Soup’s On!

Making your own soup or stew or chili is easy!  I mean, once you’ve tried it out a couple of times and gotten the hang of it.  I’m not sure if there are some “tricks” I’ve been missing out there, and I’m sure there are fancier soups to be made than what modest recipes I’ve managed to cook up, but everyone needs some place to start, and here’s mine.

Basic ingredients for your soup/stew (I’d also say for your chili, only minus the broth – that’s why the juice from canned tomatoes is important):  begin by sautéing onions and garlic with olive oil (NOTE:  add garlic AFTER onions have softened, garlic added too soon will burn).  Add hard veggies (like celery, carrots, or peppers), then soft veggies (mushrooms).  Add 14-28 oz. of canned whole tomatoes (crush them apart with your hands – a trick my mom uses in her chili) and 4 cups of vegetable stock (plus 1 cup water, depending on the consistency you’re going for – remember for chili, NO stock).  Then you’ve got your spices (rosemary, thyme, and sage are staples, or some combo of pepper and spice for chili – plus make sure to add plenty of salt and pepper, especially if your stock is low-sodium).

Easy add-ins for a soup/stew with more protein (after the initial sautéing, cook on a simmer for 20-30 minutes, depending on the add-in):  quinoa, orzo, lentils, lentil-quinoa pasta (or your choice of pasta), rice, beans (garbanzo, kidney, white, black, etc.)

Add-ins for a heartier stew/chili (these root veggies need to be cooked a little beforehand, stove-top or in the oven, as well as for the simmering 20-30 min with the other ingredients):  potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash

Other spices (depending on style of soup/stew/chili):  spinach, chili powder, paprika, red chili pepper, lemon, garlic, oregano, basil, bay, pick your poison!

My favorite toppings:  avocado, plain greek yogurt, shredded cheese, flax-seed crackers

Obviously, you wouldn’t put every single ingredient listed here and expect something amazing to come out (or, I don’t know, maybe you would); I only wanted to share what has worked for me in various combinations in the past.

 

With that being said, here is the specific recipe for a soup I made last night.  I will call it… Spinach Lentil Lentil-Pasta Stew!

1st-Tier Ingredients (sauté 5 min):

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (who are we kidding, I just pour it in without measuring)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (or enough small peppers to equal roughly the amount of onion)

2nd-Tier Ingredients (sauté another 5 min):

  • 1 cup (?) mushrooms, chopped (again, roughly equal to onion)

3rd-Tier Ingredients (simmer 20-30 minutes):

  • 14 oz canned tomatoes (could use 28 oz in future)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock + 1 cup water
  • tsp rosemary
  • tsp thyme
  • tsp sage
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 cup lentils

4th-Tier Ingredients (after 20 minutes simmering):

  • lentil-quinoa pasta (time to cook 8-10 minutes of final 10 minutes)
  • garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas – time to cook 5 minutes of final 10)
  • 4 big handfuls fresh spinach (time to cook 5-10 minutes of final 10, enough to wilt)
  • more salt and pepper!

My chosen toppings for this spinach lentil lentil-pasta stew:

  • cheddar cheese
  • whole wheat crackers (though a crusty, hot piece of homemade wheat/wholegrain bread would have been better!)

Could I have added the pasta and beans earlier?  Possibly, though I didn’t want to overcook them and have them all mushy.  That being said, I always underestimate the time for letting the soup just sit and come together – after tasting it with all its ingredients at the 30 minute mark, it was not that great.  5-10 minutes later, after letting it simply sit on low heat (possibly with more salt and pepper added as well)?  PERFECTO!

If you have any helpful comments on my soup-making skills, please share!  Please let me know too if you try out the recipe (or basic instructions for any combination listed above), and how it turns out.  In the meantime, good luck with your soup/stew/chili adventures!

 

 

 

Tracking a 30- (scratch that, 25)- Day Cleanse: Final Week + Final Thoughts

Day 21 (Feb 28)

  • Cheated ALL OVER THE PLACE today.  Well, it truly started last night, date night with Dave.  We went to a Greek restaurant, where they brought us pita bread and hummus without us ordering it – when in Rome, you MUST try the pita and hummus!  Aside from this small transgression, however, I did no more to break the cleanse and we had a wonderful rest of the night walking the streets of Golden (ok ok I had a SIP of his beer at a brewery, where I also bought a glass with the logo “Why Not?” – which I took home and used to drink my Perrier with delight!) ❤
  • Today, however, I started the late Sunday morning with a cup of pumpkin spice tea, thinking the “herbal” label made it safe – but only a few sips and I could feel a slight headachey sensation, alas!  I ended up not finishing the cup.  Later we went to Whole Foods for lunch, and on a quick lap around the store I indulged in all the free samples (a few bits of cheese, chocolate Teddy grahams) – FREE samples people!  No noticeable effects of such small dosages of probably all parts of the cleanse…
  • Still, I ended the day strong.  Had leftover falafel, rice, and quinoa salad, and relaxed the night away with my grapefruit Perrier and later a blended banana treat 😛
  • Also keeping up with new exercise regimen:  swam nearly 45 minutes this morning, 20 laps in the longer-laned pool (it’s hard!).  Hopefully the novelty of biking and swimming doesn’t wear off into monotony before my knee is fully healed!

 

Day 22 (Feb 29)

  • So today begins the “easing” of the cleanse.  Introducing caffeine and some sweeteners (mainly honey and maple syrup) back into my life and body – woot!
  • Mixed a half-caf coffee with soy milk this morning, but wasn’t enjoying it (that slight headachey feeling arrived very soon, plus I just didn’t really want it – may enjoy it later in the afternoon if my energy dips then).  I also made granola yesterday with xylitol and honey – it’s too sweet!  Ugh, I’ll leave out the xylitol next time. 
  • Knee much achier this morning, may do easier biking and abs today – was going to try a cycle class at the gym, but maybe not yet… soon!
  • Oh red wine and dark chocolate… how I’ve missed thee.

 

Day 23 (Mar 1)

  • Feeling good, FINALLY made me some tofu.  It turned out all right (mainly because I mixed it up with some delicious sweet potatoes, spinach, beans, and coconut-buttered-up-white-rice.  Still, win for a vegan, gluten-free, nutrient-packed dinner!
  • Skipped out on the coffee this morning, opted for black tea with steamed coconut milk instead.  No headache and I enjoyed it more, but still finished probably only a third of it.  Will most likely start saving those yummy hot drinks for late mornings when I can actually enjoy them 🙂
  • Did my 5-mile on the stationary bike today, followed by ab work.  Maybe next week some yoga?  Here’s crossing my fingers.

 

Day 24 (Mar 2)

  • Today was strange.  Had a lack of appetite that lasted pretty much all day – ate the leftover tofu concoction from yesterday for dinner, but only because I felt like I had to eat something with substance.  Had been planning on wine and chocolate for dessert after doing some yoga, but didn’t feel like it, so had a cashew-ice-cream with frozen banana instead. 
  • Was it the cashew ice cream that made me feel so weird at the end of the night?  It’s the first processed sugary thing I’ve had in a long time.  However, I’ve been chronically lower-energy from the start of cutting out gluten and animal products, this might just be what it’s all lead up to.  For example, I meditated this morning and could feel the weary, depressed sensation in my body, of missing some sort of vital nourishment.  Adding some animal products back in tomorrow, enough is enough.
  • On an upside, did yoga today!  Already feel weaker in my wrists and in the power of my breathing, but made it through Sun A and Sun B, and played around with a Sun C for classes.  Still won’t be able to flow like I had been doing for a while yet, but felt good to at least do something 😀

 

Day 25 (Mar 3)

  • Adding back some animal products today – mainly my plain Greek yogurt and maybe some eggs later tonight!  Last night was feeling really down (from doing yoga again?  Sugar again?  Not enough protein or other nutrients from the cleanse?).  Either way, also drinking some Emergen-C water with lemon today, and still not feeling that great. 
  • Ate EGGS and TOAST for an early dinner before teaching my Astanga class.  Took a while to catch up to me, but by the end of the class I felt SO MUCH BETTER.  Cleanse OVER.

 

Ok, so I made it 25 days instead of 30 (still an accomplishment, I’d say!).  I have no regrets ending five days early, because in the end I had to do what was best for my body and overall well-being.  I knew that I wasn’t getting the necessary nutrients into my body, the second week in when I went skiing and felt weak (might have been able to avoid a knee injury!), and subsequent to that when it was hard to get through the days even with a lightened exercise routine.  Meditation this last week especially helped me tune into the deep fatigue I’d been feeling, and realize that something had to change.

Despite ending early, if you’ve been following my journey through the cleanse thus far, you’ll know that I’ve also experienced a great number of benefits.  I don’t need caffeine in the morning (heck, I don’t even want/like it nowadays!), and I think those lazy weekend mornings with a cup of GOOD coffee will taste all the richer for cutting back on the rest.  The same goes for alcohol – instead of feeling a need or deep desire to drink a glass of wine as soon as I start making dinner or settle in for the evening, I’ve found this past week a general non-interest in having to drink at all, opting instead for a blended frozen banana treat or a sparkling water (served in a fancy glass of course!).  I find myself looking forward to the weekend where a glass of wine is both a) more than enough to satisfy, and b) all the more enjoyable for being an occasional treat.

As for sugar, ah.  The least necessary, I think, of the food groups cut out during the cleanse.  I thought I understood how sugar sneaks into a lot of things, but didn’t really grasp before HOW MUCH it sneaks in to nearly EVERYTHING (go find a -yummy- cereal without added sugar – and when you do, please post it here so I can share in your joy).  I also missed my daily treats throughout the entire cleanse (as evidenced by my clinging to frozen bananas, peanut butter, and other foods naturally high in sugar content), so that I feel a lingering challenge to address that sweet-seeking habit, as opposed to the relative ease with which I adapted my relationship to alcohol or caffeine. 

I don’t feel like I benefited much from cutting back on animal products – for one, I had already been following a mostly vegetarian diet before the cleanse, and had been consuming very little dairy except for cheese, Greek yogurt, and eggs.  I can’t believe how much I (and by “I” I mean my physical more so than my mental self) missed the eggs and yogurt (cheese I don’t think I’d have missed as much, except in a more sentimental way because CHEESE IS DELICIOUS).  But seriously, yesterday I had yogurt for lunch and eggs for dinner and by the end of the day felt a million bajillion times better and more energetic than I’d felt the previous week.  Maybe the whole grain toast also added some pep back in to my step – because I’m not sure giving up gluten did too much for me either, except make me tired and sad because BREAD IS ALSO FREAKIN DELICIOUS.

I have another beef with the whole vegan, gluten-free diet as well (get it, beef?), other than the fact that maybe I was too unprepared/lazy/daunted to find and consume alternative sources of protein and nutrients.  A lot of these “alternatives” don’t seem like good ones.  As in, products like gluten-free bread and nondairy yogurt are not only less satisfying/enjoyable to eat (not to mention higher priced), but they are also filled with arguably UNhealthy ingredients like sugar and fructose, and other things I’d list except that they are difficult to spell and incomprehensible to me without Google searching (never a good sign when, generally, the shorter and more understandable the list of ingredients, the BETTER for your body).  Could I have put more time and energy (and most likely money) into finding gluten-free and vegan options with REAL ingredients and sufficient nutrients for my lifestyle?  I’m sure I could have.  At this moment, however, I remain unconvinced by the supposed benefits I might gain at such a cost.

I may try to cut out gluten again in the future, just to gauge those effects separately from the other experiences of this cleanse (my legs get itchy and I want to know why gosh-darn-it!).  Even then (say, for instance, I were to find that gluten DOES make my legs itch), I wouldn’t want to give up the wondrous pleasures of all the different breads, baked goods, pastas, etc. out there for such a small reaction (when I know there are truly gluten-sensitive people that cannot partake in such delicious delights, and would if they could).  I just want to know.

I do sit on a moral fence when it comes to the treatment of animals raised for consumption.  If labels could be trusted, if mass production of meat didn’t only compound the precarious state of our warming world, if I could afford to buy only local, home-grown produce, if if if…  I feel like I might fall forever down the rabbit hole if I delve too deep into these issues.  Still, I cannot ignore them (and feel strongly that none of us should!). 

I don’t have all the answers yet, but I feel better knowing that I’ve taken steps to know and own what works for me in terms of the food I choose to buy, prepare, and finally put into my body.  It starts with me, but it’s also bigger than me – as all great challenges should be.  Now, where’s the next one?

Tracking a 30-Day Cleanse: And All That Comes With It!

Day 16 (Feb 23)

  • Gosh darn it I am cranky.  And it’s not the diet, because I just woke up that way today.  Lucky for me, I cannot eat my feelings in chocolate or carbs or wine, so I’ll have to deal with it the old-fashioned way:  BY DEALING WITH IT.  Also I commit myself to cycling for 5+ miles after work today.  Plus abs.  Yup, that’ll be good.
  • Did the work out, still somewhat cranky.  Not sure if it’s only because I’ve been so hyper aware of everything lately, but I am super aware of the mood fluctuation and in so being have somewhat softened its impact on my further behavior?  Maybe I’m crazy.  Boyfriend would probably (definitely) think so.

 

Day 17 (Feb 24)

  • Today went well, minus one emotional breakdown after spending a far too long stretch of time focused on taxes (lesson: do your taxes in small doses).  Lucky for me, the BF and I had plans to go to the fitness club and work out together before dinner.  I tried swimming for the first time in a long time (mainly for the sake of my knee) – and LOVED it.  Did gentle laps for 40 minutes alternating between free style and backstroke, and came out of the water feeling MUCH better than I had at the end of my work day – calmer, stronger, happier.
  • Lesson:  try new things – even things you think you’ve tried before and didn’t like!  Perceptions can change all the time, and you might discover something to break you from a boring routine and challenge you with some new ones :).  Whatever you do, don’t sit at home and do nothing – remaining still with anxiety/depression is guaranteed to only make it worse!
  • After our work out the BF then took me out to Mad Greens – only my second time to such an awesome place!  Had a protein power salad filled with awesome goodies like warm quinoa, edamame, peanuts, kale, and spinach – vegetarian heaven!  Also treated myself to a frozen banana-almond milk-cocoa powder smoothie at the end of the night.  All in all, a very satisfactory ending to the day 🙂

 

Day 18 (Feb 25)

  • So far so good.  Eating a lot of oatmeal, nuts, fruit, and nut butter.  Could use more substantial meals, just feeling a little lazy in that department.  Oh well, I think I’ll take a nap!
  • Holy 90-minute nap Batman. 

 

Day 19 (Feb 26)

  • So that nap probably was a signal that I haven’t been giving my body the proper nourishment (a.k.a. I’ve been lazy in food prep) this past week (could you tell by yesterday’s pathetically short post?).  But NOT TODAY!
  • Made baked sweet potatoes, garlic quinoa, and salad loaded with spinach, romaine, peppers, beans, cabbage, avocado, etc., with homemade lime + olive oil dressing.  Delicious and, more importantly, filled with the protein, carbs, and healthy fats that I need to keep up my energy.
  • Missed out on any workout, made me quite upset actually.  Must learn to move past disappointments and get creative with my solutions… like accepting a limited work out at home when I can’t get to a bike or swimming pool to do the sort of work out I can with this knee…  *sigh*

 

Day 20 (Feb 27)

  • Full day today (only ten days left YAY!).  Got to the gym early to bike and do abs before teaching yoga and leading the group cleanse.  The productive morning definitely motivated me to keep moving forward in a positive direction, to let past disappointments (like my lack of energy toward the end of the week, and my inability to get in the exercise I wanted) dissolve into the past. 
  • Lesson:  I mustn’t let temporary dips in my mood control my overall attitude and sense of well being.  Emotions can be authentic and reflective of a deeper state of being, but they don’t need to create habitual ruts that run my life. 
  • I am excited to turn the 21-day corner tomorrow on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.  I plan on introducing those groups back one at a time, while remaining free of gluten and animal products for the remainder of my 30 day cleanse.  I would like to gauge any physical/emotional/other reactions when reintroducing each group 🙂

Tracking a 30-Day Cleanse: Over the Hump

Day 11 (Feb 18)

  • Ate my fruit-sweetened corn flakes today.  I prefer the heartier whole-grain flakes, but in my quest for sugar-free I will take what I can get.  As I head into the last two-thirds of my cleanse, I draw this line in the sand:  NO MORE LATTES.  I don’t want to drink that much soy milk, the decaf isn’t necessarily sans caffeine, and I should prove to myself I don’t need them anyway.  Go go water!!!
  • Other than that?  I don’t have the lack of energy that I did last week, but I’m also feeling lazy just because of this stupid knee…  PATIENCE.

 

Day 12 (Feb 19)

  • Today was a LONG day.  Stuck to the cleanse just fine (though by 4:00pm, I really could have used some caffeine to keep me going – a 4:00am to 11:30pm day, anyone??).  Snacking a lot on fruits and nuts throughout the day, starting to feel the desire for something a little meatier.  Like… coffee.  That could just be my tired talking.

 

Day 13 (Feb 20)

  • No sleeping in for me!  Again made it through the beginning of the day, no sweat – Week 2 for the club’s cleanse helping keep me on track.  I felt GREAT teaching my yoga classes, other than the fact that the heated studio really makes my knee swell.  So strange to have that problem…
  • In the afternoon I vegged out hard; for dinner I made up a hummus plate with peppers, gluten-free tortilla chips, celery, and strawberries, followed up by lime + salt popcorn (Skinny Girl brand has some good stuff like that!).  Perrier was also on sale, so I got to splurge on my favorite sparkling water while watching the season premier of The Bachelor online – who knew I could survive a solo gal’s night like that without wine?? 
  • Beginning to feel like yes, I CAN go without these things, but heck, life is meant to be enjoyed, right??  Looking forward to returning to a glass of red wine with that piece of dark chocolate at the end of the day sort of lifestyle.  Not to mention some cheese and greek yogurt added back in to the diet!  Glad to be cutting back on sugar and caffeine, but still looking forward to soon allowing myself the occasional treat 🙂

 

Day 14 (Feb 21)

  • Oh my god it’s been two weeks!  So far the most change I’ve felt was back in the first few days, with those headaches and fatigue.  The second week may have been impacted more by my knee injury than anything else; it’s difficult to discern how I’d be feeling if I were still at the level of activity I was at before.  Right now I think I’m… bored.  That first week I could move past lethargy by getting up and going for a run or doing yoga; now, I’m not so much physically fatigued, but I don’t have those options to get up and move as much.  What do people do who don’t exercise?? 
  • Lesson:  Boredom/inactivity can lead to mindless snacking (not necessarily a good thing even if those snacks are nuts/popcorn/fruit).  I also may have a habit of wanting to snack any time I watch Netflix, which is obviously a problem when I find nothing better to do with my time than watch Netflix!  When circumstances take away your go-to hobby (mine being exercise/yoga), now you’ve got to search out something new to fill your time.  So… who’s got some ideas for me?  Anyone??

 

Day 15 (Feb 22)

  • I’m over the hump!  Tried a new recipe (spaghetti squash with cauliflower “alfredo sauce” – turned out more like a mush than a pasta dish, but still tasty), and struggled again a little at the end of the day for that “treat” satisfaction.  Doesn’t help that I’m on my moon time, so to speak.  I want to indulge!
  • My PT (WOOT SISTER PT!) says I can start exercising according to comfort level.  Ready to embrace a new challenge – no yoga, no impact sport (so no running or group fitness classes) – BUT, was able to do 5 gentle rounds of Sun A tonight, so that felt good.  Tomorrow:  swimming or cycling!
  • Also:  what am I TALKING about, I need a new hobby?  I’ve got music to write and record, not to mention a painting to finish and scarves to knit – hobbies up the wazoo oh me oh my!!  Ignore Day 14’s thusly concerned statements.

Tracking a 30-Day Cleanse: 20 Days to Go!

Day 6 (Feb 13)

  • Today went well (not surprisingly, considering it was the first official day of the cleanse for my yoga group!).  Taught two classes of yoga, then drove with Dave to Dillon, CO, to commence our romantic ski trip for the weekend.
  • We went out to eat for a Valentine’s treat at the Dam Brewery – I had a San Pellegrino with my Super Salad (greens, craisins, almonds, and a quinoa patty, topped with a housemaid vinaigrette); it was delicious and Dave really encouraged me to stick all the way to the cleanse (no cheese or anything!).  Feel really good 🙂

 

Day 7 (Feb 14)

  • Today a little tougher (not just for the fact that the hotel’s “breakfast” included nothing I could eat but an apple – though luckily I had foreseen that dilemma and had bought some hot cereal from a Natural Grocer’s the night before).  My biggest mistake I think was skipping out on any water in the morning (the hotel’s “hot water” was really lukewarm – though I still should have filled a bottle with cold…).
  • We went to Breckenridge to ski.  Packed a couple of power bars (mine painstakingly picked to suit the needs of the cleanse).  I tired quickly though – the boots I had borrowed were painfully tight, and by the time I rented a different pair it was lunchtime.  I forego eating a real lunch to keep skiing, instead stuffing my face with the power bars, which just weren’t enough.  My last full run I knew I was flagging in energy.  I ended up falling and hurting my knee, ending our ski trip a full day and a half early.
  • After getting out of there, we went to Whole Foods where I indulged in a decaf soy latte and a vegan cookie (down one sugar count for the cleanse!).  Later that night Dave also brought me a dark chocolate pixie (down two!).  I feel ok with these transgressions, seeing as they brought me comfort after a scary experience.

 

Day 8 (Feb 15)

  • Personal revelation:  breakfast out can be tricky!  Dave and I went to a cafe in Dillon before leaving our hotel; out of the typical cafe’s options of eggs and pancakes, I got a granola and yogurt platter.  Even though it seemed like a healthier option, I’m sure the yogurt (aside from breaking my dairy rule) had added sugar in it (damn you misleading health food!  Give me plain Greek yogurt any day over that stupid vanilla crap!), as well as the blueberries (which looked more like the blueberry compote you put on a pancake?  Wth?).  Oh well.  Did my best with the options I had.
  • The rest of the day went smoothly.  Made a delicious butternut squash and lentil stew for dinner – delicious and nutritious!  Also, my injured knee is already feeling much better, which lifts my spirits and gives me a rejuvenation of motivation for the remainder of the cleanse :).

 

Day 9 (Feb 16)

  • Today going well (helps that I’m mainly resting today to let the knee heal); took another grocery trip today that led to a discovery of *drum roll please* sugarless cereal!!!  It’s corn flakes sweetened with fruit juice (grape and something else?).  Haven’t tried them yet but grateful to find ANY alternative to the actual sugar they put in ALL THE CEREALS THAT EXIST GEEZUS.  Other finds:  xylitol for baking (tried it with some zucchini muffins, they aight), and gluten-free vegan sugar-free flax crackers (they don’t sound it but YUM).  What still does not seem to exist?  A sugar-free substitute for Greek yogurt (sigh).
  • Dinner for tonight?  Fish tacos for Dave, sweet potato tacos for me, in Romaine lettuce boats no less!  Ah, the food creations I can create with so much time (ah me, the life of an invalid!). 
  • Walked Lyra some but knee still tricky on turns, so not doing too much exercise other than those gentle ones prescribed to me by my PT, sister Kristin 🙂

 

Day 10 (Feb 17)

  • Each day the cleanse itself seems to get a little easier, and my battles are whittling down into more manageable chunks.  For instance:  I really want a frothy hot beverage on these beautifully mild winter days.  I hate tea, I really do.  And hot water with lemon gets me so far until I want something with a little more substance.  I’m getting by right now with decaf soy lattes, but even original soy is somewhat sweetened (no SB today, found a local cafe that has unflavored soy!).  Still, I know I can do better.  The habit is there, whether it serves me or not.
  • I like to reiterate that I’ve been really strong on caffeine and alcohol – last year I was struggling, at least with the alcohol in social situations.  Now I’m cruising on that score.  The past couple days I’ve stayed strong on gluten and animal products, but the dairy and sugar seem to be the trickiest for me to keep away from.  Sugar just seeps into everything!  And dairy wouldn’t be an issue except for my beloved Greek yogurt – I’ll keep trying though, which is the best that I can do :).

Tracking a 30-Day Cleanse: Week 1

For whatever reason, I’ve embarked upon a month-long journey to a healthier, more vibrant and mindful me (gee, what’s the reason?).  The key word here, at least for me, is mindful – mindful not only of what I’m eating, but also of when and why and how, the habits that lead to and define my day-to-day actions (and, consequently, my overall mental/physical/emotional state of being). 

This log is an attempt to enhance that mindfulness in a practical way, by keeping track of how I feel each day, attempting to explain why, and then through time building upon those insights to form new or reinforce established habits that lead to the healthiest lifestyle for me in mind, body, and spirit :).  The potential toxins I’m refraining from (or doing my best to refrain from) for the 30 days of the cleanse are:  alcohol, caffeine, sugar, animal products, and gluten.

Day 1 (Feb 8)

  • Tired, mild headache throughout mid-day to late afternoon
  • Did Astanga at home but gently

 

Day 2 (Feb 9)

  • Very tired, mild headache throughout mid-day to late afternoon
  • Worse than Day 1, only exercise to walk Lyra; had fun grocery shopping for new cleanse items!
  • Possible lesson:  WATCH LABELS!  Got gluten-free bread that still had eggs + sugar in it (oops), plus coconut-based yogurt that still had dried cane syrup in it (even though it said PLAIN GAH – doesn’t taste that great either way); also, tried almond-rolled dates in attempt to find replacement for chocolate.  No comment.

 

Day 3 (Feb 10)

  • Headaches gone, still somewhat lower energy than normal
  • Mood drop – bad day subbing kids, came home and vented to Lyra, but felt better for it and went for a short run + abs + YIN THANK GOD
  • Possible lesson:  even if you’re tired/discouraged/unmotivated, get up and MOVE!  You’ll feel vastly better for it, almost every time (tune in and learn to tell the difference, in your body, between general fatigue and true illness – for the latter, honoring rest in your body is probably best, but don’t use tiredness as an excuse when some exercise might actually make you feel LOADS better!)

 

Day 4 (Feb 11)

  • Feeling much better so far – woke up for early (5:15am) TCX class with Scott C.
  • So far have been strong on no caffeine, alcohol, or sugar – EXCEPTING one pixie yesterday (emotional weakness, + it was the last one and Dave was refusing to eat it); also have been lax on bananas + honey as sweeteners (not so concerned about that, as they’re natural substitutes and therefore in my brain healthier/less guilt-inducing :P)
  • Have been easing out the gluten + dairy – need to avoid those processed foods that still sneak in the eggs or sugar!  Question:  is there such a thing as vegan, gluten-free bread?  And then:  SHOULD there be, based on one’s general understanding of what actually constitutes bread?  Here we come to the crux of my vegan-yes/vegan-no dilemma:  when do you start replacing natural foods with more processed ones, granted in the search for non-harmful ingredients, but at the cost of your own better health?  Can we get by with whole foods, and whole foods all the way??  WHOLE FOODS ALL THE WAY BABY!

 

Day 5 (Feb 12)

  • Feeling good still with no more headaches, but definitely had to take a nap after waking up before 5am again today.  Roots class was a good choice, but left me feeling exhausted by the time I got home.
  • Lesson:  Cut out Starbucks for the remainder of the cleanse.  Even if you sub coconut or soy milk, they use flavored versions with added sweetener.  Not a great health swap.  Also, decaf definitely still has caffeine in it (don’t ask me how I can tell…).

New Year, No Resolution

What happened, New Year?  Where is the motivation you promised?  The drive to redefine my goals, both short- and long-term?  I feel no differently than I did in 2015, and in place of feeling difference, I feel only disappointment.

I know it’s not really your fault.  I know that if I want things to change, I must change them for myself.  I was simply hoping for a little push, is all.  You usually give me that much.  Did I do something wrong this year?  Did I miss your siren call?  Did I unwarily choose complacence in the expectation you’d provide motivation for me, free of charge?

I do have goals and resolutions, but I was hoping to reinvigorate them.  I am so impatient!  I am also overwhelmed.  Eager to move forward towards my goals, but with so many voices pointing me in so many directions, none clear enough for me to choose with conviction.

At some point, I know that I will never have complete conviction.  At some point, I must take the leap whether all my ducks are in a row or not.  At some point, I must open my arms wide to the terrifying possibility of whatever is in store for me, and embrace the challenge of not knowing for sure where I will end up.

I am so ready to get started.  Universe, can I get the tiniest of pushes in a rewarding direction?  No, I didn’t sit down to write a list of New Year’s Resolutions, nor did I create a Vision Board like I did last year to help categorize my goals and motivate myself towards them throughout the year.  I did not tell anyone of any new resolutions, or create a timeline or checklist to take steps to get anything done.  

But.  LAST year was all about taking steps.  I’ve been doing my research, pursuing knowledge, weighing options.  I’m ready to DO.  

And when you failed me, New Year, in helping me resolve to get anything new done, I sat down and breathed in my frustration and disappointment.  I will congratulate myself on not dissolving into the mindless sobbing that sinks me into that hopeless pit of depression (as I would have done a year or so ago).  Instead I breathed, acknowledged what I was feeling, and asked the Universe to help me.  Searched within my own self for clarity, for what it is that I truly desire and know to be true of myself.

And that tiny voice of clarity spoke:  the answer will come.

I don’t care if you believe in God, fate, or magic – it is possible to reach out to something that is greater than yourself, and yet within yourself, to connect with it and to take comfort from that connection.  We all have a voice inside that always knows, if we simply quiet down enough to hear it:  the answer will come.

I forgive you New Year, for now.  I don’t have the answers yet, but every day is part of my path toward greater clarity of self, leading to greater clarity of my aspirations, leading to greater clarity of the steps I need to take to achieve them.  I am enough as I am now, and as for the future – it will come.