Archive for the 'health and fitness' Category

21 day detox – two week check in

I’m two weeks in to the 21 Day Sugar Detox, and I thought a check in was in order (see my comments from week 1 here).

Here’s the deal – I’m definitely feeling the detox working. My sugar cravings seriously subdued (although I do still crave healthy sugars occasionally, like berries, apples and bananas). I like that. I like feeling in control of my food choices, instead of the other way around. I’ve had no problem staying away from grains, sugars, alcohol and other carby things. The only thing I’ve really missed is fruit. It is enlightening to realize just how many foods contain sugar. Seemingly innocent snacks like wasabi almonds… sugar. Cesar salad dressing? More sugar. Ugh. This has all made me better about checking labels and asking questions before I purchase or eat something.

Here’s the disappointing thing about the sugar detox… my weight. has. not. budged. Those stubborn few pounds that crept me just above my comfort zone are clinging on with all their might. Two weeks of no indulgences, no cheating, no treats… and no results. How frustrating. I’ve had this outcome before, when I’ve found that low carb diets just don’t work for me. And that’s essentially what this detox boils down to – a very low carb diet. I find I actually do better with weight loss when I am eating a moderate amount of healthy carbs.

I don’t blame the detox program for the lack of movement on the scale. To be fair, I’m not following the program to the letter. I haven’t been exercising as much as I should and I haven’t gotten ample amounts of sleep. One of the directives of the program is to get plenty of sleep – drawing the curtains in your bedroom, going to bed when it’s dark, and waking up when your body is rested. No alarm clocks, no morning sunshine… just waking when your sleep tank is full. A great suggestion… just not so easy to execute. Especially with a toddler at home who commands the show.

Despite the lack of results, I’m planning to stick with this for the final week and see the full 21 days through. I can always get my weight back on track after this is done; right now I’m more interested to see how my body responds to a full three weeks without any kind of sweeteners – something I haven’t done… well… ever. Even when I was low carbing it before, I used artificial sweeteners. The thought of artificial sweeteners now makes my stomach turn a bit. Aside from the fact that they make me feel terrible (headaches & nausea), knowing how terrible they are for me turns me off completely.

The reality is, I’m not just doing this to lose some weight – I really believe that reducing my overall sugar intake is beneficial for my health. It’s an experiment… a “body hack” of sorts. Like I said, not craving sugary foods is awesome. I’m also not snacking as much as I used to. I’m just not as hungry as before. Which is one reason why it’s so strange that I haven’t seen any shift in my weight. I haven’t gone so far as to track calories, but my guess would be that I’m eating fewer calories and more fiber (flaxseed crackers, anyone?). I’ve been eating lots of veggies and protein (meats, cheeses, nuts & soy). Without actually logging it all, I can’t know for sure, though. Perhaps I’m eating my weight in almonds without realizing it.

I’ll check in again at the end and let you all know how it turned out. I’m headed out to SF to see a play the final day of the program, which means dinner and drinks… and I’m pretty sure I’m going to break the detox with a nice glass of wine. At least I’ll end it with a bang. :-)


clean eating

My herb garden in the backyard has been a success this summer. I used our back planter boxes to plant some starters, and they’ve done great! Once I got our drip lines turned on, that is. I’m useless when it comes to remembering to water – drip line and sprinkler timers are my friends. :-)

Among my herbs, I planted stevia. I’ve never been a fan of the store-bought stuff – it’s far too bitter for me. I’d heard good things about home-grown stevia extract, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I plan to harvest a few sprigs today and see how it works for me. I’d love to have a natural no calorie sweetener option for when my sweet tooth hits. This time, I found a video showing me how to harvest my stevia plant and grind up the sweet leaves in to a powder form. My plant is still rather small, but I’ll do a few test batches and see how it goes.

I noticed the link to this woman’s blog on her youtube video, and saw that she hosts a “clean eating” website. I’m happy to see so many people glombing on to the clean eating bandwagon. Or maybe I’m just one of the masses, and having my eyes opened to this way of life is making me more conscious of others around me doing the same.

There are a few facets to “clean eating” that I love…

First, it’s a great opportunity to get back to nature, understand where your food comes from and, when possible, grow it yourself. Sure, these things can take longer, and probably wouldn’t fall in to any definition of “convenience” food, but that’s what we’re trying to get away from anyway, right?

Second, it’s not a “diet” in the conventional sense of the word. Sure, it’s a way of eating that can be referred to using that terminology (i.e. “the cleaning eating diet”) but is not intended as a quick fix weight loss. It’s more of a lifestyle overhaul – replacing the junk in our diets with real, wholesome, close to the source food.

Third, there are so many creative adaptations and recipes out there! The internet is such a fantastic place for pooling together ideas and bringing the masses together. There are clean eating recipes for most anything your heart desires (possibly even twinkies… although, again, that’s probably not in the spirit of “clean eating”).

So, what is this whole “clean eating” deal? It’s not so far of from what Ben and I have been doing for the past eighteen months. It’s about eating more whole foods and helping your body help itself. The main things that you reduced from your diet are refined foods – white sugar, white flour, white rice. Foods that turn to sugar quite quickly in your body and give you little nutritional “oomph” for the calories. Now, you bring in the substitutes. Maple syrup, agave and honey are all excellent replacements for sugar (although still to be enjoyed in moderation); whole wheat flour or nut flour to replace white; brown rice as a substitute for white, etc. Overall, it’s common sense stuff… make smarter choices and your body will thank you for it.

I love this page that discusses clean eating. It’s a good, simple explanation. She does a better job at breaking it all down than I, and her website is pretty nifty, too!

Continuing on in this site, I found an interesting article last night about soaking and drying raw nuts before eating them, similar to how we soak beans. The part that won me over was how the author described the texture and flavor as being enough to entice her to soak. So I decided to give it a shot. I threw some in a bowl, added some salt and let them soak overnight. They went in the oven this morning to dehydrate. Results to be determined…

Hope you all are doing well and enjoying the summer! Until next time…

green monster smoothie variations

I’ve been playing around with the standard green monster smoothie recipe and wanted to share some of my findings.

Apple – My favorite! I cut one up fresh, remove the core and throw the pieces in, skin intact. It makes the drink incredibly sweet and more filling. This is the perfect add in, IMO.


Pineapple – refreshing, but the combo with peanut butter just didn’t work well. Leaving the peanut butter out was a nice variation, though. It had a tropical flavor with the banana and pineapple flavors coming through strong.

Blueberries – Yummmm! Great combo. Fresh blueberries didn’t add much flavor, unfortunately. Frozen was a different story. I especially love the frozen organic wild blueberries from trader joes. They’re incredibly sweet and have a great flavor. It also blends up bright blue! I made one this morning, but didn’t think ahead to get a picture before I drank it all. Here’s a photo of the remnants.

Strawberries – ripe ones are fantastic. They add a nice sweetness and flavor. Think banana pb&j sandwich. Well, without the bread, that is. Again, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen organic variety that I like to keep on hand, especially when strawberries are not in season.

Flax seed – I’ve been adding this to just about every thing recently. The flavor is slight, adding just a bit of nuttiness to the drink. The health benefits of ground flaxseed are great, and I have a big container to use up, so why not throw some in.

Frozen spinach – fresh is probably best, but we used all of our fresh stuff for juicing this week, so I scoured the freezer looking for another option. My favorite? Trader Joe’s pesticide free spinach. It has a good flavor and cooks up well. Turns out, it also blends nicely in smoothies! It blends better if it’s slightly defrosted, so throw it in the microwave on defrost or pour some out ahead of time to give it time to defrost.

Let me know about any other creative variations you discover!

exercise: bounce with me

I wouldn’t say I’ve given up on my rebounder, I’ve just fallen horribly out of habit. In fact, I’ve fallen out of most of the exercise habits I’d established before our trip to hawaii. Being gone for nearly two weeks really puts a crimp in routines.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve managed to get some exercise in over the past few months. Pulling C to and from preschool in her wagon, a couple long walks with a friend, other miscellaneous bits here and there. But really, it’s nowhere near the level I was at before our trip. Bikini weather really is a fantastic motivator for exercise.

My thinking is that the rebounder lived up to the hype. My abs were flatter, legs were toner and I felt more fit overall when I was using it daily. Although I don’t seem to be gaining weight from lack of exercise, I don’t feel as good overall, and I really dislike that. Rebounding is supposedly wonderful for flushing your lymphatic system when you do the “health bounce” (a bounce where your feet don’t leave the mesh). This one is a no brainer, no sweat, easy bounce you can do while watching tv. And, yet, I haven’t gotten back on the horse yet, even with the incredibly simple stuff. Routines are so easy to break – why aren’t they just as easy to step back in to?

Today was the day to end my laziness and get moving again. I’m sitting on the exercise bike as I write this. It’s not the rebounder (yet), but it’s a step in the right direction. In the past, my rebounding indulgence was watching all the guilty pleasure shows that Ben can’t stand. Shows like Glee, Pretty Little Liars and Revenge. Yup, I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy trash tv on occasion. I’m incredibly behind on all of these shows right now, though, because I haven’t been bouncing.

My goal for tonight – 15 minutes on the rebounder. Watch some crap tv, then collapse on to the couch with a nice cup of tea. The tough part is remembering to do this before it’s time to get ready for bed. Most nights, I crawl into bed thinking, “Oh, yeah, I was going to exercise today”. Then, yawwwwn, “Maybe tomorrow.”

I’m seriously considering making a chart where I can give myself gold stars for exercising. If it works for kids chores, it should work for me, too, right? Hmmm… what should my reward be? Perhaps a new item of clothing…

What about all of you? How do you keep on track? What motivates you?

“green monster” smoothie

"green monster" smoothie

I get it. A green smoothie does not look appealing. Nothing about it screams, “I’m tasty!! Try me!!”, but rest assured when I tell you, this one is worth a second glance.

This was another Pinterest find. I’m in love with Pinterest. It’s keeping life interesting for me.

It’s odd that I stumbled upon this, as I just talking to someone about it a few weeks ago. Banana, Peanut Butter, Spinach & Milk. That’s it. Blend it and wait for it to turn bright green. The weird thing? It tastes like banana and peanut butter. Seriously. Yum. I so look forward to my morning routine of slurping a cup of this stuff. I’m currently stuffed from dinner, but I could still drink some of this right now. It’s that good.

Enough talk… I’ll give you a picture diary of the process:

1. in process

2. blend it up (super appetizing pic here, i know)

3. pour some in a cup and drink!

4. pour excess in to freezer molds

5. cover with saran wrap to freeze (or these nifty shower cap looking things)

6. save frozen green monster in zip top baggies in the freezer. then grab a few and place in a cup/jar before going to bed. they'll defrost overnight and be ready for you in the morning!


Ingredients? 1 banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, a bunch of spinach, milk of choice to help it all mix up. Add yogurt, or flax seeds, or oat meal, or oat bran, or spirulina, or kale, or whatever else your heart desires. It’s not an exact science. Multiply this recipe so you have extra to freeze. (here’s the pinterest pin I adapted it from) One big difference? I didn’t freeze my bananas. You can, but my blender wasn’t happy with the frozen bananas, and since I was planning on freezing extra anyway, it was easier to just blend up fresh bananas instead. I’ve done it both ways, noting minimal difference between the two methods. If you really want that frozen, frothy style smoothie, and you don’t have frozen bananas, add some ice cubes. Again, not an exact science.

I know, you’re probably still skeptical. But, trust me. It tastes like a banana peanut butter smoothie. Really. I swear.

juicing day

I decided it was a juicing day today. A Monday juice fast is a great way to reset from the weekend and start the week right.

Ben and I are testing out a one day a week juice fast. We’d like to make a once weekly juice fast a regular thing. I’m not sure when we’ll do another longer term fast, so I figure if I aim for once weekly, that adds up to 52 fasting days a year. The question is, what difference does it make? Surely, we won’t see the same aggressive detox that comes with a longer term approach, but will a one day a week fast do anything? There is a lot of info out there. It seems like it’s beneficial, maybe more so than longer fasts, according to a few I’d the sites out there.

Here’s what one doctor says,

“I devote a day to drinking only fresh juice and water to give my digestive system a rest. Restricting your food intake frees up energy that your digestive organs (the bulkiest in the body) would otherwise consume. Unlike a water fast, a juice “diet” is unlikely to cause such side effects as lightheadedness, fatigue, or headaches.” Andrew Weil, M.D.

It’s tough to go back to juicing after being away from it. Much like getting back on the diet horse after straying. It’s a lackluster approach – not as exciting as the last time, it’s lost that novelty and new penny shine. I know what to expect, both the good and bad. Then again, I had a nice goal in mind last time – Hawaii waiting on the other side. And now, it’s sweater and jeans weather as far as the eye can see. The one day approach is a good way to get back in to it without some of the cons that come with a longer fast. And the best thing about the single day of fasting is that it’s over quickly. You get through the day and then go back to life as usual.

I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at food and recipes on Pinterest today. Drooling… feeling them call to me. You shall me mine tomorrow, sweetums. The weird thing? The “healthy” cravings continue. Seriously. The best recipes I’ve found today have been healthy ones – green monster smoothie, banana berry smoothie, baked beet chips, crustless quichequinoa and beet salad, salted caramel mocha brownie cups… wait… wha?? how did that sneak in there? Ok, so maybe my cravings are not entirely healthy.

I made carrot, beet and romaine juice this morning. I’d heard fantastic things about beet juice, but I can’t say I was overwhelmed. It seemed to overpower the rest of the flavors. I love me some roasted beets, but raw? Not so much. I added some cayenne and cinnamon to my cup, stirred it up, and drank it down. I’ve found that cayenne makes anything palatable. Mostly because your taste buds are too busy being on fire to notice anything else. Then I threw the rest of my beets in the oven. Roasted beet and feta salad awaits me tomorrow. *droool*

juice fast, take two

While most will be binging on gut-busting fried deliciousness this weekend, we’re taking a different approach. A three day juice fast to get back on track with healthy eating. We were doing so well before hawaii, but derailed a bit after coming home. So, Friday through Sunday, juice it is.

You’d think a three day fast would be a piece of cake after a seven day one, but mentally, it seems harder to get back on track. You know the challenges that await you. It’s harder to face the bad stuff a second time, especially when it’s so fresh in your head. Adding on, the first three days of a fast are always the worst. The hunger pains don’t quell until after day 3, so by doing a shorter term fast, you really are subjecting yourself to the worst parts of fasting. But, despite the hunger pains, you do still derive benefit from even a short term fast, so we embark on this journey once again.

I have it dialed in a little better this time. I know what to buy in bulk from Costco, and what to hold off on and buy from Trader Joes. I try to stick to organic as much as I can, especially when juicing. I also have weekly farmers markets that are at my disposal, which I will take better advantage of this time. I stumbled upon one last Tuesday, and I have already found my favorite farm there. Although they’re not certified organic, they are pesticide free, so you get organic quality for non organic prices. My kind of deal. In a pinch, I’ve discovered an awesome website to search out all the other local guys – Yes, I’m revising my previous statement of laziness and searching out organic farmers markets for a portion of my produce. I’ve decided to skip the csa box delivery for now, instead seeing what $25 at farmers markets will get me (which, incidently, is the cost of the smallest box we can have delivered to us). So far, I walked away from the Tuesday market with the equivalent of a box of produce for $9. Now that? That makes sense to the numbers side of my brain and makes the little accountant locked up inside of me quite happy.

We are making the most of the sunny weekend here and getting out. Saturday is free museum day here, so we’re heading to the train museum. Later in the afternoon, we have some organizing planned at home. And Sunday? We’re getting out and finding a hike. Maybe somewhere in the auburn area. It’s great to live in California!

impossible things

Did I really only gain 2.5 pounds during our whole ten days in hawaii? It seems highly unlikely, and, yet, that’s what the scale says. Keeping me at the midway point of what I consider a “respectable” weight range. And Ben? This is so unfair that I don’t even want to state it, but he only gained one pound.

How is this even possible? We indulged! We ordered dessert! We ate chocolate covered macadamia nuts by the bag full! We ate bread! And potato chips! We drank rum and POG cocktails! We drank wine and champagne! And ate tortilla chips! And guac! And yet, the juice fast before our trip seems to have reset things and allowed our bodies to process these rich indulgences more efficiently, thus, creating less impact at the end of the day.

I do think we were conservative with some of our meals, which probably helped. In addition to the indulgences I mentioned, we had lots of fresh, healthy meals. Lots of incredibly fresh fruits, smoothies, fresh coconut water and salads. But I kid you not when I say that we went through those chocolate covered macadamia nuts like they were… well… candy! One bag of each – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and milk chocolate covered toffee. And several more bags of savory style macadamia nuts. The dry roasted and salted ones. And the onion and garlic ones… mmmmm.

I definitely feel less fit than I did when we left. I think a big part of that is not working out daily during our time away. I got a few mini workouts in, but nowhere near the length and degree of intensity that I normally get at home.

Still, pretty awesome to come home and realize that the damage wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Yup, pretty darn happy.

pave paradise, put up a parking lot

image Every time I see spots on my apples, I think of the song “Big Yellow Taxi”. Not the original version, but the Counting Crows cover. You see spots more often with organic varieties, especially when purchased in bulk from Costco where careful inspection of each fruit doesn’t happen.

I know what happens when an apple starts to go bad. There’s logic behind the saying, “don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch“. The bad apple releases gas at an accelerated rate, spreading a contagious spottiness from one apple to the next. The gas released accelerates ripening, so the apples reach their prime well before their expected “best by” date. That’s the basic idea, no? At least that’s what I remember from… oh, let’s say high school biology. Really, it’s just one of those random facts that’s stuck in my head for no apparent reason. But it stays… a permanent fixture in my mind, staking it’s ground and refusing to budge when other useful information tries to take it’s place. “Go somewhere else!”, it says, “No room here.”

There was a point to this. Other than giving my thoughts their own overly controlling personalities, that is. I often wonder about the nutritional value of fresh produce purchased from a grocery store. How old is it already by the time we bring it home? My experience has been that organic produce meets it’s demise far sooner than it’s non organic counterparts, so how much benefit are we losing? When shopping at a large supermarket, would we be better off purchasing frozen varieties? Organic aside, let’s look at conventional produce. How long did it take to get to the store? How long will it sit in your kitchen before it’s used? Would we get more nutrients from the stuff that was picked and flash frozen the same day?

The journey over the past week has convinced me of one thing – I don’t get enough raw veggies. Most of the veggies I eat are cooked in some fashion, save the occasional salad with dinner. One of the documentaries I watched said that when veggies are cooked, nutrients are lost and your body can’t assimilate them as well. In some cases, your body may actually try fight against the food, recognizing it as an invader instead of the healthful meal you’re trying to deliver. Crazy, right? Then, I found this article that counters this argument. Some vegetables are actually more nutritious when cooked. What to believe? My thought? More produce in general is good – lots of raw, some cooked. Sounds like a plan, right?

Am I a sucker for the propaganda? Maybe. I’d like to think I’m a logical person, weighing out arguments; able to dispel truth from sensationalism. But I’m sure I don’t always get it right. I try to make informed decisions and get my facts straight before recirculating info back to the general public. But, I’m sure there are times that erroneous things make it past my filter.

I’m not talking about differences of opinion here. We could go back and forth on so many subjective issues that it’s not even worth stating examples. I’m talking about issues where seemingly legitimate people present a valid argument, supported by facts and data. I guess I could say that I’m a sucker for facts and data. Where it seems somewhat black and white. It’s unfortunate that statistics can be so easily skewed, but again, that’s something I try to keep in mind when new facts are presented to me.

So when a question like this comes up, regarding which produce is really best, it’s hard for me to come to an answer that settles well. There are too many variables for my brain examine. The logical answer seems be to to buy local and organic. Farmers markets and the like. I’m sure some study out there will discredit that approach as well. Besides, the reality of that happening consistently for me is slim, though, and it’s not really answering my question. Perhaps the answer is already out there on the internet and I just haven’t scoured long enough to find it. This article and this one do a decent job of touching the edges of the question, but it’s not thorough enough for my satisfaction.

Planning to sign up for our CSA box delivery again. At least that way we’ll have some fresh, organic produce coming to us that way, and I don’t even have to head to the farmers market to get it.

This one got a little wordy today. Apologies.

juice flush – day 7


Here we are… at the end. After coming so close yesterday to breaking early, I’m happy that we didn’t. Tonight was so much better because of it.

The evening dinner preparation was going quite well. We were making our salad as planned. C was excited to help and asked over and over if she could. Finally, I decided that shaking the salt and pepper grinders over the salad and pretending to shake some on would be a good task for her.

C stood on her stool, shaking the grinders over the top of the bowl, narrating as she went. She asked if she could try some of the salad, to which I agreed. She gnawed on a piece of lettuce while I stood next to her, chopping more. Suddenly, she found herself distracted by god knows what, and turned suddenly, toppling from the stool. I dropped my knife to the counter and reached to grab her, as I saw her flailing arm grab on to the edge of the salad bowl. For a split second, I calculated how I might save them both, but decided a salad on the floor was better than an ER visit.

So down they both went. C in my arms, salad bouncing down the steps and to the floor. Why C felt the need to take the salad down with her, I’ll never know. I just stared at the sad remains, wondering if the floor was clean enough that we might be able to salvage it. Taking a break from the mess, I consoled my crying child, taking her in to her bedroom for a much needed change of scenery and diaper change. As she laid on the changing table, she cried sadly,”I fell. I made a mess.”, then parroted back the things I told her. “That’s ok,” I said. “That’s ok,” she’d repeat. “We’ll make another one”, I said. “We’ll make another one”, she responded. “And I can help mommy?” she asked. “No sweetie, I think I’ll do this one by myself.” That brought on the waterworks. She was so upset at the prospect of not being able to help.

C unhappily examines the mess

We made our way back in to the kitchen, where I surveyed the damage and tried to put together a plan of action. I pulled the bowl over (fortunately the glass bowl was sturdy and had stayed intact) and began scooping salad remains from the floor back in to the bowl. I found a hair among the greens and decided the salad was beyond hope. As C helped pick up salad remains, she said (unprompted), “sorry for the salad floor mess.” Awww. My heart melted. As disappointed as I was over the loss of our first solid meal in a week, how could I fault her? “That’s ok, it was an accident.”, I replied. “We’ll make another.”

The worst part of this? I’d used up the last of some of my veggies in this bowl. The delicious cucumber I’d been dreaming about all day? Gone. Those luscious tomatoes I’d drooled over? The worms would be enjoying them, instead of me. Oh well, at least I hadn’t thrown the avocado in to the bowl yet. Then I might have cried too.

Round two, made the salad again, sans the few things we’d used up. Despite the fact that this second version was not as robust as the first, I think it might have been the best darn salad I’ve ever eaten. Period. And one of the few times in my life I can legitimately say that I was full after eating an all veggie salad.

Best. Salad. Ever.

Not a whole lot new to say, just more of the same.

– Hunger wasn’t terrible today; as long as I stayed hydrated and drank juice, I felt fine.

– Headaches seem to be gone. This is the best part of all of this. You never realize how awesome it is to feel normal until it’s gone.

– Sleeping better. Getting tired at a normal time and waking up refreshed. No issue with insomnia last night.

– No significant weight loss this morning, but it’s pretty standard for me to show losses every other day. Like my body takes a day to stabilize before it gives up anything else.

– No ill effects from adding solid food back in yet. I was concerned about that aspect, which is why we didn’t continue right up until leaving for our trip. But, all systems are normal. Definitely hear my tummy gurgling as it gets back in to action.

The plan? Juicing tomorrow during the day, fruits and veggies for dinner. Probably another salad. I’ll make our roasted veggie casserole Friday night. Easing back in to the solid food thing. No need to regain all that weight too quickly. That’s what Hawaii is for, right? ;-)

Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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