Maintenance Mode

              Photo credit: Hello Fresh

Finally. A follow-up, right? Long overdue, I know.

After my last post, many of y’all messaged me…or asked me in person to write about what I DO EAT since I shared all the things I eliminated… which apparently led some to believe I simply exist on air and sunshine, like the plants I consume. However, that’s definitely not the case. So I will try to make this brief, as not to lose anyone’s attention with unnecessary expository information. I will include some photos though, so it has some aesthetic appeal! But first, a couple of reminders:

  1. If you missed the original post documenting the drastic body transformation that resulted from my quest to simply FEEL BETTER, you can read it here.
  2. DISCLAIMER: The information I provided in the first post, as well as this one, is simply what works for me, and I share it with the hopes of helping others who may have similar issues to my own. There is no guarantee it will work for everyone, but perhaps it could serve as a jumping off point. After all, you have to start somewhere, right? That being said, it was done entirely ON MY OWN, without the supervision of a doctor or nutritionist. I just researched, and flew by the seat of my Lulus 😉

Now, to answer the question of what I consume on a regular basis, to help me support a healthy weight, as well as maintain energy to exercise, and the clarity of mind to function as a busy mom to The Beans. It’s actually rather simple, believe it or not, and there is A LOT of variety as long as you are aware of what your body can and cannot tolerate with respect to digestion. And I don’t spend every waking moment in the kitchen, which is a bonus!

An average day for me, food wise, goes something like this:

BREAKFAST: black coffee, some avocado toast, sprinkled with nutritional yeast and a piece of fruit to go with it.

LUNCH: This varies, depending on whether I’ve cooked the night before, or if I decide to have lunch out somewhere. If I am void of a lunch meeting and don’t have any leftovers, I usually pop into my local Starbucks and pick up one of these precious gems, pictured below. Completely vegan, already prepared, and packed with 23 grams of protein. I am not really a fan of the dressing that comes with it, so I usually bring it home and use Daiya Vegan Blue Cheese dressing. Super yummy, I promise! But if you are not a blue cheese fan, there are many other dressings you can choose from, that still adhere to the dairy-free rule I follow NO MATTER WHAT. 

 

DINNER: My favorite thing to prepare at home is vegan soft tacos using either Beyond Beef or Gardein brand soy crumbles with taco seasoning added, stuffed into whole wheat tortillas and topped with Tofutti brand, vegan sour cream, Daiya Shredded Cheddar “Cheese” (vegan), diced tomatoes, black beans, shredded lettuce and sliced avocado. Recently, I have added the black beans into the “meat”, along with a can of diced tomatoes and green chiles and that works well. Since my family does not adhere to the same dietary restrictions as I, it’s necessary to prepare taco seasoned ground turkey, and have real sour cream, as well as real cheese for them. That way, everyone is happy! When I cook this particular meal, I always make enough of the “meat” to last for a few meals, so I can enjoy it for lunch or dinner a couple of days in a row.

Another dinner favorite at our house is chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and either oven roasted broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus. An added bonus for this meal is that everyone eats it, without any other “real” meat having to be prepared. Why? Because my whole family actually prefers the “chicken nuggets” by Morning Star, to the real chicken nuggets by other companies. And I make the mashed potatoes with Earth Balance Vegan Butter, and roast the veggies with coconut oil & Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning Blend. It’s a win-win. Unfortunately, there are rarely leftovers…lol.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to y’all if I failed to disclose that I am NOT completely vegan, although I consume very few foods derived from sources with a face. That being said, I still consume fish. Mainly sushi, or sashimi when we go out, but also baked fish at home from time to time. Normally, it’s orange roughy or wild caught Alaskan salmon if I can find it at the market. If not, depending on the source, I will settle for tilapia. Usually I serve this with brown rice, a green salad, and another vegetable everyone likes.

We also go out to dinner…more than we should, if I’m being honest… and here is a list of MY favorite vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area. Sorry to those folks who live in other places, as I cannot speak to the choices y’all have nearby. That being said, here are my top establishments, with links to their sites:

  1. Flore Vegan (Silver Lake, CA)
  2. Sage Vegan Bistro (2 locations: Culver City and Echo Park)
  3. Gracias Madre (West Hollywood/Beverly Hills adjacent)
  4. Stuff I Eat (Inglewood, CA)
  5. Cafe Gratitude (Larchmont Village, CA)
  6. Native Foods Cafe (Westwood, CA)

In addition to all the aforementioned foods I listed above, there are a few things I also obsess over and try to consume every day. These include: plain filtered or electrolyte infused water, organic coconut water, and raw almonds. I also take a daily probiotic, a multi-vitamin, a biotin capsule and a Vitamin D supplement. Oh, and my guilty pleasure? Cold brew coffee from Starbucks with vanilla and coconut milk. So I’m human. Sue me!

Are you wondering about exercise yet? Well, there is only one thing I do: weekly Reformer Pilates classes. My bestie is a master instructor, and owns CLARA’S ROOM in Montrose, California. That’s the secret to the definition of my muscles, and the source of my strength. Also, it’s my happy place 🙂 Lucky for you local folks, she has graciously allowed me to extend a special offer! If you contact the studio HERE and mention CALIBAMAMOM you can get $50 off a package of 10 specialty classes! Normally this is $250, however with this offer, as a new client, you’ll only pay $200. And let me tell you…it’s worth every penny. Just look at the shots below of me in the studio working out!

Okay, I know I said I would make this brief. Sorry for lying, but if you follow this blog you knew that was an empty promise when you read it…lol. After all, I am long-winded. Last but not least, if you have any questions, comment below and I promise to answer. Or you can email me. Your choice. At any rate, I’ll leave you with these before and after images as inspiration. Despite what you may think, both of them ARE ME, taken two years apart, to the very day. What can I say? A lot can change in two years.

Gotta run…time for sleep. Which I clearly don’t get enough of, so I suppose that should be my next goal!

xo,

N

 

 

 

What EXACTLY Did You Do?!

Well, among other things, I had another birthday. In January. I like to think I’m ATOP the hill, looking down the other side, deciding how long I’ll hang out up here before I head over it. Makes perfect sense to me.

Anyway, my new age is NOT the focus of this post. This is actually about how I got healthy, on my own terms, flying by the seat of my pants. Since so many people have asked me “What exactly did you do?” I thought it best to simply tell the world. Not for vanity’s sake, not to flaunt success or a new and improved look, but to help people who may have been/or are suffering from the same issues as I. However, before I tell my story, please make note:

I AM NOT A DOCTOR, NUTRITION SPECIALIST, FITNESS EXPERT, HOMEOPATHIC HEALER, LIFE COACH, VOODOO CONJURER, OR ANYTHING OTHER THAN A WOMAN WHO FELT PHYSICALLY SHITTY FOR A LONG TIME AND DECIDED TO MAKE SOME DIETARY ADJUSTMENTS TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.  

So here is how it all began…

Several of the women in my family suffer from chronic diverticulitis (me, two of my older sisters and a paternal aunt before she passed). If you don’t know what that is, please Google it for a proper explanation. The best I can give you is that it’s a condition that causes your colon to become really angry to the point of trying to evict you from your own body. I had four horrendous, extremely painful attacks. Three of them required hospital stays of anywhere from 5 to 8 days. So. Not. Fun. Although, the first time I was in the hospital (May 2013), I did manage to find a bit of humor in it and write a couple of posts. You can read them here and here. By the third time, it was no longer funny. After my last hospitalization, I was told my only option was to have surgery to remove the diseased section of my colon causing so much havoc. Despite knowing the doctor was a straight-shooter–one of my sisters required the same procedure years ago to cure hers—I was still reluctant. Why? I am not your average patient. My body doesn’t like medications. Particularly, antibiotics and painkillers. To date, I am allergic to FIVE of the most commonly prescribed pain meds, and SEVEN “go-to” antibiotics. And when I say allergic, I mean rash all over, throat closing, anaphylaxis inducing. Yes, all of them can kill me, just like a bee sting or severe peanut allergy can do to others. So when I am in the hospital, I have to be in a special unit, monitored 24/7, because, to date…there is only one pain killer that actually controls the pain and one antibiotic the docs are certain won’t cause a reaction. OH…and my veins are not very friendly to IV’s either; they enjoy causing them to infiltrate. You can look that one up too, because I can’t even explain it. All I know is, it’s extremely painful….especially when you are going into anaphylactic shock simultaneously. Having survived all that, I, albeit reluctantly, decided to go through with the surgery and have 10 inches of my colon resected in July 2015.  I was ‘cured’ right? Umm….no, not quite.

And so it goes.

After the healing/recovery process, which took about 2 months….it seemed as though my digestive issues were a thing of the past. Not so fast, though. Around February 2016, I began to feel pretty bad again, noticed I was carrying extra weight and was no longer comfortable in my clothes. I do not own a scale, so I wasn’t sure how much I weighed exactly. However, by the end of April, I visited the doctor for a checkup and discovered I was the heaviest I have ever been, at 128 pounds. Doesn’t sound like a lot, unless you take into consideration I am only five foot one. In addition, I was tired all the time, experiencing abdominal aches followed by extended periods in the potty (sorry, TMI) almost immediately after every meal, and general heaviness in my stomach regardless of what I ate. ALL.THE.TIME. And mind you, I was only consuming soups, salads, and in general, following a pretty healthy diet. Of course, I am thinking… “WTF?!”. By the end of May, I was pretty fed up with the way I felt, because that directly impacted my ability to exercise, which would have, no doubt helped me lose the extra pounds. Unbeknownst to anyone, I looked to the all knowing Google gods for help. Little did I know, typing in the simple phrase “foods that cause problems for people with digestive issues” would change my body, spirit and ultimately, my lifestyle in the most positive of ways.

A little backstory on me…. I was a vegan for a few years in college. Being an animal lover, my reasons were understandable. Unfortunately, that was in the 90’s, when the benefits of such a diet were largely unknown, and maintaining it on the budget of a poor college student, proved to be completely impossible for me. Lack of education for the proper way to go about getting the needed nutrients led to severe anemia, and I became quite sick.  Out of desperation, I reverted back to a more traditional way of eating, reincorporating red meat, poultry, dairy, etc.. as it seemed to be what my body craved in order to heal. If only I’d known then, what I know now. Hindsight, right?

Back to present day. After a bit of research, I decided to eliminate dairy from diet completely, as it seemed to be at the top of every list of “problematic” foods. Within 10 days, I felt a huge difference. My body began to change, inside and out. My belly was no longer bloated, I had more energy, and the chronic stomach cramps after meals were subsiding. But I wasn’t done. As the result of my research, I had learned more and more about the positive benefits of a vegan diet, and opted to give that a try again, in my own modified way, ditching all meats, with the exception of fish/shrimp. And for good measure, I also traded white carbs for whole grains, and stopped consuming alcohol. Being a bit more salty, both in personality and in palate preference, sweets have never been a problem for me, so sugar was the easiest to kick to the curb. That was mid-June 2016. Now keep in mind, I haven’t mentioned incorporating exercise…yet. Because I didn’t do that on a regular basis until September 2016. So the “before and after” photos below, are the product of dietary changes exclusively. The ones on the left were shot in April 2016 and the ones on the right in August 2016 by Jamie Fisher at FishyFoto, although the body transformation only took a total of TWO MONTHS…mid-June to mid August.

    

Needless to say, I am now a very firm believer that positive health and body changes start with a commitment to eating a cleaner, more simplified diet. As for exercise, once I got my energy back…. I began doing Reformer Pilates a minimum of once a week, at Clara’s Room, which has done wonders for the lengthening and strengthening of my muscles. Especially the core ones in my lower abdomen, I presumed lost forever when the doc sliced through them to rid me of the angry section of colon! So I guess my point is… I am 10 months in, 24 pounds lighter, stronger than I’ve ever been and feeling better physically than I did when I was in my 20’s… and I am 45 years old. And I can say with complete honesty, that my intention really was to find foods that agreed with my body, rather than to lose pounds, which is probably why I have been able to stick with this way of eating. It rectified my abdominal discomfort, restored my energy and allowed me to pursue an exercise regimen that works for me. All of that combined, makes me feel good, which goes back to my original goal. Mission accomplished. The weight loss was just a side effect 🙂

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