OK – I’ll have to admit one of the reasons we’ve been able to be so successful with our gut healthy journey and change of lifestyle is there have been some amazingly delicious and super easy recipes – like our go-to grass-fed burgers (or bison) with an easy coleslaw, fermented pickles and avocado. Yum!
Once you’ve had this, there will be no surprise why it’s quickly become one of our favorites. There is one ‘weird’ ingredient that you may not be used to eating or cooking with is fennel. We have never had fennel prior to our gut health journey — but there are a handful of recipes that’ve called for it like this one. And it does have a distinct taste, but it tastes good! Fennel is oddly shaped and a member of the carrot family, but it is not considered a root vegetable. A few other ‘gut healthy’ pointers when buying some of your ingredients:
Yogurt – Make sure to get greek yogurt that has live cultures with at least 1 million CFUs (colony-forming units). Also, when possible look for pasture-raised cows so that you don’t have any extra hidden evils in there.
Meat – It’s crucial to purchase and eat grass-fed beef or bison, this ensures you’re not eating any additional antibiotics and getting the freshest and safest meat. We are always stocked on grass-fed beef thanks to Meatboxlocal.
Ingredients: – (4) carrots, peeled and shredded – (1) fennel bulb, shredded – 3-cups of sliced red cabbage – Juice from one whole lemon, – 1 teaspoon of celery seed – 1-cup of 2% plain greek yogurt – For Serving: avocado, fermented pickles, grass-fed beef or bison burgers.
Step-by-Step Instructions: 1. Wash and prep your carrots, shred them with a cheese grater into a bowl — add your red cabbage. 2. Next, prep your fennel – wash and cut the greens off. Then shred overtop your carrots and cabbage. Next up shred half of your lemon peel and pour lemon juice over top. 3. Top with your 1-cup of greek yogurt and teaspoon of fennel seeds. Mix well, refrigerate until ready to serve! 4. Serving size is 1-cup of coleslaw, use as your base and stack burger, quarter avocado and a few pickle slices for your final meal!
Serving Size: (1 burger, 1 cup of slaw, quarter of an avocado, 3 sliced pickles) 284 calories, 31g protein, 24g carbohydrates, 9g total fat,
And that is really it! I promise you it’ll be a go-to and it’s so easy to pull together. The coleslaw recipe would be great on it’s own as a side and a healthy alternative to bring to your next backyard bbq or family gathering. We make this at least once a week and love every bit of it – you don’t even miss the burger buns because the flavor between the coleslaw, avocado and pickles paired with the burger is just soooo good!
My “official” gut health journey is wrapping up, which means the start of the official life as we know it gut health lifestyle — this three part journey has only just been the start. In Phase 1, we took 30-hard days of cleansing our gut with a keto-like approach, which helped drop serious pounds and also clean out the bad gut bugs. In Phase 2, we focused on fertilizing and re-planting the good gut bugs back into our gut by adding in fermented foods and probiotics. Phase 3 has been all about maintaining and easing into “life as we know it” – and I have to say, I’ve been pretty pleased with Phase 3, as I’ve been able to give and take a bit more while still maintaining my weight over the last few weeks – which is the ultimate goal on top of having a healthy gut!
THE GIST OF PHASE 3
Phase 3 is basically life as we know it – with a primary focus on food that is closely related to and inspired by the Mediterranean Diet. Phase 3 is about achieving and maintaining the ultimate healthy lifestyle – with a good balance of healthy, natural foods, paired with exercise, ways to reduce stress, better sleep and even enjoying the finer things in life every now and again. That last part, was something that also made me realize I’ve picked the right thing to help switch up my overall health — being able to enjoy sweets and other tasty things. As we are reminded throughout the book the poison is in the dose. So many ‘diets’ are about being super strict and eliminating this whole food group or that whole food group – and this really offers a nice variety – it’s just focusing on cutting out the fake foods our society has normalized and made so easily accessible overtime.
Also, so many diets focus on the food only – and not the well-rounded being beyond saying you should “work out.” Here is another powerful quote that represents what this lifestyle change is really all about. Another gut-health resource on Instagram is Dr. Mark Hyman – he shares a lot of great gut health information.
“Environmental influencers do impact the expression of certain parts of your genetic code. Diet, exercise, stress levels, toxins, and more can trigger receptors in your genes that will alter the messages they send to your body. That means what you do, what you eat, how you exercise, how much stress you have, and how you behave everyday actually affects you at the deepest possible biological and physiological levels.”
The Gut Balance Revolution
MY PHASE 3 RESULTS
This 85 day journey has proven crazy results, including obvious physical ones and then mental and other health benefits. I’m actually below my initial goal weight of 154 and weighing 149, which is a total loss of 25lbs. And, as I mentioned since Phase 3 has started, we have been able to maintain that weight steadily for the last couple weeks — even with a cheat day thrown in here and there.
Let’s talk more numbers! I’ve lost 6% of my body fat since the start – which is incredible in and of itself. I’ve even lost over 7-inches around my upper thigh, 5.5-inches around my belly and my breast width is down 2-inches. The physical transformation, has also helped my mental well-being, I just feel better. I’m more confident, more happy when I put clothes on — the weight has literally been lifted.
As I mentioned in my Phase 2 update, I’ve been able to eat a few things that I haven’t in over 6-years, like yogurt (pretty regularly, soft cheeses). My cough that was lingering since October has even gone away, whether it was acid reflex related or not, my cough and congestion have become much more tolerable and pinpointed to actual natural elements (even though I don’t have any technical allergies).
We will continue to make recipes and utilize everything we’ve learned from a healthy diet perspective, what to favor and what to have fewer into our everyday diet. We’ll continue to integrate wild caught fish like salmon and shrimp and even focusing on making sure we’re buying grass-fed meats (oh hey, Meatboxlocal!) And we will continue to severely limit those processed foods that do our bodies no good. And yes, I look forward to integrating a few more cheat days into the mix – especially as we’re getting back into a workout routine along with our better eating habits. I did enjoy a frosted cookie and piece of my mom’s apple pie over the weekend – totally worth it, but also worth reeling it in the rest of the weekend!
ICYMI – I started my own Gut Health Journey, after diving into the Gut Balance Revolution book. The first phase was a 30-day cleanse that showed major improvements with a keto-like approach to cleanse my gut. It was wildly successful, but only the first part of this journey.
The Gist Of it.
This Phase 2 is rolled out as “do it until you reach your goal weight.” When I ended the first Phase I was still 5-6lbs away from my goal weight, but was 15lbs down already. The focus of Phase 2 was adding prebiotics and probiotics back into our diet to add the good gut florals back after being cleansed. I thought we would be on this for a quick two weeks, but we’ve been working through Phase 2 for almost four weeks now. I was also nervous about this phase since a lot of the ways prebiotics and probiotics are added back in during this phase is through yogurt, kefir, and a few other typically not so dairy friendly diet options. This phase also adds in a variety of fermented items like pickles, sauerkraut and beets, yum!
Our portions for Phase 2 seemed a lot bigger than Phase 1 – so we were a bit shocked, and questioned if we were portioning correctly, although didn’t complain. We also were adding in more good carbs, like black beans, garbanzo beans, steal oats and buckwheat porridge, just to name a few — this also had me a bit hesitate as they aren’t only filling (while is great), but they’re also carbs!! As I’ve continued reading, I’ve learned that picking good carbs and controlling the portion better are OK to incorporate into the diet.
my phase 2 results
I finally hit my goal weight of 154 at the start of week three in this phase for a total weight loss of 20lbs, which was conveniently right before our beach vacation. And I’m down nearly 7.4% in total body fat since the start of this journey. I also had little to no side effects on eating those foods that I was nervous about and typically avoid like the plague, like greek yogurt, kefir and even a coleslaw we made was delicious! We quickly fell into a good eating pattern, mixing up the recipes for breakfast, snacks, lunches and our dinners making Phase 2 somewhat of a breeze after learning the meal options. Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries has been my new favorite breakfast, and I haven’t ate yogurt in probably 6+ years.
Another part of Phase 2, I’ve been trying to navigate responsibly is being able to have some alcohol again. After going nearly 40-days of not drinking, I enjoyed a glass of champagne – this may be my main “cheat.” The book only really talks about red wine and beer, which I don’t drink or haven’t been able too drink so I was sticking to my safe bubble route. It definitely came for good timing with a few more social functions happening now that Summer is in full swing. I’m still trying to be strict, but also enjoy myself and I’ve been pretty good at finding that balance so far! I did learn that recovering with a hangover on this diet is a little harder than before – since I’d normally just consume a bunch of carbs and greasy food. Whoops 🙃!
We will most likely stay on Phase 2 a little bit longer since we’re coming off of a week long vacation – although I’ve been sticking too the diet pretty well still. From there we will be starting Phase 3 which is the final phase and maintenance mode. I’m looking forward to finalizing this initial journey, while kicking off the ongoing phase in order to maintain this goal weight — while also being able to enjoy a few more cheat-like things from time to time. More to come as we continue into Phase 3 and work towards maintenance mode and sustaining all this hard work we’ve done in the last almost 60 days.
#ICYMI: May is Mental Health Awareness Month! A year ago, I was reflecting on the state of the world – and my growing state of my mental health, and not in a good way. But it has been interesting to reflect back at moments of this past year when I allowed my anxiety to get the best of me, whether that was being bed ridden, constant chest pains, sobbing fits or panic attacks. I went threw the gambit of emotions that were amplified by the world this past year.
I have always tried to be open and honest about my anxiety, because I think it’s (1) important, (2) it’s reassuring to know you’re not alone, and (3) to show how we all react and feel anxiety and stress differently. I’ve worked really hard, especially in the last few months to push myself out of certain comfort zones to deal with my anxiety and stress head on – because let’s face it, that is sometimes the most direct way in overcoming or managing it. I’d like to emphasis the managing part — because some times it doesn’t go away, or it does but can come right back in a flash, that’s the funny thing with anxiety, stress and everything in between, it’s always sort of just hiding in the shadows waiting to come out. One of my goals this year was making my health a priority – mentally and physically, and I finally started talking to someone again in February.
For me, I have always had some social anxiety to a certain extent, whether that’s drinks at a bar with friends, a night out with mutual acquaintances or walking into a room where I may only know the person I’m standing next too. I like to be around people who I trust, make me feel safe and I’m able to be my authentic self around — I blame that on getting burned a few times in high school, but I’m also OK with that. So imagine that “normal” social anxiety and then you add this past shit show of a year on top of it, with an added layer of social expectations and family pressures and you get a hot mess of anxiety and fear – aka, Me.
In addition to that, I’ve been in fear of getting or being sick (literally since March 2020). I’ve started to become better at rationalizing how I’m feeling and realizing that I’m not sick — but it’s taken a long time for me to get to this point. But that has been helpful for me, rationalizing things and feelings that can be, while also making sure I’m aware and acknowledging my feelings whether they’re rationale or not. I’ve come to realize I can do normal things and not get sick — a fear, I think that was beat into our brains throughout this past year.
So without getting too much into the weeds — that is what my therapist is for — I just wanted to shed some light into one part of my anxiety-ridden world that I live and deal with. I’m so beyond thankful for our friends, who have been open and accepting of my excuse for not wanting to hang out being “I’m paranoid and just don’t feel comfortable, can we FaceTime for 4-hours instead?” I’m so beyond thankful for those friends who have checked in on my progress of finding a therapist, for those who shared their struggles, wants and successes in finding their own therapist (you know who you are!). I’m also thankful for B for helping me through my panic attacks, letting me cry, yell and share all my rollercoaster feelings when I‘ve been feeling them – and most importantly for being my rock when I needed an ally in my feelings or justifying my actions.
If you’ve been struggling, I can tell you 100% that it is worth fighting through the fear of what that person, friend or loved one might think of you asking for help or sharing your emotions and feelings — because on the other side is relief and an ally to help you get through the tough times, while celebrating the milestones and successes. And if you’re on the other side and may not understand everything, just try to show love, empathy and compassion – it goes a long way.
Welp. Amidst my MIA-ness on here, I had full intentions of starting and keeping you all up-to-date on my recent health journey – but instead you’ll get the cliff notes since I’ve just completed the first part of the journey. This journey is the most drastic thing I’ve ever done, for a prolonged amount of time, consistently and food wise.
How We Got Here.
It’s funny, really. I’ve had the book ‘Gut Balance Revolution‘ saved on my Amazon account for years — I can’t remember who first recommended it to me, I think a family-doctor friend. But, it was recommended because about five years ago, I started having and experiencing a lot of odd intolerances to a variety of foods i.e. dairy, Chinese food, certain vegetables and even alcohol like beer and liquors. I was eventually “diagnosed” with IBS with #2. So, I either learned to cut those things out — or I just dealt with the consequences when I wanted to enjoy some ice cream or pizza. Fast-forward to this year and with my lingering health issues, I started to read and see things about how our gut health can be linked to many other chronic issues (anxiety, sinuses, acid reflex, IBS, etc.). So it was at this moment, when I was finally ready to take charge of my body and health and learn a bit more about all of this. I ordered that book from my Amazon ‘Saved For Later’ — and as soon as I started reading, I felt a mix of emotions – I wanted to cry because this seemed like the answer to a lot of my problems and I also just wanted to keep reading and consuming as much information about food and everything that affects our gut health and health in general, as quickly as possible.
The gist of it.
This book has a specific program that helps people first, cleanse their gut, then rebalance their gut and then sustain a healthy gut, healthy weight and lifestyle, while still being able to enjoy some of the finer things in life — but all with moderation. So the first 30-days was a focus on forgetting foods that promote dysbiosis, inflammation, blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance. AKA no sugars, no starchy carbs, no dairy, low gluten, no alcohol and fewer FODMAPs. We ate a lot of greens, pasture-raised chicken, wild salmon, cod, shrimp, tuna, berries, eggs, quinoa and nuts – just to name a few things!
what i learned
We jumped into this pretty quickly to get this started, yes, B has been a champion alongside me helping with meal prep and even doing the program himself. Since we started so quickly, we jump straight in from eating like shit to shocking our bodies — I had some major keto flu-esq symptoms which mainly consisted of horrible leg aches for two days. Once we got past the hump… aka the first two weeks, it was pretty easy to maintain the routine of eating Breakfast, Lunch, a Snack and Dinner.
Besides learning more about food and food we think might be healthy — this program has been a bit of a shell shock with portion control. We’ve been following the recipe serving sizes to a T – and I will admit the first few dinners, I would look up at B and fake sob asking; “This is it?” But our bodies adjusted over time. There are also a ton of great recipes in this book that we will be pulling in for future breakfasts, lunches and even dinners for us or even if we’re hosting friends/family — so that was a plus.
The other huge part that allowed these 30-days to be a success, which was also in large part of B – was the prepping. We cleaned out the fridge and pantry of bad junk food, yucky condiments, beer and other things we wouldn’t need — so there wouldn’t be any temptations. The second part of planning, was working through meal plans and extensive shopping lists. From there, prepping the foods ahead of time for breakfast to be ready, or for me packing up my meal for the day when we had stuff going on was crucial and didn’t allow any room for error.
My 30 day results
Well the biggest result of the first 30 days, was loosing 15 pounds. Which, I definitely needed to do, especially after a strong year of pandemic living. I lost 2.6% body fat and 1-incharound my chest and 3.5 inches around my waistline. My upper thighs even shrunk by 4-inches within the last two weeks. Also, I think my lingering cough that I was having since November is gone away. *knocks on wood* I’m still waiting to see some of the other physical results, especially as we jump into Phase 2 of fertilizing our guts – so more to come. But I am hopeful and optimistic that this is a lifestyle that we can maintain as well, and hope to reap even more health benefits moving forward. The testimonial stories and research in the book are pretty incredible. I’d also like to preference, all of this weight was lost without working out – this was strictly diet related.
As I mentioned, we’re jumping into Phase 2 – which will be about two weeks. This has a focus on prebiotic and probiotic rich foods focusing on certain fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, wild game and fermented foods. And from there, we’ll go into a final Phase that adds in a bit more food variety! In general, I’ve learned so much and want to continue to learn more about how foods interact with our bodies. In addition to that, continuing to focus on my immune support along with starting to integrate more actual exercise so that I can tone and continue to get into a more balanced and healthy routine. This 30-day jump start is just the beginning!
P.S. I also can’t wait to drink some bubbles and eat a donut!
Happy last Friday of February, aka as the shortest and longest month of the year! Did you start the year off with grandiose fitness plans and then just complete fall flat, like me? I’m here to keep myself accountable and be honest with my readers that I have let my physical health continue fall to the wayside – but I’m going to share with you an inside secret that has helped me flip that around and might be able to help you too.
What is it you might ask? Planning!
It may seem pretty obvious — but there is a whole lot of planning that needs to happen in order to make your goals a reality, whether they’re fitness, life or work related! The first step of planning is outlining those goals, but the next step is how are you going to accomplish them? This is where it can include multiple phases of planning and where my planning fell short.
Here is where my planning fell short in accomplishing my fitness goals — I told myself, “I want to workout tomorrow” — but what I didn’t plan was what workout I was going to do. Was it going to be a run? Was the weather good enough for a run? Was it going to be a yoga class? A circuit workout? I quickly realized, I needed to have that actual workout planned and figured out going into my workout day. This allowed me to look for a workout ahead of time that was attainable, whether I had the proper equipment and how long I needed to plan for.
Since I started doing this – which sadly hasn’t been long – I have been 3 for 6 in my workout days, accomplishing workouts and have a lot of sore, achey muscles! But I know continuing to plan, will only help keep me consistent, on track and one step closer to accomplishing my fitness goals.
Do you make fitness goals? I love making goals each year, and think it’s important to split out personal goals and fitness goals – so we are about to talk 2021 fitness goals! Fitness goals are also super important for our mental health just as much as our physical health — it allows us to take care of our homes, gives us dedicated ‘me time’ and allows us to push ourselves to grow stronger.
Ok, so really quick before we jump into my new fitness goals, I’m going to grade how I did on my 2020 fitness goals. There were two goals that I completely failed at — goal #1: building and maintaining my core strength and goal #4: maintaining healthy food balance. But here are two that I did good with!
Goal #2 = Bootcamp 3X a Week | My Score: B- I was going to rate this as an F, but I looked back at my Streaks app and I didn’t do as horrible as I felt — the workouts weren’t the same, but I was pretty solid for the first 6-7 months keeping a consistent workout routine. The last 5-months of the year, not so much!
Goal #3 = Finish 6 Runs in 2020| My Score: A++ Yes, this one was definitely the priority and easiest one to check off with each race completed. I ran four 5k’s, a 5-miler and a 10-miler race to complete this goal! Each race brought new challenges, no matter the distance, I struggled through the 5-miler, even a 5k — but breezed through the 10-miler, surprisingly with ease. It was a great accomplishment to complete this, gave us something to plan and look forward too even with them being virtual!
Now let’s get to what we are really here to talk about – my new fitness goals for 2021! Learning from my successes and failures, while also understanding the shift my fitness has needed to take over this past year and moving into this one, I’ve pulled together these three to focus on.
Finish 6 Runs in 2021 – including a half-marathon. Plot twist I want to still get at least 6-races in, but want to plan and get a half marathon in this year. I was hoping to do one this past year, but everything got post-poned for the larger, longer runs. B also wants to do this with me, so I’ll have a good running mate (as always) to work to accomplish this one!
Workout 3-4x a week. And for me a workout is at least 30-minutes of sweating, pushing myself and being physically active. I’ve recently purchased a Bosu ball, which allows me to do a lot of different types or workouts a little easier, and I’ve already found a fun Bosu workout on YouTube! I’m also hoping to add a few more hand weights, medicine balls, and step bench to my workout equipment to allow a bit more versatility!
Loose 15-lbs. I really hate goals like this, number goals, but sometimes they’re needed to help kick you in the ass. I know where I’m at, and I know where I should be, where I have been, what is attainable and still healthy — and I’m not there. Through better eating habits and more consistent exercise I plan to hopefully attain this goal, so I can then make a new goal of maintaining (because that might just be harder than loosing the weight!)
Are you making 2021 fitness goals? These goals are good to keep us grounded and focused to work towards the best versions of ourselves.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which I found to be pretty fitting as I’ve had a rollercoaster of anxiety, stress and mixed emotions, this month, about everything happening in our world as time continues to go on — and a few friends I’ve spoken to as well are feeling the same, anxious about doing things we used to never think twice about.
This past week has been tough. I’ve cried a bunch, dealt with my hamster wheel of thoughts and chest pains brought on by my anxiety. Even with all of that I’ve made sure to maintain one thing to help stay physically sound — my workout routine. I’ve even started to do some virtual yoga with some friends on a weekly basis which has been a nice transition into different physical challenges and focused mental breaks.In the midst of my tough week, I stumbled upon a LIVE White House Press Conference, which I don’t tend to watch normally, but I figured I would give a listen. Not long into the conference they transitioned to speaking about the mental health risks and had a Doctor speak about how these stay-at-home orders have and will affect mental health (Start watching at 31:52 – with limited Trump speaking). Her words, echoed fears that I’ve faced with slow interactions of getting back to ‘normal’ — I’ve feared that my anxiety is going to be amplified to the point that I may need to take medicine to just do everyday things, like traveling or visiting with friends/family — medicine is something I personally try to avoid, but understand it helps many people and glad that people utilize it to manage their stress/anxiety. I’ve feared that some of us might come out worse, than we went in, that maybe we won’t all be okay right away.
So if you’ve been struggling like me, I wanted to share some tips from the CDC for mental health, and specifically for mental health awareness month:
I would like to add, another way of seeking helping, it’s to talk about how you’re feeling with trusted family and friends. I’ve found that just sharing that I’ve feeling anxious and not great, takes those feelings out a bit, so they aren’t just pent up inside of me. The state of Ohio has started to open things up, and the walls are starting to come down, which has led us to face how we even just interact with some family that has caused some doubts, questions and unsure feelings.
I hope these 60+ days of ‘quarantine’ don’t lead to an ever life changing bout of increased anxiety for myself or others, but we just have to remember to take care of ourselves and listen to our bodies and minds when we’re not feeling okay. Stress and anxiety can really affect our physical state without us knowing — so pause and check-in with yourself and even others.
Hi Bees! Looking back at last month’s Fitness Friday, we were just a week into quarantine, and the news of settling in and adjusting our lives and fitness routines accordingly was fresh and still settling in. Now it is very much a reality and further adjusting has been a continuous journey as each of the days passes. So now the real question — have you totally rocked your fitness routine or have you completely stumped it?
For me, I’ve been sticking to my workout routine pretty well — it’s of course been different, not as intense and shorter some days than others but I’m sticking to getting my days in. I missed a few days at the beginning of the month because I was having some bad medication side effects I was dealing with, but once I figured that out I was back in commission. I have even gotten a few runs in this month and pushing myself to slowly increase my mileage – this has been nice to get some extra calories burned!
One of my biggest hurdles is my new WFH gym. I have one kettle bell weighing in at 25lbs, one hand weight at 10lbs, a jump rope (that I can only use outside) and a yoga mat. I tried to order to hand weights early in the pandemic for in-store pick-up at Target, but those quickly sold out, hence after I ordered two — only one was available *face palm* So I’ve been reliant on body-weight and cardio based workouts and my runs when the weather is decent. Anyone else the same?
Now for some real talk. I’ve been able to maintain a pretty positive outlook through all of this — but this week I hit a wall. Wednesday was tough. It was a long work day, I had intentionally pushed my workout to the evening — but by the time the day wrapped up I had no interest in working out. I wanted to cry. I was feeling on an island, feeling drained, and uninspired. So I sat and stared out the window for a bit, ate a pretzel stick and four animal crackers and debated with myself in my head. I finally got up, made myself go to my basement gym, put my sneakers on and queue up a 36-minute cardio workout. I’m glad I made myself workout, I needed it. I felt about 80% better, but it was definitely better than crying and feeling sorry for myself — although I know we all need those moments sometimes.
Luckily, my Coach is still sharing and posting lots of free workouts on his YouTube Channel so if you’re looking for something new be sure to check out his page! I have also done some virtual yoga with my dear friend from Yogatta Give Back— she is hosting a donation based session every Tuesday. Finally, I’ve seen that through sharing my workouts and talking with friends/family we’ve all sort of kept each other motivated knowingly or not — so share your struggles and share your successes because you just might inspire someone to go for a run!