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!

Kom1

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!)

Kom2

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!

A Wavering Eye on a Distant Prize

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I didn’t post last week due to lack of time. Robert’s company held a Xmas party and they paid for everything – including a room at the Embassy Suites in Nashville. We had a great time and I was careful with what I ate but I had three glasses of Pinot – divine!

We stayed overnight and had a wonderful breakfast before heading back home. I was too busy with catching up on housework etc, and had to focus on my writing projects during the week as well as working, blah blah blah.

I will have some exciting news to share in a couple of weeks – so stay tuned for that!

I tried an experiment for the last two weeks, after reading about how exercising can drain your adrenals – even though it wasn’t like I was over-extending myself. I stopped doing the elliptical and planking, which seemed to have zero effect in terms of weight gain, however I felt the lack.

I started getting tired in the afternoons and had less energy, with the breathlessness creeping back in. In general I felt more fatigued so I started back up yesterday. Felt better immediately – so – there you have it.

Most days, I was drinking Kombucha tea in the mornings and felt better for it. I’m going to start making my own, so I saved the bottles and will purchase the alien-looking scobie next week. I continued with alternating smoothies in the mornings – fruit one day and green the next – but I’m starting to find it incompatible with the weather changing.

Cold mornings call for a hot breakfast, so I’m going to start preparing it the night before. I just have to get up a little earlier to eat it before I leave the house. (I’ve been drinking my smoothies on the way to work, which is convenient.)

Here are a few breakfast ideas I’m going to try:

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Wild Mushroom and Tatsoi with a Poached Egg

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Broccoli Cheese-Quinoa Bites

(I’ve made these before – scrumptious!)

coconut-pancakes

Low Carb Coconut Pancakes

 

(I would use Coconut milk as Almonds give me headaches.)

I’ll also be making frittatas and on the weekends we’ll have scrambled eggs or tomatoes on toast, etc.

I’ve been sticking to the plan I spoke about last time – with two eggs around 9:30 a.m. It’s amazing how they curb the cravings – especially for carbs – even though it’s been tempting of late, regarding the goodies that my co-workers bring to work. Tis the season – but that’s no reason to stuff myself stupid!

I’ve been far better at only having a sliver rather than a slab of cake or other naughties. There have been several times where I’ve walked away from the table or avoided going near it.

I’ve also started making my own granola bars as Robert discovered (after years of eating store-bought granola bars, even though they are zero High Fructose Corn Syrup) that he might be allergic to them. When he stopped eating the store-bought ones, his allergies reduced dramatically. We love my granola bars – which I’m calling:

Kelly’s Seedy Oat Slabs!

Ingredients:

2 Cups Old fashioned Oats

2 cups Raw Sunflower Seeds

1 Cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 Cup Honey

4 tbps Peanut Butter (I use creamy, but crunchy would be just as good)

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt (Optional)

1/4 – 1/2 Cup Sesame Seeds for sprinkling (Optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch pan (or thereabouts)

Spread the oats, coconut and sunflower seeds over two baking trays. Place in oven and toast for approx ten minutes, checking halfway and stirring them up if toasting is uneven.

Meanwhile, melt the honey, peanut butter, vanilla extract (with salt, if using) in a small saucepan.

Take the trays out of the oven and tip the contents into a large mixing bowl. Stir the honey mixture through until combined. Spread in the greased pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Then grease the bottom of a glass or flat-bottomed jar (they make the rockin’ world go round – sorry – couldn’t help myself!)

Using the glass or jar, press the mixture down into the tray to make a compact and even surface. Then place in the oven and bake for fifteen minutes – unless you prefer crunchy – in which case you’d need to leave it for another 2 – 5 minutes or so.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely before cutting into bars.

Here’s a picture!

Seedy Oat Slabs

They are delicious, if I do say so myself! No flour or eggs. You can cut them smaller, to suit yourself. One of these when I get to work (after a smoothie) has been a nice filler which keeps me going until around 9:30 – 10 a.m. Sometimes I save it for the afternoon, depending on how my appetite is going.

Here’s a picture of my Zucchini Crusted Pizza –

ZCP

Recipe posted here:

Scroll down for Zucchini Crusted Pizza recipe

I doubled the amounts for the zucchini crust – as I find the normal amount too thin. For the toppings I used:

Half a small can of tomato paste, mixed with a tsp of dried oregano and two garlic cloves – chopped. (Sometimes I just spread slices of tomato – sprinkled with oregano and garlic.)

Then I sprinkle some Romano cheese over the tomato (just a small handful), then I spread a layer of pepperoni, followed by half a chopped onion, red and green bell peppers (half each – depends on how much you prefer), black, marinated olives (pitted – I used Greek), and a generous handful (or two!) of cheese – whatever you fancy.

I’m not posting my menu this week – too busy – so here’s a picture of a Red Tailed Hawk we saw from the window at work this week! (Awwww!)

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Pity he didn’t have a beautiful forest to look over!

Well – until next week – stay healthy and happy!

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)

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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!

The Middle Way of Healthy Eating

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I’ve been jerking myself (not in a fun way!) back and forth, over what I should do and how I should do it – in regards to healthy eating. I find something out about a particular food item that excites me – so I start eating it – then discover that it’s not healthy or even dangerous. This is the age-old problem of trying to strike a balance with healthy eating. What’s good according to some is evil according to others.

I think back over the years and remember the see-saw arguments over potatoes – as an example. When I was little – potatoes were good, because they had starch and could fill you up. When I was in my teens, potatoes were bad as they made you fat. When I was in my twenties, they were only bad if you topped them with unhealthy things like sour cream, cheese, bacon etc. In my thirties they were good and bad – depending on who you talked to. Now, in my forties – they are bad again – because of the carbs.

The same could be said of nearly every kind of food you can imagine. Sometimes – it’s all about how you use and prepare them. Other times – it’s a definite no-no or a huge thumb’s up – until some scientist or “expert” swings the pendulum in the opposite direction.

One of the things I have been abstaining from is rice. It’s probably the one thing I miss the most, but as my husband is diabetic and needs to watch his sugar, I too have stayed away from it. He advised that it raises his sugar quickly and sustains the high levels for a few days. It has a high glycemic index and is high in carbs. I was told by a coworker recently to “just eat brown rice” – but according to the following article (click on link) – it doesn’t matter if the rice is brown or white.

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/rice-affects-blood-sugar-hunger-1588.html

Apparently Basmati rice (which is my favorite) is the best – even though it’s considered the lesser of the other evils! What shocked me about this article was the revelation that eating rice (and other high carb foods) actually makes you hungrier after you eat it. I find that hard to believe – as I’m usually quite satisfied after I eat rice. For example: when I have a small amount of steamed rice with steamed veggies and a piece of baked or steamed fish or chicken, I am totally satisfied for hours afterwards. So again – it’s about moderation and the middle way. I will stick to my original plan: I will only have rice once a month, to be sure.

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It’s easy to be swayed by popular opinion – especially when it comes to healthy eating. I find that it’s important to remember to weigh up the pros and cons; to go with whatever seems reasonable and when in doubt – err on the side of caution – or at least, go easy until you know what works best for you.

I don’t know why I haven’t made time for meditation. I need it – even though I’m feeling healthier these days. I need it for the stress release! It’s like I don’t value it as a worthwhile activity – even though it’s a kind of non-activity. I tell everyone else to do it and that the benefits are wonderful. I will try and do it at least twice this week!

A new discovery for me this past week is an exercise for my abs – that actually works. Planking!

A Coast Guard recruit from Company Oscar 188 does plank exercises during incentive training at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., July 31, 2013. Training Center Cape May is the service's only enlisted basic training facility, which creates more than 80 percent of the Coast Guard's workforce. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)
A Coast Guard recruit from Company Oscar 188 does plank exercises during incentive training at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., July 31, 2013. Training Center Cape May is the service’s only enlisted basic training facility, which creates more than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s workforce. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)

Even after the first day, I felt the benefits straight away. I was only able to hold each rep for a few seconds when I first started, but I found I was able to increase the time steadily over each day. After the third day I actually felt like my stomach had shrunk a little. I’m going to keep on with this exercise and see how much time I can increase the hold for. Here’s a link to a video for variations on planks:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20813896,00.html

Look at this challenge! I think it’ll be a while before I can do this:

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I’m still doing the elliptical and enjoying it. I’ve started doing variations on my routine – including going backwards – which works different muscles in my body. I also include short bursts of going turbo – until my knees start hurting!

I’ve been trying to find a farming group nearby who deliver a fruit and veggie box – but no such luck, so far. One of the national groups I looked at charged from $39 (on special) to $69 per box – and that was only for two adults for three nights! I noticed that I only spend from $40 – $60 per week for seven days worth of fruit and veggies for the two of us – at the supermarket, so maybe I should just stick with that. I will try going to the Nashville Farmer’s Market to weigh up the difference (on Saturdays). It’s just that I work in Nashville – travelling on the bus from Springfield each day – and the idea of dragging heavy bags of produce to and fro doesn’t thrill me.

I found this great chart on the Nashville Farmer’s Market website (I’m sure there are similar charts to be found elsewhere).

http://nashvillefarmersmarket.org/seasonality_calendar

I will be using it to check the seasonal produce of my local area. I’m going to try and find produce that is not cool stored – meaning that the fruits and veggies are picked before they ripen and stored for weeks before they are put out for sale. The greatest benefits regarding nutrition etc are to be found in produce that has been freshly picked – when they’re ready and not when they’re half-grown!

They also have some wonderful recipes, found here:

http://nashvillefarmersmarket.org/recipes/all

Babaganoush and Homemade Flatbread
Baba Ganoush and Homemade Flatbread

Baba Ganoush is a middle-eastern dish – basically Eggplant Dip. I made the Egyptian version – but you can also make it with olives, parsley, tomatoes and so on. It was nice – but I think that the next time I make it I will include marinated Greek olives, tomatoes, parsley and cumin – as it was quite bland – but nice with the flatbread. (The flatbread started off as the Paleo Sandwich rolls – recipe posted last week – but I used coconut flour instead of almond flour and it turned out to be a thick mix which needed to be formed into balls and flattened on the tray. It only made five rounds so I’ll double the recipe next time. They were lovely – and I shared it with a work colleague who loved the hint of coconut!)

Baba Ganoush

Ingredients:

2 eggplants
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (I didn’t use the oil)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Place eggplant on baking pan. Poke holes in the skin with a fork. Roast it for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft. Remove from oven and place into a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water, and peel skin off. Cube the eggplant and let drain for a few minutes.

Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini and garlic in a food processor and purée. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil (if you want). Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Homemade Coconut Flatbread

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 eggs

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tsp Baking powder

Dash of Himalayan sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350

In a bowl combine cocunut flour, tapioca, baking powder, and dash of sea salt

Add in eggs, apple sauce, and coconut oil – mix to combine

Roll into balls and flatten on a baking tray (I put them on baking paper in the tray)

Bake for 15 minutes

Let cool slightly and serve

Store in the refrigerator

Greek Salad
Greek Salad

I didn’t put cucumber’s in as I don’t like them. This is a very basic salad that we both like, with Romaine lettuce, celery, Roma tomatoes, Greek marinated olives and feta cheese. I have lemon juice squeezed on my salad – but Robert prefers Honey Mustard dressing. We had it with a frittata I made with onions, zucchinis and pepperoni on top! I forgot to take a photo of that!

Here are a couple of the recipes for next week:

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Cold-Fighting Couscous and Chicken Soup http://soupaddict.com/2015/01/couscous-chicken-soup/
Baked Parmesan Eggplant http://www.alltopfood.com/baked-parmesan-eggplant/
Baked Parmesan Eggplant  http://www.alltopfood.com/baked-parmesan-eggplant/

Here’s a great Infograph about busting belly fat:

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Here’s lazy Thor – annoyed that I woke him up for a photo!

Thor

Here’s my menu for the week:

Menu 102415

Until then, stay happy and healthy!

Projections and Perceptions: Ignoring the Naysayers

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Rather dramatic, isn’t it?

This week I’d like to address other people’s attitudes towards those of us who are trying to make a positive change in our lives. My reason for doing so is – even though I’ve stuck with the healthy eating and exercise – I’ve been going through a weird phase where all the naysayers in my past are rising up in my dreams and memories. Emotions can definitely affect how well we do in terms of taking care of ourselves – physically, mentally and even spiritually. Whether they’re related to guilt, depression, fear or anger – how we’re feeling can be either a positive or negative influence when we’re trying to affect change in our lives.

This Monday is the three month mark for me, and I’ve surprised myself with how well I’ve gone – keeping on track (at least 98% of the time!) with exercising regularly and eating well. I have my doctor’s appointment on Monday – where I will learn how much weight I’ve lost and where my sugar levels are. I’m excited and a little apprehensive. On the one hand – I know that I’ve lost weight – even though I know that I have a long way to go, but on the other hand – I’m worried that I’m not doing enough and could do more.

I average a total of about 2.5 – 3 hours per week exercising, but I discovered (at least – on one healthy eating website) that I should be doing at least 4 hours per week. I discover this now – just as I am about to get a check up – after I spent the last few months thinking that I was doing a good job! I was also a little concerned about my diet, even though we have hardly had any junk food and we’ve stuck to a healthy diet, eating whole foods and avoiding processed food. I’ve been careful about carbs, sugar, fat and salt – but feel like I could have done so much better.

I know that it seems preemptive to assume the worst before I’ve even seen the doctor, but I haven’t been too happy of late – in terms of the slow pace. I deliberately planned to do this slowly so that it would become a part of my life rather than a quick diet – and it has worked, in that sense. I know that I will stay on this track – eating healthy foods and exercising – so I don’t know why I have to punish myself with negative thoughts.

To give you an idea of how I’ve been thinking lately – it’s all jumbled up with memories of other people’s opinions of me and my body throughout my life. Without going on like a sob story (can you hear the violins in the background?!) – I’ve been barraging myself with events such as family, ex-boyfriends, friends and strangers passing judgement on me.

For example: one boyfriend (who wasn’t a studly man anyway!) – told me, when I was thirty years old, that I would be “so hot” if I lost some weight. I’ve heard the usual, passive-aggressive statements such as, “You’re so pretty for a big girl”, or “You couldn’t wear that” when I pointed out clothing I liked. Some people (family, mind you) told me straight out that I needed to lose weight – when they themselves were chunky, or shall we say – bulbous or rotund!

I remember one “friend” telling me a long time ago that I would never lose weight, as I was supposed to be a big woman. She was as skinny as a rake – thanks to the drugs she was snorting – but hey – who am I to judge, right? The two most important men in my life – who happen to be my son and my husband – are the only ones who’ve ever been supportive and sincere in their acceptance of me and my appearance. I have a few close female friends who have also been very supportive of me – even though they too are “rubenesque”.

Peter Paul Rubens - The Judgement of Paris, c.1606
Peter Paul Rubens – The Judgement of Paris, c.1606

I’m making myself sound like a grotesque pig – which I know I’m not – but I also accept that I am not a raving beauty. I know that I’m attractive and have often been told so, but getting older and heavier makes it more difficult to believe that you have any redeeming qualities – physically, anyway. I hate getting older. I just turned forty-nine and I loathe the fact that I’m fast approaching fifty. I’m a child of the 60’s – having grown up in the 70’s and coming of age in the 80’s – then solidifying my place in the world during the 90’s, raising a son and developing my writing as well as other talents.

I’ve always loved music – especially heavy metal – and have been to many concerts, including: Metallica, Kyuss, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Machinehead, Marilyn Manson, the Rollins Band (several times – as well as Henry’s spoken word gigs), Danzig and Pantera. I’ve seen Tool twice (my favorite band), Devil Driver and other acts such as Morphine, Michelle Shocked and Russell Crowe’s band – 30 odd foot of grunts.

I say all this to illustrate that I used to be cool! Now I’m old and fat. Ha ha! I made myself laugh. Well, at least I’m losing weight and on my way – but the last two weeks have wreaked havoc on my self-esteem – such as it is. What I hate about getting older is not so much due to vanity – it’s because I keep thinking of all I still want to do and feel that time is zooming by. Before I know it, I’ll be on my death bed – moaning about everything I didn’t get to do.

It’s also about feeling “irrelevant” or “invalid”. I know that older people have so much to offer – as they have been through a lot and are wiser (for the most part!) I also know that I should count my blessings as there are a lot of people far less fortunate than me. But I’m not talking about them. The funny thing is, I don’t exactly want to be young again. Younger people shit me – especially today’s generation – with their selfies and overblown sense of entitlement and ego. Surely I wasn’t like that?! Nah – too stoned and busy contemplating my navel!

One thing I have to stop doing is treating every healthy lifestyle or “medical expert” website as gospel. I have to sort through the chaff and take what sounds reasonable and use what feels right for me. I also have to remember that I am a work in progress. It’s only been three months and I have given myself the deadline of a year. That means that I have until July next year to hit my goal. I’ve decided that I will aim for at least size 14. Still not sure what my goal weight is, but I’ll figure it out.

To finish this depressing train of thought, I know now that the only reason people have tried to nag and pick at me during my life – whether I was eating healthy or not – was due to their own issues. They either didn’t want me feeling good about myself – as they preferred me being at their level or lower – or they needed a punching bag. Some people are afraid of others doing well – however they’re doing it – as it casts a light on what they themselves are or are not doing. Mowing down the tall poppies.

So – on with my food for the week:

Tomato and Eggplant Pie
Eggplant and Tomato Pie

I should call this “Vague Pie” – as the recipe was pretty laid back – but it was tasty, although I think I’ll cram zucchini and more herbs and spices into it next time.

Eggplant Tomato Pie

Ingredients

1 eggplant
2 tomatoes
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp pesto
shredded cheddar cheese
fresh parsley

Directions

Peel and cube eggplant, boil until soft. Drain water and mash. To eggplant mash, add diced onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, melted butter, pesto, and mix well. Grease a pie pan. Slice one tomato and layer on bottom of pan. Add eggplant mixture. Slice the other tomato and layer on top of eggplant mixture. Add shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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Crowded Veggie Soup

I call this “Crowded Veggie Soup” – as I used all the veggies that were languishing in the bottom of my fridge and spud cupboard. I actually call this type of soup “Bottom of the Fridge Soup” – but this time there were a lot more ingredients.

I didn’t even start with sauteeing the onions, garlic, carrot and celery – just threw it all in and cooked it for approx 45 minutes. The veggies included onions, garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, potatoes and parsley. I used organic, free range, low sodium chicken stock, three bay leaves, Himalayan pink salt and cracked black pepper. I also added a pinch of dried thyme, a pinch of dried sage and a healthy pinch of ground nutmeg.

When it was done, I whizzed it with my immersion blender (loving it so much!) and stirred in half a cup of cream. It was heavenly. I made so much that we ate on it four times during the week and I still had enough to freeze – at least three bowls worth. I even took some to work for a friend who was feeling poorly. She told me that she could detect every veggie – even though it was whizzed!

ZFS
Zucchini and Onion Frittata with Fresh Salsa

One thing I started doing (with my immersion blender) was whizzing my breakfast each morning. Usually I eat my breakfast at work but I’m sick of doing that. I whizz and then pour it into a lovely smoothie bottle and drink it on the way to work. (I hate saying whizz cos you’re probably laughing – thinking I’m peeing into my cup – but I’m tired so I’ll keep saying whizz).

My smoothie includes one banana, six strawberries, a small handful each of blackberries and blueberries, a small tub of non-fat Greek yogurt, two tbsp raw, unfiltered honey (wildflower – local), two tablespoons of flaxseed meal and a dash of milk. (Almonds give me migraines so I didn’t use Almond milk.)

Something exciting for my husband and I is a day with our friends on Sunday – playing Dungeons and Dragons! (Yes – we’re dorks.) Actually – this time we’re doing Castles and Crusades! Malinda and I usually do a gourmand’s feast – but we’re doing a healthy feast this time. I’m bringing my Chicken Salad (I’ll share the recipe next week) and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Butter and crudites.

Well, I’ll go now but I just want to share what a wise old man told me once – when I was depressed about how others treated me or made me feel. “Ignore the pigs and fishes. Hold your head high and continue on without them.”

Here’s my menu plan for the week and until next time, stay healthy and happy!

Menu 101015

Shapeshifting: Planning and Ideas

Agenda pic 3

As you can see – I’ve crammed all the activities I need to do each week into an agenda (created in Excel – could be done in a word doc with tables). I’ve always been a list-maker as I usually don’t like to fly by the seat of my pants! Also – if I have it all planned and sorted in a uniform format, I’m much more likely to stick to it. (Taking into consideration interruptions, etc. The trick is – to get back into it the next available day.)

Yesterday was my first day of exercise – 25 minutes on the Elliptical. Now – when I say 25 minutes – I don’t mean full throttle without a pause. I found that my right knee and hip ached just a little, so I occasionally slowed down or paused for approx 30 seconds, then picked it back up. When I got off, my legs felt like jelly and I was sweating and a little puffed – but otherwise quite okay.

It’s funny how the idea of exercise looms in front of you like a terrifying monster – when in actual fact – once you’re doing it, you realize it’s not such a big deal. Movement is necessary in everyday life – so ramping it up with occasional bursts of exercise isn’t that stressful or painful. As a matter of fact – I felt considerably better afterwards. I was more flexible and less stiff. I could tell that my metabolism was surging – so I took the opportunity to use the extra energy for housework. (Tedious – but necessary.)

The interesting thing is – that my energy levels were sustained throughout the day. Even my mental faculties were enhanced – so I produced a lot more work in regards to my writing etc. I was very pleased with myself.

In regards to food, I ate fresh tomatoes on wheat toast for breakfast. I cheated at lunch (naughty) – with a small bowl of potato chips that were left over from the night before. (After my crying session – Robert felt sorry for me and brought them back from the shops. He’s so kind and understanding – but I mustn’t lean on that – or I’ll never get away from eating crap!)

However – I didn’t snack throughout the day. I made Quiche Lorraine and salad for dinner. Not exactly diet food – but homemade and mostly healthy. No dessert.

When it comes to menu planning – I don’t like to be too pettifogging with counting calories and measuring tiny portions or doing complex calculations. I believe that keeping it simple makes it easier to stick with it. (At least – for me!) For example: I like to make sure I don’t go over 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily – approximately 1 teaspoon of sodium. So I do tend to read labels and use alternatives for seasoning – such as spices and herbs.

Sometimes though – if I really have to use salt – I do my best to keep it under a teaspoon when adding to my cooking. I find that lemon juice used on my veggies helps reduce the desire for salt. (Takes a little getting used to – but after the first few times – it’s not an issue and is quite tasty.)

I try to grill and bake – rather than fry – and if I do need to fry, saute etc., I limit the amount of oil or use stock. I also look for low sodium alternatives when shopping and only use low fat if it tastes good. Some low fat versions are horrid – so I’d rather go without – or use sparingly. It all depends on what you like to eat and what satisfies you. If you walk away from the table with your stomach still growling or with a sense of dissatisfaction – you feel cheated. That’s why I either modify my cooking by reducing the amount of bad things or find satisfying alternatives.

I’m still putting together my menu plan for the week – which I’ll post over the next couple of days. On average I like to have something like tomatoes on toast (limiting myself to two slices of bread per day), or Greek yogurt with a banana chopped into it. I went through a phase of having fresh fruit every morning – a combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (cos I luv ’em!) – but I felt like the sugar content was too high. It was better than having sausage or bacon, biscuits and gravy (oh Lordy I luv that!) – however I realized that I had to limit the intake to approx two times per week, rather than every day.

Also – my thyroid medication was reduced by a third – from 150mg to 100mg. It will be interesting to see how that affects my health etc. (Apparently my dosage was too high – but I’m not sure if a lesser dose will answer my problems with hot flashes and swelling ankles!)

I’d like to share some products that I find helpful for healthy eating. (Click on the links for more info.)

ezekial

Sprouted grains and other lovely products

herbox

Low sodium stock

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Guide to Low sodium cheeses – Yay for Swiss!

3_product_Lemon_Pepper_10

No sodium seasonings and recipes

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The Healthy Heart Market – low sodium, low sugar and much more!

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From http://www.mynaturalfamily.com

Here are some recipes I’ve found useful: (Follow the links for the recipes)

fa94b4a13d4b6f89ae9864f299f31470Cumin Baked Tortilla Chips

df333266fbe8a77a269d438e3a9fe47e

Avocado Dressing

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Cauliflower Sauce-tastes like alfredo sauce! 50 calories in 1/2 cup instead of 500 calories in 1/2 cup Alfredo! Adjust seasoning

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Roasted Cauliflower with red chile, cilantro and lime

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Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce

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Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup

pesto-chicken-400x400-kalynskitchen

Baked Pesto Chicken – low carb and gluten free

Well – now I’m hungry! I’ll be jumping on the elliptical and having tomatoes on toast again, before I go food shopping. I always try to go shopping after a meal – so I’m not tempted to buy the naughty foods!

Back soon with more recipes and my menu plans.

Shapeshifting: A Journey towards a better life

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And so it begins…

Like most people, I struggle with my health and oscillate between being ultra good to ultra bad – depending on my moods. I go on wild tangents – based on things such as inspiring articles, news about health and new products – but I’m more likely to be motivated by bad news from the doctor and physical symptoms that cause disruptions in my daily routine.

Since early 2014, I’ve been a lot more serious about my health – in sporadic bursts – but I have made some headway. For example: I switched from smoking cigarettes to vaping – which has made me feel a little better, in regards to coughing and wheezing. It’s also nice not to stink – however I know that taking tobacco into my body in any form, is bad.

I also went on a drug called ‘Zonnisamide’ to deal with migraines – a life long issue for me. After a year of taking it (and weaning myself off earlier this year) – I can safely say that my migraines have been drastically reduced. It’s difficult to say if the cigarettes were an issue – as I stopped smoking them at the same time I started taking the drug. In any case – it’s nice not to stink and to be relatively painless.

Around the time I quit the cigarettes and started the drug, I switched to a low sodium diet – where I minimized processed food and cut down on junk. There were times when we (my husband and I) had home cooked meals for weeks at a time – without any junk food. I remember one day – after having been junk free for four weeks, we decided to ‘treat’ ourselves to burgers and fries. They tasted so good – like ambrosia from heaven – but I have to admit that I felt like crap afterwards. I was sluggish and actually felt my blood pressure go up.

We went back to eating healthy for a few more weeks – and again broke it for junk food – which gradually became more common than the home cooked meals. We slid back to an unhealthy diet, with only a few days – here and there – where we ate at home.

I researched low sodium foods and started a Pinterest board – pinning healthy recipes and fact sheets about whole foods, vitamins etc. I was inspired – and found some great alternatives to junk. As my husband is diabetic, I also watched our sugar intake – but he loves the cookies and I kidded myself with thinking that home baked cookies made a difference. We’d eat them as soon as they came out of the oven – feeling vindicated that at least they weren’t store bought, with all the chemicals and god knows what!

My problem is salt. I can stay away from sweets – but savory is where it’s at for me. I love the chips, dips, cheeses, salamis, salty snacks and crackers, creamy casseroles and saucy stews. I find that you can – at times – substitute things like low fat yogurt for sour cream, or herbs and spices for salt, however – I always feel cheated. It’s like, I’d rather eat the real thing sparingly – than eat the ‘lesser’ or substituted version more often.

The thing is – with dieting – there really is only one golden rule: eat healthy and move more. My husband says this over and over like a mantra – and I know it’s true – but discipline is not my strong point. (At least – when it comes to food and exercise!) I can move mountains when I have a project or a deadline. I’m an author – and I write profusely – every day. It’s because I’m highly motivated when it’s something I enjoy doing – or if it’s a means to an end. To me – exercising would cut into my writing time. I already have an attitude towards being a Suzy Homemaker. (More like a lazy Susan! I do what I have to – to get by.)

Working full time is also a nuisance – as I scrimp and save what time I can for my writing. It’s all about prioritizing, organizing and planning. I need to create a schedule – and stick to it.

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That’s why I’ve decided to start this blog series. I remember watching “Julie and Julia” – with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. (Based on a true story.) Julie cooked all 524 recipes from Julia Childs’ cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” – over the course of a year. She wanted to prove to herself that she could see something through to the end. This struck a chord with me – especially in regards to my desire to lose weight and live healthier. To have a goal and stick to it is the only way to achieve success. Doing it on your own makes it easier to fall off the wagon. You can kid yourself that you’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow – which never comes.

Having someone in your corner – or doing it publicly on a blog – not only gives you incentive to keep going, but allows for others to offer advice and become inspired. Sharing information and helping others has always been a strong motivator for me. Applying the advice to my own life? Can you hear the crickets and see the tumbleweeds rolling by? Exactly!

What ultimately spurred me on to start this blog series – was a visit to the doctor for a check up last week. I’ve been having problems with my ankles swelling up, breathlessness and hot flushes. I already take thyroid medication for hypothyroidism. I assumed my medication wasn’t working anymore and wanted to get tested again. I thought that they would give me a higher dose and everything would be sorted. Even though I knew that I’d have to go back to low sodium eating – due to what I thought was high blood pressure – I was shocked with the test results.

Turns out my blood sugar was high! Mind you – I had drunk a third of a Chai Latte before I had my blood taken – but I’d be kidding myself if I disregarded the outcome. Also – they discovered that my thyroid medication was too strong! They’ve dropped me back to a lower dosage.

I came home with a defeatist attitude. I thought to myself – “What’s the point?” I sat in front of my computer and played video games – as the tears started flowing. My husband was in his office and heard me crying. He came in and I blamed it on the disappointing sales of my novels. But deep down – I was angry with myself for being fat and old. My blood sugar is 246 and my weight is 260 pounds. I can’t do anything about my age – but I can do something about my weight.

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I’ve also decided to get back into meditation. There are so many benefits – including stress reduction and lowering blood pressure. The mind is a powerful tool when it comes to attitude and regulating physical and mental health. Negativity floods the system with darkness. It’s time to get positive.

My husband (let’s call him Robert – cos that’s his name!) recently bought a great elliptical machine. Our old one had too short a stride – but this one is far superior. It doesn’t hurt your joints and has a built in-fan and an outlet for your ipod! Now there’s no excuse. I’ll be starting this morning – no less than 20 minutes per day – then building up. I will create a schedule that incorporates exercise, meditation, housework, writing, shopping for healthy foods, cooking – and more writing, promoting and marketing my novels, etc. I also plan to quit vaping – hopefully by the end of the year.

That way I won’t be likely to forego the healthy eating and exercise – using the ‘too busy’ excuse! *sigh*

I will endeavor to share my ‘journey’ – at least once a week – and will post interesting info, recipes and articles that enrich body, spirit and mind. I will be shopping for locally produced food – where possible – and will continue to choose low sodium options, free-range chicken and eggs, organic produce and so on.

To be continued…