Thursday, October 15, 2015

5 Ways to Make Clean Eating a Habit

It's mid-October and I haven't been on the blog in over a month! What's with that?! Well it's been a busy month of birthday, visiting family and thanksgiving. Now that these holidays are complete I'm ready to get back into the clean eating and living. I've taken a bit of a break on the clean eating lately because I had convinced myself that I missed certain things. The problem is that I felt so much better while clean eating therefore it's time to hitch myself back onto that clean eating wagon. 

Now the difference this time around is that I'm taking a more realistic approach to the whole clean eating thing. I've realized that the way I did it back in July is hard to maintain over the long term. Since then I've been working on a way to sustainably eat clean over the long term and make it a lasting habit. I've figured out a few things that I've listed below that include being more realistic and compassionate with myself and enjoying my one life. Here's 5 things I've figured out so far about making clean eating into a lasting habit:

1. I can't cut out the foods I enjoy forever:
I really enjoy things like wine, cheese, cake and other delicious creations and com'n, who doesn't? So when I try to picture myself cutting these foods out of my life for the rest of my life I get really sad. I also know that trying to cut out the so-called "dirty" foods out of my diet forever will eventually drive me crazy (more on that in the next section). So instead I've decided to save these yummy, and supposedly bad for me, foods for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, parties, etc. But do realize this is a slippery slope of making non-special occasions into special ones for the sake of eating the special foods. To help yourself avoid this trap remember they're way more special and worthy of their deliciousness status when saved for special occasions.

2. I end up wanting the 'forbidden foods' way more than before:
So along similar lines as above; when I try to cut foods out it just leads me down the binge path because that's all I can think about. You know what I mean right...when you cut something out and tell yourself you can't have it or it's bad for you all of a sudden you can't stop thinking about that thing. It's a psychological concept called the white bear problem (aka: ironic process theory) in which you can't help but think of something you're trying not to think of and it drives us mad. So instead I try to trick myslef and get around this problem by telling myself I can have these foods just not right now and it does help. For me I find it's easier to cut these things out from my day-to-day diet knowing that they're not forbid foods but instead things that I choose to save for special times. 

3. When I change my language it helps to change my life:
Another way to trick myself into making better life and eating decisions without driving myself crazy is to change the way I talk to myself and others about food. As a society we like to push all sorts of food "rules" onto each other that are usually pretty arbitrary and often times dangerous. These "rules" get passed around like gospel from person to person without critical analysis and once they're out there it's so hard to change people's minds. Why is that I wonder...that's a question for another time. Anyways it's important to say things to myself like "I choose to not eat these foods out of love for myself and my health" instead of something like "I can't eat those foods because they go straight to my thighs!" See the difference? The words we use have a huge impact on our attitude and behaviours as well as those around us. 

4. I love food and it's an important part of my life:
It's time for me to get over the hate part of my love-hate relationship with food. I'm over fighting with my food and I'm ready to embrace the life-giving stuff that it is. Food: I'm just head-over-heels kind of thing in love with you and I'm ready to take this relationship to the next level...can we go steady? Food: I'm ready for the long term commitment, I want you there through the thick and thin, the good and bad and everything in between until death do us part. I'll stop hating you and fighting with you and you'll continue to fuel me and my life and make me feel good and happy. What do you say you forgive me? I think Food and I will be very happy together. :)

5. Being adaptable is the cornerstone of clean living:
I've realized that having a strict "can eat" and "can't eat" list always going in my head leads to neurosis and ruins the magic of life and living in the moment. There will still be times where I need to remind myself to go for the better option when presented with several options but I also have to be adaptable and let myself off the hook occasionally. When I was being so hard on myself about not eating clean and/or not living the clean life I was causing myself undue stress and for what? I was causing myself heartache all so I could fit into someone else's idea of health and/or beauty. Forget that: this is my life and you know me I'm all about figuring out what works for you when it comes to designing the life you want and that also applies to your health and diet. 

In conclusion, I'm going to give myself permission to be a human being and make mistakes and I'm going to stop being so hard on myself. I plan on continuing to enjoy myself and my life the way I want everyday and I won't let anyone else dictate what's right for me and my life. Something else that I remind myself of every time I forget: I'm beautiful and awesome no matter what size I wear or what the scale says. 

So from here on in I have a lot of plans for more posts having to do with living your best life. These will include: figuring out your own defintion of health, happiness and success; ignoring society's arbitrary healthy, fitness and beauty standards; how to live an uncommonly wealthy life as a shift worker; and so much more. Stay tuned for big things coming from me in the future! For now here's to your uncommonly wealthy and delicious life! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August Health Challenge - Update

So I've been MIA on here for the last month or two and I miss it and this blog misses me. I posted a lot in June and I was successful in completing a health challenge in both June and July and then August rolled around. I guess I just needed a bit of a break because I haven't really been doing the August health challenge and I haven't been posting either. It's summer and I've been working hard and a lot lately so I guess I just wanted and needed a break.

I'm currently on the train back home after spending an extended weekend with family in my hometown. That was the break I needed and now I'm ready to get back into my life, which includes being responsible about my health and writing on this blog. So I've decided that the August meditation challenge is a write off and something I'll try again a different month and instead now I'm going to get back into the clean eating. Starting today I'm going to get back into eating clean and working out on the regular and I'll soon decide what my September health challenge will be. 

My clean eating plan going forward will include not eating gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar and processed foods with a slight exception. I'm going to give myself cheat days. Yes, you heard that right, in order to still live a happy and healthy life I'm going to allow myself one day a week, at most (less if possible), where I eat anything I'd like. This isn't an excuse to go crazy but it is a way for me to fit a social life into a healthy life. This means that I'll eat healthy and clean for most of the time and then I won't feel guilty having the occasional indulgence at family events, weddings, parties and going out with friends. I think this will also help keep me sane. 

This seems like the most realistic way to live and to lead a healthy life that will actually last a lifetime. I'm also going to try my best not to go too crazy on my cheat days. I'll still stay away from added sugars and various chemical additives but I'll allow myself to indulge in homemade goodies, wine, cheese, chocolate and the like. I'll play it by ear on what I can and cannot stand on these cheat days. For this week I've created a meal plan for eating healthy and clean and I have a party on the weekend so I'll save my non-clean indulgences for that day and then I'll go right back to eating clean the next day. I'll do a checkin next Monday to let you know how it goes. 

Another important part of staying healthy for me and continuing my weight loss journey is meal planning, portion control, food journaling and working out. I think one of these things may be related to my September health challenge, stay tuned for that. So for now I'll continue to plan healthy and clean meals for my week as well as experimenting with clean versions of some of my favourite foods and meals. I'll also continue to pack pre-portioned snacks for work and make healthy meals for my work peeps. I'm going to start getting serious about recording my food and my workouts. And finally I'm going to continue to do 3 days a week of weight lifting workouts and 2-3 days per week of cardio workouts that'll include running, stairmaster and swimming. I'm also going to look into joining a sports group in order to stay active and meet cool new peeps.

These are my health and fitness goals going into the fall and the last part of the year. My writing and blogging goals will include writing and posting on this blog a minimum of once per week. I've also been doing a lot in the planning realm that I've previously mentioned and I want to start creating videos for that side of my life. Another important goal for me moving forward is to start writing on the regular; this may include a daily or weekly writing goal or maybe I'll enter the NaNoWrMo again this year. I was unsuccessful last year but hey maybe 2015 is my year?! 

Keep your eyes on my social media and here on the blog and there will be periodic updates from now until the end of the year. In the meantime, as always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Clean Eating Health Challenge - Complete!

July is over and yippee I've made it! I survived eating a striped down 'clean' diet in which I cut out gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar and processed foods. I successfully stuck to a clean eating diet for 30 days and I'm here today to share with you what I've learned and how I'm feeling now that the month is complete. I've had some realizations this month, I've come up with some plans for my future and I'm starting a new 30-day health challenge for August that I'm going to share with you here.

I have a more thorough breakdown of how my clean eating month went over on the Shift Worker's Guide from midway through the month and a final wrap-up. Otherwise, here is my quick breakdown of what I learned this month and what I have planned moving forward.

What it was like to spend a month eating clean:

Honestly, this has been a month of ups and downs and trails and tribulations but it was overall a great experience that I'm very glad I embarked on. I wasn't always perfect and being a shift worker didn't make the challenege to eat clean and healthy any easier but I succeeded in completing it and I'm happy for that fact. Here are some quick points that stood out to me about this month's challenge:

1. I succeeded in proving to myself that I can maintain a healthy diet and life even while being a shift worker and that it doesn't have to be a chore.
2. It probably took me all month to truly withdrawl from years of eating refined white sugar and processed foods. It wasn't always a pleasant experience but it was well worth it considering all the benefits that I'm now exepriencing.
3. These benefits include: I now have more energy than I've had in a long time, my sleep habits and patterns have changed for the better, I no longer have cravings for junk food and it's easier to say no and avoid the bad-for-me foods.
4. Once the 30-day challenge was over I decided to give myself the weekend to indulge in a few things that I'd been missing over the month, such as bread, cheese, wine, chocolate, etc. and in doing so I'm now reminded why I embarked on this journey in the first place: I feel so much better eating clean.
5. I've decided that from now on I'm going to eat clean as my normal way of life. I'll continue to avoid refined white sugar, processed foods and alcohol while experimenting with reintroducing some gluten and dairy back into my life in moderation. I'll keep you posted! 

What does the future look like for me:

As number 5 stated above I'm going to make clean eating my new standard in the way I eat and live. I'm going to continue to blog and write about my experience with living a healthy life and share my recipes for turning classic comfort foods into healthy and clean versions. In that vein one of my goals for the future is to create a book that will serve as a starting point and guide post for others who are intertested in starting on the clean eating way of life. I want to create this book as something that will help others withdrawl from the junk they've been eating and make the switch to healthy with the help of guidelines, recipes, and tips.

I had a friend join me for a portion of this month in order to clean up his diet and he turned to me for advice and guidance throughout the process. He has so far experienced similar positive results from totally changing his life around when it comes to his health and that's something I and he want to share with you. In the near future you will see an interview with this friend of mine on his experience going from someone who knew nothing about clean eating to being a health rockstar.

Another plan I have for the future is to expand the Uncommon Wealth empire into another area of interest of mine. This is a fun thing that I've been thinking about for a while and I think it's about time I dove right in and got started. I've always been someone who has really enjoyed arts and crafts, organization and writing and I think I've found a way of life and a supportive online community that intersects all those interests. What I'm talking about is planners and the planning community. This may make no sense to you right now but this is something that I've very passionate and excited about. Do not expect to start seeing planner posts pop up on this blog but I will be creating a YouTube channel and accompanied social media accounts that'll be associated with the Uncommon Wealth title.

I know I was a bit MIA on the blog here during July but I've recommitted myself to this blog and I have some really exciting things in the works for the future so stay tuned!

New 30-day Health Challenge for August: Meditation

August has arrived and with it a new 30-day health challenge. For August I've decided to take a break from the diet and exercise focsued challenges to one that is more mental health related. As stated above I'm defintiely going to continue to maintain a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, however I'm now going to add on an element that will help me balance another important area of my health: my brain.

I believe taking care of my mental health is so important especially being someone who is a shift worker in emergency services. I hear and witness too often how stressful shift work-type jobs in the emergency services are and can wreck havoc on a person's mental and emotional states and I'd like to find a healthy way to counteract this process.

I've dabbled with meditation in the past and I've felt like it has helped and when I've maintained a regular practice but I've been so far unable to make it a permanent part of my life. I truly believe that meditation and mindfulness is a beneficial practice and should be part of everyone's healthy daily routine. So for that reason this month I'm going to set myself a goal of meditating a minimun of 5-10 minutes a day in the hopes of setting up a regular meditation practice.

There are a lot of great resources out there to help you learn how to meditate: for example just search meditation on Google and you'll be surprised what you can find. I really enjoy using guided meditations to help me and I currently have the and the Omvana apps on my iPhone, which allow me to download and use a variety of meditations, sounds and music for free or a small price to aid me in my meditations. If you are new to meditation check out Headspace, which is a website and a free app that explains in plain language and with fun cartoons how to meditate and make it a regular practice with the help of a free 21-day intro program.

I'm going to experiment with adding mediation to my morning and eveing routine and see which works best for me. I'll keep you posted on my progress but for now just get started: sit quietly, close your eyes and focus on your breath while letting all other distractions drift away for just a couple minutes...and viola you've just meditated! Repeat tomorrow, and the day after and then the day after that until wow now you're a meditator: welcome to the club! Feels great doesn't it? Let me know how you've done with meditation and any resources, tips or tricks you've found helpful in the comments below. 

Happy meditating and as always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July Clean Eating 30-Day Health Challenge - Update

As my tradition was for my last 30-day challenge I would usually do a one week check-in at this point however I have some rather exciting news. Instead of the usual weekly check-in you're going to get a small check-in now as well as a mid-month check-in and a final monthly wrap up that I'll be guest posting onto another blog: Yippee!!

I'll be guest posting on the 'Shift Worker's Guide to Getting By'; due to the fact that I'm a shift worker and attempting to live a healthy life while doing so I'm going to be featured on this fantastic website. It's tough being a shift worker in general and even tougher to try to be a healthy shift worker. I'm looking forward to sharing my trails and tribulations of clean eating while working shifts on the Shift Worker's Guide. Look for that post midway through next week and to hold you over until then here's a quick rundown of how it's going so far.

So obviously I survived my first week of my July clean eating challenge and surprisingly it hasn't been as bad as I predicted. I did go through a bit of a detox (I'll spare you the gory details) and a caffeine withdrawal during the first 3-4 days in which I had a permanent headache but then as I emerged into day 5 I was feeling awesome and enthusiastic. I really think I can pull this off...what do you think?

I believe it seemed easier this time than previously times I've tried to eat clean because I already had a really good foundation going into this one from successfully completing the June green smoothie challenge. However, there were a couple of important points that were reinforced for me while doing this new challenge. The first being that planning and preparation are key, secondly the struggle is real when it comes to cravings and lastly that I can still eat the foods I love albeit in clean ways. Keep reading for some great online resources that I love and were super useful this week as well as a clean chocolate pudding recipe that helped me deal when a chocolate craving hit me hard on day 6.

Useful Online Resources:

Food Babe: a blog I've been reading for a while now and I think has a lot of great information and recipes for the label ignorant and nutrition uninformed. Food babe's way is a bit extreme; I've tried it before and I found it expensive, unrealistic and unsustainable, that is if you follow it to the letter. I think she has some great points and suggestions but you have to tailor it to your lifestyle and find what works for you. That's what I did!

Environment Working Group (EWG): When it comes to knowing which fruit and veg are worth buying organic check out the dirty dozen list and which ones you can get away with not buying organic check out the clean fifteen list.

Dawna Stone: her blog is all about the 'Healthy You Diet' and I'm currently following the free '14-Day Healthy You Challenge' on Facebook for access to great recipes and inspiration that's helping me through my clean eating journey.

Get Informed:

Another tidbit of advice for you: read labels, and read the back of packages and do your research because all companies (including the supposedly healthy/clean ones) are trying to pull the wool over your eyes and sell you the cheapest junk they can get away with. I've been interested in nutrition and the food industry for a long time and I've done for my own research for years and I've noticed many trends and changes as the general public has become more informed about what they're putting into their mouths. That is a subject for a separate post because there is a lot of information and I have some strong opinions concerning this area. In the meantime I'll say it again: read your labels and don't get tricked by the fancy language and packaging.

That's it for now, stay tuned for my guest post and for now I'll leave you with the recipe for my clean chocolate pudding and as always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Clean Chocolate Pudding with Avocado:

1/2 Avocado, ripe 
1/2 Banana, ripe 
1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter, the all-natural just peanuts kind
1/4 cup Almond Milk
1 tbsp Honey**

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender (I used a Magic Bullet: love it!) Add extra cocoa or sweetness depending on your preference. Makes about 2 servings and for an extra treat top with a dollop of coconut whip cream: yum! Eat, enjoy and feel your cravings subside. Success! :)

**As a side note, I know I'm not doing sugar, however when I say sugar I mean the refined white sugar, but I'm also avoiding other refined and processed sweetener options like maple syrup, agave syrup and even some stevia. For the purpose of my clean diet I'm sticking to honey and certain pure stevia if needed. More research is needed on coconut sap/nectar.**

Thursday, July 02, 2015

30-Day Health Challenge - July

IIt's officially July and that means it's time for a new 30-day health challenge. As I previously mentioned I'm going to continue with my green smoothie habit from June and build on it with this new health challenge. 

Now due to the fact that July has 31 days and the first of the month is a holiday in my country: Canada Day, I've decided to start this challenge today on the second day of July. So what is this new challenge I speak of; well it's a nutrition and diet related one again and this time it's going to be actually quiet challenging. 

For the month of July I'm going to stick to a clean eating program. What does this clean eating program look like you may ask. Well here is it all lined up for you and for me in black and white below. 

July 30-Day Clean Eating Challenge: 
- Alcohol Free
- Sugar Free
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
- Processed-Food Free

So yeah that's a lot of 'frees', so what can I eat:

- Meat: lean & minimal red meat*
- All fruits & vegetables*
- Grains: quinoa, brown & wild rice, buckwheat, other non-gluten grains. 
- Beans & lentils
- Nuts & Seeds

*hormone & antobotic free, etc meat and organic and local fruits and veggies as much as possible 

This means I'm going to start making most of meals for myself as well as many of the convenience health foods that I know and love. This includes making homemade almond milk, hummus, salad dressings and sauces to name a few. I look forward to expanding my kitchen repertoire. 

So yeah this is going to be a tough one and I'm totally prepared to go through a withdrawal/detox in the first few days at least. I've tried various diets like gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar free on their own before with varied success. This is the first time I will take on such a drastic diet change with all these changes all at once. 

I know I'm going to be ok though because I'm much better prepared this time especially after completing the June challenge. Another tough choice is that I'm going to start drinking tea again more so than coffee and I won't be able to have my daily piece of dark chocolate. I love coffee and chocolate so I think those will be the hardest parts for me. 

I can already feel the headaches and moodiness starting to hit as I start my first day of eating clean with a green smoothie with black tea for breakfast and a legume & sprout salad with green tea for lunch. However I can also start to feel the benefits of this healthy way of eating. 

I just have to remind myself that this is my health that I'm working towards, which is super important to me and I'm in this for the long haul. The short term pain will soon pass and I'm putting into place the framework for my overall health and wellbeing. 

In doing this challenge I'll also be continuing with my same exercise routine of lifting weights 3 times per week. I'm also going to ramp up my exercise with running and swimming 3-4 times per week on top of the weights. 

The reason I'm doing such drastic changes for July is because I'm working towards a physical exam that will really test my mental and physical fitness. More on that later...

What are some tricks that have helped you get through some truly gruelling life changes? It may be hard now but I know it'll only get easier and I'll be overall better off for doing it. Check back in a week to see if I'm still feeling the same enthusiasm towards this challenge. Until then here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge Complete!

Yippee! I did it: I've finished my first 30-day health challenge! The thing that strikes me now is how quickly it went by. I remember thinking 30 days ago that this was going to be a hard and long challenge, but now looking back; I realize it really wasn't all that bad.

What have I learned about myself and my health after doing this challenge?

I'm reminded that I'm capable of anything and that reminds me of a little piece of wisdom I was once given: "I truly believe you can accomplish anything when you make your mind up and set your sights on it." As said to me by a very wise teacher once upon a time. 

It's very true sentiment and l think I've forgotten this fundamental truth of my personality lately so it's very nice to be reminded. I know everyone has innate skills and abilities as well as limitations, however I believe the above statement can be true of all of us. 

What's that one thing that you can't stop thinking about in your quiet moments but that you've put on the back burner because 'life' has gotten in the way? Maybe it's time to revisit it and dust off those old dreams and ideas...I think so!

I've also realized that my quest for overall health and wellbeing is a lifelong commitment that will come about from the small and consistent planning and execution. I won't be perfect every single day but that's ok cause I'm not perfect, I'm human after all. 

This green smoothie and juice trend is something I think I'll be continuing with in my everyday life. I didn't set out on this journey in order to 'detox' or just do it for 30 days and then go back to unhealthy habits. No, the point of this health challenge was to test if the green smoothie thing was a feasible and useful health trend that I could add to my healthy living repertoire. 

The first 2 weeks were the hardest but once I was over that 2-3 week hump it was smooth sailing and I now feel like this has become an engrained and automatic part of my routine. I barely have to plan too much in advance anymore and I feel like I've worked out all the kinks in making them a regular park of my schedule. So yeah, I think this will definitely be something that I'll contine with, especially now that I've figured out some favourite recipes that I can continue to tweak and play with. 

I think the best thing that I can get out of completing this challenge is that I'm capable of so much more than I ever thought possible and it did really help to have the accountability of this blog and a social media community.

What's up next for my July 30-day challenge you may ask? Stay tuned and I'll be announcing that tomorrow: it's gonna be a big one! This is just the beginning of what will be many 30-day health challenges that'll help me create many lifelong healthy habits that I've struggled with for a longtime. I believe I've finally found a formula that works for me and I hope it can help you as well. 

Until next time as always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday #tbt - Amsterdam

As the title suggests I'm starting a new series about my uncommon adventures in which I do a throwback on Thursdays, as is the tradition on social media, to my October 2014 European adventure. My first stop in Europe was technically London, but I spent so little time there at the beginning of the trip and I circle back around and cap it off in London that I'll talk about it later. Therefore, for my first installment of #TBT on the blog I'll be talking about Amsterdam.

What is a trip to Holland without the customary windmill pic? I started off my Amsterdam visit with a tour of the countryside. I visited a stereotypical Dutch village, rode around on a bike, visited a dyke, met a cow, watched some cheese and clog making and then indulged in a Gouda cheese tasting. What a wonderful start to the trip! :)

Next up was the wondering around the city during the day and checking out all the city's highlights. This included taking a tram ride through the city, pictures with the 'I Amsterdam' sign and walking past many important landmarks. I spent most of the day checking out the Rijksmuseum, which was awesome and totally worth it. I walked past other tourist trap-type places, but I didn't waste time standing in the long lines, including Anne Frank's House and the Van Gogh museum. What I really enjoyed was wondering around the city and checking out the Flower Market.

Amsterdam was very cute and normal seeming during the daytime however the city transforms at night into something totally different. The evening was spent wondering around the city once again and checking out the red light district and spending time in a cafe pursuing the past-time that makes Amsterdam so famous.

What struck me so about Amsterdam is how wholly it transforms once night falls. My suspicion is that the majority of people who live and work in the city are not the ones that I witnessed roaming the streets of Amsterdam after dark. I have no problem with the legalities involved in making Amsterdam famous in several respects but what did disturb me is the circus-like atmosphere of the whole thing. I found it so strange that someone's chosen profession has become such a tourist attraction and a spectacle the world over, simply because it's different. 

Overall I felt like Amsterdam is one of those cities that does need to be experienced at least once in one's life however now that I've been there and done that and gotten the t-shirt I'm feeling over it. If I am to return to Holland it would be to see more of the countryside and to explore other Dutch cities, such as Rotterdam.

The start of my European Trip 2014 was definitely an uncommon adventure into the heart of Amsterdam. Have you ever been to Amsterdam, what were your thoughts on the city? Stay tuned for more stories of adventure and intrigue next Thursday. Until then here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)