I have let my strength training pretty much slide right off the map as of late. I got so tired of feeling sore ALL THE TIME. Now, I understand that muscle soreness for one or two days after a workout is a good sign; it means that you are actually accomplishing your goal - building muscle. And for almost a year and a half I looked forward to that post workout soreness. But I have one of those bodies that does not gain muscle easily or noticeably. I could tell I was stronger, but I was the only one who could tell a difference.
Upper body strength has always been something I lacked. I was very active and athletic as a child, and played a few sports in school and college. I even looked forward to the President’s Physical Fitness Tests - remember those? I passed all the running, jumping, climbing, sit-upping, everything except that upper body torture, I mean, hang, that the girls had to do. The boys were lucky and just did a few chin-ups. We had to hold our chins above that chin-up bar for close to 20 seconds. It was torture. And I always failed.
I do like feeling stronger, and even enjoy pumping the iron. But there are times, like now, when I need a little inspiration That’s when I head to Krista’s weights. This is, er, a brassy little website chock full of information on weight lifting for women. There is the occasional descriptive profanity, so if that offends you, you have been forewarned. I especially like the section on “mistressing the push-up” and how to gradually train yourself to execute one, or several, to perfection.
Now I don’t know if I’ll ever be a “guerilla grrrl of the gym”, but it is nice to use any inspiration I can get to keep me, my muscles, and bones (yes, perimenopause is definitely here) in the best of health.
One of my family’s favorite recipes from Cook Right is “Green Leafy Pasta”. Although the recipe calls for leeks, spinach and swiss chard, we often substitute many other vegetables, as long as they are green, such as kale, broccoli, zucchini, and the like. This has forced us to rename the recipe from “Green Leafy Pasta” to “Green Crap”, only you have to rrroll your rrr’s in your best Irish brogue: Grrrreen Crrrrap - like that. Now I don't mean 'crap' in a vulgar sense, more like something discombobulated, malfunctional, or, in this instance, something that does not really look appetizing but very much is. I now have so many altered recipes that end with “crap” that my husband says I should publish a cookbook and call it Kristin’s Krap Kooking!
For this version of “Grrreen Crrrap” I found some delectable Bright Lights swiss chard, that has various jewel tones in the stems of red, yellow, orange, and white - so pretty! I also found my favorite variety of kale - lacinato - which is a lovely forest green, has such an interesting bumpily texture, and a delicate kale flavor. It is a perfect addition to this dish. Alas, there weren’t any organic leeks available, which I prefer, so I used a sliced yellow onion instead. Of course, sliced fresh garlic is a must, and since my garlic sensitivity developed, I have been avoiding garlic. But it is easy to pick out when sliced and does not seem to bother me much in this dish. All sautéed in a generous amount of olive oil and voilà!! A very easy pasta sauce suitable for all blood types.
We use a combo of spelt and rice pasta, cooked together in the same pot for our spaghetti, and I like to top the “Grrreen Crrrap” with crumbled sheep’s milk feta. Ahhh...so good and good for you!
Enjoy!! And remember to rrroll your rrr’s.
Yesterday, I was hiking/walking in one of my favorite places. In Autumn, the skies turn a brilliant shade of azure in Colorado, the sun feels warm and tingly rather than the penetrating death rays of summer, and the air is so clear, it seems you can just reach out and touch the mountains. The Peak had a heavy dusting of snow from a storm the previous day and against that sky makes for a dazzling western horizon.
As I was walking along, thoroughly enjoying my time out-of-doors, I began thinking about SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. I suffered from SAD for many years before moving to Colorado. I grew up in Michigan and underneath perpetually gray winter skies, gray slush in the streets, gray snow for weeks, grayness everywhere. I felt inundated by gray in winter.
I remember once in college, skipping all my classes one day off on a mission to find color. I was determined to find some color in all that gray. I roamed my little college town for hours before I began seeing hints of color here and there. And it was certainly a stretch to see even that.
Upon moving to Colorado in the mid 80’s, I recall the experience of suddenly realizing that here it was, in the middle of January, and I wasn’t even slightly depressed. I wondered why. I looked around me; it had just dumped a foot of snow the night before but the skies were brilliantly blue, the snow already melting off the streets (never any gray slush here), the Flatirons and foothills were sparkling with the new snow against the sky, and I realized it had to be the light. The light was why I wasn’t depressed. It was then I had another realization - I had suffered from SAD since a teenager and never even knew it.
So, just what is Seasonal Affective Disorder? Also known as Winter Depression, it is a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortage of daylight hours and lack of sunlight in Winter. Also, melatonin secreted by the pineal gland in the brain has been linked to SAD. Symptoms generally begin in the Fall, peak in Winter, and resolve in the Spring. Some of the most common symptoms are oversleeping, fatigue, cravings for carbs and sweets, weight gain (hmm... how could that be?), depression, and loss of libido, among others. A weakened immune system is often seen in people suffering from SAD.
Alas and alack, as I am getting older, I have seen symptoms of SAD returning, even though I live where there is bright light in the Winter...until 4:00 in the afternoon when the sun falls behind the mountains and darkness descends. So what to do? I take light baths on warm sunny afternoons, but perhaps you live in a place where it is gray and cold. Full spectrum light helps, and there are many sources on light therapy and how to do it. Following the Blood Type Diet is crucial as well, being watchful of carbs and emphasizing beneficial meats, dairy, veggies and fruit. I notice my symptoms lessen with a high degree of compliance: very difficult around the holidays, I know. Maintaining your exercise program throughout the winter is equally as important as eating well, too.
But really, if I could name the number one mood elevator in my life it would be: creativity.
Harold, did she really say creativity?
Yes, yes I did.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking; you’re saying to yourself, “Well, I’m not at all creative” and you almost have yourself convinced of that too. Almost.
Creative doesn’t necessarily mean artistic. You can be creative in the way you prepare a meal, playful silliness with your child or spouse, the appreciation of a sunrise or a moving piece of music, dancing with abandon when no one is watching, belting out a torch song driving in the car, telling a loved one how much you enjoy their presence in your life. I have started taking my sketchbook along on my hikes and taking a few minutes to stop and do a few gesture drawings. Now, a visual artist I am not. But I do enjoy sketching, and drawing out in nature really helps me to see what I am seeing; I gain a greater understanding of it by taking the time to really observe. And let me tell you, my drawings are not anything I would ever show anybody. But, they help me keep my creative spirit alive.
So, I challenge you to find time in your life to express your own, unique self through your creativity. Even just 15 minutes a day will make a difference. If you are stumped for ideas, Nina Wise has a book called “A Big, New, Free, Happy, Unusual Life”. Ya gotta love a book with a title like that. She is a performance artist and teacher of improvisation, there are many exercises and info in the book to get you started.
Fifteen minutes a day. Are you with me?
I’m looking forward to feeling great all the way through the approaching dark season.
When my first son was born, we were seeing a friendly D.O. for our family’s healthcare. My son was born in a hospital, which was not our plan, and I relied on our doctor to help navigate us through that experience. It was quite a brutal experience, actually, largely due to the prejudices the local medical community held toward homebirth families at the time. When I took my son in to our doctor for a bilirubin check due to jaundice, my doctor looked him over casually and said he was fine. When I asked about the lack of a more thorough exam, my doctor replied that he rarely has any concerns with homebirth families in his practice since, in his experience, they take responsibility for their health.
At the time I thought, “Well, gosh, doesn’t everybody?” I know now that not everybody does. I find that rather shocking, especially amongst my friends who run to their MD’s for every little sniffle, constantly taking OTC medications and prescriptions for everything under the sun. Always trying to knock out symptoms. Rarely inquiring into the origins of their discomforts. And always failing to take responsibility for their health.
One of the things I love about the BTD community is that we DO take responsibility for our health. We are some of the most informed, knowledgeable people I know, especially in the area of health and wellness. I am constantly amazed at our willingness to keep learning, not to mention putting it all into practice.
In case you haven’t yet heard, Dr. D’Adamo has reassembled an incredible new message board. There are several forums available and everyone is invited to share their experience with others, learn something new, and grow together as a BTD community. Here’s the link
Come join us...
P.S. Since you asked... Some of you have requested the Turkey Rice Soup I mentioned a while back so here it is:
Turkey Rice Soup is my favorite reason for cooking a turkey. I most often make it the day after Thanksgiving, or any day in which we are lucky enough to have turkey leftovers. It is an adaptation of my mother's chicken soup recipe.
First, I take the leftover carcass and place in a large stock pot and fill with water to make the stock. I add a few bay leaves and sometimes peppercorns and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 1-2 hours. Any leftover meat usually falls off the carcass. After simmering, I remove the carcass and skin, and take out any large pieces of turkey meat.
While the meat is cooling, I skim the oil off stock and add about 1 to 2 cups of brown rice or brown and wild rice mixed (wild rice is an avoid for B secretors), 1 large onion, chopped, a couple chopped carrots and chopped stalks of celery, several cloves of sliced garlic,and about 1 to 2 teaspoons of celery seed to the stock pot. After the meat has cooled from the carcass, I cut that into smaller pieces and add that to the soup along with any other leftover turkey meat I want to add - usually lots because I like my soup meaty. Simmer until the rice and veggies are cooked, usually about 2 hours or so. Season with salt and serve.
This makes alot of soup! so I always freeze some for future use. It is great to have homemade soup on hand when feeling under the weather and all you have to do is heat it up.
As the morning air has settled into cold, brisk, and autumnal, it is now time for warm breakfasts. This is my all time favorite meal of the day; I love hot breakfasts. And since I work primarily at home, I get the luxury of not having to rush out the door most mornings. Today, I made a lovely porridge out of steel cut oats cooked in milk and water with apples, dried blueberries, vanilla, nutmeg, maple syrup, and salt. So nourishing in the cool mornings.
My boys did not have school today, so after grocery shopping I decided to take them out for lunch. I let them decide on a locale, which was, of course, the neighborhood dive. I had a turkey club sandwich and forgot to tell them to hold the ham. I did take the ham off the sandwich...Ok, I took the ham off after I had a couple of bites and realized the taste of deli ham was not worth the price of eating an avoid. The tomatoes were the first to come off. I did eat the tasty walnut bread it came on, though.
I am now headed out to dig up some carrots from the garden for dinner. I cooked a leg of lamb last night and I always make Apple-Curry Lamb Stew from "Cook Right" with the leftovers. It is my favorite recipe from that book. The new carrots lightly steamed will go nicely with that dish. But the real reason for harvesting the carrots is because my boys are playing outside and I just want to be in their company. Even though I sometimes tire of living surrounded by males, I know the day will come all too soon when they will move ahead into their own lives. For now, I choose to relish in their peals of laughter.
I guess I’m pretty lucky that I so enjoy being in the presence of my children.