It Is What It Is…


My mother-in-law used to say, “It is what it is,” all the time. It used to kind of make me a little crazy. But now I find myself saying it all the time. My MIL passed away a couple of years ago and we, my husband and I, find ourselves thinking of her often. She was quite the gypsy, with an infectious spirit. I truly loved her and miss her a lot.

Ginger with DennyWhat I’ve discovered in my quest to find the healthiest foods and best diets, pills, potions, etc. to lose weight and get healthy is this – it’s still calories in vs. calories out when you’re trying to lose weight. Once you figure that out, the rest doesn’t matter as much. I’ve gone back to the same strategies I used when I did Weight Watchers and lost lots of weight. I’m now using My Fitness Pal, which I absolutely love. It makes the whole calorie-counting chore a lot easier to deal with. It’s even easier than Weight Watchers. I absolutely love the app on my phone.

I wish I could say that it makes a difference if the calories are nutrient-dense or if they’re just junk calories. But truthfully, it doesn’t. You may be hungrier if you eat empty calories versus eating spinach and broccoli, but if you stick to your calorie allotment for the day, you will lose weight. And exercise does matter. You can’t just take a pill, eat what you want, do no exercise and expect anything to change. It’s just not going to happen. You have to get your butt up off that couch and get moving! That’s how you burn more calories than you consume. It has always been that way, and always will be.

Stock photo courtesy WebMD

Stock photo courtesy of WebMD

I’m really relieved to make this discovery. It takes the unknown out of the equation. I can no longer say, “I just don’t know how I’m gonna lose this weight.” Because now I most definitely know the answer. I’ve gotten back up on that horse and started my weight loss journey again, armed with the right tools and mindset. I like Paleo and use my Practical Paleo cookbook a lot, but I don’t practice it anywhere near 90% of the time, or even 80%. Well, maybe it’s close to 80%. But somedays are better than others. And I love beans. So, I do some Paleo. And I do some other stuff. I just watch how much I eat.

There are, of course, some restrictions in my daily diet now that I never had to deal with before – I’m 100% gluten/wheat-free and casein/dairy-free 100% of the time. I can no longer have them since discovering my intolerances. Bummer. I really loved bread and cheese. They just didn’t love me back. In fact, they were kind of mean to me. They really did hurt me. So, our love affair is over and all I have are the memories. Sigh.assortment of baked bread on wood table

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other foods that are good for my mind and body. I still can enjoy a cookie or a piece of chocolate (dark only, though) as long as it’s gluten/casein-free. They have them out there now. I hate it for people who couldn’t have things and had to really go without for years before companies finally started making things special for folks with allergies. But I really try to keep my sugar intake to a very low minimum most days. I know that sugar is the worst thing for my body. I just don’t metabolize it right. Even smoothies with more fruit in them. I will gain a lot of weight just from adding smoothies into my regular diet. So, I have to keep those out.

And I can still have WINE! That’s important.

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I got back on my Shakeology too, which I love! It actually helps with my sweet cravings most of the time. I can’t believe I went so long without using it. But I’m back to using it now, thank goodness. It really makes a HUGE difference in how I feel. If I ever feel like I’m not getting quite enough veggies in my life, the Shakeology will give me a little extra boost.

I’m well into my journey now. I’ve already lost 10 pounds since I started nearly two months ago. I’m down to a weight I haven’t seen in several years. And that makes me exceptionally happy. And to think, I could have done this a long time ago if I hadn’t gotten distracted with all the latest diet crazes out there right now. But that’s okay. It’s been a wonderful learning experience. As always, I’m a work in progress.

To a longer, healthier and happier life.


My New Beginning – The Whole 30


iPhone Pics 207Well, it’s safe to say that I’ve backslid quite a bit. I’ve been in California for a year now and I think I basically threw everything I had learned out the window once we got here. We left Germany the first week of June, traveled to Florida and Texas to visit family for the whole month, then arrived in Cali the first week of July. During that month, we were forced to eat things we don’t normally eat mostly because we were not able to cook for ourselves. So, we ate fast food (yuck) and ate whatever was available at families’ homes. It was disastrous.

Fast forward to just a couple of months ago and here I am, I’ve crept up about 9 pounds (I initially lost most of the 15 pounds I had gained during the month of June once we got back to cooking our own foods) and I’ve started to have trouble with GERD again. It began with coughing after I eat. I knew something was not right.

The acid reflux got really bad again and I was feeling pretty miserable. I knew it was time to go back to the doctor to address my digestive issues, including the hiatal hernia I did not have corrected while in Germany. Bummer.

Of course, the first thing my doctor tells me is, “I need to put you back on the Nexium.” I was heart-broken. I’ve been off of that stuff for two years and really fought hard to not have to do it. But in the end, I conceded. And of course,  I’m also being referred to a brand new gastroenterologist. Sigh.

PaleoBookI had read not too long ago about a program called Whole30. If you aren’t familiar with the Paleo diet, then this will be a real eye-opener. I’ve been dabbling in the Paleo diet/lifestyle for several months and have really noticed some differences when I’m doing it right. It’s been an amazing discovery for me. I’ve learned a lot from the book, The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Phd. You can find it here.

I’ve also been following some awesome blogs on the Paleo diet.  I found blogs like Mark’s Daily Apple, and Rob Wolff. I love to look up recipes by typing in “Paleo diet” or “Paleo (insert food item here) recipe” and tons of recipes pop up! I’ve discovered awesome sites like Nom Nom Paleo and Melissa Joulwan’s awesome site full of the coolest recipes. And in the process of all this searching, I discovered The Whole 9 Life. This site, created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, is devoted to an extreme Paleo life. They began with a 30 day program to “reset” the body. They decided one day to make some serious, lasting changes in their diet and overall health and set about following a strict regimen for 30 days. Their results were so amazing, they began to share what they did with others. Soon, they had their website up and running and tons of folks they had helped change their lives for the better supporting them.iPhone Pics 1174

The plan is simple – eat whole, fresh foods from sustainable sources. Heal your body and give it a “do-over.” Feel better. Simple. Of course, the plan is simple, but not easy. You don’t just choose better foods, you also have to eliminate those things that damage your body.

That’s the most important part.

You must, for at least 30 days, make sure not to have any of the following:

  1. Sugar
  2. Alcohol (there’s my two demons right at the top of the list!)
  3. Grains
  4. Legumes
  5. Dairy (ghee is the only exception)
  6. Anything containing carageenan, sulfites, or MSG (you can also add nitrites and nitrates if you’re really serious.)
  7. White potatoes

I just started on my Whole30 journey a little over a week ago. I’m only on day 10. But I have to say, it’s been an awakening. And it’s been wonderful!

iPhone Pics 1190My vices have always been my downfall. Wine and chocolate. They’re my little demons that call my name most every night. But once I started on my Whole30 I turned them off. I thought it would be hard. And it was for the first couple of days, but then it wasn’t. I had a headache from day 2 to day 5, but on day 6 it was gone. I felt almost euphoric. What a wonderful sensation.

The food has really been the best part.iPhone Pics 1170

I have dropped a few pounds since I started (even though I know I’m not supposed to get on the scale. The Whole30 is about so much more than losing weight, after all.) But that’s not the best part. I’ve noticed that my foods taste better. I’ve stopped craving things. Period. Everything. I feel stronger during my crazy Insanity workouts with Shaun T. yelling at me to “push through.” My mind feels less foggy. I feel less lethargic. My energy levels are way up. I get more done during my day. I’m definitely more productive since I started.

What I’m really getting at is I love the way I’m feeling these days since starting the Whole30 plan. I feel “cleaner” on the inside. And I don’t want to stop at day 30.

I have my first gastro appt in years coming up on September 9 and I want to keep this going until then. I’m curious to see just how much good I can do for my body before I get to my new specialist. I know I’m probably going to have to have the surgery to correct my hernia, but at least I can give my body a chance to heal faster and feel better. And of course, I want to guarantee that the fix with stay put.

So, to ensure my success on all fronts, this may just become a new way of life for me. After my first 30 days, I’ll probably go celebrate with a glass of wine or two, but maybe by then I won’t want it as much. I certainly have realized that I don’t like the way I feel when I drink more than just a little. I didn’t realize how much of a difference it really made until I stopped it altogether.

So, here’s to a whole new me. I’m definitely on a good path and plan to stick with it for as long as I can. I really feel like this is a true “do-over” for my whole body, for all the years I put bad things in and damaged my insides. I’m hoping to really heal myself, physically and mentally, from all the years of living I did before I hit 40. (Yeah, that’s a scary number, huh?)

I’m off and running and nothing’s holding me back. I’m winning!

 

To a happier, healthier and longer life.


A Candy-Free Halloween


As someone who’s been gluten-free for a while now, I should know better. But yesterday I “glutenated” myself with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Ok, so it was obviously more than one. It’s a well known fact that no one can eat just one.) I really used to love those things, but I now know all too well just how bad they really are. I also noticed a weird chemical after taste that I don’t remember ever existing before. And of course, being highly sensitive to whatever is in these little cups besides peanut butter, I was sick for the rest of the night.
Which brings me to my Halloween decision for this year — a candy-free Halloween! I’m not being a revolutionary deciding this, as there are clearly lots of families who’ve given up the candy idea for healthier, more fun options. I read a fun blog post, “Real Food Tips: 20 Ways to do Halloween without candy” listing all kinds of alternatives to handing out candy along with some great ideas on what to do with all the masses of candy your kid will collect on his or her Trick or Treating outing. I personally love the idea of handing out the glow sticks. And as I read through the comments on the post, one person mentioned decorating clementines like little jack-o-lanterns with a Sharpie! Love that idea, too.


So, if you want to kick the GMO candy habit and go for something fun and healthy, use a little imagination and come up with something creative on your own. Or use one of the many fun ideas floating around on Pinterest and several blogs out there by super crafty moms. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a great idea and keeping all the nasty, GMO-laced candy out of our kiddos this Halloween. Or all the candy-filled holidays to come, for that matter. There’s no better time to start building healthy habits for our children than right now.

And just in case you aren’t familiar with all the GMO candies out there, here’s a great list.

Incidentally, GMOs are not the only reason to forego the candy at all the holidays, of course, but they happen to be completely unchecked in 90% of the candy out on the market that our kids just love to beg for. If you happen to live in California, you can help make a huge difference in the fight to get GMOs labeled in ALL foods, including all the candy within your child’s reach at every check out counter on the planet. California residents please VOTE YES to PROP 37!! We all have a right to know what’s in our food, especially the food our children love to eat!

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A bowl full of fun surprises…stickers, dracula teeth, scary finger tips, whistles…none of which contain GMOs or contribute to sugar overload. Win-win!

Have a safe and healthy Halloween!

To a happier, healthier and longer life.


A Long Hiatus


Greetings!

Yes, it’s been a few months since I’ve posted anything, but I’ve been in a huge transition. I had no idea just how crazy it would be to move from Germany to California with a couple of stops in between. But we’ve finally landed and gotten all of our stuff unpacked. Whew! It’s been a big learning experience, to say the least. Have I mentioned that I really hate moving?

California desert living, though, has been pretty awesome so far. The temperatures are amazing, the mornings and evenings are cool while there’s plenty of sunshine all day long. I missed the sunshine during my time in Germany, so this has been heavenly. We’ve also moved to California at a very interesting time – Prop 37, which will require GMOs to be labeled on food packaging, is being promoted very heavily across the state of California leading up to the big election. President Obama and Gov. Romney are having their big debates, too. America is quite heated on both sides of the fence and the tension is growing. How exciting!

But now, as fall arrives, I’m distracted by all things of the season. I love fall and am excited to be back stateside for the fall season this year. I signed up for an organic produce delivery here on base, www.abundantharvetorganics.com, and pick up lots of fun local produce every week. I love it! Along with the traditional produce, each week something that I’m not really familiar with comes along, like Chinese okra, or Delicata squash. Fun things that give me a chance to learn something totally new to me. Eeek!!!

I’ve been inspired so much since arriving here in SoCal. I’ve taken up canning and I’m expanding my knowledge base in this area. I’ve always made my own salsa and canned it, but now I’m venturing into jams and soups and have plans to can more diverse foods for my shelves. I canned salsa and soup yesterday with plans to do more jam this week. When my box arrives, I’m always excited to see what fun things will inspire me. These past two weeks it’s been pomegranates. And they’re amazing! So, I’m making some variety of pomegranate jam, probably combining them with some peaches or pears or both.

So, this is a short post this week, but I wanted to get back here and let everyone know that I’ve made it from one part of the world to the other safely and happily. I have some work to do today, so I’ll write more next time. And don’t worry, I’ll be sharing my food adventures with you all soon!

To a happier, healthier and longer life.

 


Eat Your Dark Greens For Breakfast? YES!


I had the best time in my kitchen yesterday morning.  I found a recipe that I got really excited about in my latest Cooking Light magazine and just couldn’t hardly wait to get in there and give it a whirl. It was a traditional Korean dish called – bibimbop. My husband said that when he was in Korea for a year he saw lots of people eating variations of this dish all the time. He never ventured to try it himself, though. But that’s because my hubby is a vegephobe. He won’t go near any visible vegetables – ever. (Shhh….don’t tell him, but I have a habit of sneaking them in when he’s not looking!)

So, I was so excited about my cooking experience with bibimbop that I made my very first video log! That’s right – I’m reaching beyond my comfort zone!

And here it is, so check it out!

(I don’t know what happened to my video – it disappeared into the YouTube abyss, I’m assuming.)

It was such a reward to sit down and try one of these tasty little bowls. Here is how mine turned out.

Bibimbop

Don’t they look scrumptious? The recipe called for Korean chili paste, but I didn’t have any on hand and used Frank’s Red Hot, one of my most favorite condiments, instead.

Here is the recipe from Cooking Light Magazine.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/bibimbop-50400000119700/

Yes, it’s a little involved, but if you’ve got about an hour to spend in the kitchen, this is such a great meal to prepare ahead. I’m thinking of making everything but the egg for the next time I make this. Then, I can just cook one egg and pile it on top of the prepared bowls and my egg won’t get hard in the microwave.

I know I’ll be making this one for a long time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

To a healthier, happier and longer life (full of leafy green veggies!)


Cherry Cinnamon Apple Bake Courtesy of Joe Cross


My husband and I recently watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross. It is a docu-journey that chronicles Joe’s fight against his ailing health, his obesity and struggle to regain his health through “juicing.” I was truly inspired by the film and told my husband that we need a juicer. We are getting ready to return to the U.S. – to sunny California, no less – so he told me I have to wait until then. But I really wanted to give juicing a try as soon as I saw the film.

Well, I went on the website, www.jointhereboot.com, and set up a profile. I was very excited to find recipes! And not just for juices…for FOOD!!! I couldn’t hardly wait to try some out. And one of the first ones I tried was a breakfast recipe. The Cherry Cinnamon Apple Bake. YUM!

You have to try this recipe to believe it. It’s so super simple and absolutely divine. I make it most weeks now and have it for breakfast often.

Cherry Cinnamon Apple Bake

  • 1 cup Cherries (cut and discard pit)
  • 2 Apples cored and chopped
  • 3 tbsp Raisins (choose golden variety for a twist)
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Coat baking dish with canola oil (I use coconut oil instead to avoid GMOs) and place fruit in dish. Coat with cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

How simple is that???

And you’ll be surprised at just how lovely it is in the morning for breakfast. Fast, simple and delicious. You just can’t beat that!

Here’s how mine looked…

There are a couple more recipes on the website that involve baking fruit and I want to give them a try, as well. So, stay tuned…

To a healthier, happier and longer life.


You Gotta Love Dr. Oz – Especially When He Confronts Monsanto and GMOs


I was playing around researching writing projects on Facebook yesterday and came across this awesome video of Dr. Oz asking a panel about GMOs. I really do love to watch Dr. Oz. He always discusses contemporary topics on his show and brings a handful of people who know what they’re talking about to debate the subject. It’s fun to watch! And he’s very well-informed when it comes to health and nutrition so he pipes in when it’s necessary, facilitating a well structured argument.

So, when he had three people on the show to talk about the dangers of GMOs and Monsanto‘s role in the production of them, I was really excited. And it was even better than I imagined it would be. The woman representing Monsanto, or at least the use of GMOs in our food supply, couldn’t intelligently defend herself against the allegations, studies and research that link illnesses to GMOs and especially the Round-Up Ready varieties.  Monsanto, true to form, couldn’t be bothered with participating. Instead they sent a couple of lines of copy to debunk any naysayers in the argument.

The plain truth – the reason Monsanto can’t actually defend itself against these allegations is that Monsanto’s drive behind keeping the public in the dark is purely and simply money. On the show, Dr. Oz mentioned he did a survey asking if people knew they were eating GMOs would they continue to buy and consume them. Well, the response was 80% against consuming them.

That tells me that Monsanto has a lot to lose if the labeling bills passed into law and companies had to let consumers know they were using GMOs to make their products. If food manufacturers can’t sell their products containing GMOs, they will no longer have a reason to do business with Monsanto. It could essentially shut down this monstrous company that bullies farmers and deceives the public. Wouldn’t that be something….

But, alas, today is just another day in the fight against the big food companies, the FDA, Monsanto and the use of GMOs, and our right to know what is in our food supply. Today, I have to go to the grocery and buy more food. I can always make my voice heard with my dollar!

Enjoy the Dr. Oz video…it’s fun to watch! The most important thing is that this subject is now in the mainstream. People are talking about the use of GMOs on prime time television. And that’s a huge leap forward. Yay.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.


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