Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Path To Health


It’s about to get real up in here, people.

If you don’t want to hear TMI from me, you should probably X out of this post now.  I know there are some people who read my blog that don’t care to know about the inner workings of my body, but there may be some people reading this that might have the same problems and need some guidance or direction. This post is for those people.

I stopped taking birth control in May of last year.

No, I’m certainly not trying to get pregnant, but I’ve been pumping hormones into my body since I was about 16. I am tired of it and I want my body to work the way nature intended it to. Without synthetic hormones.

With the help of the pill, I’ve essentially been menopausal since age 16.

I’ve gone off the pill once or twice before and both times, without fail, it takes several months for my body to re-regulate and get my period naturally and regularly again. This time around, it’s been over 8 months.

When I brought up the issue with my doctor last time this happened, he gave me some other type of hormone to kick start my body into the hormone-producing vesicle that it should be. I’m not so keen on that idea right now.

So, I spoke to an Ayurvedic specialist. What he told me was no surprise by any stretch of the imagination, but it did give me some rhyme and reason to what my body is trying to tell me. The beauty of Ayurveda (and most other forms of Eastern medicine) is that it is tailored to the individual. There is no “one size fits all” magic pill to make things in your body happen the way they are supposed to.

So, what is right for me may not be right for you. Just keep that in mind.


James said my overall constitution is Pitta/Vata, but I have a Vata imbalance. [Side note, I'll probably do a post more about this stuff later] Pitta is fire and Vata is air. Vata is aggravated by too much energy, too much stress, too much stimulation, and it’s manifested in a deficiency.  I’d say not getting my period since last June is a deficiency, wouldn’t you?

But it goes deeper than that. There is a hierarchy of body tissue in terms of how the tissues get nutrients; think of it as a series of filters – nutrients get sucked up by the top level of tissues and whatever is left finally gets to the bottom. It just so happens that reproductive tissue is at the bottom of that hierarchy.
This picture is en Espanol, but gives you a really good idea of the tissue hierarchy.

Pitta people tend to burn up nutrients (calories) very quickly because they’re so active.So, since I’m have a strong Pitta (fire) nature, I tend to burn through those nutrients before they have a chance to get to my reproductive tissues. They’re nutrient deficient…specifically, they’re probably iron deficient. Iron is incredibly important when it comes to reproductive functioning.

I haven’t had my blood tested lately, but I’d be willing to bet that I’m slightly anemic.

SO, in Ayurveda, you generally deal with these types of things with diet and exercise changes. For me, that means:
  • Eating more eggs.
  • Eating more butter.
  • Drinking more milk.
  • Eating red meat every once in a while.
  • Exercising in a more “lunar” way.
  • Overall, eat more protein and essential fatty acids – more hearty nutrients that can withstand all my fire and get down to those tissues that are lower in the hierarchy.
  • Make time to slow things down...as a general life statement.


It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but I am glad I spent the time to learn how to try to get my body back into balance in a natural way. One thing I have to stress again is that this is something that will, hopefully, work for me…but it may not be the answer for you. Each and every one of us is different. The same, but different.

If you’re having similar issues, I would strongly suggest you talk to someone who can tell you what will be helpful for you, as an individual. Shameless plug: James was amazing and he does Skype/FaceTime sessions. Worth it.

Wish me luck on this path to health!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Go Mustangs!!!!


I've made mention to it once or twice, but let it officially be known....I am coaching the Strongsville High School Girl's Lacrosse Team!!

I played lacrosse all four years of college and did a little coaching at Hoover High School when I first moved to Ohio. Now I'm going to be head coach of the girl's team at Strongsville. Very exciting, I know. I can see you jumping with excitement from here.

I've been doing all kinds of coaching training online and plan to take some coaching clinics that are put on my US Lacrosse eventually. One things I've learned is that I need a plan for the season and I need to set goals. Let's start with some goals (because we all know that writing them down and putting them out there will hold us accountable)
  1. Average less than 5 goals against per game: this means beefing up our defense big time. We'll need to have a solid settled defense and I want every single player to feel comfortable defending the goal.
  2. Average 7+ goals per game: I know lacrosse at the high school level is chock-full of "give the ball to the star player" types of offenses. A corollary to this goal, is having an even distribution of goals scored by all the attackers. 
  3. Win 80% of the draws: in the game of lacrosse, there is a golden rule "SHE WHO WINS THE DRAW, WINS THE GAME" and it is true in most games. You have to have the ball to score a goal, right? Makes sense.
  4. Zero red/yellow cards all season: if you get carded, it means you are not playing clean lacrosse 99% of the time. I have no tolerance for dirty play. 
  5. Make 75% of all free position shots: this will probably be the toughest one, you'd be surprised how many free shots on the goal can get botched. 
  6. Average 5 caused turnovers per game: BIG D! All this means is that we have a very strong defense and that we are hungry for the ball. 
Looking at the stats from last year, I think these goals are totally attainable (and SMART!) Sooo...wish me luck!

I am so excited for the season!
GO MUSTANGS!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tips for Lunch Break Workouts

Run at lunch. Seriously, do it. You'll thank me later.

Or, maybe don't run...

Maybe practice yoga

Or do a body weight circuit

Or a crossfit workout

Or walk around the parking lot

...just get moving!! I find that my lunch break time is best utilized when I'm moving and not sitting in front of my computer.

Yesterday at 11:59 I decided I wanted to run at lunch and it turned out to be a great idea. Exercising at lunch always allows me to get all my jitters out so I can focus through the rest of the afternoon. I can usually get in between 3 and 5 miles comfortably at lunch, without feeling rushed.

I even recorded a video of myself. Just for S's and G's. 

video

I keep a big bag full of different types of workout clothes in my car for any occasion that I embark on unplanned exercise at lunchtime. I do have a shower at work, but I rarely use it because I don't want to deal with wet hair at work. That, and it takes a while to shower, which takes away from workout time.

Becca's Tips for Exercising on Your Lunch Break:
Plan a short workout that won't leave you exhausted
Find a space that you feel comfortable in and won't be interrupted by coworkers
Keep workout clothes, shoes and deodorant in your car
Be flexible (a.k.a. the weather doesn't always cooperate)
Reward yourself (preferably with Girl Scout Cookies)
Have fun! It should be a no-pressure workout and you should be proud that you got away from your computer to move
and don't forget: bring a change of underwear!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles


Last week, I was craving Snickerdoodles. Not just any snickerdoodles either, but homemade, vegan snickerdoodles. 

Naturally, I spent all day trying to find a recipe that I could go home and make without going to the grocery store. 

I ended up buying Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar after finding a recipe for Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles on Post Punk Kitchen. Just thinking about these cookies made my mouth water.

If you're unfamiliar with "mexican chocolate", then you need to get in the know, STAT. It's chocolate spiced with cayenne and cinnamon and it's the most delicious way to have your chocolate. 

The possibilities are endless: 
  • mexican chocolate hot chocolate
  • mexican chocolate chocolate bars
  • mexican chocolate cookies
  • mexican chocolate brownies
  • mexican chocolate birthday cake
....I have to stop writing this list, it's making me crave mexican chocolate. 


Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles

by Peace, Love & Bagels
Keywords: bake dessert vegan cookie
Ingredients
    For the topping:
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    For the cookies:
    • 1/2 cup earth balance
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 2/3 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    Instructions
    Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 2 large baking sheets.
    In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together earth balance, sugar, syrup, and water. Mix in vanilla extract.
    Stir in remaining ingredients. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough...you may need to get your hands in there.
    Roll dough into tablespoon sized balls, refrigerate for half an hour.
    Mix sugar and cinnamon on a flat plate, place each ball individually into the sugar topping and flatten with a fork on each side, so the sugar sticks into the dough.
    Transfer to baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    The Second Chakra

    Let's go on a tour of the next of the seven major chakra in the chakra system

    The Sacral Charka -- Svadhisthana Chakra
    (click on the image for source)

    The second chakra is located at the level of your sacrum (from the front, about an inch and a half below your belly button). It is your creative center and it governs things like sexuality, sensuality, creativity and pleasure. Emotionally, it governs joy and enthusiasm. This chakra corresponds to the sexual organs (ovaries and testes) which secrete reproductive hormones like estrogen and testosterone. It can drive your spiritual and emotion connection with sexual function, money, and relationships.

    Manifestations of a second chakra blockage can come in the form of physical and emotion struggles, such as;
    • low back pain
    • urinary problems
    • loss of libido or incompetency
    • difficulty conceiving
    • relationship problems
    • difficulty defining boundaries
    • struggling with balancing whether to be assertive or passive
    •  feeling a lack of creativity in life
    • being out of touch with your feelings

    Svadhisthana Chakra color: orange

    If you're working on issues like this, you can unblock and balance your second chakra energy with physical, intellectual, or meditation exercises. You want to do things that give you freedom and openness in your pelvis with yoga poses like

    Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

    Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose/Cobbler's Pose)

    Upavistha Konasana (Wide Legged Forward Fold)

    Again, if asana isn't your style. Try some of these things:
    • Write a letter to yourself as if you were writing to your best friend. Make sure to outline as many positive things as you possibly can, you want to let the recipient of this letter know how highly you think of them.
    • Meditate on the time in your life between the ages of 4 and 8. Bring all the events (especially adverse ones) into your mind's eye and resolve to forgive them. Do the same with the people associated with those events. Understand that these things happened to help you learn something about yourself and your relationship with others. Appreciate those people for being your teachers and allowed you to learn from them.
    • Look up and try a few guided meditations for the second chakra.


    To learn about the first chakra, check out my first chakra post:

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    I am


    It's not a secret that I've been struggling to find my balance between being a yogi and being a runner. I purposely left the title of this post open ended so I don't have to call myself one or the other. I'm neither and I'm both, all at the same time.

    Hmm, did I get too philosophical on you there? Sorry, I've been studying the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads all weekend. It had me thinking a lot about not being attached to results. Just be here.

    Now.


    Jess wrote a great post last week about how you're still a runner, even if you don't run marathons. That's a thought I can 100% get behind. Running is taking a backseat in my life, and that's okay. It doesn't make me any less of a runner. Even though it's still a huge part of me and I will take the opportunities to get out for a run when I can, running is not a priority for me right now. 

    That's why I'm not going to commit to running any of the races on my 2012 wishlist.

    That doesn't mean I won't run any races, I'm just not adding training for a long race to my already overloaded schedule. I don't want to add the stress of feeling like I have to get out there and run. While I may decide at the last minute to participate in a shorter distance, I'm not going to plan for it. Getting out for a run just isn't always an option, but I'll take what I can get when I can get it.

    So runners, please don't abandon me because I'm not posting my marathon training updates like everyone else is. My inner runner is still in there, it's just a few layers beneath the yogi, the lacrosse coach, the fiance, and the engineer.

    This is why I'm not just a runner. I just am.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Healthy Substitutions: Baking

    I love baking. It's like an art form. Technically, you're supposed to follow the recipes exactly...


    OR ELSE!

    While, most of the time, this is very very true -- forgetting the baking soda, or adding more than a pinch of salt could spell disaster -- there are a few substitutions you can make to healthy-up that next batch of muffins or cookies.  Let's talk healthy baking substitutions.


    Whole wheat flour for white flour -- let's start with the basics. If you're still using enriched, bleached, white-as-snow flour, you're missing out on a lot of good nutrients and fiber. Whole wheat flour includes the outer shell of the grain, so the texture will be a bit more coarse than white flour but you can substitute whole wheat for white flour in a 1:1 ratio. I do all of my baking with whole wheat flour unless I'm going for a really traditional feel (and as you probably know, traditional isn't really my MO).

    Avocado puree for butter -- this is a good vegan substitute. If you're looking to cut out fat, this isn't the way to go, but avocados have all the great things that other fruits and veggies have and butter doesn't. Avocados have pretty much the same consistency as butter at room temperature and can be subbed in a 1:1 ratio. Avocados have a subtle flavor that goes really well in brownies or chocolate puddings, just know that you may taste a slight hint of 'cado in a cookie recipe!

    "Flax eggs" for eggs -- 1 regular egg = 1 flax egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water, mixed and allowed to set/gel for about 10 minutes. For cookies and muffins, they will add a boost of omega-3's and some extra fiber, but I might shy away from recipes that really use the eggs to be a sticking agent. Flax eggs just aren't as sticky as regular eggs.

    Unsweetened applesauce for butter or oil -- I've successfully used applesauce in place of oil in a 1:1 ratio. If you use it to replace butter, it can get a little tricky because you'll have to add a bit more of the dry ingredients to offset the extra moisture in the app'sauce. I would suggest replace up to 3/4 of the butter in a recipe with apple sauce to start. Don't forget to reduce sugar if you use sweetened applesauce.

    Mashed bananas for butter -- bananas can definitely be subbed in for butter to reduce fat in a recipe and add some extra potassium and vitamin B, but they definitely add sweetness, so cut down on the sugar the recipe calls for if you do this. Sub in a 1:1 ratio.

    Vanilla for sugar -- adding an extra couple of teaspoons of vanilla and cutting the sugar in half in a recipe is an easy way to reduce calories in a recipe without sacrificing sweetness. If you're wary of this, start by cutting the sugar by 1/4 and only adding one extra teaspoon of vanilla.

    Turbinado sugar/sucanat/blackstrap molasses for white sugar -- here's another back to basics suggestion. You lose a lot of the good stuff in the processing of white sugar (much like white flour!) As a general rule, go for less processed ingredients of any kind and you'll get the added benefit of fiber which helps those calories metabolize more slowly in your body.

    Cacao nibs for chocolate chips -- here's that golden rule again, less process ingredients are healthier! Cacao nibs don't have all the added sugar that chocolate chips do, so by default they won't taste as sweet, but they're a good stand in if you want to cut out some sugar.

    There are so many more, but at the risk of making this post unbearable to read, I will spare you. What healthier substitutes do you use for baking?

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Worth Talking About: iTunes


    Since I spend a lot of time in my car – my commute is 45+ minutes, one way – I love using that time to learn. I started listening to a few audio books, but my MO is usually to spend that time listening to NPR and getting caught up on my news. Well, sometimes the news is boring.

    Until a few weeks ago, I was totally unaware of all the amazing things that iTunes does. It’s way more than just a quick way to purchase music.  

    Take yoga for an example. It’s not cheap to continually buy class passes at yoga studios, even if you splurge on the annual pass (which usually affords you deep discounts) then you're limited to one studio for the whole year. Not that that's a bad thing, it's just nice to experience yoga in different environments and from different teachers. Plus, that annual pass isn't portable if you have to travel.

    Enter: iTunes free podcasts

    Search for whatever type of yoga you feel like practicing and you're likely to find a podcast of a class. All for free! Plus, it's totally portable! I've taken advantage of this in my hotel room when I travel, or even when I'm at home and don't want to leave the house for a yoga class.

    Then, what if you hear about something that you want to learn more about? Usually, you google it right? What if you could listen to a college lecture about it? You can do it with iTunes U!


    After our YTT anatomy weekend, I wanted to learn more about Chinese Medicine...looked it up on iTunes and found a whole series of lectures from courses at UCLA! How cool, right?! I can't imagine how much it costs per credit hour to take a class at UCLA, but on iTunes U, I can learn for free. Better yet, I can listen anywhere! So, when listening to NPR gets boring, I have been utilizing my commute time to learn about something new.

    I am totally enamored with iTunes and have been using it for just about everything lately. Have you explored all that iTunes has to offer?


    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Avocadeggs


    I hope you all know by now that one of my favorite foods of all time is the avocado. To be perfectly honest, I could probably live on nothing but avocados for the rest of my life if I had to. 

    I saw the idea for this breakfast early last week on Pinterest, made it for breakfast on Saturday...then made it again for breakfast on Sunday. If I could manage to get myself to wake up a little bit earlier during the week, I'd probably make it every day of the week. It's that good.


    I guess you could call me an avocado monster. I should be living in a warmer climate. If I did, I'd work on an avocado farm. 

    So, if you're an avo-monster like me, you have to try this breakfast. I expect a full report on my desk next Monday. 

    Avocadeggs

    by Peace, Love & Bagels
    Prep Time: 2 minutes
    Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
    Keywords: pan-fry breakfast vegetarian avocado summer all seasons

    Ingredients (serves 2)
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • 2 eggs
    • salt + pepper
    • garlic powder
    • paprika flakes
    • chopped basil
    Instructions
    Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit.
    Slice the avocado in half again, making the cut parallel to your first cut...not as if you're going to quarter it. The hole left by the pit should go all the way through your slice of avo. If it doesn't use a knife or a small cookie cutter to cut a hole out of the center of the avocado.
    In an oiled skillet over medium-low heat, place the avocados onto the skillet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
    Crack an egg into the middle of each avocado, Sprinkle with paprika flakes and chopped basil. Cover the skillet and cook until the egg whites are opaque.
    Enjoy with your favorite hot sauce.
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    Monday, February 6, 2012

    our home improvements list is 10 years long

    After lacrosse practice on Sunday, Brandon and I headed over to the IX Center for the Great Big Home and Garden Expo.  We managed to get out without buying any of the gimmicky knick-knacks that many exhibitors were selling -- although I really wanted this thing that picks up dog hair like MAGIC. What we did leave with was a list of home improvements for the house.

    A hot tub, for instance. 

    Some highlights for me from the expo:
    The Ferris wheel. Although we didn't ride it. I was worried that Brandon would get sick on it :)

    Brandon in a Toy Story hat.

    The many other hats on display.

    I'll let you in on a little secret, if you want to woo Brandon, play a handmade instrument for him. He's a sucker for them.

    I want this chair for my backyard. There's even a beverage holder within arm's reach.

    Thus, we left the expo with a bunch of new home improvement plans that are bound to take us the next ten years. But, I'd say it was a great way to celebrate my first week as a homeowner. 

    You can still get to the expo if you want to, it runs from February 4-12. When you buy tickets online, you automatically get $3 off and if you enter the promo code PEACE, you'll get another $1 off admission...just for being a PL&B reader! Click here to buy tickets online.

    How long is your list of home improvement projects?

    Full disclosure...I was asked by the Great Big Home and Garden Show to promote the upcoming event. In exchange, I receive 2 general admission tickets


    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Good Karma Friday

    It is said that you have a storehouse of karma that you carry with you in life. If you are walking down the street and you stub your toe on a rock, that is because of old karma stored in that storehouse. If you are walking down the street and you choose to kick a rock but it hurts your toe, that is new karma that will go into your storehouse for later.

    In honor of my new good karma Friday tradition, I want to send as much GOOD karma to that karma storehouse as I possibly can. These are my picks for the week:

    (1) The TSA worker at the airport in Philly who put a smiley face on my boarding pass. He put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. See? A smile can get you all the way from Philly to Cleveland.

    (2) Maria is giving away a scholarship for street yoga training. Street Yoga is definitely something worth getting involved in, and it's awesome that Maria is going to help somebody be a part of it.

    (3) My friends who want to support Brandon's music as much as I do! I've been totally floored by the outpouring of support...even if it's just a "I hope there's a good turnout at his show". It means so much to me and I know it means the world to him. Oh, and on that note...

    FireSide Symphony will be at Dewey's Coffee Shop in Shaker Square tonight at 7:30 pm! So if you're in the area, pop on in for a hot cocoa or a coffee and enjoy some amazing live music.  


    Happy Weekend, my lovelies!

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Wednesday things

    1. I'm waiting for my plane back home to Cleveland (from Philly). The TSA worker who checked my ID at the security gate drew a smiley face on my boarding pass because I smiled at him and asked how his morning was. Note to self: smile more often, they're contagious!!

    2. When I get back to work, I'm going to have a meeting with my new boss about beginning responsibilities in my new job. I'm excited! I am moving from R&D into Quality, for those of you who had any idea what that means. It is definitely time for a new challenge and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

    3. Lacrosse practices start in 27 days. I have a lacrosse field clipboard and a whistle, so it's official. I'm a real coach. Go Mustangs!!

    I'll be back in Cleveland soon, excited to be home!
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