Saturday, January 31, 2015

Roommate/Life Partner Profile: Interview with Kate

I've lived with Kate for 1 1/2 years and we've been pole vault family for a whole 5 years! Crazy! She blogs at

Edit: Kate is officially weirder about food than me. She denies it, but she also just said "mmm I can smell that celery and it's just the best ever!"
What has your life been like lately?
It's been great. I've been going to yoga, and the chiropractor, and I haven't been eating refined sugar, and I've been waking up early and feeling ready to go. I don't know, is there anything else you want to know? Work is pretty fun. I'm much better at writing than speaking. And I really love hanging out with Elizabeth (Author's note: duh)

What makes you the most happy right now?
Um, the weather's been really great which makes me really happy, and... You know what's been really great? I've been doing this new bible plan, it's called the Change Your Mind plan (explanation: I'm doing the "Change your mind" plan: read a book of the Bible 20 times, then another, and another until you've read them all, read her blog for more info), and it's been transforming my mind and really just changing the way I think about life and the challenges it brings.

What are your weirdest food habits?
haha, hmm I really like raisins. And, I think dried apricots taste like candy. Are you asking for anything more specific? I thought these pancakes I made the other day were really sweet but Elizabeth didn't. I've also been eating beets. A lot. (Authors note: Kate only started eating beets this month and didn't know how to cook them). And I think smoothies with just beet greens and chia and bananas are really good, which is probably pretty weird.

Are there any habits or behaviors you started since living in Seattle/with me that you'd rather not have?
Nope I like them all. Living with you has been such a positive experience in my life. I don't think. I mean, I'm better about not being super early to stuff so.

If you could keep eating one "unhealthy" or sugar or non-vegan food right now and not feel guilty what would it be?
Mighty-O donuts 

What is your motivation for being vegan and cutting out a lot of processed foods?
Elizabeth really inspired me because you're (Elizabeth) always talking about health and nutrition and I felt like you were always secretly judging me (author's note: I wasn't), and then I read Rich Roll's book and it really changed his entire life and the way he ate. And then I read some more articles and books and decided to try it and I liked it. And then we watched Fed Up and I read a bunch more stuff. And you can't un-know these things, as you say.

Would you consider yourself a real vegan?
Yeah, I'd say so. I eat honey often enough and sometimes I eat things with a small amount of dairy in them. But I'd say I call myself a vegan. For diet anyway, I'm not a lifestyle vegan because that seems way too hard.

Do you feel like you exercise like crazy?
Not like crazy. I exercise every day. (note: multiple times.... I think everyone is a little jealous and concerned and impressed)

What in life annoys you most?
I really hate when people are late to things and I hate being late when it's not my fault. I'm not very easily annoyed right now so it's hard to think of things. 

What is most likely to bring your mood down?
Probably when my kids are just being really bad. Particularly my AAA's, but everyone knows they're bad so it's not just me.

If there was anything in your life you could change, either about yourself or your life situation, possible or impossible what would it be?
I would really love to get paid to like learn about nutrition and health and tell other people about it. That's what I wish my job was.
I wish all of my pants would just fit me. (Author's note: don't we all). And I also wish Target would sell XS underwear in the packets. They only sell small. It's so much cheaper to buy the packages instead of single pairs but the small are too big. So I would change that too.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Living with you has ushered in a number of positive changes in my life, really starting about a year ago. And ever since then, I just keep thinking it can't get better and then it does. I'm also really thankful that I've gotten less afraid of trying new things, cause I really used to hate that. I've tried a lot of new foods, and I tried ballet and I was the worst one which I hate and used to avoid but I did it and it was fun and I learned a lot. I also started going to group fitness classes and yoga which really freaked me out and the chiropractor, which both freaked me out a lot. It's been fun.

I really do like those pancakes though. They're probably my favorite pancakes I've had in a long time. Jordan was concerned because they didn't have chocolate chips but you know. We could always put raisins in... haha

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sugar on my Face

Only a week left until sugar's off the table for a WHOLE MONTH. Yikes. Kate and I had a very professional cleanse planning meeting last night, in which I basically just doodled and scribbled sideways over all the recipes. Then we drank wine and watched The Biggest Loser. It was a crazy Saturday in this house.

Even though I've decided to give up putting sugar in my body for a month, there is one place where I'm going to continue using raw honey: my face! I stopped using face wash, soap, shampoo and conditioner about 7 months ago, once all the mud was washed off from the 50k. This isn't the first time I've started washing my face with honey or no 'pooing as they call it, but I always stop for some reason or another. Usually travel or working in chlorine all the time. But I'm all in this time and I love it! I've added lots of links if you want more info.

What I do instead:

For soap/body wash: I try to dry brush pretty often, although I've been less good about it lately. I also make scrubs like this one and use those every once in a while for a good exfoliation and deep moisturizer. After I shower I use coconut oil mixed with some tea tree and lavender essential oils as a lotion, which is also antimicrobial and antifungal. Because I work with children who have ringworm and I need to kill germs on my skin.
This NY times article made me rethink my soap usage, but I don't think you need some fancy formula to neutralize your skin biome or whatever.

On my face: I warm up some honey in my hand and put it on my face (like this). Usually I leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing with water. So easy! If I shower in the morning I often use diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a toner. At night I sometimes put my coconut essential oil mixture on my face to moisturize and try to keep pimples at bay. It usually works, and is a great makeup remover too!

For my hair: This no 'poo method. Basically I mix 1T baking soda with 1C water in a spray bottle, and use that on my scalp as shampoo. It doesn't suds but it does get slippery so I massage it into my scalp and then rinse. I mix 1-2T ACV in another spray bottle with 1C water, and spray that on the ends of my hair. I found that if I put it on my whole head my hair feels greasy. And it works! Most people like the feel and texture of their hair more once they switch, which isn't necessarily true for me, but it's still very shiny and easy to care for. The only difference is I really have to brush it. I used to just let my hair air dry and then run my fingers through it and it was good to go, but now I have to brush it when it's wet and again when it dries or it gets very frizzy If it does get frizzy, I rub coconut oil on my hands and then smooth down my hair). And the best news is I don't have to wash it as much! Only 1-2 times a week, depending on how much I sweat. I also have a job where ponytails are accepted and encouraged, so even if it does get a bit greasy at the end it's not a big deal.
If I've worked out and don't wash my hair, I usually just wash it with water and massage my scalp so dirt doesn't build up. It does get greasier faster this way, so that's when I'll wash my hair every 3-4 days instead of waiting a whole week.

So there you go! Once I got going it became a normal routine, and my showers are much shorter now! I feel just as clean as when I used body wash and I don't smell any different, I promise. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why I'm Trying to Eat Less Sugar

I probably talk about food the majority of the time on here, and most recently about sugar. Here are some resources that highlight the reasons why.

As I'm sure you know, my favorite movie of 2014 was Fed Up. Watch it. Even Jordan and Trevor watched it and they liked it.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

This video is pretty long, but I think there's a short version somewhere. It basically talks about the way our bodies process sugar, specifically fructose. Some basics - fructose goes straight to the liver, and is either stored as glycogen (energy for later) or turned into triglycerides, which are fat. Because it does this, it doesn't raise out blood sugar like other forms of sugar do, so foods that are high in fructose may register low on the GI scale (agave, looking at you). Because science. I'm in college I know stuff.

Reading material:
This article pretty much sums it up: The 7 Deadly Truths of Sugar

A Year of No Sugar
"It's dinnertime. Do you know where your sugar is coming from? Most likely everywhere. Sure, it's in ice cream and cookies, but what scared Eve O. Schaub was the secret world of sugar—hidden in bacon, crackers, salad dressing, pasta sauce, chicken broth, and baby food.
With her eyes opened by the work of obesity expert Dr. Robert Lustig and others, Eve challenged her husband and two school-age daughters to join her on a quest to quit sugar for an entire year.
Along the way, Eve uncovered the real costs of our sugar-heavy American diet—including diabetes, obesity, and increased incidences of health problems such as heart disease and cancer. The stories, tips, and recipes she shares throw fresh light on questionable nutritional advice we've been following for years and show that it is possible to eat at restaurants and go grocery shopping—with less and even no added sugar.
Year of No Sugar is what the conversation about "kicking the sugar addiction" looks like for a real American family—a roller coaster of unexpected discoveries and challenges."
This book was easy to read and while sometimes the writing style bothered me, it was really helpful to see a normal family be able to live without sugar for a year. It's less about the science, and more just about the practicality of it. Pretty much her only research was watching The Bitter Truth (see above) but they just decided to do it and did it. 
There are several other books I love that highlight the evils of the food industry, so while not directly about sugar, they make me want to take a harder look at what I eat. Honorable mentions are Salt Sugar Fat, What To Eat, The Omnivore's Dilemma.   

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Breakfast Cookies for Dinner

Today I actually didn't feel like eating anything that I'm not currently eating. I ate too many avocado oil kettle chips yesterday so it was a welcome change.
Kate did make some zucchini breakfast cookies and brought some to work, which was fun. I ate 3 more for dinner when I got home and I think I liked them even more. They're really good! She warned me they were not anything special and tasted like oatmeal in bite sized form, but I loved them, Maybe it was the baking spice she used. Even the raisins tasted good to me, but I bet with refined sugar free chocolate chips they would be even better...
I also make fake ice cream for dessert. Yes, I ate dessert after eating cookies for dinner. I blended bananas and cashew milk (my new favorite milk) with some greens of course, and a little peanut butter and cacao and cinnamon. I made a chocolate sauce with cacao, raw honey and coconut oil which hardens when it's cold. I topped it with toasted pecan pieces. It was so good. I think I eat just as many treats as I did when I ate sugar because I'm having fun making sugar free treats. Next up is black bean brownies. I cooked a whole bunch of beans tonight. After using canned for a while I've gone back to dried, at least for a little.

I've been feeling extra tired this week, and haven't really been working out at all. I just don't feel like it. I've been getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night but I'm also not sleeping super soundly, which might be part of the problem. I think I need more like 9 hours of sleep which is not very realistic with life happening. I wish I was one of those people who after going vegan suddenly needed way less sleep. I'm sure I could be better with things like not sleeping with my laptop on my bed or with my phone next to me. Anyways, I've been feeling slightly lethargic and "under the weather" in a happiness sense this week, but hopefully it will change with a few good night's sleeps. Jordan and I were talking the other night about some work drama that's both directly and indirectly affecting our lives, and how we're both Highly Sensitive People. It makes it hard not to let other people's emotions and issues affect us. This is why even though I actually really like my job right now, there is a lot going on at the company that I don't agree with that makes me really upset, and living with Jordan means we're bringing that energy home with us too. Unfortunately I don't think most things are going to resolve themselves any time soon so I'm just trying to focus on the positive things that are going on.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Over halfway through!

Today, I woke up and went for a run in rainy, windy weather. I was listening to a recent podcast from No Meat Athlete. I've been following these guys for a while, so I already know their stories, but they were talking about how they first became vegetarian and vegan and got into running, and it really inspired me. It wasn't really the intention, but it just really got me thinking about all the things I've started and have quit when they get too hard. I tried going vegan several times before I finally managed to do it for 6 months a year ago, and even then there were some slip ups. I've tried to do the cleanse 4 times now and have never finished the last week. And now this sugar challenge. I have slipped up a couple times. I was subbing at work yesterday because Jordan was really sick, and I was craving all the things I don't even like. Like gross cookies, and the super sweet cake with lots of frosting, and pizza. Even the pizza with meat looked and smelled good to me. I had been undecided about how I wanted to approach my veganism, but I decided today that I'm all in. I've eaten a little cheese and yogurt in the past couple weeks so that has to stop. There is an asterisk to me veganism though, and that's if someone makes me food or I'm at a restaurant, I'll just do my best. So I guess I'm a fake vegan still, but I think it will help me out. I'm also going to get back to logging my food intake tomorrow to make sure I'm not eating too much sugar or calories, even if they come from dates and almonds. Unlike Kate, I'm trying to lose weight here.
We did take a long walk and go to a bar today to watch the Seahawks play the Packers, and we were kind of excited when the Packers were doing so well. I like the Seahawks, but people around here have gotten really big heads about it and a little humbling would do them good. But as soon as we got there Seattle scored 15 points in 44 seconds, and then some more. It's probably just because we're their good luck charm, clearly. Kate did ask about added sugar is one of their drinks, which made it off the table for us. But we finally asked about something! We did have sweet potato fries with garlic aioli, which I guess is not vegan, but that hardly counts. I'll start tomorrow. Monday sounds like a good day to start.

Sorry my posts have been long and boring! I wish Kate would just write down everything I tell her about sugar. It's much more entertaining. Mostly about how raisins are lame compared to chocolate chips. We were talking about how this no refined sugar thing has been easy, except when it's really hard. Like when a roommate makes cookies or you want a donut and you're right outside Mighty-O's.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

No Sugar Day 14

Besides the one day last week where I had some moments and ate the last of some dark chocolate chips I had, no sugar hasn't really been a problem. There have been a couple times, like when I wanted an almond milk latte from the student center where I'm taking classes, where it stopped me from getting something I wanted. But I was perfectly content with my drip coffee, and it's saved me from getting some not so great for me things when I wasn't even hungry. I have still been eating treats, which probably counteracts some of the no sugar eating benefits. Dates and maple syrup and honey are still sugar even if they're unrefined. I made some energy balls over the weekend to eat for snacks this week and Kate and I finished them before Monday. And I made some sweet potato brownies today, which had kind of a weird texture and tasted pretty much like everything we make now. Cacao and dates and whatever we put with it, which was sweet potato today. I think the sweet potato date mixture might have been better by themselves... Anyways, some days I've been eating really well and some days not so well. But it happens regardless of sugar.

My main dilemma now is deciding what to do when my punches run out at Tricycle Fitness, the group fitness class right by our house. I really love it there, and would go to a lot of classes, but I also haven't gotten to a stressful part of school and maybe when I'm in the middle of exams I won't go enough to make a monthly membership worth it. Then there's the fact that I just paid approximately $1 million dollars for my tuition and textbooks, which would get me well over a year of unlimited membership at Tricycle. While it's a very comparable price to similar services, it's not cheap to join. Plus I have a running group I try to go to regularly and adult gym available to me for free. But I just like all the classes at Tricycle! Yes I could get enough exercise without going there every day but I really want to get back in super good shape and feel like an athlete again. I'm really getting excited about working out these days but it's not the same when I do it myself. I'm not so good at pushing myself. So that's what's happening.

We're finally getting done with the basic cell biology and chemistry part of my Anatomy and Physiology class, so after our exam on Tuesday I'm excited to start making tissue out of those cells! I love science. I've missed it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Biggest Loser is my Life

I wrote this about a month ago but never posted it. It's still kind of relevant. And while it doesn't deal specifically with the whole not eating sugar thing, it's not completely unrelated. It's kind of personal but not something I haven't talked about with probably most people who read this. It will probably turn into a novel so beware.

Lately, our house has been watching a couple seasons of the Biggest Loser. It's probably the one show that all of us will watch together, and thanks to Kate's free amazon prime account (has she told you about it yet? she only mentions it every day...haha) we've been watching past seasons. There was one episode where the contestants travel to Hawaii, and one of the guys confesses to binging when they got there because of the change and feeling overwhelmed. They dig deeper into the contestants' feelings of being out of control with food, and how they got there. I can completely relate. No, I'm not 300 lbs, but I have my own issues with food. They talk a lot about self esteem, not feeling like you're "good enough". I've really been trying to change how I feel about myself, but my default is often to feel unconfident and like everyone else knows what they're doing more than me. I felt that way at work for quite a while. I probably knew at least as much as most of my coworkers, if not way more, about coaching, but I still always felt like everyone knew way more than me. It's not just at work, either. It was in school all the way through college and in a lot of other aspects of life. I often won't even try something if I think I won't succeed.
What I was trying to say with all that is that my weight really affects me. I know a lot of people say your problems won't disappear when you lose weight, but there are a lot of things that I know will improve. How I feel about myself, but also my ability to do things I want to do. My weight right now makes it more difficult for me to run and workout, and is harder on my joints. My clothes don't fit well, so I don't go out much and do things because I don't really have anything to wear. Wearing spandex and workout clothes to work is both a blessing and a curse. I know I'll still be me if I lose weight, but a more confident version of myself.
And this brings me to some important people in my life. It's hard for me to realize what an influence I have on people or that people view me differently than I view myself. Which is why it was such a shock that I was named employee of the year. When I lived in Germany, my friend/coworker/housemate/fellow act like a 2-year-old was inspired to become healthier because of my habits. She went so far as to call me one of her two fitness gurus. We started eating more fruits and vegetables, and she lost several pounds and grew noticeably stronger while I... stayed the same. Maybe even gained a couple lbs. And last year Kate, partly because of my constant lectures and partly because of a book I loaned her, changed a lot of her habits to include less processed food and went vegan. I guess the 50k was her idea, but I knew her a few months before that and I don't think she would have had enough energy to do something crazy like that. Kate dropped weight quickly, started sleeping better, had way more energy, and has recently started working out like 12 times a day. And I just found out, through her (and me), our friend Betsy turned vegetarian and now Alissa's on a vegan journey. Even my cousin Matt basically quit eating meat, which really didn't have much to do with me, but he remembered a lot of things I ate and said on our bike trip 2 1/2 years ago and they stuck with him and helped him change.
None of these people needed to lose weight or were unhappy in any way with their lives or their bodies, but the changes that happened were drastic and visible. Meanwhile, I might just stay at the same weight instead of gaining even when I'm eating super healthy and exercising like crazy. With all my interest in health and nutrition, I've never experienced what others have - no drastic change in my body, athletic ability, energy levels, anything.
Which brings me to today. I was doing just great without sugar this past week, until today. Or yesterday I guess. I ate cheese, and then tonight, shocker, I ate SUGAR. I felt once again out of control. I don't really know what triggered it or why I did it, because my day was actually pretty great, but I feel like I'm back at square 1. I really need this, and I really just want to feel like myself again. It's been a long time. I'm going to try to be better about blogging and holding myself accountable, and thank goodness Kate is doing it too! Or I probably would have quit today. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 in Pictures

In 2014 I
took care of these psycho kittens for a while,

had visit from my sister Carolyn,

and my parents,

ran (swam) a 50k

got to see Betsy,
ran Hood to Coast in Oregon,

left my 2nd job at the Boys and Girls Club, but continued coaching recreational gymnastics and doing social media for Seattle Gymnastics Academy,
went on several hikes but wished I did more,

got to go to Austin for Thanksgiving and see the other Elizabeth Peckham, my grandmother,
won Employee of the Year at my job,

and ended the year with another great Peckham Christmas (28 of us!) in Chicago

Happy New Year!

I'm starting with 2015 since my review of last year's is pretty long!

Continue with emotional and spiritual growth, including journaling and meditation

Complete a running challenge. I have an eye on the Lake Sammamish half in March. It's probably the flattest course in western Washington.

Challenge myself every month. So far I have January: no refined sugar and February: no sugar. Yikes. Kate's doing both with me including the February cleanse so I think I will be more successful. After all, it took her going vegan with me for me to really do it. Every other time I tried I always quit because cheese. Sidenote: in 2014 I went 6 months without cheese. Crazy

Exercise every day. Buy a monthly membership at the group fitness place I've been going to near me and go enough to make it worth the money.

Here were my 2014 Resolutions:
I am going to do a different challenge every month, depending on where I am. I'm starting out by committing to only eat real food for 10 days.
I actually did do some kind of challenge pretty much every month. I didn't always succeed, and actually I usually stopped doing them early for some reason or another. But the point is I tried to challenge myself with something new every month, so I don't really consider it a failure. 
January I did real food, and kept to my grocery budget. 
February I started with the 30 day green smoothie challenge, and ended up purchasing the FreshStart21 Cleanse. I actually completed almost all three weeks of it. I kind of fell completely off the wagon at the end, but I was pretty impressed at how long I went without sugar and chocolate.
March I decided I was going to plan out my meals and snacks and everything, which didn't really happen
April I joined in with the next 30 day smoothie challenge, but I just made my recipes, no theirs.
May was the next cleanse, which I really didn't do great on. I think I stuck to the eating guidelines for about a week, but I was still overeating and eating when I wasn't hungry. I had been doing a clinical trial for the medication, and I had actually been doing really well and feeling great. But I was taken off the trial at the end and right after that ended I went downhill for a while.
In June, Betsy came to visit and I ran a 50k over our break from work. That was my only goal for the month. I had been feel a little lousy for a couple weeks which culminated in me getting strep throat, which meant missing work and paying a big doctor's bill. But I also think that doing and eating nothing for 3 days reset my system, and I was feeling pretty great by the time work started again.
In July I quit using shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I'm actually still doing this today, except when I was traveling. More on that later. I also did pretty well at not eating sugar for ten days a la Fed Up Challenge. I think I only ate trail mix once.
August was another cleanse, but that also didn't last long. Part of the problem was that I ran Hood to Coast, which I guess could be considered a challenge. I brought a bunch of food for myself, but most of it wasn't quite cleanse friendly. I also ate pretty non-vegan at restaurants, because what do you get at IHOP that's vegan. Plus birthdays, which require sugar. It was still a pretty great month.
September proved to be challenging without a challenge. I ate a lot of not-so-good food and gained some weight, which I'm still holding on to. I usually love September after I get over the fact that I have a whole nother year till my birthday, but this one was rough. I started classes at the local college - prerequisites to apply for nursing school.
October I made Jordan do the green smoothie challenge with me. I think we only missed a couple days when I ran out of greens.
November I did okay on the cleanse, I think I made it almost to the end. I also ran every day until the last week of the month when I went home for Thanksgiving and hurt my foot and was really sick. 
In December I started some habits I hope to continue in 2015. I started journaling daily again and meditating every day (I have a book with a different type of meditation for every week). Both of these went on hiatus while I was on Christmas vacation, but I'm starting them again

I am going to stick to a grocery budget of $20-$25 a week. I plan on documenting that on this blog to help me keep track of what I'm spending and eating.
This didn't last long...

Save some money every month. I had a certain amount in mind, but recent unexpected expenses have thrown me off a bit. I'm going to do what I can, because I'm hoping to take a trip to Southeast Asia in the not so distant future.
I actually forgot about this one. Nope, I just spent more money

Make my emotional health a priority. This could change over the course of the year, so part of this is decided what exactly it is I need and making sure it happens. I've started journaling again, and I would like to keep it up as close to every day as I can.
I did make this a priority, and was doing really well until about September. I think moving, while it was exactly what I wanted to do, was hard for me. I like to blame it on one of my roommates who is great at bringing down my mood (I still love her, it's just hard to be around her when she's not in a good mood), but truthfully it's probably a combination of a lot of things.