The #1 Killer In America

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My husband is currently taking a Nutrition class online and often shares some of what he learns with me.  We recently watched a CNN report together that was a part of his class homework.  The report was on heart attacks and heart disease, which is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.  

Honestly, I have heard that statistic before, many times, and somehow it’s managed to roll off my back… but this 40 minute video really affected me.  As someone who considers themselves a healthy eater and an overall healthy person, I was challenged to look at my own eating habits and see where I may be routinely eating my way towards a heart attack.

I know this may sound a little extreme, but since heart disease is literally the most likely thing that most of us will die from, it’s worth it to learn about it so we can make better lifestyle decisions to prevent it.

*Bonus: It’s not a slanted documentary with an agenda.  It’s a straightforward CNN report that will benefit everyone who watches.

Watch: ‘The Last Heart Attack’

Easy Homemade Fruit & Veggie Dips For Toddlers (or anyone!)

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One of the best ways to make a food exciting to a toddler, or to anyone really, in my opinion is to dip it.  I’m a condiment person.  I eat fries with my ketchup, salad with my balsamic and pizza with my marinara.  Toddlers are like this too.  At least mine is!  He would eat dip with his fingers for dinner if I let him.

Here are a few easy dip recipes that are bound to get you or your toddler eating more fruits and veggies!

Zesty Veggie Dip

-whole milk yogurt
-fresh lemon juice/lime juice
-cayenne pepper to taste

Honey Fruit Dip

-whole milk yogurt
-honey

Eat-Your-Apples-Dip

whole milk yogurt
peanut butter
cinnamon
pure maple syrup
**stir vigorously, or blend

Chia Seeds: My New Secret Weapon

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Don’t you just love this photo from Self.com?  I mean, doesn’t everyone look this airbrushed and sexy just before they workout?  Stylishly placed sweat band, pouty lips…maybe next time I workout I’ll try this whole seductive running thing and see if it helps me take some seconds off my mile.  Okay enough poking fun…

A few days before my half marathon, my step-mom, Carrie, mentioned to me that I should drink some chia seeds before my race to help with sustained energy.

So I did.

Thirty minutes before the race started I poured some chia seeds into water and drank it down.

Have you ever used chia seeds to help power your workouts?  There’s lots of evidence why chia seeds are a great pre-workout food.  Plus, they are quick and easy to consume.  I know chia seeds are the new superfood fad, but sometimes fads are worth a try if they really work.

Here’s some info about chia seeds:
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Provides sustained energy. Chia seeds are extremely absorbent, expanding up to ten times their original size when soaked in water and forming a gel-like substance. Because of this gel-forming action, chia seeds slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, meaning the carbs you eat will be able to fuel your body for longer periods of time. The regulation of carbohydrate release also stabilizes blood sugar levels. (Keep in mind that because chia seeds have almost zero carbs, you’ll still need to take energy gels before and during your workouts.)

Combats dehydration. Because chia seeds absorb thirty times their weight in water, they help regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes, both key in the battle against dehydration. For long workouts in high heat and humidity, chia seeds are a handy way to prolong hydration.

Reduces inflammation and joint pain. Omega-3 essential fatty acids (think fish oil) are a proven anti-inflammatory, and chia seeds are full of them. In fact, the Aztecs ate chia seeds to relieve knee pain. In addition to battling aches and joint pain, the essential fatty acids found in chia seeds alleviate skin problems, promote brain health, and have even been show to decrease the symptoms of hyperactivity disorder and hypertension.

Promotes weight loss. Because chia seeds are so high in fiber and nutritionally dense, they help you feel fuller faster and longer. The absorbent qualities regulate carbohydrate conversion, preventing blood sugar spikes and providing sustained energy. Recent studies have shown that, in addition reducing body fat, chia seeds also help prevent high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

Accelerates post-run recovery. Amino acids are the “building blocks of protein” while antioxidants are the ultimate defense against free radicals. Chia seeds are full of both. Eat them soon after your workout to jumpstart recovery.

So how do you eat chia seeds? Any way you want to. Chia seeds are ready to eat straight from the bag, unlike flax seeds, which have to be ground up in order to be digestible. Pour a tablespoon or two in your cereal, oatmeal, or smoothie. Sprinkle some over your salad, pasta, cous cous, or rice. Mix them in some cottage cheese or yogurt. The possibilities are endless.

Many people like to make a chia seed “drink” by soaking 1 or 2 tablespoons in a glass of water or fruit juice for 5-10 minutes. (As a rule, think 1-part chia seeds to 7-parts liquid.) The chia seeds will expand, forming a gelatinous mixture. The seeds have a very mild, slightly nutty taste. (If you drink the mixture in gulps, you wont taste them at all.)

As always, know your body. Don’t try anything new on race day or before key long runs. Remember that chia seeds are high in soluble fiber; that means they are filling and can impact your digestive tract. You may want to try chia seeds in small amounts until you learn how your body responds to the superfood.

Half Marathon, check!

I arrived just before the race started.  Snapped a quick pic and didn’t even have time to stretch before the gun went off.  Oops!

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It was foggy on the beach the entire time and in the mid 60s – perfect!  The whole race took place on the beach.  12 miles on the wet sand and then a 1 mile loop through dry sand and on some pavement.  During the first half of the race I listened to some great worship music and during the second half I switched over to a an upbeat club mix.

photo (10) - CopyI finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes which was exactly my goal for the race!

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I absolutely LOVED this experience!  It ended up being a lot easier than I had anticipated:  I ran the whole way and I smiled throughout the entire race as well.  Might sound strange but smiling while you run actually helps you run farther and faster according to the world class runners.  Plus I think the smiling was in part due to the adrenaline and the fact that I just to proud, happy and accomplished just to be out there doing something I never really thought I could or would do!

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Not sure when, but after this I am seriously considering doing a full marathon someday!

Negative Pregnancy Tests and Running

I’m four weeks deep into my half marathon training with eight more to go.  Today I ran 7 miles, which is the farthest I’ve ever run without walking in my whole life.  I felt unstoppable and fierce.

I got another negative pregnancy test this month.  On Mother’s Day.  After being seven days late.  It was terrible timing, causing the day to feel bittersweet.

Since then I’ve cut back on nursing and will probably have to stop nursing all together if these next couple months are unsuccessful as well.  It seems maybe the nursing is affecting my ability to conceive.

So I’ve been running.  It’s the perfect waiting tool.  If I’m not pregnant yet at least I’m going to run the darn longest race I ever did run, right?  I might as well go into my second pregnancy in killer shape and with a strong resolve.

I’m trusting in God’s timing and perfect plan for our family.

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And here’s a picture of a horse running because that is Cameron’s favorite animal right now.  He calls is a “wourse,” but he means horse.

My First Cleanse

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A few weeks ago I decided to do a cleanse.  Mostly because of my caffeine addiction.  I LOVE coffee.  In fact, I usually love it about twice a day.  But what I don’t love is when I drink a cup and then want to take a nap – which is what had been happening.

So one day while I was in Costco doing my normal shoppy-shop trip where I go in to buy one item or two and I come home with twenty, I saw a pack of cleansing juice in the refrigerated juice section.  I suppose it was a moment of impulse, but I bought two.  One for me and one for my unsuspecting husband.  The juices didn’t expire until July so I figured we would have a few months to build up the courage to try a cleanse.

When I got home I looked at the booklet that came with the juices to figure out what I had gotten myself into.  The cleanse consisted of three days of preparation and three days of the actual cleanse.  So altogether it was a six day cleanse.

First 3 Days:

No caffeine
No alcohol
No animal products
No artificial ingredients or sweeteners

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Last 3 Days:

Still keeping with the rules of the first 3 days, follow the meal plan and drink a cup of the provided juice three times per day.

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I know that cleanses are not some kind of magic, but I will tell you that I’m very glad I did it.  It was my first ever cleanse and I really did feel better towards the end of it (the first few days were slow and painful without caffeine).  It also helped me realize just how much processed stuff I was eating and showed me how healthier alternatives are really very doable.  We loved the roasted beet salad recipe that was for lunch one of the days and I plan to make it again soon.

My husband lost about 7-10 lbs that week surprisingly (no working out, just diet change) and I lost about 2 which I have since put back on purposely cuz I ain’t need dis butt to get no skinnier.

So who knows if we will do one again or when.  I’m thinking it might be something good to do once or twice a year if I start feeling sluggish or need to get back on track with more healthy food choices.

Also, while doing the cleanse I discovered Dandelion Root tea.  It’s supposed to be good for detoxing and I actually loved the flavor!  Been drinking it occasionally ever since.  Yum.

My First 10K


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I am now officially addicted to running!

The pump-up music before the race.  Tons of people in brightly colored clothing buzzing around and smiling.  Strollers and iPods and little 8 year olds that I know are going to school me.  Then there’s the adrenaline that kicks in and running never felt so easy.

Last Saturday Jon and I ran our first ever 10K.  The race took place on a stretch of beach.  Waves crashing, fresh sea air and dogs playing in the sand…

Can you tell that I LOVED it!?!?

In fact, I already signed up for another 10K that takes place a month from now and on Monday I started training for a half marathon in July that takes place on the same beach.  If my knees hold up then I will definitely be doing it.

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My friend Kristen, who is 20-something weeks pregnant beat us by about 8 minutes – crazy!  She’s a running machine!

Revision: How To Stop Texting While Driving

After writing this post called How To Stop Texting While Driving, I realized that not all the claims I made were true.  I found out that polarized sunglasses do not always make it hard to see a smart phone screen.  One pair of polarized sunglasses I had did make it difficult to read the text on the screen, but I found out that wasn’t true for all polarized lenses.  It did work on texting phones, but not on smart phones.

So the tip of wearing polarized sunglasses may be effective in some cases with some phones, but it’s not a universal tip as I once thought.

I apologize for any confusion this may have caused anyone.

~Erin

 

A Behind The Scenes Look At the Beef Industry

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In the past few months my husband has gone back to wearing Levi jeans and belts with bigger buckles.

It’s very attractive if you ask me.

But he’s not doing it to make me happy, he’s actually studying Agricultural Business at Cal Poly.

He’s now into his senior year and sprinting down the home stretch to degree-ville.  Woohoo!

It’s been really interesting hearing about all the things he’s been learning in his classes.  Sometimes he shares too much around the dinner table and I can’t finish eating my dinner, but for the most part, I’ve loved hearing about all the behind the scenes stuff.  Especially because over the past couple years we had watched a lot of those foodie/organic documentaries like Food Inc., Veducated, Forks Over Knives, TED Talks: Chew On This, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, and FoodMatters.  Some of the stuff we’ve learned through those documentaries has been great food for thought.  Other parts we’ve seen may be a bit misleading.

I remember sitting in the living room at my mom’s house during high school.  My sister and I were sitting on the floor, staring at the TV and in tears over the disgusting things being portrayed.  You probably know what kind of pro-vegetarian video I’m talking about.

It was repulsive.

However, through my husband’s education and his recent trip to an Oklahoma feed lot, I’ve been learning a lot about how slaughterhouses are actually run (and how some of the images from those videos have been distorted).  Money drives the beef industry.  Money drives the organic food industry.  I can’t speak for any animals other than beef and lambs right now because his classes haven’t covered pork or poultry yet, but what he has learned about the industry has been pleasantly surprising.

Did you know that an incredible autistic woman named Temple Grandin designed the slaughterhouses that process over 50% of the beef in this country?  There’s a great movie from 2011 starring Claire Danes called Temple Grandin.  I highly recommend it.  Most large slaughterhouses use her methods.  She designed these slaughterhouses to make the process of killing the cattle as humane, painless and stress-free as possible.

Why?

Because she said that cattle are here for us.  We raise them to eat them so we should treat them with respect.  “Nature may be cruel, but we don’t have to be,” Temple Grandin.

In her systems, the cattle don’t know what is happening to them so they remain calm all the way through the moment they are killed.

This is important for businesses because if cattle get spooked before they are killed, their adrenaline spikes and the meat becomes tough.  Tough meat can’t be sold for as much money as good, tender meat.  Also, if spoooked, the cattle might react and slam into the walls which leaves bruises.  All bruised meat must be cut off the cow and thrown away.  So beef companies make more money if the cattle is calm and stress-free up until the moment they are killed.  Therefore, I’m learning that the term “happy meat” might be more of a propogandus word than I previously thought.

It wasn’t always this way…throughout human history animals have been treated terribly.  Remember the book The Jungle?  This book, written in 1906, sparked public interest of humane treatment to animals in slaughterhouses.  But because of Temple Grandin, throughout the 80s and the 90s as her methods were put into practice, cattle have been treated more humanely than ever before.

Also, did you know that many of the regulations that slaughterhouses and feed lots have to adhere by are created by animal scientists who have the animal’s well-being as their top priority?

Further, the Humane Slaughter Act was passed in 1958 and has been revised many times ever since to ensure proper treatment of animals.

One of Temple Grandin’s largest contributions to the beef industry was her audit and management systems that ensure that the large plants are adhering to the regulations that go beyond even USDA regulations.  For the most part slaughterhouses are under video surveillance by auditors and have random auditor visits to check up on things.  Another thing you may not know: 100% of commercially slaughtered animals are inspected by full-time USDA inspectors, meaning that every single cow in this country is checked by a person for disease.  These USDA inspectors also check for any signs of ineffective or inhumane slaughter practices.  Remember, these USDA officials work for the government, not for the slaughterhouses, so every slaughterhouse has a third party present at all times of operation.

Up until 100 years ago, animals were routinely killed by having their necks slit while still alive.  Then the animal would bleed out.  In modern-day slaughterhouses, the animal is knocked out with a captive bolt (quick bolt to the brain) and rendered unconscious.  Then, the animal’s throat is slit and they bleed, while not feeling a thing.

Of course, this is not a peer-reviewed journal and I don’t have a lot of sources to cite for my research.  I’m simply sharing what my husband has shared with me around the dinner table.  He is learning this stuff from one of the most renowned Agricultural departments in the country and has spent time with people in various parts of the industry.

Another interesting fact: only beef that is labeled “grass-finished” has eaten a diet of only grass.  Beef labeled “organic,” “all-natural” or “grass-fed” still spends the last few months of their lives at feed lots eating corn.  “Regular beef” that doesn’t have a special label spends about twice as much time eating corn.

And my last fun fact: every single part of the cow gets utilized in large slaughterhouses except for the lungs and the fecal matter and partially digested food still inside the cow.

Anyway, this is a lot of information to throw at someone.  I don’t have some weird agenda in sharing this, but I wanted to share because based on a lot of the documentaries I’d watched I had begun viewing the beef industry as basically evil.  Maybe you’re in that same boat too.  Basically, the beef industry needs to hurry up and start informing the public about what is really going on behind the scenes because the vegetarians are beating them to it and so people are only hearing about one side.

In the past year I’ve gotten to know a lot more ‘aggies’ than ever before.  And the main thing I’ve noticed about all these people so far is a genuine interest and care for the animals.  I can’t speak for everyone, just for the people I’ve met.

Of course, every industry has room for improvement.  I’m sure over time, the meat processing industry will embrace new technologies and methods that will even further improve conditions for animals and procedures for processing meat.

So food for thought…

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Today I got to visit Jon’s meat lab with Cameron and my mother in law.  We came in late after the cow was already dead, but we got to see the process it goes through before ending up in those nicely packaged trays covered in plastic wrap at the grocery store.  (The Cal Poly meat processing plant is modeled after the large slaughterhouses).  It was amazing.  And weird.  But amazing.

I hope to have lots more info to share as my husband continues in his education and pursues a carrier in agriculture after graduating.

Peace.

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If you want to learn more about what I’m talking about, YouTube Temple Grandin beef.  

Finally Settled On A Homemade Deodorant

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Ok, this is my third and hopefully final post about deodorant.

My journey started here, with finding a store-bought deodorant in place of my antiperspirant.

Then my journey lead me here because someone at my local health food store recommended this regimen.

Now, finally, I’ve settled here.  With a homemade deodorant paste I found via Anchor Wife.  (Plus I added two drops of essential oil to create a scent that I loved).

Now I’m happy with what I’m using because it’s all-natural (to talc, no parabans, no artificial scents or colors), it smells good, it’s easy to apply in a paste form, and IT WORKS!

If you’re not into making your own, a company called Primal Pit Paste uses essentially the same ingredients – you’ll just pay a little more for them.