Spring is for Self-Improvement

Spring has arrived! Here in Montana, we get snow through June sometimes. It snowed this week in my hometown! Regardless, once the temperature reaches 50 degrees, everyone immediately dons shorts and t-shirts and soak in the stranger we call the Sun. With Spring comes the need to cleanse ourselves and our homes, an influx of fresh fruits and veggies, and the shedding of baggy winter clothes. The time has come for some new goals. I was reading through my old blogs as I was re-vamping the site and came across my keys to weight loss. I have gained half the weight back in the last 2 years, and am struggling with the motivation to change. Discovering my food allergies actually added weight because I stopped eating a balanced diet and instead began treating myself to every allergy-friendly snack I could find. It has been a mental struggle, to say the least. So the time has come to make new goals! I can’t believe I forgot how much the goals I made before helped me through. I made three big goals last time, and met and exceeded each. I know that I can do this again – anything can be achieved with dedication.

1. Lose 10 pounds by September 1st. This will place me back at the weight I was after losing 30 pounds. 

2. Complete 150 miles worth of cardio by September 1st. This can be completed by running, elliptical, stairmaster, biking, etc. I set a 600 mile goal for 9 months previously, which I exceeded.

3. Lose 1-2 pant sizes, so I can comfortably fit back into those jeans I bought 2 years ago!

4. DO NOT CONSUME the foods that I am allergic to through September 1st. This starts TODAY, not tomorrow, not Monday. Of course, I’d like to continue that further, however setting a time limit will help with motivation. My hope is that after 3 months allergy-free, I won’t crave them like I do now. This has been the biggest struggle for me in 2013…

Inquiring minds want to know…what is your favorite part of Spring? Do you struggle with motivation to live a healthy lifestyle? What goals are you working towards?

Chocolate Avocado Pudding – Breakfast of Champions!

Alas, I can’t seem to get a steady flow of posts going. Lately it seems I’ve been posting once every 6 months – yikes! Here I am, to make another attempt. Short story news: off thyroid meds, apparently didn’t need them at all, and I feel much better since (dumb doctor, glad I got a second opinion). Next, I stopped eating gluten a couple months ago, since I still wasn’t feeling top-notch, and I do feel much better now. My battle with resisting pizza has ended – the last time I ate a piece (maybe a month after going gluten-free), I thought I was going to die. Maybe not that extreme….but my stomach hurt, badly. Not going to make that mistake again any time soon. I’m feeling much healthier these days, and my body seems to be functioning more normally that I can remember in years. Feelin’ pretty good 🙂

I recently discovered the bliss of a new recipe – and it involves CHOCOLATE! And, of course, it’s allergy friendly. It’s full of healthy fats and doesn’t have any refined sugars, and you add protein via the almond butter.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

1 ripe avocado (very ripe is good)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C cocoa powder
1/4 C agave, maple, or honey (I used grade B maple – rich and tasty)
6 Tbs milk of your choice (I used unsweetened coconut milk, which is my favorite for pretty much everything)
almond butter to taste and consistency (I only used a spoonful)
a dash of cinnamon (optional)

Throw it all in a blender, and enjoy! I mixed in sliced banana and strawberries right before eating, which was delightful for taste and texture. For those of you that are nervous about the avocado – don’t be. You can’t taste it, and it stands as the rich, creamy base for the delightful chocolate.

I have been enjoying my days off with this beautiful weather – canoeing yesterday, hiking today. Are you doing anything fun outdoors?

Scotty and Spok, at war in my Pantry

“I just can’t do it, Captain!”

That’s usually what I think when the option of ordering pizza arrives – my resistance is futile. I need pizza…or at least I think I do. This is my problem. I’ve found that I do pretty well on my new allergy diet…until it comes to cheese. And lately, I’ve been craving dairy of any kind like a mad-woman. I don’t know if I’m craving the fat, or if my body’s telling me I’m not getting enough calcium now, or if it’s some other reason besides the fact that it just tastes good. So, I broke down and had some pizza, and later regretted it. My problem is that convenience foods are no longer available, and that my stomach has been hard-wired to expect food NOW in this society of always having delicious and bad-for-you foods in constant supply. I’m having to teach my body to crave different foods and to be patient in times of hunger (not so easy).

I had made a resolution (which is something I normally don’t do, as people never stick to them) this year to stop eating the things I’m allergic to. That didn’t last long…maybe a week or two. So, now, I’m going to take a different approach. I’m going to start my Six Week Bikini Countdown again (the program that helped me lose 30 pounds while Elliott was deployed) — and this time, I will not eat anything that contains my allergen(s), OR anything that is produced on the same equipment. I have been a good girl when it comes to my peanut and egg allergies, but not my whey allergy. So I go through the cycle of feeling awesome and feeling sick because I broke down and ate some stinking pizza.

I am excited to use my new allergy free cookbooks, to get back into the realm of enjoying cooking and to try new things (which I love). I am also going to try to prepare myself for my weak times (right after I get off work or finish at the gym) by making grab-and-go foods that are delicious AND nutritious. This includes having everything on hand to make a homemade pizza, minus the cheese.

So, today I took my measurements (waist, hips, and thighs) and tomorrow I will weigh myself at the gym, to kick off my 6 weeks of healthy living. Having the time frame will help me stick to my goals (start small, work your way up). My expectations for my end result will be:

Lose some weight (obviously) – at least 5 lbs
Detox my body of my allergens (less headaches, less stomach pain and nausea, allover feeling of wellness)
Have more energy
Have more control over my dairy cravings

Hopefully, through not having any foods that threaten my immune system (allergens), I will stop craving these foods as often and maybe even altogether. I have asked my husband and his parents (whom we live with currently) to keep me accountable for the foods I eat.

Only I have the power to control what I consume, and I am therefore the only one responsible for it. With great power comes great responsibility. My ultimate goal… “Live long, and prosper!”
 

Welcome to the World of Food Allergies

Goodness Gracious, it’s been 5 months since I last posted! A lot has changed since then…since it would take forever to explain it all (moving back home from Virginia and all), here is what has changed as pertains to my health.

I have wanted to get tested for food allergies for a long time. They run in my dad’s side of the family (and I’m sure there are some on my mom’s side also). More importantly, I feel sick quite often after eating, especially lately. It got so bad that I’d have to lay on the floor after eating because my nausea was so strong. With a stroke of luck, I found out the name of a local doctor (that is a medical doctor but takes a more naturopathic approach than most) that tests for food allergies.

So, I had my blood drawn to test for 92 different food allergies. Additionally, my blood was also tested for thyroid antibodies, as my doctor was concerned with some of my symptoms. I was shocked to discover that not only do I have a mild level of hypothyroidism, but that I have very high levels of antibodies against eggs, peanuts, and whey. My allergies to eggs and peanuts are so bad that my doctor warned that if I continue to consume them, I will eventually get cancer (thanks to my overreactive immune system).

Eggs and whey (essentially all dairy – I can technically have hard, aged cheeses…however, it’s easier for me to cut it all out than to control myself when I let myself have some) are fairly easy to cut out, since I’ve known that they make me ill for a long time now. However, peanuts were a huge surprise, and more difficult for me to cut out. I’ve always been a peanut butter freak – I’ve eaten it by the spoonful since I was a kid. I’ve found only one brand of almond (or any other nut) butter that isn’t processed on the same machinery as peanuts, and it’s pretty good. I’m sure with more time I won’t miss peanuts as much. The most challenging part so far is finding foods that aren’t processed on the same machinery as my allergens. These allergies pretty much completely rule out any kind of “fast” food (boxes of noodles, flavored and regular, chips, cookies, you name it). While this is an extremely healthy shift in my diet, it is hard to get used to. This is especially true because I am hungry CONSTANTLY now. My thyroid medication is speeding up my body’s processes, so I get hungry (and then crabby) all the time. With no quick foods available, I either break down and eat something I shouldn’t, or I mope around, depressed, until I force myself to eat something I don’t want (my poor husband!) This is something I need to fix – after all the holiday festivities are over, it will be time for me to experiment with new recipes and put some of my own quick foods together to freeze, so they’re handy for me when I need them.

I suppose this will change the direction of my blog, slightly, as the new recipes and information that I share will most likely deal with allergen-free cooking. Hopefully this will help some of you other poor souls ridden with allergies, sensitivities, or even vegans (since my foods will now be dairy and egg free – not meat-free, but I don’t eat too much of that, anyways).

Happy New Year! May you be blessed with healthy choices and happy hearts.

Running like a Maniac

I am ashamed to see how long it has been since I last posted! We were busy for a while after Elliott came home but now we’re back to our day-to-day routine.

I am pleased to say that the Rugged Maniac race in Englishtown, NJ was a blast. I was exhausted at the end, and ready make the 6 hour drive to VA again, but was happy and proud. My goals for the race did not include finishing by a certain time, but instead consisted of running the whole race and making it up over all of the barricades by myself (ranging from 3-7 feet high). I ran the entire time (aside from having to wait for my turn for an obstacle and stopping once for water), even though towards the very end, I slowed down quite a bit. I also made it up over every barricade by myself except one. This barricade was towering (it seemed larger than 7 feet), and my legs were too short to reach the only step on it. Luckily a man was nice enough to boost me up over the top. Other than that, it was all me, baby!

Now that it’s over, I’m ready to take the next step. Having something specific to train for is immensely helpful in finding motivation. So Elliott and I signed up as a couple’s team in another mud/obstacle race, this one an 8k (roughly 5 miles) and only a mile or so away from our apartment (on base). I’m very excited to do another challenging race, and to have my husband running with me this time. This race takes place on the 13th of August, so I have about 2.5 weeks left to train. As of yesterday, my greatest running distance is now 4 miles without stopping. This makes me pretty confident, though I know this race is going to be a challenge. I am very excited to work up to running 5 miles at a time, as this was a goal I set for myself to reach at some point this summer anyways. Because the race is so soon, I’ll have to work on running 4.5 miles next week, and 5 the week after that. My training for the last couple months has had to be fast paced to work up to the race distances, but I have thrived despite that. Just a few months ago I could only run 1 mile on the treadmill, and now I’m running 4 miles outside (which is tougher but overall much more enjoyable than a boring treadmill).

Shortly (less than a week) after our next race, we will begin our road trip across the country to move home to Montana. We’ll be taking our sweet time, stopping in FL to see the Kennedy Space Center, then over to AZ to see some family for a few days, then up through CA to visit some friends before heading home to Kalispell. I am very excited for our road trip (not to mention going home for the first time in 2 years to see all of our beloved, and to go out into the mountains again, swim in the clean lakes, enjoy the smell of pine, and all of the other simple pleasures that I miss dearly. I have come to realize the utter necessity of having these people and outdoor wonders in my life). However, I am concerned with the toll that the road trip will take on me. I am used to daily exercise paired with healthy meals, and 2+ weeks of sitting in the car and access to mostly fast food and junk foods is worrying. While some of those foods may be unavoidable due to the unavailability to healthier choices, I want to do my best. Not only to avoid weight gain, but for my well-being. Having that drastic of a change in exercise and diet is sure to make me feel ill and restless, to say the least. So for the next couple weeks I will be searching the internet for healthy alternatives and exercise ideas (if you have any ideas, please share them!)

I have a feeling that the next couple weeks are going to seem very long – all I want to do is go home, and I don’t have much to do until then. Perhaps researching these things and blogging about it will help 🙂

SUCCESS!

Well, I’ve done it! I weighed myself yesterday, and I have officially lost 30.5 pounds since my husband deployed. This calls for a celebration, bring out the cake! [I wish!]

It feels fantastic to have succeeded in reaching a goal that I didn’t truly expect to reach. When I first started, I had three main goals:
1. Reach a mile count of 500 by the time my husband returns
2. Lose 30 pounds
3. Lose 4 pant sizes

After a few months, the group decided to extend the mileage amount because of the longer deployment, so we’re striving for 600 instead of 500. However, as of yesterday I only have 21 miles left and 4 weeks to do it, so it’s no problem. I realized that I reached goal #3 a couple weeks ago when I tried on some clothes, and was surprised to find I had actually lost enough to wear shorts 4 sizes smaller than before. And as of yesterday, I weighed myself (as with every Monday) and have reached goal #2! I am so thrilled and honestly, I’m proud of myself. I didn’t expect to reach these goals, but set them for myself anyways. And here I am today, about to complete the third goal within a week or so. This has been a wonderful adventure for me, physically and mentally, and I am excited to branch out and try new and exciting things. Because I CAN! You can do anything you set your mind to, and I am determined to keep rocking 🙂