On Detoxing

Here’s the thing about me and cleanses. I eat very, very clean the vast majority of the time. When I decide to do a cleanse/detox because that’s my January ritual, I spend the week leading up to it binging. It’s a scarcity mentality, I suppose. I’ll pile on a few pounds and then spend the cleanse bringing it back down. I love the way I normally eat and I’m a healthy weightnow by anyone’s standards. I eat mainly vegetables, some fruit, some grains in the form of sprouted grain bread, rice and quinoa, and occasional seeds. Almost entirely organic. I drink coffee, tea, plenty of water and a glass of organic, sulfite-Pinot Noir several evenings each week.

Maybe it’s a residual from my unhealthy past? This feeling of being compelled to detox after the Holidays? I guess there were about half a dozen holiday cookies consumed. Otherwise, I prepared and hauled healthy dishes to every gathering I attended.

I tracked my food today, weighing and measuring things out of curiosity. I used to do this all the time to try to force weight off (that didn’t work long-term, either). Here’s the breakdown:

Calories total 1437
Protein 34g
Carbohydrates 329g (I never would have believed this would lower my long-term blood sugar control)
Fat 2g
Fiber 45g (yeah!)
Sodium 679mg although I did add some salt to dinner
Potassium 6713mg
Vitamin A 1495
Vitamin C 433
Calcium 30
Iron 86

What I ate:
Breakfast: One pound of Russet potatoes and 1/2 cup red cabbage hashbrowns cooked in water, with seasoned salt

Lunch: Baked sweet potato (a full pound!) with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon real maple syrup

Supper: Diced potatoes 10 ounces and 1 cup diced canned tomatoes with chili seasonings and a good portion of spinach

Snacks: Apple, orange, potato

This fueled me nicely for yoga and fat biking in the snow 🙂 Drank lots of water. Sat in the sauna for 40 minutes. I’ll end my day with rooibos tea shortly. No lack of energy. Clean fuel.

If I wasn’t “detoxing”, I may or may not have added a glass of wine. Makes me think, what are we detoxing from?? Given my history of binging prior to a detox, might it be wise to eat as I do and if I feel the need, perhaps fast for a period of time? Is my motive love, or is it self-deprivation to atone for something I did? Like the binge prior. Hmm….

Easy Menu Planning + What I’m Thinking About During Massages

This is how I’ve done my menu planning for years. Usually I use one card or piece of paper and put the menu on one side/shopping list on the other. I like having my menu with when I shop. I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch all week, for the sake of simplicity. I will batch cook as much as I can on a Sunday afternoon, or when I have the oven hot for a dinner I will throw in 4-6 yams for grab-and-go food.

For the first 3 weeks of January I “detox”. Actually, I examine habits that I feel are unhealthy and put the kabosh on them for this period of time. This January I am doing it by way of a diet of fruits and vegetables. I want to acknowledge that I do have a coffee habit. I’m not going there. I’ve eliminated coffee several times in the past and nothing good comes of it. I love a rich, organic French roast *especially* in the dead of winter. Gets me out of bed in the dark of morning. The staples I have eliminated for these weeks are the evening glass of wine and grains. I tend to eat rice and sprouted grain bread. I have a glass of wine 3 or 4 evenings of the week. But, not for now……

As I’m writing this, I am thinking, “detoxing from some rice and red wine??” Yeah, I don’t know either. It’s not like I ate more than a half dozen Christmas cookies during the Holidays or anything.

At any rate, here are my menu and shopping list for the week. I made a last-minute decision to trade baked squash for baked hashbrowns – squash was no longer on sale and potatoes were. This is all organic food from my awesome local grocer, Golden Harvest. The recipes are from www.potatoreset.com and would be considered low-fat vegan. The “cheeze” and “queso” are made primarily from a boiled potato, nutritional yeast and seasonings. Yogurt is for my husband. I decided against almond milk for my coffee for now and crossed that off, too.

Menu

 

Here’s my haul for $98 and change:

Haul

That’s a full pound of broccoli to go with a yam for lunch every day. 10″ of Russett potatoes, 11.5# of yams. You get the idea. Plenty of food. Now, I do have some staples here already which helps.

The other thing I wanted to write about is massage. I love this 2nd job. I love it like it’s my brand new baby. I love the learning, and the people, and the atmosphere, and helping my community move a little easier. Want to know what the quiet pauses are if you’ve been on my table, or what I’m typically thinking? Yes, of course my mind wanders to groceries and obligations at times but for the most part it goes like this: Once you’re situated on the table I rest my hands on you. Usually on shoulders. I picture in my mind that I grow roots into the ground. I plug my hands into the energy of the sun. I give thanks for this person on my table. And then I proceed. This ritual centers me. For the duration, I am thinking about what my hands feel and what my eyes see. Sometimes I’m thinking “cool tattoo!!”. Sometimes I’m thinking what other tools I’d like to implement to help your muscles loosen up. If my mind wanders, I gently bring it back, just like in meditation. I think thoughts of appreciation, esteem, kindness and gratitude. If you’ve shared a struggle with me, I’m likely thinking affirmations for you. And as I conclude the session, I place my hands in 4 locations along the body while I say these words (usually in my mind):  May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be free from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy. Look up “metta” if you want to know more.

There you have it.

Holistic.

Body, mind, and spirit.

Winter Solstice Reflections, Gyms, Workout Routine

Today is the winter solstice of 2017. Seems that many of us pause and take some time for deep reflection this time of the year. It’s kind of an annual review. Where am I and how does it align with where I want to be? Are there large changes to be made? Habits I’d like to adopt?

I’ve been licensed as a massage therapist for 4 months. While I still work as a nurse most weeks, the majority of my work time is spent in a lovely room, in a lovely space, with essential oils being diffused, my homemade candle flickering, Wholetones music playing and a client that I’m grateful for on my massage table. My intention was to be booked out for 4 weeks at a time by the end of the year, and that’s exactly what has happened. It has taken a lot of effort, but it’s here. I love it so much. I feel like my work is my hobby, my creative outlet and my gift. I love helping people feel better in their bodies. I love learning more.

I am a personal trainer and health coach, but don’t push that work. This is certainly the time of year people are thinking about their weight and health, myself included. I’ve lost 17 pounds since spring with ease by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and moving my body throughout the day. Once in a great while I will weigh and measure my foods, counting calories and macronutrients. It’s more to prove a point now, like that I do, in fact, get enough protein without eating animals. And that I do eat a rather large quantity of food. I like it that way. I like that my diet continues to evolve, to be more aligned with the seasons as well as my feelings about animal welfare.

Several people I’ve observed over the years turn to whatever the latest pill or potion is to lose weight, only to gain it back. Not only is the weight back, but the feelings of failure are worn around like a weight every day for many people. I’ve been there! Although I still have my struggles, they’re much fewer and farther between than they used to be. I truly believe the fundamental reason why the pills and shakes fail is that they don’t address the root of the problem. What if you loved yourself enough to nourish your body? What could you love about yourself right now, in this moment? Until you examine why you keep repeating the cycle, it will continue. Also, what are the ingredients in your shakes and bars?? Synthetic vitamins? Isolates? For me personally, I like a large quantity of real food. I like to put away a pound of veggies, or several cups of starch in the form or rice or yams every day. I do not like restriction, and if I think I can just have a little bit when it comes to chocolate or nut butter, I’m lying to myself. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Serves me well in some aspects of life.

Ok so, here’s my current workout plan:
plan

If you’re wondering what the heck Heart Butt and Blast are, check this site: https://ashleyblackguru.com/heartbutt/ – the Fascia Blaster is the only tool I’ve found that addresses my bound up fascia, and I’m able to see/feel a difference with regular use! I’ve struggled for years with IT band and Achilles pain, so this is huge for me. Most days I do my strength training and blasting in the morning, in my bathroom with the space heater on. I play loud music and do the strength exercises with a resistance band in sets of 10 for the duration of a song. Then I blast one area for a song (left upper leg, for example) and repeat for 3 full sets.

For cardio, you will no longer find me on some machine under fluorescent lights watching negativity on a screen. Here’s my cardio gym on Tuesday. Quiet stillness except for me moving my body through space, and the chatter of winter birds. The forest floor blanketed in sparkling white. Crisp, fresh air. Hills are my high-intensity intervals. I’m finding that a gentler pace and more restorative approach is more aligned with this season.

and Thursday, with my enthusiastic 4-legged soul mate:

 

I’m not so into “Resolutions” but in 2018 I’m taking steps to:
 – replace some evening glasses of wine with tea
 – create a morning ritual to involve a little yoga and meditation
 – create space in my schedule to relax, especially in the evenings

Vision

November17Today during a meditation, I had a vision of my future self. It looked like this:

A healer by way of my hands
Barefooted
Running, swiftly and with ease, through an old-growth forest
With icy blue eyes and long, flowing, henna red hair
Strength and grace
In a turquoise top and sleek black leggings
Scented with essential oils
The calm in a storm
Adorned with bright silver jewelry, but not too much
Carrying compassion for all sentient beings
Leaving footsteps of kindness

Almost there. I’m so filled with gratitude for my husband, making it possible for me to discover and live my highest passion. It’s almost surreal to me, feeling so loved and supported…. living in the environment that I do…. with a body that, while I still struggle with tendon issues, is fully capable of providing massages or working as a hospice nurse. Those things give me purpose.

Weight Loss Update + Today’s Menu + Fascia

Time for an update. I will openly say I am an all or nothing kind of person. Most of the time that serves me well. If I’m in on something, I’m all in. This past couple of days, that included a loaf of sourdough rye bread and a generous portion of buttercream frosting. See, I still have my struggles with food sometimes. I stepped on the scale at 126# this morning. At 5’1″, while I’m no longer overweight, my goal has been 120#.

I eat plants for the most part. This is what’s on the menu for today and has been more typical for me lately. I feel fantastic like this. Due to nagging tendon issues for over 7 years (more on that later), my exercise level has been low. Yoga, walking, and about an hour of biking per week.

BreakfastBreakfast was butternut squash, green and red cabbage tossed in a mix of balsamic vinegar and brown mustard, then baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It’s a large cookie sheet. I like to be full. Of vegetables!

Lunch

 

 

 

Lunch – I dumped a bag of frozen broccoli into a glass dish and baked it while my breakfast was in the oven. To that I added a baked sweet potato that I’d cooked in a batch a couple of days ago. Top with hot sauce.

 

 

Snack

 

I’ll probably have a snack before massage clients this afternoon, which is 1/2 of a baked kabocha squash with a tiny bit of brown sugar, and a Granny Smith apple. (Edit – I couldn’t eat the squash. Too full yet.)

 

 

SupperBefore I head out for work, I’ll throw the following into my Instant Pot for supper: Black eyed peas, brown rice, salsa and spinach. That way, supper is ready when I get home this evening.

Simple food.

Roughly 900 calories. 80% carb, 14% protein, 6% fat.

 

 

 

 

 

fascia blasterFor the past 7 years I’ve had struggles with my tendons/connective tissue. For a few weeks now I’ve been using this tool to “comb” my fascia. I warm up my by either doing cardio in a sauna suit, cranking up the space heater in the bathroom and doing yoga, or my latest addition – steam room! I picked up a small fryer, filled it water and a little peppermint essential oil, then put it in a crappy old tent. Last night I was reading a book in there by headlamp while an owl was talking in a nearby tree 🙂 I feel some positive changes happening and I can see changes in the shape of my body that I’m happy with.  The tool I’m using is called a Fascia Blaster. The hard, gravel-like crap in my IT bands and Achilles seems to be softening with consistent use. Steam room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, from January 2017 to October 2017. Less exercise. More plants.
Me
Me

It Costs Too Much To Eat Healthy – Plus Supper Tutorial

This puts a bee in my bonnet, so to speak. I have to disagree. If you’re coming from eating a diet of fast food, pizza, bagels and sugary cereal washed down with cow’s milk and soda, you might have noticed that your body doesn’t necessarily feel vibrant, or optimal. Right?

I know what it’s like to have to choose to put gas in the car or groceries on the table. When I put myself through school to be a nurse, I was in food pantry lines and using modern-day “food stamps”. My house was nearly foreclosed on. I was working 2.5 part-time jobs, going to school full-time, mothering 3 kids on my own and pursuing mountain bike racing endeavors. Yeah, I learned a lot about what’s important back then. No cable TV. I had a work-provided cell phone. An old Toyota with a lot of miles on it. The point is, I know what it’s like to have very little in the way of finances. While I do eat almost entirely organic these days and enjoy fueling my body with the best nutrition I can afford, this is a post for people who are eating food laden with trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and whatever other chemical cocktails are being served up at a drive through window.

I was told something about a healthy diet being too expensive and stressful.

Being obese and disabled isn’t expensive and stressful, then? Feeling lousy about oneself and out of control isn’t stressful? Really?! Yeah…. I don’t buy that. In fact, it pisses me off. I clearly recall being obese I was miserable. Am I alone in that?

I put together a week’s worth of menu and groceries for one hungry person. Before I get to that, I want to address some things.

“I can’t cook”. Can’t, or won’t? You can drive, wash dishes, wipe your butt, etc right? Don’t tell me you can’t cook. I call bullshit. You won’t. You don’t have the time? Do you have time to watch horrible things on the news? You have time to cook. Look up how to bake a potato on YouTube or something. You’re reading this. You have the internet. None of this is gourmet food. This is busy, weeknight, easy food. Tonight, I spent 10 minutes prepping supper which included sending a few text messages. The rice cooker (freebie, but they’re often $5 at thrift stores) cooked the rice. The vegetables cooked in a pot on the stove for 10 minutes. In that time, I cut and froze some vegetables and washed the prep dishes. Less time than it takes to go to McDonald’s.

Plan ahead. On a weekend, get your shopping done and  cook up a large batch of rice.

My menu is vegetarian. Suck it up. Eat some different foods. You might find you drop weight, save money, feel awesome and increase your health. Everyone is so obsessed with protein. Educate yourself. Try this article. You’re not a little kid any more. You can expand your palate. It actually does change, given even a few weeks.

Your body WANTS to feel good and it is ALWAYS trying its best for you. Give it some LOVE.

Tutorial Time. Here’s my Thursday-night dinner.

I put 2 cups of brown rice and 4 cups of water in the rice cooker, and pushed the “On” button.


I bought a giant cabbage for $2. Garlic and carrots are from friend’s gardens. Ginger root is cheap.

I cut it all up (5 minutes). Whew. Such hard work. I also got some turmeric, salt and pepper out.

I added some water to the pot, stirred it up, set the heat to medium and covered it with a lid. I stirred it a couple of times over the 10 minutes. Super time consuming. I can see why people don’t have time to cook <rolls eyes>.

I ate it!! I’m content and I feel good.  There’s enough left over for lunch tomorrow, too.

A word on the menu plan. You probably eat the same damn thing every morning for breakfast. I’d recommend keeping your weekday menu kind of boring and functional so you have time to play in nature. Or rest.

There are actually 2 breakfast options.
1. Put a heaping 1/2 cup of rolled oats in a bowl that has a lid. Add 1/2 teaspoon or so of cinnamon. Cover with non-dairy milk and put in the fridge overnight. It’s ready in the morning. Chop up an apple, stir it in and drizzle with maple syrup (just a small amount!).
2. Scramble some eggs. Take a cup of cooked rice from the large batch you made. Put it in a bowl, add the eggs and some salsa.
Boom. Eat and get your butt moving. You have things to do.

Then, make one large meal for dinner. Eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Or, make the large meal for lunch and eat it again for dinner. It doesn’t really matter.

Lunch/Dinner Options
1. Pasta Marinara
. Cook the pasta, drain it, dump in the marinara sauce. Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans and dump them in. Add a handful of spinach. Stir and heat through.
2. Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Mixed Vegetables. Wash, quarter and boil the potatoes. Drain when tender. Mash them with a potato masher and some garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Top with gravy. Open the package of mixed veggies and cook them in a saucepan while the potatoes cook. I just add some water, cover, and cook on low heat.
3. One Pan Meal. Preheat oven to 375. Wash and cut up your sweet potato in some chunks. Open your bag of frozen California Blend vegetables. Cut up your tempeh and toss that in a bowl with a little soy sauce or liquid aminos. Get out a sheet pan and throw it all on there. Season with whatever you want. I like garlic and just a touch of salt. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping it all over on the pan halfway through.
4. Cabbage Stir Fry. See the tutorial with pictures above.
5. Potato Hash. Dice potatoes, green peppers and onions. Saute in a pan on the stove with either a little veg stock or in a non-stick pan with a spray of oil, preferably coconut, until browned. Of course this can be seasoned with whatever. I’m kind of stuck on garlic and onion.
6. Soft Tacos. Warm a corn tortilla. Warm some of your rice or cook another batch if you need to. Warm your refried beans. Put the beans and rice in the tortilla, top with salsa and eat.
7. Baked Potato. Wash and bake some potatoes. Saute the rest of your spinach with some onion. Put it on top of the potato when it’s done. Make another batch of gravy if you want to.

Try to let your digestive system rest between meals. If you need a snack, you have bananas and carrots. Bake some potatoes to keep on hand and eat one with just salt. If you’re not hungry for them, you’re not really hungry. Go take a walk. Drink some water or tea.

Drink mostly water. I put peppermint tea on the shopping list because it’s beneficial to your health and something different.

Here’s the shopping list and price breakdown. I went to ALDI for everything except cabbage, tempeh and peppermint tea, which was from Golden Harvest.

Shopping List (with prices as of October 5, 2017)
Bananas 2#……………………………………………………………. 0.84
Bag of spinach………………………………………………………… 1.49
5# baking potatoes…………………………………………………. 1.69
1 large sweet potato………………………………………………… 0.69
3# bag of onions………………………………………………………. 1.49
Green peppers (use 1, cut and freeze the other 2)…… 1.49
3# apples………………………………………………………………… 1.49
Carrots……………………………………………………………………. 0.99
Cabbage (use 1/2, save 1/2)……………………………………. 2.00
Eggs………………………………………………………………………… 0.58
Non-dairy milk………………………………………………………… 1.99
Corn tortillas……………………………………………………………. 1.29
5# bag of rice (will last awhile)…………………………………. 4.79
Rolled oats……………………………………………………………….. 1.75
Cinnamon (will last awhile)………………………………………. 1.19
Garlic powder (will last awhile)………………………………… 1.19
Onion powder (will last awhile)………………………………… 1.19
Brown rice pasta………………………………………………………. 1.89
Marinara (the organic is dairy-free)…………………………. 1.99
Salsa…………………………………………………………………………. 1.29
Refried beans (low-fat vegetarian)…………………………… 0.79
Garbanzo beans……………………………………………………….. 0.65
Tempeh…………………………………………………………………… 3.49
Vegetable broth……………………………………………………….. 1.89
Soy sauce (low-sodium)……………………………………………. 1.49
Organic maple syrup………………………………………………… 5.49
Mixed vegetables (frozen)………………………………………… 0.79
California blend vegetables (frozen)………………………….. 0.99
Peppermint tea (20 bags)…………………………………………. 3.59

Total for 1 week of minimally processed, easy, nourishing meals = $50.48

Try this for a week. Also, move your body for 30 minutes every day doing something you enjoy. Drink water or herbal tea, about 0.5 ounces for every pound of your ideal body weight. Get to sleep by 10 and wake up with the sunrise. If you don’t feel better after a few weeks, go back to eating the way you do now. What have you got to lose?

If you’re looking for accountability and personal training, I am open to take 1 new client at this time. It includes meal planning, weekly personal training sessions, daily accountability, availability by text/message and a massage 🙂 Click here to learn more. 

Ayurvedic Fall Cleanse and Weight Loss Update

The idea of a cleanse with the changing of seasons appeals to me. The more I synchronize my own rhythms with nature, the more aligned and centered I feel. Today marks the end of my first 4-day Ayurvedic cleanse, so I thought I’d give a little update. It’s been a decade since I started exercising on a regular basis. I’ve been everything from pushing myself hard 100% of the time and chasing mountain bike podium spots to simply walking in nature. Exercise might help shape my body, but I find it benefits my mind more. I am still recovering from a tear incurred during an obstacle course race this past summer, so recently I’ve been doing mostly yoga with some walking and run intervals. A little mountain biking for fun. I think of it as recess :0). Also, I meditate almost every day for about 10 minutes.

As a reminder of where I came from, this is me in 2000. Postpartum, gaining weight, and miserable in my body. See, I know where a lot of you are at. I’m 5’1″ tall and I think I was about 170# here. P.S. Can you believe that little baby towers over me now? He’s going to be an adult soon!
Me in 2000

I did, at one point around 2009, starve myself down to 109#. I was skinny but still not happy. Funny how that works. I just had no boobs any more and my hair was falling out in clumps. I was on hormones and antidepressants. No pics of that.

In 2010 I “went Paleo” and like most things I do, I was all in. I’m either in or out with very little in between 🙂 I like that about myself now. Aaaanyway. I struggled with my weight and cholesterol the entire time. I tried to convince myself that horrid blood lipid panels were fine for all manner of reasons. I ate a shit ton of animal products.

There’s a story about why I went plant-based here, but I’ll get down to recent changes.

Also can I say, I frigging hate when people use beauty filters?? Ok I’m wearing some makeup. I have to go to work. But no, I’m not using a filter. Cripes. They make people look like porcelain and then you see them in real life and your like WTH?!? 😀 Ok I feel better.

January 2017
141#
38″ lower belly
32″ waist
36″ hips
September 2017
123.8#
34.25″ lower belly
29″ waist
36.5″ hips

Oh – you’ll maybe ask what I’m eating in a day. The cleanse I was on got me down to 3 meals per day. Lunch is pretty huge and I do love to eat. I don’t count calories or restrict myself in that way any more. Breakfast – steel cut oats with cinnamon and a cut up apple, drizzled with maple syrup. Lunch will be wild rice and split mung beans with seasonings and a slice of the thick sourdough rye from my local health food store. Ingredients are sourdough starter, rye flour, water and salt. Supper will be light and will be sweet potato soup. It’s chilly here today so I’ll sip tea and decaf coffee. I’m down from 4 cups of coffee or so to just one with half decaf, and then a cup of decaf later. I do love coffee.

It just goes to show what when we let go of the things and ideas that no longer serve us, and give our amazing bodies what they need…. love, whole foods, nourishment, and *time*, beautiful changes can happen.

And it’s so much more than physical looks. I feel pretty awesome. I feel good in my body and in my mind. Without pills, powders or potions 😉

Namaste.

RESOURCES:
Life Spa’s Ayurvedic Short Home Cleanse
Yoga With Adriene

Want to work with me for a 4-week health journey? Click here to learn more.

Hundred Down In The Underdown 2017

Team Pic

Team HTFU

Photo credit to Kelly O’Day of Silent Sports Mag

Hundred Down In The Underdown is one of several races in the Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series. This one has a new format in which riders can choose 1, 2, or 3 of the 33 mile laps. The location is between Merrill and Irma on some of the most beautiful and rugged terrain in the region. Mixed forest with some old growth, uninhabited lakes, lush ferns, moss, Raven calls and sweet views of the scenic Prairie Dells go on for miles. And miles. This notorious trail system is a lot of things, but flat ain’t one of them 😉

This year I’ve been focusing my athletic efforts on running and bodyweight strength. In the 3 weeks between Wausau 24 and this event, I had about an hour on 2 wheels. I relied on my innate endurance to carry me through. My bicycle choices were the svelte Superlfly singlespeed or the fun, fat-tired Norco with 10 gear options instead of one. With 64 hills on the course profile, I went with gears and 15 extra pounds to lug around.

The night before the event I found out I was to be on a team with 3 of my favorite dudes in the world. I had no intentions of trying to keep up with them, but only then top 3 lap times mattered anyway. Great! No pressure. 1pm rolled around and off we went. I started dead last and was glad I did the first time I shifted into my easiest gear and came to an abrupt stop with the chain tangled in the rear wheel. Got that sorted out and motored on, absorbed in the moment and the beauty of this area. Another hill, another shift to the easy gear, another tangled chain/wheel. Alright then, I’ve figured out I have actually 3 speeds that work on this bike. All the rest either chatter to no end or end up with the chain in the wheel. So I have a 36 pound bike with 3 speeds. Ok. Well, good thing it’s a gorgeous day and I have all the time I need to get this done. I did really focus on being in the moment, which is not always easy for me. Do you ever just feel your breath? Or how your legs work to push a bike up a hill? Like really *feel* it?

So I’m pedaling along, feeling great and see this at an aid station. These guys were the greatest cheerleaders. I stopped to eat a date and have a laugh. They were at 2 more road crossings and so kind. At the last one I was feeling pretty rough and took them up on an offer of bug spray. Saved me from donating pints of blood to the hungry mosquitoes!! I’ll forever be grateful for these guys and their enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I left the next photo larger so you could see just how beautiful this is. I would say, it’s places like this that are the main reason I ride mountain bikes. The sights and smells of the forest and the feeling of moving your body through space feed my soul. Being in nature keeps me grounded. And on a bike you can usually keep ahead of the mosquitoes 😉Why I Bike

I was super low-tech for this event. No heart rate monitor, no Garmin. My phone was in airplane mode, tucked into my Camelbak just in case I needed it or needed to take a picture. Once in awhile I’d ask someone who was passing me how many miles we were in. It was around mile 22 that I felt the old familiar stabbing on my outer knee. The reason I was wearing support – to stave off problems. The reason I work on mobility. The reason I couldn’t do more than 11 laps at Wausau 24 years ago. I have tried seat adjustments, training more, training less (this time). I did find through DNA testing that I have a connective tissue disorder. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised. I heard Steve’s voice telling me that if I was having pain I should stop and call him. Mmm hmmm. Yeah… a smart person would probably do that. I’ve only had him pick me up once, when I had a pretty bad ankle sprain trail running. And anyways, it only hurt going up hills.

Friends

And then…. what a sight for sore eyes! My friends Todd and Phil. I can always keep up with Phil. Todd was on a mission and took off. Phil kindly offered to ride with me. Unfortunately, my knee was getting worse with every hill. Searing pain with every push on the pedals. I remember it took months to recover the last time this happened. I appreciated his encouragement but I told Phil to keep going. The bugs were pretty horrible and I was walking most of the hills at that point. After a couple more crashes – turns out the rigid front fork on the fat bike and the rugged terrain render the upper body kind of useless – I decided to just take a minute and send a text to Steve. I let him know I was hurting but determined to finish my 33 mile lap. I have grit if nothing else. Even if I thought I was going to cry a couple of times. Haha! Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I had to remind myself I’d come up with our team name of HTFU. Plus it was getting dark out and I had no lights.

 

 

 

Even though it’s hard to see sometimes through the pain, if you take a pause in the forest you might notice the bird songs, berries ripe for snacking, and a large piece of chaga mushroom growing on a tree. Amazing.

Friends were waiting at the finish, and the after-party was fantastic. The people make this a unique sport. Everyone is full of encouragement and kind words.

This was probably my worst physical performance on 2 wheels. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am grateful I can do it at all, and that I live in such a beautiful area of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit to Kelly O’Day of Silent Sports Mag

 

 

Why I Went Plant-Based and What I Eat In A Day

This past spring I went in for a checkup. It had been awhile. At the time, I was continuing to struggle with my weight despite regular exercise (typically 5 days per week) and eating what I thought was an incredibly healthy diet. I was puzzled. I had tried several “sugar detoxes” and would eat approximately 1200-1500 calories per day but my weight wouldn’t budge. I did have a bit of a binge on cheese, nuts or chocolate once or twice every week. I was also having breast pain every day. Driving over bumps in my car hurt.

The pain is what led me to a plant-based diet. While I awaited the barrage of tests to determine if the pain was cancerous, I read up on The Gerson Therapy and Chris Wark’s success with a plant-based diet in fighting cancer. In light of my only full-blooded sister dying at the age of 37 the year before, I figured I would do what I could in the realm of diet to try to be anti-cancer.

At my checkup, I learned that my cholesterol was stupidly high. It’s always been high-ish. This was something else. It’s kind of like when the scale doesn’t move but you’re within 5 pounds of ideal and lifting weights, versus being obese and seeing it clearly in a photograph. Obese is obese and it is unhealthy. Stupidly high cholesterol is the same.

With that, I embarked on a mostly plant-based diet. I still had eggs, cheese, and some meat until the end of April. Something about seeing human flesh at the cadaver lab I attended for massage therapy school killed my desire for meat entirely. I did try fish three times after that. I continued to eat nuts (and I know no moderation with them) as well as add oils to my food until probably mid-June.

So here we are in mid-August. 3 months roughly since I’ve had meat. More like 2 months for dairy and eggs.  I dropped 92 points in total cholesterol and 68 of those were LDL. My blood pressure and resting heart rate are picture perfect. My weight is down 15 pounds. My energy level is steady most days. My bowels are happy (hey,  I’m a nurse, I like talking about bodily functions) and most nights my sleep is good.

I was worried what all these evil carbohydrates were doing to my long-term blood sugar control. After all, I’m the one who invested $1200 in Primal Health Coach Certification recently! I was The Paleo Girl. Carbs = baaaad. Don’t eat too much fruit! Pasta?! Rice?! I thought they were horrible for you! I tried to keep my carbs under 75 grams per day.

It. wasn’t. working. I was diligent. The model paleo spokesperson. Except I was chunky and tired. I couldn’t lose a pound. And my lipid profile was in agreement that it was not working.

So, this time I retested my hemoglobin A1C which is a blood test that gives a good sense of average blood sugars over the last few months. On March 29th is was normal at 4.9 with a calculated average glucose of 94. Mid-August after eating a daily carb intake around 80%….. drum roll please….. 4.7. Estimated average 88. I feel like I’ve been wrong this whole time. Starches keep me full. Fruits are a great snack – super convenient!

Regarding proteins and people’s obsession with getting enough; did you know that the World Health Organization recommends 5-10%? Did you know plants provide that? And easily! I’m not wasting away here. I continue to gain strength and vitality in my 40’s.  I am competing in obstacle course and mountain bike races, having a great time and feeling good! Oh, and the breast pain is GONE. Completely. I do supplement iodine on a regular basis and the rest of my nutrients come from whole foods.

I don’t feel the least bit deprived. I eat a lot, actually, and most days my caloric intake is 1200-1700. I’m so full right now. I ate a lot today and came in under 1800 calories after a couple of indulgences 🙂

So, here’s a rundown of what I eat in a day when I’m working from home. My exercise regimen is pretty much running 1-3 miles each day and doing some form of bodyweight strength 2-3 times per week. I mountain bike sporadically for fun, paddle the kayak when I feel like it, and this week my strength training looks like power yoga.

Breakfast was cabbage, a few bell peppers and carrots roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. It was a huge bowl, with balsamic vinegar and Benson’s Table Tasty no-salt seasoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I snacked on 2 pieces of sprouted grain rye sourdough, plain. It’s amazing how taste buds really change. The plain bread was quite delicious. I was working and didn’t have to put any thought into it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch was something I’ve been craving for days. Roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (the broccoli was from an awesome local farmer!) with smoked paprika and granulated garlic. Plus a dash of hot sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not pictured was a very thick smoothie – more like ice cream – made from a splash of unsweetened soy milk, frozen banana, frozen dark cherries and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Super refreshing and yummy! It’s such a treat.

Supper wasn’t the most beautiful dish I’ve made but so creamy and satisfying. It’s a recipe from Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking and it’s a creamy, low-fat pasta dish that really hits the spot. I absolutely love everything I’ve made from that cookbook. Low-fat, no-added-oils, vegan and delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two kitchen gadgets have made my life so much easier. Instant Pot Duo80 and a used Blendtec Total blender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An evening glass of dry red wine, 2-3 cups of coffee per day, spring water and green tea are my beverages. Life’s too short to give those up, in my opinion.

I did change my diet for health reasons, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how much better my conscience feels on a plant-based diet. I personally see animals as sentient beings. I look at my snoring, loving dog next to me and I know she’s not made a whole lot different than a pig. Or a cow. I do have 3 ducks yet who reside in my back yard. They’re pampered pets and they do lay eggs. They are beautiful birds with personalities. You can say whatever you want, but I’m happy not to contribute the the inhumane conditions our nations livestock live in. I cry when I see the megafarms. It’s such a blatant disregard for God’s creation and it sickens me. I’m done supporting that. Further, I’m not a baby cow. The thought of an artificially-inseminated cow spending it’s short life indoors on a grate, calling out to it’s calf which has been taken from it and then when her milk production drops, she’s slaughtered…. I can’t. I’m done. It’s not healthy for anyone, and you’re kidding yourself if you think milk from any species isn’t a hormone-laden beverage. Of course is is! It’s made to grow a 60 pound calf to 600 pounds in short order.

Also, my food budget is feeling much better. Starches, locally-grown veggies, some fruits, some foraging… I can afford to eat organic now and feel good about it!

In conclusion, my health has improved. My conscience is much more aligned with my spirit. My energy is good and those I come in contact with comment on how they can feel it. My clothes fit. My checking account is happier. My impact on the planet is less. I will check in on lipids again in November when I approach my 43rd birthday, but it looks like I’m heading in the right direction!

If you’ve been plant-curious, contact me about my 4-week health coaching program. You will receive weekly menus and shopping lists, a custom exercise plan, personal training services and massage 🙂 Thanks for reading!