March 23, 2012

How can you know what works?

by Zen Gray

I love “before” and “after” pics, don’t you?

Jennifer Hudson before and after.

Personally, I think Jennifer Hudson looks stunning either way but her weight loss is definitely impressive. And how did she go from a size 16 to a size 6 after having a baby? She worked out with a trainer (Harley Pasternak) and learned portion control (Weight Watchers) —  a pretty solid weight-loss strategy.

I’ve tried many diets, exercise routines and supplements over the years and here’s how I’d sum up a few of the diets (exercise and supplements to be reviewed in future blogs):

Atkins -Low carb, no fat restriction, works fast, makes you a little crazy and you smell. Must maintain a low carb lifestyle and doesn’t allow for deviation, vacation or holiday eating. Even the carbs on the “maintenance” phase seem too low for anyone who exercises, but it does say you can adjust carb intake based on your activity level. Lots of Atkins food products with chemicals and sugar alcohols out there. (My stomach reacts poorly to sugar substitutes.)  Not sustainable.

Zone Diet – Low carb but higher than Atkins, focuses on a diet of 1/3 low-fat proteins and 2/3 fruits and veggies, effective for weight loss. Sustainable – and there are food delivery services using the zone philosophy so if you can afford it, it’s a good choice.

South Beach – Very similar to Zone Diet, also created by a doctor, controls cellular inflammation and hormonal response in the body using three phases of carbohydrate intake (you get the most carbs on the phase 3 maintenance part of the diet). It works.

Weight Watchers – I haven’t tried this personally, but my clients that do WW and train with me at least two times per week see great results. I hear they have several plans available but essentially you assign “points” to your food and you’re allowed a certain number of points per day. I believe their philosophy used to be purely calorie-based, but I’m happy to hear that they now allocate points to foods based on the protein-carb-fat ratios and nutrient content. I love that they are community-based and you can have weekly check-ins to help stay accountable. Clearly, Weight Watchers works (see Jennifer Hudson above).

Perricone Diet – A diet created by an anti-aging specialist and dermatologist. It’s all about decreasing inflammation and there are loads of high-priced skin care products to accompany this diet philosophy. I tried the diet AND the products and I lost weight but the products had too much oil in there for me as I was still under 30 at the time and my skin probably wasn’t as dry as most aging skin. Expensive but effective and if I didn’t already love my skin care lines (Arbonne and Kiehls), I’d try it again since I’ve been 29 for over ten years now.

Lean Cuisine – If this is your go-to diet food and it works for you, then great. However, the only benefit I see to these frozen meals are portion/calorie control. Almost all of the choices have wheat in them but they are pretty tasty. Doesn’t help if you’re trying to control hormonal response (i.e. not eating too many carbs). Not great if you’re trying to back off on wheat (gluten) or dairy, but certainly better than a Big Mac. I’ve noticed a lot of sodium in these and hard-to-pronounce ingredients, too. OK, if you just need to replace your usual large portion and/or fast food lunch.

Eat Right For Your Blood Type: This diet takes a more evolutionary perspective to eating: your blood type determines what foods are absorbed best by your body. Since I’m Type O (the oldest blood type – “the Hunter”), I’m supposed to eat plenty of lean meat, vegetables and fruits but avoid dairy and grains since those didn’t become a human staple until agriculture was developed. It’s kind of fascinating and I enjoyed reading the book. I’ve been told to eat this way by more than one holistic doctor, however, I’ve also been told that nothing is healthier than a vegan diet. So, who is right? I don’t know. I lost weight on this diet pretty easily but I can’t vouch for the effectiveness for the other blood type recommendations.

Paleo Diet: Essentially, this diet goes along with my Type O diet but insists that everyone will do well eating lean meat, veggies, fruit and nuts. Again, no grain or dairy. It works for me.

Jillian Michaels –  Master Your Metabolism: This is a book and not necessarily a diet but Jillian has certainly changed her old tune of “calories in, calories out”– which I’m glad to hear. It’s all about balancing your hormones. She’s one of the first celebs to address the importance of eating organic food and explaining what all the “food” and chemical additives are doing to our hormones; which is causing the weight gain so prevalent in the US. Tons of helpful, yet alarming, information. And yes, it works… but it can be pretty confusing and overwhelming.

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss: I love this book, this diet and this author. This guy has made himself the guinea pig for over ten years of diet, exercise and supplementation experiments. Ferriss records all his info and gives you the basic explanation as well as the in-depth “geek” version of why his plan works. The other thing I LOVE about his plan is the once-a-week binge day… which does have rules but you do get to eat AS MUCH AS you want and WHATEVER you want. Heaven, right? I can’t tell you how much I really appreciate the mental break of eating whatever I like once a week… as long as I follow the rules exactly the other six days of the week. The trick is to NOT CHEAT during those six days and people have a tough time with that. I highly recommend this book… not only for the effectiveness but for entertainment value.

OK, I realized after I started writing this blog that I have more diets that I could write about and no doubt someone will point out another effective strategy.

However, my point is: There are many effective diet strategies! (Hooray, right?!!!)

Some diets offer a “quickstart” option (typically, super low-carb) and others are more long-lasting with more flexibility. I’ve found that if I stick to a diet for three weeks and DON’T see or feel a change, then it’s time to switch. But honestly, I’ve lost weight on almost every diet I’ve tried. The key is to see if you can stick to it.

And how do you know if it’s working? Take measurements and/or check your body fat percentage as well as check the scale. If you’re exercising, you’ll put on weight first before the pounds come off… and you might think that you’re not making any progress when, in fact, you’re making great progress with your fat loss.

Do you have a favorite diet plan you’d like to share? Then let’s talk, dahling.

Ok, ironically, it’s time for me to dash off to see The Hunger Games

Until next time,

~Zen

March 11, 2012

“Disabuse”

by Zen Gray

Last week I posed a bunch of questions that have been rattling around in my brain and got some feedback about which topic was most compelling.

“Should we keep questioning our choices? Or accept all we do and just move forward?”

Since I’m not omniscient, I’ve got an opinion instead of “the” answer. But I think it’s pretty sound logic to assume that no one can go back in time and make a different decision, therefore, all we can do is move forward. Now, does that mean we can’t change our mind? No. Does that mean we can’t apologize if we screw up? No. I think it simply means that all we can do is course-correct and do the best we can.

I’m taking the GRE in April because I want to get into Claremont Graduate University and get my PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology… and getting a decent grade on that exam is part of the requirement for admission. While studying for this whopper-of-a-test, I came across a word in my vocabulary flash cards: disabuse.

Disabuse means to persuade (someone) that an idea or belief is mistaken: “he quickly disabused me of my belief”, to undeceive, to free a person from deception or error.  The sample sentence they used was:

Galileo’s observations disabused scholars of the notion that the sun revolved around the Earth.

I bet that was a fun discussion for Galileo. Actually, I know it wasn’t because the Roman Catholic Church forced him to stand trial for his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun and he ultimately died under house arrest after nine years of imprisonment.

OK, what’s my point? My point is that when it comes to love or weight-loss, we don’t have to have such drastic consequences when we try to make things right.

Did you hurt someone’s feelings? Then apologize and ask what you can do to make the situation better.

Did you eat a box of Krispy Kremes? Then drink some water, make a plan for tomorrow, get some rest, and stick with your plan to eat better and exercise.

Is it always that simple? Probably not. But chances are you won’t be killed or incarcerated for your course-correction. (I could be wrong, though, perhaps you deserve some hard time.)

But I know that when it comes to weight loss, NOT changing course could lead to some serious consequences like self-loathing, hiding from the world, heart disease, diabetes, and the death of life as well as the death of one’s dreams.

Disabuse yourself from the idea that you can’t change…. because you can.

Galileo should have it so good.

March 4, 2012

Pick A Topic

by Zen Gray

Zen Gray asking questions?Since I took a little hiatus from my blog, I keep thinking about what I should write next. So much has happened and I’ve got so many topics and questions to choose from. My list looks something like this:

1. Pre-wedding and post-wedding habits and observations.

2. Holiday family stress and the escape tactics I’ve used.

3. Recognizing my personal weight gain/weight loss habits in my significant relationships.

4. Feeling stagnant and getting fatter.

5. Getting psyched up for “the diet” and how it affects my husband, friends and family.

6. Renewal of faith in exercise.

7. The importance of keeping in the right heart-rate zones.

8. Jumping from one diet philosophy to the next.

9. How can you know what works? How long do you give a program before you determine it’s not right for you?

10. When tragedy strikes, how do we comfort ourselves?

11. When should you go with the flow and when should you MAKE things happen?

12. Should we keep questioning our choices? Or accept all we do and just move forward?

13. Rituals. Morning time, daytime, before bed. How important are they?

14. How hard should we try for a baby? What will THAT do to me, my body, my career, my life, my relationship?

15. Are these even the right questions?

See what I mean? There’s a lot of stuff rolling around my brain. And this is just a SHORT list.

I’m trying to dedicate at least one hour a week to blogging right now since I’ve decided to apply for a PhD in Positive Psychology (HOW COOL IS THAT?!!!! RIGHT???!!!) and I have to study for the GRE now, on top of doing my taxes, teaching group fitness and of course personal training and my freelance writing gigs. Yeah, yeah, Gray… you’re so busy. Pffft. I just need to dedicate some time ON MY CALENDAR to writing my blog and I’ll do it. The calendar really is a magical thing when used properly.

OK, that’s it for today since I have to teach a 6:30am spin class tomorrow morning. I’ll have to explore some of those ideas a little more next time… but would love it if I got some feedback about what would interest YOU.

Love and thanks,

~Zen

 

 

February 25, 2012

Hello Again!

by Zen Gray

Image

So, like many people, I’ve had a lot to do lately. It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog because I’ve been freelance writing for Vital Juice but also… I got married.

“Married?” asked Jake Ryan.

“Married.” declared Long Duck Dong.

“Married?!!!” Jake asked again incredulously.

“Yeah… MARRIED!!!” Dong bellowed while closing the door. “Sheesh!”

Yep, I’m a married woman. I must also point out that this is the longest (continuous) relationship I’ve had since I started my awkward dating career back in high school. Since saying, “I do,” I’ve come to realize many things about my relationship patterns that I will happily share (in future blogs) because I think they aptly pertain to love and fat.

I look forward to once again reporting my observations and discussing our opinions on the matter.

Until then… a happy wedding shot!

~Zen

Zen Gray gets married

June 8, 2011

The Comfort Cocoon

by Zen Gray

woman wrapped up in blanketAt some point, every woman I know has wrapped herself up in a blanket to escape from the world. The “blanket” can include Godiva chocolates, Nutella, pizza, Jane Austen (or in my case Harry Potter), romantic comedies, work, sex, drugs or a multitude of hedonistic distractions.

When clients first contact me, often they are just emerging from their comfort cocoon of choice. As I have dabbled in some of the above indulgences, I can recognize (and appreciate) the phase for what it was: hiding from some kind of pain. I think some people are so good at hiding from their pain, though, that they accept the behavior as “normal” and lose themselves. Fear and discomfort (from too much of a good thing) are typically the catalyst for finally reaching out and asking for help. Perhaps it was a heart attack, a Type II Diabetes diagnoses, a divorce, or a cruel remark about their body fat that finally pushes them into action. Whatever it is, typically the POSSIBILITY of NOT CHANGING gets too painful so they finally make the call.

I don’t know if I have ever been clinically depressed, but I’ve had my moments when the world felt like it was crashing down on me and all I could see was a bleak future. Instead of facing my problems, I retreat for a while. I take time to regroup because I can’t face the breakup or the failure or the bills, etc. I’m not going to beat myself up for doing it either. It’s just what I do. But I’ve gotten a lot better at being aware of when I’m doing it so I can get out of the pain faster. Often it’s a matter of calling upon my friends and family and if that’s not working, I’ll find a new support system. I’ll also write in my journal every day and take time to be grateful for wonderful things in my life. That’s the strategy that helps me.

So I have the utmost compassion for another person who is fumbling around in a painful place. If that’s you… you’re not alone. I’ve been there, too. And mostly, you’ll see a huge smile on my face even if I’m in pain. (I bet you have no idea what that’s like, huh?)

Here’s how I look at it: most people are NOT brave enough to look closely at their lives and see what they really want… what they’d really like to change. They numb themselves with fleeting comfort (sometimes for years, sometimes until they die). But if you’re brave enough to examine what you really want out of life, there are people out there… like me… that will help you try to get it.

One thing I realized, though, is that life is NOT about being comfortable. It’s about doing things that excite you. In fact, I can’t think of a single triumph I’ve ever had that didn’t go hand-in-hand with quite a bit of discomfort: doing stand-up comedy for the first time, walking across fourteen feet of hot coals, chucking my six figure advertising career for one in fitness, or dating for twenty years before finally meeting my fiancé.

I think Timothy Ferriss, one of my favorite authors, said it best: “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

And some of those conversations are with yourself.

Sending you love,

~Zen

 

June 2, 2011

Sabotage

by Zen Gray
Sabotage

Self Sabotage, Stivers Cartoons

Once again, a client came to me in tears saying that her spouse kept feeding her bread, rice, pasta and dessert when she was deliberately trying to cut back on refined carbohydrates. I had to share this very surprising and very real fact:

People closest to you are most likely to sabotage your weight-loss efforts!

Here’s the kicker, though…. it’s because they love you so much that you’re scaring them. They’re worried that you will get all new habits that don’t include them… or that you’re making them wrong for their lifestyle choices. They’re scared that you’re going to change and YOU WON’T LOVE THEM ANYMORE.

So, if you’re having trouble with your spouse or partner, your mom, your sister, your best friend, etc. and they don’t seem to be on board your new healthy program — take a moment to tell them that you love and appreciate them and that you NEED their help to succeed. ASK them for their help. SHARE with them what your new future will look like — with the healthier version of you AND THEM in it.

If you happen to be dealing with a saboteur yourself, please try out this strategy and let me know what happens.

To your health!

~Z

May 31, 2011

Post-holiday Eating

by Zen Gray

Memorial DaySince yesterday was Memorial Day, most people spent the weekend eating BBQ and visiting family and friends.

It’s no secret that the first day returning from vacation is usually the toughest day to get back on track with good habits. But I find that the sooner I jump back in with healthful eating and a quick workout, the better I feel and the easier it is to shed a couple “happy pounds”.

Certainly I’ve had the urge to prolong my holiday with another treat because I want to hold onto the sugary-haze of the last couple days… but I’ve got to suck it up and go for the spinach omelet instead of the strawberry waffle now. Like anyone, I can add 5-10 pounds in a weekend of unchecked eating. There’s a big difference between having just one cheat day as opposed to two or three.

Personally, I planned for one cheat day over the weekend. One of my clients had suggested we go to the Getty for the 18th Century Parisian exhibit and wear girlie hats and have a lunch-time picnic with Nicoise, bread, cheese, wine, fresh cherries and raspberries and the wholeZen Gray in flowered hat at The Getty Parisian Exhibit works.  Since my fiance is such a good sport, he came along to help carry all the baskets and get immersed in estrogen.  I think I may have gotten a little high on brie and date cake in this picture, actually.  (Also, the exhibit was gorgeous and if you’re in LA, you can go see it until August 7th: the dresses, jewelry, artwork, furniture and games, etc. of that era.) After the exhibit, we enjoyed our favorite chocolate butter cream cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and THEN some macaroni & cheese deliciousness for dinner. It was a pretty big cheat day before we sank into our carb-induced comas.

But then Sunday rolled around and old friends were in from out of town. We HAD to meet them for brunch, of course, and since they suggested eating at The Griddle on Sunset, we waited over an hour for a table. By that time, I was starving and just as in most cases when I’m starving… I ordered what I was craving instead of what healthy. (Plus it’s easy to do if you’ve ever devoured a pancake, waffle or french toast at The Griddle… omg… so delicious.) And once I open the flood gates at breakfast, the whole day is usually shot. So, I decided to just enjoy myself and start fresh the next day.

One thing I was really proud of was that we FINALLY decided to start cooking on the grill my brother and his wife gave us for Christmas. It’s been sitting out on the patio for ages with various grilling accoutrements because neither David nor I have ever grilled before. My brother told us to get this charcoal-starter-thingy so we wouldn’t have to use lighter fluid. And I loved the idea but when we went to implement lighting the fire, we just kind of looked at each other and blinked.

“Do you know how this goes?”
“Uh… put the newspaper underneath it, I guess.”
“Do I stick the paper in the holes and light it like a wick?”
I shrugged.

Grown adults were soon staring at each other and engulfed in smoke and our kind neighbors were nice enough to just close their patio doors without comment. But we would not be discouraged! Soon, my healthy red pepper, onion, and tomato kabobs, asparagus and turkey Italian sausage were filling the air with tantalizing aromas. And shortly thereafter, David triumphantly carried in the delectable-looking plate back inside along with the 2 1/2 foot tongs. (Is that really necessary? Are my meager foot-long stove top utensils hopelessly inadequate?) However, I’m thinking perhaps just one small meal is too little for charcoal grilling. David kept checking the coals before we went off to bed and I think they might just now be cooling off this morning…

grilled vegetablesI have decided to call this past weekend a success because we feasted on a great holiday bounce-back meal AND learned to do something new that had been pushed aside for months. It’s funny how just a little win can motivate me to continue the momentum for the coming week. Lots of canned legumes, tuna, chicken and veggies await to be savored. I know that my couple “off” days will force me to work a little harder this week, but I’m willing to put in the extra work to get back on track as long as healthy eating is delicious in it’s own way, too. And grilling those vegetables and lean protein was a VERY yummy way to enjoy my “on” days again.

Enjoy your week!
~Z

May 10, 2011

Getting Into a Groove

by Zen Gray
Madonna's "Into the Groove"

Madonna's iconic "Get Into the Groove" look

Madonna would be so proud of us. After living together for six months, my fiance and I have really gotten into a groove. We time our morning rituals nicely so that while I’m getting ready, he’s feeding the dog and taking her outside. I grab my protein shake and run off to the gym and then the house is free for David to get dressed and ready for work, too. When he comes home, I’m typically making a protein-packed dinner for the two of us and then we either take the dog to the park or head to the gym together before watching a movie and going to bed. Thursday nights are open for fun activities like dancing or karaoke or whatever else we choose.

Saturdays are typically spent working on career-improvement things — new certifications, classes or books for me and music-related research and rehearsals for David. Sundays are easy-going family days as well as grocery shopping/prep days for the week ahead.

Sundays are typically our cheat/binge-days, too, so I really look forward to them. Every time I crave something sugary during the week, it’s easier to triumph over the urge to blow my diet by writing down a list of all the food that I COULD eat on Sunday. (Even though once I get there, I don’t always have those cravings anymore.)

It’s a nice healthy groove we’re in… but I understand that sometimes a groove could be more of a “rut” for some people.

I’ve certainly had relationships where we’d have dessert every day and our habit would just be to complain that “we shouldn’t have” after we ate it. Then we’d do a little self-loathing, finger pointing and do it again the next day. Sound familiar? Or instead of going to the gym together or being active, we’d only hang out on the couch… secretly resenting the other person for not getting up off their ass and coming up with something more exciting. Fat and bored. Fun.

When clients come to me overweight and unhappy, one of the first things I do is ask them to describe a typical workday… from waking up to going to bed: all activity, food, work and relationship stuff. It all matters because all of those things affect the body. We discuss how we could make some small changes and try to adopt new habits every week… not go for the complete overhaul on Day One. I know I’d fail if I tried to make too many changes at one time so I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be able to do it either.

If your groove feels more like a rut, then take a look at one entire workday over the last week. See where you can make small changes:

  • Can you get more sleep?
  • Can you start your day with a better breakfast?
  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • Do you enjoy your job? Is there anything you can do to improve it?
  • Do you have healthy, supportive co-workers?
  • Do you need workout buddies?
  • Are you eating balanced meals every 3-4 hours?
  • Are you addicted to caffeine?
  • Is your home a place that feels rejuvenating?
  • Are you active with your loved ones?
  • Do you take time to play?
  • Are you taking steps to improve your life or are you coasting and hoping?

I think that if you’re not excited about SOMETHING, then you’ll be depressed about everything. One of the first places to start making a change, is to create ANY vision that sparks some passion in you and start working toward it. Whether it’s your work, your partner, your family, or your dreams… start tracking SOMETHING and the momentum will help you succeed in more areas than one.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just making one more sales call or adding one more minute to the treadmill, make today just a little better than before and soon you’ll notice you’ll be groovin’, too.

Health & Happiness,

~Zen

April 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

by Zen Gray

Happy Birthday!For the past couple years, I’ve been telling myself that I’m forty so I wouldn’t freak out when the actual day came.

Last night at 11:18am, my parents called to sing “Happy Birthday!” to me like they do every year. (It was 1:18am where they live… the exact moment I was born forty years ago.) I laughed, thanked my parents, told them I loved them and hung up. Then I turned to David and said, “I’m no longer thirty-something…” and my eyes began to tear up.

I’m not sure why I got emotional. Perhaps it’s because I thought my life would be very different. I remember putting “over the hill” signs on our front lawn when my dad turned forty. He was so old! I don’t feel old at all. And I always thought I’d have the house and kids by now, too. It’s just different than I thought… but in many ways, my life is so much better than I expected.

I have a wonderful fiance who loves me, makes me laugh, goes dancing with me and supports me. We have an amazing puppy that is so sweet, happy, obedient and house trained. My career is fulfilling and full of opportunities. My friends and family are healthy and I’m incredibly lucky to live someplace beautiful and sunny most of the year. Life’s pretty great… so what’s with the water works?

It’s no secret that most women like to hide their age. We certainly want to look and feel as young as possible. Perhaps it’s the Hollywood thing, too. Most actresses I know lie about their age simply because it could help their chances of getting a killer role. I get it.

Demi over 40 looks gorgeous!

But wouldn’t it be great if we all fessed up and said, “Hey, this is what forty looks like!” I know plenty of hot sixty-year-olds so I know it’s possible to have a great ass no matter how old I get. Plus, I’m thankful for all the laser advancements and cosmetic beauty pioneers like Cher and Demi. I’m not sayin’ I’m getting some work done… I’m just happy there are lots of options out there for the possibility of a quick nip n’ tuck if I so choose.

Now that I think about it, when I blow out my candles today I might just end up thinking “Thank You!” instead of making a wish.

Well, I’ve got to get ready for the incredibly sophisticated day I have planned… I’m off to Disneyland!

Wishing YOU a wonderful day full of love,

~Zen

Miley and Cher both look hot.

Miley and Cher both look hot.

April 26, 2011

Gallstone (& Kidney Stone) Cleanse Videos

by Zen Gray
April 24, 2011

HAPPY EASTER!

by Zen Gray

Happy Easter!  Most people who celebrate Easter will enjoy a little candy today and I think that’s totally fine. However, I think it’s important to have lean protein and veggies in the house to start the day off right tomorrow.

David and I have already taken puppy to the dog park this morning and walked to Starbucks to get a chocolate croissant. We’re getting together with family later and I’m pretty sure that ham and deviled eggs will be on the menu. I’ve tried to drink lots of water today and I’ve already got the eggs, green powder, chicken breasts and broccoli ready for tomorrow so we’re back on the health wagon immediately. A little planning always helps me from going astray for too long.

Along those lines, I just got a book from Amazon yesterday and I’m so excited to read it: Tim Ferriss’s “The Four Hour Body”. I’m so impressed with his willingness to use himself as a guinea pig for all of his experiments and the guy’s just a genius. I’m sure he’ll have some great ideas and it looks like he’s consulted with a ton of doctors and other health experts.  The unresponsiveness of my fitness coach is frustrating me so I’m using this book at as catalyst to find new guidance and inspiration.

Looks like we’re off to the egg hunt… HAPPY EASTER!four hour body

April 21, 2011

Gallbladder Cleanse – Follow Up

by Zen Gray

I thought I should add one more blog entry to the Gallbladder Cleanse because I saw a big difference on the 5th day — the day AFTER I finished the cleanse. I woke up and drank 16oz water, worked out for an hour and drank another 16oz of water before planning to eat breakfast. Almost immediately, I had to boogie over to the bathroom where I noticed a VERY large quantity of stuff (albeit not gemstones) eliminated. Whoa… Harry Winston!!!

In case you haven’t read any of my blogs before, here is a picture of what gallstones look like (not mine):

Many people have these building up inside of them before they ever show symptoms or pain. I know I’ve eaten plenty of fatty foods in my day and I’m happy to do a cleanse JUST IN CASE I could POSSIBLY prevent passing one of these suckers. They’re usually made up of cholesterol, calcium salts and bile pigments and as you can see, they can get quite large.

So, I just had to add my day-after findings because I thought it was significant to keep seeing results even after I finished the cleanse. My sinuses are clearing up, too, so whatever was bothering me was temporary, I guess. And yeah… the tummy is nice and flat after that whole experience. An easy, delicious and cost-effective cleanse even if I only did an ounce of prevention. Just my opinion :)

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have — or contact Dr. Foster on her website discussion board at www.DrFostersEssentials.com.

April 20, 2011

Gallbladder Cleanse – Day 4

by Zen Gray

Last day of the cleanse and I’ve noticed a few things:

  1. My face is stuffy again. (I’m not sure if that’s me getting sick or if it has something to do with the cleanse.)
  2. Legs feel better… no more aching.
  3. Chin and jawline are breaking out. (So are David’s.)
  4. Energy level is pretty good until I do a class… then I’m wiped out.
  5. I’ve lost 2.5 pounds.
  6. I’m not having any sugar cravings.

I have to admit that this was an easier cleanse and I’m sure it’s because we didn’t juice the entire time. Mostly we had the apple juice concoction but we also ate some delicious vegan food from a restaurant around the corner and had some organic fruit. I think the natural sugar from the fruit could be contributing to a sinus infection, if that’s what it is. Perhaps the timing of this cleanse was a little off because I couldn’t tell if I had an allergy or a cold… and then David got sick, too. It’s unclear whether our symptoms are from the cleanse but nothing is too severe so I’m OK with it. I’m confident that I’ll feel better in a day or two. no sugar policy

I’m VERY excited that I’m not having any sugar cravings. (For those of you that have read prior blogs, you know that refined sugar is my vice.) I’m sure it’s because I have been getting natural sugars (fructose) from the apple juice and the fresh fruit we’ve eaten but usually I’ll crave candy and chocolate anyway. I noticed today that the Easter candy aisle at the store had very little affect on me — which is a first. I’m going to try to continue a “no refined sugar” policy even after this cleanse and even on my cheat hour… which we didn’t do this weekend.

I’ve got to edit and post the video blogs that go along with this cleanse tonight… so stay tuned for those. Our Day 4 is the same as Day 3 — except I forgot to take the colon detox caps at noon so that’s probably why my face is breaking out (and maybe why I’m stuffy, too).  Colon Detox caps are supposed to absorb toxins in the intestines so crap isn’t floating around your bloodstream or trying to get eliminated through the skin (like the pretty pimples on my face). I think I’ll up my dosage because I’m probably detoxing a little more on Day 4 than I was before.

One more follow-up tomorrow!

April 19, 2011

Gallbladder Cleanse – Day 3

by Zen Gray

Apparently, I’ve been spelling “Gallbladder” wrong… making it two words when it’s just one. Oops.

Anyway, just wanted to do a little report on Day 3 of the cleanse. My energy level was great all day until after I taught a spin class. I think I just didn’t have enough calories in me although I ate an apple before jumping on the bike. The vegan meal afterward was so satisfying, though, that I felt better immediately after eating. David continued feeling achy yesterday although he said he felt a little better. He can’t tell whether it was because he was sick or if his symptoms were from the cleanse.

On a side note, one of my clients told me yesterday that Gloria Vanderbilt had her gallbladder removed and her gallstones made into a necklace. I’ve been searching for a picture of that this morning, but I can’t find anything on Google to back that up. I have, however, found several pictures of gallstone jewelry that you can get from China. Weird, cool or gross? All of the above, I guess. But the green stones do look pretty, right?

black gallstone neckalcegallstone necklace2

green gallstones

I haven’t been looking too closely to see what’s coming out… but I’m pretty sure I’d notice if sparkly green gems popped out of my butt. I’ve read some accounts of people “blasting” their stool to check out the stones or to have them sent off to be analyzed. I get it, but I’m not that interested in “panning for gold” in my toilet at this point. Perhaps if I were in pain, then I’d be more motivated, but I’m just not.

Still continuing with Colon Detox caps first thing in the morning, then drinking a 1/2 quart of the fresh organic apple juice/tea/Stone Buster concoction throughout the day. Had an apple and a vegan dinner but other than that… I just drank distilled water and took two Vibrant Colon pills with dinner. I only took one dose of Peaceful Nerves all day, too.

David and I were discussing how many people we knew that have had their gallbladders removed and how wrong it seems that everyone is SO YOUNG! Many people have commented on my facebook page that they’ve had their gallbladders removed after giving birth, that birth control pills were a factor, that it was hereditary or that they just ate too many pizzas and burgers. And perhaps this cleanse isn’t enough to save someone’s gallbladder if it’s already full of stones — but for about $100, I’m totally willing to try an ounce of prevention even if it only has a slight chance of helping. Plus Dr. Foster is adamant that cleansing has healed so many of her patients. Why wouldn’t I try this? It’s only 4 days out of my life, it tastes good, and I’m feeling pretty good throughout the process. I’m guessing it’s a lot easier than going through gallbladder surgery and costs a lot less.

Just one more day to go!

April 17, 2011

Gall Bladder Cleanse – Day Two

by Zen Gray

The Vegan JointToday felt better than yesterday – for me. David’s all achy today but I feel fine. We tried this vegan restaurant around the corner called The Vegan Joint and it was pretty awesome. I had tofu tacos and he had a pepper steak wrap made from tofu. I think we were thrilled NOT to be ONLY juicing during this cleanse so that’s why I’m feeling good. The detox can’t be as strong when not juicing… but I’m ok with that. Obviously, it’s still doing something because we’re tired and sleeping a lot this weekend — although, I woke up early this morning to help teach a bootcamp on the beach and I felt energized and alert. (Awesome group, too — about 100 participants this morning!)

We spent the rest of the day just relaxing on the couch and watching movies. (I had to get the latest Harry Potter DVD this weekend. Don’t judge me… I love it.) We had to get more cold pressed organic apple juice, but Whole Foods only had one quart left so we’ll have to venture out again tomorrow.

Tonight, we just put the juice in the glass pitcher, added 4 tbsp of  Stone Dissolve Tea and poured half of the Stone Buster formula to sit over night. We sipped on juice today, enjoyed some tea, ate some new vegan cuisine, and of course had 6 Colon Detox caps this morning and this afternoon and took Vibrant Colon tonight. (David only takes one, I take two.) Before we go to bed, we’ll take 6 more Colon Detox pills with 16 oz of distilled water and then we’ll call it a day.

April 16, 2011

Gall Bladder Cleanse Day One

by Zen Gray

Dr. Foster's EssentialsWe’re coming up on the end of “Day One” of our gall bladder cleanse. I’ve got a slight headache but other than that, I’m feeling ok, which is great since I’ve had either a cold or some kind of allergy this week with my nasal passages all full of gunk. I also had some weird kind of achy leg thing this week and that seems to be dissipating, too. Could be a coincidence, though.

I just did a search for “gallstones” on Google and I have way more incentive to do this cleanse now than I did just moments ago. Yuck. I’m not going to post any pics of it, but if you’re curious, do that search and perhaps you’ll want to join us in doing this cleanse…

Anyway, we shot some video of our little kitchen production this morning but I’m too tired to edit it now. I promise to get that up on YouTube within the next few days. In the meantime, I’ll just describe the cleanse.

First of all you can find the instructions on Dr. Foster’s site under “Stone Buster Instructions”. We were a little confused because there are different instructions on the site for “Stone Dissolve Tea Instructions” and Dr. Foster told me to use fresh apple juice, the Stone Buster Herbal Formula AND the Stone Dissolve Tea. I’m going to have to talk to her about that later…. but I figured, “Hey, this is all herbal and she even says you can do more or less depending upon how you feel.” So, I’m just going to share how we did it today.

We bought 2 quarts cold pressed organic apple juice from Whole Foods (we’ll need to buy 2 more quarts tomorrow) and a few gallons of distilled water. We also had the following from Dr. Foster:

We woke up and took 6 colon detox caps with 16oz of water to help absorb toxins in the intestines.  Then I trained a client for an hour and when I came home, we started the production. Last night we put 1 quart of apple juice in a glass pitcher and added 8tbsp of the Stone Dissolve Tea and covered the pitcher in the fridge. By morning, some of it had spilled over the top because I’m guessing the tea expanded and displaced a little of the apple juice. A bit of a mess in the fridge so hopefully you’ll learn from my mistake and leave some room at the top of the pitcher.

We poured the apple juice/tea mixture into a large pot and brought it to a boil — then turned off the heat.  Then we dumped all 4oz of the Stone Buster Formula into the mixture and stirred it up. We added the other quart of cold apple juice since we are both doing this cleanse. So at this point, we’ve got 2 quarts of apple juice/tea/Stone Buster mixture… and we poured half of it back into the glass pitcher to use tomorrow and put it in the fridge.  The other half we put in two separate containers that we enjoyed sipping on all day.

Thank GOD this stuff is tasty. Really, it’s like warm apple cider. Love it.

We also took two full droppers of “Peaceful Nerves” and just put it under our tongues. That wasn’t so tasty but it had a weird Novocaine effect — almost instant numbing of the tongue. Peaceful Nerves is supposed to help any pain one might experience when passing either gall stones or kidney stones (this program can be used for both). Neither one of us is having any pains right now but we figured we might as well take some… just in case.

Dr. Foster says it’s best to juice for the entire 4 day program — but you can also go vegan with your food if you must eat. Well, we had to eat today and had salad with no dressing and had some popcorn at the movies tonight, but that was it besides lots of water. I’m teaching a bootcamp tomorrow so it will be interesting to see how I feel after a workout.

Oh, I’ve got to take my 2 Vibrant Colon pills right now. You’re supposed to take it with dinner and only use 1 Vibrant Colon the first day and only if you don’t notice a difference in QUANTITY when you go to the bathroom the next morning, then you increase the dosage by one more pill with dinner the next night. I’ve been taking her colon cleansing products for a few years now so I know that my dosage is 2 Vibrant Colon pills… but you might be different so start off easy. You’ll know if you took too many if you have diarrhea the next day. Trust me. Just start with one on the first night with dinner.

Then right before bed, I’m going to take 6 more colon detox caps so they absorb some of the toxins that are getting released during this cleanse. You can take anywhere from 4 to 10 colon detox caps because they just absorb crap and get it out of you… it’s not medicine that gets distributed to your body. You’ll know if you take too many because you’ll be more constipated. (Isn’t this a fun blog about elimination?)

Anyway, hope that wasn’t too graphic or gross… but sometimes you just gotta say it how it is.

G’night :)

April 15, 2011

Getting Off Track

by Zen Gray

Forgive me for not updating sooner… I took some Nyquil on Sunday night and just woke up this morning. Nyquil

And let me apologize if you’ve been waiting for the cleansing info. Not only was I a little sick this week, but David and I were planning on trying a new cleanse and we didn’t have all the stuff we needed… so it was the perfect excuse to hold off on reporting the results.

If you’ve ever read any of my facebook or myspace blogs before, you’d know that I’m a big fan of Dr. Cynthia Foster, a holistic MD that prefers to heal people with natural, herbal remedies. (She’d be really pissed if she knew I took Nyquil, by the way, so SHHHHHH!!!!!) She advised me recently that I should do a “stone dissolve” cleanse for my gall bladder because I’ve experienced some strange pains in my right side from time to time. Weird pains, too, that I couldn’t figure out because they’d start off really mild and grow stronger and then go away. She said that it was probably a gall stone passing and doing a cleanse to break up the stones wouldn’t hurt. So I offered to try it and document the process… and volunteered David as well. (Thanks, honey!)

Now that we’re all ready to go, tomorrow will be day one. It’s only a four-day cleanse but I like to start on the weekends just in case I’m detoxing too quickly and I’m too irritable to deal with clients. I didn’t think David would appreciate detoxing at his job, either, so Saturday morning is our new target time to start.

Obviously, I got off track this week. Everybody gets off track sometimes. But even though events might not go according to plan, I think it’s the COMMITMENT to getting things done that’s important.

So, don’t beat yourself up if you miss that workout or have one cookie instead of protein shake. You got off track. Just stay committed to your health and refocus as soon as you can. It’s not about being perfect… it’s about being committed.

I think that goes for everything in life: relationships, career, health. How can we possibly know all the variables in every situation that could affect us? We don’t. Life is messy. But if we focus on what we want —  the end result–  then we’re more likely to get it even if we didn’t foresee the entire journey exactly as it unfolds. Lindy Hop

On a side note, I’m feeling so much better today and it could be because David and I finally went swing dancing last night together! Dancing always lifts my spirits and I’m very happy to report that my fiance now knows how to Lindy Hop. WOO HOO!

Bring on the detox!! I’m ready!!!

April 8, 2011

Spring Cleaning

by Zen Gray

The sun comes out and you open the windows. Ahhhhhh…

Time to shake off a little dust and clean out your world.

Of course, I’m not just talking about your closets. Chances are you spent the winter months enjoying some comfort food and easing a cold with some kind of “nightime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffyhead, fever, so-you-can-rest” medicine. Not only do those habits translate into a few unwanted pounds, but also, I believe, a little bit of toxic overload. All the chemicals in processed food, pesticides on produce, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and many supplements are NOT recognized as food by the body and therefore need to be filtered out of our systems.

Thankfully, our bodies have many ways of detoxifying.  But because of the constant bombardment of crap in the air, in food, in water as well as stressful emotions (feelings are chemical, too, right?) we’ve got to help out our elimination systems a little. My favorite way to do a little spring cleaning for my body is a cleanse.

I’ve done several cleanses in my day and I’m getting ready to do another one. David is going to join me for this round (For those of you just joining my blog, David is my fiance). I think we’ll be filming our progress (or complaining) over the next few days, too. Historically, I’m a little nuts for the first two days of a cleanse because I typically juice-fast during that time so it’s more potent. And anyone that has tried a juice-fast knows that the first two days are usually the worst because you crave food — CHEWING food, specifically.

spring cleaning And before I start getting some people all riled up, let me just say that I don’t believe that all cleanses are equal and I don’t believe that they’re all safe, either. I’ll include some details to my cleanse over the next few days but for now let me just give some generic direction.

If the idea of cleansing is intriguing to you in any way, just start by eating raw organic fruits and vegetables for 3-4 days along with about a gallon of water daily (or as close as you can get to a gallon).  If your diet has a lot of highly processed foods, that small change alone could help clear out some garbage and you’ll probably lose a few pounds, too. Just think of all that fiber as scrubbing you from the inside out.

If you want to be more hardcore than that… then stay tuned. :)

April 6, 2011

Options

by Zen Gray

Thankfully, there are always options.

decisions

We can choose to be pissed at people that play unfairly… or we can let it go and focus on other opportunities. I’ve seen many people choose to hold onto anger and bitterness for years only to have it cause health problems. It’s like that quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t be a grudge-holder. It’s exhausting and I’m too perky for that.

David and I had a great workout on Monday night and really let go of the wedding contest disappointment. We decided instead to focus on the options that we have now. We can have this wedding any day we want, any where we want and have as many (or as few) as we want. We can do a beach wedding where none of the guests wear shoes. We could do a party in a mountain lodge where everyone wears pajamas and we have hot cocoa and s’mores. We can do a destination wedding or a get married during a little cruise. Or Vegas! And I can pick a dress to wear from any designer I like! Lots of ideas sound fun to me and I’m not attached to any of them.

I think it’s the same for exercise. If someone gave you one routine and said, “This is it. Don’t deviate. Go!” You might find it a little tedious and restrictive. But when you explore all the fun classes and equipment and routines available to you, you’ll enjoy mixing it up so much more! Sometimes I want to power through and lift as hard as I can. Sometimes I want to just go for a long walk and not kill myself over the intensity. Sometimes, I want to do a circuit with David. Sometimes I want to just crank up my cardio and zone out with my ipod. Sometimes I want to go dancing. Sometimes I just try to keep up with my puppy (which we’ve decided is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and German Shepherd mix and LOVES to play for hours or sprint like she’s on a lion hunt).

I think what’s important is that we recognize that there are many paths to achieve the same goal but much of our journey depends upon our attitude. Lots of ways to get married and lots of ways to get healthy!  We can choose to enjoy the triumphs or we can bitch about inconveniences. (Although, I think that acknowledging my pissed-off feelings for a moment is fine as long as I don’t wallow in them for too long.)

So go forth and frolic in your favorite way… and I’ll keep you posted on the wedding ideas. :)

 

April 4, 2011

Meh.

by Zen Gray

We didn’t win the wedding… and I’m really ok with that.Absolut Bullshit

What I’m NOT ok with is that they never posted the voting numbers and apparently we didn’t even come in the “Top 5″ number of votes?

*cough*

Lame.

 
Anyway, we would have really liked to have had a big wedding with tons of friends and family but it’s most likely going to be a small one now. But, my best friend had a small wedding and it’s still one of my favorites so I’m sure it will be awesome either way.

Could we still figure out how to have a big wedding if we wanted? Probably. But like anything, David and I weigh the options, “Hmmm…  a huge party or a down payment on a house?” In every scenario, the house payment wins.

But it got me thinking about weighing the options.

“Do I get more sleep or do I work out this morning?”

“Do I eat fast food or go hungry until I can get access to a healthier lunch?”

“Do I satisfy my craving or give in and start over tomorrow?”

I think we’re all faced with these choices constantly and I have to admit giving into sleep, fast food and sugar cravings on more than one occasion. And sometimes, like yesterday, I’m just bummed out and want a little comfort food.  (Because dammit… Nutella on a spoon was necessary to ease my disappointment after that bogus wedding contest result.)

But you know what I said to myself before I even put that chocolately goodness to my lips?

“OK. I’m going to enjoy this. And then tomorrow, I’m working out in the morning with my class AND I’m working out with David when he gets home from work. PLUS, I’m implementing a “no sugar in the house” rule until my fitness contest is over. My weekly cheat hour will remain in place but it will be sugar-free until then.”

Will I be perfect until the end of July when I compete? Probably not. But having a plan is better than none, and enjoying a treat now and then is better than “eating around the craving” by eating everything BUT the yummy tidbit that I really want.

So, just remember when you’re making a choice between the margarita and the guacamole, that delicious mile-high sandwich or the chips, the mac n’ cheese or the ribeye, or the all-you-can-eat pancake special; it’s just one choice and it’s just one meal and it’s just one plan to adjust your lifestyle to recover from the not-so-healthy option you might have picked.

But please… choose the option to keep TRYING to get back on track. (Even though you’d like to wallow in self-pity for a little bit first.) We’re all dealt some pretty crappy crap to deal with at times and I’m the first to condone a moment  of “Bitter, party of one!” before getting back on the bright-side bandwagon. (It’s not healthy to keep it all in. Go ahead and be pissed! But just for a bit. Let it go, ya know?)

Mae West QuoteMae West Headshot

*Sigh*

Well, David’s home so we’re off to the gym.

Have I mentioned that I’ve noticed workouts are especially powerful when I’m pissed off?

Have a great night, everyone :)

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