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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So it goes…

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With a nod to Kurt Vonnegut

10 years ago today I was looking for a job. I had been laid off and was hitting the pavement.  I had dropped off my resume at ORMC and was in the car on the way back home.  At that time TV Channel 6/WKMG aired on 87.7 FM. Being the news junkie that I was (and still am) I had been listening to the news on the way to drop of my resume. When I got back in the car it was after 9 AM and Bryant Gumbel was talking.  My first thought was, “Why is that ass still on the air? The news should be over.”

I heard him ask someone why they thought the plane flying into the tower was intentional.  Then the second plane hit. I pounded the accelerator and rushed home as quickly as possible once it became clear what was happening. While I wasn’t happy to be laid off, I was so glad that I could be home to watch the coverage because it was so disturbing and upsetting. My husband at the time was a police officer and I could not imagine being the spouse of an emergency responder in NYC and knowing what they were facing.  God bless those who lost loved ones and thanks to the brave people who responded to the calls for help.

So, after crying my eyes out this morning watching the memorial service I didn’t really feel like working out as planned. What I truly wanted to do was to go to the beach and bask in the sun alone with my thoughts, but I have a goal of getting some things done around the house and some plants I bought last week but didn’t get to plant yet were looking rather sickly. So, I sucked it up and took Vixen on a nice walk and by the time I got back my arms started feeling….well, I don’t know exactly how to describe it….they felt like – like – like they NEEDED to lift heavy things. I know! Right?  How friggin’ odd is that?!? My body seemed to know it was a weight training day and was getting ready for it?

I kept my Vibrams on, tossed Vixen and few treats and headed to the gym. Yay me! I only did the weight circuit, though, no swimming laps today. I did kinda regret not having my suit with me after I finished the weight circuit. It’s alright though, the yard work was quite exhausting.  I cross my fingers that I can keep the plants alive and enjoy the fruits veggies of my labor in a few months. I’ve got some acorn squash, yellow squash, red cabbage and cauliflower on the menu should things work out right.

Tomorrow is Day 29 of this 30 Day adventure.  I’m excited to share my thoughts on this time once it’s over.

In the meantime, hug those you love and call those you can’t hug.

So it goes.

Written by Sonya

September 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Memorial, 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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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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