Thursday, January 30, 2014

21 Day Fix

If you are on Instagram or FB and are a friend of mine, you have seen this, but I just wanted to share this here too in case anyone is interested.

21 Day fix is a new workout by Beachbody that comes out next week.  The workouts are 30 min each and you have different workouts for different days of the week.  The workouts vary and include cardio, strength training, and yoga. 

What I love about this program is that it is one of the first that also focuses on nutrition and portion control. 

The basic program is $58 and includes the workouts, a shakeology shaker, and containers portioned out for your food each day.

I will be running a challenge group for anyone who is interested and I will be available to help anyone who starts the program. 

If you are interested, you can email me at katiepetko (at) yahoo (dot) com.  Any proceeds I make from the sale go to our adoption fund.  So, you can get in shape and help a great cause at the same time.

For more info, you can watch this. (Warning: it has the feel of an infomercial, but has good info about the program.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five Favorites - Baby It's Cold Outside!

Hey, all! I think I can officially say that the Buffalo is out of this girl!  I used to pride myself on my ability to handle cold and snow.  After all, I am from Buffalo!  But, the metro DC area, its weather, and inability to handle cold and snow has seeped into my bones.  I am officially over this cold and snow!

So, in honor of it, I am going to share some of my "go-to's" on cold winter days.

1. Athleta Polartec Power Stretch Pants

I have had these pants for about 3 years.  I saved up and purchased them so I could wear them to run outside while training for my spring marathons.  And you know what?  I only have ever worn them once for running.  Truthfully, they are too warm for running in our mild winters here.  But, they are perfect for wearing in the winter.  During the last few weeks, I have worn them almost everyday.  I will throw them in the wash at night and put them in the dryer when I wake up for my workout so that they are ready after my shower. They are fleeced lined and oh, so comfortable.  I have worn them so much, even my hubby said I should get another pair. 
The only thing NOT to like about them is the price.  Luckily, you can find the older style on ebay for almost 1/4 of the price!
2. Coffee Substitute
In the winter, I need something warm to drink every morning.  Mainly, to hold a hot cup in my hands to keep my hands from freezing!

Teeccino Herbal Coffee.  Oh, remember how I said I could have coffee while on GAPS?  Well, the longer I have been on GAPS, the worse I feel after having even watered down coffee.  So, one day last week, I dumped my coffee for good.  I miss the flavor so much and when I went grocery shopping, I was desperate for a good substitute.  And Teeccio, surprisingly, has satisfied my taste for coffee.  I would not say it taste exactly like coffee, but it has made me happy!

Ruya Velvet Berber Sherpa Blanket.  I found this exact one at a discount store months ago.  Now, my family fights over it on nights while we read on the couch.  Both sides are super soft and oh, so warm.  I love, love, love this blanket!

4. Exercise!

My gym

When I need to get warm, there is nothing like getting the blood pumping and working out.  I love the fact that I have a treadmill in my home and tons of weights (that I got for FREE!).  Plus, I have a whole library of Beachbody workouts that I love (T25 was my workout of choice this AM).

5. Words from our Pope (On Praise).

Ok, so I am stretching this one a bit.  But, if you have not read the words from one of  Pope Francis' latest homilies, please do so here.  It is about the need to Praise God in our prayer.  And, this girl, who loves all things praise and worship, was so happy to read this coming from the Pope.  In a church that is not know for its expression of praise and '"dancing before the Lord as David did," it is refreshing to hear our Pontiff state that we are all meant to praise the Lord and we should not discourage acts of praise.  

So, go out, everyone and get your praise on!

And one final thing . .. I will leave you with a snow bundled cutie picture of an orphan with New Day Foster Home . . . may his cuteness bring you warmth and joy today!

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes

Thanks, Jen,for hosting!

1. Standing in the gap.

Have you read this story?  It is of monks in Kiev standing in the gap, literally, between the police and the people, praying.  It is an incredible story and it has been going on for days.  You can watch live streaming video of the conflict and the monks standing between the people and the police here.  

After reading the article, I wondered if I would be brave enough to do that.  Because, as Christians, that is what we are called to do, stand in the gap and pray for peace.  Because of these monks, the unrest has stopped, for now.  Because of their simple, brave action to pray IN the unrest, they have helped to avert the loss of lives. 

2. Winter weather slow down

They played outside for hours.  Me?  I stayed nice and warm inside!

We had a "major storm" this week.  Major in our part of the country constitutes more than 2 inches of snow.  Schools were closed and/or delayed for three days, some longer.  While it did not affect our schooling, it did slow things down here a bit.  Swim was cancelled, clients cancelled, and then K got sick and that slowed the week down even more.  I must admit, it has been nice.  The boys have finished school, made swords with duct tape, PVC piping and foam and there have been great battles in our living room.  It has been a really, really nice week.

A showing off his sword.

3. Time to hit delete?

Am I the only one that thinks about giving up on blogging and deleting this thing?  I used to love to blog, but I am finding that I just do not have the time and desire to put to type all the posts that swim in my head.  For a long time, I have felt the need to stop blogging here and start a new one to move in a different direction, with family and faith mixed in, but I cannot even seem to take the time to get that off the ground.

It is difficult because, like any relationship, to make blogging work and be a part of the blogging community, you need to participate and I am just not participating much any more. 

This take is not a question, but if  you have thoughts, please share.  It is more, just getting "this thought out."

4. Getting the twitch again

Over the last year, I have not run nearly as much as I used to.  I have not done a race in almost a year. Most of my workouts have been T25 (That I love) or just good old weight lifting.  I have been running, but just three days a week and 5 miles at most. But that is slowly changing.  While there may not been any marathons in my near future, I feel that "half marathon twitch."  And I have my sights on this one . . .

Run for the Dream is in our favorite vacation spot, it has an 8K and kids races, so the whole family can join in the fun and it is a beautiful course!  Both K and J are already begging me to sign them up for the 8K.  So, we just have to check our schedules and register! 

5. GAPS update

I will not bore you with tons of details of GAPS, but we are doing great!  we are on DAY 25 of the INTRO and will be on the Full GAPS diet soon.  I love it and truthfully, I we do not miss eating grains and potatoes AT ALL. 

6. Thought for the week

I struggle a lot with curriculum choices.  Did I make the right decision?  Is this the best for my son(s)? I have switched curriculum mid year for math and spelling, simply because they do not work for whichever boy I am using it with.  They are all so different in their learning styles and I am finding that I often meed to reassess whether the curriculum I am using with each boy is the best for that particular one. 

It is good to be reminded that each of my children learns differently and has different gifts and it is my job, as their mom, to help them learn based on the gifts they have been given.

7. Little Flower Cuteness

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Adoption Update

I know I have not said much about our adoption lately.  And, truthfully, there has not been too much to say for a while.  We have had several delays in our home study.  CPS clearances were "lost" by the state's who received the paperwork, and because of that we were in a holding pattern until they came back.  Thankfully, the last one came back about two weeks ago.  Since then we have filled out and filed our I800A which is basically a form petitioning the US government to allow us to bring an orphan from China, into the US (and assuring them of  our suitability).  We have about 3 months to wait until we will be approved. 

Once the I800A was in, we had about 3 days of "breathing room" before we got an email from our adoption social worker that had all the information necessary for us to start compiling our dossier!  I saw the list and tried not to get stressed on the spot.  Breathe, Katie, breathe.  It is just a bunch of forms, right?  And, after all, the end result will be so worth it!

So, things are moving along.  I still pray we will have a new family member before the end of 2014.  It is all in His hands!

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Not-so-quick Takes: Inquiring minds want to know: More on the GAPS diet

Thanks, Jen, for hosting!

Since writing my first post about my family beginning the GAPS diet, I have gotten lots of questions about what we are doing.  Even though, most of these questions have been asked in real life, I decided to answer some of them here, just in case y'all want to know too!

1.  Exactly what do you eat? Or better yet, what can't you eat?

I know I was very vague on this point in my last post.  I did want to write more about it, but did not want the post to get too long.  Now, most people want to know what we cannot eat, so, I will start with some of the foods that we are currently not eating.  We do not eat ANY grains.  No wheat, oats, quinoa, rice.  Potatoes are out.  Currently, we are on the middle phase of the intro diet, so we are not even eating fruits yet.  And no raw vegetables.  Those will be added to our diet over the upcoming weeks, but for now they are out. 

And no sugar.  We can have some honey, but a very limited amount.  And that will be the case throughout the whole diet.

The diet is rich in whole foods: meats (non processed), cooked vegetables.  Broths are essential as they are healing to the gut.  And, as mentioned in my previous post, we have lots of fermented foods.

Once we are through with the Intro diet and onto the Full GAPS, we will be on a diet similar to a Paleo diet. (You can see a full list of recommended foods and foods to avoid here.)

2. Just how long are you on this diet?

For the average, healthy person, with no symptoms (digestive issues or other physical/emotional aliments), the Intro part of the diet should take about a month.  The Intro diet goes in stages and you progress, and add new foods, as symptoms dissipate. 

Once through the Into, it is recommended that one stays on the Full Gaps diet for a whole year!  I doubt we will go that long.  My goal is around 4-5 months and then we will slowly add back grains, but only fermented grains.

3. Coffee?

Ok, no one has actually asked me this,but I am putting it here, in writing, so that when my kids accuse me of breaking the GAPS diet, in public, because I am having coffee, I may have people out there that know the truth.

You can have coffee on the diet. BUT, it is not recommended. Coffee is very tough on the digestive tract.  Dr. Campbell does allow for coffee on the diet, but you can only have a limited amount and it has to be watered down.

I know for many that may sound gross, but it really is not.  I did not have any coffee the first week on GAPS.  Sunday, after mass, I decided to make some.  I drank about 1/4 of a cup of coffee mixed with lots of water.  And, to me, it tasted great.  I can no longer drink full strength coffee.  It makes me sick.  I learned this the hard way while at one of my favorite grocery stores, Trader Joe's.  I love how they have those tiny cups of free coffee.  I filled one up, thinking, "What could it hurt?  It is only a small cup of coffee."  I was wrong. so wrong.  My stomach was in knots for the rest of the day.

So now, I love my coffee weak, very weak.

4. Have you really seen changes?

Yes.  But first, I have to be completely honest, as I do not want to lead anyone astray by making you think that my young, picky eater is a complete convert.  We still have our moments when he does not want to eat what has been prepared.  This kid HATES broth, and when you are on GAPS, and broth is an essential part of the diet, it is hard to make things completely harmonious.  But, he is eating tons of food and working through his distaste for broth.

That aside, we have had the best two weeks of school that we have had in, what seems like, forever.  Everyone is working well and attending to their work.  I do not need to redirect my oldest son every 10 minutes and he does not throw a mini tantrum when I tell him to do his school.  Now, maybe this is all because we are just coming off of a break, but I really do not think so.   Plus, there are fewer fights amongst the kids and everyone just seems happier and calmer.  Again, these are all things that an outside observer may not even notice, but they seem so huge to me.

Aside from the kids, I feel better too.  The first week, I was tired and sluggish, but since then my energy has increased a great deal and I feel great all day long.  I no longer get that mid-day sluggishness and I do not get as irritable as I used to.

5. Can you workout on the GAPS diet?

Yes!  The first week, I only worked out limitedly. My runs, were more like walks and I did not have the energy for T25.  But since then I have been able to run and do T25 each day with ease and some days I do a double workout. 

6.  Ok, it sounds like a lot of work. You must have a lot of time on your hands, I could not do this, I am too busy.

OK, first, I do not have a lot of time on my hands.  I homeschool my kids, transport them to swim, OT, and scouts.  I am working furiously on our Pack's recharter and adoption paperwork.  I workout each day, get myself to daily mass at least 3x a week and I have clients several times a week.  I am not saying this to say "Look at me, I do so many things." I am just saying, we are all busy and this diet, like anything else is a matter of time management and planning.

EVERYTHING is made from scratch.  I have only been doing this for three weeks now and I spend a great deal more time in the kitchen cooking and prepping than I did before, but it is all about planning and being prepared ahead of time. 

Meal planning is not new to me, I used to plan our dinners each week.  Now, I just plan every meal for each day,  I have to know what we are eating at every meal.  What makes this easy is that I always have a large supply of broth and veggies in the fridge.   Soup is a quick and easy meal to make.  I also make sure I always have nuts either soaking or roasting, keifer or yogurt being made, and veggies fermenting.  I either have bone broth stewing in the crock pot or chicken stock being made on the stove. I make sure I am always making, or have just made the the staples of the diet.

There are days that this can seem overwhelming, but because of it, I am finding I waste less and less time on non-essentials like Facebook, reading blogs, or organizing my sock drawer (I do not really organize my sock drawer, by the way!).  I know that the cooking and cleaning up takes a lot of time, so I am much more intentional about all the other time I have, if that makes sense.  I actually believe that the extra prep has made me better at focusing what needs to be done; my prayer time, my workouts, homeschooling, laundry, etc and getting it done more effectively.

So, yes it is a lot of work, but is manageable when planned out accordingly. 

7.  Other Resources.

 I have found a bunch of great blogs out there that describe the GAPS diet and give a look at the healing and changes other people have had through the GAPS.  Plus, there are some pretty yummy recipes out there too.  See these great blogs for more details.

The Well Fed Homestead


Grain-Free Foodies

GAPS Diet Journey

Health, Home and Happiness

8.  Just a quick word on buying Organic

As mentioned in my first post, our grocery bills have increased, doubled in fact, since starting GAPS.  At the very beginning, I was buying organic everything.  That lasted two weeks.  Our budget simply cannot handle that sort of expense, so I buy some organic meats, and others conventional.  Most of our veggies are conventionally grown, but others are organic.  While organic is ideal, I do not think it is essential to be successful on the GAPS diet.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year, New Transformations: The GAPS diet

The week after Christmas, the whole family started the GAPS diet.  This has been a long time in coming as I have threatened my family, lovingly, with it for years.  Simply, the GAPS diet is designed to detox and heal the gut.  Dr. Natasha McBride Campbell formulated the diet while researching diets for her autistic son.  Research shows that so many ailments, both metal and physical, are rooted in the health of the gut.  Through the GAPS diet, Dr. Campbell has been able to reverse the symptoms of autism in her son and alleviate symptoms of numerous clients.
As someone who has done many detoxes and knows the importance of gut health, I was drawn to the diet.  Although we, as a family, eat fairly healthy; we have eliminated cereals, and any artificial coloring, preservatives, etc and eat organic, whole foods as much as possible, I still felt there was far more we could do for our health. My youngest was GREAT eater until he hit about 2 years old.  For the last three years he has primarily subsisted on carbs.  Getting him to eat meat had been a fight and bribery was usually involved. He is an extremely strong willed child, so when we went to restaurants, we was pretty much allowed to eat what he wanted so as not to cause a scene.  I have desperately wanted to break this in him, but he continues to grow at a normal rate even though he eats little and limited types of food, so I had not been moved to any significant action.

Then, early this fall, my oldest was officially diagnosed with two learning disabilities and ADHD inattentive type.  And, as I began to look for exercises, therapies, games, etc, that could help him, the GAPS diet came up again.  By October, I was ready to start the diet.  Is tomorrow too soon?  Luckily, a friend, who has also done GAPS, talked some sense into me and suggested that it might be a good idea to wait until after the holidays were over.  Because, who wants to attend parties and dinners where you cannot eat anything that is offered!  So, we enjoyed the holidays and prepared to start GAPS in the new year.
Homemade dill pickles and sauerkraut, staples of GAPS

We are currently on what is called the Intro diet.  I will not give you tons of details, but we eat lots of broth, meats,  cooked vegetables, and homemade fermented foods such as yogurt, keifer and sauerkraut. The first few days were rough.  I had a detox reaction the first day and was SICK.  The boys had a tough time adjusting and kept asking questions like, "Mom, will we ever get to have donuts after mass again?" (and then tears ensued).

A eating GAPS pancakes made with squash, eggs and almond butter
 Now we are about 12 days into the diet and there have been huge changes.  First, our youngest, has  transformed his eating habits!  The first few days were HARD and he refused to eat much of anything.  Three days into the diet, I made the mistake of taking him to the grocery store, where he had a break down and sobbed and sobbed, asking to be taken off GAPS.  But, that must have been a turning point for him, because that night he ate, and ate, and ate.  And he has continued devouring foods that he would not even touch before!  He can still be picky, but I will take desiring broccoli over cauliflower rather than refusing to eat any vegetable.

Plus, it is evident that everyone's tastes have changed.  My kids will eat plain keifer and plain yogurt with no complaint, when, before, NONE of them would even touch yogurt if it were not sweetened in some way.  As of right now, the whining about dinner and what I made has stopped.  Everyone eats and is happy with what is in front of them.

I have seen behavior differences in my boys too.  Nothing significant, but overall they seem to be more calm.  They still are rowdy boys, but it is just on a lower level than before.  And, J has been much better at being able to attend to his school work. 

And, finally, I have lost weight! Although that is not the intent of the diet, I have lost all of my holiday weight gain and am back in the 120's again even with eating lots of meats and foods with higher fat content (the good fats).

My family has declared egg drop soup as their favorite meal!

As pleased as I am about the changes, I do want to share some of the cons:

- My family's appetite has increased significantly.  Each family member is eating MUCH more than they did before.  They are snacking much less, but eating so much more at each meal. To give you an example; my family just finished off 3 dozen eggs in two days!

- We have had to adjust our food budget.  Eating lots of good quality, organic meats, vegetables, etc is not easy on the budget.  This will ease some when we can introduce more vegetables and have fruits.  But for right now, we have had to find ways to rearrange our budget.

- It is time consuming.  Everything is made from scratch.  You make your own broths, yogurt, keifer, sauerkraut.  Almonds need to be soaked overnight, then dried in the oven, then processed in the food processor to make almond butter, almond meal, etc.  This means lots of cooking and lots of pots and pans to be cleaned.  If you were to walk through my kitchen right now, you would see bone broth simmering in a crockpot,  jars of nuts soaking,  and keifer, tucked on a shelf, fermenting.  Yet, even though it is time consuming and there are times, between homeschooling and food prep, I feel like I am spending my whole day in the kitchen; I am starting to really enjoy it.  There is a pleasure in making foods from scratch that you normally just buy at the grocery store. It adds a peaceful rhythm to our days.

Ok, this post is much longer than I intended so I will end it here. This is just the beginning of our GAPS journey.  I will update you all on how it continues to go!