Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Whole 30 Take 2

We are halfway through our second Whole 30. Well, Dustin is halfway through his second. Considering I was a dropout the first time, this is the first time I made it this far. In my defense, Ryder was only 4 months old the last time I attempted it and it is nearly impossible to keep up your calories with Whole 30 when you're nursing a baby around the clock. I was fortunate (if that's the right word), enough to be able to nurse Ryder through his full first year (thanks to his aversion to bottles). Well, fast forward to his first birthday and I knew that I needed to change something. Between pregnancy and breastfeeding for a year, my eating needed some cleaning up or else I was going to be left with a lot of extra calories that had nowhere else to go. Dustin, being the willing husband he is, was excited about obliged to do it with me.

For those that aren't familiar, the Whole 30 is 30 days of strictly clean eating. It basically cleans out all of the junk that slows your body down and detoxes it from everything that builds up inside you over time.

No sugar.
No dairy.
No grains.
No legumes.
No preservatives.
No processed food.
No alcohol.

The next question we always get- "so what do you eat??"

The answer- Real food. Fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy fats.

For anyone that knows me, the above list was basically my entire diet so to say this would be challenging is an understatement. I run on pasta, pizza, ice cream and Chick-fil-A. But honestly, I wanted a challenge. For the past five years essentially, my body has not felt like my own. Between four miscarriages, one healthy pregnancy and one exclusively breastfed baby, I wanted something that could make me feel like I was regaining control of my body. I also wanted to lose my last 10 pounds of baby weight so figured this would do the trick along with my trips to the gym.

We have rounded the halfway mark and honestly the first week was R.O.U.G.H. Your body essentially goes through major sugar withdrawals with symptoms I could only imagine are similar to a drug detox. When your body is used to running on sugar and foods with a high glycemic index, it takes some major adjusting to learn to burn strictly fat (which is one of the ultimate goals of the program). But by day 6, we were both starting to see the light. Now on day 16, we can honestly say we feel great. I have more energy, I wake up easier in the morning, have been sleeping better at night and have lost a few pounds. Those results are enough to keep me motivated to the end and even cleaning up my eating a bit after we're done.

But let's be real- this is not a total lifestyle change. I love food too much to give up my ice cream, pasta, pizza and Chick-fil-A all together. I will say that it's going to make me think about food differently. I used to look forward to cookies during naptime, ice cream at night and going out to eat for the food aspect of it. Now, I have more energy to be productive during naptime, will be able to look at ice cream as a once or twice a week treat instead of every night and can look forward to going out to eat for the relational aspect of it instead of keeping food as a focal point. I'm not going to lie, the Whole 30 is a very antisocial meal plan, so you can't really eat or drink when you're out with others. And when you do, you become one of those super annoying customers that needs a meal customized just for you. Dustin has been packing a lunch in Finn's lunchbox to take on his breakfast and lunch meetings.

Here is my list of tips for anyone considering doing the program:

1. Prep is key. Have plenty of snacks ready to go, because hangry is dangerous on Whole30. I make these coconut/date balls and this trail mix that we always have available.  I also pre-chop peppers, onions and mushrooms in the beginning of the week and we cook those with eggs, spinach and chicken sausage every morning.

2. Stay busy during times when you're more prone to snack. You're less likely to eat mindlessly when you're mind is occupied with something else.

3. If you're feeling hungry all the time, you're not doing it right. Chances are, you need to add more healthy fats to your meals (pour in some extra olive oil, add an avocado, almond butter, coconut oil, etc.) I was starving the first few days and could not figure out why and it was because I wasn't bulking up my meals with enough good fat.

Here are some of my absolute favorite things to have on hand:
-Aidells chicken and apple sausage. I buy ours at Costco. This is what we have with veggies and eggs every morning.

-Hard boiled eggs, coconut date balls and trail mix make for the perfect quick fix snacks.

-Almond butter. So good on apples and bananas. I found the best deal at Costco as it's not usually cheap.

-Trader Joe's plantain chips, homemade guacamole, and red salsa autentica. You're welcome.

-Trader Joe's coconut oil, coconut oil spray and ghee for all your cooking needs.

-Trader Joe's dried pineapple. Most all of their dried fruit has added sugar except the dried pineapple and banana chips and some mixed berries that I haven't been able to find lately.

- La Croix. I like the berry, but if you buy the lime add some mint and lime and you have yourself a Whole30 mojito

-Trader Joe's canned tuna/chicken and Tessemae's mayo (found at Whole Foods). That was the only mayo I could find in stores that is Whole 30 approved. Or you can make your own if you have a lot of time on your hands. 

-Bare crunchy apple chips . Again a great Costco find.

-Larabars. I buy the apple pie flavor from Costco and they're pretty good. Whole30 will tell you not to go overboard with these, but desperate times call for desperate measures and I always have them on hand in the diaper bag when we're out.

Lastly, these are a few of my favorite meals:

Breakfast- sausage, veggies, spinach and eggs. Also, I made these muffins minus the vanilla, because that really isn't Whole 30 compliant and they were amazing. I am fully aware Whole 30 says this is a big no-no, because you're not supposed to recreate baked goods. But cheater, cheater muffin eater right here :)

Lunch- leftovers or chicken salad/ tuna salad made with Whole 30 mayo in a lettuce wrap with some avocado. This ranch chicken salad is really yummy.

Dinners- Here are a few of my fave recipes...

Date, Shallot and Rosemary Chicken

Ground Turkey Plantain Nachos

Any type of zoodle pasta. I make a version of this with ground turkey.

Just about anything from this website, but especially the buffalo chicken stuffed peppers and carne asada. Tessemae's makes some great sauces that are Whole 30 approved and our Whole Foods carries a number of them in the store. I used the buffalo sauce with this recipe and their mayo with chicken salad, egg salad and tuna. I'm not going to lie, their ketchup was pretty gross, but I managed to mix it in with ground beef to make some mini meatloaf muffins.

So that's about it for now.  I would love to hear some of your favorite Whole 30 recipes.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Two and a half

On March 19th, our sweet first born turned two and a half. With all of the excitement of Ryder's first birthday the same day, I didn't want too much  time to pass before I got this post up here.

Our sweet Finn, you are all boy! You love:

-being outside and playing in dirt
-playing sports (any and all with a ball, but especially golf and soccer)
-stacking blocks and yelling "ah-some!" when you stack them really high
-coloring and drawing "si-maces" (smiley faces)
-helping mommy cook and clean (especially vacuum)
-helping daddy do yard work with his "mo-mo" and "bo-fo" (lawn mower and leaf blower)
-going to the zoo, playground and Children's Museum

Your favorites are:
Shows- Daniel Tiger, Curious George, Thomas and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Song- "Amazing Grace"
Foods- You're really not picky and I'm so thankful for that! Your favorites are still noodles, fruit, broccoli, waffles, smoothies, Trader Joe's fish nuggets, pancakes and Chick-fil-A

You're still only 28lbs and about 35in so you're still quite the little guy! You're wearing size 2T-3T clothing and size 6 shoes and we haven't kicked the diapers just yet so you're in size four.

Your best friend is your baby brother Ryder and it is just the cutest thing ever to watch the two of you interact. You love giving him hugs and kisses and still want to hold him in your lap until he gets "too heavy". You share your toys with him until you don't want to and then you bring him something else while you take back your toy.

You'll be starting two-day preschool this Fall and I'm pretty sure you'll love it. You are the most outgoing, friendly little guy. You never let a stranger pass you without a loud "hi!" If they don't hear you, you keep saying it until they say it back. You walk right up to kids on the playground and ask to play- it doesn't matter if they're 2 or 12. You love going to Waumba Land at church, storytime at the library and the play area at the YMCA.

Now for a large picture dump with some highlights (and low lights) from the last six months:



You love your dentist, Dr. Aaron!




We got a little snow to play in


You love any and all tools, but your favorites are your "hamma and skee-dive" (hammer and screwdriver).
We got to go to Dabo's pizza party in Clemson when we made the playoffs.
 You usually fall asleep sitting up in the corner of your bed. You still love sleeping in your "seepsack", and mommy loves the fact that you can't climb out of your crib in it. Win. Win.

 You love playing hide and seek, but I'm not sure you get the concept of "hiding" yet.
 I can almost guarantee that music will be in your future in some shape or form. You love all music and love naming the instruments you hear. After church, we get you from your class and you make a bee-line for the stage in the auditorium.



You certainly made our Christmas one to remember when we spent six days at Texas Children's due to your asthma and RSV.
 
You love doing "work" outside and you don't love having to come inside.

You're obsessed with your "yi-yi" and I'm pretty sure the feeling's mutual.



You love tractors and diggers- anywhere! When things start to go downhill late in the day, we'll take a drive around the new Suntrust Park being built near our house. Also, they're doing some major construction at the YMCA.








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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Big news for our little family!

Last week, Dustin officially accepted a position on staff at our church, Buckhead Church, on their Community Groups team. The ministry of KLife and everyone involved will always hold a special place in our hearts, but we are excited for the new things God has in store for our family. Below is the letter Dustin sent out to everyone in the KLife community.

Dear KLIFE Families,

For eight years, KLIFE has been an extension of my life and I have told many that I could see myself doing this for eight more. I have said on a number of occasions from on stage, through emails or just a casual conversation at a Friday night football game that I have a deep belief in what God is doing through KLIFE and it is a privilege to be along for the ride. Just as God called me to KLIFE, He is now calling me to another ministry.

A few months ago, Buckhead Church contacted me regarding an open staff position on their Community Groups Team. Stephanie and I prayed about this potential conversation, and it was clear that the Lord wanted us to listen. This conversation led to another and then several more. Each step along the way came with new confirmation of the Lord’s leading in this direction.

I love my job with KLIFE. I love working with Addie and D who are like a sister and brother to me and two of the most dynamic people and leaders I have ever been around; I love the team of volunteer leaders I get to serve alongside, the KLIFE families, our Board who has been so incredibly supportive and open-handed along the way, my small group guys and the incredible students I am lucky to be around every week…the zeal they have for life is so contagious.

The community of people whom I have been blessed to serve alongside has become like family. Stephanie and I cannot adequately express our gratitude for the opportunities given to us to participate and lead in this ministry. I am a better man, husband and father because of this community.

The future of Atlanta KLIFE is bright, and I believe the best is yet to come. This community is blessed to have Addie and D involved in the lives of Atlanta students, pointing them to Jesus and being another voice of God’s truth. I look forward to coming alongside this ministry in new ways and am especially thrilled for the day that my sons walk into their first Super K in just a few years.

I ask for your prayers during the next couple of months as I serve KLIFE faithfully through the school year, as well as our mission trip to Haiti, and transition to a new season of life with Buckhead Church. I am excited for God’s continued plan for my family as well as His plan for Atlanta KLIFE!

Sent with love by the Oprea family,

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter

We were in town for Easter this year for the first time in a long time and we had such a fun little family weekend! On Friday, my parents and grandparents came to town for a few hours to celebrate Easter. It was absolutely gorgeous outside, so after naps we headed to a park near our house with a picnic dinner for the boys and ice cream.

 This one wants to run with his brother so badly, but this is the preferred mode of transportation.





 Someone rode home in just a diaper.

On Saturday morning, it was cold and misting rain outside. Obviously, the perfect weather for
an Easter egg hunt. This boy didn't care. This is his "mommy, take my picture! teeeese!" face.
 
 Once he finally understood the grass was full of "ehhs" (eggs) and not "bawls" (balls), this kid was excited.




 The downside of not being able to walk yet.
 And then sweet big brother shared some of his stash.

 Finn got to see his friend "yi-yan" (Ryan).
 


 When Ryder finally got out of the stroller.
 So much joy.

 We went to our church's Saturday night service instead of Sunday morning. About 30 seconds before we were walking out the door, I realized that meant we weren't going to get a "cute, spring-y family Easter picture" on Sunday morning. It still wasn't warm and sunny outside, so this is what we ended up with and I could not be more pleasantly surprised at the result. Self-timer, first try. Winner.
 We went to Bartaco after the service, because it was loud and so are we.
 
Our boys' Easter baskets this year. The theme was "bath toys" because I had to toss all of ours recently due to mold (gross). I love the Green Toys brand because they are a quality recycled plastic that can go in the dishwasher. My sister in law got Ryder the submarine for Christmas and Finn got the ferryboat for Easter. The foam letters are cheap enough that I don't mind replacing those once or twice a year. Since Finn still doesn't really know what candy is, he got Trader Joe's Easter gummies and could not have been more excited about them. Each boy also got a book- Ryder got Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site and Finn got Demolition. Both are fantastic if you have little boys or a little girl that likes tractors :)











 Since we went to church on Saturday night, we ventured out to a new playground on Sunday morning. If you're in the Atlanta area, you need to check out Morgan Falls Overlook Park. It was so much fun- wide open spaces, clean safe equipment, a huge pavilion with picnic tables and a great view of the river. Dustin and I laughed when we had these thoughts, because we have reached the point in our life where we'll drive 20 minutes to find a "quality playground".





 And just some after nap puddle jumping for good measure.




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