Tag Archives: health challnge

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

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Day 31: It ended with a burrito

Day 31 ended with a burrito. A big, fat, chicken one. With guac.

But it had started so well!

I had woken up early, loving the fact that I had such a clear head on a Saturday. Sad to say,  but that’s not been the norm to date – Friday nights out on the town are one of my most favourite things in life.  As a result, I felt like I could conquer the world! Or at the very least conquer my bad habits and have a golden day*.

Mags and I went to Barry’s Bootcamp in the morning and killed the workout. (Big fan now, by the way. Huge.) This was followed by a green juice from Pressed Juicery and a healthy brunch of eggs and salmon in Savor., Noe Valley.

‘No, bread,’ I told the waiter, with a smug smile. ‘And, no, I don’t want a box for those potatoes I left behind.’

Success!

Next stop after brunch, was none other than Dolores Park. Thinking about it, I really should have anticipated my downfall.

A bunch of us had decided to go watch the movie they were showing that night, as part of their movie series. I was so excited about it! This is such a Californian thing to do, in my mind. The fact that you can sit outside, in a park and watch a movie and not have to worry about rain, or wind or the gangster pigeons you’d sometimes get in a Dublin park – it blows the mind.

The movie started at 8.30pm, so the plan was to get there at 3.30pm to secure a good spot and have a picnic beforehand.

The fatal mistake I made was not planning what to bring in advance.

I was running late and still full from brunch, so I thought I wouldn’t need to eat anything (eh, in what world would that ever happen, Michelle??). I then wanted to get some alcohol like all the cool kids were doing so I went into the Bi-Rite Market near the park. It was so jammed I ended up panic buying some BEER!

It all went downhill from then.

Of course, the others had brought an amazing spread with them, and of course, I got hungry so I was powerless to resist.

So, first this happened:

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Then this

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Being honest, this would have happened anyway. Mags made some home-made Irish scones and they were delish!

And then flash forward, past a few handfuls of kettle chips, more beer, dancing at a friend’s house, out to a bar, another beer, and then finally this happened:

Photo Collage Maker_VBaWic

Despite having grazed all day my stomach was hungry for something more substantial and nourishing. A burrito was the perfect answer, obvs!

But, fate, the heavens and the angels are obviously all working hard to keep me on my healthy eating track.

Just as I was sitting down at the kitchen table, all set to enjoy my greasy, fatty, unhealthy indulgence, my roommate Quinn suddenly appeared at the door.

‘YOU’RE EATING A BURRITO?!?’ he cried, incredulously.

Caught in the act, with the burrito half-way to my mouth.

Note, Quinn doesn’t even know about my 100 Healthy Day Challenge, by the way. He’s just a Californian and the idea of eating a burrito, late at night, was probably just shocking in general to him.

‘Emmm, yes,’ I replied, red-faced, ‘Hungry, you know.’

He stared at me, still in obvious shock.

I looked down and the burrito, and back to him.

‘Actually, you know what, this is way too big for me. I’m stuffed.’ (Lies, pure lies). ‘Do you want some?’

I could see the same internal, mental struggle I was suffering from, painted on his face.

‘Well, maybe just a bite,’ he said, after a while.

And proceeded to eat the whole thing.

The next day I woke up, feeling thankful for the unexpected intervention. One of these days, I will be able to intervene on my own behalf and truly have the, as of yet, elusive golden Saturday.

This day was not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. But, I am determined to plan better for the next time.

(*NOTE: A golden day is what I’m calling a day where I make all the right decisions from a healthy living point of view.)

Day 30: Tips from friends

There is an abundance of healthy, beautiful, tanned and toned people here in San Francisco.

To the point where I was about ready to hop back on the plane to Dublin when I first arrived. I don’t belong here, I’m an imposter! My shins are too pale to wear shorts every day.

But after a while I realised:

1. I’m not the only one with pale shins. We’re in the tech nerd capital of the world after all, filled with engineers who have pale everything.

2. I can actually use this situation to my advantage – make friends with these beautiful people and get their secrets!

So, that’s what I’m doing – interviewing my group of SF friends to get their top tips for staying healthy.

We’re starting off with Anna. Anna is actually Irish, but she does a very good job of blending in with the beautiful locals. And not only does she look great, she’s also a qualified nutritionist so she speaks the truth.

Watch the video by clicking on the picture below. This was taken on Day 31 at Dolores Park. Blog entry on this tomorrow.

(Note, this is my first time making a video. I’ll get better!)

Watch Anna's top healthy tips here

Watch Anna’s top healthy tips here

If you’re not into videos, her tips written down are:

  1. Find an active, social sport you enjoy
    • Her sport of choice is spinning, which is close to where she lives
    • She tries to do it 2-3 times a week
    • If she doesn’t hit that number, she doesn’t beat herself up about it, she just pushes hard the next week
  2. At a picnic, go for the low-cab options
    • Avoid things like kettle chips (And Anna actually did avoid these things! Unlike myself. I had to actually throw that bag of kettle chips over to the other side of the picnic blanket to avoid them.)
    • It’s OK to have a beer, but limit the number you have
    • 1 drink during the day is worth 2 beers at night – so be careful as you could actually get more drunk day-drinking
  3. Walk as much as you can
  4. On a night out drink red wine, gin or vodka and soda
    • Have the vodka and soda with lots and lots of lime as it makes it taste better

Thanks for the healthy tips Anna, what a super star! Stay tuned for more tips from friends.

Food and Exercise

I just had a couple of those tortilla chips and guac!

I just had a couple of those tortilla chips and guac!

  • Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, steamed Kale, raw celery and watemelon
  • Lunch: Chicken salad, with peaches and grapes and jalapeno peppers (random but tasty!)
  • Snack: Glass of wine…
  • Dinner: Salad with garbanzo beans and some kind of cheese (in a bar) and San Pelligrino
  • Snack: Glass of wine and like two-three tortilla chips with guac.
The late night snack with Lysbet, Isabel and Dzuy

The late night snack with Lysbet, Isabel and Dzuy

Day 29: The power of a compliment – for good or for bad

I’ve been working on living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle for a while now- probably around 3 months or so. Even before starting this blog, I’d been working out hard and paying more attention to my diet.

Slowly, slowly I’ve started to think I can see a change in my body – oh, are my jeans a little looser? Is that a tricep I can see? Does my face look a little thinner? Hmmm, perhaps, that’s kind of cool.

Some wise words to bear in mind!

Some wise words to bear in mind!

It wasn’t until Mags told me that she thought my legs looked a lot more toned recently, that I really started to believe it. What a rush – I was ecstatic, overjoyed, over the moon, thrilled to bits! If she saw it, then it must be true. The impact those words had on me was huge – I was instantly more motivated, more confident, I felt so great about myself. My new, healthy lifestyle was working!

When I calmed down a little later I started to think about my reaction. Why hadn’t I reacted the same way when I noticed a difference myself? Was I really so reliant on other people to buoy up my self-esteem?

I came to the sad conclusion that, yes, this was absolutely the case.

Case in point – my sister Lindsey got married about 4 months ago. I was living in San Francisco and had been making a huge effort to get in shape. There was no way I was going to be the out-of-shape, single, older sister at the wedding. So I worked hard, saw some nice results and was pretty happy with myself getting on the flight to Dublin.

When I touched down I was so thrilled to see my family, obviously. But there was a small part of me that was also looking forward to hearing how great I looked, how fit and toned. And whilst I did hear this, in the midst of all the other hyper chats as we drove home, there was a part of me that didn’t think the compliment was complimentary enough.

And, tragically, I let that totally effect the way I saw myself. Maybe I hadn’t done a good enough job, I should have worked out more, I should have eaten less, I had failed.

Looking back on this I feel so sad about it. I should have been content enough with my own progress that a compliment from my family would have been the cherry on top of an already delicious cake. (A healthy, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free cake obvs).

So, this is what I’m now working on. Being my own biggest fan, complimenting myself every day on the changes I see and accepting all other compliments, or lack thereof, with grace.

I’m also trying to dish out more compliments when I notice something to be complimented. Just cos it is pretty cool to hear!

Food and exercise:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, chia seeds and steamed kale
  • Lunch: Chicken Salad
  • Snack: Yogurt and banana
  • Dinner: Beef Pho and garlic noodles (basically noodles on noodles. Sigh). Lysbet and I went to Sunflower in Potrero Hill. This is an amazing Vietnamese restaurant, in the most adorable neighbourhood.  The Bold Italic recently ran a spotlight article on the hood. Check it out!
Lysbet with our left-overs outside Sunflower. I was somewhat healthy and didn't eat the entire portion, which was enough to feed four people!

Lysbet with our left-overs outside Sunflower. I was somewhat healthy and didn’t eat the entire portion, which was enough to feed four people!

Day 27: Zombie-like exhaustion

Absolute and utter exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks on Day 27. I pretty much spent the majority of the work day like this.

I think our strategy going forward, should involve napping

I think our strategy going forward, should involve napping

Actually, that’s too cute-looking. In fact, it was more like this:

What do you mean I look tired? I'mma go zombie on your ass

I look tired, you say?

Zombie-like exhaustion is the perfect way to describe it.

I dragged myself, from meeting to meeting, struggling to keep my swollen, tired eyes open and contributing nothing of value to the conversations, aside from the odd snarl to let people know I was still alive. How to not make friends and influence people!

In addition, I wanted to eat EVERYTHING around me. ALL of the food. I was ready to upend the entire jar of granola straight into my mouth, followed by a carton of FULL FAT milk, right there in the middle of the kitchen, not caring who saw me.

Needless to say, my body was definitely crying out for fuel just in an effort to keep itself awake and functioning.

I was never more thankful to see the back of a working day. And I was never more thankful for having a long commute home. I fell asleep as soon as I sat down on the bus!

(This actually isn’t unusual for me. I practically have a super-human ability to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere, in under 5 seconds flat. My friends Marie and Kate, who both suffer from sleep issues, hate me for it. I’m convinced they always try to wake me up on purpose when we’re on long-haul flights together. Don’t hate me cos I sleep well).

Whilst Day 27 was a tough one, it ended in the nicest possible way – with the offer of a home-cooked meal from Venessa. Venessa is the ‘house-mom’ and an amazing cook! In under 30 minutes she can whip up a feast fit for a herd of ravenous zombies. So, rather than cave into the exhaustion and order a take-out, which is what I think would have happened if left to my own devices, I sat down to freshly baked Irish soda bread, quinoa and roasted veg and homemade beans. I was never more happy or thankful.

I’ve been mulling over the reasons why I was so exhausted on this day.

It could have been the fact that I stayed up slightly later than usual watching TOWIE – a trashy reality TV show set in Essex in England. Totes amazeballs. Even Lysbet, a pure Cali girl, thinks it’s well funny.

But, now I know, for a fact, that it was all the fault of ‘that time of the month’ (these words should be said in an exaggerated stage voice, looking furtively over your shoulder to make sure nobody heard you).

I know this because:

  1. ‘That time of the month’ happened the VERY NEXT DAY
  2. It was exactly the same as last month. Utter exhaustion and pure chaos from a health eating perspective.

When I stopped to think about it, it all made sense – the granola obsession, bad skin, blah blah blah. I’ve basically been PMS-ing my way through the entire week.

I should obviously have copped on to this sooner – the whole thing happens like clockwork, obvs. But, funnily enough, I haven’t paid close enough attention until writing this blog.

The good thing is I can take action for the next time. The two things I always hear recommended for bad PMS are Omega 3s (EPA/DHA) and Evening Primrose oil.  I buy the Minami Nutrition brand of Omega 3s as I’ve heard from personal trainers it’s high quality. Omega 3s are also apparently great for fat loss!

Needless to say I will be stocking up for next month!

Food and exercise

I was too tired to take pictures of food today. But to sum up:

  • Breakfast: oatmeal and flaxseed, bee pollen, apple and a little bit of peanut butter
  • Exercise: 1 hour of PT
  • Lunch: Salad with chicken, avocado, quinoa, grapes
  • Snack: Granola – not the whole jar but a big bowl with some yogurt and berries
  • Dinner: Roasted veg, quinoa, homemade beans, fresh bread, 2 squares of dark chocolate

Day 25: A Healthy Day in Nob Hill Spa

The secret to good health lies beyond simply eating right and regular exercise. Man cannot live by broccoli and cardio pump alone.

It’s so important to pay attention to your mental, emotional and spiritual needs as well. When these are neglected you often see a manifestation of that neglect in your body- stress, breakouts, exhaustion, headaches, weight gain.

This is how I justify my small, and slightly expensive, obsession with day spas. In my mind, it’s the perfect place to meet every single one of your health needs.

On Day 25 I took myself off with a group of 4 girlfriends to Nob Hill Day Spa. This was my first time going, and I must say I enjoyed every lavender-scented minute of it.

We were there for 9am, which was a good call, as it got a little more crowded later on (but not uncomfortably so). They have all of the usual amenities you would expect from a day spa – robes and slippers, a relaxation room, pool, hot tub, sauna all of which were perfect. The relaxation room was kind of small though, with only 4 loungers. In saying that, I was always able to nab one when I wanted it so it wasn’t an issue.

The relaxation room is always my favourite part of a spa. As soon as I sick down onto the lounger, and drape the blanket over me I can almost physically feel the stress draining away from my muscles. It’s magical. I’m a bit of an introvert as well so I love just sitting there, not needing to talk, just thinking and staring off into space.

And then of course you have the all the free beverages and snacks – herbal teas (ever try rooibos and coconut – yum), fruit and then if you’re feeling especially naughty- chocolate almonds and trail mix. And before you ask, no I did not go there. My ‘indulgence’ of choice was some dried fruit. I had a huge dried pear. Party. Girl.

Our healthy lunch was then served out on the balcony with a lovely view of the city. All of the lunch options were pretty much healthy. Even the ‘sandwich’, where they had replaced the bread with turkey slices.

It was such a lovely day and I left feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and balanced.

And then our afternoon took a slightly kookier, kinkier turn with a decision to check out the Folsom Street Fair. This is not your average family, street fair! You will not find any cotton candy, face painters or quaint singer songwriters. I’m not going to elaborate, but there was a lot of leather. And whips.

This was such a ‘San Francisco’ event to witness – a group of people openly and unabashedly indulging in what makes them happy. Leave your prejudices (and pretty much most of your clothes) at the door. I stuck out like a sore thumb, with Irish Catholic school girl written all over my slack-jawed face, despite my attempt at nonchalance. We left pretty quickly needless to say, wishing them all well with their leather-clad endeavors!

Just your usual San Francisco weekend really.

Food:

NOTE: After the spa we went to Tartine, a renowned San Francisco bakery, for a snack. This place is amazing for baked goods and of course constantly has lines out the door. Their lemon cream tart was recently listed as one of the top 50 treats to eat before you die. I am happy to tell you I did not have anything. I had a cup of tea and only drooled a small amount while the others tucked in.

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  • Breakfast: 3/4 small pot of low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 banana, 4 strawberries, 6 pecans, 1 tbsp chia seeds, large coffee with milk
  • Snack: Pear and some dried fruit
  • Lunch: Salade Nicoise, coffee with milk
  • Snack: Dried fruit
  • Dinner: Wholegrain pasta, with left-over meat loaf and a green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, 1 sml glass of wine