Detox Diets

It seems like everywhere I turned someone was hawking some sort of detox diet in January. They lasted anywhere from 2-30 days. Some only allowed fruit juice and lemon water while others were strictly raw. There were herbal supplements and smoothies and something called ‘green sludge’ and all promised to make you feel like a new person.

I am of the mind-set that if you lead a generally healthy lifestyle, then a cleanse or detox is optional. Eating a nutrient-rich diet with vitamin supplements should be all the cleansing your system needs. But in our world of on-the-go lifestyles, filled with convenient foods, it is likely that the average person is not eating the most nutritious food all the time. I know I struggle with this.

I cut out fast food long ago and I try to stay away from as much processed food as possible; however, convenience sometimes wins. This past weekend I was out running errands ALL day and was so hungry that I was irritable and whiny. I also like to call this “hangry,” that point beyond hunger when your blood sugar is so low that all social skills go out the window and you snap at anyone that dares talk to you. Yeah, not pretty. So in this state, I caved. It was Chinese food. Delightfully greasy (probably MSG filled), Chinese food. And I enjoyed every bite. Can’t say my intestines enjoyed it as much as my taste buds though.

So yeah, my diet isn’t perfect and I have had instances where I feel the need to do a short cleanse to get my digestion and my skin back to normal again. When it comes to detox diets I think it is best to approach them with a specific goal in mind. Mine is usually for an energy boost and to clear my skin. There is certainly weight-loss involved but I think, like with any diet, don’t expect permanent results unless you are changing your lifestyle after the cleanse.

When choosing a cleanse, it is important that you are still getting vital nutrients. Please be wary of diets that really limit the foods you can eat. A healthy detox will include tons of fresh veggies, whole grains, and lots of water. The meals should be sufficient enough to leave you feeling full, but it is normal to have intense sugar/carb cravings especially if they are a staple of your normal diet. These diets take quite a bit of planning and in order to succeed, it is a good idea to prep ingredients for easy to prepare snacks and meals.

If you need an easy to follow, not too restrictive plan to slim down a bit and boost your energy, then Lauren Conrad’s 7 Days to Skinny Jeans Plan might be the way to go. I know, I KNOW. She is a (former) reality television star. Don’t laugh. The plan is legit and has some very yummy but healthy food options.

For those of you who want to jump start your system and get down and dirty in a very clean way, Seattle’s Jennifer Jordan, founder of For the Glow, has your solution. Visit her wonderfully informative site that helps you determine whether you need to detox or not. If you decide you do, in fact, need an internal scrubbing, she has some phenomenal plans to follow. She gives you recipes, advice and continued support online. This girl knows her stuff!

As always, listen to your body and be sure you are not choosing a diet that will rob you of nutrients. A healthy plan will be well rounded and full of clean, whole foods. Cheers to an energy boost!



Some Like it Hot – Hot Yoga

Yoga is my medicine. It is the balance to my pavement pounding runs, breathless swims, and back-aching bike rides. It allows me to quiet my mind and focus on healing my body. For me, it is the perfect combination of strength and flexibility. The practice is simultaneously stimulating and relaxing. I credit my yoga practice for my athletic success.  It is my favorite way to prevent injuries.

There are many types of yoga and they all have their benefits but I can’t get enough of the heat! Believe me, it is INTENSE but the benefits are so worth it. After a 90-minute class, I feel a mixture of exhaustion, accomplishment, and sheer euphoric bliss. I call it a yoga high but it may just be light-headedness. Aside from the many benefits of yoga in general, practicing in higher temperatures (commonly 85-115 degrees) has additional perks.

  •  Your metabolism speeds up and your body burns fat more effectively. That’s always a perk!
  • The heat warms your muscles making you extra-limber for greater range of movement in joints, muscles, ligaments and other supporting structures of the body.
  • Capillaries dilate in the heat effectively oxygenating the tissues, muscles, glands and organs and helping with the removal of waste products.
  • The heat will test your mental limits, strengthening willpower, self control, concentration and determination.
  • Your cardiovascular system gets a thorough workout.
  • Most notably (for me), there isn’t any other activity that has ever made me sweat so much. Every pore on your body sweats, scalp to toes. It is the best detox imaginable and I always feel so rejuvenated afterward.

So yeah, the benefits are pretty great but what about that “testing your mental limits” thing? No joke, it does. You become an expert at listening to your body and learning when you can and cannot push those limits. These great beginner tips are well written and are great for preparing you for your first class. My absolute musts before a hot yoga class:  make sure I am well hydrated and to leave my ego at the door. If I do these two things, I always have a successful 90-minute sweat.

Inspirational Athlete – Cheryl Brost

As an adult amateur athlete, it is tough to stay motivated and optimistic about solo workouts when there is no one to share my milestones. Fortunately, there are plenty of athletes to look up to for inspiration when you need it.

I recently heard about Cheryl Brost when talking to a friend about CrossFit. This woman is beyond Super Woman. She is a 40-year-old married mother of two. In the short time I have been aware of her, she has become somewhat of an idol to me. This woman was just named the 7th fittest woman in the world. Yeah. World. And the six women that outrank her? They are about half her age. Just another typical female business owner with a hubby, two kids and oh yeah, she’s the 7th fittest woman in the world. She makes me feel like a slacker.

I have been intrigued by CrossFit for a while now. The intense workouts are not for the faint of heart. It’s painful just to watch, but what really intrigues me is the CrossFit community. Participating on a team is a big priority for this sport, something I feel is incredibly important to any athlete’s success. They’re there to cheer you on, push you past your limits and even pick you up after a rough competition.

Brost says that anyone can do CrossFit.  The oldest person at her gym is about 80! She goes on to say, “The point is to decide how fit you want to be and, with the help of the gym’s coaches, scale the workout to meet that goal. You can start from whatever level of fitness you are — some people can’t run 400 meters when they first come here.” Pretty convincing considering she started as a way to stay fit without getting bored. She has even convinced her husband and two kids to join the CrossFit craze.

I definitely think I will give CrossFit a chance. I love trying new sports. Not only will it be challenging to convince my body to move differently than what it’s used to (I am definitely not a dancer), it makes me appreciate the sports I’m really good at.

Do you have a new sport you are dying to try? Who is your athletic inspiration?

Bucket List

The list of things I want to accomplish in life is practically infinite and grows daily. Living in a time where access to information is instant and unlimited means my desires are bigger than my lifespan. And, as the impending age of 30 approaches, I am inspired to actually start accomplishing things on my list rather than just dreaming about them. Life is short and I don’t want to suddenly wake up at 70 wishing I had done more in my youth!

Naturally, for me the easiest place to start is with racing. Travel also ranks high on my list. So why not mix the two? Makes sense to me.

After reading about the 100 Best Triathlons in the World, travel and sport seem to belong together. Now I just have to decide where to go? My top choices are:

The Bali Triathlon

The Mooloolaba Tri in Queensland, Australia

The London Triathlon
The LavaMan Tri in Hawai’i

Then there is my second love, yoga. Yoga plus travel? Pretty sure that equals love. Yoga Worldwide is a wonderful resource for finding retreats. My favorites include:

Yoga & Surf Retreat in Bali with Surf Goddess Retreats (can you tell I really want to go to Bali?)

Morocco or Thailand retreats with Yoga Traveller

Stretching it out with Yoga in Fiji

Speaking of yoga, I would really like to add instructor to my resume, so Yoga teacher training is definitely on the list, too.

I’ve identified a broad span of interests, so I will surely have to prioritize. That being said, I think I’ll start with an attempt to knock just one of them off my list this year.

A few smaller goals I have before 30 are:

Get scuba certified

Go snowshoeing

Grow my own (successful) garden

Go car-free for at least a month

Volunteer with a local non-profit

Volunteer at a race. They work so hard at the races I participate in it would be nice to see a race through a volunteer’s perspective

What are some of your goals this year?

New Year, New Training Season

With a new year comes new optimism and the feeling that you can conquer anything you put your mind to. Why is it that we tend to only focus on improving ourselves one time per year? When you really think about it, each day of the year is an opportunity to begin something new, start fresh, or take a leap into the unknown.

Like the rest of the world, I am beginning something new as well – the 2012 triathlon season! Races can start as early as April and run through fall. I just have to decide which ones I want to compete in. There are endless possibilities all over the U.S. and even more if you want to get fancy by traveling abroad. Perhaps I will one day. Here are some great sites that list tri events:

Amateur Endurance



As far as actual training goes? The sky is the limit. I work better if I have a team to hold me accountable for my training. It gives me a surge of energy to make it to the finish line when my team is screaming their heads off for me to get to the end. There are many options for finding a team or getting support:

Team In Training – My first triathlon was with this great organization. The coaches are dedicated, you get to meet new people, and many of the events enable you to travel. My only gripe was the whole fundraising thing. It’s for a good cause, but I am just terrible at asking people for money. However, this was an amazing way to break into the triathlon experience.

OnTRI – Great online community support. It is an easy way to form a group with other local athletes or just get in touch with others who can offer advice.

TriathlonTraining – Sometimes you just need a coach, someone to help you create the correct workouts and encourage you along the way.

I think my favorite thing about a new triathlon season is that it gives me something to focus on beyond just sweating. It isn’t just going out for a run or attending a yoga class; it is about strategy, timelines, progress, diet and dedication. It is a complicated sport and a very exciting one. Cheers to a new season!


Post-Holiday Lethargy

What do you do after all the excitement and anticipation of the holidays are over? I know what I would like to do: sleep! Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a whirlwind of chaotic fun, carbs and drinks that leave me feeling lethargic and ready to hibernate. Alas, I have responsibilities like that pesky job thing and paying bills. Remind me why adults don’t get winter breaks? Sometimes I miss being a kid.

Unfortunately I don’t have a time machine, but I do have a few things that might help me crawl out of my slump and revitalize my energy supply. NO, not energy drinks which are just sugar, chemicals and more sugar ready to make you crash hard. Here are my go-to energy boosters:

Vitamin D3 – This is perhaps my favorite supplement to keep my moods even. With the lack of sunlight in Seattle, it has become a good winter friend.

Stretching/Yoga/Walking – It is amazing how much movement will help wake you up. The longer I sit on the couch, the more tired I get. Even a short 5-10 minute walk can help battle laziness.

Super Greens – They are not called super for nothing! Alfalfa, chlorella, spirulina and barley grass all act like an instant transfusion to boost tired blood. Plus it is super easy to sneak them into smoothies.

Breathe – You can’t live without oxygen and many of us don’t breathe as deeply as we should. Even one minute of conscious deep breathing will revitalize your body and boost your energy.

Avoid the food coma – Stay away from heavy, starchy, or sugary foods. These will only make you want to nap.

I know none of these are rocket science, but I have found that natural methods have more to offer than the false promises of energy drinks and powders. Get moving!


A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Side Effects Go Down

I know I’m not the only one who rolls my eyes when a drug commercial comes on. The fact that listing the side effects takes up most of the commercial time is humorous to me. Isn’t that reason enough not to take the drug? Apparently not.

I love a quick fix for my problems just as much as anyone else but the reality is, it just isn’t possible. And even if those magic little pills do make the original problem subside, the fact that it causes so many more problems just doesn’t make it seem worthwhile. So why are we so pill happy? Because we trust our doctors. They didn’t attend school for nearly a decade for nothing, right? The sad reality is many doctors are being bribed and influenced by big pharmaceutical companies. Don’t believe me? Here are a few things that might convince you:

Infographic published by Medical Billing & Coding: Doctors on Drugs

NY Times article: Payments to Doctors by Pharmaceutical Companies Raise Issues of Conflicts

NPR: Doctors Often Receive Payments From Drug Companies

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for modern medicine and many lives have been saved by it. But the majority of symptoms we try to ‘cure’ with pills are usually things that are a result of poor lifestyle habits. These ailments show up after years of mistreating our bodies. Popping a pill, while continuing those habits, will only lead to more complications.

Getting to the root of what is causing the problem isn’t easy, especially if you are stuck in a comfortable poor diet/no exercise routine. Believe me, I’ve been there. The whole reason I decided to participate in triathlons and yoga was because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. There were days I literally didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. I was lethargic, depressed, and had unbearable body aches. Life felt really terrible. Disgusted at the thought of taking anti-depressants, I looked for alternatives. Diet and exercise seemed to be the simplest and most cost-effective options … certainly cheaper than visiting a doctor and filling prescriptions.

So I skeptically started with a cleanse, similar to this one, and dragged myself out for a walk. The first few days were rough. I was a carb/sugar junkie. Let’s not talk about my bitchy withdrawals. Not fun for anyone. Luckily, after a week of resisting the urge to buy a doughnut, a bagel, ANYTHING made with flour, I started feeling amazing. Clear headed, energetic, and optimistic. I felt like a new person; it was like a natural high and I was hooked.

It definitely takes some willpower at first, but then it just sort of becomes integrated into your life. And guess what? There are no side effects! Well, unless you count being annoyingly happy as a side effect.