Metamorphosis

WARNING: May not be suitable for those who are under 18 years of age or squeamish about the human body.

“The great loneliness- like the loneliness a caterpillar endures when she wraps herself in a silky shroud and begins the long transformation from chrysalis to butterfly. It seems we too must go through such a time, when life as we have known it is over- when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don’t know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change. And though we must make the journey alone, and even if suffering is our only companion, soon enough we will become a butterfly, soon enough we will taste the rapture of being alive.” – Elizabeth Lesser

Transformations abound on the internet. I want to share with you the 20 year view of my metamorphosis, which was celebrated recently via  a photo shoot with the amazing Pure Poise Photography I cannot recommend it enough! To work with a skilled, comfortable, uplifting photographer is an experience that is absolutely worthwhile in my opinion. It changed the way I see myself. It’s the perfect gift to yourself for achieving a goal! Of course after spending the majority of my life overweight, I have remained self-critical and nit-picky. I don’t think I’m alone in that. Amanda has shown me the truth of my own beauty through her lens.

And don’t think for a minute this transformation is purely physical. My confidence level is at an all-time high! I’ve done the physical work as well as the mental and emotional work! The effects are far greater than what you see on the outside. Years ago I would allow people to repeatedly abuse or control me in many ways that I won’t go in to here. Know that I stand my ground now and I am a much happier person, secure with myself, and happily in a wonderfully supportive marriage. The freedom I have gained to express myself and feel good about who I am makes me want to lift those around me. You deserve to be happy and self-confident, too!!!

Here is my journey in a nutshell (and I’m not done yet!!):

2000
Me in 2000, obese and close to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

2014
2014, 7 years of hardcore cycling, 6 years of mountain bike racing, 4 years strict paleo style diet.

2020
2020, 3 years vegan, added home strength training, couldn’t budge the loose skin!

2020, 12 weeks post-op from Mommy Makeover surgery. You can see the bandage under my breast from a complication that I had.

Click to view this set, which represents my transformation from chrysalis to butterfly 🙂

So you see, change takes time. I feel better in all the ways at 45 than I did at 25!! Also, I am so grateful I was able to proceed with the surgery to remove all of that loose belly skin, repair my separated abdominal muscles, and lift and even out my super floppy, super uneven breasts. Dr. Mel Ortega is who I chose for my surgery, and I am so pleased! It takes 6-12 months for the final results to show, but if this is where I am 3 months in…. well I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat. Zero regrets! More about my surgery here.

Drop a comment or contact me if you have any questions or are in need of support in your transformation. Imagine a world where we inspire one another for the sheer joy of it!

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Menu Plan and Shopping List Week 4

Note: Serves 2
Also Note: Breakfast and lunch are fairly repetitive and boring. Make your life exciting, keep it simple and if you want to make something fancy, make it for dinner. No need to over-complicate things.

And I was not thinking when I started titling these posts, but it’s May. I’m still going with April week 4 🙂

Shopping List Here

Week 4 Menu

Drink 3 quarts of water daily!
Prep on Sunday: Quinoa for lunches (I use a rice cooker), tempeh bacon https://www.noracooks.com/smoky-baked-tempeh-bacon/, seitan bread loaf http://www.myveganplate.com/low-carb-high-protein-bread/, 2 recipes worth of the seitan from Friday’s menu (and then freeze those)

Breakfast – 1/4-1/2c dry of quick oats. Double that amount water. 1/2c frozen blueberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thick. Stir in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat. OR throw it all in a dish the night before and pop in the fridge for overnight oats.

Post workout – plain yogurt, handful frozen strawberries, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Lunch – BLT’s + 1/2c quinoa + lettuce salad with balsamic drizzle

Snacks – raw cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, protein shake

Monday Seitan Chorizo Crumbles with thinly sliced sauteed cabbage and pinto beans.

TuesdayMongolian Beef Soy Curls + rice for the husband, served over lettuce for me, with sauteed red bell peppers (2) and black beans.

Wednesday – Field Roast Italian Sausage sliced and sauteed, served in Field Day Spice Arrabbiata sauce over noodles for the husband and over zoodles for me (I like to saute my zucchini noodles in a small amount of olive oil with fresh minced garlic, with a side of cannelini beans.

ThursdayBuffalo Soy Curls note that I use dried herbs for the ranch-style dressing. Serve with steamed broccoli and cannelini beans.

FridayBBQ Seitan Skewers served with black beans.

SaturdaySweet Chili Tofu Bowl over rice.

On this day also throw a frozen banana in with 2 scoops protein powder for your mid-morning snack. Eat an extra serving of quinoa at lunch, and have a couple slices of toast if you feel like it!

SundayCurry Seitan “Chicken” Salad served with steamed broccoli and either a batch of dal (I’ll make some in the Instant Pot and freeze leftovers) or whatever legumes you might have.

 

Shopping List Here

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Menu Plan and Shopping List Week 1

JuiceBreakfast choice of (due to variety and preferences, ingredients for breakfast and lunch are not included in shopping list):

  • Overnight oats (Google it)
  • 16-32 ounces fresh juice (I’m into carrot/apple/ginger lately)
  • Fresh melon (I eat an entire cantaloupe if they’re in season)
  • Smoothie (ideas here)

Smoothie BowlLunch:

Snacks:

  • Fruit
  • Dates
  • Carrots or other raw veggies
  • Nuts/seeds (keep the quantity minimal if trying to lose weight)
  • Kale chips
  • Ezekiel toast either dry or with minimal non-dairy spread (I use Earth Balance or Miyoko’s) OR 1/2 avocado + garlic salt

 

CurryDinners:

Shopping List Here

This program is being provided free of charge. However, if you would like to donate (suggested donation $10-$20), you may do so here: paypal.me/tranquilsolemassage . Thank you!

Join the Facebook group for free support and daily updates! Team Estrogen

Fruit

Favorite Smoothie Combos

Add 2T of freshly ground flaxseeds or whole chia seeds for an omega 3 boost! I use a high-powered blender, so do not pre-grind my flaxseeds.

Frozen banana x2
Frozen berries x2
Coconut water or pineapple juice 1.5c

Frozen banana x3
2T cacao powder
2T agave nectar
Supplements of choice (I use spirulina and powdered chaga lately)
8oz coconut milk (not canned)
2 large handfuls fresh spinach
4 oz H2O

16oz H2O
2T flaxseeds
4c greens
1c frozen pineapple
1c frozen mango
1-2 frozen bananas

Frozen bananas x2
Frozen berries x2c
Medjool dates x2
Enough water to blend

1/4c raw cashews
2-4 Medjool dates
1 large carrot in chunks
12 frozen strawberries
golf ball sized peeled beet
1 1/2c coconut water
(inspired by Green Smoothie Girl’s Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie)

2020 Lab Test Results – Vegan Diet

This year I am right on top of checkups, screenings, and physical therapy. Right out of the gate I had some blood testing done to see how nearly 3 years on a plant exclusive diet is working for me. There was a period of a few weeks at the start of 2019 where I brought back eggs and wild game, but all it got me was dizzy, constipated and depressed. Back to the beautiful plants for me 🙂 I have a surgical procedure planned for April of 2020, so I popped the hood to take a peek and see if I need to course correct.

I have had high cholesterol every time I’ve had it tested. I never had a normal result. However, in my “paleo” days it was 314 total (2014) and then 294 total (2017).  Going plant-based in 2017, I was able to drop it by 92 points in 3 months. For reference, I take no prescription drugs.

And then I got relaxed about added oils. And nuts. And well, it’s high again. I do so much better when I keep the fat low. I even notice easier periods and better athletic performance when I keep it low fat. Before we blame genetics…. nope. I had my DNA tested. I cannot blame anyone but my own self because I do struggle with food addiction.

I’ve never gotten my vitamin D in a normal range. I have increased my dosage based on these results to 4000iu daily, but it’s chronically very low. Has been for at least a decade.

I do supplement B12. I understand “meat animals” are supplemented with B12 and also get it from soil, which is where humans used go get it. I hear debate about the necessity, but I’d rather not take chances. My D supplement contains K2. I bleed very heavily on my monthly cycle, and have for the better part of 34 years now (yay!), so I take Floradix to supplement iron. Those are the absolutes. I rarely use protein powders.

I have to say, I get asked where I get my protein so often, if I had a nickel for every time, I’d be a rich woman! Haha! aerialObviously I get sufficient amounts from plants. Read the book Proteinaholic or The China Study if you want to learn why more isn’t better. My protein levels are great. Calcium great. Hemoglobin A1C (long-term blood sugar control) stellar. Oh and I eat primarily carbohydrate! Fresh, delicious, juicy fruit. Every day. In general, it’s looking great except cholesterol. I’ve dropped added oils and cut back on nuts. I’ll retest later this spring.

Other than that, I’m hovering around 130# at 5’1″. I have a good amount of muscle. Blood pressure normal. As I said, no prescription drugs. Plenty of energy to get through my very active days.  Far less struggles with depression. I feel like I’m on an even keel most of the time. Even in the dead of winter. My only complaints are chronic pain (12 years now and still trying to figure it out) and bloating (same amount of time). I think I’m doing pretty dang good at 45 years old. I have certainly come a long way.

 

labslabs

 

 

2020Labs

Why I Went Plant-Based and What I Eat In A Day

This past spring I went in for a checkup. It had been awhile. At the time, I was continuing to struggle with my weight despite regular exercise (typically 5 days per week) and eating what I thought was an incredibly healthy diet. I was puzzled. I had tried several “sugar detoxes” and would eat approximately 1200-1500 calories per day but my weight wouldn’t budge. I did have a bit of a binge on cheese, nuts or chocolate once or twice every week. I was also having breast pain every day. Driving over bumps in my car hurt.

The pain is what led me to a plant-based diet. While I awaited the barrage of tests to determine if the pain was cancerous, I read up on The Gerson Therapy and Chris Wark’s success with a plant-based diet in fighting cancer. In light of my only full-blooded sister dying at the age of 37 the year before, I figured I would do what I could in the realm of diet to try to be anti-cancer.

At my checkup, I learned that my cholesterol was stupidly high. It’s always been high-ish. This was something else. It’s kind of like when the scale doesn’t move but you’re within 5 pounds of ideal and lifting weights, versus being obese and seeing it clearly in a photograph. Obese is obese and it is unhealthy. Stupidly high cholesterol is the same.

With that, I embarked on a mostly plant-based diet. I still had eggs, cheese, and some meat until the end of April. Something about seeing human flesh at the cadaver lab I attended for massage therapy school killed my desire for meat entirely. I did try fish three times after that. I continued to eat nuts (and I know no moderation with them) as well as add oils to my food until probably mid-June.

So here we are in mid-August. 3 months roughly since I’ve had meat. More like 2 months for dairy and eggs.  I dropped 92 points in total cholesterol and 68 of those were LDL. My blood pressure and resting heart rate are picture perfect. My weight is down 15 pounds. My energy level is steady most days. My bowels are happy (hey,  I’m a nurse, I like talking about bodily functions) and most nights my sleep is good.

I was worried what all these evil carbohydrates were doing to my long-term blood sugar control. After all, I’m the one who invested $1200 in Primal Health Coach Certification recently! I was The Paleo Girl. Carbs = baaaad. Don’t eat too much fruit! Pasta?! Rice?! I thought they were horrible for you! I tried to keep my carbs under 75 grams per day.

It. wasn’t. working. I was diligent. The model paleo spokesperson. Except I was chunky and tired. I couldn’t lose a pound. And my lipid profile was in agreement that it was not working.

So, this time I retested my hemoglobin A1C which is a blood test that gives a good sense of average blood sugars over the last few months. On March 29th is was normal at 4.9 with a calculated average glucose of 94. Mid-August after eating a daily carb intake around 80%….. drum roll please….. 4.7. Estimated average 88. I feel like I’ve been wrong this whole time. Starches keep me full. Fruits are a great snack – super convenient!

Regarding proteins and people’s obsession with getting enough; did you know that the World Health Organization recommends 5-10%? Did you know plants provide that? And easily! I’m not wasting away here. I continue to gain strength and vitality in my 40’s.  I am competing in obstacle course and mountain bike races, having a great time and feeling good! Oh, and the breast pain is GONE. Completely. I do supplement iodine on a regular basis and the rest of my nutrients come from whole foods.

I don’t feel the least bit deprived. I eat a lot, actually, and most days my caloric intake is 1200-1700. I’m so full right now. I ate a lot today and came in under 1800 calories after a couple of indulgences 🙂

So, here’s a rundown of what I eat in a day when I’m working from home. My exercise regimen is pretty much running 1-3 miles each day and doing some form of bodyweight strength 2-3 times per week. I mountain bike sporadically for fun, paddle the kayak when I feel like it, and this week my strength training looks like power yoga.

Breakfast was cabbage, a few bell peppers and carrots roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. It was a huge bowl, with balsamic vinegar and Benson’s Table Tasty no-salt seasoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I snacked on 2 pieces of sprouted grain rye sourdough, plain. It’s amazing how taste buds really change. The plain bread was quite delicious. I was working and didn’t have to put any thought into it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch was something I’ve been craving for days. Roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (the broccoli was from an awesome local farmer!) with smoked paprika and granulated garlic. Plus a dash of hot sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not pictured was a very thick smoothie – more like ice cream – made from a splash of unsweetened soy milk, frozen banana, frozen dark cherries and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Super refreshing and yummy! It’s such a treat.

Supper wasn’t the most beautiful dish I’ve made but so creamy and satisfying. It’s a recipe from Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking and it’s a creamy, low-fat pasta dish that really hits the spot. I absolutely love everything I’ve made from that cookbook. Low-fat, no-added-oils, vegan and delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two kitchen gadgets have made my life so much easier. Instant Pot Duo80 and a used Blendtec Total blender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An evening glass of dry red wine, 2-3 cups of coffee per day, spring water and green tea are my beverages. Life’s too short to give those up, in my opinion.

I did change my diet for health reasons, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how much better my conscience feels on a plant-based diet. I personally see animals as sentient beings. I look at my snoring, loving dog next to me and I know she’s not made a whole lot different than a pig. Or a cow. I do have 3 ducks yet who reside in my back yard. They’re pampered pets and they do lay eggs. They are beautiful birds with personalities. You can say whatever you want, but I’m happy not to contribute the the inhumane conditions our nations livestock live in. I cry when I see the megafarms. It’s such a blatant disregard for God’s creation and it sickens me. I’m done supporting that. Further, I’m not a baby cow. The thought of an artificially-inseminated cow spending it’s short life indoors on a grate, calling out to it’s calf which has been taken from it and then when her milk production drops, she’s slaughtered…. I can’t. I’m done. It’s not healthy for anyone, and you’re kidding yourself if you think milk from any species isn’t a hormone-laden beverage. Of course it is! It’s made to grow a 60 pound calf to 600 pounds in short order, and the cow is the milk comes from is almost certainly pregnant again.

Also, my food budget is feeling much better. Starches, locally-grown veggies, some fruits, some foraging… I can afford to eat organic now and feel good about it!

In conclusion, my health has improved. My conscience is much more aligned with my spirit. My energy is good and those I come in contact with comment on how they can feel it. My clothes fit. My checking account is happier. My impact on the planet is less. I will check in on lipids again in November when I approach my 43rd birthday, but it looks like I’m heading in the right direction!

Thanks for reading!