Tag Archives: 100 healthy days

Day 2: The post-holiday post-mortem and my new goals

Is there anything worse than getting on to the scales and having your body fat % tested, right after the holidays?

fat

For the record, there is definitely plenty worse in life than this.This comparison obviously only relates to other superficial events or occurrences that could befall a human being. Like having a skinny friend who eats toast and chocolate croissants every day. That features highly on my list of terrible things that could happen to someone. I’m looking at you Frenchie!

I know many of you are probably screaming at your computer, going ‘For the love of all that is good and holy, why the hell would you do that to yourself?!? Everyone knows that the only time to weigh yourself again is after a two week juicing cleanse, a round of colonics and a haircut. And only then if it’s first thing in the morning and you’re completely naked.’

You’re right…you’re right! That would typically be my way of thinking as well. Why put yourself through undue heartache and torture, cursing the day a mince pie ever crossed your path?

However, there’s no denying that on occasion you need a short, sharp shock to the system to jump-start change – and stepping on those scales and having your belly fat pinched is the best way to do it.

I actually had the remarkable foresight of anticipating my post-holiday excuses months ago, so I signed up in advance for a 10-week fitness and nutrition program in work- with a pre-evaluation on January 6th. Job done.

And so starts my tale of woe…

How much damage did the holidays do? A LOT! 7lbs worth of damage and a place in the overweight body fat % category (0.8% over healthy). I was actually shocked at how quickly I put on the lbs and body fat. However, when I stepped off the scales in a huff, wanting to cry and thought about it some more – it made sense. Whilst I didn’t go crazy and indulge as much as I wanted to, I had been pretty lax with my healthy eating for a good two months. It was slow and creeping and disastrous.

So now starts the epic challenge of reversing this and I’m hoping my 100HealthyDaysinSF program will help me.

For full disclosure I’m going to put down my new goals here. I hope to achieve these at the end of the 10 weeks of the fitness program I signed up to.

  • Lose 3% body fat
  • Be able to do 10 full push ups (I can do 3 now)
  • Reduce waist size by 3 inches
  • Be happy and healthy

Mx

Comment on healthy living today

Today was a good day in terms of healthy living – all three of my meals were healthy and I started back exercising with a group exercise class. This was TOUGH going! I felt like I needed to explain myself to the strangers in my class as I was huffing, puffing and sweating after a round of jumping jacks. ‘First workout after the holidays, you know…’ It was tough, but I’m glad I did it. It was a win even turning up.

Food and exercise

Once again featuring the book light. Obsessed

Once again featuring the book light. Obsessed

  • Hot water with lemon
  • Breakfast: 1 cup of scrambled eggs (50% whites, 50% whole), chia seeds, steamed kale. (I MISSED KALE SO MUCH)
  • Lunch: Salad with lots of veg, edamame beans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, olive oil and balsamic. Also a little bit of seaweed salad – which had SUGAR in it. Criminal, never again.
  • Snack: handful of almonds and raw veg
  • Exercise: 45 mins group exercise class
  • Dinner: White fish with green beans, cherry tomatoes and half an avocado
  • Lots of herbal tea
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Day 1: The Rules

The first rule of the 100 Healthy Days in SF challenge is that you need rules. I love rules. I’m a Canadian (more or less)…And I ob-eh’ the rules.

Obey the rules

A lot of people have asked me what the rules of my challenge are, and more specifically, what I mean by ‘healthy’. Whenever I try to explain, it gets a bit muddied and unclear – obviously because I’m unclear myself.

As such I need a list of rules. And a mission statement.

(Actually, I’m slightly tardy with the mission statement – for life in general, not just this challenge. Everyone living in San Francisco needs to have a mission statement. If you don’t have one, and if you haven’t written it down, laminated it, or tattooed it somewhere on your body nobody will take you seriously as you obviously haven’t found your purpose in life or business. You also need to have a solid idea for an app.)

So, here is my mission statement:

“I will strive daily to make the healthiest choices possible, that benefit my mind, body and spirit, whilst living life to the fullest in San Francisco.’

And here are my three simple rules:

  • Eat as cleanly as possible – ie, food that has not been heavily processed
  • Do some form of exercise every day
  • Don’t become a hermit

There will be sub-rules in addition to these (like only drinking vodka-soda on a night out), and mini tasks that I set myself along the way (like giving up sugar for a few weeks) but as long as I stick to these principles my challenge should have an impact and also be sustainable for a happy, fun life.

Comment on today’s healthy living

Today was all about getting back on track on trying to cast the demons of bad living out of my body. My primary strategy was to hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate some more. Water is holy. At any one time I had two cups of herbal tea at my desk. It worked as I was able to make healthy choices all day.

What I wasn’t able to do is go to the spin class I had signed up for. Jet lag is a bitch!

Tonight was the first time my roommates and I were all back after the holidays so we celebrated with a lovely home-cooked dinner (thanks Venessa!!) and some present giving. So lovely. It was hard to say goodbye to Ireland after the holidays, but I’m also happy to back in SF!

What you see there, in addition to lovely roommates and a tasty dinner is a book light. An actual book that is also a light. Fascinating.

What you see there, in addition to lovely roommates and a tasty dinner is a book light. An actual book that is also a light. Fascinating.

Too many meals at my computer. Terrible habit!

Too many meals at my computer. Terrible habit!

Food

  • Snack: Green Juice from Pressed Juicery
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (25% whole eggs, 75% egg whites), steamed greens, chia seeds, 2 x large coffees with almond milk
  • Lunch: Salad with lots of veggies, grilled chicken, walnuts, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Raw veg and handful of almonds
  • Dinner: Vegan tamales, salad, avocado, rice, red wine
  • Loads and loads and loads of water and herbal teas (dandelion, peppermint, green)

Exercise:

  • Getting off at a bus stop farther away than my usual one. Lame, I know. But I was exhausted from stupid jet lag.

New year, new start, new post

Nothing quite like the 1st of January (or, ahem, the 5th of January), of a brand spanking new year to kick-start (or kick-resume, in actual fairness to myself) a healthy living regime. Yes, I am that cliche, how embarrassing for me.

resolution

But, regardless of how ridiculous new years’ resolutions can seem, particularly when viewed through the lens of years of dismal failures, it’s almost impossible NOT to make them. There’s no denying there’s a reason it all happens on January 1st.

Yes, yes, yes there’s obviously something very alluring about the fact that it’s a brand new year, a brand new month, a nice blank canvas upon which you can start to paint the masterpiece of your year ahead – your best work to date.

However, let’s face it – it’s almost 100% due to the fact that you’ve just spent one whole month (or maybe two if you’re particularly precocious) poisoning your body and mind with too much fun. Boozey fun. And chocolate. And booze filled chocolate. And, em, probably some cheese.

And so, when the 1st of January dawns upon the candy wrapper and champagne bottle-strewn wreckage of the holiday season, you feel so diseased and disgusting you determine that you will henceforth become THE 2015 HEALTHIEST HUMAN BEING THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN.

My other new year’s resolution is to set loftier goals for myself.

The good news is I’ve been living the healthy lifestyle already, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get back into the swing of things. I know my last post stopped on Day 43, but it was more to do with limited time as opposed to falling off the wagon. (Since I last wrote I managed to give up sugar for 5 weeks! More on this to come in another post, as I’m going to attempt to do the same thing again.)

So, here I am, back on the 100 healthy days challenge, on Day 1.

Wish me luck!

Mx

Day 43: Strategies for eating out in San Francisco

As anyone living in San Francisco will tell you, this is the best city to come to if you are a foodie. Not only are there amazing restaurants and food trucks, but also talking about food (and being a ‘foodie’) is a legitimate past-time…As well as blogging about food, instagramming food, yelping about restaurants. You even start to choose a potential date based upon how much they like to eat out!

foodie

Food plays an integral part of the socialising over here, and I love it!

(But not to the point where I instagram my food. I’m not that much of a douchey Foodie. Anyone else so bored by this?)

Obviously, however, to eat the healthiest you need to be at home cooking your own meals, so you know exactly what you’re eating.

BORING!!! How depressing would that be? Can you imagine turning down an opportunity to try out the latest hip restaurant in favour of eating a bowl of kale and broiled chicken on your tod. You’d want to kill yourself!

(Oh my God, I have the feeling that sounds like something a douchey Foodie would say).

So, really, if you want to go out and have a social life AND be healthy, you just have to get clever and have a few strategies up your sleeve. These are the ones I’m trying out for myself

1. Choose and reserve the restaurant beforehand.

Because there are so many options in San Francisco, it can get overwhelming and difficult to make a decision about where to eat – especially when you’re out and about. And when that happens you inevitably spend a good hour walking around in circles, until you get hangry, then you panic, have a fight with your dinner companions and end up storming into the nearest taqueria for a burrito, that you eat in a huff.

This is not fun for anyone and can lose you some friends.

So, instead do your research and choose the restaurant online beforehand. If you’re going with a group, offer to find and reserve for everyone. They’ll love you for it. My go-to in SF is OpenTable or Yelp (sorry Google+…).

Any other good sites out there?

2. If you can’t choose the restaurant, look at the menu before you go

Most restaurants will have their menus available online, so you can plan exactly what to order in advance. By doing that, you save yourself from getting swept up in the ordering frenzy and going for something unhealthy.

3. Load up on veg beforehand

Maybe even just before you go out. The French or Italians would freak at the thought of potentially ruining your meal by eating so close to dinner-time, but don’t mind them. It’s survival tactics here. And they’ve probably had 12 chocolate pastries already today.

4. Choose your vice

There are many fun things to indulge in at dinner – the bread, the wine, the pasta dishes the dessert. Decide which two of the four you want and don’t go near the others. Ie if you have wine and bread, avoid the tortellini and tiramisu.

5. Go for whole foods

Go for the steak, chicken or fish. They’ll be the healthiest because you know they probably won’t have added anything nasty into them.

This week is jam-packed with dinner dates, so I’ll get an opportunity to try out these tactics myself.

Tonight’s restaurant was Bistro Aix, in the Marina. This is a charming place, with great food, beautiful wine (chosen by the very dashing Johnny, who works there) and a lovely atmosphere. Complete with an indoor tree! I love indoor trees like you wouldn’t believe.

i had one slice of the bread, wine, beet and goat’s cheese salad and lamb meatballs with baby potatoes. I avoided the dessert, as per rule number 4. It looked so decadent…

Let’s see how I get on with the other dinners!

Day 42: Combatting sugar cravings with water

For a while now I’ve been battling some serious sugar cravings. Have you ever experienced this? The ‘can’t sit still at your desk, about to claw your nails down your face or throw someone down the stairs just to get to the granola jar faster’ kind of feeling.

sugar

When I first started the challenge I didn’t suffer from this at all. I actually wrote a post on Day 13 about the evils of breakfast cereal and boasted about the fact that I was able to breeze past the jars in work, and not be tempted to grab some.

Oh how cocky and naive I was!

What happened? Why am I suddenly afflicted like this? What was I doing differently back then?

Thinking back, I was more motivated, certainly – I was all keen to do the best job I could with the 100 Healthy Days Challenge. All the enthusiasm of someone starting out on a new project.

But I don’t think motivation, or lack thereof, is the reason.

What I really think was different was the water I was drinking. I was making a massive effort to drink water and herbal teas – nettle, dandelion and mint predominantly.

So, as an experiment I decided to drown myself with water and tea today. I constantly made sure I had a bottle of water and a herbal tea on the go. I probably drank more than I would normally, or felt like I needed.

And, good news – I didn’t have any sugar cravings today! I was once again able to breeze past the granola jar, mentally giving it the middle finger and a big #$% you. I’m hesitant to start the celebrations just yet. All too often I think I’ve solved my sugar issues, only to find myself nose deep in a cereal bowl.

Let’s just call this an interesting observation. And let’s just try it again tomorrow and see how we get on.

This is going to be my strategy for upping my water intake:

  • Keeping a large glass of water by my bedside and drinking the full thing as soon as I wake up in the morning.
  • Whenever I have a coffee, I’ll make sure to have a glass of water with it. Italians do this in bars all the time!
  • Drink water flavoured with natural fruit – we have lots of this in work. The new thing is basil flavoured water. Kids these days!
  • Carry a bag big enough to fit a bottle of water and make sure I have one when going out.

FYI – I also tried the below things as well, which apparently have an impact on blood sugar and sugar cravings.

  1. I did not eat any fruit
  2. I started taking a good probiotic
  3. I started taking Omega 3s
  4. I put cinnamon on everything!
  5. I upped the protein and healthy fat amounts in my salad – extra chicken, avocado and added in pumpkin seeds and olive oil

Fingers crossed we can have another good day tomorrow!

Food and Exercise

  • Snack: 10 almonds
  • Exercise: 45 mins spin with light weights
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (made with olive oil), steamed egg whites, chia seeds, steamed mustard greens and kale, raw peppers, large coffee with half and half
  • Lunch: Green salad, with chicken, avocado, olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Hummus with crudites – including PURPLE CAULIFLOWER
  • Dinner: Kale salad, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, cannelini beans, goat’s cheese, olive oil and apple cider vinegar
It's PURPLE

It’s PURPLE

Day 41: Ode to Spaghetti Squash

Since moving to San Francisco, my new favourite thing in life* is spaghetti squash. This is, in my mind, the savior that will rid the world of the evils of processed carbs and gluten.

spaghetti squash

This baby deserves a fist pump for being so healthy

For those of you unfamiliar, spaghetti squash is not pasta made from or with squash. It’s actually a VEGETABLE, itself a member of the squash family, and looks like this:

I'm a spaghetti squash, not a melon

I’m a spaghetti squash, not a melon

And when you cook it, it kind of looks like this:

Pretty standard, nothing to write home about yet

Pretty standard, nothing to write home about yet

And, then, this is where the magic happens; when you take a fork and rake it down the flesh of the cooked spaghetti squash, you get this:

Here's one I made earlier.  The pic doesn't do it justice.

Here’s one I made earlier. The pic doesn’t do it justice.

In other words, long strands that look and act exactly like spaghetti!!

The sheer and utter beauty of the spaghetti squash, lies in the fact that you don’t even need to use any fancy gadget, like a spiralizer, to turn the flesh it into strands. IT DOES IT BY ITSELF! And, to top it all off, you can cook it in the microwave and it’s ready in 15 minutes.

The discovery of spaghetti squash has pretty much changed my life for the better.

I am a pasta-fiend. I grew up in an Italian/Irish(Canadian/Scottish) household and while all my Irish friends were chowing down on Irish stew, Shepherd’s Pie or other meat, veg and potato combos, I was twirling and slurping my way through parmesan laden pasta dishes. To me, it’s the ultimate comfort food and reminds me of home.

But, of course, pasta is not necessarily the healthiest of dishes. All that icky gluten can cause reactions, and too many carbs give you back-fat (scientific term), so it can’t really feature regularly in a healthy eating regime, except as a treat. Cue 😦

But this is where spaghetti squash comes in! You get the bulk and strand-like consistency of spaghetti and you can pair it with all of your fave pasta sauces. Well, maybe not the carbonara…

The sad news is, I haven’t seen this outside of the US. Certainly not in Ireland anyway. My advice is to do anything you can to import/smuggle this sucker in – ethically and sustainably, of course.

(*I actually have multiple new favourite things in life since moving to San Francisco – bridges, Mission graffiti, margaritas, people watching in Dolores Park, farmer’s markets…I’m loving this city more and more every day).

Food and Exercise

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, with goat’s cheese, avocado and smoked salmon
  • Lunch: Smoked salmon, tbsp hummus and avocado
  • Snack: Chia seed pudding (chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla essence) with stewed apple
  • Dinner: Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, green salad, enochi mushrooms, 2x small pieces of bread with cheese, glass of wine (all homemade by Venessa – such a treat!)
  • Exercise: none – I was still to tired!!

 

Day 40: Ending a week of bad living

The most appropriate way to end a week of bad living – eating poorly, no exercising, general slovenliness-  is with a hangover.

Whilst it’s no fun for anyone, it serves two purposes:

  1. It’s a fitting punishment for the crime- after a week of abusing my body with food and unhealthy activities, I deserve to feel the effects of my bad behaviour in a physical way.
  2. It’s motivation to start leading a healthy lifestyle again.
Yes, I deserve it

Yes, I deserve it

Thinking about it, hangovers are actually excellent motivators for living a healthy life.

As you’re lying on the couch, with last night’s make up still caked on your face and that little stamp on your hand from that dodgy club, you’re filled with so much fear, shame and self-loathing that the only way to dig yourself out of it, is to promise yourself that it will Never. Happen. Again. And that starting from now you won’t drink any more, you’ll eat healthfully, cook from scratch, exercise daily, meditate every morning, spend quality time with your family, donate to charity, volunteer in the community and be the best damn human being you can be!

…Actually, let’s start from tomorrow. The take out is on the way and you’ve just accidentally eaten half the packet of cookies belonging to your roommate and being honest, you’re probably going to go in for a second round.

So, my advice to anyone looking to become healthier is to go out immediately, neck 10 margaritas, don’t eat dinner, dance on some tables, maybe kiss the barman and then watch your life magically transform for the better.

(NOTE: As always, I’m being slightly melodramatic. I actually wasn’t that hungover. I didn’t drink that much, but I was still exhausted and emotional, possibly from a cold. And I also think I’m allergic to alcohol!!! 😦 )

(NOTE #2: The night before the hangover was spent at the Hozier concert. He was playing the Regency Ballroom in SF, which is a brilliant venue. Small enough for it to feel intimate, pretty theatre-like building, ample bar staff. If you don’t know him, check him out. His voice is amazing. And he’s Irish. So, obviously I love him even more!)

Hozier, the big ride!

Hozier, the big ride!

So, what caused the week of bad living that ended with a hangover? God, what ever causes it?!? I always have so many theories on the subject. It could have been any and all of the below.

  • Out of my regular routine
  • Dehydrated
  • Time of the month
  • Sugary breakfasts
  • Busy at work
  • Exhaustion
  • Too many carbs
  • Not enough carbs

Suffice to say it happened and I got a hangover that caused sufficient pain, heart-ache and general self-loathing to prompt me into affirmative action. Once again. Yes everyone, once again I am hopping back onto the wagon, having yet again fallen off it.

But sure, as I learned this week (in an interesting talk on film-making that I attended), you need conflict for any great story with a happy ending. And if this challenge was going to be easy there wouldn’t be a point to it. The only thing I can do is dust the crumbs off, buy some brussel sprouts and get right back to it!

Food and exercise

Not going to get into the details of what I ate. But, randomly, the first thing I did when I woke up with my hangover was make Chia Seed pudding, which is what I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

Gelatinous muck or tasty breakfast? Maybe a combo of both.

I admit, it looks disgusting

I admit, it looks disgusting