Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

Caffeine Free Epiphany….


About two months ago I started getting a really sharp pain in my pelvis – randomly coupled with some other really unpleasant side effects. On the pain scale I would say I’m pretty tough – and this sharp pain caused me to double over in agony in the ‘. middle of the hall at work. A few days later I got it again, twice. A trip to my doctor yielded not much until she mentioned how much water I was drinking. I instinctively replied ‘tons, I drink water like it’s my job!’….then I did a quick mental tally and realized I was drinking about 40 0z. of water and about 86 oz. in coffee. Yup. I was drinking 3-4 Venti iced coffees (cream + 1 sugar) and a doubleshot each day. I’ll throw up a quick visual image for those of you looking cross-eyed at your screen:

 

coffee

So I vowed to cut it out, cold turkey and focus on getting my 100 oz. of water every day then assess how I felt after 30 days.

This is what I looked like before I gave up coffee:

 

My first week without it was HORRIBLE. I have heard about caffeine withdrawal and everything I read was true – nausea, dizziness, headaches (dull, annoying headaches), chills, sleepiness and last but not least, EXTREME IRRITABILITY. Everything annoyed me – I was bitchy as hell and snapped at people for smiling. No lie! Luckily my family loves me and I work with a really supportive group of guys and gals who didn’t take it personally. After the first week the symptoms dulled but the headaches persisted. Oh and the cravings  – I would have bartered with the devil for a doubleshot. Gladly. 🙂

Around week 3 I noticed a shift – I was finally mellowing and I was sleeping better. I’m normally someone who takes forever to fall asleep then wakes up 10-15 times a night. Well, without coffee I only wake up once or twice. I also noticed this nervous energy I always assumed was “Samantha” was actually “Samantha on too much caffeine”. Of course it wasn’t good nervous energy like the kind you feel around your crush or when embarking on a new adventure … no this was the kind that always makes you feel uneasy and on edge. That feeling has left me and dare I say it…I’m actually sort of zen now!

The biggest change (aside from my wallet…all that Starbucks adds up BIG TIME!) was the pains went away. Gone. I did some Googling and chatted with my doctor and some nurse friends and I think I actually developed a caffeine intolerance. When I was in my early twenties I was obsessed with coconut and I used/ate so many products containing it that I developed an allergy. I’m fairly certain the same thing is true of coffee. I overdosed and developed an intolerance. Crazy!

August 30th marked my one-month milestone – and I decided to try a tall iced coffee just for kicks. Within an hour the pain returned. I have had the same reaction to caffeinated tea so I’m officially off caffeine for good. 🙂

I am no longer toting my gold card or chatting on a first name with my baristas. It’s funny how something can go from defining you to a distant memory in the blink of an eye!

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Veggie Challenge Accepted!


As I mentioned in my last post I have joined a CSA for the summer/fall and I am just now realizing the veggie throw-down I will be involved in for the next 23 weeks! LOL.

This week I was able to find uses for the whole basket but I had to get creative and I thought I should share some of the ways I’ve incorporate more veggies in my life.

But first let’s talk about the veggies. So three of the five things I have never had before (bok choy, radishes and Red Russian kale). Bok Choy really has no flavor on its own raw (it’s crunchy and sort of like celery) but stir-fried it is DELICIOUS. Radishes are slightly peppery and remind me of a mushroom – I like them raw in salads or cooked in stir-fry and Red Russian kale is significantly sweeter than regular dino kale (which I do not enjoy!). I am an arugula addict and spinach lover so those were easy to find uses for!

First I made some simple salads and since I LOVE a fried egg I topped them with eggs from the egg share (holy yolk porn!) – they were AMAZING eggs. So creamy and delicious – the 6 were gone in 3 days. LOL!

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Fried egg from Wingate Farms with green onion, salt and pepper. PERFECTION!

Simple salad - spinach from the farm topped with balsamic onions, raw onion and tomatoes. No dressing needed!

Simple salad – spinach from the farm topped with balsamic onions, raw onion and tomatoes. No dressing needed!

When in doubt – salad is king. I’m a huge fan of mixing raw and cooked ingredients – next week I’ll include a bit about the “Samantha Kitchen Sink Salad” mentality. I couldn’t deal with the bok choy raw so I decided stir-fry was the perfect vehicle. I made it for my family one night and it was a huge hit:

Brown rice with stirfry (mushrooms, peppers, onions, baby corn and bok choy)

Brown rice with stirfry (mushrooms, peppers, onions, baby corn and bok choy)

Then last night I was standing at the fridge deciding what to make for lunch looking puzzled (like that commercial where the kid and his dad both look into the fridge waiting for food to appear) and I realized I still had a TON of veggies left (2 bok choys, that weird kale and some spinach). When in doubt: USE THE WOK! This is my fabulous creation (please note the action shot – THAT IS STEAM! Haha). I never, ever thought I would be someone who could feel full eating a plate of veggies – but this was my lunch two days in a row and it was delicious (and the folks around me were JEALOUS!).

 

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I wasn’t so sure I’d like kale stir-fryed because I don’t care for it as chips or a salad (I always feel like it rivals lawn clippings) but I really love it stirfryed! It adds a nice bite to lunch.

This week I have a whole new basket of greens: Spinach, lettuce mix, head lettuce (red leaf and “Red Tide”), salad turnips, “French Breakfast” radishes, scallions, sorrel, arugula and “Red Rain” mustard greens. I asked Facebook friends what I should do with turnips and my pal Amy recommended this: Turnip Rosti given it sounds amazing AND I got scallions I will have to try it!

I’m loving the summer challenge of using more vegetables in my life – summer is synonymous with cocktails and ice cream so it’s verrrry easy to fall off the wagon and into a sundae. This year I will definitely balance my treats with greens. 🙂

 

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Temptation and Truthbombs


I love alliteration – it just ties things together so perfectly for me! I mentioned a few weeks ago I was starting Whole 30 again – I can’t even lie, it’s been hell. I didn’t realize QUITE how far off my clean eating track I had gotten. Nor did I realize just how many temptations I face and fail in a daily basis!
Breakfast? On Whole 30 I’m either having eggs/chicken sausage or that nut porridge (comes out better if you soak the nuts in coconut or almond milk instead of water) or a Lara bar and leftover veggies. Before I would be tempted by bagels, brown sugar oatmeal or Belgian waffles. Sure none of those alone with kill me or lead to weight gain..unless that’s standard fare 6/7 mornings.
Lunch and dinner I definitely fall into the carb cravings. I want soup – with bread. I want potatoes every night (I may or may not be part potato…). It’s crazy. Once I convince myself that I’m craving veggies I can be satisfied with amazing lunches like this homemade power bowl –
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Dinner I’ve been consistently good at sticking to protein and veggies so that’s been easy but I’m finding myself eating larger breakfasts and smaller dinners. I’m also rocking the water (thanks to this lovely BKR water bottle):
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I’m also obsessed with wilted spinach and onions (olive oil + onion + salt). Here’s a snapshot of dinner Friday night:
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Dessert….yeah that was back to an every day kind of thing. A treat loses it’s specialness if you have it every day. It’s funny, I’ve learned and relearned these lessons…but for some reason they don’t stick in my head until I strip my eating to bare bones! Once I do I swear that I’m hardly saying clean. Now they’re are things I miss like cottage cheese and cheese in omelets but I think going without really made me realize how frequently cheese and crackers trumps tomatoes and guacamole as a snack!
I’m ready to transition to an 80/20 clean eating lifestyle. I can totally commit to eating clean during the week and weekends if I have one or two meals where I splurge. This week will be my most challenging – I’m in L.A. for work from Tuesday morning through Thursday night (red eye home). I’ve got 13 meetings crammed into 2.5 days I’m addition to 2 planned dinner dates. I need to be ON and of course I’m lucky Los Angeles is one of the best places to be eating clean! My hotel has an organic menu and I’m in control of picking one of the two dinner locations so I can steer towards a small farm to table style place and away from a martini bar (huge temptation!). I’ve got cashews and Lara bars packed for emergencies – I totally think I can do this. One real truth that rang through during this challenge was how often I excuse away my own bad behavior while harping on someone else for doing THE SAME THING. No one likes a hypocrite.
I’ve been completely in love with a blogger/author banged Danielle LaPorte lately and one of her best ideas is a “truthbomb” – a quick email with wise words you need to hear. This was from a few weeks ago:

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Ha. Was I right? Totally true, thought-provoking words! Can you talk about what you want in life without referencing what you have or had? It’s tough! I want to be able to master clean eating while still enjoying treats without overdoing it. What do I consider overdoing? Well if I look at my past… No past! Don’t mention the past! LOL. It’s tough! If I think about my love life and taking that chance and putting myself into the online dating world (something I’ve still avoided) I get so scared and so worried…what if I only meet assholes? What if NO ONE wants to date me? What if I meet someone who can only see where I am and not where I’m going? Well, it’s on me to put my best foot forward and act the way I want to feel (as Gretchen Rubin says). If I want to be loved I need to act loved (and truly I am loved!). But, dwelling on roads you’ve already traveled just gets you places you’ve already been!
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In three weeks I’m super happy to say I’ve lost 13 pounds! I know so much of this was getting away from the healthy (and not healthy!) quick foods and back to eating healthy meals in their natural form. Now let’s look forward to a healthy, clean eating future! 🙂

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Whole 30….Round 2!


You know how they say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? Well I’m totally over lions. I hate winter. It’s been so freaking cold and miserable here in the suburbs of Boston – I’m ready for some sunshine and flowers! I’m going to gear myself up for a spring mentality (and a more fabulous summer body) by kicking off a new Whole 30 challenge this coming Monday. I eased myself in this week – cutting ties with bagels and homemade cookies (two things that were making more frequent appearances than they really should). I also embraced some new things like cilantro (formerly a hate – and I mean hate!) and raw red onion.I’m ready to rock the next 30 days!

Just in case you’re not familiar Whole 30 is an elimination/detox diet created by a husband and wife team who believe in organic, whole foods and no junk. The plan is simple to explain but terribly hard to execute:

Eat real food in these forms:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Tons of vegetables
  • Some fruit
  • Healthy oils, nuts and seeds.

Sounds simple right?! Yeaaa not so fast….

Don’t eat:

  • Sugar (any kind)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes (which includes America’s favorite nut, the peanut)
  • Dairy
  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites (found in many processed foods)
  • White potatoes (along with Yukon, red bliss etc.) – the only potato that’s Whole 30 approved is the sweet potato

So, it’s a big change…but I’m excited to take it on. I did great last time although the headaches were pretty awful (not excited for those). My hardest challenge will be breakfast. I like eggs – but they don’t always like me back….so I need to get creative. This recipe for Banana Nut Porridge  sounds awesome and would be delicious with dates!  I have my nuts soaking as we speak and I’m hoping this is a tasty breakfast. I love oatmeal and I think it will be similar.

Sunday is veggie prep day and today I got help from Derek and Mom (thanks guys!) – here’s what we have ready in the fridge for the week ahead:

  • Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoliflower along with asparagus, green beans and broccolini washed and ready to be roasted for dinners.
  • Spinach, arugula and spring mix for salad base
  • Raspberries (to add to porridge)
  • Vinegar pickled beets
  • 3 kinds of tomatoes (variety is the spice of life right?)
  • Sweet potato mash
  • Almonds, cashews, pecans (no peanuts!)
  • Power Salad fixin’s (I stole this from Panera after having one for lunch Friday!)

Here’s the salad I had Friday:

PowerSaladMy take: Spinach/arugula/cilantro base, fresh tomatoes, peppers (yellow and orange) and pickled red onions (homemade!) with roasted chicken and cilantro/lemon hummus. Super delicious and super excited to eat it! I’ll snap a picture later in the week! Derek loves cukes, I hate them so we’ll include them in his salad only. 🙂

Oh and here’s a shot of the garlic pickled red onions and roasted cabbage/brussel sprouts:

Roasted Veggies and Pickled Onions

They joke that Whole 30 is a commitment – but it really is! I’m not usually a big food planner (I find it constricting and stressful) so this will be a big change to have to think this far ahead. I think I’m most worried about giving up ice cream – I LOVE ice cream and a month is a long time! Oh and if you’re curious I will be having my beloved Starbucks coffee with coconut/almond milk instead of cream/1 sugar. 🙂 See? I’ve thought of everything! Now, let’s see if I see a difference in 30 days!

Some of the annoyances (besides of course the weight) are super, insane dry skin/eczema, random hives (possibly due to coconut so I’m not going nuts with coconut during the challenge) and psoriasis on my head. A lot of these ailments have been fixed with a clean diet – I can’t wait to see how I fare on April 12th!

Are you doing a Whole 30? Have you? Any tips or tricks?

 

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2013 Elf 4 Health Challenge & a New Diet Twist….


Last year I had SO much fun participating in the Elf 4 Health challenge hosted by The Lean Green Bean and Nutrionella that I just had to sign up again this year.  All the challenge details (and the sign up!) can be found here: Elf4Health. Basically you complete one healthy challenge each day (be in physical, emotional, self etc.) and chat with an elf buddy randomly assigned to you about your challenge and staying on track during the holidays.

This years challenges are realllly going to take me out of my comfort zone (burpees!? wall sits? meditation? – eeeep!).  I’m nervously excited. Is that a thing? Nervously excited? LOL – well it is now! Behold – the challenges!

I just completed our pantry purge last weekend and I don’t want to brag, but it looks fantastic and is MUCH easier to find things! For Dec 7th I’ll be tackling the spice cabinet – which is a hot mess. I am pretty positive we have at least 4 poultry seasonings and probably another 4 cloves – two things I never think we have and always buy. Haha.

pantry

Foolishly I forgot to look at this week’s challenges and I already have lunch packed for Monday- Wednesday (chicken pot pie soup FOR THE WIN)….sooo I’ll be meatless for every other meal – and on Friday. 🙂

I got my first email from my elf – she’s really sweet and I’m excited to motivate each other for the week! Shout out to Natalie!

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Oh, I forgot to mention my new diet. Dietary restriction? Meh – the new way I’m eating! I’ve had a problem for a while with retaining water (especially in my feet and legs). A few weeks ago I weighed in at 7am and again at 10pm – I had gained 12 pounds. Yes, I’m dead serious. I scheduled time to see my doctor – but she’s so busy she couldn’t see me until the first week of December. I chatted with my Mom and she mentioned salt – and tracking my sodium intake. Two weeks ago on Saturday and Sunday I tracked everything I ate in LoseIt – -then calculated the sodium – I was at 3500 mg / 4600 mg respectively. I picked up “The Salt Solution” from Amazon and learned I was eating nearly triple the sodium I should aim for (1500mg). Eeep! So, I took action last week (even during the two days I had the flu!) and following the following guidelines:

*No more canned/premade soups – (my favorite is the Autumn Squash soup at Panera and it has a whopping 1400mg per CUP! Yeah no!).

*Swap out morning drink for grapefruit juice (a natural diuretic which helps with fluid retention)**

*Trade chicken broth for the low sodium variety (a difference of 500 mg per cup!)

*Up my fiber (helps with food digestion – and feeling full)

*Amp up the spices (in lieu of salt try to include things like sage, rosemary, chives etc.) – I also need to check out Mrs. Dash (which is sodium free).

*Drink more water! (but I seriously always need the reminder).

These are the food guidelines I am following to see what kind of sodium content foods have compared to each other.

One week in and I’m significantly better – my feet and legs aren’t swollen, I feel 1000X better energy wise AND I’m only 1-2 pounds heavier by 10pm after a day on my feet. Awesome!  Thanks Mom – just goes to show your Mom really does have all the answers! 😉

**Sidenote: by far this is my favorite grapefruit juice EVER:

Ingredients: grapefruit + water. The end! I also love their Simply Orange with Mango – delicious. 🙂

Happy short-work-week everyone!!

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October: Unprocessed!


I sorta failed at “Blogtember”….I only blogged once! Sorry guys, I have good intentions – then I get distracted by life. 🙂

So October I am challenging myself to join “October Unprocessed 2013” – an awesome movement to eliminate processed foods, artificial flavors and colors and junk from your diet for one month. I’m *close*….but I’m not 100% on this already in my diet so a little push will be just what I need. I gave up soda and fast food circa 2005. I stopped eating frozen meals and packaged things like mac+cheese in 2010. Most recently stopped eating packaged snacks and I’m much more conscious of where my food comes from (organic when possible, preferably not in a box/bag). Overall I  make good choices 90% of the time….that said I do have a few bad habits that can be kicked …. like my Starbucks Espresso Doubleshot addiction (they’re so cute, so portable and keep me so caffeinated…but they aren’t all natural so they need to go) or my penchant for stealing cheese Doritos. I don’t *buy* them….so I never count it as a bad idea when I look at my food haul for the week – but I eat them twice a week lately and they need to be cut.

I also just noticed my salt and vinegar almonds are artificially flavored. Boo. Why does everything have something artificial these days?! Grrrrrr.

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I’m also ready for some fall tweaks to come back into rotation – like oatmeal with berries for breakfast and SOUP. I love soup. Right now I’m obsessed with butternut squash. These fall tweaks will not include caramel apple cider from Starbucks – delicious but WAY too high in calories (360 for a grande! without whip!) and they are processed.

I feel like every time a new season starts it;’s a great time to challenge yourself to try something new.

So, will you join me for Unprocessed October? 🙂

If so pledge to join me and read all about it here!

 

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Whole Lotta Veggies….and May Challenges


A bunch of people have asked how Whole 30 is going and how I’m doing….a few have assumed my silence means I failed. LOL. I’m happy to say I did not fail! I did cheat a bit – but I did not fail. I lost 16 pounds in 30 days – which is pretty phenomenal!

Overall it was pretty amazing. I had no idea how few veggies I was eating….or how much processed crap I was eating! I also didn’t realize how often I turned to carbs for cravings, bad days or boredom. Carbs are my consolation blanket. I can’t say I’m completely over my cravings for cupcakes – but I can say I will never go back to a gluten filled diet. Ever!

I focused on the healthiest options possible every day – and I found ways to make veggies work for my life. I don’t have time in the morning to roast vegetables and pack lunch. Hell most nights I end up working later than I should and packing lunch becomes a “shoulda done” before bed  (a post for another day). So instead I go to Whole Foods Saturday or Sunday and I roast veggies for the week then bag them up individually. Yes, I do realize tupperware would be more ecologically friendly – but I end up not washing it, forgetting it at work or in my car and wasting money. Plastic bags, for the win!

Some of the veggies I simply cannot live without: raw peppers with olive tapende or just plain  -YUM! Spaghetti squash with pesto – oh em gee – SO good! Seriously, an awesome substitute for pasta. No it doesn’t *taste* like pasta – it tastes like squash – but it LOOKS just like pasta! Perfect. Oh and of course, cauliflower- especially purple (which they had at Whole Foods and was all the rage this week in my lunch). Love cauliflower!

So how did I cheat? I had dairy – both cheese (yum) and half and half in my coffee. Oh and I had coffee. I’m sorry, I can’t live in a world without coffee. I know the book tells you that’s crap – but it’s not. The caffeine withdrawals were awful. I couldn’t function one day because I was in the midst of carb flu and without coffee. If anyone decides to do this experiment – make sure you’re not traveling….or in back to back meetings. 🙂 I will also add that detoxing off a processed food laden diet is horrible, I was nauseous, I was dizzy, my thoughts were jumbled but I also was weak. I got muscle cramps places I never get cramps when exercising – and I was sleeping horribly.

Most importantly –  I don’t WANT to give up coffee. I have one Venti iced coffee with cream daily. That’s it. I’m not drinking it all day long and I’m not willing to live without it. Some things are worth fighting for! 😉

So what will my May challenge be? More of the same, with a twist. May I’m back to traveling – Phoenix, LA, Dallas and maybe a local trip down to CT. I need to be ON m game. No gluten. Lots of veggies, lots of lean protein, fruits. Oh and lots of moving.

Thankfully I have a little challenge to keep me motivated! Stef Sweeney is hosting a Bikini Buddy Challenge (thank god no ACTUAL bikinis are required – I’m a LONG way from there) and I signed up with my girl Layne. We are team Cantaloop Cuties – inspired by our favorite 90’s song ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwBjhBL9G6U

The rules are super simple:

1) Pair up with a buddy.
2) Arrange a time to meet with me (before/after class, etc) to get your beginning measurements taken.
3) Pay $10 each – $5 registration fee; $5 to go into the Winners Pot.
4) For the next 6 weeks, get your booty into gear!! Stay on top of your working out/being active, eating healthy, drinking water, etc.
5) At the end of the 6 weeks, measurements will be taken again. The team with the most inches/body fat lost WINS ALL THE MONEY FROM THE WINNERS POT!!!!

So gluten-free, veggie heavy diet plus lots of Zumba and cardio (more about my new favorite cardio in the next post!) = Awesome track for getting myself slimmed down!!
Wish me luck – I feel like I’ve finally got a secret formula down for success – I’m looking forward to having a healthy summer!
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The Whole Truth ~ Week 1 recap!


Week one of Whole 30 is in the books! It was rough, I can’t lie. I’ll highlight the finer points in bullet points, because I love a bullet point!

*The first three days I was convinced I was going to die. Let’s just say I grossly underestimated how much processed food I was eating. My stomach didn’t take well to fresh foods and veggies. By day 4 I definitely felt like my system “got it” and it was easier. Upping my water intake helped. Taking it easy on the exercise front helped too.

*Long term I can live without gluten. I feel better when I don’t have it and the “missing it” is truly mind over matter. Lettuce wraps taste better and crunchier to me than regular sandwiches. Pretty sure I had lettuce wraps 4 times this week. So good! (note to self: snap pictures next time).

mind over matter

*Long term I cannot live without ice cream. I miss it. My favorite ice cream stand (Kimball’s in Carlise) opened for the season and their ice cream is just to die for – so fresh and tasty. I will definitely incorporate this back in next month – as a treat for occasions!

*When you focus on whole, natural foods you really notice the flavor. I love artichoke hearts marinated in buffalo sauce but I was drowning them in blue cheese before. Now I have them with orange peppers and spinach, no dressing – delicious! One of my best combos was Saturday night. I tried to emulate a salad I had at Craft in LA –  hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, avocado and roasted chicken(I added this, it wasn’t in the original) with a squeeze of lime juice. Incredibly tasty and filling! I wish I could have an avocado tree in Boston – that’s how much I love avo!

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*Whole 30 talks a lot about curing disease through food. I can’t say for sure any of my ailments are cured but my skin seems less dry, my plantar fasciitis seems to be under control (stretching helps too!) and I have more energy. Can’t wait to see how I feel in the next few weeks!

*Prepping is KEY. I think anytime I’ve failed at weight-loss in the past can be attributed to lack of planning. Saturday we grocery shopped (Whole Foods for fruits/veggies, Market Basket + BJ’s for everything else). Sunday I prepped. Roasted, washed, cut, bagged and planned for the week. In the fridge I have ingredients for chicken Thai lettuce wraps (enough for 3 lunches), enough roasted cauliflower and broccoli for the week (lunch or dinner), grilled chicken breasts, sliced peppers for dipping in guacamole, strawberries hulled and popped in the freezer for smoothies and sliced salad ingredients ready for a protein. Fruits (er veggies) of my labor:

veggies

*Whole truth  – I cheated. I love Starbucks iced coffee. LOVE. With cream + 1 sugar. I tried coconut milk, I tried almond milk, I tried black – I can’t do it. I need to conquer this – but if it’s the worst, I’m pretty proud of myself!

*Best part? I noticed my sugar craving are waning. Tonight I wanted sweet. I needed sweet. I did not resort to chocolate or ice cream – instead I opted for some fresh fruit – kiwi, raspberries and blueberries. It hit the spot!

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My best friend Julie is trying it starting tomorrow. I can’t wait to compare notes with her. Anyone else just start it? Email me, I’d love to hear about your experiences! sparklyandslimming@gmail.com 🙂

I’m all prepped for week two and ready to get some exercise back into my life. Lots of cardio this week and hopefully a strength training class or two are on the docket.

Looking forward I’m trying to figure out how I can keep this up when I travel. I think it will require finding a hotel with a fridge and doing some grocery shopping – which I’m certainly not opposed to doing – it’s just not always an option depending where I’m staying. I’m thinking I’ll have to get creative!

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Whole 30 ~ 4/8 – 5/8


I have been chatting away about life and love over at my new nook on the interwebz – but I decided to pop back here for a chat about my new nutrition focus. Tomorrow I am launching into 30 days of “Whole 30” – you can read all the details here. Here are the basics:

What is the Whole30®?

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, and your long-term health. The most important reason to keep reading?

This will change your life.

I just finished “It Starts with Food” and I feel like I need to try it. I need a life change!

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So what can I eat?

* Lots of fruits

*Lots of veggies

* Lean proteins

* NO eat sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy or processed junk  (also known as most of my current diet)

Sounds crazy eh?  I’m excited. It’s the butt-kicking I need.

Now, I know dairy is not bad for you – but the program cuts it out and I think I can live without it for a month. Maybe. 🙂  (No cheese? Bah…maybe not)

What made me try this? Straight from the book and the website:

Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

—-

I need some tough love! I need some butt-kicking. 🙂

This is my fruit bowl right now (usually empty):

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Had I not just bagged up all my veggies I would have snapped a picture of those too!

Breakfast is going to be challenging – I love oatmeal. Love it. No oats. No dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt) so I decided to go with a fruit smoothie made with a bit of coconut almond milk and this:

Hopefully it’s tasty – we’ll see tomorrow!

I’m already going to call it – not having my iced coffee with cream and sugar is going to be the hardest. I love me some Starbucks! Send me some willpower friends, I’m going to need it.

I’m going to snap a before picture before work – we’ll see if you guys notice a difference in 30 days!

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Biscuit Face (or adventures in gluten)


2 weeks without blogging make me a sad panda! Sorry guys, I had a ton to say – but I never found a half hour to sit and write it all down. Ironically I’m wide awake @ 3am on Sunday morning this jotting all this down on my Blackberry. Eh, such is life! 😉

Right before I left for 2 weeks in LA I started reading up on gluten-allergies. I don’t think I have celiac disease – but I do think I may have a sensitivity to gluten. All the things I’ve ignored for years (stomach aches, bloating, cramps) can be attributed to gluten! Who knew?! I started chatting with friends and friends of friends (Judy!)  and time after time the book “Wheat Belly” was mentioned. So here I am in LA realizing just how much gluten I eat (oatmeal, sandwiches, crackers, pita chips, baguettes w/ soup…) – the list was INSANE. One of my LA co-workers and friends, Darren is gluten-free. I bombard him with questions for days (poor guy). Then I’m at a dinner party he and his gf are hosting and I stop in the hall to chat with someone – staring at me from a bookcase is a copy of “Wheat Belly”! So I borrow it – and man is it ENLIGHTENING! I highly recommend it. Speaking of – I need to mail that back. LOL!

wb

The author jokes that as a society we are obsessed with wheat. So much so that he could have called the book wheat belly or biscuit face or pretzel butt. Biscuit face me me giggle.

Rather than try to go 100% GF in Los Angeles, I decided to try tracking my food in regards to what I ate with gluten and how I felt after. Indian without the naan? No stomach ache! (Side note: I always thought it was the spices in Indian that made me feel yucky – now I wonder!).  Mexican w/ tortillas + chips? Stomach ache. London broil with parsnip/cauliflower puree and asparagus? No stomach ache. Flatbread pizza with garlic, pesto + pine nuts? Cramps, stomach pain + horrible bloat the next day. In fact the pizza (from 800 degrees) was phenomenal tasting but I actually woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I might die. So the meals with gluten gave me the sicky feeling?   Hmmmm I might be on to something here!!

Like I mentioned, I’ve always had these yucky stomach feelings but I’ve ignored them – or chalked them up to something else (sensitive stomach, waiting too long to eat, hung over from the night before). Now I’m thinking I actually was suffering from a wheat hangover! My go-to foods are always carbs – bagels w/ cream cheese, crackers and cheese, cake (and cupcakes), pasta with sauces and garlic bread. I am *addicted* to wheat! And honestly, I think most of America is!!

So how did I do with the rest of my challenges in LA? Good I think. You guys know dessert is my weakness – well I only indulged 3 times in 13 days! Once I split a brownie and twice I had crème brûlée. Not bad. I even avoided a delicious looking piece of coconut layer cake and a mocha fudge cupcake! I did indulge in wine – but at 125 calories a glass its a far better caloric choice than coconut layer cake at 600 calories a slice! :o) Exercise? Yeaaa well I did OK. I walked my ass off. I got 10,000 plus steps EVERY day – win! I only got 2 gym workouts and 2 barre workouts in – not my best effort.  I stuck to my calories nearly everyday but I sucked at getting my water in – shocking given that’s usually the easiest thing for me! I definitely felt the effects of that all weekend. I was retaining water terribly and felt like the marshmallow man. Awful. I’m happy to say today I’m back to 100% (and looking forward to a barre ASS KICKING from Jess tonight in legs – yeah!)

I am sad to say I fell off on elf4health – a few of the challenges while I was away were near impossible. Clean out your fridge? I’m in a hotel – no fridge. Planning meals? Eh not really plausible when you’re at a customer’s facility at their mercy for meals. 🙂  But, no excuses! Onward – upward!

This weeks challenges are:

Monday, December 17  Do a circuit workout today!

Tuesday, December 18  Treat yourself to something you’ve been craving!

Wednesday, December 19   Bake cookies! Find a healthier recipe to try or make some healthy swaps to an old favorite

Thursday, December 20  Winter is the perfect time for casseroles! Make a casserole for dinner tonight. Add extra veggies and go easy on the cheese and sauce.

Friday, December 21  Pay it forward! Do something nice for someone else.

Saturday, December 22  Going to a holiday party? Eat a snack before you go, choose water and split dessert

Today’s circuit may be this one:

armsnabs

Saturday is Derek’s birthday dinner – I think we’re doing a family thing at a nice steakhouse so I know dessert will be tempting! That challenge falls perfectly. 🙂

Oh and I have a new elf for last week and this week!  She is an American living in Kuwait! Check out her blog here: Jessie Loves to Run

Shout-out to my previous elf, Christy whom I’ve kept emailing. So cool to meet people from other walks of life!  Seattle scientist mom of 2? Not someone I’d normally encounter ~ now I’m glad I did! 🙂

So, now that I’ve read “Wheat Belly” and survived 2 weeks of travel what’s next? How can successfully avoid gluten in the coming weeks during holiday chaos? Compromise. I know I shouldn’t eat potatoes – but I *really* shouldn’t eat garlic bread. I can keep within my number + still feel satisfied without all the carbs – I know I can! It’s going to take some thought – because carbs are my default food. But, I think I’ve got this. I’ll be interested to compare how I feel (and what I weigh) a month from now!

Have any gluten-free recipes/foods you love? Please send them my way! I’d love to hear about new foods (or new combos) I need to try. Have a “Is there gluten in this food?” Android app? Please let me know! 😉

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