What is One Simple Change?

Recently I had the opportunity to share a little bit about my health journey at an event at our local specialty olive oil and vinegar shop, The Leaning Ladder. This event was sponsored by Juice Plus+, and was all about simple changes we can make in our health journey and how all of these little changes add up to make a big impact on our health. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, I wanted to share what I spoke about that night as well and to give you a little bit of a background of where I’ve come from and the hope I have for mine and my family’s health in the future!

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Just to give you a little bit of a background about myself: I grew up relatively healthy, with the exception of asthma, allergies, and in September of 2013, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (which is a hormonal imbalance that causes irregular cycles and makes it very difficult for many women to conceive.) I had never given much of a second thought about what I ate or how I took care of my body.

But my eyes began to be opened in the Fall of 2008, when I transferred to Liberty University from KSU and moved out on my own for the first time. Turns out that my faster metabolism didn’t follow with me to college, and I started to gain weight that I had never experienced before. Not an exorbitant amount, but it definitely shocked me when I started seeing the pounds pile on. —This is how clueless I was: My roommate and I were over at her boyfriends apartment hanging out with a large group of friends. On a routine trip to the restroom, I decided to weigh myself on the scale in the bathroom. It had been several months since I had stepped on a scale, because, like I said, I wasn’t concerned about what I ate or how much I exercised because it had never really affected me before. It said I weighed 20 POUNDS more than I remembered weighing 4 months prior to that. I quickly decided the scale was broken and decided it would be a good idea to announce to everyone at the apartment that his scale needed fixing because it was waaayyyy off from what I weighed. He sheepishly told me that it was definitely correct and the more I argued with him, the more embarrassed I got realizing I was probably wrong and all those chicken tenders and fries and pizza were probably finally catching up with me. Needless to say, I decided then and there to start paying attention to what I was eating and put an ounce of effort into some kind of regular physical activity. Never again did I want to be that oblivious to the state of my own health.

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The Delusion:

The rest of college I did alright, not over indulging (most of the time) and not being a health freak either. I did all the things I thought were the smart ideas…. I bought the low calorie, low-fat, fat-free, no sugar added, diet, etc. items at the grocery store and felt good about paying attention to labels and advertisements for the hottest trends of what was “healthy.” I was completely clueless about the fact that I was a victim of brilliant marketing and even though I might not have been gaining weight on the outside, my insides were not getting any healthier. I thought the less calories something had, the better it was for me…so I would have a bowl of oatmeal sweetened with Splenda almost every day and mixed in some artificially flavored strawberry yogurt, went on my merry way to the gym where I would get in a solid workout and give myself a pat on the back.

In the grand scheme of things, what I was doing was at least making an effort. I did care. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to look good in my wedding dress and sport an awesome bikini on my honeymoon. All of these things I would say that I did accomplish. However, it wasn’t until after I got married that I started learning what healthy really meant.

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The Beginning of Change:

Becoming more educated about food in general was not an overnight epiphany. It was a long process that I’m still experiencing. I didn’t have a defining moment that is marked in history as the day the lightbulb went off, but as I look back of the last several years, I can see one simple change at a time that I started to make.

I nannied for a family that only bought fresh sliced deli meat, instead of the pre-packaged deli meat. It tasted better, so I decided we would start there—not buying pre-packaged deli meat anymore, but buying it as fresh as we could get it. I knew it was more expensive, but I decided we needed to start investing in healthier habits somewhere, and that’s the only place I could think of, so that’s what we did. One simple change.

Then I learned that Splenda and other zero calorie sweeteners were actually poison and I began to remove those from my diet. As soon as I did I noticed my head felt clearer. When I would go back and eat something with artificial sweetener in it again, it would give me headaches. So I decided to nix that from our kitchen as well. One more simple change.

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Reading Nutrition Labels:

Slowly but surely I began to learn how to read nutrition labels. I learned that the more ingredients were listed on something, the less healthy it was for my body. I read articles about ingredients that are banned in other countries but still allowed in America. I thought to myself, if Red #40 and Yellow #5 are banned in the entire European Union, why are they not banned here, and why am I voluntarily putting this in my body? And just like that, the amount of artificial coloring I consumed was dramatically decreased as much as was in my control.

Instead of looking at the nutrition label and only looking at the amount of calories, grams of fat, sugars, proteins, and carbs, I decided I would start looking at the ingredient list. Before I ever put a box or can of anything in my cart at the grocery store, it has become second nature to flip it around and check out the ingredients. Artificial flavors? Going back on the shelf. High fructose corn syrup? No thank you. Artificial colors? Definitely not. I began to realize that just because something is labeled as a diet food, doesn’t mean it is healthy. When you look at the amount spent on advertising these foods, you get an eery feeling that these companies might be more interested in profit than in the actual health of their consumers. Listen to these numbers:

In 2012, 4.6 BILLION dollars was spent on all fast food advertising. 

Companies spend $1.79 BILLION annually to market food to children with only $280 million for healthy foods.

Advertising and marketing always got me. I believed it. But then I started doing the research and learned that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, berries, grains. The closer my food was to it’s natural state, the way God created it in nature, the better for me it was going to be. When I started thinking about it in that context, everything changed.

God created food for us to enjoy and to sustain us and give us life, but if we are not careful, what we are consuming is not the food He created…it is a manufactured, chemically altered, lab-concocted product being masked as an easy fix. I just decided that I wanted to make that simple change of REALLY paying attention to what I put in this body God has given me. By doing that one thing, of taking a few extra seconds to look at ingredient lists, I’m proactively making the decision to say no to the things that are going to hinder my health journey, and yes to the food that is going to fuel my body and give it the nutrition it needs to do what it is supposed to do.

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Juice Plus+: 

And that’s where Juice Plus has helped me tremendously over the last several months to help bridge that gap of the whole foods in the fruits, veggies, and berries, that I just couldn’t consume enough on an every day basis. I had heard of Juice Plus several years ago and loved the idea of it, but never looked close enough at the clinical research to make the decision to try it. But when Katie told me that it really is just whole fruits, vegetables, and berries in capsule form, and that she wouldn’t put it in her body if it wasn’t legit, then I decided to go for it. Juice Plus just made sense to me. I felt like it was impossible to eat as much of the whole foods as I needed to be at my healthiest. And with having a super picky eater for a husband, we knew we needed to add this in our every day routines.

Now I know that every single day my body is being flooded with the nutrients that it needs to function and thrive how it should. I’ve noticed a significant increase in energy, stronger nails, clearer skin, clearer thinking, practically zero allergies, and even my exercise induced asthma is significantly decreasing. My husband, whose sinuses were so bad that he had to have sinus surgery when he was 9 years old, have dramatically improved and he no longer snores at night and he hasn’t gotten a sinus infection since we started Juice Plus. My 6 month old daughter has eczema, and just through what she is getting from the breastmilk, it is clearing up and less and less inflamed. There is a reason the clinical research backs up what I’m experiencing: because JP actually is what it claims to be.

I first started in the business to cover the cost of our product, but now after falling in love with the product, I can’t help but share it. When you love something and believe in something, you share it with the ones you care about. I can’t say enough about the peace of mind I have from doing these tiny simple changes that I know are adding up. I know that these simple changes matter and will continue to have positive effects on my health and the health of my family for years to come.

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{Katie, Me, Amy Leigh, and Jill}

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{Dana, Amanda, Katie, Me, Valerie, Amy Leigh, Jill}

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 Tower Garden, able to grow over 20 different fruits, vegetables, lettuces, herbs, and flowers. SO COOL.

A New Adventure

Hi friends! I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know about a new adventure I’m beginning. I decided to write about it on my blog so that I could go into a little bit more detail of why I’ve decided to do this and give a little bit of detail for those of you who are interested 🙂

Ready? I have decided to start selling Juice Plus+! (I’m sure there are some eyes already rolling), but I am very excited about this new endeavor. I’ve been curious about and interested in Juice Plus for several years now and been looking deeper into it for about a year. It’s one of those products that I was curious about ever since I first heard of it and that I just started gaining respect for the more I learned about it. For those of you who don’t know, Juice Plus+ is literally a capsule of fruits and vegetables. That’s it. Over 20 fruits and veggies per serving, and nothing else. Nothing added. Nothing concocted, just fruits and veggies. It is basically a way to bridge the gap between the fruits and vegetables that we do eat and the amount we should be eating. Nothing fancy or sketchy. Not a replacement for fruits and vegetables, but a capsule full of even more fruits and veggies to add to your intake.

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So why did I decide to start selling it? Several reasons. Everyone knows there’s about 103 businesses and products out there that you can “sell from home.” I’ve looked into tons of them. But none of them felt like anything I could really stand behind. I knew that before I ever tried to do one of those multi-level marketing things that it would HAVE to be a product that I believed in 100% for the long haul. Well the more I researched, the more I discovered that Juice Plus+ would be that product. The clinical research to back this stuff is ridiculous. A business that has thrived for over 40 years and seen countless success stories of growing healthy habits and reducing disease. I’m very impressed by it.
Not only do I want to have this for my own family’s health and well being, but selling it would give me the opportunity to stay at home with my girl and any future kiddos to come. So I decided to take a chance and see where this takes me.

Here is my promise to you: I promise to NOT be your friend that only ever talks about their business. I promise to not shove this down your throat and I promise to respect your decisions for your own family. The last thing I want is to be that annoying girl that only ever tries to sell you stuff. So from here on out, if you are interested in learning more, I would love to talk to you. But if you’re totally not interested, that’s cool too.

IF you want to check out my Juice Plus+ website, here is the link: www.crimsonrenney.juiceplus.com 

 

Have a happy day!

(Also, here is a picture of Adalynn because no blog post would be complete without one 🙂

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DIY: Pumpkin Spice Latte-licious

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this. I admit, I am that girl. Unashamedly loving everything about fall and consuming as many pumpkin spice lattes as I possibly can every time this season rolls around.image

As much this season warrants jokes from all sides, I will embrace them wholeheartedly. Because I LOVE FALL. AND I LOVE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES.

So, because I love them so much, I went on a search to find a delicious homemade recipe for them because I love you Starbucks, but I cannot afford your $3.95-$4.95 price tag for one of these babies all the time. I found a lovely little recipe from Heather at Farmgirl Gourmet. I’ve made this twice now, the second time adjusting it to my personal preferences. Also, I believe it is dairy free! My dairy-free friends need to verify that, because I know dairy is a sneaky little thing finding its way in ingredients that you’d otherwise never know it existed in.

What you’ll need:

2 cups milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk to make it dairy-free)
4 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (I used pure Mexican vanilla–makes all the difference!)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
canned whipped cream (exclude this if making dairy-free)

*and a blender, no fancy machine needed!

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Add the milk, sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice into small pan over medium-high heat, stirring continually, until it’s almost boiling. You don’t want to burn the milk, but you want to make sure its good and hot.

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Remove milk mixture from heat and pour it in your blender. Put on lid tightly. Blend on high for about 2 minutes until the milk begins to froth.

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Divide the milk mixture between two LARGE mugs, then add your strong coffee, pouring it down the side into the mug so the froth stays on top. *Be careful to not add too much coffee. I was making mine with about half coffee/half milk mixture, and it tasted more like coffee with creamer and less like a pumpkin spice latte. Of course, play around with it and figure out your ratios according to your liking!

For dairy-free, you can add a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to the top and you’re finished! But for a truly decadent treat, add a spray of canned whipped cream on the top and sprinkle some spice for a truly decorative, homemade, delicious pumpkin spice latte.

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Enjoy! Have some variations or other ideas? Add them in the comments!

Happy Fall, Ya’ll.

The Safety of Self-Control

Self Control. Whoa, what an annoying word, right?

Our culture has painted the picture of self-control as something ridiculous. You would never see on the front of a magazine, “5 Steps to Practice Self-Control!” but rather something that look more like, “5 Steps to the Life You Deserve.” Am I right? Usually we grudgingly look at self-control as something that restrains us, binds us, and keeps us from the things we love. And in a way some of those descriptions might be true. But a proper view of self-control is necessary to appreciating it and understanding what God intended for us when He instructed us to live self controlled lives.

Titus 2:3-5 says,

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderersor addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

If someone challenged you to go without one thing for a week, what would it be? How long could you last? Social media? Sweets? Cell phone? TV?

Better yet, have you ever set goals for yourself in January (aka ‘New Years Resolutions’) and by February forgotten what they were?

“Self control is what we need in order to say no to sinful desires and what we need to follow through with godly desires” (64). Scripture is very clear on self-control. Its a fruit of the Spirit living within us. Paul emphasized it in Titus 2 as he directed every single group; older women, younger women, older men, and younger men. If Paul required self-control, that must mean it is attainable. So why do we struggle with it SO much? Self-control requires effort. It doesn’t come naturally or easily. We continually fail because we are attempting to accomplish such a grandiose task in our own strength. Mahaney reminds us that, “It is only as we cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit that we will achieve self-control” (65).

God’s Word likens self-control to that of a protective wall. Just like in history when massive stone walls were built around cities for protection from the enemy, self-control protects us from the attacks of our enemy who would love nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy us.

But why is self-control SO hard? To put it bluntly, because sin is enjoyable. We have selfish natures that are inclined to sin. The Bible is very clear that sin is enjoyable for a season. However, Proverbs 16:25 makes it clear: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Not exercising self-control in our sleeping habits (whether too little or too much), eating habits (making poor food choices, indulgence, or vanity), our thoughts and our behavior all reflect selfish motives and leads to regret and destruction. But by practicing self-control in these areas, we are protected from the ill effects of poor decisions and poor time management. Mahaney states, “When we recognize self-control as the virtue that spares us from sin’s negative consquences, we will welcome it eagerly as our friend.” (67)

In the book, Carolyn covers 4 areas where self-control is vitally important: Our Appetites, Sleep Habits, Our Thoughts and Feelings, and Our Behavior.

1. Our Appetites:

Whether eating too much, too little, or making unhealthy choices, our eating habits say a lot about our ability to control ourselves. A quote from Elisabeth Elliot ends with, “We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies to ourselves.” (68). It is undeniable that undisciplined use of our bodies will hinder our service to God. When we don’t eat healthy, our bodies reflect that. The less healthy our bodies are, the less able we are to serve the Lord physically. On the other hand, eating too little or obsessing over our health is also not glorifying God with our bodies. The sin of vanity is no less serious than the sin of gluttony (71).

2. Our Sleep Habits:

Sleep is a gift from God. It restores our physical strength and resets our emotions. “God has designed our bodies to require sleep, and to cut corners may be expression of pride–an arrogant disregard of our God-given physical limitations” (71). But we can also love sleep a little bit too much (I might fall into this category!)  Proverbs 20:13 is clear that loving sleep too much results in laziness and poverty. We must make the most of our time. A lot of women  classify themselves as “night owls,” making excuses for their choice to stay up late and sleep in. But rather than using our evening hours for personal pleasure , we need to use that time to prepare for the next day and to go to bed early enough to rise ready to serve God and our families.

3. Our Thoughts and Feelings:

In our feeling-obsessed culture, we MUST develop a proper understanding of feelings. They are a gift from God! Life would be amazingly bleak if we could not feel. But because of sin, the way we think and feel is often contrary to what Scripture commands. We often need to tell ourselves how to feel instead of letting our feelings tell us how to think. Sinful thoughts and sinful feelings lead to sinful behavior. We must exercise self control in this area. 2 Corinthians 10:5 commands us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Remember: Just because we feel something doesn’t make it true. Our feelings are either ruled by truth or ruled by sin (75).

4. Our Behavior:

There are tons of areas where our behavior needs self control. But there is one that affects all the others. One behavior, if diligently pursued, will promote self-control in every other area. What is it? The daily practice of meeting with God. Call it a cliche, but cliches are cliches because they are true. By meeting with God every single day, we are acknowledging that we are totally dependent upon His grace. No matter what our circumstances are, intimacy with God in His presence is the rock that will empower us to fight our battles every day. We should eagerly and consistently respond to our Savior’s invitation to come and meet with Him. What a privilege!

All of this probably sounds overwhelming. Our temptation is to muster up new resolve and get to work. But just like New Years resolutions tend to fall flat when we try and try and try, so will our efforts in the area of self-control. That’s why we have to surrender ourselves again to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to accomplish it through us. John 15:5 makes it clear: “Apart from [Jesus] you can do nothing.”

Homework:

  • Think about the one area where you are most in need of self-control. What is one way you can apply what you’ve learned in this chapter before our next meeting? (Remember–not “all by yourself!”)
  • Make a plan to meet with God every day this week. Acknowledge your dependence on Him for self-control.

Pinterest Party for One

Tonight I had a baking party. All by myself. Usually for me that means sugar galore. However, I decided to go for BREAKFAST! I used to hate breakfast, but now it seems like I could almost eat it for every meal. I got to baking and realized that everything I was making was either a Pinterest recipe, or was inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest. The end results were amazing, so I decided to share the love.

First was the Banana Oatmeal cups with Chocolate Chips. If you know me very well, you know that I could eat bananas, oatmeal, and chocolate chips every day of my life (especially the chocolate chips!) and be a happy camper. So combining all three? Major WIN.

Banana Oatmeal cups with Chocolate Chips

  • 3 mashed bananas (the more ripe the better!)
  • 1 cup vanilla Almond milk (you could use skim but you may want to add a little sweetener)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 3 cups (240g) Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (42g) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans.

Spray a muffin pan and/or liners with with non-stick spray.

Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter.

Divide batter into 15 muffin cups. They should be just about filled.

Bake 20-30 minutes, you’ll see the edges just starting to brown and they will be firm to the touch.

The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.

Makes 15 muffins.

Full recipe from: http://greenlitebites.com/2009/03/07/banana-oatmeal-cups-with-chocolate-chips/

Next came the Ham and Cheese Cresecent Rolls.

So simple, and yet, so amazing.

Literally, this is nothing new under the sun. Easiest recipe of all time. You actually don’t even need a recipe. But for those who feel better about bullet points, this one’s for you:

  • 1 package Crescent Rolls
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Sliced Ham

Unroll crescent rolls and layer cheese and ham. Roll those babies back up and pop in the oven at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes. Voila! Heaven in your mouth.

Makes 8 crescent rolls.

Last but not least, the Egg and Hashbrown Mini Muffins!

This is the recipe that I got the idea from pinterest, but completely made it to mine and Matt’s liking.

  • 5 eggs, scrambled
  • 4-5 pieces bacon (crumbled)
  • 1/4 green pepper
  • 1/4 bag frozen shredded hashbrowns
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Sprinkle cheese (I prefer Great Value Fiesta Blend)

Set oven to 375 degrees.

While oven is preheating, scramble eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, and green pepper together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour or spoon into mini muffin tin.

Bake for 10-13 minutes until muffins have solid form. Remove from oven and sprinkle desired amount of cheese onto each one.

Place back into oven for about 2-3 more minutes.

Makes 24 mini muffins.

Remove and enjoy! Bon appetit!

The best part about making all this breakfast for dinner? Leftovers for BREAKFAST tomorrow! Brilliant.