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Month: August 2016

Warning Signs

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Today’s post has taken me a while to write because it is very personal and concerns a journey I am on. My hope is that my sharing moments of vulnerability like this will encourage someone who comes across my story, let her know that she’s not alone, and give her the courage to try something new. I will be sharing as much as possible throughout every stage of this journey.

Please note that I am under the care of a food specialist, naturopath, and doctor as I walk this journey through.

When I look back over this past year, I remember so many moments when I knew there was something off with my body, but I couldn’t put my finger on it actually was. I battled many different symptoms, but life and hormones can be confusing after having a baby, so it was difficult for doctors or naturopaths to really nail down what was going on with my body. “Ride it out” was a common thread in the advice I received.

 

Five months ago, I was tested for ovarian cancer due to hot flashes, weight loss, increased heart rate, and stomach pain. Everything came back clear, and the doctors said the problem was probably my thyroid.

I tried a plant-based regimen to help with the stomach problems, and it did work! But I didn’t know how to make it work for my body with the physical demand of training, so I ended up going back to eating small amounts of meat and trying to incorporate more juice and vegetables into our life. And the stomach pain came back.

Seven weeks ago, I randomly passed a large amount of blood through my rectum after using the washroom. I was emotional after seeing the amount and immediately called Troy and work to say I needed to go to the doctor. My doctor was out of the office that day, but the wonderful nurses could sense the emotion in my voice and squeezed me in that day with another that doctor, who happened to be one of the moms from my oldest son’s school. After an examination, she said it was probably nothing but would send me in for a scope just to make sure.

The prep for the scope was not something I ever wanted to go through again, so I was praying that everything would come back all clear! I feel so blessed to have been seen by some of the nicest doctors, who were kind and patient when I felt so emotional. The doctor who did my scope, who was so amazing on every level, ended my appointment by being very honest and letting me know that they had found a larger-sized polyp that she was concerned about. She said that in her experience a polyp of this size indicated cancer and that she was rushing the results so they could take action quickly. She also told me to go back and thank the doctor who had taken more precautions and sent me in for this test. “We rarely see woman your age or in your physical category,” she told me, “because people dismiss the symptoms.” I’m young, I’m a fitness instructor, and I eat very well. Why would anyone worry about my health?! Including me.

The test was done on Tuesday, and by Friday we had results saying there were no signs of cancer but that I needed to go in for a colonoscopy to really check things out. Well, we cried, celebrated, and thanked Jesus for the most amazing results! I don’t ever want to forget the relief I experienced that day, not only because it had felt like we were walking through a bad dream as we’d waited and walked through the previous two weeks, but because I had seen Jesus show up in so many ways as we’d waited, prayed for peace, wisdom and the joy to get through each day, and spent that time with three demanding children who know when Mommy is off.

After the celebrations, we prepared our hearts and my body for a colonoscopy. I will not lie: this was also among most non-fun things I have ever done. I don’t enjoy any type of cleansing, so having my body totally stripped of everything for weeks as they did these tests started to wear on me. But we got through it.

They removed the larger polyp, which ended up having been two that had grown together, and now we would have to wait for the results. I felt like we were in the clear, given that previous report had indicated no signs of cancer, but I decided to start doing my own research on why the body was growing polyps.

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This past year, I had taken a course with Dana Skoglund called Align and Thrive because I knew there was something going on with my body. I felt like this was the perfect way to dig into some of my symptoms and figure out what I could do on a daily basis to change my habits and lifestyle in an achievable and maintainable way. Doing things like tongue scraping, dry brushing, warm oil massages, and eating foods that really fueled and supported proper gut function became daily activities for me. I’ll be discussing each one of these habits into detail throughout this process, but one of the major takeaways for me was learning to really listen to my body—to not sweep things under the rug and to pay attention to things as little as tongue scraping, which can tell you about where your body is at. I ended that course right before this journey began, and I’m so thankful I took it because I finished it feeling that I was ready to really dig in and get serious about supporting my body and not just putting Band-aids on things.

I contacted Jacqui Perry from FoodWorks and immediately started my journey on heeling my gut and changing my life before I even know what the results were from my colonoscopy. We had known for a long time that there was a problem with my gut due to my hypothyroid condition, which was diagnosed nine years ago. If you know anything about the health of the thyroid, then you also know that it is directly connected to the gut. But the information surrounding healing the gut can be controversial and confusing. Jacqui had been recommended to me many times over the years by naturopaths, people in the health field, and friends who had taken her courses. She is pretty much the master of fermented foods and plant-based diets, and she really digs into every avenue of why your body is struggling to work at its fullest potential. During the two weeks of waiting for my results, I began a journey of going totally plant-based, incorporating lots of fermented foods and anti-inflammatory drinks into my diet to help my body heal. Regardless of the test results, I was going to change my life and dive into fully healing my body.

One week ago, we received the test results and learned that my polyp was precancerous. I will have to go through routine colonoscopies every couple of years to make sure that I don’t end up with full-blown colon cancer. My doctor was very serious and was not really interested in the lifestyle changes I was choosing to make. I’m not mentioning this to make her sound like a bad doctor—I do actually love my doctor! But she really felt that my personal work would not do much for my body in this situation and that I would end up having cancer if I ignored her advice.

Although I respect my doctor, I do disagree. Study after study, not just in “natural medicine” but also in cutting-edge cancer clinics, prove that food plays a major part in our healing process. Why would we wait to take action, not change our habits, and hope for the best? Our bodies were created to heal, but how can a body heal without the fuel and support to do so? Do I believe in miracles? Yes, but I also believe in wisdom and making smart decisions when you’re given warning signs. This is my warning sign—and to be honest there were tons, also, before those results came in!

So as I begin this journey, I invite you to walk with me. I know some of my readers may chose the unfollow button based on my decision to go plant-based, choose alternative medicine, or believe in a God who I know is walking this journey with me through the good and the bad days. And I want you to know that is okay. We are not meant to be a part of everyone’s journey or see things the way others see them.

If you do chose to follow along, know that I will be as honest and personal as I feel comfortable doing. This is all new for me, so I will make mistakes. I’m sure I will accidently eat something I shouldn’t, and I’m okay with that. It’s part of the journey, and that’s just what it is—a “journey.” It won’ t be perfect today or tomorrow, but I’m eager and willing to learn along the way.

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This has honestly been one of the craziest and scariest things I have ever gone through. I have three beautiful children, and even the thought of not seeing them grow into the amazing humans they will be is enough to take a mother’s breath away. I’m their protector, cheerleader, and the one who holds them when they are hurting. We cannot do life apart! I’m so thankful for an amazing husband who has walked these days out with me and allowed me to feel scared, cry, and be vulnerable in every way. I would love to tell you I have gone through every part of this journey so far with faith that everything will be okay, but the reality is that I’m human and I’m also a mother is fiercely loves her tribe. If that is not motivation enough to change your habits, I don’t know what is!

I’m also beyond thankful for the friends and family who have walked out these days of uncertainty with us. You are loved beyond words, and you can’t place a price on friendships like yours. We will forever hold you close.

I saw this quote recently and felt it was perfect for this post.

 “Sometimes what appears like an obstacle in your path is really a gift meant to move you in a better direction.”

Author unknown

Thank you for your support~~*

xoxo

Rachel

 

Photography By: Abbie Roseedit-0116

 

Stuffed Avocados

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As we say goodbye to Kelowna and prepare for new adventures in the Vancouver area, our nights have been filled with catching up with friends over dinner and night boat rides. With so many evenings of entertaining over the last month, meal planning and fitness goals could have quite easily got off track. So as we headed into these last crazy busy weeks, I made it a priority to plan out our meals. I recently gave up all animal products so I have been getting adventurous in the kitchen and trying new dishes out on my daring and loving guests. These delicious stuffed avocados are one of my new favourites. On this particular night I served them in the avocado skin with a garlic/balsamic dressing drizzled over them.  The following evening, we made a huge salad with them paired with  a ranch dressing to offset the smokey taste of the paprika chic peas.

Enjoy~~*

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Stuffed Avocados:

  • 1 can BPA free chickpeas drained and rinsed (I used a large can so I had left overs)
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 large avocados with
  • 1 cucumber
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon

Directions:

Once your chickpeas are rinsed and drained, place them in a medium size bowl with paprika, coconut oil, salt and pepper. Mix until chickpeas are covered in mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Scoop out the inside of your avocados, chop remaining ingredients and mix all together to fill your avocado skins. Top with a dressing of your choice.

 

 

 

Twix Bars

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I would love to be the mom that has children who play calmly while I bake, cook and clean. My reality lately, though, is I come out of these simple tasks with crazy eyes and amazingly sweaty, all while wondering how things got so crazy?! Raising three children is no joke and it is not for the faint of heart. Dear Martha Stewart Mom, I tip my hat to you and envy you for the lack of sweat you have smelling up your body right now.

Okay, so now that we got that out of the way, lets talk about how to survive your health journey without losing your mind.
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Here are my tips:

  • Put 3 hours per week aside to successfully prep healthy foods for the week.
    • They may fight you on this at first, but when the kids are actually enjoying the food they are eating and aren’t starving by Tuesday, they will love you and help to protect those hours.
  • Triple your recipes. 
    • No matter what it is, make 3 of them and freeze them!
  • Get the kids involved.
    • I want the kids to feel like their opinions matter on what we do or do not eat. They get to pick out snacks they make themselves now or recipes they want to try. This helps with distractions while I get prepping done, helps eliminate stress, and I get to remind them it was their choice when they don’t want to eat it.

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These Twix bars are currently stocked in our freezer for dessert nights, treats for the kids, and are a perfect pairing for nap time coffee.

Enjoy~~*

I found this amazing recipe on Bakerita and had to remake it. It did not disappoint! FullSizeRender (3)

Ingredients:

I purchased all my ingredient for this recipe at my local Natures Fare Market.
For the shortbread crust:
For the caramel filling:
  • ½ cup creamy almond butter
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the chocolate topping:

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 14×5” tart pan or 8×8” square pan with coconut oil (I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper as well if your pan doesn’t have a removable bottom).
  2. Combine coconut flour and salt in a bowl. Add the maple syrup and stir until fully combined and crumbly. Add the room temperature coconut oil and mix until a large dough ball forms, pressing out any clumps of coconut oil. I used my hands at the end to bring the dough fully together.
  3. Press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let cool completely.
  4. For the filling, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until all of the ingredients are melted and throughly combined. Pour over the crust and let cool in the refrigerator until set before topping with chocolate layer.
  5. For the chocolate topping, whisk together all of the ingredients and pour over the cooled caramel layer. Smooth evenly and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let cool until set. Slice into 1-inch slices, or 16 squares. Keep stored in the refrigerator

Mom Body

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I’m extremely grateful that the high-waisted yoga pant thing became a trend after baby number three! I remember looking at my belly months after Adelaide and thinking, “Will things ever look normal again?” There were a few factors standing in the way of this:

Stretched skin

Belly button hernia

Ab separation

 

Photography by: Abbie Rose

Mom and Baby yoga pants by: Hot Dame & Gypsy Skulls 

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To be honest, I definitely did not feel as inspired to move my butt post baby three as I had before. I was suddenly so busy chasing these three little ones that the idea of setting aside time seemed overwhelming on most days. (That sentence in itself is a huge other blog post…) But for today I’m going to keep things light and simple and talk about a few things that really inspired me to move the body, get my abs back, and feel comfortable in my own skin again.

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  • Play

This is a word that, once again, requires a blog post, but we will just lightly touch on it today. I think that for some of us this word is so huge, and we don’t even know what to do with it. Maybe you grew up in a home where play was not celebrated, or maybe as an adult you have set up so much structure in your life that you have forgotten the love and inspiration behind this word.

Regardless of your reason or history, play may be one of the most important investments you make in your life. Play is the source of our creativity, our personal outlet where we find joy and allow ourselves to truly let go. Letting go of all the standards, expectations, and rules around movement is one of the best ways to get your body moving post baby. Often, if an activity isn’t associated with going to a gym or studio or doesn’t have the word “workout” attached to it, we write it off as being ineffective in our journey back to the post-baby jeans. In reality, however, when we allow ourselves to feel and experience the joy and pleasure of play, we are happier and more effective moms/wives and individuals. When we operate in this emotional space instead of in the space of rules, we make decisions that fuel our body in a healthier or more productive way. We start to view what we put into our bodies as fuel instead of using food as a coping mechanism, we chose healthier environments and relationships, and we learn to be careful about the language we use about ourselves. Play is currently a journey I’m on (future blog post) but the one thing I have realized so far in this journey is that as I have learned to laugh I have also learned to love the skin I’m in. This body can do some pretty cool things—I now have a much deeper respect for it and take far deeper joy in it. In short, I like myself more.

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  • Invest in new mom clothes.

I love fashion. I love the freedom it gives us to express ourselves and make the body an individual canvas, so for me finding time and space for shopping post baby is very important. I have become very choosy over the years about where and in who I invest my money in terms of fashion, so this has slowed my spending down a lot! But dressing my post-baby body in clothes that fit, flatter my new frame, and allow for effortless mom movement changes everything about my day. For me, self-love is about celebrating everything I have become along this journey of motherhood. When we celebrate the new skin we are in and shift our focus from what we are not to a stance of gratitude, it changes everything about our journey. Do I need clothes or material things to feel good about myself? No I don’t, but I also know that if I take a small portion of funds to invest in celebrating what my body has become instead of what it’s not, I will feel more confident in facing my workouts, mom dates, play dates, and meetings because I feel good about the investment I have made in myself.

I love that fitness wear is one of the most popular looks in fashion right now. Throwing on a good-fitting t-shirt with some yoga pants and a great pair of New Balance is my jam! Looking stylish while mommying it hard truly brightens up my day and helps this mom feel like she hasn’t completely lost it. I also feel better hitting the gym knowing I don’t look like I got hit by a train. (Okay, maybe I still look like that more moments then not!) But whatever!

Here’s the bottom line: When we feel good and celebrate what we are, we’re more open to saying yes to getting back to our gym workouts, time with friends, and moments that help us cope with mom life. Is a good outfit really that powerful? For me it is, and I want to celebrate every stage of the skin I’m in instead of waiting until I’m the perfect size, have the perfect belly, or have the perfect butt to I enjoy this canvas.

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  • Suck it up.

I’m going to give it to you tough here. Life is not easy, things are not always fun, and sometimes getting to where you are going requires some sweat. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about your workout habits. I’ve heard tons of people say, “If it isn’t fun, don’t do it!” Although I believe in having fun and that your workouts ideally should be fun, the reality is that sometimes they are just regular workouts and you need to be okay with that and stop whining. Working through your weakness requires you to step outside of your comfort zone—working through moments that lack of excitement and embracing some sweat. I promise that you can handle 10 minutes of discomfort, and that’s all I’m asking of you, but for those 10 minutes you must choose what is going to challenge you the most. What’s going to leave your breathless, sweaty, and feeling great once it’s done? Because this isn’t just about burning calories! This is about proving to yourself that you can do it, that you are strong enough, and that no matter how hard things get, you can work through discomfort. As North Americans, we tend to run away from any type of discomfort, when in many cases it should be what we are running to. We are not meant to be soft, uninspired woman who quit easily. We are moms/wives and friends who daily face crazy struggles, so your workout is just training ground for what you emotionally and physically face on a daily basis. When things get tough, your brain and body are going to remind you that you don’t quit and you’re not easily distracted from achieving your goals. Girlfriend, pick up the sweat towel, fill your water bottle, and sweat! You are working towards way more than that perfect body!

Plus, the good news is that as you sweat, groan, and face those workout demons, you are also one step closer to your physical goal (whatever that may be).

What’s my workout goal, and why do I keep moving through the discomfort?

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I want my children to see that I worked hard and didn’t give up when it got tough.

I want to be the mom who can support my kids when they need a workout partner when they are training for their own goals.

I want to finally take backpacking trips around the world when we are empty nesters and know my body is up for it.

I want my body to feel good when I stand naked in front of the mirror, not because it’s perfect but because I take the time to take care of what I have been given.