Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Challenge, Food, Home DIY, Life + Living, Menu Planning, New Food

CSA Day 3 – veggie overload!

I’m starting to wonder if maaaybe the CSA wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. I guess when I pictured farm fresh vegetables every week, I had hoped for vegetables that I usually actually eat and enjoy. Bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, even parsnips, cucumber, and celery would be cool! But what have I been getting? Turnips. Kohlrabi. Napa cabbage. I’m all for adventure, but when I get stuck on how to use an item, it gets abused and discarded. I really hate wasting the food ūüė¶

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Tonight’s CSA box includes:
– Brats from Von Hansen
– Broccoli
– String Beans
– Peas
– (unidentified root vegetables)
– Lettuce
– Potatoes
– (Unidentified leafy green)
– Purple Kohlrabi

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We still have from the LAST CSA:
– Strawberries
– Rhubarb
– Napa cabbage
– Lettuce
– Broccoli
– Kohlrabi
– Beets

Plus, from our standard groceries we have bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, and celery.

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This is decidedly a first world problem. I’m not complaining by any means–I’m thankful for the abundance–but I’m also worried about how to best make use of it.

Last night me and Jeff blanched 3/4 of the broccoli, and 3/4 of the string beans, and froze them. We’re giving the beets, some broccoli, and some peas to my parents. I’m hoping my sister wants one of the kohkrabi…

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Kohlrabi

The CSA is going to last at least another month, if not longer, so I’m going to use this as an opportunity to expand my veggie horizons and eat a lot more veggies… Even if I *do* have to Google them first ūüėõ

I think dinner tonight will be the brats and a cole slaw of kohlrabi, Napa cabbage, and carrots. I can bring it to my brother’s house to share tomorrow afternoon for lunch ^_^

Chef salad for dinner!

I’ll make another pie!

Broccoli cheddar soup!

Uh… Other stuff!!

Okay, WordPress readers… What would you do? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

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Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Fitness, Food, Menu Planning, New Food

3..2..1..Paleo!

We’re getting back into Paleo eating, now that we’re in the new place.  We’ve done pretty well in the last week, but tonight, we’re gearing up for the Squeaky Clean Paleo plan featured in Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. Note: this is NOT a sponsored post.

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Pumpkin cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, spaghetti squash bolognese, ribs with green beans, pineapple teriyaki chicken, home made cranberry sauce

Call me crazy, but I feel like eating healthy should taste good.  The recipes that I’ve tried from this book hit that mark. Jeff is excited about cooking again, too, but not about the dishes…because cooking every meal requires lots of dishes.

Tonight I’ve dirtied up a few mixing bowls, some knives, pans, spoons, cutting boards, and towels cooking up some meals for tonight and tomorrow.  I’ve got stuffed cabbage rolls with a cranberry tomato sauce in the oven, along with a “swirly crustless quiche” made with carrots, zucchini, and about a dozen eggs.  I’ll be making mustard glazed chicken thighs shortly, and tomorrow we’ll have a braised beef dinner.

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Our fridge is fully stocked with yummy foods and I’m ready for this adventure.

What is your favorite thing to make in the fall? Share your favorite crafts and recipes, below.

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Emotional Eating, Fitness, Life + Living, Strength Training, Warrior Dash

MegsFitness on Nerd Fitness – Battle Logs!

I’ve blogged in the past about how much happier and more content I feel when I am following the¬†core strengths of health and wellness – including eating well, sleeping well, exercising, and making time for personal goals. ¬†So, it stands to reason that now, more than ever, I need to get back into the patterns of healthy eating, getting enough (and higher quality) rest, exercising, and making time for personal goals.¬†

This blog has become more of a personal journal for me, which will definitely incorporate health and wellness, but it’s always been about more than that. ¬†For me, it’s been about recognizing the fact that my journey — whether it’s to weight loss, muscle gain, social changes, or family life — is going to be completely different from someone else’s journey, even if we share many of the same characteristics. ¬†To that end, I still have every intention of maintaining this blog and getting back into writing about things that are fun, interesting, or relative to my personal narrative. ¬†

My day-to-day fitness narrative is going to be captured at Nerd Fitness. ¬†It’s a community of fitness-minded individuals and I really feel like that’s the sort of encouragement I could use at the moment. ¬†What that means for the MegsFitness blog is that I’ll be cross-posting my weekly summaries here, so that at least part of this journal can resonate with the “-Fitness” part of the name ūüėÄ

I’m ready to get back to good. ¬†I’m ready to lose weight, gain muscle, find my confidence, and conquer the world. ¬†If you’re interested in joining The Rebellion, my “battle log” is found here:¬†http://rebellion.nerdfitness.com/index.php?/topic/52946-amis-last-first-post/

[Begin Crosspost]:

Name: Aminarra, aka “MegsFitness”

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Occupation: Corporate Fleet Management Resolution

Previous Fitness Experience: 2 years on SparkPeople, 3 years with Weight Loss Warriors, 3 attempts at Weight Watchers, 1 attempt at Herbalife; 4 years high school strength training, 1 obstacle 5k, 10+ regular 5k Races, greatest weight loss 42lbs.

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Current Level of Fitness: Sedentary. ¬†It’s been 2 years since I’ve worked out consistently due to a severe back injury after the Warrior Dash.

“End Game” Goal:¬†Working out 4+x/week, Settling at a healthy weight, ideally ~180, but more importantly having functional strength and physical health.

Short-term Goal: Begin working out 1-3x/week, at a beginner level to become re-acclimated to the fitness world. Begin reintegrating Paleo Lifestyle into eating plan  

Plan of Action:  Use Nerd Fitness to launch new fitness goals; integrate fitness guild with gamer guild for inspiration.  Generate weekly goals in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and personal.  Update status on goals at least weekly.

Outside of NF: 
https://megsfitness.wordpress.com/
http://www.vexxgaming.com/

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning

My Paleo Plate

I realize that the blog entry that I published last night¬†¬†kind of went off the rails. ¬†There was so much more that I wanted to talk about! ¬†It was late at night, though, and I was probably bouncing back and forth between various web pages an the blog. ¬†Today’s blog post is kind of an extension of that, but it’s much more organized and thought out–I even made an outline for it… ¬†Part of what prompted me to come back and to write about my own experience with going gluten free was a rather harmless post about a trip to costco.

Gluten-be-damned

Who knew there was such a backlash against gluten free?! ¬†I was flabbergasted but this isn’t exactly a friend of mine, and his friends and followers are not my friends and followers, so I decided not to waste any more of my time justifying to them why Gluten Free is a valid lifestyle choice–and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be full blown celiac disease to cause someone to start avoiding gluten and other potentially harmful/hard to digest foods.

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain for about two years now. ¬†As I type this, there’s what feels like a knot under my right shoulder blade and my whole back feels stiff. ¬†It’s my new normal. ¬†This isn’t even enough to complain about. ¬†When most people toss and turn at night, they do so without really realizing it. ¬†For me, I have to sit all the way up and turn over so that I don’t torque my back trying to just jostle into place. ¬†There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning in back pain and I have no choice but to stay up because there’s no going back to sleep at that point. ¬†If it’s really too early to get up, then, my poor husband, gets woken up because I’m in such pain. ¬†He wakes up when it hurts too bad to breathe right, or when my back pain brings me to tears–and he’ll get up, without complaint, and offer me ice packs or back massages to try to ease the pain. ¬†That will work just enough to take the edge off. ¬†I try to let him go back to sleep and then I generally go out to the couch to sleep so that I don’t have to lay on my back.

Two years of that.

I have¬†tried to find out what’s wrong with my back–I went to a physician, who referred me to physical therapy–I did that for a while before I was referred to Chiropractic. ¬†I’ve been going to the chiropractor at least once/week for the past year and a half. ¬†It has helped tremendously in reducing the severity of the pain and I haven’t had many episodes of spasms since starting chiropractic. ¬†The problem is that I’m still having to see a chiropractor weekly if I want to avoid a build up of pain in my system. ¬†Once, while my chiropractor was out of town for a conference, I had to go about a week and a half, maybe two weeks without an adjustment–and my back locked up so tight and spasmed so much that I gave in and called my physician for muscle relaxers. ¬†I took them once. ¬†I slept the entire night through without tossing and turning–but when I woke up the next morning, my back hurt so bad from being in the same position the whole night that it took almost all of the next day to start feeling normal again.

And that–is the key. ¬†My back feels better when I use my standing station at work (provided I have the right shoes on that day). ¬†My back feels better when I move. ¬†I talked to my physician about this during last year’s physical. ¬†It was a feminine exam and so I told her about my fears–how am I supposed to start a family with my back this way? ¬†How can I be reliable and take care of an infant if my back hurts so bad that I can’t even breathe? ¬†And do you know what she told me? ¬†She said “Try paleo.” ¬†I disregarded her at the time because I was stuck on oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and dinner usually involved pasta with mixed veggies and some meat. ¬†I should’ve listened to her back then.

Recently, I came across Nerd Fitness. As I started reading, I started hearing about the benefits of the paleo diet–they’re what you expect from any diet–more energy, better nutrition.. The part that was different, for me, is that it wasn’t specifically designed for weightloss, it was designed for better overall health and well being. ¬†That’s what I need. ¬†I need health and well being. ¬†So, I hopped into the chat rooms in NF. ¬†I talked to a few members there about their experiences with Paleo and I heard about reduced pain, reduced acne, increased energy and stamina. ¬†I decided to give it a try.

Searching online for paleo plans will turn up any number of results. ¬†It quickly became apparent that no one really agrees on what Paleo should really consist of. ¬†Some sites say no eggs, others say no dairy, all of them say no legumes but they don’t all agree on what a legume is. ¬†It’s enough to make your head spin. ¬†Finally, I stumbled upon two very valuable resources. ¬†The first was linked yesterday¬†as the “Beginners guide to the paleo¬†diet” by Steve Kamb. ¬†The other is Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. ¬†There’s a forward by Robb Wolf (not Stark), and the book dives into the science behind the nutrition. ¬†I’m reading about leaky gut right now, which is where there are foods that are harder for your body to break down and they may ‘leak’ through the gut–they’re seen as potential invaders and it triggers an immune response. ¬†In fact–the majority of the book is explaining the science behind the nutrition in terms that I can understand. ¬†I find myself nodding along and saying ‘that makes sense.’

 

Since I’m not finished reading the book, and because change is very difficult, we’re not 100% paleo in our house. ¬†Both Jeff and I still eat dairy in the form of yogurt and cheese, but we’ve swapped our milk out for coconut milk. ¬†The muffins in the picture above were made with coconut flour and they were so delicious. ¬†I may make them again this weekend. ¬†The pumpkin pancakes in the upper left of the collage have no flour whatsoever and taste like pumpkin french toast. ¬†They’re amazing. ¬†Although Paleo has a list of foods to avoid that includes peanuts, it’s hard to find trail mix that doesn’t have peanuts in it, so we still have the occasional peanut. ¬†We eat a lot of almonds, and I like to eat sunflower seeds. ¬†We do a lot of batch cooking on the weekends in order to prep for the week ahead. ¬†Being on Paleo means that you have to make your own food because the biggest overarching message is to get away from all of the highly processed, genetically modified, unnatural foods. ¬†It’s pretty similar to the Whole Foods diet and the like. ¬†Unfortunately, this means that we’re shopping for freggies every weekend, and stocking up on meat when we can. ¬†Our grocery bill (for 2 people) has been averaging to be around $450-500/month. ¬†I think that there’s a better way to do it, and there are ways to save money, ¬†so I have confidence that this figure will come down once we get some consistency.

The first month that we were successfully paleo for the most part, our grocery bill was over $600 for the month. ¬†I freaked out because “we don’t have that kind of money! This plan isn’t sustainable!’ Then Jeff pulled up the rest of YNAB and showed me that the month prior, we had spent $200+ on restaurants and $200+ on lunch and $100+ on “spending money” that included food. ¬†The month we were successfully paleo? ¬†$90 on lunch, $100 on restaurants. ¬†So, we have the money, we’ve just been using it to buy the convenience food items that are so readily available in our culture. ¬† Going Paleo just means a reallocation of the funds to foods that are worthy of being bought.

My next step in this Paleo adventure is to tackle the elimination diet. ¬†I need to figure out what in my diet is causing the chronic inflammation. ¬†Is it gluten? Legumes? FODMAPS? sugar? Something else? ¬†It’s going to be difficult and there will be a ton of prep work involved, but I think that I can ‘suffer’ for about a month if it means improving my quality of life in the immediate future, and potentially prolonging my life in the long run.

What are your thoughts on the gluten-free craze?  Have you ever heard of paleo before?  Tell me about your experiences.

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Fitness, Food, Menu Planning

Playing with Paleo

It is so good to be BACK! I’ve been thinking a lot today how I’d like to organize this blog and I started trying to think of alliterations that could lend themselves well to my blog content. ¬†Work Out Wednesday is easy, and Menu Monday. ¬†But how do I fit in all of the other things to talk about? ¬†Well–there’s every other blogger in the blogosphere..¬†and then there’s me!

I guess the name of my blog gives me a little bit of a scapegoat away from formatting and structure ūüėČ

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the Paleo plan. ¬†NerdFitness has a fantastic¬†starter’s guide to the paleo diet¬†that I highly suggest you check out.

nerdfitness.com
nerdfitness.com

One of the hardest things about starting a paleo eating plan is ‘wtf do I eat?’ ¬†I mean, think about it! ¬†The average American diet (at least, in the midwest) consists of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner. ¬†I was honestly stumped! What, besides eggs, could I eat for breakfast?

Well–anything. ¬†Who says you can’t have a steak at 9am? ūüėõ Granted, I usually don’t, but that’s the gist of it. ¬†Food is just food. ¬†There aren’t rules around what time of day you can eat the food. ¬†So, I dove in. ¬†I ate a lot of eggs. ¬†I got tired of eggs. ¬†I ate a lot of salads, I got tired of salads. ¬†I ate a lot of bacon, and then I realized I should not eat near as much bacon…

It prompted me to buy a cookbook. ¬†The one that came highest recommended from the Nerds of NerdFitness was Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. ¬†I’ve made a number of recipes from the book including the broiled salmon, pumpkin pancakes, swirly quiche, chorizo meatballs, and pumpkin cranberry muffins. ¬†We’ve used the seasoning mixtures to spice up the meats we generally use, and eating has been a lot more whole-foods focused.

Now! All that being said, I’m not 100% of the way there ūüė¶ ¬†There are still times where I get caught up in the “I don’t feel like it” attitude. ¬†I had nachos tonight, and I’m still eating at the gas station too frequently. ¬†When I did 1 week of about 80% paleo, I dropped 6 pounds. ¬†SIX WHOLE POUNDS!! I also felt more energetic and pretty excited about staying committed.

Then life happened, and stress eating, and convenience.

It’s a lot more effort to plan ahead, cook, and deal with all of the food associated with paleo eating. The dishes in the sink below? ¬†That’s just from cooking breakfast and prepping lunch:

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Now imagine that for 2 people 3x/day, 7 days/week.  Our grocery bill has skyrocketed and our dishwasher never gets a break.  This week (Saturday to next Saturday) my goals are to have 5/7 days 100% paleo (excluding cheese.  I love cheese.  me and cheese have something special going on.)

I’m hoping to drop some weight and feel happier/healthier by the end. ¬†I certainly appreciate you rooting me on! If you know me IRL, kindly refrain from offering me non-paleo food.. if there’s a treat at work, for example, just tell me ‘thanks! you do good work! Have a fantastic day! *high five*”

Cheers to the coming week!

-Megs

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe, Self-Reflection

Anti Inflammatory Diet??

A lot of why I haven’t been posting here is because there hasn’t been much fitness to speak of. ¬†On June 26th, 2012, I finally sought medical advice for my back. ¬†Here on July 9, 2013, I’m still in pain daily.

Originally, we thought it was a Rhomboid Strain and my Primary Care Physician referred me to a physical therapist. ¬†The physical therapist determined that it was not,¬†in fact, a rhomboid strain, but to do with the alignment of my hips. ¬†I followed the physical therapy for a couple of months, and my hips didn’t click anymore, but my back still hurt. ¬†I sought another option.

When I went to the Chiropractor, we found a series of issues with my back that are actually¬†there–the alignment was off, there’s the start of arthritis due to the misalignment, etc. We’ve been working hard since January to bring everything in line and I really

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Dr. Pennebaker, doing an adjustment with the Gonstead Method [click to learn more]
believe it’s helping. ¬†My back still hurts every morning, though. ¬†We were getting a lot better, making a lot of good progress, and then we experienced a really bad setback.

When Jeff and I got back from the Canadian reception, I had a few really rough mornings. ¬†I thought it was just because the bed wasn’t supportive enough, or maybe the long ride in the car… But no, this felt like I was being squeezed–like my ribs were being pushed out of place. ¬†It hurt to breathe, hurt to move, hurt to laugh–should I care to, hurt to yawn, hurt to sneeze, cough, or hiccup. ¬†When I talked to my dad about it, he said “Oh, that’s just a pulled muscle–you’ll feel better in about a week.”

It’s been¬†over a week and I’m still waking up in pain. ¬†My Chiropractor gave me a sort of “ah-ha” moment when he observed that it was swelling and inflammation causing the pain. The word “inflammation,” hung in my head repeating itself like a fading memory. ¬†Until all of a sudden, the light at the end of a tunnel turned out to be a train. ¬†What if my DIET is causing me all of this stress and drama with my back!?

It makes sense! ¬†I eat a Western diet high in processed carbs and lots of sugars. Last Friday, by happenstance, I didn’t eat much in the way of sugar or refined carbs. ¬†On Saturday, as if by a miracle, I had no back pain. ¬†Yesterday, I had cereal for dinner, chex mix for a snack, a wrap for lunch, and a breakfast sandwich for breakfast. ¬†My back is killing me today.

So now, the problem that I’m faced with is “how do I convert my eating habits to the anti-inflammatory diet?”

I don’t know ūüė¶

The sites I’ve looked at say

Foods to Steer Clear of‚ÄĒHere‚Äôs what you‚Äôll want to wean yourself off of in order to reduce the inflammation in your body: wheat, dairy, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, sugar, citrus fruits (except for lemons and limes), pork, commercial non-organic eggs, shellfish, peanuts and peanut butter, coffee, alcohol, juice, caffeinated teas, soda, anything containing hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and fried foods. –¬†http://primaldocs.com/opinion/how-to-transition-to-an-anti-inflammatory-diet/

I keep seeing conflicting information, though. ¬†One site says pineapple is to be avoided as it’s a tropical fruit. ¬†Another says pineapple will decrease inflammation. ¬†One says nightshades and tomatoes are bad. ¬†Another doesn’t mention them at all.

I’m so terribly lost. ¬†I’ve cast out the line to the Weight Loss Warriors to ask if they have any experience with this sort of conversion. ¬†I read that high quality yogurts and cheeses can be eaten in moderation, so maybe I can use that to my advantage when subbing foods?

Here’s our dinner menu for the week… If anyone has any ideas on how to convert it to an anti-inflammation version, I’d appreciate the help:

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