Monday, June 25, 2012

Beginning Again

My last post was about cheat meals. And how it's ok to have them.

What's not ok is to have a cheat meal, and turn it into a cheat day. Then the next day, have another cheat meal. And then, for the better part of a week, justify having one cheat meal a day, vs. one cheat meal for every 9 healthy meals. That's the kind of week I'm coming off of.

When I fessed up to Alvaro yesterday, his words were simple. "I'm pretty pissed off that you did that". Well, that makes 2 of us. I struggle to figure out how I can go for months eating clean and staying on the right track, then next thing I know the wheels on my wagon are wobbling and threatening to toss me off. Everyone kept telling me through my juice fast that I was so dedicated & determined. I kept saying "no, I swear I'm not!". This is the not dedicated and determined Megan you're seeing right now. Give me an inch, I'll take a mile. Which is why the juice fast was so easy for me. The rules were simple, and strict. No 10% cheat meals.

So, after the better part of a week spent alternating between healthy food and crappy (and by crappy, I mean delicious) food, I find myself at the start of a new week, ready to rededicate myself and set a new intention going forward of mindful eating. I could easily dwell on how disappointed and pissed I am at myself for slipping, but I'm going to focus on the positives. I did eat some healthy meals; I didn't abandon my eating plan entirely. I also did some amazing things this past week, that I would rank up there with the most meaningful actions I've taken in my whole life. So, in the spirit of being "off track", I'm gonna go with the flow and make this a non-food related post.

Back in April I saw a picture of a Siamese kitten shared on my vet's Facebook wall. It was instantaneous love at first sight. He was being fostered by a volunteer with the Animal Adoption League. Sammy has since become my best bud, and always puts a smile on my face. Despite the concern that seeing their frequent posts of homeless animals would tear me apart, I became a fan of the AAL Facebook page. I kept my distance, until a few weeks ago, when the story surfaced of a cat hoarding situation here in my small town. Suddenly nearly 40 cats were displaced and set up in a 1,000 square foot office building as a temporary measure. There were needs for towels, food, cages, but most of all volunteers, to come clean the cages, feed the cats, and give them a bit of loving through a very stressful situation.

For the first time, I thought "maybe I'm strong enough to do this". I don't know why I thought that, being that when I took a stray kitten to the Humane Society a couple months ago I had to sit in my car for a solid 10 minutes to stop bawling my eyes out so I could drive. This is different, and I'm not sure how. My couple days of volunteering at the "cat house" that first week went really well. All the kitties were surprisingly loving and playful for having spent a life in a very unsavory situation. They put smiles on my face and made waking up at 7:30 seem like an ok thing to do. A couple weeks later the call went out to sponsor, or satellite foster, some cats. The regular AAL volunteers were overwhelmed, with 40+ bios to be put on, applications to sift through, and home visits to make.

I volunteered to take 2 kitties under my wing and help find them homes. Sameach and Moonshine were crate-mates, and Sameach specifically caught my eye the first time I went to the house. All of these cats LOOK well adjusted given the environment (some are, some aren't as much). Sameach was the only one that visibly had been affected by his former living environment. The first time I saw him he was missing skin all over his neck and face, and his skin was covered in red, raw, oozing wounds. He looked horrible, and it made me want to cry. It also made me wonder who in the world, seeing all of these other healthy looking kitties, would choose to adopt this guy with the skin problems. And I became very concerned about the kind of home he would have- would they be compassionate enough? Would they understand that he'll probably have to be on a special diet for skin allergies, and be patient enough to give him the care he needs? I felt very strongly about finding Sameach a good, loving home. And Moonshine... he's a giant ham. He's the social butterfly of the house, greeting each cat, and demanding attention and belly rubs. He's an easy cat to love. Seeing them in this cage was no good, and I knew that the best way I could help (since my house is at maximum cat-pacity) (sorry, I HAD to!), was to find them a good home of their own.

I posted a picture of Sameach, Moonshine, and some kittens on my Facebook page. How lucky that one of my friends saw Sameach and it was love at first sight for her, just like it was for me with my Sammy. My dear friend Melinda, and her fiance Shannon, had been wanting to even out the balance in their household of 2 humans, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. I explained Sameach's special needs, and sent pictures of his skin condition to Melinda, worrying that she might want a healthier cat with no issues. Well, she's a crazy pet mom like me. It didn't matter what Sameach looked like, or what kind of special care he needed, she was sure that he was the one that was meant to make their little family complete. I can type this and be completely honest about this fact: the process of Melinda's application coming in, being reviewed and approved by the other volunteers, and taking Sameach to his new home was easily the most rewarding thing I've done in my life. The feeling that I have from knowing I helped a homeless cat (much less one with special needs) find not just any forever home, but one of the best homes I know of, is overwhelming and humbling. And totally, completely, addicting. 


Opening the door to Sameach's crate last night in the big basement room Melinda & Shannon had set aside, I fully expected him to be shy and skiddish and hide. He'd just been dewormed an hour ago, and ridden in a scary car (he was a fantastic passenger!). The opposite happened. A cat I hadn't seen at the cat house emerged- supremely curious, incredibly playful & energetic, and trusting & loving. I'd seen glimpses of these traits in Sameach before, but with only 20 minutes or so of playtime and surrounded by dozens of other cats, it's hard to get a true picture of each cat's personality. He was so overwhelmed by the space and the toys, he couldn't decide if he wanted to explore or play with his toys. This is a cat who's never been the center of attention, never had a family go out and buy a toy just for him. He's never had his own water & food bowl, never had his own bed. He relished being the center of attention, and by the time I left, he was head butting and rubbing on his new parents. Despite being scrawny and scruffy and having skin allergies, his new parents were smitten, too. Within a few hours I received a picture of Sameach sitting on his new mom's lap, cuddling.  I truly look forward to many years of pictures and updates of him enjoying his new life with a really great family.


On Saturday we held an adoption event at a local cat-friendly business to help raise awareness for these "Cat House" kitties. It was a huge success! By the time I arrived, several had already been adopted, and a young single guy and his parents were looking at cats. I heard them mention Moonshine, so I went into full sales-lady mode and gushed about how awesome this cat is. They took him back to a room to play with him, and came out 15 minutes later. Sharon (Sammy's foster mom!) was carrying Moonshine in a carrier, and the young man and his parents followed. She had a big smile on her face and told me that yes, he wanted to give Moonshine a home. I spoke to he & his family for a while- his parents were visiting from Mexico, and he lives in Rock Hill. He grew up with the family cats, and felt like it was time to have a companion of his own. He is a really nice guy, and seemed genuinely excited to give Moonshine a home. After completing the application, they were off to PetsMart to buy Moonshine his first very own litter box, bed, & toys. This afternoon I take Moonshine to his new home, and I can't wait to see how he takes to being the center of attention for the first time too. 

To say this has been a rewarding week would be the understatement of a lifetime. It's easy to get caught up in the sadness of this situation, but the smiles that these guys put on my face makes it well worth it. Seeing them find their new homes, and knowing I had a hand in it, is indescribable. I hope to continue helping in any way I can- I know a few other cats at the house need a sponsor, so once Moonshine is all settled I look forward to getting my new "foster" kitties to help find forever homes.

So, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about a weeks worth of some bad food decisions. My next blog will include a "cheaty" type recipe, as a send off, but it might be one of the healthiest & most delicious desserts you've had (think local peaches & blackberries!). I have a back-log of recipes (that were definitely healthy!) to share from fabulous meals I made this week- vegan & gluten free pizza, and some raw cherry & chocolate energy bites. Stay tuned for some more fabulous foodage, and I ask my friends to help me stay accountable to my goals and help get me back on the right track! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cheat Days

Cheat Days. Everyone has them. Even the most dedicated, strictest dieters. I've had 2 of them... in a row.

With the 90/10 diet I'm on I stick to the rules 90% of the time. Basically, for every 9 meals I eat following my rules I get a cheat meal. Up until this weekend I'd eaten 31 clean meals and 2 cheat meals. Pretty much perfect, and even better than my allowed ratio. 

Then the weekend happened. I was in an awesome weekend of Restorative Yoga teacher training (read: lazy yoga. No calories were burned this weekend!) which took up 27 hours from Friday through Sunday. Meals Friday and Saturday were on task, and I was very much looking forward to the big cheat meal Sunday night we had planned for a sushi extravaganza at Akahana. Although I'd packed a healthy lunch for training Sunday, we decided to get out of the studio at eat at Krazy Fish (which is krazy awesome). That resulted in a delicious bowl of green curry coconut mussels (and the delicious white bread to soak up the juice), and tacos of fried sea bass and falafel shared with Melanie. Yummy. Delicious. Not playing by my rules.

(Look! It's me! Upside down in a supported, no weight on the c-spine headstand! Oh, how I love you, Restorative Yoga).

Akahana was pretty awesome, as it always is, but honestly I didn't enjoy the sushi as much as I wanted/hoped to. I'm not sure if it was because I'd already had a cheat meal earlier in the day and was starting to feel a bit crappy from it, or because things like white rice just don't appeal to me anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love sushi, and Akahana does it better than almost anyone in Charlotte, but it'll probably be a while until I make a cheat meal out of sushi again! Meanwhile, enjoy this picture of Jeremy throwing up gang signs with the chopsticks while saying "I'm on a boat, y'all!"

After double-cheats on Sunday, that brings us to today. We were lucky enough to be invited to the wedding of one of our student's and his fiance (who we're also lucky enough to consider friends!). They had a sweet ceremony in a park uptown and then we headed to City Tavern for a really amazing lunch. An 8 ounce filet mignon, parmesan risotto, and grilled asparagus. Plus the rosemary focaccia, olive oil & balsamic. Plus the 2 types of 'Smore's wedding cupcakes. Plus the glass of champagne and red wine. Holy. Cheat. Meal. I have no food pics for this blog, so enjoy this one of what I've termed "15-pounds-lighter-skinny-faced-Megan" and Jeremy at The A Team's wedding!

This was my first consumption of beef in over 2 months, I believe. I actually don't remember the last time I had it. I'm interested to see how my digestive system handles it. I can tell you that mood-wise, my body isn't reacting well to 2 solid days of cheat meals. I've been lethargic, grumpy, short of patience, and otherwise a little bit bitchy. It's amazing how my mood really is affected almost immediately by what I choose to eat.

On top of all of this, my planned menu for last week fell to pieces, thanks to my total lack of ability to eat a normal size meal (my portions are so tiny now!) and my crazy schedule. I ended riding it out on leftovers for days. I did, however, make this awesome Vegan Stuffed Portobello Pizza with a Basil Cashew Cheese Sauce. It was YUM. Really, seriously good, and takes about 5 minutes to throw together and another 5-10 to cook. I grilled it rather than broiled, but the 'bello's I used were a bit thin and kind of shrunk down to mush on the grill. It was a messy dish, not picture-worthy, but the taste more than made up for it. I could eat the basil cashew cheese sauce with a spoon (and maybe I did.... don't judge!).

I've been holding steady at between 5-7 pounds gained back since ending the fast. They say gaining about 33% of what you lost is normal, from water weight and holding food in your digestive system, so I'm within normal range. I've got 2 more juice fasts planned before the wedding (in 75 days!) in the months of July & August. I've really been enjoying the running, and the fact that longer distances are getting easier, and I'm not willing to sacrifice the running on the next 2 fasts. So, I'm currently working on how to plan an intelligent, effective juice-based fast with weight loss as the primary goal (rather than detoxification) and continue exercising on it. I'm thinking it might include some carb and protein loaded smoothies on run days and/or some raw food meals here & there. Still working out the details and I'm sure I'll have to tweak as I go to find what works for me! I'll probably start the next one a little earlier than intended since I don't plan to do juice only.

My goal this week is to clean the diet back up, get back on track with the 90/10 (which means sticking to my rules and no cheat meals for another week or two!), and up my running distances and yoga intensity. I hope to have a new menu planned out to share with you in a couple days, but I've still got another portobello pizza prepped in the fridge, tons of salad makings, fresh squash and zucchini's from friend's gardens to grill, and ingredients for avocado & chicken salad wraps. I won't have to grocery shop for a couple more days as I want to eat up what's left in my fridge before filling it up again.

On a final note, the June Salad Challenge is in the final two weeks. I inadvertently missed getting a salad in on Friday and didn't realize till Saturday. Due to that I'm -1 on the challenge which means I need a double salad day to get back on track. It's much needed coming off of these cheat days! I'm not beating myself up about my cheat days... they're needed in more ways than one. It's important to treat myself to food that I love (especially when it's good quality!) to help me stay on track in between cheats. It's also helpful to see how immediately my cheat meals effect me, both physically, mentally, and mood-wise. It's my body telling me that it much prefers the clean, healthy eating it's become accustomed to!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Goodness

Today I started my new week's menu! (I'd planned to start yesterday but I still had plenty of leftovers from the previous week to chow through). At the bottom of this post you can find my menu plan for this week.

Today started with a crust-less kale & quinoa quiche (that's a tongue-twister!). Really it is a frittata, but who am I to argue with the author of the blog I stole the recipe from? This was a super simple recipe with a very short ingredient list that packs a ton of flavor and protein (thanks quinoa and eggs!). What a great way to start out the day with some lasting energy. Plus it makes a ton, so you'll have enough for several breakfasts, or plenty to share with another healthy eater in your house (I don't happen to have another healthy eater in my home, so I'm going to share with my friends. First come first served!)

As you can tell, Bruno and Samson thought they were my friends I intended to share with and jumped all over it. Seriously, my cats show interest in people food from time to time, but are rarely adamant about eating something that they're not supposed to. I don't know what in the world it is about this breakfast, but you would have thought it was the last food in their kitten lives... they went bonkers over it! About a millisecond after I snapped the picture of Bruno sniffing, he grabbed the whole slice in his skinny little mouth and ran away with it. Luckily I reacted quickly and salvaged the majority of it, but he did get a little morsel. Meanwhile, on the stove, Samson licked the little bits that remained in the pan that I used to heat my slice under the broiler. And, once I'd done my part in devouring the slice, Samson and Bruno teamed up to lick the plate clean. Such weird cats. But, I will agree with them, this is a DAMN tasty breakfast!

It would not be the only time today that a plate was licked to get every ounce of "yum" out of a meal. Admittedly, it was I who licked my lunch plate clean with no shame this afternoon. (What, the cats looked like they really enjoyed it? And lord knows they're not going to judge me!)

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and spent the afternoon prepping some food for the week (the kale & quinoa quiche being one of the meals). The other meal I threw together was a couple portobello mushrooms stuffed with kale, roasted tomatoes & goat cheese. (You'll see when you get to my menu at the bottom, but I'm pretty sure almost every meal this week has kale in it. I have a (healthy) obsession with it now). I was originally following a recipe I'd found online but quickly threw it aside and did my own thing. This was a hugely satisfying lunch today, and it's so quick and easy to throw the 'bello on the grill or under the broiler. Lunch comes together in a matter of minutes!

For a side I sliced a heart of romaine in half and grilled it along side my portobello. Holy cow that was insanely good! Scroll down past this picture for the recipes/instructions to re-construct this lunch of champions:

Kale, Roasted Tomatoes & Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobello
makes 2 stuffed shrooms

Approx 1 bunch of kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen or so cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 TB grated parmesan cheese
2 portobellos

I already had roasted cherry tomatoes on hand from a baked egg breakfast FAIL over the weekend. I tossed a whole container of cherry toms with some olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. I roasted them in the oven for a little over 2 hours at 250 degrees, shaking the pan around every half hour. If you didn't want to do this, you could probably throw the toms in the pan with the kale and achieve a similar, less roasted, result. 

Chop the kale and garlic and throw into a pan over medium heat with a bit of olive oil. Toss or turn the kale with some tongs to coat in the oil. This will need to cook for about 10 minutes to really soften up the kale. Once it's wilted down a good bit add the tomatoes (if pre-roasted), goat cheese, and Greek yogurt and stir well so that all of the kale is coated in the creamy cheesy yogurty goodness. It should all come together to form a nice stuffing. Season with salt & pepper.

Remove the gills from the portobellos by scraping the black stuff out with a spoon. Divide the stuffing into 2 portions and load each 'bello up. Mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over top. These would hold for several days, either in a tupperware or covered in saran wrap. 

I threw one on the grill today for about 10 minutes, and ended up finishing it off under the broiler to get the top nice and crisp (my grill wasn't getting hot for some reason today. I think I need a grill doctor to come give it some love!). I was surprised by how filling this dish was!

Grilled Romaine with Lemon Tahini Dressing

This doesn't even need a recipe (well, the romaine part), but I will humor you! 

You take a romaine heart and cut it in half. With the cut side down on the plate or cutting board, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with your seasoning of choice (I used salt, pepper & a nice Italian herb blend I picked up at the awesome Savory Spice Shop). Flip it over and repeat with the oil & seasoning. Put it on a medium hot grill, with the cut side up, for about 5 minutes or until you start to see a bit of grill marks on the leaves and the color starts to get bright. Flip it over, repeat. Depending on how hot you have your grill this could take 5 minutes or 10 minutes. 

I had a double batch of Lemon Tahini dressing on hand from prepping my Weekend Glow Kale Salad yesterday (from my new most favorite blog ever!). I figured it would be nice paired with the grilled romaine, and boy was I right. It has the consistency and mouth feel of a nice Caesar dressing, and actually tastes similar to it as well with the bright lemony-ness. However, unlike most Caesar dressing, this one is not only not-bad for you, but it's actually GOOD for you! 

A little drizzle of dressing and a few shavings of fresh Parmesan and this simple grilled salad was good to go. Honestly, you could eat it as-is with no dressing, or even just squeeze half a lemon over it and let it mix with the olive oil for a ready-made vinaigrette. I have a feeling for the rest of the summer, any time I'm cooking on the grill, a hunk of romaine will be sharing the grates!

And now, behold, the menu for my week (subject, as always, to change based on ingredients available, leftovers, and my fickle cravings)


Breakfast: Kale & Quinoa Quiche + citrus juice
Lunch: Kale, Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobello with Grilled Romaine Salad
Dinner: Weekend Glow Kale Salad


See Tuesday. Repeat. 


Breakfast: Kale, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Hash with Poached Eggs
Lunch: Avocado Chicken Salad in a Collard Wrap with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad
Dinner: Grilled Pizza Stuffed Portobello, Grilled Zucchini & Squash, Green Salad


See Thursday. Repeat.


Breakfast: Coconut & Banana Quinoa Breakfast
Lunch: Yoga Teacher Training, who knows??
Dinner: Over The Rainbow Cabbage Salad


See Saturday. Repeat.

My guess is I'll have tons of the Kale & Quinoa Quiche left over and I'll probably enjoy it for breakfast or snacks throughout the week. Hopefully every meal will be as yummy as today's were and I won't mind at all eating the same thing 2 days in a row!

I want to take a quick minute to say how proud I am of everyone in the June Salad Challenge!  There have been tons of delicious looking salad pictures shared and nearly 40 of us are holding each other accountable to eating at least one salad a day in the month of June. It's not too late to join, there are still 18 days left which means 18 wonderful salads!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Breaking the Beer Fast

So, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I spent the day at the US National Whitewater Center with Beth. It started with an apple, walnut & gorgonzola salad at the River's Edge Bar & Grille with Jeremy and Kyle, that was HUGE and pretty yummy.

Beth & I got in a run, which would have been way more awesome if my pesky asthma that's been non-existent lately had decided to stay non-existent. It would have also been more awesome had I not just devoured a huge salad immediately before hand. We took one of the most hilarious and wild rafting trips I've ever had at the USNWC, and, for the first time in probably 2 dozen rafting trips, I finally was catapulted from the boat, and subsequently demonstrated a yoga pose I've been struggling with for a while: full wheel. By where my feet were in the boat, my spine curved in a perfect back bend over the side of the raft, with my shoulders, head, and arms underneath the boat. Thankfully Beth realized I was probably drowning and released my feet, but I do want to thank her for the effort of keeping me in the boat. This particular trip included 5 runs (rather than the usual 4), and we surfed just about every rapid on the 2 chutes. We were smacked in the face with another boat, received nasal enemas, I fell into the matrix, Beth fell out, I fell out, Beth punched me in the jaw, and I nearly lost my shorts. It was good times for sure.

After the rafting we went back to the car for a yummy "picnic" meal. Mine was mostly prepared by Nourish- the Jambalaya salad with my home made honey mustard balsamic vinaigrette, Nourish potato salad, and Nourish marinated veggie kabobs. I grilled the veggies along with some shrimp which I added to the top of the salad. This ended up being a super delicious and extremely nutritious meal to help replenish some energy that we'd spent.

After our picnic we met up with Sean and hit the zipline. It was the first time I've finally been able to do it, and I've gotta say: way more fun than it looks! I could probably go about 10 times in a row, and thanks to my handy season pass, I can definitely do that! Finally, Beth and I rinsed off in the shower and changed into some dry comfy close, and took up our spot on the lawn near the stage as the bluegrass band began. Robin showed up when she got off of work, and I commenced to breaking the beer fast, which has been in effect for over a month.

I was terribly sad when I first arrived at the USNWC to find that the beer I'd been looking forward to trying for a month was no longer on tap. Bummer. So, my first beer what a local wheatbier that was light and tasted amazing. Beth snapped a photo of my very first sip. About halfway through this beer I had a thunderous burp, which was the first good burp I've had since before the fast. Weird, I didn't even realize I hadn't been burping!

From prior conversations with Jeremy and our friend Kathy, the overwhelming opinion was that my tolerance would be shot and I'd get shit-faced in a hurry. I decided I wasn't going to set out to "get drunk", just enjoy some beer (whether that was one or several). Kathy bet me $15 that I would get wasted off of 3 beers. Well, Kathy.... I think I owe you at least $10. I was noticeably feeling some affects about halfway through my first drink. Not quite tipsy, but certainly a bit more buzzy than I've been after half a beer in a long time!

After the wheatbier I enjoyed "Son of a Peach" which was exactly what it sounds like... a peach flavored wheatbier. It was also scrumptious. Upon going in to the restaurant a 3rd time, Sean excitedly pointed at the row of taps: behold, Hell or High Watermelon, the beer I've been fantasizing about for weeks, was back on tap! So, I grabbed a tall glass of it, and headed back down to enjoy it. It was as delicious as I hoped that it would be, the perfect summer beer. I really, really enjoyed it. The night came to an end and Jeremy picked me up. He will tell you at this point that I was drunk. I maintain that I was not. We went to Mac's for a late night meal, where I enjoyed yet another salad (3 for the day!) and another pint of Son of a Peach. I couldn't even finish it... I left about 1/3 of it on the table. Sad, but I'd definitely met my capacity for filling my stomach for the day.

It's apparent that my overall tolerance for alcohol has decreased fairly significantly. In the past year the quantity and frequency with which I drink has decreased all the way around, but my tolerance really hadn't changed. I'm totally fine with being a "lightweight" now- less money to spend, less calories to consume!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Healthy Dessert!

Quick post as I'm headed to the White Water Center to meet Beth for some outdoor fun and sun! I meant to post the recipes for these scrumptious little dessert bites last week but forgot.

These are so simple and the perfect small dessert for eating healthy in the summer time. They do take a little while to make if you're doing a large batch like I did, but they'll last forever in the freezer.

4 bananas, sliced into 1 inch rounds
1 cup almond butter
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used organic 75% cacao)
3 TB coconut oil
1/4 C coconut flakes

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a small pot over low heat. The coconut oil will keep the chocolate a little softer once it's hardened again.

Slice the bananas and lay them out on a cookie sheet or plate. The easiest way to put the dollop of almond butter on top is by letting it soften and putting it into a ziplock bag or icing bag. Cut the tip off of the bag and squeeze a bit of almond butter to cover the top of each banana round.

Once all of the bananas have been covered with a nice hunk of almond butter, put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Once they're well chilled, commence to dipping!

Using a fork as a little lift under each banana round, place the banana over the pot and use a spoon to dump a delicious flow of chocolate over the banana/almond butter nugget. Once the banana is covered in chocolate, place it back on the cookie sheet. After you've covered a few with chocolate, take a pinch of coconut shavings and sprinkle a bit over each treat. Repeat until all bananas are covered with chocolate and topped with coconut, then freeze for an hour. Once frozen, put into a freezer bag and seal up.

Enjoy frozen, straight from the freezer. Or, let them sit out for 10 minutes for an ice cream consistency, or even longer for an ooey gooey treat!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ups & Downs

I know this for certain: life was so much simpler when I was on the juice fast. There weren't all these menus to plan, hard decisions to make, wondering if I'm eating the right thing at the right time. As I lay in bed last night, I strongly considered waking up this morning and starting the juice fast again. Or at least backing way off of "real food" and only eating 1 meal a day, in combination with more juice. It's kind of weird, and maybe it's just my body and mind adjusting too slowly, but food just doesn't feel right, right now.

I still find myself overeating. I could probably eat 3 bites and consider that overeating, because I'm just not getting hungry. I don't have much of a desire to eat food, which surprises the hell out of me. I WANT to want to eat food. But if I'm honest with myself, I'd be much happier with a nice glass of juice. I'm unclear as to whether this is just a normal part of transitioning back to solids, or my body telling me that it still wants to be on a juice fast. For example, I bypassed my delicious Nourish Brinner that was supposed to be my breakfast this morning and opted for a fresh fruit smoothie. I'm finding it fairly frustrating, to say the least.

The upside of eating again is that it means I can get back to training like I want to. Yesterday Alvaro and I hit the trails near my house for a run. The trail was 4.5 miles down & back, and I figured he'd want to do the whole thing (being the long distance runner that he is), but I figured I'd run till around 2.5 or 3 miles when my body told me to start walking, then do a run/walk combo the rest of the time. Alvaro had different ideas. And, much to my delight, my body not only cooperated, but did so enthusiastically! The last few times I ran was 2.5 miles to work back at the beginning of my fast (and that was the first time I'd run in a month or two). I was taking 1 to 2 walking breaks for 2.5 miles.

Yesterday, I busted out 4.5 miles like it was nothin'! Well, with the exception of this one asshole hill that came with about 1 mile left to go. Not only did we run the entire distance without walking, but we were able to carry on conversation for the majority of it. Which, as Alvaro pointed out, meant that we could "shut the fuck up and run faster if we wanted to, but then we wouldn't be having as much fun"! My knee did start feeling a little tweaky with a mile to go, and was very slightly swollen at the end, and still a bit achey this morning, but other than that I felt fantastic! I was barely winded by the end, my breath returning to normal cadence soon after we began walking to the car.

Running 20 pounds lighter was.... awesome. My elbows weren't brushing up against my sides or getting caught on my love handles every so often. My thighs weren't rubbing together and bunching up fabric, and my hips felt fantastic. At no point, with the exception of asshole-hill, did I feel like I needed to take a walking break. The last time I ran even close to 4.5 miles was February, and the time before that was probably in training for the 10k I ran back in 2006. So, in addition to my weight goals, I now have running goals (which are imperative to reaching my weight loss goals!). The goal is to run about every other day, some shorter, some longer, getting to a point where 5 miles is an easy, normal run for me.

After mine & Beth's conversation last week and officially moving "complete a half marathon" to the bucket list, I feel one step closer to that, and feel like it's totally in reach.

As far as my weight goal, the next goal is 145lbs. Standing on the scale at 147, I could see that my ultimate goal, 135, was not a total joke like I thought it was the first time Alvaro and Jeremy mentioned it to me. No. 135 is completely realistic, and I think I'll meet the best, most powerful Megan at 135. I've got a bit further to go now, as the scale has been creeping up since I began eating food, and is now sitting around 150ish. I'm ok with that because I understand I've not been using the best methods to get back to eating, and I've set out to change that.

I've been going WAY too heavy on the grains (yes, I'm talking to you, quinoa). IF I eat grains or legumes, which should be minimally right now, it should be in the mornings. Lunch is the time to go more "paleo"- no grains, no legumes, no dairy, but this is my time for meat or seafood if I want it. Dinner is all veggies, all the time. 100% plant based meals, the more raw, the better. BIG thanks to Alvaro for helping me work out this equation. I'm hoping that after a few days of following this eating pattern I'll start to feel a bit less heavy. All I know is with the grains I've been eating I feel like there's a bowling ball in my stomach!

I've revamped my meal plan for the remainder of the week, and started in on next week's menu, following my new rules. I spent the evening last night building yet another board on Pinterest to help me out with my dinner selections. If you'd like to see what Pure Plant Based meals look like, check it out!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Foodgasms. It's a new word that I've invented to describe the feeling you get from eating food for the first time in 3 weeks. It sounds similar to another word we're all familiar with, and with good reason!

Yesterday I broke my fast with the beautiful Almond Berry Quinoa salad for breakfast. I broke that recipe down in my last blog. It was so delicious, and the perfect compliment to starting my day with a vigorous yoga practice (that I made up by myself!). The picture doesn't do it justice, I promise. I added some hemp seeds, chia seeds, and goji berries on top to give it some super-food power!

Between breakfast and lunch I enjoyed some of my Sunshine Juice (another recipe in my last blog). For lunch I sat down to my much anticipated Nourish "Brinner" that I froze last week upon delivery. It is Nourish's take on a breakfast Benedict, with a hash of roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, leeks, and spinach, served with a chickpea and flax seed cake, topped with roasted asparagus and a vegan hollandaise. Holy hell, that was delicious, and I had to show massive restraint to keep from eating the second portion.

Another juice, with beets and greens, to fill the time between lunch and dinner. I haven't felt "hungry" in so long, weeks, and it was odd that my stomach started reverting back to expecting food so quickly. Granted, I didn't feel hungry nearly to the extent that I USED to, and I easily could have downed a glass of juice and hot tea and gone to bed without complaint. I was mildly hungry, and since I'd gone to the trouble of pre-making my food on Sunday, (and since I was REALLY looking forward to this meal!), I decided I might as well eat!

Here's an area that's kind of shady for me right now, since this is my first experience coming off of a fast and back to food. Should I be eating even if I'm not really hungry? I don't know the answer. I think my body gave me the answer last night, but I'll get to that at the end of the blog!

First up: Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad, from a jar. Of course.

By the time we got home from work I was so ready to dive into this salad and was thankful I'd prepped it ahead of time. About 60 seconds after walking through the door, the salad was shaken up, dumped into a bowl, and I was sitting at the table enjoying what has now become the most scrumptious salad I have ever eaten in my entire life. It remains to be seen if this salad is actually the best salad ever, or if it just tasted that way last night because food is still totally new to me right now. All I know is it was a huge salad and I should have eaten just that, but I kept going. I got about 90% through my salad and left at the bottom were some berries, blue cheese, pecans, and a few chunks of avocado and some spinach, with plenty of dressing. Jeremy wondered in as I was putting some oil in a pan to prepare my entree and asked what kind of salad it was as he picked at it. I told him (leaving out the avocado, he doesn't like them, which is how I know he's insane), and I also said it was the best salad I'd ever eaten. Next thing I know he's sitting in my chair, polishing off the last of the bowl, and agreeing that it was, indeed, a damn good salad.

This nearly knocked me off my feet for several reasons. #1 being Jeremy typically doesn't like my cooking, no matter what it is. #2 being that he rarely if ever likes anything that is healthy or resembling plant matter. #3... I don't know. But him digging into the last of that salad and enjoying it was the last thing I expected, and I was elated! I asked him if I made it again, would he eat it too, and he said yes! Finally, a healthy, plant-based meal we can enjoy together! As you can see, the original recipe calls for bacon, which I omitted this time around. I can't begin to imagine the heights that bacon would have taken this salad to. It would have been too much for me last night, surely, and I would have melted into a puddle of foodgasm rather than stay strong for my encore.

I should have listened to my body when it said "holy shit, this salad is awesome and huge, and this is more than enough to fill me up, thanks!". But I did not, because I was so insanely excited about what came next and couldn't fathom NOT eating something I've been daydreaming about for close to a week. Dumb, and this is how I got to be overweight in the first place. The rules were so SIMPLE when juicing, and it was nearly impossible to "over eat". Alas...

May I present to you, the magical deliciousness that is Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa.

Don't judge my lack of photography skills. I'm dealing with an iPhone and Instagram, it's only going to be mediocre. Please click on the link above and look at HER photography of this meal, which is excellent. Regardless of the fact that the photo of this dish looks like crap, it tasted AAAHHHHHMAZING! I was making the craziest noises while consuming this, and had goosebumps the entire time. Ugh. It was SO good. I asked Jeremy how it was possible that my culinary ability had improved so much over the past 20 days, because I think between the salad and the sweet potato cakes it might be the best meal I've ever eaten that came from my own kitchen. He cracked up at this, and we're pretty sure my tastebuds are just on overload. Although who knows, fasting could have brought me some super-chefdom that has long been dormant.

Was eating this final entree worth it? Yes and no. It has been years since I've enjoyed a meal to the extent that I enjoyed dinner last night. In that respect, yes. It was totally worth it. Should I have stuck with the salad, listened to my body, and been satisfied? No question, that's the route I should have taken! Immediately upon finishing my meal I experienced my first "food coma" in well over a month. Lethargy set in. My stomach began to balloon up. I mean, I got bloated, and FAST! Looking in the mirror I felt and looked like I'd gained a good 10 pounds in one sitting, and I wondered what the hell I'd done to myself! There was regret. There was a message sent to my experienced juice-fasting friend Matt, asking if this was normal.

I awoke this morning feeling significantly less bloated, but still regretful. It took less than 24 hours to over-eat, which is a huge problem I need to overcome. I started this morning with a small glass of juice, and about half the portion of Berries & Almond Quinoa Salad that I had yesterday morning. A little more juice before my first run (which will be in less than 1 hour!), and I'll enjoy the second jar of the fantabulous Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad for lunch. Still plenty of "afternoon juice" left for later, and a Nourish delivery to look forward to. I'll be doing very little cooking over the next couple days, thanks to good ol' Nourish, and I've got 2 more awesome meals left of the sweet potato cakes.

I've gained some weight back, which is to be expected, as my digestive system needs a minute to jump start and it's much easier to retain water when you're eating actual food again. I'm up to 149.8, so just over 2.5 pounds from my lowest. I expect realistically to gain about 5 pounds back and stabilize. I also wonder if I've added whole grains back in to my diet too quickly (right off the bat). The meal plans that are published on are strictly veg and fruit, no whole grains. We'll see... this is all a learning experience. I've never done a juice fast before 20 days ago, which means I've never transitioned off a juice fast before either. Bear with me as I figure this out, by trial and error. Hopefully you'll be able to learn from my mistakes!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 20: I Made It!

It's the evening of Day 20, and I'm writing my final blog entry for my first juice fast. This is a little bit surreal, and almost bittersweet.

Today has been a fantastic day: I started the morning by making a trip to EarthFare where, for the first time in 3 weeks, I ventured out of the produce department! It was a pretty big shopping trip, seeing as how with the exception of some left over veggies & fruit from my last trip, and some random staples left in the pantry, I was kind of starting from scratch and stocking the fridge & pantry again. I also spent some time cleaning out the fridge and pantry of food that I know I won't eat anymore, which was a great feeling!

As my business partner Melanie is enjoying some much needed beach-time this weekend I was lucky enough to lead our classes at Vitality Yoga & Wellness today. Big thanks to my best friend Beth for showing up (super hung over!) for the first class, Yoga for Athletes. We had a pretty fun time, just the two of us, and I made her suffer just a bit and sweat the alcohol out. My friends Mike & Shannon joined us for a great deep stretch class, and everyone did so well. It was a pleasure to get the chance to teach them, and they were such fantastic students! I'm enjoying teaching yoga even more than I thought I would, and feeling more comfortable and confident about my abilities than I was when I taught my first impromptu class just 2 weeks ago! This week, (in addition to breaking my fast!) I am looking forward to teaching my first regular classes on our schedule. If you find yourself free during the day on Wednesday & Friday I would love to see you! I'll be teaching a Yoga 101 for Beginners from 10:30-11:45 and Power Yoga from 12-1 on Wednesdays, and an All Levels Vinyasa Flow from 10:30-11:45 and Power Yoga from 12-1 on Fridays.

Upon returning from yoga I made my last juice of this fast, along with double servings of two juices to enjoy in conjunction with my meals tomorrow and Tuesday. Then, I cleaned my juicer thoroughly, and put it up until Wednesday. It will feel very odd not to use it for a few days, and it makes me kind of sad! I made it up as I went along today and my last juice (and my morning juice for the next 2 days) turned out fantastic. I've dubbed it the "sunshine juice":

Sunshine Juice

1 grapefruit
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 lime
2 peaches
3 carrots
coconut water

Peal the citrus fruits so very little pith (white stuff) remains, remove the pits from the peaches, and throw it all in the juicer. Add about 1/3 volume of coconut water and enjoy. #1, this tasted like summer in a glass, almost reminiscent of an orange creamsicle, and #2, the color was bright and fantastic! It's a keeper.

I soaked in some vitamin D after the classes and relaxed with a good book and my sunshine juice by the pool. After an hour of soaking up the rays, I got busy in the kitchen for the first time in 3 weeks! In my last post I broke down my menu for the next week, and already it's changed up a bit, but that's where "going with the flow" comes in!

Today I began by making my breakfast salad for the next few mornings. I'd hoped to start tomorrow off with a big bowl of fresh local strawberries, blackberries and peaches. While the strawberries lasted much better after being rinsed in the vinegar water and stored in the fridge in mason jars, they were beginning to get to that really ripe stage that one or two more days might be too long to wait. Beth happened to stop by the Peach Stand for the first time ever (finally!) and called to let me know they were out of strawberries and think that might be it for the berries this year. Sad, but thank goodness I went crazy last week and bought a gallon!! I've got plenty in the freezer for smoothies, 2 big jars of my strawberry basil jam, and enough fresh berries for my recipes this week. So, in lieu of the lack of new berries, and my fear of waking up in the morning to find mushy berries, I changed my plan for tomorrow morning's breakfast just a tad, which I think will end up working out well!

High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad comes from my new most favorite blog ever, Oh She Glows, which is an amazing vegan blog. If you're looking for inspired new ideas for healthy cooking, I promise you'll find what you're looking for on that site! I was unable to find cherries, either fresh (not in season) or frozen, so I used the gigantic, as big as my thumb, blackberries I picked up along with my other local produce the other day. I also opted to add some mint as it just seemed to want something green in it, and I happen to have a surplus. I'm not gonna lie- I took a lick of the maple lime dressing. Holy crap. I don't know if it's because it's my first non-juice/tea/broth in 3 weeks, or if it's really the best dressing ever, but that stuff is amaaaazing! I had to stop myself after the first little lick because I could have gone crazy on it! Following the recipe as listed, outside of the blackberries & mint, I ended up with 2 quarts of salad that would be more than enough for 2 people to enjoy breakfast twice, or it could make 6 side salads along with another meal (oooh I just imagined it next to french toast. That would kick ass). I'm hoping it's good enough to eat for breakfast Monday-Wednesday and not get bored... if the tiny taste of dressing I took is any indication, I think I'll be perfectly content!

While I had the strawberries out I went ahead and prepped the salad that I will enjoy with dinner tomorrow night and eat again for lunch on Tuesday. It's a beautiful salad with strawberries, avocado, spinach, red leaf lettuce, pecans, and blue cheese. I tossed in some chia seeds for good measure (and now that I think about it, will probably add chia seeds to my Quinoa Almond Berry Salad in the morning too!) I'll share the recipe for this salad tomorrow, but I wanted to mention in this blog about the genius that is salad-in-a-jar.

Look! It's salads! In mason jars! The one on the right is my breakfast berry quinoa salad, and the only reason that it's in mason jars is just because that's what I had handy to store it in. The genius is in the jar to the left, which would be my avocado & strawberry spinach salad. This idea is yet another I got thanks to Pinterest and is responsible for my ability to stay on the right track when it comes to eating salads. Salads seem like they should be quick and easy because usually you're not cooking anything, but usually there are so many different components, especially if you're making the dressing too, that by the time you've got your salad ready to go you've spent 20+ minutes chopping, dicing, tossing, and mixing. Who has time for salads? I promise I will never eat a salad if it takes a lot of work. I also promise that if you make salad the most convenient and quick meal I see in my fridge when I open it hungry, I will grab one every time! Here's where salad-in-a-jar comes in!

The concept is simple and can work for just about any salad. Dressing goes at the bottom of a 1 quart wide mouth mason jar. On top of the dressing goes your veggie or fruit toppings: in this case the avocado is sitting in the vinaigrette to keep it from turning brown (double duty!) and the berries are on top. If you're a fan of raw mushrooms in salads, try putting the shrooms down in the dressing first, and they'll soak up some of the flavor and become marinated fabulousness. The goal is to get enough toppings on top of the dressing that you've got a nice buffer and your greens stay dry. I suggest putting your lettuce/spinach/greens in a salad bowl and filling it as much as you'd like your final salad to be. You'll be shocked at how much lettuce you can fit in a mason jar! Stuff the lettuce in. Top with your remaining ingredients- in this case, pecans, chia seeds, and blue cheese. Nuts and cheese are great to put at the top. The cool thing is basically you do the prep work and chopping for one great big salad, and put it into as many jars/servings as you'd like. You'd be surprised at how long these greens will last sealed up in jars too- you could easily make a gigantic salad on Sunday, put it into 7 jars, and have your 7th jar in one week come out fresh and delicious. I'm borderline obsessed with salads-in-jars now, and I hope you can use this handy trick to make your June Salad Challenge even more convenient and easy to stick with! (PS- we now have a Facebook Group for the big challenge! Join up and share your pics, recipes, and get ideas and motivation!)

After jarring up some delish looking salads, I made some Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa, which will be dinner tomorrow night and Wednesday night. I can't WAIT to eat these babies! Look for this recipe on Tuesday. If they taste as good as they look, this recipe will get put into regular rotation. It ended up making 3 servings instead of only 2, so again, I'll have to go with the flow here. I very well might end up throwing my Nourish Mac & Cheeze in the freezer to enjoy later and using up the sweet potato cakes. Or, if hell freezes over, Jeremy might try them and like them too and help me eat them up!

I put the remaining strawberries in the freezer, along with what was left of my blueberries and blackberries. I'll use these for some quick smoothies later in the week. As I mentioned earlier, I have already made and frozen some sweet dessert treats to enjoy through the week- sliced bananas, topped with almond butter, dipped in organic chocolate coating and topped with coconut flakes. Super excited about the sweets :)

All in all, I spent a little less than 2 hours in the kitchen, and probably could have shaved 30 minutes off if I weren't going at a slow, easy pace and shoo-ing cats off the counters every 2 minutes. I ended up with 8+ meals (3-4 breakfasts, 2 large salads, and 3 dinner entrees). Between what I made today and my Nourish delivery coming Tuesday I should be set on food until Thursday, at least!

This morning before yoga I had Jeremy take my "after" photos. I use the word after loosely because while they are the final photos of this particular juice fast, I still have some work to do and a ways to go to meet my final weight and fitness goals. I stepped on the scale this morning and it was 147.2. Pretty cool. Felt good to know I'll beat my goal by .8 pounds, and maybe I can get that final .2 off by tomorrow morning, who knows? So, without further adieu, here are my before (pre-fast; weight 168ish), during (day 11; weight 154.6) and after (day 20; weight 147.2)

I'm happy that, for once, the changes I see on the outside reflect the changes I feel on the inside. Physically I've ended up with a bigger change than I anticipated or hoped for. My favorite changes can definitely be seen from the side view: my chin looks SO much less flabby and more sculpted, and my stomach is infinitely flatter. The biggest difference in size I think is around my ribcage, which is surprising to me. I don't know why, but I kind of thought the diameter of the ribcage was a static thing. I tried on my wedding dress yesterday and this was the area that it was the tightest just a few weeks ago. At this point it looks like I'll be having the dress taken in by at least 2 inches! I'm searching frantically for my paperwork from buying my dress as it has my measurements, and I'd like to measure myself tomorrow to see how this translated to inches lost. I'm also pretty psyched about the decrease in arm flabbiness, and the reduction of the good 'ol love handles. My thighs in particular are also much thinner than I figured they'd get! I can look at my pictures today and be really proud of my body. It's still not quite where I want it to be, and I've still got some work to do, but this is a body I can put a bikini on and feel confident about!

I've got an amazing feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction this evening. I'm proud of myself for making it 20 days on this juice fast. Not bad for the first time around. My next 2 will be much shorter, only 7-10 days, but after the wedding I would like to try for an extended fast of 30ish days. Everyone tells me "I'd love to do a juice fast, I just don't have the discipline or will power". I am here to call "bull-shit!". If I can do it, you can do it, I promise you that. I am such a glutton when it comes to food. I have practically no willpower. Show me a pizza or a cupcake and eat with abandon. Sticking to juice, tea, and broth was somehow... easy. The rules are so simple and easy to follow, it's hard to mess it up.

Mentally, I have a much greater clarity than I did 20 days ago, without question. This has had some amazing results: I feel like I have a much better grasp on my life, and what I want out of it, and what I want to accomplish. I feel like I'm finding my purpose and my place. Outside of the juice fast, our lives have been a big roller coaster the past 20 days, most of it negative. Sometimes you feel like life is conspiring against you, trying to make things as difficult as possible, trying to break you. I think, were it not for the confidence and mental clarity I've found through this process, I would feel that way right now. But instead I have a feeling of peace, and knowing that I am exactly where I am meant to be right now. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to my body, my health, my relationship, my professional progress. Things might not be falling into place, and it might seem like one step forward and 2 steps back, but I feel a deep and sincere happiness that wasn't there before I began my fast.

It's also changed the way I look at food, and my health. The physical and mental changes I've experienced in 20 days are directly related to the food I've put (or not put) in my body, and that is something I have 100% control over. It has made me look at food in a new light, and be mindful of my decisions. I hope that I'm able to keep that mentality and carry it through to the eating phase, and not get lost in a sea of temptation that's filled with pizza, chicken wings, burgers, and beer. I am immensely looking forward to my pizza dinner on Friday night, and also looking forward to waking up Saturday and making good, healthy decisions about what to eat.

Many people ask what the hardest part of this fast has been, and I think most expect me to say the cravings or temptation to eat food, or being sick of drinking my meals. Not so. Not even comparable, for me, was the lack of working out. Staying as dormant as is required on a juice fast has been incredibly challenging for me, and I have sorely missed my workouts. I am SO excited to try out my lesson plan for the new power yoga class tomorrow, and even more excited to strap on my running shoes and see how it feels to run with 20 pounds less on Tuesday when Alvaro and I hit the Riverwalk trail.

I feel sad, and bittersweet, that today brings my first fast to a close. It has exceeded my wildest expectations in every way. I want to sincerely thank those of you who have been a constant source of encouragement. I want to wish you best wishes as you contemplate embarking on your own juice fast, or salad challenge, or whatever change you make to give yourself a better, healthier, happier life.

I will continue blogging several times a week, now with recipes for FOOD! Namaste!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 19- Quickie: Goal Met!

It's day 19 and I've met my weight goal of 148lbs! This means I've lost 20 pounds since beginning the fast, and I am so pumped up! This isn't a true "after" pic, but I figured I'd share it anyhow.

We went to the movies last night and I wore my "skinny jeans". They're actual skinny jeans, but also the smallest size I have in my closet. I've never really fit into them well- they happened to be that pair of True Religions I found at Marshall's for $30 and couldn't live without. I've squeezed into them uncomfortably every time I've worn them. Well, not last night!

I promise a longer post tomorrow- going to get in a light workout now and off to a day of BJJ competitions to support the team. 48 hours from now I'll be eating- crazy. I kind of feel like I want to keep going, I think I COULD keep going, but I've got 2 more fasts on the calendar between now and our wedding in 90 days!

Next weight goal is a tiny one- want to get down to 145 and stabilize while eating

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 18- Planning Meals!

Today is June 1st, which means it's the first day of the June Salad Challenge. Eat at least 1 salad a day, every day, in the month of June. If you slack and don't start till Monday, it's cool, just double up on salads for a few days to catch up. And don't forget, salads don't have to be lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and croutons. I've got 110+ ideas for salads on my Pinterest Salad Mania Board. Me, I'll be drinking my salads for the first few days, AND making up for lost time!

Day 18. Hard to believe that all I have to do is get through Saturday and Sunday and wake up to some beautiful, local produce to eat on Monday. I went to the Peach Stand today to make sure the trifecta was still available, and it is, and looks like it will be until Monday! A beautiful thing happens when the strawberry season runs long, and the peaches and blackberries come in early. Nonetheless, I went ahead and bought a gallon of strawberries and made 2 quarts of Strawberry Basil freezer jam. I read a tip (on Pinterest, where else!) that soaking berries in 1 part white vinegar/10 parts water helped the berries keep longer. I know my grandmother is a big believer in putting them in mason jars in the fridge to keep them fresh. Since every time I've bought fresh, local berries this year they're starting to turn to mush and mold within 24 hours, I figured it was worth trying both. If all goes well, I'll still have fresh strawberries for my breakfasts and several salads beginning Monday. If not I'll have lots of frozen berries for future smoothies. I'll let you know how it turns out!

A few nights ago I couldn't contain my excitement and began planning my menu for next week. I took a long time to do it because we're on a very strict budget so I need to make sure that I can continue eating healthy, organic food AND afford to pay for it. My rules for the first week of eating are, for the most part, the same as my rules leading up to the fast: plant based, whole grains, minimal processed foods, meat, and dairy. When you make double portions and repeat the same meals on different days, your bill goes down. Anytime you can cross-utilize ingredients your grocery bill goes down. I identified 5 foods that sound really good to me and are healthy to build my menu off of. And the list is: avocados, sweet potatoes, kale, quinoa, and shrimp. 

After identifying my 5 big ingredients for the week I set out to scour my Eating Clean and salad board on Pinterest. I made a list for each of my 5 ingredients, then wrote down every recipe I have my hands on that contain that ingredient. I ended up with between 15-25 recipes on each list. I then identified any recipes that showed up on more than 1 of my lists, and those are the ones I went for! Yes, doing this took forever. But I also plan on building myself a google doc for each ingredient and recipe list. So, anytime I have an avocado that needs to be used, I can look at my recipes and easily find something to use it for! A lot of work now will hopefully pay off in making eating clean easier down the road. 

I've allowed for breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-day snack, and dinner, each day next week, Monday through Sunday. I also made sure to plan at least one salad each day, and I've also thrown in room for 2 dessert treats! My biggest concern right now is that I won't be hungry for so many meals, and I'll end up with a crazy amount of leftovers. I'm sure my stomach has shrunk so my normal breakfast portion now will be quite different than my breakfast portion prior to the fast. It's important to plan ahead when dedicating yourself to a healthy diet, but equally important to go with the flow and adjust through the week as needed. I might not want my snacks, or I might not want dinner, and prefer a juice instead. In all likelihood, my meals I have planned by the time next weekend rolls around will probably look nothing like what I actually end up eating, and that's ok! 

I thought ahead this past week and put in an order with my new most favorite small business (well, besides Great Grappling and Vitality Yoga, of course!) Nourish. For anyone that missed that blog, Nourish is a new company here in Charlotte that specializes in the once weekly delivery of mostly Vegan, mostly organic, and as local as possible meals. I knew that after spending 20 days essentially out of the kitchen it would be helpful to have some meals ready to go that require little effort on my part. So, when you read my menu below, if it says Nourish! before hand, that means that Laura and the lovely folks at Nourish have helped me along! (Seriously, they're amazing, but get your order in ASAP when it's posted on Monday's. They've got the greatest blessing/curse a good small business could hope for and are overwhelmed by demand. It's a great thing!)

So, without further ado, here it is. The meals I will be EATING beginning Monday (that's only 2 days!!!)


Breakfast: local peaches, blackberries, and strawberries
Snack: citrus & mint juice
Lunch: Nourish Brinner! (ordered last week & frozen- a take on eggs benedict: flax seed cakes, sweet and red potato hash, roasted asparagus, and a vegan hollandaise)
Snack: green lemonade
Dinner: sweet potato quinoa cakes with blackberry salsa, and strawberry & avocado spinach salad.
Dessert: banana slices topped with almond butter covered in organic chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. YUM. (I've already made these and frozen them and should have enough to last me a month!)


Breakfast: quinoa and almond berry salad
Snack: citrus & mint juice
Lunch: strawberry & avocado spinach salad
Snack: green lemonade
Dinner: Nourish mac & cheeze with carroty braised summer greens


Breakfast: quinoa and almond berry salad
Snack: peachy green juice
Lunch: Nourish Jambalaya salad
Snack: Nourish Vegan Pho
Dinner: sweet potato quinoa cakes with blackberry salsa, grilled Nourish veggie kebabs, Nourish vegan potato salad with lemon, green beans & basil, mixed green side salad


Breakfast: coconut breakfast quinoa
Snack: Nourish Pho
Lunch: Nourish mac & cheeze with carroty braised summer greens
Snack: peachy green juice
Dinner: grilled shrimp skewers, grilled Nourish veggie kebabs, Nourish potato salad, mixed green side salad


Breakfast: coconut breakfast quinoa
Snack: berry smoothie
Lunch: citrus shrimp salad
Snack: juice (whatever produce I have hanging out!)
Dinner: MELLOW MUSHROOM! Pizza! Yes, it might be a LITTLE early for the first cheat meal, but hell, I know the consequences and I'm willing to take the punishment with the crime. And I will have a beer with my pizza. Hell yes.


Breakfast: berry smoothie
Snack: juice
Lunch: citrus shrimp salad
Snack: kale chips, salt & vinegar roasted chickpeas
Dinner: falafel, zucchini hummus, spicy peanut & ginger kale salad
Dessert: Nutella hazelnut magic bars (I've been dreaming about Nutella!)


Breakfast: slow cooked eggs with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese
Snack: juice
Lunch: falafel, zucchini hummus, spicy peanut & ginger kale salad
Snack: kale chips, salt & vinegar roasted chickpeas
Dinner: Robin's house (which means lord knows what we'll get ourselves in to!

After listing out my menu for the week I made 2 grocery lists: one for Monday through Thursday, and one for Friday-Sunday. I also made my prep/cooking schedule which will have me in the kitchen Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

Each day next week I will provide links to the recipes that I'm using as well as my shopping lists and prep lists, as well as some good photos of FOOOD again! I've missed my food photos! Taking pictures of juice isn't nearly as fun!

I hope everyone has a safe and healthy weekend, I'll check in on Sunday with some "after" (for now) photos on Day 20, and let you know how I'm feeling on the final evening of my fast. Thanks for all  of the support and encouragement, I know I wouldn't be typing this on day 18, still going strong, without you!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 17: On The Verge

Holy crap. Day 17. Which means only 3 days to go. (Well, possibly 4, but at this point I'm kind of abandoning the 21 day goal and sticking with 20). My weight this morning was 150.2.... did you read that? 150.2!!! So. Freaking. CLOSE! I had doubts at the beginning of this week that I would reach my goal of 148 by the end of the fast but now I have no doubt. It's totally gonna happen! I could very well wake up tomorrow morning in the 140's for the first time in, well, I don't know. It's been so long. I think for the first time since I was in culinary school, maybe 2002? Outside of the weight, the physical changes I'm seeing in my body are drastic. The changes I'm feeling, most importantly, are fantastic. Mental clarity, energy, peacefulness, and a strong motivation to conquer my goals, no matter what they are.

As more of my friends are becoming interested and inspired by my changes, I'm getting lots of questions. Some are adding juice to their diet and cleaning up their food when they do eat, like Stephanie and Lindsay. Some will soon be embarking on juice fasts of their own like Kathy and Derek. The 2 biggest questions I've been getting are: 1) what are your 5 favorite juices and 2) what does a day of juicing look like?

Starting with my 5 favorite juices. One of these, at minimum, is in my rotation at all times. Usually 2 or 3 will make my list when I pick 5 juices for the week and shop for ingredients. They are:

#1 Favorite Dinner Juice: Tabbouleh Juice. I add a clove or two of garlic. As Lindsay discovered this week you may prefer the flavor from a sweet Vidalia onion over a red onion.

#1 Favorite Breakfast Juice: Peachy Green Juice. This juice just makes me happy, from my taste buds to my toes. I get giddy when I drink this. Local peaches are coming in to season and I promise it makes all the difference! The "green" gives you tons of energy to start the day.

And the remaining 3, in no particular order:

Gazpacho Juice: tastes just like the chilled soup, and perfectly refreshing during hot weather!
Great Green Fruity Mix: perfect for breakfast or as a post-workout drink- the coconut water means extra hydration, the sweetness of the strawberries is a good pick-me-up!
Green Lemonade: this is an all around good juice to fall back on any time, morning, noon, or night

When I began, as I mentioned in a prior post, I was juicing 3 times a day and drinking approximately 3 quarts of juice on top of my other methods of liquid hydration. Since about day 8 or 9 I've cut back to 2 quarts of juice a day. You'll find what feels right to your body, I promise!

In the morning I begin my day with an herbal tea. Yogi Teas makes a DeTox tea that I really enjoy- it's spicy and bold and said to help support your liver, kidneys, and digestive system during a detox. I also have a spearmint and lemongrass tea that is delish. Shortly after finishing my mug of tea I'll take my first juice- usually a juice containing some type of fruit to get a bit of sugar going through my bloodstream and give me energy to start the rest of my day. Usually 1 juice will make enough to fill a 1 quart mason jar, and I'll pour half into my handy insulated cup, cut with some water or coconut water, and save the rest of the juice for an hour or two later. I usually add 1 TB of Chia Seeds into my first juice which helps create a lasting fullness as well as aids in detox. In between juices I'm drinking tons of water. It's easy to say I drink 8 glasses of water per day, and I'm pretty sure my cup is about 20oz.

Mid-afternoon (I get a later start to the day than most people!) I make my 2nd juice. Yes, you can totally make all of your juice for the day at the same time, put them in mason jars, water bottles, soda bottles, whatever you have handy, and save for later. That definitely cuts down on cleanup and time spent in the kitchen, but I don't mind doing it twice a day, so I make mine fresh. In the afternoon I focus on having a juice that's slammed full of veggies. Drinking one of the many variations of green juice every day can get boring which is why I love my tomato based juices like Tabbouleh and Gazpacho, and my carrot based juices like the ABC Juice or Sunset Juice. A good goal is to get 5 different colors of fruit and veg in your body every day, whether you're eating, juicing, or doing a combo of the two. Your afternoon juice is a great place to take stock of what you've had so far and make sure you get to the 5.

I drink my first glass of afternoon juice, have about 4 or 5 glasses of water, and drink my second glass of that juice in the evening. You could definitely drink both glasses of juice in the afternoon, and make a 3rd juice to take you through the evening time. When I cut back from 3 to 2 juices, I changed my dinner routine and I prefer it much more over 3 juices a day. Now when I get home from work I will make myself a small pot of veggie broth using a couple carrots, celery, onion, parsley, and garlic, along with whole peppercorns, dried herbs, and sea salt. Cut the veggies small, bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes, and strain out into a mug. Drinking the hot and nourishing broth has been so fantastic in the evenings and really helps me wind down. I follow this with an herbal tea of mint, chamomile, and Valerian to take me to bed.

The 3rd biggest question I get, usually after answering "what do you eat in a day", is "aren't you hungry!?" and the answer is a resounding NO! Think about it- some of us eat and eat and eat all day long, and still feel hungry soon after the feeling of being OVERfull passes. Why is this? Most of the time it's because we just ate something fatty and delicious and full of calories, but not full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. When our body is starved for the vitamins and minerals it needs to function, it sends a message to our brain that it's depleted, which is translated by us as hunger! When we fill our bodies with a variety of fruit and vegetable juices, ensuring we're receiving the full load of vitamins and nutrients our bodies need, and drink plenty of water on top of that, our brains never receive that signal saying they're lacking something. It sounds crazy, I know. You might not believe me, and that's ok. That is the science behind why a juice fast not only works, but can leave you feeling full, and why it teaches your body to re-learn the true meaning of full.

I couldn't help myself the other night and began planning my menu for my first full week back to eating, which will begin on Monday. I easily spent a few hours doing it, but there's a method to my madness, which I will share in the next blog post. On Sunday or Monday I will also have my final "after" juice fast pictures to share, which I am actually really excited about! I'll also speak more on my plans to keep this weight off and in fact continue to lose weight to get down to my next goal of 145. Along the way I will surely enjoy some of  the "cheat meals" I so desperately planned out on Day 10. Thanks for reading and we're still looking for recruits to the June Salad Challenge!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June Salad Challenge

I will be totally upfront about the fact that I shamelessly jacked this idea from another blog! I've just discovered "Oh She Glows", a vegan cooking blog, and absolutely love it. The first post I read is the most recent, and it's a damn genius idea. She challenges her readers to a June Salad Challenge, which I have accepted, and want to extend the challenge to you. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't mind my thievery as it encourages everyone to be just a little bit more healthy for one month. 

Here's the deal: commit to eating 1 salad every day for the month of June. 

There's no reason NOT to accept this challenge. Summer is upon us, which in the Carolina's means a plethora of fresh, locally grown produce begging to be made into a fresh bright salad. This is a fabulous way to cram some extra fruits and veggies into your diet and become just a little bit healthier. Convenient that it's also bathing suit season, and nothing goes with bikinis like a big salad!

We're not just talking mixed greens with tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons and your favorite bottled dressing. That would get boring every day for 30 days. Mix it up. Go outside your comfort zone. Salads don't always have to be veggies on top of mixed greens. Veggies can have fruits, grains, potatoes, pastas, beans, eggs, chicken, seafood, and meat. Salads can be raw, sauteed, steamed, grilled, marinated, and wilted. They can be chilled, hot, or room temperature. The possibilities are endless, and the only thing your salads need to have in common is that they all contain vegetables. The more locally sourced, the better.

In an effort to assist me in achieving success for the June Salad Challenge I've created a new board on Pinterest, Salad Mania. It's empty right now, but over the next few days I'm going to migrate my existing salads from my Eating Clean  and Cutting Weight boards and start adding new salads. I hope to have a board filled with hundreds of salad options by the time my juice fast ends on June 4th (I'll be a little behind on starting the challenge- I'll drink my salads for the first 4 days of June!). 

I'd love to find out who plans on accepting this challenge to eat 1 salad every day for 30 days. Let's get together and support and encourage each other to hit this super healthy goal! Please get on Pinterest and like the salad board if you're participating in this challenge, and if you decide to start a board dedicated to salads too, share the link with me! 

Day 15- Balancing Exercise

Wow. Day 15. For some reason, between the evening of day 10 and today the time has seemed to stretch for an eternity. It easily felt longer than the first 10 days combined! And was about a million times harder.

Remember when I said I'd decreased my juice consumption from juicing 3 times a day for 6 glasses of juice to juicing twice a day for 4 glasses of juice, and added more herbal teas, coconut water, and veggie broth? Yeah, well at that same time, because I was feeling so awesome and full of energy, I ramped up my exercising and physical activity as well. And within a night or two from my first run to work, I started having the intense food cravings. Not healthy foods like a fresh salad or juicy peach. I'm talking full on pizza, medium rare burger, chicken wings, and brownies. Like.... INTENSE. I was SO close to caving. Many times. There were only 3 things that stopped me.

1. I knew if I caved and broke my fast I couldn't jump right into a pizza or a burger without severe consequences. And I knew that first salad wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as the burger that is stuck in my head.

2. The progress I've made, and how good I'm looking and feeling. I mean, I've seen so much change this past month, but I'm not quite where I want to be yet. I know I can get there, but it will be a much slower and longer path to get there if I don't see my goal through on the juice fast. Plus, the thought of un-doing my hard work was really depressing. Yesterday I went to the White Water Center with Beth & Sean for some paddle boarding. Afterwards, when I would usually rush to the locker to grab my cover-up to throw on top of my bathing suit, I actually hung out for a while in my bikini. I walked around in it. I sat at a table and socialized in it. I actually felt comfortable being in public in a bikini. I didn't feel like there were any areas I wanted to cover. Can't remember the last time I felt confident to walk around in a bikini!

3. All of you. My friends, acquaintances, and my family. Jeremy, especially over the past week, has been really supportive (even though he thinks I'm crazy. Hey, he knew that going in!). He's been showering me with compliments and telling me what a change he sees in my body and how much he likes it. There's nothing more motivating than knowing the person I love is getting excited about what I'm doing! Friends I haven't seen for a few weeks are noticing the changes I've made and complimenting me, and that just feels good!

So, 3 great reasons not to break my fast and stay strong to hit my goals. After a few days of really intense cravings I reached out to a long lost friend from my high school days who has successfully (and sometimes not so successfully) accomplished a number of short term and long term juice and water fasts. Matt is actually the only person I know first hand who has experience with fasting, and he's seen so many positive changes from it. I can attest to the physical because I remember Matt being a little on the chubby side in school (I'm sure it was just baby fat!), and now he's very lean & healthy! I sent Matt a message asking for some support and his responses have been just what I needed to find the extra motivation to stay on track.

One of the first things he asked me about was my level of physical activity. I said I was doing yoga daily, running 2.5 miles from home to work 3-4 times a week, doing our S&C class at the school, and paddling & rafting at the USNWC. He didn't come out and tell me I was crazy, but he did say that was WAY more physical activity that he would dream of doing on one of his juice fasts. He gave me some other fabulous suggestions (drink herbal tea and coconut water, mix up the variety of juices, keep fruit juices for the morning only, etc) most of which I'm already doing. He also suggested taking 1tsp-1tb of coconut oil a day if my cravings continue, which I hadn't heard, and have had good success with. He also assured me that cravings are normal, sometimes even the strong ones.

After really thinking about his advice, and realizing I was doing most everything the smart and healthy way, I recognized the problem. I'd increased my calorie output at the same time as decreasing my calorie input. My body was indeed screaming for calories in the most calorie-dense form- FAT. I also recognized this was my fault! This was not me doing everything exactly right and my body yelling for food because that's truly what it needed. This was me sabotaging my efforts simply because I felt like I COULD exercise. So, I've made a promise to myself to spend the rest of the days on this fast as a much more sedentary, to let the juice and the detoxifying process continue uninterrupted. I did kind of break that yesterday by spending 2 hours paddle boarding, but it wasn't strenuous, and it felt great to get some sun. I'll continue with some gentle yoga daily, but no S&C class for me on Saturday, and no running to work this week. I can tell you that on Sunday and Monday my cravings were well under control to the extent that I've begun getting back on Pinterest to build my arsenal of clean eating recipes! Lesson learned- less exercise really is ok when you're doing a juice fast.

My goal is 20 days, 148 pounds. Right now I'm at 15 days, 152.6 pounds. I've done a lot of reading on successful fasts and the optimal amount of time to reap the benefits of a detox fast is a minimum of 21 days. I'm leaving the door open to go one last 24 hours on my fast when I wake up next Monday morning. If I get to 21, fantastic. If I make it to 20 and break my fast, I will be so proud of what I've accomplished. I can't imagine anything magical happens in that last 24 hours, but I am curious!

I'm really excited to pick up my yoga teaching some more. I taught a class to some girls from the Charlotte Speed Demons on Saturday and I really enjoyed it. They seemed to as well, which is more important! Melanie will be out of town this weekend which means I'm covering her classes- this will be the first time I've  actually taught classes to the public for Vitality Yoga & Wellness! I'd love to see some friendly familiar faces on Sunday for our Yoga for Athletes class at noon and Deep Stretch at 1:30. I've also decided to put some classes of my own on our schedule! On Wednesdays from 10:30-11:45 I will teach a Yoga 101 class for beginners, followed by a Lunch Hour Power Yoga from 12-1. On Fridays I'll teach an all levels Vinyasa Flow from 10:30-11:45 and Power from 12-1. It's summer time, so I hope some of my teacher friends and moms will come join me!

I've got a challenge for you all in the works for the month of June. This blog has stretched on more than long enough for one entry, so I'm going to bring this to a close and start working on my post for June's Salad Challenge. I'm pretty excited about it, and I know ALL of you are capable of rocking this challenge! Thanks for reading and thanks for being my motivation!