Nutrition and single parents….part 3 of 3

Thank you, single parents who commented on my two-part blog series a couple of weeks ago.

I’m quoting Amanda from that blog series because what she said merits front-and-center attention:

“Robyn, I know what you’re going through, and thanks so much for writing on this critical topic! There’s very little information online about how to handle this problem.

Due to school and distance issues, my 11-year-old boy lives with his dad during the week and is with me on the weekends. One of the reasons we divorced is over the issue of nutrition. The dad is one of those poor folks who believes the ketchup on a Big Mac counts as a vegetable, and he’s not interested in learning anything different. If the FDA says it’s OK for us, then where’s the problem, right?

I recently heard from my son that he’s being made to take fluoride pills at night because their RO water treatment filters it out of the tap water. I asked, why do you think your system does that??? But dad heard from the dentist that if you don’t get “enough” fluoride, all your teeth will decay and fall out. If a doctor says it’s true, that’s all the proof he needs. Never mind the evidence I present to the contrary. I’m not a doctor, so my information can’t be valid, apparently.

So Robyn, I look forward to your entry tomorrow on how you deal with this emotionally. All I can do (without bad-talking his dad, which I understand is detrimental to my son’s emotional health) is present alternative information while he’s here, and hope that it somehow sinks in.

One ray of hope is this: I was raised by a hippie health food mom who shopped at co-ops and knew way ahead of time how important whole-food nutrition is. In fact, I was the only kid in my neighborhood who had a whole-wheat birthday cake every year. (OK, I have some trauma around that. :) When I finally “got free” from her influence and went off to college, I narrowed my nutritional plan to two food groups: beer and pizza, in that order. I gained 25 pounds and developed some weird blood pressure problem that had me passing out after a flight of stairs. Man, I felt and looked like crap.

Here’s the good news: now, 25 years later, I’m a natural health researcher and a passionate and committed servant of anyone who asks for my input on nutritional or health issues. My mom’s lessons stayed with me through those turbulent years, and although I got off track now and then, her love and persistence paid off.

So will ours as we continue to deliver this important information to our children in a compassionate and loving way. Stay strong! My suggestion: don’t meet resistance with more resistance, but trust that your message will get through. Children are very sensitive creatures, and instinctively lean toward messages delivered with love and a high vibration. Encourage them to feel the contrast in themselves between different foods and ideas, and they’ll often correct course naturally.

Much love to Robyn and all you GSG readers! Keep up the good work!”

From Robyn:

Believe it or not, we had no conflict over diet or how to raise the kids, when I was married!

Nothing has honed my communication skills more than being divorced! Trying to inoculate your child against bad information without criticizing the source of that information…..that’s the tightrope single parents walk.

I have my hat off in great respect for all the divorced parents who try very hard to show respect to the other parent. After all, the child knows he is HALF his father. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying or doing something for the cheap grab at “favorite parent” status. It’s just a bad thing to do on every level.

I love what Amanda says: to just trust that the message is getting through, even if a period of beer-and-pizza might take place. Me, too: my entire sophomore year of college was spent eating almost nothing but Top Ramen and bananas. The year I was pregnant with my first son, right before I bottomed out and turned it around, I ate mostly burgers and fries, Ben ‘N Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream, 7-11 Nachos, and I drank all the liquid out of pickle jars. But eventually my mom’s good teachings and example kicked in, with a vengeance!

KRISTIN ACCIDENTALLY TURNS VEGETARIAN

Kristin is my closest friend and just came on working for GSG full-time on June 1. She was here all the time anyway, putting in nearly FT hours, especially with all the traveling we’ve been doing. She has made my classes SO much more efficient and effective. I love her–she’s the best thing that has happened to GSG.com in a long time. She’s strong in all the places I am weak, and she’s so loyal to me and helpful to a fault. I am so blessed.

On May 26, at a class for almost 250 people in Sandy, Utah, she said to the crowd, “You can’t hang around Robyn and not be affected by this movement.” I’d described how for a long time we’d have staff meetings and I’d have my quart of green smoothie, and she’d have her quart of Diet Coke. Then one day we suddenly BOTH had a green smoothie at staff meeting. (I was secretly–and kind of openly, too–so thrilled!) I am watching Kristin change before my eyes. She said to me recently, “If I drank TWO quarts of green smoothie a day, I basically could never get fat again.” (She’s lost 40 lbs.)

On June 3, she said to me, “I think I’ve accidentally become a vegetarian.”

LAUGHING OUT LOUD! (Keep in mind, this girl is from IDAHO. They don’t eat their potatoes without meat there!) That’s what hanging out at my house all day, working, will do to ya. She said that the only problems with this are:

(1) “I like meat!” I told her, I used to, too. You’re not me, of course, but I literally never miss it now. The only time is if I walk into someone’s house, when I’m really hungry on Sunday night, and they’re cooking a roast. (And the once a year that happens? I have a little! I can only stand a little anyway—and maybe it’s good for Vitamin B12. I’m not actually sure that’s important, since your body stores a 3-year supply, and since there are a handful of plant sources of B12 or an analog. But I digress.)

And, Kristin’s other problem with “accidental vegetarianism”…

(2) “I have all these memories of my family past, and my kids will tell anyone, ‘My mom is the greatest cook!’ And the dishes they tell people about, that I make, are pot roast, homemade rolls, and chicken-n-dumplings.”

But like so many Americans, Kristin now finds herself seriously gluten intolerant. And feeling better and better the further she gets from the S.A.D. Eating white flour once a week does not cause her a problem, but if she eats white bread a few days in a row? She’s practically doubled over with abdominal pain and bloating.

Her semi-final comment today, on that subject, was, “Well, I’ll limit it to once a week. Sunday nights.”

Sounds good to me. I always say:

“Incremental progress is progress.”

When you find something else you love on Sunday nights, you might replace the roast like I did (I made a mean roast on Sunday nights, too, 20 years ago!).   I believe no one shifts these family traditions till they WANT to. So I’m not going to pound on Kristin about that one meal a week. (Or anyone, actually. Pretty proud of all the cool stuff she’s done lately, though!)

And, just another plug for young moms: if you do this NOW, you don’t have to “undo” family memories in order to shift to a healthier, plant-based diet later. Then the family memories that your kids will remember you for in 20 years aren’t worse, they’re just different. That pint of GS always waiting for them in the fridge after school, stuff drying in the dehydrator…..Sunday night lentil tacos, black-bean burgers, hummus quesadillas….or whatever! (The possibilities are endless.)

If it makes anyone feel better, my mom never made a roast, in my childhood, not once. I seem to have survived.   😉

Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous? Part 3 of 3

If you feel you are annoying your family, go ahead and transfer their feelings to me if you want!

If it helps you, you can say,

“Green Smoothie Girl says my ‘obsession’ is normal and that it’s just a phase. She had that phase, too. The only way through it is THROUGH it! Now she’s way past it and doesn’t really even talk about food unless someone asks.”

Even when someone asked, back in my “OBSESSIVE” (read: hyper-learning) phase, I said too much. I overestimated people’s interest routinely. In fact, I remember one member of my former husband’s family asking me questions that I *knew* intuitively were really just bait. They were passive aggression, edged with sarcasm.

But I’d take the questions as legitimate, and I’d answer them at length, from my recently acquired knowledge. (Knowledge no one trusted yet, because just a month before, I ate just like they did!)

In my gut, I knew the “bait” questions were designed to be socially acceptable criticism, statements more than questions. But I purposefully ignored it to further my agenda. I think my agenda was pure: I wanted THEM to acquire the health benefits that were occurring for us. I wanted them to validate and enjoy the exciting things happening in my family. But my methods were suspect:

“Here, this is the path I’m on, so you better get on it, too! Let me ram some information down your throat! You can FEEL my disapproval as I change the rules we’ve always lived by!”

Well, hindsight is 20/20. I look back and feel pretty chagrined. I’ve learned (the hard way!) to answer questions briefly. Then wait for another question rather than deliver a long, unwanted lecture.

I’ve also learned that many folks who are “health nuts” are actually perennially obsessive people, and people who live in a place of fear. (They don’t do us any favors, trying to convert the world to whole foods.)

I know that if you’re living in the fear place, or you’re feeling like thoughts about food and food shopping/preparation have taken over your life, it might be time for a little introspection.

I *started* in the fear place. You may know my story: I thought my 18-month old son might die. I was having panic attacks and not sleeping, consequently.

I am in the OPPOSITE place now. I know that I’ve put building blocks in place that minimize my disease risk….so I do not worry and wring my hands about the health problems others my age are virtually all suffering from.

Am I immune from health problems? No. I’m just much less susceptible to them than everyone else around me, and there’s no need to fear, because I’m doing what I can reasonably do.

The meditations I’m working on will address these fears that, I’m afraid, attract a lot of people to this site and to my program. It’s natural that people suffering from anxiety will attach that anxiety to what goes in their mouth.

But it’s a MUCH nicer place to be to be ENJOYING the journey, doing it out of a positive love place rather than a dark fear place.

This is a good time to check yourself and ask, “Am I in a natural first part of a journey, where it’s natural to get a little out of balance because I’m gobbling up information and it’s blowing my mind? Or am I STUCK in food obsession and fear?”

Big, big difference.

Any thoughts about this, feel free to share!

A tribute to the late, great Paul Leatham

If you’ve heard me speak, you’ve likely heard me refer to Paul Leatham, one of the greatest influences of my life. Shortly before I spoke in San Diego last month, I got an email that he had passed away. He was 63 and died of lingering complications from a motorcycle accident.

When my first child was extremely ill and my own life was destroyed by caring for him, being up all night, and worrying, three people told me to go see Paul.   I have a strange pattern in my life of important things happening in three’s. So the third time, I moved heaven and earth to get to Paul Leatham’s lecture immediately and implement his counsel.

I listened with great skepticism. At that moment in my life, I was fully in the throes of administering drugs to my son for his problems, trusting the doctors, and embracing Pop Culture and its dietary excesses. I had a brand new master’s degree and thought I was kind of smart. I liked science and proof, and I disliked charlatans selling stuff and making big claims.

I was also desperate. Therefore my mind opened a crack. His lecture covered many unconventional topics, but I thought about the content for weeks and it made more and more sense.

Paul Leatham wasn’t even selling anything.

He’s the one who insisted we eat a 60-80% raw, 95%+ plant-based diet. That’s what I have done since I heard him speak 16 years ago until now. It has changed my life profoundly for the good. And his work has cascaded into influence on far more than just me and my kids.

He was a self-educated iridologist and told me things about my own health that rang true, just from examining a complex system of lesions and other evidence in the irises of my eyes that correspond to body systems and organs. Every single thing he said to me was true.

For instance, he said, looking at my irises through a microscope: “Your right ovary is very weak.” (He didn’t know it, but I had recently had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, wherein my right ovary basically exploded, and I nearly bled to death before a doctor cut me open and stopped the bleeding to save my life.  I would have been dead at 27 if it weren’t for a medical doctor.)

So yes, it’s fair to say my right ovary was very weak. There was only a piece of it left.

He taught me to nurture my adrenal glands, that were burned out from stress and sugar.

He reinforced my early-in-life lessons (from my grandmother’s and uncle’s cancer) that food can heal us. It can destroy us, too. But it can be profoundly powerful in putting us back together.

I will forever be indebted to Paul Leatham. I didn’t know him well, personally, just listened to his lectures several times and followed his program. I will spend the rest of my life trying to be one-tenth the teacher he was.

I have been praying for his family (wife Wendy and 9 children). May they be blessed because of the great work that Paul did.

Taking stock of progress…part 2 of 2

Once upon a time, my whole diet was Ben & Jerry’s, pizza, French bread, Diet Coke, and a fruit or salad mixed in to make myself feel better about it all. I started to change one thing at a time. Sometimes I’d have periods of big progress, and other periods of slight backsliding.

It was almost imperceptible, the forward motion, but now I find my whole kitchen is full of…..

A container of sprouted flax crackers on the counter.

Bags of buckwheat, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oat groats, currants, and homemade sundried tomatoes in the fridge.

Coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil in my pantry.

Jars of homemade raw sauerkraut in my food storage.

Always a quart or two of kefir growing on the counter.

The top shelf of my fridge full of young Thai coconuts. And pints and quarts of green smoothies.

Today I stopped to take stock and chose NOT to beat myself up because of how long it’s been since I made sourdough whole-grain bread.

Instead, I chose to be blissed out today because (a) I did a perfect headstand for the first time, and (b) my daughter asked me last night if she could have a handful each of pea sprouts and fresh blueberries in the fridge.

(There are lots of things to do WRONG as a mom, and there’s plenty of reminders of that when you’re raising teenagers! But apparently I’ve got some things right, and today I’m going to live in that spot, bask in it. They’ve developed tastes for good food, and I know how to shop for,  grow, cook, and store the good stuff.)

Sometimes when something stressful happens, Kristin and I remind each other, “It’s PERFECT!” This is our code for, “What just happened might not be what you wanted, what you would have chosen. But it generally works out to be better than you think. And it teaches you really cool stuff. Maybe even provides you something you wouldn’t have thought to want. So, it’s PERFECT in its ability to instruct and shape you. At a minimum, it gives you a story to tell and something to laugh at.”

Please, today, congratulate yourself on your progress. Let’s spend today ignoring anything we want to do in the future that isn’t part of our current reality, and just BE. When I’m fully present in my NOW, I’m far happier.

I’m so proud of you for being here, on this journey, to being a better you. To influencing people in subtle and positive ways to raise the bar for themselves. I’m just brimming over with gratitude for PROGRESS! Congratulations on yours–wherever you are in the journey! Feel free to share your own here, today and always.

Taking stock of progress….part 1 of 2

Last night I went to Zumba with Matthew, as I often do, and he talked me into staying late for yoga afterwards. I’d already worked out that morning, then played my last league tennis match of the season mid-day. We were already planning to be in another yoga class, at another gym, early the next morning. The point is—I didn’t really need or even want to do yoga!

But I stayed, and something really cool happened.

When I first started doing yoga 5 years ago, I found holding the Plank really daunting. I couldn’t do it for 60 seconds. Now Plank makes me yawn. Five minutes straight, in Plank? Eh.

I was also so intimidated by balance poses where only the hands are on the floor. I’d see people doing them and tell myself that there was NO WAY–because I was the ridiculous spaz in gymnastics when I was a kid. Couldn’t even do a cartwheel. For a while, then, I didn’t even try Crow, Side Crow, etc.

After a year or two, I found myself doing all those balance poses. And holding them for 30 seconds or more. I can almost do the splits. I can go into a full squat on the floor with my feet touching each other. I can do Plow with most of my legs over my head in complete contact with the floor behind me. I could never have done any of these things when I was 16 years old.

There’s just one thing I had never done. A headstand. Never even tried it! It looked hard and scary.

Anyway, after my long day, late last night, I was in Crow and found myself accidentally tipping forward. The top of my head was on my mat, and my whole body was in the perfect pose to lift into a headstand–knees on my elbows.

So I did. And I held it for a couple of seconds before toppling on my back—THWAT!!–right next to Matthew, startling him and making a bunch of people near me laugh out loud.

So this morning, we went to the other yoga class, and I found myself in the same position. I lifted into a headstand and just held it, perfectly. For close to a minute.

Isn’t this just the way of life?

We keep doing the right thing, keep practicing, messing up sometimes, and sometimes we don’t even notice how massive our progress has been! Because it was so gradual. This morning I had the elated thought, “OMG! I am kinda good at yoga!” (I never realized it….I was still in that beginner’s place of thinking of the things I couldn’t do, or hadn’t tried, and comparing myself to the teacher.)

What does this have to do with our whole-foods lifestyle, yours and mine? Well, you can think about that, but I’ll write about it tomorrow.