Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weekend Fun and Thoughts on Motivation

We had a fun weekend with a birthday party, a trip to Gilroy Gardens, and lots of soccer.

Gilroy Gardens 04
Gilroy Gardens 03
Gilroy Gardens 02
Gilroy Gardens 01

I have written about how much I like my Fitbit before. I really believe it has made a huge difference in the amount of steps I walk each day. I guess I am competitive and there is just something about seeing how many steps I have (or have not) taken.

Fitbit automatically sets the goal to 10,000 steps a day (which you can adjust). 10,000 steps is what we should try to walk every day for general health. For me, walking 10,000 steps takes a conscious effort. In addition to one longer walk or hike per day, I have created quite a few new habits to reach my goal most days:
  • Make multiple trips to the mailroom at work (and take the looooong way there and back)
  • Take several short (15 - 20 minute) walking breaks throughout day – even though this takes time, I have found I am much more productive if I walk throughout the day
  • Convince the kid to play soccer every night before dinner (we walk to the field, run around, and then walk home)
  • Take advantage of “walking opportunities” – such as around the playground
While I usually wear the Fitbit daily, there have been times I have forgotten (and usually didn’t realize it). The other day I put my Fitbit on to go to yoga, came home, took a shower, and forgot to put it back on. Once we had left the house to go to a birthday party, I realized I didn’t wear it. The party was outdoors and we walked around a small lake to get there. But once we were there, I didn’t walk much. I tried to convince the kid to walk around with me, but he didn’t want to, and I didn’t try very hard.

When the party was over, hubby said to me, “Wow, what a difference when you don’t wear the Fitbit!” His statement made me think. I was actually very sore from yoga that day and a little rest felt good. However, I know he was right that I would have walked more had I worn the Fitbit as I don’t like looking at a very low number.

I’d like to think that my main motivation for walking is health and that it makes me feel good. But I think I am also motivated by seeing the numbers… In fact, I know I have increased my weekly steps by quite a bit since I got the Fitbit.

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? Do you have any “tricks” to motivate you to move more/exercise?
 
Be well,
Andrea

Monday, May 20, 2013

Food Thoughts

More Planning

With the Conscious Cleanse starting in two weeks, I am trying to get more organized again when it comes to food. The premise of the cleanse is to eat unprocessed, real food. The cleanse food is simple, but I found last time that I do need to prepare or things get difficult.

Before I did the cleanse in January and confirmed (by eliminating and reintroducing) that I don’t do well with wheat, eggs, and yeast, a quick meal was often a slice of whole grain, dark bread with cheese and vegetables or seasoned rice with an over-easy egg. Obviously, these foods don’t work anymore.

These days, a quick meal is often cut up veggies with some smashed avocado (no tomatoes during the cleanse) or some nut “cheeze.”

Several years ago, I bought Ani's Raw Food Kitchen and enjoyed reading it, but I never really made anything from it (but the book inspired me to eat more raw foods, and I made quite a few zucchini noodles at the time...)


In January I started making several of the nut “cheezes” from the book and really enjoyed them. In the book, Ani has numerous suggested uses for the “cheezes,” but I just eat them with carrot sticks and cucumber and bell pepper slices. I look forward to trying more of the recipes in the book soon; they sound great and are really not difficult (just different.)

Yesterday I spent time in the kitchen and made some food for the week:
  • Carrot soup, based on the recipe from the Conscious Cleanse book
  • Mixed grains
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Sautéed bok choy
  • Cashew nut cheeze from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Carrot sticks and cucumber and bell pepper slices
  • Cucumber salad
Having the fridge filled with healthy, real food makes me feel good.

Eating Out and Parties

Eating out and going to parties has changed since I don’t eat wheat and eggs anymore. I have to say that I have had a bite of bread here and there and I have also had a sip of hubby’s beer once in a while. But the discomfort that follows these small bites and sips is really not worth it at all.

When I know that I won’t eat a meal at home, I try to plan ahead as much as I can. I always carry some nuts and/or trail mix in my purse, so if there is nothing else I can eat, there are always the nuts.

If we go to a party, I try to bring a dish that I can eat. Often that turns out to be a salad. Because I usually can’t eat quite a few of the dishes at parties, I actually am “forced” to socialize more, which is a good thing! Parties should really be about the people and not so much about the food…

We don’t eat out very often, and when we do, we usually go to a restaurant we are familiar with, and I know what I can and cannot eat there. In the rare instance that we go to a new restaurant, I try to check out the menu online before we go. I have also become much better about asking about ingredients, etc. I don’t want to be a pain to eat with, but I have found that it’s often no problem for the kitchen to slightly modify a dish. I even managed to eat out one meal while I did the Conscious Cleanse in January, and numerous of the other cleansers ate out for quite a few meals.

Questions: What’s on your menu this week? What are your eating out strategies? Have your ever experimented with raw food? If so, how did you like it? What's your favorite raw food recipe?
 
Be well,
Andrea

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Weekend Fun and Another Cleanse

We had a nice Mother’s Day weekend.

On Saturday, the older kid came to visit, and we had a good time going out to lunch at a Korean restaurant, playing basketball, and hanging out at home.


On Sunday, I started the day with an early morning barre class, and then we headed to Happy Hollow.


More Cleansing

I decided to sign up for another Conscious Cleanse. The Conscious Cleanse I did in January was a very positive experience, and I continued many of the positive habits I developed during the cleanse.

Here are some of the things I continued after the cleanse:
  • No coffee. I know coffee has numerous health benefits and many people are able to drink one or two cups a day without problems. However, my coffee consumption gets easily out of hand, and I don’t want to go back to that place. Giving up caffeine was by far the hardest thing during the last cleanse, and I am looking forward to not having to go through withdrawal this time around!
  • Start the day with 32 ounces of warm lemon water. Since the cleanse in January, I missed only one day of warm lemon water. I truly look forward to my warm lemon water every morning.
  • Start the day with a green smoothie most days. I really enjoy my green smoothies. On days I don’t have a green smoothie in the morning, I usually have one later in the day.
  • Eat quite a few Conscious Cleanse meals. I still make vegetables the center of my meals. Most days, I have a very green smoothie and also eat a big salad with some protein. I also frequently make recipes from the Conscious Cleanse book.
  • Still don’t eat the foods I discovered I’m sensitive to: eggs, wheat, and yeast, and I feel so much better because of it. Cutting out these foods truly changed my life and the “issues” I had attributed to my gallstones are gone.
So why did I decide to do another cleanse? And why am I not doing it on my own?

Ever since the last cleanse ended, I wanted to do another one because I felt really good eating only the best foods for my body and leaving out the “extras.” While I still eat very similarly to the way I ate during the cleanse, there are some things that snuck back into my diet that I would like to limit again (and cut out during the cleanse): ketchup and other condiments (mainly sriracha and Korean hot pepper paste – all of them contain quite a bit of sugar and other “not-so-good” ingredients), dairy, and rice-based snack foods.

One of the reasons I decided to do another group cleanse is because the time to do a cleanse is never “perfect.” Signing up for the group cleanse (which starts on June 3, with five transition days before that) “forces” me to do it.

After reading the book and doing the Conscious Cleanse once, I know I have enough knowledge to do the cleanse on my own. However, I was really surprised last time by how much I appreciated and looked forward to the support the group cleanse provided: the daily emails (which focus not only on food and drink choices but also on general well being), the Facebook group, and the teleseminars. It really made the whole experience effortless, and doing the cleanse felt very self-indulgent and almost like a mini vacation (even though I was not on vacation!).

This time hubby is going to do the cleanse with me (well he said he’d “try”), and I am looking forward to doing it together! I am also looking forward to juicing more. In January, I mainly made smoothies and didn’t juice much. Now that it’s warm and more affordable produce is available, I look forward to lots of juice during the cleanse.

If you are curious about the cleanse, there is a live call tonight in which the creators of the cleanse, Jules and Jo, answer questions. Here is the info:

Date: Tuesday May 14th at 7pm MST.
You can either dial in using the number (206) 402-0100 enter pin 393898#
Or listen and ask questions online via the web by clicking on the following link: http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=41319777 (I believe the recorded call will also be available the day after.)

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? What have you recently cleaned up? Are you changing what you are eating now that the weather is getting warmer? What’s your favorite juice combo?
 
Be well,
Andrea

[Full Disclosure: I paid for the June Conscious Cleanse with my own money (at a reduced rate that is available to all repeat cleansers). The above links are affiliate links, so if you sign up for the cleanse using one of the links, I will earn a fee.]

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Breakfast & Weekend Fun

Since I did the Conscious Cleanse in January, I have been having a green smoothie for breakfast pretty much every day. Before the cleanse, I had a green smoothie once in a while, but during the cleanse I got used to starting every day with plenty of greens. In addition to providing the body with lots of nutrients, greens (because of the nutrients) are supposed to help with food cravings. I didn’t have any cravings during the cleanse, which actually surprised me a bit (because I couldn’t eat quite a few foods I normally eat), and I still feel great starting the day with a green smoothie.

My smoothies are similar most days, but I do make sure to rotate the greens I use. Here is what my basic smoothie looks like:
  • A small banana (or half a banana)
  • Plenty of greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, etc.) 
  • Hemp seeds
  • Frozen fruit (peaches, strawberries, blueberries, mango, etc.)
  • A little stevia, if I use little fruit
  • Water
While I love my smoothies, I also know that variety is good when it comes to food. Plus, it’s not always possible to make a smoothie as I teach some very early classes and sometimes (although not often!), the kid is still sleeping by the time I leave well before seven (and I don’t want to wake him up). While I don’t always eat first thing in the morning, I do eat something in the morning on teaching days. If I don’t have a smoothie, I usually have a banana, plain yogurt (sometimes with a few vanilla stevia drops) and walnuts for breakfast.

Last month, Jessie at Happiness in Health posted about a breakfast she had on a trip to Switzerland and that had become a favorite of hers: Bircher Muesli. It’s basically a version of overnight oats, something I have been meaning to make for quite a while. I decided to make the Bircher muesli one day, and we loved it. Jessie has measurements on her blog (as well as some of the muesli’s history), but I basically just poured some old-fashioned rolled oats in a bowl and topped the oats with some milk and yogurt. The mixture had quite a bit of liquid. By the next morning a lot of the liquid was absorbed, but the muesli was still quite liquid.

I added banana slices, strawberries, and walnuts. I believe apple, banana, and pineapple are more traditional additions.


We had a fun weekend filled with swimming, soccer, and a sleepover.

We also explored a small bamboo forest, with many different types of bamboo from all over the world.
Bamboo Forest 03
Bamboo Forest 02
Bamboo Forest 01

The kid also got to have some fun in a small water pool in a giant bubble at a local arts festival.


Questions: What do you usually have for breakfast? Do you ever have overnight oats for breakfast? What’s your favorite breakfast? What was the highlight of your weekend?

Be well,
Andrea