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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Walkin' Away the Pounds :)

What is it about sweating that just feels so good?  I love the feel of sweat dripping down my back from a good workout - it is cleansing.  I have a picture up by my desk that basically says something about sweating out all the negative junk in our life.  I like that - the world seems a little better after a good workout.

I love my Walk Away The Pounds - Walk Strong DVD.  It combines walking and resistance training, and makes me feel good.  Ol' Leslie... you just can't stop her positive energy from rolling right out of the TV and into the living room.  She always seems to make a point of throwing something about praising God or saying a "Hallelujah" while she is working out.  It makes me smile.  I think there is a close link between taking care of ourselves and our relationship to the divine.  Hindus know it (yoga-spirituality).  We can't ignore the powerful connections of mind-body-spirit.  I just think we get lost (at least I know I do) in the daily grind and stop listening.  One thing she says in this particular workout is that it feels SO good when you take care of yourself.  And she's right.  Taking care of this one body is the key because (I) am the one person that I will live with for my entire life from start to finish.

After getting my good sweat going and stretching it out (so important for muscles that are warm to stretch out, says the massage therapist ;)  )  I made a good sugar scrub and clay masked my face and chest.  I feel like I am warmed up, stretched out and squeaky clean.  Much better than freaking myself out reading about the horrors of the modern American diet ;)  Certainly more relaxing. 

Now that the workout is done for today, I can focus on eating some good vegetarian chili and salad and spend the rest of the day reading and just pampering myself - it just feels SO good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Living and Learning

Well, I have been furiously studying and reading this week.  I am getting right into my nutrition class, and I can't help but think... what have I been eating?  Do I love fruits and vegetables - you bet?  Do I eat a lot of them?  Many days, I do.  But then there are the other days.  Sugar, dairy, white flour, canned vegetables and soups... even for a vegetarian these are not good things.  I have the meat thing down, no problem.  But the rest - especially the white sugar and flour - well, those are dangerous weapons in the war between health and disease.

BUT I'M A VEGETARIAN!!!  Right????

Apparently eating a cheese and veggie sandwich on wheat bread (not whole grain - there is a difference), with pretzels instead of chips (because that's healthier - or so I thought), and some fruit and a cookie for dessert just aren't cutting it.  Now, understand, this was the 2010 version of me; not the new and improved 2011, non-stop veggie and fruit - can't eat cheese anymore because of the pain - buying raw nuts and flax crackers - no eating grains unless they are whole - me.  :)  Now I know the following.

  • Pretzels are refined white flour, full of sodium (a.k.a. a high blood sugar and high blood pressure cocktail)
  • Cheese is not my friend anymore
  • Whole grains (and not too many of them) are the key
  • No cookie for dessert - stick with the fruit and save the cookie for a special occasion
  • Nutrition is interesting and sad all at the same time
  • Being a grown up and responsible for my own health is tough

My brain hurts.  All I can think is that I need to keep reading and getting it figured out.  The dangers of chemicals, pesticides, hormones and other toxins in our foods... makes me want to move to Montana and grow my own food!  And I have never even been to Montana :)

Here's a little something for those of you who absolutely insist on eating meat... "Study after study confirms one basic truth: the higher your intake of meat and other animal products, the higher your risk of heart disease and cancer, especially for the major cancers such as colon, breast, prostrate, and lung cancer." The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

Ahh well... one thing at a time.  And another weekend approaches, so in addition to studying, I can think about naps, baths, pedicures... and keep eating the good stuff, because any other way of doing it seems so much further away from who I strive to be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Feelin the burn - part II

Sometimes I seriously underestimate the amount of time I have available.  I have created this maddening existence for myself, working two jobs and staying busy most hours out of the day. Needless to say, exercise falls to the wayside during these times.

Monday started off well, because I didn't have to get up early to go to work.  I woke up late, got some exercise in at home (Walkin' Away The Pounds - don't laugh... it's not just for blue haired old ladies), took a bath, and got ready at my leisure.  Those are the days I like.  Yesterday was a different story...

After working a full day I had to dash to the grocery store so I could make a salad for dinner to share with a group of friends.  We were all bringing something, and salad was my task.  I had just enough time to make it and change clothes, and then head over to dinner.  It was a wonderful evening of conversation, good food, wine and spending time with dear friends.  By the time I made it home (after 9 p.m.), I just wanted to connect with my sweetie and go to bed.  No exercise for me :(

This morning, I was feelin' the burn in a different way.  Last nights meal didn't quite sit well with me... after (again) days with no dairy, having a wonderful cheese lasagna wasn't the best for my digestion.  And the desserts didn't help either... although they were so tasty!  So, this morning I started with my usual vinegar cleanse and it burned all the way down.  Breakfast was a spinach, blueberry, banana smoothie and is just sitting in my stomach.  Not enjoyable...

I am drinking lots of water and had a little peppermint water (eases digestion and soothes irritated stomach), and that seems to be helping.  I will continue to eat some plain veggies and fruit today and take it easy.  All of this is really making me think about going back to my vegan ways permanently.  Seriously, food is meant to nourish - not cause pain.  I recently read that 75% of the world's population is lactose intolerant.  Millions of people suffer from G.I. pain and symptoms related to lactose intolerance, yet most of those people persist.  Why?  Calcium is the main reason dairy products are marketed.  But, there are less irritating sources of calcium in the form of leafy greens.  Here is some info I found from

Here is some information from the American Heart Association about Vegetarian Diets:
Calcium: Studies have shown that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than do nonvegetarians. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products are good sources of calcium from plants.

Here is yet more information from the Vegetarian Pages:
Everything you ever wanted to know about calcium in 5 easy lessons
High protein diets appear to lead to increased calcium losses. Calcium requirements for those on lower protein, plant-based diets are believed to be below the usual recommendations. (previously at:
Most studies have shown that high doses of calcium do not slow bone loss. In fact, many populations with high intakes of calcium also have high rates of osteoporosis[5], probably because their high protein intake causes significant calcium loss...
The type of protein may also be important. At least one study shows that soy protein, even at high levels, does not increase calcium excretion the same way that protein from animal sources does

According to the article, The Great American Milk Myth, by Dr. Charles R. Attwood :
"Good bone density attained by the age of 18-25 usually lasts a lifetime for people who consume a balanced plant-based diet and remain physically active. The problem with milk and other dairy products is that they are not only rich in calcium but they are also high in protein, which has been shown to create calcium loss through the urinary tract."

 Good stuff, right?  Hopefully, by the end of the day, I will be feeling the burn the right way (good ol' exercise) after an evening trip to the gym.  And my digestion will be back on track...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Movin' That Body...

So, after a week of clean eating and some skin detoxing, here are the results...

Skin - glowing.  Without any foundation on, I had two compliments on my skin.  One wanted to know what I was doing (yay).  The feet have healed and my skin is soft all over.  I feel like I have a good routine.  One detox mask and one hydrating mask on the weekends, and then let it go.  Light (and I do stress light) scrubbing on the feet ONCE a week at the most.  Skin brushing daily and heavy moisture in this cold, dry time of year.  I haven't yet gotten into parabens and what I am putting on my skin, but that's coming up.

Body - feeling good.  I feel healthy and clean and am craving lots of vegetables each day.  I didn't eat much dairy this week, until yesterday.  I had to teach all day and one of  my students made potato soup for the group lunch, that was very creamy.  While I knew it was full of fat, I decided to indulge with a small serving, but promptly followed it with a clementine and some prunes.  About an hour after I ate, I had abdominal pain and cramping.  I kept drinking the water though, and when I got home in the evening, the pain was gone and no other ill effects were felt.  Whew! (BTW- I am so glad I passed on dessert - S'mores made with Fudge stripe cookies and Reese's Peanut Butter cups.  My arteries started hardening as I watched my students devour that nonsense!)

Since my clothes are feeling comfortable and/or a bit loose, I decided to hop on the scale.  I was pleased to see that I had lost 4 pounds, a feat I have been unable to accomplish without lots of exercise and serious calorie counting.  Yay, me.  I am motivated to keep this eating style up (I did have some dark chocolate and some wine, and feel good about it - no dieting for me anymore), and made a trip to the local Co-Op today to stock up on some healthy food options.  Vegan burritos with whole wheat tortillas and homemade salsa and guacamole for dinner tonight...mmm...

This week's focus is on the fitness.  I am going to step up my activity to daily workouts.  Nothing crazy, just moving my body every day.  Last night, I read about how we have moved from an active society to a society that sits - in the car, at the office, at home at night, etc.  It made me want to move just to prove the author wrong.  But he was right.  I HAVE to exercise in order to feel good.  The benefits are endless... less stress, easier digestion, improved cardiovascular function, better sleep, and on and on.

And, I bet after this week, I can put on the jeans that are in the back of my closet (you know the ones - they taunt you and make you think of thinner, hotter times in your life) - I am going to move them to the front for the extra motivation on those mornings when I want to stay in bed.  Maybe I will sleep with the closet door open...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Very Long Day

Yesterday was a long day for me.  I had to be at the school at 8 (I got there at 8:06 - that's 8:00 in Charlynn time), and I was in class for the majority of the day.  I was thankful that I had made some steel cut oats ahead of time so I could just add some soy milk, raisins, raw almonds, spices, and honey.   A quick reheat and I was out the door.  My very brief lunch was veggie soup and a rather large salad from the evening before.  Then I was out of the school at 4:16 and on my way to my office for a 5:00 client, followed by a 6:30 client.  On the way home, I realized that I didn't plan ahead for supper, so I had to stop at the grocery store and then walked in the door at 8:00.  Whew!  I am tired just thinking about it.

When all was said and done, I had consumed around 13-14 servings of fruits and vegetables.  My snacks were clementines, carrot sticks, and dinner was a fruit smoothie made of frozen peaches, frozen cherries and berries, dates and soy milk, and some very healthy multi-grain tortilla chips.  Quite the variety!  I have been trying to eat the whole rainbow of colors in my fruits and veggies, so I can get the most nutrients out of my food.  The big thing I noticed was that I wasn't really hungry between meals (if you know me, you know this is NOT typical for me).  I also had no desire to eat the chocolate that was sitting on the desk at the office.  WHAT??!!!!  I don't know who I am right now.

I over-indulged (for me) at the holidays.  With the idea of a wellness project ahead of me, I wanted to make sure to taste all the things I wanted while I had the chance, so I could remember the flavors.  I wasn't trying to cram as much in before the big purge or anything... I just wanted to not have any limitations.  However, I got to the point the week after Christmas, that I just didn't want anything sweet anymore.  And I didn't want wine.  Two of my main vices...  So, I guess my body was ready for a change.  In fact, I had a bit of a stomach thing that week which began my cleaning out process, so to speak.

I am not imposing any calorie restrictions or saying I won't eat certain things right now.  I guess I am just trying to give myself a period of time of eating the most nutrient dense foods possible.  And it's working.  My clothes feel a little looser.  My digestion is balancing out.  I am not craving sweets.  Who knew?  This is all stuff I have read about, but have been too chicken (soy chicken for me ha, ha) to try to the full extent.

I am very happy to report that my feet are healing rapidly and my skin is back to it's un-splotchy norm.  And it is much softer.  So, I am preparing for another weekend of baths, scrubs, facials and naps - yippee skippy! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Too much of a good thing?

I think I have been overdoing it a bit...

In my zeal for wellness, I tend to want to try all things at once.  All the natural masks, all the detox drinks, add all the vegetables to my salad... you get the drift.  Well, I love my new Ped-Egg - given to me by my loving and remorseful spouse (about the car thing yesterday), however, I have scrubbed my feet to the point of sores.  :(  My new, baby soft soles didn't fare so well at the gym yesterday - sores plus now blisters.  Thankfully, I didn't have to teach today so I could hobble around the house in agony with no one to share my pain with.

I have been eating lots (and I mean lots) of fruits and vegetables.  So many that I feel like my skin has a slight green tinge.  I didn't think there could be too much eating of the good stuff.  Needless to say, again, I am glad I have been home most of the day and not too far from my bathroom.  I won't go any further there...

Last, but not least, I noticed that while my skin feels supremely soft after the honey and egg facial from yesterday, I now have red spots on my skin.  Definitely over-doing this stuff; but I live and I learn.

As I move forward on my life's path, I continue to read and educate myself about nutrition.  I am currently embarking on an educational move that will land me some holistic nutrition and life coaching to my credentials :)  I am immensely excited about this, and will hopefully, add some skills to my (current) bag of tricks.  Already on my bookshelves I have some great books that have changed the way I view my health through my food - Eat To Live and Eat for Health - by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eating Well for Optimal Health by Dr. Andrew Weil, and SuperFoods by Dr. Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews.  Good stuff if you want to look at your food as medicine and want to live a long and healthy life.  I am excited for what the next phase in my educational development brings...

In the meantime, I am going to try to cool my jets a bit with the treatments (not the fruits and veggies - in time my digestion will normalize again).  Once a week with the facials and scrubs - what's the point of healthy skin if you scrub it all off, right? ;)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Not my day... oh well...

As I was heading to the gym this morning, I noticed on a local convenience store sign in big letters, "20 Different Microwavable Sandwiches!"  I had to laugh out loud because I was thinking, how many ways can crap be made and then microwaved?  Well, I guess at least 20, right?  Are you kidding me?  What are we doing to our bodies? 

It's a good thing this sign was up because before that, I wasn't in the best mood. Not a morning person, my desire to get up on a not-as-cold-as-it-could-be-in-January-in-Iowa morning is generally very low.  Getting up and going to the gym usually ranks somewhere around cleaning the bathroom and balancing my checkbook - a necessary evil.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy moving my body and I think sweat is very cleansing.  It's the getting up part that irks me.  Especially on Monday.  In January.  Add to that the fact that my spouse backed into the front of my car in the early morning rush to get out of the driveway, and my morning was off to the stellar start that it was.

I was dreading the gym because I know that it's post-holiday resolution time.  Fighting for a treadmill, bumping butts in the locker room, waiting for a shower - ugh.  Not my idea of fun.  Give me a 3:00 in the afternoon on a sunny day in May walk outside anytime; gym - not so much. 

But I went, and I felt better on the elliptical.  Felt even better on the treadmill.  And then I got to the point that I love - the reward, so to speak - Steam Room.  Sitting in all that eucalyptus-y moisture while deep conditioning my hair... ahhh... heaven.  Suddenly, the stress of the morning didn't seem to exist.  Maybe it was the heat combined with the endorphins, but all I could think about was that silly sign, and I had to laugh again.  No more anger about the car or hating Monday morning.  My good mood continued even when I dropped my jar of moisturizer in the locker room and it broke all over everything.

As the lady in the swimming cap next to me so eloquently put it, "Well, some days just don't start out right."  I agreed with her and laughed.  I replied, "It can only get better from here."  And it has.  As I drove home past the sign promising microwaved delights, I reveled in the shining sun of the morning.  I knew that what awaited me at home was a hearty, healthy breakfast that had nothing to do with processed food.  I also knew that I got my workout in and over with and would have a healthy glow for the rest of the day.  Not too bad, for not being my day.  :)

This is what I like to do to start my morning off with a cleanse.  Take 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, add to 1 tsp of honey and 1 slice of lemon in 4-6 ounces of warm water.  It starts the day off with a kick and is good for many things, from cholesterol to acne.  The vinegar is hard on teeth, so I like to brush my teeth after I drink my tonic.  Then I enjoy my breakfast and brush again.

Speaking of honey - which is a wonderful thing, I heard about using honey as a natural face mask.  I am off to give it a try to add to my steam and exercise glowing skin.  1 Tbsp of honey with 1 egg yolk and 1tsp of olive oil.  Mix together and add to the skin for a moisturizing mask.  Leave on for 20 minutes and remove with a warm, moist washcloth.

Off to further enjoy this day ...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What I have been eating...

Just a sampling of some of my meals over the past few days...

Steel cut oats with raisins and raw almonds, flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and honey.

Whole grain baguette with hummus, spinach, broccoli slaw, tomatoes, lettuce, flavored with balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil

Homemade vegetable soup with beans and whole grain bread

Banana, mixed berry smoothie with soy milk


2011 Wellness Adventure

I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions.  I think they set us up to fail.  At least mine have in the past.  I am, however, a goal setter.  I like to set goals to achieve and like the Type A personality that I am not, make lists to check off accomplishments.

I think it started when I was learning how to write.  I remember my parents got me a chalk board with the alphabet printed on top.  I would spend time mimicking the letters, instead of drawing pictures (like I wanted to).  I had to practice writing upper and lowercase letters until I had mastered them.  And then I was able to use the colored chalk... what a big deal!  I wanted to use that chalk from the moment I saw all the colors taunting me in that new cardboard package.  So, my first goal was born in the desire to use all the colors in the rainbow to draw pictures with.

My goal for this next year, is to practice what I preach.  I am a licensed massage therapist and a massage therapy educator.  Wellness is my life, yet it is something I seek on a daily basis.  I want to be the example to my students and clients, and ultimately to myself, about what health and holistic living look like.  I have been on this quest for balance since the age of 20, and finally at 35, feel like I am prepared to completely take the leap.

Let me preface all of this by saying that I am not looking for perfection.  I don't want to be a size 0, or start modeling for JC Penney (ha), I just want to be a person who radiates healthy vitality.  I have always struggled with my weight.  Pleasantly plump is ok with me as long as I can jog when I want to, maintain my flexiblity, keep my blood pressure and cholesterol low and like the way I look most days.  And stay pain free - which has been a challenge for me (at times) as a massage therapist.

So I begin here...  It's not about the numbers or the weight loss, so forgive me for not posting those numbers.  I have in the past proudly displayed my weight on weight loss websites, at Weight Watcher's meetings, and to various support groups.  In truth, I am over all of that.  I feel like this weight battle is too all consuming these days.  We as a society are on this binge-purge roller coaster that feels like sheer madness.  We eat too much of the wrong things, then go on crazy diets in order to achieve this unrealistic fantasy ideal of what a body should look like.  Been there, done that.  I choose, instead, to focus on what is going in and coming out of my body.  How close to the original food it remains, and how I let it go (digestion, folks).  How I feel, what my skin looks like, how my clothes feel on my very real body, how I sleep at night, how I move, etc.

I have been a vegetarian for nearly three years (because I really don't like the taste of most meat), and have ranged from the lazy vegetarian (eating chips, candy, french fries, chocolate, cheese) to the extreme vegan.  My weight has dropped 30 pounds and then regained 30 pounds.  Namely, after I introduced dairy products back into my diet....  so, my diet for now is going to be about whole foods - grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, and very little dairy.  I am not trying to deprive, just trying to eat the foods that make my body feel good.

I am going to stretch my body (yoga) and get some good cardio in most days of the week through walking and light jogging.  And I am going to lift weights, which I have found the most beneficial in staying pain free for my profession.

I am eliminating parabens and SLS in my body and hair products.  I am drinking lots of water, and using some natural, non extreme methods to help my body detoxify.  Lemons, pure unfiltered apple cider vinegar, bentonite clay for my skin, vitamin E and plenty of moisture.

And rest is a priority.  8 hours a night and naps on the weekends :)

I will continue to write about the progress of my wellness adventure and share the things I am learning about myself.

Yours in health....