Green Lentil Curry

I’ve been in a pantry cleaning mood lately. I didn’t say organizing. You can ask my husband – organization is NOT my skill set. But I’m trying to make use of ingredients we have hanging out in the back of the pantry. You know those things you need for a recipe, you use a tiny bit of, then you forget about them? Those things.

So when I found green lentils that, for the life of me I can’t remember what we used them for, I decided to go searching for a way to cook them.

I found the original recipe here, and apart from the green curry paste, I had all the ingredients I needed on hand – total win. I added a few different things to the recipe, took away some others, and the result is a flavorful, hearty dish that is thicker than soup but just as warming. Continue reading “Green Lentil Curry”

New Year, Same Me: And That’s Okay

The biggest transformation that happened for me this last year had nothing to do with my body and had EVERYTHING to do with how I see my body.

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January 2019 compared to January 2020 – same me, but transformed perspective!

If you want to lose weight this year, great. If you want to take a different approach to health by balancing things from the inside out, that’s something I will continue to share about in 2020.

Just remember – someone else’s before and after doesn’t tell the full story. What looks like “discipline” may actually be disordered eating. What looks like gaining weight or hitting a plateau may actually be a year of grief and stress. We can’t measure success or failure from a picture.

What’s always missing in these before and after pictures is the DURING.

Continue reading “New Year, Same Me: And That’s Okay”

Re-Focus 2020: See Yourself More Clearly

Is it time for a change?

I’m not talking about weight loss, or a new goal or resolution. I’m not talking about a diet. I’m talking about getting a new view of YOU in the new year.

You probably have heard me say it – I’m a big fan of treating the root. And as much as I love partnering with people to make healthy habits, I also believe that focusing on laying a solid foundation FIRST is key to success.

That’s why I have partnered with Christian author and body image expert Heather Creekmore to bring you a 10 day wellness group to get your mind and heart ready for the new year.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, be more mindful of what you eat, or just feel healthier physically, spiritually and emotionally – this 10 day community can help kick start your goals.

Each day I will offer strategies to personalize your nutrition and become more mindful of your eating habits. I will bring you my favorite tools for learning how to listen to your body and find what’s right for YOU!

Heather will bring strategies to help you lay a solid, spiritual foundation for improving your body image and quitting comparison. She will encourage you with ways to improve your spiritual health so that your physical goals are easier to meet.

The 10 day group will take place through a private Facebook group January 6-16. We will post daily during the 10 days, and we will be available throughout to offer you support and answer all your questions.

In addition to daily tips, challenges, and special video lessons, we’ll be giving away two gifts to thank you for participating. I will provide my “Fast Track Family Recipes” booklet and Heather is gifting you “Mountain Top Experience: A Personal Body Image Retreat.”

The price to participate in this group is only $20! Sign up here or contact me in the contact tab if you are interested!

I hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

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Healthy Holiday Sides with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

Carrot souffle and sweet potato bake that are grain free, dairy free, and refined sugar free? Yes, please!

Now, before you head to the recipes, I have to say one quick thing. I know it’s a pain when you are looking for a recipe and the blogger spends all this time with the description and build up and pictures and you’re like, “Just get to the dang ingredients, Karen!”

But after I say this I’ll be done – and you can go on your merry way to try out these recipes.

I get annoyed with the phrase “healthy” in regards to food choices during the holidays. Holidays are celebratory, and if you’re stressing out about whether something is “healthy” or not, and you’re panicked about every ingredient in your meal, you’re less likely to be able to digest the nutrients from that meal.

Stressing about food is the opposite of health, in my opinion.

That being said, it seems to me that every year I get busier with celebrations. We have countless parties, and all of them feature lots of food and lots of alcohol. Because monitoring my mental health is always priority for me, and I will do whatever I can to fight seasonal depression, eating loads of sugar and drinking sugary alcoholic beverages can be taxing on my mental stability.

Consuming lots of sweet treats and drinking alcohol frequently during the month of December will throw off my sleep, make me less well-rested the following day, and then cause my cravings to skyrocket – perpetuating the cycle. So while I don’t want to stress about my food, I do want to be MINDFUL about what I’m choosing and how those choices will make me feel afterward. (For more on eating for mental health and my thoughts on that, check out the Sparking Wholeness podcast episode 10.)

Which leads me to the recipes.

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Continue reading “Healthy Holiday Sides with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes”

Eating for Mental Wealth

Nourishment comes in many forms beyond food.

Being aware of triggers that negatively impact my mental and physical well-being (because they’re connected) is key.

Your relationship with food affects your mental health as well. If you’re stressed about what you’re eating – or what you can’t eat – that sets off a fight or flight response in the body that is not health-promoting.

 

Eating for Mental Wealth

 

There is comfort in food. There is joy found in a good meal with friends, in a special holiday gathering. So the last thing I would say is you have to turn down dessert at every special event because it’s going to cause some mental health relapse. It probably won’t. If you have a leaky gut and food sensitivities, it might cause problems. I don’t know your body and your situation. It will take trial and error and individualized support.

I do want you to be aware of some of the most important things I’ve found that hinder and benefit my mental health, based on my own experience and all the latest research on how food IS mood.

Check out my most recent podcast episode, Eating for Mental Wealth, for more information on how I view nourishment! Click on the tree logo on the right to access the show page or listen on iTunes here.

The Myth of More

“Our discontent is fueled by the myth of more.”

My brilliant dad, Gary Brandenburg, recently said that in a sermon. It hit me so hard I had to do some major self-reflection.

I am a person who always wants more. This started at a young age:

Why have one Whopper when you can have two?

Why have one doughnut when you can have eight?

Why join one sport when you can play them all?

Why audition for just the school play when you can audition for the community theatre play, too?

Why volunteer in just one church ministry when you can volunteer in multiple?

But it doesn’t stop there. I don’t want to simply DO everything, I want to EXCEL at everything. So I can not only have more activity and excitement, but I can have more accolades and achievement.

I know I’m not the only one. I think our current culture drives this mindset through all the pleasant distractions that trick us into fulfillment.

The result? This “myth of more” causes major boundary issues, and it is completely unrealistic.

When I am consumed by the myth of more, I say yes to too much. I overdo it. I crash. I let myself down. I let others down – typically, the ones who matter most to me.

I can’t do everything and do every thing well.

When I’m rushing to find satisfaction from achievement or excess or MORE, I can’t be present. I can’t be satisfied.

This Thanksgiving week, I have purposefully taken a week off from my usual schedule to meditate daily, enjoy good meals, have fun with my family, read fiction instead of non-fiction health books, spend quality time with my husband, and just BE. When I catch my mind spinning on things I “have to” or “need to” do – usually those things driven by a need to find fulfillment in distraction – I stop my thoughts, take a deep breath through my nose, and tell myself, “This week I am resting. That can wait.”

It is a beautiful thing. I always find contentment when I choose to be present and grateful.

So wherever you are reading this, take a deep breath, hold it, let it out slowly, and tell yourself that you already have everything you need, right in front of you!

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” -‭‭ Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tis the Season… for Transition

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Guest Contributor: Myles Wren

We all go through various life seasons. Some are pleasant; some are not so pleasant. I asked my friend Myles to share about her experience with emotional wellness during those aching times of transition. Myles is one of my favorite people to “follow” on Instagram. She is so classy, fashion-wise and life-wise. Her style inspires me and her personality and drive motivate me! I knew she would drop some words of wisdom on this topic of transition, and she doesn’t disappoint. If your conviction button doesn’t go off on this one, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Kidding… Kinda. – Erin

2018 was full of transition. Quite frankly none of the transition that I experienced this year felt good and it wasn’t easy to go through; it was all very difficult for me. I started the year off in a very comfortable place, with people around me that made my life fun and exciting. By mid-year, all that changed and without any warning my perfectly comfortable you-don’t-need-to-put-any-effort-into-what-you’re-doing-because-it’s-a-too-easy-life, was no longer.

Talk about bubble busting!

So, here we are having just passed Thanksgiving and fast-tracking towards Christmas and the New Year! (I’m still in shock that we’re here already.) I want to share with you a few things that I learned about myself having gone through a bad season of transition. Continue reading “Tis the Season… for Transition”

Active Monitoring

I taught public school for 11 years, and every spring we received a special training in “active monitoring.” Nobody looks forward to active monitoring. It is the  job teachers take on during the end of year state assessments. All certified teachers must stay on their feet during the majority of the test, walking up and down the aisles, making sure nobody is looking at another test, or marking in another section, or eating, or ANYTHING that would cause them to get marked up as a “state testing irregularity.” I dreaded these days every year, because I knew if I lost focus for one second, something could happen and I would get marked up and have my state teaching certificate questioned or revoked or torn up or SOMETHING horrible would happen.

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Living with a mental illness requires active monitoring. Much like how I used to roam the aisles of my classroom, eyes alert for any misconduct or twitch of movement, I constantly roam my brain and my body for signs of disorder.

Continue reading “Active Monitoring”

I’m That Girl

Last weekend I spent time with a group of girls who have known me longer than anyone else besides my own family. We talked for hours and hours, laughing and sharing stories, erasing years and distance. It was refreshing and healing.

The final morning I found our senior yearbook, from all the way back in 1999. Flipping through it, I noticed something. Page after page, a familiar face kept popping up at me. My own. Every activity, every party, every event. The more pictures I saw, the more I cringed. The inward narrative started.

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“Ugh, why did you have to do so much?”

“Why were you always a camera hog?”

“You must have been so annoying!”

“Why are you always That Girl?”

Insecurities surfaced with the old narrative. Yes, it was clear that I lived with a deep need to find my worth in my activity and my achievements. We went to a small private school, so plenty of opportunities for over-involvement existed. Still, it hurt to watch it unfold in this book, as I know I STILL so often act out of a craving for approval and acceptance. Continue reading “I’m That Girl”

Wine Not?

The day started like any other. Kids woke up, ate breakfast, fought a bit, then we headed to the gym (free childcare!) to get some energy out. It’s 500 degrees outside right now and I needed me time. I came home with a recharged battery, but that’s when it all hit the fan.

The soon-to-be-freshman talked back one too many times, so I took away her EVERYTHING. No phone, no technology, no (gasp) music. The 4 year old and 21 month old decided that was a great time to start terrorizing each other. One thing after another. All. Day. Long.

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My two littlest crazies

By the afternoon, I was done. My yoga breaths failed me, and my emotional capability to deal with ANY MORE nonsense plummeted. I needed a way to cope, to self-soothe. I could raid my pantry, I could tune everyone out and hop on my phone to scroll other people’s lives that looked so much more fulfilling, or… I could open up some wine. Continue reading “Wine Not?”