Monday, October 31, 2011


Oh hello there. It's been awhile.

It's apparently time for another project month, because a) projects are fun and b) without structure of some sort, I am just a twig in a stream, rolling along with the current. Aimlessly. Forever more. (Even with structure, I don't do so well--I'm supposed to be at belly-dancing class right now... but it's not like I'm giving up on my life-long dream to be Shakira.)

The September Challenge was a success. Yes, there were some things I could've been more on top of, and for sure they totally went to shit after I stopped documenting their consistency (walking the dog, removing my make-up before bed, et cetera), but for the most part, I was pleased with myself, my weight loss, the health of my body, my mental state, and my ability to 'enjoy the moment.' Eating holistically makes you feel amazing. No matter what, this is true. Not relying on caffeine to wake up felt great. Not experiencing any sort of rush or crash due to carbohydrates and simple sugars was fantastic. The weight loss was super side effect, as well. 

I kept it up for another two weeks, into mid-October. I even lost another couple of pounds, bringing the grand total to ten. But then I was hit with a bout of folliculitis, a nasty bacterial infection in the form of a skin rash, brought on by a friend's (brand new) hot tub. This left me out of commission for a few days, quarantined at home and ordered to stay home from work for three days. I was on a heavy duty antibiotic for a ten-day cycle--500mg, four times a day, on an empty stomach.

As a perpetual snacker, I thought this would be tough (to find a time when my stomach was actually empty), but it was okay, and I kind of enjoyed having huge meals three times a day, fitting my pills in around them. Then Marielle's birthday season hit (I called it a 'season' because we honestly have at least five celebrations in the span of a week or two), I ended up getting a bad cold, and all hell broke loose. And here I am, up a whole bunch of pounds. I am not even exactly sure how many, because I haven't been weighing myself consistently enough to be sure, but it seems to be between 3-7. YES THAT'S RIGHT. 

Originally, NO!vember was to be about money (No Spender November), and it still will be, but we had to incorporate some other NO!s in there in order to drop at least ten pounds before Christmas (so that we can gain it back, of course). I need to get off sugar for the month of November. And wheat. And I like rhyming, so... 

No Spender NO!vember was joined by No Wheat, No Red Meat, Limited Booze, and NO TREATS! 

No, no, no.  

I need some steps. Because rules are fun! 
So! Where to begin. 

No Spender No!vember


1. Do not spend money. 

(If only it were that easy.)

Okay, I haven't come up with a super specific plan for this yet, but tomorrow I will go over my budget and figure out a realistic goal. Ultimately, I want to say that I'll have x amount of dollars in my savings account at the end of the month. 

I would say that I could easily live off of $100 cash per week, including groceries. Easily. Right? So I'll put aside that money, in cash, and write a budget for my expenses, and the number I'm left with is the number I want to have by December 1st. 

2. Do not buy clothes, cosmetics, toiletries, fancy things that are pretty, shiny bugs, anything that catches your attention, gum.

I actually don't buy gum; I'm not a gum person. But I would buy a shiny bug if it was pretty, I bet. I've been spending entirely too much money on clothing lately, and I need it to STOP. For sure there are things I 'need' (total lie--I'm quite comfortable), but Christmas is coming and my birthday follows shortly afterward, so I do not need to be purchasing any more sweaters for which I have zero hangers. Seriously. My sweaters are double-hanging at this point and some of them have started making their way into the coat closet. So. NO CLOTHES. I love boots, but I have a good 4-5 pairs. NO BOOTS. Hair products and cosmetics are particularly attractive to me, but I have a train case full of glosses and eye shadows that I don't even use (and an enormous make-up case full of ones I do), so that's enough of that. 

Also, no $20 imported truffle oil, $15 specialty chipotle flakes, $11 fancy cheese. Just... no. 

My office Christmas party is on December 3rd, and I'm going to try to make do. I need want new shoes and a new dress, obv, but I am going to see if I can pull something off from my own closet. If not, well... I'll have two days to buy something new after No!vember! 

I just feel like I've been extra spendy lately, and considering that we just purchased a new vehicle and the insurance that they strongly encourage go with it, we're looking at an extra few hundred dollars a month this month that we aren't used to. It wouldn't hurt to bank a little extra cash. And by 'bank a little extra cash,' I mean, 'throw a few hundred bucks on a debt that won't look any smaller.' But... we do what we have to do. Right? 

Some exceptions to No!vember:

November 11th: our five year anniversary. 11/11/11! Cool. We have a Group-on, so we don't have to pay for dinner, which is nice. I'm really excited for it. The deal includes four tapas (one from each section of their small plate menu, which are: charcuterie/cheese, meats/fish, starches, and vegetables/salad), as well as a pizza and a bottle of wine, to share. Check out the menu

November 12th: Marielle's father's 60th birthday surprise party. (I hope he doesn't read my blog.) I know I don't have to eat a treat, but... it's a birthday party. Just a small piece of cake? A sliver? A cookie? Some sprinkles? 

November 20th: My dad's birthday. He is off starches and sugars as well, so this one won't be too hard, but we're making a big brunch and chances are there is going to be bacon or sausage in the frittata. So we'll forget the red meat rule that day, perhaps. 

We're also going out for dinner on the 26th with my parents to a steakhouse I have a gift certificate for, but I know they have great chicken and salmon dishes on the menu, so I'm not too worried. And we said no wheat rather than no starches, because I'd like to be able to have rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes here and there throughout the month (though not daily). 

I'm going to have to come up with some structure for this, and perhaps even a checklist template that I have to fill out each evening. I can save it in a Word doc, and update my blog every night with my progress. Like: 

How many coffees today? (Goal will be 1 or 0.) 
Did you eat any:
Red Meat?
If booze, how much? 
Wash make-up off before bed?
Floss, brush, and floss before bed?
Walk Tyson?
How many times? 
Minutes spent exercising:
What kind of exercise?
Minutes spent doing yoga:
Minutes spent meditating:
How much time did you spend watching TV?
How much money did you spend? 
On what: 
Any 'illegal' purchases?
Any weight loss today?

Maybe if I have to fill out a goddamn survey every night, I won't want to cheat. GOD, WHAT AM I, THE GODDAMN SELF POLICE? 

(Seriously though, I do need a checklist. For, like, life.)

I told myself that if I wasn't going to go to belly dancing that I would at least update my blog and set some sort of guidelines for No!vember, and I'm glad I did. I also drank two beers while I was writing and ate some mini cupcakes. What.

To prepare for my productive! restrictive! month ahead, I'm going to go wash my make-up off, do a face mask, floss, brush, and gargle, and take the dog for a walk to meet Marielle on her way home from boxing. 

At least one of us is going to their Monday night classes...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Joy of Eating.

Although we are now 'free' of the detox, our eating habits have not changed very drastically. We still have our wheat-free, gluten-free cereal with unsweetened soy or almond milk in the morning, our plain yogurt and hummus with rice crackers for snacks, split pea soup or a salad for lunch. We've thrown in an apple or Asian pear to shake it up--Asian pears are like crack to me, they're by far my current favourite fruit (although I've only had that, a Royal Gala, and a MacIntosh since being on fruit again).

We actually managed to remain fairly 'Joshi-friendly' for the majority of the day on Saturday, the 1st of October. Forgetting to buy anything special for our first meal off the program, we just ended up having some of our cereal and a small banana smoothie before heading to Spanish class (which was then cancelled). On our way to do groceries, however, we did stop to buy two tall Americanos at Starbucks! They were delicious, but honestly, not as good as I used to think they were. I drink coffee black, and I love it that way, but I found the after-taste a little too strong. We managed to nurse them for the duration of our grocery-shopping trip.

Lunch was take-out from Indochine, a great little Vietnamese place in the Byward Market, and again, nothing was radically off-plan. We got chicken vermicelli dishes--and we ate the veggie spring roll that came with it! Other than that, it was just rice noodles, chicken, carrot, lettuce, fresh mint, some nuoc cham and a bit of cucumber.

We were unsure if we'd be having anyone over for dinner, so we planned something that there would be enough for guests. It ended up just being us, which was great, because we ended up with so many delicious leftovers! First of all, we drank this while we cooked:
It was fantastic, and we'll definitely get it again. We made a vegetarian noodleless lasagna.The layers of 'noodles' were strips of zucchini and egglant, and the 'ricotta' was actually mushed up firm tofu with basil, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in it. We will make this again--it was absolutely delicious, and so low-fat.

Here it is, ready to go in the oven.

While waiting for the timer to ding I couldn't help but have more of this delicious wine.

Tyson was hoping we'd drop some.

And now it's ready to eat!

We un-veganized it by adding some part-skim mozzarella on top, and a sprinkle of parmesan. We modified the recipe by adding a layer of portobello mushrooms, swiss chard, and tomato slices as well. Carb-free lasagna! Who would've thought!

Mmmm, mushrooms.

We spent quite awhile in the kitchen on Sunday, prepping some food for the week. Last Wednesday we went car-shopping, and this week we go pick up our new (to us) 2008 Nissan Sentra! So wanted to prepare some things in advance for the nights we'd be out at the dealership (which has hopefully been condensed into one--I just got word that we might be able to pick it up tonight!). We made: four lunch salads (Monday, Tuesday lunch) with grilled tofu in BBQ sauce, feta, toasted sunflower seeds, and all the salad fixins; a batch of smoky split pea soup (Wednesday, Thursday lunch); and a big lentil shepherd's pie that we've been craving since the weather started changing. This recipe is a keeper--we've made it about four times now. I mean... look!

So good! We had our classes on Monday (belly dancing for me, boxing for Marielle), so it was really handy to have it all ready to go--Marielle popped it in the oven when she got home from work.

Last night we made a fish dish that we made up over the summer. We sautée some tilapia with seasoning sprinkled on it (paprika, chili powder, whatever you want, really), just to brown it, not cook it. Then remove it from the pan, and sauté some onion, zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, green olives, and garlic. Add some dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Once the tomato starts to break down a bit, add a splash of dry wine or cooking sherry, put the tilapia on top of the veggies, and cover it loosely so that the fish finishes cooking by steaming. We added some fresh basil too.
This was a HEAPING portion--we used too many vegetables (two zucchinis, two whole tomatoes, an entire white onion, etc). But hey--it kept us satisfied for the night, and there was no mindless snacking (while watching The Biggest Loser, which always makes us hungry for some reason...). 
I've been drinking green tea every day still instead of coffee, and I'm loving it. I will still drink coffee, but maybe not every day. Maybe not even every week. I'm avoiding wheat, sugar, and red meat, but I'm careful not to make anything entirely off limits, because I enjoy eating way too much! 

September Challenge: The Wrap-Up.

It's over! Well, it's been over for five days, and I'm just writing about it now. The truth is, it no longer felt like a detox by the end of it. It felt like normal life. Don't get me wrong, we've been thrilled to add tomatoes back into our menus (and mushrooms, and wine, and olives, and zucchini...)--it's just that it didn't feel difficult in any way by the end. I guess it really does take 30 days to change a habit (I just hope it takes more than 30 to change them back again...).

There were definitely parts of the 'wellness' challenge that I didn't feel were successful. I'm going to re-post my list from the first entry here.

September Challenge:

- Follow the Dr. Joshi Holistic Detox (no red meat, no coffee, no booze, no wheat, no fruit except bananas and lemons, no fungii, no nightshades, etc) A+
- Meditate daily C-
- Do yoga 1-2x per week C-
- Reach out (check in with friends and family, and try to remember if there is anything special or stressful going on in their lives) B
- Don't say no to family and friends if they try to make plans B-
- Take detox baths C+
- Walk my dog more often B-
- Develop a morning routine (get up earlier in order to write my Morning Pages, meditate, and do a bit of light stretching or yoga before work) C
- Develop an evening routine (wash off make-up A, floss and brush teeth A, do not watch TV in bed D)
- Pick creativity over lazy entertainment (ie. less TV, more sketching, painting, writing, etc.) D
- Organize and edit (get rid of unnecessary clutter, organize and file basket of mail, get rid of clothes I no longer wear, etc.) B-

So I definitely still have some stuff to work on. The first week or two were definitely more successful--I was more into the meditation and yoga, especially. But for the last two weeks of the month, I mostly went back to normal life other than the detox. I like to watch TV in bed before going to sleep--we always cuddle during that time, and I always fall asleep with my head on her shoulder until she's ready to turn off the television, and rolls me over to my own side. I yell impatiently when she's taking too long in the bathroom because I want "in." It's just one of our little things. 

I started belly dancing on Monday nights halfway through the month and started going to the gym again, so I was running more and kind of abandoned yoga. But I really, really enjoy yoga and I always notice a huge difference in my flexbility and inner tranquility when I'm practicing regularly; I do still want to get back into it. 

I still watch too much TV, I get up with just enough time in the morning to get ready for work and eat a bowl of cereal, and meditation just wouldn't stick. I will probably keep trying to make small improvements with these things, but I don't think they're going to change drastically.  

Here are some photos of our final detox meals. On Friday, September 23rd, we had an RMT come over to our apartment for at-home massages. Marielle got a regular deep tissue massage, and I opted for a detoxifying lymphatic drainage massage. It was very relaxing; much more gentle than a normal massage (and I normally prefer them to be quite aggressive, even a little painful). She warned me that I might have some symptoms of detoxing afterwards, which I always get (I refer to it as the 'massage flu'). I was fine for most of the evening, but I fell asleep on the couch around 10pm, and when Marielle woke me close to midnight to go to bed, I felt drugged. I was weaving, I couldn't open my eyes--it was pretty intense! I felt great the next morning. I will definitely try to remember to get a LDM twice yearly, at least.

We wanted to make something simple that night since our massages wouldn't be over until 8pm, so we picked up some extra lean ground chicken from the butcher and made a brown rice pasta dish with arugula, leeks, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, and goat cheese. Kind of... Joshi-style Hamburger Helper, I guess!

This next meal was a FAIL. It looks delicious, but it just didn't turn out. We should've looked at recipes. We wanted to make a walnut-crusted fish, and we wanted to try a new kind of white fish (we only ever buy tilapia. Tilapia and salmon, salmon and tilapia--the end). We ended up going with cod--one of the cheaper white fish, but since we were crusting it, it didn't seem to matter. The fish itself wasn't bad, but the walnut crust was soggy and way too thick--we overdid it on the walnuts for sure. We ended up scraping most of the crust off and just eating the fish and asparagus.
Here is another 'Hamburger Helper' type dish, but the salad was so good! We've been making it again and again. It was just lettuce, arugula, red cabbage, grated carrot, feta, and toasted sunflower seeds and almonds. So delicious.

This image is not very appealing to the eye, but mmmm, this was good. One of our specialties is taco salad, and normally we make it vegetarian, but we still had some extra-lean ground chicken to finish up, so we added it. This is just lettuce, onion, carrot, celery, feta, and red cabbage, and we sautéed ground chicken with black beans, cumin, chili powder, and chipotle flakes. That's a dollop of plain yogurt on top, which we started doing rather than sour cream quite a few months ago (mostly because we always have plain yogurt, and never sour cream).

Aaand... that appears to be it! We don't even seem to have a photo of our Last Meal, but it wasn't really very exciting, although it was very delicious. We had grilled salmon (marinated in honey, Braggs, garlic, ginger, and fresh herbs) with a huge salad on the side. We couldn't even finish the salad, but we ended up watching a movie and when we got peckish later on, we had the rest.

I think that's probably my favourite thing about the detox--it took us from being snackers to just... not. We have snacks at work always (morning and afternoon), but we seem to have lost our late-night munchies, and we don't snack at all on the weekends between meals anymore (in fact, we often go too long between eating on the weekend).

I have a few photos of meals we've enjoyed post-detox, but I will save that for another entry since this is supposed to be the wrap-up for the September Challenge.

Oh! And I'm down 8lbs, I almost forgot that part. Marielle is down 6lbs. We both feel the difference for sure, and our clothes are fitting much better (or worse--as in, some are falling right off). That's the amount I was hoping to lose over the month--more would have been great, but I'm very happy with that number. I'm hoping to be down another 10lbs by January 1st--I'm giving myself a few months only because between now and New Year's, I have:

- Thanksgiving
- Marielle's birthday celebrations (so far, there are five)
- Our 5-yr anniversary
- A possible family trip to Mont Tremblant
- Marielle's dad's birthday
- My dad's birthday
- Christmas and all of the parties that go along with that (friends, family, work, etc)
- My mom's birthday
- New Year's Eve

So. I think that if I lose 10lbs, it'll won't be a small feat! But I'm pretty confident that I can do it. And I'll be sure to keep writing about it, too!