My Meeting with the Nutritionist and the Secret to Losing Weight

weightscale

I’ve been trying to lose a few pounds on my own now for about a month. I’ve been eating about 1400 calories a day and I’m pretty active. But the scale barely moves. I decided I needed professional help.

I met with the nutritionist at my doctor’s office. She is a young girl, slight of build, pretty. I can imagine how many women meet her for the first time and think “how is THIS skinny little thing going to understand my weight problem”.

Continue reading “My Meeting with the Nutritionist and the Secret to Losing Weight”

The Past Year: What Worked, What Didn’t

 

 

I’m always up for trying new things.  And those things usually involve my health in some way.  Be it trying new healthy recipes, herbs/supplements/diets or lifestyle changes, I want to be the best person I can be.  If I’m the healthiest I can be, that’s a good start.

Over the past year I’ve blogged about many of my adventures.  In the long run, some worked and some not so much.  Here’s what I’ve found.

Lemon Water – I blogged about this in Sept 2012.  The purported benefits of drinking water infused with lemon juice include weight loss, improved digestion, boosts immune system, balances pH (reduces acidity in your body), clears your skin, acts as a diuretic, relieves respiratory problems, freshens breath, reduces stress, helps kick the coffee habit, hydrates the lymph system, boosts energy, flushes toxins from your liver and kidneys, suppresses appetite, reduces cellulite (because it increases blood flow to the skin and helps your body flush out waste), boosts your body’s ability to metabolize fat, and lowers your risk for heart disease, strokes, cataracts and gout because of the high amount of vitamin C.  If drinking lemon water allowed me even one or two of these benefits, I had to try it.  A year later, I still like it.  I went off the wagon for a few weeks.  Got lazy I guess.  But I found that I actually look forward to my lemon water in the morning.  The idea is to drink it first thing upon waking, and not put anything else into your stomach for at least half an hour.  Easy enough.  I bought a pitcher which has an infuser attachment.  I chop up a peeled lemon (organic if possible) and put it in my infuser pitcher with filtered water.  It lasts a week (adding more water as needed).  Even throughout the day, I find I grab the lemon water pitcher before I grab my iced green tea if I want a quick drink.  If nothing else, this means I’m consuming less sugar.  And I seem to make better food choices throughout the day when I’m ‘on’ the lemon water.  Whether the benefits are psychological or physical, the lemon water thing gets an A+.

Juicing – I don’t think I’ve blogged about this yet.  This past summer, I bought a Vitamix.  I know I need to get more fresh fruits and veggies into my diet and, opting for the method of least resistance, thought “why not smash them up and drink them”?  My intentions were good.  And the Vitamix is awesome.  It even makes hot soup!  But back to my point.  I went to the farmers market and stocked up on lots of fresh fruit (berries and bananas mostly).  I also ‘bravely’ added kale, carrots (which I hate) and chia to my morning smoothies.  However, I was overly ambitious.  Using my American ‘the bigger the better’ mindset, I would juice a LOT of fruit and wind up with 30-40 ounces, which I would drink down throughout the morning.  This lead to a very bloated belly.  And too much sugar.  Being the blonde that I am, it took me a month to figure out that while my intentions were good, my methodology sucked.  So I stopped juicing.  Also bad.  Now that I’ve got my head out of my butt, I am going to make better juicing choices (less sugar, more veggies, smaller quantities) and see how that goes.  There is not doubt in my mind that moving to a more plant-based alkaline diet is better for the human body.  I just need to find a better way to make it work for me.

Yoga – I used to be a gym rat.  For about 5 years or so, I would be at the gym five or more days a week.  And not just to socialize.  I actually worked out.  And I liked the results.  Was I as thin as I wanted to be?  Will I EVER be?  But I did have good muscle tone which I knew was healthy.  And then I made some big changes in my personal life and wound up dropping the gym membership.  Just quit cold turkey.  In reality, my body needed a break.  And surprisingly, I didn’t gain weight.  But I lost muscle tone.  Having strong muscles is sexier (and healthier) than overall body weight in my opinion.  I needed to get it back, but was still mentally done with the gym.  Enter yoga.  If you haven’t done it before, you’ve got to try it.  There’s something for everyone, be it stretchy yoga, hot yoga, Barre yoga (which almost killed me!) or power yoga.  It works.  It can be a surprisingly difficult workout, a therapeutic muscle relaxer, a flexibility creator or a mental healer.  Yoga has so much to offer and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Try it.

Coconut Oil – I wrote about this wonder ingredient in December 2012.  One of our Facebook fans mentioned using it as a make up remover, so I tried it.  And then I read more about it and started using it daily.  Not only is it the best make up remover, but it’s a superior moisturizer and excellent cleanser.  If you missed my December blog article, go back and check it out for details.  I will never go another day without using coconut oil. 

Massage – I don’t think I wrote about this either, but it’s something I firmly believe in.  Now I’m weird.  We’ve probably already established that.  But one of my quirks is that I don’t like people touching me.  Between that and having had my back broken in a car accident when I was 19, you might say I’m NOT a good candidate for massage.  The trick to is finding out what works best for you.  Studies have found that massage can benefit the following disorders: 

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often involves caring, comfort, a sense of empowerment and creating deep connections with the individual performing the massage.  If you are looking to strengthen your intimate relationship, I highly suggest massage.  You don’t have to go to school and become a massage therapist to make this work.  Pick up a book, or go on line to learn about a handful of techniques, and go from there.  I personally like using a massage bar instead of massage oil because it’s moisturizing, not messy and allows the hands to flow more easily along the body.  Honeybee will be coming out with our own massage bar very soon.  But you don’t need anything other than a comfortable quiet space, time and patience.  Give and receive.  Even if it’s just 15 minutes with your partner (or try self massage) before you go to sleep.  The physical and psychological benefits are amazing. 

Reducing Sugar and Dairy – This is a daily struggle, but one I truly believe in for overall health.  Sugar seems to be in EVERYTHING from the obvious coffee additive to the seemingly harmless banana.  Recognizing all the sources of sugar in your diet is step one.  Step two is either eliminating or finding substitutions.  And sugar is incredibly addictive: The more you eat, the more addictive it becomes.  Studies show that all the sugar in our diets either directly or indirectly contributes to diseases like osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.  I am NOT a fan of sugar substitutes in any form (xylitol, stevia, etc.)  There are articles on line you can read about recognizing sugar in foods (especially hidden sugar) and steps you can take to reduce it in your diet.  Same goes with dairy.  We are the only species that drinks another mammals milk.  That thought kind of grosses me out.    Our bodies weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. Instead, most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods: vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds and seaweed.  And let’s not forget all the  pesticides, hormones, antibiotics found in conventional milk CAN’T be good for you.  Will I give up cheese?  Nope, probably never.  But I will have very small amounts and only on the rare occasion. 

So what DIDN’T work for me over the past year?  A few things.

Dry Brushing – I wrote about this in January of this year.  Dry brushing is supposed to have several benefits, but I couldn’t find hard scientific evidence to back any of them up.  At least it will exfoliate your skin, if nothing else.  I have a dry brush.  I do it occasionally (more so in winter when my skin is ugly and dry).  But getting my butt into the shower in the morning is difficult enough.  Stopping to dry brush my entire body first just isn’t going to happen on most days.

Oil Pulling – I wrote about this unusual practice in April of this year.  I had read a few articles about it and again found a myriad of conditions is was supposed to help from arthritis to PMS.  It involves swishing oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes or so, and spitting it out.  The oil is supposed to ‘pull’ the toxins from your body.  Again, I didn’t find a whole lot of good scientific evidence to back up the claims.  And as with dry brushing, I don’t have the patience or energy to deal with this first thing in the morning. 

Dark Chocolate – I experimented with dark chocolate because 1) I love it, and 2) like everything else, it’s supposed to cure almost anything.  What I was really hoping is that it would cure my sweet tooth.  I thought if I could eat a small square of dark chocolate a day, I would eliminate my desire for sweets forever.  It didn’t quite work out that way.  While I still LOVE dark chocolate and think it’s a healthier alternative than having a donut, I don’t think it will ever be found as a cure for cancer, nor will it ever keep me from still craving a slice of cake. 

Tanning – I’ll admit it.  I tanned.  For around two years, about once or twice a week.  My husband convinced me that I looked better tan.  I was also convinced that cellulite would be less noticeable if my skin was darker.  Being naturally fair-skinned and therefore more susceptible to skin cancer, fast-forward three years and five skin cancer biopsies (two basal cell carcinomas).  Not to mention that it aged my skin incredibly.  I regret having done it.  Did I like the way I looked when tan?  Yes.  Is the skin damage worth it?  No.  Will I avoid the sun completely?  Nope.  But I will wear sunscreen, still tan naturally, but never burn.  I could use self tanners I suppose, but don’t have the patience to slather my body with something every day (not to mention the ingredients some self tanners contain).  So I will be pale most of the year.  Deal with it. 

How To Re-Grow Your Groceries (unless you have cats)

I’m going to eat healthier (how many times have I said THAT)? But this time, I’m going all out (well, my version of all out). I’ve committed to making 80% of my diet raw and vegan. Which means a lot of fruit smoothies and salads. And I want my produce to be organic, but organic can be pricey. So I decided to save a few bucks and re-grow my own.

The idea of re-growing groceries almost sounds too good to be true, so I had to see for myself if it was really possible. I had just cut up a head of romaine lettuce, but I reserved the very bottom (the “heart”). I read on line that all you had to do was place it in a pan of water and with a little time, it will eventually sprout a whole new head of lettuce, ready to harvest, eat, and repeat the process.

So I stuck the heart in a glass of water and placed it on my kitchen windowsill. For about two days, there was nothing. Then on the third day, I noticed some growth. Within a week I had several 2-3” leaves sprouting from my romaine stump. I changed the water every day (the stump gets slimy and a bit icky), excited about my little science project. Then early into the second week, I woke up and went downstairs to feed the screaming cats (they have dry food available all the time but act like they’ve been starved for weeks until I give them their portion of canned food). When I went to the sink to refill their water bowls, I noticed an empty glass on the windowsill. Half way across the kitchen, I saw the wilted sorry remains of my lettuce project. One of the feline brats must have snatched it up in the middle of the night and used it as a cat toy. I tried to resuscitate it, lovingly placing it back into its glass of water. But it never recovered. The lettuce was no more.

I plan on trying the process again, but need to find a place where the four-legged bandits won’t get to it. Incidentally, you can also re-grow green onions, ginger, celery, pineapples, potatoes and sweet potatoes. You can find how to articles and videos on line. Some stuff re-grows quickly (like celery and lettuce). Others, like pineapples, can take2-3 years to produce fruit. And if you live in a warmer climate, you can plant your re-grow projects right in the ground. Makes sense. Instead of throwing onion stumps and lettuce hearts onto the compost pile, why not bury them and watch them grow again? Just be sure to protect them from the deer and the groundhogs and the rabbits……

Spring Cleaning, Naturally



Sure commercial, chemical-based cleaning products are convenient, but at what cost? The American Association of Poison Control Centers recorded many exposures to household cleaning substances were serious enough to require treatment in a health care facility. Testing of 20 top cleaning products commissioned by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) for the report Dirty Secrets revealed hidden toxic chemicals such as toluene, 1,4-dioxane, phthalates, chloroform, a synthetic musk and several known allergens. Because cleaning product companies are not required to disclose ingredients, consumers have no way to know that these chemicals are lurking in products they buy and use in their homes. In the US, 1 in 3 people suffer from allergies, asthma, sinusitis or bronchitis (US National Center for Health Statistics). Treatment for these conditions should include reducing synthetic chemicals in the home environment.

There are many inexpensive, easy-to-use natural alternatives which can safely be used in place of commercial household products. Here is a list of common, environmentally safe products which can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications.

Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.

Soap – unscented NATURAL soap or castille in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything.

Lemon – one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.

Borax – (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors. Is borax safe? Borax is considered a mild skin irritant similar to baking soda. The MSDS lists borax as a health hazard of 1, similar to salt and baking soda. A health concern with borax is with its potential to disrupt the reproductive system. Studies have not been done in humans regarding this; however, potential reproductive issues in mice are suspected from high levels of ingested borax. Use of borax for home cleaning formulas, where no borax is ingested, has not been shown to pose health hazards. Borax is a natural substance which is non-carcinogenic, does not accumulate in the body, or absorb through the skin. It is not harmful to the environment.

White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.

Cornstarch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.

Salt – scrubbing. Thick kosher salt gives power to your elbow grease. To clean stubborn soap scum, combine baking soda and kosher salt and scrub.

Hydrogen Peroxide – disinfecting, removing stains. Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful disinfectant. To kill mildew, combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to create a paste, put on mildew and allow to sit for a few minutes before wiping away.

There are other healthy habits you can institute which will keep your home clean and free of toxins:

Exchange Indoor Air

Many modern homes are so tight there’s little new air coming in. Open the windows from time to time or run any installed exhaust fans. In cold weather, the most efficient way to exchange room air is to open the room wide – windows and doors, and let fresh air in quickly for about 5 minutes. The furnishings in the room, and the walls, act as ‘heat sinks’, and by exchanging air quickly, this heat is retained.

Minimize Dust

Remove clutter which collects dust, such as old newspapers and magazines. Try to initiate a ‘no-shoes-indoors’ policy. If you’re building or remodelling a home, consider a central vacuum system; this eliminates the fine dust which portable vacuum cleaners recirculate.

Use Cellulose Sponges

Most household sponges are made of polyester or plastic which are slow to break down in landfills, and many are treated with triclosan, a chemical that can produce chloroform (a suspected carcinogen) when it interacts with the chlorine found in tap water. Instead try cellulose sponges, available at natural foods stores, which are biodegradable and will soak up spills faster since they’re naturally more absorbent.

Keep Bedrooms Clean

Most time at home is spent in the bedrooms. Keep pets out of these rooms, especially if they spend time outdoors.

Use Gentle Cleaning Products

Of the various commercial home cleaning products, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and oven cleaners are the most toxic. Use the formulas described above or purchase ‘green’ commercial alternatives. Avoid products containing ammonia or chlorine, or petroleum-based chemicals; these contribute to respiratory irritation, headaches and other complaints.

Clean from the Top Down

When house cleaning, save the floor or carpet for last. Clean window blinds and shelves first and then work downwards. Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.

And let’s not forget how expensive cleaning products can be. Why buy them when you can make SAFER products for just pennies using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen? For some great natural cleaning recipes, check out our “Spring” board on Pinterest.

Valentine’s Day….Honeybee Style! (much better than Gangnam Style)



Valentine’s Day is tied for my favorite holiday! My other favorite holiday is Halloween (because you can dress up and be anyone you want that day and no one thinks it’s weird).

I was born four hours shy of Valentine’s Day. But for the first 19 years of my life, my mom made a big deal about it by getting me a heart-shaped cake, heart-shaped treats, etc. And I loved it. I miss her.

As an adult, Valentine’s Day is still very special to me (and not just because it’s so close to my birthday). It’s a great day to take some time out to let another person know just how much they mean to you. I’m not talking the traditional jewelry, flowers and perfume thing (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But do something personal and special for the one you love. And you can do it for little or no money at all. Here are some suggestions:

1. A personal note. Don’t let Hallmark tell your loved one how you feel. Put it in your own words. It means so much more. Feeling crafty? Make your own Valentine’s Day card. You can download Valentine’s fonts for free and even print free cards, but add your own sentiments. Check out our Valentine’s Board on Pinterest for links.

2. Dinner. It’s impossible to get dinner reservations on Valentine’s Day. That’s one of the bad things about having a birthday so close to a holiday. So, why not cook TOGETHER at home? You can make a meal that’s healthier, less expensive AND get exactly what you want. We posted a link to some great recipes from The Food Network on our Pinterest Valentine’s Board.

3. Bath Time! There are few things more romantic than taking a bath together. Don’t have a tub? Improvise – take a shower! But really, the bath tub is more relaxing. Light some natural candles, turn off all the lights, fill the tub with some wonderful bath salts or natural bubble bath gel. Use a homemade sugar scrub. And have a large cup or pitcher nearby. Nothing feels better than having warm water poured gently over your body by someone who loves you – try it! And guys, shampoo her hair. AND give her a scalp massage in the process. She will melt. Find sugar scrub recipes, bath salt recipes and other bath time ideas on our Pinterest page.

4. Ahhhh massage. Nothing feels better than a massage AFTER a romantic bath. Your muscles are loose from the warm water and you’re all nice and clean (i.e. you won’t be rubbing stinky feet). I’m personally a fan of massage bars. They’re less messy than massage oils. We posted a wonderful step-by-step guide on how to give a killer massage on our Pinterest page. We also posted recipes for creating your own massage bar.

5. Sleepy time…or whatever. “Clean Sheet Night” is always the best night in my opinion. I swear I sleep better on clean sheets. Some folks like to have scent in the bedroom too. I’m not a big fan of that, but if you’re into it, use a light bulb ring with some essential oil, or a Scentsy burner with meltable natural wax you can make yourself (recipes on – you guessed it – our Pinterest page!) What I AM a big fan of is soft, snuggly blankets! I hate being cold. And in Pennsylvania it gets COLD this time of year. Not Minnesota cold, but still too cold for me. So wrap her in clean sheets, warm snuggly blankets and a warm, clean massaged YOU.

Don’t forget to check out our Valentine’s Board on Pinterest for more recipes and great ideas:

What are YOUR favorite things to do on Valentine’s Day?