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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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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

Navigating the Salad Bar

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Today is Day 3 of the Whole 9 Whole30 program in the office. Everyone is doing well and it’s so exciting.  It’s still too early to really notice much in the way of changes but we’re all anticipating the goodness that we’ll be noticing along this journey.  Thankfully, no one else is quitting smoking so I’m the only grumpy one in our area. I’m still having intensely horrible cravings what feels like 24/7, but I will not give in this time! I’m just stubborn like that.  RJ Reynolds, I am no longer your bitch!

Supposedly by this time all fo the nicotine will be gone from my body. The symptoms of chemical withdrawal should have peaked (I don’t feel like that, though). My bronchial tubes are beginning to relax and breathing should be getting easier as lung function increases. But enough whining – especially since I can’t have cheese with it – let’s talk about food:

I have this thing about freezing meals – If I make a batch of something I just have to eat it till it’s gone. I don’t mind because I only fix things I like.  Anything that goes into the freezer ends up getting lost and forgotten about. Soooo…. breakfast was more ugly but yummy egg muffins.  Lunch was another leftover roast beast salad with grilled asparagus. (If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend the pear infused vinegar – it makes a great dressing.) I also had a Pink Lady Apple this afternoon.

Dinner was a trip down the salad bar at Jason’s Deli with Chucky and his wife, Tiffany. They are a delightful couple and I just love getting to spend time with them. So much so that I forgot to take a picture of my salad.  It was very good and loaded with mixed greens, cauliflower, kalamata olives, green olives, sesame seeds, slivered almonds, egg, cucumber, artichoke hearts and sprouts.  Because I wasn’t sure of what was in any of the salad dressings I just poured basalmic vinegar and olive oil over it.

I tried to get a picture of the very long, good looking salad bar but there were too many people around and, really, it looks just like every other salad bar. It’s the company that was spectacular.

Written by Sonya

August 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Posted in Diet, Whole 9

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Twas the Night Before Whole 9

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Twas the night before the Whole 9 Challenge
And all through the kitchen
My hands they were grillin’
Egg muffins, roast beast and asparagus were chillin’

Awww, hell, I’m not a poet….let’s just say that the haul from the grunchy store to be certain I have plenty of Whole 9 approved goodies on hand was large. You’d have thought I had 10 kids at home with all the stuff I bought (I do NOT like having no options on what to eat when the mood strikes). I even bought some pear infused vinegar which is actually pretty darn good!  I discovered my beloved Paul Newman’s Oil & Vinegar salad dressing has – gasp! – vegetable oil in it. I may or may not finish the three bottles I have once the challenge is over – I will cross that bridge when I come to it but for now it’s off limits because I am doing this thing all-the-way – no exceptions.

I wanted to take a picture of my fridge like Mark Menjivar has done with people but I couldn’t get the lighting right and, since I live alone, it’s really not all that exciting. Rest assured, though, there is no snake in my freezer.  It’s mostly batteries (Floridian hurricane paranoia) and some goat meat I haven’t had the courage to actually cook yet.

I made Sarah Fragoso’s egg muffins to have my breakfasts taken care of this week. I am going to avoid processed meats, and that includes bacon and sausage so I used left over roast beast in the recipe. I have always been fond of Kalyn’s egg muffins but Sarah’s are different in some ways and that’s what I’m needing for this challenge to avoid “paleo-izing” favorites. When I make Kalyn’s I always, always use cheese, Sarah’s don’t.

In the strictest sense of Whole 9, I’m also giving up nightshades which has proven to be difficult for me because in my preparations I realize how much I must love tomatoes and peppers since they seem to be in every single thing I eat. If they are the cause of these horrific acne outbreaks and hormonal imbalances I have, I want to know. I’m just torn, now, trying to decide whether to add back dairy or nightshades first when the challenge is over. I love both so much! Those are the two things I think I’m going to miss most – believe it or not, over nicotine and wine. I plan to quit the nicotine for good and the wine… well, we’ll see. *smile* I am open to all possibilities.

“When the challenge is over….” Is that healthy or not? To already be thinking about when the challenge is over.  I dunno. It’s not supposed to be a forever thing – it’s a “resetting” thing – it’s a “getting a great base line” thing – it’s the mentality that I’m going to do this Whole 9 Whole Hog (Mississippi thang) – I expect great things to come out of this experience. Thanks, Steve, for challenging all of us to do this with you!

Steve, Jason, John, Noralynn, Arlene and I embark on this great adventure together starting tomorrow. I’m ready.

Written by Sonya

August 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Who do you want to be?

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I’m into psychology, energy medicine and nutrition, etc…. the whole package. How our emotional, physical and spiritual selves all meld together to make us who we are. Life is more than just what you think or how you eat or whatever “spiritual” path you follow. It’s a whole conglomeration interrelated making up the whole person. I’m not sure what the balance is or how it all works but I know that when I’ve been able to vividly visualize where I want to be I’ve seen it come to pass.  Coinky-dink?  I dunno. I’m not up to arguing about it either because I only remember when it does happen and not when it doesn’t or because I really don’t like to argue. I am into investigating other viewpoints and opinions though there was a time when I wasn’t.

I vividly remember sitting behind the driver’s side of my Mazda Protege and visualizing myself higher up in the seat with less front end vision saying “this is what it is going to be like behind the wheel of my Subaru Baja” (my dream car at the time). Less than a month after these “pretend” sessions I was talking on my cell phone and totalled my Mazda. I used the insurance money and my savings to buy that Baja. I love, Love, LOVE my Baja!! I would not have bought it without the impetus of having no other options at that time.  I looked at the situation as being a “all things work out for the good” situation, however, I do not ever talk on the cell phone or text while driving anymore.

I likewise, do visualizations with my body. I have pictures of me when I was much younger and thinner and healthier than I am now posted on my refrigerator along with pics of really fat girls to discourage me from those late night binges. These have not worked as well and I don’t want some life-changing, serious situation like totaling my body to get me to the health I want to experience.

This is where Whole 9 comes in. This is where I have run out of excuses for living the life I dream of. This is where I have a reason to take control of my life before some catastrophic event forces me to make the changes I need and know I need to make. I am intimately familiar with the mind~body connection (yes, I believe in this). I know balancing nutrition will help balance mental health will help balance physical health will help balance addictions (to processed foods, cigarettes, alcohol, destructive behaviors/thoughts) will help balance etc….

Donna Eden, Candace Pert, Jimmy Moore, Mark Sisson, Nora Gedgaudas, Julia Ross, Michael Shermer, etc. have all impacted my life and how I think , eat, breath and move. Some of it may seem like quackery to you and that’s okay. Maybe it is. *smile* I was in a very high demand religious cult for 10+ years and not able to think for myself. I was told what to do with my mind, my heart, my time, my money, my thoughts for so long that I’m still trying to figure out what’s what. I don’t think nutrition and diet are the end all ~ be all of health – I think it encompasses more than that but not sure how habits, lifestyle, thoughts, mentality and nutrition all tie in to make the healthiest, happiest person we can be. I am convinced that it’s different for different folks because we all have different situations.

Whole 9 with friends and co-workers, basically, is my excuse to give up cigarettes and alcohol – two of my biggest challenges – it gives me an excuse to go “hard core” into the healthy lifestyle of eliminating everything that might be a problem in my life. Could I have done this on my own? Sure. But I haven’t. Could I do it without admitting my challenges publicly like this? Sure. But I haven’t despite my best intentions – those same “good intentions paved the road to hell” intentions. I’m 42 and not where I wanted to be when I turned 40, but nobody else knew at 39 where I wanted to be by 40 because I never shared that with anyone. This is it. This is where I “put up or shut up”. I plan to “put up”. (Thanks, Melissa!) I have in other ways, but this whole person transformation is what I’m looking for this time…uncovering the real me, the “me” I want to be and am proud to be. I’m rather excited about it.

Written by Sonya

August 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Diet, Getting Started

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Labels Suck

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I despise labels – labels on people, food labels, even diet labels: Low Carb, Smart Carb, Paleo, Primal, Ancestral Diet, Archevore, Whole 9, Warrior Diet, Caveman Diet, Functional Paleo, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Call it what you will; I don’t have a label for it because I do what works for me. Others are doing the same – which is what we’re supposed to do, right? We have to figure out what works for us because our bodies do not come in a “one size fits all” package.

Paleo seems to be the standard that communicates the essence of it to most folks so that’s what I use when forced to give it a name. When I’m not, I just say, “I eat REAL FOOD – things without a label – I buy my meat, eggs and veg (and occasional fruit, raw milk dairy products and butter) from local, organic, grass fed farms. I buy coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, spices and some wholesome things that do have a label so I’m not totally label free and, yes, I buy meat and produce from the grunchy store when I’m watching my pennies. I don’t buy processed crap and I don’t eat sugar in any form save the occasional fruit.” I think it gets the point across fine – even to those who like to argue accuracy and semantics.

When I read about someone saying there’s a need for a label, something other than Paleo or Primal, I find it amusing. Because 1) there’s no need for a label 2) we will start to sound like the vegetarian community 3) all it does is instigate arguments over semantics and minutiae. It reminds me of the Bible verse about straining gnats and swallowing camels. Do people really expect us to start saying, “I’m a lacto-paleo” or “I’m Paleo 4.0”? All labels do is facilitate pigeon holes and stereotypes. People who are familiar with Paleo/Primal eating know there are variations within the diet. Those who don’t only need the basics and instructions later on how to figure out what works for them so they can decide which elements work and which don’t in their particular situation.

There are some folks who need/want a hard and fast set of rules and they want everyone to be 100 percent accountable 100 percent of the time to following those carved-in-stone rules. Ambiguity and fluidity frustrate them. However, it runs contrary to the heart and soul of living the all encompassing healthy lifestyle that I’ve geeked out on and have come to love.

That lifestyle embodies flexibility and a keen knowledge of what works best for your body.  I’m still figuring it out for meeself. There are times and ways to figure that out which is why my friends and I are embarking on the Whole 9 program for 30 days starting August 15. This will require regimented eating but will give us each the experience and n=1 knowledge of what works with us individually. I’m rather excited about it, actually. I don’t expect any of us to ride the Crazy Train to Carrot Town and I fully appreciate that we will call each other out should one of us buy a ticket.

What embarking on this lifestyle has done for me is teach me the value of play, quality sleep, real foods and eliminating stress in my life. It’s introduced me to many invaluable experts and bloggers on the healthy lifestyle that I choose to live from nutrition to medical to lifestyle management. Some of my favorite bloggers are labeled with a certain diet, but many aren’t such as Dr. Bernstein for his management of diabetes (I’m pre-diabetic), Julia Ross for her invaluable insight on addiction, amino acids and how diet affects our moods and addictions of every kind, Todd Becker with his Hormesis viewpoint and many of the other wonderful folks interviewed on Jimmy’s podcasts. In fact, Jimmy’s blog and podcasts is where I first learned of Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Tom Naughton, Nora Gedgaudas and many others in the Paleo/Primal community.

This is a lifestyle – not a diet.  This is figuring out what works for you, personally, not following some set of rigid legalistic standards and arguing over semantics and what the caveman did or didn’t do. It’s starting from a base of sound scientific, biological, evolutionary evidence for healthy longevity and tweaking it to figure out what gives you optimal “feel, look and performance” in your life (with a nod to Robb Wolf for the variation of his phrase).

Written by Sonya

August 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Never Take Advice…

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“Never take financial advice from a poor person and never take diet advice from a fat person.”

When I first remember hearing that, a friend and I were having a rather heated discussion about the best way to lose weight. He was arguing the “calories in / calories out” theory and I was arguing the “carbohydrate drives insulin, insulin drives fat” theory. This is when I realized that it was time to put up or shut up. I am a fat person giving diet advice and willing to argue about it. The irony is not lost on me.

I have been mostly following my newly chosen lifestyle but allowing way too many “just this once” bites and meals. I absolutely do not look like anyone who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition, health and weight loss. It’s a wonder anyone has listened to me up to this point, including my own mother who is off the bloody statins and experiencing her own successes. I am happy about that and not one bit sorry for pestering the crap out of her to dump that poison. It’s not me who has convinced anyone of anything, though. I’ve shared links, studies, books and movies from others more knowledgeable than I who are better at communicating. Those experts have done the educating and motivating of my friends and family to make healthy changes to their lives.

Today I had to get some help from a co-worker I don’t particularly enjoy being around (I’m quite sure the feeling is mutual). He proceeded to tell me how he has lost 15 pounds and what he’s doing to lose weight in a tone that insinuated he was trying to help me lose weight. It’s naturally not anything I haven’t tried before; I have tried every diet known to man and am probably the only person on the face of the earth who actually gained weight on the cabbage soup diet. Furthermore, I did not ask him for advice.  I ended the conversation by telling him I was happy he found what worked for him but it’s not what I wanted to say to end the conversation.

I was beyond irritated and getting angry. Then I recalled how many people I’ve shared my new learning and adventures in nutrition with such as the aforementioned “discussion”. Pot, meet Kettle. My brother’s words rang in my ears on the way to the gym while I fumed over the unsolicited advice.  He says the things that irritate us most in others are usually those things in ourselves that we most hate or need to change. Ouch! Touche, mon frere. I suppose that means this blogging thing is a good idea for me. I can share what I’m learning and what I’m doing while keeping my own unsolicited advice to myself unless someone asks.

Now it’s time to step it up a notch so that I do look like I know what I’m talking about and have more chances to share what I’ve learned because someone asks. Thankfully, this will be relatively easy since most of the office is stepping it up with me. We hold each other accountable and support one another as we continue to make great strides in our health. There are some awe-inspiring successes from incredible amounts of weight loss to, more importantly, improved health markers in so many ways among us.

The support is important.  It’s fun!  We inspire each other. My co-worker, Steve, decided that he wanted to go hard-core for 30 days and follow the Whole 9 program.  Five of us in the office have agreed to jump on board with Steve which is what spawned this blog. After discussing upcoming events and temptations, we plan to start August 15. I’m nervous and excited about this new adventure.  This will be 30 days with no wine or dairy – both of which I love dearly. It also means I quit the hypocrisy of eating healthy and working out while polluting my lungs with cigarette smoke.

The countdown begins!

Written by Sonya

August 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Advice, Getting Started

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