It’s not a diet, It’s a lifestyle

photo via

photo via

I’m beginning to hear another phrase, along with my title, “if I had a dollar every time someone says ‘It’s not a diet, It’s a lifestyle’ I’d be a rich lady”.

“Diet” seems to be a dirty word, it’s attached to suffering, sacrifice, overall unpleasantness, maybe discomfort.  “Lifestyle” sounds fun, right?  It’s a life with style, something most people would readily agree to.

The fact is 80%* of healthy lifestyle changes revolve around diet, or let’s say the food you are putting into your body.  If you’ve been pursuing healthy choices for any period of time, you know enough to stay away from fad diet schemes or to get pulled into the latest media darling of healthy eating – Gluten free cup cakes, anyone?  But at the same time, with the world shouting in your face about obesity epidemics and toxic foods you may be itching to change your life this spring and totally unsure where to begin.

In my personal research of reading books, spending loads of time online, listening to all kinds of doctors, perusing loads of “diets” (Vegan, Mediterranean, Paleo, Plant-based, Clean, The Kind Diet, The Detox Diet, Crazy Sexy Diet, The Body Ecology Diet,  Weston Price, Kimberly Snyder, Dr. Frank Limpan, Dr. Weil…..the list goes on and on), here’s the basic skeletal structure of what a healthy lifestyle looks like:

EAT:  Non-modern foods – think as close to nature as possible (Apple vs. Apple Jacks), cook at home as often as possible.  Think in groups like: protein, fat and carbohydrate, these are the things your body needs and can really use, not Doritos (which falls into the “franken-food” category).

MOVE:  Exercise, six days a week.  Walk, dance, run, garden, vacuum, jump rope – don’t worry about a set time or pushing yourself till you drop, just get your body moving and build on as you are ready.

DRINK:  Water, water and more water

REST:  You must sleep, all kinds of repair and cleaning goes on in your lovely body (much of which we still don’t completely understand) while you are getting your shut eye.

If you are in the midst of making changes, I’d also encourage you to BE KIND to yourself.  Many of the less than healthy habits we’ve picked up have been in our lives for awhile, it takes time to let them go as well.

* This “80%” is a totally made number on my part, pulled from my own guess-timation while doing research.  I assigned such a large percentage because it plays a very large part in getting healthy.




Un, Deux, Trois to Uno, Dos, Tres

Last year at Palais-Royal

Last year at Palais-Royal

This time last year, I was walking thru France with my family.  This year’s break called for a much simpler outing, but enjoyable and inspiring all the same.

San Antonio….. not what you were expecting?  Me either!  We actually started our journey in New Braunfels, this may offend Texans near and far, but I’m not a fan.  San Antonio on the other hand, how have I missed this jewel of a town??  Home to the Alamo and SeaWorld, though neither were of any interest, another claim to fame is their Riverwalk.  What’s so exciting about a line of water running through a city?  I don’t have a poetic answer but it puts two of my most favorite vacation things together – eating and walking!

photo via internet

photo via internet

I’ve strolled down France’s The River Seine, New York’s Hi Line and many lesser known places and I’d put San Anotnio’s Riverwalk up there with any of them.  My first impression was, “It’s so clean!”.  And then, “The details!”.  It always helps when you have NO expectations, or in my case misinformation.  I was excepting a totally overdeveloped, Disneyland type, commerce filled stroll.  Certainly you can find that along parts of the Riverwalk, but near the newly improved section of Museum Reach, which is where we spent the majority of our time, I was sublimely happy.  I heard around 10 different languages and accents during our stroll, the kids counted ducklings (we got to 50), we watched an epic fight between a hummingbird mother defending her nest from an imposing grackle from the glorious open air restaurant of Ocho (so good we ate there twice).   Yup, we were very pleasantly surprised indeed, I look forward to another trip!

Where we’ll stay:  Hotel Havana

Where we’ll eat:  Ocho

What we’ll do: Walk……okay maybe we’ll go see the Alamo too.


Product Review: Hail Merry Macaroons

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 2.45.24 PM

image via Hail Merry

What does one talk about after a cleanse?  Chocolate!  As I get closer and closer to banishing refined sugar completely from my life, I’ve come to regard Hail Merry as a shining beacon as I cruise the grocery store. These chocolate macaroons are a staple in our house.  I can stare at Chocolate Covered Katie all day long, BUT when it comes to treats and sweets I, like most Americans, like sweets made for me and ready to go as soon as the inclination hits.  However, I have no interest in reaching for a Snickers to satisfy, it needs to be high quality, with amazing flavor and no ingredients that my 8 year old would have trouble reading.  These guys have no refined sugar plus they are GF, contain raw oils, are vegan, kosher and non GMO certified – whew, that’s some cred, but the crowing jewel is that they are delicious.  My husband loves these before a pre-dawn bike ride, I love them for a 3:00 break with Rooibos tea, my 6 year old son loves them, my daughter “hates coconut” so refuses to even touch one of these but she happily downs another Hail Merry treat (that also contains loads of coconut – go figure).  Also, Susan O’Brien, the founder of Hail Merry and inventor of these genius treats lives in Dallas, so it’s just another small way I can support my local community and a woman owned business.  Not to worry if you don’t live in the great state of Texas,  Hail Merry is distributed nationwide.

So although, I owed you guys a review of Gnosis Chocolate, I’m going to go with the solid advice of, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…..”   One thing I will say IF you are dying for a chocolate bar and looking for a high quality sure thing I like Green and Blacks (try to go for 70% cacao or above), also Lilly’s if you want to go completely sugar free (however they do contain soy).

Happy yummy snacking!

My First Cleanse – The Wrap Up

After 5 days on the Gut Flush Cleanse by Dr. Junger, my sister provides the final verdict:

The weigh in:  Energy!  That was VERY apparent.  Also feeling pretty darn happy on days four and five.   Physically I lost 4 pounds, and I noticed that my face seemed brighter.  My skin was rosier.  The puff under my eyes when I wake up was gone.  I also noticed that the allergies I’ve had that usually block one or the other nostril at night had disappeared, and therefore better sleep.  Yes the sleep.  I slept like the dead (except when getting up to pee) and I had some weird and vivid dreams.  I’m not sure if this was cleanse related but it was unusual so maybe.  My husband was convinced that he’d gained weight and the scale confirmed it on Day three, but by day five he said that weight was gone plus another two pounds.  And maybe it was my imagination but his waist looked slimmer.  My co-worker suffered none of the blah that I did at any point, but she eats consistently healthy, without the curbs and breaks I take.  She did tell me that her pants that were previously too tight for her were now fitting loosely and she was thrilled. 

The Aftermath: I’m on day two of my non-cleanse, it’s 7:17 and I haven’t had my glass of wine.  I want to feel full of energy at work tomorrow like I did on days four and five, so I’m abstaining for now.  Can’t say there won’t be a glass in my hand this weekend though.   I’m finishing up leftovers from the cleanse, but I must admit I sprinkled a little grated cheddar and sea salt on the vegetable frittata tonight, and it was better.  So, I’m not going hard-core anymore, but I’m inspired to stick with Dr. Junger’s general guidelines for now because I really loved how it made me feel…at the end anyway.   “The first three days are the hardest.”  That’s what a few friends who had completed different cleanses had warned us, and they were absolutely correct.

The Questions:  If I were to give feedback to Dr. Junger or to Dr. Oz who posted this cleanse on his website I would request that portion amounts be included in the recipe.  Some recipes made LOADS and could feed four, and others were rather anemic for even one person.  I would also prefer that the recipes clarified between canned coconut milk and the refrigerated coconut milk that comes in the carton.  I assumed when it called for “full fat” it meant canned, and when it asked for “unsweetened” it meant the carton, but some recipes said neither.  It just said, “coconut milk”, so there was some guess work.  The importance of strictly following the recipes versus going by the general do’s and don’ts was not exactly explained.  For example, sweet potatoes were on the “Eat these foods” list, but they were not listed as a possible snack, and they were not in any of the recipes, so I didn’t eat any, even though I love them and would have welcomed one.  I wondered if the timing of the meals was crucial as well.  It seemed like the recipes started with a lot of fat on the first two days, then the fat tapered down quite a bit.  Was this coincidence or a progressive meal plan tailored to allow your body to cleanse itself more effectively?  I followed the recipe schedule as strictly as I realistically could, only rearranging a meal due to work, and I’m curious now if that was even important.   Still all in all, it was a little five-day adventure, and I feel pretty darn accomplished for having graduated alive and well.  Who knows, next year maybe I’ll try the Whole 30, but between now and then, there will be wine, there will be ice cream, and there will be donuts piled with maple glaze and bacon. 


800 arrow note:  Dr. Junger recently released two new books, “Clean Gut” and a new cookbook, “Clean Eats” (proceeds go to charities supporting children’s nutritional health).  Some of the above questions could be clarified in those resources.  Another option for learning more about this cleanse is to contact a member of the Clean Team on Dr. Junger’s website.

HUGE thank you to my sister for sharing her cleanse experience with all the 800 arrows readers.

My First Cleanse – Days 4 and 5

Back to my sister’s experience on her first cleanse.

That's commitment!

That’s commitment!

Day Four:  Pretty sure the Cleanse Fairy visits cleansers the morning of Day Four because I woke up feeling ten years younger.  Revitalized, energized, empty…but in a good way.  Dare I say, clean?  I hop out of bed to make the chocolate ginger shake.  Now I love ginger, my husband does not, but we agreed that this was a pretty nasty shake.  I may have used too much ginger. And my blender isn’t the best, so the ginger wasn’t as liquefied as I would have liked.  I would probably microplane it first then add it to the blender if I were even to make it again, which I probably won’t.  My sudden burst of energy led to a productive morning of spring cleaning the house, then preparing the vegetable frittata.   



We went off schedule on this one.  Sunday lunch was supposed to be the same Thai chicken soup from Day two, but I decided to save those leftovers for dinner on day five since it was a work day.  More time to cook and chop on Sunday for the frittata.  I’m actually having the rest of the frittata for dinner tonight and I can honestly say that I’m not looking forward to it.  The coconut milk in it was all wrong.  I would go with almond milk instead, and perhaps that would save it. 

But we choked it down and had higher hopes for the acorn squash wedges with the Asian broccoli salad. 

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

Now, if I hadn’t over steamed my beautiful farmer’s market broccoli and if we had quadrupled the amount of that delicious Asian dressing, this would probably have been a winning meal.  As it was, we had fleeting tastes of the dressing and a lot of over cooked veggies (totally my fault…I likely saw something shiny and completely forgot  about all the steaming that was going on).  So it’s probably unfair to pan the meal, but I doubt I’d make it again. 

I WILL make that dressing again though.  So we were hungry after eating, but this was nothing new to us.  We were old pros by now.  So we went to bed with familiarly empty tummies and looked forward to Day Five. Graduation Day!


Day Five: I woke up again feeling absolutely wonderful, and totally confused.  I had been looking forward to the last day SO much on days one through three, but now I was a little sad it was ending.  My head spun with thoughts of how we should eat when we’ve completed this cleanse.  Do we just go back to our old ways?  We shop organic and farmer’s markets, we cook light and use healthy ingredients.  We indulge in junk food enough to feel satisfied but not so much as to be sick or significantly overweight.  But there’s still another cleanse day ahead and a work cleanse day at that, so putting my ponderings aside I blend up our purple shake.  This was probably my favorite of them all, and more like the smoothies that I make myself on non-cleanse days with the healthy dose of nut butters and the blueberries.  After drinking, I still felt empty in that good way, and off to work I went.  As the morning progressed, I anticipated that 9:30 hunger, the weakness, the slurring words, the utter lack of brain power, but it never came.  I was fine.  Flew home for lunch to power down the Euro nut shake, which was supposed to be for dinner, but I tweaked our schedule slightly to make Monday night dinner an easy leftover.  I think I made that shake wrong.  Too much nut butter.  We don’t have hazelnut butter available, so I went with cashew butter and some almond butter to substitute.  It was good, but it was REALLY rich and thick. I had to eat it with a spoon. My husband LOVED his (I’d made them that morning and put his in a thermos for work.).  He thought it was more like a dessert which was just fine with him.  My portion was smaller than what was recommended because I gave my husband a little more than half so he wouldn’t go hungry at work, but I felt satisfied enough to last my second leg at work.  So, everything went smoothly, my husband came home and we had our final cleanse meal with the Thai chicken soup again.  There was no more complaining, no more wishing for the foods we couldn’t eat.  We felt just fine.  Never full, but usually satisfied.

800 arrows note:  Stay tuned for a wrap up of the 5 day experience, over all thoughts, pounds lost and some great questions…… if we only had access to those celebrity doctors that put together this fun, food experiment!


My First Cleanse – Day 3

Sorry for the delay, without further adieu back to my sister generously sharing her experience on the 5-Day Gut Flush Cleanse brought to you by Dr. Junger:

Day Three:  Oh hold on, rewind.  11:00pm…one hour before Day Three and I wake up to use the bathroom.  There’s a lot of waking up to use the bathroom during this cleanse because you are supposed to guzzle water from morning until night.  So I wake up, and my first thought was, “Oh, I drank too much wine.”  Then waking up a little more, no I didn’t, so what’s with the headache, the nausea, the dizziness?  Starvation perhaps?  I shrug it off and go back to bed.  Awaken on Day three to…blah.  No energy, headache continues, nauseated, and well….let’s just say that the “Gut Flush” part of the cleanse seemed to live up to it’s name that morning.  My husband, who had reported less energy since we began, did not share my symptoms.  He just noted that he slept 12 hours the night before.  His typical amount of sleep is 6 hours a night.  Still, I slug out of bed to make the Vanilla almond shake, which I don’t remember very well.  I wasn’t feeling awesome, and it was probably fine. Not great or terrible enough to remember.  Then I sat on the couch and watched HGTV until I begrudgingly stood up again to cook the Thai chicken salad, which revived me quite a bit.  Fantastically good.  After lunch my husband and I took a break, got a sitter and went to a movie.  This is really only noteworthy because the smell of the popcorn almost killed me.  I wasn’t prepared for that olfactory siren song, but I scooted past the concession and was able to focus on Divergent, or I think I did.   If you were to ask me what happened in the movie, I think I’d say, “Four was hot, and I was hungry.”  So, focus was not there on Day Three. Neither was energy, but we got home and made our roasted vegetable soup, and it was meh.  Not my favorite, and despite huge portions, not very satisfying, but better than raw greens so I took it.  What I also eagerly took was information from my sister that I was allowed a small bite of 70% cocoa dark chocolate to treat my headache.  Truthfully, my headache had resolved after dinner, but I still broke off two nickel sized pieces of chocolate for my husband and I, handed him his portion, and told him, “We have headaches.”  He laughed and said, “I love you.”  Hopefully this made up for being snappy with him earlier in the day.  Yeah, I was really irritable on day three. 


800 arrows note:  I’m no doctor, nutritionist, registered dietician, etc. so depending on your goals for a five day cleanse, the dark chocolate trick for a headache may or may not be a good choice for you.  When cleansing taking something like Advil isn’t ideal, but if you’ve tried water, walks, acupressure (you know the hand squeeze thing), etc., a small portion of chocolate (good quality, 70% dark or higher) is a fun thing to try and on day 3 of a cleanse it’s a good mood booster as well!

P.S.  800 arrows agrees with my sister’s synopsis of “Divergent”, I’d like to add the music and costumes were also enjoyable, but mainly…’s Four.