Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holiday Weekend Relaxation

Sorry for no updates recently! 

I haven't been reading about nutrition/fitness nor really focusing on that stuff - just doing what I always do: walking a ton, eating moderate portions and recommitting to a 95% Paleo food template after Thanksgiving (I ate leftover stuffing on Friday but we only took a small portion home, so that's all gone... No more temptation! I love stuffing so much, but it's not worth getting negative physical effects by eating it more than once a year.)

Just focusing on relaxing with Chris and the animals. Lots of down time - we've taken long walks, watched bad TV by the fire, napped on the couch with the cat and dog. It's been good - especially after a slightly stressful Thanksgiving.

But, while nutrition/fitness isn't the foremost on my mind, know that I am still committed to and living a life where my health is a top priority. Even if I'm not reading, writing, or thinking about health issues, I have so many ingrained habits that keep me healthy (good sleep, lots of water, staying active through most of the day, not eating processed foods, etc) that I no longer need to put much thought into staying healthy. It's a part of life :) I feel like I actually have to put some thought into making poorer decisions, actually (because we certainly don't have junk food in our house - we have to go looking for it!).

So no fear that a lack of updates mean I've gone off the rails! This holiday season is not an excuse to go crazy on food and drink or to let activity levels fall. It's just another part of the year - a fun, festive part of the year, yes! - but still affects my long term life. And yours, too. Don't be shortsighted as this month's celebrations roll in :)

I'll leave you with some photos from my life the past few days:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Total Mindlessness

Wanted to update you about the holiday.

First, we left Wednesday night in a snowstorm that was decently dangerous. We ended up in the car for 4.5 hours, working hard not to spin off the road and avoid other drivers (who weren't always making the safest decisions as far as driving in the snow).

We got to my sister-in-law's house late at night, quite stressed, and hungry. Chris had made us a big salad with ground turkey and beets for dinner, with a side of  roast sweet potatoes, but we had eaten it hours before. I mindlessly started eating out of a bowl they had out, while dealing with a little family stress and trying to come down off of the stress of the drive. A couple minutes later I realized I had been eating M&Ms!!!

Talk about mindless eating!

I didn't mean to eat chocolate (if you remember, I was doing a No Chocolate November to detox a little from overdoing it on chocolate for a while) but I went into a weird zone where I didn't even think about what I was eating, or that I had decided I wasn't going to eat chocolate this month. I was just so stressed out and hungry. Not good at all.

Well, I went 26 days without chocolate. Definitely long enough to break my habit and dependence and to open my eyes about my behavior with chocolate. I'm going to continue not to eat chocolate for the last couple days of this month, and I'm not going to immediately buy any as December rolls in, either!

I was pretty shocked at myself for so thoughtlessly putting something in my mouth. It gave me a lot to think about. It was emotional eating at it's worst for me - where I barely realized I was eating and didn't give one thought to what I was eating!

I've worked hard to address emotional eating in my life - more work needs to be done.

Thanksgiving was decently stressful, as well. I ate a very large dinner, but didn't overeat throughout the day. We drove home a few hours after dinner and only brought home a little turkey and stuffing (stuffing is my faaaavorite, and this is the only time of year I eat it!)... Leftovers were enough for lunch, so we're not going to overdo it on that!

Overall, I'm just glad to be home and back to normal.

Thankful for my husband and my animals and home :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Home Cooks Eat Better

Ran across this article this morning: Home Cooks Eat Better and it is good food for thought. Of course, as is pretty usual with long term eating habits research, this is data from self-reported sources. A few snippets:

"A new study suggests that people who cook at home most of the time consume generally healthier meals with fewer calories. An especially surprising observation about home cooks: they tended to consume fewer calories even when eating in restaurants. "

"When comparing the differences between the two “most” and “least” often cooking at home, two important associations were revealed: the most frequent home cooks consumed around 200 fewer calories daily, and around 16 grams of sugar (4 teaspoons)."

"To translate these findings into action, people must address the very real barriers of regular home cooking. These include lack of time, lack of money, and lack of cooking skills. Improving even one of these can likely result in healthier eating, both inside the home and out. "

I like how they stated at the end that changing even ONE obstacle (time, money, cooking skills) could help you increase the amount you cook at home - because not everyone can magically make more money appear! But, many people could sacrifice watching a half hour sitcom at night to make food or could put some effort into learning skills that make cooking much easier (and tastier!).

You all know that me and my husband are home cooks, through and through :)

I actually did a "budget calculator" and compared it to the nation's typical budget. My husband and I spend them SAME amount on food (includes groceries and eating out) as the average Joe in America, however, we spend almost DOUBLE on groceries and a fraction on restaurants compared to the whole. I prefer for my food budget to go to my home cooked meals - I know the quality of the food, the freshness, the nutrition, etc. Eating out is actually more of an entertainment for us - we like the whole experience, the ambiance, the social interactions. Eating out is not how we plan to get our weekly meals in! Also, I think that I am getting more food at the grocery store for $50 than at a restaurant for $50 - $50 can feed us for the better part of a week at home.

So, I know everyone has different lives and some people need to eat out more than others (thinking about work lunches or something!) but it is something worthwhile to think about, to see if there is room in your life for more home cooking.

Things with me are going pretty well - we met with a financial adviser last night to start setting up a plan to ensure future goals, kids, retirements and so forth. We've been sort of stumbling around for a while, doing what we could to prepare (joining the retirement systems, putting money in savings, etc), but we need a little better guidance!

Not worried about Thanksgiving this year - it will be a short one for us, as I have to work Wednesday and Friday, haha, so I will just fully relax with the family for that day. I have goals to NOT stuff myself silly, but to enjoy a little feast. We are going on a run with Chris' sister the day of, so that will be nice to get my body moving on a holiday.

Work is slow right now, but I should get back at it :)

Namaste <3

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pork chops with apple chutney, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes!

So, as the title suggests, I wanted to share my awesome dinner from last night! Very little prep time with big autumn flavors!!

We had our usual cubed, roasted sweet potatoes with garlic powder and black pepper.

We had GORGEOUS local pork chops that Chris rubbed with pepper and a BBQ rub:

We seared the chops and then roasted them slowly in the oven.

We cooked the Brussels sprouts low and slow in our cast iron with a little butter and soy sauce.

Simple prep for an apple chutney - cut up an apple, 1/4 onion, added lemon juice, cider vinegar, mustard seeds, red pepper and a little brown sugar (added raisins when it was close to done cooking) and sautéed it all up while the chops cooked:


Once again, an unplanned/no recipe dinner that we made with the lovely seasonal food we stock our house with - very little effort and very inexpensive!

Also came together nicely. It was delicious! We remarked that this is why we rarely go out to eat, because our food is delicious, satisfying and affordable :)

I also like very much how our bargain shopping leads us to buy seasonal foods (ie. less fresh tomatoes or berries and more apples and squashes are in our grocery cart!). I really notice the special tastes of each season this way - this year more than ever as we try to stick to our budget!

Hope you all have a beautiful day, it will be raining here but WARM, so I'll be walk in the parking garage today, haha :)

Update on Month without Chocolate

I realized I had not updated you all on how I'm doing on my "no chocolate November."

Well- it's going surprisingly well! I have not caved and have not had any chocolate this month. And, surprisingly, I'm not even really craving it at this point. A few days this month I have said to my husband "ohh you know how goooood chocolate is going to taste on Dec 1st????" Hahaha - so I am looking forward to it!

But I've not had to struggle with resisting it. In fact, my dedication to not having chocolate this month has help me say no to some of the sweets at the office and treats at friends houses that I otherwise might have had trouble saying no to. And that was definitely a go. I wanted to, overall, eat less sugar.

Chris and I used to eat chocolate every evening, post-dinner. I wanted to break the habit of craving sugar after dinner. I've had a few desserts this month (for example, I made "ice cream" out of bananas, frozen blueberries, and a little honey last night) but I have had them only once in a while, when I'm really craving something, and when I'm actually a bit hungry. Not necessarily after dinner and just because.

My plan going forward, when the month is over, is to treat chocolate like I've been treating desert in general this month. I will only have it once in a while, when I'm really craving it, and it will be a special treat, not an everyday habit.

If I get out of control with it, I'll do another reset. But I think I've learned a good lesson this month - how ever much I might love chocolate, I certainly don't need it.

Plans for my Sunday: a little grocery getting at the co-op, super long dog walk to get me over 10,000 steps, some dissertation writing and bad tv watching with Chris :)

I'll leave you with a picture of my ridiculous and awesome dog:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Super cozy

Since it is still freezing here (but thankfully we missed out on the 7 feet of snow other parts of the state got!!), I got dressed super cozy for work:

Fleece lined leggings for the win!!

Not much else to report. Taking care of business, which is hard while Chris is away, but it is really important for me to maintain my health, my animals' health, my home and my schoolwork once I am off of work. Even though it is hard and there is a lot to take care of! I certainly am looking forward to Chris coming home tomorrow. I also just miss seeing his face, hearing his voice, having his presence fill up the house. I am lonely without him!

That's about it for me right now, I've had a lot to say this week, so I will keep this short :) I will urge you to read my last blog post if you haven't already, I think it's really important!

Namaste <3

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transistioning from Calorie Counting to Clean Eating

This is a topic I've been sort of mulling over lately as I read others' blogs, hearing their struggles to learn how to do everything right nutritionally as they come off years of eating as much junk as they could possibly want. We are inundated in the weight-loss world with how important it is to eat a certain way (though everyone has a different idea what that way is - vegan, paleo, gluten free, clean, etc) or else you are doomed to fail!!!! I always give that idea the side-eye.

When you are starting from scratch, how do you achieve perfection??

And I thought about how I got to the place I am now (grain-free, 95% non-processed foods, focus on organic foods, healthy and fit, etc).

I didn't start out that way! Hell, I didn't even get here within 5 years of when I started to change my life.

I came from a place of complete indulgence. I ate processed, sugary, salty, chemical-laden junk most of the day. I never really moved at all! I was obese, according to the charts. I was sick.

First thing I did when I wanted to change everything? I reduced calories and portions. I didn't know much about nutrition and I didn't even bother learning at first. I needed some weight off and that was my goal. I learned about how many calories a woman my age/size needed to eat in order to lose weight and decided to set a calorie limit of 1600 per day.

So I would look up calories in my foods and fit them into that allowance.

I quickly learned I could not eat very MUCH of my current foods into that allowance (half a bag of Doritos later and I'd be out of calories for the day!), so I started bulking out my meals with salads. I chose lower calorie items of the types of foods I really liked (breads, etc) in order to still have them in my life, but not feel starving during the day.

I dropped a lot of weight by sticking to a calorie limit. Setting that calorie limit also taught me some important lessons: eating high calorie junk meant I either A) could not stick to my calorie limit or B) I would be HUNGRY when I went to bed. If I wanted to stick to my limit, I had to add in vegetables and fruits and turn down more junk food than ever before.

I didn't reinvent the wheel for myself. I didn't overwhelm myself in the beginning. I made one big rule (very similar to the Weight Watchers point system - where you have no overall rules, just a point balance to stick to, and you quickly learn that you run out of points really fast when you make poor choices too often).

Once the bulk of the weight came off and I started to add in exercise, AND I took all those lessons from calorie counting to heart is when I really started to pursue educating myself about nutrition.

After years and years of making small differences (one year I stopped eating white flour, another year I learned "low-fat" wasn't doing me any favors, another I focused on eating fresh food and getting processed stuff out of the house, etc) that I transitioned to the food template I eat now. I learned that, for me, if I eliminated grains, I could fit in a lot more volume and get a ton more nutrition. I learned about which foods and food combinations had the best nutrition for me (vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbs). I learned about "good" fats like avocado and coconut oil and how important they were to feel satiated. I could go on and on!


My advice if you are just starting out? If you have tried to completely change your life before and failed? If you have trouble with intuitive eating?

- One step at a time. Don't try to immediately be a cross-fit, paleo, organic goddess. That can be an AWESOME long term goal, but going from one extreme to the other can be setting you up for failure.

- One good habit teaches others (reducing your calories helps you quickly learn that you can either eat a LOT of fruit/veggies/lean protein or a LITTLE processed junk food).

- This is a long process. Most of the people I have read about who are inspirations to me (super clean eaters, super athletes, whatever they might be that I aspire to) did not get there overnight. They either started out with a lifetime of good habits OR they worked for years to overcome bad ones. I learned early on not to expect to conquer all my demons immediately. But I HAVE been conquering them over the years, and that was the goal.

This applies to so many things in life, things that are important, things that are worth it.

I wanted to get my PhD (and hopefully will finish next year!), and that all began in 2000 when I went to undergrad, and when I applied to graduate school, when I finished my thesis and got my Master's, when I struggled through tough classes, etc. I didn't accomplish any of that fast, but I did accomplish it.

I wanted to become an Adirondack 46er (climb the tallest 46 mountains in NYS, called the High Peaks). I started with the first mountain, and three years later, I climbed the 46th one. Every rock I scrambled, every blister I got, every cold night in a lean-to, every single step was a movement to that goal.

You have to take the first step, and it is OFTEN the simplest though often as hard as the last one! End goals are great, visualizing what you want for yourself in the future is important, but if you can't skip the first steps. Look at the best, simple change you can make and make it with all your heart. You'll get there.

Namaste <3

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

8000 steps

Yesterday, I didn't walk before or after work (Chris walked the dog before he left and I had a dentist appointment after work... that, plus it was sleeting and freezing cold all day long!) and could only walk in the parking garage during my breaks because of the weather (I don't walk as fast for safety in there). By the end of the day, I only had 8000 steps - and that was with me trying pretty hard.

I was talking to Chris about how PURPOSEFUL you actually have to be about activity in order to get the recommended amounts in! Especially now as the weather starts to take a turn for the worse, it will be even more difficult.

We walk a LOT - we walk the dog anywhere from 1 to 3 times a day, we walk at work, we walk to friends' houses for social stuff, we sometimes even walk to the stores nearby our house. And unless we throw in a 5 mile hike during the day (which is a weekend thing usually!), we barely make 10,000 steps per day.

It made me wonder about a lot of people I know who don't walk purposely at all - no dog to walk, no lunch break walks, etc. Just out the door, to the car, to the office and back. No wonder so many 9-5 job Americans are struggling with health and fitness. This isn't just a normal/expected part of life anymore - evidenced by my coworkers exclaiming with surprise when I put on my jacket and scarf for my mid-morning walk today because it is quite cold out. They don't know why I don't just go sit in the cafeteria with them.

I want to keep moving. Use it or lose it, yeah?? I want to be that 80 year old woman I see out in the neighborhood walking every day. I want to be those post-retirement folks I see out on the hiking trails. So I am going to keep up the good habits!

I like the pedometer. I think I will use it for about a month to get a sense of what my trends are and activity levels are on normal days so that I can incorporate that data into my future decisions about activity - if I should up it or not!

The rest of the week will be a little extra active for me. Chris has been taking morning dog walk duties but he is traveling this week, so I get 30 extra minutes of activity a day. The extra walk is good for me, but I will admit to preferring that my husband was home and our normal routine was back!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Brunch dress

Forgot to mention I went to a birthday brunch for a friend on Sunday- we went to my favorite place (City Beer Hall, best brunch in town) and had to put three long tables together to fit 22 people! It was quite fun :)

I got huevos rancheros eggs - delish and the healthiest option, haha.

I wore a new dress and felt kind if adorable:

Floral patterns aren't usually my thing, but I like stepping out of my box now and then :)

Off to the dentist today, getting a crown finished on a back tooth I cracked in my teens (yikes)... Lots of appointments for this one, glad to end the saga!

Weekend Update (and magazines?)

I wanted to write a quick post updating you on how my weekend was. I had a really nice weekend overall, I saw a lot of friends and spend a lot of quality time with Chris and Koda (which is always a number one priority!). I had my pedometer on my phone the whole time, and some days I exceeded 17,000 steps!!

But something I wanted to address is this misconception some of my readers might have about me?

Recently, and in the past six months or so, several different commenters (someone just the other day, which spurred me to make a bigger post about it) have made remarks that I need to stop reading magazines. Like People or supermarket rags.

Um, I don't read magazines?!? And I'm not sure where this idea has come from. I must be giving you a slightly skewed idea of who I am if several different people have chastised me to stop reading magazines and following celebrities.

In reality, I have absolutely no time to read magazines, because in my few moments today that I do read for pleasure, I read books (right now I am slowly savoring Tom Robbins' Skinny Legs and All... Highly recommend!). Not to say that those who read magazines shouldn't, in the end, I do believe everybody has choices like that to make for themselves and decide what gives them pleasure not.

BUT I am a young(ish) woman who fully and completely participates in the culture in which I live. I do know major celebrities names and their movies and such. I see the magazines as I wait to check out at the supermarket. I watch TV. I've read news articles when they pop up on Google news headlines. I talked to my friends about the media they like.

And, I have been schooled as an anthropologist for almost half of my life, and have a big interest in media, art, etc, and how it all into relates with societal norms and cultural expectations and worldviews. I'm interested in how we can so certainly perceive the world one way and someone from a different culture can so certainly perceive it another.

So I talk about current news, pop culture, and how it all relates to me trying to be a healthy and complete young woman on my own.

I suppose I just feel a bit dismissed by some people who read my blog, which is totally their prerogative as I do put things out there publicly. But I don't want to be dismissed as some airheaded chick who only looks at pictures in magazines and give no thought to other issues. It is precisely the images in magazines that caused me to think about bigger issues and some of the topics of talked about. And these topics NEED to be talked about because we have millions of young women coming into their own surrounded by this culture we live in, and if they don't stop to think about it and they just consume it, it will alter who they are and how they feel about themselves.

So that's my rant. I didn't want to be defensive, but it has been a little bit of a trend of people contacting me this past year with their own concerns. And their concerns are unwarranted. It is my very exploration of these topics in this world we live in that helps me heal.

Lifting the veil and refusing to be oblivious and just except things as they are? It's my goal!

So, as always, I welcome discussion, but I don't want people to be confused about where I'm coming from or my purpose here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"I feel guilty but I hate my body" article

Quite an interesting read, but it is about eating disorders, disordered behaviors, etc, so a bit triggering if you struggle with that.

The article addresses something I think about a lot - that feminists preach you are supposed to love your body no matter what, but this current culture makes it very hard to do that. That even staunch feminists can struggle to accept their bodies.

"“The current obsession with health, image and fitness is way out of kilter [with] self-care.” It raises the question: in our seemingly flaxseed and clean eating-obsessed Instagram culture, just how many women are hiding an eating disorder behind a healthy lifestyle obsession?"

And, being a part of this blog world, I always run into blatant examples of this. I try to stick to reading blogs by women who are great examples of actually focusing on health, but there is an inundation of disordered behavior on many blogs.

And because I know I have a history of disordered eating, I also try very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle without it itself becoming disordered. To find balance in body and mind. To practice what I preach!!

I do believe that part of loving yourself means that you must take care of your body, but it is easy to cross the line and become obsessed and then harmful. 

Again, I'm sharing this because it is better to be aware and self-aware in order to pursue a truly heathy (mind/spirit/body) life.

Namaste <3

Friday, November 14, 2014


I decided to download a pedometer onto my phone to see exactly how many steps I was getting during my day, now that I'm at a desk job. It was a free download and it's very simple app, which I like. It's called "Pacer" for iPhone.

I also like having a fitness app that is not focused on my weight or my calories. I have too long a history of disordered eating and obsessive behaviors with those type of numbers. But making sure I get enough activity in during the day? It's perfect for me and doesn't trigger any sort of weird behaviors.

This was my step count by the end of the work day:

You can see the bargraph on the bottom that shows when I get most of my activity in. The tallest spikes are my breaks when I go outside and walk around. The smaller spikes are when I take an unscheduled break to stretch my legs, usually walking up the stairs or something.

But that's great! Almost 10,000 steps before I get home!

I didn't walk the dog at all yesterday, because I had to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my friend who's wedding I am in. So I ended the day with this step count:

So, I feel pretty good about my activity levels, even though I'm at a desk job. Days when I walk the dog or go hiking must be well over 10,000 steps, which is that sort of generally recommended number of steps we should be taking in a day to be active.

I had a drink with my friend after shopping last night (which was very successful, I got a beautiful dress, and ordered it a few sizes too large just in case I am pregnant by her wedding next year... We are officially going to try in January). Snow started to fall while we were at the restaurant, it was a really lovely evening.

Off to work! <3

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Letting go of disordered ideas about clothing sizes

When I was heavier (almost 200 in 2004 and almost 150 in 2011), I really HATED clothes shopping. I wanted to hide my body in a sack. So I bought clothes that were too big for my body, and I was larger in the first place. I hated seeing really high numbers or the letter "X" on the clothing tag. I avoided getting clothes as much as humanly possible.

As I got smaller, I really started to enjoy clothes shopping - because I was proud of my body, now, and wanted to show it off! Also, it helped me mentally that the numbers were lower or the letters were "S" or "M" (even an "XS" at Old Navy, haha, vanity sizing!).

But, initially, even though I was at a healthy weight, my brain was still very disordered. I was obsessing over numbers (calories, weight, clothing tags, whatever) and wanted to see the lowest numbers possible. I would avoid trying on clothes whose sizing ran small (meaning if you were a size 4 normally, you'd fit into an 8) just to NOT have to buy a bigger size.

Not good. Kind of stupid. I didn't wear clothes because of a hidden number on the tag?

As I've done more and more work on my mental health in the past few years, I've let a lot of the obsession go. I've learned that numbers don't define me.

My body is the size it is, whether the clothing tag says "S" or "L"... clothing manufacturers do really whatever the hell they want when it comes to determining size. They are playing to certain markets. I just have to ignore it.

Now, when I shop, I usually have NO idea what I will fit into. I grab all sorts of sizes in a best guesstimate sort of way. Tops are different than bottoms. Cuts determine size. And it all just does NOT matter. What matters is getting clothes that flatter you and that you feel terrific in!

Here are some of the many articles online that discuss vanity sizing and why what size you buy doesn't really say much about your body:

For example, I went to H&M, bought a size small top and pants in a size 10.

It was the first time in a long time that I bought double-digit sized clothes and I had a momentary pang of "OH NO!"... a flashback to the old days when my weight, how many calories I had eaten or my size determined my worth (in my own mind, anyway). A bad time.

But then I got real. It was a tag and a number. It's from a more youthful store, skinny cut pants, etc... the sizes are going to be different. My body is the same as it was before I put those pants on and I was happy with my body then, so I had to be happy after :) 

I felt great and professional and trendy and confident in my pants. The tag doesn't define ANY of that about me:

There is a lot of craziness in this modern Western world - lots of messed up ideas about health and worth and beauty. I have pursued health in body AND mind, and it has been worth it. Trying to ignore all the stimulus in this society is very hard... but looking inward is where you will find your real worth (not to say that you shouldn't pursue physical health... it all goes together. Body and mind create a feedback loop, healthy or sick).

It is a fine line we all walk - pursuing health while trying to weed out the disordered ideas about health in our own society. To love our bodies as they are while still reaching for better physical health. To know we are beautiful while the media tries to tell us we aren't good enough. It's a mess, but it's worth the struggle to figure it out, though :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Processing a massive pumpkin and shrimp dinner

After our hike yesterday, we did a lot of grocery shopping and chores and prep. One thing we had been meaning to do for a long time was roast this 20+ pound pumpkin Chris had bought some weeks ago.

Turned out well for not as much work as I had anticipated!

First we roasted the seeds. I scooped them out of the pumpkin, cleaned them off a little bit, tossed them in a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, and garlic powder and then I spread them out on parchment paper on a roasting sheet for ~15 minutes at 325°:

Then we cut the gigantic pumpkin in half and alternately roasted each have for between one and two hours (one half was much smaller than the other) at 365°:

I then cut the skin off - instead of trying to flip it over and scoop out the insides like I do with other squashes. This thing was massive.

The one pictured got a little overcooked, the other half was firmer and not as shriveled, which made it easier to cut the skin off. Got to keep on eye on what you are roasting!

I cut it up into manageable pieces and drained it a little (I think because we had a monster pumpkin, it was a little absurdly high in water content). Then threw the pieces into the food processor to make a puree.

I ended up with well over 10 pounds of pumpkin puree!! And it tasted really good - better than the organic canned pumpkin I've been buying (on sale at the co-op). I didn't add anything to the puree, so that we can use it either sweet or savory in the future.

I already made my flax milk/banana/pumpkin smoothie with it and it turned out GREAT. The fresh pumpkin flavor is really noticeable.

So Chris bought this pumpkin for $6 and we got a tupperware filled with tasty roasted pumpkin seeds and over 10 pounds of pumpkin puree (and the cans I buy are over a $1 a can for less than a pound of pumpkin puree.. so we totally SAVED money by buying and processing this pumpkin!).

We had a fun day in the kitchen - we also made a quinoa pasta dish, tossed with butter garlic shrimp, sausage, tomatoes and basil. A real restaurant type treat! I was surprised at how well the shrimp came out as it was my first time ever cooking shrimp.

Here's the cooking story in pictures (no recipe with this one, just looked up how to cook shrimp and added tasty things to the pasta for an Italian type flavor profile):

We did a lot of other things (things NOT involving food, haha) on our day off - house repairs, cleaning, playing with the dog and cat, I even took a luxurious bubble bath with a good book) and I am much refreshed!

Namaste <3

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What to with my day off...

I'm so lucky to have a family (husband and dog!) who love outdoor activity. It makes deciding what to do on a day off simple - go play in the woods for a few hours:

Home by lunch time and about to have a leisurely grocery shop. Feels heavenly!

It's been such an important part of my weight maintenance to make physical activity a joyful part of life. Now, it's as natural as breathing to get out there and move. It is super necessary for my brain and body health. 

Also, sharing it with my best friends (yes, husband and dog :) ) is great for my heart!! I'm happy <3

It's my best advice - make clean food and physical activity a delightful part of life that you look forward to. A healthy spirit and body will be your reward!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hike Photos

There is really nothing more invigorating than hiking an isolated mountain in the off-season, feeling very alone, getting to see animals, hearing the silence, and feeling really, really challenged!

In fact, sometimes I hate hiking. Going up those steep inclines? I wonder why I am subjecting myself to HOURS of what feels like being on a stair-stepping machine! I curse a little (or a lot, sometimes) as my legs burn and I know the end of the burn is far, far away.

But then I get to the top. I see how far I've come. I feel AWESOME - no other word for it :)

I feel so... primally human.

The trails in the Northeast as not like most of the trails out west. No switchbacks here. These trails were developed in the early days of the country, before we knew about trail design to stave off erosion. The first climbers used animal herd paths and headed straight UP UP UP the mountain. It's pretty unrelenting and rugged!

Especially this time of year, with mixed ice and wet and leaves and snow and rock... slippery, dangerous. Using tree roots and jutting rocks to vault yourself up small cliff sides? I feel proud I don't turn back :)

Some photos:

Bear tracks within 20 yards of the summit!


Deer - very cool to see them out in the middle of nowhere!

Alright - I have tomorrow off!! I will be working on my dissertation a little, taking the dog on a long walk, and lounging around with Chris (who has the day off, too!).


Brunching and Hiking

I really enjoyed my weekend! My in-laws visited and we went to brunch (I went off paleo and had a sandwich - very worth it!) and Chris' mom treated me to some new work clothes:

A real treat as new clothes isn't really in the budget right now! Really liking the sweater dress for the colder weather.

The next day, instead of eating out and shopping, we went on a 12 mile hike:

It was very snowy for half the hike as we got into the higher elevations. Really great day, overall - lots of laughs with friends, saw bear tracks up on the summit, woodpeckers, a deer up close (Koda loved that!), and felt strong!

Very different days over the weekend and I really enjoyed them both :)

We went to bed early (and missed the Walking Dead! But recovery sleep us more important than TV) and I feel TERRIFIC today!

I'm at 125 right now, so 2 pounds up from where I like to be - I expected it after a salty, bready restaurant meal AND the fact that we ate a little extra on the hike (being really cold and working hard for 9 hours makes me too hungry to ignore!)

Will be back to normal after a few days.


Friday, November 7, 2014

No Grains, No Gains November Topic: How I Stay Motivated

No Grains, No Gains: A group of paleo/primal/grain free women who blog about their experience/life/benefits without grains. A great way for others (who may be wanting to lose weight, reverse acute/chronic health trends and/or transition from commercial weight loss programs) to read about real life women who are living the life and succeeding!

Great topic, and a really hard one to articulate: how to stay motivated. It's an even harder topic to discuss how to GET motivated, one that I have talked about several times on my blog before (because it was kind of a weird, ephemeral moment where I just had ENOUGH and changed everything that moment... not the next day, not the coming Monday, not that New Year's, but that very moment. And I've never looked back!).

But staying motivated?

When I see my friends ordering take out several times a week, going out for lunch, throwing waffles into the toaster and taking absolutely ZERO time to buy/prep/cook their food? They get hours of extra leisure time every week (especially if you add in the hours that I work out when others choose not to!)??

Sometimes I get tired. I don't want to grocery shop several times a week, carefully prep food for lunches and dinners and snacks to make sure we always have fresh, whole, clean foods to eat. Sometimes I don't want to go for that extra walk, I want to sit at the bar or on the couch and drink with my friends.

I could go on and on. It's hard! It is not always the easy OR the popular choice to take really good care of your body, especially at the expense of leisure/social time. But I've found my balance - I DO get lots of awesome social time with friends, lots of quiet at-home time with my husband, lots of quality time with my animals. I haven't sacrificed my life OR my health...

It's not healthy to:

A) obsess about health/fitness/diet/etc to the detriment of enjoying your life (love, joy, laughter with loved ones, entertainment, quiet time with yourself, whatever!)

B) indulge so completely in life to the detriment of your health and your body (to never take the time out of the day to focus on your food or activity so you can completely relax and be social/be leisurely)

I find my motivation in my BALANCE :)

I have both things. I am giving up nothing (other than greasy late night pizza after hanging out or a few hours of couch potato time, haha).

I stay motivated because I am happy with what I am doing. I had lost motivation in the past because I wasn't happy.. I was giving up too much of one thing or the other (either giving up my health to be indulgent in my pleasure or giving up my pleasure to be too stringent with my health).

Once I removed the DANGEROUS indulgent elements (processed foods, too much alcohol, being sedentary) from pleasure, from social time, etc, I was able to have it all. I can spend an evening watching TV with my friends and drink seltzer instead of beer and still get all the benefits of laughing with people I love. If I want to go to a bar, I can walk there and limit myself to one drink and get all the benefit of being out. I can spend one weekend day being a little lazy and the next day of that weekend on a 15 mile hike. I can take time out of my Monday evening to prep food for the week so that I am not focusing on shopping/prep/cooking every night of the week. I can eat 95% paleo and clean so that once a week, I get to have a brownie or something else I want!

Healthy compromises. Putting both my physical self and my emotional self at the same level of importance - one should not win out over the other. Both should be kept at peak strength!

But I think this is where diets and diet programs fail... these compromises are different for everyone!

Everyone's social needs and physical needs are different.

And it is supremely difficult to find the lifestyle that supports them both equally.

It took me almost a decade to get here, to learn what worked for me (because I didn't grow up in balance).

But it is worth the time, the work, the energy, the self-reflection, the failures. Because when you live your life in balance, motivation isn't really a question.. you do it because it works, because it feels good, because you are happy.

You'll have moments of self-doubt, like I said before. Where you are tired. Or you wonder why others take the easy way and you don't.

You do this because you've decided your physical and emotional health are important. Because when you have that health, you feel good MOST of the time (there will be moments of doubt, of course!). But don't give up years of being at peace with yourself for that doubt. Remember the overall sense of well-being and joy you get when your body works at its best, when your mind is clear and you smile more than you frown!

Motivation is a tricky subject. It is personal. It requires a lot of self work to find. All I can tell you is that it is worth the work. This is your one life, live it well :)

Follow the other members to read about how they stay motivated:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How I know giving up chocolate was the right thing to do...

So how do I know that giving up chocolate for the month was the right thing to do?


I freaking cannot stop thinking about it!!!!

In fact, today I found in my lunchbox a chocolate that my husband had secreted away there as a special treat for me... LAST WEEK! I never found it then, so his intentions were great, but the fact that I found it today, while annoyed at work? Augh. I almost ate it.. I had the thought that I could just eat it, never tell anyone, and no one would know that I ate chocolate in a month I promised myself I wouldn't. It wouldn't even matter to anyone else. Whose life does it affect if *I* eat chocolate?? 

In the end, I decided that it would matter to me. So I immediately texted Chris and told him I found the chocolate (I also wanted to make sure he didn't put it in my lunchbox today in some weird sabotage move... He didn't!). By telling him, I brought some accountability to my actions. That way, at least one other person would know I had broken my promise. I don't want to be seen as someone who can't stick to her convictions. It gave me strength.

So, I brought it home, and gave it to him while he was raking leaves :) He ate it gratefully!!

But NOT eating chocolate at night is also driving me up a wall! I keep imaging the sugar rush, the texture, the sweetness, the indulgent pleasure after a long day. Haha.. They do say that sugar evokes the same sort of pleasure in the brain as opiates. I get it. Total chocolate addict.

So, obviously, it was a good idea to eliminate it. No good comes from a specific food having that strong of a hold over me!

Though I am a firm believer in the fact that it is not shameful to take pleasure from the food you are eating, in the end, food is fuel. It isn't life, just a means by which to sustain life. 

Moving on, moving on. No chocolate. I ate a lot of really delicious, really nutritious food today. I am full and sated. I did a lot of great work on my dissertation after work, and am now drinking strawberry seltzer with a splash of lemon juice in bed while I watch Survivor ;)

There are better things to focus on than food in life. I just have to shake the bad habits and retrain my brain so that all my energies can go to that more important stuff!!


Traditional Weight Gain?

Today is shaping up to be a nice one - a little warmer than usual for this time of year (yay for more walks outside at work)! But the forecast is showing dropping temperatures for the rest of the week. Normal for November in the Northeast!! I am just grateful that we had such an amazing fall with gorgeous leaves, warmer temps and not so much rain as usual (ignoring anything that might mean for global warming... yikes).

I find myself eating a bit more than usual as the temperature gets colder, though. Pretty normal biological situation: Why Do We Eat More in Winter? from SAD to longer, darker days, to 1000s of years of TRADITION of feasting in this time of year (look at any culture in any area with marked seasonal change... you will see that the beginning of winter is full of traditions, feasts and holidays for a variety of social and biological reasons).

But I live in America in the 21st century. There is no need for me to bulk up for the coming winter as I have plenty of food available all year round. Feast or Famine is not a part of my life (thank goodness!).

I can celebrate the changing of the seasons, but putting on protective pounds doesn't need to be part of it. Having food available during a celebration doesn't mean I have to eat MORE of it than usual, I can enjoy special traditional foods without overindulging (I am obviously saying this to REMIND myself of these truths, haha).

So as the temperatures dip and I am noticing a slight pound-ish trend up on the scale, I am consciously trying to rein it in a little bit.

Being up a pound or two come spring isn't the worst thing, and is pretty normal (as I said, we are kind of biologically inclined to gain a bit of weight this time of year), but 5 or 10? No way! So early November is a little too early for me to have a weight gain :)

Just a little reality check as we move into this cold time of year filled with festivities!!

There is no shame in normal weight fluctuations, I need to remind myself of that. But there is also a difference between normal weight fluctuations and letting wayyyy too loose over the holidays. There will be no throwing caution to the wind and rationalizing several pounds of weight gain. No "but it's Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years/Eve/Day/weekend, etc!" No "but everyone else is eating two types of pie and four types of cookies today!" None of that :)

I will value my health this time of year just as any other time of year.

I will celebrate with my loved ones with my LOVE and not food <3

Monday, November 3, 2014


You can't tell, but it is very lightly snowing here as I take my third walk of the day at work!

I can feel it coming, the time when I'm going to have to stay inside most of the time during the workday because of the weather. The temperature is dropping steadily in my part of the country.

I do you have six flights of stairs I can walk up and down, but I am going to miss the fresh air and sunshine. For days that aren't too bad, I do plan on bringing winter boots and a nice heavy down winter coat to get outside at least once a day. 

These daily walks at work have done wonders at keeping my mood up. I attribute that to not only exercise but just plain old being outside - feeling the sunlight, hearing the birds, smelling the fresh air, surrounded by colors.

But hey! I made it to November, and I'm still getting all three of my walks outside :)


Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Chocolate November

Occasionally, I will decide not to consume a specific food item for a month, kind of a little reset. This happens when I see myself eating something out of habit, out of emotion, eating it when I'm not even hungry, etcetera.

I did it last year for a month with chips. I realized I was scarfing them down at any available opportunity (I didn't bring them into my house!). But at a social event, friends house, out to a restaurant, whatever, I would eat them a little bit out of control. That month of not eating them really helped me break my habit and they haven't made their way back into my life almost a year later (I have occasionally indulged in pretzels when drinking!). But I've eliminated that automatic, emotional response and can ignore that bowl of chips at a party :)

This month, I'm going to take a break from chocolate. I definitely was eating it every day, after dinner as a little treat with Chris. Averaging about 200 cal a day that were NOT going towards nutritious foods that would benefit me. Not necessary!

A little reset will be good! Remind myself that chocolate is not an everyday food - it's something that should be consumed sparingly.

Also, it will help me devote more calories of my day towards filling, fibrous vegetables or other nutritious foods. Things that will satiate me and fill me up as we go into this holiday season where there are going to be a lot of temptations! If I was already eating chocolate every day, the daily sugar spike would have me all primed and ready to not be able to say no to pies and cakes and candy and other holiday treats. 

This morning was devoted to grocery shopping and housecleaning. I got a great haul from the co-op:

Lots of seasonal veg (squashes, sweet potatoes, onions, beets, cabbage, etc.), apples from local farms, flax milk, canned pumpkin and tons of other stuff. We'll shop for meat later in the week :)

I also did a lot of food prep, like making my pumpkin smoothies for the week, cooking up a nice mix (Mexican spiced chicken with tomatoes, onions and mushies) and generally just getting everything ready so that lunches and dinner are really easy this week.

Still feeling really good in general - making proactive choices to make life better helps me feel good, even if life is a little bit hard right now. Hope is a beautiful thing!

I hope everyone is having a great day and setting themselves up for a great week!!