Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cream Cheese Pancakes

My friend told me about these years ago, and I rarely remember to make them. However, I was getting a little tired of my veggie omelets lately, so I figured I'd whip up a batch of these babies. I just did a quick internet search for "cream cheese pancakes", and I was able to locate the recipe here.

All you need is 2 ounces of cream cheese (preferably warmed up in the microwave for about 15 seconds to make it easier to stir), 2 eggs, 1 packet of Stevia (or any other sweetener), and a dash of cinnamon.

Place all the ingredients in the blender, mix together for at least 10 seconds, and then cook as you would regular pancakes -- pouring only a little of the batter into a lightly greased pan on medium heat, and flip after a few minutes.

You can then add some sugar-free maple syrup or even some berries on top.

These babies taste just as good (if not better) than regular pancakes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mantle Mania

Recently I've been obsessed with arranging my mantle just so.. and I've spent way too much time on Pinterest trying to find some inspiration. I thought I'd share some of my favorites so far.

LOVE this mirror frame... makes me want to try to make one just like it in the shop... mainly for the technical / skill level required to make those fantastic staggered, radiused pieces... But I'd do a larger mirror... much larger.
The blues and greens look great here.
House of Turquoise: Rob Stuart Interiors - guest bedroom on the main floor - consider a fireplace as a main focus
This is perhaps a little too.. youthful for my taste, but I like the bold colors.

Love the Herringbone Design - from "Fixer Upper" on HGTV (Magnolia Homes) Not doing it as dressy, but I like the herringbone.
I'm a big fan of the oversized clocks these days.

tulips + turquoise vases. love
These colors go so well together, especially against a white background.

LOVE this!  We don't have a fireplace (yet), but I wonder if I could build this mantle and fake it until we DO have one?
This is probably my favorite so far.
 
Spring has Sprung: 5 Ways to Fresh Decor
A little too busy for my taste, but I like the overall theme.
 
pictures of beach summer theme rooms with blues familyrooms | How I Found My Style Sundays From My Front Porch To Yours- Adventures ...
Love the beach-y theme.
 

fireplaces decorated in blue | Luxurious Apartment Ideas, Interior Decorating in Mediterranean Style
This terrifies me. I hope they have the fire department on speed dial.
 
Keep molding/casing around fireplace but maybe replace the tiles with a stacked stone wall tile to cut cost on demo and install.
Simple, but classic.
 
Diy Faux Fireplace Tutorial - The Pursuit of Handyness
I LOVE the grey walls here. They really make everything else "pop".
 
if we have a fireplace mantle in our new place...I'd do this instead of your typical picture over the mantel..candles and a flower arrangement or greenery...
I like the new trend of using these bird cages as decorations.
I'm not so sure they work best on a mantle, though.

And now.. for my own mantle:

I know, I know. It's still a work in progress. But it's much better than it used to be.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Easy Roasted Veggies and Shirataki Noodles

You guys, I've been really good about what I'm eating ever since I finished my fast. I've been eating tons of fruits and vegetables, and I feel fantastic. Now, I have a tendency to get bored with the same old meal over and over again, so I decided to spice things up a bit and roast some veggies with a bit of a kick. With a veggie-heavy meal, you need some carbs to even it out, so I decided to eat my vegetables over a bed of the Shirataki Noodles I've been hearing about for so long. And it turned out much better than I expected!
 
I began by heating one of my frozen summer vegetable packets up in a covered pan on medium heat. Once it had cooked thoroughly, I added a dash of French Onion dip and made sure to mix it in really well before turning off the heat.
 
Meanwhile, I'd had the Shirataki noodles softening up in a warm pot of water on the counter. By the time everything was ready, I laid the vegetables on a bed of noodles. (Make sprinkle a little salt on the noodles before adding the vegetables.)

I don't know what it is with this dish, but the flavors blend so well together. If you're ever in the need for a quick, delicious week-night recipe, this one is it!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Breaking the Fast

At last, the day has arrived! I've got all my ingredients ready to go, my plan of action is all written out, and the world is my oyster. No pun intended.

First things first, I decided to start off with a blended smoothie I'd read about on one of the fasting websites (can't remember which one), made up of blueberry, watermelon, and cinnamon diluted with mostly water. I blended all the ingredients together and spent the better part of the morning sipping it slowly. As it turns out, it tasted pretty good. I wouldn't mind having one of these every so often.

Around noon, I decided to step it up a notch. I steamed some tomatoes and squash noodles (I know, I'm a bit obsessed with my new spiralizer) and ate those with a bowl of mixed fruit and a glass of diluted grape juice. So far, so good. My body seemed to be taking it all in pretty well.

Now, here's where things could have gotten a little complicated. I'm not sure exactly why, but I was beginning to have intense cravings for cashews. Since nuts and dairy aren't supposed to be eaten in my current phase, I knew I shouldn't even think about it. However, the craving just got worse. So I did what some of the fasting articles suggested, and I "listened to my body". I ate a bowl of cashews like they were going out of style. And luckily, I was fine afterward. But my later research indicated that eating nuts or proteins after a long fast is bad, bad, bad for your body. Oh well. Can't win 'em all.
Immediately after eating my lunch, I got my sense of balance back. I'd been convinced for some reason that eating would give me a surge of energy, but it did the opposite. It tired me out. However, since it was Sunday (and I apparently timed this fast incredibly well), I was able to nap as long as I wanted to. When I woke up, I steamed up some more vegetables, poured another glass of (less) diluted grape juice, and heated up some squash soup. It was all delicious, but I wasn't able to feel truly full (because I was eating next to nothing, go figure). Regardless, I decided my body had had enough nourishment for the first day and went to bed early.

Overall, my fast was a very positive experience. I'm not sure I personally know anyone else who has voluntarily gone five straight days without eating (I could be wrong, who knows?), and that gives me a small sense of social accomplishment on top of the inner personal accomplishment I feel for planning this out, setting goals, and seeing it through. I'm sure my water weight will be coming back on this week, but I know that I have the opportunity to keep it off by eating the right way. As strange as it sounds, I am keenly more aware of the food that is available to me on a daily basis, and I really have very little interest in eating anything unhealthy at the moment. That might sound like a cliché, but it's actually true.

Now the trick is to keep this frame of mind for the long run..

Days 4 & 5 -- Water Fast

DAY FOUR

I'm official in ketosis, y'all! I woke up this morning (before my alarm clock) with a jolt of energy and a complete LACK of hunger! Oh man, it felt so good. And my dreams the night before were pretty vivid, in a good way. Everything was going well until I got in the shower. After about five minutes I think the heat/stem sort of got to me, and I had to turn off the water and sit down on the marble ledge in my shower to regain my composure. Once I felt like the dizziness and nausea had passed, I turned the water back on to a very mild temperature and finished rinsing off.

Then, I noticed something odd after my shower. My face is always, always bright red when I get out of the shower no matter how hot (or cold) the water was. I've been to a dermatologist about it, but was assured that it was probably nothing. This morning, my face was almost pallid when I sat down to do my makeup. Now, this could be one of three things -- either a result from turning down the water heat (which I doubt, as my face is still red after coming out of a cold swimming pool), a sign of my body disposing of toxins in my blood (which is a common occurrence during fasting), or proof that my body truly is "healing" itself from the inside out and has rid my face of whatever this pigmentation problem was. I'm interested to see, going forward, if my skin returns to its normal redness after showers, or if fasting has eliminated that problem for me. I guess time will tell.

Otherwise, today was a pretty easy day. Standing up is a bit of a process.. I have to do it slowly so I don't get dizzy, but once I'm standing I'm fine. No hunger pangs at all today.. just an odd feeling in my stomach, and lots of stomach rumbling (I have no idea what's going on in there, but I trust my body to do the job it was intended to do). Overall, a pretty good day!

DAY FIVE

I'd read several places that days 4-6 can be a little overwhelming (fatigue-wise) and most people opt to sleep through them. Today is Saturday, so I actually have that option. However, I woke up at my regular time and was itching to get out of the house. So I went to the grocery store to pick up all the foods I needed for the post-fast phase. It took me a little longer to walk (like, noticeably.. I felt like I was a grandmother) through the aisles, but I took my time and didn't try to rush myself. And I ended up getting perhaps a little more than I should have, but I think I ended up with a perfect hauls. Everything I'm going to need in the days to come, once I start my digestive system up again.


Seen here: Apples, watermelon, blueberries, fruit bowl (these are going to be most important in the first day or two of refeeding), corn soup, vegetable broth, yogurt, grape juice, apple juice, cherry tomatoes, cottage cheese, squash, pomegranate seeds, sugar-free applesauce, coconut water, cashews, eggs, and mixed vegetables. All should be broken down into phases during the days after I start eating again, but at least I have plenty to choose from.

I felt pretty good today, and once I returned from the grocery store I relaxed and watched movies all day long. Around 6:00 I started getting antsy, so J and I ventured out to a friend's barbecue to watch the Panthers play the Seahawks in the playoffs. Strangely enough, it wasn't hard to sit there and watch everyone chow down on food as I sipped from my water bottle. I'm not sure if it was the food itself, but I really had no desire to partake in any of it. Okay, maybe I was eyeing the roasted potatoes a little bit. But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Knowing that tomorrow is my last day, I feel strong enough to resist any fleeting cravings I might have. That, and the fact that I'm down ten pounds, keeps me going strong.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 3 -- Water Fast

Thursday A.M.
Okay, it's official. This fast is already more difficult that my previous 3-day fast, and I still have 3 more days to go. I woke up this morning around 4:30 with an intense bout of nausea. I tried to lie as still as possible in hopes that the feeling would pass, but a few minutes later I was convinced I was about to throw up. Once again, I stayed still and tried concentrating on something else, and the feeling mostly passed. I guess I dozed off again, because the next thing I knew my dog was nudging me with his nose (as it was my wake-up time, 6:30, and my alarm had failed to go off), so I stood up very slowly and felt a wave of dizziness hit me. I held onto my nightstand until it had passed, and proceeded to go through my normal morning routine. The more I think about it, the more I think this has something to do with acid building up into my stomach as the digestive system shuts down, and in my sleeping (read: horizontal) state, the acid was beginning to creep up my esophagus. Needless to say, the start to this morning was not the best.

See the source image
A cucumber roll.  Surprisingly, that's what I'm craving.
The good new is that I'm down another two pounds, bringing the current grand total to four pounds lost. Sure, it may be all water weight, but as long as the number on the scale is decreasing, it makes me happy. Call me foolish, but it is what it is.

I brought a bag of grapes with me to work today in case things take a turn for the worse. I've read that it only takes 15 minutes from breaking your fast for the nutrients and food to switch your digestive system back on, so I take comfort in knowing that I can stop if/when I need to. That being said, I'm not using that as an excuse to break my fast early, and I'm going to try my best to push through to the end. Besides, if I end my fast on Day 3, I get virtually none of the fat-burning benefits that begin on Day 4.

Thursday P.M.
I'm feeling a bit better than I was earlier. I still feel foggy and lethargic, but the nausea has passed for the most part. I think drinking water throughout the day had a lot to do with my improvement. That being said, I still feel sort of "off". It's almost like I'm living a dream. I spent the entire day in a fog of sorts, slow to move my body and unable to concentrate on anything. Overall, I just didn't feel very good. All in all, probably not the best day to be at work. Luckily, I didn't have anything too pressing to get finished.

I'll re-evaluate the situation tomorrow morning, and if I still feel this poorly, I might end the fast early. If things continue in this manner, I just don't know how much longer I can go on like this. And there's a slight chance I might end up feeling worse than I did today. I'll keep y'all posted.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 2 -- Water Fast

They say the first three days are the hardest during a fast, because it takes time (usually 48 hours for females and 72 hours for males) for the body to burn up the glucose from your last meal, after which it turns to glycogen that is stored in your muscles and liver. Once those reserves have been burned off, your body shuts down your digestive system and turns to your existing fat stores for energy. This last process is called ketosis. I've experienced ketosis several times in the past (not just from fasting, but from a strict low-carb diet), but this time it feels a little different.

I'm not all that hungry per se, but there is a dull pain in my abdomen constantly reminding me of my lack of food. And my awareness of food being all around me is strong. People are constantly snacking at work, every other commercial (and advertisement online) involves food of some sort, and it's hard to have a conversation with someone without being reminded of the meals you aren't eating. Yesterday I had to schedule a lunch meeting for next week, and I was browsing through restaurant menus and locations to find one that would work.. just looking at those menus was hell in itself.

Courtesy of wellnesstoday.com
The last time I fasted, my sense of smell was ridiculously strong on Day 2.  I was able to pick up on scents that I never would have otherwise -- I smelled cooked chicken I had cooked days earlier in the kitchen, the light scent of cigarettes in my car (I only smoke in my car once every three months or so), and I couldn't fall asleep that night because my comforter smelled like the dog. I had to get up, strip the bed, and put on fresh sheets and a new comforter before I could relax. Strangely enough, that amped-up sense of smell sort of stayed with me after the fast was over (remember, my first 3-day fast was about a month ago), so I'm not feeling overwhelmed with smells the way I was last time.

This morning, I feel my body moving slower. My mind is focused, but it seems that all my physical reflexes have slowed down. I'm not anxious or restless, but I definitely feel like I'm mentally alert. There are certain times where I feel almost a natural high flowing through my body. I haven't been dizzy at all, but I've also been conscious to take my time standing up and to drink as much water as I can. I don't feel "good" necessarily, but there isn't a specific part of me that feels "badly". I just feel sort of.. disconnected, I guess. Kind of like when you have a cold but you're hopped up on the cough medicine, so you aren't experiencing the symptoms but you know you're still sick.

Like I said, I weighed myself on Day 1 and was absolutely blown away by how high the number on the scale was. As of this morning, I've lost 2.3 pounds (mostly water, I'm sure), but it's just nice to see my weight moving downwards. At this point, I'll take anything.

Uncomfortable symptoms are supposed to be a sign that your body is actual healing itself, so I'm expecting the fasting to get a bit harder as it goes on. So far, aside from the dull ache in my stomach and a very mild headache today, I'm not experiencing anything negative. Hopefully the worst symptoms won't appear until the weekend, when I'm tucked away in bed and not at work.

I'll keep y'all updated!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 1 -- Water Fast

Y'all, I thought the first day of my fast would be pretty simple, seeing as how I'd done a few "trial" fasts leading up to this big one. And it was, with the major exception that I was hungrier than I expected to be. It might sound sort of silly, but once your body gets used to fasting (which mine has), you can trick yourself into sort of "wishing away" the hunger. The mind is an amazing thing, and I've always had good experiences avoiding true hunger on my fast days.

This time, I wasn't so lucky. I blame the tons and tons of carbs I'd inhaled over the holidays. That, and I'd taken a break from intermittent fasting altogether, forgoing my usual two days a week of eating under 500 calories. Well, that was a big mistake. Because my mind and my body somehow decided that food was a MUST. I drank as much water as I could to overcome the growling stomach (which, let's be honest, is more of an annoying embarrassment than anything else), and sort of threw myself into my work to keep my mind off food. And luckily, it worked!

See the source imageI think another thing I had going for me (or for the fast, rather) was the fact that I stepped on the scale at the beginning of Day 1 and was absolutely SHOCKED to see such a high number. I had somewhat expected to have gained a few pounds since Thanksgiving.. but 8 pounds? Good grief. That's just ridiculous. Now I know why my clothes have been feeling so tight lately! The flip side of the coin is that every time I think about shortening my fast and having something to eat, I remember the number on the scale. That's more motivation than I could ask for!

As far as other symptoms aside from hunger, I was fine. I had plenty of energy at work and tried to get ahead on some of my tasks so that later in the week (when I expect to not be feeling so good) I don't have to struggle to get things done.

I did drink more water than usual.. mostly to curb the hunger pangs, but also because water is the best thing to help clean your system out. A lot of people do some pretty extreme things to cleanse their body and their intestines during a fast, but I don't plan on doing any of that. I believe the body naturally cleanses itself without any interference, so I'll let it do its job properly.

I'm used to skipping breakfast and lunch pretty regularly, so that didn't really phase me, but the funny thing was that by the time I got home last night from work, I had the distinct feeling that there was something I was supposed to do before getting in bed to continue my Friends marathon (hooray, it's finally on Netflix!). But I was mistaken, obviously. Because there were no meals to prepare or eat, and there was no cleaning up involved afterwards. It's amazing how much time we really do spend on planning, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up after our meals. When we take that out of the occasion, you really would be surprised how much time we can save!

I'm hoping I was able to time this fast right by starting on Tuesday. I don't plan on taking any time off from work, and Day 4 of my fast is where things may start to get a little more intense.. since Day 4 is Friday, I'll just have to make it through that one day at work (when most people aren't even in the office and things settle down a bit) and then I can spend the weekend in bed, letting my body recharge and repair while I rest quietly.

Upwards and onwards we go!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Five-Day Fast

I've decided to start the new year off by letting my body rest, recharge, and cleanse itself. I've been researching water fasting (i.e. consuming nothing but water) for several weeks now, and I've decided to embark on a 5-day fast of my own.

Although I do the usual 5:2 intermittent fasting on a regular basis (five days normal eating, two days under 500 calories), I feel like I've been gaining weight lately. My stomach and face are both bloated, the number on the scale isn't what I'd like it to be, and I've gotten into the habit of eating processed food.

I've been planning this fast for a while now, and I've been preparing for it as well. For the three days leading up to my fast (although it should probably have been a longer period of time) I'm drastically reducing my carbs and eating mainly meats, vegetables, and eggs. Nothing processed.


In an effort to step myself up to the five-day window gradually, I also embarked on a three-day fast in early December. Although I meant to blog my way through that fast as well, it was the beginning of the holiday season and things around here were chaotic.. I sadly wasn't able to find the time to journal my day-to-day symptoms and whatnot. This time, I plan to keep a record of those things.

And I'm all about a good challenge, so I figure 5 days would be ideal. From the stories I've been reading, anything longer than 3 days results in some unpleasant side effects. But you know what? I'm willing to trudge through it. I've heard that the lasting effects of these fasts can be priceless.

So what better way to keep track of my progress than to blog about it?

I'm just finishing up my pre-fast phase, and I plan to begin my fast after lunch tomorrow (Tuesday). I've calculated this out so that I can spend days 4 and 5 (which are supposed to be the toughest on the body) at home this coming weekend. Also, I'd like to break the fast on Sunday evening (hence beginning my fast in the middle of the day tomorrow) so that I can avoid any ill-effects before returning to work.

I'm a little nervous about this whole thing, but knowing I can make it three days without food makes me feel a lot more confident about this fast. Also, the lasting results will be worth it.

If y'all are interested in reading some of the fasting articles I've been reading, here are the links:

How the Terrible, Insufferable Six-Day Water Fast Made Me a New Man

Fascinating Evidence Shows Why Water Fasting Could Be One of the Healthiest Things You Can Do

My Experience During a 4-Day Water Fast

**UPDATE** I stepped on my scale this morning (Tuesday) and was absolutely shocked at how much I weigh. I knew I'd gained a few pounds during the holidays, but that "few" turned out to be eight. Ugh!! That being said, I'm starting my fast immediately. Sometimes it's actually easier not to know when my "last meal" is, because I tend to overeat when I know I'm about to start a fast. So my dinner of chicken marsala and squash noodles will have to be the last one for the next five (maybe six) days.

Here we go!