Label Free Life

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I’m still here. Still plugging along and still thriving in the Label Free Lifestyle. I’m still loving working out at RDV and even more, loving this awesome fall weather! The night blooming jasmine is smelling up the neighborhood.  I have increased its reach into my bedroom by sleeping with the windows open and, boy is it awesome.

The past two weeks have been frustrating regarding my workout schedule, though. Too many unavoidable things have popped up preventing me from being consistent. This week isn’t any better, but I am determined to make next week flawless regarding my exercise. I had a substitute Deep Water Aerobics instructor last Monday.  I recognized her instantly as the instructor who nearly killed me in my very first Deep Water Aerobics class last year.  Seeing her there on the edge of the pool instantly struck fear into my heart and the memory of how she showed ow difficult water aerobics could be.  She remembered me, too… with an evil grin.  I still don’t know if that’s good or not.  I do know I felt like a contestant on The Biggest Loser during the “Last Chance Workout” by the time the class was over. LOVE those tough, feeling like I accomplished something worthwhile classes!

Another one of life’s joys is friends you don’t see for a long time but with whom you can pick up right where you left off enjoying each others’ company. I had the pleasure of such a reunion last night.

Pam and her mother traveled from North Carolina to visit family.   When they decided to come, Pam asked if I would have time to visit while she’s here. But, of course I would have time for Pam! We decided to meet at Joe’s Crab Shack  in Sanford. It had been about four years since I’d seen Pam and I noticed right away that she had lost quite a bit of weight.  Her cheeks were healthy and rosy looking and she looked younger to me.

As we were chatting and catching up on old times, old friends, our doggies and the exciting times we live in, I asked her about her remarkable weight loss. She said that the chiropractor she works for is a Crossfit enthusiast and had been helping her. I knew right away what kind of lifestyle she had switched to. Can you guess?

She had read the fabulous Dr. Richard Bernstein’s book, “The Diabetes Solution”, Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution” and is an avid follower of Robb’s blog and Mark’s Daily Apple. She’s lost 40+ pounds and is now at her ideal weight . Her blood sugars are stable, her cholesterol is now near perfect and she is no longer on insulin or suffering from the many complications that accompanied her diabetes. Pam does not belong to Crossfit but does love her water aerobics. One more thing we newly have in common!

What a wonderful serendipity!


Written by Sonya

October 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Diet, Exercise

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What I’ve Learned in 30 Days

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So, we finished our office Whole 9 30 Day Challenge on Tuesday.  I lost a whopping 4.5 pounds. Yes, I’m disappointed but I am working out, lifting heavy things and walking the Vixenator every night so the scale is not the end all and be all of what’s going on with my body shape and size. Besides, this experience was about way more than the scale and boy, did it pay off in spades. The biggest being that I can now call myself a non-smoker!

In no particular order – some things I learned or experienced during this time:

  • I can *gasp* live without (and actually enjoy) a diet totally free of sweeteners (artificial or not) – which aren’t good for you anyway .
  • Tazo Wild Sweet Orange herbal tea is da bomb!  Thanks to the blogger who introduced us to it and sorry we forgot who that is.
  • Quitting smoking SUCKS!! REALLY SUCKS!! Even though I know it’s worth it.
  • Alcohol really doesn’t make you sleep better.
  • A really good night’s sleep on a regular basis can do wonders for body and soul!
  • Melissa has a really cool blog with lots of great recipes. (The Clothes Make the Girl)
  • My acne has cleared up.
  • My bra size has gone down.
  • There is something odd going on internally as I am usually one of the hottest people (temperature not looks) in the office. I vehemently defend the cryogenic temperature of our office. Not anymore, I’ve joined the ranks of co-workers who sport a jacket, sweater or parka during working hours.
  • I think Vixen lost more weight (% wise) than I did. I did cut back on her food because she is going to be in a grooming contest in October and needs to be closer to her show weight. I didn’t reduce it that much, but girlfriend is definitely curvier.
  • I have PCOS and insulin resistance. One glorious aspect of that is these hairs that grow on my chinny chin chin. I’ve tried electrolysis but because PCOS related hair growth is hormonal they don’t guarantee the process. As well they shouldn’t or I would be asking for my money back.  I’m not sure which element of the past 30 days is the hero in this situation but my neck and chin are considerably clearer. The growth hasn’t stopped completely but it has drastically slowed.
  • My two fingers that I worried had arthritis no longer feel stiff and painful.
  • Teamwork, support and peer pressure can not be overrated. I honestly don’t know if I would have stuck it out for the Whole 30 days if it weren’t for my coworkers. We talked food, recipes, challenges, favorite blogs and everything lifestyle change related on a daily basis.  I felt obligated and compelled to stick with it – especially the quitting smoking.

So, now that it’s over what happens?

I ventured to the store to purchase some awesomely ripe tomatoes which is what I missed the most. Surprisingly I have only had one tomato and here it is three days after we completed the challenge. I guess I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I did.  I plan to go another week or so with only adding back my tomatoes and peppers before venturing down the dairy aisle. I will continue eating real, wholesome foods – foods that don’t have a label – foods that nourish my body and brain.  I’m so proud to have the earned the “I Finished” badge and so thankful to Steve for challenging all of us jump on board! This has been a great springboard into living the healthiest life I know to live.

By Leia Speia / (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Photo by Leia Speia / (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Written by Sonya

September 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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Finish Line in Sight

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by jayneandd / (CC BY 2.0)

Today is Day 25 of the Whole 9 Challenge! We are all five still hanging in there and doing great, feeling great and discussing what things we’re going to keep from this challenge in our new adventures in healthy living.

Over the long weekend I enjoyed chicken, eggs, ribs, curry, more pear infused vinegar salads and the most delicious green beans I think I’ve ever had. I even bought some wee little plants to attempt to grow in my back yard.  Fingers crossed that I don’t kill them in the first week and actually get to enjoy some of the fruit of my labors.

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time walking Vixen instead of puttering around the house and watching too much TV. While walking I’ve also enjoyed listening to my favorite podcasts, but have been sucked into listening to the lectures from the Ancestral Health Symposium.  If you are totally geeking out on the nutritional, fitness, lifestyle and balanced life information from scientists, doctors, experts and super intelligent bloggers, I highly recommend listening to all of these.

Some samples of these great speakers:

Denise Minger of Raw Food SOS

“The case against sugar(s)” by Gary Taubes, MA

“The nutrition mess. Can we fix it?” by Richard Feinman, PhD

“Heart Disease and Molecular Degeneration” by Chris Masterjohn

“Food and Western Disease” by Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD

“The Trouble with Fructose: a Darwinian Perspective” by Robert Lustig, MD

“An Organic Chemist’s Perspective on Paleo” by Mathieu Lalonde, PhD

“Great Apes and the Evolution of Human Diet” by Craig Stanford, PhD

“Heart Disease and Molecular Degeneration” by Chris Masterjohn

“Where is Darwin on dentistry? Caries & malocclusion from an evolutionary perspective” by Kevin Boyd, DDS, MS & Michael Mew, DDS

“The effects of cultural evolution on human health” by Mark Cohen, PhD

“Evolutionary bariatrics: A ‘new’ treatment approach to morbid obesity” by Vivian Shelton, PsyD

“Science for smart people” by Tom Naughton

“Wild animals, zoos, and you: The influence of habitat on health” by John Durant

And that’s not even all of them!  I understand Dr. Eenfeldt has posted his on YouTube so that you can see the slides as well as the presentation but I’ve not ventured there yet.  I still haven’t even gotten through all of these!

One more weekend as a recluse avoiding all situations that may tempt me to drink and/or smoke and then I may have to put on my big girl panties and practice holding my own!

Written by Sonya

September 8, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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Fall’s a comin’!

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It was so nice and cool this morning when I awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed. Fall is right around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited.  We are encroaching on my favorite time of the year. 

By: terratrekking / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The past few days have been very good and my menus the same (probably boring to you) meals of eggs for breakfast, Thai beef for lunch and chicken thighs for dinner.  I’ve enjoyed some fruit, too, an Asian pear – a favorite of mine, blueberries, raspberries and a pink grapefruit. A few macadamia nuts for a snack.

Whole Paycheck Foods had grass fed beef on sale for $4.99/lb yesterday only.  I didn’t find out until right before leaving for work and was afraid the store would be a mob scene or totally out of beef but was pleasantly surprised to find the butcher section well stocked and no line.  The limit was 10 lbs. per person and my friend and I both wanted 10 lbs. each.  This wouldn’t be a problem except that she and her husband were leaving right after work for the Bahamas (lucky them) so she couldn’t get her 10 lbs. The very kind butcher allowed me to buy 20 lbs. Woo Hoo!!  

Now, to find some fun, new recipes to try out with my beef. Everything I think of has tomatoes in the recipe but those will have to wait another 10 days. Yes, there are only 10 days left in our Whole 9 challenge.  We’ve made it to the finish line! While I’ve enjoyed the journey I am looking forward to adding nightshades back into my diet and I’m hoping they like me as much as I like them.

I will be enjoying this long weekend by working in the yard and cleaning up some of the clutter in the house. My office has built in bookshelves that go all the way to the ceiling.  When I got divorced my ex took most of the books and the shelves were sad and bare looking. I went on a mission to make them not look so empty and went a bit overboard. Now I’ve accumulated more books than will fit on the shelves, too many magazines I keep thinking I’ll read some day and piles of paper… where does the paper come from? It’s time to clean house and get rid of the clutter before I’m turned in for hoarding. 

Written by Sonya

September 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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Well, today is Day 15 of the Whole 9 challenge. It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through what I thought was going to be a much more difficult time.  I suppose fixing one thing on Sundays and eating it all week has contributed to the ease with which I’ve been able to manage my nutrition. I think, too, quitting smoking and giving up my wine has been more in the forefront of my mind than food.

I can say that the cravings are finally starting to diminish somewhat – not as much as I would like – but somewhat nontheless. This weekend I cleaned the Baja, washed all the pupkiss off the windows, vacuumed and topped it all off with one of them thar fancy schmancy air freshener thingies you hang on the ac vent. The Bath & Body Works excursion proved to be an awesome idea.  My house now smells like fresh cotton and the bedroom smells like lavender. I walk around inhaling deeply every where I go.

by Amelie at brooklyn to west blog

When I smoked, I would always crack the window a bit to keep the smoke out of the car and to flick my cigarette ash out as I drove. When I stopped at red lights I’d lower the window all the way down and hold my arm out the window.  Well, since quitting, I still drive with my window cracked or all the way down – well, until this morning. This morning I had the window cracked as I pulled out of the neighborhood but kept getting these little flowery whiffs of air in my nostrils. Sweet, nice smelling whiffs. I realized it was ME.  I smelled really good!  I coated my body in the new “Forever Sunshine” lotion from B&BW after my shower and thought it smelled good then but in the car it was concentrated and it smelled good. So, I did what any self-respecting non-smoker would do; I rolled up my window and breathed deeply the rest of the way into work. It was like having a bouquet of beautiful flowers on my dashboard.

Tonight is water aerobics and I love that class but tonight the “chat club” pissed me off. I won’t say they’re “old ladies” but they are older than me (in the 60’s) and they go to synagogue together, so they know each other outside of  RDV. They come in with their hair fixed just so and full makeup on.  They gather in the pool half-assed waving their arms around and chit chatting the whole class.  Nary a hair gets wet through the whole class.

I work my arse off in class. I do every exercise as hard and fast as I can. I’m there for a workout and, yes, my hair gets wet. Sometimes on purpose just to cool off. So, anyway, we were doing flutter kicks and reverse breaststrokes backwards. I caught up with the gaggle and they yelled I was going too fast.  I wanted to yell back that some of us were there to work out, not visit. GGGrrrrrr…… I just turned around and started going back the opposite direction, but geeze do they piss me off sometimes.

Food today – eggs for breakfast. Beef kebabs from Cavallari’s Deli for lunch. Not sure what I’ll have for supper. I found canned conch at the deli this weekend and bought a can. I might try my hand at making some conch fritters – Whole 9 style.

To catch up on the weekend:

Saturday – Eggs for breakfast and Shrimp kebabs for late lunch/early dinner with sweet potato fries.

Sunday – Leftover shrimp for breakfast and steak with steamed veggies for supper.

Written by Sonya

August 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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A Perfect 10

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We’ve made it to Day 10 of our Whole 9 Challenge and everyone is doing a great job! This is not hard (quitting smoking excepted) – but I think it would be nigh near impossible for me if I wasn’t doing this with a team of friends/co-workers.  This is what I’ve been wanting/trying to do on my own for years. How friggin’ exciting this is for me!

Jason has taken things to the next level.  He’s reconfigured his cube to have a standing desk.  It’s actually very cool and once he’s completely settled, worked out the bugs and gotten the process for properly implementing the station, several of us plan to follow suit. The only drawback so far is that I feel like he’s looking over my shoulder all day. The cubes aren’t very high and every time I turn around I see his forehead peeking over the wall. Can you say, “creepy!”?  Just kidding.  I’m excited to do the same sometime soon.

On another note:

I know some people snicker at the thought of water aerobics and picture a pool full of geriatric women floating around and waving their arms. Don’t be fooled, my friend!  A deep water aerobic class will kick your ass if you want it to.  It’s as hard as you make it.  Some of the moves can be done with hands in a vertical position offering less resistance than horizontal (grabbing, pushing, pulling of the water). The old ladies in my class never get their hair wet but those who do every exercise with gusto gladly dunk heads into the water to cool off – yes, you can still sweat in the pool!

Working out in the water provides 12x the resistance to doing the same movements on land without the same impact on your joints. Deep Water Aerobics consists of wearing a floatation belt that helps keep you afloat and able to move your arms and legs in the proper form without having to concentrate on only treading water. Staying upright (which the belt doesn’t necessarily do) and doing the movements requires that you engage your core while performing other resistance moves that help build muscle and tone. And… it’s all done to motivating music which drowns the sounds of scared, excited and just plain loud kiddos learning to swim in other parts of the pool area.

In my class we have started wearing these cool gloves that make our hands like duck feet which provide even more resistance. We “run” using our legs and arms to move us through the water since our feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool. My favorite is running with the breast stroke.  I can really feel the muscles in my arms and chest when we do this.  Just like on land, some people run faster than others, so if I’m coming up on someone slower than I, I can get a good workout using my legs to keep me in place while still using my arms – unless there is enough room in the pool to pass them!  My other favorites are moguls (think snow skiers on those bubbles of snow with their knees coming up on either side of their body).  We do side to side moguls and front to back moguls.  Oh, boy, oh, boy, can you feel it in your abs and arms doing those moves!

We do curls and other standard weight movements in the pool but it’s the opposite of what you might think because, instead of having heavy weights to lift, we have barbells of negative weight (different levels of barbells).  Imagine trying to hold a raft, a noodle or a balloon under water with one hand while moving it around in a determined pattern…as fast as possible.

We work our abs, back, glutes and legs in many ways, but one of my favorites is when the instructor breaks out the NOODLES!

You’ve seen kids playing with the noodles, right?  (This picture of the equipment actually looks like it could be taken at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland where I work out) Maybe you’ve played with them.  Have you ever tried to stand on one? Have you ever tried to stand on one with both feet and do a standing squat on them?  Have you ever balanced on one foot on one and then done a one legged squat?  Had two noodles and stood with one on each noodle – then done squats? Done bicep curls with a noodle? It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Water Zumba is another class I take on Tuesday nights.  It’s dancing to great music in the shallower end of the pool. I’m 5’5″ and I try to stay in the 4′-ish area of the pool. This is not so much a real intense workout so I don’t really count it as “working out” but it is fun and I really enjoy moving, dancing and giggling with the others in the class. We even had two men in there last night, which was pretty darn cool.

Enough about my favorite non-workout, workouts. If you want to try something different, check out the pool! It’s no Cross Fit workout, but I’d say one could get a pretty darn good workout in the pool, if they wanted.

Today was a good day foodwise.

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled in beef tallow and a small handfull of macadamia nuts

Lunch: Oxtail Soup, salad of romaine, cucumber, jicama, snow peas and a new fig infused vinegar with olive oil

Snack: a few more macadamia nuts

Dinner: I haven’t actually had dinner yet.  I’m not hungry now, but if I do eat later, it wil be more shrimp~asparagus curry

Written by Sonya

August 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Keeping On Keeping On….

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Day 8 was on Monday.

Breakfast – 2 eggs scrambled with onion

Lunch – Oxtail Soup and spinach salad with snow peas, cucumber & pear vinegar with olive oil

WOO HOO – Deep Water Aerobics for an hour – I really miss this class when I don’t get to go.

Dinner – Shrimp, asparagus curry – it’s a recipe from Cooking Light magazine and one of my favorites.  I just have it without the rice these days.










Day 9 – Today, Tuesday

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs

Lunch – Oxtail soup and romaine lettuce salad with snow peas, cucumber & pear vinegar with olive oil

WOO HOO – Water Zumba! – Again, so nice to be back in the gym after last week

Dinner – Shrimp asparagus curry

Still struggling with the nicotine addiction but, thankfully, I think I can say it is getting better – not as much as I would like – but it is getting better.

My uncle was admitted to the ER and ICU last week due to an acute attack of some sort that was caused by COPD, emphysema and sleep apnea. He’s a big man who enjoys his southern fried everything and smokes – dunno when he started smoking but now that he has COPD and it’s this bad, I understand that his life will never be the same.  COPD is not reversible and only gets worse. This is not a situation I want to find myself in, so perhaps this is one reason the quitting is getting easier.

I do so love eating this way and am surprisingly not missing the dairy and nightshades like I thought I would.  I will be happy to add them back in when the challenge is over, but it’s not been difficult or felt like deprivation at all. I am looking forward to getting blood tests done after the challenge and hope the scale reflects the benefits of these changes.

Written by Sonya

August 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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