oh, sugar, how I crave you

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I’m on day 15 of removing sugar and grains from my diet.  Grains are not tough at all for me but sugar, damn you sugar!  Let me go through a brief overview of what I’ve felt like over the last two weeks.

Day 1-2      Feeling great!  Feeling alive!  I know this is so good and so right for me and I am loving getting the sugar out of my system!  I don’t know if I’ll ever eat sugar again because I feel so good!

Day 3         OK, so I kind of want to hit someone.  I’m irritable, tired, impatient, grumpy, and honestly a little bitchy.   What I would do for a piece of dark chocolate right now is downright scary.

Day 4          Why the heck do I decide to commit to these things?  Cut sugar out completely?  Can it be cut out completely?  It’s in tooth paste.  I still brush my teeth.  Maybe one chocolate chip wouldn’t hurt….no, NO!  I am strong.  I can do this.

Day 5          Okay, okay.  Feeling less irritable today.  Whenever I’m hungry or craving sugar, I realize if I just eat protein, I am better.

Day 6         Forget protein.  I want sugar.  I just want some sugar.  Just a little morsel.  Something…. anything.

Day 7         Hmmm, okay.  I really do think I’m getting better now.  The cravings are subsiding.  And I remembered that I really like apples sautéed in butter with cinnamon on them.  Mmmmmm.

Day 8-10    Doing awesome!  No sugar still and now I realize that it wasn’t caffeine I was craving mid-afternoon but instead it was sugar.  In whatever form was easiest available.  Chocolate covered almonds, chai lattes, tea with stevia, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips, raisins (yes, sugar comes in a natural form called fruit….I’m eating 1-2 servings a day but that’s it and it’s been either a green apple or berries)…

Day 11        Worked all day at the Women’s Show.  Standing for long periods of time and all around me the vendors had candies and chocolates as enticing giveaways.  Not me.  Stayed strong.  If you were at our booth, enjoying a sugary morsel and I was gazing longingly at you, I apologize.  But now you know why.

Day 12       Second day at the Women’s Show.  I had no idea how many people ate sugar!  And grains for that matter.  But when I choose whole foods (apple, almonds, sliced chicken, cut vegetables) to eat, I realized just  how much people rely on sugar and grains for their snacks and meals!

Day 13       My husband’s birthday.  I couldn’t trust myself to make a cake.  One lick of my finger and all my hard work was for nothing.  So I caved on the rest of my family and bought an ice cream cake.  For two reasons 1) Tom loves ice cream (seriously, it’s his ONE thing) and 2) my kids can’t imagine a birthday without a cake.  So, an ice cream cake it was.  And I didn’t even attempt to breathe deeply, while hovering over the top of the cake, in the hopes that the wafts of chocolate fudge cream would be enough.  I just threw on some candles, served it up, and watched as my family enjoyed.  And enjoy they did.

Day 14     I survived the ice cream cake so with this new-found sense of power over my cravings, I went ahead and made some grain-free chocolate chip cookies.  The kids haven’t had any baked goods since January 1 either (other than the ice cream cake last night, of course) and with some events this week where other less-healthy treats will be offered, I wanted to arm them with something they could enjoy and not feel left out.  I didn’t lick a spoon, my finger, or the drips that landed on the counter.  Woman of steel, I tell you.  (Side note: without the paleo baked goods in the house, the kids didn’t even realize it.  Two weeks of no paleo banana bread, paleo muffins, or other paleo-fied treats and not one peep of “can we have a muffinnnnnnnn?”)

Day 15      Today.  Those cookies in the pantry look damn good.  And apparently they are damn good because not only did each of the kids have a taste but our amazing cleaning lady did too.   She promptly went out and bought the cookbook that I got the recipe from, and then made a batch herself.  Out of the 18 cookies that were made, six were consumed yesterday by aforementioned individuals.  Ten were in the bag when I got home from work which leads me to believe that my husband found them.

So I’m now into the second half of my 30 day challenge to remove all grains and sugars.  Again, grains, I can live without.  I think it’s fair to say that sugars will be added back in but I will have new rules for myself around them.  What I have learned…..

  • I was am seriously addicted to sugar.
  • I don’t need sugar to get through a day.
  • I am perfectly fine to drink tea in lieu of chai lattes or tea with stevia/honey.
  • I am much stronger than the cravings that I used to cave to.

 

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Kitchen Love

One of my good friends and fellow chiropractors, Dr. Amy Gillespie-Robinson, has written many a time about how one of her joys is being able to provide good meals for her family.  I feel the same way.  There is something about creating an amazing meal to bring a family together that makes me feel like a good mom.  Also, knowing what goes into those meals (from scratch) is a good feeling.  I feel that for IWFDW, I have to put on a good show (I can’t very well put up some mangy looking food on my blog!) but this week I’ve been feeling very inspired in my kitchen.  The inspiration has overfloweth and I have been creating some really tasty dinners for my family to enjoy PLUS lots of leftovers to choose from throughout the rest of the week.  Family is happy because they are full and I’m happy because they are happy.  This may backfire on me when my inspiration runs dry but in the meantime, we’re all sopping it up.  It all started on Sunday night….

I had been frustrated over an injury that has kept me from working out (to any extent) for two weeks.  While it was healing, I knew that it would need another good week of rest before I could jump back in at the gym.  Other than going for walks around my neighbourhood, I had not been able to be that active.  So, I was being extra careful with what I was eating as I didn’t my  “no workout depression” to sideline my eating habits at all.

Sunday night we came home from an amazing weekend with friends down in Toronto.  I had been starstruck over meeting Fred Penner at Young People’ s Theatre in Toronto.  I know, I know…FRED PENNER!  The well-loved Canadian children’s performer that any kid from the Great White North grew up on.    Chime in when you’re ready: “The cat came back the very next day, the cat came back…they thought he was a goner, but the cat came back, he just couldn’t stay away!”  I’m such a fan, I wanted my picture taken with him and I haven’t washed Maggie since.

The Amazing Fred Penner with the equally Amazing Ryan Family (minus Tom who took the picture...xo)

The Amazing Fred Penner with the equally Amazing Ryan Family (minus Tom who took the picture…xo)

Anyhow, the weekend put things in perspective for me.  I had a great time with my family and my attitude prior to the weekend had been pretty pathetic.  Basically it was a slap across the face to say “get out of your funk, you whiner!”.  Just because I can’t be as active as I want to be doesn’t mean I can’t throw the energy I have for working out into other areas of my life.

So Monday morning I hit the grocery store.  I stocked up on foods to create some exceptional meals this week.  New foods, fun foods, interesting foods….just stepping enough out of my comfort zone as a cook to make things exciting.  Here’s what I came up with:

Mini Morning Glory Muffins

Mini Morning Glory Muffins

These have been delicious and a perfect addition to both breakfast and lunch.  They are nut-free so perfect to send to school!  Got them from www.paleomg.com!

HM Chicken & Veggie Soup with little carrot hearts. :)

HM Chicken & Veggie Soup with little carrot hearts. 🙂

This was my own inspiration and really nothing that took a lot of thought.  I simmered a whole chicken for about 45 minutes and then while letting the chicken cool on a rack, I added in some veggies (carrots, peas, onions) and spices (bay leaves, oregano, basil, parsley, s&p).  Cut up the chicken and Bob’s your uncle.

Turkey & Beef meatballs with Zucchini in a Marinara Sauce

Turkey & Beef meatballs with Zucchini in a Marinara Sauce

Really, again…not so difficult.  Mashed together beef & turkey (about 2 lbs in total) and then added in onion, garlic, s&p, basil, oregano, egg whites (3), and some almond flour (in lieu of bread crumbs).  Moulded them into balls and threw them into a HM marinara sauce made of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, s&p, garlic, onions, oregano & parsley.  Saute them for about 30 minutes and dinner is served!

So we have been enjoying these creations all week.  And then Wednesday came along and I’m trying very hard to keep up with the good meals I’ve been creating so I put together a version of Butter Chicken.  Actually, I can’t lie…the “butter” part was previously made a couple of weeks ago and I threw it in with some chicken tonight.  I got the basic recipe from Everyday Paleo but played with it a bit as I don’t know what fenugreek powder is, didn’t have time to make ghee,  and we love garlic so I upped it a bit (check out their site if you want their specific recipe)

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

1 red onion diced

3 tbsp coconut oil

6 oz can tomato paste

½ can coconut milk

1 tbsp crushed garlic

½ tsp cardamom powder

½ tsp coriander powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp butter

 

Details

Butterfly the chicken breasts.  In a large skillet or soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the diced onion and saute until translucent.  Turn your heat down to low and to the onion and oil mixture, add the crushed garlic, cardamom, coriander, paprika, and chili powder and stir well to make a paste.  Add the tomato paste to the onions and spices and stir, this mixture will be very thick.  Turn your heat back up to medium and add the coconut milk and salt.  Use a whisk to blend the tomato paste spice mixture and coconut milk together into a thick sauce.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and add the chicken.  Return the sauce and chicken to a simmer, turn down to medium low, cover and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the chicken is done all the way through – make sure you stir occasionally during the cooking process. After the chicken is cooked, add the butter and mix into the sauce until melted.

We served ours with a side salad of spinach, peas, red onion, feta, and a homemade vinaigrette of olive oil, rice vinegar, and grainy mustard.  The kids had peas as they won’t touch salad (yet).  The result:

Butter Chicken w/ Side Salad

Butter Chicken w/ Side Salad

For the rest of the week I have a few fun things planned – Chicken Drumsticks (I’m going out on a limb with this one – Tom isn’t a chicken fan so twice in one week is pushing it…they better be spectacular!), Sausage & Spinach stuffed Peppers, and for the first time in our house Cauliflower Crust Pizza (don’t laugh…apparently it’s amazing and I’m trying it out at our place this weekend….).  If you want updated pictures along the way, you can follow me on Instagram as I post daily there.

Eat on, my friends.  It’s a ton of fun creating new things in the kitchen.  Admittedly, they aren’t always met with rave reviews from my family.  Doesn’t mean I stop trying though.  The payback for me is a healthier family and there is no greater gift I can give to them.

Halfway there

I”m halfway through my Life by Design 30 Day Challenge.  I’m feeling really great, despite a few hiccups (read: cheats…you’ll read about it later in this post) along the way.  But I would say I’ve been about 90% By Design for two weeks, which really is impressive considering what I’ve had going on in life the last few weeks.  I’ve heard it a lot from people in the last bit….”Why are you so focused on this challenge with a new baby?” and “You’ve got three kids so how are you doing this eating by design thing?” and “Don’t you have enough stress right now to not add in a month long challenge?”

Here’s why – we ALL have stuff going on in life.  Whether it’s a new baby, a crazy job, family stress, money stress, holidays, blah  blah blah.  It’s all stuff.  And so MY 30 Day Challenge is no different from YOUR 30 Day Challenge in that my stress is mine, and yours is yours.  Stress isn’t a reason to not live a healthy life.  If anything, it is THE reason to live a healthy life.   My reasons are abundant – my

My reasons for focusing on extraordinary health.

own life, my kids lives, my husband’s life, my desire to be a chiropractor and help people, to play, to have fun, to travel, to enjoy, to thrive, to learn, to grow….I could come up with a thousand reasons to focus on my health every day of my life.  It takes one walk through the grocery store or a mall to give me a push to focus on more extraordinary health.  I see people who are slowly walking around with a negative cloud over their heads and playing the victim in their lives.  Everything is someone else’s fault and they take little to no responsibility for their lives.  It’s depressing to me.  And I refuse to be a victim, refuse to accept mediocrity, and refuse to live a life that is less than extraordinary.

So, back to my 30 Day Challenge.

This weekend was an awesome weekend.  I was up a few times Friday night through Saturday morning feeding Miss Maggie and it was fascinating to watch how the snow blew in.  At 11PM, it was merely a bit of a blowing of snow across our front yard.  At 3AM, the flakes were coming down, big fluffy flakes that were lit up so beautifully by the street lights, and accumulating quickly on the ground.  At 6:30AM, when my son so kindly woke me up by yelling at his sister “Caleigh!  CALEIGH!  I woke Mommy up because she has been sleeping for hours and hours!” (oh, the irony), the yard was blanketed in a good six inches of the white stuff.  It was pristine, untouched, and absolutely beautiful.  I love the first snow fall of the season.  My kids were beside themselves with excitement and flew through breakfast in order to be outside playing as quickly as possible.  And I cuddled up at the bay window with Maggie and watched as her older siblings tumbled, ran, somersaulted, dove, and dug through the snow.  It was a brilliant start to a lovely weekend and between the laughter and play that I soaked up with the kids and Tom, I also read more of “The Greatness Guide” by Robin Sharma (my book of the month).  Great tip for busy moms, TGG is a great book to read because the “chapters” are three pages or less long.  No excuses to get a flash of inspiration each day!

Dinner Saturday night was at a friend’s home, and it was a delicious potluck with lots of different foods.  In general, I think my friends think I’m beyond crazy with how I eat.  In fact, there is one friend who takes every opportunity to give me a hard time and tries to tempt me with Cheezies.  First off, they are Cheezies.  It’s about as far from food as possible so it’s not at all a test of my will power.  If he knew me better, he could tempt me with some chocolate and caramel and I might cave.  With parties or dinners though, I pick and choose what I’m going to be eating based on my By Design choices.  I will pass on the bread and load up on the meatballs.  I choose the cut vegetables over the tortilla chips.  It’s not ALWAYS going to work in my favour but most times I can be sure that I can eat By Design when I’m out at a party or a restaurant, and walk away from the event feeling good about my choices versus feeling like I fell off track.

The rest of the weekend was super easy to keep track of as we hung out around the house, decorating for Christmas and playing with the kids.  I snapped some photos for our Christmas card.  I made a huge vat of beanless chili and a huge pot of chicken and vegetable soup.  That’s one of my tricks for EBD, make large portions of food that can be reheated over and over throughout the week.  I mean, can you beat a bowl of chili topped with a half of avocado chopped up and a dollop of full fat Greek yogurt?  Me thinks not.  Other foods this weekend included omelettes,  almond flour waffles, fruits, cut vegetables, bacon, roast beef, and sweet potatoes.  I did fall off track a bit with a couple of chai lattes from Starbucks.  They’re loaded with sugar (42 g of sugar, holy crap) which is why I am always saying I’m going to cut them out completely but like an addict, I do go back occasionally.  Here’s my confession…I had two this weekend.  RIDICULOUS.  I know.

Moving by Design…wasn’t a huge focus this weekend.  Some mobility work and a bit of walking.  I had planned on doing some more body work in getting ready to go back to the gym but that didn’t work as I had planned.  It didn’t stop me from getting back at it Monday morning.  Although I have to admit, it would have been easy to take a day off on Monday too.  Maggie and Blake both have this crazy cough and so instead of taking them out of the house, I stayed at home.  Didn’t stop me from hitting the basement and doing a modified and shortened training session.  I spent 20 minutes doing lunges, squats, sit ups, push ups, and burpees in Tabata fashion, which means 20 seconds of movement, 20 seconds of rest.  So, imagine 20 seconds of sit ups and 20 seconds of rest and then repeating multiple times.  Short, intense, and I didn’t use “no gym time” and “sick kids” as an excuse.  My health is a priority to me!

So, that’s it.  My weekend during a By Design Challenge which is truly just like any other weekend.  There is no difference in living a lifestyle that is full of healthy choices and living a lifestyle that is full of unhealthy choices.  Let’s be honest – it’s a choice.  Whether you choose health or not, it’a lifestyle.  My lifestyle is NORMAL for me.  Would it be easier to eat McDonald’s and sit on the couch all weekend?  Sure.  Would I live as long a life with as much health?  No.  So for me it’s worth the investment in both time and money to make healthy choices NOW so that I can enjoy the rewards throughout my life.

Changing Routine on Day 8

When life gives you lemons…

It only took me 27 days to figure it out.  Actually 27 nights.  Long nights that were interrupted by feedings.  Those lovely feedings where I get to gaze at my youngest daughter and think random thoughts.  Some of those thoughts kept me awake even more than the feedings.  It’s amazing where you mind can go during the early hours of the morning.  I have trouble getting back to bed because of all the thoughts swirling around in my head.  Those thoughts I used to write down (hard to do when holding a baby) or work through in my morning power hour.

And then on the 27th night it hit me.  Maggie’s routine is different from that of my other two kids.  All three of my kids have been early risers but Maggie takes the definition of early to a whole new level.  For her, 5:00 is a wake up call.  I fought that 5:00 wake up call for the first 26 nights.  I would lie her in bed between my husband and I, then get up with her when I couldn’t get her to fall back asleep.  I’d rock her in my arms, try to nurse a full belly, check a dry diaper, gently bounce her up and down, try putting her down again…only to, in sheer exhaustion, look down at her and see wide eyes.  And yet at 6:00, when my other two early birds are ready to rise, she would fall back asleep.  The textbook “return to sleep after being awake for the first hour” of a newborn’s routine.  The difference with my first two kids is that this phenomenon happened between 6 and 7, not before 5AM.

So, a change in routine was instituted last night and damn, what a change in our lives!  I made the change  in my routine to go to sleep an hour earlier than normal and then I’m good to get up at 5AM instead of wanting to head back to bed.  Yes, still two nighttime feedings but when I can wake up feeling rested with 6 hours sleep in the early morning, it’s a whole different story.

And the best part?  The 5 AM wake up call means I get my morning power hour back.  I make a cup of tea, I nurse Maggie, and the two of read from an assortment of books.  Or maybe tomorrow morning, we’ll do some yoga.  Or I could spend time re-working my goals for when I return to adjusting in a couple of weeks.  Whatever I choose to do, the coolest part is that I get my morning power hour back and it feels great!

So, my Life by Design 30 Day Challenge DAY 8 was really fantastic.

Think by Design – Morning Power Hour spent reading from The Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma.  Nursed Maggie.  Spent quality time with all three of my kids today.  Laughed with my husband.

Eat by Design – Veggie omelette, bacon, tea w/ stevia & heavy cream, almonds, meat sticks, apple, carrot sticks, shrimp & sausage gumbo w/ veggies, lots of water & LBD supplements (fish oils & vitamin D…still need to get probiotics at house!)

Move by Design – 2 km walk with kids.  Practiced push ups.  20 knee-down push ups…ready to jump into regular push ups tomorrow (I think…)

Power by Design – heck yeah.  Adjusted by my hubby.

Day 4 & Getting my Body Back

I’ve been pretty good with my 30 Day Challenge.  In reality, it’s only day 4.  But often, it’s the first few days that are the hardest.  It requires dedication and a lot of effort to change the habits we’ve had for weeks, months, and years.  For me, it was the small things – the elimination of sugar – that has been the hardest.  I didn’t even eat a lot of sugar going into the challenge however it was the small things that I picked at here and there that made me realize I wasn’t eating as by design as I should be.  The Hallowe’en candy, the chai tea latte from Starbucks (truly, that deserves it’s very own post and I promise to write one within the week), the addition of honey to my tea, and so on.  But it’s coming, and while my body has crashed a little since going to over 90% eating by design, I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel a week from now.  By “crashed” I mean my immune system was taxed over the last few weeks and as I clean out my body, my immune system is rebelling just a little.  Headache, the chills, exhaustion…all signs that my body is tired and it needs some extra support right now.  It definitely doesn’t mean to come off eating by design, taking my supplements (vitamin D, fish oils, and probiotics), getting movement in some form every day, and focusing on my purpose right now.

Getting my body back is a huge priority for me.  I was damn strong before getting pregnant and up until 37 weeks pregnant, I was still training at CrossFit Barrie 2-3 days per week.  It was a modified workout so that I wasn’t stressing out my pregnant self, but ultimately I was still doing push-ups, burpees, pull-ups, Olympic lifts, skipping and more.  It wasn’t necessarily a pretty training session but it was   being done.  So, now, other than a daily walk with my kids around our neighbourhood, I’ve started doing some simple body work to re-train my body on how to properly squat, do push ups, and more.  The physical changes of my body during the last few months really altered how one properly moves with Olympic lifts.  My centre of gravity was off and in order to not fall over in squatting moves, I really had to throw my upper body forward.  Until my posture and body position is good during the movements, I don’t want to add any heavy weights into the workout.  (Also, let’s be honest, having a cesarean birth 3 weeks ago, I do have to respect my limitations as my body heals from the inside, out)

Next week, the plan is to actually get back into the gym.  Those 5 push-ups are calling and I’ve got 26 days to get my strength back up.

Day Two & A Little Reminder of Why I’m a Mom

In a nutshell, here was my “by design” day.

Power by Design – got adjusted.  Had my power turned on, my brain-body connection restored.

Move by Design – mobility and stretching.  I spent 10 minutes working with my foam roller, rolling out muscles in my upper and lower body as well as my back.  I find that with carrying around eight pounds of a cute baby as well as breastfeeding at night (the later the breastfeeding session, the less focus I have on my posture while feeding).  By the time each morning rolls around , my upper back is achy and I’m not moving around too well.  Spending time on my mobility is key.

Eat by Design – delicious.  Breakfast was an omelette packed with mushrooms, onions, spinach, basil, and red pepper with three strips of bacon on the side.  Mid morning snack was raspberries and almonds, tea with stevia and heavy cream.  For lunch I enjoyed slices of roast beef with a little mustard and green beans.  Dinner was leftovers, a meat sauce that was a topper for spaghetti squash the other night but tonight was perfect on it’s own.  And as I write this now, I’m enjoying a glass of red wine.  It was a healthy, filling and delicious menu throughout the day.  I wasn’t overly hungry.  Other than a mild craving for something chocolaty mid-afternoon, I didn’t have any crazy crashes that I expected considering we just came off Hallowe’en and those mini chocolate bars occasionally would find their way into a pre-dinner snack for me.

Supplements – Vitamin D (10,000 IU) and Fish Oils.  I need to restock on my probiotics.

Think by Design – picked up my book to read this month but haven’t yet had a chance to start it.  I spent time playing with my kids, colouring, doing puzzles, and reading.  I would also chalk writing this blog up to part of Think by Design.  It can be cathartic, helps me stay focused on my goals, and as one of my loves is to write, this brings some joy at the end of my day.

Speaking of bringing joy into my day, I had the opportunity to meet with my daughter and her teacher today for a parent/teacher interview.  I’m so proud of how my daughter is doing in school – she’s engaged, helpful, trusted, and learning her ABCs and 123s like every good grade one student will.  Before going in to meet with her teacher, we sat in the hallway and went through some of the work she had been doing over the last two months.  A large cardboard cutout of a fish with patterns on it, exercise sheets where she counts by 2s, 5s, and 10s using Fruit Loops, and a drawing showing how the sun affects the earth during the different seasons.  She was so excited to show it to me, to share with me what she does during her day.  Then we got to the best part.  Up on the wall, in the school hallway, was a line of stories and pictures all answering the same question, “What is Your Favourite Body Part?”.  When we found my daughter’s, she had taken a picture of her hands and the attached story literally made me melt into a puddle of mom on the floor.

“I love my hands because I can hug my mom.”

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Could I ask for anything more?