Sunny Sleeps

Hey, humans!  Sunny here again.  My human has had a lot of trouble sleeping lately.  I don’t get that since day time is like the best time ever to sleep.  But since it doesn’t know how to sleep during the day, I’m hijacking its blog again to give you some daytime sleeping tips.

011The first tip to sleeping during the day is finding something to rest your head on.

 

 

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Second, find a comfortable position.  It may take a while, but when you find that position, just close your eyes and you’ll drift right off.

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Third, corners are super comfy.  It’s like having a blanket wrapped around you.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll fall asleep in a corner.

 

 

029And lastly, keeping the light out your eyes can help you sleep during the day.  Now, light doesn’t bother me too much, but I’ve noticed my human wants things dark when it’s trying to sleep.  Strange, but if you must, sleep with your head under the blanket.  Let me tell you, there’s no light under there!

 

 

So there you go.  That’s all there’s to getting some good sleep.  Trust me.  I know.  I sleep about 12 hours a day.

Sweet dreams!

Signed Sunny, the cat

My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Coming off the clean eating challenge, I’ve been spending more time searching out and trying new recipes, which equals more time in the kitchen.  I’ve found there are a few gadgets that I use frequently that make cooking so much easier.  Now, I’m not promoting any company.  These are just the brands I happened to purchase, and I have no other experience with other brands that produce similar products.

  1.  Magic Bullet.  I usually drink at least one protein shake a day, either after coming home from the007 gym, a run or as I’m getting ready for my night shift at the hospital.  I love the ease of using this mini blender.  I just throw everything in and presto!  I have a perfectly blended shake in under a minute with relatively little cleanup.  I also like the strength of this blender.  Here I’m trying out my hand at making almond meal (basically finely ground almonds to take the place of flour).  Making almond meal took a bit of time, and I had to keep shaking the container to get the larger nut pieces to fall down to the bottom by the blades, but I wound up with some nice almond meal!  I also love using my Magic Bullet for making my own ranch dressing (from cashews!  Really!  I’ll have to tell you about it one day.)
  2. George Foreman grill.  For the longest time, I just threw so028me chicken in the oven to bake, but then I discovered this little personal grill.  In a matter of minutes, I can have tasty, moist grilled chicken, salmon, or turkey burgers.  I’m anxious to try it out on some veggie burgers and grilled veggies.  And I love the ease of clean up.  No pans with stuck on chicken drippings.
  3. Kitchen scale.  One thing that became super helpful to me in attaining and maintaining a significant weight loss was portion control.  I picked up this kitchen scale for around $10, and it’s been incredibly helpful to keep me on track with portions.  It has both metric and standard measures, so when some recipes call for so many grams of an ingredient, I can put the scale on the 006metric measure and figure out how much 114 grams of zucchini is.  Or I can measure out 3 ounces of meat for a serving instead of just eyeballing it.
  4. Garlic press.  This may seem like a funny gadget to list among my 0149ef10166b9e45ac93ea5eec9dfd67a4ac5cf3fffavorites, but I use it all. the. time.  I cook with a lot of fresh garlic, so having a press to mince those cloves of garlic is so much easier and faster than chopping it up by hand.  This press is not of great quality, but it does the job.
  5. Shaker cup.  Here’s another one of those kind of odd gadgets to mention among my favorites, but I love my shaker cups.  I’ve found that if I take a serving of my favorite chocolate protein powder to work and make a shake close to quitting time, it curbs my hunger and my desire for unhealthy sugary treats.  I have one shaker cup that uses a wire whisk kind of ball.  I don’t like this one as much; it doesn’t get the powder off the side of the cup very well.  My favorite cups have the harder ball inside that really blends that powder as well as a blender.018057f86b4751e42f874c551a009026acad20ad46Here’s to happy, healthy cooking–and eating!

Talk to me:

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

If money was not an obstacle, what’s one kitchen gadget you’d love to have?

Clean Eating Challenge

Back towards the beginning of May, a friend I CrossFit with, knowing I’m in the process of launching my own personal training business, asked if she could tell me about the clean eating program that got her on the road to health and feeling better, something I may be able to share with clients.  I have to say, even with my nursing background, when it comes to nutrition and how to guide someone into making the best decisions for weight loss, I just feel overwhelmed.  Anyone else feel like that?  There’s so much seemingly contradictory information out there.  And here’s the thing:  nutrition is THE most important part of weight loss.  Exercise all you want, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet.

On top of that, I found myself stuck in a bit of a food rut.  Terrified of gaining weight again, I’d basically been eating the same foods I’d eaten during my weight loss process.  But having gained a few pounds in the last 6 months, I found that even following that routine, my weight wasn’t budging.

So I said, “Sure.  I’d love to learn about that.”

Now, my friend is an Arbonne consultant and the program recommends using Arbonne supplements.  But before you tune me out, let me just say, regardless of your feelings about Arbonne, supplementation, and the like, what I learned about clean eating was worth the money for the starter kit.  And no, this is not a post about Arbonne.  I just want to tell you about my adventure into clean eating.

So the challenge consists of 30 days of no sugar, no dairy, no peanuts, no wheat, gluten or soy.  And the only fruit I was supposed to eat was green apples and berries.  Yeah.  When I looked at that, I asked myself the same question I heard from a gazillion people who heard what I was doing:  “What do you eat?”

I mean seriously, what was I going to eat?  I usually had yogurt and peanut butter every day.  Seriously, every day.  And I often ate whole wheat tortillas and bananas.  Would I be able to run without a banana to fuel me?  And no chocolate covered almonds?  I could almost feel myself twitching at the thought.  But I was also intrigued.  Could one eat tasty food that eliminated so many products?

In a word, YES!  If you think about it, really all the program did was eliminate highly processed foods.  The basis of clean eating is eating foods that are as close to the way God created them as possible–cage free eggs, grass-fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables, brown rice, nuts (aside from peanuts).  It emphasizes the quality of the food.

And the idea behind eliminating certain foods is to help identify how your body reacts to them.  The program is commonly referred to as a “detox”.  Now, I tend to think that if your liver and kidneys are in good working order, the body naturally detoxifies itself, but I was intrigued by the idea that some of these highly processed foods may be affecting me without my knowledge.  I wondered what would happen if I eliminated them.

Thankfully, the program provided recipes.  So I would pick one or two dishes to make for the week, buy the groceries for those meals, and choose one day to meal prep (which usually took about 1 hour).  These are some of the things I ate:

001Apple slices with almond butter

 

 

 

 

 

004Spaghetti squash with homemade sauce

 

 

 

 

 

003Grilled salmon, cilantro lime quinoa, salad with homemade ranch dressing (it’s amazing what you can do with cashews!)

 

 

 

 

002Blackened chicken with a spinach and raw veggie/black bean salad

 

 

 

 

 

And these are just SOME of my meals!  I learned about cooking with fresh herbs, combining spices to make the most delicious flavorings for salmon and chicken, the wonder of fresh lemons and limes.  I discovered a whole new way of cooking!

But the bottom line, as I’m sure you’re dying to know, did I lose weight?

Let me tell you what the challenge did for me:

  1.  I lost 4.4 pounds.  It doesn’t sound like much, but at my size losing anything over about a half pound per week is a LOT of weight.  And I lost a little over a pound a week without trying.  I ate good food, and I ate when I was hungry and until I was full.
  2. I lost an inch around my waist at my bellybutton, 4 inches (I know!  Couldn’t believe it!) around my lower belly where that stubborn fat roll just wouldn’t budge, and an inch off my hips.
  3. I went from having nearly daily headaches requiring some kind of pain aid to 2 headaches in the entire 4 weeks.
  4. I lost that sluggish feeling that I thought was just normal for a night shift worker.  I still feel tired frequently because my sleep schedule is totally out of whack, but even when I’m tired I don’t have that brain fog going on.  Anyone know what I mean?  And I’m finding I have more energy overnight at work.
  5. Nearly all my sugar cravings are gone.  I thought I would have a hard time with giving up sugar, but I felt so satisfied with the food I was eating, I didn’t really miss it.  A couple of times I had a rather strong chocolate craving, but I felt way more in control and was able to resist the temptation.

So now the challenge is over, and I have to decide what to do.  Will I incorporate those eliminated foods back in or not?  There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to because I feel amazing, but I also want to be able to eat with my friends and not stress out about what I’m eating.  I think I’ll probably wind up doing what most people do after the challenge–follow clean eating habits at least 80% of the time.

I’m excited to continue to incorporate this new way of eating/cooking into my life!  I’m experimenting with baking with almond and coconut flour, and I can’t wait to try arrowroot.  I’m also anxious to pull out my favorite recipes and see how I can “clean” them up.  Eating has become an adventure, and I’m loving the ride!

Talk to me:

What makes eating healthy hard for you?

What are you eating these days?

What’s your thought on clean eating?

 

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Global Running Day and The Big Run

Yesterday was Global Running Day.  It’s a day meant to celebrate the joys of running.  And what’s so cool is that anyone can participate.  The inclusiveness of running is something I really love about the sport.  Whether you run like a herd of turtles through peanut butter (I borrowed that from a T-shirt I saw) or you run like the speed of sound, if you run, you’re a runner, and Global Running Day is all about doing what we love to do.

And thinking about Global Running Day just gives me warm fuzzies.  I mean, how cool is it to share something with people from every country of the world?  It makes the world a smaller, more friendly place to think of people around the world lacing up their shoes and heading out the door, all on the same day for the same reason.

In celebration of Global Running Day, my favorite local running store, Fleet Feet, hosted The Big Run last night.  It was a locally run 5K that was also run nationally.  So essentially runners from around the nation competed against each other.  So fun!

It was the first running of this 5K, so I was happy to be able to participate in it.  And it was held on the Riverwalk, a walking/running/biking trail along the Arkansas River, one of my favorite places to run.041

 

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This was a much smaller race than other races I’ve participated in, but there was the usual pre-race socializing, complete with the Fleet Feet shoe. 044And the obligatory row of porta-potties.043Finally it was time for the race to begin, and off we went on this historic run!  I knew from the start this was going to be a tough race for me.  It was something like 80 degrees F, which always slows me down, and my legs were really tight and sore from CrossFit.  Right around the halfway mark, I had to walk for a bit, and from then on, it was run/walk the rest of the way.  Needless to say, I finished in a disappointing 30 minutes 39 seconds, the worst 5K time I’ve had in probably 2 years.  I placed a disappointing 6th out of 29 in my age division.

But as I was talking to one of the Fleet Feet coaches later about my miserable 5K time, he said, “Well, you can’t have the good races without the bad ones.”  And he’s right.  How will I know when I have a good race if I don’t have a bad one now and then?

So I just enjoyed the atmosphere and the post-race party, complete with band, pizza and beer (none for me, thank you!).051There’s always a next time, and if there’s one thing that disappointing races do, it’s to motivate me to work hard so it won’t happen again.

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Talk to me:

What did you do yesterday?

Where’s your favorite place for a run or a walk?

To Sticker or Not to Sticker?

Following the Route 66 marathon, my second, last November, this happened:IMG_1576Yes, I became one of those obnoxious people with a 26.2 sticker on the car window.

I was going into work a few nights ago.  I have to cross an air bridge from the parking garage to the hospital, and parts of it are frigid.  Seriously, the air blasting out of the vents is like Jack Frost breathing on you.  (Remember, that Santa Clause movie where Jack Frost freezes everyone with his breath?)  So I walk fast, partly because I’m freezing my tushy off but also because I just naturally walk kind of fast.

Anywho, I came upon another nurse going to work.  He made the remark, “I’m going to get out of your way.  I saw you get out of that car with 26.2 on it!”

I just laughed, and said, “That doesn’t mean I can run fast!”

But that brief exchange has stuck with me and has made me think a lot about why I put a 26.2 sticker on my car.  Is it making other people feel I’m superior to them?  Does it seem like I’m bragging?  Am I sending a message that I belong to some exclusive club?

That certainly was not my intention, but I began to feel rather self-conscious about the sticker on my car.

But it got me thinking about why marathoners put stickers on their cars, and I have to say I think it’s the same reason people put any kind of sticker on their cars.  I’ve seen cars pulling into the garage ahead of me with some “RN” or nursing related themed bumper sticker.  I see the stickers of families, where there’s a sticker for Mom, Dad, big brother, little sister, and the dog.  I see political stickers from both Republican and Democratic supporters.  I see stickers about Jesus, guns, a child who made the honor roll, and some with no real cause except to make you chuckle.

But the one thing all those stickers have in common is that they represent what’s important to those who drive the car.  They let us know who you are.  I think bumper stickers are a way of connecting with our fellow humans.  They tell stories of accomplishments and hint at beliefs and passions.

So I’m not going to feel bad about a 26.2 sticker on my car.  Running is an important part of my life, and running a marathon is a big achievement, something I’m proud of, and something that changed me.  It’s a part of who I am now, and that’s what my 26.2 sticker means to me.

Besides I don’t think that thing would come off if I wanted it to!

Talk to me:

What bumper stickers are on your car?

What’s the best bumper sticker you’ve ever seen?

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