Frog Fat in my Head

The excess fat bananas I observed in the dissected frogs also metaphorically clouded my efforts at healthy food planning for my family.  Sometimes the fat weighing us down isn’t located in our trunk, but rather crowds our brains.

Being  “domestically impaired” and the marketing type who has a big vision, I have been to seminars on more than one occasion, where  I’ve been asked to visualize my ideal lifestyle with no holding back.  Inevitably, having a personal chef to do all of my grocery shopping and food preparation and clean up always prominently displayed in my personal life-of- the -rich-and-famous scene.

With the pace of life notching up with all three kids in activities, me going from a part-time to full-time work schedule, and feeling the intensity of my husband’s work,  I began to convince myself that my dream of having a personal chef to have some lifestyle balance was not just a fantasy but the only way we would experience pleasant, tasteful family meals.

But then I heard that quiet whisper of our friend, the Holy Spirit.  The idea popped in my head that I could call Dianne Greenleaf, a dietician I had used in the past, for a quick session just to get some suggestions on family-friendly, healthy, quick meal planning ways for busy moms like me.

In less than an hour Dianne had laid out a powerful system of family menu planning.  Each day had a meal theme with five recipes per day to be rotated over five weeks.  I added the tool of creating my own meal planning notebook with copies the winning five recipes for added convenience.

It worked like a charm.   Making the grocery list did not involve carting over five to six cookbooks, but rather involved perusing my meal planning notebook.  I was still cooking, but it went much quicker when I consistently knew what I was going to make, how much time it would take to make it, and with all the ingredients on-hand.  Also, the whole family gradually started to veto the “dog” recipes, so that the only ones that remained in the notebook were family approved, sparing me of the exasperating, “I don’t like that” at the dinner table.

Again, I felt like a lean, green, machine with my new system from Diane.  The fat clogging my brain was the fat of confusion and the fat of convincing myself that cooking  quick, healthy, kid-friendly meals was impossible for a busy person like me.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip:  Don’t let confusion or pessimism lower the quality of your family or marital life.  Take a step to squelch the fat and get clarity from someone who has gone there before you.

Systemizing Your Health

For the Domestic Divas in the audience, your reaction to this blog might be, “And…?”  But if you are like me, very busy and unskilled at some of the basic everyday tasks, dietician Diane Greenleaf’s suggestions on how to create a smooth system to deliver healthy meals to your family day in and day out will deliver just those— healthy, good tasting foods to please your crew with minimal time investment.

Like basically everything else in life, it’s about systematizing:  creating efficient systems with clear,   steps and repeating those with increasing speed and practice.  Good systems deliver high quality while leaving you with more time to be with your friends and family.

Dianne suggested I designate a certain kind of meal for each day of the week.  For the Weber’s we have  soups and salads on Sundays, an easy 30-minute-or-less meal on Mondays, a fish or beef dish on Tuesdays, International night  on Wednesdays, chicken or pork on Thursdays, a casserole on Fridays, and a Crock Pot dish for Saturdays.  Dianne’s suggestion that I prepare my items for the Crock Pot the night before and put the entire Crock Pot in the refrigerator at night proved to be a huge time saver, particularly when Saturday is my long, all-day work day.

Dianne suggested that I collect five recipes for each category.  I am in the process of creating a notebook with all of my preferred recipes.  Recipes that make it to the notebook are family approved, minimizing the typical dinner-table revolt.  Familiar recipes facilitate easier preparation without boredom.  Diane pointed out we could rotate having one of the five soups each week.

Sprinkling other ideas on what snack and breakfast items to provide for the kids continues to be a work in progress to implement.  But the peace of mind that comes from having a structure that fits my life and knowing what’s for dinner beforehand, frees me up to be more present for my family.

God gives us body and soul intentionally.  Learning the proper way to maintain them often requires that we learn from each other.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip:  Systematize something that is taking time away from your relationships and impeding satisfying the wants and needs of your loved ones.

The Gastronomic Miscalculation

In my previous blog Home Sweet Home, I shared my secret sauce of fusing fun and other warm fuzzies with faith to create a powerful bond that will keep our kids on track with in their Catholic faith their entire lives.  I alluded to a serious miscalculation in my strategy:  I underestimated the consequences of not reaching my kids through their stomachs.

My love for eating  great and healthy food fuels my motivation to cook.  But honestly, my preference would be to have a fancy microwave like the one on Star Trek where I could program the meal I want and have it magically appear in 15 seconds.

Desiring to pass on good healthy eating habits to my family but not having full confidence I was eating like I should, several years ago I enlisted the help of local dietician Dianne Greenleaf.  In a couple of short sessions her instructions propelled me to a low-stress healthy eating.

But Dianne’s assistance  didn’t translate in my passing on my healthy food habits to my kids in the way I hoped.  Not being a domestic diva amplified the problem.  Fumbling with my poor homemaking  skills with my busy schedule I would put together meals, but they were often bland and unappealing.

The worst was when I tried the Jillian Michaels recipes.  I liked them, but they were very adult.  The dread on my kids’ faces when I would serve one of those meals resulted in a low calorie intake and in some cases, a complete fast.

Discouraged spending time cooking meals often with no takers, I once again admitted defeat.  My attempts to create a loving home with warmth and all the good things in life was backfiring. The kids were sneaking snacks in anticipation of cruddy meals and our family health quotient was going down, not up.

An inspiration prompted me to call Dianne again to get help with meal planning for a busy mom with food traumatized children.  For you non-domestic divas, tune into the practical tips Dianne gave me to help turn things around.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip:  Create strong bonds with the people in your life by understanding and meeting their wants and needs.

Battle of the Bulge (Part 3)

In the previous blogs I mentioned a couple of the “inner games” (mina to link previous posts) that operate when people have issues with weight control: not being concerned and being overly concerned. Regardless of the camp that you or a loved one fall into, the Catholic Church has resources to take you to the next level.

For the sensual person who doesn’t want to be bothered with any food restrictions or clamors to exercise, the Catholic Church’s call to universal holiness can be the hook to snag you in. As Christians we are called to be the salt of the earth. When we settle for foggy emotions, poor clarity, and laziness that not moving and eating more than our body needs can engender, we are taking the punch out our salt. We’ve lost the zip, the edge that can take us and those around us from good to great.

The recipe for the sensual person is to just do one thing. And the Church has already figured this out with an entire liturgical season called Advent. By setting one goal to do something additional or sacrifice something, we are on our way to getting out of the mediocrity that feeding the beast without recourse begets. That little bit of “mortification’ — aagh what a horrifying word— can actually be your friend. When Advent is over or when you have mastered that habit (whichever comes first) you focus on the next habit to conquer, and the next, and the next, etc.

For the self-critical perfectionist, learning to love oneself exactly as you are is key to successful weight control. The foundation work is to create a healthy eating plan with the help of an objective dietician combined with determining —either alone or with a health professional—what is an appropriate exercise plan for you. Once that is done, the focus should be on creating and nurturing loving relationships with the people in your life along with setting boundaries with those who have not been so loving. Learning to explore in moderation, non-caloric pleasures such as reading, taking bubble baths, naps, etc. lifts the overly concerned woman into a life filled with self-acceptance, joy, and love.

We are all unique with our individual issues. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Taking time to honestly evaluate where you are with weight control and what you need to do with it continues the transformation process God invites you to cooperate in every second of your life.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Don’t let excess food and pounds interfere with the mission God has for you. Honestly assess and take action.

Battle of the Bulge (Part 2)

My coach Ryan says success is 90% the inner game and only 10% actual technique. Weight loss exemplifies that how we think, perceive, and prepare to act determines how we ultimately act and the results we gain from those actions. So as we look at the inner game of winning the battle of the bulge you must ask yourself which fight you are fighting.

When weight is too high and / or is getting higher, look to two root problems. First, there’s the problem of the person who doesn’t care enough. Second, there’s the problem of the person who cares too much.

The person unconcerned about his or her overweight condition minimizes or is ignorant of the dulling effect of even a little bit of additional unneeded food on the sense, the emotions, and the insights. Often attachment to sensuality is in play. The person wants to enjoy whatever they want at the moment and avoid any unpleasant activities, such as exercise. The desire to satisfy the senses trumps any dislike of excess weight.

On the other extreme is the person who is overly concerned with her weight. Thoughts of losing weight, not following the “diet”, being unhappy with her physical appearance, even frequent comparisons to others, permeate and erode at her being fully present for the people in her life. This person often results to tactics like low-calorie diets that actually foul up her metabolism, making it harder for her to get her weight down. Being “overweight” is so unpleasant to this person that a sense of urgency and panic can ensue, triggering attraction to programs offering immediate to quick results in place of balanced and healthy diet combined with an active lifestyle. The result typically is unsuccessful weight loss efforts and mediocre relationships.

If chronic challenges with weight control are an issue for you, it should be clear which camp you fall into. Tune in next time to see how to master these inner games using the full arsenal of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Ask yourself the consequences if you are either ignoring or obsessing about a weight control issue.