18 More Days: The 5 Squares Juice Cleanse

Here in the North East, we have had a lot of snow. A lot. It was during one of our snow storms when I got an interesting opportunity. A friend of mine is the owner of an awesome diet food delivery service called 5 squares. The storm had prevented a few deliveries from being made. (It was a bad one.) So two days of a 3-day juice cleanse was prepared and without a home. She asked on Facebook if anyone was interested. And if there is one thing Project 40 has taught me,nit is to say “yes, please” to health and fitness opportunities.

I picked up the cooler with two days of juice, (I live a much safer distance than it’s intended recipient) and started immediately. Generally a juice cleanse is something for which one would prepare. But this juice was prepared without any preservatives. So it was a use-it-or-lose-it situation. For the next two days, I drank the juice. Similar to the Dr. Oz challenge, I pretty much just always had one in my hand, as opposed to thinking of it as “meals.”

Some thoughts:

-The juice (and soup) was delicious. I’ve decided I would eat just about any combination of freshly-prepared food. But this all really was delicious.

-I lost a pound, which is impressive for 48 hours and a small frame.

-I definitely felt like I had another day in me, as designed. I didn’t feel like I was too hungry, and while I was thankful to eat solid foods again, I wasn’t desperate.

-I took it easy for the two days of the cleanse. I didn’t work out since I didn’t know how my body would react. I also made sure I had time to eat two good solid meals at the end of the 48 hours because I had a work party to attend. I figured even one drink after 48 hours of only liquids would go badly pretty quickly.

-It would be worth the money. This was my main take-away. I live in an area where juice bars are plentiful. I know lots of people who have done a similar cleanse, and it generally costs around $150 for three days. That sounded outrageous to me until I actually did it. After doing Dr. Oz I learned that you’ll spend at least that much making juices/ smoothies on your own. When you consider the time you save from the prep and actual juicing… You come out way ahead by having someone do it for you.

A girl can’t live on juice alone. But I lost a little weight and felt better after 2 days. And as always, it was amazing to have 48 hours when I didn’t have to think about food at all. If you’re going to try a juice cleanse, I highly recommend using a service like 5 squares.

Full disclosure: As stated above, I was given the two days of juice for free. However, it was as a gift so it wouldn’t go to waste. I was not given the juice cleanse in exchange for writing about it.

Return of the Fog

Ever since I was diagnosed with depression in 2003, I have made it my mission to talk about it.

Well, I kept it quiet for a few weeks.

Then I talked about it.

I knew that fighting the stigma was going to be a huge part of my healing. I realized quickly that other people found strength in my fight. And I like to talk.

I’ve been especially diligent about Daylight Savings Time, and how it can effect those of us with depression. I’ve talked about it here. And here. And I remind my friends. And I remind myself.

It’s funny, then, that the following conversation took place with my husband a few days ago.

Me: I am so tired lately. And I sort of have a headache. I’m not depressed. I just can’t concentrate.

Ryan: Yeah. Time change.

You would think that after posting reminders to all of my friends. Reposting my blogs. Reminding myself. You would THINK. That I could remember. Ever, One time.

But that’s the thing about the fog. You can’t recognize it from the inside. And it always takes a little longer to set in than I remember. So i think I’ve made it to the other side, and I’m really just starting.

If you looked at my calendar every single year for my entire life all the way back to high school, you would see blank pages the few weeks after daylight savings time. And while I have managed to participate in the world this March a little more actively than March’s of Daylight Savings past… I just could not wrap my brain around a blog.

Now, as we head into April this week (birthday month! Wohoo!) the fog is beginning to lift. I have continued working on challenges, and will have plenty to share starting tomorrow.

30 More Days: Stair Workout

If I had my way, I would be able to run outside AND take a group fitness class every single day.

I would also have a full-time cook and housekeeper. You know. While we’re wishing.

But I often go weeks without working out. Even this year, when I’ve been trying to focus on fitness. So when I find a workout I can do at home, I get excited.

A few weeks ago, we had planned to go to the gym. But, things happened. I don’t remember what. We’re a busy family. I felt disappointed and defeated. Then I remembered this stair workout I had seen on pinterest. The problem with pinterest workouts is that anyone can post one. You never know whether the poster has any idea what they’re talking about. You never know if the workouts are any good.

Unless of course you read about it on a blog like mine. 😉

Pinterest workouts (crafts, recipes…) are always a gamble. But I figured I’d give it a try.

And this one was a pinterest win!

It was a reasonable length. It was tough but not impossible. It was fun. I was tired at the end, and sore the next day. When I have time to repeat workouts (so, after I reach my 40 challenges…) this one will make it into my regular rotation.

In other news, my 40th birthday party is one month from today. Eeeeeek!

Wearin O’ The Green, Revisited

You know how you get really excited about a project and you just can’t wait to start?

So… maybe you start a day early?

And so it was with my Project 40 Countdown.

I didn’t consider the fact that I’m not counting down to 1, I’m counting down to 0. So if I intend on posting my 40th challenge on my birthday… well… I’m a day off.

Whoops.

Never fear. I will return with challenges tomorrow on the actual, accurate countdown schedule.

But for today, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the Bobcat Women’s Basketball Team making it to the NCAA tournament, here’s a favorite from 2010.

Part 1

I was up late on Tuesday night working on my shirt- cutting the sides of the plain green thirt and tieing them, giving the sleeves a cuter shape, making a little stencil so I could sponge on that all-important little white symbol… It might seem silly to create a special shirt just to celebrate one day, but this isn’t just any day. This is a day when I celebrate who I am and where I’m from. My green tshirt let’s everyone know about my cultural pride, and that’s important to me.

No, I’m not Irish.

I’m a Bobcat.

And today, I’m goin to the dance.

I’m sitting on the MetroNorth as I write this- I am on the third leg of what will be a very long journey. It started early this morning when I packed the diaper bag and woke Lily earlier than usual so she would be post-nap for the babysitter. Then I showered, got us both dressed in our green, carried the baby, the diaper bag, and my bag to the bus stop, (the baby carrier is in the car) put $2.25 in coins in the little machine, took the bus to the subway stop, balanced the baby on my hip and the bags on my shoulder while I dug through my wallet for another $2.25, (a neat trick, since Lily is fascinated by my wallet) made and fed Lily a bottle on the subway, dropped her off with a caring amazing generous babysitter in midtown, paid another $2.25 to take the subway to Times Square, transferred to the shuttle train, ran to the main concourse to buy a ticket, couldn’t find the machines, called Ryan in a panic, found the machines, bought the ticket, couldn’t find the track, then found the track.

Just in time to see the train pull away.

So I’m on the next train, which left 27 minutes after the one I intended to take. And I will ride this train to Connecticut where Ryan works so I can pick up the car.

And drive it back home.

Because I forgot the tickets.

Some of you may be thinking that this whole thing is insane and way too much work. Other people would have given up long ago. Those people clearly did not go to Ohio university. I’ll make it to the game. And I will Stand Up and Cheer.

I am a Bobcat, and I bleed green. Go Cats.

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Part 2

We just barely made it to the Bobcat Bash in time to inhale some cold burgers. We missed the National Anthem, our seats were way at the top, and people were giving me funny looks. “You’re here for Ohio?” the man in front of me asked.

“Go Bobcats!” I replied.

“Heh. Good luck,” he teased me.

The teams were introduced and I clapped for each player- politely for the Hoyas (I’m from Ohio, afterall) and more enthusiastically for the Cats. I watched the crowd around me go wild for Georgetown. There were some green shirts in the mix, but we were considerably outnumbered.

But I was just happy to be there- happy to have my alumni association nametag that said 1998, happy to have my green and white pom-pom, and happy to be watching the Bobcats play.

I settled in my seat, ready to spend a few hours reminiscing about cheerleading, and band, and friends, and parties, and roadtrips.

But then, we scored first.

And then, we scored again.

“We’re winning!” I joked to my Dad. “We can say we were winning at one point!”

But then, at the half, we were- wait, still winning? Yes! We were still winning! By sort of a lot!

The drunk dude next to me was baffled. “Man, I had money on Georgetown. Who told me to go with Georgetown?”

“Everyone,” I replied. “But they forgot to take into account our heart.” (yes, I really said that to a drunk dude at a basketball game. Once a cheesey cheerleader from Ohio, always a cheesey cheerleader from Ohio.)

We sat and cheered for the beginning of the second half, until things started to swing Georgetown’s way. “Uh-oh, I don’t like where this is headed,” my Dad said. I nodded, but in my head, I knew. And the Bobcats regained their big lead. And we sat, in hushed excitement, for the longest last-third-or-so-of-a-basketball-game in my life. My chest was tight. My stomach was burning. And with about two minutes left to play, it became clear.

Oh My God. We’re going to win.

We got control of the ball with about half-a-minute left, and stood at our end of the court, dribbling while crowd- the whole crowd, even the Hoyas- got to their feet. A standing ovation for an unbelievable upset victory.

As we left the Dunkin Donuts Center we could hear a mix of reactions. Some congratulations came my way- I was one of the few people in green- many were just shaking their heads, and I even heard a few say outloud “seriously though. Who the hell is Ohio?”

Driving home, the tollbooth guy took one look at my get-up and laughed. “St. Patrick’s Day was yesterday!”

“No, no,” I said. “Ohio University. We just beat Georgetown in the NCAA tournament.”

“Wait- Ohio beat Georgetown?!!”

“Yup.”

“Wow- that was a good game then!”

And it was.

They just didn’t take into account our heart. Hey, according to “Damn Yankees” it’s all you need. It’s the heart that makes Matt Lauer chest bump an intern on the Today Show. The heart that makes someone leave at 10:30 am and return home at 2:00 am for one basketball game. The heart that will beat in so many of us as we crowd into bars across the country with other Bobcats tomorrow afternoon, making strangers into friends. The heart that beat in all those students pouring into Court Street last night, celebrating like we’d just won the whole damn thing.

It’s the heart of a Bobcat, and it makes anything possible.

31 More Days: Clean Eating

I completed this challenge in July. It is now March. I have been avoiding writing this one. I was telling myself it was because it was too much information. But here’s the truth. I think it’s because I didn’t want to post this picture. So. Let me just get this out of the way.

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Now, I fully understand that the “before” picture is not exactly huge. But please understand that I have never gained weight. This is not a humble brag. (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. My body didn’t exactly cooperate with me when I wanted to get pregnant. So please don’t judge me for having a body that doesn’t gain a lot of weight. K?) It’s just how it has always been for me. When I gained 15 pounds in about a year, I hid it well. Most people who know me would have no idea that was hiding under there. So there it is, world. My secret gut.

And now the big shocker.

These two pictures were taken 18 days apart.

And.

I was really busy teaching at a camp. I don’t think I worked out a single time in those 18 days.

Last July I spent 2 weeks with the Cleaning Eating Challenge.

Here’s a review:

1. The Food: It was delicious. Just looking back at the pictures today to write the review makes me want to do it again. (Except it turns out I don’t like chia seed pudding. I’ve tried. A few times. It’s just not for me.) I was definitely full enough all the time and felt like I had an appropriate amount of snacks and treats. Yummy.

2. The Work: It’s a LOT of work. I was teaching at a camp, so I felt a bit like I was either at camp, cooking, or packing food for the next day. I seriously have never chopped so many vegetables in my life. If I did it again, I would probably prep for the week on Sunday. (Like… all day Sunday.)

3. The Groceries: I appreciated the list, but I tried to multiply it by 2.5 (2 adults and 1 child) and ended up with strange amounts of leftover ingredients. Maybe it was my math. But more likely it was that things are only sold in certain set amounts. I did my best to use up as many ingredients as I could, though. And I ended up with 18 days of food instead of 14. I went to the grocery store more than the two suggested times. I had never bought so much produce in my life.

4. The No Coffee Thing: Yikes. I did my very very best to follow this rule. I made it through about 10 days. But as I mentioned, I did this while teaching at a camp. And the camp musical was on day 10 or so. And tech week is not the time to give up coffee. I only had one cup, and it was black. Which is significant since I’m usually a 3-4 cups a day kinda girl. I consider it a major victory that I didn’t have more than this.

5. The Results: The picture above speaks for the results. I try to base things on look and feel rather than weight. So I don’t know what the pound difference was. But it’s clear that this worked.

Similar to the Dr. Oz Cleanse, there was a lot of comfort in having my food all planned out for 2 weeks. I have started to carry this into my regular life a bit. Not entirely, but a bit. More on that soon. 😉

Has anyone else tried this plan? What were your experiences?

32 More Days: Hot Yoga

I thought I hated yoga. I had perfectly good reasons. More on that later. But for years I thought I hated yoga.

Then I went to a class. And another. And another. And while I’ve never gone consistently, I figured out really quickly that not only do I not hate yoga, I kind of love it. And I’m also pretty good at it. I was a college cheerleader, so my sense of balance and understanding of my core serves me well. Plus I’m trained as a singer, so the breathing comes really easily.

I was willing to admit that I didn’t hate yoga. But I wasn’t willing to accept being wrong for all those years. (like, probably 13 or 14 years.) There must be something about yoga that I hate. I bet it’s hot yoga. I would probably totally hate hot yoga.

But I figured if it felt scary, it was probably a good challenge for Project 40. So as nervous as I was, I went to a class at our new gym. And I totally loved it.

OK, hear me out on the source of my hate.

It was my second year of teaching. I was getting married in a few months, and one of my friends from college had just been hired as the band director at the middle school and high school where I taught choir. Everything was coming up roses. So my band director friend (we’ll call her Chris. Because that’s her name) and I decided to attend a yoga class the evening after the first day of school. We figured it would be a great way to relax and celebrate after a stressful day. (Like Vino and Vinyasa without the vino.) Neither of us had done yoga before. But how hard could it be?

I was intimidated since it was so new for me. And this was pre-depression diagnosis, so I was nowhere near comfortable with myself. (Thanks, therapy and Lexapro!) We went into the class and the lights were low. That helped me be more comfortable. There were candles lit. Relaxing. I followed the directions the best I could. And at one point we were in an inverted position (Looking back, it was probably downward dog. But I didn’t know that at the time.) for what felt like a ridiculous amount of time. I started to feel all kinds of pressure under my eyes. It sort of felt like my eyeballs were trying to escape. And then we stood upright, and I expected the pressure to go away.

Except, it didn’t.

For the whole rest of the class, I felt like one of those stress dolls that you squeeze and the eyes pop out. When class finally ended and the lights came on, I asked Chris if her eyes felt weird. She looked over at me horrified. “No…” she said, “but you should look in a mirror.” I ran into the locker room to discover that not only did my eyes feel like they were trying to escape, they looked like they were trying to escape. The funny thing is, I was more mortified than concerned. I put on my sunglasses and left the building as quickly as I could.

People have since asked me, “Why didn’t you go back to find the teacher and ask if she knew what had happened?” Yeah. That would have been a great idea. But it would have been admitting (or so I perceived…) that I had failed. That there was something wrong with me. Remember, this is pre-therapy.

So I didn’t ask for advice. I just left. Chris drove me home. But before she left she suggested- very strongly- that I go to the hospital. My eyes didn’t look any better. And in fact if I didn’t go, she was going to take me herself. So. Off to the hospital it was, then. I’d never been to the emergency room before. I didn’t know if this was really an emergency, or if I was doing the right thing. Plus I kept crying because, you know. Pre-diagnosis. And the crying was not helping the swollen eyes.

The nurse asked me what was wrong. “Ummmm…?” And i pointed. I understand now that the nurse couldn’t possibly have asked me “So, are you here because you look like a stress doll that’s been squeezed really hard?” because really, what if my eyes looked like that all the time? Awkward. I explained what had happened. And the doctor looked at it. And I was diagnosed with fancy words that meant “it’s swollen under your eyes.”

Thanks.

I had to call my principal and let her know that I would be missing the second day of school. I stayed on the couch with ice on my face for about 36 hours. And the swelling went down. And I never found out what happened. (Although I can guess now that something just “released” in my body.) So for years, when someone asked me about yoga, I would tell them sorry, it makes my eyes pop out.

It was scary to try it again. Even if regular yoga didn’t make any body parts try to escape, I was sure that hot yoga would. But nope. Just tension and sweat. And the discovery that something I feared was actually something I love.

Maybe I should try things I hate more often.

33 More Days: Back to the Gym

I just wrote several paragraphs. And then re-read them. And discovered how unbelievably dull they were. I guess with 40 challenges, that’s bound to happen.

Yesterday I wrote about a really fun event. Vino and Vinyasa. I mentioned we had joined a new gym. This is that story.

(If you could imagine you just heard those chords that they play on Law and Order when the words go across the screen telling us where the detectives are going… that would be really effective.)

We went to a birthday party at an athletic facility. And we fell in love with it. And we joined. We pay more than I could have imagined we would ever pay for a gym. But we have no regrets about the money. We are there several times a week. We eat at the restaurant, and we get smoothies at the juice bar, and we attend the events, and we swim at the pool. (and the waiters know I drink pinot noir.) Not only are we starting to feel like a part of a cool community, but as a family we are leading more active lifestyles. It’s not about joining a gym. It’s about being a family who exercises.

I would not have guessed at the beginning of this challenge that joining an expensive facility would be one of my 40. But so far, it has been the one with the greatest impact.

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