A Bit of Grace

she-has-fire-in-her-soul-and-grace-in-her-heart

I gave myself over to something in 2016. It was important to me. I didn’t have the perfect solution. The unfortunate side-effect of working on this particular part of my life is that I let my healthy eating take a back seat. In doing that, I lost control of my ability to reign it back in. It just didn’t matter.

Now, twelve months later, I’m admittedly frustrated with where I am, I don’t feel good in my skin, in my choices, in my clothes. I wish I could have figured it all out at the same time. So much stuff. The truth of it is, though, that my life shifted a little bit and I needed to allow that shift. I’m trying really hard not to feel shame around what I let go or anger or anxiety at how hard I will have to work to get back to the me that feels healthiest. Shame. Such a negative feeling. It is, however, how I feel sometimes right now because I think that I’m supposed to know better by now. Reality check – I clearly haven’t learned all the lessons that I’m supposed to learn around healthy eating, living, loving and more. I’ve got some growth to do.

One of the lessons that I learned this year was that of grace. Somewhere along the way, I learned that we need to afford ourselves so much grace – every day – for the things that are difficult, that we are still learning, that leave us breathless. I love eating healthily and moving my body, but sometimes life has other plans and I guess I have a few more things to learn about living a life of balance.

I afford grace to others all the time and I tend to forgive easily and let go. We are human. The key – I am also human. 2016 was not my year of health, wellness, energy, vitality. But it was a year that I needed. The positive perspective that I choose to see is that 2017 now has even more potential to be truly amazing. I have the work that I’ve done in 2016 that I will connect with the goals and desires of 2017 and I know that this time will be magical.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Magical doesn’t mean perfect and easy and all-my-dreams-come-true, but it does mean that I’m incredibly excited to begin 2017 and work towards my goals. I know there will be challenging moments, but I am almost excited for them because it is the tougher moments that teach us what we are made of. The challenges we overcome on our journey are the ones that give us compassion and acceptance and forgiveness. They are what build our strength and resilience. The challenges are acutally the point.

This year, as I work to overcome those hurdles, I choose to see them as opportunities for strength and moments to celebrate. I choose to learn and grow and be grateful. No judgment, no shame. Lots of grace.

Here’s to the learnings and JOY that 2017 will bring!

 

January 2017: Whole30 Keto-style (W30-Keto)

healthy-food

Hello there!

If you don’t know me, I’m a mom, trainer, yoga instructor, lover of trees, quiet breezes, and people just as they are. I found the Paleo lifestyle a few years ago through a friend and discovered that eating whole foods (and no gluten, grains, dairy, or alcohol) made me feel amazing. Since then, because of a number of years – like 40 – of disordered eating and a struggle to accept myself as I am, I have experienced the joys of giving my body, mind, and soul what it needed as well as the dismay of falling back into old, not-so-healthy patterns. I love eating and drinking and indulging. I also love exercise and lifting heavy weights and being active. The balance of all of that has kept me pretty healthy – even if there are still things that I want to work on.

I’ve done a few Whole30s in the past, and there’s a tab and the tag cloud that will lead you there, but this time, when a friend asked if I would do another Whole30, I started looking for a little twist. I like to experiment on myself so that I can share my experiences with others and discover new things. I’ve known about “keto/ketosis” for years, but recently I bumped into it several times through multiple channels. When that happens, I tend to listen because I believe it’s probably the universe giving me a little nudge to go check it out. So I decided to do a Whole30 in January with a Ketogenic focus.

Bonus – it aligns with reconnecting with all of you in a new way and looking at our health and wellness from a slightly different perspective.

So what is Keto? Well think Paleo with a little less protein and a little more fat.  Here are the key factors that I plan to focus on:

  1. The Paleo part: Eat meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Don’t eat processed food, grains, dairy, or alcohol. Keto keeps fruits pretty limited – see below for more.
  2. Healthy fats: Fats store toxins so if I’m increasing my fats, I will watch from where they come. I don’t always purchase the highest quality meat, ie. local, organic, pasture-raised meats. Sometimes I just need protein. If it isn’t from sources that I am comfortable with, it will be leaner choices, which means the fat will come from elsewhere. Good fats include coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, etc. No canola, sunflower, safflower, or other more processed oils high in Omega-6s.
  3. Protein: While still being more protein-forward than the Standard American Diet, it seems that protein can impact ketosis (the active burning of fat for fuel) so it is something to be watched. I lift weights regularly and, therefore, tend to want more protein for the repair and building of my muscles. This component is interesting to me, so it’s a part of what I’ll be watching, but I have a feeling it won’t really be a limitation.
  4. Fruits and veggies: I get it. Fruits and veggies have naturally occurring sugars and in order to keep blood sugar levels steady, it’s necessary to limit these. (Steady blood sugar is key for so much goodness and health!) But they are also whole foods that the body processes a little differently and so…hm. It’s not that keto says no to them, but they are quite limited because of the carb limitation. Most keto plans seem to talk about keeping carbs under 20g – especially when working to get into ketosis and for fat loss. Maintenance is a little higher (maybe 50). I can totally get my head around limiting fruit. While I love it, I definitely feel the sugar hit and while our bodies probably benefit from a little bit, we don’t really NEED it. Veggies, on the other hand, I’m a huge proponent of. I love my vegetables – yes, all of them (except okra) – and I think they do wonderful things for our insides and outsides. Here’s the low-down: 2 cups of leafy greens and 1 cup of cooked (preferably green) veggies = 10g of carbs. I generally eat that in a minute, probably at breakfast. It will be an adjustment for me and I’m willing to give it a try, especially with the knowledge that once I’ve reached my own personal goals, I might adjust that up and add in all the veggies that I love.

Those are the basics so that’s all I will say about it now. Starting January 2, I will focus on fats, protein, veggies, nuts, seeds – limiting carbs to around 20g per day. I’m excited to let the sugar dragon have a rest and to get my body humming like it loves.

Feel free to do some experimentation of your own, maybe join me for the ride. I’ll post about what I’m experiencing and will probably feel inspired to share a recipe or two. It’s not too far off from how my body loves to fuel itself and there are potentially huge pay-offs, including weight loss and hormonal balance. Real food. Reduced cravings. Balance around food.

I’m in. Anyone else interested?

Where Did I Go?

beyoutifulThis is not an easy blog post to write. I’ve been holding off for quite some time, months in fact, because I didn’t know how to handle what it was I wanted to say. I wasn’t even entirely sure that I knew what I wanted to say. Because of that, I needed to let it all sit for a while.

Some time ago, I started wondering what I really had to offer all of you. There are so many Paleo blogs out there with better photography, inventive recipes, and more relevant and informative things to say. I started to get insecure and feel really uncertain about continuing on.

One of the things that got in the way was time. I am not always inspired to slow down my cooking in order to do measurements, repeat and refine the recipe, and find the perfect setting and lighting to make it look appetizing. Instead I’m a mom and wife and trainer who is trying to hold it all together and look like I know what I’m doing. Most days go pretty well and I am very excited about the direction I think my life is headed, but sometimes I’m just breathing.

Another thing that got in the way was intent. Since I started this blog on the basis of Paleo cooking and eating, I got a little stuck in that idea and thought that if I wasn’t posting recipes, I shouldn’t be posting at all. You want recipes, right? But then I realized that maybe I have something else to offer – and occasionally a recipe to support that.

That led me to the most fundamental reason my blogging stopped. Vulnerability. To write about things that are more personal is tough. And what if it doesn’t resonate with anyone? What if it doesn’t always make sense? What if I don’t have the answer? What if I can only talk about the process, the journey, without some big revelation for you? Where is the value?

Here’s where I am with all of this right now: I’m just going to move forward AS IF you love me just as I am. I’m going to work very hard to believe that and I’m going to write from the heart. If what I say doesn’t resonate with you, then please feel free to check out the many fantastic blogs out there. But if sometimes I say something that helps you along your journey, fuels you as you strive to reach your goals, or inspires you in any way, then please stay around awhile and maybe even drop me a comment. It lets me know you’re out there and helps me know what you might need to hear.

Some of the things I imagine talking about: Food – in all it’s amazingness as well as some of the struggles it brings, Paleo, Keto, Weight loss, Motivation, Exercise, Challenges, Successes, and most importantly, learning how to love ourselves just as we are so that our very own beautiful lives can evolve and grow so that we may Shine Bright! (My mantra for 2017.)

Spicy Cauliflower Salad

Spicy Cauliflower Salad 2016

Salads of all sorts get me feeling light and fresh and nourished so I make them all the time. They are also capable of dazzling my taste buds. I definitely love meat and potatoes and other things, but salads…you can do anything with a salad! I suppose it helps to love vegetables, but part of what makes them special is what you do to them. If you haven’t found a way to prepare cauliflower that you like yet, maybe just keep going! Or zucchini or broccoli or green beans. Keep trying different preparations and maybe you’ll discover that they’re pretty delicious after all.

If you’re already a veggie-lover, then here’s another little something to throw together and serve with something grilled. Crunch from the cauliflower, tender roasted peppers, a little kick from the sport peppers – yum!

Spicy Cauliflower Salad

Salad:

1 bag frozen cauliflower florets

1 roasted red bell pepper

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 c. black olives, sliced

8 sport peppers, minced about 3 Tbsp. (or pepperoncini)

3 Tbsp. minced fresh chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 small clove of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Steam the frozen cauliflower lightly (the instructions called for 6 1/2 minutes, I cooked it for 4 minutes). Drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the roasted bell pepper into strips and add to the cauliflower along with the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, minced peppers, and chives. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad.
  4. Mix well, tossing until everything is coated.
  5. Allow the salad to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes or more so the flavors can meld.
  6. Adjust the seasonings with a little more salt and pepper if desired and enjoy!

Paleo Clean-up: Day 1

Whole30 post

And so it begins! Day 1 of any endeavor is always an exciting time, I think. You don’t really know what to expect, but you can sense that change is on the horizon. You know that there will be challenging times, but for now they remain a mystery. And you can see yourself overcoming anything, sailing through full of enthusiasm and conviction. It does get hard at times, I know, but on Day 1 it’s all about the anticipation of an end result to be proud of.

Here’s what I ate today.

4:30am – Black coffee

7:30am – 2 eggs in 1/2 tsp. coconut oil, kale salad, 1/4 avocado, blueberries, vinaigrette

11:30am – Roasted broccoli, Cherries

1:30pm – Cauliflower salad with salmon, Cherries, Coffee

5:00pm – Snap peas

6:00pm – Grilled pork chop, Spicy Cauliflower Salad, Cherries

7:30pm – Hard boiled egg, Snap peas

A few notes…I didn’t intentionally eat cauliflower salad at both meals, and it wasn’t the same cauliflower salad either. I had a different plan to go with dinner but didn’t have all the ingredients so I had to switch on the fly. Turns out that it was one of those easy and tasty recipes that I’ll have to post as soon as I can.

The other thing is that I love cherries and right now they are so good and on sale and I can’t get enough of them. I like the gorgeous Rainier ones that are plump and not quite as sweet and I like the dark Bing cherries that are super sweet. It really doesn’t matter much and I try not to eat more than a handful at a time, but don’t judge me; they’ll come up a lot. I ate a little more fruit than I do typically, but it’s summertime so I can hardly resist.

I felt really hungry after dinner and realized that I didn’t have anything to eat after my workout this afternoon. There wasn’t any fat to speak of in my dinner either and when I drop my carbs, my body still needs fuel. I prefer to give it in the form of good fats like avocados and olive oil and nuts. I have to be careful with nuts though because I have a tendency to go a little crazy with them. If I don’t need them then I try to pass. I went for an egg and another handful of veggies, which worked out great.

Something to keep in mind when eating for your healthiest self is that it isn’t about starvation. This isn’t a diet. It’s about finding the right food for you, the best way to fuel your body in a sustainable, delicious, give-your-body-what-it-needs kind of way. The early days can have some cravings that might be difficult to decipher, but once you’re past those, it’s all about tuning in. In the beginning it can be a bit of an experiment to figure out how much you need to eat and when. And all that might change as your body adapts. So stick to your Paleo choices, do the best you can to eat for true, physical hunger rather than emotional/head hunger, and make a plan for the next day.

And remember to love your journey. It’s important!

Plan, Prep, Play

planHaving a plan is one of the most important things you can do to be successful during a Whole30. I would even argue that having a weekly plan for your eating, no matter what you choose to eat, can help you stay on track with your goals and keep you moving towards success.

Imagine coming home after work or running errands or however you spend your time and being hungry. You open the fridge and find…nothing. You start trying to find something to eat, and you really want to stick with your Paleo eating, but after a handful of carrots, you’re still hungry. And there isn’t anything that will really satisfy you.

Now imagine what happens under those same circumstances when you open the fridge and find carrots and guacamole, a few meatballs, and some roasted cauliflower. Suddenly you have a meal or snack that is delicious and that makes you feel cared for and strong. You eat well and feel healthy and ready to tackle anything else that your day holds.

The work on the front end is definitely more than just winging it, but truly it’s not that difficult either. It’s more about having a plan.

The Plan

I like to start my week with a few minutes and a pen and piece of paper. I also like to surround myself with cookbooks and ideas and anything that might inspire me. I will either consider what’s in the fridge and build a menu around that or, especially if the fridge is pretty empty, I simply go with what is seasonal and what looks good.

Then I make two lists: What am I cooking? And what do I need to purchase?

It’s important to consider all your meals because when doing a Whole30, you cook real food. A lot. If it comes from a box, it probably isn’t going to fit the plan. There are a few exceptions, and in fact more and more Paleo products are appearing on grocery shelves, but for simplicity, think fresh and whole.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks all need to be considered. Don’t get overwhelmed, though. Consider the same breakfast for a week and then change it up the next week. For dinner, make more than you can imagine eating – then you have leftovers! They will save you from extreme hunger and can make the entire process easier. It’s time to love your leftovers.

The Prep

Once you have a plan, it’s time to get the prep taken care of. I’ll just touch on it briefly here because there are so many different ways to get yourself ready for the week. Here’s the thing – don’t let it make you crazy. I didn’t have a lot of time because today was a holiday and the whole weekend has been quite busy, but I took a few moments to do this:

  • Store: Cherries, berries, melon, canned tuna, eggs, salad, slaw mix, celery, giant pot roast
  • Cook: Hardboiled 8 eggs and peeled them, cut up melon, washed celery and stood it up in a container with water, cooked pot roast

There’s no great secret here. I bought and cooked whatever looked easy. It’s a busy week and I just need to eat right. So it’s not pot roast season, but it was on sale and I could put it in the oven while I was doing other things. Now there’s a couple pounds of meat that can be turned into any number of concoctions, from salads to omelets to snacks to stuffing for other veggies…all sorts of things.

Play

The idea is to get the job done without too much stress. It’s just food! This is easy, really. Hungry? Grab some beef, cook it briefly in a pan and add some chili powder and garlic and cumin, toss it with some slaw, add some bell pepper slices, tomatoes, and avocado. Splash on vinegar or olive oil or add in whatever veggies suit you. Have fun with it!

That goes for this whole journey. This isn’t a sentence to misery around food. Actually, I find that whenever I tighten things up, I usually end up feeling more engaged and energized in the kitchen. Something tasty comes out of it because I have to get creative. Just go with the flow and try new things and embrace the experience.

Eating the right things for your body is empowering so go after that feeling of radiant energy and enjoy!

 

To Feel Amazing

love life

Every once in a while, I feel the need to really clean up my eating habits and get a little more strict with my Paleo rules. I have, on a few occasions, completed a Whole30 and blogged about it on here for people to follow along. This time, however, I only have 10 days before I leave on a trip to CA. That’s not to say that I couldn’t complete the challenge despite my travels, I know that it is absolutely possible to do so, but over the years I think I have actually gotten better at balance in my life and this vacation will have some indulgences and some wine and a few other things…and I want it to. It’s not a falling off the wagon sort of thing, it’s about living my life to the fullest and experiencing the joy and pleasure that I get from sharing delicious food and wine with friends.

There are times when I’m feeling uncomfortable in my skin and I need to do a Whole30. There are times when I’m feeling out of control and I need to do a Whole30. There are times when people I care about, even total strangers, seem to need a Whole30 and so I do it then. All of these are good, valid reasons in my mind to do a Whole30. This time, though, the decision to do one was a little more subtle.

It’s true that I’m not all the way at my goal weight or as lean as I’d like to be and my eating isn’t as consistent as I want. I’ve probably had a few too many evenings where I was having a glass of wine because it was summertime. And Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or raining. I’m sure you get what I mean. But I don’t feel horrible about my choices or where I am in my life. I actually feel pretty good. Not perfect, mind you. Not by a long shot. But what is perfect anyway? One of my sisters reminded me once that she really doesn’t even like the word “perfect”. Nothing really is. Although I think sometimes everything is. Perfect in its very own existence. But that is a topic for another day.

I was thinking the other day about motivation and dreams and reaching goals, or maybe amending goals as life unfolds, and it just came to me. I feel pretty good…but I want to feel amazing! I have learned in the past three or four years that I feel amazing when I’m eating Paleo all the time, or very nearly all the time, and exercising in a variety of ways every day. My activity is pretty rock solid right now so I’m going to keep going with that, but I’d like to get a little closer to that feeling of amazing and that has to do with what I feed my body.

Strict Paleo gives me all day energy and an upbeat mood that is difficult to sway, regardless of what’s happening around me. I love it! The energy is clearly related to the food – nothing that hurts my stomach, no sugar to give me a headache, no alcohol to change my mind. Every single one of my cells loves it when I’m strict Paleo. My brain feels clearer, my body almost vibrates with all the energy, I don’t feel hungry or have any cravings. It seems easy.

So why ever eat any differently? Well…that’s life. It’s my life, anyway. I like living a little more freely and savoring different flavors and celebrating with friends in a familiar way. I’ve realized this past year that it’s fine for me to do that. I used to feel so much guilt around food choices and that piece of my puzzle is beginning to fade. I’m so glad. No more guilt around food. That is also a topic for another day.

Today is all about saying that I’m looking forward to Tuesday, excited even(!), when I will stick to my Paleo guns for 10 days so that the start of my trip has me feeling like my healthiest self. I’m sure that will also keep me making healthy choices a little more frequently while on the trip too. Maybe, just maybe, what was once a pendulum swinging like crazy for me will actually be more steady. More balanced. More me.

Excited also means that I’m in full-blown planning mode. If you’ve never done a Whole30, the one piece of advice I would give you is to get prepared. This journey is so much easier when there’s a bunch of fresh produce and cooked meat in the fridge. It almost doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s there and ready to eat. Don’t get caught out hungry with nothing to grab because that’s how we make careless choices and then are frustrated when we don’t feel successful.

All of my energy these next 10 days will be focused on giving my body, mind, and soul what it needs to feel wildly healthy. I don’t plan on thinking about something I might be missing (like wine…) but instead thinking all about what I will be getting, like bubbly water, fabulous iced teas, delicious food, constant energy, and an abundance of happy in my heart.

I hope you’ll join me on this quick little journey into health. If you have the opportunity to do all 30 days, go for it! If you make it 5 and need to start again, that’s fine too! If you’re just following along and thinking about it, that’s cool…but maybe consider just jumping on in. It’s totally worth it.