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Monthly Archives: October 2013

My Twelve Week Challenge: When Life Gets in the Way

I blame it on Katy Perry. She started the downfall …

Last week, right after writing this post where I was bragging about how well I am doing with my challenge, it fell apart in one night.

We took our kids to Katy Perry’s “We Can Survive” benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a mad dash to pick up three kids from two different schools, get everyone in the car, and try to get to the Bowl by 5:00pm. I was so concerned about packing snacks for the drive, getting a change of clothes and sweatshirts for the kids, and making sure we had what they needed to get homework done (in between pre-show action and the concert), I neglected to pack any food for myself.

After a typical rush-hour in LA, we squeaked in just it in time for the pre-concert sound check and Q & A with Katy. But we made it. The kids (well atleast the girls) were thrilled.

In between the pre-show and the concert, our tickets included a hosted party with drinks and appetizers. I figured I could probably find something to eat there. Boy, was I wrong.

We got to the patio area of the Bowl and I checked out the fare – sliders, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and plates of cookies. Seriously. Those were our only options – and I was starving. So yes, I probably could have left my family, headed out into the crowds in search of some type of food that was 12-week-challenge approved – and probably way overpriced.

Or, alternatively, I could hang out with the family, not fight the crowds, and enjoy free food. As you could guess, I chose the latter. And man, was that the best tasting grilled cheese I ever had. I hadn’t had bread or cheese in so long, I may have slipped and had two – or three. Plus a glass of wine, or maybe two.

The next day, I woke up with terrible guilt, vowed to “never let that happen again”, got to the The12 for a great class and worked my butt off.

But, of course, it did happen again. A couple days later, I ended up with a house full of hungry teenagers on a Friday night. My plans for roasting a chicken that wouldn’t even feed half of them was not going to work. So, I did what you do when you have a house full of people you aren’t prepared for – ordered pizza. Yes, I probably could have made a chicken breast for myself while everyone else stood around the kitchen eating pizza…but as you can probably guess, I didn’t.

And then, about a week later, I went to a neighborhood Bunco party. I put a meal in the oven for the family, headed out the door as my husband headed in, and went there thinking I could find something to eat that was 12-challenge-approved. The food was delicious, but pasta, bread and salad – not a morsel of protein to be found. And of course there was wine, because, well that is kind of the point of Bunco.

This led to more next-morning guilt, kicking myself for “not sticking to the plan”. Plus I had a headache and a terrible night of sleep, because when you don’t really drink much anymore and people refill your wine glass for you, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Which is all to say that I blame this on Katy Perry, teenagers and Bunco.

Not really. The blame falls squarely on me. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Those are the words that are going through my mind right now. I know that I need to be better prepared. As I said at the start of this challenge, worrying about my own needs can be kind of low on my priority list.

So, I need to find a better balance. I am working on it but I screw it up sometimes. See, for me, this 12-week-challenge isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I want to learn to make better choices that I can keep up – like forever. And forever is a long time. Mistakes are inevitable.

Another thing that is always on my mind is the example I am setting for my kids. I think finding a healthy balance that is not obsessive is important. I want my kids to remember how much fun we had as a family at the concert, not that mom made a big deal out of food and left to go find something she could eat. I want to remember having fun with my neighbors at Bunco, not the fact that I couldn’t eat my neighbors cooking because it didn’t have the perfect macronutrient ratios.

And when I look back on this past week, I want to remember this…

OCGreenMama_WeekCollage

…not the fact that I didn’t achieve perfect macro’s each day.

Which is not to say that I am not going to try to do better. I really am. I think the key is not letting a few mistakes derail me and make me lose focus on my goal. So, while the bad news is I didn’t lose any weight this past week, the good news is that I didn’t gain any either. I guess I did enough right to make up for my wrongs. And, my fat to muscle ratio is still improving. Fat going down and muscle going up. I’m still making progress – it’s three steps forward and two steps back, but it’s still going in the right direction.

Most importantly, I still feel (in spite of these slip-ups) much healthier overall. I am sleeping better, have no aches or pains, have more energy, and most of my clothes in my closet actually fit – no spanx required!

So instead of beating myself up, I am going to learn from my mistakes, and try to find a better balance between living my life and sticking to the plan. Which should be especially challenging as we head into the holiday season.

I will not be perfect, but I will strive to do better – in the challenge and in life. Which in the end, is all I can really ask.

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My Twelve Week Challenge: Macronutrients and Reintroducing Foods

Now that I have finished the ten-day cleanse portion of my challenge, I have entered the “Metabolic Phase”, which is challenge days 11-28.

At the end of the cleanse, I met with my coach Derek Graham (CSO & co-founder of The12), who designed a nutrition plan for me that includes the macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and sodium) ratios/totals that I should strive for on a daily basis, specific to my individual body type and challenge goals.

With the macronutrients established, I also was able to begin reintroducing foods that were not allowed during the cleanse period.

The first thing I reintroduced was coffee (of course), but not exactly the way I was drinking it before. First, I am now brewing a blend of 50% regular and 50% decaf. The “caffeine withdrawal” I experienced on the cleanse scared me a little bit, and I never want to be dependent upon a substance like that again. I am also limiting my coffee to one cup in the morning. If I want another after that, I brew some tea.

Second, I have changed what I add to my coffee. My favorite has always been the Vanilla Half and Half from Trader Joes, but I didn’t realize how many calories and sugar this adds to my diet every morning. I am now mixing my own creamer made with unsweetened Coconut milk, a drop of pure vanilla extract and a few drops of Stevia. I mix it in a container and pour it in my coffee. This one little switch done daily is a big improvement to my diet and has a big impact in the long run.

OCGreenMama_Macro3

I track my food every day using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone and submit the daily totals at the end of the day to my coach Derek. What I send him daily looks like this –

OCGreenMama_Macro1OCGreenMama_Macro2

Once Derek receives my information, he provides me with daily feedback on nutritional shifts that I can make specific to my body and goals at the end of the challenge. If he needs additional information or sees a bad pattern developing, I send him my entire log for the day that lists every item that I ate throughout the day.

If you are looking for accountability, that is it right there. People keep complimenting me on my willpower, but really it’s more of a case of “I don’t want my coach to see that I ate that.”

If left to my own devices, I do not think I would have the willpower and consistency to keep this going. There is something about this program – the clear directions, accountability, and results that make sticking to the program so much easier than trying to do it on my own.

Speaking of results, I want to share how I am doing so far. I stepped on the scale at The12 yesterday – which is no regular scale by the way. It is a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that measures not only your weight, but also the amount of your weight that is comprised of muscle, fat, water, etc. In addition, it measures the ratio of lean muscle to fat in every part of your body (leg, arm, and trunk).

After standing on the scale for a few minutes, you get a final reading that looks like this –

OCGreenMama_Macro4You can also look at reports of your progress (sorry the pics are blurry, there is no “screen shot” I can take to capture this info):

OCGreenMama_Macro5There is a lot of detail in the reports that I’m not super concerned about right now, but I’m guessing they will come into play later in the challenge, but the bottom line is…

I’m down 6.2 pounds and lowered by body fat percentage to 20.6%, which is almost 3% less than when I started! This is working! It’s really working!

I am so excited about all the changes taking place in my body. I can not wait to see what will happen in the weeks to come. Bring it on!

My Twelve Week Challenge: Ten-Day Cleanse

The Twelve-Week Challenge at The12 begins with a ten-day cleanse, or metabolic detox, designed to rid your body of toxins that have accumulated over time and help it perform at it’s optimum level. This gives you the right foundation to begin the rest of the challenge.

The detox is a key component of the challenge because in large part, a person’s overall physical health comes from their ability to efficiently detoxify and eliminate waste. At times, when the toxins – from the food we eat, water and other beverages we drink, air we breathe and the materials surrounding us daily (like paints, carpeting, dyes, cleaning products and even beauty products) are too much, they may overwhelm our system and our bodies may need some help getting rid of them.

Though not scientifically proven, a detox is designed to reduce the burdens on our organs (specifically the liver, kidney, intestines, and lymphatic system); promote healthy digestion; clean the digestive tract; increase immunity and circulation; promote healthy cell growth while reducing free radical damage; and curb addictions to things like caffeine, alcohol, salt and processed foods.

Oh yeah, and although this is not the goal of the program, it also helps you lose weight – a nice little bonus.

The 10-Day program that I did is called “Clear Change” from Metagenics. You can read more about this program on the Metagenics website.

After completing the program, I can tell you first, that I’m really glad it’s over. And second, that I feel phenomenal. Seriously, better than I have in a long, long time.

The eating program on the cleanse was not as hard to stick to as I expected. The program guidelines are very specific and detailed. I am good at following directions and sticking to a plan, so that part was not a problem at all. The thing that took me by surprise though, was how my body responded to the program. The first couple of days, I was exhausted. I was okay day three, but then days four through six were pretty rough. The body aches and pains I had due to the cleanse, combined with catching a cold made the challenge quite challenging for me.

By day five, I developed a weird sciatic-like back pain that I could not figure out. I finally found my answer online – caffeine withdrawal – which I found pretty scary. I don’t really consume that much caffeine, at least I think – a cup or two of coffee in the morning and usually and iced tea in the afternoon. However, this was enough caffeine ingested daily for long enough to make for some serious pain. At one point I said to my husband, “if this is what caffeine withdrawal feels like, remind me to never try heroine.” (Don’t worry Mom, I would never actually try heroine.)

By day seven though, the fog started to lift, the aches and pains subsided, and I started to feel more like myself. Finally, on day eight, the results of the cleanse really kicked in. Not only did I feel like myself, I felt like a better, lighter, faster, cleaner version of myself. It feels amazing.

“But how much weight did you lose?” This is the question everyone wants to know, so here is the bottom line – the results…

I lost 4.3 pounds during the cleanse period – yes the .3 is important. So, I went from 130.1 pounds to 125.7 and my body fat (percentage of my weight that is comprised of body fat) went from 23.5% to 22.9%.

More importantly though, I feel great. My skin looks better than ever, and I’m sleeping through the night consistently for the first time in a long, long time. My quality of life is so improved already. I can’t wait to build on that in the upcoming weeks.

For those who want more detail, below I breakdown the Metagenics 10-day detox plan day by day along with my personal experience each day. It’s A LOT of information, I know, but I wrote this to be a kind of what-to-expect guide for anyone considering the plan, so I wanted to include as much detail as possible. Of course, every person’s body will respond differently during a cleanse, but having a personal first-hand account as a guideline I thought might be helpful.

Note: Each day of the program, you should drink at least 64 ounces of plain, purified, distilled or mineral water to flush the system. This is very important as it flushes out the toxins that you are ridding from your body. Also, there are no caloric restrictions on this program. You can eat as much as you want of the allowed foods each day.

It is also recommended to only eat organic produce, wild-caught fish and free-range chicken. And although it isn’t mentioned in the program guide, I also was more careful than ever when choosing the products I put on my skin during this time. As I was flushing out toxins, I didn’t want to put more in my body through my skin (the largest organ in our body), so I used organic lotions, makeup, all-natural deodorant, etc. 

Metabolic Cleanse: Day One

Eliminate all refined sugars – anything with added sucrose, high fructose corn syrup or alcohol, any sodas, caffeine, dairy products, eggs, soy, beef, pork, foods with wheat or wheat flour or corn or cornflower, and any processed foods.

“What’s left?”, you may be thinking. Well, it’s actually still quite a bit – all fruits (no oranges); all vegetables (no corn); nuts (no peanut); legumes (no soy); fish (must be fresh, wild-caught); free-range chicken; rice (brown and white); gluten-free oats; rice pasta; potato flour, quinoa; milk alternatives (rice, hazelnut, hemp, almond, coconut); plus a variety of oils, vinegars, herbs and natural sweeteners for flavor.

This is the only day when you do not add any nutritional support – the Metagenics powder and/or supplements.

My Experience Day One:

Not having coffee was not the traumatic event I imagined it to be. Herbal tea made a nice substitute, and the fact that I could have some hot oatmeal with coconut milk and strawberries made me happy. I had plenty of energy still and enjoyed a good workout at The12. The eating went pretty well.

My big win was at dinner. I was making homemade chicken nuggets for the kids and was envying their crusted baked chicken. So, I made a version for myself, rubbing a little olive oil on free-range, organic chicken breasts and then sprinkling almond meal on them and tossing them in the oven. I was pretty impressed with myself for making breaded chicken that was challenge-friendly. Score! I was completely exhausted by 10pm. Fell into bed and slept like a baby until 6:00am.

OCGreenMama_DinnerDayOne

Metabolic Cleanse: Day Two

Continue foods from day one – no change.

Begin adding Metagenix Ultra Clear Renew nutritional beverage twice a day – 1 scoop mixed in water or juice.

My Experience Day Two:

Made coffee for my husband. Gave it a big whiff before I handed it to him and it was almost like drinking it (only totally not). Brewed my decaf herbal tea and had some rice cereal with bananas and coconut milk. Still had energy and enjoyed a challenging workout at The12. The rules of the cleanse on day two are the same as day one, but now I added the Metagenics Nutritional Beverage and Supplement Capsules.

Around 3pm, fatigue started to set in, big time. I felt an overwhelming exhaustion and cloudiness, but with hours of shuttling kids around ahead, I had to power through. I came home to find my husband and son sitting on the couch watching baseball and eating tortilla chips. I was shocked that I could smell the chips the second I walked in the door, but I resisted. I was completely exhausted again and fell asleep at 9:15, which I don’t think I’ve done in about ten years. Again, slept like a baby.

OCGreenMama_DayTwoCollage
Metabolic Cleanse: Day Three

Continue foods from day one and two, but now eliminate nuts/seeds, rice/grains, and milk substitutes.

Continue nutritional beverage mix – 1 scoop twice a day.

Begin taking AdvaClear supplement capsules – 2 capsules twice a day.

My Experience Day Three

The challenge became more difficult today. Life, as it tends to do, got in the way. The day started with what was supposed to be a simple 45 minute dentist appointment that went wrong. The work was more complicated than the dentist had thought, and I ended up there for two hours (on a pretty empty stomach) and needed Novocaine. When the dentist told me he was giving me the Novocaine injection, I briefly thought about whether that was going to effect my challenge and considered saying no. But I have to tell you, Novocaine, and my paralyzing fear of dental work ultimately won.

After my appointment, I went to a birthday lunch for a friend. With a partially numb mouth and all the restrictions of my diet, I wasn’t much of a lunch date. Luckily, my friend chose Tender Greens, so I was able to find a vegetarian garlic soup and side of soft grilled veggies that worked with both my diet, and my partially paralyzed mouth. By the end of the day some of the “joint soreness” that they had warned about during the cleanse kicked in. My lower back and hips were killing me. I tried to sleep, but the pain was pretty bad so I tossed and turned all night. I did not sleep like a baby.

Metabolic Cleanse: Day Four

Food is the same as day three.

Continue powdered beverage mix  – increase to 2 scoops twice a day.

Continue AdvaClear capsules – two capsules two times per day.

My Experience Day Four

Woke up after a restless sleep to find the lower back/hip pain had not subsided…at all. That, combined with the fact that I had now contracted the cold bug that had been traveling around my house for the past few weeks, made for a pretty miserable day. Plus, there was the added complication that because I was in detox-mode, I couldn’t take any pain relievers – ahhhh! Initially, I thought that I had the flu, but in retrospect, I believe it was just the cold virus combined with the cleanse-related joint pain that made it feel that way.

Throughout the day, I kept focusing on the goal at the end, and repeating in my head one of my favorite quotes “the only way out is through.” Also, I thought about how much of a first-world problem this all was and just told myself to power through.

I made myself a smoothie for breakfast – kale, banana, raspberries, and two scoops of the Metagenix Ultra-Clear renew powder. It was tasty and filling. Lunch was a large salad and dinner was red potatoes, broccoli and lentil beans. The cold kicked in more and more as the day wore on. Tried to go to bed early but couldn’t sleep because of all the aches and pains. It was hard to tell at this point which aches were flu related, and which were cleanse related. As I laid in bed and try to manage the pain, I pictured these areas of my body releasing toxins so that they can become healthier and stronger. That helped my psyche, but didn’t help me sleep unfortunately.

Metabolic Cleanse: Days Five – Seven

These three days were the most difficult of the cleanse in terms of diet. Now, you can only eat from the following list: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collards and bok choy), greens (including spinach, red and green lettuce, romaine, endive, watercress, radicchio, arugula, and escarole – though I don’t even know what that is), whole or freshly juiced apples and pears with no added sugars (organics preferred), fish, legumes, water and herbal tea. Food can be seasoned with oils, vinegar and herbs only.

Increase nutritional beverage to two scoops four times per day.

Increase AdvaClear capsules to two capsules three times per day.

My Experience, Days Five Through Seven

I had what I thought was the flu, but considering the side effects of a cleanse include fatigue, malaise, aches and pains, emotional duress, acne, headaches, allergies, and symptoms of colds and flu, I believe it was part of my healing process. Detoxification specialists call these reactions healing crises, caused by temporarily increased levels of toxins in the body due to elimination and cleansing. Which is all to say, it’s a good pain, but pain nonetheless.

I had very little energy all three of these days and strenuous exercise was pretty much out of the question. I reminded myself often of the end goal and try to ignore the temporary pain. (If you begin the cleanse on a Monday, these days are Friday to Sunday. My recommendation is to try to schedule your cleanse to coincide with a weekend where you don’t have a lot of activities or obligations so you can rest, recover, and eat only at home due to the eating restrictions).

Finding food options was not as easy. I came up with this salad (organic spinach, organic honey crisp apples, organic garbanzo beans and organic hummus drizzled with olive oil and vinegar), and it made me happy.

OCGreenMama_CleanseDay7

Metabolic Cleanse: Day Eight

Add back in all other fruits, vegetables and white rice to diet.

Decrease powdered beverage mix – 2 scoops three times a day.

My Experience Day Eight

When I woke up on day eight – although it was only 5:30am – it felt like the sun was shining and birds were singing. I felt phenomenal for the first time during the cleanse. Finally, my cold has dissipated, the pain was gone, my head was clear and I was ready to embrace the day.

After getting kids off to school, I headed to The12 for my first workout in five days and powered through pretty well. It was also nice to add back in the rest of the fruits and vegetables, as well as rice. Oh beautiful rice, I had never been so excited to eat it in my life.

Metabolic Detox: Day Nine

Add millet, tapioca, amaranth, buckwheat, legumes, nuts and seeds back into diet.

Decrease powdered beverage mix – 2 scoops twice a day.

My Experience Day Nine

Day nine felt a lot like eight. I had my best workout yet at The12, and burned more calories than any of my previous workouts. Chicken was reintroduced today, which made me very happy. I never though I could tire of fish, but I found that I needed to mix it up. I roasted an organic free-range chicken (seasoned with lemon, rosemary, garlic, and a little bit of sea salt). I combined with red potatoes and green beans and finally, for the first time since I started the cleanse, my family and I could all eat the exact same meal.

OCGreenMama_WorkoutDay9

Metabolic Cleanse: Day Ten

Slowly reintroduce foods that have not been added to diet.

If food allergies are suspected, try one at a time and wait 24-48 hours for a reaction.

My Experience: Day Ten

I’m done, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done! There may have been some skipping and happy dancing. There was no champagne sadly but I did overindulge in sparkling water.

On a more serious note, I have to say I am proud of myself. Forgoing caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar, salt, eggs, soy, beef, pork, foods with wheat or wheat flour or corn or cornflower, and any processed foods is no small challenge. I am so glad I did it.

I can’t stop smiling because I feel (and I think look) so much healthier. I can not wait to build on the progress I have made during the next step of this journey. I hope you follow along. I’ll keep you posted…

My Twelve Week Challenge: The Night Before

Tomorrow, I start a new chapter of my life. I’m excited, nervous, and a little scared. But for the most part, I feel ready – to write a new chapter to my story that includes better health, better fitness and an overall better me.

Tomorrow is the first day of my Twelve-Week Challenge at The12, a new unique and cutting-edge gym in Irvine.

The challenge begins with a ten-day cleanse. It is not a fast, which can cause muscle wasting and fatigue, but rather a detoxification process, which includes the proper macro-nutrients (protein and carbohydrates) plus specific micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Designed to enhance the body’s natural metabolic detoxification process while providing adequate fuel for cleansing and daily activities.

Weight loss is not the goal of the cleanse, although it may happen – hey, I certainly wouldn’t complain. The main goal is to detox the body and eliminate potential allergens, which are then slowly reintroduced at the end of the cleanse, allowing you to pinpoint any problem foods.

Once the cleanse is done, my journey will be far from over. It will include an additional ten weeks of the challenge, where I will focus on specific macro-nutrient goals, food journaling, and participating in The12’s Afterburn Training.

My intention is to update regularly on this journey – to share my progress, set backs and concerns – my unbiased opinion about the process. In the hopes that I might be able to inspire others. And, if I get really brave, I may even share my before and after photos – although the thought of my 40-something, I-gave-birth-to-nine-plus-pound-babies belly being on public display makes me shudder. But hey, with some hard work and a little luck, there is a chance that it may turn into something that would not be so mortifying for me. I know it won’t be easy but if it happens, I’m sharing for sure.

For a little insight on why I decided to embark on this journey and what my initial concerns are, check out this video –

Off to bed now and on to better days ahead beginning tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Disclaimer: Although I did receive a discount on some products and services of The12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.