A follow up on my juice cleanse: some observations from last week, and a few more tips

obviously the only thing to do when your friends are drinking wine and you are on a juice cleanse is bring your juice to the wine bar and ask for a glass. (I love small town life)

obviously the only thing to do when your friends are drinking wine and you are on a juice cleanse is bring your juice to the wine bar and ask for a glass. (I love small town life)

I thought I’d write a follow up on my juice cleanse experience and keep everyone updated on the progress. Firstly, I took a fair amount of photos, however my phone committed suicide on Sunday (or I dropped it and it died, whatever) so I lost all of my pictures from last week. I did post a quite a few of them to instagram, so if you’d like to see some pictures of things like beet juice, you can find my profile here

The cleanse was pretty amazing actually, and somewhere around day 4, I was I decided to extend the experience for two days and just do a full week. I mean if you are juicing for 5 days you can juice for seven, so why not? I had an excess of produce (though I did have to buy more carrots, cilantro, apples, and 1 pineapple), an excess of energy, and thankfully I was working some shorter shifts, so I had plenty of time to juice.

I woke up on Monday and felt like I could do anything. I just went for an entire week without eating solid food, caffeine, added sugar, meat, dairy, and alcohol. I was 100% plant based, and I didn’t get hungry once!  I was pumped. You know that song from The Sound of Music that the crazy old nun sings? “Climb Every Mountain!”  This was  playing in my head on repeat like my victory chant on Monday morning… (though I just looked up all the lyrics, and not just the first verse that has been on repeat all week, and it doesn’t really so much apply, because its about finding your dreams and chasing rainbows and stuff… Eye of the Tiger might work a little better… but maybe if I just stick with “Climb Every Mountain!!!” over and over again  it accurately portrays how I felt on Monday morning.  Though I just sang it out loud right now for emphasis, and the dog looked at me like I was bat shit crazy.)  Needless to say, You go for a week without eating real food, and you pretty much feel amazing, and its an empowering thing. So sing yourself some sort of victory song.

Here are some other observations from last week. (I’m making these as I remember them, they are in no way in order of importance/ interest)

Firstly:I lost seven pounds, can I get a what what!? I wasn’t doing to cleanse to lose weight as much as I was to hit a restart on my metabolism, but the weight loss was an added bonus.  I could tell by day two that I was less bloated, and people (ok my dad) told me my face looked thinner.  My jeans… well they fit exactly the same (how is that possible? I blame my dryer) and I’m sure a lot of what came off was water weight. I felt like I was going  pee about every 45 minutes, but hello,  it was a 7 day liquid diet.

Secondly:  My fears were confirmed and I’m 95% sure I have an allergy to gluten. People have been telling me years that my eczema might be gluten related, and I’ve only sort of listened to them, because who wants to have a gluten allergy? No one. Croutons are practically one of my food group, and bread and butter is like manna… I suspected that coming off gluten would do some good things for my body (ie goodbye belly bloat) but I was also thinking that an obscene amount of toxins would be seeping out of my pores, so I was mentally prepared to be an eczema covered, pimply version of myself last week.  Surprise! My skin looks great, and by day two, there were no signs of dragon skin. My eczema was 100% gone. It’s bitter sweet. I mean how awesome that I was able to fix the problem… but I’m still not ready to let go of my gluten addiction… Don’t get me wrong, I’m cutting way back, and opting for gluten free on a lot of things (have any of you tried the gluten free pizza at Red Hills Market? It is insanely good… like even the chef tends to eat gluten free pizza rather than regular.)   Anyway, I’m cutting back on my gluten intake, and we’ll see how it goes.

Surprisingly enough my skin didn’t break out either. I’m choosing to believe this was because I was oil pulling and all the toxins were being pulled out of my mouth before they could erupt through my pores. I have nothing to back this up, and I could be full of shit,  but I’m sticking with my theory anyway. That, and the fact that I was drinking a ton of water, which his always good for your skin.

Thirdly: I have no idea why, but my lips have never been so chapped in my entire life, it seems like an odd observation, but my juicing buddy noticed the same thing… it might be a coincidence (and weird since we were very well hydrated) but maybe keep some lip balm on you if you are starting a juice cleanse.

Fourthly: Hello energy. Like crazy amounts of energy. I was already a night owl, but I felt like I could come home after work and actually be productive. I was waking up in the morning and not feeling groggy, I was 100% fine without having coffee! If you know anyone in my family, you will agree that this is a shocking thing. Its not a matter of if we are going for coffee, but when we are going for coffee.  Its practically pumping through our veins… add to that the fact that RHM serves stumptown and one of our work perks is free coffee with every shift… I’m almost never without it.

I’m going to go off on a little tangent here and say that I do not want to have children (bear with me, I’ll bring it back around.) I’ve never really had the desire to grow a human. I reserve the right to change my mind someday, maybe… and its perfectly possible that I will meet a man, and decide that I’m baby crazy and want to have a gaggle of tiny humans (only probably not, because the only way that more than one is coming out of me is if they are twins or whatever). For example if say Ben Jacobsen decided that he wanted me to be the mother of a child to inherit his salt empire… I might consider it… We’d probably have an adorable ginger baby.  (I will stop there. I don’t know Ben that well, and we are having dinner next month, and I don’t want him to think that I’m a total creeper who is blogging about having his babies…  I want him to think that I’m a witty, well adjusted, total not creeper who is blogging about having his babies… sometimes people don’t get my sense of humor OR my sarcasm… All I can say is, they are not my people.) Anyway, I am all for other people having babies, and to all of my friends/relatives who have recently had offspring, and who are planning on reproducing I DO really like your kids/ will like your kids… and I like some other people’s kids… but not most other peoples kids… ok before I dig myself into an even deeper hole, I’m bringing this back around to say that one of the reasons I have such a strong aversion to growing my own tiny human (there is a really long list of aversions, this is just one of many) is the whole giving up caffeine thing. *

I always assumed that it would be nearly impossible for me to do, and that it would be a slow and painful process in which I wanted to die, and was planning on taking everyone else down with me… Turns out, it wasn’t that bad, I only got two headaches, and I was off it for 8 days! (“Climb Every Mountain!!!”)

Fifthly:  I’m not craving sugar anymore.  Mostly I’ve been more of a savory person anyway, but over the holidays I was doing my fare share of indulging in hot chocolate, caramels etc.  The juice cleanse really helped me to quit the sugar, and now my body is craving more greens and whole foods than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still planning on making a trip to Sprinkefingers next week, and eating handfuls of gumdrops (it’s a good fantasy) but the important thing is that I’m no longer craving the sugar (fantasizing and craving are two entirely different things.)

Sixthly:  I noticed a lot about my eating habits, and how a lot of the time I eat when I’m not hungry… I really enjoy eating, I think most of us do, but sometimes I do it out of boredom, and sometimes it is honestly just a reflex. I can’t tell you how many times I went over to my parent’s house an instinctively went to reach for a handful of almonds… not because I was hungry, but because that is what I always do when I’m over there because there is a bowl of them on the kitchen counter. I do this at work all the time too with cookies, salads, spoonful’s of whipped cream… it’s a habit, and hopefully a habit that this juice cleanse was able to break. I’m now much more aware of what I’m putting into my body, and listening for when I’m actually hungry. I’m also being better about guzzling water anytime I feel that snack grabbing reflex kick in.  It’s a little change, but awareness is half the battle.

I did forget a few pieces of advice in my post last week about gearing up for a juice cleanse, so here they are now.

1)   use the buddy system. It is so much easier to stay accountable and on track if you are juicing with a friend. Especially when you work in a restaurant surrounded by delicious things, and some of your co-workers are jerks and keep eating things like bacon jam in front of you.  Yes, your family probably supports you, and in the end you are doing it for your own reasons, but there are always going to be the people out there who are a little bit annoyed at your for not eating, who don’t understand it, and who sometimes say dumb things like “well it’s your choices not to eat!” or who try to get you to fall off the wagon.  Its really helpful to have someone else who is going through the same thing that you are, and who will actually be 100% over the moon for you when you finish strong, and will whole heartedly share in your success. (because “Climb Every Mountain” should be sung as a duet. Duh) A huge shout out to my co-worker Lindsey who did the first five days of juicing with me, who lost 8 pounds, and who did it all while still feeing her husband and children, and also working all five of those days in the restaurant. I’m pretty sure I would have probably faltered/ at least had a handful of chips or something if I had all of those factors involved in my juice cleanse.

2)   As much as you can, try to get rid of “Temptations” from your fridge and pantry beforehand. Sometimes it is unavoidable, and sometimes you still have to cook for your family etc. But I cannot tell you how nice it was to come home and know that I didn’t have bags of chips, or cartons of leftovers begging me to eat them.

3)   Hazelnut milk saved my bacon.  I think one of the reasons my juice cleanse was so successful, and why I didn’t have any hunger pangs, and didn’t feel like death for the first few days (minus that caffeine headache on day one… I didn’t wean off early enough) was that my last “juice” of the day was actually home made hazelnut milk. I think protein is vital, and having a relatively thick and delicious treat like beverage every night was pretty amazing. Hazelnut milk is super easy to make (it just takes a little time.)

 

* I know that not wanting to give up caffeine is not a valid reason to not want to be pregnant. I also know that a lot of women drink caffeine throughout their entire pregnancy, and their babies are normal, and caffeine isn’t as bad as some other things. Considering my family, my offspring would probably be addicted to coffee at birth anyway, I think its genetic anyway, so I’d probably be fine slurping cold brew by the gallon…   I also know that I’ve been watching a whole lot of Mad Men, and seeing all the pregnant ladies who are drinking gimlets and smoking cigarettes, and I’m starting to wonder how there isn’t an entire generation of completely f*ed up people.

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5 tips for at home juicers

 

$141 worth of produce

$141 worth of produce

Here we are, day one of Juice Cleanse extravaganza 2014 (It’s a working title) I’m going to spend the next five days not eating solid food, living off of juice, water, tea, and coconut water! Hooray! (no really, I’m excited) This will be my 3rd juice cleanse, and by far the longest, and though I’m a little nervous (I work in a restaurant surrounded by amazingly delicious things all the time… hello temptation) I’m mostly just ready to get this show on the road.

I wrote out menus for each day, made a grocery list, and made a few decisions about what sort of cleanse I was going to do.  After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to try and do all organic. I’m not about to get on my high horse and preach the benefits of organic eating, but eating organic whenever possible makes a lot of sense to me, and especially when juicing. Juice allows the nutrients to enter into your blood stream rather quickly, because your body doesn’t have to break down any fiber etc. Call me crazy, but it seems like anything that is essentially going to be directly entering your blood stream should be organic (I know my logic is flawed. But so what!)

And even though I’m on a tight budget I figured I would let myself splurge on organic. After all, I don’t have a family to support, I won’t be going out all week, and I won’t have expenses like coffee, takeout, and sadly I won’t have Wine Wednesday.  I set a budget for myself, and shopped around a little and tried to find the best bargains. This was a little labor intensive, and I ended up going to 5 different stores, but overall I was successful.  (I know five stores sounds like a lot. I could have narrowed it down, but I knew some stuff I wanted to get in bulk, some stuff I could only find at Whole Foods, some stuff I knew Trader Joe’s had at an excellent price… This is why planning is key. ) I couldn’t find organic grapes, and I opted to get a case of Meyer lemons at Costco rather than conventional organic lemons. I also did not buy organic fennel bulb ( I feel like I’m confessing my sins… but its my blog, so I’m not going to justify why I bought the fennel that I did..) And I was able to get everything I’m going to need for 5 days (and then some) for $141. I This breaks down to $28/ day.  Manageable. (my professional juice cleanse ended up being about $50 a day including delivery, so I’m thrilled with $28).

 

super delicious OM juice from Portland Juice Press

super delicious OM juice from Portland Juice Press

golden beets, meyer lemons, ginger and turmeric root, kale.

golden beets, meyer lemons, ginger and turmeric root, kale.

I’m not planning on eating anything, though I might supplement with chia seeds, coconut oil and, depending on how the first few days go, nuts.  I’m also going to practice oil pulling while I’m on my cleanse. I haven’t done any research about a combination of the two, but it seems as though they would go hand in hand. (you can read more about oil pulling here.)  I know that my hardest day will likely be Tuesday, since I’m working a 10 hour shift. If I can make it through a day at the restaurant, and a staff meeting where everyone is drinking beer and eating cheese, than I can make it through anything.

I thought a bit about what I wanted to say in this post, and decided that I’m not going to ramble on about how wonderful juicing is, why I’m doing it, the health benefits, the pros and cons etc. I’m not a nutritionist /doctor/health coach/ expert in any sense of the word, and there are about nine gazillion other websites and blogs you can visit to get menus, facts, benefits etc. I really like the way juicing makes me feel, and after the holidays my entire life feels like it needs a mini-detox.

I am going to offer up 5 pieces of advice for anyone who is embarking on, or thinking about embarking on a juice cleanse, and hopefully these little nuggets of information will help make your life a little easier.

1)   Do your research. Whether you are going to be juicing at home, or juicing through a company, you need to spend a little time looking into things. How much will it cost? Do they deliver? what kind of juicer are you going to get? How long will the juice last? Do you have time to juice?  These are all pretty basic questions, and all things you should probably have a pretty good grasp on before you commit to a cleanse.   My first 3 day cleanse was through Portland Juice Press, and I really cannot say enough good things about it. They were so wonderful to work with, they offered a group rate, delivered it all the way to us in Dundee, and the best part is that there is no mess. You don’t have to spend hours a day making juice and cleaning up, you just open up your fridge every few hours and reach for the juice. They even tell you what order to drink them in. The flavors were really interesting, the juice was satisfying, and the entire process was pretty much painless.   From there I became a little addicted, and since I’m an hour outside of the city, I decided to invest in my own juicer.  There are countless different brands, makes, and models out there, so again you really have to know what it is you are looking for in a juicer. My priorities were juice quality, and easiness to clean.  I ended up with the Omega 8006 juicer, and I’m so in love. A little on the pricey side, but it has 15 year warrantee, is super easy to clean, and it is what they call a masticating juicer. Essentially it crushes the juice using a very slow rpm, which helps keep the juice from oxidizing, and it maintains more of the healthy enzymes and benefits. Juice from a masticating juicer also has a longer shelf life, so you have up to 72 hours to drink your juice (other types they recommend consuming the juice right away or within 24 hours) This type of juicer is perfect for doing a cleanse because you can make juice for a couple of days in advance. Once you know what you are wanting out of a juice cleanse/ juicer it is easier to commit. Also keep in mind that juicing is not a quick process. You are going to need to block off some time to make the juice (its like cooking) you have to chop everything, juice it, clean the juicer etc… If you are going to be juicing for the entire day, it could take up to two hours ( including all the prep and clean up…masticating juicer do go a little bit slower, but they also extract more juice.)

2)   Make a Plan: sit down and write a menu. Seriously, treat it like you would a dinner party. List out all the days and exactly what juices you are planning on making (you can always switch it up) and from there make a grocery list. Its easy to see exactly what you are going to need once everything is listed out, and once the grocery list is made its easy to write out notes about where you are going to look for each item. Spending 15 minutes making a menu and grocery list will make it so easy once you are actually out shopping, especially if you have to go to multiple stores, you will know exactly what you need to get.

3)   Plan Ahead (this goes hand in hand with Make a plan).  Though I’m sure there are people who just jump into a detox like this, I think you will be a lot happier with the results and the entire process if you take a little time before and after the cleanse to make some minor changes to your diet and lifestyle. For me the biggest things to cut out in advance are alcohol and caffeine.(  Of course it is recommended to cut out dairy, meet etc. beforehand, and to try and eat a clean and unprocessed diet at least a few days in advance) All I know is that I drink a lot of coffee, and the last thing I want to do is be on a juice cleanse while suffering from caffeine headaches. Save yourself the headache (sorry, couldn’t resist) and get off caffeine a few days before you start. I switched to tea about a week ago, and stopped caffeine entirely two days before.  Look at your calendar, because the last thing you want is to be in the middle of a juice cleanse while you are out at a birthday party, wedding, or other social engagement. I mean its fine, its not like you are on house arrest when you are juicing, but if everyone around you is drinking, eating, and having a grand old time, you will probably hate your life a little bit, and be tempted to cheat.   Also, clean out your refrigerator before you go shopping.  You are going to need to place to store the produce, and all the juice, and it takes up quite a bit of space.  How are you going to store your juice? (I personally use mason jars, they are the perfect size for one 16ish oz serving, and they fit well in the fridge) Are all your jars clean?

4)   Drink so much water. Seriously. Drink it. You are essentially releasing a ton of toxins from your body, and they need to be flushed out. They are looking for any way to get out of your body, and chances are they are going to be flooding out of your pores (breakouts, and bad breath are common side effects of juicing because of this) drink water, drink water, drink water.   (this is probably the hardest part for me. Especially when I’m at work, and literally have to get someone to cover my station every time I go to the bathroom. Its not like I can discretely slip away and have no one notice, I actually have to tell someone, sometimes multiple people “hey I’m going pee, cover the front”  On normal days this is fine, but on busy days there are lines out the door, and sometimes abandoning your post, even for a 2 minutes bathroom break, just isn’t happening. )

5)   Make your own rules, and give yourself a break.  Juicing is hard, and you know your body. If you need to eat, then eat. You have just stocked up on all this great stuff to put in your juice, if you absolutely need a snack, then eat one of the oranges, have a handful of nuts, do what you need to do, and don’t judge yourself for it. I always carry a handful of almonds in my bag when I’m doing a juice cleanse, just incase I need a little boost of texture and protein.  Maybe on your juice fast you juice during the day and have a healthy meal at night. Maybe you eat nuts and solids all day. Maybe you are just juicing as a supplement. Find what works for you. Also have fun, try some new ingredients! Have you juiced asparagus? Tumeric root?

*Side Note:  Because I feel like it has to be addressed, because everyone always asks me in person: Does a juice cleanse make you poop a lot/ give you the runs? Though it seems of-putting to be talking about brown-towning in a blog about juicing/ being healthy, I get why people ask that question.  My simple answer is: everybody poops. Lets just think about it… you are drinking liquid for days… what do you think that would do to your bowel movements? Everyone’s bodies and eating habits are different, and I think if you eat enough fiber on a regular basis you aren’t going to really notice a big difference.  Some days were looser than others, and I’m just going to leave it at that. I never felt like I had to stay close to a restroom, or like I couldn’t go out and do things, there were no emergencies.

 

And just because I don’t want to end a blog post with everyone thinking about bowel movements here  is a recipe for one of my favorite juices .

5 carrots

¾ of a red bell pepper

1 apple

1 inch of turmeric root

 

cranberry, orange, fennel bulb, pomegranate

cranberry, orange, fennel bulb, pomegranate

 

golden beet, carrot, orange, fennel bulb and ginger juice

golden beet, carrot, orange, fennel bulb and ginger juice

September is for meditating, booty shaking, and fighting the fall funk.

The time has come, the walrus said…. Not that I’m comparing myself to a walrus or anything. September is here, and with it comes a lot of things. Mostly a little bit of restlessness. I’ve come to expect this every year, and sometimes even crave it along with the cooler days, the occasional rain, the change of leaves and the start of harvest. I’ve said it before (probably in a blog post from around this time, oh every year since I’ve been blogging) but I think we are programed from a young age to expect change every year. September brings the start of school, a new season, and from the time we are little September brings around change. So its sometimes a harsh reality when we reach adulthood, and realize that jobs don’t change every year, nor do living situations (well I mean they can….) and part of growing up is often settling into that stability, and yes sometimes stagnant routine.

I feel it this time of year especially, because this is when things start to slow down a little bit with work, my two best friends start to travel extensively for their jobs, and as the days become cozier I tend to become a little more introverted.  Well this year, I’m getting a jump on the stagnant feeling, I’m combatting the lonely, and trying to fill my days with manageable change.

Let me just clarify, I’m not bored. I wish I had enough time to be bored… but every waking moment is pretty much jam packed of things to do… but I can tell already that I’m heading for my fall rut, and might actually be prematurely there due to my broken toe/ the collapse of my summer project and goal of running a half marathon.  I became a bit of a slug the last six weeks, and though I’ve still been practicing yoga, I haven’t been motivated to do much else as far as moving my person.

So I’m re-focusing my energies this month, and am being proactive about doing things that are good for me mentally as well as physically, and I’m making small adjustments to my day-to-day routine to make sure that I am living a life that feels fulfilled and meaningful. My friend Amanda over at The Savoury Soul is encouraging people to build their best life. I wrote a guest post for her  blog this week, and am trying to refocus my energy and remind myself that I need to be my own champion, figure out what I need, and take little steps on a daily basis to make my life a little bit happier and healthier.  Amanda has really inspired me lately, and here are  a few of the things I’m going to do/ focus on this month to try and build my best life.

1)   I’m going to be awesome at my job. Not that I’m not already trying to be a successful and productive employee, but  I know there are days when I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and sometimes defeated. I’m going to approach each day with a positive attitude , I’m going to learn from each experience, and everyday I’m going to try to be better and more efficient. I’m going to be filled with gratitude that I have a wonderful job, understanding bosses, and co-workers who are (mostly) supportive. I’m going to be thankful that I have a happy and healthy work environment, and I’m going to focus on the positive, and let go of the negative.

2)   I’m actually going to start meditating again. Whenever life feels out of balance, I think this is a good place to start. Even if it is just a few moments a day, I’m going to make a conscious effort to take a little time to turn inward.

3)   Kick my butt into high gear. I’ve been off my feet for too long, and out of my exercise routine, and I’m feeling a little doughy. I recently purchased a package at Barre 3, and plan on finding new and fun ways to move my person. (barre 3 can get a little spendy, but there is a great deal for new students, also they recently had a deal on living social…its right up my alley with a cross between ballet, yoga and pilaties. Yes please. Also I know its probably not true, but after one class I swear my cellulite is less noticeable… for reals)  I’ve already gotten my hula hoop out of the garage (mom, bring it back!) and in another week or two I’m going to get back into running. Baby steps.

4)   I’m doing a 3 day juice cleanse next week. This I’m actually really excited about. It will probably be hard, and I will probably get grouchy somewhere around, oh the first 2 hours, but I think it will be a healthy way to detox my body, and jump start some healthy habits.  (I’m giving up caffeine and gluten tomorrow, and probably dairy the day after that to ease my body into it… so lets be realistic, I will be grouchy tomorrow… but I’ll try to compensate) I’m going to be doing this with 6 other women, so hopefully we can all support each other (and not kill each other) and it will actually be a fun bonding experience. We are going with Portland Juice Press… I’ve heard good things, and they are willing to deliver all the way to Dundee. I’ll let you know how it goes.

5)   I’m going to be better about corresponding with friends, through the mail. I love getting snail mail, and it takes literally two minutes and like forty something cents (I actually don’t know how much postage is these days, I always buy forever stamps…) and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that someone is going to open up their mail box and have a surprise note. God knows I’ve been collecting fun greeting cards and stationary since I was 12, and have moved all of it with me about a zillion times… might as well lighten the load, work on my penmanship, and start writing some letters.

6)   I renewed my passport today. I always thought I was the kind of girl who kept her passport at the ready in case an exciting adventure called me away at a moment’s notice. So when I pulled out my passport earlier this summer, I was pretty disappointed to find out it expired in February. Good thing I haven’t needed to flee the country.  Realistically I haven’t left in the country in oh, 6 years, but I like to think that my next foreign adventure is right around the corner (Pfeff I am 100% seriously looking into tickets for Paris…I’m just putting that out there)

7)   I’m going to watch less tv. It’s a noble goal. I have a lot of books I want to read, and though I do enjoy being able to mindlessly unwind when I get home from a late night at the restaurant, I’m pretty sure my life will be a little bit more balanced with a little less CSI NY. I’ve started to find myself wondering what sort of forensic evidence I’m leaving in my wake at every single place I visit… if I crime ever happens at the yoga studio, I’m totally going to be a suspect. Especially since I took toby to class this week, and he was probably shedding, and even though I swept I’m sure there is some lingering pet hair, and that will definitely link anything back to me even if I’m not involved in a crime in any way. I’m just saying… THIS IS WHY I’M CUTTING BACK ON TV.

8)   I’m taking a yoga sabbatical. After working 60+ hours a week, I needed to step back a little bit, and recharge. I’m still going to be teaching one class a week, but being responsible for teaching two classes on my “day off” was beginning to be more of a burden than a joy. I adore my students, but needed to respect my own limits, and give myself a change to re-coup.  I think as a result I will come back in a few months as a better teacher.

What steps can you take this month to make your life a little bit better? How are you fighting the Fall Funk?

Green smoothies, Healthy choices, and some personal anecdotes about my addiction to gluten.

So I’m back on the green smoothie band wagon. Not that I every really got off of the bandwagon… But when I’m working 11+ hour days, I’m realizing that I need a boost of something healthy, raw, and green to keep me going. I’m on my feet pretty much all day, and though I do get fed while at work, one cannot sustain on breakfast sandwiches, woodfire pizzas, and cookies alone.  (though one might often try…) At the end of the day my energy is so low I sometimes contemplate trying to go gluten free, and seeing if that makes a different… I contemplate this for literally like a tenth of a second before snapping back to reality. Hi my name is Tayler and I’m pretty much a gluten addict… I know that gluten free is kinda trendy right now…(my dog is even gluten free for crying out loud) but I’ve never been much for trends…  This morning I made a salad to go with my croutons… that is right. I didn’t make a great salad and then later think “you know what this needs? some croutons!” no, in fact I did the opposite. I made croutons, and then decided that I couldn’t just eat croutons for breakfast (though I don’t know why not, I’m an adult, I can eat what I want!) so I made a salad to go underneath…
And now for a slight tangent about gluten, but we will get back to the smoothies I promise. Back when I was a kid, long before there was all the hype about gluten intolerance, gluten free etc, I had a bread route. And when I say I had a bread route, I mean my brother and I baked bread every Friday morning, and then went around to our regular customers, most of whom were co-workers of my parents at the local hospital, or people like our piano teacher, and we sold small loaves of whole wheat bread. We actually had a stone flour mill, and we ground the wheat ourselves… mostly on Thursday nights, my parents would be watching ER, and I would run upstairs to the kitchen to grind the wheat during commercial breaks…. (yes, our kitchen was upstairs, and yes, I’m not making this up… Its amazing this didn’t make it onto a college submission essay somewhere…I should probably blog about this in further detail…) Anyway, back when I was eight years old, and baking bread every week, it didn’t seem strange to me that we actually had a little pouch full of gluten in our freezer that we would add to each batch of bread… We were following the recipe, and it sold damn well, and as far as I knew, everyone had pouches of gluten sitting in their freezer for baking purposes.  Needless to say, back then we never had any requests for gluten free bread, and we had probably never even heard of gluten free bread… and laugh all you want at this weird little story, but I was able to buy myself three American Girl Dolls with my bread earnings, and a whole lot of accessories for them… and I can promise you this… freshly baked bread sells better than lemonade any day of the week.
I really have no desire to give up gluten at all… (though I no longer keep pouches of it in my freezer) I know all these gluten free people who tell me how much more energy they have, how much better they feel etc. and I’ve even had people suggest that my eczema might be gluten related… but here is the thing… I don’t feel bad, and I’m terrified that if I give up gluten, or dairy, or any of my other comfort foods I will feel great. (stay with me through this train of thought)  I know that sounds dumb, I’m terrified of feeling great? Not really, but mostly I’m terrified of how bad I would feel if I ever stopped eating these things, and then slipped and went back on them…. I don’t feel bad now when I eat cheese, or gluten, and wouldn’t it just suck, to suddenly feel terrible after eating these things? I think it would… anyway, I try to stick with “everything in moderation” and overall I think its working for me… am I still talking about gluten? ok back to my original topic.

I’ve been taking my smoothies to work to sip on during breaks, or while I’m in the office, and naturally I get a little bit of flack from just about everyone. I get all the usual comments “what are you drinking?” “What is in there?” or “why don’t you just eat a salad?” The answer is, because who has time to eat salads these days? I mean I do, but not at 5:30 in the morning when I’m running out the door to get to work by 6AM for an 11 hour shift. I do, however, have time to drink things from a straw while doing my hair, driving, or any of the other countless* things I have to do to get ready in the morning.

(*A list of things I can do while drinking a smoothie that I cannot do while eating a salad: water the garden, chase the dog around the yard, curl my hair, put on makeup, make my bed, put on shoes, empty the dishwasher, drive a car, empty the trash, put on clothes, do calf presses/ wall squats, vacuum, paint my finger nails, dance around.)
Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Everyone is taken aback by the color, but I think it is mostly awesome… and its not like anything gross is going into the smoothies themselves, it is just often an interesting combination of things… (though if some of you green smoothie drinkers out there could call my parents and tell them that I’m not actually a weird-o/ lots of “normal” people drink these, and this is not just one of my yogi/mountain-muffin/ health kick phases.) My ex used to be totally grossed out by the idea of green smoothies, and some of my co-workers still are… but mostly I think people are used to me showing up to work with jar full of green-ness. I’ve gotta stay healthy somehow! I’m working, I’m running, and I need to fuel my body… and this body needs an obscene amount of kale.  Sure, a salad might seem a little more delicious to some folks, but right now, with my schedule, veggies through a straw makes the most sense. (and its actually pretty delicious) Its especially great on the days that I have to work really early, because I can make a smoothie the night before, pop it in the fridge, and its ready for me first thing, its a grab and go meal that is 100% healthy, and easy.

My recipe varies a little bit, just depending on what ingredients I have on hand, but my smoothies usually consist of spinach, kale, celery, half a granny-smith apple, half a cucumber, a banana (or a pear) coconut oil, chia seed, ground flax seed, mint leaves, and water.  Its super basic, but the banana pretty much masks all of the overly green flavors from the kale, and the coconut oil and mint make everything really palatable. Sometimes I add coconut milk for a little extra creaminess, and I’m sure this summer I will be adding various berries as they begin to come in from the garden.

Look at all of that goodness

Look at all of that goodness

This last round of groceries, I got a huge bag of spinach, and actually pureed it and froze it in ice cube trays, which has worked magically and has saved a lot of time and money. I can almost never use the whole thing of spinach before it goes bad, and this way the smoothies are extra cold. I’m contemplating trying this with kale as well, though I did just plant kale in my garden, so hopefully I will not have to buy as much.

I’ve been pretty consistent in my smoothie consumption (I’d say at least 4 per week) but this week I’m going to try for 7 days of smoothies for breakfast…. the busier I get, the poorer I tend to eat/ the more I tend to over-eat, and I think I owe it to myself to start my day off with an über- nutritious breakfast. Anyone else want to join me? 7 days of green goodness starts now! (or tomorrow, since I did eat that bowl of croutons for breakfast… there really was lettuce and kale underneath it though!)

Hello Hamstrings: a basic intro to Supta Padangusthasana

I have really tight hamstrings… me and every other person in America (or so it seems). As a yoga teacher one of the things I hear about the most is tight hamstrings… which is why one of my favorite poses to do in class is Supta Padangusthasana ( or reclining big toe pose). If you have ever taken a class from me there is a very good chance this pose was visited… I do not preach in my classes (at least I don’t think I do) but I know I have told pretty much every one of my students that life would be better if we practiced this particular stretch in our daily lives.

Of course I have been saying this for years… and thus far I have never managed to get into a routine of doing this stretch at home… but I do teach it at least twice a week (if not more). But here I am, virtually unemployed, with a plethora of free time, and a lot of motivation, so I’m pledging to do this stretch every day for one week, and see if it actually makes a difference in my life. Who is with me? I’ll do a follow up post after a week of consistent stretching, and I’d love to have your comments & personal feedback (feel free to comment here or on the facebook page).

I’m not expecting any profound epiphanies, but I do know that since I have been running more this year, my hamstrings are even tighter than normal, and though this is certainly not the only good hamstring stretch (and maybe not even the absolute best one) it is by far my favorite.

There are a ton of other great benefits about this pose as well. It’s great for lower back pain, it stretches the calves and inner thighs, helps strengthen the core, it can help with sciatica, it can even help you reduce stress.  Denise Benitez says in an article for the Yoga Journal that “You may never become a model for the loose hamstring calendar, but the benefits of Supta Padangusthasana will enrich your life in many ways. Your pelvis will enjoy more of its full movement through space (great for Latin dancing!), all your yoga poses will benefit, and your spirit will be soothed by the gentle release of the often overworked muscles on the back side of your body.”

Do I really need to keep listing reasons why almost everyone would benefit from a daily dose of this pose?  Hamstrings can be tricky, and stretching them takes time (I’ve heard 20-30 minutes a day of un-loaded stretching) And we might not all have that kind of time to devote to opening these key muscles, but even two minutes a day is better than none.

This stretch is usually done with a  yoga strap, but if you are trying it at home a belt or long sleeved tee-shirt should do the trick.

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Bulldog is optional. =)  but he does add a little complexity to the pose when he starts nibbling on your ears/ face.

Start by lying on your back (supine) with knees bent. Place the strap (or whatever prop you are using) over the ball of the right foot and begin to extend the right leg up towards the sky. (keeping a slight bend in the knee is a-ok. First and foremost, listen to your body).  Starting out I’d recommend keeping the left knee bent with the foot on the floor, but if you are feeling a little more open, and don’t have any lower back considerations, you might want to extend the left leg out onto the floor, keeping a strong flex to both feet.

Trying to pull evenly through both sides of the strap, invite your shoulders to relax. (you might even anchor your elbows on the floor so you encourage the arms to relax). I like to engage my core while in this pose, by simply drawing my belly button in and up… offering support to the lower back.

You might gently let the right leg rock back and forth in this pose, getting a little bit of movement in the hip joint (because motion is lotion).

After spending at least 1 minute with the leg up towards the sky, transfer both sides of the strap/prop into the right hand. Invite you left hand to help anchor your left hip to the ground. (if you left knee is still bent, you can slightly let the knee open towards the left to act as a counter balance, which will help keep the hip rooted down). Very slowly, perhaps to the count of 10, invite your right leg open to the right side. Keeping the flex in the foot, you might even encourage the toes to inch a little bit in the direction of your right shoulder.  This is usually about the time I have to remind myself about what my core is doing, (keep zipping up!). Holding here for several breaths (or several minutes, you know your body best), then slowly begin to engage the secondary muscles in your right leg. Trying to use the strength of the leg rather than the pull on the strap to slowly (SLOWLY! Work through the resistance, you’ll gain more benefits if you help strengthen while you stretch! It’s not just about momentum!) lift your leg back up towards the sky. Hold here for a few more breaths before slowly releasing the strap, and lowering your leg.

Take a moment, and notice if you feel a difference between your right and left leg (right leg might feel just a little bit longer! Progress!).  As you are ready, bend both knees, and get ready to stretch out the left leg!

Helpful hints:

Try to stretch for the same amount of time on each side. How you track is up to you, you might just be able to “feel” when you are even. But you might count the breaths spent in each part of the pose, listen to a set amount of songs, or maybe even set a timer.

I love stretching in the morning, but you might try this stretch at the end of the day, and see if you notice a difference in flexibility from morning to evening. We tend to be a little more warmed up at the end of the day because we have been up and moving around a bit and your hamstrings might be a little less resistant.

You might also experiment with trying this stretch at the beginning/ end of a yoga practice, and see if you notice a difference. This stretch is a great way to warm up for a variety of standing poses, but it’s also a great way to end a practice after your muscles are already warm and have been working a little bit.

* I should probably put a disclaimer in here that yes, I am an RYT, but stretching/ exercising at home can have risks. PLEASE BE CAREFUL! For further and more detailed instructions, you might visit the Yoga Journal website

Sitting is the new Smoking? I guess it’s time to wiggle around.

I just did a dance around my living room… as I was taking laundry to the washing machine I made sure to wiggle around, and as I’m sitting on my couch typing this, out I may or may not be doing the in-flight blood clot reducing exercises you see on the trans-Atlantic flights… In my yoga class today we started talking about how “Sitting is the new smoking” which is a concept that everyone else in the class seemed to be familiar with… I was in the ignorance is bliss category, and of course as soon as I came home started doing a little research. Sure enough, sitting is a lethal activity according to The New York Times among others (Go ahead, Google it “Sitting is the new smoking”). So yeah, I’ve been wiggling my person around a little extra today.

Generally speaking, I am an active person… I teach two yoga classes a week, I take a lot of yoga during the week, and I can honestly say that I have been running more this month than I went running in all of 2012. I like walking places, and mostly I like to think I move around quite a bit… but in the past month I know I’ve also been sitting a whole lot more than I used to…

I mean it’s all relative… I’m not spending nearly as much time in my car, as I no longer have a 20 minute commute to work, and am not driving 40 miles every other day to see ex-boyfriend. I’m also no longer sitting at a desk… but I am sitting on my couch… a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I sit here all day, but I’m still adjusting to my life in the unemployed sector, and so I sit a lot. I search online for jobs, I do a lot of reading, I look for new recipes, I’m writing more, and yes, ok, I’m watching A LOT of The West Wing…

I’m here trying to justify things, but the reality is, even when I was working full time, I didn’t spend a ton of time at my desk… sure, I spent my fair share of time at the computer writing newsletters, updating social media, working on advertising, printing contracts, doing research. But I also spent a fair amount of time walking between my office and the retail shop, or the office and the tasting room… Some days it felt like I spent more time walking back and forth than I did at the desk. I would take breaks and walk Toby through the lavender fields, I would walk through the nursery on my lunch break, and I was constantly up and about taking pictures around the property, walking through the olive groves and grape vines… So yeah, I’m driving a lot less than I was, and I’m running quite a bit more, and I’m even taking more yoga, but I’m still sure that I’m also sitting a lot more than I used to… (BRB as I need to get up and move around, and maybe you should do the same! )

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Alright, I’m back…Is anyone else suddenly inspired to go invest in a pedometer? The statistics are a little terrifying… I mean obviously we know that sitting around watching tv all day isn’t good for you, but the idea that every hour spent in front of the TV gives you an 11% higher death rate? You’d think it would have to be the same for reading a book right? Every hour I spend reading a book, or sitting at my computer writing, is an hour closer to death. (Which I suppose is true of any hour spend doing anything… but you know what I mean) If you need me today, I’ll be bopping around my house…