Spicing It Up

 

 

I recently came across an article stressing the idea that foods are not healthy. Some foods are nutritious and therefore improve our health but a food on its own is not healthy. The idea of adding foods into the diet as a way to stay healthy isn’t new to me. But I realized that many times I make the dietary changes solely to lose weight, not to become healthier.  Only in the last 5 years have I began to adjust my diet to improve my health. There are quite a few contradictory ideas out there which also adds to the confusion. I like coffee. Is it nutritious? Some say yes and some say no. I often use medicine to alleviate pain. Is this good? Many studies are now saying maybe it’s not. While I was reading these articles I stumbled upon an article about turmeric and was amazed at all the positive health benefits it provided. Turmeric is the root of the Cucurma longa plant. It is known for its strong peppery fragrance and bright orange/yellow color. It is best known as the spice in curry, a traditional Indian food. Throughout history turmeric has been used as a powerful medicine in China and India as an anti-inflammatory agent used to relieve arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain, jaundice, liver problems, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, depression, and cancer (just to name a few). To be honest I was quite impressed with the quick research I did into this colorful spice. My thinking was if I could use this spice in my diet and replace a pill that might cause me to have a heart attack, I would be willing to give it a try.

Within a day I once again heard reference to this little gem in the form of the turmeric shot. While my computer was being fixed, I had a little time on my hands and caught the Today show. There was a clip discussing the use of turmeric shots as a health regimen of Rachel Hunter.  Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention to the clip but the idea of drinking turmeric was interesting. I then began to research this. I found that turmeric shots are sort of the new rage with some juice bars charging $3 to $8 for a shot. A quick search on Google led me to sites that give basic instructions to create your own shot quite easy. I was able to mostly find the ingredients I needed, although I still haven’t found turmeric root and have been forced to use dried. Here’s a link to one that’s very similar to what I make.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 t dried turmeric
  • 1 t dried ginger (or 2 inches of ginger root juiced)
  • a dash of cracked pepper
  • (opt) a dash of cayenne pepper

I stir this all together and then drink up! Since turmeric is fat soluble I eat this with my breakfast which is almost always 2 eggs, 1/4 avocado and 1/2 a roma tomato. One recipe used coconut water and sweetened it with organic honey. I am trying to also cut back on sugar/carbs so I did not add any sweetener.

This will not taste great. I repeat, this WILL NOT taste great. However, I began to have positive effects within a day of trying. I am now on my third day. I have slept through the night every night, my everyday suffering of headaches has disappeared, I have lost 4.6 pounds in 2 days (turmeric is a diuretic so that could be why), my need for pain meds has vanished and I have an incredible amount of energy. As much as I am not a fan of the taste, I think I could continue these elixirs for some time.

Just to note, I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor about any dietary changes you are thinking of trying. This information is only for your information and not medical advice. 

 

Too Soon

Last year when my husband and I decided to delve into eating as healthy as possible, we assumed we would have at least 3 months until we would need to have a get together with family. As it turns out we have family that love to proclaim the healthy life style but when they all get together their love for each other is often expressed with food. Unfortunately my family often is the ones left taking any unwanted food home. We’ve put our foot down before and insisted that we also don’t want all the left over pies, but many times the fight isn’t worth it. One would think we could just toss those calorie ridden, carby crappers right into the trash, but as it turns out my husband and I both hate throwing good things away. We often joke that we were somehow born in the depression era as we find value in things others would toss out. It is both a blessing and a curse.

When once again we began this healthy journey after taking the summer off, which rolled into fall and a little winter, we thought, again, we would have until Easter before a family gathering would be required. We were wrong. Yesterday we were invited once again to Holland to have a gathering with my husband’s immediate family (just like Christmas) but this time grandma’s twin sister’s family came too. It was a cousins gathering. As much as we love seeing the cousins I knew this would be a dieting nightmare.

The first thing I did to prepare for this day was make sure the dishes I brought were something I could eat. I chose spinach artichoke dip with cut up celery and sausage stuffed mushrooms. My husband and I love these dishes and they are on our low carb yes list.

The second thing I did, or at least wanted to do was make sure I didn’t go there hungry. I failed at this. That morning I also had to work and make a trip to see my aunts. Time was tight. I forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. Not good. So right before we left to travel to Holland I threw a handful of known okay foods into a dish to munch on the way. IMG_1190This was exactly what I needed!

And I was right. When we got there my sister in law had created these brilliant masterpiece cake balls. Like these:

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only her’s were twice this size and pink and chocolate and covered in sprinkles. I love eating colorful food. I love cake balls. Sprinkles are for winners, right? I think I found myself staring at these things at least 20 times throughout the day. I even had to help serve them to the kids, meaning I had to touch them! However, I was good. Not one sweet thing was consumed by me the entire time. I stuck with my foods, some vegetables and a few things that didn’t have high carb counts. The only thing outside of my desired food was homemade cabbage rolls and my husband and I split one.

It was really nice being able to avoid tempting foods, literally right in my face. It was even better waking up this morning and finding that I had lost 3.2 pounds since yesterday morning! This takes my seven day total weight loss to 4.2. This makes me very happy. I hope my second week is just as fulfilling.

 

Great Start

On Monday I officially went back to consciously watching what I eat. I had been disappointed that by throwing all caution away I gained 8 pounds from Christmas day to January 4. I didn’t even think that was possible! I kept thinking when I wake up one of these days I’ll have lost 6 pounds in water weight and be much closer to my goal. That didn’t happen though. But after watching what I ate and even adding in some exercise, including a 40 minute kettle bell work out I have already lost 2.8 pounds in 4 days. I feel really good! Thankfully I had no cravings and it was really easy to get back to healthy eating again. I think my body was just really done with junk food.

Firstly, I want to go back to that first dinner I made on Monday, which was all really delicious. You can find the recipe here. One of the parts to it was cauliflower rice. I have been wanting to work with cauliflower for a while but haven’t yet. For this meal I had to put pieces of it into a food processor to finely chop it up. This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. You can also shred it on a grater. Once it was all pieced out, I then saute it in a pan with some olive oil and salt until it softened and turned brown. Then I added fresh lime juice and cilantro. This was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I was trying to cook the chicken while eating large spoonfuls of the cauliflower. The kids didn’t like it but I LOVED IT!

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My first suggestion about eating healthy is don’t be afraid to try something new. This entire recipe took longer than I thought it would but we ended up having a chicken that my son would finally eat and a new side dish that is phenomenal.

Next I want to mention a few of my tricks.

  1. Drink lots of water. I also really like to add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon to my water. This makes me feel like I’m drinking something fancy and it gives me a boost of vitamins.
  2. Figure out your tricky foods and see if there’s something to sub in instead. Like my family loves chips and salsa but chips are not allowed right now. I use celery sticks to eat these snack foods. They are also really great for guacamole.
  3. I think one thing I do that most don’t is I don’t swap in fake foods. Many times I hear folks eat disguised treat foods and say things like, “it’s low fat”, “it’s low carbs”, when in fact it’s just really loaded up with fake stuff. Read the labels, if most of the ingredients aren’t whole foods, I tend to not eat it.
  4. I eat eggs. I eat a lot of eggs. It’s sort of my staple food. There’s a report from the Department of Health and Human Services that the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans will not include a caution about cholesterol.  This is pretty good news since I eat avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs and butter.
  5. This year, I will be adding in exercise. I didn’t do that last time and still lost 18 pounds. I’m excited to see how this will effect my over all health. As a photographer I really need to be able to stand for long periods, as well as squat often, run, lay down, maybe even climb a tree.
  6. Don’t think you need to eat regular foods. Sometimes I like a spinach salad for breakfast. Yesterday I was thinking, well, what food do I think of as a fun food and guacamole came to mind. So I decided to incorporate that into my breakfast.

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Finally one of my hardest things is just keeping the food I don’t want to eat, out of the house completely. I know how hard that is though! I have twin 10 year olds and they love snacks. But I think it’s good practice to have them try some of these new foods and eat healthier. They may not like them all but it’s worth a try!

Feeling Good In My Skin

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Ten years ago I gave birth to twins. Despite putting on the minimum suggested weight I still gained 50 pounds with this pregnancy. I was also almost 36 years old.  For the next 10 years I would attempt to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. As I aged into my 40s I became convinced I would never go back to my “normal” size and that I should become comfortable with this “new” size. I found hope in the idea that I maintained this weight very well. That’s good, right? Then two winters ago I noticed my weight creeping up. I thought, like I’ve done in the past, I’d reduce my carbs and sugars and any weight gain would go away. This time it didn’t. As I reached weight amounts I had never been to before, even during my twin pregnancy, I began to panic. I became frustrated. I tried all my old tactics and nothing worked! I am mostly a healthy eater. I don’t drink pop, I gave up beer 5 years ago when I found wheat created unwanted health problems, I eat vegetables (a lot), I rarely over eat because I hate that feeling. I like carbohydrates though and I like a sugary treat every once in a while. I’ve tried to maintain a very low carbohydrate diet when I can. It seems that my issue is that my family really likes their carbohydrates too. So when I found I was doing well for a couple of days, they would come in and request cookies, or ice-cream or something of that nature and I wasn’t strong enough to let them indulge and not partake. I also hated the idea of me not participating in a family fun food activity. I never wanted to be the mom who wouldn’t eat ice cream with their kids. I felt trapped.

Last year my husband decided that he had had enough with the extra weight himself. He’d also gained extra weight during the twins’ pregnancy and wanted to really work to lose about 30 pounds. As we rounded the new year he and I together began to make better choices. We cut out all the starchy carbohydrates, all sugar, all white foods (potatoes, rice, pasta, flour, sugar).  We added back in breakfast meats, which we had stopped eating the year before to try to lose a few pounds. And he immediately started losing weight. It took me 3 months and then I also started losing weight. Once I got all the tricky foods out of my system and out of the house, I also lost weight. After being on the strictest diet I had ever been on for 6 months I had lost 18 pounds and was well on my way. My husband had also lost 20 pounds. Then summer hit. I think we both felt pretty good about our weight loss and decided to take a break.

We didn’t add in terrible foods. It was more like fruit, a bun here and there, some lemonade. By Halloween I had gained back 4 pounds and my husband had gained back 6. Not too bad. So we decided we’d just enjoy ourselves for the rest of the year and then January 4, 2016 we’d start all over again. We indulged in cookies, pies, cocoas, candy, buns, desserts and pretty much anything we wanted. It wasn’t in huge quantities but it was consistent. And it did make a huge difference. By January 4, 2016 I had gained back 12 of my 18 pounds and my fat percent was right back where it was a year ago. I had almost undone all the work I had done the year before. I was (am) very disappointed. I’m not sure it was worth it. I know I went through some hardships like my grandma passing away and eating comfort foods just felt right. So maybe it was worth it. Honestly, I’m not sure it matters. It is what it is, as people say.

The good news is I’m not discouraged. In fact, I am really excited to start all over again. This time I will know exactly what will happen if I push it too far. I will know how to tweak it to make it work for me better. I am also attempting to journal the progress a bit better. So that’s what this is. If you’re interested in my recipes, tips, secrets,  progress or even just being voyeuristic I would love to invite you to follow along.

Today, January 4, 2016 I have  begun keeping the tricky foods out, my carbs down and my head held high. My goal is to lose 20 pounds by May.

In my research for preparing to start I found this wonderful recipe:

Key West Grilled Chicken

which I will be making right now. For lunch I ate at Panera and had the Greek Salad plus chicken. I will be using the apps MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun to keep track of exercise and food consumption. I also have a Fitbit. I found today that when I went to add my Panera salad that the app actually used the GPS on my phone to bring in information about where I was. Once I got past the freakiness about my technology knowing so much, I thought it was pretty cool that these devices all worked together to make this data inputting a lot easier.

I know that weight loss is a hot topic issue lately, but for me, I need to feel healthy. I want to love my skin. I want to be the mom who can run and play and not get winded. I will still be curvy, I will still be soft, but I will be happy for reaching my goal to be a healthier version of myself.

So here we go!

Thanks for your support,

Ariniko