My game plan for the grocery store

Recently a friend in my facebook group More Plants Please asked me to give her some insight on what I buy at the grocery store to be set up for success with consistent healthy plant based eating.  I wanted to give her an organized and structured response.  Here it is.

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WHERE TO SHOP

Firstly you have to pick a store that carries a variety of healthy foods at a reasonable cost (ideally.)  Unfortunately it may be hard to find what you want at the best prices in one place.  I buy 80% of my food from Trader Joe’s and the rest is split between Whole Foods, Amazon and Target.  There are other very good supermarkets and of course CSAs and Farmers’ markets are wonderful.

I eat a whole foods plant based diet so this is my personal recommendation.  Even if you currently eat animal foods this list will support your health and add nutrition for anyone.

WHAT TO BUY

Items to buy on a weekly basis

Fresh perishable foods don’t last very long and need to be purchased more frequently.

Fresh raw greens: spinach, kale, arugula, romaine, chard.  These cam  be used for smoothies and salads and can some are good eaten cooked.  Buy organic if possible.  I also buy them prewashed and bagged for convenience.

Salad Mixes: I’m in love with salad mixes.  They are prewashed and bagged combinations of raw veggies usually consisting of greens, cabbage, kale, shredded carrots, squash, seeds and dressing.  These are perfect for making quick salads and bowls.  Be weary of the premade dressings and check to see that the ingredients are as ‘clean’ as possible and not too high in fat due to added oil.

Fruits: Buy fruits at different stages of ripeness so that you can eat some while others are ripening.  The great thing about fruits is they can be cut and frozen for future use in smoothies.  If they have a skin that you wouldn’t typically eat, like bananas and kiwis, peel them before freezing.  This can also be done with avocados.

Items to buy once or twice a month

This will depend on how much storage space you have in a fridge, pantry or freezer

Other veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet potatoes

Frozen fruits:  Frozen fruit is great for fruit ice cream and smoothies.  It’s also another time saver- no peeling and cutting and clean up!  they will stay good in the freezer for a few months.

Frozen veggies are great for stir fries.  They are also good to have on hand when you’re out of fresh veggies and can’t get to the store.  You want to be prepared as much as possible.

Coconut water and unsweetened nut milk: I use these as bases for smoothies and shakes and drink them alone sometimes.  If you want to do the 3 day smoothie cleanse you will need these 3 day smoothie cleanse

Dates and Figs and other dried fruits.  I love snacking dates but I mainly use them to make date paste which I use as a sweetener in baked good.  Avoid dried fruit with added sugar.  The fruit should be the only ingredient ideally.

Organic tofu and tempeh.  I like to use these soy products in dishes in which meat and animal products are traditional components like chilies.  Tofu scramble is an awesome dish that resembles scrambled eggs if you season it with cumin.  tempeh is fermented soy beans and is less processed than tofu.  Tofu can be very processed and genetically modified so I buy it organic only.  Both are terrific sources of protein and I eat them once per week usually.

Items to buy once per month or less

Whole grains: Bulk bins are great for grains and they are very inexpensive staples.  They can be bought packaged.  Make sure the item is the only ingredient on the package.  Oats: groats, steel cut or rolled (in order of least processed to more processed.) Brown or wild rice, quinoa. Gluten free pasta.  There are so many varieties including bean pastas that have fiber, protein and less carbs.

Gluten free flours: Gluten free is my personal preference:  all purpose mix, rice, almond, coconut, sorghum, buckwheat, chickpea etc.  These are great for gluten free baking.  You can also make your own flour from oats by grinding it in a food processor or coffee grinder.

Beans: Cooked or uncooked.  Cooked beans have a long shelf life.  If you are buying them cooked read the ingredient label.  Ideally the only ingredients are beans and water and maybe a little salt.

Cacao powder: This is the raw version of commercial cocoa powder.  It’s great for hot chocolate, my vegan brownies and smoothies. vegan gluten free brownie recipe

Flax seeds: Ground or whole.  I add them ground to smoothies and oatmeal.  they are also useful in baking as an egg replacer.  Flax seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and fiber.  Whole flax seeds are less exposed to oxidation but they are not digested if consumed whole.  If you buy them whole for freshness, grind them before use or in a blender when making smoothies and shakes.

Pasta sauce: no sugar or oil added.  365 in Whole foods is a good brand.

Salad dressing and other sauces: Read labels.  If the list of ingredients is 15 items or less, the fat is 3g or less per serving and the overall calories are 50 or less per servings its a good choice.  Making you own dressing with vinegar, stevia, essential oils and a thickener like avocado is even better.

Those are my main staples.  I do buy coconut oils and use it very sparingly in some dishes.  If you have these in your kitchen they build a foundation for a balanced plant based lifestyle.  If you need some simple recipes contact me to purchase a copy of my book More Plants Please.

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Kayla’s 3 day Summer Smoothie Cleanse

 

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

  • A powerful blender: Vitamix, Ninja, Blentec.  A larger blender is best so you can make a large batch at once.
  • Plastic or glass bottles or mason jars to store and transport the smoothies.  They should be 16oz or larger.
  • The ingredients in the smoothies.  See grocery list below.  If you will not be making a certain recipe do not get the ingredients needed for only that one.
  • The essential oils lemon, peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon and ginger are individually in four of the smoothies.  They are optional but recommended ingredients.  Essential oils from stores may not be 100% pure and hence not suitable for ingestion.  You can order these oils from my oils website mydoterra.com/kaylagorrell.
  • sharp knife
  • vegetable peeler (if making the beet smoothie)

THE PRE-CLEANSE

In order to maximize positive results and a positive experience, at least five days before the cleanse, I recommend you eat a diet that consists of more greens, other vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains.  Limit or omit fried food, oil, processed snack foods, red meat, dairy, sugary beverages, alcohol and coffee.  When you make a drastic change to your diet over night the detox symptoms are more severe.  This gradual transition will not only minimize the detox symptoms, it will also help you eat healthier over a period longer than the three days and result in more weight loss and cleansing.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Please note this is NOT  A JUICE CLEANSE.  Smoothies retain all the fiber and nutrients since the food is blended.  With juice the liquid is separated from the solid.  Juice cleanses are great and therapeutic but not as satisfying and could be problematic for people who need to keep their blood sugar low since the fruit sugars are concentrated and fiber is removed.  Fiber helps regulate sugar absorption it the blood.

  • More energy 
  • Weight loss of a few pounds
  • Improved mental clarity
  • Improved appearance of skin and hair
  • Reduction in unhealthy food cravings
  • More regularity in the bathroom.  This fact alone cause the loss of some weight.
  • Initially you may experience detox symptoms of headaches, slight hunger (mainly due to not chewing.)  The cleaner your diet is going into the cleanse the fewer symptoms you will have.  These symptoms are a good sign that toxins are leaving your body! Everyone is different.  Some people experience no unpleasant side effects.

HOW TO DO IT

  1. One week out begin cleaning up your diet: more raw veggies, fresh fruit and whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa.  Less oil, processed carbs, red meat, dairy, sugary beverages, alcohol.
  2. Buy bananas 2-5 days before the cleanse so they can be very ripe and hence sweeter.  Peel them and cut them in halves before freezing them.
  3. Follow the recipes and make large batches.  If you have enough containers you can even make all the smoothies in one go and store them in the fridge.  They will be good for 3 days.
  4. Start each day with a  glass of room temperature water with 1-2 drops lemon oil or the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  This wakes up your digestion and elimination.
  5. Always make your first smoothie of the day a green non-protein smoothie.  Save the heartier protein ones for later in the day.  When you sleep your body is in a fasting state overnight.  Ideally this time frame is 12 hours.  When your first ‘meal’ is a simple green smoothie with just water, greens and fruit it helps extend the fasting period and allows those nutrients to absorbed right away.
  6. Women, consume 6-8 smoothies per day depending on your activity level.  Men, consume 8-10 per day depending on activity level.
  7. Try to space the smoothies 3 hours apart.  Do not drink the first one until you feel hungry.  You will get a lot more in tune with your body and its needs during this cleanse.
  8. If you feel you need a more savory taste during the three days I will also add a simple miso soup recipe that you can have in the afternoons or evenings.  This is optional.
  9. Herbal caffeine-free teas can also be consumed during the cleanse.
  10. Drink a lot of water during the day- at least 64 ounces.
  11. Light exercise helps the detoxification process.  Walking and yoga are best.  I spin during cleanses and feel fine.  Make sure you listen to your body.Smoothies, juices, beverages, drinks variety

 

GROCERY LIST

Buy organic ingredients as much as possible.

Recommended stores are: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, CSAs/Farmers’ Markets.  Many large grocery store will be fine too.  Even super Walmart carries many items below.  If you decide you are going to skip a certain smoothie, skip buying any ingredient that’s only in that recipe.

Take a look at the recipes and decide which smoothies you will make and how many of them you will have.  That will give you an idea of how much of the following to buy.  Err on the side of having more than you need so that you don’t run out.  You can always make more for another day or even extend the cleanse.  In cleanses I’ve hosted in the past it is not uncommon for people to extend because they feel great, enjoy the smoothies and want to drop a few more pounds.

  • raw spinach (5oz bags or larger packages)
  • raw baby kale (5 oz bags or larger.  Regular kale has a way more bitter taste and may make jack up your green smoothies.  Trust me!)
  • bananas (buy these in advance so they can get very ripe.  Then peel them, break them in half and freeze the halves.
  • pineapple
  • frozen mangoes
  • apples ( I prefer fuji or gala)
  • pears-very ripe
  • oranges or mandarins or tangerines
  • raw beets
  • frozen blueberries
  • cacao powder
  • raw hemp protein powder
  • natural peanut butter/ other nut butter or low fat powdered peanut butter if you prefer a low fat option
  • coconut water- 32 oz containers are best
  • raw flaxseeds or flaxseed meal/ground flaxseed
  • cinnamon powder/ cinnamon essential oil (oil is preferred)
  • ginger powder/root or ginger essential oil
  • lemons or lemon essential oil
  • peppermint or spearmint essential oil for the chocolate mint shake.
  • miso paste ( if you will have warm soup in the evenings)

 

RECIPES

 

 

Easiest black bean burger ever!

Homemade plant based burgers are a tricky endeavor.  The challenges are: making them taste good, getting them to be sturdy and not fall apart at the slightest touch and, of course, finding a simple method. These burgers are as nutritious as they are simple.   They are oil free too!

 

You will need a food processor, knife, baking sheet and parchment paper.

Ingredients

1 carton black beans (About 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup cooked warm brown rice

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 medium white/sweet onion

2 medium carrots

3 handfuls raw spinach

2 tbsp ketchup

2-3 tsp taco seasoning (I use Trader Joe’s)

Method

1. Rinse and drain black beans.

2. Mix black beans, rice, oats, ketchup and taco seasoning together and set aside.

3. Place onions, carrots and spinach in the food processor and run until broken down and mixed well.

4. Remove vegetable mixture and add to rice and bean mixture.

5. Place combined mixtures in processor and run for about 10 seconds until blended.  Mixture will be very moist.  Don’t worry.  After baking they will dry out and set well.

6. Scoop out 1/6 of mixture and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Use wet hands to form into a round patty 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch high.  Repeat this 5 times to make 6 burgers

7.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for 12 minutes on the other side.

8.  Allow them to sit for 10 minutes  to set more.

Enjoy in a bun or on top of a salad with guacamole.

Essential Oils: Why they will change your life!

doterra_essential_oils  I was introduced to essential oils over year ago by a  friend. My first experience was diffusing lavender.  The aroma was calming and the $15 diffuser I purchased on Amazon changed colors.  That was cool looking and relaxing too.  My friend informed at that time that candles could be very toxic and were detrimental to health when burned.  I did some research and found that candle fumes can be as toxic as second hand smoke and are carcinogenic.  Many scented candles have wicks thats contain lead.  Lastly, the scents and dyes are often artificial and they release additional chemicals.

Fast forward 9-10 months later after my daughter was born and my book had been published.  I was finally ready and able to learn more about these magical and potent plant compounds.  There is literally an oil for EVERYTHING!  To research individual oils and blends click here.

I’ll share my experience so far.

  1. They can be diffused for aromatic and therapeutic benefits.  They are a wonderful substitute for commercial air fresheners.  Many of these air fresheners contain formaldehyde and petroleum.  Some studies show that they also contain phthalates which have been shown to cause birth defects, hormonal abnormalities and cancer.  When the bag in diaper receptacle in my daughter’s room burst there was a wicked stench.  I diffused some lavender oil and it was smelling fresh within minutes.  Eucalyptus or the blend Breathe® can be diffused to relive stuffiness due to a cold and allergies.
  2. They can also be ingested.  I now drink water with a few drops of lemon oil in it throughout the day.  This is cleansing and detoxifying.  The first time you drink it you may make an extra trip or two to the bathroom.  Peppermint has been a great addition to my chocolate protein shake.  Peppermint aids digestion.
  3. They can be used topically on the skin.  I absolutely love my moisturizer made with almond oil (a carrier oil that dilutes the essential oil.) It contains lavender and melaleuca (tea tree) oil.  It feels great to be using a moisturizer that is safe enough to eat!  I also made my own mouthwash that contains peppermint, lemon and an oil blend from doTERRA called OnGuard® that contains clove and cinnamon.  There are countless recipes for blends that can be made in carrier oils for allergies, insect repellent, anxiety, sleep etc.  These blends can be rubbed on the chest, behind the ears and on the bottoms of the feet.
  4. They can replace all-purpose cleaners when mixed with water and white vinegar.  Lemon will clean greasy surfaces and clean wood. On Guard is a powerful sanitizer.                                                                                                                                                     When selecting essential oils make sure they are pure.  If they have been adulterated the bottle will say “for external use only.”  I am affiliated with doTERRA.  Their oils are sustainably harvested from all over the world and are 100% pure.  If you are ready to detox your home and would like more information on how to get and use these oils, comment below with your information, email me at kayla@healthywholehappy.net or click here to enroll for whole sale prices through my doTERRA website.

What pregnancy taught me about yoga

My first child was born on 4/25/2017.  I literally practiced hot yoga until I was having contractions and I resumed my practice 4 1/2 weeks post-partum.

 

As my pregnancy progressed I had to modify some postures simply because my belly was in the way and my hips were shifting.  Practicing helped keep me energized and flexible and of course, sweating is so therapeutic for ridding the body of toxins.  The awesome teachers at the Original Hot Yoga Center in Voorhees NJ are very knowledgable and supportive and they guided me throughout this time.  The heat was never an issue and I never had to take breaks (surprisingly.)  Here’s what I learned in that 9 months.

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4-5 months pregnant
  1. Anyone can do yoga.  This school has had yogis in wheelchairs and others with serious injuries practice and they were right in the same room with everyone else.  You don’t have to be slim or flexible to practice yoga.  The yoga builds strength and flexibility and can aid in weight management.  There are forms of physical activity that are not safe to do while pregnant.  I’m fortunate I did not have to miss a beat with my routine.
  2. Starting over after giving birth and the subsequent five weeks off was a priceless learning opportunity.  I lost a lot of my strength and hence flexibility when I returned to the hot room.  Certain postures just straight up hurt a little in the beginning.  My practice is 5 1/2 years old.  I’m happy that this re-establishment of my practice happened at a time when I could appreciate the gift of starting from scratch with the knowledge of the alignment and progressions of the postures and the wisdom to know I could not bounce back and to be okay with that.  I was grateful  for this and to be able to just sweat.  I was also content with not being able to bust out cool looking postures.  There was comfort in being surrounded by the yoga community that shared this phase in my life because they saw the stages my body and practice went through.  I wonder if I was surrounded by strangers if I would secretly wish they knew I just had a baby and that’s why I can’t do Dandayamana Janushirasana like I used to.
  3. Yoga is more than physical postures.  It’s a state of mind known as the present moment; The practice of not worrying about the future or ruminating on the past.   Yoga is one’s ability to listen (in more ways than one.)  You listen to the directions of your instructor, you listen to your body and you listen to the voice that tells you to try more when you feel you’re on the verge of a breakthrough.  Yoga is a connection you make with others in and out of the room.

Thank you to Jessica, the teachers and students at The Original Hot Yoga Center in Voorhees NJ!

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Pre pregnancy headstand.

 

 

Five ways to get results from a cycle class

You may be new to indoor cycling/spinning. You may have heard its a great way to burn calories. lose weight and improve your cardiovascular endurance and heart health. You may be an experienced rider who has made progress but still wants more results. One, some or all of the tips below will absolutely help you achieve your fitness goals in a cycle class.

  1. Listen to the instructor.  (The assumption is that you are being led by a certified cycle instructor.)  Obvious right?  Are you really paying attention?  Make sure your bike is adjusted properly so that you maximize power and limit your chances of injury.   Even if you like it the way you currently have it set up, if a trained instructor recommends you change your seat or handle bar position, give it a try.  It may even feel weird at first but that’s because you have had it wrong for a while. Bike set up is only one example.  Listen to what he/she tells you before during and after a class.  If you are unsure of something, ask questions.  We instructors love answering questions and helping our riders.spin teacher
  2. Actually turn up the resistance.  I could have included this in tip one but its such a common instruction that people disobey, it earned its own bullet point.  I’ll admit I have a hard time understanding why some people are so reluctant to add resistance.  If it’s too hard, you can turn the knob back to the left.  It doesn’t get stuck at ‘too hard.’  It’s not like one of those manual timers that only turn in one direction.  You won’t get stronger and burn more calories by flying the wheel around super fast and twerking (bouncing) in the saddle.   Ladies, your legs will not bulk up like a body builder.  If you have genetically thicker legs, good for you!  They will not get even bigger because you cycle with a harder resistance.  This will help strengthen them and if you lose weight, they may be trimmer.  If you want to build your legs, lifting very heavy weights will add muscle.  This is actually a good thing and still won’t make your legs huge unless you are training on a body building/competition level.  I’ve been cycling for 14 years, I have naturally slim legs and they have never gotten huge.   Honestly you are missing out on a great workout by not exploring the resistance knob.  resistance
  3. Compete with yourself.  Many studios and gyms today have bikes that give you measurements such as RPM- revolutions per minute, watts- power output based on speed and resistance, gears- resistance and MPH.  These metrics keep us honest and give you objective numbers so that you don’t have to rely solely on perceived rate of exertion.    If you spin consistently two or more times per week, you will notice you can go faster and steeper as your build strength, stamina and muscle memory.  I regularly ask my classes, “Can you go faster than last time?” and “Can you handle more resistance or increase your watts?”  Often riders tell me they covered more miles in a particular ride too.  In addition to these measurements there are other ways to challenge yourself.  Often new riders notice they can begin riding out of the saddle for longer and some people measure their heart rates and calories burned with a monitor or watch.  compete
  4. Control what you can.  So what can you control?  Quite a bit.  Yes we are busy and modern day life in the western world is quite demanding.  I found exercising in the morning was the best way to avoid conflicts.  The sacrifices are going to bed and waking up earlier and sometimes getting dressed for work at the gym.  It’s worth it to me.  You can control when you make (not find) the time to get to a class, how hard you work when you get there and how you plan your life so it happens consistently.   Don’t miss a class if you don’t have to because things you can’t control like, storms, traveling for work, sick kids etc. will afford you breaks.  You also need to have realistic expectations.  Genetics play a role in how our bodies look.  No matter how much cycling I do, I will never have a narrow waist or larger calves.  You can change a lot with diet and exercise but not everything.  IMG_1011
  5. Reward yourself with healthy meals, a spa service, nap, (so underrated) a new gym outfit or something other than junk food loaded with sugar, salt and fat.  If you are in the vicious cycle of completing a tough workout then having a burger, fries and sundae, not only are you hindering your progress, but you are setting your self up to be discouraged and creating an unhealthy habit that can be tough to beat.

The vegan GF brownie you must try

I have unsuccessfully attempted to make a vegan gluten free brownie for many years.  It’s quite the task to get the desired moist, slightly chewy texture without eggs and gluten.  The ingredients that make a difference are flax seed and dates!  The recipe is so easy too.

Warning: These are not ‘healthed up’ to the nth degree like most of my recipes! They contain coconut oil.  So if you are cleansing or trying to break a sugar addiction, do not make these!   They are great for my fellow sweet toothed folks and kids as an occasional treat.  Definition of occasional: 3-4 times per year for a party, bake sale  or birthday perhaps.

Ingredients

2 1/2 ounces unsweetened bakers chocolate

1/4 cup and 2tsp  room temp. coconut oil

15 dates

4 tbsp nut milk

2 tbsp brown rice syrup

3 tbsp flaxseed meal

4 tbsp warm water

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (I like Trader Joe’s brand as its very fine.)

1/4 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with coconut oil.
  3. Pit and soak dates for 30 minutes to soften.
  4. Combine flax meal with warm water.  Stir well and set aside so it forms a gel.  This is the ‘egg.’
  5. Combine chocolate  and coconut oil.  Microwave for 90 seconds  or until completely melted and stir well.
  6. Add dates, vanilla and milk to a food processor and make into a paste.
  7. Add flax ‘egg’to date paste and stir well.
  8. Add syrup to melted chocolate and oil mixture then add to date-flax mixture and stir well.
  9. Combine flour, cacao, salt  and baking soda and mix well.
  10. Combine dry mixture to wet mixture and hand mix well.  At first it may seem as if there’s too much flour but it will disappear and form in a huge glob- not a typical batter.  If you have a hard time getting the dry ingredients all moustbadd 1-2 tbsp of water.
  11. Transfer the glob into a 8×8 pan and spread evenly.
  12. Bake for 27-30 minutes.
  13. It will be very fragile while hot.  Let it cool completely before cutting.  Placing it in the fridge for a 30 minutes to chill slightly helps making cutting cleaner.

Let me know how you like it!

The Myth of Moderation

moderation

Happy Healthy 2017 Readers! One of my favorite wellness books is the Pleasure Trap by Dr. Doug Lisle. It has inspired previous blog posts. I was reading it for the second time (as I have recently bought copies to give to new clients.) This book is a must read for everyone. Yes, it promotes a plant based lifestyle (of course) but it really offers so much more by way of explaining why we crave modern foods and have become addicted to them and how they are making us sick and shortening the length and quality of our lives.

The chapter on the concept of moderation is particularly thought-provoking. He states that when trying to break bad habits in an effort to become healthier, thinking that indulging moderately in the same behaviors that led to our unwanted conditions is not productive. Many unhealthy foods, due to their processed nature are very addictive and he likens them to highly addictive drugs. Surely some one getting over a drug, alcohol or smoking addiction would not use just a little cocaine, have just one drink or smoke only one cigarette. They know that consistent abstinence is their best chance at beating the addiction.  Moderation is a healthy approach with some things in life but when we are dealing with foods that have been artificially enhanced for the purpose of making them irresistible, trying to achieve moderation (whatever that means) is simply not going to work.   See my post The Dietary Pleasure Trap: Defend yourself against the temptations of modern life. to learn more about this.

When I decided to write this entry I was worried about offending people I know well, by stating that the widely held belief that ‘everything in moderation is fine’ is not a great approach to making significant health improvements. I thought, how does one get to the point where you want to know the truth and you are willing to change your perspective? I came up with this five-step process to making permanent beneficial change. The resulting acronym is C.L.E.A.N.

CURIOSITY– You must have a desire to seek more information and want to know the facts. This is why I typically point others in the direction of educational books, articles and documentaries. Listening to my personal opinion is not convincing enough and even if it gets you thinking, finding the information on your own is so much more powerful.

LEARN– The next step is to learn. There are several wonderful books, articles, videos and films that present solid information in very interesting ways.  Do not depend on mainstream media to tell you the truth.  There are profit motives at play and I have found much of that information to be flawed. Ask questions and find the answers.

EXPLORE– Next you must experiment with this new found information and experience the benefits for yourself. After years of experimenting I have a developed a regiment that works for my lifestyle and has made me energetic, satisfied with my appearance, happy and inspired to help others.

ASSESS– After a few weeks, assess and analyze the outcomes and continue to tweak your approach and seek more information. This is critical in staying informed and hence motivated to stay on track.  In the beginning of any transition, the more reinforcement you have, the better the chance you have of sticking with it until it becomes a part of your everyday life.  Just about anyone who knows me, knows I drink a fruit and vegetable smoothie almost everyday.

NO TURNING BACK– Once you have made enough progress to see un-deniable benefits you should have developed new life long habits and the threat of relapsing is gone.

I am by no means perfect even though I have made several significant and permanent changes to my lifestyle. One huge benefit I have is that I am aware of the pleasure trap and how it works and I have accepted the philosophy that when speaking about long term and short term health, consistency is a much better plan than the ambiguous concept of being moderately unhealthy.

What is an FTP test and why is it important

ftpThe following information was summarized from an article by Peaks coaching and written by Hunter Allen a Professional cycling coach and cyclist.

Your functional threshold power, or FTP, is the maximum power (measured in watts) you can maintain through an hour’s effort without fatiguing.

Your lactate threshold  (LT) or FTP (the level of exercise intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in your blood) is a powerful predictor of your endurance performance ability. This is because, although your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) sets the upper limit to your aerobic energy production rate, it’s your LT that determines the amount of this VO2max that you can utilize for any length of time.

Your FTP tells you how well your muscles are able to match their energy supply to your energy demand, which in turn determines the fuel “mix” (i.e., carbohydrates versus fat) your muscles use and how they fatigue. Consequently, FTP(especially when expressed as power output) is the single most important physiological determinant of performance in events ranging from a 3km pursuit to a three-week stage race.

Your FTP provides a solid basis for any power meter-based training program, because your level of effort when exercising at a given intensity depends upon your power output relative to your power at FTP. When your power output exceeds your FTP, you’ll fatigue quickly. When your power output is just below FTP, you’ll be able to maintain it much longer.

Determining FTP

So how do you figure out your FTP? One way is to get laboratory testing done with blood samples. Determined this way, however, FTP is often significantly below what athletes and coaches think of as a threshold.

A much more convenient, simple, and possibly more accurate method of determining your FTP is to use data collected by your own power meter as you ride. There are a number of different ways to do this, all of which provide very similar estimates of FTP. I think the best way to do it is to jump on your bike and go for a ride specifically designed to find your threshold.

The Threshold Test

Your goal in this test is to average the highest watts possible for a lengthy period of time. (Hint: When you get to the main effort, make sure to pace yourself so that you don’t tire too quickly.)

The ride is laid out as follows:

  1. 5-10 minute warm up
  2. Opener with three 30sec intervals at lactate threshold.
  3. Two steady tempo effort drills.
  4. Recovery
  5. 20 min FTP test (your highest sustainable effort for a 20 min time trial)
  6. Three 20s hard intervals
  7. Cool down.

The purpose of the drills in steps 1-3 is to open up the legs for the test, and second, to measure your ability to produce watts in the VO2max power zone. This effort also helps to dispense the “freshness” that always exists at the beginning of a ride; your next effort will produce power that is more likely to be truly representative of your FTP.

Your goal in the main portion of the test (the 20-minute segment) is to produce the highest average watts possible over the entire time. The test doesn’t work if you start out too hard and suddenly run out of energy, because you won’t be able to produce your true maximal, steady-state power. It’s always better to start out in the first two minutes a little under what you believe to be your FTP, build up along the way, and then ride at your maximum level in the last three minutes.

Now that you’ve done the test and downloaded your data, find your average power from the entire 20-minute effort. Take this number and subtract 5% percent from it. The result is your functional threshold wattage value. For example, if you averaged 300 watts during the 20-minute time trial, 5% of 300 (300 x 0.05) is 15, and 300 minus 15 is 285. Your FTP is 285 watts.

The reason for subtracting 5% from your average watts during the 20-minute test is that your true FTP is the highest average power you can maintain for sixty minutes. Most athletes have a hard time putting out maximal effort for sixty minutes, however, and those who can learn very quickly that a sixty-minute time trial is not much fun. I’ve found that twenty minutes is a more realistic time frame. It’s obviously a shorter time period, however, and it incorporates more of the athlete’s anaerobic capacity, which skews the wattage data by about 5% over a sixty-minute effort. By subtracting that 5%, you end up with a wattage number that should be very close to your true FTP.

Avoid strenuous exercise 48 before the test so your legs and lungs are fresh and well rested for an accurate test.

Ready? Go! What’s your FTP?

Beet Citrus Smoothie

Here’s a green smoothie that’s actually RED!  Why am I so exited about sharing this?

  • It’s a super healthy and hearty beverage containing beets.  Beets provide several nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants and phytonutrients.  Some experts say the betacyanin that gives beets their red color is a potent cancer fighter.
  • It’s a gorgeous red color that may be more appealing to those who do not like the look of a green drink.
  • Greens are in it so technically it’s a green smoothie incognito.
  • It’s a filling beverage perfect for a snack or meal substitute during a cleanse.

Here’s the recipe adopted and modified from Andrew Raposo’s Flat Belly program.

2 cups water

3 oz raw spinach

2 small to medium oranges (peeled and cut into smaller pieces)

2 small beets (peeled and chopped in fours)

1 apple (chopped)

1 large or 2 small bananas

1 tbsp chia seeds

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 inch ginger root

1 tsp cinnamon powder

This makes 2-3 servings. Blend in a high powered blender until smooth.  It tastes as good as it looks even if you think you don’t like beets.