We are only a couple days away from the start of the New Year and I like to start each New Year off with a challenge. In the past they have been walking challenges or diet challenges and even though they are different than New Year’s resolutions or goals they still start my new year off on the right foot. This year is no different so I have been thinking this over and this challenge is something I will do every day for a month called the push-up challenge.
I can do push-ups but I don’t do them daily. I can also do several in a row but this challenge will build my strength over the month so that by the end I hope to be able to do many more push-ups successful in a row with less difficulty. Here is the challenge, starting on Jan 1 2014 I will do 1 push-up, not hard I know but then on day 2 I will do 2 push-ups, day 3 will be 3 push-ups and continuing this sequence for 31 days at which time I will be doing 31 push-ups. At the end of the 31 day cycle or monthly challenge I will have completed 496 push-ups.
I brought this up to my husband as a challenge we should do together and he basically looked at me and said I don’t get it? Well, between day 1 and 10 it is a way to perfect the “perfect” push-up so that days 11-31 you are working on form and quantity. It does sound easy but will it be? I don’t know but this is what I will find out and if it is too easy then I know where to go in the coming months with my next challenge but I think for me this challenge will help me work on my form and nail that perfect hovering off the floor push-up I see other people doing but for some reason my butt sticks up and throws my form off. This is a lack of strength that I’m hoping to inquire during the next 31 days starting on Wed and kicking my New Year off right.
Happy Holidays to all. Now that Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner my question is what happens next? What does my 2014 look like, what new challenges will I try and what goals will I set? The end of this year has been so great for me and I have found a new strength and a new drive. I wasn’t feeling great at the beginning and middle but the last several months have been much better. Working with a trainer again has given me great strength and doing my Insanity classes has increased my endurance and stamina and as well as running again has shown me that even at age 41 I’m very capable of doing what I want as long as I take care of myself.
I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions but there are certain things that I want to recommit to this year. I’m having deja vu which is probably because I said that very thing last year and here I am another year in saying the same thing. This is probably typical of most people as we try to better ourselves or see things in ourselves we would like to change we use the New Year as a place to do it. In the past I have set goals not resolutions and last year I used the word resolution which was “commit” I was very committed this year to family, work, health and fitness. I really want to focus my attention to my diet, nutrition and truly putting sugar in my past. One thing about myself is that I have a serious sweet tooth and yes I indulge it regularly but after several days of doing this, like right now, I feel terrible. Nothing else has changed just the sugar consumption but I know if I hadn’t indulged as much I wouldn’t feel so exhausted, bloated, sluggish, irritable and did I mention exhausted. I do realize that the holidays bring on a level of exhaustion and fatigue with or without indulging in certain foods but my fatigue is just compounded.
I will say again, I want to recommit to a cleaner, more natural diet and eliminate sugar from my diet. This is an ongoing goal that I have to fall down, pick myself up and keep trying. I have tried many times and honestly for about a year after my MCTD diagnosis I was sugar free but I was eating gluten back then so I didn’t feel so deprived and eating things with no sugar wasn’t easy but it felt doable. Now I have reached a place in my life where I think I can either be gluten free or sugar free but not both and I need to change that mindset. I believe my body wants to be both; I just need my brain on board. I have been experimenting in the kitchen way more this year than any other time in life and I’ve created some really incredible meals, desserts, salads and smoothies so I just need to expand my knowledge and try to remove sugar or sweeteners from those recipes. I was listening to a podcast that discussed Xylitol and stevia and how these two “natural” sweeteners don’t spike the blood sugar levels or cause the liver to adjust how it functions. I’m still doing research on this so I clearly understand the difference between these two sweeteners and other sweeteners so if anyone has information please let me know.
I just finished listening to an audio book that I had to write about. It is Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and whether you read it or listen to it, it is worth the time. This book is well written and has a lot of information about what grains; especially gluten can do to our brains and our bodies. Our brains really need fat to survive and yet most of us are deathly afraid of fat. We are told to eat good fats and most of us don’t want to even think about eating fat because well we think that eating fat makes us fat. This has been drilled in our heads for most of our individual lives so it is no wonder we are slow to change. I think most of us believe that EVOO is good for us but what about animal fats, butter, walnut oil, and avocado oil? These are good for us too but we think that the more we eat of them we are doing bad things to our bodies, our weight and what a mental game to eat such fats.
David Perlmutter has some good information and delivers the information in a way that is easy to take in but still not easy to believe. Hearing it over and over is really the only way to make real changes. This is not an easy change for many of us even though we know it is good our brains stop us in our tracks and guilt sets in. He describes all this in his book so it is more common that I initially realized. I too struggle with the idea that I should be eating more fats but I do get a good amount in my diet daily, probably not enough, but enough to keep my body sustained which is really all I’m looking for at this point. My husband has taken to “bullet proof coffee” very easily and he says that it keeps him full most of the morning so he doesn’t need a snack between breakfast and lunch anymore. What is bullet proof coffee? Dave Aspry came up with this combination of mold free coffee, grass fed butter and MCT oil. My husband chooses his dark roast black coffee, grass fed butter and coconut oil as his MCT oil. The butter and oil mix nicely in the hot liquid and the fat sticks to his ribs and allows him to feel good.
Dave Aspry has a podcast as well where he talks about his very strict diet and all the bio-hacking he does for his body and brain. It is pretty interesting and you can tell he has made a career out of bio-hacking himself and sharing with anyone who will listen.
Many of these bio-hackers have similar philosophies to David Perlmutter and the idea about grains is growing daily.
This time of year brings more eating, parties, cheer and even more eating than I know what to do with. About 1 party of non-sensible eating and my body feels like it has been run over by a truck. My sleep can get thrown off quickly and the swelling and soreness in my hands can really stop me in my tracks. I hear all the time that you cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet and this time of year I’m constantly struggling between eating sensibly and enjoying the holidays. I listen to a lot of podcast and one thing is clear for me and many others out there, that eating gluten free even if not always choosing the best options seems to help. I was talking with my husband today and he was mentioning that he isn’t feeling that great and I know it is because he has been getting some gluten foods and some high sugar foods. There is a podcast that is related to no sugar, no grains or “NSNG” they constantly talk about just cutting out sugar and grains and how much better people feel. While sweet seems to be a staple for us right now we can certainly do better at cutting out grains if not at least making sure to cut out gluten.
I have been taking food to our many holiday parties so I know there is something that we can eat and although we continually bring home sweet treats from other people that love us very much, I have also been making us some yummy gluten free, and sugar free treats so we can eat those instead. It is a constant struggle that we are faced with and still have about 3-4 more weeks of the parties, gatherings, fireside chats and many more reasons to eat and drink. Keeping my journal for my trainer works as well but still there are times when I feel unable to resist so I eat and write it down.
As I listen to the “Angriest Trainer” podcast I keep hearing that once you cut it out completely you will no longer want to eat it and it won’t taste good. I wish there was a way to have this happen quickly and I wish I wouldn’t want to eat these types of food anymore. My brain has not adjusted and although I’m not having cravings I do find myself wanting to indulge when sweets and breads are around. After the holidays I can hopefully detox sugars and grains completely and get rid of the urge to eat them and lose my taste buds for them.
Until then I will enjoy the most joyous Holiday Season, pick and choose my eats as carefully as I can and think of my body and hands every time I decide I can’t live without a gluten food.
As I go into the new year and after several weeks of working out with a trainer and attending Insanity classes I am feeling very strong. This strength is helping with so many things such as better sleep, finally losing some of the menopausal weight, weird cravings going by the wayside and just generally feeling like life is back to normal. When I’m at home or at the gym by myself I lift medium weight, when I’m with my trainer I get to lift heavier weight since I know he is there to spot me when needed. This bonus of heavy weight lifting really allows me to see my progress and the changes I’m making to my body.
This bonus of feeling stronger is even helping with a new and improved Bikram practice. I can really feel my balance has improved and allows me to go deeper into the standing postures. My heart rate stays at a stable rate and doesn’t cause me any extra hard breathing or panic moments. The cardio increase is from my 3 days of Insanity work which is very cardiovascular based but since we are doing a lot of pushups and squats it is also increasing strength. I think I have found a good routine now and since I journal my daily activities and have my trainer look at my journal weekly he is able to look and make sure I’m getting a good mixture of cardio work, strength training on my own and strength training with him as well as a nice balance of Bikram to round it out.
I will even throw in some rest days or active rest days when my body is fatigued because I know I am working hard the rest of the time. I knew I was working hard before but having someone to be accountable to and have someone council me on my routine has helped to take a Sunday off and just go to the Bikram. It might mean I log 3k steps just by doing life things and although my daily goal is 10-13k steps I’m ok with these rest days as I know my body needs them.
I also noticed that once I started to take a few rest days here and there the weight did start to drop off. I also make a wonderful smoothie every day that is so filling I drink ½ first thing in the morning and wait about 3 hours and have the other ½. I’ll put the recipe below. This smoothie recipe really tastes incredible and gives me lots of energy to get through even some of my toughest days.
Handful of spinach – or any green of your choice
1 baseball size beet – leave peel on
½ sweet pot – leave peel on
Thumb nail size chunk ginger – leave peel on
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 scoop clean protein powder of your choice
Blend and enjoy.
Other than the all the treats of pumpkin pie and apple pie with lots of the other great foods I also had another non-edible treat on Thanksgiving day. The Bikram studio where I practice held a special 2 hour Bikram class. I haven’t ever attended one of these classes before but this was really incredible and so energizing. You might be thinking that it would be really hard but once you get going sometimes the 90 minutes just doesn’t feel long enough. This gave me a great workout, the knowledge that I can endure more, and longer time in the heat which is always a plus for me.
Since this was the only opportunity for people to get a practice in it was not shocking that the studio was packed full of eager people such as myself to see what we were capable of. Our mats and towels were inches from one another which meant it was inevitable that we would be sweating on each other as well as stepping on each others mats which is not my favorite thing. However, it was more important to me to get a class in before the serious eating that was due to take place just hours away so I would endure the unpleasantries of having feet on my very private mat.
As we got settled it was clear that the number of bodies packed in that room was sure to create some serious humidity and it didn’t take long for the mirrors to start to fog up. The idea is to focus on yourself in the mirror but when you cannot see your reflection looking back at you then it is time to just focus on how you feel and not what you see. The 2 hour session incorporated the 26 postures and 3 sets of each. The first set was original, the second set was silent and the third set was an advanced version of the posture. This was fantastic because as long as I have been doing Bikram I didn’t know there were advanced versions. I learned something that day about the practice and how you really can keep taking it further and further depending on what your body can endure. Breathing becomes even more important since the 3 sets can be difficult and the heat was incredible, not to mention we were in there 120 minutes. All of which made this wonderful and challenging all at the same time.
When it came time to step to the left side of our mats and start the next sets of postures our instructor recommended that we could roll up our mats and towels to make more room and this made it so that no one stepped on my mat. I loved this idea and rolled instantly. I wasn’t distracted or worried since there was no way feet were going to be where my face would be in just minutes so the rest of the standing postures were great and when we hit the floor I was more than ready to do so. The time went by quickly but I had also worked really hard along the way. It was wonderful and I’m hoping to be able to experience something like that again very soon.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving and one might be wondering if they survived the Thanksgiving dinner, family madness, and incredibly long day of spirits and cheer. I am one of those people. I certainly survived the family madness because I love my family madness even if I tend to seem annoyed it is all in show and I know without a doubt I would not be the woman I am today without my family. Therefore, I accept them and the madness as a pure gift.
Spirits and cheer, no problem here, only because I didn’t enjoy any spirits and just left it to cheer. My sparkling water is more than enough spirit for me and even add a little pomegranate juice to the sparkling water and it looks like spirits in a glass. Keeping a journal this time of year will help with identifying if alcohol, gluten, sugar, dairy, FODMAPS and even nuts are triggers for your MCTD symptoms. I know for certain that alcohol is a trigger for me so I stay clear whenever possible.
Now surviving the Thanksgiving meal, that is where it gets interesting. I have never been diagnosed with Celiac disease but I have found that getting too much gluten and especially too much sugar makes my hands really swollen and my face gets puffy and the worst symptom is I don’t sleep well. Not sleeping well adds to many other undesirable issues. This meal I had a talk with myself about what was really important and booked a training session for Friday after Thanksgiving because I knew that I would not be my best during my training session if I was tired, swollen, puffy, cranky, and sick. It seems like a lot to get to the end result but my end result was success. I had lots of Turkey, sweet potatoes, cauliflower mash, root vegetables, spinach and then indulged in pie. They were not gluten free pies but as you can see since I didn’t indulge in gluten or white potato during my meal I felt it safe to indulge everything into dessert. I still slept fine and had a great workout on Friday along with a Bikram class. I most certainly survived Thanksgiving and now just need to survive many Holiday parties, Christmas and New Years and if all goes as well as Thanksgiving I should find myself a satisfied woman as I enter 2014.