Tag Archives: healthy eating rules

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.
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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

Day 38: Tips from Friends – Erin

Day 38, and I bring you my second installment of ‘Tips From Friends.’ Sometimes the best, most actionable advice for healthy living comes from the people around you.

Today’s tips come from my friend Erin, a Bay Area native. It’s quite rare to meet someone who is actually from here- so many people living in San Francisco are from other places. This is something that makes San Francisco super interesting to live in, but it’s always nice hanging out with someone who has the inside scoop on the fun things to do – both in the city and the surrounding area.

Click to picture below to watch the video. We even caught some of the Blue Angels practice in the background. Really cool! The Blue Angels come to SF for Fleet Week every October – basically an air show, with lots of stunts. There are also a lot of sailors in town as part of this…it’s a fun time for everyone! 😉

Click here to watch a video of Erin's healthy tips!

Click here to watch a video of Erin’s healthy tips!

If you don’t want to watch the video, here are her tips.

1. Take advantage of the many steep staircases in the city

  • The Lyon Street Steps, in The Presidio, are Erin’s favourite and the most well-known. (Erin was the second person to mention these to me this week. My friend Isabel wants to start a regular run there)
  • You can run or walk them – it’s all good exercise
  • It’s great for people watching!

2. Eat Californinian fresh produce and take advantage of companies like The Urban Pantry

  • The fresh fruit and veg in California is second to none, so take advantage
  • Use companies like The Urban Pantry, or Plated, who will deliver you organic food, all portioned out, so it makes cooking super easy! (I am definitely doing this – it will make cooking on tired days a lot more manageable)

3. Attend sporting events for motivation to get active

  • There are so many amazing sports teams in the area (Go Giants!)
  • Whenever Erin attends a game she’s super motivated to get outside and pick up a ball or tennis racket and get active (way better than drinking beer and eat hot dogs, which would probably have been the first thing I would want to do!)

Food and Exercise

  • Breakfast: Blueberries, Chia Seed paste (delish),greek yogurt, some granola, pineapple, coffee
  • Lunch: Salad with baked salmon
  • Snack: Banana
  • Exercise: Barry’s Bootcamp. Intervals. Lots of steep intervals.
  • Dinner: Gluten free pizza and salad.
  • Comment: Good day all round – the pizza was healthified. And I went to the cinema and had no snacks, which would have been the norm!

    Chia seed paste. Fascinating. You soak chia seeds overnight in almond milk or some other liquid and it becomes gelatinous. Actually delicious!

    Chia seed paste. Fascinating. You soak chia seeds overnight in almond milk or some other liquid and it becomes gelatinous. Actually delicious!

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!

Days 21-23: MIA- most likely found in the granola aisle

As you can most likely infer from the title of this post the past few days have been rough. So rough I haven’t been able to face blogging about them. And the lack of blogging, or rather the lack of full disclosure to the masses, most likely exacerbated the issue. If I had come clean, and faced the shame on day 21, I would have probably been able to bring myself back from the brink, instead of spiraling into the darkness… The nutty, oaty, cranberry-y darkness.

So, can you guess what caused this tremendous flying leap off the wagon?

image

Yes, granola.

I can hear you all sigh at your screens as you read this. ‘I knew this would happen. The way she talked about granola in the last post seemed slightly manic. Hysterical almost. A lady on the edge.’

And all I can say is you were right, how very astute of you, well done. Just, the next time, make sure you intervene, k? Wrestle the box out of my hands, if needs be. (It will probably be needed.)

So, what happened exactly?

I would say that over the past 3 days I’ve actually been 75% healthy. Lots of veg, lean protein, healthy fat. Exactly what the magazines tell you.

But the other 25%? I’ll give you the showreel- granola after dinner, granola for breakfast one day, granola as an afternoon snack, pasta (!) and eating ice cream out of the carton standing at the freezer (only one spoonful but it’s kind of the defining moment of those 3 days of madness).

I think the worst thing about this period was the feeling that I was out of control, that I couldn’t say no to the badness, that the granola had complete power over me. And then of course, there were the feelings of guilt and loathing. The beating myself up and telling myself I was a terrible person with no will power, who had just failed the 100 day challenge.

Needless to say they were some dark times, food wise.

But, I am happy to say I am back on track and committed one again to my 100 Healthy Days.

What helped me? Some words of wisdom from my roommate Venessa.

‘Have you ever thought about telling yourself nothing is off-limits?’ She asked.

‘Interesting question.’ I replied. ‘Never. That would just open the flood gates. I would be having carb fests morning, noon and night.’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘think about this. If you say to yourself there is no way in hell you can have that granola, all you’ll do is obsess about it and then eat the whole box.’

I nodded emphatically.

She continued ‘If you tell yourself instead, you can have a quarter of a cup of granola today, if you’re craving it, and then you can have another quarter of a cup the next day if you still want it, you kind of remove that sense of deprivation. And also the obsession.’

You know what, what Venessa said to me just made sense! And it allowed me to get back on track, almost immediately, funnily enough. Without wanting any more granola. It’s like the desire has been neutralised.

Funny how the mind works. You always want what you can’t have.

So, the next time I have an intense craving, I’m going to remember Venessa’s words and just have a tiny bit, with the thought that it’s there for me if I want it later. And I’m just going to focus on eating food that makes me feel good. Ie healthy stuff!

I’m not saying this is the end of my struggles, but it’s food for thought, and thought for food. (Haha dork).

And I’m now back in the saddle! Roll on Day 24!

Day 6: The 100 Healthy Days in SF Rules

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, steamed greens, raw red peppers, raw celery, coffee with milk

Exercise: 1 hour PT session

Lunch: Mixed salad with loads of veggies and grilled chicken, balsamic vinegar

Snack: Mixed salad with turkey and apple cider vinegar

Exercise: 1.5 hours hip hop class

Snack: One apple with a carton of plan chobani greek yogurt

Dandelion and nettle tea during the day

 

Photo Collage Maker_4YVFGk

 

Today was the first day back after vacation and I was ready to launch myself full throttle into the 100 Healthy Days challenge. I am feeling super motivated at the moment! May have something to do with all the fit bods on Venice.

IMG_20140901_113735

Muscle Beach, Venice. There was a body building competition on!

I thought it might be a good idea to ‘jot down’ ‘on paper’ (funny how that expression is now practically obsolete with the internet) what the rules of my 100 Healthy Days challenge are. Health and healthy eating can mean different things to different people. As such, I best be specific about what I’m doing lest I draw the wrath of any health zealots out there. ‘You ate store-bought Greek yoghurt?!? That’s not healthy – you need to buy a cow, and a field and make your own.’

 

I’ve also decided to approach this in stages. I don’t think it’s a wise move to radically change everything about your diet and your daily habits in one go. I tried that once and I lasted one very miserable day before gorging myself on ALL of the carbs, meat, sugar, coffee, salt, dairy, cooked veg etc etc that I came across. 

So, for the next 14 days these are my rules:

1. No processed carbs – bread, crackers, pasta (I’ve decided tortilla chips are fine. I’m not ready to let go yet).

2. No sugary foods – chocolate, ice cream (arrrghhhh), cakes etc

3. When I go out for a meal and host a dinner party I will limit myself to one glass of wine

4. When I go out for drinks or a night on the town I will limit myself to three vodka sodas

 

Sound simple? In theory, but I know i’m going to find this challenging. Particularly, the alcohol rules. No jokes about the Irish liking to drink please. 😉 Even though it’s probably true.

Let’s do this!

 

rules

The Canadian part of me loves rules.