Tag Archives: tuesday

Health & Wellness Tuesday: Meatless Monday


Have you all heard of this movement?!  I think it is a FANTASTIC idea!  I always thought that I’d have to be a full-on vegetarian to truly derive it’s benefits but I recently learned that is not true.  Just ONE day a week without meat can have a positive effect on your health – hence the Meatless Monday movement.

The most important thing to me is to be provided with recipes to help me remain satisfied the whole day and their website provides plenty for you!  Breakfast and lunch are easy but once dinner hits… that’s where I need help and I would imagine most of you do as well.

I saw a segment on 60 minutes a few months ago which featured Chef Jose Andres’ new restaurant (if you can call it that as their are only 6 seats) called “minibar” located in Washington D.C.  He’s quite a personality and I found that his opinion about the taste of meat made a lot of sense.  He said, “Well, meat to me, it’s slightly boring. Hold on, I love meat too but only once in a while. You get a piece of meat and you put it in your mouth, you chew, the first five seconds, all the juices flow around your mouth, they’re gone, and then you are 20 more seconds chewing something that is tasteless at this point. Something like this doesn’t happen with a pineapple, an asparagus, or a green pea.”  You can read the whole article and watch the full segment here.

Chris Elam is the Program Director for Meatless Monday and he has posted several interesting blogs on his page at The Huffington Post.  I suggest checking them out if you are at all interested in trying this because he has some very convincing points about the subject and provides additional recipes.

Given that it’s Tuesday and I had a big, juicy hamburger for dinner last night, I’ll have to start my Meatless Mondays NEXT week but I look forward to giving this a try!  Let me know if any of you attempt it and how it goes for you!

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Health & Wellness Tuesday: Shakti Mat

I can’t remember how I heard about this thing as I am currently signed up for way too many e-newsletters letting me know about great deals on various items I might want to purchase.  But, I heard about it nonetheless… bought it… let it sit for about 6 months… then finally used it the other day and it’s…. interesting.

What is it?  It’s a Shakti Mat.  It’s a slightly less painful version of an Indian bed of nails (and I use the word “slightly” very deliberately here).  As you can see from the photo above it’s covered with little plastic, sharp-as-hell, discs that once lied upon will help with your circulation and provide a whole host of additional benefits.  It comes with an instruction manual that says 55 minutes of lying on this mat in different positions is equivalent to a yoga class.  And I’m all about deriving the benefits of exercise without having to actually exercise.

I was a little nervous because if you lightly tap one of these white, plastic discs with your finger it feels REALLY sharp.  But I went with it assuming that anything sold to the masses can’t be too malicious.  And I have to say on a scale of 1 to 10… 10 being it penetrates the skin so forget this crap… it was at about an 8 for me.  The manual tells you that “warm, tingly, pulsating sensations will quickly replace the slight discomfort you may feel when you begin using your Shakti Mat.”  SLIGHT discomfort?  Okay, if that’s what you want to call it fine.  I’ll just call George Clooney and tell him that I’m SLIGHTLY interested in meeting him for a drink later.

I tried three different positions and I wasn’t able to complete the full 10 minutes during one position because I just couldn’t take it.  But I’m stubborn so I stuck with it during the remaining two positions because I did feel the warm, pulsating sensation they mentioned and it was invigorating.  But trying to relax while lying on a bed of plastic nails isn’t exactly how I would define “relaxing”.  It was more like a tolerating-because-I-spent-forty-bucks-on-this-thing type of relaxing.

I haven’t given up on this yet because they say you’re of course going to be more sensitive in the beginning.  And I’m intrigued because I did feel very relaxed after it was all over.  Although, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do the position where I place each side of my face on the mat.  Don’t need to mess with the face.  And I don’t see me smiling while I’m lying there like the pretty blond woman is in the manual.

I’m not necessarily recommending this mat but if you’re intrigued you should check out the website link above and read about the many benefits and possibly give it a go!  If you have any recurring pain at all it could be helpful.  Also, one thing I really like is that the mats are made in Varanasi, India and their employees are all women who “enjoy good wages, decent working hours, meals and physician care”.  And they’re planning to establish a foundation which will build new schools and orphanages in the Himalaya Mountain regions.  So that’s always a good company to support.  Whether they’re in the business of selling pain or pleasure.

Health & Wellness Tuesday: Get Back into the Groove

I was in a healthy groove for awhile and was feeling great but have fallen out of it the past month.  It started with my road trip to Denver where it was really hard to stick with healthy food as I drove through places like Kentucky and Kansas.  Not a whole lot of organic restaurants at Exit 256 on I-70.  Then, I tried to keep up with my protein shakes while I was in a hotel trying to find an apartment but again… it was tough.  Then, I found an apartment and started getting back into the groove but then I just went home to Atlanta and ate KFC, fries, pizza, candy, soda, etc. and I feel so gross.

It’s not easy to get into a healthy groove.  It takes constant discipline.  It does get easier once you’ve shed a little weight and 30 minutes of exercise doesn’t make you want to faint anymore.  You get addicted in a way to the positive results and to feeling better.  But even if you get into it there’s always the chance that you’ll lose that lovin’ yourself feeling and go for the Cheetos and ice cream instead.

The point of my rambling is to say that it’s OKAY.  It’s almost impossible to always avoid the bad stuff.  Especially in the states when it’s in your face everywhere you go.  When you’re ready just get back into it but don’t beat yourself up.  I’m starting again tomorrow and I can’t wait because I’m ready!!!

Health & Wellness Tuesday: Bone Marrow Donation

A couple of months ago, my aunt mentioned that she wanted to do something to give back to society since she has been so fortunate in her own life.  She thought signing up to be a bone marrow donor would be a nice start but she soon found out she’s too old.  Apparently, once you’re over 60 years old nobody wants your stuff anymore.  But she suggested I sign up… so I did.

I always joke that once I make a lot of money… only THEN I will become philanthropic and get involved in more charity/non-profit work.  After all, I gotta feed myself first.  But I do feel guilty about this line of thinking given how easy my life has been thus far (knocking on wood as I’m typing this).  Signing up to be a bone marrow donor seemed to be the perfect solution and it was so easy.  I went to the National Marrow Donor Program website, confirmed that I qualify and had them send me a registration kit.  Once I received the kit, I took a swab of the inside of my mouth and mailed the soggy Q-tips back to them.  Soon after, I received word that I am now in their registry!

I may never been called to donate but it feels good knowing that I could potentially, some day, save someone’s life by doing something that is no skin off my back.  The majority of donations do not involve surgery.  Today, the procedure that is typically done is a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical and you go home the same day.  There can be short-lived side effects of donating due to a drug you take for five days leading up to the donation.  You may have headaches, joint or muscle aches, or fatigue but you’re back to feeling 100% in 1-2 days.  During the procedure, you receive general or regional anesthesia so there’s no pain and only a little soreness in your lower back afterward.

Unfortunately, I don’t know that I’ll ever be called to duty because I’m a white female with the most common blood type: O+.  Who they really need are people of different ethnic backgrounds and rarer blood types.

No matter what your ethnicity or blood type is though, consider joining the registry.  What a small price to pay to save someone’s life.

Health & Wellness Tuesday: Born To Run

Even if you’re not a runner, I highly recommend this book.  It was recommended to me by a friend and now I’m passing the word to all of you.  Below is a brief synopsis from Amazon.com:

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

Christopher McDougall is a great writer… very witty… and this book is a race from the first page.  This book also made me mad though because I felt like such a sucker for buying into the marketing genius behind the modern running shoe.  You believe people when they tell you you need MORE support, MORE cushion.  WRONG!  I ran the ING New York Marathon a few years ago and my knees are really messed up and now it’s spreading to my hips.  If I had this information back then I wouldn’t be all messed up now.

If you run at all (even a casual jog a couple times a week) or you’re thinking about starting to run to get into shape then you NEED to read this book.  Running should be fun and pain-free.  Like when you were a kid!  And with a few slight adjustments to your running form and footwear… it’s possible.  Why are the Ethiopians such great runners?  Surely, growing up they typically don’t have access to the $150 Nike’s we have.  So what’s the deal?

I just moved to Denver and there’s a huge REI store here that offers all sorts of free classes and they just had one called “Born To Run” and it’s based on the whole idea of barefoot running.  I went and was even more convinced that this is the way to go.  I bought the presenter, Michael Sandler’s, book “Barefoot Running” and also bought some Vibram Five Finger shoes (which are featured in “Born To Run”) and I can’t wait to try them out!  I’m a person who actually LIKES to run and I miss it.  My hope is that my injuries will correct themselves once I run the way my body was built to run.

Your feet are comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments.  Your foot muscles need to be worked just like all the other muscles in your body.  If you have tons of cushiony support from a shoe then guess what?  You’re not working the muscles and they can atrophy (just like if you wore a cast on your arm for a couple months – your arm is protected but your muscle fades) and that’s when injuries occur.

The idea isn’t to go around barefoot all the time like a bushman.  That’s impossible.  But according to this theory… when running… it’s best to go with as little support as possible and if you can… totally barefoot.  I must admit the idea of running barefoot conjures up images of stepping on a pieces of broken glass or worse… but I’ll start out very slowly… 100 yards… then 200 yards… and I’ll be hyper aware of where I’m stepping.  Then soon enough, I’ll be so familiar with the path I run I’ll know every little nook and cranny of it and will have no problem avoiding any bad stuff.  Although, I’m going to use my Vibram’s first and also try running on a popular bike path which is usually pretty clean.

Okay, I could go on and on about this topic but I’ll stop here for now.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this.  I’d love to answer them!

Health & Wellness Tuesday: Quinoa

I get frustrated with new health studies because just when I think I have most of the knowledge I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle someone will come out and say something that proves otherwise.  Or they’ll qualify it by saying, “Don’t eat ROASTED almonds.  Eat RAW almonds.”  Okay… good to know.  Or that too MUCH fish oil is bad for you.  Okay, so maybe I don’t need those supplements.  Too much information becomes confusing to me.  So I got to a point where I decided to stop learning and just go with what I know now with the mindset of, “Eh, it won’t kill me.”

But then someone told me to eat quinoa instead of brown rice and at first I rolled my eyes but after learning about it I feel the need to spread the word!  I am all about quinoa!  Despite the fact that it has been a major crop in South America for over 6,000 years, I had no idea what it was until a year ago.  Pronounced “KEEN-wah” it’s technically a seed that grows in the Andean region but once cooked it resembles a grain and is therefore called a “pseudograin”.  I now eat this instead of brown rice.  Not that brown rice is bad for you.  It’s still good but quinoa has been dubbed the “Mother of all Grains” due to it’s incredible nutritional content.  It has the same nutritional content as brown rice and them some.  Below are a few things it has over brown rice:

*Highest protein content of any grain at 12% – 18%
*Gluten-free so easy to digest
*High in magnesium and iron which helps maintain and build muscle
*Contains enough lysine to qualify as a complete protein.  Lysine is one of the nine essential amino acids you must get from your diet
*Contains potassium and folate (one of the B vitamins)

The taste is slightly nutty but similar to rice so it has lots of possibilities.  When I make it as a side dish I like to add a dollop (one of my favorite words) of lemon flavored olive oil and some sliced almonds and dried cranberries or cherries.  Yum!  Or I put it in a bowl and add baked veggies and some cut up chicken or fish and a little soy sauce.  I even read a great idea on Wikipedia to use it as a breakfast food by adding honey, almonds and berries!  Add it to salads too!

It’s easy to cook.  One cup of quinoa with two cups of water.  Bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 12-15 minutes.  That’s it!  Below is what it looks like before and after it’s cooked.  All the grocery stores carry this stuff.  You probably just never noticed it before.  It’s light, fluffy and has a little tail sticking out so it looks a little funny but just ignore that and enjoy!

Health & Wellness Tuesday: Food, Inc.

I pretty much grew up on a diet of frozen chicken chunks and curly-q french fries.  Despite my mom’s efforts to get us to eat healthy she was battling 3 picky kids (and a picky husband) while trying to prepare 3 square meals a day for all of us.  It was understandably a bit much so she – like all moms I knew – frequently succumbed to the temptation of quick, easy, microwaveable, processed meals.  Dinner’s ready in 10 minutes!  Woo hoo!

I then went to college and was proud of myself that I learned how to make Hamburger Helper.  I thought this was healthy.  It certainly tasted good.  I also learned how to pour Prego spaghetti sauce out of a jar into a pan and heat it up.  I also cooked the pasta.  Again, I was proud of this new skill.  The fact that I had to use TWO pots made it seem like I was really cooking.  Combine these meals with all the beer I was consuming and I was lookin’ good!

THEN I moved to LA.  I learned all about organic this and vegetarian that.  Agave syrup, what?  Carob, huh?  It was a whole new world.  I knew I wanted to treat my body better but even when I was armed with the information needed to do so it was always a struggle for me.  I would be good for a few months then slip back into my old ways and wouldn’t care about it for a few months.  Then I would feel gross and go back to caring again.

I am 35 years old and I finally feel like I’ve turned a real corner.  I watched the documentary, Food, Inc., and read a book by Michael Pollan called “Omnivore’s Dilemna”.  After both reading the book, then watching the documentary I decided enough was enough.  Please don’t be scared of the movie.  It’s not gory and it’s not about lecturing you and making you feel bad about what happens to animals on the farm before they end up in the grocery store.  Meat is great!  It’s intent is to educate us all about the state of food in America so that we can make an informed decision about what we want to put into our body.

I’ll stop here for today by recommending that you see the documentary (it’s on most “Video on Demand” cable services right now or you can rent it on iTunes) and/or read Michael Pollan’s book (he has others as well).  JUST to educate yourself as a first step.  In subsequent Tuesdays, I’ll talk about the changes I’ve made and how you can do the same once you decide you’re ready.  The biggest step is saying, “Okay, I’m ready to make a change.”

-Poster from the documentary with a few tidbits of information