Saturday, November 16, 2013

Yoga poses for preggos with back pain

I haven't posted in many months now - please forgive me!  A LOT has changed... I am 8 months pregnant with a baby girl. We found out not too long after my last post, and I think between working, being pregnant, and prepping for baby... this blog was at the very bottom of the priority list.

I'll update with all of the exciting details in another post, but for now, I've had some requests from friends regarding yoga poses that help with back pain. I should start off by saying that I am neither a doctor nor a trained yoga instructor, so please consult with your physician before trying anything you read here.

I should also add that although I've been doing yoga for over 4 years, I've selected beginner's poses for my recommendation. I believe that more advanced moves should be done in the presence of a yoga instructor (if these are new to you). Some things I will recommend before practicing these poses:

  • Practice in a warm body. Pre-natal women should NOT participate in hot classes, but I do believe in a good warm up before starting any form of a work out. You'll be less likely to cause injury and the poses will feel much more comfortable. to warm up, you can take a short walk (10-15 minutes), do sun salutations, or even just dance around the room for a while. 
  • Always listen to your body. If anything feels uncomfortable, don't do it. You should push yourself, of course, otherwise you won't get the benefit of the stretch. But, nothing that you do should feel painful or wrong.
  • Depending on how far along you are, you may need to modify the pose. For example, I'm 8 months in. If I do a forward fold, I often need to place my feet a little farther apart to make room for the baby/belly. If you aren't sure on proper modifications, Google and YouTube can be your friends :)  Simply search for the pose name and add "modification" or even "pre-natal." 
  • If ever a pose requires more balancing than you feel comfortable doing, try the pose near a wall or even against a wall. Your safety and your baby's safety are the most important things to consider, so when in doubt, use the room around you to make you feel more comfortable.
  • Learn to breathe using the standard yogic ujjayi breath. Deep inhales and exhales through the nose, using your diaphragm. You'll know you are doing it correctly if (1) it's relaxing, (2) it helps you to focus, and (3) your belly looks like it's breathing (as opposed to your upper chest). The goal with ujjayi breath is to fill the oxygen through the entirety of your lungs. Most people do not breathe fully, and we typically only fill about 1/2 of our lungs. In order to provide your body with more oxygen, these deeper, slower breathes allow us to take in as much oxygen as possible. (Good to remember for during labor...!)
  • Types of poses to avoid or be extra careful in: back bends, inversions, twists. Again - listen to your body!

And now, my personal favorite yoga poses for back relief.  I've grabbed videos from YouTube to help explain the moves. 

Standing Forward Fold/Forward Bend
Good for entire back (focus on lower back) and hamstrings.

  • You can stand with your feet farther apart than hips' width, especially if you are working with a bigger belly.  
  • If your hamstrings are really tight, start with your feet 2-3 apart and do the fold. Adding the angle between hips and ankles makes it easier.  As you feel a little more comfortable, work your feet closer together.
  • Always keep your feet parallel, like skis. 
  • Release your head and neck as much as possible. They should act like dead weight in order to get a lot of the tension out of your head and neck. To test, gently shake your head "no" in the pose. This helps release the muscle a bit.
  • If you like this, add in some standing half forward folds. I usually work my way into a forward fold, then come up into half forward fold, then back down into forward. This feels fantastic on your lower back.
  • When coming out of this pose, roll up one vertebrae at a time, SLOWLY. The roll upwards should start at your lower back, and your head should be the last thing to come up. Do not rush to stand back up as you may feel lightheaded.

Garland Pose (or even squats in general)
Great for opening your hips, lower back.
  • To help open up your legs, use your elbows to push against your knees. You'll know you are doing well when you can get to the point that your forearms are parallel with the floor.
  • If you are feeling very strong, skip the block and do the pose as the instructor on the left does it.
  • If you are having trouble balancing or find this pose very difficult, do the pose so your back is against a wall. The wall will help support you. As you practice more and more, you'll find that you won't need the wall.
  • This is also a great pose to remember for labor. If you don't get an epidural and are able to be mobile, this position provides open hips for easier passage, and also uses gravity to help pull baby down.

Great for entire back and shifting baby a bit if he/she tends to be resting too much to one side/on one nerve/etc.
  • Spread your fingers wide. This will give you better support.
  • Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders, and your knees are directly below your hips.

Wide-legged Child's Pose
Great for entire back.

  • This is more of a relaxation pose, but feels fantastic on your back.
  • No major tips here - she does a great job explaining the pose.

Legs Up the Wall
Great for reducing/preventing foot swelling, lower back.
  • If you feel comfortable, you can do this without the cushion (I prefer without the cushion).
  • If you extend your legs as far as part (into a large V), you'll also stretch your inner thighs.
  • I like to extend my arms out (like a T) for a while, then to put them straight out above my head on the floor. Try out different positions for your arms, it will change the way your upper back relaxes.

Lying Spinal Twist
Great for lower back, hips, groin - a nice, light spinal twist.

  • If you feel comfortable pulling your knees to the chest as she does in the beginning, then that's fine. I personally (at 8 months pregnant), do not, so I skip that part.  Your other option is to pull your knees in, but keep them wide to make room for baby.
  • When your knees are over to one side, make sure that both of your shoulders are flat on the ground. if one of your shoulders lifts, you are losing the benefit of the stretch.
  • If the combination of the 90 degree angle of the legs and keep your shoulders against the ground is uncomfortable, try moving your knees closer to where they normally are. Knees closer to chest = harder, so knees further from chest = easier.

Puppy Pose
Great for upper back and shoulders.
  • No major tips to add, she does a nice job explaining the pose.

These are a few of my personal favorites. I've selected poses that are fairly simple to understand via some YouTube instruction, however, there are plenty of other poses to choose. Some of my other favorites include sleeping pigeon, hero pose, and camel. However, I'd recommend doing those with a yoga instructor around to ensure that you are doing the pose correctly and getting the full benefit of the pose. 

And always remember to end your practice with corpse pose (shavasana) or some simple meditation. Take the time to relax and appreciate the hard work you have done, as well as to thank yourself for taking good care of you and baby. It's as important to work hard in your yoga practice as it is to give your mind some time to silence itself and relax.  Namaste :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lead By Example

I am a HUGE, HUGE believer in leading by example. If you want to show someone the right path, walk that path on your own, and they will be inspired enough to follow. And the next time you give advice, they will be more likely to listen and to apply the advice. And the next time you give advice, make sure it is something you actually apply to your life. Or sentence #2 and #3 wouldn't happen.

Why do I say this?

Because not too long ago, as you may recall, I completed the 40 day Paleo challenge. Then, I finished my 40 day post with a "don't worry, I'll continue blogging" kind of statement. Here I am, about 40 days after that post, and what have I blogged? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Since that last post, I've debated... what do I write about? Do I have anything interesting to say? Ultimately, I felt the answers were "nothing" and "no." The other blogs and sites I follow have a theme. Nutrition. Paleo. Working out. Nerdy stuff. And I felt that I, too, should have a theme. But I like ALL of those things... how do I settle for one?

I don't. I won't.

So tying back into my "leading by example" statement... my friend Josh @ Movies, Comics, Games, and Me wrote a post focusing on his goal to write 1,000,000 words in 5 years. And he touched on the idea that he wasn't quite sure what he was going to write about. Yet, he still endeavors to write.

So, thanks to Josh, for being an example. Because, I too, shall continue to write. And I don't need a theme -so there. =P

A random note to finish this post... to all of my science fiction friends out there: have you seen the movie "Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel?"  No?  Go find it! Watch it, now!! Or, find it in the future, then send it to yourself in the now. Either way.

I promise the movie is better than this picture makes it look.
And once you've seen the movie, come back to this photo. You will thank me.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lower body workout: Dano's Fat Destroyer

Per my new 6 week workout format, today is a lower body day for me. I decided to create my own and share it with you fine folks. I am not a personal trainer, but I do enjoy working out. Hopefully you'll enjoy this workout as much as I did. I had to borrow media from other sites in order to explain some of the exercises - big props to those who created this material!

Remember, before a workout, it is SUPER important that you warm up really well. And afterwards, make sure to stretch and cool down. Both warming up and stretching/cooling down are key ingredients to avoid injury.

Using your interval timer (either GymBoss or a phone app), set your timer to 30 rounds of 10 seconds rest, 45 seconds work.  It's a nice blend of lower body-focused moves and cardio that you'll have a nice sweat going.  There are 10 exercises, and you will complete three rounds of the following:

  • Squat Jumps
  • Alternating Inner Thigh Lifts
  • Squat, Side Step, and Calf Raise
  • High Knees
  • Alternating Back Lunge and Knee Lift
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Weighted One Leg Deadlifts
  • Burpees
  • Reverse Plank Step Outs
  • Wide Squat and Standing Side Sweep

Exercise definitions:
Squat Jumps 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Squat, bending knees to form a 90 degree angle. Your goal is to get your quads parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep knees over heels/ankles, or at least behind the toes. If your knees forward past the toes, you will be prone to injury.
  3. Jump! Keep a straight back, and try to jump high enough to straighten your legs out as well. The higher you jump, the hard you are working :)
  4. Repeat.

Alternating Inner Thigh Lifts

Squat, Side Step, and Calf Raise
This, but side steps between.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Squat, bending knees to form a 90 degree angle. Your goal is to get your quads parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep knees over heels/ankles, or at least behind the toes. If your knees forward past the toes, you will be prone to injury.
  3. Take a step to the right while remaining in a squat.
  4. Push up into a calf raise.
  5. Squat, and take a step to the left while remaining in a squat
  6. Push up into a calf raise.
  7. Squat, and repeat steps 3-6 until time runs out.

High Knees

Alternating Back Lunge and Knee Lift

Jumping Jacks
I don't think this one needs an explanation :)

Weighted One Leg Deadlifts

From Women's Health.


  1. Start standing, with knees shoulder width apart.
  2. Squat, placing hands just outside of feet.
  3. Jump or step back into a plank.
  4. Push-up.
  5. Jump or step back up into squat.
  6. Jump up!
  7. Repeat.

Reverse Plank Step Outs

  1. Get into a reverse plank (left photo).
  2. Maintain proper form, while stepping right leg out (right photo).
  3. Return to reverse plank.
  4. Repeat with left leg.

Wide Squat and Standing Side Sweep

Explained best via Shape magazine.

Please consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before attempting anything mentioned on this site...

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Bucket List

I thought it would be fun to create and track a bucket list. On our honeymoon, Marcos and I keep saying to each other "it would be so fun to take dancing lessons." Almost a year later, and we are learning salsa... and it's a BLAST!! Nothing - not excuses, not your schedule, not your self - should ever get in the way of your goals.

To Do
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Do a night dive (SCUBA)
  • Go shooting at a gun range
  • Write a song with Marcos
  • Participate in building a Habitat for Humanity home
  • Have a child/children
  • Write a book
  • Fly first class
  • Write my will
  • Whale watching cruise
  • Oasis or Allure of the Seas (Royal Caribbean's largest fleet to date) cruise
  • Hold a forearm stand for 15 seconds

To Go
  • Brazil
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Boston
  • Seattle
  • Italy
  • England
  • Ireland
  • India
  • Austin (again, but with Marcos)

To Learn

  • Salsa Level 1 (at Dancin' Motion School of the Arts)
  • Salsa Level 2
  • Salsa Level 3 in progress
  • Salsa Level 4
  • Salsa Level 5
  • Salsa Level 6
  • Conquer Portuguese in progress
  • Photography
  • Buy a telescope, and learn the constellations.
  • Play piano

To See
  • Experience a world famous festival
  • The Northern Lights
  • Grand Canyon
  • A famous waterfall (Niagara, Iguassu, or any other large scale waterfall)
  • Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • A comet via telescope
  • The ball drop on NYE in Time's Square
  • Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
  • A play on Broadway
  • South by Southwest

To Watch
  • 100 Best Movies of All Time (AFI's list)
  • Every movie that has ever won an Academy Award for Best Picture
  • All of the Star Trek series
  • All of the "old" Doctor Who's

Sunday, March 24, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 38, 39, & 40

Today is the last day of the challenge! I have some good news and some less-than-good news. I won't call it bad, because I am not regretting what happened.

Less-than-good news first -- we went to a wedding yesterday, and decided in advance that we would have some wine or champagne (or whatever was being served) to celebrate with the couple. We felt that it was okay because it was a special occasion. And like I said, we don't regret it. So we were not perfectly aligned to Paleo for the 40 days, but we were darn near close. And we feel so good at the end of it all, that we have decided to continue Paleo eating for all meals except our weekly date night. So we'll give ourselves one meal a week to "cheat."

The good -- or maybe I should say -- GREAT news. I got my thyroid blood work results back from the doctor. ALL OF MY LEVELS ARE NORMAL! Actually, my T3 Total was a smidge low (68, normal range is 80-200), but the doc said it wasn't worth worrying over. So, in 3 months, I'll go back and repeat the blood work to monitor my levels. So the part I find interesting, is that my first blood work was done as part of my annual check up in January. My TSH level was 5.9, and normal is considered 0.4-4.0 or 0.3-3.0 (more recently it was lowered to the latter range). The 5.9 was taken before the Paleo challenge. The test I took recently was about 35 days into the challenge, and my TSH was 3.09. So the question is -- why did it change? Could it be the Paleo change in diet? And is that only related to the food, or no alcohol?  It's hard to say. It will be interesting to see what the results is in 3 months. I'll keep you all posted.

So just because the Paleo challenge is over, do not think I'm done blogging. It was difficult to maintain on a daily basis, so I will definitely be posting less frequently, but I promise the content will get better. Thanks for following me on this journey :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 37

Sorry for being a Negative Nancy yesterday. I was being a bit of a wimp. After a good night's rest and some hot yoga this evening, I'm feeling centered again. Thanks for letting me be a cry baby. I think I just hate the waiting game -- I only did the lab work yesterday and am already impatient for the results.

So we bought a new juicer. I think I mentioned that yesterday. But we feel terrible throwing away all of the pulp from the items we juice. So... we are trying something interesting. We're using the "pulp" in our onion bead and our carrot muffins tonight. Our initial taste tests are suggesting that the outcome will be equally as yummy, and now, with more nutrients. And to top it off, we aren't wasting what we would normally just toss out. Yes!

Day 37
The usual (no onion bread though)


Slow-cooked stew: steak, cauliflower, squash, onions, green onions

Btw... did you know this about green onions? We've been growing our own in our kitchen window sill now. Pretty cool!

An apple, some almonds.

Juice!!! Kale, beets, carrots, mangoes, celery. DELICIOUSNESS.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 35 & 36

Went in for lab work (blood test of T3, T4, TSH, and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies) today. Hopefully the turnaround is quick.  I'm not feeling like my usual, positive self today. I feel like someone has come up and burst my happy bubble. I cried twice at work and once on the way home. Granted, I am a very sensitive person and cry very easily (there is usually one story each morning on the news that is able to get me all teary-eyed).  But today's cry's were for me. I know tomorrow I will look back at the way I feel right now and scoff at myself, because my "problems" are so minuscule. But some days, the stress of it all (work and this thyroid junk) just weighs a little too heavily on you. That's all I have to say about that. Promise to be on the up and up tomorrow. I'm already feeling better, now that I've shared. Thanks, free blog therapy.

Day 35
The usual.

A weird assortment of whatever I could quickly grab between meetings: grilled steak, an apple, cashews.

Carrot muffin -- we love these things

We got a new juicer! We had juice for dinner, consisting of beets, celery, carrots, spinach, apples. We were inspired from watching "Hungry for Change" the night before. Ironically, the juice we bought is the same one used by Joe Cross from "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." If you haven't heard of that documentary, watch it. Also, "Food Matters." 

Day 36
The usual - minus onion bread.

Baked mahi-mahi (garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne), roasted veggies (broccoli, onion, squash), roasted asparagus.

A banana and cashews. I love cashews.

For the 3rd time in all of the 40 days, we went out to eat at a Brazilian steakhouse. Stuck to the salad bar and meat only. With the way I am feeling today, I had to battle ever ounce of my will to say no to the half off bottle of wine special. Don't worry, I didn't give in. Still going strong.

Monday, March 18, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 34

Holy cow, we're under the one week mark already. That went fast!

I had a visit with the doctor today to review my thyroid ultrasound results. Quick recap:

  • Hospitalized in December for some stupid virus... no need to recap all of that fun.
  • Decided in January that it would be really smart to have a PCP (Primary Care Physician)
  • Found a reputable doctor via Angie's List, had a blood test
  • TSH levels came back high. "Normal" range is either 0.4-4.5 or 0.3-3.5 (old norms versus proposed new norms). My TSH level was 5.9. Via either norms, it's considered high.
  • Had an ultrasound on my neck to determine if there is any damage to said thyroid.
Okay, now we're caught up on my recap, here's your short and sweet overview of the thyroid:
Your thyroid is a large component of your endocrine system, and plays a major part in your metabolism. One of the tests your doctor can run to check on your thyroid is to check your TSH levels. TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, is the hormone that stimulates your thyroid to do it's thing. If your thyroid is not responsive enough, your body creates more TSH to nudge it along. Thus, high TSH levels indicate an under-active thyroid, yielding a slower metabolism (fatigue, depression, weight gain without trying, and other side effects). This condition is known as hypothyroidism. I find it funny that I don't feel like I have any of the symptoms. Maybe every once in a while, but I figured it was normal tiredness, or normal feeling cold... not often enough or bad enough to even think about.

Thyroid issues run in my family, so no surprise there. But because the body is not simple, there are many different issues that could be the cause of or caused by hypothyroidism. So the next step was to do the ultrasound.  

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your lower neck.

Pretty, right? Apparently mine has 3 large nodules, or growths.My doctor explained them as a form of damage incurred by my thyroid. It's not reversible, so these nodules will forever be with me (welcome to my body, little nodules). I have two on my right lobe and one on my left.  The doc described them, in size, as "one M&M and two Tic-Tacs." (Love the mental image... candy floating around on my thyroid.) 

Nodules are growths. But fortunately, 95% of nodules are benign. And when multiple exist, the incidence of cancer is even lower. So we've ruled out cancer (although the "C" word in conversation did jolt me a little).

I'm going for a new blood test on Wednesday. This one will retest my TSH levels, as well as test T3, T4, and antithyroglobulin anti-bodies. T3 and T4 are the hormones that the thyroid produces, and if there is a presence of antithyroglobulin, then I suspect the doctor will diagnose me with Hashimoto's disease.  Per my research (Google, I love you)... doctors generally test for antithyroglobulin if they suspect Hashimoto's (hypothyroid disease), Grave's (hyperthyroid disease), or if they are tracking thyroid cancer. 

Hashimoto's is an auto-immune disease, which would mean that my body is attacking my thyroid (thus, the reason for the damage to the thyroid). But that is as far as I will speculate for now. Fortunately, thyroid diseases have a good prognosis -- nothing to worry about. The biggest downfall, in my opinion, is that my doctor would want to put me on a supplement. I am not cool with medication. I want none of it in my body. But I'll cross that bridge if/when I get there. If that's the case, my research about natural remedies/options for hypothyroidism will be my new hobby :)

Okay, enough rambling about my bow-tie looking gland.

Food diary time!

The usual

Slow-cooked stew (chicken, Brussels sprouts, squash, celery, garlic, cayenne, salt, pepper)

Banana, carrot muffin, almond butter (I snacked a little extra after the doctor)

Haven't had it just yet. We're thinking about making a smoothie of some sort (Paleo friendly, don't you worry your pretty little head!)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

DIY painting and tips

Hooray! I did my own version of a Pinterest DIY craft today. And it turned out exactly as I'd hoped.  Let me share.

A few weeks ago, I saw this Pinterest item (what do you call the individual articles on Pinterest, anyways?):

DIY Wall Art

And using the steps from that Pinterest pin, I created my own, similar-but-difference painting.

My inspiration comes from this metal piece that we bought at HomeGoods. Pardon the terrible photo quality. I must get a real camera.  This piece is mostly a golden-bronze color, with silver, circular pieces at the end of the branches. In the middle of the circles is more of the golden-bronze color.

Our living room wall is large and slopes upwards, and this one piece is definitely not enough to cover the wall. So, I decided to add some paintings that mimic this piece. The paintings would sit on both sides of this piece on our wall, and angle upwards to conform with the odd shape of the wall.

I bought two same-sized canvases, and painting them entirely in this Venetian gold color. When that dried, I laid the metal piece over the two canvases, and used a pencil to stencil the outline.

Using that outline, I put down blue painter's tape for the branches and circular stickers. The tape and stickers will maintain the gold beneath them.  Then, I covered both canvases in a deep blue color.  After the blue dried, I used a silver spray paint to spray over where the stickers were.  Here's where I started taking photos. You an faintly see the outlines of where the tape branches are.

After peeling back the tape and stickers...

Before hanging on the walls, I used two tricks I recently learned. Use blue painter's tape to mark the center line along the wall. This will help maintain a sense of symmetry between the objects.

Also, cut out pieces of paper the same size as the objects you into to hang. Use painter's tape to hang these pieces of paper on the wall. Its easy to move these items, and you haven't created any unnecessary holes in your wall. :)

This was not my final configuration, but
thought I'd snap a quick pic as an example.

 End result... btw, the lighting is not truly accurate. Our couches are a sage green color.  And I hate the rug. Expect that gone soon.

Any Heroes fans?? "Ya-taaa!!!"

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 32 & 33

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  What are you doing to celebrate? I'm... not doing anything. Ha. And one of my several backgrounds is Irish.  I am seeing tons of photos on Facebook of people out drinking, and the best part is, I don't feel like I'm missing out. This Paleo stint has been so good to me and so good for me. Feeling great, feeling good!!!!

I've been majorly productive this weekend, and feel like I am finally sitting down to relax (for the moment). My thoughts are all over the place, and for this post, I am going to be totally random. Enjoy my craziness.

I love Pink. Ever since that concert, I've been obsessed. During every workout, that's my background music. My neighbors were at the same concert that we attended, only FEET from Pink!! They got some good pics, and let us borrow their DVD of Pink in concert in Australia (from her Funhouse tour). She's amazing. Love. Her.

I have a Star Trek running in the background while I write this. Love that, too!

I just made another batch of carrot muffins. I added a bit of cocoa powder to the batch, and as they were cooling, I created my own Paleo "icing." I slowly melted down some creamed coconut, and then put it into a cup that would easily pour the "icing" onto the muffins. Before pouring, I let it sit for a minute or two to thicken up. Delicious. I love Paleo eating. We're definitely continuing this style after our "challenge" (which has not been a challenge at all!).

Another thing I love: Quicken. Totally random. But it's a super simple piece of software that let's me manage our budget, our plans to save for various things (build up our "just in case" savings, Brazil vacation savings, etc.). It gives me good insight into what is happening with our money. I've always been pretty good at managing our money flow, but Quicken makes things SO MUCH EASIER.

I decided to try something I saw on Pinterest this weekend. It's a painting.  I'm not recreating the exact same painting, but am using the method shown. I will share it once it's finished :) I still have a few steps to complete, so let's pray it comes out okay! I should have taken photos as I completed each step so I could share here. C'est la vie.

Yesterday was my last day of 6 weeks straight of training. Today begins my rest week, as is my recently adopted format.  I will probably attend some yoga classes this week and go for walks, but mostly, I'll take it easy. Then I'll start up my next 6 weeks of training. I'll probably come up with a new format to switch things up.  I'll share the new format once I have figured out what is ideal for my schedule.

Marcos & I have one more class of level 2 Salsa. Then we move on to level 3! Crazy. I can't believe how fast the classes are going.

Okay, on to the food diary part of my blog. Enough ADD. I am only part way through today (Day 33), so I will guess at my next few meals and update accordingly later.

Day 32
The usual. I love that I can use that phrase.

Rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods, and salad (mixed greens, tomato, grated carrots, Kalamazoo Olive Co.'s Tuscan olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar)

Carrot muffin

Mixed nuts, green apple -- wasn't very hungry

Day 33

The usual.

Grilled steak and salad

Carrot muffin

Slow-cooked soup (chicken, yellow squash, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, celery, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper)

Friday, March 15, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 30 & 31

the moon, duh
I love coincidences. Two days ago, I posted about how I think space is da bomb.  Yesterday, my husband's coworker invited us out to the beach to look for the Pan-STARRs comet. He had a rockin' telescope, and unfortunately, we weren't able to see the comet. But Marcos and I didn't care -- we got to see, in incredible detail: the moon, Jupiter, and Orion's nebula.

Jupiter and it's glorious stripes

AWESOME!!  No complaints from us that we didn't get to see the comet. It was nerdtastic.

Orion's belt and the Orion nebula
Days 30 & 31

So, I have sort of failed in keeping track of what I've eaten yesterday and today. I can tell you that breakfast has been the norm, lunch has been roasted veggies and meat, and dinner has been small both days.  I've had less food for dinner both days, which has been my goal (that I haven't been keeping up with). Because my dinners were smaller, I slept better, and woke up thinner than normal (woohoo!). There isn't a need for large dinners, because your body isn't going to exert much energy in the evening (most days). So why stuff your belly and then pray that your digestive process can get through it all (which it usually can't)? 

But to make up for my lack of food diary, I have one of our onion bread recipes for you. Yay! I think at the end of the challenge, I'll collect all of the recipes I've posted thus far, and make each recipe an individual post. It should make finding them later easier for you (and me).

Onion "Bread" (Paleo, raw-ish)

  • 3 large, white onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup flaxseed
  • 2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons oregano (plus or minus, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil (or fresh, it's better!)
  • 1 tablespoons tamari
Note: your ingredients can kind of vary here. Sometimes we add cayenne pepper or ghost pepper, to give the batch a kick.  Get creative with your spices and ingredients. Experiment on your own or search other recipes for ideas.

mushy mess
  1. Grind sunflower seeds in food processor.
  2. Add ground sunflower seeds, flaxseed, oregano, basil to a large bowl.
  3. Remove the outer layers of the onions.
  4. Put the first onion in the food processor. Blend that bad boy until it's mush.
  5. Add the onion to the large bowl with dry ingredients.
  6. Repeat with onion #2, #3, and the tomato. (I find it easier to do them individually, there's no harm in batch processing them.)
  7. Add tamari to the large bowl.
  8. Mix all ingredients really well. Sample the batch. If you find it needs more of a certain flavor, by all means, add it, you crazy fool!  
  9. Spread equal amounts of this mushy mess onto dehydrator sheets. Shape each as you wish (we tend to do circular).  Make sure that there aren't any bare spots and that all of the mixture connects.  
  10. Dehydrate on 115 degrees for at least 8 hours. The time will vary based on the thickness of the mixture on each sheet. Ours usually takes 10-11 hours or so.
  11. That's it! When finished, store the "bread" in a container. Leaving it out in the open air will allow the moisture back in, and that's counter-productive. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 29

Space is cool. Over the past couple of years, I've come to appreciate it more and more. Particularly, space requires kind of a unique perspective on things. And I'm not just talking about my love of Star Trek or Doctor Who. 

How often do you look up to the sky and actually think about what you are looking at? Stars are these magnificent, burning balls of gas millions of miles away. That sliver of moon you're seeing? It's not a sliver, you're only able to see the side of the moon that is being illuminated by our own magnificent, burning ball of gas. And the sun -- without it, we wouldn't continue to exist. It provides heat, and energy, and is a necessity for our survival.

And while we look up at this blue or black blanket seeming to cover our sky, we are usually too busy in our lives to think beyond it. While we're stressing about our daily commute, or what to make for dinner, how often do you stop and debate the bigger things? Sometimes I pause, look up to the sky, and am reminded that there is so much more out there.  Perhaps there other life forms out. If so, are they simply microorganisms, or are the sentient beings capable of logic and creativity and love and hate?  And how beautiful would a pulsar be to observe? And how freaky is the concept of a black hole?  While we're busy worrying about making a deadline or stressing over bills, at any moment, so chaotic event could happen from space that would just end our existence. An asteroid could crush us into smithereens. Of course, I'm a big believer in only worrying about the things you can control (asteroids are not on that list)... but in the end, will the things that stress you on a daily basis really matter? If that jerk cut you off in traffic.. in time, will it impact anyone? this planet? the universe?  No. So, let it go. And pray that jerk gets a face full of asteroid.

Chandra Crab Pulsar

Space may not always be on your list of "bigger things" to ponder -- but I think it's a simple way to refocus your perspective. If you think about it -- a lot of the little things we sweat over pale in comparison to the size of rest of the universe. There is so much beauty, so much unknown to learn about, so much potential. Feel like you'd like to learn more? I recommend something simple and simply genius... such as Stephen Hawking's Into the Universe (I know it's on Netflix).

Recently, we've upped our nerd levels and tried to locate ways we can feel more connected to space. We signed up for alerts from NASA which tell you when the ISS (International Space Station) will be passing over your city.  You need nothing more than your eyes to spot it. That thing is FAST. It was such a rush when we were able to spot it a few weeks ago.  We also have an app on our phones (Meteor Shower Calendar) that informs you when meteor showers will be visible. Tonight, we ran outside because we heard on the news that the Comet PanSTARRS would be visible in the sky (I think we just missed it. Boo.).


In time, we'd like to get a telescope, but not now.. we're saving up for a trip to Brazil. Or that could be a major hint for anyone looking to buy us Christmas gifts. :)  

Okay, enough rambling. I didn't really have anything to talk about, but since Marcos and I ran out to see PanSTARRS a few minutes ago, I figured space was worth a few words.

On to the food diary....

Day 29
The usual (no onion bread). Making new onion bread now -- will post the recipe tomorrow. I want to confirm that my spice measurements were sufficient for flavor first.

Amy's Tomato Soup, I wasn't particularly hungry.

Carrot Muffins... with this batch, I used cream of coconut (condensed coconut) to make an icing. De.Lish.

Steak, sausage, mixed greens salad

Cup of warm milk and nutmeg. I know milk is an "on-the-fence" Paleo item, but I've slept poorly these last few nights, and warm milk with a nutmeg is a surefire way to knock me out.  G'night :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 27 & 28

Wow. We are getting there. Our last day will be March 24th (Day 40), which is right around the corner! I'm still getting over this nasty cold, so my interest in blogging as at an all time low. I received another Birchbox yesterday, so I will put up my thoughts on the products again, once I've used them all. So far, one of the products was such a hit with me that I ordered more already!

On to the boring ol' food diary:

Day 27
The usual

Carrot Muffins (so good.. can't.. stop.. eating..)

Slow-cooked stew: shredded chicken, hot Italian sausage, veggies (broccoli, sausage, onions, mushrooms), spices (fresh garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper), olive oil, water

Crack Carrot Muffins

Slow-cooked stew

Day 28

The usual

Carrot Muffins

Slow-cooked stew

Brinner (no onion bread, no coffee)

Carrot Muffins

Sunday, March 10, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 25 & 26

Hi all -- another busy busy weekend. Spent yesterday with the hubby's fam, and today was a cooking/cleaning/catch up kind of a day. I think I finally stopped moving ... a minute ago. I'm still feeling rather sicky, and should have taken this weekend to rest.

I hadn't thought of anything interesting to blog about today, but I will tell you that we (my husband, his brothers, and a brother's girlfriend) went to the Three Days Grace & Shinedown concert last night. Great performances. My ears are still ringing. Not drinking meant we got to watch all of the concertgoers slowly deteriorate throughout the night.  That added to the entertainment factor.

Shinedown -- new look. I'm diggin' it.

Okay, on to the food diary then I'm going to get ready for the Walking Dead. Love that show. Or any shows involving the un-dead. Zombies, vampires... love it!

Day 25
The usual

Sauteed chicken, cabbage, and other veggies.

Medjool dates

Paleo-style salad at Sweet Tomotoes (just before the concert)

Day 26
The usual

Salad (mixed greens, kalamata olives, grated carrots, grape tomatoes, etc.)

Sauteed flounder (garlic, salt, pepper) and "creamed kale" (kale, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper, salt, ghost pepper, coconut milk)

From a NEW site I've found!  Multiply Delicious' Carrot Muffins

Friday, March 8, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 23 & 24

I have a nasty cold so today's post is going to be lacking.

Day 23
Scrambled eggs, homemade bacon, veggies, and coffee.

A burger patty and medjool dates - this was the peak of feeling crappy for me, so I didn't feel like putting effort into food.

Almonds and an apple

Leftover bacon-wrapped scallops, tomato soup.

Day 24
The usual (minus homemade bacon).

Sauteed veggies (broccoli, squash, onions, carrots), chicken & cabbage

Leftover carrot cake

Repeat of lunch

Justin's Almond Butter. Clearly I'm feeling better :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 22

I got my first "fix" today... from Stitch Fix!  It was like Christmas in a box. Get ready for a photo-filled post. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so I'll spare you - and me - the rambling and just get to it.
Can't you hear it? The box is screaming:
"Open Me! Open Me!"
Keep going!

Each clothing item came with 2 suggestions
how it could be paired with other items.

I considered trying the clothes on to take photos, but opted not to today.
LOVED (and ultimately, decided to keep) this shirt.

Didn't love the fit (loose) plus horizontal lines.
Not entirely flattering. A for effort.

Adorable! Great detail - a little bit of sparkle in the fabric and cute little buttons. Decided to send this
one back,though... it will be too warm in FL very soon.

My attempt to show the detail. Camera pics never do real life justice.

Knew from the moment I pulled this dress out of the box...
we were meant to be together.

Loved... but didn't love the price. I need to update my "willing to spend"
amount in my style profile.

That was fun. I can't wait for my next fix next month. And I haven't even worn the new stuff yet!

And now back to things that are truly important... FOOD!

Day 22
Bacon wrapped scallops, mixed greens salad.
The usual, with a twist. We. Made. Our. Own. Bacon. and cooked it with our breakfast this morning. How do ya like them apples?!

Leftovers from yesterday: burger, roasted veggies, sweet potato fries.

Almonds, dried cranberries, a banana. Nothing exciting.

Bacon wrapped scallops, mixed greens salad and grated carrot with some dressing I just whipped up (sauteed bacon, purple onions, grape tomatoes, balsamic vinegar).

I made PaleOMG's Carrot Cake Donuts... but I made mine as a cake only. SO DELISH.
CARROT CAKE!!! nom nom

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 21

So, my husband and I had an interesting realization today. From February 13 to March 30 is more than 40 days. In fact, it's 45 days. Originally, the days in Lent did not include counting Sundays. Instead of being hardcore and sticking it out to 45 days - and at the risk of messing up all of my blog post titles - we are just going to stick it out until whatever date Day 40 is.

Tonight, for dinner, Marcos and I turned out some rockin' food. If you want me to post the recipes, just let me know. It took a total of an hour (including cooking time) to make but made 4 separate dishes.

Eggs and coffee. We were lazy this morning.

Leftover stew from yesterday.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie (with a little extra chocolate hazelnut butter on the side as "icing")

Terrible photo. DELICIOUS food.
Roasted veggies (cauliflower, squash, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oil)
Roasted Brussels sprouts (Brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper)
Sweet potato fries (sweet potatoes, salt, Savory Spice Shop's black truffle Italian sea salt)
Burgers (grass-fed beef, garlic, salt, pepper)

Monday, March 4, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 18, 19, & 20

Can you say SLACKER?! Busy weekend = no posts. The irony is that I said, in my last post, that my next post would be more exciting. Guess I didn't foresee that my next post would be three days away. I'm see you all survived. Don't worry... this is my longest post in a while. So I feel I've redeemed myself.

If you don't know yet, shame on you.

I've decided to take a risk and become a consumer of two separate companies who have the same unique concept. The first company is called Birchbox and the second company is called Stitch Fix.

Friday, March 1, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 17

Mega sleepy after a long workday (6am - 4:30pm) followed by birthday shopping for the hubby, followed by salsa, then an extra hour of salsa practice at home. I'm pooped!  Will have a more exciting post tomorrow.  Thanks for being understanding :)

The usual.

Leftover curried veggies and grilled steak.

Medjool dates and walnuts.

3 broiled chicken wings (ran out of time)

Double layer fudge

Thursday, February 28, 2013

40 Day Paleo Challenge - Days 15 & 16

Wow, what an amazing concert last night. Pink has an amazing voice, is a fantastic entertainer, and is SO FIT! I love her! The choreography was amazing - some of which was very Cirque du Soleil-like. I have been to quite a few concerts, and this takes my new #1 spot. Yes, something has finally kicked Avenged Sevenfold out of my #1 spot (whom I've seen in concert 9 times). On top of it all, she seemed so relaxed and real. She chatted between some of the songs -- and she is 100% cool. I am in love.

Yep, she did that.

This too. And tons of other crazy stuff. love.

Stage view from our executive suite.The seats down below are ours too. And these tickets were free! How lucky are we?!

3 of my best friends! I can't believe how long we've known each other and stayed close. What a blessing! "We're all grown up now!"

What a blasty blast!!  Okay, now on to the food blog.

Day 15
Not the usual. Apple and some cashews.. ran out of time.

A yummy stew my hubby put together of liver, hot Italian sausage, collard greens, squash, and other veggies. 

Banana and some cashews.

Repeat of lunch.

Soooo the exec suite had free adult beverages and food. Marcos and I were good... we had grapes and water. Yay. 

Day 16
The usual (yay!)

Leftover curry.

Medjool dates.. Didn't have much time between meetings to think about what I wanted to snack on. Mistake.. I LOVE dates and ate FAR too many. 

Haven't had it yet. Probably some form of leftovers (curry or stew). 

And just because I'm sharing lots of pictures, here is one we took specially for our friend, Paul.

For those of you who don't know, Marcos is Brazilian.