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On Obesity

Before I get into the topic of today’s post, I’m going to go through my day really quickly! I began the morning by training the other half of the Quidditch team. The movements were a little more unnatural for this group, but their form improved so much by the end! I can’t wait to see how they do the next time we do this workout! 

I got paid in green juice.

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I believe it was pineapple-apple-kale? In terms of green juice, I love anything with kale and pineapple! And this was made fresh this morning!

I also requested the pulp.

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All the fiber and other good stuff is there! I had visions of stirring it into my oatmeal, but it was a lot blander than I was expecting. And my oatmeal was already really thick so I couldn’t bring myself to do it. 

Immediately after training, I did another run through of my Spin audition playlist. I feel really confident about it-I love the playlist, which is exactly how I need to feel about it! I’m in the process of arranging a live run through-as in I gather a whole bunch of people and practice with them as students. I left my workout feeling energized and happy. 

My hunger was kind of strange today-it’s weird for me waking up early to train people and not going straight into a workout, so my eating routine for the whole day was kind of thrown off. 

I still got some good stuff in there though!

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Chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted carrots. 

For snack a little later, I had a Quest bar, which may not have been the best decision for me. From all of yesterday’s Olympic lifting, my legs were aching a bit and protein seemed like a solid idea though.

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The problem was that I really didn’t like the aftertaste of the bar and had to eat a date afterwards to cleanse my palate, plus my stomach starting hurting a little later. Not sure why I eat a food that I know doesn’t always work for me!

I thought about going to yoga, but then got wrapped up in other things instead. I had a dining hall dinner of a burrito bowl with mahi mahi.

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I think one of the things I don’t prefer about this bowl is that the only seasoning really seems to be citrus. I would love some more spices up in there!

Today I also had a fair amount of sugar, in the form of chocolate and cookies and hall meeting. But such is life. It’s interesting to feel the changes in my body when I eat it though!

Onto today’s topic. 

Has anyone thought about the fact that so few bloggers write about obesity? Most talk about reasonably healthy (comparatively) people getting healthier. Which is great-don’t get me wrong! And maybe those people are more the audience of healthy living blogs anyways, but it seems a bit like an elephant in the room to not discuss the obesity epidemic. I’m not even going to get into the percentages in this post, because they can be looked up and are constantly changing. 

Today, I cracked open this cookbook, written by one of my favorite people ever, Robert Lustig, a scientist and doctor who looks at obesity, especially in children.

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I’ve talked about Robert Lustig before in the context of sugar metabolism, but this book goes a little deeper into more recent possible causes of obesity. 

One of the first pages in the book directed me to this video-if you have a few minutes, it’s really interesting, and kind of mind blowing, in my opinion:

http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_attia_what_if_we_re_wrong_about_diabetes.html

This is a TED talk addressing insulin resistance and obesity, as well as the stigma we as a society put on obese people. What was really interesting to me was when Peter Attia discusses how maybe obesity does not cause insulin resistance, but rather, obesity is a side effect of insulin resistance. It is a sign of metabolic disfunction. The hormone insulin removes sugar from the blood and stores it as fat. High levels of insulin will as a result cause more fat storage. No one could ever really figure out why obesity would lead to insulin resistance, but the other way around? It makes so much sense!

Now back to the book-where has insulin resistance come from? It’s not calories in, calories out. It is so much more than that. It’s not just about weight-some obese people do not have insulin resistance, and some normal weight people do, and are at risk for the related diseases. Listen to this: “the majority of the people today, regardless of weight, produce twice as much insulin for the same dose of glucose as people produced 30 years ago.” 

Think about that for a second.

That means, MOST people are storing more fat for the calories they are eating than did people 30 years ago. 

Think back to 30 years ago-think of movies. Everyone was much slimmer back then. And there wasn’t a significant shortage of food then-food isn’t really more available now.

Things like this make me angry. So angry. Our food system is toxic. In a day and age where we strive for advances that make our lives easier, we pollute our food system in a way that makes eating truly healthfully nearly impossible. (I understand that my readers may disagree with me on this point, but keep in mind, I’m speaking of the general population, which tends to lack knowledge about eating healthfully-clearly healthy living bloggers will have this a bit more figured out!)

THIS is what I want to do with my life-I want to cure the obesity epidemic. I want to uncover ever underlying cause, and help work out a solution. 

But it’s not just the obese. Take me for example. I’m a pretty healthy person. I’m extremely active, I eat my veggies, I try to balance my meals. But I still crave sugar and overeat it and feel awful. I still have plenty of days where I’m dragging. I still sometimes struggle to eat healthily. I’m sure my liver isn’t happy with me for the sugar in all the cookies I ate. 

How messed up is my metabolism? I’m willing to bet it’s not running as nicely as it could and or should be. And I’m a relatively healthy person. 

I’m not through the book yet, and I’m still working on figuring out the toxins that are contributing to metabolic dysfunction, but what I do have to tell you guys is that I’ve been inspired, and am planning a big blog project for the near future. As a blogger, I have a voice in the community, albeit a small one. I have an opportunity to make a difference in a few people’s lives, if I take it. 

I’m going to wait until everything is better planned out to give you guys all the details, but I’ll just say that I’m going to spend some time really analyzing what happens to food in our bodies as we eat. I am not going to promote any type of ‘diet’-but I will ask you to consider this: how many of you are constantly trying to lose those last few pounds? Or know someone that is? I’m willing to bet most people. 

Consider this-if we store more fat per glucose now than we did in the past, of course we’re going to carry extra pounds. We’re going to work on fixing the problem of the American metabolism. 

(But I promise there will be plenty of ‘normal’ blogging as well!)

WIAW-A New Quarter

WHEW, happy Wednesday! Can you believe it’s only Wednesday? (Well, tomorrow for me-I’m typing this up Tuesday night.) I’ve been saving up the last couple of days of food photos for…What I Ate Wednesday! Thanks as always to Jenn for helping us celebrate our new favorite day of the week!

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Let’s start with my last meal at home-vegetable soup with cornbread!

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Does anyone else eat their cornbread with honey? So good!

On Monday, I started my “meal plan.” Just to clarify, but “meal plan,” I really mean meal planning. It’s not so much only eating certain foods as it is getting into a routine and making my meals the night before, so when I running out the door with a minute before class starts, I have something good to grab!

After Monday’s Spin+Run, I wasn’t super hungry but knew I needed fuel and would be super hungry later in the day if I didn’t force myself to eat a decent amount. Here is a giant bowl of overnight oats-I used Julie‘s recipe, which is 3/4 c oats (which happens to be one packet of instant), 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and a container of yogurt. For this particular meal, I used mango chobani.

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After my one class on Monday, I ate my packed lunch in the sunshine (sorry East Coasters)-prepared over the weekend at home. Greek seasoned chicken, sage-brown butter mashed yams, and Garlic Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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This was perfect-it’s great to have well seasoned food at school!

For a pre workout snack, I ate some dried persimmons, made and brought to me by my wonderful roommate.

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I also had a slice of chocolate chip banana bread, another item prepared over break.

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For my new quarter eating schedule, I’m a little unsure of whether or not I should eat snacks. I know it’s totally counterintuitive to most people to skip snacks, but more often than not, snacks mess up my stomach really badly-it doesn’t seem to matter what the snack is! A few minutes after Monday’s snack, my stomach was twisted in knots. 

But I guess it’s really hit or miss-on Tuesday I had 2 snacks without issue, and was hungry enough that I felt they were the right decision. Our bodies our so complicated!

Monday night, I also had my first dining hall meal of the quarter. It wasn’t a bad one-they had 2 different types of brussels sprouts!

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Besides brussels sprouts, I stuck to my basic formula of a carbohydrate and a protein-brown rice and cod. 

And for dessert, I threw half a chocolate chip cookie dough Quest bar in the microwave. 

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This is kind of ironic given I recently purchased a couple of Quest bars for after dinner treats (because yay chocolate!), but today I found this article. It talks about the nutritional merits of Quest bars. I don’t really know what to think of them. I’m sort of against them because a)I don’t like the taste of stevia and b) they sometimes give me stomach aches. But sometimes I crave them. I guess what bothers me is that they are touted as a super natural protein bar, yet I have never heard of half the ingredients, and would never be able to buy half the raw ingredients in a store. But who knows. I’m also a little suspicious of stevia, just because there has been so little research on it. But I don’t know-to each his own!

Tuesday morning I was up bright and early-I had to be at the gym at 7 to train the school quidditch team! I’m leading weight training for them, and today was the first day. It went really well-even those who hadn’t lifted before had good form by the end! And I’m pretty sure they’ll hate me be sore tomorrow…We broke the training up into 2 days, so I have the other half of the team Wednesday morning. I never realized how much I love teaching something I’m super knowledgable about! And I can’t wait to see everyone get stronger.

We allotted a full 2 hours for the first session so we wouldn’t be rushed, but it only took 1:15, so I had plenty of time to grab coffee and eat my packed breakfast before class.

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First cappuccino of the quarter!

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Same overnight oats as on Monday. 

I didn’t exactly need coffee today, except for the fact that I had over 2 hours straight of Organic Chemistry today-Tuesdays are rough because of this! However, I don’t think I’ll have a problem getting through them because the first class of the day is Human Nutrition! Today, I sat in class with the biggest smile on my face. I love learning and doing things I’m passionate about. Leading weights+Nutrition class? How could I go wrong?

Lunch was also a repeat of yesterday, eaten in class.

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Note to self-next time pre cut the chicken if eating in class. Don’t attempt to eat with only a fork…

After class I went to read Bio in a little cafe and grabbed a snack-it wasn’t my first choice but it did the job!

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Since my car was still in the shop, I had to bike to Crossfit today. It gave me time to reflect-and I realized, I’m in such a good place in my life right now. I’m happy. I’m doing things I’m passionate about. I love teaching weight lifting. I absolutely cannot weight to teach Spin-my playlist is ready to go! I love the fitness industry, and I love Nutrition. I’m branching out and trying new things this quarter-Mariachi band? What? 

I feel like I have so many opportunities right now-I’m going to talk to my Nutrition professor about different careers in the field-I don’t particularly want to be a Nutritionist, and I would probably prefer something on the research side of things. I’m considering signing up for a conference in San Francisco about the obesity epidemic-one of my favorite scientists ever, Robert Lustig, is going to be there. (Yes, I know I’m a nerd for having a favorite scientist!) Also, my friend in my sorority asked me if I could lead some type of fitness-y event for our winter recruitment, like yoga or spin (my suggestion). I’m planning on gathering a some friends and hopefully some of the quidditch team, who I sort of have control over now, to practice teaching a spin class to real live people! 

Another new thing? I went to the weight lifting class at my Crossfit gym. The weight lifting class isn’t exactly an add-on-it’s its own program. I love Olympic Lifting, and I just don’t get enough opportunity to work on it in Crossfit, especially this particular box. 

I forgot how much energy Olympic Lifting takes! I didn’t even lift that heavy, but each rep really takes it out of you! It’s also mentally exhausting. Oh, and it lasted an hour and 45 minutes. I was doing snatches and clean and jerks for 105 minutes straight. My body just kind of felt numb afterwards. Not exactly tired, not out of breath, not necessarily burning muscles, but without energy. I don’t even want to think about how many squats were involved today. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any significant amount of Olympic lifting!

Oh, and I may have agreed to do a weight lifting competition. (Not a Crossfit competition, Olympic lifting!) It’s in February, but at this point in my life I feel a little unprepared. In the last year and a half, my technique has faltered a bit, but I’ve gotten stronger, so when I nail down technique, that should be awesome, right??

On that note, I was craving protein like crazy when I returned to campus. Specifically, MEAT. It’s interesting how our bodies know exactly what they need! This may be kind of strange, but when I eat less sugar, I tend to crave meat more. But I’ll roll with it!

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Greek salad, some not super excitingly cooked kabocha squash, a few brussels, and MEAT-chicken with ketchup. Lots of meat. It was heaven. 

After dinner, I finished the other half of my Quest bar from the previous day, as well as the last of my double chocolate banana bread.

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A couple of days ago, I started tracking my food intake on My Fitness Pal, more for interest than anything else! It’s cool to see the ration of carbs to fats to proteins-my protein ration was pretty low, so I guess it was no wonder I was craving it! What drives me crazy though is the sugar count. I really wish it was divided into added sugars and natural sugars. There is a BIG different between lactose sugar and high fructose corn syrup! I also don’t understand how my sugar consumption was insanely high today, especially compared to yesterday, when I ate basically the same thing both days? I’m not reading too much into it though-I feel really good, likely thanks to balanced meals and more veggies in my life! 

That’s all I have today! I swear this post would have been insanely upbeat BEFORE the lifting drained my energy! 

Tomorrow morning, I am training quidditch again and then will do another run through of my spin audition playlist. AHHHH can’t wait! So much excite happening right now!

What exciting things do you have in your future?

Bouncing Back

After yesterday‘s overconsumption of sweets, I want to show that bouncing back from a blah day really isn’t hard. Here are a few tips:

1. Morning workout-this is pretty much guaranteed to make me feel better.

2. Probiotics. Kevita/kombucha saves me from stomachaches every time.

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This is probably my favorite flavor. I’m not thrilled that Kevita has stevia though…not a fan.

3. Eat something delicious and wholesome-this means lots of veggies!

Let’s start with the first one. 

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I know that this workout would be a doozy given the paces for the run, and the fact that the squat portion (5 pounds lighter) immobilized me for quite a few days last week. I also knew it would be a bit of a time crunch since I had to race between the track and gym (although they are across the street), and let’s be honest-when I have to get to morning classes, I always run out of time. 

The run kicked my butt. That was totally expected. I had to walk a little between sets, which was not called for on the workout but whatever. I also definitely didn’t hit the paces-the workout was probably made for someone a lot faster than me. I was pretty close/sometimes on the pace for the 3 minutes, but it’t not exactly a recovery pace for me! Overall, I loved this one though-quick and incredibly effective. This may become a workout staple as I try to pick up speed.

The squats were no where near as bad as I expected, and I doubt I’ll be super sore like last time-the difference a week makes! I didn’t get through all the push presses/good mornings, or the hollow rocks and one of the rows. I’m planning on squeezing in a full rowing workout tomorrow evening since I have nothing else on the schedule. 

My arches have been bothering me a lot lately-I think it’s due to tendonitis in my achilles. Fun fact-I had bad tendonitis in my achilles in third grade. Yes, third grade. That right there should tell you something about my genes (i.e. they suck). I haven’t had much of a problem with tendonitis basically since then though. I think the long run a couple of weeks ago, maybe combined with a different style of running (fast), and maybe mainly aggravated by some intense rolling out of the achilles tendons in Crossfit-they’ve been feeling wonky since then and I think maybe that caused something to flare up. I’m hoping advil will help bring down the inflammation. The good news is it’s the type of thing that feels a lot better after rolling out with a lacrosse ball, and is pretty much fine once I’m warmed up. You don’t warm up to walk around in daily life though! 

The only food pictures I have for you today are these:

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I think I’m in love with persimmons. End of story.

And this delicious feast, courtesy of Carrots n Cake

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Brussels sprouts, garlic and herb laughing cow, chicken sausage. So delicious. Such perfection. 

Tell me something about your week!

What is More Than How Many

Hey guys! I owe you a no sugar challenge recap. But how about a post no sugar challenge recap as well?

I haven’t talked much about the no sugar challenge since the beginning. Usually, this means it kind of trickled out of my mind and I failed. But THIS time, I actually finished.  For this challenge, I defined “sugar” as “sweets or desserts.” I enjoyed it, but I didn’t realize the impacts it had until POST no sugar challenge. 

ImageAs many of my longer time readers may have picked up, sugar is an issue near and dear to my heart. So much so that I want to spend my life studying it. I’ve always been sensitive to sugar. I’ve done a lot of research into its metabolism. I’ve done quite a few no sugar challenges in the past. But this, in a way, may be the last. 

So, let’s talk numbers. At the end of last week (the end of the challenge) I was feeling leaner. I initially thought it was because of my weight lifting schedule-it was a more intense week than the week before. However, I was annoyed because the number on the scale didn’t really change. That’s kind of the story of my summer. I posted a while ago about the weight I gained recently. I gained that weight through a bout of horrible eating habits. Over the summer, I exercised a lot, including training for a half and starting Crossfit, and really cleaned up my diet. I expected the weight to just fall off-I was eating so badly for a little while that I figured any improvement would have that effect. However, over the course of the summer, I lost maybe 2 pounds. How was that possible?

The mirror, however, told a different story. I definitely looked slimmer. The difference was the muscle I build through all the lifting and exercise. Showing once again that WHAT is more important that HOW MANY.

ImageAnd back to the no sugar challenge. Although the number didn’t change, I felt and looked better. 

Flash forward to almost a week post-challenge. I ate my first sweet. And I. Felt. Awful. It’s really easy to forget how something really makes you feel. But that’s not all. (Keep in mind, I’m super sensitive to sugar, so these reactions won’t happen for a lot of people.) This week, I’ve continued in indulging in sugar. Nothing too crazy, but desserts regularly. 

I feel like a different person. I feel like my body fat has gone up (but still little change on the scale, mind you). I’m on edge. I don’t feel in control. I feel sick. One cookie is enough to give me a stomachache-and make me crave more. Now let’s talk about what I’ve been eating this week. 

Carbs. Lots of carbs. All carbs. Very few vegetables. 

ImageBut here’s the real zinger. I confess-I count calories. Why? Quite frankly, because I suck at intuitive eating. And I like data. Cold, hard facts. Am I accurate counting calories? Probably not. But that’s fine with me. I’m consistent, and that’s all that matters. I know how many my body needs in my counting system. So it works for me. 

Back to the point-numbers don’t lie; I’ve eaten a similar amount of calories last week as this week. But those calories were oh so different. Fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein versus carbscarbscarbs and sugar. And my body is reacting to the two things very differently. Once again, WHAT I’m eating matter more than HOW MANY calories I’m eating. 

ImageWhat’s the point of all this? I know it’s been said before, but once again, A NUMBER ISN’T EVERYTHING. Sure, calorie counts and numbers on a scale can give you a rough check in, but it’s stupid to focus on them. There’s SO MUCH MORE to the equation than numbers. 

Think of this-

4+4=8

4×4=16

Both equations include fours, but the result is very different; there is another factor, the operator. If you eat exactly 2000 calories a day (the government recommendation) and are exactly the perfect BMI, are you healthy? What if those 2000 calories are just doughnuts and cheetos? What if you have very little muscle and excess body fat? Is that the same as a person who eats 2000 calories of local, organic produce, lean protein, and low sugar, lifts weights, and is the same weight?

Health is so, so much more than a number. And EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.

Keep that in mind when I say this-I could see myself living a no sugar life, long term, more than just a challenge. I’ve said it before, I’m super sensitive to sugar. One cookie is enough to send me off the wall-jitters and mood swings. If that cookie works well in your lifestyle-GO FOR IT! We are not the same people! Sugar can definitely be part of a healthy lifestyle-and it is for most people. But I don’t know that it is for me. 

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It’s not about body composition-it’s about health. Physical and mental. When I eat sweets, I lose control. It messes with my hormones-I’m super emotional and I crave sweetssweetssweets. I can envision a very low-sugar lifestyle. I’ve never regretted not eating a sweet. I feel better when I don’t eat them. I think it would be sustainable FOR ME.

As bloggers, we expose ourselves to all kinds of comparisons. I sometimes read a blog thinking-if this person can eat sugar and feel great, I should be able to too! But in reality, we can’t possibly make that comparison. We share a passion, not a body. We have different lives, different metabolisms, different circumstances. Just because one thing doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean you all should stop eating it. Or because the blog world is obsessed with some food, it doesn’t mean I should jump on the bandwagon if I or my body don’t like it. 

Hopefully you’ll think about what I said. Going forward, I’m hoping for sugar to play a minimal role in my life. (Don’t make big decisions under the influence of alcohol-how about under the influence of a sugar high?) I want it to be a non-factor. Hopefully, I can hit you guys with some lower sugar recipes in the future as well-don’t think I’m going to miss out completely on all the fall treats!Image

Thoughts?

Science Experiments on Myself

How was everybody’s Monday? It’s my first official day of spring break it it was rather unexciting. Here is last night’s dinner though: citrus grilled chicken, sweet potato, asparagus, and fruit salad.

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Dessert was some delicious apple pie from the farmer’s market, with some frozen yogurt.Image

It was EXACTLY what I had been wanting. Enough of yesterday. This morning began with an early abs class. I absolutely love the class, which is one of the things I miss while at school. But here’s the thing. As we have talked about before, after having mono and not being able to exercise, my abs are probably the weakest part of me. So I woke up sore from yesterday’s ab work. So ouch. This class hurt. As in I couldn’t reach up high to get something because it hurt. And tomorrow will most likely be worse. I had been loosely planning on a run today, but yesterday I decided I would be better off letting my legs rest a little. Yeah, still sore. I think my groins may be sore from spin but I’m not really sure, I’ve never been sore from spin before. But last Thursday at yoga, I didn’t notice any issues until I felt like my muscles were being ripped apart in happy baby pose. An interesting description….And the only thing I had done that week was spin. Oh well. Breakfast this morning was AWESOME. I have TOTALLY been obsessed with yogurt bowls lately. Even though this is only my second one, I’ve been thinking about them a lot. Plus I got some new Icelandic yogurt to try.

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It was pretty similar to Greek yogurt, but my impression was that it was maybe a little smoother, or some how stickier (that’s a terrible description, but I don’t know how else to describe it). I topped it with warm pumpkin bread from the freezer and my new favorite, sunflower seed butter. That combo is amazing!Image

After breakfast I read a little and decided a nap was in order (what else is spring break good for, right??). Around 11:30, my mom and I decided our activity for the day would be to visit a local old farm and see the 20 newborn lambs. We decided to have an early lunch so we would have plenty of time. Since we got eggs at the farmer’s market yesterday, and I knew they’d be really fresh, I wanted to do something with eggs. I ended up doing a spinoff of the bowl from the Korean restaurant on Saturday. I sauteed mushrooms and spinach in teriyaki sauce, and heated up some instant garlic brown rice and quinoa. I topped this with an egg over easy, and dug in!

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We also cut up some oranges from the farmer’s market.Image

Our day’s plans were foiled, however, when we discovered that the farm is closed on Mondays. So what did the day turn out to hold! Spring cleaning! Of our pantry, that is. Our cabinets, fridge, and freezer never get cleaned out unless I initiate it, and we end up with food shoved everywhere and a million of one item because it is hiding in some inaccessible location. 4 cans of beans. 5 boxes of Triscuits. 4 cans of pumpkin. The list goes on. We ended up composting and donating a ton of stuff, and now the pantry and fridge are organized and reasonably empty (in a mostly good way). However there is one issue. We have a huge “sweets” basket, complete with all kinds of candy left over from Christmas. So naturally I had to check if some things were still good. And then I found the Nutella. My family doesn’t eat Nutella much, we only had it because I used it in a recipe. I much prefer Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut butter. Anyway, I figured I would just have a taste before getting rid of it. I’m not a huge fan of the stuff, but I must admit it was addicting! Especailly when I found some crackers that would go bad soon. The end result of this process? Sugar overload. Now I’ve talked before about how I have a pretty bad reaction to sugar, and I fully admit I am a sugar addict. That is why I attempted my No Sugar Challenge. A lot of times when I eat too much sugar I start to feel really hot. I’ve always wondered if this actually raised my temperature a measurable amount, so this time I figured, why not take my temperature? And guess what? 99.0. Slight, but certainly noticeable. Yes. I gave myself a sugar-induced fever. So I think it’s time to seriously cut back on the sweets again…That’s scary!

After cleaning out all our old food, we didn’t want to go to the grocery to get dinner and put more food where we had just cleaned things out, so we were forced to improvise. After several half-baked ideas, we ended up making Mexican bowls. Wow, I had lots of bowls today! My yogurt bowl, my (vaguely) Korean bowl, and my Mexican bowl! We heated up brown rice, fire roasted tomatoes (one of the many cans of tomato products we unearthed), black beans, frozen brussels sprouts, leftover citrus chicken, cheddar cheese (1 of 5 bags of shredded cheddar…) and salsa. Topped with guac from out mini avocados! On the to-do list for tonight is getting them ready to sprout!

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Tonight will most likely be low-key. Hopefully tomorrow I will get to see the baby lambs (don’t worry, pictures will be posted). I’m still on the fence about whether I want to go to 6 am spin or 9 am yoga. I think yoga may be more important for my strength, but I would like to do some cardio. Maybe yoga plus a run? We shall see!

What is your idea of spring cleaning?