Not to sound cheesy, but spring is the season of new beginnings, right? There is that sense of renewal when the trees are budding and the birds are chirping. I made a lot of changes in my life this winter - it has not been easy. My whole family is putting a lot of effort into helping me finish school - it has taken a huge leap of faith for everyone involved. I can't help but think how grateful I am for the opportunity to improve myself and work towards new goals. I thought it would be a nice idea to "put pen to paper" and think about what I'd like to accomplish this season. I haven't been posting my workouts the past week or two. They've definitely been happening, but I've been super sick and trying to take it a little easier. I have asthma, so getting sick is a huge barrier to working out hard. I'm hoping this week I'll start to feel better and start posting again! twins Family: 1. Spend a lot of time with family, enjoying the beautiful children we have and cherishing our time together. 2. Plan an awesome overnight date with my husband and a fun, little family trip. 3. Take more videos of my sweet girls learning, playing, and enjoying. Save them 1000 times on 8 different devices, burn them onto DVDs, etc. (I hate this job, but it needs to happen!) IMG_2036 Professional: 1. Successfully complete my first nursing clinical this summer - really nervous about this one! I'm sure I will be fine, but I've worked so hard and waited so long to get here. I just want to make sure I'm giving it my all. 2. Post on the blog 2-3 times per week, increase readership. 3. Stay organized with school - I have a tendency to be more like "organized chaos" - which is not very organized at all. 4. Study for boards as I go, try not to be last minute about it. I took a two year hiatus from school to have my babies, so I really need to be reviewing material A LOT! [caption id="attachment_454" align="aligncenter" width="499"]Study partner! Study partner![/caption] fitness Fitness: 1. String together several strict pull ups. (Right now I can only do one at a time without a band.) 2. Accomplish 65# overhead squat 3. Power clean 115# 4. Work on pistols (I broke my ankle several years ago - ankle mobility is a huge issue for me here!) 5. Do a ring dip! 6. Starting to think about potentially competing in bikini/figure at some point in the next year or two - am I crazy!??? IMG_2787 Nutrition: 1. Focus on less gluten-free cheat meals. I love GF pizza and GF bread, etc... but it's been too much lately. I want to focus more on having that as a truly a "treat." 2. Kick my every night chocolate habit. I love chocolate, and I don't think it's bad for you. I just have a tendency to WAY overdo it. A few times a week would be much better than every day. Personal: 1. Read The Bible daily. I have the app, She Reads Truth, that has a convenient 1 year bible format. I've been trying to commit to reading each night, even if it's only just the new testament passages. It's really a lot better than the print format because it tells you the % completed and that's really motivating! I really need to stop making excuses on this one. 2. Develop more confidence and empower myself to be who I am. This is a tough one, and it's truly hard to apply. But, from things like just writing more and not seeking approval from others before I post, or sharing my real, post-baby body on social media - those are all things that are important to get out there. KBsnatch Your turn: I'd love to read about your goals for the spring/summer, whether it be personal/professional, fitness-related, or not! 

This post contains affiliate links, anything you click on does not cost you any more money, but does help support my blog. Thank you! Happy Hump Day! I've never done one of these before, but I always find the way other people eat to be so fascinating. We all have our own interpretation of what's "healthy" and we all have different goals to support with our nutrition. This week is also a good time to get back on track after the big Easter holiday. I don't know about you, but I don't like to keep treats around. I'll indulge for a day or a weekend, and then everything needs to go. This week is spring break for my school, so we were home all day. Today was also an intermittent fasting day - so I didn't eat anything until after my workout. Today started out like any other - breastfeeding & coffee. Honestly, coffee & then breastfeeding is the optimal order, but no such luck today. I usually take my coffee with coconut oil and heavy cream. I find that these additives don't really break my fast, since they are purely fat and don't spike my blood sugar. coffee The twins eat breakfast after nursing & diaper changes. They pretty much eat the same thing every morning: 1 banana each and 1 scrambled egg each. Once breakfast is over, it's playtime! twins breakfast The girls nursed again and had a snack of applesauce around 10 am. We also all got our daily dose of cod liver oil. Mommy indulged in another cup of coffee. Why? Because I have twins that don't like to share and throw tantrums about it. IMG_3253 IMG_3234      IMG_3232 not sharing At 11:15, the twins ate lunch. Today was a little leftover eggs from the morning, salmon, and roasted cauliflower. They drank water and went down for a nice nap! IMG_3254 While the girls were napping, I got a great workout in.  I did the cross fit open WOD 16.5. It was terrible, in a good way. Holy thrusters and burpees! I was still breathing heavy in the shower 20 minutes later.  After that, I was so ready to eat! [caption id="attachment_399" align="aligncenter" width="150"]IMG_3264 Post-workout selfie.. I'm really bad at taking these![/caption] I had 2 organic eggs, cooked in butter & over hard, 2 cheese and organic turkey roll ups, roasted cauliflower, and an apple. IMG_3263 This is a lot of food - but don't forget I'd been fasting for almost 18 hours!

IMG_3261 (I found this turkey at Costco - it was pretty good!)

After lunch, I sat and did some work while inhaling some Nikki's Coconut Butter right out of the jar. It goes awesome with coffee. (If you're not sensing a theme here, my coffee consumption rivals that of Lorelei in Gilmore Girls.) IMG_3267 The girls woke up from their nap and had 2nd lunch. (They are awesome eaters!) 2nd lunch was avocado, followed by organic plain yogurt. I don't add anything to the yogurt - it's tart but they don't seem to mind. I also really don't want them to develop too much of a sweet tooth at this young of an age. I think it's important to learn what foods are supposed to taste like in their purest forms. IMG_3268 There was a huge tantrum when I tried to take away their spoons, so I gave them some pieces of a few medjool dates to distract them. I might have snuck a few bites too - they taste like caramel! We played some more, gave the girls a bath, and made dinner. Dinner tonight was simply roasted, organic chicken drumsticks with sautéed baby kale/chard/spinach and onions. I cooked the chicken plain with just some kosher salt, and added some Annie's barbecue sauce towards the end. The girls also had a sweet potato on the side. IMG_0007 The babies had breastmilk again before bed, and I had my protein shake. I LOVE Naked Whey grass-fed protein powder (link to amazon ). It has no flavoring or weird stuff, so I can make my shake taste however I want. I usually do organic whole milk, 1/2 frozen banana, ice cubes, 2 tbsp peanut butter, and cocoa powder (to taste). I especially love that there's no sweeteners in this protein powder, as I tend to like things a little less on the sweet side and lower in carbs. I also like to drink my protein shake at night because I always crave chocolate after a long day with the babes. IMG_0003 Now I'm working on the blog and school work - with a cup of green tea! IMG_0002 In case you're interested - I put my food intake into MyFitnessPal so you can get an idea of how much I'm eating. This is something I like to do occasionally to keep myself in check. I think I did pretty well today! WIAW1 Hope you're having a great night! I'd love to hear your thoughts: Have you gotten back on track after the holiday? Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? Do you drink more or less coffee than I do? lol :) 

I haven't consumed gluten in almost 4 years. If you've read my story, you know that I was not the healthiest a few years ago. I followed a very Standard American Diet - lots of processed grain products and sugar that wreaked havoc on my body. I had, what I thought was, adult-onset lactose intolerance. After eliminating grains from my diet (especially gluten), I experienced vast improvement in my health. My gut was healed, and after a few months, I was able to tolerate dairy again without issue. Since then, I've avoided gluten like the plague. I cook at home everyday and we generally eat out less than once per month. On those infrequent occasions that we do eat out - I'm careful. When something I don't agree with is somehow mixed in - I notice. The effects have sometimes lasted over a week. I enjoy doing things myself, and I think most food tastes best when I make it. I'm really not strict paleo or primal, and I don't like labels anymore. I feel great eating as balanced as possible, and sometimes that does include gluten-free grains. If I had to label myself, I'd just say I like the "real deal" -  home prepared meals that have been touched by my hands, whose wholesome beginnings originated in my mind. So why would I ever entertain eating gluten again? Well, I've recently started watching Michael Pollan's series on Netflix, titled "Cooked." If you have any interest in food - you cannot miss this. The first couple of episodes focused a lot on sourcing meats and our obsession with convenience foods - two subjects that I already had a fair amount of previous knowledge on. One of the most intriguing episodes, for me, focused on bread. gluten Much of the show follows people in other countries who painstakingly harvest wheat, grind it on a centuries-old millstone, and expertly shape perfectly, imperfect loaves of bread for their families to enjoy daily. The lengths that these people go to, in order to consume something that I so ardently avoid, is awe-inspiring. Pollan argues that over the past 6,000 years wheat has been a staple of our diet and our actual "bread of life" - how could we just now decide to demonize it? I often asked this question related to dairy - as my European ethnicity usually lends itself to dairy tolerance. As it turns out, I am very tolerant of dairy when my gut is healthy and at full digestive capability. Could the same be said for gluten? After watching the show, I can't disagree with any of the points he makes. And honestly, I haven't missed bread very much at all, until now. Perhaps we've gotten this gluten thing all wrong. As a person who doesn't have diagnosed celiac disease, I absolutely hate to hear people minimizing my issues with consuming gluten. If it were any other protein or ingredient, people probably wouldn't bat an eyelash on me avoiding  something because it didn't make me feel well.  The show does not minimize the struggle of those who experience distress when consuming gluten - it actually tries to explore why it's happening. Instead of feeling insulted, I'm opening my mind to the possibility that I'm not the problem, and neither is gluten. The problem is more deeply rooted in our industrial food system that works against the grain of nature. gluten I'm not sure that I've ever had properly prepared bread in my entire life. Properly prepared bread, according to Pollan, is what we consider "sourdough bread" that only has three ingredients: flour, water, and salt. These ingredients combine with the unique microbiome of your kitchen - to bubble, rise, and bake to crusty, sourdough perfection. It's a process that takes days to complete and is very energetically expensive for the baker. This study even found that properly fermented bread contained <20 ppm of gluten, enough to be technically considered "gluten free." What about the bread that I've consumed in my life? The bread that makes me feel sick? Well, first of all, it's not fermented. Second of all, it contains so many superfluous ingredients, including but not limited to: dough conditioners, commercial yeasts, gums, fibers, industrial oils, lecithins, corn derivatives, and more. As explained in the series - these additives are part of our convenience culture of wanting to make bread easy, quick, and accessible. Well, the process of making real bread is none of those things. Real bread involves a painstaking process that we are opting out of - at the expense of our health. Choosing to eschew the traditional methods changes the composition of this food entirely. Lastly, the wheat we primarily use today is completely different from the wheat of the past. We've bred it and engineered it to be mass-produced and make millions of loaves of chemically laden Wonder Bread. The wheat is not harvested the same, it's not dried the same, it's not ground the same - and it's certainly not "thrashed" or sprouted. One of my favorite people to listen to, Joel Salatin, has an awesome interview on this very topic here. I'm interested in learning more about this idea of "real bread" - and learning more about myself. It took some pretty drastic n=1 experimentation 4 years ago to get to a point where I felt and looked healthy, and the experiment is still ongoing. If the fermentation process (that we are completely missing out on from the time the grains are harvested to the time they enter our kitchen in a bag of Gold Medal), could break down the gluten and make bread digestible to me - would I try it? Maybe. Would I trust someone else to do it for me? Absolutely not. First of all, I'm too much of a control freak for that. Second, if this is a true experiment, I need to be completely sure of the methods. If I can tolerate this bread, will I start feeding myself and my family gluten ad libitum? Absolutely not. I know I will never (knowingly) consume commercially prepared products containing gluten ever again. And as for my children, that's a decision they can make when they're old enough to make it. I also know that, for me, any grain products will never trump good quality meats, vegetables, and dairy products. But, if I was open minded enough to succeed with grain elimination, it's feasible that I could give this a try. Check for updates on this experiment, I'll keep you posted. I'd love to hear your input on this. Have you watched the show? Would you try "real" bread after years of avoiding it? Want to subscribe to get email updates when I post something new? Click here!

(This post contains affiliate links that support this blog with no additional cost to you. See more info here). Have you been eating enough fish? fish I really feel that, no matter where you fall on the diet spectrum, none of us really are. The truth is, I just don't love cooking fish at home. The best way I've been able to regularly get it into our diet is canned, wild salmon or wild-caught frozen seafood.  Let's face it, going into a fish market is pretty much impossible with two babies and a mammoth double stroller. I think we've all seen articles and heard the news about fish and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 are good for your heart, omega-3's are in fish...ergo, eat more fish. Well, why aren't you? The truth is, fish really isn't a staple of the Standard American Diet - perhaps unless it's Lent and you're in the Drive-thru line for a patty of mystery marine-life. Instead, in our world, we are assaulted with the omega-6 fatty acids. They're what you'll find in almost any processed food product - and are heavily present in vegetable (soy) oil, canola oil, corn oil, etc. There are so many studies about why omega 6 oils are ruining our health. Humans need to maintain a more favorable ratio of omega 3:omega 6 fats - the ideal ratio should approach almost 1:1. Most americans are consuming a ratio of omega 3:6 somewhere between 1:10 or 1:20! (see more on this here). Several studies in the past year alone indicate the detriment of manipulating this ratio in the favor of unsaturated, omega 6 industrial oils. For example: an unfavorable ratio is related to depressive symptoms in women (1), abnormal mental development in the fetus (2), obesity in childhood (3), and onset of high blood pressure in childhood (4), and an imbalanced ratio is also implicated in the progression of coronary artery disease (5). This is just a snippet of the litany of research supporting that processed foods are destroying our health and begin affecting our offspring in-utero. I've seen ads on TV lately for corn oil, claiming its "heart healthy" and it makes me sad. I'm really sad that we've let it get this far. We've let multi-billion dollar agribusiness corporations tell us that their industrially derived oils are safe -  and not only safe, but beneficial. It's pretty much impossible to even get lunch at Whole Paycheck without everything being crusted in canola oil. The small amounts you consume daily, that you think aren't detrimental, add up and gradually overwhelm our systems. Every cell membrane in your body is made up of fats, and the types of fats you eat matter much more than you think. We've spent 60 years demonizing cholesterol and developing drugs to antagonize its synthesis, and not nearly enough time and energy on these dangerous polyunsaturates. What am I doing to protect my family from this imbalance? I'm consuming as much pasture raised meet as I can find. According to this article, grass fed beef is 2-5x higher in omega-3s than grain fed beef, and much lower in omega-6 content. As of right now, I'm trying the best I can, with what I can find. I truly believe in the benefits of eating responsibly raised animals and I'm looking forward to raising them myself. (check out eatwild.com for resources near you). This also applies to dairy products from cows. Cows that are pastured produce milk fat with equal ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 (source). I've actually been finding grass fed milk, cream, and butter at my local amish market. There is a huge difference when butter is pastured because the color is a rich, deep yellow. I will always choose grass-fed and local over "certified organic" - because organic certification is very expensive and many small farms cannot afford the designation. Also, anything that is 100% grass-fed or pastured is raised properly and technically "organic" anyway. grass-fed dairy I'm finding easy ways to incorporate more fish. My favorite thing to do lately with canned salmon is to mix it with an egg, some salt, pepper, paprika, and ground mustard. I'll heat up a skillet with butter, and fry the mixture into a salmon "cake" until browned on both sides. It may sound weird, but it's honestly SO good. My twins will often split a whole can of salmon between them. If you want to step it up a notch, add some fresh dill and some sour cream or plain greek yogurt (if you do dairy). salmonI'm really loving it right now served over some lightly dressed greens (with a mixture raw honey, olive oil, and raw apple cider vinegar - if I'm giving my girls some of the greens, I'll sub the honey for maple syrup since they haven't had honey yet). Not only is canned salmon good for you, but it's very economical. I bought the can pictured below at my local store for around $3.50, it's 7.5 oz, BPA free, and sustainably sourced. I also try to monitor the toxin content of the fish we eat - luckily, canned wild salmon is on the very low end of the mercury spectrum. You can check the mercury content of the fish you're eating based on your body weight and frequency of consumption here. IMG_2587 salmon        IMG_2599IMG_2598 Wild, Alaskan cod is also reasonably priced and available frozen. (Just make sure it's wild caught!). "The Rock" basically survives on cod, because it's super high in protein. Lastly, another way I've found to ensure we're all getting our omega 3, vitamin D and vitamin A needs taken care of has been cod liver oil. This is not the nasty stuff you're thinking of. My twins actually love it and get upset when their daily dose is gone. IMG_2594 IMG_2592 There's been a lot of debate over the past year about cod liver oil. I don't think I could write about this topic without touching on it. When I started eating "primal," about 4 years ago, I took fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures. It's very expensive. It's about $60 a bottle - and you can easily get through a bottle in a month. I always thought this was a quality product, but recently there has been some huge controversy about whether or not cod liver oil can actually be fermented. (If you want to really get into the nitty-gritty, here's a really well-written article). I've been pretty skeptical about this whole thing, to be honest. It seemed like all of the sudden, brands of "extra virgin" cod liver oil started appearing and people starting shunning the fermented product they had been touting for years. I'm not an expert, but I am a consumer - and honestly, this annoyed me.  I'm just trying to find the best option for my family and budget, not get involved in some sort of cod liver oil holy war.   I saw on the Weston A Price website that they had listed Nature's Answer cod liver oil on the "Best" list. I'm not sure why it has since been removed, but I checked it out and ordered it (link here). I'm on my second bottle of this stuff and I can honestly say I think it's a decent product. What I liked most about it is that the Vitamin A:Vitamin D ratio is 10:1. A lot of other brands have really high Vitamin A: Vitamin D ratios, which could cause you to overdose on vitamin A in order to get anywhere near the right amount of D per day. It contains about 500 mg each of EPA and DHA per teaspoon (which are types of omega-3 fatty acids). Nature's Answer is also very reasonable in price. I've also been looking into NutraPro brand cod liver oil, as that is also recommended by WAPF and is considered "virgin." This might be my next purchase once my current bottle of Nature's Answer is complete. If cod liver oil just isn't for you - there are other ways. Commercial fish oils can be rancid and contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins from the ocean, but they are easier to take in convenient capsules for those who can't stomach the idea of consuming a liquid. The Primal Blueprint website has a Primal Omegas line that looks like it's really controlled for quality and toxins. I've never tried it, but if you prefer capsules it seems like a pretty good option (also, if you use the coupon code Grok15, you'll get 15% off!) All in all, it can be very hard to get the proper amount of fish in our diets. Not only is it sometimes difficult to source, but most of the time - I just don't want to eat it. It's nice to have the ability to use supplements, like cod liver oil, and find grass-fed dairy/meat that will lend us the ability to balance our omega levels as well. Honestly, even just avoiding processed foods and industrial oils is a huge step in the right direction. I would love to hear your thoughts on this! How do you get seafood and Omega 3's into your diet? Have you ever tried cod liver oil? Want to subscribe to get email updates when I post something new? Click here!