Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

There's No Such Thing as Comfort Food

The other day I saw a commercial showing two kids dressed in soccer wear sitting on the staircase at one of the kids’ houses. Their hair is matted down with sweat and they’re talking about the game they’ve obviously just finished. One says to the other, “Winning is my favorite thing.” The other says in a monotone voice, “We lost today.” Enter Mom, presenting a cutting board holding a thick, doughy pizza sliced into sixths. The boys each take a slice and the first kid says, “No, we didn’t.” They grin at each other and chomp into their slices as the music comes fades in.

What a message this is sending! To kids, to parents, to everyone! Here’s a kid whose favorite thing in the world is winning but he’s just lost. Most people would be pretty unhappy about that, right? But, miraculously, a piece of pizza makes it all go away.

And that’s the message. That food can make a bad situation better. That food can make an issue disappear. That food takes away the pain. And that food is even better than your “favorite thing.” We get those messages early and often while we’re growing up. And it doesn’t stop when we’re adults.

Cut to any chick flick – when the inevitable breakup occurs, what does the heroine do? Crack a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Our girl next door has taken those lessons she learned as a child an applied them to her adult life – turning to food as a source of solace.

But don't messages like these encourage a behavior pattern that sets us up for food addiction? If we turn to food to deal with unfavorable circumstances what really happens? We fill up with sugary, starchy or fat-laden foods that numb and dumb us down. And we avoid whatever issue it is that has gotten us to this point in the first place. But long after we’ve filled our guts the emptiness remains, the issue is still unresolved and it will stay that way until we face it head on.

Let’s take our scenarios down the rabbit (or donut) hole. Soccer Kid eats pizza after losing; he feels full and doesn’t go back outside to practice (like many kids do while still in uniform right after a game). His technique doesn’t improve so he loses the next game. He eats more pizza. And on it goes until he can’t get off the bench. So he resigns himself to playing video games in his bedroom. While eating pizza.

And how about Break-up Girl? Her spoon hits the bottom of the ice cream container and she's still rarin’ to go. A few pints later and she’s high, depressed and still hungry (because that’s the insidious nature of sugar). She continues to comfort herself with fattening food until the zippers on her clothes no longer glide up or down. Soon, calls from potential suitors grind to a halt. And she holes up in her apartment, turning the pages of Cosmo with Cheetos-stained fingers.

I’m no Tiger Mother but I do know that Soccer Kid isn’t going to win unless he spends more time concentrating on soccer. And rather than wolfing down a pizza, he’d be better served by spending some time analyzing and practicing the game. That way he could have a better chance of getting his “favorite thing” next time. And Break-up Girl should put down the spoon, pick up a self-help book and learn why she makes bad choices in men or has no self-esteem. That way she might have a happy ending in her next romance.

Here’s the deal – life sucks at times. There’s no getting around it. But if you face whatever sucks at the moment, you can deal with it, change it, and move on. Food is NEVER the answer. You are.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Engage the Cage - Abs 101

I hate doing abs. Laying down and exercising don’t really mix in my opinion (and if you think sex is a workout, thank you, Sting, for reading my blog). Ab work is the only case where exertion and repose meet in the middle - literally.

But for as much as I hate doing abs, I love the results. I'm stronger, my posture is better, my clothes fit better, and I feel fierce. So I’m committing to hitting the floor 3 times a week. Depending on the workout, I’ll do anywhere from 180 to 350 reps each session.

I don’t think there’s one ab workout that’s better than others – the key is making a plan and committing to it. This article, The Truth About Toning Your Abs has some great advice to keep in mind while concentrating on your midsection. And here's a great page from Muscles For Women that has a solid ab workout plan if you don't have one of your own. 

The good news is an ab workout takes a maximum of 15 minutes – mine are usually a little shorter than that.  If I don’t have time to do a full weight or cardio workout in the morning, I’ll bang out my abs right away in the morning. If I can get my abs done I’ll be more motivated to do the rest of my workout later in the day.

This week I’ve only done abs 2 times so far but I can already feel them beginning to firm up. That’s the beauty of the belly – it’s so responsive to everything we do! And guess what? After today I’m done for the week!

Just remember - the only way to show that six-pack is strip away the fat, so be sure to keep burning calories with cardio and weight-bearing work.

Hey! No one said this was going to be easy. But the results will be worth it!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weight, weight!

This week I'm kicking my fitness program into high gear and getting serious about building muscle. I think I'm like most women when it comes to working out - I'm always so concerned with burning calories that if I'm pressed for time I'll do cardio instead of weights. But it's muscle mass that will keep me young and strong and help my body defy gravity. It's muscle that will amp up my metabolism. And as I get older, it's muscle that will protect my joints from injuries.

So this time around I'm focusing on building muscle. Not a lot; just enough to give me some nice definition in my arms, legs, back, butt and abs. I'll be lifting weights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays along with my interval cardio training six days a week.

Yesterday I did a circuit weight training routine from Jackie Warner's book, This is Why You're Fat, an amazing read and definitely worth a look. The routine took about half an hour. I also did 25 minutes of interval training on the treadmill (2 minutes walking at a good pace at a 15.0 incline; 2 minutes running fast at a 1.0 incline; and 1 minute walking briskly to recover at a 3.5 incline. Repeat the entire series 4 times to make a 20 minute workout).

Today I'm going to do a short cardio interval workout (20-25 minutes) and give my body a good stretch with the P90X* Yoga workout. It's about 90 minutes of vinyasas, held poses, and stretches. It's not like a typical Yoga class with spiritual undertones (which I adore) but even so, it's a lovely gift to give to tight muscles.

Today's a busy day so I'll have to squeeze Yoga in during lunch and crank out my cardio before dinner. Better get going!

* - P90X is the workout program I followed last year to get ready for my 50th birthday. It is the most challenging yet gratifying workout program I've ever done. I love it and I'll return to it 100% in half a year or so. But no matter what your workout, eventually it gets predictable and your body gets bored. So right now I'm mixing certain aspects of P90X with the Jackie Warner program to keep things interesting. I wouldn't recommend that for everyone - if you're just starting a workout program, choose one or the other and stick with it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Fitness Goal - Shape Up to Ship Out

May 9th, 2010 - My 50th Birthday
On April 2nd I’ll be heading to Tahiti and Bora Bora for a 7-day cruise. This morning I figured out that that’s 66 days from today! As I look out at our gray-and-white Minnesota winterscape it’s hard to imagine the Technicolor paradise that awaits me on the other side of the world. And it’s hard to imagine myself impersonating the poolside-posing Bain de Soleil chick when I’m sitting here in two pairs of socks, baggy jeans, a turtleneck and an oversized shawl to keep me warm. But it’s going to be a reality sooner than later. And I’ve got some work to do. There’s no way I’m sportin’ moo-moos when I’m in French Polynesia – this is a bikini trip if ever there was one! So I’m setting some goals for myself today:

1.) Lose 5 pounds.
2.) Get more defined abs.
3.) Develop more muscle tone.
4.) Rock that cute bikini I bought last summer.

Okay, now that I’ve got the goals set, I need an action plan to reach them.

1.) Set a daily calorie limit, record the foods I eat every day, and cut out booze (except on Fridays).
2.) Do at least 20 minutes of interval cardio training six days a week.
3.) Do weight training and ab work every other day (3 days a week).
4.) Weigh myself at least once a week (every Tuesday morning).
5.) Model the bikini at least once a week, being sure to check the rear view (every Tuesday morning sounds like a good plan).

Setting goals and monitoring your progress is the best way to hit your mark. And the more specific your goal, the better. Instead of saying you want to lose a few pounds, give your goal a number. Say, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.” That way you have something you can measure and a way to monitor your progress. If things aren’t going the way you want, you can rework your action plan to ensure success. When you set specific goals, you to take responsibility for your results. And when you take responsibility, you take control.

Last year I decided to whip myself into shape before my 50th birthday. I promised myself that no matter whether I succeeded or failed, I'd put on a string bikini and wear it in public. Talk about motivation! I worked out six days a week and watched what I ate. And on the day I turned 50, I donned the bikini and wore it poolside at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

There's no reason I can't do it again this year. So this morning I hit the Livestrong website to figure out my caloric needs to lose a pound a week. Then I figured out my eating plan. And then I set my alarm clock early enough so I’ll be able to get my workout done before I head to work. I’ve got about 8 weeks to pull it together and with an action plan like this, I know my goal of rockin’ a bikini in April is attainable.

April’s just around the corner. And summer’s not far behind. Now’s the perfect time to set your diet and fitness goals, kick them into gear, and get ready to show off some skin!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We Did It!

Congratulations on 21 days well spent!

We’re only a few hours away from the finish line and I hope you’re feeling refreshed, energized and really proud of what you’ve accomplished. Many of you have shed some pounds; most of you have said you’ve felt more energetic and have been sleeping better than usual. And I think we’ve all realized that we don’t necessarily need the habits, behaviors, foods and beverages we’ve clung to as much as we thought we did before we began this process.

Many of you have said you felt empowered by doing the cleanse. What a potent word that is! And so accurate! We accepted a challenge, faced it, worked our way through it, and completed it. For that alone, let’s be proud. But more importantly, we’ve learned that by simply modifying our diets for a short period of time we can restore balance in our bodies and create a chain reaction of wellness throughout every aspect of our lives.

The body is so grateful and responsive when we do what it needs. Good health doesn’t just happen – the more active a role we take in our own well-being the better off we’ll be. You’ve proven that in just three weeks.

Congratulations on committing to, meeting, and completing this challenge! I wish you continued good health and hope to see you here again soon!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's Next?

We've only got one day to go after today, so many of you are probably starting to think about what happens on Day 22. Maybe it depends on how you see this photo - is it a sunrise? Or a sunset?

Today is a good time to take an hour for yourself and consider what you’ve experienced during the course of this cleanse. Be honest: What was hard? What was easy? What was challenging? what was rewarding? How do you feel today? How does that compare with before you started the cleanse? What are you willing to change? What are you unwilling to give up?

Whatever you decide, know that you have mastered an essential aspect of your life, your health, and your overall well being: Your diet. You have proven to yourself that you have control over what you put in your body. You’ve shown that you can face temptation and overcome it. And you’ve taken charge of – and responsibility for – your choices. Isn’t that empowering?!

Chances are we'll all go back to certain aspects of our previous eating patterns. How far back you go is up to you. In the past, some cleansers went back to eating meat but didn't care for the taste and texture as much as they did before. Others started purchasing only organic or free range animal products and found them to be just fine. Some people continued to eat all their meaty favorites, just not as frequently. And many started incorporating more meatless meals into their weekly menus.

Try things on for size and see what works for you. Maybe you'll eat fish and poultry regularly but keep beef and pork to a minimum. Maybe you'll continue to use agave or stevia instead of sugar or other sugar substitutes. Perhaps you love real butter and want it back. Fine. But maybe you'll continue to use soy or almond milk instead of cow's milk. These are things you can test and tweak along the way. See how you feel after you eat some of those old favorites - you're more in touch with how food affects your body now; let its widsom guide you as you make your choices.

You don't have to make decisions right away - this is an evolutionary process. And there's no right or wrong; whatever you choose to do is up to you. It's all in your very capable hands.

Isn't it interesting how our choices seemed so limited when we started this cleanse? And now that we're almost done, we have more choices than when we began. That, my friends, is abundance at work!

This has been a fairly quiet cleanse - not much back-and-forth - but if you want to share your thoughts about how you intend to greet your Day 22, please do! I'd love to hear about your fears, your goals and your plans! All thoughts, comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome!

Friday, January 21, 2011

True Confession - Yes, I Cheated!

During a previous cleanse I met some friends for brunch at a spot that serves all sorts of vegan dishes. I was thoroughly enjoying my tofu scramble, vegan sausage and hashbrowns when it dawned on me that the vegan sausage probably contained gluten and the hashbrowns may very well have been cooked in butter. But, as Kathy Freston suggests in "The Quantum Wellness Cleanse," I decided to let it go. And I allowed myself to be happy that I'd found a terrific alternative to a traditional egg breakfast - a great discovery that I can enjoy during my non-cleansing life.

But then, Mark, my husband who NEVER orders dessert, got three huge cookies for the table to share. At that point I figured that since I'd already eaten some gluten I might as well let it all go. So I had a bite of the oatmeal raisin cookie with icing.


Maybe it was because I was eating emotionally – I’d been feeling a little down earlier that morning. Maybe it was because I’ve never cheated before and I wanted to know what it felt like. Maybe I just wanted a bite of the damned cookie.

Well, I stopped at only one bite. Nevertheless, I'd stepped out on that ledge and taken the dive. But I popped back up on the surface. I felt guilty about that bite of cookie - for about a minute. It was a minute-long detour in a 21-day program! I'd never call anyone a failure for that! And I certainly wouldn't give up because of it. So I went right back to cleansing from that moment on.

Yeah, maybe you've lost some respect for me. And maybe you think my cleanse cheerleader pep talks are B.S. That's fine. I guess I might, too. But I learned a great lesson by doing what I did: Food doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition; a teeny bit of something can be satisfying enough - there's no need to eat the whole thing; and one or two bites of a taboo food doesn't spell the end of the world. You just have to dust yourself off and start over again.

Our cleanse buddy Jenny in Wisconsin says that every day and every moment is an opportunity to turn back in the right direction – for both the small and the large detours. So that's what I'm did – I turned back and started over.

And I learned that no cookie (or any other food) is going to make me feel better about anything. That day, spending time with my friends and hearing from my cleanse pals later that day was more satisfying than anything I could have put in my mouth.

Each time I cleanse I learn something new. I guess that's why I'm still so enthused about the process. I hope you feel the same way!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cool Stuff for People Who Think

I cannot claim these groovy, green pots and pans - they come to us from our cleanse buddy Jeannie in Dallas. Check them out - they come in a 6-piece set of non-stick cookware from GreenPan. A green alternative to Teflon? Sign me up! GreenGadgets.com. Thanks, Jeannie!

I love this idea - a sophisticated handbag made from recycled seatbelts! It's available in a wide assortment of colors and sizes and you can find it (on sale now!) at what truly is The Ultimate Green Store. Hit this website for all things green and gorgeous - home and office furnishings, clothing and handbags, linens, bath and beauty products - even solar-powered flashlights. It's truly a one-stop green shop.   

This protein powder is completely cleanse-friendly and loaded with protein and nutrients. 15 grams of protein, 1200 mg of omega-3's, all 10 essential amino acids and only 134 calories a serving. Pick it up at Whole Foods or online at VitaCost.com, a great website for vitamins, health and beauty products, and cleanse-friendly foods.

I started using this spirulina powder after I learned that vegans and vegetarians typically don't get enough vitamin B12 from nutritional sources. But one teaspoon of this powder a day will give you %150 of the RDA of B12, along with 230% of your vitamin A RDA, 94% of vitamin K, not to mention iron and a host of trace minerals. I purchased mine at Whole Foods, but it's also available online at VitaCost.com. Sprinkle it on foods or blend it into smoothies - I've even seen people dust it over popcorn. Watch out for green fingers... and smiles!

Okay, this one's not cleanse-friendly - there's gluten in this Tofurky Vegetarian Roast - but I wanted to bring it to your attention anyway. I was so intrigued when I saw this in the freezer section at Whole Foods right before Christmas. And since we were roasting a turkey for Mark I thought it might be fun to try a meat substitute myself. And I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it! It's got a chewy texture and smoky flavor; the dressing in the center is rich and homey tasting - I loved it. It's perfect for those dinners when you're cooking a roast for all the carnivores in your life. The sad thing is it's only available as a holiday product at the moment, but it's worth remembering and it's good to know there's a company that's making some delicious meat substitutes! One caution - watch for high calorie counts.

Oenophile? Beer snob? Then Barnivore.com is for you. It's a vegan beer  and wine guide - even some liquors make the list. Check out your favorite vintner or brewery by name and see if they're animal friendly or not. You'll be amazed at the number of producers listed at this site. And you might find out that your preferred potables are concocted conscientiously. I was delighted to learn that one of my favorites, Cline, is vegan! Now I can feel good about getting my drink on! So can you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are You Really Hungry?

Many times eating or drinking is triggered by certain events or behaviors rather than by true hunger or thirst. Think about all the times you've sipped a glass of wine while you prepared dinner or lost count of the number of pieces of bread you munched while you waited for dinner to be delivered at a restaurant.

Some of you may have felt some pangs of desire for the foods we've eliminated - almost Pavlovian responses to events or circumstances you encountered. But you've had to overcome those urges - you've been forced to think about them and then deal with them. And I suspect that ultimately you realized that what you were missing was the behavior - the habit - and not the food.

So much of what we put into our mouths is driven by habit rather than hunger. And we think we can't live without certain foods when it's really the behavior we've become addicted to. But you've just gone over two weeks without alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten and animal products - that's everything the Western diet is based upon! So you've shattered a few long-lived myths you've carried about yourself and about the choices you have when it comes to nutrition. You really do have a choice! Isn't it liberating to learn that?

Congratulations on over two weeks of mindful eating! I hope it has left everyone feeling a little more clarity, a little more energized, and a lot more empowered than you did two Sundays ago. You've all done a great job!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What to Do With Tofu - 10 Great Recipes

Tofu might be a new adventure for you - it certainly was for me the first time I cleansed. And even after almost three years of being a vegetarian I don't care what anybody says - tofu is kind of weird and it has no flavor. But that's when it's sitting there in block form. All it needs is a little creativity and it can become a delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner - even dessert!

Tofu is such a healthy and economical alternative to meat that it's worth discovering a few recipes to add to your repertoire. I've found some that are absolutely delicious and eat them on a regular basis.

For the purposes of this cleanse tofu is a great source of protein. And once we've finished, even if you return to eating meat, a few good tofu recipes in your repertoire might allow you to consider having Meatless Mondays in your home (or even a Wednesday or two!). So here are ten recipes to try - I hope you find something you like!

Tofu and Black Bean Tacos
Tofu Scramble
Vegan Sag Paneer
Tandoori Tofu
Ginger Peanut Tofu Salad
Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Tofu
Broccoli and Tofu in Garlic Sauce
Chinese Five Spice Tofu
Sesame Ginger Tofu
Spice-crusted Tofu

Monday, January 17, 2011

Delete the Meat - (And Fish and Seafood and Chicken)

I haven't gone here before because I've been too scared to face the fallout. Of all the foods we give up during this cleanse, people (particularly those who are NOT cleansing) get the most emotional about their meat. But there's more than the emotional/ethical side of this issue; the health implications of a diet high in animal protein are too important to overlook. So I'm going to focus on that and share some information I've picked up along the way.

About Meat and Health in General:
"Heart disease kills more Americans than the next four fatal diseases combined. Close to one million of us die of cardiac complications annually, and one in every two Americans will die from heart disease or stroke... What is at the core of this terrible disease? Plaque... Animal-based products contain all the building blocks for heart disease:  artery-clogging saturated fat, plaque-promoting dietary cholesterol, cholesteral-raising and inflamation-causing animal protein, and free-radical-promoting oxidants."1

"By avoiding all animal-based products, the plant-eating patients (participants in the Lifestyle Hear Trial Study by Dr. Dean Ornish at the Universtiy of California at San Francisco) eliminated all the major building blocks that contribute to plaque formation:  fat, cholesterol, and animal protein. They were able to lower their total cholesterol to a level that helped their body metabolize away the plaque building in their arteries."2

"By consuming only fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, the patients allowed the arteries themselves to heal at a cellular and metabolic level."3

About Fish:
"Mercury is found naturally in the enviroment but recently has increased dramatically in volume, primarily from coal-fired power plants and various other forms of heavy manufacturing around the world. Coal-powered plants in China can affect the fish caught on the west coast of America. Mercury has become nearly impossible to avoid in marine settings... Among the chemical by-products now present in the food chain are PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls... Fish can contain extremely high levels of PCBs."4  

About Chicken:
"The average chicken now has three times as much fat as it did just thirty-five years ago, so that even chicken without visible fat comes in at more than 20 percent fat, just as much cholesterol as beef, and zero complex carbs or fiber."5

I know this is tough information to swallow so that's enough for today. But you can bet there's more - a whole lot more - about why eating meat is not the best choice for your overall health. If you want to learn more, check out the two books noted below, hit the Internet, and see what you find. Here are just a few links that you might find interesting...
Meat Linked to Urinary Tract Infections
I'll have a burger and fries with everything - hold the ammonia.
Meat tainted with deadly virus is being sold to consumers.
Politics trumps science in food inspections.

1,2,3 "The Engine 2 Diet" by Rip Esselstyn
4,5 "The Quantum Wellness Cleanse" by Kathy Freston

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Spirituality of Cleansing

It's common to look at a cleanse as something we do for our bodies. But our bodies contain and carry the more intangible, ethereal aspects our beings through this world; it stands to reason that if we're changing our bodies, we're going to see some changes in our mental and emotional states as well. The last time we cleansed I posted this story about the spiritual shifts that I experienced during my first cleanse - maybe it will resonate with you...  

Two years ago I was 10 pounds heavier; I smoked, drank at least two glasses of wine a day, had no libido, and was on the verge of a divorce. I was angry an unhappy. I had regular panic attacks. My energy level was almost nonexistent and I felt trapped in a downward emotional spiral. I was afraid all the time, felt myself aging before my time, and didn't know how to change it. And each day brough a deeper feeling of worthlessness and defeat. All I could do was drag myself through the motions, dreading the possibility that this was how the rest of my life was going to be.

But everything began to change in April 0f 2008 when I intervewed Karyn Calabrese for the Ageless Beauty issue of Today's Chicago Woman magazine. The owner of a raw gourmet restaurant, a classic vegetarian restaurant, a cutting edge vegan restaurant, and a state-of-the-art wellness center in Chicago, Karyn is a 63-year-old who's been eating a raw diet and cleansing regularly for 40 years. And she looks younger than most 35-year-olds.

Karyn told me that cleansing was the portal to the spirit. But I didn't get it - the way I saw it, cleansing was only about the body. I mean, come on – you either modified or stopped your food intake, you dropped weight and felt better – that’s totally physical! In my limited view, the spiritual existed in some unseen ethereal realm; a place that transcended the physical. And I saw the two as mutually exclusive...

...Until I did my first cleanse. Right away the physical part of cleansing began to manifest spiritual issues. At first, I had to deal with the feeling of deprivation – deprivation of my beloved distractions like peanut M&Ms, pizza, CokeZero, and sauvignon blanc. So I busied myself in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes and filling the fridge up with rice, lentil, and quinoa dishes, and soups of every color and texture. But once the fridge was full, there was nothing left to do but sit with the stillness that comes with cleansing.

You know what I’m talking about – that moment when you pick up a wine glass or a piece of cheese and then remember it’s off limits. The stillness hits right then - when you realize how much of your life is taken up in the pursuit of cleanse-unfriendly substances. And you’re faced with the task of filling up that time with something else. And it’s hard at first. So you sit in the stillness. And wonder what the hell to do.

I read. A lot. A self-help devotee, I’ve got all the bestsellers on my bookshelves. I return to "The Artist’s Way" again and again, I love anything by Deepak Choprah, and I’m a sucker for all things Dr. Wayne Dyer. But this time I turned to Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” It forced me to look at myself honestly – to strip away the myths I had created about myself, my life, and how I’d gotten to where I was. And I didn’t like where I was – on the verge of a divorce; or what I saw – an angry woman who was a victim, a bitch, and scared shitless.

But cleansing was the equivalent of being given a freshly sharpened machete to hack through the underbrush of my psyche. I faced ancient issues that had been lurking for decades and informing my actions and emotions, even in the present day. And I dealt with them rationally. That was something I'd never done before; in the past I always turned to something that would alter my consciousness (sugar, caffeine, or alcohol). But this time I didn’t have anything to turn to. Except myself.

I cried almost every day for the first 18 days. I grieved for my marriage, for myself, for all the mistakes I’d made, for all the wrongs I’d done. When the tears subsided, I examined the behaviors that had gotten me to where I was at that moment. And then I focused on changing them.

I decided that in the same way that I was practicing mindful eating, I’d practice mindful living. In the same way I considered the effects of my food choices, I would consider the effects of my actions. And in the same way I took responsibility for my diet, I would take responsibility for my life. And in so doing, I reclaimed my power. Check it out – power over my food choices; power over my life choices. How’s that for symmetry?!!

I gained confidence as I got further into the cleanse – I was doing something I never thought I could – and it bolstered my strength. I was no longer angry because I was no longer a victim. And I was no longer scared because I trusted my own strength. As I cleared away all the emotional debris that had kept me from a life of gratitude and hope, I could see that life developing - because I was finally creating it.

Cleansing helped me to reconnect with my authentic self, my soul, my spirit - whatever you want to call the part of me that invites and honors compassion, joy and love.

I don’t have a name for my higher power, but then again, I haven’t been in a plane that’s going down. Even so, I don’t doubt for a second that there’s a source that drives me. And as long as I keep the channels in this body clean, that source has a way to move through me. I believe spirituality is a collaborative effort - as long as I’m on Earth, my body is responsible for transporting my soul. And I think my soul deserves better than a junk heap. That’s why I’m here.

No matter your spiritual affiliation, I hope the start of this new year brings you a sense of abundance, gratitude and hope. I hope you’re feeling healthy and happy. And I hope you’re feeling refreshed and renewed, in body and spirit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cleanse Around the World - 9 Great Recipes

If you're like I used to be, a typical meal is planned around around meat. You grill some chicken breasts or fish, toss up a salad, and, if you're feeling ambitious, you grill or steam up some vegetables. There's nothing wrong with that - that's a pretty standard home-cooked meal.

And when I'd go out for dinner I'd order things I loved but never thought to try making at home - sushi, Indian food, Asian dishes, even African food. Again, I think that's typical of most of us.

But when I started cleansing I had to figure out how to make meals that were satisfying and nutritious, and I had to do it without my usual go-to item on the plate - the meat. I started researching recipes and playing around with those "exotic" foods that I'd only eaten in restaurants and what I realized was that most of those dishes were already vegan (or easily modified to be). So I made curry without chicken or lamb, sushi without fish, and pho without beef. And they all had so much flavor - I was blown away! I was making restaurant quality food in my own kitchen!

I've become a better cook because of cleansing, and I've become a vegetarian as well. That's because I've learned that fruits, vegetables and spices can combine in ways I'd never thought of to create subtle, sophisticated flavors or combust into blow-your-socks-off spicy dishes. My palate is never bored; in fact, I think the flavors I'm discovering now are more interesting than those in my previous SAD (Standard Amerian Diet) existence.

Here are the links to the recipes for some of my favorite foreign food discoveries. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I have!

Vegetarian Pho
Vegetarian Sugar-free Sushi Rice
Tandoori Tofu
Navratan Korma
Indian Dal
Vegan Sag Paneer
Tofu and Black Bean Tacos 
African Peanut Potato Stew
Gluten-free Spaghetti with Pesto Cream

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dining Mindfully

Dining out is such a large part of most of our lives it's worth discussing at some length.

Chances are, some of you are curbing some of your social activities just to make things a little easier. But you can’t live your life in a controlled environment forever – the reality is you’re going to have to learn to eat mindfully in the real world.

At first you’ll probably spend most of your time and energy sidestepping all the landmines out there, but once you get your balance you can skip through it gracefully and have a good time doing it. And that means you’ll be able to do it whenever you choose – not only while you’re cleansing.

The first thing to remember about any event is – it’s not about the food. Let’s say that again – it’s not about the food. Instead, it’s about the people you’re with – your mate, your friends, your family, your colleagues. So concentrate on the people around you. Because you’ll be alcohol-free and less focused on food you’ll be able to concentrate on what your companions are saying - you’ll be more engaged. And you might even have a better, more productive time than you would have had otherwise.

When you’re headed to a restaurant it’s fairly easy to check the menu online and devise an eating strategy long before you arrive. That way you won’t have to agonize over the menu while everyone else is watching. If you can’t find the menu online, call ahead and ask about finding something that will accommodate your needs. Most restaurants are very amenable to working with you to provide you a delicious, cleanse-worthy alternative. Be sure to check into side dish options - many restaurants offer baked or sweet potatoes - if you can score a side of salsa you'll have a delicious, satisfying main course. Steamed and grilled veggies are a mainstay in most restaurants - pair them with the potato and you've got a tasty, nutritional meal.

If you're not sure of what you're in for and just want to cover your bases, fix yourself a hearty protein smoothie before you head out - that way you won’t feel hungry or deprived when you’re forced to order a dinner salad with no dressing.

I realize that most of you have sophisticated palates and take your dining seriously. However, this article from The Healthy Voyager calls out some national restaurant chains that have great healthy items or alternatives on their menus. And even if you don't patronize these particular restaurants, this article might spark your imagination about how to navigate a challenging menu.

For events that feature a pre-planned menu, you’ll have to be a little more creative. But you can usually expect a salad, and vegetables with the entrée. If you can, have a smoothie beforehand; if not, drink water to curb your hunger and then work with what you have. But chances are you can ask for extra vegetables or an additional salad so you won’t go hungry.

No matter what the case, when you’re cleansing it’s good to have some nuts or gluten-free crackers in your purse, pocket or desk drawer. Come to think of it, it’s good even when you’re not cleansing – keeping healthy snack alternatives on hand can keep you from making choices you might regret later on.

As long as you're prepared you can make it through any situation. And remember, it's not about the food! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Got Milk? The Dairy Dilemma

Okay, if this photo doesn't get you off dairy we've got some work to do! Dairy is a tough subject. I'm a girl who grew up in Wisconsin - I've got heavy cream running through my veins. And like the rest of the country I've been seduced by sexy celebrity milk mustaches and scared to death by threats of osteoporosis - so much so that for years I bought into the hype that dairy was the only thing that would whittle my waistline and keep my bones from snapping apart. Well, guess what? It's baloney! I'll let the experts tell you why...

"When you consume dairy products, you are ingesting the same antibiotics, pesticides, steroids, and hormones you would if you ate meat directly. Cows are injected with bovine growth hormone. Their udders, under normal conditions, would supply about ten pounds of milk a day. Greedy farmers have their cows producing up to a hundred pounds of milk a day! There is no gentle farmer milking the cow with a bucket between his feet. Cows are milked by machine; metal clamps are attached to the cows' sensitive udders. The udders become sore and infected. Pus forms...To get rid of all the bacteria and other shit, milk must be pasteurized. But pasteurization destroys beneficial enzymes and makes calcium less available without even killing all the viruses or bacteria. Hell, even radioactive particles are found in milk!"1

And what's in cheese and butter? You got it.

How about eggs? "Eggs are essentially cholesterol and salmonella delivery devices... A hundred people every year come down with salmonella poisoning from alfalfa sprouts, so the Centers for Disease Control says no one should eat alfalfa sprouts - yet a hundred thousand are infected by eggs each year, and that doesn't produce the same indignation."2

"Sickeningly high levels of pesticides found in dairy meet government standards. Records from the Food and Drug Administration show that 'virtually 100% of the cheese products produced and sold in the U.S. has detectable pesticide residues.'"3

What about organic, free-range or cage-free dairy products? "Although cage-free, organic, and free-range eggs are better from a food safety point of view they have pretty much the same nutritional profile and certainly the same amount of cholesterol."4 And the same can be said for milk and cheese products.

You mean dairy is fattening?!! Duh. "Cow's milk, by design, grows a 90-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow over the course of two years... Sounds even more fattening than human milk, right? It is."5

Okay, so dairy myth is crumbling before our eyes. But we still have to address the burning question, where do you get your calcium? Simple...

"Great sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, oranges, kidney beans, lima beans, whole grains, Swiss chard, lentils, raisins, broccoli, kale, celery, tofu and romaine lettuce."6

And here's one more thing to consider..."One reason why Americans have such a high incidence of osteoporosis (or weakening of the bones) isn't a lack of dietary calcium but an excess of animal protein, which leaches calcium from the bones. In fact, did you know that the countries with the highest rate of dairy consumption, including the United States, New Zealand, Britain and Sweden, also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? ...Meanwhile, people in rural China, who consume one-third the amount of dairy we do, have almost zero cases of osteoporosis."7

I've given you a lot to consider but we've barely scratched the surface. If you want to learn more, check out the International Vegetarian Union or any of the three books listed below. In the meantime, enjoy exploring all the great alternatives to dairy!

1,3,5 "Skinny Bitch" by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
2,4 "The Quantum Wellness Cleanse" by Kathy Freston
6,7  "The Engine 2 Diet" by Rip Esselstyn

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Moving!

So, has anybody made any exercise resolutions? I hope so, because exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

If you're cleansing to shed a few pounds, this is the perfect time to add some calorie-buring activities to your routine. If it's been a while since you've worked out, you can start by walking. Recent guidelines have set the goal at 10,000 steps a day, which translates to about 5 miles. If that sounds like more than you can handle at the moment, check out The Walking Site for tips on how to get started. Then gradually increase your steps.

If you're more advanced, try interval training - alternating bursts of intense activity followed by periods of rest. I've been doing it for the last month and a half and it's had tremendous results - I've stripped fat, increased my running speed, and have better cardio-vascular performance than ever. This article from the Mayo Clinic explains the theory behind interval training, and this piece from Shape has three great interval workouts to try. Always be sure to consult your physician before you start a new exercise program, and never push yourself beyond your limits. You're a work in progress so you can gradually increase your speed and intensity over time.

Today's post is about cardio - for now - for the New Year - I thought people would want to concentrate on burning some serious cals. But if anyone has some insights on weight-bearing exercise and flexibilty moves please chime in!

Whatever you choose to do, you'll see physical results and feel benefits not long after you start. Studies show that exercise can improve sleep, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase focus and raise confidence. Isn't that worth 30 minutes a day? Better yet, aren't YOU worth 30 minutes a day?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sugar, Sugar

Sugar. There’s no getting around it – we love it. And that should come as no surprise, considering it’s in almost everything we eat. But, aside from the taste – and the high – there’s not much good about it.

For the purposes of simplicity, let’s look at sugar just like we’re looking at gluten – as a processed food. And in that sense, it’s something to be avoided.

To be sure, sugar occurs naturally in certain foods – and that’s a good thing because sugar (or glucose) is a natural fuel for the body. It’s when we start supplementing the naturally-occurring sugar that we get into trouble.

Here are a few things that processed sugar does to the body: “Refined sugar has been linked to hypoglycemia, yeast overgrowth, a weakened immune system, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, enlargement of the liver and kidneys, increase of uric acid in the blood, mental and emotional disorders, dental cavities and an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.”1

And I’m no scientist, but here are some interesting facts I’ve found in my research about sugar: “Bone char, made from the bones of cows, is at times used to whiten sugar. Some sugar companies use it in filters to decolorize their sugar." 2 Bone char?! During this cleanse we're not eating ANY animal products - bone char is definitely off limits! And disgusting! And if you think brown sugar is any better, it's just bleached sugar with molasses added to it.3

“Maintaining and harvesting sugar cane can be unhealthy and dangerous for the workers. Their work involves the use of sharp machetes and at times exposure to hazardous chemicals."Nobody wants to eat hazardous chemicals - that’s a given. But more importantly, the karma that comes with eating food grown by people who are being treated unjustly has got to be pretty awful.

“Refined sugar is 99 % pure crystalline sucrose. When eaten, it enters the blood stream very fast, quickly elevating your blood sugar level. The pancreas responds by releasing insulin. This lowers your blood sugar level, resulting in irritability and fatigue. A cycle begins where you crave more sugar to raise your blood sugar levels again.”5 And that’s where the mood and energy swings begin.

And given that the average American eats 140 pounds – yes, I said POUNDS – of sugar in a year, maybe that's why people are ruder and fatter than ever! That figure is from 2005 – it’s probably higher today - and it breaks down to 22 teaspoons a day (teens do an average of 34 teaspoons a day). “One can of soda has 10 teaspoons, and 10 teaspoons is the maximum amount of sugar we should be eating in an entire day to be healthy.”6

And finally, “One can of soda per day can put on 10 pounds per year.”7

So here’s the good news – eliminate sugar and you’ll probably level out a bit emotionally. Your belly will probably level out too.

1 From "Skinny Bitch," quoting from “Sugar Blues,” Natural Nutrition, livrite.com
2 Vegfamily.com
3 recomparison.com
4 fairfood.org
5 Excerpted from betterworldbaking.com
6 From "The Splendid Table," radio broadcast on January 16, 2010
7 From "The Doctors," television broadcast on February 3, 2010

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Goods on Gluten

Gluten - it seems like the most innocuous, unnoticeable part of most of our diets. In fact, most of us don’t even know what it is. But it's everywhere. So what is it?

Gluten is “the mixture of proteins found in wheat grains which are not soluble in water and which give wheat dough its elastic texture.”1 Huh? Simply put, gluten is made of wheat flour and water. It's used as a meat substitute (seitan, mock duck) and as a thickener in just about everything else. Most of us know that gluten is found in breads and pastas but it’s everywhere – in sauces, soups, dressings, beer, vegetarian meat substitutes, some cheeses, and even in certain vitamins.

So what’s the big deal? Well, studies have shown that gluten consumption can cause headaches, skin irritations, bloating and digestive problems. And gluten is the well-documented culprit in the serious condition called celiac disease, “which causes damage to the small intestine which can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.”2

For the purposes of simplicity, however, just think of gluten as a processed food. And during this cleanse the bulk of the foods we’ll eat have not been processed. We’re honoring the natural state of our bodies by eating foods in their purer forms – that should make it easy to understand why we’re turning away from gluten.

And steering clear of gluten means you have to be on the watch at all times – because it’s everywhere. I’m attaching some websites along with lists of gluten-free foods and the foods that might surprise you by containing gluten. And gluten goes by many names, like “modified food starch (though this sometimes refers to corn), hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, textured vegetable protein and wheat.”3

According to dummies.com, “Beware of aliases like flour, bulgur, semolina, spelt, frumento, durum (also spelled duram), kamut, graham, einkorn, farina, couscous, seitan, matzoh, matzah, matzo, and cake flour. Often marketed as a “wheat alternative,” none of these is even remotely gluten-free.”4

So stay on your guard, ask questions, and when in doubt, find another food.

1 dictionary.com
2 mayoclinic.com
3 "The Quantum Wellness Cleanse" by Kathy Freston
4 dummies.com

Sunday, January 9, 2011

From Starving to Satisfied in a Hurry!

I'm recycling this post from our recent 1-week mini-cleanse during December. For any newbies, this will show you how easy it is to get healthy, tasty food on the table in a hurry. No processed foods required!

...Last night I got home from an 8-day trip to Chicago. And even though yesterday was a travel day, I was able to observe Day 1 of our cleanse by eating a couple of apples and munching on carrots, broccoli and celery throughout the day. But when I got home at 6:00 p.m. I was ravenous! So I dropped my luggage at the door, headed straight for the kitchen, and within a few minutes I was eating a delicious appetizer and dinner was in the oven. Here's how I went from starving to satisfied in a few minutes...

1.) I turned on the oven to 350F and pulled a couple of blocks of extra firm tofu from the fridge (always check the expiration date and buy the furthest one out), wrapped them in towels, and put a weight on them to drain the excess fluid.

2.) While the tofu was draining, I tossed a can of garbanzo beans, a handful of fresh spinach, some lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and a few cloves of garlic into my food processor and whirled up a fabulous spinach hummus.

3.) I pulled a container of Spicy Coconut and Black Bean Soup I'd made during the last cleanse from the freezer and thawed it in the microwave.

4.) I grabbed some carrots that I'd peeled and cut before my trip (they were still good because I stored them in water), some celery (stored the same way), and some Mary's Gone Crackers from the pantry and set them out with the hummus.

5.) I sliced the tofu into steaks, drizzled them with Bragg's Amino Acids, and popped them into the oven for 15 minutes a side (I like mine a little well-done but you can cook them for just 7-8 minutes a side if you wish).

While the tofu was baking I snacked on the veggies, crackers and hummus. When I flipped the tofu, I enjoyed a bowl of one my all-time favorite soups. And by the time I finished the soup, the tofu was ready. So dinner was ready in half an hour, I stayed true to the cleanse, and I felt great after eating a healthy meal. On top of that, now I have extra tofu steaks left over that I can eat today and tomorrow.

The lesson learned - always keep a few go-to items on hand for those panic moments when you're famished or don't have much time to spend in the kitchen. Keep fresh veggies prepped and ready to eat at all times so you can turn to them first whenever you feel a hunger pang. If you have certain items you whip up on a regular basis, buy extra ingredients to keep on hand (mine are garbanzos, tofu, jalapenos and ciltantro). And when you have some time in the kitchen, make double batches of your favorite dishes so you can freeze one to pull out in emergencies.

Simply being prepared goes a long way toward keeping a healthy diet on track and staying one step ahead of the hunger. Here's to staying ahead of the game!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

You Deserve a Treat!

Can you believe it? You’re almost finished with the first week of cleansing! Maybe you’re thinking about giving yourself a treat – and you deserve one because you’ve done a great job so far!

But the reward system we’ve grown accustomed to is probably one of the most dangerous landmines we face in our dietary lives. From the time we smeared our first birthday cake across our faces we’ve been taught to celebrate through our mouths.

Special dinners, holiday meals, even funeral buffets find us hunched over our plates, fork or spoon in constant motion, prospecting for that one bite that will bring us a culinary version of comfort or joy. Some of us seek solace or celebration in liquid form, tossing back glass after glass of beer or booze in an effort to rejoice or relax. But in either case the satisfaction is only temporary and we wind up with an overstuffed belly, a pounding head, and an empty soul.

This cleanse gives us time to rethink and redefine our relationships with food and alcohol – it’s the perfect time to consider a more sophisticated way of rewarding ourselves when we deserve a little something special. Some of you have already experienced challenges and victories during the course of this cleanse. And some of you have probably felt like you deserved a reward simply because of the sacrifices you’re making. But you can’t have a cookie, you can’t have a glass of wine – hell, you can’t even have a Wheat Thin!

So what do you do? Here are some ideas:
1) Get a mani/pedi - not express; the spa kind that gives you get the full royal treatment
2) Get your hair done - a new cut or color, highlights, straighting, deep conditioning
3) Take a Yoga class - Bikram for sweating out toxins; restorative is almost better than a massage
4) Buy those cute red (or whatever color your covet) shoes you’ve been eyeing
5) Make a date with your vibrator (very healthy!)
6) See a foreign flick
7) Spend an undisturbed hour with a good book
8) Take a walk
9) Get a makeover - bring some new colors into your makeup palette
10) Try a new perfume
11) Take a dance class - tap, salsa, pole; whatever gets your juices flowing
12) Get a wax - brows, upper lip, Brazillian, arms
13) See a concert
14) Get a massage
15) Go to the zoo
16) Tackle a Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle
17) Watch an old movie
18) See a psychic
19) Paint a room a new color
20) Get a cushy pair of slippers

You're making all sorts of changes during these 21 days. This is the chance to shift your perspective and find other ways to reward yourself. What do you like to do? What gives you joy? What makes you feel safe, secure and well tended to? Whatever the answer, remember that you're already taking great care of your body - now is the time to feed your soul? You deserve it!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Every Friday is a little milestone, but this is a special one for us – we’re completing five days of cleansing! Our next challenge is making it through the weekend…

For many of us, giving up alcohol is more difficult than we'd like to admit – especially when weekends or social gatherings pop up. That's probably because mindlessly drinking in social situations is a habit we picked up a long time ago.

Most of us started drinking in our younger years when we were awkward and experimental – when alcohol was something new that helped us feel more confident and outgoing. But even after we’ve cultivated our own brand of panache, we continue to say yes to the wine served at dinner parties, the drinks ordered with colleagues after work, or the beers cracked during Sunday football games. We no longer even think about it because drinking is just “what people do.”

The habit of drinking is deeply engrained in our lifestyles and psyches. And it’s scary to think about upsetting the status quo. The first time I cleansed I didn’t go out until Day 18 because I didn’t think I could sit at a bar or have dinner in a restaurant without ordering a glass of wine. And I didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable (I actually thought that what was in my glass had some bearing on how other people perceived me!). But on Day 19 I was obligated to go to a dinner party. I was certain I’d be the most boring – and bored – person in the room. But no one even noticed that I was drinking water (which I’d poured into a wine glass – probably more as a crutch for me than anything else). And to my surprise I had just as much – if not more – fun as I would have had with a couple of glasses of wine in my system.

That night I realized that my habit of alcohol wasn’t as necessary as I believed it was. I realized that I didn’t need it in social settings. And that made me think about the other times I would turn to alcohol, particularly as a reward for a good day or a pacifier after a bad one. Now I know I can stop and ask myself, ‘Do I really want this?’ And chances are that, more often than not, the answer will be no.

This cleanse gives us the chance to retool our approach to alcohol. There may be some twinges or urges to head for happy hour or uncork a bottle, particularly now that the weekend is here. But when we feel those habitual pangs we can ask ourselves, ‘Why do I want this drink now?’ And once we have an answer we can ask, ‘Is there anything else I can drink – or do – that can take the place of a drink right now?’ If it’s about relaxation, a half-hour Yoga or meditation session works wonders. As does half an hour with the stillness of a good book.

And if you're in a social setting, try my favorite NA drink, a little cranberry juice shaken with soda water (just like a Cosmopolitan, but without the booze) and served straight up in a martini glass with a twist of lemon. It’s got all the sass without the shlosh!

Going booze-free brings a clarity and balance to life that can be disturbed by just one glass of wine a day. And one of the greatest things about letting go of alcohol is waking up in the morning. There’s no lag time – no need to recover from the night before – you can start living immediately... And you don’t look like you drank the night before!

Cheers to a great weekend, everybody

Thursday, January 6, 2011

For the Caffeine Fiend

Right now, some of you might be hitting a wall. If you’re feeling sluggish, dopey, irritable, headachy and generally tapped out, you’re probably going through caffeine withdrawal.

You're not alone - giving up caffeine has posed the greatest challenge to previous cleansers. We've had some meltdowns and close calls, but everyone has made it through. You will too. Just hang in there and know that what you're feeling right now is temporary.

Caffeine, while seemingly innocuous, is the most widely consumed mood altering drug in the world. Of course we don’t think of it as a drug – certainly not during the morning ritual of putting up the first pot or hitting the neighborhood coffee house for a double whackucino on the way to work. It never crosses our minds that we may be addicted when we gulp down a cola, an energy drink or another cup of coffee or tea during a morning break or on the way to the next meeting. And most of us don’t give a second thought to the caffeine content in the chocolate bar we ravage mid-afternoon – nothing like a caffeine and sugar high combined!

But the truth of the matter is caffeine has us by the short hairs – most American adults have fallen into its vicious cycle of dependence. You know what I’m talking about – you have a bad night of sleep so you wake yourself up with caffeine; you’re tired during the day so you spike up with some more; then you don’t sleep well that night. And on it goes until we don’t know any other way to live. But, when you think about it, being alternately tired or wired equates to low-grade manic depression.

And we can thank caffeine for the condition. Studies have shown that “caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. The most obvious effect is that it can make it hard for you to fall asleep. This will reduce your total sleep time. Caffeine also can reduce the amount of deep sleep that you enjoy.”1 Before you get all smug thinking, ‘I don’t have caffeine after 5:00 p.m.’ or even after noon, consider that “the effects of caffeine can last anywhere from 8 to 14 hours.”2

So now caffeine’s got you sleep-deprived, what’s next? Gulp down a few more cups and let the games begin – because this is where it gets good. “Studies have shown that high dietary doses of caffeine (200 mg or more)* increase anxiety ratings and induce panic attacks in the general population. Individuals with panic and anxiety disorders are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Although highly anxious individuals tend to be more likely to limit their caffeine use, not all individuals with anxiety problems naturally avoid caffeine, and some may fail to recognize the role that caffeine is playing in their anxiety symptoms.”3

During my first cleanse my panic attacks disappeared. Since then I’ve stayed off caffeine and the panic attacks are a distant memory – it’s been over two years since I’ve had an incident!

You may be in a temporary slump right now, but in a few days you’ll be off the manic caffeine roller coaster for good. You’ll sleep more easily and deeply. You won’t need caffeine to wake up. And the cycle will be broken. Withdrawal typically lasts anywhere from two days to one week so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there – some things you’ve just got to gut your way through. But, take it from one who knows – it’ll be worth it!

1,2 By Donald R. Townsend, PhD on sleepeducation.com
3 From the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center website, caffeinedependence.org

*Approximately 2 6-oz cups of brewed coffee contain 200mg of caffeine

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Losing Weight - 5 Things You Should Know

Day 3, Gang! We're in it to win it! And for those of you who are interested in shedding some ell-bees (read that again if you have to...) during this cleanse, here are some things to consider.

1.) The first week of cleansing is a time of withdrawal, both physical and emotional. And during that time it's easy to eat a little more than usual – that’s where things can get a little tricky. It's easy to substitute quantity for what you used to consider quality – you might eat more because you feel like you're depriving yourself of your old favorites.

2.) Turning to non-meat sources of protein isn't as cut and dried as eating chicken or fish. Black beans are a tremendous source of protein but they're high in carbs. Same with quinoa. And it's those damned carbs that keep us fleshier than we'd prefer to be. The simplest trick to getting lean is to cut back on the carbs. Fitness buffs eat lots of chicken, fish and vegetables to strip off the fat. We can do the same thing - we just need to make sure we're getting at least some of our protein from tofu or tempeh and protein powder - they're packed with protein and low in carbs.

3.) The foods that become comfort foods while cleansing (brown rice, quinoa, gluten-free breads, pastas and gluten-free crackers) are loaded with carbs. So be cognizant of how much of these types of foods you're eating each day. (Here's a post that will explain how carbs affect weight gain.) 

4.) Calorie intake is the Holy Grail of weight loss. You've got to burn more calories than you're taking in each day to lose weight. And that's where a website called Livestrong can really help. Check out the My Plate feature, where you can enter each item of food you eat in a day and calculate the number of calories you’ve consumed. You can also enter any exercise you’ve done and it will add that into the mix. And you can enter your current weight and your weight loss goal (i.e., lose 1 pound per week) and it will calculate the number of calories it takes to achieve it. If you're honest and enter your intake every day it can really help you shed some of that insulation.

5.) Adding exercise to your mix will accelerate the process, so get up and move! Whatever you can do will not only help you burn calories, it will serve the essence of that body of yours! It was designed for activity – give it what it craves!

Veggies are the best for keeping you full while keeping the calorie count low. Fruits are great too, but keep an eye on the sugars they contain. If you've got to nibble on something, look to veggies first.

Water is great for curbing hunger. We often mistake thirst for hunger so any time you feel like to you want nibble on something, swig down 8 ounces of water first. Then see if you're really hungry.

And if you haven't already tried it, psyllium is a great jump-start for your digestive system. It can help clean out the pipes, which will help improve your current digestion.

Here's a link to an article I wrote called The Three C's of Weight Loss: Three Little Words that Can Help You Lose Weight for this weeks edition of UrbanThief. Consider it one more weapon in your weight loss arsenal.

I hope this helps those of you who would like to shrink a bit during the course of this cleanse. Here's to getting healthy – and great results!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

Woo hoo! You made it through Day 1! Quite often, it's taking the first step that's the hardest thing to do, but you did it! Congratulations!

Since it's New Year's, this is the perfect time to consider habits you'd like to break or changes you'd like to make in your life. And this 21-day period is a great time to do it. It's been said that it takes 21 days to break a habit; 21 days to learn a new own. While you're cleansing you’re going to be very mindful of what you’re eating and drinking – why not be mindful of some other aspects of your life too?

During past cleanses I've added some healthy patterns to my life that are still with me today, like drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day, skin brushing, making sure I take off my makeup and floss every night, and daily journaling. During one cleanse I even stopped playing Spider Solitaire – a habit that’s as hard to break as quitting crack cold turkey. During another I started studying Italian – I admit I've fallen off that wagon but that's because I'm revisiting French for an upcoming trip.

This time around I'm going to try to get up early enough to get my workout in before I go to work - not easy to do during these dark winter mornings when I'd rather stay curled up under the covers! I'm also going to try to get in at least 1/2 hour of French study each day. I think that's enough of a challenge for now.

What do you want to change? Maybe it’s taking 20 minutes a day to read quietly. Or doing a few sun salutations every day. Or taking a pastels or pole dancing class. Whatever your choice, take this time to do something wonderful, just for YOU!

How's everyone doing today?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spice-Crusted Tofu

Spice-Crusted Tofu

"Pantry ingredients and basic spices transform a package of tofu into a quick, simple meal - no slicing and dicing required."

3 T pine nuts
1 T paprika
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t coarse kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 14- to 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu
3 T boiling water
2 T lemon juice
4 t honey (substitute agave if you’re a staunch vegan*)
1 T extra-virgin olive

Toast pine nuts (see Tip); set aside to cool.

Mix paprika, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drain tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Cut crosswise into 8 slices, 1/2 inch thick. Dredge the tofu liberally with the spice mixture, coating all sides. Mix boiling water, lemon juice and honey in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat the bottom. Add tofu and cook on one side until brown and crusty, 4 to 5 minutes; flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the honey mixture to the pan (it will bubble up and evaporate very quickly) and shake to coat the tofu. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts.

Tip: To toast nuts & seeds on the stovetop: Toast in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serving: 206 calories; 12 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 2 g fiber; 249 mg sodium; 235 mg potassium.

*(There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not honey is vegan – some say it is; many others say it is not because it’s made by animals. I’m not a big honey person so I stay away from it. And I guess I have to side with the staunch vegans on this one. But the call is yours.)

From eatingwell.com