Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Goals Wednesday - Birthday Edition

All right, everyone, I'm back. You probably remember from my last entry that I was feeling overwhelmed and depressed, so I took a break from the blogosphere. Time for a triumphant return--you'll be glad to know I haven't been slacking on exercise, although I have been slacking on weighing myself. 

However, I was able to fit into a size eight at Banana Republic! I was a size 14 when I started this blog. The pants/jeans I ended up getting are a size ten, not because the eights didn't look fantastic (not to mention felt fantastic), but because the cut wasn't quite what I was looking for. If I'm buying one expensive pair of pants from Banana Republic so I have something that doesn't fall off my body, you best believe that they will be skinny, so I can wear them with boots. The skinny jeans were a little slimmer all over, as they tend to be, and I think I'm mostly a size ten anyways--that's also the size I wore in a fabulous Calvin Klein cocktail dress I tried on (but it was too small in the chest). 

Anyway. Today is my 25th birthday! I'm celebrating by taking today, tomorrow & Friday off work in order to relax and gear up for the holiday season. Saturday I'm going to Friendsgiving, a pre-Thanksgiving event with some dear friends, so I'm testing out a new vegan pumpkin recipe that I made up. I wrote down what I did, so I can actually duplicate it, which is something I desperately need to do with my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe. I do love pie. 

So, what are my goals? Well, obviously, get back on the horse and start blogging with better frequency. Make it through the holidays without gaining all the weight back! Try to enjoy the holiday season and remember all the things I have to be thankful for. So, nothing too difficult, right? It's been such a rough year, and I'd like these last parts to be full of celebration and thanks and no more disasters. My mom's surgery is on Monday, so let's all think positive thoughts for that, shall we? 

Meanwhile, wish me good luck with that pie. I'm about to take it out of the oven. If it's any good, I'll post the recipe!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goals Wednesday

It is the first Goals Wednesday of November! I will be 25 two weeks from today! Hopefully that will be a good age for me - 24 has not been so great. 

This Goals Wednesday, I'm celebrating my accomplishments! The juice fast is such a huge thing that I wanted to do and was able to complete, and I haven't had a lot of that happening this year. I needed a win. Today, I had another win - I ran two miles! The last time I went for a two mile run was the day that my gallbladder attack happened. One minute, you're running, feeling a little nauseated, and then a few hours later, boom! You're in the ER getting a CT scan and then being told your gallbladder needs to be removed. 

Adam and I have been doing the Couch to 5K program, and last night I felt it was rather easy for me. Today, I'd been feeling stressed & restless all day. It was so nice out when I got home, and I knew the rain was coming (and now it's here), so I decided to make the most of it and go for a run. It helped calm me down and get my mind off some of the stress of this week. 

I found out yesterday that my mother has melanoma. This news has me feeling a million different and often conflicting emotions, to the point where my initial reaction was one of numbness. This comes on the heels of worries about a very close friend going through some medical uncertainty, and recent concerns about Adam's dad, who had a heart attack and double bypass surgery earlier this year. Another one of my closest friends is going through a break-up. It seems that while I am on the road back to wellness, many of those around me may be in some trouble. 

So, my goal for this week is just to be there for those in need. Lend a sympathetic ear, and try not to be my usual awkward self around other people's tragedies. That is the least I can do for others - for myself, I need to just breathe and be through all of this. I plan on focusing on the transition back to regular eating and more rigorous exercise - this is all about re-establishing a routine, which is a comforting idea in a time of so much ambiguity. 

Juice Fast: The Review

Here it is, at long last: I've made it through the juice fast/reboot and the transition back to food, and I'm here to tell you the tale. It's given me a sense of accomplishment I haven't had since I was running on a regular basis, and it's great to have that back!

I've had a lot of people ask me questions and/or express interest in doing something like this themselves--this entry will attempt to answer all those questions, in my charming, rambling way. 

The first big question, is, of course, would I do it again? Absolutely! I probably would do a modified reboot that did involve eating some of my fruits & vegetables as well, or maybe just five days of juicing only, as opposed to ten. I'm really glad that I did this once and got through the full ten days, but, unless I have another health crisis or relation-to-food crisis or something similar, I think I would stick with the reboot plans that still let me eat some solids. 

Let's address the juicer. There are a lot of different juicers out there, and most of them are pretty expensive. Adam and I went with this one:

It's cheap, well-reviewed, and so far, it's been a champ! It is a centrifugal juicer, and, from what I gather, this means it isn't quite as good for juicing leafy greens. I will say that I tended to get more juice out of kale, chard, beet greens, etc. when I chopped them into smaller pieces. However, one big advantage of this juicer is the big mouth - leafy greens notwithstanding, minimal prep was involved to make the veggies small enough to fit in the juicer. 

That's one thing you notice pretty immediately when doing a juice fast, or even subbing juice for a meal or two - you suddenly have much more time on your hands. Prepping produce, making juice, and cleaning the juicer all takes much less time it takes to make your average meal, or even pick up your average take-out meal. For the first few days, you're going to be a little lazier, and therefore probably not doing much that's productive with that extra time, but hey, you can catch up on your television while drinking some juice. It's odd to be drinking your meals. One of the most difficult aspects of the fast, for me, was missing the sensation of eating, especially in the cold. Nothing turns you off chilly juice like a cold, rainy day - you just want some hot food, and maybe some coffee! But, I had to make do with tea. Lots and lots of tea. Also vegetable broth, once. 

What I didn't suffer too much from was hunger. Don't get me wrong, on days 3 & 4, I did get hungry from time to time, and I felt a little weak and crappy--natural when your body is detoxing and switching to alternate sources of fuel. But as soon as I felt hunger, it could easily be resolved by having a little juice and a glass of water. Some people seemed to be under the perception that the juicing-only part of any reboot plan is tantamount to starvation, and that's just not so. This recipe for carrot-apple-ginger juice, one of the lighter recipes I've seen, is still 233 calories. This recipe for Peachy Green juice, on the other hand, contains 384 calories. Most plans I've seen recommend you drink juice 3-5 times per day, which means you're still taking in a good amount of calories. Most likely less than you're used to, but juicing does not equal starving yourself. Take a look at the recipes I linked to, and others with nutrition facts - you're still getting protein and all the nutrients you'd need. You are getting less fiber, obviously, but that is part of the point. You're supposed to be giving your digestive system a break. 

As I mentioned in update #7, I did not have the digestive fireworks most people describe having in the first few days of the fast. Other "cleanse" programs (most of which are essentially starvation, and therefore not cool in my book) talk about cleaning out your colon, getting rid of the sludge, etc., and I've seen a good bit of that when reading about juice fasting/rebooting. Adam and I did not experience this particular side effect. Why that is, I'm not sure. Our normally high-fiber, low fat diet? Lack of processed foods? It's difficult to say without consulting an expert, which I would rather not do, for obvious reasons. 

We did, however, lose some weight. Not a lot of weight - 5-6 pounds each, if you check the weight log. Weight loss is the goal for a lot of people, but it wasn't my primary goal--although I am glad to be back in the normal BMI range, and I'm hoping to stay there as my body rebounds from the fasting period. My primary goal was to redefine my relationship with food, and with my body. You see, I love food, which is more than I've been able to say about my body this year. As all of you probably know (if you've read anything else on this blog, or have talked with me in the past year), my body has failed me in a lot of ways as of late. One of the hardest parts has been the cold/pneumonia/respiratory infection. Not being able to smell or really taste your food combined with constant doses of antibiotics, steroids, and cold medicine will leave you utterly without appetite or enjoyment for food. I've been better for a while now, but the month-long stint of illness messed with my body and how it relates to food. I wasn't eating when I was hungry or even craving food, I was eating when I forced myself to, because I felt like I should be eating. That's not what food should be. Food should be enjoyable, nourishing, or, at the very least, a social binder. 

So far as redefining my relationship with food, this juice fast was a resounding success. As I mentioned yesterday, I was more than eager to be around food, even though I wasn't eating much of it. As I get back into eating, I'm enjoying my food, eating smaller portions, and feeling the nourishment. I am having a little trouble getting back onto an eating schedule, but I'm confident that will come with time - it probably didn't help that I was just starting to eat food again on Halloween. But I've been pretty proud of my eating habits thus far, and feeling much more in tune with my body where food is concerned. 

I was hoping that the juicing would help my skin. After never having a skin problem before in my life, I've been prone to breakouts for the past 15 months or so, which has been a real pain. After trying a million different (eco-friendly, non-toxic) products, I think I've got a routine that keeps most of it under control, but I didn't see much of a difference when juicing. I feel like I look a little healthier now than I have, but I suspect most of that is due to other factors. 

One of the biggest unexpected benefits of doing the juice fast has been the sleep. I imagine part of this is due to the fact that caffeine is a no-no while juicing, but it felt like more than that. I got tired faster, slept better, and woke up filled with much more energy. I would be sleepy when the alarm went off, like we all are, but as soon as I was up & out of bed, I felt fully awake. Normally, I may not feel fully awake until I've already been at work for a few hours - I'll spend that morning time just feeling fuzzy. It's nice to wake up and actually be energized and ready to tackle the day. 

The energy did translate into me wanting to exercise, but Adam wasn't feeling up to keeping up with the Couch to 5K during the fast, so we went on a lot of walks, but we're now back to the plan - you can keep up with that over at the fitness log

In fact, a friend asked me how I did at work during the fast, energy-wise, and if the juicing affected my ability to work. I did great! I shattered a previously held productivity record (previously held by me, so it was my own record) by a good portion. I won't lie and say that it's all great; I scheduled the fast when I did (starting on a Thursday) so that days 3 and 4, which were the roughest, would fall on a weekend. It was also helpful that one of my co-workers agreed to participate in the fast with me, so I had moral support right there at work. Literally right there (she sits next to me). Having a great support system at work, at home, and of course through my online community really helped me get through the temptations and tougher times during the fast. I couldn't have done it without you all! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post Juice Fast

Well hello! I took a little blogging break over the weekend/Halloween, but now I'm back, ready to share my thoughts on the end of my ten-day juice fast. 

Saturday (day 10) was a little rough. I knew the food was close, and so I just did what I could to stay busy and get through the day quickly. As a result, I rather feel like I didn't have much of a weekend, but that happens sometimes. I made it through! Sunday morning I was at New Seasons shortly after they opened, armed with a list and ready to shop. I suggest having a list if you haven't eaten solid food in ten days, lest you end up buying entire the store. I just wanted to be around food, really. 

To break my fast, I made a platter with fresh black mission figs, valencia almonds, a fuji apple, hummus, and pita. I also made myself a mimosa, as a little treat. I vastly overestimated the amount of food I could eat in one sitting! I was snacking on that plate and sipping on that mimosa for hours. It was great just to have the sensation of eating again, though, and I'm glad I chose some foods with varied textures and flavors. 

Most suggestions I've seen for transitioning back into solid foods have you eat vegan for a few days. For dinner, I made a broccoli white bean soup, which was vegan (except for the shaved parmesan garnish, which I did not have), and an upgraded caesar salad, which is not vegan, but I wasn't eating that. I made that for my darling husband Adam, who loves caesar salad. This fancy version used chard instead of romaine and was topped with a poached egg. I'd never tried to poach eggs before, but they turned out well! It turns out I can cook, when I put my mind to it. We had everything with some delicious homemade bread that was gifted to us, which I did partake in, despite the fact that both the bread and the butter I put on it were not vegan. 

I also made one of our fall/winter favorites - molasses crinkles, vegan-style. Since they are a depression-era recipe (courtesy of Betty Crocker), they use shortening instead of butter. The only non-vegan ingredient was the egg, but I use applesauce instead. The effect is so delicious, I prefer them to the non-vegan version. 

Yesterday, being Halloween, meant lots of treats were about. I ate more cookies than I'd care to admit to, but a minimal amount of candy, none of it from my home stash - quite impressive, considering we had zero trick-or-treaters! I've got plenty of candy and will honor trick-or-treaters all week. 

Luckily, the scale was not too much of a foe today - 0.7 lbs up, but that's to be expected during a transition back to solid foods. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at the juice fast - why I did it and what I liked, what I didn't, and what I accomplished, posted tomorrow. If you have any questions for an FAQ section, please shoot them my way and I will include them in the upcoming post!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #8

Well well well, we are reaching towards the end of Day 9, people! 

Fridays tend to be a bit hectic for me - because I only work a half day, I tend to schedule all my errands and shopping on Fridays (it helps that every other Friday is a payday), so sometimes I end up feeling stressed at work in anticipation of the day ahead. Luckily, today was fairly relaxed. After work I cleaned, made more juice, went through old issues of Whole Living and cut out recipes, watched part of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, put a rent check in the mail, and ran my out-of-house-errand - going to Every Day Wine

About ten days ago, Beth, the lovely proprietor of the fine establishment that is Every Day Wine, sent out an e-mail about the monthly wine club. For those of you are local and may be interested, I highly suggest signing up for this - there's no commitment, you pay when you pick up, and you get two bottles of wine. She usually keeps the price point well under $35. 

This is my first month actually in the club, and I've been very excited about it. But I've been avoiding going to pick it up, because there is always delicious wine there, and people bring food as well. Now that I'm nearing the end of my fast, I figured my resolve would be a little stronger. I also went well before the beginning of the Friday tasting (it started at 5). 

Well. I ended up grabbing eight bottles of wine. That is the most I've ever purchased at one time. Two for the club, three bottles of a lambrusco that was a big hit during the holidays last year, a bottle of prosecco, and two bottles of an excellent ripasso I had in that wine class a while back. All worth it, but, a little more difficult than I had anticipated. 

Adam wanted some wine with dinner. I told him not to open the wines from the club, as I wanted us to try them together (they are a tempranillo and a malbec, if you were curious). He decided to open a bottle of ripasso - an excellent choice for his small evening meal of olives and hummus with tortilla. I had to help him open it. Smell it. Listen to him taste it & describe it, talk about the interaction of flavors between the wine and the food. 

It doesn't help that I've been looking at delicious recipes all day (many of them vegan and vegetarian - I was looking for inspiration for what to eat when breaking my fast). It's been a little rough to keep my resolve. I feel great, and I'm reminding myself of what a great accomplishment it is to make it this far, and how I'd feel if I didn't make it that extra day. So I'm soldiering on. 

It's not cheating to just smell the wine, right?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #7

Well, Day 8 didn't have the greatest start. I overslept. Not a big deal, it's not like I get in some huge amount of trouble or anything, I just end up super pissed at myself. It's not a good feeling when you wake up only to realize it's 6:40 and you were supposed to be to work at 6. Yup. I was an hour and a half late, which means I had to stay an hour and a half later. No fun for me. 

Normally I end up passing out early on Thursdays - I'll admit to staying up too late on weeknights recently, and it catches up with me at some point, and I sleep and sleep. But, for the past two weeks, it's been Wednesday when my body spontaneously decides to catch up on its much-needed sleep. Clearly, I need to address this on a Goals Wednesday sometime soon - this is not a sustainable choice that I've been making. 

But, back to the juicing. Today has been good, despite the rough start. I finished out the juice I had at work, I need to make just one large cup tonight for tomorrow, since I'll only be at work for four hours. It's much better to have the juice fresh - it tastes better, it is allegedly better for you - but that's not really feasible during the work day. I'm really proud that I haven't had to buy any juices at the store, like Naked or Odwalla--I've been really good about making sure I'm stocked with juice at work. 

Also, as of today - check it out - I am down twenty pounds from my start weight in August! That's pretty awesome! I've lost about six pounds on the fast itself - I expect to gain some of that weight back, but if I can keep off any of this weight loss over the holidays, I'll consider it a win.

Now I'm going to warn you not to read any further if you don't want TMI. Consider yourself warned. 

You sure?

Okay. So, I've been pretty constipated throughout this juice fast. I had only made one bowel movement the entire time. I find that to be incredible, considering that I read all sort of stories along the lines of "And there was disgusting muck shooting out of me hourly for three days! I lost eight pounds!" There is also the rather graphic description available on this episode of This American Life (act 2). 

I had read in some forums on Join The Reboot and in my Facebook group for Rebooters that three things could help me get things moving:

  • Drink water. Check. I've been drinking hilarious amounts of water.
  • Juice some papaya. I put it in my breakfast juice yesterday morning. I put quite a lot, actually. When, by yesterday evening, I still had no results, I went to...
  • Drink Senna tea. Senna leaf is a natural laxative, often used in teas or other infusions. I had some yesterday evening. 

Still, no success! Until I got home from work today, and finally, I produced something. I still don't get the feeling that my colon is clean as a whistle, but I feel much better. Adam & I were talking about how we hadn't had that "cleaning out" effect so many other people described - even V, who is drinking the exact same juice we are, since I make it for all of us. Adam suspects it's due to our normal diets, especially our lack of meat consumption. I suppose he might be right. We can speculate, but who knows. I'm just glad that something finally worked for me, because I was starting to get very concerned for my poor colon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #6/Goals Wednesday

Well look at this, we're closing in on the end of day 7! To be honest, I've been craving some food today. You know what makes me want to eat & drink the most? The cold. It's been so cold today. It was freezing in my office all day, and it's freezing at home. Seriously. I'm wearing two sweaters and two pairs of socks and I'm still chilly. I had been hoping not to turn the heat on until November, but I may have to break with that idea because I can't stand the cold much longer!

To cope with the overbearing chilliness, I downed some serious tea today. I had both a lemon-ginger herbal tea and a roobis-hibiscus (among other things) tea; both non-caffeinated. I've had more juice today, although it's difficult to have cold juice when you're cold all the time. I can't imagine how people can do these reboots in the dead of winter. I'm tempted to make some juice that might taste good warm, although I know the point of the reboot is to be eating raw fruits & vegetables. 

Okay, I turned the heat on. My fingers were getting too chilly just typing this. 

Where were we? Oh yes, time for goals! This week it's fairly easy:

1) Finish out the juice fast
2) Resume food journaling when I resume eating solid foods. I would've done it sooner, but it seems pointless to try and keep track of all the juice. 
3) Look into personal trainers, and if there are any out there I can afford. I caught an episode of I Used to Be Fat for the first time last night, and it really made me want to work with a personal trainer. I definitely couldn't afford to do it indefinitely, but maybe a few sessions, just to learn some tips & tricks. I'd like to get back into some strength training anyway. 

And that's it for now!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #5

It almost the end of Day 6 and we're still going strong!

In the end, Adam decided to go ahead with our tentative plan to eat a small meal at night and still juice during the day - I'm still doing all juice, all the time, as is V. One of our co-workers came by to taunt us not once but twice with stories of his burrito from Laughing Planet that he had for lunch. This is particularly cruel, as I've really been wanting to go there - I love Laughing Planet, and one just opened by my work! Oh, well. Next week. 

Today seemed easier than yesterday. I feel like I can make it the last four days. At least, that's how I feel right now. I can't thank all of you who read and comment and give me words of support - I'm sure I wouldn't have made it this long without all of you! It's also great that I have support at work and at home, although, now that Adam is eating in the evenings, that dynamic has changed a bit. Still, he is very supportive, unlike certain little sisters who have taunted me with chocolate. 

I've checked out a few other blogs related to juicing, and many of them like to post recipes. I don't really use recipes or make them - I kind of chop up a bunch of stuff and toss it in the juicer until it tastes good. If it doesn't taste good, some apple, ginger, and lemon will fix that! 

Adam made us a delectable treat the other day though - he juiced pineapple and mixed it with coconut juice and a dash of orange bitters. It was a sweet treat that felt and tasted like a regular beverage and not the thick juice we're usually consuming. We've also both been very fond of drinking coconut juice mixed with water and some lemon juice. While I like coconut juice/water (whatever you want to call it), sometimes there is something in the flavor that I can't quite pinpoint, but I don't like. When you water it down and add the lemon, you get the lemon up front and coconut in the aftertaste, which is basically perfect. 

I did just make a juice for tomorrow morning - it was a little more fruit intensive then I generally go (the pineapple & coconut juice concoction notwithstanding), but I felt like it would be a good way to start day 7. It's got papaya, cantaloupe, cranberries, kale, apples, and a big helping of ginger. The papaya, when raw, is a little bitter, but it makes a delightfully thick juice. 

I also have to say that butternut squash makes excellent juice, just on its own. I can't think of many things I don't love about squash - the fact that so many kinds are in season right now, they keep forever, and they produce a lot of juice, I'm pretty happy with all the squash I've been consuming. 

Those of who read this and juice - what are some of your favorite combinations? I'd hate to get stuck in a rut these last few days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #4

Well folks, day 5 is drawing to a close. Sometime yesterday in the late afternoon/early evening, Adam and I had a bit of a turning point where we both started to feel better. I went to the Tao of Tea with a dear friend who is leaving for Spain on Wednesday and spent a couple hours with a pot of verveine tea (no caffeine!) that was quite pleasant. 

Today was easier. A ten hour work day certainly keeps you distracted from food cravings. It gets less easy when you come home and your sister is devouring a large chocolate bar on your couch, but I've managed. 

The best part probably came when I got on the ol' Wii Fit to do my weigh-in this evening - guess who has a BMI in the normal range for the first time in...well...probably 6 years?! This lady! Adam is also dropping weight - you can check out the Weight & Measurements doc for more specifics. 

We are considering adapting the rest of our fast and allowing for small bits of strictly vegan food in the evenings. Truth be told, the weight loss is so encouraging that it may help me get through the last half of the fast - but, we shall see. I've been dreaming of the valencia almonds I plan to have to break my fast for quite some time now. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #3

We are just over halfway through Day 4, and not doing so well. I started out feeling good today, then Adam and I went on a 38 minute walk--a walk that went by various restaurants. My sense of smell has definitely been heightened on the juice fast. When we got back, I felt hungry and a little light-headed. I'm sipping on some juice and water w/ coconut juice & lemon and feeling a little better. 

Adam turned on the TV to watch some NFL, and I had to have him turn it off, because watching football makes me want to eat like you wouldn't believe. The food cravings have really started to hit for me - I really want something starchy and hot and delicious. Adam can tell that I'm nearing a breaking point and more or less trying to push me over, so we'll see how it goes from here on out. 

In better news, Adam lost just over 3lbs since the fast started. We'll be weighing ourselves again in a few hours, but that's very encouraging!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #2

We just got back from The Pumpkin Patch, and, as promised, here is a picture of our bounty:

Our total came to $37.29. For that we got:

  • 17 apples of various varieties (Gala, Jonagold, and Fuji)
  • 5 pears
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 10 lbs beets
  • 1 giant zucchini
  • 1 very large banana squash
  • 3 delicata squash
  • 1 other squash whose name I cannot remember
  • 2 bunches kohlrabi 
  • 5 large roma tomatoes
  • 2 eggplant

Not bad, right?! I'm pretty excited about it myself. It's about 18 miles each way to get out there, so we're using just over a gallon of gas. The extra expenditure there is definitely worth the cheaper prices -- buying the exact same produce at New Seasons, while three blocks away, would've been over $100.00. 

We're now just over halfway through day 3, and I'm still doing pretty well. Adam & I went running this morning, but it ended up being just me doing the running portion. Adam states he was too weak and didn't have the energy to run. He did walk the whole thing, so I would run back to him and then do the walking portions with him. We struck a deal wherein we will do week 2 of the Couch to 5K over once we've finished the fast, but between today and next Saturday, we need to go on at least five walks. Just to keep us both out there. 

I'm hoping Adam can make it through the fast - he put cheese curds in the cart while we were shopping, he texts me different foods that he's craving constantly, and when we're both home, he whines quite a bit. I'm not going to pretend that doing this is super easy, or that I don't get hungry and/or crave food, but I've been able to get through it without too much difficulty. Dragging another person through it is another story, and it may wear me down much faster. 

For some reason, it seems to be more difficult for Adam - he's complained of headaches and other maladies. I think a lot of it has to do with hydration, but it's also difficult to get him to drink enough water. I can't stress enough how important drinking the water is - it settles your stomach and keeps you (or at least me) from getting lightheaded. 

One thing that has helped us feel more full is having a smoothie. While these aren't technically part of the juicing programs over at, we're thinking that incorporating them should be fine. The other alteration I've done is allowing non-caffeinated tea while on the fast. It really helps when I'm craving something warm. But, back to the smoothies! Last night and this morning (especially after the run), we made smoothies with bananas, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, baby kiwifruit & coconut juice. They are tasty and quite filling. 

I hope to do another update tomorrow, and I'm hoping Adam will be feeling better tomorrow too. I think he's going through quite a few things - caffeine withdrawal, dehydration, his stomach shrinking quite slowly - that is affecting his sense of well-being. If he starts feeling better and seeing some results, that may give him the will to keep going. I've challenged him to at least give it 5 days. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Juice Fast: Update #1

We're just over halfway through Day 2 of the juice fast! So far, I'm feeling surprisingly great. We'll see if that continues -- some of what I've seen & read indicates that days 3-4 may be the most difficult. My partners in juicing, Adam and my co-worker (hereafter referred to as V), did not fare so well yesterday. I suspect it was a dehydration issue, as I was downing water all day and felt fine, multiple trips to the restroom due to a smallish bladder notwithstanding. 

There are certainly some logistical things to consider here. For example, juice transport. I have a couple lovely glass pitchers with lids that are great for keeping juice in the fridge--they are those squarish pitchers that fit perfectly in your refrigerator door. Unfortunately, they don't work so well for juice transport. I got juice with beets in it on the floor of the bus, and Adam reports he spilt a little in his co-worker's car. But, I realized the solution! Behold:

That lovely bluish bottle there is glass (I prefer not to use plastic, if possible) and seals at the top. I bought these to use in Christmas gifts, so you'll just have to wonder until then (don't worry, I will thoroughly wash and sterilize the bottles). If you like the bottle and want your very own, here's the link to where I purchased them:

As a bonus, these guys fit perfectly in my reusable wine bags. These are essentially your regular reusable grocery bags, only with dividers to hold wine. Yes, I have reusable wine bags (sometimes called "Booze Bags," if I take them to the liquor store). Yes, I have more than one. Yes, they were given to me, free of charge, by merchants from whom I was buying multiple bottles of wine. DON'T JUDGE. 

Moving on. While I don't always like to use plastic, I did find these lovely tumblers to use, and I know I've posted them before. But seriously, they are pretty great:

The straw makes it easy to stir up separated juice. They also sell these at Fred Meyer; V came in to work the other day and said "look what I got for juice!" and lo and behold, it was the same thing (in a different color) that I had. It's working out very well for all three of us thus far. 

When I'm at home, though, I prefer to drink the juice out of one of my fancy juice glasses:

Looks like I grabbed the one with the tiny chip in it. Oh well, I still love you, Fancy Juice Glasses. 

So, that's pretty much it so far: we're juicing along. Later today I plan on going up to the store and getting some bananas and berries and possibly more melon to make smoothies in the morning (all fruit smoothies, obviously--no yogurt or anything). I'm also thinking about getting some coconut water to add to smoothies/juice. Adam has been mixing his juice with water, to help him take in more water. 

I did have a cup of non-caffeinated tea yesterday, which is excellent when I want something warm. I also bought some Pellegrino, because sometimes I really crave carbonation. 

Tonight we're going for a run, so we'll see how our energy levels are on the juice. I've been feeling pretty good, but I haven't tried anything super active yet, so we'll have to see how it goes. Tomorrow we go back to Sauvie Island for more cheap produce! I'll post pictures of the haul and how much it cost when we get back. 

Finally, if you're interested, here is a list of all the things I've put in our juices thus far:

  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • acorn squash
  • other random squash
  • beets (and beet greens)
  • kohlrabi (and kohlrabi greens)
  • apples
  • pears
  • grapes
  • watermelon
  • pineapple
  • strawberries (I thawed them from our frozen stores we picked back in June)
  • kale
  • ginger
  • oranges
  • lemons
  • limes
  • rutabaga

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Article Review

I read this article in the Washington Post on Sunday and I knew I had to share it. 

The article focuses on a series of reforms implemented at the Cleveland Clinic, which employs about 40,000 people, making it the largest employer in Ohio. They've managed to do an amazing thing: reduce health-care costs for their employees. 

I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with the rising cost of health care - as much as I'd like to complain about my premiums, my health care provider has paid about $74,000 in medical costs this year, leaving me with under $1,000 to pay out of pocket. I'm pretty sure I've just covered the premiums for the rest of my life, more or less. While things like broken arms are not easy to anticipate, the Cleveland Clinic looked at a rather startling statistic from the CDC - according to the article
70 percent of all medical costs are related to smoking, physical inactivity, food choices and portion size, or stress. Cut smoking, increase physical activity, persuade people to make better dietary decisions, and help them manage their stress, and you can reduce health-care costs before an employee ever steps into a hospital.
That's kind of amazing, if you think about it. Seventy percent. That means things like Adam's $45,000 broken arm aren't included in that seventy percent. You could assign most of that seventy percent to poor personal choices. 

So, how did the Cleveland Clinic change some of those choices? By giving their employees less of a choice. They offered free tobacco-cessation programs, free fitness classes, and free stress management classes. They took every deep fryer and sugary drink off the campus. They also raised insurance premiums for employees, then offered them an incentive - if they agreed to participate in healthy initiatives, they didn't have to pay the new rates. 
That left enforcement. The clinic tracks its employees’ blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, weight and smoking habits. If any of these are what the clinic calls “abnormal,” a doctor must certify that the employee is taking steps to get them under control. Otherwise, no insurance rebate. The idea is to force employees to have regular conversations with their doctors about wellness. If they participate, they can lock in the rates they were paying two years ago. The savings amount to many thousands of dollars.
Not only are the employees paying less, but the employers are also paying less. That's pretty amazing. But it also raises a lot of questions: Would this program still be cost-effective at a business that didn't have cheaper access to things like blood sugar tests? Is the labor force at large willing to accept these restrictions on their personal lives from their employer? Could this be applied to Medicare and Medicaid or even a future public option? Are people willing to have their choices restricted? 

What I like about the program is that, other than smoking, nobody got fired for not participating in the reforms. They simply had to pay more. Monetary incentives are pretty successful when you're trying to get people to change habits, but I imagine you could find more than a handful of employees who were not happy about the changes at work. 

Personally, I would love to see my employer do more to encourage a healthy lifestyle. My current building used to have a gym available to employees, but it got shut down. We've asked to use another room to exercise in if employees brought in their own equipment, but that was denied too (probably for insurance reasons). Our HR web site doesn't have much in the way of promoting a healthy lifestyle. This is surprising to me, given that my company is one of the largest employers in the country. Those of us who are bargained employees enjoy low premiums and great health care, and I imagine some of these initiatives would save the company a lot of money. While I'd be all for it, I can see the other side of the argument as well. What do you think - would you be okay with this much interference in your life from your employer?

Goals Wednesday - Juice Fast

It's that time again! I'm very excited to announce that tomorrow, at long last, Adam & I are starting our juice fast. Anybody who would care to join us--or just have more juice in their life--I will be blogging more frequently throughout the fast, I've finally started updating the blog's twitter (@mersereaux), and if you're friends with me on Facebook, expect lots of status updates. You can also find me on Reboot Your Life, username is rahnia. 

Adam and I are aiming for a 10 day juice fast. I am allowing non-caffeinated tea whilst on the fast, although a strict fast is just juice and water. Speaking of no caffeine, I got sentimental and took a picture of my last pre-fast coffee this morning:

That's a tall double soy latte, if you were curious.
Sigh. This juice fast comes as I'm one star away from earning a Starbucks Gold Card! Maybe I'll stop in and get some non-caffeinated tea sometime. Or, you know, just wait until the 10 days are up.

Most of the programs on Reboot Your Life have you eat as well as blend, or do a 15 day program. I am considering doing 5 days after the actual fast of a vegan diet - just fruits, veggies, nuts and grains. But, if I'm really craving something at the end of 10 days, I'm not going to say no to myself - I'll be extremely proud if we can make it the 10 days. For some extra motivation, one of my co-workers is doing it with me - I'm making the juice and bringing it in. I'm excited to experiment with new juices, and if anybody reading this juices and has some favorite recipes, please let me know! I've seen some awesome ideas around the web, like adding coconut water to some of the juices. Sometimes Adam and I will add a little processed, store-bought juice (like Knudsen's or Martinelli's) to thin out the juice we made just a little bit. I also find that ginger root and lemon or lime is a must in almost all juices! I'm thinking of experimenting with some fresh herbs as well. 

Since it's fall, I'll be juicing a lot of squash and root vegetables. I love beets, carrots, eggplant, and almost any squash in my juice, so that's very exciting. While I already posted a picture of our produce haul over the weekend, I went to my neighborhood farmer's market today to pick up a few more things (just one bag's worth). I spent $13 and got a melon, a rutabaga, 2 lbs of grapes, a bunch of beets, and a pound of beeswax:

The cats were very interested in the produce.
Not bad, considering the other sources I looked at for beeswax would have me paying more than $13 just for a pound. A pound of beeswax from my friendly local farmer was $3. 

In other goals-related news, Adam and I start week 2 of the Couch to 5K program today! I cheated and added it to the fitness log already. I haven't taken our measurements yet this week, but we both did a weigh-in on Monday and we have both lost weight. Adam has also been using a small 3lb weight to work out his previously broken arm - he's hoping to be able to paddle next summer and possibly do some winter sports in the next few months, to say nothing of no longer embarrassing himself when trying to play basketball.

I think that just about does it -- I appreciate the support already shown for our juice fast, and your continued support will help us get through it. I'm confident we can do this.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Art Night & The Pumpkin Patch

A big part of feeling well, for me, is getting back out into the world. This weekend has involved some getting-out-in-the-world-ness without too much fanfare: last night Alison was kind enough to host an art night, and today, we went to The Pumpkin Patch!

Art Night used to be a monthly (or so) thing, but given everybody's lives lately, we've fallen sadly behind. I was really excited that Alison offered to host one again, since it gave us a chance to work on some projects - Adam knit a dish cloth for the kitchen, I worked on the damask afghan and made some collages for Vashti's binders (at her request). Friends came and did everything from painting to spontaneous comedy stylings. There was wine and baked goods and a good time had by all! 

Alison surprised us by making some cupcakes to decorate! Here's some of them coming out of the oven: 

As you can see, some of them exploded over their holders. They were delicious regardless! There were two chocolate frostings made and two buttercream frostings, and Alison had obtained some fun decorations. Here are some of the decorated cupcakes:

Our friend Amanda and I collaborated on one cupcake:

She did the vast majority, but the hat/fascinator was my idea--I do love a good fascinator. It's part of that whole Anglophile thing. They love ridiculous headgear in the U.K.! 

The only complaint I have about Art Night is that I was out later than I intended. But still, that's a fun complaint. Art NIght is such a great low-key way to catch up with friends I don't always get to see very often and be productive to boot! I'm hoping it's back to stay this time around. 

This morning, we had about six people committed to go to The Pumpkin Patch, but it ended up just being me, Adam, and Vashti. Oh, and for those who are wondering why I say the pumpkin patch, It really is. That's their farm's name, and they managed to register I've never been to a pumpkin patch I enjoy more, to be honest. 

We started out getting some spiced cider and fresh corn on the cob, then grabbed a bag of kettle corn (made on site, and very tasty) to head into The Maize. This year, the maize is Portland Timbers-themed:

I'm not a soccer fan, but the maize was fun! It seems it's been easier the past couple years, which is both a good and a bad thing, I suppose. Being lost in the mud for two hours can certainly turn a fun time into a frustrating and exhausted time. They've switched a few things up, including spilling you back out at the entrance/exit midway through for a small respite. Good for those with little ones, I imagine, but the main vistor's area by the food booths, maize entrance, and produce market was fraught with bees. That wasn't the best, but we seem to have come out of the experience sans stings. 

After conquering the maize, we went to the animal barn and said hello, then got on the hayride out to the patch. I took a few pictures whilst we were out there. 

Adam took one of me, balancing a pumpkin on my head:

Note the festive attire! After selecting our pumpkins and grabbing a hayride back, we paid for our pumpkins and took them back to the car. It was $9.00 for five pumpkins--not bad at all! 

We walked back to the produce market. They carry a lot of produce grown on the farm, grown on Sauvie Island, and trucked in from other nearby locales, like Hood River. We got squash, potatoes, cabbage, kale, apples, beets, kohlrabi, zucchini, and more! Here's a quick snapshot of our bounty:

There were a couple things not pictured, including apple cider. The total of what's here is about $40.00. That included a splurge--almost $5.00 for some local smoked gouda, which Adam and I are eating with some Hood River apples right now. It is delicious. 

I always forget how insanely cheap produce is, if you go to the source! That giant 25lb bag of carrots? $9.99. Giant zucchini? 99 cents. Squash? 49 cents per pound. Vashti is going back next weekend and will pick us up a few more things--a good thing, too, considering we start our juice fast on Thursday. I feel we'll still be able to enjoy the great bounty of fall foods - if you haven't tried it, I highly recommend juicing squash. It's quite filling and squash is often slightly sweet. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Revenge of Goals Wednesday

Back with a vengeance! A vengeance for...goals...yup. 

So, to recap, it's been almost a month since the last Goals Wednesday. What I said then stands true now; the constructive worrying may be the best goal I've ever made and kept. On Monday, during my constructive worry time, I made a list of everything I needed to do on Tuesday. I fell asleep without tossing and turning over tasks that needed to completed, and yesterday, I did everything on the list! I found that to be especially impressive, considering the list was at home and I completed all but two items (both of which had to be done at home) before returning to the house. 

If any of you are wondering what sorts of things I do during my constructive worry time, it varies a lot. Sometimes I'm paying bills, sometimes updating correspondence, working on a project, making a list, freaking out about where my life is going, or all of the above. If I allow myself a little time for all of that, it helps me keep it together the rest of the time, and it really does help me sleep. 

As I mentioned last time, I'm easing back into the weight & measurement thing. RIght now, at least once a week is my goal for weigh-ins--by Nov. 1st, I'd like to be back to daily weigh-ins, weekly measurements. This is also when I plan on re-starting my food journal and daily calisthenics/stretching. 

Right now, my goal is to keep up with the Couch to 5K program - Adam and I are planning on doing workout 2 of week 1 tonight. I'm nervous about adding in too much too fast, so the three times per week this gets me up and moving is great. 

I haven't forgotten about the juice fast! Adam and I have been getting a lot of use out of our juicer. This guy, for those who don't remember:

We have juice for breakfast most mornings. Right now I'm hoping next Thursday, Oct. 20th, will be the day we can start our juice fast. The only thing that would stop at this point would be new illness or injury, so, wish us luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting Back on Track

All right, I'm starting to get back into the swing of things now! Throughout October I'm only going to hold myself to weekly weigh-ins & measurements, but I will be on that like a hawk throughout the holidays. I've got the lovely problem of all my pants falling off me right now, and I don't want to reverse that trend (yes, I am up .9lbs from last week--I blame yesterday's feasting!).  Although I do need some new pants. 

You'll also notice that the fitness log has a new entry in it! Yesterday, Adam and I started the Couch to 5 K program. You can check out the running plan here. Alison and I followed this plan when we started running about a year ago; while part of me is frustrated & disappointed to end up here again, the other part of me is just happy to be able to do it again. To be honest, I'm sore from yesterday's workout! Adam always pushes himself harder with regard to speed (although he had to lay off that to make it all the way through), so I feel that at the end I'll definitely be a faster runner than I was before. 

I also taught Adam a couple yoga poses I like to do after I run--it's easier to get the equal stretch in your legs when they're limber, and yoga & running work so well together to get you in shape. The big two for me are warrior pose:

Followed by triangle pose:

I do a round of the more traditional stretches you associate with running, but throwing in a few minutes of yoga makes a big difference--especially to really stretch your inner thigh. Us ladies especially tend to contract and squish this muscle with our leg-crossing. Do an experiment for me: go into any pose in which you're going to bend your knee over the ankle. Now look at your knee. Make sure that your knee is pointing toward your middle or pinky toe, rather than your big toe. After a long day at the office, I bet it's kind of difficult! But that's the position you need to be in to have an even stretch on both sides of your legs. It's a lot easier to get into if you've just been running. 

Those of you who run, do yoga, both, or just stretch, what are some of your favorite poses to stretch out your legs?

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Been a Long Time

But I'm back! 

I'm giving myself a big pat on the back for making it through my first full workweek since the week prior to Labor Day without getting sick. I am done with my antibiotics AND done with my steroids. I'm canceling my appointment with Clackamas Pulmonary Specialists, because as of now, I seem to be better!

I'm still not 100% well to be sure...I walked home yesterday due to the Occupy Portland protests causing some major Tri-Met delays, and by the time I got home I was light-headed, nauseated, and quite dizzy. My lungs are still not functioning at full capacity. But I made it through work, and I even went out on Wednesday evening. 

A couple weeks ago, walking home after picking up some of my many prescriptions, I decided to stop in Division Wines, which is finally open. I had a lovely chat with Will, one of the owners, and picked up a totally cheap ($11) and delicious-sounding white wine from Italy. I also signed up for their e-mail list, so I was excited to see that they were doing a wine tasting this Wednesday night. Adam was supposed to be Go-Karting with co-workers, and several of my friends & I are taking an Italian wine class at Every Day Wine (another great wine establishment) this Sunday, so that pretty much left my dad - after some wheedling, he agreed to go. 

I got there earlier than he did, but the place was already filling up. I paid for my wine tasting and started off with a sparkling wine grown somewhere near Veneto. It wasn't great, to be honest, and the wine I had bought a couple weeks prior (and just opened--it's no fun drinking wine if you can't taste anything, plus you're not really supposed to be boozing when you're on most antibiotics) was much better. But I struck up a conversation with some people sitting nearby and was generally having a great time by the time my dad got there. 

We had a rather awesome evening--turns out my dad used to work with the owners of the wine shop, and we made a couple new friends as well. The wine tasting was an awesome value--it was only $10, we tasted 8 wines and there were cheeses, nuts, cured meats (none for me, but good for wine tasting), etc. to snack on. I wasn't impressed with the selection of whites at all, but the reds were all good and very interesting. The theme was supposed to be "off the beaten path," which definitely came through, and it's so apt for Italian wines. Italy grows more grape varietals than any other country in the world. 

Sometime soon I will have some of my more in-depth entries on wine (and booze in general), the idea of "slow fashion," and more! I hope to get back in the groove of daily weigh-ins and food journaling, and Adam and I want to start an exercise program soon (maybe next week)--but for now, I'm just trying to ease back into my life. So far, so good!