Striving to overcome Multiple struggles

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Okay this is not about excuses. Or – maybe it is. As the title states – I’m trying to overcome multiple struggles – in terms of healthy living, anyway. I have not been gorging myself stupid – but I haven’t been exercising or keeping to my healthy eating regime. It’s one thing to have discipline (I do have it) but it’s another to actually use it. I’ve been ignoring all the little voices – to my own detriment.

The health problems I had before I started on this journey have crept back into my existence and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained most – if not all the weight I lost, before I left my full time job to become a freelancer. Not that I’m unhappy with that decision – as I have steadily increased my profile and have several repeat customers. It’s just that I allowed myself to slip – notwithstanding my post in Feb 2016 advising that it was time to crack the whip again.

There really are no excuses, as I know that I feel better when I exercise, meditate and eat healthily. I went through quite a deep depression (which I posted about on my other blog) and I dragged myself out of it through sheer willpower. I didn’t want to lose it completely. I felt bad as my life has become less stressful with working as a freelancer – seeing as there are many out there who don’t have the luxury of being able to work from home, with a supportive partner.

I don’t know if the shift from a lifetime of deadlines, schedules and 9-5 work contributed to my feeling of being “out of it” – but I do know that I saw it happening and just let it wash over me. (If we’re honest with ourselves – this happens to all of us. The left hand does know what the right hand is doing but it takes a back seat to go along with the flow.)

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve got back on track in terms of eating healthily. Now I’m ready to get back into the exercise – no excuses. One thing that I will do is get my thyroid properly checked. I’m sure that my lack-luster weight loss (when I was being a good girl) was due to my thyroid problems and hope that a full round of tests will reveal any kinks that need to be ironed out.

So – I will continue with the healthy food (including free range, organic, low sodium, low carb etc) and will try not to get into too many fads that are a waste of time. It’s hard not to be distracted by stories about new discoveries in the healthy eating arena, but I’ll be more “common sense” before I jump in with my shoes on!

Here’s my menu for the week:

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I found that the smoothies weren’t enough in the morning. Having the toast first thing makes me full for longer, so when I get to lunch time – having my two boiled eggs followed by the smoothie – I only need a homemade granola bar in the afternoon to see me through to dinner.

I’m still making a lot of soups – which I love – as well as yummy salads. Soup and salad at night is great as I don’t get too tired before bedtime, although I think my husband is getting sick of them! Even though I bake choc chip cookies for my husband, I tend not to eat too many. It’s the salty snacks that get me every time!

One thing I noticed was that I tend to cater the weekly menu to my husband’s tastes – rather than my own. This is probably one factor which impedes my success, as the foods I really crave are spicy – and there are a multitude of spicy recipes that are healthy – I just have to make a dish or two each week to keep me interested.

I love sprinkling chili flakes on my food as well as including a spicy salsa with most meals. I’m going to make a pot of spicy lentil soup and some tandoori chicken next week. Here’s a recipe I’m going to try (from Indiamarks):

Tandoori-chicken-recipe

Tandoori Chicken Recipe
This is an authentic recipe for Tandoori chicken. It is best served with long grain/Basmati rice, onion, lemon wedges and cucumber salad and eaten with Tandoori Rotis or Naan (Indian Bread). This recipe is best if left to marinate at least 8 hours or overnight.

INGREDIENTS:
* 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces, skinned and trimmed of all visible fat
* 1/2 cup plain yogurt
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or malt vinegar
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1 tablespoon peeled and grated or crushed ginger root
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
* Vegetable oil, for brushing
* Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
* Slices of cucumber, red (Spanish) onion, tomato and lemon, for garnish

PREPARATION: Prick the flesh of the chicken all over with a fork. Then, using a sharp knife, cut slashes in the flesh to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the chicken in a nonreactive large, shallow dish.

In a nonreactive bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and salt.
Stir until well-mixed, then pour the mixture over the chicken and rub it into the flesh, turning the chicken several times. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (Do not marinate for longer than 2 days.) Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.

The chicken may be grilled or roasted. If using a charcoal grill, prepare a fire for direct-heat cooking. Position the grill rack 5 inches from the fire. Allow the coals to burn until white ash covers them and the heat is moderate.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, pressing lightly to extract excess marinade, and brush with oil. Place the chicken pieces on a well-oiled grill rack and; grill, covered, with the vents open, turning 3 or 4 times, 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when a piece is pierced near the bone with a knife.

If roasting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with oil, and cook, turning once, 25 to 30 minutes until the juices run clear when a piece is pierced near the bone with a knife.

Serve with sprigs of cilantro and slices of cucumber, red onion, tomato, and lemon.

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving (without cucumber, red onion, tomato or lemon, for garnish): 303 calories, 33 percent calories from fat, 45 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, .54 gram total fiber, 11 grams total fat, 124 milligrams cholesterol, 707 milligrams sodium.

Until next week – stay healthy and happy (and I’ll strive to do the same!)

 

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Back on Track

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Alright – it’s whip-cracking time again! I’ve been ever so naughty in the past few weeks – being haphazard in my exercise regime. Even though my weight has stabilized – and I feel like I’m still (slowly but surely) losing weight – I know that the scant exercising is affecting my health. I can feel the chest pains creeping back in, the lethargy, aches and pains – all associated with not moving enough.

I could easily say that it was all “part of the plan” – like an experiment to prove how exercise is necessary for good health – but it was all due to me just letting go of the reins. I did the occasional set of planks here and there but I’ve been slack and it’s time to get back on track.

Leaving my day job to become a full time author and freelancer was the best thing that ever happened to me – in terms of my career, mental health and happiness. It also did what happens to most of us who finally step out of the rat-race: made me feel like I can do what I want when I want – without any structure. I planned and had good intentions, but they fell by the wayside when I “reasoned” with myself that I shouldn’t have to play by the rules anymore; that I was imposing restrictions on myself – in place of the restrictions that others had placed on me when I was working a 9 – 5 job.

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The result? Feeling like I’m wandering around the desert with no boundaries. At first – I was ecstatic about having the freedom to do what I wanted – when I wanted – but therein lies the rub. It’s not about needing boundaries and structure to feel “secure” or “safe” – it’s about keeping an even pace and maintaining a steady work ethic – just as I stated before I embarked on this leg of my journey.

It’s funny how one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing – in terms of knowing and doing what is right for you. I went on automatic pilot – believing that I would achieve my goals by meandering and just feeling my way around. When it comes to my freelance work and my writing – I’m on track – getting good jobs with great feedback and completing two novels so far!

I’ve had many ideas for future projects and I’m eternally grateful for having this opportunity – after having spent many years with my nose to the grindstone, working jobs I loathed and trying my best to write with the measly amount of time I had left. I hate griping about crap that only I can be blamed for – when there are many humans and animals living in war-torn countries and dealing with horrors I can only begin to try to fathom.

That’s why I have to remind myself that – on the one hand: I am not responsible for anyone but myself – but on the other hand: elevating myself to a position where I can help others (in whatever capacity) should be a part of my goals in terms of success.

That all starts with me feeling happy and healthy enough to ensure that I can give my best – which means that charity begins in the home, as they say. When I feel better about myself – I can give back to the world a level of “service” that is more satisfactory – rather than a sloppy, half-hearted attempt – like a broken door hanging on a rusty hinge.

Okay – back unto the breaches! Today I am getting back on the elliptical for my 25 minute stint – followed by 10 x 15 second planks. I will do so every morning and will continue eating healthy foods. Luckily – the “training” over the past year has settled into my consciousness, in regards to healthy food choices and mindfulness over what goes into my body.

Now – are you ready for a Kombucha horror story? I apologize if the following picture grosses you out – but my scobies had a field day (or week) – as you can see!

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This was my second batch and I nearly fell over when I “unveiled” it on the 10th day! I’m wondering if I need to cut it in half but I’m producing enough for myself and don’t know who to “gift” the other half to. (And I’m not sure who would want it!) The two scobies joined together in unholy matrimony – and I’m worried that my kombucha tea is too strong, as it was quite tart – even acidic. However – awesome for the stomach – with the probiotics and other goodies acting like drano!

Here’s a picture of the second batch – after sliding off the monster scoby for preparation of my current batch. (Which is half natural and half blueberry!)

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Here’s a picture of the blueberry Kombucha – after three days of carbonation:Kom 3

As I stated earlier, it was a little tart, which apparently happens when you leave it to ferment longer than 7 days. (I left it for 10 days.) The longer you leave it, the more sugar the scobies eat – so therefore it’s not as sweet and becomes more tart. I’d rather tart than sweet anyway – but today I’m going to bottle my third batch – which is one day less than 10 days. Also, as the monster scoby was double the size of the original one, I put a little more sugar in – for its “food” – so we’ll see how they pan out!

Okay – here’s my menu for the week – followed by a recipe to try and make up for the shocking horror of the monster scoby!

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Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients
• 1 pound lean beef
• 1 sleeve of Crackers, crumbled
• 1 medium onion, minced
• 1/3 cup milk
• 1 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp olive oil, divided.
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 pinch allspice
• 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup sour cream
• 1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth

Step 1
Place the crackers in a medium mixing bowl with the milk and combine. Set aside.
Step 2
Heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and saute until translucent. Remove from heat. Scoop the onions out of the skillet and add to the mixing bowl.
Step 3
Add the meat, egg, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice to the bowl with onions, milk, and crackers. Mix together until well-combined.
Step 4
Using a tablespoon, scoop out equal portions of the meat mixture. Roll each scoop into a ball by rolling in the palm of your hands. Place on a cookie sheet or other large pan until ready to cook.
Step 5
Return the skillet to medium heat. Place a batch of meatballs in the saute pan. Turn to brown on all sides and continue to saute until cooked all the way through. Remove each batch from the pan and set aside. Start another batch, continuing until all of the meatballs are cooked, and setting them aside once done.
Step 6
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to skillet pan. Once warm, add flour and stir for about 1 minute to cook.
Step 7
Slowly add chicken broth to saute pan. Stir constantly until sauce thickens. Add sour cream and stir until warm. Return meatballs to pan and stir to coat. Remove from heat. Serve immediately.

I’ll post the picture next week. Until then – stay happy and healthy!

Brewing and Stewing

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I didn’t post last week (sorry!) as I was snowed in and snowed under with freelance work and getting my new novel out there. If you’re interested in a literary romance with colorful characters in a magical town – then get “The Willow Lake Group” – and let me know what you think of it. (Shameful plug – I know!)

Here’s the link: (Kindle and paperback)

The Willow Lake Group on Amazon

Here’s the book trailer (I made it myself!):

Okay – on to brewing and stewing!

I started my Kombucha tea (fermented probiotic tea – which I’ve talked about in previous posts) on Sunday 1/17/16. Here’s the “flow” – recipe is at the end.

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I bought my scoby online (live culture – like a slippery disc) – seen in the clear plastic bag in the picture above. I used a bottle of plain Kombucha for the starter and 8 black tea bags. (The recipe called for 4 black and 4 green, but I only had black.)

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The recipe calls for a total of 14 cups of water (filtered – 3.5 quarts) – so I boiled only 2 cups to start with – to reduce the wait time for the tea to steep and cool down. Before the teabags went into the hot water – I stirred in a cup of brown sugar – even though the recipe calls for white sugar. Don’t worry about the sugar content – as the scoby “eats” the majority of it by the time the tea is ready to bottle.

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Then I poured the cooled, brewed tea into a large glass bowl and topped it up with the remaining 12 cups of filtered water and the starter tea, before gently sliding the scoby in.

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I then covered the bowl with a couple of layers of paper towels and secured the cover with a rubber band. After draping one of my black tea towels over it, I put it in a dark corner of                    the counter and left it to ferment – undisturbed for a few days. (The total time for fermenting is 7 – 10 days.)

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On 1/24/16 (the 7th day) – I carefully uncovered the Kombucha to check on its progress. You can see a new scoby forming (the circle of bubbles) – with the active scoby having sunk to the bottom. I gave it a taste test but I wasn’t satisfied with the level of tartness. (Apparently – the longer it brews the less sugary it is – which is fine with me!)

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Now – I know this looks like a gross science project – but I wanted to share what the scobies looked like after 10 days of brewing/fermenting. The compact scoby on the left is the original scoby and the blob of “matter” on the right is what I pulled from the top of the tea. I nearly threw it out, until I researched it and discovered that this can be another scoby for me! (I was very careful scooping the scoby from the bottom of the bowl. Remember – it’s a live colony of bacteria! Yay!)

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So – this is what I was left with after I removed the scobies on the 10th day.

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Okay – I just had to show you one of my Pinterest fails. I followed the recipe for a concoction that’s supposed to remove labels “in a jiffy!” Being a cheap-ass, I decided to use the bottles I’d kept. After submerging them in a sink of hot water, baking soda, dishwashing liquid and white vinegar – the fizzing stopped and the labels refused to budge. I left it until morning and they still wouldn’t budge. At least the bottles were spotless and clean – ready to be filled with my Kombucha.

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So I tore and ripped what labels I could manage to remove and decided to make half the batch with lemon juice and a few rinds – and left the other half plain. The recipe makes six bottles of Kombucha (approx 16 oz each). The lemon Kombucha has a whole lemon’s worth of juice in each bottle. (You can insert other fruits if you want or ingredients such as grated ginger – at this stage.)

At the moment – my babies are hiding in a dark cupboard – for a total of three days. I bottled them on 1/28/16 – the 10th day – and have tested the “carbonation” by opening a couple to see how they fizzed. A tiny hiss could be heard – but I’ve decided to let them sit until tomorrow, before placing in the fridge to chill for approx 4 hours. The Kombucha lasts for a few weeks in the fridge, but I drink one every day – so they’ll be gone in a week – when my next batch will be ready!

This recipe has been modified from the one I found at “The Kitchn.”

Kombucha Tea

Ingredients:

3 1/2 quarts filtered water

2 cups plain Kombucha (store bought or from your previous batch)

1 cup Brown Sugar

8 bags of black tea

1 scoby

Equipment:

I large glass or ceramic bowl

Measuring jug

Funnel

Six x 16oz bottles – washed good and proper!

Method:

Bring two cups of the 14 cups (3 1/2 quarts) of filtered water to the boil, stir in the sugar and then place the tea bags in to brew. Once it’s completely cooled down, take out the teabags after squeezing them and pour into the bowl, along with the pre-made or store-bought Kombucha tea and the remaining 12 cups filtered water.

Then carefully slide the scoby onto the surface (don’t worry if it sinks) and cover with a couple of layers of paper towels and secure it with a rubber band. (You don’t have to drape a tea towel over it – I just wanted to as I wasn’t putting it in the cupboard.) Leave in a dark place – away from direct sunlight – and leave undisturbed for 7 days.

On the 7th day, gently pour some of the liquid into a cup to taste it. If you’re happy with the levels of tartness and sweetness – you’re ready to bottle. Otherwise – cover and leave for another 3 days. When you’re ready to bottle, gently take the scoby (and the new one – if it’s grown) and slide them onto a plate – to be used for the next batch (if you want to do it again. Why wouldn’t you? I know I did!)

Then pour the tea into your bottles with a funnel (this is the stage when you can place fruit etc if you like) and cap them tightly with the lids. (Leaving at least an inch of room at the top.) Place the bottles in a dark cupboard and leave for up to three days – testing occasionally for carbonation. When ready, place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours to chill – then enjoy!

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This is Vali – Thor’s sister – doing her best cutesie-pie routine. She was trying to get my attention when I was bottling (on the counter on the other side of the kitchen – where the cats don’t go – and for those who freak about animals in the kitchen: I wipe our table down every time we use it.)

Fitness update:

Yeah whatever – did it sometimes (exercised) – but still losing weight and normalizing now that I’m settling into the life of a freelancer. It’s amazing how stress had a lot to do with me overeating (at times) – essentially fighting a losing battle for a long time there – even though I was slowly losing weight.

Food update:

Mostly good – although blips on the radar included takeaway and a day of movie watching with chips and chocolate! (I ought to be spanked – really!)

Here’s a soup I made – apparently close to one of Olive Garden’s.

Zuppa Toscana

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Zuppa Toscana Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, hot or mild
4 oz bacon, diced into ½ inch pieces
1 small onion, minced
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 medium russet potatoes, skins washed and sliced thinly
1½ tsp sugar
salt and fresh ground pepper
2½ cups half and half
1 cup packed kale chopped into bite size pieces (I used Swiss Chard)
1 cup finely shredded Romano cheese for serving

Instructions
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Crumble sausage (remove casings) and cook, breaking large clumps apart, until sausage is fully cooked and browned. Add diced bacon and saute for about 5 minutes. Add onion and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Saute until the bacon is cooked through (not crunchy) and onions are soft, about 5 minutes more. (Then tip off the excess fat.)

Add the chicken broth, water, sliced potatoes, Kale or Swiss Chard, sugar, salt and pepper to the bacon/onion mixture. Bring soup just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove excess fat from the surface with a large spoon or ladle. Stir in the half and half. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cheese over individual servings. Garnish with seasoned croutons if desired. Serve.

Mars

Chicken Masala

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
3 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms (I only used approx 11 oz of Shitake)
⅓ cup Marsala wine
½ cup Swanson 88% fat-free chicken broth (I used chicken stock since it was all I had on hand)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl and lightly dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess. Reserve the remaining flour to use later.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of the butter and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil to the pan and swirl the pan until the butter has melted. Add the chicken and cook until slightly golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking dish and place in the oven to keep warm. (Preheated to moderately hot.)

Add the remaining ½ tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until soft and golden, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and a pinch of black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the reserved 1 teaspoon of flour and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the Marsala wine, chicken broth, and parsley.

Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet with the mushrooms, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer in the sauce to let the flavors blend, about 4 to 5 minutes.

To serve, put a piece of chicken on each of 4 serving plates. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce evenly over the top, and serve hot.

Spirit Update:

Okay – for those of you who know that I re-dedicated myself to the pagan path on Halloween last October, I’d like to share some interesting developments and observations.

At the time, I was still working for the State and stressed to the max. I called on Kali (to help cut my negativity) and Ganesha (to help with my writing career). Even though I lean towards atheism or at least – agnosticism – I understand how ritual and visualization speaks to the subconscious, in order to program ourselves for whatever purpose.

Over the next few weeks, certain “anomalies” became known to me. Whether or not it was wishful thinking – the following occurred:

  • I inadvertently swapped my handbags out – switching to my black leather satchel that has a skull design on the front. After a couple of weeks I realized the connection to Kali.
  • Elephants became prominent in my web searches, TV and movie watching, etc.
  • My energy stabilized and I conducted myself well when dealing with “snakes in the grass.”
  • My husband advised that he was earning enough for me to leave my job in early December ’15 – so we made plans and I handed in my resignation on 12/21/15. I’d already started picking up freelance work, so the transition was almost seamless.
  • I started getting reviews for my books and people coming out of the woodwork – willing to help with promoting me and my work.
  • I have repeat customers with my freelance work – with great feedback

and many more that I can’t think of right now. (I’ll update next week!)

Okay – I’m done! Catch up next week and until then – stay happy and healthy!

An Authentic Life

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People have been going on for ages talking about living the authentic life. As soon as you hear it, you either think of it in terms of spirituality or as a call to action – to shrug off your old skin and reveal your true purpose in life. Sometimes it’s both. Other times – you want to bitch-slap the easy/breezy mouth it comes out of – as you’re taking it as an indictment against your own “run-of-the-mill”, boring, “inauthentic” existence.

The first time I heard the phrase – a light bulb went off in my head. I can’t remember if it was Oprah, Dr Phil or some other self-styled Guru – but I felt it deep in my solar plexus. Having always felt like a traitor – working in jobs that sapped my energy and precious time (notwithstanding the fact that all jobs are vital when it comes to paying the bills and putting food on the table!) – the concept of living an authentic life appeared to me as the Holy Grail.

I do believe that in essence – even when working a job until we find the job – most of us are still striving to be as authentic as we can be, whether as honest individuals or being true to ourselves and our desires. For the most part, we spend a lot of our time living up to other’s expectations, like a mouse on a wheel – keeping things going for the sake of our families and to keep the “status quo.”

The idea of living the dream and making a crust doing what we love is foreign to most of us. There’s something solid about a “proper” job, where we can count on a steady income and not have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. (And that’s for those of us who aren’t living on the breadline!)

Some of us don’t even entertain the concept of making money outside of a traditional job – especially when it means going it alone and becoming self-employed – utilizing our skills and turning our hobbies and passions into a livelihood.

I’ve seen and heard many people react in a variety of ways when in the presence of someone talking about breaking free and making it on their own. They tend to huddle together and nearly hiss in protest, making statements such as:

“Oh, it’s nice for some, isn’t it?”

“The bills still need to be paid.”

“It’ll never work – too much competition.”

“I need a steady wage – I couldn’t possibly chuck it all in!”

“Well, it’s fine to be a dreamer, but who’s going to pick up the pieces when you fail?”

I could go on and on – as I’ve heard it many times before. I’ve worked in many industries – in factories, in corporate offices, in nursing homes and fast food. Every job I held was of course necessary at the time, but in my spare time I was writing and researching – honing my skills – as I knew that one day (even if it meant when I retired), I would be a full time author.

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I’m one of the lucky ones, who has a partner working a job that could back me up if I’m ever short. (Although I’ve planned my finances carefully so I don’t have to lean on him.) Some of us are single parents (I was for a long time), so the luxury of drifting into the sunset – following our hearts – seems like a frivolous pursuit, at best.

Some of us are struggling even with both partners working – sometimes two or more jobs – just to keep a roof over our heads and food in our children’s stomachs. Then there’s college fees, health insurance, gas, etc. The idea of living an authentic life seems like a slap to the face, when just breathing and keeping our heads above water is the main focus each and every day.

It all boils down to three things:

  1. Can you make money doing what you love?
  2. Can you plan and organize a strategy to cover all contingencies?
  3. Can you set realistic goals and recognize when it’s not working?

The best back-up plan is to have a job waiting in the wings – in case you need to crawl back. (I don’t have this – but I’m confident that I could find a job within a couple of weeks of realizing that my plan’s not working.)

The biggest fear for anyone breaking free and going it alone – is just that. In a traditional job we have structure – which is usually set for us – by business imperatives and operational requirements. We know when our paycheck’s are coming and we know that we can rely on the security and stability that comes with a “normal” job.

But if we really think about it – no job is ever 100% secure. The bottom could fall out from any market at any time. Even if the company is secure – our position within it might not be. At best – when the chips are down – there’s redeployment or reduced hours, to name a couple. At worst – we could be let go – even if there’s every likelihood that we’ll be called back at a later date.

For me, the bottom line was not wanting to continue dragging my feet every day to a job that meant nothing to me. Pretending to care about new initiatives and office politics – especially when coupled with unsavory people and work practices – was soul destroying, to say the least. I’ve known for a long time that I have what it takes to succeed – even as an author. It was the idea of letting go – venturing out of a self-imposed comfort zone that masqueraded as “security” – that kept me locked up and gritting my teeth.

It’s daunting – to finally make the decision to leave a traditional job. I kept thinking of the Tarot card “The Fool” – feeling very much like the boy about to step off a cliff.

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I’d like to report – however – that things are looking better and better, thanks to Outsource and Upwork (where I get my freelancing jobs from) as well as my dogged perseverance and some opportunities that may not have come along, had I still been working 9-5.

A previous employer has asked if I would be interested in doing some occasional writing on a contractual basis, for things such as bids for funding, ideas for programs, etc. (Thanks Linkedin!) Also, a couple of the freelance jobs have turned into ongoing work and future opportunities, as well as the sales of my books increasing.

I received a lovely review for my erotic novel, “The Ninth Window”.

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You can buy it here (if you’re so inclined!):

The Ninth Window by Kelly Proudfoot

 

Now, let me fill you in on how my “regime” has been going. (I promise I won’t use Gif images! I know I can be random sometimes!)

I’ve been freelancing for nearly two weeks now and I can safely say that I’ve been slack with the exercise. I haven’t been feeling too good, but that’s no excuse. It’s a two edged sword when you stop something that’s good for you – even if it’s due to being ill – as it compounds how bad you already feel. I am getting back on track this week and will forge ahead.

  • 25 minutes per day on the elliptical
  • 10 x 15 second reps of planking
  • Healthy Smoothies when I’m craving ice cream or sweets
  • Eggs as a morning snack
  • Kombucha tea (probiotic)
  • Zero carbs after 3pm
  • Only two slices of bread or six crackers per day
  • Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic)
  • Lots of soups and healthy casseroles, etc
  • Homemade where possible – such as granola bars, etc
  • If eating out – healthier options

I’ve been steadily losing weight but with the last two weeks – I feel like I could easily slip back to my old ways. Being at home all day actually makes it easier for me – in terms of avoiding fast food and not being sucked into eating wonderful snacks and treats brought into work by colleagues! Also, I’m not the type of person who will go out and get a burger etc if I’m at home.

This weekend I am going to start making my own Kombucha tea! My poor scobie keeps looking at me through the package with its hands on its little hips! I will take pictures and post them over the next few weeks.

I decided to ditch the gluten free bread – unless I find one that isn’t made from rice. (Rice shoots your sugar up considerably – whether brown, white or otherwise.) I really don’t want to eat gluten, as it’s one of the problems affecting my thyroid and it clogs my plumbing! Also – I found gluten-free bread quite unsatisfactory – being at least a third smaller than regular bread and quite dry (almost like a dried out sponge.)

I made Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk – quite delicious and tender. (Although I did mine in the crock pot – after browning it – for about 3.5 hours on high.)

JOCIM

Click for recipe

I’m going to try this recipe – apparently it’s Chuy’s Salsa – which I love!

Salsa

Ingredients:

6 or 7 tomatoes
1/3 white onion
2 or 3 serrano peppers
Huge handful of cilantro
1 or 2 limes, squeezed
salt to taste
Optional: garlic powder to taste
Optional: 1 small mango, peeled and seeded

Method:

Start chopping or throw it in the food processor. If you have a food processor, give everything except the cilantro a rough chop before tossing into the processor. Use the pulse button, and watch closely. It takes just a few seconds, and if you let it go too long, it will be pureed. Taste, and adjust as needed.

Link to recipe

Here’s an interesting image re: Sugar content –

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I haven’t done my menu plan yet – I’ll try and post it tomorrow.

Until then – Stay healthy and Happy!

One Step Beyond! (On Leaving the Rat Race)

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(From Madness – “One Step Beyond” film clip)

I loved Madness when I was younger – especially the song “One Step Beyond” – which seems appropriate now that I’m free from the rut I found myself in, working in a lackluster job where I was slowly dying inside. Stress was the number one factor in my decision to leave, but it helped that our situation allows for it.

Seeing the Madness gif brought back memories, when I was younger and had such high hopes for the future. Ageing can be bittersweet – when you realize that most of your dreams got lost in the static of everyday life and trying to make a living. (For some – simply surviving  and putting one foot ahead of the other can be a daunting experience.)

Family life, responsibilities and trying to fit into a society where you already feel like a fringe-dweller can take most of your time – if not all of it. That’s why it was such a momentous occasion for me to shrug off the shackles of a 9-5 job and immerse myself in my writing and freelance gigs.

So – how did I spend my first week (well – four days) of “freedom”? For one thing, I completed an erotic novel (something I’d shelved) and am waiting for it to be approved on Amazon! (Don’t judge me – at least until you read it!)

TNWCover

(This is my “tentative” cover!)

It’s called “The Ninth Window” – and it’s about nine women with one thing in common. (A secret until the end!) They share their intimate tales with Louise – a counselor who runs a writing workshop they’ve all attended. When it’s discovered that Louise “piked out” and did not contribute a story to the group – she is given two weeks to come up with one – and it’s a doozy! (Especially when her husband finds it!)

It should be available by 1/11/15 – in Kindle format – on Amazon for $2.99. If you plan to read it – I’d love it if you could leave a review on Amazon – even if it’s good, bad or ugly!

I’m about to start my ghostwriting job (found at Outsource) and finish my novel “The Willow Lake Group” – which is about a literary group in a mysterious town, where a young man falls in love with a woman’s handwriting – only to “lose” the woman to another new guy in town. (Hilarity ensues – along with heartache!) There are many fascinating characters, twists and turns – along with a magical cookbook!

It’s so strange being out of work – deliberately – or at least, to leave the “rat race” and be my own boss. If you saw last week’s post, you witnessed me at my best – in terms of planning and organizing. I’m an incessant (obsessive) “list-maker” and everything always looks great on paper until it’s time for execution. Even though I completed and polished a novel – I’ve spent a lot of time taking naps.

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Robert predicted that I would probably crash – and I did – in batches. It’s amazing how pent up stress, anguish, depression and anxiety (especially when related to your work) can take a huge toll on your physical and mental health. You don’t realize it when you’re in the thick of it – but once you step outside of it – the maelstrom appears like a menacing storm-cloud, which hovers over your head just waiting to absorb you and infect your life.

As a side note, my manager tried to argue with me about my reasons for wanting to leave – rather than take me aside and openly discuss my concerns. I’d written a simple resignation letter – with a “Part B” as backup – in case they really wanted feedback. They asked – I gave it to them – all five pages. I was impressed with myself for not using any expletives!

She tried to tell me that “all jobs involve stress” and that I’d left my previous job due to stress – hinting that maybe I was the problem. I had to correct her (politely) by stating that I left my previous job due to the constant onslaught of face to face contact with marginalized welfare recipients. It can be a rewarding job, but also terribly and highly stressful – especially when you’re case managing 160+ people, most of whom are doing their best not to participate or even worse, who believe that yelling and threatening is the only form of communication.

Secondly (unlike my manager) I have worked across a variety of industries throughout my career – public and private – and have always worked well under stressful conditions. The everyday stress of trying to get work done is of no issue to me. Trying to do the same thing under management that is akin to either the Keystone Cops or the Three Stooges – coupled with the burden of performing the work of at least two to three people – makes the stress just a tad more unbearable. Throw in a snake in the grass sociopath who enjoys lording it over people, relentless phone calls and emails when everyone has been allowed to go on leave at the same time – with a panic-merchant of a manager who operates as a knee-jerk reactionary at the eleventh hour, well – you get the idea.

I had to keep reminding myself over the last few weeks that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m fast approaching fifty (gulp!) and it’s now time for me to finally take the reins and forge my own path. No more knuckle-headed dimwits to have to deal with. No more endless paper shoving and pen pushing in a sterile environment where punchy keywords and pseudo-intellectual catchphrases are used in place of realistic, concrete goals and actual outcomes.

No more pretentious backslapping or kowtowing to “leaders” who are only concerned with empire building and peacocking.

I know that it seems as though I’m “purging” or exorcising my demons – but I’ve had a whole lifetime’s worth of horseshit to deal with in my “career” – just like most of the rest of us. The funny thing is – I was the common denominator. I made those decisions to accept those jobs and it was my consciousness (or rather – my “self”) who dictated how I experienced them and the people I dealt with.

I’m just grateful that I was able to see the light and strike while the iron was hot – backed up by the support of my husband. When opportunity knocks – grab it by the hand and don’t let go. It would’ve been easy for me to freak out and opt for the tried and true path – which was the “stable” job in the conventional world. I would’ve ended up even more bitter if I had stayed!

So – now I’ll give you an update on my “healthy regime” – with a series of gifs to illustrate how my week went (like an 80’s montage or interpretive dance!):

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nom-funny-messy

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Okay – it’s 12:59am and I tired myself out!

I’ll post some recipes on Sunday. See you then!

A New Life Awaits

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Well, I promised that I’d share my great news this week – then I wondered if I should wait until the new year, but that would be cruel (if anyone cares!)

It’s something I’ve been wanting to do my whole adult life and due to a variety of factors – I am finally in a position where I can GIVE UP MY DAY JOB and FOCUS ON MY WRITING CAREER!

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That’s right – I’ve handed in my resignation and my last day worked will be 1/4/16. I know it’s a Monday, but I thought I might as well get my paid holidays. I have four more work days until then, which I know will drag – but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Two major things have paved the way for this momentous occasion: my husband getting a better paying job and my discovery of freelance work. I didn’t want to rely on him for my “pocket money” – not that we’re rich by any stretch of the imagination. (We keep joking that one day I will be earning enough as an author for him to be able to stay home, wear fluffy slippers and eat bon-bons all day!)

I have ten writing projects (my own) that I plan to complete by the end of 2016, which is a mix of fiction, non-fiction, articles, short-stories, poetry and even a cookbook (which is related to one of my projects: “The Willow Lake Group” – to be released early 2016.)

I currently have two freelance jobs I’m working on – found at:

https://outsource.com/

One is a Ghost writing gig and another is data entry. Together they total $700 in earnings for me – with many more to come. I have a lot to be grateful for and I’m going to make the most of it, by planning carefully and ensuring that I don’t have to beg my husband for money. (Even though he’d be more than happy to help – there’s a side to me that wants to make sure that I don’t become a “kept-woman”.)

What’s also going to be better for me is ensuring that I do have the time for proper diet and exercise. No more excuses about lack of time or motivation, etc. Even though I’ve been mostly good – trying to cut out gluten, soy and anti-thyroid foods among the other no-no’s – I’ve been a bit slack with the exercise.

Funnily enough – the holiday period hasn’t affected my eating regime a bit. We had a simple Christmas dinner (just Robert and I) – with roast pork-loin and veggies – done in the slow-cooker. I’ve been able to stay away from ice-cream but have had some chocolate here and there.

Making my own granola bars, eating eggs when hungry in between breakfast and lunch as well as having Green smoothies and Kombucha tea, I feel a lot “cleaner”.

I’m going to be making my own Kombucha tea next week. I bought a Scobie – the starter for the Kombucha tea – and have saved my bottles, so I’m looking forward to making my own healthy, probiotic drinks – which will save money too. ($3.00 plus per 16 oz drink is becoming a bit much!)

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The following info about the Scoby is from this wonderful website:

http://www.thekitchn.com

(“SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar.

The scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar.)

I’m also hoping to be growing our own herbs and veggies next year – so we’ll see how that goes!

I made a nice dish with turkey balls – creating Shasliks/Gyro’s – along with peppers, zucchinis and onions:

Shasliks

I mixed the mince turkey with onion, garlic, parsley, an egg and some seasoning, then formed them into balls and carefully slid them onto the skewers – alternating with the veggies and grilling for about seven minutes each side. I didn’t put any breadcrumbs in the mince – which I usually do.

They were delicious and so easy! Also – looked a lot like Christmas!

I have already planned how my days will go once I leave my job, as I will continue to get up early and prepare for my days as though going to a full time job. Even though I won’t have to dress up or commute, I’m going to keep up a schedule and stick to it. My work day will start at 8am and I will “knock off” at 4pm – still allowing myself an hour for lunch.

I hope to be able to focus on my freelance work in the mornings and switch to my own writing projects in the afternoon. When 4pm hits, I will start preparing dinner and do a little housework. After dinner I will continue with my writing (which will also continue to include promoting and marketing) and will endeavor to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

I will treat the weekends as my free time – but won’t feel so stressed with having to get back into the daily grind on Monday morning, in terms of getting ready and travelling to work. I know that I’ll continue writing on the weekends as I love it and won’t be able to help myself anyway!

The first week will be dedicated to getting the house in order so I won’t have much to do on a daily basis the following week. I will also be going to the bank to open a separate account for my freelance earnings, as I’ll need to make sure I keep proper records for tax, etc. I will be putting back at least 20% each month – just in case.

I had to get smart and start a proper budget spreadsheet, making sure that every dollar is accounted for. With my final pay (which includes holiday pay and earnings from freelance work so far) I’m covered up until the end of February. I just need to make sure I keep the work lined up – which shouldn’t be a problem – as there’s plenty of work on Outsource – as well as:

https://www.upwork.com/

and:

https://www.fiverr.com/

This is a very exciting time for me and a milestone that’s been a long time coming. I’ll be posting some dreams I’ve been having on my Collective Unconscious blog soon – which all pointed to this momentous occasion!

As a side note, I don’t want you to think that I’m rubbing your noses in my happiness, as I wish the same if not better for you all. If I can do this – so can you – with or without a supportive partner. Of course, it makes a difference to have that kind of safety net, but the freelance work is out there just waiting to be picked up. I’m kicking myself for not getting into it sooner!

Here’s my menu plan for next week:

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Until then, stay happy and healthy!

 

 

The Negative impact of Stress

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I think stress and lack of sleep are two big factors in maintaining your health and weight loss. Without giving too much away (as I’m still employed – for the moment!) we’ve had a lot of spot fires to put out due to lack of staff and absences, so my workload has increased – to say the least!

I am already doing my old job as well as someone else’s job  and recent events have revealed that there is a lot of backlog and errors to complete. It also doesn’t help when phone calls, emails and people continue interrupting with questions and crises – forcing me to switch focus and re-prioritize every 5 – 10 minutes!

Throw on top of that certain personalities who range from Mild irritant to Machiavellian and Passive Aggressively Sarcastic – then you can only obtain a glimpse into my work day. It’s very hard to plow through old work when new work continues streaming in, which is why I’m grateful for a couple of people who are helping – and others who came forth yesterday.

It’s also difficult to retain your composure when you are talked down to, while you’re spinning plates and trying to get work done which isn’t even yours. This sounds like whining, but I assure you it’s not. Anyway – I’ll talk more about stress in the workplace in a future post. Now I want to discuss how the situation has affected my health over the past week.

As I stated in my last post, I was all gung-ho about forging ahead with my regime – but I found myself exhausted when I got home every night – even after having a nap on the bus on the way home. I was only averaging 5 hours sleep per night and didn’t have time to exercise in the mornings due to still being exhausted when I woke up. I cooked two nights, got rotisserie chicken one night, then burgers another night.

The other night is a blur. I feel puffy and bloated, tired and short-tempered – as I’m barely holding my temper in. At work yesterday – after an annoying meeting and continued stress – I felt my chest continuously grow into a gnarled fist. By the time I walked out of the door I was a ball of rage.

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Apparently desk rage is steadily on the rise, as workers are often feeling like they need to repress the building anger and despair over being trapped in a futile job, where they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I did many things to try and relieve the pressure, like listening to music on the way to work and at night, short meditations and breathing exercises – when I had the chance – in the bathroom!

My breakfasts and lunches were still healthy but the cumulative effect of it all crashing down became too much. So, I’ve made a decision – one which I’ll reveal next week – where I will finally achieve one of the greatest desires I’ve had for most of my adult life.

I’m going to keep this post short, as I have started freelancing and have a job to complete. (Part of my surprise!) Here’s a link about de-stressing with food and alternative healing:

Alternative Healing and Stress

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According to MyDomain.com – Here’s what you should reach for the next time you’re hungry and stressed:

  1. Leafy green vegetables
  2. Turkey breast
  3. Oatmeal
  4. Yogurt
  5. Salmon
  6. Blueberries
  7. Pistachios
  8. Dark chocolate
  9. Milk
  10. Seeds
  11. Avocado
  12. Cashews

Link: http://www.mydomaine.com/stress-reducing-foods

I am going to try and catch up on my sleep this weekend (even though “they” say that you can never actually catch up on sleep) and I will make time for healthy eating and exercise. Like Robert told me, if they’re already getting to you, why would you allow it to keep going after hours? It’s like doing the punishing for them!

Until next week, stay happy, healthy – and Merry Christmas!

 

 

A plan worth sticking to!

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I know that I said previously that I didn’t have time to post an update on Shapeshifting – due to promoting and marketing my new book “Totem Shift” (Storming Archives – Book 3)  – but I thought I’d do a quick one here to let you all know how I’ve finally found the healthy eating plan I was looking for!

After months of researching, deliberating, trial and error – I’ve discovered the plan that works for me. Here it is in a nutshell:

Food and Ex plan

The three main things that I feel have made a difference are:

Eggs, Green Smoothies and Probiotics.

Including getting up earlier to exercise, prep my smoothie and lunch for the day, eggs have made the most difference – especially when it comes to my voracious appetite. As soon as I’ve eaten the eggs – I’m satiated – right up until lunch time. I even find that I take a later lunch some days, seeing as my appetite has been quelled by the eggs.

(If I don’t feel like seeds for an afternoon snack, I have celery sticks and Baba Ghanoush.)

I’ve become an avid fan of green smoothies, although I still love my fruit smoothies, so I’m alternating every day.

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At the moment – I’m making two different types of Green Smoothies. Here are the recipes:

Kelly’s Creamy Greens

Large handful of spinach

Small handful of curly leaf parsley

One inch of fresh ginger – chopped roughly

One avocado – peeled and chopped

One cup coconut Milk

Two tbsp Tahini (raw, unsalted, organic)

Two tbsp Flaxseed meal

Blend (I used my immersion blender) spinach, parsley, ginger and Coconut milk first. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Kelly’s Spicy Greens

Large handful of spinach

Small handful of curly leaf parsley

One inch of fresh ginger – chopped roughly

Half cup fresh pineapple

One cup Coconut water

Two tbsp Tahini (raw, unsalted, organic)

Two tbsp Flaxseed meal

Two – Three pinches of Cayenne pepper (Suit yourself)

Blend spinach, parsley, ginger, pineapple and Coconut water first. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

You could mix it up or change the amounts for your own tastes – but I found them wonderful!

I’ve discovered probiotic drinks and Kumbacha tea. OMG!! Delicious and nutritious! Soon I will endeavor to make my own Kumbacha tea – when I can get past my squeamish reaction to using Scobys! (Live bacteria). I thought I was looking at a fleshy jellyfish!

Here are two I particularly enjoyed:

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I drank this on the way home from shopping last week – nearly ran off the road. Talk about an energy shot – I was electrified and felt like doing backflips by the time I got home. So delicious!!!

http://kevita.com/

Also:

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I’m a lemon freak so I haven’t tried their other flavors. I drank it at work and everyone thought I was drinking alcohol! Refreshing and delicious – I felt better as soon as I started drinking it.

http://www.mybucha.com/

Here’s a link to an article about how probiotics help you lose weight – especially belly fat:

http://authoritynutrition.com/probiotics-and-weight-loss/

After only one week of following this regime – I can actually tell that I’ve lost weight. My belly is noticeably smaller (I’m sure that the planking helps) and I feel so much healthier. I’m not saying that this regime is for everyone – but I’m pretty positive that with a bit of tweaking to suit yourselves – you’re bound to lose weight and feel so much better.

How thankful I am that – after all these months – I’ve finally drilled it down to a workable plan that shows results. Along with not eating added carbs after lunch ( I mean bread, pasta, rice, cookies, crackers, cakes etc) and avoiding crap like High Fructose Corn Syrup, it seems like I’ve found a perfect solution to my weight loss and healthy lifestyle issues.

The smoothies seem to squash my craving for sweets, but if I feel a slight “twinge” at night – I make a mug of hot coconut milk. Here’s my recipe:

One cup of Coconut Milk

2 pinches of Nutmeg (You could have Cinnamon)

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the nutmeg. Heat on high, stirring occasionally until just before it boils. Take off the heat and pour into your mug.

Wonderful!

Here’s my menu for next week: (Some meals are from last week as I changed my mind about a few dishes)

Menu 112815

I just want to mention the chance to receive “Totem Shift” on Kindle Scout again:

Totem_Shift

“Totem Shift” is live at #KindleScout!

Your vote = free copy if picked up by #KindlePress #Kindle

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/KEW3HB1SKO25

Also – get Book 1 and 2 of The Storming Archives

for free until midnight 11/23/15!

Freeby

and

Until next week – stay healthy and happy!

 

Cracking the Whip

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Photo courtesy of Legendary Classic on Flickr

I started last week with good intentions – more planking but less elliptical – with smoothies every morning, boiled eggs for mid-morning snacks and brought my lunch in to work (at least for 2 days!) On the other 2 days, I ate out with colleagues (ate good food, for the most part) – but we had takeaway for 2 nights as well. It wasn’t a total wash-out but I feel bad for it.

I was like a petulant child – bucking against my self-imposed regime and shrugging my shoulders in defiance. I had a bad toothache for two days and became cranky – which was an excuse I used for not wanting to cook. What fed into my petulant attitude, was that I’d bought two pairs of boots (online – as I just can’t find what I like in the local stores) – and they didn’t fit my muscly calves!

Robert told me that it was probably due to working out on the elliptical – which is fine as I like that exercise – but I was annoyed with my calves. It wasn’t until I realized that I could get the zips up when I was standing. Sitting down made my calves bigger – somehow! Anyway – it’s time to get back into it and bring back the willpower. (At least I can see that the planking is working – and I still enjoy them – but I need to increase my time from 20 seconds per plank to 25 next week.)

One of the things I researched was inflammation, as I’d been dealing with intermittent, low-grade fevers. The other thing that piqued my interest was adrenal health. I realized that some of the symptoms related to me, like: low energy, fuzzy brain and lack of concentration. It was also interesting to read how adrenal fatigue can negatively affect your weight. Here’s a great link:

http://familyhomeandhealth.com/2015/02/heal-adrenal-glands-lose-weight-no-dieting-needed.html

I was a bit perturbed about the statement re: exercising working against you, but I don’t think I exercise too much, so it’s probably not directed at me.

Two great sites with great info on adrenal rescue:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/340770-foods-that-heal-adrenal-glands/

http://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/adrenal-fatigue-diet/

I did discover that certain foods are good for adrenal health, such as:

  • Bone Broth
  • Seaweed
  • Fermented drinks

Here’s a recipe I’m going to try to help heal the adrenals:

(found here: http://www.drscottlittle.com/uncategorized/how-and-why-to-make-beet-kvass/)

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Beet Kvass

1-2 medium sized beets, sea salt, purified water, whey, and a quart jar. (Whey is optional)

1) Chop up your beets into 1/2 inch cubes. (Peeled or unpeeled)

2) Put them in a quart jar with about 1 Tbs. sea salt.

3) Fill the rest of the jar with water, put the lid on, mix it up a little, then set it on your counter or in a dark area, at room-temperature, for a few days (3 or so). After 3 days, you may drain the kvass and either make another batch using the same beets, or just shred them and put them on a salad.

4) Place the drained kvass in a container and refrigerate. It will be ready to drink in a day or so, but best if let to continue to sit for a few more days, or weeks.

Drink 4-8 oz. per day, and don’t be surprised if your your urine and feces are purple.

I also read that a coffee enema is good for de-toxifying your body. The thought of a speedy poop-shute frightens me – so I might leave that until last! I am determined to clean myself up a bit – from the other end – especially since inflammation is an issue for me and apparently is the number one killer in the world!

I’m going to incorporate Turmeric in my diet – as well as other foods that are supposed to be good for fighting inflammation. (I was happy to see that I already eat a lot of the foods they mentioned.) Here’s a recipe I found for:

Anti-Inflammatory Ginger Turmeric Tea

For 1 cup of water use 1/3 tsp ground turmeric and 1/3 tsp ginger, (or 1 tsp each if fresh and grated)

Add raw honey to taste, and a slice of lemon if you want.

Preparation

In a small saucepan, bring water to boil. Add fresh grated turmeric and ginger, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. If using ground turmeric and ginger, boil for about 5 minutes. Then strain the tea and add the honey and lemon to taste.

“In order to increase turmeric absorption in the body (studies have revealed that turmeric has low absorption and rapid metabolism that lead to relatively low bioavailability in the body), once the tea is ready, you need to add a little bit of fat to the tea, such as a teaspoon of coconut oil or flaxseed oil for example. Another option is to add a little bit (1/4-1/2 tsp) of black pepper that contains piperine which aids the absorption of curcumin.”

Once the tea is ready, add the coconut oil or black pepper to increase turmeric absorption.

How much and how often

“There are no official dosing instructions exist for ginger and turmeric tea. You can drink 1 cup of it on days you feel extra achy.”

Side effects

“Although these herbs are considered safe and without significant side effects when used appropriately by adults, each may interact with certain prescription medications. For example both may not be safe if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning drugs. Therefore talk with your doctor before deciding if one or both herbs might be useful for your situation. Also taking these herbs by mouth in medicinal amounts is likely unsafe in pregnant and breastfeeding women.”

Original recipe and info found here:

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Click for link

I’m going to incorporate this into my morning routine, as a warm drink in the morning – even just lemon and warm water – can get your organs moving and help you get into the day with a spring in your step. Here’s another recipe from a great site for Green Smoothies – which I will also be doing.

Morning Tonic

“Hot water and lemon in the morning is one of the best things that you can do for your digestion. The lemon not only promotes alkalinity in the body, but kick-starts the liver into action for the day, encouraging the release of digestive fluids. Adding the cayenne and ginger not only bring warmth to the tummy, but also boost the metabolism and circulation. Parsley is an optional add on to add some extra alkalinity and nutrients.”

INGREDIENTS
1 cup filtered water
1-inch fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp Turmeric
Fresh parsley (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Add sliced ginger, lemon juice and hot water to a mug.
3. Pour hot water into the mug and allow to steep for 3 minutes.
4. Add a dash of cayenne, and parsley (if using).

They have a great recipe book for smoothies and detoxing:

http://rawkstarmarketplace.com/

I also discovered that 1-2 glassed of red wine helps with inflammation – but if you drink more than that each day, it actually worsens inflammation!

I’m going to increase my B group vitamins, to help battle inflammation – but when I checked all the foods I’d need to eat (some I already eat) – I realized I’d be eating all the time or hard pushed to incorporate all of them without raising sugar levels. Then I remembered Vegemite – which is rich in B group vitamins – so I’ll be tucking into that, taking notice of the amount I use as it’s quite salty. Leafy green salads, garlic, ginger, zinc, magnesium and protein will also help.

I looked into the glycemic indexes of fruits and found out that you should really keep the count under 11. (A banana has a score of 11 – and I mix it with other berries in my fruit smoothies – so I freaked a little. The total measurement for my smoothies is a cup of fruit – so I may have to re-think my amounts!)

Fruits with low G.I. are:

  • Limes and Strawberries (count = 1 for 120 grams)
  • Lemons and Apricots (count = 1 for 120 grams)
  • Watermelon (count = 4 for 120 grams)
  • Blueberries (count = 5 for 120 grams)
  • Apples and Pineapple (count = 6 for 120 grams)
  • Prunes (count = 10 for 60 grams)
  • Grapes (count = 11 for 120 grams)

Here’s the site for more info:

http://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/fruits-lowest-glycemic-load/

I took one photo of the food I made last week, which was a scrumptious Normandy Pork Casserole. I don’t want to include the photo here as it wasn’t flattering. (I guess last week was a total wash-out!)

Here’s the recipe:

Normandy Pork Casserole

Ingredients

• 50g (2oz) butter
• 1kg (2lb 4oz) shoulder of free-range 
British pork, cubed
• 200g (7oz) lardons or chunky streaky bacon, chopped
• 16 shallots, peeled and left whole
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 celery sticks, chopped
• 300ml (½pt) dry cider
• 300ml (½pt) chicken stock
• 6tbsp half-fat crème fraîche (or half and half)
• 2tbsp cornflour mixed with 2tbsp water
• 2tbsp Dijon mustard
• 2tbsp fresh tarragon leaves

you will need:

• large, flameproof casserole dish
Preparation
1. Heat the oven to 170 C, 150 C fan, 325 F, gas 3. Heat half the butter in the casserole dish, add half the pork, season and fry for about 10 minutes until thoroughly browned. Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the rest of the butter to the casserole and fry the rest of the pork for 10 minutes until evenly browned.
2. Meanwhile, in another pan, dry-fry the lardons until crispy. Remove, set aside, then fry the shallots, onion and celery for a few minutes, to soften slightly.
3. Combine all the pork, the lardons, shallots, onion and celery in the casserole. Pour over the cider and chicken stock to cover. Cover the dish and cook in the oven for 2 hours until the pork is tender.
4. Add the crème fraîche, cornflour mix, mustard and tarragon to the pan. Heat on the hob and stir until the sauce has thickened slightly

Here’s my menu for next week:

Menu 112115

Until next week, stay healthy and happy!

Clearing a path out of the Haze

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After a great weekend, I pulled a muscle in my back on Sunday while doing housework and cooking. I didn’t know it until I sat down after it was all done (I’d been going for six and a half hours!) When I went to get up – I was like a pretzel. I walked like I was trying to transform into a question mark and my back was killing me. I suspect that it was due to an older injury which I’d sustained using the ab roller. In any case – it was so painful that I took two days off work and tried different things – like the heating pad, Icy Hot spray, ibuprofen, massage, hot showers etc. On Tuesday I went to the docs and got a shot. It cleared up – but then I felt like I was getting sick again, with fevers and feeling like crap.

I did my best to continue exercising but could only manage planks (still 10 reps of 20 seconds each) and little bursts on the elliptical – due to sleeping in and not having enough time. I slid backwards a little – in regards to food. We had take-out two nights and on Thursday we had an all-staff meeting where lunch and snacks were provided. I did discover that having eggs for breakfast helped stave off the hunger and that smoothies just couldn’t cut it. So I’m having a smoothie every now and then as a snack – once per day, every other day.

Last night I came home feeling like I was going to collapse. (According to the doc, allergies and viruses have been on the increase, but he tested me and found that at least I don’t have the flu.) After crashing into bed and sleeping for a few hours, I got up starving, so Robert kindly ventured out and got me some kind of a Jalapeno burger. It was awesomely delicious – but I had to try not to think about the carbs, salt, fat etc. I watched some t.v. for a while and went back to bed. When I woke up this morning I felt a lot better – with little to zero fevers! Then it dawned on me. Chili peppers have anti-septic qualities.

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I love spicy food – so it will be a no-brainer for me to include it in my cooking, although Robert doesn’t like it too spicy. Without having to cook separate meals, I will simply make my own relish to use as a condiment – or will marinate my meats with chilies etc.

According to Webmd.com:

“…Peppers have a lot going for them. They’re low in calories and are loaded with good nutrition. All varieties are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Plus, the spicy ones liven up bland food, making it more satisfying…Green peppers are harvested earlier, before they have a chance to turn yellow, orange, and then red. Compared to green bell peppers, the red ones have almost 11 times more beta-carotene and 1.5 times more vitamin C…

Capsaicin: Found in hot peppers (including chilis and cayenne powder), capsaicin has been shown to boost metabolism as well as suppress appetite, at least slightly. Over time, this effect might give you an extra edge when it comes to weight loss. But it won’t melt the pounds away. Research shows that people who don’t typically eat spicy foods are most likely to benefit from turning the heat up a notch. Capsaicin seems to affect metabolism by raising body temperature, which uses up more energy.”

According to Nutrition-and-you.com

“…capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals…They are also good in other antioxidants such as vitamin-A, and flavonoids like ß-carotene, a-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in capsicum help protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress, diseases conditions…

Chilies carry a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure…Chilies are also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that human body requires them from external sources to replenish…

Chili peppers have amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals. Just 100 g provides (in % of recommended daily allowance):

240% of vitamin-C (Ascorbic acid),
39% of vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine),
32% of vitamin A,
13% of iron,
14% of copper,
7% of potassium,
but no cholesterol.

…capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese persons.”

Here’s a recipe for Hot pepper relish I found at: Chilipeppermadness.com

Hot-Pepper-Relish4

Hot Pepper Relish Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups chopped hot chili peppers – You can use a mix of peppers if you’d like, anywhere from mild bells to superhots like Morugas or Scorpions, though I like to keep the thickness of the peppers about the same so the overall consistency is even. Lean toward hotter peppers. For this, I used some sweet Italian peppers but included a couple ghost peppers.

3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
Salt to taste

Cooking Directions

Add all ingredients to a large pan and heat to medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a light boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer about 25-30 minutes, or until liquid is reduced and absorbed into the mixture.
Add to a jar and allow to cool. Serve!

Now – I’d like to explain why I called this post, “Clearing a path out of the Haze.”

This healthy lifestyle journey has been an education and a half. I’ve learned so much, so far – and I know that it will continue to be an education for the rest of my life. Having said that, I will say that I have found myself wandering in a haze, in regards to what food is best to eat for health and weight loss. I’ve see-sawed up and down and zig-zagged back and forth over pro’s and con’s.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I tend to obsess more about food, now that I’m focusing on a healthier diet. My menus have been – for the most part – filled with complicated and “fancy” recipes, that require a lot of obscure ingredients and complex steps that take up a lot of time and energy. While I was deviating from the path last week, I contemplated a simpler menu that includes easy recipes which I’ve used in the past.

I decided that – even though I’m still up for experimenting and trying new things – it might be more beneficial to keep it simple and manageable, with only one or two complex meals per week. This is not so much for cost – as it’s mostly about time and ease of preparation – so I can go off and spend more time doing what I love. Writing!

I thought about soups and casseroles – now that the weather is getting colder. Even though I wouldn’t be satisfied with soup for dinner every night, I decided to make two – three soups for the week, which can be eaten on alternate “soup nights” – with a casserole or simple meat and three veg or vegetarian on the other nights. My breakfasts will now include eggs – as I have proven to myself that I am more satisfied and less likely to snack in between meals. Here’s an article that helped change my mind about eggs every day – as I was worried about cholesterol:

http://authoritynutrition.com/eggs-weight-loss-food/

I also discovered the Happy Egg company – where the eggs are from hens that are free to roam outside – not just cage free: http://thehappyeggco.com/

egg-carton-2015

They have some great recipes – including this one (although I would probably use ham instead of bacon and fresh, grated potatoes rather than hash-browns):

http://thehappyeggco.com/recipes/cheesy-easy-breakfast-casserole.html

EBC

One of the things that has frustrated me is the idea of filling up on fats to keep the carb cravings away. I don’t want the added problems associated with eating a high fat diet, even though I enjoy building up on the proteins to feel more satisfied. I’m substituting turkey where a recipe calls for other meats (especially when making an omelette or sandwich).

I’m still trying to only eat red meat once every two weeks or once a month and will be incorporating more sardines and fish, as well as vegetarian recipes. I need to get back into doing a full program of planks and the elliptical – so I’m going to try and get up a half hour earlier during the week to be able to do so.

I’d like to note that my dreams have been more vivid and easier to remember – since my ritual last weekend. The messages seem to tie in with my purposes – so I will probably start writing for my dreaming blog again. (See: http://yourfaceinmyhands.com/) Also – the synchronicity has been interesting – with opportunities and insights seeming to link directly to my ritual. I don’t want to go into it here – but I might share at a later date!

Here’s my menu for the week:

Menu 111415

Until next week – stay happy and healthy!