Paleo | Gluten Free | Strong Mind

I haven’t been blogging a ton lately. I’ve really been focusing on Me. Nearly eight weeks ago I began what I called a detox cleanse. I reset. I was dying inside for something new. I was sluggish, in a very bad state of mind. I’m constantly wanting a change, a big change. I’ve been obsessing about our family relocating to a new city and searching for jobs and houses. I’ve just been all over the place emotionally. And I was feeling fat. I was fat. I never really lost all of my “baby weight” and there I was two years after having Jack. It’s hard to look in the mirror every day and think “so I guess this is just what I look like now;” and almost surrender to that. I hated that feeling.

I started that cleanse with determination. I needed something new. I followed the guidelines, I shopped the pre-set grocery lists and ate the meals, falling in love with every bite. I did keep snacking because I had that bad habit as part of my daily ritual. I barely lost a pound in the first week. But then the second week we weren’t supposed to snack. We could eat big meals, until we felt satisfied, but no grazing! I took that rule seriously and stopped. Then, the pounds started coming off. Seeing results only made me feel more determined. I would eat a large meal yes. And then in between for the longest time my brain would say “feed me” but I wasn’t actually hungry. It took many many weeks to re-train my brain to not want to snack. But it really worked! Now, I eat three meals a day, and that is it. Occasionally if one of the meals is small, I’ll make myself a smoothie to tie myself over (usually almond milk, banana, peanut butter, flax seeds  and ice cubes — so yummy, it’s like a milkshake.) So now, almost eight weeks in, I’ve lost nine pounds which is thrilling! I feel fantastic. I feel happy inside! I have more energy and I’m sleeping better at night. I’ve retrained myself to eat less and to eat earlier (I used to eat at 10pm!!!). I’d love to lose more weight which I think would be better attained through more exercise. I’ve just never worshiped running or going to the gym. I never found the “zone” that other people talk about. I do attend yoga classes in a studio near my house or use the website YogaGlo when I can’t get away. My goal is to develop a better routine and with exercise, I’m quite certain I’ll be on top of the world. One thing at a time though.

The diet I’m loosely following is the Paleo diet. Don’t worry, I am not going to preach the Paleo mindset, because I haven’t really read about the whole hunters and gathers thing. Essentially I don’t eat dairy, gluten or sugar. The only oils I consume are Olive, flaxseed, avocado, and coconut. I do still eat the occasional potato and corn however, neither of which are allowed on Paleo. At this stage, I can’t argue the theories for or against it. All I can say is, I feel really good. I am happy, I have energy and I am nine pounds lighter!

Eating anywhere outside the house is hard at first. There is sugar in everything. There is soy in everything. There is canola oil, soybean oil, and corn oil in everything! These are cheap cheap cheap ingredients that are fillers. Even my beloved Trader Joe’s has tons of those ingredients in most of their packaged food. The hardest part of this diet is that you will be in the kitchen a lot more. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I generally didn’t feel like I had the time to cook. Well, I’ve had to make cooking a priority because I’m so invested in this lifestyle change. For me, the only way to be successful is to have a menu planned in advance. You have to have food on hand. I’ve re-used my Reinvent-21 recipes tons of times. I also bought the Winning at the Kitchen cookbook by the same nutritionist I did the initial cleanse from. I still love Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good cookbook. And now I scour Paleo blogs for recipe ideas. Nom Nom Paleo and Paleo Grubs are my new favorites.

Going forward, I feel like I’ve come so far that I imagine introducing any of those items back in to my life. I do still crave sweets. But there are a ton of crazy-delicious desserts you can make with coconut or almond flour and honey or maple syrup. As a double chocolate-chocoholic, believe me, I was skeptical at first too. Have you seen my lemon blueberry cake with icing on top? Another good one is this Paleo brownie recipe. Gahh, they’re so good I’ve made ’em twice! The other day I was craving some thick and creamy Greek yogurt, so I allowed myself to have a small bowl. Other than that, I don’t want to eat slices of cheese or sandwich bread. Those habits have gone away. And the alternative is clean, nutrient rich, whole foods that fill me up, give me energy and a happy outlook on life!


Easter in the Sun

Easter is my mom’s favorite holiday. Actually Easter and Thanksgiving are her favorites. So for the most part, it’s a lock that we’re heading over to mom’s house. She’s got the best yard with tons of space to lounge or run around. It’s your pick really. It was my sister’s last day in town before heading back to her motherland (France) and we were blessed with a gorgeous day, a day we wished we had in Ocracoke (see below). Naturally we had a big Easter egg hunt for Jack and and we took about a million pictures trying to mark the day when the whole family was together. My sister promises she’ll be back for Thanksgiving which will give us all something to look forward to. Until then I suppose. Hope you had a lovely day!

From the archives:
Easter 2013 with the Fam
Jack’s first Easter

Spring Breakin’ on Ocracoke Island, OBX

Have you ever been to Ocracoke Island before? Strike that, have you ever heard of Ocracoke Island? It’s the last, most southern island within the Outer Banks, which is off the coast of North Carolina. My folks have been going there during spring break for the last 15 or so years. This year, the was extra special, the entire family – my sis and her husband, my brother and his girlfriend, Daryle, Jack and I all came under one roof of a grandiose rental on an inlet. Some serious relaxing and family time was had.

Ocracoke is a special place, it’s unlike your typical beach town as it doesn’t have all the surf shops and fast food restaurants that I’ve grown accustomed to. Oh no. Instead it’s a quiet place with only one stop light on the entire island. You can ride your bike from corner to corner in less time than it would take for you to even begin to feel winded. (It’s small.) Most roads are still unpaved, so you can hear that wonderful crackling sound of rocks beneath your shoes. There are a handful of unique shops selling local and/or unusual finds. I bought myself a beautiful hammered gold ring, from Secret Garden. I also couldn’t live without a charmingly sweet hand knit zebra stuffed animal that was all the way from Kenya at the shop Over the Moon. The island is so small and hidden, these shops don’t even have websites. They rely on people meandering down a dirt path to keep them afloat. There are also probably about eight or so restaurants to choose from running the gamut of a beachy watering hole like Howard’s Pub, a staple to the island; to The Flying Melon which offers a more refined selection of local seafood and ambiance.

Visiting during spring break, the weather is always iffy. We pray for warm sun and which only sometimes we actually get. In fact, it was way colder in Ocracoke than it was in DC. And since it’s an island it was windy too. We got two days of good weather and we spent them entirely outside. The men surf fished at the beach while the gals chitchatted and built sand castles with Jack and his two adorable cousins. The other day of warmth, the men (again) went clamming in the bay and unearthed 10 dozen fresh clams! Yes we spent the week enjoying chowder, clams casino, and steamed clams, plus an ice filled cooler full to bring home.

Ocracoke has become a place of stability. We go and live our lives, we grow a little older, we have new experiences. I’ve changed so much since the last time I was there. I’m married and have a young child. And whenever I go back, it hasn’t aged a bit. It’s waiting for me with open arms. The locals are sweet, the coffee from Ocracoke Coffee tastes just the same, and sunsets never unimpress.

Spring Style – Black is the new Black

I bounce between admitting that I need to wear more color, and then come to my senses and say plain and simply: I love black. I feel confident in it. And with the exception of a spring, summer (or even fall) wedding, it pretty much works for all occasions. Do you agree? Lately I’ve been complimenting friends on various outfits and you know what the reply is? H&M! Yes, my old standby when I worked across the street from one. Over the years I’ve stopped shopping there because it’s just not right under my nose. But that said, it’s just SO cheap and SO cute, I ordered myself a big ole shipment of the stuff above. Am I too old to wear a kitten across my chest? Be honest!

Here’s the goods: J’aime tank; slim fit pants; eagle earrings; black-n-gold earrings; grey with black sleeves sweatshirt; fringy purse; kitten tank; lace bra; twill skirt; zebra loafers

Magnetic Wallpaper for your Kids’ Room

I love how sometimes little boys are total boys and little girls are total girls. Jack is obsessed with trucks, buses, and dinosaurs. It has nothing to do with me either. He’s just drawn to them. Then because he shows interest in these boy-ish things, I love encouraging him to learn more about them. It’s so cute how I have friends with girls who love walking around holding a baby doll, or playing dress-up with a scarf and purse.

I stumbled upon the coolest invention, magnetic wallpaper. It’s achieved by first lining the wall with a magnetic receptive, then pasting the wallpaper on top. I can just imagine Jack’s reaction of a big “WOW!” if he had this in his room. There are also other beautiful kid-centric designs of whimsical settings, some magnet and some not at the London shop Sian Zeng.

Thanks Est Magazine for the inspiration.

St. Patrick’s Day in DC, sans beer, ha

And a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! These photos were taken hours before yet another snow storm hit DC. Sheesh, I remember the days when I’d long to see just 10 minutes of flurries, hoping for an excuse to lounge around the house and bake cookies or something. But oh, not any longer. I’m sick of it. It’s not even pretty to me anymore, it’s depressing. Come on spring, for the love of god!

So anyway, we had a super fun Sunday afternoon and headed downtown to see The District’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade along Constitution Ave. Oh what fun it was. Unlike last year, Jack is big enough to stand on his own and even sort of listens when we command him to please stay on the sidewalk. We were nestled with a view of the Capitol in front of us and the Monument behind us, so I was keen on taking pictures of every float with the perfect backdrop — which I won’t bore you with. I am forever a sucker for marching bands. I love listening to the go-go drum sets and stand there marching in place to the beat. Reminds me of my days in band way back when. Jack even loved it too, which made me swoon!

Hope you have a fun St. Paddy’s Day. Have a Guinness or something for me! I’m still detoxing, and you know what? I feel great! Who knows, maybe I’ll turn into a crazy nutrition obsessed household chef. We shall see. In the meantime, Sláinte!

From the archives: See how much Jack has changed. Saint Patrick’s Day last year.

The Detox has begun

It’s official, I started the Reinvent 21 cleanse and so far, so good. I’ll preface this by admitting when I signed up for the cleanse, I was so sick of myself, my lack of energy, and the number on the scale that I wanted to start immediately!!! I can be an impatient person so I cracked open the pristine hardback of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook/lifestyle book called It’s All Good and read through her week-long detox diet plan. I sat down one afternoon and wrote down every ingredient I needed to get through the week. Gwyneth’s philosophy is quite similar to the Reinvent challenge where you cut out dairy, sugar, gluten, and caffeine. But like all of Gwyneth’s critics, a lot of her ingredients are things I had never heard of, which left me googling everything on the fly. That said, with one trip to Whole Pay Check Foods, I bought everything on my grocery list for $150. To be honest, I didn’t find that price all that shocking since I would probably spend about that amount on a normal shopping trip to Whole Foods (which is why I prefer Trader Joe’s — my second home.) For the two weeks prior to Reinvent 21 which started four days ago on Sunday, I had been cutting down on gluten, sugar and dairy, but I was still drinking double my weight in calories of coffee and red wineeeeeee.

Now that the official cleanse that I paid good money for has started, I strangely feel OK. Last week I suffered through a headache for a couple days, from lack of gluten and sugar, but now that the I’m detoxing for real, and I have had no coffee or wine, no sugar whatsoever, zero gluten and dairy, I feel for the most part, good. Not great though. I believe in my heart that it will come. At the moment my mood is more even, I have less stressful bursts causing my mood to spike.

Has it been hard for me? Well, I’ve discovered in order for me to successfully diet or “cleanse” (being the new word for “diet”), I needed to be at my wits end. Like, I was in dire need of a change. For me, dieting doesn’t work without a concrete plan. The secret of what I’ve found is I have to go grocery shopping for the week with meal plans in mind. Winging it does not work (at least for me). I have the best intentions and then I crash within 48 hours because I’ll be out of ideas and sick of salads with avocado and nuts. Gwyneth’s cookbook and the Reinvent challenge provide you with meal plans, both of which taste freaking good. Again, Gwyneth’s recipes are more technical though. The Reinvent’s recipes are geared to be more easily attainable.

The hardest day for me was Monday night (day two) when I watched the finale of The Bachelor. Usually I would be half in the bag as I watched the DVR’d portion of that silly, trashy, television show. Without my wine-o, it was a challenge to get through. Plus Juan Pablo is such an a-hole. I’ll leave it at that. [grin]

What’s still hard for me? Well, I have a big un-lady-like appetite. I like to eat! The meals are absolutely delicious in Reinvent 21 and It’s All Good, but sometimes I need to stop myself from eating too much! Though I’m hoping that things will level off. Even though I may have a big appetite, at least I’m not eating a big bowl of pasta with tons of parmesan cheese. The other thing I do tend to eat a lot of is meat. We are a meat eating house! And I’d like to cut it way back. The last portion of the Reinvent cleanse is to cut out meat entirely (though eggs are technically still allowed), meaning I’ll practically be a vegan. All of this is rather exciting to me. At least I say that from the fourth day of the cleanse.

What’s been surprising? I feel fine not having my wine. I still wake up and crave a jolt of coffee, but I don’t have a headache or anything. I just want to succeed. I love how I’m not craving dairy at all! It used to be a staple. Now I see the the leftover cheese in my fridge and it just doesn’t look appetizing. I know it’s going to weigh me down. I can’t believe I’m writing that! Gluten isn’t that hard either since there are so many grains that are gluten free. I’m learning that there are tons of other ways to get protein and calcium by replacing them with lots of leafy greens, nuts, seeds in combinations that are actually good. So far I’ve lost three pounds which makes me feel even more motivated. I promise to check back in about my progress soon.

Special thanks to my darling photographer friend and famous contemporary art blogger (oh dang!) Katie Hosmer for pushing me to write this post. Kisses girl!


My very first detox cleanse

Let’s talk about food: I love it. I love to eat lots of it too. And wine, oh man, tons of it. Red to be exact. And sweets? Yeah, they’re just about the best thing in the world, well second to wine. And all of those things make me happy in the moment and then make me feel pretty bad after consumption. Food is a popular topic and I’ve certainly jumped on the health bandwagon when it’s convenient for me. I buy organic when I can and try to eat grass fed and/or free roaming meats. And frankly our food industry does terrify me. I do believe the articles that tell us how terrible it is to eat packaged food with high-fructose corn syrup, transfat, and other cheap oils like soy and corn are for our health. That additives like sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate, and the various other items that you can’t pronounce on food labels are either cancer causers, cause hyper-activity in children or just add to obesity (which leads to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America). Yeah good times. I do believe all of that. But sometimes I slip (never on transfat though!), especially in this doozy of a winter when I cruise the frozen aisle in Trader Joe’s and pick up their delicious high in sodium package meals and down them entirely.

I’m only confessing all of this because this blog is an outlet for me. If I say it publicly I’ll be more likely to keep it up. Here goes: I’m going to embark on a 21 day cleanse. I’ve been following nutritionist Michelle Pfennighaus for awhile and love her positive nature, her easy tips about healthful eating, and tricks to help keep her clients feeling full and even put their sweet tooth in check. Michelle is launching what she calls the “Reinvent 21” — a guided cleanse where she supplies the grocery list and meal plan for you to follow day-by-day. The cleanse consists of real foods (no juices or drinking lemon water with cayenne pepper!), but you will cut out sugar, white flour, caffeine, and dairy. I’ve been interested in cutting out those items for awhile, but haven’t had the willpower to do it myself. My thought is that by enrolling in a guided cleanse, I’ll be on the hook for following through (plus I already paypal’ed her the money). Michelle claims that by following the rules of her “Reinvent” program, we will have more energy, better digestion, and the skills to eat more consciously going forward. Plus secretly I’d love to shave off 5lbs. So there it is.

The program starts March 9th — the first day of Day Light Savings. While I secretly wish it was starting tomorrow, I think the time change and new diet will help me renew my mind and body through a more healthful way of living. Until then, well um, cheers!

Photo found here.

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