February 27, 2015

Nutrition challenges: Week 1 and 2

Part of my YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) is 12 weeks of food challenges.  These are not a requirement, but all of us are doing them.  We can commit to 1, 3, 5, or 7 days per week for each challenge.  If I am doing this, I'm doing this.  I am committing to this full-on.  Except of course if we have a date night or special occasion or something.  I am a foodie.  I do still love my food.  :)

Week 1:  Homemade

Not a challenge.  At all.  We don't eat out, except for our monthly date night and family pizza outings (Ok, so we do eat out, but not like grab McDonalds multiple times a week eating out....).  Right after I started the challenge, my old manager reached out to me, and told me I was taking her somewhere fun in the city for dinner.   She was sick of the burb dining when she came to town.  Sorry, cannot resist that.  ;)  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Pizzeria Lola, where I've been wanting to go for the past couple years, and that was that.  The rest of the week was homemade.

Special lunch made by hubby.  Don't normally eat a lot of bread / cheese, so this was extra delish.  Toasted artisan bread, cheddar cheese, tomato, mixed greens, and avocado.

Week 2:  Vegetarian

Again, not a challenge.  In fact, I LOVE it.  I think I've been a wanna-be vegetarian my whole life.  When I was little I used to chew and chew and chew my meat, and then complain about not being able to swallow it.  I would sneak away to the bathroom, and spit it out in the garbage.  Fast forward 20 some years, and Mack does the same exact thing.  Hilarious.  Sometimes I really do think he is a little me (except that he looks exactly like Jeremy.  ;)  He is pretty sneaky, too.  I give him credit.  He is being a little more open to at least TRYING new foods.  Especially after I explain to him that he'll never grow if all he wants to eat is apples and crackers.  Haha.

We've been especially short on time lately. (I wonder why?)  ;)  I made a HUGE pot of Vegetarian Chili, and we've been enjoying it all week.  I love it.   Better than meaty chili for sure.  (I used 8 cans of beans.  A pretty assortment.)

Corn tortillas with avocado, salt, and mixed green (my fav snack), with veggies and hummus, and water with apple cider vinegar.  *Google the benefits of ACV if you don't know!

We've been home 4 out of the 5 days this week with the tummy flu in the little ones.  So excited to see this one have an appetite again.  Her fav foods (besides sweets haha) are tomatoes and black beans.

I had been doing a mostly Paleo-type meal plan since May of 2014.  The Whole30 I completed in May really made me think more about what I was putting into my body, and how it made me feel.  (It makes all other food challenges (juice cleanse!) SO much easier, too!)

I like the idea of the Whole30 rules.  It is a good elimination diet, as it allows you to really see how your body reacts to these foods when you add them back in.

  • No processed foods.
  • No dairy.
  • No soy.
  • No sugar (limited fruit).
  • No grains (at all).
  • No alcohol.
  • No legumes / peanuts.  (Peanuts are legumes, you know.)
  • Lots of veggies.
  • Lots of good fat (coconut oil, coconut, avocado, nuts).

Except this one.  I just couldn't get on board.
  • Lots of meat. 

What have I changed in my overall eating plan since completing Whole30?

  • Limited / eliminated processed foods
  • Eliminated dairy
  • Limited alcohol
  • Added good fats to my diet
  • Eat way more veggies
  • Eliminated sugar (except for fruit...and special occasion treats)
  • Replaced peanut butter with almond butter.  (Sunflower butter for kids.  Cheaper)
  • Added legumes back in.  I LOVE beans and lentils and hummus.  And I feel light and healthy after eating.
  • Added occasional grains (corn tortillas for Mexican night, rice in our rice cooker)
  • Started drinking coffee again (I know, I know.  I made it through the hard part, but then I got my first sort-of cold in over a year, and I was so exhausted for a week that I caved.  I freakin love coffee.)

My rule is, don't just eliminate, or it will feel like you a depriving yourself...or just making "can't eat this rules."  I like to find new and exciting (or expensive, as my hubby likes to describe them) foods.  Perhaps some new smoothie additions, or trying a new produce that I haven't tried.

I am excited to learn more and more about different ways of eating.  Our instructors are really focusing on finding the foods that you feel GREAT when you eat.  Not just physically, but mentally / emotionally / spiritually, etc.  And this is probably different for everyone....so you gotta just try it all!

Next week:  Vegan.  (Shouldn't be a challenge, since I haven't been eating dairy, so the only thing I'll be cutting out is eggs.  I do eat a lot of eggs, though....)

February 26, 2015

Vegan Green Mustache Smoothie

Let me know your favorite smoothie additions!

Vegan Green Mustache Smoothie

(2 adult + 2 little kid smoothies)

2 frozen bananas
2.5 cups almond milk
Handfuls of spinach (lots)
Handful of blueberries
1/2 avocado
Chia seeds
1 TBSP Cinnamon
Goji Berries
2 tsp Maca Powder
2 TBSP Almond butter
1 TBSP Hemp seeds (new addition)
Top with cacao nibs and coconut flakes for crunch (my favorite part)

My little green mustache.

February 23, 2015

Please give, if you can.

Amber is my best friend from grade school.  I spent so much time biking up and down Pill Hill, where she lived.  We played "radio station" and had our special clubs, complete with meetings and club dues.  We grew up together.  I spent so much time with her family...her mom, dad, sister, and brother.
Her brother was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.  Watching the outpouring of love from our small town, and the friends and family of Dustin, as well as complete strangers, has been pretty amazing. 
Please click on the link to the right to read the story, the comments of love, or make a donation.
Thank you!
Amber....you, Dustin, and your entire family are in my thoughts.  I couldn't imagine a more supportive family for Dustin to have by his side.


February 20, 2015

I quit.

I quit pinterset and instagram...just in case you were wondering where I went.  I feel if I announce that, then it is for real.  Just so you know, I would probably still "like" your photo.  I promise.  ;)  Oh, and I joined Facebook.  Probably the last person on earth, right?  It is funny because the thing that finally pushed me over the Facebook ledge was the fact that my yoga group had a FB group to share recipes and yoga articles.  How could I not be a part of that?!

This blog will continue to be a place where I share kids photos and occasional stories.  Facebook will be my connection to the world, but I just needed to get off the computer.  And off my phone.  I am online all day long.  Seriously.  Sit on my butt, on the phone and computer all day.  I need to disconnect on my free time.  Jeremy asked me if this "was for yoga."  Perhaps it came from something I came to understand lately, or a light bulb just went off.  I am not sure what, but all I know is that I am a little overwhelmed with technology lately.  Sometimes I feel a little over-inspired.  I need to do too much. 

If you love to knit, don't own a monkey.  Or something like that.  I am not good with sayings and quotes.  I usually get them wrong.  I am known for that.  But to me that makes sense.

So goodbye online world.  (I do miss you right now.)

My little scientists.  I hope you never stop asking why.

February 12, 2015

The first class

I thanked Jeremy, and headed out the door...on my way to my first day of yoga teacher training.  The Tues night session is a lecture class, and is held at a church by One Yoga studio.  I drove to Uptown in the sleet / snow, parked, and ran in.

I followed the signs, made my way up to the big open room, with hardwood floors and incense burning, and was handed my booklet, paperwork, and name tag.  I looked around the room at the other (12-ish) just as excited faces.

Our instructors introduced themselves, and then it was our turn.  We had to explain what yoga meant to us, and what we hoped to get out of this class.  There was a middle aged New Age-y spiritual woman who said a bunch of really deep stuff, there was a girl just about to graduate with her PhD, a guy that had gotten his 200 hour certification in India 2 years ago, but needed to learn a more Western philosophy for teaching classes in the U.S.  There were a couple servers, looking for a way to deepen their current practice, an gal who sold appliances for her day job, and another who was a counselor for teenagers, about to move across the world with her husband for their next adventure.  There was an unemployed girl who just moved to MPLS, and didn't know anyone a soul in the city.  But like the word yoga says....we were one.  Starting the same journey, that would lead each of us in the direction that it was meant to.

We learned that there was a big nutrition component to this class.  (Yay!)  Each week there would be a different food challenge (right up my alley, right?).  Our first challenge next week is home-cooked (no processed foods / eating out).  One week was Vegetarian, another Vegan.  One was a week long juice cleanse!  (Intrigued....but scared.)  One of the instructors (Yoga Matt.  How funny) is an herbalist.  I am excited to learn so much from him, and try out how different foods react, not only with my physical body, but with my yoga practice, and mental state.  He made sure to state over and over that he was not here to preach what is the best diet to live by, but to give us the tools to try them out for ourselves, and get to know our bodies.  (We did learn that they are vegetarians (vegans...perhaps), who do not drink alcohol.  They did not tell us this, but a couple students asked them straight out.)

We talked a lot about far-out things, but so, so interesting.  We talked about knowing our organs, feeling them, and listening to them.  We talked about listening to "our higher self."  It was honestly one of the most fascinating conversations I've been a part of.

I jotted down some notes. 

  • Yoga is where the mind stops.
  • Everything you've ever needed, you've had.  You are here now.  Perhaps you haven't gotten everything you've wanted, but you've got what you needed.
  • Yoga is like an onion.  You keep peeling back layers, but instead of getting smaller, the onion just keeps getting bigger.  (I like this one, because it sounds like one of my made up quotes.  ;)

There class will be time-consuming.  But like anything you do, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

  • 11 hours of class-time per week, both lecture and asanas, for 13 weeks.
  • Journaling for 20-30 minutes per day.  (Does blogging count?)
  • 40 yoga classes with my instructors leading.  (This is going to take me a few months with their schedules.)
  • Try 3 different styles of yoga at new yoga studios
  • 3 worksheets a week
  • Outside class time practicing leading each other through classes
  • Daily home yoga practice (Good thing I am in a good rhythm with this one.)
  • Reading 6 yoga books
  • Weekly nutrition challenge
  • Final exam - Written
  • Final exam - Teaching

My biggest fear, that I've been working through the past 11 months in my new (work) role.  Public speaking.  I've accepted that I am no Jeremy.  I will never be in sales.  I am not the best at articulating things on the spot.  Sometimes there is that awkward silence when I am talking with people.  But the difference is....I just don't care as much anymore.  Especially when I am talking about something I am passionate about.  It sort of just comes out of you.  The nervousness fades. 

I had a friend point out that this training will help me so much with my life...my job....who I am.  Gaining confidence.  It is so true.  I see that already.  I am ready for the next 3 months!  Bring it on!

Mack:  "Do you like going to work?  I like going to school sometimes.  Sometimes I like staying home."
Me:  "Yes, Mack.  That is a good attitude, and just how I feel.  Sometimes I like staying home as well."
Mack:  "You like yoga."
Me:  "Yes."
Mack:  "I like toys."

Downward dog comes naturally.  Future yogi, if I can do anything to encourage that.  ;)

February 10, 2015

A calling

I had never experienced a true calling before.  I have feelings about things.  Lots of them.  And I am normally right.  Psychic?  Sometimes I think so.  ;)

A week and a half ago (Sun), I woke up with this feeling of needing to start something, do something, change something.  I didn't know exactly what it was.

Jade Yoga Mat.  Best yoga mat in history.

I texted my friend Kelly to see if she wanted to go to a yoga class over nap.  She agreed (Thanks, Kels!), and we headed to the little yoga studio (Healing Elements) by her house.  It was so amazing.  Only 5 students max can fit in the studio.  After class I announced (to myself), I may not be able to lead 40 people in a yoga class....but I could handle 5!  I could do this.  I am passionate about this, I love talking yoga (all day long), and this is how I could offer a service to our community (something that I have been searching for, for some time.)

I immediately headed home to my computer, and started Googling "Yoga teacher training - Minneapolis."  I had 3 options, CorePower Yoga, MPLS Yoga Center, and Radiant Life Yoga.  Both Corepower and Radiant Life started a week and a half later!  Oh my goodness.  Could this really happen???

I have been going to CorePower on and off for the past 10 years, however I was missing the meditation / spiritual side of yoga.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE CorePower.  Love it.  It changed my life.  I reached out to the couple that started Radiant Life teaching training, and turns out, the couple that leads it, were the first yoga teachers for CorePower 10 years ago, and basically started the teacher training there.  They offer the 200 hour certification, and focus on yoga postures (asanas), the history of yoga, the spiritual side of the practice, as well as Ayurveda nutrition, which I've been so interested in learning more about.

I was texting my sis and a couple friends about it, trying to get the courage to ask my husband.  It was time-consuming and expensive, but I knew if I didn't do this now, I wouldn't do it for a long, long time.  It is Tues evenings and Saturday and Sun afternoons for the next 13 weeks.  My husband starts golf and softball in the spring/summer, and has football (watching) in the fall.  Next year we were not guaranteed to have 2 napping kiddos, as Mack will be 4 1/2.  (The Sat and Sun afternoon classes are conveniently over nap time.)  It was now or never. 

I finally got the courage, and asked him.  He laughed and said, "No way.  Are you out of your mind?!!"  And then after a little convincin and s'plainin, he agreed.  ;)  Everyone apparently knew he would support me, but it was pretty scary.  Haha.  I told him his summer would be filled with golfing, and softball, and we would surely get back his time, plus some.  And the money aspect?  Money is just money, and our life is now.  (Or at least that is my feeling toward it.)  ;)  Jeremy probably doesn't 100% agree, but he is on-board now.  I had to forego my yoga membership, since this yoga training would be enough yoga spendin' for awhile.  ;)  It was sad, but I know it will be worth it.  I've transitioned to a home-practice, trying out new studios around the city when I can.

I had to fill out an application form, asking questions like "what is yoga to me?" and "how has yoga changed my life?"  It ended up being 2 pages long, front and back.  It is pretty amazing that when you are passionate about something, you really put your heart into it.

I was supposed to finish a 600 page, sort of difficult to understand, ancient yoga book prior to the start of class, but I am pretty sure I was one of the last people to sign up for it, so I think I can give myself to the weekend to finish (over halfway done).

It starts....Tonight!  I have never been so excited for anything in my life.  If only I would have been this passionate about college.  Hehehe.  Can't force passion.

So will I someday lead a yoga class of my very own?  Only time will tell, but if it is meant to be, it will be.  :)

Oh, and I just finished my 40 days of yoga!  I feel so great, both mentally and physically, why would I stop?

February 06, 2015

Be still

This blog is my little space in our big world.  It is my baby book for my kids, my photo album, and a place where I can look back and remember who I was, and how I thought.  It is a place for me to remember my experiences, and relive them.  It is a place to connect with my friends and family.

Here is one of those new experiences that I always want to remember.

I will start off by saying that I have never meditated in its traditional definition.  Yoga is a moving meditation, but I've never done the "sit cross-legged, focus on nothing" kind of meditation.  My cousin told me about Common Ground Meditation Center, a place she went to meditate.  I was intrigued.  I asked my friend, Kelly if she would like to go with me.  (Of course I knew she would.  That's why I love her.  She is always up for anything, and interested in the same things I am.)  She recently started a meditation practice, but had never been to a group setting.

We walked in, took off our boots, hung up our jackets, and headed into the room.  It was packed!  There were chairs around the outside of the room, and pillows on the floor in the middle.  We headed to the center.  If we were going to do this, we were going to do it.  ;)  It was a Zen-like room.  An altar with Buddha, hardwood floors, with black floor pillows, and small windows all around.  It was set up as a half-circle facing the meditation leader, Mark.  My first impression was how it kind of felt like church. 

This is the meditation room.  The pillows were set up like this, but there were a lot more.  There were also chairs all around the rest of the room.

There were young people, older people, couples, friends, but mostly people by themselves.  There were hippies.  Lots of them.  There were beards and braids (and unwashed hair).  I did a lot of looking around, taking it all in.  (As I always do.)  Even though it was our first time here, we never felt out of place.

Suddenly it got quiet.  As I looked around, people were shutting their eyes, so I followed.  Mark walked in, and took his place in the front.  It was silent for several minutes.  Then he started the 30 minute guided meditation.  He talked about focusing on the breath, the inhale, the exhale.  He talked about finding a place in our body that felt calm, and focusing on that.

It was hard.  Like really, really hard.  Especially as women and/or mothers, our mind is a constant to-do list.  We are always thinking of the next step, the next day, the next week.  Turning that off in an instant is a difficult task.  I tried my hardest.  When a thought crept up, I pushed it aside.  My back ached.  I thought about how it hurt to sit so straight.  I have a long torso.  I can slouch a bit.  (Yes, those were some of the thoughts moving through my head.  In talking with Kelly after, she experienced the same.)  Ding, Ding, Ding.  A little bell or chime rang a few times, and everyone started to move in their seats, or stand and stretch. 

The next hour or so Mark lead a talk.  I don't want to sum up in words what he discussed, because I wouldn't do it justice.  It was amazing.  I love things that give me something to think about, and this 1 hour talk and discussion was more than my little brain could wrap itself around.  It was a spiritual awakening that people experience in whatever their religion of choice is.  Although I don't see this as a religion, but more of a mind and body connection and awareness.

I felt like the discussion was directed at me.  He talked about how we are often looking toward the next pleasurable experience.  I am going to yoga at 7, or I can't wait to get home, curl up on the couch with my show and popcorn.  (Yes, he actually said popcorn, which is my current addiction.)  In doing so, we are taking away from the experience of the present moment.  The situation we are fantasizing about in our mind will now never be able to live up to the hype that you've created for it.  So you've not only taken away from the present moment, but also the event you are so looking forward to.

Wow, it was amazing.  Kelly agreed.  We want to go back as often as possible.  The best part is, this place is 1 mile from my house...and free!  You can donate, but there is no cost.

"This is my kind of church," Kelly said to me.  "Totally agree," I responded.


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