Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Mantra: Have Courage

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: There is never a wrong time to do the right thing

"Have courage in the face of adversity to travel the path of integrity without looking back, for there is never a wrong time to do the right thing."

October is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it- the way the air feels cool and crisp, the pumpkins and wood burning stoves and that feeling you get of adventure and unlimited possibilities. October also just so happens to be home of my favorite holiday, Halloween. 

A few years back a friend invited me out with her and a group of others to a haunted house. Haunted houses are one of my most favorite October traditions and something I never pass on. This particular one was being held at a church, which seemed only slightly odd at the time. That didn't throw me off much, as I saw lines of people out front to get in. I figured it had to be amazing with that many people. Plus, the website (albeit vague) gave statistics for the year before, such as: 98 people left the building screaming, 1 mother took her child and ran, 3 people passed on and so forth. It sounded terrifying and awesome.

Upon arrival we were ushered into a circle where zombie like creatures surrounded us and told us of our sins. It was more annoying than scary, but I figured the church had to slide in their say before the real fun began. As the night continued things got very uncomfortable and less Halloween like with each new room they moved us to. One showed a gang violence scene, where a teenage was shot. Another had children locked in cages - real children, toddler aged- covered in blood. Another room showed a drinking and driving scenario, where a wall dropped out from behind us and some of us almost went down with it several feel below, while the worst room to my memory played videos of abortions happening. Real, live abortions.

If you've never been to a haunted house let me fill you in on the details of how things should go down. Normally, a haunted house has ghosts and zombies and people screaming at you to try and scare you. You usually enjoy your experience, whether it be scary or not, because haunted houses are fun. Period. This was not fun nor was it a haunted house.

After the Abortion Room, I was ready to get the hell out of there. The problem was, these people wouldn't let us leave. They blocked the exits and when you asked them how and when you could leave, they kept saying it was almost over. Each time they said it I got madder and madder because each time they said it was a lie. I'm all for educating people on life and choices and options and everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, but this was wrong in every way possible. This was innocent people being tricked and forced into seeing things that, quite frankly, were wrong. Who locks young children in cages and covers them in fake blood and makes them cry? Wrong. So wrong. 

We were moved into the chapel where people were chained to mini stages, screaming at us about adultery, drug abuse, murder, etc. It was loud and irritating and unnecessary. Then they led us down a hallway to a pitch black room where they made us line up against the wall. I had no idea what horrible thing this room held, but I was not happy. Neither was my friend. Or anyone, for that matter. When they flipped on the lights we found ourselves in a small, empty room, with the preacher or minister or cult leader (as I like to think of him now) blocking the door to leave. He had two ushers (or cult followers) next to him, lined up like body guards to prevent our escape.

Right when I thought it couldn't get any worse, he told us to clasp our hands and pray with him to save our souls from the fiery pits of hell. 

Maybe some of you have seen The Avengers. You know the Hulk, how he gets angry and then blows up in a fit of anger? Well, that was me about 37 seconds after this happened.

Now, I'm not ever going to tell anyone what to believe. Ever. I have my religion and I'm happy with it. Which means I fully expect that no one ever tell me what to believe or how to pray or force me into anything. Ever.

I'm not sure how this happened, but before I knew it I was 5 inches from the creepy cult dude's face, telling him that he best be letting us out of the room before someone had to say a prayer to save him from me. He didn't seem too phased by that, as I'm sure someone else had to have snapped by that point, so he didn't move. He stood there blocking my exit. So, I pushed him. And I kept pushing until I got my hand on the door knob, which turned out to be locked. That's right- they locked us in with them.

Maybe you also recall how the Hulk gets angrier and angrier each time more people try to shoot him and take him down. Well, once my hand felt that locked door, I completely snapped. I honestly can't remember all the things I yelled out or the threats I made, but that door was unlocked 2 seconds later. I wasn't done though. These crazies had forced me and my friends to stay when we had asked to leave multiple times and I sure as heck wasn't sticking around a minute longer. 

I marched out into that hallway yelling and cussing, ready to punch anyone in the face who wouldn't let me leave, and threw back some doors into a giant room filled with people crying and praying, with a crazy cult person kneeling by them. I realized this was the room we would have been taken to next, the room where they try to convert you. 

Obviously, no one expected to see me, but after a minute something happened. As I kept on my rampage, letting them know that the God I knew would help me kick their asses if they laid one single hand on me, other people lined up behind me to leave. Once I was outside I paused to see just what was going on and saw dozens of people had followed me out. No one wanted to be in that horrible place. No one.

Because I had lead us to the front of the church, where the new victims stood lined up and waiting, the "body guards" tried to stop me. In the loudest voice I could possibly muster, I went over every single detail of why they should be shut down and what they had done wrong. As I proceeded to lecture them on their horribleness, people continued to file out from where I had just come from. The folks lined up looked more and more concerned and some started to leave. More "body guards" came out to try and get me off the lot. I stuck around as long as I could to make them just as uncomfortable as they made me. 

The next day I called the news station to report these maniacs and found out many, many people had called before me and that the cops had been out there several times. For some reason they'd never been able to shut them down, but I can tell you the next year I didn't see any advertisements for their "haunted house".

I didn't write this post to tell you how awesome and Avenger like I am, because I'm not. I'm sure I looked completely insane that night, but that was one of the few times in my life I can say I stood up and did the right thing when it needed to be done. It certainly wasn't my intention to have a mini-revolution that night. All I had planned on was getting my friends and I out of there. I never expected so many other people to follow. 

The next time you feel something strong in your gut, your instincts telling you that it's the right thing to do, do it. It may be terrifying and strange and who knows what kind of a commotion you'll cause, but who knows how many other people are silently wishing for someone to stand up and do something. Who knows how many people you might help. 

Doing the right thing is always worth it. Always.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Mantra: Find the Value

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra:  Find the value

When I was 16, I went with my grandfather to the local auto store to have his tires rotated. After they had finished, he tipped them with a one dollar bill- a lot of money for someone from my grandpa's time. The young guy helping us smirked, thanked him, and went into the back to make fun of him with the rest of the guys working. I heard him mocking my grandfather for the "huge" tip and telling the other guys how ridiculous it was.

I was embarrassed, but not for any of the right reasons. What's worse is that I was ashamed of my grandpa. The young guy that took the dollar went to my high school, was a bully, and knew who I was. At the very least I thought he would tease me for having a cheap grandfather. One dollar to my generation was nothing, nothing at all.

My grandpa never said anything about that but I knew he had heard all of it. I could tell by the way his face took on lack of any expression at all, the way he seemed embarrassed and agitated all at once, the way we left so quickly. I never said anything either. Not to him or anyone.

I've always felt bad about that day. About what I thought and how I felt inside, angry at the wrong person. My grandfather was a great man, a hard worker. He came from a time when the value of things meant something entirely different than it does today. To him that dollar was a sign of years of back breaking work supporting his family and making a living. To him that dollar was a lot. I wish I had taken his hand and proudly stood next to him instead of silently doing nothing. Nothing is sometimes the worst thing you can do.

As I've been remembering that recently, I've been asking myself what the true value is of what I'm doing, saying, or buying. How did that add value to my life? Did I add value to anyone else's? Was it valuable in any way at all?

It's helping me put things into perspective. It's helping me become more aware of what truly matters in life.  I hope one day, if ever I face a situation similar to the one with my grandpa, I remember what really matters and I stand up for that.

What do you value?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Whole 30: Week 3 and Some Guacamole-ish Type Things

Green August #19
I made it through another week and the good news is that I did not feel the need to swear or punch anyone. Not much, anyway. I thought about ice cream and it didn't phase me, which really means I didn't have any dramatic moments in my brain of famine striking and no ice cream ever existing again which then resulted in me crying. Also, Pinterest and I are back to being friends. I will admit, however, that I had one night where I really, super-kind-of-badly wanted to eat some gluten free pizza at this new restaurant in town, but my Guardian Angel of Not Cheating While Doing the Whole 30 Program made that impossible. One minute the restaurant has gluten free pizza, the next it doesn't even exist. Maybe I was hallucinating. We'll never know.

Aside from that, things have gotten back to being fairly easy and tragically somewhat boring, with eating the same things over and over. The Whole 30 peeps address that though and have given me more reasons to fuel my technology addiction by looking at a dozen or so different blogs with recipes. I don't want to be alone, so I've included them for you below. You're welcome.

As far as the benefits they talk about, I will say I've noticed some new things going well for me. For example, my "seasonal" allergies have gotten immensely better and are diminishing what seems like daily. Because my "seasonal" allergies exist 365 days a year, I attribute this to the change in foods. No corn, no soy, no sugar. Maybe (crossing my fingers that this isn't true) I'm allergic to sugar. *shudder* Let's not think about that anymore.

Also, I've realized just how many things contain sugar. It's everywhere. I mean everywhere. Even though I avoid the "bad" sugars and stick to the natural ones, they're still out there, sneaking into every doggone thing. I can't help but wonder what the world would be like with less of it. A long time ago I saw a picture of some children in a foreign country that were part of a health experiment, comparing the US to other countries. When offered either a sweet treat or a cucumber, they opted 100% for the veggie. When this same test was applied to American children, 100% of them went for the candy. It makes you think, doesn't it? How addictive is sugar, really? They say it's one of the most addictive substances out there and more and more, I start to believe that. Just some food for thought.

For those of you chugging along with me, keep it up! It does get easier, I promise, and you know I would't lie to you. You can borrow my guardian angel if you want.

Here are my favorite takeaways from this last week. Look at Day 17 for the guacamole as well as the other aforementioned awesome technology addiction fueling recipes. Again, you're welcome.

Day 15: "Whether you make a bad decision, or are accidentally “dosed” with an off-plan ingredient in a food served to you, discovering you’ve broken your 100% Whole30 streak can make you feel disappointed and frustrated. But beware not to step into the dangerous zone scientists have christened the “What the Hell” Effect. (For real—that’s the science-y name for this phenomenon!)

It goes like this: you’re eating a Whole30 family dinner, enjoying every bite. Then you realize—the dressing on your salad tastes really, really sweet. So you ask your Mom, “Hey, does this dressing have sugar in it?” and your Mom replies, “No, sweetie, I told you—no sugar. It’s sweetened with agave!”
This is the part where you feel disappointed, frustrated, angry for messing up (whether intentional or not). But here’s where the WTH Effect comes in; where you say, “Ah, crap, my Whole30 is ruined… I might as well eat the dessert everyone else is enjoying/ have that glass of wine after all/eat the darn bread.” You see where we’re going?

The WTH Effect isn’t just about self-control, it’s about failure to reach a goal. And with each “slip,” the following slip(s) become easier and easier to make. But that’s faulty logic, isn’t it? The lessons you’ve learned during your Whole30 aren’t “ruined” because you had some added sugar/gluten/dairy and there is absolutely no reason to throw that all down the drain because you made a bad choice, or received some bad information."

Day 16: "In the brain: big changes are easier. You’ve probably already tried to live by the “everything in moderation” principle, right? But moderation is really hard for the brain to manage when you’re trying to form a new habit. (This is especially true when some of the things we’re trying to eliminate have a serious mental hold on us… like sugar and carbs.) The Whole30 is a big, radical change—but one that is far easier for the brain to grasp than moderation. Why? No more decisions. Whew! The brain has a hard time with uncertainty, and when faced with too much, it tends to revert back to what it’s always done—the path of least resistance. So every decision (should I eat the cookie, should I have a second glass of wine, should I go for the healthy chicken breast or indulge in the pizza?) means… uncertainty. And for your brain, too much of that means you go back to old, unhealthy food habits. The Whole30 takes that uncertainty away from you. We tell you exactly what kinds of foods to eat, and we say you should eat NONE of these other, unhealthy foods. No decision-making required; if it’s on your ‘no’ list, you simply don’t indulge. And that makes the brain happy, which makes your transition to healthier habits easier."

Day 17: "Want to add some flavor to your meal, but having a hard time finding pre-made dips, dressings and sauces that fit the Whole30 guidelines? No problem! Make your own with the delicious recipes below.
Special insider tip: If a recipe calls for something that comes in a can, bottle, or jar, be sure tocheck the label for sneaky ingredients.

Dreamy Avocado Dressing (from It Starts With Food) ½ large avocado · 1 Tbsp lime juice · ¼ cup Olive Oil Mayo · 1 small garlic clove · ½ Tbsp pickled jalapeño rings (optional) · 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves (optional) · 2 Tbsp water · salt and black pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée to desired consistency, adding additional water 1 Tbsp at a time, if necessary. Allow the flavors to meld for 30 minutes before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Dips (I dip. You dip. We dip.) * Cut up some peppers, jicama, and carrots and dig into thisPersian Eggplant Tomato Dip. * Guacamole is perfect for homemade sweet potato chips. * Some like it hot, and for those of you that do try this Hot Pepper Hummus. * Salsa is super quick, easy, and fresh. Try this Roasted Roma Salsa for a little something different. * And for a salsa that’s really different, check out this Black-Olive Salsa.

Dressings (Oil + Acid + Spice = Salad dressing) * The OG-ish Italian Dressing: It’s like the Olive Garden, in your house, without all the coma-inducing pasta. * Thai-inspired Chili Coconut Milk Dressing takes your coconut milk to the next level. * Southwestern Cumin Lime Dressingwill make you want to don some cowboy boots and ride off into the sunset. * Tangy. Carroty. Gingery. What’s not to like? Tangy Carrot Ginger Dressing * I came. I saw. I made Caesar Dressing.

Sauces (aka: Gettin’ Saucy) * If you are looking for a sauce that is delicious on literally everything, Melissa Joulwan’s Sunshine Sauce is for you. * Green Apple Guacamole – add some tang to your guac! * Thank Nom Nom Paleo for this ridiculously good Thai-Inspired Herby Green Marinade. * Presto! Pesto! * You’re not sipping cocktails right now, but you can still enjoy this Cocktail Sauce."

Day 18: "The internet…when you are out there searching for resources and information, it can be your best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. Right now, if you Google “Whole30” you get around 300,000 search results—try “Paleo” and you get back almost 18 million pages to sift through.

Day 19: "You are what you eat, quite literally, and we believe the health of the animals you eat impacts your own health in a far more direct manner than even the quality of your vegetables or fruits. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t purchase organic fruits and veggies when you can—only that you should take a look at the quality of the meat that is on your plate first, especially from a budget perspective.

We love U.S Wellness Meats because the pork they carry is Compassionate Certified, and undergoes third party verification to ensure accuracy. Among numerous requirements, the animals are not allowed to be given any growth stimulants, hormones or antibiotics. Animals are allowed outside as often as they want, and have full bedding available at all times; slot floors and gestating crates are not allowed. Oh, and did we mention they have Whole30-Approved Bacon?"

Day 20: "We want to help you develop a critical eye when it comes to taking in this information—especially where it deals with food, your family, your body image, and your self-esteem. You’ve made it to Day 20 of your Whole30, and it’s very likely that you’re feeling many of the benefits that come along with our program. Unfortunately, the shallow focus of our modern world encourages you to live by the number on the scale, and shames you into thinking you should be skinnier, more muscular, prettier, just… more.

The media’s influence on our lives:
  • A study of 4,294 network television commercials revealed that 1 out of every 3.8commercials send some sort of "attractiveness message," telling viewers what is or is not attractive.
  • In articles about fitness or exercise plans, 74% cited "to become more attractive" as a reason to start exercising, and 51% noted the need to lose weight or burn calories.
  • Among children 8 - 10 years old, 50% are dissatisfied with their body size.
  • Among 9 - 11 year olds, 46% are on diets "sometimes" or "very often."
  • 82% of those 9 - 11 year old's families are also on diets "sometimes" or "very often."
  • Among 11 - 13 year old girls, more than 50% believe they are overweight
  • An average US woman is 5'4" tall weighing 140 pounds; the average US model is 5'11"weighing 117 pounds!
  • 44% of US women are on a diet.
  • 29% of US men are on a diet.
  • 35% of people on a diet develop some sort of pathology around food.
  • $109 million is spent in the US every day on diet and weight loss products."

Day 21: "Today is Day 21 of your Whole30. You’ve likely been told that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so right now you’re probably thinking “I’ve got this thing in the bag, baby!” We hate to break it to you, but recent habit research shows that it can take a lot longer than that for habits to be broken and remade. (Side note from me: DAMN IT! ;) )

Now, don’t go getting all discouraged! When you took on this challenge, we hope it was with the idea that it would change your life. Not change the next 30 days of your life. Not change your year. Change. Your. Life. And it probably goes without saying that whatever habits you had before you started the Whole30 are pretty long-standing—years, maybe even decades-established.
So with that in mind, remember that building new, healthy habits takes time. And patience. And dedication. And awareness. (Another side note from me: Oh, OK.)

For the record, I'm currently half way through week 4 and I'm getting to all the good stuff they talk about. I've gotten more creative with food and I discovered that Cirque du Soleil type yoga is actually pretty awesome, once you can feel all of your limbs again. 

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Mantra: Be Soft. Love Freely.

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra:  Do not let the world make you hard. Be soft. Love freely. 
"I promise to plant kisses like seeds on your body, so in time you can grow to love yourself as I love you."
- Tyler Knott Gregson

My apologies, gang, on just getting this out. I went to this aerial yoga class after work at Tough Lotus, where you hang from cloth tied to the ceiling and do Cirque do Soleil type flips, and the blood flow has just now returned to my brain, as well as the feeling to most of my fingers. Most of them. The left hand is questionable still. Obviously, I signed up for more classes. That's another story, though. Today I want to talk about love.

I once saw a quote that said, "Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place." I always think about that second line, not letting the world make you hard. Not letting the bad steal the good from you, or letting the hate steal your love. 

I've recently discovered this TV series in my Netflix que called Revenge. In it is a young woman who was lied to as a child by traitors of her father, who had him arrested and framed for killing a bunch of innocent people. This woman, Emily/Amanda, is now seeking revenge on each of those people who helped frame her father. She has a childhood friend, Jack, who is madly in love with her (and she secretly with him, from what I gather), however, it's not in her plan to love him. It's in her plan to pretend to love the son of one of the families she's seeking revenge on.

When I sit there watching the show I can't help but occasionally yell at her across the room to give up her plans and go be with the man she loves. Crazy, I know. It's so frustrating, in a world (granted, a TV world) where people search out and seek love day in and day out, that she has it - that kind of love - and is walking away from it for revenge. I know, it's not real, but it's irritating.

The other day I happened upon a Pinterest (of course) picture of one of the most beautiful verses of poetry I'd ever seen, written by a gentleman named Tyler Knott. I spent the next couple of days (somewhat crazily) looking through all of his work on his website. I couldn't get enough. In a world where walls are put up, words are left unsaid, and true love seems like a fantasy, he makes you believe it's not. He makes you believe it's possible. He makes you feel. 

One of my favorite poetry quotes is from Frank Lloyd Wright where he says, "The scientist has marched in and taken place of the poet.  But one day somebody will find the solution to the problems of the world and remember, it will be a poet, not a scientist." I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be that poet, but I think Tyler may be better suited for the job. And rightly so. Read a few of his pieces and you'll see why, and hopefully after reading some you will remember to be soft. To love freely and without fear. To not let the world shape you, but for you, instead, to shape it.

This is probably my favorite. Particularly the last paragraph.

If you like his work and would like to follow me on Pinterest, I have about a dozen or so of his poems on my "I Love This Just Because" board. And I'll be adding more. The man's a genius, what can I say?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whole 30: Week Two, Plus Recipes and Books

Stupid challenge.

@)&#%@ ^#@(›&* stupid challenge!!!

That's how week two went. I about lost it, y'all.


Everything was just fine and dandy until week two hit. I don't know why week one was a breeze and week two was a pain in my bootie, but it was. Maybe it's because I'm an alien and things works backwards for me, I don't know. What I do know is that shit got real. And bad. And I accidentally failed, then freaked out, then calmed down and realized I should take a nap. Naps fix everything.

While I didn't give in to any of the cravings, which I'm ridiculously happy about, I did accidentally eat some nuts roasted in peanut oil three days in a row without realizing it, which was very devastating. A fist may have been thrown up in anger, very dramatically and in Gone with the Wind fashion.

This looks delicious.
Stupid delicious sh*t!
I thought about quitting and starting all over, but I went on the forum and the suggestion was actually to stick with it. The decision was up to me to quit and start over or continue. In the end, I decided it hadn't been that much of a fail. I had gone to great lengths to avoid everything and I wasn't going to let that thwart me. That being said, I also decided to tack on one more week to make up for it. Technically, it won't matter because it was week two that I botched, but it makes me feel better to try anyway.

I just got started on week three now and my sweet cravings are calming down, however, the inner carnivore in me has elevated to new levels. Even last week, meat was way more important than anything else, and not just any meat- steak. More steak, steak as a side dish and yes please, steak for breakfast. I wanted the expense stuff and I wanted it yesterday. I've never craved meat so much in my life, so I assumed my body must really be needing it and dug in. It's been said many a'time that when your body craves sweets you actually need protein, so taking that into consideration I was doing exactly what it wanted and shutting down the false sweet cravings. This week is better.

All of that being said, I found that it's still really not safe to go anywhere where delicious foods may lurk, like Whole Foods. Yesterday, I discovered chocolate coconut milk. Let me repeat: Chocolate. Coconut. Milk.
I about cried right in the store from happiness, and sadness at not being able to buy it. Then there was the hummus. Oh hummus, you and I have a date when this is over.

All in all, there was nothing I wanted more than to do this right, and that is basically what is driving me. I have felt better, it's true, cravings and all. It's hard to explain, but my body feels calm and very peaceful. Plus, each daily email keeps me prepped and supports my decision. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from last week and reminders on the power of the foods we eat, how to eat them, and ways to add fitness in our lives.

Day 8: "If you read one testimonial about the Whole30 program, please, read this storyFor many years, Jessica suffered from a series of ailments for which her doctors could not find a diagnosis. Jessica suffered for years until, eventually, she found the Whole30.

We’ve received emails and comments from all over the world; stories from people who have experienced amazing health condition, weight, mood, and behavior improvements (kiddos too!) while completing the Whole30. Read all of them on our website."

Day 9: "Here are some important things to remember when packing good food for travel.
  • Think ahead! Planning and preparing will assure you can reach into the cooler in the back seat and grab a Primal Pac instead of stopping off at Burger King in a fit of hunger.
  • Boiled eggs are your friends! They are like little pre-packaged protein bombs. Eat up!
  • Olives are a great finger food and are packed with healthy fats. They’re even easy to bring on a plane, as long as you drain the liquid beforehand.
  • Pepper, carrot, and jicama slices and guacamole – need we say more?
  • Yelp or Google are great tools for finding health food stores, farmers markets, or grass-fed burgers along the way."
Day 10: "We’ve made Melissa Joulwan’s Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat, Ever recipe a few times, but despite her warnings not to skip the brining… we always skipped the brining. Until one day, we decided to try it. AND CHICKEN WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.
It was so moist, tender, and flavorful, we just about fell out of our chairs. And since that day, we have never, ever skipped brining our chicken, irrespective of the recipe or cooking method. It requires a little more planning, sure, but a) it’s cheap, b) it’s easy, and c) it’s been scientifically proven to make your chicken 274% more delicious.

Brine, people, brine. (And make Melissa’s chicken recipe, because you will not disagree with her title once you take your first bite.)"

Day 11: "There are all kinds of hormonal and stress-reducing benefits associated with yoga, as well as the physical improvements in flexibility, balance, and strength. Not sure what kind of yoga is best? Check this comprehensive comparison of all the various yoga forms, from Anusara to Vinyasa."

Day 12: "It’s common knowledge that when we’re stressed out, we’re more likely to catch that cold or flu that’s going around—but until recently, scientists weren’t sure why. This April 2012 Science Daily article provides new information about exactly how stress is linked to illness and disease."

"Meditation doesn’t have to be an hour of you + the universe unveiling all of its mysteries… sometimes the beauty is merely in the pause. As Traver H. Boehm explains in the first article below, “That pause will let you ask yourself, ‘Is this situation really about me or am I just the closest warm body to someone with their own issues?’ ‘Is this situation really worth getting upset over, or am I reacting simply because other people would believe I had the right to react?’ ‘Should I smile and walk away or do what I want and bop this individual in the nose?’
But still, though the “why” of meditation might be self-evident, the “how” often trips people up. Check out these three articles dedicated to the “how,” and get your own pause on today."

Day 13: "Spices make the food world go ‘round. (No, literally—changing just one spice can turn an Indian curry into a savory Spanish stew.) The right spices can make or break a dish, turning everyday ingredients into authentic ethnic cuisine. Switching up the spices in your rack can even help you fight the food boredom that sometimes creeps up.

But buyer beware, especially when it comes to seasonings (mixtures and blends). Read your labels, because there can be all kinds of hidden junk in the stuff you get at the grocery store. Check out the ingredients in this taco seasoning commonly found at chain grocers:
Yellow Corn Flour, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Citirc Acid, Autolyzed Yest Extract, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color (sulfites). Yikes!

Melissa Joulwan (author of Well Fed), an admitted spice-a-holic, shares her lengthy list of spices and how to use them in this brilliant article."

Day 14: "You are more likely to stay the course (and less likely to befall the temptations of an office lunch excursion) if you bring your own delicious Whole30 meal to the office with you. But you’re a grown-up now—no need to brown-bag it!
These food-grade steel containers from Lunchbots are stylish, durable, reusable and 100% recyclable—and contain no toxic material. They even come in an insulated version!"
In these fun and helpful emails they also give me some new ideas for recipes, because honestly, things can get kind of boring. Check these favorites out:

Moroccan Meatballs

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

Beasty BBQ Sauce

Crab Cakes

Additionally, since I was craving sugar like a mofo and was about to punch every grocery store cashier in the face, grab some candy, and run, I thought it was best to do some research on this addictive substance we call sugar. Here are some books I'm buckling down to read:

Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell

Sugar Shock by Connie Bennett

Beyond Sugar Shock by Connie Bennett

Anyone else want to punch someone in the face? Just curious.

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Monday Mantra: Challenge Accepted
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Mantra: When in Doubt, Get the Hell Out

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: When in doubt, get the hell out of there

I may have mentioned in the past that I am a little persistent about keeping my teeth, well, as my teeth. It's kind of a thing for me, all the brushing and flossing and two dental cleanings a year. I have Denturephobia, what can I say? On one particular trip I got way more than I bargained for.

I used to have a wonderful lady I always went to for my cleanings, but she retired and I ended up with *Polly Esther, a nightmare of a hygienist  The last time I had gone was unpleasant, what with me getting sprayed all over with the water tool resulting in me looking like I had a bladder condition, but I had silently vowed to give her one more try before bailing on her. In hindsight, that was a very, very stupid decision. 

On my very last trip to this one particular office, as I was escorted back to my room, a dentist in a chair nearby with another patient gave me the most unprofessional look-over ever, what with the head to toe body scan and the creeptastic twinkle in his eye. I silently thanked my Guardian Angel of Dental Work for him not being the new hygienist. I sat down with Polly Esther, not sure what to expect this round, and  was pleasantly surprised by her somewhat improved skills. This is going to be fine, I assured myself. The change of clothes in the car are unnecessary,  I thought. Then, when my mouth was pried open as far as it could possibly go, she let loose and started telling me all about her vajayjay. In detail. (Actually  it was the real V word, plus some of the P word, but I'm trying to keep this classy, so let's go with Oprah's term.)

I about choked to death on the mirror tool thing in my mouth. I mean really, could this be any more awkward?  Me and my mouth being forced open, being told intimate details of things I had no desire to know and didn't think were even legitimate, as far as human anatomy was concerned. As she continued to let loose on me, the prisoner in her chair, she added more details of everything from her husbands performance to her after-giving-birth vajayjay. I am not making this up, by the way. At this time, I am literally melting into my chair, trying to become one with it so I can escape without further mental impairment or trauma to my teeth. I gasp for air and freedom and she releases her vice like death grip on my jaw. 

I sit there, staring at her wide eyed as she clearly has no idea how incredibly inappropriate she's been or weird, for that matter. I tell her I need to go to work and she says I need to stay for a minute longer so the dentist can check me out. I am thrilled to no end when she leaves the room. As I try and regain my composure and determine my next move, none other than *Dr. Creepy McCreeperson walks in. Apparently, this can get worse, I thought.

Dr. Creepy gives me about 2 or 3 more look-overs before he sits down and starts to make small talk. Where do I work, what do I do, what building do I work in, blah blah blah. I lie, and lie some more, tell him I am very late for work at this point and have to get going. At that moment, in walks Polly Esther and the two of them then decide to have a full blown conversation on trees or some crazy shit that has nothing to do with me or dental work at all. I stand up and get ready to leave and right as I'm trying to exit the room, Dr. Creepy blocks the doorway and, in what I assume he thinks is his sexy voice (but is really what I would call his stalker voice), he tells me, "I'll be seeing you again."

I respond with a laugh and a "No, no you won't" and leave. As I'm waiting to be checked out at the front desk, I wonder what the hell I should do next. The girl there calls me up and trys to schedule another appointment 6 months out. I tell her I won't be here. When she persists and asks what day would work better, I lose all of my composure, crazily wave my hands in the air like I'm casting some kind of a spell and simultaneously killing a bug, and explain that I won't be here, like here-here. In this room, this office, this building, this planet. I might move to Mars, I don't know. I just won't be here ever again. She stops making eye contact with me and I leave.

I've since found a new dentist, but have learned an important lesson: Don't wait to get the hell out of whatever situation you're in because there's a good chance it can get worse. And probably will. Unless you could get stabbed in the mouth, then maybe wait a little bit.

My teeth and brain are all fine, in case you were wondering. I am only slightly scarred. Several years of therapy and shock treatment and I should be back to normal. 

Anyone have advice on getting out of weird situations like this? Tactics, maybe, or some game plan for Interactions with the Insane? I'll use it next time, I promise.

*Names have been changed to protect the insane

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Whole 30: Week 1, Plus a Recipe, Apps, and More!

It's been one week since I started the Whole 30 Program. Prior to this point I had anticipated one of two things happening: Sugar cravings out the wazoo, causing me to run out to sprouts and buy every carton of gluten free coconut ice cream I could get my hands on or my hummus addiction taking over my life. I had actually thought this Week One post would be called, "I Hummust Be Going Crazy" because that's just how much I love hummus. If it was legal, I would marry it, then divorce it, then marry it again just to prove my love for it.

But no. I'm actually...okay. Better than okay. I'm really freaking fantastic. This week has reminded me just how much I love the Paleo style and why I love it. It reminded me of a lot of things I needed to be reminded of. Like how healing this lifestyle is. How easy and rewarding it can be.

I originally started this whole shebang as a way to challenge myself in a way I hadn't in quite some time. I realize that everyone has a different idea of fun and that I, crazily, find this to be fun. I want to take a moment to respect anyone who is dealing with a challenge that may not be so fun. Challenges come in a lot of different forms and no matter what yours may be,  you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can face the challenge and conquer it. After that step, you can accomplish anything. Even the good folks at Whole 30 agree, as you'll soon see.

I truly enjoy the Whole 30 Daily emails that I get each morning. Each one is full of tidbits of incredibly helpful information and support, plus recipes, ideas, and things that make me go, Hmm. I don't want to give all of their awesome advice away, especially since you're supposed to pay for it and I'm not one to go Robin Hooding these good folks, but here are some of my favorite reminders and pieces of info from each day of the week:

Day 1: "As a rule, we think the foods that are good for your body should also not mess with your mind. And we think the psychological effects of your food choices are perhaps the most important factors to consider during your healthy-eating transformation."

Day 2: "There is a term in the health-behavior-change world called self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to succeed in specific situations. To put it plainly, in order to complete all 30 days of your Whole30 with no slips or off-plan choices, you need to believe that you can complete all 30 days of your Whole30."

Day 3: "As much as “diet experts” tell you to listen to your body, until you’ve been eating Good Food for a while, you simply can’t always trust the messages your body is sending you. Right now, your hormones are still out of balance, your brain is still craving, and your energy levels probably aren’t where they need to be. This keeps your hunger mechanism out of whack, which means you may need to override it for the time being. If you’re always hungry, it’s okay to eat more, because all of the food you are eating is healthy!"

Day 4: "One of the most important and life-changing goals of the Whole30 is to change your tastes, change your habits, and change your emotional and habitual response to craving. The worst thing to do when you’re craving something sweet (and actually hungry) is to satisfy that craving with sugar, even if it is from an “approved” source. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a Snickers bar and a dried-fruit-and-nut bar… All your brain knows is that it threw a sugar tantrum, and you gave it sugar."

Day 5: "Socialize with friends outside of food. Go for a hike, hit a fun exercise class, or take a class together – but make the activity time something that doesn’t involve desserts or drinks."

Day 6: "One major goal of the Whole30 is to get you out of “sugar-burner” mode, and make you “fat adapted.” A sugar-burner is one whose body is used to running on carbohydrate for energy. A constant excess supply of carbohydrates will tilt your metabolic “preference” toward burning what’s most plentiful—sugar— when fuel is needed. The Whole30 takes you out of sugar-burner mode, and transitions you into being fat adapted—efficiently able to utilize fat as energy. This process starts in just five days, but can take weeks to really kick in to the point that you notice the effects. When it does, however, your body will begin to utilize fat as fuel more readily, helping you avoid between-meal cravings, energy slumps, and brain fog."

Day 7: "Be sure to take a moment today to celebrate your first week of success. And by “celebrate,” we mean raise a glass of sparkling water to yourself in a celebratory toast, not “fall face first into a cupcake.” Because isn’t that often how we used to reward ourselves?
Now is a good time to learn to reward yourself with something other than food. (Food should not be reward or punishment!) Take an hour of quiet time to read a good book, take that fun new exercise class you’ve wanted to sign up for, treat yourself to a massage, or watch a movie with your family."

The best part, though, is at the end of each day I login to my email, scroll to the bottom of the page of that days email, and hit the "I did it!" link. I feel so accomplished when I do that...these people are marketing geniuses, I tell you. When I click on that link it takes me to a big and very awesome CONGRATULATIONS! page, where I get rewarded with a picture or a video or some fun tidbit of info. Not only do I look forward to that every single day, but it's a good way to re-program what all of us have been accidentally programmed with: The congratulatory food award, as mentioned in Day 7. Like I once read somewhere (probably on Pinterest), "You're not a dog. Don't reward yourself with treats". Right, no treats. Got it.

Overall, the first week was pretty darn good. I do have some recommendations, though.

My first and foremost important recommendation is to avoid Pinterest at all costs. See how I bolded that there? It's that important. All those damn beautiful pictures with mouth watering recipes! It made me want to not only cheat, but cheat in ways no human being should. Yes, I would love to make those pumpkin chocolate chip muffins with the bacon dates and the orange creamsicle marshmallow pops. Let me just throw all of that in my crockpot together, grab a spoon, and eat it.

It's not safe, my friends, it's not safe. I pinned things to my board I'm not proud of, but damn it. Pinning isn't cheating!

Second, sleep. Then sleep some more. You're going to be tired, so just sleep. Third, tell your friends and family what you're doing. My mom almost talked me into gelato and instead, I talked her into trying the program. Also, a warning that you will indeed have weird dreams. One night I dreamt I was cheating the program by sneaking 5 pieces of popcorn and I felt so doggone guilty that when I woke up, I actually thought I might have failed and almost freaked out. This, I am told, is normal.

Now, a few fun things for you!

First, check out these cool apps. (Yes, Droid owners, you have access to these babies, too.)

HarvestMarket Food Traceability
You use this app to scan the barcode on your fruits and veggies, telling you exactly how far it travelled. You actually get a little report on where your food came from and, get this, if it's being recalled. Scary, but it happens more and more with our precious fruits and veggies.

CSPI Chemical Cuisine
Curious as to what all those long, fancy-schmancy chemical-y words mean on your food packages? This app tells you just what you're putting in your mouth, plus it gives you safety ratings. Awesome? I think so.

Second, (and apologetically, as I am long overdue on this) check out this fitness website, SlimKicker, that I absolutely love and that one of my lovely blog readers created. She was working on this baby for quite some time and her hard work shows. I mean really, you win prizes when you accomplish your goals and there is an awesome community of people there to support you. The site is available as an app (sorry Droid users, this one is currently just for iPhones) and has all kinds of fun things, like weekly challenges. I loved the 100 Plank Challenge, which I failed at, by the way. They have other fun ones, like Sprint Once a Week and In Silence, where you sit quietly for 15 minutes a day. Love these. Love them! I seriously believe this is one of the best, healthiest, and most helpful sites there is out there. Please check it out when you have a moment.

Here's a healthy, Paleo approved recipe for the week. For some reason I am now in love with brussels sprouts and I'm pretty thrilled about that. I hope you fall in love with them, too.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe taken and slightly modified from Chef David Chang

1 lb. brussels sprouts
5 TBSP's, total, olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees
2. Trim brussels sprouts, removing and discarding loose outer leaves. Cut sprouts in half through the core.
3. Cook sprouts, cut side down, with 2 TBSP of oil in large oven safe skillet (I had to use a cooking pan for the stove top and a glass roasting pan for the oven, but it worked just fine. Just more dishes, unfortunately) over medium high heat until sizzling. Add additional oil, if necessary.
4. Roast sprouts in skillet (or oven safe pan) in oven for 8 mins or until golden. Shake skillet (or pan) to redistribute sprouts. Return to oven and roast for 10-15 mins or until tender and bright green.
5. Place skillet on stove top (or put them back in skillet from the pan) on medium heat. Add remaining oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper, tossing to evenly distribute. Serve.

I've made these three times now and love them! I've decided a little crunchier is my preferred style, so see what works best for you.

How's everyone doing who participated? Keep going, gang. You can do it!

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