Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grapefruit Simplicity

I never liked grapefruit until maybe 2 years ago. I always thought they were bitter and awful. I couldn't understand why anyone would like them. I saw my grandparents eat them at breakfast time with those pokey grapefruit spoons, the grapefruit cut in 1/2 and sugar sprinkled on top. The sugar didn't help much imho. I liked grapefruit lotion though. The one from Bath & Body works is just wonderful. I had a perfume that I bought in college at Nordstrom that had a grapefruit base -- it was just wonderful. I think I even liked the grapefruit lifesavers (aren't those the clear ones?)

I never liked the actual grapefruit fruit though. Until a few years ago. I was sitting by a friend who was eating grapefruit. She invited me to have some. I told her I didn't like grapefruit. She told me to try it again. I didn't really want to, but I was hungry. So I took a bite. Then I took another bite. Pretty soon, I'd eaten 1/2 of her grapefruit (she had it cut it into small unintimidating portions). Now I love it. I can hardly believe how simple and fulfilling it is -- not just filling, but fulfilling. Yeah, they're pretty big, so they would fill you up, but something about that sharp bite of a taste seems to chase away cravings too.

I have noticed that if I drink water right after eating a grapefruit, I taste more of the bitter that I remember when I was younger. I'm not sure why. So wait on the water if you can.

As for nutrients, grapefruit obviously has lots of vitamin C since it's akin to the orange. You will also get fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B5, potassium, folate (or folic acid) and lycopene in a grapefruit. The lycopene surprised me since usually the cooked tomato gets all the attention in the news for being a great lycopene (cancer fighting antioxidant) source. Here is a World's Healthiest Foods article about what the grapefruit provides. Remember to buy organic if you can. They tend to be much tastier and juicier (as well as healthier).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Inhale with Steve Ross

No, the sound on your computer isn't broken. This video clip just has the audio portion disabled for copyright purposes. I still thought I'd show it here if you wanted a sample of his class. It really isn't the same silent, but it will give you a peak.

You may have the Oxygen Network on cable or satellite and may have already seen this yoga show where the music is hip and the instructor is lively. It's called Inhale and the man is Steve Ross.

When we used to have a big variety of cable channels (now we have the basic 10), I used to see this yoga class that wore muted colored, comfy cotton clothes and that often bounced to the rhythm of the music. It didn't look like any serene yoga class I'd seen before. The instructor always seemed so happy too, smiling and laughing as he talked.

I never stopped to do Inhale because it was on at 6:00 a.m. and I was usually putting a workout dvd in at the time. I did some yoga then, but was pretty set in the groove of a few yoga instructors, not wanting to try someone new out without the comforts of rewinding or skipping back. Plus there would be commercials. I wasn't so sure I wanted commercials.  But I finally tried it and just love Inhale.

The music is original (no off-shoot bands or funky renditions of a familiar song) and very upbeat (well, until the cool-down stretch at the end). You hear many of the same songs on the different shows, but no 2 yoga practices are the same. The order of the songs changes too. So it seems like going to a familiar yoga class each time, but not the same exact class.

Inhale Yoga is an intermediate power yoga class. If you do it with commercials, it will take an hour. If you do it commercial-free, it will last about 45 minutes. Sometimes I wish I were actually getting the commercial breaks now. When he says to lean over forward and stretch and they cut to a commercial, it feels so good, but on my dvd, it only lasts a second. I could stop and pause it if I wanted, but I usually go on to another sun salutation instead.

Steve guides you through what he calls the warm-up (a standing stretch or two at the beginning, inhale up, bow forward, lift your head half-way up, bow forward again. Jump back (into plank position), slowly come down (chaturanga dandasana -- the fastest way to get sore chest muscles if you haven't done them much before), then up into updog, back into downward facing dog. Rest a bit, lift up your right leg . . . then you're off to a pose with that leg forward -- be it a crescent lunge, warrior pose, balance pose, etc. You repeat these sequences with a chair pose or side plank here and there. It is not easy. It's tough. You start to wish you could just stop warming up already. But it's all good. Steve's charming and playful personality keep you happy about going and you're getting stronger and more balanced each day.

When the cool-down portion comes, it's never long enough, but is always nice. I love when he does pigeon poses (which he loves to say with a French accent). It's not like he doesn't hold these stretch poses for long, he does. I could just do twice or triple the number and be happy. Sometimes he does partner poses and I have my youngest son push down on my back for that increased stretch. When Steve has the class switch partners, I get a free choice on a stretch. Pretty fun. Often, I continue on with more stretching poses on my own when he's finishing up in relaxation pose. I'll go another 10 or so minutes. But most of the time, I use these dvds on says when I do want a shorter yoga practice and a smile on my face as I go.

I don't know if these will ever be available retail on dvd. People have been requesting them for years. But if you have access to record them (or a friend who will), try them out. They're priceless.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Neti Pot Relief

I first learned about the neti pot while watching Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah one night. I've been told by a doctor maybe 12 years ago that surfers don't suffer from hay fever. They have so much salt water in their nasal cavities that their noses are clear and the inflammation is lessened. I'm not sure how true that is, but this doctor (before saline nose sprays or drops were commonly seen in stores) advised me to put a bit of salt into some water in a dropper, then use it like nose drops. I tried it many times and it didn't seem to do much for me. I later tried some saline spray (with some Ocean name). It didn't make a dent in my allergies either.

When I saw Dr. Oz talk about the neti pot, that intrigued me. It made more sense to have the salt water rinse through your nasal passage instead of just drip in and stay there. When it washes through, it's actually cleaning out the pollen and mucous that is causing problems or discomfort. I've never had sinus problems, but my husband has a lot of sinus infections. He's been using the neti pot whenever he gets congested to prevent sinus infections and has found great relief from it. I've loved what it does for my allergies.

Now for the video -- the whole process isn't the prettiest thing to watch. And it feels strange to do the first few times you do it (especially the first time). If the water is too cold, you will know it and you will hate it. Just dump it out and fill it with lukewarm water. If the water is too warm, it's no fun either. But if you fill it with lukewarm water and put just shy of 1/4 t. of salt in it (non-iodized if you're an iodized salt person -- I'm not.

I use sea salt, although I've read not to because it burns -- I'd rather use a more natural salt and just have to use a little less instead of the heaping 1/4. teaspoon that this video requests). If you're not used to the saltiness of the water, it may burn a bit or feel uncomfortable. But if you have enough water in your neti pot and don't have over 1/4 t. of salt, it should be fine. Sometimes it burns a bit for me at first, but feels fine later on. Anyway, watch it to get an idea of how it works. If your nose is clogged, the water won't go through at first, but just keep working at it and is usually will by the end.

One thing I do that the video doesn't show is brace my head to the side with the arm not holding the neti pot. So if I'm putting the salt water in my right nostril, I'll use my right hand to pour the water and will rest my left elbow on the left edge of the sink, bracing my head (at my ear) in my left hand. This helps me to keep my head stable and to not worry that I'm not tilting my head right or something.

The first time I did it, I thought "am I drowning?" for the first second, but could see really quickly that I was just fine. Sometimes a little drips into the throat, but usually afterward. What's really fun is when hours later you inhale and can taste or sense the salt water in your throat and even up near your ears (which allergy sufferers know become itchy, so that's a nice relief there too).

The video shows that she inhales the last of the water at the end. I do that too and it feels great. But I sometimes have to blow my nose at the end, sometimes even in the middle of it. Sometimes it makes me sneeze. I just go with whatever is happening and then continue on until the water is gone.

I even used the neti pot after my ear infection to help reduce the swelling of my ears from the inside. If I hadn't been so sick before that, I probably would have used it at the early signs of the ear infection too.

On our way home from our vacation this weekend, I started feeling allergy symptoms (not sure if it was from the smog or some dog hair I was exposed to). I knew I had to get a handle on it before it became out of control. One day of suffering was all I wanted. So when I got home Sunday night, I used the neti pot. By the time I went to bed, I felt a little less agitated. By the time I woke up, my nose was no longer running and my other allergy symptoms were gone too. I'm feeling great!

I recommend it to everyone who tells me of nasal related problems. Not everyone is eager to try it, but for under $15, it's a bargain and a lifesaver. You can buy them at any health food store, online, or I've heard even at Wal-Mart (we don't have a Wal-Mart, so I can't verify that one). They come in different sizes and shapes, but mine is just like the picture at the top, is ceramic, and sits on the window sill above my kitchen sink. I don't use mine every day like Dr. Oz suggests -- just when I'm having problems. That seems to work for me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In and Out

I've been out for 10 days during the Easter break. Well, it's a few days after being back now, but I'm playing catch-up with laundry and all. I'm anxious to start writing again. I can't really focus well enough to write tonight -- everyone's home, the younger boys are playing with an old Happy Birthday helium balloon, my daughters are singing and talking to a friend, my husband is outside working on an old car he just bought to restore. I still have a ton of clothes to fold. And most importantly, American Idol is about to start any minute (glad I've got my priorities straight there :)). I just wanted to get on and write just enough to get my brain back into the mode of realizing I do indeed have a blog that I want to write on tomorrow.

By the way, the picture above is from our trip to Southern CA last week. We stopped at In-n-Out, as usual. It used to be a big ritual for our family, from the time my husband and I were first married. We'd always find an In-n-Out along the way, even back when there were very few. When I cut back heavily on animal products, I always proclaimed that In-n-Out hamburgers were a big exception. They were so tasty, I just couldn't resist. But once I got into raw foods and saw how eating meat on the road would just make me feel awful afterward in the car, I started evaluating my need to eat these things. I would feel awful for hours -- I'd taste this rotting taste (not a rotten taste, but truly like it was rotting inside my body and I'd taste it -- blech!) Not worth the few moments of pleasure of eating that truly-best-of-all-hamburgers burger with big fat onions. So here I am in this picture, with my water near my side just fine (talking to someone as always about who knows what). No regrets in the car a few hours later either.

I think tomorrow's topic will be the Neti Pot. Either that or Inhale Yoga (just did that with Steve Ross this morning - - he's amazingly fun). See you tomorrow!

Edited to add 5 months later -- 9/27/09 -- We moved to a city with an In and Out. I've wondered since if the urge to get a hamburger there would ever hit me. My memory is that (like I wrote up above) that they are the best of all hamburgers. Well, in preparation for my 90 days @ 90% raw challenge, I spontaneously decided (while driving near one) to stop at In and Out to get a hamburger. My rationalization was that I would see what I was missing so I wouldn't wonder and get some craving for it that could spoil my 90 day challenge. So I bought one and ate it (with just one half of the bun - - couldn't put that whole thing in my body). And I found that it wasn't nearly as tasty as I used to think it was. It was actually pretty bland. I did remember, however, that for hours afterward, I could taste that meat inside my body. It was not a pleasant taste. Glad I got that out of my system. I can cross it off of my list of foods I once thought were the best.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Article on foods that cause bad breath

In light of yesterday's post, I just found an article on the foods that cause bad breath. In a nutshell, it says that foods that spoil (and smell) fast cause bad breath -- dairy products and other dense proteins like meat, poultry, and fish. She mentioned beans as a dense protein too, but said that was rare. I've never noticed any problems with beans.

She mentioned some other foods -- sugar and acidic foods (sugar is acid-forming by the way).

When I'm eating a high raw diet, I'm rarely eating sugar and have more alkaline foods, and am not eating dairy or any form of meat, so this supports why my breath would be fresh and sweet in the morning.

Here's the full article from Wild World of Food.

Not to gross you out or anything, but I was just thinking about the difference between cleaning up after one of my children have thrown up when they've had dairy or when they've just had homemade bread and fruit (a frequent dinner in our home). When they've had milk to drink or cheese to eat, the smell is just awful and the milk is all curdled. If it's just grains, vegetables, or fruit, sure, it's still awful to clean up, but it's not really smelly at all. The dairy products spoil quickly inside our bodies just as they do when they're left out of the fridge, maybe even faster once our enzymes start breaking them down. I really need to go back to school to get a masters in nutrition. I have such a curiosity for how all this works. Maybe in a few years. The thought of studying again because I *have to* isn't all that appealing to me. :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Breath freshness in the morning

Did you know that you breath is an indicator of good health or healthy eating? It's true! I have no studies to back this up other than through my own experience. I'm sure I could do a little research, but for now, I'm just going to share what I've found.

First of all, it's not only breath that tells the tale. The smell of our sweat and hair can reflect our health too. When I was younger, my mom would tell me that my hair smelled bad when I had a viral infection. When my 9 year old daughter gets sick, her hair smells awful too. With sweat, I've noticed that people who are more out of shape (less in shape?) smell worse when they sweat (and so do men over all, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with their health -- maybe it does though. It would be interesting to see if that has to do with meat consumption -- do a test between vegan men and those who often eat animal products).

But getting back to breath, I've always hated the taste of morning breath. When I'm sick or on medication, it's even worse. I attribute the medicative breath to toxicity. Once I was on a heavy duty antibiotic. I had a post-surgical infection and the first 2 antibiotics did nothing. The 3rd came in and saved the day, but I could taste it on my lips. Oooh, it was awful, especially in the morning. It reminded me of how I can taste chemicals on my lips after using fingernail polish remover. That stuff is bad, bad, bad for your body.

When I first noticed I could improve my breath through my eating, it was when I started eating raw foods (either all raw or pretty well near). I'd wake up each day not just with the absence of bad breath, but with an actual sweet taste in my mouth. It was amazing. When I'm eating more cooked foods more along the lines of Eat to Live, like now, the taste in my mouth is good in the morning, but not sweet like when I'm eating raw.

I see a big change in my breath every time I eat animal foods, mostly now that's when I eat eggs. Whenever I've slipped and have had some dairy, my breath gets really bad. Same with meat. I haven't had any meat in awhile though, so that memory isn't as fresh (sorry for the pun). It takes a few days of me eating whole plant foods to get my good breath back.

When I was sick a month or so ago, my breath was just awful. My grandma used to say "My mouth tastes like the bottom of a bird cage" and that memory came back loud and clear. When I was not getting better after a few weeks of misery and went on antibiotics (kicking and screaming -- I would have much rather my ear infections cleared up on their own, but they were painful and I couldn't hear a thing), I noticed a new bad taste took place of the old one. It was so nice to get better, off the medication and feel that good taste when I woke up again.

Try it for yourself. Observe your own morning breath, tweak your eating, and hopefully you can have some sweet breath to enjoy with each start to your day. I'd love to hear how it is for you -- if your results are similar to mine.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just do it.

Here I've been talking about being in control of how we eat, but I wasn't really talking about the exercise component. Funny thing, my exercise had been off for more than a month, maybe two. I didn't exercise much the week before I was sick because I was on the verge of getting sick -- didn't quite have my full strength. Add on the 2 weeks sick in bed plus a few weeks of low strength and energy afterward. There's my month off excused. But after that, my resolve was gone. My love of fitness was still there and I'd plan each night what I'd do the next day. When morning came ever too quickly, however, I couldn't get myself out of bed.

This went on for a few weeks. I lost track. It wasn't the typical physical "I'm too tired" response. It was more mental. I think I had a fear that if I didn't get enough sleep, I'd get sick again. So I'd reset my alarm during the night, would tell myself that I could exercise after I took the kids to school or later in the day. And that just wouldn't happen. I'd have too much else going on. Mornings are so much easier for my workouts if I do it first thing. Just doing it is the key.

So this week, I switched to a thought that used to work for me if I'd get to bed too late. Instead of giving myself a free pass to miss my workout, I'd tell myself to get up anyway, exercise, and give myself the pass to take a nap after the day got going if need be. This may not work for everyone -- so many others have jobs to go to or little ones who need to be cared for at home. But for me being at home most every day, I can work in a nap if I need it. Most of the time I don't end up needing it, but it's a good out for me if I really do end up sleep deprived.

When I did get up, if I wasn't gung ho for exercising, I'd go through the motions anyway. I'd get my workout clothes on, I'd pop the fitness dvd into the dvd player, and eventually would get myself moving. I knew it would be a challenge for my body since it's been so long since I've done weights or much cardio. But I followed the old Nike adage "Just do it." and got myself going. It was amazing to see how weak I was with the simplest moves like stationary lunges or even front raises with just 3 pound weights. That's okay, though. In fact it was great. I worked my body and it responded well. I'm sore as can be, but will recover, work some more with my beloved Slim Series dvds and will be back to my former strength within a week or two. It has taken some time to get going again, but it feels great to be back.