Not.  Just put the chocolate milk down and step away slowly….

What IS our obsession with dairy products??  Ok, well, maybe it’s MY obsession with them but sadly, my love affair has come to an abrupt end.  How will the dairy companies survive without me??  (*sob… I miss you yogurt).

My love of all things dairy started as a child and kraft cheese slices.  I’m not entirely sure that these are actually cheese, but, they were yummy and I would eat them one after another.  When I was little we were unaware of the sad things that companies were doing to manufacture their foods so therefore, we were blissfully unaware of the dangers of bologna (!!) and Lucky Charms (omg!!) and if we didn’t have butter with every mean (and lots of it) then, surely there was cream of mushroom soup (on something).

As I got older, I started researching all things nutrition and became an advocate for my own health.  One of the foods that I’ve always felt safe eating is:  Dairy.  And dairy may be a healthy option for a lot of people… but it isn’t for me or my family and I’ll tell you how I figured this out.

Recently, I’d been noticing that on my neck and jaw line I was getting cystic acne.  Painful (painful!) cystic acne that would cover one 1/2 of my neck, close to my jaw line.  It was impossible to cover with make up or treat.  After trying all kinds of acne treatments, mostly all natural as I don’t care much for prescriptions, I was at a loss and went to the dermatologist.  The dermatologist gave me a prescription and sent me on my way.  She, in fact, gave me 2 prescriptions because she felt that maybe my hormones were out of whack and needed some help.  The trouble with that is the prescription she gave me could cause kidney failure.  Nice.  Cystic acne OR kidney failure…. trust me as obvious as that answer should be… kidney failure wasn’t looking like such a big risk.  I decided that as tempting as it was to rid myself of this problem with one pill I would take a couple of weeks to research cystic acne and another solution before taking any internal meds.

I’d begun to notice a correlation between the dairy I was eating (large amounts of organic yogurt) and acne.  I should mention here that I tend to find a food I like and then eat LOADS of it… ok, live off of it, but, yogurt is healthy right??  Ummm… that is debatable.

I decided to cut all dairy out of my diet while I was still researching and noticed that my acne cleared up almost immediately.  It was such a noticeable improvement that I felt there had to be something to it.  I found an article about dairy and cystic acne that suggested the hormones in dairy products could cause issues in our own bodies.  Funnily, I had thought by avoiding dairy products that were not organic, substituting goat cheese for a few cheeses, and avoiding dairy products that contained rBGH that I would not be at risk for some of the side affects associated with these.  However, the article, I read made an excellent point and that is… that ALL animals contain hormones.  So whether you are eating sheep, goat, or cow, you are still ingesting hormones (organic or otherwise).  It also touched on the fact that humans are the only animals that continue to drink milk after infancy (my adult cat would like to add that he rejects this comment vehemently).

I still do, occasionally, have dairy, although I try very hard to avoid it. Another symptom of dairy that I could find (or maybe this was too much dairy) is inflammation.  Dairy can also make the body ‘acidic’ which I am learning more about.  My own body happens to be soooo acidic that I have the magical ability to turn white gold… yellow.  Therefore, I can wear nothing but platinum.  Feel free to use this excuse yourself 😉 lol

So, if you are experiencing acne or hormonal issues, even inflammation of the joints…. of course, check with your doctor first (always check with your doctor) but you might want to consider removing dairy products from your diet if your only other option is a drug that might cause kidney failure (or other unpredictable symptom).

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor of any kind (not spin, witch, or of the “Who” variety) 😉

Autumn… Epic FAIL

09/21/2011

Or a fail of epic proportions… So, I stated that I was going to be giving up sugar for one week starting a few days ago.  I have this fantastic detox plan that I was going to do and share with all of you in case you wanted to participate.  However, pretty much as soon as I published the blog post stating that I was giving up sugar… I went to have 1/2 a cookie… I then went back to eat a few more 1/2 cookies.  Even as I sit here, right this very minute, my fingers are sticky with these delicious “organic energy chews” called ‘Honey Stingers’ in fruit punch flavor.  Excuse me while I grab yet another (now I’m squeezing the package to make sure it’s actually empty… sad).  It’s nearly 6 p.m. so the very last thing that I need right now is energy.

Normally, when I begin to remove sugar from my diet I will look on the package for the “Nutritional Facts” and scan down until I find “Sugars”.  I will limit the amount of sugar (that I will consume) to any one item to 5 or less grams.  Would you like to know how many grams of sugar are in these honey chews?  27!  OMG.  If I’d known that I would have had them for breakfast too… I could have really used some energy this morning.

So, sugar….honeybear, sweet cheeks, gumdrop… I think I shall abstain from using these words and stick with names like:  Beef jerky or maybe Protein shake or Filet Mignon (that sort of sounds like “filet of my own” if you slur the words a little).  Sadly, images of the Marlboro man come to mind… he was certainly a bit ‘beef jerky’.

As I’ve completely blown my low / no sugar quest so far this week, I’m going to…. (I so badly want to say, QUIT) but I don’t like to quit anything and love a good challenge.  I had no idea sugar would be such a worthy opponent 😉  Tomorrow I will try again (and tonight I’m going to eat a 5lb bag of sugar) 🙂

If you are struggling with this too, I can tell you what I have been told.  1) That quitting sugar has been likened to quitting heroin (I’ve never tried any other drug… besides sugar so I can’t verify this), 2) that if you can stop or lower your sugar intake considerably for 1 week then your cravings will diminish significantly and 3) I’m sick and tired of everything that I love to eat being bad for me. (Yes, I’m pouting)

I think I will tape together this detox form I had been working towards (I’d, in a fury, cut it up into the tiniest pieces ever  – think ‘Edward Scissorhands’)… that should give me something to do with all this “energy” that I now have.  And, then, I will stomp off to the kitchen to find something… omg… dare I say it…. green.  Gummy bears come in green don’t they?? 😉

Autumn…

09/18/2011

Autumn is a great time for cleaning.  People generally think of spring as the best time for “spring cleaning” but fall can be a great time too.  Except that it isn’t called “spring cleaning” and “fall cleaning” sounds like some sort of dangerous reality show.  When fall comes around, it’s like we can finally slow down a little. The days shorten, the weather becomes cooler, we get a sense that nature is going to sleep and that can help us to find some peace and relaxation in ourselves too.  However, most people, live in a world, where their lives aren’t going to suddenly become less stressful just because it’s a new season even though the changing of seasons does affect us mentally, emotionally, maybe physically our lives don’t really allow for any of that.  Jobs don’t become any less demanding, schedules don’t become suddenly full of free time, and our anxiety over what needs to be done doesn’t diminish much either.

Autumn has become a great time to give myself permission not to care about everything as much as usual… permission to get up and walk away from things without having the guilt I might normally associate with it.  During this time, it’s also the time I reevaluate my life.  I have a harder look at those elements in my life that might be causing me stress or unnecessary concern.  For me those things are, my diet, relationships, how I’m managing my time, and exercise.  I tend to live inside my head… constantly thinking about this or that.  I believe the technical name for it is:  Ruminating.  I ruminate.  So, to distract myself from ruminating, at least for the next month or so, I’ve decided to completely change my diet.  I’ve noticed that I am living a bit on carbs and protein bars (ones that contain chocolate, of course).  I’m not overweight, but, I’m not exactly feeling great either.

Eating a cleaner diet of veggies, water, unprocessed foods, only low, natural sugars is when I feel and look my best.  So, I’ve decided for this first week to eliminate:  SUGAR.  I LOVE sugar and have even noticed myself sort of sneaking it without being completely aware.  I seem to find things that contain sugar that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered ‘sugary’ (like ketchup).  I tend to use stevia and that works well for me, but, I’m still craving sugar.  There are some tricks for this.  We did this challenge last fall so I know that I, personally, have all the tips I need to avoid sugar and I have loads of knowledge on how horrible it is for the body.  However, this does not stop me… in fact, it doesn’t even slow me down when I want something sweet.

We’ve all heard about the “emotional” eater and other reasons why we might overeat.  Honestly, after hearing from a friend that visited I think we are just bombarded with an overabundance of overabundance which causes overindulgence.  It’s my excuse today in any case 🙂  I also came across this article which suggests that we have a section in our brain that you need to exercise to have better self-control.  It also mentions that by continuing to surround yourself with temptations can cause mental exhaustion.  I can relate to this.  If you’ve ever spent a certain amount of time trying not to eat a certain food(s), had an alcoholic drink, smoked a cigarette… whatever your ‘temptation’ might be, then you know just how exhausted this can leave you.

So, let’s start the process of cleaning up our diet by eliminating one thing.  Maybe sugar isn’t your “thing” and you’d prefer to eliminate bread, cheese, alcohol, etc then go ahead and chose that one thing that you feel is most important to you right now.  That one thing that will with your footing while we spend a month cleaning up our diets (we can tackle the basement another day) 😉

If you chose to do the ‘No Sugar’ challenge with me this week, then you might find this article in WikiHow on how to Stop Sweet Cravings.  If you chose to do something else… let us know how it goes for you 🙂  And, good luck!

 

The Diet

02/06/2011

Every year, people make ‘losing weight’ a New Year’s resolution.  As a rule, I’ve never made this my particular goal as the last thing I want to think about after spending 2 months with my face buried in a trough is now trying to lose some of that food I so happily gorged on. This year was a bit different.

I’ve never had any trouble losing weight and gained it fairly slowly.  But, after starting a new job that I love (and won’t give up no matter how much weight I gain) I realized that “sitting” didn’t really burn that many calories.  So, I bought a new bodybugg to measure my calories.  And, let me tell you… sitting at a computer… burns about as much as sleeping.  No wonder I’d put on 20 or so pounds!

So, I bought a balance ball to sit on while I work…. with the “chair”.  Extra calories burned… zip, zero, nada.  Although, it is fun to bounce on it while I work; however, the rate of deflation is annoying, although, technically pumping it back up does burn a number of calories.

I’ve worked out my entire life.  I was on the track team and actually skipped classes in college so I could work out (neurotic?? me??).  I lived on a rigid diet of absolutely no fat and suffered from painful stomach-aches and ulcers.

So, now, who needs all of that?  Fat is delicious and I couldn’t live my life without Nutella and chocolate.  But, what I could live without, is feeling sluggish and slow.  Feeling depressed over my clothes not fitting the way they should (I can only blame the dryer so many times and it’s even harder when I haven’t dried them… damn air!! *shakes fist at sky).

What am I saying?  Well, I’m in the same boat with a lot of people.  How am I going to lose this weight?  I started going to the gym.  And, yes, I did lose some weight eating at a big calorie deficit, but, still it’s depressing when you know you’ve got weight to lose and it’s not coming off as fast as we visually need it or want it to.

The scale becomes a god that determines how we will feel about ourselves.  And, we happily bow down to it and then slink off when it accusingly tells us that 1) we haven’t lost enough weight or 2) we aren’t losing fast enough or 3) (my most favorite)… we’ve actually gained weight (*lightning strikes).

Gaining the weight was a journey… quite a fun one I might add.  It gets old always saying “I’ll take the healthy option” when we are surrounded on every side by delicious and enticing fattening foods.  We want to make choices for ourselves, we are, after all, grown ups who work hard and deserve it!  But, all of that “entitlement” isn’t doing too much for our bodies.

So, although, this is a ‘weekly’ challenge blog (one that’s been on a bit of vacation) I’m suggesting, if you are trying to lose weight, then think of this as a lifetime change.  A daily (maybe hourly) challenge.

Where do we start?  Well, the basic formula is still true:  Eat Less Move More.  You can always walk a few more trudging steps to burn a couple more calories, but, if you watch what you are eating first… you will eventually have control.  Sounds so easy doesn’t it? (As I sit here with a spoonful of Nutella).  Well, it’s not.  And, what is that saying, “Nothing worthwhile is easy”.  Well, picking flowers is easy and definitely worthwhile!  Okay, and picking flowers can burn calories too!  Win. Win.

There are some sites where you can effectively manage your calorie consumption and burn.  Two of my favorite sites (because the bodybugg is seriously lacking) are:

I know you all have sites that you like to use or recommend and I hope you will leave them in the comments so that our little community of people will be able to choose the one that is right for them.

Now that my life has resumed a bit of normalcy… I’ll resume writing our weekly challenges.  Sometimes finding inspiration can be a struggle… and that is my own personal challenge 🙂

Nice to see all of you again xox

Day 2: No Sugar

11/02/2010

Saying that I had “no sugar” is hardly the truth.  The rice milk I drink that is unsweetened has 14 grams of sugar per 8 oz!!  And, it didn’t even taste good!

So far today, I haven’t eaten any candy or refined sugars … although I did lick the outside of some candy wrappers.  Not quite the same.  I also scarfed down some Goji berries… they’d be better covered in chocolate.  Sigh.

I was teaching this morning and it’s a hard class.  It’s a Power Yoga class… but, someone who had previously complained to me that the class was too difficult for them had come in and I panicked a little.  Why?  because I’m a ‘people pleaser’.  Which I think has led to my over-consumption of sugar (seriously!).  I changed the entire class… for one person… and left the others in the class feeling like they could have used more.  More of what?  more yoga, more sweating, more…?  I left the studio feeling a bit off but not really realizing why and it’s because I hadn’t made a strong decision.  I was letting other people make those decisions for me.  Which to me feels the same way when I eat a whole bunch of candy or sweets… that I’m not doing what is the very best thing for me.

So, no sugar today… and no sugar tomorrow.  And, next week… it’s a Power Yoga class… if you show up… prepare to use your ujjayi breathing 🙂  And, it’s okay, you can give me dirty looks… since I’ll have been off sugar for a week I won’t be feeling 1/2 as sweet as I normally do 🙂

First day with no sugar. Not so bad for the first 2 hours that I was awake… and then, a bit of stress set in and then the cravings for sugar. I am basically a sugar addict, I’ve decided. I may need to go to rehab. I’ve gone without sugar before, so I know I can do it… but, in lieu of this Reiki training where I can have no alcohol, meat or caffeine… and then my food allergies (dairy and gluten)… I’m starting to feel a bit panicked when my stomach rumbles. I ate 2 little containers of the most horrid food on the planet: bbq tofu… the name makes me want to throw up.

I was starting to stress out so much today that I felt like I needed a giant hug and a shoulder to cry on… sob on….. and possibly blow my nose on (where did everyone go??).

Sadly, I did eat sugar… I noticed around 2 that I really started wanting something sweet and held it off until 4 when I said, “just one”… which somehow translated into 4 little Halloween candies (all chocolate).

So, what I learned… chocolate is the best frickin’ thing on the planet…. oh, yeah, sorry… okay, what I learned is this:

  • 1. Stay hydrated, drink lots of water (I’ve had none today). I’ve nearly convinced myself I was a camel in a past life (except my spitting skills suck).
  • 2. Eat a snack as soon as you start to feel hungry. And, I’m guessing, (since I failed miserably today I can’t say for sure)… but, I’m guessing that carrots, apples, oranges… something with natural sugar in it will curb the craving.
  • 3. Throw all of the candy and sugary foods out with the trash (don’t laugh, I’ve done this many many times) 🙂
  • 4. Brushing your teeth can kill those cravings.

You know what else I learned today? That every single food (that I want to eat) has sugar in it. My soy yogurt (which is fairly weird all in on its own) has 21 grams of sugar! That’s a huge amount! Ketchup is loaded with sugar, one of my favorite, healthy, organic, all natural soups has 12 grams of sugar, our bread has sugar, crackers have sugar, pickles have sugar (and food coloring!!)…. you see my point. You don’t have to be as fanatic as I was… and I’d only been curious about the yogurt and then started analyzing everything in the pantry and fridge.

I feel icky… my teeth feel gross and my tummy is not happy. I’m hoping tomorrow I will have learned my lesson from today and make better choices.

How was your day?

So, we’ve been developing some ‘awareness’ over the past 2 weeks.  Being aware of our own behavior and making time to treat ourselves gently by walking instead of rushing and racing.  Finding appreciation in ourselves, in others around us, and in our surroundings.  Life is good 🙂  Or, it was until this week 🙂  uh oh….

Sunday, being Halloween, I felt was the very best time to start our new challenge.  Let me start by saying “YOU CAN DO THIS!!”…. okay, I’m mostly talking to myself here (as panic has set in and I’m wondering what in the hell I’m thinking!)  But, it is the very best week of the year to try this.  Well, that’s a lie… it’s actually the very worst week of the year, but that is beside the point.

Sugar.  Is a poison.  Yikes, sadly, this is true.

In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! ~healingdaily.com

My worst fear here is that I am setting myself (and possibly you) up for failure.  With all the sugary temptations from Halloween, surely, there are thousands of other challenges we could do instead… but…. for some reason, after Halloween I just feel gross.  My body feels ill from the additional candy and sugar I’ve consumed and it sets me up for an entire holiday season of craving sugar.  So… failure or not, I’m making the commitment to myself to avoid sugar as much as possible.

What I personally recommend instead of sugar is stevia or xylitol… both natural sweeteners.  The problem (I’ve been told) with sugarless gums, sodas, etc. is that our bodies don’t really know what in the world we’ve just put in them.  They can’t recognize what the chemical is and it creating lots of problems especially in the stomach and intestines (cancers, ulcers, food intolerance, Chrohn’s, etc).  So, do without sugar and without the chemicals too.  Another “food for thought”, honey is also considered a ‘refined’ sugar and causes tooth decay.

Again, I’m not a doctor… so if your doctor has told you to eat all the sugar you want that it is in fact good for you… then, that is the doctor for me 🙂

Diabetes and cancer are major health concerns… have a look at some of the effects sugar can have on you and your body:

  • Sugar can suppress the immune system.
  • Sugar can upset the body’s mineral balance.
  • Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
  • Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
  • Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
  • Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
  • Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
  • Sugar can cause kidney damage.
  • Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
  • Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
  • Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
  • Sugar can promote tooth decay.
  • Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
  • Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
  • Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
  • Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair.
  • Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
  • Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
  • High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
  • Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
  • Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
  • Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
  • Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
  • Sugar causes food allergies.
  • Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
  • Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
  • Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
  • Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
  • Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
  • Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
  • Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
  • Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
  • Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
  • Sugar can cause depression.
  • Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
  • Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
  • Sugar can cause hypertension.
  • Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
  • Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind’s ability to think clearly.
  • Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.
  • Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
  • Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

Info from: Sugars Effects On the Body: http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/sugar.htm

Be gentle with yourselves.  Honor your bodies and yourselves by taking a week to treat yourself to a healthier option 🙂 No tricks!