The No Diet Challenge Step 9: What’s the Deal Between Organic and Regular Food?

applesI love to eat healthy foods. Sometimes when I’m at the store I buy stuff that I think is pretty good for me- then I realize that the person next to me is eating clean. No worries, my food will be clean later too, after I wash it.

Sometimes, I accidentally pick up something that’s organic and don’t realize it…and don’t care.
But later on, I read an article on organic and wonder if I should…

This week’s No Diet Challenge is to learn more about eating healthy and that includes organic and eating clean. Since I’m not the expert on this, I want to refer you to these links I found helpful:

What does organic mean?
Should we all be buying organic?
Are we healthy if we aren’t eating organic?
What is clean eating?
Can I afford to eat clean?
Is it worth it?

Stay tuned for the No Diet Challenge Step 10: What’s in your grocery cart & mine.

6 Weeks of the No Diet Challenge: Are You Still on Board or Do You Need Motivation?

%22Little Girl Eating Banana%22 by imagerymajestic

Let’s sum up the last 6 weeks of the No Diet Challenge:

Step 1 Week 1: Watch what you eat/make a food/mood log
Step 2 Week 2: Why scales and diets are dangerous
Step 3 Week 3: Balance bad/good food intake, learn 4 habits to help us
Step 4 Week 4: Get concerned about food labels (and why)!
Step 5 Week 5: SUGAR IS A DRUG – ditch some of it!
Step 6 Week 6: I wasn’t always skinny & the No Diet Challenge isn’t just about food

If you aren’t motivated by any of that:
Summer is a great time to take the No Diet Challenge because…

#1 The weather is more cooperative and helps us get outdoors and be more active!

#2 Our bodies don’t feel like they do in the winter (when all we want to do is hunker down with
comfort food)!

#3 The meals we make are often of different substance (less heavy, less starchy, less sauces).

Your Family Has So Many Reasons to do this now.
But, if you need More Motivation…

Watch for Step 7: How All Food Affects Us & Why We Should Care (a post not to be missed)


photo credit:”Little Girl Eating Banana” by imagery majestic

The No Diet Challenge: Step 6 I Wasn’t Always Skinny (And What I Did About It)

I have to admit that I did start out small. I was 88 lbs all through my teens, then 94 lbs in my early twenties. But, I wasn’t always skinny. In 1997, I gained over 65 pounds with my first child, then gave birth two more times after that and did not escape the baby weight.

This weekend, as I dug out this old photo of me and my newborn (now 16), my son who is 10, peeked over my shoulder and gasped, “WHOA!! Those thighs!” He wasn’t talking about the baby; I really looked different then. He did apologize afterwards, but I think the damage was already done.

enhance-4After Baby #1
Just because I was tiny to start with, didn’t mean I automatically shrank back down again after giving birth- like some people do when they leave the hospital in pre-pregnancy clothes…

How do they do that!?

enhance-6After Baby #2
I have to say that I don’t have an ideal weight that I’m shooting for (remember, I don’t own a scale), and I’ve never been back down to my starting weight- and frankly don’t care. I also don’t care what other people weigh.

enhance-2Right before Baby #3
I just want to feel healthy.

And when I’m not healthy, I don’t feel good physically, don’t function well emotionally, and don’t parent well either. So after having that first baby, I actually had to do something I’d never done before…I had to exercise.

The following are successful routines that helped me through the years to get, and stay, healthy:

After child #1:
– I watched what I ate
-Busted my tail on workout videos 3-4 days a week
-I walked daily (with tons of uphill)

enhance-5About a year after Baby #1
I used Denise Austin videos; back then she was amazing. She actually has videos out now too I believe; she got me to burn my abs bad. (Now a days there are workout plans you can even stream on your phone or TV.)

Four years later, and after child #2:

-I chased around child #1

-Ate healthy

-Went back to my last known exercises with Denise Austin

-Added some light yoga for strengthening muscles and relaxation

enhance-7A year after child #2

Just under 2 years later, and after child #3 : I was exhausted, he was tough on my body, and I originally didn’t want to work out at all. So in the meantime I followed my own healthy eating habits and tried to use the treadmill a couple of times a week at least (but you bet there wasn’t a whole lot of up hill).

Eventually, when I was finally ready this was my new routine:
Jumped rope daily (100x+)
Lifted weights at home (+ leg presses)
I walked on the tread mill (uphill with a cool down)
Did jumping jacks (30x – 50x)
Alternated these things every couple of days with, you guessed it, Ms. Austin

AMBER 05About a year and a half after baby #3

Later on I learned why building muscle in women is so important, especially after a certain age, so I visited the gym to do weight training 3-4 x’s a week in my mid 30’s. I have since gone back to doing simple exercises as home because of my budget, but I am still always doing something. Jump rope, walking (sometimes with ankle weights), dumbbells, light yoga.

This is me now. Almost 41 but feeling 30.


It’s common sense:

Use the rule your child’s physical education instructor gives:
30 minutes a day of physical activity.

It makes a difference-it improves your mood, your sleep pattern/quality and inevitably helps to burn calories and boost your metabolism. It also teaches your children how to be healthy and not be afraid of exercise.

While the No Diet Challenge is great for helping you watch what you eat and educating you, it should not be the sole factor in becoming healthy. As any doctor or health professional will tell you, good eating habits paired with daily exercise, are the keys to a healthier life. During the No Diet Challenge I’m working on sharing with you my habit of eating, cooking and shopping. But, it doesn’t stop there. Remember, there’s always a need for balance. Exercise should to be part of your No Diet regimen.

If Your are Currently Pregnant, My Biggest Tip Is: If you exercise or work full time, don’t immediately quit either of these. There are plenty of things women can still do while they are expecting. If you do not currently exercise, make a choice today to walk daily or swim. Do this only under your doctor’s discretion of course.

Step #6 of The No Diet Challenge:
Start Small: Choose just two days a week and 2 separate types of simple activities to get started!
Challenge yourself to do them for at least 4 weeks.
Before you know it – it will be second nature and your mood and energy level will increase!

Improve your health~Improve parenting.
And be a great role model.

If you are already a monster at the gym, KUDOS! Give yourself permission to take a break ~
Overworking is unhealthy (there is such thing as too much exercise)
And never feel guilty about missing a day because that’s even worse.


The No Diet Challenge: Step 5 Stop the Sugar Addiction


If you don’t think sugar is addicting, listen to a story from my house:

Just prior to Christmas, my youngest child began acting out of the ordinary. I considered it Christmas excitement. No big deal right? He’ll straighten out and get back to normal on the 26th.

Unbeknownst to me, my son was confiscating candy canes off the Christmas Tree (lesson learned- don’t decorate with candy canes). He was caught with one in his room. I don’t tolerate theft or lying (of course he had a great story for why his breath smelled minty), so I banned him from candy for a month.The punishment extended to school candy rewards, no ice cream, no chocolate milk, no gum, no anything- which I could rightfully confirm had sugar in.

Fast forward a few weeks later.

A normally talkative kid, but one with a decent ability to sit still and focus on a variety of things, for a variety of reasons, at any given time, he was off.

Off-the-wall was more like it.

The holiday’s were over and I was still trying to figure it out. As I went down the list of things history proved could make him like this, there were only three that would:

Lack of sleep
Medication: steroids in his asthma inhalant

Something was up and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
He’d been grounded, so he was getting to bed early.
He had not been sick in such a long time, so wasn’t currently taking any medication.

The last thing on the list was sugar…

Well, knowing what it did to him I’d always kept it to a minimum. Now he was grounded and couldn’t have any at all, so what gives?

His attitude was horrible, his energy level was up and then down, and he was zooming through everything. His homework and his behavior were stuck in a ditch somewhere.

One day after school mom hit pay-dirt.
In his backpack I found the stash. It was chock full of empty wrappers, and was clear he was consuming more sugar daily than he ever had in any given month!

My candy ban bombed… and he was addicted…

He was taking anything he could get his hands on that had sugar in it (or that he thought might).
I was thinking, ‘this is like an addict trying to score drugs, he was going against everything he stood for just to get another high:
Candy from our reward bowl (which was high up in a cabinet)
A pack of gum
Mom’s breakfast bars that had a little icing on the top of them (he’d never even had one before)
He’d also made a connection at school: a little girl who felt bad for him because he was grounded and banned from having candy was bringing him candy daily
I can’t even recall all the different kinds of wrappers I found in there.

Like drugs, sugar does crazy things to your body, your brain and your kids.

I’ve only seen this type of behavior out of him once before…and it revolved around a hand held video game he was too young to have, but received as a gift. He became addicted to using it and his behavior tanked, his attitude was terrible, and he didn’t focus on anything but lying and stealing to get that thing back.

As young as he was then, he would admit to you it was a problem and that he was better off without it. He actually one day made a wish that it would disappear (and it did because we accidentally lost it for a year). I think it was meant to be, because without it his behavior improved and disposition was pleasant.

Through that experiences, he began to realize the reason for technology limits…

And now, he has learned the same about sugar.

Here is Step 5 of the No Diet Challenge: Throw Out Your Junk Food.

The more you have of it, the more you’ll want (and the more problems it leads to).

If you’ve been with us since Step 1, you might have already thought about doing this because you realized that when your food/mood log had sugar AND crankiness (plus exhaustion) in common, it had to do with the junk food – and you might have decided that you’re better off without it.

If you’re just joining us, click here to here to get on board; it’s never too late, to do anything.

Will I throw out my own sugar canister? No way.
I love it too much- it’s cobalt blue glass and matches my blue willow motif in my kitchen. And, I won’t throw out my sugar either.

Why? Because I don’t add sugar (or salt) to everything and I admit that it’s addicting and practice balance. Knowledge is power.

So, this week, if you can, cut back or ditch the truly unnecessary things that you know have sugar:
Desserts after dinner
Fancy cookies/cakes in your lunch box-don’t pack ’em.
Soda, dump it out-Don’t buy it.
Candy drawer- Empty it.
Figure out what you can cut out of that junk food cabinet or fridge.

But, don’t get crazy. I wouldn’t recommend ditching your ice-cream, or the sugar in your coffee, unless of course you sit down with Haggan Daas every night with tub and spoon, or your coffee is more sugar than java. (Only you know what your excess is… but when you admit it could be a problem, that’s the key).

Remember the No Diet Challenge is all about balance and NOT about deprivation.

Take some time to find out why you should care about what you eat and what you feed your family.

Photo Credits:”Sugar In Glass” by audfriday13 via

The No Diet Challenge: Step 2- We Don’t Own a Scale and Why Diets Fail

%22African Lady Holding Weighing Scale%22 by stockimages

If you’re just joining us for the No Diet Challenge and missed Step 1, no worries, because it was easy.

We did nothing. Yes, you heard correctly…NOTHING.

Diets are dangerous.
Diets are a fleeting thing
Diets are a habit that often deprive you of foods you like or need
Diets are dumb. (Yep, Mommy said a bad word.)

It’s true. Getting healthy shouldn’t be about looking for ways to ‘drop the pounds fast’ -unless of course:
Your doctor recommends it
It’s meant to be a life saving measure or major health intervention
You do it under your health care provider’s supervision
You’re a celebrity who’s studying for a big ‘skinny’ part in a movie (in which case you wouldn’t be here)
If you’re looking for medical advice- a new diet fad-i.e., a quick way to lose weight, you are in the wrong place. If you’re looking for ways to change the way your family eats and want to have fun with it- Welcome!

Diets vs. ‘Diet’- The No Diet Challenge is NOT about getting skinny or dropping pounds!

My family doesn’t own a scale and we don’t deprive ourselves of:
chocolate (I tried once- it didn’t work- and ladies, I don’t recommend it if you know what I mean)
eating out
But I still consider us healthy people enough to ask you to join our No Diet Challenge and believe you will notice a difference in your body, your children’s behavior and your own energy level.

Okay, I have to confess about the scale thing. I think we do own one. But I bet it’s one I got when I was married to my children’s father over 19 years ago and I’m pretty sure it’s probably buried somewhere in a closet because we don’t ever use it. Why? Well first off- when have you ever stepped on a scale and been as cheerful about it as the lady in this picture? Exactly! Weight to me is not important. As I said previously, unless it is for true medical/health reasons, focusing on your weight is a mistake! There are plenty of perfectly wonderful (and beautiful) people in the world who shop in the XL & Plus Depts., so throw away your scale (or at least put it away so you can’t see or use it).

If you are just joining us click here to check out what you missed.
If you did Step 1- “RELAX” (Congratulations!)
If you did Step 1- “PLUS the extra credit”: Logging what people felt/acted like this past week- Kudos!
If you logged not only what they acted like, but what you were feeding them or what they were sneaking at work/school- (Hint: that’s the goodies you omit from their lunch but they find anyway), give your self a round of applause.

Step 2- Start your log if you haven’t already, OR if you have one, open it up and do the following:
circle the times you or your family members ate out
highlight the times you/anyone had caffeine, candy, or sugary snacks
did anyone skip meals (whether due to over scheduling, appointments/work running late, or that you purposely ditched due to an event or practice)
what was the overall mood each day?
any correlation or similarities?
is anyone a water drinker–> make a note of that- (beverages should always be logged as well)
Behavior is often linked to the foods we eat (or don’t).

So if you haven’t done the log yet, go ahead and grab a notebook, or your favorite portable tech device, and start jotting down your meals/snacks on a daily basis. If you miss some, don’t stress it.

Step 3 is next week

(photo credit:”African Lady Holding Weighing Scale” by stock images)