Yoga: It’s not all about the stretch

The second full week of Eating Clean is down and so am I –by two pounds!  Not bad since last week I somehow managed to gain three pounds. Water? Stress? Who knows.  But I wasn’t worried. I know my body and I know how LONG it takes to lose a simple pound.  Besides, this is for my health not just to lose weight (although that will help with that pesky diabetes risk).  Still, it was nice to see the scale drop for the first time in EONS.

I’ve been very good about sticking with the clean plan but I have a feeling another key piece here is getting back on the mat.

A lot of people wave off yoga as if it’s not worthy of their time.  They would rather spend that time running or at the gym.  More bang for their buck.  But what they don’t understand is that your body needs that down time.  It needs the hour-long focus you give while you stretch out on your yoga mat.  Yoga is much more than being able to touch your toes or stay in down-dog without your arms shaking like jello.  It’s about tuning in to what your body has to say.  It’s about listening to your hips, your shoulders, your neck, your back and understanding why they are tense.  It also makes you appreciate your body and all it does for you each and every day.  And by the way, yoga makes you strong. It tones your muscles by using your body weight so if you must, consider it a toning day.

But more importantly, yoga gives you focus.  You begin to pay more attention not only to how you feel, but how you treat your body in the first place.  You question what you put in it.  I haven’t met a lot of fellow yoga mat-mates that come to the 9am Saturday class hungover or who smell of cigarette smoke.  Not that there aren’t people out there that drink a lot and smoke, but after two years I haven’t met them yet.  I’m not trying to pass judgement; I’m just stating what I’ve found.  Yoga seems to keep you grounded and aware of your body–and keeping it healthy.

If you really want to take control of your body, take up yoga.  Give it a month or two (or longer) and see how you feel. I’d suggest a class rather than a tape just so you build the connection with other people and your yogi, but if you have to do a tape it’s better than nothing.  Don’t rush through the poses!  This isn’t a competitive sport!  It’s time to slow down and listen to the muscles in your body, to learn to breath again.  Just be in the moment and don’t think about everything you need to do the rest of the day or the next.  Think about how your arms feel in down-dog, how your back feels in the twist, how your feet feel as you root them into the mat.  Be there.  It’s a hard thing to master, I’ll admit, but it’s a wonderful feeling! You’ll find the hardest pose to be shavasna, or Corpse Pose, where you lie still on your mat at the end of the practice. The goal is the clear your mind completely and focus only on your breath.  Try it sometime.

I know my practice makes me more grounded and helps me make healthier food decisions.  I see my body in a less judgmental way and see what it can do rather than focus on what it looks like in the mirror.  It reminds me that I am strong but more importantly, that I am in control of how I feel.  It’s up to me to keep my body healthy by being aware of what I’m doing. No more mindless meals just to fill my stomach.  Why would I put unhealthy, processed foods into my body when it does so much for me?

[Work] Week 1 a success!

Well, the day isn’t over, but I have my cooler bag packed and dinner planned, so…

This week I’ve tried to focus mostly on the food portion of getting clean.  While I enjoyed a BRISK hike one day this week, the only other exercise has been an hour long yoga class.  I have started waking up 1/2 hour earlier than I did before and I try to get as much done the night before so I have less to think about in the morning.  It’s a work in progress.  However, most of my time is spent making sure the KIDS get a good breakfast and packing their lunch (Bethany helps).

I have been very good about eating every 2-3 hours, which is a huge help for me.  The weekend will be the true test, as that is where I have most of my “non eating” issues.  Yoga first thing Saturday morning gets me up and out the door for a 9:15 class, but I don’t generally eat before going.  Then, by the time I’m home, it’s almost time for lunch so I just wait.  I’m going to try eating something first, then a snack when I get home.  It will be a good test.  Last weekend I failed miserably 😉

Having cooked and prepped a lot on Sunday has made lunches and snacks a breeze.  Pea soup a couple of days with three bean salad or wheatberry salad, an apple and cashews or banana and peanut butter for snacks and away I went!  It is definitely worth every second on Sundays.  While I love all the meals, my favorite dish has been, by far, the Cranberry – Apple relish.  So much in fact, that I had to make a second batch last night!  I put it on my hot cereal in the morning and on my plain Greek yogurt for snack.  Add in a little of the granola that I made and the yogurt becomes the most amazing thing you’ve tasted! It took a bit to get used to the taste of honey instead of sugar, but now I really like it.  Not that I ever added a lot of sugar to my cranberry sauce; I like it tart.  I added the orange juice this time (squeezing a tangerine actually) and it’s nice.  Kevin is loving the lunch options as well!  Beth makes him a wrap when she makes hers and he grabs some chopped salad from the fridge and away he goes. He loved the Greek salad, which comes as no surprise!  Give that boy feta and black olives and he’s in his glory!

Temptations this week:

Tuesday was Jessie’s (a friend at work) birthday (yay! 25 years young!) and we celebrated with a large cookie-cake.  I skipped and didn’t mind in the least.  We have a lot of birthday celebrations at work that include cake and ice cream; I try to avoid them if possible, but as I’m not a big fan of cake, it’s usually not too hard.  Sometimes I partake but it’s rare. I was struck by another co-worker who took a piece and said “it’s really hard to diet around here!” I told him not to eat it–you don’t have to.  He shrugged and said it was just too hard not to. He had become used to eating healthy then the holidays came around. At first he felt horrible eating the “junk” food but then it was normal and now it’s hard NOT to.  It’s because of the sugar and the addiction it creates.  I think we fool ourselves into thinking we “deserve” a treat now and then, after all, we eat healthy all the time.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we deserve to eat healthy? Shouldn’t we be important enough NOT to put junk into our bodies?

Yesterday morning a co-worker brought in bagels and left them in our area like he always does.  It’s sweet!  But I packed them up and sent them to the other end of the building to remove all temptation.  Out of sight, out of mind!  A few moments later I was rewarded! Another co-worker brought in a bag of clementines! Score!!  Those I kept in plain site! I had three throughout the morning (they went quick) and felt good about my choice.  And that’s what it’s really all about.  Each choice of a fruit over a bagel.  Taking the moment to eat instead of skipping it.  Each time I make a positive change I feel better!

Late yesterday afternoon we had a sales meeting off site at a local pub.  My favorite local pub mind you.  I had a lite beer but even that didn’t taste good.  For “lunch” (at 3pm) I had a rare tuna steak sandwich and it was wonderful!  While everyone else ordered a second beer I stuck with water and later a coffee.  The lunch kept me full and I didn’t eat supper, but did have a quick snack.  I don’t know if my stomach is shrinking, or if I’m just getting used to the smaller meals spread throughout the day.  While I’ve almost always had snacks at work, I never used to eat breakfast until 9 or 10.  Sometimes a snack, then a large lunch, then a granola bar if I had one, then a large dinner.  Now I am sticking with the breakfast within 1 hour of waking and eating at 2-3 hour intervals from there.  I feel so much better and I find I’m not over eating.  I don’t mind walking away from my unfinished plate when I know I can eat in a little while anyway.   I do find that I don’t eat everything I pack in my cute new cooler bag.  The snack bag of carrots I bring each day have a tendency to stay in there.  I have to remind myself to eat and to eat more than the quickest thing I find.

My successes this week:

Eating every few hours leading to smaller meals

Making the kids breakfast each morning!

Making the kids lunches each day

Hiking and doing yoga

Taking the time to prepare food for the week

Choosing water over a second beer 😉

No chocolate, candy or “treats” at all.  And not wanting any!

Drinking 2-3 cups of green tea every day. Hardly any coffee at work (1 cup here at home)

Eating Breakfast! Yay me!

Taking the first steps to meet my goals

Things to work on:

More hiking or elliptical or treadmill.  Get more active

Log my foods more consistently

Better bedtime routine so I get a full night sleep

Who Says Eating Clean isn’t Yummy?

So far this week I’ve made:

I’ve given * (stars) out of 5 for the ones I’ve eaten so far!

From Eat-Clean Cookbook #1:

Greek Salad                              p. 234     ***  I used a bit too much feta, but good. I made this mostly  for Kevin-he loves feta!

Wheatberry Salad                      p. 102     **** Can’t wait for the flavors to blend more! Yum!

Split Pea soup                           p.  67       *****  (And Bethany loved it too…my pea soup kid!)

From Eat-Clean Cookbook #2:

French Onion Soup                    p.  82    ***  This is good but nothing special

Three bean salad                         p. 112  ****  Next time I’ll put more dressing

Italian Chicken sausage w.pep    p. 143  ****  Loved these. Like the italian sausages better than the Buffalo Chicken ones we tried.   We love sausage subs with Brats so these were a great alternative.

Pesto Stuffed Portabello pizzas   p. 172  ****** Yes, six out of five stars!  These are a staple now!

Baked Chicken Tenders               p. 225            I made a triple batch of the breading so far

Jump Start Granola                      p.   12   *****  Even Bethany said it’s delicious!  Perfect for yogurt

I focused on lunch stuff and cold veggie and bean salads so I can have a full protein & complex carb meal fast.  I can put a cup in small containers and get all my meals and snacks in easily. I also boiled a lot of eggs (she suggests 3:1  three egg whites to each yolk you eat) for snacks too.  Now all I really need to do for nightly meals is add lean protein like chicken, pork or venison.  I bought some sweet potatoes to bake too. There are still a lot of recipes that look amazing!

Happy Clean New Year!

Hi all.  Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve thought of anything worth posting, but with the new year upon us, it seemed like time.

I’ve never been conventional.  I don’t make resolutions on January 1st each year. I save those for my birthday.  But this year I want to take the opportunity to get back to where I should  be.  Back to ME by eating clean, hiking and de-stressing.  Now I know that sounds rather selfish, but it really isn’t.  Caring enough about myself to eat right, exercise, go to my beloved yoga classes and generally be aware of my life is not selfish; it’s they way life should be.  Last year I not only peaked Mount Washington, but more importantly, I lowered my sugar so I’m not longer pre-diabetic, extending time with my family by many years. Eating Clean not only helps my cholesterol levels, it teaches my children what to eat when (all too soon) they are off and cooking for themselves.

I’ve always been in awe of my girlfriend, Wendy, and the incredible meals she makes for her husband Tom despite the long hours she works.  Each one is not only mouth-watering, but a reminder that good food lets people know you love them.  And there’s no doubt that’s what she creates with every meal.  Love.  I think somewhere along the line eating (and feeding) became a matter of convenience and not a matter of nourishing your family with healthy, real food.  Thankfully not everyone lost the importance!!  But for most families it became more important to sit around the table as a family than it was to cook a good meal. You could eat KFC as long as you ate it around the table together. Hmmm.  Our family doesn’t sit at the table, but we always eat together.  We don’t wait to be around the table to discuss our day or check in on each other either.  We’re not perfect by any means, but I think we’re doing pretty well.

Last weekend I picked up the Eat Clean Cookbooks by Tosca Reno (after reading two of her Eat Clean books on my kindle) and found a ton of simple, quick recipes to try.  Did I need to buy the books? No, there are hundreds of recipes on the web.  But I’m glad I did.  Everyone knows I love books 🙂  There is something fantastic about being reminded that healthy, good foods and exercise are all you need to be healthy (without having to get connected to do it).  It’s simple, it’s something that we all know, but it’s the last thing we do when we want to lose weight and get healthy.  Instead we turn to quick fix gimmicks that are destined to let us down.  Instead of brown rice and beans with a large ration of fruits and vegetables, we drink special shakes, pop pills and eliminate one food group or another.  Funny how we forget how simple it really is.  If someone promised you a longer life, a smaller waistline, better outlook on life and unlimited energy, you’d probably jump on it. Think about the “5 hour energy” drink or the other energy drinks people guzzle by the gallon.  So why do so many people still resist the simple choice of a banana over a protein bar?  Or an apple with nut butter over a bag of chips?  When did time become more important than health?  And can we reclaim our health one meal at a time?  I sure hope so!

While I’ve gotten off track the past few months, I’m back with a vengeance!  I’ve set healthy goals and spent the last four hours in the kitchen preparing for the upcoming week.  I know it sounds like a lot of time, but I enjoy it so I don’t mind. Besides, if I wasn’t doing that I’d probably just be watching TV. There’s something to be said for spending 4 hours creating food to keep you healthy.  It makes you excited about eating right!  Right now though, I’m focused.  I have 17 recipes to make for the week (I’ve gotten to 9 today).  While I was chopping, dicing, mixing and creating, I’ll be  honest–I wondered how long it would last.  How long will I dedicate 2-4 hours each weekend to cooking and preparing for the week to come?  I’m not sure.  Like anything worth having, it will take patience and I will probably skip a week here an there (and curse myself come Wednesday when I have nothing to eat).  So, to spend time preparing for the week is one of my goals for the coming year.

My two biggest obstacles with eating healthy are eating slowly and eating often.  I’m terrible, especially on the weekends.  I don’t eat anything until well after noon.  I eat much too quickly at all my meals.  These are small goals, two small steps towards my ultimate goal of being healthy. No more insulin jumps due to a confused pancreas.  No more gulping down my meals so quickly I don’t even get a chance to enjoy the flavors.  After spending so much time creating the food, it’s a shame to not truly enjoy it.

My goal for 2012:   Be the best person I can be!

Some steps towards that goal:

Backpack with the family overnight and peak at least two 4000 footers.

Return to yoga so I can get my focus back–and be able to touch my toes without pain again!

Finish the Wilmot Black Fly 5k with a better time than last year (it’s in May and it won’t be too hard to beat! I sucked last year…much like the black flies)

Run the trails behind my house each morning

Be an inspiration to others

I don’t plan on preaching in this blog.  I plan on sharing my favorite recipes, ideas, struggles and anything else along the way.  You don’t have to read them, but if you are interested in nourishing your body and soul, I’d love to have you around for the journey!