Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 7 - Pre-Christmas Challenge - End of the First Week


Already at Day 7!

The focus of this challenge for me has been, "What's a step I can take toward healthier living?" I had already been doing yoga sequences for over 100 days (still keeping it up! last night was 108) and felt the need for something new. I decided on a small food goal (eat raw in the mornings) and a small exercise goal (work on getting my glutes stronger to help my IT band). Right off the bat, it didn't really feel challenging enough and now that I'm on day 7, I have to say: it isn't.

One thing has been that the past few days, I have not been very hungry in the morning, which is unusual for me. Yesterday morning, I ate a banana. That was it. The morning before? I drank a glass of orange juice and ate half a banana. Having raw mornings has therefore been very easy BUT it's not actually helping me improve my intake of fruits and veggies because once the morning is done, I don't necessarily eat much in terms of fruits and veggies. The exercise part, I'm feeling the effects so that's all good, but the food...

This is my challenge today: Figure out a wording, a limit, something. Do I aim to just eat as much fruits and veggies as I can all day long? Do I say that I need to start every "eating session" with a fruit or veggie? Today's a super busy day for me, so figuring this out will be a challenge! As might actually remembering to do my exercises: had I not checked in last night and seen that my challenge wasn't just the raw food but also the exercises, I think I would have forgotten. lol

If you'd like to have your own challenge but didn't start the same day I did, that's totally fine--why don't you join me today? What's just one thing you could do each day to help you be healthier and/or fitter by Christmas?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 6 - Pre-Christmas Challenge

I'm still meeting my basic goals and did eat salad--twice--yesterday to meet yesterday's specific goal. If you haven't tried Mimi Kirk's raw caesar salad, I highly recommend it!!! Did end up drinking some pop while we were out. Ah well.

We are now at

I think I could use an espresso today. ;) I had a rough sleep. I'm trying to think of a challenge for the day and honestly, just making it through this day and making sure I eat raw this morning, do my exercises and yoga in the evening could be challenging enough. I am literally sitting here with a completely blank mind when I try to think of something extra to with which to challenge myself.

Actually, something's just come to mind: Don't give into temptations! When I'm tired like this, I'm most prone to turning to the chocolate chips or making other junk comfort foods. Oh, and white bread. While I've already had a no junk challenge day this week, I think today has to be another one for me. I can turn to green tea to wake me up a bit! But I am tired, so I need to try to plan ahead what I will eat or what we have in the house that I can eat for snack items: green smoothie, bananas, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, grapes, frozen blueberries (mmm, you just let them melt a little bit and eat them still somewhat frozen), salad, carrots, broccoli (my tired self goes, "Ugh, it's not washed and cut, too much work")... A lot of foods I can choose! Whether I remember this later on or not is another matter. Water. Water's another important one--it's easy to forget to drink enough when you're tired and getting enough water can even wake you up a bit. All right, hopefully I've pre-thought enough to avoid giving into temptations.

Do you turn to foods you shouldn't when you're tired? What do you do when getting more sleep just isn't an option?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pay Attention to Labels

I was doing just fine this morning with orange juice, 1/2 of a banana, lots of water (I really wasn't hungry this morning), then had the Caesar salad I mentioned in my previous post. Felt great. I decided to have a gluten-free blueberry muffin I bought from Superstore yesterday. I had had one last night and noticed it was quite sweet. Tasted more like cake than a muffin. I still had one after my lunch today. It's a muffin, right?

It didn't take long for my energy levels to drop. I would really like a nap right now, to be honest, and yet I felt fine not more than 20 minutes ago. Before I had the so-called muffin. I had looked at the label at the store but only to see if there was any milk in it. I looked at the label today after my sugar low to see just what's in this stuff. First ingredient? Sugar. GAH. And now I have the all-too-familiar "sugar headache" starting up. I don't recall having had one last night, but my food intake this morning, being "purer", if you will than what I had for supper last night, the sugar content went straight to me. Time for more water to help flush it out.

Scanning labels for forbidden ingredients isn't enough! Must pay attention to all ingredients!

Do you have a story of a time you bought something without properly reading a label?

Day 5 -- Pre-Christmas Challenge: Eat a Salad!

Already at

So far so good here. I've been meeting all my general challenge goals (raw mornings, exercises to help strengthen glutes to help with IT band problems, still keeping up the yoga) including the daily extra challenge. I got 8 cups of water yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have been enough. When I got several days without enough and get dehydrated, rehydration seems to require more. I am soooo thirsty this morning, it's just crazy. I'm not even hungry, I just want water and am probably on my third cup already (it's only 8:30 am here).

I did stay away from junk yesterday, too, to carry over the previous day challenge. That made three days in a row because I didn't have any junk on Saturday, even though it wasn't set up as a challenge then. I am already feeling somehow better than I've felt in sometime, even though my neck glands are super swollen today. Hard to know if it's my system clearing out due to the improved food consumption, the fact that it's that time of year where illness about and 5 of my 11 students yesterday did not show up due to illness, or a combination thereof. I don't have a desire at the moment to say okay to junk. Why would I want to mess it up by succumbing to sweets that give me headaches or junk that just makes me feel gross? Although, really, corn Tostitos and Daiya cheese don't make me feel blah, but dang, the salt and fat content can't be good for me as a regular part of my diet! I keep toying with the idea of cutting out junk completely, to thinking that I'm not against the occasional treat--and a treat that doesn't make me feel worse (Sarma's truffles don't affect me negatively at all, for example)--just against the idea of having bad treats every single day, which is what I had slipped into. I suppose raw treats would be the thing to really allow myself.

In any case, enough of that rambling!

Are you following along? Did you do the water challenge yesterday?

What to do for Day 5? I was thinking last night today is a good day to do something extra for physical activity. But then I caused a minor back spasm before going to bed and this morning, my one knee is not cooperating. My back isn't in spasm anymore, but I massaged my lower back this morning just to see and the whole area is super tender. So, pushing myself more physically is out of the question today!  It's already a challenge to go up and down the stairs. lol. I figured another food choice could be good. And salad sounds delicious, probably because it's been (shamefully) days since I had one. My challenge today, therefore, is to eat a salad! Our bodies will thank us! I'll be taking the time to make Mimi Kirk's Raw Caesar Salad. It is sooooo good and very worth the effort! I know I've shared it before but dang, it really is that good!

Written recipe: I use Bragg's instead of Tamari and it works just fine!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 4 - Pre-Christmas Challenge: Water!

Like all other flowers (lol), I need water. Every so often, actually, fairly often, I don't make sure to get enough water. When I don't, like other flowers, I wilt. And I sometimes set up problems with my sinuses and get nasty headaches, too.

Today being Monday, let me look ahead at a typical Monday and my water consumption: Monday afternoons, I teach a French class to a group of homeschooled children. With preparation and busyness in the morning, my attention on the class for the full two hours of the class in the afternoon, and then I rush off to pick up my nieces and nephew from school, a process that takes about an hour, I have a tendency to not drink enough water on Mondays.

Not getting enough water is a common problem, it seems. How many health resources out there say, "Drink your water!" It's important for so many reasons:

  • your skin (especially with winter hitting us here in the northern hemisphere and dare I say, very clearly here in the north-central Canadian prairies)
  • your brain's ability to think
  • your digestion
  • your kidneys and liver
  • inflammatory conditions (sinusitis, arthritis, etc.) become worse when you get even a little bit dehydrated
  • many cite it as important for weight loss
  • so much more... 

It's important to drink your water! Maybe you can't have filtered water or bottled water or whatever. Getting enough water is important regardless of the quality. (Says the person who's issues yesterday came from days of not getting enough!) So this is my challenge to you today: Drink at least 8 glasses of water! Fill a pitcher with the amount you are going to drink during the day, keep tally somewhere, do something to make sure it happens. I find I tend to do even better when I drink more than that, but it does depend on what I've eaten during the day.

Doing this a little differently, I'll end this post with my Day 3 recap:

I posted early morning (early morning for here) yesterday, but I already had a sinus headache causing me problems. Part of this issue seems to be tied to my neck muscles, which I tried to work on with my yoga the night before, but clearly all kinds of different factors mixed together and left me almost incapacitated. It's not the level of pain in my right sinus but somehow just how the pain was, if that makes any sense. I had at times pressure and pain going in behind my eye, into my ears, no balance at all if I was standing and my eyes were closed... I thought about my self-imposed challenge and how would I be able to do the exercise if I was in that state?  I tried alternate-nostril breathing (a yoga technique) which helped clear some things out a bit, but didn't do enough. I tried to find trigger points and massage them. I tried massaging my head, which felt fantastic, but only went so far. I tried taking two Advil; it might have helped take the edge off a bit. Typical OTC sinus medications are not an option for me (ended up in emergency last time with severe heart palpitations!) A few people have told me a neti pot is the way to go when it flares up like this, but I don't have one. I finally ended up with a heated magic bag on my neck and base of my head, propped up in a specific way on the couch where it still hurt a bit, but I could function, at least function as much as I needed to laying on a sofa with a laptop. Sitting in a normal position meant me constantly massaging my head and around my eyes and cheekbone. It wasn't fun. And the sad thing is that it was the second time this past week. The other time? Thursday evening, after a day of 4 hours of French classes and getting even less water than usual.

You see where my recommended challenge is coming from today? Do not do as I have done! Especially if you have sinus issues!

I was hungry and decided I had to eat. This was before trying everything to ease up the pressure. I had some of Ani Phyo's coconut breakfast cake batter left, so I plopped it on a plate, put some maple syrup and... could barely eat any. Made me feel sick to my stomach. After easing up the sinus issues, I was able to finish it but still didn't have much of a desire to eat, even though my stomach was saying it wanted food. It did, however, make it easy to be raw for the morning. (I know maple syrup isn't raw, but that's a nitpicky thing I don't count. Just like the pasteurized orange juice that goes into my green smoothies.)

The avoiding junk was hard. Because I was feeling blah and tired, I really wanted junk. I saw frozen tart shells in the deep freezer. "Mmmm, 'butter' tarts would be delicious." Then I thought about making chocolate chip cookies. Neither times did it hit me they would be considered 'junk'. When it did hit me and I was still craving something, I thought about making Sarma Melngailis's chocolate coconut truffles and was so close to making them when a little voice said, "Wouldn't that count as junk, too?" Does it? I don't know. I decided it wasn't the healthiest way to satisfy the craving, so I didn't make them. But boy, was it difficult to stand against it! I eventually made myself a little trail mix with raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds and some raisins.

Late afternoon, my headache and sinus pain had eased enough that I could do some other things, but not too much. In retrospect, a day with the laptop helped me read blogs I haven't read in a while, blog, and write something like 4800 words for NaNoWriMo. The things I can get done when I'm not busy with everything else!

It hit me that I had still to do my exercises. I finally managed to get to them. I decided to still focus on my glutes, but I kind of created my own sequence from different exercises. I just think it's important to not do the exact same thing every single day. I also did some yoga.

Despite most of the day being very rough, I still managed to accomplish everything I set out to do--including avoiding the junk! A little voice is saying to me, "Avoid it today, too!" I might as well. But the main focus will be the raw food in the morning (I don't even know what I have in the house, eek!), get the exercises in and water.

Are you going to make sure you hydrate yourself enough today?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 3 - Pre-Christmas Challenge: Avoid the junk!

I made it through Day 2 successfully! After finishing my post yesterday morning, I was thinking I hadn't really challenged myself enough. It was just too easy. Well, apparently, Day 1 was the honeymoon period for me!

By the time I finally got around to having breakfast, I was so hungry, I was just going to go with cereal or toast. When I remembered I wanted to start my day off with as much raw as I could handle, my insides did the whole childish, whiny, "Ugh." Good grief.  I did make myself a green smoothie and had a few bites of some leftover flaxseed coconut "cakes" (Ani Phyo's version of pancake) before heading out. Got home, had some more smoothie and that took me until lunch.

My smoothie was baby spinach, orange juice, water (not yet added in above picture), a banana, frozen blueberries and frozen raspberries. I also sprinkled some hemp seeds in it. With the raspberries, it was quite tart, so I added in some agave and saw the coconut oil there on the shelf, so added some of that in, too.

That part of the challenge taken care of, I kept reminding myself about the exercise: I needed to do it before we left for a family birthday party. I had a nap, got up, did not warm up at all (silly me) and went straight to the sequence I did on Day 1. That was a challenge. I feel like such a weakling. :( I could barely even do one set of 10 for the one exercise. (No wonder my IT band is messed up!) But I stuck with it and did a set of 10 for each one, trying to pay attention to form. I was feeling a little stiff yesterday from the previous session, despite having done yoga stretching right afterwards. I am even stiffer today! But that's good: it means it's working. lol. I know some say to take a day off between target muscle sessions, but I've also read the opposite: it can be better for women to not push quite as hard and to do some every day. Something to do with our muscle structure, it's just better for us, as well as helps keep the muscles leaner looking. I'll try to see if I can find something online about it and share it here. I read the article years ago!

Part two of the challenge was therefore taken care of! I wasn't feeling anymore like I wasn't challenging myself enough. Part three is yoga, which gotten taken care of after we got back from the party and before bed.

So, despite deciding that maybe I have given myself at least a bit of a challenge with my goals, I've decided to take each day to add a challenge that's just for that day. I do, after all, want to ideally lose 10 lbs (even 5 lbs would be fantastic) which isn't going to happen just with the goals I've set for myself. The day's challenge can carry over, but it doesn't have to. Today's challenge, and I invite you to join me on it, is to avoid the junk. My junk lately has been leftover Halloween candy, chocolate chips, these yummy cookies we bought, corn Tostitos with Daiya cheese... None of that today! Oy!

What's your junk of late? You think you can manage to avoid it for a day?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 2 of the Pre-Christmas Challenge

Did you join me in starting a pre-Christmas challenge? What did you decide to do?

Recall that my goals were:

1) Start the day off with raw food (trying to have nothing but raw all morning).
2) Do some exercises for my ITBS issues/tone my glutes.
3) Maintain the yoga habit I already have

How'd I do for day 1?

*I drank green smoothie--orange juice, water, banana, baby spinach and frozen blueberries--all morning, so that goal was achieved!

*I did some searching for ITBS exercises. Some people swear by them, others don't. I eventually just picked a routine I found in an October 2011 issue of Fitness magazine. There is an online version here: 

Because my glutes are so out of shape, I did only one set of each exercise and only 10 reps per set. I know my glutes are going to feel it!

*Followed up with some yoga.

Friday's fitness and food goals achieved! That is not to say that I ate super well later on... I'll have to be careful or I'll sabotage the good I do in the morning. At the same time, I know from past experience that once I get into a habit of morning being pretty much only raw, I turn to the crud less. In any case, it was very easy to achieve. Perhaps too easy, but if I can stick with this easy stuff, it's still a step better than what I've been doing for ages.

One thing I did look up was Egoscue itbs and Pilates itbs. Both methods can apparently help with ITBS. Egoscue is usually best done first thing in the morning. I'm thinking I might use my Pilates book and start doing that, especially the legs sequence, before yoga. If I do a Pilates sequence would then not be getting just a legs/butt routine, but a whole body workout. Sounds good to me! Of course, I can mix it up between the Pilates and the Egoscue and the butt-shaping exercises above.

Now onto:

Day 2

It's Saturday today, which means, for me, there's no real routine. Every Saturday is different for some reason. I have NaNoWriMo to fit in today, I have to go to the library, stop at the grocery store, avoid all the other stores during the newly founded Canadian "Black Friday weekend sales", get laundry done, all the usual. We have a family birthday party tonight, which means we likely won't be home until late. Fitting in 5-10 minutes of yoga before jumping in bed is doable; adding on actual exercise might not be. I think I need to consider doing Pilates or the sequence shared above during the day rather than in the evening, at least for today. Of course, I also need to make sure to get as much raw as I can this morning!

But right now, I'm going to indulge in a little me-time and play Sims 3. :)

Btw, it's never too late to join me! Why don't you set yourself a pre-Christmas goal and share?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pre-Christmas Challenge

The other day, I celebrated my 100th day in a row of daily yoga! I had set a goal, was determined to reach it and did. No, I still haven't dropped the yoga: yesterday was day 102.

I feel the need for another goal, something other than the NaNoWriMo I'm also currently working on and whose writing habit I would like to keep up when it's done. Something physical. Christmas is in 31/32 days (we start on the 24th in my family) and that seems like a decent amount of time to make some sort of physical progress. But what do I want to do? That's what I'm here to babble about.

My yoga goal worked because, for whatever reason, there was this determination to do it. I knew yoga was something that would help me a lot with my ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome), even if it was for nothing more than 5 minutes some days. And it has helped tremendously. I'm now scared to stop doing yoga each day because of how much it has helped. But that determination was there and I'm not sure how to create that sort of determination, kwim?

I think we often set ourselves goals that sound good or are things we think we should do, but because we're not properly connected, properly determined, we don't do what we need to do to accomplish that goal. I had such strong determination to accomplish that goal that there were a few times we'd gotten home late, I'd gotten into bed and realized I hadn't done my yoga that day. Well, it was either start over or pull myself out of bed and get it done. I did the latter. That's the kind of determination I want on my next goal!

So, with that in mind, I'm thinking it's got to be about something I do rather than something I don't do. For example, "No more junk food." Well, I know myself. Maybe you're like me: You set that goal and you're busy or distracted and take something out of habit and before you realize what you're doing or remember your goal,  it's too late--that bite is in your mouth and down into your stomach.

One thought I had in the shower this morning was a weekly progression. Have it all written out, maybe with reminders in iCal or even my cell phone. It could be a food thing, which is something I do want to improve on because it's not been fantastic lately and I've been getting illness after illness. (Flu and pink eye at the same time a few weeks ago! :( ) It shows up in my one thumbnail. I tried to take a picture, but I can't get it to show up right. Whenever I get sick, it's like my thumbnail doesn't form quite right under the cuticle and as it grows out, there are these lines. They kind of look like Beau's lines, but aren't quite the same. It's like a form of splitting horizontally on the surface. Sometimes it's just a little thing a couple millimetres long; other times the line covers over half the width of the nail. When it gets to the point of being almost grown out, I always have to cut the nail short because it's just a mess. I had gone for sometime that I had only one little mark on that nail. I have signs of 4 periods of illness on that nail now. And for someone whose nails grow quickly, that's not good.

Excuse my Friday morning babbling. Back to what I was saying: I had the thought in the shower of having some sort of progression rather than 31 days of the same goal. So, week 1 would have a food and exercise goal (other than yoga); week 2 would bump it up a bit; and so on. I'm not sure it's wise to have a food and exercise goal, but at the same time, I'm thinking, "Hey, I managed to do 100 (102) days of yoga; surely I can manage two simple, yet progressive, goals?" And I know it all comes down to my determination. Am I determined to do this? Maybe once I figure out the goal I will be able to answer that question. ;)

Food goal ideas: raw mornings (at least, as much as I can handle), progressing to raw mornings and lunches, progressing to... Hm.

Exercise goals: My mind's all over the place with this one. I know there are some exercises that would very much benefit my ITBS. Part of my problem is my glutes are not up to snuff, which is kind of sad since I did figure skating years ago and pre-pregnancies, kind of liked my derrière. (lol. Did I just admit that?) With pregnancies, posture shifted, those muscles--gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius--did not get properly used. I could see a simple first week goal of having an exercise sequence that I do before yoga.

Maybe that's as far as I should go for now? My first week? Get through the first week and keep that as the minimum I do? It might not seem like it would do much, such small goals like that for 30 days, but building the habit will help me much more than creating a more challenging goal that I can't stick to. I can have a minimum requirement--and then desired "add-ons", like 10 minutes on the treadmill or a strength training sequence I've found or 5 minutes of skipping rope... I just need to take the next step(s) right now. Especially with the craziness of Christmas preparation ahead!

What would my ideal be? Well... :D I would love to be 10 lbs down from where I am now by Christmas. I know at least 5 of those lbs are water that are the result of my food choices/sensitivities. So, really, I have at most 5 lbs of fat to lose. (And really, it could be I have 10 lbs of water retention to lose...) I would love for my glutes to be toned. There is no tone to them right now, let me be honest about this. I would love to just feel healthy and stronger.

Now to the important question: Am I determined to make this next step? Am I determined to start each day eating raw? Am I determined to do those glutes exercises each and every day for improvement with my ITBS and a more tone? *pause* Yes. Yes, I am. Let me get started right away! Let this be Day 1. Day 31 will be Dec. 23. I'm thinking I ought to share daily my progress--it would be a great way to make sure that I stick with this and keep thinking about it. I used my FB account for my yoga challenge; I don't feel much like sharing this challenge in FB. But I know that having the accountability in FB helped me stick with the yoga during the first month: I didn't want to have to admit to them that I'd missed a day and had to start over! This blog will be my accountability for this pre-Christmas challenge of mine. And if you would like to join me with your own challenge, please do--and share in the comments! :D