Saturday, December 8, 2012

Working through the change of life...

I've been ensconsed in fitness and nutrition my whole life. So this all should be a no-brainer. Right?? Well...if only it were that easy. I've been pondering all night why I am dragging my heels to simply turn in my paperwork on a program and a process that I can conquer with eyes closed, walking backward, with hands tied behind my back. The truth of food and all of its highs and lows are so obvious to me, that it makes me angry whenever I don't follow my own advice, simply because I know better. But really, to honestly open up on a topic like food in a live journal is both a crazy reality and a mystery to me, since food has always been an awesomely sore subject. It has also been an exciting and inviting adventure into the unknown. Results may vary.
I'm sitting in front of my  computer as we speak. I have a test open right now, that I have two hours to pass. I have to pass with more than 70 percent, which I feel will be relatively easy. However, as for listening to the lectures and really throwing myself into the lesson of nutrition conversations and experimenting, I have not done it on the level I thought I would, back in September. I am also mystified that I started reading several books on food to help motivate me to dig a little deeper and detox myself, when it seems so apparent that I am not pushing to meet my food goals to the degree I would have hoped for at this time. I was supposed to be camera-ready for my shoot, and that was supposed to have happened before school began. hm. There's an issue there.
I'm reading and listening to these gurus in their respective fields. I look at presenters giving fairly magnificent workshop presentations on their specialization, and I await that moment when it becomes me who gives that workshop.  I am that magnificent person. I know that I have what it takes. It is a matter of making time and efficiency work for me, instead of against me.

I think that's in large part what this program is for: empowerment. Period. Being in charge of your life, even if it feels out of control. I would think that part of our reason for staying in old patterns is partly due to comfort zone, but also due to what we can't control.
 If we've lost weight momentarily and weren't able to hold onto its release, we are still trying to control that part of ourselves that created the gain in the first place, and it wasn't the food. We also cannot control the unknown. To me, this is a huge sore spot in many, many people I have spoken with as clients and friends. Starting a diet, running a business, making ends meet are all things we control. What happens when we find success with it? ..we can't always see that far ahead enough to plan it out.
One of the reasons I haven't picked up more clients is for the time I think I'll "lose," in exchange for the money I'll "gain." It's a funny mind play. Now in the end, what do we choose to do instead of the mind play? I used EMDR therapy for a host of issues I had with the energy flow of money and food. Also, teaching yoga has done much to help offset and improve my mind and emotions.

Meanwhile, it's tough to nail something down with...glue...

Reducing my intake on the long road to detoxing.

Ugh. Foiled again by the morning dew drops, acting as lid closers for my eyeballs...and then, it happened. 6:40a. I jump up with a start and realized I had wiled away my morning with sleeping instead of getting myself together for my timely departure. Nothing was intended to fail. Not today. Until....

After having a spoon of natural peanut butter and pounding a small cup of warm tea before driving to work, I ask Kai to pack my lunch. What a great kid. The only thing is that I don't have much to put in there in the way of solid food.
I actually had gotten myself to school on time and I was ready to work. I already had my plan in place for the day. It was only a matter of execution, that was standing between me and my teaching plan.  But now it had gotten to that time of day where my digestion finally awakens from its slumber and begins rumbling mildly while asking for food. Well of course I am non-compliant at first, and slow to progress. Then I realize my stomach is beginning to gently demand that I honor this request.

Really, I've been taking mostly raw food to school in the form of apples, banana, cucumbers and kale salad, almonds, walnuts and dried fruit. I throw in cottage cheese and greek yogurt for good measure. Walking the walk is so 3p, I felt super hungry, so I caved and ate a bag of munchies, 2 eggs with a tortilla and cheese, in addition to half a high protein shake (I got 20g of quality protein and 40g from a full container). I call this caving, since the food wasn't completely on point. There's crowding, reducing, and now, caving. But whatever. I think it was me wanting something solid and not caring after a full two weeks of morning mist for breakfast. I was hungry. Big energy output escapade, sated.

I'm finishing dance rehearsal and flying to Mike's class. Once I get there, I'm not sure I have the calories to get the job done. I asked him on this day to throw in some doozies for the program...and boy, they were great. I did the best I could and felt nauseous as a reward for all my hard work. Yay.
So I'm sitting at the computer and I start to feel that stomach rumbly tumbly thing again, only this time, I'm feeling it in my skin, my neck, my thighs. Each area wreaked of weight loss. We all know how much the body likes to keep it right where it is. But we aren't going to let that X-factor in, so I got up and made a vegan crab cake and vegan shrimp with potato and pea samosas.

Ultimately I feel I am increasing my workout workload and crowding out poor foods while reducing my intake a little. My goal is to get to a full detox, the style of my choosing. I'm virtually gluten/wheat free. While I am confident I will reach my goals, I am perplexed at the profundity of not already having achieved my dreams this round.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chronicles #6: Detox Detailing

As promised, here is a bit more insight into my thoughts as a woman preparing for a detox. I'm coming to this after years of grappling and being diligent with diet. Here we go.

1) Prepare your mind, body and spirit for a detox.
**Simply, don't go in there empty-handed!! Have a plan: a mental plan, an emotional support plan, a spiritual plan. These can be in the form of journalling, meditation, talking to friends going through the same trials, positive self-talk, a contemplative "fall back" state, when things seem to slide, or altogether go wrong.

2) Detoxing is a mind-body-spirit activity, not just a cleansing of your internal organs.
**EVERYTHING is releasing, not just the physical intestinal tubing. All koshas will cleanse. You will think and feel differently, act differently, and sense your world in a more compassionate, sensitive way.

 3)EVERYTHING will release. Eventually.

4) Journal your thoughts and feelings. Remember them. Remember how the toxic food made you feel.

5) Surround yourself with people who are aligned with your goal. Either that, or suffer every other person offering you a latte and candy bar.
**It's kind of like getting the Negative Nellys away from your goal. Even if the person doesn't mean to rub it in your face that they are about to eat six double whoppers, if that's your favorite food, don't let them affect your mood. And if it comes down to it, avoid them altogether, until your goal is accomplished.

6) Failure is not an option.
**Did you hear that? Or should I say, did you read that? If you were to go off your detox, go right back on and don't skip a beat. You'll probably feel the regret of having done this through the way your system will feel, but it will be a valuable lesson.

7) Going gradually will allow your mind to accept the plethora of steps and changes you will really be going through. It's an internal transformation.
**Changing your lifestyle, after living it for a number of years, is not something you can change overnight. While this is an obvious statement, it's always scary when someone goes into a lifestyle plan all gangbusters and you already know the outcome, mostly because you already did it. And it didn't work.

8) Know the goal. Truely.
**Write it out and talk about it with the right people. Shop about it: take someone you love  to the store with a grocery list and recipes. Get creative while frugal and get one food item that can work six ways, for example.

9) Be public about it, for accountability purposes.
**The more people know about it, the sillier you feel, and the more incomplete you feel, if you don't accomplish the goal.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Food Issues

There will be no more prolonging the truth that lies behind my diet: I need to be on one.

In all seriousness, there are some foods that I am eating, that even as a vegetarian, I should not eat, and it seems to be the hardest thing in the world to get my mind to wrap around letting go of that food which does not give me my best life. So far, the healthiest and cleanest way to run your diet, is to not eat the processed foods which give instant bloating and pain to the body. Even more surprising than that, though, is once you've gone into a new lifestyle, a new way of doing ways must be incorporated that cleans up all the clean choices you've made! You would be surprised at this point, what needs to go. These are the foods that I am somehow resisting in my mind. In fact it is the same mechanism that won't allow me to even go there without alot of self-coaxing and encouragement. I spent my entire youth growing up on a diet. I never thought I would utter those words... ;))

Thinking of Going Wheat-free, then Gluten-free for a while.

I realize how much resistance I have to any nutritional plan that remotely resembles a diet. Here's why. I spent most of my early years ensconced in the ways of Dr. Atkins. I yo-yo'd myself to the brink of despair, feeling fat almost everyday of my life. I know I wasn't too different from the others. But something had to give...interestingly enough, though not a surprising fact, it was part of the reason for my going vegetarian, was just a complete rebellion from all things related to Dr. Atkins. I didn't like that man, though he let me eat a lot of fat and carcass. Mmm. But he wouldn't let me have any cakes, pies or doughnuts. This should have been a good thing, if it weren't for the Sweet n' Low sweetened sorghum breads and carrot cakes. They tasted egg-y and saccharin-y...not a good combo. As a young woman jones'n for a bite of something sweet, that was all they had in dieter's jail.

So today I entertain the idea of going wheat and gluten-free because I've been on quite the heavy balanced and varietal diet of foods spanning all realms. I just seriously need a food vacation, and not because of Thanksgiving. I've been needing one since a couple of months ago, and in particular last month, where I simply started feeling the urge to cleanse my digestive tract. I was feeling full.

I feel better now, as I've done quite a few things to jog my system into play. Cucumbers are incredibly remarkable tools of digestive exiting, for example. But what can I really eat? This alone was my main concern.
This is what I had found out on my new sojourn: Here's an A to Z list of gluten-free foods.

Secondly, based on what I had found, would my sore muscles be to a lesser extent or a thing of the past without wheat? I also read that it would promote mental clarity.

Now, if I were to go gluten-free, I have already noticed packages that are being very clear about our gluten-free thoughts in mind!! Here are some gluten-free foods.

Gluten-free grains:

• Amaranth
• Brown, white, and wild rice
• Buckwheat
• Corn
• Millet
• Quinoa
• Teff

 My search continues. The mystery ensues.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Overhaul

You don't have to stop eating healthy in order to enjoy the holidays.

I think the hardest part about the holidays is making healthy food happen intensely around the lesser food choices. It takes practice but can be achieved with time and attention. For example, if pie is really going to be an inevitable event, then a large salad needs to make sure it finds your lips, and not the kind with fattening ingredients that end up making the salad a calorie nightmare. Have you seen the calorie totals on some of these fast food salads for example?? Add to that, the dressing and preservatives used. You are pretty much not getting too far health wise, if you're still loading up your salads with extra added calorie giants.

I have a few ideas that can definitely help you control your intake and cravings. Even if you've heard these ideas before, it will serve as reminders.

1) Have 1-2 apples in the morning on an empty stomach, with a 1/2 tsp. of Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. I also recommend an acidophilus supplement.
2) Down a glass of water ten minutes before a meal. (no-brainer.)
3)  Drink hot tea with every meal, preferably black, green or white tea, because it contains L-theanine, which supports digestion and metabolism.
4) Have as many hot meals as you can. This also supports digestion.
5) Take triphala churna. The loose herbs can be mixed with water, but it is very bitter. However, it is said to balance all three doshas of Ayurvedic medicine. When one system is not in balance, the rest slide, eventually egging on illness. If you eat excessive sugar, this can lead to imbalance and physical conditions such as candida, or colds and flu.
6) While you're taking triphala churna, consider taking aswaghanda as well. This herb has an anti-stress, soothing effect on the body.
7) Drink Tulsi tea.
8) Deeply breathe and contemplate your food choice before consuming. Remember that food, as in love, is a decision.
9) Consider a day of raw food and/or juicing one day per week as a weekly health check-in. It is said that mucus builds from toxic matter (ama) staying behind after food is metabolized. Disease accumulates from having excessive mucus in the intestines.
10) Find kale super appealing, and use it for everything! Eat kale with a little olive oil and salt, or wrap around veggie meat, pickles, olives or other foods you like.
11) Make kale chips and salt them well. Crumble and use them as a healthy seasoning for foods.

Oh, and have some almonds. It helps to stave off hunger. But don't go nuts.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Feel your Food.

What if you were to tap into your deepest level of discipline, take a quiet body scan, see what is going on inside of you without any judgment, poured a particular something in, and listened again? What do you think you would find?

I really think I opened up a can of worms with this one, because I proved to myself that listening would help me hear something. So I did. I did not want to eat cheese and white flour, so I took the kids to our city's wednesday night food truck fun and realized that eating out is mostly for those who aren't too concerned about their weight or health. At least that's how I felt after walking away from the trucks with a cheese quesadilla with a white flour tortilla and pinto beans. ...What??? Did I think they'd use a whole grain tortilla in the middle of Sunland? Well this might be what Sunland needs...

When that first mental note is hit, "I'm hungry," it usually sets off a chain of physical, reactionary events that cause one to make some hasty choices. Instead, listening to the mind speak of hunger, and feeling the physiological actions that follow, become a deeper breath, a widening of the eyes, and a lowering of the ear to the ground, in order to know what the body, mind and spirit, is really asking for.

Once you make the move to achieve a hot plate of something, place your hands over the edible subject, and feel its vibrations, revealing the power and energy that is contained in the food, that will become you, on a cellular level, within hours.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chronicles #5: Boxing with Detoxing

Here is the unadulterated truth about fasting: I don't really want to do it.
Yes, there, I said it. I am probably in alignment with many of us who just have a resistance to giving up anything that has been an important survival tool in our lives to this point, and many of us really believe it. Meanwhile, I'm one of those types that, even after studying EVERYTHING, have come to the conclusion that fasting isn't for me, and that I'll rule it out.
Well, I've been wrong all of these years. The fact harder to face was that it was simply hard for me to fast. Now, I'm not talking about anything too extreme, but I am talking about something that makes me mildly uncomfortable. In the past anyway, I had to worry about my blood sugar taking a serious nose dive. I don't worry about this anymore because I've cleaned up my diet so diligently.

If I didn't have a middle name, it would be "sugar addict." Yes, it's true, I've been addicted to as many sweet things as possible, and thank goodness it has completely improved. Now having realized that sugar is the key to illness (I've known this for some time, try since I was 9), I set myself on a course to look sugar in the face and send it packing. I think I'll save this next chronicle for a more detailed look at sugar.

Anyway, I'm finally ready to make the change, but gradually. In fact, for all those who have done a cold-turkey fast, I have something to say to you: this is not a good idea. The system and all of its toxins are not ready for if you're ready to feel like real hell and risk other forms of internal damage, then go ahead and do things aggressively. It would be like working out for 3 hours your first time out. Not a long-term solution by any means.

There are some things I've learned this past few weeks on detoxing. This is a baseline. detoxing is a science.

1) Prepare your mind, body and spirit for a detox.
2) Detoxing is a mind-body-spirit activity, not just a cleansing of your internal organs.
 3)EVERYTHING will release. Eventually.
4) Journal your thoughts and feelings. Remember them. Remember how the toxic food made you feel.
5) Surround yourself with people who are aligned with your goal. Either that, or suffer every other person offering you a latte and candy bar.
6) Failure is not an option.
7) Going gradually will allow your mind to accept the plethora of steps and changes you will really be going through. It's an internal transformation.
8) Know the goal. Truely.
9) Be public about it, for accountability purposes.

I'll go into detail about the steps I've talked about in my next one...Namaste.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chronicles #4: Planning My Food

I shopped at Whole Foods today. By the way, this is not a requirement for planning a proper healthy meal. I need a third job in order to afford Whole Foods, but there are foods I find here, that I don't find anywhere else. It also adds a ton of diversity to an otherwise fairly basic, plain food existence.

I digress.

A lady approaches me in line and, after noticing my meal planning list, asks, "do you regularly plan your meals?" I blushed a bit and told her that I was doing the best I could to plan weekly, and she replied, "wow, that is so good. I'd like to be able to do this too." I am always encouraged to press on when someone else recognizes my healthy efforts, just as I encourage and inspire people to adopt a healthy habit or two.

I have a printable page I used called The Eat Sheet, and it organizes your food choices into a box for each day, and a space to make a grocery list right next to it. I like the convenience and organization it offers. If you wanna do this too, go to for this and other organizers. This is what I need the most, is practice putting it all together and carrying out the plan.

Eating well is mostly about having an excellent plan that you don't let fail you. You use it with discipline and diligence, and you save about fifteen or so minutes to put it together before heading to the store, since it also keeps you focused. For that matter, you took a look at your finances and set aside a certain amount for shopping against what you knew you'd want to eat, so throughout the week, you looked here and there for recipes or ideas so that you knew what money you'd spend. I know for myself it is a stellar method of placing me on the correct aisles. Otherwise I have a cut-off point. When I get to this point I shut down and can no longer continue on. I need to stop shopping because I will grab a bunch of food I didn't plan on consuming. So it goes, if you didn't plan on consuming it, chances are there will be a wasted meal somewhere in there, and you will begin counting your dwindling money with a bit of frustration for what this cost you. Food is not terribly cheap when you've wasted it.

This week I planned my meals around salads. I wanted healthy salad vegetables since I've been craving this, so I began there. Then I looked to see what ingredients I'd need to complete my salads. Finally, I'd add in the protein and side grain or legume of my choice into this week. I'm looking at eating daily salads and getting legumes in at least twice, calcium and green sources daily, and high protein daily. My fiber comes from a high fruit intake as well as a quality grain, in addition to the salads. Either way, a balanced profile of colorful foods are on the agenda this week. I'm also trying to make the fruit and vegetable the highlight of every meal. The other foods I get are only to ground and round out my macronutrient needs, until it's time for my detox. Then the rules will slightly change...this is the ramp-up for success.

Here's my menu.
Monday: Raw Kale Salad with cranberries and pine nuts, hickory smoked tofu, smoked soybeans and "ham"
Tuesday: Apple lemon honeydew grape salad, veggie chipotle sausage
Wednesday: Lemon Napa cabbage, red quinoa, fried tofu
Thursday: broccoli salad with veggie bacon, maybe another veggie sausage or leftover tofu
Friday: Gluten free brown rice pasta with Quorn brand naked breasts cooked in coconut oil, veggie cobb salad
Saturday: Protein pancakes with Chia seed, watermelon mint smoothie
Sunday: Veggie turkey alfredo, mango avocado smoothie

I am keeping saturday open for shopping, sunday for prep cooking, and a few minutes during the evening to cook the protein source. Otherwise from the salad to the grains, most can be made in advance. Okay, I gotta start prepping! Lots to do! More to come.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chronicles #3: Having a Moment

So, I think I'm having a moment.

It's one of those moments where I feel awesome and confident, workouts are super consistent, I'm feeling strong, then fat, weak and insecure. Then I feel I'm on a losing streak, then I feel I sabotage it with eating. Then I feel I'm laughing all the way to fat loss, then I'm cycling up on hormones, nearing my menstrual cycle. Blessed and distressed, all at once!

...And so far, I see that this is completely, wonderfully normal, amongst us all.

It's not just reserved for the women, either. Have you ever dated a bodybuilder? If you thought you worried about your body, imagine someone who criticizes themselves way more deeply than you can even imagine yourself critiquing. For that matter, let's throw other athletes into that same mix, and you have a mix of people, that's everybody, who has a moment or two, or fifteen.

What I have found in my years as a dancer is...
1) No one critiques you as hard as you do. No one.
2) It never looks as bad as you think it does.
3) If people love you, they love all of you.
4) Only hang around people you love.
5) Your body only swells if you're eating something toxic.

....wait a minute. And here I thought it was hormones.
You see, it is hormones. And it isn't. Here's the deal. Sometimes we eat and set off certain hormones and chemicals, igniting a sound symphony of chemical responses in the brain. Brain says, "okay. Let's have more of that." You have more of that, then, on top of all the hydration needs you have which goes up in extreme temperatures, and you have one dehydrated, dirty cell girl (or dude) that needs a bit of flushing, instead of more toxic food (take flour, for instance). Any food that causes you an allergic reaction, desire to consume caffeine, fatigue, or bloating/swelling or aching of the joints, is a TOXIN. The toxins build and try desperately to protect the organs from stressing, thereby resulting in weight gain.

Want to have more moments? Just keep eating these things.

I proved it to myself recently that I was doing the right thing by keeping my diet free of anything involving much baked goods, even by way of whole grain bread. So once I decided the coast was clear, three or so weeks later, coupled with the feeling of being sometimes sleepy, and I realize I may be eating too much flour and in my case, dairy, a sign of a toxic overload.
So sure, you're gonna feel a bit underwhelmed by letting go of this food...but what if letting go was the best thing you had ever done? Once you're over  your anger and resistance to this "fun" you think you were having in your life, you'll realize how much healthier and leaner you look and feel. The body is just like a balloon. Put more air in it and it'll just explode, at some point.

The good news about your body is, you can usually return from the overage.

Discipline is such an excellent concept to deeply grasp. Once you fully understand all the mechanics of discipline, you will begin to benefit from it...the diligence is so rewarding.

Work in Progress,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Special Edition Feature: Childhood Diet Fad Debacle

At a very early age, my image of myself was completely shot.

I had a huge belly, I walked like a duck, and had problems with my feet and back because I didn't get to walk until after 3 years old. I had scoliosis and braces for shoes. The docs said I would never walk, but look at me now, with a degree in dance and theatre. Wow, had I listened to the doctors, I may have just crawled into bed and not chosen the morning to rise...
Spending years suffering, in pain, hypoglycemic and sick quite often, led me to understand just exactly what it was I was dealing with. I was dealing with people who meant well, but did not have all the answers, at least to my feeling better. Who knew that the answer was truly in my food?

My mom spent my young life teaching me about the evils of sugar and the joys of a super high protein and fat intake. Beef this. Beef that. Ribs for lunch. Roast for dinner. Ah ah, just two cups of vegetables. We don't want to encourage a blood sugar surge! Wow. It came to the point where, every chance I got, my body rejected the Atkins low carb lifestyle. Little by little, the voices and choices got louder and louder. Flour-free bread made with sorghum and those sugar-free candies from Estees began to get the best of me after 12 years. The years passed, my disdain for my body grew, and the binge-purge cycle had begun.

By 15 I was dieting on tuna and the equivalent of one salad and one slice of bread a day. Mom encouraged it. My mom was convinced that carbs was what made her and I fat. I lost about 35 pounds, going from 125 to 92 pounds in about 8 weeks, which I was so proud of. But every few weeks, I felt like eating an entire cake and began sneaking out any sweet treats or carbs I could make available to me. Of course my Dad would purposely buy chips and donuts to taunt us, because as he would say, He wasn't on a diet, but we could help ourselves to it. That was like a diabetic child in a candy store. Of course I wanted it! But if I did, the consequence would be great.

Dancing and competing kept me so obsessive about my weight that I started to stick my finger down my throat as an experiment and way to offset my cravings. I figured, there's gotta be a better way to feed my cravings and stay thin! It only resulted in my crying in the mirror while drinking down a glass of water, only to vomit minutes later. Yeah, ten Reeses peanut butter cups had even to me, become obsessive. All I could think of, was how I did not even give the candy a chance to digest, before I decided to relieve myself of my guilt. All Mom could say was, "why are you crying? My child has gone crazy." I never shared my brief bout with bulimia, ever. I didn't think anyone would understand at the time.

By 17, the moment of truth had come. Starting a college dance program had brought some serious changes, among them, the desire to lose the weight I had gained by resting completely between summer and the new fall. I completely rested every summer I can remember. No activities except dancing would occur in summer. So here it was, me and my scale. I nearly jumped out of my skin. A staggering 151??? How was this possible? I think I cried for 14 days.

Even though I'm exaggerating a bit, I'd have to say this is when the exercise mania began....even the exercise bulimia....but I didn't want to change my eating habits...though I did abandon the low carb concept, once and for all. Now it was the all carb concept. All and any food, the "see food" diet we would always joke about in the days at school. Donuts, ramen noodles, wonder bread, pastrami and Hillshire Farms sausages were my mainstays. Pizza, burgers and catfish made the second string. Vegetables and fruit were nearly nonexistent. Although I brought it down to 135, my weight hovered around 144 with lots of muscle and about 6 hours of daily exercise, whether dance or capoeira. After college, I turned down the opportunity to apply for Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and decided to become a homemaker, albeit a weak one. After crying for another two weeks straight, I spent the next five years making sure I would never complain about my weight again. I remember struggling with some very light weight on the gym floor with a friend who was running marathons, named Jeanine. I finally found some healthy, low fat eating habits, and began to fall into place until...

The question of huge change loomed over me. It was time to make a decision about the fate of my marriage, so I decided to run until I came to an answer. I think that was when I really went into a minor bout of exercise bulimia. More excessive than the first, I'd lift for an hour, run 30 miles a week, teach 8 hours of cardio and 12 hours of dance. Um, yeah, and I did that for years. Too much.
Part of it was a deep dissatisfaction I had with my inability to control my calories and food but also a disdain for how I looked. Image had been so much a part of my life growing up on stage that it hurt to be me. I was no MJ, but one can only imagine what he must have suffered through.

Some would still consider this extreme, but I found my road again when I did yet another thing I never said I would do, next to running a marathon, and that was to become a vegetarian. Even though the last 12 years of vegetarianism are a story in themselves, it brought me more balance cumulatively than the alternatives. My mom muttered, " wow, next you'll be a hippy liberal teaching yoga." Is she psychic? ;)

Chronicle #2: Drinking my veggies

From green tea to smoothies to coconut water, I have found more ways to pour nutrients down my throat in one sitting. I know this is not some revelation or any kind of surprise. Smoothies are not a new thing. But when Cooking Light asks me to blend spinach with honeydew, I do it, knowing that the combination is sure to be a nutritional win.

Smoothie Celebration
I saw several recipes that I am inspired to try, all in the latest issue of Cooking Light. I tried the honeydew and spinach smoothie, (1 c. spinach, 1.5 c honeydew, 1/3 c. vanilla yogurt) and was in Heaven! It is such an easy way to drink a salad and have your fruit without blinking. I could see myself drinking this as a breakfast delight or late night snack. Yes, I in fact did not resist the urge to sound like a commercial. It was that good.
I have a recipe for a pina colada smoothie and watermelon mint smoothie, a peanut butter berry smoothie...and I'm pretty much going to try them all. I feel a certain triumph in pulling out my hand blender and making produce happen again. It's been too long since I've entertained cooking and combining interesting ingredients. It really never gets old, and certain recipes never lose their appeal. It takes me minutes to prepare, and my son can enjoy them as well. At a moment in my life where I want my body in peak condition, these smoothie combinations couldn't come at a better time.

Green Tea
I'm thoughtful while sipping on steamed green Japanese tea. I can't wait to have enough to support my gyokuro green tea habit. I'm all set to buy a 16 oz. bag of the stuff for about 94 dollars from Adagio teas (they are online and make the best flavor blends). Yeah, that's not just cash laying around. That's someone who's truly in the game because health is at stake. I decided not to purchase another small bag to save money in the long run. I'd better hurry though, since it's time for second flush, and then that'll be the next drinkable green du jour. There's also a delicious 8 percent oolong called pouchong. I love the taste and figure it'll be available when my gyokuro no longer is...gyokuro is the best part about spring. Sigh.

Coconut Water: Gatorade in the Wild
 Really, the nectar of the gods begins and ends with coconut water, for its rich electrolyte content, especially potassium. I don't think that most people realize just how important potassium is to energy and a healthy heart. It's the perfect scientific workout ratio for a sports drink, and it's low in calories. My energy was ebbing just earlier, and 16 oz. of coconut water picked me up pretty nicely. I have now tried about four different companies and each have a different flavor. I've yet to decide my favorite. So far I think Zico ranks at the top, and Zola is the sweetest. I'm hearing that if the coconut comes from Brazil, you get more coconut taste. Companies are innovating coconut waters by infusing them with coffee and chocolate and cream. It's an interesting way to keep it different, so that  we don't get tired of the water's taste, since to me, it's a pretty unique flavor.

Naked Juice: Nature's other fast food
So obviously apples, bananas and grapes are among the fastest foods one can eat while driving, but when in a pinch, I'll reach for a Naked Juice, if I want a quick dose of guaranteed nutrients in a juice that I can trust will be fresh.
My favorite drinks of substance are protein zone (mango), and berry veggies, because of its strong cherry flavor, and its fiber. My favorite juices are the pomegranate blueberry and the orange juice, though I try not to rely on pure juice to satisfy my hydration or nutrient needs unless mixed with something more substantial (like fiber or protein).

Conversation with Food Prices
A friend and I were having lunch today, and she once dated a chef, and is a foodie herself. She made a great point about how the majority of our money does, and should essentially go to food, because good food is important and vital. It made me think about the money I set aside weekly to eat healthfully. I do feel it pays off, sometimes immediately, sometimes in the long run. Either way, I make sure to spend on my food, whether I plan it or not. (I think I should begin planning it.) I have several books that I have yet to read, and I feel these books contribute to our sense of knowing what is our food, what is the industry teaching us, and what we can expect if we continue to ignore the crisis in our society regarding the food industry, flours and sugars, sustainable farming, fast food, etc. I think it's time to make a book list in a future post. Look for it.

The Chronicles of Food #1

Plan, plan, plan. Prep, prep, prep. Eat. Eat. Eat. Time it. I ate too little! I ate too much! Weekends are for pizza! Do I have the money to support my current eating habit? Do it again.

I look over at the kitchen, which sits in the bagua feng shui map in sector 4: knowledge, wisdom, self-improvement, Saturn (representing discipline). Last night, I cooked firm, salted tofu with olive oil, quinoa with tumeric, hard boiled eggs, and mixed dried cranberries into a cup of cottage cheese. I cut into a cucumber that somehow got frozen, in my fridge! Not sure how it happened but a beautiful piece of produce was completely ruined! No, I did not decide to give it a proper burial, unless the trash is sufficient.

I am beginning my brave journey of actually logging my process publicly. I've always admired people who chose to take basically near naked photos of themselves as they whittle their bodies down into sexy healthy goodness. Even though I have always been in the fitness industry, fitness for me was never about how cut I could get, but instead, how functionally strong I could be. It's not that I'm becoming shallow in the shadow of my 40s, but that I see a different purpose and method to my madness, now that my body has proper healing time. I was teaching too many classes, doing too much cardio, and basically burning my body out. Looking back at my life, my body was not behaving well. It was not properly assimilating macro or micronutrients. I was not eating enough proteins, and sometimes simply overeating.

Just recently I decided that enough was enough, and that it was no longer enough to just keep saying to myself that it was just be vegetarian and lifting weights. No. I needed a nutrition plan that worked for me without making me feel like I needed to deprive myself of anything. But it stands to reason, that certain foods, certain timing, and certain amount of load, make my body feel optimal. It's not that I can't eat anything I want. The timing though, it has just everything to do with how well I end up feeling at the end of a day. And quite frankly, I want to feel good enough to get that workout in everyday, knowing this will improve my goals.
 Sometimes it seems as if there's really not much to this. Then I get a reality check about mine own nutritional complication I bring into the picture, such as this evening, when Valrhona chocolate and raw almonds seemed to call me at the same time, and I begin to see the patterns and traps that most come to me for, in order to help them see a path through.
This summer was about going deeply within, but it was also about seeing how others share the light of similar struggles all around. I have finally decided to pick up my staff and lead people the way they were meant to be lead, through the nutrition walk with more intensity than before.

I joined a community called Integrative Nutrition. I am now on the road to becoming certified as a health and life coach. It gives me the chance to dig through a number of questionable systems and get the low down of the nutritional book writing industry. I really want to know why authors and doctors have come to their conclusions, and how I can make the whole process a little less confusing and a little more compromising, more loving and more interactive, a customized experience...just from the changes in timing I have noticed muscularity and build. There is so much more to say, but I'll stop here by saying that, from wherever you are, are, adding this nutrition piece to exercise is the perfect marriage. I took my first set of pictures and I am so excited to see the changes.