Tag Archives: caffeine

At the finish line: day 10

Wow, well that went by pretty fast,  in retrospect anyway. Here it is, day 10 of the fall consciousness cleanse and I made it: phew! There were some challenges, some moments, when I almost caved in….. but just knowing that I am accountable to all of you kept me going when my own will/wantpower wasn’t quite enough.

This last weekend was probably the hardest for me in terms of not having that evening glass of wine so I purposely kept my days(evenings) clear of extra social gatherings. I did go to one party last week and then out with my friend Chris(who also successfully has made it through: today is her day 11!). Instead of wine, I had some perrier and water and it felt great.

So what have I noticed after 10 days without caffeine, alcohol, sugar and the whites? First of all,  my sleep was deep, filled with dreams and I woke up refreshed each morning(sometimes I was wide awake 20 minutes before my alarm clock and could just enjoy those last stolen minutes before getting out of bed). Second, my energy was more even throughout the day and particularly in the early and late afternoon. Previously, I often would reach for a cup of coffee at around 2 pm to fight the urge to take a nap, which doesn’t fit into my work schedule, imagine that! Third, I felt more satisfied and full after a meal filled with clean foods, each one a bundle of powerful nutrients. I stopped craving anything sweet after a few days, although by day seven I could have snarfed down some lovely rich chocolate. Instead I tried a new fruit, a persimmon: wow, is that one sweet and yummy fruit. Fourth, although I consider myself somewhat of a foodie, I pushed myself to try new things: quince, persimmons, carrot chips for starters. I also discovered some new teas for my collection:  sugar cookie sleigh ride(sounds decadent: it’s not!),sugar plum spice, pumpkin spice and several new green teas.  Fifth, my clothes are looser as my weight dropped between 3 and 4 pounds, which I really noticed around my middle: that dreaded menopot!

Overall, my mood was even, my energy great and my body feels strong and ready to gear up for the holidays. Most of all, I feel empowered in knowing that I CAN DO THIS when I set my mind and soul to it. I have heard from quite a few of you who went all for the ride, some of you the entire way, some for just a portion. However much you did, congratulations for even thinking about it, as thoughts become words, words become actions, and actions lead to results. Remember that small changes cause big shifts, in your thinking, in your eating and drinking patterns, in your hormone balance, in you and in your life.  Thanks for all of your feedback(sometimes people prefer to email rather than comment on the blog: soon we will have a Facebook page which many find easier to communicate through). We love hearing from you and sharing our knowledge and experiences back and forth.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, delicious food and beverages, relaxation and much to be grateful for. Take a few minutes to think of all that you are grateful for: the list is often endless and it helps to remember all of the blessings in our lives and to be present and grateful. That is the magic of Thanksgiving: a day with no gifts, no cards, just a day to share and enjoy one another.

My beautiful family: of whom I am most grateful

My beautiful family: of whom I am most grateful

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Cleanse eve: again….

Okay, this is it…eat, drink and be merry tonight for tomorrow we go back to a cleaner, more conscious and healthier way of eating and drinking. Here is a quick recap:

Peppers are a colorful and tasty choice

Peppers are a colorful and tasty choice

~Focus on whole foods, as close to their original state as possible.  This means you will be shopping the perimeter of most stores(this may be obvious to most but in case you haven’t noticed, produce, dairy, and fresh foods like fish, meat and poultry are all around the sides of the store: boxed and canned foods are all in the center aisles)

~Eat organic foods whenever possible. If cost is a limiting factor, at least be sure to buy organic versions of the fruits and veggies on the “dirty dozen list”. Go to http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/2013s-updated-dirty-dozen-produce-list for a complete list of ‘clean and dirty’ food.

~Avoid white sugar. You may have small amounts of honey(organic, locally grown), agave and of course stevia.

Whole grains galore! Be imaginative and try new ones.

Whole grains galore! Be imaginative and try new ones.

~Avoid white flour(choose whole grains), white pasta(pick whole wheat), white potatoes(choose sweet, yams and purple), and white rice(choose brown and black)

Avoid alcohol. Choose herbal teas, organic fruit juices, kombucha and the like. I will republish a recipe for a wonderfully satisfying elixir that you can sip on each evening in lieu of that glass of wine, beer or cocktail.

Some of my favorite teas

Some of my favorite teas

Avoid caffeine. I know, this is the hardest for many of you. If you are seriously addicted to it and going without would cause terrible withdrawal headaches, you have several choices: one, gradually cut down by 1/2 the amount you consume each day or two until you are completely off or two, do the best you can.  Try new herbal  teas: there are SO many choices! I have over 15 types in my kitchen cupboard so that I never get bored. Oh, and let’s be clear: green tea does have a small amount of caffeine but it is so incredibly healthy for you, go ahead and include it during the next 10 days.

For some of you, it might be wise to eliminate gluten if you think you may have some issues with its consumption(common ones are bloating, weight gain, fatigue, eczema). For others, dairy might be a problem: gassiness, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramps are common symptoms of lactose intolerance.

We have heard from a bunch of you and we are excited that you will be joining us during the next 10 days. Remember we will be giving away a copy of “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin to one of our participants. All you need to do to be eligible  for the drawing is to be sure that you are signed up as a follower of our blog and write two comments about your progress/thoughts/etc on the cleanse. 

Looking forward to hearing from you, as always.

Bon appétit and Namaste.

Sunset over Willamette

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4 days til our “Fall Consciousness Cleanse” starts : are you ready???

As many of our faithful readers know, I have been trying to set aside two separate times each year during which I turn my attention more fully to the things that I eat and drink for 10 days.  I have called these time periods  ‘ a consciousness cleanse’ as opposed to a true cleanse (or a detox), which is usually quite a bit more entailed and rigorous.  The goal of setting aside 10 days each fall and spring for cleaner eating and drinking is more aimed towards increasing our awareness of what we consume,  in hopes that by doing so, we can slowly change our habits in the long term.

The rules for OUR cleanse are simple: eat whole foods, avoid alcohol, the whites(see end of post for link to specifics), and caffeine for 10 days. Benefits? Decreased belly fat, improved sleep, increased energy,clearer thinking, balanced mood and the satisfaction of doing something absolutely incredible for your body!! One more thing: there is something so satisfying of sticking to a wellness program for the entire duration, just knowing that you CAN.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

This fall the kick-off begins Sunday , November 17th and runs through Tuesday, November 26th and is designed to increase our consciousness right before the superbowl of holiday feasting(Thanksgiving day) arrives, with all of the subsequent festivities that occur between that day and the coming of the new year. Did you know that the average American gains up to 12 # during said famed holiday season? That is an alarming thought indeed, as anyone watching the news knows how the epidemic of obesity is causing a plethora of chronic health problems in our country(see some of our previous blogposts on this subject).

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

The best part of doing the ‘cleanse’ at this time of year is that you will have some excellent company. This year both Candace and I will be doing it together, along with at least 10 others.  It really is so much easier(and fun) to take on a challenge like this with some support. As an extra added incentive, if you sign up as a follower AND post at least 2 comments during the 10 days about YOUR experience on the cleanse, we will enter your name into a drawing for a copy of the wonderful book, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  She offers some wonderful ways to take inventory of your life and make changes, all designed to bring more happiness and balance to your life.

Here are some more specifics about the cleanse from a previous post that I wrote:

http://menopausibilities.com/2013/01/05/preparations-for-our-cleanse/

Please refer back to that post and the several that follow it as you get ready to join us. And don’t forget to sign up as a follower(if you haven’t already done so) and comment along the way: you might just win that book for some terrific fall and winter reading. Plus we love to hear from you….

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Fall cleansing is in the air

We have been truly blessed with a warm and sunny ‘Indian summer’ here in the Pacific NW this year but 2 days ago, the autumn switch turned on, dropping the temperatures down into the 50’s by day and 40’s by night. Any illusions of an endless summer were quickly abandoned, so back indoors we go for the majority of our waking hours.

I imagine many of you, like me, find yourself purging your house of excess things, rearranging cupboards and closets, raking up the fallen leaves and turning over the soil in the garden. There is something about the transition from living outdoors as much as possible to nestling inside that makes me want to simplify my surroundings before adorning the house with decorations for our fall and winter festivities. One of my fall rituals is moving all of my spring and summer clothes(after taking all of the ones I still didn’t wear to Good Will for a better home) from my bedroom closet to my spare one,  in exchange for my fall and winter wardrobe.  Doing this always makes the seasonal change so definite for me.  I actually enjoy this ritual as it makes me reflect on the activities of the past few months while thinking ahead to the upcoming holidays.

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can't resist!

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can’t resist!

For those of you who are faithful MP blog followers, you know that fall also means thinking of ways to be more conscious and mindful about the food and beverage choices we will be making in order to stay balanced despite the holiday festivities. This can be a huge challenge to many of us: avoiding unwanted weight gain, getting inadequate sleep, feeling stressed out about shopping(perhaps on a more limited budget than in years past), getting burned out by the extra demands placed upon us, all of this leading to cortisol overdrive and its many associated symptoms(irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, belly fat, salt and sugar cravings, to name a few).

So we will be hosting another “Consciousness Cleanse” starting on Sunday, November 17th and will run for 10 days, ending just in time for Thanksgiving. As in years past, there are 4 major food/beverage groups that we will avoid during the ‘cleanse’ . These are caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘the whites'(white flour, rice, potatoes, pasta and again white sugar).  Some of you who want to do a deeper detox/cleanse of sorts may also want to eliminate gluten and/or dairy and/or soy, particularly if you suspect a sensitivity to a particular food type.

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Last year we had approximately 60 people participating in our fall ‘cleanse’ and it was pretty remarkable to listen to the various comments people had about their personal experiences.  To view these, please go to ‘Kyle’s blog’ and scroll back to Oct 2012 and March 2013 blogposts to learn more about the cleanse and the reactions of the participants.  We are excited to be doing this again and we hope that you will join us.

For those of you who are interested in a longer term detox, please click on this link

http://bit.ly/HkqEyt

to work along with Andrea Nayakama and her staff of functional nutritionists for 21 days starting on Monday November 4th. Once you click on the link, you can listen to the  webinar she did yesterday: Tipping the Scales. This which was a really nice overview of the link between what we eat and our hormone balance and I recommend that all of you take the time to listen to it. We have written quite a bit about the importance of hormone balance and health/ optimal weight over the past 2 years so some of the content will be familiar to many of you, but I know that no matter how much I learn about this amazing and complex topic, I inevitably take away another ‘pearl’ with every new talk or article I come across.

Stay tuned. We will be posting more in the upcoming weeks to help you get ready for your 10 day fall cleanse. I promise you that if you partake in either the deeper detox or the 10 day mini-cleanse, you will gain a new awareness that what you put into your mouth  really matters . More about the details and benefits in upcoming posts. For now, remember to drink tea(all types but green is great for weight control and immune system), plenty of water, choose organic foods as much as possible, exercise  a minimum of 4-5 days a week and get at least 7 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and wellness.

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

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Confessions of a tea lover

Well, it’s official: fall is here again and I for one am happy it has arrived. Although I love summer with its carefree rhythm, warm days, easy fashion and simple fresh foods, I am always more than ready when the days begin to shorten, the nights cool off for perfect sleeping weather, I get to pull out my favorite boots and corduroys(like old friends) and pore through my many cookbooks looking for hearty recipes to serve to family and friends.

Fall is also the season to bring out the tea kettle and sip on many varieties of tea throughout the day. Personally, I tend to drink hot tea all year round but I find it particularly appealing once the days and nights begin to cool.  I like to keep a wide assortment of teas in my cupboard at home, as well as in my office at work.

Some of my favorite teas: the choices are endless

Some of my favorite teas: the choices are endless

As a small child, my mother introduced me to the joys of a great cuppa, although in our family we could choose from orange pekoe tea with either milk and sugar or with fresh lemon and honey. I didn’t venture into ‘herbal teas’ until the early 1970’s  when companies like Celestial Seasonings made a wide variety of yummy and nutritious teas. Once I discovered my first ‘health food store’ back on Long Island in 1973, I was in tea and food heaven!

I have passed on the tradition of tea drinking to my own children, who both also love to drink a hot cup of tea on a cold morning or  evening(or afternoon for that matter).  The most wonderful thing about tea is not only does it taste yummy, but now we are discovering how great it is for our health.

As many of  you may already know, all different colors of tea are good for you: green, black and herbal but probably the one that has gotten the most attention is green tea. We now know that green tea is rich in EGCG(epigallocatechin-3-gallate): this is a compound that blocks a particular enzyme needed in the digestion of starchy foods.  If you drink the recommended amount of green tea( 1 and ½ cups) while eating a meal or snack high in starches, your blood sugar will only increase by 50% of its normal rise. This is very important in terms of helping to prevent insulin resistance, which is a precursor to developing Type II Diabetes.

In addition, studies have shown that drinking 3 + cups of green tea per week for 6 months(not even per day, although other studies have shown even greater benefits if you do drink more!), women will have a 14% reduction in developing cancers of the digestive system.  2 cups of green tea/day helps to shrink your waist and causes a reduction in overall fat and weight.

And if that’s not enough to get you to drink green tea on a regular basis, EGCG stimulates the growth of neurons in the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is involved in our memory.  I know that all of us worry about our weight, our risk of cancer and diabetes, and also the loss of memory, particularly as we age.

Some people complain that green tea can be a bit bitter so I encourage you to find a type that you like. I agree that sometimes I have found it a bit difficult to get down, but I love a blend that has jasmine and green tea as well as those that have some mint blended in, or are combined with chai tea spices. Tazo makes a lovely blend called “Zen”, so aptly named, as it gives you a warm mellow feeling. And green tea has a much lower content of caffeine that black tea does so it shouldn’t make you feel jittery or have difficulty falling asleep.

There is something about the tradition of brewing and sipping on tea.....a cross cultural experience with far-reaching health benefits

There is something about the tradition of brewing and sipping on tea…..a cross cultural experience with far-reaching health benefits

So get your kettle, some of your favorite mugs and tea out and warm up your insides while treating yourself to some amazing health benefits.  It’s a lovely way to usher in the ‘contemplative season’, a time to reflect back over the last year and nestle in while dreaming of the months and year ahead.

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Ready, set , go(!) back to cleaner eating

I spent the last week traveling to NYC to attend my third IFM(Institute of Functional Medicine) Integrative Health Care symposium. The focus this year was on how our lifestyle can have a far-reaching effect on our health, particularly what and how we eat, how active we are and how we manage our stress.

What a perfect segue to our next ‘cleanse’! And as always after this type of conference, I walk away with a renewed awareness of and commitment to eating a cleaner, more nutritionally balanced and life-sustaining diet. I will be sharing with you many of the ‘pearls’ that I gleaned from attending this symposium so do stay tuned.

In case you don’t know what functional medicine is, briefly it is a shift in how we view the body. Often in Western medicine, we focus on the symptoms an individual presents with, which usually occur in a constellation of sorts, leading us to a particular diagnosis of pathology or disease. Functional medicine goes beneath the symptoms and tries to understand what mechanisms are ‘broken’ or altered so that the focus of treatment is more on correcting the imbalances and  the changes , and by supporting the various components of the immune system.  One of the main distinctions of functional medicine is a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s lifestyle and careful attention is aimed at improving this. Studies have shown over and over again that many of the diseases that are prevalent in our western culture are directly linked to poor and inadequate nutrition(whether it be due to overeating of processed foods or simply not getting the correct balance of micro-nutrients).  Chronic stress is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, cancer, mood disorders, and many others.

Poor diet, chronic stress and lack of exercise are also associated with hormonal imbalances, which we have talked about in many of our previous blog posts.  Whenever I meet with my patients who is obviously struggling with symptoms of hormonal imbalances, I always stress that along with testing and treating the obvious indicators, we will also devote quite a bit of time addressing dietary, activity(or lack thereof!) and life quality factors. Otherwise, hormonal treatment will only work for awhile and soon the patient will be back to square one.

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

By embarking on a mini-cleanse like this, you are doing your body a favor on so many levels. Remember to eliminate alcohol, caffeine(green tea is okay, as it has so many health benefits), sugar(other than stevia, small amounts of honey/agave or coconut sugar) and whites: pasta, rice, flour and potatoes. I will be on this starting Monday, March 4th , going through Friday March 8th and then I will resume on Monday, March 18th through Friday March 22nd. Please join in for the 10 days of your choice and as always, join in the conversation by posting a comment on the blog or on the Facebook page of Pearl Women’s Center. For more suggestions and information on how to do the cleanse, please refer back to my previous posts.

Eat a wide variety of fruits: the best 'dessert' of all, full of life-sustaining nutrients

Eat a wide variety of fruits: the best ‘dessert’ of all, full of life-sustaining nutrients

Kudos to all of you who are joining me!

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Spring is in the air(get ready for a new challenge)

It is hard to believe but February is almost over, which only means one thing: March is on its way and in the Pacific NW, spring is definitely in the air. Daffodils are poking up their stems, daphne odora blossoms are about to burst open, I waken to birds singing every morning….an incredible transition from the quiet waiting time of winter. Already days are lengthening and the moods of those around me reflect that in their brightness. Soon we will all be spending more time outdoors, perhaps digging in the soil getting the garden ready for a new round of vegetables and flowers(maybe even some fruits if your climate is conducive to them).Image

There was a short but insightful article in today’s NY Sunday Times Magazine extolling the virtues of exercising outdoors. The author compares the amount of energy it takes to walk/run on a treadmill or spin on an indoor bike to doing the same activities outside. Although you do benefit from indoor cardio workouts, doing the same activities outdoors actually burns more calories and require more effort, due to such factors as varying terrain, wind energy, temperature variations and surface changes. Plus being outside is more stimulating to your senses and has a greater effect on your mood! Feeling the sun(or even the wind, for that matter) , hearing the birds chirping, smelling freshly mowed  grass, seeing children playing a game, all contribute to a sense of being a part of something bigger than oneself and is ultimately more satisfying. Obviously. there are days when working out in the gym is more appealing(pouring rain, dark hours, frigid temperatures, icy ground) but whenever you have a choice, do try to get outside and be active as well.

Walking my first leg of Portland to Coast: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

Walking my first leg of Portland to Coast: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

I am about to fly to NYC in the morning for my third IFM(Integrative Functional Medicine Conference) . I love attending this particular event as the rooms are full of all types of providers, from cardiologists to naturopaths, anesthesiologists, gastroinestinal specialists and nurse practioners and more. The energy is incredible, the information” cutting edge” and I always walk away with a renewed sense of how to live a more balanced life and how to share that knowledge with my many patients.

For those of you who have spent time in NYC, you know that finding organic, fresh food is a bit more challenging than it is here in Portland. And being a native New Yorker, I have to indulge a bit by having several slices of NY pizza and chowing down on some chewy and flavorful NY bagels.  So when I get back, I will be ready to start our next series of ‘cleanses’: this time I would like to offer you all a few options. ALthough at least 40 people were able to complete the full 10 cleanse last time, many of you stopped at 5 days, so this is what I would like to propose:

The overall cleanse will last for a total of 10 days and must be completed between March 1 and March 23rd. You can choose to do it all at once or break it up into 2 5 day blocks. I am choosing to do 2 separate blocks this time, as I have a family wedding in Dallas in mid-March.  The dates I will be ‘spring cleansing’ are Monday, March 4th- Friday March 8th and then starting up again on Monday, March 18th- Friday March 22nd. Every 5 days that you complete(and let us know this) , your name will be entered into our contest(more info on Pearl Women’s Center Facebook page) .

Here is a quick review:

During the ‘spring cleanse’, you will avoid whites(flour, potatoes, rice, sugar), caffeine, alcohol and sugar. For a more complete list, please go back to my posts from October 2012 and January 2013.

I will be posting some ideas for meals this week and a shopping list to help you get started. I will be very ready to start when I return from NYC and I hope that you will join me. The benefits are amazing and it is much more fun(and easy) to do this with the support of others.

Happy almost spring!

Final rose of 2012

Anticipating the first roses of spring

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