Archive for November, 2010

The Holiday Train – 1st Stop Thanksgiving

The holiday train seems to have already loaded me into its caboose.  This may have something to do with my family’s visit that continued on this past week, post-cleanse.  Now with Thanksgiving and then holiday parties just around the bend – I’m frightened.  Thank goodness I took a month-long cleansing break between Canadian and American Thanksgiving.

Since I have the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving twice per year, I can say with great certainty, “I have issues with maintaining moderation on this particular holiday.”  If you watched me eat, you would swear the meal we give thanks for is about overindulgence and attempting to eat the year’s harvest in one sitting.  So I started to think of ways to control myself and keep the party train from running me over for at least another couple of weeks.  Here are some tips I came up with: 

  1. Make your own stuffing with whole grain bread.  Use more chicken or vegetable broth to moisten the stuffing instead of loads and loads of butter.  (Chemicalized margarine is of course out).
  2. Omit heavy cream from all things Thanksgiving (maybe with the exception of whipped cream on pumpkin pie).  Use a little butter and organic 2% milk (or almond milk) in mashed potatoes.  
  3. Take smaller portions.  The food combining that happens at Thanksgiving (proteins ingested with all those heavy carbs and sugars – potatoes and turkey and stuffing and gravy and then something sugary for desert) can make some of us ill.  Take a smaller portion this year and then eat again later or take a plate home for the next day.  Thanksgiving leftovers – yummy!
  4. Skip the white bread. 
  5. Limit the appetizers – including cheese. 
  6. Thicken gravy with spelt flour.
  7. No need to drown veggies in butter, or sugars like maple syrup just because we’re giving thanks.  Keep the food clean and delicious.
  8. If we’re going to drink, it’s good to maintain mindfulness around how much alcohol we’re ingesting and have a maximum number of drinks in mind (mine’s two).  
  9. Instead of laying on the couch in a tryptophan coma, get outside for a walk.

Hope some of these tips help as the holiday train is soon to be set-in-motion for all Healthy Junkies.  Happy Thanksgiving to all the American Healthy Junkies!

The Finish Line

Yahoo!  We made it!  Twenty-eight days without sugar, caffeine, alcohol, white flour dairy or processed/refined foods.  I know there are community cleansers who participated on varying levels of commitment, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  Regardless

I won't be ingesting all this on the same day - at least not today

of our initial goal, we should all be proud.  I’ve come to realize that many wouldn’t consider embarking on this journey at all.  Many people have said, “I could never do a cleanse.  What on earth would I eat?”  As we all now know, there’s an abundance of healthy foods we can eat – on and off – a cleanse. 

Now I can’t say that I didn’t struggle a few times over the past month.  I almost capsized the cleanse-friendly canoe when my Canadian family rolled into Napa.  But I maintained The Will to Power Through and made it across the finish line.  I must admit, I’m a little afraid for today.  I don’t want to undo all the good I feel I’ve done for my body.  I also really like my new trimmer look.  My mind is clear and for lack of a less new agey description – I feel more grounded.  I feel better rooted in who I really am; without the highs and lows.

My visitors have been inducted, well more like forced, into a milder version of the cleanse because they’ve been staying with us for the past week.  I’m happy to report they all love green smoothies and everything cleanse-friendly (of course they’ve been taunting us with cheese and wine).  But I know they’re happy the cleanse is over so we can finally participate in a proper toast.   Although we’re all excited to go out to a few restaurants this week, they’re already pre-planning our next cleanse-friendly dinners.  They’re hooked on good home cleanse-friendly cooking.    

Yesterday my friend who powered through the cleanse and fell out of it one day early wrote to me, “Broke the cleanse with a cappuccino.”  A few moments later she wrote, “”Yeah wooowho oh no coffee might make me kookie and I only had half of it.”  About one hour later she texted, “Note to self: cappuccinos make me sick.  Hmm or it could have been the amazing local Mac and Cheese with crab.  Argh…Me feel sicky.”  The last text concerning all this was, “Seriously.  But was it the coffee or the cheese?”

Since we’ve done all this cleansing work, it’s a good idea to reintroduce the more irritating foods we’ve eliminated like coffee, alcohol, chocolate, sugary desserts, ice cream, cheese, milk, white flour and anything else you can think of, one at a time.  For example, I told my friend to stop drinking coffee for the next four days and continue to eat cheese.  This should help her determine the culprit food.  If she continues to feel sick from the cheese, then she could omit cheese from her diet (perhaps for a long time) and try having a coffee (without the milk).  If this doesn’t irritate her stomach, she could then try another cappuccino with milk.  Chances are if cheese upsets her system so will milk.  If we add all these foods back in at the same time and have a reaction (such as a stomach ache, bowel issues, headaches, irritation, dizziness, hives, rashes, congestion, excess mucus production, or my favorite – complete lethargy) we won’t know which one is causing the problem.  We should be able to figure out intolerances to most foods by rotating them back into the diet in four-day intervals.     

I want to thank-you all for participating or reading during the past four weeks, and thank-you for all your supportive and entertaining comments.  I will continue to blog at least once a week.  The plan is to run another four-week Community Cleanse beginning in January from the 4th to the 31st.  Here’s to our first successful cleanse all you Healthy Junkies!

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

Today’s the last day of The Community Cleanse and I’m getting nervous about journeying into the real world of coffee, wine and cheese tomorrow.  The thing is, I feel good right now, in a weird middle-of-road with no ups-and-downs kind of way.  Is this normal?  In some ways I feel like a watered down version of my former self.  In other ways, I feel like I’m just beginning to get my “real” energy together and break out of my cleanse induced shell.  For example, I went salsa dancing last night with my amazing sixty-year old aunt and kept up with her until two in the morning (without caffeine or alcohol).  If you knew my energetic aunt, you would be impressed by this. 

I’m happy to report, Dear Blog, that somewhere along the cleansing way, my body and mind got together and helped me out on the portion control front.  Of course I still eat more than the average person, but I’m pretty certain I’m not going to eat blocks of cheese in one sitting tomorrow.  My relationship with eating until I’m uncomfortable has changed because nothing I’ve eaten in the past weeks has made me feel sickly full.  So what to do next with the cleanse ending?

Well, I’ve been contemplating a still-in-progress game plan.  But keep in mind Dear Blog that none of this is set in stone and I can always change my mind.  I’ve decided to limit caffeine to one coffee, or latte per day, up to a maximum of three times per week.  I’m pretty sure this one is going to have to be limited further because I’ve seen some pretty radical results in regularity and a severe decrease in a chronic pain condition.  Maybe decaf is the answer?  But one step at a time!  God knows, I love coffee and its inherent highs. 

I’ve decided to only purchase cheese for special occasions.  I don’t think dairy loves me enough to offer itself to me in large delicious chunks, every day of the year.  Of course I’m going to continue to read all labels and avoid all white sugar, processed, “chemicalized” and hydrogenated foods.  One of my amazing friend’s and community cleanser said, “I’ve decided to give up diet soda.” (Translation is diet pop – for all you fabulous Canadians).  “I’ve decided to give up diet soda,” she repeated, “but never intended this when I started the cleanse, so I’m going to allow myself one last romance with it and then bury this bad habit forever.  I’ve come to realize how disastrously harmful that stuff can be.”

Dear Blog, now for the biggie – I know I’ll be drinking wine this week.  It’s been nice waking up every morning for the past twenty-seven days without any trace of dehydration or hangover (this sometimes happens to me after only two glasses of wine).  And I haven’t necessary felt less social – less fun maybe, but not less social.  In the name of moderation, I’ve decided to limit my alcohol intake to two drinks and of course not every day (but know this Dear Blog, some nights they may be larger-sized glasses).    

Well thanks for listening Dear Blog, and please help me to continue to make great healthy choices tomorrow and the days after that.  Happy last cleansing day!

Breaking Down the Fat

The final weekend – the final countdown!  It’s hard to believe there are only two days left until the end of The Community Cleanse.  Although I can still pinch an inch from my mid-section, I certainly feel trimmer than I did twenty-six days ago.  Of course the cleanse’s main focus is to clean the body, break habits and increase overall nutrition.  But I must say that the F-word was still on my mind – Fat that is.  Secretly, I had hoped to trim up and shed off some of the over-indulgences I was carrying around.    

In my early twenties I avoided oil, nuts, avocados and all things fat.  If low-fat diets were in, I was on a no-fat diet.  This was a big mistake!  Healthy fats are essential to our bodies being able to function.  Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are unsaturated fats and commonly referred to as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  EFAs are not synthesized by the body.  Therefore, these healthy fats must be obtained from our food. 

We cannot survive without EFAs.  The membrane that encapsulates each one of our cells is mainly composed of unsaturated and essential fatty acids (good fats).  EFAs keep the integrity of the cell membranes intact; they allow good nutrients to transverse the membrane and keep damaging toxins and anti-nutrients out of the cells.  EFAs also help to moderate hormone function and healthy nerve function.  They’re essential to keeping our brains and minds working (I don’t know about you, but I can use all the help I can get).  EFAs increase the formation of healthy prostaglandins in the body and this helps to decrease inflammation and lubricate joints.   EFAs improve our overall immunity, decrease allergies and support a healthy cardiovascular system.  They also keep our skin supple and our hair healthy.  It’s believed that ingesting additional EFAs can actually help with weight loss (fat loss) because the good fats attract the bad fats and drag them out of the body (flaxseed oil is good for women and helps with this). 

Now let’s be clear that we’re talking about good, healthy fats.  Examples of bad fats are; any hydrogenated fats found in processed and fast foods; “chemicalized” fats like margarine; junk food fats like chips and French fries; and an excess of hard saturated fats like much too much red meat and bacon. 

I‘ve come a long way since my days of abhorring fat.  I’m no longer afraid to cook and dress salads with oils including organic olive oil and canola oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, and others.  I  eat handfuls of nuts and seeds; walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds (Mmm-almond butter), chia seeds, pecans, sunflower seeds and so on.  I consume boat loads of fish and love avocado – everything tastes better with avocado.  I also take a fish oil supplement every day to ensure I’m getting enough EFAs.  Oils and good fats should be fresh, kept away from light and not overheated.  Happy Cleansing!

The Will to Power Through

Yesterday I went wine tasting – no joke.  Of course I didn’t sip any wine.  I obviously take The Community Cleanse seriously.  We’re hosting my Dad and two of my aunts for a total of two weeks.  For the past three days, I’ve been opening bottles of wine, cutting way too many blocks of cheese and wine touring with our guests as they sip their delicious wines.  It’s amazing how much will power I have.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments when I wanted to hip check them and snatch their buttery Chardonnay, crisp Champagne (I know – sparkling wine) or deep, fruity Cabernet right out of their hands.  Over the length of the cleanse, I’ve had no problem ignoring the drinks being poured and enjoyed at friends’ houses or bars, but having to play tour guide in my favorite wineries and not partaking in a sip – well I literally patted myself on the back every time we piled back into the car – still sitting high on the wagon.  I just keep telling myself, “The cleanse won’t last forever,” and with only five days left, there’s no way I can give up and cheat now.   

I went searching for an inspiring quote on will power and of course Wikipedia came up first on the search list.  I found a line that refers to will power according to Nietzsche.   “{W}ill is more a “creative spark,” a certain independence and stubbornness.”  Lately I feel I am re-creating myself with this cleanse.  I was happy to be touring and “wine tasting”.  I’m happy cutting cheese and watching my family eat chocolates and drink lattes.  I’m happy they’re enjoying themselves and funny enough I’m enjoying watching myself be independent and stubborn in my will to finish what I signed up for.  You ask, “Do I want wine and cheese?”  The answer to that question would be a big fat YES.  But I don’t feel deprived in any way by not having it right now.  Of course I’m excited for Monday.  Not sure what I’ll do with myself, but I’m excited to have accomplished the 28 days.  But at the moment, I’m very much content to be visiting with my family, still cleansing.  I find my creative spark has intensified its sparkle over the past three and a half weeks.  The testing and reemergence of my will power is exactly what I needed to complete this four-week journey.  Happy cleansing!

Fat Loss and Exercise

Oh exercise – for some of us lazier Healthy Junkies exercise is something we think a lot about and rarely do.  But it’s well worth dragging my butt off the couch because the benefits to exercising regularly are many.  Regular exercise decreases the risk of heart disease, decreases the risk of osteoporosis and helps to oxygenate the cells.  It improves overall immunity and helps to detoxify the body.  Toxins accumulate in fat tissue so it’s a good idea to keep those fat cells in check.  Of course, eating healthy is the first step to a healthy weight and The Community Cleanse will give “any body” a jumpstart on fat loss. 

Some of us exercise to stay healthy and fit and some of us are interested in losing weight.  I have a hard time talking about weight loss because I threw my scale to the curb a long time ago.  I prefer to talk about fat loss.  It’s possible to begin exercising and actually gain weight according to the scale but look and feel trimmer because muscle weighs more than fat.  Muscle tissue is also more metabolically active than fat, which means the more muscle you have, the more quickly you burn calories.  It’s pretty depressing if we feel better in our own bodies and then hop up onto the scale only to determine we’re the same weight we were a week ago or a few pounds more.  In my opinion, it can be life-changing to give up on this dispiriting game and go with how we feel.         

One pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories.  By burning 350 to 500 calories per day, we can lose one pound of body fat per week by exercising alone.  When we exercise, our metabolic rate increases and this stays elevated for hours helping us to burn more calories even while resting.  Strength training can help increase muscle tissue and works with aerobic activity to help burn fat faster.  Don’t worry – we don’t have to work out intensely to burn fat.  We burn fat just as well at a lower intensity working out for a longer period of time.  Personally I love to walk and hike (slowly).  I’m not a speed walker and you won’t catch me jogging up hills.  But I walk for long periods often, hike and bike.     

And remember when exercising we need to ingest even more water.  If the kidneys don’t obtain adequate water to help flush out toxins, they call on the liver.  This can tax the liver and result in its inability to break down fat, creating excess fat – now there’s something I don’t want or need.  Water also helps to hydrate the body and all chemical reactions occur in water; including the process of burning fat and staying lean.

If we haven’t already, let’s get out and get moving.  Dancing anyone?  Happy cleansing!

Feel Like Cheating?

Day 19 of The Community Cleanse, more than half-way through.  Feel like cheating?  I sure did yesterday.  I woke up dreaming of coffee and then mid-afternoon swore there was no way I was going to be able to de-stress if I didn’t have one (maybe more like four) glasses of wine.  It was by far my toughest day on The Community Cleanse.  I thought, ‘I need a drink.  If I don’t have a drink I’m going to feel miserable like this forever.  Plus who’s going to know?’  Then that tricky little voice in my head said, “You will know.  You can’t let anyone else down, but yourself.”  Of course resistance was also found in the image of all you community cleansers supporting me to stay true to my initial commitment to eliminate all six elements for twenty-eight days. 

If the stresses of life compound during the cleanse, our cravings for alcohol and sugar can become more intense.  Some of us may have the usual habit to eat sweet foods to escape the stress.  Others may seek solace in a mind-numbing alcoholic beverage.  One of the real challenges of cleansing is that we have not only committed to avoiding certain foods and substances, we have also committed to working through our “crap” without any of our normal crutches – here’s where the real cleansing begins.  We may normally hide behind a mask of alcohol, a masked coffee high, or a pound of ice cream.  Often, during a highly stressful day, my non-cleansing mantra is, “Boy, do I need a drink.”  What to do when stressed out on a cleanse?  “Boy, do I need a carrot juice,” just doesn’t seem to cut it.  Yesterday, I realized why I was having such a difficult time – there was no escape.  I couldn’t look forward to forgetting about my crappy day.  I wasn’t going to be able to escape myself.   

I will share that I ate almost half a tub of Luna and Larry’s cleanse-friendly dairy free coconut milk “ice cream” mid-afternoon yesterday.  I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I thought it would make me feel better and it did (kind of).  The intense feeling for alcohol went away and then I pouted my way through a long walk.  Another idea if you’re having “one of those days” is to eat a giant teaspoon of honey.  The sweetness quickly cures cravings for sugar (and even alcohol is sugar). 

I know we haven’t all felt like cheating and I hope you all have only good days.  But it’s possible you may fall into a similar danger zone.  You may feel like you absolutely must cheat.  DON’T!!  As the saying goes, “This too shall pass.”  And it did.  I feel much better today and of course I’m elated that I stayed true to myself and my cleanse goals.  Happy cleansing is once again happening for me today!