Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What Do We Want

It's been a long time since I wrote on this blog. It hasn't traditionally a place where I share my religious and spiritual views, but I would like it to be that as well.

So, for what it's worth, here are some thoughts from my study of the gospel of Jesus Christ today, specifically from the Book of Mormon.

From verse 26 of chapter seven in Moroni: "...And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you."

As I pondered this scripture and it occurred to me that the only stipulation other than faith, for being granted something is that if it were good. Not “right” or “God’s will” but simply good. So, then I thought about faith - actually believing we will receive it - and I thought that if we are to have that kind of conviction, it has to be something that we really want as well. If it’s good but we don’t really want it to happen, even if we prayed for it, it would not be granted (even if we believed that God COULD grant it to us), because we don’t actually want it to happen, i.e. we are not ready for it...

I think that God gives us what we really want a lot more than we think He does. And when we don’t get the good things that we want, one of the reasons COULD be that we are deceiving ourselves about if we really want that prayer answered. What a powerful thought. That the good things we want, if we KNOW they are good and we KNOW we want them, they can be granted to us. We are creative beings, capable of making good things happen by our faith. Our own brand of good things. Maybe we need to spend a little less time worrying about exactly what God’s plan is for us, or what He wants for us in every little thing and start pondering on what we really want. What do we want to become? What do we want to accomplish with our time on earth? What do we WANT? And when we are sure. Ask.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Health Experiment Numero Uno

I am going to do this for 6 weeks (in the strictest sense, but really its for life). Starting 3 days ago.

I know, I should have posted this before I started it, but I didn't have time what with cleaning my apartment for check-out (I am moving to Seattle. YAY! I will post about that at some point.)

So let me just say, I feel like crap right now. Why? Because sugar is a drug and when you eat really awful things (I hate tons of crap before I started this thing, kind of like a death-sentenced man's last meal mentality, which only made it harder on myself and I knew it... sigh), followed by really healthy things, your body begins a detox process. I don't know why (I will research it and let you know), but detoxing feels really BAD. People describe various symptoms: stuffy nose, headache, flu-like feelings, fatigue, diziness, etc. The biggest one for me is a headache. I also feel a bit dizzy. Oh, and angry at the world.

Going off sugar alone feels bad because you go through withdrawals. The first two days have been the worst.  Yesterday I hated everyone, especially the nice and happy people. And no one can tell me that sugar is not a drug because I craved it like a banshee yesterday. Thankfully, today I feel emotionally better, but I still have a headache.

So what am I doing to feel so wonderful? Let me detail it for you:

Health Experiment Numero Uno

Diet -

  • Eliminate gluten
  • Eliminate sugar
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible (my shopping cart selection shouldn't have any food labels...)
  • Eat more veggies (this deserves its own post. A confession post, because... I don't like veggies. gasp.)
  • Eat plenty of raw, fresh fruit
  • Eat quality protein in every meal (grass fed/clean meats, fish, eggs, yogurt, beans, legumes, quinoa, and chia. Mostly plant sources and fish)
  • Eat gluten free whole grains (the only ones I know how to cook and quinoa and rice, so this one needs some experimenting...)
  • Include healthy fats - olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds
  • Drink at least 67.5 oz of water throughout the day (body weight in pounds divided by two = ounces of water you need), probably more since I live in dryville and I work out.
  • Take a high quality fish oil supplement, at least  (I take Xtend Life brand fish oil. I have done hours of my own research on the best fish oil supplement.)
Misc - 
  • Exercise at least 4 times per week - alternating cardio and strength training. Always stretch after.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours each night and go to bed before midnight (preferably by 10:30)
  • Body brush every day (this sounds odd to those of you who have never heard of it, I bet. Check it out... Benefits of the Body Brush)
And that's it. This is really a hodge-podge of all the health books/articles I have read over the last couple of years. If you have a question about any of it, let me know and I will explain myself.

I will update every few days on how I feel and changes that I notice, emotionally and physically. I will also take before and after pictures of my face because I think that you can see all the differences in someone's health there.

Now, I must go make raw brownies. Again. For sanity.

Update - January 29, 2013

Okay, so I only made it two weeks. One of our vendors at work took us to Tucanos Brazilian Grill and though I resisted gluten, I caved when they brought the dessert tray around. As I used to work there, I know the merits of their creme brulee, and suddenly I heard myself saying, "Emily, wanna share one with me?" and in my head, I was rationalizing like an expert. I would only have a couple of bites. Combined with all the fats I just ate, the sugar will really not do much to my blood sugar, right?

Well, the floodgates opened and I have since fallen back into gluten as well. I am such an all or nothing kind of person, that I fall into this trap a lot. I have since rationalized that with still being in the process of moving, I will have to start this diet up again once I get settled in Seattle.

However, I would like to record here some of the things I noticed during the two weeks I was sugar and gluten free:

I felt much more stable, emotionally. My crazy spells of extreme irritability were nearly non-existent. I also felt a lot less restless (which I didn't know was such a constant until I didn't feel it as much anymore). I noticed a general feeling of, how can I describe it... fluidity in my body as well. My joints didn't ache and I just felt less inflamed.

I lost the craving for sugar almost entirely for the first week, until sugar didn't actually appeal to me. However, during the second week, the cravings came back and I am not sure why. I think I was consuming large amounts of fruit as a subconscious way to fill my emotional eating needs and that must have thrown things off. Fruits can still cause blood sugar extremes if eaten in excess and without other foods that slow absorption. I will have to watch this next time.

I have actually decided to try an elimination diet experiment next time that does a better job of "resetting" the body and illuminating those things that the body is having an immune reaction to. I will post about that once I have settled in Seattle.

Body, be my friend...please...

"Okay, Kathryn. That is it. No more eating crap. It's time to commit to a diet of mostly celery. And you will love it. Or else."

I don't know how many times I have said that to myself. Maybe not word for word. I probably substituted kale for celery sometimes. The point is: harsh restriction. No more fun. Ever. Rabbit diet.

Pretty much every January, me and I have a chat about this. And then every Monday from then on. All year. I have even written up a pledge to my new diet and signed it. I thought about signing it in blood once, but I figured that would be going too far. Plus, I am sure it still wouldn't have worked.

Its amazing the crazy-intense pep talks and preparations we conjure up in an attempt to insure that we will stick to our goals THIS time, just to get to the end of that very same day and wolf down a half dozen Krispy Kremes with little more than a whispered, "I PROMISE I will start tomorrow" to ourselves.

What have I learned from these countless attempts to finally "eat healthy?" Will power is NOT enough. And the more we bully ourselves, the harder it gets. So what the heck do we do?!

When we are trying to stop over-eating, stop eating crap, or stick to an exercise regime, we begin to see our bodies as the ultimate enemy. It's truly an exhausting battle. And how sad to hate a part of ourselves with such venom!

I have learned that if we are to be successful at any kind of self-change, we have got to be MORE kind and understanding to ourselves, not less. Stop telling yourself that you are some kind of strange creature for loving Ben and Jerry more than your husband (of course this is not true, but when we are in the grip of cravings, it sure seems that way). You have to know WHY you love sugar and carbs. They cause an elevated level of serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for making us feel happy and content. Stop punishing yourself for wanting to feel good. Once we accept ourselves, it is much easier to make a change. Its the same at work. We work harder for a boss who respects us.

I have learned that our bodies are truly our best friends when it comes to making a healthy change. We just have to understand how they work. We have to understand what our intense cravings mean, how we misread them, and how to deliver exactly what our bodies need instead. When we work with our body's natural processes and needs, we can achieve balanced, beautiful health. With that comes weight loss, balanced moods, more energy, and especially peace with ourselves and with food.

I have stubbed my toe on the tip of the ice berg of the importance of insulin and blood sugar (bad metaphor, perhaps. What am I doing in iceberg frequented waters, and why am I swimming feet first? Lets just go with it for now...). I have learned that when I eat a meal devoid of protein and healthy fats (like my go-to green smoothie I used to drink for breakfast every morning. I will post about it and put a link here later), my blood sugar spikes and then falls and I feel like crap. Beneath the crappy feeling, my body is desperately trying to regulate the amount of sugar in my blood. It pumps out insulin. Insulin signals my body to store the excess glucose in my blood as fat. The high level of insulin in my blood also signals my body that it has LOW blood sugar, so within a couple of hours, I get insane cravings for sugar and carbs. And the cycle continues.

Recently I read a book entitled "Potatoes, Not Prozac." I didn't even finish it. I read like one chapter. I have not done my homework on this book, but the basic premise rang so true to me that I immediately made a change in my diet. The book basically preaches the importance of protein/carbohydrate pairing to regulate the absorption of sugar into the blood-stream. I started adding protein to every meal, especially to my breakfast and it was amazing how much more stable I felt. And full. I could go hours without cravings.

I have also learned that I am gluten intolerant, as are many, many Americans, they just don't know it. I could go into depth about why (GMO wheat, run-away leaky guts, etc), but that will have to be for another post. Gluten intolerance has been linked to depression, so I have a special interest in this. Up to now, I couldn't have contemplated a world without wheat, but its amazing how motivating information can be. I also find that when I avoid processed foods, gluten kind of just eliminates itself from my diet anyway.

So! I am going to jump into a new diet experiment with both feet starting NOW. I had to get past the holidays, for there was no hope for avoiding sugar during the season and of joy and fudge.

For several years, I have been slowly cutting out sugar and refined and processed foods from my life. However, I still give in and indulge in mounds of crap when I have a bad day, go out with friends, or just feel like treating myself. My favorite "crap foods" are El Monterey Taquitos (I hate a whole bag after a break-up once... that is like 2000 calories, folks. Don't judge.), The Pizza Factory breadsticks, and Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. I just wanted to list those here so that you can refer back to it when you are reading my other posts in the future where I am praising kale and crap and you can remember that I am a normal person...

My plan is to eliminate sugar and gluten. Its not quite that simple, but if I fail at all the other components, I WILL stick with those ones at least.

I will detail my whole diet plan in a new post because this one got ridiculously long about 500 words ago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hello Bauman College!

I have officially enrolled in the Nutrition Consultant program at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts! Eighteen months from now, I will be a Certified Nutrition Consultant, ready to change the world one sickie at a time...

My aim in completing this program is two-fold, really.

I have a very vested personal interest in solving my own health puzzle. I have been plagued by depression/anxiety since I was about 16 years old, maybe longer. Like anyone I have talked to who has been "diagnosed" with "depression," my case is just like everyone else's in some ways and like NO ONE else's in others.

Its more like a many headed emotional monster that takes the form of depression, despair, uncontrollable anger, feelings of worthlessness, clumsiness, iritibility, extreme anxiety, and scary apathy. All of these rear their ugly heads randomly, for no apparent reason, for minutes or days at a time, and with an intensity and "out-of-body" quality that sometimes scares me to death.

I don't know how many times I have thought to myself, "This is just not me!" There has to be more to life than talking myself out of senseless emotional states.

I have tried pretty much everything without complete success - therapy, anti-depressant medications, chinese/homeopathic medicine, supplements, more therapy, more anti-depressant medications, and the list goes on. I have had some good years where things balanced out a bit with medications, but they inevitably lose their effectiveness, and I have noticed a scary side effect of increasingly bad memory and concentration issues.

There HAS to be another way. I refuse to believe that my body and/or brain are simply broken and that I need to take drugs to balance my brain chemicals for the rest of my life. I firmly believe that our bodies are the solution to almost all of our physical ills, fully capable of healing themselves when given the proper tools. All of my study and pondering has led me to conclude that diet and nutrition are a perhaps the primary tools, closely followed by exercise.

I want to become an expert at wielding these tools on my own behalf to heal my brain and acheive that optimal, vibrant, joyful health that I beleive we are capable of as human beings.

My second aim is to help other people desperate to reclaim their health to tap into their body's potential to heal.

My research of a dozen nutrition programs led me to Bauman College. I wanted a school that delved into the very essence of holistic health without becoming too extreme. I don't believe in any diet that eliminates any one macronutrient (such as carbohydrates - Paleo/Primal) or a diet that requires a great deal of supplementation and strict adherence to get a balance of nutrients (such as raw/vegan). Having said this, my view is only based on my own study and gut feelings thus far. My experience with all aspects of life is that truth is simple. If it's getting complex, you are probably looking beyond the mark. Still, I want to go into this program as open-minded as possible so as to not get in my own way while I learn.

Bauman's philosophy as stated on their website is this:

"Eating for Health principles are based on the knowledge that our cellular health is determined by the food we eat. Damaged foods damage our cells. Fresh, healthy food sends the right messages to our DNA, encouraging healthy gene expression, as well as efficient growth and repair, a process we call healing. The tragedy of losing one's health can be traced, in large part, to a history of poor-quality food, insufficient nutrients, and exposure to dietary and environmental toxins.

The healthiest diet will come from foods that are fresh, local, seasonal, and organic. When possible, they are diverse and suited to one's individual tastes, temperaments, needs, access to ingredients, and metabolic tendencies. One of the great strengths of the Eating For Health™ system is that it can be vegan or omnivorous, raw or cooked, and it can and naturally will evolve over time and with changing circumstances."

One of the things I like about this approach is that it is not a one-size-fits-all mentality. I think that part of finding our own optimal health comes from listening to our own body. I have found that I am VERY sensitive to sugar, maybe more than most people. My blood sugar levels rise very easily. I am learning to create balance with adding more protein and healthy fats and cutting out refined sugars and flours.

Some people don't react well to meat. Though I resisted it for a long time based on The China Study, I have learned that I simply feel better when my diet includes clean meats and animal products. Not sure why yet!

My hope and desire as I begin my schooling and share what I am learning here, is that it will help others on their own path of personal health.

I encourage your questions and comments to help me deepen my study! I will be sharing both what I am learning in school and the results of my own health transformation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Raw Brownies

As promised, here is my raw brownie recipe. I don't have a decent picture of them, so I will add that to the post later...

These are seriously addicting. And they are HEALTHY. The first time I had them, I had phantom guilt pains because they tasted so good that they had to be bad for me right? Nope.

Raw Brownies

1 cup walnuts
1 cup dates (pitted)
1/4 cup raw cocoa powder (raw is always better, but regular cocoa powder is just fine)

(Already you are probably thinking that they sound disgustingly healthy, right? False. My normal friends love them, too.)

Combine nuts and dates in food processor and process until very well blended. You should be able to mold a bit of the mixture into a ball without it crumbling. Sometimes you may need to add more dates, but the more you mix it, the stickier it gets too.

Add the cocoa powder and process until evenly blended. Press the mixture into a deep plate, and shape into the thickness that you want your brownies. Put the plate into the freezer until the mixture is stiff enough to cut into pieces (about 20 min). Cut into squares and freeze until solid. Remove the pieces and place into a zip-lock bag or tupperware container. I store mine in the freezer because I like them colder, but you can store them in the fridge too.

You can experiment adding some other ingredients to spice these up a little bit. Cinnamon, nutmeg, candied ginger, etc. The skys the limit! But they are perfectly delectable with just those three basic ingredients. You can also substitute the walnuts for pecans if you get cankers from walnuts.

Let me know if you like them!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bacon Killer

I had a dream about a week ago that I must write down. I figured my blog would be a good place since I haven't posted in it in FOREVER (my mom still faithfully checks it though, bless her), and the only other option is my journal which would require many pages.

Before I launch into the actual dream, I have to preface it with a real-life short story because without this, the dream makes even less sense, if that is possible.

Last Sunday, a couple of guys from my ward invited my roommates and I over for lunch, followed by, "You can come help make it if you want!" Not really about what we wanted after that, but we liked the guys, so we were willing to help out. The chef will remain unnamed because, though I am sure he will not ever read this post, my luck has ALWAYS been that when I talk about someone, they hear about it. I would hate to be even grapevine responsible for his next girlfriend or fiance losing faith in his cooking abilities, so we will kindly call him Bob.

The menu included fancy eggs over rice, bacon, and orange juice with cinnamon rolls for dessert (The orange juice was not under the eggs, but in a glass). I chopped peppers and cried over the onions that Bob chopped and then hovered over Bob while he sauted them both. At some point, I noticed that the microwave was running, so I glanced inside. To my horror, the slowly nuking content was BACON. I think I said something subtle, like "Uh, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?"

Bob said, "Speeding things up."

I think I just stared at him, open mouthed. Then I snatched his man card out of his hand and launched into a speech about how NO ONE microwaves bacon, how nasty microwaves make everything taste, and how NO ONE microwaves bacon. Then I sprang over to the microwave and punched the off button with the air of one saving a child from eating drain-o.

I said, "I will cook it, it won't take long!"

About then, I looked down at Bob's man card in my hand and when I realized it was pretty much shredded, I tried something super lame, like, "But we can totally microwave it if you want..."

That is really all you need to know from that incident to understand the dream. Let me just say that to Bob's credit, he still fed me that delicious meal. Good thing I have some time before I get married to a man to practice treating man cards with more respect.

SO! The dream.

The setting was a family reunion with my Papa's side. It began with some kind of competition between all the girl cousins my age while the rest of the family acted as audience, key members being the judges. For one of the tasks, we were on stage and our goal was to pretend to be pregnant and be exceptionally funny. I did my best. I thought my performance was really good, but everyone cheered a great deal for one of my cousins which I thougth wasn't very fair considering she has actually been pregnant.

The next task was to ride a horse around an indoor arena. One at a time, my cousins took their turn in the arena while the rest of us waited on stage. Finally, it was my turn. I approached the gate to the arena and spoke with the horse woman standing there. She informed me that I had to wait because the horses had to "warm up." So, I peered into the arena. Apparently, the warm up involved both horses pulling a big rake through waist high sand. The horses were also as high as my waist, so you can imagine this was quite the task for them.

I didn't want to offend the women, who was obviously a professional, so I said, "Wow, that's... impressive." She looked at me seriously and said proudly, "My horses are very strong."

The wait dragged on and on, so I turned away from the arena and there stood Jon Jon, a friend of mine from Anasazi who had recently gotten married. He looked like he was on death's door... sickly, skinny, pale. He was even balding.

I said, "Hi Jon... uh, how's it going?"

He sighed and said, "Oh man, Kathryn. Marriage is way harder than I thought it would be. There just isn't enough food. Ever."

I can't remember what I said, probably something compassionate. It seemed to me that this encounter had taken about 20 minutes, though, so I was anxious to see if it was my turn in the horse arena yet. I turned back to the gate and the whole scene inside had changed.

There were no horses in sight, the arena floor had been covered in fake green grass and there were lots of booths set up with flowers all around them. All the family was inside, milling about. I got the feeling that I wasn't going to get my turn on the horse and I was getting pretty frustrated.

I went inside and found my cousin sitting on the grass doing a craft. She wouldn't look at me as I approached. I could tell she was super upset.

"Hey, cousin. I feel like something happened, like you are upset about something. I dont' really know what it is, though...."

Finally, she glared up at me and said pointedly, "Oh. You know."

I just stood there gaping at her. I opened my mouth to say something else to her and one of my aunts pulled me aside and said, "You really don't know why she is upset?"

I shrugged with wide-eyed frustration.

She looked at me with pity and said, patting my arm, "It was the bacon."

Something in me sank deep into the pit of my stomache. It was the feeling of being caught enslaved by my past. I made my way back outside the arena. I was surprised to find Jon Jon still there. Always a pal for listening to my venting, Jon stood there looking sickly while I started to complain about how upset my cousin was and how unjust it all was when suddenly I stopped and stared at him. "Wait... I WASN'T THE ONE WHO MICROWAVED THE BACON." Jon looked bewildered and I turned on my heel to go back into the arena and redeem myself.

And then I woke up.

Bottom line. Don't microwave bacon. You will have nightmares about it.


This blog is going to change a bit from here on out...

I am embarking on a crusade to heal my mind and body. I have become a bit obsessed of late with gathering information on healthly eating and natural living. Everyone else shares their obsessions on the blogosphere, so I will too.

Let me start with my conversation with Charlie. His name is not Charlie, but I don't remember what it is. Isn't it interesting the number of people who have impacted our lives and have no idea? Names are not really that important, I feel. I remember Charliet the person. I had one really intriguing conversation with him and haven't seen him since.

During my second work period at the Anasazi Foundation about two years ago, I met Charlie through one of the other trail walkers, Brittany. Elicia and I were staying with one of her relatives and we had thrown some kind of shindig. Once everyone had wandered off home, Brittney, Charlie, Elicia and I remained and we started talking about healthy eating.

I had slowly been gaining momentum toward my own health food transformation for a couple of years due to a number of books and studies I had chanced upon. The first book that really got me thinking about what diet could do for my health was The Shwartzbein Principle. Another reading was The China Study. I won't go into my thoughts on either of those in this post, but suffice it to say these readings had primed me for this conversation with Charlie.

Until that moment, I had never met anyone my age who was a serious raw foodist. Charlie declared he had been raw for four months. I engaged him with question after question about his experience with it and he enthusiastically answered each one. In fact, it was his enthusiasm that impressed me the most. It was not just excitement, but a fervent zeal. He had discovered truly optimal health and he was eager to share his story.

Charlie told me about the many benefits he had experienced from going raw, ones I have become familiar with in my studies since: abundant energy, weight loss, eye sight improvement, healthy glowing skin, etc. However, his description of mental, emotional and even spiritual vitality resonated with me. He said the biggest surprise benefit of eating raw, whole roods was the clarity and balance of thought, emotion and spiritual sensitivity he had experienced. He described a "fog" lifting.

Charlie said, "It was as though I had never lived before. I can't even describe it. I had no idea this kind of health was possible!"

I looked at his clear eyes and calm demeanor and I decided I wanted it too.

What he said next filled me with a tiny sense of panic.

"Most people have no idea how sick they are. They will live their entire lives without knowing what real health feels like."

I do not want that to be me!

It has been about two years since that conversation and though I have been making strides towards a whole foods diet, I have never committed completely. I have not taken the dive into the deep end. I have surrounded myself with whole, unprocessed foods but I am still keeping a wandering hand buried in the cookie jar (literally). This will not do. If I want to enter Charlie's world, I have to take the leap. Everyone who has done it says it is worth it. I want to know for myself and I will share my journey with you here.

Next post: my raw brownie recipe. They are the ONLY thing that has ever convinced me that going off of refined sugar is possible...