Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 108 - Acupuncture and the Waggoner

I found an acupuncturist online. He's from Shanghai, which makes me trust him, but he is very difficult to understand. I often wonder if our conversations are really accomplishing their intended purpose.... does he know what I'm requesting? Is he answering the question I asked? Most times I just stay quiet and assume he's doing the right thing, and that he'll help me. And ok, it's not as painless as people generally say. Depending on the area of the body, it either doesn't feel like anything, or um OUCH I definitely feel it. So it's not exactly the most relaxing thing, because I tense up depending on where he is inserting the needle. But once the needles are all in their appropriate spot, and he starts centering my "chi" by waving his hands over my face, I am generally zoned out and pretty relaxed =)

Basically, I sought out acupuncture when I heard from a friend (who is a med student) that a colleague of hers (also a med student) had really bad skin, and looks amazing now thanks to acupuncture and herbal remedies. So I've had three sessions so far, and I should say that I notice marginal improvement and flattening of the cystic areas... Dr. Zou says 10 sessions should return a 50% overall improvement. Do I like those odds? At 90 bucks a pop, we're looking at quite the investment... No less, I've gone three times and when the old man tells me I must obey him, and I must make another appointment for the next week - I guess all I can do is nod and give him my credit card. And I shouldn't complain, because as I said, my face is flatter as of late. Why are antibiotics so much cheaper than alternative medicine! GAH!

In other news, I signed up for a Live Box program through Cousins Incredible Vitality restaurant - the raw vegan spot where I did my initial detox program. I get 6 raw vegan meals a week, that I share with D - and it is going pretty well so far. I'm back on some sort of wagon, after falling off for most of April. I had been very busy at work, with catered food and the whole nine yards coming at me from every angle. What could I do but indulge a little? So I'm paying for it now, with tighter-fitting clothes and all. But eating clean has never been so welcome, HELLO SPRING! =) This week is the first in probably three where I haven't felt tired and bloated. YESSS

As for the blog, wow, falling down on the job much? I had warned readers from the beginning that this MIGHT happen. And yes, the worse I do and the less foods I prepare, the less I feel like doing any type of blogging. And the overall laziness that has set in is just incredible. I am, however, running a bit - I did an 8k in mid-April, and I'll do another 5 mile race at the beginning of May. Feels pretty good, if I could just muster the energy to do so consistently. That would be doubly great!

Lord give me self control! I have none!



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 81 - Story Time

I'm officially a year older. I celebrated my birthday on Monday, with dinner at a fantastic fish place. Did I mention that I eat fish sometimes? That may have been on my "rules" page in the beginning...from time to time, I go non-vegan. Oops. So with this birthday interruption behind me, I'm chalking up February AND March as a non-raw, mostly-cooked couple of months. Mind you, I do still eat a lot of raw food, but the balance (maybe 50%?) wouldn't really warrant a truly raw classification. I'll stick by my mostly-vegan classification for the purpose of being techncial. But overall, my tendency to overeat in the last 2 months has been my true demise, and not really my food choices persay.

I'm beginning to wonder how "raw" this year will be... as I search for viable options for a sustainable lifestyle. Deep down I feel like raw is a good option for me, but my cooked-food-attachment is quite against that idea at the moment. My skin is raging out of control. RAGING. The dermo meds are not working, and I'm secretly glad this isn't the quick fix, although I'm longing to look like "me" again.

I received a LivingSocial coupon via email for a $25 consultation with a Naturopath in Chicago. I most certainly BOUGHT it...and called to schedule an appointment at the earliest possible. I'll meet with the Doc next week, and am HIGHLY anticipating what she will say about my dreadful skin.

I also spoke with a Raw Chef-in-training who said that she conquered her Candida (ie: acne-causing-bacteria) with diet and lifestyle. She emailed me the name of a book: The Yeast Connection - that she used to get through it. She also suggested that it may be beneficial to allow myself some cooked and non-vegan food as I try to transition my body into a healthier gut flora. Her reasoning was this: I believe that eating organic, free-range chicken could help you.  The raw food diet often needs fruit to make things taste good, so your choices would be severely limited.  At least while you working on this specific problem, you might want to not worry about being so strict on the raw.

Interesting...I might like her already. I will see what the naturopath has to say, and continue on my path of discovery...

Story Time
I was at the Trader Joe's grocery store last week, grabbing a few things before heading home for the evening. The friendly check-out associate politely asked me how I was doing as he scanned each item through the register. I told him that I was generically "fine" and smiled. Then he asked, "Did anything exciting happen today?" Hmmm...I thought...scanning the day's events in my head. Woke up. Showered. Drove to work. Sat at the computer. Went to the bathroom. Talked on Gchat. Drove to Sprint Store. Drove to Trader Joe's while waiting for phone to be fixed. WOW. So I responded, "Well, I'm getting my phone fixed, so I feel somewhat disconnected and that's nice." He said, "Whoa isn't that weird?" I said, "Well it's only been 30 minutes."

He handed me the receipt, I took the bag of groceries and made my way to the parking lot. Whoa, he was probably thinking that I have the most BORING life ever. Maybe it takes saying it out loud to realize how uneventful our lives can be if we don't intentionally inject FUN and INTERESTING circumstances into them. So with that I am currently reevaluating what I'm doing with my life, and how I can strive to have more exciting things to share on a daily basis. Thank you friendly-Trader-Joe's-associate, for asking such a thoughtful and eye-opening question even though you probably ask that of everyone who comes through your line.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 73 - Vegan Travels


Another 2-week hiatus between posts, tsk tsk. I just got back from a week vacation in San Diego, Los Angeles and Denver. I took the week to catch up with old and dear friends, while my hubby went to Las Vegas with a few buddies. It was a great little spring break, but I'm glad to be back to the daily grind.

Knowing full-well that it would be difficult for me to be raw during vacation (heck, it's been hard to stay raw in LIFE) I went into the week desiring to stay vegan and stray from refined carbs as much as possible. I'd say it was pretty successful, and I stayed at about the same weight throughout. Phew! Granted, the simple act of eating 3 meals a day felt somewhat overindulgent because my body is trained not to need that much alas, the bloat is back. Aaand I wasn't as successful at straying from sugar, especially during my stop in LA.

Day 1 was super encouraging. In San Diego my friend took me to a drive-thru vegan & raw "fastfood" spot that was right by her house! It was called Evolution....I got rawcos (raw tacos) that were DELISH. Here's a look:

Also, according to my friend AJ in Denver, San Diego is the healthiest city in the nation -- followed by Boulder and Denver, CO. So go figure, I found something raworthy in my travels. Do you think raw fastfood would fly in Chicago? Somehow I doubt that....

This past Monday I attended a raw Asian food prep class at Cousin's Incredible Vitality on Irving Park Rd. This is the restaurant that hosted the 28-day detox program.

We learned how to make: Thai curry soup, Thai spinach salad with Peanut Coconut dressing, Vegetable Teriyaki (stirred, not fried), Ginger berry truffles

ALL of these recipes, I would make again without a doubt. The teriyaki was especially tasty -- put in the dehydrator to warm for about an hour -- and it really didn't matter that it wasn't cooked. When I remake them, I will post pictures! I tell ya, if I had a personal chef, I could be raw all the time...

The last thing I'll share for today is that I started a training program for my 8k that is coming up in 2.5 weeks! I've been such a slacker in the running department, but I've already signed up to run, so I'm doing it for sure. I ran a 5k this morning at about 11.4 minutes/mile. Not great, but I was happy to have ran the entire time. The idea today was to run for 40 minutes without stopping, so after I finished the 3.1 miles in the neighborhood, I kept going for an additional 5 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised by my endurance =D

I'll have to keep up the training because at the end of April I'm doing a 10k... gosh, Spring got here so fast! All the while, trying to be raw, or some combination of cooked/raw/anti-yeast. The battle continues....


OMG PS - You may remember my previous post about Rawtella. I've never tried it but felt comforted just knowing it exists. Well get this...the company is based in GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS. Hello, I grew up there! I'll be investigating this situation for sure...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 60 - Raw or Not Here I Come

Well, I thought I had neglected this thing for a mere ONE week, but in fact, it has been TWO. The funny thing is that I took pictures of a lovely meal I ate last week and just didn't get around to posting them. It's been a busy couple of weeks for me and D. My eating has been "ok" at best -- still vegan with maybe 50% raw, if that. I spent a few days in Toronto for a business trip, where I ate more plain veggie pita sandwiches than ever in my life. HA. It was the only vegan option anywhere! Roasted Vegetable Wrap, hold the cheese please!

I'm still snacking quite a bit -- I cut out peanut butter (wow what a mistake it was to buy those huge jars) and I'm keeping fewer carby snacks around the house. I got my monthly bill yesterday, so some of this last week's scavenging can be attributed to that.

BIG NEWS! I went to the dermatologist! Yes, I'm officially fed UP with my crazy face. I mean, we all have our limits I guess. I look like I have tumors on my face, literally. No I won't provide photos. So I found a new dermo, instead of the same ole guy that would prescribe Accutane in a heartbeat. This new guy was direct I'd say; he called naturo-health-people "a bunch of lunatics" -- but aside from that little dig, the visit was informative. So here's what I'm pursuing at the moment:
  • A short round of Amoxicilin to get some of the facial inflammation under control. No, I won't be on antibiotics forever. This will be like two weeks, and I'm amping up on probiotics to offset.
  • Spirnolactone -- androgen blocker. This is the one I wary of, I don't know if I'll stay on it. It is basically blocking testosterone from going... somewhere -- he says it stops it from going to the oil glands, but I would imagine it stops it from moving period....? Not sure. He says this should not effect libido. And I'll make sure to let you all know if that is true!
  • Photodynamic Therapy. Ok this one is up in the air. It's a very expensive procedure, but I'm drawn to it because it does not require ingesting any type of harsh medication. It's literally a photo or light therapy that is supposed to shrink the size of the oil glands after a couple of treatments.
The doc said the cause of cystic acne is fatty acids building up in the skin. So for whatever reason (could be diet, genetics, hormones) fatty acids find themselves in my skin. And Doc says the only way to heal this is to shrink the oil glands.

I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING. Fatty acids....HMMM. Yes, this could very well be diet related, I'm no expert. However, I just NEED some relief. I'm going to do this short term, maybe seek out the photodynamic therapy, and see how things go. Oh how far we go for vanity..... No joke.

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THE OTHER NEWS! I gave up coffee and dessert for lent =D It's amazing how I can stick to a "program" when it has a beginning and an end. When it is just a "lifestyle change" I seem less inclined to stick with it. So for now, I'm going strong on day #2 of lent season! Just to clarify, I've been off caffeine since the new year, but I was drinking decaf on an almost-daily basis with my beloved soy milk. So now it's tea in the morning, just like a good raw vegan girl.

Diet overall, I have a serious cooked food attachment. Maybe this blog should just be called "YEAR" and I can update you all on a year's worth of eating in this weird world I live in. Raw or not, here I come!



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 46 - Yoga and Sugar

OnDemand Yoga is treating me well. I guess my 40-day Yoga Challenge really began THIS week...haha...because I've actually been doing it every day. Yes, this week it is.

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 I Googled 'Maura Barclay' who teaches one of the televised yoga sessions: intermediate/advanced. I am absolutely not intermediate/advanced, but I certainly aspire to be so. Maura is a former olympic gymnast, maybe, and a former fire fighter...and now has a center for women's self defense. Powerhouse. It's nice to know that her body isn't only a result of yoga, because I wondered how her muscles got so bulky. And, man, she does the poses with such ease....I cannot wait til I start noticing improvement and strength =D

Let's see, I've also signed up for some races beginning in the spring. A 5k, 8k and 5-mile run. The Northshore Half Marathon is in June...which I'm DEBATING about signing up for, even though my true goal for running a half is not until the Fall. June might be a little premature, especially since my running schedule is basically nonexistent at the moment. Then there's the Chicago Rock n Roll Half in August, and the Chicago Half in September. I a runner or a dreamer?

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New goal for life.... QUIT SUGAR. Not just the refined kinds, all kinds. I've had a sort of epiphany, if you can call it that. I used to think that dairy really caused my skin to flair up at random and unfortunate times. And while that's still somewhat true (my face literally swells if I eat milk products) -- I think the larger and more dominant culprit is sugar. I may have said this before, and I certainly knew this in the back of my mind. But now is the time to make a more conscious effort to quit the sugar. I didn't exactly stick to that plan during the Candida now that I'm slowing down and trying not to be as hyper about what I eat.... sugar is the next to get axed.

It's like breaking up with a no-good boyfriend. You know he's bad for you, but you just craaave his attention. Giving in to your heart's desire only worsens the addiction because his grip on you gets tighter still. Til you wake up one morning and hardly recognize the person you've did this happen? You spiral into a bout of denial and sorrow, maybe smoke a few cigarettes or eat some ice cream while you toil with your troubles. Oh if I could only change myself...or turn back time. But really, really...the root of your problems is HIM. Get rid of HIM. LEAVE ME ALONE SUGAR!

Ahhhh ha. Not that I have experience with no-good boyfriends, or sugar.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 44 - Anxious No More

Today is Tuesday and I don't feel anxious.

For the previous two weeks, I'll admit I was feeling jumpy and a little crazy about what I was allowing myself to eat, what I wanted to eat, and what I "couldn't have". So I think that contributed to my demise...guilt + anxiety + overeating.

Anyway, I woke up Monday and did some OnDemand Yoga, went to work, ate a couple pieces of fruit and a green shake. I had some lentil soup and salad for dinner. And I seriously feel peaceful for the first time in two weeks. I'm not obsessssing about the weight gain, as much. And I feel pretty well.

I'm off of the Candida Cleanse extracts and back on my regular supplement routine: Green shake, chlorella, vitamin C, mushroom supplement, zeolites and adrenal boost. I'm about to place an order on for a new Adrenal Health capsule, Mangosteen supplements (for hormonal health), and some cheap(ish) almond butter! Raw organic almond butter by Maranatha is $20 for a jar! This one is $12.99, yay! Yea I guess I could make it, but I haven't gotten that motivated yet.

Ok and check this out. I won't be purchasing this at the moment, because I am trying to break the sugar habit. But how awesome that this even exists:
RAWTELLA - Raw vegan chocolate hazelnut spread =D

Creative raw vegan foods make me happy, even if I won't be eating them yet. Hmm maybe I'll bring a jar to San Diego when I visit my nutella-fanatic friend.

Today is election day in Chicago, going to vote and then probably hit up Costco for some more organic salad mix. Tonight, just a sensible salad. I worked from home today so I munched more than I should've...



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 39 - Hot & Spicy Salad

I got the camera out again!

The week is going decently well. I wouldn't say I'm totally back on the raw wagon, but I'm getting there. And I'm feeling pretty good. A few of those excess weekend-pounds have fallen off, so I'm happy considering...

Tonight, D went out with a friend to watch the Bulls game, so I had the place to myself to engage in some serious cooking and cleaning =D We're lending our apartment to an out-of-town friend this weekend, while we're out in the suburbs dogsitting for my parents. So the apartment must be spic and span. I got a heck of a lot done in just about an hour and a half.

So about dinner. I decided I wanted some cooked vegetables, and cooked some quinoa to go with them. So in order to get those those raw veggies in, I put it all over a large bed of raw greens.
And thus is my creation: The Hot & Spicy Salad:

Here's a look at my mound of greens, so you can see that I didn't skimp on the most important part! (In my lovely handmade udon bowl courtesy of my talented cousin).
I didn't feel like making my regular "quinoa pilaf" so I just made about a cup of quinoa in 2 cups water, just like cooking rice. And it turned out to be the fluffiest batch I've ever made.
The final product: fresh vegetables sauteed in a little olive oil, veggie seasoning and a bit of hot sauce (jalapenos too) over fluffy quinoa and lots of fresh greens. It's like a stew and a salad in one.

Salad can warm the tummy too =D