Considering a Plant Based Diet

The Year of Health has become even more important with my husbands unexpected heart attack and need to quadruple bypass surgery. As he recovers from a surgery, that seems inconceivable to me, we are researching what we need to do to protect him from having to go through anything like this again. We also want to protect our son from being where his dad is in 30 years. The genetic risk lives on chromosome 19. I learned this this week. The idea that a 15 yearly boy has to be tested for high cholesterol is mind boggling to me. We had already dubbed 2020 as our “Year of Health” even before this event. Now it is even more important for our whole family.

Diet and exercise seem to be the two areas where we can make an impact. We had committed to at least 10,000 steps a day and 52 hikes this year. We may need to do some urban hiking to make this work. Today instead of the hike we had planned, Marty took his first walk down the hall on the intensive care unit. We may have to double up on hikes later in the year to make our 52, but we will get there.

As soon as my brother heard about Marty’s heart attack he suggested a plant based diet. My brother follows this type of diet and it prevented him from needing to be on medication for his cholesterol. It also probably prevented him from a fate similar to Marty’s, as we have family history of hear disease. I have been pescatarian since 2011. I travel for work so have been hesitant to give up dairy, eggs, and fish. Marty eats what I cook but when he eats separate from me, he eats the typical American diet. Wanting to protect our family from having this ever happen to anyone we love again, got us seriously looking at plant based diets. My 9 years eating things without legs has taught me how to cook some amazing meat free dishes. I am confident that I can bring this to the next level. But, does a plant based diet really work?

We started research by watching some documentaries on Netflix. What the HealthFork over Knife, and The Game Changers provided us with information that was so surprising. A friend recommended a YouTube Channel Krocks in the Kitchen, which led us to another one called, The Jardoui Family. The YouTube channels provide some great ideas as well as wonderful inspired recipes. The host of The Jardoui Family shared her story and it was just as my brother had said. eating a plant based diet restored health and prevented the need for the Statin drugs that are often used to reduce cholesterol. It confirmed what the documentaries had said.

Can we do this? Sure, why not! Planning ahead and cooking for ourselves will be key in being successful on a diet like this. More and more restaurants are offering plant based food. In the Twin Cities we have The Herbivorious Butcher, which has wonderful options.  When I first stopped eating animals back in 2011, I just tried it and thought, “I will see how long I can do this”. Now, 9 years later, I am looking at taking the next step for my health and the health of my family.

May you always have good health. I love you!

If you have any fabulous plant based recipes  or information you would like to share, please post them in the comments. Thank you. If you want a natural way to improve your health, I recommend you watch the documentaries.

 

Oh Sugar Sugar; 11 reasons to decrease your sugar intake.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Me too! I have alternated over the years between eating a lot of sugar to eating little to no sugar at all. I know that I feel a lot better when I do not eat sweets but it sure does taste good. I find that knowing the reasons behind decreasing something can have a big impact on staying motivated to pass it by; even when others are partaking. Below are 11 reasons to really consider decreasing your sugar intake.

Let me clarify. I am not talking about natural sugars like honey, fruit, or real maple syrup. I am talking about processed sugar made from Sugar Cane or Sugar Beets. I have found that replacing processed sugar in receipts with Stevia, Honey, and real Maple Syrup helps when you want a sweet treat or to serve a dessert but not all the other affects.

 

Reasons to decrease sugar intake

Inflammatory – Sugar can cause an inflammatory response. I notice that I have joint pain when I eat sugar. Decreasing the intake of this inflammatory substance can almost completely relieve my pain. This is my number one biggest reason why I try to avoid sugar in my diet.

Addictive – There are lots of studies out there about the addictive nature of sugar. Some people think it may be even as addictive as Cocaine. What I do know is the more sugar I eat, the more sugar I want. It takes me about 3-5 days, without having sugar, for the cravings to decrease.

Empty calories – Sugar has no nutritional value other than the carbohydrates. These are a fast energy source, but if we do not need them, they are stored as fat.  If you are making choices in the foods you get your calories from, then I urge you to choose foods with more nutritional value.

Blood sugar effect – Eating sugar spikes your blood glucose levels. In people with properly functioning pancreases, insulin is released to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. This spike in blood sugar levels can cause problems even for people without diabetes. For me, the spike triggers my body to release insulin, which does too good of a job removing the glucose from my blood stream and I end up getting low blood glucose levels. This causes me to feel woozy and have trouble concentrating.

Cognitive function  – There are some studies which suggest that sugar can cause fogginess in the brain. Sugar intake has been linked to forgetfulness and trouble concentrating. This is ironic when you think about how many student will reach for a candy bar for that little pick me up to keep studying.

Blood pressure and heart disease – There are many complications to the the cardiac and circulatory systems that diabetic people face. There are studies out there that show that, even for people without diabetes, increased sugar intake can cause elevated blood pressure as well as strain to the heart.

Depression – Some studies are showing a link between sugar and depression. Others are saying that inflammation increases depression and we already know sugar causes increased inflammation. 

Cancer – Sugar feeds cancer. This alone is a good reason to avoid excess intake of this sweet poison.

Hunger – Because of sugars effects on the blood glucose levels, it can cause a continual rise and fall and when blood sugar levels fall, we feel hungry again. Because of this it is easy to get into a cycle of eating sugar again and again throughout the day because of the effects it has to continually cause us to feel hungry. Eating less sugar will reduce those feelings of hunger.

Money – By not spending money on sweet treats, which make us hungry repeatedly through out the day, we will save money. There are lots of great natural foods to put that money towards, that will not cause the repeated need to munch and save you money in the long run.

Immune system – Sugar affects the functioning of our white blood cells. These are the cells that rush in when an invader gets into the body to fight off infections. If we are eating a lot of sugar, and causing these cells to be sluggish, we are risking increased illnesses.

All of these reasons and we didn’t even talk about tooth decay! Ultimately, whether you decide sugar is thumbs up or thumbs down for you, do your own research. Know the facts about what that cupcake might cost you or how it could affect you in the long term. Ultimately life is full of choices and luckily we all get to make our own. I, personally, am choosing to not have sugar as one of the choices of what I put in my body. At least most of the time, no one is perfect after all.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you make the food choices that are right for you.

 

Stepping into the Keto Diet

My husband decided to join one of those weight loss contests that pop up at work after the New Year. They had set a pretty aggressive amount of weight to lose by 28 days. I had heard people were having great success on the Keto Diet and thought that this, along with the fasting we were already doing, might work best for him. So I suggested he give it try. Then I set off to learn as much about it as I could so I could help him. I was amazed by what I learned.

To start, I began looking for recipes. Keto friendly things I could make and have in the freezer, so he would have yummy, healthy food to eat while I am on the road. There are a tremendous amount of recipes available out there. The premise behind keto is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. It forces your body into a ketogenic state or ketosis, which causes it to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. According to Wikipedia; this diet was first developed in the 20s for treatment of childhood seizures.

This way of eating is in sharp contrast to the “Stop the Insanity” low fat diets from the 90s.

There is a documentary (which is available to watch on Netflix) called ‘The Magic Pill.’ Watching this documentary inspired me to also try the ketogenic diet as well. Sure I would love the weight loss but the health benefits demonstrated in the movie were my real motivation. This show follows several people for a few weeks as they switch to this way of eating. The results they had were miraculous. Cancer, Autism, Diabetes, and Asthma were all demonstrated life changing improvements because of it; not to mention weight management. One of the ‘ah ha’ moments for me was right at the start of the documentary. When they said; “Every animal controls its weight naturally, other than humans and animals fed by humans”. My goodness! I never stopped to think that there are no obese deer or even pump lazy sloths.

As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) the idea of going on a diet, without the American staple of carbs, seemed like a difficult choice. It takes away so many of the things I am able to eat on the road. I also have difficulty with my blood sugar, that can dip to low and cause me to not feel well, if I do not eat the right thing or go to long without eating. This has made me believe I need a high protein diet. I was about to learn that was not true! As I stepped off into the world of ketogenic eating, my first challenge came when I went to a German restaurant with friends. Their vegetarian dish was pasta and the fish/seafood dishes were with pasta or breaded. Hmmm… what to have? I elected for the green beans with almonds and a cucumber salad. I also ate a few pieces of cheese off a friend’s appetizer plate. I was full. Challenge accepted and completed. Next morning, eggs and veggies are a very normal breakfast for me, so that did not even require a change. Lunch was riced cauliflower made into fried rice with eggs and plenty of olive oil. Yummy!

Do you know what I discovered? My blood sugar has remained stable. I have not had the shaky or woozy feeling that I often get when I don’t eat enough protein. Here, all this time, my need for high protein was a result of a diet high in carbs. I am on my third day of this new way of eating and I feel great. I am also doing this in conjunction with the intermittent fasting I have been doing since June. The two seem to work well together.

With the combination of intermittent fasting and Keto Diet, my husband has lost 11 pounds in 6 days. Isn’t that amazing? One of his favorite treats on the Keto Diet is the Fat Bombs. They are a nice little treat but also help to keep the consumption of fat, good and high, as required for ketosis. There are lots of fat bomb recipes but the ones he likes are made with natural unsweetened peanut butter, cream cheese, a tiny bit of stevia, and rolled in semisweet or dark chocolate. They are rolled in balls about a quarter’s diameter and are delicious. You only need to eat one to feel like you had a treat and quite satisfied. After all, that is what eating fat does. It helps us feel satiated.

Whether you are curious about the ketogenic diet or planning to try it yourself, there seems to be potential benefit for amazing results. If you enjoy documentaries, I recommend you check out ‘The Magic Pill.’ It is very interesting.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find healthy eating that works for you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Palermo, Sicily

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters

Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board

Negotiations With Myself; 10 Tactics to Stay the Course

It seems like the hardest negotiations I have to have are with myself. This realization came tonight while I was having a conversation with Adventure Sister, Emy. We are great at talking ourselves out of doing things, but talking ourselves into doing things is a whole nother story. What can we do to be successful in negotiations with ourselves?

I am a world champion justifier. If you are not good at justifying something let me take a swing at it. Maybe this gift is a part of my Susie Sunshine Personality, where I can find the good in anything. But like the grinch, it doesn’t matter if this is because my shoes are too tight or my head is not screwed on just right. Being able to justify my way out of everything down not help me embrace healthy habits. Right now I am busy justifying that I don’t need to get my 10,000 steps a day because it is cold outside.

I have negotiated things with others through out my life. Many of these negotiations have been quite successful. How can I use these techniques to negotiate healthy habits with myself?

1. Be firm and set the expectations. That inner couch potato will want to have it their own way. Having a firm line and setting the expectation with yourself will help when your mind starts making up excuses.

2. Have a prepared response. Since we are talking about negotiations with yourself, you probably have a pretty good idea what excuses you will come up with. Be prepared with reasons why these excuses are just not good enough to set your healthy habits aside

3. Keep the goal in mind. Having a clear picture of where you are heading makes it easier to stay the course. This is true no matter if the goal is weight, career, financial, romantic, or whatever.

4. Stay excited! Having a goal can be very exciting, especially when you see progress. Celebrate small successes along the way to help keep the excitement flowing.

5. Ask for a little bit more time. Your inner critic may try and tell you this isn’t working or that you aren’t benefitting from this initiative. Convince that inner critic to keep trying, just a little bit longer. A break through may be just around the corner.

6. Remind yourself that you are worth it. This is such an epidemic of people not feeling worthy. Remind yourself your are worthy have having what you are working toward. You are good enough, you are strong enough, and you deserve success.

7. Ask yourself for advise. When you start hearing the we don’t have to do this anymore voice in your head ask it what it needs to keep going. Sometime just acknowledging the voice will be enough to help you push on. Other times a little inner dialog about what inspiration is needed will give you the power to get over the hump.

8. Use logic. Remind yourself of all the good reasons why sticking with this will help you in the long run

9. Be aware of your emotions. Emotions can pop up when we least expect them. Especially when we are working toward a seemingly difficult goal. (Most goals are achievable with persistence). When those emotions pop up, acknowledge them. Do not try to minimize them. Once you have acknowledged them, allow them to move through you. Release them, do not hold onto them.

10. Push past objections. Sometimes there is no convincing the inner Negative Nelly. Sometimes you will just have to ignore that part of yourself and just keep going. You can do it!

Good luck winning those negotiations with yourself. I believe in you! You can achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams. Keep going.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you effortlessly continue to move in the direction of you dreams, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Zagreb, Croatia

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters

Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board

You Are Beautiful! Yes You!

I hear so many commercials on the radio and then see them in magazines for various ways to become beautiful. This magical weight loss pill or that amazing muscle building goo. Cool sculpting (I will be honest, I have no idea what that is or how it works) and laser hair removal. Why is it these types of products and services are so plentiful? Because we don’t feel like we’re good enough and those products cater to that. We are trying to win the favor of others and ourselves by how we look. I know that when my hair looks just right and I have on a snazzy outfit, I feel at the top of my game. But this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about how we try to change ourselves physically to feel better about ourselves.

I want you to know that you are beautiful just the way you are. You are! Beauty comes from the inside. I do not care if you have a scar on your face, a few extra pounds , or a unibrow. You are beautiful. Your radiance comes from inside. It has nothing to do with your outward appearance.

I can understand how easy it is to believe that loosing weight will make you feel happy. I was there once. I had gastric bypass surgery and lost over 100 pounds. I thought this would solve all my problems. It didn’t. I had to dig deep inside of myself and find the truth about me. That I am valuable as a person. That my beauty comes from the divine light that radiates from inside of me.  That loosing weight or another outward change would not make me any better of a person.

If you “fix” whatever it is you think is “wrong” with you, you will still feel the same about yourself. It won’t magically fix what is hurting inside of you. My recommendation to you is to work on healing that pain inside you. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love you! (I know it feels  and sounds funny – but it is worth it). Make a list about all of the things you really love about yourself. They can be physical but should also include your character as a person. If there are things in your character that you do not like,  work to change those. For example, I am on an adventure to stop complaining. It is a part of myself that could use a tune up. Other parts of your personality may not need to be changed but rather reframed. You just need to look at them in a different way. For example, many people might say I am pushy and bossy but I have come to understand this as being assertive and driven. I now love this aspect of myself.

Yes, I still diet. I am not, however, doing it because I think it will make me a better person or that people will like me more because of it. I am doing it because it is healthier for my body. Staying within a certain weight ensures that I can do the things I love to do, like kayaking, traveling, and riding roller coasters. Also having an awareness to when I eat and what I am eating, helps me tune into if I am eating to cover up some emotion that I do not want to deal with. It allows me to process that emotion rather than burying it under a pile of candy bar wrappers.

I really want you to understand that you are beautiful. You are worthy of a magical and  joyous life. You are enough just the way you are. You are capable of greatness. It matters not what you look like. Be proud of who you are. Embrace yourself and know that you deserve the best that life has to offer. If you feel the need to work on something, do so, but do it for the right reason and in the right way.  Because you are beautiful, exactly as you are.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you see your beauty as I see it, as if by magic.

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters

Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board

Keeping Up With Healthy Initiatives When the Seasons Change

Healthy initiatives can seem energizing when you first start them. They give you hope of a better tomorrow and the good feeling in your heart of really doing something important for yourself. When Mother Nature sees fit to make changes in the seasons, it can throw a curve in your plans. Also seasonal holidays can seem like an excuse to no longer stay the course. Having a plan to combat these changes is the best way to not let them derail your progress.

If you follow my blog you probably know I have a number of healthy initiative all going at once. Taking Care of Me; Step By Step, is the blog that lays them all out if you are interested. My husband and I have been doing an excellent job getting our 10,000 steps in a day. We’re getting up and walking before work, then after work and again before bed, if we still need some more steps. This week we got snow here in MN. I wasn’t expecting it and upon waking discovered 3 inches of the pristine white stuff covering everything. I found it hard to want to get out an walk. I did eventually bundle up and head to the grocery store. I could have driven and it would have been quicker and warmer, but why not take care of 2 things at once. It was a nice sunny day. The bright sun reflected off the snow and I reflected on how to keep up with all that we are working on, despite time marching on.

I am a wonderful “justifier” and snow seems like a great reason to justify skipping a walk. Having a plan in place helps keep you on task. Just like with the intermittent fasting that we are working on. There is always a justified reason to not stay the course; family in town, a special gathering, or an appointment that throws a kink in things. Recently, when my brother visited, we met him early each morning for breakfast. I always look forward to this annual visit and our early morning breakfast and conversation. As his visit neared, I started to fret about what to do about the intermittent fasting and the fact the fact that I wait until 10am before I break my fast. In the end I had a conversation with my brother, who was gracious and understanding. I still met him for breakfast and I enjoyed a nice cup of hot tea, while we had our usual time together and great conversation. Having a plan helped me stay the course. I have so far lost 15.4 pounds by sticking to the intermittent fasting.

Finances is another healthy initiative we are working on. The holiday season is fast approaching. This is the time of year when people often try to spend money to show someone how much they love them. Buying someone a gift, that they may not need or want, will not necessarily communicate your love and appreciation of them. I encourage you to come up with a plan on how to handle this time of year. Start a savings account that you add to throughout the year. Set a budget for gifts and holiday groceries and stick to it. Find innovated ways to show your love and appreciation for those you care so dearly about. Start a conversation with your friends and family about other ways to celebrate your love and appreciation like agreeing to volunteer together as a family. Make an understanding about gifts and a cost limit. Give homemade gifts infused with good intentions and lots of love. There are so many options.

As soon as you decide to focus on a healthy initiative, something will come up to throw you off course. Try to think about what these things may be. Make a plan for them. Remember that healthy initiates are not things we do just for today or tomorrow. These are things we incorporate into our life an become our new standard of living. To ensure success at improving our life, we need to think about how to remain faithful to ourselves. We need to make ourselves a priority by having a plan to keep our momentum moving forward.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May all your plans come easily, so that you stay the course, and reach the goals you set for yourself, as if by magic.

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters

Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board

 

 

Taking Care of Me; Step By Step

I keep plodding along trying to get to a better version of me. What can I do to improve myself a little more each day? I recently wrote a blog inspired by a friend called; How Do You Eat an Elephant or (in this case) a Dinosaur? It was all about doing things step by step to improve yourself.

Well, I put that into practice and started working towards the best me I can be, step by step.

  • I have been a Pescatarian since April 2012 – This was the first major health improvement I made. (What is healthy for me may not be healthy for you.)
  • 5 plus years of avoiding processed sugar – It does not make me feel good when I eat processed sugar because of my gastric bypass. Even more than that though, I have realized it causes me joint pain as well.
  • 4 months of intermittent fasting – I have been doing intermittent fasting since the beginning of July. There have been some weeks when I have not been focused on this or even stayed the course, but I am back solidly in the seat of intermittent fasting now and learning so much more about my eating and emotions and how they are connected. I have lost 14 pounds in that time.
  • 2.5 months of decreasing complaining Wellness is about mind, body, and soul improvements. Working towards 21 days complaint free is a way to improve my mind and soul. I did make it to day #2 once and I believe that if today keeps going well, I will make day #2 for a second time.
  • 27 days without Alcohol – Originally I only wanted to go 28 days without alcohol. I can almost taste the success of accomplishing that. Do you know what it has taught me? I do not need it and look at all the money I am saving by not having my nightly glass or two of wine.
  • 2 weeks of increased activity – 10,000 steps a day is my goal. I have made it 8 of the last 14 days. My September step average was about 5,500 steps but the last 2 weeks the average has been over 9,000.
  • 11 days without diet soda – Oddly, this has been much harder for me to give up than wine. I am making it though. Sparkling water gives me the same bubbly sensation and tea helps make up for the caffeine.
  • 7 days since refocusing on awareness of finances – Financial health is also an important part of wellness. How can we have peace of mind if our finances are giving us stress. I read Dave Ramseys book, The Total Money Makeover. I found myself inspired to refocus on getting to a place of financial freedom. I do not want money worries to rule my life.
  • 4 days of daily meditation – I was making great headway on resuming a daily meditation practice. I did four consecutive days and then a missed the next 3 days. Today I started again!

These are 9 great initiatives I took towards being the best me, I can be. If I had added them all to my routine at one time it would have been to overwhelming. Step by step additions of each of the various initiatives seems reasonable and it gives me time to get one under control before the next one is added.

What are you doing to take care of you? How are you improving your wellness? What would you like to do to be the best version of you?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your wellness initiative(s) be successful, as if by magic.

Please Follow the Adventure Sisters
Stacy’s Blog
Emy’s Blog
Adventure Sister’s Facebook Page
Stacy’s Instagram
Emy’s Twitter
Adventure Sister’s Pinterest Board