Friday, December 26, 2014

Why January?

It seems like every year on the day after Christmas I have at least two thoughts that go through my head.  The first thought is "Wow, Christmas has already come and gone!"  I have visions of all the preparation, and anxiety leading up to that day.  The second thought is, "Now I have a huge mess to clean".

If you are thinking like me, you have a few things on your to do list, but you are also thinking about how thankful you are that you have made it through another holiday season and will be happy to get back to a life where sweets aren't jumping in your face every time you turn around.

I have been thinking about why people return to the gym in a more concentrated fashion in the month of January as opposed to other months.  I know part of it is New Years resolution, but I think there is a little more to it than that.

Now that the tree is back outside where it belongs, there is no more shopping to be done, and you can get back to sanity, you now realize there might be a little more time opened up in your schedule!

How many sweets did you receive this season?  How many did you bake?  How many did you eat?  What about Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner?  What about all the holiday parties?  These are the thoughts that plague us and ultimately drive us into the gym.

It's continued attendance that eventually becomes a problem.  How do we get to the gym and stay there?  No two people are the same, but there are some similarities in methods to keeping ourselves committed.  The biggest aid to body shaping success is having a goal!

The best kind of goals are S.M.A.R.T goals.

This is a good place to start, and for accountability you can always call me!

Friday, August 29, 2014

5 common set backs made by people with the best intentions

1. More is more!!!!
Now when it comes to physical fitness, I am not going to say less is more, however there are certain guidelines one should follow, especially when beginning a new workout program, or returning from injury, or a sedentary vacation.  A bad example would be; using the most advanced level of that killer workout video so results can be seen NOW, only to suffer injury or burn out before the light of a smaller pant size can ever be seen.
 What I have learned with using NASM's OPT model is that there are so many acute variables, that one could start off at a reasonable pace, gently progressing each variable (speed, time, resistance to name a few) to ultimately reach their goal.
 I have noticed with this approach that progression happens much faster than first anticipated.  Also, when one begins their journey at a reasonable pace, they can much easier see ways to progress.  For instance, one might say to themselves, "I have been doing the same thing for a week, I think I will add 2 more minutes to my time on the treadmill."

2.  I sweat, therefore I will reach my goal faster!!
I understand wanting to hit that goal NOW whatever it may be.  No matter if one is striving for a smaller physique or lean muscle tissue, both goals benefit from fat loss.  There are three successful ways to lose fat and they all work together.  First and most obvious is nutrition, second is resistance training, third is cardiovascular training.  With nutrition you probably won't sweat…unless you are fighting the urge for a doughnut, or have eaten a hot chili pepper.  In that case it's okay.  What I am referring to is people on cardio equipment with jackets, hats, and heaven forbid - the sauna suit-…I admit it, I did the sauna suit in the 90's because I believed if I could make myself sweat faster then I must be reaching my goal faster.  Let's break this down.  How do we lose weight?  Calories in/calories out, right?  RIGHT.  How do calories go out?  By getting your heart rate up?  YES.  By sweating?  nope.  If calories went away purely from sweating, then I know some high temperature people who should be skinny as rails.  Sweating is simply the body's way of displacing heat so that your heart can focus on your precious organs instead of having to work harder to get around it's heat issue.  So, let yourself sweat, but keep cool for as long as you can.  Stay hydrated!  For all the sweat you lose, it needs to be replaced.

3. I will make up a goal as I go along.
Goals are very important.  Goals are sort of a form of hope, and hope is the key to survival.  A great place to start is a SMART goal. (or type I had to write about 20 of these while I was in school.  I had to write them for myself, my test clients, and my imaginary clients.    As frustrating as it was I could easily see the value in this approach.  A SMART goal is an excellent way to communicate with a personal trainer, what it is that a client needs and wants.  It also is a great vessel to help them know exactly what it will take to reach their goal.

4. I don't need resistance training, I just want to lose weight.
How fantastic it is to think we don't need something just because in the past it seemed to work fine.  I will not argue that one can lose weight simply by running their hind end off.  I will say some pretty awesome things about weight training.  1. It puts on muscle, no, the individual will not bulk up (that takes a tremendous amount of work) 2. Muscle burns fat while at rest.  3. Weight training (when starting out with stabilization) improves posture and prevents injury.  4. One will be rewarded by the strength to lift and do things they previously could not.

5. The hardest thing will give the best results.
People should use caution here.  If a person decides to do something challenging, they should make sure they know what they are doing, and that they have worked their way up to it.  There is nothing more embarrassing than falling from a one legged squat on the BOSU when one has never previously stepped on the thing.  The gym floor may be carpeted or padded, but it is still hard!  That stair climber may be a better form of cardio because it strengthens ones legs and gives them muscle, but if they get off with a back ache, then that machine is not right for them at this time.  I say at this time because there could be a couple of correctable reasons for back pain.  1. Poor form (hunching etc…) 2. The need to strengthen the back muscles.  There are many fabulous ways to get desired results, they may not all be easy, but they also should not cause joint or back pain.

A good guideline for how often to exercise should be 30 minutes low intensity cardio 3-5 days a week (for the beginner), and resistance training 2 - 3 days a week with a rest day in between each resistance session.  One can do cardio on their resistance training rest days, however there should be at least 2 (*active) non cardio or resistance training rest days in the 7 day week.

*Active- still maintaining light activities, house cleaning, yard maintenance, work demands etc.

Hopefully you can see the overarching theme of this article.  Please take good care of your heart, joints, back, muscles, and remember there are several paths to achieving your goal that are healthy and injury free!

If any of this is confusing or vague, please feel free to comment or email me privately

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Burnt Out On Bananas

Banana's were never my favorite fruit, so you can imagine when I discovered that I liked banana ice cream that I was not only thrilled, but surprised.  I don't recall eating that much of it in the last two months, but when I went to have a banana/raspberry ice cream, I was disappointed.

When I think about all of the recipes that are sweet using just fruit and dates (I know dates are fruit, but they are dry) I realize there is a banana sneaked into every one.  I hadn't thought much about it, until everything started tasting like banana.  It really doesn't overpower the dessert, I think I am just sensitive to it.

So I keep wondering if I omit the banana if that will work.  Should I replace the banana with something else?  How about applesauce.  I am going to post it as a Facebook question, as I don't want to waste a bunch of ingredients only to not have it turn out, but then again, I may be willing to do that because, what if I come out with something non banana-ee that tastes great?!  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting to know Soocralena a little better.

I spoke in the first post about Soocralena, my refined sugar lover side.  She has been trying hard to get me to go back this week.  Last week it was dreams about donuts and gummy bears (I don't even like gummy bears), and this week it has been constant reminding of all the things I love.  

Last week she was quick to remind me of all the treats we like to have while we are camping, and saying things like "you can't seriously think you will never eat another s'more", or "What about pudgy pies?, everyone is going to think you are crazy if you don't indulge in one of those!".  It's the classic devil/angel on the shoulders routine.  Despite her case for the refined stuff, I have come up with a solution for the pudgy pie.  I cannot go into detail over what this camping delicacy is, but I will say that it has pie filling as an ingredient.  HELLO, I can make my OWN pie filling sweetened with either maple syrup, or dates, or cranberries, or…  That shut her up for a little while.

This week she hit me hard with chocolate cravings.  So I came up with this little recipe:
1/2 cup cashew milk
1 1/2 cups ice
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
8 pitted dates
Blend till consistency of ice cream.  
I even made an elaborate video to show you all how to make this…then I seen it elsewhere online.  I was a little sad that I had not originated the recipe, but really in actuality I had never heard of it before!  
Here is her recipe: Chocolate Shot

Well, that was not good enough, Soo needed some crunchy chocolate bar chocolate.  The funny thing is that I breezed through PMS without a single chocolate craving, hmmm, go figure.  I wanted to have something that was not sweetened with refined sugar, or any type of sweetener, so I got an idea!  I love ideas.

I decided to combine the cashew creamer I made (sweetened with dates) to a brick of 100% dark chocolate cacao.  That wasn't quite sweet enough so I added pure maple syrup.  There are so many other amazing ways to sweeten my treats that don't involve the white refined stuff.  I try to sweeten mostly with dates and fruit, but for the times I cannot, maple syrup is an excellent substitute!  

This bar of cacao looks identical to the many bars of chocolate I have eaten in my life.  It was so beautiful, had no added sugar and looked just like yummy dark chocolate.  I thought, how bad can it be?  It should be kind of sweet to me since I haven't eaten refined sugar.  Boy was I WRONG!  It tasted disgusting!  You know I did not take a small bite.  Oh it was so horrible!  Not only did I spit it out, I felt like my stomach was turing!  I may be exaggerating, but not by much!

So the first batch of candy I put in the freezer, then moved it to the refrigerator so it would stay hard.  I left a few out on the counter atop parchment paper, then was surprised this morning to find that they had hardened.  So I took the other candies out of the refrigerator and put them back on the parchment.  

Above are the first treats I made, then tonight I went to have one and smeared peanut butter (that I made sweetened with dates!) on the bottom of the piece of candy, oh man!!! 

So I decided it was time for a new batch of candy.  I don't know if the chocolate will harden because I added some almond milk along with the cashew creamer and syrup.  

In three days it will be my 21 day mark since I broke up with refined sugar.  It has really gone fast, I think because I have had so many ideas of how to sweeten my food, and also because I have been so preoccupied with wonderful vegan recipes.  I definitely think God is helping me with this because not only do I pray for Him to help me, He knows how damaging sugar is to our bodies and He wants us to take good care of our temple.  

I tried looking into articles to share with you the dangers of sugar, and most of them get off to a great start talking about the dangers of it, and how we are ending up with totally preventable diseases because of it, but then inevitably suggest sweeteners as replacements for refined sugar.  I refuse to post that to my blog when there are healthy alternatives that don't make your body crave more sugar.  

Did you know that most fruits get their weight from water, but dates get theirs from sugar?  Dates are not only rich in fiber, they are also full of nutrients, one of which being potassium.  Dates have a low flavor profile too, making them the perfect sweetener with calories aka energy that your body recognizes and becomes satisfied with!

Okay, the best news.  Remember how I said I was not doing this to lose weight?  Well, I have been watching what I eat not going overboard, just because that is what any sensible diet requires, but I have also indulged in some yummy stuff.  My pants have been feeling looser.  The scale only shows a 3 pound loss, but the measuring tape shows better AND my laser treatment lady noticed today!   So that is my plug for eating raw and eliminating refined sugar.   Until next time, thank you for reading!  

Great short article What Are Dates Good For?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Symptoms: weeks 1 and 2

My friend Retha made a good point when she said she did a 30 day sugar challenge and she liked that because she didn't have to feel like she was going the rest of her life without sugar.  Then it hit me, the reason I am able to keep up the fight with Soocralena is because instead of looking at refined sugar like something I cannot have, I look at it like something I don't want.  I have basically told myself that I can have it whenever I want it, but chose not to.  Still it is even more than that.  I think about what it means to eat it, (insulin spikes, cravings, head aches, fatigue, etc…) and then I think about all the other delicious choices out there.

I have adopted a mostly vegan lifestyle.  I cannot claim I am vegan as sometimes there are foods I wish to indulge in that go against vegan rules.  Even that is becoming rare.  What's happening?  I swore I was never going to be vegetarian, and now I am leaning toward vegan?!  Oh, but it is so fun!  There are so many delicious foods to make, and it is like unlocking a puzzle to find fixes for misses.  I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to get strung out on pretend meat, so instead of buying the processed frozen mock stuff, I am forced to make raw fresh food, and I LOVE IT!

Squirell!!  Okay, we were talking about sugar.  It has been almost two weeks since I had that wonderfully horrible sugar crash.  The first week I was exhausted and had refined bread and pasta cravings.  This week my cravings were more toward any kind of bread or grain I could get my hands on.  I tried not to give into it too much, but also didn't want to go flying the other way feeling deprived. I realize eating too many grains no matter what type of nutritional lifestyle you are living is not healthy, however if I need a little extra to get me through my sugar cravings…so be it.  I also struggled with head aches this week.  My energy is returning, however my menstrual cycle has begun, so that always drags me down a bit.  Since we are on the subject, I was so curious to see how this cycle would play out with the recent change.

Usually I am super anxious and grouchy about 4 days before I start.  The day before is always the worst, I always do something that I am apologizing for…always.  If I am not apologizing, I am freaking out about the shambles my house is in.  I also manage to get emotional and cry over anything.  This time the side effects of PMS were toned down.  I still had a little worry about my house, but decided it wasn't going to consume me, and I did not have to apologize to anyone!  Well, not for anything terrible anyway.  The number one thing that was great was that I didn't make my usual purchase of Hostess Pies, or give myself an excuse to eat 3 bowls of sugary cereal in the middle of the afternoon, or drag the family out for frozen yogurt.  Last night I got the biggest craving for corn chips, and you know what?  I ate them, and you know what else?  I truly enjoyed every crunchy bite.

When I tell people what I am doing, the reaction is always the same.  They say "Oh, well, I don't think I could give up sugar."  I instantly think that they think I expect them to.  I get nervous like they are not going to want to be my friend if they think that is what I want.  So I say, "Well, this is just something I am doing because I have so many issues with it, of course if you wanted to, it would be good, but if you aren't a binger  like I was…."  You get the idea.  My response is lame.  Still not sure how I should react, or what I should say, or if I shouldn't say anything at all.  It's kind of like when you tell people you run half marathons.

Well, Sunday will begin another week.  Hopefully I will have some yummy dessert suggestions in my next post.  Until then, please share with me any thoughts.  Are you trying to cut back on refined sugar, or worse, quit it?  I want to know.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sugar Reform: An unexpected culprit to overcome.

This experience is more than I bargained for.  Last year I did a 30 day quit sugar challenge, but I did not know about all of the resources available to me.  I lasted 21 days, then shattered like Humpty Dumpty made of glass.  I promised I was never going to do that again because going back to sugar was worse than just eating it every once and a while.  I apologize for not mentioning this, and I apologize for making it sound like I ate sugar all day everyday before beginning this journey.

1. I ate like a normal person not paying attention to all of the hidden sugar.
2. If I ate a cookie or any other sugary snack, that set the tone for the rest of the day.
3. I could go a day or two without, but once I would let myself have it back, it was a binge session.
4. My worst moment was when I added sugar to the top of Cocoa Pebbles cereal.
5. Dark rainy dreary days really aggravate my addiction.

So that is the long and short of how I behave with it.  Do any of you relate to these patterns?

Here was my weekend after deciding last week to break my addiction:
Friday night I was scheduled to take my daughter and her friend to the local bowling/arcade center.  I was craving pasta, a huge beautiful steaming plate of…okay, I need to stop.  Anyhow, I convinced the girls to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory then venture over to bowling as the two establishments were in close proximity.  I had my pasta and BREAD.  While I was eating, or shortly after, the words of Dr. Fuhrman were ringing in my head "Your body processes white flour the same way it processes refined sugar, that is one reason whole grains are better." (among many other reasons).  That is more of a paraphrase than a quote, but you get the idea.  All of a sudden it made sense!  Even though I was happy with the sugar replacements, i.e.. fruit, banana ice cream, berry explosion muffins…my body was craving the refined stuff.  Wow, this is bigger than I thought.  That was the night I came home and made the banana ice cream with raspberries, almond milk, and almond extract.  It wasn't a lot of calories and it hit the spot!

Yesterday (Saturday) I was having an irritable day and I was micromanaging every move my husband made.  I am sorry.  That's it, I am just sorry.  This is like having PMS when I am supposed to be enjoying two weeks of being a sane person.  I just have to remind myself that this is only temporary and I will be a WHOLE lot better off in the long run.  In my crazy cravings I have bumped up my grain intake…don't judge me, it's only to get me through the muck. One other thing is that I love cold cereal.  I have made the switch to Grape Nuts, and the other day all the grocery store had was Grape Nut flakes. Here is a concoction I came up with last night.

1. Half a bowl of Grape Nut Flakes, or whatever cold cereal you want (or oatmeal if you are being good)
2. A handful of blueberries
3. A small palm of sunflower seeds
4. A sprinkling of currents
5. 4 almonds broken up

I know this is not a "Recipe" but it is an idea.  It is a good way to have a treat that cures the crunchy sugary craving.  One more thing I think I should mention.  When it comes to packaged food such as cold cereal, I aim for 5 grams or less of sugar per serving.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Sugar Reform Why I am doing this.

With all the news about negative effects of refined sugar, I can assume it has made a few of us look at what place sugar has in our lives.  People are in search of something, anything, to replace the ultimate sweetness of refined sugar.  Some people turn to artificial sweeteners, or even natural sweeteners that have no calories.  I am hoping to break some of you free from this addiction as well.

I have learned something that I am hoping will make sense to you as much as it does me.  I have heard the concept before, but it really got nailed down when I watched the movie "Hungry for Change."  At least that is where I think say this (to paraphrase); Sweeteners, natural or artificial will lead to refined sugar cravings.  Reason being; when we put something sweet on our tongue, our body expects to process that into energy (weather we use it or not).  When you give it something that resembles energy, but in fact is zero, your body responds with an even more fierce desire for the real thing.  At this point a piece of fruit may suffice, but there is no way your mind is going to go for that!  Have you been here?

I have always been warned of the dangers of sweeteners, so I have not dabbled in them much, but I can speak about my dealings with refined sugar, and how my mind and body react.  Since reforming my eating habits and adopting a Nutritarian lifestyle (if you click the link it gives a great breakdown of the program).  I have become more in tune with my food processing system than ever before.  I love losing a couple of pounds here and there, who doesn't? But for me, this reform is not about weight loss, because, trust me, I would love to keep a few cookies and ho ho's on the side for cheat day.

For a person who wishes to make healthy choices, Sweet Tomatoes restaurant can be a double edged sward.  The unlimited array of salad toppings is the center of any veggie lovers dream dinner.  I have gone in there and stuck to the plan.  I know you cannot possibly believe me, as I barely believe myself, but I promise, I have done it…at least once.  The problem is when I make the decision to venture over to the baked goods, that is the station where my train derails. 

 Last weekend I had been to that restaurant twice.  The second time was on a Sunday morning for brunch.  I told myself (before I had made my sugar quitting decision concrete) "Go for it!  Have all the sugar you want, Monday is a new day."  The bible plainly states that we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.  The action I took in the next 30 minutes of this story really needed the working together for good. Each choice for my plate was sweeter than the next.  Sugary dust, sticky gooey apples, ice cream, cakes etc…I could not get it into my mouth fast enough.  I couldn't stop.  Once that refined sugar that I had not eaten all week touched my tongue it was like I could not control what I chose for my plate.  My evil sugar mind took over.  Her name is Soocralena.  

The next day was Monday, and I woke up feeling exhausted.  I rarely wake up that tired, even on a Monday.  After thinking about it I associated it with the sweets I had eaten over the week end, which were more than just my Sweet Tomatoes extravaganza.  I told myself I wasn't going to eat any sugar for at least the rest of the week.  That whole day I was irritable and craving the white refined stuff.  The next day I had another effect of the sugar show up.  I learned a long time ago that excess sugar intake can lead to shifts of chemistry in a woman.  I believe what happened was not good, but that God has worked it together for good in my life.  I made the decision right there standing in my kitchen to break free from refined sugar. 
1. I had a lot of other options I had been using to fill the sweet tooth cravings.
2. I knew it was like when I quit smoking for good, it had to be all or nothing.  I proved this week end that I cannot be a casual sugar eater.
3. There are other things I can remain addicted to and not bat an eye…like coffee.

As I posted my mission on Facebook, I have had some great recommendations of resources for sweet recipes.  I am super excited to check those out.  In the mean time, I had a muffin recipe that I was trying to make for 3 days.  The reason it took me so long was missing ingredients.  Once I had all my ducks in a row, I got down to business.  Here is a link to the recipe online.
Dr. Fuhrman's Berry Explosion Muffins.

Here is a list of the ingredients, you will find the full recipe in the link provided.
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp ground chia seeds
1 1/2 c white beans or 1 (15-oz) can no-salt-added or low-sodium white beans, drained
10 medjool or 20 regular (deglet noor) dates, pitted
2 bananas
10 oz frozen strawberries, thawed and divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 c fresh blueberries
1 c fresh raspberries
Here is part of the process:

I apologize for its blurriness.  The is the beans, dates, bananas, and strawberries.  

My eleven year old was sitting near keeping one eye on homework, and the other eye on my makings.  When I had this all built up she said "Wow, that looks colorful."  Yes, she asked about the beans.

This is what the mixture looked like once blended.  It tasted mostly like banana and almond extract.
I did not take photos of me mixing the dry ingredients with 

Here they are piled into the flexi-pan tin.  (again apologies for blurriness)

I knew not to expect them to get fluffy like a muffin from the photo in the cook book, and on the linked website 

I am happy overall with the finished product, however I vaguley remember reading that with flexipan®, you are not supposed to use muffin paper.  

I wish there was more about storage of these muffins.  I chose to store them on the counter in a large ziplock.  They have a very cake-ey consistency.  I plan to do the recipe again, sans the muffin paper.  I was really looking forward to sharing these with friends and clients.  

I will share more about what I made this week, and crumbling in my weakness in the next blog post.  Thank you for reading!