Getting Kids To Eat Their Veggies

It’s Tuesday evening, 7:30 p.m. My husband is arriving home with kids in tow after finishing 3 hours of soccer and baseball practice. Our cars meet at the driveway as I pull in from a late night at work. The kids are hungry, dirty, and full of energy. All we have to do is feed them, bathe them, and put them to bed by their 8pm bedtime. Ain’t … gonna … happen.

To make matters worse, no food has been cooked at our house. Neither of us planned to get home so late. A last minute issue popped up at work for me so Orlando was left alone with the three kids. Practice went over the usual hour, and my son wanted to keep playing. Being that he was with his dad—and not his mom—dad spent an extra hour helping our son work on his swing.

No one home …

No food …

No plan …

No crockpot …

Nada. 

I open the freezer, see a big bag of frozen broccoli, and think, “hmmm, I should make pasta with broccoli sauce.” A quick Google search turns up a recipe that I kind of follow but I don’t have the time or the ingredients to do it right. I put the kids in the bath while the pasta boils. I don’t know who dressed them after their bath—maybe my husband, maybe themselves, maybe me—but at some point they are in pajamas and sitting at the dinner table.

I grab a bag of broccoli, dump it in a bowl with a little bit of water and steam it in the microwave. Then I pour the broccoli into my Blendtec and I add a cup of coconut almond milk, salt, and nutritional yeast. I don’t measure anything. I press the “soup” button on the blender and let it do all the work. I sprinkle in some more nutritional yeast and salt until I like the flavor. And that’s it. My pasta sauce is ready.

My expectations that the kids will eat this concoction are pretty low, but much to my surprise, they actually like it. I am thrilled. I’ve managed to feed them, bathe them, brush their teeth and put them to bed—and its only 9:30pm. Ok, it’s an hour and a half past their bedtime, but who’s counting?

 

Some of you may look at my broccoli pasta sauce and say something like, “oh, she’s so lucky her kids eat like that.” But this is not luck.” I used to think I was lucky because my first two kids were good eaters. Granted, there were nights when my oldest son did not want to eat and there were foods he did not like, but for the most part, eating was not the stressful scenario that I had heard other moms had with their kids. And then my third son was born. This is the kid who I had the healthiest of pregnancies with. I didn’t eat anything unhealthy during my pregnancy. I was told that the child likes whatever the mother feeds it in the womb, so I ate tons and tons of veggies. So isn’t he supposed to like vegetables? The answer is an unequivocal NO. I didn’t feed this child rice cereal as his first food; I fed him avocados. Isn’t he supposed to love avocado? Nope. The kid does not love avocados. The child loves sugar. He loves sweets. He loves candy. He looks at my vegetables and decides at first glance that he detests them. He sees Cheetos and doesn’t think twice; he loves them, and so do his brothers. And in the process of dealing with Mr. Picky #3, #2 got the memo and suddenly decided that he doesn’t like vegetables or salads, either.  To make matters more complicated, both kids #1 and #2 had friends at school call their lunch “yucky.” Now all three of them resist healthy food. They prefer the junk—all of them. So the fact that they are eating this pasta with broccoli sauce is not luck. It’s a small victory in a war where I lose many battles.

On many evenings I make beautiful meals that I am proud of, and my kids poo-poo them. My third child has gone to bed without eating dinner. He’s tried my food and spit it out. I’ve threatened to put him to sleep if he doesn’t eat. I have put him to sleep when he doesn’t eat. I’ve negotiated one more bite, two more bites. I’ve added banana to the meal. I’ve threatened to take away dessert. I’ve removed dessert to avoid those threats. I’ve tried all the tricks. To add to the frustration, I always end up hearing a podcast or reading an article offering reasons why a mom should never do the tricks I tried the night before.

Listen.

Correct.

Begin Again.

I’ve tried many avenues to get my children to eat healthy, some successfully and others a total failure. The one thing I have not done is given up on introducing my kids to healthy foods. I’ve never accepted that because they don’t like something at a particular moment, that they will never like that food. They have to try the same food every time I prepare it. They always have the right to tell me they don’t like it, but only after they have tried it again. There have been many “aha” moments where one of my children tries a food he is certain he does not like and suddenly changes his mind. I never stop educating them. I continuously explain to them what ingredients are, what they mean, where to look for them, etc. I talk to them about the principles of eating healthy and why it is important to do so. I draw boundaries with them and only offer them healthy food, snacks, and desserts when they are home. They have plenty of opportunities to eat junk food at school, at birthday parties, at grandma’s house, or any time they step their little feet outside our door, but at home I try to keep it clean. And I lead by example. I eat healthy. They see me preparing salads, vegetables, and smoothies for myself. They see me opt-out of eating junk (well, 8 times out of 10). And they even see me dig into a chocolate lava cake at a restaurant, when its just sooooo worth it.

Getting kids to eat is not about luck. It’s a big effort that requires commitment, consistency, and thick skin. Isn’t that what parenting is all about?

Yes, it is. It’s a tough job and we all do the best we can.

That broccoli pasta sauce that was so delicious on Tuesday night was packed as a school lunch on Wednesday. Great idea, right? All 3 containers came back uneaten. You win some; you lose some.

It’s All About the Principles

One of my mentors was the late William J. Brown, who passed away on March 12, 2015.  “Bill” as we called him, was a seasoned trial attorney who took an interest in mentoring young lawyers in trial advocacy. At 75 he was sharp as a tack- litigating highly complex cases, running 5 miles a day and spending quality time with his utmost priority, his daughter and two grandsons. I had the privilege of renting office space from Bill, working with him, and calling him my friend. Bill practiced law with passion and he loved helping lawyers become excellent litigators.  He would periodically invite us to his home to spend 2 full weekend days watching Herb Stern videos “Trying Cases to Win.” He also had the books in his office and would lend them to us whenever we wanted or needed to learn something. We had a running joke in the office that Bill paid way too much for his monthly subscription of Westlaw, an online legal research software. We’d often challenge him on the service and he’d always respond to any one of us, “well, of course you don’t need to pay for this service, instead of using it, you just come to my office and have me look up the case law for you!”

As Bill sat in his wood floored office of 30 years, he was bombarded daily with lawyers asking him procedural and strategical questions.  I still remember it vividly. His door would be wide open, his back facing it as he worked on his computer. I would tap on the door or call out “Hey William, do you have a minute?” His office chair would instantly roll around to face me, he would take off his glasses and with a big smile, gesture for me to take a seat.
When giving me, or any of my colleagues, advise on how to proceed with our case, Bill would often repeat “Remember, its all about the principles.” He would ask us to recall a portion of the video we watched or book we read. He would remind us of a rule he taught us in the past and he would advise us to stop “reacting” to the opposing side’s tactics. Instead, he would suggest, we should continue our course based upon the principles we learned. Never reacting, but instead acting on our tried and true methods. His methodical system for trying cases always resulted in us, his disciples, being the most prepared, the most organized, and the most likely to win the case.
Life is all about the principles. The most successful people are those that have developed a set of principles to live by, and adhere to those principles despite the circumstances surrounding them. This applies in law, in business, in parenting and in life.
Weight loss is a great example. I’ve often heard people who are fit say to those who are trying to become fit “You gotta be consistent.”

Now think about the definition of consistent- steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: 
The problem most people have is that they start a new diet or exercise routine, follow it religiously until they lose some weight, and then go back to their old eating habits or patterns. Or they start a new diet or exercise routine, follow it religiously but don’t see results quickly, so they become discouraged and go back to their old eating habits.  Their weight follows their eating pattern like a yo-yo – up, down, up again, down again. Interestingly enough, these people are consistent! They consistently follow the same course.
What they don’t do is follow an established set of principles consistently. That’s why crash diets don’t work long term. Crash diets and quick fixes do not allow you to successfully establish a tenet to lose weight and never ever gain it back again.  But if you can nail down the rules you need to follow to lead a healthy lifestyle – and then tweak your eating and exercise plan according to your needs – food allergies, moral considerations, tastes, blood type, health restrictions, lifestyle, etc. –  your results will be extraordinary.
It’s not about the diet. It’s about the principles.
So I ask you, think about your fundamental principles for eating and exercise. Do you know what they are? Have you ever thought about it before? Can you share if you have a set of principles that have worked for you?  I’d love to hear back from you!

Do You See the Finish Line?

“Do you see the large blue and orange structure up ahead Caroline?” David said to me with 300m left to go. I nodded and possibly muttered a quick “yes.” “That is the finish line, Caroline. You are about cross the finish line.”  Just then I see an orange shirt, an orange bow and a ponytail wagging as my girlfriend, Betsy, picks up some speed and dashes ahead of me towards the finish line. I follow her lead, muster up some energy and pick up my speed. But I can’t quite catch up to her. She finishes 5 seconds ahead of me.

Why am I sharing this with you? Why does this matter?

Here’s why. Because up until that very moment, I was the faster runner of the two of us. I trained consistently for this marathon since July without hiccups. I ran 4 times a week, did speed runs on Tuesdays, long runs on Saturdays, not to mention supplementing with cross training. I have long legs and a slim frame. By design, I’m a runner.

On the other hand, my girlfriend did have some hiccups along the way. She had surgery in early July which made it impossible to start her training at the same time as I did. In fact, when she did start running again, she could not even complete 3 miles because she had lost all of her previous conditioning. A few weeks into her training, she began suffering of knee pain. Severe knee pain. She had to stop running and go see an orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor. And then there was the traveling. She had trips planned, vacations, holidays, you name it. As the clock ticked and the days passed, she became increasingly worried that she would not have the time to complete her training to run this marathon. All the while, I kept training and getting stronger…and faster.

At some point my friend decided enough was enough. If she was going to run this marathon, she had to get serious about her plan. She committed to the plan. She sat down with her calendar and the marathon training plan I had emailed her (which I too was following) and she devised her own plan according to the time she had left. There would not be room to go up in miles and down in miles week after week as I had been doing, so instead she would incrementally increase her mileage each week until she caught up to me. As for the knee pain, she saw her chiropractor regularly, googled videos on running using proper form and ordered the natural supplements our doctor suggested she use for inflammation. She paid attention and followed instructions. She, too, started getting stronger and faster. Oh, and she did one more thing…

She routinely and consistently visualized herself and repeated “I will run by Caro’s side the entire marathon. I will not stay behind.”

There is no question that Betsy is an athletic person. She has always been in great shape and has been exercising for many years. In fact, during our training, we ran together most of the time at the same speed. But when the miles started piling on and we started getting tired, I was always ahead. Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot. Now let me make something very clear. Marathon running is a competition against yourself. Completing a marathon (particularly your first marathon) is the accomplishment. The time is irrelevant. More importantly, Betsy and I were not competing against each other. This was not about who was going to finish first. But Betsy did have a concern. She was running this marathon in honor of MY DAD. This was something she was doing for me. It was important to her to see me cross that finish line. I felt the same way when I ran the half marathon in honor of her daughter. I didn’t care about personal records or about time. I wanted to hold her hand across that finish line and say “I did this for you because I love you and I honor your daughter and the life she lived.” And that I did. So for her it was about not losing sight of me. She wanted to keep up or keep up just enough…that she saw me raise my hands and cross. That was her way of saying…”I did this for you because I love you and I honor your father and the life he lived.” And that she did.

I digress. Betsy began visualizing herself by my side the entire marathon, and most importantly, crossing the finish line with me (or maybe ahead of me). She would repeat over and over again what her goal was, to keep up with me the whole time. She put this vision out into the universe and used self hypnosis and visualizations to see it happen. By January 24, 2016, Betsy had crossed that finish line with me (or ahead of me) hundreds of times. And low and behold, on that day, we paced each other the ENTIRE time. She would speed up, and I would catch up. Moments later I would speed up, and she would catch up. We enjoyed this yo-yo dance for 26.2 miles until the very last 5 seconds when her visualization became a reality. Betsy finished ahead of me, just in time to turn around and see me raise my hands and cross the finish line. Just in time to say “This one’s for your old man.”

Betsy proved to me that day the good ole’ saying…”most of it is mental.” Taking all the cold facts and our trajectories, I should have, at some point, left Betsy behind in the run. But Betsy’s mind is even stronger than her body. Her mind was not going to let that happen, and therefore, her legs obeyed.

This is not to say that you can get away with just seeing results in your head. You have to put quite a bit of work into achieving the results you’re looking for. But people underestimate the power of the mind. You have to train your subconscious to work in your favor. So when you’re fatigued or your physical capacity has gone as far as it can, or outside factors play a role, your mind will do the rest and get you through that finish line. Betsy’s run was an inspiration and a true lesson in the power of the mind. These were principles my father lived by. These principles helped my father live a rich, strong, healthy life despite his 17 year battle with cancer. There was no way Betsy could have honored him more than to put these principles into practice in her own life.

Now I ask you, do you see your finish line? Is it weight loss, or reducing debt, or a successful relationship?  I invite you to identify your finish line and begin the process of visualizing the results you’re looking for. SEE IT. Talk yourself into BEING IT… even if at the beginning you’re faking it. And then do your part. Take the steps that need to be taken to achieve those results. Pay attention, follow instructions, and follow your plan. And then leave the rest to the universe. After all, the universe works in mysterious ways.

What’s the Plan?

I never really planned to run a marathon, or a half marathon, or down the block. It was an accomplishment I had toyed with in my mind but with no tangible steps to achieve it. Just a fleeting thought.  It wasn’t until my friend, Betsy, asked me to run a half-marathon with her that this distant possibility became a reality.

Running a half marathon is like having your first child… right after your first child is born, people start asking you “when’s the next one coming?” Same with running. Cross that half marathon finish line and guaranteed you will be asked “So when’s the full?” Fast forward 5 months and here I am two weeks away from running my first full marathon.

Why am I telling you this? Because in order to be successful in anything you do, you need to have a plan.  Some people think planning takes away from living a spontaneous, exciting life. Being a planner can seem boring and mundane. But nothing is more exciting than realizing your dreams and goals…and to do that, you need a plan. And this applies to everything. Even if you are doing something you had never “planned” to do, once you’ve made the decision to do something, you need a plan.

As my training began for the full marathon, one of my friends from our running group sent me a “marathon training plan” by email. I glanced it over and was generally following the plan. However, a few Saturdays into my training, my plan called for 14 miles. But I only had time to run 10. I didn’t think much of it. During my run, a running friend asked me “What are you running today?” My response was “Well, my plan says 14, but I think I only have time to run 10.” He said, “Caroline, we have run many marathons and we have a rule. You plan your run and you run your plan.” My response was, “I understand Bob, but my husband has to see a client, what am I supposed to do? if I don’t have time, I don’t have time!” His response was, “Figure it out. But you have to run your plan.” He was serious. And if realized if I wanted to finish strong and run a good marathon, I needed to change the way I looked at my marathon training from that point forward.  That day I ran my 10 in the morning, went home so I could stay with the kids while my husband met with a client, and several hours later in the afternoon, I ran 4 miles to complete my plan. That was the last time that happened to me. Because from that moment, I did not only look at my training plan, but I planned my life according to that training plan. If I had something on Saturday morning that would prohibit me from running my full plan, then I would run on Friday or Sunday or I would start my run a lot earlier. I played with my schedule and tweaked it around. No one week was exactly the same. But I ran my plan.

Another reason people do not like to have a plan is because it can become frustrating when you plan, plan, plan and then regular life gets in the way and your plan falls apart. That is going to happen. A plan cannot be set in stone. You or your kids are going to get sick. You’re going to get a flat tire. You’re going to have to stay late at work one day. Something is going to come up. That’s ok! It’s going to keep things spontaneous and exciting. LOL. But when you’re armed with a plan you know what you’re supposed to do, which makes it easier to make it up, work around it, or rearrange your schedule.

When it comes to eating healthy a plan is a must. If you don’t plan your meals, you end up eating too much or too little. You spend too many hours without eating and then you’re famished and will eat whatever is available to you. And when you’re out and about it is extremely difficult to find healthy options on the go. So you plan. You take snacks in your purse or briefcase; you prepare food ahead of time; you take your lunch to work; and you reduce your exposure to the times you will make exceptions. This will make success so much easier to attain. When you have a plan, you have a sense of control. And you will have power over your own decisions.

Here are 3 tips when planning a healthy eating week:

  1. Work around your schedule. Do not plan and shop for 7 different healthy dinners if you can not cook 7 nights a week. Be realistic. How many nights in the week will you really be able to cook when you consider late nights at work, soccer practice, and any other events you may have. If you can commit to 3 meals, then only plan for 3 meals.
  2. Batch cook and eat leftovers. This ties directly to my first point. If you can only commit to cooking 3 nights a week, make those nights carry you through the other nights. Using a crockpot helps a lot. Also plan meals that will be easy to match to other meals. Example, if you’re making chicken, meatloaf, quinoa, beans, or soup…make a lot of it and the next day you can throw the chicken on a salad, puree the soup, add some fresh vegetables to your quinoa, etc.
  3. Shop consciously. When you’re eating healthy, you will eat a lot of perishable foods. There is nothing more frustrating than spending lots of money on fruits and vegetables and throwing them away because they’re spoiled. If you’re buying food for the week, you have to take this into consideration. If you’re shopping on Sunday and you’re planning to make asparagus on Friday, I would not suggest you buy the asparagus that Sunday. Its just too many days before you’re going to use it. You may have to take a trip to the store mid week. If you don’t like to do that, then leave Friday night meals for foods that hold up longer or that you can freeze. Cook and/or eat the perishable foods first.

Last week we planned for 3 meals. One of them was a ratatouille. Orlando did not want to make the ratatouille until later in the week and because it requires a lot of eggplant and tomatoes, we held off on buying the ingredients for that meal. Turns out that the other two meals we made had so much leftovers that we had enough food for the whole week without having to ever buy the ingredients for the ratatouille. We saved the money and the frustration of letting it go to waste.  One thing we’ve noticed is that its hard to eat vegetables left over. Some veggies don’t hold up well the next day and don’t reheat well. This week we made collard greens and are happy to report that collards hold up VERY WELL. We made a huge batch of it on Sunday and were able to eat them until Wednesday. That made life so much easier. The first night we had scallops, cauliflower mash and collards. The next day we mixed in the collards with quinoa and chili. The day after that we made chicken and had cauliflower and collards with chicken. The chili was delicious on a salad for my lunch one day that week and in a pita sandwich for the kids’ lunches. The meals were recycled and combined the whole week, which didn’t require us to do too much cooking. It was awesome.

Here is our collard greens recipe. Hope you enjoy them!

Ingredients

  • 2 LBS of Collard Greens
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves chopped
  • 48 ounces chicken stock
  • 2 tsps salt and pepper or to taste
  • 2 pinches of red pepper flakes
  • olive oil

Directions:

Collards are big and reduce. We cooked it in two parts. Sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent. Then add garlic for about 30 seconds. Add 1 lb of collard greens. Stir around the collards with the onion and garlic mixture until the collards wilt and make room for more. Add some salt and pepper. Then you put in the second lb of collard greens and add a little more olive oil to coat. Stir in the entire mixture until its all well coated and mixed in together with the onions and garlic. Add the pinch of red pepper flakes and pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 55 minutes or until greens are tender.

A New Day. A New Year.

The day is finally here. Its the first day of a new year. The New Years holiday is a special holiday for me. Every holiday has a general theme: Thanksgiving is about being thankful;  Valentine’s day is about saying I love you; New Years is about change. I love that. I love to review the highs and lows of my previous year and make plans for the new year. I love the energy that comes with people wishing goodness for the year to come, positive thoughts, and calls to action. I love to see the gyms flooded on the Monday following the new year and people taking up juice fasting and healthy diets.  Many people, however, are bothered by this holiday. They scoff at New Year’s Resolutions and they will offer a hundred reasons why people don’t ever stick to them. They will tell you they are pointless. And truth is, most people don’t stick to their resolutions. Most people don’t make the changes they wish to make. Most people have the same resolutions year after year.

So what’s the point in making them?  One simple word sums it up: HOPE.

Each new year gives us hope that better things will come and that things can change. You know what….its true!!!! Things can get better, and things can change. Whether the resolution sticks or not is actually irrelevant. Why? Because what matters is that as long as we are alive, we have the power to make positive changes in our lives. Whether its January 1st, or Monday, or the day after someone or something inspired you…if you are breathing, you can change your life for the better. That hope should never be lost. To lose it would in essence be, to die while you’re alive. Does that mean that when the clock strikes 12 o’clock, you will all of a sudden be a new person? No, of course not. But the truth is it only takes a moment for something to click in your mind. What takes time is to take the steps necessary to make the changes that your brain knows you need.

A new year also gives us the opportunity to close the last chapter in the book of our lives and begin a new one. For me personally, this has much significance. 2015 has been the most difficult year of my life. It is the year I lost my best friend, mentor, and soul mate… my dad. It was not only difficult because of his death, but also because of the toll his illness took on him and on me. It was difficult because after his death I had to deal with the aftermath of his affairs and that, too, was all consuming. To be plain and simple, it sucked.

Of course there were good things that came in 2015. My husband started his own law practice and had a remarkably successful year. My three boys continue growing and  thriving in school and in life. I ran a half marathon and discovered a passion for running… a total plus! And as a result of my dad’s passing, I have found friendships (old and new) that I am beyond blessed to have. So, like always, its never all bad. But… there is no denying that 2015 was an extremely painful year. And yet, as of today, 2015 is in the past. Whether I still miss him or not, this is a new year. This year will not be remembered as the year I lost my dad or the year I spent in and out of hospitals with him. I don’t know what memories will mark this year.  But I have HOPE they will be good ones. And as of this moment, I have a whole year left.

So I say, MAKE YOUR RESOLUTIONS; SET YOUR GOALS; PLAN TO HAVE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!!!!! Celebrate this holiday. Enjoy the energy, spirit and hope that comes with this time and use that energy to propel you forward. Get your momentum now that its free flowing and help yourself move in the direction of your dreams. Your work is not over. No, on the contrary, it is just beginning. But how lucky are you that you have been given the gift of life and the chance to do whatever it is you want to do?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Let’s Do This!!!!!!

Let’s Do This!!! That is the name of my workout WhatsApp chat. I created this chat on July 5, 2015, more than 3 months ago. I wish I could take full credit for the invention of this chat, but truth is that I borrowed the idea from my cousin. A couple of months prior, my cousin was telling me that she had been working out more than ever. She seemed motivated and excited. My cousin explained that her girlfriends and she had begun a text group challenge in which they had to exercise a certain amount of times during the week, otherwise they would have to pay the other girls in the group $1. I thought this was clever so I inquired further. She told me they would post healthy meals as well as confessions of slip ups – it was almost like a support group. I was fond of the idea and my cousin was sweet enough to invite me to participate, but I kindly declined. I was busy at the time with my father’s illness and knew it was impossible to keep up with the challenge. After my father’s passing, I knew I needed exercise desperately, not only for my body, but also as a healing mechanism. I was running about 3 times a week by myself. I had a good routine, not too hard, not too easy. I was consistent. But I kept thinking about my cousin’s group and how fun it seemed. I thought an exercise group might be a really cool thing to do with my own group of friends. As with any group of girlfriends, most of us could stand to lose some weight and talked about it often. I wondered what would happen if I invited these girls that I love on an exercise journey with me. So I sent a group text to a few girls that I thought might want to participate. I explained this was a challenge. There would be a minimum of 4 workouts per week allowed. After each workout, the women would have to take a selfie or related picture as proof that they completed the exercise. Any woman who missed one or more of the workouts had to pay the other women $1 for each offense. I also mentioned that we could offer each other healthy eating tips, and encouraged all the women to openly admit if they “cheated” on their “diet.” All of the women wanted to participate. They said things like “Oh, this is coming at a perfect time because I was planning on working out but I needed a little motivation” or “This is just what I need” or “Why not, let’s give it a try and see how it goes.” One of my girlfriends suggested we use WhatsAPP as the medium because we could turn off the notifications and not be disturbed constantly.

And thus on July 5, 2015 the “Let’s Do This” chat group began. We started with 7 girls. Each one of us had a different journey, different needs and different goals. Some of us had some weight to lose; some of us were in great shape but wanted to tone up; one of us had a perfect body and was serving as the carrot stick for the rest of us! (yes, we even got a body builder in our group!) some of us didn’t care about the physique as much as just getting healthy; some of us were simply lonely and tired of exercising alone. The beauty of this chat was that location did not matter. These girls were not all in the same city or state. All we needed was a smart phone with a camera. Easy enough.

The selfies began. Every day beginning as early as 4am, not so energetic faces with their fingers reflecting the number of the week they were on 1, 2, 3, 4 would appear on my screen. After all, this was a sacrifice. But after every pic, there was another girl who would put a thumbs up or a word of encouragement.

There was also the occasional smoothie pic or salad pic and, of course, there was the woman who confessed about the brownie she just ate at work. As the picture of the deviant brownie was uploaded to the chat, there were 6 other women that were there to offer support. “No worries, love, tomorrow will be better.” or when necessary, an angry emoji would appear and a woman would command “put the brownie down now!”

Little by little, the chat evolved. The faces were more animated, sometimes. There were even smiles on there. The energy started shifting. You see, all of a sudden these women were motivated. The chat became a safe place where you could post your results and be celebrated or you could post your failures and be supported. A few weeks into it, our annual family vacation arrived and some of us were reunited in our vacation spot. The chat, of course, traveled with us. We took advantage of the trip and exercised together in the mornings. It made the vacation all the more special and meaningful. Selfies became group pics and wellness became a common thread that was tying us all together. At the end of the vacation, we all went to our regular homes…distant again, but closer than ever.

Other friends began noticing there was something different going on. We looked happier and healthier. We invited two more friends on the chat. And then we were 9. One of the girls resisted for a while. We would invite her but she wasn’t ready to commit. And then one day, she finally agreed. As the contagious energy spread to her, she started making changes that were critical in her life….like quitting smoking. At one point, she called me and thanked me for insisting on her being added to the chat. She said “Besides my health, this chat is the biggest source of motivation for me.”

The chat is still going on and we are all still on our journeys. Our goals change every once in a while and are totally subjective. Some of us try new routines or new meal plans. Others stick to the same ole, same ole. But the key is the support system, the special relationships.

We have a place where we are accountable yet we are safe. We answer to each other, but really we are just answering to ourselves. We know the things we have to work on. We admit our faults and our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities.We each have our strengths, and we offer those strengths to the others. Each of us are each other’s super woman.

You see, when your alarm clock sounds at 4am or 5am, and you are totally exhausted, every fiber in your being wants to shut that thing off and forget your commitment. That may be easy to do when no one is watching. Or when you have finished a long day at work, and the last thing in the world you want to do is go to the gym, it is easy to miss the exit and just go home. But when you know that there are 8 other women who feel exactly the same way you do, and may be even more tired than you are, and they have already posted their pic on that chat, all of a sudden that commitment is greater than you are.  That energy stops you from hitting the snooze button or passing the exit on the highway. That energy gives you a higher purpose and a sense of community. We all need a community.

We girls find ourselves reiterating how lucky we are to have this chat, and to have each other. The chat has taken a life of its own. Each one of us is reaching goals bigger than what we started with. And we are just scratching the surface. There is so much more for us to do, and we’re doing it one step at a time.

My hope for you is that you find a community of your own. And if you don’t have one, create one. Find people that will propel you forward. People that will hold you accountable and that are willing to give as much as they receive. This group is only one of my communities. I also have a running group and a mastermind group. I believe in having special relationships in all areas of my life. Remember the saying “United we stand, Divided we fall.” There is incredible truth to that statement and it can apply to all areas of our lives. Create a community that you want to stand with and that will give you the energy you need to reach the top of your mountain.

Special relationships have changed my life, and I know they can change yours.

 

Banana & Avocado Smoothie Recipe

Hi all, this is a quick post to give you a delicious healthy smoothie recipe. Banana & Avocado go together like peanut butter and jelly. This smoothie is easy to make and is packed with nutritional benefits like fiber, potassium, good fats, minerals and vitamins. I always try to incorporate good fats into our breakfasts. A breakfast of “kings” helps your body metabolize better throughout the day, keeps you full longer, and for kids especially it encourages the development of your child’s brain and nervous system. This tasty drink meets all your morning needs. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 generous cup of spinach
  • 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions – Blend until smooth

 

 

 

Trust Your Instincts (and your GPS)

Saturdays are my long runs. Typically I meet my running club at 6:30am and we run about 7 miles. During marathon training season, some members of the running club meet at 6:00 am to run 3 miles prior to joining the remainder of the group at 6:30. This system allows the trainers to run 10 miles in total, while still running with the same group. Since I too am in marathon training mode, I have been joining the group at 6am for what we call the “Pre-Three.” I know where they meet, so all I have to do is drive to the meeting point, get off the car and follow the gang. And as I run the route, I enjoy the scenery and chat with my friends…but I pay no attention to what route i’m taking. This is somewhat of a flaw I have. I’m generally distracted and don’t focus on the routes.

Last week, however, was different. My marathon plan instructed me to run 12 miles but I had an event on Saturday and could not run with my group. Chatting with one of my running friends, he suggested I run on Sunday – the first 6 by myself and then he would meet me at our regular running spot for the next 6. I said “O.K” and the plan was made. I did not admit this to him, but I was TERRIFIED of running the first 6 miles alone. Although I had run the same course many times, all the streets looked the same to me. Plus, 6am is still dark – what if I missed a turn somewhere? Would I find my way back? This idea haunted me for two days, and suddenly it was Sunday and I was driving by myself to my usual starting point. My friend had sent a blast email to the group letting everyone know that I would be running at 6 and he would be joining me at 7 in case there were any runners who needed the miles that morning. So I was cautiously optimistic there would be someone there waiting for me (that knew the way). Close but no cigar. Since I knew I was likely to run alone that morning, I had a backup plan. I always track my runs using mapmyrun. That app has a map feature that tracks your route – now it doesn’t offer me a SIRI like gps that says “turn right in 200 feet” it only shows me as a little dot and i’m either on the red line or i’m not. If i’m not, I know i’m off my course. So my thought was, I will concentrate on the roads to make sure everything looks familiar, and when in doubt I will verify with mapmyrun that i’m on the red line.

I started my run and I was nervous but focused and alert. I paid close to attention to my surroundings, noting landmarks, street names, and familiar homes. Every time I’d look down and see my little dot on the red line, I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment. I did reach a road that I could not remember if I had to run left or run straight. I made a quick judgment call and ran straight and about 15 seconds later I realized my dot had gone off the red line. I immediately knew I had made the wrong call so I ran back and went left. I was back on track. After that it was a pretty straight shot and I grew increasingly confident. I reached the water stop, drank some and headed back to meet my partner for the next half of the run. On my way back, I felt such a sense of accomplishment and pride in myself. Even though I had been afraid, I confronted my fear, I stepped out of my comfort zone and here I was on the right track. I realized even though I don’t normally pay attention to the route, my body instinctively remembered the way (with the exception of the left turn which really was more me overthinking it).

And I thought, “this is life in a nutshell.” We don’t always know the direction we’re headed. Sometimes we just follow the crowd and if we are lucky enough to have the right guidance, our course is comfortable and successful. But there are moments in life when we have no choice but to travel the road alone. We have an aim which at that moment is ours and ours only. Although there have been those that have traveled that road before us, we set out nervously and cautiously hoping we stay on the red line and finish what we started. Maybe its a career path, or raising our kids; maybe its a spiritual journey. Sometimes we have to trust our instincts and sometimes we have look around to make sure we’re on the right track. But if we focus, if we stay alert, and if we choose the right path…with every turn and twist we gain confidence, strength and pride in ourselves. And we leave our footprints on the trail so those that follow behind us can follow the red line.

Mini Egg “Muffins”

Perfect Lunch for Kids

I hit big with these mini quiches that I made for my boys’ lunch last week. So much so that during dinnertime my four year old asked me if he could have the egg muffins for dinner. I smiled and said I had already made a special dinner for our family, to which he responded “Ok fine, then just give me the egg muffins for dessert!” Mental note to me…make egg muffins for lunch every week from now on. The great thing about this recipe is that it is made with real ingredients and is an excellent source of good fat for young kids (which need this fat to help develop their brains!!!)

And for moms of picky eaters, this is a great opportunity to sneak in ingredients they would normally not eat willingly. My youngest son puts up a battle for certain foods such as smoked salmon or leafy greens, but he eats these quiches willingly. Try these and please let me know if they’re a hit in your house as well.

Delicious Egg Quiches with Smoked Salmon - Real Ingredients

Delicious Egg Quiches with Smoked Salmon – Real Ingredients\

RECIPE

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 cup of smoked wild alaskan sockeye Salmon
  • 1/2 cup of spinach
  • 1 Cup of Kerrygold Skellig Sweet Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a mini muffin pan
  • In a large bowl whisk your eggs, yogurt and milk.
  • Mix in the salmon, spinach, cheese, salt and pepper
  • Pour the mixture evenly into the mini muffin pan
  • I like to then shred some extra cheddar on top of each muffin
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes. (Cooking time varies from stove to stove. Check the eggs after 15 minutes by inserting a knife or toothpick through the center)
  • Let the pan cool down and then scoop the muffins with a spoon.

Magic Spaghetti

This post is not about a spaghetti recipe. Magic Spaghetti involves a recipe for problem solving. The key ingredients are:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Creativity (think outside the box)
  3. Perspective

Let me tell you what happened. On Sunday I experienced one of those “worst mom of the world” moments. Truth is I didn’t abandon, abuse or neglect my child. So to say I was the worst mom in the world at that moment was a complete over-dramatization on my part…but a legitimate feeling that we moms feel when we make a mistake that we feel really hurt our kid’s feelings. Sunday was the night before my eldest son started first grade. During the school orientation the week before, we parents received a little note that said “first graders don’t open until the night before first grade.” I thought I had packed it in the folder with all the other papers I was given but on Sunday evening right before Orly was about to tuck in, I opened the folder to grab the note and realized it was not in there. I checked the folder again to make sure. Nothing. I checked my purse. Nothing. I ransacked my car. Nothing. My heartbeat was racing and guilt was starting to set in, but I was trying to stay positive. “No big deal” I thought…”I’ll just text one of my school mommy friends to text me a picture of the note, read it to Orly and I’ve redeemed myself!” So I texted three separate moms and a few minutes later I received the picture of the note. The clock was ticking and my son had to get to sleep so I didn’t even bother reading the note before I ran happily into orlys room, climbed up his bunk bed and said “Orly, don’t forget to read your teacher’s note before you fall asleep!” I handed the phone to Orly, snuggled up beside him and he began to read the note aloud. As my eyes skimmed the note faster than Orly can read, I realized the note was about the night before school jitters and this “magic confetti” that the teacher had sent home to help the child sleep through the night without jitters. The confetti was attached to the original note and the note instructed the parent and child to sprinkle it under the child’s pillow. OMG!!!!!!!!! Secretly I began praying Orly had poor reading comprehension skills and would not notice he is missing the confetti. But no such luck. Orly looked at me with his big blue eyes and asked “mommy, where is my confetti?” Dagger to a mother’s heart.  I then had to explain to my 6 year old that I did not have the confetti, because I must have left it at the school accidentally.

My six year old shoved his head into his pillow and started crying. “Orly I’m so sorry,” I said. Without raising his head, in a muffled little voice Orly responded “mom I know you didn’t do it on purpose.” My very logical next thoughts were “I’m the worst mother in the world;” “this will inevitably cause long lasting trauma;” “he’ll be in therapy for sure.” I gave him a big kiss, apologized a few more hundred times and climbed off the bunk bed to go cry to my husband. As I confessed to Orlando every last detail, he quickly jumped up from the couch and said “I have an idea”. Trailing behind him like a lost puppy, we ended up in front of my kitchen pantry. Orlando opened the pantry cabinets, rolled out the pantry drawer, and stared at the array of items. Then he spotted a container of the noodles we put in our chicken soups and said “ah-hah!” Still confused, I followed my crazy scientist-like husband straight to my sons’ room and watched him create his own magic. Orly propped up his head over the bunk bed rail and his father proclaimed “who needs magic confetti when you have magic spaghetti!!!” throwing noodles up over orly’s head like… well, like confetti.

Magic Sphaghetti

Orly burst into laughter. Just like that the tears were gone. Orlando told him the magic spaghetti worked just like magic confetti only it was better because it was edible!!!  My little boy whispered in a sweet voice “thank you daddy”. Then my husband said  to him “you’re not really crying over the confetti are you buddy? You’re just a little nervous because tomorrow is your first day back to school” he nodded and his dad reassured him he was going to have a great day with his new teacher and friends. Now despite the fact that “I” really didn’t redeem myself from my failing mother syndrome, I did learn something. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. However, all I was doing was focusing on the mistake. My husband focused on the solution. Sometimes I am the one finding the solution when my husband’s head is too crowded with the problem…but that is the key to the first ingredient in this recipe…teamwork. Pulling together and allowing the person who has clear vision to guide the way when you’re blind…and then vice versa. Then he deployed the most important ingredient in my recipe, his magic bullet.. Creativity. He used creativity and humor to make light of a situation that for a six year old (and his vulnerable mom) was a big deal. By thinking outside the box, he made the night before first grade even more magical.  And finally, my husband mixed in some perspective (and gave me some which I was missing at that moment)! My son’s crying wasn’t only about the confetti…and the confetti wasn’t the end all be all of making his night special. It wasn’t about the confetti at all.  At that moment, as Orly saw his parents standing next to his bunk bed throwing spaghetti noodles in the air like lunatics, he knew he was deeply loved and his feelings mattered. We as parents have a lot of pressure on us to be perfect. Our generation is known for over-parenting or helicopter parenting. But despite our attempts to make our kids worlds’ perfect, that is not reality. Life is not perfect. It’s probably a good thing our kids learn to deal with disappointment from a young age and that we’re going to mess up from time to time!!! We don’t have to be perfect or create the perfect world for our kids. What really matters is letting them know that regardless of the circumstances, we love them. The rest is just details. We may lose our magic confetti from time to time…but there’s no reason we can’t invent magic spaghetti.