New Burger Joint
Next Level Burger was a new eating experience that surprised us with its concept and the taste of its burgers.
Last Saturday my husband, two sons and I, made a spontaneous trip to Portland to watch the State Championship lacrosse game. We knew that we would need to grab a quick dinner before the game. Therefore, before we left home I did a Google search for healthy restaurants close to the game venue (West Linn High School). In my last post, 4 STEPS ON HOW TO EAT HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING, I explained how doing a little research ahead of time saves us a lot of angst and frustration when it comes time to find a healthy place to eat. Although there were several options, Next Level Burger best fit our time and location constraints. Additionally, it is a burger joint and my guys were all over that!
Next Level Burger
Next Level Burger has the philosophy that food should be sustainably sourced, organic, non-GMO and delicious and that spoke to me. Looking at a photo of their menu board online we saw traditional to unique burger choices. Descriptive words like “savory meaty patty” and “juicy sausage style patty” appealed to my guys. A place concerned with the quality of their ingredients surely could tell me what has or doesn’t have soy in its ingredients. So, we left Bend with our dinner destination agreed upon.
With stomachs growling we pulled into the parking lot. The guys were looking forward to the burgers ( I think they were starting to salivate) and I just wanted a soy, gluten, and dairy free meal.
Expectations Shot Down With a Single Word
The cheerful woman behind the counter greeted us with a lively “hello” and asked, “Are you familiar with Next Level Burger?” We must have looked like deer in headlights as we were scanning the menu board above the counter. We shook our heads, “No, this is our first time.” She jumped all over that and quickly said, “We are 100% vegan. Let me tell you about our burgers…” Wait, What? Vegan? This was not what my guys had their taste buds set on.
Describing their burgers with words like “meaty and “juicy” made it harder to comprehend the vegan part. Her enthusiasm was evident in how she deciphered the entire menu for us. Although, I think she lost Rikley and Keaton at “vegan”.
Try Something New
Without time to come up with a plan B, we were willing to try something new even if it wasn’t at all what we had envisioned. Besides, we have cut our meat consumption at home considerably and have been enjoying many vegan meals. Rob and the boys placed their orders for burgers with sweet potato fries.
I consulted with the woman helping us, explaining my dietary restrictions, and chose a quinoa-black chia seed patty on a bed of lettuce. No bun, no tempeh smokey bacon and no egg-free mayo. She asked if I wanted NL-cheese on my burger. I quickly said, “No dairy, thank you.” She immediately reminded me of the whole vegan thing. Was it the three plus hour drive we made to get there or my grumbling stomach that was making it so hard for me to understand that the ENTIRE menu, even the shakes, is vegan?
Long Story Short
Here is the quick synopsis:
- We were traveling (again).
- A Google search led us to a healthy, organic, burger joint called Next Level Burger.
- To our surprise it turned out to be a vegan restaurant.
- We ate our vegan burgers in the car before the lacrosse game.
- Filling and flavorful the burgers were completely devoured without a single complaint. Not a single crumb was left in the compostable take out boxes.
- I was much happier without a greasy burger. In retrospect, my only regret is that I was pressed for time and couldn’t savor it while I ate.
- The sweet potato fries were some of the best I’ve ever had.
- I am eager and the guys are willing to try again.
Next Level Burger wants to redefine the classic American burger experience. Therefore, if you are looking to increase your intake of plant-based foods then Next Level Burger is the place to go. This particular NLB is inside the 365 by Whole Foods concept store in Lake Oswego, Oregon. In addition, you can also find them on SE Hawthorne Street in Portland, and opening in August at Roosevelt Square in Seattle. Lucky for us, their flagship store opened almost three years ago in Bend. So, we may have another opportunity to try Next Level Burger in the near future.
My meal was very satisfying, and I will definitely go again. Maybe I’ll try one of their beautiful salads or a different kind of patty. Committed to “good food, good people and good for the planet” this place speaks to me. My guys liked their meals and would try it again knowing ahead of time that they won’t be eating a beef burger.
Don’t Judge A Burger By Its Vegetables
There is a moral to this story. Veering out of your food comfort zone can lead you to a new experience with a tasty outcome and a healthy alternative to a familiar food.
*Full disclosure: I didn’t take any pictures of our burgers or experience. All of the photos in this post were curated from Instagram.
Is it Possible to Eat Healthy While Traveling?
As we go into the biggest traveling time of the year, the question for many is, how can I eat healthy while traveling. Perhaps the most trying part of traveling is finding a healthy meal? It isn’t always easy and it can be stressful when you are traveling with others who are hungry and just want to eat NOW! I’ve found 4 steps to help me succeed.
If you have read my About page you’ll know that I don’t tolerate soy. It’s an intolerance not an allergy, but nonetheless eating something with a soy based ingredient will make my stomach cramped, bloated, and gassy. It is uncomfortable at any time, but when traveling it is even worse. Along with soy there are some food additives that can trigger a headache or create stomach discomfort. Nitrates in processed meats and artificial sweeteners are two of those additives. In addition I have a goal, for myself and my family, to eat for optimal health. When you take into consideration convenience, time constraints and sticking to a budget you can see how the goal to eat healthy while traveling can be illusive.
There are two major roadblocks to eating well on the road or in the air. Number one is time. Taking time out to sit down and order a meal when you are on a long drive, and you just want to get to your destination isn’t ideal. Most of the time when we are on a long road trip, we want to refuel our stomachs and gas tanks in one stop. For the most part fast food restaurants and gas stations will have little to no soy-free options and don’t meet the goal of eating for optimal health. Number two is the lack of availability of healthy real foods. If you struggle with similar issues when you travel I hope that my 4 steps on how to eat healthy while traveling is helpful.
4 Steps on how to Eat Healthy While Traveling
Below are the steps that I use to find a healthy meal or snack when traveling.
1. Be Committed
Make sure you are clear on your eating goals before you embark on your trip. It could be to not eat any fried foods, include a fresh vegetable with each meal, or drink only water until you reach your destination. You might have, like me, certain ingredients that wreak havoc on your digestive system. In that case, your goal will be to avoid foods containing the culprit ingredients. It is also important that your travel partners are aware of your goals and willing to make some accommodations so that you are successful.
Last spring Rob, Keaton and I were on a ski/college visitation road trip to Utah and Montana. We arrived in Eden, Utah, hungry and tired after a long day on the road, and found a family owned Mexican restaurant. As is typical in Mexican restaurants, they set chips and salsa on the table as soon as we sat down. I always ask what oil is used for frying the tortilla chips. If I’m lucky it’s corn or canola. However, soybean oil is cheap and is often the oil of choice for frying.
I wasn’t lucky this time because as I was questioning the waiter he let me know that soybean oil is added to their salsa and every dish on the menu. There was one exception; guacamole. Now, I love guacamole, and they let me bring in the bag of tortilla chips we had in the car, but the hot meals that Rob and Keaton ate looked and smelled delicious. Then again, who wouldn’t want free liberty to eat an entire order of guacamole by themselves?
the Wasatch Mountains in Utah
2. Be Prepared
Prepare ahead of time if you want to eat healthy while traveling and avoid feeling poorly. I always carry raw nuts and seeds, dried sulfate-free fruits and a couple limited ingredient protein bars like RxBars and Lara Bars. These bars can always replace a meal when I can’t find something suitable. They are great on an airplane in place of the salty & oily snack packs of nuts, pretzels etc… the flight attendants give out. They are also more favorable than the expensive pre-packed “meals” you can purchase.
You will have greater options when traveling by car especially if you will be staying in a hotel with a small refrigerator. I like to pack an insulated bag with some hummus, carrot & celery sticks, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, my Pre-Run Energy Cookies, or homemade muffins like the Super Hero Muffins from Run Fast Eat Slow. In addition to the cooler bag, I’ll have a bag with an assortment of the same food items that I take on flights along with a bag of granola as a breakfast option. I love this particular granola because it is gluten and soy-free, and it doesn’t have added sugar. I can only find it in store at our local Market of Choice, but it is available to order on Amazon. Being prepared means I won’t starve, and I can supplement a meal if necessary.
Finally, I also prepare for the just in case situation where I inadvertently eat something that causes stomach pains. I have found that Traditional Medicinals makes a line of organic digestive teas. The Belly Comfort (formerly Eater’s Digest), Gas Relief and Ginger Aid teas are all in my arsenal. They are soothing and helpful. I feel much better sipping on tea than I do about popping an OTC medication like Tums, Rolaids or Prilosec into my mouth. Those come with side effects that I don’t want to deal with. I prefer to first follow the Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
3. Know How to Hunt
When we have time to sit down and order at the table we have learned to search Google for “healthy restaurants in(city name)” or “vegetarian restaurants in (city name).” Both of these searches will usually generate a top 10 list through Yelp or TripAdvisor. We have had a lot of luck with this method. This is how we were able to enjoy fabulous meals at:
- Market on Front in Missoula, MT
- Mizuna in Spokane, WA
a vegetarian meal of field roast and chipotle tomato sauce on top of Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes
- Simple Food Group in Lake Geneva, WI
beautiful seasonal frittata, the perfect meal for a post 7-mile lake side run
- Shine in Boulder, CO
slaw made with kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots and quinoa topped with wild smoked salmon
I just discovered eatwellguide.org. This is a website where you can input a city and it will generate a list of recommended restaurants. “The Eat Well Guide® is a curated directory of over 25,000 hand-picked restaurants, farms, markets and other sources of local, sustainable food throughout the US”. The next time we are looking for a restaurant, grocery store or farmer’s market in an unfamiliar place I will remember to use this website. It could even help find new options in your home town.
Grocery stores can offer a hunting ground when nothing else works. There have been times when my guys will grab a fast burger with fries, and I’ll walk through a grocery store and come out with a tub of hummus, a box of acceptable crackers and some fresh fruit.
Sometimes you have to be patient and hunt a little harder. One night, intent on a pizza dinner, four of us went into three Italian restaurants before finding one that made their pizza crust and sauce without soybean oil.
It’s exciting to discover a gem. My idea of a gem is a restaurant that is allergen savvy. It will use fresh locally sourced ingredients when possible and have a menu full of healthy options. These are safe havens for me. Bushel & Peck’s in Beloit, Wisconsin is such a place. With Rikley attending College in Beloit we visited 1-2 times a year to watch him play soccer and lacrosse. Bushel & Pecks’ was the place I knew I could get a breakfast, lunch or dinner and not only would it be soy-free, but it also checked the box next to “eat healthy while traveling”. We would eat here two times a day if needed. This is what I will miss most about Beloit now that Rikley has graduated and we won’t be visiting again.
4. Stay Calm and Make the Best of It
Occasionally things just don’t workout the way you hope. While traveling across country last September with my sister, we stopped at an Amish restaurant in rural Minnesota. We were hungry and ready for a break, however the choices were slim. I ordered a grilled tomato-basil and cheese sandwich. I waited in hungry anticipation for a golden-grilled sandwich, cheese melting out from the sides and a stack of tomatoes and basil in-between. Imagine my disappointment when a slightly browned sandwich with two square pieces of Kraft cheese, that hadn’t melted, a slice of tomato and a basil leaf was set down in front of me. This was one of those times when my stash of nuts and a protein bar came in handy.
One stop on our road-trip from Portland, Oregon to Beloit, Wisconsin. I had lots of creative meals along the way.
A couple of weeks ago we had time to get dinner in Chicago before our flight home. We chose an Italian restaurant where we hoped to get a deep dish pizza. Unfortunately for me, the pizza dough had soybean oil in it. I opted for a dinner size salad with olive oil and vinegar on the side. My salad didn’t smell or look as good as the deep dish pizza my sister and husband were eating. However, it was a healthier choice and I didn’t have a belly ache on the flight home!
the Buckinghams in front of the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago
Let your waiter know your food or diet restrictions. Most of the time they are very accommodating and can help you find something on the menu you can eat. Look for options that aren’t fried, are made without creamy sauces and come with fresh vegetables. Thank them for their help. Last Friday with the help of my server at Immersion Brewery I had a delicious roasted sweet potato and beet salad with quinoa. They switched out the dressing for me and left off the cheese.
Food For Thought
It is possible to eat healthy while traveling. However it takes some forethought, dedication, patience and sometimes a sense of humor. Finally, there’s the time when we arrived in Chicago well past our dinner time. There was a TGIF’s at our hotel. The menu had icons to indicate the allergens in each dish. While this was very helpful, after searching the extensive menu, I found only two options; clam chowder and steamed broccoli. I ordered both, put the broccoli in the chowder, and had a meal that filled me.
As more and more of you follow these steps and ask for more real food options, I hope companies will make it easier to live a healthful lifestyle while we travel. I love the mission statement from Bushel & Peck’s and would like to see more places like this.
Do you try to eat healthy while traveling? What experiences have you had trying to eat healthy while traveling?
Milestones and Stages
We tend to measure our children’s lives in milestones and stages. Often we are wishing for a certain stage to conclude (think terrible twos) or hoping the current stage never ends. However, it is the milestones that we really celebrate. Events like the first day of school or getting a driving permit or when they take their first step, start using the toilet, and lose their first tooth are all celebrated in a big or small way. There are the “big” birthdays; 1, 10, 13, 16, 18 and 21 that have a bit more weight or importance than others. However, we put our heart and soul into making every childhood birthday special and memorable. Finally, we celebrate graduations from kindergarten, sometimes eighth grade, high school and college. When you get to the college graduation you realize that this amazing child of yours has made it through all of the childhood stages and milestones. From now on the milestones are adult level: marriage, turning 30, first house or first baby. This may make you feel old, but don’t let it make you act old!
Sugar River in Shirland, Illinois
A Big Milestone to Celebrate
On May 14th we celebrated our oldest son’s college graduation. It was a big milestone and worthy of all the pomp and circumstance. I didn’t even mind that it took center stage to Mother’s Day. This was Rikley’s day and a day for his parents, grandmother, aunt and brother to cheer him on as he strode across the stage and accepted his diploma. All of his success has been a direct result of his effort. As a side note, for Mother’s Day, I was given a fabulous new cookbook. I’ve tried three of the recipes and would make them again. Run Fast Eat Slow is written by two runners and is full of nourishing recipes. The recipe for their Superhero Muffins is reason enough to buy the cookbook. They promote it as “nourishing recipes for athletes” but I would consider the recipes to be nourishing for anyone who is wanting to add delicious real food to their diet.
Kale & Radicchio Salad with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts. Recipes came from Run Fast Eat Slow.
What? No Waterfall?
Back to graduation. Before the ceremony began Keaton asked me if I was going to cry. It’s a fair question because I’m known to cry over everything and anything. Any emotion, whether it is sad or happy, can cause tears to well up in my eyes. Shoot, I’ve even cried watching coffee commercials. My guys just laugh, shake their heads and say, “Mom’s crying again.” But, back to Keaton’s question. The tears clouding my vision on this beautiful spring day were from the joy I felt as Rikley took his diploma in his left hand and shook the college president’s hand with his right. Then I wondered why it was so different from his high school graduation?
The Difference Between Then and Now
Four years ago I was wiping tears from my eyes for two months. All at once it came to me. High school graduation is the end of a big childhood stage. It’s the stage that most parents never want to come to an end. Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and do it all over again? I would repeat the last 19 years in a heart beat if I could. This is the stage that starts with your child’s birth and ends when they’ll no longer be living full-time in your home. College is a short four-year stage that flies by. Nonetheless, college graduation is a triumphant milestone that proceeds new beginnings and adventures as your child begins a new stage of adulthood. Additionally, it is the end of tuition payments and that is certainly worth celebrating, right? Perhaps one other small factor to the absence of a river gushing down my cheek is knowing that my boy is coming back to Oregon where he will pursue his doctorate degree in physics at Oregon State University. One hundred thirty miles away is so much better than two thousand seventy-eight miles!
Age is Irrelevant
I wonder how it is possible that I am old enough to be the mother of a college graduate? Of course age is “just a number.” What is important is how you feel inside and out, and this comes down to the choices we make every day. I refuse to think myself “old”. Think young and stay young. Some people stay young at heart, playful and physically active. They keep their brain and body engaged in activities they enjoy. Furthermore, they participate in social engagements and belong to groups. I seriously believe that this is what has kept my mother so young. She chooses to stay socially engaged and to keep herself mobile.
When my boys were small little bumpkins crawling and playing with toys on the floor Mom would get down there with them. She said to me, “I just want them to remember me.” You have to understand that she was 75 at the time. So, it was a justified fear of hers that she might die before they had time to accumulate enough memories of her. Well, she is now 94 and they have a treasure trove of memories to look back on and remember what a remarkable Nana they have. One memory they will never forget was the day they were playing golf with her and she got her first hole-in-one! It was just the three of them and they watched the ball she hit from the tee roll right up to and into the hole. Mom continued to play golf until she was 91, getting one more hole-in-one before she quit. She still gets out 3 days a week to play bridge with friends, walks up the street to get her mail, goes to Book Club once a month, drives herself to get groceries, goes to the library to check out more books, meets with friends for dinner on Thursday nights… She does all of this even though her knee aches, it takes more time to get ready and she tires more quickly. My mom is my role model.
Nana has been there every Christmas morning of their life.
Milestones to Come
This is why I want to stay healthy and fit. I want to be able to get down on the floor and play with my grandchildren. I want to take them on hikes, play games, and chase them around a playground. However, that stage is years away, so I think I will savor the stage my boys are in right now. I know that I am taking care of myself not only so I can run, ski and hike with my family now but to ensure that I can still do those things twenty years from now. Choosing to eat real food (not processed) and choosing to exercise is my insurance for a healthy future. Be thankful for the milestones and celebrate them. However, don’t forget that what we do now will determine how we will enjoy all the future milestones.
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I’m So Grateful For My Son
I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. As we head into Mother’s Day weekend I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be the mother of two brilliant boys. However this post is about my baby who turns 19 today. All parents will say, “Where did the time go?” and wish to turn back the clock. How is it possible that the cute little cherub who completed our family is 19 years old? So, while I miss my little boy I realize how lucky I have been to be present in his life and experience all of the changes with him.
I am excited because our family is together on his birthday. Not only are we celebrating the start of Keaton’s last year as a teenager and Mother’s Day, but we are in Beloit, Wisconsin for Rikley’s college graduation. So, I’m grateful that we get to be with our baby on his 19th birthday to celebrate him. Keaton, we would have missed out on so much joy in our lives without you. You have given me so much to be grateful for. Happy Birthday!
I am grateful for this baby who captured my heart on the 12th of May and slept in my arms all sweet and warm.
I am grateful for this baby with the dimple on his cheek and a spark in his eye.
I am grateful for this toddler whose laughter was frequent and filled our home with beautiful noise.
I am grateful for this happy little boy so full of humor and positive energy who loved to be silly.
I am grateful for this boy who adapted to change with ease and was eager to try new things.
I am grateful for all the fun moments we’ve shared that led to the beautiful memories I cherish.
I am grateful for every hug I received from this strong and lovable kid.
I am grateful for this competitive and skillful athlete whom I have been blessed to watch and call my son.
I am grateful for this secure and wise young man who loves his family.
I am grateful for this son of mine who grew into an ambitious, admirable and compassionate man. As I reflect back through the years watching him grow and change into the remarkable and confident person he is today, my heart is full.
Keaton, this is one of my favorite birthday pictures of you. It was your second birthday and you were so excited for your cake. You couldn’t wait to blow out the candles and once you did we had to relight them so you could do it again and again. Thank you for all the fun memories that I will hold onto forever.
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We’re Leaving Las Vegas
Actually, we left Las Vegas and I’m here to tell all. It was a nice change of pace for us, a re-set for body and mind. For three weeks we were able to focus on nutrition, fitness, and business. Rob and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with my sister and her two dogs, Zoe and Zeus. It certainly didn’t hurt that for a good two plus weeks the skies were blue and the temperatures ranged between 85-93 degrees.
Even though I was ready to ditch the suitcases and get settled into our new home in Bend, I was sad when it came time to pack, load the car, and say goodbye to Chris.
As you know, I’m working towards becoming a health coach. I offered to help my sister on a “reboot.” She wanted to become healthier, and I wanted to help someone become healthier. And on a side note, our condo in Bend would not be available until the first of April. So, off to Vegas we went.
I arrived in Vegas, or more accurately Henderson, with one simple question. Would a plant based, “real” food nutrition program help someone feel better, have more energy, and lose weight?
Nutrition with Real Food
My primary goal was to guide my sister on a path to better nutrition and to help her feel better by preparing three real food meals every day. When I say “real food” I am talking about foods that are in their most natural state possible without added sugar, preservatives, or artificial ingredients and with the least amount of human intervention. At the end of three weeks I hoped that Chris would notice a big enough difference in how she felt that she would be motivated to continue eating real foods.
In addition, the stresses of moving had thrown us off course. We were eating out more frequently, consuming fewer fresh veggies, unwinding at the end of the day with a glass of wine or a pint of beer, and my coffee consumption had doubled. Rob wanted to shed a few pounds and I secretly thought I could get him to change a few of his eating habits. I knew we needed a course correction.
Zeus vs Penny
I wasn’t sure we would be able to stay after our first night there. Zeus, a seven year old lab-shepherd mix, was overly rambunctious in his welcome. He was so excited to meet Penny, our small Silky Terrier, that he wouldn’t leave her alone. She was not amused and told him off quite firmly. He cried and scratched at the locked door for hours that first night. In the morning he was pouncing on Penny and chasing her all around. She lashed out and caught Zeus’s ear in her teeth. Even with blood dripping from his ear he was not deterred. As Chris left for work she said, “Please don’t drive back to Oregon today while I’m at work.” I took Penny and Zeus for a walk. With both of them on leashes and the distraction of smelling they pretty much ignored each other for the hour. When we got back to the house they were fine and soon settled on a way to coexist. It’s a good thing they did, because I did not want to leave.
My basic plan was to hydrate first thing in the morning, prepare three meals a day, include healthy snacks, and educate and motivate with video documentaries each night after dinner. I used the recipes that came with the 21-Day Food Matters Program found on the membership site FMTV. A membership also gives you access to a plethora of documentaries, recipes, yoga videos, and extended interviews. There is a wealth of information available for $9.95 a month. I felt that the motivation and education was worth it. It’s like Netflix for health-related documentaries that cover topics like:
•Food & Nutrition
•Detox & Weight Loss
•Depression & Anxiety
•Mind & Body
We started each morning with 12 ounces of lemon water. Our bodies need hydration after sleeping and before consuming anything else. Since lemons were also an ingredient in some of the recipes we probably used 60 lemons in three weeks. I wished that I had a lemon tree like my nephew has in California. Although it is recommended to abstain from coffee while on the 21-day program, I didn’t think we had to go through caffeine withdrawals to achieve the goals I wanted.
I brought my Vitamix with me and used it five mornings a week to make green smoothies for our breakfasts. There was a smoothie recipe in the 21 Day Program and I got inspiration from Simple Green Smoothies, but most mornings the smoothie was my own concoction. My basic formula is 2 cups liquid, 2 large handfuls of greens, a scoop of plant based protein, a greens powder that includes spirulina and chlorella, a healthy fat like coconut oil, 1-2 cups of frozen fruit. This is Chris’s favorite smoothie.
2 cups coconut water
2 cups greens (spinach and/or kale)
1/2 TBS coconut oil
1-2 pitted dates
1 peeled orange
1 scoop (~ 2TBS) plant based protein powder or hemp seeds
2 tsp green powder like Sun Food Sun is Shining
Blend until smooth and then add
1/2 -3/4 cup frozen pineapple and
1 frozen banana
Blend again until smooth
To make menu planning easy I used the Food Matters 21 Day Program for our lunch, dinner and weekend breakfast recipes. I used my menu planning sheets to map out our weekly meals and create a grocery list. After my first trip to Whole Foods I learned that I would need to shop twice a week. There wasn’t any way to fit all of the produce for an entire week into Chris’s fridge. I found that using two different colors of ink helped me know what to buy for the first half of the week and what to buy mid week.
Lunch, Dinner & Snacks
I packed a lunch for Chris to take to work with her each day. Mason jars made an easy to-go container for salads. The dinner recipes were easy to make and, with the exception of the chicken soup, took less than 30-45 minutes. We had our favorites, but everything was tasty. We enjoyed a large variety of fresh, colorful vegetables. The salad dressings, hummus and gluten-free bread were all made from scratch. We incorporated nuts, seeds, quinoa, beans and brown rice into our meals to complement the vegetables.
Off to work with her lunch bag.
What was Different?
Before I arrived this was Chris’s typical meal plan:
Breakfast – Cereal and banana
Snack – can of onion soup
Lunch – Salad or frozen Lean Cuisine
Snack – nuts or hummus with crackers
Dinner – 1 or 2 frozen lean Cuisine
Snack – peanut or almond butter or lemon cookies
Breakfast – tuna sandwich and raspberries or left-over pizza
Lunch – Take-out
Dinner – Pizza, take-out or slow cooker beans and sausage variations (Wine)
Snack – peanut or almond butter or lemon cookies
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is based on speed and convenience. It is made up of foods that come from a drive up window or are packaged up in factories with a host of chemical additives. Big food companies use chemists to create the perfect combination of sugar, fat and salt to get consumers hooked on their products. Meals are void of bright and varied colors with little that comes in it’s natural state. White flour, white rice, white potatoes, white sugar and salt are staples. It is also often lacking in variety. People will eat the same ingredients or foods day in and day out which leads to some nutritional deficiencies. What would happen if we avoided the SAD and ate more real food?
The End Results
At the end of three weeks the results were in. Rob and Chris completed before and after surveys that showed a positive change in their perceived wellness. Chris found that she felt better, and she lost 8 pounds. She reported that she felt healthier, happier and wasn’t struggling with hunger. One of the things we learned in the documentaries is that you can eat and eat and eat, but if you aren’t feeding your body the nutrients and minerals it needs you will still be hungry. She said that with an increase in energy she was starting to think of things she wants to do instead of thinking, “what can I put off.” What did she learn? “Eat better to feel better, to live longer, and to live healthier.”
Rob had more energy and lost 9 pounds. He’ll tell you that he didn’t go hungry or have cravings that couldn’t be cured with a healthy snack. His biggest aha was learning that more exercise was not the answer to weight loss. When he gave his body better fuel he was running faster than he has in years and his recovery time was significantly shorter.
What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas
In the end it was an awesome three week re-set. Rob and I joined a nice yoga studio called Hibs Yoga in Henderson. We succeeded in going two times a week. Thank you Roxanne, Joey and Rachel for the great training! We found a bike trail to run on and a killer hill route. We even ran in a 5K race out near Hoover Dam where we finished 5th and 7th in our age groups. Rob could have done better than his 7th place finish if he had cut loose from me, but he says he was there to run with me not break any records. You’ve got to love a husband whose running goal is to run with his wife.
Two Saturday day trips took us into the Red Rock Canyon and Grand Canyon West. Both were beautiful areas to hike and take pictures. I made multiple trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for groceries. Chris was amazed at how I filled her refrigerator with fresh produce. Thankfully there was time left in our days to get some work done as well.
The three weeks in Vegas slipped by quickly, but the balance we felt is something we want to hang onto. We want to take this with us and not leave it behind in Vegas.
On the Horizon
As I continue to coach Chris remotely and continue to experiment with new recipes and menus I am starting a list of potentially interested friends for a small beta (trial)? group that I can coach through a similar 21 day healthy eating experience. Leave your name below in the comments or send me an email if this intrigues you.
Live With Vitality
I want to share with you my 5 steps on how to live with vitality. However, first I’ll tell you a story. In February as I stepped off a plane the lady in front of me struggled to get seated into the waiting wheelchair. When she finally got herself turned around and sat down she looked up at me and, with a heavy sigh, said, “Don’t get old. Die young!” I tried to tell her that my intention was to live well, strong and vital until 100 (maybe even longer). She responded with, “That’s what I thought.” The thing is, she didn’t look that old. I don’t think she was more than ten years my senior, but I can assume that her choices have been different.
I truly believe that we all have the ability to avoid her pain and despair if we choose to live with vitality. Follow my 5 steps to living with vitality and let’s see what happens. Are you in?
Looking out over the Grand Canyon.
Several years ago I became intrigued with the Blue Zones while watching an episode of the Dr. Oz Show. Dan Buettner was on the show sharing the research behind his new book, Blue Zones: 9 Power Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. He studied five areas in the world with higher than average centenarians, areas unrelated geographically. Buettner concluded that there are nine common themes that contribute to longer lives, regardless of where one lived. As you can see these five Blue Zones are located in four different continents.
Becoming A Centenarian
Each region has several lifestyle components in common that Buettner has identified as contributing factors to longevity. In fact, experts say that if we adopt the right lifestyle, we could add at least ten good years to our life and suffer a fraction of the diseases that kill us prematurely. These lifestyle choices include what the inhabitants choose to eat, how much physical activity they get, how they socialize, how they handle stress, their connection to a community and their purpose in life, all of which influences their quality of life and wellness. As a result of his research he identified nine lessons for longevity:
- Move Naturally; be active without having to think about it.
- Hara Hachi Bu; painlessly cut calories by 20%.
- Plant Slant; avoid meat and processed foods.
- Grapes of Life; drink red wine (in moderation).
- Purpose Now; take time to see the big picture
- Down Shift; take Time to relieve stress.
- Belong; participate in a spiritual community.
- Loved Ones First; make family a priority
- Right Tribe; be surrounded by those who share Blue Zone Values
A trail marker keeps us on course during a hike in Red Rock Canyon.
5 Steps on How to Live With Vitality
After reading Buettner’s book Blue Zones: 9 Power Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, I consolidated the lessons into 5 steps on how to live with vitality.
Focus, Nourish, Energize, Recharge & Relax, and Regroup
First, find your purpose. Why do you get up in the morning? What motivates or inspires you. It’s hard to be happy when you don’t have a “why”, a destination, or ambition to your life. You can’t live with vitality without happiness.
For 18 years my “why” was to take care of my family. From making breakfast, packing lunches, planning menus, buying groceries and other necessaries, laundry, house cleaning, carpooling, doctors’ appointments, managing schedules and the list goes on. My purpose was to be a stay at home mom. I loved it and I am so thankful that I was able to focus my energy and time to this role. Since both children are now in college I am finding a new purpose with my blog and living an active, healthy lifestyle.
Juniper tree at Guano Point in the Grand Canyon West
Secondly, eat to live. Replenish your body with foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Eat a variety of fresh vegetables. Cut out the heavily processed foods. Michael Polan, author of Food Rules, calls those products “edible food-like substances.” Polan’s advice is “Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much.”
I like to think that with every meal I have the opportunity to nourish my mind, heart, and body or deprive them of the nutrients they need to thrive. Sharing this knowledge with others motivates me to continue to learn and experiment.
Thirdly, make room for activity each day. It can be a 30 minute brisk walk, taking the stairs a little faster, a yoga session…something that makes your heart beat a little faster and makes you break a sweat. To have more energy you need to energize with exercise. For many of the Blue Zone inhabitants exercise is part of their daily life. They don’t spend an hour at the gym or train for marathons. They tend gardens, herd goats, or go on nature hikes.
For me, exercise includes trail running, hiking, skiing, yoga, and walking my dog. I also know that as soon as I become sedentary I have more headaches, shoulder and neck pain. Without exercise, I get the blues and brain fog. My goals for leading an active lifestyle are not just to keep my body in shape now. It’s so I will maintain my mobility, balance and strength as I age.
mountain stream in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Eastern Oregon
4. Re-CHARGE AND RELAX
Next, take time to unwind and have fun. Most of us live with some degree of stress in our lives. Stress causes inflammation which is a contributor to many diseases. For that reason it is important to find healthy ways to de-stress. This is done by taking time for yourself. Find things that you enjoy doing that help you unwind like reading, engaging in a hobby, or taking a bath.
I’ve been exploring meditation. There is a lot research that credits meditation with a number of health benefits from reducing inflammation and curbing pain to improving mood and dropping blood pressure. I’m still in the exploration and learning phases of meditation. Finding a quiet distraction free space is a challenge as I’m living with three dogs right now. This morning as I tried to find my zen one dog was barking at cars, another wanted to sit in my lap and the third nudged in close begging for a scratch behind the ears.
Brown Mountain and Lake of the Woods; Southern Oregon
Finally, connect with others and cultivate relationships. This final step encompasses family, friends and community. Love, support and social activity are vital to our emotional health. They also help to reduce stress and therefore health problems associated with high stress levels. Stress can trigger migraines, body aches, and weaken the immune system. Persistent stress, when untreated, can lead to heart disease, depression, anxiety and diabetes according to an article written by Jancee Dunn in a special edition of TIME called MINDFULNESS the new science of health and happiness.
With our move to Bend I will need to stay connected to my friends while building new friendships. In the past our boys were a forcing function in meeting new people and being connected to a community. We established friendships under umbrellas on the sidelines of soccer games, in the bleachers at lacrosse games, on the sidewalk in our neighborhood, playdates and school programs. I will need to find other ways to meet people through joining similar interest groups. It won’t be easy for this introvert. I will have to face the challenge and step outside of my comfort zone.
Grand Canyon West Arizona
You now know that my intention is to live with vitality until I’m 100 years old. Or, at least live as close to 100 as I can feeling strong, well, and happy. In other words, vital. I won’t get there by accident. It is a challenge I have embraced, and I must live every day with the intention of taking care of myself. T
Consequently, this means making choices that support my current health and will provide me with long-term health benefits. Following my 5 steps on how to live with vitality will help guide me along this path. My hope is that it will help you as well.
What are you doing to stay healthy and strong? Which of these steps are part of your life? Is there something that you struggle with? Please leave a comment below.