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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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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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Being Prepared

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Friday Eve:

Breakfast – 2 eggs, macadamia nuts

Lunch – Shrimp asparagus curry

Snack – macadamia nuts, black olives

Dinner – Shrimp asparagus curry

I noticed that with two eggs only for breakfast I was getting hungry way before I should be and found myself hungry all day.  Not good for me to be hungry. 😀

Watched Expedition Impossible and cheered on the Modern Gypsies. Walked Vixen for about an hour while listening to the latest Robb Wolf podcast.  I live in a very friendly neighborhood where most of us know each other (except the new folks who don’t seem to be as personable – what’s up with that?). This is really nice and I’m not complaining but when I’m walking Vix and listening to my podcasts I don’t like to stop & chat.  On the homestretch of our walk I noticed several neighbors out chatting in one of the yards and reluctantly pulled the earbuds out only to notice they were engrossed in conversation (YAY!). We said our “Hello”‘s and I was free to continue on listening to Robb’s infinite wisdom.


Breakfast – 3 eggs

Lunch – Shrimp asparagus curry & salad of romaine lettuce, black olives, one boiled egg, jicama and cucumber with fig infused vinegar & olive oil

Dinner – Bacon wrapped filet

No, I was not going to eat bacon during the challenge but it’s one or two pieces and since it’ll be too floppy for my taste, I prolly won’t even eat it. Why am I even fixing this when it’s not really in my personal plan for the Whole 9?  Well, I didn’t remember to pull the beef out of the freezer and knew there was no Plan B ready at home so I stopped at the store and these were on sale for $1.89/each.  They look good, they’re Whole 9 compliant and require very little preparation time.  Tomorrow I will be reassessing Plan A and Plan B so that I’m not caught off guard again.

I had planned to go to a free movie shorts screening tonight but am feeling weak – not physically but mentally. I’m tired.  I didn’t sleep well last night and know that there’s a bar at the theater and the friends will want to hit one of the many local bars afterwards.  I’m not strong enough to handle that kind of temptation yet, especially not if it’s a smoking bar.

Weekends have been the most difficult for me. But I do have a full schedule tomorrow as a domestic diva. I printed a coupon to Bath & Bodyworks and will stock up on the Wallflower air fresheners.  A nice, clean smelling house should help with the nicotine cravings which, thankfully, are finally subsiding.  When the cravings hit, they hit hard, though.

I try to remind myself of the reasons I want to quit: Blood sugar control being the primary reason weight-wise. Did you know nicotine elevates blood sugar? Why people gain weight when they quit since blood sugar control should be better, I’m not sure, unless they eat more crap as they quit.  I’m hoping that’s what it is because I’m definitely not eating crap. I guess we’ll see, eh?

Obviously, it’s not the only reason.  I don’t want COPD, cancer or emphysema. I really can’t afford to be $moking. I really enjoy my workouts and would love to be better at them and not having to catch my breath like someone who’s an out of shape smoker. I’m a paranoid smoker who doesn’t like to smell like a smoker and I go to great pains to keep my house from smelling like it but despite my best efforts, I do stink sometimes. I know this because I have some brutally honest friends and I’m ever so thankful for them.

So, there we are. Another weekend of spitting nails and taking deep breaths while chomping GABA Calm tablets (with thanks to Julia Ross).

Written by Sonya

August 26, 2011 at 7:02 pm

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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Know Your Limits

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Mine involves almond butter. Thank goodness I only bought a small jar.  I was fine with it in the house until last night. Now the jar is almost gone and I know that’s way too many calories and n-6’s for me. I shan’t be buying that again till I can figure the best way to force moderation. Funny, I still have a chocolate bar that’s been in the kitchen for a month now untouched. I have a full jar of coconut butter at the house and one at the office – both are hardly touched. Some things are triggers and others aren’t.

I’m still smoke free and I’m still not happy about it. I even got a very nice, awesome massage tonight to see if that would help. According to everything I’ve found online I should be down to only 3 or 4 cravings a day and they should only last about 3 minutes. Either I’m way above average or that’s total bullshit – I’m calling bullshit! They do say if it’s this bad after 2-4 weeks I will need to see my physician. It damn well better not be this bad after 4 weeks!  That’s all I’m saying about that.

Breakfast was awesome.  I sauteed some garlic and onion in my freshly rendered beef tallow – added some fresh spinach – three eggs and, just as it was done, a bit more garlic. Such a tasty way to start the day.

Lunch and dinner was more hunks of roasted chicken, a handfull of olives, about 8 dates, an apple and too much almond butter.

Tonight will be the shorter loop for our evening stroll.  Wanting to walk in a shady area today, I took Vixen to one of the wilderness trails out in Geneva. We’ve been there many times but not lately, so I didn’t take one of the map with me since I figured I knew my way pretty well. (You see where this is going, right?) We (I) took a wrong turn and we ended up getting turned around and lost for nearly an hour. We ran out of water and I was concerned about Vix getting overheated and carried her part of the way back. Scary!  I’ll take more water and a map next time.  We sat in the car with the AC on full blast for about 10 minutes before even thinking of driving away.

At least we had a cool, nice smelling house to come home to.

Photo by Surreydweller / by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Written by Sonya

August 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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Ready for the Weekend!

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We made it to Day 5 of the Whole 9! The weekend will be a real trial for since I won’t be in the office all day where I’m not tempted to smoke. I do plan to clean the car and the house thoroughly to rid it of any lingering smoke smells. I usually do a pretty good job of keeping the house clean and free from smelling bad.  When friends come over they usually think I only smoke outside, so that’s a good thing, but I can make sure there’s no trace of smoke which will help me.

Today was more of the same – egg muffins, leftover beef curry, Pink Lady apple and for dinner I had roast chicken, almond butter and an asian pear – one of my all time favorite fruits. That’s a lot for dinner considering I don’t typically eat dinner. I’m hoping I get the appetite under control.  Quitting bad habits is great for the 30 days but I want some external proof of our efforts, too.

Mark has a whole page devoted to recipes for our beloved condiments. I plan to try the ketchup and possibly BBQ sauce when I’m back on nightshades. I definitely want to make mayo this weekend. His recipe is similar to Melissa’s at The Clothes Make the Girl.  Hers has great tips on making it come out right, so I’ll most likely be on her page for this adventure.

It’s pouring rain and I took a xanax when I got home to help with the nicotine cravings. Between the two I’m feeling very, very sleepy.  I think I’m going to curl up with a book and if I fall asleep so be it.  I’m just going to make sure the alarm is set for me to make it to Group Power at the gym tomorrow morning.

Starting this weekend I add physical activity back into my agenda. Weight training is critical for increasing insulin sensitivity, stoking the metabolism, helping with weight loss and increasing bone strength. I love my water aerobics and look forward to returning to that but also to stepping up the weight training, including body weight exercises like push ups, lunges, squats, etc.  Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try burpees.

Written by Sonya

August 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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