28 Feb

day 33: Olympic hockey

I must admit that yesterday I didn’t feel so great. I didn’t get around to working out, but I was tired for much of the day that I don’t think I would have made it through a workout anyway. Luckily today I’m feeling much better. I even breezed through an intense power yoga class this morning, no problems.

For breakfast I had my prescribed breakfast smoothie with banana, beet greens, and grapes. I’ll be making variations of this for breakfast the next three weeks of my cleansing diet. I just know I’m going to be missing my usual oatmeal and eggs.

Lunch Smoothie:

3 c. beet greens
1 pear
1/2 avocado
1/2 c. walnut halves
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Verdict: Besides looking like ditch water this smoothie actually tasted really good! At first taste I wasn’t impressed, but I ended up chugging it pretty fast because it was so tasty. I got the ginger/nutmeg idea from Laura.

Today Matt and I hosted a party to watch the Gold Medal hockey game. It was a potluck so everyone had to bring a dish themed around a country competing in the Olympic games.
Since I love bread, the Olympics are Greek, and the whole day was a celebration, my dish was “Greek Celebration Bread“. It was a hit! I got the recipe out of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice book that I’ve been baking through for the BBA Challenge. The bread is an enriched bread with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice along with cranberries, raisins, and walnuts. (Hence, the raisins, nutmeg, and walnuts in my lunch smoothie).

We had quite the spread at our little shindig. Among other things we had Belgian waffles, Italian salami and cheese, French Onion soup, Chinese spring rolls, and Tim Horton’s doughnuts and Timbits. Of course, because of Lent, I wasn’t able to eat anything : (  This is by far the hardest Lenten fast I’ve ever done.

In all the business, I never ended up getting around to making my dinner smoothie. Ah well, to late now.

What an fantastic hockey game, eh?!

One thing left to say before bed: GO CANADA!!!

28 Feb

day 32: my second green smoothie weekend

Due to technical difficulties I wasn’t able to post my smoothies last night. Damn internet.

Breakfast Smoothie:

“Best foods you’re not eating smoothie”
4 c. swiss chard
1 banana
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1 tbsp. hemp seeds
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cinnamon

Verdict: This smoothie was delicious. I really liked the addition of the spices. And this smoothie has 4 of the NY Times: 11 Foods You Should Be Eating (Chard, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and Blueberries)!

Lunch Smoothie:
This is based on what Dr. Natasha recommended that I drink every morning for breakfast (but I didn’t get around until grocery shopping until after brekkie so I made this my lunch smoothie). My additions to her recipe are italicized.

3 c. beet greens
1/2 beet

1 peach
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp Nutrasea fish oil
4 tbsp Manitoba Harvest hemp protein
Enough Almond Milk to get the desired consistency.

Verdict: Okay. With just one piece of fruit this smoothie was actually sweeter than I anticipated. I attribute it to the beets. The hemp protein also gave the smoothie a nutty taste.

Dinner Smoothie:

4 c. kale
2 c. pineapple
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1/2 lime, juiced
4 mint leaves
1 tbsp chia seeds

Verdict: Good. It had a really tropical taste. I think I would add some fresh ginger to this one to give it a crisper taste. I still don’t like kale all that much in a smoothie though.

It’s a short post, but I’m off to prep for our Olympic hockey game party! I’ll post about it later 🙂

26 Feb

day 31: the naturopath

Before I started my Bikini Birthday quest I already had the gears in motion in my head thinking about how I could live to my optimum health. I decided I should see a Naturopath to get a thorough analysis of my lifestyle. Today, over a month later I finally had my appointment.

This was my first time seeing a Naturopath and my naturopath assessment was single-handedly the most informative  medical assessment I’ve ever had. Not to knock my family doctor who is, himself, a fantastic practitioner but is limited by red tape to very brief and superficial evaluations. My Naturopath, Dr. Natasha, on the other hand was so thorough!

After going through my medical history and family history she was able to completely tie everything together and explain all the possible causes of my current symptoms. She even drew pictures with arrows connecting the important stuff to each other! It was like a session of “Samantha’s Symptoms for Dummies” — in a good way of course, because I’m a biology dummy but I could totally understand what she was talking about.

So here is what I learned: The accutane I took as a teenager f’d up my intestinal lining which may be preventing me from absorbing B vitamins. The birth control pills that I have recently stopped taking– because Matt relentlessly told me that they were screwing with my hormones– really were screwing up my hormones. As a result, my metabolism is more of a Chevette than a Corvette and I get cyclically recurring acne. She was able to go into more detail, but I’m paraphrasing, of course.

And here is is my course of action: Dr. Natasha gave me a very detailed cleansing diet to do for 3 weeks which eliminates allergens and food sensitivities like dairy, gluten, red meat, etc. After 3 weeks I will be reintroducing items slowly to see what sorts of  reactions my body has and to determine food sensitivities. Also, she prescribed me a few supplements to increase my B vitamin levels and to balance my hormones again. I’ll see her again in 1 month.

I was so impressed by my appointment today and how everything came together and seemed to just make sense. Now hopefully all her support really does work and I will achieve my optimum health level! Cleansing diet day one begins tomorrow.

Has anyone else been to a Naturopath? What were your experiences?

25 Feb

day 30: more stew

Did I mention how much I love soups and stews?? Pretty sure that I have. Or at least you can gather that fact by my meals so far this week! (Lamb Stew, Fish Stew, and Leftovers for lunch…)

Another thing I love: coming home to a cooked (or partially cooked) meal. When I came home from the gym tonight the house smelled fragrant… like Big Macs. But luckily it wasn’t Big Macs (I hate them and that would have been a terrible surprise).

Matt managed to craft a stew that smells like the McDonald’s signature burger but tasted nothing like it. It was sort of like a ratatouille. He called it a Mattatouille (which I thought was adorable) … and all I had to do was add the beans.

(Note the recycled paper from last week)

I don’t know exactly what was in it but something like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onion, garlic, and a whole slew of spices like garam marsala, turmeric, and chili powder.

Yum Yum.

My workout today was exhausting. Or, let me rephrase, I was exhausted during my workout. My upper body was so sore from yesterday’s weight training that my arms were even tired when I was running. I did 10 intervals for 10 minutes (30s. @ 6.7mph / 30s. @ 10mph) then jogged for another 4.5 miles. Then I did a Vinyasa yoga class where I could barely hold my arms up over my head in chair pose.

It’s good to be sore, but at the same time a bit disappointing.  I’m going to do another yoga class on Sunday so hopefully that goes better 🙂

24 Feb

day 29: month 1: over

I didn’t to a weigh in last Wednesday because I was afraid that weighing in the morning after Fat Tuesday would be a bad idea. So I waited until this morning to step back on the scale.

Here are my results:

Start: Week 1: Week 2: Week 4:
Weight 153.6 lb 150.0 lb 150.8 lb 150.6 lb
Body Fat % 33.0% 31.5% 31.8% 31.7%
Muscle Mass % 33.0% 33.7% 33.6% 33.6%
Waist 81 cm 79 cm

Overall, from the very start of the month, I am really happy with my results. But all of my gains were in week 1 and I haven’t seen any results since. Is it possible to hit a plateau after one week?

Let’s reflect on the past four weeks shall we?

Things I haven’t done that need work:

– eat 1700 cal per day — I’m closer to 2000
– drink one or two glasses of water before each meal
– eat mindfully — I’m improving, but I still find myself in the kitchen grazing from time to time

Things I have done that I’m proud of:

– lifting heavy weights — I’m kicking ass and taking names at the gym… and I’m sore as hell.
– cut back on sugar and eat more veggies — especially because of Lent
– stopped binge eating — I only did this once in the past 4 weeks.

So I’m sorta half doing an okay job at changing my lifestyle. Does anyone have any tips on how I can jumpstart my progress again??

23 Feb

day 28: snack time

A few weeks back I read this cool article in the New York Times about snacks called Snack Time Never Ends. The article talks about how commonplace it has become to serve snacks at any possible children’s gathering: sporting events, meetings, clubs, etc. I don’t think it’s too far off to say that this is true for adults as well.

Back in 2006 when I was an intern at an actuarial consulting firm I gained about 5 lbs over 3 months. I entirely attribute this to the over abundance of snack provided to us in our meetings. Some days we would have meetings lasting the entire day and we were fed breakfast, 2 snacks, and lunch. Being a university student, I was never one to turn down free food, and thought it was awesome to have so many snacks during the day. Nonetheless I spent most of the day on a cycle of sugar highs to crashes that had me running to the (awesome all-u-can-drink Flavia) coffee machine.

Anyway, nowadays my snacking is a bit more tame although I do like my fair share of unhealthy snacks (hence the need for the bikini birthday). I thought I would ask: What are your favourite snacks, healthy or not? Here are some of mine:

Healthy Favourites:

  • Fresh fruit (especially bananas, pineapples, and apples)
  • All natural peanut butter, straight from the jar
  • Roasted almonds
  • Plain yoghurt with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey
  • Hummus with parsnips
  • Cottage cheese mixed with vanilla protein powder (my new favourite pre-workout snack)
  • Medjool date, pitted and stuffed with a Brazil nut
  • Mashed banana nuked in the microwave
  • Lindt Dark Chocolate
  • Sunmaid Raisins

Not-so-healthy favourites:

  • Ice cream
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Chocolate covered almonds
  • Bread and butter
  • Nutella, straight from the jar
  • Timbits
  • Hard Candy

Dinner tonight was made by chef Matt and my request: Curried Fish Stew. (I really like stew in the winter) It was really good but a bit heavy on the ghee.

Back the the hockey game. This is do or die tonight!

22 Feb

day 27: Gingerbread Muesli

Had I known I was going to wake up to 3” of snow and that Canada was going to lose the hockey game to the US, I probably would have made a warm, comforting bowl of oatmeal instead of the muesli I whipped up last night in anticipation of this morning’s breakfast. Nevertheless, my Gingerbread Muesli turned out pretty tasty and I tried to savour it slowly the same way I savour my hot oatmeal.

Gingerbread Muesli

• 1/3 c. quick oats
• 1/3 c. plain yoghurt
• 1 banana
• 1 tbsp of peanuts chopped fine
• 1 Medjool date
• 1/2 tsp molasses
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• Pinch of ground cloves

Mix it all up and leave in the fridge overnight for the next morning’s breakfast to soften the oats.

After work, I was more in the mood to go home and cuddle up with a book than to go to the gym, but I made I forced myself to go anyway to do some upper body training and a 40 minute interval run.
I’m on to week 5 of my new training program. The plan is: decrease the reps to no less than 6 and no more than 8 so I can increase the weight. I found it really difficult to find the right sized barbells and dumbbells to use for smaller muscle groups (biceps and triceps) since I can’t increase the weight by much. I tried a 50lb barbell for skullcrushers but could only push out 5 reps, but when I dropped down to a 45lb barbell I was more than maxing out my repetitions.

I think I need a workout partner to spot me on my upper body days. Twice a week after work for a couple of hours. Any takers?

Matt is tutoring again tonight so I’m happy to be making him a hearty and tasty (hopefully) dinner. It’s a one pot supper– Lamb and Winter Vegetable Stew. I have lamb, parsnips, sweet potato, squash, celery and onions stewing away with red wine, beef bouillon, and thyme as we speak. I love the taste of lamb, but I also love sheep. They’re my favourite animal. I try not to associate the two or I would never eat lamb again.

Matt just walked in the door. Dinner time!

21 Feb

day 26: cinnamon buns and solid food

Sunday means brunch at my in-laws. Brunch means solid food.  I was very excited to have brunch today: an english muffin with pb, cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, and couple of home-fries.  Mmmmm.

I also brought my homemade cinnamon buns to share with the in-laws at brunch today. I got this recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice baking book as I’m trying to bake my way through the whole book for the BBA Challenge put on my Pinch My Salt‘s blog. I didn’t frost them because I forgot to buy powdered sugar, but Matt’s mom prefers them un-frosted anyway.

On to the green smoothies:

Breakfast Smoothie:

  • 4 c. red swiss chard
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 3 Medjool dates
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tbsp greens powder
  • 2 c. water

Verdict: The dates add a great sweetness to this smoothie. The cucumber gives a cool, refreshing taste but it’s a bit overpowering. I think I would use less cucumber and maybe add more chard or a more neutral tasting green vegetable, like celery.

Dinner Smoothie:

  • 4 c. spinach
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 clementine, juiced
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp psyllium hulls
  • 1 tsp greens powder
  • 2 c. water

Verdict: Too watery. I always add 2 cups of water but for some reason this “smoothie” was more like a juice. The taste was predominantly ginger and cilantro, so if you don’t like cilantro (which, apparently, many people don’t) then you might want to substitute something else. A few sprigs of mint, perhaps?

Lent weekend 1: complete. I think I did really well with my green smoothie drinking this weekend. I didn’t ever feel full but I never felt like I was starving either. I definitely had cravings, though. I hated how the liquid meals affected my bladder that I was almost wishing for a catheter. Honestly, I’m holding it right now, just so I can finish writing this blog post!

I’m already looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning! Eggs, or oatmeal? I can’t quite decide. That’s okay, I have all night to dream about it! (Yes, I do dream about food, as a matter of fact.)

That’s enough blogging for tonight. Back to the hockey game. Come On, Canada!

20 Feb

day 25: it’s easy drinking green

On a Saturday morning the only thing that really gets me out of bed is breakfast. I’ll lie in bed thinking about what I’m going to eat and my excitement is what gets me up just a little earlier. This morning I was thinking “mmmmm…. oameal” until I remembered that I can only have green smoothies on the weekends for lent. I fell back asleep for another half hour. I didn’t feel too bad about it though because I was very productive today: I cleaned, I baked cinnamon rolls(!) for my family of course, I grocery shopped, I bathed Bagigis. All in all it was a Great Day!

I started the day with the juice of a quarter of a lemon mixed with half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and water to flush the liver and boost metabolism.

Breakfast Smoothie:

  • 5 cups spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp greens powder
  • 1/2″ piece of ginger
  • 2 c. cold water

Verdict: The banana wasn’t as ripe as I would have liked so there wasn’t a whole lot of sweetness to this smoothie. I think next time I’ll add more ginger to give it more flavour.

If you’re wondering about my kick-ass blender, it’s an Osterizer I stole from the back of the pantry at my dad’s house. Judging by it’s mustard yellow colour I would date it circa 1976. I’ll have to check with my dad on that one. In any case it still works awesome. They just don’t make appliances like they used to.

Lunch Smoothie:

  • 4 c. red swiss chard
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1/2 c. frozen blueberries
  • 1 pear
  • 2 tbsp dried coconut
  • 2 c. water

Verdict: Good. I love the mint in here– very refreshing. I thought the avocado would help it to be creamier but it was not as smooth as my breakfast smoothie, probably because there was no banana. Also, for some reason, this smoothie wasn’t as filling as breakfast.

Dinner Smoothie:

  • 4 c. spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Medjool date
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao
  • 2 c. water

Verdict: Super sweet! Maybe I put a bit too much fruit in this one, but it was much sweeter than I expected. …or maybe my taste buds have already adapted to the not-so-sweet smoothies. In any case this is more of a tasty sweet snack than a dinner.

19 Feb

day 24: weight gains

So today marked the last day of part one of my new weightlifting routine. For the last 4 weeks I have been doing the following exercises for no more than 12 reps each set. The next 4 weeks I will try to increase my weights by lowering my repetitions to no less than 6 and no more than 8.

I developed a spreadsheet that highlights by what percent I have improved the amount of weight I have been lifting. (Yes, I’m a nerd like that and yes I make spreadsheets for everything. Did I mention I’m an analyst?)

My biggest gains were standing calf raises. The gains I’m most proud of are assisted dips (because I can dip 80% of my body weight now), bench press (up to 95lbs), and dumbbell lunges (up to 30lbs). I used to do walking dumbbell lunges all the time but I find that it’s much harder to lunge then pull myself back into standing position than to lunge and push myself forward into another lunge.

I’m really happy with my improvements the last few weeks. Before this I don’t remember the last time I ever increased the amount of weight I was lifting. It much more motivational for me to keep a log of how many reps and how much weight I did for each set– it helps me reach my goals.

Check back this weekend to see what kind of green smoothies I’m drinking.