Saturday, July 11, 2009

The magic of moderation

I'm writing because I am experiencing something extraordinary: I have abstained from sweets for the past few days (or more) without much force. Something happened somewhere around reading "enLIGHTened" by Jessica Berger Gross, "Essential Ayurveda" by Shubhra Krishan, and attending a yoga class at Hot Yoga of Issaquah that really helped me learn the value of moderation. Somewhere, it just clicked; that true, heartfelt desire to treat my body well and eat only foods that will nourish me. I've been in plenty of situations recently where I have considered buying sweets. I'm not even telling myself I can't have them. I'm just confronting them, and passing them over. I've even had a sweet treat in my hand more than once and put it back on the shelf. I can't remember an exact moment where I realized I didn't WANT sweets anymore (I still have these subtle cravings of the mind, which is why I walk down the candy/cookie isles in the first place); all I know is that lately, I just don't want them, and I don't need them. I've had ice cream a couple times in the past week or two, but only because Brian wanted some, so I made us ice cream cones to enjoy together. But other than that, even when I'm hanging out with friends, I find it easy to pass over the sweets. This is an amazing thing!

Also, for a few weeks I was routinely walking a minimum of 40 minutes a day (or running the treadmill on the rare not-so-sunny day), every day, no matter what. This sounds wonderful and a great thing to stick to, and I felt great. The only problem was I didn't feel like I was losing weight or making any progress. I felt like I might even be getting thicker! Yeah, I know, it was probably just muscle. But when I read "Essential Ayurveda" I remembered that my body type (Vata) has a tendency to overwork and overexert. An example of this comes from last week: one of the days I walked a total of 8 miles. The next day, I decided to rest to rebuild my strength but then gave in and went jogging/walking with my mom for an hour, followed by 1 1/2 hours of hot yoga. During hot yoga, I got so nauseous I felt like I was going to pass out. I've done hot yoga twice and never felt like that. So it is quite possible I was overexerting myself with the excessive exercise without a day of rest. And something resonated with me when the instructor would tell us to push your boundaries a little, but also practice Ahimsa, nonviolence, to your body and be gentle enough. It was a strange concept but very enlightening. I had understood ahimsa when applied to interacting with other people and animals. But being my own body...during exercise? As foreign a concept as it seemed, it really made sense when I connected it to the practice of moderation; understanding the benefit and balance that comes from moderation of ALL things; eating, exercise, spending, indulging, etc, etc. A day or two later, I finally took a day off walking. This week, I walk every other day or two. I still, of course, do my 10 minute of sun salutations every morning. But cutting back on the obsessive aerobic walking has actually helped me feel leaner, surprisingly!

I feel great this week! I've been eating decently and practicing moderation for the most part. Of course, I still overeat on occasion, especially when eating out. But I feel like my stomach has shrunk a little, and I can't eat as much in one sitting as I could just a couple weeks ago. I don't think I have lost any weight, but I've also quit weighing myself. I'm just sick of getting on the scale, thinking my body looks great, and then finding out I haven't lost a pound. I just don't care about that right now. I don't need some device getting me stressed and disappointed. That kind of abuse is not helpful, and makes me just want to give up and binge on sweets! I will lose weight and get back to my perfect weight, but honestly, becoming healthy is what matters first and foremost. And I DO look great NOW and I will only look and feel better and better every day!

Despite the fact that I've been reading some Ayurveda books lately that for the most part discourage the consumption of raw foods (especially for Vata types) I have started eating more of them.

(if you are unfamiliar with Ayurveda, but curious, I highly recommend "Perfect Health" by Deepak Chopra and the above mentioned "Essential Ayurveda." And while I don't agree with or intend to practice 100% of what I've learned from Ayurveda, such as they Ayurvedic preference for white rice over brown, etc, I do believe that Ayurveda holds an amazing source of wisdom and helps you learn to gain insight into your body and the connectiveness of mind-body-spirit.)

Of course, I've continued eating my daily fruit and salads throughout these healthy and not-so-healthy months past. But now I'm trying to rekindle my love for raw foods and the desire to transition to a high raw diet. This week I'm drinking romaine carrot juice for breakfast, and eating a raw salad for lunch. My dinners are cooked, but eventually I want them to be half raw, and then after that mostly raw (or all raw with the occasional cooked food day during the week). I've been wanting to find my RAW excitement again, but it was finally reignited a few days ago when I was at Madison Market. There I found a pre-packaged meal made at Chaco Canyon. It was a raw ginger sesame kelp noodle dish, and it was soooo delish! I ate the yummy noodles over a bed of salad greens at home. It was my first time trying kelp noodles, and I LOVED them! I later returned to buy a package of kelp noodles to use at home, and today I tried my first recipe:

Kelp Noodles, Veggies, and Green Sauce!

Kelp Noodles:

Open package of kelp noodles, rinse, and drain. You can also toss in some lemon juice to help them soften up, but they will soften once they are in the green sauce.


1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 red bell pepper
A couple large handfuls green beans

Chop zucchini and squash. Julienne red bell pepper. Cut ends off of green beans and then cut each in half.

Green Sauce: (This recipe was adapted from the Creamy Italian Dressing recipe in Rawvolution by Matt Amsden...mine just has WAY more basil! This dressing is the #1 favorite of everyone who I've served it to! It is so versatile! Use it on salad, pasta, steamed veggies, raw zucchini noodles. Brian loves it drizzled over baked chicken and rice.)

3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 cups tightly packed fresh basil (depending on how much you like basil; I usually start with one cup, then add a few more stalks of basil until the sauce is very green and has a tangy pesto flavor)
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh oregano
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup raw pine nuts


Now, you can either toss all of the ingredients together now and serve, or store them separately. I've chosen to store separately because this makes a LARGE serving, and I intend to eat this for lunch throughout the week. If you choose to serve the full serving at once, marinade the kelp noodles in the green sauce for about 30 minutes or more to help them soften. Then top with veggies and a drizzle of more green sauce!

If you want to make individual servings, portion out the desired amount of kelp noodles and toss with green sauce. (If you are taking this to work and are letting it sit, then the noodles will be soft by lunch. If you are just eating an individual serving immediately, make sure you let the noodles marinate for at least 30 minutes.) Then top with a couple handfuls of the veggies. Drizzle with more green sauce if desired. Store the leftover green sauce in a container in the fridge. Store the chopped veggies in the fridge as well. Store the kelp noodles in a container filled with water in the fridge. All of these should last a few days. This is only day one for me, so I can't tell you exactly how long they truly last. Should serve about 4, I'm guessing.

Also, I have yet to take pictures of this, but hopefully I will get a chance before I eat it all!

One more recipe for today; Eat Your Greens...for dessert!

Green smoothie Popsicle!

This recipe is so simple it's more of an idea than a recipe. But you heard me! If green smoothies are so good for you, what better dessert could there be? Get some Popsicle molds, or use a few cups with spoons as the stick. Fill them with your favorite green smoothie recipe (see my previous posts here and here for ideas) and freeze overnight or until solid. YUM!

Well, I believe that is all I have to say for now. This week's lessons: Moderation and Ahimsa! In all things, to all beings, including yourself.