Tag Archives: sugar

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

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

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

2 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

On my way in to work this morning, I heard an interesting and provocative piece on NPR re: the link between WHEN you eat and weight loss or gain. Remember the old adage: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”?

Apparently there is some truth to this!

“A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity builds on previous studies that suggest it’s best not to eat too many calories late in the day.

The Spanish study finds that dieters who ate their main meal before 3 p.m. lost significantly more weight than those who ate later in the day. This held true even though the early eaters were eating roughly the same number of calories during the five-month weight-loss study as their night-owl counterparts. ”

Here is a link to the rest of the study:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ijo2012229a.html”>study</a>

It is so interesting to me that over the years, we have seen a rollercoaster of viewpoints on the best ways to eat to maintain a healthy weight. I remember that when I was younger, we were told that the kinds of calories we ate mattered: so we counted how much of our calories came from sugar, fat, proteins and carbs. Then we were told ” a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” and that it really didn’t matter what we ate, just how many calories we consumed. That doesn’t even make sense!!! Imagine eating 300 calories of green leafy veggies throughout the day versus eating 300 calories of M and M’s: how can it NOT matter where the calories come from? One food source is loaded with nutrients and fiber while the other is loaded with sugar and artificial chemicals and clearly has an impact on how much insulin is released to try to negotiate just how that ‘food’ is metabolized???

Also when I was younger, we learned that one shouldn’t eat late in the day, that by doing so, the food could more easily be stored as fat because( as I best remember this!) ‘ our metabolism had slowed down by day’s end resulting in slowed breakdown and resulting in more calories being stored that burned’. I am not convinced that this is truly the reason but it definitely makes sense to me that it does in fact matter when we consume food during the day. But in recent years, we were told(back to the rollercoaster: hang on for dear life!!) that it didn’t matter when we ate. Thankfully this new study does point to evidence that when we eat does have an impact on our ability to maintain our weight.

One thing that has remained constant in ‘diet lore and wisdom’ is that people who eat a nutritious breakfast tend to be leaner than those who skip it or eat poor choices early in the day. So do make sure that you eat a well-balanced breakfast, as it will set the tone for the rest of your day in terms of metabolism, energy and brain functioning.

As always, we would love to hear from you about your own experiences, both good and bad, in terms of achieving and maintaining(or not!) a healthy weight. This is one of the essentials for balanced living and for hormone balance. More to come in the upcoming weeks.

1 Comment

Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness

Preparations for our ‘cleanse’

Many of you have decided to join Candace and me on January 7th as we embark on our second ‘Menopausibilities consciousness cleanse’ so this is very exciting! Just a reminder that we are also running a mini-contest(in partnership with Pearl Women’s Center) for those of you who have decided to participate. In order to be eligible, please sign up as a follower on our blog(top right on the page) and/or become a friend of PWC on Facebook.  For every 5 days of the cleanse that you complete and make some comments either on the blog or the Facebook page, your name will be entered into the contest and at the completion of the 10 days, several lucky folks will receive some gifts: either gift certificates or books that support the message of our blog.

I have received quite a few questions about how the ‘cleanse’ works so just a quick review(Also, please go to my blog posts dated October 14-25, 2012 for more details and recipes):

During the 10 days starting on Monday, January 7th, you will eliminate the following from your daily diet:

1. Sugar: This is going to require you to look at labels of the things that you do eat. If you are someone who makes most of your food from scratch, this is pretty easy to eliminate. If not, this will be a great education in reading labels and learning how much hidden sugar is in prepared/processed foods. This is the consciousness portion of the cleanse! You can use stevia or Truvia as a sugar stand-in but you should avoid artificial sweeteners, even Splenda, as they are exactly that: artificial and therefore not good for you. You may also use coconut sugar/nectar ( I will be writing more about this at a later time) or limited amounts of honey and agave, but the goal is to try to avoid eating added sugars. Fruits and whole juices are fine and a wonderful treat would be a 100% fruit juice frozen bar; again read your labels!

2. Alcohol: Avoid any alcoholic beverages during the 10 days. In lieu of cocktail hour(if you are so inclined), pour some sparkling water over ice and add some fresh lemon/mint/slices of citrus fruit/be creative or have some nice hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick. I also love to drink herbal teas: go to your local grocery or ‘whole foods-type’ store and peruse the tea aisle. You will be amazed at the wide variety available to you.

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

3. Caffeine: This seems to be the most difficult substance for most to try to eliminate. Don’t let this one be your stumbling block to success. If you are used to consuming caffeinated beverages(or foods) on a daily basis, eliminating them cold-turkey might be rough, as caffeine-withdrawal headaches are extremely painful. So be smart: cut down on your intake gradually so that by the 10th day you are caffeine-free. Instead of reaching for coffee first thing upon awakening, try one of these first to get you doing: hot water with fresh slice of lemon( a terrific treat for your liver), a cup of your new favorite herbal tea, or perhaps some black or green tea: both of these contain some caffeine but also some valuable health benefits. Try to delay drinking that first cup of coffee a little bit longer each day and if you can, try to stay away from decaf coffee as well. Tea is preferable but do what works for you. This is YOUR cleanse and we want you to feel that you have some control over what you put into your body, but we all start from different points and we all will end up feeling better just by making some small changes in our own lives.

4. ‘The Whites’: this includes white flour, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar. I actually think this is the easiest one to eliminate and has forced me to more creative in my recipe choices and food selections. Thankfully we live in a time when we have endless choices of whole grain breads/crackers/pastas/rice/grains as well as access to yams and sweet potatoes. This is a great time of year to dust off those cookbooks or pull out those old magazines that you have saved for the recipes and try something new. If you don’t feel like delving into a new recipe every day, cook up a pot of some quinoa and another of brown rice early in the week and have it ready to go for your weekday meals.

Throughout the 10 days, Candace and I will be writing our observations about how we feel, some of the challenges that come up, offer some recipes and tips to help keep all of us on track. We would love to hear what you are doing during this time to help you make these changes. We are so happy that you have decided to join us(some of you for the second time!) and we will be in touch. Please feel free to ask us questions along the way: no question is too basic, by the way.
“Eat food(whole foods), not too much, mostly plants”. Michael Pollan

Amen!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Reflections on the ‘cleanse’ and more reasons to stay away from most sugars

Well, I made it through the past 10 days and amazingly, this was not as difficult as I had anticipated. Honestly I was a little nervous before I started, as I had re-developed the mid-morning and sometimes early afternoon coffee habit over the past 6 months….and I was worried that I would be falling asleep mid-sentence! I also love to savor a glass(or 2) of full-bodied red wine in the evening, as a way to separate the busy-ness of my work day from the relaxation that I like to enjoy when work is over. And all too often  I found myself sneaking in a few potato or corn chips or occasional bites of chocolate, without paying too much attention to how all of these things added up over the day. The bottomline was that I found myself reaching for the cup of coffee or the quick snack to rebuild my energy when it dipped so going without seemed a bit daunting.

So here it is 10 days later and this is what I noticed during that time:

1. I slept better than I had in years. BHRT(bio-identical hormones) have clearly improved my ability to sleep(no night sweats, more REM sleep, ease of falling and staying asleep) but by developing some of my previously mentioned habits, I was often tossing and turning in the middle of the night, unable to find that rest again. Not so these past 10 days: my sleep was deep and wonderful and I woke each morning feeling refreshed.  And for those of you who have sleep issues, you know how priceless a good night’s sleep is!

2. My head was clearer, memory sharper and I found it easier to do tasks that I might usually keep avoiding.

3. My energy level was terrific. I found that could swim and walk faster and my workouts gave me more energy back.

4. I lost almost an inch around my waist(that darned belly fat…even though I am relatively lean, I still struggle with that…and that is not the good kind of fat to have: it is directly correlated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer; Belly fat begone!), shed about 3 pounds  and my clothes fit better. And I felt full and satisfied after eating and I didn’t crave sugar or caffeine….astounding.

5. I had fun trying new recipes and teas…and I didn’t mind the 5 evenings when I was around family and friends who were having wine , beer and cocktails…it was actually very pleasant, not an issue at all.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

So now I am on day 11 and actually have decided to continue for a few days longer. A few of my friends asked me last evening if I picked 10 days for any particular reason. My reasoning for that is I don’t think a week is long enough , 2 weeks sounds too long to many people, and  you can make it work so that you are only on it for one weekend. I also think you get to see more results if you make it the full 10 days. Again, this is just something I made up for myself to help me make a few small changes and gain a feeling of empowerment.  But I have heard quite a bit of positive feedback from the women who joined me(there are also 3 men…I would love to hear how they did as well!). Everyone noted better sleep, better energy, less sugar cravings and a feeling of control.  Wow, so small changes really had a big impact.  That is pretty powerful.

Kyle and Candace at our local farmers’ market: so many wonderful food choices, grown locally

I guess there are no coincidences after all. When I came home from work and started to read today’s Living section in our local paper, the Oregonian, I of course noticed the article skewering sugar and its relatives by Dr. Oz and Rozen.  Many points were made in this article. Here are just a few of the highlights: sugar alters essential proteins in the body, particularly if you already have insulin resistance; too much fructose(we are not talking about whole fruits here: more like High Fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, brown and white sugar, honey, agave and turbinado sugars) causes your liver to turn the excess fructose into fat: this in turn can lead to fatty liver and/or cirrhosis; drinking large quantities(30 oz of fructose-containing substances)/day can drive up your blood pressure; high levels of fructose are directly related to the development of diabetes.  Recommendations include: cut down on those sugars in general(try to limit consumption to 20 g or 3 Tblsp/day); eat fruit for dessert and use stevia as a substitute, in moderation of course.

There really is no avoiding the news about sugar and its effects on our health.  So this cleanse for me came at a particularly powerful time, right before Halloween(yikes: just think how much candy we have all consumed as a result of that holiday!!) , Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. I am motivated to find recipes that will rely minimally on added sugars and I will share them with you. Please do the same for us and all of our readers.  As always, wishing you joy and balance.

7 Comments

Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness