Fan Club Friday: The Eye Gallery

I have been wearing glasses or contact lenses for as long as I can remember.  I can still picture my very first pair of glasses, a set of big red frames with pink paint flecked around the edges.  They screamed 1993, the year that I entered kindergarten.  By fifth grade, those glasses were nerdy old news, and I was ready to try hard contacts.  Disaster.  I distinctly recall more than one occasion during which my mom aimed the brightest flashlight we owned into my eye in a futile effort to retrieve the contact lens that had either pasted itself to my eyeball or rolled behind my eyelid and was swimming around in my head.  In my mind, though, this was a small price to pay for vanity, as opposed to the Coke bottle lenses that my glasses had become.

Needless to say, I've been seeing an optometrist for a looong time, though apparently not as long as I should've been.  My poor mom, bless her heart, had no idea that I couldn't see anything in kindergarten until the health screening people came around and made that determination for both of us.

Though I have visited many an eye doctor in my quarter century of ocular issues, Dr. Cliff Hughes from The Eye Gallery stands out above the rest.

{Okay, yes, I wrote about his wife, Nichole, for my last Fan Club Friday post.  I promise that I'm not obsessively stalking their family.  They just run great businesses!}

I knew Dr. Hughes as a friend from church before I knew him as my optometrist.  His kindness, wisdom, humility, integrity, and generosity are trademarks of his personality that he carries into his work.  Since The Eye Gallery was established over six years ago, it has set itself apart with a commitment to the pursuit of excellence and cultivation of a service-oriented environment.  Along with many other satisfied patients, I would say that my annual eye exam is always thorough, and all staff members demonstrate great attention to detail.

Like myself, Dr. Hughes has spent most of his life wearing corrective lenses.  His experience in the eye doctor's chair as a young boy paved the way for his interest in the profession.  (Interestingly, his two sons seem to be following in his footsteps; Knox and Hudson have been wearing glasses since they were babies!)  After completing his undergraduate program at the University of Central Arkansas and then graduating from Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Hughes chose to do a year-long optional residency training with an emphasis in ocular disease.  Basically, he's an overachiever, which is what you want when you're choosing a doctor.

Since I made the decision to go into dental hygiene last year, I have been shocked to discover the amount of people who know next to nothing about the importance of oral health.  Many men and women believe the lie that if their teeth are white and aren't hurting, they have no need to see a dentist.  A similar phenomenon seems to be true with ocular health.  20/20 vision alone does not constitute healthy eyes!  How our eyes work together as a team, how they focus light, how our brain processes visual information ... all of these components play a role in the visual system.  An optometrist is really a "vision" doctor, and good vision begins with healthy eyes.

Dr. Hughes likes to begin seeing patients at six months of age because he rightly believes that prevention is the best medicine.  One of the best ways to ensure our children's academic success is by having them tested to determine whether or not their visual systems are adequate for the demands that school places on them.  

Being the amazing mother that I am, I took my girls to The Eye Gallery for the first time when they were one and three, respectively.  {Better late than never, right?}  Thankfully, Piper's eyes are perfect.  She's adopted, so she didn't inherit my horrible astigmatism or near-sightedness.  Caroline has not been so fortunate.  Dr. Hughes usually examines his patients at six months, one year, three years, five years, and then yearly thereafter, but Sweet Girl is due back to see him next month at age two for a follow-up.  I'm kind of not-so-secretly hoping that she's one of those toddlers with the plastic glasses because, adorbs.

Speaking of glasses, The Eye Gallery has a wealth of fashion-forward brands to peruse!  From Michael Kors to Tom Ford, Ray Ban, and Maui Jim, every patient is bound to find a great pair of frames.  My favorite part of my annual eye exam is trying on some of these frames, even though, as we've discussed, my horrible vision requires Coke bottle lenses.

When I first began coming to Dr. Hughes, my astigmatism was already at the highest step.  Because of this, contact lenses were difficult to find, and the ones that I had worn in the past were uncomfortable.  Dr. Hughes worked with me, as he has with many other patients, to find a set of lenses that fit comfortably and corrected my atrocious vision.  His assistant, Dawn, has always gone above and beyond in helping with glasses fittings and contact orders.  Even my kids are happy to go to The Eye Gallery because the employees are so patient with them, and they have their own place to play while I get my eyes examined.

Located in an under-served area of south Oklahoma City, The Eye Gallery is convenient for patients from Norman and Edmond alike.  And if you're like me and have funky or nonexistent vision insurance, Dr. Hughes and his staff are great about working with you because they all believe in the importance of eye health.

The Eye Gallery is accepting new patients now, so it's not too late to schedule an exam before school starts.  Check them out on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram, and take a step toward healthy vision today! 

If you or a business you know would like to be featured for Fan Club Friday, contact me here.   

Fan Club Friday: Wahoo! Running

Guys.  I know I get excited about every Fan Club Friday because I seriously have so many talented friends, but this one ... {Insert heart eyes emoji here.} 

Meet my friends and fellow runners, Christie and Carlee.

I've known Christie for years, and she has walked (or should I say, run) with me through some of the hardest and happiest moments of my life, imparting wisdom all along the way.  Though Carlee and I only met within the last year, our similar status as runner moms of two little girls has allowed us to strike a fast friendship.

A couple of years ago, Christie single-handedly spearheaded a kids' running club in which children of all ages trained with her and then ran a 5k as the culmination of twelve weeks of practice.

wahoo kids running club

Since that first season, Wahoo! Running has become far more than a kids' running organization, though it is still that, too.  While kids run with Christie, Carlee coaches their parents to accomplish a variety of running goals from simply getting up off of the couch to completing a first marathon or half marathon.

With literally hundreds of combined races between them, Christie and Carlee have a wealth of knowledge to offer to both newbies and seasoned runners.  So, they have started creating customizable training plans to share their insight with others!

wahoo training plan

Because I wanted to get the full Wahoo Running experience, I decided to order my own training plan from my coaching friends.  I am aiming to "crush all of my goals" (a Christie Thomas-ism) at the Prairie Fire half marathon in Wichita, Kansas, in October.  

I have used a couple of other training strategies in the past, but none of them were specifically tailored to my body or running goals.  Wahoo goes above and beyond to do just that.  Prior to constructing my plan, Wahoo sent me an Athlete Questionnaire.  In addition to basic demographic information, Christie and Carlee asked me about my height, weight, previous running experience, best times, goal times, average times, how often I workout,  other types of exercise I enjoy, and why I run.  (That sounds like a lot of information, but I completed the whole thing in under 10 minutes.)  Now, Christie and Carlee are using my answers to customize a twelve-week calendar that tells me precisely what I need to do each day.  Since I'm the most Type A person you may ever meet, I need an exact schedule which includes rest and stretching as an integral part of my program.  

Along with my training plan, I'm expecting my Wahoo! Winning Kit to arrive on my doorstep day!  My box will include a lacrosse ball, resistance band, and other goodies to motivate me and keep my muscles healthy for race day.  Dare I say that I'm pumped about running again?!

I get to train with Christie and Carlee because I am fortunate enough to live locally, and we do more than run together.  In our group of girls, we laugh, we cry, we laugh until we cry, we poop on the side of the road (I personally haven't done this one yet, but don't put it past me), and we run the literal and figurative hills and valleys of life together.  If you don't have a running community where you live, I know that the faces behind Wahoo would encourage you to start one.

Wahoo Runners

I'm a big fan of winning, but that isn't why I run.  Christie and Carlee get this.  In a matter of months since they have launched their business, these coaches have guided multiple runners to set new PRs and win age categories in the races they enter.  However, Christie and Carlee's main goals are for runners to stay healthy and to have fun.  Their desire is for people to "experience running the way it's meant to be."  In other words, they want runners to never outrun their love of running.  

If you've lost your purpose for running or are looking to find a purpose for the first time, Christie and Carlee can create the perfect plan to get you on track within a week.  After that, they will follow up with you to see how things are going, not because they're trying to build a business but because they genuinely care about you as a runner and as a whole person.

Check out Wahoo! Running on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page.  You can also email the coaches directly at christie@wahoorunning.com or carlee@wahoorunning.com.  

WAHOO!

Photo credits: Christie Thomas and Teena Moore Photography.

Food Freedom Forever: My Whole 30 Reintroduction Experience

In March, I did my first Whole 30 and wrote about my journey here.  Today's blog is a follow-up to share the details of my post-Whole 30 diet.

Thanks to Whole 30, my skin is clear, I'm happier and more confident, my relationship with food is healthier, I'm sleeping better ... and the list of "non-scale victories" goes on.  Determined not to return to my former mediocre eating habits, I was strategic about reintroducing food groups throughout April.

The tricky part, I found, was reintroducing only one food group without inadvertently introducing another with it.  For example, reintroducing strictly dairy was a challenge because 98% of yogurts also have added sugar.  

In this post, I'll break down exactly what I did to reintroduce specific foods, how my body reacted to each (keep in mind that this part is totally individualistic), and how I'm choosing to eat now.  My hope is that these details will help someone else who is trying to figure out this slightly insane but life-changing diet.  Friends, you can totally do this, too.

Disclaimers: {I did my reintroduction on a different timeline than the Whole 30 book delineates.  I didn't feel that ten days was long enough for me to clearly discern which food had which effects on me.  You do what works for you.}

{Also, I am hypoglycemic, so my blood sugar is super sensitive.  Most people probably don't have as many blood sugar issues as I do.}

Day 1: Alcohol

How: Most alcoholic drinks have sugar in them, so don't try a fruity cocktail as your first post-Whole 30 adult beverage.  Some good options with low sugar are dry wine (Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon), extra brut champagne, or pure tequila or vodka.  You could make a sugar-free margarita with tequila, lime juice, and club soda (though I'm not sure why you'd want to because, gross).  Beer is not a great choice because most beers also contain gluten.

My reaction: Horrible.  I had one drink and my blood sugar was whacked. out.  I wanted to eat all the junk food, and I did not sleep well.  I had a slight headache in the morning, and my face broke out.  All of this makes sense, because alcohol is a toxin.

Now what? I may have a glass of cab or a regular margarita (give me the real deal, if I'm going to have one) on a rare special occasion, but the effects for me are generally not worth the momentary good vibes.  

Days 2-3: Back to Whole 30

Day 4: Legumes (minus peanuts) 

How: This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Black beans, pinto beans, hummus, lentils, black eyed peas...

My reaction: Generally fine.  I have since noticed that I am a little bloated if I eat a whole bowl of beans, for example, but I feel totally normal otherwise.

Now what? Bring on the beans (in moderation).  They help me stay full, I like them, and small amounts seem to have no effect on my body.

Days 5-6: Whole 30.  {I should note here that I moderately continued eating positively reintroduced food groups, such as legumes, on the Whole 30 days.}

Day 7: Corn

How: I separated corn from other non-gluten grains because I eat a lot of corn and wanted to see its isolated effects.  Food choices other than canned corn or corn on the cob include organic corn tortillas and tortilla chips, these breakfast corn fritters (substitute coconut flour), corn chowder, or Texas Caviar.

My reaction: Generally fine, thank goodness, because I love me some Texas Caviar and tortilla chips.  

Now what? I eat corn, on occasion.  I don't let myself have tortilla chips at home because I can chow down on so many of those guys once I open a bag.

Days 8-9: Whole 30 + legumes + corn

Day 10: Peanuts

How: Again, I separated this out from all other legumes because I'm basically obsessed with peanuts, and I (used to) eat more of them than all other legumes combined.  Food choices include dry roasted peanuts, peanut butter with no sugar added (great with apples or bananas), orange chicken, and ants on a log.

My reaction: Big bummer.  Headache, achy joints the next morning, and janky blood sugar.

Now what? PB&Js, it's been so nice knowing you.  People sometimes ask me which food group has been the most difficult to give up, and peanuts is the one.  However, there is no food that tastes better than feeling good feels.  Also, almond butter is a pretty tasty substitute.

Days 11-12: Whole 30 + legumes + corn

Day 13: Non-gluten grains

How: I chose not to reintroduce gluten at all, since I gave up gluten last November and already knew that it wrecks my skin and joints.  Good non-gluten grains include rice, quinoa, oats, gluten-free pasta, and buckwheat.

My reaction: Eh.  Nothing drastic, but I felt bloated and sickly full.  I don't love this food group enough to try to work it into my diet, so I decided to eliminate it forever.

Days 14-15: Whole 30 + legumes + corn

Day 16: Dairy

How: Minimally processed cheese, grass fed yogurt with no sugar added (very hard to find), cultured butter, cottage cheese.  I really wanted to reintroduce ice cream at this point, but ice cream is loaded with sugar, so I waited.

My reaction: Another big bummer.  My stomach hurt, and my skin broke out.

Now what? So long, brie cheese, blue cheese, all other scrumptious cheese, ice cream, and pizza.  You were a very delicious part of my life for a very long time.

Days 17-18: Whole 30 + legumes + corn

Day 19: Sugar

How: I knew that I didn't want to reintroduce refined sugar, so I stuck with foods that contained only coconut sugar, honey, agave, extra dark chocolate, and maple syrup.

My reaction: Right up there with alcohol (basically terrible).  My skin looked like a teenager's, and my blood sugar was nuts.  I could not fall asleep.

Now what? The more sugary things I eat, the more I want to eat.  Even though Paleo treats are generally healthier than regular desserts, sweet potato brownies are still brownies.  They are too much like the real thing in the sense that they awaken the Sugar Dragon that I had slain during Whole 30, but they are not enough like the real thing to make me disappointed and wanting the real thing.  This seems so crazy, but I've given up sweet treats and added sugar ... forever!  I made an exception during my birthday weekend and immediately regretted my choice.  "Desserts" now are limited to almond butter baked bananas, banana "ice cream", this hot cinnamon tea, and mug brownies.  Surprisingly, I'm 100% okay with these options, 95% of the time.

In summary, I am choosing to live a loosely Paleo lifestyle.  My one critique of a strict Paleo diet is that it eliminates some foods, such as legumes, which have nutritional value, while giving the green light to other lesser categories, such as bacon and alcohol.  "Clean eating", to me, is more balanced and attainable.  Also, there are very few restaurants that serve strictly Paleo dishes, and sometimes, I want to go on a fancy date with my picky husband or take my kids to Chick-fil-A without also taking my own salad dressing.  So sometimes, I'm not going to worry about what oil my meat was cooked in and I'm not going to be the annoying girl who asks specifics about every menu item, though, in general, I do like knowing exactly what ingredients are in my food.

freedom.JPG

I also had to decide that I will be an "abstainer," as opposed to a "moderator".  One isn't inherently better than the other; you have to decide what works best for you.  Abstaining is all or nothing: I'm not going to have half a piece of chocolate cake; I'm just never going to have it.  This sounds restrictive to moderators who might indulge in a half (or whole!) piece every now and then, but it has been freeing for me.  I don't ever have to make decisions about what I am going to eat or not going to eat, and then I don't walk around with guilt hanging over my head when my body reacts poorly.  I really like rules, and I am great at following them.  I am not great at making decisions.  

For the larger part of my adult life, I have battled an eating disorder from time to time and have never known how "food freedom" feels ... until now.   For the first time ever, I'm not compulsively restricting calories or running to burn off whatever I just ate.  I'm putting good food into my body, and this knowledge has empowered me to enjoy what I'm eating, to love exercise for what it is, and to pursue health over a particular image.  Those are all kind of a big deal to me.  

What does "food freedom" look like for you?