nutrition

Fueling Up!

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Things have been going so well with my knee that I’ve stopped blogging my daily workouts and am going back to just writing about unique workouts and nutrition! It also doesn’t help that it’s school season again so my full-time job has ramped up and I’m once again at the mercy of teachers and students needing all things technical.

Yesterday I signed up for The Heist!! This is an all-women’s bouldering competition held at Central Rock Gym (my home gym) in Watertown, MA. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it after CRG’s Ring of Fire comp back in March. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to compete due to my knee, but I’m back in the gym twice a week and I’m feeling strong so let’s do this!

I’ll admit, I’m nervous. I’m still very much a beginner climber; my height to weight ratio really works against me in the gym. So even though I’ve been climbing twice a week since January, my techniques’ just so-so and I’ll be competing at a beginner’s level. This means I’ll be attempting 5 bouldering problems rated V0-V2 over the course of 3 hours. That is a LONG comp, much longer than the one I did back in March. I honestly rarely do gym sessions that are so long and while the length is really to give people time to rest between attempts, folks who need more attempts (as I might due to my level) will just end up climbing more. My goal is literally to not come in last. This is a real goal for me because in my last comp, well, I came in last. 

Due to the healing time for my knee I missed out on the chance to train with The Heist CRG Team so for now I’m on my own. I’m training by bouldering once a week to gain strength and skill and top roping once a week to help me with endurance. I also just treated myself to new shoes (I’ll blog about those another time) since my old shoes were starting to fall apart and really weren’t ideal for bouldering. On the days I’m not in the gym I’m doing a mix of cardio (biking for my knee), tabata/HiiT workouts, kettlebell strength training, and yoga.

It’s been interesting, as I work to strengthen my legs and upper body I’ve been gaining weight. A chunk of that is from new muscle, but if I’m honest with myself a larger chunk comes from allowing myself to drift into a summer junk food diet cheating more and more on my allergy diet. I’d still say overall I’m a very healthy eater, but I’ve had fried clams/oysters, lobster salads, bagels with lox, burgers and beer, Mexican and margaritas, and all sorts of things that are great once in a while but not once a week. It’s time to slim down, which means being strict about not eating foods I’m allergic to and keeping my portions reasonable with a paleo-tilt. Every pound in my body is a pound I’m dragging up the wall with me. Thankfully, this is also harvest season so my kitchen is FULL of local, organic produce, most of which from my or my Dad’s garden.

This week I’m trying out a few new recipes. The first one was Punjabi Baingan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish that I actually enjoy (I usually hate eggplant). I basically followed that recipe to a T except that I quadrupled the amount of garam masala, added a little turmeric and cardamom, and used an immersion blender at the end. Its was so good!

Last night though was INCREDIBLE!! It was adapted heavily from this recipe, but I’ll put my whole recipe here.

Grilled Chicken with Raw Peanut Ginger Lime Veggies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, or an oil of your choosing
  • 3 large or 5 small carrots, spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 large zucchini spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 medium beet spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter if you’re strict paleo)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk (use canned or “cooking coconut milk”)
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

*Note: I use the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer but have my eye on the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. The GEFU works well for zucchini but for the carrots and beets I just used a vegetable peeler to make strips.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill (if it’s not grilling season you can pan-fry the chicken in coconut oil, ghee or an oil of your choosing). In a small bowl mix olive oil, salt and pepper and brush on chicken (note: if you’re pan-frying just sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken).
  2. In a medium bowl mix the nut butter, coconut milk, aminos, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and lime juice. 
  3. Begin grilling the chicken, depending on the thickness it should be grilled about 6 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  4. Mix spiraled/peeled veggies with cilantro and stir in sauce.
  5. After chicken has cooled for ~5 minutes cut it into bite-sized chunks and mix in with the “pasta” until fully coated in the sauce.
  6. Serves two!

Finally, here are two of my favorite DIY workouts from the past two weeks. These are both core and lower-body intensive to compliment my climbing and knee recovery, but they are still full-body workouts (and both started with 30 mins on the exercise bike doing intervals and end with 15-20 mins of yoga):

8/22/2014 3 Rounds for Time (my time = 20 mins)

  1. KB backward lunge row and pass under x 20 (26lb KB)
  2. Weighted sit-up and butt-lift x 10 (15lb dumbbell)
  3. Single-leg lateral lift x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. KB Single-leg deadlifts x 5 each side (26lb KB)
  5. Single-leg kick-backs x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)

9/3/2014 – 2 Rounds for Time (my time = 22 mins) – I purposely lowered the KB weight for this per my Physical Therapist as I get back into weighted squats. I’d normally use a 26lb KB so choose your own weight that’s right for you.

  1. Weighted double-leg lifts x 15 (5 lb ankle weights)
  2. Single-leg lateral lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  3. Single-leg medial lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. 2 X 20 Kettlebell One-Arm Swings (15lb KB)
  5. Figure 4 Squats x 12 each leg (15lb KB)
  6. Weighted Deadlift kickbacks x 15 each side (15lb KB + 5 lb ankle weights)

Enjoy the beginning of the change of season and remember to eat those fresh veggies!!

 

Steak and Exercise

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I got a good cardio workout in today, plus those evil PT exercises:

Time: 1:15

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 30 mins cycling, using Random intervals, average level 8.
  3. 30 mins swimming laps.

I was feeling all that cardio today, more-so than earlier in the week. I greatly enjoyed a little nap afterwards. 🙂

As always, exercise needs to be paired with a good diet to be effective. Last night I made a stellar carne asada and baby kale salad (if I do say so myself) and I thought you might appreciate the recipe. Paleo and delicious!

Paleo Carne Asada and Baby Kale Salad
Paleo Carne Asada and Baby Kale Salad

Paleo Carne Asada

Ingredients (for 2-3 people):

Note: Sauce ingredients make enough for up to 9lbs of meat.

  • 3lbs Grassfed Skirt Steak, tenderized (the more you tenderize, the more it will soak in the sauce)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1/3 cup lime juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Bragg’s amino acids or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Optional: 1 dried chipotle pepper finely ground (this will really make the dish spicy, without it the sauce isn’t too hot, I didn’t add it personally)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and whisk until well-mixed. Remove one cup of the mixture and reserve it for later.
  2. Add the steak to the marinade and marinate covered in the fridge anywhere from 5-24 hours. Skirt steak is traditionally a tougher cut so the longer it marinates the more tender it is, though some skirt steak (like the Boyden Farm one I purchased from Vermont) is already quite tender so 5 hours is enough time. If it’s particularly tough you can let it marinate for up to 48 hours.
  3. Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat.
  4. Grill ~5 mins each side for medium rare.
  5. Slice the meat across the grain. Pour the rest of the marinade over the meat and serve.

Baby Kale Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large handfuls of baby kale
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 medium-sized lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix kale, cilantro, avocado and tomatoes.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss with lime juice.

The salad and steak really compliment each other. I love mixing warm meat with cool veggies this time of year. For the salad, definitely feel free to add whatever fresh vegetables you have around. I grabbed a zucchini from my garden and forgot to use it but thankfully I have more kale and will be recreating this salad again tonight. It’s been a staple in my lunches as well as it’s a very easy salad to through together at work and lime + cilantro is basically like crack. So tasty!! Enjoy!

Recovering from Injury

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About two weeks ago I wrote a long post about how I injured my knee at the end of May and the many frustrations I’ve had seeking proper treatment for it. I thought it was my best entry ever, which meant, naturally, that the entire body of the post disappeared when I hit “publish”. After much ado, tech support let me know there was no hope in getting it back. I will hopefully wrangle up the hutzpah to re-write it at some point, but for now I’m just moving on.

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So, quick facts on what’s up:

  1. The last week of May I banged my knee against the climbing walls while bouldering (not unlike me, I have very little grace in my legs when I climb) and bruised my distal quad tendon right at the top of the patella.
  2. The very next day I could barely move my knee and was in a ton of pain. Ice/rest/elevation and I was getting better.
  3. Feeling better, I went back to my normal workouts, which left me unable to walk for two days…crap.
  4. Spent a month modifying workouts and using ice when needed. No pain killers. Still struggling with pain so I saw my PCP, who sent me to an Orthopedist, who diagnosed me with a very small tear on the distal quad tendon and sent me to Physical Therapy.
  5. I haven’t been able to teach yoga since I can’t squat or lunge, I also can’t run/jump or do bodyweight exercises with significant quad engagement. Not easy, but I’ve been making it work.
  6. Just started PT yesterday, which already has made a difference. I have scar tissue in my quad so it will take 4-6wks to repair, as opposed to ~3 if I came in right away, but it WILL repair.

So I’m looking at about another month of recovery as long as I’m careful and keep my fitness up. Unfortunately, much of what I’ve been asked to do (swimming, cycling) I can’t do at home so my loving partner bought me a 1 month membership at our local cattle-call gym. It’s one of those fancy Boston Sports Clubs and, frankly, I fucking hate it. That said, recovery is the most important thing. I’m a physical person, I have two physical jobs and I was preparing for a climbing comp in September, which I still have a chance for if I take care of myself. My leg will also, hopefully, be with me my entire life so I have to treat it right.

I’m posting today to start a log of my workouts. This may not be daily, but I thought this would both help me track what I’m doing and possibly help give others with knee injuries ideas on what they can do. The most common thing I see as a massage therapist is clients who get injured, get out of a normal exercise routine, lose fitness and struggle to get it back or give up entirely and become sedentary. I’ve personally seen this lead to chronic health issues including depression, chronic aches and pains, insomnia, and in extreme cases issues like heart conditions and diabetes due to weight gain. Let’s face it, we all know proper diet and exercise make a huge improvement to our quality of health, so the lack of exercise can lead to poorer health. This is one of the reasons I’m fighting to stay fit, while also ensuring I treat my knee right to prevent further injury. The Orthopedist said this is not a time to “play through the pain” unless I want to be back in 6 months with a completely torn tendon; at which point I would need surgery. No surgery, please!

On to the workouts…

First one is a circuit I’ve been doing at home. I start with a 5-10 min warmup and end with ~15 minutes of yoga for a cool down, ensuring that I’m not doing lunges, squats or two-legged planks on the right.

No knee pain circuit (repeat 2-3x) – Total Time 30-45 mins
  1. One-Legged Wide-Arms Pushups x 10 (bad leg on top)
  2. Bicep and forearm curls x 20 each (10lbs)
  3. Tricep overhead and push x 20 each (10lbs)
  4. L side-crunch x 20
  5. R side-crunch x 20
  6. Chest push and flys x 20 each (10lbs)
  7. Kettlebell Seated Twists x 40 (26lbs)
  8. Weighted sit-ups x 10 (15lbs)
  9. Butt-lifts->legs straight full sit-ups x 10
  10. One-Legged Close-Arms Pushups x 10 (bad leg on top)

And here’s what I did for my first two days at the gym:

7/14/14 – Total time: 1:15

  1. 45 min spin class without standing
  2. 10 mins stretching
  3. 8 laps in olympic-sized pool, various strokes
  4. 10 mins sauna

Reaction: Spin class was SO BORING!! I really struggle with machines that use a lot of cardio but don’t go anywhere. I get the rat-in-a-cage syndrome. That said, I have to bike right now so…

7/15/14 – Total time: 1:15

  1. 30 mins cycling, using intervals for both speed and tension
  2. 5 mins upper-body stretching
  3. Circuit 2x of:
    1. Chest push and flys on ball x 10 each (12.5lbs)
    2. Bicep and forearm curls x 10 each (12.5lbs)
    3. Tricep overhead and push on ball x 10 each (12.5lbs)
    4. Leg lift series (per PT):
      1. Lying on back, lift one leg up, foot flexed, and lift upper body into a crunch x 10 each side.
      2. Side leg-lifts x 10 each side.
      3. Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 10 each side.
    5. Side-crunches x 10 each side.
  4. 5 mins stretching
  5. Swam 5 laps, various strokes, one lap with kick board.
  6. Attempted to sit in steam room, it smelled like a pile of old socks.

 Reaction: This was much more my style, even though I still wanted to gauge my eyes out during the cycling. It’s so boring. I have to find a way to make it more fun. The circuit was good, shorter than I’d like but it’s hard to fit everything in before work. As it is, ideally my PT would like me to do 40 mins on the bike and I’d like to have swam longer, but I really needed the circuit to make me feel good in my upper body and abs. I realize swimming is a full-body workout, but as someone who’s used to lifting weights, it’s not enough for my upper body.

Through this process I’m also tightening up my diet. I have been cheating on my food allergy diet off and on since moving back to MA; lots of temptations down here. It’s amazing that in just not eating the things I’m allergic to I drop weight immediately…like 7 lbs in a week. That’s just pure gut inflammation, and I was feeling it as my belly started protruding again. For the record, this is not a calorie-restrictive diet, it’s simply not eating the foods I was diagnosed as being allergic to. Huzzah science!

Speaking of which…after a workout like that a healthy breakfast is imperative! This is what I went for:

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Eggs on a gluten-free millet bun with half an avocado with salt + pepper and a small handful of fresh fruit. I have my healthy fats, a good amount of protein, and some carbs to perk me up. Feeling great!!

All About The Juice, Part 2

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Well, I made it through the 3-Day Juice Cleanse! This post will discuss the reactions my partner and I had to the cleanse and it will contain the recipes I used for our dinners. For a full description of the cleanse, including tips and recipes, check out my previous post “All About The Juice, Part 1“.

Reactions:

Goals

My partner and I did this cleanse together. My goal was to clean out my digestive tract after being wishy-washy with my food allergy diet over the winter. I also wanted to see what a juice cleanse was like. His goal was purely to experience the juice cleanse.

His Experience

My partner chose not to do any prep work for this cleanse (which is not advisable) so day 1 for him was also day 1 with no caffeine. This makes it a little tough to decipher the difference between the juice cleanse and caffeine withdrawal. He was very tired the first two days. He felt his sense of smell was heightened as soon as day 1 and that his skin was clearer. He experienced feeling cold the first two days. He also said he had an overall feeling of being healthier but that he couldn’t describe that in specific terms.

He said if he felt the diet was sustainable he would stay on it because he liked how it made him feel. He did experience food cravings though overall he felt like it was such a large quantity of juice that he wasn’t hungry, he was just wishing his food intake was something other than juice. 😉 He also questioned the amount of sugar he was consuming and how that was effecting his body. He experienced bad breath throughout the cleanse (more on that later) and a slight metallic taste in the mouth. He did not weigh himself before/after.

Her Experience

I prepped for 1.5 weeks in advance by getting back on my food allergy diet (no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, coffee, and a few misc. items) and also stopped processed foods and alcohol. It should probably be noted that I’ve been off caffeine for over a year now so there were no issues with withdrawal. In just the 1.5 weeks before the cleanse I had lost 5 lbs, showing how much bloating/inflammation I was getting from eating things I was allergic to (when I first was diagnosed with food allergies I lost 30lbs).

Day 1 I was pretty grumpy. I agree with my partner that the amount of juice we were consuming was a little ridiculous; it was about 20 cups worth per day. I felt like I hardly had a chance to drink water because it took me so long to drink all the juice. Calorie-wise though we were under average for the day so I also felt compelled to drink it all. I was not hungry, though just like my partner I had cravings for fatty foods. I was very glad to have warm foods at night as I was feeling very cold, though I couldn’t finish my (very small) dinner because I felt so full. I also had periods during the day of feeling like I was high and I attribute that to the gut-punch of nutrients in my system.

Day 2 it continued to feel like a chore to make and drink the juices, but the food cravings went away. I still battled with feeling cold so I drank hot water and tried to get some sun. I drank the juices faster so I would have some time in between to digest. As with my partner, my sense of smell seemed heightened and my skin seemed healthy and glowing. I did have a strong metal taste in my mouth and it was bothering me a bit. I still felt very full until after dinner when I finally had a great purging experience. 😉 I feel like I got that colon cleanse I was looking for! After that things got a lot better.

Day 3 I had no problem with the juices. I had a ton of energy and was in a great mood. I felt like if I had the money to afford all those fruits and veggies that I could have continued with the cleanse. I had no food cravings and still felt full most of the day. I continued to have the metallic taste in my mouth until after dinner and in researching it I believe my partner and I were in a state of ketosis. I had not heard of that before and it was a little disturbing but after reading up about it it makes sense. In very brief terms it’s the body’s natural reaction to being starved of fats. That also made me wonder if the sugar intake was actually ok. My partner combated this by taking chlorella often (over the daily recommended dose), which he believed helped. I was taking normal daily doses of chlorella and didn’t notice a difference.

Today I was happy to break the fast with some eggs over easy fried in coconut oil, avocado, berries and a green smoothie. I’m curious to see how I digest that and I intend to eat light healthy meals for lunch and dinner. (*Edit: no problem digesting it, though I didn’t have the appetite for large meals during the day and now, three days later, I still loose appetite faster than usual.u)

Breaking the juice cleanse!
Breaking the juice cleanse!

Dinner Recipes

It’s recommended to eat small meals consisting of just fruits and veggies for dinner while doing the juice cleanse. Tim and I chose to add some healthy fats in as well since our goal was not weight-loss and adding in healthy fats really helps with food cravings. We were also feeling cold during the cleanse so we cooked hot meals. Raw meals are a great option if you don’t feel chilly. These are just the three basic meals I made, there are certainly hundreds of others out there.

Mashed Cauliflower with Kale

Mashed Cauliflower with Kale
Mashed Cauliflower with Kale

This is a great comfort meal, not dissimilar to mashed potatoes. In fact, when I’m not cleansing I make them with either butter or ghee instead of coconut oil and it often fools people into thinking they’re potatoes! Note, I couldn’t eat my whole bowl, but my partner had no trouble eating his. I saved the rest and threw it into the last recipe listed here.

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 heads Cauliflower
  • half bunch of Kale, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Steam cauliflower until tender (~15 minutes).
  2. Steam kale until tender (~5 minutes).
  3. Add cauliflower and all remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. I like to leave mine just a little chunky so it has that mashed-potato feel to it.
  4. Toss with kale, top with additional paprika for color.

Simple Skillet Kale with Portobellos

Ingredients (for two):

  • large bunch Kale, chopped into large slices
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 1/2 large Vidalia Onion (or a whole small one), peeled and chopped.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 large Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt + Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Add onions and mushrooms, season with cumin, salt and pepper and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent and the mushrooms are a bit browned on each side.
  3. Add kale, garlic and additional salt and pepper as desired. Fold the onions/mushrooms and oil over the kale. Cover and let steam for a few minutes, or until the kale is bright green and slightly wilted.
  4. Remove from heat, squeeze with lemon, enjoy!

Veggie Pasta

Veggie Pasta
Veggie Pasta

I make this meal often in the summer and usually add in chickpeas. It’s versatile, quick and delicious!!

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 small Zucchini, either spiraled or use a peeler to create thin slices
  •  2 small Summer Squash, either spiraled or use a peeler to create thin slices
  • 1 Portobello mushroom, chopped
  • 1/2 a Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat until fully melted.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon, parsley and salt and pepper.
  3. Add onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent and the mushrooms are a bit browned on each side.
  4. Add zucchini and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until it’s warm and bright.
  5. Add whisked dressing and stir to coat. Let cook another 30-60 seconds. Enjoy!
  6. *Note: Mine looks a little creamy in the picture because I threw in the leftover mashed cauliflower that I had. 🙂

If you try a juice cleanse I’d love to know how the experience goes for you!

All About The Juice, Part 1

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Back in January I made a large post on cleansing. Spring is often a valuable time to cleanse to help the body make the transition from winter hibernation mode, which often involves indulging in comfort foods and drink, to the Spring Cleaning mode of enjoying more light and activity. As I mentioned in my post, there are several types of cleanses. Since I keep a fairly “clean” diet due to my food allergies, I decided to go with one of the more intense cleanses and try a three day juice cleanse. Fresh homemade juice is extremely nutrient-dense and a great way to load up your body on nutrients and give your digestive organs a little break by only processing liquid. Even if you have no interest in cleansing, this post will include several tips on juicing and the juice recipes can be used any time in addition to your regular diet.

For any new readers, I want to be very clear that I am not a nutritionist. I have personally learned quite a bit about nutrition over the years from a combination of working with healthcare professionals and dealing with my own food allergies, but by no means do I claim to be a professional. This is all my personal educated opinions.

I’ve been making fresh juices for several years now, but this is the first time I’ve done an actual juice cleanse. I’m doing a very short juice cleanse, just three days, but I began the dietary changes to prepare for the cleanse about 1.5 weeks ago and once I’m done juicing it will still be at least a few days of easing out of it. So if you’d like to do a juice cleanse I recommend thinking of it as a 2.5-3 week process, not just three days. By taking the time to do the prep and post work it’s a smoother transition for the body and I believe it helps make the results longer-lasting instead of just using this as a quick crash diet and going back to eating crap afterwards.

It was particularly important for me to try the juice cleanse right now because since moving back to the Boston area I’ve been cheating on my food allergy diet ~2-3 times/wk and I was really feeling my symptoms coming back. By just going back on my food allergy diet (which is not calorie restrictive) for a week I literally lost 5 lbs and my seasonal allergies (congestion) went away . That’s just a hint of how much bloating and inflammation I get when I’m eating foods I’m allergic to. My hope is that this juice cleanse helps me reset things further by giving me a big boost of nutrients and letting my digestive organs rest a bit.

Pre Cleanse Checklist:

  • Most healthy adults have no trouble with a short juice cleanse. That said, if you have chronic health issues or have not had a physical in a while I recommend checking with your doctor before starting any cleanse. It’s also important to understand that these juices often contain a lot of sugar (albeit fast-processing sugars) so those who are diabetic or prone to yeast may need to alter recipes and be careful to monitor sugar levels.
  • About a week before the cleanse (I did 1.5 weeks) cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods. I personally also cut out dairy and gluten (among other things) due to food allergies. You can wean yourself off things like caffeine to make the transition easier, but I really encourage you to get off it before juicing.
  • Pick a time for the juice cleanse when you can take it easy. There really isn’t much protein or fat in the juice diet so it’s recommended to stop any intense physical activity for the three days that you’re cleansing.
  • Consider taking supplements to support digestion while cleansing. There are several options and you may want to check with a nutritionist to see what’s best for you. I take milk thistle, chlorella, acidophilus, and pancreatic enzymes for digestion, and I also take flax seed oil because my body really doesn’t do well without a healthy fat intake. For those of you doing a juice cleanse in prep for a liver cleanse you would want to skip all fats.
  • Budget. As you can see below in the “Shopping” section, this involves buying A TON of fresh fruits and veggies. Depending on the time of year and where you’re located, this is most likely very expensive. Save up! My partner and I chose to go all organic and I’m a little embarrassed to admit it cost about $150 per person, not including suppliments.

Cleansing

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with my cleanse, so after reviewing several options I decided to go with “The Weekend Juice Cleanse” from Dr. Oz and Joe Cross. For those who don’t know Joe Cross, he’s the guy who did “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead“, a great documentary on the benefits of juicing. Now, I’m not a huge follower of Dr. Oz, but I will say that after reviewing the recipes and trying the cleanse (I’m on day 2 right now) they are quite nutrient-dense, they don’t all overload on sugar, and there’s a lot of variety to the juices. Again, these could be used as just really great every-day recipes. The only thing I’m noticing is that the quantity of juice seems like it might be too much for me, but I’ll post again once I’ve completed the cleanse and have a better handle on it. I will say this, I haven’t been hungry on this cleanse yet. It’s SO MUCH JUICE!!

You can grab all recipes and a great shopping list here. I’ll also include each recipe in this post.

Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!
Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!

Shopping List

For 1 Person for Three Days of Cleansing:

  • 12 Carrots
  • 12 Granny Smith Apples
  • 6 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 large Ginger Root (at least 6″)
  • 9 Cucumbers
  • 18 Celery Stalks
  • 42 Kale Stalks
  • 3 Lemons
  • 3 Limes
  • 12 Plum Tomatoes
  • 6 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 6 Cups Fresh Parsley
  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 Large Red Beets
  • 3 Oranges (optional, skip if you have sugar issues)
  • 24 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 18 Clementines, Mandarins or Tangerines

That is A TON of fruits and veggies!

General Veggie Handling Rules

  • Buy organic fruits and veggies when possible.
  • Keeping your fruits and veggies refrigerated will mean your juice comes out nice and cool so there’s no need for ice!
  • Always wash your fruits and veggies before juicing! Juice is raw so it’s important to cold rinse all fruits and veggies and for the root vegetables (i.e. beets) you may want to scrub them.
  • Most veggies do not need to be peeled before putting them in the juicer. It’s really only citrus fruit that need to have the peel removed because it’s bitter.
  • Apples can be put in to the juicer whole (if they fit, I had to quarter mine), though some prefer to core them first since the seeds technically contain amygdalin, which is a cyanide and sugar compound. In small amounts this isn’t a big deal (and you’re not really eating the seeds since the juicer keeps them, but traces could be in the juice), but if you’re juicing daily I would recommend coring first.
  • For peppers, I recommend removing the stem, seeds and ribs as they’re bitter.
  • For lemons and limes I use a hand juicer to squeeze the juice out. If you have an electric citrus juicer that’s an even better option. I just find it’s more of a hassle to peel them and throw them in the juicer than it is to juice the separately.
  • Oranges and clementines/mandarines/tangerines should be peeled before adding them to the juicer. Again, if you have a separate citrus juicer that’s a great option too.
  • The red onion should be peeled before juicing.
  • When adding the leafy greens to the juicer use small batches to not overload the blade and get the juice pusher on fast so you don’t end up with leaves blowing around your kitchen. 😉

Choosing a Juicer

I’m not affiliated with any products, but I can give you my personal opinion that after researching juicers I went with a Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain which has proven to be a good personal juicer (I’ve had it since 1/2012 and it’s still going strong). The benefit is it doesn’t take up a ton of counter space, it’s very easy to clean and it’s powerful. The biggest con I’ve found comes when making large quantities of juice. It stores the pulp in the juicer, so if I’m making a lot of juice I sometimes have to stop and clean it out before I move on. This has made making juice for my partner and myself during this cleanse a little more tedious. Breville does have beefier models (i.e. JE98XL Juice Fountain PlusBJE510XL Juice Fountain Multi-Speed, 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite)  that excrete the pulp to a separate container which makes it easier to make large quantities of juice. I’d really recommend those if you’re making juice for your family.

DITL (Day in The Life) of Juicing

  • Start each day with hot water with lemon and ginger.
  • Breakfast Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Mid Morning Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Lunch Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Afternoon Snack
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Pre Dinner Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Small dinner of just fruits and veggies (I’ll include recipes in my next post)
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Drink a glass of hot water before going to bed.

Notes:

  • Yes, you will have to pee all day 🙂
  • You can make all of the juices ahead of time in the morning but give yourself a good hour to do so. It takes a long time to prep the foods and clean out the juicer. I wouldn’t make juices more than a day in advance.
  • It’s common to feel cold when doing a juice cleanse. It’s always ok to drink hot water in between juices to keep warm. You can also have hot dinners, recipe ideas will be in my next post.

Recipes

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice (Breakfast)

  • 3 Carrots
  • 2 Apples
  • 1″ Ginger
Mean Green Juice
Mean Green Juice

Mean Green Juice (Mid Morning)

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Celery Stalks
  • 2 Apples
  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1″ Ginger
Gazpacho Juice
Gazpacho Juice

Gazpacho Juice (Lunch)

This one really does taste like gazpacho. It’s delicious, and when not cleansing if you add some vodka or gin it’d make a mean Bloody Mary. 😉

  • 4 Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 lg Cucumber
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 sm Red Onion
  • 2 cups Parsley*
  • 1 Lime

*I suggest greatly cutting down the parsley if you’re pregnant. Parsley in large quantities is used to stimulate the shedding of the uterine lining (e.g. inducing periods). This is usually done via drinking parley tea so in raw form I’m not sure it would have the same effect but if it were me I’d skip it.

Citrus Inspired Green Juice
Citrus Inspired Green Juice

Citrus Inspired Green Juice (Afternoon Snack)

  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 8 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 6 Clementines (I used mandarines since clementines aren’t in season this time of year)
Sunset Blend Juice
Sunset Blend Juice

Sunset Blend Juice (Pre Dinner Juice)

  • 1 lg Sweet Potato
  • 1 med Carrot
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 lg Red Beets
  • 2 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 Orange (optional, skip if you’re sensitive to sugar, it’s sweet without the orange)

Post-Cleanse

It’s important to be mindful of what you eat when you’re breaking your cleanse. If you run out and get a pizza as soon as your three days are up you will probably get sick. Even if you don’t feel sick, you’re shocking your body and basically undoing what you just worked hard to clean out. It’s recommended to stick with small meals of just fruits and veggies for the first 1-2 days off the cleanse and continue to have at least 1 juice per day. Then I recommend adding foods back slowly and notice how they effect your body. For example, if you stopped eating dairy add that back in, see how it effects you, and wait at least two days before adding back another food group.

The overall hope here is that cravings for unhealthy food (food filled with fat, sugar, and salt) will diminish and with the added nutrients from the juice your body will be healthier and digest food faster thanks to speeding up your metabolism. It’s recommended to continue having at least one glass of fresh juice each day to keep your nutrient level up and your cravings for junk food away.

I’m finishing up my cleanse and my next post will include my personal reactions to it along with recipes for dinners during the cleanse. If you try this I’d really love to know about your experience!

Practice What You Preach: An Open Letter to Health Workers Everywhere

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Yesterday during a massage my client mentioned she had attended a healthcare conference and she was surprised by how many nurses and doctors in attendance were out of shape. This reminded me of the plethora of massage therapists who are in the same boat, many of whom don’t even get massage regularly (or ever, in some cases). This really got me thinking about the disconnect between those offering healthcare and how we encourage our clients/patients to be. This is definitely not meant to shame anyone, but to me it really begs the question of why we do what we do.

self-care-survival

I’ve mentioned on this blog that one of the major things that kick-started me into being healthy was going to school for massage. I was suddenly surrounded by personal trainers, nutritionists and physical therapists and began absorbing a ton of information on health and wellness. I also fell in love with the art and science of massage and realized that if I was going to really be successful as a massage therapist I needed to be in good physical shape to avoid injuring myself and shortening my career. Learning proper body mechanics and strengthening my core and upper body, along with adding flexibility to my lower body was imperative if I wanted to work through several hours of deep tissue work without compromising my own health. The #1 thing I learned in school is I have to check in with myself, physically and psychologically, FIRST before I put my hands on another body. Self-care, self-care, self-care.

Yet, somehow, we get out of school and it seems that many of us throw that idea away. It’s easier to be consumed by being too busy to exercise, and being too broke to afford massage. It’s easier and cheaper to grab fast food on the way to the office than to bring a healthy lunch or even stop by the salad bar at Whole Foods. The most self-care we do is shaking out our hands between clients and maybe rubbing a little Biofreeze or arnica on our shoulders. All of our attentions is focused outwards, to our clients/patients, our families, our friends.

And this is where I can finally see a glimpse of what’s going on. Most of us in healthcare are caregivers. We were born with that need to take care of others, often ignoring our own needs. We’re willing to martyr ourselves for the benefit of others. That may seem admirable, but at the end of the day I believe this attitude is back-firing. We’re constantly saying to our clients, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Logically, it’s obvious this doesn’t work. If we really want to help others we have to get a little selfish and we have to start taking our own advice.

They tell you if a plane loses air pressure and the oxygen masks fall put YOUR mask on first BEFORE helping others. They tell you this simply because if you don’t put your mask on first you might pass out due to lack of oxygen before you even get a chance to help your neighbor. It’s common sense. Folks in healthcare, listen up, PUT YOUR MASKS ON FIRST! It’s not news that, especially in the US, we have major issues with illness directly related to poor diets and lack of basic exercise. I’m not saying you need to become a raw foodist, a bodybuilder, and pamper yourself constantly, but it’s time to start making time for your own health. If not, newsflash, your patients won’t listen to you. Actions speak louder than words, right? So if you tell your patients to get healthy, and then you step out back for a cigarette and a coke they will not take you seriously.

If we are in the healthcare profession it is our duty to demonstrate good health. Period. I’m not saying we have to be perfect 100% of the time; we’re still human, right? But we are the army fighting for health and wellness so if our army can’t take care of itself we can’t win a single battle, let alone a war. If you’re working one-on-one with clients or patients who are coming to you for help with their health you are literally the first line of defense. Help yourself so you can really help them.

I beg you to readjust your thinking. You’re probably extremely busy, but if you can carve out even 30 minutes a day for exercise you will have more energy and most likely a more positive outlook (thank you endorphins) so you will feel better and be better for your patients/clients. If you eat better you’ll have more energy and a stronger immune system so you will feel better and be better for your patients/clients. If you get regular massage or chiropractic or acupuncture you will feel better and be better for your patients/clientsIs this making sense yet?

Selfcare-300x200

As for the money excuse, this is usually another mode of thinking that needs to be adjusted. As a massage therapist, I get massage regularly because it keeps my body fluid and keeps me from getting injured when I work with my clients. It also helps me connect with other therapists and often introduces me to other modalities. If I can barter I do, because it’s nice to feel things are reciprocal. But, if I can’t barter I happily pay for it because I firmly believe massage is worth the price we charge for it. I rationalize the cost by pretending I did one less massage that week. So basically, it’s a barter in my mind. I gave one massage to a client and I get one massage in return. Done. I mean seriously, how do you expect anyone to pay for a massage from you if you don’t feel you can pay for a massage yourself? Now ideally, healthcare professionals would have a large barter pool with each other so we can take care of each other and I do think long-term there needs to be major healthcare reforms in this country to make care more universally affordable, but that’s a post for another day.

To sum up, remember, you are a role model. When you took your position in healthcare you made a vow to do your best to help make people healthier and you can’t do that unless you are healthy. Start small, start today, if you have to start again tomorrow. You are worth it. Practice what you preach so our society as a whole can get healthy!

Raising The Bar

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I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.

I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangos
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)

Ingredients:

  • two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in pan over medium-low
  2. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
  3. Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
  4. When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
  5. Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.

Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉