Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Choices

So I woke up this morning feeling exceptionally proud of myself after stepping off the scale and witnessing a teenie tiny success. But a success none the less. Last night I was faced with sit and be lazy while waiting for a free pizza to come my way OR get up fix dinner and get move my body around long enough to break a sweat. Without much convincing I chose to fire up the grill (no pots and pans to wash, yay!) make dinner and step up on the treadmill. Dinner was simple, taste, did not cost me extra money beyond my budgeted grocery bill, and did not break my gluten free dairy free fast before I was supposed to.
Grilled rosemary chicken, bacon wrapped asparagus, grilled sweet potatoes and russet potatoes 
I think I am most proud of the fact that I didn't have to berate myself into a guilt laden half @$$ed job. I got to watch one of the many television shows that I have on DVR while I took to the treadmill. I knew that unless I changed the way I looked at what needed to be done I would always struggle with actually doing it. This of course will be a daily effort but with each day less effort will be required. I look forward to when all of these better choices feel simply like, my life. 

Namaste Ya'll

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Confessions of a Classic Over-Eater...

I have a confession to make,
My name is Ashanti and I am an emotional over-eater, thank you... But in all seriousness, eating myself into an emotional coma has been a very bad habit of mine since I was about 10 years old. When I learned that food was good company and an even better distraction from the things that are may have made me unhappy. Fast forward to today and I am struggling to remind myself that the issue upsetting me needs to be handled swiftly and completely rather than giving into the overwhelming urge to stuff my face until I'm literally ready to pass out.
Today specifically has been a bit difficult for me, I am finding myself anxious in my weight-loss journey. Things are moving in the right direction but they are going so slowly that I am having a difficult time appreciating the success I am having. Not to mention my desire to move things along with changing my career field. I guess all in all my problem is my impatience. I know, just get over it, right? But that requires a totally new frame of mind and I am working on that (part of the whole Zen thing) but that will also take time. LOL funny, all the things I want most I have to wait for and work like crazy while I wait. But I guess we've just gotten so used to everything happening instantaneously in our microwave society that the real world just does not happen fast enough for us.  
While I sit eating a grapefruit, instead of ordering extra large fully loaded pizzas like my mind is screaming at me to, I find myself proud of my choice but unsatisfied because I know that there is something else I should be doing. Writing is helping with this feeling though and I am so grateful to have a platform to share my thoughts on. I think that I need to take more pictures to share with you all though. Because like I said before we want everything instantly and that means quick captures of stories in image form. :-) Today however, is not that day. Today I simply spill bits of who I am and hope that someone out there understands and would like some support in their journey to live their best life.
Peace and Namaste Ya'll

Friday, March 22, 2013

Farmer's Market Meal!

Hey Ya'll,
It's officially Spring and in Texas and that means more vendors at the Farmer's Market. Yay!! However, I live in Round Rock and am often too lazy to drive down into Austin for the larger markets so for me there still were not very many vendors up this past Saturday. Boo! But I did manage to procure some nice products even if there were only 7 tables up and 3 of them had some of the same products. But there is always a lovely new gems whenever I visit the market and this week it was the Central Texas Olive Ranch. Who knew we had olive orchards in Central Texas? I knew we had grape and wine vineyards, but olives? Why did I not know this? You should have seen my internal happy dance when I saw fresh pressed, beautifully fruity, slight peppery finishing olive oil in cute little bottoms for a reasonable price. I picked up 2 dozen of my favorite farm fresh eggs from Edamie Ranch. A pound of fresh pork pan sausage from 6J Ranch, which by the way was absolutely delicious. There is handmade soap and bags of baby mustard, spinach, and salad greens, unfortunately I can't remember the name of the farm that they came from, but I will update once I find it. Oh and some of the sweetest most tender fresh cracked pecans from Georgetown Pecan Company.

So last night I was tired from my nice long walk (yay JT 20/20 for getting me through an extra mile) and super hungry. But I didn't want to leave the house and have to struggle through a menu trying to pick a meal that didn't have mass produced factory farmed meat (my new commitment to myself) and I wanted to eat within minutes. With evening traffic it would take at least 20 minutes to get anywhere worth eating. So I started mentally combing through the contents of my fridge. I thought "You have some spinach in there that needs to be eaten before it starts to wilt. You just bought some beautiful tomatoes that a begging to be eaten with a sprinkle of salt. Those eggs in there haven't been cracked open yet. Go see what you can come up with." So I got off my bum and managed to turn out a lovely savory Binner as my daughter likes to call breakfast for dinner. Pan fried sausage from the ranch, sauteed garlic spinach with black beans over hot rice, salted tomatoes, and a fried egg to top it all off. I don't think my child has been so silent during a meal in weeks. I even stuffed the leftover spinach and black bean mix into corn tortillas and packed them for the kiddo's lunch today. This meal went over so well I didn't even get any bedtime complaints when it was bath time. 
Did any of you come across some good farmer's market finds lately? What are you looking forward to this season? Personally I can't wait until the berries and plentiful, looking forward to staring down at red stained fingers during my down dog. 
Namaste Ya'll

Friday, March 15, 2013


Hey Ya'll,
I went to see my allergist today and offered myself up to be poked and prodded in the name of medical diagnosis. Well, not quite. It was more in the name of knowing my enemy (i.e. allergic triggers) for my own self-serving purposes. I learned that I am reactive to pretty much all grasses... Hmm, that explains the sick feeling I had after I took those two shots of wheat grass at the beginning of the year. I thought my stomach was going to slosh right on up and out. *blech* I also have a little battle with Fall and Spring trees, that explains my current responses during this week's high Oak pollen count. Surprisingly enough I seem to have built up a tolerance to some of the most common allergens that are found in my area. I guess living in the general vicinity for most of my life has helped with those triggers.

I did get a chance to discuss my eczema concerns and my elimination diet to identify my triggers. I think I really chose the right doctor to see because he actually acknowledged the fact that food can have an affect of the body beyond the sensationalized urgent/severe reactions. He did say that because I have a general idea of what may be the culprit that I did not necessarily have to go through such a highly restrictive elimination diet, but that the foods I do choose to eliminate I should do for a bit longer than originally planned. So I will be adding back the foods that I am comfortable with and keeping gluten and dairy at bay for a total of 4 weeks. I am almost certain that my skin problems are coming from one (or both) of these foods. The mission has merely been adjusted rather than aborted. I will be eating gluten and dairy free meals for another 3 weeks (this week was my first) and then I will add one for a week and evaluate my reactions. Then I will eliminate it again for a week. After that week I will add the other food for a week and evaluate my reactions. By the time I finish with my evaluations I will be returning to the doctor to discuss my progress and findings. Which is really nice, because it makes me feel as though he actually cares about how I am doing. So far my skin is really beginning to clear up. For the last month, no matter what I used to wash or moisturize, I just could not get the patches to clear up. But after literally 5 days of my elimination diet I am finally seeing some relief. There is less itching and the dry patches are beginning to smooth over and slowly feel normal again. *Praises Lifted High*

All I can hope is that this keeps improving and I can identify which food has the more negative effect on my body. But here is what I have been eating lately:
Cold baked sweet potato that I seasoned with Garam Marsala and seared in the pan until hot through the middle.

Cinnamon, coconut milk rice pudding sweetened with dates, bananas, and raisins.

"Cabbage Roll Casserole" layered the bottom of the dish with a small broken up head of cabbage. Layered a brown rice ground turkey mixture over the cabbage. Then layered Brussels sprouts on top. All seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder and roasted at 400 F for 20 minutes until the cabbage was tender. 

The cabbage roll casserole and spiced sweet potato was dinner two nights ago.

Hmm, I think I really am going to have to embrace a gluten-free menu around here, mostly because I have the sneaking suspicion that gluten is my true nemesis here. *Le Sigh* Oh well, I am sure that nothing but good can come from me purposely limiting my gluten consumption. Especially since so much tends to be processed beyond nutritional recognition. Good thing I already released the processed foods for Lent. Do any of you have favorite gluten and dairy free meals?
Namaste Ya'll

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Allergies? Maybe. We Shall See.

Hey Ya'll,
So last week I mentioned a potential allergy to the meal replacement shakes that I was taking last month. Well, I decided to attempt an elimination diet to try to identify any negative reactions to specific foods. This diet is rather intense, but it is only for a short period of time (2-4 weeks) so no long term deficiency are to be expected from this. Because this diet is so restrictive I am going to be either very creative with my meals or very repetitive. This list I found in an article explaining Elimination diets, and because I agreed with much of what was said I chose this technique. The far right column is the exclude list and the middle column is the include list (my title line shifted for some reason)
Foods to include
Foods to exclude
FruitsAlmost all fresh fruitCitrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, etc)
VegetablesAlmost all fresh raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted vegetablesTomatoes, eggplant, potatoes (sweet potato and yams are okay)
StarchRice*, buckwheat*Wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, all gluten-containing products
LegumesSoybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, all beans, peas, lentils
Nuts and seedsAll seeds and nuts
Meat and fishFish, turkey, lamb, wild gameBeef, chicken, pork, cold cuts, bacon, hotdogs, canned meat, sausage, shellfish, meat substitutes made from soy
Dairy products and milk substitutesUnsweetened rice milk*, almond milk, coconut milkMilk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, non-dairy creamers, eggs
FatsCold-expeller pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oilMargarine, butter, processed and hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise, spreads
BeveragesDrink plenty of fresh water, herbal teas (e.g. rooibos, peppermint, etc.)Alcohol, caffeine (coffee, black tea, green tea, soda)
Spices and condimentsSea salt, fresh pepper, fresh herbs and spices (i.e. garlic, cumin, dill, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, turmeric)Chocolate, ketchup, mustard, relish, chutney, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, vinegar
SweetenersStevia (if needed)White or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, desserts

Since I not only have to feed myself, but my family as well, I am going to have to be creative more often than not. So I say, challenge accepted. I forgot to take a pic of my lunch yesterday or my breakfast shakes but I do have what was for dinner yesterday and today. (My lunch today was leftovers from dinner last night)
Roasted turkey breast with wild rice cooked in mushroom broth and roasted broccoli with carrots
Dinner last night and leftovers for lunch

Rice noodles with tuna and roasted veggies (mushrooms, peppers, carrots, celery, asparagus, scallions,  garlic) in a mushroom broth with fish sauce & red pepper flakes. Dinner tonight (leftovers for lunch tomorrow)

Today is only day 2 of the elimination but the primary difference I have noticed is my digestion. Of course eating more veggies and less meat, dairy, and gluten allows things to move more freely. That's always a plus. I'm hoping to see some significant changes in my skin soon. That way when I'm testing my excluded foods one at a time if I have an eczema flair up I will be able to identify the food that aggravate my condition. We shall soon see. Well I'm off to complete my yoga for the night, have to keep the 108 day challenge going strong!
Namaste Ya'll, Peace to You

Friday, March 8, 2013

Feeling Better...Finally

Hey Ya'll,
So I am finally feeling more like myself these days. For almost the entire month of February I was in this terrible sore throat, achy ear, hoarse voice, blah-feeling haze. I'm thinking more and more that Western medicine is best for surgical needs or extremely innovative devices/therapies and that all of those everyday ailments and physical adjustments should be treated more holistically. (not that I didn't think this before) The doctors had no suggestions once it was determined that I did not have strep throat. "Just stay hydrated" that's easy to say when you are not the one in near tears trying to swallow your own saliva. I was never even asked if my diet had recently changed or if we got any new pets in the home. "Just, have you been in contact with anyone who has been ill? Do you usually suffer from allergies in this manner?" When the answer to both questions is "No" it was as if they were at a loss. I had to ask for an allergy referral on my own because that never even crossed either of the two different doctor's minds.
Fortunately for my exposure to the information I am receiving at IIN I have been thinking more outside the box. Which says a lot because I have never really been one for conventional thoughts anyway. But a few weeks ago food allergies and sensitivities was the focus of the work module and a lot of things made sense and really stuck with me. Well, towards the middle of January I decided to purchase another order of the Achieve shake blends from Zrii and come to find out they have changed the Achieve formula. It now contains Milk and Soy, which it previously did not. After doing "really well" and taking the shakes consistently twice a day for a couple of weeks my symptoms began. But I didn't really put two and two together until earlier this week and trying to figure out why I have been feeling so horrible for so long. Because I am rarely ever sick and when I am I recover fairly quickly, but I just could not shake whatever this was. I think I may have had a delayed allergic reaction to the new formula. I have made an appointment with an allergy specialist but I am really going for diagnostic reasons more so than treatment. I plan to have a better idea of my environmental triggers and maybe have some light shed on my food related triggers. I'm only hoping that there aren't too many because I would be SO sad to have to cut out an enormous chunk of my grocery list or something. But even after my appointment I am planning to conduct an elimination experiment on myself by omitting foods that are most commonly known to trigger allergic reactions and then one by one introduce each food to record my body's reaction to it. Hmm....I think that might make for a good blog series here. Stay tuned for that.

On another note, I joined a 108 Day Yoga challenge with a yoga forum on It began March 1st and we all have our own goals, but the constant is that for 108 consecutive days we practice at least one of the limbs of yoga. Meditation, asana, whatever your goal is to work on during that time. My commitment was to practice yoga each day for at least 20 minutes, to focus on eating more whole foods (yay for Lent), to allow myself to hear The Creator's voice and guide me back to the path he has carved out for me. At the end of this 108 day challenge I hope to have a calmer heart, a clearer head about my life, and a die hard yoga habit. I am excited and proud of this journey and so far I have managed to touch my mat each day. Be it morning or night I take the time to love myself and hear My Creator.
So here's to feeling better, finding allergy triggers, and developing habits that open up my life and body.
Namaste Ya'll