Friday, April 23, 2010

California Food & Fitness

I just returned from an amazing trip to California.  I spent most of my time in Santa Monica and Palm Springs.  I was excited because I was staying at The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica which is right across from one of the most amazing spas, Exhale Spa, where I attended two of the hardest Core Fusion exercise classes I have ever taken in my life. I literally felt my body being whipped into shape!  I also couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a 90-minute ashtanga yoga class at Bryan Kest's Power Yoga studio right on Santa Monica Boulevard.  I have done his DVDs for years, but to actually be in his studio was incredible.  The calmness of his energy and presence is like no other.

As for food, I was in heaven as organic restaurants were readily available on practically every block.  I ate a few meals at Real Food Daily on Santa Monica Boulevard, which was within walking distance from my hotel.  Much to my surprise, my favorite meal from RFD was called the Real Food Meal consisting of brown rice, steamed kale, marinated seaweed (who knew I would love seaweed so much!), an Asian cole slaw, and steamed vegetables with some delicious peanut sauce.  Mmmm, mmm good!  Twice I also ordered their Sweet Green Juice, which is freshly-juiced cucumber, celery, parsley, and spinach juices with a splash of apple juice (best when ordered with a double-dose of apple juice).  It was a perfect after-yoga replenisher!  I also checked out M Cafe on Melrose Avenue (try their yummy brown-rice-and-veggie burger, The Big Macro) and Urth Caffe on Main Street.
I tried to refrain from doing too much shopping in LA, but it was fun browsing at Lululemon, (a yoga-inspired atheletic apparel store I first discovered in Whistler, British Columbia on my honeymoon a number of years ago), Kitson (a Hollywood go-to boutique on Robertson Avenue), and Lush (a scrumptious skin and body care store).

I was thrilled to discover that my trip renewed my passion for exercising at a level outside of my comfort zone and pushing myself to become The Best Me that I can be, both from a dietary and fitness standpoint.  It was just the jump-start I needed to head into the upcoming Spring and Summer seasons.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time for Spring Cleaning

This weekend, I felt in dire need of a spring cleaning.  Not of my house... of my body.  On Saturday night, I decided to do a quick cleanse that releases the toxins and matter out of your bowels.  I have done this particular cleanse before with positive results.  I used a product called Oxy-Powder, which is basically oxygenated magnesium, with a few other natural ingredients added in.  Magnesium is a natural diuretic, and in fact, is the main ingredient in "milk of magnesia".  It totally cleans out your bowels by pushing the matter out - and, let me tell you, (this might be too much information) but there always is a lot of matter to be pushed out! 

Once my bowels were clean, I wanted to be very thoughtful about what I put back into them again.  The first thing I did was to take 2 probiotic capsules to increase the "good" bacteria in my gut. We all have millions of bacteria in our gut, much of which is considered "good" bacteria that are completely necessary for "eating up" the toxins and waste, and which help with elimination.  The "bad" bacteria in our guts are what multiply when we eat sugar and processed wheat, flour, etc. The goal is to feed your body healthy foods so that you can multiply the "good" bacteria and enable the proper absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.  The "good" bacteria are also responsible for keeping our immunity high - they are very, very important to our good health.

For breakfast, I ate steel-cut oatmeal (which has lots of fiber) and blueberries (which have lots of antioxidants and vitamins) and a touch of agave nectar (for sweetness). I am a snacker so I had a mid-morning snack of plain greek yogurt  (which has twice the amount of protein than regular yogurt) with 2 tablespoons of sugar-free apricot preserves (100% fruit) and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed (I buy it pre-ground).  I commonly eat greek yogurt for breakfast, but it is good as a snack too.  For lunch, I had a piece of Ezekiel bread (toasted) with a tablespoon of almond butter on top and some green grapes.  My afternoon snack consisted of a banana and a handful of unsalted, mixed nuts.  For dinner, my husband grilled beef tenderloin (which has very low fat) and I made baked crispy kale (so easy - chopped up kale sprinkled with olive oil and sea salt, baked at 300* for 20 minutes, then sprinkled with balsamic vinegar).  Kale is full of B vitamins and fiber, and it gets crispy when it bakes - it's delicious!

I am feeling better and more energetic now that my body has been cleaned out.  I do love that the act of "spring cleaning" makes me more aware and thoughtful of what types of foods I put into my body.  Lately, I am not as concerned with the calorie count, and more concerned with the quality of the foods.  If I listen to my body, it tells me when it is full.  I just have to keep paying attention to it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eating Clean at Home and Away

I can't believe it is April already.  March just blew by.  I went to Florida for a week for work in mid-March, and would you believe that I ate good, nutritious food the entire time.  I always think that when I travel I will have a hard time finding healthy, clean food at airports, hotels, and on the run.  Yet, I think that it was precisely because I was not at home that I deliberately sought out healthy food.   It wasn't hard either.  I found a Publix grocery store in Sarasota for lunch one day where I bought fresh, super-ripe, delicious pineapple slices, hard-boiled eggs, and a spinach salad.  At the JFK airport, I was thrilled to find Cibo Express Gourmet Market where I bought sun-dried tomato hummus and pita, greek yogurt, strawberries and grapes.  Later, I found a Starbucks where I ordered a Strawberry Vivanno Smoothie (which, by the way, has 280 calories, protein AND fruit).  Eating at restaurants was easy too.  We went to a steakhouse and I ordered a nice, small filet served with asparagus and a salad.  I ate lunch at a couple of country clubs as well and just ordered big salads with grilled chicken. 

It reminded me that if I don't have sugar, sweets or junk food around me, I simply don't eat it.  Even at home, my husband and I don't have many unhealthy snacks in our cupboards.  We mostly snack on foods like fruit, yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, and string cheese. We may have some tortilla chips (but only ingredients in them are corn, vegetable oil and salt - we just have to watch portion sizes) to eat with heart-healthy Wholly Guacamole.  Sometimes, we have a homemade chocolate chip cookie or two, but I have noticed that I seem to crave sweets more at home than when I am traveling.  Probably daily stress that we carry around, or maybe due to years and years of having a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV after dinner - a hard habit to break.  I have to say that I don't do that much anymore, fortunately, but I still find myself having sweet cravings from time to time.  I am sure it is because I know that sweets are readily available if I want them that badly.  I know where I can find them at the store and I know it is only a short drive to get there.  When I travel, I am less aware of where sweets lurk.  Even becoming aware of this fact has made a big difference to me.

At home, I am trying to cook and bake more, most recently from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno.  (Love her!) Over the weekend, I made her (vegan) protein bars with oats, protein powder, olive oil, canola oil, dark chocolate, flaxseed, and oat bran - so perfect for breakfast!  I also made the homemade applesauce, and I have tabbed about 20 recipes to make in the future. As the weather warms and the days grow longer, I am eager to come home from work and exercise with my husband and then make a nice clean meal to eat together.