Category Archives: health

Another New Year

bicep silhouette of Fitness Coach Karie Underwood

Strong and Fit Like Karie

But I am not going to make a resolution.

I’m making intentions instead. I got the idea from a blog that I like, authored by a psychologist named Bruce. He’s a very wise man.

One of my intentions is to become massively productive. That means I am going to work hard at making money. I’m not sure what that will look like–perhaps I will land a good job or build a successful online business or work beside my husband in a booming scrapple business, or all of the above.

Where I land isn’t up to me, I’ve decided. It’s up to God’s Good Grace. All I can do is plug away at being productive each day.

It’s my job is to keep the faith, remain positive and stay productive.

I also intend to keep working on my health. I shall remain a vegetarian and clean up my diet, incorporating more vegan meals into my life, again.

4 days a week I attend a BootCamp class with Karie Underwood. The women she coaches are strong and fit. Karie’s a machine.

one arm plank by Karie Underwood

one arm pushup

This is a picture of Karie doing a one-arm pushup. It’s not easy to do, and she’s smiling. I intend to increase my strength and endurance enough to do 10 full-body pushups and hold a two-handed plank for 60 seconds. That might not sound like much to you, but it a realistic start for me.

Above all else I am a realist. Especially when it comes to push ups.

eat healthy and feel better in more ways than one

Due to a steady decline in my health conventionally attributed to aging and in an effort to combat this “inevitability” I adopted a vegan lifestyle and eliminated meat, dairy, sugar and processed food from my diet. It’s been 28 days!

Hooray for me!!

I am proud of myself because I really didn’t know if I had it in me . . . I’ve discovered that I do.

Four weeks ago I started following Brendan Brazier’s Thrive diet and am delighted with the improvements in health that I’ve experienced so far:

    Sugar cravings have vanished
    I am no longer perpetually hungry
    I sleep better
    I’ve lost 8 – 10 pounds
    I more often think about food as sustenance, versus food as entertainment
    I feel a satisfying self-respect for being proactive and taking RESPONSIBILITY for my health.

In addition to the expected physical benefits, there appears to be some clarity in my thinking and an emotional benefit to being responsible and making right choices.

This feels good because choosing to eat a plant-based, vegan diet required a lot of effort and that we change our family’s routine around food. We shop in different sections of the grocery store now. We use different appliances and eat a lot more raw food. When we cook we use a lower temperature. We don’t go out to dinner. (We will dine out selectively in the future.) There is a learning curve to preparing vegan meals and a mindset to using food as nourishment instead of entertainment. It’s about loving our ourselves enough to make that healthy food choice, again and again, day in and day out. Taking this path toward health and putting forth the required effort feeds my soul. It’s an emotional boon for me and the biggest benefit to the vegan diet that I’ve found so far.

Truth, responsibility and growth give rise to joy.

In my quest for health related blogs and websites, I stumbled upon one that I like called Crazy Sexy Life. It is a “playground for kind warriors who believe it’s HIP to get healthy, SEXY to be spiritual, and NOBLE to protect hot mama Earth.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s creator, Kris Carr, also wrote and directed an inspirational documentary about her holistic fight against cancer called, Crazy Sexy Cancer. I saw it a few years back and was very moved by her story. Now I know why.

Good health is sooo worth the effort.

meat and dairy free for 17 days, and counting

Yesterday was emotionally rough but it had less to do with diet and more to do with the work of getting older. It seems sometimes that the quest to improve and grow and change never lets up, and I get tired of it. It didn’t help that when I returned home last night, for the second week in a row, Steve had only prepared a meal for Claire (Wednesdays are his night to cook) and it smelled delicious, again. This time it was spaghetti. Unlike last week, I wasn’t quite as patient. I was tired and hungry and didn’t want to wait until 9:00 P.M. to eat and so the warm, nutritious vegan meal I had imagined remained a figment and I was irritated. To quell my hunger I ate a protein bar, dried mango and home-roasted sunflower seeds which I scarfed as if it were a final meal. By the time Steve finished his online class, I was in bed reading and completely uninterested in eating his salad or interacting with our sleep-deprived teenager who’s been taking finals all week and treats her mother, the-source-of-all-suffering, discourteously.

How do you teach your offspring that procrastination can make a task more difficult?

Our little student has been uninterested in any of my studying suggestions this week and growled when I asked how she discovered, the night before her final exam, that she didn’t understand a math block. Seems to me she might’ve noticed sooner. But then, why should I expect my 14-year-old daughter not to procrastinate when the woman who raised her is adept at it. I mean really, I’m in the second-half of my life and started eating for optimal health 17 days ago!

Can’t she learn from my mistakes?

Perhaps she can but it will occur on her time table and not on mine because as she gets older, she too will get wiser. It’s part of the . . .

age = wisdom

day 11 of vegan whole food diet: eating for sustenance only is boring

I came home from my Wednesday evening appointment to the smell of something delicious wafting through the house. I was hungry and remember feeling grateful that it was Steve’s night to cook.

Upstairs he was at the computer taking an InDesign class (CreativeTechs) that I had suggested and Claire was nowhere to be seen. A big bowl of Beef Stroganoff sat steaming on the counter. It was beautiful. It smelled amazing. A quick glance around the kitchen revealed that nothing of the vegan variety was in progress. I asked Steve what he and I were going to eat for dinner and he shrugged his shoulders. I looked at the Stroganoff. I took a deep breath in and imagined my finger dipping into the sauce. My mouth watered and my stomach moaned as I remembered my 2010 resolve . . .

I am eating a whole food vegan diet and am committed to consuming food that will provide optimal performance in sports and life as outlined by Brendan Brazier in his book Thrive, The Vegan Nutrition Guide.

I have been faithfully following Thrive for 11 days now, without the smallest slip. I have not eaten one empty calorie. I have not nibbled cheese, had a bite of meat, chewed a piece of gum or enjoyed a decaffeinated soy latte. I have been an excellent student of health.

Nothing processed has passed my lips.

Everything I’ve eaten has been prepared from a combination of alkaline-forming pseudo-grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and healthy oils. Nobody is more surprised by my commitment to health than I am. I am eating for sustenance only. Food is no longer a form of amusement for me. Nor is it a distraction.

I am not eating to make myself feel better. And remarkably, I am feeling better because of it.

The payoff has been fairly immediate because I am already sleeping better, there’s less stiffness in my joints and my night sweats have diminished to a tolerable level. My mind must be clearer as well because in spite of my fantasy, I did NOT taste the beef stroganoff when it sat steaming on the countertop before me.

What I did instead was open the book Thrive and began preparing a meal for Steve and me. I put celery, carrots, tomato, ground flaxseed, salt and cumin into the food processor to make baked crackers. To accompany the crackers we made a leafy green salad and pulled a variety of leftover vegetable spreads out of the refrigerator.

When we sat down at the table to eat, Claire came out of her teen-cave and joined us for the salad. She had already eaten her main course and delightfully described how delicious it had been. I ate two small crackers that tasted remarkably plain and incredibly dry. I tried one with a sweet, raw coconut spread and one with the homemade catsup I had made a few days prior. I ate most of my salad but once my hunger was satiated, I saw no reason to continue. I was done. My dinner bored me to distraction. What’s the point of eating beyond what’s required to nourish my body? I couldn’t think of a single good reason.

day 8 of whole-food vegan diet and though I thrive, I think of fat, crunch and salt

Last night was the best sleep I’ve had in a really long time. It was a deep, restful sleep and one of the reputed benefits to eating a healthy, net-gain diet as I’ve been doing for the past week. Sleep is one of my issues and has been since my college days, the ones in my twenties. That’s when I developed insomnia and I have suffered from it ever since with varying degrees of help from friends, supplements, a nutritionist and two therapists. Had I known about the insomniac effects of cortisol caused by a poor diet, I might have solved this problem a long time ago but alas, I didn’t and there’s no use going down the woulda, coulda, shoulda road. What I’m thinking is:

WOW! Another benefit from my new healthy lifestyle and one more great reason to continue eating a vegan, whole-food diet.

I am completely on board with this lifestyle change. And I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy even though it has been because it’s too soon to tell and I haven’t wandered far from home or my good food. Today, however, I was tempted. I woke up especially hungry and have been thinking about crunchy, salty, fattening food all day. The thought of a grilled cheese, avocado and tomato sandwich on sour dough bread is making my mouth water as I type. The thought, “But it’s vegetarian, that might be okay, especially if I grill it in coconut oil,” haunts my mind.

I am an addict. I want the fat, crunchy, salty demonic variety today . . . I dream of Fritos and french fries. Staaaaarrrrccccch!

But I resist. I started my day with a smoothie. Three hours later I had homemade cereal with hemp milk. At 1:30 I ate one of my protein bars, and snacked on a small handful of raw almonds, celery with homemade catsup and dried mango. It’s now time to prepare dinner from the book Thrive by Brendan Brazier. I’m not sure what I’ll prepare for dinner.

Health is a journey.

whole food healthy diet feeling stronger in 7 days!

To be as succinct as possible, my goal for 2010 is to know what optimal health feels like. Toward that end I commit to eating nutritious net-gain foods as outlined in the book Thrive by Brendan Brazier and by putting my body in motion regularly.

I want to feel good, have more energy, touch my toes and be motivated to follow my dreams.

I am on my 7th day of eating high net-gain food (usable nutrition left to the body after digestion and assimilation of food) and I am feeling seriously better. Sleep is deeper and longer, my night sweats have decreased substantially, I have more energy to work with during the day and even my disposition has improved. I am excited to be working responsibly toward health and it makes me feel good about myself, proud. But it’s not suppose to happen this quickly!

Could it be the placebo effect?

It could be I suppose, but I’ll take it. I came out of the holiday season unable to sleep from debilitating night sweats and felt like crap the first three days of this diet. By Wednesday I had averaged 3 hours of sleep a night for 3 days which negatively impacted my productivity, as you can imagine. I thought giving up sugar, fat and salt would be akin to quitting tobacco and that I would have serious withdrawal symptoms but that hasn’t been the case. Perhaps I ate so much junk food during the holidays that I was burnt out on it but, remarkably, I have had very few cravings.

Nobody is more surprised by this than I am, believe me!

Also, I have not experienced hunger. This way of eating is not about deprivation or counting calories. It’s about consuming high-octane, natural fuel that feeds the body the nutrients it needs to operate at high capacity. When I feel hungry I eat something good for me, it’s not a lot but I’m satiated and I don’t even think about calories. Food has become a means of nourishing my body. It’s not about entertainment, and it’s not a distraction.

An added benefit is Steve and I have spent more time together shopping and preparing meals. There was a lot of food I was unfamiliar with such as amaranth, adzuki beans, dulse and hemp, to name a few and I had little experience shopping out of bulk food bins. For those who know us well you won’t be surprised to learn that Steve’s help in the kitchen is indispensable to me and even Claire has been there preparing her own main dish (it was tuna noodle casserole last night). We continue to connect as a family around the dinner table, but the ways we’ve used food in the past seem to have fallen away.

Snack food and ice cream during movies is no longer a part of the plan.

This may prove to be the most challenging, I’ll have to see but so far it hasn’t bothered me at all, of course, we didn’t go to the movies this week. I have stayed close to home and have spent an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen. My life seems to be changing in all sorts of ways, and that is good. I plan to venture out this coming week and will carry healthy food with me in case I get hungry, or my resolve weakens.

Can anybody recommend a good movie?

I walked 4.5 miles with my husband on the hilly power line trail to Kelsey Creek Farm and back in 55 minutes today. We weren’t feeling particularly connected (he was on his computer while I was on mine) so I strongly encouraged him to walk with me. He counted the Kelsey Creek steps with me, and we both counted the same number–163! By the time we rounded the downhill corner to our home, I noticed feeling closer to Steve than I had when we left and when I mentioned this to him, he said he felt the same way.

One more healthy benefit to exercise!

nutrient dense food

Today is my fourth day of exclusively eating healthy, whole food, part 1 of my 2010 resolve. I have read and am following Thrive The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Ironman Triathlete Brendan Brazier. It includes a 12-week meal plan which has been surprisingly easy to follow, though I must confess it’s been challenging for me, the kitchen-and-cooking-impaired person that I am, to prepare the concoctions. I call them concoctions because the majority of dishes I’ve prepared so far are done with a food processor (which I had never used before), a coffee grinder or a blender and are either raw or cooked at a low temperature. It is safe to say that the Thrive meals I’ve eaten do not look like typical American fare, which is clearly a good thing if you’re concerned about health or decreasing the size of your girth. Let’s be real here . . . the majority of people in this country do not select food based on nutritional needs. They eat because it’s fun or tastes good, feeds an addiction or it’s a distraction. By and LARGE most people do not want to know the ramifications of consuming nutritionally deficient food and would rather bury their heads in the sand than be responsible about what they put in their mouths. I’ve been guilty of that myself, until 4 days ago. The food in this diet is nutritionally dense–every ingredient is necessary, easily digested, easily assimilated and leaves you with a net-gain of energy that your body can use for other functions.

And that’s what I am after here, folks!

I want to feel good and have more energy. I want to be able to touch my toes and have the motivation to follow my dreams. I may be in the second half of my life but I still have dreams and I cannot get away with the self-abuse I enjoyed in the first half. I wish I could. I had a lot of fun and eating has been a favorite activity of mine forever especially high-fat, salty, processed restaurant food and desserts, snack-food, chips, candy, popcorn, gum, cookies. Oh how I loved a good cookie!

But was it worth it?

That’s what I am committed to finding out but I don’t think that it was, not at this age. Surely not if something serious but preventable happens like a heart attack, diabetes, arthritis or cancer. I understand that cancer and other serious illnesses cannot grow in an alkaline environment and a typical North American diet is acidic forming and negatively effects health at the cellular level causing fatigue, sleep problems, excessive weight before the more serious problems. Those everyday issues that I hear people complain about should serve as a wake up call. It’s curious why they don’t. Is it a death wish? What health complaints have you heard or experienced lately? Maybe people don’t want to eat healthy because the food isn’t especially pretty.

last night's dinner, before we ate it

This was what Steve and I had for dinner last night, Adzuki Bean Quinoa Sesame Pizza. Claire had spaghetti. I am happy to report that our pizza tasted considerably better than I thought it would. Also, we ate less. Two small pieces each and we were satiated, well-nourished and I felt good knowing that.

energy bars, before consumption

A staple of the Thrive diet is energy bars. They provide “nourishment that delivers sustainable energy” are easy to prepare in a food processor and don’t require cooking. The ones pictured above are the Chocolate Blueberry Energy Bars and are made from dates, almonds, cacao powder, ground flaxseed, hemp protein, sesame seeds, lemon juice, sea salt, buckwheat and frozen blueberries. It’s suggested to have a stockpile in your freezer because they’re good to grab when you’re in a hurry. Clearly, this is not a sexy item. Perhaps it’s the way I made them. I don’t know. I do know they’re edible and have effectively curbed my appetite.

One day at a time. One bar at a time!

I am taking this diet one day at a time. Like I said in a prior post, I want to experience peak health. I want to know what if feels like, perhaps for the first time in my life. I am committed to this process and I will keep you posted about my journey. I have been delightfully surprised by my ability to resist poor food choices these past four days. I didn’t know if I had it in me and so far my resolve is strong. Perhaps Brendan Brazier is correct when he claims that his thrive diet will help eliminate junk-food cravings. It has for me, apparently, and I’m an addict.

I have provided links to the thrive diet website so you can go there and learn details about the Ironman’s nutrition plan. Also, I found a great synopsis of Thrive on a website called Philosophers Notes where a man named Brian Johnson summarizes the key points of this book, and 100s of other personal enrichment books. It’s a COOL website, and I have linked that for you as well.

I like to share the things I like.