Clean Eating Program Update

Hello! How are you all? I’m doing pretty well. Feeling pretty good. The laundry is almost all caught up from this weekend, now the house just needs to be cleaned a bit and we will be back in working order.

Clean Program Update

I wanted to give you an update on the Clean Eating Program I have been following for the last couple of weeks. For those of you who may have missed it, you can check out the clean program I am following by reading this post: Clean Eating Program.

If you will recall, the program offered the option of following the cleanse for 1-3 weeks. Along with the variation in length of time there was also an option of following the real cleanse which is smoothie/shake in the morning, solid meal for lunch, and a smoothie/shake for dinner OR you can simply follow along with the foods from the Elimination Diet OR you can try to do a combination of the two variables. The elimination diet removes dairy, eggs, wheat, caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, red meat, strawberries, corn, and certain other foods that individuals tend to be sensitive to.

How I Followed the Clean Program

For the first 5 days I was following the cleanse to a T; a smoothie in the morning, a solid meal for lunch, a smooth blended soup for dinner. I would stop eating in the evening so that to allow my body 12 hours to digest and detoxify before my next meal in the morning. I was snacking in between meals only if I truly was hungry and would generally grab for raw fruits or vegetables if I did need something.

clean smoothie

Well, after day 5, I was starting to get real tired of all of this. I would dread eating smooth soup in the evening not only because it bores me having the same thing night after night but also because it was 90 something degrees outside and hot soup is just not appealing when it’s that hot. I’m not a fan of cold soup either. At this point I decided in order to save my sanity, I was going to continue the Clean Program, but would allow myself more solid meals from the elimination diet if I wanted to. This has been working out very well for me for the most part. Often I will still have a smoothie in the morning, a solid meal at lunch and a solid meal at dinner. I am trying to be careful with the snacking but have been finding myself grabbing for the jar of mixed nuts time after time. I believe it’s because my body was/is missing the extra protein.

It worked out really well to follow the modified version of the program while we were camping. There was no way I was going to be drinking 2 smooth meals while we were away. It could have been done, but it wouldn’t have been easy, or enjoyable. With a crazy amount of food preparation, I was able to make enough meals and snacks for us so that we could continue to follow the elimination diet while we were away.

spaghetti squash and meatballs

We went out to eat a couple of times and were able to mostly stick to the plan too. At the first restaurant we ordered a bison burger with a side salad. I just had to take the bun and the tomatoes off. The second restaurant I ordered whitefish with a side salad. I didn’t follow the plan exactly because I had their maple mustard on my salad. I couldn’t say no to that dressing when I was there, I mean come on. Again, I picked off the tomatoes, and the cheese and the strawberries, and enjoyed the rest of the meal completely.

angry trout fish dinner

Oh, and I enjoyed a couple of glasses of red wine too. That’s not in the plan. But for the most part, I did a pretty good job of sticking to the program.

How my body is responding

The intention of the cleanse is to remove excess mucus from the body and help to remove toxins as well. Our bodies are constantly working to remove toxins from the body but this just helps give the body a little nudge.

I can’t sit here and say wow, I feel incredible after doing that, but I can truly say I feel better. Quite a bit better in fact. I can’t really explain how I feel except for I do feel more “clean.” I will be anxious to follow-up with my naturopath and to find out how balanced my body is now compared to my last visit with her. I surely hope it has improved since last time! Otherwise I may be a little disappointed.

What I miss

Knowing that this cleanse was only temporary helped me when thinking of the foods I would need to remove from my diet. However, I am only human and I am really missing some of my favorite things: bananas, peanut butter, fresh summer corn, strawberries and tomatoes. Those are probably the main foods I am missing. Chocolate is another one but I have been able to make my own sugar-free version using raw organic cacao powder, coconut oil, almond butter, and stevia. I will be writing a post on this one soon! This has helped me a lot.

What’s Next

Three weeks is the maximum amount of time that one can continue on this cleanse (especially if following the option 1 plan with the two blended meals and one solid meal). After that time, it is recommended that you slowly wean yourself off of the cleanse and slowly reintroduce some of the foods you have eliminated. This is a perfect time to test specific foods for intolerances. It’s kind of like introducing new foods to infants: when you introduce a new food, you will want to wait a few days before introducing another new food to watch for any adverse reactions. Now that it has been two weeks, I am slowly reintroducing some foods. The first was raisins; my body tolerated them well. The next was wine, again my body seemed okay with it (my wine consumption is probably once every 2-3 weeks btw). Today, I will be reintroducing bananas which I am very excited about. I will continue reintroducing the foods back into my diet and watching for any adverse reactions until I am completely back to my normal diet.

I will most likely continue having smoothies for many of my breakfasts because it’s summer and a cold smoothie in the morning is pretty fantastic, but I am excited to be able to include more fruits like strawberries and bananas which were not allowed on the elimination diet.

My meals will become more exciting again! Wooo!! This means new recipes and fun food photos.

flounder and salad

I am very glad I completed this cleanse. Although I modified it slightly to fit my lifestyle and the events of summer, I do feel proud to say I followed it closely enough to feel the effects. I would highly recommend this Clean Program to anyone who is feeling they need a little detoxifying. Talk with your doctor first though, please!

Feel free to ask me questions about the program. I’m not expert but I did read the whole book and have been researching quite a bit about it the computer.

I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday!

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Weekend Scenes: St. Anthony Falls, Maca, and Fresh Greens

Happy July! It’s going to take a little while for me to actually believe it’s July but I’ll get there eventually. Once again, the month of June went by in a flash.

Anyway, how was everyone’s weekend? Mine was downright fabulous. It involved a lot  of rest and relaxation. This post jumps around a bit so get ready…

Over the weekend I decided that I will not be following out Option 1 of the Clean Program, but I will be following Option 2 and throwing Option 1 in sometimes. So what the heck does that mean anyway? It means that instead of breakfast and dinner being a smoothie/shake/soup, and lunch being a solid meal, I will now have the option of having solid meals at all three meals just as long as they fit into the foods allowed on the Elimination Diet.

However, for a while I plan on continuing having a smoothie in the morning (that’s easy in the summer), but for the rest of the day, I don’t want to be tied down to the idea of having to have a pureed dinner. This doesn’t mean that I won’t throw one in there time and again to give my digestion an extra little rest, because I will, just not every day.

This fits better with my lifestyle and given that we will be going camping soon, I feel much more comfortable following the elimination diet and Option 2 while we are away versus the two blended meals; that would be extremely difficult. So, I’m still giving my body the detox, just in a more realistic way for me. That’s my plan.


This weekend I threw together my favorite salmon recipe minus the butter that usually goes with the almonds and capers. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really miss the butter!

grilled salmon

This lunch held me over for a loooong time which was a good thing because Dana and I headed to Minneapolis to go for a little walk around the St. Anthony Main area. If ya’ll come to Minnesota you should really put this area on your must-see list. It is incredibly beautiful, and so full of life and fitness. I imagined what it would be like to live over there and have these great paths at my leisure to run/walk/bike and I got a little jealous of some of my friends who lived over there (ONW) :wink:. It would be so motivating to look out the window and see handfuls of people out being active. It would make me want to go lace up the sneaks and get out there too!

I do truly love where I live too. It’s just different! More suburban-y.

I joked that Moose wasn’t a “city” dog because he was sniffing every other inch of the ground while the other dogs walked along very nicely like they’d been there, sniffed that, a dozen times already.

I enjoyed every second of St. Anthony Falls…

dana melanie

Afterwards we drove over to Lake Nokomis to have a picnic. I made a simple lentil dish with onions, garlic, mushrooms, kale, carrots, cumin, turmeric, oregano, salt and pepper. K, it doesn’t sound that simple after typing all of that out, but really, it was simple to make! I crunched up some cashews on top. Delish!

lentil picnic


Moose was really enjoying himself while we picnicked–there were lots of young pup chicks to scope out. He was extremely exhausted at this point too.



We learned that he doesn’t enjoy celery…


He really doesn’t like many vegetables we offer (not that we give him people food too often because we really don’t), and that’s probably because of the funny texture. He’s used to his dog food. Mmmm :wink:.


My newest breakfast smoothie includes a new-to-me ingredient called Maca powder. “Maca is an herbaceous plant native to the high Andean Mountains of Bolivia and Peru.” source

Navitas Naturals Maca Powder

“The maca root was prized throughout the Incan empire for its adaptogenic-like qualities that enable it to nourish and balance the body’s delicate endocrine system, and to help cope with stress. It also energizes naturally, and can aid in helping to balance hormones.” Source

“In the mountainous regions where maca comes from, it is a regular staple in the diet and is often eaten boiled and sliced, similar to potato chips. Other preparations include use as a gruel with milk, and cooked with potatoes, apples, oats, quinoa or fava beans. The roots are also toasted and ground to prepare a maca coffee-like beverage, and fermented cooked and mashed to make a mild homemade beer. Some Peruvians prefer the boiled roots with water, milk, honey and cinnamon. Today, it is possible to find a wide range of products infused with maca, including whiskey, wine, ice cream and cosmetics.

Maca Powder has a pungent and sweet nutty taste with hints of butterscotch flavor. It can be mixed easily into smoothies, shakes and juices for a flavorful and healthy boost, and it can also be added to desserts and baked goods.” Source

I am all about any natural ways I can try to regulate the hormonal system and I’m really enjoying this Maca!

Unfortunately with the Elimination Diet I cannot have bananas because this would be a great addition to a banana smoothie, but since I can’t, I’ve had to come up with other ways to include it in smoothies. Here is my latest concoction:

Superfood Smoothie

  • kale
  • frozen blueberries
  • almond milk
  • maca powder
  • 100% raw cacao powder
  • cinnamon
  •  a touch of stevia to taste


I am having so much fun learning about these different superfoods and natural remedies! Come on body, let’s start to normalize!


On Sunday we headed to a local Farmer’s Market to stock up on fresh herbs that I will be using this week to prepare our camping meals! We are going to be eating like royalty while we camp. I am going to try to include some recipes for you all when I am away. They are all “clean” but anyone can enjoy them!

We bought dill, parsley, cilantro, zucchini, green onion, and asparagus; all Minnesota grown. MMm mmm. So fresh!

farmers market farmers market

I used the asparagus to make an asparagus leek soup for Dana and myself last night (yes, we ate hot soup on an 80 degree day which is why I’m changing my Clean Plan like I told you earlier).

I don’t have the recipe for ya because it isn’t my most favorite soup ever, but the ingredients were: asparagus, leeks, kale, cashews, water, thyme, bay leaves salt, pepper, and coconut milk.

asparagus leek soup


The flavor was actually really good but I just made it too thin.

We took Moose to the dog park and did some yard work and then relaxed for the evening. It was a wonderful weekend. The weather was perfect which made me oh so happy!

I have exciting and fun news to share with you all this week (hopefully tomorrow) about a fitness opportunity to all you local gals! Keep your eyes peeled for it. 😉

How was YOUR weekend?!

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Yoga For Healing

In my efforts to chill out from intense workouts as prescribed by the doc, I have taken to a lot of walking; every day I walk for at least 30 minutes either outside with Moose, by myself, with Dana, friends, or on the treadmill. As much as I love to walk, I am in need of more, so I turned to my old friend, the yoga mat. We have an inconsistent relationship with one other but I really do miss her.

ellie review

My friend Kalley actually inspired me to pick it up again when she mentioned that she does relaxing yoga before she goes to bed. I thought that sounded really nice so the next night I pulled out the yoga mat and did just a short five minutes of some relaxing yoga poses. I immediately felt relaxed and fully ready for bed (which was my intention). I slept soundly that night. Last night, I did it again, but this time with a full 30 minutes of relaxed yoga (there’s actually a Yoga on Demand that I followed called Relaxing Yoga). Afterwards I felt cool, calm, and collected and I was really diggin’ this feeling. I slept amazing last night and woke up with no back pain. Now I can’t guarantee 100% that this was all from the yoga, but I do think it helped! I would really like to increase my yoga’ing again.

Now, I tend to have a pattern when it comes to yoga. I will do it for a short while, absolutely love the way I feel, but then completely forget about it. Maybe because I sign up for a road race and then my focus turns to running? I’m not sure. But since I will be cooling it for a while with the intensity, I would really like to make this part of my routine again.

I am officially bringing yoga back into my life. 

I’m debating whether or not to continue doing it in my living room using videos I find on Xfinity on Demand on TV, using Apple TV to follow yoga sessions I find online like on YouTube and such, or joining a yoga studio. The only way I would join a studio is if the classes offered fit my schedule, if it was in a convenient location so I would actually go, and if it wasn’t super spendy. I keep checking out Groupon and LivingSocial and other coupon sites, but haven’t found any yet. Any locals know of any deals happening right now? 

Either way I’m going to get my yoga on; for healing and for health.

I really wish I could be yoga’ing here…

yoga 2


Isn’t it serene?! Beautiful.


yoga 1

Namaste my friends. Happy weekend to you all!

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Clean Eating Program

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have gotten a glimpse of the book I’m reading and what’s going on in my world right now.

I was on the search for another way to help heal my body, and landed on this book called “Clean” in a google search.

CLEAN: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself.  Obviously this caught my attention. I ordered it right away and read through it within a couple of days of arrival.

Clean by Alejandro Junger

From the back of the book: “Clean is a 21-day M.D.’s clean program designed to be easily incorporated into our busy schedule while providing all the practical tools necessary to support and rejuvenate our bodies. The effect is transformative: nagging health problems will suddenly disappear, extra weight will drop away, and for the first time in our lives, we will experience what it truly means to feel healthy.” source

Sounds pretty good so far, right? Too good to be true? Maybe.

About the author: “Alejandro Junger, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology, having trained and now practicing in New York City. In addition, after completing his medical training, Junger studied Eastern medicine in India. He was the medical director of WE Care Holistic Health Center in Palm Springs, a world-famous center for fasting, cleansing, and detoxification.” source

So how do you follow the Clean Program? There’s a few different approaches to this clean eating program (written by the author Dr. Alejandro Junger for GOOP): source

Option 1:The Clean 21-Day Cleanse

A 21-day detox program for achieving vibrant health and restoring the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. Specifically designed for the person on the move who wants to remain active and cleanse.

This cleanse consists of a shake/smoothie for breakfast, lunch from a set list of approved foods (called the Elimination Diet) and a shake/soup for dinner. Some of the foods not allowed on the Elimination Diet are wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, citrus fruits, caffeine (highly stimulating, highly acidic, and/or highly allergenic foods). Throughout the day you take your recommended supplements and healthy snacks are permitted if necessary.

The cleanse focuses on changing habits and resetting the digestive track so foods that you find yourself craving begin to have very little appeal to you. The cleanse isn’t hard, but it does take focus.” Focus is brought to determining your true hunger cues and managing them accordingly.

“The most frequently reported benefits are mental clarity, improved energy, improved digestion, weight loss, balanced moods, and long-term dietary changes.”

Option 2: Clean 21-Day Elimination Diet

“A 21-day dietary program based on removing foods from our diet that are known to cause food allergies, food sensitivities, and disruptions in the digestive process (wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc). This diet helps your system reset and cleanse in a very gentle way.

For 21 days you eat three square meals a day exclusively from the Elimination Diet. The approved foods will encourage light detoxification. Avoiding the non-approved foods will encourage many things such as improved digestion, improved beneficial bacteria levels, and light weight loss.

This option is perfect for someone who is looking for a stepping stone on their path to optimal health, but might not be ready for a full-blown cleanse.”

Option 3: Clean Mini 3-Day Cleanse

“A 3-Day mini-cleanse designed to give your digestive system a rest and boost your energy levels.

One liquid meal for breakfast and two solid meals from the recipes provided below for lunch and dinner. No supplements are needed for this mini-cleanse.

This mini-cleanse is best for those who only need a slight reset. It’s also used as a maintenance program for those that have first gone through Plan A or Plan B.”

Reasons for Excluding Certain Foods

“CLEAN excludes certain foods from the 21-day program for several reasons. Some of the reasons include these foods may trigger sensitivities and/or allergic reactions, they contain toxic chemicals, they may have an acidifying affect on the body, they are mucus-forming, they are pro-inflammatory or some foods are simply difficult to digest.”  source

**The book emphasizes the importance of giving your body 12 hours throughout the night time to digest and detoxify. So, if I were to eat dinner at 7 pm, I wouldn’t be able to eat anything until at least 7 am the next morning.**

To read more about the Clean Program, check out their website:

(Sorry for the lengthiness and all of the quotations btw).

So, did I decide to go through with it?


I feel that my body could use a clean retreat, including getting rid of excess mucus which inhibits my body from functioning properly. I have chosen option 1 for now, where I eat a smoothie or shake for breakfast, a solid meal for lunch from items determined on the Elimination diet list, and a blended soup for dinner. I figure giving my health history, my colon could use a bit of a rest from all of the harsh digestion.

Some people may call this a cleanse, and I suppose I would to, but it’s not to be looked at as a standard cleanse where you think of only liquid meals, limited calories and colon flushes. I don’t believe in those types of cleanses and think they can do more harm than good. This is a 3-week period of feeding your body only nutrient-rich foods and ones that it can most easily digest with limited chances of allergies. It’s about rebuilding the intestinal flora in your gut so that nutrients can be absorbed more easily and readily. It’s about slowly getting rid of toxins from your body. It’s about feeling your absolute healthiest self.

It takes a bit of planning, food preparation, motivation, and dedication, but all-in-all, I don’t find it difficult to eat only clean foods especially when I’m home during the week. Social outings will be a different story, but I will do my best. If I get off track for one meal, I will get right back on track for the next one.

I have gone into this program with the mentality that if I can stick out option 1 for a while that would be great, but if I feel the need to switch to option 2 which is the three solid meals of food from the Elimination Diet, then so be it. I’ll make the switch or do a mixture of 1 and 2. I know I am still feeding my body only nutrient-rich foods either way and doing a great thing for my body. Also, I haven’t decided if I will stick it out for 1,2, or 3 weeks. I’m going to see how I feel week by week.

Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been eating…

Greek style quinoa salad with zucchini, green olives, dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano (so good!), roasted broccoli, and tilapia. I have since found out that tilapia is on the do not eat list. Whoops!

Clean lunch

Homemade butternut squash soup: Butternut squash, onion, celery, garlic, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, chickpeas, and water, topped with sunflower seeds and cilantro. Pretty darn good.

clean dinner butternut squash soup

The breakfast smoothies have been different everyday. Fruits, veggies, some type of protein (Spirulina, chia seed, almond butter, hemp protein, etc.), homemade almond milk.

clean smoothie

Leftover quinoa salad with chickpeas added in for some protein.

clean lunch quinoa broccoli

Green veggie soup! I wish I would have written this one down because it is absolutely outstanding! The ingredients are: broccoli, onion, garlic, zucchini, green beans, almonds, chicken broth (homemade), water, thyme, salt, and pepper. This stuff rocked my socks!

clean program soup

Snacks have been raw carrots, snap peas, blueberries, apples or a bite of almond butter.

Clearly, I am not eating tasteless food on this Clean program. Everything tastes fantastic. I am eating healthy abundant amounts of fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, lean protein, and drinking plenty of water. Green tea is permitted too so I have been enjoying one cup in the morning in place of my coffee.

Today is my third day on the program. Already, my digestive system seems to have calmed down. I felt a little bit irritable during the first couple of days, but right now I am feeling very calm. Irritability is a common complaint in the beginning because our bodies are working so hard to clean up excess toxins build up over time. Our bodies are constantly trying to find a state of balance and get rid of toxins but they have a hard time keeping up with this process when we are continually feeding it toxic foods and beverages. That’s why this extra push may be what some of us need to “clean up our act.”

I am feeling really feeling great with the 12-hour nighttime “fast.” I never go to bed uncomfortable from eating too close to bedtime, and in the morning I have no rumbling colon or bloated feelings. Such a simple solution!

This program isn’t for everyone. Before beginning this program PLEASE consult with your doctor.

So there you have it. That is what’s going on in my life right now.This is just another road I am taking in my journey towards wellness. It’s been a long trip, but I will get there eventually!

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A Symbol of Hope & Weekend Recap

Thank you all for your sweet comments on my last couple of posts. I have been feeling very sentimental lately (more so than usual) and it is so nice to have this blog as an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings. You are all so supportive and it makes the journey so much easier knowing how loved and supported I am. I know I am on the right track.

I have been noticing this cardinal friend of mine hanging out in our backyard quite often. There’s something about cardinals and blue jays that just makes me so happy. They are absolutely beautiful. Plus, the lilac bush to the left of him is in full bloom and is so fragrant and gorgeous! No wonder he likes our backyard.


According to this source“The male cardinal reminds us passion, warmth and vibrancy is available to us – even in under the cloak of winter’s grey clouds.”

A list of symbolic cardinal meanings:

  • Hope
  • Love
  • Cheer
  • Pride
  • Focus
  • Energy
  • Renewal

“Those who attract the cardinal as their totem are naturally energetic, love life, and happily help others where/when they can.

Pretty incredible, right? I’ll take that handsome guy as a positive sign.

This weekend was pretty darn fantastic, albeit it flew by way too fast as they always do.

Lately I have been eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day. I find that this helps my digestive system to feel better because I’m not loading food in all it once and making it overwork sporadically. Eating small meals helps to keep my energy level up too. This works for some people, doesn’t work for others.

I snapped a few food photos throughout the weekend of some of my mini meals. This one couldn’t have been more simple: raw zucchini, red bell peppers, carrots, and quinoa with coconut aminos.

veggies quinoa

On Friday night, Dana and I had dinner at Whole Foods salad bar. I filled up on tons of veggies, quinoa, chicken, lentils and salads. It was a box full of love if you ask me.

whole foods

On Saturday, we ran in the Fill Their Plate 10k run. The proceeds go to fight childhood hunger and I was so excited to be participating in a race that had such an incredible cause.

dana melanie pre 10k

I know I said in Friday’s post that I need to cool it on the intense exercise (no Insanity, and no longer runs), but since I had already registered for this race I had told myself that I was still going to run it, but then after that I would chill out for a while and stick to shorter runs, walks, yoga, swimming, or leisure bike rides.

We are actually getting summer weather here in MN after waiting way too long for it, so our run was actually super sticky and humid, more so than we are used to coming off of our long “Sprinter” (spring/winter). This made the run pretty challenging for us. However, I think I actually may have hit my time goal (an hour or less) that I was hoping for, but definitely not stressing out over. When we ran across the finish line, the timer said 58 minutes and change, but I know we didn’t start right away when the clock started. I’m still waiting for the website to post results, but when they do I will let you know if I reached the time goal!

I was a hot and sweaty and sticky mess after the race. When we got home I made us a pot of coffee and we had a super chill afternoon watching Fools Rush In (first time watching this movie and I really liked it) and sipping on our coffee.


On Saturday evening we celebrated Father’s Day with Dana’s parents. The weather was MN weird…on the drive over it was raining and storming, but then it cleared up and was a perfectly sunny evening. We spent a lot of time sitting outside on the deck soaking up the sun.

We had delicious steak and shrimp kabobs for dinner with a big veggie salad…

kabob dinner

And I DID have ice cream cake for dessert. I figure it was just one day. Every other day I am refined white sugar free. I am going to continue to enjoy these moments as they come because such is life and I want to enjoy life (just as long as these moments don’t turn into every day occurrences, then I would have to choose my days wisely). 😉

We are celebrating Father’s Day with my family next weekend. I’m hoping to dig out  some throw back dad and daughter photos to share with you then 🙂

Sunday was the usual: coffee, breakfast, and newspaper. I made myself a bowl-o-banana with almond butter, cinnamon and raw organic honey.

banana almond butter

One of my afternoon mini meals: an apple with tuna salad. In the tuna salad: white albacore tuna packed in water and drained, celery, dill pickle relish, mustard, and black pepper.

apple with tuna


Although this made for a pretty photo, this wasn’t the easiest way to eat the tuna salad. Next time I will slice the apple and serve the tuna alongside the apple so I can just scoop each individual slice. You live you learn.

We enjoyed the company of two of our best friends in the afternoon. I hope we can make an ATL trip happen in the next couple of months!

Dinner was a household fav: grilled salmon.

salmon grilled onion

Dessert: pineapple whip made with frozen pineapple, a little bit of frozen banana, almond milk, and a touch of honey.

pineapple whip

We had such a relaxing weekend which was just what the doctor had ordered.

What was the best part(s) of your weekend?!

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My Journey Towards Healing & What I Have Learned

Where to begin? I feel like this post is going to take a lot of energy to write but I feel the need to share what’s been going on in my life and in my mind and the reason my blog posts may have changed recently. There’s been a lot going on in my life…

This past year and a half has tested my patience more than I ever could have imagined. I’m still on what has become a very long journey towards balancing my body including figuring out some hormonal imbalances in my body, dealing with food sensitivities and dealing with ulcerative colitis/crohns. Not only that, my back had fallen out of whack and I had to start seeing a chiropractor. I felt like there was a black cloud hanging over my head and nothing seemed to be going right no matter how hard I tried to do the right thing. As much as I tried to stay strong and positive and know that everything will work itself out eventually, I couldn’t help but throw myself quite a few pity parties along the way.

Instead of waiting for my body to respond on its own, I knew I needed to enlist the help of specialists. I have gotten to know many medical doctors within the past year and a half: my gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, obgyn, chiropractor, and now my naturopath. Together, we have worked to find the best options for me and my lifestyle and the right medications to help my body heal and repair.

Going in to this back in April/May 2012, I really felt that I could kick this thing within a few months. I knew the importance of a positive attitude and I was going to use that to my advantage as much as I could. Along with the positivity, I began experimenting with my diet. I first tried a low-fiber diet, I then tried the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, then a modified SCD/Paleo, then gluten-free, and today I continue to clean up my diet as much as possible. I had tossed around the idea of doing an elimination diet to determine exactly which foods were aggravating my system, but the thought of having to cut out so many foods and be so strict about it gave me slight anxiety.

How can I fast-forward this story for you? After much experimenting, and a very slow healing process, my colitis/crohns symptoms are finally subsiding. I know I am still in the healing process but I am well on my way towards good gut health again. This is incredible news, and writing this now makes me realize how long of a journey it’s been and how much my faith and patience have been tested. I have grown so much as a person over this past year and a half. I really had to sit down and evaluate my lifestyle. What were my stressors? What can I do to reduce stress in my life? What else can I do for my body to move it towards healthy balance? What’s next?

When I began seeing my chiropractor, I knew that things were going to start turning around for me. I finally felt like a medical professional truly and genuinely cared for me and my total health and was going to do whatever it takes to get me there. He is a true believer in whole food living and together we worked on balancing my body through diet, and spinal alignment. He mentioned to me that they have naturopath who works with them and that I might find it really interesting to meet with her. I had seen a naturopath when I was quite a bit younger and remember being tested for food sensitivities through resistance exercises. This is where I learned that I was slightly intolerant to dairy and gluten.

I was willing to try almost anything to continue my healing process. Although my gut was beginning to heal, I was and still am dealing with extreme hormonal imbalances and I needed to do something more to help my body.

The clinic happened to have an event happening which included half off for naturopath visits. I figured, what’s there to lose? I made an appointment with the naturopath.

A naturopathic doctor “combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.” Source

The naturopath used electro-dermal screening to read stressors in my body. This screening can detect chemicals and toxins within my body, it can read how my body reacts to different foods, and it measures which components of my body are stressed, balanced, or weakened. We have now met twice and I have learned a whole lot more about my body. Here is what I have learned about myself…

  • My body absolutely adores cod liver oil.
  • My body hates white refined sugar.
  • My body tolerates my medications.
  • My body has a high level of chemicals and toxins, one notably aflatoxin which is found in peanut butter.
  • After testing specific foods I know that for right now while my body is still in major phases of healing, I need to stay away from: corn, yogurt, peanut butter, avocado, sugar, wheat, gliadin, and all-purpose gluten-free flour. Those were the foods I had brought in from home to be tested with. There are probably others that my body cannot tolerate right now.
  • Foods my body CAN tolerate right now based off of the foods I brought in to test: bananas, hummus, sweet potato, brown rice, blue corn, buckwheat, quinoa, oats.
  • My body was extraordinarily stressed the second time I went in for my follow-up visit which totally shocked me. After discussing the past month and a half with the naturopath, we discovered that the reason my body was so stressed was because of the intensity of my workouts lately…aka Insanity. My body is fighting so hard to heal the systems that are out of balance (endocrine system and GI system), but struggles with what to do when I throw stressed muscles into the mix that need repair too. I need to SLOW DOWN. She prescribed me rest. I need to give my poor body a chance to heal without the interruption of intense muscle repair. This doesn’t mean that I can’t pick it up in the future once I am healed and balanced, but for now, I must give it rest. This means no Insanity, and minimal runs. I can walk to my heart’s content and do light activity like yoga and leisure bike rides, but nothing intense for now. This was not easy for me to hear but it makes total and absolute sense, and I know that if I want to get well, I need to make some changes to my lifestyle temporarily.

I will find balance. I will continue to detoxify my body. I will slow down my workout intensity. I will not stress about trying to be in “perfect shape” for summer. I am doing this for me and my body will thank me.

I have learned so much about my body this past year. I have learned which foods I can tolerate, which foods cause my body stress. I have learned that I hate medications but will take them as long as I need to, but one day I hope to live med-free and rely solely on herbal supplements and a healthy diet. I have learned that our bodies don’t respond overnight and that it can take a long time to heal. I have learned that I need to scale back on intense physical activity for a little while, because my body needs that energy to repair my wounds, versus repairing stressed muscles.

I haven’t walked this journey alone. My friends and family have been my rocks through this all: going with me to my appointments, supporting my endeavors, praying for my health and wellness, and helping me to stay positive through all of this. There have been many tears, but I know there is a reason that all of this is happening. I hope that as I continue to learn more about my body and my conditions, that I can in turn help others reach towards total wellness within themselves.

I’m a little nervous to post this because I feel like this is such an unorganized portrayal of what is going on in my head and in my heart, but it’s real, and it’s me, and as hard as it is to be vulnerable, it’s harder to keep it all in. I thank you all for being so supportive of me through my journey.

Stay healthy, find balance, and do what’s best for you. Take care of your body and be kind to your body. It will thank you!

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Gluten-Free Expo Goodies

On Sunday evening (sorry still catching up from the weekend), Dana and I went to a gluten-free mini expo at a restaurant called Ernie’s. Dana had read it in an email and mentioned it to me, and I thought it would be something fun to do on a Sunday evening. We made “reservations” for 5:30 and headed on over to Ernie’s.

We were greeted by one of the managers of the restaurant who was exuberant about his restaurant—I mean this in a very good way. He was thrilled first of all that we were there, and then continued to explain to us all of the gluten-free menu items available at Ernie’s. He sent us home with a menu and then encouraged us to gander over to the free sample area.

I was hoping that the actual vendors would be present and representing their brands, but it was the Ernie’s staff behind the counters instead. They were all very sweet and were versed in some of the product information, but they couldn’t answer all of my questions or really go in-depth about the products. Still, I was very happy with the Ernie’s team. They did a great job.

We began with GF cornbread and pancakes. Both were made from Bob’s Red Mill mixes. They had used the mix to make up three different flavors of cornbread: plain, chili, and jalapeño cheddar. I snagged a chili one.

Gluten free expo

The cornbread probably would have been really good if it was warm, but I ate it cold. It tasted okay, but nothing to write home about. The pancakes however were fresh off the griddle. The enthusiastic pancake flipper encouraged me to take as many as I wanted. She said she uses this mix at home and LOVES it. I like it when they can relate and tell me how they use the product. I really liked those pancakes and would maybe even buy the mix to have on hand at home.

On this plate: Bob’s Red Mill pancakes, cornbread, Lundberg Rice Chips, EnerG crackers with salmon dip, and Oikos Greek yogurt.


Gluten free expo


Mary’s Gone Crackers was also there and I was able to take home three different flavors of their crackers: black pepper, sea salt, and onion. So far I have only tried the black pepper and they are good…and spiiicccaaay (that one for you, ONW). I can handle a little heat. 😉 Mary’s also makes cookies, and I was sent home with a handful of those too.

Gluten free expo

The Celiac Foundation of Minnesota was there too and I actually knew the wonderful lady volunteering to represent the company! It was nice to catch up with her and she sent me home with a box mix for focaccia bread! Num!


Next stop was the GF beer lady. I was extremely anxious to try this stuff. I am not a huge beer drinker and the reason for that is I get bloated and feel terrible every time I drink it. Since I usually go for the red wine anyway, this isn’t a big loss for me, but there are time when drinking a beer is way easier than drinking a glass of wine.

They had a couple of different beers they were sampling; one was said to be very hoppy, and the other one was very light. I don’t do hoppy beer, so I tried the light one. The brand is called New Planet and they are based out of Boulder, CO. Of course they are! So many awesome companies are based out of Colorado!

I couldn’t find the ingredient label for this particular flavor online (they are temporarily out of stock) but I found the one for blonde ale, which I’m sure is fairly comparable:

Ingredients: Sorghum, corn extract, orange peel, hops, and yeast

Gluten free expo

I’m still trying to decipher if I have a slight intolerance to the starch from corn, as well as yeast, so I would need to be careful if I decided to buy this beer for myself. I really enjoyed the taste of it; It is extremely light and slightly sweet.

If you are an avid beer drinker, you may not like this beer, at least the Tread Lightly flavor. They do offer hoppier, heavier beers too so they can accomodate all.

I haven’t looked into pricing, but I have a feeling it’s a little steep. The chances of me actually buying this beer are fairly slim, BUT if I were to buy a GF beer, this would be the one I would choose because I got to sample it and I know I like it.

The next table over was the restaurant’s clam chowder. Being I’m not a huge fan of clam chowder to begin with, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but still, I tried it. You never know when the taste buds are going to change on you! I never give up on trying foods. I used to not like cake, now look at me. 😉

Next up was the dessert table full of GF chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cornbread muffins.

Gluten free expo Gluten free expo Gluten free expo

I could have parked myself in front of that table for the remainder of the evening and been a happy girl. After all, we were the last group to go through and there were still mounds of desserts! But, I played it cool and stuck to one plate.

The had made cookies from two different chocolate chip cookie mixes; one was the French Meadow Bakery Mix, and I believe the other one was Bob’s Red Mill mix. One of them had a funky after-taste and because they weren’t labeled, I’m not sure which one it was. Oh well. I really enjoyed the brownies!

The next vendor over was from Daisy Blue which is an all-natural skin care line based out of Albert Lea, MN. They sell, soaps, lip balm, makeup, scented oils, lotions, and more. She sent me home with a lotion and hand soap sample and they both smell great!

The very last stop we made was the GF pasta bar. They had two brown rice pastas they were sampling with their homemade GF alfredo sauce. I used to LOVE alfredo sauce but I have grown out of it for some reason. Again, maybe because my brain connects the memory of my upset tummy from pasta alfredo from the past? Not sure. It tasted okay to me, but nothing I would order off of a restaurant menu.

The very last stop we had planned on making was to taste their GF chicken wings, but by the time we got over there they were all out. Not a huge loss to me because I’m not a huge wings fan (unless my mom makes them), but Dana was a little bummed.

At the end of the night, we were sent home with a bunch of free loot!

Gluten free expo

It was well worth the $6.00 we spent to get in. I had fun with it!

Although I’m not celiac and and not completely gluten intolerant, I know for certain I am gluten sensitive and finding brands that offer delicious GF products is something I am very excited about. No need to live a painful life when you know how to eliminate the culprits of the discomfort right?

Alright, we are officially caught up from the weekend! Now I can get on with the week. 🙂


Do you have any favorite gluten-free products?!

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Health Supplements & Insanity Month One

I have bunch of little tidbits to catch you up on so I’m going to get right in there and be a little random today.

First off, I hope everyone is having a good week so far. We are half way through the work week already. These weeks have been flying by lately crazy fast.

Moose had his second tooth extracted on Monday and he is doing very well. They didn’t have nearly as much trouble with this tooth as they did his other one, and he didn’t have to be under anesthesia as long. We are happy that is over with, and so is he. Thanks again for all of your sweet comments.

Let’s see, Monday evening’s dinner was one you have seen a million times by now, my favorite salmon recipe, but I still snapped a photo because it’s always so pretty.


And breakfast yesterday: banana with almond butter, honey, and cinnamon = Num.

banana with almond butter

Insanity Update

Two days ago I finished Month One of InsanityIf you’re new to my blog, you can quickly catch up on my weekly Insanity reviews here:

Here is what went down this last week:

Body and Strength Changes

I don’t feel like I went through many body changes this past week although I do feel my core continues to get stronger day by day. I feel this has helped tremendously with my back pain. I continue to see my chiropractor for adjustments but we have been able to stretch out my visits to every two weeks now versus what began as twice a week visits. That is great progress that I am super happy about.

Besides that, I may have hit a bit of a plateau, where my strength isn’t improving much, and my endurance is at a standstill.

So, this week I have started the recovery workout. The focus of this workout is on recovering from all of the cardio madness, giving muscles time to relax, yet still working them so as not to fall back in your progress.  It is a slightly more mellow workout which focuses on core and balance. For the next six days the program has you repeating the same workout daily. I’m a little nervous that I will get bored from the repetition because I usually can’t handle doing the same workout day after day. That being said, the next week of recovery may take me longer than six days to complete because I may throw in some runs or other workouts here and there.

Soreness, Fatigue, or Aches

The sore elbow that I mentioned last week which has been persistent for the last month or so is no longer an issue. Who knows what that was I’m just happy it’s gone!

Every now and then I will get a little tenderness on the top of my feet and occasional knee discomfort. When this happens, I try to take a day off to rest and then get back into it the following day once the tenderness has subsided.

Overall Thoughts and Feelings

I can’t believe month one is complete! I did take before and after photos but I think I may keep them to myself (I haven’t 100% decided either way yet), but what I can tell you is that I see some great results. My stomach is flatter, leaner and stronger, my legs are more toned and much stronger, my arm strength has increased greatly and I am now able to do hands and toes push-ups much more easily. I see more definition in my arms and my shoulders, and I have less back pain! Besides training for the half-marathon, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so diligent with a workout program before, especially with one this intense. I am very proud that I have kept with it this long. Time will tell how the second month goes. If I feel it is too intense for my body, I may scale back. We will see though.

I’m happy to have this week to “recover” before starting up with the even more insane workouts to come. My body could use a little rest, plus I am missing running and hope to get some of that in this week.

To any of you contemplating the Insanity program, I will tell you right now that it is not easy, but it is so worth it! The results are worth it. The way I feel about myself and the strength I have built, is so worth it. If you want to see results and build a stronger body, absolutely complete this program.

But first…Please consult with your physician before you begin this program if your health is compromised or if you are hesitant about the intensity of the program. 

A Sneak Peek at Last Night’s Dinner

I’m hoping to share this barbacoa recipe with you all sometime this week. It was a spicy one and SO good!

beef balcacoa

Health Supplements

Last topic of the day I promise. It has been a little while since I have given an update on my current health supplements I am taking in the journey towards my total wellness. I want to share this with everyone in case there are others out there who are fighting for wellness (in my particular case Ulcerative Colitis), and to give others some hope that alternative medicine can really truly make a difference! I plan to go into this in further detail another day, but today I would just like to keep it to a brief update.

Again I want to reiterate that I truly believe that if you are eating a healthy and balanced diet, and if you are completely 100% healthy and not fighting any type of disease, that you may not need to take supplements. You can get the nutrients you need from foods (Vitamin D is a probable exception) and your body is able to utilize those nutrients properly, but for those of us with compromised health, supplements can be a very good option in helping to find balance. I continue to work with my chiropractor and naturopath, who are working with me to find proper supplements to suit my particular health needs.

Last time I checked in with you all on this subject, I was taking:

  • cod liver oil
  • a multivitamin
  • calcium plus vitamin D3
  • probiotic

Today, I am taking these:

  • cod liver oil
  • multivitamin
  • folic acid
  • calcium plus Vit D3
  • probiotic
  • digestive enzymes

Digestive Enzymes are enzymes that break down food molecules in our body, which helps the body to digest and absorb food and nutrients from foods. I don’t take the enzymes with every meal as recommended, but I take them when I feel my body may need extra help in digesting a meal. For example, if I am eating a meal with broccoli or cauliflower, I will most likely take one beforehand. They really do seem to ease the digestion process for me and they make me feel better and able to tolerate more foods.

I had a terrible experience with the cod liver oil a couple of days ago however. The one I currently have is a liquid cod liver oil with cinnamon tingle flavor. Apparently I coughed right as I was swallowing the liquid and it got caught in my throat. For the next couple of hours my throat burned and all I could taste was fish. It was terrible. I continued to feel nauseous well into the afternoon. I asked my chiro about other options and thankfully there is a gel that has a chocolate flavor and there are also tablets available. The only downfall to the tablets is that you have to take 7-8 a day. I am going to try the chocolate one next and hope that I can tolerate it better because my cinnamon experience totally ruined any chance of me taking that one again. My body LOVES this stuff though. It’s like liquid gold. It’s full of omega-3’s, and Vitamin A and D. Before I take it I imagine it coating my intestines  like a cozy blanket to protect them. That’s weird, huh? Then I chug a gallon of water to get the taste out of my mouth.

Anyway, this is getting a bit lengthy. I do want to write another post about my experience with the naturopath and go more into detail about the specific brands of supplements I am taking, what they are primarily used for, and other health changes I have made to aid in my healing process. But for now, I am going to call it a day.

Happy Hump Day!

What are your thoughts on supplements? 

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Insanity Week 2: Completed

Happy Thursday to you all. It is a dreary one here today and my mood definitely matches the weather right now. I’ll work on turning that around though.

I don’t have one single photo to share with you all from yesterday. Such a bummer, right? What I DO have to share with you is my week two Insanity recap. If you missed out on week one’s completion recap, you can check it out here: Insanity Week 1: Completed

Insanity Week 2: Completed

Body and Strength Changes

I continue to notice more definition in my core. I failed to take pre-measurements of my body so I don’t have actual inches to compare to, only photos but that’s okay. Push-ups are feeling easier although I am not able to keep up with the push-ups on the DVD and wind up having to do them on my knees.  My legs are looking more toned and lean. My pants are feeling completely comfortable again!

Based on my results of Fit Test #2, my cardio, endurance, and strength are all improving! It’s very gratifying to be able to see my progress!

Weight Fluctuations

I have lost 1-2 lbs so far which is great but not a major marker of my progress whatsoever considering I am (hopefully) building lean muscle which weighs more than fat.

Soreness, Fatigue, or Aches

My back has been pretty darn sore at nighttime this week. I’m hoping that it’s just a coincidence because I would really like to continue with the Insanity workouts. If it continues to feel wacky, I may have to cut back.

My energy level is generally GREAT!

Overall Thoughts and Feelings

Finding the motivation to complete the workouts this week was extremely challenging. I think it was mostly because we had the 10K run thrown in there on Saturday and it took me a little while to recuperate from it.

smoothie coffee


Now that I am repeating the workouts, they’re not as exciting to me. I know what to expect and tend to dread certain ones. But on the bright side, I ALWAYS feel fantastic after I get done with the workouts. Always.

On Monday I completed the Pure Cardio and then had to finish it off with the Cardio Abs and found this to be extremely challenging. My body was in so much fatigue from the Pure Cardio that I had a rough time pulling through the abs.

All in all, week two was more challenging in the sense that I had a harder time mustering up motivation to complete the workouts. I do think my strength is improving and plan to continue the Insanity challenge as long as my body can hold out. 

I continue to eat a clean diet full of protein, fruits, and veggies which helps me fight through the workouts and recover from them quickly. I did have some sugary treats this past weekend though. My body didn’t love me for that!

On to Week Three! 


Hope you all have a great day! I’ll try to turn my dreary mood around if you promise to do something that makes you happy today. Deal? I’m going to hang out with my family tonight and have that to look forward to which makes me SO happy.

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California Cheeseburger Salad

April Fitness Challenge Recap

Today is the last day of April which means that today is the last day of my April Fitness Challenge. If you will recall, at the beginning of April I challenged myself to work towards the goal of being able to do at least one solid chin-up by April 30th.

chin up pull up bar


We bought a pull-up bar, I hit the weights but not nearly as much as I should have, and I began Insanity workouts about two weeks ago.

I have to report today that unless a miracle happens in the next 24 hours, I am still not able to do an unassisted chin-up. However, I refuse to claim this challenge as a fail because I have seen major progress in my attempts and I know it won’t be much longer before I am able to do one.

And yes I use my legs to help shimmy myself up–I don’t care if that’s considered cheating.

chin up

Am I disappointed? Actually I’m not, not at all. I am very happy with my progress and excited to keep reaching toward my goal. It has been very helpful having a pull-up bar in our house so I can give it a go at my leisure.

You WILL be hearing from me as soon as I reach that goal! I think I will be rolling this goal over into May. Yea, I like that idea.

Anyway….changing tracks. I have a super tasty meal to share with you all from last night.

This dinner was extremely easy, it came together in about 15 minutes or less, and it was SO delicious!

I made what I like to call California Cheeseburger Salad!

What usually comes on a California burger? Tomato, lettuce, avocado, and mayo right? Well I excluded the mayo but used the other ingredients. In addition to the California burger, I also incorporated an all-American classic: the cheeseburger. Instead of a bun, I turned this concoction into a salad.

california cheeseburger salad


Let’s break it down…

I began by sauteing about 1/4 cup of diced onions on the stove top. I then added 1/4 pound of lean ground turkey, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and let it brown.

Meanwhile, I chopped up the lettuce, tomato, avocado and arranged them on my two plates.

Next, I made a mustard dressing which was simply deli style mustard (about 2 tablespoons), apple cider vinegar (about 1 tablespoon), garlic powder, onion powder, and a little water. I gave it all a good stir and then drizzled it over the salads.

After the turkey was finished browning and fully cooked through, I shredded 1/4 cup of natural cheddar cheese over the hot meat in the pan. I let it melt and then used a spatula to scoop it onto our salads.

california cheeseburger salad


You put it all together and what do you get? California Cheeseburger Salad! So very simple and it was the perfect dish for a warm spring evening.

California Cheeseburger Salad
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • ¼ lb lean ground turkey
  • salt and pepper
  • As much mixed spring lettuce as you wish, chopped
  • ½ small avocado, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 2 Tbsp deli mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder
  • a sprinkle of onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. In a small pan sprayed with olive oil, sauté onions for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and let brown.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange lettuce, avocado, and tomatoes onto two separate plates.
  4. Prepare mustard by mixing together mustard, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and water in a small bowl. Drizzle over plated lettuce.
  5. Once meat is finished cooking and lightly browned, sprinkle cheese over the top and let melt. Once melted, use a spatula to transfer the meat on top of the salads.
  6. Enjoy!


You could easily make this vegetarian by substituting pinto beans or black beans instead of the ground turkey! Give it a go tonight! You won’t regret it.

Have a fabulous Tuesday my lovely readers!

What are your go-to summer dinners?

I notice that once the warmer weather rolls around, my meat consumption goes way up because we are grilling so much more. In the summer our go-to dinners are probably grilled chicken or turkey burgers and grilled veggies or a huge veggie and bean salad.

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