Monday, February 2, 2015

The Ultimate Ragnar Ultra Playlist

As we round out the last 4 days before our Ragnar race (Miami to Key West), I've put together Day 1 and Day 2 Playlists to share.

Most of these songs have a beat-per-minute that works for an 8:30 - 9:30 pace. Many of the songs have lyrics that talk about running, or about feelings you might have while running (e.g. "I'm on top of the world!"-- Imagine Dragons OR "All I wanna be is DONE!" -- The Band Perry)

I don't discriminate; I cover ALL genres. As long as it has the right BPM and a wicked bass line, it's on the list. Feel free to share it!

I'm In Miami Trick - LMFAO
All I Do Is Win (feat. T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg & Rick Ross) - DJ Khaled  
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen | (this is great when you're passing people, aka "kills")  
Bad News - Kanye West
Bamboleo - Gipsy Kings
Bass Down Low - Dev Feat. The Cataracs
Big Pimpin' (Featuring UGK) - Jay-Z & UGK
Blow - Ke$ha
Born This Way - Lady GaGa
Going the Distance - Cake
Butterfly - Jason Mraz
Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna | (imagining the finish line!)
City On Our Knees - tobyMac
Come Get It Bae - Pharrell Williams
Escape - Enrique Iglesias
Fergalicious - Fergie Feat.
Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams) - Daft Punk
Get Up Offa That Thing - James Brown
Get Ur Freak On - Missy Elliott
Give It To Me - Timbaland Feat. Justin Timberlake & Nelly Furtado
Go Daddy-O - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Gold Digger - Kanye West & Jamie Foxx
Harder To Breathe - Maroon 5 | (oh, it will be by this time!)
Harlem Shake - Baauer
Henny & Gingerale - Mayer Hawthorne
Hung Up - Madonna
I'm Not In Love - Olive
Latch (feat. Sam Smith) - Disclosure
River Deep, Mountain High - Celine Deon
Let the Groove Get In - Justin Timberlake
Live Your Life - T.I. feat Rhinna
Lose Yourself - Eminem
Me Against The Music - Britney Spears Feat. Madonna
Natalie - Bruno Mars
Objection (Tango) - Shakira
Priscilla - Miranda Lambert
Pump It - Black Eyed Peas
Lose Control - Missy Elliott
Shake It Fast - Mystikal
Sun Daze - Florida Georgia Line
Do or Die - Thirty Seconds to Mars
Run the World (Girls) - Beyoncé
Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons
Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) - Mark Ronson
Pon de Replay - Rihanna
Longview - Green Day

Love Drunk - Boys Like Girls
Come Together - Michael Jackson
Sing for the Moment - Eminem
Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi
Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen
Bad Reputation - Joan Jett
Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) - Clean Bandit
Jesus Walks - Kanye West
Florida Key - The New Basement Tapes
Mayhem - Imelda May
This - Darius Rucker
On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons
Prayer in C - Robin Schulz & Lilly Wood & The Prick
Bang Bang - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
Come Get It Bae - Pharrell Williams
American Kids - Kenny Chesney
Little Red Wagon - Miranda Lambert
Best Day of My Life - American Authors
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - Kelly Clarkson
Love Generation (feat. Gary Pine) - Bob Sinclar
La Luz - Juanes
Timber - Pitbull Feat. Ke$ha
Survivor - Destiny's Child
Work Work - Britney Spears
Roar - Katy Perry
Done. - The Band Perry
My House - Kacey Musgraves
Good Time - Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen
Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
On Fire Tonight - Little Big Town
Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard - Paul Simon
Island Song - Zac Brown Band
Carry On - Fun.
One Foot - Fun.
That's Not My Name - The Ting Tings
Rock & Roll - Eric Hutchinson
Love You Like A Love Song - Selena Gomez & The Scene
It's Not OK - Zac Brown Band
Knee Deep (feat. Jimmy Buffett) - Zac Brown Band
4 Minutes - Madonna
I Know You Want Me - Pitbull
Shots - LMFAO & Lil Jon | (REALLY thinking about the finish line now...)
Hot in Herre - Nelly
Give It Up to Me (feat. Lil Wayne) - Shakira
Calabria 2007 - Enur
Heartless - Kanye West
Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode
Freedom 90 - George Michael
I Want You Back - The Jackson 5
Rehab - Amy Winehouse
Stronger - Kanye West
Champion - Kanye West
Higher Ground [Live] - Stevie Wonder
I Got The Feelin' - James Brown
Get Up (Sex Machine) - James Brown
I Will Survive - Cake

Monday, January 19, 2015

9 Things I Learned During My 10-Day Detox

It started mid-December 2014. OK, I'll be honest, it started about a year before that; the slow but noticeable incremental growth of my gut. In the very year I turned 40, I moved from a size 4 to a size 6 to an 8... to wearing yoga pants all the time on weekends because my 8s didn't button comfortably. 

I wasn't proud of it, but I wasn't taking it laying down either. I was running several half marathons per year and at least 4x/week. But that distance running maintenance routine wasn't working anymore.

My OB/GYN blamed it on "getting older" and "peri-menopause" and cortisol levels. My diabetic mother warned me of my hereditary predisposition for diabetes. "Every woman on my side of the family has had it," she said. "I started using insulin at 45. You're almost there." Thanks for the reminder, mom.

Finally, a month ago, when I could no longer button even my "fat jeans" anymore, I'd had enough, but I didn't know what to do. Then I watched a documentary about childhood obesity in America called Fed Up.

I had already seen documentaries like Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives, and I knew the importance of eating clean (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. -- Michael Pollan). But until I watched Fed Up (and subsequently made my husband and children watch it), it never occurred to me that sugar--a nearly inescapable substance in our lives--is such a detrimental and an addictive evil.

Some of the take-aways I got from Fed Up:
  • Losing weight is not as simple as matching "calories in" to "calories out"--the body (particularly the kidneys) processes 160 calories of broccoli much differently than it processes 160 calories of donuts (as far as insulin and fat absorption go).
  • Fat Free foods, while free of fat, are loaded with sugar. (check the side of any box!) 
  • In a study, 45 cocaine-addicted mice were exposed to sugar-water and given the choice over an extended period of time of taking the sugar or the cocaine... 43 of the 45 mice chose the sugar. SUGAR IS AS ADDICTIVE AS NARCOTICS.
  • The big food and beverage corporations and their lobbyists (Coca-Cola, ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Nestle, Pepsi, Schwan, Tyson) are working just as hard as the Tobacco companies and their lobbyists once did/do to deny that their products are harmful to humans... killing and medically harming way more people each year (including children!) than cigarettes did/do.
  • Think that last bullet point is conspiracy theory? Take a look at ANY product listing Nutritional Facts and you will see that the PERCENTAGE of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of all Calories, Total Fat, Total Carbs, Protein, Sodium, etc. are listed... but not Sugar. Sugar is the only one listed solely in grams--no percentage.  The lobbyists (mentioned above) had that information buried. Because if you knew that your child's cereal had 325% of the RDA of sugar (which is just 25 grams/day, btw), you'd probably never buy it, and they'd go out of business.
With my new found knowledge I jumped into action. Here I was beating my head against the wall trying to figure out how I'm eating well and exercising 4x/week but still GAINING weight. I have yogurt every day for breakfast, along with a Tazo chai tea latte. I eat nutritional bars post-run or as snacks to re-fuel. I eat veggies with every meal, and when we eat out I order something not-fried.

But once you start looking at the sugar content of all my "healthy" choices... it's astonishing.

So I found this book:

which led to this book:
and this book led to me changing my life.

I am not an overweight person, by any means. I am 5'5" tall, and when I started this I weighed 130. But weight is relative, and in my world--a world where none of my pants buttoned and my under garments were so tight they imprinted lines of shame into my skin--it was too much. I was ashamed to be in a bathing suit in public. Something had to give.

After watching this movie, and while reading these two books, I decided to take a week off from sugar and sugary drinks (the main source of my sugar intake, I discovered), right smack in the middle of the holidays. I endured four holiday parties laden with cookies, holiday sweets, sugary eggnog delights... and I turned my head to them and said "no thank you." I turned away from Starbucks Pumpkin Spice and Mocha Mint lattes, said no to all sodas.

By the time I finished this 7 days, I had also finished reading these books, and it became clear to me that just cutting out processed sugars wasn't going to be enough to reclaim my waistline. I needed to cut out ALL the crap in my body and my life. So I encouraged my husband to join me in a 10-day detox: No sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no dairy, no gluten. I rid our fridge and pantry of anything with a label, that came in a package, or that had any sugar content at all, from the obvious like cereals, chips and breads/pastas/crackers (which also had gluten), to the not-so-obvious like orange juice, ketchup and salad dressings.

Our fridge and cupboards were nearly bare. With my book in hand and a list of "approved" foods, we headed to Rollin' Oats (our local healthy/organic grocery) for a shopping trip.


Having never shopped at Rollin' Oats for anything other than vitamins or wine, I was certain this was going to be an expensive trip. We loaded up our basket with:
  • ORGANIC GREENS: bok choy, baby bok choy, collard greens, kale, romaine, red and white cabbage, spinach, bib lettuce, carrots, beets, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, fruits, lemons, limes, fresh herbs and more. 
  • PROTEIN: eggs, fish, shrimp, beef, chicken
  • SEASONINGS & NUTS for smoothies: Chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond butter, coconut butter, cashew butter, tahini, tamari, etc.
  • GLUTEN-FREE crackers
  • NON-COW MILKS: Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk
When we checked out, our bill was the same $175 I spend on average at Publix, and many of these items would last through several shopping excursions. Pleasantly surprised! Add to that all the savings from the restaurant eating we'd do 4-5x/week, and it was a true savings! 

We--like everyone else we know--are over scheduled. We have 2 kids with multiple activities, plus our own activities. From 5:00 am when I wake up and train for a race, to afternoons when it feels like a race to get homework done and food shoved in our gullets, it has always seemed more convenient to go out to eat than to prepare something at home. We don't eat much fast food (we generally stay away from McDonalds, BK, Wendy's and the like) but we do eat out at different restaurants about 4x/week, and we'd order a pizza at least once a week. 

The hardest part in clean eating is the prep work. I'm not gonna lie--there's a LOT of chopping involved. But honestly, when I turned on Pandora, listened to some music and chopped away, I was done in no time. 

Actually, cooking and eating at home gave us a couple hours back in our afternoon, because we got back the time we'd spend in traffic driving to a restaurant, waiting for a table, waiting to be served, waiting for a check and driving home only to slouch on the couch, hunched over our iPhones, checking and re-checking Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest or watching stupid videos of people we don't know and typing "lol" without really lol'ing. 

Turns out, in less time I was able to turn out delicious, healthy meals for the family I adore, and we had more energy when we were done because the portion sizes were appropriate (we weren't engorged). We used our new-found evening time to give our dogs longer walks. Win-win-win. It felt good to give my family gifts of:
Shrimp salad in avocado (egg whites, red & yellow peppers, tomato, garlic, cilantro, lime, red onion), various smoothies and fresh squeezed juices for breakfast (with more protein and fruits/veggies we'd normally see in a week!)...
Healthy, protein and veggie-laden dinners of cashew chicken, eggs with broccolini and mushrooms, churrasco steak w/ grilled asparagus and yellow pepper and snapper on a salad...
Simple lunches of fruit/veggie juice with fish spread on a romaine lettuce boat (w/ sriracha)

This is the one caveat of clean eating. Between all the parts to the blender and the juicer and the cutting boards, knives, pots and pans... there's a lot of dishes every day when you cook at home. But in our house, the cook does not do the dishes so... I cooked a lot!
I didn't need a 10-day experiment to tell me that my Thursday - Sunday lifestyle is not conducive to clean eating. I don't drink much during the week (other than one glass of wine every other night before the mornings I don't run). But I am well aware that every weekend spent with my friends is spent eating and/or drinking. 
  • Let's go to the Saturday Morning Market! = sugary coffee + some sort of bread, etc. 
  • Let's go out on the boat! = plenty of alcohol, sodas (mixers), likely chips and fried chicken, likely gluttony/overeating once drunk
  • Let's go to a football game OR watch football at someone's house! = alcohol/sodas/pizza/chips/desserts
  • Let's go to the Vinoy pool to hang out! = drinks served poolside with some sort of  nachos or other sugary/cheesy dish
  • Let's go out for dinner = alcohol, food prepared with savory (sugary) sauces, more alcohol, late night gluttony, followed by morning-after greasy hangover food
  • Let's go to Food Truck Friday at the Pier!
  • Let's get donuts and coffee on the way to Brocante Market!
  • Let's get together for chili/paella/wings!
It seems inescapable, and takes an insane amount of discipline to stay on track while still being social. But I am stronger than my cravings, and feeling healthy long term is more important to me than any short-term food or alcohol binge. Priorities.

It might not be enough to have your husband in on it with you. It might not be enough to tell your besties about your diet. I was very public with our family's foray into clean eating and the detox. I told everyone I saw at parties, I posted pictures on Facebook. Some might think I was trying to brag, but the truth is, I was keeping myself honest.  

Sharing your trials and challenges on Facebook not only gives you positive reinforcement through "atta girl!" and "way to go!" comments, it also makes you hyper-careful about what you put in your mouth in public and in private. Everyone is watching. Everyone is asking, "how's it going?" The cynics are waiting for you to slide off the rails. Public humiliation is a strong deterrent from brownie bites.

If I was starving when I got home from school or an event, my first go-to was always something sweet or cheesy. I'd pop a cookie, make a bowl of cereal, or grab cheese and crackers because it was quick. But for 10 days, there were no cookies, no bread, no crackers. BECAUSE THERE WERE NO OTHER OPTIONS IN THE HOUSE, I discovered that it's just as fast (and filling!) to grab a handful of blackberries, pumpkin seeds or cherry tomatoes as it is to grab a handful of Doritos. Lesson learned.

Many people asked me if the kids were doing this detox too, and except for a few exceptions, I will say yes. I did allow them to continue with diary and a few favorites like low-sugar cereal w/ cow's milk for breakfast, and school snacks that aren't necessarily healthy (because of all the sugar/processing) like applesauce, mozzarella sticks and Cheeze-Its--for my own convenience.

But the weekend donuts and the weekday syrup-laden frozen waffles and sugary snacks after school went away.  My 9- and 12-year-old ate and enjoyed very single thing you see pictured above for lunch and dinner. They didn't complain once. When we first made them watch Fed Up and talked to them about changing our eating style for a while, my 12-year-old son said, "How long are we going to have to do this, Mom?" I was prepared to tell him "One month to see how it goes," but he finished his own sentence with, "Just a year, right? One year?" Astonished, I said, "Yes. Just 1 year."

So there you go. It's only been 19 days now since we've been doing this and the kids have yet to fight back. Again, when there are no other options in the fridge or pantry, they find something good to eat. After school snacks of Go-gurt and Nutella on bread have been replaced with hard boiled eggs and apples with almond butter.

... or even when we're all just bored and need to get out of the house. I'm not even talking about sodas (only allowed on special occasions) or Starbucks (not allowed, ever--I don't care how many of my son's 12-year-old friends come to school with a Starbucks in-hand!). I'm talking about the Tropical Smoothie after gymnastics, the milkshake after a football game, the Cherry Icee at Wawa when I'm getting gas.  All these sugars add up to extend WAY beyond the RDA of 25 grams. 

Heck, the other day at Locale Market I got an Organic Tea and Lemonade w/ my lunch and checked the back to find it had 28 grams of sugar (now I'm already past my daily allowance after one organic tea!). I drank only 1/4 of it, and parsed it out over the next 4 days so I wouldn't feel so guilty. Should have read the label first!
All those liquid sugar calories have come to a stop. Water is where it's at for us 90% of the time!

More than the morning chai latte, the occasional sugared coffee, or the christmas cookies, what I really missed most (those first 4 days, at least) was cheese and bread.

These were my go-to snacks: Goat cheese on baguette. Port wine cheddar on Wheat Thins. Laughing Cow spreadable "cheese" on Multigrain crackers. Colby cheese and apples. Grilled cheese sandwich. Nachos (melted cheese on chips). Pizza (more bread and cheese). Cheese on pasta... you see where this is going. 

Turns out, my beloved gluten and cheese combo was a major cause of my bloating and sleepless nights. The biggest immediate change I saw in the first few days of this detox was not in my weight, but in the shape of my body. The bloating in my mid-section which had become very uncomfortable, went down by Day 3. 

Because of this, I'd bet money that I have some sort of gluten and/or dairy intolerance (if not allergy) since I know that bloating is a major side effect of lactose and gluten intolerances. I could get an ALCAT test to find out, but why bother? I can just listen to my body and notice the way I feel and know that for me, gluten and cheese--though I love them so--must be eaten in moderation. 


Here's what everyone keeps asking me: Did it work? Was it worth it? What are you going to do now? Here are your answers:

Did it work?
Starting weight: 130
Weight after 10 Days: 125.5
Weight lost in 10 days: 4.5 lbs. NOTE: I am also currently training for a Ragnar (219 mile, 6-man relay race) so my running schedule during this 10 days also amped up. However, I do not believe I would have lost this weight--even running at an increased mileage--if I didn't cut out sugars, gluten, alcohol and dairy.
Inches lost in waist: 2"
Inches lost in upper thighs: 1" each 
Inches lost in hips: 0.5" 

This is only after 10 days! Imagine if I ate this way all the time. I'm confident I could get down to my goal weight of 120.

Was it worth it? YES!
If you try this, definitely get the book and follow it to a tee! What you can expect to feel:

DAYS 1-10 - You will sleep better than you have in years. This was an added bonus I did not expect, but because my body was not working so hard to digest processed foods at night or being stimulated by alcohol or sugars, I slept like a baby. No tossing, no turning, fully refreshed in the AM. No more melatonin needed!

DAYS 1-3 - You will likely have headaches due to withdrawals from caffeine, sugar, etc.

DAYS 4-6 - Your weight may not change, or you may gain back a pound. Don't get discouraged and DO NOT cheat! Even "one glass" or "one bite" will take you backwards. Your body is just about to turn a corner. Hang in there!

DAYS 7-10 - Your energy level will start to pick up, your bowel movements will be more frequent and complete--and your sh!t won't stink! (yeah, I said it). Honestly, when your body is digesting real, whole food as it was meant to do, there is no such thing as diarrhea or stinky poops. I used to have to close doors, light candles, open windows and turn on fans when my husband spent some time in the loo (sorry, honey, but you know it's true) and since we've done this, I can go in the bathroom right after him and breathe freely! May be a gross topic, but I think it's perfect proof that the purity of the stuff you put in your body is reflected by what comes out.

DAYS 10+ - You will no longer crave sugars, breads, or dairy. At least I didn't. I really didn't think it would take such a short amount of time to pull me off from the things I craved and seemed not to be able to steer away from. I was certain that on Day 10 I would order a pizza, drink a bottle of wine, and chase it with a tube of chocolate chip cookies. But on Day 10 I went to a dinner party and ate a healthy meal (grilled grouper w/ mango salsa and salad), had 2 glasses of white wine, and 1/4 of a piece of cookie for dessert. And I was fine with that. Honestly. Didn't even really feel like I needed the whole cookie (it kind of tasted too sweet).

What are you going to do now?
Since you are allowed to bring things back into your diet in moderation after Day 10, I have reintroduced them all, but nothing is as satisfying as it once was (not sugar, not alcohol, not bread or even--dare I say it--cheese). And on day 19, I STILL haven't had or wanted a piece of pizza OR a coke (shocking for someone who used to eat and drink it 1-2x/week). 

I can honestly say my palette (and my belly) have changed. I feel good about myself and what I'm putting in my body and my kids' bodies. I feel proud when I'm at the checkout line at the grocery, not embarrassed. I feel grateful that I am disciplined enough to see this through for the long haul. So we'll just keep eating clean in moderation. All of us!