Amy Mac's Musings

A blog by Amy McCallister-Ethel

What to do About Stomach Flu: Advice from Trainer Mel — January 20, 2016

What to do About Stomach Flu: Advice from Trainer Mel

The past few days have been pretty rough at The Ethel Homestead.

The 3 year old woke up very early one morning throwing up. His older brother (4 years old) woke up a couple of hours later, same thing.

When it comes to mothering and taking care my kids, I become “Amy 2.0.” Everything else stops. In between washing bed sheets and sanitizing EVERYTHING, I started to feel queasy myself. Then my husband started to get sick. The Ethels were dropping like flies.

I hopped on Facebook and went to my friend (and trainer) Mel’s page, to send her a message. I needed advice quick! Let me back up for a second….

I met Mel at our local gym back in May and we connected immediately. We met at Panera for smoothies the very next week. I told her about my journey so far,  my health/fitness goals, and the bad habits (ahem, Alcohol just to name one) that I have overcome by participating in Celebrate Recovery and the 12 steps. As I told her my story, she had tears in her eyes and I knew I had met a fellow soul sister.

Mel is my GO-TO for all things health, nutrition and fitness. (If you don’t have someone like this in your life, I suggest you get one,  ASAP!)

Mel is one of the most positive, energetic people I have ever met. Not only does she live and breathe health, wellness, and exercise in her own life, she has the desire for others to have it as well.

Back to the current situation at hand…..

Sickness was in our house..and I wanted it gone NOW!  I always love the way that God works and how He knows what we need, WHEN we need it. When I went to Mel’s page, I ended up not even having to send her a message, because her current Facebook status was about (you guessed it) the stomach flu. I asked her permission to share this advice and she said “OF COURSE!” I love this gal! I wish I had known this information BEFORE we all came down with the bug, but now I will be prepared in the future. Thank you Mel!!!!!

Stomach flu graphic


Are there ways to keep yourself from getting the stomach flu?

Other than washing your hands until they bleed???

…the answer is YES!

1. Eat your probiotics.

Yogurt is full of bacteria but it’s “the good kind” that your stomach needs to combat the “bad” kind that makes it want to turn itself inside out in your toilet. The latest research shows that not only can probiotics help stop vomiting and diarrhea 1-3 days earlier but that they can also help prevent colds and improve the body’s response to the flu vaccine. Children given probiotics missed fewer days from daycare due to stomach flu than children who got a placebo (although the AAP notes that more research needs to be done and hence official recommendations can’t be made yet). To reap maximum benefits, avoid yogurts with a lot of added flavoring, colors and sugars as all of those things can exacerbate an irritated gut. Personally I like eating plain, whole yogurt.

2. Stay hydrated inside and out.

One of the reasons people get sick more in the winter is because dehydrated skin means more tiny cracks which means your body’s largest organ and best immune system defense is compromised. While you can’t change the weather you can drink extra fluids, protect your skin from cold weather and use extra lotion. Also, sadly, long, hot showers are not your friend as they dry out your skin too. On the inside, upping your fluid intake makes sure your body has all the H2o it needs to run properly.

3. Stress less.

Cortisol, the “stress hormone”, works partially by suppressing your immune system. When you’re in a true crisis that’s a good thing, but constant stress over time just hangs a “vacancy!” sign over the germ motel of your body. Meditate, take a walk outside, surf for craft ideas on Pinterest that you love or whatever you do to relax.

4. Colon cleansing.

Your body needs a certain balance of minerals and electrolytes to work properly. When you’re healthy, this balance is maintained partly through the colon as it absorbs what your body needs. If you upset the balance in the colon or irritate the walls too much, eat processed foods often, not passing or clearing the colon holds onto these chemicals. Thus affecting the colon to properly absorb the electrolytes and minerals your body needs.

Wow! Thanks again to Mel for this awesome advice!

It was too good not to share.

Until next time,  BE BLESSED!!!!


Back from Blogcation — May 6, 2013

Back from Blogcation

Yes, I know. It’s the week of finals. Shouldn’t I have waited until next week to return from my Blogcation? Probably. But there is something much too big going on in my life right now to NOT blog about. Immediately.


Plus I needed a break from studying.


A few weeks ago, (April 11th to be exact), I began my day just like any other. I stopped by Starbucks on my way to school and got my vanilla latte and sausage breakfast sandwich. I had no idea it would be the last piece of meat I would ever care to eat.


This semester at Marshall, I took an English Class called “Texting the World,” (Rhetoric in Popular Culture) taught by Dr. Roxanne Aftanas .  There is not enough blog space here to talk about this class, and the impact it had on me. It was a critical thinking class and after taking it, I cannot live my life, day to day, without asking WHY? about everything. I am constantly analyzing now. On April 11th, she DARED us to go 5 days without eating meat or dairy, and to watch the documentary Forks over Knives . So I did it as kind of a fun social experiment. On the 3rd day of the #nomeatchallenge something happened. I felt AMAZING . The best I had felt in years.

I watched only a few  minutes of the documentary “Forks over Knives,” and I was in tears. When it came to the story about the man taking insulin shots everyday I had to stop the film. The reason I stopped it is because I KNEW my husband needed to be watching it with me. JR is a type II diabetic and ALSO taking insulin shots. That evening we watched the documentary together. To be honest, I fell asleep before it was over, but he stayed up and watched the whole thing. The next morning we discussed the documentary and he was telling me about the parts I missed (after having fallen asleep), I asked him what he thought about it. LOVE is not a strong enough word for how my husband feels about steak. It was his absolute favorite thing on earth to eat. I never thought in a hundred million years he would ever consider giving it up. But the morning after we watched the film he looked at me and said, “This way of eating reversed that man’s diabetes. And one day, I want to play with my grandchildren. So I’m going to do it.”  I was floored. So on day 5, my husband joined me on the no meat challenge.

On this blog, I have talked about my struggle with weight and my desire to become healthy.  For the first time, I feel like it’s happening:


3 weeks in and I lost 15 pounds!
3 weeks in and I lost 15 pounds!

Yes! 15 pounds! I am feeling great. I don’t feel like I am dieting, I just changed my lifestyle….This is only the beginning!

Facing a Storm and Reaching Another Milestone — March 5, 2012

Facing a Storm and Reaching Another Milestone

I can’t believe it. I am actually planning my little baby boy’s 1st birthday party! Aidan is 11 months old today. I’ve heard so many parents tell me, “Enjoy every minute, because it goes by so fast!” It sounds like a cliche, but it really is so very true.

11 months old today!!!

It is sometimes a little bit hard to get a good picture of a little boy who never stops moving!

This boy is such a funny little person. He amazes me every single day with how smart he is. He recently just got his third tooth. He already had two on the bottom, now he has one on the top! He is having a hard time getting used to the feeling of teeth in his mouth, so he has been making some very funny faces.

Bull Dog Face

Aidan still loves to listen to music every day. He likes cartoons sometimes too.  Phineas and Ferb are his favorite. He smiles from ear to ear when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on TV. In honor of his 11 month birthday, I got him a Mickey Mouse. Here was his reaction:

I’m not sure if he was trying to kiss Mickey, or trying to bite him.

We have so very much to be thankful for! This past Friday evening, we decided to go for a visit to the farm. My family’s farm is about a 35-40 minute drive from our apartment. I always take Route 23, through Louisa, Kentucky, because the road is 4 lanes and seems safer to me than taking Route 52 (which is a winding 2 lane road). It was very cloudy when we left, but by the time we were passing through Louisa it was very dark, cloudy and SCARY. This is what I saw as I pulled into town:

We made it safe and sound to the farm. Fifteen minutes later it began to rain then HAIL. Hail the size of golf balls! I’m so thankful that we arrived to the farm when we did, because a TORNADO went through Louisa, where we had been, just 15 minutes earlier. Thank you God for keeping us safe!

Quick update on my weight loss progress: I am still going strong! No pop or greasy fast food cheeseburgers since New Years Eve. The results? Since the beginning of this journey I have lost a total of 16 pounds!  Thanks so much to my friends at Eating for Me for helping me to healthify meals and for keeping me accountable. To watch the wrap up video for February go here:  Eating for Me February Wrap Up.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

Please pray for those in Kentucky who were victims of these storms and tornadoes on Friday.

Have you ever been in a major storm or tornado?

Under the Weather: A quick update — February 11, 2012

Under the Weather: A quick update

Wow, I’ve really been neglecting my blog. I’m feeling bloggy guilty. When I don’t post, I always feel guilty. This time, there is a really good reason, I promise.

Our family has been under the weather. Big time. The baby caught it first, the runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever. Yuck. I caught it next. Then my husband caught it. Just as husband was getting over the cold, the baby and I got a stomach virus. This virus is pure evil and I was really hoping that my husband wouldn’t get it. No such luck. Hubs had to stay home from work today and feels so very bad.

On a lighter note,  in the midst of all this sickness, Aidan turned 10 months old! Here he is on his 10 month birthday:

We had church at home on Sunday. I love that we can watch our church service online when we can’t be there in person.

Are you wondering how I’m doing on my promise to get healthy in 2012? Have I caved under the pressure of all this sickness and gave in to my Dr. Pepper addiction?

The answer is no! As we speak, I have been pop and fast-food free for 40 days now! The result so far? This is so exciting. I’m down 2 pants sizes. Even more exciting: I have been able to go OFF blood pressure medicine!!! Pretty amazing right?  As far as weight loss goes, I really have not lost a significant amount of pounds, yet. Since the beginning of this journey, in a little over a month, I’ve lost about 5 pounds. I know it’s not much, but I’m celebrating it because I’m not focusing on the numbers, I’m focusing on getting healthy! That’s what this journey is all about, right?

Check at my friends over at Eating For Me!  

Here is a link to their January Wrap Up Video:

Healthify your Year-January Wrap

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Have you kept it? 

Snow and My “Not So Skinny” Jeans — January 3, 2012

Snow and My “Not So Skinny” Jeans

Two awesome things happened yesterday.

Awesome thing #1- My baby saw snow for the first time. We have our first snowfall of the winter. The first snowfall since baby boy was born. I bundled him up and braved the weather to go run errands. While sitting in his car seat, he peeked over his blanket and looked around. His eyes got very wide, his eyebrows shot up and he smiled so big. He loved it! I only wish I could have taken a picture. He is so precious.

Awesome thing #2-I’m wearing a new pair of jeans. These are NOT skinny jeans by any stretch of my imagination. My Dad and Rose got me some new jeans for Christmas. On Christmas day, they would not fit me. Today is day 3 of my journey to Healthify my year.  Over the past 3 days, I have done 2 things. I have stopped eating fast food and I have given up soda pop. I can already tell a difference in the way I feel. The most immediate change I feel, is less bloated. Yesterday I took a chance, and tried on my new jeans, jeans that I could not wear the week before, because they were too tight. I was so surprised when I put them on and they were loose on me!!! Woo hoo!! These size 18 jeans, that I could not even wear a week ago, are big on me.

Please excuse me for a moment, I need to pause for a Fist Pump…


So have I lost any pounds yet? I don’t know, I’m only going to weigh myself once a week, on Sundays. I’m not focusing on the numbers. Because I’m not on a diet. I’m focusing on getting healthier, and I’d say this is a great start. 🙂



So Far So Good — January 2, 2012

So Far So Good

The journey has begun! It is week 1 of my healthy new life. So far so good!

My first step on this journey to get healthy was to end my relationship with fast food and to break up with the drive thru.  I decided to take the pledge with my friends at Eating for Me to “Healthify” my year. This week, Elizabeth has given us 3 challenges

Challenge #1- Remember The Goal – The goal is to get healthy. We’re not going to focus on losing X number of pounds by a certain date. We are taking baby steps to lead a healthier life. If we focus on the pounds, and we don’t lose them, we may get discouraged and quit. This is NOT a diet.

Challenge #2- Write Down What You Eat– So I started a food journal. I am using just a regular notebook with lined paper. Nothing fancy. I can already tell this will make a difference for me. On the first day, I really thought hard about what I was choosing to eat, because I knew if I ate it, I had to write it down. And I did not want to write down that I was eating sweets, especially on my first day! Am I giving up sweets? No, I’m not. I’m just thinking more about what I eat before it goes in my mouth, down into my belly, and then its too late. A food journal is going to help me keep track of what I’m eating and help me evaluate what small changes I can make, that will make a difference without making me feel deprived.

Challenge #3- Identify your biggest weakness– Well I already talked about my infatuation with the drive thru and fast food. My biggest weakness goes hand in hand with that. My weakness is soft drinks. Soda pop. Dr. Pepper to be exact. Oh and Root Beer too. Sugary, bubbly, caffeinated drinks. I’m a sucker for them. I do not discriminate, I have yet to meet a sweet carbonated drink that I just down right hate. Dr. Pepper/Mr. Pibb is my favorite, but if a place does not carry it, Coke or Pepsi will do just fine. Forgive me, but I’m about to go off on a tangent.

It may be just me, but I find it amusing how this substance is called something different everywhere you go. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over the country in my short 31 years. Traveling is one of my FAVORITE things to do. So I’ve noticed that…

The further north you go, they call it Soda.  Out west, they call it a soft drink. Here in West Virginia we call it Pop. In the mid-west they call it Soda Pop. In Tennessee they call it Coke. For real. Even Pepsi is called Coke. I once had this experience with a server in Jackson, Tennessee.

Server: What can I get you to drink?

Me: I’d like a Coke please.

Server: What kind of Coke would you like?

Me:  A Coke.

Server: <<Blank stare>>

Me: Umm.. Coca Cola Classic?

Server: We don’t have Coca Cola products, How about a Pepsi?


Anyway, I digress.

So there you have it, my biggest weakness. And no, I cannot switch to diet dr pepper. I’ve tried. It actually makes it worse, makes me want my good stuff even more. So this may not be a big deal to some folks, but I have decided to give it up. For now. Not forever. I can do it. I gave it up throughout my pregnancy and survived. If I start to REALLY feel deprived, I’m going to treat myself to a diet root beer. This journey is about baby steps, small changes. It is not life altering to substitute my pop for a glass of juice. Or better yet a glass of water. I think it will make a difference and it for SURE will be alot healthier!

Lastly, I have to make a correction about something I confessed in my last post. I shockingly disclosed my honest to God weight. According to the scale in my bathroom yesterday, I weighed in at 245. So that’s what I posted. In actuality, that scale cheated me! Today, out of pure curiosity, I did a body test on my Wii Fit program, and it also measures weight. According to the Wii scale, today I weigh 235 pounds. No I did not lose 10 pounds in 1 day. Take a look at what this cheating scale reads with NO ONE standing on it:

My nemesis

Either the air in my apartment weighs 10 pounds, or its time for me to chuck this thing out the window.

So, what do you call a soft drink? Pop? Soda? What is your biggest weakness when it comes to getting healthy?

It’s Time for a Change — January 1, 2012

It’s Time for a Change

This is going to be one of the most difficult posts I’ve written. A post about something I have struggled with for many MANY years. I know I am not alone in this struggle, though at times I have felt alone. Very alone and very ashamed. The struggle I am talking about is my weight.

I was not an overweight child. I was a thin, clumsy, sometimes awkward one. I had chronic low self-esteem, but that is another topic for another day. I always liked to play sports and when high school graduation came around, I weighed about 145 pounds. Which is a pretty healthy weight for a girl of my height at 5 foot 6 inches.

Me at 18 years old, with my friend Bobby in 1999

I attended college at Marshall University and it was then that I developed some very unhealthy habits. Like many college students, I loved the party scene and began to smoke and drink socially. However, I eventually became addicted to both cigarettes and alcohol. (Again, another topic for another day).  This is where I began to gain a significant amount of weight. On top of my drinking, I began a long term relationship with fast food and eating out. In my sophomore year of college I gained 30 pounds, and the next year I ended up failing out of school. After that I moved back home, to my Dad’s.  I continued my poor eating habits and gained another 25 pounds over the next several years. I tried so many different diets. I would lose weight, but then put it back on.  The year 2007 was the year I gained the most. I was diagnosed with a tumor on my pituitary gland and was told I would have a difficult time having children. I am not going to sit here and pretend that the glandular problem caused my weight gain. I’m sure it had just as much to do with the pop tarts I was eating every day for breakfast.  I started dating my soon to be husband at the end of that year. The next summer was my 10 year high school reunion. I almost didn’t go because I was so ashamed of how big I was and how ugly I felt. How big was I?  Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I’m going to write this. I’m actually going to tell my weight. I’m actually, really gonna do it…..** DEEP BREATH**  Exhale…..

Ten years after I graduated from high school, I weighed 255 pounds. In ten years, I had gained 110 pounds.

Me at my 10 year High School Reunion

It’s heartbreaking. It’s embarrassing. It’s….so many things that I can’t even begin to say. It makes me what to cry big buckets of tears into this keyboard.

A girl’s wedding day is supposed to be the day she feels the most glamorous. She finds the perfect gown and marries her perfect guy. She plans for months in advance and might even splurge on a few extras, like new make-up, a spray tan, a spa day, a fresh manicure. I splurged on all those things, but nothing could hide the fact that I was not the girl I once was. I tried to lose weight before my wedding, and ended up losing 10 pounds. But what does 10 pounds matter when you are still 100 pounds heavier than you used to be? So I found my perfect gown, and married my perfect guy. Yes, my husband is pretty much amazing and has always told me he loves me for ME, just the way I am.

Our Wedding Day May 9, 2009

As of today, I am at the exact weight that I was on the day I got married. Alot has happened since then. I gave up smoking and drinking. I got my bottom back to church.  I had a beautiful baby boy and I’ve been breastfeeding him for the last 9 months. Having this baby is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I want to be the very best I can be, because he deserves the best. He deserves a healthy mom. He needs to learn, by example, how to make wise decisions and how to have a healthy lifestyle. So it’s time for me to make a change. This year is the year. No I am not going on a diet. I have tried diet after diet and have failed. No I am not going to spend hours upon hours at the gym. I’ve tried that too, and I crashed and burned. So what am I going to do? I’m so glad you asked….

My friends at Eating for Me have developed a new nutrition approach to help people live a healthier life. I have known Stacy and Elizabeth for a long time, and I’m so excited to take this journey with them. I have taken the pledge to “Healthify your Year.” It’s all about making small changes that make a big difference. THIS IS NOT A DIET!!!! It’s taking small steps to better nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.  For more info on this plan and how to take the pledge click here: 2012 Pledge .

So what am I going to do first? I mean it IS New Year’s Day, the day resolutions get made (and …….well …..usually broken in the same day…Ok, nevermind that, moving on).

My first step is this…..I’m breaking up with the drive thru. We’ve had a long volatile relationship and it is time for it to end. That’s it. That is where I am starting. It’s all about baby steps people!

This is not going to be easy all the time, but I have to do it. For my son, for my husband, for MYSELF. I will be blogging throughout this journey and I’m excited to see where it takes me. Finally, to you reading my post, THANK YOU. It was very VERY hard for me to share all of this. Your kind words and encouragement are much appreciated!

Holding my sweet baby New Year's Eve 2011