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!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 11 of Juice Fast- Progress Pics

It's been nearly a month since I began cleaning up my diet, and 11 days since beginning the juice fast. Tonight I finally took some progress pictures to compare to the first set, which were taken a few days in to the diet.

As you can tell from yesterday's blog, last night was ROUGH! Really the first time during this process that I contemplated quitting. I attribute that 100% to spending 2 hours looking at food on Pinterest, reading menus of restaurants at Disney, and planning out all my cheat meals from now till the wedding. Mentally I started breaking. When I got home I made myself a vegetable broth, thanks to a suggestion from my friend Sibylle. She's never done a juice fast, but has done liquid-only fasts where the main meal is veggie broth. I think I was craving something warm, cooked, and home made. Well, I am happy to say, the veggie broth did it. Water, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, peppercorns, grey sea salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, dried herbs and some extra virgin olive oil tasted like heaven. It tasted like FOOOOD! And I woke up this morning full, satisfied, and ready for another juice.

I spent this morning going through a yoga sequence I created with a group of fellow students at a prior teacher training weekend. Tomorrow morning I will teach this sequence to my former roller derby team, the Charlotte Speed Demons . I'm very excited for the opportunity to lead my first "real" class with a group of like-minded athletes and friendly faces. It will be a challenging class, but I know my girls are up to the task. Although I did get a chance to "practice teach" this same sequence to Melanie & Darby last weekend, I'm still a bit nervous and have spent the entire evening typing out the lesson plans, complete with notes & cues, the majority of which I will in all likelihood not read tomorrow morning! I've built a pretty kick-ass play list of songs, and I'm excited to get a good night's sleep (with a night-cap of veggie broth) and tackle tomorrow. After the yoga class I'm participating in the strength & conditioning class here at GGBJJ, then sitting at the desk for open mat, and we're hosting a student's 9th birthday party here tomorrow as well. Then straight off to our good friend Tater's house warming, ending the evening with the All-Heavyweight UFC card, which I am PUMPED about!

I'd like to share a new juice recipe I have tweaked a few times over this week and finally like. It's got a good mix of fruits and veggies, and is a great juice for this time of year because all of the beta-carotene gives the skin a healthy warm glow. Kind of like a fake tan but without the bottle & chemicals!

1 small sweet potato (scrub the skin well!)
3 carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 beet (peel it!)
2 golden delicious apples
1 orange (not peeled)

Don't be like me and forget to wash the sweet potato and peel the beet. Your juice will taste like straight dirt. When prepared correctly, his is a beautiful mid-day juice that I've really come to enjoy! It reminds me of fruit punch.

OK, enough stalling. Here are my progress pictures. Weight at 154.6. Link to the "before pictures" 

To close today's post I want to wish Kathy Gizzi & Derek Hyatt good luck and strong willpower as they both embark on their own "reboots" and juice fasts over this next week! Glad I could help you both and I can't wait to see how you do!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 10

Well, I made it to day 10! Today I weighed in at 154.6, which makes exactly 11 pounds lost since the beginning of my juice fast and 14.2 pounds since I began cleaning up my diet May 1st, just over 3 weeks ago. I'm thrilled with the results so far and have decided to extend my juice fast another 10 days and go for 20. I've also made the decision that after 20 days I will transition back to a plant-based diet (vegan) for 1 week, then slowly get back to the 80/20 diet that I started with at the beginning of the month. My hope is to reach 145 by the end of the 20th day, but I've been so happy with the other results of the fast that the weight loss is really just a pleasant byproduct.

I would be lying, on the evening of day 10, if I said I wasn't thinking about giving up right now. For some reason tonight my energy is very low, I feel a bit weak and just "off". I'm second guessing going for 20 days, and I have food on the brain. Part of that is due to the fact that tonight I broke my "Pinterest fast" and got on for the first time in 10 days and have now spent a solid hour pinning food recipes that look amazing to me. I've also started a list of the "cheat meals" I want to have between now and the wedding (which is in exactly 100 days!!!). Here is my list, in no particular order, with the exception of the first, which will definitely be my first "cheat meal":

Pizza- Mellow Mushroom
Wings & fries- Hooters (I know, it's my guilty pleasure)
Thai- Siam Garden
Philly Cheesesteak- Duckworth's
Jalapeno Burger- McHale's
Sushi- Akahana
Nice meal- Soul or Terra
Mexican- Paco's Tacos
Carlos' Cuban Cafe
Cajun Queen

I plan on washing down each and every one of these meals with some delicious beer & wine.

I will break my fast on Monday morning, June 4th, and as I said, transition slowly with a combination of raw & cooked vegetables & fruits, smoothies, and juices for the majority of the week. I will follow that with the 80/20 diet in the month of June, allowing myself a few cheat meals here & there, but sticking to plant-based, natural grains, lean & organic protein, and goat cheese/low fat cheeses (nothing fried, nothing processed, outside of my big cheat meals!).

July 5th I'll begin transitioning off of the meats and dairy to prepare myself for a 17 day "reboot"- 5 days vegan, 7 day juice fast, 5 days vegan, back to 80/20 by the end of July, just in time to take my bachelorette trip to Myrtle Beach with my girlfriends. Lord knows I won't be watching what I eat or drink that weekend, so I'm letting myself off the hook and planning on a fun time!

As soon as I'm back I'll begin another 17 day "reboot" on August 7th, which will take me to exactly 1 week before our rehearsal dinner, and allow me 1 week to transition back to some meats and dairy. Diets go out the window for the rehearsal dinner at VBGB's and the wedding reception at the Cajun Queen. We've decided to honeymoon at Disney World on the condition that we go eat at some of their fine dining restaurants. I've got a seafood place, and African restaurant, and a European bistro on the list, along with the standard crappy/delicious park fare.

Is it obvious I'm thinking a lot about food? I've planned out my next 100 days worth of diet! I hope with changing the "type" of diet up over the weeks and ramping up to a slightly more rigorous workout routine I'll be wishing I'd ordered a wedding dress that was a few sizes smaller.

I'm failing on the progress pictures... I promise I'll have them tomorrow though! And I hope to get my mind out of the food gutter by then and get back on track being strong and resolved to make it to my next goal!

Monday, May 21, 2012

1 Week In

1 week ago this evening I ate my last "solid" meal. I don't even remember what it was, or if it was delicious, because I wasn't intending at all to start a juice fast. I'd hoped to get another series of "work in progress" pictures to compare to my "before" pictures today, but it wasn't in the cards. Hopefully I'll have some tomorrow and I'm actually excited about these, because although I know I still have work to do, I have definitely noticed a difference in my body and can't wait to compare the two!

I took another trip to EarthFare this morning where I ran into a new friend, Lindsay, the mother of one of our kids here at the school. She's dusted off her juicer and has started getting creative and venturing outside the "fruity juice" box. I was happy when she texted me later today to let me know that she went with my suggestion to try Swiss Chard instead of kale in her juices, because she was having a really hard time with the taste. Another friend, Kathy, is buying her juicer soon and will start the "Reboot" plan next month. I'm excited that my positive results have spurred others to make healthier changes in their lives! A juice fast is NOT for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to be healthy other than doing something on the extreme side like this. (PS- my bill at EarthFare was $70 this time, and I probably ended up getting another 5 days or so again even though I said I wouldn't!)

This evening, after a full day of drinking juices and water, I stepped on the scale and it read 157. This is the lowest number I've weighed in recent memory, and I got there by cutting water weight for a fight. It's probably been a good 6 years since I've naturally been in the 150's, so I'm pretty pumped. All in all that makes 11.8 pounds I've lost since beginning a plant-focused diet 21 days ago, and 8.3 pounds since I began my juice fast 7 days ago. Alvaro asked me tonight if these were the results I expected when we began 3 weeks ago and it's very easy for me to say NO! This is FAR beyond the results I expected. Part of it is because I really didn't have any solid expectations or goals, which I think has helped. My 5 day fast turned into another 5. My 5 pounds lost started a goal of another 5.

I'm constantly adjusting my goals based on reality, which is the first time I've done that, and it's working really well for me. I've only got 3 days until I hit my new goal of a 10 day fast, and my body is still loving it. Although I am having some small cravings here & there, my body is not asking me to eat a salad, or a piece of chicken or fish, or a burger or ice cream. My body is really happy continuing to accept the juice as my only form of nourishment, so I will continue until that changes. My guess is when I get to 10 days I will likely make a goal of going for another 10. I can tell you I will not go more than 40 days, but other than that, your guess is as good as mine in terms of how long this will last!

When I got to 158 yesterday Alvaro and I set the next goal to 148. I'm already making progress and have 9 pounds to go. Jeremy said last night he feels I can get to 135, which prompted me to laugh out loud. It's probably been 8 years since I was in the 140's, and closer to 10 since I last saw the 130's. The 130's seem like such an unattainable goal, but after thinking about it, and talking to Alvaro, and doing some research on other female athletes who are around my height and 135lb, there really is no reason I can't attain that weight, (except for telling myself that it's unattainable!). We're making this a long term, "end of the year" goal, and I think it's a good goal to have in the big picture. But for now, I'm focused on breaking into the 140's!

Another great milestone happened today- I had my first relatively intense workout since beginning my fast, and really, since beginning my plant-based diet all together. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven't been running for a few months now. Today I did something I've talked about doing for over a year and ran from home to our school! I thought it would be 3 miles and it ended up only being a shade over 2.5. I walked the first 5 minutes, and took a 3 minute walk break in the middle, but otherwise ran the rest of it. My time was 30 minutes and 14 seconds. I won't be winning any races, but I'm happy with the fact that I ran the vast majority of the distance for my first run in months. I'm going to try my best to run to work 3 times a week. Energy wise I felt fantastic- when I walked it was a lack of cardio conditioning thing, not a lack of energy or muscle fatigue thing. I picked up my pace towards the end and really felt great!

Yet one more awesome occurrence- I stumbled upon a BMI (body mass index) calculator today for athletically built women. For years now my BMI has put me in the "overweight" category, at times coming very close to the "slightly obese" category. Today, I am firmly in the "average" category... towards the top, but well under the limit. BMI is something I don't pay a whole lot of attention to, because every person is unique, but it's good to see the differences I'm seeing and feeling also translate in a mathematical sense!

To close, here are the juices I shopped for and am digging this week: Peachy Green Juice (seriously can't get enough of this one!), Sunset Blend Juice (note to self- scrub the damn sweet potato first!), still my first place juice in the category of AWESOME, the Tabbouleh Juice, the V28, which I'm not too enamored with, and then my standby Carrot, Apple, Ginger Juice and lastly Green Lemonade

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Goal made!

I was going to wait and post tomorrow, but I've been getting lots of questions in the past 24 hours about what the heck I'm doing!

It's the morning of day 6, which means I successfully achieved my goal of a 5 day juice fast. I'm going for another 5 days now, and quite honestly, I will probably extend my goal again towards the end of that.

I knew yesterday would be my hardest test so far, both physically and in willpower. I've taken a step back from physical activities the past few weeks, due to being pretty out of whack from the car accident, which is why I started the juice fast now. To get the most benefit from the fast, at least the first few days, you should keep your physical activity at a minimum so your body can use the extra energy it finds from the digestive system being "on vacation" to detoxify the rest of your organs. If you're using that energy to run, etc. you're kind of missing the point. I'm physically active almost every day, which is the reason it's taken me so long to take the plunge.

On day 3 I did a gentle, restorative & detoxifying yoga practice, and days 4 and 5 I've ramped up the intensity a bit into more powerful, but still focusing on detoxifying, practices. Yesterday I helped my best friend Beth celebrate her birthday at the US National White Water Center. We started the day with some paddle boarding, which is AWESOME, walked around the USNWC for a while, then did 5 runs down the white water rivers. I would have added zip-lining to that but I bought a season pass so I'll get to that next time. Excited about my summer full of kayaking, paddle-boarding, rafting, running, and zip-lining with Beth! Hooray for healthy outdoor activities!

Last night I took Melanie and her daughter Casey to their first roller derby game to see the Charlotte Speed Demons. As Casey said, it was "fun times a thousand". Casey really enjoyed herself and loved getting to meet the players after the big win, and even got a poster signed by her favorite Speed Demon, Brandi. Thanks to all my friends for being awesome! PS- cheering for my team is very hard work, and I promise you it burns crazy calories. Even though Casey tortured Melanie and I by munching on nachos for the ENTIRE game, and Robin was enjoying a frosty beverage right next to me, my Reboot Salad Juice was keeping me full and I had a great time!

After the game we headed back to Beth's house for her birthday party. My birthday gift to Beth was kinda lame because #1- I didn't buy it for her and #2- she knew she was getting it. I "re-gifted" the juicer that Page re-gifted to me last year because she and her boyfriend Sean have been interested in drinking fresh juices. Also as a kind-of joke, I brought them the remaining 6 pounds of carrots that was STILL left over from the 25# bag Melanie & I split! Sean had mentioned really wanting carrot juice, so there ya go! I also threw in some apples and a hunk of ginger so they can make a delicious hangover juice this morning. 

The birthday party was a little difficult for me. I had the last of my juice and carried around my water for the rest of the time. Tater MADE me try his homemade apple moonshine, which I swished around in my mouth and spat out. If I weren't fasting.... it would have been trouble! I made him try my juice and he made a funny face. There was lots of delicious food there and the smells were driving me crazy. Pizza fresh out of the oven, pretzels, chips & salsa. After about an hour I was having a hard time seeing that food and not eating it, plus I was a bit tired from a full day in the sun, so I headed home for a cup of herbal tea and called it a day. 

As of Friday night I was down to 160.4, which is 5.4 pounds down from my starting weight on Monday evening. I'm excited to step on the scale today and see what it says. Most of the first few days is spent with the body shedding the toxins that have been built up by eating our "American Diet" ie: processed foods, foods laden with pesticides, antibiotics, corn syrup, carcinogens, and genetically modified substances. I will try to keep this out of the TMI category, but let's just say I have been shocked at the literal amount of crap that has been stored in my body, and how toxic it actually looks. "That's been inside me!?" is something I've said a lot this past week. When shedding so many toxins from the body it's impossible NOT to feel like a better, brighter person! My skin is clearer and I just FEEL so much better! These next 5 days will hopefully start to see some of the actual fat I carry disappearing. 

To answer the biggest questions I've had:

1) No, I'm not hungry all the time. In fact I'm less hungry less often than I have been on my normal, crappy food diet, a plant-based diet, or a vegan diet. I'm just less hungry. My body has the nutrients it needs and is happy. 

2) Yes, I have TONS of energy! Even though I have tons of energy I've tried to keep it easy this past week. Next week I will continue with my daily yoga practice and begin running again, short distances, 4 times a week. The week after that I'll get out to the White Water Center again and start doing some awesome water sports. I have energy to wake up in the morning and start my day and energy to last through the day. I have energy late at night. I have energy!

3) Yes, I've actually lost 5 pounds in 5 days (probably a bit more). I've lost nearly 9 pounds since I started transitioning to a plant-based diet 3 weeks ago. And yes, this is a very healthy way to do it!

4) No, the cravings aren't bad. And if you know me, you know I do not have a strong willpower when it comes to food! Staying in my own little bubble the first few days really helped. I was tested when I went to dinner with the guys to Mac's and I did eye-rape Jeremy's beef brisket and mac & cheese, but I sipped happily on my lemon water and didn't really feel the urge to cheat. I find when I'm around food, it's a little difficult, but not impossible. My fridge and pantry are full of food, and I'd be lying if I said every time I saw that big bag of Ruffles I didn't want to just open it and shove some into my mouth, but I don't really want to, it's more an impulse from my impulsive mind. Easily controlled. Although I would recommend, if at all possible, cleaning out your fridge and pantry of "bad food" to keep down on the temptation. 

5) I have a Breville Ikon Multi-Speed Juice Fountain. I purchased it for $200 at my local EarthFare after realizing it was on backorder through August on They sell this model on lots of sites as well as a less expensive Juice Fountain. I love it, it's quick, powerful, easy to use, and very easy to clean. 

6) Yes, I'm crazy, but all my friends knew that anyhow. 

On Friday night Jeremy and a bunch of friends went to dinner at the Olive Garden after a big seminar at his school. I honestly did not know if I could resist the temptation of so many carbs in my face (mmmmm..... breadsticks) so I opted out and went home for a bubble bath, Grey's Anatomy, and a giant glass of juice. I decided to try a new one and I'm SO glad I did! Tabbouleh is a middle eastern salad that I love made from bulgur wheat, tomatoes, onion, parsley, lemon juice & olive oil. This recipe for tabbouleh juice jumped right out at me and holy crap! It was delicious! It tasted exactly like the salad, duh, because with the exception of the bulgur and the chewing, it's all the ingredients in the salad! I got all fancy and put it in a wine glass again and there's definitely nothing they were serving at the Olive Garden that would have been more delicious than what I made! 

I'll write again in another day or two and update on my progress for the 2nd 5 day stretch. I'm excited to see so many friends interested in possibly doing a juice fast too, or just incorporating more juices into their diets. Please remember if you do decide to try a fast, that it's VERY important to begin a plant-based diet for at least a week before you begin. Phase out all dairy, meats, and processed foods by the time you begin the fast. You should be eating 100% plant-based and whole grains for at least a couple days before you start. This will minimize the "juice hangover" a lot of fasters experience the first few days. Thanks for reading and a big thanks to all my friends for the overwhelming support! 

(FYI- yes, my big grocery shopping trip on Wednesday has lasted me this entire time. I'm down to the last of my kale so I'll have to stop today to get some more, but I've still got enough of just about everything to go for another day or two. So I'm figuring $90 of produce gets me a full 7 days of juice, which is a bargain! I will cut my list in half next time and shop twice a week for the freshest produce)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Juice Fast, Day 3

I mentioned in my last blog that I'd somewhat unintentionally fallen into a juice fast. I really like the way this happened because I didn't build it up in my head and worry about "the last meal" and over think things. I just ended up on Tuesday evening not having eaten food all day and decided to just keep rolling. I'm really happy to say that things have been FANTASTIC on the juice fast. I've read a lot of blogs and websites relating to juice fasts, spoken to people who have done liquid or juice fasts, and of course watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Almost all of them recount tales of having a very hard time the first 3 days... feeling exhausted and having flu-like symptoms, headaches, mood swings, etc. I don't know if it's because I didn't build it up in my head that Day 1 of my fast was actually Day 1, or if I'd been on a plant-heavy diet for the better part of 2 weeks already, but honestly, I've felt great. No fatigue, no weakness, no grumpiness, and most shockingly, NO HUNGER!

I find that I am totally satisfied after a glass of fresh juice, and maintain hunger in between juices with lots of water. I'm putting 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in a glass of juice or water twice a day, usually in the morning and in the late afternoon, to help the full feeling last longer and help move the toxins out of my body. I've been averaging about 3 different juices each day. Following the recipes I posted on Tuesday, I cut those with about 1/3 water and get about 2.5 glasses of juice out of each "juicing". I carry an insulated 20oz glass that I will fill up to drink immediately, and put the rest in a mason jar with 1/3 water to bring with me wherever I go for refills. This method has worked really well and results in about 6-8 glasses of juice each day, and I typically drink another 8-12 glasses of water on top of that.

I've been drinking a "fruity" juice in the morning, since that gets some natural sugars in my body and helps give me energy throughout the day. The lunch juice has been all veggie and citrus based (maybe an apple to sweeten), and the evening has been whatever I feel like, based on my cravings. Every juice I'm making has greens of some sort in it. Yesterday I started the day with the Great Green Fruity Juice, lunch was Green Lemonade, and my dinner was Dracula's Dream Juice.

Dracula's juice wasn't on the list I made Tuesday, and I didn't shop specifically for it, but I did have everything I needed to make it. When I read the name of the juice and the ingredients it made me crack up, and really want to try it. For some reason it seemed like an indulgent juice! I will preface this by saying that I have NEVER liked beets, prepared any way. A handful of times I've had them in juices and haven't been able to drink the juice. It makes everything taste like dirt. Gross. However, I did read someone said it's best to peel the beets because the skin can give a nasty taste. So, I decided to give it a go last night. I peeled the beets and put them into the juicer with the strawberries, carrots, and kale. I also decided that I'd really treat myself and drink this one out of a wine glass, since it was so deep, dark, and beautiful, and could pass for red wine if someone just glanced.

Might sound silly, but I think the wine glass made a big impact on me mentally. I stretched out on the couch, relaxed with a book and a kitten on my lap, and sipped it like it WAS a beautiful glass of red wine. It tasted amazing. I LOVED this juice and will have a hard time not to drink it every day! The color is gorgeous and it's really cool to be reminded that such intense colors are found naturally occurring in food. Plus I loaded it up with squishy ice, which you know is my favorite!

I shared my shopping list with you last time and the total came to $92.98. That included a 25lb bag of juicing carrots that I split with Melanie, and a bar of soap, so the accurate total is more like $80. That comes out to about $2.85 per glass of juice, made from 100% organic (and about 25% local) fruits and veggies. If you went to a juice bar I promise you'd pay double that, at least. I'm happy with that cost breakdown, and interested to see if I can stretch what I have on hand out to 5 days rather than my originally anticipated 4. If that happens, the cost per juice goes down by another $.60!

Other than juicing be surprisingly affordable on the wallet, I am THOROUGHLY enjoying not having to *think* about what is going into my body next. There's no cooking. Cleanup is quick and easy. Preparing my meals take less than 5 minutes from the time I put my hand on the first veggie until I'm taking my first sip. I've gotten so much of my time back! (Which is good, considering all of my free time for the next week will be spent at car dealerships!). And this might sound silly, but some of these juices taste so good it literally puts a smile on my face when I take a sip. For example, breakfast this morning was Peachy Green Juice. I used the first of the crop peaches from here in Ft. Mill and seriously, every single sip put a smile on my face. It was involuntary!

On the morning of day 3 of the fast I stepped on the scale and it read 161.2. That is 7.6 pounds down from my starting weight 17 days ago, and 4.1 pounds down since I started the fast on Tuesday morning. I'm pretty happy with that progress in such a short time, and once again, I can tell the bloating and inflammation has continued moving out. I actually SAW my hip bones when I was laying down last night. I haven't seen those in a loooong time!

I hope my next post sees more progress and the fast continuing to be an enjoyable experience! At this point, unless anything major changes, I don't see any reason not to continue after my initial goal of 5 days. I'll probably tack on another 5 and try for 10 days!

For more information about juice fasting, why it's healthy for the body, and how to do it safely, check out this article on

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Unintentional Fasting

In my blog earlier today I mentioned that the wagon's wheels were wobbling and starting to shake and I felt like I was losing control of my discipline a bit. I also mentioned that I was contemplating skipping to the juice fast to get myself on track and hopefully spur some more weight loss, since things have stagnated a bit already.

It is important to mention that I haven't had the ability to exercise in over a week & a half, outside of 2 practices & general activity in my yoga teacher training this weekend, due to my back feeling intensely uncomfortable from the accident. I was hoping to be running and practicing yoga regularly right now, but life happens.

This morning I had a smoothie for breakfast- frozen banana, frozen berries, 1/2 avocado, and some coconut water & chia seeds. Around lunch time I wrote the previous blog post and ruminated on the juice fast. I got home and decided, what the hell, I'll drink a juice for lunch. And dinner. And see where that gets me.

I made a pretty yum veggie juice with tomatoes, celery, kale, cukes, lemon, radish, etc. Kind of a "clean out the fridge" juice. I made enough for a tall glass right then, and put the rest in a 1 quart mason jar to bring to work with me in the evening. By the end of the night I was definitely feeling some hunger pains and thinking about food, but nothing so intense another juice when I got home couldn't handle it.

My goal right now is to go 5 days on only juice, and see how I feel come Sunday. I expect the next 2 days to be a challenge, between the hunger and the lethargy that I hear is standard on a fast. I also expect Saturday to be full of temptation as I help my best friend Beth celebrate her thirty-something birthday at the US National White Water Center. Hopefully I will be riding the wave of 4 successful fasting days and know that all I need is to get through the day to make it 5. I hope bringing Beth my old juicer as a birthday "re-gift" will encourage me to stay on the wagon.

In preparation for the next 5 days I sorted through the juice recipes on the Reboot site and picked 6 that looked good to me and shared some ingredients, and utilized some of what I have left on hand to get rid of. Strawberry season is nearing its end in Ft. Mill with the heavy rains we've had over the past few days so I bought a gallon of berries, and an awesome mom of one of our kid students brought me a quart as a thank you, so I'm overflowing with berries! (Hope to make some freezer jam, blog incoming). I also caught the very first of the Ft. Mill peaches this season which are a yellow fleshed clingstone peach. They felt pretty hard still but I couldn't resist buying 1/4 peck. I REALLY look forward to a summer full of crazy good peaches- Springs Farm grows some ridiculous number of varieties and pick them fresh daily to sell at the Peach Stand which is only 1/2 mile from my house.

The recipes I decided on to start the first few days of my fast are: Apple, Beet & Carrot JuiceCarrot, Apple, Ginger JuiceGreat Green Fruity Juice, Gazpacho JuiceGreen Lemonade, and Peachy Green Juice.

I wrote down the ingredients and quantities and have a big ol' shopping list to take with me tomorrow to EarthFare. This is what it looks like, and should make about 14 juices (3 of some, 2 of others)

35 cups of kale
9 red apples
2 pears
8 tomatoes
4 cucumbers
16 stalks of celery (I'm guessing 2 bunches)
2 bell peppers
2 bunches of parsley
2 limes
4 lemons
6 cups of spinach
3 green apples
6 zucchinis
12 peaches
12 carrots
4 beets
1 quart strawberries

Once I get to EarthFare tomorrow and check out I'll share the cost of this. I'm anticipating that with diluting some of the juices I can get through close to 4 days on this shopping list. We'll see how it goes. I'll definitely check in over this week to let you know how things are moving along!

Need Motivation!

I had an unfortunate "incident" on Thursday night in which I cheated for a meal, mostly due to having a super stressy day. Needless to say, the boneless buffalo wings (my kryptonite) were a giant disappointment and I ended up leaving half of them on my plate, completely disgusted with myself.

Teacher training this weekend was truly amazing and I learned so much. We had a great group of students and the teacher was awesome. It did make it very difficult to stay on the straight & narrow with my eating due to having my regular eating and snacking schedule all out of whack. I did ok for breakfasts and snacks but lunch the 2nd day was a little dicey. Dinner the first night was great, I tried the Chipotle Veggie Sausage at Growlers which Creative Loafing put on their list of top 10 vegan dishes in the city. It did not disappoint. However, later on after sitting with Melanie for her tattoo-redo, I cheated on a dessert. We went to the Crepe Cellar and got the crepe with Nutella, strawberries & banana. Honestly, as far as cheaty desserts go, it could have been WAY worse. Crepe is made with a little bit of flour, yes, which is processed. Nutella is chock full of sugar but is one of the most wholesome and natural routes to go for dessert. Plus, it was delicious, and it had fruit, so it was hard to feel bad about it.

Friday night I had a wonderful dinner thanks to planning ahead. Last Wednesday I prepped for this dinner which was going to be a breakfast, but hey. Breakfast for dinner can be delish! I adapted it from a recipe I've had my eye on and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I don't usually measure when I cook so please take these general ingredients, tweak to your liking, and use your common sense for portions!

1 sweet potato
2 red potatoes
1/2 Vidalia onion
quinoa (about 1/4 cup)

I roasted the potatoes and onion in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes after tossing them in a bit of olive oil and seasoning. I did this on Wednesday and held in a tupperware container on the counter till I used them on Friday night. I also cooked a few cups of tri-color quinoa for several recipes and held this in the fridge.

Friday night I sauteed a few cloves of garlic, a small handful of mushrooms, and a small handful of red kale. I tossed in a big handful of the roasted potatoes and onions, along with the cooked quinoa.

I poached 2 eggs (you could fry them with minimal olive oil if you're not comfortable with poaching) and placed them on top of my sweet potato & quinoa hash. 'Twas super delish!

Monday came around and my back has been incredibly uncomfortable from the car accident. Physically I'm not feeling anywhere close to myself, and my fridge was empty. The majority of my fresh fruits and veggies have been used, or are on their last leg. I'm supposed to be starting the vegan phase and had zero motivation yesterday to get my ass in gear and plan out some good meals and go shopping. Plus, I had some local goat cheese in the fridge and couldn't bear to see it go to waste. My salad for breakfast was yummy with some mixed greens, strawberries, walnuts, goat cheese, green onions, chia seeds, and the strawberry vinaigrette Melanie & I split from Nourish.

Lunch was definitely an 80/20, or possibly a 70/30. Seared tuna steak with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes (at a restaurant.... which means the potatoes were loaded with cream and butter...mmmmmmm....cream and butter!). Dinner last night was take out, fresh salad and a crabcake, which I'm sure was bound with mayo and breadcrumbs. Sadly, my willpower failed and I couldn't resist the fresh bread and olive oil with garlic that came with my meal. Yep, totally scarfed down all 3 hunks of warm and crusty bread.

As for the weight... well, I'm not sure what's going on. I must've been having a super light day or the scale was playing tricks on me when I weighed in a week ago at 163.3. I haven't been near there since. I've been hovering around 165 for days without change. Obviously my cheats here & there since last week and my lack of being on my own terms for eating all weekend have thrown everything out of whack to a certain extent. I'm having a very hard time finding the motivation right now to get back on track, so I'm asking you folks to please be supportive and encouraging and help me make the right choices. I'm toying with the idea of just going forward with the juice fast for 5 days or so, especially since my back is keeping me out of commission for anything other than a gentle yoga class. Maybe that is what I need to reaffirm my goals, and I could come out the other end doing vegan for a week or two? Thoughts??

One last note- Nourish put out an amazing menu yesterday and we were so pumped to order! Vegan lasagna and vegan pad thai would have been perfect in my fridge. Alas, it was not to be. Nourish sold out of pre-orders in under 12 hours! I'm sad I won't be enjoying their food for another couple weeks now, but thrilled that a business that is sorely needed in this city is thriving and succeeding. The owner tells me they're searching for a larger kitchen to run their operations out of and hope to find a match this week. Fingers crossed that they are able to weather the pain of growing too quickly, because while it's the best problem to have, it is most definitely still a problem! Congrats to Nourish for filling the void for so many healthy eaters out there and I can't wait for next Monday's menu. I'll be first in line :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Soooo much food!

It's been a few days since my last post because we've been pretty busy with all sorts of craziness! It was a great time for my first meals from Nourish Charlotte to arrive on Tuesday. Nourish is a brand spankin' new company that is a local, healthy, organic, vegan/vegetarian delivery service. They post a menu on Monday and allow you to select your choices and order over the next few days. They prepare everything the following Monday, and deliver to your door in Charlotte on Tuesday! Sara, who is on the Paleo diet, and Melanie, who is on a medically supervised gluten free diet, and I all went in to ensure we'd meet the minimum $50 order and had it delivered to Sara's work in Charlotte. We found it awesome than even though the 3 of us are on different diets, we could all enjoy selections on their menu.

The food comes in an insulated bag with ice packs, packaged in eco-friendly, microwave safe, reusable containers. There are instructions for reheating both in the oven and in the microwave. Needless to say I was PUMPED to find out about this company and have a few meals each week that I personally wouldn't have to cook. This is great when I'm short on time, and have been handy to keep in the fridge at the school to heat up when I get hungry halfway through the evening. I have totally failed on getting pictures of the food, because by the time I think about it, I've already destroyed the plate by devouring it! This is my feeble attempt at photographing the Risotto Cakes with Lentil Bolognese. So pretty!

I ordered Stir Fried Bok Choy with Seasame Tempeh and Brown Rice & Spring Peas, Risotto Cakes with Lentil & Veggie Bolognese, Asian Slaw, Roasted Veggies, and Strawberry Vinaigrette.

They advertise that the entrees are 2 portions, which for someone like me who is eating smaller meals, they very much are. Jeremy looked at them and laughed because he could probably eat 3 of them and still be hungry (NOT that he would eat one... WAY too many veggies and healthiness happening in those dishes!).

The reviews from Sara and Melanie have been equal to mine: we LOVE Nourish! The food was obviously fresh, and the flavors were great. Personally I think anything I DON'T have to make tastes better than anything I make, mostly because I didn't have to do the work. I'm definitely going to enjoy having healthy "heat & serve" meals on hand each week for myself and I can't wait to see next week's menu. Can it be Monday already??

As for the past few days... I kinda forgot to log Tuesday, and my memory is terrible. I promise I followed all my rules and was probably closer to 99/1 than I've been so far. Wednesday was kind of odd. For some reason I just wasn't really that hungry! I usually have snacks or juices in between my meals and I didn't. I wasn't going to force myself to eat just because I usually eat or snack at a certain time, so I didn't.

Breakfast: Citrus Juice
Lunch: Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers with Avocado & Salsa, side of Kale Chips
Linner: Nourish: Stir Fried Bok Choy and Seasame Tempeh with Brown Rice & Spring Peas
Dinner: Blackened Fish Tacos with Guacamole & Peanut Slaw on Corn Tortilla (little cheat on the tortilla) and a glass of wine at Mac's Speed Shop!!!

Breakfast was a success. Removing the peel of citrus fruits with a knife was the key to a delicious juice blend! I even made an awesome citrus "snow-man"! After juicing my grapefruit, orange, and lime, I filled the glass the rest of the way with coconut water. Wowzer. This woke me up big time!

I made a dish this week that turned out to be pretty yummy. Again, it's a mash-up of several recipes I've been seeing, tweaked to meet my preferences and what I had on hand. Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers. I hesitate to refer to these as "burgers" because other than the shape they resemble a hamburger 0%. It's a veggie patty. The first one I made was big, and when I made it the next day I did several smaller patties which I liked better. Very flavorful and EXTREMELY healthy and full of all kinds of stuff that's good for you. It also made a good bit that will provide for 4 full meals for me, or multiple side dishes.

1 Sweet potato, cubed, boiled, drained
1 14oz can of Garbanzo beans (they're named after Colonel Garbanzo, in case you didn't know)
3 tablespoons Tahini paste
1 Lime
Salt & Pepper
Southwest seasoning

The cool thing is if you keep the sweet potato, garbanzo beans, and tahini the same, you can flavor this with whatever seasonings you'd like! I had some avocados and fresh salsa on hand so I went a spicy southwest route. Throw everything except the breadcrumbs in the food processor and pulse away until you've got everything incorporated, but before it becomes a smooth paste. Dump it into a bowl and see how it holds together. Likely you'll need to stir in some breadcrumbs to get it to a point where you can patty it up and have it stay together without being too limp and sticky. Once you've got a good consistency, form the patties to the size you'd like and cook over medium heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (I used grapeseed oil). If you'd like a bit more crunch you can coat the outside with breadcrumbs too!

To serve I just sliced an avocado on top and threw on a few spoonfuls of local fresh salsa. I paired this with Spicy Southwest Lime Kale Chips which were delish and went really well with the dish. I promise I will write an entire blog on kale, and kale chips, in the near future. I'm quickly becoming obsessed with and finding new uses for kale.

Speaking of kale.... and sweet potatoes.... I ended up spending the afternoon cooking after I ate lunch. I already had the sweet potatoes out so I went ahead and prepped for what I hope will be a scrumptious Sweet Potato & Quinoa Breakfast Hash with Poached Eggs, and since I had the quinoa out, I went ahead and made Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf. Between the Nourish food, all of the fresh veggies for salads, smoothies, and juices, the leftovers from what I've made this week, and the dishes I've pre-made, I seriously question my ability to eat all of it before it goes bad! Hopefully tomorrow morning I'll have the chance to enjoy my breakfast hash. This weekend I'm heading into The Art of Assisting & Arm Balances weekend intensive for my yoga teacher training. 25 hours of glorious yoga! I won't be writing another blog until next week, unless I can sneak one in tomorrow, but I do hope to check out Fern this weekend, which is a vegetarian restaurant in Plaza Midwood near the studio I'll be training at.

I've taken some time off from the scale the past few days so no update on that front, but I will check in Monday with a weight update!
made- mushroom quinoa salad and quinoa breakfast hash

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 2! And eating is cheaper!

I made it through the first week, and it was EASY! Easy because my energy and health are through the roof. I'm seeing results, I'm not hungry, and for me, I'm finding enjoyment in the planning, shopping, cooking, eating process once again (only been a fan of the eating portion since I stopped being a professional chef).

Quick run-down on today's meals:

Breakfast- Berry, banana & pineapple smoothie with coconut water, spinach, and chia seeds
Lunch- Indian food from EarthFare's cafe (vegan!)
Snack #1- Fresh grape & apple juice with ginger (holy sweetness!)
Snack #2- Quick pickles
Dinner- Zucchini spaghetti with creamy lemon basil sauce (adapted from several recipes) and mixed green side salad

I am excited about this dinner! this is a dish I've been wanting to try, but between sub-par zucchini offerings at the store and the car accident, my plans were derailed. I've taken 3 different zucchini spaghetti recipes and fused them into one. I love the idea of raw zucchini "spaghetti", since I'm a huge pasta eater normally. I'm also a glutton for a good cream sauce (usually made with butter, heavy cream & cheese)! This fusion seemed to get all of my favorites into one recipe. Here's a general outline of what I made, and how I made it

1 Zucchini per person, julienne thinly on a mandoline
Grape tomatoes- small handful, sliced in half
Walnuts- small handful
Green onions- small handful, thinly sliced
Creamy Lemon Basil Sauce- about 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, juice of 1 lemon, minced garlic, 2-3 basil leaves, sliced thinly, sea salt & pepper. Put it in a tupperware container, shake it up, let it mellow in the fridge for a few hours.

Basically, toss the zucchini "spaghetti" with some of the creamy sauce until it's covered well. Twirl up all pretty-like on a plate, like you would with regular spaghetti. Sprinkle with tomatoes, walnuts, and green onions. Throw a salad of mixed greens & veggies with extra virgin olive oil & vinegar on the side and that's a damn fine, raw meal!

Some small changes I will make next time around: I'll add lemon zest, and rather than shaking the dressing I will use my food processor to incorporate the garlic & basil throughout the sauce a bit more. It was scrumptious as is, but there's always room for improvement!

Generally speaking, I'm feeling full for longer with less food intake, which is a good thing. My body isn't craving foods because I'm feeding it a full dose of all the nutrients it needs! Alvaro and I checked in with each other yesterday and set a goal to be down 10 pounds total by this time next week. If you'd told me that was a possibility last Monday when I started I would have laughed in your face. But, after losing 5.5 pounds in one week, I think it's a realistic (but still lofty) goal to shed another 4.5 in week 2. If this week is as easy as last week was, I believe I can make it happen! My "big picture" goal is to be down to 145 by the wedding, which is just under 4 months away. That's 23.8 pounds under my starting weight, but if I reach my "down 10 pounds" goal by next Monday, I'm almost halfway there, and in my mind, the hardest part will be behind me!

When I was talking with Alvaro I mentioned how far I'm able to stretch my grocery trips now, and how much money I am saving by not eating out or buying meat & dairy products. I've eaten out twice in the past week, down from the typical 2 meals a day, every day that we were in the habit of. I found that by planning my meals wisely, eating leftovers, and using what is getting ready to go bad first, I made my grocery trip from last Wednesday stretch until today! I could have held off on going today, as tomorrow I get my meals from Nourish (I promise to write about that tomorrow) and won't need to make my own meals for a couple days. Exciting! However, I was low on some of my favorite juice staples so I decided to make a big trip.

There are a few fruits and veggies I see staying on every grocery list from here on out, because they're good in salads, good by themselves, good in smoothies and juices, and find their way into every recipe I prepare. I find if I buy a few of each, I can get through nearly a whole week before my supply gets low. My standard staples for the summer season are:

bell peppers
broccoli or cauliflower
kale (and other dark leafy greens)
Vidalia onion
grape tomatoes
sweet potatoes
mixed salad greens

(once they're in season and local, tomatoes and corn will be added to the list!)

My strategy has been to pull a few recipes that look good to me for the next few days and make sure I have those ingredients on hand in addition to the above staples. Usually 3-5 recipes comprised of main dishes and sides will be enough to feed myself with the leftovers for 3-4 days. Once I'm home from the store and have some down time, I browse my Clean Eating board on Pinterest for other recipes that utilize the ingredients I have on hand. I've been able to come up with a list of 12-15 additional dishes that I could make with what is in my pantry and fridge with the addition of 3-5 extra ingredients that I can grab at any ol grocery store in a 5 minute trip.

Here's what my list looks like this week. These are all of the recipes that are available to me with the addition of just a couple ingredients which are: potatoes, shrimp, grapes, and sweet potatoes (the last 2 somehow didn't make it into my cart today!)

Zucchini Spaghetti
Veggie Quinoa Hash with Poached Eggs
Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers with Avocados
Spiced Cauliflower Poppers
Mashed Cauliflower
Citrus Shrimp & Avocado Salad
Garlic & Goat Cheese Quinoa Fritters
Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
Honey & Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt
Potato Salad
Sweet Potatoes with Grapes, Goat Cheese & Honey
Sweet Potatoes with Chili & Lime
Kale Chips (so many varieties)
Broccoli Hummus
Roasted Lemon Broccoli
Peanut Ginger Kale Salad

That's just what I came up with after about 15 minutes of browsing my Pinterest board. This doesn't include the nearly limitless combinations of smoothies and juices I can make with what I've got on hand, which have begun to substitute many of my meals.

By planning and shopping this way, I never feel the panic of being hungry and not having something healthy and quick to prepare at my fingertips, which leads to way less cheating! Because I am saving so much money on my meals in general, I've decided to be pretty "picky" with what I put in my body. I could easily go to the fruit & veg stand down the road that has *some* local stuff, but mainly stocks with the same fruits & veg you find at the regular store. I could probably check out around $50. Personally, right now, if it's not local, I'm buying organic, which is by nature slightly more expensive. I find my weekly trip to EarthFare to stock up on my staples plus other random ingredients has been running me around $100. When I think about the ridiculous number of meals I get out of that one trip, I'm totally fine with spending the extra money on buying organic!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Days 5-7

Day 5- Definitely feeling down from the car accident and the fact that I'm going to be saddled with a car payment if I want a halfway decent car. This has resulted in a day full of complete lethargy and laziness and not much appetite.

For breakfast I made a citrus blend. The instructions for my Breville juicer say you can put whole citrus fruits in the shoot (assuming they're big enough to fit in). This is true. It does a great job of juicing fruits even with the skins on. However, like I feared, it gives the juice a nasty bitter bite because of all of the pith (white part between the skin & flesh) that ends up in the juicer too. In the future, when juicing large quantities of citrus juice, I'll be cutting the skin and pith away before I send the flesh down the chute!

Had it not been for the bitterness, I think this would have been a great blend. I used a whole (huge) grapefruit, an orange, a lemon, a lime, and an apple for a bit of sweetness. It made a HUGE glass of juice. More like 1.5 huge glasses of juice. I stirred some honey in which helped brighten it up and improved the flavor, but the pith damage was done. My last 1/2 cup I cut with some coconut water which further improved the taste, but honestly this was not an enjoyable juice experience. Which made me even more bummed.

Later in the afternoon I was short on time and had to get to work and still wasn't in the mood for actual food, so I played clean out the fridge and just grabbed whatever veggies I could put my hands on. I wasn't concerned with the fact that it wouldn't be a tasty juice. I just knew I needed the fuel inside me in short order.  It wasn't the tastiest juice, but it did its job.

That night I ate a DELICIOUS sweet potato for dinner! Baked in the crock pot for a few hours, and topped with sliced grapes, goat cheese, and honey. Will definitely be trying that one again.!

At the start of day 5 my weight was 165.8

Day 6- Strawberry Festival! Easily one of my top 3 favorite things about living in Fort Mill. It's not so much that I love strawberries, because I do. But I really love any type of festival/fair, and this one brings out a good number of really talented local vendors selling jewelry, soaps, wood carvings, etc. I love shopping around. Usually one of my favorite parts would be the food- turkey legs, funnel cake, strawberry shortcakes, strawberry beer.... basically everything is fried, like good festival food should be. I surprised myself by really not having any moments of intense desire for fried brownies or turkey legs. I ended up enjoying some locally made strawberry wine and a roasted corn on the cob. Kinda cheated by putting Frank's Red Hot on my corn, and the corn wasn't local and it wasn't organic so it was probably evil Monsanto GMO corn, but hey. It was a more solid nutritional choice than anything from Juan Taco's. I also cheated a bit and ate two "strawberry poppers": basically a fresh strawberry filled with a bit of buttercream icing. SO GOOD and every bit as satisfying as a full blown strawberry shortcake, but without the cake! This was definitely an 80/20 day, the most "cheating" I've done so far. That consisted of McAllister's Deli putting cheese on my veggie baked potato, and eating blue cheese on my salad. Although while watching the fights with friends that night, while everyone chowed down on some white pizza, I was thoroughly satisfied with my super healthy organic green & veggie salad, and was actually happier to be eating that than pizza. So weird.

Day 7- Due to my planning ahead for 2 days worth of menus in the middle of the week and over-buying everything veggie related, I still haven't had to shop for groceries, and everything has either been leftovers or fresh salads, smoothies & juices. Started the day with a green juice + pineapple, and some grapes. Lunch was cucumber, celery and ginger juice. We had engagement pictures (20 months later....) and I figured as long as I wasn't hungry I would stick to juice so I looked nice and thin for the photos :) I weighed myself and for the first time in a very long time the scale made me smile. Down 5.5 pounds since last Monday to 163.3! After the photos we had dinner at our new favorite sushi place, Akahana. I didn't fully stay within my guidelines, but I promise it wasn't for lack of trying. They couldn't do sushi rolls with brown rice so I had a hand roll with brown rice and a summer roll. I ended up getting green curry with veggies & shrimp over buckwheat Udon noodles. If I hadn't felt so rushed and had my first 2 options shot down by the kitchen being out of ingredients, I would have used my head a little more and had it over brown rice. We went to see the Avengers afterwards and I didn't crave the popcorn, candy, or icee's.

Sorry this was kind of a boring blog... no exciting recipes or food photos. It's been a little crazy and hectic since the car accident, and I'm just happy I didn't use that event as an excuse to dive into a plate of chicken wings or bowl of ice cream.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 4- Before Pictures and a Car Accident

Trust me when I say this was NOT my idea. But a friend asked if I'd be willing to post some before, during, and after photos to help motivate he and his wife to stick to their goals for eating clean & healthy. So.... the before are at the bottom of this post. Blah. Not happy but I plan on posting progress pics every 10 days. I am happy that I stepped on the scale today and it's reading 166.8, which means I've dropped 2 pounds.

Day 4 was a lot of leftovers which is a good thing, because it means I met my goal for Wednesday of prepping so I didn't have to spend much time in the kitchen on Thursday!

Breakfast- JUICE! (Granny Smith apple, pineapple, strawberry & lime)
Snack- banana
Lunch- falafel, broccoli hummus, celery, carrots & tabbouleh
Snack- Gazpacho Juice
White Water Center Snacks- Quick pickles, falafel wrap, broccoli hummus

We'd planned to go to the movies with some friends for the midnight release of the Avengers. Unfortunately, on my way home from the White Water Center after a much needed evening with my girls, I was involved in a car accident on the highway. Needless to say we didn't make the movie, and my poor, paid off car is likely totaled. By the time I finally got home I went straight to bed, but I did make some awesome cheesy kale chips to take with me to the movie theater to eat instead of the popcorn. I'll definitely write about these when I eat them because they're amaaaazing!!!!

Instead I'll talk about the super tasty Gazpacho juice I made yesterday! I find my body naturally craving juice instead of solid meals right now which is really blowing my mind. This particular juice is a keeper! If you've ever had Gazpacho soup you know it's a chilled soup made from a tomato base with lots of great veggies in it. It's almost like a pico de gallo soup with cucumbers added. The juice consisted of:

4 Roma or Plum tomatoes (I only had 2, supplemented with grape toms!)
1 large cucumber
2 stalks of celery
1 bell pepper
1 lime
1/4 onion
2 C parsley
2 cloves of garlic

This juice tasted JUST like Gazpacho soup and was delicious chilled with some ice cubes. This is definitely another recipe I'll keep in the rotation.

On another note, I've got to mention how great I've felt this past week since I cleaned up my diet. The change has been tremendous. My mood has been elevated and my energy is through the roof. Unfortunately, thanks to the car accident, I've found myself in a funk today and have not had an appetite or been hungry. I drank a fruit & citrus juice in the morning and a veggie juice in the afternoon, and have had a handful of quick pickles, but that's it so far. Definitely feeling blah and hoping that my diet can help elevate me back to where I was pre-accident!

That's it for now, please don't let these before pictures give you nightmares. If nothing else I've learned from taking them that I'd like to lose a few pounds and get a tan before I am seen in public in a bathing suit this summer! Here's to the next pictures looking a little better!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day 3 and I see RESULTS! Part 2

After eating dinner last night I decided it deserved its very own blog post. It was definitely the most flavorful and tasty meal I've eaten AND it created lots of leftovers.

I will start by saying that Crock Pot falafels are another of my most favorite slow cooker meals. This recipe could easily be cooked up in a frying pan with a bit of oil and still be pretty healthy, but slow cooking it is super hands off and only requires enough oil to keep the patties from sticking to the bottom. The recipe I follow can be found on the CrockPot365 blog. This could not be quicker or easier to throw together. I literally put everything in the food processor (forget mashing the chickpeas with a fork) and pulse together. If it's still kind of wet but I like the consistency of the ingredients, I'll take it out and fold in some breadcrumbs until it sticks together without being too wet. If you're like me and are impatient/thorough/picky about your seasonings, make a small patty and cook it on the stove top to taste the finished product. Much easier to adjust your seasoning now than later! Once you're happy, patty them up, throw them in the Crock Pot, and a few hours later without any flipping you've got falafel that would rival any I've had in a restaurant or from a street cart! 

*Quick note here- yesterday I had gluten free breadcrumbs on my shopping list. I thought about it and realized I had a massive amount of breadcrumbs at home (I make my own when bread is on its last leg and save in the freezer), AND this easily falls into the 80/20 theory. Seriously, you're not eating enough bread crumbs in this recipe to have a huge impact on the fact that it's gluten/gluten free (unless you're going gluten free for a medical reason, then by all means follow your guidelines). But for me, it makes more sense to use up my breadcrumbs at home than worry about being strict about such a small ingredient!*

I originally intended the Raw Broccoli Hummus to be strictly a snack item. This was easy to make right after the falafel because I already had the food processor out. This is another little recipe that takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish and is really super duper healthy! Throw everything into the food processor, pulse, whir, taste, season, finished! I ended up drizzling some olive oil in at the last few seconds to thin it out a little bit. When I tasted it I realized immediately that it would end up making a REALLY good condiment for my falafel! I usually make a sauce with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dill  (that's it, easy) but I figured this would be a good way to balance out my use of regular breadcrumbs (sneaking into that 20%) by not eating the dairy. 

As you can see on the photo used on the site with the recipe for the raw broccoli hummus, they've got it nicely wrapped up in a collard leaf with tomatoes. I usually throw my falafel in a pita with lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, and sauce, but figured why not. I put it in the collard with the broccoli hummus and tomatoes and it was AWESOME! Didn't miss the pita at all! 

The hummus made a small tupperware bowl's worth which should last me the 3 days it says it will keep in the fridge. I plan on digging into it with celery sticks and carrots (ok... kinda missing pita chips here!) and continuing to use it as a spread/condiment for wraps. The falafel recipe makes 8-10 patties slightly smaller than the palm of your hand, usually enough for 2 per wrap or pita. I will reheat these for snacks by themselves but definitely I will be eating some more yummy collard wraps! 

The Spicy Peanut Ginger Kale salad was a definite hit with me. I didn't use the pickled ginger, just doubled the fresh ginger in this recipe. Commercial pickled ginger is a little too processed for my liking right now, with sugars and food dye added (and also I didn't want to spend the money when I already had fresh on hand!) Other than that and using the Vidalia onion on hand vs. the red onion as called for, I followed the recipe almost exactly. I used only 1 big bunch of kale so it had lots of dressing and ended up with 2 huge side servings, or 3-4 smaller servings. 

All 3 of these recipes will become regulars in my healthy eating rotation. They're all very quick, simple, CHEAP, and HUGE on flavor!!! I wanted to speak on the nutritional benefits of these 3 particular recipes but I've already written more than I intended, so I'll keep it short & sweet. The chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in the falafel are high in fiber and add to the detox benefits of this meal. It's also been proven that they help you feel more full and satisfied, meaning you eat less and feel full for longer, thus consuming less calories. The raw aspect of the broccoli hummus is important, because it means you're eating 100% of the vitamins and nutrients contained in the broccoli and zucchini. Even lightly steaming these veggies, which is seen as the most beneficial cooking method for preserving nutrients, depletes these veggies and means you don't get their full impact. If I talked about all the reasons kale should be in our diets every day I would seriously run out of space and you'd get bored. But I highly encourage you to check out this site to educate yourself about the awesomeness of kale. Trust me, you'll be seeing a lot of it in this blog! 

Day 3 and I See RESULTS! Part 1

So, one of my big complaints to Alvaro has been that I carry my weight in my stomach and how much I hate that. He's been telling me he's convinced it's inflammation, not fat. He was convinced that through a cleansing diet of fruits & veggies that I'd see the inflammation start to disappear. Well, I'll go ahead and say it. He was right, I was wrong. I woke up this morning and looked and felt like I'd lost 10 pounds, all in my stomach. MIRACLE! Or just a healthy diet, actually. I don't want to get into graphic details here, but when you transition to your diet consisting of mainly fruits and veggies it really "cleans you out". Alvaro tells me many people actually think they're getting sick or have a stomach bug, but it's normal. This is the detox part!

Last night I sat down and actually planned out today's AND tomorrow's meals! I woke up "early" (for me!) and had tons of energy, especially once I realized I was already starting to see results. I ran some errands and ended up at EarthFare to gather some specialty items I knew I wouldn't be able to find at the produce stands or Harris Teeter. I ended up crunched on time and found myself hungry at the grocery store, which is never a good thing. I ate lunch at their cafe and that kinda threw the menu plan into turmoil (that, and the fact that they were out of cauliflower!), but I'm just going with the flow!

One BIG part of this diet succeeding or failing for me, and for most people, is having the TIME to plan, shop, prep, and execute healthy meals consistently. For that reason I'm trying my very hardest to use my "short" work days to shop for the next day and prep as much food as possible. I'm also spending the few hours I have in the afternoon between work at Jeremy's academy to get dinner going so I don't find myself home at 10pm, hungry, and looking at 45 minutes of work to put dinner on the table (when all I want to do is get to bed!). I highly suggest, if you're going to try to really go for it and change your diet, that you FIND the time to plan, shop, prep and execute. If you can't find it, make it! Especially for the first few weeks, which I assume will be the most difficult, it will likely be the difference between failing and succeeding. Trust me... Waffle House seems oddly appealing when you get home from work and there's nothing healthy waiting for you in the fridge!

Day 3-

Breakfast- strawberries & bananas
Lunch- Potato cake & tabbouleh from EarthFare cafe
Snack- Zucchini chips (not work linking. Fail. Yummy, but not chip-like at all. Still, I ate a whole zucchini because of it)
JUICE- Yummy green juice modified from yesterday's Kale & Apple smoothie. Details below.
Linner- Leftover green bean & tri-color quinoa salad
Dinner- Crock Pot falafel with raw (bean free!) broccoli hummus in a collard wrap, spicy peanut ginger kale salad, and leftover tabbouleh from lunch

JUICE! I had a fortunate occurrence at EarthFare today! A couple days ago I took the leap and ordered a nice Breville juicer from Amazon to replace the one I currently have (which is now free to a good home!). I realized this morning that I hadn't seen the "shipped" email, and upon further investigation realized that it wasn't due to ship till early August. Not OK! In the produce section I happened upon the exact same juicer, for the exact same price! Cancelled my Amazon order and walked out with my shiny new juicer just a few minutes later. Hooray!

My first juice was an adaptation of yesterday's Kale & Apple Smoothie. Into the juicer went kale, an apple, celery, a kiwi, a cucumber, a lime and some ginger. Out came a super delicious green juice that was sweet and fresh!