Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fab Lunch Fit for a Healthy Life!

Fab Lunch Fit for A Healthy Life!

What a blessed weekend I have had!!!  My hubby was only home for 36 hrs., so yesterday was ‘date day’!  We went to the farmers’ market to purchase some produce and meats from out local farmers.  This is one of my summer time rituals I missed out on while traveling this summer! After the farmers’ market we went to lunch, did a little window shopping and went to see Captain America.
While window shopping, hubby saw this cute black dress with tiny white polka dots and a red belt.  I had to try it on!!!  It was so adorable!  Once the dress was on, a sales lady brought me the shoes that matched the belt and another sales lady clinked the matching red bracelet onto my wrist!  Once I saw the whole outfit together, just getting the dress would be useless!  I think that may have been their goal! ;)
I feel like one of those twirly girls in a music box!
It was a lovely summer day!!!  Today, I had the pleasure of using all those farmer market finds to whip up a yummy lunch for my son and his wife.  It was a simple lunch, perfect for a summer day!

Fresh Lemon Water w/Mint

I gathered mint and dill from my garden.   I added a sprig of mint to a pitcher of fresh lemon water.  It just looks so cool and refreshing, doesn’t it?

We started lunch with a lentil, cous cous, and sweet potato soup I made earlier this week.
Lentil, Cous Cous, Sweet Potato Soup We started lunch with a lentil, cous cous, and sweet potato soup I made earlier this week.
2 15 oz. cans of organic lentils (rinsed well)
1 carton organic low sodium chicken broth
8 oz. israeli pearl cous cous
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion diced
2 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leafs
sea salt, cracked pepper and red pepper flake to taste

I made some fresh tzatziki, using greek yogurt, a cucumber (from the farmers’ market), fresh mint and dill from my garden!  It was delicious!!
Fresh Tzatziki
This was a yummy addition to the lamb burgers we made on the grill.  We combined extra lean ground beef with some ground seasoned lamb we purchased from the farmers’ market.  Topped the burgers with the tzatziki for the perfect main dish!
Others had their burgers on flat bread.  I love mine just like this!!!  The 50/50 combination of beef and lamb is just perfect for me!

Summer Salad
One of our favorite summer salad combinations!  Locally grown tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers, with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.  Sometimes we eat it just like this as a side dish, today we had it on a bed of baby spinach.
Lunch was light & yummy!  The company was sweet and the conversation was great!  My son and his wife are helping me with some graphic design stuff and computer related items that seem to be challenging for me.  It was nice to share my ideas and visions with them and for them to have the knowledge and tools to help me make it happen.
We ended lunch with some of the sweetest cantaloupe I have every had!!!  I will be going back to the farmers’ market next weekend to get even more yummy produce!
Sweet Cantaloupe
I hope you are having a fabulous and fit day today!!!  What is on your grill today?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let Them Eat Soup!!!

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to share my love and passion of the Clean Eating lifestyle with about 20 of my coworkers! What a treat! I really was not nervous, it is a subject near and dear to my heart . . . as a matter of fact I credit clean eating with saving my life and giving me the best quality of life I have ever had.

I learned a lot from doing this presentation.
1. I need to work on the sequence of information I present.
2. I need to keep it as simple as possible
3. Some people really do not care to know what is in their food
4. Some people are so hungry for information so that they, too, can make the best choices possible for their health and well being.
5. Samples are good.
6. Food prep demonstrations are awesome! I need to make sure I always assemble some food to share.

Oh and presentation is everything!!!!! Wait to you see what the food service table looked like at lunch time!!! I was so excited to see that they had selected the most awesome selection of foods.

Shortly after my presentation I started feeling one of the worst headaches I can remember experiencing in a while. I was on my way to the gym for a work out. I thought maybe I had not had enough water, or that it was a reaction to little bite of dessert I had (containing sugar and white flour), or I just needed to sweat it out! I hit the gym and worked out my lats, traps, rhomboids and lower back extensors as hard as I could. It was a fabulous workout and I was sweating profusely.

As I gathered up my gym bag and took off my lifting straps I notices that there was burning sensation in throat and around the rims of my eyes. What is this?! I have been traveling all summer, seven weeks of awesome workout, hiking, biking, running, etc.

As soon as I got home I made myself some hot tea w/vitamin C. I slid into a hot bath of epsom salt. I went to bed early hoping to sleep off whatever critter had decided to jump on for a little ride. No such luck. So today, instead of the duathlon training (bike/run) and the TRX circuit I had planned, I am resting and making soup!

The most yummy soup I must say!!!

I took pictures of most of the ingredients, because I never stick to a recipe and I never make the same soup twice. I go by craving (what appeals to my current appetite) and what is available . . . so it shifts around a bit. Today I really felt I needed a chicken stock based soup and I wanted some healthy clean carbs and a little protein without eating meat today (it just isn't appealing to me right now).


1 carton organic reduced sodium chicken stock
2 15oz. cans of organic lentils (drained and rinsed thoroughly)
1 cup of Harvest Grain Blend (cous cous)
2 medium size sweet potatoes (diced)
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leafs
3 tbsp dried rosemary needles

After cooking I tasted it and decided I wanted more kick and added some red pepper flake. It was just what I needed. I love being able to create healthy hearty soups. They are so nourishing and comforting. . . . just the things I needed today.

A friend, Lisa, had a great idea the other day and I am soooooo on it!! She asked about making and freezing soups. I did that a lot last summer and enjoyed it so much. I have been traveling so much I had even thought about all the yummy local produce that is currently in season that makes my favorite soup bases!!! I will be hitting the farmers market and CSA this weekend to get some tomatoes, lots of tomatoes!!! Zucchini!!! I'd love to gather some mushrooms and squash blossoms as well. I like to make the base for soups and then add the grains and legumes at the time of serving.

I hope you create something beautiful in your life today!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Flex-a-what? Period-a-who?

If I had to put a label on 'what' I am doing as far as my nutrition, I would have to say I am a flexitarian. I eat mostly green veggies, squash, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish and other sea foods. I have made no hard or fast rules about what I will eat or won't eat. If something appeals to me and is a clean whole food source, it is fair game to me. I am currently not eating a lot of oats or grains. I do have a little in the a.m. with some nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut milk. The reason I am currently not eating oats is because I noticed when I didn't have them for a while that my stomach felt better. I don't have problems with bloating and other intestinal issues. As far as chicken or red meats go, my body is just not liking them right now. I don't like the taste or the texture at this time. Believe me, this is no something I set out to 'accomplish' this is just the path my body is leading me on and I have learned to respect the needs of my body.

I have heard some concerns from people who care about me that they are concerned that I may be losing too much weight. I want to respect those concerns to make sure that I am not having any body dimorphic type experiences. From people who I know care I have heard, tiny, stringy, lanky, dainty, thin as a rail. These are not goal body types or images I desire. I work hard for my muscle development, health and fitness. It is not my goal to lose any more weight. There are no scale victories on my list of goals.

As some of you may remember I do a training style called periodization. Basically, every three months I change how I am training and how I am fueling to meet the demands of my training. I am in the peak phase of my training. I do this during the summer months to prepare for endurance events. In the months leading up to peak (the day of the event I want to perform my very best), I am running longer miles, more frequent runs. I am biking longer miles, more frequent rides. I am doing circuit style cross training to strengthen my core and the get a full body functional training workout. Push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, jump rope, balance and stability work, track interval runs. Calories, calories, calories being burned like crazy! It is next to impossible for me to keep up with the caloric demands of this training. So, yes, I lean out pretty rapidly near the end of peak training, especially with my diet change. I am eating very nutrient dense, low calorie foods . . .more bang per bite! After my events, August 13 and October 15, I will enter a different phase of training. I will enter my muscle building, bulking phase and work on speed instead of distance. I do that for Nov - March. This method works well for me and my life style.

My son, who lives with me, says "if anyone doubts that you eat enough, tell them I said you never stop eating!" LOL!! Because I am so active and the type of things I like to do (yoga, run, bike, hike) I do not like my tummy to have too much food in it at any time. So, I have a handful of food every couple hours. Sometimes it's two handfuls. A typical snack for me would be two tablespoons of natural almond butter with flaxseed and two - four dates.

I thought I would take some pics today of some of the foods I have eaten, just so you know I do eat!

Started my day with a small bowl of california cherries and a glass of lemon/ginger water.

about an hour later I had a little organic granola, with chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, dates and coconut milk added.

Lunch was two handfuls of raw spinach, one handful of shredded brocco-slaw, alfalfa sprouts, and this delicious dressing I found at a whole foods market in Virginia!

I added a tilapia fillet to the salad for lunch

Then headed to the gym for my duathlon training! It is toooooo hot for this chicky outside!!! Today was ride/run training. I started with 30 min. bike ride. I alternated one song of standing out of the saddle climbing, with one song of seated recovery. Then I hit the treadmill for 30 min. of running. This is not a speed training day, this is just to get in the training 'brick' to help my body adapt physiologically to be at it's best for the event day.

A little post workout sweaty face shot! Oh, believe me, more than my face was sweaty! My clothes were sticking to me!

After my workout I had a handful of this yummy homemade granola I made before I went to the gym! And a green monster smoothie!

Tonight for dinner I will have an egg frittata with spinach, garlic and maybe a little feta cheese. It has been a lovely day and I am feeling amazing! I hope you did something today that made your day special!

Be blessed. Be beautiful. Be YOU!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vida de La Diva . . . loca, loca!

It has been a crazy busy wonderful summer! And it just keeps getting better. Well, I don't know that to be true. . . the cumulative goodness is amazing, but each individual event is uniquely deliciously wonderful! I have had the privilege and blessing of meeting some of the most awesome people this summer and spending time doing the most amazing things. I have taken pictures almost every day to help me capture some of the yummy I have experienced this summer. I have shared most of those pictures along the way and will do a brief recap at the end of the summer.

Right now I am unpacking from my most recent trip. A weekend long YogaFit workshop about three hours from my house. We stayed in a hotel over the weekend, and it is a good thing we did! Workshops ran from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sat. and Sun. I was exhausted after Saturdays session and starving! I rushed back to the hotel to meet up with my hubby and walked the five blocks to the restaurant!

YogaFit workshop instructors, Shannon and Macy! Super sweet gals! They lead us through the most amazing yoga flows! Loved it!

For dinner, hubby and I went to the same restaurant that we had gone to on Friday night, because they serve the freshest, healthiest foods! All locally grown and raised, prepared fresh and delicious!

We ate out on the sidewalk patio area to enjoy the college town atmosphere and fresh air. But, the inside of the restaurant was so homey and lovely!

Saturday night was my pescatarian night. For those of you who don't know what that means, pescatarians are basically vegetarians who eat eggs, fish and dairy. I am not currently doing any dairy during the summer. In June I changed to a pescatarian diet while doing two weeks of hot yoga in Michigan. I have been following what my body needs on any given day and honoring what it needs. While in Virginia, I switched to be more raw vegan two - three days in a row and then have fish and eggs on the third day. I have not made any hard and fast rules about what I will eat or will not eat. As long as it is clean, whole, unprocessed foods, they are fair game. However, at this time this is what my body wants and I am feeling marvelous.

Delicious! The cucumber salad had a fresh habanero sauce on it! I think the salmon fillet had a jerk rub on it and the rice had coconut in it. Yummers!

Sweet potato fries w/mango ketchup! This was our appetizer while we waited for dinner to be prepared.

I am currently in the process of unpacking my car, washing my laundry and repacking a suitcase for my next adventure! I am heading to the San Francisco area of California for a couple days! My hubby is out there on business and I get to go out to spend some time with him and to meet a couple more of my spark buddies! I am so excited!!! So much to see and do and such little time to do it all in!

The day after I get back from California, I am speaking at the university about clean eating! Such a hoot! When I was younger I was such a chatter box (still am) and even got dubbed Chatty Cathy at one point. . . . people would have paid me to please shut up! And now, I am getting paid to speak! LOL!!! Life is good!

I have so many things coming up in the next couple months!

Aug. 1 return to work part time
Aug. 13 is my duatholon - run .6/ ride 15/ run 3.1
End of Sept. - vacation to Hilton Head, SC
Oct. - teach an all day workshop (yoga/clean eating/boot camp workout)
Nov. - visit a friend in Seattle Wash. and cheer her on in her quest for her dream!

Oh, and somewhere in there I need to do my 8 hrs. of community service for my yogafit certification. I will be sharing yoga with people who would otherwise not be able to afford classes. I have not yet decided where or when or to whom I will be sharing that with. Maybe a womens shelter, the YMCA or right here in town through the Helping Hand Ministry. Here is all I do know, when I am willing and the timing is right, God will open the doors to where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.

Be brave, be bold, be fierce and be fabulous! Be YOU!!! You are already amazing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dance with the One Who Brung Ya!

In general woman are fickle and easily persuaded by public opinion. Oh, I know that is a huge stereotype that we would like to refute . . . but, there is a lot of truth to it. If it were not true, diet companies would not have celebrity spokes people to promote their plans. If it were not true, we would not be drawn to every magazine cover that says "Drop a dress size in 8 days!" Or "Eat whatever you want and lose weight!" We are prone to quick fixes and pie in the sky dreams.

How many 'weight loss plans' have you been on for a week or two or even a month or two, where you started feeling good and seeing some differences . . . until you 'fell off the wagon' and then you looked around for a different wagon to jump on. Hey, wait, what was wrong with the wagon you were on? So, you got bumped off? It was a totally good wagon up until that point.

When I first started clean eating I felt marvelous from the get go. My blood pressure started coming down, my energy coming up, inches were melting away and my confidence was increasing daily. Then I hit a little blip and made some not wise choices. All the sudden I started questioning my ability to make good choices for myself. I felt desperate that I would never again make a good choice and that my ability to succeed would always be out of my reach if I did not find another plan to help me stay on track. Then a friend reminded me, hey, what you have been doing has been working great for you, why find another plan? Just go back to working the plan you were on!

Sometimes in life we hit rough waters and it takes all we have to row our own boats. When the storms of life hit and and knock out your oars or you lose the strength to paddle, either put more people in the boat to help row or ask some of your friends to help fill your sails for a while. You can't jump out of the boat every time the waters get rough! Row baby row! And if you need to, ask for a tow to shore.

Oh, boats, wagons, bumps, rough waters . . . so many analogies. The bottom line is it's not always the plan that needs to be changed, sometimes we just need to work the plan that we have. For me, the music I dance to is clean eating (clean source whole foods). I tweak what my plate looks like and from what part of the food chain I get my nutrition, but it is always clean, healthy, whole foods.

Recently, while traveling I switched my clean eating to look more like raw vegan three days in a row, then a day of pescatarian (eggs, fish), and then back to raw vegan for three days. This worked very well for me. The reasons I did this were two fold. One, I needed to eat lighter on the days I did hot yoga. Before class I wanted to be careful what I ate, after class I felt so good, I didn't want to defile my body in any way. The second reason was, while traveling I would often pack a lunch cooler for the whole day and be out biking, hiking, visiting, etc. I did not want to worry about dairy, meat or eggs spoiling in my lunch box. If fruits, nuts, veggies, berries and seeds get warm, they are still good to eat. The result of switching my diet was that I lost 6 lbs. in 18 days. I was also hiking, biking, etc. on most of those days. In the past six weeks I have lost 8 lbs and feel marvelous!

This girl will be twirling and dancing with the clean eating lifestyle forever! This is the way I want to feel for the rest of my life. Oh, hey, they are playing my song! Gotta go!

20 Tricep Dips at each rest stop and gas station on the way home from VA.

20 Incline Push Ups at each rest stop and gas station

20 Step Ups at each rest stop . . . no step at gas stations

Comfy dress for traveling and twirling!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Think We Need a Bigger Flashlight

I've caught a little flack over the years for speaking out about domestic violence and mental health issues. I truly believe that it is in secrecy and isolation that these things are allowed to grow to astronomical proportions and affect generations far into the future.

Dealing with mental health issues, is difficult for the person suffering with the diagnosis and the family and friends who love and try to support them. Many mental health issues are chemical imbalances in the brain, that prohibit the 'proper' development and interpretation of thoughts. I believe there is a huge societal stigma against people who struggle with mental health issues. Once you have that diagnosis, it is hard to even get a doctor to look at a health issue without taking the mental health component into account. It was very frustrating to me years ago when I struggled with some post traumatic stress issues following a car accident and had problems with anxiety attacks. Once It was diagnosed as an anxiety attack and I was put on medication, I felt so much better and could cope a lot easier, however, every time I went to the doctor for anything they chalked it up to an anxiety issue.

If I had diabetes and needed medication, there would not be a stigma, guilt or shame attached to that.

My oldest son has chronic kidney failure and had a transplant when he was 16, he will be on medications for the rest of his life. Some of those meds cause some nerve damage and loss of some fine motor skills.

Many women have hormone imbalances and take various forms of hormone replacement therapy to keep them in balance.

When things are kept in secret, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress syndrome, feelings of isolation, deprivation, guilt and shame abound. The chemical imbalance can be treated, when a light is cast on it and the patient is willing to seek care. The feelings of isolation come from thinking you are the only one and that no one could possibly understand what you are going through.

If you are struggling with a chemical imbalance that is leaving you feeling isolated, depressed, anxious, etc. . . . simply know that it does not make you weak, a bad person, unlovable or in any way evil. There is not guilt or shame. There is help for you and in helping yourself, you are showing compassion to those who love you.

I'm standing with a big flashlight saying come out into the light, you do not have to live in bondage. You are free to be who you were created to be, you are worthy of love and happiness.

Monday, July 11, 2011

He Loves Me, He Love Me Not

Certainly you remember this from your childhood days!

Throughout my life I have always known that my dad love me. I could feel his love when I was younger. He would take me fishing and hunting with him. He taught me everything I know about skating, swimming, basketball, baseball, and every childhood game you can think of. I learned knife safety and gun safety. I learned to shoot a bow and was vice president of the archery club in high school.

As I grew older the love I felt from my father changed, I guess in someways a father has trouble expressing appropriate feelings for a girl as she goes through physical changes and hormonal changes. But, my dads chemistry was changing too. My dad was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic when I was in high school.

Through the years he had been aggressive and verbally abusive to my mother and I had stepped in the middle many times. My dad has a very deep bias against women. In his mind women are all liars, cheaters and whores. When you have a bias that deep, your mind is not looking for information that refutes that bias, but seeking information to supports it. There is a saying that goes "A mind changed against it's will is of the same persuasion still". So, no amount of good doing and righteous living would change that bias. Believe me I tried to be the good girl. To the point of being considered a prude by most of my classmates. Funny, teased for being a prude and a virgin at school and berated at home for being a lying whore.

When a couple of the guys on my bus caught wind of the fact that my father was so strict and that I was so prudish, they decided to make a little sport out of it. So, they took turns calling my house and telling my father that I was skipping classes and having sex with various guys in the bushes at school. No amount of me assuring my father that these allegation were untrue seemed to soothe his anger. I could not reason with him that there is no way I could be skipping classes without there being a record of it. I was in every class. I rode the bus to school and home from school. . . there was no place, no time and there was nothing happening. So, I was getting picked on at school, harassed on the bus, and my father was berating me at home about being a 'lying whore'. I do not remember how long the calls and berating went on, but it seemed like forever.

This singular event really marked me in some not so good ways. I remember the boys names, their words and their threats. I also remember the feeling that it just was not safe or happy to be a girl.

This past week, visiting in Virginia, my father was particularly agitated.  He has been watching the Casey Anthony trail non stop. This has just fed his anger and distrust for women. Each day I could sense his agitation growing and his speech becoming more venomous.

On Friday, I planned to spend four - five hours with my mother on her day off cooking and chatting, looking through clean eating recipes, etc. Dad was at the house, and was agitated. One tiraid after another. First on 'christians', then on 'whoring', then on the protective instincts of parents. When he said to me "You know if someone came up here making accusations about you, I would have to take them down". I just couldn't let it go this time. I have nodded my head in appeasement too many times. I have said "I know you love me, dad", when at times his actions are not very loving and have hurt me deeply. I cannot shove down feelings anymore. Feelings that are shoved down just pop up somewhere else in unattractive and destructive ways. I was not angry with him, I just could not agree with him. So, I said "Actually, when others made accusations about me, you believed them and I got punished, repeatedly". He had no memory of the event or any other event and denied it had ever happen. Which is fine. I really did not need him to remember or apologize. I had forgiven him and myself two years ago when I started this journey towards health.

He pressed me for details and I gave him specific names and details of the phone calls and the pursuant interrogations, allegations and threats I received from him for days. He called me a liar and said I had dreamed these things up. Then he kept calling me a liar and added, "Carolyn, you are lying LIKE that whore Casey Anthony". I am used to this type of comparison and taking on the punishment he believes to be due to some other woman, in his mind we are all equal. One deserves to be burned at the stake, they all do.

Here is what my heart hears:
Carolyn = liar
Carolyn = whore
Carolyn = Casey Anthony

My father has put me on the scales of justice and found me guilty on all charges. There is nothing I could say or do that would change his mind. When he made that statement, all the alarms in my head went off that said I was in danger and it was time to leave. I immediately left. A few old wounds opened and oozing as I got into my car. I drove to my in laws, went straight to bed, curled in a fetal position and pulled the covers up over me.

I need to be comforted. I need to feel safe. I called my hubby. No answer. I got on line to see if he was on chat. No. But my son was, I hate to dump on my kids. Tim is very mature and loving. I didn't go into the facts, I just told him I was hurting and needed some love. He was very sweet and compassionate. I reached out to my best friend, Chuck. He helped calm me down and I was able to cry and take a little nap and felt much better . . . though still shaken.

My mother called me to make sure I wasn't binging and that I was okay. I assured her that he does not have the power to define me or limit me in any way anymore. I am the daughter of the King Most High, my value and my worth are far more than a few negative words can take away.

I am not angry with my dad. I am hurt. I do realize that my dad loves me, but his love cannot protect me from the destruction of mental state that says attack and destroy. That instinct in him is too deeply seeded and with nothing to balance it or counter it, I cannot allow it in my life.

Does he love me . . . yes.
Does he understand that loving someone does not mean possessing, oppressing, controlling, bullying and otherwise degrading . . . God, I hope not. I have to believe he is unable to understand that . . . otherwise his attacks are intentional, to purposely destroy and that is not love.

2 Cor. 4:8
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.