Fresh fruit for juggling a busy scheduleI love food. I really really love food. I love eating as much as I need breathing. Ok, maybe I love food even more than breathing. And my food passion turns to serious food desperation on those crazy days that I don’t really have time to cook (that’s pretty much everyday). It’s all about the food.  And I love snacking just as much as I love eating but if I am going to stick to my 80% Paelo lifestyle, I need to make good choices even on crazy days. So I’m working on a list of ‘standard snack fare’ that I keep in my kitchen at all times. It’s gotta be healthy and Paleo friendly because otherwise, I’ll be chowing down on my kiddos’ pretzels and goldfish crackers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pretty much everything else that they leave behind. I’d much rather feed their leftovers to the chickens and eat something healthier! And it’s got to be a robust kind of a snack or I’ll eat way too many. After all, I like food. I love food. I NEED food. But I don’t need it making me sluggish or hanging around on my thighs…. So here are my favorite go to snacks and mini meals to keep me fueled up and feeling full when life is out of control. And let’s face it, when is life ever not out of control?

1. Banana with a couple tablespoons of almond butter and a few crumbles of homemade Paleo chocolate.

2. A couple of cuties. Call them Cuties, or Halos, or whatever – but a couple of fresh mandarin oranges are a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth, get your vitamin C, and have a nice healthy snack in its own convenient packaging.

3. Faux apple pie. This is delicious when you’re craving something warm and sweet! Cut up an apple any old way you like – I prefer bite size pieces, but slices are good too. Dump them in a bowl with a little bit of coconut oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon (I love cinnamon). Microwave for about a minute, then drizzle with honey (Raw Manuka honey is awesome). It’s like apple pie without the carbs. The coconut oil gives satiety so it’s a great bedtime snack to replace your sugary, sweet dessert.

image4. Eggs. For years, eggs were the ‘bad guys’ of cholesterol, but new studies are showing otherwise. Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and protein, easy to cook, and versatile. Keep some hard boiled eggs in the fridge for when you need a quick protein fix.

5.  Smoothies. Smoothies are filling and delicious, but just watch because the calorie count adds up fast. Frozen bananas, a few ice cubes, almond butter, maybe a little protein powder or a scoop of cocoa powder and a little honey. Toss it in your blender and your good to go.

6. Fresh juice. If you have a juicer, you can throw in 3 apples and 2 cucumbers for a great juice to take on the run. They are super nutritious, helps remove any water retention, and will give you energy. Need juicer? Try this one. It’s easy to use and I love mine. Bonus – the chickens love the leftover juice pulp! If you don’t have chickens just use it to create your own compost pile and the waste becomes fertilizer to grow more veggies!

It’s so easy to reach for carbs – crackers, croissants, or pop tarts, make such easy and neat packages, but the sluggishness that comes on after makes the convenience of carbs so not worth it. Instead, keep an extra supply of fresh fruits and veggies on hand: bananas, berries, apples, carrots, celery…. Fresh seasonal produce is almost always cheaper pound for pound than processed foods and gives you much more energy, satiety, and vitamins.

What are you favorite healthy snacks and meals for when you’re super busy?

 

How can I be beautiful?299151_2631227900455_1240598665_n

Peering, squinting, staring, turning, looking and sucking it in all at once and holding up my head, and pushing out my chest and tightening up those abs and turning in my tailbone doesn’t help me, cannot make me see that beauty in my reflection or let me look at me with satisfaction and or gaze happily, with joy, at the amazing body God has given to do good works for Him when my ridiculous, sticky fingerprinted mirror cannot airbrush out my blemishes, or photoshop more thinness to my thighs? Why can’t it just adjust the the ruddy in my cheeks or smooth away the dimply skin that comprises my back side? How can I walk with head held high, and skipping steps, and lightness in my soul when I cannot come close to the beauty I think that I should be? How can I be beautiful at all?

When am I beautiful?

Can I truly leave the house and gain respect only if and when my face has been painted and colored and smoothed, with just the right amount of sparkle and shimmer in just the right places and all the right shades?  Am I only beautiful with highlighter dusted on the bones of my cheeks and bronzer squaring up the lines of my jaw? When I’ve waxed and washed away the things that don’t belong? Do I only look good when the clothes that I wear slim my shape, and boost my curves, and hide the hideousness of imperfections? When can I be beautiful at all?

I am tangled up and caught in a growing, looming battle for perfection in my looks, a vanity that runs too deep to quell with just a tube of lipstick or highlights in my hair. I am a body shamer.

I am conflicted in my inner me as I look at you and feel ashamed. I will never measure the size of your thighs, or the width of your calves or the span of your backside when you walk by and I cannot bear to calculate the angles on your face or imagine the number on the inside of your skinny jeans or crane my neck to look for muffin tops or dumpling rolls or little bits of fluff poking out from under your shirt.  I’ll never say that you’re too fat, that you’re too thin, or something’s just not right about how your glorious perfect body appears before me. And I won’t call out a Hollywood celeb if they’ve got a dimple of cellulite on their left butt cheek or an outfit that belonged to yesterday’s style or a top that isn’t cut low enough to show off all the goods.

But still, I am a body shamer.

Gratuitous workout selfie.
Gratuitous workout selfie.

I shame my veiny legs from a pregnancy that wasn’t long enough and I had to lie too still for too long and left me with scars I hide and streaks I loathe and weakened abs that could never be the same and a sweet perfect little boy who is nearly 9, and I shame my crooked hip that makes a funny lump of fat stick out on just one side, and I shame my uneven skin, and too-big ribs, and I shame my lack of a pretty waist and without wearing all the right clothes and all the right makeup and just the right hair all of the time to hide what I think is imperfect when you see me, I am ashamed.

But until I learn and live and know that I measure up just exactly how I am; until I learn that I am beautiful in the now and the then, and until I love myself for every part of me that is good, that works hard, that carries small children and cooks nutritious food, and that works  to mend breaking hearts and share Jesus and kiss booboos and feed chickens… until I love myself enough to stop hiding behind long pants and thick shirts and black eyeliner and cute shoes and trendy things, until I am happy with the me that makes up myself than I am a self-righteous contributor to all that is body shaming. If cannot let myself be less than perfect than I, yes I, am a contributor to all that demands perfection and thinness and thick hair and great skin and high heels and great gams and tight bottoms and anti-aging in glorious amazing women.

God doesn’t ask us to be perfect on the outsides, He rejoices over us because we are His; He loves us.

I am a body shamer. And the body shaming must stop.

 

 

At 14 years of age, I mastered squats, wall sits, pull-ups, bear plank leg lifts, and dieting. Because I didn’t  like the way my body looked.

In high school, I biked, I lifted, I did calisthenics for 5 hours a day and I secretly followed my parent’s Weight Watcher’s plan. Because I still didn’t like the way my body looked.

Snapshot_20130902_4

I thought that once I achieved the right degree of thinness I would like myself more. By age 20, I was 20 pounds underweight. I was skinny! But I was tired, I was very weak, and I felt sick.  And I still didn’t like the way my body looked.

Loving your body has nothing to do with how skinny you are. No doctor
ever told me to lose weight. No doctor ever told me to change my diet and get skinnier. In my twenties, Weight Watchers turned me away because I didn’t weigh enough to participate in their program. My BMI was probably never too high. But still, I thought loving myself and having a positive body image would come when I was the right weight, the perfect degree of skinniness. But it never did.

It took something else entirely. It took learning to see myself as God sees me – as fearfully and wonderfully made – to start to get my body image under control. And I’m not there yet; I sometimes still have to remind myself to be healthy, not skinny. To be strong more than slim. To love the body I have and not compare it to someone else’s. For too many of us, we see ourselves as ‘fat’ no matter how thin we are, because we try to compare ourselves to models in fashion magazines, to our thinner friends, or to young teenagers who haven’t even hit puberty. But God doesn’t compare you and me to someone else. He designed us, He loves us just as we are.  I love – and I need-  that verse in Psalm 139 that shows us that God’s works are wonderful – and we, yes you, yes me – are one of those works:

Psalm 139:13-14

New International Version (NIV)

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

I need to let those verses sink in to my head, my heart, my soul. I need to see myself with the awe and the wonder that God created in me and recognize all of the amazing things my body can do (birth a tiny human, for instance). I admit, I still want to shed a few pounds that somehow appeared as I worked my way through seminary to earn my MDIV. But I’m working on healthier, happier ways to go about it because I don’t want my daughters or my sons to equate thinness with self-love. I want them to learn to love their bodies and show love to their bodies by eating mostly healthy meals, by being strong and fit, by seeing themselves as I see them, and most importantly, as God sees them. I wouldn’t love my children any less if they were short or tall or obese or thin – so why would I put the same pressure on myself? God’s love means I can love myself no matter what my outsides look like.

I’ve done Weight Watchers, Pilates, the Daniel Plan, biking, low fat, low carb, It Works!, Zyng, I’ve juiced, given up sugar, flour, and attempted just about every other diet plan you can imagine. And none of them ever filled up my soul and made me happy because my soul simply doesn’t need to be skinny. My soul needs Jesus. My identity is in Him, not in the shape of my outsides.

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not totally sure what the right fit and healthy me looks like yet, but that’s ok. I’m just taking a little step at a time, finding the right balance between Paleo and clean eating alongside an occasional donut, staying active every day and exercising sometimes, and trusting that God loves me enough to have made me wonderfully. And that feels better than skinny ever did.