Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

A little less airy fairy and a little more substance

For the last month or so I have not felt much like myself.

It’s been hard to concentrate – to the point that expressing a single, coherent thought sometimes seemed like a challenge. Needless to say, teaching has been quite the experience this term 😉

I began looking into what’s changed for me recently.

Additional stress? Check.

Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep? Not at all.

Competing demands in my most salient and committed social roles? You bet.

Changed absolutely everything about my diet (that is going from maybe 30 to 95% raw) in the the last six months? Yep.

Changed my body at a biophysical level? That too.

The weird thing is that I actually feel great. Post the 10 Week Transformation Program with Rose Cole, which included a 31 day cleanse, I have a lot more energy, fewer blood sugar spikes, fewer cravings (except for that week where Michael J and I went on a slight raw honey binge), and when I do sleep, it’s always deep and restful.

So, what could be the problem?

Yesterday, Michael J forwarded me a link to Laura Bruno’s blog. Laura Bruno is a professional intuitive who has helped people deal with cancer, addictions, endocrine imbalances, grief, infections, fibromyalgia, stroke, and weight loss. Her specialties include diet and herbal remedies, menopause, communication, soul readings, illnesses that baffle doctors, dream interpretation, and finding blessings in times of crisis.

I must admit, my initial reaction was you’re a what?! But as I tamped down my skepticism of anything that smacks even remotely of “woo-woo,” the following paragraph practically jumped off the page:

Sometimes raw foodists have a difficult time staying “grounded.” They enjoy the clarity and high of 100% raw food but after awhile start feeling spacey, out of body or generally disconnected from “the real world.” If this describes you, then eating locally can help in two ways. First, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you will drastically reduce the amount of airy fairy yin foods in your diet because bananas, coconuts and cacao don’t grow in Pennsylvania or New Hampshire. Or England. Second, eating food grown within 1-50 miles of where you live anchors you to that locale. Raw foodies like to say, “You are what you eat.” Indeed, you are also “Where you eat.” If you have trouble with “Be here now,” try working in some local goodies. It really does help!

Hmph. A professional intuitive? Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

But what I do know now is she’s got one more dedicated reader!

Luckily for me, we’re finally heading into spring in my little corner of the world, so a lot of the foods that I naturally like to eat – kale, chard, etc. – are coming in locally. Hopefully this means that things will start looking up.

However, until spring has fully sprung, I will do my best to start incorporating more macrobiotic principles into the diet – even if it’s something as simple as remembering to better chew my food.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted either way and do my best to keep my head out of the clouds and my feet firmly planted on the ground.

50 Nutrition Tips for Better Brain Functioning

An awesome list of tips for improving brain functioning. Surprised by the coffee and relieved to see all of my favorite spices, from turmeric to cinnamon! Michael J, of course, is feeling particularly smug about the chocolate!

50 Nutrition Tips to Better Your Brain

Everything from tonics to drinks nowadays claims to have fantastic properties. Losing weight, increasing stamina, and even sexual prowess are just some of the claims made by today’s latest wonder drugs. But if looking for a simple brain boost to pass a test, make a presentation, or other task, what are the best ways to naturally increase your brain power?

Below we have gathered 50 nutrition tips to better your brain the all-natural, diet way. They include foods to get lots of, along with options to stay away from.

Read more

Considering I’m off the meat and dairy bandwagon, I did surprising well! How about you?

Treating your body as an equal

I was listening to an audio recording with wellness coach Jena LaFlamme, who posited, among other things, that in order for you to be successful in your weight release efforts, you have to learn to “treat your body as an equal.”

While I was still trying to figure out what that even meant, she went onto to point out we tend to blame our body for it’s failure to comply with the mind’s demands (i.e., to be thinner, to be healthier, to be stronger). That we try to force our body to do what we want it to do. That we, all to often, feel betrayed for our body for failing to meet our expectations.

Although I had been listening all along, when she used that word – the ugly b-word – I sat up and took notice.

How many times have I used that word in the last six months?

More importantly, how often have I said out loud (or thought without speaking, but that my body could hear nonetheless) that I just couldn’t trust my body.

Isn’t it funny that when my body is doing what I want it to do, I take full credit, but when it’s not (or rather, when I’m not) I blame my body. It only makes me feel marginally better that that’s the way it tends to go for most people. That is, we, as humans, tend to take all the credit for the successes and shirk all of the responsibility (that we can) for the failures.

I hadn’t realized however – that is, until I heard this recording – that I did the same with my body.

My willpower got the credit. My body, as if it weren’t actually a part of me, got the blame.

Pretty interesting, huh?

Pretty sad.

So, in the interest of facilitating my weight loss efforts and minimizing my tendency towards negative self-talk I am willing to accept the fact that there is two of us: the brain (which houses the willpower) and the body.

And I am also willing to entertain the notion that we need a relationship intervention.

And that means that I – that is, my brain, my willpower, my conscious thought (or whatever you want to call it) – is going to have to learn to treat my body as an equal. And that means that I am going to have to start listening to, start trusting, and stop betraying her.

I know that earlier in this post I said that I often felt betrayed by my body. So, if my body is the betrayer, then why would I have to work on not betraying her?

Well, when I started thinking of my body as an equal – even preliminarily – I realized that I (i.e., my mind) has been a worse friend to my body than my body has ever been to me. I’m the one that made the decisions to eat junk, to drink alcohol, to exercise to the point of injury (or not at all), to deprive us of sleep, etc. You name it – with the exception of a few truly dangerous and disgusting habits – I’ve done it.

And what has she done? Well, she’s got me where I want to go and she’s – thankfully – stored fat to protect me from all of the stress of my bad decision making. (For those of you who have been following my efforts at weight release, you probably realize how hard it was for me to actually put that last sentence into writing!)

So, in the interest of creating a true relationship with my body, who is my equal as opposed to being my possession that I can neglect, abuse, or blame at will, I will do my level best to listen, trust, honor, safeguard, nurture, and love.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to create lasting change in your life is through the use of positive affirmations – affirmations are statements that are positive, have an emotional intensity, and are written in the present tense. I will say these these – both morning and night – until, eventually, they’ll be true:

  • I listen to my body
  • I trust my body
  • I honor my body
  • I safeguard my body
  • I nurture my body
  • I love my body

Exercise and Weight Loss (or Not)

Fascinating (albeit somewhat depressing) article on the effects of exercise on weight loss.

Lots of science! And backs up my own experience of rapidly dropping weight after dropping the heavy duty calorie burns associated with spinning!

Favorite quote, which explains a lot:

In practical terms, the results are scientific proof that life is unfair. Female bodies, inspired almost certainly “by a biological need to maintain energy stores for reproduction,” Braun says, fight hard to hold on to every ounce of fat. Exercise for many women (and for some men) increases the desire to eat.

This isn’t the first article I’ve read that has caused me to rethink my attitude on exercise. For a less scientific, but perhaps more human perspective, check it out here!

Meanwhile, I’m off to do some yoga and get some sleep – two strategies that are (or at least still) consistently associated with shedding unwanted pounds.

Namaste and goodnight.

Hudson News Find

I am traveling again – and hope to have a better day than the last time I took for the skies (it’s not looking all that promising, since I couldn’t find the bus station what I needed to find to actually get to the airport, but the day is young and the skies are blue).

While browsing in one of the many Hudson News magazine stores at Boston Logan, I found – much to my surprise – that they carry raw pistachios and raw almonds. Of course they cost an arm and a leg, but that’s beside the point. It’s good to know that they’re there and available should the need arise.

Unfortunately, Hudson News also carries a lot of other things – like a ton of trashy/pulp novels that I really shouldn’t be reading, as I have plenty of other more serious things that warrant my attention.

However, my goal is to make it through the day without rewarding/comforting myself with food – so light fiction here I come. If I get as little sleep tonight as I got last night, I’ll have plenty of time to get everything done (and then some).

A Quasi-Sociological Take on the Causes of Obesity

Great article on obesity from Marc Ambinder (May 2010 issue of The Atlantic).

If you eat food or know anyone who does, I heartily recommend you check it out!

By 2015, four out of 10 Americans may be obese. Until last year, the author was one of them. The way he lost one-third of his weight isn’t for everyone. But unless America stops cheering The Biggest Loser and starts getting serious about preventing obesity, the country risks being overwhelmed by chronic disease and ballooning health costs. Will first lady Michelle Obama’s new plan to fight childhood obesity work, or is it just another false start in the country’s long and so far unsuccessful war against fat?

Stepping Out of The Vault (Raw Food Rehab)

At the beginning of the year, I joined Raw Food Rehab, a wonderful on-line resource for those interested in raw food, and checked myself into “The Vault.” The Vault is one of the site’s private rooms – meaning that it’s members only – where you can go to get extra accountability for your weight loss and health goals.

Penni Shelton, the cruise director, if you will, routinely organizes 11 Week Health Initiatives that encourage members to eat more raw foods in their daily lives.

She also posts wonderful recipes and inspirational videos that tap into the inner game of weight loss, and – on occasion – she encourages us to move our bodies.

Although all members of Raw Food Rehab are invited to participate in the 11 Week Initiative, the Vault-lings (as those brave people in the Vault endearingly called) actually commit to posting their before photos, starting measurements, and starting weight at the beginning of the initiative. Then, they are required to log their weight every week, upon threat (and reality) of expulsion. At the end, they post their after pictures, ending weight, etc.

Despite my own aversion to scales, I did this. And it was great.

At the end of the first 11 Week Initiative for 2010 I had lost 14 pounds; and I am now the smallest that I can remember being – ever! An additional and unexpected bonus was the number of good e-friends I made along the way!

The next 11 Week Initiative started yesterday, and after much soul searching, I decided to sit it out. I feel a little remorse about this decision. I also feel a little disappointment.

This disappointment, by the way, is directed not at Raw Food Rehab, the Vault, nor even my own performance during the last initiative.

Instead, this disappointment lies squarely in my own inability to see that the little number that appears behind a pane of clear plastic is not an indictment of my entire person, but is, rather, a tool to help me reach – and to maintain – my goals.

Essentially I have come to the conclusion that I am still too emotionally tied to the scale.

Although I know – rationally – that the scale is just an inanimate object, I still give it the power to mess up my day, if not my week.

This is particularly ironic, because given my current weight, I just don’t see me losing any more weight. More to the point, I don’t really think that I need to.

What I do need to do, however, is tone up and add muscle.

A little deeper personal excavation revealed that the real problem lies in the fact that I am having a hard time accepting – at an identity level – that I actually have reached my desired – if not ideal – weight.

What this means is that whenever I see the actual number, I freak out (and eat).

However, if the number goes up, I also freak out (and, you guessed it, eat more).

And, even harder to explain, if the number goes down, I also freak out (which manifests itself not in depression, anger, and disappointment [see above] but in joy, excitement and fear). Regardless of the emotional cocktail, the result is the same: I eat. Specifically, I eat until the number goes back up and it starts all over again.

It really is a no-win situation.

When I think about it, rationally, I can see that the chances of my gaining weight over the next 11 weeks are actually pretty high. Not that I am giving my permission to gain fat, mind you, but I do intend on adding muscle as I continue to work towards my goal of doing 100 consecutive push ups (I did 69 today, btw), and do yoga, K-Bells, and Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred.

So instead of focusing on weight, my personal goals for the next 11 weeks are to 1) stay in my skinny pants, 2) lose another inch off my waist, 3) tone up the crepe-like skin on my arms and thighs, and 4) rid myself of my limiting beliefs about what I do and do not (and should and should not) look like/weigh, etc.

I hope that I’m not just chickening out, but I acknowledge that that is a possibility.

Notably, this is the exact place where I lost my mind when I did Weight Watchers about 20 years ago, and then I still weighed about 10 pounds more than I do now.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Until then, enjoy the day!

Happy Belated Anniversary

Wow!

I just glanced over the the sidebar on this blog and realized that I have been writing about these last ten pounds for about a year now; since April 3, 2009 to be exact!

A lot has happened.

I started buying information products on health and fitness.

I went gluten-free.

I stopped spinning.

I started working with a coach.

I learned to love yoga.

I went raw.

I did my first fast (10 days consuming nothing but limeade made with organic limes, Grade B maple syrup, and cayenne pepper) and then followed that up with a 21 day sugar detox cleanse (well, 24 since I haven’t actually had any sugar yet – though, technically, I could)!

I met my weight release goal – in fact, I blew right past it without even knowing it.

I saw a number that I never thought I’d actually see on the scale – at least not while I had both feet on the surface!

I lost 4 pants sizes. Indeed, not to toot my own horn too much, I am sitting here typing in my pair of aspirational pants from the Gap (in case you missed that post, they’re a size 2). And more to the point, they actually fit – well. Further, still, I’m not at home afraid to go out in them lest they split with the slightest touch of resistance; I’m sitting in my office, where I’ve been meeting comfortably and confidently with students for hours.

I got Michael J to eat beets! 😉

It’s been a good year – strange, exciting, and unexpected, but awesome! Over the next few days, I’ll be setting some new goals. Because for the first time in my life, I don’t need to lose weight. It’s really awe-inspiring. I can only imagine the kind space of energy that simple fact alone is going to open up in the brain.

I’ll keep you posted.

Post Easter Brunch Sugar Coma

Let me preface this by saying that I had the most delightful brunch today. I had a wonderful time catching up with friends and family in an environment which was definitely more people focused than food focused, which is such a wondrous change from most holiday gatherings I’ve attended.

Having said that, I also had an important insight that will serve me well as I start adding sugar back into my diet.

Here it goes: have you ever been in a situation where everyone around you – except you – is drunk?

That’s sort of what it felt like today, post-Easter brunch as I watched everyone around me slip into a sugar induced coma.

So, what is a sugar coma?

A sugar coma occurs because you eat too many calories – and too much sugar – in one setting. When this happens, an alarm literally goes off in your body, causing you to secrete insulin. Insulin is a hormone that pulls sugar out of your blood stream and stores it as fat. Insulin, unfortunately, is a rather efficient hormone. One could actually say that it’s too efficient, because insulin doesn’t just get rid of the excess sugar in your blood; it gets rid of all of the sugar in your blood. Then, when you don’t have enough sugar, you get tired, irritable, grumpy, and, let’s not forget hungry, which more often than not sets off another whole cycle of overeating.

Today, after brunch, I watched – like clockwork – as six reasonably healthy adults all pretty much dropped into a sugar coma within an hour (maybe two) of having finished eating. Without exception, every single adult (the kids, interestingly were unaffected; but then again, they’re still at the age where you have to convince them to eat!) started yawning and a couple of them even nodded off in their chairs.

Me, I felt completely energized. Moreover, I was relieved that I had foregone the regularly scheduled meal, despite the fact that it looked and smelled absolutely delicious! And based on the comments and expressions of rapturous delight around me, probably tasted just as good as it looked.

So, what constitutes a “normal” holiday brunch? I think this is a reasonable question, because I realize that my definition of normal is so far outside of the norm these days that it’s probably irrelevant.

This particular one consisted of mimosas, french toast, maple syrup, brioche eggs, spiralized ham, steamed asparagus, and green peas, followed up by a round of tea/coffee and an assortment of cookies and jam. (Actually, this brunch was pretty tame compared to those I remember from childhood, where there undoubtedly would have been some sort of “Easter Cake,” not to mention the infamous “Easter Baskets.”)

Me, I stuck to my aforementioned menu of Sunburst Salad, Black Sesame Bread, and Black Pepper Cheeze.

And though no one joined me in my offerings, as I didn’t choose to join them in theirs, I felt completely comfortable sitting down to break bread and catch up.

I think that the post-brunch-sugar-coma was so noticeable to me this time because I have spent the last month balancing my blood sugar and was therefore completely unperturbed by any rise or fall of blood sugar and, consequently, insulin following my meal. Also, there was nothing in the meal that would have caused my blood sugar to spike in the first place.

In addition to simply having had a wonderful visit with family and friends, today provided a really good reminder for me – as someone who is about to re-enter the world of sugar – to take it slowly (if at all).

As I noted previously, today is the last day of the 21 Day Sugar Detox, so as of tomorrow I can start adding sugar back into my diet. Judiciously.

Lesson from today: when I start adding certain foods back into my diet, I need to think not only about how good it’s going to taste going in, but also how it’s going to make me feel 2 hours, 2 days, and even – believe it or not – 2 years from now.

Does that mean that I won’t get any enjoyment out of my food for the rest of my life? No. But it does mean that I will continue to strive to eat the kind of food (that is, food that I actually do enjoy) that will allow me enjoy my life to its fullest.

The Sunburst Salad

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it and Happy Spring to those who don’t.

Today, which happens to be the last day of my 21Day Sugar Detox Cleanse, I am heading to MJ’s parents for holiday brunch.

Though their menu sounds absolutely scrumptious, there is not a single thing on the menu that wouldn’t put me into toxic shock having had nothing sweet in my system for a full three weeks!

Thank goodness they don’t care if you bring your own so to speak as long as you show up! It is after all – or at least should be – all about the people as opposed to all about the food.

So I am bringing some Black Sesame Seed Bread and Black Pepper Cashew Cheeze (courtesy of Ani Phyo) and my new favorite dinner option now that it’s warmed up: what I call “The Sunburst Salad.”

Recipe:

Several cups of spinach, mescalin, etc.

1 shredded golden beet
1 shredded zucchini
1 shredded red beet
1 shredded carrot (make sure to limit to 1/2 cup per serving if you’re on a sugar cleanse)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

And anything else you might have on hand as long as it’s suitably gorgeous!

Dress with juice of 1 lemon, 2 limes, extra virgin olive oil, and Braggs Liquid Aminos.

It’s seriously delicious!

Something tells me that I am going to love being raw in the spring and summer months and may be looking for work in warmer climates from here on out!

One Hundred Pushups

My colleague invited me to join her in her quest to do 100 consecutive push ups. Since I’m normally the extreme exerciser in the office – though not so much lately – I agreed to join her.

My initial test yielded 18 good push-ups; obviously I’ve lost quite a bit since my back to back P90X days!

Anyone care to join us? Come on, you can even get your very own iPhone app to keep you motivated. How much fun is that?

Regardless, I’ll keep you posted periodically as to my (our) progress!