Detox: Day 20

The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years. (Deepak Chopra).

Well folks, I’m on day 20 of the detox. The time has flown by! I can’t believe that it’s been nearly 3 weeks already. I’d like to fill you in on how I’ve been feeling, what I’ve been up to, some of the challenges I’ve faced so far and what’s next.

Why would I do this?

When I first began the detox/cleanse, I was groggy, tired ALL the time, no “get-up and go”. It sucked. Even the thought of walking to the bus stop in the mornings seemed daunting (moreso than usual). I knew that I needed to do something. Fast. So I decided to do a 28 day detox cleanse eliminating wheat, dairy, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol/drugs and processed foods from my diet. In exchange, I’d eat more veggies, fruits, brown rice, lean meats and lots of water and green and herbal teas.

The first few days, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts were a bit tough but once I got passed the first few initial adjustment days, I noticed that I had more energy, felt more focused and began to feel more motivated. Now that I’m on day 20, I feel even better! More invigorated, sleeping better (going to bed earlier and waking up earlier – even before my alarm!) and more active. I’m in a better mood (more often than not, unless I’m overtired or starving). I’m more focused at work; I find that I’m not as easily distracted by others around me or tempted to take breaks to read the news, check Facebook etc. (as often – I am human, after all!). What else? Oh, because I’m more active (running in the mornings and recently doing hot yoga), I’ve noticed my muffin tops are decreasing. Always exciting! Especially since I’ll be in a bathing suit in a few short weeks on the beaches of Fort Meyers. And, the other thing that I’m loving is the more FREE TIME! Because I’m not going out all the time anymore, I’m not hung over the next day. My weekends are free to spend time with friends, catch up on errands, housework, blogging, running, hot yoga, travelling, shopping, researching, you name it. It’s been great – very rejuvinating.

Having all of this free time meant that I could really indulge in things that I’ve been putting off, mainly, waking up earlier to go for a run in the mornings before work. Sounds horrible? Actually, at first, to be honest – yes…it was the worst. My body didn’t even know what the heck was going on but by the time I dragged myself out the door and onto that treadmill and finished my 20 minutes, I was just starting to wake up. The next time, it got easier. And easier. Before I knew it I was waking up before my alarm to go for a run! I had more energy throughout the day and slept like a log. I’ve now developed a love for running first thing in the morning! For anyone who knows me they know that the snooze button and I are joined at the hip, so this is huge! The other thing that I got back into, was hot yoga. I used to do it quite a bit about a year or so ago, but stopped going after my trip to India and when I got sick. BUT Goodlife Fitness had an incredible deal on Living Social: 5 classes for $15. YES PLEASE! I’ve been to two classes and I’m hooked! I’m considering buying a class pass when I get back from Florida. For me, it’s great – I sweat out all the toxins and stretch out muscles that are either cramped from sitting at a desk all day or tight calves/hamstrings/hip flexor/glute (I’m a mess) from running. I’ve also purchased a deal for spinning classes that I’ll be using post-Florida. PUMPED!

Other than exercising and sleeping better, I’ve been saving a lot of money. Not going out and eating out all the time have saved me a pretty penny. Instead, I go out during the day on the weekend. During the week, I’ve been going to concerts, meeting friends for tea, checking out comedy at the club around the corner from me, going to the movies, catching up on reading, catching up on tv and planning trips. Just because I’m not going out on Friday or Saturday night does not mean that my social life is on hold. If anything, I’ve been busier than ever! It’s all how you spend your time.

It really has made me think: How will this activity impact me?

This all sounds lovely, right? But let me tell you…these past 20 days have not been without their challenges. For instance, it was my mom’s birthday last weekend. You should have seen the look of shock, confusion, disapointment and more shock when I declined an alcoholic beverage at dinner and then declined a piece of cake for dessert. My parents reacted as though they were suddenly transported in some parallel universe. I wish we had more kids in our family to take the heat off of me not drinking and eating sugar. Yes, these are the main struggles in my life right now. First world problems, anyone?

Another challenge was passing up a $10 all-the-beer-you-can-drink-before-you-pass-out-or-vomit kegger tonight. Enough said.

But in all seriousness, initially it was tough to say “no” but once you make the decision to not partake, it’s all good. You feel at peace. It’s done and I’m not turning back. Nope? Nope.

And the thing is, I don’t want to undo 3 weeks of sacrifice and hard work just for what, a few minutes of a cheap thrill only to feel terrible shortly after.

The other challenges were planning. I am NOT a planner! I’m more of a procrastinator and spur of the moment type of gal. I had to be sure that I had food on hand at all times so that I wouldn’t be tempted to order pizza. I had to make sure that I had lunch ready for the next day, which  meant cooking enough at dinner for left overs the next day. Otherwise, I’d be at the mercy of the salad bar at work.

The last challenge I’ve faced was to stay motivated. Yes, I feel great but every so often, I’d get a whiff of someone’s delicious, juicy, mouthwatering burger at lunch and I’d think, “Screw it!” But then I’d talk myself back down off the ledge and remind myself that I’d feel foggy/tired from the wheat bun and feel sick from the saturated fat in the burger. Not worth it. But those days have been fewer and fewer as the detox has gone on.

So, what’s next? Well, 7 more days! My last official day is on St. Paddy’s day. I’ll be celebrating my proud Irish heritage with a few friends. I will probably definitely be tipsy after one sip of beer since by then it would have been a month without a drop of alcohol.

I’ve made the decision to only indulge in these kinds of things on special occasions: holidays, birthdays and special events (weddings, funerals – hey, I’m part Irish!). I’ve realized that I don’t miss going out all the time and that there are better ways that I can spend my time. A personal choice.

Also, I’ve been working hard at getting back into fitness and I don’t want to get off track with that. My new goal is to exercise at least 3 days a week and anything extra will be a bonus. I also have my new spinning classes to look forward to.

By now, I’m so used to eating healthy that I can’t see myself going back to bad habits that have somehow crept their way back in to my life. BUT the good news is that it’s always reversable. You can always regain control of your health and get back on track. Nobody’s perfect but I’m realizing that, like most things, it’s much easier to just keep doing the right things rather than trying to re-train yourself to get back into good habits.

Question for all of you: Have any of you considered making a change to better your health? If so, what is it and what steps could you take to do it?

Challenge: if you are craving one thing in particular (chocolate, bread, booze, dairy) go without it for 3 days.

Notice the following: How do you feel without it? How much  of it do you consume on a daily basis? What alternatives are there? What are some emotions that you feel when you crave it but can’t have it?

Detox: Day 5 and (starting) to feel more alive!

Well…it’s day five of the detox and I have to say that it felt nice to have a lot more energy on a Saturday. This winter, I really dragged my feet and spent a lot of time in front of the TV. Not good. No wonder those pounds crept on me. Anyways, I’m getting back on track with eating better and today, for the second day in a row, I went for a run. I know – craziness! But I’m determined to get into shape especially since I’ll be going to Florida at the end of March and I’ll probably be wearing a bathing suit for more than half the time (if all goes to plan, anyways).

My biggest downfall is that I get really super excited about something, jump in head first and bite off more than I can chew only to get burnt out before I see any real results and then quit. SO this time, I’m going to go a bit slower. At first, I wanted to run every day until March 22nd. That’s realistic, right? Talk about putting a lot of pressure on myself! I decided, after some more thought, that this is not a realistic goal. Instead, I will run 5 days a week (Sundays and Thursdays off) for at least 15 minutes each time. Eventually, I’ll be able to build up my time and speed but this is definitely a good start. Something is always better than nothing!

To reward myself after my newfound workouts, I make a berry smoothie with soy milk (I found this one – no sugar added and organic), coconut water, frozen mixed berries (berries have the lowest glycemic index, i.e. less sugar, than other fruits) and a quarter of an avocado (to thicken it up). Plus, the oil in the avocado help to absorb all of the nutrients in the other ingredients.

Not a fan of avocados? You could add a tablespoon of hemp oil or flax oil.

Tomorrow, I’m taking a break and hopefully I’ll be able to finish some of that housework that keeps staring at me….

Enjoy!

Detox: Day Four

What a week! I only had a three day work week but Heaven knows that it felt like at least a six day week compressed into three.  I think it was mainly because of the adjustment to the detox diet and the fact that I had four glorious days off – which meant lots of sleeping in and lounging about, then when that alarm goes off for work I had to snap back into reality and get with the program: work, errands, house work, obligations. Not complaining – but I’m glad it’s Friday!

One aspect of the detoxing that I really like is that it gives me the opportunity to just take a break and do things that I don’t normally get the opportunity to do (scratch that – allot myself the opportunity to do).  This weekend, for once in a long time, I don’t have any serious plans. No scheduled dinners or birthday parties, no events or trips out of town to make. I just get to be at home all weekend and hibernate if I want to. And I just might. I have a mountain of laundry that needs some attention and I need to organize and clean my room before I trip and break my neck. I also want to spend time to catch up on some reading that I haven’t had the energy to do lately. Mainly, I just want to catch up with myself.

But the detox does have its drawbacks. I don’t want to paint this super rosy picture that this week so far has been a breeze. Frankly, it’s been quite challenging. There’s nothing I wanted more, most mornings, than a nice cup of chai tea with soy milk. Or one of my roommates fresh (?) buns that taunt me when I open the fridge to grab some spinach for my stir fry (that I’ve had for dinner and lunch two days in a row). Or the overwhelming craving for a nice, cold, pint of beer after a long week. Instead, I came home, had a nap and went for a run. Then I rewarded myself with a spinach salad with some smoked salmon on top (the recipe is below). It was AMAZING and very satifsfying! Almost made me forget about that pint that I was so looking forward to. But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel: I’ll be finishing my detox in time to celebrate my Irish heritage on St. Paddy’s day and will hopefully be feeling a lot less sluggish and shed those few pounds that I gained over the last month. More importantly, I hope to have regained some better eating habits instead of resorting to pizza when I’m starving after work.

Here’s that spinach salad I was gloating about:

Spinach Salad with Spicy Smoked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 8-10 baby carrots (chopped)
  • 1 slice of red onion (chopped)
  • 2 handfuls of sprouts
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1/4 of lemon (juice)
  • 1 lime (juice)
  • Oregano
  • Salmon (sliced)
  • Olive oil (3 tbsps)
  • Chilli powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Black pepper (1/4 tsp)

Method:

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the spices once the oil is warm. Let the spices simmer for a minute then add the salmon. Let cook until the meat darkens. While this is cooking, grab a large bowl (you can either eat this as a meal or make it and share it with a friend).  Layer the spinach, carrots, onion, avocado and sprouts in the bowl. Squeeze the lemon slice and the lime over top of the salad. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top. Once the salmon has finished cooking, place the salmon on top of the salad and drizzle the spicy oil on the salad. Mix it all together, and voila!

Of course, you can add or replace whatever veggies you like but I found that this combination was very satisfying. Next time, I’d definitely add cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. If I weren’t detoxing, I’d add some goat cheese or feta, too. If you wanted to add some grains, you could always mix in some cooked quinoa. Why not? AND you could always replace the salmon with chicken (chopped up and fried in the same oil). Okay. I’ll stop and let you try this out for yourself.

Enjoy!

Detox: Always seems like a good idea at the time….

Well, I wish I had a good excuse for why I’ve been MIA the past couple of months, but I don’t. The holiday season was pretty crazy for me and my work load exploded. So between working lots and a full social calendar, I didn’t have much time to cook let alone blog. Then after Christmas, I had a few personal things to deal with and now, I’m back on track!

Since my eating habits needed a lot of fine tuning after one too many pizza nights and pitchers of beer, I recruited a friend of mine to do a detox diet with me for the next few weeks. What that means is: no dairy, no wheat, no refined sugar, no caffeine, no booze, and no smoking – basically, no junk!

It’s day 2 and I have to admit, it’s pretty tough so far. Temptations are everywhere! I was walking home from work tonight, starving, and I saw a massive poster for a large pizza for only $5. You have no idea how tempting that was. Or maybe you do. But I stayed focused and realized that quitting on day 2 is pretty lame, even for someone as inconsistent as me.

The secret of doing these kinds of diets is to plan ahead and make sure that you have enough of the right food on hand so that you don’t blow your diet and order a pizza (like I almost did) because you’re way too starving to even open the fridge. I’ve been there – it’s riduculous.

It’s amazing, too, how when you “deprive” yourself of certain things, it seems like that’s when you want it most. Today, for instance, was my first day back at work after four glorious days off and my eyes didn’t stop burning for one minute the entire day. Nope, not one single minute. All I wanted was a nice cup of chai tea or even a small cup of coffee to get the motor going but I’m not allowed. I ended up just sitting, staring blankly at my computer screen and imagining how delicious and satisfying a cup of coffee would be. Out of sheer will, I snapped out of it and got a cup of green tea and some water instead.  It only took about 5 cups of green tea before I sort of felt like myself again and by then, it was 4:30pm; almost time to go home. I think tomorrow will be better. It`s got to be. I’ve done these detox diets before and I always find that the first days are the hardest (mostly mentally).

For me, the hardest things to give up are drinking alcohol and dairy. To get through, I usually make a deal with myself that at the end of my detox, I’ll treat myself to a nice glass of red wine and some goat’s milk ice cream. Not both at the same time.

Anyways, today was pretty easy – for breakfast I had 2 eggs and some soy milk blended with strawberries; for lunch I had a MASSIVE spinach salad and for dinner, I had a delicious stir fry. I sent pictures to my friends who’s doing the detox with me and he was pretty jealous so I promised him that I’d blog about it. You’re welcome!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp (or to taste) Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Black Pepper
  • 1/3 Turmeric
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 cloves of garlic choped
  • 3 chicken skinless/boneless chicken thighs (breast would work too, that just sounds wrong)
  • Bean Sprouts (a handful)
  • 1/2 a tomato, diced
  • Spinach (a handful)
  • 1/2 a Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 a Floret of Broccoli
  • 1 cup of brown rice pasta or 2 servings of brown rice

Method:

In a large frying pan or skillet, pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat up. Once it’s heated, add the spices and stir them around so that they mix in with the oil.

Boil the water and cook the rice pasta or rice as directed.

Once the spices have heated up and are fragrant, add the diced onion. Stir it in the spiced oil and lit it simmer. Add the garlic and the diced tomato and stir. Let it cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and the lime and pour it in the pan.  Add the diced chicken and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the broccoli and the red bell pepper. Stir all the ingredients together and make sure that the chicken pieces are cooked on both sides.

When the chicken looks like it’s mostly cooked (should be brown and nearly crispy on the outside with no visible raw skin showing), add the sprouts and the  spinach and stir, mixing all the ingredients. The stir fry is done when the spinach and sprouts are limp and have mixed in with the other ingredients.

When the rice pasta or rice is finished cooking, add to the pan and stir.

This should serve 2 but I like to put some aside for lunch the next day.

Enjoy!

The Best Things In Life Are Free

This week, I tried something new; something that I haven’t done in a long time: Exercise. Up until my sickness reared it’s ugly head in March 2011 and  nearly immobilized me, I was jat least going to yoga 2 to 3 times a week to destress. But since then, I haven’t been doing much. Honestly, for the first few months, I really didn’t miss it and I couldn’t imagine having to exercise ever again. The thought of taking the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment made me sweaty and achey.

As time marched on, I began to feel better and  I began to take on more; and the more I was able to take on, the more stressed I was getting. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it? My temporary solution was beer, and the summer weather made that temptation greater.  But I started to find that my symptoms were slowly creeping back in. And it wasn’t just beer that was the culprit, but the snacky foods that went along with it. And then I found that I was cheating more and more – a piece of chocolate here, some chips there…before you know it, I’m feeling lethargic, sinusy, stressed and just not my energetic self.

Then – the wake-up call happened: I weighed myself. To my disbelief, I had gained 5 pounds. I honestly thought that the scale was broken, so I shook it, played with the settings and then stepped back on. Nope. Not broken. I did a mental playback of the past summer and realized how my diet has slowly deteriorated. It’s no wonder I’ve gained some weight!

Being the calm, cool and collect person that I am, I ran to Shoppers Drugmart at 9pm and scoured the shelves for some sort of detox formula. $25.00 later, I bought this liver flush from BodyLogix. It’s an all herbal formula and really, I only needed 3 tablets for one night. Not bad!

The next thing I did was cut out all sugar, alcohol, soy and wheat since I had been overdoing it with thesee items. I also increased my water intake to flush out all the toxins that had built up in my body. Over the next couple of days, I felt like I was coming down with something; I had a sore throat, my sinuses were sensitive and I felt feverish. I realized that I wasn’t catching something, but it was my body’s reaction to the detox. Crazy! Mind you, it was NOTHING like the initial detox I went through in the spring, but still…after only 2 months of not eating so well, I couldn’t believe that I had that kind of reaction. Scary!

So that was a nice wake-up call to not take my health for granted. But don’t worry, I’m back on track!

The other thing that I started doing, was running. I went for my first jog last Monday. The last time I had gone was probably in November of 2010 in a meagre attempt to lose some weight for my trip to India – not very successful. I tried not to overdo it, but once I got going, I really enjoyed it and actually missed it. I ran for about 30 minutes and made sure I stretched as much as possible afterwards. It all seemed for naught because the next day, I could barely move! Every movement was  a production and I couldn’t imagine ever running again!

My snazzy runners

Wednesday, was much of the same. When I came into work, I saw a sign on our elevator saying “Donate to the Shelter Foundation to Ride the Elevator!”. Being the decent person that I am, I thought: “Are you kidding me?! I can barely walk, let alone walk up 50 stairs to my desk!” Plus, Ididn’t have any spare change, otherwise I totally would have donated. It turned out that walking up stairs was the best and the worst thing that I decided to do that day.

Eventually, after the burning in my thighs subsided and my lungs no longer felt like they might burst, I realized just how out shape I am and that spurred me to challenge myself to take the stairs for 30 days, correction: 30 work days. Ya. Well, to clarify, I mean the stairs at work – I can’t always take the stairs at home because sometimes I have way too many groceries and I would likely injure myself. I have a nightmare of falling backwards on the stairs carrying toilet paper and bottles of water. I don’t think that would look very good when and if someone were to find me.

I’m on day 5 of the stair challenge and I’m happy to say, that my lungs don’t feel like they are going to explode! I’m still really out of breath by the time I get to my desk, but I just try to go to my happy place – the kitchen, to fill up on tea and water and hope that no one comes in to hear me panting like a furry dog on a hot July day.

The point of this story – there’s a point? Is that I’m realizing how beneficial exercise is. You won’t lose weight just by exercise, diet is key, however, with my recent exercising adventures, I find that it has really helped me manage my stress, given me more energy throughout the day and improved my quality of sleep. Not too bad! And the best part? It’s free!

My advice is to find an activity you enjoy or even love. Gyms are overrated so if you hate the gym, don’t go! Join a team, go for walks, start jogging, go swimming, try yoga, learn to dance, climb stairs in your building, dance in your bedroom for half an hour…the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy!