So, yes, for me eating a vegan diet is somewhat ethical, but more of a spiritual decision about what I believe to be right in the sight of my Father in Heaven.  I don’t think He eats meat.  Do you?

Health:

Which brings me to my main reason to choosing the vegan diet.  I have eaten a raw vegan diet before, last summer, and I felt amazing.  I had so much energy.  I lost a lot of weight.  My skin cleared up.  I was producing less skin oils, and most all of my PCOS symptoms started to let up.  But sadly, we couldn’t afford it like I needed it then, and well, I quit.  I slowly started eating all of those processed foods and drinks that I had liberated my body from, and that weight came right back.  So, I have done it before, and I had amazing results.

So one year later, with answers in my hand, concerning my health issues, I know what works for my body.  That makes it easier to take that step and cut out animal products.  I’m not perfect, but I’m being successful, because I understand what is at stake.  I want to be healthy, and I want to have more children.  In order for me to do that, I must take control and give my body what it needs to heal.  I love it, and there are so many options to getting new and unique recipes…or even copycat recipes of classic recipes that I ate before switching my diet…like pizza, pasta, Mexican foods, Chinese and other Asian foods just to name a few.

There is still the issue of how much it costs to eat a vegan diet, because let’s face it.  You have to eat a lot in order to get enough calories.  Last year when I was eating the vegan diet, I was working to bring a produce co-op to Hobbs, NM.  I trained and did everything that I was supposed to in order to get Bountiful Baskets to come here.  It took SIX months for it to start up, but it is finally going, and that saves me SO much money!  This has been a huge blessing and has cut my produce budget in half, if not more!  So, I took it in my own hands to make this diet possible for myself, and through answered prayers, it came to be!  Prayer is powerful!

I am NOT a Vegan.  I do not like the humanistic side of that label.  However, I do recognize the benefits of the health aspects.  So I will gladly eat vegan foods.  It is going to be a difficult journey.  It already has been, and I have been official for about 2 1/2 weeks now.

The vegan diets that I am leaning toward is 80/10/10 fully raw, and even more so Raw Until Four, because I like the idea of still having cooked foods.

Strive to Be

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Girl’s night out. Silly silly girlies!

If you haven’t noticed, I changed the name of my blog, and the subtitle.  I struggle to name things sometimes.  I can write a novel, and make up elaborate stories, but naming them, or anything can stump me.  But after my last post, I decided that I needed to change it.  Striving.  It just felt like it fit me better.  I wish I could claim that I was already a super mom, wonder woman wife, merry maid homemaker, world class chef, scriptorian, tenured world class professor of Curtis Academy, nutritional expert, artist, athlete,….. and the list goes on.  I wish. Alas, this life is here for me to learn how to be all of this.  Little. By. Little.  I’ve tried doing it all at once, but it just doesn’t happen.  Small and simple steps make the most progress I’m learning.  So Striving fits the name of my blog, because I am doing just that.  I am sometimes barely making it along, but I’m trying.  I’m working, I’m learning, and I’m dealing with life as it comes at me.  That’s all I can do!

 

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Warning: Challenges ahead

This year has brought me some interesting challenges to my life.  More than likely life long challenges.  Knowing the name of these challenges though, gives me that Oh, that makes sense kind of thought.  All at the same time, giving me that, Ugh, I really have to do something about this type of feeling.

I’ve debated coming right out with it, mostly because it feels like a private matter.  But what if there is someone out there struggling with this same thing, and I could somehow help, by helping them feel included  not so alone?

Two weeks ago, today, after blood tests to eliminate other illnesses, and an ultrasound to confirm the most likely, I was diagnosed told that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  “Diagnosed” is such a loaded word.  It’s so final, like I’m terminal.  At least that is how it makes me feel.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a disease of the endocrine system.  The symptoms include cysts on the ovaries, among many other symptoms and possible issues from severe hormone imbalance to the possibility to cancer in the future (if not treated).  Most women with PCOS are over-weight to obese due to these lovely imbalanced hormones, but not only that, PCOS makes it harder for a woman to lose weight.  Some women are under weight and have a difficult time gaining to a healthy weight.  But most all of these women suffer from infertility and irregular menstrual cycles.  Like I said, it explains a lot.  For a full list of symptoms go here.  For a full list of complications if left untreated, go here.

Treatment:

Everything Most information I read about PCOS states that it cannot be cured or healed.  It is just something I’m going to have to deal with for my entire life.  However, I have scoured the intenet for information on PCOS, and while there is still so much more to learn about it, I have found at least 2 cases where the woman shows no signs or symptoms of the condition, along with being able to have children after “healing” her body naturally.  They achieved this by getting to a healthy body weight naturally through diet and exercise.  A very clean diet I might add, eliminating all animal products and processed foods from their diets.  Other than that, I have not heard of a cure.

It isn’t or wasn’t a surprise for me that the doctor immediately wanted to get me on medication.  One of those medications was much needed to help regulate my cycles.  I accepted that, and will be on that medication for a few more months.  But what didn’t sit well with me, was that the ONLY treatment option that my doctor came up for me, was to put me on another medication, one without a sign of ever getting off of it.  I’m not against medication when it is really needed, but I personally believe that a long-term prescription to any medication is really just treating the symptom and not root cause, and ultimately keeping the person sick.  So, that is a last resort for me.  When I told her that I wanted to treat my PCOS naturally, she blinked at me, fumbled around mentally and said, “Okay, cut back on starches and dairy….but eat yogurt.”  That. Was. It.  What kind of wellness plan is that?

Disappointing.

One thing going for me is the education on health that I have gained over the last handful of years about diet and exercise.  I have learned a lot about what works for my body, and I have come to the conclusion that I CAN heal this condition through a careful change in my lifestyle.  These changes won’t be easy.  I’ve found great success when I have done these changes for a few months, but it is hard to maintain, because it costs more money, and takes more effort and time.  Heh.  There is a naturopathic doctor that I plan on seeing, but our insurance doesn’t cover it, so I want to save up for it.  In the meantime, I’m coming up with my own plan.

I am arming myself with education on nutrition.  Real nutrition.  Not the idea of nutrition taught in schools, or what people generally assume to be nutrition.  I’m digging deep into what we eat today on average, compared to what was eaten 100 years ago.  I have a handful of books on my reading list to get me started with a plan.

I have a diet and progress tracking journal that I have started, and I love it.  Its and ARC notebook from Staples.
It is totally awesome.

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A picture of me on front showing when I was much healthier for positive focus. I plan on adding more pictures.

In this journal, I am planning meals, journaling about my day, week, month…about things that I try out that fail, or things that work.

My calender tracking my goals, a week long menu, and my journal of my progress.

My calender tracking my goals, a week long menu, and my journal of my progress.

I’m even writing down the things that keep me from succeeding.  There are many things I am finding that happen that have me reverting back to old habits.  These I track in order to learn how to see them coming and prevent and prepare for them.  I am also making monthly goals that I am writing down and tracking on a calender in my journal.  So far, it is working wonderfully for me.  I look forward to learning more about myself through this journey!

My attitude is as such, that I am ready to make the life changes that I need to in order to provide my body with the healing tools that it needs.

MY CURRENT READING LIST
Original Fast Foods by James and Colleen Simmons (currently reading)

See also website

Eat to Live by Joel Fhrman, M.D.

The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas N. Graham

MY HEALTH DOCUMENTARY LIST
Hungry for Change
Food Matters
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Food Inc.

Recipe: Vegetarian Stir Fry with Bulkogi Sauce

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I used a lot of vegetables here.  So I doubled the sauce.  My best advice is to just kind of go with it.  If you feel like you need more sauce, then make more.  🙂  I am more of a cowboy style cook.  I just put things together most of the time, making new variations to recipes that I used to follow.

Ingredients

Any and all vegetables that you want to stir fry
I use:
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Peanut Oil
Onion
Garlic
Carrots
Broccoli
Zucchini
Various bell peppers (red, orange, green)
Baby Bok Choy
Cabbage
Mushrooms
Rice wine vinegar
Asian noodles of your liking

Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauce
1/4 soy sauce
1-2 cups fruit nectar

Directions:
Cut up your veggies the way you like them, then heat your wok or saute pan to medium high heat.  Let get really hot.  Pour the nectar over the veggies to let them soak while the pan is heating up.  Once it is ready, add the oils to the pan and let the oils heat nicely.  Swirl or spread to cover the entire pan, then add your vegetables.  I add everything except the bok choy and the cabbage and stir fry them.  While that is cooking, boil the water and cook your noodles.  Strain and rinse with cold water.   After the vegetables have broken down, splash some rice wine vinegar over them, and stir well (I eyeball about 2 TBS depending on how many veggies I am cooking).  Once the vegetables  are close to done, add the bok choy and the cabbage and stir fry those for a few minutes.  Then add the sauce and continue to cook until it has the desired consistency of “done-ness.”  Stir in the noodles and let heat, then serve with steamed rice or alone.  I love to eat kimchi with this and make lettuce wraps.

This recipe can be modified to include meat.  Just marinade the meat with the sauce (the longer the better), and stir fry the meat until fully cooked first.  Then start the process of cooking the vegetables, adding the cooked meat at the end.  If you are using the sauce that you marinaded the meat in , you will need to ensure enough cooking time to ensure there are no raw juices left.

 

This recipe has been a huge family favorite for many years now.  We love Korean cuisine, and while it isn’t completely authentic, it is still pretty good!