Monthly Archives: March 2013

3/16/13 Begin Again

Saturday. Tried all week to find some time to get an update on my cleanse into the blog but simply didn’t have time. Days flying by.

Tuesday night was the end of my cleanse. Wednesday morning my “official” (meaning I used the same scale in my kitchen as I did on the Wednesday morning after my cleanse start) down 16 pounds in 28 days. Not bad. Most of the weight came off in the beginning and toward the end it was a slow trickle but as long as it was trickling in the right direction I didn’t care.

To be honest, this cleanse was supposed to be about detoxifying. And I guess in a way it was. I felt out of control when I started. I was at an all time high. I didn’t see any real way of changing that. I couldn’t stop my cravings. If I can add another item to my list of things I believe in [right up there with “without struggle there is no growth”] I will have to say it would be “Biology will win every time.” I don’t care how strong-willed you are, an instinct or a craving will eventually win. You can fight it for a while, but resistance is futile. If you have a chemical, hormonal or even emotional craving you will buckle. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will happen if you don’t kill the craving. I do believe you can squash cravings. The only way to beat them is to not let them appear in the first place or suffer enough through it and cleanse your way out of them. There are foods that create triggers in certain people that make it impossible for them to resist.

I have a good friend who is has been a size six her entire life. She has a crazy fast metabolism and lives on boxes of Girl Scout cookies. She buys a year’s supply and keeps them in her freezer. (Though I think they have so many preservatives they have a shelf life of a decade or so). She does eat regular food on occasion too, but often she is so full from eating her three sleeves of thin mints that she can’t get through a full meal. She craves the chocolate and sugar. But she is also in her sixties now and although I would call her far from healthy, she looks good on the outside, no weight problem — no muscle tone either but nobody bothers her about her sugar addiction because she burns it off. She is the only person I know who can do this. The rest of us who give into sugar cravings just get fat. The bitter irony is satisfying cravings begets more cravings.

Tuesday night I finished my cleanse. I was feeling really good. Convinced that I would never, ever, ever fall prey to my carbohydrate monster. My mantra had become “I am Spinach and Kale and Spinach and Kale are me. We are one and the same.” Wednesday I took my niece out to the theater in Hartford. The Hartford Stage is my kind of theater, they let you bring a glass of wine in with you to the show. I hesitated for a second and reminded myself “if you are going to have a glass of wine it is going to be a good one, not theater rot gut.” My niece came back with her rum and coke and handed me a bottle of water “I don’t know if you are still cleansing so I brought you this.” I felt smug and secure. “I am water and water is me.” Om shanti Om.

After the show (we saw Mikael Baryshnikov act in Chekov’s “The Man in the Case” well done performance) we went out to dinner at Max Downtown. My treat, her birthday, beautiful upscale restaurant. Everyone in the place was dressed up, the linens were on the tables, the service was wonderful and the next thing I know I’m ordering a glass of a Meritage Max Family “Cuvee” Hartford Artist Series. Oh of course I had to try it. And yes it was delicious and yes I had two glasses. And to top that off I ate the dinner roll they put in front of me before my brain could even grasp what was happening. No it was not gluten-free. Yes it was delicious. I ordered a vegetable plate (I just order a bunch of side veggies and it usually comes out better than anything else on the menu) but somehow while I’m ordering the words “I think I’ll try the truffled tater tots too.” I looked around to see who said that but it was too late. The order was placed and the tots were on the way. I did take a moment to observe my incredible ability to ignore the obvious. I checked in with myself “you do know what you are doing, right?” And the little voice responded “shut up and get out of my way.”

We had a lovely dinner. I enjoyed every tot and two glasses of the Meritage and the dinner roll. I was so stuffed I could barely get the veggies in. I came home and of course felt defeated. There you are. You’ve totally blown it all that hard work and in one moment of weakness it’s all out the window. I didn’t think I could undo what obvious harm I had done to my perfectly detoxed body. One of the lines from my class popped into my head “Guilt is one of the worst toxins we can ingest.” My other little voice chimed in “shut up, I was bad and I know it.”

Thursday morning I woke up prepared to fall prey to cravings and find myself assaulting a Dunkin’ donuts or the like. To my surprise, I found myself grabbing my protein powder, blueberries, spinach, almonds, spirulina and cocoa powder. I made my regular smoothie and was off to Spin class like nothing had happened. Friday too, no problem, had my shopping list, bought my groceries, went for a run and had a lot of energy. This morning the same. No cravings. No backlash from the totter incident. I feel like I dodged a bullet. All is not lost but if I did that two nights in a row, if I didn’t get back on track quickly with my next meal I think I would be down the slippery slope in no time.

This morning as I meditated I tried to speak to my inner voice with kindness and love by reminding myself to “Begin Again. Start each day with beginner mind.” To which it replied “yeah, I’m still here, don’t get cocky.”

Namaste

BTW, I’ve been doing the Deepak/Oprah 21 day meditation challenge and this one is a good one. It is about Perfect Health (which I think is fitting.) So far I am on day 6 and I like it. (Wasn’t thrilled with his last one but this one I think is good.) It’s my favorite price (free). Here is the link https://www.chopracentermeditation.com/Bestsellers/LandingPage.aspx?BookId=178

They keep it free for a about two weeks afterward so you don’t have to worry about starting late.

And just in case you haven’t had enough pictures of Higgins on facebook, this one I posted there but it’s my favorite so far. He’s just so happy. He is such a good dog. He’s a handful but he responds well to training. (Hmmm sounds like someone else I know…)

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3/9/13 Winding Down

[Note:  A bunch of us are doing this 5K in July.  Sounds like fun.  It is in NJ.  If you want to sign up and join our team it is “Team Rumble”  8 a.m.  captain is “carpenter” and don’t try to use your AMEX card.  http://www.colormerad.com/race.i?raceid=117&t=NYC/NJ_MetLife]

Saturday. Snuck an extra day in CT to take advantage of probably the last big snow storm of the season. Higgins and I made a nice day of it romping around in the woods. It’s more fun now because I trust him when we are alone in our woods to take him off leash. He comes when he is called.  We practice our emergency recall everyday and he always comes. He never runs out of sight. He stops every so often (and might sit down) to wait for me to catch up. I have to say I am really looking forward to when I can run the same trails in sneakers and not snow shoes.

According to all the dog owners in Central Park it will take another year for Higgins to obey his same commands while off leash in NYC early mornings.  I don’t really let him off leash yet.  But he was playing with some small dogs and I thought it seemed okay so I dropped the leash to let him play.  Next thing I knew  Higgins was running at high-speed with two big dogs around the baseball field.  He was too far away and too fast for me to ever catch him. I was worried that he was going to run up onto the loop so I pulled out our secret recall command “Higgins Pronto!”  I can’t tell you how proud I was when Higgins stopped dead in his tracks.  Looked at me all the way across the baseball field and ran like a lightening bolt right to my feet.  Several comments from the other dog owners about how impressive that was.  I simply replied “We practice it three times a day.”  As I walked away I discreetly wiped a little sweat from my brow.  I was really nervous and picked up his leash.  But I was so proud and secretly surprised that it actually worked.  But for now, I think leash is just fine…

I’m winding up my fourth week of my cleanse on the CLEAN Progam at the yoga studio in CT. I only have four more days left. I haven’t lost any more weight since last week so I stay at 12 1/2 pounds down in just shy of 4 weeks.  I’m okay with that because I’m proud of myself for sticking to the cleanse — I did not deviate or “cheat” once. To be honest, after the first week I really didn’t have any cravings. My fatigue is gone. I’m not super energized yet like they said I would be, but I’m not feeling weak anymore.  I just feel normal but peaceful if that makes any sense.  I plowed through my spin classes this week and Thursday was super hard. I swear if Christine (our spin instructor) could make us wear lead pants while jumping she would do it.  I’m actually getting good in spin class.  I can actually stand up straight and run on the pedals without holding on.  I could never do that before even when I was in better shape.  When we do our standing break away sprints I always pretend I am chasing an old teammate up Harlem Hill.  I would never even catch his dust in real life, but in Spin Class, I beat him pretty regularly.

Of course now that I’m winding down I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I think the answer is to just keep going. There is nothing about the way I’m eating that I would feel a need to change. I have never cooked so much in my life and my meals have been really good. I’m a morning smoothie convert. It’s just so much easier. I listened to a couple of Dr. Junger’s podcasts and one line he said really stuck with me. I paraphrase but he said something like “the bottom line is most people who are successful on a whole foods diet learn to love to cook.” And for me (who really doesn’t love to cook for just herself) I think that has been one of my challenges.  It’s not that I don’t like to cook as much as I hate to clean.  But I’ve been making an effort and I’ve made a couple of different recipes and finding lots of shortcuts to get them done quicker without so much muss and fuss. Granted I ate brown/rice lentil burgers  (super easy to make)  with Kale chips for lunch for three days in a row but I happen to like them.

I’ve decided what makes all the difference in the world in cooking is learning to use spices. I’m your basic ground pepper, red pepper, cayenne and paprika (get it?) and an occasional “ooh let’s use Rosemary” kind of cook. I think a lot of people might find my cooking on the safe side. I actually like spicy foods but I don’t go out of my way to seek out the different spices required for good cooking. I just bought my first jar of mustard seeds. But now I’m starting branch out with different kinds of sea salt (I have a smoked sea salt and a black truffle sea salt). I’m using different kinds of miso (I didn’t even know there were different kinds of miso.) I bought a Vitamix for CT even though I have one in NYC. I’ve used it every single day.

I’m throwing out less food. If I have a bit of left over greens, I throw them into my smoothie or pop it in with some other stuff for roasting.  I buy enough for my recipes and I’m learning to freeze my left over soups. (Okay one minor explosion in the freezer and I still don’t know how that happened.)

Despite all this talk about cooking, I still feel like I’m not cooking so much. (Though I do feel like I’m shopping a lot). I basically make my smoothie in the morning and then I make both my lunch meal and dinner soup at the same time. Most of the time I have leftovers so I have lunch for the next day. The biggest change I have seen in the last four weeks is I am nowhere near as hungry as I used to be. I actually find that quite shocking. I can often go easily from 7 a.m. smoothie to noon or 1 p.m. lunch now, which I never could before. (Though I do sometimes have a snack after spin class). And, once this week I was hungry at 11:30 so I just ate lunch then. Afternoons seem fine sometimes a snack and sometimes no.  I have my soup around 6 p.m. Oh that’s the other thing I am surprised about. A cup of soup satisfies me for dinner. Who knew? Of course I make hearty soups from roasted veggies and sometimes beans. But nonetheless one bowl of a good soup for dinner and I’m okay all the way until 7 a.m. the next morning. I find this so unlike me it is almost unbelievable. (Particularly without accompanying it with a loaf of bread.)

I feel a comfort in my boundaries. I have a list of foods okay to eat (and I like them all). I have a list of foods not to eat. It’s almost easier for me to just not eat them than to so say “okay today I’ll have a baked potato.” (Oh, and by the by who knew Turnips were so fabulous? I like them better than potatoes!) Yams are just as good as sweet potatoes. But the big difference is when I finish my bowl of turnips I don’t feel a need to eat any more. When I eat potatoes I want more potatoes. (Now, I don’t know if that is still true, now that I am “cleansed” I will have to test potatoes to see if they are a trigger food.)

Testing. Yeah, that’s the next step. I have to say I’m a little nervous about it. Now I’m all snuggled in my safe little cocoon with my include foods and exclude foods are out there. Next step according to Dr. Junger is to start to introduce those foods again and see which ones are my triggers. I can sit here right now and tell you that if I start with one slice of Ezekiel bread with earth balance tomorrow morning. I will be eating Ezekiel bread with earth balance for lunch and dinner by Thursday. I’m not confident that I’m strong enough yet to give that a try. Maybe I need some more time. Potatoes I think okay. Bread (even the good kind), not so sure.  Steamed veggie dumplings?  Ehhh, I think I am going to have to wait awhile before I try those.

Coffee and wine are two more items that I struggle with. I don’t even think about them right now. Wine, as much as I do love my red wine, isn’t such a problem because I can just call a moratorium on wine pretty easily and just say no. But coffee, I go through physical withdrawl when I quit coffee (yeah I know that should tell me something right there.) I don’t know if I should ever start that up again. Although funny aside, I have had no cravings for the last couple of weeks until I walked by a steaming pot of hot coffee at the gourmet market. It almost brought me to my knees. Now when I go into that market I have to totally avoid that section of the store. Okay now that I say all that I realize resistance might be futile but we’ll give it a few more weeks.  If I have coffee it won’t be the end of the world.

So all in all I would say good, good, good. My mind feels clear and bright. My mood is good. My cravings long gone. No major hunger. Energy starting to be restored. I definitely feel cleansed. Now the trick is going to be what the heck to do with it? How do I keep going with this way of life and eating that obviously makes me happier and healthier.

Namaste

So I want to share this great recipe that I’ve made twice. The dressing is now a staple. Miso and Tahini? Who is that talking? But trust me it is awesome. If nothing else, make this salad dressing. It’s like a caesar dressing but with pow. Also the shiitake “bacon” (it tastes nothing like bacon, it tastes like crispy fried shiitake mushrooms) is awesome. I want to cut back on the frying stuff. But for a special occasion those are quite tasty!!

This recipe comes from Jenny Manley who has a great blog and website http://crumbsonmylaptop.com/ She was the guest chef with our CLEAN program group. My notes are in brackets after her.

Miso Hungry Salad

for the salad:
1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed, spun & chopped (tip: chopping lettuce is so much easier when you slice once or twice from the root to the tip of the lettuce head, then turn horizontally and chop until you reach the root)
1 cup cooked or 1/2 can garbanzo or black beans, washed and drained (I use Eden organic brand when using canned beans because Eden doesn’t line their cans with Bisphenol-A, a known carcinogen)
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 small cucumber, deseeded and diced (the seeds make the salad mushy)

for the dressing:
1 heaping tablespoon of the following:
brown rice miso (I use South River Miso = so freaking delicious you could eat it out of the jar & it contains probiotics that will fill your body with healthy bacteria) [I found this at my local health food store and it is amazing. The same brand makes other flavors and I’m looking forward to trying them all.]
apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar)
tahini (I use Once Again organic tahini)
2 tsp Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning (or you can use a blend of sea salt, shallots, chives, garlic, onion & green peppercorns. Exactly, just buy the Penzey’s already) [NOTE: I did not buy Penzey’s. I bought bottles of each ingredient and mixed in my little blender. I chopped in my own shallots, no big deal.]
splash of water
3 T extra virgin olive oil

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except oil. Using a whisk, slowly stream in oil and mix until emulsified. Dressing should be thick, like a caesar or blue cheese dressing, but without any of the nasty dead fish or moldy cheese. Pour dressing over salad ingredients, toss, and serve to one or two ticketless unicorns.

for the shiitake bacon:

***this is an optional topping, but it will blow your mind and the minds of others. It tastes like bacon, but it’s actually just a healthy mushroom…and a perfect example of “it’s too good to be true”*** [NOTE: It tastes nothing like bacon. Why even say that? It tastes like mushrooms.]

3 cups or 1 package shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced

1 T extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

In a large saute pan (do not use nonstick for this recipe…in fact, stop using nonstick and go buy yourself some kick ass all-clad stainless steel saute pans and a cast iron pan too), heat the oil over a high flame. Add mushrooms, but do not crowd (depending on the size of your pan, you might have to make this in two batches), and allow to cook, untouched (put down the wooden spoon!), for a few minutes until brown and crispy (your pan should be hot, smoking & sizzling…don’t get nervous). Flip the mushrooms over with a cock of your wrist or the use of your spoon, sprinkle with sea salt, and continue to cook until shrooms are crispy and dark brown. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a few pieces of paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve as a topping for the Miso Hungry Salad (or just eat them off the towel and tell the unicorn that you overcooked them…)

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3/3/13 On a Plan

Sunday.   Today would have been my mother’s 93 birthday.   Feels strange not to call her. One year when my Mom was in her seventies and I called her while she was down in Florida.  She was heading out to play golf.  I remember saying to her “try to beat your age in your score on the first 9.”  She laughed and said if she couldn’t do that she was hanging up her golf clubs.  My mom was in her mid sixties when she took up golf.  Reminds me that it is never too late to start anything.

I have finished 2 1/2 weeks of my cleanse (one prep week and one and a half weeks of actual cleanse).  I will say a couple of things.  I have no complaints about this cleanse.  It is easy to do.  I am not hungry.  I get his philosophy.  I’m dropping a lot of weight.  I’m down about 12 1/2 pounds in 2 1/2 weeks which is crazy.  And I’m not even counting the water weight I lost right away.  (I’m going from my last weigh in the doctor’s office so he is going to be happy when I show up down possibly 15 pounds or more in a two weeks).  I strategically arranged for my blood tests and ultrasound to be taken right after the cleanse and my doctor’s appointment the following week.  I want to him to be blown away by my good blood tests.

I am eating.  I never feel hungry.  I am following all the rules. I’m taking my supplements (I added Vitamin D in this week after listening to an audio program from Dr. Jungar and I am willing to try).

The one thing I will say, however, is I am not very strong.  Last Monday I played tennis for the first time in about 8 months or so.  It was pathetic.  Not about hitting the ball, I just had no endurance.   I would hit five or six balls and then feel like I needed a breather.  It was weird.  It’s a different feeling than I have ever felt before.  It is not anemia (which I know oh so very well).  When I’m anemic I want to go into a coma and just never wake up.  I can’t concentrate and I can’t focus.  This is different — it is weakness.  My mind is alert and ready to go.  Ask me to read a book, write a computer program — no problem.  Ask me to walk up the stairs — eh, not so sure I can do that.  Yet I am consuming calories.

It’s hard to explain but I feel like my body is doing the work it is supposed to be doing.  It’s getting rid of all the bad crap in my body.  Everything in my body is working on cleaning out the old and loving the new.  I’m a believer in following your instinct and my instinct is telling me this is okay.   I can do another week.

My coach cut all my workouts down to very small ones.  I did do my private pilates class twice last week (alas end of twice weekly classes as they are just too expensive) but I will keep going once a week for now.  I did go to spin class twice last week.  I really felt the lack of vim in class.  It’s really hard spin class and I’m usually so proud of myself for doing 95% of it.  I only went to core class once.   Instead of snowshoeing briskly for 1:45 in the afternoons with Higgins, we are doing a slooow 45 minutes.  I stop every twenty feet and take a breather.

I signed up for some one-on-one trainer sessions at my gym that will start next Thursday.  We are going to fix my shoulder once and for all.  My left should has never been as strong as my right since my bike accident in ’07.  I don’t think about it because I usually have zero pain.  I have learned to let my right shoulder take the brunt of the work, but in my pilates sessions it has become really apparent how weak my left shoulder is.  It can’t do anything on its own. I think it is one of the reasons that my swimming times slipped so dramatically since ’07 and on.  One of the trainers at my CT health club worked with me for a bit with some exercises to see exactly what is wrong. He thinks it’s a lot of scar tissue and just general tightness (as well as muscle weakness).  So we are going to do some training sessions to work on strengthening my shoulders, back and core so I can run with a backpack again.  I think that with the pilates and some sun salutations I will get my shoulders more evenly aligned and strong.

So one more week on the cleanse.  After the cleanse I will probably do my best to stay on the general eating plan to continue to lose weight.  I have a big training camp in the Grand Tetons in June and I really want to be able to show up ready to work.  So my focus right now is on getting stronger, leaner and get ready for this uber camp.  I’m excited about it.  Here is what we will be doing (note the “up to” in the description) Many of the participants will be training for Badwater which is in July.  My workouts will be modified for my race which is much later in the year.  (I am doing the Grand to Grand Ultra in September http://www.g2gultra.com/ )  But here is the schedule of what we will be doing:

Day 1: arrive  by 3 pm. MST. Meet for dinner at 6 pm. Night run up to 2 hours with headlamps starting at 9 pm.  (I haven’t run at night since Marathon des Sables in 2009, that should be a hoot.)

Day 2: Up to 30 miles of steep hill training on the Teton Pass. We will start at 6,000 feet and climb to 10,000 feet doing repeats. Crew will be available to carry your supplies. In the evening we will do hot yoga  (When I trained for MDS, I ran up and over the Teton Pass, it was HIGH!  Actually I walked up and ran down if I recall…)

Day 3: Up to 30 miles again but this time going from Teton Canyon uphill for 8 miles. We will be doing  repeats. Crew will be available to carry your supplies. In the evening we will  do yoga and functional core exercises for runners.

Day 4:  Up to 25 miles on the “Old Pass Road” from Jackson Hole Wyoming. In the evening yoga

Day 5:  Run the Jackson Hole Half Marathon and after the race go White Water rafting!

Day 6:  Early morning up and down the Teton Pass for a total of 15 miles and then depart to airport.

Sounds fun doesn’t it??

All in all, I’m feeling focused and I feel like this cleanse is helping me in many ways.  Much more work to do but a little effort every day in the right direction and I’ll get there.  Or not.  It doesn’t really matter as long as I try.

Namaste

Here are some pics from 2009 training in the winter in the Tetons.  Hopefully snow will be gone by June!

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