The Sky is The Limit

The Sky is The Limit

Part of the fun of reaching the empty nest stage of our lives is that we can take advantage of new adventures. And our bucket lists are long!

I am not as adventurous as my husband but I encourage him in his ideas and hobbies. One of his dreams was to skydive–and just a few days ago, on the 4th of July–he did just that!

It was quite exhilarating–and I did not even get on the plane!

I was very nervous while my husband was very excited.  He boarded the plane and I said my prayers.

But I have to confess that once the plane took off down the runway, my excitement also began to grow.

Twenty minutes later, as I watched the sky, a tiny dot jumped from the plane and he began his free fall.  I was stunned and excited and terrified all at the same time while MY feet were set firmly on the ground

The parachute opened and my husband floated beautifully back to earth and made a very graceful landing in a red, white and blue parachute.  He–and I–were smiling from ear to ear, that he had completed a goal on his bucket list.

And even now–a few days later–the excitement of the adventure is still with us.  What is also with us is the knowledge that for the rest of our lives the sky is the limit to what we want to do and accomplish.

It is a very good feeling to know that the only thing that holds us back is ourselves.  Luckily we are learning to let our hair down and go where the winds (literally) takes us.

This experience reminds us that, especially in this country, if we work hard there is nothing that we cannot do.

In this country–we have been able to have our home, educate ourselves and our children, become professionals and secure a comfortable and hopefully adventurous future.

In this country there is nothing a person cannot do–although I find a great deal of people wasting their time arguing and trying to change what is right, what is written, what is established and what is true.

I believe they have not created their bucket list and instead of working towards their goals and dreams they are floating about looking for what that ideal is.

You see, I truly believe that each bucket list is as different as the person who creates it. And it is best if you surround yourself with people that will encourage you in your completion of it instead of just being one in a crowd of people who all think alike.

Be original!  Be bold! And be you! We are all in the perfect time and place! The sky is the limit!

Have a great weekend!  Next week–I think we will work on those bucket lists!

Comment below or send me an email with your thoughts! I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

 

 

To GMO or Not To GMO

To GMO or Not To GMO

These days with all the misinformation and biased information we hear, I have been very skeptical of all that I previously thought I knew to be true.  So in true fashion I have been doing a great deal of reading and questioning and deciding what is true for me.

In my quest to eat healthier I have been reading, watching documentaries and following the news about Genetically Modified  Organisms.  And I am still not sure which side is the right side…

But I do know this–all of the negative reputation that has been brought upon GMO companies, GMO farming practices and GMO foods seems to be a  little over the top.

I remember the saying that if something seems to be too good to be true then it probably is.  And the negative stories of GMOs seem too perfect an argument to boycott the use of them.

After all, if you think about it, foods, specifically the seeds of the foods we grow, have been genetically modified for hundreds–probably thousands of years.

Granted, a thousand years ago, when farmers were choosing the seeds of the strongest plants or cross pollinating plants they were doing so slowly.  Not by choice but because they lacked the knowledge and technology to do it any faster.

The science, over time, has improved the way we grow food, given us the ability  to grow more food using less resources and that has given countries the ability to feed their people and for our country the ability to feed people all around the world.

I ask myself why this is a bad thing?

On the other side of this are the “realities” that question and have concerns about the safety of our food.  That GMO foods are affecting our bodies negatively producing obesity, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, and cancer to name a few.

So I have read a great deal and watch documentaries and informative videos (and will continue to read and watch) until I am satisfied with the information I am gathering.

I have yet to come across any scientific study that proves anything definitively about the GMOs.

Do I believe that people are now suffering from more lifestyle diseases like diabetes II, gluten sensitivities, heart attacks, and strokes?  Yes.  Do I believe that chickens and cows and other farm animals are grown under harsh and sometimes unsanitary conditions? Sure. Do I understand that the same pesticides that help our food grow strong and yield high amounts may cause us humans damage? Absolutely.

But what I don’t believe is that this whole industry is in existence to control the world’s food supply and ultimately cause the destruction of the world like it is depicted.

I am not a crusader–but I do question other crusaders: what are their motives?  Who are these people that ask, protest and try to convince the American people to boycott Monsanto and all the brands it owns plus the financial companies like Vanguard that have their financial holdings?

Are they really concerned with the well being of others or of advancing their own careers through the articles, books and movies they create?

Now–I am not saying that everyone should just eat whatever they think tastes good without checking labels, ingredients, and recommended serving sizes or that all GMOs are good and we should leave ourselves in the hands of these companies.

But what I am saying is that we are intelligent people and we should be careful what we believe.  We should look for the motives behind the movements that are currently raging in our society.

Could these people that are so vehemently against GMOs really be people that have been worked up by others that really want to destroy successful companies in an effort to disrupt the financial structures in our country?

Everything is interconnected.  There are bad people in the world–but I believe and have always believed that there are more good people than bad people in the world and that ultimately we are all striving for a better life. I do not believe that all the scientists trying to make better crops for our food supply are bad people.

So eat as healthy as you can eat.  Enjoy your life. And be careful about the information that is being fed to you!

Leave a comment, tell me what you think!  I appreciate everyone’s opinions!  If you like you can also email me at emptynestsaavy@gmail.com!  Have a great day!

Healing What Ails You

Healing What Ails You

Admit it…all of us have something wrong with us that we are trying to change.  And this may not be a sickness–but it is something that bothers us and we think about it all the time.

For some of us we may think we are: too tall, too short, too thin, too hippy, no hips, big chest, little chest, thinning hair, hair in places you should not have hair…

But for others of us we have pain in our backs, our joints, our neck. We are tired all the time and irritable. We get headaches, our allergies flare up–and not in a pretty way. We feel like the flu is coming on or maybe a cold. We are just not sure but we know something is wrong–so we go to the doctor.

And the doctors run tests, they check us over and they give us the diagnosis:  there is nothing wrong with us. Perhaps we are just over tired, stressed out. Get some exercise they say and try to eat better and they send us on our way.

Sometimes we believe them and go home–relieved–that we don’t have anything–even though we feel like we have something.

Sometimes we don’t believe them because we feel so lousy. So we go for a second opinion, or we seek out a nutritionist, a health coach, a trainer to whip us up into shape again.

There is a whole industry around fixing what is making us feel sick–but we overlook the most basic healer of all–ourselves!

We are the ones that made ourselves–and sometimes our families–feel sick. And luckily, according to the doctor, we are not sick–with a real diagnosable illness yet.

But if we keep doing what we are doing we are certainly headed for the lifestyle diseases:  diabetes, heart conditions, allergies, obesity, IBS, etc.

Some of us have these things but not to a level that shows up on the tests yet–just to a level in which makes us feel miserable because we know exactly what we are doing to our bodies.

Why did we do this to ourselves?  Well because it is easy and because it becomes an addiction.

Look in your pantry–if it looked anything like mine a few years ago–it is probably filled with boxes and bags, cans, jars and bottles. An abundance of food for our in a hurry, have to run out the door, lives.

If we start reading the labels on this abundance we will begin to realize why we feel so bad. And when I say we are addicted, I am really not kidding.  

We are addicted to sugar, to caffeine, to salt and a host of other things–including an addiction to getting our meals on the table quickly so we don’t have to waste time.

And these addictions are bad, because not only are they hard to break, but day after day, they contribute to even higher and more instense desire for the stuff that makes us feel sick.

This is what I did to get on the road to recovery in 2 steps, this was not easy and I struggle still but I am really starting to see the benefits.

1) I cleaned out my pantry and my refrigerator.

This happened in waves.  First and easiest–I took out everything that was expired or had been opened and abandoned and had gone bad.

Second, and to my shame, I ate the foods that were still good until we were out of them. I just could not throw things out.

Third, I stopped buying the stuff that is not good for us.  I started with chips and cereals, cookies, processed, boxed and canned goods etc. You get the picture.  

This process took me about 18 months. Mostly because there would be days when the sugary, processed, crunchy, salty fake buttery goodness stuff would find its way back into my home.

2) I started buying and making good foods.

The hardest part and my continued struggle today is finding good ideas for good meals that are interesting and tasty and easy to make.  For example, eggs are good for us and I love eggs but I cannot have eggs in every meal.

Plus I still like easy, fast meals to prepare and eat on the go!

I am continuously learning about nutrition to incorporate the best balance for me and my family.  

I have discovered protein drinks and shakes (and after trying everything on the market I could find–found a brand that works well for me!)

Now I am reworking all my recipes, and watching my portion size.  I’m still in Step 2.

But already I feel (and see) the benefits of these changes. I feel better, I have lost weight, I have more energy–many of my aches and pains have gone away.

And I did this myself!  I am healing myself by learning and changing for the better.  It did not happen overnight, but it did happen–I did it and so can you!

What challenges do you have in making the dietary changes you need to change the symptoms that ail you?  Drop me a comment or send me an email at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.

We only have one life–Have fun!  

My Morning Coffee

My Morning Coffee

I have been drinking coffee since my early teenage years.  Since I am now 50 that has been…well, a long time.

Depending on who you ask coffee can be good for you or coffee is very bad for you.  Like with anything else, I say that it depends.

If you drink 12 cups of coffee a day then I think it is safe to say that the coffee habit is probably bad for you.

But if you have one or two cups of coffee a day, my thought is that it’s probably okay.  

The older I get the more true the saying is that most things in moderation won’t hurt you.

There are benefits to coffee, most coming from the little jolt of caffeine that coffee offers. Caffeine helps stimulate metabolism, increase our wakefulness and give our brains a little shot of alertness.

The drawbacks of drinking coffee, even if you drink it in moderation, is not the coffee itself but all the things we add to the coffee: Sugar, creams, milk, non dairy creamer, and flavor shots to name a few all add calories, unnecessary fats and in some cases artificial flavors, colors and chemicals.

While my years of coffee drinking have not always been with the best cups of coffee–when you know better, you do better.

But for over 30 years I had a “cafe con leche” each morning.  This consisted of a full cup of whole milk, warmed on the stove or microwave, a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar.

This, of course, was creamy and delicious and gave me quite a jolt in the morning followed by a sugar crash a few hours later. Not good–but I’ve made the change.

Here are my two recipes for a healthy cuppa:

Expressive Espresso

Brew a 8 oz  pot of espresso coffee (my favorite brand is Cafe Bustelo) and add 1 stevia packet to sweeten.  Makes 4 2oz servings–sometimes I refrigerate any extra servings for the next day–just warm in the microwave. I can only have 2oz at a time–espresso really packs a punch!

American Brew

I like a mild columbian roast made in a traditional coffee pot.  Stevia to sweeten to taste, usually 1 packet. I only drink one cup, so unless others want coffee also, I make the smallest amount possible.

If a regular roast is not available or I am in a hurry I just put a coffee cup of water in the microwave and heat about 1 and ½ minutes.  Once hot, I add one teaspoon of instant coffee and ½ stevia packet and I’m done.

Easy…and no added stuff that masks the taste or changes the number of calories.  

So I hope, like me, that you are enjoying a cup of coffee when the mood strikes you and that you don’t let others decide for you what is good or bad for YOU.  

While most of us are learning and trying to live a more healthy life that does not mean–that with the proper information–we can’t make decisions for ourselves.

Enjoy your cuppa and have a great week!

Reach out with a comment about My Morning Coffee or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

 

The Skinny on Fats

The Skinny on Fats

The advertisers and marketers in our society have gone to great lengths to convince us that fats are bad for us to eat. Some of them are and some are not.

By scaring us into believing that all fats are bad–we buy into (and literally buy) all the fat free, light and trans fat stuff they advertise as healthy. First we need to understand what fats really are.  I thought I knew, but once again, I was wrong.

Like with everything else, there are the goods and the bads….

Bad fats are saturated fats that the body has a harder time breaking down. They are usually stored by the body (as fat) and can usually be found in processed foods. These fats can cause cholesterol levels to go up and can put us as a higher risk of cancer, inflammatory diseases and heart disease.

But guess what?  While saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and trans fat are very very bad for us–most cholesterol problems come from the processed sugar in our diets! Again from all the processed foods we eat.

That does not mean that I am recommending you eat saturated fats and stay away from sugar–I am recommending you stay away from processed foods as much as possible, because it has both!

The good fats though are very important to our bodies and we need them for the proper functioning of our bodies.  The goods can be found in meats, eggs (yes the yolks), and believe it or not the fat on pork.

Bacon lovers you can rejoice! Just make sure to find the best options for the good fat products that are available to you, for example, grass fed meat over corn fed.

Other good fats include avocados, walnuts, salmon, and cooking with extra virgin olive oil are another good source of the good fats that help our bodies.

So to make this completely confusing–if you want to lose the fat in your body you actually need to eat a balanced diet with more fat (the good fats).

But here is the really skinny part of fats–in my humble opinion it seems to me that we as a society are making things much harder than it needs to be.  

We drive ourselves crazy trying to find the “best” foods to eat while at the same time wanting the convenience and variety we have now. And there lies the problem.  There is too much of too much!

If we get back to basics and really look to eat as naturally as we can we can still have a great variety of foods that we enjoy without throwing our health to to wind.

When I think about my favorite foods–my mind always goes back to the things I most enjoyed in my childhood:  steak, chicken, rice, ripe tomatoes, fruit, vegetables.

All those things have the protein, the good carbohydrates and the good fats that we need. My mother has always cooked with olive oil or butter–but not in excessive amounts. Our tomatoes were plain or had a little olive oil and vinegar on them.

Rarely was anything deep fried or dripping with thick gravies. We ate modestly and we ate well. I never remember being hungry or unhealthy.

It wasn’t until adulthood and all the convenience of processed foods that my health started to change…and before you know it we spend years chasing back the health we already had and took for granted.

And that is my skinny–I’m getting back to basics.

What are your favorite foods–that may have been considered “bad” that turns out are not so bad?

Comment below or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

 

Carbs to the Rescue

Carbs to the Rescue

Ah Carbs!  The pleasure trigger of the taste buds and the bain of all the empty calories we consume.

Carbohydrates get a bad reputation as being the worst thing to enter our dietary lives–EVER!

But as with most things the majority of people are getting this wrong. This is mostly because they are not doing the research themselves because they are relying on all the sound bytes they hear…

And while I am just another sound byte–I have at least done my homework.

Carbohydrates are a necessary part of our nutritional plan. It is where we get our energy so we can, you know, do stuff.

If we were not getting energy from our food we would feel deflated and tired–all the time–and you would quite literally be unable to function.

If you are trying to lose weight many diets encourage you to cut out carbohydrates–completely.  

Many people grab onto that advice and cut out all carbs!  This does lead to weight loss but very often that weight loss is too much, too fast, can be very dangerous and is not sustainable.

Those diets fail–or I should say the people on those diets fail to reach their goals because they cannot follow the program long term as a lifestyle…I’ll discuss that next time.

Back to carbohydrates–we cannot survive without carbohydrates in our system everyday and this is why:

Carbs come in 3 main categories:

  1. Sugars or simple sugars like glucose, fructose etc. that are basically already broken down for us. These go into our system, give us a little zip of energy and then fizzle out quickly. Because they are simple it takes a lot of them to make us feel “full” or “satisfied” so we eat a lot of them.
  2. Starches are more complex sugars that need to be broken down by our digestive system to create the glucose our bodies need for energy.  So these carbohydrates take longer to break down and give us a slow burn of energy.
  3. Fiber.  Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by the body but is needed to aid digestion and to give us a happy gut and happy bathroom experiences. This, as you know, is super important!

When we eat too many carbs, the body can store some of them for future energy and turns them into fat. Not good.

In a nutshell–we need to eat carbohydrates that are complex and whole to provide us with that slow burn and with fiber. Processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in everything else are just empty calories that do not serve us!

The amount of carbohydrates that we need depends on the number of calories you need per day to reach your nutritional goals. I discuss that in a previous post called The Big Mac.

The best carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole fruits, potatoes, legumes and whole grains. It is important though to remember to watch the serving sizes and the preparation of these foods so that we don’t change a good carbohydrate into a fattening dish.

We also don’t want to eat so much of a good thing that we turn it into a bad thing by overloading our bodies with too much sugar–even from whole foods–that is needed in a day.

For people who are currently battling obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease a low carb diet can be life changing. And I think–especially given our current society–that this is important to mention.

And while a low carb diet may come to your rescue–we need to include the proper water intake, exercise and a host of other changes to our habits as a permanent life change for our rescue to be sustainable.

Remember that carbohydrates did not cause our obesity and a host of other health problems.  Our ancestors ate all kinds of carbs and were healthy–and thin!

Our ancestors, though, ate whole foods–not processed foods!  And there is a way to include whole foods and the science of convenience in processed foods to help us achieve both nutritional values and health objectives!!

While I am still digging for the answers–remember to take everything you know and understand to be true with a grain of salt. Do some discovering of yourself and what works best for your body–because no two bodies are alike!

Reach out with a comment or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

I am quickly learning that my curiosity about nutrition is very hard work which was not what I expected, but I have always enjoyed a challenge–and a challenge this certainly is.

Learning more about macro nutrients and how they impact the body has been an exciting ride–which I can’t seem to get off of–and today I am full of protein!

Protein is one of the important macro nutrients that we need to have for a healthy diet. Getting the right proteins and in the right amount is the trick.

Where do we get our protein, what are the best types of protein and how much is needed?

First–where do we get our protein?  I thought the easy answer was meat! Beef, chicken and pork are very good sources of protein, but they are not the only sources of high protein.

There is protein in dairy products like eggs, natural cheeses, yogurt, 2% milk, organic milks, and whey and casein protein powders (for protein shakes.)

Proteins can also be found in seafood like Halibut, Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Tilapia, Anchovies and Sardines–and in all kinds of beans: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and so on.

I was very surprised at the amount of proteins found in nuts and grains like almonds, walnuts, cashews, oats and brown rice. Who knew? Well, I think many people knew–but I didn’t or I wasn’t really paying attention.

How much protein does each person need?  If we remember that protein is needed to build and repair muscles, organs and our skin then it makes sense that we need a fair amount of that.

For a normally active person of normal weight 25-30% of your daily calories from protein would be a good amount. Once again, math will have to be involved in your plans.

That does not mean that I am advocating going out and having a couple of greasy hamburgers a day! While that may have a lot of protein–it also has a lot of other stuff that is not good for you!

Protein also has some magical powers if you are looking to lose weight. When you increase your protein the body’s metabolism increases–burning more calories faster–at the same time that you are feeling fuller and will then eat less of everything.  Magic.

On top of that, proteins help you build muscle mass, which will keep your metabolism at an optimal level to keep burning calories–even when you sleep!

The most exciting thing I have learned in recent days about proteins is that it helps create enzymes that not only repair muscles–especially after a workout–but it helps repair organ tissues.

There is a great deal of research that is showing that increasing your protein intake–as we get older especially–helps us lower blood pressure, and combat diabetes and since it helps maintain muscle–it keeps us stronger longer.

Can we over do it?  Of course, as with anything else–too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.  There is some evidence–although no real scientific proof yet–that if you have kidney disease, too much protein can be harmful.

But for a healthy person getting the right amount of protein each day can help you stay healthy, maintain a good weight, prevent muscle loss as we get older, and keep our metabolism working at optimal levels.

Most healthy women should have between 45 and 75 grams of protein a day and healthy men should have between 55 and 90 grams of protein a day.  The more active you are–the more protein you should have!

Living our best life is important to living a long healthy life–and being healthy and active is the key!

Think about how you can protein pack your days to a healthier you!

Leave a comment below or contact me on emptynestsavvy@gmail.com!