Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just When I Thought I Had It All Figured Out

Just when I got on track ...and feel things are starting to make sense. Everything has changed. Every single thing.

I took Kennedy to her neurosurgeon yesterday and the results were not good. I don't feel strong enough to talk about all the details, but there is trouble now with the CSF flow to her brain again and now some very very very serious trouble with her spinal cord. It is life threatening and very serious.  My heart is shattered. Broken into a million pieces.

As a result, I didn't workout....I snacked all evening with her. Today I couldn't bring myself to do my training because I didn't get any sleep.

I told myself that I will use yesterday and today as the only days I am allowing myself to wallow. Tomorrow I will be training, eating well, and sleeping better. I just have to wrap my brain around all of this. I need to comfort my daughter, take a hot bubble bath and write in my journal.

I am devastated right now. The thought of another brain surgery, breaks my heart. I have 43 days until her next 5 hour spinal scan. I have that much time to prepare for a possible surgery...

Prayers please. Well Wishes please.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Should I Eat Soy or Not?? Kris Carr's Extensive Outlook

Yes I eat soy. I eat tempeh, tofu (sometimes sprouted), miso (rarely), edamame (stir fry), and soy yogurt (treat). I enjoy soy. Kennedy doesn't eat it as much as I do. She is sensitive to it. I use my  body as my gauge. I went off of it for 60 days and included it again. No problems whatsoever!!!

My girl Kris Carr did a wonderful job dissecting the soy debate.

Kris Carr's Guide to Soy Foods

Understanding How Soy Foods Impact Your Health

July 15, 2013

Hi Sweet Friends,

Oh, boy, we’re talking about soy. It’s a hotly debated topic these days, especially in the plant-based community. You’ve probably heard mixed reviews on this elusive bean — some good, some bad and some very ugly. I know it can be frustrating, but don’t throw your tempeh piccata in the trash just yet. With a little extra smarts, you can make an educated decision on how, why and if soy should be part of your diet. I certainly include it in mine, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be signing up for a soy-dog-eating contest anytime soon. As you’ll learn in today’s blog, organic, non-GMO soy foods can provide many benefits when eaten in moderation.

What types of soy foods are best, and how much should you eat?

In my fridge, you’ll find a variety of whole and minimally-processed soy foods, such as edamame, tempeh, miso and tofu. These foods land on my plate 2-3 times per week, although I tend to use tofu the least since it’s one of the more processed choices in my soy repertoire. They’re all rich in nutrients, antioxidants, protein, essential omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens. A word to the wise, almost all soy is genetically modified. That’s why I always buy organic and search for the non-GMO label. It’s best to look for both stamps of approval, since organic does not guarantee 100% GMO-free food.

Eating soy as nature intended (or very close to it) can be beneficial to your well-being in a variety of ways. Soy protein and omega-3s are important for heart health. They also keep your arteries clear and cholesterol levels low. And contrary to some unsubstantiated fear-based claims, phytoestrogens may actually help reduce breast cancer risk among premenopausal women (more on soy and cancer in the following section). In addition, whole soy foods are easier to digest and taste better than their processed cousins. Plus, the microflora in fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh, are your belly’s BFF.

Again, keep processed soy foods (and processed foods in general) to an absolute minimum. You’ll often find soy protein isolate or concentrate — both at the top of my list to avoid—on their ingredient lists. Faux chicken nuggets, soydogs and other fake meats not only contain processed soy, but a laundry list of food additives and preservatives as well. While these foods aren’t the devil, they certainly aren’t real, and therefore should never be a dietary staple. Think of them as an occasional novelty. The one exception I’ll mention is for those transitioning from a meat-heavy to a plant-happy diet. Eating faux meats and cheeses as a crutch can be helpful, but they definitely shouldn’t hold center stage for long.

We often cling to processed soy foods because of our culture’s protein paranoia. News flash sweet friends — protein doesn’t need to be the main event on your plate at every meal. Now I’m not saying that you don’t need protein, you absolutely do. But if you’re consistently eating a varied, plant-based diet, filled with beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables, you’re in good shape! And with such an abundance of protein-rich choices in the plant family, are you starting to understand why soy is optional?

If you’re still concerned about protein, simply calculate your daily requirement using the following formula: Your body weight (pounds) multiplied by .36 equals the amount of protein (grams) needed for a moderately active adult. For example, a 140 pound person needs about 50 grams of protein per day. Here are just a few of the high-protein plant foods out there: one cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, one cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and two tablespoons of almond butter contains 7 grams of protein. See how easy it can be to meet your protein needs?

Soy seems pretty straightforward when you’re talking about quality and quantity, but the conversation gets trickier when you begin to explore the claims flying around about soy and certain health issues. Next up, soy dangers demystified!

Is there really a link between soy and cancer?

You may have heard that eating soy increases your risk of cancers such as prostate and breast cancer, but the opposite may be more likely. Recent research has shown that lung cancer patients with a history of eating soy have a better survival rate than those who have eaten less or no soy in the past. Men who consume soy have actually been found to have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. And then there’s the most frequently misunderstood relationship — soy and boobs.

When a woman regularly eats protein-rich and phytoestrogen-rich soy foods, studies show that her breast cancer risk drops. Soy’s potentially protective role may be due to its isoflavones which are phytoestrogens (literally meaning “plant estrogens”) and may block some of estrogen’s activity. It could also be the result of various anti-cancer phytochemicals in soybeans. To get the maximum benefit of soy’s protection, some studies show that healthy soy foods should be part of the diet during puberty and adolescence when breast tissue is forming. But that doesn’t mean that you should go soy-crazy. As we’ve discussed, quality and quantity matter. For example, the ladies who participated in the original studies connecting Asian women’s lower breast cancer risk to their regular soy consumption were eating small, moderate amounts of whole or minimally processed soy foods (not buckets of soy jerky!).

So why are people still concerned about soy when it comes to estrogen-sensitive diseases like breast cancer? We’re still not sure how much soy is safe for individuals such as breast cancer patients and survivors, so doctors often recommend that their patients play it safe by avoiding soy completely. But it’s important to note that soy supplements (not soy foods) are often used in the animal studies that point an accusatory finger at soy and cause alarm. In “Life Over Cancer,” Keith Block, Oncologist MD, states that based on his review of the current research, “both premenopausal and postmenopausal women with ER+ tumors can safely eat soy foods such as tempeh and tofu about two or three times per week.” Interestingly enough, many of the same doctors who tell patients to avoid soy altogether never mention the abundant amounts of estrogen and other growth hormones found in meat and dairy products! So if you’re avoiding soy as a result of a cancer diagnosis, think twice about animal products as well.

What about soy-loving fellas?

Good news for boys and men! Despite the buzz that “girlie” phytoestrogens may have a negative effect on hormones and fertility for males, there isn’t a single study showing this—nothing linking these issues to soy formula for baby boys or tofu burgers for boy scouts—nada. In fact, a huge study published in 2009 showed that soy food consumption actually reduced prostate cancer risk by 26 percent among soy-strong men.

If you’re concerned about male reproductive issues, it might be time to look more closely at your dairy consumption. A recent study found that consuming high-fat dairy products like cheese and sour cream may lower sperm quality and fertility, perhaps due to the naturally occurring reproductive hormone, pesticides, chlorinated pollutants and/or heavy metals present in dairy foods.

Does soy impact thyroid health?

Another soy misunderstanding: Much like the confusion surrounding cruciferous veggies and thyroid function, soy isoflavones do not cause hypothyroidism or exacerbate hypothyroidism. Although, you should be aware that they could increase the body’s need for iodine. Soy isoflavones may take up some of the iodine needed to make thyroid hormones. But, as long as iodine intake is sufficient, soy shouldn’t be a problem for the thyroid. Iodine is especially high in sea veggies, which means that miso soup with tofu cubes and wakame seaweed is not only a soothing combo, but also a match made in thyroid health heaven.

Please note that soy foods may affect the absorption of meds used to treat hypothyroidism. If you take medicine to treat hypothyroidism and love soy, check with your doctor so that your dosages can be adjusted accordingly. And still eat seaweed — it’s good for you!

If soy isn’t a great fit for me, what are the best alternatives?

While soy can be a convenient and healthy part of your diet, know that if you’re allergic (soy allergies are quite common), feel congested after eating it or need to avoid soy for other reasons, it’s not an essential part of a plant-based diet and can be eliminated without compromising your health. As I mentioned earlier, plant protein and essential fatty acids are found in a variety of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa and whole grains. And soy-free milk, cheese and meat alternatives are widely available today. Be a label detective and choose products with a short list of ingredients you can pronounce. I opt for a variety of nut, seed and grain-based alternatives, such as almond milk, hemp milk, flax milk, nut cheese and grain meat.

For more soy schooling, check out these highly researched and credible resources:
Whether or not you decide to include soy in your diet is very personal decision that only you can make, but hopefully you feel much more prepared to make that choice with this knowledge under your belt.

Do you eat soy?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quick Repeat Workout and No Excuses

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Okay, today I had to pick Kennedy up and I had a total of 45 minutes. My house is a mess and I need to clean up--the real kind-- and couldn't concentrate in here. I ran to the gym super quick. Barring the thought of a crowded gym, I raced over there with my neon knee high socks and when given the choice, I choose weights over cardio so I hit my repeat of my workout from the other day.

"I then did a 5x5 workout inspired by one of the realest workout girls I follow Marianne- The workout is here. 5 rounds, 5 reps AFAP (as fast as possible with great form)"
  • Deficit Reverse Lunge No weights
  • Shoulder Press 10s, 15s, 17.5s
  • Single leg RDL 20, 20, 20, 25, 25
  • One side Row 20# (too light), 20, 25, 25, 25
  • Sumo Squats 25, 30, 40, 50, 50
I finished the entire workout in record time. 35 minutes start to finish. I felt strong and was so happy to get it done! No excuses. AND this is why I love 3 day splits. It allows for the most flexibility and I always feel like THIS is better than how overwhelmed I feel when I have a 4 day split and miss a day due to "life", it is too hard to recover.

I have a busy Saturday. No chores are done and I'm taking Kennedy to the mall for some fun.

Get your healthy living on!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Crazy Vegan Life Remembering Why I LOVE At home Training

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I am loving the book
Christina has a great website and some pretty great recipes. I enjoy all plant-based vegan cookbooks. I checked this one out from my local library, but may buy it. It isn't gluten free, but I can pretty much make anything into a gluten free version.

Last nite, my lower back started bothering me. Maybe it was my deadlifts at the gym yesterday, but I took it easy last nite. Today, I stayed home to train. I've had my fill of the gym for the week and I have Kennedy home with me so the gym wasn't even an option.

I warmed up with 2 miles on the treadmill while reading the cutest book EVER on my Kindle!  It's titled Kat Fight and you can read the first chapter free by clicking here.

I then did a 5x5 workout inspired by one of the realest workout girls I follow Marianne- The workout is here. 5 rounds, 5 reps AFAP (as fast as possible with great form)
  • Deficit Reverse Lunge No weights
  • Shoulder Press 10s
  • Single leg RDL 12kg moved up to 16kg
  • One side Row 20# (too light) moved up to 12kg
  • Swing 16kg
Then I finished with
  • Deadlifts Barbell 50# Sumo Deads 2 sets x 10
  • Band walks 2 sets x 10 each side
  • Side lying weighted leg raise 10# x 10
Total of 59 minutes. You know I love workouts that are 60 minutes start to finish. Warm up to cool down while I'm busy.

Long day today so I'm going to hop to it. Anybody want to join me on the "Go to bed early, Wake up early Challenge?" I'm two days in and feeling better already!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NOW I remember why I loved/hated the gym

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Okay, I've talked before about not liking going to the gym for a myriad of reasons. Some including
  1. Sharing equipment with dirty people
  2. Waiting to use equipment or the ever elusive 15# dbs that go missing every single time I'm there
  3. The time to commute, get dressed, pee, get a locker, clean all the equipment BEFORE and after you use it...etc.
I decided to go yesterday to the gym after not setting foot in there in like 3 months. Of course the regulars were like "Where have you been?", but I didn't want to start he conversations that never seem to end.
Long story short, I was gifted with some free time while Kennedy finished her math hours at school and decided that there was so much to do in my house that I just didn't want to go back to it. Hence my gym trip. I loathe how much time it takes in the gym just to maneuver around, so I set a goal of 60 mins total. That included cleaning machines, setting up dumbbells and everything.
I put on my music and turned my tunnel vision on! A very productive hour (minus the 10 min treadmill warm up that I got stuck on because a regular started a "conversation"....also known as them talking a hole in my head and me nodding like a crazy person).
I decided to put my 2 Master's degrees in Psychology to good use by observing what was happening in the gym. It was hilarious, because I hated my I just tuned in to the people. Here is what I discovered (aka reasons I don't like coming to the gym):
  • The PF (Phantom Farter)- This person can let out hella bad gas and keep a straight face. They silently leak out deadly gas that makes everyone nauseous, but because of the closeness of the machines, no one truly knows who it is.
  • The "Too cute/Too sweet" girl- She comes into the gym with a ton of makeup, the latest gym fashions, never breaks a sweat and smiles at every single guy that passes by. However, she makes more than one face as I notice her look me up and down before hopping on yet another cardio machine to go at the slowest speed imaginable
  • Ms. Granny Too Slow- This woman finds a way to walk in front of you so slowly you could take a nap. She cleans the machines off super slow, talks slowly and is an all around pain in the ass. (Not meant to be offensive to the elderly AT ALL. This woman in particular..yes)
  • Mr. Mirror Stalker- Every fricking time I look up he is staring at me in the mirror. No matter where I am in the room, his eyes are glued. It's very "Craigslist Killer", yet he doesn't mind when I catch him. UGH.
All jokes aside, it was nice to be in the gym going from exercise to exercise to treadmill with a flow. True the gym wasn't packed, but it made me think that I should try to get in there at least once a week when Kennedy is with her dad if I can. I will still contend that if given the choice, I'd workout at home ANYDAY over going to the gym.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Don't Think About it Just Do It

In and out of doctor's offices for Kennedy. I was trying to make close to an hour to workout every morning and I have to rearrange some things and now I have about 40 minutes start to finish. Instead of being bummed, I just got on with it. I've been thinking of making a sign for my workout space "No Whining". I need to tell myself Just Do It when I don't feel like. Feeling like it is irrelevant...getting it done is mandatory.

There was a three day span when I felt like giving up. I hate seeing my daughter sick :( I ate some vegan nachos and stayed up too late getting lost in movies. After three days of wallowing, I got off my butt, grabbed some weights and a kettlebell and got to work. I need iron in my hands. Some people run to cardio, I need to lift weights.

Now I am doing a mish mash of workouts using strength and plyo cardio moves. Today I ran up and down one floor of steps for a total of 100 steps. I have been trying to find new and free ways to get my heartrate up and as I think about machines I miss from the gym...the stairmater being one of them...I decided to run the steps in my house!

Today I ate simple and clean. I am going on a 30 day process food free challenge. Kay's bday is Sunday so I will be having cake (shhhh). I believe in all around health...balance...moderation. Follow me on My Fitness Pal to see everything I eat.

Here are a few links to the style of workout I enjoy... (Go to the blog to see the clips if you can't via email).

I am off to run an errand and then make tempeh, red gravy, gluten free pasta and salad for dinner. Yummm.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Thoughts on Coffee as a Vegan

Coffee used to be a sensitive topic for me. I was so "addicted" to it in college. Actually, I didn't realize or even think that I was addicted. I even quit one job to go to work at a coffee shop so that my coffee could be free. 2 free drinks per shift, 1 lb free per week. And I had some co workers who didn't like coffee and they gave me theirs!!!

My thoughts on coffee now.... For a while I refused to drink it. I think maybe it was a purity thing. Then I did some research and it told me not to drink it because it compromised my Central Nervous System etc. I decided to do what I always do and I put myself on a little test.

I drank coffee on Sundays only as a treat with my homemade brunch (normally Belgian waffles, tofu scramble, fruit). I noticed an alertness and a sharpness, but not real high energy spike. No crash. No afternoon desire to have more. I thought that maybe coffee doesn't do to me what it does to others....hmmm

The end result is that all the research I've done has led me to understand and believe that you can find research to support any thought you have. If you drink wine there is plenty of research to show how good for you it is. There is plenty to show how bad for you it is. Same for coffee. Same for tofu. Same for all kinds of stuff.

As a vegan I work to be conscientious of any product I consume and any company I support Equal Exchange as a company. The store near me only has one brand of it, but I could buy it online if need be. There is a new Women of the Congo project they are supporting. It feels sooo good to vote with my dollars. As a vegan, I feel good when I know that my money not only buying a great product, but also supporting community initiatives around the globe. Wow. Equal Exchange is a powerful company. 

Starbucks?? I think not. Everything they stand for annoys my soul. Yes there have been times when I meet friends there and grab a cup of tea (with my own mug of course) but I really don't support their practices. I am still searching for chains that offer organic choices. Know of any? Until then I will support locally owned and operated coffee shops where they cups don't match the saucers and the owners kids run around.

My advice is do an experiment on yourself and also do your research about what you consume. I have decided that so long as something is vegan, gluten free, I will consume it perhaps in moderation. I have eaten ice cream everyday for the past 7 days. I lost 2 lbs this week. I'm saying all of that to say if I had restricted myself from eating it, I would have eaten two pints by now! It is the mental block as much as the physical restriction of the food item.

I know this to be true:
  • If you MUST have coffee to get going in the morning...that is a problem...detox off of it and add green juice to your mornings :)
  • Only only only drink organic coffee! This  Dr. Mercola Article sums up all the info on coffee that you need
  • It rarely ever the first thing I drink in the morning
  •  I don't need it to get up in the morning or to keep going with my day. If I did, I would stop drinking it again.
  • I can go for days or weeks without thinking of drinking it
  • Tea is an amazing substitute for that "warm, frothy" feeling that I am seeking that coffee provides
As I type this sipping a steamy mug of Equal Exchange Coffee, I reflect on my memories of coffee. I starting drinking it in 3rd grade... rich, thick with chicory sitting outside in New Orleans while eating peanut butter bread. The memories are as warm as this mug I am holding and I feel good knowing the benefits and the consequences of consuming coffee. Organic, fair-trade.... it works for me.

Do you drink coffee?


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