10.21.2011

Improvements

home improvement

Our house is nearly 60 years old, and if I may say so myself, it's never looked better. Of course, we've put a lot of work into it, and we still have a long list of improvements we need to make, and an even longer list of routine maintenance to be completed. I wonder whether we will ever be able to say our house is "done". However, I intend to do everything in my power to ensure our house improves with age.

I fully intend the same for myself as well, but a month after my 35th birthday, I realized my plans for self improvement were failing. My personal structure needed more than spackle and caulk - a complete overhaul was in order. But where to start?

Fortunately, my friend Amy wrote a post that jumpstarted my personal renovation. Here's an excerpt that hit me over the head like a 2x4 stud:

"Health is our birthright. How different people experience health is up to them. It is not our birthright to gain two pounds a year for the rest of our lives, manage our stress and fatigue with caffeine and alcohol, and reach for a prescription when we experience discomfort or pain. But many of us have determined, to varying degrees, that that is our right. (I'm not exempt here. Did you see how big my coffee mug was this morning?). By virtue of failing to grasp our birthright, we have, in essence, stepped up to a plate where we are never asked to swing. When I am feeling less than vibrant in my health and life, it is ultimately because I am failing to take responsibility for some part of my life. I am choosing to squander sleep in favor of reading, or (fill in the blank.. drink too much, eat too much sugar, not watch my words with my children), you get the idea."

Until I read these words, I had never considered my own birthright. The term "birthright" was a phrase that had nothing to do with me, just an antiquated word I'd read in the Old Testament, right alongside "begat". I'd never given much thought to my inherent rights, never considered "health" a right to which I was entitled from birth.

Instead, I focused on and feared the opposite of health; my inheritance:

High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Arthritis
Breast cancer
Fear of wearing a sleeveless blouse in public
Type 2 Diabetes
Hips and knees in need of replacement
Multiple chins
A portion of the kitchen dedicated to prescription bottles

Hell no! This is not what I wish to inherit, nor pass on to my children. Fortunately, I firmly believe that I have a certain degree of control over my health, and that I don't have to accept what I consider avoidable afflictions. While I can't dismantle and reassemble my genetic makeup, I can grasp my birthright, step up to the plate, and swing for my health.

So seven weeks ago, I did just that. I stopped eating all grains and refined sugar, I stopped drinking alcohol on a regular basis, I stopped making excuses when it came to exercise, and lo and behold,

lighter and looser

I lost 11 pounds. I rediscovered my waist, my biceps, and strength I didn't know I possessed. I feel more alive than I have ever felt. My extra chin has started to shrink, and my muscles shout, "move, move, move!" from the moment I wake up. The shorts that were in the giveaway pile because they were too tight are now falling off of me. If I may say so myself, I've never looked better. And I'm certainly not "done". I'm just getting started.

I can't say it's been easy, but it has been simple. Diet and exercise. Diet and exercise. Diet and exercise. But I'd like to replace those two words to reflect my experience: Home cooking and housework. I've thoroughly enjoyed discovering and creating a variety of new recipes using vegetables and meat (with the occasional egg, fruit, and nut). As for exercise, I haven't joined a gym or bought any fitness apparatus. Instead, I've found opportunities in and around my house to workout: push-ups, crunches, and challenging yoga positions on the area rug; pull ups on a tree limb; hauling wheelbarrows full of dirt and rocks from one part of the yard to another; squats and frog jumps around the perimeter of the house; a full routine of arm exercises using a digging bar; jump roping on the back patio; walking and running around our neighborhood. Simple and free. Much like my birthright.

While I'm tempted to start a new blog called "Better with Bacon", and write about nothing but the Paleo diet and Crossfit exercise, I'm going to just squeeze in tips and recipes here and there between my regular (or irregular) posts, beginning with a paleo friendly breakfast recipe to start your day off right. This frittata was inspired by one of my favorite recipes from Better Homes and Gardens for an oven pancake with sausage and pears. It's so delicious, I don't even miss the pancake part.

sausage, apple and onion frittata

Sausage, Apple and Onion Frittata

1 small sweet onion, cut into slivers
1 apple, chopped
2 links of chicken apple sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
4 eggs
Splash of milk (optional)
Pat of butter (or ghee, olive or coconut oil)

Melt butter or oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until onion just begins to caramelize. Add sausage and apple, stirring occasionally until hot. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk, then pour egg mixture over the sausage, apples and onions. Cook on medium low heat until egg sets on the bottom and edge of the pan. Transfer to oven and broil until the egg sets on top. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

30 comments:

  1. how many does this recipe serve?

    and wow, quite the lifestyle change! it sounds so inspiring.

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  2. Hugest smile EVAH right now, from my heart beaming outward.

    You are a beast, and that's a very. very. very. good thing!

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  3. Fabulous! I'd like to hear more about giving up refined sugar. I feel powerless over my sweet tooth.

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  4. i've been waiting for this. love it. believe it or not... i would never set foot into a gym/studio if I didn't get paid too. i totally believe that exercise can all be done outside or with little to no equipment.

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  5. Congrats! Looking forward to more recipes...

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  6. My partner has been doing the paleo (more or less ;-)) and has seen great results! I am skinny by way of heredity, but we (the gals in my family) do tend towards low thyroid, adrenal fatigue and diabetes (type 2).

    I know caffeine and grains are not helping me, and I intend to change these. I have drastically reduced but I am not all of the way there, and I do intake a small amount of sugar. This is SO inspiring, and I love, love, love the excercise ideas! I am known to complain that I can't excercise sufficiently because my kids are always with me (home learners) but it can be done!Yyou have shown me. :)

    Thanks for this, I'm book marking your blog for easy following along!

    ~Erin

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  7. Inspiring!!
    Way to go, Molly. You overcame the inertia we all suffer from, at least part of the time. Good for you!

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  8. There is nothing more satisfying than taking your life in your hands and changing it. Look at that that ab shot, my friend! I don't just see a gaping waistband--I seem some definition lines. Woo hoo!

    Power on!

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  9. I could have written this exact same post. My journey began July 1 . I removed all grains and dairy from my diet. I have never felt better. This is coupled with running and other exercise. I am loving how I feel and hope to never forget my birthright.

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  10. Way to go, Molly! We just started our Paleo journey this past Tuesday - I'm looking forward to seeing and FEELING a lot of changes! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I am trying to find an affordable middle ground at our house--but we have definitely headed down a paleo-ish path. love the recent pancake recipe, and so glad that you are going to be talking more about this. Oh, and yes Serendipity books--loved those too. I still have my childhood copies.

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  12. your post is causing me to stop and reassess my birthright.
    thanks.
    and bravo.

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  13. We've been on the paleo path for a few months now, me, my husband and 5 year old son, and we all feel so much better. Health is most definitely our birth right. It's important we don't forget it. Congrats to you. You look GREAT! xo

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  14. very timely for me.
    as i've taken my health (and my figure) for granted. this third babe in four years took it's toll on both.
    i've been feeling it's time to up the ante.

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  15. I have two friends who are deeply dedicated to the whole Paleo/Crossfit gig. They swear wonders by it...as it seems so many people are finding solace in the whole routine. Looking forward to reading more and getting a glimpse into what you are cooking. Congrats on feeling good!

    :)Lisa

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  16. Congrats Molly! I'm so glad you are feeling so good!!

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  17. well good on you!
    me too. or we too.
    my husband has made huge dietary shifts. he has lost over fifty pounds.
    I have lost some weight too.
    we are feeling much more in charge of our lives these days.

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  18. what you said about exercise over on habit, that being self control....can't stop thinking about it. keeping me in line ;) xo

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  19. We've modified a book diet since last spring and the hubby has lost 40# . He feels so much better and it wasn't that hard! 2 forbidden foods that you can have 1 day off and 1 meal off, otherwise, for me, no fried foods or chocolate. For him it might be pizza and cookies for 3 weeks, then something else the next 3. Exercise at least 20 minutes every day. Water as the drink of choice (lots of it), and a competition among friends to keep the competitive edge. You find what works and you find it worth it. So glad you are finding it for you. We also, don't want to inherit our families health issues if we can avoid that.

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  20. Molly, I read this post a couple of days ago but didn't have the time to comment properly. I feel that I am ready for this myself. I have been on the verge but haven't fully committed to it. Other plans have me getting a gym membership or buying a video and equipment. I like your plan much better. Here's to crunches in the living room. Thanks, Molly.

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  21. Molly, you amaze.

    Rock on. (Walk on. Crunch on. Keep it coming!)

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  22. So I'm trying to slog through a mommy bootcamp class and am quite discouraged at my cardio. The picture of your VERY loose pants is something I want too! So I'm going to schlep myself to the class tonight...way to go, Molly!

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  23. Hurray for you! I love reading about people being proactive and taking responsibility for their health and not in the normal: cut out fat and run for hours on the treadmill way. Kudos to you, keep it up! People are always amazed when I tell them I eat lots of sausage, bacon, eggs, butter, whole milk and they ask how I stay thin. Eat real food, few grains and get up and do something. It's amazing how great you feel when you feed your body what it needs.

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  24. Can I just say - thank you - I'm glad you are here!

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  25. go molly! I'm happy you found a groove.
    I would love to be a fly on the wall to hear my neighbor's conversations if they saw me doing squats around the perimeter of the house!

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  26. Congratulations.

    Believe me, you have done the right thing!

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  27. I love the idea of the birthright. I am reclaiming mine at the moment and it feels wonderful.

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