My Blog got a fabulous facelift!  I'm in LOVE with what the super talented April of A Mommy's Blog Design Studio came up with - all from her great questionnaire and my rambling emails describing my dream blog.  Her Designs are so fresh and sweet and all so unique - exactly what you would expect for a Custom Blog Design!  She has such kindness, patience and awesome customer service skills - which are extremely important when dealing with "artsy" people who "just need to tweak one more thing".  LoL.  Did I mention I'm one of those? - Hah.  I'm telling you, she's amazing.  : )  I'm shouting from the rooftops because she just ROCKS the Design world in my book!  (You can find her on Etsy too!)  *Thanks April!*

 All this fresh blog loveliness has had me thinking about transformations.  I've always been drawn to the caterpillar-to-butterfly story.  Something about that chubby, sweet looking caterpillar inching along - munching whatever bright green leaves she can get her hands on... limited by lack of speed on her very short legs.  She is completely focused on the leaf she's on.  Chomp chomp chomp.  Taking care of business.  Then she instinctively knows it's time to wrap herself up and get to work on the radical stuff of changing her whole self!

Cocooned and cozy (cramped) in that chrysalis she zones out from the world and lets all the magic happen.  Metamorphosis.  I love that word.  What do I want for Christmas?  I'd like metamorphosis, please.  Make a wish and blow out your candles!  Hmmm ... metamorphosis by my next birthday sounds perfect.   : )

Breaking out of that shell and spreading your wings for the first time.  Letting the breeze dry off the moisture left from all that hard work inside the cocoon.  Seeing your true colors as you are free to fly about and drink in those vibrant blooms!  What could possibly be wrong with that picture.?  Nothing in my book - except for the heartbreaking fact that butterflies live 2-6 weeks.  So I'd like my metamorphosis in human terms, please - with staying power.

Every New Year's I make that famous resolution - I'm pretty sure you've made it yourself.  "I will lose weight this year!  Get healthy!  Exercise!  Eat less Sugar!  Eat more salads!"  Or some variation on the theme.  We want, wish and hope for a trim body and vibrant health.   It's the "doing" that gets messy.

I can tell you that I've been in and out of my cocoon many times over the last 11 years.  I'll chomp chomp chomp on those green leaves ... waiting for - whatever - to happen so I'll know it's time to get to the real work of transformation.  Then I'll get wrapped up in the process of eating right, exercising, keeping a food journal - and any other requirements from whatever crazy diet I'm trying out.  All from the safety of my cocoon.

I've had many "break out and spread your wings moments" in my life ... they sometimes come in curious forms, but are always life changing.  What propels us on to bigger and better things is the stretching ... beyond what we had known and done.  Stick your neck out and see what's just beyond your reach and then - REACH for it!  That's scary sometimes.  But if we just hang out in that cozy cocoon and "work on it" - sometimes half heartedly ... then when do we get to test out our wings?

I'm cocooning a bit right now ... nourishing myself.  Eating only fresh whole foods, drinking lots of water, adding healthy fats to my diet etc.  But I'm envisioning my cozy cocoon has a giant picture window and a french door leading out into the garden.  I'm not hiding out - hoping "this time" will be transformation time.  I'm living!  Interacting with others, stretching my wings, and checking myself out a bit, so that I can get perspective on what to work on when I go back into my cocoon for the night.

Flexibility and a forgiving attitude towards myself will help me get through this journey.  There is no end or destination ... health and wellness are things I'll be picking up, to carry along with me, on my way.
Metamorphosis, anyone?

(photos by:  Lisa MacDonald, Christian Meyn, Tina Philips)
Christmas morning in the 80's ... I remember unwrapping a rough clay turtle.  With a glazed green head sporting a sweet smile, he just begged to be my new "pet".  Add the packet of tiny magic seeds to a little water, let it form a jelly goo, then spread on his back and watch that happy fellow grow lush green grass.  I loved that little smiling turtle.  (Not in the same category as the love for my Cabbage Patch Doll - but still great.)

Fast forward to a 30-ish single mother of two ... struggling with multiple autoimmune diseases and obesity.  Surfing the net for ways to help my symptoms and weight loss - chemical free and naturally, please!  I found Chia seeds.  Really?  I heard the song from the 80's commercial - Chi-chi-chi-chia and had a flashback to Christmas morning.  I'm supposed to eat those?  And eat them as a gel?  Weird.  They look like itty bitty dinosaur eggs!  

Originally cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans, chia seeds were a super food that their warriors and messengers would eat to sustain their energy while away from camp.  These tiny black seeds are packed with healthy nutrition.  Rich in Omega 3's, antioxidants, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium - chia seeds absorb more than 9x their weight in water (or coconut milk!) and *bloom* into a hearty gel.  They are also full of protein and soluble fiber which helps you feel full. 

I love that they are pretty much flavorless - quite often SUPER healthy can equal super yucky - not so with these little seeds.  You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, salads, or salad dressing, soups, and they can be an egg substitute in baked goods ... the list is endless.  I've even been known to sneak them into spaghetti sauce and chocolate pudding!  (shhh... don't tell my boys.)

They are a nutritious boost and great for a multitude of issues.  Inflammation, weight loss, energy, blood sugar, detoxification - even diverticulitis and colon health!  The web has lots of info on the scientific magic of chia seeds and their health benefits. They can be purchased at any health food store (often in bulk) and many sites online for around $6-$8 per pound - and a pound lasts a long time when you're using about 1 tablespoon per person daily.  

So not only am I eating them - and getting my sons on board the Chia Train - but I'd like to recommend those teeny dino eggs to you!  Have you had an experience with Chia in your food or on your windowsill?    : )  

Been there - done that - got the t-shirt. I can say I've tried it. I've been on a lot of the decent and more than a few flat-out crazy "diets" that are out there. The Grapefruit Diet, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Slim-Fast, Atkins, Fat Flush, Blood Type, Master Cleanse, Sugar Busters, etc, etc. Some have been bland, boring and rather nauseating. Some have been confusing. Some were expensive. Quite a few worked for the first 2-3 weeks and made me say, "Wow! This is finally IT". I would lose up to 12 pounds, making me question the need to purchase a smaller sized pair of jeans. Then it would all just stall out and I'd plateau ... or be so disgusted that I couldn't eat another "(fill in diet food here)" or I might scream!

What all the "diets" had in common is that they didn't really provide nourishment. I was counting calories and obsessed with grams of protein, fat, and carbs (macronutrients) - but I wasn't paying any attention to vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). I would eat *anything* if it was low fat or low carb. It could taste like cardboard, or chemicals, or shoe leather, as long as it didn't contain fat or carbs, then - measure it carefully - and plop it on my plate.

I would start these diets (always on a Monday!) and be fully committed to following the rules. I was a diet warrior. When each diet would fail then I'd go back to my stand-by setting. Don't eat. I was good at it. I ate one meal a day - only dinner
I had to feed the kids and I had a husband who would notice if I didn't eat, so I always ate dinner. My mind-set was "why on earth should I eat when I have all this fat hanging around? If I just don't put food in then it should eat away at my belly and thighs". It seemed remarkably logical to me. 500 or less calories a day? Who could stay obese on that? Logic turned into starvation. I was a starving fat woman. My body was holding on to every little calorie or fat gram that I rationed for it. I was not giving myself a chance to be healthy with such a severe lack of nutrients. When I think back on all of the faux "phood" substances that I've consumed in the name of dieting ... it is less than shocking that I ended up morbidly obese.

We are conditioned, as a society, to believe that thin is beautiful. Slender is lovely. That example is everywhere ... tv, movies, magazines. I have spent so much of my life wishing that I could look like so-and-so. She is so pretty and thin ... she can wear all those cute outfits ... she must feel happy all the time ... just give me a day in that skinny body and I'd be happy too.

But now I know that Health is beautiful. Vibrancy is lovely. Finally at 33 I have awakened from the dream of being like "her". I want to be me! But the healthiest and most alive version of me. I may not ever be a size 6 ... but I will be a beautiful, vibrant woman that clawed her way out of a sick mind and a sick body. And I will be qualified to share my story and learnings with others who, just like me, are desperately seeking wellness and health.

So adieu to dieting and starvation ... and hello to nourishment!

(Citrus photo by Suat Eman)
(Fork photo by Grant Cochran)
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