Thursday, January 30, 2014

juice fast day 3 and after..

day three of the juice fast was for sure the easiest day. i felt so good about  what i was doing i wrote about it extensively, and i'm not done yet! i broke fast with simple whole foods. a banana, an apple, a couple dates and a small handful of nuts. i had a hard time finishing and i was satisfied.

my energy levels are up, which is amazing. i thought it would have slowed me down a lot more.. mind you i had the last two days of my fast off from work. when i returned, though, i brought my lunch of juice, nuts and raisins, and a small jar of homemade vegetable soup, and i was satisfied for the whole day. this surprised me as i am usually starving even by first break, my job is very physically active and i never sit down.

something else incredible happened that i forgot to note; i slept. like a baby. all. three. days. which points to what my lifelong issue may have been with sleep.. a direct link to my diet. oh and i slept lastnight too, a solid 6 hours which is unheard of for me. i usually get 3-4 hours max if any solid sleep at all. i have been this way since as early as i remember. and i remember my days of kindergarten quite well.

i lost 6 pounds over the 3 day fast and the day leading up to it. i started eating again at noon on tuesday [that tiny meal i mentioned] and ate a little more yesterday, and not a pound of that six has come back. that to me is mindblowing. i have tried a lot of different fasts and shakes and regimes and products and in all of my previous experience i have always started to gain the weight back immediately after the product/regime/fast ends. now i suppose it's not 'ended', as what i'm doing now is a complete lifestyle change. a whole new outlook on how i see food and how i treat my own body. this is not only necessary for my health and survival, but my likelihood to thrive as an individual and a member of a greater community depends on it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

juice fast day 2

alright well i had sort of a rough night yesterday. later in the evening i was starting to feel very uneasy, and contemplated cutting up a salad and breaking fast. i did break fast, but with a banana. that was specifically what i was craving, and i chewed it very thoroughly. man did it ever taste good.. and it did ease the strange feelings i was having. i decided not to let that get me down, and that i would wake up the next day and keep going. i stepped on the scale this morning and shrieked a little.. 197 pounds! i've been struggling all month to get under two hundred, hovering around 202. i hadn't seen a lower number than 199.8 in a while. i was shocked, and this was an instant motivator to keep going. [and maybe to paint my toenails haha!]

my size 14 pants are a little looser around the waist. even if most of that five pounds was water weight or waste i hadn't rid myself of yet, that's five pounds i'm no longer carrying around. i've never bothered with numbers as far as my weight is concerned, but i felt that in order to see if i was making any real progress i'd have to invest in a scale. i'm in my body all day every day and subtle change is hard to detect without some sort of measure, so there you have it. i've always been told that i 'carry it well' which i do agree [that i don't look like i weigh over 200] but the fact of the matter is, i still have to carry it around regardless of what i look like. and it's damn heavy on my smallish frame.

i do feel better than i did 24 hours ago, and as i type this i've been 48 hours without solid food. i pretty well have to visit my grocer daily to pick up the produce that i need as we only have a small bar fridge in our bachelor apartment to keep things fresh. luckily things like apples and carrots and various other roots can be kept out over the winter, and there's a freshco right across from my house so i don't have to go far. i can't wait to get at the farmer's market! and at the garden... it's gonna be a good year.

i'm particularly glad that i have today and tomorrow off work, i feel that rest is important during a fast to let my body heal. when i get more used to fasting i may try a longer one [7-10 days] but for now three [and a half] days seems like enough to 'reboot' my digestive system before reintroducing solid foods. since i work every third weekend i may make this a part of my 'ritual' to have a three day juice fast every three weeks. and perhaps even have a weekly juice fast on sunday to keep it rolling, i'll see how i feel. so far, actually not that bad.

one thing i have noticed is that i have a lot of time to think about what i'm putting into my body. as i cut and prepare veggies and fruit to go into the juicer i think about all of the good things that each piece will do for me. when the time comes to start eating regular meals again, i feel more confident that i can make better food choices and including more raw foods than before. it's like a whole new appreciation for even having access to such a variety of foods. we also have access to some pretty spiffy technology that can help to extract nutrients from foods and consume more of these nutrients than we would just simply eating them, such as juicers and high power blenders. the produce department and i have been becoming better friends than ever before. and i've always loved veggies!

another thing i've noticed is the lesser impact on the trash can and recycle bin since i started juicing. and the dish rack.. i'm saving water not having to wash so many dishes, and there's virtually zero trash from the produce i'm buying, i don't bother with the rolls of bags at the grocery store, i just wash everything well when i'm ready to use it. i bring my own bags always. if i need to weigh something 'loose' i'll grab a brown paper bag intended for the mushrooms, at least it will break down faster and it's not plastic. all of the pulp and most of the 'waste' from the produce goes into the compost pile out back. that being said, as long as i'm eating better, so is my garden.. which in turn produces better food for me to eat.. and the cycle continues. oh man am i ever excited for the garden this year... fresh kale!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

juice fast day 1

alright so i'm horrible at keeping up with a blog. to be fair i've been mighty focused on psyching myself up to do what i've got to do to regain my health. for the past few weeks i put myself on an elimination diet to determine what was bothering me, the main suspect being that dang gluten. after a few days of eating gluten free i felt a million times better. until one day i wasn't thinking and ate a pancake.. yup, i learned very quickly not to do that again any time soon. the pain and bloating that came a couple hours later was unbearable.

that being said, i've been very careful since, and doing my best to consume mostly 'whole' foods. that way i don't have to worry about ingredients and what could be hidden within. i've been keeping this blog for a year so it's not like the idea of finding optimal health is a new one, but it certainly does take a special kind of motivation to really make big enough lifestyle changes that last. i've said it before and i'm saying it now.. i'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. it's time for real change.

it was my weekend in [giving me monday tuesday off] so i decided to start my juice fast now as my work days are generally lighter on the weekends. saturday after work i had made myself some juice for dinner and kept it up all day today. i've been over thirty hours with no solid food at all, only juice. that being said, i don't feel all that terrible. snackish at most, but i have managed to resist temptation. every time i feel hungry i just take some more juice, or make an herbal tea with real local honey and lemon juice, helps satisfy the munchies.

i felt that having my first full day of juice fasting at work [on a light day] was a good idea to keep my mind distracted, and practice overcoming cravings. i'd have to go through the lunch room to get to the coat room, and sit with my lunch buddy in the food court while he scarfed down his fresh subway sandwich and i could smell delicious goodness all around. i sipped slowly on my cucumber fruit and veggie juice. i resisted the urge to get a rice teriyaki bowl.

by the end of my shift the hunger was starting to get a little uncomfortable and i felt the need to get some salt into me. i bought a carton of organic chicken broth and warmed a cup or so with a pinch of cayenne powder and some himalayan salt for flavour and minerals. it was actually quite satisfying, i had a hard time finishing it. and it did make me feel a lot better. i had a small glass of fruit juice and a cup of organic herbal tea for dessert.

so far so good, i am pretty tired and i have a feeling i will sleep well tonight. i hope day two is easier, i was debating making this a 24 hour fast and starting back on raw fruits and veggies tomorrow, we shall see how i feel in the morning.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

tips and tricks to stay on track.

as i said in my last post, having the right attitude is key to changing my lifestyle. i've had to collect a few ideas to help me keep on a path to better health, as the journey isn't easy. here are a few things i'm doing to stay focused, maybe some of these tips will work for you!

1] tell someone about your goals [blog it!]
i think one of the best things i've done to keep myself focused was start this blog. not only so that i have something for myself to look back on, but to put myself out there and be 'public' about my challenge. i find that letting someone know that you've set a resolution or a goal for yourself ups your possibility of success. for myself i'm more likely to keep up on something if i let others know i'm doing it. lets take smoking for example..

i've been smoking off and on for years, and especially more so when i spent a couple of years on the night shift. i tried quitting on my own, and it didn't last for long. i tried quitting with my partner at that time, and as soon as they picked it up again so did i. when i got off the shift unfortunately i didn't leave the habit  behind, so in the fall of 2o12 i made it my goal to be smoke free by spring 2o13. i told everyone at work, and so.. i quit.. mostly. i'd still have one here and there, but after 'quitting' i could really feel the difference after having a smoke versus not having one. finally, in autumn of 2o13 i kicked the habit for good. i realized that the mild calming effect smoking had on me wasn't anywhere near worth the damage it was doing. i am slowly coming to the same point of realization with kicking the habit of eating processed foods.

2] write it down.
no matter what it is that i want to accomplish, i find i'm much more likely to achieve the goals that i have written down. seemingly even if i forget to look back over what i wrote until some time later, when i do find what i had written it seems it had already come true. as if the act of putting thoughts into words is the very first step of putting them into action.

i'm sort of using this blog to cover the first and second point, so that what i've written is accessible no matter where i am. not only do i like to write down what my ambitions are, but also my achievements. keeping track of things like how many reps or kilometers allows me to look back and see how i've improved. a big wall calendar can be handy for this. i just got one that i keep on the wall facing my bedroom door. i see it every morning when i walk out my door, which will help me to stick to my routine. something else that can help with all this..

3] there's an app for that!
yea, i gave in to the world of smartphones about a year ago, just so many functions and uses i couldn't resist any longer. there's a huge selection of smartphone apps that can help keep track of all of those things from caloric and nutrient intake, to exercise and distances covered. there's even types of bluetooth step counters the size of a little jump drive that tracks everything you do and when you do it, right down to your heart rate when you're asleep. i haven't quite jumped on that bandwagon yet, but it may be a future investment.

 right now i'm using an app that allows me to keep track of my intake [food, water etc] and my output [exercise, calories burned, time spent/distance traveled etc.] and it has a summary screen where i can view each day as a list. it's important to be honest here, because 'cheating' isn't hurting anyone but yourself. when i look back over my list for the day and i see something i don't like [maybe i had a few unhealthy snacks or didn't get enough exercise] then i can pinpoint what to focus on for the next day.

4] be prepared.
if it's worth it, chances are it ain't easy. but when it comes to building healthy habits, being prepared helps me to ease into a workout or preparing a batch of juice. to help with focusing on the workout i have dedicated a space in my apartment where the mat is always ready and my equipment is accessible. by doing so i'm more likely to make use of it instead of thinking "ahh dang everything i need right now is packed away" and procrastinating.

being prepared helps me in the kitchen too. juicing was hard for me to get into at first because of all the prep work involved. one thing that i have done to make it easier is keep my juicer in an accessible [and visible] location so that i don't have to dig for parts to get it set up. i keep all of the little bits for it in an easy to maneuver bucket that i can pull from bit by bit to assemble, and then put everything back in one piece at a time after when i take it apart and clean it. after a few times of assembly and dis-assembly, it's starting to become sort of a reflex and it doesn't take me nearly as long as it did when i started.

5] make it a mantra [and be grateful!]
i mentioned in the last point that juicing takes a lot of prep work, so to help me get through cutting up all that fruit and veg i have made it a mantra. first i gather and rinse everything that i want to use, and i assume a pose in front of the cutting board that is like 'mountain pose' which helps me focus on my posture. i then begin with say, the apples, half them, quarter them, slice out the core, done. and as i do this for each the motion becomes a meditation and each cut a part of a rhythm. i think to myself for each piece of food how grateful i am to have it to consume and improve my health. cut, breathe.. before i know it, everything is cut and ready to go!

this works with a lot of things, especially things that can seem daunting like getting into chores or organizing my belongings. i make a mantra out of seemingly menial tasks at work, focusing just as much on how i carry myself or bend or stretch when i'm moving about my job.

6] add in the goodness instead of restricting the 'bad'
i think one of the biggest reasons why people fail at attempting to lose weight or get in shape or change their lifestyle is the fact that they jump right in instead of easing in gradually. especially for changing eating habits.. it's a lot easier to start by simply adding better meal choices into your diet instead of thinking 'no i can't have all of these things, just that'. this actually works.. i'm in the process of perfecting my nutritional intake by means of this very method. eventually consuming so many good nutritious things starts to crowd out cravings for not-so-nutritious snacks.

in the beginning it's hard to imagine living a whole day without sugar or a chocolate bar or white bread or whatever, but as i started to add in the goodness i also started to lose my taste for processed foods. adding real nutrition may taste offish at first [ie fruit sugar versus refined sugar products] but once my body started to get used to what real sugars taste like, eating sugars in processed foods no longer tastes as irresistible as it once did. every once in a while i'll give in and have a snack that i know is totally horrible for me but from what i remember tastes amazing, i'll get half way through it and realize that it doesn't really taste as good as i remember. especially with bottled pasteurized juice, this rarely satisfies my thirst anymore, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. i've even lost my taste for things i never thought i'd get over like salty pretzels [and other wheat products] and 'fake cheese products'.

7] find support.
this task has proven to be one of the more difficult ones for me, it's not always easy to reach out in a time of need but i believe that it is essential. many people hire personal trainers or a life coach to find the support they need, but not everyone [including myself] can afford that. it can be as easy as looking to a sibling or spouse or a good friend. having a mentor or just someone to talk to through such a transition can lighten the load. it's important to choose someone that has already gone down a similar path, and is willing to talk sense into you at points when you feel like giving up. i'm lucky enough to have a supportive partner who helps to keep me positive and even joins me in enjoying healthier food choices. and of course, there's always internet groups and online forums. finding a group of like-minded individuals working towards a common goal can be an immense amount of help.

8] act now.
procrastination has been at often times my worst enemy. i'm the type of person that will over analyze everything to bits and just sit there trying to figure out if something is good for me instead of just giving it a try. i think i waited a good few months between thinking running might be a good idea, and actually starting to run. i wish i would have just given it a try as soon as it came to mind, but it now serves as a lesson.

when it comes to improving my health, doing something is absolutely better than doing nothing. there shouldn't be at any point in my life a time where i can complain of being 'bored', and i have made a point of it. now whenever i'm sitting idle i think to myself, what could i be doing right now to improve the quality of my life or overall health? within a few moments ideas will appear. well, i could pop in that yoga dvd and stretch it out for an hour, or maybe organize my seed collection and start picking things i want to grow, or maybe just put on my headphones and go for a brisk walk. things like that. there's always lots to be done.

9] make it a hobby and have fun.
working towards better health doesn't have to be gruelling, which i suppose is the overall idea for this blog. instead of viewing exercise or preparing healthy foods as a chore, i view working towards better health as more of a 'hobby' to keep me interested. i found myself nerding out in a conversation about juicers at work today, and when i realized what was happening it made me smile. i now get excited over things like finding more nutrient packed 'superfoods' or discovering a new yoga position that relieves pressure off an achy joint. it's almost like playing a video game, leveling up, collecting health and building strength, only yknow.. in real life! my life!

10] challenge yourself.
when i started running, i could only go 7km tops in a day. by the time i'd dropped it due to joint issues i was pushing out nearly 20k on my runs.. i'd push myself a little further each day. i never saw myself as a runner, not even for a jog around the block. it's just never appealed to me, i much preferred a good climb up a steep escarpment trail. i shocked myself the first time i ran right into the next town, i smiled for days at the achievement. and it all started when i started this blog a year ago, the Sage Thrive Challenge. i wanted to do something new and truly challenge myself. without a good challenge there can be no true progress.

11]be adventurous!
and never say never. it can be a challenge in itself to keep an open mind about my health, and we are often taught that if it isn't a pill then it won't fix you. truth is, our bodies are capable of healing themselves and function optimally when they have what they need, and aren't being constantly toxified and stressed. so our mission is to figure out what those things are, and apply the knowledge. mild food sensitivities can cause a ton of different uncomfortable symptoms which are then treated with medicines we don't really need. everyone's body is unique and it's up to us as individuals to figure it out. this may result in a need for an all-out lifestyle change, but with an open mind and a sense of adventure, it can actually be fun!

well that's all i've collected for now, and it even took me a few days to write it all out. i'm sure as i go along the list will change and grow. on a side note, as a new challenge i signed up for a gym for the first time in my life... pre-opening rates, 4 weeks till it opens. so excited!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

new year, new juice, new attitude.

well, i made it to 2014 in one piece, that's reason enough to have faith in the fact that i'm not doomed forever to poor health, pain and discomfort. but really though, after a gruelling year of making many false started attempts at losing weight and regaining fitness, i do believe i've finally realized the key to finding better health.. and it starts with a positive attitude.

as i said in my last post, everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for everyone or even anyone else.. but the whole point is realizing that my body can heal itself when provided with what it needs to do so. the challenge is getting all of the nutrients, exercise and rest i need while maintaining my position in this fast-paced north american culture.

it hasn't been easy to get into the mindset necessary to completely change my life, but i'm getting there. the more i read and educate myself, the more enthusiastic i become about choosing whole nutrient rich foods over processed grains and unhealthy snacks. and the more willing i am to treat myself better overall, getting proper rest and working out in a way that has a better impact. i think the eating habits have been the hardest habits to change, years of living from a rucksack got me used to picking up food that preserves well which isn't usually any kind of fresh. now that i have a place to prepare and store nutritious goodness, i really have no excuse not to do so.

i'm willing to admit that having a 40 hour work week is one thing that has ultimately discouraged me from sticking to any sort of lifestyle change that i've needed to improve my  health. when i get 'in the zone' nothing else matters besides getting to work and getting my job done on time. that leaves me little time to spend hours in the kitchen preparing healthy concoctions and delicious 'slow food'. sometimes i work seven days in a row and it's crucial to keep my energy up as well as stay conscious to what i put in my stomach.

as i said before, i had in the past resorted to various different diets and even supplement products to help me along in my journey to better health. the biggest downfall to relying on short term diets and supplements is of course once they're over, so is the weight loss or gained energy. and most times it follows with even more weight gained than i'd started with, and feeling more exhausted than before. i spent the first half of the year running the trails, drinking the shakes and plugging away, and the last half of the year feeling horrible that after everything, a flip in my schedule threw me off my game and the weight came back to haunt me.

enough is enough, it's time to get serious about being healthy, wholly inside and out. body, mind and spirit.. i have collected enough knowledge to prepare my mind for what must happen, and gathered tricks and ideas to keep me nourished while i'm busy getn'er done. and of course, a few nifty and super simple tools to help me do so successfully. the truth of it is, there is no 'quick fix' solution to poor health. but it does help to start small. my starting small involves finding ways to cram as much healthy goodness as i can into each meal of the day and not slacking out on lunch or breakfast. some sweet tricks that have helped me so far is preparing healthy whole food breakfast smoothies, making large batches of fresh homemade soup, and of course, juicing.

i have recently found a device that may be the godsend i've been waiting for; a cold press masticating slow juicer, and finally at an affordable price! i've been juicing a few times a week using my 'express' juicer, but it's quick moving blades aren't really that great for soft foods such as leafy greens, cukes and berries. it made wonderful ginger infused apple carrot lemonade, but i've been longing for a better way to get more greens into me. i like to blender some foods as well, but it's hard to stomach blended greens day after day. juicing makes it a lot easier to get more servings of fresh food into my system while i'm caught up in this crazy urban lifestyle, without so much triggering of the gag.

a couple other awesome tools i use are the Nutribullet 'nutrition extracter' and an immersion blender that i use when making a large crock pot of delicious vegetable soup. i have found for me that blending foods helps keep me feeling full for longer, this is especially true when i add 'superfood boosts' to my smoothies like chia seeds, hulled hemp and organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil.

the next investment that i'll likely make is in a scale. i know roughly how much i weigh as i check every week or two when i go into my local health food store, but i'd like to be able to keep track myself at home too. i've never really cared about the numbers when it comes to weight, but it will be good to see any progress i may make in a way i can more easily visualize.