Lifestyle

Mind, BODY, and Spirit: A Quest for Wholeness

I grew up a pretty typical Midwestern girl. In the midst of my childhood years my life felt quite normal. I was raised in church, had a good group of friends, did well academically, and was active in sports. I’ve always had a good sense of who I am; confident and the ability to not be swayed or affected by major let downs in life. I was the youngest of four and the only girl, so naturally, I put on the armor required to keep up. But, as I entered adulthood and faced challenges and traumas, it became pretty evident, through therapy, that there were many things that affected me to my core; things that I never allowed myself to process. My parents divorced when I was young and both remarried within a few years. One of my parents struggled with depression and mental illness, which complicated life along the way, and left me with hurt that I never even knew existed. It wasn’t until 2017, when my entire world changed and all of those past hurts came flooding to the surface.

 

At 16 I met the boy that I would spend the next 10 years of my life with. He was fun and outgoing, plus 2 years older than me. He introduced me to a world that I hadn’t yet experienced. After eight years of dating we were married and shortly after, in 2011, we had our first child. But, in those 10 years, I was emotionally abused, consistently cheated on, and always second choice to alcohol and drugs. I allowed myself to fall into the position of the enabler. But, after my son was born, I decided my son’s life and well being had to be my priority. So I left. I could no longer make his recovery or choice to get better my responsibility. Three years later he lost his life to addiction. Raising a child with a parent who has passed away and figuring out how to help him navigate his grief, as it changes with age, has been one of my greatest challenges in life.

 

In 2013, I was the luckiest girl in the world when I married the man of my dreams. He loved me and respected me like I didn’t even know was possible. He understood my hurts and insecurities that I had gained from my past relationship because of going through one similar to mine. It was like life had finally began! But, we also struggled to find balance within our



blended family and fought hard for our love for each other and a life that we were desperate to give all 5 of our children. Life is hard and obstacles always seem to present themselves as soon as things start getting comfortable. 

 

In the summer of 2017, my husband checked himself into a recovery facility for an opioid addiction. He had spent the last 10 to 15 years with major back issues and opioids became his way of survival. The next 4 months, while my husband dedicated pretty much all of his time to his recovery journey, it felt like I was a single mother to my 14 year old step son, 6 and 3 year old sons and 4 year old daughter - while also trying to grow my new real estate business. And, just as soon as that season was ending, and life started feeling normal again, I was hit with the blow that has forever changed me. 

 

The day before Thanksgiving in 2017, I received a call that my older brother, who lived in California, had been missing for 24 hours. Within a few hours of that first phone call, I was notified that his body had been found at the base of the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, California. My brother and I shared a bond that I’ve never really been able to verbalize. Throughout most of my life he served as a friend, mentor, sounding board and someone who understood me better than anyone because we shared the same childhood hurts and joys. The grief I experienced was unbearable. Out of pure self preservation I went into autopilot. I lived that way for nearly 6 months, and I have very little memory of that time. I’m not sure how my kids were fed (like seriously... what was I packing in their school lunches?) or how I managed to maintain working and keeping up with the responsibilities of a home with 4 children and a husband still on his own recovery journey from addiction. 

 

All those past hurts and traumas that I had allowed myself to be unaffected by now sat there staring me and my grief, directly in the eye. I was a mess!



But, eventually, things started to shift. I started making conscious decisions to pull myself out of that fog. I dove head first into therapy, started nurturing my relationship with God, read books on grief and mindset and healthy habits. Allowed myself to be influenced by bible studies at my church and self help seminars for work. I was growing and, more importantly, healing. And, it felt amazing! But something was missing. A piece of the puzzle that I couldn’t quite identify. 

 

Then I found the piece. It was my physical health, or lack thereof. I had bought a one way ticket to emotional health, but my body was left at the train station.

 

Up until my third child, I was gifted with genes that allowed me to eat what I wanted, whenever I wanted without gaining a single pound. But three kids later and an enormous amount of grief, my body no longer felt or looked like it once did. So, I went full force into my fitness journey. I changed my eating habits, started guzzling water like nobody's business, exercised every single day and stopped allowing my physical health to bring down my emotional health.

 

As soon as I made the decision to get physically healthy, it was like this new level of happiness came along with it. All that hard work I had put into healing my heart didn’t truly feel complete until I healed my body. And even better yet, the new found physical health was actually playing a huge roll in my emotional health!

 

Every day I have to make a decision to be healthy. Most importantly for myself, but also for God, and my husband, and my kids, and my church and my clients. Emotionally, physically and spiritually. True health, I’ve come to realize, isn’t really possible without all 3 being a huge priority in my life. 

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Rachel Gallegos is a Christ follower, Wife, Mother to 3 and Step Mother to 2. She’s a Realtor in the West Michigan area, where she has lived all her life. As a survivor of suicide loss, she is extremely passionate about mental health awareness.

 Rachel and Audrey get to hang out Wednesday nights in the Spring when they play on a co-ed softball team together.

FB Business Page: https://www.facebook.com/rachelgallegosrealtor/

 






Six Weeks of Bowl Meals: Harvest Burger Bowl

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Everyone is overwhelmed. Laundry, responsibility, work, a million school papers flying out of kid’s backpacks. The garage. Voicemails. Emails.

Then there’s meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking healthy meals.

The difference between those who can handle the overwhelm and those who allow it to paralyze them is basic: Healthy-striving people prioritize and plan. Successful people prioritize and plan. Less stressed people prioritize and plan. They listen to their intuition and trust it. They ignore that which is not important and focus on all that is to them.

What does it even mean to prioritize and plan? For some it’s a detailed planner, for others it’s utilizing Apple technology, google calendar or an app. For my grandpa it was always a notepad and golf pencil stashed in the breast pocket of every shirt he wore. It means saying “no” more than “yes” even if it hurts someone’s feelings, makes the kids cry or the neighbor annoyed. It’s taking action, one priority at a time.

Yup, without disclaimer or explanation. It’s a “no”.

Week four of six weeks of bowl meals is the perfect salad to add to next week’s meal plan. It follows all the balanced nutrition guidelines for ideal blood sugar control—a high healthy eating priority. It just so happens eating balanced, nutrient dense meals aids in the effort to feel less overwhelm. Blood sugar control is related to hormone regulation. Hormone regulation is responsible for balanced cortisol which aids in calm, clear, focused thinking, sleeping, and moving. It’s crazy how everything is connected.

Suddenly the emails and garage have bumped to the bottom of the list.

Harvest Burger Bowl

By Audrey Byker Health Coach

serves 4-6

FOR THE VEGGIES FAT AND PROTEIN

-2-3 head of romaine lettuce, chopped, washed and spun in the salad spinner

-1lb ground beef (know your farmer)

-1-2 Tbls. non chili spice blend(burger blend). I can’t get enough of this

-1/2 medium onion, chopped

-1 cup pecans, roasted and salted

for the carbs and flavor

-4 med/lg sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1in. pieces

-1-2 Tbls avocado oil

-salt

-pepper

-1 apple sliced or diced(optional for garnish)

Creamy Avocado Dressing(or this):

-1/2 large avocado

-1/4 tsp sea salt

-One lime, juiced

-1/4 cup olive or avocado oil

-1/2 Tbls raw honey(optional)

-1 clove garlic, minced

-1/4-1/3 cup water, as needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add sweet potato to a large bowl and stir to coat with oil then sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbls spice blend. Add salt if spice does not contain it. Add to parchment paper covered sheet pan and add to oven to roast for 30 min or desired doneness, stirring 1/2 way. Set aside to cool slightly before adding to bowl.

While sweet potatoes roast add ground beef and onion to pan over med. heat. Add 1/2 Tbls spice blend. Cook through and brown. Remove from heat until sweet potatoes are ready.

Prepare bowl and dressing. Layer romaine coated in dressing, sweet potato, ground beef and pecans. Drizzle a bit more dressing on top as desired.

Spring Chicken Power Bowl

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Gosh I love fat. And mayo. And full-fat mayo with lemon. It was like my sister moved back and my best life began when I slowly made the discovery eating fat and the higher calories--9 per gram to be exact--that come with it, does not make me fat. Ironically, the low-calorie, nutrient depleted, chemically concocted fake foods from the 90's not only left me hungry ALL THE TIME, but were to blame for the constant shrinking and expanding of my jeans in my 20's.  It makes a heck of a lot more sense to me now and especially when I stop to think about how humans are made and connected to the earth--the source of life and food's existence.

Most bowl recipes are thought up on the fly while managing three kids, leftovers and a cluttered kitchen. This Spring Chicken Power Bowl is no exception. I started with the raw chicken tenders from Costco sprinkled with lemon rosemary seasoning, salt and pepper. They sat on a plate while I asked the neighbor to help me light the grill then scoured the fridge and pantry for leftover "dump ins" which always include:

1) Mainly light, nutrient-laden veggies

2) Some fiber and filling, dense carbs

3) Added healthy fats

4) A sprinkle of flavor

5) A portion of protein

Once the kids were settled and eating, I rinsed and tossed green beans into a pan of water--no time for trimming. When the water came to a boil, gluten free rotini noodles were added, along with the lid. After a quick check on the flames, I was back inside chopping green beans and baby spinach.  

With every ingredient scattered across the counter, this power bowl came together . I had one last dump-in to create: The dressing, which is also the added fats for flavor, satiety and overall goodness.  Creamy mayo always makes me happy and especially when it's homemade or has clean ingredients.  Not all fats are good--for disease prevention, inflammation reduction and nutrient absorption. Processed fats need to be crowded out with as-close-to-natural as possible sources. A whole egg contains a yolk which is natural. A sunflower, almond, olive and the cold-pressed(not chemically processed) oil from it can also be included. Anything heated at high temperatures and extracted with chemicals changes dramatically from it's natural state which in turn becomes foreign and harmful to the body--not natural. Again: Nature, not science.  Mystery not definite.  Praise God mayo is not the enemy!! Nothing sounded better to me than a mayo based dressing and lemon to pair with the chicken seasoning. Oh. My. Thank. You. To my jeans, for not altering and the most delicious flavor combinations to keep it that way.

Spring Chicken Power Bowl

By Audrey Byker, Health Coach

Serves One

For the Bowl:

-3 small raw chicken tenders

-2 tsp. lemon rosemary seasoning(I use Wildtree)

-1 cup fresh green beans

-1/2 cup gluten free noodles

-1 cup baby spinach, chopped

-1/4 cup roasted, salted almonds, crushed

-Sea salt, to taste

-Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

For the Dressing:

-1/4 cup mayonnaise, organic without soybean, canola, safflower or other processed oils(I like Sir Kensingtons or homemade)

-2 Tbls. lemon balsamic vinegar(Fustinis) or 1 Tbls. white wine vinegar and 1 Tbls. Fresh squeezed lemon juice

-1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced

Sprinkle seasoning on chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat grill and cook chicken, turning half way. In a large saucepan add green beans and cover well with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add gluten free noodles. Turn to low and simmer per noodle directions. Strain and rinse with cold water.

Add to a bowl the spinach, green beans, noodles, chicken, almonds and sea salt and pepper.

In a small bowl or dressing jar, whisk dressing ingredients together.  Drizzle over ingredients in bowl and enjoy!