Category Archives: Health

Pregnancy IRL

I have friends who love being pregnant. They thrive on being pregnant. They would be pregnant all the time if they could. This, on the other hand, is me pregnant. wp-1455407450067.jpeg

This was taken about 3 weeks ago and I am wearing a band around my belly to literally hold my stomach together. I got a major umbilical hernia the last time I was pregnant, and parts of my abdomen are threatening to come through my belly button. Sounds like a blast, right? It’s not as severe as it sounds, it just hurts a lot, and apparently it’s not a big deal (!?) because I have yet to have a doctor/midwife seem overly concerned.

So yeah, this kid better love me the most.

I’m not mocking my friends who love pregnancy. I’m more than a little jealous, to be honest. And if I could take the good parts of pregnancy and have those always I would. Like my shiny hair, gorgeous fingernails, and umm… c’mon, there’s gotta be a third one…

The truth is, I don’t love being pregnant. It’s hard for me to write that. I prayed and longed for this baby for so long and I’m absolutely thrilled to be pregnant with this little parasite. And the first time I felt this baby move I was so in love I cried. So I feel weird saying that this is hard, and uncomfortable, and icky, and weird… But I think that’s why I need to say it.

There’s this thing about being a woman, or being a mom, where you’re supposed to pretend that everything is fine. If a mom makes a complaint about her children, she’s attacked. You chose to have these kids, why would you have them if you hate it so much? As if there’s only two options, love it all the time or hate it. So we smile, and say this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I live for my kids.

But Emily, you may be thinking, that’s true though. I do feel that way about my kids! That’s great. I believe you. I’m happy for you. I just don’t believe you feel that way 100% of the time. No one does. And I want us to have the freedom to admit it. Let’s not take to Facebook and complain about our kids, or how horrible our day is, but let’s give ourselves permission to text a friend and tell her we’re struggling. She gets it. Give yourself permission to put your kids in front of Netflix so you can get 20 minutes to recharge. Give yourself permission to lock the bathroom door and eat chocolate. You’re human.

I go through this time knowing the end result will make this all pale in comparison. It’s true for you too. Whatever the struggle is right now, it’s worth it. One day your child will use the potty on their own. Your little booger eventually will sleep all night. It will be worth it.

Until then. Give yourself grace. You don’t have to enjoy every moment. You can feel impatience, frustration, even anger, at your children. They probably deserve it! So take a cleansing breath, send those ornery monsters to their room, and remind yourself that you’re human. God is forgiving. Your children are forgiving. And this won’t last forever.

Do you love being pregnant? Tell me why. I want to vicariously enjoy it 🙂

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2016: The Year of Grace

2015 was the Year of Healing for me. Like a lot of you, I choose a word for my year to pursue and meditate on. My year of healing ironically led to quite a bit of medical issues. I got diagnosed with a thyroid disease, ended up in the E.R. two days in a row with stomach pain, and my normal cycles stopped completely.

That wasn’t how my year was supposed to go.

The more I dug into my health, the more my diet and lifestyle changed. Good changes, of course, but hard to do when the rest of my family has a love affair with carbohydrates.

When I finally started to feel like my normal self (I haven’t felt great in about 7 years), I saw a gynecologist who in response to my issues of the last couple years told me I was probably done having kids without medical intervention.

So that was fun.

I left her office in tears and never went back, determined to prove her wrong.

Our word for this year is Grace. God freely giving us what we don’t deserve. My health. My children. My patient husband. Jesus.

Grace.

We will explore God’s grace in 2016. What will your word or theme be?

There is a happy ending to 2015, as hard as the year was. In the late fall, my doctor (who I love, and who listens to me, and who values nutritional medicine) suggested we do some bloodwork to find out what my body was lacking hormonally. I had 3 periods in 2015. That’s not normal. And she knew our desire to have another baby.

5 weeks of bloodwork.

The day of my appointment to talk over the bloodwork, I took a pregnancy test on a whim.

You guys. Positive.

I fell on my knees, crying and thanking God.

What a gift!

What grace!

Over a year of trying to conceive. Thank you, God.

As 2016 starts, I watch and feel the evidence of God’s grace growing in my body. July will bring a baby to this family that has been waiting and praying for so long. I am overwhelmed by this gift.

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Some of us are more shocked than others.

Happy New Year!

The Story Behind the Insta’

Two weeks ago, I put this picture up on Instagram:

With this caption:

“I love this! This is on the wall in the weight room at my gym. I’m thinking about all the areas in my life that this is applicable to: exercise, art, parenting, prayer. Is this encouraging to you as well?
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Also, I dreamed that I did squats until my legs turned to jelly, and then my alarm went off and I had to get up, go to the gym and start all over. Why don’t dream squats count, for real?
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We go to the gym first thing every Monday morning. It’s hard to get there some weeks, but so worth it. It starts the week on a positive tone, makes for a happier momma, and a more productive homeschool week.
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What do you do to start your week?”

When I read it again later in the week, it made me cringe. Do you ever do that? You throw something on to Instagram or Facebook with the best intentions, but then later you realize it was little more than a humblebrag?

We all know how easy it is to put up the easy pictures, the beautiful pictures, the not-completely-truthful pictures. Pictures taken in the one uncluttered, well-lit corner of our home. Pictures that just tell part of our whole day, skipping the messiness, tears, stretch marks, and dirty laundry.

I wanted a do-over with this picture.

I honestly do like the sentiment. A lot. It made me think about several areas in my life where I need to loosen up and enjoy the process. So I don’t think I should just scrap the photo and the info.

But what if I just told the whole truth, instead? Here goes.

We do go to the gym bright and early every Monday morning. And honestly, it’s hard to get there almost every week. Sometimes I drop the kids off at the childcare and go sit in the locker room and try not to cry, while boosting my courage enough to go to the weight room.

And you know what the biggest motivation for me to get out of bed and get there is? If I cancel my reservation for free childcare, made a week in advance, they will charge me. I don’t want to pay $10 to not work out.

Do you know why I work out? It’s to save my life. I am keeping one step ahead of the weight of depression that is constantly threatening to settle on my heart. For me, the best long-term treatment I’ve found is regular exercise and nutrition. I know that if I don’t make it to the gym, I will have to fight even harder the next morning to wake up and face the day without dread. And with the dread comes negative thoughts. Then self-loathing. Then numbness. Then nothing. And the nothingness is scarier than anything.

So when I write about doing squats, I’m barely lifting anything. I’m just doing it. Doing the little I can to remain emotionally present in my life.

And you know what? I rock at Monday mornings, even when it’s a struggle to get there. My kids are dressed and fed, and I drop them off in a new environment with new toys and books to explore for two hours. Yeah, Monday mornings are my jam.

But you know what’s not my jam? Pretttty much everythig else. After the gym, we come home to a 9 year old puppy that always wants attention, clean laundry that hasn’t been folded in two weeks, a sink that’s usually full of dirty dishes, a floor that probably needs to be mopped, a to-do list that I can’t even find. And I can’t even get started on those things because then our homeschooling day starts.

So that’s the truth. I rock Mondays. The rest of the week? Meh. I’m working on it.

So I’lll ask the question again. What do you do as part of your weekly schedule to bring life to yourself? Do you hit up the gym? Lots of coffee? Employ a maid service? Yoga? Prayer time? How about if we celebrate the life-giving things, while all knowing that we struggle in other areas? We know we’re not all perfect, so let’s stop pretending. There’s freedom and grace there.

#letsgetrealmoms

Adventures In Paleo

A couple months ago I was standing in the kitchen waiting on the toaster. Little Guy walked up and stood staring at me silently, you know, as kids creepily do. My toast popped up and I started buttering it. Little Guy, still staring. Now I was dripping honey on it, and he spoke up, “Mom, what are you doing?”

“Umm, making toast.” (Obviously.)

“Mom, is that toast gluten free?”

“Nope.”

“Then why are you eating it?”

Ugh. “Because I’m consciously making a bad choice because I really really miss toast with butter and honey!” Now go away!

Little Guy: Still staring at me, as I eat every bite.

Even my kids are catching on to my new way of living, and they are holding me accountable. Whether I like it or not. I have mentioned before that I’ve recently been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in my thyroid. This is not a life-threatening disease, by any means. But this is a disease that if left alone, can lead to other, more serious, health problems. I’m not a doctor, obviously, so I won’t bother explaining all that, because you have Google at your fingertips if you’re reading this, and you can find out for yourself all about hypothyroidism and inflammation. Fun stuff.

The first thing my doctor told me after my diagnosis was: eat paleo. The paleo diet is the best treatment of auto-immune diseases. Treatment, of course, is not the same as a cure.

Paleo? Isn’t that the diet where you eat like a caveman? Well, sort of. It means avoiding almost all processed foods, sugar, dairy, and grains. What in the world is left to eat? Good question. That leaves antibiotic-free meat (grassfed or free range, if possible), fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. This is what our bodies were made to eat and to thrive on.

This isn’t nearly as restrictive as it sounds, coconut sugar and coconut and almond flour do wonders for baking, and when you cook meat and vegetables with lots of spice and flavor you don’t miss the starchy sides.

Here’s a FAQ about the Paleo Diet that I have found very helpful.

It was hard to make this transition at first, and I missed fresh bread and butter so much in the beginning that I wanted to cry everytime I walked through the bakery in the grocery store. But the way I feel when I eat this way makes up for that. I feel really good on this diet. I feel clean. I don’t have bloating, which I didn’t realize was a constant in my life until it was gone. I’m sleeping better than I have in 6 years. My stomach has flattened, I am down to my pre-kids weight, and I have so. much. energy!

Seriously, you guys. This diet is awesome. I don’t do it perfectly, this summer I ate a LOT of ice cream, but I know it makes a big difference in how I feel and how my body functions. I’m so thankful to finally feel like myself after so many years of feeling half-full.

If you’ve been feeling lousy for a long time, find a good doctor. Find a doctor that will get to the root of it, instead of just giving you medication. Find a doctor who will recognize the role that nutrition plays in our health, because it matters a whole lot.

Have you tried eating paleo? Tell me about it. Any questions? Ask!

To health!

To health!

I’m Back! And Better Than Ever. Maybe.

My palms are sweating, my heart is racing. This might have something to do with the absurd amount of coffee at my elbow. But I’m nervous. The Dependent Life has been in hiatus since March, and it’s time to get it rolling again. This is hard. But I tell my boys all the time that just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. We do hard things. So here we go.

In March I initially planned on taking a month off to spend some time planning where I wanted to go with The Dependent Life. I had a solid plan, a financial goal, and a writing schedule. Then April came, and everything fell apart.

I received a life-changing diagnosis in April. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I had sought out medical help because I wasn’t feeling quite right, for years, honestly, and we did all the bloodwork. Everything was off. Even my cholesterol was high, and I’m only 30. That didn’t seem okay. Then came all the words I had never Googled before: Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, auto-immune disease.

In terms of diseases, this is not a terrible one to have. I’ll write another post about it later to dig deeper. And I’ve since met dozens of women who have it as well. But it was life changing for me. Ultimately in a good way.

Receiving a diagnosis that explained my chronic fatigue, insomnia, abnormal cycles, depression, anxiety, and pain was the biggest relief in my life. There was a reason for the way I felt! It wouldn’t always be this way! I’m changing things up, in the way I eat, exercise, live. I will write more on that in a later post, for sure.

I feel good. I feel like I’m thriving. Finally. Really. I have hope for my health. Life is good.

But the spring and summer were weird. It was jarring to receive news that there was something really wrong with me. Especially since this is my year of healing. I felt like I had nothing left to say. If you’ve previously read my blog, you know I’m not shy about the hard things in my life. But this was difficult to write about. I didn’t want to write about thyroid stuff. I didn’t want to write about the Paleo Diet. I didn’t want to write about all these things that were suddenly at the forefront of my life. Yet I couldn’t go on pretending this all wasn’t happening. So I stopped writing.

And there was a summer of silence.

I needed the summer of silence. It was good to focus on my family, and my health. But it’s time. My fingers have been itching to write. I’ve got a lot to say (not surprising, if you know me in person). So welcome back, Dependent Life. Readers, welcome back to you as well, and thank you. Thank you for stopping by throughout the summer (my stats keep me updated). And thank you to those of you who have told me how much you appreciate my writing, and who have challenged me to pick it up again. You are the best.

Happy Fall!

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March Is the Best Time

I’ve written before about Juice Plus and how much I love it. We’ve had an exceptionally healthy winter as a result of our health habits, including Juice Plus. And when we passed a nasty virus through our family a couple weeks ago our recovery was incredibly mild compared to previous winters.

This really makes sense, because Juice Plus is fruits and veggies in a capsule, or gummy for the kids, and we all know that fruits and vegetables are necessary to keep our body healthy and working the way it’s made to. Juice Plus helps with that by giving you that extra boost of nutrients that we all need.

March is a great time for you to get started with Juice Plus, too! This month, if you sign up for the Garden, Orchard, and Vineyard blends you will get a free bag of the Juice Plus Complete shake mix as my personal thank you to you.

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This is a great deal! You can choose gummies or capsules, whatever you prefer.

Click here to go to my website for more information.
Or email me personally, because I would love to talk with you more about getting the health of your family in order! emsheppard.business@gmail.com

And of course, I must mention that my own boys get their Juice Plus gummies for free. Yes, free! Juice Plus has a Children’s Health Study, in which you can sponsor a child through your own order. I have my own capsules, and through my order my oldest gets his gummies for free. All I have to do is fill out a survey on his health every few months. Easy Peasy! Check it out here.

Juice Plus is something I really believe in, because I’ve seen it make changes in the health of my family. I’m passionate about it, and I want to share it with you, because I’m passionate about health. I would love to talk with you personally about this. Again, emsheppard.business@gmail.com .

This is the month to do it!

Free Viewing of “Bought: The Truth Behind Vaccines, Big Pharma & Your Food”

Have you heard about this movie? I just finished watching it (watched it in snippets over a week’s time, which is how I get most things done). It’s really good, and makes you think hard about controversial issues.

Vaccine safety and the “anti-vax movement” has been debated in a hot fashion in recent weeks all over the internet and the playground. As a side note, isn’t it cute how we are all sisters on this motherhood journey doing our very best for our own kids and accepting of our differences until it comes to vaccines? I breastfeed, she bottle feeds, this mom baby wears, that mom doesn’t, but it’s okay. This mom feeds her kids organic food, that mom feeds her kids Happy Meals, but we’re all just doing our best, this mom doesn’t give her kids shots on the same schedule–WAIT WHAT? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HER? SHE’S ENDANGERING US ALL!!

Seriously, though, moms. Chill the heck out. Stop throwing the hate around about vaccines. Believe what you believe for your kids. But stop hating other moms for doing the same thing.

For the record, I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m not 100% pro-vaccine either. I don’t want to convince you of anything. I just want to tell you to watch this movie with an open mind. It’s not all about vaccines, they talk about lots of stuff, GMOS, pharmaceuticals, diabetes, things that are near and dear to my heart. I’ve been researching most of this for the past 3 years, so I was excited to watch it.

Check it out. Here’s the link:  http://www.boughtmovie.net/free-viewing/
It’s only free to watch until March 6, so you only have a few more days to watch it. So do it!

I’ve been silent for several days on here as I’ve been dealing with some pretty heavy winter blues, which is the usual for me at this time of year. I will force myself to write about it soon, because I need it. And maybe you do too.

One more thing. Please don’t write disrespectful comments. I will delete them. Also, if you want to debate vaccines, don’t do it here. There’s millions of other venues all over the internet for you to bring you debate. Here, I’ll even get you started. Google: I want to debate vaccines.