Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Getting Healthier: Part II

It's working. This eating healthier bit. In fact, I feel incredible!

Now before I get into what I'm doing I have to be upfront about a couple of things:
1. I will continue to eat meat. Lean meat. Organic meat. But meat. And eggs. Brown eggs! Free-range chicken eggs. But eggs.
2. I will continue to eat dairy. Lots of non-fat Greek yogurt and natural cheeses and organic milk. But dairy.
3. Yes, the book recommended these things. And like my gut reaction, I reacted with YES! It makes sense to me. Moderation. Sensible moderation. To me (please note the "ME" part), this makes sense because I don't think completely cutting out one type of food or restricting one particular thing --if it is natural --makes sense. If you think I'm bonkers, that's fine. I don't think vegetarians or vegans are bonkers (I really don't), but I don't agree with the diet. I don't. I can't.
I had to say this upfront because I'm afraid people are already naturally assuming I'm going to eat a certain way (or make my children eat a certain way) and it's not true. But I don't want to hurt any feelings in the process or offend anyone, either. Like my friend m&m said, what works for one person may not work for another. This is true, too. If you are doing your best to be healthy, then I will respect it. I will. Of course, if all you eat is Doritos and diet coke, well, then...good luck with that.

Moving on!

This, in a nut shell, is what the book says to do (however, I highly recommend buying it, reading it, and choosing parts of it to do yourself, just because it's impossible to really know why the following is recommended without loads of details and the research. Which is fascinating! It really is. So, go get the book! Or borrow mine). This is just about food, however. She also talks a lot about the environment and ways to reduce or remove toxins around us, but for now I'm going to focus on the food and exercise. I'll talk about the other stuff in Part III:

*Hydrogenated fats
*Refined grains
*High-fructose corn syrup
*Artificial sweeteners (aspartame is evil, yo. Be careful of it because it really does a lot of damage to the brain and your metabolism).
*Artificial coloring and preservatives
*Glutamates (MSG is the most evil one. But I think we all know that by now!)

*Starchy veggies (to just 2 or less a day)
*Tropical, dried, and canned fruits
*Excess soy (something that, in the name of health, has become somewhat of an epidemic and is now found in almost everything)
*Excess alcohol (wine is best. Luckily for me, I don't even drink!)
*Full-fat dairy and fatty meats (although don't go for the fat-free-full-of-artificial-stuff kind, either)
*Canned foods (unless it's your only option)
*Caffeine (Lucky me, again! Except for an occasional chocolate, this one's easy)

Look for foods that came from the ground or had a mother!
*Legumes (best choice is Red beans)
*Alliums (best choice is garlic)
*Berries (straw, blue, marion, rasp, etc.)
*Meat and eggs (organic and lean ONLY --Pacific Wild Salmon is best, as is grass-fed beef/dairy)
*Colorful fruits and veggies (best choice is tomatoes)
*Cruciferous veggies (best choice is broccoli)
*Dark-green leafy veggies (best choice is spinach)
*Nuts and seeds (best choice is walnuts and almonds)
*Dairy (best choice is non-fat Greek yogurt)
*Whole Grains (best choice is oats and barley)

(Best choices don't mean to eat only those...there are, of course, lots of varieties and choices in each one!)

*Eat breakfast
*Exercise with food in your stomach (about 30-45 minutes after eating breakfast is best!)
*Eat every four hours
*Do NOT eat after 9PM
*No carbs at night (better to have proteins and fats --veggies and meats, etc.)
*Eat until you are full
*But not stuffed!
*Eat 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein
*Take a vitamin supplement (multivitamin, calcium, and fish oil are best)

*Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night
*Move your body every day (she recommends one hour, five days a week of tough, sweating, exhausting exercise with strength and circuit training)
*Be good to yourself by:

  • Detoxing your circle of friends (I'm lucky I don't have to do this one!)
  • Ask for help
  • Identify sources of stress and manage them
  • Meditate (I loved this one because prayer and scripture-study are already important to me)
  • Try other forms of exercise (like martial arts, yoga, etc.)
  • Get a weekly massage (man, I want to do this one! That would ROCK.)
  • Take your vacations (don't over-work yourself!)

I wish I could go completely organic off the bat. Financially, though, we can't do it right away. But I'm starting to get to that point. I'm now shopping more at places that carry organics (The Sunflower Farmer's Market is awesome! It's like the Trader Joe's of Utah) and I'm being very careful about the types of snacks I buy my kids. Here are some snacks I now have on hand for them:
*Kashi granola bars
*Annie's organic crackers
*Mozzarella cheese
*Carrots with or without hummus
*Organic yogurt
*Organic, whole-nine-grain bread (which is so good! Holy cow!) with organic honey
*Whole-wheat pita bread

I can't wait for the summer and farmer's markets and the loads of berries and citrus fruit I'm going to buy! For now I'm buying frozen berries, and they work well.

Some of the foods we've had this week:
*Chicken and rice soup (made with low-sodium organic chicken broth, brown rice, red potatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, chicken, oregano, and cilantro)
*Taco soup (beans, tomatoes, spices, garlic, onions)
*Lemon-herb shrimp and whole-wheat pasta
*Sandwiches or pitas with: veggies, pepper-jack and provolone cheese, avocado, and tomato-basil hummus
*Scrambled eggs with veggies
*My favorite breakfast: Organic non-fat Greek yogurt with craisins and whole walnuts. Yum!

What I'm going to do because of the organic expense:
*Grow my own garden. I'm actually going to do it this year! I've been researching ways to compost organically, and I'm also researching ways to begin a garden from scratch (I may go with the square-foot method). I'm going to start small, but I'm hoping to plant some tomatoes (a must), peppers, onions (salsa, baby!), zucchini (one plant), carrots, and hopefully some kind of lettuce. That way I'll KNOW it's organic, and it'll be cheaper (in the long run) and I'll be teaching my kids some cool responsibility. In fact, the girls are ecstatic about starting a garden! I just hope my fears don't get in the way. I'm really nervous.

The exercising is going well. I'm not up to an hour five-days-a-week, but I'll do that when the baby is older and I realistically can have more time (like when he's sleeping through the night).

I love all of this, dear reader. If it seems extreme to you, that's fine. You don't have to do it. I'm just sharing with you what I'm doing and why and whatever. I'm surprised at my resolve, but you know what? This way of eating is so much easier than counting calories or counting points (although I'm still a HUGE fan of Weight Watchers. They have a non-counting-points-plan called the Core Plan, and this stuff is similar to that). I actually think about what I'm going to eat, I carefully prepare it, and I enjoy knowing that my family is going to get the best types of food possible. No more putting poison and toxins into our mouths without knowing it anymore!

Knowledge is power, dear reader. It truly is.

P.S. Brent! Brandon is "mostly" on board. Meaning, he understands what I'm trying to do, he supports it, he'll eat whatever I prepare, but...well, you'll have to talk to him about it. :)


siobhan said...

i totally buy into this. i remember the turning point for me, when i was doing ww. sure, i lost weight, but cheese isn't MEANT to be fat-free! we were eating chemical-laden crap! i was thrilled when the core plan came out. eat what you need to, just eat the stuff that's good for you.

good for you. read "animal, vegetable, miracle" and any of michael pollan's books. we've come so far, yet we've set ourselves back. the egg thing amazes me... that there's such a huge difference between an organic and free-range egg and a cafo egg. animal cruelty stuff aside, look at the egg's composition. just fascinating.

so, good for you. anyone is ridiculous, who would give you a hard time for bettering your diet, your family, and your life.

Brandon, the Husband said...

Brent, our work cafeteria is very organic and very healthy... sample menu from today:

Express Lunch (choose two items)
• This will always include a variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches.
• Today’s featured soup….. Vegetarian Tomato Rice

Feature Entrée
• Cajun Bayou: Cajun Cod Filet Served with Cajun Mashed Potatoes, Hushpuppies, Creole Tomato Sauce and Fried Tortilla Frizzles

Vegetarian Entrée
• East Caroline BBQ Beef or Vegetarian House Cut Fries Topped with Roasted Corn Cilantro Relish, BBQ Beef Cheese Sauce and Assorted Toppings

Panini (served with choice of various sides)
• “Beef and Bleu” – Shaved Oven Roasted Beef with Bleu Cheese and Garlic Aioli
• Cranberry Smoked Turkey with Tomato, Cranberry Cream Cheese and Swiss

Tossed to Order Salad
• Spicy Noodle Salad Shaker: Yaki Soba Noodles, Red Peppers, Green Onions, Diced Cucumbers, Carrots in our house made Spicy Peanut Dressing

But, I'm certainly not as gung-ho on some of the other things. I like my aspertame. My Crystal Light and Caffeine-free Diet Coke are staples of my existence. And, I'm still losing weight, so I'm okay with it.

But, I have no problem eating In-N-Out when the craving arises. (Honey, don't look in the outside garbage can. I hid the evidence.)

Kimberly said...

I'm a believer too! We have been eating about 50/50 organic for a couple of years. It's a shame it is so expensive! Mostly I just buy organic meat and eggs, milk products (Winder Farms), and fresh fruits/veggies. I usually only buy apples, carrots, bananas. And then supplement with my garden (freeze/store as much as I can). My kids snack mostly on fruit, cheese, yogurt, whole grain bread/tortillas, and lots of popcorn. But we also have some splurges too!

If you look at the healthy guidelines for WW, its all there. Lean protein, dairy, fruits and veggies, heart healthy oils. They know eating all that fake junk won't get you anywhere, even though they promote it like crazy with their products!

Good luck! And keep us updated on your garden! Gardening is my biggest hobby.

Kimberly said...

I have to say, I agree with Brandon on the aspartame thing though.....I might die if I had to give up my diet pepsi ;)

Julie said...

Awesome! Thanks so much for posting a run down of the book. I've been doing my best to exercise, but now I need to work on my diet. I would love to eat cookies all day, exercise, and lose weight...but apparently that's never going to happen.

I've been following your weight loss posts. Thanks for posting! You are a great motivation!

Keep going Cheryl! You can do it!

Julie said...

Ha ha! Brandon, I love it.

Sign me up for the weekly massage. I'll put it under "health and medical" in the budget and call it a non-negotiable. ;)

This reminds me of Michael Pollan's line from his 2 latest books: eat food (meaning real food - something your great-great grandma would recognize), not much, mostly plants. Now, to take that advice and do soemthing with it....

Rebekah said...

Ok, I love that you are doing this. Thanks to my wonderful excercise science/nutrition major cousin (Laura), I've been trying to eat like this for a while. I'll do better when I get back to having my own kitchen, of course! But I swear it works!! I would buy EVERYTHING natural/organic if I could afford it. Oh, and once you cut your "remove" list out of your diet (especially hydrogenated oils) you'll NEVER want to go back!

Thanks for the post. This is one of those that I will be referring to often! :)

Never A True Aggie said...

I am with you!

Here are my tips from one conservative granola to another.

Costco. Yes. They have a lot more going on these days at good prices. I can get free range chicken in bulk (7 bucks for two whole chickens) and organic beef. Free range eggs. Organic milk. Whole grain bread without HFCS. They have these juices called "fruitfulls" that have no HFCS and are 100% veggie and fruit juice. I am not huge into juice, but if I get anything, I will get these. Oh, and they sell yogurt without HFCS. A good one is from Stonyfield farms. You can get the bulk package at a pretty good price. I also have been buying cheese blocks instead of shredded cheese. I tend to use less cheese this way.

I also find that store brand yogurt tends to be made with just sugar and not HFCS. If you need a soda fix, JONES soda is made with pure can sugar. I don't like the fruit flavors, but the rootbeer is awesome. I find one of those gives me my soda "fix" for a few days, instead of a diet coke everyday.

I try to make our snacks like cookies and treats. I make extra whole wheat pancakes on Saturday morning and freeze them before people start grabbing. Then I have some quick breakfasts during the week and a change from Cheerios.

We were going to do a farm co-op this year, but it is about $700 for the growing season and we didn't budget it well this year, so we will try next year. I am just going to do more farmer's markets and my own garden. Check out Square foot gardening. It has good tips for small workable gardens.

Bravo about no HFCS! I saw this thing at a medical conference about it and childhood obesity and diabetes and I am convinced it is the bain of today's diets.

Never A True Aggie said...

Oh, another juice I like if I do juice is V8 Fusion. It is 100% Fruit and Veggie juice and no HFCS. My kids like it and they can have only one glass a day. If you want ice cream, Breyers is usually made with natural ingredients. Oh, Costco also has huge bags of frozen organic veggies. I am still working on my mixed bag of corn, beans and carrots. I am sure they think their mom is a food nazi.

Emily & Co. said...

You hit on my passion...I LOVE Michael Pollan...I LOVE eating food that is recognizable as food and supporting local farms...we have a TINY garden and compost area (we're in So. Cal) but it's the principle we're practicing!...we're on a tight budget, so I pretty much make everything from scratch for really adds up quick when you don't! Good luck!

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm all for it except that I'd probably have to give up my eggo and nutella breakfast. I'm not sure I could do that. But it all sounds reasonable to me and I'm glad you're happy.

Kara said...


I love what you are doing. I wish I could get my family to eat like this. I have been losing just based on working out alone and not eating so many sweets and smaller portions. We are having enough problems just getting along in our house without me uprooting my husbands love of comfort foods.

Can I offer a word of advice without sounding like a know it all...when I studies genetics I learned a lot about eggs and egg production. I want you to know that I fully support everything you are doing!!! When you pick out eggs look for organic and nutritional content and don't pay any attention to shell color (the funny thing about it is that the color of the shell is based on the color of the chicken's ears, I know it sounds stupid but I gurantee it is eggs green ears, blue eggs blue ears ect...)

You are so amazing! You family is so adorable too. I loved Brandon's coment about in-and-out.

Again thanks for your friendship, it really means a lot to me!!

Bryan said...

I think it's great to try to eat better - we all should. But, why organic? From what I've seen and read, it seems like a waste of money to me (not all of it, but the majority of it).

Bryan said...

That last comment was me (Amanda D)...I didn't realize I was logged in under the husband. :)

Laura said...

I'm impressed! I wish produce and organic foods were less expensive! I love veggies, but all I ever eat are baby carrots, iceberg lettuce and canned green beans. Blah!

I've been trying to lose weight too and Camille recommended a website to me that helps you track your calories (that you eat and that you burn). It will tell you how many calories you can eat every day in order to lose 1, 1.5, 2 (or more) pounds ... based on your weight, height and activity level. I went from 170lbs in September to 150lbs by December. I'm not perfect at it, but it helps keep how much I eat in check. I have another 12 pounds to go (I wasn't very good at eating right in January and February... but my head is back in the game now and I lost 4 pounds last week and this week is looking good too.) I'm at 149 right now and feeling really good. It's all about portion control (which I have never been good at... so it is helping me a ton!)

Anyway, it might be worth looking at. You can create a free account. The website was created by Lance Armstrong. It is called ... if you have any questions on how it works, let me know.