Archive for the ‘health’ Category

The Hidden Hazards of…Herbal Tea?

Over the last two years, I have had problems with water. Not the water I drink, but rather the water in my body. I suffer inexplicable bloating, I retain it, I have ridiculous thirsts, and I find myself running – sometimes tripping over the cat in my haste – to the bathroom. Sometimes I get there without mishap; sometimes I don’t.

As a result of all of these seemingly shifting tides, I’ve been known to head to the Wal-Mart in the second nearest town in the middle of the night to purchase Poise, as I certainly don’t want to be seen in my local CVS with the telltale pink and turquoise package.

So, if I’m so embarrassed by my recent predicament that I’m willing to go 20 miles out of my way to avoid the stigmatizing exposure associated with mild urinary incontinence then why the heck am I writing a blog about it, you ask. Good question. The answer: because I’m willing to face the mild embarrassment to get this information known. Besides, when you admit something publicly, it loses its sting. Or maybe I am tired of being what Erving Goffman refers to as discreditable and have decided to discredit myself openly and on my terms.

Notably this biggest, most stigmatizing water problem varies by the season. It tends to get worse in the winter and all but disappear in the summer. Weird, huh?

And as we are heading into what seems like the sixth month of winter, I have been at my wit’s end, seriously. I have tried meditating. I have a regular appointment with an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, who assures me that healthy kidneys – at least from the Chinese perspective – are the seat of good health. In fact, at our last appointment, he asked me if I still drank coffee.

Nope. But, I told him proudly, I drink a ton of herbal tea.

What kind?

What kind? What do you mean, ‘What kind?’! It’s herbal tea, for God’s sake.

I mean what kind. Not all herbal tea is the same. They all have different energies and, therefore, different effects on the body.

Well, Tazo’s Sweet Wild Orange, Cinnamon Apple, and Orange Spice.

Do they have hibiscus in them?

Uhm, I think so.

Hibiscus is a diuretic.

What?!

So, essentially, when I had replaced my daily water intake with herbal tea (which “everyone” – everyone other than my Chinese herbalist acupuncturist, that is, tells you is cool), I was essentially downing 8 – 10 cups of a pretty powerful diuretic. One that also has, in clinical trials, been shown to lower blood pressure. (Last time I was at the doctor, my blood pressure was 86/45.)

Do you know what happens when you get dehydrated (which diuretics will do)? You retain water.

Do you know what happens when you drink 64 to 80 ounces of diuretics? You spend a lot of time running to the bathroom, not to mention quite a bit of time skulking around the pharmacy section of a big box store in a town where no one knows your name.

My prescription: start drinking tea (even green tea) that does not contain hibiscus.

Do you know how hard it is to find an herbal tea (other than chamomile, which is undoubtedly the Coors Light of herbal tea) without hibiscus? Pretty darned hard, as it turns out. Apparently all fruit flavored teas – including Blueberry – have hibiscus as their number one ingredient. Who knew?

I ended up with three boxes – all from Celestial Seasonings: Bengal Spice, Honey Vanilla Chamomile, and Green Tea Honey Lemon Ginseng. So far, the Bengal Spice is pretty tasty – beneath a veritable explosion of cinnamon, it has a nice under flavor of almonds.

So, I’m drinking more water, I’m drinking less hibiscus tea – actually, no hibiscus tea. And, big surprise, I am holding on to less water, and more often than not, I have time to stop and pet the cat on the way to the ladies room. All in all, it’s a win-win.

The more I learn about my body, the more I realize that there’s always more to learn. In my next life, I want to be a holistic health care practitioner and I hope I live in a world where all forms of knowledge – Eastern or Western – are easily accessible, available, and appreciated.

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Exiting the Roller Coaster (Becoming My Own Expert)

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while now. It’s definitely been a long time coming.

Exiting the Roller Coaster – appropriate, but not necessarily enlightening.

Becoming My Own Expert – probably a little more elucidating.

How about, Reclaiming the Owner’s Manual?

Last year was a year of experimentation and disappointments for me in terms of my health, my motivation, and – let’s get real – my weight.

It started with the food allergies: gluten, dairy, soy, and – as much as it pains me to admit it – nuts.

In an attempt to deal with those, I went raw and for 4 or 5 months, I felt great. In fact, in May, I felt (and looked, lest we forget that I am much more shallow and vain than I had ever given myself credit for) better than I had in my entire life. I also weight in at a slight 132.5 (a whole 100 pounds from my high weight recorded in the Weight Watchers office at 21st and Sheridan in 1986).

In June, things started to change.

My energy started flagging. I was no longer working. I could barely get out of bed and on the days that I managed it, I often spent the afternoons on the couch. I think the most worrisome thing for those closest to me was that I was no longer exercising. Not only did I not have the energy, I didn’t want to. Zero interest.

In an attempt to jumpstart my interest – in anything – I started looking to experts. I tried High Intensity Interval Training (which I hated) and, even though it worked for everyone else, it did nothing for me. I read a book where the authors suggested that counting calories was bad and that you should just eat slower and take more pleasure in your food.

Due to a strange twist of fate (numbness in my hands which resulted in a second degree burn), a neurologist did a panel of blood tests and as it turns out, I have Hashimoto’s disease, which means that my autoimmune system is attacking my thyroid. My chiropractor recommended that I start eating some cooked food. My health coach recommended that I start eating small amounts of animal protein at every meal and that I treat the underlying problem using herbal and nutritional supplements without taking the prescribed synthroid.

About this time, I also started working with a fitness coach, who convinced me to separate food from exercise. I took supplements, I cleansed. I didn’t take the medicine as prescribed. The thyroid numbers got worse and worse.

I took belly dancing, yoga. I danced in my living room.

You name it, I did it.

And I still felt like crap and still had no energy.

I cleansed again.

And still my clothes didn’t fit. In six months I had gained 16 pounds…. Ugly.

My mood swings were turning into tilt-a-whirls. I started the synthroid, while continuing the herbal treatment for the underlying adrenal exhaustion.

I have recalled my calorie tracking program and relinked calories in with calories out, even though I do know enough to know that not all calories are created equally.

This is not a New Year’s Resolution. This really is more of a state of the union. The state of the relationship between me and my body.

To date, we are stronger than we were just a few weeks ago.

Why? Because I’ve decided to stop listening to the experts and to really tune in to what I/we need to heal.

But trust us, we have a long way to go.

It’s funny, I used to know what worked for me, but in the last six months, I’ve felt completely out to sea. Not only out to sea, but out to sea without a map and, if truth be told, without a compass.

Over the next few days, I’m going to get serious about creating that map and putting it into place. I am also going to tune into the compass – that is, my intuitive knowledge about myself – that I have also been so steadfastly ignoring. I’m, importantly, I am going to use this blog as a personal and public tool for accountability as I turn this ship around and get headed in the right direction.

And over the next few weeks (and months, as I have no illusions that this can be undone as quickly as it was done), I will chronicle my fears, my frustrations, my joys, my successes, and my aspirations.

I love my body. It’s the only one I have and – barring all medical emergencies or miracles – the only one I’m likely ever to have.

If any of you would care to join me, I’d love for you to come along for the ride. Or if you’re simply willing to bear witness, I’d appreciate that too.

The Trials and Tribulations of Western Medicine and Aging

I burned my left hand about 5 weeks ago, now.

The doctor was concerned that I hadn’t felt it until it was too late. We started talking and I told him that I often lacked feeling in that hand, as well as on the outside of my right calf.

All this comes on the heels of a recent diagnosis of Raynaud’s.

Off to the neurologist I go – five weeks later, which would be yesterday.

I spent several hours hooked up to electrodes, being shocked and measured all over my body. It seemed spookily reminiscent of the Milgram experiment, but I digress.

Carpel tunnel in both wrists (no surprise there) and asymmetrical reflexes. Those two things alone warranted an appointment for a spinal MRI and blood test in the amount of 7 (yes, you read that right) 7 vials of blood!

Today I get a call from the doctor at my office – a few minutes before 6:00.

There were some abnormalities in the blood work.

It appears that my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test came back a 20. The “normal range” is 2.5 to 5.

“Have you had unexplained weight gain?”

Duh.

“Has your memory gotten worse?”

Check.

“Headaches?”

Check.

“Have you noticed a decrease in energy and overall motivation?”

(I started to ask if he’d been reading my blog!)

And then there were a few other questions you don’t need to know about….

Check. Check. And – you guessed it – check.

As a general rule I hate medicine and have lived my life to avoid it at all costs. However, I think that this is one I’m not going to be able to avoid.

Damn.

As my sister just so gently reminded me: “Getting old is not for sissies.”

Reboot Camp Continues – This Time, Exercise

As mentioned in a few earlier posts, I have really been struggling with my exercise routine.

This summer I decided to follow a couple of different HIIT exercise programs and while they were okay, for a while, I eventually felt like I was losing ground cardio-vascularly. Maybe it the fact that I was panting on the Nordic Track after just five minutes that gave it away – can anyone say, “Former Spinning Instructor”?

Since HIIT is all the rage, I decided that I simply must not be doing it right. Right?

Well, I logged into the members area for the program that I was doing on-line and all of the women that it was working for were using it as a supplement to their other cardio workouts! One woman in particular, was bragging about how it had really improved her training.

What training, you ask?

The training she was doing for her upcoming marathon!

No wonder it was working for her! Jeez!

I expressed my dismay about my less than optimal hit rate with my then current HIIT program to my personal coach (who is not, btw, my fitness coach) and she said, oh yeah, I do HIIT – it’s great. I’ll send you a workout and a mix tape. Make sure you do a 15 minute power walking a couple times a day in addition to these more bursty-type exercises.

Okay. Why not? I’ve tried everything else this summer….

So, I start with 15 minutes on the Nordic Track (HIIT style; 30:30 sec interval ratio) as a warm up.

The new HIIT workout (6 different exercises on a 60:60 second interval ratio)

Then 10 minutes cool down, back on the Nordic Track

I just about died.

Did I mention that twice a week, I’m supposed to do this not once a day, but twice?!

I feel bad about switching horses in midstream, so to speak, but that’s life!

Maybe I’ll mix in the other routines on the days that I’m supposed to do two sets.

Regardless, in just three days, I can already feel a big difference – and this time, in the right direction – in my body!

Go me!

I’ll keep you posted!

Eat more fat and eat less, period?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been told about the importance of eating high quality fats for weight loss (not to mention overall health more generally). And though it made sense, intellectually, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I mean, I’ve had a bottle of Udo’s 3-6-9 tablets in the fridge for well over two years and I may have – maybe – taken about a third of them.

A few weeks ago, I went to a nutritionist, who wanted to see a list of everything that had gone into my mouth for a week. SInce I was still counting calories then (more on my experiences not counting calories to come) I had a very detailed account of what I had been eating, not just for a week, but for months (if not years).

After about ten minutes of flipping through print outs she asked, “Where are you getting your fat from?”

I looked at her sort of funny and said, “Well, as you can see, I eat a lot of tahini. It used to be peanut butter, but I can’t control myself around that. I had switched to almond butter, because I didn’t like it as much and then eventually got to be just as much as a trigger food as peanut butter. Now it’s tahini.”

She flipped through another few pages. “Do you eat olive oil? Fish? Flax?”

Uhm, not really. Mainly I had stopped eating all of that stuff because my nut butter compulsions were so out of control.

Her suggestion: Maybe the reason I can’t control myself around peanut butter, almond butter, and (while not quite as bad as the other two) tahini is that I’m fat deficient.

To be honest, I almost laughed.

Until she started giving me the symptoms associated with fat deficiency: constipation, dry hair, brittle nails, dry skin, fatigue, depression, anxiety – you name it, I have been experiencing it.

Prescription: eat more fat.

More to the point: eat a wider spectrum of fats.

Since I met with her I have really upped my fat intake and, importantly, reduced my nut and seed butter intake dramatically. So instead of eating nut butters and or tahini straight out of the jar and feeling like an out of control pig in the process, I am consciously adding fat to every meal.

To my morning smoothie, which is heavy on the rice protein, raw cacao, and dark leafy greens, I am adding 1 tablespoon of Barlean’s Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Essential Oils for Women. (If you haven’t tried this stuff, it is so good that you could eat it – literally – off the spoon or as a topping for ice cream. Seriously, it’s that good!)

To my lunch, I have added an avocado.

For my snack, I am having 1, if not 2, tablespoons of coconut butter. (If you haven’t tried this either, get some, as it is truly divine. I am not kidding, it is absolutely heavenly!) This particular brand comes in regular, which is just straight coconut and in chocolate – aptly named Raw Organic Cacao Bliss, which is coconut and raw cacao. Either way, it’s delicious. It’s a bit hard to deal with in the summer months because it goes liquid at 72 degrees, but where there’s a will, there’s a way! And trust me, its inconsistent consistency hasn’t stopped me yet. Again, delicious straight off the spoon, off my finger, or as a spread.

For dinner? Well, it depends. Sometimes it’s more avocado. Sometimes it’s sesame oil. Sometimes it’s flax seed. Sometimes it’s olive oil.

Bottom line: I am now eating essential fats at every meal.

And guess what? I’m no longer binging on peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini. In fact, it’s been days since I’ve had any of those things and I haven’t even missed them!

As someone who has counted calories (and fat) for years and who has tendencies to binge on high fat foods, the notion of adding fat purposefully and consciously into my diet not only seemed counter-intuitive, but also scary. However, it’s eliminated the binging and, more importantly, all of the subsequent guilt, self-abuse, and self-ridicule.

And how has this affected the scale, you might be wondering?

Well, I couldn’t tell you, because in addition to ditching the calorie counting, I also have stopped weighing myself. But it appears – by sight, by the fit of my clothes, and by the number on the measuring tape – that Barlean’s claim to be an “approved belly fat cure” may not be as overstated as I originally thought.

Got fat?

My new favorite blog and (believe it or not) it’s not about food!

I’ve never been one to follow exercise blogs, but I stumbled across this one a few days ago and have found myself returning again and again: GetFitTv with Jenny DiDonato.  I originally found her when I did a google search on Tabata Training and I was immediately riveted. For more information on Tabata, you can check on Jenny’s introduction, here.

So, why do I like her so much?

  1. She covers a wide range of exercises and for people at all levels of fitness (ranging from Tabata training to Kettlebells for beginners).
  2. She’s easy to follow.
  3. She looks like a real person – albeit with a body that any woman would envy.
  4. She’s really just showing you how to do the exercises without a lot of hype.
  5. She also covers a range of health topics, including things like strengthening tired knees, the health benefits of the contents of your spice rack, etc.  And for those of you who actually cook your food, she also has a number of healthy recipes you can check out!

Although I haven’t figured out her approach entirely, apparently she posts a new video episode every weekend and if you’re truly motivated, you can watch in real time via ustream, submit questions, and all that stuff.  Me? I tend to come to things late, so I’ve just been cruising the archives.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a no nonsense way to diversify your fitness routine, check her out!  I’ve certainly added her to my bookmarks!!!

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?

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?

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.

A good visual on why raw is easier on the digestion than cooked…

…though why taking plant-based enzymes will do in a pinch!

This is a short video from Holistic Nutritionist Rose Cole. Check it out! It’s pretty amazing. It sort of reminded me of being back in my high school chemistry class! Ah, the nostalgia of it.

And, even if you’re not interested in better digestion (or weight loss or having more energy), it will answer that question that you’ve always had – but were too polite to ask – about what really happens to corn after you eat it! I’ll just stop there in order to preserve the sensibilities of my readers, but I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about!

Note: depending on your bandwidth, you might want to let the video load up completely before watching it! Enjoy!

Nice Introduction to Living Raw

This article was forwarded to me by my sister who has also recently gone raw and is loving it! It’s a great introduction to the lifestyle and just plain commonsense for those that aren’t.

“The biggest problem with the average American diet is not just how much we eat, it’s the percentage of our diet that’s made up of cooked and over-processed foods. Find out how eating “live” can help you live healthier, happier and longer.” – Steven Lang

Thanks for the recommendation; keep them coming!

Happy New Year! Live from the Raw Food Rehab Online Community

It had been my intention to write a big year end blog and something motivating and meaningful about looking forward, but, to tell you the truth, I have spent almost the entire day over at some other woman’s site! Another Tulsan, mind you, but that’s beside the point.

If you’ve been following me at all these last few weeks, you’ll have noticed a new tag popping up on my entries: raw food.

After having recently gone gluten-free, my diet has taken yet another left turn. I think the correct term is “high raw,” which means raw until dinner. All that means is that I’m too big of a chicken to give up cooked food all together. I think that this topic deserves some thought, so hopefully I will be back online tomorrow with something meaningful and motivating.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in what’s going on in Oklahoma (other than the two amazing raw food restaurants that I mentioned in my last post), go check out Penni Shelton’s blog. And if you’re interested in all things raw, you should check out her ning site: Raw Food Rehab. Or better yet, check out the video. Though be forewarned, it starts in the middle.

Or for the lower resolution clip in its entirely, see below:

I’ll have more to say on my own reasons for joining this year’s 11 week initiative next time!

May you all have a healthy and happy New Year!

KJ’s Favorite Green Smoothie (a/k/a Slime-ade)

For the last two weeks, I have been drinking green smoothies. That is, RAW green smoothies.

For the most part, green smoothies are very forgiving – some of them aren’t even green! In fact, my first one literally looked like a vat of figgie pudding. Well, I assume that that’s what it looked like. Too many blueberries.

Essentially, you put in a lot of leafy greens (spinach, cilantro, kale, romaine lettuce, etc) and whatever else strikes your fancy.

Some people put in a lot of fruit, because they like them sweeter.

I started there, but quickly moved to the less sweet variety.

My favorite to date, is sort of Mexican-y and smells a little bit like a summer garden. Check out the details here.

Over the holidays, I made one every day and split it with my sister. She, who has recently gone gluten-free, actually got a little zing of energy with her first slug. Talk about an instant convert. In fact, before the holidays were over, she had ordered her own high speed blender and packed a smoothie to go for her long drive ahead.

Not everyone in the house, however, was a convert. My parents were not sold – at all. And every time my father saw me with one, he’d just laugh and shake his head (not necessarily in that order).

My father’s snarky asides eventually got so bad that I eventually made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: you stop ragging on me because of my slime-ade and I’ll stop bitching at you about your Vienna Sausages (otherwise known as Viennie Weinies).

Personally, I think he got a pretty good deal. Because there’s a lot more that I could say about the wonders of potted meat than he could about the hazards or fresh, organic spinach.

Eating Your Way to Health: Reducing Inflammation

Great article from U.S. News and World Report on creating a diet that reduces inflammation in your system!

Inflammation, normally part of a healthy immune response, is increasingly thought to play a leading role in encouraging a number of major killers, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Dangerous chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system stays turned on and starts attacking healthy cells and tissues-triggering, say, cancer-causing genetic mutations or the bursting of artery plaque. What you eat, though, helps determine how much inflammation you produce. Certain foods promote it, while others are inflammation-fighting superstars, says nutritionist and family physician Ann Kulze, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet.

Check out their recommendations of what to go for and what to avoid here. Admittedly, I don’t usually read US. News and World Report, but you’ve got to love any list that actually tells you to “go for” more wine and chocolate – within reason of course!

Now the funny thing about seeing this article this morning (as well as the one on pomegranates that I posted a few days ago), is that all week I’d been thinking about writing about these berries that I had started eating, which 1) are classed as superfoods and 2) reduce inflammation. Serendipity or synchronicity? Or both?

Just as a quick reminder, superfoods are foods that have high concentrated nutritional value that many physicians and holistic health practitioners believe also have healing properties.

While exploring warm wheat-free breakfast options (as drinking frozen hemp shakes in Northern New England gets increasingly challenging as you roll into winter) I came across a hot cereal recipe comprised of gluten-free oat bran, flax meal, and organic shelled hemp seeds. It was suggested that you also toss in some goldenberries, goji berries, and mulberries to “make it a tropical treat.”

No problem I thought. I like tropical treats. But what the heck is a goldenberry?

Well, it turns out that a goldenberry is one of those superfoods that reduce inflammation. As are goji berries and mulberries.

While you can buy them directly from Navitas Naturals (which has one of the most beautiful websites I’ve seen in a while), I admit that I tend to order things through Amazon for the convenience, since I tend to also be ordering things from Nutiva at the same time and, sadly, because it’s cheaper.

Just as an aside, it never ceases to amaze me that all of the healthy stuff is always about 15 times more expensive than the crap out there. Just think how many bags of Cheetos you could get for one bag of goji berries. Not that you’d want that many bags of Cheetos, mind you, even though they are technically gluten-free! 😉

The good news, however, is that the goldenberries, goji berries, and mulberries are so dense with nutritional value that you really don’t need that many in order to feel satisfied. Notably, since I’ve started eating a handful or so of them straight out of the bag (I’ve never gotten around to making the cereal that I bought them for!), I’ve actually stopped eating other calorie dense, quasi-expensive gluten free nutrition bars and organic nuts that I had been snacking on during the day. And finally, assuming that the legions of doctors and health care practitioners out there singing superfood’s praises are on to something, you’ll probably save a bundle over the long term by reducing future medical bills and lost productivity due to the experience of chronic illness!

Even if you’re not a fan of raisins or other dried fruits, check these out. The goji berries are reminiscent of dry cranberries, the mulberries figs or nuts, and the golden berries sweet tarts. They’re really quite delicious! And seriously, check out the nutrition on these things: in addition to sugar, which granted there is a lot, there are also a ton of vitamins, fiber, and even protein!
golden-recipe

Alternate markers of health

I went to the doctor today and while the scale was up (I’m sure it was the shoes and the fleece!), my blood pressure was 106/50 and my heart rate was 42! Without a second glance, the nurse said something about how that’s a great resting heart rate, though not uncommon among athletes! I wanted to jump up and down like Rudolph after Clarice tells him he’s cute: She thinks I’m an athlete! She thinks I’m an athlete!timespacetoys_2066_102418502

Tired of water? Mix it up (and drink it down)

No matter whether it’s six or eight glasses a day, it’s common knowledge that the body needs water to function properly – it is primarily made of water after all! When you’re dieting or trying to lose fat, it’s even more important to drink water, as it’s the water (and the associated lymph) that carries all of that fat out of the system! When you drink lots of water (another recommendation is half of your body weight in ounces), you’re also less likely to be hungry, less likely to overeat or to fill up on junk in order to feel more energetic. The latter is especially true because water actually gives you energy by removing all of the toxic stuff out of your body! And if that wasn’t enough of a why, it also improves skin elasticity and makes you look younger!

Even though I know that drinking water is just as important (if not more so) as maintaining a healthy food diet and getting regular exercise, it tends to be the first thing I let slip when I’m tired or stressed. It’s ridiculous. Why would I stop doing something that’s so simple, especially when it gets me such great results? It’s particularly stupid because I’ll exercise and not drink enough water, which leads to an even more advanced stage of dehydration. Now a lot of people think that they’re not dehydrated because they’re not thirsty. Thirst is a warning sign! When you start feeling thirsty, it’s too late. Most nutritionists recommend that you take a sip of water every fifteen minutes! Whether you feel thirsty or not!

So why would I not drink water? Why might you not be drinking enough?

Personally, I get bored. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of water; I do. But then again I have a well and am not dependent on city tap water, which does (unfortunately) come in a variety of flavors, largely based on your location! But filters do work wonders and there are a number available all at varying price-points for sale on-line.

But, when I am legitimately tired of water, I do sub in other options that still count as water. So, how to get more water into your diet?

As I mentioned before, I make protein shakes. I tend to mix the protein powder and liquid with two trays of ice cubes; although frozen, ice does count as water! You even burn more calories because your body has to bring it up to temperature!

Another way to make water more exciting is just to simply make up a pitcher of ice water and cucumber slices and let the flavor seep in. I had this at a spa recently and it was fabulous! Unbelievably refreshing! Since then, I’ve seen people do the same thing with fresh mint, fresh blackberries or fresh raspberries.

My personal favorite, especially in the winter months (which, unfortunately are back on the horizon) is to drink caffeine-free herbal tea. Stay away from decaffeinated coffees or black tea, which contain marginal amounts of caffeine, as well as all of the residual chemicals that it took to decaffeinate it to begin with! This works especially well for me because you can really mix up the flavors and you can mess with the intensity and sweetness by varying the steeping time as well as the amount of sweetener (if any) that you use. My favorite sweetener is Stevia Plus, by Sweet Leaf. Stevia Plus is an all natural supplement that contains no saccharin, Nutrasweet, aspartame, refined sugar, maltodextrin fructose, or any artificial sweeteners of any kind! It’s called plus, because it also contains inulin fiber (F.O.S.) which selectively nourished the friendly bacteria (lactobaciilus and bifidobacteria) in the intestines!

During the winter I tend to drink eight to ten cups of herbal tea a day! I drink a number of brands, but my house tea is Celestial Seasonings. 1) It’s cheap (as am I). 2) There are a ton of flavors so I am less likely to get bored. 3) There is minimal packaging – they are the ones that don’t use strings or tags!

And for those who can’t imagine drinking hot tea in the summer (or are too impatient to brew it hot and then ice it), they have just come out with a product that steeps in cold water in just five minutes! Unfortunately only of of these is caffeine-free, but I’m hopeful they’ll expand the line if it’s a success! Or with enough push-back from interested buyers!

Another way I get my water in is to drink my green stuff mixed in 24 ounces of water! Again, cold improves the taste. Sometimes I toss the glass into the freezer for 15 minutes or I mix it with ice.

And, finally, a fourth way I get water in when I’m bored is to drop in a couple of nuun tablets in a quart sized Sigg bottle. Nuuns are electrolyte-enhance sports drink tabs, which I drink while I exercise, especially if I am doing something that is going to involve a lot of sweat. Six calories per tablet; all are caffeine free with the exception of the cola flavored one, which has about as much caffeine as a cup of green tea. So, although it doesn’t count as water, per say, because of the caffeine, it does actually taste enough like cola to kill the craving (that is, if you have craving for cola). Personally, the lemon-lime and ginger orange are my favorite!

So, if you find yourself feeling sluggish or overly hungry during the day, ask yourself the following question: How much water have I had today?

And if you’re not even close to 1/2 your body weight in ounces, drink some water! If you don’t like water (or think you don’t) because it doesn’t taste like anything, try something new to jazz it up. And you’d be surprised. Just as it does with sugar, the more water you drink, the more your body will want.

Let me know what you come up with!

Scale-less dieting

I realized the other day that I haven’t been on a scale in two months. Actually, the last time was June 17, so technically it’s been a little over two months. That’s the longest time I’ve been off a scale in years! Does that mean I’m not dieting or watching my weight or maintaining (or whatever you want to call it)? No; it means I am dieting/maintaining/releasing without being tied to a meaningless number!

Given that most people who are actively involved in monitoring their own or others’ weight either propose weighing once a day or once a week, why would I choose to do it without a scale? More importantly, why would I suggest that you try it as well?

Practical whys first:

  • I don’t have a scale. I always used one at the gym. When I started working out at home this summer, I decided that it just seemed silly to waste the gas and the time to go to the gym just to weigh myself.
  • I also didn’t want to buy a scale, because I know that the one at the gym – which I have used diligently for the last five years – is at least consistent! I also have to wonder how many scales find themselves either being used as a doorstop or at the bottom of a landfill!

Once I got past the weirdness of not weighing myself, I found myself looking for other markers of success. Did my gut look bigger in the mirror? What are my measurement? How are my clothes fitting? Was the yoga easier or harder today? Was my heart rate up or down since the last time I did this workout DVD? How many days out of the last 7, 14, 21, 28 or even 100 did I have a calorie deficit (I may have stopped weighing, but I love counting calories; I am a total calorie geek)! When was the last time I had a high fat, high sugar dessert? How many weeks in the last 3 months have I had wine two nights in a row? How many times last month (I am also a big proponent of keeping track of exercise) did I do weight training in addition to cardio? Once I stopped focusing on the one number – which fluctuates like a demon depending on what I eat and the time of day, not to mention the time of the month! – it opened up space for me to also realize what really matters.

So, onto the quasi-theoretical whys:

  • Once I gave up the scale, I was able to get real on what mattered and why. Does it really matter if I weigh 145 pounds instead of 140 or 135? Not really. What really matters is whether my clothes fit and the degree and frequency I am putting junk into my body. What also really matters is that I continue working on being as fit and flexible as I can possibly be.
  • Giving up the scale makes it easier to forgive yourself when you make choices that don’t necessarily support your goals. That doesn’t mean that giving up on the scale automatically signs you up for a crash course in self-acceptance (as my post earlier this week revealed), but it does force you to seek out signs of progress, rather than setting your sights on a single number, which may or may not be attainable in a week or even ten days!

So, how do you diet without a scale? Easy. If you have a scale, toss it. If you don’t have a scale, don’t get one.

Now, I realize that if you’re going to Weight Watchers or some other organization that requires weekly weigh-ins, you have to weigh. But have you thought about asking your leader to write it down without telling you and leaving your card at the meeting place? Or could you trust yourself not to look and to put the booklet into it’s plastic sleeve (do they still even have those) and chuck it into your glove compartment?

I remember doing this when I was at Weight Watchers as a teen – mainly because I couldn’t stand it if I gained weight. I hated it and I hated myself (more on the dangers of self-loathing later). And, not surprisingly, when I was in that emotional space it was easier to want to give up.  It was also easier to self-sabotage, because even though it was me I was talking about, why would I want someone I hated to actually succeed?  Further, during the weeks that the weight was climbing no matter how rigorously I stuck to the plan (and there were many of those during my 90 pound weight loss if for no other reason than the body is very smart and extremely efficient at adapting to dietary changes and – you guessed it – storing fat!) there was something powerful (and not in a good way) about seeing the numbers – usually written in indelible ink – steadily rising. There was something about actually seeing the numbers get bigger that led me to believe that that’s just the way that it was.  The plateaus seemed more real somehow. More insurmountable.  But I digress.

So, once you’ve figured out how to be scaleless (if not in reality, than in consequence) pick the outcomes you really want to achieve. Do you want to consistently use more calories than you consume? Do you want to improve the quality of your skin? Do you want to add muscle mass and get stronger?  Do you want to look good in your clothes or wear a different size? Do you want to be healthier or have more flexibility? Do you want to be able to walk up the stairs without being winded or to turn heads when you walk in the door? Do you want to get off of your high blood pressure medication or lower your risk of type II diabetes?  Do you want to have a better hip to waist ratio?  Do you want to run a half maraton – or a marathon – before your 40th birthday?  Or do a triathlon before you turn 50?

These are the things that are important.  These are the things that matter and therefore the things that will keep you on track!  The number on the scale?  That’s just cultural conditioning.

What’s really more motivating, weighing 135 or having the energy to chase your grand kids (assuming you have grand kids) around the park?

Then do what you need to do in order to meet the goals that matter to you.  It may be counting calories, it may be consistently exercising.  If you’re already dieting, just try taking a break from the scale.  Don’t take a break from the diet, just ditch the scale for a while.  And pick things that matter as your new source of accountability and motivation!

So, last Sunday, I told you that I’d tell you how bad it was  – that is, my own diet detour into Mendocino County.  You might be thinking, how the heck are you going to do that if 1) you haven’t been on a scale in two months and 2) don’t have access to one?

Easy.  My gut looks smaller than it did on Sunday.  My KJ Jr.  size 16 girls Lands End pants are tighter than they were when I left.  My sixes still fit so it can’t be that bad; however, to be honest, I haven’t bothered with the fours.

My American Eagle short shorts with a 2 (maybe 3) inch inseam still look like crap (so nothing new there).

I just bought a super cute form fitting Ann Taylor dress at a consignment store to wear to my cousin’s wedding.

My yoga routine was pretty darn good this morning and my heart rate seemed to be a little bit lower today during my cardio workout than it was on Monday.

And, yes, I told you I am a calorie junkie, a quick glance at my food diary tells me that out of the last 21 days, 17 had calorie deficits that ranged anywhere from -13 to -1016!  Not too shabby!

I had been thinking about this post for a while but I held off from writing it because I thought, no one is going to throw their scales away!  But then I bought this amazing book (title withheld until I have finished it) where the woman starts off with a pretty simple message: Get rid of the scale!  I thought, awesome, I like her already!  Her thing is that it’s not about losing weight fast, it’s about keeping it off for a life-time.  As it turns out, this book seems to be full of little gems, many of which resonate with my approach, but many of which seem to supply the missing pieces that I’ve been looking for.

Once I finish it, I’ll review it and probably end up recommending it!  It’s fun, it’s easy to read, and it’s only $27.00!  And in terms of the quality of information?  I got my money’s worth in the first three pages alone!  When was the last time you could say that about a book?

So, off to read and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

This cracked me up: Attract Girls By Eating Best Food on Earth!

I guess there’s more than one way to convince guys to be healthy.

But just as you know, I eat a lot of these foods, but I’m not attracting too many women! Though I’m assuming it works to get guys too! 😉

And, if you’re a woman, this is not the best advert for Royal Jelly (if you know what I mean)!

However, check it out. In addition to the Edward Cullen vibe, there’s actually a lot of good information!

As if the calories and addictive properties weren’t bad enough!

Thanks go to my sister for this little tip!

Another reason to eat quinoa

In addition to being delicious in soups and stews, it apparently also fights cancer as well: check it out!