Thursday, December 8, 2011

Raspberry Romaine Salad -- just in time for Christmas!

Ho ho ho!  Nope, we're not making cupcakes, but aren't these cute?  I don't even like cake, but I think the way pastry chefs make cupcakes these days is just adorable.  Salad may not draw people in quite as well, but THIS salad is one of the best green salads there is for a sweet-tooth like me AND it's festive for Christmas time. 

I originally got this recipe from a Pampered Chef party.  (In fact, I believe I was the host!)  It was called Chicken & Berry Salad and included 2 cups of chopped chicken (in which the Pampered Chef lady used for demonstrating the Chopper which I've loved over the years!  I've never used it for chicken, but I always use it for nuts and sometimes for veggies if they need to be small).  I searched for the recipe online and they have it posted on The Pampered Chef website as a Chicken & Strawberry Salad (which they must have changed over the years because I know the recipe I had from them said, "Chicken & Berry Salad" and used raspberries, with a sub suggestion of Craisins, which is good, but full of refined sugar.   There's probably a naturally sweetened dried cranberry that would work, though, if you want to give that a try).  I rarely eat meat, so I omit the chicken from my recipe, but you are most certainly welcome to add it in.  It's a satisfying meal either way.

I have a hard time loving salads, I think, mostly because I love sweet more than savory when it comes to fresh foods.  So this salad caught my attention with it's Citrus Salad Dressing.  I've used it for other salads too.  And just so you know, the dressing doesn't work if you try to sub fresh orange juice.  I tried it and it just didn't have enough flavor (and made the whole salad too watery and lacking -- sad mistake last Christmas eve).  I've thought of adding avocado (or putting it in place of the sugar-snap peas) but haven't tried that yet.  Perhaps I should only experiment when I'm not cooking for others :).

I usually double this recipe for crowds.  This recipe should fill a medium-sized salad bowl (just to know how to gauge the lettuce needs) and if you double the recipe, it will fill a large salad bowl.  Don't be afraid to add extra berries.  'Tis the season to add some red flare!

Raspberry Romaine Salad w/a Citrus Twist

Salad --

1 c. raspberries
1 head romaine lettuce torn into pieces (or 2 romaine hearts)
1 c. sugar snap peas (cut diagonally in half)
1/4 c. red onion
1/4 c. pecan pieces, toasted (lightly in the oven -- you can leave them raw)
(Options -- Sub strawberries or pomegranate seeds for raspberries or do a mix)

Citrus Vinaigrette --
1/4 c. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 T. oil (olive or canola)
1 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 t. dijon mustard

Combine salad ingredients and toss gently.  Shake or stir vinaigrette ingredients.  Just before serving, toss salad with dressing. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blackberry Pear Crisp -- Oh so yummy!

Yesterday we had some friends over for dinner and I was wishing for some dessert that I could eat while not sabotaging my weight loss efforts (6 pounds gone so far!)  I have plenty of raw food desserts up my sleeve, but I wanted something warm and without any kind of flour.

I noticed some blackberries in my fridge and thought they would taste wonderful in the oven.  So I went through the options.  Pie?  No.  Cobbler?  Another no.  Crisp?   Oooh, I love apple crisps or any of those fruit crisps with the crumbled oatmeal topping.  But those have butter, sugar, sometimes flour, and yes, oatmeal.  The only food I'd allow was the oatmeal.  So I started to think. . . If I started out with a raw food recipe, but cooked it, it would still be whole foods and would be better than the traditional crisp recipe.

I remembered that I can make a cookie dough like paste from equal parts of walnuts and dates.  So I blended up a cup of each.  Then I mixed it by hand with a cup of oatmeal and had my crisp topping!  How simple is that?

Next I got out the berries (I had 2 cups) and saw that it wasn't quite enough for a crisp on its own.  I wanted enough to be able to share with guests and not just have my own private dessert while they ate the brownies I'd already made.

I remembered I had some pears in the pantry that were perfectly ripe and thought, "Oooh, yes, I love baked pears!"  So I washed and cut 3 pears and mixed them with the berries.  I chopped the bigger berries in 1/2 just to get them more mixed in with the pears and added a tablespoon of pure maple syrup since store-bought blackberries aren't nearly as flavorful as handpicked. 

Then I put the berries in a round baking stone, topped it with the oatmeal mix and realized I should add a little holiday flavor.  So I sprinkled about 1/2 t. of pumpkin pie spice over the top of the mix.  That could have been blended in earlier, but it worked this way for me.

I baked it for about 1/2 hour at 350 degrees and covered it in foil after about 5 minutes because I could see that the topping was browning far too fast (perhaps due to the oil content in the nuts?)

It was much tastier than I had expected.  It's definitely a keeper!

 Blackberry Pear Crisp

2 c. fresh blackberries (frozen may work, but I haven't tried it yet)
3 large pears, cut into small squares
1 T. pure maple syrup (optional)

Mix fruit together in a bowl and set in a baking pan

1 c. walnuts
1 c. dates (not soaked)
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (you may want to increase it to 1 t. if you really love the flavor)

Blend nuts and dates in a food processor until completely smooth.  Mix in oatmeal and pumpkin pie spice by hand. 

Plop the oatmeal dough on top of the fruit to almost cover the fruit.  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Take foil off and let top brown for the last few minutes.

If you want it to serve more people, you can double the fruit and make it a deeper dished dessert.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Smash -- Jamba Juice style!

I've tweaked a few Jamba Juice recipes that I found on-line for Pumpkin Smash and came up with a few that my kids and I love!  I want to work with it a bit more to see if I can take out the soy creamy, but for now, this is where it stands.  We've made it two ways and both are yummy.  I tend to make it with the peaches to give me more nutrients and to save a few calories.  I'll give you both recipes since I add a bit of soy milk to the peach recipe to keep the creaminess in.  The full-fledged soy ice cream way is super creamy, though and quite wonderful.

Pumpkin Smash Smoothie

2 c. vanilla soy ice cream **
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. vanilla soy milk
2 T. agave or 3 T. real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 c. ice

Blend it all up in your blender on high until smooth.   Divide amongst 2 tall glasses and savor.  Ahhh!

Pumpkin Smash Smoothie w/peaches

1 c. vanilla soy ice cream **
1 c. frozen peaches
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1 1/4 c. vanilla soy milk
2 T. agave or 3 T. real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 c. ice

** I use Soy Creamy from Trader Joe's.  It's about 1/2 the cost of any other soy ice cream and is really tasty.  The only other brands of soy ice cream that I like are So Delicious and Purely Decadent.  Don't confuse So Delicious with SOY Delicious.  The latter is nasty tasting stuff!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pomegranate Salsa -- Raw Recipe!

I promised a birthday friend yesterday (Hi Lareesa!) that I'd post my newfound Pomegranate Salsa recipe for her birthday.  It's a bit belated, but I'm sure her pomegranates haven't gone bad yet.  I should just call it Birthday Pomegranate Salsa because my friend Thira made this pomegranate salsa for my birthday. (She brought it to a picnic we had with friends out on the grass by the lighthouse.  It was so wonderful!)  Thira had heard me talk about how pomegranates are my very favorite food and she told me I needed to try her recipe.  Well, I loved it!  I probably ate 1/2 of it that day! I finally bought all the stuff I needed and made it the other day and once again, tasty and heavenly!

I will admit to trying to just mix pomegranate seeds with the salsa I already had (which is my favorite fresh salsa from where I used to live -- Casa Lindra.  I wish they sold it everywhere, but you can only get it within about 100 miles of Humboldt County.  I have friends bring it to me when they visit).  But it wasn't spectacular with the pomegranate thrown in.  I needed to make Thira's recipe. 

When I ate it the first time, I had some tortilla chips, but these last few days, I've just been eating it with carrots.  The salsa is not blended up at all, just mixed, so it's harder to dip veggies in.  So I just broke my carrots into bitesize pieces and threw them in and ate it with a spoon.  Tasted great!

Try it yourself and let me know how you like it!

Pomegranate Salsa

Pomegranate seeds, extracted (either 2 small or 1 very large)
2 avocados sliced into small chunks
2-3 diced tomatoes (she said 2, I ended up using another one)
1/2 red onion
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 t. coriander
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Mix all together.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post-poning your cravings

This morning I made my healthified brownies for the early morning Seminary class that I teach.  I try to have some food for them each morning in case they have to leave their house without eating first.  I'm on the weight-loss quest right now, so the plan was for me not to eat any.  I was fine whipping them up and taking them out of the oven.  I knew I could resist them without a hitch.

A few hours later, I walked into the house after taking some of my kids to school and I saw the rest of the brownies on the counter.  All of the sudden my memory of not being tempted by them had vanished.  I wanted some brownies.  They were much more tempting and I started evaluating my need to stick with my plan.  I figured another day without reaching my goal wouldn't hurt and was about to eat one (or two or three -- it always spirals from there). 

Thankfully, I paused to ask myself if this is what I really wanted.  Was the brownie more important than my goal to fit back into most of my clothes?  No, it wasn't.  Would I ever be able to eat a brownie again?  Sure.  I could make more another day and could eat one then if I wanted.  But it wouldn't be today. 

I love the power of post-poning my cravings. I can save them for another day.  And the great thing is that cravings are temporary.  They may seem so strong at the moment, but if you let them pass, later on, it's quite possible that they won't be so powerful.  You just have to beat them in the heat of the moment.  It's so empowering to do that!  Give it a try and you'll get closer to your healthy eating goals, too.  TTFN!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oatmeal a' la Jamba Juice! -- Recipe

I absolutely love Jamba Juice.  I love their smoothies, I love their friendly employees, I love their baseball caps and t-shirts,  I love their fun signs and playful font, and I love how there's always a lot of sunshine coming in through their windows!  If I could get them to make me a smoothie every day, I would.  (Pumpkin Smash*, 5 Fruit Frenzy, and Peach Perfection are my favorites).  I've tried to get my kids to get a job there so they could bring me one home after work, but I've only found the Job Applications on the bedroom floor afterward.  Oh well!

My latest discovery is their steel cut oatmeal.  Granted, I've only tried one flavor, but once I find one I love, I have no need to try another.  I absolutely LOVE their Blueberry & Blackberry oatmeal.  I always have them OMIT the brown sugar crumble topping and just have the oatmeal with the berries.  I make oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon at home quite often, but it's not as dreamy as this oatmeal.  Theirs is so soft and super tasty.  I just love it.

The sad part is that:
  1. It's expensive unless they are offering their "Do you want some oatmeal with your drink for $1 off?" deal, but usually I don't want oatmeal when I already have a smoothie.  
  2. They never seem to have it when I'm there.  I usually go into Jamba Juice after school with my kids and they've started stopping (I know that sounds weird to write start and stop together, but it's how it happened in my head) selling the oatmeal after 3:00 at our closest store.  Once I got there at 2:30 on an early release day and they had run out.  !!!
I just have to insert my sad oatmeal airport story.  A few weeks ago, I flew to Arizona for a wedding.  When I was at the airport waiting to depart, I passed a Jamba Juice.  I had already eaten breakfast and was quite content.  I just didn't have room for Jamba Juice.  But I made a mental note that it would be wonderful to have some of the oatmeal when I got to Phoenix since I had a layover in L.A. and knew I'd be hungry again.  (Who in their right mind would want those honey peanuts they serve on the plane? -- Blech!)

When I got to the Phoenix airport, I walked out of my way hunting for a Jamba Juice, but never found one.  I was busy enough while I was visiting that I couldn't stop at one, but the craving was still planted in my heart and I did indeed think about it.  On the way home, I was determined to get some oatmeal back at my airport when I arrived.  It was only going to be noon, so they couldn't pull the, "We don't serve oatmeal after 3:00" trick on me.  I got off the plane and smiled as I saw the Jamba Juice sign so bright and cheery.  I walked up and ordered a Berry Oatmeal and they said they weren't selling it that day.   I was so sad!

So I determined that I need to figure out how to make oatmeal just as wonderful as theirs and not depend on them to have it anymore.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.  I still haven't found a good Pumpkin Smash recipe, but I'm going to work on this today.  My euphoria from figuring out the oatmeal is giving me the belief that it can be done!

First I just Googled it, but didn't find anything even worthy to try.   I knew the basic ingredients were the oatmeal, soymilk and berries and figured they had sweetened the berries a bit even w/o the brown sugar.  Here's what I came up with and oh was it heavenly!

Jamba Juice Berry Oatmeal

1 c. old fashioned oats
2 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. organic plain soy milk
1 c. berries (I used the frozen 3 berry blend from Costco)
1 T. pure maple syrup

I use a rice cooker for my oatmeal and cracked wheat. It keeps me from burning my grains and keeps it warm for me when I walk away and forget about it.

Put the oatmeal and water in the rice cooker.  Click the "Cook" setting.  When it's all cooked (it probably took 15-20 minutes) and has changed to the "Warm" setting, then add the soy milk and stir in.  Let it sit and warm for a few minutes.  I was amazed at how soft and fluffy this made the oatmeal.

Stir the berries in a pot with the maple syrup on top of the stove.  Bring to a boil and let boil out most of the liquid that develops when the frozen berries thaw.

Scoop the oatmeal into a bowl and add the berries on top.  Should be enough to serve 2.  Enjoy on these cold November mornings!

* Just wanted to clarify that when I get the Pumpkin Smash smoothie, I have them substitute frozen peaches for the frozen yogurt.  It's just wonderful and doesn't give me the refined sugar or the dairy.   There's only been one time that the worker totally messed it up.  I took a sip, it was soup-y and weird and went back to tell him it should be more frozen.  He tried adding ice and then it was just ice-y and weird.  So he offered to make a new one and I explained how the other people had done it before - just sub frozen peaches for the frozen yogurt and it turned out just fine.  They are great at guaranteeing satisfaction!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Plan around your Vegetables

I found a way to plan a menu!  It's not my dream of planning my whole day's menu and absolutely sticking to it (I'd be militant in my life with things like this if I could).  And it's not planning a weekly menu where I can look at the calendar and see what I'd be eating that whole week for dinner.  (Maybe that will come later).  But it IS figuring out dinner before 5:00 that night so I actually make dinner and eat with my family.  I even eat a decent breakfast and lunch on occasion, too.

What I've been doing this past week is each day, I think in the morning of what I'd like to eat that night that would give me at least 2 or 3 vegetables amidst.  Usually I work with what is in my pantry or fridge, but if I have to run down to the market for some mushrooms or spinach, I can do it and it works well.  Even with my other meals, I try to think vegetables first.  I don't always feel like eating vegetables for breakfast.  Most of the time I eat fruit.  Sometimes I choose oatmeal or cracked wheat instead.  But occasionally I'll want some eggs with salsa, spinach and mushrooms stirred in.  At lunch, I think soup, beans or sandwich with veggies.  I should be thinking salads or green smoothies, but I've been stubborn with that lately.  Maybe it's my move (I love blaming my inability to get back to my usual goals on moving, have you noticed? -- but it's almost been a year, I need to shape up and get my good groove back). 

So that's my healthy hint for the day.  Think about what vegetable dish sounds good, then build your meal around that.  Simple is fine, as long as you get your ever so nutrient dense veggies for the day.  TTFN!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Menu Planning

Is anyone good at menu planning?  I'm sure many are.  Maybe even most are.  I'm HORRIBLE at it.  I rebel at the thought of it.  I'm not sure why.  I'm not rebellious in other areas of my life, but I fight being locked into deciding in advance what I'll eat.

I Googled "menu planning" hoping for some counseling with those who fight it, but only found ideas on what to eat, recipes, why it's important, etc.  That's probably helpful.  Maybe I'm just going through a phase (a very LONG phase!) tells me:

  • A menu plan saves money.
  • A menu plan saves time.
  • A menu plan improves nutrition
I want it to tell me how to make a menu that I'll be excited about and how to stick with just eating that!

When I was in high school, I used to make a menu for my family, would do the grocery shopping and all the cooking.  I loved it!  Where did I go wrong?  *sigh!*  I did snack occasionally, but I mostly waited for my meals and enjoyed them.

Somewhere along the line I became a grazer and thought eating around the clock was the way to go.  Meals just got in the way of my eating if that makes any sense.   But I'm thinking that I need to get back to that structure.  I do like structure.  If only I could get myself back to it.

I'm going to work on planning and sticking to a menu this week, not just for dinner, but for all of my meals be it 3 meals or a few more.  I don't require variety.   I don't mind eating the same thing practically every day.  I just need to eat less of it and increase my vegetable intake (which takes planning on my part).  I'll let you know what I come up with.  I can do great things when I put my mind to it -- (Can't we all!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Healthy Desserts Galore!

Yes, you CAN have your chocolate chip cookie dough and eat it too!  Even mint chocolate chip ice cream!  If you haven't notice this deliciously adorable blog on my list of favorite blogs (way down low on the right), I need to draw your attention to it.  Even if you never make anything from the recipes (and I hope you do), the photos are stunningly tasty to the eyes and her personality is adorable and fun.  

The blog used to be called Chocolate Covered Katie (which shows her zaniness right there), but somewhere along the line, she changed it to Chocolate Covered Healthy, which gives you more of an idea of what you'll find.  Katie makes up recipes without dairy and healthier versions of pretty much everything.  She started out making her fudge babies and Lara Bar alternatives (since they are so expensive to buy) and is quite talented at figuring out just the right way to make everything taste wonderful.  As she says on her "About Me" page:

What will you find on this website?
Naughty treats that have been given a healthy spanking! My aim isn’t for people to say, “This is good… for a healthy dessert.” I want them to say, “This is good. Period.”

That's kind of how I never wanted people to say I looked good for just having a baby after I had each of my children.  I wanted to look good even for NOT just having had a baby.  :)  She does tell you which of her recipes are great for taking to parties (like this chocolate raspberry fudge cake!), where people won't even suspect they are healthy versions (which is so interesting to me.  I've always thought people would WANT the healthier version or to know that little tidbit, but it tends to scare them away!)  

Mmm!  Look at this one.  Homemade Fudgsicles!  I want to make those tomorrow.  I even have a coconut waiting to be cracked open!

So go enjoy Katie's website and sign up for her e-mails.  She'll send you new recipes practically every day. 

P.S. (Katie gives permission in her FAQ to post her photos in your blog, as long as you give her credit.  So Katie, the credit goes to you at !)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Slim Series Rotation Update

I've been doing the Slim Series for almost 2 weeks now and have gone down one size.  Feels great!  I lost 5 pounds the first week and so far have just maintained this week, but feel a teensy bit smaller.  I've been eating a high raw diet too as best I can. 

Usually when I do the Slim Series, I follow the guidelines in their Slim Training rotation which is to do all 5 workouts during the week with a yoga day in place of the Cool It Off (stretch routine) day.  This time I knew I'd have to start off slower.  So last week I did 3 SS workouts with yoga on the alternate days.  This week, I'm doing 4 SS workouts with yoga after 2 in a row.  I've been sore a bit all over, but I'm finding that my quads and hamstrings have been the tightest and most sore (sore-est?) which to me means they were quite weak.

I'm excited about my progress and plan to continue on for 4 more weeks.  Afterward, I'll probably get back into my Cathe workouts.  Hopefully by then, her new Low Impact Series will be out.  Hope, hope!

Friday, September 23, 2011

So many options and opportunities

It seems like when I break away from the way most people eat (or as many say, the Standard American Diet or SAD way of eating), I hear people comment on the foods that they would miss or what I "don't get to eat."  People on diets talk about feeling deprived or having cravings for what they love most and miss.  I've had similar thoughts.  I've been known (in the past, I might add) to walk around the grocery store thinking of all foods that I can't buy or eat anymore (I should be so grateful -- look at all the money I'm saving and all the health problems I'm avoiding).

It's easy to fall into that trap.  First of all, cravings are real and habitual thoughts are hard to erase from your mind (like ice cream is the best thing to eat when out with friends).  But it is possible.  And the more you fill your mind with helpful and healthful information, the more these old thoughts will subside.

An approach I've loved seeing develop in my mind is seeing how MANY options I have for eating healthy and tasty foods and how blessed I am to have the opportunity to live in a place and situation with such an abundance of foods.  Forget all the stuff I'm passing up!  I don't have enough time in the DAY or space in my stomach for all the yummy healthy foods I could be eating!

If my fridge is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and I have a variety of nuts and seeds in my cupboards, I can think of all kinds of combinations or simple delicious treats to eat throughout the day.  My mind fills with the choices at my finger tips and then I eat one or two until I'm full and save the rest until later.  I never get to them all in a day.  It's a great way to eat!

This only really works when I'm eating a high raw or all raw diet.  When I add in cooked grains/starches (or especially processed foods), I end up craving more than I should eat and get off track with identifying my body's needs.  It's not always easy to get my body away from them, but once I am, it's quite liberating. 

Life is good!  TTFN!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Slim Series -- Back at it!

After who knows how long of sticking to a rotation, I've decided to do the Slim Series again.  (If you're new to my blog, the Slim Series is the more advanced version of the Slim in 6 set that has been on infomercials for years).  I had another pelvic floor surgery 5 weeks ago today and was told to wait a month before I started exercising.  I did some gentle yoga after 2 weeks and have gotten my flexibility back since.  I still can't do high impact exercise or lift over 10 pounds for the next 2 months, so I decided to do Debbie's workouts again.  She has some jogging in place or half-jacks amidst the weight work, but I can easily modify that.  She primarily uses 3 or 5 pound weights, but if I work up to 8s, I can sit down to do the upper body work (which is actually how I'm starting out this week even for the lighter weights) so I don't put too much pressure on my pelvic floor.

When I first did the Slim Series, I took measurements every Monday morning and I started the week yesterday by doing just that.  I've gained some weight this summer, especially post-surgery, so I'm excited to see these workouts do their magic.  They really do reduce inches faster than any other workouts I've done. And they help me regain my strength and firm up a bit.

I'm also recommitting to raw eating.  I just got out Alissa Cohen's Living on Live Food book and saw some recipes in there that I hadn't noticed or tried before, such as a spinach dip made with avocados.  I need to go bring in some wheat to sprout so I can start making crackers again.  Oh how I love smelling those crackers in the dehydrator!  Much to do, much to do!  I'll post my progress for these next 6 weeks and will hopefully get my blogging habit back!  TTFN!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the fence about a dehydrator?

I was just placing sliced fruit on my dehydrator trays this morning and was thinking how happy I am that I invested in my dehydrator however many years ago it was that I started learning about eating raw.  (I remember it was the day after Halloween, I'm thinking it was about 5 years ago, in 2005).  The first question I had for my friend when she was exploring raw eating was "How do you eat bread?"  quickly followed by "What about crackers?"

She started telling me about dehydrating crackers and it sounded like a foreign language to me.  Eventually I researched it myself and bought my own Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator.  I posted about dehydrating fruit and fruit leather a while back and have posted my favorite raw cracker recipes.  My dehydrator cost about $400, but I've used it over and over (and it has survived 2 moves!) and it has helped me be able to eat raw & living foods in my normal life and while traveling.

Tomorrow I'm leaving to go on a 3 day pioneer handcart.  I went on a similar trek (4 days though) five years ago.  I brought my own raw foods then and am doing the same on this trip.  When I'm walking that much, I need to be in control of my health.  I can't be that far away from home and have problems with my allergies, asthma or incontinence.  So my dehydrator has been priceless for me over the years.  When I hear that fan going and smell the food on the racks, I just inhale and smile.  I don't dehydrate every week (although sometimes I get on a dehydrating kick and dehydrate 3 or 4 times that week).  I'd say it's more like monthly, but when I do, I love it and it brings back memories to when I first started eating raw and reminds me of how great I feel when I eat this way.

Back to the fruit leather, I decided to try making fruit leather today with kale in it -- similar to how I would make a green smoothie, only dry it out.  HOPEFULLY, it will taste good because I'm sure I could use the greens on the trek.  It's still dehydrating, so we shall see!

I need to run and make some fudge balls before it gets too late.  I'm hoping they will be alright without refrigeration.  Even if I just bring enough for the first day, they'll be nice to have along for the trail tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My hypothesis about helping incontinence with raw eating

A few years ago, I wrote about The Healing Power of Raw Food.  I've been testing this method of dealing with my pelvic floor issues for over 8 years now, but whenever I mention it to a doctor, I usually get a puzzled response of "I don't know why that would be the case" or "Well, if it works, keep doing it."   I understand if they don't see any way that could be possible, but I would think that being in their specialty, they'd want to know more and see if there is a connection to help others.

Just last week, I went to yet another doctor for my problem.  My leakage (what I tend to call my incontinence) comes and it goes and gets horrible when I'm eating flour or sugar (even the more natural sugars unless from a whole food) and after about 3 days of raw eating, it gets pretty minimal and I am so grateful.  But I decided that since I live close to one of the best medical centers in the country (Stanford), I should go see someone from their Urogynecology Dept. to see what my options are after two surgeries and if there is any hope for lasting improvement beyond what I manage with nutrition.

First of all, I have to mention that the staff and doctors there are FABULOUS!  If you live nearby or have the means to go there, do!  After an initial exam and visit (I could tell right away that they understood so much more about my condition than my previous 4 specialists), I came back for urodynamic testing (no fun) and a cystoscopy (kind of cool, but scary to see that camera probe, which  may look small in the picture, but it's over a foot long!)  They learned several things about my condition and why my other surgeries failed from the testing, but I believe I learned how excellent nutrition has been able to make a difference for me.

During my office visit,  I did mention that my incontinence is MUCH lighter when I'm eating just fresh, whole foods.  The doctor (whom I believe to be one of the best there is) looked at the fellow (who was actually a female physician :)) and with a "Hmm, not sure why that would be" look, said that there is a connection between weight gain making incontinence worse (which anyone who has read about incontinence knows).  I could have said, "No, this has nothing to do with weight gain.  It can change from one meal to the next because of what I've ate and increase the problem by about 10x."  But I didn't say anything.  I just wondered once again myself besides believing that excellent nutrition will help the body heal and work much better than poor nutrition will.

Back to my testing results, they found a few things.  Besides the bladder prolapse that has been remedied with 2 different types of slings in the 2 different surgeries, they found that I have urethral hypermobility, which means that it moves or rotates too far.  If it rotates 30% or more, they diagnose it as hypermobility and it will cause incontinence.  Mine rotates 70%.   I didn't really see how that might change with better or worse nutrition.

They also found that I have very low pressure in my urethral sphincter, to which the tech kept saying "This is so uncommon in a woman as young as you are."  I think had she tested me a week earlier when I came in for my initial visit, it wouldn't have been as low.  At that time, I was eating raw and my leakage was minimal.  But once I knew I was coming in for the testing, I realized that I needed to stray from my raw eating and eat some foods that usually cause me more problems.  Some of these were completely against what I usually eat, but are on my every few months or a few times a year list (like pizza). Most were just regular things from the health food store that I like to eat (like Nature's Path Flax Raisin Bran with Almond Milk or Trader Joe's sprouted wheat cinnamon raisin bagels), but they're not raw foods and my body isn't at its optimum when I eat them.   So yes, it was a little fun to eat some of those processed foods, but I didn't enjoy being more tired in the morning and the inconvenience and craziness it caused with my incontinence.

However, I did test poorly in the urodynamics, which made me happy because that's what I have to deal with at times.  So now I'm back to my raw eating, am excited to see some improvements in a few days and am scheduled for another surgery to finally fix my specific problems (and not just the one size fits most approach).

My hypothesis is that although prolapse or positioning of the bladder or the urethral hypermobility may not alter with a change in diet, what is helped when I eat raw foods is my muscle control or pressure in the sphincter.  Yes, my medical background is minimal, but my experience with the ups and downs of my problems over the past 8 years tells me that my stress incontinence as well as a constant drip even without any coughing, sneezing, running, etc. happens when I'm eating foods that have a lower nutrient density than raw whole foods.  (If you missed my post on Nutrient Density, here it is).  I believe that when I'm eating raw foods, my body is able to maintain that pressure needed better at the urethral opening to minimize and even diminish the leaking............

..........Perhaps this isn't everyone's favorite topic.  In fact, I've even had a friend tell me (not that I go telling all of my friends about this issue) "Eww!  I don't want to look at you and know that you are dealing with this!"  I thought later I should have told him that probably 1/2 the women he knows have incontinence.  It's pretty common.  It's just not talked about much.

So if you have incontinence when you cough, sneeze, jump on the trampoline or even just walk around, it may not be as severe as mine, but I think it's worth a shot for you to see if you can manage it by eating raw foods.  You don't have to eat only raw foods forever (although you may want to -- many do!)  For me, if I eat all raw foods for at least 3 days, I can get my body cleansed enough to be able to add some cooked whole foods in the 10-20% range.  But once I start feeling invincible like it won't matter if I just eat this or that, it's never true.  The incontinence gets way worse right away.  Live and learn.  That's what I've done.  Hope it can help you!  TTFN!

Edited to add -- I just realized if I were truly testing my hypothesis, I would eat raw for a week, go back to Stanford and get another urodynamics test to see if my sphincter muscle control or low pressure as they called it improved greatly -- if that was the reason for less leakage.  But those tests cost over $2,000 and I doubt my insurance would cover it again PLUS you couldn't pay me $2,000 to do the testing again.  Not a pleasant experience!  It would be interesting to see though.  TTFN!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Very little hunger

Today as I was loading my groceries into the back of the car from Trader Joe's, I perused the tops of the bags to see what I'd like to snack on as I drove out of the parking lot (yes, big time grazers find opportunities to eat all day long).  A funny thing occurred.  I felt no hunger.  I felt no drive to eat any of the fine food placed before me.  I even tried to talk myself into an organic pink lady apple since I haven't had one of those in probably a month.  But I wasn't hungry.  Did you hear that?  I wasn't hungry!

What might the culprit be?  Why wasn't I hungry?  I thought about it for a minute and it's my raw eating.  I'm back to eating raw and I really don't need to eat as often as I usually do.  I'm pretty content most of the time.  I really only eat when it's "meal time" or when I'm going away from the house and want to make sure I don't get hungry later.  How wonderful is that?

Raw eating has so many benefits.  Low hunger is just one of them.  TTFN!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Keeping your eye on the target.

Oh my goodness!  It's been almost 2 months since I've written.  I won't even bore you with the excuses, but I'm back and am hoping I can get back at this like I loved doing before.

I've decided that with my eating (isn't it always about my eating?), I can't take my eye off the target for even a second.  No, not even a second.  Yogis call it being present.  I guess the opposite would be what children on bicycles call coasting.  I used to be able to stop and coast a bit with my eating, but I need to face the facts that it's been over ten years since that's been the case.  Whenever I forget about my goals and motivation for healthy eating, I slide into mindless eating and snacking and gain weight.  This just happened on our trip to San Diego.  I gained 4 pounds that didn't just slip back off as soon as it came.  It's here to stay unless I do something about it.  This wouldn't be that big of a deal if I weren't 10 pounds up from last December (yes, pre-Christmas -- Christmas always trips me up).

Thus I will keep my brain mindful of the intentions of my heart and body, which are to shed myself of not only unwanted pounds, but unwanted health issues.  The health issues melt away even faster than the pounds do when I'm eating yummy whole foods.  I actually ate pretty well on our San Diego trip -- well, maybe that's not true.  I'm remembering quite a bit of snacking in the car both ways.  I just can't pretend for just a day or two that what I eat won't matter to my body.  It always does. 

I'm not complaining.  I'm grateful to at least come to these points of awareness often enough to make a positive difference in my life.  And I'm glad to have so much good information at my fingertips and fresh foods nearby for me to eat.  I've started another Cathe fitness rotation too.  I'm doing her Cross Train Xpress series this week to get me going.  I'll review them later this week so you can see what they're all about. 

Until then, repeat after me, "If you keep your eye on the target, you have a MUCH better chance of hitting it."    TTFN!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cathe's Rhythmic Step

Cathe Friedrich was once dubbed "the queen of step" because her step aerobics workouts are so much fun!  I discovered her somewhere around the year 2000.  I had seen her workouts in the Collage Video catalog for years, but never went near them because they were rated Advanced Level with the choreography being Complex.  I had a friend in Seattle who kept telling me how much she loved Cathe's workouts.  So I decided to take the plunge and order Cathe's Cross Train Xpress (CTX) set (at the time, a box set of 6 videos -- now in a dual dvd set).    I thought that since these had just 1/2 hour cardio workouts (plus weight work for a different body part each day -- I'll write more about CTX another day), I could handle the intensity and could figure out the choreography.  I was wrong.  The intensity was okay, but I was completely lost with her steps.

My friend told me she'd loan me a few of Cathe's earlier step videos, which were a little simpler and would teach me the basics of her style.  She sent me a HUGE box with a several Cathe videos, many other fitness videos plus her favorite lotions (which I still love!)  The older step videos were a little outdated (80's style), but they really did the trick.  I tried Step Jam, then Step Heat and before I knew it, I was flying over the step like Cathe and her crew!

I quickly learned the cardio in all the CTX workouts and have been loving Cathe's step workouts ever since.

One of my very favorites is Rhythmic Step, which came out in 2001.  It was the first of her dancier step routines and is a ton of fun.  One thing you learn quickly about Cathe in her cardio is her warm-ups are not plain and simple.  They are step moves that you'll later combine and build with later in the workout.  After the warm-up, there are 3 combinations set to great music with a zigzag challenge at the end.  What's a zigzag challenge, you ask?  Cathe takes the 3 routines that you've learned and weaves them together so you have one BIG routine at the end (which you do on each side twice).  I like that about Cathe.  She doesn't just say, "Let's do this one more time" and leave you wishing you could do more since you've FINALLY mastered it.  In many other step workouts, I am always sad to leave a combo that I've spent time learning and just dump it off on the side of the road.  I was happy to make use of it at the end.

Now that Rhythmic Step is on dvd, you can only buy it combined with 2 other workouts (which I don't do often because they have a lot of high impact), so it's a little more expensive than it was on video, but it's worth every penny.  I used to do a rotation where my cardio was Rhythmic Step on Monday.  Yesterday I decided to start my week the same way and it made me smile throughout!  Take a look:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pausing to evaluate

For those of you who have joined the Healthy Habits challenge, we're 3 weeks into it and may want to pause and see how you are doing with accomplishing your goals.  I know when I joined the last challenge, I had some goals for myself amidst the challenge goals.  I wanted better control of my eating.  I wanted to be more consistent with my workouts.  I wanted to make sure I didn't let go of either of those goals as we packed up our home to move.  And I wanted to lose the rest of the weight I'd gained from the move the year before. 

I felt great about how much control I had over my eating howEVER I knew in my heart that if I just went a few more steps beyond what the challenge specified (notice that there aren't any limits in portion control, how many grains/starchy vegetables we eat, how intense our workouts are, etc.) that it still is possible to get a perfect score and not lose weight.  Maybe you don't need to lose weight (or don't care if you do), but if you're like most of us, you do.  

In the last challenge, many people reported losing 10 or even 15 pounds after the first 4 weeks.  I hadn't lost an once.  I kept going on, feeling like yes, I was healthier, but wishing I had some outer results as well as inner.  So after 5 weeks, I decided to really crack down on my eating and do what I knew would help me lose weight and feel great (which for me is a very high raw diet).  I felt fantastic and lost 8 pounds and several inches in those last 3 weeks.  I felt like I'd truly reached my goals by the end.  I even stopped eating at 8:00 when we were driving in late to our new house.  My goals were in tact and I fit into my old clothes again.

With this challenge, I decided to start out the same way.  Get the control down with the goals as is and then stop to evaluate after a few weeks to see what I needed to do to truly reach my goals.  I'd hoped to pause after 2 weeks, but I did have some dark chocolate on Easter Sunday for my free day and it messed me up a bit.  I craved sugar most of last week and got off track mentally.  I finally have my mind back in place with my body and am ready to raise the bar for myself for these last 5 weeks.

Maybe you're not ready quite yet, or maybe you've struggled more than you've thought you would and don't even want to continue.  Don't give up!  It's all part of the process.  We have our ups and downs and shouldn't throw away what we once thought to be worthwhile goals.  Pause for a moment to contemplate what you really want and then continue onward.

Let me know how you're doing!  And remember, don't give up!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Journaling is one of the steps on our Healthy Habits Challenge.  Why is journaling beneficial to your overall health?  

Personal Development consultant, Steve Pavlina, wrote:
Journaling is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to accelerate your personal development.  By getting your thoughts out of your head and putting them down in writing, you gain insights you’d otherwise never see.
I wholeheartedly agree with Pavlina's statement.  I started writing in a journal when I was in 8th grade.  I literally filled up volumes through high school and college.  I slowed down quite a bit in my adulthood, but have found journaling to be a great source for not only recording what happens in my life, but for evaluating how my life is going and where I want to go.  
I think my biggest success story with journaling came when I was 29 years old, had just had my 4th baby and was trying to get myself to exercise.  I had exercised in various forms through my adult years -- running, swimming, step classes, bike rides with kids, but I never really enjoyed it.   I knew I needed to change, but I wasn't sure how to.  I'd heard that with exercise you have to make yourself do it until you love it and eventually you will indeed love it.  

So I came up with a plan.  I would exercise each morning and if I came up with an excuse, I had to write that excuse in my journal so I could evaluate the validity.  Every single time, I'd write why I couldn't exercise, would look at it and would just think, "That's not a good excuse!"  and would get myself to go exercise after all.  It took a few weeks of pushing myself until I really started to look forward to my workouts.  My cardio capacity increased to where it wasn't a huff and puff struggle to exercise.  I learned to love strength training.  This opened the doors for me to explore various facets of fitness that I never would have tried otherwise.  

If any of you are having a hard time fitting in the journaling, I just wanted to give you a few ideas that may help. 
  • Keep a notebook by your bed that you can write in each night before you go to sleep.  Take it with you when you travel so you can continue the habit. 
  • Take a smaller notebook with you to work or wherever to write in spare moments (standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to pick kids up from school,  stuck in traffic, etc.)
  • If you blog, you don't have to write a full post like your normal blog posts each day for the world to see every single day.  You can add on another blog address that isn't accessed by the public and just click on that each day when you're online to either track your progress with this challenge or just to write whatever thoughts are on your mind.
  • If you don't blog, but get on the computer each day, just start a journal on a Word Document (or whichever word processing software your computer has) and add to it each day.   You can save your documents daily, weekly, or monthly and keep them in a special file folder for your journal entries. 
Hope you are able to enjoy the benefits of writing down your thoughts.  TTFN!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The idea of a Free Day

I have to tell you that I used to think the idea of a Free Day in an eating plan was not a good one.  First of all, if you're trying to improve your healthy, why take one day a week to bail on those goals that could help your body heal and improve?  Why give yourself the idea that you're in jail with your eating plan and can't wait to break out?  Secondly, if you're like me and have dieted for too many years with the black/white mentality, the free day can be dangerous because you are trying to (okay, just insert "I am trying to") eat all the sugar I can on that free day because I won't be able to have it tomorrow!  And third, if you take a free day and veer too far off course, you may never come back.  That's happened to me more times than I care to remember.

Let's look at these one at a time:

  • If you truly are seeking better health, then no, you don't want to do something unhealthy to your body once a week.  However, there may be benefits to letting loose of a few goals every once in awhile.  With exercise, it's actually better for your body to have one rest day a week.  Some may need more if they are have been training vigorously or are just starting out.  You don't want to overtrain.  You'll end up with a weaker immune system, you might get sick, and then you won't be able to exercise at all.  Your body needs the rest to rebuild and recover.  
  • With the eating, you don't have to completely let loose of your goals.  You're better off if you don't, actually. Because I've always had a sugar addiction, I used to work on not eating sugar at all when I was in college.  I would go without it for a whole month and would give myself one day at the end when I could eat sugar.  If someone would bake cookies, I'd put a few in the freezer for that day.  If a friend would bring me frozen yogurt, I'd put it in the freezer for that day.  By that day, you can guess it. I had a stockpile of sugary goods.  And I'd eat them all.  I'd end up with horrible indigestion and realized this wasn't the best way to go about it.  Your body will let you know when you've done something wrong once you've gotten away from the unhealthy food.  
  • You can, however, use the free day to take the pressure off for occasions like holidays or eating out when you might not be able to find as many whole grains, enough vegetables, or whatever is a part of your eating plan.  I know sometimes I've panicked if I'm eating really well and see a BBQ or luncheon coming up later that week.  I don't think I can do it.  I don't even want to go.  I wonder if I should just give up on my goals if they don't fit in with life.  But with a free day, if you attend a luncheon and there are foods there that aren't on your regular plan, you can have that sandwich or hors d'oeuvres and not fret about it.  If you think you just have to have a slice of the wedding cake, take 1/2 a slice and savor it.  I personally do better without the sugar.  But if you can handle a little and that will keep you going the next week, do that for now.  Maybe in a few weeks, you'll realize that you are just fine without the cake and will opt for a more nutrient dense food that will be equally as satisfying. 
  • We have many non-food/non-exercise goals in the Healthy Habits challenge that you may like to ease up on instead for just that day just to get a mental relief from keeping track of everything.  I do love journal writing, but that is one goal that I often skip on my free day.  Same with eating after 8:00.  I don't eat anything heavy, but I may go eat some fruit or something just because I can (yes, there's a little rebel in us all).  
  • What about the black/white mentality?  Do you have that "I need to eat it now because I won't get to later" mind-set?  If you do, then try relaxing a bit in that thought and tell yourself that you really can have it later.  There are free days every week.  You can have it the next week if you want to.  And you can have it on a regular day if you can live with having less points.  But the true mindset reversal will help if you start thinking during the week as you may crave this or that and think that you're deprived somehow (which is absurd that any of us in our affluent society can think we're deprived when we never go hungry and have an ample supply of clean water to drink), that there will always be another day that you can have it.  It's just not in your plans for now.  
  • Better yet, start celebrating the foods that are nutritious for your body, learn to want THEM and to appreciate their flavors, textures, and smells.  I've experienced as much joy and satiation with whole foods as I have with all the foods in our modern diet that aren't good for us.  But my brain has been patterned to think that the unhealthy foods are the most desirable.  Whether it's the addictive nature of the foods or just what we've told ourselves in our society, I'm not sure.  You can, however, get as much pleasure from healthy foods and that is the aim if we want to reach our optimum health.
  • When I did the last challenge, I did use my first few free days to eat sugar as I wished.  I found it extremely difficult (well, maybe not extremely, but difficult enough) to be happy with healthy eating again the next few days.  Once I get sugar in my system, that's all I can think about.  I guess that's the definition of a craving.  I realized it was not worth it to make 1/2 of my week difficult for that one free day. So I treated my free days differently after that.  I used them as a time to pause and reflect and possibly eat a few things I wouldn't eat during the week, but I didn't use it to dive into my addictions and make the rest of the week a trial.
Hope this helps you as you continue with your challenge.  Even if you're not joining the challenge (it's not too late if you just want to jump in and follow along -- let me know if you do), I hope you can see that resting or regrouping once a week can be healthy too.   If anything, the idea of a free day helps me during the week to know that I'm not locked in forever with anything.  I can choose as I wish that one day and more often than not, I continue to make healthy choices, which is wonderful. TTFN!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drinking plenty of Water

One of the goals on our Healthy Habits Challenge is to drink plenty of water. "They say" to drink 8 glasses of water a day (64 oz, 1/2 gallon). On Plan A, that's the minimum goal. For Plan B, it's a little less -- 48 oz. My mom isn't as tall as I am and she said it was a real struggle for her to drink 64 oz. a day. It didn't make her feel good. She feels better with 48 oz. So we made that the goal for Plan B. But if you want more, by all means, drink more and enough to hydrate your body.

For me, if I'm not exercising, I probably drink somewhere in the 48-64 ounce range by the end of the day. When I exercise the morning, I've already downed one Nalgene water bottle (32 oz.) by the end of my workout. I fill it up right after my workout and usually have 1/2 of that gone within a few hours.  Most of the time, I've already met my 64 oz. requirement by noon.  If I don't exercise in the morning, I don't drink as much early in the day, but I still start my day with at least 16 oz. of water.  It just helps get me going.

If you have a big water bottle, I suggest you fill it early in the day and start drinking away.  Trying to drink from glasses all day long is harder to do.  Before I had water bottles (my husband says I buy too many of them -- I love the stainless steel water bottles too), I filled up a pint canning jar with water before my workouts.  Often I had 2 filled up so I wouldn't have to stop my workout to refill.

If you'd like to read another post I wrote a few years ago, click here.

Let me know how you're doing with your Healthy Habits Challenge!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Healthy Habits Challenge

I did so well on the 8 weeks to a Better You Challenge that I did last fall and my mom did so well on that one plus the challenge they did in January, that she's been asking me to start one of my own ever since.  So here I am.  Honestly, I wouldn't be doing it without her prodding because I'm still in the mode of wanting to do my own thing.  However without much soul searching, I can tell you that I'm not doing that great on my own myself, so I'm welcoming a challenge myself whether I'm admitting it to myself yet or not.

Anyone want to join me for the Healthy Habits Challenge?  I just added some tabs up above with the details and a Paypal Donation link in the right column to make us feel accountable in some small way.  Tomorrow I'll make up a paper for you to print out so you can keep track of your daily points.

There will be 2 options for accomplishing your 10 goals each day.  Click on the tabs up above to see Plan A and Plan B.  Choose the one that most fits your goals.  

Spread the word and get your friends or relatives to join the challenge, too.  E-mail me a photo and I'll post the pictures of everyone in the challenge on another tab.  It should be a lot of fun.   Let me know if you think you might be joining.  TTFN!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If you want to wake up refreshed!

I know I've said it before, but the link from food to famished is so clear in my body!  I first discovered that if I stop eating sugar (which I originally did just to get away from the obvious addiction and to lose some weight), I didn't wake up in the morning wishing I didn't have to.  In fact, I could get up for my workouts happy to do it.

Once I started eating a raw food diet though, the sleep connections were even more dramatic.  Not only did I get out of bed easily, but I found I required about 2 less hours of sleep each night AND woke up just minutes before my alarm was set (which is usually somewhere in the 5:00 zone).  I call it bouncing out of bed because I feel THAT alive!!

Just got myself eating all raw again and this was my first "welcome back," which is always fun.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

More from Mr. Mnmlst

Every once in awhile I go read a bit from the mnmlst blog.  A few posts ago, he wrote the following:

"Fear stops us from being minimalists.
Why do we keep things even if we don’t need or use them? Because we’re afraid we might. Afraid of what could happen if we get rid of those things."

This is so true in my life.  I find myself haunted by "what if?" thoughts as I weed through our stuff.  I remember the conversations with my daughters about how upsetting it was to them when I threw out this or that.  I think of my boys saying, "What?  You threw that out?" or them asking ,many times, "Do you know where ____ is?" after I've already determined we don't need it and have given it to the thrift store.

So I often hold off on getting rid of things we don't need just to avoid that conflict or just in case we do need it someday.  Many times these fears are completely rooted within though -- it's MY fear of missing it or MY fear of needing it later.

I really do weed through our stuff often and purge weekly, but it's never enough.  We still have too much.

As I re-read the mnmilst words, I tried to apply them to my thoughts -- those thoughts that don't serve me well.  I don't need them and even though I do routinely think them, so I can't say I don't use them, I don't find them useful.  These are the thoughts that interfere with my goals.  They are the thoughts that sabotage my dreams and ideas for what I'd love to do or become, but I'm not sure how to get rid of the thoughts or patterns in my life that get in the way.   I guess recognition is a start.  I'll see if I can get beyond that starting block and just start running with it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Food allergies, Food intolerances, or just plain bad for you food.

Many people have food allergies.  My son used to break out in eczema from head to toe if he had dairy or white flour (yes, white flour -- they tested him allergic to wheat, but he never actually had problems with whole wheat foods).   A missionary we know is so allergic to beans that he has to carry around medication to give himself a shot if he accidentally ingests some beans so his throat won't swell shut.  I've heard of children with such extreme peanut allergies who have died from unknowingly eating something with peanut butter in it.

I'm not sure if I have any food allergies.  I know that during peak hayfever months (pretty much March through November with August off), if I eat or drink any dairy products, I'll have allergy symptoms within minutes.  I don't really consider that a food allergy because those foods don't cause the same health problems when it's not allergy season.  I have found, however, that when I eat dairy products, I get sick easier -- catch the common cold or flu that's going around.  I definitely notice a difference with mucus (I know -- no one likes to read that word) when I eat dairy and not without.

What I've come to understand for my body is that certain foods weaken my immune system.  Dairy products is one of them.  Processed foods, even sugar and flour, also weaken my immune system.   It's not that my body is actually allergic to them.  It's just that my body has to work harder to figure out how to assimilate them into (or eliminate them from) my body and this energy makes my body not as able to fight germs.  I also think that many foods we eat in the Standard American Diet (SAD) are inflammatory, which weakens our bodies and brings a host of problems (asthma, allergies, arthritis, just to name a few).

So I find it interesting when I talk to my friends and explain how when I just eat whole foods and stay away from processed foods and animal products that this or that health problem improves immensely that they often respond with things like "I don't have any food allergies" or "If I had problems like that, I'd change my eating too, but I don't, so . . . " -- but they don't seem to realize that the health problems they have could be alleviated by healthy eating too. 

I actually heard a doctor's assistant at the dermatologist's office tell my child that skin problems are not related to how we eat, (but to make our moms happy, we should just eat healthier anyway -- but it doesn't affect your skin ).  I wanted to challenge him with a big, "Hmmph!  Have you had  any experience with this?  Where did you get that opinion?  That doesn't make any sense to me.  Wouldn't a car drive better with clean fuel that was actually made for the car to drive at it's optimum level?"  Instead I just shook my head inside and told my son afterward that I didn't agree with that at all.

Enough rambling.  Just wanted to set the record straight since I keep it in other times that you don't have to have something as bad as a food allergy to keep yourself away from certain foods that are so prevalent in the SAD.  Food allergies are real and valid to be sure.  But so is the fact that many things we eat just make it hard for our bodies to be healthy and strong. 

Off to do some yoga.  TTFN!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yogi Tea

If you haven't discovered Yogi Tea yet, I'll share a few of my favorites.  I used to think herb teas were all awful.  I'd try one every year or so, but would never make it past the first few sips.  I don't drink caffeinated drinks, so I've only used black tea to dye my linens and I haven't jumped on the green tea bandwagon.  But I do understand the healthfulness and healing powers of many herbs the earth has to offer, so I've continued to test and taste herb teas. 

I can't remember how I became acquainted with Yogi Tea.  Perhaps it was the yogi in me that drew me to this brand.  I think I was reading up on how to get rid of eczema a few years ago and read about detoxing.  I thought I'd try a detox tea and Yogi has Peach Detox.  What's not to like about Peach?

Peach Detox quickly became my favorite and I've since grown to love Echinacea, Cold Season, Breathe Easy,  and Berry Detox.  I bought Women's Energy and while it's not my favorite alone, I usually mix 2 bags anyway and just mix it in with a Berry or Peach if I'm feeling the need.  I just drank a mix of Echinacea and Breathe Easy and to me, it's as tasty as some yummy muffin in the morning.  Just wonderful. 

I just read that they have a Skin Detox too.  I'm not sure if I'd love it since it has a floral smell/taste, but I'll give it a try.   Oooh, they have a Mayan Cocoa Spice too.  I haven't seen that one yet.  I'll have to look for it.  Most health food stores sell a wide variety of flavors.  Grocery stores carry maybe 5 or 6 and Trader Joe's just carries a few.  

It's just nice to feel that warm mug with my cold hands on a cold wet day like today.  Off to boil some more water so I can use these bags at least one more time.  TTFN!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's your price?

I was just watching Joe vs. the Volcano the other day (and wonder if anyone else on the planet enjoys watching that movie as much as I do) and there's this part maybe 2/3 the way through where Patricia (Meg Ryan's 3rd character) apologizes to Joe for being rude to him on the dock.  It got me thinking.  Patricia tells Joe that she was snobby when she met him because she was angry at herself for getting back under her father's control.  Her dad had a lot of money and Patricia, unlike her shallow, materialistic, parasitic sister had decided to not depend on her father anymore financially or otherwise.  She had broken away from that trap in her life.  But her father knew that she loved to sail.  He offered her one of his yachts in exchange for her taking Joe on the boat over to the island so he could jump into the volcano.  Patricia didn't want to do it, but she knew that her father had discovered her weakness.  She had set a goal to break away from depending on her dad, but when he offered her the yacht, she sold out. She was angry at herself for having a price, for selling out. 

I thought about my efforts to eat healthy and to exercise.  It's much harder after moving than it is when I'm settled and in the swing of things.  So I'm continually regrouping and trying to get myself to do what I know works best for my body and all it's crazy conditions.  I stay focused in the morning, even through lunch, but at some point in the afternoon (or even after a full day or two of sticking to my goals and feeling great), I sell out.  I sell my goal for the price of __________ (fill in the blank depending on the circumstance).  For the first few years of me striving to eat healthy, that price was pizza.  I've finally moved past that for the most part.  It can still be a weak spot, but not during my very long allergy season.  Even when it's not allergy season though, I get congested and have other problems from the white flour.   The price could easily be chocolate if I'm at the store and haven't nourished by body well enough up to that point in the day.  The price could be many things.  I won't tempt you with all my weak spots, but I am happy to identify them as a price that is not worth it in the end.  It never is.  I end the day with the same problems I had the day before (or some new ones -- the other day I ate a bunch of soy ice cream and ended up with zits, canker sores and a headache) and know if I just stick with my plan, I'm much better off.  

I could probably write 50 posts on things I learn from Joe vs. the Volcano.  Go watch it again if it's been awhile.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Being in tune with my body's needs

One thing I love about eating the most healthy foods (besides not being sluggish in the morning nor requiring much sleep) is I feel so much more in tune with my body's needs.  I have a better understanding of what my body is signaling throughout the day.  I feel thirsty far more often and absolutely love drinking water.  It's as rewarding if not more than any food I could possibly eat.  I don't crave sugar or other processed foods but savor the taste of the pure real foods that I eat.  I even want to spend more time outside enjoying nature than I do inside the house, as usual. 

On the flip side, if I'm eating foods that aren't good for my body, I don't think about drinking water much, wish I could keep sleeping and sleeping when it's time to get up, crave foods that I shouldn't be eating in the first place, and even when I do eat them, don't feel satisfied -- I just want more, more, more!

I'm thinking I like being in tune with my body better than being oblivious.  It's like the oblivion feeds shots in the dark to what might make my body feel better, but it just opens up the way for more cravings and confusion to my body's signals.

What's the best way to get in tune with your body's needs?  Try fasting.  Even just fasting for a few meals can help cleanse your body and help you see that you want and need water more than you desire or need any foods.  Then once you do eat again, start with raw fruits that are easy to digest and you'll notice and enjoy the flavors more than usual.  Take time to prepare foods from there on that are nutritionally dense.  Enjoy those foods and start to feel the benefits of eating healthy foods.  I hear so often a negative reaction to eating healthy -- like people are afraid that they will feel deprived or won't enjoy what they eat.  Nonsense!  We're just so patterned to eat unreal foods that our bodies don't know what's good for it or what can be pleasurable.

You'll also have more energy to move and increase your pace in life whether it be in your exercise regime or your need for rest and sleep.  Being in tune with your body's needs is the way we're designed to be -- to increase our life span and to help us be the most productive we can be in life.  Cheers!

photo by iglooo101

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pilates likes and dislikes

I absolutely love Pilates, but it's not because it's easy.  It's tough and soothing somehow at the same time.  One might think if they do the same moves each time they do Pilates, it would get boring, but somehow it never is.  Most Pilates dvds I've done (and I've probably done 40 or so) have at least a dozen exercises in common with some variety amidst them.

There are some moves that I always look forward to doing and others that I just dread.

Top 3 Likes:

Single Leg Circles:  This is such a simple basic move, but it always sends soothing messages (to steal a phrase from yoga instructor Baron Baptiste) through my mind when I do them.  It works my legs, but feels relaxing too.

The Mermaid:  I add this move to my yoga asanas all the time because it is a better stretch for my side than any other I've found.  When I'm doing a Pilates dvd, I often do twice as many on one side because I don't want to switch so early when the instructor does, then I'll skip back a move on the dvd and do it twice on the other side.  Just heavenly.

The Seal:  This is usually done at the end of a Pilates routine much like Rolling like a Ball is done towards the start.  The main difference is that you have your knees out to the side instead of together and you clap, clap, clap your feet together (like a seal) as you sit up and again as you roll back and your feet are over your head.  The feet clapping together is like a bonus massage (bonus because you're already getting a massage on your back).

I love many of the side leg series exercises too.  I'll focus on those another day.

Top 3 Dislikes:

Swimming:  I always feel awkward swimming on the floor.  I stop part way wondering if my legs are truly alternating with my arms and they always are.  I just don't feel that coordinated and it doesn't feel great to do them.  But I read an article in Pilates Style magazine about Romana, who is now the grand dame of Pilates and she said that she didn't enjoy this move either, but Joseph Pilates told her she must do it and she saw great benefits.  Didn't make me feel like a wimp if even Romana didn't like it.

Teasers:  The more I do these, the better I get, but they are always TOUGH!  My legs quiver, my core feels it, I struggle at the end of each move to stay balanced, and then know that I must go back down onto the floor and come up again.  As hard as it is to do and as much as I dread it when the instructor says it's time to do the teaser, I always feel that this exercise alone does more for my body than any other Pilates move, so I press on.  And I love seeing the progress my body does after even doing them 3x a week.

Neck Pull:  I've read that this is a basic move for some.  Not for me!  I have a long torso and maybe my center is lower than most so I have a bigger challenge getting my upper half up and over the center line.  I'm not sure.  All I know is this is one of the most challenging Pilates exercises for me.  When I've been doing Pilates for a few months, then I don't hate this one as much because I have built up the strength to do it.  But generally, my core isn't strong enough and I have to modify by putting my hands in front of my face with my elbows bent instead of behind my head for coming up and over, then I put my hands back behind my head to roll back down.  The other alternative (which works better, but hurts my feet a bit) is to put weights over each foot to give me that leverage so I can come up.  It just takes tons of core strength.  But I can work up to being able to do it again since I'm doing much more Pilates now.  Maybe I'll post a video when I can!