Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

August 20, 2014

New skates!

I was able to start breaking in my new skates on Friday! I felt like Bambi on the ice – my feet felt so awkward! These new skates are at least a pound lighter than my old ones! I was able to do some spins, an axel, and a double salchow.

My second session on the new skates was yesterday. My spins felt faster and I could land double toes again. Progress!!! Not too bad for having barely skated in the last 8 years on brand new skates! I’m pretty confident that I will be able to get all my jumps back in no time.

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Over the weekend I attended the Leap for Lupus boogie. I only ended up doing 4 jumps, but it was awesome to see all my friends from all over the country, many of whom I hadn’t seen in several months. A lot of them commented on how happy and great I looked, so I guess what I feel inside again is really starting to show on the outside! Without sounding vain, I’ve noticed a significant increase in compliments. Or maybe it’s only because I feel confident enough to accept them again; depression made me insecure and withdrawn. The greatest compliment to me right now is “you look so happy!!” It’s true. I look happy because I am happy. As it often happens in my sport, I was once again reminded that life is precious and short. Who knows how long I have left on this earth? So I am promising myself to not only live, but to thrive. I suppose I will decide what that means with every choice I make on a daily basis. So far I think I am succeeding!

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My memberships to Bikram and the bouldering gym are very much being used on an almost daily basis. I have ran/walked/hiked more miles these last couple weeks than I probably have the last two years. I certainly have skated more than I have since I quit 8 years ago. My hobbies have become my passions again. I go to bed exhausted from a full day of work and exercise, but can’t sleep because I’m too excited for the next day!

And yes, this will revert back to being more of a food blog once the novelty of having my health back wears off!

August 15, 2014

My first float tank experience

Wow.

I have a list of what I have found to be spiritual experiences for me – where nothing else matters except for that moment, where nothing else seems to exist.

  • Freefall (skydiving)
  • Yoga
  • “Flying” across fresh powder on a snowboard
  • BASE jumping (although I quit, for now)
  • Sweeping mountain views with a gust of wind
  • Moments with the person you love

I can now add floating to that list after visiting Float Seattle yesterday! Float tanks are also known as isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks. You float in a tub of suuuuper salty water at skin temperature in complete darkness and silence.

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It only took me a few minutes to completely relax into my hour long session. I lost all track of time and space. It was as if my body had disappeared and there was just infinite nothingness, in a good way. I was only aware of my heart beating and my breathing if I focused on them. Otherwise I was just left with my innermost thoughts. With no external stimulation, the only thoughts I had were from deep within. At various points during the session, I had no thoughts at all! It was a profoundly relaxing and meditative experience.

I was very surprised that 99% of the thoughts passing through my mind were overwhelmingly positive. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety so much the past few years, this was extremely comforting and healing. I felt as though I had no more demons to fight even when I am completely alone with nothing but my thoughts. Thoughts of gratitude, hope, happiness, peace, and self-love continued to flow out as I floated – thoughts that seemed impossible for me to access even just a few months ago.

I left the tank feeling renewed and blissful. It will definitely become a regular part of my life.

In the float tank I had felt like I freed my mind from my body. About 10 hours later, I went to Bikram yoga to free my body from my mind. Being hyper aware of every part of my body with no other thoughts, I enjoyed how the “opposite” of my floating experience still led me to the same inner peace.

 

 

It has only been a week since my last migraine ended and I have been 100% free of pain and discomfort. But what a week! I finally bought new skating boots after 8 years to officially make it a part of my life again. I wake up early feeling excited and eager to move! I hate road running, yet I ran/walked 5k comfortably without pushing myself and still finished in 32 minutes. Not the ~20 minutes I used to be able to do, but definitely not a bad start!

In addition to the complete 180 improvement in how I feel physically and emotionally, there are visible changes to how I look. My skin is clear, soft, and glowing again. My body is firming up at a MUCH faster rate than I expected. My abs are making a comeback after 2+ years (see before and after pics)! It’s wonderful to see the outside reflect the changes on the inside.

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I know this is supposed to primarily be a food blog and I haven’t been posting much food. In addition to all these activities, I have also been working a lot so I don’t have much time to cook. I’ve also been making my meals and snacks super simple on purpose to reset my tastebuds. I’ve already stopped having cravings for non-paleo foods.

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Super greens, roasted chicken (olive oil, salt, pepper), and half an avocado. Blueberries for dessert.

Now I am off for a weekend of skydiving! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

 

August 12, 2014

Choosing health and happiness

Due to a recent breakup, I find myself faced with brief moments of sadness once or twice a day. I’ve noticed that it happens especially before I go to sleep and after I wake. Lucky for me, evenings and mornings are my most productive times of the day! Actually, it’s not even true sadness. It’s more of a bittersweet reminder that I have been given the opportunity to work on myself, by myself, for myself. Rather than succumbing to sadness and heartbreak, I make myself go do something that makes me happy. I absolutely know that I have a choice on how I deal with my emotions and that is amazing! I can choose happiness AND truly feel happy.

When I was dealing with depression and anxiety, there was no choice. No matter how much I wanted to be happy, it simply wasn’t an option for me. The darkness can be so overwhelming and so pervasive that there is no way to find that light switch for yourself. I suppose that’s why it becomes easy to cling to those rare, special people who somehow manage to shine their light into your darkness.

I am so grateful to have the ability to choose again. I guess that’s why I haven’t wasted my time dwelling on the past and the things I cannot change. I can only change myself and that is exactly what I have been doing, one day at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I also believe it’s healthy to let yourself feel sadness. I am just choosing to limit it to my time driving to whatever activity I planned for myself. The drive back is usually just full of exercise-induced euphoria …and singing! I also think that having experienced the lowest lows has made me a more compassionate, more loving, and ultimately more joyful person.

Each day I become a little stronger, a lot happier, and that much closer to the best version of myself. My friends are starting to notice and it means the world to me that they never forgot who I am, even if I did for a while. They tell me how I seem like the person they met – how visibly happy I am again and how my positive energy is infectious. It’s nice to have the love, support, and affirmation from others: “I am so happy for you!” “I love you!” and “I’m so proud of you!”

I am re-learning how to be happy for myself, to love myself, and to be proud of myself. I’ve been learning to celebrate every small victory and every forward step towards optimum health and happiness. Mondays are my days off and I went on my first real hike in over two years! (By real I mean at least moderately strenuous and 5+ miles.) By myself!

 

Ira Spring Trail and Mason Lake 

6.5 miles round trip, 2420′ elevation gain, highest point 4230′.

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I felt really out of shape on the way up. I managed to average about 23min/mi while having to take multiple water breaks to lower my heart rate. It didn’t help that I got a late start on a 90+ degree day.  I remembered how I used to run such trails and now I can only walk. I used to think 3 miles was nothing and now it’s like even a mile never ends!

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But then I finally reached Mason Lake. Alpine lakes are my absolute favorite places to eat. I changed into my sandals and found my lunch spot at the shore where I could keep my feet in the cool water. Then I savored each bite of my simple food and I could appreciate the nourishment. I felt I had not only earned the food, but the moment of tranquility. I even waded around the water like a little kid and almost fell! I love that I can still have fun and laugh by myself even at 27 years of age.

 

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The way back down was much easier. I felt energized and had an extra bounce to my steps. I never stopped and kept a brisk pace with a moderate heart rate. I skipped, I ran, I took in all the sights, and I let my hair loose when there were gusts of wind. I felt like Pocahontas. I even saw beauty in a few butterflies before remembering how terrifying they are!

By the time I returned to my car, I felt accomplished. I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt connected. And I felt absolutely beautiful. I cannot put into words how much I love mountains.

 

I recently re-read The Giver by Lois Lowry, one of my favorite childhood books:

Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.” 

This. Yes. Absolutely.

 

 

P.S. Bangarang!!!

August 9, 2014

Rediscovering the joys of exercise!

I became a bit of a couch potato while recovering from my knee injury and my surgery. It was really discouraging trying to return to my hobbies post-op. It was painful and I had no energy. I realized that most of what I do for exercise take tremendous amounts of energy and fitness. Getting in shape is hard, staying in shape is easy, but getting BACK in shape seems impossible! It’s so discouraging when I can’t do something that used to be easy. It’s depressing when your mind and body remembers exactly how to do something, but you no longer have the strength and endurance to do it. I also had zero motivation while I was dealing with depression, anxiety, severe breast pain, and migraines as a result of hormonal BC. I take full responsibility for my own laziness; I’m not trying to make excuses!

It has now been two months since I had my IUD removed – one good month followed by one really horrible month. Then a few days ago I suddenly woke up feeling good. So I went skating. The next day I woke up feeling great. So I went skating AND bouldering. I then realized it was the BEST I had felt in over two years!!

 

Yesterday I woke up completely headache free for the first time in over a month. So I went for a trail run. The views, the solitude, and the runner’s high… How did I ever let that go??

 

Today I woke up feeling AWESOME so I decided to go to Bikram in the morning. I’ve tried over the last year to go back to Bikram yoga, but would have to leave the class early due to pain or migraines. This morning I was able to finish a class without any breaks and feel the amazing mind & body high that I experience while practicing yoga. I can’t believe I almost forgot how amazing that feels. I felt so silly because I couldn’t help but smile to myself at every savasana. 🙂

Dare I say that I am finally 100% prescription medication and synthetic hormone free?!? I have no idea what else may come up in the future, but I will never stop moving living ever again! I’m super excited to be sharing my nutrition and fitness journey with you all again!

P.S. I bought a juicer last year. (I did a lot of binge online shopping while recovering. Not a coffee drinker, yet felt the need for a french press and milk frother. wtf was I thinking?) I’m trying to use it more so I can justify the purchase.

1 bunch kale, 2 cucumbers, 3 small carrots, parsley, 2 lemons, and spirulina. Does anyone know the best way to blend in the spirulina??

 

August 9, 2014

Almost 2 years since my last post…

The last two years have been rather tempestuous. I let myself become a shell of my former self and mostly lost my super active lifestyle. There were four main reasons for this:

1. Skydiving – 2012-2013 were full of skydiving and tunnel trips. Since I was spending so much time and money on achieving those goals, I had to sacrifice some of my other hobbies. But it was totally worth it! I had the time of my life on some of these trips, met tons of awesome people, and was a part of the women’s vertical world record!

2. Sprained MCL – I hurt my knee in January last year and was in enough pain to stop exercising. I finally saw a doctor and got a knee brace only to be told that I can ride stationary bikes, use the elliptical machine, and swim – NONE of which were appealing to me. 

3. Surgery – I was supposed to have a laparoscopic cystectomy to remove large cysts on both ovaries. They ended up being melon sized so it became a laparotomy. Recovery was horrendous and long. Also, Dilaudid (hydromorphone) became my new favorite thing… I experienced withdrawal for the first time too.

4. Hormonal birth control – Due to my history with migraines, I chose progestin-only options: Depo Provera and then the Mirena. Worst mistake of my life would be an understatement. Severe mood swings to the point of being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, weight gain, pain, migraines, etc. I was a mess. Post-Mirena, I dealt with a whole new set of issues. I am happy to say it seems to finally be over… 

I’ve been slowly switching my eating and exercise habits back to what they used to be. Today I decided to blog again! Reading my old posts have been inspiring and I’m excited to be back on track! 

September 5, 2012

Too much skydiving and not enough blogging

I feel like I’ve been failing all my readers! I’ve been jumping more than ever this season and have done about 130 jumps since March! That’s nothing for lots of skydivers, but for me it’s a lot! I’ve also been traveling a lot to boogies in order to jump. In early August when I last blogged, I was about to go to Skydive Chicago for Summerfest! A couple weekends ago I was at Skydive Oregon for the All of the Above Boogie. What’s a boogie? Think lots of skydivers, lots of jumps, lots of food, and lots of booze. Something along those lines. I’ve recently discovered that describing skydiving to non-skydivers is rather difficult! I’m attending a couple more boogies this year before I hibernate in the tunnel during the winter.

Remember how I’ve always said that skydivers have the best BBQs? Well Skydive Oregon actually found two Hawaiians so that we could have Kalua pork. Real Kalua pork. From the ground! The meat was just falling off the bone! It was delicious and very much paleo.

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Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to stay paleo whenever I go to boogies. Dropzones tend to be located in the middle of nowhere and you eat what you can find!

Here’s a video from the Oregon boogie. See if you can spot me! I’m the one in all black with the pretty turquoise and black rig (the backpack thing).

I haven’t been cooking anything new lately so I haven’t had much to post. I’ll try to be more creative with my food choices this next week so I can start blogging again!

One more thing – I started Bikram yoga again after too many months off. My first time back was horrific. I thought I was going to pass out! It was like alternating waves of nausea and euphoria. I still managed to feel a body high despite feeling super sick! I’m definitely not in hot yoga shape anymore, but I’m working on it again!

March 8, 2012

Apologies for the lack of updates!

Life and vacation got in the way of blogging this past month. Thanks to my macaw, I also haven’t had a functioning laptop in a while! But I have some new posts coming up in the next few days. Looking forward to sharing more food with everyone!

All my baking includes coconut flour and I realized the importance of it when I tried baking with only almond flour. Disastrous!!! It was a mushy mess with bread and a flat puddle with cookies. Time to stock up on coconut flour!

I’ve also developed an addiction to coconut butter. It’s amazing! I eat it out of the jar with a spoon. It’s even better combined with spoonfuls from a jar of raw honey. I went through a whole jar of coconut butter so fast! While good for you, it’s super high in calories! So I will not be purchasing coconut butter again anytime soon, I have no self control.

Check back this weekend for new food posts! Thanks!

January 10, 2012

80% Paleo, 20% Paleo-friendly!

While I’ve been showing you what I eat, I don’t think I’ve blogged much on how I’ve interpreted the paleo diet to fit my life. After over a year of being paleo, I have a pretty good handle on my eating habits and I’ll share how I’ve made this lifestyle work for me.

As I’ve mentioned before, eating paleo is not about adhering to a strict diet full of exclusions and restrictions. To me, it’s about following the main principles as well as you personally can as a part of a health-promoting lifestyle. I find that the paleo diet is pretty flexible and customizable to individual needs. I believe eating good food (high in nutrients, low in antinutrients and toxins) is the most important and easiest way to better health. But you also want to eat GOOD food (delicious, emotionally satisfying, happiness-inducing) because overall good health isn’t just physical! Although I primarily view food as fuel and medicine for the body, it also embodies love, comfort, memories, culture, etc. and I think cutting out every “bad” GOOD food would be detrimental to my non-physical health and quality of life.

It appears that strict paleo opposes paleofying your favorite non-paleo foods because junk food is still junk food even if its ingredients fit the paleo mold. I personally see nothing wrong with making paleo-friendly versions of my favorite non-paleo foods, especially treats and desserts. Otherwise, I would never have been successful in making the lifestyle change and enjoying my current awesome state of health. It does not make you want to revert to an unhealthy diet or want the real thing; it satisfies cravings and usually tastes better to your changed palate than the non-paleo original! It makes lifelong paleo eating a realistic, possible, and easily attainable goal. I also have a lot of fun trying to paleofy non-paleo recipes.

The “80% paleo for 90% of the benefits” 80/20 ratio thing never made sense to me, because I’d feel sick all the time with 20% of my diet including glutenous non-paleo food full of refined sugars and bad fats. Instead, I eat 80% paleo, 20% paleo-friendly. Of course there are times I indulge in a non-paleo meal so incredibly amazing that the nausea and regret afterwards is worth it, like multi-course tasting menus at my favorite fine dining restaurants. But these instances are becoming rarer the longer I eat paleo and as more restaurants jump on the gluten-free bandwagon. Besides, “80% paleo, 20% paleo-friendly” sounds better than something like “80% paleo, 12.6% paleo-friendly, 4.9% non-paleo, 2.5% mystery/unknown.”

I follow my own personal guidelines for the 20% paleo-friendly part of my diet. I consider a dish to be “paleo-friendly” if it’s mostly paleo except for a few ingredients that I personally approve  of eating in moderation (based on my own preferences and research), but are restricted by strict paleo guidelines (e.g. Whole30). These ingredients include:

  • Dairy – Allowed in the primal diet, which is very similar to paleo. I don’t notice a difference when I eat a little butter or cheese, but I avoid milk, cream, and yogurt.
    • Butter – Pastured and/or clarified butter only
    • Cheese – Small servings of high quality, really good, artisan cheeses
  • Natural sugars – These unrefined or minimally processed sugars have low glycemic indices and loads while containing important micronutrients, as well as amino acids and antioxidants. Nutrient composition depends on quality and source.
    • Coconut palm sugar – My favorite white/brown sugar substitute for its versatility, taste, and nutrition!
    • Raw honey  – I think local raw honey is also helpful for seasonal allergies
    • Agave syrup – Not used at home, but is the sweetner in my two favorite store-bought treats, Merry’s Miracle Tarts and Coconut Bliss.
  • Alcohol – Many studies have strongly and consistently associated moderate alcohol consumption with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s also ridiculous how many social situations call for alcohol when you’re 20-something years old. I don’t use a mixer unless fresh squeezed citrus juice is available, or soda water with lime.
    • Wine – for drinking and cooking
    • Tequila
    • Ciroc – a brand of vodka distilled from grapes, either
  • Starches – Safe starches that are allowed in the Perfect Health Diet, which is similar to primal except the large recommended amount of starches. I previously considered adding starches to my diet to increase my caloric intake, but I didn’t like how I felt slow and tired. Besides butternut squash, I don’t consume very many starchy foods.
    • Sweet potato – I especially like the smaller Asian kind with the reddish/purplish skin and yellow flesh is a sweet cold weather snack when baked/roasted, eaten hot and plain (Korean-style).
    • White rice – Rice is gluten free and the antinutrients are in the hull (brown rice). I never liked rice much, so it was super easy to cut out for the most part. I love nigiri sushi (sometimes sashimi isn’t enough) and homemade Korean rice cakes made with sweet rice flour.
  • Fermented soy products – Soy is REALLY bad for you with its high levels of toxic phytochemical anti-nutrients linked to all sorts of diseases. But I grew up only hearing about the health benefits of soy as a part of all the ancient Korean wisdom passed down to me. As far as I know, traditional Korean cuisine, which I believe is one of the healthiest in the world, has included fermented soybean products for thousands of years, along with tofu and sprouted soybean. Researching, I found that fermentation (also extensive soaking and cooking to a lesser degree) removes the anti-nutrients and releases the nutrients to make moderate consumption safe and nutritious for humans. Ancient Korean/Chinese food wisdom is pretty fascinating to me because science is now starting to support what our ancestors figured out thousands of years ago.
    • Korean condiments: Soybean paste, hot pepper paste, and soy sauce – These are all derived from “meju”, which is made by boiling the soybeans, crushing them, forming into blocks, and letting them mold over and ferment. My grandma makes this every few years to make all the condiments and it smells AWFUL. You can find prepackaged condiments at Asian grocery stores, but they don’t taste as good and may contain additives. Consumption really is very moderate, e.g. a tablespoon of soybean paste is used to make a stew serving four people.
  • 85+% Extra dark chocolate – The darker the better, I love 90% cacao! Make sure the ingredients are cacao, cacao butter, sugar, and vanilla. Nothing else, watch out for soy lecithin! Theo Chocolates and Lindt both make great 90% bars, the former is also organic and fair trade.

Ultimately, eating non-paleo every once in a while doesn’t hurt when you look at the big picture. Following the paleo diet basically gives you a set of rules that keeps you from consuming processed foods, preservatives, anti-nutrients, toxins, allergens, etc. and leaves you very few unhealthy food options. I think the biggest difference in I feel now comes from being gluten-free because that was the biggest change to my diet – from a pre-paleo diet full of all the wheat flour-based carbs and whole grains we’re  conditioned to eat to a paleo diet with zero grains. I also only feel really sick after eating a lot of glutenous food, not from eating dairy, legumes, or refined sugar. So my #1 rule is don’t eat gluten, I can deal with everything else. #2 is everything in moderation!

January 3, 2012

Coq au vin

Peasant food from any country seems to be so comforting, especially on a cold, windy, winter day! I finally went grocery shopping today and I made coq au vin for dinner.

Grocery haul
– Prosciutto
– Wild smoked salmon (small amount of brown sugar)
– Kerrygold unsalted butter (Irish butter is pasture butter. I plan on making clarified butter for hollandaise sauce)
– coconut flour
– almond flour
– unsweetened coconut flakes
– virgin coconut oil
– coconut palm sugar
– grassfed ribeye steak
– grassfed ground beef
– ground lamb
– local whole chicken
– free range eggs
– pancetta
– Fresh thyme, parsley, cilantro
– Brussels sprouts
– Guacamole

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I looked at both Julia Childs’ and Ina Garten’s coq au vin recipes online to make mine. I used pancetta instead of bacon, used olive oil instead of butter except for when I made the roux with coconut flour to thicken the liquid. And I didn’t have pearl onions on hand so I just had big slices of yellow onion. I used half a $9 bottle of pinot noir, though I generally prefer using a burgandy. I basically didn’t measure anything and just threw it all in hoping for the best. So I don’t really have a recipe for you guys, but it’s super easy to adjust any coq au vin recipe to be paleo! Unless you’ve completely sworn off all alcohol…

My coq au vin should be called poulet violet à la fille impatiente (purple chicken by the impatient girl)! I am really bad at making slow food, especially when I am super hungry! I didn’t brown the chicken enough and adding the wine turned my chicken purple. I tried it the first time when the chicken was cooked before sufficiently thickening the stew- not so good. I went back and reduced the liquid to make a nice sauce- very good.

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I used a whole chicken but saved a breast to eat tomorrow! I have no idea what to do with it yet. Day 3 of my paleo challenge went great! It’s super easy for me to stick to it after a year of the paleo lifestyle… But only as long as I go grocery shopping and have food on hand!

January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

2011 was one of the best years of my life in terms of health, fun, and personal growth. I didn’t have a single cold or flu and am in the best shape of my life! I became massively addicted to tunnel flight and have probably flown around 20 hours. Most importantly, I figured out what I want to do with my life and have taken the necessary steps towards the beginning of my chosen career in public health nutrition!

It’s finally 2012!! I have so much to look forward to this year! I am almost done with all my grad school apps, hopefully I’ll get in somewhere so I can start school in the fall! I have many fun trips coming up- Utah for a tunnel camp in 11 days, Hawaii in February, southern CA for skydiving in March… And once I know where I’ll be attending school, hopefully I’ll be able to take a month or two to travel around Europe and/or S. America this summer! 2011 was full of out of state trips for tunnel time, I think 2012 should be full of international travel because this globetrotter is majorly suffering from
wanderlust!

I started a 30 day paleo challenge yesterday to start off my year! It’s going to be a challenge to stay paleo during my upcoming 4night trip to Utah, but I am motivated! I’m basically doing the Whole 30, but allowing MINIMAL amounts of 90% dark chocolate (no soy lecithin, small amount of sugar) and wine (for cooking and social drinking situations). The last two days have felt awesome after a month of inconsistent holiday eating.

My only new year’s resolution is to continue living my life to the fullest! 2012 is going to be awesome. 🙂

I celebrated NYE dancing all night with friends at Resolution. I don’t go out much anymore since it’s not so compatible with my current healthy lifestyle, but I still love it! The theme was white and gold so I made a fun costume.

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I’m excited for another year of blogging! I’ll be back to posting food tomorrow! Hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s!