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The story of Liz: College girl turned crunchy-hearted momma

I wasn’t always like this, you know. There was a day (not so long ago, really) when my idea of a really good time was standing in front of a college bar with the smokers sipping on a dirty shirley. I had no idea what it really meant to take care of my body and absolutely no earthly idea of the feeling of responsibility that comes with being in charge of another life. I was young, free, 23 and running wild in a never-never land called Chico, Calif. I worked out to maintain my “bod” and dove excitedly into whatever fad diet would drop me into a smaller graphic tee from Forever21. I was essentially destroying myself … and loving every minute of it.

A photo of me drinking a beer during my college days in Chico
Beer, football and nothing to do but enjoy both. Ahhh, the life of a college girl.

Then I meant my husband.

Well, he wasn’t my husband back then. In those days he was a tall, sexy bouncer at a wild country bar. He was about as different from my usual “type” as he could be but he had fire behind his blue eyes that made a free-hearted college girl consider becoming a one-guy kinda gal.

We had a romance that can only be described as footloose and fast. We were married on a chilly November day, moved to the (lackluster) city of Redding and a few short weeks later my handsome cowboy rode off into the sunset with the California National Guard for a year-long deployment in sunny Afghanistan.

Well, Shit. What am I supposed to do now?

I briefly considered running back to Chico but since I had graduated and “settled down” I didn’t really fit in there any more. I was a married woman, a military wife and a step-mom. It was time to get my life together.

I discovered the Paleo Diet through a Cross Fit gym that my sister convinced me to go to only a few weeks into the deployment. Cross Fit was nuts but the diet made me feel fantastic. I kicked my sugar habit, gave alcohol the boot and started cooking with strange, alien foods like Bok Choy and Chard. Paleo helped me lose weight (something that has always been a struggle for me) and the mood boost from the lack of sugar in my diet helped with the emotional roller coaster that is deployment life (see my deployment blog for details on that adventure).

Then my husband came home.

On an oddly-warm day in the December of 2012 my soldier came down the escalator at Sacramento International Airport and real life began. That is the day I stopped being a child — only concerned about myself — and realized that there is a great, wide world out there. It was a great day, a perfect day, one that I will never forget. But it is also the day that the door to my blissful, ignorance about life abruptly closed.

Marriage is hard, ok? It’s not as fun and cute and sparkly as Disney movies make it look. There is no one I would rather be married to than my husband but the stress that came along with reintegrating a soldier and getting used to being a wife took a serious toll on my diet. I had to cook for a dude now — someone who has an intense love of carbs and wants nothing to do with my alien cabbage. He drank, chewed tobacco (yeahhhh) and had more hot/cold mood swings than an episode of “Sex In The City.” My first year of ACTUAL married life was hard on my heart and my body and to make it ALL the more interesting, we decided to have a baby.

three photos of my son when he was born.
My little game changer.

Wyatt Thomas Tyler was born September 26, 2013 to an ecstatic mommy and daddy. Having this baby changed us both, no doubt, but it COMPLETELY transformed me. I can say with complete confidence that the moment my son came into the world I became an entirely different person. I suddenly realized that he was dependent on me for life and that it was up to me what kind of life I would give him. The answer came to be without a moment’s consideration: the very, very best that this world has to offer. Period. No compromise.

Suddenly being healthy was not about killing time with complicated recipes or pinching myself into a smaller pants size. It was about breathing life into Wyatt and giving his body the best start possible. My GranolaHeart was born.

I breast fed, I used organic moisturizers, I made my own baby food. I was crunchy, I was proud, I was exhausted.

Why was I so tired? Other new moms seemed to be bouncing back after nights without sleep with their babies but I was hardly making it through the morning before collapsing alongside Wyatt for his nap. What was wrong with me?

I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when Wyatt was two and a half months old. It was a wakeup call that rippled through my home and my heart. Our bodies are vessels we rely on for everything. Our bodies host our dreams for the future and our daily life. Without my body I can not read bedtime stories or intimidate my son’s first girlfriend. When I got the all-clear from my doctor I decided that life around the Tyler house was going to look a lot differently from then on. And it has.

My treatment made it impossible for me to breast feed so I made Raw milk formula instead using a recipe I found from Weston A. Price. Boxes of processed junk hit the trash can and I decided to do everything I could do to educate myself and my family about health and wellness.

A photo of me feeding my son raw milk formula
This is what love looks like. Love and a bottle of really awesome raw-milk formula.

It has been a journey since then, one that has included ups and downs, the introduction of essential oils and the slow, sad death of the Paleo Diet in our home. I have experimented with recipes, exercise, sleep training and spiritual healers. I have tried it all and have come out with some great wisdom and some hilarious stories along the way. That, friends, is why I am writing this blog. I want to share this beautiful passion with you and your families. I am far from perfect, I don’t eat raw, organic veggies all the time or do couple’s yoga with my husband or berate the grandparents for feeding my baby ice cream. I am 100 percent real but my heart is completely devoted to health and wellness. I get that life happens but I want to live this one as fully as possible and I think pretty much everyone out there feels the same way. So, if you are a fellow GranolaHeart — or you want to become one — I welcome you to my blog! Let’s do this thing together.

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