Snow cream

Yesterday was a snow day here in Tennessee.  There wasn’t a ton but just enough to get outside and play for a bit and most importantly make some snow cream.  It always amazes me how much Camden remembers from when he was just a toddler.  When he saw the snow he immediately asked if we could scoop it up and make some “snow ice-cream.”  So without hesitation I said of course!  I googled the Paula Dean recipe we used in the past and we made a fast easy snow day treat and some sweet memories too.

The Paula Dean recipe calls for:

8 cups of fresh snow or shaved ice
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

We found that using about a quarter of the can of sweetened condensed milk is really all you need.  We added half the can and had to add lots more snow to make it edible.  The snow will condense down quite a bit so don’t hesitate to go back for another bowl full.  This amount was made with two heaping bowls of snow and was just right.  A little creamy, a little icey and a whole lot of yummy.

Most of the fun is in the making it and it is so simple you really can’t go wrong.  I hope you all enjoy making some snow cream of your own and enjoying this fun winter treat.

 

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Healing Depression & Anxiety Naturally | Rewriting Negative Thought Patterns

So often I am asked how I have dealt with my postpartum depression and anxiety.  I have been nervous to speak out because I don’t want anyone to feel shame for their choices but I do feel like sharing my journey is really important.  This has been a multifaceted healing for me.  There are three critiacal points that are all linked that have to happen for me to overcome the suicidal feelings and hopelessness.  NONE of them come easily to me and ALL take work and discipline.  Ultimately discipline seems to be the common theme in my life lately.  I am learning to trust the process and wear blinders so that I can stay focused on my own journey.

 

Because I know balancing out my internal chemistry and hormones is crucial to a happy mental state, staying dialed in on my nutrition and my workouts every single day is vital.

 

Do I still love sugar and junk food?  YES

Am I still naturally lazy and want to lounge around in my pajamas?  OF COURSE

Do I know better than to do those things in excess?  YUP

 

I am not programmed differently than other people.  By nature I love to eat treats and binge watch Netflix like the rest of the planet.  I just know that doing those things is destructive for me and I have had to develop habits that serve me better.   So much of what I have done in my own life has come from what I try to teach my children.  “Camden are you making good choices?”  “Let’s make better choices Cam.”  I swear I say those things on repeat to my preschooler and finally realized I need to say it to myself.  Sometimes we all need a little gut check.

 

MAKE BETTER CHOICES MELANIE!!!

 

The other crucial part of all of this is DELIBERATELY changing my thoughts.  When you are anxious and depressed you feel like you have no control of your thoughts sometimes.  Why does the dark stuff creep in?  How can it go from high to low so fast?  Why do I wake up feeling completely hopeless and lost? Well so much of that is the chemical imbalance that I am fixing with my food and fitness choices, but the other factor is breaking old thought patterns.  I have to CHOOSE to stop dwelling on those thoughts.  When they creep in I have to make a choice to engage with them or change them.  Instead of spinning in a world of thoughts where I tell myself I’m a terrible mother, or I’m worthless, or unlovable and there is no hope, I literally have to stop that.  Yes it can be that simple.  When a negative thought comes in, let it pass, don’t entertain it, say something good about yourself even if you don’t want to and move on.  I don’t care one ounce if you are lying to yourself!  One day you won’t be.  Destructive thoughts do nothing but tear you apart.  I now tell myself I am an AMAZING mother.  I am a WARRIOR.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I have not come this far, gone through the shit in my life that I have to just give up now.  The world needs me because I am strong.  The world needs strong, real women who aren’t afraid to be seen, or to be imperfect.  My children NEED me.  I am a role model and I need to show them what real beauty and strength looks like.  So what if things aren’t going as planned, I can change that plan.  I can rewrite it and I can ALWAYS choose how I react to what is happening in my life.  I have that power.  This is MY life and I can make it anything I want if I’m willing to do the WORK!  So much of that “work” is mental.  We have to get really real with ourselves and call our own bullshit sometimes.  I know this tough love seems harsh and unfair but what is the alternative?  Wallowing in depression and self-loathing?  I did that… and it sucked.  I’ve decided to move on.

 

I have talked quite a bit about how I have changed my eating habits and my fitness and that is without a doubt so so so critical in all of this healing journey.  What we feed our bodies and how we care for our bodies directly affects our minds so please know this is all linked and part of the same whole.  I just feel like this mental shift, this BATTLE to be happy hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention and it is probably the MOST important part of all.

THIS IS HARD WORK!  

This is the part you will do over and over and over 1000’s of times all day long before you see or feel anything change.

 

Don’t let my positive posts and choice to share the good bits on social media fool you.  I am busting  my ass every single day to fight for joy.  My life is no different than any other life; bringing with it joys and challenges that push me to my limits every day.  (#motherhood right?!)  I’m trudging through the muck too, but I’ve decided to find the good in it all, the funny bits, the triumphant bits, the parts that I know are making me stronger and happier.

 

Choosing joy is just that… a choice.

 

I wake up every single day and choose what I allow into my mind.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t, but I keep working at it.  How have I overcome the darkness?  By INTENTIONALLY filling my mind with positive personal development… books, podcasts, mantras that build me up instead of tear me down.  By filling my body with food that nourishes and keeps my body and brain running strong.  By giving my body the gift of fitness and strength so that I have energy and stamina to face whatever comes my way.  By combining all three of these elements to make me stronger physical and mentally, to shape me into a woman I am proud of and want my children to look up to.  I can’t ask them to do things or be things I am not willing to do.  If I want to raise amazing, hard-working, kind, strong, free-thinking, love-givers, I must be that FIRST.  I must practice kindness first…. to myself and to the world around me.

 

Mental strength is a battle… you choose what you put in your mind and what thoughts you allow.

Fight for good.  Fight the darkness.

Never forget that you CAN DO hard things!

 

 

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If you want to talk more or learn more about what I do day in and day out email me.  I will be sharing more tools and tips that help my mind and body here on the blog but I also run monthly fitness challenges where I share much more of my daily life with my challengers on their own health journeys.

 

Please know I am not a mental health professional.  These are just my personal experiences with severe depression and postpartum anxiety and how I have found healing.  Every journey is different, but I know we can all benefit from eating well, staying active and filling our minds with positivity.  Do not be afraid to seek out help if you are struggling.  Also do not fear your own ability to be strong and heal.  Empower yourself!

Staying Fit While you Travel

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The holidays and travel season are upon us my friends.  I swear once November hits it feels like everything is go-go-go.  Travel to visit friends and family as well as all the holiday parties and events just seem to pile up and before we know it we are totally exhausted and feel like we lost sight of our own goals in the midst of the busyness.  This time of year has always been a favorite of mine, but also a season I have found to bring on the most stress and in turn stress-eating.  This year, I want to try a new approach.  I want to not only maintain my health and my goals but to get traction on them too.  There is no reason I can’t enjoy this season and stay fit right?  All it takes is a little planning and balance and voila…. I’m not a hot mess who needs to live in stretchy pants come January 1st.

We have just returned from 11 days of road tripping/hotel living with our two kiddos and I feel really good about how I was able to stay in line with my goals for the trip and roll with obstacles as they inevitably showed up.  I’m a stress eater so trust me there was a lot of stress happening on this trip, but I managed it all including a weekend where our sweet Margaux had a 105 degree fever and I had to leave her with her Grandma while we were shooting a wedding.  Have mercy… that was stressful!

 

Our trip went a little like this:  11 Days, 3 hotels, 2 kids, 1 wedding and a lot of joyful memories.

We initially were supposed to fly out as we normally do but a mom-brain scheduling oversight meant a very last minute change of plans and we were road tripping.  I’m actually happy that happened.  It gave us a chance to see how the kids do during a long road trip and it also took the pressure off me to keep all our luggage under 50lbs.  Thanks to this, I threw my beloved Vitamix blender in the car so I could have my morning smoothie exactly the way I like it every day.  Praise Hands!!!

Goals for this trip were: To get my workouts in and eat as healthy as I could manage.

I wasn’t perfect by any means but I sure as hell did an awesome job staying the course and not going backwards.

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So here are some of my tips for staying healthy and fit while you are away from home.  

1.  Have easy workouts at the ready.  
Thanks to my Beachbody On Demand streaming account, I had quick workouts (30 minutes or less) that I could easily do from my hotel room.  Core de Force is the new kickboxing program I started that is AMAZING and you feel strong as all get out with no weights or equipment required.  Our main Disney resort did not have a fitness facility so depending on hotel equipment was out for me.  Every morning while the kids were eating breakfast, I did my workout in the hotel room.  Bradford took them to the playground sometimes to give me space and other times I took my workout on my phone to a quiet area of the hotel.  One time even used the hotel laundry room because it was vacant and I needed a place where I wasn’t distracted.  Another morning I decided to go for a 3 mile run around the resort just to get a little fresh air.  I worked out 9 of the 11 days and feel great.

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2.  Have healthy snacks on hand.
I packed a bunch of easy, healthy snacks to have on the road and also made a grocery store stop once we were at Disney to restock for our time at the parks.  Keeping snacks easy and portable was key.  Some of my go to snacks were:  RX bars, Quest Bars, beef jerky, apples, bananas, grapes and nuts.  Kind pressed bars are a new favorite for the kids and a great fast way to get some hidden veggies in them as well.  I packed a backpack full of snacks for us and the kids so that we didn’t have to buy every single bit of food in the parks.  I often will make almond butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids too so we can skip buying an expensive kids meal.

3.  Stay hydrated!
I had lots of water handy.  You can bring any food and drinks you want into the park barring alcohol.  So pack a bunch of waters and refill them as the day goes on to save a buck.  Staying hydrated also helps with feelings of hunger or boredom eating every time you see a Mickey pretzel.

4. Shakeology
Every morning after my workout, I started my day with Shakeology.  I knew that no matter what happened the rest of the day, at the very least I had a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals and lots of superfoods to keep my body up and running and support my digestion and immune system.  Running full throttle at Disney can be super taxing on your body so getting that dose of dense nutrition first thing in the morning was key for me and helped to support my adrenals and keep my energy up.

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5. Choose healthy meals but give yourself some room for treats
I made a lot of healthy food choices while we were in the parks: salads, grilled chicken, roasted turkey, green veggies, etc. I also ate some junk food and gave myself grace because everyone knows Mickey Mouse shaped treats taste better… am I right?  Since treats are my jam I tried to make sure my meals were healthy so that any off plan food was what I really wanted.  I didn’t want to fill up on things like french fries that I don’t really love when I could eat a salad and splurge on dessert.  Bring on the giant cookies!  Most all restaurants on Disney property have some sort of “healthy” option.  If you are trying to stick to a gluten-free or dairy-free lifestyle it would be much better to go to table service restaurants vs quick service.  Unfortunately, with our kids, hitting quick service is really the only option for us.  We are just not at a place right now where patience is high and waiting for our food is generally taxing enough at Chipotle let alone a fancy Disney restaurant.

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So that is the basics for how to stay on track with your fitness goals while traveling.

Plan time for fast effective workouts each day and make as many healthy food choices as you can so that the splurges don’t derail you entirely.  

This was the third time we have been to Disney in a year and I can honestly say was one of our best trips.  Taking 30 minutes out of my day to workout didn’t impact us at all.  We were at the parks just as long as we had been in the past and I can say that being more in shape this time my legs and body did not ache at all the way they used to after a full day of walking around the parks wrangling two little ones.  I am so thankful for how much stronger and more energetic I have become these past few months staying committed to my workouts and Shakeology.  If you want to join me in my next challenge group starting after Thanksgiving email me here.  We will be talking a lot more about how to eat well during this crazy season and avoiding the holiday bloat.  Who says you can’t enjoy the holidays and be healthy!?