*Or, a Tale of Two Rickis
*Or, How About a Dickens Reference Other Than A Christmas Carol for a Change?
["Happy New Year, Mum! A saner approach to 2012 sounds good to me, too. Oh, and kudos on that atypical Dickens reference!"]
Happy 2012, everyone! Hope you all had a great time ringing in the new year. I’m incredibly excited to see what 2012 will bring! But before we get to that. . . . [Warning: long post ahead. Hopefully, it will still be 2012 by the time we're finished. To skip to the giveaway info, just go to the last section of this entry.]
I had actually intended this post to be part of Cheryl’s December Sanity Challenge, her blog event that exhorted us to “post on what you plan to do to make your holidays sane, happy and healthy.” (First pledge for 2012: get things done on time.). Clearly, I’m a little behind the curve on this one (sorry, Cheryl!). Well, since the holiday festivities have already passed and I haven’t quite achieved that elusive sanity as yet, I thought this would be as good a time as any to take stock of the past year, reflect on what worked or what didn’t, and formulate a plan to help increase the sanity quotient throughout the upcoming 365 days.
[A favorite means of increasing calcium in the diet: Raw Fig & Cherry Bars.]
I. The Best of Times: What Worked in 2011:
The Great Osteopenia Reversal of 2011.
One of my proudest health victories in 2011 was reversing the previous year’s diagnosis of near-osteoporosis (with a T-score of -2.2, I landed at the top of the “osteopenia” spectrum). Although my (allopathic) family doctor assured me that there was no way to reverse osteopenia and warned that I would need to start taking prescription drugs to avert disaster, I convinced her to let me try a holistic approach for a year. My recent bone density test indicated that my numbers improved dramatically–up to -1.3–which means less than a 10% chance of fracture after a fall! Yippee!
Many of you asked how I did it. While I’m loath to provide specific details about supplements because (a) each of us is an individual, and should, therefore, acquire an individualized program from a certified health care provider; and (b) I am not qualified to provide this type of information to anyone else–this is my personal story only–I am happy to share what I did because it worked for me. However, I can’t stress enough that this is the plan I followed, but it may not work for you. Please contact your own health care provider before embarking on any kind of bone-building regimen, or any health-promoting regimen, period.
My year-long plan (which I’m still following, for the time being) involved increasing bone-building minerals and foods in my diet, and boosting the amount of weight-bearing exercise. Here’s what I did:
Based on my naturopath’s plan for me, I took all these daily supplements in addition to my other regular supplements (such as probiotics, Omega 3s, CoQ10, B12 and whatever else I’m on for candida and general health):
- Vitamin K2
- Vitamin D3
[One of my all-time top-rated bean-based recipes: Egyptian Fava Bean Breakfast]
Apart from my “regular” diet (lots of veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, soy about once every 2 weeks, whole gluten-free grains, and a daily slurry of one teaspoon/5 ml spirulina (or other green food) combined with some almond, rice or soy milk and a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and chia seeds every single morning), I added a few more foods. Although I had been consuming a good amount of leafy greens (I adore kale and pretty much love all green leafys), I decided to amp up the green quotient nonetheless. I ate 2 servings of leafy greens at least 4 times a week, with a minimum of one serving on the other days.
[Crunchy, fresh, delicious way to get those greens.]
I also increased my intake of beans and legumes, which offer a great array of minerals necessary for a healthy bone matrix. Seaweed contains a similarly broad range of nutrients, so I attempted to increase my intake of those as well. I ended up eating beans and legumes 5-6 times a week, with seaweeds (such as nori sheets, arame, wakame, etc.) just under once a week. My goal this year is to augment that amount as well.
Again, this past year was about building on established routines. (And please note, I am by NO MEANS what I’d call a “fitness buff”; exercise to me is mostly necessity, never something I love doing. I’m definitely moderate in my approach and don’t really care whether or not I build muscle as long as I’m within a healthy range.)
My pattern before 2011 had been to walk every day (30-40 minutes with The Girls, with an additional short walk on the treadmill most days) and to use weights 3-4 times a week. I determined to increase my walking time by at least 30 minutes a day and amp up my weight-based workouts to every second day (ie, 4 times a week), adding in a few muscle groups I hadn’t been targeting specifically with weights before that (such as the abductors and adductors). Overall, I ended up walking about 70 minutes total each day, and used the weight machines at my local gym daily, alternating between upper and lower body, six days a week.
[Chocolate Bean Butter. . . who knew?]
I certainly understand that an hour’s walk each day may seem a tad much for some folks. . . at least, those who don’t own dogs. As for the alimentary changes, it’s not as difficult as you’d imagine to incorporate more greens and legumes: smoothies and salads are two obvious ways; I also tend to add chopped greens to soups and stews without thinking these days. As for beans, there are endless recipes to incorporate more of them in one’s diet. All it takes is a little determination, and remembering to include them in your menus!
Candida Update: Symptoms Holding Steady in 2011.
March of this year will mark 3 years since I began the ACD (holy jeepers! That’s 36 months. 156 weeks. Three seasons of American Idol. . . all without sugar or mold!). After some great progress in 2010, my symptoms continued to hold steady in 2011, spurring a shift from Stage 2 to Stage 3 (and even some maintenance) foods in 2011.
At this point, I’ve grown fairly accustomed to eating this way, and have managed to welcome back a few previously eschewed ingredients into my diet, such as the occasional drizzle of vinegar (if I’m in a restaurant and the dressing contains regular vinegar, I no longer ask them to serve the salad without) or apple cider vinegar (either permitted or not, depending on which version of the diet you follow); the occasional sweeter or dried fruit, particularly if I’m eating at a raw food restaurant; and low glycemic sweeteners other than stevia (coconut sugar, coconut nectar, agave). If I’m moderate in my intake of these newer foods, they pose no problems and there are no symptom flare-ups. I can live with that.
II. The Worst of Times: What Didn’t Work, and Where I’m Going this Year
Weight Loss: Not Holding Steady in 2011.
If you’ve been a DDD reader since I first embarked on the ACD in March, 2009, you’ll recall that I lost a considerable amount of weight on the regimen, without a single day of “dieting.” Still, as someone who strives to be an “intuitive” eater, I’ve come to believe that intuition, shall we say, is not my forte.
["Mum, it's easy to be an intuitive eater! Just do what I do: eat anything that isn't moving--and that includes Elsie's ear!"]
Let me be clear: I haven’t veered at all from what is permitted on the diet. Nevertheless, I’ve seen my weight creep slowly back up as the past year unfolded.
Sure, the foods I consume are über-healthy and my diet would be considered draconian by the standards of many; but for me, one extra (sugar-free, gluten-free, ACD-friendly) cookie can easily morph into four cookies; in true Libra fashion, I tend to vacillate between feast and famine (figuratively speaking, of course, having never approached true famine in my life).
Recently I came across a fascinating article about why those of us who’ve lost (and gained, and lost, and gained, and lost) considerable amounts of weight find it so excruciatingly difficult to permanently inhabit the realm of “slim.”
According to a study undertaken at Columbia University in New York, the cellular makeup and chemistry of formerly zaftig bodies have been permanently changed, so that former dieters ”showed a bigger response in the parts of the brain associated with reward and a lower response in the areas associated with control. This suggests that the body, in order to get back to its pre-diet weight, induces cravings by making the person feel more excited about food and giving him or her less willpower to resist a high-calorie treat.” At the same time, “After you’ve lost weight, your brain has a greater emotional response to food,” [the study's author] says. “You want it more, but the areas of the brain involved in restraint are less active.”
As someone who experiences this biochemical Catch-22 fairly frequently, it makes total sense to me that, once a dieter has achieved a desired weight, s/he will thereafter crave food more than a naturally slim person–while simultaneously possessing less willpower to limit the food eaten. The upshot, then, as David Kessler instructs us in The End of Overeating, is to be vigilant about planning and organizing what one will eat in order to steer clear of ”trigger” foods. Which leads me to. . . .
III. The Outlook for 2012: A Cleanse, Multiple Giveaways, and Other Events:
I’m kicking off the year with a whole-foods cleanse that will serve not only to further stymie the remaining dregs of candida in my system, but also reset my sweets cravings to a level somewhat below an elephant’s trumpet, which is where they’ve been residing lately. As those of you who’ve ditched sugar in the past undoubtedly know, once you eliminate the sweet stuff for long enough, the constant desire to seek it out abates as well. For me, that shift took a little longer than the norm (sugar cravings usually disappear within 10 days or so of cutting out sugar; in my case, they held their grip until somewhere around the six-month point on the ACD). [NOTE: while this is NOT specifically a sugar detox (that one, which I'll be offering with Andrea Nakayama, is coming up in March!), as a general, all-purpose healthy-eating plan, it will of course help to detox sugar--as well as other toxins in the body.]
There’s be nothing extreme about this detox, which is being offered online by my nutritionista friend Meghan Telpner: there are no special pills or potions–just real, whole, healthy foods that will help to chase away the ghosts of Christmas (and the rest of the year) past (okay, so I couldn’t resist that Christmas Carol reference, after all).
And guess what? For those who’d like to play along, Meghan is offering a free spot in the 16-day detox, which begins on January 6th. You’ll get an ebook filled with information and recipes, online coaching, a group tweetchat, live videos and more (check out all the details here). I’m going to be following along as well, so keep an eye out for more raw recipes on the blog!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to participate. The contest is open until NOON my time this Thursday, January 5th. I’ll announce a winner in my Wellness Weekend post on Thursday evening (January 5th), leaving plenty of time for you to receive your materials and join in the pre-cleanse conference call Friday at 4:00 PM.
[Full disclosure: I received a free spot in the detox in exchange for holding this giveaway. I was not required to say anything positive about the cleanse in this post--or anything at all, actually. I'm endorsing it based on the materials in the cleanse and my knowledge of Meghan's approach to healthy eating.]
The Balanced Platter Launches!
Yesterday marked the launch of The Balanced Platter, the new website founded by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake. TBP promises to be your “one-stop site for balanced, healthy gluten-free living. . . . .we’ll help you navigate the gluten-free, whole foods lifestyle. You’ll also learn easy and effective ways to give yourself and your family wholesome, allergy friendly food and tips for bringing balance to your life through food and lifestyle.” Well, how great does that sound?! They’re kicking off the site with a month-long event called “Balanced, Healthy and Gluten-Free,” with daily posts and a giveaway. Check their site for more info.
I’m thrilled to share that I’ll be one of the regular contributors to The Balanced Platter. Visit again tomorrow to see my first post!
I’ll share events in the days to come, but I think this post is already quite long enough, thank you! (In fact, it may just have taken first place as ”Longest Post of 2012″–yes, I know that already). ;) I’ll be taking one more glance backward with my next recipe (from our 2011 Christmas dinner) before springing full force into the new year.
Yep, I’d say there are definitely some Great Expectations ahead! (oops, there I go again. . . groan).
Three Years Ago: Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce and Chickpea Pancakes (gluten free;ACD all stages if stevia is used instead of Sucanat)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs