Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm Back!

The move is done and, by God's grace, we're set to be in this new location for the next year. Stability matters! Packing and moving just throws my life into chaos and I really like structure. So, I'm super excited to be settled.

We chose to live in a ground floor apartment so that I can exercise at home. I thank my husband for making this sacrifice. He prefers second and third floor living but he supports my weight loss journey so we find ourselves on the ground floor. I thanked him by getting up at 4:15 this morning and starting my Turbo Fire journey! Wow, did it feel good to sweat and have fun with Chalene Johnson! I didn't have time to complete the workout this morning so as soon as I got home from work, I finished out Day 1. I am completing the 5-day Inferno Plan but following my own nutrition plan.

This is a year of transformation - not only health-wise but financial, too. We're buckling down ready to attack debt. September has always been a month of renewal - return to school and the start of fall. I remember that surging feeling of hope on the first day of school.

A clean slate where anything and everything was possible.

That's how I feel now.


- Kareen, RD

Sunday, August 21, 2011

30 Days in the Raw - Day 2

Here is a simple and delicious recipe I made this afternoon inspired by this video:

While prepping did NOT take me five minutes it was worth the effort!

I didn't have cucumbers on hand but the star of this delightful meal is the mango so the wraps were still great tasting. I cannot tell you how yummy and filling this meal was!

We also scored some oranges from a fruit stand today. Oranges are my husband's treat - he loves them!

Off to prep for tomorrow. Have a good night!

- Kareen, RD

30 Days in the Raw - Back on!

As I mentioned in my last post, my adventure in the raw was postponed. I restarted yesterday and this time I'm ready to embrace this journey! Part of the breakdown last week was due to lack of preparation but after a visit to my local Henry's, I was armed and ready for the latter part of last week. While my eating habits left much to be desired last week, I still managed to lose 1 lb (yay!) so I am thankful that my overeating didn't completely derail me. I will have to make a grocery trip today for the next couple of days.

Last week I did something I have never done before - I ate an entire raw tomato by itself! That's huge for a self-proclaimed tomato-hater. It was an heirloom variety and delicious!

Bolstered by my new-found love, I made this wonderful mango salsa. Mangoes are perfect in savory dishes.
Made with one Cherokee heirloom tomato, red onions, chipotle flakes, cilantro, lime and of course, mango!
My supply of tomatoes ran out so the next day I made the same dish without them. Just as delicious!

Sunday errands, cleaning and more packing await so I'm off. What are your plans for today?

- Kareen, RD

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What's that Ring Around Your Neck?

Why it's acanthosis nigricans. I remember learning about this skin disorder characterized by dark, thick skin in the folds and creases of the body when I was in school. While acanthosis nigricans can develop for any number of reasons, I became fascinated by this disorder because most often it is an indicator of insulin resistance which is on the pathway to diabetes.

In my outpatient practice, I saw this darkening of the skin around the neck frequently on teenagers - usually obese teenagers with a strong family history of diabetes. To help them see that their current lifestyle choices were negatively affecting their health, I would educate them on acanthosis nigricans and point out the ring around their neck. Most parents believed that the ring was just a line of dirt and would often send the child back to the shower or even try to rub it off themselves. Whenever I had a concern, I encouraged the family to see their physician and I would also send a letter with my recommendations to the referring physician. 

Well, you can imagine my displeasure, then, when during my physical this past week my doctor pointed out that I had the ring around my neck and that under my armpits were darkening as well. Truthfully, I wasn't completely surprised. I noticed the developing darkness last year and asked a health professional (not my doc) her opinion and she said I was in the all clear. I put it out of my head and forgot to ask my physician at the time. Fast forward a year and my current doc is talking to me about pre-diabetes. 

The darkening of the skin can also be attributed to hormone intake such as the pill and I have been on the pill for  many, many years; however, with a 30 lb weight gain in the past 3 years and a current BMI of 31, I have to be realistic that I may be insulin resistant. And it's not just 'the ring'. There have been other signs as well but being in the health field, I am paranoid about self-diagnosing so I ignored my gut instinct.

Nevertheless, I was shaken by the news and I reverted back to my usual place of comfort - food. For three days, I went a little wild with eating. 30 Days in the Raw went out the window as did vegan eating. Considering the news, it's a strange reaction I understand but it's done. I don't have a family history of diabetes so I don't want to be the first and I certainly don't want this to be my legacy to my future children. 

Today I re-committed to 30 Days in the Raw! I'm on the brink but I have a choice and that choice is to beat the disease. And I will.

Staying positive.

- Kareen, RD

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quick Post - 30 Days in the Raw

Today is Day 1! I seem to do well with a structured program so I'm taking on raw for the next 30 days. Very excited although emotionally tired from work last week and starting up again this week.

I'll be back with more soon!

- Kareen, RD

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast - Days 9 and 10! w00t! w00t!

It’s getting more difficult to write about the fast so I’m glad that it’s at its end if only for that reason.

Days 9 and 10 were uneventful on the feasting side. Work-wise, I let myself get stressed out. Super stressed out. Causing my IBS to flare up. I spent most of Day 10 in great discomfort with bloating but I held steady.

I ended the feast with a Bolthouse Green Smoothie

Not my plan but the night before was a late one so I didn’t have a chance to blend up my meals. I almost caved and ended the feast on day 10 but I held on. I’m glad to say that today is day 11 meaning I’m DONE!

What I Learned

Bathroom Talk

I’ll breeze over the bathroom talk and just say next time I’ll use a chomper (herbal laxative). I definitely had moments of bloating which chompers may have helped to alleviate.

Weight Loss

In all I lost 9lbs in 10 days. Will I keep the weight off? Likely so. Even though I wasn’t eating, I had consistent intake of nutrients including fiber throughout the 10 days. I wasn’t starving! I was never hungry (unless I wasn’t prepared) and drank smoothies to my heart’s content. I had enough energy for a hike this past Sunday! Lastly, my intake will not change significantly other than that it will now include solid food.

Entering into this adventure, weight loss was not my goal but it’s certainly a nice perk. My goal was to reset my palate and prepare for my high raw vegan journey. I will continue with a significant intake of lettuce, fruit and other vegetables. I’m actually craving a giant salad RIGHT NOW!


Yes, I had energy. I didn’t miss work and I walked regularly. If I were to change anything, I would walk daily for stress management. I kept the activity as low intensity as possible to minimize muscle catabolism.

Wants vs Needs

Well, I WANT a Blendtec. I NEED a Blendtec. I’m soooo ready. My regular house blender did a great job for what it is but I know the smoothies would have been taken to the next level to where I wouldn’t have wanted to stop after 10 days because they would be soooo super delicious. Sigh. I have to be patient.

I also learned that I want to eat a lot more food then I need. I know I’m not alone. The stats don’t lie – with 66% of Americans being overweight and obese, I can’t be alone. That battle may never end but I will continue to work on developing and recognizing true hunger cues.

How I Treat Me

I've learned that I have the inner strength to take control of my health and that I can be kind to myself. I need to more assertive in my interactions with others. A lot of my stress, frustration and sometimes anger comes from letting situations build up without being addressed. If I would just speak my mind and clear the air, I would save myself unncessary physican and emotional pain. IBS flare-ups are no joke. I'd like to avoid them as much as possible.

For those situations where I stress me out, I need to take deep breaths and a quick walk outside. I can do that.

So, I’m ready to head into transition and have an exciting trip planned for that purpose. I’ll share that with you later.

Hope you’re having a great day!

- Kareen, RD

Monday, August 8, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast - Day 8

Yesterday was great! While I still battled cravings, I had the energy for a hike. Derek and I headed into our backyard and went up and down and up and down some steep hills for almost three hours.

Here we go! Trusty green smoothie and water in my bag
It's all downhill. . .
. . . and then uphill!
Pretty, bee infested canyon flowers
I had a small tussle with a bee but he and I made it out without any harm but the scene got ugly for a bit ;)

As is my habit, my morning smoothie was left-over from the night before. Derek ended up sharing it with me during the hike. Great energy booster! In case you've forgotten, it's this mix:

Spinach, kale, banana, frozen tropical fruit mix
Because of all of my hard work on Friday, once we returned from the hike, I vegged out the rest of the day. It was also the first day I stuck to three main smoothie meals. I didn't feel deprived or hungry at all.

For lunch, I went with a bowl of goodness. Sometimes you just get tired of drinking!

I ate this with a spoon. Super filling!
And then there was dinner:

I couldn't even begin to finish all of this. I saved some for breakfast this morning.
I'm at the end of day 9 right now and am so excited to be heading into day 10. It's a little silly but I'm teary-eyed right now. It's been a long time since I've stuck to a personal goal - especially a health related one. I was beginning to fear that I didn't have the drive to continue towards my dreams. I know it's just 10 days but they've lit a fire!

How was your Monday?

- Kareen, RD

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast - Days 6 and 7

I've combined the two days because they were relatively uneventful.

Day 6

After an 11 day stretch at work, I had Friday off!! *bliss* I started the day off with a left over smoothie from the night before:

This was the banana, red leaf lettuce and frozen mixed berries mix
Then I walked to the neighbourhood grocery store - 30 minutes round trip. I spent the rest of the day making up for working last Sunday. Changing bed linens, laundry, ironing, dishes! All that before noon!

I enjoyed a nap (or two) mid-afternoon and then made my very first kale smoothie:

Curly leaf kale, frozen mixed berries, frozen banana, lime, ginger
I was nervous about this one - it smelled First sip = success! The kale smell was more intense than its taste. Yay! Kale was the one lettuce type I was most excited to try so I am happy it turned out. The batch I made resulted in three of the above glasses.

As I wrote in this post, I began practicing recognizing hunger versus eating out of boredom. I was relatively fine during the day but was challenged when Derek began cooking his dinner. We live in a super small condo so there's nowhere to escape :) The aroma was just too much to resist and I wanted some - bad. However, I knew I wasn't actually hungry. I didn't cave and I am continuing to grow in this area. 

Even when this feast is done, I will still face these challenges as I enter into high raw living. I will still enjoy some cooked food but not likely pasta or soy meat analogs which is what he prepared. I am releasing those familiar tastes from my palate. This is what I need for me right now.

Day 7

Yesterday was church and then the rest of the day was quiet. I napped some more and just relaxed. Derek made some more delicious food and again I worked through the craving. I am very much looking forward to eating a fresh salad with a fragrant dressing! 

Here was breakfast. I brought the rest to church as the service normally lasts a long time.

My simplest smoothie yet: spinach and banana

Green leaf lettuce, banana, lime, ginger. Yes, I love lime and ginger!
Lastly dinner. I loved this combo and saved some for breakfast this morning. Yummy!

Spinach, kale, banana, frozen fruit mix (mango, strawberries, pineapple) 
That was it! I'm happy to be 1/2 way done with Day 8. I have started planning my transition out of the fast to ensure maximum success for maintaining my clean eating raw vegan diet. I'll share the deets soon.

What's on tap for your Sunday?

- Kareen, RD

Friday, August 5, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast - Day 5

I call Day 5 "An Experiment in Hot Messes" because I was successful in creating two huge batches of some unpalatable green smoothies.

Here are the disasters
They look innocent enough, right? WRONG! 
I make my smoothies the night before and so I already knew they weren't the greatest tasting but I thought I would be able to handle it. Not so much. When I took the first drink the next morning I gagged - on both flavors. I haven't gagged once during this challenge.


For the green-coloured smoothie, I am not sure where I went wrong. I blended a green apple and while it worked earlier in the week, it didn't work this time. And I think I added too much lime and ginger. The flavours and texture were a no-go. The red one. . . well, it was all wrong: frozen banana, blueberries, grapefruit, romaine, spinach, lime, ginger. I even added a little bit of pineapple juice to try and save it and that made it worse. Just not a good day.

Lesson learned! While I would like to experiment with different fruits and vegetables, until I get a high power blender, I am keeping it simple. What hurt most is the wasted ingredients but I really couldn't get them down.

Fortunately I had a short day at work so I was able to get by on two Naked Green Machine juices. When I got home, I kept it simple with this tasty treat:

Three fresh bananas, one head red leaf lettuce and some frozen mixed berries
The Naked Juice did help keep me from falling down with hunger but they didn't fill me completely so I did get a headache. After 2.5 glasses of the above smoothie when I got home, I immediately started to feel better.  I ended the day with a walk which included more hills and felt great!

My main challenge is learning how to overcome the habit I've developed of eating whatever I what whenever I want. I have not been hungry while feasting on the green smoothies but I have had serious cravings. I reach for a smoothie during those times but for the remaining days of this fast, I want to work through the cravings and work on self-restraint. It's okay not to have three giant macadamia nut and white chocolate cookies in a day. It's even okay not to have one!

The end goal is to eat a high raw diet. My body functions the best when I'm in that zone and the weight comes off consistently. It's just where I need to be!

What's on your plate this weekend?

- Kareen, RD

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast - Day 4

I forgot to mention my walk at the end of Day 3. It was super hilly and I didn't think I'd have the energy but I held up and had a good time. My goal is to continue to walk while feasting. I'm just avoiding high intensity activity.

Yesterday was a good day in that I spent most of it holed up in my office working on projects AND away from food. It was just me, the 'puter and my green smoothies.

While they're all the same colour, they contain different goodness. Here's the rundown:
1. Spinach, romaine, ginger, peaches, grapes - This was okay but I will not grapes again until I have a high powered blender. That texture was too much for me. 
2. Spinach, ginger, lime and pineapple - SUPER DELICIOUS! This one's a keeper :)
3. Spinach, mint, banana, mango, figs - the mint gave an overall earthy taste (my husband's words) to the smoothie. I wouldn't make this one again but it's all good as it's a learning process.

The cleansing reactions subsided as the day went on and my energy levels continue to increase. I haven't felt any fogginess and with the week at work I've had, I've needed to maintain clarity of mind. 

One of my co-workers took the plunge and started her 10 day green smoothie feast yesterday! She doesn't usually eat breakfast or dinner so having to increase her intake during the day even with just smoothies is going to be a challenge. I'm excited for her and look forward to helping her through to the end of the journey! 

I'm just ending Day 5 and it wasn't great. I'll share that story tomorrow. 

Half-way there!

- Kareen, RD

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast – Days 2 and 3

What I’ve learned so far is that my memory isn’t as great as I think it is. I make about three different smoothie flavour creations nightly. I thought I would remember what I did but I completely forget all the mixtures! For day 4 (today), I wrote them all out as I was making them so I’ll be better at documenting moving forward.

On a side note, please see a physician or nutrition expert before undertaking any type of fast.

Day 2

So much easier than Day 1! Mondays are always busy for me but this past Monday was especially hectic with unexpected meetings. I definitely had hunger pangs but I wasn’t focused on eating AND I had enough smoothies to get me through the day.

Here’s the stash:
Lots of container variety!

Mid-morning I took the plunge and told my co-workers. As expected, I received the weird stares – especially when I displayed the stash above. The “ewww” faces were followed by “so, how does it taste?” As I’ve said before, you really can’t taste the greens but they sure do make for a funky looking drink.

My cravings kicked into high gear at dinner as I watched Derek preparing his meal. I distracted myself by using the time to make my smoothies for the next day. And while we’re on the topic of prep time, I’ve been averaging about an hour to make four different smoothie mixes. Wash, peel, blend and repeat.

While I don’t remember the exact creations, I did blend the fresh figs with strawberries and bananas. The fig flavour was very mild and I actually wished for a stronger taste profile but it was still good. On the greens side, day 2 was all spinach.

Day 3

Yesterday morning I woke up and WOMP! Cleansing reactions! I was coughing up phlegm (TMI but it’s true), had a headache, my eyes were burning and my nose was running. A full blown cleansing cold! All I wanted to do was stay in bed but it wasn’t option. My symptoms got progressively worse after I arrived to work. As uncomfortable as I was, it was an encouraging sign that whatever I’m doing is working.

Smoothie-wise, yesterday was also a spinach day (don’t worry, I varied my greens a little bit more for day 4). I blended pears for the first time and that added a pleasant smoothness to the drink. Because I don’t own a high power blender, the drink was also gritty but again, still delicious. I’ve never been one to tolerate a lot of different textures but this fast is helping me get over my mouth-feel thing 

I’m still loving fresh lime juice – I have been using Persian limes – and also ginger. Since it’s my fast, I add those two ingredients to almost all my smoothies. Hmmm!

Yesterday I also took a leap out of my comfort zone and shared samples of my creations with two co-workers. One loved it and kept asking for more but I had to cut her off because I was quickly running out of my food for the day. The other co-worker wasn’t really feeling it at the time but called me later that night to ask if I would make her smoothies if she paid me for the ingredients. Ha! I had to decline because it’s taking me a lot of time to make my own and part of the fast is to relax as much as possible. If I were not taking part in the fast myself, I would definitely guide her through and prepare her smoothies.

I was short on smoothies yesterday so I purchased a Green Machine Juice from Naked. It was the best option at the time. My sense of smell seems heightened so solid food is enticing. And yesterday I had to cashier during lunch as an employee called out. Really? I’ve never had to cash during lunch and on Indian cuisine day?!? I made it through but it was challenge. It’s all good though! My body is responding well to this rest and that makes me happy.

I’m about five hours into Day 4 and the cleansing reactions are still here but not as intense for the moment. I'm in it to the end!

Have a great day!

- Kareen, RD

Monday, August 1, 2011

Green Smoothie Feast – Day 1

*This post was written yesterday but due to a late night last night, I am posting it today. Hope you Enjoy!*

Day 1 came rather quickly. I prepped Saturday night so I felt ready just a little nervous for some reason. 
This morning started the day with 16 oz of this lovely smoothie before heading into work.

This antioxidant beauty contains: baby organic romaine, frozen organic blueberries, frozen bananas and fresh lime juice. Yes, I recycle. That's a Pace Salsa bottle :)
I worked today and Sundays are generally quiet so I felt confident I would be able to make it through the day without any overt temptations. I was at work for about five minutes when a well-meaning employee placed these on my desk:

Homemade donuts from one of the chefs. They smelled divine!  Don't worry; I declined.
I work in Food Service management and so my main challenge will be and has been avoiding those well-meaning intentions. Not only do I have to taste test food but my meals are free! That’s been a recipe for disaster. So, while I tend to keep my fitness and nutrition adventures to myself, I am going to share this journey with my co-workers so that they don’t tempt me. They’re a pretty respectful group of people so I’m not worried. I am prepared, however, for raised eyebrows!

Here’s the smoothie of the day. I made 40 ounces of this one for work. 

We have romaine, green apples, frozen bananas, fresh lime juice and frozen pineapples.
I wish my little cell phone cam could convey the vibrant colour! This was my first time blending a fresh apple. The blender handled it well and the smoothie was delicious!

Green smoothies aren't new to me but I have played it relatively safe with my creations. As far as greens go, I’ve only used spinach. One of my goals with this 10 day feast is to explore other greens. Romaine is considered a mild tasting green. Although I could clearly taste the flavor of the romaine, I really enjoyed both smoothies. I also want to try my hand at savory smoothies using tomato as the key ingredient. I figure the taste will be similar to V8 or Motts Clamato.

Tonight I am going to prepare a dish by Megan Elizabeth from Easy to Be Raw on Youtube. I purchased the figs and strawberries last week and I don’t want the figs to go to waste AND I’m not blending figs. I’m not ready for all of that!  

I felt the STRONG urge to indulge in. . . EVERYTHING at work today. I was texting my husband like crazy for support. I stayed the course but realized that I didn't bring enough of my smoothie stash to work. By the time I got home tonight, I was famished. I will work to adjust my quantities to ensure that I get enough nutrition throughout the entire day.

Are you trying anything new this week?

- Kareen, RD

UPDATE: Online searches revealed a couple of different recipes for green fig smoothies. I will be trying it out tonight!

Green Smoothie Feast – Let the Feasting Begin!

So the Facebook July challenge is complete. Was it my best.month.ever? Close to it! I fizzled near the end due to knee injuries and having to find somewhere to live fast.

Our landlord is selling her condo at the end of August so we were hustling to view apartments. The pickings were slim as August is a slow moving month due to school starting. I am happy to report that we have secured a new place not too far away. It won’t have the beautiful views that we have enjoyed over the past six months but it’s a good pick and I feel blessed that we were able to find it!

The news on my knees is not as positive. Ironically, they began to hurt after taking a week break from Crossfit. It’s been three weeks and the pain remains constant and hurts to the touch. I don’t recall doing anything that would cause this much discomfort. Not sure what the problem is but I have a doctor’s appointment this week so I’ll ask her then.

While we're on the subject of Crossfit, I am cutting my journey short for now. It’s pricey and while I am willing to invest in health, I’m doubling down to focus on getting out of debt. The best thing about the move is that we are on the first floor so I can focus on my fitness DVD collection. Truthfully, I can’t WAIT to get back to Turbo Fire. I’m thinking about a hybrid with ChaLEAN Extreme.

Anyhoo, onto the Feast!

One of my struggles this month was being vegan. I ate high raw but the cooked meals I had included cheese. . .and lots of it! So I’ve decided to reset my taste buds with a green smoothie fast. For 10 days I will feast on all the green smoothies I can drink and not only give my taste buds a change of pace but also my gut. As a member of the lactose intolerant community, the increase in my cheese intake has wreaked havoc on my digestive system.

Why not a green juice fast? I chose blending over juicing because I don’t own a juicer! I also believe blending to be more substantive than juicing because the former retains the fiber of the fruits and vegetables. After reading through some online articles, I discovered that not only does blending retain fiber but also oxidizes less quickly than juicing. Smoothies can last in an airtight container in a fridge 24 to 32 hours. Fresh juice begins to oxidize almost immediately.  Blending meets my needs now. On a side note, I am using a standard kitchen blender for this adventure. One day I will own a Blendtec or a Vitamix!

Don't think that there aren't benefits to juicing though! There are! If you’re feeling sick or want to give your digestive system complete rest, juicing is recommended. Resting your gut also allows your body to get into deeper cleansing and healing. At some point, I will do a juice fast.

I will keep a daily record of how I’m feeling and the smoothies I am creating.

Stay tuned!

- Kareen, RD